Same sex marriage | City Bible Forum

Same sex marriage

We are told there are those in favour of same-sex marriage, and then there are the bigots

Same sex marriage

Mon 1 Jun 2015
We are told there are those in favour of same-sex marriage, and then there are the bigots

Written by Michael Jensen. Originally published on ABC The Drum 28/05/15 under the title: I oppose same-sex marriage (and no, I'm not a bigot).

We are told there are those in favour of same-sex marriage, and then there are the bigots. But allow me to make the case for traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The passing of the Irish referendum on same-sex marriage has triggered a round of Australian advocates announcing that it is now "our turn". We lag behind the UK, many European countries, some states in the US, and (perish the thought!) New Zealand, and we ought to get with the programme.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, in line with the new ALP dogma, has announced that he is introducing a private members bill into Parliament today (01/06/15). He has said:

"It's time for our laws to reflect the values of modern Australia and to include everyone as equals ... It's time for marriage equality.
Whatever our religious views about marriage ... I believe we have to change this law which discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love."

How could anyone stand opposed? The terms in which the pro-marriage redefinition case are stated make it sound as inevitable as the dawn, and as unstoppable as the tide. And these same terms make opposing a redefinition of marriage sound primitive and even barbaric. There are those in favour of change, we are told, and then there are the bigots.

But simply saying "it's time" doesn't make an argument. Neither does the need to keep up with the O'Haras, the Smiths, and the Pedersens. Neither does the support of TV stars, comedians, or even Bono. At best, these are arguments from fashion.

It is not even the case that "all the surveys say Australians want it" is a sufficient argument. The surveys say that Australians want capital punishment. Wisely, our politicians don't listen to surveys on that issue (and I agree with them). They should exercise leadership, not follow opinion.

Could it be that if you haven't heard the case opposing a change to the marriage law, it is because the language of those advocating it has been so emotive that the contrary case can't be heard above the noise? Could it really be said that a civil disagreement has taken place? I am not confident that it has.

I would like to make the case for traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman; but to do so with some important qualifications.

One of them is this: if the Marriage Act changes, this is not the end of the world for me. There are greater causes in this world than this. I am more distressed by our inattention to children in detention, or our national greed problem, than by the possibility that the definition of marriage might be changed.

Another is that I stand adamantly against the bullying and vilification of people of minority sexual identities.

Nevertheless, I don't think that the case for change is anywhere near as convincing as its proponents think it is. The case has been made almost entirely in terms of "equality" and its alleged opposite: "discrimination". The argument is that applying the word "marriage" to some relationships and not to others is unequal treatment, and thus discrimination. These are both apparently self-evidently bad.

But it is the duty of the law to judiciously discriminate and to appropriately recognise difference with, at times, unequal treatment of things that are not the same. It isn't automatically wrong to discriminate per se.

In fact, it may be the case that offering supposedly "equal" treatment is incoherent, as it is in this case. It is crucial to notice that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves exactly that: a revision of marriage. In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have.

It will be called marriage, but it won't be marriage as we know it. It won't be "marriage equality": it will be an entirely new thing.

This is where Bill Shorten again misunderstands what marriage is. As we now understand it, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is, or is intended as, a life-long union between two people who exemplify the biological duality of the human race, with the openness to welcoming children into the world. Even when children do not arrive, the differentiated twoness of marriage indicates its inherent structure.

Now, I didn't pluck this definition from the sky, nor is it simply a piece of religious teaching. It is the meaning of marriage that emerges from all human cultures as they reflect on and experience what it is to be male and female. It is only in the last 15 years that anyone has seriously thought differently.

I prepare many couples for marriage each year. Most of them already cohabit. When I ask them about marriage, they almost always indicate that it is for them the beginning of a new family unit open to welcoming children.

A child is a tangible expression of our sexed twoness.

To remove the sexual specificity from the notion of marriage makes marriage not a realisation of the bodily difference between male and female that protects and dignifies each, but simply a matter of choice.

This is precisely what many pro-revision advocates themselves argue: that a new definition of marriage would establish marriage as a new thing altogether. As Brandeis University's E.J Graff puts it, a change in marriage law would mean that marriage would "ever after stand for sexual choice, forcutting the link between sex and diapers".

Instead of the particular orientation of marriage towards the bearing and nurture of children, we will have a kind of marriage in which the central reality is my emotional choice. It will be the triumph, in the end, of the will.

The revisionist case has not provided a clear and reasonable definition of marriage beyond saying that if two people want to call their relationship by that name, they should be able to by choice.

Now, having put that opinion forward, I fully recognise that there are many people of intelligence and good will who disagree. I do not expect to convince everyone. What I do hope is that my contribution here will not be derided as bigoted or homophobic out of hand, but that it will be seen as part of a civil discussion.

Rev Dr Michael Jensen is the rector at St Mark's Anglican Church, Darling Point, and is the author of My God, My God: Is It Possible To Believe Anymore

Listen to a recent City Bible Forum talk about Same Sex Marriage by Ian Powell


  • Alt
    Wed, 03/06/2015 - 12:47pm reply

    As far as I am aware, there is no biblical basis for banning gay marriage. The Bible seems mute on this particular issue of whether or not individuals of the same sex should marry. It does, however.. say to KILL them, [Lev20:13] .. but surely even as a pious christian you do not advocate following this particular teaching in your good book.

    Naturally there ARE sterile heterosexual couples that are married without children. There are ALSO wonderful homosexual couples that would like to be married WITH children. Some very good friends of mine, for example.

    You are entitled to your personal opinion, perhaps we can have the opportunity in the near future to tally the combined feelings of our nation with a referendum on the matter. In the meantime, keep up the good work of not following all biblical injunctions and commandments.

    • Alt
      Wed, 10/06/2015 - 3:39pm reply

      I thought homosexual couples were already allowed to adopt children? There are many unmarried couples (straight & gay) that already have kids.

      As for the biblical basis, Paul writes in the New Testament warning new churches against returning to their former sexual immorality (incest, infidelity & homosexuality). New Christians are encouraged to live pure & holy lives that please God.

    • Alt
      Thu, 18/06/2015 - 6:19pm reply

      Actually the Bible is pretty explicit about forbidding homosexuality eg in Romans. That projecting homosexuality behavior as mainstream is a recent phenomenon is a fact. Otherwise wouldn't evolution have prevented their survival ?

    • Alt
      Sat, 15/08/2015 - 2:26am reply

      As far as I am aware, there is no biblical basis for banning gay marriage.

      The only thing I have against Homosexual couples is allowing them to “marry”. The term “marriage” has been taken and it means the union between a man and a women and hopefully children follow.

      I have nothing against homosexual couples just do not call the union a “marriage”; that term is taken.

      • Alt
        Sat, 15/08/2015 - 2:33am reply

        B.T.W. when this new term is created to identify homosexual couples there will need to be new "laws" protecting each others as there are today for married couples. As in property ownership and other legal benefits married couples enjoy today.

        do you agree?

  • Alt
    Tue, 07/07/2015 - 10:02am reply

    Whats wrong with same-sex marriage if a couple is "in love?"
    It may not SEEM like anything is wrong, but in actuality, it's an abomination in the sight of God.

    Proverbs 14:12
    There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

    Jude 1:7
    Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    Proverbs 16:6
    By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.

    Ezekiel 18:31-32
    Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
    For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    1 Timothy 1:9-10
    Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
    For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

    Luke 5:31-32
    And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.
    I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

    • Alt
      Thu, 23/07/2015 - 9:21am reply

      Jesus answered, “Haven't you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? And God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.”
      Matthew 19:4-6

      • Alt
        Thu, 13/08/2015 - 10:43am reply

        Listen to a City Bible Forum talk about Same Sex Marriage by Ian Powell recorded at our Legal Forum recently.

      • Alt
        Sat, 15/08/2015 - 7:59am reply

        and then there were three (3)

        & Life goes on.,.,.,..,.,.,.,.,.

  • Alt
    Sun, 26/09/2021 - 11:49am reply

    Great article, The bible is quite clear on same-sex marriages "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable." Leviticus 18:22. I can also recommend this article on the topic:

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