Matthew Parris, blogging in The Spectator, has been quoted by a number of Christian sources for his recent comments regarding the Same Sex Marriage referendum result in Ireland. His words are brilliant and challenging. Although they might be seen primarily as directed towards the Roman Catholic Church, I think they are also a stinging rebuke to modern day evangelics such as Tony Campolo (see below) who are tempted to compromise in a day of increasing pressure from secularisation of society.
Whilst I would not claim to agree with all that he says, I shall quote a few lines from Parris below (follow the link and read the whole article, it is interesting). After parodying the remarks of the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martina he says this,
Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change? Time was — even in my time — when there were quiet, understated, sometimes quite severe men of the cloth, often wearing bifocal spectacles, who could show us moral relativists a decent fight in that eternal debate. Now there’s only the emotional witness of the ranting evangelicals, most of them pretty dim. How I miss the fine minds of bishops like Joseph Butler, who remarked drily to John Wesley: ‘Sir, the pretending to extraordinary revelations, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, is an horrid thing, a very horrid thing.’
So, wearily and with a reluctance born of not even supporting the argument’s conclusion, let me restate the conservative Catholic’s only proper response to news such as that from Dublin last weekend. It is that 62 per cent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin.
Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? What has the Irish referendum shown us? It is that a majority of people in the Republic of Ireland in 2015 do not agree with their church’s centuries-old doctrine that sexual relationships between two people of the same gender are a sin. Fine: we cannot doubt that finding. But can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?
It must surely be implicit in the claim of any of the world’s great religions that on questions of morality, a majority may be wrong; but this should be vividly evident to Christians in particular: they need only consider the fate of their Messiah, and the persecution of adherents to the Early Church. ‘Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you,’ says Paul. What does the Archbishop of Dublin now have to say to the 743,300 people who voted to uphold what their priests taught them was God’s will? These, and not the gays, are now the reviled ones. Popular revulsion cannot make them wrong.
For those of you who don’t know, yesterday, Tony Campolo, a hero of mine in the Evangelical wing of Christianity, decided that God now approves of homosexuality. I was surprised and disappointed by his statements. Though I am sure I do not understand all that he has gone through in coming to this decision, I do sincerely believe he is wrong.
It seems that at times the church needs the world to challenge us regarding our real convictions. Thank you Matthew Parris.
Remember Jesus Christ, nailed to a cross and crucified, before you decide to compromise your faith.