Of course, the point is being massively missed in the current debate on redefining marriage in the UK.
Marriage has been redefined already.
Marriage, once, was a lifelong, unbreakable gift of a man and a woman to each other, made by them as a basis for the creation and upbringing of a family. Marriage, because it is at one and the same time an act of self-giving love, an act of permanent commitment, and an act with a creative meaning, is an image of the nature and meaning of God.
And that was recognised in the words of the marriage service in the Anglican Church of England, the institution which is constitutionally part of British society; this, together with statute law which did not define marriage (because that job had already been done) made the status of marriage clear.
But that definition was too difficult for a “modern” society.
Permanent commitment? Who could possibly make that sort of promise? Deep self-gift? But that would mean being less selfish! Bringing children to life and loving them as they grow? We can do that without any commitment; and we mustn’t ask what that means for their future lives.
So society demanded divorce, and got it; and marriage lost part of its meaning. Society had to be built on selfishness – that’s the basis of capitalism, after all – so complete self gift was subversive; better drop it – and another bit of the meaning dies. Children, once a gift from God, became a nuisance – or alternatively a right, objects to be notched up like any other possession; and after all you can get that possession without the inconvenience of being married.
Thus marriage has been redefined; for convenience and to align with the attitudes needed to support big business. I’m afraid that it’s too late now to turn back the tide; the Bishops have left it far too late. Soon, marriage will no longer mean the permanent creative union of one man and one woman; just a temporary contract between any two people – although with an utter illogicality which is really no surprise in government, it will remain only two (so much for any pretence this is about equality; equality would see marriage encompassing at least five people, to accommodate Muslim marriages).
Why is this a problem? Well, I’m married, in the original sense. But it’s gradually become harder to tell people that; I can’t just say I’m married and assume people know that means no divorce, no limitations, no restrictions. Handing over an essay to say who I am is not a practical proposition. The best I can do is explain whenever my “partner” is invited to join me at something that I have no partner – I have a wife, who is far, far more than a mere partner.
The re-definition is a public attack on the identity of such married couples; we’re simply inconvenient to a society which cannot cope with God, and is therefore threatened by marriage as a sign of God.
It’s time, then, to claim a new term; real marriage, as it always did exist, is still actually alive and well. And it needs a name, since its own historic name has and is being defined out of existence.
So by this post I coin the words ‘goodmarriage’, ‘goodspouse’, and ‘goodhusband’ (‘goodwife’ already exists, but can be repurposed in context to compete the set). The prefix ‘Good’, as in many Anglo-saxon derivations, comes from the same root as ‘God’, and asserts the origin of marriage.
I assert copyright over those terms insofar as they are now coinings; in all their grammatical forms, capitalisations and derivations. I shall call myself goodmarried, a goodspouse in a goodmarital relationship.
And I offer the term freely for use, under the condition that it is used only and specifically to mean the loving, permanent, public and personal mutual self-gift of one man and one woman, ordered to the procreation of children, and standing in the image of God.
Any other or lesser use is a breach of copyright, and anyone misusing the term will be assumed to have bought the rights to do so at a price of £10,000 per use. You have been warned.