Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Affinity (MB 105)

What is Affinity?

Affinity is a partnership of 1200 Christian churches from all parts of the United Kingdom. Affinity also embraces more than 30 Christians agencies including theological colleges, publishers and missionary and relief agencies. Our churches stand in the historic evangelical tradition which has played a significant role in the history of the United Kingdom since the time of the 16th century Reformation. The authority for our beliefs and practices is the Bible. Our website, www.affinity.org.uk gives more information about us.

We believe that the present Bill, if passed, will negatively impact our society in general and family life in particular. We believe we have a responsibility to urge you not to approve this legislation because it will be detrimental to the people of our nation and especially to our children and to future generations.

This submission addresses the following areas of concern:

1. Marriage is the essential foundation for human life and a stable society

2. The detrimental effects on children

3. The marginalisation of Christians

4. The wisdom and importance of carefully assessing the potential for unintended consequences

1 Marriage is the essential foundation for human life and a stable society

We believe that the unique nature of marriage should be maintained because it is the foundation for human life and stable societies around the world. We believe it is possible to provide legal provision and safeguards for other kinds of relationships without changing the definition of marriage.

The Bible bears witness to the following facts about marriage:

1.1 Marriage has existed from the beginning of time. Human history also bears witness to this fact both for nations which stand in the Judaeo-Christian tradition and in other cultures as well. The Church of England Wedding Service says that God gave marriage as a gift to all people from the time of creation.

1.2 Marriage is a heterosexual union between a man and a woman in which the created gender differences are expressed in the physical, sexual union.

 

1.3 Marriage involves a lifelong commitment which expresses the essential equality and value of maleness and femaleness through the physical, sexual union. In this way the natural affection and desire between a man and a woman can be expressed so that they live in purity and honour.

1.4 Marriage provides the natural context for children to be born and nurtured by a father and mother. This social unit created by such a family is the foundational building block of a stable society.

1.5 The complementary roles of fathers and mothers within marriage provide a model for children which prepares them for the time when they may enter into a marriage relationship.

1.6 The complementary roles of husband and wife are seen in the Bible as a particular expression of the image of God in humanity. Marriage is also portrayed in the Bible as a picture of the relationship of Christ and his Church. Any change to the definition of marriage involves a significant rejection of the character and being of God and the nature of the Church.

2 The detrimental effects on children

2.1 According to official statistics, twenty years ago depression in children was almost unknown. Now the fastest rate of increase in depression in the UK is among young people. [1] These alarming statistics are a reminder that we have a duty of care to our children and young people when their world is increasingly complex and insecure.

2.2 It is a constant finding among sociological surveys that, by a large margin, children are safer, happier, healthier and get on better in life when they are brought up in the home of their married, different-sex parents [2] . Putting the institution of marriage at risk therefore puts the wellbeing of children at greater risk, which is a strong reason for not going ahead with the Bill.

2.3 The changes brought about by this Bill will greatly increase the confusion of children regarding sexuality, needlessly causing them to be self-questioning and even adversely experimental. This is a cruel imposition, and destructive of personal and social happiness and wellbeing.

3 The marginalisation of Christians

3.1 This Bill recognises as marriage, relationships which the Bible clearly declares to be sinful and wrong. It changes marriage for everyone, leaving those who believe same-sex relationships to be sinful with no public marriage status to which they can belong with true joy and wholehearted gladness. Given that same sex partners represent so small a minority of all couples, the number of people who will feel a significant loss of meaning in their own marriages will greatly eclipse the number of same sex couples actually marrying. This shows not only a lack of proportion, but makes it all the more surprising that, for so little gain, the country should be willing to sacrifice the value which marriage (as currently defined) has proved to be to the strength of our country's social and family structure and order for many centuries.

3.2 The overwhelming majority of the millions of Christians who live in the United Kingdom are law-abiding and peaceable people. Indeed the influence of Christianity has been mainly responsible for the tolerance which has come to characterise British society. People from many nations who have come to live in the United Kingdom bear testimony to this. The new "tolerance" can be profoundly intolerant of those who take a different view.

3.3 In seeking to establish the legitimate rights of the various minority groups within our society we must not "demonise" Christians who are involved personally, and through their churches, in a multitude of activities which benefit all sections of our society. Every day Christians and churches play a leading role in providing services to all sections of our society including mothers and children, families, the elderly, the homeless and poor.

4 The wisdom and importance of carefully assessing the potential for unintended consequences

4.1 Other countries have already legislated to redefine marriage. We feel it would be wise for the United Kingdom not to act hastily in doing the same, especially since this Bill was not part of the manifesto of any of the political parties.

4.2 There are indications of unintended consequences in social changes and financial consequences which need to be carefully assessed before passing new similar.

4.3 Indeed, because of the fundamental importance of marriage in any society it would be reasonable to expect that redefining marriage will have far-reaching consequences, some of which may be unintended and seriously prejudicial to the wellbeing of the people of the United Kingdom.

March 2013

 


[1] http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/dlp/depression-information/teen-depression/

[2] e.g. http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comms114.pdf

Prepared 8th March 2013