James O'Brien: The Mistake We're Making With Religion And Gay Marriage

16 February 2017, 11:40 | Updated: 16 February 2017, 11:52

James O'Brien On Gay Marriage

Here James O'Brien identifies the mistake people are making when it comes to discussing religion and gay marriage.

This week the Church of England's Synod met in London and voted to effectively reject a report which upholds the traditional teaching that marriage is a lifelong union of a man and a woman.

Despite there being a clear overall majority in favour of “taking note” of the report, it needed the support of all three houses – bishops, clergy and laity. 

The clergy narrowly voted against, by 100 votes to 93, meaning the report was thrown out.

Here James O'Brien describes the mistake people are making when speaking about religion and gay marriage. 

He said: "I was making a pilot for Channel 4, I mean billions of years ago, and we were doing this actually, it was on the relationship between religion and homosexuality. 

"I turned to this Northern Irish minister, right at the beginning, and said, and I didn't say it in a provocative way, but I said: "What precisely is your problem with gay people who love, who go to bed together?"

"And he just went bonkers. And started describing in quite graphic detail a very, very esoteric, quite uncomfortable, never mind esoteric, sexual practice that he alleged gay men across the world were always doing to each other. 

"I just thought 'right OK, you're not the person I am thinking of today when I sort of think of someone who is just having their preconceptions challenged by the idea of equal marriage'. 

"But it's more of a discomfort, a discombobulation - there you go, three disses in a row - it's more about discomfort and discombobulation, than disgust. 

"Disgust, I don't know how you fix. I don't know how you help with disgust. I've got a few little tactics I've developed over the years but generally speaking I don't think people go away having had their homophobia exposed, they don't go away examining it. 

"But there will be an awful lot of people who don't believe they have a homophobic bone in their body who baulk, and I am thinking about regular churchgoers, who baulk at the idea of equal marriage.

"The reason I say this is quite personal for me, is because I think that the political narrative, and the media narrative, has to find a way to distinguish between, if you like, the disgusted, and the discomforted.

"Whether you're talking about equal marriage, whether you're talking about homosexuality in general, whether you're talking about immigration, whether you're talking about Islam, the distinction between the disgusted, the determined to disgusted...and the people who are discomforted and discombobulated, but somewhere inside would rather not be, perhaps.

"That's my starter for ten 2017, that seems to me to be the massive mistake that people on my side of most fences have made over the last year or two. 

"This conflation of most people, who are determined to be disgusted with people who are decent but disgusted."