Good for Peter Hitchens, about whom I have blogged before. He was on the Today programme this last Sunday morning, defending marriage as between a man and a woman. Apparently there is pressure mounting to change the status of civil partnerships to actual “marriage”. This is no surprise. Hitchens, a convert to Anglican Christianity, was challenged on his view: was this battle for “equal rights” not just the same as the battle for racial equality, for the right of those of different races to marry each other?
Hitchens replied that racial prejudice was irrational, based on the colour of one’s skin, and could never be defended. Marriage between a man and a woman, on the other hand, can be defended by reason, custom, tradition and many other arguments that he did not have the time to go into at that moment.
I recall that when I once blogged about marriage and the work of the Ruth Institute in the US in defending it, I received a post that said polygamy is at least as ancient a tradition as marriage. I think of polygamy as simply a debased form of marriage, arising in certain primitive cultures, and pandering to male desire and female vulnerability. Christianity ennobled marriage by making it a sacrament, thereby raising the dignity of both men and women, but it has always been part of the natural law.
Hinduism predates Christianity by over 1,000 years. I have a set of prints that I bought years ago in Simla, depicting the miraculous life of the god Krishna. They show him being introduced to the lovely Radha and then enjoying a swim with her and a lot of other court ladies. Perhaps this is his polygamous phase. But the final print shows him and Radha gracefully sneaking off on their own to gaze at the moon – just like Romeo and Juliet from another culture and another age.
The battle to keep marriage as it has always been defined will be aired this coming Wednesday at an Intelligence Squared debate taking place at the Royal Geographical Society at 6 pm. The motion is, “Stop Bashing Christians! Britain is becoming anti-Christian”; those defending it include Peter Hitchens, Lord Carey and Howard Jacobson; those against include Matthew Parris and Dom Antony Sutch OSB. Tickets for the debate have now been sold out, but you can vote on the motion online. For the record, I voted for it. When I last looked we had 165 votes while those who disagreed had 181. There are 11 don’t knows.