We issue this pastoral statement to assist members of our community, as we participate in the same sex marriage postal survey.
We firstly acknowledge and apologise for the damage caused to individuals and the wider community, by homophobic teaching and behaviours in the life of the church. We are committed to fostering a culture that talks openly about and accepts same sex attraction, without shaming or stereotyping people who identify as being same-sex attracted or gender liminal.
We offer our assurance for all who are same sex attracted that they and their families and loved ones are loved, valued and fully welcome in our church, as they are and for who they are. We believe that all people are of equal value, with equal capacity to love, as they have been made in the image of God.
We acknowledge that Biblical faithfulness for us in our cultural setting is complex, costly and challenging. Most contemporary media portrays same sex marriage as a matter of equality, and presents alternative views as being discriminatory and antiquated.
As a church we uphold the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia, which are based on the Bible’s teaching on marriage as being between a man and a woman. As it says in Genesis 2.24
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
The introduction to the Anglican Marriage Service classically states it this way.
Scripture teaches that marriage is a life long partnership uniting
a woman and a man in heart, mind and body.
In the joy of their union, husband and wife enrich and respond
to each other, growing in tenderness and understanding.
Through marriage a new family is formed, where children may be born
and grow in secure and loving care. – APBA Order 2
‘Faithfulness in Service’ is the guiding document of the Anglican Church of Australia in matters of life and conduct, especially for those who are licensed or authorized to minister. It states the formal position of the Anglican Church as
‘faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness.’
We acknowledge that in upholding biblical teaching on marriage, we are promoting a way of life that is both costly and countercultural.
We acknowledge and appreciate that this is an issue of significant pastoral tension for many in our community, as they respond to members of their own families, work colleagues and friends.
We commend all efforts to give active reflection to holistic pastoral responses that are compassionate and positive in supporting same sex attracted people, and their families and friends.
We want to increasingly be a community that offers loving friendships for all people, not just married people. We encourage all marriages and families to both welcome and include single people in their lives, and we seek to embody this as a community. We acknowledge and repent of an overemphasis and even idolatry of the family unit, of marriage and of parenthood, and affirm both the value of married and single life within the Body of Christ.
We recognise that not all in our church community hold the same views on this matter and urge all of us to interact in a respectful and open manner. Whilst we, as a church, uphold a traditional view of marriage, we respect that some members of our community hold a different view.
As Christians living in a democracy, we want to uphold our right, along with all citizens to express our point of view and we urge all members to participate in this postal survey.
We encourage members to engage with friends, colleagues and family respectfully and with grace, modelling an open-minded and respectful engagement with this process.
We urge the Federal Government to release any proposed legislation as soon as possible so that we can be as informed as possible prior to participating in the survey.
We urge any future legislation to uphold religious freedom and to enshrine appropriate protections for religious practitioners.
Adapted from a statement by Bishop Stephen Hale to the St Hilary’s Network with permission.