Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The changing idea of "family"

The BBC is reporting that a notary in Sao Paolo, Brazil, has registered the civil union of three people. According to the report, "Public Notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues has said the man and two women should be entitled to family rights."
Ms Domingues, who is based in the Sao Paulo city of Tupa, said the move reflected the fact that the idea of a "family" had changed.

"We are only recognising what has always existed. We are not inventing anything."

"For better or worse, it doesn't matter, but what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today." 
"But," the BBC continues, "the move has angered some religious groups, while one lawyer described it as 'absurd and totally illegal'."

Personally, far from being angered, I find it rather amusing. More importantly, I wait to see what arguments, rather than emotional reactions, will be mustered to oppose the move. Lawyer Regina Beatriz Tavares da Silva is said to have told the BBC this was "something completely unacceptable which goes against Brazilian values and morals". But of course that does not answer the argument of Ms Domingues, that the idea of family had changed.

If 'family' is what 'families'  do, and if marriage is whatever we choose to call it, then I can see no logical reason why anyone could oppose a three way, or any other way, civil union, 'marriage' or whatever people want. Who are we to deny their happiness, fulfilment, or right to enjoy the relationships they choose?

Other than on the basis of religion, or some other a priori assumption, the tide is surely running in favour of our 'threesome', perhaps not today, but certainly some time soon.

Meanwhile, I must admit I'd love to hear from Alan Wilson on this one!

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  1. Truly awesome that this has appeared at this time, given that the arguments that the redefinition of marriage has claimed that it would never lead to more than 2 people being defined as marriage. It is only a matter of time before this is taken up by those in favour of 3 or more in a marriage and then they start arguing their corner and the whole thing becomes a whole lot more complicated!
    Whilst it is also sad that marriage is being turned inside out like this to fit with what man thinks it should be, it is not unexpected that it is the next part of marriage to be attacked. Discussions on various threads have been saying this for the past few months.

    The interesting thing is how do the Church respond to this? Obviously, from an evangelical perspective, it should be rejected as anything that the Church should be involved it. But where should the church stand on Christians taking part in civil marriage if it has absolutely nothing to do with what Christian marriage is all about? (I hated writing the 2 different "definitions" of marriage there!)
    Personally I'd be inclined to have a wedding in church and just not do the legal bit, finding an alternative legal means to replace being a part of the now damaged "institution".

  2. I share YouthPasta's dismay - indeed all Christians should.
    The logical extension of re-defining marriage is that the change will indeed transform our concept of the traditional family unit. "How does the church respond to this?"

    Clearly the homosexual activists are intent on their obsessive agenda in order to destroy all adverse criticism – in effect freedom of religion, of association, and freedom of conscience, and marriage itself. Further, it is clear that they have captured weak and secularist governments all over the western world who see the issue as one of equality for a minority group, as they see it, suffering discrimination.
    We know too that homosexuals require SSM primarily to secure acceptance and recognition formally by society and the churches of their alleged “rights” – which would, they believe, justify their practices as acceptable alongside real and heterosexual marriage.
    Can the churches then “win” against the growing consensus and secularist policies which will lead to the criminalisation of genuine dissenters on any grounds, including those of conscience? I think not.
    The issue forces to the forefront the question – ‘What is the Lord saying to the collective church at this time through this situation? No easy or simplistic answers are there.
    It seems to me that there are two options open to churches if faced with the challenge of SSM being imposed upon them.
    First is to implacably resist on Biblical/conscience grounds and face the possibility of going through the courts – and losing. I believe this is a God honouring option on the grounds that the State has no business to interfere in a church’s internal doctrinal decisions – the position has strong and equally honourable precedents – at least in the UK and USA. (In the UK the great charter of liberty Magna Carta, has a direct bearing on the matter "The English Church shall be free" – but I let that pass).
    The second option is I think possibly being considered in the C of E which is for the church to withdraw entirely from ‘offering’ a marriage service to all as a matter of policy – which would cut the Gordian knot and would shoot the “gay fox”.
    I believe this second option is equally honourable, but at the same time raises further and far more important questions about the church’s priorities, namely the centrality of the Gospel itself and related issues about the nature and function of the church, as opposed to relatively less important issue of offering marriage services to all and sundry.
    Perhaps the Lord is bringing a new challenge to the churches through these circumstances to re-discover her true and spiritual mission once again?

  3. I think that the permutations of 'family' really is an individual choice though I can't see the threesome thing taking off here.

  4. Chelliah. Yes of course "permutations" of family would be an individual choice as opposed to that of the State but that is not the issue.
    In the present context of an imposed re-definition of marriage a change in the law allows the uniqueness of real marriage to be degraded by encouraging any number of sexual perversions and alliances to be established legally - bigamy, polygamy, polyamoury etc without legal restraint. Where does it end?
    Such groups will quickly demand legal recognition of their liaisons as "marriage".
    From there it is a very small step to criminalise dissident objectors as being "discriminatory" and there are examples of this happening right now:

    In Sweden, expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church, and a pastor minded to cite the more robust verses of Leviticus would risk four years in jail. In Canada, the courts rule that Catholic schools must allow gay students to take their same-sex dates to the prom.
    We are not there yet but on the same road, where an imposed SSM by the State radically changes traditional concepts and understanding of marriage. That is the logical extension of this government's proposed legislation which is the thin end of a very big wedge indeed.
    We should not forget that it is the existence of law under the status quo which PROTECTS against such chaos for parents, children and families.

  5. I bet Bishop Alan Wilson turns out to be a raving bigoted polyphobe.

  6. There's certainly plenty of biblical precedent.

    1. Yes, in the OT, polygamy is tolerated, but Jesus disagrees with polygamy. In Matt 19:5 Jesus quotes Gen 2;24 with a significant change from the Hebrew text. He asserts "the TWO shall become one flesh" rather than the Hebrew text's "THEY shall become one flesh."
      Jesus also stresses that marriage is heterosexual "the Creator made them MALE and FEMALE" ..."for this reason shall a MAN leave his father and mother and be united to his WIFE" (Matt 19:4-5).

      Ro Mody, Bournemouth

  7. Graham, do you have any links to prove the Swedish and Canadian examples you cite? It'd be good to see them, if only to be able to use them in any future discussions on the subject.

  8. Youthpasta - just butting in here in case Graham doesn't come back to this thread. The situation in Canada is far worse than Graham's example. You can read more travesties here:

  9. Youthpasta. That particular comment was a quote from Bill Muehlenberg (website

    Bill's site is very informative. A man who speaks the truth in love consistently and a very courageous Christian. His blog is a mine of sound comment, and particularly on the issue of homosexuality.
    You can get the exact quote via his search engine as it appeared but a few days ago.
    His blog comment today on the issue is I think very typical and well worth a read. IMO he is thoroughly trustworthy and for that reason I felt confident in quoting him.

  10. From a sociological/anthropological point of view, a family of Mum, Dad and children (as their direct off-spring) is pretty much a minority form of social and familial organisation, when looking at the numerous permutations of 'the family' that have (and do) exist through the world. As 'Anonymous' notes above there is biblical precedent for various permutations of the family unit. Samuel was left at the 'church' porch and raised by the priests, and seems to have done okay!

    What I find rather fascinating about the BBC's series 'Who do you think you are?' likewise demonstrates that most (if not all) of us have somewhere in our past an 'unconventional' family. At present I am working in palliative care to fund myself as a finish off my doctoral thesis and I am shocked at the degree of what constitutes a 'family' - and this is not just confined to young people - indeed more so with older people!

    @Jill, I'd take anything Anglicanmainstream reports as 'fact' with a shovel of salt - an investigation of the primary sources of this or that salacious or finger-pointing story, usually reveals the truth is a little more sanguine.

  11. The moment that you legally assert that NO definition of "marriage" (eg. one man and one woman) is THE ONLY one that is real and allowed, then you no longer have any logical or reasonable argument for not allowing ANYTHING (one man, two women; three women, one dog; two dogs, one man, one antelope, etc.). No, really really. All/any can use the "liberation"/"rights" arguments used by homosexual men/women, with no less validity.