Several opinions are held or have been voiced by various religious groups in regards to same-sex marriage. Arguments both supporting and opposing same-sex marriage are often made on religious grounds and or are expressed in terms of religious policies. Although the majority of the significant world religions disagree with same-sex marriage, there is continuous debate about the legalisation of same-sex marriage within Christianity. This essay aims to highlight the views held by the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church and the Latter-Day Saints in regard to the idea of same-sex marriage.
Roman Catholic is an expression used to differentiate members of the Catholic Church that fully associate themselves with the Pope in Rome from other people who also self-identify as Catholic.[footnoteRef:1] From a religious perspective, the Catholic Church avoids acknowledging same-sex marriage. According to Catholic moral principle, acts of sexual intimacy are only appropriate between a man and a woman who have been joined in matrimony. The secular government’s acknowledgement of any other union within the definition of ‘marriage’ would, therefore, reflect an agreement of any act between a husband and wife and acts between two men or two women; thus, contradicting the Catholic teachings.[footnoteRef:3] However, Jo, a Roman Catholic from the documentary Christians Like Us, holds a different view to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Jo approves of the idea of same-sex marriage and believes that the church should avoid discrimination on the basis of sexuality and instead be more accepting of homosexuality as a whole.
Pope John Paul II, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, criticised and disapproved of the idea of same-sex marriage when it was familiarised in the Netherlands in 2001. His successor Pope Benedict XVI also upheld the disapproval to the newly formed idea, seeing it amid ‘the most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good today’.
The Anglican Church refers to the Church of England and its associated divisions all over the world. Anglicanism is a Western Christian institution which has developed from the practices, and characteristics of the Church of England after the English Reformation.[footnoteRef:6] Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, the Anglican Church has heightened its discrimination against homosexual people. Not content with only the discrimination that has been constructed into the legislation, where the ministers of the Church can refuse to conduct a ceremony of Holy Matrimony for same-sex couples; traditionalists in the Anglican Church are also ensuring that the church is a complete no-go zone for homosexual couples. However, Tiffany, from the documentary Christians Like Us, who is a priest in the Anglican church, has a different opinion about same-sex marriage. Tiffany promotes the idea of same-sex marriage and also conducts discussion in her church based on the topic.[footnoteRef:8] This contradicts the fact that Anglican clergy are not free to marry same-sex couples. The state warrants ministers to perform marriages only according to their church’s authorised marriage rites, and therefore cannot do so if their Church does not authorise the marriage. Conservatives have been quick to highlight that the Anglican Church’s wedding services are explicitly for male-female marriages, and therefore cannot legally be used for same-sex weddings. The Sydney Anglican diocese created a policy that bans same-sex weddings from any Anglican Church or building and forbids its properties from being utilised to encourage homosexuality or ‘transgender ideology’. However, people in the church say the extensive policy could prevent pastors and teachers from preaching in approval of marriage equality, and restrict student-led LGBTI support groups at Anglican Schools.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, often casually known as the LDS Church or Moromon Church, is a non-trinitarian, Christian restorationist Church that is thought of by its members to be the reestablishment of the earliest Church instituted by Jesus Christ.[footnoteRef:12] The LDS Church obeys strict rules of sexual conduct, including commandments against pre-marital sex. The Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and behaviour. Same-sex marriages are not approved of in the LDS Church, and sexual activity bases for being declined entry to the temple, ordination and other features of church involvement. The Church has a history of protest against marriage equality since the 1990s, and the issue has become a significant political concern for the Church. Hannah, a conservative and outspoken member of the LDS Church, form Christians Like Us also shares the same beliefs as her Church and disapproves of same-sex marriage notion and believes that the sanctity of marriage must be valued. In November 2015, the LDS Church took official steps to describe marriage equality as a type of apostasy in its Handbook of Instructions, a guidebook for Mormon leaders.
The dogma not only labels Mormons in same-sex couples as renouncers of the faith, but also sets up disciplinary actions that Mormon leaders can take against same-sex couples, including exclusion.[footnoteRef:15] The new policy also aimed at the children of same-sex couples and bans them from being baptised and from joining the LDS Church unless they turn away from their parents by the age of 18.[footnoteRef:16] This policy generally referred to as the ‘November Policy,’ symbolises the first time a Christian church has put in place a baptismal ban on children of homosexual couples.
To conclude, although these three Christian groups have a different set of beliefs and are not similar to each other, it can be seen that they all value the sanctity of holy matrimony and believe that same-sex marriage should not be carried out. However, all three churches choose to manage the situation in different ways; some taking a more extreme approach than others. It can also be seen that even though the churches hold certain believes about the topic of same-sex marriage, many people within the Church oppose the teaching and try to promote the right of equality. Nevertheless, it is up to society to follow the example of Pope Francis who said, “Who am I to judge?” and learn to treat everyone equally with respect and avoid falling into the vicious cycle of judgement.
- Casanova, A. (2018). Mormons – 10 Things to Know about the Church of Latter Day Saints. [online] Christianity.com. Available at: https://www.christianity.com/church/denominations/are-mormons-christians-10-things-to-know-about-the-church-of-latter-day-saints.html [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Crux. (2019). Pope Francis says homosexual tendencies are “not a sin.” [online] Available at: https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/04/01/pope-francis-says-homosexual-tendencies-are-not-a-sin/ [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Gingerich, B. (2018). What Do I Need to Know about the Anglican Church? [online] Christianity.com. Available at: https://www.christianity.com/church/denominations/the-anglican-church.html [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Gingerich, B. (2018). What Is Catholicism? – History, Tradition & Beliefs. [online] Christianity.com. Available at: https://www.christianity.com/church/denominations/what-is-catholicism.html [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- How the Anglican Church hardened its stance against same-sex marriage. (2018). ABC News. [online] 18 Jun. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-19/anglican-church-same-sex-marriage-gar-lesbian-lgtbqi/9884838 [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019]
- Human Rights Campaign (2011). LGBTQ Issues & the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | Human Rights Campaign. [online] Human Rights Campaign. Available at: https://www.hrc.org/resources/stances-of-faiths-on-lgbt-issues-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saint [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Karp, P. (2018). Anglican church told to apologise for marriage vote conduct rather than “legalise bullying.” [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/01/anglican-church-told-to-apologise-for-marriage-vote-conduct-rather-than-legalise-bullying [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Koziol, M. (2018). Sydney Anglicans set to ban gay weddings and pro-LGBTI advocacy on church property. [online] The Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/sydney-anglicans-set-to-ban-gay-weddings-and-pro-lgbti-advocacy-on-church-property-20181018-p50aga.html [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- Petrey, T. (2019). The Mormon Church still doesn’t accept same-sex couples – even if it no longer bars their children. [online] The Conversation. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-mormon-church-still-doesnt-accept-same-sex-couples-even-if-it-no-longer-bars-their-children-115024 [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019].
- SBS 2019, Christians like Us, ep. 1, SBS On Demand, (2018) viewed 22 October 2019, .
- Vatican.va. (2019). Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons. [online] Available at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html [Accessed 4 Oct. 2019]