22 September 2011
Scottish government attempts to redefine marriage
The Scottish government launched its consultation on redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships and to allow religious ceremonies for civil partnership. From the outset the Evangelical Alliance and other groups have publicly criticised the Scottish government's intentions to redefine and devalue marriage and called on them to maintain the established societal definition of marriage which has universally stood the test of time. The Alliance will be submitting its own response to the consultation but we also strongly encourage Christians in Scotland to respond to the consultation before the deadline on 9 December.
Marriage is the bedrock of a stable society, allowing children to be produced and raised by a committed mother and father. Marriage is God-ordained and overwhelming sociological evidence points to the benefits of marriage for children in terms of emotional security, educational achievement, health and other life prospects. In a recent Guardian article Michael White wrote: "Aside from all the theological, moral and cultural freight, there's an important practical distinction here which goes to the root of any society - namely that heterosexual marriage is there to produce and raise children in a more or less stable environment." He argues that no amount of technology can "eliminate the need for a female egg and a male sperm to make a baby. On that fact rest all successful societies since the year dot".
Marriage has already been undermined in our society and the consequences are easy to identify. At this time of social fragmentation and instability, any attempts to redefine the traditional value of marriage will further damage the well-being of our society. Subsequently, any redefinition of marriage which includes a union between homosexual couples will be promoted by the state as standard, in schools and wider society.
At the heart of the Christian message is a calling to speak up for and support those on the margins of society who suffer inequality and injustice. It is therefore vital that Christians support addressing any injustices suffered by people who choose gay lifestyles and make sure that they have reasonable and fair access to public goods and services. But redefining marriage is not an issue of equality and fairness as argued by those justifying same-sex marriages. As the government consultation document states "the rights and responsibilities of civil partners are very similar to the responsibilities and rights of married couples"(Paragraph 2.04). Allowing a same-sex couple to marry will not redress any injustice nor make equal what is by definition different.
The number of civil partnerships in Scotland continues to drop every year. Last year only 465 same-sex couples decided to have a civil partnership. It is estimated that a small minority of those who would consider a civil partnership would choose instead to get marriage. It is crucial that the government acknowledges the widespread concerns throughout Scotland over any attempts to redefine marriage at the behest of a tiny minority for largely political reasons but which will have massive consequences for society as a whole.
Before the consultation deadline the Evangelical Alliance will be coordinating meetings between evangelical leaders and the Scottish government to build effective dialogue and make sure the voice of the evangelical community is heard. If you would like any further information on how to respond to the consultation or how to contact your MSP please email Alistair Stevenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or ring the office on 0141 548 1555.