Monday, 29 August 2011

Dr Kerryn Phelps speaks now...


Dr Kerryn Phelps, contributor to Speak Now, appeared in a brief debate on marriage equality on the Australian Seven Network's Sunrise morning program, Aug. 30th.

The discussion -- with Australian Christian Lobby spokesperson Jim Wallace promoting one Christian model -- probed the reasons for religious opposition to marriage equality.

Wallace relied heavily on the trope of the 'natural', reminiscent of Pope Benedict XVI's famous diatribe two days before Christmas, 2008, when he tied his campaign against homosexuality to environmentalist causes, calling for a 'human ecology' to protect the species from self-destruction.

The Pope averred that 'saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction' (Reuters 23 Dec 2008). Pointedly ignoring the pervasive deleterious effects on the environment that stem directly from Church teaching, he recommended that humanity needed to 'listen to the language of creation' to understand the intended roles of man and woman.

If the Pope were really drawing his teaching from observing the 'natural world', he would have noticed, along with zoologists, that so-called 'homosexual' acts have been observed among literally hundreds of species.  Such acts are recognised increasingly as normal variations of sexual behaviour.

Check out the book by Bruce Bagemihl, PhD, [Stonewall Inn Edn. 2000] which makes very clear how prevalent homosexual behaviour is a part of natural diversity.  Wallace and the Pope are both deploying a construction that manipulates the trope of the natural world in the service of the ideologies of their respective religions.

Phelps asserted that there are, in fact, religions that support marriage equality, in response to which Wallace invoked a document he had presented to Parliament, which he said had been endorsed by over 50 churchmen from the 'Evangelical, Pentecostal, Catholic and Orthodox divide', averring that 'You can't get broader than that'. Apparently he was unaware that  his 'broad' cohort included only Christian groups and that they were all churchMEN !

Phelps pointed out that in fact many church men have come out in support of the cause and, going beyond the narrowly Christian framing, cited the statement by a Council of Progressive Rabbis who issued this statement earlier 2011:

"We, the members of the Moetzah, the Rabbinic Council of Progressive Rabbis of Australia, Asia and New Zealand, support marriage equality under Australian law.

"Judaism teaches that all human beings are created betzelem Elohim (Genesis 1:27), in the image of God, and are therefore entitled to full dignity and equality. The Jewish people are all too familiar with discrimination and worse, and we reject it however rationalised.

"Australian law should guarantee equality; marriage being both a religious and a civil status. There is no reason for Australian law to limit or discriminate against the civil or legal rights of any individual or group.

"Therefore, we, the Moetzah, call upon the Australian Government to enact speedily legislation granting full marriage equality."

Revd. Nathan Nettleton, a Baptist pastor in Melbourne, has contributed an essay to Speak Now that argues strongly for same-sex marriage as supportive  of the 'institution of marriage'.  See his piece, titled: 'Supporting Same-Sex marriage as a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Baptist pastor.' 

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