The World Last Tuesday Night

I was on The World Tonight on Radio 4 last Tuesday. I was talking about the way that Scotland could be ahead of England in the same-sex marriage business and could be a place that people come to again from across the UK in order to get married when they can’t get married elsewhere.

Both Gretna and Portpatrick might have wedding booms once again. (And Gretna still does an enormous trade in weddings).

It is a nicely put together montage of voices and even features the bells from St Mary’s.

You’ve only got today to listen to it on iPlayer – it will disappear sometime tomorrow.

Here’s the link – iPlayer World Tonight

The segment starts at about 38 minutes 45 seconds.

(I get double points for suggesting that someone in Gretna might be painting their anvil pink).


  1. Rosemary Hannah says

    Well done – nice mix, too, well put-together. As usual, so glad to be part of St Mary’s. It is good to campaign for equal marriage – even more important the message gets out that plenty and plenty of Christians are for it.

  2. Brother David says

    I thought that you had become a prophet of doom, I misread the headline as The World’s Last Tuesday Night.

  3. william says

    Clearly there is no unanimity either within the church or within society for the proposal to call/constitute a same sex relationship as marriage.
    It could be argued this is just a temporary situation – until the rest of us catch up! However it might also be argued that the proposal is calling the church to apostasy.
    So, there will be both concern and contentment with this proposal.
    Recognising that it has certainly exposed disunity within the church, will those sections of the church which are eagerly lending their support to the proposal, eventually be content that the whole church is required to follow them in their understanding [their consciences notwithstanding] when it becomes illegal for other sections of the church to refuse to officiate at such a ‘marriage’. Or ready to accept the State stepping in and making all marriage ceremonies legal transactions only, to avoid a perceived inequality in that some within the church refuse to be involved in what citizens are demanding?

    • No one in any church in Scotland is currently forced to celebrate any marriage. That principle is already established. Any marriage can be refused by a religious celebrant for any reason. There are no proposals to change that.

      Though divorced people can get married in Scotland, no-one would take seriously a human rights challenge to force a Roman Catholic priest (for example) to celebrate such a marriage. This is currently the situation. This will continue to be the situation. There is no risk that any religious celebrant will be forced to celebrate any marriage. Registrars as the direct officials of the state will continue to be expected to marry all couples who can legally wed.

      I would be untroubled if we moved to the system which pertains across much of Europe where all marriages are registered by the state at the town hall or equivalent followed by whatever religious ceremony the couple devise with whatever celebrant of their chosing. We know that civil society would not collapse if this were to happen. Much of Europe has it and it has much to commend it.

      • william says

        The current situation is indeed as you describe, but using the example you quoted re divorcees, there is no precedent for them as a collective group having strongly argued that their human rights have been adversely affected by this practice.
        There is however precedence for homosexual couples making strong pleas for their perceived rights of equality. There is also evidence that the State is ready to acquiesce in some cases.
        The likely net result – and this is the fear, Ruth – is that the church will be required to treat all ‘marriages’ equally, or the State will exclusively take on the role of administering the legal side of marriage.
        While I would accept that the latter option is not all bad, nevertheless it would obscure the paradigm that the God given creation ordinance of marriage was meant to set before society, as Paul explicates it for us in Ephesians 5.

        • William, it can’t be a surprise to learn that it is not universally held to be the case in the church that marriage is a “creation paradigm” nor that everyone believes that St Paul explicated (explicated?) anything of the sort in Ephesians 5.

          Marriage has changed so fundamentally over the years by both church and state sanction that I think we can treat the idea that marriage, as we have it today, was something ordained by God for all time as mischief making.

          Christian history tells us otherwise. So incidently does the Bible.

        • Oh, and I suspect that if you propose banning divorcees from being married, then all of a sudden, William, you’ll hear rather a lot about their human rights.

  4. The one who wanted a referendum sounded very afraid – what is it they think will happen? apart from anvils turning pink I mean..

  5. Marriage is a secular institution that got taken over by the church, William, not the other way about. You may differentiate “state” marriages from the (to you) necessarily heterosexual Sacrament of Christian Marriage; that being so, why does the “conservative” not object to all those atheist, muslims, humanist, Islamic etc etc etc weddings that take place all across the land?

    Ironic also that you cite divorce. One doesn’t need to look far to find evangelical churches run by pastors who (although “separated”)technically still have wives *and* girlfriends, whereas abstaining from (by no means “Christian” let alone intrinsically so) heterosexual ‘dating’ in such places is a sure-fire way to be thought of a a poove, and to suffer as a result. Perhaps, rather than just mere base hypocricy, that suggests that there is a legitimate *spectrum* of opinion on marriage, divorce and similar issues?

    “Perceived rights of equality” is striking too; do you object to “human rights” per se, or only when gay people seek to claim them?

  6. Rosemary Hannah says

    There is a fear, and I think largely a whipped-up fear, in certain sections of society that gay people are ‘militant’ and will ‘force’ this that or the other. They are perceived as having some kind of unlimited agenda beyond mere equality. I can’t help thinking it is, perhaps, a fear that they will reveal to people that some are more attracted to their own sex that they are currently choosing to admit to themselves, but that is of course psycho-babble. I suspect that the fear may be constructed like this: ‘When I was a child I was unaware that boys could want boys and girls could want girls. As I grew up changes in society forced this on my attention, and it made me uncomfortable. Then I had to accept that I did know gay people, and, that they were able to form partnerships, and it was no longer OK for me to say rude things in public. I have had more change than I wanted, and I was forced to accept things I had not envisaged. I can’t envisage what is coming next, and I just want it all to stop.’ A person thinking like this sees gays as very powerful because they have already been made very uncomfortable by becoming unable to close their eyes to a reality they do not want. No matter how often everybody says that there is neither the desire or intent to force any clergy to celebrate marriage between two persons they do not want to marry, the EXPERIENCE of some people is that things can happen that they do not envisage happening, and that gay people have been part of that. It is because they cannot envisage what will happen they are so afraid. What they don’t envisage is me in an outrageous hat at a family event, and Ruth explaining that the bridesmaids need to stand to one side, and Kelvin smiling when yet another wedding has one of his least-favoured hymns.

    Only last year I was explaining that Duncan would be pleased to hear Kenneth described as his husband to somebody was surprised to hear a gay man whose romance had broken down describe himself as heartbroken.

  7. Rosemary Hannah says

    And I don’t think Paul wrote Ephesians.

  8. Agatha says

    Did God ordain marriage for mischief making? His or ours?

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