Civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples should not be called marriages, the Bishop of Lichfield has said.
The bishop said marriage was being "downplayed"
The Right Reverend Jonathan Gledhill also criticised a "national experiment to downplay marriage", saying the tax system penalises married couples.
He said this had contributed to the increasing number of single parents in the country.
However, he admitted that tax breaks could lead to people marrying for the wrong reasons.
Speaking about so-called "gay marriages", the bishop said: "Most of my gay friends would want to distinguish between marriage, which is something that happens for a man and a woman, and a civil partnership, which allows you to be committed together in a kind-of household for life with your gay partner.
"I think I'd want to make a distinction. It's a bit careless to call it marriage, in other words."
He said the status of marriage itself was under threat, adding: "I think it's just that our legislators have got a bit careless and they've not noticed that some of the things that they've done have not helped home life in our country.
"I think the consequence is that an awful lot more people are having to bring up children on their own that would love to have a partner there."