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Faith Forum - Marriage Equality Conference

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[00:00:00] This podcast is brought to you by marriage equality campaign, Wellington and province ID. com. [00:00:07] I think that faith is underlying a lot of the anxieties that we're addressing around marriage equality. And it's quite easy just to dismiss people of faith and faith views as big as as ignorant and unhelpful. And indeed, some of them are. But I think it's also important and somewhat that maybe the person is talking about media earlier talked about the need to understand those who we disagree with. And I think that's really important for us. As we look at this, I just be quite interested to know a little bit about you. So if I could just if you don't participate at all, if you don't want to, but if you could just raise your hand if you've ever been part of a face community. [00:00:53] And if you're still a member of your community, right, this is [00:00:59] a perfect one. [00:01:01] A perfect sample of the New Zealand public, [00:01:03] I think, [00:01:04] yeah, so this is an assumption, assume that people know some stuff, but also, that most people aren't aware with what's happening about this issue within faith communities at the moment, apart from those that are really visible in the media, and also wanted to talk to start by talking about why I'm involved in this and about why St. Andrews on the terrorist is involved, because we're very aware that around homosexual law reform, the Human Rights exchanges, civil unions, constitutional reform, as well. And this now this law, that the most vocal opponents are coming from a faith perspective. And so that's the perspective that we need to understand and address. But what I also want to share with you is that while it doesn't get a lot of media coverage, there are huge numbers of people of faith, who don't have a problem with this legislation. And they often not the people in positions of power and leadership, and a few of us are able to, to speak as leaders, but there, you shouldn't assume that, that because the person is Christian, or Muslim, or Hindu or Sikh or whatever, that they are opposed to this legislation. And one of the things that I think in terms of strategies that we have to look at is how can we, you know, we were talking about in the previous thing about building alliances, with straight and gay students building alliances, I like to think about how can [00:02:30] we [00:02:32] build as a movement as a campaign, and strengthen our alliances with people of faith who are going to be helpful for us, because it's a bit like the media about the niche media idea to you actually have to address yourself with a particular audience in mind. And one of the things that I hope will that will come out of this is that people of faith, while there will be some really vocal people who need to change their mind, they'll be other people who start to look at the face in a different way. And to learn that there are people are faced, for whom, you know, homophobia is not the bottom line. [00:03:09] I think that's important. A lot of people, you know, say things like, Well, you know, if you believe if you're a Christian, and what the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, therefore, you have to believe that and a lot of secular New Zealanders is to Neptune. So I think it's quite important that people understand that there are a lot of people of faith in New Zealand and around the world who aren't literalist about the tix. We are people who have a sacred text. But it's not one book that the Bible for us is a library. It's a whole lot of books created over a very long period of time. Oral stories that are thousands of years old, and written down over over a period of over 1000 years. So within those stories, within those books, in the Bible, there are lots of different story worries, there are multiple accounts of human relationships, multiple accounts of understanding how we are to be in relation with one another, sexually and otherwise. And I think of the Bible is not so much as a rule book about human sexuality. In fact, it's a very lousy book about human sexuality. But it is the story of people of generations of people of first of all a tribal people. And then nomadic people. And then people who begin to settle in cities, and developed a whole kingdom, people who were sent into exile as a result of losing the war, internet, this theology changed because they were in a different place, they were no longer in control and making lots of rules about how things should be like if I did Leviticus, but they were out in the, in the wilderness, in a place where they were no longer in control. And so their theology, their understanding of who they were in relation to God, changed enormously. And then you get, what was the story, the struggles that hit that we're hitting on Judaism around the time of the birth of Jesus. And really, you know, Jesus was Jewish, in case anyone didn't notice. And what was going on in Judaism was a huge tumult, around the direction that Judaism would go in. And really, what Jesus lived was a Jewish reform movement. And then the New Testament developed through a period where people were being persecuted after the fall of the temple in Jerusalem. And so their identity became really oppositional to the Jews, the ones who were called the Jews and the Bible, because they were really the ones who weren't accepting these kind of Christian Jews. So you have to read the Bible. And with all the understanding that politics and understanding the power struggles, and understanding the different sorts of literature that it is some of its old, old stories like Adam and Eve, the story, it's not about how the will begin, it's a story of understanding what our relationship is the sacred into the earth. And we might have it we might tell a different story now. But the story kind of made sense to them at the time, and it says things like, you know, women shall suffer in childbirth, well, that was before painkillers. So and but it wasn't saying that it was necessary for women to suffer in childbirth, it was just explaining what happened. And so those some of those sacred stories are written for that kind of purpose. Some of them are the stories of prophets who thought, you know, the society is really going off the rails, the rich have got all the power, the poor people are being trampled, there is no love shown in the nation. And so they were calling the people back to this sort of to being authentic and good people. And then, you know, I think Jesus was about also about sort of reforming the tradition, and a lot of stuff about critique of legalism critique of people who are taking the rules that they've inherited, and using those to oppress people. So he said, things like, you know, human beings, the Sabbath is made for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath. So we've got a stuff in there in those tips that can be incredibly liberating. But sadly, it's often used to better people over the heads with. So I think that's helpful. And one of the things I'm really interested in is what I call spiritual self defense, for people who are not involved in faith communities, to know [00:07:17] to kind of [00:07:18] think about what the Bible is, so that if you're engaged in conversations, you can have enough information to kind of point out the complexity of this document, there are contradictions and that doesn't mean that it's not a wonderful story, a wonderful resource for understanding human beings, but it's certainly not a rulebook for how we should be today. So moving just more clearly into I mean, I will just briefly deal with the, what we call the tix of terror that the tix that are used to beta game is the people and particularly young people. [00:07:53] And really, the important thing to notice about those is that the ones that that are in the Hebrew Bible, simply don't have authority over Christians. Now also live versus texts. I don't think that you know, they're in there with a whole lot of rules about all sorts of things you probably heard this about not eating shellfish and not planting mixed crops and and you know, I have a young woman in my congregation who made this fabulous t shirt that says God hates shrimp you know what so you know, there are all sorts of things that are not relevant to us but there are some tix in the in the New Testament that are much more problematic. But the important thing for us to realize when we look at those tix now is that we interpret them with a with the scientific knowledge that we have an all of those texts in the Bible that seem to be condemning same homosexuality, or condemning same six x between people who are assumed to be history sexual, not homosexual, because the Bible that within the biblical tradition, there's no understanding of variety of human sexual orientation. The feminine people, right from the ancient through to the early church assumed that God created everyone, male and female in straight. So given that we have a whole raft of scientific and social and psychological knowledge about human sexuality, it's incumbent on us to use this. I mean, we have we have been creative with brains. And we don't leave those aside of where people of faith, so nothing in the Bible is actually speaking, to condemn gay people who in gay relationships, and I think we can say that very clearly. Because the challenge in the Bible is to people to go against the nature that's what was up ceasing to the biblical writers, they thought it was wrong to go against your nature. But if you are, in fact, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, then what is natural for you is going to be different. So I think we need to really claim that and, and challenge biblical literalism. [00:10:04] I'll say a little bit about marriage, and in a minute, but I just wanted to share with you two resources that I think are incredibly helpful and free on the internet. One is a little booklet called homosexuality and the Bible by Walter wink. And I have this as a PDF that anyone can email me if you like a copy, but you can also just Google it, and it is [00:10:31] available on the on the web. [00:10:40] So if you're in a situation where you're going home for the [00:10:42] holidays, if you're a student, [00:10:44] and you know that you're going to encounter those kind of awkward Christmas dinner conversations, where somebody's going to find out that you're involved in marriage equality, and your great uncle is going to say something about not just you could just give him a copy of this, because it really, it's, it's free, it's easy, but and you have a reader at first, because it does just deal with exactly the same stuff that I'm saying about what's what, what the biblical tips are actually addressing, and what they're not. [00:11:12] And the other one, you can download, it's called what the Bible says and doesn't say about homosexuality. And it's [00:11:22] produced by a wonderful organization [00:11:25] called soul force. [00:11:29] And their website is really worth having a look at [00:11:33] what the Bible says. [00:11:44] They do a lot of great work [00:11:47] in, in kind of non violent action. And the picture on the front of this booklet is showing people standing outside of church assembly, holding photographs of gay and lesbian people who have suffered as a result of what the church has done. So they they're very activist in the sort of Martin Luther King style of non violent activism, being out there and calling churches that continue to hurt people, and to cause damage to account. But they also have another little book and they cover a lot of the same texts in the dust with the same information. [00:12:24] In terms of marriage itself. [00:12:28] What have you can you tell me some of the things that you've heard people say about marriage? Have you heard religious claims about marriage? [00:12:37] Right? This is right, some of the [00:12:49] interesting chosen. [00:12:55] Sorry, sorry, why Why? Why four wives, right. [00:13:01] You don't [00:13:02] need to hear religious people making that argument to you. This is [00:13:06] our response to family life International. And this admission, this was made by a Catholic couple states that marriage was natural, it was the biological imperative. [00:13:19] Measure same sex relations and [00:13:21] the animals. But anyway, so the best sort of was saying that anything that isn't man and wife is unnatural, by definition, it's unsafe for children because it doesn't have that [00:13:35] natural [00:13:39] so that [00:13:40] it's kind of a value chain for a long time. Yeah. [00:13:45] seems to be very popular. That quote meant you know it for sex. [00:13:51] Marriage became one moment and and one woman one man without actually reading the whole chapter [00:13:56] piece, which is about divorce. Yeah, [00:13:59] yeah. Some of the protection of chocolate right. [00:14:04] And that was made. [00:14:08] Yeah. [00:14:11] Yeah. Okay. [00:14:18] Just institution. Okay. [00:14:27] So I'm the I like the recent one. What does that to mean? Shall I mean, live next to each other? I shall be starting. [00:14:36] The US [00:14:40] legalize marijuana and [00:14:49] yeah. [00:14:52] So [00:14:54] in terms of responding to that, you probably are all you know, you've probably already started to think through this. I mean, it's the local Catholic priests presented just after Sunday, Andrews on the terrorists under the submission the other day. And he, he said, you know, the procreation argument, which is very common with the case of response. [00:15:13] And the [00:15:14] select committee pushed him a little bit and said, We know one of somebody was unable to have children. And he said, Well, at least they have the potential to have children. And one of the people on the committee said, Well, what if someone's head appearing and can't serve the woman's had a Varian cancer, and they know they can't have children? And he said, Well, at least she had the potential to have children when she was born. You know, so it's a, it's a pretty limited argument. And I think they know this, too. I mean, I think it is, that we're, we're of the limits of this. So and another you, you do get the, [00:15:47] the concern that, you know, we will somehow if we allow same sex marriage, then all the straight people will have same sex marriages in the population will decrease. And that I mean, it kind of goes back to the biblical understanding of, you know, subduing the earth and go forth and multiply. And I think, you know, people of faith can think, more deeply than this. And we can look at the world that we're in now, which isn't a flipped world. You know, Fletcher's was a dome shaped hip and over the top of it. And so we make different decisions about what's an ethical imperative class. But I think if you look at you know, we people do know about the multiple wives and things, but really, what you see in the biblical accounts of relationships is a tremendous change over time. Now, these people were nomadic people. And then they were sea salt people, and they [00:16:41] didn't, they went through a period of disposition. And so marriages changed. Internet, they changed depending on whether people were poor people, whether they were sort of in danger of losing their life, livelihood on their land, or whether they were wealthy people, and they never been in a marriage was often about political alliances. And it kept going through, you know, the first 2000 years of Christian tradition as well. Marriage historically, has had a great deal to do with politics, with you know, alliances between families, in not a lot to do with the things that we think are crucial for marriage. So what you what you see, really is the unions that are described in the Bible, are different depending on different times and places. And they evolve in kind of tandem with the other cultural and political shifts that are going on that are described. And even I mean, a lot of the ones that seem really bizarre to us like polygamy and sort of being forced to men and women having to marry her husband's brother, if he dies, those kind of things. They are part of the older, tribal nomadic traditions. But even in the New Testament, there's real ambivalence about marriage. And marriage is not the, you know, husband, wife, and 2.4 kids and a dog marriage was, [00:18:03] was often kind of discouraged in the, in the early New Testaments time that we've been told now that everybody kind of, is obliged to, to marry and procreate, but St. Paul said that people should marry rather than burn. And that was born with passion. So it was a way of sort of controlling human sexuality. And also, one of the questions that came up, one of the things that we've seen in our submission from dangerous to the select committee is that [00:18:35] this really silence on same sex marriage in Scripture, and it's just not addressed. And we can't, we can't find any support for it. And we can't find any combination of it, because it's just simply outside of the prerogative, outside of the [00:18:51] possibilities [00:18:52] for that community to think about. And one of the people on the select committee asked some tantrums on the tourists. [00:19:00] Mr. You know, [00:19:01] why would you assume that from silence, there was approval. And I think our perspective on that is that when there is silence, and there's silence on so many important ethical questions, and genetic engineering, you know, nuclear war, all sorts of things that were just not part of the worldview, then we have to look for other ways of interpreting scripture. And I think that's what's not getting through. Because if you look at the the method that Christians need, that I believe that Christians need to use, it's, it's to look at the sort of overarching themes of Scripture like love and justice. And I thought, I really think that justice should be the basis of how we make decisions about whether same sex marriage is to be valued by our society or not. And I don't just mean justice in a kind of, you know, treating people equally, but sort of visionary justice, about the kind of society that we want, where people are welcome and included, and able to become who they need. today. [00:20:03] I could tell you quite a lot about the history of marriage, after biblical times, but I think the point is just to be aware of the diversity of the tradition. And to be aware that to be a person of faith doesn't mean that people will hold homophobic ideas. And one of the things somebody in a forum that some of us were actually, while ago, accused me of hating the church. And I thought about it that I was kind of gobsmacked at the time. But I thought about it afterwards. And I thought, actually, I love the church enough to expect it to be the best of it can be to be what it's called to be by its founder, who was Jesus. And for me, that means, you know, helping the church to be loving and just and focusing on things that really matter. And I think there's so much more that's threatening to society, then same sex marriage, I think economic injustice is probably the most frightening thing to our society, lack of a living wage benefit reforms that are punitive. I mean, those are things that are a threat to the family. And I'm quite pleased that not only there's standards on the terrorists submitting on this piece of legislation, but next week, some of us are going to submit on the benefit reform legislation, and about the kind of venues that underlying a piece of legislation that seeks to make some people, Lisa, members of our society, so I love the church, enough to really want it to be much better than it can be. And but I am really aware of the damage that's still done. And I see that in the previous session about people who are continuing to actively persecuting gay and lesbian people because of their sexuality, I know that we've still got a lot of work to do. Sometimes I would just, I just think I should just walk away, it's just, you know, so for some of the stuff that happens. But then I think, actually, the person who I've been talking, he doesn't live in Wellington found me because St. Andrews is visible about this issue. And they knew that they could talk through issues of faith and sexuality and be supported. So I think that's what we're called to be. [00:22:15] So I really want us to have a discussion about some of these things. So stop talking, and just a second. But one of the things I just wanted to flag that I'm really interested in trying to find in terms of alliances, is I think that there are, it's very clear that there are huge, there are a significant number of Christians who are supportive of this. Within our church with the Presbyterian Church, which is not very liberal at the moment, and the stage of its life, a quarter of the people at our general assembly was supportive of marriage equality and 75%. We were not, which seems terrible, but the assembly as a pretty consumers have not fully representative part of our church. And I think it's important that people keep realizing that, you know, maybe it's a third or a quarter, whatever, depending on which part of the church we're looking at, that there really are people who need encouragement from us as a campaign to kind of come out as Christians who have an alternative view. And we won't achieve that by belittling their face, will achieve that by sort of helping them be the best people of faith that they can be. So I, I want to really encourage a civil conversation around this, I get personally frustrated and pissed off with people who stays say stupid and homophobic things. But I think it is really important that we engage, you know, with respect with people who defer to us in and really find a way forward. And so this brings me to the last thing I want to say in terms of campaigning and thinking through this as I think there's a piece of the Alliance that's missing in it, or New Zealand, that people in the states have done visa on. And I read about this, particularly in Maryland and the United States, which is one of the states that recently voted for marriage equality. And two of the people who are most significant in the multi million dollar, I must say, ad campaigns around marriage equality, were to Baptist ministers, and they spoke on and the TV interviews as people who wouldn't who did not believe theologically in same sex marriage, they were at the the personal understanding of what marriage is meant that it was between a man and a woman. However, they spoke passionately about the rights of people who believe differently than they did to have access to civil marriage. And that's a voice that I don't think we've heard in the New Zealand conversation yet. So I think we should go to the pace at to our families, and then you know, around the country in the in the summit and talk to the relatives who are still religious and find out if there are people who can help us build that Alliance, because I think there is a lot of fear and anxiety it's been, it's been cultivated by particular people who wants to make people of faith afraid. But I think those voices of people who can just help people understand that, you know, you we can hold our religious beliefs, and they are different than my religious beliefs. But with that they can hold those beliefs, but not seek to impose them on people who hold other religious beliefs, or people who hold no religious belief when what we're looking at as a civil marriage issue. So that that's what I want to say, I'm really happy to hear other people's contributions. Yeah. Okay. [00:25:35] Okay, Jones, I'm a member of five faith communities. [00:25:40] And we're in the best part, because we're world religions, if you sort of go across sort of all of them, there's more in common with issues like compassion, kindness, caring for each other. And, and I have friends who have a friend who was Julius, bn and another who's an Islamic, a Muslim lesbian there and the relationship between I mean, they obviously have to deal with those sort of issues within their community. So within each faith community, there are going to be LGBT people and families. [00:26:11] I was one of the drafters of the Unitarian Church of Wellington, and submission in support of the bill, which has been presented to our Facilities Committee that was endorsed by the Auckland group, some of the issues that we raised in our submission with respect. New Zealand has a statement of religious diversity that [00:26:33] support freedom of religious belief. So the Unitarians, Quakers, and a number of other progressive faith communities want to offer same sex marriages as part of their rights. So for any conservative religious group to say, No, you can't, that actually goes against that whole respect for other religions. Respect for look for marriage as a commitment to between two people. That's another thing that the Unitarians hopes to respect for human rights. That's what the Unitarians have. Now, for those who don't know if Unitarians instead of a trinity and church, which is God, Father, you know, and Jesus, that all three of them together, so it's nothing illogical. [00:27:21] God and Jesus, as all been one sort of grouping. And Unitarians tend to have a belief in some cases in God, speak for Jesus as a human who's pleased, but you have atheist Unitarians, you have pagan Unitarians. It's more about discussion to find the truth. And so another thing that we started was respect for science, and all of the science on things like parenting, sort of bringing up children, internationally acclaimed that gay and lesbian couples at absolutely as good parents, as in the straits couples. Part of their submission included the attachment from the marriage come Psychological Association, 96 pages of the research summarizing, saying that, you know, same sex couples to justice go to parenting, there was the decision of the food court District Court of Florida saying, they have heard so many bad parent arguments that they're not going to hear anymore. They're just saying, as a statement, same sex couples are just as good. And they can be better than biological parents if they're looking after the children. So those are some of the scientific basis of our submission, which can be made available, anybody wants to get a copy, just see me afterwards. So I've just said, this is the Unitarian churches submission to the committee, the Quakers of New Zealand have put in a submission. Also very brief one pager basic human rights they supported the couple of who signed that submission, are two women who meet within the Quaker church, and they're now in a civil union with each other. But they the community would like that to [00:28:57] be a marriage. [00:28:59] So this is an so there's lots of people of different faiths. But also, we want to be able to embrace our LGBT parishioners and families and offer marriage if those people wanted. [00:29:14] And I think that it is important to recognize that there are people of faith who feel at the moment that the state is limiting our ability to practice our faith. And we believe that it's dangerous, because we would we have officiated [00:29:32] quite a number of civil unions, since the civil union war came, and we were able to offer marriage and civil union to the straight couples in our community, but only several union to gay couples. And so it was actually like the status kind of limiting our freedom of religion at the moment. So it's not just other religious groups. But at the moment, the state is kind of privileging one particular view, theological view, and the state's got no business in doing. [00:30:01] And I was really grateful to the people who submitted I did a longer submission for Christians for marriage equality that sort of dealt with some of the technical and theological arguments. But the people from Cydia, Andrews just came and talked about our community and one of them was 87 years old, and her son, [00:30:21] her only son had died of AIDS in at a time when he couldn't come out fully to their family. And they dealt with this woman's husband who since died, dealt with it by saying to the relatives that he had cancer. And the relatives that knew were pretty hostile and referred to him as a pervert. But she also honored the love that he had received from the gay community from people who really knew how to love and be friends. But then she talked about coming to some Andrews is a mother at that stage, she hadn't been able to speak out for her son, because of her husband this views. But what she wanted to do now was to speak out in solidarity for gay and lesbian people who didn't want to marriage, that was a really powerful story. And then the other woman who spoke it's quite much younger, not quite 30. And she into a partner had just had a baby who was being breastfeed in order to be kept quiet. In the in the seats of the select committee, and they hit, they hit, hit the relationship pleased. It's Sunday, Andrew, so they had a civil union. And the baby had been baptized in our congregation just a few weeks earlier. And it was really wonderful because they, the parents were there at the baptism making promises, as was the donor did in his wife, and the two children kind of [00:31:43] all up [00:31:44] around the font together, in that that's what we witness to that, you know, when we do that, because of our faith. So for the stage to sort of stop us being able to be fully equal. It's a real problem for us. I mean, we really haven't changed. [00:32:00] Other people. I'm sorry, I'm actually, every time someone says something, I think of a couple of things. [00:32:03] Yeah, [00:32:05] one of the really interesting things about having this whole debate with Bill and all the debaters that have been Gina is to ask, as a society what we think marriage really means. And I think one of the most fundamental questions is, is religion apart of there is some religious element. You know, one of the things you need to take off, or you can say what you've got as an actor, I mean, I personally, I don't think so personally, for me, marriages, that commitment between two people who love each other to support each other, there's their lives, and there's no religious element, either which way about it? [00:32:36] And the question, and [00:32:37] I think that is kind of the social view that I, I see, I may be wrong, and people may disagree, but I see is sort of the direction in which these young men, similar countries, a guy, which I think raises another issue, which is if we have one civil sort of like definition of marriage, can other definitions within religious groups that are still practice and protected by the state privately? Can they continue to exist? If we had a state this is this is what marriage means anyone who is capital that's each other can apply for a marriage license. That's what we call marriage is the state, does that indirectly threaten religious groups? Who do legitimately believers between men and women? And is that a problem? I can see where people from religious groups are coming from. And they said, this bill harms us. Because it's kind of a state saying, This is what we now think Americans and people who legitimately don't believe that might get that sort of culturally. And so how do you respond to that which I can empathize with? I wouldn't lose any sleep over it come into possession. At the same time, I understand. [00:33:39] Yeah, and I think, you know, it's, it's hard to help people. Because New Zealand is such a secular country, the whole sort of place of religion [00:33:47] within our [00:33:48] society is kind of unclear. And we do need to keep having these conversations, in my response is that it doesn't take away because people, and I wish we had in the other day talking about, you know, beyond marriage, and they have, I really wish we had been colonized by people other than the UK, people on this, because if we'd had a European system, that's exactly what would happen is that you would go to everybody has to go to a registry office and get legally married. And then if you want to have either a secular or spiritual or religious celebration, you go off and do that afterwards. And if we had that, I think we wouldn't have the kind of anxiety that we have now. So it's a bit of, maybe we just kind of beginning to untangle that miss that we've got, you know, as a minister, I'm automated of the Presbyterian Church, I'm automatically a marriage celebrant. So I have an authorized by the state to do that seems really strange. Yeah. But if [00:34:44] I could just jump in here. One of the readings I recently went to was at a Greek Orthodox Church, and part of the information given to all the people there is you do not have an automatic right to be married within that church, you have to first be a member of that congregation and completely approved to have that that marriage celebrated there. So it's not even within a straight couple, it's not automatic, you can't just bowl up. And that is a particular set of rights that do not in fact, allow either the husband or the bride to speak at the waiting service, all the speaking is done for them. And they have to promise to have children as soon as possible. And it's like, it's very tightly controlled. And that's within the current laws. And it won't change [00:35:29] when the bill goes through. [00:35:33] With [00:35:34] the changing attitudes of society to marriage, and I know that sometimes, especially with some of the arguments from family first, it's this weird blend of religious and also seeking arguments with natural definitions and such [00:35:48] an argument I find useful as to look at the status of, especially the wife within a relationship, there was this really weird moment in New Zealand history, and nation 83, we have men tried to serve his wife, for stealing from him. And the court found that legally, he couldn't do that because the wife was his property, and someone's property can't steal from herself. [00:36:13] 10 years later, you know, when we're in franchise that it just kind of like for me that that's an illustration of how very different religious influenced I suppose, like, theories of marriage, but also that the came to secular have also changed. So perceptions are changing. And [00:36:31] in the 70s, it was still was still no such thing as rape and marriage. And you see if that if you signed, you are giving away your sexual self determination. [00:36:42] Two things I'd like to say really, first of all, I'd like to acknowledge the support I've had from church communities performer, which is a rural town, it's one small place. But so I can go down to the market without people coming up and shaking my head and giving me a hug, you know, from faith communities. So really, I would say, say, don't put them all in one basket. Every Christian is an individual. They all have different beliefs. And it's quite incredible the amount of support that I've seen coming from that, they always talk a little bit about what marriage really means to me. I was married up at some Matty's in the city, angling colleagues, again, somebody who's been incredibly supportive and really helpful. [00:37:19] I think what you can't do is limit marriage. And I think what's really important about what's happening here is you're opening that marriage up marriages, between two people. And it's a commitment they make together, it's not easy K, living in any relationship is not easy. I know something that was important to me, I am a Christian, was the when I stood up in front of that congregation, and my partner stood up in front of that congregation and we talked to that congregation, we made our promises in front of all our friends, and asked for all their help in terms of our marriage, and bringing up children. I think that's something that is just amazing. And something that marriage provides as a commitment to each other. doesn't always work. Okay. Sometimes it's hard. I still work in it every day. And I'm very, very happily married. But I think it's that commitment you make in front of other people. Certainly for me, that is the element and in front of your spirituality and yoga, whatever that spirituality is, that's really important. [00:38:25] Transparent when [00:38:25] it comes to Central Baptist. [00:38:28] Yeah, it's interesting conversation. And it's, it's something as a denomination, I think Baptist churches playing catch up with. Unfortunately, we do have [00:38:40] quite an independent nature of body. And we have number of pastors who tend to go off half cocked. [00:38:50] But the interesting things coming back to me as pastors writing back and saying, look, we've been reading up on this, because there's conversations happening, we're looking at it, and particularly looking at things like, Are we going to be forced to marry same sex couples, and they're looking at the leaf and the information which is out there? And they're saying, Well, no, we haven't had all that many atheists were being forced to marry recently. [00:39:21] It's absolutely yeah, it's it's self selecting. And it's not something we have to do anyway, the nature of it is much the same as as humans, other churches. [00:39:33] If you wanted to get married within that denomination, you're you're a member of a denomination. So [00:39:41] the interesting thing is, it's a local, every day, every conversation. And the more we look at the conversation, it's [00:39:52] what these people shooting mechanical design is actually an antithesis of what they brought church, and what the [00:40:04] things which we at core subscribe to, like soul liberty, are about [00:40:11] trying to prescribe that your Christian belief means that a tenant of your Christian belief is that you do not believe in same sex marriage is ridiculous. You know, [00:40:23] it's going back. Not too many years ago, people will be quoting scriptures about that woman should stay solid in the church. [00:40:33] We've managed to get past that. [00:40:37] But it's a conversation that that is going on. And hopefully, I know, [00:40:44] the fear, I think is, is in 15 years time, the church will be looking back and saying, Oh, we remain solid on this must mean, we were tested Lee and support. Unfortunately, that's not the way the Muslim community remain, right? Because that's not the way. [00:41:02] But it's a it's an ongoing conversation. So bear with us. [00:41:05] And you've got that, [00:41:07] that parallel to that you've got legislation, say, outlawing discrimination on race space basis, both in New Zealand in the US, but just last year, a Baptist pastor refused to marry a mixed race couple in a church in Mississippi. Now, [00:41:25] that's, you know, [00:41:27] something that there was an outcry about, but that couple didn't sort of keep challenging it. And that church, they went to it to a different church, everybody was horrified and, and sort of was was quite, you know, justified. So, but that was still something this happened within that legal framework. And that's like, you'd think that moved on. But [00:41:46] and actually, that was more bizarre than that. They went and mixed race capital, they were black capital. [00:41:50] Two different bumps. [00:41:51] Yeah. [00:41:52] Okay. Well, the one that I'm thinking about, they used to marry an African American capital in the white church. And that's the things you just need to about, you know, the we've changed, I think that's really important to draw people's attention to because despite the Anglicans in the UK, failing to acknowledge women bishops, generally, women's equality within a lot of Protestant churches is pretty much done and dusted and nobody's having these conversations. Okay, folks are still waiting to start that conversation. [00:42:23] And the previous purposes, they weren't to talk about it. But if you look at apartheid in South Africa, there was no that was biblically grounded in the eyes of people who supported this. And you know, there were people, Christian people who advocated passionately for the end of slavery, like will, will, will, William Wilberforce, but they were equally Christians who, who believed that, you know, God made humans some slaves and some not. And so as Christians, we put a great deal of history to make us extremely humble about the kinds of claims that we want to make. [00:42:56] JOHN Morgan, past member of the standards, creation and future people so now that 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning, going to recent changes menu, flat some streams and through them. [00:43:09] And I think I'll find give him some damage by 10 on a Sunday morning, which has been the only problem nothing to do with theology, getting to some damage by 10. On Sunday morning, the problems presents metabolism with the only reason I haven't been getting nothing to do with the honestly, whatever. [00:43:24] When in the 1996 book campaign, I went out to the church St. Davids retain district retaining room appearance got married on the 19th of July 1942, together with somebody else, I got an anti semitic reception. And I think many other people, the large numbers of people who were in peers, to, to church and to judge parish meetings, to church services, parish meetings, in the bill campaign gone pretty polite hearing, I think, our opponents who we should at all times treat with respect, by substitution regime may just like playing Leah, [00:44:00] we must treat our opponents with respect, I think at all times, crazies, most of them, obviously. [00:44:07] But I think that the average person on the, in the pews, I think outdoors got a lot of respect among us some of the respectful discourse in church gatherings tends to be dominated one thing by people very Asian, and two very, very badly by by by the opposition. But I think the average person on the parish Pew, I think there's a great deal of sympathy for our position. And if we try relating to the Christian community, on the assumption that they are hostile towards our course, that's politically inept, inherently inept, because it's not the case. [00:44:51] But just another thing, we've talked more about Christian faith communities in this gathering property, because there's more of us, but it's the heritage by the other faith communities in New Zealand, and they're increasing the number because we're getting to be more cosmopolitan, I think, even within those there are mixed, sort of, you know, gender and sexual orientations within the parishes, but they're not as used to talking about it, that doesn't mean that they're always hostile, but they'll probably be far less likely to come come out publicly and sort of say, Yes, we support the bill. The same way, the last night session, Lewis was saying that within the Pacific community, she gets a lot of individuals coming up to her saying, Yeah, they totally support what she's doing. But no, they're not going to go against the community leaders. Because that would be seen as being disrespectful to the so it's a difficult one to sort of actually, you know, you want you want these people to speak out. But they weren't always do that. So I mean, the main thing, I suppose is sharing support for each other and, and that discussion. And also, as opposed to those who are sympathetic, trying to help break down the fear and ignorance of those who don't know any visa, when can wash it, sing back sheet it, as does Smith and john Joseph, which of you is the husband in which the wife, and it didn't sound like he was actually making nasty points that sounded like he was just ignorant and didn't know any better, so that those people to know a little bit more, being able to share within their communities will be quite a helpful thing. You know, that crazy. [00:46:32] Somebody told me last night that somebody has found a statement from the Sikh community in Canada, that was supportive of marriage equality. So let's forget that kind of information out and support people who want to speak to their own communities, because there's no point in me going along as a raving Lee, liberal, Protestant, Christian, I'm like, I'm not going to have the entree into that community, but I can support people who are able to go and talk to their, to their own communities. [00:46:59] Sorry, sorry, I was gonna say I think I don't think there's a teaching at all and theory between religious groups and gay causes. And I think that provided the we keep advancing the gables as we've done by sharing stories and things like that, then religious objections will sort of dissipate along with Matt. And it's not based real objection isn't really based on religious dogma, they often use religious dogma to support what are really sort of fears that are just grounded in ignorance or lack of understanding of sexuality. And so you increase the education and understanding and the religious objections I think, will drop away. [00:47:37] And I think that, you know, that sort of religious self defense stuff about knowing about biblical stuff, that's one part of it. So that's useful if you need to have those kind of conversations. But the real thing that really makes a difference, and somebody said this morning, as comment said, it's the hard stuff, it's, it's when you know, gay, when conservative Christian families realize that they've got a gay kid, that it's sometimes it's making a difference. Sometimes the reaction is to terrible internet, the damage that's caused by that this is still really painful and awful. But I think that gradually, as people have the courage to come out, and you know, have a community to surround them, that that will make a difference to those communities. Because at the moment, there is so much fear. And some, you know, really conservative religious groups can extremely religious, conservative, religious groups can often live in a very tight little worldview with the books, they read, the music, they listen to, the films they watch, are all you know, part of that culture. And so it is really hard, and they only hear one particular way of looking at them. So it is, you know, they don't watch regular TV. So it is really hard to get, you know, a different perspective into those communities. And gay people, gay kids growing up in those communities need huge amounts of support. Because often, when they come out, they are, you know, losing their family, their church, their friends, and this is what's happened to this woman who I'm talking to who's 50, [00:49:00] hood, her church, [00:49:03] employment, your friends, everything was tied up in that world. And they, they believe it's their job to sort of get her back on the straight and narrow, and the methods that they use to do that are just kind of medieval and terms of persecution. And so I do think we need to be really compassionate, and to be very visible about offering support to such people. But you know, that's it comes out of compassion. You know, that's, that's the most important thing that affects that many faiths share. [00:49:34] Anyone else got, like, I'm also up for any kind of oppositional view about, you know, [00:49:43] based on sexuality to, [00:49:46] I have to, firstly, I wanted to thank you for your speech a few weeks ago, that was really helpful, especially dealing with the consumer father, and sharing that expression, welcome. [00:50:02] But I suppose I really struggle with the fact that religion, especially conservative religion, [00:50:12] seems unnatural, not be so accepting and so, so discriminating, I don't understand why they would do such a thing. You know, [00:50:23] it's all meant to be about the respect of each other. And, I guess to to touch on, is that, you know, [00:50:34] we're here at [00:50:39] afternoon it, I would love to open the whole point of conferences to be inclusive and welcoming, regardless of who you are, and that message gets right to religious communities. [00:50:53] I said, I mean, I, I feel very perplexed about the, [00:50:58] the unkindness and the judgment, tourism and the narrowness of some religious responses. And I do think actually, people who study religion and the state that religions in the moment, this is my belief, and not not, not all Christians would hold to this. But I think we're in a period, a bit like the reformation, which is when the Protestant church broke away from the Catholic Church and wanted a kind of renewal that was least institutional and better kind of recovering some of the messages that the Bible and that also let priests marry, and all sorts of huge amounts of [00:51:33] huge upheaval that was kind of connected to the politics and history, as well. And I think we're going through a similarly huge upheaval at the moment in terms of religion, hopefully away from an emphasis on a god that's out there, who kind of needs priests and, you know, mystery people to kind of connect with it, to an everywhere God. And I think that's what most New Zealand of spirituality is already about, it sort of seeing that, you know, God that I see in you, and you and you, when we connect with one another, and, and in a beautiful place that we are located. So, you know, I think that there will be lyst emphasis on doctrine, as religion emerges. And it's going to be hard for some religions, probably more hard for those that have got the sacred text, you know, which is sort of they think it's telling them what to do. But there really is a kind of renewal movement that is about people getting in touch with spirit, and compassion and, and sort of looking at what's really important. So I think that what you're referring to is kind of residual of religion is controlling, it's been, it's been part of our experience, since since Constantine, since the Emperor Constantine became a Christian and 300 and something or other. [00:52:48] Up until the end, Christians have been so oppositional to the state of people, they were martyred. They refuse to give allegiance to the imperial power, they were a really quite subversive group, constantly in production, some time became a Christian. And I think it was very smart on his part, because he sort of saw the Christians were a huge, you know, issue. And so he used, he kind of absorbed them into it. So Christianity, instead of becoming a sort of voice from the outside that critique, the power structure became incorporated in us. And, you know, I think that we've gone, you know, nearly 2000 years since then, and kind of lost that impetus that was kind of radical and inclusive. And, and I think that people are recovering some of it, and it's quite good. I'm really glad that I'm not the Minister of a church with enormous social power as ministers would have been, you know, 50 years ago, we belong on the margins, and they will. [00:53:43] Yeah, I see, it has been imparted tension between religion being the church, the institution, the control of marriage was about property. This was sort of how you control people's and you regulate things. And religion has been about spirituality and the connection between people individually and this disparate, the Deity, that this whole community compassion sort of love thing, so that a church can be in both sort of camps, but some, especially the hierarchical structure ones, like the Vatican with it, some critical property ownership, and the structures that are built up over time. Sometimes there's too much emphasis on the institutional focus of the religion and the people. Is it a legal grassroots? I mean, not yourself, you're somewhere in between ministry is is sort of, you know, [00:54:33] parenting, [00:54:35] we see when the end of the tension and not that the form was. So it's, it's, I mean, I think it's playing out in the Anglican Church in the UK as well, it is that the control of the top down versus what the people at another level wanted. And yeah, it says coming to the fore. But those of us who just want a spiritual space, I mean, I always encourage people if you live in a conservative church, but you still want that connection with a new life, there are other places you can go to, you know, like, and Wellington, you can go to Sundance as you go to other welcoming parishes. And wherever people are, they will be a spiritual home for them. That may not be the more institutional controlling one. I wish [00:55:13] that it was true for wherever people are, but it isn't true for a lot of New Zealand, sadly. [00:55:18] So yeah, hopefully, on the way here, I just come in on what you said before, um, I grew up in quite a fundamentalist, Christian environment and so [00:55:29] from, like, why they know in answer to your first question, kind of remember how you phrase it, I think it's because like I said, is, this is what God says. And we arrived, and, you know, nobody else can be right. Because we have the truth, we have the soul, like, we like the soul owns the truth or something. And so you're closer to the truth? If you're close to what we think Can you feel the way like I grew up with Catholics are Christians? So? Sorry, yeah. But in all sorts of other things. So I think that's kind of what it comes down to is like, we have right, you're wrong. Now shut up, convert, pretty much. [00:56:14] What I struggle with with religion is a focus on the abstract, rather than focus on the radio. I don't see any difference between a man and a woman in terms of fundamental human nature of who they are. I don't see any difference when you guys listen to this, right? Because I think that's either, you know, from my own life experience from talking to people from knowing people. And yet, I see what they're just doctrines of dogma that are being upheld, that is completely fundamental that I just can't find anything. You're just your dogma is based on a view of human nature, that's just fundamentally wrong. Why would I want to buy into that anyway. And so it's, it's hard to form any sort of link with Association. That's simply for the points that all those you know, some, in some respects, their right of mine tonight, timber, the churches are speaking very broadly about the church's view on poverty and local support is right in my palate, we should act towards one another, but to complete the country it is in other respects, it just leads me to write everything off. [00:57:10] Yeah, and let's say it, isn't it because there are potential alliances and, and I think often when I'm working across denominations, or people of other faiths, that that there are much better connections that we can make around economic justice issues, and environmental issues, and all sorts of things. But this one is still a huge sexuality is still a hugely problematic, and Jean de tocqueville noticed that, that kind of idea of a fixed male and female are and when we know, we have information to experience to suggest otherwise. And I think what you were saying about it's the abstraction, you know, that it's kind of like, having this idea about how things should be and projecting that onto a world that actually doesn't fit such. And it might have setups, you know, but even then, saving said it, it might have put it, when you look at the way marriage and families have been organized through that, you know, since the period since early Christianity, this huge diversity and the attitude. So women's roles, you know, what, until the Industrial Revolution, women's roles were very active in an economic sense that the household, everybody worked, so that you know that some of these ideas that we've got is sort of somehow fixed it to kind of reflect a situation from the maybe that maybe existed for a while in the 1950s and some Western countries. But you know, it's never been a universal absolute [00:58:29] experience. Or, else it's really important to realize, you know, just from my experience with the Catholic Church, so I'm not Catholic, was that it's also in a state of civil conflict right now in terms of what people believe, and the way that their doctrine violates the basic tenants of actually being kind to people and being compassionate. So on the one side, you've got a compassionate God will forgive all. And on the other side, you've got doctrine, saying, Thou shalt not thou shalt not thou shalt not. And it's quite hard, I think, for Catholics to reconcile that they are tied to this doctrine. Yet, that's not really the way they live their lives. I think there needs important that they need help, because they're really conflicted right now. And unfortunately, what that tends to us it polarizes opinion. [00:59:23] just picking up on that point, I [00:59:27] know quite a lot of that into the Chilean peas and the positions and some of the [00:59:33] some of the MPs are Catholic, either by practice or or [00:59:37] culture, culture. [00:59:40] And [00:59:42] the Pope has instructed the Catholic politicians specifically to oppose marriage equality measures anywhere in the world. But I think that that fundamental concept that you're talking about, between [00:59:59] what I am in the in their human nature, must consider to be irresponsibility as human beings, and that eat it, I think is is causing some really interesting dynamics. So I think of one person in particular and there are there are several employees are doing this, who have invented an entirely spurious reason for not voting for marriage equality, rather than having to defend the Catholic Church's position. Or rather, at least the Catholic churches eat it to the [01:00:40] very interesting spheres, reason that it's my constituents don't agree with it. [01:00:45] Oh, no, no, there is some some superficial, you know, since [01:00:52] the one that I think was someone who is arguing, potentially, the problem is adoption. There's no problem at all with the, with the with relationships themselves, but that it is already difficult for single people to adopt, or effectively at the end of the queue when it comes to adoption. And if this bill goes through, there will be another category of couples. [01:01:21] He considers to be ahead of single people, when it comes to adopting, so it'll be harder for single people to adopt. And therefore, he should oppose this bill. It's impossible to imagine that anyone actually would hold that position as a serious [01:01:41] rationalization [01:01:43] to deal with Meanwhile, [01:01:44] we suspect that the Catholic Church isn't particularly awesome single people adopting children, [01:01:52] single people in general, [01:01:58] I had a really weird conversation, Paul Henry, on the same sort of topic. And he said that basically, as I've [01:02:03] been boiled down to the fact that there are too many loving couples in the world, and not enough children to go around, which I just start really struggling to grapple with, is that why we increasing competition for children will surely that's a great thing. Surely a wider body of you know, great parents [01:02:18] is is better. [01:02:19] And the reality is that, you know, most of the gay people that want to adopt, it's about, you know, adopting a child that's come from another relationship, or through assisted reproductive means and to have that child, you know, fully recognizes, you know, legally given to parents. And that's one of the things that it seems odd that you're here is suddenly going to be this whole, you know, massive adoption, you know, strange adoption thing, which isn't really an issue at all and New Zealand, because there's hardly any children who are adopted, but from Ireland, all sorts of other complex family relationships do need legal recognition and protection, which they sent, you know, currently lucky [01:02:57] to get adoption. This is such a fast though, because you never hear that people say couples who've got say, gay individuals, but who can adopt, they should no longer be. [01:03:07] magically, when they form a union, they somehow become destructive. [01:03:10] I think a lot of people don't understand that gay individuals can adopt. [01:03:13] The alternate [01:03:14] who's like, you know, [01:03:16] when I was speaking to the board about this was, you know, [01:03:18] a lot of gay parents actually started out as heterosexual parents. And they just don't seem to get that, you know, they haven't changed the same people. But suddenly, they're not the same parents. [01:03:33] Yeah, [01:03:33] man. It's my situation. I was married and had a child. And now, no, my young adult son is, you know, he spent from age nine to Robbie is now in his 20s, being looked after by me and my female partner, but he still has a great relationship with his dad and his dad's de facto female partner. And he's, you know, he's loved by nearly by four people. So, yeah, exactly. Yeah. [01:04:00] I'm [01:04:01] just making [01:04:02] that [01:04:03] many parents. But you know, it's just, that's the kind of reality that sort of, [01:04:07] that [01:04:08] is what gay parenting is about. There's all sorts of, you know, ways this happens. But we are we already exist as families, and we are children who need to have this kind of social and cultural recognition that I think marriage can be, and still, you know, even I mean, sometimes I find myself amazed as a 70s feminist that I am, you know, standing up here in the 2000s, and teens defending marriage, which I'm going to completely critique. As a younger woman, what I'm advocating was people's right to choose marriage. But I think, you know, for for so many people, that the things that I was concerned about in the 70s, that, you know, things like the rate within marriage was not, you know, recognized that it was hard for a woman to get a checkbook in the bank wouldn't let you sign for a mortgage, all those kinds of things, that just seems so I think, you know, for most of you who are younger, just kind of, you can't believe that that sort of stuff was going on, you know, a couple of decades before you were born. So I think the you know, the good thing about all of this is that marriage is changing, and a really good way. And I'm you know, as somebody who kind of was enthusiastic about civil unions, because they were to marriage, I'm now seeing that I now understand that, you know, marriage is continually evolving Sibley, and religiously. And what it stands for, for a lot of people today is it's really good stuff, about commitment. And I think about this thing you were talking about Nigel, about that public commitment. And so many people have told me in [01:05:33] life through marriage or civil union, that [01:05:35] standing up there and making about their partner, in the presence of those who they love does make a difference to them. No, it shouldn't, you know, it's been an important moment in their lives. And it's helped them through some tough times. And I don't know, as you said, doesn't work like that for everybody, and not every marriages or civil union is going to endure. But there is something, I think this kind of thing, human wisdom, that marriages that have born through all of the centuries of inequality, and politics and economics, which has been, you know, we're not alone, we're not meant to live alone. And even as couples, we can't be alone, we're part of our network and society. And that we need to be a part of a community, we are relational people. And so my relationship with my partner is sustained by our love for each other, but also by the community, that we are powerful by our family and our friends, and in our case by our church. And so I think that wisdom has endured. So that marriage is actually becoming something quite a lot more wonderful than it was 20 or 30 years ago. And, you know, I think that's really rather brilliant then and I am going to tell you about one other great resource if you want to read some more about this, as my friend Marvin Ellison, who's a theological teacher, and main, and the US is Russian, same sex marriage of Christian ethical analysis. And one of the things I without his analysis is that he thinks that straight people have been clearing marriage, for the last 30 years or so he's saying that marriage is straight people who have changed the nature of marriage, by by divorce, and by not having it so connected with children, but also by sort of claiming that there's that love and commitment and Lisa, that tradition and sort of conformity. So it's not queer people that have done this to marriage, that all these things that cause people to be anxious about marriage, it's, you know, straight people who are involved in marriage, and I think they've got on such a reasonable job that we queer people in are considering that actually, this could be worthwhile. [01:07:41] Just before we close, I want to [01:07:44] express my huge gratitude, and thanks to the role that you have performed, and not only in this debate between over a number of issues and number of camera V is really, because [01:08:01] we would not be in the position that we are now of having the sense of inevitability about succeeding with this campaign. If it hadn't been for your work, and I really appreciate it. I think [01:08:13] I'm part of a bigger community. But thank you very much.

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