Live and Let Die – Lessons from the Scottish Parliaments Debate on SSM
A great day for Scotland. A great day for democracy. A great day for equality. A great debate showing the brilliance of our politicians. Its time to party, party, party. Celebrate good times, come on! But what did we really learn from the historic last week that the Scottish Parliament finalised Same Sex Marriage?
1) In this Brave New World, some people are more ‘equal’ than others. Alex Neil the minister responsible for steering the bill through said there was nothing in the bill that would hinder people’s freedom of speech. But he is missing the point. There is nothing in the bill that will hinder government and other organisations discriminating against those who hold to the biblical view of marriage. For example the Church of Scotland and the Humanist Society recently proposed to the Scottish Parliament that those who do not sign up to a schools equality and diversity policy should not be allowed to lead religious observance in that school. Given that same sex marriage is often dubbed ‘equal marriage’ there is nothing in the bill to stop schools banning those of us who hold to the traditional view. This is just one of the examples of discrimination that we will face in the future. Our children will be indoctrinated and our opinions will be mocked and ridiculed. Jackson Carlaw, Tory MP, cited from South Pacific ‘you’ve got to be taught to hate”. The implication is that who oppose the new morality are haters. And our children will be taught to hate ‘the haters’. And who is to say it will stop there? Is this really equality and diversity? When MSPs voted 95:19 to reject John Mason’s amendment to protect those who hold to traditional views, they gave a clear indication of what is likely to happen.
2) We are governed by opinion poll and the media zeitgeist, as much as we are by politicians and policies. Several MSPs pointed out that public opinion was on the side of SSM. Once again we ask simply if they are so confident why did they not actually ask the Scottish people in a referendum? Government by opinion poll does not indicate a healthy mature democracy. Perhaps in the new Scotland we could a more Swiss style of democracy where we actually get to vote on important issues, rather than being told that politicians are representing the will of the people as expressed in loaded and limited opinion polls? One MSP boldly declared that the bill would be passed. It was a foregone conclusion. Indeed it was. But not just on the night. It was a foregone conclusion before the ‘consultation’ even began.
3) Our politicians are often full of hubris and their own importance. MSPs congratulated one another as to how brilliant they were and what a great debate they had had. There is a danger that they will really believe their own publicity. Those who make truly brilliant speeches don’t need to tell themselves that they are brilliant! Let another praise you, and not your own mouth. The truth is that the overall standard of debate was of schoolboy quality and devoid of substantive content. The self-congratulatory nature of the debate still refused to recognise the legitimate concerns and questions of those who just refuse to bow before the dictates of our masters and betters. We do not share the faith of MSPs that this change will ‘strengthen marriage’ and make it more acceptable. We wonder if this does not happen, whether they will be willing to return to parliament and apologise for the harm they have done
4) We have some fine Christian MSPs who did not bow the knee to Baal. Those like Richard Lyle and John Mason who, in the face of incredible pressure, held their own and spoke up for the biblical and sane position. May God protect and keep them.
5) Sentiment and not logic seems to be the basis of much of our politicians’ decision making. Jim Eadie declared that the bill is the measure of a civilised and just society and that loving and committed relationships between two people should be recognised in the law. Given that criteria Mr Eadie can have no logical reason for not allowing two sisters in a loving and committed relationship not to marry? And why should he arbitrarily restrict the number to two people? What if five people are in a loving and committed relationship? Another MSP said that this now meant that ‘any couple’ could be married. No it doesn’t. There are many couples who cannot get married if they wish. But why should logic or truth get in the way of the Disneyesque sentiment that our politicians speak?!
6) Our Politicians seem unable to define what marriage actually is – this is quite a serious point-not least because the bill actually redefines marriage. In fact the more I listened the more I thought that this was more about enabling same sex couples to have a wedding day, than it was about marriage. Given the criteria espoused by most of the politicians it seems as though they have just changed every marriage into a civil partnership. Jacqui Bailey in an appalling self-absorbed speech spoke of how the bill could only strengthen marriage. Yet neglected to mention how this would actually happen.
7) The Tory Party in Scotland is finished – Unless it manages to get itself some decent leadership. There is no reason why anyone of a conservative disposition should vote for the Conservative party. The contribution of Jackson Carlaw was desperate. Yet he doubtless thought he was really witty and displaying the nice modern face of the new Tory party. His next step will be to push for Margo MacDonald’s euthanasia bill. An economically right wing Tory with a socially liberal agenda – to my mind that’s the worst of both worlds!
8) There is a strong anti-Christian prejudice in the Scottish Parliament – It was incredible how many MSPs felt that they could lecture the church on what we should believe. The ridicule and mockery was barely contained. Perhaps some day MSPs will be prepared to let those of us who actually know something about the Bible and Christian theology permission to speak and deal with their ignorant prejudice. Kevin Stewart and Patrick Harvie for example told us how they knew better than church leaders what our people actually think. How ironic that this came from a parliament which refused to consult the people!
9) Some Christians don’t know how to engage the public discourse and would be better keeping silent. Opportunity was given to the mockers by a minister who sent out a letter telling them that his conscience was clear but they were going to be judged by God. Telling people they are going to hell because of one particular policy is an absurd way to behave – and really poor theology. And an absolute gift to the scoffers. And standing outside parliament with placards of scripture verses is to my mind almost as detrimental. What did the placarders think they would achieve? Other than encourage those who think the opposition were religious nutcases anyway? Can you imagine the early church picketing Nero’s palace?!
10) The chaos in the Church of Scotland is having a national impact – several MSPs are elders or members of the Church of Scotland. They know that their church is in a mess on this, as on many other issues. They listened silently, or even joined in, as bible believing Christians were openly mocked and ridiculed. On the Call Kaye programme the morning after the night before, Rev Alan Hamilton demonstrated the weakness of the Kirk’s position, when he declared that the Church of Scotland is a broad church that is trying to discern the will of God. Does the Church of Scotland really not know the will of God? Is the will of God ‘discerned’ by church politics and votes in the General Assembly, or by the Word of God? Should ministers now really be preaching the Acts of Assembly or the Acts of the Apostles?
11) It won’t end here. Patrick Harvie said that in a few years we will wonder what all the fuss is about. He may be right. We will certainly have moved backwards to other things. The Equality Network will after all need to find another cause to bring the promised Nirvana.
12) There were some good promised safeguards. To be fair to the Scottish government, they have been trying hard. Mike Russell for example mentioned education guidelines which should mean that groups which oppose SSM should not be discriminated against in the hire of school premises. We will see how long this lasts.
13) The government sponsored agency, The Equality Network, and Stonewall have an influence in the Scottish Parliament, well beyond the strength of their numbers or their arguments. The amendments protecting freedom of speech did not go through primarily because Stonewall pronounced them to be ‘discriminatory’. End of story. Few MSPs would dare take on Stonewall and run the risk of being declared discriminatory. The Scottish government funds The Equality Network, not to campaign against the enormous social and economic inequalities we see in Scottish society, but rather to campaign on LBGT issues. The Equality Network in turn praise the government and the government praise them, in an incestuous dance of self-congratulation. And of course the Equality Network in order to find reasons to justify their continued existence and funding, will soon be hunting for homophobes under the bed. Never mind the next step is according to Patrick Harvie – the Commonwealth Games – where we can use our position as host nation to lecture the rest of the Commonwealth on the most important issue facing humanity today – homosexual rights. Lets forget about the massacres of Christians, or the 2 billion people in the world living in poverty – as long as we focus on gay rights the whole world will be fine!
14) The Press did not seem to share the politicians view of their own ‘historic’ decision. I was astonished to discover the following day that only the Herald had SSM as its main issue. Why? Was it because the papers knew that it was already a done deal? But if this was truly more important than the referendum, why would that matter? Can you imagine the press, the day after the referendum, when Scotland votes to remain in the UK, relegating the story to the second page?! I would suggest that the newspapers, like the majority of people in Scotland, do not really see the significance of what was done. They have bought into the whole ‘this is just about equality for homosexuals and does not really affect us’ approach. It’s neither a cause for great celebration, nor great sorrow. Lets us just get on with life. The troubles at Rangers and the trials of Justin Beiber deserve more column inches.
15) This shows how far we have come as a society – Alex Neil said it showed that we can live and let live. That there will be different viewpoints and we can all be together in one rainbow nation. I disagree with this idealistic notion. The consequences of this will not be a more just, equal and diverse nation. It is part of a general regression to a Greco/Roman/Pagan worldview that will lead to increasing disparity between rich and poor, further social control by the elites, and a state imposed morality and intolerance towards all who do not accept it. It is not live and let live. It is live and let die. God have mercy.