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Pastoral Statement – on the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey

As Lead Minister of the St Hilary’s Network I’m issuing this pastoral statement to assist members of our community as we each participate in the same sex marriage postal survey.

  1. We acknowledge that Biblical faithfulness for us in our cultural setting is complex, costly and challenging. Most contemporary media is actively pro same sex marriage and deeply disparaging of any who hold a contrary view.

  2. As a church we uphold the formularies of the Anglican Church of Australia, which are based on the Bible’s teaching on marriage as being between a man and a woman. As it says in Genesis 2.24

    That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

    The introduction to the Anglican Marriage Service classically states it this way:

    Scripture teaches that marriage is a life long partnership uniting a woman and a man in heart, mind and body.
    In the joy of their union, husband and wife enrich and respond to each other,
    growing in tenderness and understanding.
    Through marriage a new family is formed,
    where children may be born
    and grow in secure and loving care. APBA Order 2

    ‘Faithfulness in Service’ is the guiding document of the Anglican Church of Australia in matters of life and conduct, especially for those who are licensed or authorized to minister. It states the formal position of the Anglican Church as

    ‘faithfulness in marriage and celibacy in singleness.’

  3. In upholding biblical teaching on marriage we acknowledge that it involves a costly call for those who are same sex attracted.

  4. We offer our assurance for all who are same sex attracted that they are loved, valued and fully welcome in our church.

  5. We acknowledge that in our attempts to uphold the Bible’s teaching on marriage we have sometimes given the impression that same sex attracted people were themselves the problem. This is not the case and we apologise if we have given this impression.

  6. We also acknowledge that homophobia has been a sin in our church and repent of it.

  7. We acknowledge that this is an issue of significant pastoral tension for many in our community as they respond to members of their own families, work colleagues and friends.

  8. We commend all efforts to give active reflection to holistic pastoral responses that are compassionate and positive in supporting same sex attracted people.

  9. We want to increasingly be a community that offers loving friendships for all people. We encourage all marriages and families to both welcome and include single people as part of their ongoing life.

  10. We recognise that not all in our church community hold the same views on this matter and urge all of us to interact in a respectful and open manner. While we as a church uphold a traditional belief in marriage we will not exclude those who may have arrived at a different view on this matter.

  11. As Christians living in a democracy we want to uphold our right, along with all citizens to express our point of view and we urge all members to participate in this postal survey.

  12. We encourage members to engage with friends, colleagues and family, respectfully and with grace modelling Christian engagement in the process.

  13. We urge the Federal Government to release any proposed legislation as soon as possible so that we can be as informed as possible prior to participating in the survey.

  14. We urge any future legislation to uphold religious freedom and to enshrine appropriate protections for religious practitioners.

Bishop Stephen Hale
Lead Minister
St Hilary’s Network

Comments(3)

  1. Reply
    Ann McKenzie says

    Thank you for this thoughtful and useful statement about an issue which has been a focus of pain for me in a number of ways.

  2. Reply
    Debbie Porter says

    Thankyou Stephen for your clear and sensitive response. To affirm the traditional church perspective while giving voice to and understanding of alternatives with respect and love.

  3. Reply
    Jacqui says

    Thank you for this statement. It is a very difficult debate especially as we now live in a pluralistic society.

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