YOUR LETTERS News Weekly
, August 1, 2015
Logic of marriage
Tim Wilson wishes to set the debate about changing the definition of marriage to discrimination and religion (News Weekly, July 18, 2015).
But Tim, who is an Australian Human Rights Commissioner, ignores that the primary objections to changing the definition of marriage are not based on religious grounds. This is not a conflict between religion and discrimination. It is a non-religious conflict and a non-discrimination conflict.
It is accepted that two men or two women may feel that they are being discriminated against if they cannot be married. And that it is not to the point, they say, that marriage would give them no more legal rights nor do anything for them having their own children. But they want the statutory definition of marriage changed to include two men or two women. But the change cannot be justified on the grounds of discrimination, no matter how genuinely felt, if no discrimination exists.
Marriage is traditionally regarded as between a male and a female and it cannot be suggested that such a description is discriminatory. That tradition is picked up in the Marriage Act. It is said that the Marriage Act is discriminatory in today’s modern world because it does not provide for a “marriage” between two males or two females. The circulatory of the argument is apparent. It is really a desire for a change to the definition of marriage, rather than removing any discrimination.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with proposing a change providing that the grounds for change overwhelm the grounds to retain the status quo.
But the grounds for the change of the Marriage Act are largely the desire of same-sex couples to be married like a man and woman. No substantial evidence is produced on the effects of the change on children or society or the status of marriage.
The grounds against the change to the Marriage Act are substantial and overwhelming. The grounds are not based on religion but on the best interests of our modern society.
It is essential to any society that marriage be preserved and strengthened. The family unit is the organisation that has shown for thousands of years that it is the only unit capable of doing this. It has shown itself as the most suitable unit for looking after married couples, particularly vulnerable women. It has shown itself as the most suitable unit for looking after children. It is not that the family unit is perfect. It is far from that. But it is still the best unit for the purpose.
Society, children and particularly women have a vested interest in promoting marriage as between a man and woman. It is in their best interests to oppose anything that may weaken it.
The beginning of a family unit is the public declaration of the coming together of a man and a woman with the hope of raising their own children. What we now call a marriage. It is not about sexual preference.
Spotlight on Laudato Si
We should all, as you have done (News Weekly, July 4, 2015); pay close attention to the Pope’s latest encyclical. However, some key points require further explanation.
1. As a long-time student of St Francis I can say that while he appreciated nature’s flora and fauna, he would have been horrified by today’s wasteful expenditure on pets that in some cases replace children and that contributes to unjustified consumption while millions starve. “More sober life styles” (para 193) should be encouraged.
2. The tragic number of people fleeing from poverty calls for a UN intervention on the scale of the Marshall Plan introduced after World War II, of which my family was a beneficiary. The Pope is addressing the UN later this year and this could be a key element in his speech.
3. The stress on the negative aspects of the media which generates “melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations”, (para 47) and which leads to sexual exploitation of children is worth noting.
4. The minimal reference to the Second Coming makes the environmental crisis appear much more secular in nature – is this world all we have and therefore should we reduce our population to 1 billion or not discourage abortion? “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain” (para 161).
5. All families should embrace one small but important suggestion – grace before meals and Sunday worship. Some mention of gluttony leading to obesity in the developed world would have helped in the fight against waste.
John R Barich,
Danger of subjectivity
Does the nebulous notion of “freedom of conscience” protect the unborn or the uncouth? I admire midwives Mary Doogan and Connie Wood for their stand for the right not to participate in abortions (News Weekly, June 20, 2015, “Conscience may be free, but its exercise...”).
However, Terri Kelleher’s whole article seems to be based on a supposed right to a “freedom of conscience”, enshrined in human rights legislation. This freedom, applied to a genuinely doubtful issue, may be a good and charitable response, but if applied to the choice between killing and caring, it makes the issue subjective and ultimately aids the killers not the carers.
In reality, the midwives are right to stand against abortion because it is “wrong”, regardless of anybody’s conscience. Sadly, these great ladies face an uphill battle, even against the legal concept that purports to protect them.