As the pastoral team of the St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church, we hold strongly the conviction of our church as â€œa community of people drawn together by the love and grace of God exemplified for us in the life of Jesus. We welcome everyone. This includes people of all cultures, races, religions, mental and physical capabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity. We are committed to peace with justice, and the integrity of all creationâ€.
For some years our society has been trying to find a way to answer the question as to whether the Marriage Act should be changed to extend the social recognition of marriage to include same-sex relationships. Because we recognise the diversity of thought and opinion held by the congregation of St Kilda/Elsternwick Baptist Church and the Baptist conviction of â€œfreedom of conscienceâ€ for all people, we canâ€™t presume to speak for our whole church community.
However, exercising our own freedom of conscience we would like to offer the following simple convictions. It seems clear to us that lesbian and gay orientation is part of the created order. We understand that God desires the option of loving and faithful intimacy for all people regardless of sexual orientation. We recognise that marriage is the vehicle through which our society recognises and honours such intimacy. For many of us it is in such faithful and lifelong commitment that the unconditional love of God is experienced as a reality. As such we would celebrate and welcome the opportunity for same-sex marriage.
We offer our regret that such a beautiful gift that humanises us has become such a political football in our society. We especially regret the impact on gay and lesbian people for whom such a personal and intimate reality has become subject to vitriolic debate. We love and respect all those who follow Jesus who feel that same sex marriage somehow dishonours God or damages the health of human society. But we wish they would not presume to speak for the whole Christian Church. We love and serve Jesus with all our hearts too.
We believe that even in the midst of the messiness of this debate, the God of life is profoundly present to all people, inviting us to recognise that God is closer to our humanity than we could dream and that Godâ€™s invitation is to know that we are all loved regardless of who we are and what we have done. We are all invited into the joy of a life together which is marked by compassion, justice, truth, mercy and love for all people.
Rev Stacey Aslangul and Rev Andrew Woff