Iris Robinson says one thing too far…

Last month, against a huge backlash from the GLBT lobby, I supported the right of Iris Robinson, wife of the First Minister of Northern Ireland to make certain remarks about homosexuality. At the time I wrote the following:

This is the problem that is now facing Christians. If we continue to hold to our antiquated views, we will increasingly hear calls for us to be pushed to the margins of society. The so called liberality of modern society is anything but and almost any viewpoint is accepted in the name of pluralism apart from the Christian one. The government seems to have a view of faith that thinks its all about being nice and good and pleasant to your neighbour. Listen to Tony Blair’s speech launching his new faith foundation or Gordon Brown speaking to Scottish Presbyterians and you would think that the Golden Rule was the only thing that counted for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Adherents of the Repeated Meme.

A truly pluralistic society is one that permits a variety of opinion and healthy debate around conflicting viewpoints. However, we seem to be living in a society which, despite its claims of pluralism, is anything but, for when Christians simply express their viewpoint they are chastised and demonised. Despite the claims of the Home Secretary that we live in a "secular democracy", she forgets that the Church of England is still the State Church and that the official doctrine of the Church of England on matters of human sexuality is still, despite the loud shouting of the revisionists, that sex belongs inside marriage of a man and a woman and all other sexual activity is sinful and that sinners need to repent and find forgiveness and healing. So when an MP simply reiterates this viewpoint, what is the problem?

I continue to stand by those words. Today however, Ex-Gay Watch is running a story about a new controversial statement from Mrs Robinson.

Northern Irish MP Iris Robinson is in trouble again after comparing homosexuality to child sex abuse.

The Member of UK Parliament, who stood by a slew of homophobic remarks last month, told the House of Commons on June 18 that there could be “no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”

Although a Hansard official later checked recordings and confirmed that her comments were transcribed correctly, Mrs Robinson denied she had made the remarks. “I clearly intended to say that child abuse was worse than even homosexuality and sodomy,” she said. “At no point have I set out to suggest homosexuality was worse than child sex abuse.”

Since the XGW piece linked to my earlier piece, I posted the following comment:

Given that you linked to my website in your piece, I’m going to give you the reply you want.

Firstly, Mrs Robinson’s statement as a theological statement is incorrect. There is no viler sin than any other – sin is sin is sin. It is simply incorrect to state that homosexual practice is worse than child abuse. Now from my own personal perspective, it is entirely possible to be in a consensual sexual relationship and still sin, but to force yourself upon anybody, especially a minor, is in the eyes of most people a completely different act then sinning where no third party is involved.

Secondly, I believe that this new statement from Iris Robinson presents a different position from the one I supported last month, and while I stand by my words in June, please also recognise that I am joining you in rebuking Iris Robinson as regards this second statement. Please do me the courtesy of recognising the difference between the issue I made last time (that Christians should be able to say publicly what the Bible says) and the issue with this latest statement (that Christians should not make moral categorisation judgements that the Bible does not make).

I think that’s pretty clear. If the Hansard record is correct, (and I have no reason to believe it to be incorrect unless other MPs who were there at the time are willing to publicly state that Hansard misreported what they heard with their own ears) then Iris Robinson has crossed over a line from simply repeating what Scripture says (however tactlessly she did it), to assuming a position that has no theological credibility. As such, it is beholden to even those of us who would support a Biblically conservative position on the issue of human sexuality to call her to account for mis-applying the Scriptures in this instance. I hope this post will be seen as such a rebuke.

8 Comments on “Iris Robinson says one thing too far…

  1. I thought her initial comments last month were based more in emotion than simple adherence to Scripture, and this somewhat proves it in my mind.  She is not a consistent thinker.  She is repulsed equally by both homsoexuality and child sexual abuse.  Sure, they’re both sins, but since she’s a politician that would give me concern that she would want homosexuality to be considered a crime on the level of child sexual abuse.

    That’s simply not right.  What two individuals do of their own free will in their own bedroom is not the government’s business.  It sickens me to think that Ms. Robinson’s moral responses are so off that she can’t see the difference between a consenting sexual act between adults — no matter how unappealing she finds it — and those who would take advantage of innocent children.

  2. I think it is fairly clear that she meant to say what she claims she did say. I’d be very surprised if she considers homosexuality to be worse than paedophilia.  MPs need to watch what they say though, so obviously she needs to apologise.

  3. Tiffer, even in her clarification, Ms. Robinson stated that, though she did not mean to say homosexuality was worse than pedophilia, she called them “comparable,” meaning she feels they are on the same moral level to certain degree.  That’s wrong, and she’s wrong, no matter how you slice it.  Her words:

    Let’s look at it. Can you think of anything more vile than man and man or woman and woman and sexually abusing children? What I say I base on biblical pronouncements, based on God’s word. I am amazed that people are surprised when I quote from scriptures. It shows the churches either aren’t preaching God’s word or are watering it down. … I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.

  4. Comparable doesn’t actually mean “the same” it means in the same range, the same ballpark.  One can still be worse than the other.  Even though the vast majority of people would say paedophilia is worse than homosexuality, some would say the gap is wider than others, and she appears to be saying she thinks the gap is not as wide as the general public.  

    That doesn’t mean that she isn’t simply hiding behind language and that she does in fact think they are the same as you say of course.

  5. Well, I think anyone who would even suggest that consenting sex between adults and the abuse of children are even in the same “ballpark” is in need of quite the reprimand.  I have no desire to find anything redeeming in Mrs. Robinson at this point, unless she apologizes, of course.

  6. Peter I applaud you for drawing a distinction between Iris having the right to quote from the scriptures and stepping over the line where there is no theological position to support her points of view.

    However, I do despute how you can hold this position now considering what happened before as you alluded to. Her previous utterances while she used the scriptures she also advocated a cure, suggesting an illness, and recommended psychiatric help for all homosexuals. Was she not also “mis-applying the Scriptures” in that instance?

  7. No Stephen,

    I think that Isaiah 53 very clearly shows that Jesus died for our own brokenness, including same-sex attraction. For some people psychiatric insight is part of the healing, for others it isn’t. The danger is not in sending people to have a chat to someone, the danger is in assuming one developmental model of homosexuality and then trying to fit people’s life-stories to that.

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