Same-sex marriage is legal, so why have churches been so slow to embrace it?

  • Written by John Mark Capper, Director of Learning and Teaching, University of Divinity
Same-sex marriage is legal, so why have churches been so slow to embrace it?

Christians were on both sides of the debate leading to last year’s historic shift to marriage equality. To date, no major denomination has publicly shifted to allow same-sex marriage. Why?

Three factors affect whether Christians support or oppose marriage equality: how they read the Bible; how they understand church tradition; and how they see the relationship between the world around them and the life of the church.

Put differently, should Christians seek to impose a moral agenda, or simply set an example? In the former case, diversity is difficult to embrace, as is change.

Nevertheless, there are more Christians supportive of marriage equality than opposed. Why, then, is progress so slow?

The first factor is misinformation leading to fear. The fear is that churches will be coerced into marrying same-sex couples. This is one factor driving the current inquiry into religious freedoms. As Robyn Whitaker has noted, churches will not be forced by the state to offer same-sex marriages.

The second factor relates to the polity and practice of the particular denomination. To make sense of this, some background will help.

Ecclesiology (the study of the church) normally identifies three distinct church structures:

  • episcopal (governance by bishops or some kind of heirarchy)

  • presbyteral or presbyterian (governance by shared elders)

  • congregational (governance by members together).

Each of these structures makes decisions differently.

For instance, in most episcopal churches, bishops, often with the head of the church internationally (patriarch or pope), make decisions. These are promulgated through the bishops.

In most cases (think Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, such as the Greek, Russian, Coptic, Syrian and so forth), episcopal governance travels in close companionship with social and ecclesiastical conservatism. Change occurs very slowly. None of these churches have change in marriage practice on their agendas. An exception in this category is Anglicanism.

Two main forms of broadly presbyteral governance are found in Australia: the Presbyterian Church of Australia (PCA) and the Uniting Church of Australia (UCA).

The PCA issued a statement in November last year, stating its support for “the biblical definition of marriage as between one man and one woman”. No change should be expected.

The UCA is generally much more progressive. As an example, it warmly embraces leadership by ordained and lay women. The PCA does not ordain women. Most who know it expect the UCA to be the first major denomination to offer marriages to same-sex couples. But the process will not be easy.

Since 1994, the UCA has operated on a “consensual model” of decision-making. This ensures all positions are listened to, as “the aim moves from winning an argument with a pre-conceived position to seeking together to discern God’s will for the church”.

The UCA Insights magazine notes:

Uniting Church Ministers are given legal permission to marry under the Rites of the Uniting Church in Australia, and these rites cannot be changed until the National Assembly Meeting in July 2018 at the earliest.

It is this question of “rites” that needs to be considered. Civil celebrants use a prescribed form of words in a marriage ceremony. Religious celebrants are also required to conduct the marriage according to agreed rites.

So, if UCA ministers are to marry same-sex couples, not only must there be agreement to change practice, there must be a change in the rites (the liturgy or order of service) for marriage. In most denominations, neither practice nor rites are easily changed.

The third form of governance, the congregational form, is the most simple at first appearance. Congregations (local churches) appoint ministers and set the parameters for their life under a local church constitution.

However, for a range of reasons – shared resources, co-operation in education, insurance, political lobbying, engagement with other denominations – even congregational churches form broader unions. This body can then be a “recognised denomination” under legislation, and then can nominate ministers as religious celebrants.

Baptists in Australia vary from conservative to progressive. That they, as a non-liturgical church, ever developed a shared rite might be considered remarkable. To a develop a same-sex marriage rite might require a miracle.

Most – but not all – pentecostal churches oppose same-sex marriage. The largest, Australian Christian Churches, opposes marriage equality.

We can now return to the Anglican Church. It is episcopal but with much lay involvement: decisions need to be made at national and local levels. Doctrine and liturgical commissions will each contribute to the process. The means the road to same-sex marriage within the church is likely to be a long one indeed.

Churches that support same-sex marriage and are not recognised denominations, such as the Metropolitan Community Church and Melbourne Inclusive Church, can marry people now, since their ministers are civil celebrants. Short paths come with simpler governance.

Authors: John Mark Capper, Director of Learning and Teaching, University of Divinity

Read more http://theconversation.com/same-sex-marriage-is-legal-so-why-have-churches-been-so-slow-to-embrace-it-91564

Australia Today

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

News Company

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is a way of creating a friendly bond with people, letting them know you’re happy to be in their presence, and projecting a positive ...

Read more

FROM OUTCASTS TO ROCKSTARS - WHEN DID PSYCHICS BECOME SO COOL?

Ralph Tucker

With trust in organised religion and established authorities such as governments at all time low, more and more people are searching for answers from a spiritual means elevating psychics to an unprecedented level of popularity in recent years.   Rose Smith heads up Absolute Soul Secrets, the lar...

Read more

Airwallex enters awards season

Jane Stabler

On the back of employing their 100th employee globally and their Shanghai staff moving into huge new premises, Melbourne based international payments company Airwallex is continuing to ride a wave of significant growth and success, with a series of award wins and nominations recently announced. Las...

Read more

When you're sick, the support you'll get may depend on the 'worth' of your disease

Louise Stone, Clinical Associate Professor, ANU Medical School, Australian National University

Diseases low on the hierarchy of prestige are often difficult to diagnose and treat.PixabayThe name of an illness can affect the level of care a person receives. Cancer sufferers experiencing fear and uncertainty may have access to cancer care centres. Donations and bequests enable these centres to ...

Read more

Israel is prioritising PR over peace-building in the Middle East

Paul Duffill, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem last week represented a major PR coup for Israel, a move the country had sought for decades. It also came hot on the heels of another celebrated Israeli PR victory – the win by Israeli singer Netta Barzilai in the hugely popular Eurovision song contes...

Read more

Holidays & Travel

More Than a Third of Australians Feel 'Too Busy' With Work to Take a Holiday

New research from InterContinental Hotel & Resorts has unveiled a large number of Australians (32 percent) are simply too busy with work to take some much-needed rest and relaxation. Almost...

Matakauri Lodge and Mahu Whenua Lodge

TRIED, TRUE AND SOMETHING NEW  A luxurious accommodation package at Matakauri Lodge + Mahu Whenua Lodge South Island, New Zealand  Available 1 May, 2018 - 30 September, 2018   Central Otago, NEW ZEALAND –...

Heaven is the Adelaide Hills

Looking for a quick getaway? Enjoy food and wine? How about stunning countryside? Look no further! The Adelaide Hills has something for everyone. We flew to Adelaide for a weekend-getaway...

5 Amazing Australian Holiday Ideas

Australia is one of the most fantastic places in the world to travel, explore, and witness all of the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer. With so much rich...

Top Amenities You Enjoy by Renting Luxury Caravans for Road Trips

Do you love to undertake road trips? What the luxury cruises on the ocean are for ocean travelers, luxury caravanning is the same for land-lubbers. Traveling in a luxury caravan...

Here Are Some Extra Reasons for You to Visit the Cayman Islands

It’s no secret that the term ‘heaven on Earth’ gets tossed around a lot. We too are tired of seeing it used for places that have sandy beaches, palm trees...

FV by Peppers: Brisbane's Hottest New Hotel

Brisbane’s hottest new hotel, FV by Peppers has officially opened its doors with Mantra Group’s Chief Operating Officer Tomas Johnsson and the Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development and...

Long Island Boasts Signature Calendar of Events for Travelers in 2018

LONG ISLAND, NY (March 5, 2018) – There are many reasons to visit Long Island – New York City's Beachfront Backyard in 2018 from our most notable, the 120-miles of...

Places That Will Make You Want to Visit Indonesia This Year

Royalty, culture and history coalesce in Yogyakarta     Seasoned travellers wanting more than boutique shopping, hip bars and cutting edge restaurants are invited to try a new Indonesian island or include one...

Fashion & Beauty

Simple Secrets To A More Confident Smile

We all know just how important first impressions are. After a handshake, what’s one of the first things people will notice about you? It’s your smile. A friendly smile is...

Improve Your Body Confidence and Feel Great

No matter how good you feel about yourself, sometimes you just can’t help but see a few little flaws that seem gigantic to you and make you feel self-conscious. Whether...

First-Timer Tips For Your First Lip Filler Appointment

Getting injectable lip fillers can be a quick and effective way to plump up your smile with minimal drama. They’re a cost-effective and safe way to boost the natural shape...

The Most Common Skin Conditions and How to Deal with Them

We often underestimate the importance of our skin, but as the largest organ in our body, and our primary layer of defense, it is constantly affected by many environmental factors...

Beach Babe Basics: Everything You Need to Look Stylish at the Beach

Summer is right around the corner, and this year, we all should make the best of it. Right now, it is not just about looking stylish on the streets, it...

Easy Dress-Up Tips for Lazy Girls

Look, getting all dolled up is fun, but you may not always be in the mood for it. Unfortunately, though, this is exactly when you are asked to go to...

HEALTH

How You Can Conquer Your Dental Anxiety

Does the thought of going to the dentist fill you with dread? Well, you will be pleased to know that you are not the only one. A large number of...

Up and away: the impact of flying on your health

These school holidays, many people will take to the skies, unaware of the risks flying can pose to their health. Brisbane based house call doctor Ryan Harvey said it was important...

How to Lose Weight After 40

As you age, your metabolism slows down, which makes losing weight much harder. Additionally, your hormones start to fluctuate significantly, causing easier weight gain. Sticking to the same tricks you...

Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle Despite A Busy Career

If you’ve been swamped at work lately and really focused on achieving that next big promotion or getting an important project completed, you may have found that your focus has...

AHRIA - Husband created a skincare range for his wife and child

Meet the Dad who was so worried about the chemicals his pregnant wife and baby were absorbing… Forget perfume or flowers… this husband created a skincare range for his wife...

Cinzia Cozzolinos shares her 7 Day Feb-Fast Detox

Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Darling and Smoothie Bombs shares her 7 Day Feb-Fast Detox.  Cinzia Cozzolinos Tips are below and her 7 Day Plant Based Eating Plan is...

LIFE STYLE

5 Simple Steps to Find the Right Workbenches for Sale

A workbench is a form of table that are designed for different works. These vary in size, shape and materials, yet have three common elements which are:   A tool meant for...

Oil the Sewing Machine, or Face the Dire Consequences

Sewing is an art! No art is complete without the right equipment. Sewing machine is the equipment that keeps this art alive. It is one of those machines that makes...

7 Easy Ways to Lift Up Your Home Style

House redecoration doesn’t have to be a difficult undertaking if you come up with some easy ways to lift up your home style. You just need to find solutions that...

Choosing your Water-Fed Poles: A Difficult Path Made Easy

Have you ever experienced the power of nature? No!? But, you must have seen floods or cyclones? May it be air or water, harness the power and you will have...

Keep your cool in the Far North with new 3-way fridge for the tropics

Bridging the gap that has long divided two-way and three-way refrigerator enthusiasts, Aussie Traveller’s new XCD caravan and motorhome fridge offers exceptional cooling power with the functionality of an...

Renovation Hot Spots: The Sydney Suburbs that had the biggest makeover

As Sydney’s housing boom begins to decline, ServiceSeeking.com.au looks back at the suburbs that have had the biggest makeover between 2017 and now. The find-a-tradie site has designed a map...

FOOD & DINING

Best Hidden Gem Hong Kong Restaurants

You finally find yourself enjoying the endless beauties of China and this fascinating city. In a place with so much variety, all your senses will be wide awake, and your...

JOHNNY DI FRANCESCO NAMED OFFICIAL AMBASSADOR OF EAT STREET MELBOURNE

Johnny Di Francesco, world champion pizzaiolo and owner of Melbourne’s Gradi Group of restaurants, is excited to announce he has been named official ambassador for Eat Street Melbourne 2018. As Ambassador...

The best Mother's Day gift EVER!

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

Sing for Your Supper at Chargrill Charlie’s

To celebrate the final curtain call of the Barden Bellas, Chargrill Charlie’s is giving you the chance to Sing for your Supper! Show off your best acapella vocals to win...

MAKE IT WINE TIME, ANY TIME

Whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion, or just wind down at the end of a long day, there’s nothing much better than pouring yourself a glass (or two…) of...

5 Food Trends That Are Affecting Your Diet in 2018

With so many changes occurring in the food industry, we can’t help but ask ourselves how can this affect our diet and everyday life, right? It’s no wonder that these...