Does God control public opinion or vice versa?

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With regards to the debate in these pages and the wider sphere, here is a quick canter through some of the objections to same-sex couples being allowed to marry: “The move will alienate grass roots conservatives.” In order to tackle important issues, there is a need to accommodate other strands of opinion.

Any conservative who would regard gay marriage rather than mass immigration as his ultimate red-line issue has either lost his mental faculties or is failing to use them.

“It will be distressing to many heterosexual married couples”. It may well be a facet of human nature that our satisfaction can be enhanced by the knowledge that others are not free to do something that we can. But this is not one of our nobler characteristics, nor is it one that should be pandered to. “Most people would prefer their children to be heterosexual”. The connection between this and same-sex marriage is what?

“The new law, in England and Wales represents unwarranted state interference in matters of religion”. It does indeed. As it stands, it would prohibit same-sex marriages being performed within the Churches of England and Wales, even if hypothetically these organisations wished to do this. In potential disputes between higher and lower levels within a religious body it intervenes to back the former.

Thus, for the first time since the Reformation, the law could endorse the right of a foreign potentate to a veto on what happens in some British churches. These clauses should be deleted at the earliest opportunity.

“Marriage is, by definition, between a man and a woman”. I can see how one might get this impression. But, put more precisely, it is between people for whom a sexual relationship would be permissible. The new law does not redefine marriage, it simply catches up with the redefinition of what is permissible.

One might question whether we actually need official recognition and encouragement for a category of relationships based upon eligibility for sex. A more pertinent one might be based upon people co-parenting children. But then there are many different-sex couples who don’t co-
parent and many same-sex ones who do. The leaders of the Church of England have recently expressed their regret at the failure to enact reform regarding women bishops, while at the same time continuing to stand firm against gay marriage.

I am left wondering how their reverences ascertain which issues God has changed his (or her) mind on. Is there perhaps a link to public opinion, and if so does God control public opinion or does public opinion control God?

John Riseley

Harcourt Drive

Harrogate, North Yorkshire