‘Living in sin’ is the new marriage
The Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, said: ‘It is perfectly justified in terms of public policy for marriage to continue to confer particular benefits and privileges not available to those who choose not to commit to an enduring legal relationship, so long as adequate steps are taken to prevent manifest injustice. The test we would commend in assessing possible solutions is whether they will genuinely correct injustices without at the same time downgrading or creating disincentives to marriage.’
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, observes that marriage has ‘suffered a long process of erosion’, but is at a loss to know how to strengthen the institution. The concept of cohabitation is an utterly vague one that covers a huge variety of arrangements, and the Church of England is intent on giving formal recognition to all of them. At this rate, there is likely to be a liturgical blessing for heterosexual cohabiting couples and homosexual cohabiting couples. But why stop there? If one defines marriage as a partnership with whatever takes one’s fancy, why not a liturgy for marrying the dog?