Key paragraphs are:
"That being so, it might be thought anomalous that the church remains the state's representative when it comes to performing marriage, that ministers of religion (along with civil celebrants) act on behalf of the state by performing a legal ceremony that is recognised and legitimised by the state.
The Marriage Act has already registered significant social changes, such as providing safeguards for de facto partners. Same-sex marriage would be a far more significant step away from the Christian understanding of marriage that prevailed when the law was first enacted.
While same-sex marriage stretches this conception of marriage, it seems that in other respects we as a society have very traditional perspectives. Bigamy or polygamy remain taboo. Yet if the argument from the freedom of human choice stands – that it is unjust to deny people the chance to marry whomsoever they want – then we should recognise that polygamy is widely practised in many societies around the world. Islam allows up to four wives – under certain circumstances – yet when a Melbourne sheikh proposed legalising polygamy several years ago the reaction was outrage.
It might be time to make sanctioning legal marriage a matter purely for the state. Perhaps the people who register marriages should simply be public servants who attest to the bona fides of the parties to the marriage. Marriage could be made more accessible by online registration and processing."I like the way that he acknowledges that a country such as Australia is both open to change re marriage while retaining some 'traditional perspectives.'
Incidentally, for Kiwi readers following the Motion 30 debate, perhaps especially in the Diocese of Christchurch, there may be some interest in the following motion to our September Synod:
"That this Diocese of Christchurch request that General Synod receive, discuss, and then table the Report of the Motion 30 Working Group in order that there may be four years of education across our church on the substance of the Motion 30 Report."
Since this motion comes from our Standing Committee, it has an important momentum behind it.
For overseas readers, our next General Synod is in May 2016; the Motion 30 Working Group is working on recommendations ranging across matters such as the blessing of same gender relationships, holding our church together across difference, theologies of marriage and ordination.
Did I mention my intention to retire in 2020? [smile]