When this article goes to print, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, will have given a sermon at St Salvator’s Chapel several days before. A few minutes before that, St Andrews students will have stood silent outside the walls of the chapel in protest of the Cardinal’s past remarks about the issue of gay marriage in Scotland.
The Cardinal has called gay marriages “madness” and compared them to legalising slavery. I am proud that a protest of this man’s words will take place, because I think that any decent human being should be offended by those words.
Furthermore, I personally am offended that Christianity can be tarnished by these horrific comments.
Church has always been a home for me, a place I felt welcome and one that I knew did everything it could to extend God’s love to the world. Because of this, I have never understood the bigots who think a few minor Bible verses alongside long-ignored rules somehow outweigh the fact that gay people are children of God just as much as they are.
I’m tired of people who claim to speak for Christians perverting Christian beliefs. Jesus taught love and respect for all other individuals, and by claiming that this love and respect doesn’t include some people simply because of how they were born; Cardinal O’Brien has turned his back on everything about what being a Christian means to me.
In my church, each service begins with a statement of welcome to all, and the only factor our minister takes into consideration when deciding whether or not to marry a couple is if the couple is in love and suit one another.
Their gender plays no role, because that is not the teaching of Jesus. I call myself a Christian because I believe it’s good to love other people, and that it’s bad to judge them. Reversing that is about as un-Christian a thing as I know.
Perhaps what I’ve written so far would be better suited to a religious debate, if only religious leaders were content to keep their intolerance out of the public realm.
I believe strongly in the institution of marriage, a stalwart part of our society – and my religion – that has served us well for quite some time. Families are charged with the raising of children, and there could be no more important societal task to complete.
Because of the importance of this institution, it is unacceptable to limit it to straight couples. It is my religious belief that gay marriage should be acceptable and equal in every way to all other kinds of marriage.
This is why Cardinal O’Brien’s comments are particularly unacceptable. When hate-filled individuals claim that gay marriages are offensive to Christians, they mistake their own old-fashioned belief for something held by all Christians.
I never gave any religious leader the moral authority to speak for me, and I certainly hope governments never interpret the hateful words of a few religious leaders as relevant to modern public opinion, or even Christian public opinion.
Churches like mine, which welcome every person regardless of how God made them, are the rule rather than the exception in my home state of Massachusetts.
Perhaps that is why Massachusetts was the first state to grant same-sex marriage licences. Its clear in my church that the young people looking to find a church to join, a church in which to raise their children, have no interest in being part of the homophobia some Christian sects perpetuate.
People looking for a spiritual home, gay and straight, look for the rainbow flags outside of the churches as a prerequisite of attendance. Those who fight that progress in Christ’s name should think for a while about what Jesus means to them, and how any kind of discrimination fits into their beliefs. When governments of Scotland and the United Kingdom take religion into account on their decisions for gay marriage, they should listen to the Christian ideas of love and respect, rather than the un-Christian values of hate and abandonment.