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.