“I can be absolutely clear to you, when it comes to issues of adultery and consummation those are issues that relate to heterosexual marriages. What they won’t be doing is relating to same-sex marriages, but there will be clear protections in terms of grounds for divorce for individuals who are in a same sex marriage, that will be unreasonable behaviour, that’s exactly as it is under civil partnerships at the moment, so clear protections in there, but clearly there will be some differences.”There are, of course, some differences between chalk and cheese. But then no one is trying to say these are two 'equal' substances, whereas someone somewhere realized it was rather clever to coin the term 'equal marriage', given that equality is the bedrock (indeed some might suggest, the entirety) of contemporary morality.
The problem is, as the Equalities Minister acknowledges, this is one respect in which same-sex and opposite-sex relationships simply cannot be equal. And unfortunately for her proposals, this renders same-sex marriage a contradiction in terms.
The law has hitherto been quite clear: consummation is a necessary element of marriage and adultery is a violation of the marital relationship. The Bible is equally clear: adultery is forbidden in the Ten Commandments and it is the one exceptional fault that Jesus allowed would permit divorce.
But if you literally cannot commit adultery, then in what sense can you be described as 'married'? The answer is 'By changing the definition of marriage itself'. But then if you have changed the definition, you have ruled out the very thing you were trying to achieve which is to open up marriage to all. The label may be the same, but the content is not.
Unfortunately, we now seem to be in territory where logic and reason have simply gone out of the window. Government ministers and spokespeople seem to be mouthing words without any grasp of what lies behind them. Perhaps the classic moment in yesterday's interview was thus not Miller's admission that same-sex marriage couldn't be made or broken in the same way as marriage hitherto, or her insistence on talking about 'equal civil marriage' in a religious context (the word 'civil' was supposed to distinguish this from 'religious' marriage), nor her three times ducking the challenge that the government said nothing about this in its consultation, but came just after the words quoted above, when Eddie Mair suggested this was important to the Roman Catholic understanding of marriage, to which Miller replied,
“this may well be why the Catholic church does not want to opt into the system of being able to offer same sex marriage”.This statement is so breathtaking in its potential for ignorance or arrogance, it is hard to believe it was made on air. Either the minister was joking -- hardly appropriate in the circumstances -- or she has persuaded herself that this might actually be true, and that the Church of Rome's only objection lies here. Any other explanation for what she said is hard to fathom.
And this is why I feel we shouldn't trust anything the government is now saying on such matters -- not because they are necessarily consciously lying (though that is by no means impossible), but because they are in a situation not merely beyond their control but beyond their ability to understand.
We can only watch to see how things will develop.
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