The Marriage Debate and Christian Freedom
We are at a critical moment in the history of our nation. Our society has gone through enormous social upheaval over the past 50 years. We have experienced many changes that have profoundly affected our way of life in Australia. Forces within society have sought to change the way we view sexuality, marriage and family. The Christian approach to these questions has been steadily rejected.
A campaign is now being waged with great determination to change the legal definition of marriage. What humanity has understood for millennia is now being called into question. Ten years ago none of us could have imagined that we would be where we are today. And we have to ask ourselves where will we be in ten years’, or five years’, or even two years’ time? Changing the legal definition of marriage is not the end game but one step in a program to radically change the nature of our society, and in particular human relationships.
We Christians know that God created humanity in a wise and provident way. We know that man and a woman were created for each other and through marriage they become husband and wife, a union grounded in natural complementarity. We know that a father and a mother are best able to nurture a child. We know that each individual needs to know their full identity as being born of this man and this woman.
This is God’s good plan. This is God’s good, good plan. And for best results we should follow the Maker’s instruction.
Marriage Will Always Remain Marriage
Marriage is a God-given natural reality and not the creation of governments. Indeed governments have never sort to create the meaning of marriage but simply to surround this institution with protective laws and customs for the good of society. Any attempt to legislate to change our society’s understanding of marriage is not just opposed to our Christian faith, it will compromise the true nature of the human person; it will deny the truth of the biological complementarity of the male and female which provide the only way to generate new life.
Marriage is and will always be what it was in the beginning. Even if the legal definition is changed, marriage will always remain marriage, the union of a man and a woman.
If the Marriage Act is changed we will witness the imposition a false understanding of human sexuality on our children. This is already happening through the Safe Schools program in our state schools. Children are being taught radical programs on sexuality and gender without the knowledge or consent of their parents. If the definition of marriage is changed these efforts will move to a whole new level. Christian schools in particular will come under immense pressure to teach a form of sex education that they deeply know is false and damaging or risk losing their funding. We will all experience the pressure to comply.
The Risk To Religious Freedom
What is particularly at risk is the fundamental human right to freedom of religion. A right we always presumed to have, but now it is being taken away from us.
The Anti-discrimination Commissioner here in Tasmania considered that my action of promoting standard Christian belief about the nature of marriage was possibly in breach of the law. I was called to answer before the Commission. This occurred when the law stated that marriage was to be between a man and a woman. Already we are witnessing direct attacks on people who hold to the traditional understanding of marriage. What will it be like if the law is changed?
There is clear evidence that anyone who publicly stands for traditional marriage will be targeted, as we saw in the case of the brave women who were featured in the Coalition for Marriage advertisement.
Already people are fearful for their jobs. They are frightened to say anything. We are being silenced by threat and intimidation. How much worse can things become if the law is changed?
The Shaping Of Western Civilisation
Christianity has played a fundamental role in the development of Western Civilisation. Our political structures and many of the legal rights and protections we enjoy are the outcome of Christian ideals.
If the legal definition of marriage is changed Christians will have no protections as we go forward. Already there are voices saying that any exemptions we may be granted if the law is changed will be removed. Christians will have no certain and fixed protection under the law. The consequences for the Christian community will be significant and widespread.
Let us not be in any doubt, there is a powerful movement afoot to completely rewrite the meaning of sexuality, gender, marriage and family. This is becoming more and more evident. We instinctively know that this will be to the grave detriment of individuals, of families and of society as a whole. It is a bold and dangerous experiment which will do immense harm.
We cannot be silent. We cannot be cowered. We must speak up, not just for what we believe, but for the future of our nation that we love, for the soul of our nation, Australia.
Archbishop Julian Porteous