31 October 2017Opinion
Before I launch into this, necessary proviso: the views expressed herein are my own, and not necessarily the views of any church or company that I am a part of or affiliated with, et cetera, et cetera. All good? Bueno.
You have, by this stage, probably read post after post about the “postal vote” on same-sex marriage. Or “postal survey”. Or “very-expensive, non-compulsory, non-binding community poll”. And you’re probably tired of hearing about it — why it’s good, or why it’s bad, or why it’s both, in so many different ways. So I’m going to try and avoid that part as much as I can.
I’ve been finding it interesting. Social media has come to the point where it further and further resembles an echo chamber, with people only listening to and viewing things with which they agree, and hiding away everything else. There are some “no” voters that are probably mostly seeing other people that are the same, and “yes” voters that are only seeing those that are doing likewise. But I’m seeing a lot of both.
The reason for that isn’t too tricky. I’m a Christian, and so I have a large number of Christian friends who are voting “no”, and I see what they’re posting on social media. But I’m voting “yes” and I’m in a younger demographic, so I see a lot of people who are voting “yes” as well. It’s been interesting feeling like you’re almost in both camps — not in the sense that I’m unsure about which way to vote, I’ll hasten to add, because I’ve been a “yes” voter well before there was even a vote to have.
Marriage equality has been a popular topic for many years now, and pretty much ever since it came up I knew that I was supporting it. For me, it was obvious, evident. It didn’t matter that I was a Christian, or what I thought the Bible did or didn’t say on the topic. It wasn’t a Christian issue. It was a human rights issue, and a question of freedom. I generally try to err on the side of letting people make their own decisions for themselves, whether I think they’re good or not (I think this one’s a great one, as an aside). From a Christian perspective God gave us free will, and that was rather important. So I think it’s important to uphold free will or freedom of choice as much as possible.
Let me give you an example, so you can see what I’m talking about. Because it’s easy to take that argument to extremes if you want to.
You could argue, for instance, that you should be free to kill someone. Well, technically, you are. There’s nothing to physically stop you from doing that (though there may be things that make it more difficult, depending on where you live). There are just rather stringent consequences in place legally if you do so. Generally speaking, this is a better way of doing things, than attempting to ban or block something entirely, but it depends on what the thing is. You could say, for instance, that the prohibition of alcohol in the USA during the early 20th Century didn’t go particularly well; but it’s a lot easier to block something that is non-physical, when you control the supply. Hence, the issue of marriage. Because people can, of course, have their own ceremonies and call it a marriage – but it’s whether the law recognises them as such or not that is more the issue.
Coming back to my point about being in two camps: it’s not so much about me being unsure of where I stand, it’s more being in the somewhat interesting position of being able to look at both sides fairly clearly, and seeing a lot that’s happening on both. There’s good and bad on each side — as you get in any debate — but there’s been a lot of bitterness in this debate, which is sad to see. Understandable, certainly: on the one hand, you have people who are believing that their holy sacrament of marriage is being torn apart, and on the other you have people who are being told that it’s “okay to say no” to the relationships that they’ve had for so long. And yes, I’m very much simplifying the views there, I realise that, but I think this is where much of the bitterness arises from.
For myself, I’m somewhat tired of it all. Tired of people shouting at each other about something that should have been done and dusted a long time ago so that we can get on to looking at other big things, like the ridiculous immigration policies we have, or actually moving forward somewhat with renewable energy, or attempting to clean up the mess that everybody seems to be intent on making around the world. But, for what is claimed to be such an exemplary country, we certainly have some backwards views.