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Marriage, left at the altar

Christopher Braga
Marriage, left at the altar
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. Copyright
1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights
reserved worldwide. The NIV and New International Version
are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica,
Some images used under the fair dealing provisions for criticism provided by the
Copyright Act 1968.
Copyright 2017 Christopher Braga.
Cover image: AndyCandy/

Our society is about to decide whether or not we walk away from
marriage. This has come about because of our cultures desire to
accept and give dignity to same-sex couples. Why not give everyone
equal access to marriage? Why not see marriage as an affirmation of
love, whatever the sex of the people involved? As you read, my goal is
to show that same-sex attracted people have real dignity and accept-
ance in Jesus, and that same-sex marriage is an abandonment of
marriage and the good it brings to society. My intent is to leave you
challenged and informed.

1. The Bibles good news for everyone

In any discussion about the definition of marriage, it is crucial to
realise that the Christian message to Australia is one of love, for-
giveness and acceptance. The Christian message declares that all
people are made in the image of God and equal in his sight (Gen
1:27; 9:4-6), and that we are all rebels against him (Rom 3:9-11).
Our rebellion is seen in a host of ways-sexual immorality, theft,
murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander,
arrogance and folly (Mark 7:2022). Each of us faces death and
Gods just judgement for our sin.
But Jesus calls on all people to repent and trust him as their Lord
and Saviour. He was crucified for our sins and rose again, enabling
our right standing with God and to free us from death (Rom 4:25;
6:23). Jesus message brings us into a new relationship with God and
transforms our lives.
Therefore, our identity is found securely in Jesus (Phil 3:8-9),
and is not based on marriage, our ethnic background or even in our
sex (1 Cor 7:29; Gal 3:28). Jesus and the mercy we have experienced
from God is the defining reality in our lives (Rom 12:1).

2. The Bible on marriage, singleness
and same-sex attraction
Given the Bibles good news for everyone, what does it say about
marriage, singleness and same-sex attraction?


a) A God-given gift
Firstly, marriage was created by God as his gift to humanity as part
of his plan for us to live in relationship with each other and rule the
world under his authority (Gen 1-2). Marriage and sex are good parts
of Gods creation and the means by which the human race populates
the world and continues into the future (Gen 1:28; Ps 78:5-7).
Jesus teaches that it is God who legitimises a marriage since it
is his gift: therefore what God has joined together, let no one sepa-
rate (Matt 19:6). The Anglican wedding service reflects Gods work
in marriage: For be assured that those who marry otherwise than
Gods word allows are not joined together by God, neither is their
matrimony lawful in his sight.1

b) A celebration of difference
Secondly, in creating humanity, God made us equal, but different:
he made us male and female, and it was good (Gen 1:27-31). Jesus
ties marriage to this differentiation of the sexes: Havent you read
that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female
(Matt 19:4). Christians rejoice in this differentiation of the sexes
(1 Cor 11:3-6) and view marriage as the coming together of a man
and a woman who are gifted by God with a new bond of oneness
(Gen 2:22-25). Jesus teaches that
marriage is between one man and
one woman based on their differ-
entiation: For this reason a man
will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and the
two will become one flesh (Matt
19:5; cf. Gen 2:23-24).
Marriage is the expression of
sexual diversity: every marriage
has one man and one woman. In
the same way ballroom dancing
depends on the differentiation of
partners, marriage is a dance of
Sometimes difference is important! equal but sexually differentiated
The man and woman are called to serve each other as comple-
mentary equals (1 Cor 11:11-12), but in different ways as husband
and wife: the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church
(Eph 5:25-26) and the wife to voluntarily submit to the leadership of
her husband (Eph 5:22-23; 1 Pet 3:1).

c) An exclusive relationship
Thirdly, Jesus understands Gods intention for marriage to be an ex-
clusive relationship where the man and woman are sexually faithful
to each other (Matt 19:5,18).

d) A relationship for children

Fourthly, one of Gods purposes of marriage is godly offspring
(Gen 1:28; Mal 2:15; 1 Tim 2:15), with the father and mother of the
children taking primary responsibility for the children from their
marriage (Eph 6:4; 1 Thess 2:7). While not every married couple is
able to have chilren, marriage connects a child with their biological
father and mother. Marriage calls on a man to be committed to the
children he brings into the world and to the woman through whom
those children come. The foundation of a new family is provided by
the marriage, which creates a stable environment for the wellbeing
of any children born into that relationship.

e) A permanent relationship
Fifthly, Gods purpose for marriage is that it would be permanent,
ending only when one of the parties dies. The other is then free to
marry (1 Cor 7:39). And while the Old Testament law allowed for
divorce (Deut 24), Jesus reinforced that this was not Gods inten-
tion, merely a concession because of hard hearts (Matt 19:1-11). The
disciples of Jesus saw that it might be better not to marry given his
teaching (Matt 19:10). While the disciples baulk at marriage, the
only other option that Jesus presents is celibacy (Matt 19:11-12).

f) A union of sinners
Sixthly, the reality of sin affects marriages in a multiplicity of ways:
selfishness, violence, isolation and unfaithfulness are just some
expressions of sin. Sometimes this ultimately leads to the parties
separating or the breaking of the marriage relationship in divorce.
These are all the sad realities of sin, none of which are part of Gods
good purpose of love within a permanent, committed, exclusive and
other-person-centred relationship between a man and a woman.

g) A relationship that points beyond itself

Finally, human marriage points to the greater reality of the heav-
enly marriage between Christ and his people. Christ is the ultimate
bridegroom who gave up his life for his bride: the church (Eph 5:21-
32; Rev 21:1-3).
While marriage is part of Gods good created order of the world for
all humanity (Matt 19:4-6), the Bible holds up singleness as a bet-
ter way of life. Singleness expresses that our deepest satisfaction is
found in knowing God, provides for undivided service and avoids
the troubles of married life (Phil 3:8, 1 Cor 7:35, 28).
Jesus himself is the example of the complete human who was
himself single. He taught that in the age to come, all his people will
be single, as individuals are neither married nor given in marriage
(Luke 20:34-36). Meanwhile, people are free in this life to be single
or married (1 Cor 7:28).
Christians reject the idea that sexual activity is needed for a per-
sons flourishing, so a single person is called on to live without en-
gaging in sex (1 Thess 4:1-7). Relationships which dont involve sex-
ual activity (for example, close friends) can fill a persons life with
intimacy and joy (2 Sam 1:26, Matt 27:55, Phil 1:8).

Same-sex attraction and activity

In contrast to the Bibles perspective on marriage and singleness, our
culture has collapsed the distinctions between same-sex attraction,
homosexual activity and personal identity. For most same-sex at-
tracted people, a number of years usually elapse between experienc-
ing same-sex attraction and engaging in same-sex sexual activity,
and it takes still longer before they identify as being gay or lesbian.
There is a pathway of identity development that moves from attrac-
tion to action, and then to settled personal identification.2 While
this identity is often seen as a foundational expression of a persons
being, it is important to acknowledge that it is a developed identity.
Instead of evaluating the morality of most desires, our culture
sees those desires as the pathway to a persons fulfillment. However,
the Bible describes homosexual acts as contrary to the natural order
of the world God made and morally wrong (Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:9).
This is why the desire to engage in same-sex sexual activity is some-
thing to be resisted, not embraced (Col 3:5).
The path for the Christian who experiences same-sex attraction
is not to act on those desires. In the Corinthian church, many came
from a previous life of homosexual activity who were then washed
clean and were no longer engaging in that activity (1 Cor 6:9-11).
Instead, Christians find their identity in Christ and joy in pleasing
their heavenly Father (1 Thess 4:1-4).
In addition, the church has an important role in supporting
same-sex attracted people and enabling the church community to
be a place of intimate and fulfilling relationships which dont in-
volve sexual activity.3 It is the responsibility of us all to welcome and
accept people who experience same-sex attraction and enable them
to participate fully in the life of the church.

3. Thinking about same-sex marriage

Given the Bibles good news for everyone and its teaching on mar-
riage, singleness and same-sex attraction, how should we think about
same-sex marriage?
Marriage is frequently seen in our culture as a pathway to hap-
piness and a way of publicly affirming a couples love. It is about
commitment to each other with the view to a lifelong relationship
supported by others. It is understandable for same-sex couples to
aspire to this and deeply desire to celebrate their relationship like
everyone else.
However, Jesus is clear that marriage is more than love and com-
mitment. Marriage is a relationship of loyalty between a man and a
woman (Matt 19:4-6). The direct implication is that same-sex mar-
riage is a rejection of Jesus teaching. Furthermore, since homosex-
ual activity is wrong, structuring a relationship that endorses and
promotes that activity is also wrong.
The coming together
of a man and a woman
in a marriage relation-
ship that is open to hav-
ing children is something
unique in Gods creation,
and is worthy of separate
recognition. The sexual
intercourse of a man and
a woman is biologically
Marriage works to connect men, women and their
unique and fulfills the biological children as families. Photo credit: Can
purpose of the differentia- Stock Photo / Eraxion.
tion of the biology of the sexes and ought to be recognised and la-
belled as such. Same-sex sexual relations do not give rise to children
and the relationship ought to be considered differently.
Same-sex couples can choose to have committed relationships
and love each other, and can even hold special celebrations for their
relationships. However, to think that same-sex marriage is of the
same essence as the coming together of a man and a woman is to
misunderstand the character of Gods created order, ignore Jesus
teaching, ignore our biology and define marriage along emotional
lines. The sexual differentiation within marriage is not an arbitrary
element to the character of marriage, but a critical one.

4. The role of the state in marriage

This leads us to the role of the state in marriage. In the Bible, rulers
are Gods servants, acting for the good of those they govern (Rom
13:1-5). This is the reason we are to respect their rule and pay taxes,
as governing requires those resources (Mark 12:17; Rom 13:6-7).
But the state cares little about labelling most relationships in our
community. It is not the states role to affirm friendships, evaluate
true love or ensure people are well-suited to each other. People are
free to befriend whom they want,
when they want, and celebrate
those friendships how they want.
However, the question here is over
what relationships the state will
recognise as marriage and why.
Marriage predates human
government (Gen 1-2) and is the
foundation of all civilization. This
is the reason the states role is not
to define marriage, but merely
recognise it (or not). Through
the state, marriage is given ex-
pectations, benefits, recognition
and protection, since its through
these relationships that society is
Two women can love each other deeply,
strengthened and advances into but they cant form a natural biological
the futureparticularly through family.Photo credit: Tom the Photographer on Uns-
the bearing and raising of chil- plash.
By promoting marriage, the state promotes a social structure
that is good for adults and their children. The sexual exclusivity
and monogamy of marriage avoids adultery, sexual jealousy and the
problems associated with polygamy.
The permanence of the marriage relationship provides security
for the adults who are assured the loyalty of the other and provides
a stable structure where children will be cared for until maturity.
Marriage and family then establish the kinship between generations
(cf. 1 Tim 5:4).
While the sexual exclusivity and permanence of marriage maybe
something good to promote, the states interest in marriage is pri-
marily because of children. Society needs babies for there to be a
society in the future. It is the biological differentiation of a man and
woman that are required for children and these sexually differenti-
ated relationships of marriage provide the natural way for children
to enter the world and be raised as citizens.
The exclusion of same-sex couples from the category of mar-
riage isnt a statement about the individuals worth or their love for
each other, but the reality that their relationship has no possibility
of procreation.
While there are other social structures that exist, human so-
ciety is built on the family, and the family is built on marriage. By
encouraging marriages that are sexually exclusive, permanent and
biologically differentiated, the state protects children and reduces
the need for government intervention in the lives of its citizens.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights rec-
ognises this fact: The family is the natural and fundamental group
unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.4
The second form of the Anglican marriage service also recognises
the role marriage plays for the society: In marriage a new family is
established in accordance with Gods purpose, so that children may
be born and nurtured in secure and loving care, for their well-be-
ing and instruction, and for the good order of society, to the glory of

5. Does it matter if we allow same-sex

Many see huge benefits in allowing same-sex marriage- for example,
greater acceptance of same-sex attracted couples; increased mental
health outcomes due to this acceptance; the removal of an injustice;
the establishing of equality; the legitimising of children within these
families; support for a minority who are being denied a freedom
merely on the basis of the sex of their partner; and the investing of
dignity and a sense of belonging to a victimised minority. So why
stop same-sex marriage? Why vote No in the upcoming survey?
a) Because voting No expresses the truth and not a lie
Marriage will always be between a man and a woman. It is a unique
concept and different to the relationship between a man and a man
or and woman and a woman. If there is a legal redefinition of the
word marriage, then we are not changing marriage itself, but using
a word to point to something that betrays its reality. Another term
for this is lying. By calling same-sex relationships marriage, we are
are not achieving equality, but denying the God-given unique gift
of the relationship between a man and woman. We are lying to our-
selves, to each other, to our children and to future generations. When
our words dont reflect reality, we dont create a new reality, but deny
reality. The structure of our world is something to be received with
thanksgiving not something for us to determine (Gen 3).
This reason of truthfulness should be enough to reject a revision
of the definition of the law. After all, who wants the state to promote
and enforce a lie? However, many people deny the uniqueness of the
relationship between a man and a woman, so most arguments rely
on consequences: the consequences for same-sex couples, the con-
sequences for sex education in schools, the consequences for mental
health, the consequences for freedom of speech, etc. While I con-
sider the argument for truthfulness ought to settle the matter, the
following consequences are presented for your consideration. In the
end, someone must bear the consequences of this decision.

b) Because you dont know the legal or other consequences

We know a positive response to the survey will be used to support
legislative change. However, the details of the legislation are yet to
be seen. No citizen ought to be asked to commit to something when
they havent been shown what they are been asked to commit to, and
no Parliamentarian ought to be asked to base a decision on survey
results that never made clear to people the implications of their vote.
c) Because voting No gives all children every opportunity
to grow up with their biological father and mother
Any departure from a father and mother raising a child has always
been a sad story, whatever the reason. Structuring a world in which
the state endorses the raising of children by people other than their
biological parents from the very outset is a sad outcome for children
and a dereliction of duty by the state to protect the family. The state
cant claim to protect merely a vague concept of family, it must
work to protect the connections between actual fathers, mothers
and their biological children.

d) Because voting No prevents children becoming com-

The introduction of same-sex marriage will further commodify
children, giving rise to associated issues surrounding trafficking,
egg donors, sperm donors, the commercialisation of surrogacy and
future technological advances in the production of children. Al-
ready we have seen surrogate women overseas left with unwanted

e) Because voting No upholds both motherhood and

If marriage doesnt involve sexual differentiation, then the concept
of a child experiencing the love of their own father and mother is
devalued. Instead of promoting the commitment that biological
fathers and mothers ought to have for their children, a definition of
marriage that allows same-sex marriage communicates that any
biological mother or father is not important and gender itself not
important. Motherhood and Fatherhood are both devalued.

f) Because voting No reduces state involvement in fami-
Same-sex couples are by nature sterile and will look to third parties
to form a family. In separating the bearing of children from mar-
riage, families will become even more fragmented, and the state will
need to intervene to structure family, determining who is and who
is not acceptable as parents to the child. The state will be the one
forming families as it sets policy on the determination of legal par-
enthood, sperm donation, egg harvesting, adoption and surrogacy.6

g) Because voting No enables the benefits of marriage to

continue for all Australians
As the understanding of marriage is weakened, fewer men, women
and children will benefit from it. The good that marriage current
delivers for children is lost entirely as the importance of the bio-
logical link with their parents, and the commitment that goes with
it, is by implication, removed. All families are affected by this di-
minished expectation of commitment between fathers, mothers and
their children.

h) Because voting No secures the purpose of the states

involvement in marriage
With the redefinition of marriage, the focus of marriage is taken
from children and the formation of family and onto the state-recog-
nised emotional commitment within a relationship. The states in-
terest in marriage ought to be the formation of biological families
for the well-being of children and society. A redefinition shifts mar-
riage from the recognition of our humanity as men and women to a
concept to be used for politcal and ideological ends.

Marriage equality is an emotive claim that paints those who disagree as unjust.
Photo credit: mjmediabox/Alamy Stock Photo.

i) Because voting No doesnt promote and endorse same-

sex sexual activity
While homosexual activity has been decriminalised, it has never
been endorsed by the state. Same-sex marriage is an endorsement of
same-sex sexual activity. From a Christian understanding, a moral
wrong will be explicitly promoted by the state. It will also mean ho-
mosexual activity will almost certainly be part of sex education and
children encouraged to find their sexual identity and encouraged to
engage sexually along homosexual and bisexual lines from an early
age (as is already happening).7 Far from being something to promote
and endorse, same-sex marriage will just be another outworking of
sin and require us to help people unravel as people start living with
Jesus as their King.

j) Because voting No helps prevent marriage from being
further redefined using the same arguments of marriage
equality and love is love
The slogans love is love, marriage equality and advancing
fairness do nothing to protect marriage against polygamy, sexual
promiscuity, increased divorced, incest and the marriage of minors.
If the state sees itself as merely affirming someones romantic love
for another, then this change to the Marriage Act paves the way for
future change.

k) Because voting No protects religious freedom and free-

dom of speech
If same-sex marriage is made legal, will people be free to hold, ex-
press and act on a contrary view? Those who hold a different opin-
ion are already being labelled homophobic.8 Instead of bringing the
peace of equality, the redefinition of marriage provides the means
for persecuting dissenters of the new genderless ideology.
Same-sex marriage brings greater concerns about religious
freedom because of the sexual activity endorsed in such relation-
ships. While there might be no objection to providing services to
any individual from the LGBTIQ community, there are services that
express support for same-sex marriage that a person might, as a
matter of conscience, not wish to engage in.
Currently, the legislation for religious freedom and freedom of
speech in Australia is piecemeal and weak and not under Common-
wealth control. This was seen when the Roman Catholic Bishop of
Hobart was taken to court for a publication distributed within Cath-
olics schools promoting the traditional, and legal, form of marriage.9
Little attention has been given to protecting religious freedom and
freedom of speech in the rush to enable same-sex marriage.
Until there is clear legal protection for all those of religious faith
and those who disagree with same-sex marriage for any reason,
the introduction of same-sex marriage will result in a threat to
freedoms in Australia. Individual Christians are currenty being at-
tacked for their lack of support of workplace LGBTIQ policies and
ideology.10 There are even those in our community who dont want
religious people to have any freedoms on this issue.11

l) Because voting No upholds a valuable social institution

By extending the definition of marriage for a tiny part of the popu-
lation, we undermine an institution that has served civilization for

6. Objections to voting no
There are obviously reasons for voting Yes. I want to present those
reasons and respond to them.

a) This is a matter of equality. It is a question of equal ac-

cess to marriage for all people, irrespective of their sexual
orientation and the sex of their partner. Its a justice issue.
Same-sex couples have been given equal rights already, except for
the use of the word of marriage. (If there are laws that dont provide
equal treatment we could find those laws and change them.) In 2008
the Federal parliament passed legislation intending to give same-sex
relationships the same rights as married couples.12
This current debate is not about the equality of anything in
peoples lives; it is about the state endorsed use of the word mar-
riage. Marriage is a social institution, or even brand, which delivers
powerful societal acceptance. Unless same-sex couples are permit-
ted to use the word marriage they will not benefit from the pow-
erful marketing that the word marriage brings. It is because the
term marriage has so much credibility that people want to hijack
its use. As Anne Russell said about the New Zealand experience, It
will be interesting to see where the queer movement goes next. The
marriage equality bill represents a symbolic and semantic change,
rather than a transformation of the
material conditions of peoples lives.13
However, marriage is a brand that
can be damaged. It is not merely a word
to be used however we please, but rep-
resents a reality. Through a redefinition
of marriage, the unique relationship of
a man and woman is left unrecognised
and the benefits it brings. Equality is
only achieved by the irreparable dam- Equality is only achieved by deny-
ing the uniquess of the relationship
age of the word marriage and perma- between a man and a woman.
nent harm done to the brand.
The emotive use of the concept of equality in this debate im-
mediately paints opponents as being unjust. It is not an issue of
inequality to use different words for different realities. The real in-
justice is abandoning a word for the relationship between a man and
woman, thereby deceiving a nation, and the negative consequences
that follow.

b) Denying same-sex marriage is discriminatory. Why

shouldnt everyone be able to marry the one they love?
Discrimination itself is a neutral term. The question is whether the
discrimination has a valid basis or not. There is nothing inherently
wrong with a law discriminating who you can marry based on the sex
of the other person. We discriminate regularly based on sex when it
is valid to make such judgements (e.g. sport).14 Besides the sex of the

other person, marriage also discriminates against the young, cer-
tain blood relations, multiple marriages and requires the acceptance
of the other person. People dont have a right to marry whomever
they want, or love, but only those within these boundaries. The right
to marry is not an absolute right, but one that is restricted by our
understanding of what marriage is. If marriage rightly involves sex-
ual differentiation, then there is no right to marry when it contra-
venes this requirement. Merely calling denial of same-sex marriage
discriminatory is not an argument, its just name-calling.

c) Cant we have civil marriage defined by the state and

religious marriage defined by peoples religions?
We could, but the benefits of marriage will not be experienced by
our society and the imposition of same-sex marriage and its conse-
quences will occur for our whole society. It is much better for Aus-
tralia to maintain the current definition of marriage.

d) Denying same-sex marriage is treating same-sex cou-

ples as second-class citizens, not giving them the dignity
they deserve and treating them as sub-human.
Keeping the definition of marriage as being between a man and a
woman is in no way saying that same-sex attracted people are any
less equal as human beings, or that they dont love their partners or
somehow less than full Australian citizens. Not allowing same-sex
couples to marry is just recognising that marriage is between a man
and a woman. Christians regard all people as made in the image of
God and therefore to be protected, spoken well of and loved (Gen
9:6; James 3:9). Merely labelling a persons views as a personal attack
is itself a form of personal attack.

e) We should accept people for who they are.
Acknowledging, accepting and showing dignity to someone who is
in a same-sex relationship and wishes to commit to their partner,
doesnt mean you must call their relationship a marriage. There
are same-sex couples who believe marriage is between a man and a
woman and dont have this issue of feeling the need to be accepted
through the states definition of marriage.15

f) Without same-sex marriage, same-sex couples dont

feel part of society.
Already same-sex couples have massive social acceptance: there are
comedians, senators, movie stars, CEOs, sporting figures, high court
judges, the Prime Minister, the Labor Party, McDonalds, the Greens,
Kmart, GetUp!, Amnesty International, Event Cinemas, CBA, ANZ,
mayors, actors, teachers, members of the media and musicians who
all support same-sex relationships. We are told that a majority of
Australians are accepting of their relationships. However, its not the
role of state to make people feel
anything. The states role is to
administer justice. Even with
the legalisation of same-sex
marriage, same-sex couples
may not feel accepted by the
members of the population
who hold a different opinion.
Will same-sex couples expect
the state to make people agree
to same-sex marriage so they
feel accepted? It is just not the
states role to protect our feel- Just some of the corporate support for same-sex
ings. open-letter-of-support/org
g) But people ought to care about a persons well-being.
Caring for a persons well-being doesnt mean giving them every-
thing they ask for. In this case, there are very good reasons not to
allow people of the same sex to marry. It is unfortunate that the
use of the term marriage is seen to be such an important issue for
a persons well-being.

h) People struggling with their sexuality or gender iden-

tity need peoples support, not be condemned by others.
People struggling with their sexuality or gender identity need sig-
nificant support, but that does not have to include changing the def-
inition of marriage.

i) Suicide rates are much higher amongst LGBTIQ young

people and they dont need this negativity.
It is critical that all young people should experience strong social
inclusion and care, especially those from the LGBTIQ youth who
experience higher levels of mental illness, but that does not mean
having to change the definition of marriage. There are other ways to
make a positive impact on a persons mental health and their feel-
ings of inclusion. The mental health of those struggling with their
sexuality or gender identity is something much more complex than
will be solved by allowing them to marry. The irony is that by mak-
ing marriage redefinition such an important issue, the proponents
of same-sex marriage have themselves created the very barrier
they want removed. It is a perceived injustice when none is present.
It is only a few decades since marriage itself was seen by some to be
outdated and irrelevant for all people.

j) I have friends who are in a same-sex relationship. I dont
want them to think I am against them, and if they found
out I voted no, it would hurt my relationship with them.
Firstly, the vote is secret. There is no need to tell them; you can just
say, My relationship with you is more important than this issue.
Secondly, the vote isnt on your feelings for the person; your decision
needs to be for the good of society and future generations. Public
policy needs to consider the broader context, not an individual case.
Unfortunately, your friends have made your acceptability with them
based on how you vote on this issue, which is sad and manipulative.

k) Isnt same-sex marriage providing a secure adult rela-

tionship as the basis for a family, and isnt that a whole lot
better than other single parent or some heterosexual
options? Cant they adopt anyway?
While not ideal, having two men or two women (one of them being
the father or mother) caring for a child is really helpful, but only
one will be childs father or mother. There is no need for two men
to be married to look after the child in this situation and similarly,
two women dont need to be married to look after the child. The
commitment of the two men and the two women can be established
without the need for them to marry.

l) Not every child needs a mother and father.
While there are many children who havent been raised by their bi-
ological parents, it is unjust that children shouldnt be given every
opportunity to experience life with their own mother and father.
This is Gods natural ordering of our world where a child knows, is
loved by and intimately connected with the ones who gave them life.

m)Heterosexual partners who cannot or do not wish to

have children can get married; why not same-sex cou-
The state recognises marriage, not because every marriage will pro-
duce a child, but because every child has a mother and a father. In-
stead of understanding marriage through the eyes of the adults, it
needs to be understood as the structure that connects children with
their biological parents. Through the states endorsement of mar-
riage, the state acknowledges the natural bonds that unite the father
and mother who brought a child into the world and encourages them
to commit to each other exclusively and permanently for the good
of the child, each other and the society. The stability that guaran-
tees children their mum and their dad is not promoted by same-sex
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises that
marriage and family are usually a package deal, so we need to dis-
cuss the issue in that manner. If we allow same-sex marriage, then
we are promoting the creation of same-sex families, with children
being deliberately raised without their biological mother or father. If
we want to recognise same-sex couples who never want to establish
a family, we ought to name it something other than marriage.

n) Voting no shows you are a hateful, homophobic
Labelling someone as hateful, homophobic or a bigot is usually an
attempt to discredit their argument, make them feel threatened and
create an excuse not to engage in rational debate.16 It is merely name-
calling to make people feel bad about their opinions. Labelling peo-
ple just because they dont agree with you is, ironically, bigotry.
Rejecting the redefinition of marriage doesnt mean you are neces-
sarily homophobic or bigoted. A bigot is intolerant towards those
holding different opinions, not merely holding a different opinion.
Someone who is homophobic fears or hates homosexuals. Christians
love all people, but dont approve of sinful behaviour (Rom 13:12-
14). If being homophobic means fearing the outcomes of same-sex
marriage, then it would be better to debate those outcomes.

o) Voting no is imposing your beliefs on the rest of us.

As disappointing as a No vote might be for some, goodwill is needed
in any democracy when one group of people dont get their way.

p) Religion should have no part in this.

The separation of church and state means the church is not running
the country and the state is not giving its endorsement to any one re-
ligion. People can make their minds up on whatever basis they like.

q) Why should the whole of Australia decide whether

someone can marry the person they love?
For a relationship to regarded by the state as a marriage, it requires
the parties to meet certain criteria defined by Commonwealth law.
The Federal Government is implementing its policy of asking the
Australian people to express their view on this legislative change.
r) Many Christians and Christian leaders support same-sex
marriage. Doesnt that make it okay to support it?
The Christians authority is the Bible, and Jesus taught that marriage
is between a man and a woman (Matt 19:3-6). These Christians and
Christian leaders have, for whatever reason, either rejected or ig-
nored the teaching of Jesus, or dont consider it good for others to
structure marriage the way Jesus teaches.

s) Same-sex marriage doesnt hurt anyone.

There are more factors when thinking ethically than just not hurting
people. For example, purity and authority. While there is no physical
harm done to people, same-sex marriage has significant negative
impacts on fatherhood, motherhood, the lives of children, freedom
of speech, freedom of religion and the sex education of children.

t) But doesnt Jesus want people to love each other?

Yes. That means working for their good, not just affirming their feel-
ings. You need to work out what is good for people and then do that.

u) Dont we want Australia to be more inclusive?

Being inclusive doesnt require redefining marriage. Same-sex cou-
ples can be given all the same legal rights without the unique rela-
tionship of a man and a woman being redefined.

v) This issue is just about same-sex marriage, not religious

freedom, children, sex education or anything else?
It is nave to think this decision has minor consequences. Both sides
of the debate recognise the far-reaching consequences of the matter.

w) Same-sex couples need marriage to provide recogni-
tion to the partner of a person. Its about them being able
to do simple things such as close bank accounts and access
to superannuation on the death of their partner.
Redefining marriage isnt the only way to achieve this outcome. Why
damage one thing to achieve another?

x) Children in same-sex parent families wont be accepted

unless we allow same-sex marriage.
Children never choose the family in which they are raised. We all
need to accept children, irrespective of the decisions adults have
made for them.

7. So why try and persuade others?

While a Christian person may vote no themselves, why persuade
others? Why be exposed to accusations of being homophobic and
unleashing filth in the public square?17 Some Christians feel that
we should just remove ourselves from the debate and keep quiet
about the issue. So why speak at all?

a) Because we love others and want them to know God.

Firstly, because we love others and want them to know God. Many
dont believe in God and so wonder why they should listen to a Chris-
tian view about marriage. This makes perfect sense and it means
they have rightly identified the foundational issue: their rejection of
God. God and the gospel are the first things they need to hear about,
and the current debate on same-sex marriage is an opportunity to
share the good news of Jesus with people.
b) Because we love others and want them to benefit from
We want all people to understand Gods intentions for marriage
for all people and to benefit from them, particularly as children are
raised by their biological fathers and mothers.

8. How to persuade others

So how do we persuade others of Gods view of marriage? The most
helpful thing you can do is have gracious conversations with people
you know about this issue. Be interested in what they think, and ask
them why they think the way they do. Asking the question why? is
very powerful.
Frequently when people have had the opportunity to explain
their point of view, they are interested in yours. Look for common
ground and dont forget to share about the good news of Jesus death
and resurrection for our sin.
Saying that you follow Jesus and that Jesus says marriage is be-
tween a man and a woman is a good place to go. (You could even
turn up Matthew 19). Their problem isnt with you; its with Jesus
and his understanding of how God made us. Jesus teaching isnt
just good for Christians, but for all people.
In addition, raise the other concerns about the wider implica-
tions of same-sex marriage for children, religious freedom and
freedom of speech. While many Australians support same-sex mar-
riage, that support is very soft when the wider issues are examined.18

Appendix A: Responses to questions
and issues
a) I think I might be gay/lesbian. What should I do?
Since the pathway our world gives people with same-sex attraction
is so different to the pathway Jesus wants people to take, the best
thing is to find others who can help you walk the path that Jesus
wants you to take. See also the list of resources in Appendix B.

b) Is God against homosexuals?

No. God loves all people including homosexualsand he sent his
Son to die for them and rise again so that they can have a new re-
lationship with him. But God is against sexual immorality in all its
forms, including homosexual activity. He calls people to turn to him
as their Lord and Saviour and live for him in all aspects of their lives.

c) Im in a gay relationship. Am I welcome at your church?

Yes, our church and many others. We want everyone to know Jesus
as their Lord and Saviour. Everyone has different issues in their lives,
but the first thing is having a relationship with the God who made
you and loves you.

d) I am not religious so your arguments arent valid for

While you might not trust Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you still
might respect his teaching on the issue and most of the reasons pre-
sented are valid even if you are not religious.

e) Is it okay to vote Yes as a Christian?
Life is often more complex than giving a simple rule such as It is
wrong to vote Yes . My goal has been to give a persuasive case for
the no case and leave the decision with you.

f) Isnt it wrong for a Christian minister to be involved in

No, it is not wrong. Same-sex marriage is a moral issue and has
huge implications for our society and the Christian movement. It
makes complete sense for Christian ministers, who are also citizens,
to be involved in this debate.

g) Why do you think people are so passionate about the

issue of same-sex marriage, even if they are heterosexual?
There might be a whole host of reasons that people might be aware
of and others they are not. Marriage relates to our sexuality which is
a very important issue for people. People on either side of the debate
see it as a justice issue. Its certainly worth asking this question.

h) Isnt this now 2017? Cant we move on from outdated

religious ideas coming from dinosaurs?
Yes, it is 2017, but that does not change much. Nothing has changed
in Gods world and in humanity that would move us on from his
Word, the Bible. Far from being outdated, the new relationship with
God through Jesus Christ and his pattern for our sexual activity and
personal identity are just what our world needs to hear (2 Peter 3:1-

i) Doesnt ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) already
mean that biological parents are already considered unim-
Certain ARTs do work to disconnect children from their biological
parents, but this is not a good thing. The desire to have a child isnt
something that ought to be fulfilled by whatever means necessary,
even if we have the technology to do so.

j) Why cant the state promote a different relationship as

achieving the same good as marriage?
The difficulty is that same-sex marriage does not promote the same
good. Same-sex marriage fails to provide the structure of relation-
ship for a family of parents and their biological children. Same-sex
marriage is a rejection of marriage. God is the one who made us
male and female and legitimises marriage, with the result that same-
sex marriage is not marriage, no matter what the state says.

k) Are you saying that homosexual couples cant raise

children as well as heterosexual couples?
Adults who raise children who are not their own are to be com-
mended for their work (James 1:27). However, Gods natural order
is for a husband and wife to raise their own children, and the chil-
dren to experience a father and mother (Eph 6:1-4; Heb 12:9). While
there will be many same-sex couples who have children from previ-
ous heterosexual relationships or sexual encounters, same-sex mar-
riage will promote family only through the disconnect with either
one or both the biological mother and father of the child.

l) Isnt same-sex marriage a human right?
No it is not. Marriage as defined as being between a man and a
woman is a human right, but marriage between same-sex couples
is not. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1948)19 states that Men and women of full age, without any limita-
tion due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and
to found a family.20

m) Isnt marriage a right?

No, it is not. The desire to marry is a desire to marry. The right to
marry is governed by Commonwealth law.

n) Isnt this just like the removal of laws that prevented

interracial marriage?
It was right to remove laws that prevented interracial marriage since
marriage never had anything to do with race. The issue of same-sex
marriage is completely different because sexual differentiation lies
at the heart of marriage.

o) Why doesnt the state just not bother about defining

The state could remove itself from this debate, but by promoting the
marriage of men and women, the state does its best to protect chil-
dren and limit their own involvement in the lives of their citizens.

p) What are your thoughts on the Australian Marriage

Law Postal Survey? Isnt it a waste of $122 million?
There has been much said about what support there is or isnt for
same-sex marriage from Australians, and this survey will be the
most appropriate way to determine what Australian people think
on the issue. Given the ramifications for our society, it makes sense
for the members of this society to be fully aware and to contribute
to the debate. Furthermore, since part of marriage is the social ac-
ceptance of the relationship, it makes sense for society to express its
opinion on the acceptability of the revision.
Unfortunately, the language being used by the Australian Bu-
reau of Statistics is assuming a revised understanding of marriage.
The survey will ask one question, Should the law be changed to al-
low same-sex couples to marry?21 This way of expressing the issue
assumes that marriage does not involve sexual differentiationthe
very issue under question. A better way to ask the question would
be, Should the meaning of marriage in Australian law remove the
requirement of it being between a man and a woman? While the
outcome of the question appears to be no different, the question is
subtly promoting the Yes case.
The cost of $122 million might sound large, but this is one of the
costs of our type of democracy. To get things in perspective, Austra-
lians spend $14.5 billion on alcohol each year, so the survey will cost
less than 1% of our yearly expenditure on alcohol.22 The $122 mil-
lion will be spent in Australia, benefitting our economy. Already it
has proved useful in updating the electoral roll and engaging young
Australians in our democratic processes.

q) Isnt same-sex marriage inevitable?

No. The concept of an event being inevitable, and therefore resign-
ing responsibility, is a fatalist view of the future that has no room in
Christian thought. The whole pattern of the Christian understand-
ing of the future is to act rightly based on trust in the Word of God.
God is sovereign and has planned all things. Our response to Gods
sovereignty isnt to take less responsibility for our lives, but to un-
derstand that even our decisions are part of his plans. In fact, the
sovereign work of God means that what might look to us as being
inevitable is not.

r) Im sick of this issue, why not vote Yes and make this
issue go away?
While the issue of the legality of same-sex marriage will disappear,
the sexual revisionism and removal of gender in all aspects of so-
ciety will advance further. The next targets are: the removal of
the need for Family Court approval for children accessing trans-
gender hormone treatment, blood equality where gay men are al-
lowed to donate blood and the Safe Schools Program. As Nic Holas
says regarding same-sex marriage, If, however, it symbolises a sort
of end point, rather than a step in the long road to liberation - and
true equality, then we have sold Australia a lie, and ourselves down
the river.24 Marriage Equlity is just symbolic victory on a broader
agenda of societal change which will be given energy by a Yes vote.

s) Will it be the end of the world if same-sex marriage is

No, that will happen when Jesus returns as Judge (2 Pet 3:12).

t) Why should I bother voting? My vote is one of millions,

it is not compulsory, and the result isnt legally binding.
That is the way life works in a democracy: everyone gets just one
vote. If everyone thought there was no point in voting because their
voice was so small, then we would know nothing about the views of
the Australian people. The whole point of the survey is to find out
what all Australian people think on this issue. The results of the sur-
vey will be taken very seriously.

u) Shouldnt I just vote for what everyone else wants?
No. This survey is to find out what you think should happen to the
definition of marriage. Anyway, you wont know until after the sur-
vey what everyone else wants.

v) Why do you think so many businesses are supporting

same-sex marriage?
For whatever reason, they think there is money in it. The LGBTIQ
movement has been commercialised. It is a brand that companies
want to associate with for their own purposes. In a formal letter
of support from corporations, they have all agreed that marriage
equality ... is ... a sound economic option given, that a happy work-
force is a productive one. To remain competitive and to attract top
talent globally organisations and nations must create a fair and
respectful environment for all.23 It is unfortunate that businesses
havent remained neutral on this issue since there will be many peo-
ple who respect people who are same-sex attracted but dont want to
allow same-sex marriage.

w) Why not vote Yes and let a Coalition Government

make this change?
The Labor Party have made a parliamentary vote on same-sex mar-
riage policy and do not allow a conscience vote for their members
on the matter. However, no government will make this change if the
people clearly reject it. This will most likely be the only opportunity
for your voice to be heard clearly on this issue.

x) Is this whole debate a surprise?
No. This debate is the outworking of an understanding of humanity
that does not consider the God who made us and accepts us in the
gospel. As Australians move further away from their Christian her-
itage, it is no surprise that this debate is taking place. People have
already abandoned Christian sexual morals and this revision is just
another step in the rejection of Gods good pattern of life for hu-
manity. While people dont live with Jesus as their Lord and Saviour,
nothing is a great surprise.
The real surprise is when peo-
ple are transformed by the message
of Jesus (2 Cor 4:5-6). The most im-
portant relationship a person can
have is with their Heavenly Father,
based on Jesus mercy. Our mes-
sage as Christians is one of uncon-
ditional love and acceptance to the
sinner. This message is not of mor-
alism, but of freedom where people
have a new relationship with God
where their whole lives, including
their sexual activity, comes into
conformity with Gods will and As more people move away from a
where they live to please him with Christian world-view the idea that mar-
riage could be between people of the
their bodies (1 Thess 4:1-8). same sex is no surprise.

y) Wasnt marriage only defined between a man and

woman in 2004?
Marriage was always understood as only being between a man and
a woman and just formally stated as such in 2004.25
Appendix B: Other resources
On having same-sex attraction and caring
for those who experience it
Living Out: This site was put together by evan-
gelicals in the UK helping Christians with the issue of same-sex
attraction. It has excellent resources, including brilliant video testi-
monies of Christians living with unwanted same-sex desires.
Liberty Christian Ministries:
What Some of You Were: Stories about Christians and homosexual-
ity (ed Christopher Keane), Matthias Media, 2002.
Ruth Baker, Doing life with your gay Christian friend, GoThere-
For, 27 July, 2017: Accessed 10
September 2017.

On same-sex marriage
A letter to the Prime Minister in 2015 from religious leaders:

Sandy Grant and Tony Payne on redefining marriage:

Sandy Grant on Defining and Defending Marriage:

An excellent article focusing on the rights of children:

Margaret Somerville, Its all about the children, not self-
ish adults, The Australian, 23 July 2011: http://www.theaustralian.
A helpful booklet from the Sydney Diocese: What has God joined
Katy Fausts experience growing up in a lesbian household:

Relevant websites in the same-sex marriage

Coalition for Marriage:
Marriage Alliance:
The Australian Marriage Forum:
Freedom for Faith:
Law and Religion Australia:

On the postal SURVEY

Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey:

An Australian Prayer Book, Church of England in Australia, 1978 page 549.
Elizabeth M. Morgan, Contemporary Issues in Sexual Orientation and Identity Devel-
opment in Emerging Adulthood, Sage Journals, 1 March 2013:
doi/full/10.1177/2167696812469187. Accessed 7 September 2017.
There are some great stories of Christian living life as celibate, same-sex attracted
people here:
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
man-rights/. Accessed 18 August 2017.
Lindsay Murdoch, Australian couple leaves Down syndrome baby with Thai surro-
gate, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 2014:
couple-leaves-down-syndrome-baby-with-thai-surrogate-20140731-zz3xp.html. Accessed 7 Sep-
tember 2017.
This regulation is already seen in the policies of the Australian Equality Party: https:// Accessed 14 August 2017.
Natasha Bita, Safe Schools Coalition: sexual politics in the classroom, The Austra-
lian, 13 February 2016:
sexual-politics-in-the-classroom/news-story/bf58ff141ba0b08bf165e3d53cc8a055. Accessed 14
August 2017.
Fergus Hunter, At least Im not a homophobe: Bill Shorten in tense exchange with
Cory Bernardi, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2016:
bernardi-20160223-gn1xdl.html. Accessed 7 September 2017.
Anti-discrimination complaint an attempt to silence the Church over same-sex
marriage, Hobart Archbishop says, ABC News, 28 September 2015:
Accessed 7 September 2017.
Safety fears at Christian charities force board security, The Australian, 28 March
ties/news-story/2b1b9ec518c20348a045236cfd413000. Accessed 12 August 2017.
Gay rights activist Michael Barnett turns on Christian academic, The Australian, 29
March 2017:
nett-turns-on-christian-academic/news-story/ba36cfd3c967370371f8b9edb3f69dec. Accessed 12
August 2017.
John Sandeman, ACL event forced from hotel after social media campaign, Eternity
News, 17 September 2016:
tel-after-social-media-campaign/. Accessed 12 August 2017.
Anne Lim, Battle over same-sex marriage exemptions, Eternity News, 25 January,
Accessed 14 August 2017
The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth LawsGeneral
Law Reform) Act 2008 removed discrimination against same-sex couples and any depen-
dent children from Commonwealth programs and laws.
13 Ac-
cessed 9 September 2017
Only women can play womens tennis:
pdf, p. 248. Accessed 8 September 2017. Only women are welcome at Fernwood Womens
Health Clubs.
Julia Holman, The gay couple who oppose same-sex marriage,
news/2017-09-04/the-gay-couple-who-oppose-same-sex-marriage/8871118 Accessed 9 August 2017.
Lindsay Beyerstein, If You Oppose Equal Marriage, You Are a Bigot, Big Think, April
2010: Accessed 14
August 2017.
James Massola, I hold you responsible for every hurtful bit of filth this debate will un-
leash: Bill Shorten puts Malcolm Turnbull on notice, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 August
stops-and-campaign-for-a-yes-vote-on-samesex-marriage-20170810-gxt54g.html. Accessed 12 August,
8 Miranda Devine, Equality or hypocrisy? The big lie of the antiplebiscite campaign, 28
March 2017, Daily Telegraph:
Accessed 14 August 2017.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
man-rights/. Accessed 18 August 2017. See also the ruling in Northern Island: https://www.
land. Accessed 8 September 2017
It is clear that the right is for the man and woman of full age to marry each other. It is not
that men and women of full age have the right to marry anyone. If sexual differentiation
wasnt important, then the authors would have written all people or words to that effect.
The rejection of same-sex marriage in this definition is clear in that the formation of a
family is one of the rights established and connected with the marriage itself. This right to
found a family isnt despite biology, but because of it. Furthermore, the definition of mar-
riage in 1948, when the document was written, would clearly have been between a man and
a woman. The phrase to marry is often used to mean to marry each other as is the case
in the question in the postal survey.
21 Accessed on 9 September 2017
The Australian alcohol retail market in review, 20 March 2017: http://www.roymorgan.
com/findings/7181-liquor-retail-australia-201703201051. Accessed 24 August 2017.
Quoted in
equality/14994360004892 Accessed on 9 September 2017
24 Accessed on 8 September 2017
The amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 can be found here

Details/C2004A01361 Accessed on September 2017

Should the law me changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
If everyone should be allowed to marry the person they love then
the answer is simple, Yes. But is more going on? Is there more to
marriage than love? Is the emotive slogan of Marriage Equality
hiding something?

As you read, you will find that people who experience same-sex
attraction have real dignity and real acceptance in Jesus, and how
Jesus teaching on marriage is so radical that his disciples thought
it impossible to follow.

You will be challenged by the reality of marriage being between a

man and a woman with the interest of the state in marriage being
because marriage connects men and women together as fathers
and mothers of any children they have.

While written for Bible believing Christians, it is an invitation to

examine the Christian understanding of marriage and how it is
good for everyone.

Christopher Braga
Chris has been a Christian since he was 16. He and
his wife, Beth, have been married for 23 years and
have had eight children. He currently serves as the
Senior Minister at Summer Hill Church (Anglican)
and is the Chair of Anglican Youth and Education,
Diocese of Sydney. @chris_braga