CofE: redefining marriage is ‘worst threat for 500 years’

Jun 12, 2012

The Church of England says Government plans to redefine marriage could spark a constitutional crisis, shattering the 500-year link between church and state.

In a submission to the Government’s consultation, the Church says the Government plans are not thought through or legally sound.

The Government’s consultation paper wrongly implies that there are two categories of marriage, “civil” and “religious” – “this is to mistake the wedding ceremony for the institution of marriage”, the church says.

It adds that changing the State’s understanding of marriage will, therefore, change the way marriage is defined for everybody.

And, despite the government’s assurances to the contrary, it will change the nature of marriages solemnized in churches and other places of worship.

The Church said that redefining marriage: “would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.

“Marriage benefits society in many ways, not only by promoting mutuality and fidelity, but also by acknowledging an underlying biological complementarity which includes, for many, the possibility of procreation.

“The law should not seek to define away the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women.”

It says churches could be hauled off to court and the promised opt-outs to protect religious liberty would be unlikely to survive domestic or European court rulings.

The Church’s submission to the consultation concludes that “imposing for essentially ideological reasons a new meaning on a term as familiar and fundamental as marriage would be deeply unwise”.

Colin Hart, Campaign Director of the Coalition for Marriage said: “The Church of England is right. The Government’s plan will redefine marriage for everyone, damaging the very nature of marriage as a place for nurturing children, and it will plunge churches into legal chaos.

“It shows that the Government’s plans are ill judged and divisive. It’s time to drop this fringe issue and concentrate on things like reviving the economy.”