Letter: Singular view of cohabitation

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Sir: I purchased a copy of Something to Celebrate in July and now I read that the Archbishop of Canterbury is "not the type to stand by while his church sanctions living in sin" ("Keeping the faith - and no messing", 2 December).

The report of the Church of England's Board of Social Responsibility resulted from wide, practical and scholarly consultation, and carries the sub-title "Valuing families in Church and Society". A highly respectable document, its constructive deliberations contrast markedly with the pronouncement by Dr George Carey on cohabitation. The report is sensitive to today's situations, offering balanced comment and a positive understanding of cohabitation.

In this parish, as in most, responsible cohabitation is a result not only of social trends but of economic practicalities. Some young couples have postponed marriage because of acute unemployment problems. Where a dilemma is apparent, love draws a couple together without the need for a formal marriage pronouncement, in spite of the stigma of "living in sin".

In practice, our cultural norm of traditional marriage should not be compared exclusively with the Christian love imperative. So, who is giving wise leadership in this matter - the church's Board of Social Responsibility, Dr Carey or evangelical dogma?

Yours sincerely,

Geoffrey Thompson

Diocesan Reader

Walney Island, Cumbria

2 December