Letters to the editor – October 2017

Not about equality

In Matthew 19: 4-5 and Mark 10: 6-9 Jesus is quoted as citing Genesis 1:27b, which says, “…male and female he created them” and leads immediately into Verse 28: “God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’.”

Jesus then said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” (New RSV)

It is extremely difficult to interpret this saying of Jesus as envisaging or including same-gender marriage.

In my view, the use of the expression ‘marriage equality’ by the proponents of same-gender marriage is a misuse of the word ‘equality’, amounting to a hijacking of the word in the same way as the word ‘gay’ was hijacked many years ago. It has been adopted because it conveys a more emotionally appealing concept than the historically more accurate words.

Few in the Uniting Church would argue, and certainly not I, that men and women are not equally valued in the sight of God – but they are not the same. They have been created different for a very good reason – to enable procreation and the raising of children. That is surely the main reason why societies around the world and down through the centuries have sanctioned heterosexual marriage as the core of the family – the fundamental building block of society.

The crux of the present debate is not really a question of equality. It is about the social structure we want to preserve and the central place of marriage in that structure.

It would be possible to legislatively recognise partnerships between two people of the same gender without pretending that their relationship is the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, which it is not and never can be.

John Beswick AM
West Tamar UC Parish


Chaplain disappointment

I HAVE had numerous visits to hospitals this year.  Three of them were four or five nights. 

One was booked in two months prior to major surgery. Though two of the three hospitals had religious affiliations I was not visited by a chaplain of any faith or denomination.

I am surprised, disappointed and somewhat hurt by this.

Helen Hallett
Gisborne, VIC


Time to stand up and be counted

AS a gay member of the Uniting Church in Australia I can only express my dismay at the lack of conviction shown by my Church.

The Uniting Church is the only church in Australia that accepts gays and lesbians as full members and leaders.

And yet the Uniting Church will not stand up and advocate for us.

Other groups in our society are given full support without question.

But gays and lesbians have to put up with a non-committal, sit on the fence, safety-first approach.

It’s time for the Uniting Church to stand up and be counted in this issue.

Same-sex marriage must be celebrated in our churches.

Or it will be just one more nail in the coffin.

Michael E East.
Camberwell, VIC.


Dark message

Hobart has once again hosted the winter event called ‘Dark Mofo’. This event celebrates darkness in many forms and contains immorality (organised public nudity) and blasphemy (mocking the cross of Jesus). Another segment of Dark Mofo involved a slaughtered bull, hoisted high and with legs outstretched to form a cross whilst revellers danced around it, smearing themselves with blood.

Some media comments on this pagan event included words such as ‘disgusting’ ‘sickening’ and ‘frighting’. But most importantly what does the Bible say?

“This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness we lie, and do not practise the truth.” (1 John 5: 6 – 7)           

“Have no fellowship with the works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5: 11)

“Jesus says if you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14: 15)

Darkness is mentioned many times in the Bible as a description of sin and the devil. As Satan is the arch enemy of God any activity involving the evil one mocks God, but Dark Mofo glorifies darkness and like a cancer is growing and spreading.

In defiance of God’s Holy Word some Uniting Churches joined in with Dark Mofo. For a church to be of Jesus Christ how can it participate in a pagan event that mocks the cross of Jesus?

Fortunately there are many people in the UC who love and serve the Lord and distance themselves from such pagan events. They participate with churches of various denominations who join together with prayer meetings, a Bible reading marathon and a walk of condemnation showing unity in upholding God’s Holy Word.

Mark Leonard,
Endorsed by the Westbury/ Whitemore Uniting Church Council Chairman  Robert J Clarke

No safe euthanasia

I read with interest the article on euthanasia in the August edition and thank you for bringing this to our attention in the light of impending legislation in the Victorian Parliament.

While stating that some polls and numerous Christian thinkers and theologians were in favour of euthanasia, the thrust of the article was in its stories. Daniel Andrews says his mind was changed by seeing his own father suffer a painful death from cancer. However, as a GP who prescribes drugs for dying patients I could not help thinking that prescribing Endone to Ms Field’s suffering mother at the end of her life seemed unusual.

Similarly, I wonder if Kenneth Ralph’s parishioner who was “yelling and screaming and really suffering” was receiving any palliative care at all. Obviously, we don’t have the full stories. I too have stories of deaths including my own mother and mother-in-law which would be hard to condense.

This enormous social change before us is about compassion; “ending unbearable suffering for terminally ill patients” as put in the 2012 Newspoll. Yet its scope is for people whose life expectancy is a year and who want to die with dignity.

The loss of control is one of the scary things that can come with dying but the risks associated with this personal autonomy must be considered.

Surely, an informed discussion will take into consideration Daniel Andrews’ fear that ‘economic rationalism’ would influence medical decisions. Why was the amount of money a government could save if euthanasia was legalised even calculated?

Shouldn’t we be listening to those in the palliative care sector? Their occupation is with dying people. The ABC reported those professionals said “MPs would be making a huge mistake if they backed the plan”; why would they say that?

Why would the Ministerial Advisory Report not include a trial of palliative care or a mental assessment?

To assume such a law would not expand over the years is naive. We only have to look at the initial Netherlands legislation and then look at actual practice with the High Court ruling (1986) that “the pain guideline was not limited to physical pain, and (includes) ‘psychic suffering’ or ‘the potential disfigurement of personality’.” Current amendments include life-terminating treatment to children and giving more power and protection to doctors. Even its staunchest advocates admit there is no safe euthanasia or assisted dying legislation.

Mr Ralph says those concerned about a ‘slippery slope’ ‘are not examining the evidence in places where voluntary euthanasia is legal’. I think that everyone should rectify this neglect.

Doug Utley
Park Orchards, VIC

Invitation to retired ministers

One of the events to which we look forward each year, is the gathering of retired ministers and their spouses, deacons, minister’s widows and widowers. Once again, it will be at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church, and be on Tuesday 31 October, commencing at 10.30am. Details will be sent as soon as lists are updated.

We can assure those who are retired from full-time ministry that a warm welcome awaits you. It is a great opportunity to catch up with one another, probably fixing the world and the Church at the same time. The ageing process sometimes makes instant recognition difficult, but we all face this. If you have held back from attending this function in the past, we invite you to reconsider coming. The worship, meal and program will be there for all to enjoy and share.

Rev Clem Dickinson and Rev Ian Smith



When it comes to TV commercials there are excellent examples and conversely there are some shockers! If you are like me, you cringe at some, in particular the health comparison website that is no longer funny and has past its use-by-date.

And just when you thought Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) had dined out on all the ideas on how to market lamb, its creative agency, aptly named The Monkeys, has caused yet another stir.

If you haven’t seen the ad, there’s a fair chance you have heard or read about the backlash.

Within a few days of its first airing, Australia’s advertising watch (not sheep) dog had already received a number of complaints. Now we read the Indian government has intervened in the controversy, lodging an official diplomatic complaint. The Indian high commissioner had made a ‘demarche’ to three Australian government departments – Foreign Affairs, Communications and Agriculture.

Their main beef (mixed livestock term I know) is the depiction in the ad of the Hindu deity Ganesha, eating lamb, citing it as ‘ignorant and insensitive’.

So what for other faiths? Whilst the Indian government has lodged a protest on behalf of its citizens of the Hindu faith, who will express concern on behalf the followers of the Good Shepherd himself who is not omitted from the ad’s character list.

If we are meat eaters, do we forego the lamb roast, deny ourselves of the odd lamb chop or give up the lamb’s fry and bacon?

Whatever our personal and collective response, one thing remains, when it comes to the retail price of lamb, we are being well and truly fleeced.

And worst still, some monkey is pulling the wool over our eyes!

Allan Gibson
Cherrybrook NSW

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