Church must decide on whether it can remain silent

The successful defence of marriage in the Federal Parliament has been blamed by same-sex activists on a host of reasons with no more substance than their arguments for marriage.

Of course the fact that the Coalition didn’t allow a conscience vote is prime among these, when even in a free vote it would have failed in the Lower House. But the hypocrisy of this claim runs much deeper.

Less than a year ago both major parties were committed to the biological reality that marriage is between a man and a woman. And it was only the very lack of a conscience vote for left union delegates at the Labor National Conference that put this truth under threat.

It is to Labor’s shame that it would be as hypocritical as to hound Abbott for the lack of a conscience vote in the Coalition, when the majority of the Australian Labor National Conference were not given free votes on it themselves.

It was here too that the tactics of demonisation so evident in this campaign, first surfaced. Highly respected Labor figures like Joe de Bryun were heckled and mocked with the skilful orchestration of Rainbow Labor. A tactic same sex activists have repeated to empty the public space of alternate voices here, just as they have overseas.

With a deftness that can only come from well resourced intent, it successfully labelled any opponents with the hate language of “homophobe”, “bigot”, “gay haters” and “propagators of hate”, when all the time they were the only ones in the debate using such language.

It simply defies reason and any sense of impartiality in the media at large, that the church, which comes to its position on marriage from a love of children and the desire to see them grow and flourish in the biological identity which by God’s grace they are created, should be accused of any motivation but love. Certainly at ACL that is our sole motivation, we would not by our very motivation in Christ, use the language of which we have been accused.

But this tactic has worked well for these activists overseas of course. Amsterdam’s Chief Rabbi was sacked and a Spanish Catholic Bishop threatened to be charged with hate speech for simply exercising both their freedom of religion and conscience by voicing their faiths’ positions that marriage is between a man and woman – something that should not surprise a church which knows that the world rejects truth.

However it is the effect on individuals of this tactic which is most shameful, with gay activism increasingly prepared to pursue dissenting voices to their professional and personal ruin.
A Canadian sports commentator was recently fired for tweeting “I believe in the TRUE meaning of marriage”. And in one of the saddest cases, America’s most successful Olympic gymnast Peter Vidmar was stripped of the honour of being chef de mission for the 2012 Olympics team by gay activists vitriol at his prominent support of marriage.

The next round of this debate must be conducted in a way that the merits of opposing views can be put forward without fear of public demonisation.

We must also ask ourselves whether the automatic default to conscience votes on difficult issues is really appropriate. The conscience vote has traditionally been for life issues, but should its use be so generally applied that in the end parties won’t have to tell us where they stand on any moral issues at elections, as if morality is a private matter with no public consequences.

It is the immorality of our legalised prostitution which drives the demand that causes some 800,000 women and girls to be trafficked across borders every year in a tragic trade netting criminals thirty two billion dollars annually. And the greed Christ taught as immoral, that drives an unfunded future debt in the West that has it caught in a spiral of immediate excessive gratification that will not only effect its own future generations, but will increase its blindness to the inexcusable inequality in a world in which those God loves die daily of starvation and preventable illness.

A conscience vote also exposes individual parliamentarians to the direct lobbying of individuals. This would be attractive if the process hadn’t been poisoned by gay activism to mean isolation by fear of public demonisation. This is a combination not helpful to democracy, but toxic for it.

But perhaps the biggest question to come out of this whole debate on marriage is for the church itself.

It must decide whether in a world replete with examples of this unreasonable gay activism using same sex marriage to relentlessly pursue the church and its very freedom to preach the Gospel it can remain silent and cowered. But more importantly, do we have the freedom to deny God’s very purpose for marriage, and if we do, what of Christ do we deny next?

Jim Wallace AM is the managing director of Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).