Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, one of the most senior clerics on the island, really understated the crisis which faces Irish Christianity when he said the gay marriage referendum victory in the Republic was a “reality check”.
While the gay and lesbian community is one of the best organised and most vocal in Ireland, would the Catholic Church faced a similar 64 per cent defeat if the referendum had been about abortion, divorce, assisted suicide, or designer babies?
The referendum result was not so much a victory for the gay community – it was an ‘up your’s’ to the Catholic hierarchy for its alleged cover-ups of sexual and physical abuse by clerics and nuns over the generations.
The gay marriage defeat for Christianity in Southern Ireland represents a treble whammy which the faith has suffered in recent weeks.
Firstly, devout Baptist and DUP MLA Jim Wells was forced to quit as Stormont health minister as a result of remarks he made about homosexuality during the North’s general election campaign.
Then Ashers bakery - owned by devout Christians – lost the gay cake row. Now the Republic has joined the ever-growing league of nations to formally support gay marriage.
Christian Churches will react in a number of ways. Firstly, they could ask the question – what would Jesus do? How would Christ Himself treat the gay and lesbian community?
The ‘reality check’ is for Christians to find a theological answer to the sensitive question – is homosexuality a sin as defined by the Bible, or are people born gay? Whatever the answer, it is bound to split many churches as clerics line up on both sides of the debate.
This will also spark further rows over the issues of gay adoption and gay men donating blood – and the ordination of openly gay clerics.
The LGBT lobby now has its sights set on getting gay marriage legalised in the North. But its campaign could become hijacked by militant atheists hell-bent on being ‘offended’ by anything Christian.
Could churches now be forced to conduct religious weddings for gay and lesbian couples? Will we see the creation of a ‘preaching police’ who tour evangelical and fundamentalist churches seeking out clerics who preach ‘offensive’ sermons?
Unfortunately this will create a situation where genuine clerics who hold devout Biblical beliefs will find themselves in court, being fined, or even jailed.
But there is also the real danger that some on the fundamentalist lunatic fringe of Christendom will deliberately preach provocative sermons to get themselves jailed.
These hell-fire preachers will want to become the modern-day equivalents of the Biblical martyr Stephen.
After all, the political career of former First Minster and DUP founder the late Ian Paisley senior did not take off until he was jailed in Crumlin Road goal.
Stand by too for a range of fundamentalist sermons warning of God’s Judgement on the South for supporting gay marriage.
Ironically, could the referendum victory spark a new wave of homophobic crime as militant fundamentalists target gay bars, clubs and activists?
Already rumours are rife that some even more looney militants have formed the so-called Anti Sodomite Army (ASA) as the LGBT lobby scores victory after victory.
There’s nothing Christian about the ASA – its leaders are the Ku Klux Klan under another name! That’s my opinion of the ones I’ve talked to.