Originally posted at Livejournal 26th January 2011
Over the last few days I’ve been mentally returning time and again to the recent case that has been going through the British courts, regarding the case of the couple in Cornwall who refused to allow two men in a Civil Partnership to share a bed when they stayed at their guesthouse in 2008; saying that they did not allow unmarried couples to share a room, that was contrary to their Christian beliefs. The courts ruled on January 18th that the two men had been discriminated against.
Although I can understand where the owners of the guesthouse are coming from, I believe the courts are right in ruling that the men have been discriminated against, and if the couple had a better working knowledge of their Bible, may be they would have seen it too before it ever got this far.
Look at 1 Peter 2:13-16. If you don’t have a Bible to hand, here’s what it says:
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. (NIV)
What Peter says here is a challenge to anyone who is going to try and dodge the laws of the land by using the excuse that it’s against their Christian beliefs to submit to them. Peter says to submit to every human authority, it does not mean you have the right to pick and choose what you will or will not submit to or which officials you will or will not acknowledge. You may think that David Cameron is a wazzock, but sadly for you he’s a God-appointed wazzock, so suck it up and knuckle under. Yes, he and the whole Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalititon government are the democratically elected and God-appointed authority for this country. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Roman’s 13:1-2.
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (NIV)
Now, unlike the whim of a Pharoah, the laws of this green and pleasant land are made through due process, where our representatives get a chance to speak for or against it in the Houses of Parliament. Hopefully, what comes out the other end of the House of Lords and goes off to Buckingham Palace for Royal Assent to become a piece of legislation is of benefit to us all and enables us to live in a fair, and by-and-large peaceful, society.
Going back to what Peter was saying, this means that once something becomes law, for example, in the case of Civil Partnerships, you have no basis legally or, in fact morally to ignore that law. God is asking you – for HIS sake, not yours, to submit to every human authority. He’s put the government there, they are there by his say so and it is your duty to submit to them and abide by the law of the land. You can spout off about Christian rights as much as you like, but there it is in the Bible: submit to it, deal with it, this is what God wants you to do.
This does not of course exempt you from speaking out against injustice against wrongdoing or against corruption. You are to hold everyone who holds office accountable and ensure this country is never using the law to usher in things that are clearly wrong.
“But Rachel, you’re a Christian” you say. “How can you say that sex before marriage is right or that homosexuality is right and allow it to go on when the Bible clearly says that it is wrong?” I will respond by asking why a monogamous twenty-year old relationship that can’t produce a piece of paper, or has a different piece of paper saying it’s a Civil Partnership is less valid than a marriage with a piece of paper where all the couple do is scream at each other all the time?
I don’t condone behaving like a slut by any sex, but I think the presence of a deep, faithful love is enough to convince me of the validity of someone’s relationship.
Did Adam give Eve a piece of paper..? Just asking…
Was Jesus born in wedlock…? Again, just asking…
Pride, jealously, gluttony, greed, laziness and not spending enough time thinking about and actioning what God wants me to do are all ways I fall short of the standard God sets us, before we get down to the trivialities of a lack of a marriage certificate, or the biological state of being born preferring to love members of your own sex.
May I remind you of Matthew 7:3 which asks us why we persist in seeing the minor cracks in other people’s lives but are somehow blind to the major fault-lines in our own?
The sad fact of cases like this is yet another example of where the public at large are going to think that all Christians are narrow-minded people who don’t think the law applies to them. Wouldn’t it have been nice; no, wonderful if the true message of Christianity had come through in all this?
How about this scenario… Imagine pitching up at a guesthouse with the most unbelievable welcome, the most amazing food, the most charming hosts and where no effort is spared in making your stay as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible. Imagine having the good news about the gospel shared with you in an unforced, easy way, where you get to discuss a few of the issues that concern you about Christianity. They can’t answer all your questions but the ones they do are done so honestly and plainly. You leave having had a wonderful stay and with the impression that Christians can’t be all hypocrites if some of them are as genuine and as likeable as the couple who run this guesthouse. Maybe Christianity has something to recommend it after all…
Wouldn’t that be a better way to be sharing the love of God and demonstrate what Christianity is all about, instead of getting bogged down with legalistic rubbish about what is and what is not ‘acceptable’ under your roof? The fact is, is that in Britain we recognise same sex relationships in Civil Partnerships and we long ago stopped thinking of unmarried couples as ‘living in sin.’
May I point out to every Christian that Matthew 7:1 clearly states that it’s not your job to go around judging people as you will get the same given back to you. Your job is to be loving people and serving people and if you don’t want to serve gay or unmarried people in your guesthouse, may I politely suggest a new career?
Once again I return to the basics. If you claim to be Christians, for goodness sake READ and STUDY your Bibles, make sure you know what it says rather than thinking you know what it says. If you are going to bleat on about this being a Christian country, then stop going to car boot sales on Sunday morning and get in a church, find your faith and stand up and be counted as a Christian. If you’re going to wear your Christianity as some sort of shiny Tufty Club badge and do nothing about it then don’t come crying to me when you stand in front of Jesus and he doesn’t know who you are (Matthew 7:23, Luke 12:8). Christians are residing in this country to be salt and light to all people, to demonstrate God’s love to all people, to tell the good news to all nations (Matthew 28:19).
Ah… Notice there that Jesus says all nations… He doesn’t pick and choose who is ‘good enough,’ he says all nations. ALL? Does that mean everyone in ALL the nations? Well he doesn’t specify any exclusions. Even gay people? Even people who haven’t got married? So that must mean that everyone is included.
… Just saying…
Please note: I am not a scholar, I do not hold a theology degree, I am nobody but just an ordinary woman living out a Christian life as best I can with the help of the Holy Spirit. These are my thoughts, my opinions and I am always grateful to those who will gently correct my errors or suggest a biblically-based alternative point of view. I welcome your comments and constructive criticism.
Rachel J Lewis | 26th January 2011