Same-sex marriage: My letter to my MP

Here is my letter to my MP today.

Dear Mr. Bayley

I am writing to ask you to vote against the Marriage (same-sex couples) bill on its second reading tomorrow.

I and my wife Kate are a married couple in our thirties who are deeply concerned about the effect this bill, if it becomes law, will have on countless people in our country. We are Christians and are convinced that the Christian understanding of marriage as the lifelong exclusive sexual union between a man and a woman, leading to and providing for the upbringing of children in a secure and loving context, which underlies the law as it has been in England for centuries, is both right and necessary for a stable and secure society.

In addition, I am a church minister and regularly am involved both in preparing people for marriage and in dealing with the consequences of family breakdown. From the perspective of someone who sees first-hand the consequences in people’s lives of the decline in belief in and respect for the institution of marriage, it is clear to me that this bill can do nothing but harm many people, most especially children. 

My reasons for thinking this are as follows.

1. The most fundamental reason is that marriage is integral to human nature. When a couple marries they are recognising that their sexual behaviour must rightly be limited by norms which are greater and larger than themselves and their sexual desires. Husbands and wives have a duty to society (and to God) to be faithful to one another; a duty which arises because none of us defines marriage for ourselves. Rather it is part of what it means to be human, arising from the very nature of what it means to be male and female, and from the nature of the union of the two which produces children who need a home where they can grow up with the love and nurture of both their own mother and their own father. So marriage means a public vow of faithfulness to our spouse, however much one might in the future be sexually attracted to someone else. 

2. When this pattern, integral to human nature, is ignored or sidelined the consequences across society are catastrophic. We are seeing this on a vast scale in our own country at this very moment. Many studies have demonstrated how children born outside marriage do worse on almost every measure of life achievement. Having worked in a Local Authority legal department I have direct experience of seeing how child protection cases arise in almost every case through adults thinking their sexual behaviour should be guided merely by their own desires, and not expressed within the lifelong commitment provided by marriage.

3. This pattern of marriage simply cannot survive being extended to same-sex couples. For it conclusively divorces marriage from any foundation in the procreative, conjugal act of sexual union, this being impossible for a same-sex couple. And so it downgrades marriage from being something which stands over us as part of our nature, to which we as human beings have a moral duty to conform, and which when we do is able to confer great good on us and on society as a whole, to something which we have merely decided to enter into for our own happiness. It lowers marriage from being a commitment to the whole of society, both now and for the future, most particularly for the safe conception and nurture of children, to an arrangement merely for the satisfaction of the people concerned. It becomes merely a statement of the affection we might have at the present time. As such all the value of marriage for husband and wife, for children, and for the whole of society is done away with.

4. Christians in particular will be placed in a very difficult situation by this. We are not at liberty to call black white, or say that carrots are apples, even if the law says we must. We cannot call marriage what is not marriage. This bill, if it becomes law, will require civil disobedience by Christians on a large scale.

5. We recognise that the government’s desire is to extend the benefits of marriage to all. Bu, far from opening marriage to anyone it would close it to everyone, since marriage itself would have been redefined out of existence.

Therefore I would like to ask you to vote against this bill in its second reading tomorrow.

Yours sincerely

Matthew Roberts
Minister, Trinity Church York