on Gay Marriage
and straight relationships should not be equal in the eyes of the
©2000 The Christian Institute
A - They are not equal in nature
B - They are not equal morally
C - The law must do what is best for the whole of society
Appendix 1 : Homosexuality and the non-Christian faiths.
A - They are not equal in nature
1. Nature provides that children are conceived through heterosexual intercourse. The most basic unit of society - the family - is based on biology not ideology.
2. Children need male and female role models for their nurture. It is in the order of nature that the ideal has been defined.
3. No law of Parliament can change this. The law must follow what reality is like.
4. As the Government have recently stated "Marriage is the surest foundation for raising children and remains the choice of the majority of people in Britain".
5. Life-long and loving marriage is the ideal context in which to raise children.
6. Social science confirms this. As Professor A H Halsey, (Professor of Social Policy at Nuffield College, Oxford) states: "No one can deny that divorce, separation, birth outside marriage and one-parent families as well as cohabitation and extra-marital sexual intercourse have increased rapidly. Many applaud these freedoms. But what should be universally acknowledged is that the children of parents who do not follow the traditional norm (i.e. taking on personal, active and long-term responsibility for the social upbringing of the children they generate) are thereby disadvantaged in many major aspects of their chances of living a successful life. On the evidence available such children tend to die earlier, to have more illness, to do less well at school, to exist at a lower level of nutrition, comfort and conviviality, to suffer more unemployment, to be more prone to deviance and crime, and finally to repeat the cycle of unstable parenting from which they themselves have suffered... The evidence all points in the same direction, is formidable, and tallies with common sense."
7. For the good of children and for the good of adults, marriage is privileged in law.
8. The marriage relationship has enjoyed privileged status in the Western legal tradition because of the unique social benefits it offers. Marriage is not an arbitrary construct; it is an 'honourable estate' based on the different, complementary nature of men and women - and how they refine, support, encourage, and complete one another.
9. As Professor Hadley Arkes of Amherst College, USA argues "Is it better for children to be spawned in random relations, or is it better for them to be begotten in arrangements in which their parents are bound to their offspring by the ties of law as well [as] nature? Would anyone seriously deny that it is altogether more wholesome, more preferable in principle, that parents would be as committed to the nurturance of their children as they are committed to each other as husband and wife?"
10. If other human relationships were equated to marriage then marriage would cease to be privileged. In fact, it would be denigrated. A simple example shows how this is so. Disabled parking is provided to those with a disability. If the ability to park in disabled parking spaces was extended to others then there would be no privilege at all for disabled people.
11. Though there are exceptions, monogamous heterosexual marriage has been the norm throughout most cultures and civilisations all through history.
12. The same cannot be said of homosexuality. Even today there are people groups in the world where homosexuality is unheard of. Throughout history the incidence of homosexuality has been episodic in its cultural presence.
13. 'Homosexual orientation' is by definition about exclusive attraction to those of the same sex. The incidence of exclusive homosexuality is still comparatively rare in the United Kingdom. The largest study of sexual behaviour and attitudes ever carried out in the UK was published in 1994. The reseachers, Kaye Wellings, Anne Johnson and colleagues, published their findings in two reports: Sexual Behaviour in Britain and Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. They found that only 0.3% of men report exclusively homosexual sexual partners in the past year.
14. True, the study found that a much larger percentage (3.6%) had had a homosexual partner at least once in their lives, but the researchers concluded that "homosexual experience is often a relatively isolated or passing event." and that "a form of bisexuality prevalent in early adulthood may represent a transitional phase".
15. Not all "straight relationships" are equally stable. Heterosexual cohabiting relationships are much more unstable than marriage. According to the British Household Panel Survey, cohabiting couples are more than four times as likely to split up than married couples.
16. According to research in Sexual Behaviour in Britain "cohabitation does not appear to exert any strong influence on monogamy" but marriage "once entered into, is certainly viewed by the majority of the population as an exclusive relationship for men and women alike."
17. There is little room for this kind of exclusivity amongst homosexuals. When it comes to homosexual partnerships even the leading advocates of gay rights do not believe that their relationships should be exclusive. Project SIGMA is the leading research group into the homosexual lifestyle in the UK. The main project has been funded by the Department of Health and published by HMSO. The staff are either homosexual themselves or sympathetic to gay rights. The SIGMA researchers state "There is a widespread expectation among gay men that relationships will not be monogamous since this is widely seen as a means of combining the security of a long term commitment with the excitement of new encounters."
18. The SIGMA project finds that most homosexual men in the study had casual partners, on average 7 a year, or one every seven or eight weeks.
B - They are not equal morally
1. Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles found in 1994 that over 70% of men believe sex between two men to be always or mostly wrong. Interestingly, younger respondents were "not markedly more tolerant than older ones". This figure is mirrored by many opinion polls.
2. People do not hate homosexuals, they just believe that what they do is wrong.
3. The historic Christian faith has always affirmed Biblical teaching that homosexual acts are always wrong. Homosexual temptation is not sinful. Yielding to it is. Homosexual practice, like adultery and other sexual sins, can be forgiven provided there is faith and repentance.
4. Marriage is the only context where the bible endorses sexual activity :
a. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" Genesis 2 : 24. This passage was also quoted by Jesus Christ in Mark 10:
6-8 and Matthew 19 : 4 - 5
b. Both the new testament and the old testament view adultery, sex before marriage and homosexual sexual activity as morally wrong. (see for example 1 Corinthians 6: 9)
5. The Lambeth conference re-stated that homosexual practice is incompatible with the Bible. While some liberal bishops from the UK and USA opposed Lambeth Resolution 1.10, the overwhelming majority of Bishops in the Anglican Communion agreed with its statement that:
a. Homosexual practice is incompatible with the Bible;
b. Christians can experience same-sex attraction and that the Church should seek sensitively to minister to such people;
c. For those not called to marriage sexual abstinence is the right course; and
d. Same-sex unions are to be rejected.
6. The Archbishop of Canterbury said after the debate at the Lambeth Conference "I see no room in scripture for any sexual activity outside matrimony for husband and wife. I believe this motion says what we have all held Anglican morality stands for."
7. All the world's main religions have consistently viewed homosexual practice as morally wrong. For Muslims, homosexual practice is explicitly forbidden in the Koran. Sikhs and Hindus strongly affirm friendship between men, but view homosexual practice as morally wrong. [See Appendix 1]
8. In recent years there have been "modernisers", particularly amongst those claiming to be Christian or Jewish, who reject the historic teaching of their traditions. But from a world perspective they are very much a fringe minority.
C - The law must do what is best for the whole of society
1. The law must provide for public order and a stable society; it must protect the vulnerable and uphold what is right.
2. Article 29 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states: "In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to... the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society."
3. In virtually all cultures the law regulates sexual behaviour.
4. With some obvious and sensible exceptions, when it comes to sexual behaviour the law deals with actual rather than potential behaviour. It does not deal with a person's sexual inclinations or thoughts, nor would it be right to do so except when those inclinations manifest themselves in behaviour.
5. The obvious exceptions concern the law's attempts to order human behaviour to reduce the possibility of sexual temptation.
a. So for example men and women have separate public toilets. Schools have separate
changing rooms for boys and girls.
b. Another example is where male and female personnel serving in the Armed Forces have separate dormitories and washing facilities. Women do not serve with men on combat duty where they would be forced to exist in very close confinement with men such as in a snowhole, trench, tank or tent. Women service personnel have the right not to be the subject of sexual intrusion from men.
c. In the same way male soldiers should not be forced to serve in close confinement, or for example to take a shower, with those sexually attracted to them. On this basis it is clearly possible to defend a ban on homosexuals in the armed forces. Since the Government has lifted the ban then they will have to deal directly with this issue of sexual temptation.
6. Gay rights are actually about claiming the right to carry out certain types of behaviour unhindered by the law. General Colin Powell, the first black chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, "Unlike race or gender, sexuality is not a benign trait. It is manifested by behaviour. While it would be decidedly biased to assume certain behaviours based on gender or membership in a particular racial group, the same is not true for sexuality."
7. The Armed Forces also discharge personnel who commit adultery because of the effect on unit morale and fighting effectiveness.
Homosexuality as viewed by the five major non-Christian religions. Based on Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions by Peggy Morgan and Clive Lawton (Ed.), Edinburgh University Press, 1996
Pre-marital chastity ranks very high on the scale of values of most Hindus. There is strong religious and social pressure to control the senses, especially before marriage. In Hindu writings there is a marked emphasis on self-control with the sublimation of sexual urges before a person reaches the stage of the householder. There are punishments for transgressions.
The Hindu literary sources are remarkably silent on homosexuality but from traditional attitudes towards chastity and sex it follows that homosexuality at any stage of life is out of line with the standard norms and values of the varnashramadharma system. In particular, not to marry and produce children could be seen as a violation of dharma ("righteousness").
Very few Hindus remain unmarried. Homosexuality is not unknown but it is a taboo topic. The reaction to AIDS in India has been even stronger pressure to remain chaste.
Traditional Buddhism identifies only two types of sexuality: that of celibate monks and nuns and that of married householders engaged in normal (heterosexual) family life. For this reason homosexual relationships may be seen as unwise or unnatural. Homosexual activity would seem to most Buddhists to break the third precept of Buddhism - refraining from the misuse of the senses. They certainly see any uncontrolled desire as potentially destructive and unwholesome and Buddhism has always taught that self-control and chastity are a high and wholesome path. Sexual misconduct is a cause for expulsion from the monastic communities.
But Buddhists believe that there are no moral absolutes and that "right action" has to be worked out in whatever time, place and situation people find themselves.
The spiritual leader of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, has categorised homosexual acts as "sexual misconduct" which is "something that may be considered improper in terms of organs, time, and place; when sexual relations involve inappropriate parts of the body, or when they occur at an unsuitable time or place."
Maintenance of family honour is a dominant concern in Sikhism and sexual misconduct brings shame on a family. Sexual activity is restricted to its responsible use within marriage. This is consistent with the reference to lust in the Sikh scriptures (the Guru Granth Sahib) where it is cited as one of the five evil passions.
Sikhs have not written on the subject of homosexuality. Friendships in South Asian communities between members of the same sex are strong and in fact it is regarded as right and natural that only those of the same sex hold hands or embrace in public. But it would be totally incorrect for a Westerner to assume that physical contact between members of the same sex was indicative of any homosexual tendency.
Sikhs expect every man and woman to marry and have children. For a woman there is no respected or desirable alternative to the role of wife and mother. Sexual activity for both sexes must be confined to members of the opposite sex and within marriage.
According to Sikh belief, union with God is not possible while one is at the mercy of a wayward impulse. Any surrender to instincts incompatible with conjugal fidelity or with the proper role of men and women as marriage partners would be condemned.
Marriage is considered by the rabbis to be the ideal state for any man and marriage is intended to imitate the relationship between Adam and Eve - one man and one woman - and for the fulfilment of the duty to have children. Under the Jewish system any sex outside of marriage is, strictly speaking, impossible to achieve since having sex is one of the three stages of marriage. By having sex with a partner one has already embarked on the marriage process.
There appears to be nothing in Jewish sources which recognises that people may be homosexual, only that they indulge in homosexual practices. The most influential text is found in the Torah (Leviticus 19:12), "You shall not lie with men as with women; it is an abomination", and in Leviticus 20:13, "If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; and they shall certainly be put to death."
The Talmud, which was written over a period of a thousand years and completed in the sixth century, considers whether or not two men should be alone together but decides that it is acceptable because "Jews do not behave in such a way". Interestingly, by the sixteenth century and the writing of the Shulkhan Arukh, Rabbi Joseph Caro advises that, owing to current standards of behaviour amongst some people, it would be wise for two men not to be alone together.
Jeffrey Satinover, himself a Jew, notes:
"On the basis of the Pentateuch, the Talmud treats all sexual activity outside of marital relations, including masturbation, unequivocally as sins, though it makes careful distinctions concerning their varying severity. Lesbianism, for example is treated as a less severe sin than male homosexuality; the various Talmudic discussions concerning lesbianism view it as less of a threat to family formation and stability than the always potentially rogue male sexuality."
"Thus Rabbinic discussions of homosexuality begin with the fact of its sinfulness and moral unacceptability but quickly make two important points. First, as in all matters pertaining to human failings, a strict distinction must be maintained between the sin and the person...
Second, the Rabbinic discussions make a refined distinction as to the degree of culpability that individuals bear for their homosexual behaviour, depending on the situation."
Excess in sexual relations is one of the root vices identified by Islam. Sexual intercourse is the ultimate physical union between a man and a woman to express their love and commitment to each other. The result of sexual intercourse, procreation, is the contribution which human beings make towards the continuation of God's creation.
Islam prohibits sex outside marriage. Marriage - which can only be between a man and a woman - is the place within which both the emotional and creative power of sexual intercourse can be controlled. Islam holds that when there is excess or deficiency in the desire for sexual intercourse an imbalance can occur in the personality. Excess overpowers reason and leads to adultery, fornication and other mortal sins.
Islam forbids homosexual and lesbian relations. Islam views such relations as unnatural and a deviation from the norm. Specific mention is made of its practice in the Quran where Lot warns against the practice of homosexuality: "What! Of all creatures, do you approach males and leave the spouses whom your Lord has created for you? Indeed, you are people transgressing [all limits]" (Quran 26: 165-6) and "Do you commit adultery as no people in creation [ever] committed before you? For you practise your lusts on men in preference to women: You are indeed a people transgressing beyond limits." (Quran 7:84).
Sodomy is considered to be an act against one's natural disposition ('asl-al-fitra) because it is considered to be sex merely to satisfy one's passion and performed with part of the body for which sexual intercourse was not created. It also includes anal sex with one's wife. All Muslim jurists agree that sodomy is a sexual offence though they differ as to its appropriate punishment.
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