If all the Churches are so upset over the issue of marriage for all, it is not so much because that the rights and privileges of the union before the mayor will thus be extended to couples of the same sex, but rather because religious authorities are horrified by the use of the word “marriage” in respect of this union.
And this matter of semantics raises an ambiguity of the history of France, that needs urgent clarification: for more than a century at least, the Churches must no longer be masters of words from the field of law; they are in charge of morality only, and for their followers only. The law is secular; only morality is religious, for those who so desire.
If we give in to this request, we will soon realize that Christian extremists, without knowing it, are playing into the hands of extremists from other faiths who will also want one day, to impose to a secular society their understanding of words and the rhythms of life: how could we refuse to some what we would have continued to give to others?
Indeed, the word “marriage” was introduced in French in the 12th century, first used by the Catholic Church, was then adopted by secular authorities. These secular authorities could have used another term to name the contract joined into by two people before the mayor of the city; they did not do so. And now, the word “marriage” is irreversibly secular. And the national representation has the right, if it so decides, to grant the use of this term to any union for which it wishes to strengthen the contract value.
If the Churches are not happy, let them find another term (perhaps that of “religious union”) to name the ceremony they offer to their followers, as a complement for marriage, which has become a civil ceremony. Moreover, one notes that there are countless marriages without religious sacrament, while the opposite is excluded.
In fact, now, it is advisable to go a little further and eliminate from our secular society the last remainders of these nomenclatures of religious origin. For example, public holidays should only be secular, such as January 1, May 1, July 14 and November 11. Others, whose names still retain a religious connotation (All Saints’ Day, Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Assumption Day) should be given secular names (“Children’s Day” for Christmas and “festival of freedom” for Easter) or be considered religious holidays, which citizens could choose as public holidays, among other public holidays for other religious holidays (Yom Kippur, Eid, birth of the Dalai Lama).
This proposal is not a whim on the part of a layman, eager to assert an illusory victory over the religious. It is instead a measure of public safety, that would give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, if we do not want other religions, with maybe one day followers outnumbering the Catholics, to rightly claim that some days be declared a public holiday during their own religious holidays.
One might argue that France is the eldest daughter of the Church and that gives her some privileges. However we will find it hard to convince future generations that the privileges of the nobility have been abolished while those of the clergy should remain as strong as ever.
Religion is a private matter. The words used and the rituals practiced in religion should not in any way influence the democracy of tomorrow. Fraternity, in the 21st century, would have everything to gain from it.