It is now two weeks since this headline appeared in a national newspaper. The opening paragraph reads: 'Homosexual couples could be allowed to "marry" in traditional religious ceremonies for the first time, a government minister has said.'
Question: around which noun in the headline do you think inverted commas would be most appropriate?
More substantially, what is the issue that really matters? Let me suggest some:
1. The idea that a government minister has the right to permit when 'religious readings, music and symbols' could be used in a 'civil partnership ceremony'. But I suppose the concept of the established church was acquiesced in several centuries ago. Can Anglicans complain?
2. The idea that 'religious readings, music and symbols' have some sort of influence on the nature of an act when that act is itself contrary to the law of God. Is this a kind of Coalition version of transubstantiation? To change an illicit partnership into marriage - just bless it.
3. The idea of religion entertained by the minister (Lynne Featherstone). Clearly a human construct which can be directed and regulated at will by human governments. Not novel but certainly godless.
4. The idea that a partnership between two men(or women)could ever be legitimate whatever religious or other ceremony inaugurated it. Legally, civil partnerships would become virtually identical to marriages as the Equality Act last year removed the bar on same sex unions in churches and other places of worship. So they can take place in church. But are these church civil partnerships then at present without any religious music readings or symbols? Church without religion?
Moreover, if they allow civil partnerships to take place with religious paraphernalia in secular venues, this would be unfair to civil heterosexual marriages as no religious element is allowed when these take place in register offices or venues such as stately homes, hotels or hot air balloons.
So what a muddle it is all getting in to.
And none of it makes it marriage anyway because marriage is and always will be between a man and a woman.
5. The idea, finally, that people who have no regard for the teaching of the Bible (in at least its traditional form) yet want religious elements to their ceremonies. But religion without truth has been going on since the dawn of time so one should not be surprised.
Plus ca change...