After many decades of careful lobbying and raising the profile of their own interests, the gay movement and its activists have forcibly and successfully brought to the fore of public attention in many countries, questions over the definition of marriage. The discussion that they have sought to bring about, has been couched in terms of civil rights and the need for their “enfranchisement” through the redefinition of marriage.
Within Australia, the gay movement has been very well coordinated and exerts immense influence for such a marginal minority, who have been able to secure work for many of their activists, as advisors to politicians, or within the civil service. Their careful planning has now borne fruit, at present, the Australian Federal House of Representatives and the Senate have been considering proposed legislation that would redefine marriage to include same-sex “couples”. Over the past few months, the Australian Parliament has been requesting public submissions that comment on the proposals put forth.
In considering the forcefulness of their efforts to place this agenda within national priorities, especially during this time of global and national difficulties, it can only be discerned as opportunistic in the hope that such legislation could be passed without much discussion or examination. Yet it has compelled the Synaxis of Canonical Orthodox Churches of Oceania, to voice their united concern and issue an official statement along with petitions and encyclicals. Given the sensitive nature of the topic at hand, and the endorsement to which many of the Oceanic Orthodox jurisdictions give towards our humble weblog, we feel that it is our responsibility to voice the Church’s concern and to offer some thoughts or reflections on the matter.
Naturally there are many things that can be said, especially given that the subject is a matter which relates to other, deeper, pastoral concerns which require due care and sensitivity. Therefore this statement is not an exhaustive examination of the subject in question, but is one which seeks to inspire thought and possibly further discussion.
Introduction: A Delicate Pastoral Concern for a Reluctant Church
The questions raised by the present “same-sex marriage” discussion, relates to numerous issues ranging from homosexuality, the meaning and experience of marriage, the role of family and the impacts upon Australian society. This of course elicits the Church’s view, in that it is one of the key players within our society which will deal first-hand and at the grass-roots level, the effects created if and when the gay lobby secures the redefinition of marriage.
Yet it is not easy for the Church to set down one specific or “blanket” approach that deals with any given pastoral concern, especially the question of homosexuality. Instead, the Church prudently examines each person and their particular circumstances, according to their respective basis, so that one can ascertain what is the best spiritual/existential outcome for that person. Therefore, the Church as a whole, is usually hesitant in commenting outright on most pastoral matters, since these are concerns that are dealt with by the personal relationship of the spiritual father, under the guidance of their local bishop, towards their spiritual child.
Nevertheless, this personal ministry of Orthodox clergy is guided and informed by various set principles and teachings which cannot be altered or changed according to the whims of fashionable trends in each age. These truths (or dogmas), are the foundation point from which the Church works from and meets the challenges posed by their particular geography, culture or era, in administering the loving wisdom of the Gospel within the confusion of human life. Furthermore, in carrying out this ministry, the Church seeks to avoid as best it can, from being entangled with or stained by, the musings of civil authorities and their politics.
Yet when confronted and forced into such engagements, particularly brought by a very vocal, well-organised and at times unscrupulous minority lobby group, who seeks to impose their view upon the wider society; then the Church is naturally compelled to voice its concern and refusal to endorse such an undertaking, like the redefinition of marriage.
It is here that we should note that the Church’s refusal is not a matter of hate or vilification of people who are “gay”, as is often the argument put forward by the gay lobbyists or by our present-day secular culture. The latter particularly, influences and cultivates people into automatically thinking that by saying “NO” it is a rejection of a person and an expression of hatred. This of course is a distorted view and understanding, because if one is truly familiar with the Church and her ministry of the Gospel, then they would not even dare to entertain such a thought.
Yet it seems that truth, balance, honesty and sober-mindedness does not even enter into such public discussions of communal and national significance. Instead such discussions like the one we have here in Australia, invariably gives way to and revolves around emotion and childish arguments about the legalities of rights, but do not mention any thought for responsibilities or consider the consequences of any proposed action.
A Quest for Meaning
Nonetheless, given the calling and loving ministry of the Gospel, the Church seeks to maintain its sense of proportion when entering such a minefield. In characteristic fashion, it begins by examining terms and concepts in order to first establish what are the foundational principles under discussion.
If we consider the term “homosexual” for example, then in our modern day language, we are referring to a person who is sexually oriented to and finds emotional validation via interaction with their own specific gender. Therefore, when we speak about a homosexual man, we are speaking about a man who is attracted to, stimulated by and sexually active with, other men. Hence, we cannot question or debate this particular point of terminology or concept. Any deviation from this mode of sexual engagement is something other than homosexuality, and as thus cannot be called homosexuality. One can speak of “experimentation” or behaviour being the exception to the rule of homosexuality, but as we cited, homosexuality specifically refers to a man (or woman) who is attracted and finds sexual affi
nity with others who are of the same gender as themselves. If, however, a man who purports to and claims to be homosexual, is attracted to women and engages them sexually, then he could not rightfully call himself homosexual, but bisexual.
In which case, such a man could never call himself “homosexual” because what he practices is something that in actuality is not homosexuality. Even if this man in question sought to redefine the term “homosexual”, or create or find another term by which to identify himself, it still would not change the fact that he is a bisexual. No amount of legislation or judicial process could change this actual fact, even if official documents were issued by such civil authorities that asserted that the bisexual man was in fact a “homosexual”, for in reality he still remains a “bisexual”. The great writer William Shakespeare had pointed out this link between reality and terminology when he spoke of his analogy of the rose, “for by any other name would it still smell just as sweet?”
In any case, this causes us to question or to ponder the wisdom, or even the legitimacy, of any civil authority claiming the exclusive right and authority to redefine marriage, even if they argue that they have a constitutional basis to do so. Because we need to consider whether marriage can be reduced to solely a legislative term given that historically, across cultural, religious, legal and societal divides, marriage has been recognised to specifically mean the permanent and exclusive union of one man and one woman, open to the procreation of children, the continuity of society and the “ideal” (not always attainable) stability of family relationships?
Societies where polygamy is practiced, are the exception to human historical witness, and only arose under specific circumstances, making particular distinctions between each spouse, thus excluding the mutual equality and status of the sexes that exist within true marriage between one man and one female. We would further add, even though one believes it is irrelevant to our discussion, that the practice of polygamy was specifically between the “natural complementarity of the sexes” and were not same-sex relations. If anything, in quite a number of cultures, sexual relationships between people of the same gender are neither considered marital relations or for that matter “real sex”, but some “fun” on the side!
In any case the term “marriage” even at the level of etymology, has referred to a specific relationship and “institution” between a man and woman, and no amount of redefinitions can change that specific meaning; just as our hypothetical bisexual man cannot claim to be a homosexual, since his sexual orientation and behaviour is not specific to men.
Yet if we return to the term “homosexual”, we are also confronted by its actual meaning, since it is a compound of “homo”, which means “of the same thing”, and “sexual”, that is “behaviour relating to sexual activity”. Therefore in its most literal sense, homosexuality is to “love yourself” (the same person), and to project your sexual activity and desires upon yourself. Not surprisingly, there are some social commentators, who as a consequence of this meaning, often use the term “masturbation” as a substitute or alternative to the word “homosexual”.
Of course in our daily parlance, homosexuality in its practice and expression is understood as two people of the same gender engaging in relational sexual behaviour. However the meaning of the term “homosexual” does reveal how language has been used to identify this particular behaviour and sexual orientation. In that homosexuality is the projection of a person’s “self-obsession” or “self-attraction” unto another person who shares the same physical attributes by virtue of gender, and who merely serve as a prop on which one can express/manifest their “self-centred desires”, “complex” or “insecurity”.
This of course is a point that geneticists, psychologists, biologists and anthropologists have sought to examine, in order to explain the phenomenon of homosexuality and discern whether it is a self-centred psychological complex, a cultural factor or a biological consideration.
From the ecclesial perspective, if homosexuality is a psychological projection or complex, then it is only by virtue of the fact, that it is a “pathos” (negative passion and obstacle), and like all “pathoi” (passions) its full logical conclusion, if not dealt with, is sin (amartia) and therefore distance from God, our reason of being and all of creation. For a pathos is an addiction that feeds on itself and pushes the person to continually serve it as a slave, controlling every aspect of their life whereby the person ceases being who they are and become their “pathos”.
That pathos in turn, demands further submission by the person labouring under its burden, and the euphoria that it bestows becomes ever less and temporary each time. It then causes that person to submit to its whims further and further, while pushing the afflicted person to take additional extreme steps so as the pathos can bestow its “fix”. In such a description one can recognise the dangers of excess, and as quite a few social workers and counsellors in the employ of the “gay community” note the immense prevalence of drugs, alcohol abuse, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuity and socio-psychological dislocation within their “community”, despite having the freedom and acceptance by the wider community to do what they like. Of course this description, due to the so-called “sexual revolution” and “liberation” of the 1960s and 1970s, is not confined to the gay community, but now exists in the wider community and goes in hand with the ever-increasing dissolution of the family unit.
Nonetheless, these journeys of the pathoi take people down the road of sin, that is, “amartia”, which literally means “missing the mark”. Yet what is our mark, and why are the pathoi such an obstacle? That mark within the Christian context, is the realisation of our full potentiality and capabilities, in accordance to our divine image and reason of being, in communion with God and all creation. The pathoi are distractions for us from focusing on this point, which when they (the pathoi) finally become the works of sin, are setbacks in that journey towards full communion and love with God and creation. It stops us from unearthing that divine image we are born with, and journeying towards the attainment of God’s likeness, effecting our transfiguration and transcendence from limited mortal beings constrained by our environment, to divinely blessed beings working and manifesting the gifts of grace.
Homosexuality and same-sex relationships are but another “pathic” expression, since it is one particular form of fornication, just like orgies, adultery or pre-martial sex; for all of
these are outside the “God-given” or “historical human” context of marriage between a man and a woman. The linchpin on which societies have developed, survived and flourished, but was also the mode on which the deeper sentiments, needs and love of the human person found expression and reality within. Whereas all forms of fornication take these divinely planted seeds that are within our being, and channel them into self-centred desires and whims, that are manifested and projected onto others, ignoring the cost or impact to those concerned, since the perpetrators’ intention is for self-gratification, irrespective of the consequences. It is therefore a deviation, as well as disrespectful to both God and the person (consenting or not) who has been used in such an ignoble way.
Civil Union or Marriage?
With these thoughts in mind, we are brought back to the concept of marriage and its specific identity and definition. For even if the civil authorities unilaterally expropriate and claim the right to redefine marriage in order to meet the demands of the gay lobby, in what sense can they do or achieve this? In contemplating this point, we are inevitably brought to consider whether this proposed “redefined” term will in actual fact be marriage or is it something that is claimed to be marriage?
Within the Australian context, the current discussion is presented in terms of civil rights and democratic principles, in which all citizens should be entitled to and not confined to heterosexuals only, but be open to others of “alternate” sexual orientations. Naturally the gay lobby assumes and asserts that they are the “alternate” sexually oriented group who should receive their democratic right as citizens to define their relationships as marriage.
If we pause for a moment to reflect on this point, one cannot but help notice that firstly, there is an innate arrogance and “victim” mentality by which the gay lobby seems to draw upon in justifying their demands, and believing they should be accorded preferential treatment. The question then arises as to what is it, that makes homosexuals any different from other “alternatively” sexually oriented people? Why are they so special, in order to receive due recognition of their relationships as marriage (in spite of historical witness) but to the exclusion of other “alternate” sexual relationships? Furthermore, one may ask that given our present day circumstances which accords freedom to homosexuals to practice or manifest their sexual orientation, why is it necessary to organise “gay pride” or “mardi gras” parades, advertising and promoting their orientation in such an ostentatious and public manner?
No other people with differing sexual orientations like polygamists, swingers, sado-masochists, or heterosexuals and others make such a public or well-organised display of their sexuality, which if anything, is confined to their own privacy. Yet this narcissistic display of sexuality by homosexuals, and the push for attaining recognition of their relationships as “marriage”; indicates to us that the gay movement, and for that matter homosexuality, is desperately seeking to convince others of its “merit” and become “gay” so that it may continue to survive and maintain itself. However it is also indicative of an inherent need for self-validation, and reflective of the probable narcissistic roots of homosexuality deep within the subconscious psyche of its adherents.
Another thought that we should pause to reflect on, is the demand for marriage as part of one’s democratic and civil right. It is this arbitrary and legalistic perception of marriage, which is the most dangerous and questionable point of Australia’s engagement with this concern. Not surprisingly, the present discussion has revolved around the “redefinition” of existing law, or put more concisely, “to change a few simple words”. This of course reveals the perverted understanding which permeates many societies today as to what marriage is. Within the Australian context, none of the civil authorities have stopped to even reflect upon this strict legalistic view of marriage, but have accepted it as a matter of fact, ignoring completely the principles on which the constitution chose to cite marriage as a unique union between a man and a woman.
The Australian media, which often expresses ideas or thoughts that are dogmatically secularist and atheist, promoted through its coverage, this perspective of marriage as a democratic civil right which is open to all. The Australian gay lobby naturally encouraged the media and civil authorities to remain focused on marriage as a civil right and purely a legal matter. As for the Australian public, their customary indifference or liberality has made the matter one of fact and consequently tacit endorsement of the proposed redefinition. They would prefer to view marriage as merely a socio-legal contract between two individuals based on their feelings for one another (usually at that specific point in time), which can be broken at any point if either party wishes. There is of course no intrinsic reference to either children or the wider community, since the “contract” is between the two concerned parties who have “pledged” themselves to one another, and as outlined by civil law, have certain legal and fiduciary responsibilities to one another. Clearly, this is not too dissimilar to the character or functioning of a business contract.
Consequently, this narrow legalistic view of marriage provides an excellent standpoint for the gay lobby to astutely highlight that their request is a mere formality, which seeks to revise the conditions on which two individuals can enter into this socio-legal contract. In any case, can we truly call this socio-legal contract with its financial-fiduciary responsibilities as marriage as understood by civil authorities, the media, the gay movement and the public? Furthermore, is it compatible and consistent with the historical experience and perception of marriage?
Therefore, from these standpoints, and the strict legalistic perception of marriage, one can deduce that the terms which are more appropriate and for that matter, accurate, is either “civil union” or “legal contract”, since the concept of marriage is neither being described or identified in any part of the current discussion. In light of this, some may say it is pointless to bother with continuing to try and define marriage in terms of a civil union or legal contract, and no matter how the state redefines the term, the outcome will still remain a base legal and lifeless concept, which in actuality remains a civil union and legal contract. Thus the only thing within the power of the state that it can legitimately offer the gay movement is not marriage, but civil unions.
The Nightmare of Legality
Yet if there was a reason, other than all the aforementioned on which this whole national discussion should not be considered, is not one of any “principles”, but one of practicality. For if we give heed to the premise that marriage is a dem
ocratic civil right, then that means there’s a corresponding civil responsibility. But determining that civil responsibility will become virtually impossible and extremely complicated, adding to our present-day socio-ethical confusions. What do we mean you may ask?
If same-sex “couples” successfully secure their “right”, then what precludes others of alternate sexual persuasions to do the same? To accommodate same-sex “couples” and those who will lobby for their “rights”, it will take more than a simple redefinition to ensure the proper “evnomic” functioning of the law or ensure the communal stability of society to which the department of human services will need to respond to, offering “appropriate” and tailor-made support to the new circumstances. The law courts will have to develop additional guidelines to cope with this new “innovation” in marriage which the current common law precedents may not cover.
Yet this is merely the tip of the iceberg which might be dealt with over time, but the permitting of same sex “couples” to secure their “rights” opens the floodgates to a bigger problem, for other people of other “alternate” sexual orientations will demand their “rights” also. The difference is that many of those who will follow and seek after the same “rights” that homosexuals secure, include those sexual orientations which are not socio-culturally “acceptable”, or even “reprehensible” according to even secular standards. Yet with effective propaganda and exposure these “orientations” could be made “acceptable” and more “mainstream”, and thus secure their “marital rights”.
If we consider the media’s impact, especially since World War II till our present, upon the sexualisation of our youth, then consider the resulting trends that have come about:
*The erosion of the family unit and the integrity and survival of marriage.
*An increase in psychological problems within children, which then translate to existential problems also within adulthood.
*Ever-increasing rates of crime that have a direct correlation to the dissolution of the family unit and marriages, since the children are exposed to an unstable home environment. Yet with liberalism which has permitted many things, the need to decriminalise has gained momentum since the law can no longer (or is not empowered to) reign in the excesses of social problems which have been permitted or decriminalised, and so are managed like a cancer which cannot be removed due to softening attitudes and public acceptance.
*The loss of the experience and joy of childhood for many children who have been forced prematurely into “sexually” “growing up”.
Yet in returning to our thoughts to the legal and social nightmare that same-sex “marriage” engenders, is that you would have paedophiles who assert that they do not wish to harm children, but to “show them love” seek out their “rights” to marriage (and thus acceptance of their “orientation”). For in their own eyes, as we can affirm from experience of social work and counselling, paedophiles truly believe that they are doing nothing wrong; despite ignoring the fact that the object of their affections is a person who has not matured physically, emotionally or psychologically, and is incapable of physically repulsing their advances and/or is unable to discern their intent and refuse before they are entrapped. Then there are those who are involved in the violent and demeaning “sexual relations” of sado-masochism, with all its paraphernalia of knives, whips and chains, that often witness brutal deaths or hospitalisation of its practitioners.
We should all give thought in noting that it was from this disturbed form of “sexual expression” which was a breeding ground of “repressed anger”, initially fuelled by pornography, that one of America’s most infamous serial rapists and murderer, Ted Bundy, began his disreputable reign of terror. His own comments prior to his execution have remained as a warning to us all of the dangers and impact of pornography and the media’s portrayal of violence, for as he noted, people like himself are not born the way they are. They are cultivated and formed by their surroundings, and if they are not strong in character or discerning, they become what others have come to know them for. But he also cited that the possibility of falling into his criminal example is not confined to a specific group of people, but could happen to anyone, provided the circumstances are in place, and therefore no one is immune from manifesting such crimes against humanity. We all thus have the potentiality to become serial killers and rapists!
Although these points may seem extreme, they do illustrate the question of where does one draw the line, or why homosexuals should be accorded their specific rights and not others. As one Englishman sarcastically asked in one of the Australian newspapers in the letters section; “Would this new definition of marriage lead to allowing people in future to secure the right to be officially recognised as married to a pumpkin?” Further on, another gentleman, who was an animal rights activist, cited that the RSPCA should be preparing to respond to those who were practitioners of bestiality, who in future would try to lobby for their “rights” to marry animals, and thus legitimise their violation of innocent creatures. Some days later, another respondent added to the animal rights activist’s comments by stating the dangers posed by the transference of diseases and bacteria between humans and animals. The consequences towards the general health of the population if it were to become mainstream would remain unknown but deadly.
The Image of Marriage
From the ecclesial perspective, marriage is not solely a socio-legal contract with duties and responsibilities between the concerned parties. It is something far greater and deeper than any contract, because it is a sacred bond of the highest order that fulfils and gives meaning to a person’s emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. It provides grounding and equilibrium to a person’s life, by challenging and enriching their reality through union with another person, who is of the opposite gender (together with their respective differences such as culture or upbringing etc) that help complement one another, by compensating each other’s failings with each others’ strengths.
It is also part of the natural law of creation, whereby males and females are paired off to one another for the perpetuity of humanity. Thus fulfilling “naturally” and without “artificial”, “synthetic” or “man-made” efforts one of the key elements of our reason of being, for even “infertile” couples have the potentiality to realise this blessing. Whereas gay “couples” would either have to find someone of the opposite gender in order to bring forth offspring, or utilise the various medically assisted means for pregnancy, or adopt children. In either case the same-sex “couple” have to break free from the confines of their union, so as to attain what it cannot produce.
This contrast between the perpetual survival of heterosexual marriage
against the un-perpetual or unsustainable character of same-sex unions highlights another key point. That marriage is a mystery which not only seeks to bring two opposite genders, with their various gifts and failings, into a harmonious union that realises their fullest potential of physical and spiritual love; but to witness and manifest the procreation of this love within the world, that also continues and mimics God’s creative action of love which began when He created the universe out of nothing, (first the heavenly and angelic realm, followed by our world as described in Genesis).
Therefore this procreation which brings forth progeny will be manifested once again by the succeeding generation when they also marry and procreate, thus continuing and perpetuating the love of God for humanity, by passing on the example of love (marriage) that one generation inherited from their predecessors. Naturally this factor highlights that the source and origin of love and life, which is the foundation of marriage, is God.
Consequently it is not by mistake that marriage challenges each person’s own being through their union with a person who is by gender (let alone other factors), radically different and unique to them, for it reflects the Trinitarian mystery. For marriage is the closest human foretaste which God has granted to us, to experience what the communion of “interpenetrating agape” is, or put another way, the relational reality of love that is the Holy Trinity. It is thus this Trinitarian relationship which is the prototype for all human relationships, but which humans all fall short of. For it is a mystery of One God in Three Persons, who eternally embrace each other in a permanent communion of love, without being subsumed or oppressed by the other persons of this union, nor dominate the other persons of this union. They thus remain in perfect equal unity and function as one, but still retain their distinct identity and uniqueness.
As a result of this, since marriage reflects and seeks to manifest or mimic this reality, it is not coincidental that Christian literature employs the term “agape” as its expression of marital love. For the differing terms of love such as “like”, “friendship”, “eros”, “affection” or “charity”, are not adequate or capable to express, or have the enduring qualities to imitate this Trinitarian prototype, and thus ground marriage. Even though words can never adequately express this inexpressible eternal mystery of Trinitarian communal reality, the only term that men of spiritual wisdom have ever dared to use, is “agape”. For agapetic love is by definition and character; a love which always gives of itself freely; never forcing itself upon the other; is always unselfish and self-sacrificial in serving the needs and wants of the other; nor does it make demands upon the other; or request reciprocity for its love.
Such a concept is as close as humanity can ever come to, in expressing in some sort of definitive language, the relational communion of love that the Holy Trinity lives and manifests, and has only revealed to us in part, thus keeping it as a mystery deep within their very being as One God. The implication of this paradigm of love, is a calling which may be difficult for us, but is not impossible. For it is focused upon ensuring the happiness, well-being, perpetuity and harmony of the married couple who “wound” each other with love, seeking to meet each others’ needs or desires as first priority before attending to their own concerns.
Naturally this does not mean we smother our spouse or fall into excessive sickening expressions or displays of affection. Our media and our public places of rest and recreation already bombard us with such false “romantic idealisations” which ironically seem to inevitably end in separation or divorce! Rather, the point is about cultivating every element of a relationship by focusing on each others’ emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual dimensions. This of course means resolving issues when they arise, sacrificing for the greater good of each others’ unity, and the need to navigate around each others’ needs if not compromise. In attending to each element, the attainment to and experience of one another is strengthened, deepened and enriched, for one does not (or need to) hide behind contrived masks to deceive oneself or one’s partner in staying together.
Some years ago, a certain widowed priest in Athens had scandalised his parishioners with a comment he made within a fellowship lecture that he was conducting. The controversial point, was that he asserted that when a man and a woman were engaging in sexual intimacy, that whatever feelings, thoughts, perceptions either had of one another, it was revealed and experienced in those moments. His reasoning was premised that one could not hide behind words, clothes and feigned emotions, because if one viewed the other as unworthy to be with them for example, then that would be manifested in their sexual expression. He further claimed, that even people who had been deceived by their partner, always had their suspicions or were unwilling to confront the truth and reality of their relationship.
As interesting as this father-confessor’s thought was, it sought to re-emphasise the importance and necessity of the equality between husband and wife. Thus reflecting both the Trinitarian foundation of marriage and the intention behind the equality of Adam and Eve, for God did not create Adam and a slave, or vice versa. As a couple they were created as male and female, and as equals, despite some of their relational problems that developed within the Genesis narrative, whereby each sought to pass off personal responsibility to the other and to the serpent.
On this point, some patristic commentators note how God took from Adam’s ribs, at the place close to the heart, to create Eve. In their view, had God taken from Adam’s head, Eve would have been a superior being to him; whereas had He taken from below Adam’s ribs to create Eve, then Eve would have been an inferior being before Adam. They would state that taking from the ribs, a place close to the heart, not only indicated their equality, but their need for unity, love, fulfilment and purpose, could only be found in each others’ “embrace”. To the Church Fathers it was not per chance that the narrative included Adam’s “perception” that Eve was “bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh”, and thus loved her from that moment, and she likewise loved him.
Therefore, it is not coincidental either, that St. Paul proclaims that at marriage the two become one flesh and that a husband “cleaves” to his wife and vice versa. Yet St. Paul’s imagery uses somewhat “legalistic” terminology to express an ontological and spiritual reality to the prevailing secular and pagan culture of his times. The first imagery, from his epistle to the Ephesians, characterises the relationship between husband and wife as reflecting the relationship between Christ and the Church, in that they are mutual and complementary to one another.
His language comes across as chauvinistic in our p
resent day, but the subtlety of his words are speaking to an audience which did not believe in the equality of the sexes, and so St Paul advocated gender equality by referring to Christ as the head and the Church as the body. In this way, St. Paul posed the question to his audience as to whether a head can function without a body, and if it could what value or purpose would it serve? In like fashion, could a body function without a head? Thus the body and the head find fulfilment and purpose in their integral unity and are thus dependent on one another, hence by inference, man and woman find this unity in the equality of marriage. One must also mention that there can only be one head in one body, if there are two heads, the body is divided and will not survive. The head always cares, serves, directs, and protects the body; whilst and the body serves, moves, and stabilises the head.
St. Paul’s other image of marriage, as cited in his first epistle to the Corinthians, as the spouses being the mutual “property” and “slave” of one another who are consecrated to God. In this image St. Paul relates that other key facet of agapetic love and the “Trinitarian communion prototype” as the basis for marriage. That basis, is premised on the fact that if neither husband or wife have “authority” over their own body, but their spouse does, according to God’s blessing; then that also means they cannot lead separate lives or own and control any given thing whether food, money or so forth, as separate individual possessions, but must share all things in common with one another. Their love, as expressed even at the physical level, is one that is of joint, equal communion, and not of master and slave. (Nor was it something open to those outside of their union, since they are the possession of one another). Thus we have unity and harmony in difference and uniqueness within the complementarity of the sexes.
That of course dear readers, are some of our humble thoughts and reflections as to the problems with Australia’s journey towards the disaster of the redefinition of marriage. The questions still remain the same though;
What is the reality of marriage?
What is our understanding or perception of marriage?
What purpose does marriage serve?
Can we, or more precisely, does any civil authority have the right to redefine marriage?
What are the social responsibilities towards the wider community, which has its foundations within marriage and the family unit? (Consider the results of Fascist and Communist societies that sought to break or control these “institutions”, or the West which has sought to erode it with turning society into a mere collection of “autonomous individuals”.)
What will be the consequences of redefining marriage? Who else will seek their so-called “democratic civil rights”, and what impact will that have?
In pondering these questions and their possible answers, we should then give due consideration to the fact that homosexuality by its very reality, does not test or express the Trinitarian communal basis of marriage; for it is not the union of opposites which balance or complement one another, nor does it challenge our gender biases and senses to think or exist beyond our own understanding.
Furthermore, one should also give thought to the damaging effects of undermining the Christian inspired and guided principles on which our legal system has been founded on. A system that we should hasten to note, has enfranchised millions of people around the world (including homosexuals) to secure the freedom to be what they wish to be. It has allowed women’s rights to develop, and provided the foundations for the formation of international laws and conventions which have set down the principles of human rights. We should also note as a result of this unique heritage, that many practitioners of the law profession, were and have been inspired by many of these ideals, which served as the catalyst for them to pursue their present career in the hope to promote a more just and equitable society. By undermining this essential ethos, we invalidate or frustrate their strenuous efforts towards this goal which gives meaning and purpose to their work, to which we are beneficiaries of.
Yet this very legacy of equity is the Christian witness to the world challenging the attitudes or preconceptions of every culture or nation, as well as our own concepts of government, social welfare support, public healthcare and education. Also, it is not coincidental that the largest providers of aid, healthcare, education and ardent advocates for human rights within our world, are Christian bodies and institutions. Of course one could ask as to whether homosexuals would have secured the right to freely express themselves in Muslim countries, or found acceptance in African tribal societies like the Masai, or flourished in a Buddhist environment? Yet, it was only in societies based on Christianity, did homosexuals find their voice, which allowed them the freedom to choose between a life in Christ, or a life going contrary to Christ. Thus we should ask ourselves how is this possible? To which we should inquire:
Was not their choice of sexual orientation respected if not tolerated?
Why do they wish to redefine marriage?
What is their purpose in seeking such redefinitions?
What will they gain if they do achieve this goal?
Is this goal a matter of innate jealousy towards heterosexuals, since they may feel within themselves a deep empty void due to something inherent within their being that has not been satisfied or fulfilled?
If it is a matter of the subconscious, does this point of envy begin with the fact that same-sex relationships cannot give birth to a child?
One can only speculate on the answers to these pertinent questions, but the reason why homosexuals have found their voice within Christian societies, is because the Christian Faith, if adhered to properly, is one that does not seek to force faith in God, since God Himself did not force faith upon humanity. The example of Christ allowing Himself to be unjustly accused and crucified, without responding to defend Himself, but choosing to remain silent, is a confronting vision for all of humanity. This of course is in line with the fact that the gift of life is a gift of love which has been bestowed freely upon us. With that gift we are also given the freedom of will to explore all its variables, without any obligations. But with all freedoms there are corresponding responsibilities, and to ignore those responsibilities, just as Adam and Eve had partaken of the fruit, we will have to give account to ourselves for the choices we take. God had counseled both Adam and Eve as to the dangers of freewill, but He did not compel them to abide by that counsel, for He wanted them to understand and accept that counsel freely and to respond in love to His calling of eternal life.
Therefore if someone wishes to accept and respond to the wise counsel and calling of God, then the path of Faith is open to them. As for those who do not wish to freely respond to the calling of God or take responsibility for their choices, that is entirely their affair and will to realise that they too are the architects of their own “destiny”. It is only to themselves they will have to give an account to. However there are some things that cannot be changed or altered by either group, for the reality of marriage is first and foremost amongst many other principles, a sacred and biological union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of everyone or anything else. Whatever else that occurs and does not fit this description is not marriage, but something completely different altogether, even if you try to call it marriage.
Appendix – The Massachusetts Experience
Trying to raise a Christian family? Read the account of a Massachusetts father!
Let us all Speak Up for Marriage now!
Since having established this webpage a few have responded arguing that legalising homosexual marriage will not impact on anyone in any way. They claim that faith-based communities have nothing to fear, and no one will be forced to embrace their lifestyle, and things will simply go on as normal. At first I thought, ‘perhaps this is the truth’, but then someone asked me to read what this concerned Massachusetts father has to say about how the public schools have been impacted. I provide some of his account below. It is truly concerning:
Anyone who thinks that same-gender “marriage” is a benign eccentricity which won’t affect the average person should consider what it has done in Massachusetts. It’s become a hammer to force the acceptance and normalization of the issue. And this is moving fast. What has happened so far is only the beginning.
On November 18, 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced its Goodridge opinion, ruling that it was unconstitutional not to allow same-gender “marriage.” Six months later, same gender marriages began to be performed.
The same gender “marriage” onslaught in public schools across the state started soon after the November 2003, court decision. At my own children’s high school there was a school-wide assembly to celebrate same-gender “marriage” in early December, 2003. It featured an array of speakers, including teachers at the school who announced that they would be “marrying” their same-gender partners and starting families either through adoption or artificial insemination. Literature on same-gender marriage – how it is now a normal part of life – was handed out to the students.
Within months it was brought into the middle schools. In September, 2004, an 8th-grade teacher in Brookline, MA, told NPR (ABC equivalent) that the marriage ruling had opened up the floodgates for teaching homosexuality. “In my mind, I know that, `OK, this is legal now.’ If somebody wants to challenge me, I’ll say, `Give me a break. It’s legal now,’” she told NPR. She added that she now discusses the issue with her students as explicitly and revealing as she desires.
By the following year it was in elementary school curricula. Kindergartners were given picture books telling them that same-gender couples are just another kind of family, like their own parents.
Second graders at the same school were read a book, “King and King”, about two men who have a romance and marry each other, with a picture of them kissing. When the parents complained, they were told that the school had no obligation to notify them or allow them to opt-out their child.
In 2006 the parents filed a federal Civil Rights lawsuit to force the schools to notify parents and allow them to opt-out their elementary-school children when homosexual-related subjects were taught. The federal judges dismissed the case. The judges ruled that because same-gender marriage is legal in Massachusetts, the school actually had a duty to normalize these relationships to children, and that schools have no obligation to notify parents or let them opt-out their children! Acceptance of same gender relationships had become a matter of good citizenship!
Think about that: Because same-gender marriage is “legal”, a federal judge has ruled that the schools now have a duty to portray same gender relationships as normal to children, despite what parents think or believe!
In 2006, in the elementary school where my daughter went to Kindergarten, the parents of a third-grader were forced to take their child out of school because a man undergoing a sex-change operation and cross-dressing was being brought into class to teach the children that there are now “different kinds of families.” School officials told the mother that her complaints to the principal were considered “inappropriate behaviour.”
Libraries have also radically changed. School libraries across the state, from elementary school to high school, now have shelves of books to normalize homosexual behaviour and the lifestyle in the minds of kids, some of them quite explicit. Parents’ complaints are ignored or met with hostility.
Over the past year, homosexual groups have been distributing a large, hardcover book celebrating homosexual marriage titled “Courting Equality” into every school library in the state.
“Gaydays” in schools are considered necessary to combat “intolerance” which may exist against same-gender relationships. Hundreds of high schools and even middle schools across the state now hold what they call “appreciation days”. In my own town, a school committee member recently announced that combating “homophobia” is now a top priority.
Once homosexuality has been normalized, all boundaries will come down. The schools are already moving on to normalizing transgenderism (including cross-dressing and sex changes). (www.massresistance.org/docs/marriage/effects_of_ssm.html)
Well, food for thought. Is this what we want our children to experience in Australia? Let us speak up now!
For more info see: http://palamas.info/orthodox-advocacy-for-a-just-civil-order/
 It is worth reading the Church canons dedicated to this very point, and are quite stringent about avoiding political entanglements.
 Just as we would say that a homosexual (lesbian) woman is one who engages with other women at such a level. Of course we use the word “lesbian” to distinguish between the genders of same-sex attraction, but if we are to be correct with regards terminology and etymology, then the word h
omosexual applies to both conditions of men being attracted to other men, and women being attracted to other females.
 For example it is an interesting study to examine the Islamic tradition of Sharia, and the various Hadiths ascribed to Mohammed which bring some insight on how this institution developed within Islam and has been debated on by Islamic scholars since. There is no clear or firm consensus as some ulema claim, but seems to be left to the discernment of fiqh (religious interpretation).
 It is worth noting that in the 1990s particularly, all these fields of study were dedicated in determining whether homosexuality was due to an inherent biological predisposition within humans as a means to halt excessive population growth. The gay movement sought to capitalise on such research as a means to justify their lobbying activity; and in spite of research findings not being concluded and proved, the gay movement utilised the presence of research to bombard the general populace via the mass-media, so as to make it accepted as fact, despite its inconclusive nature. A very interesting publication of the American Gay Rights movement, entitled “After the Ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 90s”, By Marshall Kirk and Hunter Marsden, Plume Books, (ISBN Number 9780452264984); relates how the use of the same methods of mass public indoctrination as utilised by the Nazis, Communists, Fascists and Zionists, have and should be continued to be employed by their movement. This point has become even more crucial, since the present lobbying effort by the gay movement within many countries has shifted away from seeking to prove scientifically the legitimacy of their sexual orientation, towards legalities and civil rights. This shift in tact, can only be explained by the fact that the attempts to prove a biological and genetic link with homosexuality was very weak, if not non-existent, and indicated that homosexuality was due to psychological and environmental factors. Thus, in psychological circles, attention was once again devoted to examining whether homosexuality was a form of self-obsession or self-attraction. In any case some prominent leaders noted that the mass indoctrination approach was far more reliable and effective to furthering their interests within the public domain. Another book worth reading is “The Trouble with Harry Hay: Founder of the Gay Movement”, By Stuart Timmons, Alyson Publications, (ISBN Number 9781555831752).
 We must remember that when the Church comments on such pastoral matters which involve the pathoi, it is not because of just what is natural or God-given, but speaks from historical experience and observation as to what can happen when we take things like erotic love outside of its marital context. We in effect complicate matters and the possibility of attaining our well-being in happiness and peace is made ever more difficult.
 This point of ostentation does figure prominent in “homosexual” literature, since within many gay movement publications there are constant references to and dsicussions of “social reengineering” and “mass sexualisation” of the wider populace. One of the key platforms mentioned in these works and studies is that by bombarding people with the same image constantly, the public not only become accustomed to what is portrayed and accept it, but imitate it.
 Of course, in Australia sports gains more attention and news-space than questions of socio-economic or political concern, and usually inspires more response and passion! I can recall a discussion with a foreign exchange student who duly noted that the image of Australians in his country was very negative, since Australians were perceived as a “bunch of dumb atheistic liberal yahoos who could not be trusted, and lacked any sort of depth or substance”!
 In considering this, maybe the civil authorities should rethink and redefine de-facto relationships as marriage since it already meets the legalistic perspective of marriage. And according to communal property laws, civil departments and the tax office, de-facto relationships are already treated and viewed as a type of marriage! So what’s the difference? Is it the terms and conditions attached to the “relationship” contract, just as promissory notes have different financial obligations from debenture notes?
 From the word evnomia which was the ideal that the ancient Greek and Byzantine philosophers often struggled to develop principles for, so that civil authorities could implement its principles and strive to attain its goal. In its most literal sense it means “good law”, but it more specifically means “good or perfect governance” and “good order”, the ideal which societies seek to strive to manifest.
 On this point we should note that cognitive, emotional and psychological development, if not allowed to occur at its natural pace, stunts and warps a person’s character immensely. The effects of which differ from one person to another, in accordance to their prevailing environment. For some they become serial murderers in adulthood, while others just remain self-centred immature brats who lack any social graces or consideration of others. The latter is of course the most common outcome, since the family environment has been able to some extent to temper these societal excesses. However the task of the family to provide a stable counter-balance to these excesses has been eroding successively in each generation. As the number of people coming from unstable domestic situations increases, together with the prevailing societal culture and the media’s influence, the effort to try and provide a sound family environment becomes ever more difficult, if not virtually impossible. There are many who often cite that parents and the family unit can protect their children from these external influences and deny the children access to these. However these liberals who excuse virtually anything and everything, ignore the fact that the forceful pervasiveness of sex, drugs and alcohol abuse is ingrained within television programmes or news items that are accessible with a flick of a switch. Then there is the benign influence of the internet and computers in general that is forcing us all to avoid direct contact with each other and go online, from banking to entertainment etc. No matter how brilliant or cautious a parent is, they cannot stand guard over a child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, year after year. Yet at the very simple level, one only has to look at the children’s clothes that are advertised in catalogues or stocked by any given clothes retailer, to observe the questionable and quite often immodest and sexualised garments that are on sale. It seems that, the media, mass-consumerism and materialism is assisting this moral decay by diverting peoples’ attentions from focusing on the things that are important to their well-being and happiness, onto useless and shallow distractions.