The Law as it stands at the moment in Australia describes marriage as
“the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.
This definition is based on what the Creator God designed as a union between a man and a woman. The “for life” is necessary so that there might be a one-flesh sexual union and covenantal cleaving with a view to multiplying the human race: children need the security and safety of a stable family.
What keeps a husband and a wife together is their mutual promise to be faithful to one another to not betray their love and trust, and their dependance upon God who promise to be their guide.
Marriage is not an end in itself. God created marriage to His glory to display Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church.
Although this purpose of marriage has largely been lost for some times, the underlying truth is what has been in place through history. The definition of marriage is Bible based.
The majority of the western world systematically eroded the authority of the Scriptures, and in its place it looked for another authority. This is especially true in the area of ethics. People want to be free, especially free from the authority of God’s Word.
But no man can be without religion. Man cannot be free “to do as he/she wishes”; he does not feel safe, and so has to devise new rules to make him/her feel save.
The United Nations filled that gap and provided the safety with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (a different law!), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights are of course not based on the Scriptures to acknowledge God as the Creator of the universe. Because He and His Law are not acknowledged, man himself therefore became his only benchmark for good and bad, and his only reason for living.
Presently there is a push for a new definition of marriage. In Australia what is pushed for is that the time-honoured definition be substituted with,
“marriage means the union of two people, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” (See …)
Those who propose this new act do it with these objects in mind:
- to remove from the Marriage Act 1961 discrimination against people on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity; and
- to recognise that freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamental human rights; and
- to promote acceptance and the celebration of diversity. (See …)
A few notes of observation:
- “To remove discrimination”: Marriage has never been based on discrimination; it was a mere recognition that it takes a man and a woman to marry and make up a marriage. A man is not superior/inferior and the women is not inferior/superior: Both are created in the image of God. Members of the same sex cannot reproduce – it is how God designed them; they have to be different.
- We are not told what “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” is. It was relatively easy in the past to know what a man and what a woman was – it needed no clarification.
- Are sexual orientation and gender identity fundamental human rights? UNICEF define human rights as “those rights which are essential to live as human beings – basic standards without which people cannot survive and develop in dignity.” Can people survive without this “right”. Yes, there are scores of single people who choose to be single. “Marriage equality” cannot be a fundamental human right.
- “to promote acceptance and the celebration of diversity”: if this is the case, isn’t it exactly what the “old” marriage act did? What diversity is celebrated if the sexes are “equal”?
If we (begrudgingly) have to use Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16) for definitions, “the right to marriage” is described as
- Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
- Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
- The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
A few observations:
- This definition clearly speaks of “men and women”: the assumption is “a man” and “a woman” have the right to marry. It does not have in mind men marrying men or women marrying women. (As marriage celebrant I have the obligation to enquire about possible prohibited degrees of family relationships there might be between prospective marriage partners. One can only ask what the moral, legal and medical grounds are why these would still be required if the new definition of marriage is enshrined in law.)
- Because marriage is between a man and a woman they have the right to found a family. Because marriage is between a man and a woman, when coming together in sexual union they can expect to have children.
- The mention of “equal rights” in this union of marriage refers to them having these rights in a court of law: men are not favoured above men, and women are not favoured above women.
- The traditional definition saw marriage as an institution that leads to a family, the “natural and fundamental group unit of society” (UDHR). This unit has a right to be protected by society.
UDHRights also stresses that “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and protection”. In a same sex marriage, who of the partners is the mother?
The United Nations “Convention on the Rights of the Child” (CRC) takes up on the rights of a child and states that a child has “the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents”. This of course opens a can of worms for children born from anonymous sperm and egg donours.
The CRC recognises “that Mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give.” With John Piper we have to admit:
“Pretending that it [marriage] can exist between people of the same sex will send ripple effects of dysfunction and destruction in every direction, most of which are now unforeseen. And many of those that are foreseen are tragic, especially for children, who will then produce a society we cannot now imagine.
Before now, as far as we know, society in the history of the world has ever defined marriage as between people of the same sex. It is a mind-boggling innovation with no precedent to guide us.” (See …)
- Children of same sex marriage partners will be denied the right to know their parents (or at least one of them – unless the definition of “parent” is redefined to include an egg or a sperm donor), and in some cases will never know – even leaving the possibility of them never knowing their brothers and sisters. Which of course puts a complete new interpretation on the Laws governing incest.
- Article 8 of the CRC states “the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.” How would this be possible in the case of anonymous sperm and egg donours?
- Article 18 of CRC declares that, “States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.”
- It is interesting that neither the UDHR nor the CRC ever bothered to define a “parent”; it is assumed that in the context of a child and its well-being, there will be two parents (“both parents have common responsibilities”).
- I therefore argue that to use Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to push for “marriage equality” is to operate outside of the context of which it was framed.
- The best interests of the child: “Laws and actions affecting children should put their best interests first and benefit them in the best possible way”. The same sex marriage is an unknown experiment: we don’t know the outcome, and it is therefore futile and hollow to argue that the best interest of children growing up in these relationships can be guaranteed.
With all of this said, choice is between what we know is right, good and beneficial according to the universal and timeless principles of God’s Word, or human, unknown, variable and insecure whim of sinful man. If the choice is for the last, then take it straight to this definition:
Marriage is a relationship between married people for the period for which it lasts.
Or: there is no such a thing as marriage, why bother? Or: there are no norms, laws or ethical standards – get rid of all laws.
We will then live like animals, reproduce like animals, and die like animals.
The price is too high for this social experiment for which we do not know the outcome.
Especially if we know we will have to give an account before the Creator God.
See also “Real Marriage” by Archbishop Peter Jensen