‘Not up to church to dictate on gay marriage’

RELIGIOUS and  ethnic communities remain divided on MP Louisa Wall’s Marriage Amendment Bill and how it will affect marriage in New Zealand.

Newswire spoke with various church leaders, ethnic communities and MPs  to get their views on marriage equality, from religious and ethical standpoints.

While some church leaders strongly support the Bill, and others are considering their support, there are those who continue to oppose it from a biblical standpoint as they believe marriage is intended for  a man and a woman, not same sex couples.

Church ‘should serve, not rule’ 

AN Island Bay  Presbyterian minister thinks the church needs to allow society to make its own decisions on gay marriage.

Rev Nathan Parry believes the Church’s position has changed over time.

“I think Christianity has had a strong opinion about marriage historically, but the church exists to serve society, not to rule over society.

“So if society has moved in that direction, it’s right for the Church to make its perspective known, but not to try and dictate what society should do.”

Asked how he felt about the gay marriage debate, he said it was “interesting”.

A petition against the bill was made available for members of his congregation to sign, but only about four families had done so.

“That would indicate to me that there isn’t much heat, even within the Christian community”, he said.

The Church  was going to have to rethink its theology of marriage, and its relationship to the state.

“New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where ministers have the legal power to marry people.

“The Church is going to have to rethink its relationship to the state in that regard.”

If he was asked to marry a gay couple, some church members would be happy about that, while others would be against it, and this  would take some working through.

Gay marriage ‘unnatural’ 

STRONG opposition to the bill was voiced at Parliament today by  a group of Korean church pastors and several local Koreans, who stood to one side while about  1000 bill supporters chanted and waved placards.

“Gay marriage is unnatural. It can’t make a family, and can’t keep our generation going,” said one pastor, who did not wish to be named.

David Jang, president of Southern Cross Christian Television, said  the entire 35,000-strong Korean community in New Zealand was behind them.

“We don’t understand what the Government is doing with this,” he said. “Everyone here was made from the union of a man and a woman.”

Mr Jang said  same-sex marriage movements were part of a wider worldwide phenomenon which would be bad for New Zealand.

“We can see that societies that legalised this are not doing very well right now. It leads to disorder in society.”

Not as vehement was Anglican Minister Rory Pilbrow, who states he also believes marriage should remain between a man and a woman, but also believes that homosexual couples should not be discrimated against by our legal system.
“Personally I think the best and God-intended  relationship for healthy society is the marriage relationship of one man and one woman, in a long term, loving, committed relationship where children can be nurtured,” says Mr Pilbrow, the Minister at Island Bay’s St Hilda’s church.
“However, in terms of two people of the same sex wanting to have a long term, committed relationship with another – with or without the nurture of children – I don’t think the law should discriminate and that relationship should be honoured for what it is.”

Equality ‘not to be feared but celebrated’

IN contrast, St Andrew’s on the Terrace, a liberal Presbyterian church, has been a long-time supporter of marriage equality.

Claire Brockett, partner of St Andrew’s Minister Rev Dr Margaret Mayman, addressed the Bill’s supporters at Parliament, saying marriage equality is not to be feared, but “blessed and celebrated.”

“We support the Bill not in spite of our faith, but because of it,” said Ms Brockett, whose speech received  rapturous applause from the Bill’s supporters.

“There is nothing in the Bible about [homosexual] couples loving and committing to each other. This is a moral issue, and equality and justice should be at the heart of moral and spiritual life.”

Her view was supported by peer support group Rainbow Youth, who spoke out against the Korean pastors’ stance.

“Faith has many visual images and queer people have a range of values and beliefs too”, said executive director Tom Hamilton.

“If I was contemplating marriage and I knew a celebrant or minister held biased views, I’d take my business elsewhere.”

PASIFIKA SUPPORT: From left, Leilani Visesio, Fetu-ole-Moana Teuila Tamapeau, Jahshana Harata Rangi Paku, and Alana McGimpset.

‘It will help our queer brothers and sisters’

MEMBERS of Wellington’s Pacific community  at the rally  said they were positive about the Bill.

“I think this will create more unity in New Zealand,” said Wellington City Council Samoan representative Fetu-ole-Moana Teuila Tamapeau.

“I don’t think it will affect Christian values. It will help our Pacific queer brothers and sisters come together and be more open about it.”

Jahshana Harata Rangi Paku said that everyone should be treated equally, regardless of religion or gender.

Labour MP Kris Fa’afoi, the first Tokelauan to be elected to Parliament,  also offered his support, as did Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira.

“I think it’s really important that we send a message to New Zealanders that we don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, race, gender or religion,” said Mr Fa’afoi.

“What it means is that everyone in the eye of the law will be equal and will have the right to marry.”

Mr Harawira said he toured the country talking to Mana Party members about the Bill, which led him to supporting it.

“It’s an issue about relationships and about whether people love one and other,” he said.

‘No need to redefine marriage’

CONSERVATIVE lobby group Family First NZ remains stanchly opposed to the Bill, and has presented a petition with nearly 50,000 signatures to a group of MPs.

Director Bob McCoskrie says civil unions are a legal recognition of relationships between same-sex couples, and marriage does not need to be redefined  by allowing these couples to wed.

“It’s not discriminatory to support the existing definition of marriage,” he said.

Church leaders speak out

SEVENTY church leaders – including numerous national heads of major church denominations both Catholic and Protestant – are speaking up in a joint personal statement on the day of the first reading of the Marriage Amendment Bill.

“We have made this joint statement because members of Parliament need to be in no doubt what mainstream Christian views are on this matter,” says Rev Dr Richard Waugh

Church leaders’ statement:

This issue is not about equality but about the nature of marriage. All human beings are equal in the sight of both God and society, but not all relationships are the same. Marriage has uniquely been about the union of male and female.

The State should not presume to re-engineer a basic human institution. The complementary role of male and female is basic to the very character of marriage, along with having and raising children.

Same-sex relationships are intrinsically different, so can never be regarded as true marriage.

Parliament needs to take seriously that, for a very significant proportion of the New Zealand public, marriage is more than just a legal agreement or social contract, but has a  sacred character to it, and that many people – Christian and otherwise – feel very strongly that the nature of marriage should not be interfered with.

In 2004, the public was assured by the Prime Minister and other MPs that marriage would be respected as the union of a man and a woman, and that Civil Unions were a good and acceptable alternative, offering equivalent legal protections to marriage itself.

It is now time for Members of Parliament to recall and honour those assurances.

Signed by:

–         Rev. Dr. Richard Waugh QSM (Wesleyan Methodist, National Superintendent)

–         Archbishop John Dew(Catholic)

–         Rev. Craig Vernall(Baptist, National Leader)

–         Bishop Patrick Dunn (Catholic)

–         Rev. Dr Merv Duffy SM (Catholic, Lecturer in the Theology of Marriage)

–         Rev. Dr Stuart Lange (Presbyterian; Senior Lecturer, Laidlaw College)

–         Rev. Mark Whitfield (Lutheran, President of Lutheran Church of New Zealand

–         Rev. Max Scott(Anglican)

–         Bishop Denis Browne (Catholic)

–         Rev. James Lee (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Dr Sarah Harris (Anglican, New Testament Lecturer, Carey Baptist College)

–         Rev. Peter Benzie (Wesleyan Methodist, National Secretary)

–         Mr Glyn Carpenter (Director, New Zealand Christian Network)

–         Rev. Fakaofo Kaio (Presbyterian, Moderator of Northern Presbytery)

–         Rev. Rhys Pearson (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Illiafi Esera (Assemblies of God, Superintendent)

–         Pastor Eddie Tupa’i (President, North New Zealand Conference, Seventh-day Adventist Church)

–         Rev. Steve Maina (Anglican, New Zealand Church Missionary Society)

–         Rev. Ian Guy (Presbyterian)

–         Bishop Charles Drennan (Catholic)

–         Rev. Kim Francis (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Murray Robertson (Baptist)

–         Pastor Lloyd Rankin (National Director, Vineyard Churches Aotearoa New Zealand)

–         Rev. Michael Hewat (Anglican)

–         Rev. Ian Hyslop (Presbyterian)

Rev. Nick Kirk (Anglican, Dean of Nelson Cathedral)

–         Pastor Ken Harrison (Harvest Christian Church Papakura, AOGNZ)

–         Rev. Steve Millward (Presbyterian)

–         Bishop Barry Jones (Catholic)

–         Rev. Brian Brandon (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Andrew Carley (Anglican, Leader Latimer Fellowship)

–         Rev. Ben Dykman (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Mike Hawke (Anglican)

–         Pastor Mike Griffiths (Elim, National Leader)

–         Bishop Colin Campbell (Catholic)

–         Captain Peter Lloyd (Anglican, former Director, Church Army New Zealand)

–         Rev. Dr Stuart Vogel (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Dr Myk Habets (Head of Carey Graduate School, Carey Baptist College)

–         Rev. Eric Etwell (Anglican, Administrator of AFFIRM)

–         Pastor John Steele (National Leader, New Life Churches International)

–         Rev. Dr Mark Keown (Presbyterian; Senior Lecturer, Laidlaw College)

–         Mr Peter Eccles (Chairman, Auckland Congregational Union churches)

–         Rev. Dr Neville Bartle (National Superintendent, Church of the Nazarene)

–         Rev. Steve Jourdain (Presbyterian)

–         Pastor Peter Mortlock (Senior Pastor City Impact Church)

–         Rev. Lindsay Jones (Baptist)

–         Pastor Jerry Matthews (President, New Zealand Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church)

–         Pastor Dr Brian Hughes (Calvary Chapel)

–         Rev. Emma Keown (Presbyterian)

–         Dr Rod Thompson (Principal, Laidlaw College)

–         Dr Laurie Guy (Baptist, Vice Principal, Carey College)

–         Rev. Dr Colin Marshall (Presbyterian)

–         Pastor Rasik Ranchord (New Life Churches International

–         Rev. Andrew Marshall (National Director, Alliance Churches of New Zealand)

–         Rev. Dr Martin Macaulay (Presbyterian)

–         Pastor Bruce Monk (National Leader, Equippers Church)

–         Rev. Charles Hewlett (Principal, Carey Baptist College)

–         Pastor Alan Vink (National Director,Willow Creek Association NZ)

–         Rev. Hung-Yi Pan (Wesleyan Methodist)

–         Rev. Steve Jourdain (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Tom Phillips (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Stuart Crossan (Anglican)

–         Rev. Peter Dunn (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Ruth Boswell (Wesleyan Methodist)

–         Rev. John Gullick (Presbyterian)

–         The Very Rev. Rob Yule (Presbyterian, Former Moderator)

–         National Leadership Team (Christian Churches New Zealand)

–         Rev. Toeaina Leiite Setefano (Presbyterian – PIC)

–         Rev. Stephen Woo Taek Nam (Presbyterian)

–         Rev. Dr Geoff New (Presbyterian)


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