The Bishop of Bendigo, Andrew Curnow, has used his “The Bishop Writes” column in the October/November edition of the diocese’s monthly newspaper “The Spirit” [pdf] to defend his comments last month about the current national debate on marriage redefinition.

Readers of davidould.net will be interested to learn that this website is named in Bishop Curnow’s comments. Here is the full text of what he wrote (original embedded below):

Bishop responds to media attention following recent comments

Bishop Andrew Curnow

In the September edition of the Spirit I wrote about two highly politicised matters that have been in public debate over the past six weeks. Namely, the debate about marriage equality and assisted dying.

My comments raised some very strong reaction from across the diocese and indeed from across Australia and got into the national media. The comments below are a response and a background to how this evolved.

Due to a recent post on the blog of Sydney priest the Revd David Ould in reaction to my comments in the September edition of The Spirit, it seems to have generated media interest and has been followed up by articles independently of me in The Bendigo Advertiser and The Age.

Given that David Ould has reported that “many members of the diocese are not happy and disappointed” with my comments, I want to briefly give some explanation.

1. The comments I made in The Spirit were largely meant for the members of this diocese which is the readership group of The Spirit. My comments did not indicate my support for two contestable public issues at this time, but underlined the liberty and responsibility we have as voters in this country. I was critical of much of the information being deluged upon me by the ‘no’ campaign. I have received no material from the ‘yes’ campaign.

Certain members of the diocese have been critical of my comments and I underline that they need to be read carefully.

2. My comments are based upon my view that the current debate is essentially about the status of civil marriage. In Australia the Marriage Act is a fusion historically of a definition of marriage which has been appropriated by the Christian community over many years.

I have long argued that there should be a distinction between the civil understanding of marriage and the Christian view of marriage. In the present debate, the whole discussion is confused.

3. Christianity is quite divided over the issue of what is Christian marriage. The current debate highlights the difficulty we are having in Christianity over the theological issue of Christ and culture.

This in itself requires significant discussion and reflection. Do we hold onto the view that the Christian faith has to be held entirely to its historical interpretation or, are we open to the theological view that Christianity over time can be quite appropriately influenced by culture? This is at the heart of the debate that has been going on in Christian circles, particularly over the last 25 years.

4. I am arguing for understanding, for an openness to listen and the possibility of change.

5. I am not trying to undermine anyone’s individual beliefs and what they hold as precious and fundamental to their faith.


Readers make take some interest in Bishop Curnow’s third claim:

3. Christianity is quite divided over the issue of what is Christian marriage. The current debate highlights the difficulty we are having in Christianity over the theological issue of Christ and culture.

This in itself requires significant discussion and reflection. Do we hold onto the view that the Christian faith has to be held entirely to its historical interpretation or, are we open to the theological view that Christianity over time can be quite appropriately influenced by culture? This is at the heart of the debate that has been going on in Christian circles, particularly over the last 25 years.

The same edition of “The Spirit” also contains a very brief review of the recent General Synod. It failed to report that the General Synod passed a motion reaffirming the orthodox position on marriage and also another that censured the Scottish Episcopal Church for changing their doctrine of marriage declaring such a move to be “contrary to the teaching of Christ”.

Perhaps there was limited space available.

3 comments on “Bishop of Bendigo Defends His Statements on Marriage

  1. Tell me, Bishop Andrew, (1) did Jesus Christ really exist in time space history? (2) Was he really factually raised from the Dead in Body and Soul, or (3) is this mere myth and not actually true. (4) Do Jesus bones still lie around somewhere?

    If Bishop Andrew, you affirm YES to all the 1 and 2 this would be good. If you answer NO to 1 and 2 and YES to 3 and maybe or YES to 4, you should not be a Bishop in the Church of Christ.

    If you affirm 1 AND 2 as YES, then why did Christ die in the first place?

  2. Dear Bp Andrew – quite well explained but I wonder if it’s a waste of your time when people decide not to listen? I often feel this in response to many issues of church chatter that goes on while the broken world around us – our neighbours – just limps on perhaps hoping to find help somewhere else . . . Waiting for that Good Samaritan to eventually come down the road.

    I ponder on the pearls before swine – it’s often promoted with smugness to denigrate the “others” as pigs but perhaps it is warning more about the stupidity (which is never commended in Scripture) of those giving useless things to those “others”. Pearls are no more valuable to a pig than to a starving man. “Stupidity, fear & greed”, Einstein observed, are 3 great forces that rule the world – and often evident in much of the Synod reporting it seems.

  3. Dear David – this topic (or several others residing on your site), having Constitutional references, might be an appropriate springboard for a new post re the current hot topic of citizenship – its rights, responsibilities & privileges! Both of a State (not just our own Australia) and of Heaven. In both cases I tend to hear more about those first & third aspects, not so much re the second . . .

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