I got another letter recently urging me to write to peers about the same-sex marriage bill. I can't remember how many I've had over the time period since the first announcement of the bill, it's not so many that I'm overly bothered about the amount of paper and post involved. No, my concern is with the image of the church it presents and the questions and issues upon which it doesn't challenge me to engage with my elected representatives. Mind you, if I wrote to my MP about everything that maybe should concern me, I too would be adding to the deforestation of the forests but increasing the turn over of the Post Office. Truly a dilemma for an advocate of both environmental awareness and the national postal system!
No, the real question for e remains one of how the church is perceived, how the things about which we protest or campaign generate an image about the things that most concern us. It's the old issue of people knowing what the church is against but not what it is for. As one person recently tweeted: People think christians are obsessed with same sex marriage. I'm obsessed with protesting about a million people who need food banks.
Too often we remain silent or unheard on issues like poverty, racism, social policy etc. We fail to be the voice of the powerless because we are too busy defending doctrine. I've said before that personally I am not convinced that we should be that concerned about the same-sex bill. Why would be want to deny in law the right to marry to the gay community just because it doesn't fit our theology? Again this isn't a matter of theology, it's a matter of justice, an although our theology should be clearly reflected in our ethics, is the rule of law in our society a theological question?
Perhaps, if I were to write to a peer or my MP it would be more about government policy towards the poor and powerless, about the human rights of detainees in Afghanistan, about my worries over arming "moderate opposition forces" in Syria (does putting a rocket in their hands make them more or less moderate?).
And on the issue of marriage? Well what makes marriage more than a civil partnership, a legal contract? I am married. I have a piece of paper to prove it. But my marriage is more than a piece of paper, and is in no way defined solely by that piece of paper.