Well done Geraldine Doogue for getting all the important issues in the ‘marriage debate’ out on the table. The ‘informal dinner’ format didn’t fool anyone but she certainly managed her guest list well for scintillating conversation! The voices include (Anglican) Bishop Rob Forsyth, the (Baptist) Rev. Nathan Nettleton, Geoff Thomas, (RC) Father Frank Brennan, Julie McCrossin and Dennis Altman. You can read the transcript or watch the program via the ABC website.
When it comes to the Legislation of Marriage I want to ask:
- what is the role of the State in intimate relationships?
- how are social institutions such as marriage constructed and defined?
- when social institutions change and adapt at what point does the State adapt – progressively or conservatively?
- what is the relationships between religious communities and the State in a secular society?
- is the law’s role in ‘protecting the weak’ different to ‘protecting the rights of free choice’?
- what is the role of ritual in the establishment of personal and relationship identity?
- how are ‘morality’ and ‘justice’ worked out within a religious framework?
I think the discussion pretty much confirmed that we are no where near consensus, either in the Church or in Society, on these foundational matters of marriage as a social institution, regardless of what happens with marriage laws in Australia. Lucky Jesus gave us one universal that remains no matter how we Christians resolve these big social issues: ‘love the Lord your God and love your Neighbour as Yourself.’
Now there’s a good question: How do we legislate love?