Reflections on the Same-Sex Marriage Plebiscite
Following a recent meeting with our local federal MP Rick Wilson in regard to the upcoming postal plebiscite about same sex marriage, I gave some thought to the question of what kind of guidance and counsel would I give to those in our church community about this. I came up with a list of a number of points, which I've already shared in another context, and have now been asked to share in this magazine as well. Here then are some personal reflections and advice as a pastor for my fellow Australians and my fellow believers to consider:
The plebiscite will be a voluntary vote, so make sure you are on the electoral role, and make sure you participate in the voting process, which will be in the form of a postal survey.
Familiarize yourself with both sides of the argument, so you can recognize and expose untruths, and so you can defend and demonstrate the beauty of God's truth and the blessing of following His commands. Be able to say more than "the Bible says it's wrong". That's a true statement, of course, but much more can be said. God's commandments are pure and enlighten the eyes (Ps 19:8), and God's way is always the best way. That's true not just for Christians, but for the entire world. God's precepts about sexuality and marriage are beneficial for everyone who follows them.
Realize that many things that the media reports and says about this issue are simply false. The ABC is particularly guilty of spreading propaganda and falsehood. There is a very real anti-Christian bias that determines what makes news, and how it is presented. We also need to alert others around us not to swallow as truth whatever they are being told, but to think for themselves.
We have a prophetic task to bring the truth to friends, neighbours and workmates. Many of our fellow-citizens may not realize the lack of objectivity in the media, or have not considered the consequences of a decision that redefines marriage. Social media is part of that as well, so use these tools for good, also in being loving and good witnesses of the truth to those around us. Make the most of every opportunity (Col 4:5). Encourage others around you to think about the issues, and not be misled by the false idea that this is about marriage equality and equal rights.
The other side of the argument is often filled with hatred and intolerance. Don't resort to such bullying tactics. Let the bad tree of radical left-wing liberalism be recognized by its bad fruit of hate speech and rabid bullying. Instead "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt" (Col 4:6). Always apply the fruit of the Spirit when speaking on this issue (Gal 5:22-23). Don't turn people off by ungracious speech, or ugly words.
You should answer a fool according to his folly — except when you shouldn't! (Prov 26:4-5) There's a time to speak, and there's a time to be silent, and you need wisdom to discern the difference. There's much Proverbial wisdom you can apply in how you discuss these matters. Here's a few words of wisdom to get you started: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (15:1); "He who has knowledge spares his words" (17:27); "Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (29:20)
Realize that we do not battle flesh and blood, but the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph 6:12). A spiritual war is going on, and that is really what is behind the erosion of Christian morals in our world today. This isn't just a political battle, but there is a very real spiritual component underlying it.
Realize where this comes from. The Bible makes a direct link between idolatry and sexual immorality. When people fail to glorify God, He lets their foolish hearts become darkened and gives them up to vile passions (Rom 1:20-32). Theological liberalism has led to a whole-scale rejection of God's Word as the foundation for conduct. It is inevitable that a society that rejects this foundation also rejects everything built on it. The current public debate is merely a symptom of a larger problem.
Realize where this leads to. This isn't an isolated issue, but is part of a larger agenda of social engineering that has been in motion for some time already. It is just another step on the road towards a society in which Christianity is going to be increasingly marginalized. There are enough documented examples in the United States and Canada that show how redefining marriage leads to an erosion of freedom of speech, and threatens religious and other freedoms.
What our nation really needs is a return to the foundation of God's Word, and to the gospel. They don't just need to be convinced of the truth of a Biblical view of marriage. More importantly, they need to be convinced of their need for the only Saviour Jesus Christ. The good fruit of marriage as God intended it will only grow on a tree that is first rooted in the soil of the gospel of Christ, and is a result of faith in Him, and the renewal of the Spirit (Lord's Day 32). Be just as diligent to speak about that. Be concerned for your neighbour's soul, not just their marriage.
Live a pure and holy life yourself. Show that living in accordance with a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality is truly beautiful. Live a beautiful Christian life in harmony with God's Word, and so "make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive to all men" (Tit 2:10).
It is only by God's grace that we may know and accept the truth. Aside from God's grace, we ourselves would be blinded by the lies of our world. Be compassionate to those caught in the grip of falsehood, and never look down on them, or think that you are somehow better or more deserving than them.
We don't strive in our own strength, but in God's strength. Spiritual war especially requires dependent prayer (Eph 6:18). Pray for the Lord to change the hearts of our nation. Pray for our political leaders. Pray for the progress of the gospel. Pray for courageous, truthful, and loving speech. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God's kingdom to come, and for His Name to be hallowed.
Not confident of a particular result — but confident that Jesus Christ is King. Even in the midst of turmoil, Jesus Christ rules the nations including ours. He will build and preserve His church. He will Return. That's certain, so you may lie down and sleep in peace (Ps 4:8).