Members of the Montserrat Christian Council (MCC) on Monday morning said while everyone has the freedom to choose same sex unions are not the will of God.
Chairman of the council Pastor Gesner Louis-Charles of the Methodist Church said marriage should be an “exclusive lifelong union between a man and a woman.”
Using biblical references Pastor Louis-Charles said that while the laws do not prohibit homosexual lifestyles, the MCC believes it is wrong and goes against the nature of God.
The council said their decision to make a public statement on the matter was not as a result of any particular event. Montserrat’s laws currently only recognises unions between a man and a woman. However, the council explained that it was important to start a conversation on the issue.
The minister was accompanied by Vice Chair Pastor Shane McFarlan of the Beulah Wesleyan Holiness Church, Father Carlisle Vyphuis of the Anglican Church, Father Fidelis Armin of the Roman Catholic Church, Pastor Ruth Allen of the Davy Hill Wesleyan Holiness Church and Bishop Melroy Meade of the Church of God of Prophecy.
The chairman said that members of the council “will not provide weddings to same sex couples.” Recommending that men and women should live a life of celibacy or marry someone of the opposite sex. He also said the Montserrat Christian Council “strongly rejects any support on the issue.”
Pastor Louis-Charles said church leaders will be invited to share a petition to their members in support of their stance against same sex unions. A similar petition to the community will also be left at strategic places for the public to sign.
He added that the names will not be shared with any organisation but is a data collection exercise to gauge how the people of Montserrat view the issue.
Priest over the local Roman Catholic Church Father Fidelis Armin said they are never against everyone having the freedom to choose but it was important for everyone to know where the churches of Montserrat stood on the matter.
Pastor Ruth Allen said “we respect human rights but when it conflicts with the word of God, we have to make it clear. We cannot endorse anything that goes against scripture.”
She added that the council is fully aware legislation could be passed which change Montserrat’s current position towards legalising marriages between same sex couples. However, “Montserrat is a Christian nation and while we cannot enforce it, our members must know where we stand.”
Pastor Shane McFarlan called the increased adoption of laws which support same sex marriages as a war on the family. He said “all of society is against stealing and we get that from the word and the heart of God. Society lashes out against someone for stealing. To steal is sin. Homosexuality is also a sin. We all stand for human rights but when it clashes against God, we have an issue.”
Bishop Melroy Meade said there is an agenda at work larger than the simple issue of same sex marriage “and it involves our boys and girls. Eventually our schools will have to deal with this also.” He added that the reason for the press conference was to start a conversation so that “folks can be more aware of the issue and the agenda.”
When asked why this topic and no other issues, the ministers all chimed in to say that they each support their membership and the wider community. Father Vyphuis said his church on a monthly basis supports the Meals on Wheels programmes. Pastor Louis-Charles said the practice of most churches it to “address the cares which come to us – be it family issues, school matters – but we do not publicise as this is private between our churches and the people we help.”
The church leaders said they were not asking Montserrat’s government to go contrary to the law as their hands are tied.
“Part of the church’s responsibility is to educate our people. The church must follow the word of God,” added Bishop Meade.