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“Marriage equality”: statement from the Northern Presbytery

Rev Bruce Cornish, Presbytery Minister of North Queensland

THE upcoming 13th Assembly will feature a number of items of business relating to marriage.

Although no proposal will change the existing doctrine of marriage in the Uniting Church in Australia, a range of views are held by many in the church.

We present here a statement from Rev Bruce Cornish of the Northern Presbytery.

A meeting of the Uniting Church in North Queensland on 14 April, attended by 50 representatives from almost every congregation, unanimously affirmed the church's received teaching on marriage as contained in the church's marriage service and confirmed at the 1997 National Assembly meeting.

The basic teaching is that marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public, and before God, of a man and a woman to live together for life.

In some sections of the media and society in general there is a strong push for "marriage equality".

This is not simply an issue of justice but a theological one which we believe is foundational to societal order.

As a church, we speak strongly on matters of justice in Australia and overseas, sometimes against popular opinion.

The Uniting Church continues to speak out on justice issues, including refugees and asylum-seekers, the Northern Territory intervention, the situation in Fiji, a just and sustainable economy, and others.

In addition, we in North Queensland through our congregations and agencies continue to offer practical care and support in the gospel of Jesus Christ to the broken and hurting in our local communities.

Australian law currently provides protection for those in relationships other than being legally married both for heterosexual and homosexual couples.

We do not believe that the unique understanding of marriage should be changed, or that the church should bless such unions.

We are concerned that the church's definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman is being labelled, by some, as homophobic and bigoted.

Our Christian beliefs reflect that marriage thus defined is a blessed gift from God for the nurturing and strengthening of families and society and is to be celebrated.

As the Uniting Church in North Queensland, with representatives from Bowen to Thursday Island, the coastal cities to Mt Isa, we reaffirm our belief that marriage, as stated in the Uniting Church's teaching and currently defined in the Marriage Act in Australia, must continue to be defined that way.

Photo : Rev Bruce Cornish, Presbytery Minister of North Queensland