What would Sir Robert Menzies have made of attempts to conscript his name to the cause of redefining marriage in law?
Was he a conservative or a so-called progressive on social issues?
Would he have simply gone with the times?
It is difficult to know for sure.
But what is known about Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister is that he was one who could see threats over the horizon and was not afraid to issue long-range warnings – even on social policy.
No sooner had World War II ended; Menzies was focussed on the Communist menace, which was trying to topple South East Asian nations like dominos.
And surprisingly it is in this context that we gain some insight into his views on marriage and family.
The Liberal Party’s think tank, the Menzies Research Centre, has just released a fascinating new book entitled Menzies: The Forgotten Speeches.
Editor David Furse-Roberts scoured print and sound archives to compile this fascinating volume of lost missives from the great man.
In his 1946 radio broadcast, Communism and Christianity, Menzies chides those in the church who had been “wooed and won” by “revolutionary communism in Australia”.
“It seems as clear as crystal to me that between Christianity and communism there is a great gulf. Indeed, the two conceptions of man and of life are as far apart as the Poles.”
Ever the student of ideas, Menzies went on to quote directly from Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto.
“If you secure a copy of the Communist Manifesto and look at chapter two you will see how it embraces the abolition of the family; the abolition of what is called bourgeois marriage; the abolition of country and nationality.”
The last phrase is probably more a commentary on what Menzies would have thought of Brexit.
The former phrases show a concern about the radical social policy espoused by communism.
Menzies went on to say that communism “can have nothing but hostility towards religion and in particular the Christian faith.”
The communists never did succeed in abolishing the family or “bourgeois marriage” – humans are too attached to it as a basic building block of society.
But contemporary Marxism has done its best to continually undermine the idea of marriage and certainly the idea that a married woman and man with children is a model of family that should be incentivised in public policy.
Come the 1970s, the legitimate need for women to get out of abusive marriages was conflated with a need to have “no fault” divorce, a decisive redefining of marriage.
Divorces rates then soared to almost 50 per cent before dropping a little in recent years.
Those opting to cohabitate to avoid the constraints of bourgeoisie marriage found that this didn’t ease the pain of relationship breakdown with cohabitating couples having a break-up rate four times that of married couples.
All of this hurt children and caused myriad social problems.
Like those who once promoted “no fault” divorce, today’s activists advocating a further redefinition of marriage to abolish the gender diversity requirement claim there are no consequences.
But this is not the lived experience both here and overseas.
Arguably the most prominent leader of Australia’s same-sex marriage movement is the Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome.
Croome encouraged Tasmanians to refer Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commission for seeking to teach his flock the church’s definition of marriage in a pastoral letter.
All this before any change to the marriage law.
He also told a recent Senate inquiry that allowing providers of marriage-related services freedom of conscience would be enabling prejudice.
This is a political agenda that is hostile to Christianity and is not compatible with basic freedoms fair-minded Australians have taken for granted.
Last month the Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofvec, where same-sex marriage was legalised around nine years ago, said church ministers who did not wish to solemnise same-sex marriage should “find another job”.
Anyone who thinks protections for religious freedom will last is kidding themselves.
But the pressure for change does not end with legalising same-sex marriage.
Two weeks ago, the UK’s minister for equality, Justine Greening, announced that men wishing to identify as women could do so, with or without surgery, and vice-versa.
No thought has been given to what this means for women sharing intimate spaces like public toilets and showers with “women” who have penises.
In making the announcement, Greening said this was the next great “step forward” after achieving same-sex marriage in 2013.
Anyone who thinks granting the LGBTI political movement its wish for “marriage equality” is where all this ends is kidding themselves.
The so-called “Safe Schools” gender fluid teaching which has been pushed back in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania will roar back into contention if same-sex marriage is legalised.
Its founder, the self-declared Marxist Roz Ward, said the program was not about anti-bullying but about deconstructing heteronormativity.
In 1946, Menzies was a man ahead of his time. I suspect he would be shaking his head at the latest attacks by the Left on Christianity, marriage and family.
He would be chiding members of the party he founded who had been “wooed and won” by such radical ideas.
Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby
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