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Australian Baptist leaders oppose gay ‘marriage’comment (0)

September 8, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia — Baptist leaders in Australia issued statements Aug. 24 opposing a proposal to change the current legal definition of marriage to include gay couples.

John Beasy, national president of Australian Baptist Ministries — formerly the Baptist Union of Australia — said members of Baptist churches in the nation “overwhelmingly support” the current definition of marriage as between a man and woman and oppose moves to change it.

Rod Benson, an ethicist and public-issues spokesperson for Australian Baptist Ministries, said there are “compelling cultural and heritage reasons” for rejecting the proposal, and for Baptists “there are also deeply held theological convictions about the nature and purpose of marriage which preclude widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.”

“A strong society needs a strong commitment to marriage and family,” Benson said. “Marriage is best understood as the union of a man and a woman, and the law is best left as it is.”

Benson said for 400 years, Baptists have used the Bible as their supreme authority in matters of faith and conduct, and the Bible teaches that the appropriate context for sexual relations is between a man and woman in marriage.  

Australia’s current 1961 Marriage Act defines marriage as “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” A same-sex marriage bill introduced in 2009 would have removed all discriminatory references based on sexual or gender identity from the 1961 law. The bill did not pass, but Parliament passed a motion asking all 226 members to consult with their constituents about whether gays should be allowed to marry.

Last November, Australian Baptist Ministries reaffirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman and commended the government for “reflecting biblical teaching” in the national marriage law.

More than 50 church leaders representing Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations recently wrote letters to Parliament members, kicking off a campaign supporting the current definition of marriage as between a man and woman. 

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