Illustration: Wedding rings

Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill

Date: Friday, 29 March 2013
Author: Rev David M Blunt

Through its Public Questions, Religion & Morals Committee our Church has made a submission to the Scottish government’s consultation on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. The consultation closed on 20th March and an analysis of the responses is to be published later this year.

In one sense the Committee made its submission with a heavy heart. This was the second consultation on the subject and it followed the government’s announcement on 25th July last year, following an initial consultation, that it would introduce legislation to allow so-called same sex marriage. A draft Bill was then published and the second consultation assumed that the law will be passed and sought views on various matters connected with the proposed legislation. This is very sad, for several reasons.

Opposition

It is sad that the government is going ahead with same sex marriage when the clear majority of those who responded to its first consultation expressed opposition to the whole idea. The government did not listen; it went ahead and produced its Bill. We are left wondering, What was the point of the exercise?

We should not be surprised at what has happened. In her ministerial foreword to the initial consultation Nicola Sturgeon stated on behalf of the Scottish government: “We tend towards the view that...same sex marriage should be introduced so that same sex couples have the option of getting married if that is how they wish to demonstrate their commitment to each other.” So it was really their intention all along.

It is obvious to us that, despite some superficial differences, the core agenda of the administrations both north and south of the border is one and the same. In common with many other western governments it involves the undermining and overturning of our Christian heritage. The Word of God must be replaced with the wisdom of man it seems.

Instinct

It is sadder still that such a thing as same sex marriage could ever be contemplated by our government. It indicates how low we have sunk as a nation. There should not have been any consultation on the matter! It was not needed! The idea goes against all instinct and tradition. Everyone knows that marriage is a union between two people of the opposite sex. Nature tells them that and so does their conscience. It is only in the last few years that another voice has been heard and it is not the voice of reason but of the father of lies.

Marriage is a very important institution. It is one of the key building blocks for a healthy and stable society. No doubt that is why the devil is attacking it from so many angles – promoting desires and attitudes which are detrimental to it, whether it be promiscuity, divorce or homosexuality. And he has many willing helpers in our governments and parliaments at Holyrood and Westminster.

It ought to be clear that the spread of homosexuality is harmful to any nation. It is notable that the propaganda of the same sex marriage lobby focuses almost entirely on the ‘rights’ of certain individuals and the need of ‘equality’ for all, however perverse the lifestyle followed. It seems that no other factor is allowed into the reckoning.

But there are other factors and the Committee believe they raised an important one in their response to the government’s consultation. We said: “Very little consideration is given to the most vulnerable individuals involved, namely children. Does the government not know that the development of children can only be harmed if they are wilfully deprived of either a father or a mother? We have the distinct impression that their needs are being sacrificed in the pursuit of political correctness.”

Abomination

The saddest aspect of the whole matter however is that the government is going ahead with same sex marriage when the Bible declares it to be an abomination in God’s sight. Homosexual unions are condemned by the seventh commandment of the moral law which says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exod. 20:14). They were specifically forbidden in Israel: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Lev. 18:22) The New Testament repeats the prohibition when it says that “abusers of themselves with mankind” will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10).

It is our responsibility to state this truth. Governments must be confronted with the reality of what they are doing, whether they care to be told or not. Today regrettably they tend not to care. However the Scriptures are the reality, as one day we shall all find out.

Autonomy

One of the more bizarre aspects of the Bill is a proposal to establish ‘belief’ ceremonies as a third type of ceremony, alongside religious and civil, for getting married in Scotland. This is surely to demean what was once universally referred to as ‘holy matrimony’. We believe that this is what the campaign for same sex marriage is really all about. It is an assertion of human autonomy – a full-blooded attempt to throw off divine restraints and to expunge the notion of God altogether.

We learn of this rebellious attitude in the second Psalm: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” (Ps. 2:2,3) We also learn of our sovereign God’s awesome response – and may our governments take note of this: “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” (vv. 4,5) How we should cease from our provocations of Him!

The Committee responded to this flippant proposal as follows: “We oppose the plan to establish ‘belief’ ceremonies to celebrate marriage as envisaged in the legislation. All belief is ultimately ‘religious’ in character. Those who opt for a civil ceremony believe that the God of the Bible does not matter: that is a religious belief. Secular humanists who want their own form of ceremony believe that the God of the Bible does not exist: that is also a religious belief. To allow for ‘belief’ ceremonies would open a Pandora’s box of absurdity and evil. Will we see marriage ceremonies which celebrate a couple’s shared belief that Elvis Presley is still alive? Or that UFOs are genuine? Or that leprechauns really exist? Will the government be prescribing the Freemasons as authorised to solemnise marriage? Or witches’ covens? Or the Church of Satan?”

Rights

The matter of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience on this issue, especially for teachers, is one which continues to give us cause for concern as a Committee, despite the assurances the government has given. We made this statement in our submission:

“Teachers in Scottish schools should have the legal right to teach the following facts:
1) Since its origins humankind has been constituted biologically as male and female. It did not constitute itself in this way for it is according to its very nature.
2) Throughout history every human authority has recognised human marriage as taking place between biological males and biological females.
3) It is only in the 21st century that human authorities have determined to contradict what is according to nature and history.”

We then pointed out that Scotland is still a professedly Christian country and that according to Christian teaching based on the Bible ‘marriage’ between two males or two females is an impossibility and a perversion of a fundamental creation ordinance. Teachers in Scottish schools should have the legal right to state this. We also indicated our concerns as to precisely what rights parents who oppose homosexual unions will have to withdraw their children from classes where same sex marriage and civil partnerships are taught as ‘normal’. We believe they should enjoy full rights to do this.

When we think about it the issues involved in this legislation are enormous and momentous. The Lord requires us to make a stand against same sex marriage, for our own sakes and for the sake of those who come after us. While it is unspeakably sad that things have come to this in our beloved land it is a joy and a privilege to identify ourselves with the Lord and His cause and especially so in a day of such declension. May God give us grace to do so.