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Letters to the Editor – Autumn 2019

A continuing dialogue

I am saddened by the continuing emotive letters appearing in Journey on the subject of same-sex marriage. For a number of years now I have dabbled in theology and philosophy and so I can only conclude that there has been inadequate thinking about this subject. So let me make two points at the outset.

Words are labels on “idea-containers”. If you get into an argument, check whether the containers have identical content!

Reasoning is logic (mis)applied to assumptions. Again, check if you are relying on the same assumptions!

I recently went to a presbytery meeting which focused on this topic. Because everyone wanted “their voice heard”, there was no way I could present or explain my perspective.

What we heard was that people felt threatened with respect to their theology, or their tradition, or on behalf of LGBTQI friends. Each of these concerns needs to be looked at closely to ascertain the absolute truth of the proponent’s claims.

For example, does the Bible actually mention “homosexuality” or is that a construct we have superimposed on the physical acts we suspect are involved? Similarly, in what contexts does the Bible refer to marriage and what function does this ritual (for want of a better word) serve? I find that it is all too easy to read things into text which, on close inspection, may not be there.

That said, let me turn to the so-called plebiscite. Because no definition of the word “marriage” was included, the whole exercise was statistically invalid. The real outcome was not “marriage
equality” but the capture of the definition of “marriage” by the proponents—i.e. a state-controlled temporary contract.

So, while ever the church uses the word while meaning something else, we will always be talking past one another. Not only that, but in so doing, the church will be open to discrimination charges (Orwell was prescient!). The solution to this, it would seem to me, is for the church to come up with a new unique word to define the spiritual aspect of the “traditional” marriage union and develop an associated ritual which is clearly beyond the purview of the state. Even better, to also extract itself for any state-sponsored functions which were connected with “marriage” in the past.

Karl Tietze
Maleny Uniting Church

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