In a recent poll for Christian Today of over 1,400 church-goers in the UK more than two-thirds said that Christians should not cohabit before marriage, and nearly as many also believed Christians should marry only Christians, rather than those of other or no religion.
Following years of negative publicity about the role of women in the Anglican church and same sex partnerships the research conducted by Christian Research, a member of the Market Research Society, provides an interesting current insight into the social attitudes of at least those people who conducted the online poll in June. The Church of England estimates the number of regular church goers is 1.7 million so the sample size is very small, nonetheless the findings are statistically valid.
Of those researched over one in twenty was divorced or separated, compared to six out of ten who were married. More than one in twenty had remarried after divorce.
Nearly eight in ten felt it important to marry another Christian and more than eight in ten did indeed marry another person of the same faith. Ten per cent had not been Christian before they married.
The proportion of UK Christians in civil partnerships is about half the number of people in the general population. The survey respondents also appeared to be more open to same-sex relationships than the media’s current portrayal of the Anglican communion might suggest. Of the respondents in the survey one in 200 had entered a same sex relationship. 0.6 per cent of the respondents were in a civil partnership, slightly more than the number cohabiting.
Earlier this year, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that he accepts the right of Parliament to change the law and that the Church should continue to demonstrate the love of Christ for every person.
The Archbishop voted against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2003 when it came through the House of Lords.
As a snapshot of a statistically small self-selecting group the survey nonetheless contradicts the perceived conservatism of the Church of England and the Catholic churches who believe that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Photo from Karsten Berlin via Flickr