Do you go to hell for telling an Archbishop not to be a dick?

Okay, so last week gay marriage became legal here in Wales and across the bridge in England. Good times.

I know that civil partnerships were a thing already and some folks, like one of my flatmates, might argue that if they had that why were the gays getting so uptight about still wanting gay marriages?

Well, because a civil partnership isn’t the same thing. The fact they’re called something else shows that while legally they were pretty close they were still marked out as different, and seen by many as less. For true equality it had to be the same wording, and that’s why I’m chuffed that they became legal at the end of March.

Rainbow flags were flown in celebration

Rainbow flags were flown in celebration

There was a bunch of stuff online of couples celebrating and tying the knot as soon as it was legit, which was pretty cool.

Most of the folks I’ve run into are all for it, I mean, I am talking about mainly younger people here (30 and below, as I clutch at straws to remain a “young person”), but a fair few older people have expressed support too. I think the issue is less divisive than is made out, too. Sure there are some full on supporters in both camps, but lots of folks live in the “doesn’t effect me, so, whatever” middle ground, which let’s face it, is pretty much saying you don’t have a problem with gay marriage.

Of course, there are some of the “no” camp who are still unhappy.

Take for example the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Here’s the thing, someone needs out to point out that Welby has to get on board, because with gay marriage being the law of the land, the Queen’s on board, and the Queen is the head of the Church of England. That’s the way it works, and has done since Henry VIII started it up because the Pope told him he couldn’t have a divorce (which always kinda nullifies any CoE objections based on the “sanctity of marriage”).

The AB of C, Welby

The AB of C, Welby

So, first of all, get with the programme, Welby, but go ahead why are you still against the CoE backing it up? Well, in response to being asked if they’d accept it he replied:

“The impact of that on Christians in countries far from here, like South Sudan, like Pakistan, Nigeria and other places would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here.”

I read that two days ago, and the reason I’ve only got around to posting today is because I needed to calm down. Had I posted immediately after reading it, this post would have been entitled “**** Justin Welby, you *************************!”

Come on, don’t be a dick, your grace.

Stop trying to make your unacceptance seem like a moral stance, because you’re on some seriously shaky ground playing that card. I’d have more respect for you if you at least owned up to your prejudice.

In countries where homosexuality is illegal and those suspected of homosexuality fall victim to some seriously heinous actions, I doubt that the CoE accepting gay marriage is going to lead them to turn on the local Christians. I mean, I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing in a lot of these countries the local Christians are probably quite vocal in their condemnation of the gays, in fact, what’ll probably happen is local churches will sever any ties with the CoE.

And even if this was the case, doesn’t it seem a bit defeatist. “Oh, if we accept gay rights, people elsewhere will get killed”.

We let women vote here in the UK years ago, after serious protests. Yet in other countries this would be unacceptable? Should we have not let them vote because women elsewhere who decided they wanted some rights would get hurt?

Similarly slavery. Abolition of slavery happened here in Britain (1833), decades before it happened in America (1865). Hell, in some parts of the States voicing anti-slavery opinion could get you in some serious trouble. Should we just have kept our slaves so that people elsewhere were safe?

You can’t deny people human rights at home because people elsewhere don’t have them. In fact, the opposite is advisable. The more rights we, and other countries, give our citizens moves things along. When we say that discrimination or denial of rights is wrong it sends a message. It lends our support to those suffering elsewhere, our human rights groups will campaign so that those rights are protected elsewhere, and that we are thinking of those people who still live deprived of those rights.

We set an example in embracing different people. It’s why preserving the rights of others is vital.

To change gears massively, it’s like Halal meat. We protect that because we accept other cultures and religions. Elsewhere, religious freedom isn’t a given. But we must hold firm. You can’t criticize the oppression of Christians abroad if you’re infringing on the rights of Jews, Muslims or any other faith, if you do your hypocrisy is plain to the world.

Here in the West we have the chance to set an  example of acceptance and equality. I’m not saying, that those countries Welby listed are just going to follow our lead, but we set that example. And the triumph of groups like Stonewall here emboldens those elsewhere to fight for their rights, to not hide in shame and fear, but to see that there is a potential for change, and a way for society to evolve into something more accepting. It won’t be easy, in fact, it’ll be heart breakingly difficult at times, and the cost may be high.

Sadly, that seems to be the way things work in this f**ked up world, for people to get rights others have to risk all, battle hard and sometimes suffer for. I wish this wasn’t the case, but you keep fighting and one day the world will be a better place, not just for your group, but for all. Because giving someone else rights doesn’t diminish yours, unless you’re afraid of losing the “right” to abuse and persecute.

The thing that gets me the most is that Welby’s comments seem painfully un-Christian. I mean, I may be misunderstanding my Bible, after all, I’m a retired amateur and he’s a professional at the top of the game, but I don’t remember any instance where Jesus takes the attitude of “Do the right thing. Unless doing the right thing hurts you and yours, in which case, screw ’em!” Which, is basically what Welby is saying, when you strip it down.

He talks about seeing a mass grave in South Sudan where Christians were killed over fears that it would force everyone to be gay (I’m not sure what he’s referring to but here’s the article). That’s a tragedy. A tragedy brought about by ignorance, prejudice and cruelty.  A terrible, horrifying example of why we need to increase awareness, understanding and equality. Everywhere. Starting at home and hoping the good spreads.

I know some people are probably saying “But, Chris you can’t compare the two or measure them side by side, homosexuals in the UK didn’t have it that bad”. And you’d have a point, but human rights aren’t a sliding scale, it’s all or nothing. You can’t say, “I know it’s rough that you can’t marry, but at least we’re not arresting you anymore”, because the core tenet of human rights is that all rights are protected, for everyone, everywhere, as long as they’re not harming anyone else, they have the right to live their life how they want- to express their love, beliefs and individuality.

A man in Welby’s position has a chance to take a stand, to help the CoE move into the modern day.

To accept, with love, a group of God’s children that they have treated badly in the past. To provide comfort to their members who’s sexuality may be causing them problems or doubts. Welby could offer a hand or a shoulder to those homosexual Christians who must feel abandoned by both sides at times. The unaccepting Church and the gay community which sometimes criticizes and demonizes religion. Welby could make fences and help those people out, rebuild relationships and families.

And again, the dude probably knows more than me, but from what I remember of Sunday School, that sounds like what JC woulda done.

That acceptance, compassion and love is what Christianity is all about in it’s best moments- helping others, even when they are different from you. Look at those WWJD bracelets and you’ll know I’m right, Welby.

JC

So, I hope Welby’s stance changes, and that the example set here in England and Wales has positive effects elsewhere.

Oh, and a hearty congratulations to all the couples, straight and gay who have got married recently.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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