Even as a (gay) atheist, Matthew Parris writes in this week’s Spectator, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change? Time was — even in my time — when there were quiet, understated, sometimes quite severe men of the cloth, often wearing bifocal spectacles, who could show us moral relativists a decent fight in that eternal debate. Now there’s only the emotional witness of the ranting evangelicals, most of them pretty dim. How I miss the fine minds of bishops like Joseph Butler, who remarked drily to John Wesley: ‘Sir, the pretending to extraordinary revelations, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, is an horrid thing, a very horrid thing.’
So, wearily and with a reluctance born of not even supporting the argument’s conclusion, let me restate the conservative Catholic’s only proper response to news such as that from Dublin last weekend. It is that 62 per cent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin.
Can’t these Christians see that the moral basis of their faith cannot be sought in the pollsters’ arithmetic? What has the Irish referendum shown us? It is that a majority of people in the Republic of Ireland in 2015 do not agree with their church’s centuries-old doctrine that sexual relationships between two people of the same gender are a sin. Fine: we cannot doubt that finding. But can a preponderance of public opinion reverse the polarity between virtue and vice? Would it have occurred for a moment to Moses (let alone God) that he’d better defer to Moloch-worship because that’s what most of the Israelites wanted to do?
Read all of his searing satire here.
2 thoughts on “Moses got it badly wrong – the Irish put it right by out-voting God”
” What has the Irish referendum shown us? It is that a majority of people in the Republic of Ireland in 2015 do not agree with their church’s centuries-old doctrine that sexual relationships between two people of the same gender are a sin. ”
While it may perhaps be true that the average person does not see these relationships as a sin, that conclusion does not follow from the referendum, nor should it. For an old-fashioned liberal it is enough to grant liberties (so long as those liberties are self-regarding and do not cause harm), one does not have to approve of their exercise. The virtue or vice of same-sex marriage was not at issue, it was whether society had a right to elevate that judgement to a legal standing upon consenting adults. The people of Ireland have answered that question.
We shouldn’t forget that religious expression is another liberty that was historically denied and is to this day. Consider then how hypocritical it is to maintain any form of persecution while claiming to be the disciples of Christ.
I don’t think that there is anything there Andrew that I fundamentally disagree with – people’s perception of what was at issue is hard to judge. For me the bottom line was family and childen – and the State’s amd media’s exercise of power.
‘Hope you are keeping well.