A Remarkable Thing
This week’s vote in the Scottish Parliament on the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill was no surprise. At Stage 1 last November the vote was 98 to 15 in favour and at the third and final stage on Tuesday it was little different at 105 to 18. Various attempts to amend the legislation by strengthening safeguards for those who cannot in good conscience agree with same-sex ‘marriage’ were heavily defeated. There was applause in the chamber as the result was announced (surely inappropriate for any legislature) and celebrations of a distasteful kind took place outside the Parliament building.
There is no point in hiding from the sad reality which led to this outcome. The vote reflects the fact that our elected representatives, almost without exception, are not Christians in any meaningful sense of the term. They do not believe the Bible and they do not love the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of them do not even acknowledge the existence of God. In their liberal attitudes and enthusiasm for ‘progressive’ ideas they are doubtless ahead of society as a whole but perhaps not by so much as we would like to think: Scotland is changing and not for the better.
The job of steering the Bill through Parliament was given to Mr Alex Neil, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing. The irony of this appears to have been lost on the Scottish Government: how perverse that the minister with that responsibility should be entrusted with legislation which can only be detrimental to our national well-being, bringing the vital institution of marriage into ridicule and contempt as it does!
In opening the debate on Tuesday Mr Neil said: “We are doing a remarkable thing today. We are saying to the world, loud and clear, on behalf of Scotland, that we believe in recognising love between same-sex couples in the same way that we do between opposite-sex couples.”
Mr Neil is of course correct. The Scottish Parliament has done a remarkable thing – although not in the sense Mr Neil had in mind. The legalising of same-sex marriage is remarkable for many reasons.
It is certainly a remarkable thing that a nation to which God has granted such a wonderful gospel heritage should appear so determined to forsake it. For many years now Scotland has been like profane Esau, desiring a carnal portion rather than a spiritual one (Heb. 12:16). This week she went a step further, embracing sin of a gross kind and rejoicing over it. In passing this legislation Scotland is attempting to do the impossible: to dignify a relationship based on vile affections by placing it on the same level as the union of marriage. She is attempting to do this despite the clear teaching and solemn warnings of Holy Scripture.
It is no use to be told that Scotland is now the seventeenth country in the world to have legalised same-sex marriage, as though we should all be proud of the fact. For one thing there is no safety in numbers in a matter like this. For another there is no comfort to be gained from having joined the other sixteen. Look at the lands which made the move before us. They are almost all in the West where increasing moral disorder is leading to the breakdown of society, confusion over national identity and a declining influence in the world. In contrast many nations in Africa and Asia are on the rise; among them are countries where Christianity is having a significant influence and where homosexual behaviour is rightly regarded as abhorrent. How are the mighty fallen!
It is a remarkable thing too that intelligent individuals are unable to distinguish between the love which two people of the opposite sex may have for each other and the ‘love’ of two people of the same sex. We shouldn’t really need to explain things to our MSPs but basic biology and conscience tell us that the first of these is natural and God-given while the second is unnatural and forbidden. Our physiology and instinct point us in the direction of the former and sin (not genes or environment) leads some people to go in the way of the latter. Acts of parliament do not change these facts: marriage is still only between a man and a woman.
Why then the difficulty on the part of our politicians? The answer is quite simple – and quite devastating. We cannot abandon belief in the God of the Bible without there being consequences, one of which is a judicial blindness rendering us incapable of determining between right and wrong as we should. If we reject the idea of an absolute morality and become indifferent to the claims of God’s law then we will end up like Pontius Pilate, trying to absolve ourselves from making judgments on moral matters by saying, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). That may be a convenient position for politicians who wish to please men but it is a weak and incompetent one: anybody can see that when the divine standard is dispensed with the very possibility of having any moral norms is gone, for who then has the authority to decide what they will be?
In apportioning blame for the tragedy of same-sex marriage we must add to our politicians those craven churchmen who rather than make a stand for the Lord have gone out of their way to appease the homosexual lobby for fear of being labelled ‘homophobic’. The national Church in particular has compromised itself with its ‘facing-both-ways’ stance – affirming the historic doctrine and practice on sexuality but permitting Kirk Sessions to depart from it. If the Church of Scotland can allow individuals who are in same-sex relationships into the ranks of her ministry then how can it maintain that such relationships are wrong for the rest of the population? There is no point in trying to meet the homosexual lobby halfway by supporting civil partnerships but not same-sex marriage: that lobby will not be placated until, in league with others, it has abolished our Christian culture.
Finally we may say it is a remarkable thing that the Lord is so long-suffering with us. The introduction of same-sex marriage is notable for its brazenness, recklessness and stupidity but it is simply the latest provocation we are guilty of as a nation, coming after the legalisation of other evils such as gambling, abortion and easy divorce. As believers we want to ask our rulers, What wrong has the Lord done to us as a nation, that we should do these things to Him? It is a great mercy that despite our defiance of God’s laws we have not yet been utterly wasted by Him in His wrath (Isa. 60:12).
However if the Parliament did indeed speak on behalf of the country on Tuesday then we are in serious trouble. We are saying to the Lord as a people, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways” (Job 21:14). We agree with a Free Presbyterian minister who wrote to all MSPs: “The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is highly immoral, entirely unnatural, constitutionally illegal, and absurdly irrational....This legislation will certainly bring spiritual if not temporal judgments on Scotland if passed.” Let us remember that the worst judgment is not when gales and floods are sent upon us; it is when God simply leaves us to ourselves.
Can this wicked legislation be overturned? Yes, of course! Not by man but by the Lord, for whom nothing is too hard. We must continue raising our voice and plead more earnestly with God to help us in all our national sinfulness – before it is too late for our land. Let us not fail in our holy calling.