Oh, there really is some sloppy thinking around the marriage issue. Norma Allan (29 March) says: 'the most important function of marriage is surely the procreation of children and their custodianship until adults...this deems same-sex marriage inappropriate'.
No, Ms Allan, there is a fatal flaw of logic in your statement. Most would accept that, historically, one, if not the, major purpose of marriage has been the raising of children but that has never been an exclusive purpose. The English Common Prayer Book states that the first purpose of marriage is 'the procreation of children'. The second purpose (highly contentious in today's world) is as 'a remedy agaynste sinne and to avoide fornication', in other words it keeps sex within socially acceptable boundaries. The third defined purpose however, is of some significance in the present debate: 'for the mutual societie, helpe, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, bothe in prosperity and adversitye', in other words for life-long comfort and companionship.
No-one has ever suggested, not even the Catholic Church, that those who are beyond child-bearing age, or those who for whatever reasons are infertile, may not marry. The procreation of children is one of the most important purposes of marriage but it is not an essential purpose. If two loving 60-year-olds agree to wed, who would refuse them on the grounds that they cannot fulfil the 'most important function' of marriage? Let us take that one step further. If Ms Allan seriously believes that the procreation of children is an essential function (as distinct from one of the several possible functions) of marriage is she suggesting that heterosexual couples who do not wish to bear children should be denied entry to the status of wedlock? By whom and after what process of inquisition?
The perfectly legitimate purpose of marriage for many is, and always has been, 'for the mutual societie, helpe, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, bothe in prosperity and adversitye'. The Church of England at least got that right and that purpose, the pursuit of loving companionship, is not unique to heterosexual couples.
Judith Jaafar's view (28 March) of the inevitable victory of Scottish nationalism: 'Alex Salmond will not change a Labour or Tory voter's mind, eloquent as he is, but their family, friends and acquaintances will, through a process of gentle education and attrition', reminded me of E P Thompson's evocation of the inevitable (equally gentle) victory of socialism: 'a crisis not of despair and disintegration, but a crisis in which the necessity for a
peaceful revolutionary transition to an alternative socialist logic became daily
Both are essentially religious views – for the true believer, in the future the people will gradually see (as Thompson would emphasise) that there is no alternative (Gordon Brown used to be fond of quoting Thompson) and will join the faithful in paradise.
The nationalists thus seem to have a 'vision' advantage over the unionists: for the nationalists, there is that shining city on the hill to which we are heading – for unionists such as myself the future is more of the same, but we'll make it work better, which is kind of difficult to say on a banner or drive a crowd into ecstasy.
Yet there are obvious problems with the faith vision: the reality of Scotland is complex: as Salmond himself graciously recognised in his remarkable post-victory speech, a recognition, alas, that has not been sustained by the SNP. The proponents of independence may yet pay for their failure to grasp that you can oppose nationalism without being of the devil's party: when faith clashes with the world as it is, the world tends to win.
I stand corrected by recent comments from Ronald Partridge and Chik Collins in my ignorance of the Kilmarnock song repertoire. Listening on tinny laptop speakers, I missed the 'Kille' rather than the 'Billy' Boys from the chants coming from the crowd.
However, I still stand by my observation that the 'Killie/Billy/whomever Boys' is a very distasteful song, and that any decent-minded human being would not sing about being 'up to your knees' in anyone's blood. The very line inplies that extreme violence and blood letting is something to revel in. I don't see any dignity in singing songs like that.
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