Same-sex marriage


  • The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 introduced same-sex ‘marriage’ in England and Wales.
  • The 2013 Act specifically excludes same-sex weddings within the Church of England.1 It also states that no church or church minister can be compelled “by any means” to carry out a same-sex wedding.2
  • The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 introduced same-sex ‘marriage’ in Scotland, with similar protections for church ministers who disagree with same-sex marriage.
  • The Northern Ireland Assembly has opposed the redefinition of marriage on three separate occasions. The most recent vote, in April 2014, saw MLAs voting 51 to 43 against redefining marriage. MLAs rejected a similar motion in 2013 by 53 votes to 42, and in 2012 the plans were voted down 50 to 45.3 However in January 2015 a legal action commenced in Belfast seeking to force same-sex marriage on Northern Ireland.

Biblical arguments

The Bible clearly teaches that marriage is the exclusive and lifelong union of one man and one woman. Genesis 2 records that marriage was instituted by God from the very beginning and hard-wired into human society.

On various occasions in the New Testament Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul both refer back to Genesis 2 as the foundations of our understanding about marriage (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31).

For more, read our publication: ‘The biblical basis of marriage: God’s gift for the whole of society’.

Key points

  • True marriage is not an arbitrary construct; it is an ‘honourable estate’ based on the different, complementary natures of men and women.4
  • Despite promises made by the Governments at Westminster and Holyrood, the legislation includes inadequate protection for individuals with a conscientious objection to the redefinition of marriage.
  • The law must be changed to allow freedom of conscience so that people can decline to provide goods or services for something they do not agree with or support.
  • If marriage is solely about love and commitment what is to stop it being redefined further? Evidence from around the world shows that once marriage is treated as having a flexible definition, pressure grows for that definition to be changed yet again.5
  • The coalition Government had no mandate to force through such controversial legislation. Same-sex marriage was not in the manifesto of any of the major political parties at the 2010 General Election.6
  • The debate surrounding the redefinition of marriage predominantly focused on the rights of adults, rather than the needs of children.
  • The Government argued that same-sex couples were denied the legal recognition available to heterosexual couples through marriage. Yet everyone had access to marriage so long as he or she met the legal requirement. Someone in a homosexual relationship rejects the possibility of true marriage by choosing a ‘partner’ of the same sex.
  • Over two-thirds of a million UK citizens signed a national petition opposing the redefinition of marriage. More than 50,000 also signed a petition in Scotland.7
  • Christians will disagree with those who support same-sex marriage. But disagreement is not hatred. People disagree with each other all the time. And in a democracy, people should be free to disagree.
  1. 1Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Section 1 (3)-(5); Section 11 (6)
  2. 2Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, Section 2 (1)-(2)
  3. 3BBC News Online, 29 April 2014, see as at 27 October 2014; Northern Ireland Assembly, Official Report, 1 October 2012, page 40
  4. 4Book of Common Prayer, see
  5. 5The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage in 2001. In 2005 three-people relationships were given legal recognition through a “cohabitation agreement”. See The Brussels Journal, 26 September 2005, as at 14 October and Marriage, registered partnership and cohabitation agreements, Government of the Netherlands, see as at 14 October 2014. In Canada there have been major attempts to legalise polygamy through the courts using the precedent of same-sex marriage, which was introduced there in 2005. See, 4 February 2009, as at 14 October 2014. Mexico City introduced same-sex marriage in 2009, and in 2011 a Bill was proposed allowing a marriage contract for a minimum of two years at the end of which instead of divorce, the marriage could just not be renewed. See The Daily Telegraph, 30 September 2011; BBC News, 29 September 2011.
  6. 6House of Commons, Hansard, 11 December 2012, col. 168. The only tentative undertaking was given in a document called ‘A Contract for Equalities’ which was published on 3 May 2010 and stated: “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”
  7. 7See and as at 6 November 2014