February is LGBT History Month, which Cambridge colleges celebrated earlier in the month by flying the rainbow flagLouis Ashworth

The Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) last week invited a speaker who had previously published an article in which he presented controversial views on same-sex marriage and single parenthood.

Nick Tucker was recently invited by the Christian Union to give a number of lectures on Jesus from the 6th to the 10th of February, as part of their ‘Unexpected’ campaign.

In his article, entitled ‘Same sex marriage: when chickens come home to roost’, Tucker presented traditional views of the institution of marriage and argued that these are being undermined in modern times. He claimed that ideally “marriage functions as a bedrock for human society, binding people into a network of relationships”, but increasingly it has come to be the case that “marriage is simply a contract”.

He identified the acceptance of same-sex marriage as a symptom of the deteriorated state of marriage, writing: “The redefinition of marriage has been underway for years, and it is only because it has become a contractual agreement like any other that same sex marriage is even on the table.”

He presented same-sex marriage as a significant alteration to the meaning of the institution: “In the current controversy, on both sides of the Atlantic, many have argued that Christians must oppose same-sex marriage because it represents the ‘thin end of the wedge’, opening the door for all sorts of other reshaping and redefinition of marriage. I think it would be much more honest to say that it represents the thick end of the wedge.”

In the article he implied that same-sex marriage is incompatible with Christian doctrine on marriage, writing: “If same-sex marriage becomes legal, it will, as far as I can see, represent a kind of terminus for marriage: marriage in the classical Christian sense at least, as same-sex marriage excludes by definition the possibility of childbearing and that child’s subsequent nurture by its biological parents.”

Tucker also voiced controversial opinions on single parenthood. He cites research by James Q Wilson, an academic, which shows “children of single moms are more likely than those of two-parent families to be abused, to drop out of or be expelled from school, to become juvenile delinquents, to take drugs, and to commit adult crimes”.

He went on to say: “Of course, this should not be read as though single mothers are the bogeypersons of society…The statistics simply demonstrate time and again that in general children demonstrate the best outcomes when raised by both of their biological parents together.”

In one particularly graphic passage, Tucker warned of a “national epidemic of suffering and deprivation among children”, appearing to liken apathy towards the breakdown of marriage to “walking past a burning building and ignoring the pleas for help coming from children trapped in an upstairs bedroom.”

He also called upon the Church to “offer God’s grace to those who are affected by sexual and marital brokenness.”

However, the President of the Christian Union, Dom Palmer, was eager to clarify that Tucker’s views on marriage had not fed into the talks he gave recently in Cambridge.

“We didn’t ask him, and wouldn’t ask him, to talk about sexuality,” he told Varsity.

In the talks, Tucker had aimed to provide a fresh insight into Jesus by looking closely at Luke’s gospel, including the parable of the tenants and the resurrection.

“There was nothing in the talks about same-sex marriage, or marriage at all,” Palmer said. “The Christian Union is about looking at Jesus infinitely more than it is about people’s sexuality.

“It would be a mistake to say that Christianity doesn’t have something to say about personal life - but the Christian Union doesn’t try to be the Church,” he went on. “The Church helps you through your personal life, from birth to death, but our mission is just helping people to know Jesus.”

Speaking to Varsity, Tucker defended his position, arguing that his comments, made in 2012, were arguing “against further redefinition of marriage, and in so doing was actually calling people in the church away from singling out Same Sex Marriage as the only problem faced by the institution of marriage.”

This is not the first time CICCU has courted controversy with its speakers. In May 2015, Simon Oatridge gave a talk entitled ‘Outdated Living: Does God want to limit my sexual freedom?’ which is available on CICCU’s website. In the talk he disputed the idea that God was anti-sex, but he went on to say that “to enjoy sex out of its intended context, outside of husband and wife committed together, is never, and has never been, God’s ideal.”

Yesterday, the Church of England’s House of Clergy voted not to “take note” of a report which recommended that marriage in the Church should only be between a man and a woman, and that services should not be held to bless same-sex relationships. The vote, which went against the report by 100 votes to 93, had been previously approved by the House of Bishops (43–1), and the House of Laity (106–83)

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