by Rev. Osbert James
The Conference of Churches in Grenada has been involved from the get go in this permutation of constitution reform consultations.
We were represented by Mr. Alvin Clouden in the Professor McIntosh consultations and now by Mrs. Naeisha John-Diara on the Dr. Francis Alexis-led consultations.
The Conference, however, as a policy, does not negotiate in public and seeks through appropriate media to deal with the situations that confront it.
The Conference, through its representative expressed its concerns about the process and even sent a letter to the CRAC to that effect.
As it relates to public statements to be made by the Conference of Churches, it is the heads of churches who give the final approval and until recently, there were only 5 member churches: Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Salvation Army and Presbyterian.
Within the last year the Josiah Reformation Centre became a member and the Grenada
Conference of Seventh Day Adventist was given permanent observer status on the CCG.
For any statement to be issued in the public as a statement coming from the conference, that statement must first be drafted and all executive members, but especially the heads, would go through it word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph.
Often, therefore, when I speak, as I am doing now in the paragraphs which follow, I speak not for Presbyterian church nor the CCG, but as Osbert James, a Grenadian and a Christian.
I have read the scriptures sent to you by our mutual friend, and I want to note that the scripture speaks about homosexual practice and not homosexual orientation. The criminal code also deals with homosexual practice and not orientation.
I make a distinction between the two. When I speak about rights for homosexuals, I speak about those who are so oriented. I consider abhorrent anal sex whether it be between a man and a man or a man and a woman; this, I believe is Sodomy.
It is my position, also, that the legalising of a marital union must be only between a man and a woman.
Philosophically speaking, even in heterosexual situations, many people are married even before they come to the church for it is not the minister by uttering magical words that makes the people married, but the devout commitment the parties have for each other.
I believe, therefore, the issue is not the marriage of same sex couples but legally establishing such marriages and the church giving its blessing to them.
Of concern, therefore, as it regards to the legalising of same sex unions, should be the present marriage legislation, which assumes marriage to be between a man and a woman, but does not state so. This can be challenged if someone wanted.
The Marriage ACT (amended by Act no 4 of 1966, act no 7 of 1996, act no 14 of 2011) uses the term “parties” rather than man and woman or male and female.
In its stating the persons one is prohibiting from marrying, it does not list same sex couples (see section 5).
The act also states that “no minister of religion who is a Marriage Officer shall be required to act as a Marriage Officer with respect to any Marriage which is contrary to the rules of the religious denomination to which he or she belongs“ (section 9).
What happens in Grenada when a couple gets married, is that the civil and the religious work in tandem.
The state, after the stipulated requirements are met, confers on the religious minister the status of marriage officer. The person who is married by a minister who is a marriage officer (and not all religious ministers are marriage officers) is married according to the religious rites of the faith of which the minister is, and after the marriage is duly registered, the legal rights/obligations are conferred on the couple.
Although I do not approve of marriage between same sex couples and I consider abhorrent anal sex, I cannot help but acknowledge that in whatever relationship, whether homosexual or heterosexual, where there exists genuine love, mutual respect and consideration, those virtues must be admired and celebrated.
Let me close this letter with another scripture, and note, that in this passage lists a number of vices that which, were they to be practiced habitually would keep people from inheriting the kingdom of God. Verses 22 and 23, however, the guiding principles of my life: Gal 5:16 What I say is this: let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. Gal 5:17.
For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants.
These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what you want to do. Gal 5:18.
If the Spirit leads you, then you are not subject to the Law. Gal 5:19 What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; Gal 5:20 in worship of idols and witchcraft.
People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; Gal 5:21 they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God. Gal 5:22.
But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gal 5:23 humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. Gal 5:24
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature with all its passions and desires. Gal 5:25
The Spirit has given us life; he must also control our lives.