The following thoughts are presented to you by the Eltham Baptist Leadership as a resource to help you think through the upcoming postal plebiscite.

There are a number of issues here, but it is important to remember that there is both the plebiscite itself, and the discussion around the plebiscite.

 Many Christians have felt misunderstood by others and misrepresented by the media. However, it is important that we do not react but rather respond by speaking the truth in love. Our hearts go out to those who are same-sex attracted and who feel unfairly caught up in what has become a very heated and emotionally-charged debate. Our earnest prayer is that, whatever the result, they come to know there is a God who sees and loves them.

 

Regarding the plebiscite

When it comes to the topic of marriage, it’s helpful to remember that there is a difference between the ‘idea’ and the ‘institution.’

  • From a Christian perspective, the book of Genesis clearly teaches that the idea of marriage is God’s idea and it is to be between a man and a woman.[1]
  • The institution of marriage, its function within society, and its foundation for the family is found in many countries and cultures throughout history. Interestingly, it is almost universally between a man and a woman. Whilst homosexuality also goes way back, it has almost universally been seen as a departure from traditional marriage. Certainly, that is the case from the Judeo-Christian perspective.
  • The institution of marriage in Western society is an inheritance from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
  • Western nations that have adopted the notion of ‘same-sex marriage’ should be honest and admit that this is not the norm. More countries do not recognise SSM (172)[2] than do (23). When we speak of having a “more evolved” or “enlightened” understanding of marriage than other countries, it smacks of cultural superiority.

The question in the media[3] has been, “What right do Christians[4] have to impose their ideal of marriage on other Australians?”

Whilst our attempts to answer this question will not satisfy everyone, the following points may help explain our position:

  • The institution as it currently stands reflects the Judeo-Christian ideal – an ideal that Christians readily commend.
  • Christians recognise that not every Australian, however, embraces that ideal, and our society is therefore faced with at least two options:
    • to create an alternate institution that reflects an alternate ideal, or
    • to alter the existing institution to reflect an alternate ideal.
  • Both of the above result in an alternate ideal. For Christians, the redefining of the institution, redefines the ideal and, for many, represents an unavoidable compromise.
  • Whilst we do not wish to impose our ideal upon anyone, many Christians feel caught in a bind: “How can we endorse an institutional change that is inconsistent with the Christian ideal?”

In summary: whilst seeking to love all people – including those who are same-sex attracted – we conclude that to endorse the institutional change as proposed, would represent a compromise of the biblical ideal.

The postal plebiscite allows all Australians the freedom of conscience and at the same time protects another cherished freedom: freedom of religion (another value inherited from the Judeo-Christian tradition). And that’s hard to put a price on. Just ask the recently arrived refugees.

 

Footnotes:

[1] This is not only the historical teaching of Christianity, but remains the teaching held by the vast majority of Christians worldwide, including Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Evangelical Christians. Interestingly, recent alternate narratives have failed to gain any credible traction.

[2] Only countries recognised by the UN have been included in these figures.

[3] The level of media accord on this topic is almost unprecedented and more than a little alarming.

[4] According to the latest census, 59% of the population would describe themselves as Christian. Whether a majority or a minority, every Australian deserves a voice.

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