Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

Ministry Resources


The debate concerning same sex marriage is not about to go away. The militancy of the gay rights movement and the ambivalence of the conservatives will ensure that reality. Of course, the debate about same sex marriage is but a component part of the larger issue of homosexuality which, in turn, rises to question and challenge the very foundations of our understanding of what it means to be 'male' and 'female' and how those gender distinctives relate to each other for the health and welfare of society as a whole.

The most recent development in this 'same sex marriage' debate in our country is a television campaign by a mother who believes her son is being treated as a second class citizen because the government of the day maintains a policy that will not recognize same sex marriage. This particular mother has adopted a strategy that lobbies our Prime Minister and his government to change this policy and to legislate in favour of same sex marriage. Mum is going in to bat for her boy and, presumably, for all others who consider the current legislation discriminatory and oppressive.

As I have thought about this over the last few days, I was reminded of another mother who took up the case of her two boys and did all she could to have them recognized and affirmed by the leader of their group.

Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. "What is your request?" he asked.She replied, "In your Kingdom, will you let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one at your right and the other at your left?" (Matt 20:20-21 NLT)

(Incidentally, I can't help but wonder concerning the whereabouts of the fathers in each of these scenarios. Where were they? For all I know, these women may be widows and, therefore, the only authority figure in the family to present the case. Then again, could they be the matriarchal type who 'wear the pants in the family' and thereby sow confusion about gender roles and identities so that dad is nothing more than a shadowy figure in the background?)

Whether it be the mother of James and John seeking recognition for her boys or this modern day mother also seeking a form of recognition for her son, I suspect the answer of Jesus would be the same in both cases

But Jesus told them, "You don't know what you are asking!" (Matt 20:22 NLT)

It is often the case in life that we fail to realize the implications of requests, decisions and choices we make. From our immediate perspective we often cannot see beyond the moment to what will be the consequences if we get our way.

"Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?""Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!""You will indeed drink from it," he told them. (Matt 20:22-23 NLT)

The mother of James and John (and, no doubt, both of them as well - Mark 10/35-40) saw only the power, prestige, status and authority as they anticipated this promotion they asked of Jesus. I wonder how passionate and enthusiastic she/they would have been had they known the true cost of such a request? That such a promotion would involve what Jesus called 'the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink".

Similarly, the modern-day mother wants her son to be given special recognition in a same sex marriage relationship. Might the text now read But Jesus told her, "You don't know what you are asking!" (Matt 20:22 NLT)

There is much more at stake here than I think she or I could possibly imagine. There are consequences that will impact not only her son and his partner but that will change the entire social foundations and fabric of our society. There are those in our society who are actively pursuing such change. For them it can't come soon enough. It's as though their every waking minute is consumed by their passion to facilitate such change. But, like our contemporary mother, I wonder if they have any idea of the flow-on effects with their accompanying 'bitterness' and 'sorrow'?

I write these words with some first-hand knowledge of the flow-on effects or consequences that come when life-style choices are made that change the time honoured relational structures of our society. I have experienced something of the 'bitterness' and 'sorrow' and witnessed that devastating impact in the life of others. My own daughter knows the incredible pain that comes with such a choice when her husband abandoned their mutual commitment and replaced it with a same sex commitment.

The journey through the consequences of that choice has been excruciatingly painful. What is still very evident (and this opens another huge dimension of this subject) is the residual confusion and distortion in the hearts and minds of the children involved.

It seems to me that the advocates of same sex marriage have fallen for the deception that the discrimination experienced by two homosexuals will be removed only when they are granted the right to marry and that their marriage is recognized in every way as equal to a heterosexual marriage.


It doesn't matter what legislation is enacted by which government in whatever country because when all is said and done the inherent distinctions between 'male' and 'female' will still ultimately prevail no matter how much we try to erase and eradicate those differences.

Those differences are seen in the physical realm - the very biological distinctions in the male and female bodies have been with us from the very beginning and cannot be erased. The whole issue of human reproduction is at stake here.

They are seen in the emotional realm - the profound differences between a man and a woman and the emotional response to life's situations.

They are seen in the relational realm - the complementary differences that each bring to the human community. To fly in the face of these realities by demanding the right and recognition of same sex marriage is to invite a level of pain into the lives of those two men/women that they have not anticipated.

By now you will realize that I am opposed to same sex marriage. But the reasons for my stance is because of my care and concern for those who would commit themselves to a relationship that, in the long term, I believe will prove to be less than fulfilling at best and relationally destructive at worst.

Yet I want to disassociate myself from those who oppose same sex marriage for what I consider to be negative, judgmental, censorious, self-righteous reasons. I hope that my reasons for taking this position are based on the rationale of care, concern and the welfare of those who take the opposing view.

Download free ministry resources.
give us your feedback.