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Vicar's Musings for Easter 4

21 April, 2013

On Wednesday night, 17th April, the "Definition of Marriage" Amendment Bill passed its third reading in the New Zealand Parliament by 77 to 44 votes. At long last it is now legal for gay and lesbian people to marry there. As the vote was being taken, those who packed the visitors' gallery started singing "Pokarekare ana" a Maori love song and unofficial national anthem of New Zealand:

They are agitated, the waters of Waiapu,
But when you cross over girl they will be calm.
Oh girl return to me,
I could die
of love for you.
I have written my letter, I have sent my ring,
so that your people can see that I am troubled.
My pen is shattered, I have no more paper,
But my love
is still steadfast.
My love will never
be dried by the sun,
It will be forever moistened by my tears.

As New Zealanders celebrate this significant victory for human rights and social justice, the news on this side of the Tasman has been more sobering. Just a week earlier a funeral was held in Melbourne for Damien Christie, a gay man and Christian, who had taken his own life. He had been a member of a Pentecostal church that advocates "gay conversion therapy" and had taken a "pray away the gay" approach with Damien. It didn't work. Although Damien eventually left the church, the damage was done. A friend and counsellor, Matt Glover, said: "It troubled him right to the end. I saw him every two weeks for counselling and he would often ask the question, 'Does God still love me, Matt?' Despite me reassuring him every time, it just couldn't stick. He was a very sensitive, kind, compassionate man. So many people loved him but life was just too hard. It's tragic."

Our theology of sexuality as Christians is incredibly important. Next month Bishop Gene Robinson will be visiting Melbourne. His book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage is an important contribution to the theological debate. There will be an opportunity to meet Bishop at St Mark's Church (cnr George and Moor Streets, Fitzroy) on Wednesday 29th May from 7.30 pm. For the full itinerary see: www.generobinsonvisit.org.au

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

Illustration for Easter 4 Musings

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