Comments: Civil Partnerships in Ireland

I take my hat off to the Evangelical Alliance. What a gracious and well throught through response!

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 3:16pm GMT

Erika, I wish I could agree, but the Evangelical Alliance's insistence on the duty to model their superior heterosexual lives in the faces of any gay or lesbian couple unlucky enough to wander into one of their churches does not strike me as in any way compassionate or loving. Oh, sure, it's better than being pointed out from the pulpit and denounced as a sodomite. Half a loaf, and all that. But I can't say it's a good thing.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 4:34pm GMT

I am struck once again with the unwarranted, unearned and undeserved position of privilege and self righteousness I have as a female affectioned toward the opposite sex. I never have to make the decisions LGBT persons are being expected to make. I will never be asked to give up what LGBT persons are being asked to give up, in order to be acceptable, presumably, before Adonai, or in the church. I am sick to death of the self righteousness (in the correct and not pejorative sense of that phrase)of others who also are in my unwarranted, unearned, undeserved privilege of never having to make a choice, sitting in judgment of others not so privileged, regardless of how graciously that judgment is phrased.

Posted by Lois Keen at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 5:25pm GMT

I agree with Erica. This should be welcomed as a first sign of an Evangelica awareness of the world as it actually is. What a pity the EA in England doesn't have such a gracious attitude.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 5:32pm GMT

Charlotte,
it's just so refreshing to see a religious group agree that it has no business to interfere in civil affairs. That I don't like their faith position goes without saying, at least I can avoid evangelical churches. I can't avoid national legislation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 5:57pm GMT

I see what you mean, Erika.

There's a history here. Ireland used to be even more under the thumb of the Catholic Church than we in the US were under the thumb of the Christianist Religious Right. Now the Irish press has revealed the abuses of power, child molestations and coverups that took place over many years in the Irish Catholic Church.

So perhaps some Anglican Evangelicals in Ireland are learning from this sad history not to seek political power for themselves or enact into law their own morality.

American Evangelicals have yet to learn that lesson.

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 7:13pm GMT

As a gay activist here in the US, I have to agree with Erika. I've met American evangelical Christians, and I would be stunned if they becme this calm and rational. I praise the Irish Evangelical Alliance. They recogize that not everyone shares their view. They make their points, but recognize that this is coming down the tracks, so they lay out the issue in a straightforward manner, state their objections in a calm rational fashion, and end up not opposing the bill.
As far as "half a loaf", my understanding from the EAI position paper is that marriage can't be changed without a constitutional vote. That's not happening any time soon. Couples will have most of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. At least in the US, there are churches who will perform religious marriage ceremonies for gay or lesbian couples, so grab the Civil Partnership license, get married in an Irish church that performs one, et voila!
Those who demand all or nothing usually end up with nothing.

Posted by peterpi at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 7:26pm GMT

One of the most striking things about this position paper from Irish evangelical believers is its acceptance of an end to 'Christendom'. This clues us to a possible generational shift, maybe? Or, at least it would be cue to a generational shift in leadership if it were being published by a USA evangelical group?

Canary in the global change coal mine?

A corollary shift dimension then follows, relocating the main believer arena of stress or struggle or vexed yet shared discernment. Citizen life is no longer the automatic pilot core arena in which such traditional believers seek to be superior, special, protected from having to deal ethically and common sensically with diversity in modern social life. Special evangelical beliefs about one's own high superiority before God are no longer final, reliable guides to effective citizenship, public policy, law and modern ethical competency. Special religious cases automatically trusted?

If anything, such evangelicals have to be more careful than not (as the essay implicitly recognizes) since their special high view of themselves internally as especially saved will be commonly read from the outside as exactly the sort of holier than thou scorn which it actually is. No doubt, evangelicals would much prefer that the real scorn continue to be glossed as the standard compassion for unsaved others which it will still loudly be preached to be. Will protecting oneself from the dirtiness of rubbing shoulders with queer folks trump? Or, will flat earthisms change for the better? Hard-stuck Traditional Magisterium Glue of Christendom dissolved?

The dilemma of having one's evangelically distinguished self, community, and strongly insulated ways of life become the hot centers of attention and significance (rather than pointing to Jesus?) is the central secret and painful dilemma here.

The palpable tensions play out among all believers since Galileo-Copernicus-Bruno. Do flat earthisms ever really point to Jesus as Lord? Even when one's special bad conscience about queer folks is spotlighted by outright refusing of Irish occasions of fair public policy and law?

The entirely welcome evangelical updating still fudges a bit, insofar as it cannot see the elephant in the room, i.e., that many ethically commiteed queer couples would indeed get married if they could do so legally; and that their lives show forth practical and ethical goods which nearly anybody would be happy to have active in daily modern life. The essay leaves that discernment for another day, if ever.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 8:19pm GMT

Well said, Rev. Lois! Not sure if I could've distilled my own feelings down quite so well. I'm going to have to save that to my Commonplace file.

Posted by Oriscus at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 8:38pm GMT

A significant point about the statement from Evangelical Alliance Ireland that has not drawn much notice is that they are arguing for the civil rights of people who do NOT share their own perspectives. This is a pretty rare thing, and almost unknown on either the left or the right. Irish evangelicals, who have seen the devastation done by religious systems (as well as atheist systems) that attempt to impose their values by law, are in favour of a secular liberal state in which the religious voice has as much respect as the non-religious. Supporting the rights of those who agree with you is no particular virtue.

Posted by Narnia at Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 9:11pm GMT

drdanfee,
I don't think we can read so much into the statement. As several commentators have pointed out, evangelicals in Ireland operate in a much different context than evangelicals in the US (or even in England). In Ireland, the Christendom paradigm means Rome.

Nevertheless, I find it encouraging that any evangelical group is willing to seriously consider the human rights aspect, and engage in dialogue rather than condemnation.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 8:32pm GMT

Narnia, you said:

"A significant point about the statement from Evangelical Alliance Ireland that has not drawn much notice is that they are arguing for the civil rights of people who do NOT share their own perspectives. This is a pretty rare thing, and almost unknown on either the left or the right."

And indeed it is rare. Those who argue in a calm and reasonable way for the integrity of marriage have to be forced to go into hysterics because, these days, political correctness sometimes takes precedence over rational discourse. Not that there is no turning back, of course, on the accompanying linguistic issues, but I am increasingly convinced (as with the row over climate skepticism) that the problem lies with the performative contradictions in political/social discourse, whether on the left or on the right, wherein we affirm, say, rights and privileges for everyone, then refuse to acknowledge that, as Stanley Fish used to say, there is no such thing as free speech, and it is a good thing too.

In a way, the Irish Evangelical Alliance ought to point the way forward, as Narnia said. As God was generous to us by sending his own Son to a people who rejected him, so too must we who own the faith of Jesus.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 10:40pm GMT

This statement from the Irish Evangelicals seems to me to be a loving and careful understanding of the real needs of the LGBT community, whose situation is being treated respectfully by the
legislation being proposed by the Irish Government. This is a first step for gays in a country which has recently faced a major public scandal where the RCC has been found wanting in it's public stance on the problems of enforced celibacy, which has occasioned serious abuse from some of it's clergy members.

A more open and accepting public acceptance of differences in sexual orientation is surely much preferred to the culture of insisting that sex is exclusive to the procreation of children - inside or outside of a heterosexual relationship. This will go a long way to ensure that abuses are recognised for what they are - a fundamental failure to sustain loving human relationships.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 December 2009 at 9:13am GMT

While civil partnerships in Ireland will give many of the rights of civil marriage to same-sex couples and are thus to be celebrated as progress (at the municipal, provincial, and national level), they fail to treat same-sex couples and their children as family because they omit parenting rights. Same-sex couples in a civil partnerhip will have a harder time to take care of their children, something which is clearly not in the interests of the community. An unfair burden will still be placed on same-sex couples when they want to access their benefits because they will have to explain to hospitals, banks, and government bureaucrats what exactly their relationship is, whereas most people understand the word "marriage."

My impression is that much of the opposition to marriage equality is based on religion and that with fewer people affiliating with churches Ireland will eventually get full civil marriage for all.


Gary Paul Gilbert


Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 2:56am GMT

Give me back the old Catholic Ireland of De Valera...no diviorce, no contraception and large families.

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 8:06pm GMT

Give me back the old Catholic (sic) Ireland of De Valera...no diviorce, no contraception and large families.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Those were the days !

And plenty of 'orphanages' for the over-flow of unwanted children, who were often abused and used as unpaid skivvies in these institutions. Also high mortality of women and infants.

I am feeling nostalgic already.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 9:03pm GMT

RIW: "Give me back the old Catholic Ireland of De Valera...no diviorce, no contraception and large families."

Is that also the Catholic Ireland of the Magdalen Sisters; censorship; massive complicity in child abuse and silence in the face of both Hitler's fascim and later of IRA terrorism? How delightful that was for everyone in mid-20th c. Ireland, which must be why so many hundreds of thousands emigrated in the decades following independence!

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 9:50pm GMT

"Give me back the old Catholic Ireland of De Valera...no diviorce, no contraception and large families." - Robert I Williams -

Sadly, Robert, you are doomed to permanent dis-appointment - in your longing for past times. We in the Anglican Communion are looking to the future - not the detritus of past inequities - based on an out-dated understanding of gender and sexuality. You see, Robert, even your former out-posts of Roman Catholic misogyny and homophobia seem to be hearing the call of the Holy Spirit to live in the present, rather than burying one's-self (and one's neighbour) in the injustices of the past.


Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 15 December 2009 at 10:04pm GMT

There was no pornography in Catholic Ireland.... there was a stable society.
The author of the book of the Magdalene sisters was exposed as a fraud.

People emigrated because the state was originally part of the UK, but was treated as a colony. ireland was under developed because of British Imperial policy not Irish lethargy.

Furthermore thousands were emigrating from
Britain at the same time.

Abuse occurs in all institutions were there are sinners. However the abuse was shamefully handled.

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 4:25pm GMT

"Give me back the old Catholic Ireland of De Valera...no diviorce, no contraception and large families."

Amen! Back street abortions, domestic violence and misery and grinding poverty are the defining hallmarks of the Good News, and it's about time someone had the courage to say so! More power to your encyclicals, RIW!

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 5:04pm GMT

Why does everyone look to materialism... our Blessed lord incarnated amongst the poor.

Would you want to be born a Prince in the dysfunctional House of Windsor, or be happy in a family of twelve?

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 7:10am GMT

"Would you want to be born a Prince in the dysfunctional House of Windsor, or be happy in a family of twelve?" - Robert Ian Williams -

Spoken as a good loyal Welsh Roman Catholic, eh?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 11:48pm GMT

RIW
"Would you want to be born a Prince in the dysfunctional House of Windsor, or be happy in a family of twelve?"

Thank you for putting it so succinctly. I shall impress on my girls that these are the two options available to them and ask them to choose wisely.

Before I speak to them - my older daughter is currently chosing her A'level subjects. Do you think I should advise her against academic subjects and ask her to concentrate on home economics and childcare instead? Or, in the unlikely case that she chooses the Prince Charles option, should we rather select a good finishing school for her?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 18 December 2009 at 8:22am GMT
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