Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

Christian Marriage – Statements

A Statement by the Session (Elders) of the Presbyterian Church of Hervey Bay,

and a

Statement by the Presbyterian Church of Australia regarding the proposed postal vote regarding definition of Marriage

Introduction

  • The Church of Jesus Christ exists because of the grace of God and for his glory
  • The Church is the work of the Triune God:  the Father calls sinners to salvation; Jesus Christ gave his life for sinners to reconcile them to God; the Holy Spirit gives rebirth through the Word and binds saved sinners to the work of the Saviour, and empowers them for their task in the Name of Christ till His return
  • The work of the Church is defined only by God; his will for his Church is expressed in the Bible, the infallible and inerrant Word of God
  • God is glorified through his church where his will is done – He requires his people to serve in the world with love as defined in the Bible: the Church can therefore not love less than God, and it cannot love more than God
  • Acts of mercy, the task of Evangelism, and the calling of Mission are not restricted by humanly defined boundaries like race, colour, creed, language, sexual preferences, or social standing.  It is the task of the Church to reach out to all people, always remembering that those who confess to be Christians were once alienated from God, but were shown grace in Jesus Christ
  • People who respond to the call of God through the Scripture to be reconciled to through Christ, must repent from their sin and live a life of sanctification defined by God declared in his Word

Session observes that:

  • members of the Church of Christ are in no way better than those who have not found forgiveness in Christ; Christians are mere sinners saved by the grace of God, called to glorify Him as Lord of all;
  • members of the Church of Christ are adopted into the family of the Lord and are called to live as God’s Covenant people;
  • the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (of which Hervey Bay is part) has not always been true to its calling as defined by the word of God;
  • the Church of Christ has no right to withhold the Gospel message from any individual;
  • homosexuality/lesbianism is not an unforgivable sin, and should be recognised as all sins:  it is an offence to God, but through repentance can be forgiven by the grace of God in Jesus Christ;
  • members of the Church must constantly repent and grow in their obedience to God through sanctification

Marriage in the Bible

Marriage was designed by God who created a man and a woman and brought them together in union.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 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. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 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.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 1:27, 2:21–24, NIV)

Jesus Christ said:

“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6, NIV)

  • A man is not superior/inferior and the women is not inferior/superior: both are created in the image of God.
  • Marriage is based on faithfulness: partners promise to not betray their love and trust.   They depend on God’s faithfulness who brought them together and promises to bless them.
  • Marriage is not an end in itself: God created marriage to His glory to display Christ’s covenant relationship to his blood-bought church. God ordained for children to be born through unity between husband and wife and equipped male and female with unique physical reproductive capacities.

Session observes that:

  • Ministers and members who are Marriage Celebrants within the Church of Christ are bound to obey the commands of Christ when they are requested to officiate at marriages
  • It is extremely desirable that prospective couples should receive thorough instruction about the meaning of Biblical marriage and the nature of mutual responsibilities of man and wife towards one another and the children God might give them before entering into marriage
  • Married members of the congregation are called to preserve the holiness of marriage according to the Word of God, always remembering that their relationship with one another should reflect the relationship between Christ and his Church
  • For husband and wife to understand their relationship and responsibilities towards one another, they must both submit to Christ and model his love to one another:

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:23-25, 32, NIV)

  • Cohabitation (de facto relationships) has no covenantal binding in the eyes of God and as such mocks God’s deeper meaning of the relationship between Christ and his Church; without public vows to one another in the presence of God such a relationship between Christians is sinful
  • Divorce is an offence to God (Malachi 2:16), and should only be allowed in extreme circumstances (Matthew 19:9).  Both those who were unfaithful toward their spouses and divorcees, have not committed a unforgivable sin and should be restored into fellowship after heartfelt repentance
  • For millennia, even in communities other Christianity, have grasped what God says in nature — that marriage unites man and woman.

Australian Law

The current Marriage Act (1961) acknowledge the principle for marriage as defined in the Scriptures and states that marriage as:

“the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.

Session observes that:

  • the current secular definition of marriage reflects some Biblical principles
  • union between a man and a woman” is necessary with a view to multiplying the human race
  • for life” is necessary because children need the security and safety of a stable family
  • voluntarily” is necessary to guard against forced or arranged marriages where marriage partners can be used as commodities, and mutual love, respect, trust and faithfulness are no obligation.
  • The Marriage Act (1961) was weakened by the Family Law Act 1975, referred to as the “No Fault” Divorce, where one spouse must simply state a reason for the divorce that is recognised by the state.

International Human Right Laws

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (which does not [openly] take Biblical principles into account) declares:
  • 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.
  • UDHR declares the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
  • UDHR stresses that “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and protection”. In a same sex marriage, who of the partners is the mother/father?
  • Article 8 of the Convention on Rights of Children (CRC) states “the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised 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.

New Marriage Act proposed

Those who propose a new definition of marriage do so to

  • to remove from the Marriage Act 1961 discrimination against people on the basis of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • to recognise that freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity are fundamental human rights;
  • to promote acceptance and the celebration of diversity.

Session observes that:

  • Marriage between and man and a woman has never been based on discrimination; it has been a mere recognition that it takes a man and a woman to marry and make up a marriage
  • Even the UHDR does not see the right to marry as a fundamental human right (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.” – this also applies to those people who remain single)
  • “Equal rights” in marriage refer to them having these rights in a court of law: men are not favoured above women, and women are not favoured above men. It does imply that there is not different between a male and female. (The current push for “equality” is merely a push for “sameness”.)
  • The current marriage act precisely celebrate diversity. What diversity is celebrated if the sexes are “the same”? (There is substantial difference between being “equal” and being “same”?
  • Members of the same sex cannot reproduce – it is how God designed human beings; they have to be different.  Partners in a same  sex “marriage” who desire children, will have to involved a third (or fourth) person—which indicates clearly that such a relationship can not be called “marriage”.
  • If the law is changed as proposed, children will become a commodity, produced outside of marriage through surrogacy, sperm and egg donation, or ethically unaccepted methods
  • Children of same sex marriage partners could be denied the right to know their biological parents, and in some cases will never know their brothers and sisters (which of course puts a complete new interpretation on the Laws governing incest).

Statement

  • We affirm anew the Biblical principles for marriage as defined in the Bible.  We reject any definition or law concerning marriage that is not in agreement with the Word of God
  • We call on our Governments to strongly reject proposals to change the Marriage Act to include people of the same sex to enter into a marriage relationship
  • We repent of neglecting teaching the clear Biblical doctrine that the Christian marriage should reflect the relationship between Christ and his Church
  • Session calls the congregation to repent before God if their marriage relationships fall short of the Bible model
  • Married couples should strive for marriage enrichment and not allow marriages to rich a point where the only option is dissolving the marriage in divorce
  • We repent of the sin of neglecting our duty to our children and young people by not always setting the Biblical example of the holiness of marriage
  • We confess that failing to clearly live out the principles of God’s Word regarding marriage brought the Church of Christ, and ultimately our Lord and Saviour, in disrepute before those outside of the Church
  • We confess if we through speech or otherwise elevated the sin of homosexuality/lesbianism to be seen as a greater sin than idolatry, adultery, greediness, theft, slandering, or swindling (1Corinthians 6:9-10)– indeed all other sins!
  • We affirm in line with the Scriptures that even those who claim to be born with a genetic sexual disposition towards the same sex, can be forgiven and made a new person:

And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11, HCSB)

  • In our task of evangelism we will reach out to everyone, including homosexuals and lesbians, to hear the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • We confirm that all who truly repent and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour according to his Word will have a place in our fellowship

Statement by the Presbyterian Church of Australia regarding the proposed postal vote regarding definition of Marriage

The Australian Government plans to conduct a postal vote seeking the opinion of Australians on marriage. Ballot papers will begin arriving at our homes on 12 September, just a month from now.

The Presbyterian Church of Australia opposes the introduction of legislation for so called ‘same-sex marriage’. We affirm that the true definition of marriage is found in God’s Word: the life-long union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others.

It’s important to urge every Presbyterian Christian to engage in the process and vote, and to vote “NO” to change. We ask every attendee at church to both register and vote, and then seek to persuade as many as possible of their family and friends to do likewise.

There’s no doubt that the postal vote can be won in favour of the current definition. There is a large number of Australians, many of whom have not had their say, who affirm the common view of marriage as God-given and God-blessed.

Your participation will make a difference, but we need you to be earnest, active and in prayer about it. There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this.

While we speak up and have our say, we do so with a gracious engagement and with respect for those with whom we disagree.

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF AUSTRALIA ASKS YOU TO VOTE, AND TO VOTE NO TO CHANGE.

Rt. Rev. John P Wilson

Moderator-General

Presbyterian Church of Australia

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