SA Voters’ Guide Critique #7: Homosexual Marriage

We continue our critique of the Christian Action document Biblical principles for Using Your Vote on The author’s seventh point has undergone a recent change, and its form at time of writing reflects a bit of both. It previously was called ‘Opposes Homosexual Agenda’ (as it still says in the list of relevant scripture verses on the page), whereas it now reads, ‘Opposes Homosexual Marriage / Civil Unions’.

Is this principle Biblical?
According to scripture, homosexuality is a sin, and marriage is a picture of God’s relationship to his people, and so should reflect complementarity, not homogeneity; that is, it must be between a man and a woman.

Is it essential?
If we’re talking about homosexuality in general, the fact that we regard homosexuality as a sin should not be used as a reason for justifying political prejudice against homosexuals. There are all sorts of sins that are private or between consenting adults that we do not expect Christian government to criminalise, sex before marriage, for example. We live in plural society in which freedom must be granted as far as is possible so that groups of a wide range of opinions can be accommodated. The fact that homosexuals are frequently targeted for violent persecution, even leading to death, means that Christian politicians should be as busy as anyone protecting them from such injustice, even though we disagree with them, just as we’d protect single mothers or Hindus from attack. The fact that Christian politicians are often nasty and genuinely hateful in their utterances about homosexuality is thoroughly shameful.

What we do need to ensure is that we vote for a party that will protect our right to believe that homosexuality is a sin, to tell homosexuals that their lifestyle is sin (though it might seem to be a hateful opinion), and to prevent homosexuals from holding church office (though it seems discriminatory). It is worth bearing in mind that any party that will allow this from us is almost certainly duty-bound to allow people to choose their own sexual orientation for themselves.

In terms of homosexuals getting married, there is more of a debate, because marriage is a deeply religious ceremony for Christians, and so we are justified in trying to protect it from corruption.

On the other hand, marriage is also a wider civil event with civil benefits (though it is fairly meaningless from a secular perspective), and it is also a part of all of South Africa’s cultures. I’m not to sure on what grounds we’re able to restrict marriage to our particular definition thereof. Why should non-Christians hold to our definition of marriage? As consenting adults, homosexuals want marriage in order to be treated as full citizens, with proper recognition of their relationship, and any of the benefits available to other couples. If we’re going to make this a key policy point for Christians, we at least need to do it with good understanding of the issues (which I do not personally have, I must confess; I am still not sure what Christians argue in debates over this issue), and not just a vague conviction that homosexuality is gross or evil.

We should rather see to it that the party for which we vote is willing to let Christians retain their beliefs and practices about marriage.

Has the author been fair?
I have no complaints with the author’s presentation of the parties’ opinion. It is notable that the ACDP quote that he uses relates to the wider point about homosexuality in general, rather than homosexual marriage. They hold that homosexuals are not entitled to constitutional protection. Would they continue to allow discrimination against homosexuals? Would they choose to criminalise it? Would they then also criminalise other sins, such as sex before marriage, idolatry or divorce? Why just this one?


4 thoughts on “SA Voters’ Guide Critique #7: Homosexual Marriage

  1. Taryn says:

    Hey Jordan – just on your point about the ACDP’s stance on homosexuality. I have not read much up on this issue in their manifesto, so I am not completely up-to-date with their fleshed out view of homosexuality. However, the statement you refer to (the one quoted in the SAvotersguide) doesn’t purport to deny homosexuals all constitutional protection. The quote is “we do not believe that sexual orientation which promotes a homosexual lifestyle is a right that requires specific constitutional protection”. The way I read that initially (and on re-reading, still do) is that the ACDP does not believe that homosexuals require constitutional protection that is _exclusive_ to them because of their lifestyle choices. Or in other words, “special treatment”. I’d be interested to know more on the subject.

    • Jordan Pickering says:

      You’re probably right that I am over-reacting. Nevertheless, it all hinges on what they mean by ‘specific constitutional protection’. Does it mean that they should not be treated specially, and therefore should have all the rights and protection that other couples enjoy? Or does it mean that homosexuality does not quality as a human right, and as such should not be covered by the constitutional protections that are specified for other couples? I hope it’s something like the former (although that might mean the ACDP is fine with gay marriage, which I’m sure they’re not), but I fear it is the latter. It also still begs the question as to what they do with the fact that homosexuals are tortured and killed even in this country, and as such clearly do need specific protection (because they aren’t being treated like everyone else).

  2. Brendon Schafer says:

    The most balanced view I’ve read and one I more fully agree with.
    You admit though that you don’t have full understanding of the issues. Why not invest in ‘The Pink Agenda’ by Miriam Cane and Peter Hammond, although I understand Peter contributed very little (If anything) to the actual investigation and text. It was written quite some time ago and is still very relevant today.
    If we want to reverse the tide of pornography, rape, child abuse, pedophilia and the like, this would be a good starting point. It isn’t about being anti-homosexual (the person) either. It’s about the lifestyle and what the end result is likely to look like if we say nothing. It is also – as you point out too – not giving special rights to people.

  3. Brendon Schafer says:

    I think the point is the first question. They should be treated exactly as anyone else is treated. They already have all the protection they need and all the privileges just the same as anyone else does.
    What they want, and this is verifiable, is special treatment and special laws to allow them to carry on with their lifestyle.
    Your last comment about being tortured and killed is a concern, if in fact this is true.
    Having said that, they do enjoy the right to bare firearms and the right to defend themselves and they should exercise this right. No amount of policing will be able to protect every single homosexual in the country.
    I understand though, that most of the instances of homosexuals being tortured and killed (especially killed) isn’t being done from outside the homosexual community. They’re doing it to themselves – jealous ex-lovers etc.
    This doesn’t suggest though that there are NO ‘gay-bashers’ around. But these ‘gay-bashers’ do need to be punished, but then the same sentence should be passed for any form of assault and not necessarily harsher just because the person on the receiving end is a homosexual.
    I fear that what is happening (or may happen) is that in the event of assault, the person smacking a homosexual will get a harsher sentence than the guy beating up his wife or girlfriend.

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