Presbyterians ‘will cut state ties’ over gay marriage

Presbyterians ‘will cut state ties’ over gay marriage, by Greg Sheridan.

The Presbyterian Church will halt all co-operation with the state on the matter of marriage if same-sex marriage is legalised.

It will refuse to conduct any state marriages and some of its pastors will encourage Presby­terians to live outside the legal institution of marriage. They would live in de facto relationships as far as civil law is concerned.

In one of the most radical ­actions taken by a mainstream Christian denomination in Australia, the Presbyterians will divorce themselves from the state, and institute ecclesiastical marriages instead, if its General ­Assembly accepts the recommendations of a church committee charged with reviewing the issue.

Exactly, show a bit of independence. Don’t let the state co-opt and enforce the meaning of “marriage”; let people do what they want.

He has already had talks with the Attorney-General’s Department about the formalities of handing back the church’s official marriage licence. If the General Assembly takes that decision, it will apply to all Presbyterian ministers in Australia.

Under Mr Middleton’s proposal, the church would establish its own independent register of ecclesiastical marriages, which would have nothing to do with the state.

The ecclesiastical marriages would have no legal standing but be recognised by the church itself. It would be up to individual couples whether to also to go through a registry process to have their marriage recognised by civil law.

“The church and state have traditionally shared a common understanding of marriage so it’s been sensible to have co-operation ­between.”

If same-sex marriage is legalised, there will no longer be a common understanding and so co-operation no longer makes sense, he believes.

If you let the state regulate you or give you money, they will tell you what to do — they own you. So … do your own thing.

“Those who seek to redefine marriage will seek to redefine freedom of speech and freedom of religion, as surely as night follows day,” he said.