elenya: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] elenya at 12:31am on 13/01/2007
The Radio 4 early morning news and current affairs programme, the Today Programme, always has a "thought for the day". Two speakers I always enjoy listening to on this spot are Rabbi Lionel Bloom and The Reverend Dr Giles Fraser. Today it was Dr Giles Fraser, Vicar of Putney, debunking the idea that all Christians in this country are opposed to legislation giving gay people the right not to be discriminated against.

You can here him here http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/ (You need RealPlayer), but this is a transcript of what he said:

As a Christian, I’m protected by the law against discrimination, and I’m grateful for it. No one can legally deny me access to goods or services because of my faith; no one is allowed to put up a sign in their window that reads “No Christians”, or “No Muslims”, for that matter. Discrimination on the grounds of race and gender is equally outlawed, all of which is an unambiguously good thing. As indeed I believe is the extension of these provisions to include sexual orientation. No one should be allowed to display a sign that reads “No Gays”, either. Some Christians, however, are strongly resisting this legislation. They argue that being obliged to provide goods and services to gay couples makes them complicit in what they regard as sin, and that this complicity compromises their deeply held religious convictions. For others, however, these so-called religious convictions are little more than a mask for simple prejudice. Why, they argue, aren’t these same Christian hoteliers up in arms at their legal obligation to provide hotel rooms for unmarried couples? After all, conservative Christians believe sex outside marriage to be no less a sin, yet they haven’t been protesting about this. Indeed, many of them may well believe that gluttony is a sin, but they haven’t been campaigning for Christian waiters to have the right to refuse fat people extra chips on moral grounds. No, there is real inconsistency in the way some Christians apply the argument of complicity, and this inconsistency is indicative that they are treating homosexuality as a special case. In other words, this inconsistency is evidence of prejudice, and the sad truth is that there’d be little need for this sort of legislation if there wasn’t so much prejudice about both in the church and elsewhere. Of course, it’s worth saying that discrimination doesn’t only shelter behind religious belief; there’s prejudice outside the churches and mosques, too. For the idea that this is an argument between Christian prejudice and secular enlightenment is the distortion of a lazy media that likes its arguments simple and binary. Within the church itself, there’s real debate and much disagreement; many Christians like me don’t believe homosexuality is a sin at all; in fact, I believe it is a gift of God. Sure, it is a gift that can be abused like any other, but often it is a channel of grace, a means by which some human beings show love and commitment and generosity just like anybody else. There’s a hymn we often sing in church which goes like this,

“For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind,
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind,
But we make his love too narrow, with false limits of our own,
And we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.”

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