FOR expediency’s sake, many journalists are keen to present the gay marriage debate as one of a clash between secular values and religious conviction.

However, there are sound reasons for opposing the change which do not rely on an appeal to scripture.

I myself am an agnostic and yet I oppose the change because gay marriage is a contradiction in terms.

Heterosexual union is not an incidental but an essential part of the meaning of marriage.

Ideally, the basis of marriage is, indeed, love, but its nature as an institution is defined by its social function, and that function is understood to be the provision of the stable conditions necessary for the production and nurture of children.

Otherwise, there is no need for there to be a statesanctioned institution at all; basic legal provisions and mere convention would suffice as it does for many who cohabit.

Why does ‘commitment’ deserve formal recognition at all unless it is of wider social value?

Supporters of the Bill have failed to ascertain what marriage is for. If it is simply a matter of affirming commitment, then surely it is a private affair which does not require society’s blessing or regulation?