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Church of England: family is central to the stability and health of human society

Reading Time: 17 minutes

  • The House of Bishops affirms heterosexuality as key to Christian marriage.
  • The family is stated as being vital for society.
  • While man & woman Marriage can be blessed for practising Christians, Civil Partnership is outside the Church, regardless of sexuality.

The statement by the upper house of the Church of England legislature is contained in guidance recently released.

The issued document follows the government climb-down on the discrimination against heterosexuals joining in Civil Partnership.

As far as the Church is concerned, Marriage is between one man and one woman. Civil Partnership is not to be viewed on a par with Marriage.


The UK introduced Civil Partnership for homosexual couples in 2005, enabling them to enter into a formal union that was somewhat like marriage but not.

This caused dissent on two fronts. Some homosexual couples wanted real marriage, and some heterosexual couples wanted the option of ‘marriage lite’ that Civil Partnership offered. Since heterosexuals outnumbered homosexuals by about 50:1, homosexual couples got their way and heterosexual couples were ignored. Seriously.

It’s hard to know what to think of a progressive ‘conservative’ government that pulls a stunt like that. From 2013, the UK had both Civil Partnership and Marriage for homosexuals but only Marriage for heterosexuals.

Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who headed the challenge against discrimination

It took many years and a huge amount of donated public money to fight the government in the courts. The government spent even more (heck it’s not their money, right?) fighting the legal challenge of sexist discrimination. Like it wasn’t obvious. Eventually, the Supreme Court smacked the government about the head and told it that it was breaking the laws it had created on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

That was in June 2018 but it changed nothing. Some registrars of Civil Partnership apparently tried to stay on the right side of the law and issue certificates for heterosexuals but the certificates were denied legitimacy and the registrars apparently sacked.

As another hefty legal battle was being prepared, a private members bill (one not put forward by the government but proposed by an ordinary MP) was suggested and was eventually passed.

That was in March 2019 but it changed little. All the law had done was permit the Secretary of State to make the changes. These he finally put into place in December 2019. The Conservatives take the law seriously you see? Or perhaps you don’t.

The Church of England’s position

The Church of England has reaffirmed its commitment to traditional marriage, saying that marriage between one man and one woman has always been regarded as “central to the stability and health of human society”. In a pastoral statement released in response to the introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships, the church’s bishops explain they believe that marriage between a man and a woman provides “the best context for the raising of children”.

All the social and statistical studies back up that opinion. Yes, we know that you know some great single parent whose kids have turned out well. Maybe you even know someone raised by the state who has turned out okay. We are pleased for you, and especially for them. They are not the statistical norm; they are exceptional.

It has always been the position of the Church of England that marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other, is central to the stability and health of human society.

House of Bishops
Church of England

There is huge pressure on the Church to endorse same-sex marriage. It has not done so, though its pastoral practice is sometimes at odds with its doctrine. And later this year Bishops will consider a report which may well urge them to take a more liberal approach.

Meanwhile, the Church has another battle it is engaging, along with 83% of the population, who have stated that believe divorce should not be made even easier.

The Church and the Law

It seems central to the Bishop’s view that Marriage is a solid commitment, whereas Civil Parnership is not. These are legal definitions and as most people know, they are already more myth than reality.

The legislation does, however, leave entirely open the nature of the commitment that members of a couple choose to make to each other when forming a civil partnership. In particular, it is not predicated on the intention to engage in a sexual relationship. Thus, there is no equivalent of the marriage law provision either for annulment on grounds of nonconsummation or for its dissolution on the grounds of sexual infidelity.

House of Bishops
Church of England

The Conservative Party (the name really is a joke with the current leaders) have said they intend to weaken marriage further, making it effectively dissolvable upon a whim. We wonder what the Bishops will do, then. Will they stop being willing to bless even Marriage, when marriage is turned from “till death do us part” into no more than a statement to “hook up until bored”?

Government wants to destroy families

Of course, with the option of a ‘marriage lite’ finally being available to those who do not want to commit to anything deeper, there is no excuse any longer to weaken marriage. Marriage should be strengthened and once again made into something that people can rely on. Something that will protect and succour the next generation.

The people busy destroying Britain’s social structure are right inside Parliament.

Despite the chance to make marriage worth something for both partners, and help married couples stay together, there are people busy trying to destroy a major pillar of our social structure. And they aren’t outside Parliament, yelling for it, like those screaming for restrictions on speech and other totalitarian demands. The people busy destroying Britain’s social structure are right inside Parliament.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is already is making its way through Parliament as I write. For years, people have been trying to reinforce marriage and keep it out of the courts with counselling and delay tactics to give couples chance to work out their problems. If this Bill goes into law, reconciliation won’t be given a chance, counselling will be given no opportunity, children will be bereft of at least one parent (the vast majority of children ‘in care’ come from single-parent families), and suicide rates will be increased further.

The Government is right to think that this is a big shake-up of the divorce system, but it is not one most ordinary people will celebrate. Far from helping families to stick together, making separating easier and quicker will lead to more divorces, more broken families and makes a mockery of the Government’s claims to be pro-family.

Colin Hart
Chairman of the Coalition for Marriage

The strange thing about this is that there is a VAST call for marriage not to be weakened. Had it not been for Brexit, this issue might have made a lot of difference in the UK’s recent general election. 83% of the country does not want no-fault divorce. Why would they? Who gets married so they can be divorced against their will, without even having any input to the matter?

The law requires that couples are told (e.g. by registrar) that before they are joined in matrimony “I have to remind you of the solemn and binding character of the vows you are about to make. “Marriage, according to the law of this country is the union of two people, voluntarily entered into for life, to the exclusion of all others”.

As anyone who has suffered an unwanted divorce knows, these words mean nothing. Indeed, you may have reason to think that Britain already has no-fault divorce. To the extent that you can be divorced because your spouse ‘believes’ something or ‘feels’ something, yes. But at least they have to dream up a reason, and there have been cases where a divorce has been denied through lack of evidence.

The Conservative government are currently determined to push ahead with this most unpopular bill. Unless we — including you — act to stop them. They went ahead with Brexit when only 52% of voters wanted it. Yet they are now ignoring what 85% of people want. Only two years ago, one of the agitators for divorce-on-demand reported that two-thirds of Conservatives did not want the law.

Justice Secretary David Gauke

The Justice Secretary has even admitted that he knows the divorce rate will go up. Something that the country does not want and society definitely does not need. Divorce should be there for proven cases of harmful action by one spouse on the other (or both on one another). It should not be available when someone just gets ‘the itch’, be that husband or wife.

There can be no excuse to weaken marriage further, now that couples can chose Civil Partnership if they do not intend making a bigger commitment.

Make an issue of this

Write to your MP
You can use this site to find them and write to them
Be polite, be firm, be clear.
You can send them an email; using the address on the parliamentary website.

If you don’t know how to write such a letter, remember these three parts to it: [1] background (what you are writing about) [2] issue (what is wrong) [3] action (what you want them to do: vote for society and against no-fault divorce).
More specific advice to achieve results is available.
Keep it simple, keep it short. Only one issue per letter.
Further general guidance is available on the web.

For many MPs, postal letters still work better so consider also writing or printing and posting a letter, too. A letter posted to them, by name, at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA will be delivered to them.

If you are sending them an email you could also include a copy of the solid arguments against no-fault divorce put together by the Coalition for Marriage.

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