Confusions in the parliamentary marriage debate

By Simon Barrow
June 4, 2013

The highly important parliamentary discussion of marriage law and equality continues today (4 June 2013), and Ekklesia will be commenting further as details develop.

Archbishop Justin Welby is reported as saying this morning that the "traditional concept" of marriage will be "abolished" if the current Bill goes through ( This raises all kinds of questions about the meanings of marriage, tradition and civic-religious ownership which Ekklesia's researchers have suggested are based on a series of confusions.

The Archbishop has spoken of "category mistakes" in the legislation. He is right to raise the question, but it might be that the Church is labouring under some of the illusions it (or, at least, its hierarchy) is accusing others of -- including, most crucially, a misconstrual of the Christian message and investment in all this. A theologically grounded view was set out on this in our 2006 paper, in 'What future for marriage?' (

In the meantime, see 'Should equal marriage be rejected or celebrated by Christians?' (, 'Marriage, union or contract? The flawed case against equality' (, and 'Parliament’s equal marriage debates reveal churches divided' (, and 'Carey’s scaremongering on equal marriage, polygamy and incest' (, by Savitri Hensman.


(c) Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

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