Moderator's Comments - Posted 1 September 2015
Dr Ryan Anderson is the William E Simon Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in the USA and Founder and Editor of the online journal Public Discourse (www.thepublicdiscourse.com).
Dr Anderson recently visited Australia, sponsored by the Australian Christian Lobby to speak about same sex marriage. I attended his Sydney meeting held in the Strangers’ Dining Room at NSW Parliament House, the following is a summary of his speech.
Why should the church be involved in the debates about the question of same sex marriage? Because we are called to be responsible citizens, we know that law shapes culture and affects belief and behaviour. The way we define marriage, as being between a man and a woman or between any two people, will have a profound effect upon our culture.
We believe that marriage is a creation ordinance, so that Government takes a position on marriage (but not on sacramental issues) because marriage is a basic building block of society. No other institution in our society insists that children should be raised by both a mother and a father other than traditional marriage.
The redefinition of marriage in the US has led to the introduction of three new terms:
- The throuple, a threesome rather than a couple, a further extension of the redefinition of marriage to consist of any three people.
- Monogamish rather than monogamy, the marriage relation is no longer exclusive but sexually open
- Wedlease rather than wedlock, the spouse is leased, marriage has an agreed use by date.
The attitude of “I get what I want” trumps every other consideration. When people are free to do their own thing, the rights of the unborn, whether foetal or fertilised embryo, and of children may well be disrespected.
The legalisation of single gender marriage has led to religious freedom being curbed, those who are conscience bound not to participate in same sex marriage are seen to be bigoted, homophobic and discriminatory. Under US law such have been charged and fined, “bigots” are not tolerated.
The Marriage Equality groupings are not only wanting the right to marry but are insistent that everyone must fully accept the new definition of marriage.
(Reference was made from the audience to Senator Dastyari’s reaction to Katy Faust’s remarks in support of traditional marriage on the ABC’s Q and A, two nights before. Dastyari accused Faust of peddling “American Evangelical clap trap”, offensive views and hate language and further, he stated that there were no reasonable arguments to be heard in support of traditional language.)
In answer to questions from the audience, Dr Anderson stressed the need to engage with our culture over the issue, saying that churches which had not done so in the US now regret their inactivity. Our pulpits, he said, are a place to inform congregations about what God says about marriage and they must not be silent.
I am a member of the pastoral staff of the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Sydney. At our recent staff retreat, we planned the preaching program for 2016. Unusually for a Chinese church we have dedicated three Sundays next year to preaching on what God says about marriage and sex.
Check out Facebook and you may be surprised by the number of professing Christians, maybe some from your own church, who have covered their Facebook image with a rainbow wash, supporting single sex marriage.
The need for Christians to engage their mind, to think clearly, faithfully and lovingly is always apparent but has never been greater.
In my next column I want to outline how we will preach the three week series and some useful resources to help preachers.
I urge you all to preach about this issue as a plebiscite/referendum is an imminent possibility and such a series on such a subject will always be helpful.
Moderator's Comments - Posted 19 August 2015
The latest biography of the late B.A. Santamaria, by Gerard Henderson, records an interesting incident. Santamaria had cooperated with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, to see the successful establishment of the Democratic Labor Party in Victoria, but had less success with the church’s Sydney heirachy.
The Sydney Archbishop Gilroy and his Bishop, James Carroll opposed the establishment of the DLP in NSW. Santamaria worked with James McAuley, a prominent convert to Catholicism, a journalist and a poet, to persuade Gilroy and Carroll to cooperate, but was unsuccessful. McAuley’s parish priest expressed the fear that these political battles in Sydney might diminish McAuley’s recently acquired faith, he responded,
“Why do you think that because my Bishop is a liar and a schemer that this somehow disproves that Christ rose from the dead?”
The new Atheists assert that faith and reason are opposites, so that, religious faith is “unjustified belief”, according to Sam Harris.
McAuley was correct to recognise the reasonable basis of the Christian faith is the historically verifiable, bodily resurrection of Jesus.
Moderator's Comments - Posted 11 August 2015
At Theological College it was suggested that we students read the newspaper, standing up, giving it a cursory reading. I have never followed that advice, I enjoy the daily paper in a comfortable chair, newsprint and all, no online version for me!
Last week, I was asked to speak to a group of men about “how Christians read the newspaper”.
The news is usually confronting: ISIS, travel entitlements, single gender marriage, human trafficking as well as the natural disasters of fire and drought.
Moderator's Comments - Posted 28 July 2015
This past weekend I was in the Victorian countryside and challenged by an Elder for not being more involved in the media with the Church’s viewpoint. He was surprised when I told him about presbyterian.org.au and that I had written 62 columns since becoming Moderator General in September, 2013.
Ministers, please make this website known to your people and consider publishing its contents in your weekly notice sheets!
Today, I attended a Heads of Churches meeting to discuss our response to the gathering momentum for the next session of Parliament to change the Marriage Act to allow for same sex marriage.
God has spoken, a serious reading of Scripture makes clear that marriage is an exclusive union between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Romans 1:18 -32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20).
The recent ALP national conference has made it compulsory, from 2019, for all Labor party politicians to favour same sex marriage. That is incredible! Those promoting toleration, now in the majority, have become the promoters of intolerance, to disagree, from 2019, is to be expelled from the ALP. I cannot imagine the horror which this policy brings to my ALP friends.