Thinking about Gay Marriage at New Wine Festival: 30 August

The day at New Wine wasn’t all about Hades. (see previous post) The theme of ‘Don’t be afraid. Go ahead with what you think. Don’t hold back,’ applied also to the vexed issue of Gay Marriage. (Some people would rather I write Gay ‘Marriage’ and I understand their reasons. But, for now, I’ll keep it simple.’)

A speaker from the Evangelical Alliance led a Seminar explaining that we need to support their opposition to Gay Marriage. He argued that such a step would be dismantling a ‘load-bearing wall’ – the whole house would collapse. Gay Marriage, for him, is totally against the teaching of the Bible. In legalising Gay Marriage, the Government would be criminalising those who oppose it. He painted a terrible picture of UK Christians persecuted by the State. He urged us to put our weight behind the campaign to stop this abomination, encouraging us that this is a battle that we Christians can win.

All the EA man said seemed to me exaggerated. Traditional, heterosexual, monogamous, marriage a load-bearing wall? Really? Will the whole structure of Christian faith and life collapse if this is altered? The more Biblical question is ‘Is this part of the foundation – which is Jesus?’ Did Jesus clearly oppose Gay Marriage? Hardly. Jesus said nothing specific about homosexuality, which was part of His culture. That’s a strong indication that this is not a load-bearing, primary issue. The rest of Jesus’ teaching needs to be explored to see what light it shines on the issue, before we look at other Bible texts. This is more important than scare-mongering about persecution to come.

Hearing this extreme view reminded me that all we seem to hear about Gay Marriage are extreme views: NO WAY! As Christians we must oppose this. Otherwise our whole Biblical faith is fatally weakened.’ ‘YES OF COURSE! As Christians we must promote this. Otherwise our faith in the liberating God counts for nothing.’ These two voices shout loud, bizarrely agreeing with each other that this is a Primary Issue over which Christians must make a stand. In the middle, I think, are many people thinking ‘Yes…, but.., ’ and secretly puzzled at why the extremists make it such a big deal. For those in the middle this is a Secondary Issue, whether they would use that language or not.

It was particularly disappointing to hear the Conservative Biblicist view at New Wine, which is a Charismatic, Holy Spirit, event. Charismatics are, surely, those who believe that the Spirit leads us into all truth. Jesus did not tell us that the Scriptures, the Torah, the Law, lead us into all truth, but the Holy Spirit. It was not the Scriptures which led the Church in Acts to include Gentiles without requiring them to observe the Jewish Law, it was the Holy Spirit. ‘It seems good to us and to the Holy Spirit..’ was how the decision was conveyed. ‘What is the Spirit saying?’ should be another key question. How is the Holy Spirit taking the words of Jesus and speaking them to us in our generation, perhaps in a way that Jesus’ followers could not have borne before?

The seminar left me thinking again about the need for a strong presentation of the central position, arguing that Gay Marriage is not a Primary Issue, making the teaching and life of Jesus foundational for this as for every issue, and exploring the various ways in which the Holy Spirit might be speaking to us, including through the rest of the Bible. I have thought seriously of making this presentation myself, through a book.

By the evening, Gay Marriage was far from my mind. Evening worship was wonderful, with a great focus on Jesus. Singing ‘Jesus the name high over all’ echoed with all I believe about Hades and had me standing with flowing tears (see previous post.) After the talk, as the Holy Spirit was invited again, a song in tongues bubbled up within, and kept repeating. When those aware of the Holy Spirit were invited to come for prayer ministry, I went forward. I was enjoying the song, not looking for anything particular, only responding to the invitation from the front.

The prayer minister prayed alongside me for a good time. He asked the Holy Spirit to let me know what I was singing. English words then came, words of praise and encouragement to speak out the truth. I returned to my seat and carried on in prayer and worship, sensing Jesus very close. Specific encouragement came to go ahead with the earlier thoughts of the book about Gay Marriage, with main points and a title, similar to what I have been thinking but with differences. From the autumn I will be working on ‘Loving Difference.’

I returned home much refreshed and energised. Many thanks to New Wine, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit.

Roger Harper

PS Friends have pointed me to  This is a strong, lengthy, talk on Biblical reasons for supporting Gay Marriage. I haven’t listened to it yet, but am assured it is worth hearing.

5 Responses to “Thinking about Gay Marriage at New Wine Festival: 30 August”

  1. a friend Says:

    Roger its Word and Holy Spirit, He does not contradict Hs Word. Jesus did not change the marriage definition, Jesus fulfils the law.

    • rogerharper Says:

      Thanks friend,
      Yes indeed, both Word and Spirit are important. The Bible, Acts 15, gives us the inclusion of Gentiles as the paradigm for our church decision making on issues on which Jesus, The Word, did not give a clear message. As you look at Acts 15 what do you see as the balance of drawing on the Word ‘ Scriptures and drawing on the Spirit? How can we follow this central Biblical example?

  2. keith rogers Says:

    Roger do read this should also read “unconditional love”by Justin lee-this really is a must.the author is a conservative evangelical gay christian,who prayed and struggled for years to change his sexuality but found this is simply impossible.he was the spirit to an epithany of realising he was created gay and that love is not a sin.he. Astutely examines scripture and realises that what Paul discusses on romans 1:24-26 is not homosexuality -as don’t choose to”give up” attraction to women that never existed.instead Paul denounces pagan idolatrous sex rites where straight men act contrary to their nature.romans has nothing to say to me about my gayness-i haven,t given up god or heterosexuality.keith

  3. Gay Marriage at New Wine and Greenbelt Festivals: 2 September | Rogerharper's Blog Says:

    […] At New Wine, gay people are not welcomed into marriage. There was no specific seminar on the subject when I was there, but the implications of what some speakers said were that the Bible is against gay sexual activity, and therefore against gay marriage. Last year this was made explicit by a speaker from the Evangelical Alliance. (see😉 […]

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