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Conservative churches make anti-equality plea

Mon 27 Aug 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The old "Adam and Steve" argument (debunked in the picture above) is back again. With Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill set to pass its first reading this week, Christian opponents are making last-ditch pleas for the definition of marriage to be “left alone”, with one group claiming “it is not a human right for a small minority to reinvent marriage to suit themselves.” The Manukau Ministers Network claims marriage is recognised by the state but does not belong to it. “God created marriage,” the group asserts. “He brought Eve to Adam in the first wedding ever. He set the pattern. He holds the copyright … Marriage is not just a social custom or a legal contract which can be redefined to suit human thinking.” The group also claims “nature teaches that to produce offspring we need a man and a woman”, “homosexual relationships are different from marriage morally, sexually and reproductively” and “the one man and one woman marriage relationship is the best place to raise children”. Another group, the New Zealand Christian Network, is “earnestly” asking politicians to set up a Royal Commission “to investigate properly the issues involved in the marriage definition amendment bill”. It continues: “The issue certainly involves far more than equal treatment for homosexual people. If it were only that, then the matter might be more simple.” The Network claims “the limited research available does suggest that there are better outcomes for children raised by biological (heterosexual) parents compared to same-sex parents,” the bill will create confusion “around the word and the importance to society of the institution it describes” and “If such a definition is changed, then it will require the invention of another word to describe the unique meaning which the original word had.” The sentiment is similar to that from those who have spoken out against marriage equality so far: the Catholic Church, the conservative groups Family First and Right To Life, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and a handful of MPs. It’s in direct opposition to a letter to the Catholic Church signed by a more than fifty clergy and laity from a variety of Christian traditions, which ends: “As fellow Christians we call on you to re-consider your position in the light and hope of the Spirit of Jesus, and ask you to respect the dignity, freedom, and committed love of same gender couples to enter into the rite of marriage.” Those church leaders say: “Marriage has been expressed in many different forms over the centuries. In the Bible marriage was often polygamous, often did not presume sexual fidelity from the male, usually assumed male dominance, and usually was about property, inheritance and kinship. “The Biblical pattern for God-ordained marriages is that different kinds of unions were accepted in different places and times, evolving in tandem with broader cultural shifts,” it continues. “To suggest, as you do, that marriage based on Biblical precepts is frozen in stone and cannot develop or change, is to ignore reality. Even within your own historical tradition, fresh Biblical insights and understandings, often led by Papal encyclicals, have brought changes in attitude and direction. “The Adam and Eve text you refer to is a mythic story which has woman being fashioned from man’s rib,” it says, along with “Your statement that marriage is about ‘hoping to have and to raise children’ seems to ignore the fact that many couples today choose not to have children, or are of an age or state of health where it is not possible, or that many children are raised in families where one or both of the biological parents are not present.” The leaders add: “You also seem to ignore the many thousands of NZ children who are currently being parented by same gender couples, to whom you should also extend your pastoral care rather than your implied condemnation of their families. “Your approach to what is ‘natural’ does not seem to take account of the peer-reviewed research from the scientific community over the last 20+ years. You seem to be overlooking that homosexuality is present in many species, and not just when there is overpopulation. You seem to be overlooking that sexual orientation for the vast majority of people is not a choice. You seem to be overlooking that a failure to re-examine the Bible and Church teachings in the light of modern day science is to be culpable of continuing to perpetuate prejudice. “While we concur that ‘not all persons can or should be married’, it is markedly unjust that any heterosexual couple can decide to be married, while a same sex couple who may have shared and displayed a committed love for decades are denied. Your inability to acknowledge this injustice damages your credibility.” The Human Rights Commission has made it clear should Louisa Wall’s Bill pass, no religious ministers will be forced to marry gay couples. LIVE COVERAGE Daily News will report live from Wednesday's Marriage Equality street march through downtown Wellington and throughout the bill's presentation to Parliament, with team coverage from our journalists and photographers along the march route, within the Parliamentary Press Gallery and amongst the bill's supporters in the public gallery.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 27th August 2012 - 5:32pm

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