Australian Adventists Respond to Marriage Law Postal Survey

The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, a national voluntary survey mailed out on September 12, 2017, asks Australian voters one question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” The survey was sent through the Australian postal service and respondents have until November 7, 2017 to vote.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I wonder why the survey asks the question the way it does instead of asking should the legal definition of marriage be changed. As it stands now the legal meaning of marriage is a man and woman. If the point is to broaden the meaning of marriage why not ask about the new definition?

Yesterday, as the postal ballots began arriving in the letterboxes of the Australian citizenry, our current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball, a somewhat muted voice in support of changing the definition of marriage, was celebrating the second anniversary of his coup against his predecessor, Tony Abbott, a strong voice pushing for retaining the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. His celebratory party was gate-crashed (as it were) by the previous conservative prime minister, John Howard, who slammed the present government for not releasing the text of the proposed legislation concerning same sex marriage. Some party it proved to be!

John Howard, presently Australia’s last great statesman, argues that SSM has been shown by solid sociological research to be less than ideal in terms of providing for the welfare of children. He also argues that the Australian people must be able to make an intelligent assessment about whether the safeguards to do with freedom of speech and religion are in place. A very intelligent and secular voice for the NO campaign.

Two days ago I listened to two well-spoken voices for the NO campaign at the National Press Club. The first was a Vice-President of Australia’s leading conservative party and a women. She was initially inclined to argue for a YES vote, but on reflection and research saw the flaws in any change to the definition of marriage. The second spokesman for the NO campaign, Lyle Shelton, is Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and an operative for the Coalition of Marriage. (Lyle and I once cooperated to keep brothels out of a provincial city, when the State government had decided that all cities above a certain size must allow them).

These two spokesmen were measured and affirming of all while pointing to the less than watertight protections that the Australian legal framework has in place to protect both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. (Australia is less well endowed with such protections than many other legal jurisdictions).

I really don’t see the point of the Alternative Statement of Adventist principles! Signatories do not bind themselves to vote YES in the current ballot. It is really very accommodating of most any view that allows people to live and let live. It has been signed by a small handful of SS attracted individuals, joined by their friends and supporters. Among these friends and supporters I note several trendy pastors, a handful of trendy Avondale academics (mostly retired) and several Sydney Adventist Hospital operatives (mostly retired). And at least one lawyer. There are two women’s ministries people and a number of practicing medicos. I notice at least one person who will not be eligible to vote. Can you spot her!

I imagined that the official statement by the Australian Union Conference was affirming to all and full of grace and truth. This official statement about marriage was released to the Adventist public in Australia many months ago, not in the heated atmosphere of this present ballot. It was moderate in tone and positive in its conclusion about the need to retain the present law concerning marriage.

The Australian government is to be God’s minister of righteousness to our society. It has a particular role to uphold the good order of society, including the right to escape from a libertine paradise of political correctness, the right to the freedoms of speech and religion. Instead, Australia is drifting to a new Dark Age where the absence of these rights is celebrated and discrimination against Bible believing Christians.


Trendy has rather a neutral meaning in this context! It means having opinions that follow the trends of the day. In this sense I guess we are all trendy - some more in line with Malcolm Turnbull, and others with Tony Abbott. I have real respect for many individuals on that list. The list includes a former dorm room- mate, a vague cousin as well as my own lovely daughter as Danielle has noted. I graduated with an MA (Religion) degree majoring in Systematic Theology and Ethics. Therefore, I am a little familiar with the way ethicists reason. Knowing a little of the ethical stance of several on that list I would suggest that a real spectrum of ethical thought about SSM exists within that list of signatories.

Danielle, thanks for your declared interest in my ethical discussions with my wise and balanced daughter. I have enjoyed my ethical discussions with my daughter over the last 20 years. Many times we agree! Other times we disagree. Occasionally both sides modify or nuance our thought. My father taught me never to be afraid of spirited discussion and debate had in the right spirit. I do declare that my discussions with my favourite emergency room / family physician have helped me toward having more grace and light in my soul on this topic. I think you will discover that my particular stance on SSM have helped anchor my favourite doctor’s convictions.

Yes, Danielle! Adventist church members have lots to learn concerning homosexuality. Many do not have personal experience with SS attracted people. And so they apply what they understand the biblical stance to be without much compassion. In the main, Adventist churches do not help because they do not educate.

While I accept the SS attracted people get lonely, this doesn’t equal a biblical reason why these people should bunk in together. Such reasoning is the weakest link in the reasoning of people who support the virtue of people with these attractions making bedroom arrangements together. Need does not equal virtue. And many people make this leap in logic without blinking an eyelid or without recognizing that they have made it.

I was attempting to reflect the Apostle Paul’s reasoning concerning the divine role of government in society by my statement that “the Australian government is to be God’s minister of righteousness to our society.” There is absolutely no harm in society enforcing the last 6 commandments in its legal framework. That’s what every civilized society has done for millennia. That’s why an accurate understanding of what the Bible says on ethical issues is vital.


Thanks for you reply! I appreciate your confidence in many of my comments on this blogsite. I write hopeful that my comments may enlighten! I enjoy bouquets, but can cope with the occasional brickbat. I always attempt to be thououghly reasonable with any comment I make. But grace and light has a way of cutting across many of our cherished opinions.

My comment concerning sociological research on the ideal environment for children was intended to be an approving of John Howard’s stance on this issue. (John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia for close on 10 years, and Australia’s last great statesman before a sucession of short-lived prim a donna’s fought for their momentary time of fame and glory).

Sociological research in this field certainly has a wax nose. It can point to whatever conclusion one may wish.

I have appreciated the contributions of our own scholars on the whole subject of Same Gendered Attraction - Roy Gane, Richard Davidson, Nick Miller and others. Then too, a close family member is one of Adventism’s leading human rights voices here, as well as my daughter whose medical expertise I respect. I also appreciate the contribution of others such as Ryan Anderson & Rosaria Butterfield as well as Al Mohler.

May we continue to extend grace and light to each other as we respond to each other. Those like you with more personal connection to people struggling in this way can remind the rest of us to shed grace and light as we seek to be faithful to biblical principle. My conscience will be enlightened primarily by Scripture, but also by reason, science and experience. Expect me to grow.


“…and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” While admittedly taking this slightly out of context, I think the point is still valid. Many seem concerned about the perceived or potential encroachments on their freedoms, while insisting on encroaching on the freedoms of others. If and when the shoe is on the other foot, can we expect to be treated any differently, if this is the behavior Christians model. Even if Christians can’t muster love for our ‘enemies’, surely they can be strategic enough to see the opportunity for negotiation to protect their own freedoms, and for a place in the public square through mutual respect.


All it is basically asking is, Can we recognize the Government Marriage of a Man and a Woman, AND also recognize the Government Marriage of two of the same sex – Man and Man, Woman and Woman. Give ALL the same Couples the Same Legal Recognition?
If the majority say "YES, the world is NOT going to come to an End. Any more than it has in American States where this is Approved and Legal.
Heterosexual Marriages are NOT in any Danger. They certainly have NOT been here in America.

As in America AND Europe, I am sure there ARE Seventh day Adventists who view themselves BOTH strongly practicing Seventh day Adventists AND either Gay or Lesbians, and probably have relationships.
A vote “YES” would be of ADVANTAGE to them. As well as practicing members of Other Religions.

NO RELIGIONS have been endangered of their rights, liberties by American recognition of Same Sex Marriages. I am sure that in Australia there will be NO endangerment of any Seventh day Adventist or any Christian, Jew, Muslim Hindu, Buddhist having their Rights, their Liberties affected by this.

LIBERTY – Not FORCING our Belief System on everyone in Australia!!!
We can keep SDA Member belief. Other Christians may retain THEIR beliefs.
BUT NOT Force SDA-ism or Some Christian Denominations Belief Systems on ALL Australians.
That is BEAST POWER [of Revelation] Thinking and Acting.

Carrol-- Yes, I agree with you. All the Same-Sex couples I know with both Adopted and Foster Children are doing very well. The children are all maturing well, seem to love the families they are with. One white Lesbian couple have a black little girl of 6 yrs that has been with them [adopted] for all 6 years. Is loved by both white grand parents.
I see these families every Sunday morning at church. Several of the boys are old enough to participate in the Sunday services.


“Trendy” are we, Peter? I trust this is a respectful observation. Trendy believers have consciences too. We study our Bibles thoughtfully. We pray for wisdom and guidance plus a capacity to show genuine love and respect for those who disagree with us. We know the half dozen Bible passages that supposedly address the gay issue and conclude that they do not address gay love at all. I don’t think you will find the word “trendy” being used to describe all the Adventist scholars who are questioning the traditional understanding of this topic.
It would be good to have an honest and open dialogue on LGBTI issues – more honest than the one we are having on WO. Given our inability to resolve that issue, it’s hard to see us moving forward arm in arm with our LGBTI brothers and sisters any time soon. May Jesus open our hearts and our minds sooner rather than later!


I’d love to be at the dinner table with you and your trendy doctor daughter who signed this, Peter, exploring the ideas surrounding this question!

This statement is more than just about people who may vote YES in the postal survey. It is a call to the church and it’s members to act and speak with decency. A friend has already had Adventist people rudely telling her she cannot claim to be Adventist or Christian because she plans to vote yes. Someone close to her receiving the same messages is distancing themselves from Adventism as a result of the cruel attitudes.

Adventism has been strong on separation of church and state yet in this issue there is much rhetoric from christians including many adventists insisting on theological grounds for maintaining the status quo. (Peter’s statement that “The Australian government is to be God’s minister of righteousness to our society” is treading on shaky ground.) Adventism has traditionally been for people listening to their consciences yet we are being told what our consciences should say according to the organisation. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some kind of repurcussions of varying sorts to those who wrote this and some of those who have signed their names to it.

I have heard Christians get upset about a story of someone in the workplace promoting the NO vote and being asked to abstain from that. They were claiming it is not ok for that to take place. Yet in church work my experience is that it was never ok to be speak up for issues around LGBT+. With many issues silence was expected, no rocking the boat or challenging the dominant church system attitudes. It’s interesting that the churches are happy to have been discriminatory, silencing and punitive around divergence, but when that happens to someone in their camp they cry foul and get upset.

Christians get upset about how they are feeling hard done by these days and how it is unfair. Yet a lot of the attitudes against christians and christianity are a result of not very nice things said and done when they were the dominant force and ideology in society. It’s not arising in a vacuum. I come across so many in my life and work who have experienced damage and wounding from toxic christianity. In my own studies at the moment two of my class are beautiful people and former Adventists who carry wounding and want nothing to do with religion. Our church and Christianity as a whole need to own up to the seeds of dissent we have sown collectively. Yes, there is great good that is done, but also Yes, there are valid reasons for people to be cynical and oppositional. Religion is reaping what it has sown. It is deeply sad and disturbing that Christians are more known for their condemnation than their love, their standing up for themselves than for others. Christians will be known in this issue as ones who have been discriminatory en masse (although not everyone) for a long time and who will fight for their right to continue to discriminate - but who will fight against anyone who doesn’t want society to align with their ways.

I still struggle to understand how people can say the Bible is against deeply loving relationships between people of the same gender when every one of their clobber texts is not talking about loving committed relationships at all. I am kind of amused how many adventists and christians are so focussed on the sex aspect of the relationships when a loving partnership is so much more than that. It shows their underlying mindset, mentality and obsession.

Marriage between people of the same gender in loving relationships will come to Australia. If not this time, then later. Sadly, the church once again will miss their opportunity. Lesbian and gay people are going to be having loving relationships of equality but we will have nothing to say to them or encourage them other than tell them they are wrong and alienate them. We could promote and be part of deeper love and healthier relationships but we will lose the chance. Then of course condemn them for not following our path.

Many denominations in Australia officially are against allowing marriages between same sex couples. Yet a majority of church members in a number are for it. In the surveys almost 2/3rds of Catholics are on the opposite side to their leaders and official statements. Church authorities and leaders are losing their people on this and other things that matter in our society.


Fabulous news! Hearty congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the 50 who stood up for equality. Sdafightclub admin team are tickled pink about this news.


I fear for the future of the church in Australia when these are the people leading and teaching our young people. One of these signatories is no longer an Adventist and pastors a Sunday church because he came out as gay and left his wife. At least one is also not with Adventism when it comes to creation/evolution and now with homosexuality as well.

Bring on the shaking.


As a ?fellow doctor dealing with real hurting people as part of my work l too am disappointed with the vindictive attitude we as Christians project to the community. As Kinnaman and Lyons, from the Barna group has written in their book Unchristian the unchurched characterized Christians as hypocritical, too focussed on getting converts, anti homosexual, sheltered, too political and judgemental.

The discourse around the Australian survey is once again showing what Christians and Adventists are agin not what they are positively for. I would happily concur with the sentiment from the alternative view which is resoundingly positive and Christian as I understand it as a Gospel of Grace.
There is nothing sadder than seeing a gay man dying alone alienated from family childless and partnerless. A man listing his lawyer as his next of kin or seeing his doctor as the longest stable relationship in his life. I have to ask myself how much have we Christian with our selective espousal of certain ideals, condemnation and judgements contributed to this situation?

Leopold in providing a veiled augmentim ad hominem critique of those signing the alternative view you say

Not exactly sure what are “purple” people but I am very glad that there are Adventist Christians who understand the gospel of Grace and redemption and can articulate a logical and consistent position and who are prepared to lead and teach. Uneducated confirmation of unexamined prejudice is not helpful in understanding the relationship between Christianity and the world in this or any other interaction with the world in which we live. We as Christians are no longer in the times of Constantine’s but are members of diaspora. We are the salt that must change society by the way we can reconciles individuals with the principles of the Kingdom. Jesus did not do this by condemnation and hate but by Grace and Mercy. Up to now the Christian advocacy for No has conspicuously lacked these.

Critique of understanding of scientific theories of creation is a non-sequitor to the core argument made about the duplicity or our imposition on others of our particular views by political machinations while proclaiming an essential need for our own religious liberty. We all as Adventists support a doctrine of creation but as you have conceded in your correspondence with me on your scientific theory of creation you do not have a testable theory of creation. I would think this disqualifies you from offering a valid critique of anyone else’s cogent theory of creation.


I am frankly surprised that the Seventh-day Adventist Church would seek state support to enforce its religious views on a matter of civil law. While marriage has, for some, religious implications, civil marriage is sought even by people who hold no religious views. To be clear, this is civil law regarding the privileges and responsibilities surrounding marriage. As Adventist leaders in Canada and the United States can confirm, what is taught from the pulpit is unchanged. No church can be forced to perform same-sex marriages any more than they can be forced to marry divorcees or members to non-members. Religious teaching is unchanged. Because marriage ideally provides stability, it can be an ideal environment for raising a family. Those who cannot, or who choose not to have children, are still married.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is entering questionable territory when it seeks the support of the state to enforce its theological views in opposition to other religious views or to those who hold no religious views.

Haven’t Australian Adventists read Great Controversy??

In a matter of civil law, let each vote according to his conscience and consider equal the person who votes differently.


has always been Adventism’s mantra/maxim/motto.

We have always feared that "apostate " religions would impose " SUNDAY LAWS " on sabbath keeping Adventists.

Now that Sunday in most parts of the secular world has become just another shopping and sports day, this absence of looming Sunday legislation, seems to have lulled the Australian SDA church into a cocoon of complacency.

Otherwise they would not be advocating to IMPOSE their Adventist beliefs about marriage, by LEGAL FIAT on other Australians— Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus Jews and others.
Just as " apostates " will one day impose their religious views on Adventists (if EGW is to be believed! )

Australian LGBT citizens pay equal taxes on their incomes just as do their heterosexual counterparts.

So they should have every right to enter into a LEGAL CIVIL UNION with the person they love.

Permitting same sex legal unions is a CIVIL act and requires ZERO religious component.

Did not God say: " It is not good that man lives alone" ?

In fact couples, both gay and straight, in loving relationships, have greater longevity and are more healthy, than singles living in lonely isolation.

The prestigious long term FRAMINGHAM HEART STUDY found a FORTY SIX PER CENT lower death rate in married men as opposed to never married men

Why would we deliberately deny this distinct health advantage to our gay offspring ??

Adventism once decried the promiscuity of gays which led to the AIDS epidemic. They should be ecstatic when gays choose to be in a loving monogamous relationship.

The church’s statement "marriage is an ideal place to create and raise children " is simply LUDICROUS.

Is the Australian SDA church going to deny marriage to widows and widowers who are past childbearing age??

Will infertile couples have to declare their marriages null and void??

Please be advised that I have NUMEROUS gay and lesbian friends who are successfully and splendidly raising children .-- either their own biological kids
from in vitro fertilization, or adopted ones.


They have abandoned every principle of RELIGIOUS LIBERTY in trying to impose their religious taboos on people of other faiths, or people of no faith.

They will have no " leg to stand on " when apostate Protestants imposes Sunday laws on them, as our prophet EGW predicts!

Please be advised that the KJV lists ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN “abominations.” You are probably guilty of some of them!

Heterosexual couples performing oral sex are guilty of an "abomination. !

"Pulling out " a form of birth control, before condoms and IUDs were invented was an " abomination " So all couples practicing birth control today, are technically guilty – shame on them!

ALL sin is an ABOMINATION and ALL sin is punishable by death.

Mosaic law lists mutiple bizarre proscriptions/prohibitions/penalties most of which we ignore today, like wearing clothes composed of two different fabrics, or farmers being prohibited from planting two different seeds in the same field.

Let’s get real here!

You state : in order for the man not to be alone, God made a woman for him!

Yes, that woman is YOUR beloved daughter, YOUR favorite granddaughter, YOUR
splendid niece, YOUR super sister!

When you allow your favorite female relatives to marry a gay guy,
I will then believe your female relatives were created especially to make gay guys happy!

But somehow I intuitively know you would be the last to permit such a marriage.
What hypocracy!!


Maybe He will shake some compassion into those of us who aren’t as right about the message and/or nature of the Bible as we think.


I believe the Bible is God’s word and guide for humanity. God has clearly defined marriage in Genesis by creating a male and a female and pronouncing them husband and wife when he states in Genesis 2: 21-25: 21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Marriage is the first of two sacred institutions God created directly. Satan in order to counter what God has created, is attacking the institution of marriage the same way he has over the years attacked the Sabbath.

People must know that God will not stop them from choosing not to follow him, but God will not change who he is and what he has created. Those who choose to marry the same sex, will ultimately reap the reward of their choice. The same way in which many of us choose to disobey God when we fail to honor his Holy Sabbath, or any of his Ten Commandments or his statutes or Testimonies as recorded in the Bible, those who choose same sex marriage, will face the judgment seat of God…

For those contemplating supporting same-sex marriage, kindly take a second look at what God says in Leviticus Chapter 20 from verse 7 onwards. those words are very precious. I can only implore you to prayerfully study them and ask God’s Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Please note Verse 13:" If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
Please my brothers and sisters, let us obey God and live lives that he will faithfully reward when he comes to change this world. Love you all.


I am hopeful that Australian citizens will prove itself to be more on the side of religious freedom that the Australian Adventist Church appears to me. Have we forgotten that God does not force us to follow his plan for our lives, but gives us freedom of choice?

I was a bit surprised by Peter Marks opinion, as I have always considered him to be of a more reasonable sort. This statement,

is not supported by all the reliable research I have read, nor by my observations of same-sex couples with children whom I know.


Some of the most excluding and unloving people I know are christians! It makes me cringe!


i think there’s little question that australia will approve same-sex marriages…ultimately, homosexuality is a religious issue, and we cannot look to secular societies to safeguard religious beliefs…but i think australia’s adventists are right to register a protest…

From the point of freedom of choice and civil rights only, I support same sex marriage. However, it might be best to get “marriage” as the same for man and woman marriage and have another term for same sex marriage–partners, civil unions, etc. However, they should have the same rights as “marriage”

We must remember that the constitution is a secular document and is NOT really a moral document. Is to allow people to do what they want to do as long as rights are not violated or someone is killed. This can even include the worship of Satan.

As Adventists we strongly believe that Saturday is the true Sabbath. But we will vote against any law allowing worship only on one day, even if it is Saturday.

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I am not that much sure about this…


I am new to the Adventist Church, & I will be voting yes, & telling my pastor. I hope that my congregation will respect my decision. Well done to the 50 who stood out against the official position. I would love to join that group.