Marriage is an honourable institution and Church of England clergy should do all they can to protect it from redefinition, the chairman of Reform has warned.
The Westminster Government is planning to launch a consultation in March on how, not if, to redefine marriage.
But Revd Rod Thomas has urged clergy to do all they can “in the coming months to prepare our people well to respond to this consultation and make our voices heard.”
Rev Thomas warned that redefining marriage to allow same-sex marriage would fundamentally undermine the institution.
Writing in the Church of England newspaper he said: “First, it would undermine the stability of society. If marriage is no longer one of the ‘givens’, then it simply becomes a matter of prevailing opinion.
“If the present Government can alter its definition, then how do we know it might not change again in the future? It becomes something that is malleable rather than being rock solid.
“The government’s own studies have shown repeatedly that children thrive best in a home where there is both a father and a mother.”
He continued: “Secondly, it would reduce the significance of marriage. If marriage becomes primarily about loving commitment, then, as important as this is, the significance of marriage as a union – a permanent bond – between two people who were made to be physically compatible, is eroded.
“This union is demonstrated when children are born – the single result of a union of two people of the opposite sex. This doesn’t happen for every marriage – but the fact that it is the best context for nurturing children demonstrates the essential goodness of heterosexual marriage.”
He added: “It’s not an issue of equal rights – all of those have already been given through civil partnerships.
“It is an attempt to redefine marriage so that the link with child-bearing and child-rearing is broken and so that any idea that marriage is a gift from God is demolished.”
A recent poll revealed that nearly 90 per cent of churchgoers were concerned that changing the definition of marriage would lead to schools being required to teach the equal validity of same-sex and heterosexual relationships.