Liberalism

World without limits

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It's only a matter of time before Australia embraces same sex marriage, with the support and advocacy of progressive Australian clergy.

So what's next? We all know it won't stop at same-sex unions.

So who's up for group marriage?

For weeks, Sydneysiders and Melburnians who believe menages-a-trois and other polyamorous relationships can be just as committed, loving and valid as marriage between a man and a woman, slaved away together to earn their place in the sun. They drew up plans, sawed wood, hammered nails.

Finally, in early March, it was ready: the first float celebrating polyamory to join the colourful flotilla in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Here's some background to the movement for "poly pride." They even have their own "community."

The polyamorous community in Australia is a broad church, with the slogan of its very active website being "ethical non-monogamy".

It is increasingly prominent, with organised groups in most capital cities that hold regular discussion sessions and social nights.

Polyamorists generally distinguish themselves from the monogamous gay community, and from those seeking kinky casual sex. Some also see themselves as different from heterosexual polygamists where the "hinge" member has sexual relations with the two of the opposite sex, but the two of the same sex do not have sex with each other.

Rather they may form, in polyamorist lingo, a "polyfidelist triad" in which there is an equilateral triangle of sexual activity.

Group marriage is not without it's trials and tribulations.

A recent Australian legal case involved a man whose wife had left him for another man and a woman, and taken the children. When the trio set up house together, mingled their respective offspring, and shared the same bedroom, the jilted husband applied to the court seeking an urgent order that the children be removed from the "immoral" household.

But magistrate Philip Burchardt rejected the application, saying the threesome seemed to be "thoroughly decent and honest people" and "I do not regard the relationship . . . as being damaging to the children."

What's next after group marriage?

Melbourne-born Peter Singer is a world-renown ethicist, philosopher, and professor at Princeton University. In 2005 he was one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world.

What does this great man advocate?

Singer argues that "mutually satisfying activities" of a sexual nature can occur between humans and animals.

I have a question for those progressive clergy and theologians who have rejected the plain teaching of Jesus. You have rejected the prophets, and apostles. You have rejected 2,000 years of church teaching.

How will you stand against the very forces you have allowed to be unleashed?

UPDATE: Three weeks ago Sydney’s City Hub reported on the establishment of the Polyamory Action Lobby, or PAL…

Why this deafening silence?

But the intent of the same-sex ' 'sacred union ceremony'' at Brunswick Uniting Church was fairly clear: vows and rings were exchanged, there were prayers and blessings, and a multi-tiered white cake to aid post-service celebrations.

The Uniting Church of Australia has come a long way in the last 30 years since it was formed out of the union of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches.

The Church confronts (Post?) Modernity

I'm reading Catholicism and modernity: Confrontation or capitulation? by James Hitchcock. Written in the late 1970s in the wake of Vatican II. He writes as an orthodox Catholic facing the growing liberalisation of his faith from within the Church.

There are striking parallels in the story of the Episcopalian demise in the US and Canada and the woes of the Uniting Church in Australia.

The heart of the problem is a failure of nerve in confronting a culture that is hostile to the Christian faith. Hitchcock quotes TS Eliot who said of liberalism that,

[It] tends to release energy rather than accumulate it, to relax rather than to fortify. It is a movement not so much defined by its end, as by its starting point; away from, rather than towards, something definite.

In religion, Liberalism may be characterized by a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous or obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and nowhere to go.

Unfortunately, this history will be repeated in the postmodern world by the stream of the emerging church described by Ed Stetzer as "Revisionists". The scenery has changed but not the story.