Our nation is being asked to vote on whether or not it wishes to change the definition of marriage. I need to emphasise at the outset that I have been an Orthodox rabbi for 35 years. On my watch, no person has been turned away or made to feel uncomfortable because of their sexual preference. What someone does in the privacy of one’s own home is between them and God.
Indeed, it is a fundamental principle of my faith, and the Judeo-Christian ethic, that all human beings are created equal in the image of God and therefore, have unalienable rights. It is precisely this belief that not only allows me but empowers me, to respect and accept every single human being regardless of colour, race, creed or sexual orientation.
It is important to remember what happens when God and His teachings are removed from the equation. In the former Soviet Union, the state became an omnipotent ruler, truly God-like and its pursuit of “equality” blended into the excuse to impose a ruthless totalitarian regime. In Nazi Germany, pseudo-science replaced God and rather than all beings created equal, Hitler reduced humanity to classes and subclasses, the lowest of which were homosexuals and Jews – whose lives (according to his twisted rationale) were less than worthless.
Belief in a creator is the root of all human rights and democracy in Western society. Because of this, I would always fight for LGBTQI rights. However, it is precisely this profound belief that makes me vote “no” for same-sex marriage.
It is a fundamental principle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, that the (same) one God revealed His will to mankind. No matter how unpopular it is to state this position, no amount of “clerical gymnastics” can change the fact that biblically there is only one form of marriage. And that is between a man and a woman. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either fooling themselves or fooling you.
In the biblical Garden of Eden, God created a man and a woman and their union was blessed. From this, would come all of humankind. So too, only a union that mirrors that potential for procreation is blessed with the title, “holy matrimony”. The same God that teaches me to respect everyone, teaches me that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
A “no” vote is not a vote against love. It is not a vote for discrimination. It is not a vote against the LGBTQI community. It is not a vote based on misguided homophobia. It is simply a vote of conscience that marriage should remain as people of faith believe God intended it. Only in the relatively very recent past, did marriage move from canon law to civil law. The Marriage Act is the only act that can be executed by the clergy. And it indeed reflects the holy covenant of marriage. The government can find other ways (such as civil union) to protect the rights of the LGBTQI community.
The phraseology of the slogan, “marriage equality” is cleverly used. After all, who is not for equality? However, marriage has always been in our society as Holy matrimony between a man and a woman. Today some in society seek to change that definition. It is not an issue of equality but of definition. If marriage were a purely secular instrument, or if there was a provision for a secular civil union protecting gay rights, I would have no quarrel. However, our society is not purely secular. The freedom of expression and rights and democracy enjoyed by all Australians have their roots, not in secular humanistic ideology, but in a profound belief in a creator who shaped us all in the biblical teachings of Judaism and Christianity.
At the commencement of every day of each parliamentary sitting, the following profound prayer is recited, “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Will this too have to go for the sake of “equality”?
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick is a senior Dayan of the Sydney Beth Din and Rabbinic Administrator of The Kashrut Authority.