LAST year I wrote in this column about the government’s same-sex marriage proposals. Now, as then, I have Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10:6-9 in mind. In verse 9 Jesus said that it is God who joins a man and a woman together in marriage.
However the government legislative intention shows that it plans to take to itself powers that only God has to define and create a marriage.
In February both of our local MPs, Lorely Burt MP and Caroline Spelman MP voted in favour of the subsequent bill receiving a second reading.
The bill raises serious concerns, especially for Christians. Under the banner of equality, marriage is being diluted to be merely a matter of love between two people. But this sole grounding principle opens up other arrangements, such as polygamy, which may also be claimed to be based on love.
Rather than making society more tolerant, it will become increasingly difficult to express a contrary opinion for fear of losing a job or of legal challenge. Freedom of speech is at stake.
Rather than strengthening marriage as an institution, it will be further weakened. Over the last 150 years, romance has been given increasing cultural priority over the practical function of creating a stable environment into which children are born. As a result, children suffer through increasing divorce rates. More suffering will come through the bill as this prioritization is solidified in law and culture.
So where has the impetus for these serious changes come from? Brendan O’Neil, a national journalist, giving evidence during the committee stage of the Bill, made an astute observation.
He noted that there was no widespread public discontent with the status quo, such as that which gave rise to race riots in earlier decades. Rather, the drive has come from a political elite pushing (to quote him) “an individualized, bourgeois institution of companionship rather than what it was … a social tool for bringing up the next generation”.
In effect, this legislation does not simply regulate an ancient social institution. Rather, the State, at the behest of an elite, is seizing control of marriage, redefining it and recreating it.
To me, that seems like the State trying to be like God.