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.

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