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Sydney Anglicans reaffirm church teaching on marriage
The Sydney Anglican Synod last month voted to re-affirm the church’s teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and called for all Australian Christians to respectfully engage in the public debate on redefining marriage.
Canon Sandy Grant, of Wollongong, moved the resolution, which “affirms once again that marriage, as a gift from God who made us male and female, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life” and urged the Federal Parliament to uphold that definition.
The motion also “recognises that marriage is a bedrock institution of society, designed for its good order and the secure and loving care of children by their own mother and father” and “notes, nonetheless, that many children are lovingly cared for in other contexts, and affirms that the welfare of such children must be paramount, along with support for their parents and other carers.”
The seconder of the motion, Tara Sing, said, “If we don’t do this, what will our silence say?”
Mrs Sing echoed a call from Archbishop Glenn Davies, in his Presidential Address to the Synod, when he called on Anglicans to stand up and be counted on the issue.
The motion was passed overwhelmingly.
Archbishop Davies said, “We live in a world of social change. This is not a new observation, yet it brings fresh challenges for gospel proclamation in our society which appears to be moving further and further away from the guidelines for living which are enshrined in God’s Word.
“As Christians, we are at odds with the world. For good reason, John the Evangelist recorded Jesus’ warning to his disciples: ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.’ (John 15:18-19)
“In the same chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples that he had spoken these words so that his joy might be in them — in us — and that our joy may be full (John 15:11).
“This is an incredible promise and one that perhaps we do not appreciate, let alone assimilate, in our daily lives.
“How is your joy?” he asked. “Is it real or feigned in the face of opposition to the gospel from your friends or family, workmates or fellow travellers?”
“The antagonism of the world to the Word of God is perhaps seen nowhere more acutely than in the virulent challenge to the definition of marriage which pervades conversations in the media, the workplace and even in our places of leisure,” Archbishop Davies said.
“It is time that all Christians, especially Anglicans, should enter the discussion and graciously and sensitively explain the reasons why our good Creator has made marriage the way he has.
“We need to be courageous in our discussions both in private and in public, yet we also need to be sensitive and loving in our defence of biblical truth.”
Dr Davies supported the planned Federal plebiscite on marriage and also called the recent spotlight on domestic violence ‘another wake-up call for our society’. The Diocese earlier this year established a task-force on domestic violence.
Later, the Synod heard a report from Bishop Robert Forsyth, Chair of the Religious Freedom Group, on whether clergy should retain their marriage licences were same-sex unions to be redefined as marriage.
The report said there were fears that if marriage was redefined, ministers might feel as though there were complicit in the changes, by continuing to be marriage celebrants, even if they were not forced to conduct same-sex ceremonies.
Bishop Forsyth told the Synod that the Anglican marriage service was ‘unambiguous’ when it declared that “those who marry otherwise than God’s word allows are not joined together by God, neither is their matrimony lawful in his sight.”
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 28 No 10 (November 2015), p. 5
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