As the House of Lords debates same-sex marriage...
Their Lordships might like to consider that 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’.
The Government believes that its fundamental job is to reflect society and accordingly shape the future; David Cameron believes that his fundamental job is to modernise and re-brand the Conservative Party. And so 'marriage' is subject to the democratic will of Parliament. This is the mechanism by which an 'unnatural' redfinition of marriage is to be imposed upon the majority.
And yes, His Grace used the word 'unnatural', for in its very etymological origins 'marriage' is concerned with gender complementarity. As one of His Grace's communicants observed in another thread:
"It’s worth noting that the Greek word root for marriage, gamos, derived from the ancient Indo-European root meaning the same thing, is the same root as the word gamete. This is our term for the male and female germ cells, egg and sperm, ‘halves’ which come from biological parents to form a whole fertilised cell, and thence a child. Every human has a replica set of both these ‘halves’ in every cell of their bodies, derived from their mother and father. If you like biological terms, a gamete is haploid, meaning it has one set of chromosomes, half of its parent’s genetic material. A fertilised cell, and every other (non-gamete) cell in our bodies is diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes, one derived from the (female) mother gamete (ovum), one from the (male) father gamete (spermatozoon). There’s nothing discriminatory about this, it’s just the way biology works, but it does depend on difference and complementarity. Marriage has thus at root always referred to this coming together of different and complimentary genders with the hope of producing a biological union of the two and therefore offspring to continue the species. Bishops should know this, as should here today gone tomorrow politicians."
If marriage is no longer to be about equal 'halves', why not permit polyamory? Why may a Muslim man not marry four or five wives? Surely, if Parliament is to reflect society, the institution of marriage must reflect the sincerely-held beliefs of all groups? Why should a sexual minority be satisfied while a religious minority is scorned?
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 Parliament, which is omnipotent? And if marriage may be polyamorous, why not incestuous? If Parliament determines that the gamete is no longer the foundation of definition and children no longer the natural issue, there is no logical end to the varieties and expressions of the institution. If, a decade hence, Parliament wants marriage to embrace consensual polyamory, incest and co-homeowners, there is nothing to stop it.
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 or the 'quadruple lock' enshrined in this legislation.
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 bureaucracy 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 'dinosaurs', 'backwoodsmen', 'Turnip Taliban' or 'swivel-eyed loons'? And let us not pretend that the alliance against same-sex marriage stops (or starts) with the Church: David Cameron has united churches, synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques in a faith alliance against the Government. The religious conscience will not be cowed or bullied into submission in the name of 'equality', 'fairness' or 'tolerance'.