The English are famed for being somewhat suspicious of ideas that originate from foreign parts – and much has been rejected on the grounds that it was not invented here over the years. I suspect this may be true of other nations as well, but I will leave their nationals to make any appropriate confessions.
Our dalliance with rather unconventional (and slow to achieve success) methods to produce nuclear power provides but one example. Whilst the rest of the world used boiling or pressurised water reactors, we ploughed a lonely furrow with MAGNOX and the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor. Whilst both these technologies were eventually to yield electricity to the UK grid, no-one else seems to have followed in our footsteps.
However, it was not nuclear power but my recent attempts to make humour from the concept of animal husbandry which led to this post. Whilst I would not suggest that people should necessarily be free to marry their animals, or indeed their fridge-freezer, the topic of people marrying each other has been in the news of late. The Church of England seems to have been much exercised by this and seem extraordinarily keen that if two people are to marry then they should have one, and only one, Y chromosome between them. I am not entirely sure why 3X+Y shared between a couple is so much better than 4X or 2(X+Y), nor even why the couple is the correct combination in the first place. Nature is on the whole rather more flexible in its arrangements – and has been around rather longer than us, so perhaps it has something to teach. However, I would be willing to admit that nature never went to the trouble of labelling its “ideas” and so could be said to have eschewed marriage entirely.
Given their strong views on the matter, one could be led to believe that the CofE had invented marriage. Now, I’m no AJP Taylor but I’m pretty sure that the CofE didn’t exist prior to the 16th century – I’m fairly sure some chap called Henry was involved in its formation (well, him or Hitler – it must be one or the other based on most of the history that makes it to TV, with the honourable exception of BBC4). Despite the difficult circumstances that clearly existed before the creation of the Anglican church, people do seem to have manage to marry each other. Even if we think of the CofE as the inheritor of a Christian tradition, then this really only takes us back to the first century AD and having only recently finished Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars I can say with some confidence that there seems to have been quite a lot of marriage going on in the years BC. I presume Christianity obtained its ideas from Judaism, and that came with Abraham out of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia. So, I presume that the CofE must be claiming its authority to define the number of Y chromosomes allowed in marriage from the ancient kingdom of Sumer. A very impressive people, the Sumerians, in many ways (though they did believe the universe was a flat disk enclosed in a tin dome, which rather reminds me of a meal being delivered at a flash restaurant) but after 5000+ years I feel it might be time to take a slightly more flexible approach to the nature of a married couple. However, I am single and celibate so what do I know? (For the avoidance of doubt, I should make clear that I am not a Roman Catholic priest).
The country can do with all the joy it can find in these difficult financial times, and allowing gay people to marry seems a very cheap way to add to the sum of human happiness. So, I say let couples marry independent of how many Y chromosomes they can muster! If the CofE complain, you can always ask them what happened to Anu, Enki and Enlil as they seem so keen on the traditions of old Sumer.