IF SAME-SEX marriage is legislated in Australia, the Australian Primate, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, has suggested that Australia should move to separate the parts played by Church and State in marriage.
A cross-party Private Members’ Bill on same-sex marriage — the latest in a number of similar Bills — will be tabled in the Federal Parliament in August. Because it does not come from the government, however, it may well not proceed to a vote.
Writing in the Melbourne newspaper The Age, Dr Freier said that "it might be time to make sanctioning legal marriage a matter purely for the State." As happened on the Continent, church weddings or "ceremonies in the backyard or on surfboards at sea" would follow civil registration.
With the Church’s influence no longer dominant as society’s "conscience and moral guardian", Christian advocates had to accept that they "are one voice among many".
"It is no longer reasonable for us to expect that the State’s approach will be as prescriptive and demanding as the Christian understanding; but nor is it reasonable for the State to expect Christians to give up their . . . long-standing view," he said.