Friday, 16 March 2012

The Marriage Debate

How nice - an email from a government department, inviting me to make my views known on the issue of 'Marriage between same-sex persons'. Such persons can already, in the UK, enter into Civil Partnerships with the same legal consequences as a regular Marriage. But for some it doesn't feel the same; it lacks the social status of a 'real' marriage.

I have actually been married. It was a Register Office wedding. It was in 1983 at Morden Cottage near Wimbledon in London, an old white-painted clapperboard mill house by a stream, set in parkland. It wasn't a church ceremony, but I felt properly 'married', and could proudly say so afterwards. And the world fully acknowledged my new status. An awful lot flowed from 'being married', other people's attitude and goodwill not least of them. Marriage was an institution with a day-to-day reality to it, and far, far more than 'just a certificate'.

This is essentially what marrying couples want. So should all couples have it, regardless of who they are? Regardless of the gender mix, for instance?

Well, my personal position is yes. If they are sincere, well-suited, and have each other's welfare and happiness uppermost in their minds, then they should be able to enjoy the very real feeling of 'being married'.

I don't care two hoots about 'departing from centuries of tradition' - tradition tends to obstruct badly-needed reforms, and often perpetuates outmoded and unjust rules and restrictions. Think of the various bans women contend with around the world, for example. So tradition, however picturesque, is a Bad Thing.

Nor do I feel that it matters if the marrying couple can't 'make a baby' together. Sterility or old age shouldn't debar people from marrying. And it shouldn't stop people who have no intention of having children, who may even want to maintain celebacy for spiritual reasons perhaps. Nor should it stop same-sex couples. There is an argument that in an overpopulated world, couples who must remain naturally childless should be approved of, and honoured, and certainly permitted the status and consolation of Marriage.

Some of the objections must be rooted in a distaste for the sex imaginable between two men or two women. That's sheer prudery, and not a valid reason to deny Marriage to them.

I am not religious, so no appeal to holy texts or teachings to limit Marriage to a man and a woman carries weight with me. But neither am I a dogmatic atheist. I would therefore in all seriousness ask, 'well, what does God himself say in 2012 about this question of same-sex marriage?'. And of course, nobody can tell me. To fill that silence, I would speculate that God - as a universal entity - must be without a particular physical form and must certainly be genderless; and that God wouldn't mind what kind of persons come together to share their lives in a mutually caring commitment, so long as something good results from it.

5 comments:

  1. l'd like to know, with all due respect Lucy, how you can talk about God considering you don't believe in Him. Personally, I take the complete opposite stance to what you have written but that is because I believe in God and His creation. God doesn't change His mind with the passing of time so His law is the same as it has always been, 2012 or not.

    Shirley Anne xxx

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  2. I adhere to no faith, and I therefore do feel perfectly free to imagine what God may be like. I think you'll agree that I proposed a reasonable being who supported good outcomes.

    Your points are presumably that God's existence and nature are totally knowable through scripture; that independent speculations are unnecessary; and that it's wrong to make them. Further: that scripture assures you of what God's unchanging view of marriage is. If you are absolutely right to believe this, then the matter is settled and there is really nothing to discuss.

    Lucy

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  3. Scripture is a manual for living and it reveals the true nature of God. We all form ideas of what God may be like but what do we mean by 'like'? We are searching for attributes and to make up our own ideas would be an affront to Him. It is making God in our image and we are all different. The God I worship is the one who reveals Himself not only in my heart but also in and through Scripture. If we read the Bible and begin to understand it, and it takes a lifetime to fully understand it, we begin to see the true God. I've read the Book about 28 times through and am constantly reading odd passages and still I'm learning! The Holy Spirit is the teacher and Scripture interprets itself through Him. Without God's spirit within you it just becomes another book. I am not absolutely right about all things but I am sure that what I am saying is the truth.

    Shirley Anne xxx

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  4. Mmmm Yes Shirley is right, but that does not actually illuminate this question, the Bible tells us that God has Gender, what is confusing is that God has both Genders, we told right from the beginning (Genesis one) we are made in God's image male and female.

    The attitude to marriage is not so simple, for example the Church has always taught monogamy, yet I can find nothing in the Bible to support this other than for Church elders, yet we rarely question this. Mu gut instinct is that marriage is more than a contract (like a civil partnership) so we need to think long and hard before making any changes ~ also that any changes should not be imposed on others, i.e. any Church not agreeing with same sex marriage should not be obliged to conduct them.

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  5. If I may answer this with Lucy's permission. Thank you Paula for your comment. I think you'll find the bible doesn't say that God has gender it just refers to God as 'He' or 'Him' only because language doesn't have a pronoun suitable to use. We are made in Gods image spiritually. As for polygamy and the habit of having concubines, God allowed this because of the people's disobedience but woman was made from man and as the Bible tells us, a man shall leave his parents and shall cleave to his wife (singular), not to his manfriend. I agree that no church group should be forced into performing a marriage ceremony if they are not in agreement with same sex marriage. I think you will also find that there are no intentions to force that issue.

    Shirley Anne xxx

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Lucy Melford