Christianity and Islam don’t often appear to be aligned but that hasn’t stopped a Presbyterian Minister and some Sydney Islamic leaders joining forces on an issue they do agree upon: marriage. Or rather, that the definition of marriage as set out in the Bible, should not be changed by the Australian Government.
In an unprecedented move, Presbyterian Minister, Editor and lecturer Rev Dr Peter Barnes and four Islamic leaders – Mustafa Arja of Punchbowl, Sheikh Mutasim of Australian Islamic Mission, Sheikh Zuhair of Al Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Abu Anas of Riverwood Musallah – have co-signed a joint submission to the Senate inquiry on the issue of same sex marriage. In it, they clearly express their personal opposition to any recognition of same sex unions.
The Presbyterian Church of NSW (PCNSW), meanwhile, in its entirety supports similar submissions by the NSW Council of Churches, a Christian lobby organisation which represents the Presbyterian Church among other denominations and has called for any changes to the Marriage Act to be halted.
Mr Barnes said homosexuality had never been more in the news than it was now, with moves for same sex marriages. “We are writing as a group of concerned Christians and Muslims against any recognition of same sex unions,” he said.
“We believe that the recognition of same sex marriages would be the recognition of something that is unnatural. “Man was made for the woman and woman for the Man. It requires a rejection of the natural order of gender relationships to approve of same-sex marriage.”
The signatories make clear their beliefs that marriage was not simply a sociological reality. “It gives every evidence-of being designed by our creator. Two men or two women are simply not designed for one another in marriage.”
The submission says same-sex marriage would be harmful to the institution of the family and to children.
“Marriage carries responsibilities with it, and it is highly irresponsible and harmful to promote the raising of children in same-sex relationships. Children are not to be treated as pawns in anti-discrimination campaigns. Raising children is a difficult enough task as it is, without adding strains to it that ought not to be present.”
As well, the submission predicts that the recognition of same-sex marriage would create very create very deep and Irreparable divisions within Australian society. “The slogan that we are in this world to celebrate diversity has its limits. The recognition of same-sex marriages would create a very substantial segment of society which would feel a very deep alienation from the goals and character of Australian society. This would not auger well for the future.”
Mr Barnes, Mr Arja, Mr Mutasim, Mr Zuhair and Mr Anas also challenged the view that same-sex marriages were something new and progressive.
“It is nothing of the kind. Many of the early Roman emperors indulged in this kind of lifestyle. The crazed Nero twice married males in public ceremonies. Sodom and Gomorrah also maintain an ancient testimony against any pandering to the same sex lifestyle. Destructive passions are unleashed which do great harm to individuals and to societies.
“Hence, as a group of Muslims and of Christians’ we urge the Senate, and the legislature of the Federal Parliament in general to resist with clarity and vigour any attempt to redefine the God-given and natural definition of marriage.”