The world won't end if or when Australia adopts same-sex marriage but it will change, and people need to be careful what they wish for, said the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, reports The Canberra Times.
"Yes, the sun will still rise in the east and set in the west if this [same-sex marriage] comes through but what sort of society are we moving towards?" he said. "We've got to ask the big questions."
The future definitions of words such as intimacy and friendship stand at the head of the list.
"Where will traditional marriage, which has served us in such good stead for millennia, stand? Will that be relativised? Will it be seen as one arrangement amongst many or will it still be seen as the pre-eminent way families are introduced into humanity?"
Archbishop Prowse cautioned against rushing to legislate in the wake of last month's Irish plebiscite result which prompted a pastoral letter from Australia's Catholic Bishops to the Australian Church last Thursday.
The letter acknowledged the same-sex marriage debate was gaining momentum locally and referenced moves by the Labor Party and the Greens to introduce draft legislation.
Archbishop Prowse, who described the debate as "one-sided," said the danger of trying to extend meaning to everything – in this case all forms of relationships – was the removal of meaning from anything.
"If friendships and relationships have the same sort of meaning across the board, then what about the particular arrangements of mother and father, husband, wife children? Are they somewhat relativised amongst a whole string of other types of emerging relationships?" he asked.
This would be unjust to traditional families already under pressure.
The Archbishop said regardless of what happened with the current bill, the issue was not about to go away. "I have a feeling that for the time being in the Australian conversation if this bill doesn't get up, another bill of another kind will appear," he said.
Same sex marriage is not the end of the world, says Bishop Christopher Prowse (The Canberra Times)