A capacity-crowd at the Sydney Synod has voted for a re-affirmation of marriage as between a man and a woman and called for all Australian Christians to respectfully engage in the public debate on redefining marriage.
“If we don’t do this - what will our silence say?” argued Tara Sing, who spoke as seconder of the reaffirmation motion.
Mrs Sing echoed a call from Archbishop Glenn Davies, in his Presidential Address to the Synod, when he said “It is time that all Christians, especially Anglicans, should enter the discussion and graciously and sensitively explain the reasons why our good Creator has made marriage the way he has.”
Canon Sandy Grant, of Wollongong, moved the resolution, which “affirms once again that marriage, as a gift from God who made us male and female, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” and urged the Federal Parliament to uphold that definition.
“God is the ultimate marriage celebrant. The union is not just a secular legal status. Marriage existed before nation states and their laws.” Canon Grant told the Synod. “It is God who joins people together in marriage. A society can redefine marriage in its rhetoric and laws. But we cannot redefine the ultimate deep reality of marriage.”
The motion also “recognises that marriage is a bedrock institution of society, designed for its good order and the secure and loving care of children by their own mother and father” and
“notes, nonetheless, that many children are lovingly cared for in other contexts, and affirms
that the welfare of such children must be paramount, along with support for their parents
and other carers.”
The motion also “condemns violence any violence against or mistreatment of our neighbours who identify as gay or lesbian,bisexual, trans or intersex (LGBTI).”
Mrs Sing told the Synod “Our world has intertwined sexuality and identity, so as we discuss LGBTI issues, we need to keep in mind that at the heart of these issues are two core questions, who am I, and am I worthy of love?”
“As Christians, in light of the gospel, we can answer these questions.” she said. “The solution is not to shy away from speaking up, or to stray from the integrity of the gospel.”
The motion was passed overwhelmingly by the Synod.
At the same session, the Synod heard a report from Bishop Robert Forsyth, Chair of the Religious Freedom Group, on whether clergy should retain their marriage licences were same-sex unions to be redefined as marriage.
The report said there were fears that if marriage was redefined, ministers might feel as though there were complicit in the changes by continuing to be marriage celebrants, even if they were not forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
Bishop Forsyth told the Synod that the Anglican marriage service was ‘unambiguous’ when it declared that "those who marry otherwise than God's word allows are not joined together by God, neither is their matrimony lawful in his sight."
Dr Michael Stead, who seconded the motion, said “On the issue of marriage in particular, we must not abandon the public space, because marriage is a creation ordinance.”
The Rev Ray Robinson, rector of Katoomba, wanted the motion amended so that there was no recommendation to continue as marriage celebrants.
“What kind of a statement are we making to society if we just roll on as usual if this change takes place?” Mr Robinson said. “The minister is still acting as an agent of the state under a definition of marriage which is false.”
The motion was passed unamended.
The Synod session also passed a motion that it ‘regrets’ and was ‘grieved’ by the actions of bishops in the Victorian regional dioceses of Wangaratta and Gippsland. The Gippsland bishop has appointed a man in a homosexual relationship to a ministry position while the bishop of Wangaratta has publicly suggested that same-sex marriage might be compatible with scripture. The motion said the actions of the bishops were a departure from biblical teaching and a breach of fellowship and collegiality.