Marriage really is the GLBT issue at the moment in politics. After all the years of struggle and pain we have now arrived at a point where same-sex marriage is being discussed at a national level.

I’m sure to many this seems nothing short of a miracle! From decriminalisation to marriage in (hopefully!) under 30 years would be an amazing tribute to all who have worked for equal rights.

And it seems to be happening in spite of the increasingly shrill cries from conservative Christian groups and churches. Someone really does need to let them know that the world has not ended despite all the claims it would if women and Aboriginal people got the vote, if homosexuality was decriminalised, and David Jones opened on a Sunday. Last time I looked out the window, the sun was still shining.

Through opposition to these and other human rights issues the churches have made themselves less relevant and increasingly on the outer of our society. The marriage debate is no different.

How tragic to live in a society that says that two people cannot marry if they have happened to fall in love with someone of the same sex. How tragic is it that our laws are saying that sorry, you have fallen in love with the wrong person. Churches should be in the middle of the debate, saying this is wrong.

The message of Christ really does talk about love for ourselves and those around us, peace, hope for the future, and the fact that everyone has a responsibility for what happens in society. And even if you don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, I challenge anyone to say that the teaching “act and behave to others as you want them to act and behave to you” is anything but a good idea!

I firmly believe people should be encouraged to attend church and welcomed with open arms. Religion, spirituality and faith are vitally important to us and to society.

That churches seem to discourage people who they see as ‘different’ is a tragedy. If you read the Bible, Jesus hung out a lot with those who were different. Churches have had the monopoly on marriages for a very long time, although these days I reckon many people like using churches due to the high ceilings and low overheads! They are in a perfect position to support social change and encourage same-sex couples to come back to church and show that truly God has enough love for everyone, no matter who they love.

And what would an article be without a short plug? Metropolitan Community Churches has been performing same-sex marriages since 1969 and has been instrumental in countries such as Canada in helping get legislation passed to legalise same-sex marriage. It has always been at the forefront of social justice issues, welcoming everyone, and will continue to do so.

I very much look forward to the day when a marriage service at MCC will result in a loving couple joined together not just spiritually and emotionally, but also legally and equal to anyone else who wants to get married.

INFO: by Rev Gavin Ward, Associate Pastor at MCC Good Shepherd in Granville, NSW. http://mccgoodshepherd.com

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