Arguments and counter-arguments are emerging in the local mediascape as gay 'marriage' has come out of the closet of possible legislation into the open lounge of actual legislation being considered by our Parliament. Already I see signs that these arguments are likely to be like ships passing in the night. Pro the bill, for example, are arguments about rights to equal treatment. Against the bill are concerns about the general health and strength of marriage in our society. There is a case, is there not, for both perspectives to be accorded fair consideration by our politicians?
For myself I am not quite sure why we should ask parliament to maintain the status quo. In the current climate engendered by Western culture, that would be to beat the pro gay 'marriage' movement back for a while, but not to derail it for long. The issue will not go away if defeated on this occasion. What we should do as churches is argue for the distinctiveness of Christian teaching on marriage to be protected appropriately in the new society which will follow change to legislation. Such protection can be argued on the grounds of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
For a new society will follow change to legislation. Despite the general emotional climate of support for Louisa Wall's bill being one of sympathy to the plight of the marginalised underdog (which always works well in Kiwi culture), the legislation will have consequences unseen while the focus lies on improving the equality of gay couples. Post the bill being passed the way society engages with marriage, through language, other legislation, and education will be affected. Political correctness will require equal treatment of gay and straight couples in ways which move the climate from gracious support of the underdog to unflinching tyranny over those who to their dying day believe a marriage is constituted through gender differentiation.
To an extent the UK is providing the clues as to how that tyranny will arise. A few days ago Prime Minister Dave I Know All About Church Cameron told the churches to fall into line with his policies on gay 'marriage.' Quite rightly Anglican Mainstream have taken him to task for misrepresentation of the churches of Britain. It would be naive to think their protestations will make any difference.
At least in NZ I don't think we will have John Key pretending he understands the churches in these islands.
In order for the arguments not to be like ships passing in the night, I hope our church leaders come at the issue differently to what I have so far seen on TV and in the written news. I think there should be less arguing against the legislation on grounds that do not relate to the grounds on which the legislation is founded. Instead there should be more arguing for the churches (and other faiths) to be free to propound teaching on marriage which is differentiated from the secular 'theology' of parliament and society in general.