STATEMENT OF THE EPISCOPAL ASSEMBLY OF OCEANIA
FOR THE SENATE STANDING COMMITTEE ON LEGAL
AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS, CANBERRA
Inquiry into the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2012
The Orthodox Christian position on marriage requires an adequate understanding of how the term ‘marriage’ is understood not only in our faith community, but also its broader societal implications.
Marriage is regarded above all as a sacrament that has been instituted by God who created man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31). There is a strong biblical basis for this view, and the position of the Orthodox Church worldwide (not only in Australia) can never depart from the teaching of Holy Scripture. The union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33).
Those who freely choose to enter into marriage, enter into a conjugal union which ideally leads to procreation. Whilst not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such monogamous union exists to form of a man and a woman a new reality of ‘one flesh’ (Mark 10:6-8).
The implications of such within society are:
• Marriage is a unique relationship between one man and one woman wherein the human person is made complete through gender complementarity;
• Marriage is the very foundation of a family, which in turn is the foundation of society itself;
• Confusing the institution of marriage with same-sex unions will have serious consequences for religious freedom and implications for freedom of conscience; and
• Children should be afforded every opportunity to start life, grow and develop with both their biological parents, i.e. their mother and father.
Our purpose is not that government legislation should become a ‘tool’ to impose Christian ethics upon fellow citizens who do not share our beliefs. This of course would not be legitimate, given that we respect the free will of all. Rather, our concern is that the very institution of marriage, which has a Christian tradition of two entire millennia, should remain as it is, and not be confused with the political debate concerning the legal status of same-sex unions.