March 1, 2011 by Rhi
Another day, another religious “freedom” case in the news. This time, a Pentecostal couple seeking a High Court ruling as to whether they should be allowed to foster, having explained to a Social Worker that they couldn’t take the view, if dealing with a young person, that being homosexual is OK.
Let’s look at some facts. The couple, Mr and Mrs Johns, withdrew their application to foster after the social worker “expressed concern” at their view on homosexuality. They feel that they were “doomed not to be approved” as carers, even though their application never reached that stage. So in reality, they weren’t rejected, and so quite why they felt the need to take the case to court is unclear to me.
The judgement, for me, is not particularly controversial. I’ve been following twitter discussions, and there’s the usual complaints that the thought police are out and about again, and that Christians are being maligned and discriminated against. But the Johns didn’t just think that homosexuality was wrong, they actively voiced the opinion, to a professional who is charged with the welfare and care of children in care. The problem is, when you are dealing with young children, pre-puberty, you can’t always ensure that you aren’t housing children who are going to realise that they are gay, with a couple who would obviously deal with any fallout of such a discovery by telling them they sinful and wrong.
Christians choose to believe what they do. And as for the idea that homosexuality is a sin, well… that’s a contentious point. No matter how hard some evangelicals and conservatives thump the table and say it’s a mainstream Christian view – it isn’t. It’s a matter of theological debate. And so therefore, this judgement can’t be seen as being against Christianity as a whole. It’s against a couple who, for whatever reason, have chosen to subscribe to a particular school of thought within Christian theological debate. They have every right to hold those beliefs, and the judgment doesn’t change that. But what it does indicate is that their beliefs are not compatible with offering care for children who are the responsibility of the state. Is it worth risking the psychological well-being of just one child, in order for them to prove a point? The very fact that they felt the need to state their stance on the matter, indicates that this is something which they feel very strongly about.
The simple fact is that any attempt to discriminate against others on the basis of gender, race, disability or sexual preference, is not acceptable – however noble or deep seated those beliefs might be. It’s entirely possible to not believe in something, and yet be able to support someone else without allowing it to colour ones judgment. I’m a committed Christian, and I manage to co-exist quite happily with my atheist partner. And we’ve managed to plan a wedding, with a minister, in a church, which satisfies both our belief systems. It’s entirely possible for Christians to co-operate with others of different (or indeed no) faiths, without anyone having to feel they have given up an important part of themselves.
I suspect, however, that the roaring noise coming from The Christian Institute, is due to their inability to see things from any other point of view but their own. If you choose to hold the view that homosexuals are sinful creatures, and that homosexuality should be discouraged, then you must also accept that those views are likely to preclude you from participating fully in a society where the laws dictate that sexual orientation is no reason to treat a person differently. Being a Christian doesn’t put you above that law. By all means disagree with it, but it is not discriminating against you. Being anti-gay isn’t a requisite of being Christian.