Monday, 17 December 2012

"With kind regards..."

Following on from my letter in the Portsmouth News, I received the following email in my inbox at work:
I read your letter in the 'News' regarding the recent proposal to redefine marriage, which the Prime minister is supporting.

I am in my early 60s a former nurse and I have been married for 43yrs, I am also a committed Bible believing Christian of the Anglican community.

 I have worked with Homosexuals and have a relative of my husband who is Homosexual, who we are very fond of.

No-one likes or today is permitted to use the word unnatural, as in the Bible Romans 1 verse 26 states. During my nurse training in the 1980s (as a mature student, ) we were told the rectum is only one cell thick therefore not suitable for anal sex. My husband's relative has been hospitalised with an anal fistula, others I have known have also suffered trauma.During my nursing course the stoma nurse teaching us about stoma and stoma care told us about practising Homosexuals who had bowel surgery resulting in colostomies their partners using their stoma sites for sex, resulting in damage to the stoma. Obviously I am talking about the male homosexual, the verse in Romans mentions women too.

The issue too is the redefining of marriage as we know it, there has been a petition with thousands of signatures that seems 'to be pushed under the carpet' the Conservative government appears to be needed to be known as 'trendy' obviously so we loose sight of all the other issues relevant to our society at present, such as poverty unemployment etc.

I hope you will read this email and look again at the scriptures.

Kind regards


I gave myself a day to calm down, and then responded as follows:

Dear ****

Thank you for responding. This is obviously a very sensitive subject for a lot of people, but - as such - is one we need to try and approach carefully, allowing each side to speak their concerns, but in a way that doesn't negate the view of the other.
I am interested that people that struggle with the relationships of LGBT people always seem to focus on anal sex, when that is so irrelevant.  Straight couples do not have to have their relationships defined by the sex that they do or don't have, the sexual techniques they employ in the bedroom, how often they copulate or whether they are capable of producing offspring or not. Straight couples are able to share about their relationships openly and honestly with other people, and those people then celebrate their love.  It seems that, all too often, when a gay person shares that they've fallen in love, people seem to fixate on anal sex and how much that disgusts them, or - in their view - is biologically wrong. 
What should be celebrated, is that - in these difficult times, the person has managed to find a soul mate, fall in love, and that they're able to share their life's journey with a special partner.  Their relationship may involve sex, and may even involve some difficulties in the bedroom (like any relationship), but it does not define their relationship ... their love does.  People fall in love with other people, not because they have a penis or a vagina, but because they find a kindred spirit.  And nobody can control who they fall in love with. 
I wonder if you're still operating under the impression that LGBT people somehow have the freedom to choose whether or not they have relationships with the opposite or the same gender, and have somehow decided for the same gender because of a weakness of character or bad decision-making.  This is clearly not the case.  Nobody would willingly decide to put themselves through the constant humiliation, judgement, ostracisation and dehumanisation of being seen as 'less worthy' than other people.
Regarding your Scriptural reference, I'm afraid that that's a debate that is not helpful, and that neither of us would be capable of approaching objectively.  Ultimately, there are always several ways of reading a passage, and also applying that passage.  We now no longer apply the same importance to passages that speak about pork, shellfish, hairstyles or mixed fabrics, but society all too often proceeds to use passages from those same books to judge the LGBT community.  Paul's writings, too, can be taken in a variety of ways, and it is crucial to be aware of the different possible meanings and interpretations, taking Paul's context & own doctrinal hobby horses into account.  We could argue the Scriptures endlessly, but I think it most helpful to suggest that each side is aware that the other reads the Scriptures differently, and - ultimately - what matters is the other person's faith, and that is as authentic as our own, and we shouldn't try and force them to be exactly as us, as we are all wonderfully, and individually made.
If you wanted to look further into the Scriptural issues, I couldn't recommend enough that you watch Matthew Vines' lecture (1 hour 7 minutes) on YouTube.  Matthew is a very sensitive and sensible young man, who took 2 years out of his studies to look at the Scriptures in depth, from both sides.  You can view his lecture here .  You may not agree with all that he says, but I feel it's important to be aware of the other side of the discussion. 
You proceed to discuss some of the mechanics of anal sex and some teaching you received in nursing a long time ago.  There are ways around the issues you mention and there are sex aids that can be safely used to enhance and protect.  There is little merit in discussing the intricate mechanics of sex, because it is so unique to each couple, and even straight couples struggle to find a sexual rhythm and technique that works for them.  As I say, what defines a couple is their mutual love, not sex. 
At the core of it, I think that is the issue.  I'm aware of the Coalition for Marriage campaign and the signatures gathered.  The Coalition for Equal Marriage did the same thing.  The government was aware of both campaigns, and also gave opportunity for people to respond on the official government consultation web page.  As a result of the official consultation, the decision has been made to move forward. 
Both sides have had their viewpoint heard, and the signatures and opinions you mention have been taken into account, but there is no feasible reason to prevent Equal Marriage going ahead, when there will be protections in place for those faith communities that don't want to participate in it.  Their rights will be protected, but the right to Equality will also be extended to the LGBT community, who are currently treated as second-class citizens, without the legal protection that marriage affords straight couples. 
It's quite tragic that, when a lesbian or gay couple expresses their love openly, they are faced with a barrage of comments about anal sex, their inability to breed, or - in recent months - accused of wanting to harvest children for sex rings, or destabilise society and reduce us all to barbarianism or cannibalism.  They simply desire to live and to love and to have the opportunity to do that openly, honestly, and without fear or prejudice. 
Let's not forget that the "Institute of Marriage" you refer to has changed endlessly over millenia.  It used to be a financial contract where people actively sought to marry above their station, in order to secure the future of their families.  These financial contracts were solemnised by the state.  Polygamy was allowed, child brides were allowed, concubines and male sex slaves were allowed.  When the Church took over the marriage ceremony, it was because the wealthy wanted to be a part of a popular new growing organisation, and the Church wanted to control their weddings, in an attempt to influence society.  Only then, did marriage move into the Churches and begin to have liturgical parts attached to what was always a civil contract. 
It is time to allow people who love each other the opportunity to express that.  It's not an argument that's new ... when mixed marriages were first on the card, we were told then that black people were going to come and steal away society's children for sex rings, we were told that society would break down, that the races would be weakened and that it was against Scripture, because God designated different races and to mix it up was viewed as an abomination:
  • Deuteronomy 22:9: "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled."
  • Genesis 28:1: "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan."
  • Deuteronomy 23:2: "A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD."
The interracial marriage debate is, sadly, still ongoing, but I think it fair to say most people would say that people have the right to fall in love and that colour shouldn't be a barrier to that, and that those who say anything against a mixed marriage would be guilty of racism.

Sadly, it is still acceptable for people to judge a Lesbian or Gay couple, and do so openly, knowing that they won't be challenged.  They are able to make comments that belittle the couple, negate their love, call it illegitimate, ungodly or wrong, and use their arguments and their interpretation of their scriptures to back up their viewpoints and deny the couple the opportunity to live openly in a loving relationship.  They face a life of insecurity, of being designated as second-class citizens, who can be refused visiting rights in hospital, or inheritance rights or financial recognition.

I pray that that will change. I pray that people will be able to celebrate their love openly, to live freely, and to express their love, without fear of being devalued, dehumanised or beaten up. That they may be able to commit to each other for life, without being told that that commitment is less valuable than other peoples', and that they cannot have the same legal protections as "normal couples".

I do hope that you will try and watch Matthew's video, and I pray for a softening of your heart. I cannot commit this much time to any further replies, but feel free to send comments and I'll respond when I can.

With kind regards

It's a little clumsy & I do rattle on endlessly, but I wanted my response to be authentically "me". I have pasted it here, as the sender will have received it.

I then received the following response:
Dear Andy

Thank you for your email.

I think you have misunderstood my email, I am not anti homosexual or lesbian people, but against the redefinition  of marriage as this present proposal from the government, promotes.
& my response:
Hi ****

Thank you again for contacting me. I understand what you're saying, but many don't understand the inequalities in the law at the moment, when it comes to Civil Partnership.

The fact is that they just don't offer the same protection as marriage does;

  • Civil partners can be refused visiting rights in hospital if a loved one is taken ill, on the basis that they are not blood relatives or married partners. They can also be refused information, and so can be faced with the reality that their life partner may be in a serious condition, and they would have no way of finding out or of visiting them.
  • If something happens to a Civil Partner while abroad, they may be stranded without information or access to their partner - even if the country they are visiting recognises Equal Marriage, simply because they did not have a 'Marriage', but rather a Civil Partnership.
  • If you want to leave your belongings to your lifelong partner, as a Civil Partner, your bereaved partner faces higher inheritance taxes, and - in some countries - exorbitantly so, on the basis that the person is not 'related' by law.
  • If you write your lifelong partner into your will, if there is any animosity between your family and your partner, your family can contest that will and successfully prevent your partner inheriting, because Civil Partnership does not have the same legal protections as marriage.
  • Civil partners can not leave their pension to their partners, in the same way that straight married couples can, and face lower payouts and higher deductions.
  • Aside from the simple fact that people don't propose to become "Civilly partnered" and friends don't refer to a celebration of their union as a "Civil celebration".  That language encourages people to view the relationship as somehow 'less than'.

A society where these inequalities and insecurities exist for same-sex couples does not make for a more stable society, but is in itself the reason for the breakdown of family values and social morality ... it makes it more difficult to love and to commit.  It also makes the families of same-sex couples less secure.  The children in those families (whether by adoption, artificial insemination, surrogacy, fostering or from a previous relationship) know the love of their parents, and are loved no less, but have a less secure place in society, because society does not want their parents to have access to a simple word.
The following link explains (briefly) some of the legal differences between Civil Partnership & Marriage:
I think it was well put by a colleague of mine, whose words were something like, "I've been married for over 40 years, and I find it quite insulting that people somehow think that two strangers being allowed to marry is somehow going to make my marriage any less secure or meaningful."
Again, with kind regards

It's a little bit reminiscent of conversations in the former century that started like this, "I'm not a racist, but ..." Be interesting to see how this pans out.

No comments:

Post a Comment