The select committee reviewing the equal marriage bill in New Zealand, has heard submissions from two pastors, one who called equal marriage a sin, and an “abomination,” and another who said that incest is “the way it could go” if equal marriage became legal.

The New Zealand Marriage Amendment Bill, which would legalise equal marriage, passed its first reading on 22 August, with a majority of 80 votes to 40 in parliament in support of the change.

A select committee is now reviewing the bill, which would normally be over a period of around six months. After that process, it will make a decision on whether or not to recommend it be passed.

Graham Sunderland, a pastor at Rivestones Church in Upper Hutt, spoke to the committee, saying that he agreed with equal rights, but not in terms of relationships, reported 3NZ. Mr Sunderland said:

“Are we going to see in the future that a brother and sister can get married? I mean, that’s the way it could go.”

He said that he thought marriages must be exclusively between one man and one woman, and that its purpose is procreation. He went on to say:

“If you crack an egg in half, you have two shells which can then come together and form one.

“A car is not a truck, they both have motors and wheels but they both have very different roles,” he says.

Masterton Baptist Church pastor, Scott Lelievre, also submitted to the committee, and said that he thought that equal marriage “lowers the prestige” of marriage.

He said that he was speaking the word of god, and on behalf of his congregation, and that he meant no offence. He said:

“As far as we are aware, marriage outside of this, is a marriage of sin. The government does not have the right to change this.”

He said he, and other church officials feared persecution if they were to be forced to officiate same-sex marriages.

“If we have to go to jail, then we have to go to jail. We are against this and urge government to vote this down. The church needs a voice and we need to point toward God who is the creator of all things.”

“The vast majority of churches will accept the stance I have given you now. The state is trying to be God. The state is changing marriage beyond recognition and is enough trouble as it is.

“This will add to the weakening of marriage. It will lower the prestige of marriage. It is adding something that is a sin to something that is of God. God says it is a sin.”

MP Gordon Copeland was criticised for his submission to the select committee last week,  and was accused of comparing same-sex marriage to apartheid in South Africa.

Veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen recently criticised New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, for mocking the host of a radio show for wearing a red jumper, which he said was “a bit gay”.

The committee continues to take submissions.