To my shame I had to check the spelling of the title :(
Recently, I've come across a few comments relating to civil partnerships / marriages for homosexual couples. There's obviously a lot of hot air generated on both sides of the ethical debate in the context of the Church, and lots of prejudice, poor argumentation and random Bible verses get thrown around.
However, a regular argument that surfaces in Christian comment on the issue is that such partnerships undermine marriage and family. How does that work? 'Straight' people aren't suddenly going to abandon their marriages for gay relationships (or if they do, it probably means they have embarked on an unhappy marriage in an attempt to deny their sexual orientation). Likewise the sexual orientation of gay people isn't dependent on whether civil partnerships are available or not. It a non sequitur
It got me thinking (dangerous, I know). Presumably forms of marriage evolved in societies as ways of providing some external and objective account of who is attached to whom, property rights, custody of children, etc. (also acknowledging it was used as a form of patriarchal control over women in many communities). Having said that, it is also possible to see that there are benefits to the wider community in the definition of partnership relationships being other than simply the arbitrary decision of the couple. It enables them to be identified and understood and even provides some accountability between couple and community.
That might all sound quite conservative, but isn't it advantageous to all of society for gay relationships to have the same opportunity to be orderly and accountable? My understanding is that for a lot of gay people, that is exactly what they want.
Whatever the Christian community might conclude in its views on gay relationships (and that may take eternity - literally) it really doesn't make any sense to suggest that loving and lifelong commitments expressed in gay civil partnerships represent any threat to marriage. In fact, it is worth reflecting on the fact that ther are civil partnerships which are more loving, faithful and authentic commitments than many 'conventional' marriages.