“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 The Bible, The Message Version
If you’re a Christian and you are unsure or conflicted about where you stand on the same-sex marriage survey in Australia, then I am sharing this with you. I wrote this as a result of a panel discussion with Christian young adults in my community.
I have thought and considered my stance on the same-sex marriage survey, through the lens of Jesus’ life and teachings, my identity in the family of God, and His command to love one another.
I am voting “No” in this same-sex survey because it is my conviction that as a citizen and a Christian, when asked about what I would prefer, I will be faithful to my values and beliefs.
I have friends, colleagues and family, who I love and care about, who are voting “Yes”. But, surely, we can love others even as we disagree? Strong love can weather this storm. I hope that I can show you more of my love in other ways.
Voting “Yes” would be in conflict with what’s in my heart, what I have reasoned and weighed in my mind, and what I know in my spirit about what pleases God.
No matter the outcome, my hope is that expressing one’s views will be staunchly defended by both sides. I will remain a good citizen, continue to love and respect others, and pray for this country, as that is what the Bible says, too.
Is saying “No” unloving or unfair?
As a Christian, it can be difficult to argue against the pursuit of love and fairness, as advocated by those who support same-sex marriage, when these are hallmarks of the Christian message.
However, disagreeing with someone you love and respect does not mean you stop loving or cease respecting them. Disagreements hurt, but love for each other can prevail. This is what happens in our daily lives. It applies to the survey, too.
Take the example of Jesus. Jesus loved people. But He did say “No” to actions that were not pleasing to God.
Jesus did not isolate himself among the religious, the governing elite and the intellectuals. He also walked among the poor, the marginalised, the prostitutes, lepers and tax collectors, even talking to a condemned adulteress and foreigners who were pariahs to the Jews.
He showed love and compassion without exception. Even the deranged and spiritually ill had his attention.
“Yes” to loving people. “No” to ways that are not pleasing with God.
But Jesus said “No”. Remember Jesus with Zaccheus, the cheating tax collector; with the Samaritan woman who had five husbands; and the woman caught in adultery who was about to be punished. He cared for these people but encouraged each one to lead transformed lives.
Likewise, I can follow His example, care and love deeply but still say “No” to same-sex marriage.
Loving God above all
Jesus was also unflinching about His call to love God above all, beyond comparison.
““If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26-27, The Bible NLT
God loves us all. That is why He did what none of us could do. Because of love, He suffered loss.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 The Bible NKJV
Jesus asked three times in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane for the mission to be taken away from him.
“[Jesus] went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”” Matthew 26:39 The Bible NLT
God is perfect love, perfect fairness, perfect justice. But love said “No”.
The only perfect way for us who are imperfect to be part of His family is through the death of Jesus. We are forgiven, made perfect, as we are seen through this sacrifice.
Since the Bible is clear as to God’s view on same-sex relationships, from the Old Testament (Sodom, Gibeah, the moral laws in Leviticus) to the New Testament (Pauls’ letter to the Romans, the church at Corinth, and to Timothy), loving Him means I want to delight Him, and that means oneness with His position.
Am I imposing my values and beliefs on others?
When I vote in general elections, I make choices that are often different to people around me. That is how democracy works. I don’t vote to do others a favor.
In this postal survey, every Australian has the freedom and the right to choose their answer as best reflects what they value, desire, think and intend to do.
Each choice reflects the individual’s unique perspective. There will be many perspectives that will coalesce around each answer. The will of the majority guides the government. Then the government finds ways to reconcile the differences and govern for the good of the country. This is how democracy operates.
Who do I follow when church leaders do not agree?
The church of buildings, denominations and organisations is not the church that is spoken about in the Bible.
The Biblical church is the family of God on earth, composed of individuals who are united in their love of God and faithfulness to Jesus, united beyond religious traditions, cultural affiliation and lineage.
The Biblical church in Australia examines the words of leaders through the lens of God’s Word. Like the Bereans of Macedonia, the search for truth is relentless.
I will follow the leader who does not dilute the Word of God, who is faithful to the commandment to love Him and love others, even as she also stands resolute on her convictions.
The Bible calls on Christians to pray for the government and support their leaders. Participating in the democratic process is supporting our leaders.
Many say that only good can come out of this change and that their relationships will not be affected if the Marriage Act is changed.
Changing the Marriage Act is not the only change that will be made in our laws. The Attorney General’s office already published their opinion that 25 Commonwealth Acts will need to be amended* by the change of the Marriage Act. The amendments pertain to replacing wife/husband terms with ‘spouse’.
It is entirely plausible that anti-discrimination laws can be used later to force those who do not agree to comply. The form and content of the legislation is not referenced by this survey. As a citizen, each one of us needs to consider the interests of future generations, not just this one.
I am aware that even before the law is changed, some religious leaders have already been challenged in court for teaching the Biblical stance on marriage. Certain sectors in the media have used their stance to censor the opposing view or dilute reporting on the debate. Check out MediaWatch, the Father’s Day ad that was not aired, unbalanced reporting on Brisbane church incident and the Sydney Uni clash post-mortem.
I believe, the experience of other countries must inform our decisions here and the next steps we take when the results are in.
However, I reject the spirit of fear that I sense from some people who are voting “No”. Whatever happens, God does not change; my identity and future in Him is secure.
I will not be complacent or disengaged. I will keep my eyes open and hold on to my convictions. It is my duty to participate. I encourage you to do so, too.
Loving others beyond words
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1 The Bible NLT
By voting “No”, I am possibly hurting friends, colleagues and family who hoped I would support them in this survey. I am sorry. I am holding on to my convictions, though my heart aches for you. I hope that I can show you more of my love in other ways.
* between 40-60 amendments within the 25 pieces of legislation. An earlier version of this blog erroneously referred to 60 Commonwealth Acts.