Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Rev Stephen Parratt (MB 117)

Rev Stephen Parratt, minister of Cleland Baptist Church, previously secondary school teacher of English and RE

 

Summary:

Introduction: I introduce myself and my view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and that the proposals to redefine marriage are a threat to society.

Paragraph 1: deals with my objections as a parent and former teacher, highlighting the fact that no same-sex relationship can create children and thus continue society.

Paragraph 2: deals with the situation which will face teachers who object to teaching ‘same-sex marriage’ the proposed relationship.

Paragraph 3: highlights the danger posed to ministers of religion due to the inability of the proposals to safeguard ministers who object to ‘same-sex marriage’.

Paragraph 4: argues that marriage has not, as the government’s arguments suggest, ‘evolved’ through history. Rather it is legislation which has evolved in order to protect marriage.

Paragraph 5: highlights a fundamental inequality contained in the government’s proposals with regard to adultery as a ground for dissolution of marriage

Paragraph 6: shows that the proposals in fact undermine the stated intention to promote long-term commitment and responsibility.

Paragraph 7: Conclusion - Marriage should be retained as it is!

Introduction: I write to you as the minister of a local church, a former teacher and as a parent of four daughters to express my very grave concern about the legislation currently being discussed to redefine marriage in the statute books of our country. I wholeheartedly support marriage as it has always been understood, not only in this country, but in every country around the world and from the very earliest times – as between one man and one woman. This is universally the definition of marriage, because this is what marriage is. The proposed redefinition of marriage is unwarranted and will prove damaging to society.

1)Misgivings as a parent and former teacher; same-sex relationships cannot preserve society

As a parent, and former teacher of RE and English, I am greatly disturbed at the impact the proposed changes would mean within education. I would certainly not want my daughters to be taught that marriage can be between two people of the same sex. Such a view is fundamentally at odds with the pattern of family life which lies at the heart of society. Two members of the same sex cannot bear children and all the evidence demonstrates unequivocally that the best environment for children to grow, flourish and become mature members of society is within a situation where they have a mother and father. No ‘same-sex’ relationship can provide that, no matter how loving and committed the two partners may be to each other. For, fundamentally, marriage is not simply about a relationship of loving commitment between two people, important though that certainly is. Nor is it primarily about the inclinations and desires of the couple. Marriage lies at the very bedrock of human society, because it is the relationship within which new life can be created and society can continue. Every society throughout history has recognised this and thus protected the one woman, one man marriage relationship in law. No society in history has advanced homosexual relationships as normative and indeed it is unknown in any tribal society. For the very good and simple reason that were same-sex relationships to be normative the tribe and society would not and could not survive! The proposals as made do not provide sure guarantees, as indeed they cannot, that I, as a parent, would not be able to remove my daughters from school lessons in which the validity of ‘same-sex marriage’ was to be taught, without facing penalty.

2)The risk for teachers opposed to ‘same-sex marriage’

Were I still a teacher of RE I would, for reasons of conscience, as well as out of concern for the foundation of our society, be unable to teach that ‘same-sex marriage’ is simply another option, or possible marriage relationship. Yet if the proposed legislation is carried forward I would find myself being required to teach that which the whole of history demonstrates cannot be a foundation of a society, and which moreover stands in the most fundamental opposition to the teaching which I believe to be for the good and best of human society – the teaching of the Bible. Were I to refuse to teach the equal validity of ‘same-sex marriage’ I would face penalisation by the local education authority and quite possibly removal from my teaching post. The situation facing registrars who do not accept ‘same-sex marriage’ is even more precarious.

3)The risk for minsters of religion; the proposals inability to guarantee adequate safeguards for those who oppose ‘same-sex marriage’

As a minister a significant part of my calling is to present and teach the truths of the Bible, which is absolutely clear that marriage is between one man and one woman and that the practice of homosexual activity is wrong. It is quite impossible for me, therefore, as for the vast majority of my colleagues in ministry, to countenance conducting a so-called ‘same-sex marriage’. The term itself reveals how erroneous the idea is. Marriage is marriage! As soon as additional terms are required to ‘explain’ it, marriage itself has been left behind. The legislation being proposed, in spite of government assurances to the contrary, cannot give any cast-iron guarantees, that ministers like myself will not be liable to prosecution for refusing to conduct ‘same-sex marriages’ if asked to do so. Expert legal opinion is clear that the final jurisdiction in such cases would not be the national courts, but the European Courts. [1] However my major concern is not a fear of possible prosecution, but that the very foundations of society are being undermined by the proposals.

4)Marriage has not ‘evolved’. Rather it is the legislation regarding marriage which has evolved.

It is argued that marriage has always evolved and needs to evolve to stay at the centre of society and that ‘same-sex marriage’ is simply one more step of evolution. [2] This is one argument my own MP has used in correspondence with me. This idea is deeply flawed, confusing as it does the institution of marriage, which has always been exactly the same – between a man and a woman – with the role of government and law, which is to provide a framework of regulation which protects marriage as the cornerstone of society. Certainly the legal framework has developed and evolved through history, but marriage itself has not. The role of government in regulating for marriage is vastly different to seeking to redefine it! Marriage predates both the state and the law. [3]

5)The inequality contained within the Government’s proposals

Crucially, the Government’s proposals themselves are flawed. The term which is being emphasised by proponents of the bill is ‘equal marriage’, giving the impression that this is all about equality. In reality what the proposals lay out is a quite unfair playing field. If the bill proceeds adultery will, as is currently the case, be grounds for the dissolution of a marriage between a man and a woman, but not in the case of two persons of the same sex! This creates a two-tier system of ‘marriage’ in which the legal obligations placed on a heterosexual couple are greater than those placed on a homosexual couple. Whatever else that is it is manifestly not equality, so the proposals are not, as is suggested, introducing ‘equal marriage’.

6)The proposals undermine rather than upholding long-term commitment and responsibility.

Furthermore, this two-tier approach arising from the unequal application of adultery is, as legal opinion has stated, [4] (CARE doc) very likely to lead to the removal of adultery altogether as a cause for the dissolution of a marriage. Whilst this would certainly bring about more equality between different types of marriage it would at the same time completely undermine the government’s started intention to promote and encourage "principles of long-term commitment and responsibility". [5] (Myth busters) Because marriage is so important, and so fundamental to the well-being of any society, the commitment and fidelity it calls for needs to be strengthened, not undermined. That is why adultery is so serious and needs to be maintained as fence around marriage.

7)Conclusion

Marriage , as it has always been understood and recognised - between a woman and a man, has served every society throughout history more than well. Without it no society would have survived. It is striking that, as the eminent historian Toynbee has observed on many occasions, one of the characteristics of every civilisation in the last stages of its decline is a rise in rampant homosexual practice! Seeking to legislate for the acceptance and approval of such practice in Britain, by introducing ‘same-sex marriage’ looks like an attempt to precipitate this nation’s decline as a civilised society. I sincerely doubt that any MP wishes to be a part of that! For this, and all the above reasons, I urge the committee to abandon the proposals being made and to retain marriage as it always has been and should be.

March 2013

Notes:

[1]See http://www.care.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CARE-The-REAL-Mythbusters-Feb-2013.pdf paragraph 7

[2]See http://www.care.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CARE-The-REAL-Mythbusters-Feb-2013.pdf paragraph 4

[3]This fact is clearly stated in the 1866 court case Hyde v Hyde and Woodmansee LR 1 P&D 130

[4]See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2268689/Concept-adultery-abolished-law-grounds-divorce-wake-Government-s-plans-gay-marriage.html as cited in http://www.care.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CARE-The-REAL-Mythbusters-Feb-2013.pdf paragraph 3

[5]See http://www.care.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/CARE-The-REAL-Mythbusters-Feb-2013.pdf paragraph 2

Prepared 13th March 2013