Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Cohabitation: the CofE statement

Two weeks ago, the Archbishops’ Council issued a response to the Law Commission’s consultation Cohabitation: the Financial Consequences of Relationship Breakdown. The consultation closed on 30 September, but the documents are still available here. Main PDF document (warning: is 2.6 Mbytes).

The CofE press release about it is here. The full text of the Church of England response is here (PDF).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 9:46am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Good. So why are DLT publishing a worldly, compromised and ill-argued book like 'Just Cohabiting' by Duncan Dormor?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 1:07pm BST

Do laws in England regarding domestic violence Currently include couples who are not married? That is, may a woman whose live-in boyfriend beats her apply for a restrianing order on the same basis that a wife might? How about same-sex couples?

I ask, because my state will vote in two weeks on an amendment to the Virginia Bill of Rights that will bar gay marriages [already barred by statute law] but also will forbid legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that seek to approximate the design qulaities, or effects of marriage - that's not exact language, but close enough. And Virginia already bars civil unions in its statute law. A similar ban is included in this amendment.

The concern is that this sweeping language, which includes same and opposite-gender unmarrieds, would remove the protection currently afforded to unmarrieds in domestic violence situations.

So I am curious about that legoa situation on you-all's side of the pond.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 1:20pm BST

I'm not a lawyer, Cynthia, and I'm not sure if this reply is really what you're after, but here goes...

In criminal law, any act of domestic violence is just as much a crime as a similar act between two acquaintances or strangers. So, depending on the severity of the violence, the violent partner could be charged with anything from common assault, through actual or grievous bodily harm, to murder. Historically, the police have been less interested in "domestics" than they should have been, partly because of a rather sexist "canteen culture" and partly because of frustration when the assaulted partner decines to pursue the case. Recently, the police have tried to address this by tarining of officers and othe measures.

So far as civil law is concerned, the marital status of the partners would have no effect on such remedies as applying for restraining orders or injunctions.

Where partners who are not married, or who are not in a civil partnership, are at a disadvantage is in inheritance law, where one partner dying intestate could leave the other on the street as the the siblings/parents/children/cousins of the deceased partner inherited the home. The provision for civil partnerships solves this problem for homosexual couples, but leaves heterosexual couples who prefer not to marry in the same situation as before.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Tuesday, 24 October 2006 at 10:39pm BST

Thanks for your reply. In Ohio, which passed a simliar amendment 2 years ago [coinciding with the presidential election ... which Ohio tipped to Dubya .. what a coINcidence!], there have been challenges to the state's laws on domestic violence involving unmarried straights.

There is considerable concern among those who work with domestic violence law about this. Currently, VA law on domestic violence does cover straight unmarried couples, straight couples who do not live together but have a child, and in some localities, same sex couples. The fear is that if the amendment passes, only straight married couples would be unambiguously covered. Since the Ohio thing passed, there have been several challenges to protection for unmarried straight couples in domestic violence cases.

There is also concern about what would happen to things like medical powers of attorney for gay couples.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 12:48am BST

Cynthia Gilliatt asked: ”Do laws in England regarding domestic violence currently include couples who are not married? That is, may a woman whose live-in boyfriend beats her apply for a restraining order on the same basis that a wife might?”

Herstory: Before the Renaissance/Tridentine State, supervised Moment, marriage form was introduced by Statute, marriage was Civil (or “common”) law in all Europe.

The Consensus of the Parties (the Families/Clans) was s o l e legal ground, with or without spoken or written contracts regulating property.

From the 13th century Mass was used to seal the marriage. The 1296 Upland law says that Mass makes the man and wife Spouses regardless of equality of birth and the children full heirs. Mass also set thralls free.

The Renaissance form was introduced much later (or never: 1804 Code Civil) than we, who have been indoctrinated it’s eternal, tend to believe.

In Sweden in 1686/1687. In 1736 (1734 Law of the Swedish Realm) this was carried further so that full rights of children were made dependent not on Mass, but on the Tridentine f o r m. This now made the Parties (now the persons) Spouses.

From 1736 this meant tutelage of the husband over the wife, as was the custom South and East of Europe.

The un-written Civil law form(s) were more in accordance with traditional gender equality, which made them an obvious alternative…

This state of affairs lasted until 1915, when the Tridentine form was made a legal institute and became the o n l y legitimate form.

Non Tridentine marriages were outlawed and the children disinherited 1/1 1918.

The Consensus of the Parties is nevertheless still (and again) the o n l y legal ground in most of Europe, except for Sweden – the Tridentine f o r m only is valid, the Consensus of the Parties a mere prerequisite.

The 1987 Cohabitation law deals with the dissolution only of a non Tridentine marriage (house/flat, property, the upkeep of children), not with the marriage itself – which is to be similar, but may not be identical to a Tridentine marriage (the latter having no criteria to meet ;=)

However, nothing of this has any bearing on domestic violence. A Tridentine wife has neither lesser rights (as per the 1734) nor more (as per contemporary English law).

And shouldn’t.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 7:23am BST

I thought this would be about Anglicans learning to cohabit despite differences, and discovered that it was a complicated discussion of cohabitation in civil law -- the sort of thing an Established Church has to have a standpoint on, I suppose. But I doubt if any church can now hope to influence the development of law and practice in this area. Gays entering civil unions have become a major headache for both Rome and the Anglicans -- an articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae no less -- and one is astonished to see bishops ferrying hither and thither, as in the most agitated days of the Arian Controversy, in a vain bid to hold back the clock. I suggest that the development of mores and secular morality will take care of itself and that the Church's task will be to reclarify the Gospel in that context. The US RC Bishops are to issue a document reasserting the old certitudes and urging those not in agreement not to receive the Eucharist -- I wonder if they realize that this excludes not only gay couples with their "weak and deviant love" (thus Pope Benedict) but all the good married folk who use contraceptives?

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 9:09am BST

The thing the Church can't handle is that it may be a problem for them - but for the rest of us in the UK, civil partnership isn't a problem, nor cohabitation.

The question is how to ensure that cohabiting couples do not end up with nothing whilst retaining incentive for marriage and civil partnership as signs of commitment. What the Church has to say about that is, in my view, irrelevant, given that their view of marriage is far from that of the majority. Most people positively decide not to marry in church. Civil partners have no choice but to do so, but personally i turned down four offers of blessings - who wants to be blessed by an institutionally homophobic body and its god?

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 1:55pm BST

Virginia's law, as I understand it, would explicitly render civil contracts such as powers of attorney invalid for same sex couples. If it passes, I am sure there is an "equal protection" suit on that front. How can you say that my private civil contract in any way is invalid if they guy next door can have the same civil contract?

But indeed, in Ohio, the law against same sex marriage has been used to remove protections from anyone who is not married.

Meanwhile, New Jersey's Supreme Court is about to rule on gay marriage. THe likely next Governor in New York supports it. In California, the legislature passed a gay marriage law that the governor turfed baack to the courts. And the sun continues to rise over Massachusetts.

The solution is clear: civil unions for all, make "marriage" a solely religious event that each denomination can bestow or refuse as they see fit.

But it'll never happen in the flakey and hyper religious US. ONly in more civil Europe.

Posted by: IT on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 3:33pm BST

The key to the Church response is this sentence:

"It has always been the teaching of the Church of England that marriage - that is, faithful, committed, loving, permanent and legally sanctioned relationships between a man and a woman - is central to the stability and health of human society." (para 5).

However, this is wrong on a number of counts.

First, marriage has never been permanent. Divorce existed in biblical times (although specifically condemned by Jesus) and has always been possible in ecclesiastical and English law (although it did not become widely available until the establishment of the Divorce Court in 1857, followed by successive liberalisations of divorce law). It is no part of English civil marriage law that marriage is indissoluble, nor has it ever been, even when it was under the juridiction of the law ecclesiastical.

Second, fidelity in marriage was, until recently, only required of the woman. Until 1923, a woman could not obtain a divorce on the grounds of her husband's adultery; she had to prove, in addition, cruelty or desertion.

And, third, although marriage is, undoubtedly, a "legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman", it is by no means the only possible such relationship. The whole thrust of the Church response seems to be against other forms of legally sanctioned relationships.

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 5:48pm BST

May I remind would-be commenters that we have a policy limiting comments to 400 words. So if your comment doesn't appear, this could be the reason.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 6:42pm BST

Badman, thanks for those valid points. There was an excellent book I read back in the 1980s called "The World Moves Slowly", and it covered women's rights in early colonised Australia. The legal inequalities were similar and just as recent. Then there is the question of polygamy. Then there is the reality that the law might have changed but that has not ended abuse within relationships (nor churches for that matter), as the United Nations recent reports on the abuse of women and children demonstrate.

I still find it bizarre that we should be discouraging souls from attempting life long monogamy with all the responsibilities that go with that.

How does exhorting souls to be their best diminish souls who believe they are doing their best? I sometimes sarcastically think that they have to institutionalise inequality and barr people from leading reverential lives, so they can say to God that they were the only righteous souls on the planet. Humbug, their attempts to deny basic rights and dignity to others renders all their attempts to claim personal (or church) "righteousness" as hypocrisy and slander.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 7:22pm BST

I think badman has a point here. I don't think anyway that it has ever been a civil certificate which has made a marriage 'Christian', or from a Christian point of view, which has made a marriage.

All sorts of relationship exist, or have existed, in law, some of them exclusive (master and slave, apprenticeships), some potentially between male and female (guardianship, trusteeship). etc etc (look at the law of undue influence, for example).

And there are uncertified relationships recognised by law (for example cohabiting may affect benefit entitlement) - it is interesting that when there is money in it, the law is keen to step in. It is arguable that pretty much every substantial state intervention in the law of marriage has been property related.

It is also noteworthy that the voice of the Church was not raised when cohabiting couples were brought within the law (to reduce their benefits) - as this recognition of relationships is arguably as 'undermining' of 'the institution of' marriage as any other.

I do think that the current debate reflects more a situation in which church and state are moving apart and realising that they are not the same (though the rhetoric sometimes forgets this). This represents a challenge on both sides.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 8:37pm BST

A few hours later, I can understand why God would turn a deaf ear to the prayers of concern for the suffering or mistreatment of Christians when they are in the minority in other nations. Why would the prayers have any credibility, when Christians bend over backwards to systemise inequality and justify denying rights to minorities within their own nations?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Wednesday, 25 October 2006 at 11:11pm BST

hi Merseymike-
What is your opinion based on? If it is not based on statistics regarding stability (or otherwise) of cohabiting relationships (with all the side-effects of that) then how can your opinion claim to be a real world opinion at all? What is your view on the children who (statistically) get such a raw deal from such relationships?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 12:08pm BST

Christopher: your remarks have nothing at all to do with my previous comments. I am in favour of both marriage and civil partnerships, but do not wish to see people left with nothing in the light of the breakdown of a cohabitation. Hence, my last post.

As for stability, the problem is that the statistics are not comparing like with like. If the most committed couples marry, then it is clear that their breakup rates will be lower ( and they are high enough!) I do not believe that forcing anyone into marriage would decrease the relationship breakdown rate, any more than stripping committed couples of marriage would mean automatic divorce.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 26 October 2006 at 11:18pm BST

Well handled Merseymike.

What is bizarre is that eveyone agrees that committed relationships are more viable, and then some proceed to try to deny others access to the possibility of succeeding in a committed relationship. It's a bit like saying nutrition is good for you, but I won't give you enough food because you are not worthy enough, and then gloating that you are showing symptoms consistent with malnourishment!

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 12:37am BST

To be deprived of food is one thing. But how many cohabitees are deprived of marriage? Rather they are often keeping their options open, and keeping their 'freedom'.

The way your answer read, no-one would guess that (a) promiscuity levels are increasing in our society, so that people will take the attitude 'I will because I can'; while (b) expectations that people will marry are decreasing. Both of these two factors militate against commitment. Neither of these two factors is mentioned by you as being related to the present situation. Yet both are intimately related to it.

The publications of Belmont House Publishing indicate that cohabiting adults are less healthy in practically every way than even single adults, let alone married adults.

One thing we all know: numerous societies have had much higher marriage rates combined with less social disorder and more stability. Including ours not so long ago. Such societies are not merely possible but frequent. You give no indication that you wish this situation to return. It does not return by force, but by means of certain things being perceived & broadcast as norms; by others being frowned on; by promoting strong families where individuals cannot just do their own thing. The liberal media and Thatcherite me-first selfishness are both responsible for the current situation.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 12:33pm BST

Christopher: most of what you say makes the same mistake as before - that you assume that marriage itself will alter behaviour and strengthen commitment. There is simply no evidence for that. Cohabiting couples are not as they are because they cohabit, but their position does not lead them to look towards marriage.

Your analysis is the typical right-wing individualist approach which looks not for social, but individual determinants of social action. 'Promoting strong families' does not have to include negativity - but we can look towards how stronger families of all varieties can be supported and thus promoted. I don'tthink 'marriage' in itself would make any impact whatsoever - look towards the reasons couples choose not to marry and not to want commitment.

And if you are so keen on promoting commitment, as indeed I am, why do you not support measures that would strengthen my own committed, long-term relationship? Like civil partnership.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 6:33pm BST

The AIDS pandemic clearly demonstrates that men who are away from their wives are still sexually active (how many towns can cite that their first HIV/AIDS victims were infected by US soldiers on R&R?). Plus we see that men living in cities engage in sex and then return to their wives in their rural communities with the HIV "gift", and that itinerate workers (e.g. truckies) also partake in sex.

Remember Abraham used to take Sarah with him, and we know from the oral tradition that Friday nights were special. Abraham was righteous because he understood his limitations and did not demand more from his body than it was capable of giving. Thus he did not demand protracted celibacy and ensured his wife was nearby to keep him (and her) satisfied.

A marriage certificate does not stop men (or women) from keeping their options open. Look at the number of women being infected after their husband's adulterous behaviour.

Also, look at the number of men who abuse their wives or complain they were "tricked" or "coerced" into marriage.

Reverence in a relationship does not come from a piece of paper or where the service is held. It comes from and between the two souls concerned.

The churches and State are culpible for failed relationships where they insert themselves between two souls and deny the souls the wherewithall to actualize a reverential relationship. Give them a level path clear of rubble, then if they hit roadblocks they are of their own making. A good minister would then help them understand how they are sabotaging their lives and help them rebuild reverence. A bad minister will gloat and point the finger.

Deprivation is deprivation. It doesn't matter whether it is food, medicine, clothing, ability to earn an income, walking the street without being violated, having civil rights. They are different forms of the same pattern. Are we helping souls actualize, or are we putting roadblocks in the way and then gloating that others can not get past them?

God calls on us to level clear the rubble, not dump the rubble. Look at the opening sentence in Luke 6:17, Jesus made a point of starting his sermon in a LEVEL place. Then there's Isaiah 26:7, 40:4 & 45:2; Jeremiah 31:9; Ezekiel 13:14; Zechariah 4:7; Psalm 26:12 65:9-10 & 143:10; Proverbs 4:26

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 27 October 2006 at 9:20pm BST

The comments I have seen on this site represent English law. In Scotland since 4th May 2006 cohabitants have a full range of financial rights and obligations which arise at the end of the cohabitation,whether they simply separate, or one of them dies, and a) whether the couple like it or not, and b)whether they even know about it or not. English law is likely to change along the same approximate lines in two or three years. The impetus for the change comes from ECHR which will ensure that same-sex cohabitation is given precisely the same status as heterosexual cohabitation. Failure on the part of the Westminster parliament to afford the same status to same-sex couples will be open to challenge at Strasbourg and the challenge will be irresistible.

Posted by: John M Fotheringham on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 1:00pm GMT

Some good points. Luke 6.17 does speak of a level place, but not sure why this has to be given a spiritual rather than practical meaning. Anyway, contrast Matt 5.1-2 sermon on the mount was much the same sermon, and not said to be in a level place.

One error- Sometimes you are writing as though there were only two alternatives, total faithfulness and unfaithfulness. On the contrary, though this is true as far as it goes, there is a sliding scale of degrees of unfaithfulness. My point was only that there is on average appreciably more stability and faithfulness in marriage than outside it. And it is not clear why other options than marriage *need* to be touted in the first place, since (a) vast numbers of societies at vast numbers of periods of history have simply stuck by marriage, and (b) the alternatives have been statistically less successful. Not that marriage has always been perfect - just that it is hard to find an instance where the alternatives are not even more imperfect.

Mike- I am not assuming marriage will strengthen commitment. Certainly not in the case of a cohabiting couple. Vast percentages of cohabitees who marry soon divorce, one reason probably being that the wedding was unable to be special enough because the presents had already been unwrapped so to speak. Marriage does not strengthen commitment- marriage *is* commitment, or a classic manifestation of commitment.

You said- look towards the reasons why couples choose not to marry. I so agree. A fundamental reason is that people will always do what they can get away with. The trick is for our society to be one of those hundreds of societies (including at many times of history our own) where a little stigma prevents a far worse harvest later. The main thing in the way of this is a lack of imagination- people seem (a) unable to envisage our society being any different, despite the fact that it has only been this way for a short time, and (b) terified of being socially deviant or perceived as weird. So that even intelligent people like yourself coincidentally (or not) end up with the same body of (so-called) conclusions as the unthinking man in the street who simply wants self-gratification.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 1:06pm GMT

Christopher: I don't think you can artificially create stigma. It is also really quite a pointless exercise as there is bound to be resistance to it.

I am all in favour of committed relationships, as I have already said.However, I think your way of achieving them hasn't worked - we live in postmodern times and people are not going to be told what to do any longer, least of all by the Church or Christians.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 31 October 2006 at 5:45pm GMT

Well - a little bit of stigma is 100 times less bad than the negative social consequences stemming from children being born in 'cohabiting' relationships. Assuming u r familiar with the statistics you will agree with that.

There are 2 funny presuppositions behind what you write, which would need defending:

(1) 'We live in postmodern times' - you think we are all the helpless victims of social trends? No we are not - that applies only to fashion victims. Nobody is under any obligation to be postmodern if they don't wish to be. However, if anyone *does* wish to be, but can't defend it intellectually, then why should anyone listen to them.
(2) The reason people dont want to be told what to do is (as you well know...) not because they have intellectually proven that this is a logical or beneficial approach, but because of the old Adam! We are all naturally selfish, and if society encourages us to be, then that is all the encouragement we need. How does that make it right?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 1 November 2006 at 12:41pm GMT

No, Christopher - you still fail to grasp the point.

The problems are relationships which lack commitment. Forcing people to marry will not aid commitment.

I also think that social trends are important, but not that we are helpless victims. I'm afraid you still haven't grasped that many people really don't like the sound of your ideal world. Postmodernisty is here whether you like it or not. And the whole point is that postmodernity is diverse and pluralistic, incorporating people like you and those of radically differnt beliefs.

As for your last point - the ususl Christian error. Which is why I don;t believe in the traditional Christian message any more. Its redundant.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 1:29am GMT

One of the propositions I have heard about Jesus was that he "made manifest" many elements of the Old Testament. Life After Death, abundance of food. In Jewish tradition the use of some words has meaning, and when a word comes up repeatedly throughout the bible then the word takes on symbolic as well as a literal meaning. The thing about Luke 6:17 was not that Jesus started preaching from a level place, but that the disciples and early Christians felt it important to record that he started from a level place. Combined with the alluded to OT passages, there is symbolic consistency.

A court in the US in the last week has granted the same rights to some form of civil partnerships. Their comments on whether to use the word "marriage" is that if some souls want the word "marriage" kept for heterosexual church endorsed marriages, well and good. They will just have to think of another title to cover the other kinds of relationships.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging and rewarding people to aspire to life-long monogamous relationships. That is different to denying the people the possiblity of even trying. Better to try and fail than never even be given the chance to try. Even better to try and succeed, and have society reward and ackowledge such faithfulness.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 2:04am GMT

Hi Mike
It is impossible to force people to marry.
You rightly identify the problem as lack of commitment. This lack of commitment has only become endemic from the time when nonmarital relationships have become socially acceptable in some circles.
So if you truly believe in commitment, why are you against the social structure that was designed to encourage it, and in favour of the looser social structure that does nothing to encourage it, but rather allows men to have their cake and eat it (and they don't need to be asked twice)?
Is the commitment you believe in something theoretical only? Or is it something practical that manifests itself in social structures? Clearly the latter is preferable.

'Postmodernity is here to stay whether people like it or not': the issue is whether it is intellectually tenable. At one point nazism was here to stay, at another communism. But neither was intellectually tenable, and forcing people to give in to wrong ideologies (I thought you didnt like force) is a demonstration that one believes that might is right. 'Whatever is fashionable, you'd better accept it or else'. if postmodernism can be defended, then why not try to defend it by argument instead of by this sort of unnecessary fatalism?
We may as well shut down all the universities if postmodernism takes over, since it will then to be uncool (as opposed to incorrect) to say one person's view is better grounded than another's. The quest for truth will then be dead. Belief that the moon is made of green cheese has a right to its place in the intellectual marketplace etc etc..

'The usual Christian error': the 'error' was to believe that everyone has some selfishness in them. I thought most people (not just Christians) agreed that selfishness is a widespread human tendency.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 12:56pm GMT

Hi Cheryl-
It is equally true that Matthew puts the sermon on a mountain, which is more or less the opposite to a level place. You could have emphasised that, but didnt. Why? Because you preferred the idea of a level place. But the mountain is no less present in the gospel text.

Where is the evidence that Luke had a spiritual meaning for this? It is practical (even when on a mountain) to congregate a crowd in a level place. There may be intertextuality here, even a reaction against Matthew's mountain. Who knows? How much can innocuous simple words like 'a level place' be milked for?

As to your other point: It can only (as we must all agree) make sense to present people with options that are statistically beneficial, and rule out (or never even discuss) those which are not. This approach appeals to their better nature, whereas the other tempts their worse nature.

You seem to be suggesting that people be presented with a wider range of options, with no guarantee that they will (rationally) 'choose' any of them, as opposed to being led by their human nature into whichever option provides best short-term satisfaction. (Short term being the apposite phrase where the vast majority of homosexual relationships are concerned.)

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 1:05pm GMT

Exactly, Cheryl, which is why I am totally happy to have 'civil partnership' as the official term for same sex relationships in the UK

The rights and responsibilities offered are equal - whereas those who insist on a name as in the US, get nowhere. Here, the introduction of CP's was hardly a controversy at all.

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 2:37pm GMT

Christopher, your comment about presenting people with a wider range of options intrigues me. I wonder if we are not closer in our alignment than the correspondence might suggest?

I think both you and I would like people to be seeking to living loving monogamous reverential life-long committed relationships? Both of us would discourage public acts of sex and sex with the immature or without genuine consent?

In which case there is no disagreement.

Unless you are suggesting that some souls should be precluded from being able to enter into reverential arrangements? (Which I don't think you are based on your last couple of comments?)

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 2 November 2006 at 9:32pm GMT

Hi again
Just for the record (in case you misunderstood) I was against the idea of a wider range of options. Choice is the idol of our age and I am not sure people always think out carefully the reasons why they idolise it. Children mature precisely through *not* being given the choice to go clubbing or pubbing rather than go to school.

Reverence is one important factor, but far from the only one. One would first have to establish that homosexual practice was a good thing in itself. In the real world it is medically a greater risk factor than being a smoker - and in the view of many just as unpleasant and demeaning/debasing to the individual concerned as smoking is. Its no1 staple diet (anal intercourse) is itself a medical risk even when between man and woman let alone otherwise.
Proper honest discussion happens when we put all the factors on the table, rather than selecting a few which suit our preferred conclusions.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Friday, 3 November 2006 at 12:44pm GMT

Christopher

Some of those choices that neither of us like don't actually relate to marriage/civil partnerships. Some of those are choices that relate to young adults finding their sexuality and partners and how adventurous they are (homo or straight). Some of those choices relate to people being narcissic, hedonistic, or gaining rewards by "pimping" on others' narcissm.

The former is inevitable all we can do as parents is give good advice and pray that our children are sensible and do not get hurt in the process. (I do not agree with forcing marriage or killing children for curiosity).

The latter is distressing, and every parent's nightmare. Neither of us want to see souls in such a situation, and when we do find souls in such as situaion we pray for God to help them move into a reverential lifestyle. Although we both know many a parent that cries because their child seems hopelessly determined to taste of the "dark side", or communities that despair of whole families who seem destined to perpetuate such practices.

There is also a difference between narcisstic or forced sex, versus sex with consideration and reverence. The latter is desired, and a life-long commitment to a monogamous relationship is the manifestation of two souls choosing reverence and doing their best to aspire to that standard. I would never stand in the way of two souls trying to do this.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Friday, 3 November 2006 at 4:06pm GMT

I would actually, which may sound harsh; but I believe that if two people love one another they want to be committed maximally, in every way possible. Thus their natural reatcion to marriage is 'Great, the more commitment the better.'. I think it could be naive to suppose that cohabitees are not simply keeping their options open, and in many cases are only in love with themselves. But all such suspicions aside, the reason why cohabitation is so dangerous lies in the other things which statistically it is associated with (see the publications of Belmont House, Sutton; FYC Whitton; and (to be accurate) *everyone* else who has gathered stats on this matter).

Marriage is a good example of a structure which endemically encourages people away from narcissism and hedonism. How do you expect that they will be encouraged away from these things if they are told (on what basis?) that marriage is just one equally good option among many? That is mixed messages; and the motive behind the mixed messages escapes one. It is probably conformity/conformism.

To speak of things like 'finding their sexuality' is (or I fear it is) an indication that you have swallowed the (statistically) devastatingly harmful 1960s philosophy.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Saturday, 4 November 2006 at 12:50pm GMT

I would offer marriage to all. I am not from the camp who is electing to withhold marriage from certain sectors. If there is a "fudge" that is what others are requiring.

However, making it marriage or nothing is not tenable. What then happens is people marry, but are then abusive in the relationship.

There are benefits to civil partnerships. For example, some men (e.g. my previous husband) are wonderful as de factos but become really nasty once they have a marriage certificate in place. Some souls are only nice when there is a risk that the person can and would walk away.

Research into "inverted narcissm" demonstrates that perpetrators first ensure their victims are deprived means of escape before they escalate into the more vicious manifestations of their disorder.

I have recently spoke to my exhusband and told him that he is nice guy. But that if he ever decides to get involved with someone again, the last thing he should do is marry them. Because something happens when he gets married. (And no, it's not just me, he did it to his first wife, and the internet shows that my story is far from unique).

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 5 November 2006 at 3:42am GMT
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