A Rationale for a Proposal on Marriage

Published 01 August 2012

ACC correspondent Ian Clarkson provides a rationale for a proposal to affirm our present Christian and Uniting understanding of marriage.
A proposed rationale:

• Our society is confused about the nature and meaning of marriage and needs the clear direction which it is the responsibility of the church to provide.

• Our society is torn and saddened by the weakening and breakup of families which are the primary social units and foundational strength of its whole fabric. We have drifted from the just and peaceable standards of lifelong fidelity. Our society needs reminding and clear understanding of marriage which the church has long taught and held; the lifelong covenant of a man and a women in matrimony.

• Approximately 50% of Australians enter into marriage over a long period of time. Long term, life giving relationships are highly valued but often feel beyond people's reach. How do we enter such a relationship and remain faithful and life giving? This tension exists within all our communities, including church communities - sometimes to breaking point. The Gospel of Jesus offers a unique and profound vision of marriage and a covenant of grace to match. This proposal is intended to affirm marriage between men and women as revealed in the Gospel and offer the strength needed to live in it through Christ's offer of mercy and power in his death and resurrection.

• We realise the importance of the gift of marriage lived out in faithfulness, kindness and mutual tenderness. We recognise that children born and raised in such a covenant benefit greatly and as a result society benefits. The debates and deconstructions of marriage are partly symptoms of a deep hunger for intimacy. Christian marriage that is founded and constantly renewed in the Gospel is one of the great sources of "salt and light" for each new generation where everyone benefits and grows.

Resolutions of the South Australian Synod of the UCA: 1991 Synod 91.64
It was agreed that the Synod:
adopt the following statement on human sexuality and refer it to all Parishes,
Presbyteries, Commissions and Committees within the Synod as a pastoral
a. That the biblical and traditional teaching on chastity outside of
marriage and fidelity within marriage is a response to, and an
expression of, God's love for each one of us.
b. That ideally sexual intercourse is an act of total commitment which
belongs properly within a marriage relationship.
c. That fornication and adultery are sins against this ideal.
d. That homosexual genital acts also fall short of this ideal.
e. That all Christians are called to be exemplary in all spheres of
morality, including sexual morality, and any failure is to be met with
a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion and the message
of the gospel of God's grace and human wholeness.
f. That the pursuit of holiness of life is particularly required of
Christian leaders.

REFERENCE - Uniting Church Assembly: Assembly minute extract of 97.31.12
97.31.12 to approve the following policy Statement on Marriage:
"The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia declares that
1. Marriage
Marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life.
It is intended to be the mutually faithful lifelong union of a woman and man expressed in every part of their life together.
In marriage the man and the woman seek to encourage and enrich each other through love and companionship.
In the marriage service
• the woman and man make a public covenant with each other and with God, in the company of family and friends;
• the couple affirm their trust in each other and in God;
• the Church affirms the sanctity of marriage and nurtures those who pledge themselves to each other in marriage and calls upon all people to support, uphold and nurture those who pledge themselves to each other in marriage.
Where sexual union takes place the partners seek to express mutual delight, pleasure and tenderness, thus strengthening the union of their lives together.
In marriage, children may be born and are to be brought up in love and security, thus providing a firm foundation for society.