Bishop Hugh of Aberdeen: Some More Equal than Others

The Catholic Herald's Morning Reads give those in the headlights of the redefinition of marriage train hurtling towards us (yes, we have been tied to the tracks) reason to be cheerful.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen has called out the 'equal marriage' consultation to which the Church and other opponents were invited as nominal contributors.

If homosexuals and lesbians are to have 'equal marriage', he asserts, then is it not discriminatory to deny this equality of marriage to bigamists and that persecuted minority in incestuous relationships?

Of course, what he has said has caused 'anger' among the more vociferous elements of the community that would like the resistance to please shut up now and hopefully either be unemployable or arrestable (preferably both) later on.

What is interesting is the reaction of Bishop Hugh's critics. There is 'outrage' caused by the idea that the homosexual relationship fails to meet the criteria for marriage in a way similar to a possible appeal by those committing bigamy and incest. What Bishop Hugh has said is, to the 'gay community', highly offensive. But, have they fallen into the trap set by a clever Bishop's line of attack? Because, if it is so 'offensive' to say that if gay relationships qualify for marriage, then why not bigamy and incest, all things being equal, then the LGBT lobby must have some kind of objection to either bigamy or incest or both. If the lobby which dare not cease proclaiming the wholesome goodness of the gay lifestyle are saying that Bishop Hugh's comments offensive then they are saying that bigamy is offensive and morally wrong. They are also suggesting that incest is offensive and in some way immoral. The Bishop can't associate all three or defend the equality of bigamous or incestuous relationships because, er, bigamy and incest are, wait for it...wrong.

So, let's hear it from the Stonewall crowd. What possible justification do you have for moralising to bigamists and those committing incest that their relationships are wrong or immoral? Aren't you being a little judgmental here? You should know what it feels like to be alienated from society for your forbidden love. Now you are asking for equality, but the sexual love shared by brothers and sisters is surely natural and profound. Why shouldn't a woman be able to share a man with another woman, or a man share a life with loads of women in marriage. Nieces, uncles, nephews, aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters. It's love! These people have been the victims of prejudice and discrimination for years, perhaps generations and having secured your right to marriage, you would turn round and deny that right to those who share a love they believe is natural and even sacred?

Surely those against giving equal marriage to bigamists and incestuous brothers and sisters are just blinded by their own prejudice? Love is love, after all. Yet, the LGBT crowd suddenly believe that there is an objective morality after all and that, wait for it, some sexual relationships are not in line with the natural law and the State should deny brothers and sisters the right to marry. And, if its not a natural law argument the LGBT crowd would raise in objection, then I'd love to know what the objection is. Social? Political? Religious? Surely all these would just be an expression of bigotry?

Well done, Bishop Hugh. Bishop takes pawn, or is that queen, but I doubt either David Cameron or the LGBT community will ever consider resigning.


Amfortas said…
Brilliant logic. Well done Bishop Hugh!
Anonymous said…
This is the sort of question you would expect a BBC interviewer to ask but of course they never do. The LGBT's have made themselves untouchable. The MPs who support them won't answer this question and neither will Stonewall et al. The best they can do is say they find it offensive but they don't give a logical reason as to why they oppose it. Phoney outrage is the best they can do.

georgem said…
This is what it boils down to when the argument flies from objective truth and morphs into the merely secular and individual. Whatever I believe/feel/want to be right must be right. Whatever I believe/feel/want to be wrong must be wrong. If you don't agree with me, you're a bigot/immoral/perverted.
Bravo Bishop Hugh Gilbert for calling out its illogicality.
Dorotheus said…
I don't think gay people are suddenly taking on objective morality. Those who lobby for gay marriage are saying that gay people can be just as faithful to their partners as the married and want this to be recognised. It must be hard for those who object to this to to believe that gay people can be just as moral as they think themselves to be and would likewise think bigamy and incest to be wrong, but so it is.
Brilliant logic from the bishop? Hardly. He is just being silly clever.
The Bones said…
You are avoiding the question. Why should equality not be extended to bigamists and those in incestuous relationships?

What justification would you have to deny them their marital rights?

From what authority, other than social convention, which can change as we see, would you assert that these cannot marry?
Mark said…
@the bones

Incest is, in the majority of cases, about the abuse of power in a relationship. It results, for any offspring of an incestuous relationship, in significant health problems cf Spanish Hapsburgs.

Bigamy, whilst a biblical form of relationship, is considered detrimental to the psychological health of the 'weaker' partner. This is usually women. Studies of polygamous relationships point out the damage to both men and women caused by the imbalance of power. Isn't this argument particularly powerful for Christians who believe in a kenotic Christ - he was free to enter into that weakness and Christians must work to preserve and extend that freedom throughout the human community, surely?

The bishop's comments are self-contradictory. He believes that he is being friendly, respectful and is able to 'hear' what lesbians and gay men are saying about their desire to be in public, committed and exclusive relationships, in order to pastor them, but his response is based on a view that his dialogue partners are 'fundamentally morally disordered'.

I can't see how this can be done with integrity!
The Bones said…
So, are you saying that if a powerful lobbying group emerged, as an umbrella organisation between bigamists and those in incestuous relationships, which pointed out that they want what homosexuals and lesbians have achieved, you would deny them the right to marriage because their condition and state is:

a)Psychologically unsound.
b)Biologically unsound.
c)Socially unsound and a danger to the fabric of society. where and when have I heard those arguments before?

In their defense, at least polygamous couples can actually PRODUCE children.

In their defense, at least incestous couples can actually PRODUCE children.

The mere fact that you are defining marriage as something that should be denied to these because of the biological fruit of their relationship is, if you don't mind me saying, a little self-contradictory.
The Bones said…
Or perhaps marital incest could be validated as marriage by the State if the couples chose sterilisation.

What objection would you then have?

After all, marriage isn't about procreation or children, is it?
Anonymous said…
I'm still not seeing why the LGBT community has a problem with bigamy and incestuous relationships. If the partners in a bigamist marriage are okay with it who are they to judge someone elses motives. I thought they were fighting for 'equal love'. If bigamists consider it so what's their problem? Dare I say they are being very judgemental.

And if gay couples can use IVF or find donors to have children why can't a brother and a sister? If they did have natural children together they could always have an abortion couldn't they? And what about an elderly brother and sister what's wrong with them getting married under the new definition.

The subtext here is always natural law, natural law, natural law but the LGBT community can't admit it. To do so would be to condemn themselves.

The Bones said…
I think that's my point.
Dorotheus said…
In reply to The Bones, bigamy and incest are both illegal, reflecting traditional morality that regards them as wrong. I don't think many people are suggesting they should be legalised. Faithfulness in relationships, whether married or gay, is quite a different matter.
The Bones said…
Homosexuality was illegal on the same grounds.

Laws can be changed to suit the prevailing views of the times.

You'll have to come up with a better justification than that, I'm afraid.

Keep trying.
Dorotheus said…
Bones, maybe you need to try harder. The argument is about the rightness or otherwise of gay marriage. Some do consider it to be right and good, so to argue that gays should be able to marry implies nothing about incest and bigamy, which in the current state of belief are universally regarded as wrong. (The law could change there too, of course, but is anybody suggesting that?). There seems a strong likelihood that gay marriage will become legal. If Catholics and others want to prevent it they would do well not to introduce irrelevancies, but concentrate on the matter in hand. They also need to be careful about Natural Law, seeing that it is rather unclear whether homosexuality can be called unnatural.
The Bones said…
The current state of belief can change, depending upon the feeling of the time, just as the prevailing view now (among some, by no means all) is for 'gay marriage'.

In order to reject bigamous marriage and incestuous marriage, you need to define marriage.

Thankfully, marriage is already defined. It is something that takes place between one man and one woman for the mutual benefit of they, society and the raise of children.

Once you redefine marriage to be merely 'a legal relationship of love between two loving partners' it is discriminatory to fail to recognise the other forms of relationship which exist in society and to validate them as marriage.

The onus is on you, since it is you who seek to redefine what has already been set in place, to come up with a convincing argument as to why this should not be extended to bigamists and those in incestuous relationships, since, in their eyes their love is natural, real, treasured or even sacred.

Your only real appeal is to natural law - an inherent distaste for something you see as unnatural, when homosexual sexual relationships are so obviously a breach of that same natural law.

You are not engaging in this debate very well, if I may say so.

Your only other appeal is to the current view of the time. Well, it is your view and the view of some, but by no means ALL that gay marriage is a union worthy of the name marriage.

Your argument is: I believe it, so its true.
Dorotheus said…
The Bones, you say, "Once you redefine marriage to be merely 'a legal relationship of love between two loving partners' it is discriminatory to fail to recognise the other forms of relationship which exist in society and to validate them as marriage." This is a non sequitur, so maybe you are not engaging in this debate very well. Marriage actually is a legal relationship of love between two partners, nor, even without God, is it "merely" legal because its legality is based on values that society at large upholds - which do not encompass bigamy and incest.
Gay people want marriage to be seen as applying to those of the same sex, not that anyone should be allowed to marry more than one person or a close relation. I doubt whether many would find those acceptable - because they do believe in objective moral standards, not that something is good because I think it is. (They may also say that Christians do not have a monopoly of objective moral standards).
In any case I do not believe that if I want it it is good, as you say I do, nor do I want to redefine marriage. I am not (not!) arguing in favour of gay marriage, as you say I am, because I believe in marriage as the God-given union of man and woman. All I am saying is that if Catholics expect others who do not believe in God to share their view of gay marriage, they will do have to better than spuriously dragging in other issues. This will be seen as clutching at straws by those who know they are losing the case.
The Bones said…
1. I think you're getting beyond yourself. Marriage as it stands is a human institution - a union between one man and one woman.

This is so for good reasons which encompass the personal, familial and social good of the couple and society at large. It serves the common good. It was never something designed 'for heterosexuals'. It was something designed for humanity.

2. You're repeating yourself. It isn't convincing. NOW, society does not recognise as valid bigamous and incestuous relationships nor consider them worthy of marriage. But what if, in future, a percentage of society did consider them worthy of marriage. If it had some kind of popular mandate, what possible justification other than natural law could you use to defend the institution of marriage from being extended to these. So far, all your arguments have used the same framework as those used in the past to deny marriage to same sex couples. Thereby, you would be the one in contradiction.

3. You say 'gay people' desire this, yet it is not evident that all gay people desire it. Further, just because some gay people desire it, does not mean it should be granted by the State. Further, what right does the State have to redefine something which is not its possession, anyhow?

4. Christians do not have a monopoly on objective moral standards? Well, we would say the Church has the fullness of truth, but that the natural law is discernible by reason. It is the natural law that homosexual activists are arguing against, while appealing to that same law in condemning bigamy and incest. At least we are consistent.

5. The fact that you, who claim to be on the side of the Church and of natural marriage have failed to address adequately as to the reasons why marriage should not be extended to other forms of unnatural sexual relationships is plenty evidence that Bishop Hugh is onto something worthy of repetition in the world of blogdom.
The Bones said…
I mean, what makes you think that the human family cannot degenerate to a degree that bigamy and incest are considered worthy of marital recognition?

Remember that prior to the conversion of England, the wilful murder of children was acceptable because it was thought people did not become human until 2 years of age.

We have abortion, the destruction of innocent life in the womb. What makes you so sure that future society won't accept all kinds of relationship as equally valid.

All it requires are some BBC documentaries on the difficult 'forbidden love' of brothers and sisters and some concerted propagdana and society's views can change.

You need to come up with a justification for why, once marriage has been extended (redefined) for homosexuals and lesbians, those other forbidden loves cannot be given equal recognition.

Let's not be myopic here. We're perfectly capable of sinking lower than we ever have before with Satan, as we are of rising to the heights of holiness with Christ our Lord.

If we're capable of the Holocaust and the destruction of millions of lives in the womb, the gulags, the horrors of Stalinism and Pot, we're perfectly capable of deciding incest and bigamy are relationships that we really shouldn't 'judge'.
Dorotheus said…
'The fact that you, who claim to be on the side of the Church and of natural marriage have failed to address adequately as to the reasons why marriage should not be extended to other forms of unnatural sexual relationships is plenty evidence that Bishop Hugh is onto something worthy of repetition in the world of blogdom.'
I don't claim to be, I am. I think you are not addressing adequately the possibility of people making distinctions between different moral issues, but I am certainly content to leave the bishop's point in the world of blogdom.
Richard Collins said…
Dorotheus - I think homosexual acts can be considered as unnatural...just think about it for a minute, if you can last that long.
Good post Laurence.
Anonymous said…
I think the guy who's running this blog has got it sussed. At least he's being consistent.

He's got some very familiar looking arguments here:

and here:

Looking at these arguments I really can't see why the LGBT community find the comparison of gay marriage with bigamous marriages and incestuous marriages 'offensive' and 'uncalled for'. The arguments he's using are near identical if not totally identical.

Pétrus said…
Surely homosexual incest, between adult brothers for example, gets around the problem of genetic issues?