Monday, July 27, 2015

Best argument from Sydney re SSM you'll read this year?

Ian Paul draws attention to 'what I think is one of the best, short arguments against recognising same-sex marriage'. It comes from Sydney but not from an Anglican. Archbishop Anthony Fisher, delivered a lecture recently, an edited version of which is on the ABC Religion and Ethics site.

I appreciate the points Ian Paul underlines and won't repeat his work here. Read it for yourself! Read the comments too because there is a robust response to Fisher's arguments and to Paul's motivations and aims in publishing his response to the lecture.

Incidentally, for non Australian and non Kiwi readers, NZ has approved same sex marriage as a matter of civil law and Australia has yet to do so, though a huge momentum is building for change.

I appreciate Archbishop Fisher's set of arguments very much because reading around the internet these days, I find myself less than impressed by what I am reading. A strength of his lecture is that he takes on five common slogans for same sex marriage:
- It's all about justice
- Sexual differences do not matter
- It is all about love
- It is all about the numbers
- It does not affect me.

These points made by Fisher stand out for me as they relate to our shared theological interests across the Ditch and around the globe in relation to the core question, 'What is marriage?':

'Though customs around marriage vary between cultures and over time, there is remarkable consistency about these four dimensions of marriage:
  • that it unites people of opposite (but complementary) sex;
  • that this union is intended to be faithful ("to the exclusion of all others");
  • that this union is potentially fruitful ("to have and to hold" each other as "man and wife" do and so open to children); and
  • that this union is final ("till death do us part").
In almost every case, a fifth dimension has been that this union is regarded as sacred.'

'What is unjust and untruthful is to say in our laws that there is nothing distinctive about male and female, husband and wife, father and mother, or nothing important about bringing the two halves of humanity together in marriage. It is unjust to children to say having a Mum and a Dad should not matter. It is discriminatory towards those already married or who would like in future truly to marry to redefine marriage in a way that reduces it to emotions and sex.'

'I have here argued that to admit SSM would not be to broaden the group of those to whom marriage is open, but rather to change altogether what it is we call marriage; that this is not the further evolution of marriage but its further hollowing out - not liberation of that institution from the confines of religion and prejudice so much as deconstruction of that institution. '

The weakness of the slogans Fisher takes to task is highlighted by this article in the New York Times. It would be unjust (would it not?) to deny such open minded ethical cheating? No one can deny that love drives this movement forward. It seems to be popular. It certainly doesn't affect me. So why wouldn't the church approve ethical cheating?

Now there's a question!

1 comment:

Father Ron Smith said...

The ethicist Anthony Fisher now, at least, seems open to the prospect of the relationship of two same-sex persons in the context of Civil Partnership. It must be acknowledged that this is still not the formal canonical situation in either the Roman Catholic Church, nor in many Anglican Churches - including that of our own country in aotearoa/New Zealand.

Those of you in ACANZP who are opposing motion 30 in our own Church, are not protesting against the Marriage of Same-Sex Persons, but seemingly against any formal Church recognition (Blessing) of Same-Sex monogamous relationships.

The odd thing is that, before Same-Sex Marriage became legal, many anti-Gay people were heartily opposed to any form of Same-Sex relationship - such as Civil Partnerships. Now that Same-Sex Marriage has become legal in New Zealand, it seems that, to the former protesters even Civil Partnerships might be acceptable. This seems to smack of equivocation to me!

However ACANZP opponents of Sam-sex relationships are not alone in their equivocation. Seemingly, even Ian Paul and his adopted advocate are ready to accede to some Church recognition of Gay relationships -just as long as they are not allowed to marry in Church.

How this will affect the outcome of the deliberations on Motion 30 in ACANZP is anyone's guess. I just hope the situation is soon resolved by the Blessing of Same-Sex relationships by whomever in our Church is willing, and pressed by the Gospel imperatives, to perform the ceremony envisaged.