Sunday, 11 March 2012

Should We Annul Our Marriage?

For those of you the other side of the Atlantic you might not be aware of the row about Marriage that is currently filling the gaps in the papers between debate about the future of the National Health Service and speculation about whether Princess Kate is pregnant.

At the moment gay couples can have a Civil Partnership in the UK. It gives partners similar rights to married male/female couples in terms of next of kinship, and a break on inheritance taxes. But it isn't allowed to be called "marriage" and can't take place in a church.

A commitment from our government to change its title from Civil Partnership to Marriage has caused the Catholic Church to get up in arms. I say up in arms, actually a couple of bishops have written a letter to be read out in church this morning (hey we are British, this is our equivalent of the Arab Spring).

The argument in the letter focusses on the purpose of marriage. You can see the full text here.

It says:

"Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity. "

And:

"There are many reasons why people get married. For most couples, there is an instinctive understanding that the stability of a marriage provides the best context for the flourishing of their relationship and for bringing up their children. Society recognises marriage as an important institution for these same reasons: to enhance stability in society and to respect and support parents in the crucial task of having children and bringing them up as well as possible."

The zinger right at the end is:

"A change in the law would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage. It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children."

I know a gay, civil-partnered, couple who have adopted two children. I am in a traditional marriage but we have not fulfilled the intended purpose of marriage, because we haven't procreated.

Surely by this logic the gay couple are fulfilling the churches purpose much more fully that the husband and I who have "just" made a commitment to each other.



23 comments:

  1. The archbishop of Southwark talks in a manner which makes feel like wretching. I hear what you are saying but can the RC recognise this? Something suggests they would backtrack and find new ways to alienate those who are in a civil parnership. What a shame that in these modern times we still see this.

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  2. In fairness, who is better positioned to give marriage, moral, and reproductive directives than 75 year old male virgins in dresses?

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  3. I made this very point to an, eh, I hesitate to say 'friend', that my gay cousin and partner have two children, that H's gay relations all have children, and that H and I, the happily married hetties, are totally childless and may well remain so. Should we part? Should we stop having sex, as we're clearly only doing it for fun? Should I have never married H in the first place, as I knew I'd have trouble conceiving? Beet-red spluttering 'friend' who didn't know what to say. BWAHAHAHAHA!

    GIven that 1 in 10 couples experience infertility, and given that 1 in 5 women aged 40 in Britain have no children (whether because they don't want them or can't have them), and yet most of them are married, the Catholic Church can really go eat a giant helping of Shut Up Pie on this one.

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    1. Nice that you managed to say that. Always think of the perfect retort too late. (Which is why I blog not do chat shows. Yes that is the ONLY reason)

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    2. I'd love to see a chat show with you on it.

      In truth, that was the ONLY time I've managed to say something coherent like that when I've been confronted with a twerp saying things like that. And it helped that I was half-way down my third glass of wine...

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  4. Sandy in Florida11 March 2012 at 13:19

    I wonder, now here's a thought, if you could solicit funds from the Catholic Church (or any church) to help pay for IVF? Why not? You're trying to procreate and your husband is not spilling his seed in vain, but rather it's collected and only deposited to the egg collection. Seriously, that has got to hold some weight toward supplementing your IVF journey. You'd be not only bringing forth potential Christian soldiers (said tongue in cheek of course), but fulfilling your vows to meet the obligations of your marriage contract with the church & spouse. Lol. Something tells me you'd get a best wishes & G-d be with you letter back (at best). I'd die laughing if you not only wrote about, but sent a letter to the church in regard to this. But always worth a try, right? If you do write such said letter, please publish it.

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    1. I'd love to but IVF is frowned up as well. http://womb4improvement.blogspot.com/2010/09/pontificating.html

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    2. Sandy in Florida12 March 2012 at 18:28

      Oh hollow mockery... They just don't want people dipping into the collection plate for IVF funds, lol.

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  5. as an infertile and thus far childless person raised in the catholic faith, all i have to say is OUCH. letters like this one bothered me before i even knew we were infertile. stupid church. sorry, but thats how i feel.

    mo

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  6. wow just wow. makes me so angry!

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  7. I was born, baptised and bred Catholic. I even went to a convent school. But I think I have never been so grateful that I now call myself an agnostic as I was on the day that the lovely Cardinal O'Brien was on the Today programme.

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  8. Don't forget those who are NOT married and HAVE children! Oh my!!!

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    1. That Happens?! Fuck. I think I need to lie down.

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  9. What you all need is the sort of Jesuit education that I had. Theoretically, the Jesuits teach you to reason and think for yourself. In practice, that amounts to me laughing at whatever archaic BS the Catholic Church spouts and mentally referencing the centuries of corruption, while I merrily go on my way exercising my free will. :)

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  10. I was in our local church last week and saw a few petition forms in there collecting signatures for the "Coalition for Marriage". I felt very pleased that the church was standing up for the rights of gay people to marry until I looked closer and saw that the petition was to "protect marriage" - obviously our marriages will be completely negated if we were to allow those evil homosexuals to have one too. Ah well at least it makes me feel better about never going to church services.

    Luigi

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  11. The gay marriage debate (as it rages stateside too) makes me nuts. So many other problems. I don't care if they want to get married, let them get married. I don't think you can force a church to let it happen within a church's walls (separation church /state for me) but call it marriage. Let them eat, drink, be marry, and get divorced, just like the rest of us. The lawyers will laugh all the way to the bank.

    Hollywood is debasing marriage more than any other group of people. The Catholic church should speak out against them.

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  12. The gay marriage debate is raging this side of the pond too. In Ireland couples in civil partnerships are not allowed to adopt children together. That's the only difference in status between civil partnerships and marriage in this country. However, an unmarried person (either gay or straight) who is in a civil partnership can be eligible to adopt as a single person. Their partner has to be assessed for the adoption with them, as if they were married. And when they are granted permission to adopt, only the adopting parent gets parental rights, the other partner has none. What you might call an Irish solution to an Irish problem. Go figure.

    What bugs me about the church is the constant railing against matters pertaining to civil marriage, which has no bearing on religious marriage. And their views on IVF and other reproductive technologies.

    I think Martin nailed it in his comment above about 75 year old virgins in dresses. Or the famous chant at pro choice rallies in the 80's - "Get your rosaries off our ovaries"

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