Saturday, 15 December 2012

Thoughts on Bishop Egan's letter to David Cameron

Thanks to Father Ray Blake for posting this interesting link to the 'Quo vadis, Petre?' blog, which contains the full text of Bishop Egan's recent letter to the Prime Minister, concerning SSM.

Bishop Egan very eloquently makes the point that equality is relative, because people and their circumstances are different, or as I usually put it, equality is not the same as identity.

This principle is fairly obvious, and applies widely. For example, in my own field of Education, efforts are made to ensure that pupils all have equality of opportunity (i.e. the chance to do their best as learners), precisely by provideing them with instruction, work, and experiences that are not identical with everone else's. Indeed OFSTED inspections are now focussing on the quality of personalisation of learning. There is much research done and being done on different types of intelligence, learning styles, and so forth, all recognising that people are not identical and that they will end up following very different paths in life. What does apply universally, however, is that children should be educated, although this may involve attending very different schools, or even being home-schooled. No-one seems to get paricularly upset that not everyone goes to a grammar school, or a stage school, or attends Oxbridge, or excels in sport, art or music.

There has also been a lot of research done in the fields of psychology and the social sciences, about the contrasting ways that men and women think, and also the importance of male and female role models for children (this has been particularly noted with the vast increase of single parents over recent decades, and the observation that boys who grow up without a Dad around often fair badly).

Why then, is the present government so keen to rush through a piece of legislation that seems to be  'one size fits all' in its approach: the misconception that because marriage is a good thing, everyone should be able to marry, not realising that this will lead to a fundamental change in what marriage means, and possibly remove the very features that make it a good thing in the first place. This is all the more strange when society is still arguing whether marriage is still relevant or an outmoded instution. Clearly this is not something that can be easily and quickly addressed by human reason alone.

There is a story that Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once visited an institution and came across a copy of the book 'I'm O.K., You're O.K.', and remarked that, "Actually I'm not O.K., and you're not O.K., and that is why we need Jesus."

Perhaps there is a reason why human society has always had a very particualr understanding of marriage, why marriage is viewed as something special, dare I say, sacred, and why Jesus elevated Matrimony to a sacrament. Maybe, just maybe, the Church has got it right, after all, she is infallible in matters of doctrine.

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