As you know, we have been asked to vote on the definition of marriage. Do we uphold the traditional view of marriage between a man and a woman or do we change it?
There has been a lot of debate around this issue. And the issues are complex and deep-seated. People have been hurt and relationships have been strained. I am grieved that it has been difficult and almost impossible to have civil debate around this issue without accusations of hate speech. And that we have not seen open discussion coupled with respect and love.
Firstly, I want to tell you that as a person who has known the love of God. I love all of you. And I love those in the LGBTI community as my neighbour.
That is, God’s Word teaches us that he made us in his image and he saved us despite our sin. And those in Christ Jesus are called to do the same. All are welcome at church, no matter their sexual orientation. And all are called to follow Jesus.
Though I know what I say may be hard for some of you to hear, I want you to know that as your pastor, I must speak to you with a clear conscience. So, I want to take a few moments of your time to help you understand why I will be voting “no.” I will make my point from 4 different perspectives.*
The 1st is the Bible. What does the Bible say about marriage? To keep this short, let me just make 1 main point from 1 passage
Marriage isn’t ultimately about us. It’s about Jesus and the Church
Paul makes this point in Ephesians 5:31-32. The context is Paul’s explanation of the relationship between a husband and wife. The husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (v.25). The wife is to submit herself to her own husband as she does to the Lord
And Paul concludes the section by quoting Genesis 2:24. That is, before the fall and in the context of creation. God instituted the idea of marriage.
Ephesians 5:31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
Marriage is the formation of a new family unit. And this happens when the husband and wife become one flesh. This is only naturally possible if the union is between a man and a woman. And it’s only in this natural union that biological children can be born.
That means that anything apart from the union of 1 man and 1 woman is not biblical marriage. And the bearing of children in a homosexual marriage is not only unnatural but impossible without the introduction of a third party. Whether that’s by adoption, sperm donation or surrogacy. There are therefore wider implications for our society to consider which are far more complicated than the simple change in the definition of marriage.
But as Christians, what’s even more important is what marriage points to. The relationship between Christ and the Church.
Ephesians 5:32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
That is, the very idea of marriage isn’t just God’s idea. It’s a shadow of God’s purpose in presenting to Jesus a bride – the church.
Therefore, as Christians, if we recognise marriage as anything but the joining together of a man and woman. We undermine the ultimate reality of Christ and the Church.
I recognise the majority of people in Australia are not Christians and so will not subscribe to this ultimate reality. However, I believe that God’s institution of marriage is God’s common grace for the good ordering of society. That is, God’s good gift to all. Just as he gives rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. So we have seen the goodness of the institution of marriage. As families have created the very fabric and stability of our society.
The 2nd point I want to make concerns the definition of marriage. If the definition of marriage is changed then it’s no longer marriage but something else.
So, if a String Quartet no longer includes 2 violinists but a pianist and a drummer. It’s no longer a String Quartet. Pianos and drums aren’t stringed instruments. So, to insist on calling it a String Quartet would simply be to confuse.
Now, I understand the arguments for love and equality. But unfortunately, I don’t think they can be grounds for a redefinition. Not every loving relationship should be called marriage. And a redefinition to allow homosexuals to marry will still discriminate against polygamy and polyamory and those who want to marry 12-year-old girls, for example.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that in 2008 legislation was changed to ensure equality for couples in same-sex de facto relationships.
Let me quote the statement MP Tanya Pilbersek gave in parliament in February 2011.
…my constituents gratefully acknowledge the historic reforms made by the Labor Party which delivered complete equality for same-sex de facto couples in 2008 in every piece of Commonwealth law, in areas as diverse as superannuation, social security, veterans affairs, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and many others…
Elsewhere she said
The reforms amended 85 Commonwealth laws to eliminate discrimination against same sex couples and their children
The tradition definition of marriage is not about discrimination. Just as a String Quartet comprises 4 stringed instruments. So, marriage is between a man and a woman.
The 3rd point is historical. The natural union between a man and a woman has been the fabric of every society, in every time, in every culture, in history. To change the definition of marriage is to go against the grain of history.
Not only has the traditional definition of marriage been the bedrock of every society, no other culture before us has ever endorsed same sex marriage. That doesn’t mean we can’t go against the grain of history, but it is to claim that what is proposed is wiser and will be better for society than what we had before.
The last point I want to make is about the impact this will have. Someone who understands politics and public policy is John Howard. As our former Prime Minister, he has spoken out about concerns a change in the definition of Marriage will have on parental rights, freedom of speech and religious freedoms.
We don’t have to guess what may or may not happen. In fact, I would go so far as to say we don’t even have to look at what’s happened in America and the UK. We see it in our own backyard.
This week, Margaret Court was dumped for her role as Cottesloe Tennis Club vice-patron because of her views of marriage And a couple of weeks ago Pansy Lai, a GP in northern Sydney, appeared in a commercial advocating for the ‘no’ campaign. As a result, she was subject to bullying which included a petition organised by GetUp! seeking her deregistration as a doctor. She’s even received a death threat which she has reported to police.
Such intimidation and bullying is appalling to say the least.
You see, what is concerning is that freedom of speech is being eroded. The bedrock of our democratic society can no longer be taken for granted. If the ‘loudest voice’ wins and those with different views aren’t able to speak freely and safely, it should be the concern of every person no matter what your views are.
As the French philosopher, Voltaire, said
I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.
The issue is not so much about our freedom of religion. But our freedom to express what we think and how we feel and not have to be afraid for our livelihood.
I hope you can see that what I’m trying to say is this. The best way we can love our neighbours is:
- to uphold the Biblical view and definition of marriage
- to accept the wisdom of our forebears and appreciate the impact a redefinition will have on our children and our society
Now, I know this might raise some questions. The wonderful thing is that there’s time to ask those questions. Our vote isn’t due back till 7 November
So, let me encourage you to ask your questions and to make an informed decision. You can speak to me or one of the pastoral staff. You can also read some helpful articles that I’ve linked here.
Let me conclude with Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
*Categories borrowed from http://evchurch.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Marriage-–-can-it-be-same-sex-And-does-it-matter-Andrew-Heard-September-2017.pdf
Pastor David Huynh