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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Gay marriage?

From the Pew Sheet, 29.04.2012

As always with media statements my recent mention in the NT News regarding questions of so-called ‘gay marriage’ will have caused concern to some with opposing views. No offence is intended, and dialogue is encouraged!

Within the Christian community primary arguments against marriage of homosexual lovers have been based either on biblical texts or social history. There are a small number of biblical texts, Old Testament and New, that appear to make comment on homosexual acts. Broadly speaking they are taken to dismiss homosexual acts as either contrary to nature, offensive to God, or both.

I do not take these lightly. Nevertheless, the context in which such texts were written is a powerful ingredient in interpretation. Many Old Testament texts are dismissed by Christians as being ‘old covenant’. There is a form of self-service in this: texts that suit Christianity are maintained, while others, such as cleanliness codes, are dismissed. This is intellectually dishonest: our faith gives permission to look deeper. Hebrew models of marriage were not monogamous, and were predominately about property management—wives and children were property. I do not recommend a return to this! Nor do I think, as some do, that there are in scriptures any models of homosexual relationship. The question is not addressed except in contexts of rape or breached hospitality (see Ezek.16:49-50). Likewise New Testament texts do not address monogamous love as represented by, historically, Patrick White and Manoly Lascaris, or  more recently Sophie Allouache and Penny Wong . Biblical texts condemn  the opportunistic and unwholesome acts more associated with toilet graffiti.

Arguments from history strike a similar issue: marriage until the modern era was generally a property contract; at times of divorce this remains true. Private acts of partners outside the contract were ignored. It is this double standard that marriage reform groups are seeking to overcome. Of course some monogamous homosexual unions will fail as spectacularly as heterosexual unions. Human beings, especially in relationships, are flawed. But official endorsement of homosexual union may at least reduce the stresses experienced by many homosexual men and women as they live disjointed lives forced on them by the legal illegitimacy of their love. At the very least it may reduce teen suicide.

I realize there are arguments for ‘union and legal protection but under another name’, and I argued for that for many years. In the end I have been persuaded by  arguments that this generates the status of ersatz– or Claytons-marriage, a second class existence that remains unsatisfying to those who cannot have the ‘real thing’. I realize there are arguments proposed against gay unions fostering, nurturing, or ‘begetting’ children, but I have long been convinced that love and nurture are far more important in  the wholesome formation of a child than the genetic identity of the loving and nurturing stable parent-figures. I would be happy to enlarge on those views, if asked, at a later date.

So, yes, I have put my name to a letter, now signed by 77 clergy, supporting the Australian Marriage Equality in their attempts to extend the legal definitions of marriage to include monogamous gay relationships.

έ̉ν Χριστω̣̃ – (Fr)  Michael
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