Correcting the misrepresentations of the Australian Archbishops against same sex marriage

Correcting the misrepresentations of the Australian Archbishops against same sex marriage

Xns and marriage equality

The recent comments by Australian Archbishops against same sex Marriage are contrary to the Bible and to the history of religion and marriage and seek mandate Roman pagan monogamy. They also fail to deal with the beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, and Atheists.

The Bible does not mandate marriage between one man and one woman. If anything, the default form of marriage in the bible which emerges from the Judeo-Christian law is polygamy. In fact, when Moses was criticised for marrying a second foreign wife, God burnt those who criticised him making it clear he had done no wrong (Numbers 12:1-15). The law of Moses in fact mandated polygamy in some situations and allowed for and gave rights to concubines and their children (Genesis 22:24; 35:22; 36:12; Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Genesis 16:1-3; 25:5-6; 1 Chronicles 1:32 etc.). Almost every holy man in the old testament had multiple wives, and the bible records that their original wives often approved of this. The New Testament only tempers this by restricting divorce and saying that a Bishop (although not a disciple or priest) must have only one wife, and that (according to Paul) ideally we shouldn’t marry at all.

Jesus makes it clear in the New Testament that, in his view, marriage is a worldly and not a holy institution and that none of us are married after “death do us part”. The Catholic attack on gay marriage is akin to the Sadducees’ poor understanding which Jesus rejected in Matthew 22, where the Sadducees asked: “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him… 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven”.

Thus, we can see that monogamous heterosexual marriage is not a teaching from the bible (even if there are slim reasons to think it might have been a good arrangement, it is certainly not the only one), but one which has become mandated by the Catholic Church through the joining of Church practice to Roman pagan law.
In Church history, heterosexual monogamy was understood by Augustine and other Catholic Church fathers to be a matter of (then) modern custom and law, not religion. Augustine stated the “only reason of it being a crime now to do this, is because custom and the laws forbid it”. On the Protestant side, Luther stated: “I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture.” We know that Islam and many other religions and cultures have allowed for polygamy or polyandry (and still do). There were of course writers who said tried to use the garden of Eden story or Jesus’ teachings against willy nilly divorce as a basis for supporting monogamy, but it was certainly not a universal view among the great theologians of the Catholic or Protestant church.

Even if I was somehow wrong about the above, we know that many other faiths have different versions of marriage – ie Islam, various types of pagan religion, Hinduism (originally), Bhuddism (Sri Lanka) and mormans allow for polygamy or polyandry. There is thus no foundation for the argument that marriage is a religious institution between one man and one woman. Marriage is simply a proprietary relationship with legal recognition, which as Augustine points out is a matter of custom and law.
The only legitimate basis to oppose gay marriage is a purely political and secular one, which should in our times be evidence based. No such evidence is relied on in the “no” campaign. Christians who are prepared to read the bible and use their brains should not blindly follow the words of ignorance from their church leaders.

I think it is a mistake for the Church to try to conflate statutory marriage with spiritual sacraments

There is no proposal for Ministers, religious celebrants or independent religious celebrants to be required to solemnise same sex marriage. You can read the draft bill here, it specifically protects against that . Further there will be no change to the Anti Discrimination Acts which already exempt (on a State and Commonwealth level) religious bodies in the application of matters according to doctrine, volunteers and charities. The suggestions to the contrary are just misinformation spread by the No campaign to create fear.

by Raphael Hudson
Used with permission

 

Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall
Lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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