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:
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!