Paddington Uniting Church – As a congregation supports Marriage Equality.
I can’t believe we are still seeking equality in our day and age for LGBTI people. Conservative voices, like the ACL have mounted a campaign against the safe schools program, which I hope is not a symbol of the upcoming campaign in this plebiscite on Marriage Equality. As a church we have a number of rainbow families, 2 mums with kids, 2 dads with kids. And all the arguments against LGBTI members in the bonds of family named in marriage doesn’t hold up in my mind. It is about including families with LGBTI members are families too and if marriage is the mark of family, kinship bonds, then there is no reason to exclude.
As much as I hate to admit it, it is the mainstream religious cohort which is continually typecast as the negative voice in this debate, while Progressive Religious voices continue to struggle to break into the debate.
Michael Jensen’s opinion paper (on ABC) argues that marriage should remain between a man and a woman because: “A child is a tangible expression of our sexed twoness.”
While it maybe all neat and idealistic, but realistically we have so many expressions of family, divorcees can re-marry. Blended families exist. Plus there are many single parent families, what if they found a partner and chose to marry, would the argument continue to exclude such couples from marriage here?
In our Church Community, we affirmed the support for Marriage Equality a number of years ago.Bringing Bishop Gene Robinson to Sydney, with his message that God still believes in marriage which is inclusive brought the point home to many.Since then many have shifted in their views.
Evangelical Baptists like Nigel Chapman of Surry Hills argue that while the Bible may appear to prohibit same-gendered sexual activity, the difference in context between the biblical texts and our modern acceptance of orientation and faithful commitment is huge – plus with the possibility of having children (with IVF and newer technologies) – means we are dealing with a completely different. The question is around then the naming the blessing of family well.
Dr Brownson evangelical biblical Scholar refer to Romans I, saying that this text is not as a commentary on same gendered, loving, committed relationships but something else; while Mathew Vines has a nice little YouTube video on a biblical defence of same sex marriage.
In our Church community, we celebrate and include all people, including our rainbow families, with kids. For PUC, marriage is simply about inclusion of families into the social, economic, political and spiritual structures of our day. Coming to terms with including same or no normative gendered loving and committed relationships that are open to kids, the wider church continues to struggle with even acknowledging the existence of them, let alone naming or blessing them.
Many non-religious (and some religious) people are growing in their condemnation of Christianity’s obsession with, and public voice around, sexual morality (as if it is the primary sign of what the christian gospel has to offer). Often such Christian speak is about resourcing the Bible in such an un-critical/contextual way as to cause a greater drift from meaningful debate about the common good and human flourishing to binary gender arguments that refuse to recognise any minority or diversity in creation; in an attempt to consolidate power in God’s name and the supremacy of a particular Christian tradition.
Unfortunately many religious people in this city have been educated by their leaders that you can’t be gay and Christian. Some clergy have vowed that if their churches allow gays to marry then they would choose to leave their jobs or placements. This is both sad and evidence of how strong this consolidated power is.
As Christians struggle to find what faithfulness means, in a world where “Christian” behaviours have been so linked to inappropriate sexual behaviour and biblical immorality, finding our Christian voice in a new landscape may well be what the Spirit is calling us to do.
I believe it is about time we Christians began to find a new public talk that is virtuous of the whole of creation flourishing. That a Jesus ethic of Love that is inclusive of neighbour would drive a critical dialogue around what are the vices and virtues involved in meeting the basic human needs in our world and community. And then the deeper question, as we are dependent on creation and earth: how is the justice of the earth protected and not raped and abused in the meeting of these basic needs?
For me, as someone who happens to be gay, and has the privilege to share my life with my partner Scott, Marriage Equality is important. Strangely though, this is less about my individual rights, and more about a just society where family and love can be affirmed and celebrated not devalued or even oppressed. The virtues of Christian marriage can be embraced by queer folk as ideal and practice.
9th of April 2016 I had the privilege to speak at a marriage equity rally. (video thanks to William Brougham)