Those who have been closely following my blog will know that I have recently written a number of articles about gay marriage, trying to show that there are legitimate concerns that need to be raised – concerns that avoid the harsh fundamentalism of the far right or the shrill demands for tolerance of the political left. In fact, my arguments against same-sex ‘marriage’ have largely been based in the principles of classical liberalism and the concern to avoid government encroachment.
Those who have been interacting with these arguments mostly abuse me and call me names, but occasionally I will receive some thoughtful questions. The other day I had an opportunity to interact with some questions at the Christian Voice website. You can read the discussion here.
Strand Campus, King’s College London
Many of you know that I am currently completing the final stages of a PhD in historical theology through King’s College. Having been homeschooled and then having led a fairly sheltered and conservative life, it was a real shock to my system to be suddenly launched into the European theological scene. The suddenness of the experience was amplified by the fact that I never did a Masters degree, and even my undergraduate work had been done through correspondence.
A friend of mine who lost her faith when she went to college warned me that doing a PhD at a secular European university might be disconcerting to my “fundamentalist” Christian beliefs. She suggested that maybe I would be more comfortable pursuing my graduate studies at somewhere like Fuller. But I was resolute that I would be a King’s man.
Having almost completed my graduate studies, I am happy to say that I did not lose my faith. But at times I felt like I might.
Various writers in Britain have recently raised the question of whether it is rational, or even ethical, for a wife to adopt the surname of her husband.
It’s hard not to have some sympathy for the concerns these writers are raising. On the surface at least, there does seem to be something unfair in a tradition that insists a woman must change her name while a man is never expected to change his. Of greater concern to many women is the fact that name-changing might imply that a wife is simply an adjunct of her husband with no identity of her own. Others are concerned that this custom is simply a residual hang-over from our culture’s “patriarchal’ past – a past in which women allegedly had no rights and could be abused without consequences.
Although I am a staunch opponent of gay marriage, I don’t think everything in the campaign to legalize gay marriage is bad. The push to legalize same-sex marriage has brought some important truths to the public consciousness, such as the importance of equal protection under the law, the understanding that marriage has never been a static concept, and the limitations involved in trying to impose religiously-derived concepts onto a pluralistic society.
Few people want a world where men and women are really treated the same.
Although we’re supposed to be living in an age where men and women are equal, in practice no one really operates according to the principles of gender equality.
Before going any further, it may be helpful to define what I mean when I talk about men and women being “unequal.”
The following is taken from the chapter on George MacDonald in my book Saints and Scoundrels.
At a time when Darwinism was removing the wonder and magic from the world, reducing people to animals and describing the universe as a giant impersonal machine, MacDonald bequeathed to us an opposite vision. His was a universe filled with enchantment, saturated in wonder and infused with grace. It was a sacramental vision that drew heavily on the Middle Ages, especially the medieval notion that the external things surrounding us are outward signs of inward spiritual graces. As MacDonald expressed it in The Miracles of our Lord, “With his divine alchemy, [God] turns not only water into wine, but common things into radiant mysteries, yea, every meal into a Eucharist, and the jaws of death into an outgoing gate.”
His novels conveyed this sacramental vision. Although they may technically fall under the category of “realistic fiction”, there was always something fantastic about them. The literary critic Marion Lochhead has compared them to Hans Anderson’s fairy tales in possessing “the gift of turning homeliness into beauty.” He enables us to see the world afresh, to perceive, as it were, the invisible halo on every bird and beast.
In 2011, an anonymous author published 15 fictional letters at the Creedal Christian blog, exploring a range of practical and theological questions.
These letters, which were written from an imaginary Anglican named ‘Canterbury Chris’ to an imaginary Calvinist named ‘Geneva George’, delved into everything from the legitimacy of images in worship to the differences between Calvinist and Anglican ecclesiology.
I can now reveal that I was the author of these letters.