Franciscan documents

Franciscan bits & pieces picked up by Ted Witham tssf

Christians in Favour of Gay Marriage


A petition organized by the Australian Christian Lobby can be found at www.australianmarriage.org.

The view on that website is clearly against legislating for gay marriage, and this view point is presented by some homosexual Christians as well as a broad range of (presumably) heterosexual Christians.

The Australian Marriage website does not present the argument for gay marriage. There are, however, Christians who support gay marriage and equally deserve a voice. I know Franciscan Tertiaries whose children are married to same sex partners. I know Tertiaries who wish they could marry their same sex partner. I know also that for some Tertiaries, mine will be a challenging viewpoint: let’s argue the case with respect and love!

If you wish to send a message to the ALP delegates in favour of gay marriage, you may wish to make use of the points below. Send your letter to your local ALP branch, to your local member if she or he is ALP, or to the ALP Senators in your State or Territory.

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Some thoughts on gay marriage from a Christian perspective

Christians who support gay marriage agree with the secular arguments that to oppose gay marriage is discriminatory and that all civil rights should be extended to people who are not heterosexual.

However, as Christians, they also argue from Genesis 2 for gay marriage. It is clear in Genesis 2 that the man (Adam) is seeking intimacy and companionship and finds that with the woman who is created from him. Heterosexual marriages are normal and usual! But it is not then necessary to assume that gays are excluded from marriage as Genesis 2 describes it. A woman can find intimacy and companionship with another woman in ‘flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone’ relationship, and surely find it blessed by God.

St Paul in Galatians 3:28 makes a strong case that ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’ Quite clearly, Paul does not mean that in Christ the distinctions are meaningless; there continue to be Jews and Greeks, slaves and free, and males and females. The point he is stressing is that these categories are not important ‘in Christ’: at some levels, it doesn’t matter to Christ whether you are male or female. This is a radical teaching, asking us not to be so accepting of socially constructed roles that we stop seeing the basic humanity of people.  In a relationship, it is not your sex that counts. It is your ability to give and receive love.  It doesn’t matter in Christ whether your partner is male or female.

In Ephesians 5:24-30, Paul carefully outlines the connection between marriage – the love of spouse for spouse – and the love of Christ for the Church; Christ as bridegroom, Church as bride. In the Anglican prayer book tradition this is given as the first reason for marriage . It has a sacramental import. The first aspect is that the love Christ has for the Church empowers the married couple. Their love derives from His. The second aspect is that marriage then becomes a picture of Christ’s love for the Church. When you look at a married couple, you see Christ’s love illustrated plain.

In real life, we see gay marriages which are strong and tender and are pictures of Christ’s love for the Church. It is difficult to argue that the love expressed in these gay marriages is not provided by Christ.  Where else would such love come from? Why are these relationships less illustrative of God’s love than some fragile heterosexual marriage?

For these and other reasons, I as a Christian support gay marriage.

Eugene Rogers’s Christian Century article is helpful in exploring these arguments.

Ted Witham
November 2011

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10 thoughts on “Christians in Favour of Gay Marriage

  1. Ted, thank you. Very good points made and has helped me with my understanding of the issue.
    I feel, from an earthly point of view, that people, and they are people, who have had there Hormonial balance tipped one way or the other deserve to be recognised and should be reognised in society. I am sure God loves them as he does all his other children!

  2. Thanks, John. I think the more we can think of people who are not heterosexual as people foremost, the more we will be able to say ‘we’ and include lesbians and gays, and less ‘they’ as if they were a different species.

  3. Robyn Gould on said:

    We are all equal in Christ, and the living Trinitarian God of Love is inclusive. However, God created man and woman to live together, and the Sacrament of Marriage sanctifies the love between a man and a woman.
    Same-sex relationships are, as written in the above article, no less illustrative of God’s love, for there are many different kinds of love, and all are gifts from God.
    A legal marriage and a Sacramental marriage are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Legislation can deem something to be legal, however, without sanctification the something can never be Holy.
    A civil-service marriage is legal but not Holy.
    Do those Christians who live in a loving same-sex relationship desire something that is legal or something that is Holy?

    • Dear Robyn
      Thank you for this. I think it is important for us as Christians to move the debate away from a ‘rights’ argument into theology.
      The Sacrament of Marriage sanctifies the love between a man and a woman. This is true, normal and usual. However, that doesn’t prove that the Sacrament of Marriage fails to sancitify the love between a man and a man, or a woman and woman. The Scriptural passages I quotes don’t require two different sexes. So I believe that the Sacrament of Marriage should equally sanctify the love between two people of the same sex.
      In a Church wedding, there is a nexus between the civil and sacramental aspects of marriage. The priest is not split into two as a witness of the civil marriage and a witness of the sacramental marriage. The promises witnessed by the priest are binding, holy and legal.

      • Robyn Gould on said:

        Dear Rev’d Ted
        During the past few days I have reflected on your reply.
        I have been taught that Anglican Theology has a three-fold foundation — Scripture, Tradition and Reason.
        Theology leads me to understand that a marriage is between a man and a woman.
        If there were an order-of-service recognising the loving-commitment between two persons of the same sex, I feel this would appease both those in favour, and those against same-sex ”marriages” whether the service is within the Church or within the Civil community.
        I should not like this issue to fracture the community of the Church.

  4. cathy MATHEWS on said:

    Thank you Ted, for a thoughtful and well balanced viewpoint.
    It has helped clear my head in trying to language my response to others
    who ask me where I stand on this issue.
    Quite simply, I feel it is our intentions that are most important,
    and that if our intention is to love one another, in friendships, family life and in society, then that love should be considered our own relationship with one another in the presence of God. If that is the case, then judgement will be left to Him and the marriage act will be changed to allow same sex partners to be wed.

    • @Robyn Gould
      Dear Robyn, Thank you for your reply. I can ask no more than what you have done – to reflect on my thoughts. You raise a central issue: while I am now convinced by Scripture, Tradition and Reason that there should be no difference for homo- or heterosexual people when it comes to marriage, traditional Theology teaches, as you say, that marriage is between a man and a woman. There are many aspects of traditional Theology which have changed, but you are right – what I suggest is a change, a new theological understanding, and the onus is on me (and all who want change) to argue the case. If possible, without fracturing the community of the Church, or indeed of the Third Order.

    • Thank you Cathy. These are the principles that count for me.

  5. Christine on said:

    Hi Ted I was trying to get in touch with you about the retreat. But after reading this unBiblical stuff I’m afraid I won’t be going.

    • Hi Christine
      I am sorry you won’t be coming to the retreat, but if this post helped you understand where I am coming from, then it is probably a wise decision.
      I am also sorry you dismiss my comments as ‘unBiblical’ without responding to the Biblical passages I quoted, but I do understand this is a difficult debate.
      Blessings to you,
      Ted

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