With just over two weeks to go until the Marriage Referendum, things have begun to get ugly in the debates (arguments) between the two camps.
This is perfectly understandable. Many of us hold quite strong views on marriage, and what it stands for. The problem is that marriage is not something that is tied down to a simple definition or set of beliefs. There are as many views on what marriage is as there are married people. We all hold some kind of opinion of what our own marriage is about – or what we think marriage should be about. Most of us are in one of two camps.
As you may guess from the title, I’m in the ‘Yes’ camp.
Underpinning many of the arguments of the ‘No’ camp is a set of beliefs based on, well, belief. Based on faith, and on the doctrine of the Catholic Church, a church of which I’m a member.
One part of Catholic faith that is not pursued in either camp is the idea of an informed conscience. We each have a conscience and can make choices in our lives, so long as we inform ourselves as to what the choices and consequences are. For me this means going beyond the headlines of the poster campaigns, and actually thinking about what the referendum means for our country, and for the thousands of people who will be directly affected by our vote on Friday 22nd.
I have written before about some of the main reasons for the ‘No’ vote and why I don’t agree with them. So I’ll try not to repeat myself here.
Really, it’s this simple: What is the referendum about?
Forget all the posters, forget all the fancy slogans. Think – what does this referendum mean for you, for your understanding of marriage, for your understanding of family.
If you believe that marriage is about love, then vote yes to allow those who love each other the chance to proclaim their love in front of friends and family.
If you believe that your faith speaks against this referendum, then consider this. Not all bishops agree with the Irish Hierarchy. Recently German Bishops voted to allow same-sex couples to keep their jobs in the Church. (In Ireland a teacher can lose their job in a Church funded school if they come out as being Gay. Apparently we have a long way to go)
For me a faith based argument against the referendum is based on a tenuous premise. Not everyone in Ireland is Catholic, and of those who are, not everyone agrees with some of the rules of the Church.
And, apart from any of this, I base a lot of my faith on the sayings and actions of Jesus. He was there for people who were excluded, He was there for those who needed a voice, those who needed love.
Based on this alone, I am voting yes.