A Case for heterosexual only marriage

Increasingly, Australians have been led to believe that same-sex marriage is the great inevitable. The legal definition of marriage may well change in 2017, but the case for change has been less about cogent reasoning, and much to do with emotive stories and slick slogans. One should not ignore peoples personal experiences, but if we are to be fair, we will also listen to the equally powerful stories of same-sex attracted people who are asking us not to change the marriage definition. Yet, stories alone should not dictate Australian law.

Disappointingly, many people have been driven to silence, following a constant tirade of abuse from numerous politicians and media personalities. To even question the validity of same sex marriage is paramount to a new social heresy according to some. But it is possible, indeed desirable to speak for the dignity of LGBTI persons, and to seek their well being, without making the logical misstep of calling for marriage redefinition.

My local member, shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, suggested on the weekend that, “Anyone who thinks they can delay marriage equality in Australia further is standing in the way of history. Time to catch up with reality.”

While I’m impressed with Mr Dreyfus’ Delphic like insight, we also know how history shows that people often make the wrong choices. It may well be that there are good reasons for holding to the classical definition of marriage, and therefore, having sensible recourse for explaining to the Australian people that we should refrain from any change.

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You see, the question remains, what is marriage?

What is it about the nature of marriage that requires us to remove man and woman from its definition?

Is it love?

Love is of course a wonderful thing, and there are many kinds of love, but is this argument sufficient? Surely, not every loving relationship should be called marriage? The reality is, there must be more to marriage than love, otherwise even the proposed redefinition is discriminatory and inadequate.

But Australia has already changed the definition of marriage

Another argument that has been put forward is the view that marriage morphed throughout history, therefore it’s okay to once again institute change. This thesis however is nothing more than an example of historical revisionism. The 2004 amendment to the 1961 Marriage Act did not change the nature of marriage, it simply spelled out what was already established belief and practice. And when the Marriage Act was enacted in 1961, it was not reinventing the definition of marriage, but delineating what was known to be true about marriage; it was a self evident truth. Similarly, the Family Law Act 1975 which established the principle of no-fault divorce, did not alter the meaning of marriage, but wholly depended upon it.

What about the argument of equality?

The phrase ‘marriage equality’ is often cited, and it’s a clever piece of marketing, but it is also self-defeating and potentially disingenuous.  First of all, all sides in the marriage debate believe in marriage equality, but equality depends on how one defines marriage. Second, if the current debate is really about honouring equality, for whom is it attaining equality? The draft definition will continue to discriminate against polygamists and polyamorists, and it will also discriminate against those who believe marriage should have fixed term rather than ‘being for life’. If proponents of ‘marriage equality’ are in fact wanting equality for all, it makes sense to ask, why do they insist marriage should remain between 2 persons and be intended for life?

Such questions are not difficult to answer for those holding to the traditional and historical understanding of marriage, but I am yet to hear a persuasive argument from those advocating change. Indeed, I am keen to hear one.

As far as I can see, pretty much everyone in the marriage debate discerns a level of discrimination, but the question is at what point? What is it about marriage that requires 2 persons and life long commitment?

After an interesting dialogue last year, one interlocutor wrote to me saying, “marriage is about what people want it to be, whether it’s about love, convenience, social acceptance, children, getting a visa or whatever.”

I appreciated his honesty, and it demonstrated that when nudged, the reasoning for marriage change frequently ends in this same place of vagueness and imprecision. But arguing that the meaning of marriage is malleable is a fast track to making marriage meaningless. Conversations such as this one revealed the argument boils down to individualism, and to the belief that I am free to determine meaning as I like. As appealing as that may at first sound, it’s ultimately fallacious and counter-productive for a healthy society.

If I walked along the Monash freeway, I would soon find myself in trouble because the Monash freeway is not designed for pedestrians. Others may join with me and begin campaigning for pedestrian access along the Monash freeway, but it’s illogical because Freeways are not designed for any and all modes of travel.

Similarly, marriage is and has always been designed for a particular type of relationship: a loving consensual relationship between a man and a woman, intended for life, for personal relationship, for procreation, and for the building of society. There is something inherently unique about this covenantal relationship that we call marriage, and which can only be fulfilled by a man and a woman. As an example, biologically, the act of procreation requires 2 persons: a man and a woman. And such is the intimacy of this sexual union, that it requires the kind of loving commitment that marriage provides. We all know  children who grow up without a father or without a mother, but I don’t know of anyone who believes that this is a good thing. It is sometimes necessary given the awful reality of domestic violence, or the tragic death of a parent, but does anyone truly believe that the ideal context for raising children is without a mum and dad?

If Australia is to change the Marriage Act, we need better reasoning than what we have heard thus far. And 2016’s argument, ‘well, the Americans have done it’, probably doesn’t hold so much weight anymore!

I trust people won’t confuse my frankness here with glibness or insensitivity, for I do not wish to cause hurt to any for whom this is a personal issue. I genuinely desire for you to have life to the full, as Jesus spoke about (John 10:10). It is also possible that there will be a few ‘religious’ people who will read my words and use them to agitate views about homosexuality that I do not share; they will not find an ally here because the God whom I know and serve has made every human being in his image and they are deserving of love and dignity. That marriage is for a man and a woman is a good thing,  which even many gay and lesbian people recognise and affirm.

Is it wise to redefine marriage? Which ever way you respond to that question, we need to also answer these questions: what is marriage, and with what reason(s) do you define at such?

 

 

 


 

This post is a updated version of a piece published last year

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15 thoughts on “A Case for heterosexual only marriage

  1. An interesting take on this issue, Murray.

    Just a couple of questions.

    1. If marriage is, as you suggest, defined at least partly in terms of procreation, then you would have to exclude those who are medically unable to reproduce; for example, post-menopausal women, or individuals who have been tested and found to be infertile. Perhaps those who have already married and been found infertile (and not yet had kids) would have their marriages annulled. Or if you don’t exclude these individuals, your argument re procreation becomes rather ambiguous. How do you reconcile it?

    2. You ask, “Does anyone truly believe that the ideal context for raising children is without a mum and dad?” The pro-same-sex-marriage camp has answered this question unequivocally, “Yes”. They cite studies that have measured the wellbeing of children raised by same-sex couples, into adulthood, and each one confirms the result: that, on average, these children do at least as well, or even better, than children raised by heterosexual couples. One reason offered for the disparity is that it’s much harder for same-sex couples to acquire children, and so couples represented in the sample must have a high level of commitment to parenthood (whereas many heterosexual couples, don’t). I know these papers are easy to find and I’m sure you’re quite capable of finding them. The question is, how do you justify your view that children need a parent of each sex, in the face of substantial evidence to the contrary?

    I support your appeal to rational, civil discourse, but I fear you’re allowing preconceived ideas to drive your reasoning.

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    • Hi Daniel,

      1. CPX have a series of short videos that are helpful here – https://publicchristianity.org/library/what-is-marriage

      2. Of course, there will be some people who argue that. But do most people really believe that it is better for children to have 2 mums or 2 dads (a biological impossibility btw), or to have a mum and dad? A number of AMA doctors have recently published an important letter, which examines some of the claims that you’ve alluded to above. It’s worth reading – http://www.critiqueama.com/

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      • Hi Murray,

        You live in a very cookie cutter world if you believe that two mums and two dads can’t be achieved “naturally”.

        There are many, many children who have two mums and two dads who were born from previous relationships.

        Not having Marriage Equality hurts these children. What Christian website gives a solution for this?

        Thanks,
        Matias.

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      • I don’t think the CPX videos resolve the first issue: either the question of parenting matters in the definition of marriage, or it doesn’t. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        On the second question, the dissenting letter makes for interesting reading, but it seems to do the same thing it accuses the AMA of: cherry-picking the evidence. See for example: https://thinkprogress.org/the-conservative-argument-against-same-sex-parenting-just-fell-apart-134776373c61/
        The papers the letter refers positively to, have been widely criticised for comparing unlike samples. I.e. if you compare children who are with their biological parents with those who aren’t, the first group will have better outcomes regardless of the sexuality of the second group’s parents. Comparing children of same-sex parents with any children of heterosexual parents, is not properly controlled, as the majority of the latter group has the biological advantage. You’d need to compare children with like biological circumstances. Eg. Heterosexual remarried with homosexual remarried.

        I think many Christians can be fairly charged with having selective hearing when it comes to scientific research of controversial topics. And it’s not a good look. Science works best when you put aside those preconceptions and investigate with an open mind. I try to listen carefully to what science is saying, and then ask how it reconciles with my faith.

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      • Re 10:41pm

        Maybe, but they do seem to be swimming against the tide of evidence. Surely if their case were as compelling as you seem to think it is, they’d have managed to get more than six signatories (the AMA isn’t exactly small).

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      • Psychologists clearly indicate that the STABILITY of the parent/s are far more beneficial to children than the fact there is 1 male and 1 female involved.

        Such studies have looked at cases such as households where there is domestic violence, or conflict between the parents, and it has been shown that even a single parent provides more benefit to a child, than forcing the child to remain in a bad situation where they have 1 mum and 1 dad who are constantly arguing.

        Children flourish from stability, love, consistency, self-esteem… The gender or quantity of the parents that provide this is irrelevant.

        You only need to ask one of the many single mothers out there whether their children are better of now the relationship with an abusive father is over, or if they were better off when he was there and you would learn this simple fact. But you are so focused on trying to preserve your religious dogma that you are quite happy to trample over everyone else’s happiness just so you can feel safe and comfortable in your ignrance

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      • You do realize that all 4 of those reasons given in that article also apply to same-sex marriages?

        The only point that even remotely may be in contention is the first one which says “mother and father”. But this is completely contradicted in cases such as adoption where the mother and father are not bonded as they suggest and in fact that is overturned by the government SPECIFICALLY for those who have chosen to parent the child. In this instance, they may also be turned over to single parents as well as couples and whether or not the couple are of opposite genders is irrelevant.

        You should still struggle with it… this article only further supports the validity of same sex marriage as it clearly indicates it is the union and stable foundation for the raising of children (or potential to raise children should that happen) which is EQUALLY supported by any form of marriage involving 2 people

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  2. When my wife and I married 37 years ago we knew we would never have children
    37 years later we are still married and we can still say “My Wife or My Husband”

    Our commitment to each other is still valid and accepted by the society

    37 years ago 2 of our gay friends formed a partnership, they still cannot say they are married.

    14 years ago 2 of our gay friends formed a partnership, last year they gave birth to 2 wonderful children, they know being married is the best relationship to raise children, but they are not allowed to marry and provide that security for their sons.

    I think those who oppose same sex marriage need to go to the bible and see what Jesus said about love

    and the old testament to see what god said about the sins of sodom

    Ezekiel 16:49-50 “49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”

    The sins of Sodom are indeed serious and prevalent and we need to eradicate them !

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    • Why cherry pick phrases from the bible?

      Do you just ignore those passages which talk about homosexuality being abominations or slavery being acceptable?

      I agree with your sentiment… but trying to use a book to validate those views, when that same book is the reason we are in this position in the first place sadly is not helpful. Either agree with the whole lot, or throw it out, but picking and choosing which verses are useful and just ignoring those which are abhorrent doesn’t help anyone.

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  3. While you were spending time on this subject, thousands of children died from malnutrition and related diseases. Seems to me a far more pressing matter. Move on.

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  4. Murray,

    You could not be more distastefully wrong on so many points as you are here, and quite frankly, your religious based bigotry is showing.

    1. Is It Love?

    Love and marriage are correlations NOT causation. One can be married and not in love and they can also be in love and not married. To even bring up a topic of love as if it is somehow a single simplistic and all encompassing reason for wanting marriage equality is purposely misleading and an underhanded attempt to redirect away from the issue.

    If love was even a primary component of the institute of marriage, then one could simply state that they are no longer in love as reasons for divorce and guess what? This reason is not satisfactory.

    What you have done here is set up a strawman. Nobody has ever said that love is the single and sole reason for marriage equality, so your attempt to claim one would be discriminatory to do so is creating your own false interpretation of the argument of others and then easily knocking it down.

    This is both poor reasoning and showing clear bias. You are literally trying to find excuses to an answer you have already predetermined. Extremely dishonest.

    2. Argument of equality

    Yet again another completely false strawman. You seem to think that equality is something that must be gained “All or nothing”, where you should not even make a single move closer to equality unless you have the entire problem licked. So your claim that we should not take one step closer towards it be at least resolving this EASY issue, because of red herrings like polygamy, which suggests that unless you can solve the hardest issue, you shouldn’t even try to to solve the easy issue is repugnant.

    People in same sex relationships have made it clear that they would like equality and they have made a reasonable case to have it, and thus they should get it because the reasons they provide are sound. If polygamists would like to also share in that equality than AS A SEPARATE CASE, they can make their claim known, provide their own reasoning and that will also be assessed on its own merits.

    You DO NOT lump them all together and then claim that you do not solve ANY equality until you have complete 100% equality across the board. Could you imagine women’s suffrage if they had used your kind of reasoning… women would not have been given the vote or been allowed to work unless we had completely solved gender equality.

    Can you see how absolutely absurd that is?

    3. Redefinition of Marriage

    You are missing the point. The counter claim to why same sex marriage can not be made law is because those against it claim the law cannot be change. Thus it is countered by the fact that the law has previously been revised. It doesn’t matter what that revision is it counters the ignorant claims that you simply cannot do it by proving it has been done before.

    4. Equality

    “If I walked along the Monash freeway, I would soon find myself in trouble because the Monash freeway is not designed for pedestrians. Others may join with me and begin campaigning for pedestrian access along the Monash freeway, but it’s illogical because Freeways are not designed for any and all modes of travel.

    Similarly, marriage is and has always been designed for a particular type of relationship: a loving consensual relationship between a man and a woman, intended for life, for personal relationship, for procreation, and for the building of society”

    This would have to be the most arrogant, egotistical and selfishly boorish statement I have ever read. You are essentially saying that when a man and a woman get married, even if the two people involved are completely ill equipped to be married, they are cars and same sex couples are pedestrians. That somehow the very fact that the couple is comprised of a man and a woman makes them capable of navigating the “freeway” which is not possible if the couple is composed of the same gender.

    How absolutely condescending you are.

    What is worse… Your final statement could just as easily be written:

    “marriage is and has always been designed for a particular type of relationship: a loving consensual relationship between TWO PEOPLE, [intended for life], for personal relationship, [for RAISING OF CHILDREN], and for the building of society”

    Unless of course you are wanting to deny anyone who is incapable of having children from being married, condemning all fertility clinics for assisting with children via means other than “procreation”, denying everyone who has adopted children or anyone who has foster cared for children.

    I also made two key phrases optional, as neither of them are absolutely mandatory for the purpose of marriage, as the 50% divorce rate clearly indicates. While the intention would be for life, to blindly act as if this is mandatory is just plain delusional.

    Not once in your entire article have you mentioned the other reasons why people get married, the ability to act upon behalf of your partner, to be present at hospitals during critical times, to be the next of kin in the event of issues, to legally be present in many cases and many other things…. For you to ignore so many other things and focus purely on your ignorant religious perspective is both disgusting and dishonest.

    Stop playing the victim and acting as if you are being “attacked” for having a different point of view. Freedom of speech also means the freedom to criticize bad ideas, to point out bigotry and ignorance and to take the responsibility of your words and FACE the consequences of the things you say. Nobody is silencing you, you just like to play the victim if anyone dares to challenge your stone age view on a practice which no longer BELONGS to you or your church.

    I am sorry to tell you this… but there is a reason why the government REMOVED the registration of marriage from the church. It was because they knew the church were incapable of being unbias, and that they would abuse this by deciding for themselves who could and could not get married.

    Ask yourself this… If someone told YOU that you couldn’t get married, would you accept that? If you wouldn’t then why do you expect other people to just accept it?

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  5. Thank you for sharing, Lizzie. I certainly found some acceptable reasoning in that article, particularly in Point 1.

    I’m not sure that anyone’s mind will be changed now that the dialogue has taken on a decidedly more heated tone. In my experience this is where barriers go up and people tend to gravitate to their separate camps.

    So on that note God bless everyone, whether you believe in Him or not!

    I’m out.

    Like

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