Firstly, why would the same-sex community seek after MARRIAGE (or seek after an amendment to Australia’s Marriage Act 2004 in particular) when same-sex union already has its equivalence which the community calls COMMITMENT? Of course, there is no course (of action) without a cause, which I attempt to examine in this conversation. Secondly, why would a same-sex union seek EQUALITY with a traditional union even though equality is already fully guaranteed by Australia’s Sex discrimination Act of 1984? In this contribution to the ongoing Marriage Act debate in Australia (and elsewhere around the world), I use the analogy of “My right hand and my right leg” in relation to the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘commitment’ as they are commonly known and used, in both civil & religious marriages and in the LGBT community, respectively. I approach this dialogue from my professional perspective in Preventive Marriage Education & Relationship Management. However, I utilize a range of tools that most people can perhaps easily relate with: undeniable reality, verifiable historicity, irrefutable facts of life, and the speaking of the truth in love; the truth that speaks to, and awakens, the human conscience and sets free. I do so most advisedly in order to advance, what I suggest to be, equitable justice and the utmost right-thing-to-do in fairness to both sides of the debate. In the final outcome of this approach, I then propose that, without amending or redefining marriage in the Marriage Act (which defines marriage as a heterogeneous union), we can choose to have a totally new same-sex commitment Act, to legalise and regulate same-sex unions in the LGBT community. This new Act, if established by Parliament, will be a parallel Act to the Marriage Act 1961 (as amended in 2004 and its regulations of 1963). I then suggest that, such a development will be the utmost balancing act and the real ‘marriage equality’ that legalises same-sex unions without redefining marriage nor unnerving and provoking traditional marriage communities, both civil and religious. In this clarion call to fellow Australians and other citizens of the world, I offer the need for all to awaken to reality, so we can demonstrate the-courage-of-a-nation, by boldly “giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God”, as Wisdom says. This we can do without amending, changing or tearing down the existing Marriage Act under the illusion and pretext of a ‘marriage equality’.

My Right Hand Vs My Right Leg: I will now attempt a two-step exercise. First, to compare my right hand with my right leg. Second, attempt to achieve equality between the two. I do so by  writing down the differences between my right hand and my right leg in terms of distinctiveness, uniqueness, and purpose. I then to try to figure out how to achieve equality between the two, which is only truly possible by ignoring their distinctiveness, uniqueness, and purpose. Well, to cut a long story short, it turns out to be a futile exercise. I try to figure out why this exercise is both painstaking and futile. Here, the light comes on: first, although both my right hand and my right leg are parts of my body, yet comparing them was cumbersome and senseless because both of them are totally different from each other, in distinctiveness, uniqueness, and purpose. For example, while my right hand is situated at the upper part of my body in order to achieve its designed purpose, my right leg is located at the lower part of my body to fulfil its own purpose. A further attempt to bring them to equality becomes all the more foolish, senseless, and as it were, attempting an impossible task. Why is that? They are both fundamentally distinct, unique, and accomplish different purposes.

Marriage Vs Commitment: Drawing upon the fore-going analogy, let us now think soberly: Is there truly a fundamental basis to compare same-sex commitment with opposite-sex or traditional marriage? Well, you will find it so much easier to compare your right eye with your left eye, and your right ear with your left ear, because they are fundamentally the same. Hence, to compare your right eye with your left eye in terms of vision, you may perhaps find out that one of the two is 20% short-sighted or long-sighted. You may then take the next step of seeking medical help to achieve equality of vision or 20:20 vision.

Yes, it is so easy to compare and seek equality between two same-sex unions or between two married couples; but are there common grounds for measuring ‘equality’ between same-sex union and traditional marriage? Fundamentally speaking, there is absolutely none in view of their distinctiveness, uniqueness, and purpose. The reasons are not far-fetched. Firstly, same-sex union is simply what the term suggests, a union of same-sexes, and is based on ‘commitment’ and not on ‘marriage’. Whereas marriage, both by historical and legal definitions, as in Australia’s Marriage Amendment Act 2004, is a union between man and woman. Secondly, marriage is backed up by an Act of parliament (which makes it legal) while same-sex commitment has no Act to back it up in Australia as we speak. The battle to resolve this has been long drawn and a long time to go. Indeed, should we, for the sake of comparing both, dare to upgrade same-sex union to a common ground with traditional marriage and then call it ‘same-sex marriage’, we would instantly be in danger of an illegal act, in view of what is called marriage by the Australian Act. There can therefore be no talk of equality between same-sex and heterogeneous unions, or between what has no Act and what has an Act, under our present law. What then is the legality of the platform or of the constant use of the term ‘marriage equality’ which inherently compares two kinds of marriages and suggests there is inequality?

Attempt To Amend An Existing Law Unlawfully: To amend or change an existing law (the marriage Act 2004), we can only do so lawfully. This is a fundamental principal of law. I have argued that, the term ‘marriage equality’ presupposes the existence of two kinds of marriages under existing law. As stated, the problem with this approach is, we don’t have two kinds of marriages under Australian law at the moment, and the whole scam of marriage equality begins here. It then gets worse when it comes down to seeking equality between the two. Even within the LGBT community, there is nothing called marriage or marriage ceremonies, only what is called commitment and commitment ceremonies. If there is, it would be illegal. Yet, and regrettably so, we have lawmakers today who have been using an unlawful term and an illegal means, called marriage equality, to seek to change or redefine a lawful term, marriage, as defined in the Marriage Act.

In light of the foregoing and to state the obvious, the term ‘marriage equality’ is a political scam, in the very least. At best, it is a misnomer insofar as it seeks to compare and equalise two unions that are fundamentally opposite in their distinctiveness, uniqueness, and purpose. Consequently, we may now ask, where does that leave same-sex commitment? It leaves it right in the centre of a new same-sex commitment Act; a new Act of Parliament which I now propose in this debate. That is, a new Act for same-sex union without amending the marriage Acts of 1961 & 2004. Where does that leave ‘marriage equality’? Where else but in the garbage bin of political scams, socially manipulative tools, dishonestly crafted and mind-controlling games that have long exceeded their use-by date? All that the political tricksters who infiltrated and hijacked the same-sex movement wanted to do was use a legitimate need as a political tool. In this grand deception, there is a mutually beneficial outcome, in successfully mobilising a massive public opinion. Although, this is a temporary advantage immorally obtained, understanding how the crafty ideas behind the scheme emerged and work may be helpful in navigating the way forward. While this in itself is unclear, we can only dare to imagine. I therefore suggest that the scheme runs somewhat like this:

Same-sex community as a movement in its present intensity is new, and as with anything new, establishing credibility is its first task. As long as the older movement, heterogeneous marriage, exists as undiluted without a redefinition, protagonists feel that the same-sex movement will continue to be on a limp; a long, narrow road to freedom. Firstly, to ask for a same-sex Act in parity with the Marriage Act, although that is the sensible and right thing to do, puts the movement constantly on the back foot, always having to defend its ways in the face of traditional marriage. Why defend its position (to eventually have its own Act and freedom) when it can attack (the Marriage Act and actually share in it by its redefinition). In this way, it will not only gain the freedom, but also would have weakened and diluted traditional marriage forever. That’s the golden aim at stake. It’s not just about having its our own Act; that’s pretty easy. By the way, it already secured the Sex discrimination Act of 1984. Its real aim is to destroy its opponent, traditional marriage, by attacking its Act. Secondly and in view of the first point, it cannot use the need for its own Act as a winning strategy, given its minority position. It needs to get almost everybody on board and that only by blind-folding everybody. The drawing card is to use everybody’s common weakness in our modern world: human right and equal right for the minority and the weak. Although the movement is not into ‘marriage’ as such (infact, it repulses it, which is why it is its very opposite), nevertheless, it will use the term ‘marriage’ as though it likes it and ‘fakes it until it makes it’. So, it keeps the talking point going, it’s all about ‘marriage equality’ and nothing else. It keeps sounding it to a point where people cannot think anymore outside of the box or speak out to the contrary. If they do, it will be at the risk of being accused of discrimination, or of marginalising a minority group’s interest. It pushes people to the place where, all that people can think about and voice out (without examining the facts, which it deliberately submerges under the emotions of discrimination or marginalisation) is: “yes, if we on this side or those on that side have their right to marry, why not give ‘equal right’ (marriage equality) to same-sex unions?; hence, why not a Yes vote, and who can say No to egalitarianism publicly and be culturally acceptable?”. This narration portrays the figment of the imaginations that could have created such a deceptive scheme as ‘marriage equality’.

By the above-rehearsed ploy, the architects of ‘marriage equality’ got a sizable part of the media, politicians, and all those primarily concerned with cultural correctness, to get on the bandwagon. That seems to have worked out pretty well until now that facts leading to the truth must finally catch up with, and overtake, the deception and illegality of ‘marriage equality’.

“To Caesar What Belongs To Caesar And To God What Belongs To God”: Do we really have to amend or redefine Marriage, and by so doing, destroy the fundamental fabric of an ancient human law that marriage is between man and woman (a law used by both atheistic and religious societies throughout the ages)? The same-sex community already has a marriage equivalence called Commitment (vows/ceremonies).  Why should we amend or redefine Marriage, when we can simply establish a new Act for same-sex union? Do we really have to change a law embedded in the natural conscience of humanity (and thankfully enshrined in the Australian Marriage Act 2004), just because some people don’t want to have their own ‘Italian donkey’ (a same-sex Commitment Act)?. They want your own ‘Italian donkey’ (split into two to accommodate them). They would rather have half of your old donkey than ride on their own new donkey. Wait a minute; there appears to be a sinister motive there and an evil intention to just murder your donkey. I will vote No.

Do we have to rob Peter to pay Paul, or put a new wine into an old wineskin? How about just pay Paul without robbing Peter, and get a new wineskin for a new wine? Build a same-sex Commitment Act without tearing down the traditional Marriage Act. How ‘fair dinkum’ enough would that be, if we have a new Commitment Act 2017 without amending Marriage Acts 1961 & 2004, and hence resolve the impasse once and for all? Yes, how about give “to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God”?

A Different Name For A Different Act: Lest we forget; is the name or term ‘Marriage’ as is known between man and woman, still available on the shelve to be taken or shared by same-sex union? I suppose not. For, in the spirit and letter of existing laws (just as it is with any new registration of Business name), a simple name-search will reveal whether a name is already taken or can be used or shared. Obviously, the philosophy or fundamentals for these two institutions, same-sex and traditional marriage, are diametrically opposed to each other. They certainly cannot share the same name without future conflicts in law. The institution that has it registered first keeps the name. In 2004, ‘marriage’ was federally registered as the union of man and woman by an Act of Australian Parliament. Consequently, the proposed same-sex commitment Act may not, therefore, be legitimately termed a “Marriage Act”.

A New Same-Sex Commitment Act Is Called For: In conclusion, I strongly suggest that, the same-sex community is better off continuing with the choice of Commitment unions and Commitment Ceremonies. In this connection, Parliament is therefore to seek to establish a new Act, a same-sex Commitment Act. Likewise, heterogeneous communities are better off continuing with the choice for Civil or Religious Ceremonies (under the existing Marriage Act). Thus, no change, amendment, or redefinition of the Marriage Act is required, both now and hereafter on the grounds of a ‘marriage equality’.  

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Reference List:
McKeown, D. 2017. Chronology of Same-Sex Marriage Bills introduced into the Federal Parliament: A Quick Guide. Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Australia. http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/   Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary _Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/         SSMarriageBills. Accessed 20/8/2017.

Marriage Amendment Act 2004. Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. https://www.legislation.gov.au /Details

/C2004A01361. Accessed 21/8/2017.

Marriage Regulations 1963. SR 1963 No. 31. Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government.
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/F1996B02001. Accessed 21/8/2017.

Marriage Act 1961. Federal Register of Legislation. Australian Government. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013C00164. Accessed 21/8/2017.

Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 (implied repealed). ACT legislation register. ACT Government, Canberra, Australia. http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2013-39/. Accessed 21/8/2017.  

Venn-Brown, Anthony. Submission to the Australian Government’s Senate Inquiry into Marriage Equality.  http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=3ef14d26-5860-4b31-88f1-87808a720033. Accessed 21/8/2017.
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©2017 Paul E. Momoh. Email paul@faithrev.org.au. Published by FReN-Australia. Paul E. Momoh is an ordained Minister of Religion, a Commonwealth of Australia Registered Religious/Christian Marriage Celebrant and the Host-Speaker of Life & Truth, a Marriage Education programme that utilizes Parables & Proverbs, Preventive & Renewal Education. 
 
 
Hi Joe, Thanks for your interesting post at the department's forum. Your reference to Schillebeeckx on how Jesus ‘makes salvation present through his conduct’ has drawn me into your conversation.

Your argument reminds me of the scripture which speaks of “all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning” (Acts 1:1 NRSV). I reckon that this verse brings some more clarity to the meaning of Schillebeeckx (1979)’s argument. He states that, the ‘present’ and the ‘future’ though different are linked together, in so far as by his conduct, Jesus makes that (future) kingdom a present kingdom (p. 152).

Schillebeeckx (1979) also argues that, when Jesus speaks of a judgement, he speaks of it as the future, final, eschatological judgement which is a clear distinction to John the Baptist’s coming judgement. Jesus implies a message of the Kingdom of God (p. 148). 


That message of the kingdom is at the heart of what Freyne (1997) suggests of our contemporary world: “If Jesus is not always ‘good news’ for our modern secular society, he certainly seems to be newsworthy” (p. 37).
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References:
Freyne, S (1997). The quest for the historical Jesus: Some theological reflections. In Who do you say that I am. Jeanrond W. & Thobald C. (Eds).SCM Press, London.

Schillebeeckx, E. (1979). Jesus message of salvation on its way from God: Jesus an experiment in Christology. William Collins, London.


 
 
In Edward Schillebeeckx’s Christology, both Jesus and John the Baptist proclaimed a message of metanoia, a baptism of repentance, which was exclusively in the context of God’s future. Nevertheless, the content and orientation of the messages were by far different from one another. 

Schillebeeckx (1979) states that, while Jesus was seen as ‘eating with tax collectors and sinners’ (Mark 2:16 NRSV), John was seen as strictly an ascetic man which was in consonance with his message of a coming judgement (p. 139). Schillebeeckx further argues that, John the Baptist was in the wilderness and the people had to go out to meet him. Jesus did not stand apart. He goes about looking for the lost sheep of the house of Israel (p. 145).

In a nutshell, Schillebeeckx (1997) asserts that, In Jesus we find a message and conduct that expresses God’s universal love without reservation. However,  ‘John’s whole ministry failed to take account of God’s universal compassion’ (p. 145-146). Well, may be because John was just a fore-runner. Anyone with a further voice to add to this dialogue?
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Reference:
Schillebeeckx, E. (1979). Jesus message of salvation on its way from God: Jesus an experiment in Christology. William Collins, London.

 
 
John, your viewpoint and reference to Anselm’s theology caught my attention. For while religious education, as it is today, has achieved enormous credibility as an educational enterprise, the balancing act of keeping it rooted as a faith enterprise is of great interest to me.

In Buchannan’s (2012) work on classroom religious education (RE), RE sits alongside with other educational disciplines and curriculum frameworks. In Australia, it sits with State and Territory curriculum frameworks (p. 23). In this setting, it is obviously necessary, as Buchannan (2012) states, that RE should fulfil the same academic demands, and be pursued with the same academic rigour as in the other disciplines (p. 23). 
This trend towards parity is needful. 

Nevertheless, as Buchannan further argues, it has become over-emphasised to the detriment of RE remaining a faith enterprise. Buchannan supports this argument citing a recent research finding by the National Catholic Educational Commission (NCEC). This report found that the approach to RE was simply a reflection of what obtains with State & Territory Curriculum Framework (NCEC, 2008). 

The diminishing of RE as a faith enterprise, though worrisome as it may be, is a surmountable challenge. As O’Collins (2011) suggests, the task requires ‘’wide experience and innovative fidelity” (p. 339). 


What further innovations would anyone suggest for our classroom culture?
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References:
 Buchannan M. (2012). What Has Faith Got To Do With Classroom Religious Education?   Journal of Religious Education 60(1)

O’Collins G. (2011). Rethinking Fundamental Theology: Theological Styles And Methods, (pp. 339). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 
 
Thanks Sha, for your interesting post at the forum. I am keen on engaging further on your critical point: the quality of pedagogical practices for KLA’s like English and Mathematics being just as important in religious knowledge, RE.

 Buchannan (2012) argues that the trend towards scholastic parity, though needful, has become over-emphasised to the detriment of RE remaining a faith enterprise (p. 23).

Gearon (2013) argues in the same vein, stating that “The problem of modern religious education remains how to ground the subject when it is no longer grounded in the religious life, in the life of the holy” (p. 8). Gearon draws support from the works of Willaime on the extent of legal and sociological compliance-standards required of RE. 


However, Gearon goes even further to highlight another front in the raging war against RE. He states that other educational disciplines have had one form of negative reaction or the other on RE. 

In particular, Gearon (2013) argues that psychology, politics, phenomenology, aesthetics, the natural sciences, and the social sciences, have all had their disciplinary identities asserted not only in relation to, but often times as a reaction against those knowledge considered by religious education to be “sacred, revealed truth” (p. 9).

Friends, does RE need more scholastic parity or more grounding in religious life?
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References:
 Buchannan M. (2012). What Has Faith Got To Do With Classroom Religious Education?   Journal of Religious Education 60(1)

Gearon, Liam (2013). On Holy Ground - The Theory and Practice of Religious Education. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com


 

    Author

     Paul E. Momoh is an ordained Minister of Religion, a Common-wealth of Australia Registered Religious/ Christian Marriage Celebrant and the Host -Speaker of Life & Truth, a Marriage Education programme that utilizes Parables & Proverbs, Preventive & Renewal Education. His educational quali fications include, a Master of Theology, MTh (Religious Educ ation) from the University of New castle. He is a Member of the Ministers Fellowship Internat ional, MFI Australasia, the Association of Practical Theology, APT, USA, and a Fellow of the Australian/NZ Institute of Leaders & Managers, FILM. Wed ded to Elisheba, also an ordained Minister (with educational qualifications includ ing a Bachelor of Theology, BTh), Paul & Elisheba Momoh are now in their 27 years of marriage and serve together as co-min isters. They are blessed with two young adult sons & a daughter, and make their home on the Gold Coast, Queens land, Australia.  
    To Read More About His Call To Ministry & Ministry Management At Churches, Missions, And In Christian Education, Please Click On The Link Below To Be Taken To His Profile Page.  

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