What we are Saying about Marriage Equality

The following PDF is the consensus position of our congregation on the subject of Marriage Equality. This was discussed and approved on Sunday 18 June 2012, and has incorporated numerous community suggestions, but is by no means closed to further feedback and improvement.

The purpose of this statement is to focus discussion on what we are actually saying, as this has not always been covered in reports about us, or addressed by all commentators. We request that this PDF, or this page on our website, be linked and distributed widely, and judged on it’s merits.

We emphasize, as always, that we do not speak for any church other than our own on this subject. We are a young church and not particularly large or influential; there were 30 present at this Sunday meeting. But we are quite clear on this.

(Note that for brevity, we use the word ‘gay’ for the entire GLBT and related communities, though we recognize that those communities do not use the term in this way.)

Thanks, and click on the image to download the PDF (63K): — Nigel

Imagine - Surry Hills Baptist Church - What we are Saying About Marriage Equality

WHAT WE ARE SAYING ABOUT MARRIAGE EQUALITY

We are saying three things:

1. We are saying political campaigns which cultivate fear and mistrust of gay people and of the gay community are dehumanising and do not represent us.

  • Prominent Christian lobbyists have argued that long-term gay relationships should matter less under Australian civil law than long-term heterosexual relationships, that gay people’s relationships are not legitimated by our common public values, and that they are a danger to society. This cultivates a blanket fear and mistrust of gay people – 30% of the population of our suburb, and some definite percentage of yours. That is why we say these campaigns are dehumanising.
  • All our churches are deemed hateful when people’s gay friends, neighbours, colleagues and relatives – or they themselves – are degraded in this way and we remain silent. That’s why we are saying publicly that these campaigns do not represent our church.

2. We are saying Christians should not try to take political power over other citizens and thereby control their behaviour. 

  • Legislating our Christian convictions attempts to establish them by force of law and legal penalties, rather than to commend them by persuasion and by example. We reject this on Christian principles. The church and gospel suffer – to say nothing of how others suffer – when theology is legislated or assent is coerced.
  • This is not what Jesus represented in his actions and his words. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbours as much as ourselves, to serve them and lay down our lives for them. We are not here to rule or marginalise or degrade any person.

3. We are saying Civil marriage and Christian marriage are different.

  • The government administers civil marriage for people of all faiths and no faith. It does not and should not impose a Christian view of marriage on all citizens. Likewise, the government does not define what Christian marriage means. It cannot do so. That is how as a church we can be committed to Baptist resolutions about marriage, to a consistent biblical understanding of the issues, and to same-sex marriage as a civil policy.
  • Life-long gay relationships are a basic fact of life in Australian society. We’re saying we have seen no good civil reason why these relationships should not be recognised by civil law as the exact same commitment to fidelity that is recognised by civil law in heterosexual marriage.
  • We don’t deny this raises many serious questions for ourselves and other churches, and we do not claim to have resolved all these questions. Rather, we are saying we support Same-sex Marriage as a civil policy, and we do so for these decisive Christian reasons.

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