In praying for our political leaders and for organisations working within the political framework in our country, we have in our hands a powerful weapon. One of the topics on the prayer list is the ‘hot potato’ of the ‘Gay Marriage legislation’. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 received Royal Assent earlier in July (and is therefore now law) and the first same sex marriages are expected to be held early in 2014. For some Christians, this is discouraging news. However, we should continue to pray for God’s ways to be honoured.
There are provisions to protect churches and individuals who do not want to carry out these ceremonies in the Act. No religious organisation or individual minister will be compelled to marry same-sex couples or to permit this to happen on their premises. There is a clause in the Act to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple and currently it is illegal for the Church of England and the Church in Wales to marry same-sex couples. However, there is a strong possibility that interested parties may start campaigning for these protections to be removed and it is not clear if these exemptions apply also to registrars who may not wish to carry out these ceremonies because of their religious convictions. As we pray about this legislation, we can also pray:
1. for Registrars to have the same protection as church ministers and the freedom to decline to carry out these procedures.
2. that the protection for churches and ministers is not compromised and that there is no penalty (eg the withholding of grants) for those who do not wish to be involved in same-sex marriages.
We also need to remember ‘For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ (2 Cor 10:3-5 TNIV) There is a spiritual aspect to many of the laws in our land and we need to be alert to the spiritual consequences of legislation and to pray ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven’ on a regular basis.