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The evils of the Relationships bill

2 March 2005


The evils of the Relationships (Statutory References) bill.

Society has long made distinctions and sought to preserve standards because those standards were firstly considered to be derived from a divine Law-Giver; and secondly were deemed beneficial for society. One of those standards has to do with honesty. Theft was punished, because it is a divine decree that “thou shalt not steal”. Dishonesty among politicians was also dealt with summarily. Traditionally, the honourable thing to do for a politician who broke the rules was to resign, but we have high-profile cases in New Zealand where those standards have been mocked and ridiculed.

Since the so-called “enlightenment” when men thought they could do away with God, the standards of Western societies have been increasingly challenged by the dominant culture of secularism. New Zealand is one of those societies. One standard which has been and continues to be vigorously undermined is the institution of marriage.

English law never did understand de facto relationships to be any kind of marriage. The phrase common-law wife sometimes used of a de facto female partner is also a misnomer. The correct term is concubinage. In England, as far back to the twelfth century, marriage was marriage because it was sanctioned by the church. This did not mean that those who had a non-church wedding were not considered married, but if any difficulties arose within a marriage, they were referred to the church. Those living together outside of marriage were punished as fornicators. Men and women were considered married when they had undergone either a formal or informal commitment to marry.

Formal marriage was a union solemnised by the church “in the face of the church”; that is literally at the door of the church. The church did not marry the couple as such, but only solemnised the marriage -the couple married themselves. An informal marriage involved mutual promises of commitment by the bride and groom, but did not involve a religious solemnisation.

In the thirteenth century Pope Innocent III ruled that all marriage throughout Christendom be conducted by the church, although informal marriage continued. The counter-reformation council of Trent rendered all marriages outside the church unlawful, although, again, informal marriage continued in Protestant England, though there were disadvantages to informal clandestine marriage.

The church deemed informal marriages sinful, although they usually tolerated them. Marriage registers began to be kept in England in the sixteenth century, though not uniformly throughout the land. By 1694 informal marriage was made a criminal offence, yet paradoxically informal marriages were still thought to be legal unions.

In 1753 a bill finally outlawed informal clandestine marriages in England. From that time a valid marriage required either the publishing of the banns in church or obtaining a marriage licence.

Those under 21 required parental permission to marry and two witnesses were required to make a lawful marriage. Names had to be recorded in the register and it was a crime to alter the names in the marriage register. Jews and Quakers were exempted from church marriage, although everyone else, Protestant and Roman Catholic had to be married in church. Interestingly, the royal family were also exempted from the Act. It was only in 1836 that a civil ceremony was introduced into England.

The term concubinage best describes the de facto union today. The word is derived from a Latin word concubinatus, which means “union of a man with an unmarried woman”. Now that marriage has become so easily dissolved in our “no-fault divorce” system, and concubinage now accounts for some 25% of relationships in New Zealand, we are reaping the fruit of a rejection of marriage commitment.

The burgeoning underclass of single women who receive the domestic purposes benefit ensures that they and their offspring will remain in a poverty trap subsisting on taxpayer handouts; the easy divorce which shatters the lives of individuals and damages the children of such homes; and now the absurd notion that homosexuals and lesbians can be married in all but name further undermine marriage as God intended it.

Soon it will be possible to receive all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage as a result of the civil union and relationships bills. Now that our society has neither a strong church nor strong families, we will continue to suffer the moral decline shared by most of Western societies; and we will continue to see an increasing polarisation between those who live to please God and those who live to please themselves. With the likely passing of the relationships bill, we can only expect a further weakening of the fabric of decency once held together by strong families and strong heterosexual marriages.

The relationships bill, therefore, in so far as it gives all the rights and privileges to those in concubinage, those who are civil unionised and those of the same sex demeans marriage. Marriage is something once considered in our society as a creation ordinance ordained by God involving a commitment between a man and a woman to be bound together as man and wife in order to fulfil God’s mandate to fill the earth and make it a place of worship of the one true God.

Now concubinage and homosexual unions are considered to be equivalents to marriage; so that in a generation it is highly likely that the term marriage will also be applied to what are now called de facto relationships and homosexual civil unions. This transition has already happened in Belgium and Holland, and the homosexual lobby are counting on it here.

In so demeaning marriage, our government and those who elected them are offending God. They are telling society that family life is not about a mum and a dad and the kids, but about a whole set of different configurations, which will ultimately prove to be destructive of all decency.

And yes, it is the government’s fault. The government is supposed to be an ordinance of God for good, a good that God defines (Rom. 13:1-5). Instead it now ignores the claims of God by calling evil good and good evil. Even though this godless legislation seeks to break down the barriers of decency so that none are “discriminated” against in some modern form of “family” structure, our pagan leadership is still forced to admit that it is lawful to discriminate. The government is compelled to acknowledge that it cannot make a church employ a person who is a homosexual, or solemnise a homosexual civil union if the church does not want to.

This is an acknowledgement that there is such a thing as lawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference. And what responsible boy scouts organisation or youth club will be likely to employ a homosexual to lead groups of young boys? There will always be implicit discrimination grounded on sexual preference, because a large segment of the population will continue to be repulsed by those who seek to live perverted lives. While one day the pendulum will swing back the other way, in the meantime the government’s agenda to undermine marriage will have done huge harm in our society.

Our government is buying into the deliberations of United Nations as the foundation of moral judgements and is, in turn, inflicting those judgements upon New Zealand society. The Bible, however, can only ever be the basis of our social ethics. As the writer of the proverb puts it: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Pr. 14:34)”.

This relationships bill will also attribute the title “parent” to homosexual couples of children who may not even be their own offspring. In the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (1988 No 4), the definition of a child has been changed to include being a daughter or son of a civil union partner. Similarly a parent now comprises anyone who “is in a civil union with the parent”. This is a transformation of a culture. Parents were once man and wife, now children will have to submit to homosexual “parents”.

If the blood relative parent dies, then the same sex civil union partner presumably becomes the sole parent. Thus the frightening spectre of a homosexual parent raising some one else’s child may now become common. A sexual pervert will now have the approval of law to possess custody of small vulnerable children. One can easily imagine a scenario where a homosexual parent will marry another homosexual so that the child is now legally under the control of two strangers, both sexually perverted.

Similarly when it comes to personal property rights, a female spouse deserted by a husband who now takes up with another homosexual may leave his property to the male civil union partner. It may be impossible for the original wife to receive her rightful part of the estate of the deceased former husband who had once vowed life-long married support and nurture “until death do us part”.

In the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (1988 No 4), a civil union partner now becomes a lawful relative, presumably with a legal claim upon the property of their homosexual partner. The rights of a child to their parent’s estate will also be transgressed as that the estate goes to the homosexual partner who has no blood connection with the child or children of the deceased, potentially leaving the child no access to what should be rightfully his.

I urge all MPs to vote down this legislation and show that they still possess some sanity. I heard Mr Robson on TV the other day admitting that he had made the wrong decision when he voted for the lowering of the drinking age.

Had he followed the advice of decent New Zealanders who told him and others why they should not lower it, there would be many young people alive today who were killed at the hands of a drunken juvenile driver. Decent New Zealanders are saying “listen to the Scriptures, which is also the true voice of reason and please vote down this legislation”.

Garnet Milne


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