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Sex Marriage Religion EthicsAustralian Broadcasting Corporation Recent surveys have revealed that a large majority of people who are not in favour of same sex marriage prefer a plebiscite to a parliamentary vote to resolve this issue.
One likely explanation for this discrepancy is that opponents of same sex marriage believe they still new zealand pandora have a fighting chance to persuade the Australian public to support the "No" case, especially if they are given a fair chance to lay out their arguments for all to see. A recently formed coalition of religious and ethnic groups, provocatively calling themselves "Australians for Marriage," appears to be convinced of this, with their stated intention being to tap into what they believe is a groundswell of concern among mainstream Australians. They are mistaken, in my opinion. Not only have they misread the electorate, they have over estimated the strength of their case against same sex marriage. What is more likely to happen, once their arguments are put up for public scrutiny, is that Australians will become even more convinced that same sex marriage is a good thing, whose time has come. My reason for thinking this is that the case against same sex marriage will appear weak and unconvincing. Moreover, people of faith run the terrible risk of further alienating their fellow Australians, especially if they employ arguments which will rightly be seen as abusive and homophobic. I write as a Christian, and so what follows is written from a perspective of Christian faith. Contemptuous arguments against same sex marriage The sad truth is that we Christians once had at our disposal some maximally strong arguments against same sex marriage. From the very origins of the Christian movement, our most esteemed theologians were unanimous in their opinion that those who are inclined to have sex with people of their own gender are thoroughly corrupt and corrupting of others, so much so that they deserve to be executed, and must be treated with the most extreme caution and contempt. To quote from just four of these highly regarded theologians: "Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God's law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. Augustine "When God abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their passions satanic, but their lives are diabolic. So I say to you that these are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonour. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more mad or damaging than this perversity." St. John Chrysostom "For if the sins of the flesh are commonly censurable because they lead man to that which is bestial in him, much more so is the sin against nature, by which man debases himself lower than even his animal nature." St. Thomas Aquinas "The vice of the Sodomites is an unparalleled enormity. It departs from the natural passion and desire, planted into nature by God, according to which the male has a passionate desire for the female. Sodomy craves what is entirely contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversion? Without a doubt it comes from the devil." Martin Luther The idea that a society should open up one of its most treasured institutions to people who are inherently evil and whose passions come straight from hell is unthinkable for those who draw on what has been almost universal Christian teaching, teaching which led to homosexuality being criminalised and, more recently, pathologised as a mental illness or correctable defect. I am guessing that few Christians will be game to draw direct attention to these long held convictions, though, of course, they could do by way of a long overdue apology. These understandings have contributed massively to the hatred and homophobic violence suffered by our LGBTI fellow citizens. It is, therefore, the first duty of the church to apologize for its contribution to this church history long suffering. There is another reason, other than understandable embarrassment, why Christians are unlikely to appeal to these older and condemnatory theological views, and that is we can no longer reasonably think in these terms. We now know that people are gay not because they chose to be gay, or because they hate God, or because they have given in to detestable passions. They are, in fact, the most ordinary of people, but also extraordinary, with extraordinarily special gifts and dispositions with which they enrich Australian how much pandora bracelet society. We know this because we have become better acquainted with our gay sons and daughters, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, grandparents and near neighbours. Their courage to come out has blessed us, and so, for this reason, Christians, or at least reasonably minded Christians, are unlikely to appeal to these once maximally strong arguments against opening up marriage to gay people. However, and sadly, the long shadow of these earlier misunderstandings are still likely to make their presence felt in any case against same sex marriage. The idea that gay people are corrupt, or, in some sense, corrupted, persists in the thinking of many Christians. It persists in the still widespread belief that to be gay is to be sinful. It persists in the now discredited idea that gayness is a lifestyle choice; a willing capitulation to the "gay lifestyle" whatever exactly that is. It persists in the idea that gayness is something people can shed, with enough prayer and/or therapy. It persists in the idea that gayness is a defect, or a disorder, or a violation of our true nature as heterosexual beings. Christians have found it hard to shed the idea that to be gay is to be corrupt, and this is partly because of the still widely influential appeal to the following verses from the Hebrew Bible: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." (Leviticus 18:22) "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to price of pandora charms death; their blood is upon them." (Leviticus 20:13) The Hebrew word for "abomination" is a strong word of disapproval, the root meaning of which is "to abhor" or "detest." Some have suggested the detestable practice being condemned here is anal sex. If so, opponents of same sex marriage have a problem because most gay people don't engage in anal intercourse, leaving them innocent of this ancient condemnation. Lesbians are innocent, but so also are many gay men. Moreover, anal intercourse is commonly practiced by straight couples. Thus, if anal intercourse is a bar to marriage, many more straight people than gay will need to "repent," and, at the very least, stop throwing misdirected stones in the direction of their gay and unique pandora charms lesbians sisters and brothers. A more likely explanation for the Levitical condemnations is that what was considered abhorrent was the humiliating mistreatment of men, who, in being sexually penetrated by other men, were thereby made to play the subservient role of a woman. These condemnations were articulated in the context of a profoundly patriarchal world, where women were considered inferior to men, and where same sex sexual activities normally involved a power differential; with masters, husbands and higher class males imposing their wills on servants, slaves and male prostitutes. We don't live in quite that same world, though we do understand exploitation and rape, and can still readily identify the perversity inherent in these ancient practices. But we have also come to shed patriarchy, and therefore don't have the same problem with anal (or oral) intercourse. Moreover, we have come to see the beauty of relationships which are mutual and respectful, and which, in principle, have no power differential. I don't think Christians are likely appeal to Leviticus in any publicly argued case against same sex marriage. Nor are they likely to accuse gay people of being corrupt. But what is still likely is that some version of the view that gayness corrupts or damages will be wheeled out. One such argument is that children will be damaged by gay marriage. We will be told, however nicely, that gay parents are not able to provide their children with all that they need or deserve, and, therefore, will be hurt, or at least disadvantaged. If true to fact, this is a strong argument, with powerful emotive appeal. However, the problem is that we don't know this to be true, with almost all of the evidence now pointing in the opposite direction.
Numerous sociological and psychological studies have been conducted, with many more to come, as the sheer number of families headed by same sex couples grows exponentially around the world. Overwhelmingly, these studies have concluded that children are not worse off than those brought up by their opposite sex biological parents. Studies which have suggested otherwise, including, most recently, a large scale study by Mark Regnerus, have failed to put a dent in what is fast emerging as scholarly consensus.
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