Marriage goes the way of 'gay' and 'pride'
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone has proclaimed that the Church does not 'own' marriage. And she castigates the Bride of Christ for 'polarising' the debate into one of gay rights versus religious liberty. "This is about the underlying principles of family, society and personal freedoms,” she declares: it is up to 'the people' how they define the term. And she insists the Government has a right to change the definition of marriage and so confront those who 'want to leave tradition alone'.
But the state does not 'own' marriage, either, Ms Featherstone. It is a union observed in all cultures and, according to Aristotle, exists by nature. The state cannot change nature: it can legislate to call the rain 'sunshine', but the rain is still the rain; it's neither good nor bad; it's just the rain. And it will still make you wet, whatever you call it.
Marriage is essential for the functioning of society: in Scripture, it is the model used to explain the mystery of Christ’s relationship to the church (Eph 5:25-32). The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the Old Testament, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage.
There are three principal purposes for marriage arising out of v24: (i) the procreation of children; (ii) companionship, and (iii) sexual union. Marriage is a covenant before YHWH, which Jesus confirms with the phrase ‘God has joined together’ (Mt 19:26); when a person ‘leaves’ and ‘cleaves’. It is the erosion of this foundation which has contributed to ‘Breakdown Britain’.
The thing is...
If, as Ms Featherstone says, 'it is the Government’s fundamental job to reflect society and to shape the future', why stop at a redefinition of marriage which includes homosexuals? If marriage is 'owned by the people', surely any redefinition must be subject to the democratic will, yet the British people have not been asked about this: proposals for 'gay marriage' were not included in any party's manifesto at the last general election, and there has been no referendum. So is Ms Featherstone saying that a minority group somehow has the right to impose its 'unnatural' redfinition on the majority? If so, why not permit Muslim men to marry four or five wives? If the state has the authority to eradicate the heterosexual imperative, who says 'equality' must be the new immutable foundation? Surely it is up to 'the people'? And if marriage may be polygamous, why not incestuous? If 'the people' wish to privatise the institution, there is no logical end to the varieties and expressions of 'family, society and personal freedoms' which will result. If, a decade hence, they want marriage to embrace consensual polygamy, incest and co-homeowners, who is Lynne Featherstone to stop them?
As the Roman Catholic adoption agencies discovered, and as those who administer school curricula are finding, the inexorable quest for equality does not deviate for any exemption: for equality to triumph, it must eradicate the religious space. There will be no equality until two men can marry in their local parish church, regardless of the theo-political misgivings of the vicar.
But 'language evolves', you say: marriage is being redefined to reflect the new societal norm. There was a time when 'gay' meant 'happy', Abba was cool, Kylie was a c-list soap star and rainbows were a symbol of God's covenant with every living thing (Gen 9:13). Over the decades, homosexuals have appropriated 'gay' and 'pride' and the world has not ended. But these meanings have evolved incrementally, even naturally (and are still doing so, for 'gay' in teen vernacular has come to mean 'crap'). But this was not the state decreeing change. The Government is proposing to redefine marriage forever, and it will use the full force of its bureacracy to inculcate the new reality: no longer will paperwork talk of husbands and wives, but of partners. No longer will we be male and female, but simply androgynous individuals. And if you resile from the new order, you exclude yourself from public office and from employment by the state. If you dare to speak out against it, you are criminalised. This is not organic change: it is societal revolution.
If 'gay marriage' is the conservative thing to do because, as the Prime Minister avers, it strengthens society, then why are 57% of Christians pepared to abandon the Conservative Party over the issue? Are they all wrong? Are they all homophobic 'backwoodsmen' and reactionary 'Turnip Taliban'? And let us not pretend the alliance against 'gay marriage' stops (or starts) at the Church: Lynn Featherstone is uniting the churches, synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques in a faith alliance against the Government. The religious conscience will not be cowed and bullied into submission in the name of 'equality', 'fairness' or 'tolerance'.
Coalition For Marriage is uniting people of all faiths and none against 'gay marriage'. So far, it has collected 39,000 signatures (how many have put their names to a petition in support of 'gay marriage'?). If the will of the people is sovereign, surely Ms Featherstone must heed it. If it be for 'the people' to decide the definition of marriage, and the majority opt for one based on the complementary natures of men and women, who is she to say otherwise?