Gay Marriage: My Six Initial Thoughts

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The gay marriage debate is about to become dinner table conversation in Australia. I’m not pleased and I won’t stop arguing a case. Yet, thinking this through, the weight of social pressure is heavily against those who see wisdom in holding to a traditional understanding of marriage in this lucky country of ours.

There are already a proliferation of articles doing the rounds of Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want to add another lengthy argument but I do want to share six initial thoughts. I hope they are helpful for us all as the conversation continues.

1. Disagreeing is different to hating or bigotry. This is an important distinction that we must all hold to – no matter what side you are on – as gay marriage becomes even more a prominent part of our national discourse. While I disagree with one of my staff on the best NRL team. I don’t hate him or his team. Similarly, whilst I disagree with many people on the issue of gay marriage. I don’t hate those who disagree with me and I don’t hate the LGBTIQ community. I fear that we’ve forgotten how to disagree, and instead we’ve rushed to assume bigotry rather than actually try to listen and understand each other. The more listening and understanding we do on this issue the better.

2. People who hold a view sincerely can be sincerely wrong. This includes me. This includes you. Sincerity is not a measure of truth. Neither is the passion with which one holds a view. Matters such as gay marriage must not be decided based on how sincerely people want to be married or how sincerely others don’t want to allow it.

3. Emotional hurt is no reason to say yes. People can be hurt concerning all manner of things, but it must never be a determining factor in decision making. While emotions are useful for helping us express opinions and understand ourselves, they’re not always useful in determining what is right.  For example, my doctor doesn’t let me off the hook from a tetanus injection because I am crying. I realise that some people want to be married and the law does not allow it yet. I know many may be grieved by this. Yet, we need to remember that people have been hurt by being unable to be married for generations. Singleness is but one cause of sadness with respect to marriage and yet we have never acted to fix this.

4. Marriage is a thing. Marriage is not like playdough that can be moulded into anything you want it to be. Marriage is. Just like a man is or a woman is or a child is, marriage is. What this means is that any proposed change will actually damage or destroy marriage as we know it. The importance of this is that, for many people who are married, this move changes the nature of what they have entered into and what it actually is.

5. Marriage has a purpose. Its distinct purpose is to bring together a man and a woman in unity such that from their union might come more people. A theological purpose can be added to this (for those who think theology matters) – that it might reflect the relationship and union between Jesus Christ and his people, the church. If marriage is changed in the way proposed, the purpose for which it was instituted will be lost and its purpose will become something entirely different.

6. Marriage equality is a misnomer. A clever and emotive one, but a misnomer nonetheless. By allowing gay marriage, Australia would not actually be embracing equal marriages or, even, equal access to marriage. Instead, it would be embracing a revised and diverse marriage. This issue is not really about giving equal access to marriage, it is about revising marriage so more people can be included. Moreover, as there is no talk of polygyny, polyandry or group marriage and there are still restrictions on age for marriage. Even if gay marriage is passed, we will still have marriage inequality.

So there are six initial thoughts that I hope promote some conversation around your table.

At the end of the day, I would love to see our government lead the way in the world by labeling gay marriage in some new and creative way. Leave marriage as it is and create something brand new that people can sign up for. Surely this has to be an acceptable solution for us all?

  • Pemalite

    Marriage predates the Bible, on that basis alone the Bible should NOT be used to define it.

    If we were to take the Bible literally, allot of us would likely be stoned to death, there are far more important messages that the Bible tries to teach, instead such messages are lost when all we can do is focus on directed hate against a minority.

    There is actually no logical reason to deny same sex marriage, except for a possible theory in a book that was written in an uncivilized time for a completely different civilization and then translated into another language and then interpreted. Things get lost and changed. Did you know the word “Homosexual” is not that old? Hundred years at most.

  • Interestedobservor

    I do not understand why 1% of the population marrying destroys marriage? Yet the divorce rate is not seen as a negative? Don’t forget 73% of marriages are conducted by a civil celebrant. Finally marriage equality already exists. If you are worried that marriage is going to be destroyed, then has your ship not already sailed? Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, Argentine, France, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada and parts of the USA already extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

  • Brek Martin

    Maybe a creative new name could be given to Christian marriage, since, like Christmas, any claim Christians have on it exists soley in their imagination, and furthermore, any existing marriage affected by the changes that will happen was worthless. It is a marriage biult on the definition of marriage that is playdough. It’s only a matter of time before this whole issue is nonsensical.

  • Monica Scott

    I think that your presumption that changing marriage will destroy it is erroneous. Not all changes are for the bad. Many are for the good. Just too narrow a way of thinking in my book. We live in an era when marriage is declining, and divorce is increasing and yet you still espouse marriage as the ultimate way of living. We then would you want to exclude two people from committing their lives together as we do. And if it’s just because you want to hold onto the “traditional” way of life, thank goodness your theory doesn’t work, or else we’d still be living in caves and rubbing two sticks together to keep us warm. And the end of the day, most people just want love – to love and be loved. And for most of them, the way of showing their commitment to this live is by marriage. Why should any of us deny this to anyone?

  • Dan

    I don’t believe you have to be religious at all to appreciate that marriage is not the same thing as a same sex union. I mean the family unit is by no means a creation or an idea of the state or any religion. The state by no means invented marriage, it simply recognized the intrinsic nature of this unique pre-existent relationship, and the absolute necessity to protect and preserve it for the benefit and sustainability of the state – no human society would even exist apart from this family founding union.

    The state simply defined then that which was inherent. Marriage is by very definition ‘the union of a man and a women..’, a union naturally oriented towards the bearing (procreating) and raising of children – an institution explicitly aimed at the stable bonding of husband and wife, father and mother, parents and their offspring. This is the uniquely inherent nature of the union which forms (origins) and structure every society that ever existed. This is marriage.

    Changing the definition of marriage to include same sex couples fundamentally changes the very nature and significance of the relationship; it doesn’t make it inclusive, it simply obliterates the intrinsic meaning of marriage and substitutes it for something quite different. This is not a matter of making the institution inclusive; this is a matter of radically redefining the very
    meaning of marriage itself.