20th July – 10th August 2015

The Australian Prayer Network is joining with numerous other prayer networks and Churches across Australia in calling for Christians everywhere to enter into 21 Days of Prayer (and optional fasting) from 20th July till  10th August 2015 for the defeat of attempts to broaden the definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships.

Australia’s Constitution says, “Humbly relying on the blessings of Almighty God”.  Alfred Deakin, one of the fathers of Australia’s Constitution and Australia’s second Prime Minister, offered the following prayer after the Constitution was finally ratified. “We pray that it may be the means of creating and fostering throughout all Australia a Christ-like Citizenship.”

Henry Parkes, known as the Father of Federation (1901), had a vision for Australia as “one people with a destiny…  we are pre-eminently a Christian people – as our laws, our whole system of jurisprudence, our constitution . . . are based upon and interwoven with our Christian belief . . .”.  We are thankful for our strong Christian heritage and that is why it is important for people of faith to pray and speak up on the issues of our day.

Marriage is under attack again with the threat of a cross-party Bill to redefine marriage to be introduced on the 11th August 2015 into the Federal Parliament.  This is deeply concerning as our children always pay the price when we move away from our biblical foundations. The scripture says in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

To win the battle before us to defend traditional marriage we need a miracle of God’s unmerited favour.  We need an outpouring of the Grace of God!   We need nothing less than a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to inspire a radical change in people’s hearts and minds and to save marriage as it is defined in the Scriptures. 

Included in the call is an invitation to Churches across the nation to celebrate Sunday 9th August 2015 as MARRIAGE SUNDAY by preaching on marriage, sharing homilies on marriage and praying for marriage on this day, just two days before legislation is due to be presented to Parliament to overturn the current definition of marriage to include same-sex relationships .

Please pray:

1.     that marriage will remain in our nation’s laws as a lifelong covenant mutually entered into between a man and a woman according to God’s Word. We ask for a “Miracle for Marriage”. 

2.     for a true spirit of humility and confession to emanate from the Body of Christ and for the restoration of sexual purity within the church flowing out to the whole nation.

3.     that the voice of our children and our Indigenous First Nation people will be heard at this important time. Pray for people of faith and others to be inspired to speak up for marriage and for our children’s future. Pray that people will contact their local Federal Member of Parliament and State Senators and become an active part in the democratic process. We pray for the ability to speak the truth in love.

4.    that Sunday the 9th August will become a special celebration of Marriage in churches across Australia.

5.    for Revival and Transformation for Australia starting in the Church and reaching the whole community and changing the nation. We pray for a great release of the Gospel of God’s love in Jesus Christ for every boy and girl and man and woman in Australia. 

Source: Australian Prayer Network

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Domestic violence has become a “silent epidemic” in the homosexual and lesbian community despite being the subject of increasing scrutiny in heterosexual relationships, according to the AIDS Council of NSW. Roughly one in three lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) couples experience domestic violence. Those statistics are echoed among the general population. Russ Vickery was six months into his first gay relationship when the violence began. “We went out for dinner and then drinks at a local pub … he got angry about something and the night ended with me having a broken nose,” Vickery says.

“After the first time he was very apologetic and it was never going to happen again.” But it did happen, again and again over a period of five years, culminating in Vickery being thrown down a set of stairs at home in front of his children. For Matthew Parsons, domestic violence came in other forms – psychological, financial and emotional abuse. The smallest of triggers would set off his partner in a torrent of abuse, like the time he left the do not disturb sign on a hotel room door. “When we returned, the room hadn’t been serviced for towels, so his partner flipped out and threw champagne, strawberries and chocolate across the room. I spent the night crying in the parking lot.”

Parsons had no control over his own finances either. The final straw came when his partner knowingly withheld from him the few dollars he needed to purchase lunch. “I thought, you don’t even think of me as human, I’m just your play thing. That was a really horrible realisation to come to.” It took both men years to realise they were experiencing domestic abuse, which is little talked about in the LGBTI community. “He kept telling me that when two men get involved in a relationship, things turn physical,” says Vickery, who had been in a 17-year marriage prior to coming out. “I had no barometer so I just assumed that was how it worked.”

Parsons says the gay and lesbian community has spent so long trying to prove their love is valid, they are afraid to ruin it by admitting domestic abuse occurs. “There’s an unspoken fear that if we start to tell the mainstream community that actually sometimes our relationships are toxic and horrible and abusive, then that will be used against us to say, ‘see it’s all unnatural and a sin anyway’.” Vickery likens it to coming out a second time. “A lot of people ask me why I didn’t leave sooner, but I’d come out and told everyone it was a wonderful thing. I didn’t want to come out again.” ACON (formerly Aids Council of NSW) chief executive, Nicolas Parkhill, says for this reason, domestic violence is under-reported within the LGBTI community.

Because same-sex domestic violence “doesn’t look the same” as in heterosexual relationships, people don’t always recognise it, Parkhill says. Unique to LGBTI victims is the fear the abusive partner will “out” them to family, friends and work colleagues, or reveal their HIV status. Within the LGBTI community abuse is more frequently reported by women and transgender males than by gay men but Parkhill says more research is needed to determine the full extent of the problem. He applauds the naming of Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year which has raised the profile of domestic violence, but says “the silent epidemic within this public profile raising is how that plays out in relationships that aren’t perceived as ‘the normal’.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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The NSW Presbyterian Church has proposed the withdrawal of the “whole church from the Marriage Act” if the federal parliament moves to legalise same-sex marriage. If the move is adopted, a couple would marry legally in a registry, then go to the church for a ceremonial “church wedding’’. The dramatic stance comes as Liberal MPs welcomed a proposal from Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson linking gay marriage to new protections on religious freedoms. The proposal comes as Tasmanian gay rights activist Martine Delaney — confirmed as a Greens candidate for the federal seat of Franklin — pursues a legal claim against the Catholic Church over a pastoral letter explaining its opposition to the redefinition of marriage.

Liberal MPs said there was a growing sentiment to defuse the divisive nature of the marriage debate by exploring alternative models. Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm says conservatives need to be won over for gay marriage to succeed and slammed Labor’s marriage equality bill for falling short on the protection of religious freedom. Meanwhile the NSW Presbyterian Assembly has proposed its ministers be prohibited from conducting legal marriages if the law is changed. “If marriage is redefined in Australia the Assembly decided to ask the General Assembly of Australia to withdraw the whole church from the Marriage Act, so that ministers could no longer solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act,” said a July 3 pastoral letter.

NSW assembly moderator Kevin Murray said the church was concerned about exposure to possible discrimination action, but said the main reason was a reluctance to “take part in something that is really not marriage”. “A couple would go to the civil registry. They would get married there. That’s the legal marriage and then they would go to a church and have a church wedding,” he said. Mr Wilson has proposed civil and religious traditions of marriage be separated yet treated equally at law, while wedding service providers could also choose to restrict their business to traditional weddings. The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, welcomed Mr Wilson’s contribution for addressing the effect of gay marriage on religious freedom.

Senator Leyonhjelm’s 2014 “freedom to marry” bill seeks to mollify conservatives by allowing civil celebrants to refuse to marry homosexual couples on conscience grounds, a point he says Labor and the Greens overlook. Ms Delaney said she was taking her complaint about the Catholic pamphlet, titled Don’t Mess with Marriage, to Tasmania’s anti-¬discrimination commissioner. Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome expressed concern with Mr Wilson’s proposed circuit-breaker. “We believe the strong protections for religious celebrants proposed in the marriage equality bills … are sufficient to protect religious freedom,” he said.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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