Nick Park, Evangelical Alliance Ireland Executive Director, has written a short book which was published this week called Who Own’s Marriage? as part of a dialogue leading up to the Same-Sex Referendum on May 22
Alongside his four chapters are contributions from a pretty wide range of other people including Atheist Ireland, LGBT activists, Christians of various perspectives (including me). I have read the core text but not the other contributions yet – copy of the book on the way.
This is what I said about the book.
To begin, I want to congratulate Nick Park on his initiative, clarity and courage in getting this conversation going about ‘Who Owns Marriage?’ There have been probably millions of words written about Christianity, homosexuality and same-sex marriage – many generating more heat than light or simply repeating already well-rehearsed positions. Nick writes with an all-too-rare capacity for critical self-reflection about his own community. He also demonstrates a keen understanding of the LGBT experience of exclusion and marginalisation combined with sharp insights into the peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of Irish culture and politics. If all contributions to this debate mirrored such attitudes it would be a much less hostile and polarised discussion.
I use the word ‘courage’ because he has even invited contributors like me from a wide range of perspectives to comment publicly on what he has written! In the process he risks getting ‘shot at’ from both ‘sides’.
On the one hand, many Christians still have a default assumption, shaped by centuries of Christendom and our recent experience of ‘Catholic Ireland’, that it is the state’s duty to legislate in accordance with their moral intuitions. Nick rightly unpacks and questions that assumption while developing proposals that to some Christians will seem like going in the wrong direction.
On the other hand, he is not afraid of articulating a Christian understanding of sex and sexuality that does not recoil from using words like sin.
It is this sort of robust conversation that helps get beyond easy stereotypes and hidden assumptions. Whether you agree with everything he says (which is unlikely given how fractious this issue has become) I believe that we should all be grateful to Nick for how clearly he has explained the complex range of religious and political issues around the same-sex marriage Referendum while simultaneously giving readers an honest and authentic look into how evangelical Christians are wrestling with those issues. As a result, both Christians within the evangelical spectrum and others to whom the word ‘evangelical’ may be little more than shorthand for ‘fundamentalist’ will profit from reading and engaging with this book.
I’ll post my contributions later and hopefully some engagement with the other contributions when I’ve read them.
Comments, as ever, welcome.