19 September 2011
The government should celebrate and protect marriage, not re-define it.
The Evangelical Alliance is deeply concerned by news that the government is considering introducing laws to redefine marriage.
We support addressing injustices suffered by people who choose gay lifestyles, and would welcome many measures to secure reasonable and fair access to public goods and services. However, despite numerous assurances in 2005 (and many since) that civil partnerships would suffice in meeting demands for equality, it now seems that liberalism knows no limits. These proposals to apply free-market principles to the vitally important civic institution of marriage exceed all known historic, cultural, spiritual and biological norms.
Marriage is not a commodity that can be re-packaged for a new market.
Marriage has always been, and in reality will always be, solely between a man and a woman, principally though not exclusively for the birth and nurture of children and for conferring generational identity. At a time of such social and economic hardship, this attempted revision promises to expose much of the government’s proposals for renewing civic life through supporting marriage and the family as hollow. The state has a responsibility to protect our institutions. That entails acknowledging that normative relations exist – and then supporting them. Suggesting that marriage can be ‘broadened’ to include same-sex relationships opens up the prospect of marriage becoming anything that any group with an agenda demands it to be.
The proposals will certainly be strongly opposed by many, including Christians, atheists and those of other religions, and also by many gay people themselves. Indeed, if successful, the many people who cannot and will not accept the validity of these so-called ‘marriages’ could be put in a very difficult position. The government’s plans conflate difference with equality and would fragment and devalue marriage as an authentic relational covenant and a social ideal that people aspire to.
There is such a thing as society – and marriage is a unique and central part of it. As such, in order to ensure that future generations can enjoy the value, status and benefits that it affords, it is worth celebrating and defending by all means possible.