You Couldn’t Make It Up!

That revered institution, the Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4, is still carrying on churning out platitudes. I always read the Rev. Dr. Peter Hearty’s merciless skewering of the Thoughts. Yesterday, we had Canon Angela Tilby’s thoughts on gay marriage.

The poor woman was a bit caught in the middle, as she likes to think of herself as a liberal, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to say that the Churches had got it wrong.

I particularly liked the moment when she actually said:

The point about sacraments is that they can’t be made up…

Ah, but Canon Tilby, the whole point is that they are made up. Humanity has created its gods, not the other way around, however much you might want to believe that.

Meanwhile, I suppose we are into hearing more of the same from churchmen (and women) saying that same-sex marriage is simply wrong. The UK has clearly got some distance to travel before they arrive at the point that we enjoy here in The Netherlands. As a commentator (who lives in The Netherlands) wrote in response to Canon Tilby’s piece:

It’s obvious from the pronouncements from a variety of god-botherers over the last week or so, that they still think their Church, (whichever one it happens to be), still owns marriage, and consequently they have the right to decide who may or may not get married. But marriage, in this country [the Netherlands] at least, is not a religious institution, but a social and legally binding secular contract. Although couples may choose to have a religious ceremony, the marriage still has to be registered with secular authorities in order to be valid. Weddings not so validated, as sometimes happens with ones carried out according to Islamic rites, are not recognised in law, and the couples do not have the rights of married couples regarding property, custody of children, inheritance, etc.

As I understand it, there is no suggestion that any church or religious institution will be forced to conduct gay marriages, but equally they should have no right to dictate who should or should not be allowed to marry outside of religious buildings.


Here, couples who are religious will always have their civil marriage ceremony in the local Townhall first, before trooping across the market square into the church for the religious marriage ceremony. Even Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima did the same. They were married, by Amsterdam’s Mayor at the time, Job Cohen, on the 2nd February 2002 in a civil ceremony in the Great Hall of the Beurs van Belage, before going to the Nieuwe Kerk (the New Church) for the religious ceremony.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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