We Christians need to think about marriage.
Marriage in Australian society is changing rapidly and we have to be clear about why marriage matters to God and what we are going to do about it. Discussion of same-sex marriage has put marriage back in the news, but that is only one of a number of related issues.
What does the Presbyterian church think about the matter?
In 2013 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia made a clear declaration about the church’s teaching on marriage.
We, the Commissioners of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia here assembled declare:
- that the true definition of Marriage is found in God’s Word when it reports Him as saying: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” [Genesis 2:24]. It is the lifelong union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others.
- that the purposes of marriage in God’s design are lifelong companionship, social stability and the natural procreation and nurturing of children [Genesis 2:18, Ecclesiastes 4:9-11; Deuteronomy 6:1-7, Ephesians 6:1-4; Proverbs 14:1, Psalm 127 & 128].
- that despite any actions by human governments so called “same-sex marriage” will never be truly marriage.
- that the introduction of so called “same-sex marriage” will not contribute to the good of society but will reduce the respect in which marriage is held and further legitimise the procurement of children for same sex couples when a child should, as far as possible, have a mother and father.
- that the introduction of so called “same-sex marriage” will be very likely to encroach on freedom of religion in Australia since it will become increasingly unacceptable to speak against homosexual behaviour.
- that God condemns homosexual behaviour along with all forms of sin and provides forgiveness of and redemption from all sin through Christ and commissions his church to proclaim this message to all people.
- that all Christians struggle with various sins throughout their lives and depend on God’s help, including the support of fellow Christians, to serve Christ faithfully; so Christians who experience same sex attraction should receive compassionate support from fellow believers as they seek to live faithfully either as celibate or in marriage as God has designed it.
Therefore the Assembly
- calls on all governments in Australia to refrain from any legislation to introduce so called “same-sex marriage”
- calls on all members to oppose the introduction of any legislation for so called “same-sex marriage”
- calls on members to communicate the redemption found in Christ to every section of the community
- calls on members to offer compassionate support to fellow Christians who experience same sex attraction as they seek to live faithfully either as celibate or in marriage as God has designed it.
The 2016 General Assembly also resolved to:
Urge all states assemblies, presbyteries, and congregations to prayerfully and practically support the “No” case in opposing the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions in the upcoming 2017 plebiscite.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia is part of the Coalition for Marriage . It consists of more than 80 groups from across Australia, representing over 3 million people and is led by the Australian Christian Lobby, Marriage Alliance, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. We encourage all members of the Presbyterian Church in NSW (and everyone concerned to preserve the current definition of marriage to sign up to the coalition. Follow the link above to do that.
Here is a document with a review of useful resources to help Christians think about the marriage debate. Feel free to download it and share with anyone who might be interested. Marriage Matters – Resources to prepare for the Postal Survey
Help your church think about marriage by working through the studies Marriage God’s Way. Now is an important time for Christians to be clear about God’s view of marriage. It isn’t enough to just be ‘traditional’ (because traditional marriage is not the equivalent of the biblical view). These studies help you work through the basic biblical teaching about marriage. They show that marriage is something God has designed, for the sake of the couple and for children and the wider society. The fourth study looks at some of the difficult issues of marriage: singleness, submission, domestic violence and divorce. Here is what some Christian leaders have said about the studies.
“A much needed resource at a time when our understanding of marriage and gender is undergoing radical redefinition … a safe and pastorally sensitive forum for discussion … uncompromisingly founded in God’s word, the Bible.” Carmelina Read, Chatswood Presbyterian Church; Dean of Women, Christ College
In October, the Committee released a discussion paper — Marriage debate — dealing with the question of same sex marriage. It argues that Christians should get involved in the discussion for the sake of the common good. It also looks at how we can get involved and suggests some answers to some of the questions which often come up.
In 2013 the committee put at the Marriage Matters Resource Paper which looks at the wider redefinition of marriage which has happened in Australia and how the church can respond.
Here is a summary of the PCA view about marriage, from the General Assembly of Australia Church and Nation Committee: Redefining Marriage.
David van Gend is an Australian doctor and President of the Australian Marriage Forum. This is an edited extract from book Stealing From a Child: The Injustice of ‘Marriage Equality’: Defending our children from the Rainbow Revolution
Discussions of marriage and debates about same sex marriage demand that Christians think about singleness. Christianity Today had an interesting editorial reflection on singleness in the midst of marriage debates: Same-Sex Marriage and the Single Christian.