Parliament legalises same-sex marriage; LCA Bishop releases pastoral message
LCA Bishop John Henderson has released a pastoral letter to members in response to the passing of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill in the House of Representatives this afternoon. This means it will soon be legal in Australia for ’two persons’ to be married.
Bishop Henderson reaffirms the view of the Lutheran Church of Australia that marriage is ‘the union of a man and a woman’ and acknowledges that while ‘changes in our society may cause us confusion about how best to respond’, they are ‘not a reason to lose hope or to doubt the goodness and love of God’.
He asks, ‘How will we show love to one another when we differ? Can we learn to embrace each other with genuine understanding, compassion and love, so that Christ’s love may shine and the whole world may know him and believe?’
The new legislation will permit our pastors to say ‘no’ to marrying same-sex couples and our congregations to choose whether or not to hire their buildings or premises for same-sex weddings and receptions.
Recognising that church members will have questions and concerns about the impact of the new legislation on other aspects of church life, Bishop Henderson has included in his pastoral letter four sample questions and answers (Q&A). They provide initial guidance for responding to requests from same-sex couples to be married in Lutheran churches or to hire halls for receptions, or to attend holy communion together, or to have their children baptised.
As the implications of the new legislation are further explored, the LCA bishops and the Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions will develop more Q&A for the guidance of pastors and lay people.
‘God is with us in all this to guide us in all our thoughts and actions. Despite the tension and paradox we feel, particularly on this issue,’ Bishop Henderson says, ‘Christ continues to call us together as members of his body’.
- LCA Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions – see lca.org.au/dsto
- Volume 1 H. – Marriage, divorce and re-marriage
- Volume 1 H. – Marriage and de facto relationships
- Volume 3 H. – Human sexuality: three key issues
- Volume 3 H. – Human sexuality: three key issues (background paper)
- LCA marriage rite – in LCA Rites (ask your pastor to see a copy)
- LCA Bishop messages:
28 May 2015 http://www.lca.org.au/statement-on-marriage/
21 August 2017 http://www.lca.org.au/message-same-sex-marriage/
15 November 2017 http://www.lca.org.au/same-sex-marriage-postal-vote-announcement/
- Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017