Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Legal rights for cohabitees

This is being considered in the UK at the moment. Some Christians oppose it out of a concern that it will further undermine marriage by making the two more synonymous, and encourage cohabitation by making it a safer option.

These concerns may be justified. However in my experience pastorally, cohabitation is an extremely unjust and onesided set-up. Very often the woman in particular is keen to marry and is committed to her partner though he is unwilling to formalize their relationship and give her and any children the security they need. This is incredibly selfish on his part, and it does mean that if the relationship ends, the woman and any children are more often than not the ones who suffer. In the light of this, it is interesting that the OT marriage laws made provision to try and protect women and children against just this sort of abuse by their men.

Bearing that in mind, although we should keep pushing marriage I do feel that God's concern for the downtrodden means that we should support legal rights for those who are so often abused in cohabiting relationships today. Who knows, doing so may actually disincline some from cohabiting because they realise they cannot do so without having to take responsiblity for their partner and children.