The Church of England has rebutted the Government’s claim that civil and religious marriage are two completely different institutions.
Yesterday the Government launched a consultation on redefining marriage, with the Home Office saying only “civil” marriage would be affected.
But a statement from the Archbishops’ Council said they had “mistaken the form of the ceremony for the institution itself”.
It added that redefining marriage was “a more complicated picture than has been painted” and that the Church of England “is committed to the traditional understanding of the institution of marriage as being between one man and one woman”.
The statement said: “Arguments that suggest ‘religious marriage’ is separate and different from ‘civil marriage’, and will not be affected by the proposed redefinition, misunderstand the legal nature of marriage in this country.
“They mistake the form of the ceremony for the institution itself.
“Currently, the legal institution of marriage into which people enter is the same whether they marry using a civil or a religious form of ceremony.
“Arguments that seek to treat ‘religious marriage’ as being a different institution fail to recognise the enduring place of the established church in providing marriages that have full state recognition.
“The Church of England will continue to argue against changing the definition of marriage, which has supported society for so long.”
The Archbishops’ Council warned that homosexual marriage would “require multiple changes to law, with the definition of marriage having to change for everyone”.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have both said they do not want marriage to be redefined, with the latter receiving racist and threatening emails because of his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Church of England bishops have signed the petition of a grassroots campaign group, Coalition for Marriage, which opposes any redefinition of marriage.
Their petition, which has 230,000 signatures, can be signed here: www.c4m.org.uk