That the Assembly resolve to
request the Doctrine Working Group, in consultation with the Worship Working Group and Uniting Justice, to
1. prepare a discussion paper on
(b) whether this theology enables the celebration and blessing of lifelong, faithful, same-sex relationships as ‘marriages’, or
(c) whether the
2. bring this paper, with appropriate recommendations, to a 2014 meeting of the Assembly Standing Committee.
In 2011 the Australian Labor Party changed its official policy platform to support same-sex marriage. It is unlikely same-sex marriage will be legalised by the current parliament because Labor members have been given a conscience vote on the issue, while Liberal members haven’t. However, the issue is well and truly on
The Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) allows ministers of the Uniting Church in Australia to legally solemnise marriages (PART IV--SOLEMNISATION OF MARRIAGES IN AUSTRALIA; Division 1 -- Authorised celebrants; Subdivision A--Ministers of religion). If same-sex marriages become legal under this Act, even if religious celebrants are exempted from celebrating them, it would be helpful for the
Currently: “With regard to same-sex relationships the
In 1991, in response to a service of blessing of a covenant relationship held at Pitt Street Uniting Church, the Assembly Standing Committee resolved: “recognising the issues raised are of urgent and far-reaching significance for the Church, to enter upon a period of prayer, study and reflection of the theological, biblical and pastoral aspects involved in the Church recognising a relationship between two persons of the same sex making a commitment to each other in love and fidelity” (ASC minute 91.95.4(a). This was taken up by the Task Group on Sexuality. One of the proposals brought to the 1997 Assembly was that the Standing Committee “appoint a group which includes gay and lesbian members to consider and bring recommendations to the Ninth Assembly on how the Church may respond to lesbian and gay people who wish to have their commitment to a life-long faithful relationship affirmed by the Church” (Assembly Task Group on Sexuality, Uniting Sexuality and Faith, Uniting Church Press, Melbourne, 1997, p. 71). When the Assembly decided not to vote on the recommendations of the Task Group on Sexuality, this proposal disappeared.
More than twenty years after the issue was first raised for the Assembly Standing Committee, now that the rest of Australia is also debating the issue, it is timely for the Assembly to once again look at the theological, biblical and pastoral aspects involved in the Church recognising a relationship between two persons of the same sex making a commitment to each other in love and fidelity.
The Doctrine Working Group would appear to be the appropriate body to begin the discussion, in consultation. The Worship Working Group should be consulted because lex orandi, lex credenda (the law of prayer is the law of belief); our existing marriage service already tells us a lot about the