Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Nyall Davies (MB 21)

I am now retired but have pastured evangelical churches for many years and am concerned that there is not enough protection for ordinary Christians that are law abiding citizens. These people will not have changed their beliefs but if they act on them they might find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Beliefs are only beliefs if we act on them. The person that says that he believes and acts in the opposite manner doesn’t believe at all.

Points for the scrutiny committee - Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-13

1) It is part of the argument for this bill that sexuality is innate. It is something built in. This innate sexuality will vary from the 100% homosexual through, the bisexual, the norm to the true homophobic. I presume that the 100% homosexual would find the idea of being involved in heterosexual sex distasteful or even abhorrent. I have no problem with that. However I would likewise want the 100% homosexual to realise that there are others whose make up puts them on the other side of the distribution curve. I would not describe myself as homophobic and would be quite happy to have homosexual people as my friends however my sexuality is such that I find the thought of being involved in homosexual sex as something that fills me with horror. This is no academic matter but one of make up and emotions. At a single stroke teachers, counsellors and many other social workers or even registrars will find that the thoughts and feelings created by their innate sexuality is unacceptable and find themselves subject to disciplinary action by the bodies that control their profession. Some protection is needed for such people.

2) I have been a pastor of a church and have some considerable knowledge of how Christians think and what they believe. All the information as to Christian doctrine and practice is in the Bible. There is no other source of information. Some denominations add church traditions to this but in all cases the Bible was there first. Many Christians believe it to be the word of God and for them any statements in it trump all other opinions. Along with the Ten Commandments came a host of rules. Included are one or two statements that say homosexuality is wrong therefore to them it is wrong. I myself cannot use that argument as I believe Jesus freed us from adherence to the Mosaic law but try as I might I cannot get out of the New Testament statements that say the same thing. Committed Christians are law abiding people who seek to follow Jesus’ words in loving God, their neighbours and even their enemies. It is these people that, if we are not careful we will put on the wrong side of the law. They will not have moved in their opinion but, at a stroke, the law will have moved to the other side. The big broad wide church of Christ is made up of individuals. Most of those are not priests or ministers but ordinary people. The bill may seek to protect churches but it will be individuals that have no protection.

3) Many people who provide wedding services will get out of it by saying that they are booked up and will not being available on the day. Committed Christians do not like lying and it will be the honest ones, those that say, ‘I cannot lie,’ who will find themselves on the wrong side of the anti-discrimination laws. We will thus be penalising the more honest of our citizens for their views.

4) A minister of a church may not be forced to marry a homosexual couple but his church organist needs the same protection and a church secretary who is a professional photographer cannot refuse a job at their wedding.

5) The C4M petition now contains over 637,000 signatures. That is a very large number for a petition and almost undoubtedly represents the viewpoint of many more people. These are the people who I am concerned about as stated above. To date their views seem to have been largely ignored. It is thus large number of people who would have trouble with their conscience and find themselves in court.

6) As a Christian I would not go into a Muslim mosque and cause trouble. Although I do not believe what they believe I respect the fact that they have their religion and would not seek to disrupt their activities or cause them trouble. We have however seen a number of cases where homosexuals have set out to cause trouble for people they know don’t approve of their lifestyle. Can’t we phrase the law so that people who deliberately set out to manoeuvre normally law abiding citizens onto the wrong side of the law will not be heard?

February 2013

Prepared 15th February 2013