Reverend professor DAVID SECCOMBE is an ordained Anglican minister, former rector of St Matthew’s Church in Shenton Park, and Locum Tenens at St Albans Anglican Church, Highgate. In this week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER he argues against changing Australia’s marriage laws.
MARRIAGE was here before Australia’s laws and will be here when they’re gone.
Change requires thought and care.
Christianity too is old; no one can speak for all Christians.
You will find them on both sides of most debates.
The following is a contribution from the minister of an Anglican church in Perth.
We understand the quest for equality, but think that “marriage equality” won’t achieve it.
Instead, it will create two kinds of marriage, and not everyone will be able to recognise them as both the same.
Consider an example.
Australian Rules football is too rough for women and men to be able to play in the same team.
Suppose there was a movement for Aussie Rules Equality.
We could change the rules to make the game less rough.
But would it still be Aussie Rules? It would not, and there would still be people who wanted to play by the old rules.
Marriage Equality won’t achieve equality because the relationship of two people of the same gender is different from how marriage has always been understood.
A change of law will change marriage, but not bring equality.
This is one of many problems we see with redefining marriage.
Let’s be honest: many Christians see same-sex intercourse as a sin against God.
This can only change by redefining Christian morality.
Some, it is true, seek to do this, but is the result still Christianity, or a modern mutant? Many Christians think that what was sin for thousands of years cannot now be acceptable.
We are left with the same problem as before.
Those who believe Christianity is true will continue to play by the existing rules.
But Christianity is flexible on many things; could it not be flexible on this? Christians believe that God has made Jesus the king of a new race of human beings, and that he has promised forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who turns to him.
Jesus ordered his followers to make his teaching known, which includes a view of marriage and sexual relations outside marriage.
To abandon this would be to deny what we are.
It would be like telling a homosexual person to be something else.
Equality will not be achieved by a new definition of marriage, unless it is enforced, and dissent suppressed.
To be honest, this is one of the things we fear.
For there are many reasons why we will never abandon the Christian view of marriage.
Firstly, according to our Bible, the marriage of a man and a woman is given to us as a foundational component of human society.
Second, the New Testament teaches that it is a picture of God’s ultimate relationship with his people in the future world.
And third, it warns that those who cling to practices it forbids will miss out on the new world (the kingdom of God).
Christians cannot in good conscience fail to warn people about this.
The Bible says little about same-sex attraction.
We acknowledge homosexuality as a fact, and recognize people’s right to live with whom they wish.
We welcome same-sex attracted people in our churches.
We respect them, and do not see them as unequal.
We do not believe same-sex orientation is always set in stone; people move.
But we doubt that all same-sex attracted people will thank us, if we change the law, only to find that the marriage they wanted is no longer marriage as it was, nor marriage as some will continue to understand it.