Thursday, December 17, 2009

Irish Evangelical Alliance and Civil Partnerships

I normally avoid this sort of thing because, unlike certain sections of the Anglican communion, I'm not thinking about sex every 7 seconds. More female leaders, that's what we need.... sorry, I'll avoid that tangent for now. But this seemed worthy of note: the Irish Evangelical Alliance has recently issued a document on its response to civil partnership legislation in Ireland. Things are different over there, but I was struck by this summary on Zoomtard:

We endorse the Civil Union legislation as it stands because as evangelical Christians we recognise that we have no automatic rights to have our Biblical beliefs enacted in law. In a pluralistic society, tolerance is a two-way street. We can not demand and protect our right to religious expression and simultaneously oppose the rights of others to form significant relationships.

In a follow up post, Kevin writes
do not mistake that the EAI’s support of civil legislation and the associated extension of rights to these couples as some kind of woolly-headed rejection of Christian orthodoxy. It is not a complex idea to hold that we can wholeheartedly believe what we believe and not expect others to agree and simultaneously want to fight for the rights of people who do not agree with us.

In a way this is an easier position to come to for Irish evangelicals, because they're not a big group, and probably don't wield a massive amount of influence. At the same time, should your theology be determined by how much power and influence you have...? I guess if you have some influence and weight in society you need a theology and set of principles for how you use it.

this document is not a caving in to contemporary pressure. It is a deep theological reflection on how to live as a group of Christians in a land where plenty of people disagree with us.

"how to live as a group of Christians in a land where plenty of people disagree with us." Sounds like a pretty good place to start. You may not agree with their conclusions, but recognising that, in a pluralist society, maybe we can't just draw a straight line from the Bible to the statute book and say 'here I stand, I can do no other'. We can do other - see yesterdays post on John the Baptist for a start.


  1. I was impressed with this group's report. They are drawing a very good distinction between what they believe, and the freedom of others to believe. Maybe the advantage of coming from a non-dominant past position in society - Irish Evangelicals haven't exactly run the shop.

  2. It hasn't been universally accepted though. Check out the statement from Irish Church Missions which says that EAI are doing a great disservice to the gospel, as well as a disservice to homosexual people.