OPINION: Why marriage equality is the Christian thing to do
The former Dean of Grafton Dr Peter Catt is well known as an advocate and national spokesperson for the rights of refugees and marriage equality. Here he shares his views on the institution of marriage, its purpose within the church and society and tells us exactly what will change, and won't, if you vote yes. He also has a message for other churches about moving forward on the issue of marriage equality.
"GOD is love and those who live in love live in God."
These are the opening words of the marriage service.
Marriage as an institution has been evolving for centuries. In our time the marriage ceremony has become the rite through which we publicly honour our primary relationships and celebrate the gift of love.
That has not always been the purpose of the marriage rite but I think I would be correct in saying the celebration of love is now its primary focus. Hence we support it being open to all who wish to celebrate their love.
This view reflects the majority opinion of church-goers as demonstrated by a number of opinion polls taken over the past few years.
It is regrettable that a number of Christian organisations have resorted to misinformation and fear-mongering in an attempt to derail this important societal reform.
An increasing number of people in Australia have openly GLBTI people in their lives, as members of their families, friends and work colleagues. More and more we are seeing the quality of the relationships that GLBTI people are forming and are coming to see them to be a good thing.
Opening marriage to allow committed same-sex couples to express their commitment is an important way of increasing social cohesion. To have one's relationship legitimised by the society in which one lives is encouraging and life-giving.
The proposed changes to the Marriage Act, such as those to be found in the government's Exposure Bill, will allow access to marriage by any two persons over the age of 18.
The Exposure Bill continues to safeguard the right of religious celebrants to refuse to do any marriage, for any reason at all.
Churches and other faith communities will need to have careful conversations to determine where they stand as society moves forward on this issue.
As happened with divorce, some will be able to embrace the changes while others will not.
My call is for dialogues to begin and for deep listening to be part of that process.