The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, a national voluntary survey mailed out on September 12, 2017, asks Australian voters one question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The survey was sent through the Australian postal service and respondents have until November 7, 2017 to vote.
The survey form, instructions, and reply-paid envelope were sent by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The results are non-binding for the government, but if the majority of responses are “yes,” (which early polls indicate will be the case) then the Turnbull Government has stated it will introduce a bill to legalize same-sex marriage for Australia. A parliamentary debate and vote would then follow.
In response to the postal survey, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia has issued a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Adventist churches on September 16. They have also released a booklet that affirms the Church’s view on marriage.
In a section of the booklet titled, “Freedom of Speech, Conscience & Religion,” it states:
. . . the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia supports and advocates for the current legal definition of marriage being a union between a man and a woman. As part of this support and advocacy, the Church has made a submission to the Senate Committee established in November 2016 to consider the implications of redefining marriage . . .
The booklet also discusses the modern view that marriage is only about love in the section titled “God’s Plan for Human Relationships.”
You might be thinking, Isn’t it all about love? What’s the problem with two people who love each other getting married? The kingdom of God is one that upholds freedom of choice and action, whether consistent with biblical teaching or not. While we recognise the desire a couple who genuinely love each other may have for marriage, we also believe there is more to a marriage than just “being in love.” Marriage is God’s ideal place to “create” and raise children.
The booklet goes on to say in the section, “Redefining Marriage – the Consequences for Families” that, “To change the meaning of marriage to two people of either gender whose union cannot produce children will mean we’ve really lost something valuable.”
Michael Worker, secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia (AUC) and chair of the AUC Religious Freedom Steering Committee, echoed these concerns in an August 17 Adventist Record article, stating, “We want to encourage you to make an intentional decision to vote and to be informed about the consequences of changing the definition of marriage. . . . We believe a change to the definition of marriage will dramatically re-shape our nation and have consequences for children and freedom of religion.”
In response to this official stance from the AUC, a statement began circulating this week titled “An Alternative Adventist Perspective on the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.” Signed by 50 members of the Australian Adventist community, the statement reminds that there are “differing perspectives even among members of our community of faith. We hope that those within our faith community who choose to vote ‘no’ will sustain love and respect for those within our faith community who choose to vote ‘yes’—and vice versa.”
The statement goes on to read:
For some, this is a question of freedom of belief: that living in Australia’s pluralistic society, whatever our understanding of marriage, we must speak up for the rights of others to choose differently. We recognise that same-sex marriage is at odds with the Adventist Church’s understanding of marriage —and we understand why some will vote “No” based on this understanding—but we believe this should not be presumed of or imposed upon those who do not accept the Bible as their rule of faith and life.
The full statement can be found below.
All postal survey responses must be received by 6 p.m. on November 7, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the results on November 15.
Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
Image Credit: marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au
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