Iris Robinson – anti-gay or pro-God?
Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please Mrs. Robinson.
Heaven holds a place for those who pray,
Hey, hey, hey.
And Iris Robinson MP MLA is doubtless praying rather a lot at the moment. She is the wife of the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson MP MLA. Not that she should be defined merely or even primarily as being his spouse, but one can but wonder at the conversations over their breakfast table. Mrs Robinson's views on homosexual behaviour (please note that it is the behaviour) is that it is repulsive, wrong and immoral. She has never made a secret of her opinion on the matter, and yet still she wins her seats at Westminster and Stormont. The majority of her constituents either do not care about her beliefs, do not know of them, or endorse them. Whichever, her views - however unpalatable her views may be, and however repugnant one may find her - are shared by a great many British people.
She has recently expounded her views further in a parliamentary meeting, during which she said:
“There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children. There must be sufficient confidence that the community has the best possible protection against such perverts, and it is important that there be a mature public debate on the issues, but the security of our citizens must be our overriding priority.”
When asked to clarify her meaning, she did so in no uncertain terms, saying:
“I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.”
This has exercised Mr Iain Dale somewhat, to the extent that he thinks she needs to see a psychiatrist to be cured of her ‘bigoted, ill judged claptrap’. He accuses her of reinforcing ‘existing prejudices among certain people who then feel expressing them in a violent way is somehow acceptable and can be defended because of the "scriptures".’
She has, of course, done no such thing, and, having lived through decades of sectarian violence and murder, she would be repulsed by the accusation that her appeal to Scripture somehow renders violence acceptable.
Mrs Robinson has not helped her cause by juxtaposing homosexuality with paedophilia. The one is, after all, legal in the UK between consenting adults; the other manifestly illegal and predatory. But one gets the feeling that she made an off-the-cuff comment based on her personal feelings rather than asserting a moral or legal equivalence. And this is how many may react to the issue, not least because there is presently a feeling or perception of being overrun by a militant ‘gay lobby’ which is intent on forcing its agenda down the throats of every heterosexual and undermining the view of the traditional family.
Christians, Jews and Muslims all have scriptures which incline them do view homosexuality with distaste. Yes, of course these are open to interpretation, and one should always be cognisant of the science of hermeneutics and the art of the sitz im leben, but people with a faith have every right to state their opinion on homosexuality and on everything else, however this may jar with the zeitgeist, and however this may offend the politically-correct imperative to ‘celebrate diversity'.
Essentially, Mrs Robinson believes it is the role of government to implement God’s Law. She says: ‘The United Kingdom is a country that has been shaped by our long and proud tradition of Christianity. It may no longer be fashionable to say such things and some people for their own petty reasons may attack me for saying so, but I believe that legislation passed in this country should take cognisance of and reflect the traditions and beliefs which made us the society which we are today.’
And on this, Mrs Robinson, an Ulster Protestant, has found favour with the leader of Ireland's Roman Catholics. Cardinal Sean Brady said that, although the precise details of the claim would need to be explored, the role of government is always to work for the common good of its people. He was therefore in general agreement with the MP's claim that human governments are divinely instituted, and that they ought to act justly on the basis of God's law. When the civil law opposes God’s law, the Roman Catholic Church is in no doubt about the Christian’s right to demur:
Times to Refuse Obedience (Catholic Catechism 2242):
Citizens must refuse to obey directions of civil authorities which are against the moral order, the fundamental rights of persons or the Gospel teachings. By refusing obedience, the person correctly serves God and not the political community. A distinction exists between what "is rendered to Caesar" and what "is rendered to God" (Mt 22:21). "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
While there are many in this militantly secularist age who would rather governments were silent on God’s law, they fail to understand the very foundations of those concepts of equality, liberty and justice which are necessary and intrinsic to enlightened and civilised society.
The think-tank Theos advocates that:
"...the specific actions the church should take depend on the nature of the state - that the closer its moral orientation is to the gospel, the greater the capacity for cooperation. The church therefore has the obligation to closely examine the moral orientation of the state, how its policies and actions contribute to the public good, not religious belief; and measure them against the church’s conception of the public good that underlies its public witness."
It is therefore a question of 'navigating between theocracy on the one hand and a privatized faith in a secular society on the other’.
And should one get this wrong, one risks rolling back the progress of the last three centuries, and Cranmer is in no doubt which theocracy is presently waiting to assert its own concepts of justice, liberty, equality and conception of the public good. And when it does, people will be longing for the good old days, and singing 'God bless you, please Mrs Robinson'.