Sunday, June 18, 2006

Scrap marriage, says Christian group

An interesting thought for Father's Day, from The Telegraph (UK) for 6/17.

Marriage should be abolished and replaced by a variety of civil partnerships, a progressive religious think-tank has suggested.

Christian group Ekklesia said the abolition of legal marriage would allow couples to specify the type of legal commitment they wished to make to one another.

Ekklesia describes itself as "a think-tank and news service that promotes radical theological ideas in public life" In this particular case, it might better be described as promoting radical public ideas in theological life.

Under their proposals, couples would still be allowed to marry if they wished but the legal aspect would be removed from the ceremony and they would then have to register their partnership under law in a separate process.

The group believes the current situation is confused by attempts to fuse Christian and civil concepts of marriage into a "one-size-fits-all" arrangement.

Under existing law, if a couple marries in a Church of England ceremony they are simultaneously legally and religiously married because of its status as the Established Church.

But if a couple marries in another denomination or faith a separate act of state is required to legally register the union.

Ekklesia believes its proposals would remove the anomalous status of the Church of England.

It would also create greater clarity in the situation created by civil partnerships, which grant gay and lesbian couples similar rights to those who get married, but not comparable status.

Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, said the plans were a response to the failure of marriage.

He said: "Legal marriage clearly isn't working. A divorce rate of around 40 per cent is surely evidence enough of this.

"At the moment there is only one form of marriage defined under law, which everyone has to take or leave.

"It does not reflect Christian ideas of marriage, which are based on a covenant before God, rather than a legal contract and agreement between individuals. And it does not properly acknowledge the reality of the existence of other, secular viewpoints, either.

"Religious communities are entitled to have their own ideal of marriage which they offer to the wider society. But requiring others to accept this definition by law benefits no one. It is confusing and counter-productive."

The proposals are likely to be met with opposition from faith groups which resist full recognition of gay partnerships.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has argued that proposals to grant legal rights to cohabiting couples also risks further undermining marriage.

Mr Bartley added: "If the church wants to argue that Christian marriage, rooted in the grace of God, is preferable to civil cohabitation, it is free to do so.

"But there must surely be something wrong when the Church's defence of holy matrimony involves perpetuating what many will see as an unholy injustice against established live-in couples."

Could it possibly be that Christian marriage as a fundamental building block of Western civilization? The willingness of the European (and North American, I'm afraid) nations to commit cultural suicide is quite beyond my understanding. These people seem to believe they are ushering in the Brave New World. What they are actually ushering in is their own deposit onto the rubbish heap of history, and their replacement by more vigorous - if less pleasant - cultures.