Why my Church is wrong on same-sex marriage
I'm a Presbyterian. Pray for me.
In 2013, the Presy General Assembly of Australia affirmed the biblical definition of marriage as a “lifelong union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others…”
The proposition is not unreasonable. Marriage, according to the Bible, is one man and one woman. It's possible to debate if this is what the Bible says, of course. It's not hard to point out that lots of polygamists are splattered about the early part of the Christian Bible, but, well, nobody was perfect then.
Anyhow, let's now cavil. This is, as I say, a very reasonable position. The Church is certainly entitled to say it. And to believe it. Indeed, I rather like it myself, probably because Judy and I entered into such a relationship almost 48 years ago. And we're still in it. So, if the Church wants to say it's the proper definition, that's perfectly fine. For the Church.
This week, my Church's Moderator-General, David Cook, co-authored a statement on the proposal to extend the definition of marriage to same-sex couples. Unsurprisingly, he's not for it. Nor is my Church.
Again, not unreasonable. But somewhere along the way, the logic gets weirder. Cook says "Australia currently enjoys the benefits of a stable society built on marriage and family."
This is opinion. And only narrowly right.
Stability in a secular society is based on the principalities and powers that keep violence under control. Shared beliefs about the nature of marriage are only a tiny factor in creating stability. And when those beliefs are not shared? Well, things fall apart. It's the nature of the modern world. The things that held us together are disbelieved more and more. And since Jesus exposed the wicked (should we say 'sinful'?) root of the sacrificial system that killed him, we have become more expert in challenging long-held beliefs.
And, actually, it's the Church's own fault that it is losing the debate on the definition of marriage. The error was made when the British Church first surrendered its definition of marriage to the parliament. This was in 1753. The Church got the Parliament to do exactly what my Church wants done today. To make our kind of marriage the only legitimate one. But, once the government arrogated (or was handed on a plate) the right to define marriage, the matter was out of the Church's control.
Prior to Lord Hardwicke's Act of 1753, Christian marriage was a matter solely for the Anglican Church. After the Act, the church was now subject to the laws of the land. It lost control. The slippery slide had begun (at least in the eyes of the Church).
250 years later we see the Church trying reclaim its definition from a secular world that has long since created a raft of novel arrangements for living together. The Church's definition of marriage is, practically speaking, but one of a number of definitions. And the Church still thinks it can impose its definition on the world through State Law, as it conspired with the British Parliament to do in 1753.
That horse has long since bolted.