Coffee House

Can Christians still have Holy Matrimony?

5 February 2013

10:52 PM

5 February 2013

10:52 PM

That’s that then. Marriage will change, one way or another. Progress has won. Cue lots of right-on politicians talking about how proud they are to have ushered in such a historic reform. But what about the losing side? What should those Christians who believe that marriage must by definition be a union of man and woman do now? Accept and move on, I suppose. The best response is surely not to bleat on about a sinister ‘Orwellian’ state. But there’s another way. Since the politicians have changed the meaning of a word for political gain, perhaps Christian leaders should play the same game. They could move the definitional posts again, ditch the word marriage and talk only about ‘Holy Matrimony’ instead? Sounds ludicrously old-fashioned, I know. But read me out.

Matthew Parris argued very effectively in this magazine that the state should follow the South African example, ‘withdraw from the dictionary business’ and give exactly the same civic recognition to same-sex and hetero couples. The Catholic writer George Weigel, meanwhile, has urged the Church to remove itself from the secular marriage business altogether. But neither of those scenarios looks likely, especially since we have the Church of England. And now that our government has insisted on re-interpreting the M-word, maybe it’s time Christians did something equally radical, only this time by regressing to an older word. It’s not as if traditional marriage is thriving under its current definition. By emphasising the sacred and formal nature of Christian marriage, the words Holy Matrimony – even if they sound fogeyish now – might help steer the conventionally minded towards taking it more seriously.

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Show comments
  • Tony Conrad

    My respect for politicians is at an all time low. To think I actually voted for Maria Miller.

    Yes we must move on. The vulnerable area is our children. What will they be forced to inbibe? Thank God my children know what a proper marriage is regardless of what Cameron says. Yes it is time for individuals to take responsibility and protect ourselves from a corrupt state in any way we can.

    Let us not forget those valiant conservatives and others who voted against the bill. There is some good in there somewhere.

    Life will never be the same again but if we have faith we are on the winning side whatever it look like out there. We know the end outcome.

    Will I have to go to prison for saying this?

  • berenddeboer

    NZ has just gone through the entire abolishing of marriage ritual. Given your article, you might be interested in this proposal that churches start keeping their own register: http://www.biblicalmarriages.org.nz/

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.norman.7165 Jeremy Norman

    Col. Mustard – please. If you want your opinions taken seriously come out from your hiding place and reveal your name. What are you ashamed of? Has nanny hidden the Cluedo in the nursery?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.norman.7165 Jeremy Norman

    The disestablishment of the C of E is long overdue. In a non-faith society, a national preferred church is an anachronism.

  • Mike Wingert

    One doesn’t hear anything from Catholics when the issue turns to paedophile priests. I wonder why? I really do think the Catholic church should keep it’s bigoted nose out.

  • DrCrackles

    If we want to return to marriage to its biblical footing then we must promote virginity of bride and groom. We must promote fidelity and punish adultery and divorce must be minimised or eradicated. So, we must return Britain to the 18th century.

    The illustration above shows how we as a people have been destroying marriage over many generations. The current abomination is really the latest assault. We only have ourselves to blame.

  • http://twitter.com/bbcgoogle Rockin Ron

    Calling the ceremony ‘Holy Matrimony’ is a great idea – it reinforces the sacred nature of the ocassion and distinguishes it from marriage.

  • Nele Schindler

    An awful decision, but as a Christian, I’m not too bothered. I simply don’t recognise two gays as ‘married’ in the same sense that God intended. They can call it what they like – we haven’t ‘lost’ anything. The underlying definition and truth doesn’t shift just because of human stupidity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Now go be a Christian teacher in school…….

  • Dadad1

    What I don’t understand is how you can call an ‘arrangement’ a marriage, when it can’t be consummated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

    Christians can have Holy Matrimony but it will not be recognised by The State. However that has no disadvantages because under the Welfare System they get more Benefits and they can handle inheritance using Limited Company status. Marriage is an empty shell in this State which has no reference to “marriage” in official documents. The Census can be destroyed

  • Jebediah

    I’m fine with the legislation. However, I am against pointless wars, and this was a pointless war. Cameron is tactically inept.

    • huktra

      It demonstrates that he values the Coalition and listens to Nick Clegg

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      The “war” has only just begun. First Grammar Schools, then Tuition Fees, then this sideshow….

  • CraigStrachan

    “Marriage will change”

    No it won’t, it’ll be just as much fun as ever. And now more people will get to join in. They don’t know what they’ve been missing.

  • HooksLaw

    If it makes you feel better then say your vows whilst gargling and whistling Dixie at the same time. But since there are thousands of people who do not believe in God who get married, and call themselves married, and actually have the nerve to get married somewhere other than church then i think the point of this post is rather wasted.

    The willingness of the church to marry people who are blatantly not Christians ought to concern you rather more Mr Gray. I mean the church is for Christians isn’t it Mr Gray not the pick and mix punters who do it just for effect. The church should worry more about the hetrosexuals who make a farce of the vows they say in church.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Yes. We need US Subscription Churches with a strongly Protestant orientation opposed to State Power. It is time to withdraw any support from Leviathan

    • Colonel Mustard

      Those pick and mix punters are what the CofE has long been about. It was not antagonistic polarisation between the devout and the secular as we are seeing everywhere now but an accommodation that suited everyone and provided a stability to life and society. A hedging of bets that was all part of the tolerant, pragmatic English landscape until your kind of zealous, intolerant, combative politics came along and which has most unfortunately infused even the Conservatives. In fact, reading your comments I struggle to find much traditional conservatism in any of them and yet day after day you articulate support, by the dissemination of abuse towards anyone who disagrees, of the charlatan and failure in No.10.

      England has been wrecked. And your boy has joined in the wrecking. Don’t expect me to be happy about it. You are lucky it is not yet pitchforks and blazing torches – Christ it deserves to be.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Yes the Restoration Settlement is coming undone and we return to the 1640s

        • DrCrackles

          It is symbolic that we have unearthed Richard iii and may unearth older monarchs. The short period of little over 1000 years and all that has been built in that period is being undone.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      “The willingness of the church to marry people who are blatantly not
      Christians ought to concern you” As a State Erastian Church it has no choice. The Vicar acts as a Registrar in the civil sense and a Priest in the religious sense but is LEGALLY bound to marry Parishioners

  • SPW

    This is horrendous…

    • huktra

      Most Christians are in favour of Holy Matrimony.
      The State as in France should be in the legal marriage game in the Marie while the Church can ceremonies if the couple wish.
      What we should be doing now is ensuring all marriages are solemnised in the local Register Office and then those who want can go to God.

      • DrCrackles

        So, we fought Napolean and Hitler and resisted continental godless aggression to then roll over and give it all away for our own convenience. History like faith is a burden we have to bear. It is the way on the Englishman.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    You’re about 10 steps behind, lad.

    The C of E will now be used to force the remainder of the agenda through. The long march through that institution is nearing its triumphal end. Playing the “dictionary game” will bear no fruit, similar to gay marriage.

    Best to get the state out of the religion business, meaning out of the C of E. Let the Left have it. They’ve worked for it, they’ve earned it, and the deafening silence today is clearest indicator it’s theirs. So give it to them forever. All things must change, and this is the only logical change available to conservatives.

    Drain the swamp. Cut loose the cancer. Insert metaphor here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      The Church will go so will the Monarchy, but it is Parliament that has shown its utter irrelevancy in this vote and Paul-Huhne.- they have exposed themselves for what they are

    • Fergus Pickering

      Cut loose the cancer? What can you mean? Best steer clear of metaphors, love.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        So, we can presume you’re one of the cancerous leftists.

  • Colonel Mustard

    But it is moving towards a quasi-Orwellian state that one can no more “bleat’ about than those who recognised the threat from the rise of Hitler “bleated” about. Those first raising the alarm within society about perils to freedom are generally scorned and ridiculed.

    Gay marriage is just one rather trivial aspect of the movement towards conformity and repression.

    • HooksLaw

      You are bonkers.

      • Daniel Maris

        I am not sure Mustard is that wrong. A concept that has been around for thousands of years is suddenly changed and from now on anyone who fails to accept the change will be deemed to be suffering from a mental disease, as you have just demonstrated. That’s fairly Orwellian I’d say.

        We are living in a state where you can’t (except in corners of the internet) tell the truth about Sharia, oppose mass immigration, or defend a traditional view of marriage without being portrayed as a hate monger, a racist or a bigot. But the people who fought for our freedom in the second world war wouldn’t be able to understand any of this. They’d want to know why just about anyone is allowed to come and settle here, why we can’t speak out against an ideology that clearly hates Christianity, democracy and secularism and why suddenly the ancient verities about marriage have to be overturned.

        You’re claims are based on the notion that we stop here and we don’t go any further. But that was the claim when homosexuality was decriminalised and when civil partnerships were introduced. So it isn’t credible.

        I think we should have stopped at civil partnerships which addressed all the justifiable complaints of gay couples about legal discrimination. Gay marriage destablises what is a fundamental social institution.

        • Andy

          Quite so. As I said elsewhere just wait, once the Bill receives Royal Assent, for some Gay couple to pop up and start moaning and whinging that they are prevented from getting married in some Parish Church, with bridesmaids, bells and confetti. It will be ‘our human rights are being violated’ – you can easily write the script. They will fight tooth and nail to force the churches, mosques (lets not forget this is not just a Christian issue) etc to marry them.

          What we should have done was handed marriage back to religion. If you want to get married you do so in a church etc. All civil marriages would be civil partnerships. The difference in all important legal respects would have been nil, but it would have saved a huge amount of trouble.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            The State wants CONTROL. The only reason for Hardwicke’s Marriage Act in 1753 properly known as An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage was to prevent Bigamy. It was prompted by a Scottish marriage of a former Army Officer whose widows both claimed his pension. It was simply to have a Registration of a Marriage in a Bishop’s Register…….it was not until 1836 that The State became involved in the registration. It is The State that has gate-crashed the party and now seeks Absolute Control as Otto von Bismarck seized absolute control in Germany during the Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church

          • Nele Schindler

            I disagree on one point. This is of course ONLY a Christian issue, like all these recent developments merely serve to tighten the screws on Christians. Not Muslims. Getting married in a mosque? I would make a bet with you that no such case will occur within the next five years.

            • Andy

              I appreciate your point. To me the voices on the political Left are, and will, use marriage to attack the Church. I find that repugnant. Freedom of Religion is the issue here.

              I wish someone would explain what benefit a Gay couple will derive from being married rather than from a Civil Partnership. If the rights in Law were the same why have we had all this nonsense ??

              • Fergus Pickering

                They will gain the benefit of having what they want.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Ah, I see you read Matthew Paris

        • berenddeboer

          We already know what’s happening to countries that have gay marriage for a decade: marriage disappears. In 2001 the percentage of mothers not married when they got their second child was 9%. Ten years later it was 18%. If marriage is nothing more than government approval upon your relationship, why bother really?

      • Smithersjones2013

        Up to your usual standard tonight I see

      • Archimedes

        Everyone knows that this was a PR exercise, on the part of the media and on the part of the political elites. From a PR point of view, they were all absolutely correct, but the fact that no mainstream political party was willing to stand against it means that we no longer have any principles in politics.

        This will prove to be a reference point, where a political party, and a prime minister, chose to stand against what they believed in for the sake of popularity. Future politicians will see it that way. It has nothing to do with gay marriage, which was an irrelevance. It has everything to do with the way the debate was conducted, and the reasons why those aims were pursued, which incidentally were nothing to do with gay marriage either. Consensus is a horrible thing in politics, because it invariably means that no one cares any more. This is the way that nations decline.

        It’s a sad day for democracy.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          It was an EU policy which none can gainsay. It illustrates perfectly why any Referendum will be non-binding

          • Archimedes

            That may be the case, but the way that it was pursued was not an EU policy.

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

              Just as the EU Interior Ministers wanted ALL Police Uniforms to be Blue as an EU Police Force under European Union Emergency Services Directive. All Interior Ministers simply went home and Germany re-liveried its Police Uniforms from Green and Beige (modelled on Foresters) to Blue with US-style caps. The vehicles went from green and white to blue. It is now a standard uniform colour across the EU.

              http://uotw.heavenforum.org/t308-new-blue-police-for-europe

              http://www.designdenhaag.eu/police-uniforms

      • Colonel Mustard

        Which kind of demonstrates my point. There are many organisations and websites dedicated to tracking and recording the erosion of civil liberties in the UK but the whole concept of the ‘free Englishman’ has been undermined and gradually replaced by the notion of the supremacy of the bureaucratised state on the European model. Less than fifty years ago an Englishman could say what he liked, his opinion and right to articulate it was inviolate. Now he cannot. And the reason is mostly imported and foreign, or due the increasing tyranny of minorities – or down to the politicisation of establishments like the CPS.

        Look at the Section 5 campaign. That was supposedly successful but the DPP, unelected and unrepresentative, still takes it upon himself to set out by way of public warnings what is allowed and not allowed to be said. And he does so without sanction or censure by the Minister for “Justice”.

        This will not end. We are being tied up in knots of Gordion complexity in order that the majority conform to the preferences and prejudices of minorities and the ideologies of a particular political movement.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Excellent points !

        • Andy

          Spot on.

        • huktra

          It is quite difficult to see how you equate liberalisation of the restrictive marriage laws as supremacy of the bureaucratised state.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I don’t. You are trying to make the issue of gay marriage central to my comment whereas it is not. It is not always all about gays – hard though I know it is for you to accept that.

            Besides “liberalisation of the restrictive marriage laws” is a partisan construct.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        Were you looking in the mirror as you typed those words ?

      • Simeon Howell

        No he isn’t..

    • huktra

      The German Regime was about repression not liberalisation.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        NO. The Third Reich was about Eradicating Marxism and recapturing the Working Class from the Communists and Spartakists. In the main it used similar methods. The similarity between GDR and Third Reich show just how far the same personnel were employable

        • Fergus Pickering

          Wasn’t any part of it about killing Jews?

  • David Lindsay

    Splendid idea. Although you will of course be aware that George Weigel is coming from a very particular place.

    Now that the debate on marriage is open, let us make the most of it. Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to
    specify that any marriage which it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly. We could indeed call it “Holy Matrimony”.

    Statute should specify that the Church of England be such a body unless the General Synod specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses, with something similar for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

    That would be a start, anyway.

  • 2trueblue

    They can call it what they like but frankly the damage is done. Cameron has created a rod for his own back. What did he think he has to gain right now? It is hardly a priority. We are up to our neck in problems and he chooses to put himself at odds with his party, and a large proportion of the electorate, and use up valuable time for our MPs when we should be getting on with the job of solving the many really serious aspects in the UK right now.

    It is exasperating and it makes one think that Cameron is frankly way out of the loop.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Osborne’s Depression looks permanent now that petrol and diesel prices are climbing as food will surely follow. Time to look for the life-rafts as this society and economy are headed for the rocks. Cameron has his legacy in this vote and now we know why he wanted office……another EU policy implemented…..next will be Inheritance Law harmonised with Divorce Law brought into line with EU guidelines.

      • 2trueblue

        You can call it that, but this is not his alone. Look around the world and see that getting out of trouble takes a long time. Europe is in trouble, are they doing it all wrong, or perhaps that is our fault too?

        To see how 13yrs of mismanagement of the economy can stretch far into the future look at how it was done in just one area, the NHS. Over the 13yrs. money was thrown at the NHS and we see that there was not only no immediate benefit, but going forward there is no infrastructure benefit to gain traction for the amount of money put into in. Also none of the people who were in charge suffered in any way. They have gone on to other jobs within the NHS instead of measures being taken against them.

  • CraigStrachan

    Sure they can. And now gay Christians can too.

    • David Lindsay

      Not yet, they can’t. Nor ever, I expect.

      David Cameron himself did not turn up. There were far more Labour and Lib Dem refusals to support this Bill, even at Second Reading, than had been predicted. Many a speech by a Labour MP who voted in favour nevertheless expressed deep unhappiness about this Bill, which is horrendously drafted, yet which cannot be any other way in order to achieve its objective. Having voted for the principle, they will not vote for final text to become law.

      This Bill will never reach Third Reading.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Keep scrambling, son. Your Millipedal buddies love this gay marriage business. The votes prove that out.

        So much for your “social conservative” bleating.

        • David Lindsay

          Oh, sod off, Why are you interfering in this country, anyway? You have obviously never even been here. Yet, like your compatriots (possibly yourself, and certainly your beloved Reagan Administration as such) who funded the IRA, you feel entitled to bawl your opinions at us.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Keep scrambling, son.

            It ain’t gonna make you and the Millipedes “social conservative”, but keep scrambling.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

            Clinton is the IRA backer and it was Clinton who got Blair to declare the IRA had won

            • David Lindsay

              The cause has been backed by every American President since the first one. How could it not have been?

              It was common knowledge that NORAID was funded by the CIA,. and NORAID’s publications boasted of the fact.

              • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

                I find that claim ridiculous…….http://www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0601/article_493.shtml………..Flannery went to work for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company,
                becoming an affluent businessman and a leader in the Irish-American
                community. But his political convictions never wavered. In 1969, when
                the IRA began its modern-day campaign of terror to force the uniting of
                Northern Ireland with the Republic, IRA operatives approached Flannery
                about the need for financial support.

                He learned, however, that getting funds to the IRA was a tricky
                business. His initial contribution in the form of a $5,000 check was
                returned by the Belfast bank uncashed. Flannery then founded Noraid as a
                front organization to channel funds more effectively. During the 1970s,
                Noraid became something of a cause celebre, with Irish-American
                politicians, union officials, and businessmen eagerly attending its
                fundraising dinners. Ninety-two regional chapters sprang up and more
                than 5,000 dues-paying members became involved. Public opinion in the
                U.S. seemed to be turning in the IRA’s direction.

                Then Noraid suffered a series of reverses. Four prominent
                Irish-American politicians – Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator
                Ted Kennedy, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, and New York Governor Hugh Carey
                – released a statement condemning activities which support the IRA.
                Then, in 1979, the murder of Mountbatten outraged Americans and support
                for Noraid diminished markedly.

                Perhaps most importantly, the FBI began cooperating with Great
                Britain in stopping arms-running to the IRA from America. Noraid soon
                became a primary focus of the investigation. It quickly became obvious
                that Michael Flannery and his Noraid organization were gun runners as
                well as fundraisers. ….In 1981, Flannery was arrested as he left his home, accused of smuggling arms to the Irish Republican Army. Unfortunately, although Flannery and his fellow defendants admitted in court they were guilty of the offense, they claimed the CIA was behind it all. And since the CIA had indeed used one of the defendants as an informer concerning the IRA, the wild charge sounded plausible enough to result in acquittals.

      • CraigStrachan

        Well, now the principle’s been established they can take their time and get the details right.

        Those who voted against can likewise repent at leisure. (My daughter put it pretty well she said that people who are against gay marriage “are the kind of people who would be mean to Kurt on Glee”.)

        • HooksLaw

          Ah but, your daughter probably knows gay people, shockingly she may have actually met one or two. Can she tell us – do they have two heads? There ore some on here who would like to know.

        • David Lindsay

          They can take all the time in the world, as far as I’m concerned.

          • CraigStrachan

            Do you watch Glee, yourself?

            • David Lindsay

              No.

              I have seen it in the past. But somehow, well, no.

        • Daniel Maris

          Thanks Craig, we’ll remember in future to take our lessons in how to organise society and what laws to pass from popular entertainment programmes like Glee. I don’t suppose they’ve ever had an immigrant abusing the benefits system in Glee either. So that’s all right then. No problem there either.

          Perhaps now you can tell us whether you will be in support of incestuous marriage when the equivalent of Glee in ten years’ time has a brother and sister in love story line…I hope you’re not one of those peopel who are going to be mean to the characters.

          If marriage is just about expressing love then there’s no reason to ban incestuous marriages.

          • CraigStrachan

            Not sure the incest comparision is entirely apt. (But if we were to legalize incestuous marriages, as you suggest, I would certainly expect it to be done on the basis of full equality. Which is to say- if brothers and sisters are to be permitted to marry, then so should brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters. Seems only fair.)

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

              Incest does NOT exist in Belgium

              • Fergus Pickering

                How can you be sure?

        • Colonel Mustard

          Then your daughter is a judgemental bigot as bad as those who “would be mean to Kurt on Glee”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

        It is always a bad sign when a Prime Minister survives on Opposition votes…..maybe it is time for him to cross the floor taking careerists like Duncan Smith and Grayling and Hague The Vague with him

        • Fergus Pickering

          He didn’t survive on opposition votes. Coalition votes were on his side. Or had you forgotten that Cameron leads a coalition? Or had you hoped that we had forgotten

    • HooksLaw

      Gay christians!? Shocking don’t mention the possibility to the usual suspects.

      • David Lindsay

        The Catholic and Anglican clerical bodies are disproportionately that way inclined, as everyone knows. But they have still managed to reach the right conclusion on the nature of marriage. The homosexualist political movement created in the 1970s does not own the complexities of same-sex attraction.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

          Yes but Nigerian Muslim terrorists can explain how Christians blaspheme

        • Fergus Pickering

          What is the meaning of ‘homosexualist? Does it mean homosexual (plus disapproval) or does it mean homosexuals plus homosexual fellow travellers. In which case, what d you mean by homosexual fellow travellers? Do you mean hetrosexuals who think homosexuals deserve to be fairly treated?.

      • Tom M

        There was an interview on BBC last night with two gays who claimed to be Christians attending their church regularly etc. Their wish was to be married in the church ‘like other people”. One of them went on to announce that people who disagreed with this “only had to be educated”. So, I thought it, is my education that is wrong and it only requires that he instruct me. A little arrogant I thought.

        He further said that they wished to be married in the church in the face of God. I felt I would like to point out to him that it’s not God’s church it’s the C of E’s, it’s their club and they make the rules. Nothing stopping him starting his own religion and having his “union” blessed there in the face of his god. But that’s the gay community for you.

        • Fergus Pickering

          No. It’s God’s church. Ask the Arch.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004981542519 Tom Tom

      Oxymoron.

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