By Anthony Barich
The institution of marriage, and subsequently civilisation, can only be saved by conversion of hearts and minds.
This was the assessment of John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family lecturer Rev Dr Adam Cooper when he addressed the Australian Family Association national conference at the Tradewinds Hotel in Fremantle on October 18.
Prof Lynn Wardle, Professor of Law from Brigham Young University, Utah, also told the conference that the push for same-sex marriage, which threatens the institution of marriage, also restricts moral belief and freedom of religion and of speech.
Over 200 people from around Australia and overseas attended the conference to hear three keynote speakers, including Allan Carlson, author, researcher and founder of the World Congress of Families, the AFA’s global partner.
In his address titled ‘Sex and Society’, Rev Dr Cooper, a Lutheran minister in Geelong, said the present push for gay marriage is “but a symptom” of a longer-standing social illness born of the ‘totalitarian contraceptive culture’ that turns its subjects into slaves.
He said that as the natural bond between sex and fruitfulness was severed long ago, contracepted sex is essentially ‘sterile sex’, and is therefore closely linked to homosexual sex as the spiritually unitive and procreative meanings of marriage have been largely dismissed.
Contracepted and homosexual sex, he said, are so closely correlated that “once you grant to heterosexual couples the justification to engage in intentionally sterile sex, you leave yourself no rationale by which to deny to homosexual couples the rights and privileges of heterosexuals”.
Therefore, he said, coercion through mandating lifestyle changes by law would be “very destructive”, as “the custom of sterile sex has acquired the virtual force of law, shaping the minds and mores of generations of people”. “You can’t mandate a moral revolution by legal imposition. There are legal and political battles to be fought, but… the struggle needs to take place instead at the level of the mind and the heart,” Rev Dr Cooper said.
He said the task is to cultivate a new, pro-life culture shaped from the ground up, “starting with ourselves and our own self-education”. This would include schooling in:
– the economic and social sciences, whose statistical data increasingly point to the functional benefits of heterosexual marriage,
– the natural and biological sciences, whose findings increasingly suggest that heterosexual monogamy, not sterile paneroticism, is one of the basic keys to man’s “unique evolutionary primacy”.
He said this education must be rooted in the “personal and moral complexity” of the sexes and the fundamental human yearning for a personal relationship marked by the exclusivity, reciprocity and permanence that Catholic marriage vows demand.
Prof Wardle said that children in public schools are taught not true tolerance but that difference forms of relationships are the same and all should be equal by law – “a demonstrably false assumption”.
He said equality claims by gay marriage advocates are false advertising, as marriage is more than a piece of paper; and that calling the union of two men or two women a marriage does not make it one, even by law. He said that marriage has a crucial role in creating social capital and building social infrastructure, noting that the decline in family integrity (increase in out-of-wedlock children and in family break-ups) is accompanied by and associated with the decline in civic participation and community life.
Marriage’s capacity to promote the health, wealth and well-being of adults and communities is due to its nature not label, he said.
Same-sex marriage is legal in six nations and in two States in the US, while same-sex unions equivalent to marriage have been created in 13 nations and six US States.
The morality and behavioural expectations of gays and lesbians also differ markedly from married men and women, he said, quoting Dutch AIDs researchers, who reported in the journal AIDS that gay men with steady partners engage in more risky sexual behaviours than gays without steady partners.
They also found that the average duration of committed relationships among gay steady partners was 1.5 years, while US researchers Bell and Weinberg reported that 43 per cent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners.
He concluded by calling on all people of good will to “stand up for conjugal marriage and work diligently to protect marital families”.
Awards for witness to marriage
A new feature was added to the national conference of the Australian Family Association (AFA) this year – that of Family Awards and Exceptional Effort Awards for those working to promote and defend the organic family.
The AFA awarded special family awards on October 19 to couples married 50 years:
Mrs B Beazley
Mrs J Bowen
Dr & Mrs FG Smith
Mr & Mrs Studham
Dr & Mrs L McGrath
Mr & Mrs T D’Orsogna
Mr & Mrs E Neesham
Mr & Mrs R Bennison
Mr & Mrs C Eaton
Mr & Mrs D Carr
Mr & Mrs L Englefield
Mrs E Perrot
Mr Sandhu Bikram Singh
Mr & Mrs JG Fleeton
Mr & Mrs RJ Scallan
Mr & Mrs A Olsen
Mr & Mrs G Mazak
Mr & Mrs N Voysey
Mr & Mrs J Dallimore
Mr & Mrs B Peachey
Mr & Mrs J Grant
Mr & Mrs K Hogan
Exceptional effort Family Awards were also presented to:
Fr & Mrs F Lindsey
Mr & Mrs D Matthys
Mr & Mrs P Haydon
Mr & Mrs H Miller