Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


So there was a debate last night in the House of Commons on this issue. What do I think, me being a Christian? I assume that the ceremony of marriage has a sociological purpose, that purpose being to increase the chance of children being brought up in a stable background. When a man and a woman intended to live together permanently and remain sexually faithful to each other, they reinforced their resolve by making a formal promise to each other in front of witnesses and a legal authority. This ceremony made it more likely that they would stay together and that any children would have a Mum and a Dad.

I see nothing wrong in same-sex couples making solemn promises to each other and enjoying any benefits that go with legal recognition of their new state. Is this marriage? Since they can’t produce children themselves, one reason for getting married no longer exists. It can’t be marriage in the old sense and labelling it as such is untrue, and involves a re-definition of the word. But people can adopt children, and if a same-sex couple can complete the bringing-up process well, then they have fulfilled one purpose of marriage and done something good that might not otherwise have been done.

So maybe it comes down to whether bringing up children demands both male and female influences. I believe that it does, and that a same-sex couple is handicapped in this respect. But it has to be compared with other arrangements that are common today – like single-parent homes and revolving-door homes in which one partner or the other is perpetually swapping old for new. Those are surely less promising than a same-sex couple who have made a serious commitment to each other and adopt children by choice. That commitment suggests that they know something of the meaning of love, and love is what matters most to children,

You can’t prevent these states existing, so it may be better to enlarge the pool of  ‘good child-raisers’  by recognising the potential contribution that some same-sex couples could make. Encouraging them to make the strongest possible commitment would make sense. But I would be happier if a word other than ‘marriage’ were found.

The word is confusing, because two forms already exist. The state has long had it’s own form of marriage, conducted in a Registry Office, and the law also regulates church marriages. A change in the law would widen the definition of marriage but do nothing to invalidate the conventional form, It would enable but not compel. If the change happens, then the only thing missing for a same-sex couple is a relgious ceremony that the church might refuse to carry out. A same-sex couple with no religious faith would not want a religious ceremony anyway. That leaves a same-sex couple who were committed Christians. Such people would be looking for a like-minded clergyman. I am in favour of the change, despite the conflct with my long-held beliefs and attitudes. I think we have to consider the needs of our present-day society.

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