Here in the country where I was born and raised (Australia) every citizen who is eligible to vote (who is on the electoral role) will be asked, via a voluntary postal vote, whether the definition of marriage should be changed.
Amongst other things the Marriage Act currently:
- sets the marriageable age and allows the marriage of minors in certain circumstances
- establishes the framework for marriage ceremonies. Parties can marry in public or private, provided there is an official celebrant and two witnesses to the declarations between the parties. Particular words are prescribed for marriages solemnised by civil celebrants which reflect the understanding of marriage in Australian law. Religions which have been recognised as requiring monogamy and permanency as promises of marriage are permitted to use their own ceremony.
- establishes the framework of the regulation of authorised marriage celebrants (both religious and non-religious)
- deals with issues of consent, void marriages and legitimacy of children
- creates offences relating to bigamy, under-age marriages, and marriages not performed according to the required notice periods etc
- defines marriage to mean ‘the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’
The change proposed is due to the last point and if it does occur then two persons of the same gender can be married and their marriage will be legally recognised.
From what I have observed from much of the writing and articles of those who are advocates of this change, there appears to be a prevailing paradigm that is being put forward, a paradigm that states:
Those who will vote ‘yes’ – who desire a change to the definition of marriage, will do so because:
1. They are tolerant.
2. They are loving.
3. They are accepting (of Gays & Lesbians).
4. They are informed
Those who will vote ‘no’ – who want the definition of marriage to remain unchanged, will do so because:
1. They are bigoted.
2. They are haters.
3. They are homophobic.
4. They are stuck in the past
The problem with this paradigm is that it does not even allow for the possibility that there are those who believe and uphold to the traditional view of marriage, who will vote ‘no’ who are
1. Not bigoted;
2. Not haters (of the LBGTI community);
3. Not homophobic.
4. Who are informed and not stuck in the past.
My encouragement to all Christians as they prayerfully vote is to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is our model, and the Lord is very clear about what marriage is and what marriage is not. In the Gospel of St Matthew chapter 19:1-6, the Lord Jesus reinforces to his disciples that marriage originates with God, that the essence of marriage is in the union of a man and a woman. (See Mark 10:1-9 also).
1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (ESV)
It is also equally clear from the Gospels that our Lord Jesus Christ was not bigoted, loved all people, was not homophobic, nor stuck in the past.
Thus the affirmation of marriage being between a man and woman and the subsequent rejection of same sex marriage is not due to hatred, bigotry, ignorance or homophobia, but is consistent with the Holy Scriptures, with the Lord Jesus Christ and also includes acknowledgment that marriage as God defines it, is the best structure for society and for the procreation and raising of children in the secure nurturing wedlock of a mother and a father.
In the vote I will be voting “No” to Same Sex marriage for the above reasons and my humble counsel and encouragement to all Christians is to do the same, remembering that the Lord Jesus Christ is our model in both what we believe and how we conduct ourselves.