Friday, 30 April 2010

The Inequality of Choice

A relationship counsellor's bid to challenge his sacking for refusing to give sex therapy to gay couples has been turned down by the High Court. Said counsellor, Gary McFarlane from Bristol, said: "I have the ability to provide counselling services to same sex couples; however, because of my Christian beliefs and principles, there should be allowances taken in to account whereby individuals like me can actually avoid having to contradict their very strongly-held Christian principles."

One would assume that Mr McFarlane, on the basis of his Christian principles, also discriminates against couples who are not married. If not, then why not – or is he only selectively bigoted against gays?

A Christian is, by definition, someone who adheres to the teachings of Jesus. If anyone can show me a single pronouncement attributable to Jesus on homosexual discrimination then I will eat my hat. Jesus was at pains to point out the evils of discrimination and I would suggest that there is no place for discrimination of any sort within true Christianity.

I wonder how Mr McFarlane would react is someone refused him service simply because he happens to be black (which he is), and the person discriminating against him had deeply held religious convictions about black people being inferior – as Christians once did. Religion is no more than one opinion among many, dressed up in spiritual mumbo-jumbo to give it weight.

If we are to cater for Christian beliefs when making laws, then we must also give equal weight to all religions’ beliefs – and that is plainly impossible unless we allow people to decide under which laws they wish to live. But what then happens when people of different religions are in legal conflict?

It is a truism that when people are given choice, then inequality is a logical consequence further down the path. Politicians who advocate choice in public services should take note of this when proposing choice in health or education. Choice, however, is also the mother of innovation.


  1. I am so very glad that Gary McFarlane lost his case. And equally glad that he does not have right of appeal! However I don't understand why this case does not set a precedent? Can anyone explain?

    Richard x x x

  2. Richard: Do you have a link showing this? I was under the impression that any legal judgement set a precedent.

  3. Last night on the 18:00 BBC TV News they said that this did not set a legal precedent. I have nothing else.

    Richard x x x

  4. I suspect in the ruling the Judge said something like "given the special circumstances of the case it should not be seen to set a precedent". But because it now forms part of case law it can be seen to have shifted the overall balance of existing case law and therefore can be of value to future cases.

  5. In Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink" he describes an experiment where male college students filled out a survey on gender opinion, after which they watched a variety of porn films including gay porn.
    The men who measured as the most homophobic in the survey were the ones who became most aroused watching the gay porn.
    Not that I am implying anything by this man's use of religion, of course.
    At least common sense won the day, precedent or not.

  6. Dear Bill, I have been lured here by the picture of a Dyson but can not access that post?
    While I am here I do take your point about selective bigotism. I often find people cherry pick from the Bible to suit their own ends.

  7. Kerrie: It was a slip of the finger - that was tomorrow's post being scheduled, but it got away early.

  8. Here are the references of the Bible about homosexuality.

    'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.'
    (Leviticus 18:22);&version=31;

    'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have
    done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will
    be on their own heads.' (Leviticus 20:13);&version=31;

    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their
    women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way
    the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed
    with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men,
    and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
    (Romans 1:26-27);&version=31;

    Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city
    of Sodom-both young and old-surrounded the house. They called to Lot,
    "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so
    that we can have sex with them." (Genesis 19:4-5);&version=31;

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?
    Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor
    adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves
    nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit
    the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10);&version=31;

    knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for
    the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for
    the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of
    mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for
    kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing
    that is contrary to sound doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:9-10);&version=50;

  9. Anon: And are any of those words attributable to Jesus? No - they are not. QED

  10. Well Anon - as Bill said, did Christ say any of this? No I think not........ I am interested though - do you obey all of Leviticus? Or do you just cherry pick? In fact do you obey the whole of the Old Testament?

    Nice to have you on board though, although it would be even nicer if you thought for yourself....

  11. Anon:

    If we're into quoting from scripture:

    Article 3 of the UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

    "We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

    I think you'll find that trumps the bible.

  12. In Reply to comments:
    a) Bill which hat are you going to eat first
    b) I wasn't implying that these were my thoughts "touchy"!! (could be just fairy tales)
    c) If only the UN practiced what it printed
    d) Christ did not write the bible, so every word in the bible did not come from his mouth.( in fact he only had a "bit" part)
    e) Don't treat everyone who does not share your views as the enemy. Life's too short - Chill out!!
    Best regards - Joe (oops! Anon)

  13. Anan (Joe):

    a) The turban.
    b) Never assumed they were.
    c) If only Christians did too.
    e) I am fully aware of that, but Christians, by definition, follow the teachings of Christ (if only).
    e) But they are the enemy - although I know you are not.