The Changing Faces of Marriage

Tundun Adeyemo

Tundun Adeyemo

Ireland is the only country in the world to run a referendum on the legalisation of marriage. It appeared that even Catholicism had no hold upon modernists and traditionalists alike in the Catholic country.

The ‘Yes’ vote won with a majority of 63 per cent. United Kingdom, UK, is a ‘Christian’ country where about 59 per cent people claim they are Christians according to 2011 UK census. The Roman Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage and as with other Christian denominations, homosexuality is sinful. This sinfulness of homosexuality is a phenomenon that has been rejected by Europeans and North Americans.

This sinfulness is backed by various scriptures in the Bible which forbid homosexuality. But to First World countries, we might as well be speaking Latin when it comes to morals, the church and the unchanging biblical position. With each passing day, it seems that the authority of the Bible and the gospel wanes. There is no real concept of what is right or wrong any more.

Here is an example: a gay man in the UK had his sperm inserted into his mother who went on to have his child. She was his surrogate. Whilst this man did not see anything wrong with his choice of a surrogate, he did not sleep with his mother, some people objected to his mum being the surrogate for his mother. His need to have a baby and his right to fatherhood overrode moral objections to his actions. One wonders whether that could have been possible if he lived in Nigeria. There is no right or wrong anymore, in these parts, people just do what they feel is right.

In spite of the wave of Christianity and Islam in Nigeria, Nigeria is not exactly exempt from homosexuality. There may be more closet homosexuals in Nigeria than in the UK where homosexuality is in your face. The understanding is Kano, they say, is the seat of Nigeria’s homosexuals. Whether or not this is true, it raises the fundamental question as to whether or not homosexuality is biological or environmental. Is homosexuality a disease that can be cured?

Ireland is not the only country that has legalised same-sex marriage. About 20 countries have already done so. In 2001, the Netherlands started the movement by becoming the first nation to recognise the union of same-sex couples. In 2003 it was Belgium’s turn, in 2005 Canada and Spain said ‘Yes’, South Africa – the only South African nation to do so, legalised same-sex marriage in 2006. Norway and Sweden recognised same-sex unions in 2009, Argentina, Iceland and Portugal in 2010, Denmark in 2012, Brazil, England and Wales, France, New Zealand and Uruguay in 2013 and Luxembourg and Scotland in 2014. Finland joins these countries in 2017.

The ‘No’ voters pitched their argument on three or perhaps even four points: the importance of the biological ties of the mother, of motherhood and fatherhood, the importance of religion and the freedom of conscience.

Having just recently visited Brighton, the gay capital of England, it is hard for any of the above four points to register at all.

There is an air of liberty, the right to be whoever you want to be, the freedom to be gay, lesbian, transsexual or whatever else you fancy. Whilst Brighton appeared generally deprived with ancient looking buildings, on the seaside there was more than one woman holding another woman and kissing. This is not make believe either. Anyone who bothers to look would readily find man licking tongues with man, people who looked like they could be men, but they are actually women or vice versa locked in intimate conversation. Disgusting is an understatement. These people have the right to exhibit the love they feel for each other. And what better place to do this than the seaside under the setting sun? Brighton is a place for all sorts and you really have to be strong to be able to take in the diverse sights. On tour in Brighton was the ‘Beauties and the Beats: The Lady Boys of Bangkok’. To be fair, they are also on tour in other places like Fareham, Cardiff, Peterborough, Manchester and Aberdeen. Frankly speaking, Brighton must have been where they felt mostly at home.

It is not rocket science to assume that chastity would be a hard sell in a place like Brighton. The social effects of free love would be explored in another write up, but for now, please take it from me that all is not exactly well with Brighton. The bars and discotheques may be making money, but the social fabric of that city is fragile as the city struggles to cope with excess of alcohol abuse, drug abuse and so on.

In the UK, it feels like the Christians are in the minority and it appears that the homosexual community have their voices and stances amplified. You become a villain opposing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered) community. Teachers complain that in sex education lessons, they are gradually under pressure to teach homosexual sex education. It is becoming unpopular and untenable supporting the traditional view of marriage or insisting that love should be between a man and a woman.

In Northern Ireland, the manager of Ashers Baking Company, accused of discrimination after refusing to make cake depicting the Sesame Street couple, Bert and Ernie, was taken to court. Subsequently, a judge ruled that the devoutly run Christian bakery was not exempt from discrimination law. Damages of £500 was agreed beforehand by the lawyers.

The ruling suggests that all business owners will have to serve all business interests no matter how they feel or disagree with it. Christian Concern, which backs Christians facing court cases over their beliefs, says the judgment undermines religious freedom in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where gay marriage is still not legal. Thankfully, Baroness Hale of Richmond, the deputy president of the UK’s Supreme Court, said she is not convinced the law had found a way to strike a ‘reasonable’ defence between accommodating people’s right to follow their beliefs while protecting others from discrimination.

This case buttresses the fact that under the Human Rights Act, equality under the law is still the most far-reaching argument the homosexuals have. At the moment, it feels the Christians are losing their own fundamental human right to their own freedom to assert that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

In Ireland and England, they have succeeded in changing the definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two people of the same sex. They say it does not matter that the partners are of the same sex, the most important thing being the love and commitment and being in a safe relationship.

It is common knowledge that the reason, David Cameron rushed to change the definition of marriage was because he needed their votes for the just concluded elections. He needed them to vote for him. Unfortunately, the leadership of a popular church did not remember this when Mr. Cameron was invited to give a speech at their latest convention in England.

Ireland referendum buttresses the point that our world has changed and is still changing. Today, the definition of marriage has changed, what will they change tomorrow?




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