The World Congress of Families was in Sydney from the 15th-18th May. There were numerous talks and sessions on marriage, overall mounting very strong arguments in defence of traditional marriage.

Some of the highlights:

Brad Wilcox, who has been working on the World Family Map 2013, presented strong evidence that marriage is beneficial for children. Specifically, he explained that data shows that children living with their mother and father in middle/high income countries are more likely to stay on track in school and demonstrate higher reading literacy than are children living with one or no parents. He indicated that this was likely due to the additional financial, social, and cultural benefits that two parents can provide to their children.

Sister Moira Debono then gave a very deep explanation of the good of marriage. She invoked Saint Augustine’s three goods of marriage (fidelity, a permanent exclusive relationship, and children) to demonstrate how marriage benefits a man and a woman, their children, and society as a whole.

Bill Muehlenberg, from the Family Council of Victoria, then gave countless examples of how redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships leads to attacks on freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He presented an overwhelming numbers of cases from around the world where people and organisations have been persecuted as a result of their traditional views of marriage.

Doctor David van Gend, the President of Australian Marriage Forum, provided a short but convincing case against redefining marriage. He explained that children have a right to a mother and a father, and that “governments should not pass laws which deliberately normalise motherless and fatherless families.” He also gave two very interesting quotes: one from Claude Levi-Strauss, the father of modern Anthropology, saying that “marriage is a social institution with a biological foundation”, and also one from the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell: “It is through children alone that sexual relations become of importance to society, and worthy to be taken cognisance of by a legal institution.”

There were also other distinguished speakers from overseas.

William B May, authour of the recently released book Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue, gave some extremely helpful advice about the marriage debate. He explained why using the terms “same-sex marriage” or “gay marriage” are misleading as they avoid the real issue, which is the redefinition of marriage. He went on to explain that “marriage is the only institution in the law which unites children to their mothers and fathers” and that this idea is the strongest defence of traditional marriage.

Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in the US, made some brief but uplifting remarks about how the “inevitability” argument for redefining marriage should be completely rejected, and that supporters of traditional marriage must continue to stand up for their beliefs.

And finally, Jose Ureta (from France, where marriage has recently been redefined) gave a great analysis of the marriage debate in France. He explained that the decision to redefine marriage had been rushed through the parliament. He also, appropriately, pointed out that the word marriage comes from the term “mater” which means mother, indicating the traditional origins of marriage as linked to children.

Overall, the Congress gave a very enlightening and interesting analysis of marriage from range of perspectives. The next Congress will be held in 2014 in Moscow.

Blaise Joseph is a third-year commerce student at the University of New South Wales with a strong interest in social policy. Blaise is originally from Canberra, the centre of politics and the public...