Public anger because Carlton won’t say “yes”

Disclaimer: I’ve been a Carlton supporter since I was 5 years old!

 

Like it or not, the debate about same sex marriage has become less about the definition of marriage, and more about freedom of speech.

I believe that the first and central question is about how we define marriage. I would love to see the nation sticking with the question and arguing the merits, for and against. In my opinion, beyond a few slick slogans, I don’t think the ‘yes’ campaign has a substantive argument. Apart from the fact that the UN and the European Court of Human Rights have ruled that none of the major treaties require recognition of same sex marriage as a human right, ‘love is love’ and ‘equality’ are phrases that ultimately mean that marriage can be anything, and therefore, is meaningless. In contrast, I remain convinced that current legal definition accurately reflects logic, biology, and the purpose of marriage.

It is become clear though that this debate is largely about which Australians are permitted to speak and hold a public opinion. It is not as though I’m conflating one or two examples, but media are citing examples on a daily basis, and many more never reach the attention of journalists.

Yes, there is freedom of speech, as a group of Catholic students from the University of Sydney experienced last week. Members from a Catholic club were surrounded by 200 protesters screaming abuse at them, destroying posters, and hurling objects.

Yes, there is free speech for the 18 year old Canberra girl, Madeline, who was sacked by her employer this week for doing nothing more than posting on her private Facebook page, “it’s ok to vote no”. 

Yes, Australian Rugby star, Israel Folau, was free to tweet, “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.” The national outrage was immediate and so were the calls for Folau’s removal from the national team.

There have also been reports of a couple of religious schools sending letters to parents, asking them to vote, ‘no’; I don’t think that’s right. In contrast, we are seeing many companies, local councils, sporting codes and clubs, and celebrities siding with the ‘yes’ campaign. Which each endorsement there is wide spread praise in the media and by various politicians.

There is a question worth asking about whether companies and sporting clubs should take a public stand on marriage, either for or against; I think there are legitimate arguments both ways. Undoubtedly, adopting the truncated rainbow colours is an opportunity for a photoshoot, free promotion in the newspaper, and loud applause on twitter. However, for those employees and supporters who are either unconvinced by SSM or intend to vote no, there is little room for them to dissent.

Groups who public campaign for SSM need to seriously consider how they will treat employees and customers who don’t agree with the position they are taking. In the United Kingdom, all volunteers of the National Trust were forced to wear rainbow bands in support of same sex marriage. Anyone refusing to wear the colours was stood down until such time as they received education and changed their minds.

On the other hand, can you imagine any Australian company, local Council, or sporting club, promoting a ‘no’ vote on same-sex marriage?

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Yesterday we learned that it is not even ok for a sporting club to remain neutral on the issue. The Carlton Football Club released a statement, explaining that they won’t be tell supporters how to vote.

“THE Carlton Football Club prides itself on being inclusive, and a leader in engendering equality and a deep sense of belonging.

The issue of ‘same sex marriage’ is essentially one of equality; and so the Club encourages all of its people to have their say in this important national vote.

As a Club, we respect that this is about personal choice, and as such don’t intend to campaign on the issue, but we do strongly reinforce our Club’s absolute commitment to equality – and a community that is free from any form of discrimination.”

Carlton’s stance is entirely reasonable and in keeping with true democratic principles, and yet their twitter feed is now congested with complaints and denouncements. Let’s be perfectly clear, the Navy Blues aren’t encouraging anyone to vote against SSM, their sin was that they did not come out in favour.

This reveals how the marriage debate is about so much more than just marriage. Last week in The Age, Aubrey Perry urged readers to vote ‘yes’, so that we can rid the public square of religion. Days later, Matt Holden, argued that the days must end when religious ideas can be allowed in political and public debate. These admissions are an embarrassment to some folk campaigning for ‘yes’, and so they’re obliged to stay course and insist no one is arguing for the diminishment of religious and public freedoms. Like climate change, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the evidence.

Once the Titanic hit an iceberg in the Northern Atlantic, the temptation to leave the sinking ship must have been almost irresistible. The urge to survive understandably drove many to fight their way onto the lifeboats, and even to leap into the icy waters below.

Free Speech in Australia hit the iceberg in March of this year. It was no accident. Social progressives had already hijacked public discourse in the country and been navigating toward the destruction of civil disagreement.

The initial scene looked innocent enough; the Bible Society sponsored a video conversation between to Government MPs, Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie. The two men sat down over a Coopers’ beer and enjoyed a civil conversation about marriage. The civility was too much, and within minutes pubs across the nation were boycotting Coopers, and tirades of abuse hit social media. So incensed were non beer drinkers and craft-beer drinkers across the nation, that they bought bottles of Coopers beer only to smash them in allys across the nation until Cooper’s management fell obliged to jump and join the fight for same-sex marriage.

The AMA (Australian Medical Association) was quick to join those supporting a change in marriage. Hundreds of doctor responded saying, ‘hang on, we don’t agree’, but apparently the only doctors  who understand medicine are those who support same-sex marriage

When a Fairfax Columnist and television comedian recently suggested that MPs should be sexually assaulted for not supporting same-sex marriage, there was broad silence among almost all media outlets. He later insisted that the tweet was a joke (as though sexual assault is funny).

What is this national conversation about? It is about our understanding of society’s basic and best building block, marriage. Should it be removed and an alternative inserted? It is also incumbent upon Australians to also recognise that this debate has further reaching consequences, including freedom to speak and expression an opinion without fear of being sacked or being publicly shamed for disagreeing with the self-appointed moral judges of our time.

 

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

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An Open Letter to LGBTI Australians about the marriage debate

Dear LGBTI Australians,

I am writing this open letter to express some thoughts in relation to the issue of same sex marriage. My intention is not to address every question—for that would require a very lengthy letter indeed—but I do wish offer a few reflections.

I want to begin by saying that I truly want you to live happy and fulfilling lives. I am sorry for the abuse and hate you have experienced from the community, even at times from Christians. 

Not for a moment will I pretend that I have always treated others with the dignity and love that I should. I am far from a perfect human being. I do however grieve the fact that so many LGBTI Australians have experienced much pain and sorrow.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, I understand that there is great diversity of opinion in our society. Even among LGBTI Australians, there is a wide range of views. Some folk wish to legalise same sex marriage simply because they believe in the institution of marriage and want the opportunity to marry. Others argue that legalising same-sex marriage is part of a broader campaign to dissolve marriage altogether along with all structures associated with a conservative and non-socialist agenda. Yet other gay couples have shared that they believe marriage should not be redefined. For example, Ben Rogers and Mark Poidevin who have been in a relationship for 15 years recently spoke out against gay marriage,

“If we make one exception for one community, that being the same-sex couples, where does it stop?” 

Again, other people are professing Christians and believe that celibacy, unless married to someone of the opposite gender, is the best way to live. 

I mention all this because it is very easy to make generalisations and to assume the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps are without nuance. I realise that not everyone laughed at Benjamin’s Law’s “humour” about sexual assaulting MPs, and not everyone is okay with last week’s violent protest at the University of Sydney. Similarly, the assault on Kevin Rudd’s godson was absolutely wrong and cannot be defended.

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In the last few years I have written several articles on the topic of marriage and sexuality because, while marriage is incredibly personal and private, it is also a public institution. Marriage is a way in which society self-defines and divides according to family units. Governments involve themselves in marriage because of children—to safeguard children so that they may be raised by their biological parents, except in unfortunate and extreme circumstances.

Given the public nature of marriage and how Acts of Parliament are purposed to influence society, I believe it is reasonable for fellow Australians to have freedom to speak and to argue their case. 

Sadly, in the same way that some journalists and social groups paint all LGBTI Australians with the same brushstroke, we are unfortunately seeing politicians and social commentators taking the same approach to caricature any Australian who opposes same-sex marriage. 

Contrary to a series of recent journalistic efforts by Fairfax writers, believing in classical marriage is not forcing a view on to society, rather it is bringing to the public square a view on why the current legal definition makes good sense. If we cannot have freedom to do this in Australia, we no longer have freedom. If public dissent from popular opinion is no longer allowed, we are moving toward a very precarious view of society.

I wonder, even for a moment, if you might consider the possibility that someone might vote ‘no’, not because they are hateful, but because they believe love requires us to say ‘no’ at times? For now, I’m not assuming the rightness and wrongness of any particular position. But can the word ‘no’ ever be tied to good intentions?

Regrettably, there are a small number of people who, for reasons that are hateful, don’t want marriage laws to change. The reality is, most people arguing for the status quo are doing so because of good reasons and out of love, even love for those who hold a different opinion. I will return to this below.

You may disagree with my understanding of marriage, but surely it’s possible to see that it is not illogical for people to believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Until a few years ago, this was the universal understanding of marriage. Indeed, many of the now vocal advocates in Parliament for same sex marriage were, until recently, vocal supporters of heterosexual only marriage. And while a few societies throughout world history have embraced homosexual relationships, none believed that they should be defined as marriage. To believe that marriage is for a man and a woman committing to life-long union is deeply rooted in history and logic and biology, and yes even theology. 

Many relationships can be described as loving, but not all are marriage. While I believe in dignity and inherent worth of every individual, we should not confuse equity with equivalence, for that ultimately makes marriage a meaningless word. Have we forgotten the two heterosexual men from New Zealand who in 2014, married in order to win free tickets to the Rugby World Cup? Also, we should not continue to build societal structures where more children will be raised without one or both of their biological parents.

I understand that for some Australians, the ‘no’ word will be unacceptable unless it is accompanied with a ‘yes’ vote. But I wish to convey to those who can cut through the piles of unhelpful rhetoric, it is possible to stand against bigotry and to believe that marriage should not be redefined.

Hate and violence derives from commitment to a worldview that cannot tolerate difference. This worldview may be have a religious orchestration or its shape may be that of secular humanism.

In my mind are the words of Jesus, who once said that it’s relatively easy to love those whom you like and who agree with you; it takes grace to love those with whom you disagree. We all fall short of this ideal, which would leave us hopeless, except there is one who lived the ideal without ever misstepping.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)

In the life of Jesus, we learn that he maintained the Bible’s view on marriage, that it is between a man and a woman intended for life. Jesus insisted on this even when the governing authorities of the day tried to change his mind (they were looking to justify divorce for any reason(s). At the same time, Jesus went out his way to spend time with and care for people who were often made to feel left out and were pushed aside by mainstream society. He could love a Samaritan woman without approving of her sexual past. He would choose the poor over the wealthy, or befriend the ‘sinner’ over the religious.

A Christian must not hate, because we have been on the other side; we have belonged to the crowd who have hurt others and thrown stones of hate, pride, and greed. Christians, if they are Christian, confess their spiritual and moral destitution, and yet we have come to experience the undeserving and loving grace of God who forgives our trespasses through Jesus. Once the human heart has experienced Divine forgiveness, we cannot walk back into old attitudes of disdain for other people, nor hold onto some cold and languid acquiescence toward popular moral thought. When God replaces hate with love, it is a commitment to affirm what is good as defined by God.

I understand the difference between religious and civic marriages, and so I’m not trying to conflate the two. The point I’m making here is that disagreement and hate are not synonymous. Cannot love lead us to disagree with fellow human beings?

I do not hate you. I would willingly stand alongside you against those who insult and assault you. These same values also convince me, by reason and love, that marriage should remain as currently defined.

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

Since when has Christianity been so concerned about religious freedom?

Fairfax Contributor, Matt Holden, has asked the question,

“since when has Christianity been so concerned about religious freedom?”

With a skilful display of not letting truth get in the way, he has answered,

“Not ever, really, is the short answer.”

The question is not, have forms of Christianity ever led to the diminishment of peoples’ religious freedoms, for history gives us such examples. However, history give many more examples where Christianity provides the philosophic undergirding for a genuine pluralist society. Holden cites the campaign against the Bendigo Mosque in 2016, asking, where were the Christians then? The truth is, there were Christians in Bendigo doing the very thing Holden alleges did not happen. Perhaps he should be asking, why did the media not report it? More recently, when Waverley Council in Sydney refused the building of a Synagogue in Bondi, Christian groups were vocal in calling for the Council to change their position.

 

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In a recent article for the Gospel Coalition, Dr Russell Moore (President of Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention), wrote,

“when we say—as Baptists and many other Christians always have—that freedom of religion applies to all people, Christian or not, we are not suggesting that there are many paths to God, or that truth claims are relative. We are fighting for the opposite. We are saying religion should be free from state control because we believe every person must give an account before the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

Have Christians always done this well? No, but more often they have, and the reality is, the social pluralism we enjoy in this country relies upon a Christian worldview. It is not irreligion that brought religious pluralism to our shores, but the Christian view that we ought to love our neighbours, and that authentic belief in God comes about through persuasion not coercion. This is another unfortunate mistake made by Holden. It seems as though he has swallowed the now popular myth that Christians are forcing their views onto society and that evangelism amounts to bullying. The reality is very different. By definition, Christianity is a conversion religion. No one is born Christian, but people become convinced by the claims of Jesus Christ; that he is true and good. Christianity is a persuasion religion, speaking and articulating and convincing others of what the Bible says.

Holden gives himself away when he insists, “‘the best guarantee of religious freedom is keeping religion out of politics”. In other words,  he doesn’t want religious Australians having the freedom to present their point of view. As it is, we enjoy one of the safest and most stable society’s in the world, where people of faith and none are free to express their beliefs, and to persuade others of their opinion. Holden says, those days must end.

He adds,

“This sudden defence of religious freedom by churches and religious lobby groups just doesn’t wash.”

I’m not sure how Holden would define ‘sudden’, but 116 years ago, in 1901, the framers of the Australian constitution used Judeo-Christian principles to establish a secular nation. By secular they did not mean banning religious thought from politics and public discourse. true secularism means the freedom to speak regardless of ones religious affiliation, or lack thereof. Indeed, this understanding of religious freedom can be traced back to the Bible and to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

The issue is, certain elements of the community don’t like what Christian have to say on about marriage and other social issues, but instead of engaging reasonably with argument, folk like Matt Holden are aiming to shut down those who disagree. Whether he is aware or not, Holden is not proposing secularism, but State imposed atheism; it is anti-pluralism. If the only permitted discourse must void of language deferring to God and religion, then what we have is exclusive and intolerant atheism.

We know how anti-religious world views have had a shot at taking charge of nations, and they have produced for the world Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and North Korea. I’m fairly sure that this is not the kind of country most Australians are wanting to become.

Last year the Victorian Government attempted to pass legislation that would have taken freedom from religious organisations in hiring staff. It was, as Dr Michael Bird explained at the time, an example of Secularized Erastianism, a philosophy which asserts that the State shapes and controls religious belief and practice. Is this the direction Australia wants to head?

Finally, despite various politicians and social commentators insisting that same-sex marriage has nothing to do with freedom of religion, they are dedicating an awful lots of words to argue how opponents of same-sex marriage are all haters and need to be silenced. Two weeks ago another Fairfax Columnist, Aubrey Perry, argued that the debate on marriage has everything to do with religion, by which she meant, let’s use marriage as a weapon to remove religion from public life altogether.

Pluralism in Australian will only continue so long as those in authority allow alternative views to be expressed publicly, without fear of litigation or threats of violence. To the surprise of many, the global movement in the early 21st Century is not away from religion to irreligion or from faith to reason, but away from philosophical pluralism to both religious and secular authoritarianism.  We are a long way from where things could lead, but we are no longer standing from the sideline and pontificating the possibilities. As Sherlock Holmes would say, ‘the game is afoot’. This should concern all Australians, not because pluralism is god, and not because we are moral and spiritual relativists, but because we believe a healthy society requires its citizens to argue and persuade, and to allow others to make up their minds.

 

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

Meaningless Marriage on QandA

If you watched QandA last night, you may be left wondering why is Australia  having a discussion about marriage at all? It’s not because reason shows us that marriage should remain between a man and a woman, and it’s not because of impassioned stories from gay couples, but because we were told by two QandA panelists that we ought to get rid of marriage altogether.

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English philosopher, AC Grayling, claimed that the origins of marriage were sexist, but now “there’s another sense of the word marriage which is the commitment that two or perhaps more — I don’t know — people make to one another about pooling their resources, mutually supporting one another.”

He added that he doesn’t support the institution of marriage (despite the fact that he is married), although he does support same-sex marriage.

Merav Michaeli is a former journalist and currently serves as a member of Israel’s Parliament. Like Grayling, Michaeli has a very negative view of marriage and thinks society expunge marriage altogether.

“This is not something that we should maintain in the world when we realise all of us are human beings.”

Why?

“Marriage has nothing to do with love but is a tool created to dominate women, and not somethin that should be sustained”.

“In many countries … your parents make you marry someone because of their social status, because of the family they come from, because they want to keep the property in a specific family or another family.”

Any audience member wearing their ‘love is love’ t-shirt last night, must have felt a little awkward…or enraged. Don’t worry, Michaeli was about to insult almost everyone on the planet. Not only is marriage not about love, it is an indictment on society for it is, according to Michaeli and Grayling, a system of oppression. Merav Michaeli went even further and alleged that marriage is a danger to children,

“The core family is the least safe place for children”.

“The custody, this total custody that we have in this structure of marriage which still gives men domination, complete domination over their children and too often over their women … is a part of the ongoing hurt in children.”

When host Virginia Trioli asked Ms Michaeli what is her alternative to marriage and the nuclear family, the answer was, the State should take responsibility for determining who will raise children. In other words, it should not be assumed that biological parents will raise their own children. In fact parents should not have inherent  rights to raise their children, but the State should be given authority to allocate children to what Michaeli calls, ‘share households’.

If your jaw dropped last night, I understand why. Pause for a moment and hear what Michaeli is suggesting; parents should not have the right to raise their own children. I’m guessing that Australians are sensible enough to know how absurd and immoral that idea is. It’s crazy. It’s George Orwell revisited. While we may not be in 1984, we do however need to appreciate that should marriage be redefined, the State will encourage children to be raised without one or both biological parents. Same sex marriage, even more than existing adoption laws, will institutionalise the raising of children without both biological parents. Not for a second am I suggesting that the State will be knocking on doors and taking children away without parental consent, but it does encourage a culture where children can and should be raised without mum or dad.

I have no doubt that there are Australians who have had a terrible experience in marriage. I know couples today whose marriages are not the beautiful and safe relationship that they imagined it would be. There are however many more examples where marriage does not reflect, in any way, the negative and abusive regime model that Michaeli describes. And where marriages have failed and are broken, most couples celebrate this situation, they wish that their experience was one where marriage was full of love and security and flourishing.

it is also important to note that, Michaeli and Grayling were not describing marriage as it was in the beginning, or the countless wonderful ways in which marriage has been expressed throughout history in different cultures. Instead, their arguments depend on taking poor historical examples of marriage, and fallaciously presenting them as normative.

The very first marriage is described in terms of goodness and intimacy and faithfulness,

“for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs  and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

    for she was taken out of man.”

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

The Apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter 5 speaks of marriage with tenderness and other person centredness: a husband should lay down his life for his wife. A wife can choose to respect her husband, and help him be the kind of man he ought to be.

While both AC Grayling and Merav Michaeli said marriage was bad, both they, and Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, presented the concept of marriage as relative and so not fixed in any ontological or purposeful way. Despite this, every historical example of marriage that was inferred in last night’s program, depended on the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman. Why is that? Could it be that no matter the extent to which a society tries to recalibrate marriage, in less than helpful ways, some things remained unchangeable?

The program also revealed that debates over marriage are much more complex than often presented. Among those who support classical marriage, are arguments grounded in biology, ontology, sociological reasons for raising children, and at times theology. Common among those advocating for marriage change is the view that marriage is a malleable and ultimately groundless institution that should reflect what people want it to mean. The logical extension of this view is exactly what we find Merav Michaeli advocating: let’s get rid of marriage altogether.

The lesson from history is not that marriage is wrong or that marriage is relative, but that we grieve when marriage goes awry.  When society adopts the less than ideal of marriage, surely the answer is not to further walk away from the ideal, but to return to it?

Listening to last night’s conversation on QandA once again reminded me that the first question Australian should be asking, what is marriage? Is marriage love is love, or something more? Is marriage a meaningless term that everyone has the right to use however they choose? Is marriage about property rights?

 

 

 

Yes, SSM is about more than just marriage

Australians have been told again and again that the marriage debate is only about love and equality for marriage. Fairfax columnist, Aubrey Perry, has today argued that “it’s about much more”. Perry admits that changing the Marriage Act is about removing all influence of Judeo-Christianity in Australian political and public life:

“This survey offers us a conscious opportunity to make a firm stand in support of a secular government and to reject discrimination or favouritism based on religion. It’s our opportunity to say that religion has no part in the shaping of our laws. A vote against same-sex marriage is a vote for religious bias and discrimination in our legislation, our public schools, our healthcare, and ultimately, in the foundation of our social structure.”

 

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Inadvertently, Aubrey Perry has just torn a sizeable hole in the ‘yes’ campaign for same-sex. Readers who share her fears about Christianity will no doubt be elated, but other Australians are left wondering, so this whole debate is really about religion? And it is about education, politics, and even abortion? As though mediating Roz Ward, who has insisted that she authored the Safe Schools curriculum to program children toward socialism, Perry presents marriage as the front line fight against Christianity in this country.

Unfortunately though, Perry’s presentation of Christianity often looks more like a cartoon than it does authentic Christianity, and in doing so she makes a series of factual errors.

For example, contra Perry, Christianity cannot be defined as right wing politics. There are many Christians who feel comfortable across the political spectrum. Is Perry whitewashing the Christian convictions of members of the Australian Labor Party? Christian theism is neither defined by left or right politics but by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This good news from God cannot be squeezed into the small and narrow reaches of any political party, for it counters all such human categories and gives us a greater and more stunning alternative.

Also, in a fantastic revision of history, Perry alleges that, “Religious intolerance has kept the possibility of same-sex marriage an impossibility for decades”. Well, no. Until recent years no one, anywhere, in the world would have believed marriage was anything other than between a man and a woman. It didn’t matter whether one believed in God or not, same sex marriage was a non starter. It remains the case today, that many religious and non religious people simply don’t believe that same sex marriage is logical or good for society.

Finally, it needs pointing out that true secularism is not the absence of religious thought, but the freedom to speak regardless of ones religious affiliation, or lack thereof. Perry’s argument for a secular state is not true secularism, it’s imposed atheism. It is anti-pluralism. If the only permitted discourse is void of language deferring to God and religion, then what we will have is exclusive and intolerant atheism.

Anti-religious world views have had a shot at taking charge of nations, and they have produced for the world Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot,  and North Korea. I’m fairly sure that this is not the kind of country most Australians are wanting to become.

The reality is, it is a Judeo-Christian framework that enshrined into law how no single religion would control public policy, but instead the people should persuade and argue their case. Is this so bad? According to Aubrey Perry it is worse than bad, and we must use the marriage survey as a demonstration that we will no longer tolerate religious views in the public square.

Perry has done Australians a great service though, in being honest enough to show Australians that same sex marriage is not really about marriage, but is about removing the religious and social foundations that have given this country the freedoms, prosperity, and security that we today enjoy. I hope Australians will read her article and consider their decision in light of these confessions.

Father’s Day is telling

“For I too was a son to my father,

    still tender, and cherished by my mother.” (Proverbs 4:3)

 

For many families tomorrow is a special day. It’s a wonderful opportunity for family to get together, to enjoy pointless $2 gifts from school Father’s Day stalls, and to eat more cake.

I’m not a big Father’s Day enthusiast, not because there’s anything wrong with it, but it’s not me. I love my Dad, and I adore my 3 children, but I’ve never felt as though I needed a special day to remind me of Fatherhood.

During the week, Channel 9’s breakfast show, Today, ran a poll asking the question,

“Should Father’s Day be renamed “Special Person’s Day?” 

Why? Because, according to University of Sydney academic,  Miriam Giugni, such celebrations need to be more inclusive. Father’s Day excludes, well, non Dads, and in today’s society that’s unacceptable. Wait for May next year and see how that idea flies for Mother’s Day!

It is all very ridiculous, except that ridiculous has become the new standard for public morality. It’s as though we went to bed last night and have woken up on the set of Inception. We are living in one of the craziest generations: boys and girls should no longer be called boys and girls, marriage isn’t what all the world has always thought it was, the Victorian Government tried to allow its citizens to change the gender on their birth certificate (once every year), and Father’s Day should become Special Persons day.

 

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Leaving aside the question of Father’s Day, there is something natural, good, and wholesome about Fathering, as there is with the irreplaceable role of Mums. We can’t always pinpoint why, but mums and dads compliment each other, and together they form a dynamic duo for the raising of children.

Every child has a mother and a father; it is of course a biological impossibility for there to be children without them. We know that in some families children are raised without one or both parents, and others grow up in homes where a parent is abusive. I have friends who have been in these situations, and none believe that having a loving Father and Mother is undesirable and unnecessary. Not for a moment I am suggesting that other families are lesser; I know too many single parents doing a wonderful job at raising their children, and there are adults excelling in life despite growing up in an unloving and even abusive home. Very few people would however argue that those situations were ideal.

In Sara McLanahan and Isabel Sawhill’s recent essay, “Marriage and Child Wellbeing Revisited:Introducing the Issue”, they explain,

“Whereas most scholars now agree that children raised by two biological parents in a stable marriage do better than children in other family forms across a wide range of outcomes, there is less consensus about why.” [1]

New research also shows how Father loss impacts the wellbeing of children, even their physical health. [2]

Father’s Day reminds us that Dad’s play an integral role in their children’s lives. It may take a village to raise a child, but the village can’t replace mum and dad. In those situations where children can’t be raised by their mother and father, we grieve them not celebrate them.

Millie Fontana is an Melbourne woman who was raised by 2 lesbian parents. She loves her 2 mums, and even supports same-sex marriage, however she is deeply concerned by the practice of raising children without both biological parents. She said in an interview on Triple J,

“I’m an atheist. But our story needs to be told. It’s natural to want a mum and a dad. But when we speak, we are told we are homophobes and Christians’.

“It was very hard for me to establish a stable identity,” Millie said. “It was negatively impacting my development.”

‘There was always something missing.”

I realise that some people are claiming that this marriage debate has nothing to do with children. Penny Wong, on the other hand, gave an impassioned speech in Parliament recently about her children while advocating SSM. The reality is, while marriage is about more than just having children, marriage provides the natural and ideal context for raising children.

However, should the Marriage Act change by removing the language of man and woman, Australian society will require an  increasing number of children to grow up without their father, or in the case of a gay marriage, without their mother. There is a world of difference between instituting marriages where children have no chance to be raised by both biological parents, and a society that lovingly practices retrieval ethics when children sadly cannot be at home with both mum and dad.

The question is quite simple, should children ideally be raised by their mother and father? And if so, should the State sanction marriages that will prevent this from happening?

On Friday, ABC television host, Charlie Pickering sent out this tweet in response to an Sky News interview with Liberal MP, Andrew Hastie,

“What an incredible load of bullsh!t. If ideas like that make it through, you have to recalibrate your bullsh!t filter.”

What did Andrew Hastie say that was so awful?

“If we expand marriage, we also redefine it and we render it genderless.”

No matter what side of the marriage debate one takes, Andrew Hastie’s statement is true. It is the logical outcome of removing gender requirements from the Marriage Act. If marriage is no longer between a man and a woman, then it is a genderless institution. Which of course then raises the question, what then is marriage? Instead of engaging Hastie with any semblance of argument or intelligent rebuttal, Pickering chose to join those who belong to the team called slander.

I’m not suggesting that there are not individuals on the ‘no’ side, who haven’t said awful things. There have been, and we should call those offences for what they are.

To the detriment of this country, reasoned discourse is being for the most part, shouted down by a flood of vitriol and threats. If we can cool our heads for a few moments, and consider this,

We know that kids deserve a mum and dad, and we want society to continue to reflect this common good. Given that, should we redefine marriage?

 

 

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[1] Sara McLanahan is the editor-in-chief of the Future of Children, as well as the director of the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and the William S. Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Isabel Sawhill is a senior editor of the Future of Children, as well as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

[2] “Father Loss and Child Telomere Length”, Pediatrics (Aug 2017), vol.140/2, by Colter Mitchell, Sara McLanahan, Lisa Schneper, Irv Garfinkel, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Daniel Notterman.