The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia has made a submission to the Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill.
The Church’s document, authored by US lawyer and former South Pacific Division communication director James Standish, is among more than 100 submissions made by various churches, human rights organisations, legal and community groups, and individuals.
The Exposure Draft will form the basis for ongoing consultation should the Federal Government’s same-sex marriage plebiscite go ahead.
"At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was love, grace and compassion, and He is our example as we undertake this process."
Australian Union Conference secretary Pastor Ken Vogel said the Church made its submission at the request of the Government.
“They are wanting the various views of the wider Australian community,” Pastor Vogel said. “Our Church—as in its history here in Australia going back to the development of the initial Australian Constitution—ought to have a voice in the public space just as much as any other Australian group. In fact, I believe we have an obligation to express a view on the various matters that are raised by government, being biblically-based Christians.”
Pastor Vogel said the Church in Australia is developing material that will help clarify the value of all persons while also holding onto those values and beliefs found in God’s Word. The material will also consider the implications of legislative changes to children, family and freedom of speech, conscience and religion.
“At the heart of Jesus’ ministry was love, grace and compassion, and He is our example as we undertake this process,” Pastor Vogel said. “Fundamental to the Church’s philosophy is to love and minister to all people regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.”
The Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill was established by the Senate on November 30, 2016. Among the key proposals is to change the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act from a “man and a woman” to “ two people” as well as to limit any exemptions for religious or conscience reasons to religious institutions and religious practitioners. This would mean any other individual who had a biblical view on marriage would not be able to express it or act on it without breaking the law. The committee is due to report to the Senate on or by February 13.