In the lead-up to Canada legalizing same-sex marriage in July 2005, those on the far right of the religious spectrum chanted repeatedly that it was the end of society as we had known it, effectively letting us know that hell awaited.
Conversely, I looked at it as a good thing, that society was finally accepting that not everyone was wired the same way and was finally prepared to make allowances for it.
And now, nearly 15 years later, with the sky not having fallen on us or the earth opening up to swallow us, it would seem that everything has nicely fallen into place.
But, I have to acknowledge, there are still many pockets of resistance, within this country and without.
At the Anglican Church of Canada’s general synod in Vancouver in July, a resolution to change the definition of marriage by deleting the words “the union of man and woman” failed because of a lack of support from among the bishops.
And last week the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States, announced a plan that would formally split the church, citing “fundamental differences” over same-sex marriage.
And there still are many countries in which just being a homosexual is against the law, where a great risk is taken just in taking a step out of the closet.
I actually hold some hope for the Anglicans, who comprise the third-largest religious denomination in Canada, as it was only the bishops who voted against the resolution.
The laity voted 80.9 percent in favour, easily passing the required two-thirds threshold, and the clergy cleared it easily too, voting 73.2 percent in favour.
But among the bishops, only 62.2 percent voted yes. Two bishops abstained, 14 voted against, and 23 voted in favour.
The news stories didn’t mention anything about the age of those voting but I imagine most of the bishops would be among the most elderly.
Time, I believe, considering the bishops were so close to the required 66 percent will take care of this problem within a very few years.
And I have no doubt this could be the case eventually in the U.S.
As a story in the New York Times about the split pointed out, although 53 percent of church leaders are in favour of continuing the ban on same-sex marriage, a Pew Research Center study from 2014 found that of a plurality of American Methodists who consider themselves conservative,, six in 10 believed that homosexuality should be accepted and nearly half favoured same-sex marriage.
The plan to split would sunder a denomination with 13 million members globally — roughly half of them in the United States — and create at least one new “traditionalist Methodist” denomination that would continue to ban same-sex marriage as well as the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.
The story indicated it is likely that the majority of the denomination’s churches in the United States would remain in the existing United Methodist Church, which would become a more liberal-leaning institution as conservative congregations worldwide depart.
I take heart that all this will mean change for the better, especially after reading what former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a Baptist, said in an interview webcast on the Huffington Post back in 2015.
“Former President Jimmy Carter — nicknamed in Baptist circles the world’s most famous Sunday school teacher — said that he “thinks Jesus would approve of same-sex marriage,” Bob Allen of Baptist News Global wrote in picking up the interview.
“I believe Jesus would approve gay marriage, but that’s just my own personal belief,” the 39th president of the United States said. “I think Jesus would encourage any kind of love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else, and I don’t see that gay marriages damage anyone else.”
Carter, who on Sundays at the time taught Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., said he didn’t “have any verse in scripture” to back up his opinion, but as a born-again Christian he had no problem with gay marriage.
“I think everybody should have a right to get married, regardless of their sex,” Carter said.
“The only thing I would draw a line on, I wouldn’t be in favor of the government being able to force a local church congregation to perform gay marriages if they didn’t want to. But those two partners should be able to go to a local courthouse or to a different church and get married.”
He is a man after my own heart.
I have never been able to understand how some people are unable to understand that being gay is not a choice, it is built-in from birth. If there is a choice, I would say to the religious, it was their God’s choice.
I am just glad I saw the light early.
There was a time when benefits were being proposed for gays living together that I objected, believing it could be abused by any two people of the same sex sharing an abode.
But I in a column in The Sault Star in1994 I said that I was doing a 180-degree turn, now agreeing that this was the thing to do.
I even said in the column that I would not have any objection to same-sex couples being allowed to marry, which did put me a little ahead of the times.
It has been a long haul but I think there is hope that over time more and more countries, as the more tolerant and acceptable thinking of the young replaces the implacability of the old, will accept that those in the homosexual community have the same right to marry as those in the heterosexual community do.