"Those of us who were not in favour of civil partnership, believing that such relationships are harmful to the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of those involved, warned that in time marriage would be demanded too. We were accused of scaremongering then, yet exactly such demands are upon us now.
Since all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples, it is clear that this proposal is not about rights, but rather is an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists.
Redefining marriage will have huge implications for what is taught in our schools, and for wider society. It will redefine society since the institution of marriage is one of the fundamental building blocks of society. The repercussions of enacting same-sex marriage into law will be immense.
But can we simply redefine terms at a whim? Can a word whose meaning has been clearly understood in every society throughout history suddenly be changed to mean something else?
If same-sex marriage is enacted into law what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell pupils that marriage can only mean – and has only ever meant – the union of a man and a woman?
Will that teacher’s right to hold and teach this view be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?
In Article 16 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, marriage is defined as a relationship between men and women. But when our politicians suggest jettisoning the established understanding of marriage and subverting its meaning they aren’t derided.
Instead, their attempt to redefine reality is given a polite hearing, their madness is indulged. Their proposal represents a grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.
As an institution, marriage long predates the existence of any state or government. It was not created by governments and should not be changed by them. Instead, recognising the innumerable benefits which marriage brings to society, they should act to protect and uphold marriage, not attack or dismantle it.
This is a point of view that would have been endorsed and accepted only a few years ago, yet today advancing a traditional understanding of marriage risks one being labelled an intolerant bigot. "
I think he could have gone further. If marriage as a relationship between any two people of any gender is enshrined in law, does it not expose the church as an agent in marriages and as a teaching institution to the persecution of the state?
First, all ministers of religion who wish to serve by the age old standard that marriage is between a man and a woman, would face the charge of discrimination (i.e. as a social fact, highlighted by media and/or as a legal fact, depending on applications of legislation regarding rights) if the sole grounds for refusing a request to "marry" was that the requesting couple did not consist of a man and a woman.
Secondly, all teachers of the Christian faith who taught what the church has taught all its life, that marriage is between a man and a woman, would be teaching against the current generated by state change to marriage laws and potentially liable to a reaction from the state. (The analogy here could be the situation regarding different races in society: a minister teaching that one race is superior to another would incur the wrath of society in countries such as Britain).
Thirdly, all Christian teachers who wished to express the view that children have the right to a mother and a father will probably face constraint on such teaching as the redefinition of marriage in law to permit marriage between two persons of the same gender automatically confers the right of such arrangements to bring up children without further ado.
I suggest that Christians tempted to side with the British government on this matter should hit the 'pause' button.
It is one thing to support the rights of same sex couples to legal protection around matters to do with property, next-of-kin, and the like. Christian motivation here draws on Christian teaching about mercy, grace, and human dignity.
It is another thing to support the redefinition of marriage. Christians should consider the implications of redefinition for the future practice and teaching of the Christian faith. I can think of no Christian motivation under mercy, grace and human dignity which requires or demands of us that we redefine marriage as a relationship other than between a man and a woman.
PS I will not post any comments here which invoke the Catholic church's appalling record re priests and pedophilia. The record is appalling but reminding us of that is not an argument against Cardinal O'Brien's substantive points. There are plenty of other sites running commentary on this article, make your comments there.