HOW THEN SHALL WE BE HEARD?
A response from Rev. Lynda Johnson, Queensland
I can’t stay quiet any more. Marriage has absolutely nothing to do with slavery!
Marriage is an institution, which stabilises and sustains society. Yes, it is about love between two people, but it is also about much more than that. Marriage is about creating a stable environment where the expression of love between the two marriage partners can bring new life into being, and, in the process, cares for, sustains, prolongs and populates society. And this great institution has an incredible design about it, which comes from a loving and involved Creator. This is what the Biblical narrative affirms.
So how do Christians, who want to preserve marriage as legitimately being a union between a man and a woman, get some real traction in a sensible and dispassionate debate about the nature of marriage and marriage equality? Using the Bible as a basis of authority doesn’t seem to be working. It’s not working in secular society, because your average person in the street doesn’t have the view that the Bible has anything particularly special to say to a modern world. The new atheists are doing a good job of disempowering the Scriptures in the public sphere; they are doing a good job of ridiculing and patronising Christians [in fact anyone with a 'religious' belief] even to the point of making this an acceptable practice to be encouraged. Being at the Krauss/Lane debate a few weeks ago showed that very clearly. There are not many minority groups in society that passively take ridicule and patronising as Christians are doing these days.
But another problem for those who want to preserve marriage as legitimately being a union between a man and a woman is also the various interpretations in the Church, all with voices trying to say that theirs is right. There are voices now within the Church who identify as ‘progressive Christians’ [a new level of liberal theology], which has as its starting point the philosophy of the day and from that standpoint critiquing the Bible. What has happened for the last two thousand years is that we have started from the Bible and used that to critique society. For progressive Christians, the Bible has no more authority than any other ‘sacred’ book. This comes with huge associated difficulties for the Church to have a voice in society.
Historically, the Bible has had influence in society and the Church, and sadly, that influence is declining. Historically, also, society has upheld that marriage is between a man and a woman. So what are we to do if we hold the view that the Biblical narrative does, in fact, affirm that?
I want to suggest that we can use basic logic and reason, as I can’t see that this debate can truly be about marriage ‘equality’ in the purest sense of the word.
From a design point of view, marriage between two people of the same gender can never, in practice, be a biologically productive relationship. There will always be the need of a third party, if a choice is made by the couple to have progeny. Therefore, how can it be ‘equal’? What are we saying as a society if we normalise something as being between two people, which will always require a third? I know that at this point, the arguments of exception will rear their heads. What about infertile heterosexual couples? What about those who adopt? My points are ….. 1. generally and genetically, male and female have the potential to reproduce, whether or not some individual cases are unable to do so or choose to not do so. And …… 2. society shouldn’t ‘normalise’ something as being equal, which in practice cannot be so.
There needs to be recognition that at a national/societal/community level we shouldn’t allow the exception to form the norm, or become the norm. If we do, there will be different types of marriage. Therefore ….. not truly equal. I’m actually neutral about society recognising various kinds of relationships other than what has been the historical norm [i.e. civil unions], and this has already happened through legislation anyway. What I do not want is the collateral damage that comes from not valuing children sufficiently, and recognising how we are designed to bring them into being and care for and form them, with both a mother and a father. We cannot escape the biological fact that both an X and a Y chromosome are needed for the race to continue. This is how society flourishes. And it is society’s role [via government] to dispassionately recognise this and affirm it, alongside appropriately recognising those who are at variance.
Rev. Lynda Johnson
Chair of EFAC Queensland.