Fact Check: what do Christian churches really think about same-sex marriage?
While most Christian churches allow individual ministers and parishioners to dissent on almost any issue, here is a guide to the official position of most Australian Christian Church Denominations on same-sex marriage.
The ‘No’ Camp
“The traditional view of marriage, which the Church has always supported, is different. It sees marriage as about connecting the values and people in our lives which otherwise have a tendency to get fragmented: sex and love, male and female, sex and babies, parents and children. This view has long influenced our law, literature, art, philosophy, religion and social practices. On this view, marriage includes an emotional union, but it goes further than that. It involves a substantial bodily and spiritual union of a man and a woman. As the Old Testament taught and Jesus and St Paul repeated, marriage is where man and woman truly become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:5; Eph 5:31). It is a comprehensive union between a man and a woman grounded on heterosexual union. This union is centred around and ordered not only to the wellbeing of the spouses but also towards the generation and wellbeing of children. This is true even where one or both spouses are infertile.” (2015)
“This General Synod of The Anglican Church of Australia expresses its commitment to the present definition of Marriage under Commonwealth Law.” (General Synod, 2010)
“Australian Baptist Ministries reaffirms its support for the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman”
“The National Council of Australian Baptist Ministries reaffirms its support for the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and rejects moves to extend the definition to include same sex relationships.” (2017)
“I believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. The writings of the apostle Paul in Scripture on the subject of homosexuality are also clear, as I have mentioned in previous public statements.” (2017)
The ACC National Executive has called for a National Day of Prayer & Fasting among ACC churches as Australia heads towards the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
We are calling a National Day of Prayer and Fasting for all our churches, and asking people to join us on Tuesday 12 September 2017 to fast and pray for:
• Our nation, Australia
• Righteous government – at all levels
• The Church
The ACC supports the Biblical view of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union between a man and a woman, and recognises the potential consequences for Christians, should the legislation be passed. The ACC is encouraging all Christians to vote ‘No’.
“The Presbyterian Church of Australia opposes the introduction of legislation for so called ‘same-sex marriage’. We affirm that the true definition of marriage is found in God’s Word: the life-long union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others.” (2016)
“That [the National Assembly of the WPC] expresses its opposition to all forms of civil partnerships other than marriages between one man & one woman.” Motion adopted at the 21st WPC National Assembly in 2016
“A same-sex ‘marriage’ is not only contrary to God’s design, but it does not have the fundamental features that give marriage its unique quality.” – Lutheran Church
“While marriage’s attendant rites and ceremonies may vary with time and place, the state does not establish marriage. It reaches back to its divine origins within creation. There God instituted marriage as the union between a man and a woman; but the way it is enacted is a matter for the state. Theologically speaking, therefore, a same-sex ‘marriage’ is not only contrary to God’s design, but it does not have the fundamental features that give marriage its unique quality. While a same-sex union may be based on love and promises of long term commitment, it is not an estate given with creation and embedded in the fabric of society. Unlike the union of a man and a woman, it is not the natural way for bringing children into the world and thereby perpetuating the human community. To use the word ‘marriage’ for same-sex partnerships would be to use the same name for things that are in fact different. The definition of marriage, as far as the Church is concerned, must conform to God’s intention as revealed in scripture. The LCA acknowledges the right of the state to set up a register of civil unions between people of the same sex and to accord them legal recognition and rights; but it does object to calling such a union ‘marriage’.” (2015)
“We retain our very firm conviction that the institution of marriage is, by definition, an act solely between a man and a woman.” – Salvation Army
“The Salvation Army, both internationally and within Australia, has a long history of non-discriminatory action. We firmly believe in assisting and working with all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and our history demonstrates this fundamental belief. Saying that, we retain our very firm conviction that the institution of marriage is, by definition, an act solely between a man and a woman. This should not be altered in any way. To hold this position is not to make any comment about gay and lesbian relationships; it is, rather, to strongly affirm and uphold the sanctity of marriage as being only and always between a man and a woman.” (2012)
“Marriage was instituted by God, ratified by Jesus, and is exclusively between a man and a woman. It is a picture of Christ and his church.”
“When it comes to marriage, the Seventh-day Adventist Church remains strongly committed to God’s ideal. The Church upholds the biblical position, that marriage is a “. . . covenant-based union of two genders [male and female] physically, emotionally and spiritually, spoken of in Scripture as ‘one flesh’.”
2. “The family tie is the closest, the most tender and sacred of any human relationship.”
3. Marriage is a gift from God and is designed for genuine intimacy, to nurture children and to make a positive contribution to society.”
CRC Churches International (formerly Christian Revival Crusade)
“As genuine Christ followers, we take the position that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman and that it is the best and safest place to raise the children of the next generation.
We, as a denominational family, have a statement on marriage in our foundational Charter and Australian Constitution. It states, ‘The CRC Churches International understands that the Biblical model of marriage is a life-long, monogamous, legally-performed marriage between a man and a woman, in which there is constant love, continual care, mutual respect, Godly order, submission and sexual intimacy. In such a context children may be born and raised in an atmosphere of loving care, Godly training and discipline. We uphold the family as the basic social unit of society.’” Statement by Pastor Bill Vasilakis. National Chairman – CRC Churches International
International Network of Churches (formerly Christian Outreach Centre)
“The marriage plebiscite is for all Australian people, whether or not they are followers of Christ. But as followers of Christ, we have a set of religious beliefs that may not be applicable to those that aren’t followers of Christ, however these resources help educate people to understand that the redefinition of marriage will diminish our ability to freely maintain those religious beliefs which is not in the benefit of all Australians.” Statement from Oceanic Secretary, INC (Email to Eternity)
“What is proposed is the legalisation of sin (Greek: amartia = “missing the mark”). Every sin does not have to be at the same time a transgression against human and state laws; but it is far more dangerous to violate God’s Law than human laws. Many examples have convinced us that deviation from the will of God inevitably leads to suffering.”
“As Orthodox Christians, therefore, we are obliged, once again, to express in the strongest possible terms, our objection to the enactment of such legislation, as this will assail the sacredness of the Sacrament of Marriage and the Family, as has been taught to us through the Ages by our Holy Faith and by the Fathers of the Church.”
“We highly encourag[e] everyone to vote against same sex marriage to keep the truth of the Bible and our Christian morals.” Coptic World Facebook
“As followers of Christ, the redefinition of marriage will impact our ability to freely maintain our religious beliefs.”
Scripture is clear as to what constitutes a family. Our Lord Jesus Christ referred to Genesis 2:24 – “At the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Mt. 19:4-6)
“Those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour are called to live a transformed life and as such we have the responsibility to:
a. Encourage other Christians through meeting together for worship and fellowship;
b. Uphold moral directives and ethical values contained in the Bible as expressed within the context of their personal life, their marriage life (the covenantal relationship of one man and one woman), and their relationships with others.”
Chinese Methodist Church
“To be true to our Biblical and religious faith, we state that we are not in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.” Bishop James Kwang (email to Eternity)
The ‘Yes’ Camp
“Quakers supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender.”
“The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, supports the right of adult couples in loving and committed relationships to marry, regardless of gender. We also support the right of such couples to have their marriages accorded equal recognition and respect under the law of Australia.” (2017)
Metropolitan Community Church
“Yes” Karl Hand, pastor of Crave MCC in Sydney, speaking of the view of the MCC network to Eternity. (Via FB)
We won’t tell you how to vote
The Uniting Church statement on the plebiscite notes”Our commitment to our own process of prayerful discernment means that Uniting Church leaders will not be recommending any position to members in relation to the 2017 postal plebiscite, should one take place.”
“The Uniting Church in Australia currently understands marriage as ‘the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life’.
“We are also committed to being an inclusive Church that embraces LGBTIQ people as full members and to culturally appropriate discussion about relationships and marriage across our diversity.”
The ‘No Comment So Far’ Camp
Eternity has not found any public comment from the following church denomination on same-sex marriage, even though individual ministers may have issued statements.
- Churches of Christ
- Church of the Brethren
Eternity acknowledges the diversity of opinions held by Australian Christian leaders on this issue and will be following up with them in the coming weeks.