Defining Marriage and Gay Unions

Discussion as to whether a Gay Union can be defined as marriage is an emotive discussion. What is at stake is not the legalisation of gay unions but how such unions are to be described.

For thousands of years, across cultures, languages and religions, in primitive and advanced societies, for at least 5000 years marriage is recognized as a heterosexual union, the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. This definition should be retained. People from a Christian-Judaeo perspective, those from an Islamic background etc. object to the redefining of the term "marriage" to include gay unions.

Instead of destroying the technical meaning of marriage as it has been understood for centuries, why not introduce legislation into our Federal Parliament to define a Gay Union as: Sodomite Partnership is the union of a man and another man, or the union of a woman and another woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life? This would give clear definition as to what type of a union is being entered into. Same sex unions were formerly described in Australian Law in every State of Australia as a Sodomite Union. Why not revert to that term? It has legal precedence!

In civil as well as religious law, there is a tradition of intolerance for the sin of homosexuality. Both Old and New Testaments refer to homosexuality and condemn such behaviour with special severity. Read: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:24-27; First Corinthians 6:9-10; Second Peter 2:4-9; Jude 7-8.

The first statement of a Church Council on homosexual practices was issued by the Council of Elvira (305-306). The decree excludes from communion, even in articulo mortis (at the moment of death), the stupratores puerorum (corrupters of boys). The decree of the Council of Ancyra, held in Asia Minor in 314, strongly influenced the Church of the West, and it was often cited as authoritative in later enactments against homosexual practices.

Tertullian, the great apologist of the Church in the second century, writes: “All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish . . . from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.” Paul Elie suggests some churches today are "trying to have it both ways—affirming traditional notions of marriage and family while seeking to adapt its teachings to the experiences of gays and lesbians . . . prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy."

One Australian Church in its Statement of Faith, clause seven states: Morality and Marriage - Morality as prescribed in the New Testament of the Bible is the standard Christians are called to adopt. We believe that God only sanctifies heterosexual marriages. Refer to Romans 1:26-28, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 and Matthew 19:3-6. “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” Hebrews 13:4.

Dr Keith Graham

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