The ruling Scottish administration lead by Alex Salmond recently announced plans to pass legislation which would legalise ‘same-sex’ marriage, and could see Scotland’s first gay marriage ceremony by 2015. This has been met with strong opposition, both from the general public (64% of respondents to the governments consultation on the proposed Bill were in opposition) and from religious groups. The Catholic Church have been among the most vocal opponents, announcing their own counter-campaign to maintain the ‘universally accepted definition of marriage’ as a union between a man and a woman. In a letter read out by all of the churches 500 parishes across the country, Catholic bishops expressed their ‘deep disappointment’ in the direction the administration had chosen to take, and urged worshippers to pray for their political leaders, that they would preserve the traditional nature of marriage ‘for the good of Scotland and of our society’.
Whilst we as Muslims will agree with the broad sentiments expressed by the church, this is a problem whose roots lie not in the semantics surrounding the use of the word ‘marriage’, but in the very nature of society and how we define acceptable and unacceptable relationships. It is only by having the courage to tackle the wider issue that a real honest, intellectual debate can be had, but it is here that the Church finds that it has already lost the argument before it has even begun.
The Church has evolved over time to the point where it does not just accept secular law, but actively promotes it. In essence it is supporting the weakness of its own views by agreeing that they have no place in wider society. The question naturally follows that why do such laws then deserve respect even within the remit of the church, whether in regards to gay marriage, gay bishops or any other area of contention? The Church has given up any intellectual ground it may have had by already accepting the premise of secular law over Gods law, and any opposition to the law of the land now will be regarded by most observers as indefensible prejudice. By contrast the supporters of gay marriage will be seen as flag bearers for enlightenment and modernity.
Islam has no such lack of conviction in its own system. It’s laws, the laws of the Creator Himself, apply as much to non-Muslims as they do Muslims, and as much to the man on the street as they do Imams. Our opposition to homosexuality is not restricted to marriage, but is a principled opposition to the acts of homosexuality themselves. Islam clearly outlines that a healthy and functioning society is founded upon the ‘traditional’ family model, i.e. the union of a man and a woman through the contract of marriage. The promotion of marriage is not restricted to hollow words, but rather permeates through the entire system, from the criminalisation of adultery to the inheritance laws obliging a fixed proportion of wealth to pass to the immediate family.
Whether given the title ‘marriage’ or ‘civil partnership’, opposition to any kind of same-sex union makes no sense unless it is an opposition in principle, i.e. opposed to the idea of such a union in all forms, under any name. Opposing the practice only if it is given the title ‘marriage’, but accepting it in other forms (such as ‘civil partnership) smacks of intellectual bankruptcy. We live in a time in which secular, liberal extremists are able to force-feed their abhorrent practices at even school-level, whilst claiming the intellectual and moral high ground and proclaiming themselves the saviours of humanity. Only a clear and unambiguous counter argument will prevent the expansion of their influence further into our lives, and if the Church is unable to articulate such an argument, it may be left to the Muslims to protect all of society from this corruption.