Probably it will.
In March the coalition government began its nationwide consultation concerning moves to redefine marriage in order to include gay relationships. The Marriage Coalition has organised a petition to encourage them to stick with the traditional definition. But my gut feeling is that, apart from divine intervention, sadly the change will happen. Churches need to brace themselves for the consequences.
Why will marriage be redefined? It will not be because conventional heterosexual marriage is obsolete. Male / female marriage has been enshrined in law because it is the natural building block of society. Furthermore, even in the contemporary fallen world, it proves by every measure generally good for men, women and children. As Christians we know that is because marriage is not a human construct, but was given to us by our loving Creator. No, the first reason why the argument will be lost is because of our society’s deification of self and of ‘choice’. ‘People should be allowed to do what they want so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.’ That’s the theory. In fact in a modern society there are few choices which don’t affect others. Recently Guy Brandon1 of the Jubilee Centre has argued that the direct cost of promiscuity through treating sexually transmitted diseases on the NHS is £1 billion per year. This is not to mention the human costs of adultery and divorce as they impact children, and grandparents lose access to grandchildren. There is also the shocking loss of life in aborted children, highlighted recently by the Daily Telegraph’s uncovering of abortions being given simply because the baby’s gender is wrong. Unfettered sexual choice which doesn’t involve others is a myth. In banking crisis Britain, financial considerations dominate public dialogue. We are bombarded with the costs to the nation’s health bill of obesity, drink, red meat and smoking. Weirdly little is said about the cost of sexual ‘freedom’. Changing the definition of marriage is only likely to add to the nation’s bill. Gay couples cannot have children naturally and so add to the future work force to help to pay for their pensions and old age care. And how else will lesbian couples proceed who decide they want children, other than by looking to the state to help them through costly IVF, etc.? But pursuing the secular idea of freedom has set us on a slippery slope from which, apart from God stepping in, there is no turning back.
The second reason why marriage is likely to be redefined is political. David Cameron has chided the Conservatives for being ‘the nasty party’. This was the soubriquet foisted on them for opposing the teaching of gay sex in schools through Section 28. In coalition with the Liberal Democrats, the Prime Minister is hardly likely to refuse the gay lobby what they want. And the Liberals are unlikely to let him simply forget the idea. But then also there are politics in the church, specifically the Church of England. Some Anglicans see the redefinition of marriage as a trap set by secularists who are keen to see the disestablishment of the Church. If the bishops vote against the redefinition it will be used to fuel the idea that the Church stands in the way of ‘progress’ and therefore should have no place in public life or the House of Lords. For that reason there are likely to be professing Christians standing on both sides of the redefinition argument and therefore no clear direction given. So marriage will be redefined. But let’s pray and stand for truth. Who knows what God can do?
1. Free Sex: Who Pays? Moral hazard and sexual ethics by Guy Brandon, Cambridge Papers, December 2011.