SYDNEY ANGLICAN SYNOD APPROVES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BOOKLET
The Sydney Anglican Synod has expressed deep concern about moves to remove gender from the marriage act and has authorised the distribution of a booklet outlining the consequences of same-sex marriage for families and society. Debate on the issue was led by Bishop Michael Stead, who chairs the Archbishop’s Task Force and the Dean, Kanishka Raffel. “The whole question of whether we are allowed to have a discussion in Australia on same-sex marriage is in a state of flux,” Bishop Stead said. “The Senate has blocked the plebiscite machinery legislation, so the plebiscite is off the table (at least for now). But this latest political manoeuvring does not change the essence of the motion; it just changes the timing.
The motion is premised on the idea that we can have a civil and respectful public discussion on this issue – and not just can, but must – that it is essential that we should have a debate, before making such a fundamental change to the definition of marriage in our country.” The motion reaffirmed what had been reaffirmed at the 2015 Synod – ‘ that marriage, as a gift from God who made us male and female, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.’ “We must begin that conversation in our own synod. It is my confident hope that we will model in our own debate the kind of respectful engagement – with the issues and with people – that we want the rest of Australia to practice.”
Bishop Stead cited a survey that said the majority of Sydney Anglicans were opposed to same-sex marriage with only about 8 percent wanting to see it practised in churches. “But,” he said, “many Anglicans were reluctant to engage in the debate because they didn’t know what to say.” “As a result of the survey, the Task Force was convinced of the need to provide resources for Sydney Anglicans. The booklet ‘what has God joined together?’ is the first such resource. The booklet aims to engage, equip, and embolden Sydney Anglicans to be a part of the debate on same-sex marriage.” The bishop says the tone of the booklet would be ” moderate and reasonable and non-defensive, and not narky or hysterical.”
He said it would seek “to present a positive argument that marriage as God designed it is a good thing. It gives a good way of communicating that message to people who don’t share our belief in God.” Dean Kanishka Raffel spoke of restrictions in free speech which had followed the introduction of same-sex marriage in some other countries, and local issues such as a push for anti-discrimination laws to apply to religious bodies and the recent anti-discrimination action against a Catholic bishop in Tasmania for producing a booklet on marriage. “We are respecters of all people, recognising that all people are made in God’s image and loved by the God who hates nothing that he has made,” Dean Raffel said. “We earnestly desire that people should know and live in accordance with the truth that sets us free.”
The Dean said the booklet would help Anglicans “embrace the opportunities that our way of government provides for public debate and discussion.” He said during the debate “We zealously defend the right to worship God in Spirit and in truth and to teach what is in accordance with His Word. We defend the rights of others to do the same in accordance with their conscience. And we believe that it is not the role of government to regulate such beliefs or to mandate certain beliefs while outlawing others,” the Dean said. Bishop Stead said although Labour had blocked a plebiscite, there may be ‘pressure for “Plebiscite round 2” next year. If not, we could still have “plebiscite round three “in conjunction with the next federal election, which would take away the ‘cost’ objections to a plebiscite.’
“Many Australians have not made up their mind. Many Australians who are nominally in favour of same-sex marriage do so because they think it will make absolutely no difference to them or to other marriage. But as soon as people are made aware of the consequences of redefining marriage, for family and children, for gender, and for freedom of speech – the support for same-sex marriage falls away. Engaging on this issue is not a lost cause,” he said. Production of a booklet for Sydney Anglican churches was approved and the motion included encouragement to ‘engage lovingly and respectfully in the debate.’ “We must be against all forms of hatred and vilification of people, especially the LGBTI community,” Bishop Stead said. “We don’t exercise our democratic rights with any special sense of privilege, as though the church can direct the state. But the converse is not true either, Christians must not be excluded from the public debate simply because we are Christians.”
We have prayed for this Rally at all our prayer meetings in the last few weeks, and this morning a few of us “older prayer warriors” that have been involved with City Women since it started, prayer walked the area from 6.15 till it started at 7 am. The wind was blowing a gale to start with and there were heavy clouds hanging over the city, but we prayed them away, and by 6.45 the sun came out and it was an absolutely beautiful morning. We were getting more and more excited as men started to arrive from 6.15am on, and they just kept coming and coming. A sausage breakfast was available put on by the ‘Men in the city’ so people gathered around the bar-b-que and talked. There was a lovely family atmosphere from the beginning, and it stayed all through the meeting. It was absolutely amazing!
We were especially excited to see a whole lot of grade 12 School Students there from different schools as well as men of all ages. We were a bit worried when we saw 5 motor bikes arrive, as we had heard rumours that there could be some opposition to the Rally and protesters had said they would come and create a disturbance. Fortunately they turned out to be from the GOD SQUAD, and there was no disturbance at all. One of our younger Pastors was the MC and the Mayor had called the meeting. He is a wonderful Christian man and has supported this move from the very beginning, so he opened the meeting with an excellent talk about the impact Porn has on our city and his desire to see that lessened. He pointed out that it was the first step of a long journey, but he was 100% behind it.
A very courageous woman then spoke about the effect her first partners porn addiction had on their marriage and her personally, and how she had struggled to regain her self-confidence since the breakup of that relationship. She has only just married a beautiful man 2years ago who respects and supports her, and he had encouraged her to be brave enough to speak about her previous experience in this gathering. A man also spoke openly about his pornography addiction which has started quite innocently by finding a porn magazine on the road. He spoke honestly about the effect it had on his marriage, and his consequent divorce. He had since had counselling and older stable men had been able to “walk beside him” in his recovery, so as he said there is a way out of this addiction.
The former CEO of the Heritage bank has brought together a group of concerned citizens to fight this as well as many other serious issues that are destroying our families to day. They call themselves Toowoomba Together and he was able to bring startling statistics that prove that the main cause of domestic violence is caused by porn addiction. Also that most kids by the age of 11 have viewed porn somewhere as it is so readily available on social media. It was clearly pointed out that there is help for anyone who is struggling with this addiction and the Mayor led the whole group of men in this pledge: “I acknowledge that viewing Pornography promotes exploitation of women and violence against women and it damages family life. I commit that I won’t view porn and I will help to create a city free from porn.
It was not possible to count the men attending this morning but there would have been at least 200 or more. Now we’re are praying for the after effect and also pray protection over the people in the fore front of this battle. Please stand with us in this.
Source: Personal account written by a person who attended the rally
SENATE’S BLOCKADE OF PLEBISCITE MIGHT BACKFIRE IN THE LONG RUN
The thwarting of the Turnbull Government’s election mandate for a people’s vote on marriage might work to secure the preservation of marriage in the long term, according to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). “Australians have had enough of the same-sex marriage debate,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said. “After six years of relentless activism in the Parliament, it should be time to move on. I think that’s what most people want – it is not a high priority issue. “But sadly those pushing for change are unlikely to stop, despite the issue now being gridlocked.” Mr Shelton said it would be a breach of faith with the Australian people if Government members undermined the Prime Minister and crossed the floor to vote on a private member’s bill.
“Unless Labour wins the next election, this issue is likely to be gridlocked for many years to come,” he said. “Labour, the Greens, Senator Derry Hench and the Nick Xenophon Team may have unwittingly done the nation a favour by allowing more time for people to understand the consequences of abolishing the gender diversity requirement in the Marriage Act,” Mr Shelton said. “More and more stories of legal persecution and demonization of people who believe in man-woman marriage are emerging from overseas and in time this will filter more into the Australian conscience. “We’ve already seen Archbishop Julian Porteous spend six months tied up before the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission because the commission believed Christian teaching on marriage might be hate speech.
“We’re already seeing Obama-style degendering of school toilets and change rooms through the controversial ‘Safe Schools’ program.” While it was disappointing the February 11 plebiscite was now off, there was time for a more mature debate that got beyond slogans like ‘equal love’ and ‘marriage equality’. Mr Shelton said it was disappointing that the rationale for blocking the people’s vote was based on the false premise that the debate would be hateful and ugly. But as Western Australian Liberal Senator Chris Back told the Senate, “if there has been evidence of intolerance and hate speech it is not from those people who support marriage as it is currently defined”.
Mr Shelton said if Labor and The Greens really believed the debate would be damaging they wouldn’t let it drag on for years into the future. “Unless advocates for change are willing to wait another three years, I expect the idea of people’s vote may well be revisited in this parliament,” he said. “A people’s vote is the fairest way to resolve what is the biggest social change in a generation. There is nothing unusual about an issue of this magnitude being taken to the people,” Mr Shelton said.