Christian Comment with the Rev Stephen Earley, vicar of Nailsworth with Shortwood, Horsley and Newington Bagpath with Kingscote.

THIS week the Government has introduced a bill that seeks to redefine marriage.

I will have been married 40 years this year and I officiate regularly at weddings but no one has sought my opinion.

Is it right that this institution, which is the basis of our modern society is changed without the people of this country being asked if they agree?

'To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,' are some of the powerful and emotive vows one person makes to another during a Church wedding.

They are powerful promises for one person to make to another - and are for life - 'till death us do part.' When a couple say these vows to each other, they are spoken with the utmost sincerity and often accompanied with tears of emotion - both by the couple and their loved ones who are gathered to witness this very special ceremony.

As a vicar in the Church of England I officiated at 22 weddings last year and have already had two this year with some 15 more to come - so I speak from marrying hundreds of couples.

It is reported that marriage is not so popular - but this is not my experience.

I would encourage everyone to be married in church - I will often say in my address that there is no better place to marry than in church - hotels, beaches, hot air balloons (?) are not the same and the importance of the occasion in two peoples lives is diminished - a frivolous occasion this is not.

The vows made in the presence of witnesses and before God are powerful.

One of my favourite 'thank you' comments was 'the church ceremony was the most special part of the whole occasion.

As wonderful as our reception was, our memories of the service are the ones we will cherish most'.

Is it not time that the silent majority started voicing their opinion - loudly - before it is too late?