Thursday 14 June 2012

A response to the Government Equalities Office consultation on same–sex civil marriage from the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

A response to the Government Equalities Office consultation on same–sex civil marriage from the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

In response to the current government consultation, the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom cannot support the proposal relating to same-sex civil marriage.

As a traditional Christian Church with its foundation firmly set upon divine Scripture, ‘marriage’ has a very particular meaning as outlined in the book of Genesis and reaffirmed in the Gospel of St. Matthew “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Marriage, as it stands, benefits society in many ways by being a monogamous loving relationship that allows for a wonderful union that potentially brings forth a new life, and celebrates the distinguishing and complementary differences between a man and a woman. ‘Marriage’ is by no means a term that discriminates but rather, distinguishes one type of union from another. With this in mind we would ask the Government Equalities Office to carefully consider the following:

  1. While this current Consultation attempts to reassure by claiming that “the Government does not propose to open up religious marriage to same-sex couples”, the term ‘marriage’ in itself is one that has been utilised within a religious context for millennia, and applied to a sanctified and Sacramental union between a man and a woman. The mere redefinition of this term as proposed would indeed change the meaning as commonly defined and understood, and would in turn place unnecessary pressure and expectation upon religious institutions to move in the same direction.
  2. There is no apparent benefit to society arising from the redefinition of ‘marriage’ to incorporate ‘civil marriage’, as Civil Partnerships currently allow for equal rights and responsibilities. To alter this definition is to undoubtedly directly impact religious institutions, undermine the sanctity and uniqueness of ‘marriage’ and infringe upon freedom of religious practice. 
  3. From a legal perspective, the presence of potentially ambiguous laws and loose terminology surrounding this issue is likely to lead to an imposition on religious institutions, especially in considering the various recent rulings of the European courts on matters of state security, deportation and other such issues that have infringed upon practice within the United Kingdom. 
  4. It must be noted that the use of inaccurate and emotive language referring to a “ban on same-sex marriage”, erroneously implies that such partnerships once existed and were then “banned”, and this is clearly not the case.

Based upon the observations above, we would urge the Government Equalities Office to consider the potential effects and side-effects of this matter very carefully, and find favourably with respect to leaving the ancient sanctified and honourable institution of marriage as it has stood for millennia.

For more information please contact:

Media and Public Relations Officer
The Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Tel: +44 (0)207 1937076

Media and Public Relations Office
The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre
Shephalbury Manor
Broadhall Way, Stevenage
Hertfordshire SG2 8NP
England, United Kingdom

Tel.: +44 (0)207 1937076
Fax: +44 (0)1438 313879
Office Email:
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