There is much angst in the UK as it proceeds down the road to legalizing same-sex marriage. I think it is inevitable. I’ve often said that in terms of a secularist, liberal agenda the UK is perhaps 10 year behind Scandinavia. This week a Swede suggested to me it is more like twenty. Anyway, if anyone in the UK wants to know what it would look like in the UK, look north. There is ammunition for everyone whichever side you take.
However, I want to ask some questions around what this redefinition of marriage (and it is a re-definition and not simply an extension) might lead to and I can think of several areas where this change will (in time) lead to further changes down the line.
Firstly, as many others have already said, the idea that marriage should be limited to two people will be fundamentally undermined. There seems to be no reasonable objection once the law is not based on Christian principles that a marriage should be restricted to just two people. Right now, Europe, North & South America have laws based stemming from their Christian history but as this rationale is swept away it’s likely that the West will see its laws gradually look more like that of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Secondly, I think that same-sex marriage spells the end, eventually, of (consensual) incest being illegal. This would bring it in line with the Netherlands and Spain where consensual incest is already legal. Here’s my reasoning: too much of the current objections around incest stem from the fact that any offspring of an incestuous relationship face a higher likelihood of being born with genetic disorders. That doesn’t apply to gay or lesbian siblings and if it’s not illegal for homosexuals then it can’t be illegal for heterosexuals.
Thirdly, I think the age of consent will fluctuate as children stay children longer but become sexually active earlier. This will only lead to further sexualising of children.
There may well be more but I’m expecting that by the time my children are grown up and ready to marry the landscape will be unlike anything Europe has witnessed for nearly two thousand years.
However, as a result Christian marriage, as opposed to ‘straight marriage’ (and we often confuse the two), should become clearer against the background of a fuzzy secular sexual ethic. That won’t happen if churches and leaders are themselves fuzzy about holiness and the sexual ethics of Scripture.