Former archbishop (ret’d) in Daily Mail

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said, in an article for the Daily Mail, that the proposal to change the status of marriage ”constitutes one of the greatest political power grabs in history.”

The state does not ‘own’ the institution of marriage. Nor does the church.

The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have [sic] the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.

So who should? Lexicographers?

Whatever. There’s a poll, and the yes everyone should have the right to get married no matter what their sexuality answer is winning by an avalanche. Maybe that’s who gets to redefine the honourable estate of matrimony: people who vote in polls at the Telegraph.


  1. Kevin says

    I do believe that poll has been Pharyngulated.

    So, yes, the majority of voters in that poll should be the ones to decide. :-)

    The great squidly horde should rule the planet under the benevolent gaze of its multi-tentacled overlord.

  2. Mike B says

    The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church…

    It’s nice to know when a churchman’s not just talking shit but making shit up.

    In the middle ages the English population regarded marriage as an agreement between two people or two families without any priest being involved – often it was no more than a man saying ‘I marry you’ three times, or a woman’s understanding that the two were married. The church, of course, despaired at this informality.

    Hence it was the church that spent centuries trying to enforce formal marriage ceremonies on the population. Church courts continually tried to insist that a priest/religion must be involved (though sometimes giving up and allowing an informal agreement to stand).

    The point is, he’s lying through his teeth saying marriage precedes the church. It was his church that continually sought to regulate and redefine popular marriage so it became a religious ceremony.

    (For reasons too boring to explain I’ve just spent some time reading church court records in the British Library.)

    In short, it’s not just bollocks, it’s hypocritical bollocks.

  3. says

    If expanding the institution so that more people are included under it changes the definition of that institution, then the same argument can be applied to any other institution that has also had its scope expanded. One such institution is voting. Granting women the vote expanded the scope of voting so that more people were included under it, and therefore by this guy’s criteria women’s suffrage changed the definition of voting.

    If Carey were coherent, then he’d be against “changing the definition of voting” and therefore against women’s suffrage. He’d be brutally reactionary, but at least he’d be consistent.

    If Carey is not against women’s suffrage, then he’s incoherent. He cannot exempt women’s suffrage because that “change of definition” happened in the past, because that leads to the absurd position that the morality of changing the definition of something is dependent on when it took place, which seems awfully close to moral relativism. He cannot somehow deny that women’s suffrage changed the definition of voting, because he’d therefore be using inconsistent criteria to determine whether something’s “definition is being changed”. And he cannot accept that women’s suffrage “changed the definition” of voting, and then arbitrarily exempt it from being objected to, claiming it is somehow special, because that is the fallacy of special pleading.

    In other words, Carey is full of shit.

  4. stonyground says

    The thing that baffles me about the likes of Carey when it comes to the question of gay marriage is, what the hell are they afraid of? What great calamity do they imagine will befall us once the inevitable happens and gay marriage becomes the norm? It is now inevitable, they lost the argument several years ago.

    Carey should also be reminded that his Church has a long and infamous track record of opposing reforms that were intended to make our world a little bit fairer by revoking some old discriminatory law. Even worse than that, this track record also extends to waiting until the battle (that they lost) is long forgotten, and then recasting themselves as the bold reformers who were fighting for the rights of the minority. If they run true to form, in twenty years time, Carey’s successors will be claiming that he was a champion of gay rights who fought the establishment to have gay marriage legalised.

  5. GordonWillis says

    Carey is a bigwig Christian, so he believes that the LORD frowneth with great might upon all them that be unnatural and weird and commit abominations and fornications and other assorted deviations, for some reason (or should I say, for some cause, as reason doesn’t appear to be the LORD’s forte). He just doesn’t want to say so. Hence all this twaddle about tradition and definitions. At least he’s not going on about tribulations — though he probably will, if he doesn’t get his own way. Perhaps we should advise our meteorologists and geologists to be on the watch for another fit of divine wrath. Maybe they could employ Carey? Cheaper than all those balloons and seismometers, surely?

  6. says

    Well, if the State doesn’t own the institution of marriage, then it had better stop handing out marriage licenses and giving spouses special treatment w.r.t. inheritances, proxy medical consent, income tax, etc. But the State cannot grant those considerations unless there exists a legal status called “married”, and the State must own (ie: control, define) at least that much of the institution, or there will be no clear way of deciding who has those legal privileges.

  7. Brigadista says

    So who should? Lexicographers?

    It’s interesting how the religionists seem to have hijacked the word ‘marriage’ as exclusively applying to their own narrow definition, insisting that terms such as ‘partnership’ be used for anything that isn’t duly sanctioned by their rules, and yet there doesn’t seem to be anything in the etymology of the word to support this argument.

  8. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I’m still laughing over you saying:

    Former archbishop (ret’d)

    Does this mean he’s archbishop again?

    Brought to you by the department of redundancy department dept.

    and the letter D and the number 2.

  9. says

    It’s an ol’ Monty Python thing. They would have absurd letters to the editor/producer/BBC from people with things like “(ret’d)” in their signatures.

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