Written evidence from Rev Jim Charles [HAB0260]
As a vicar, I have the great joy of presiding at wedding celebrations. For me, the highlight of this happy occasion is the solemn vows made between the bride and groom. They are promises made in the context of a covenantal relationship which is intended not just to last for the day, but for the rest of their lives.
If taken seriously, these vows lead to the creation of a new family unit which will provide love, stability and nurture for the next generation. These families, centred around a committed marriage relationship, provide the best foundation for a stable society.
I accept that cohabiting couples can also provide a loving environment in which to raise children. However, in the absence of vows made to each other, in the presence of witnesses, there is no necessary binding commitment. Walking away from such a relationship can simply be as a result of changing personal preferences, rather than breaking a solemn covenant.
There are already legal safeguards in place to ensure that the children of cohabiting relationships are treated fairly and equally. I see no need for any formalised legal status for cohabitation, and would in fact see such a move as a further erosion of the position of marriage in our society. Is the desire to produce a legal framework to enable two people to live together in a committed relationship. We already have such a framework – it is called marriage – and ‘marriage lite’ can only undermine it.