On Wednesday it was announced that the outcome of the postal survey was 61.6% Yes and 38.4% No, nationally. This is the result of nearly 80% of eligible electors participating. Whatever you think about the idea of the postal survey the level of participation has been quite remarkable. The next step would appear to be that a private members bill will be tabled in federal parliament next week with bipartisan support. There will be much debate about the extent of religious freedom. There appears to be a clear desire for the legislation to be resolved prior to Christmas.
This pastoral statement attempts to help us as a community to reflect on how we respond to this outcome. Here are a number of points to reflect upon
- we should acknowledge that we live in a democracy and we have had the opportunity to express our view in a discrete and private way.
- we have to accept the outcome as being decisive. At the same time it is both surprising and interesting that 38.4% of participants ticked ‘No’. If legislation is passed in both houses and same sex marriage becomes law then as believers we live within the bounds of the law of our land. In Romans 15.1-2 St Paul puts it this way
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
- we know that religious celebrants will be protected and that as a church we will not be obliged to conduct a ceremony, which would go against the formularies of the Anglican Church. It will be important that we are free to still teach according to Scripture in relation to marriage.
- we need to respect the reality that members of our own faith community ticked different boxes and continue to be gracious with each other.
- we want to continue to be an open and accessible church to all. Clearly there are tensions in seeking to live this out but that is our desire.
- we need to keep this in perspective, as the broad majority of marriages will continue to fit the pattern of the centuries.
- we should not assume that if some individual clergy/church leaders express a particular view on this matter (because they will) that the Anglican Church has suddenly shifted ground in this area.
Let us each pray for wisdom for our elected representatives at this time and for grace and wisdom in all our relationships with family, work colleagues, neighbours and friends.
Bishop Stephen Hale
St Hilary’s Network
Please note the previous pastoral statement on the Australian marriage law postal survey