Loving the otter

It has begun. A great threat to our liberty, our freedom of expression and our very lives has taken its first slouching steps towards Bethlehem, as I’m sure Yeats would put it if he were alive today (actually, if he were alive today he would probably say “help, help, I’m stuck in this tiny box,” but you get what I mean). One terrifying headline said it all: “Otters on the rampage”.

That was the front page of last week’s Angling Times. So let’s talk about otters; their effect on the environment, their razor-sharp claws and powerful fangs; their beady little eyes… Oh, I’m sorry… It’s not the otters you’re afraid of? You’re worried about the gays on the rampage, about the sexual discrimination law that survived possible rejection by the House of Lords last week. Right.

Some Christians fear that, because of it, Christian B&B owners who wish to refuse entry to gay couples intending on sharing a bed will not be allowed to do so. But why would they want to prohibit it? As many secular commentators have pointed out, heterosexual couples without a valid marriage license (or even learner’s license) are not often similarly restricted. More than that, doesn’t it become very complicated? I mean, how do you tell if a couple are gay or just good mates? What if they themselves are not sure? What if they are not gay, but what the magazines call “bi-curious” do you let them in but only offer them a twin (room, I mean)? And why stop there? I say only serve born-again Christians. Determining whether they’re saved? Easily solved. Ask your local Christian Students Union for some of their membership application forms—they won’t need them soon.

Despite the fact that no-one would try to defend similar freedoms for people who object to black people for instance, I feel for the Christian B&B owners (they must make up a significant demographic to warrant so much attention— accommodation at this year’s Baptist Assembly is going to be a doddle). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy their arguments, but when you read some of the press about the issue from last week, like this from a Guardian columnist describing the effects of religion: “books being burned, people being murdered, discrimination being preached, demands that my tax money should go to the brainwashing of young children, and so wretchedly on and on,” perhaps you can cut our brothers and sisters some slack for being a teensy bit paranoid that every new law is a new way to get us. But let’s stay focused. Yes, this is more about people making a point about religious people’s attitudes than actual persecution or even inconvenience. And yes, our society does trivialise religious conviction. And it does and will increasingly pressure people to choose secular humanist values over religious ones and call it tolerance and inclusivity. But we need to choose our battles.

Denying entry to a group of people we have decided are more significantly sinful than the rest of humanity is not going to bring them any closer to getting saved. It is certainly not going to protect our religious freedom, since it has little to do with it. When our society starts actually forcing us to change what we may preach (and I suspect that time is coming) then we can either shout about and fight it or take our punishment meekly and uncompromisingly as so many martyrs before us have done. Until then, perhaps we need to look at why so many people hate us, perhaps appropriating that phrase common to both gay and straight relationships: “it’s not you, it’s me”.





2 Responses

  1. Thanks for this post. You make many keen observations. Yes, homosexuality is a sin, but so is adultery. Sin is sin. We are not called to judge those outside the body of Christ. We, as sinners saved by grace, are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Yet, right wingers (I’m not sure if you refer to them as right wingers in the UK) and fundies are often so busy judging people and attempting to push through legislation that they fail to live a life demonstrative of the gospel. Thanks again. And nice to see you posting again.

  2. I officially like you and your writing. As Donald Miller put it “In war you shoot the enemy, not the hostage.”

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