Same sex marriage laws change in the UK – and the Churches get all confused

With the change in laws allowing same sex marriages to take place in the United Kingdom, the first marriages have taken place.

gaymarriageuk

Not everyone is happy of course. The Churches are looking all confused – on the one hand preaching that “God is love” while on the other hand saying, “wee-eeeell, maybe God is love – but not quite for all people. Not for you gay people over in the corner, anyway.”

And the politicians who, in not too distant memory were all iffy and uffy about same sex marriage, now rush in their full acceptance of the cause, saying, “We were on your side all along! Yes, really!”

Then there are groups who claim that same-sex marriage will persecute traditional marriage types. I’m not sure how – and neither are they, as they don’t quite specify the details – but they’re vehement on the matter.

Vaguely familiar

The thing is, all this denying and delaying and complaing and whinging about being persecuted sounds eerily familiar. The same complaints were heard, and the same arguments, every time a persecuted minority (or majority) has gained rights.

The same arguments were used against the civil rights movement in the US (didn’t you know whites are discriminated against?), and the same against women rights (men are being persecuted now – didn’t you know?). It’s the same old line, used over and over.

It never held water then, and it doesn’t now.

Australia is a backwater

My home country of Australia is starting to look more and more like a backwater of human rights. I’m embarrassed. I’m living in New Zealand now, but I follow the Aussie news, and I feel ashamed that Australia hasn’t led the way on this issue. Especially when so much of the population is clearly in favour. It seems like the politicians have stopped listening to the people. Or maybe that happened a while back…

But you can’t stop change. The Churches in the UK are against this, but popular opinion is changing so swiftly in favour of this issue that they’ll soon be left behind, if they aren’t already. Just one more way in which mainstream religions are losing touch with popular culture.

These are interesting times we live in. I think there are some issues that are changing a little too fast for my liking, such as the amount of violence on TV and film. But other issues, such as rights for minorities, can’t change fast enough.

What do you think?

The Viking Laws versus the 10 Commandments

When I was in Norway last year, I picked up the postcard below at the Oslo Viking Ships museum:

vikinglaws

Here’s the text, in case you can’t read it well:

VIKING LAWS
BE BRAVE AND AGGRESSIVE
Be direct
Grab all opportunities
Use varying methods of attack
Be versatile and agile
Attack one target at a time
Don’t plan everything in detail
Use top quality weapons

BE PREPARED
Keep weapons in good condition
Keep in shape
Find good battle comrades
Agree on important points
Choose one chief

BE A GOOD MERCHANT
Find out what the market needs
Don’t promise what you can’t keep
Don’t demand overpayment
Arrange things so that you can return

KEEP THE CAMP IN ORDER
Keep things tidy and organised
Arrange enjoyable activities which strengthen the group
Make sure everybody does useful work
Consult all members of the group for advice.

OK, I couldn't help myself. Here's a hot Viking dude for your delectation ;)
OK, I couldn’t help myself. Here’s a hot Viking dude for your delectation 😉

I don’t know how historically accurate these “Laws” are. Possibly not at all. But they got me thinking about what sort of laws a Pagan society might have, and I could see a lot of usefulness in the Viking Laws above.

A lot more usefulness than in the Judeo-Christian “10 Commandments”, to be honest.

Here’s the Judeo-Christian “10 Commandments”, as a quick refresher:

1. I am the Lord your God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

OK. Not as hot, but he *is* clutching the Ten Commandments. Sorta. Kinda.
OK. Not as hot, but he *is* clutching the Ten Commandments. Sorta. Kinda.

Relevance Test

Of the 10 Commandments, realistically only Commandments 6, 8 and 9 really have any direct relevance to managing a modern society.

Even then, there are socially sanctioned exceptions for 6 (wartime and self-defence), and 8 (an argument could be made that taxes are state-sanctioned theft).

So Commandment 9 is the only one left legally standing. And our legal system is in such a poor state that it’s usually more likely that the party with the most money wins than the party whose cause is just. So false witness can be worked around, apparently quite easily if you take time to read the papers and have the ready cash.

By comparison, the Viking Laws are direct.

They give sensible advice on what to do and how to manage your affairs. There is no talk of Gods or Goddesses.

About the only “Law” that I could sensibly find fault with is “Attack one target at a time” which, although sensible advice in most cases, could sometimes restrict an army (or an individual) from possibly making a great (and unexpected) strategic move. It doesn’t matter who you are or how wealthy: the Laws are useful to anyone.

If I were going to teach my kids a series of Laws to live by, I’d opt for the Viking Laws. They’re practical. They’re relevant. They fit well with any religion, apart from a totally pacifist stance.

The Viking Laws also teach a team mentality which I like. They teach listening to one another, but respect for leadership. They recommend planning and forethought. All of these are great skills.

In the end, it’s up to us individually to choose (or not) a series of Laws to live by. I think these Viking Laws are as good a set of Laws as any.

I guess I’d have made a good Viking!