Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Same Gender Marriage

In the UK, for some time there have been undercurrents of disagreement as various groups share their expectations for the future of Marriage. I have followed various sides of the argument and have on a couple of occasions considered writing a blog about my thoughts. I don't hide the fact that I am a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) As you may expect my thoughts are influenced by my beliefs. As I write this I am aware some will read and disagree. I don't have a problem with people disagreeing. A fundamental tenant of Mormonism is found in what we call the 13 Articles of Faith 

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

So you may agree with all, some or non of the following... let us not fall out about it.

The Governments thoughts are to change the current law to allow couples of the same gender to marry. This it is argued, would bring equality and improve the present situation, which allows for Civil Partnerships. Many of the arguments raised against such changes are described as outdated at best, bigoted at worst.

Yesterday the Church of England stirred up the debate considerably. They argue that because they are THE church of the state, with the Monarch at the head they have a different role in Marriage. It is accepted that as the states church their "Cannons" or church laws are accepted as state law. They therefore argue that changing a civil law to openly oppose a church cannon, completely changes the dynamics of the relationship between the church and state. Unlike other countries this also calls into question the role of the Queen. As the head of state she as mentioned is also the head of the Church of England. Known as the Defender of the Faith (Fidei defensor in latin) which is why all UK coins have the inscription FD or FD DEF.

Potentially changing the law on marriage could in affect make much deeper changes to the nature of the country, which gives me potentially the only ever chance to use the word Antidisestablishmentarianism in a blog post, meaning to oppose the breakup of the relationship between the Church of England and the State. Disestablishment may be difficult to do if you read the promise made by a Monach at a coronation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury: "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolable the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?" 

The Queen: "All this I promise to do. The things which I have here before promised, I will perform, and keep. So help me God." (coronation)

So I think it's fair to say parliament has created a pretty large challenge for themselves to make what may be considered by many a simple change. There are however further changes that would need to be made in order for Same Gender marriage to work.

Although considered by many to be an old tradition or forgotten part of the law, for marriage to be legally recognised it must be consummated. This is still a part of British law and is still in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Section 12
Failure to consummate a marriage is grounds for an annulment. With the legal definition being that "Consummation requires sexual intercourse which is ordinary and complete" Law Teacher Again this is seen as a simple fix, change the wording... To what? This also causes problems for the Catholic church who currently do not allow Divorce but will allow a separation based on an annulment.

Now there are those that say church and state are too close anyway. There are also comments that the church is really not affected as the proposed legislation "ring fences" churches so no church would be made to perform a Same Gender Marriage. This sounds good in principal, but it has already been suggested that such a ring fence will not stand up to European human rights / equality laws. In much the same way we never expected human rights laws to be used to prevent a Christian wearing a cross to work.

So I have above I have outlined some of the things I have read around as I have listened to many sides of the argument, but where do I stand?

Currently I have no problems with people choosing to have a Same Gender Civil Partnership.
I think there is far more involved in the word marriage than is made out by those that want it for all.
I believe that marriage is inseparably linked to religion for many people.
I don't consider myself to be homophobic, I accept people for what they are, regardless of race, religion or orientation.
I believe that "The family  is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan" Family Proclamation

I recognise that in a big world, we have to find ways to coexist and live together with differing beliefs, but also feel that I want to express my thoughts as openly as those who would have us make changes. Because the changes suggested affect more than those who would benefit.

What do you think ?

Further reading Telegraph Article



Cathy said...

A very thoughtful and insightful post.
I've wondered if the answer might be civil partnerships for all and those who want a religious ceremony can have one. But I don't think compromise will work.
We don't have to worry about that defender of the faith bit over here, but I can easily see the day when if gay marriage becomes the law of this land lawsuits will pop up against the churches for refusing to marry gay couples. Religious liberty will be destroyed no matter what the activitists say now.
AND, I never thought I'd ever see antidisestablishmentarianism used in context ... I'm impressed!

Sistas in Zion said...

We've never thought about what our Brotha's and Sista's in other countries might be experiencing in regards to marriage equality. We both have varied feelings about marriage an who should be allowed to "Jump THE Broom", and those feelings have over the years matured and changed.

With regards to the 11th Article of Faith; "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." How do you see this article?

We've had to ask ourselves not only in regards to this but to several issues that we find difficult to wrap our brains around, what is our fear? And how does our role to fulfill the commandment to "LOVE" play into this?

Brotha John, this is truly one of the most thought provoking and non judgmental post we've seen on the issue thanks for sharing!

Your Sistas in the gospel

Sistas In Zion

Middle-aged Mormon Man said...

John: Thanks so much for tweeting me about this post. It is one of the most interesting things I've read on the subject. It never even occurred to me that the political/religious melding there in England could be completely undone by the prospect of gay marriage.


John Teal said...

Thank you each for your comments, I am glad you found it thought provoking and especially the comments about being non judgemental. My intention was to discuss not preach.

Cathy, I don't think there is enough understanding in the world to reach a compromise.

Sista's the article of faith, regarding allowing others there rights is often overlooked by those of our faith. The lifestyle we live is only a requirement of us because we have made covenants.
I would like all to share what I think are the benefits of my faith, but until they make a decision and commitment they are not under any obligation to adhere to its tenants. One of my favourite quotes which I believe is attributed to Voltaire "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

MMM constitutions being undone, perhaps hanging by a thread ? Sounds a bit familiar?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well done, John! That's my favorite long word. And I didn't realize the UK's laws were so involved. It is far more than just 'making it legal.'

Susan Kane said...

Such a mess these days! "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." To stand up for the Bible and God's design for our lives requires real dedication. Those pushing for same sex marriage are beating down we who are against it.

Civil unions are legal. Why push for the term "marriage" which was ordained and established by God in the first place?

Rum-Punch Drunk said...

Well, at the end of the day, we all our responsible for the things we say and do. If you believe in God, (so many religions) then you more than likely have rules/regulations/commandments on sexual preference to follow, and you will be able to justify whether it is a sin or not for gay people to be married.
The Bible is one hell of an act to follow if you do it properly and I admire anyone who tries to live a godly and holy life.

We all have views on everything, and I admire your stance here, as many people are too scared to voice an opinion in case of retaliation. Society will do as society wants and sometimes when we are not in the position of others, it is very easy to comment against it. Blog away John, I will continue to drop by with my comments. I'm not of those who are scared off so easily. Very well balanced post.

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