Conscience demands we debate moral issues unimpeded

Φυγη στην Αιγυπτον

Roman emperor Nero was, until recently, history’s one undisputed example of homosexual marriage. In AD64, according to historian Tacitus, “The emperor, in the presence of witnesses, put on the bridal veil. Dowry, marriage bed, wedding torches, all were there. Indeed everything was public which even in a natural union is veiled by night.” He adds, “Disaster followed” — the great fire of Rome. The fire, in turn, led Nero to execute Christians as scapegoats, including Peter, first bishop of Rome.

As Nero’s model of marriage makes its comeback, the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, is the latest Christian leader to be thrown to the lions.

I have fellow feeling with the archbishop, who is facing the Anti-Discrimination Commission in Tasmania, since I have faced the equivalent inquisition in Queensland, and for the same innocent reason: writing in defence of natural marriage and the child’s right, where possible, to have both a mother and father.

The Catholic bishops in May published a booklet entitled Don’t Mess with Marriage. It argues the traditional case for marriage.

That was unacceptable to Australian Marriage Equality head Rodney Croome, who issued a media release: “I urge everyone who finds (the booklet) offensive and inappropriate, including teachers, parents and students, to complain to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.”

A transgender Tasmanian Greens candidate rallied to his call, and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Robin Banks, says the Church has a case to answer.

When I met the archbishop in Hobart I said, “Your Grace, remember that you are not the problem. The existence of laws that suppress free argument on matters of public importance — that is the problem.”

I told Croome on Hobart ABC radio: “You don’t set government lawyers on to people that you disagree with, Rodney. You don’t take the archbishop to the thought police because you don’t like his tone in his book. That is not how men in a free society settle disputes.” But increasingly it is as the homosexual juggernaut crushes foundational liberties of speech and conscience in the name of counterfeit equality.

The week the bishops’ booklet was published, Ireland voted for homosexual marriage while promising to protect religious freedom. That truce lasted six months. Under the Employment Equality Act, a church school can no longer dismiss activists who defy church teaching on marriage, effectively negating the school’s religious character.

As former prime minister John Howard told students at my son’s college in 2011, “Changing the definition of marriage, which has lasted for time immemorial, is not an exercise in human rights and equality; it is an exercise in de-authorising the Judeo-Christian influence in our society, and any who pretend otherwise are deluding themselves.”

Chris Puplick, former president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, declared in these pages that the Catholic Church “must stop vilifying opponents”. Among several inflammatory assertions about church teaching, Puplick claims “homosexual people are described as ‘intrinsically disordered’.” That is not so and the booklet does not say that. The official teaching in the Catholic Catechism reads: “Basing itself on sacred scripture … tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.

Only the acts are considered disordered, while homosexual people are “created in the image of God and loved by Him” and “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity”.

What is intolerable, I think, to Puplick and Croome is that anyone would dare raise moral concerns. The campaign for homosexual marriage is only a means to the greater end of compelling social acquiescence in homosexual behaviour. This is achieved by silencing dissenters. Only when homosexual marriage is law will the power to intimidate objectors and indoctrinate schoolchildren be complete.

At that point, Nero wins. The moral truth of marriage and family will be banished to the catacombs. The innocence of Christmas, this celebration of the sacred love between mother and baby and devoted dad, will be buried with it. Do we care?

“The darkness falls again,” Yeats said in his poem, Second Coming, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

David van Gend is a GP and president of the Australian Marriage Forum.

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