In the mainstream media game, two large, very lucrative, polarised voices are often represented as soon as marriage is mentioned. The two crowds that are always presented are the supposedly enlightened “liberals” and the cruel, petty conservatives. This makes for great viewing statisticss but the damage it is doing to the culture of our nation is not worth the dividend.
In this case, it was The Project versus Court, and the quality of the conversation is absolutely dismal.
Constantly, the same platitudes of ignorance roll off the tongues of each side … I remember the awful feeling of being torn between my gay friends and my mainline Christian church – and I knew that church was being faithful to God on this. Such an experience is horrifically taxing and both sides don’t help it.
The voice you don’t hear is that of everyday Australian Christians who, since they can remember, were attracted to the same sex but who have, as all disciples of Christ are called to deny themselves, picked up their cross and given over their “rights” to their sexuality; they are called to be redefined by God’s love and the nature of the Gospel.
I cannot in good conscience move from what the Bible is clear on
As a celibate gay man, I agree with Margaret Court that marriage is between a man and a woman. I do also believe in full substantive rights for gay couples in a secular society. If, for aesthetic purposes it is called “marriage”, that is the right of state legislature, but I cannot in good conscience move from what the Bible is exegetically clear on and God’s image and likeness is reflected and analogously etched in.
Marriage is ‘ontologically’ defined by God as a covenant that reflects his own internal glory as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; distinct persons, in one essence.
On the conservative side, I don’t agree with Margaret Court’s view that homosexuality is a product of abuse, as I was never abused. Within this belief is an old Pseudo-Freudian paradigm that sexual orientation is somehow related to desire for a parental figures’ love and thus a product of abuse or abandonment.
This old-hat scientific discourse is a false genealogy. Instead one must must look back at the reality of the human fall in the early chapters of Genesis and in Romans 1. In the latter, Paul explains that this fall from relationship and connection with God, incurring the power of sin and death, broke all of our relational apparatus with God and other human beings (which includes all human desires, some of which pass as OK in Christian culture but not the Kingdom of God). This in turn has meant we are all born with broken bodies; a beautiful but flawed creation, and some of us inherited a flesh that is homosexual.
What concerns me profoundly is that voices like mine never figure in these conversations and the liberal/conservative polarity winds on with all the damage it has caused in its wake (including a pretty unpleasant many years that I spent being wedged between these two views, until I could finally see God’s bigger kingdom vision). Whilst as Christians we know we can be persecuted for our faith yet are called to speak out, I am appalled that in a country like Australia – a place of freedom of religion – Court is being wrongfully penalised by the gay lobby mob for being clear, standing her ground and witnessing to her Christian faith.
Marriage between a man and a woman is scriptural and God’s design and a picture of the gospel.
I pray that her name would remain on the Margaret Court Arena, as a sign that people can disagree agreeably in Australia – and no view needs to enforce its own hegemonic grip through petty bullying tactics. The pressure that has been put on the Christian Church by the gay lobby only makes things worse for LGBTQI Christians like myself who are trying to bring a subtler, but far more profound change in the Church. You heap pressure on faithful Christians like me, most of whom hide themselves away. But we are part of you – we are just as ‘gay’ but we don’t have gay relationships.
We are defined by our relationship with Christ; we have had lives that are just as hard and if not harder as a minority within a minority. We are not trying to change the Church’s theology, but agree with it. Marriage between a man and a woman is scriptural and God’s design and a picture of the gospel. But we are trying to change a deeper ethic, bringing a revival to the Church’s worship life, which has for too long enshrined the idols of romanticised notions of love, money and middle-class life, which denies many from the gospel whether refugees, the poor, people of other cultures, religions and ethnicities, and LGBTQI people.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul drives this point home – you can have correct theology, the right knowledge on an issue – but unless you have love you are a clanging cymbal, a resounding gong (1 Corinthians 13:1).
I am grateful for conservative voices which do not err in faith and doctrine, but this is not sufficient. I am calling Christian leaders to go a step much further, the second mile. Leaders like Margaret Court need to preach the gospel of God’s love for gay people above all their other priorities and to repent of the Church’s austere silence and cowardice in showing that love toward the gay community and its idolatry of marriage as some apotheosising relationship that brings you into the “in crowd”. We as a Church need to get on our knees in humility and love the gay community even if it throws vitriol back our way. The Church needs its heart to be broken for the gay community.
Humble yourselves and love people different to you, especially Christians.
I am calling Australian Christian leaders and LGBTQI activists to realise there is a minority within a minority: Christian gay or same-sex attracted people that have given their sexuality to Christ. We are getting on with our lives in celibacy or grace-given inter-orientation marriages (often quite happily!). Give us a voice, listen to us and open your churches and organisations and media outlets to us – stop being fearful or ignoring our presence.
To the Christian lobby I say, you aren’t going to represent all of us if you don’t recognise all of us – the greatest minority are people like myself. Represent us too, not just marriage rights. Understand a different paradigm to yours. Humble yourselves and love people different to you, especially Christians.
Church, you are never going to bring the millions of LGBTQI people in the world into the love of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ by making heterosexual marriage a moral law that distances them from the gospel. We must embed all that we say as Christians first in the cross of Jesus Christ, which is love given for all, but particularly those who are traditionally understood as the farthest from it. God knows, we all were.
David Bennett will be telling his story from being an anti-Christian gay rights activist to meeting God in a pub in “A War of Loves” published by Zondervan next year. He is completing postgraduate studies in theology this year in Oxford.