The British House of Commons is scheduled to give the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill its third reading on May 20 and 21. The bill, which would legalize marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales, was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Commons in February on a Second Reading vote of 400 to 175 The bill has also cleared the subsequent Report stage, where a committee of 19 MPs scrutinized the bill line by line, with a 15 to 4 vote.

Hardline anti-gay and anti-choice Christian groups Christian Concern and One of Us have reportedly organized a public prayer vigil to coincide with the Third Reading.  Interestingly, the very nature of the vigil is disobedient to the guidelines Jesus is said to have set for prayer.  Here is the event flier:

Urgent National Prayer Gathering Outside Parliament

A call to pray together as Parliament debates changing the law of the land and discarding God’s pattern for marriage.

3rd Reading in the House of Commons of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

Monday 20th May
12:00 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 19:00

Tuesday 21st May
12:00 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 19:00

Old Place Yard
(Opposite Houses of Parliament)
Nearest underground stations: Westminster, St James Park, Victoria

For further details, please contact:
National Marriage Prayer Gathering
020 3327 1120 / 07944 221 112

In the Book of Matthew, chapter 6, Jesus said:

5 And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

By holding the prayer vigil in a public place, the organizers and participants are directly contravening Jesus’s admonition to pray in a private place.  Further, by scheduling the prayer vigil to last for 8 hours and span two days, the organizers and participants seem prone to disobeying Jesus’s direction to keep prayers succinct:

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

By all appearances, this public prayer vigil is just another attempt by bill opponents to wrap anti-gay animus in a cloak religious respectability.  When event organizers so blatantly disregard the teachings of Jesus, the cloak vanishes.