Same-sex union/marriage: Radical thoughts

Clinton Chisholm

Monday, September 02, 2019

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People who love and care for one another should be free to show that care in deeply practical ways. I maintain the belief that love protects the beloved through the law, as far as possible. No society, however well-policed, can do much about people's private relationships and behaviour in relative privacy. While it is true that sexual behaviour in private can and sometimes does have societal repercussions, one has to be careful about moving an argument logically along the spectrum of possible, probable, likely, certain.

Now marriage as a term, though traditionally understood as between male and female for millennia, need not remain conceptualised in that way. But no matter how a society defines marriage it has never been without inevitable boundaries to some people. Hence, there has never been, and may never be genuine 'marriage equality' where any two people who desire it can get married, regardless. There are age limits, bloodline restrictions, etc. So, a particular society just needs to do what it sovereignly chooses and provide a rational defence for its limiting factors, be that gender, age, bloodline, or whatever else.

I support a suggestion advanced by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet in their book on same-sex marriage, namely, that the Church should seek to separate its marriage function from the State's, thus reflecting its view of marriage as distinct from how the State may view marriage. People, then, especially in a non-theocratic or secular society, can get a marriage licence from the State to permit a lawful marriage by a State-certified marriage officer. Folk who feel no obligation to live by the gender canon of any holy book can enjoy the benefits of a simply lawful marriage, and religious folk can enjoy the benefits of a lawful and divinely valid marriage.

Even if same-sex marriage becomes legal in Jamaica no clergy person need fear reprisal from deciding not to perform any such wedding. I am not saying this because I no longer live in my beloved native land, but because even if I was still resident in Jamaica and a marriage officer (which I was not up to my departure on August 30) nobody could compel me to do any wedding ceremony at all. If I am not available I am not available, and I owe no one any reason at all why I am not available. Years ago, when I was a marriage officer, a colleague from another denomination, who was not a marriage officer, asked me to do the ceremony for a couple from his church. I agreed on condition that they come to the church by a certain time because I had a family commitment and I was not going to be late for it. On the day of the wedding I passed by the couple's place and reminded them of the time constraints and also told them that if they are not on time I would be gone. As it turned out, after waiting half-hour beyond the agreed time for the wedding — with only a page boy present — I told him to tell the couple, if they showed up, that I was there and I drove off. Not available for that wedding. I don't know what happened with that ceremony and, quite frankly, I don't care either.

The same thing of availability is true for anyone who wants me to speak at any function. If I can't make it I do not owe you an explanation. It is enough that I said I am not available, though one clown wanted me to speak at his church a Sunday evening and, after I told him I was not available, he asked why not. I did not tell him but thought of saying: “It is none of your damn business.” I simply and politely repeated my unavailability and hung up the phone. Crazy!

If a positive law makes a provision for people of the same gender to get married I cannot see how that provision entails a coercion on everyone to perform such a ceremony or provide services for that ceremony (culinary, photography, etc). Find an available person or people to assist you, but how does that involve me if I am not available?

Which law could compel a particular restaurant to extend its regular opening hours to accommodate an impromptu church board dinner party when the key workers at the restaurant had prior commitments right after closing time? Find a restaurant that can help you out!

Common sense must prevail.

clintchis@yahoo.com


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