On January 16 the Thailand Protestant Churches Coordinating Committee (TPCCC) issued a letter requesting every Christian church and institution in Thailand to send a letter to the committee by January 31 in which they state their opposition (or support) for the Civil Partnership provision of the proposed new constitution for Thailand. The committee will collect these letters and duplicate them to be presented to the office of the Prime Minister “and others”. The letter listed as co-signers in behalf of the TPCCC: The Church of Christ in Thailand, The Christian Fellowship of Thailand, The Baptist Foundation of Thailand, and the Foundation of the Seventh Day Adventist Mission in Thailand. It was addressed to all congregations, organizations and members of those church groups as well as those under the Roman Catholic Bishop’s Council of Thailand.
For those unfamiliar with the issue and the groups being referred to I add the following notes:
With all due respect, I suggest that the Thailand Protestant Churches Coordinating Committee reconsider their request that churches send letters of protest (or support) with regard to the Civil Partnership provision of the proposed draft constitution. The following are my reasons for suggesting the proposal is flawed:
1. Churches in Thailand have not had an opportunity to study civil partnerships from a Christian perspective because no thorough material has ever been published in Thai and no occasions have been provided for informed dialogue on this topic. It is unfair to ask churches to reply to any matter they have not studied.
2. This is a matter which many sectors of world Christianity have spent decades studying, even if churches in Thailand have not. It is clear that it cannot be responded to without extensive study. That study has led to heated debate, but a majority of churches who helped establish the Church of Christ in Thailand have concluded that civil partnerships and marriage are right and moral. There is now a large group of Christian denominations in favor of this form of marriage and family.
3. It is not easy to see any way in which the enactment of civil partnerships would have a legal impact on Christian churches in Thailand. Therefore, it must be that the churches on the TPCCC believe the issue is moral and that Christian churches should exercise a moral influence. However, the committee’s letter requests those who are highly motivated to express an opinion, not about a point of moral importance, but about a legal issue about which everyone already had a chance to express themselves when public hearings were going on.
For these reasons, I respectfully suggest that the TPCCC refrain from creating a compilation of letters to be sent to the government. If it is time for the churches to take a stand about marriage equality and family life, then it is time to establish the opportunities and materials needed to study and debate this as other churches have done. If it is too soon for churches in Thailand to do that, then it is too soon for the churches to let a few voices speak for the whole church to the government.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.