Parish prayers for the same-sex marriage debate

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Acknowledgement: Professor Peter Sherlock #postalsurveyprayers

Matthew 22.23–33.

Gracious Lord, we give thanks for marriage and the great blessing it is to so many. We thank you for faithful married couples who bless us so richly.

Gracious Lord, long ago, lawyers and teachers used a problem about marriage to try and trick Jesus. How familiar this seems to us, as people of faith stumble over a question of marriage in the crude form of a postal survey.

We pray that all Australians may be prepared for whatever happens about marriage in the next few months. May Christians reflect and act on the teaching and model of Jesus. Should any fear for freedom, we ask reassurance should there be nothing to fear, and courage if there is.

May what remains of the campaigning be honest and constructive. We ask for a civil society, that we may learn to disagree passionately without violence or intimidation. May religious leaders inspire faith, hope, and love in a weary and angry nation. May both the opponents and the supporters of marriage equality be gracious and generous, as together we find good news to share in your love. Cause those who argue for argument’s sake to be silent, to listen and to learn.

May people feeling alone, unnoticed or unloved—especially young people—know that your love encompasses and holds them. May those who find only condemnation in the Bible come to know the gospel of grace. Uphold mental health staff and service providers that they have resources to help all in need.

Help our leaders to be prepared when the result is announced, that our democracy may be strengthened, not harmed. Help public servants who draft legislation to be patient and thorough. Guide religious and civil marriage celebrants to respond well to change and marriage counsellors that they may help people live fruitfully.

We ask courage for same-sex couples as the nation sits in judgment, and for couples whose legitimate marriages are not recognised in Australia, that their commitment may be respected. Watch over children of same-sex couples, that they may be cherished and kept free from fear or harm.

May gay and lesbian refugees in find their trust in Australia as a place of safety not to be misplaced.

We pray for celibate Australians, that their joy and fruitfulness will be recognised and nurtured.

We pray for those who for whom thoughts of marriage bring sadness and fear:
— people trapped in abusive relationships;
— those for marriage is a distant dream as the struggle to find the simple necessities of food, clothing and shelter;
— those forced or compelled to marry: may they find freedom.

We pray for those who grieve the loss of a partner and for those who mourn for what might have been—and for those whose partners have never been acknowledged, even in death, because of fear, prejudice and ignorance.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.