God tells us in the Bible that we should always be prepared to give an answer when people question what we believe. We should seek to be true to what God’s word says is true, get to the heart of the real question and be respectful of the questioner. This isn’t always easy is it? One of the questions that the media has been raising constantly is the issue of “homosexual marriage”. It was raised by someone through our website and here’s how I tried to answer it. Maybe you can improve on my answer when you discuss the issue with your friends. I’ve edited it slightly for publication. The questioner asked:
“Given the debate on at the moment, do you truly consider marriage to be defined as being between a man and a women or is it about love, therefore allowing same-sex couples to marry?”
Thanks for the question. I recognise it’s both a complex question and one that has very personal impact on people. I’ll try to give a short answer (which runs the risk of being simplistic) and say I’m happy if you want to chat more on the issue to “dialogue” with me. There are many issues that concern me about government policy and this issue is just one of many. I’m concerned that it appears the US Christian right are obsessed with the issue of homosexuality, above all others. But let me make the following points.
1) Our society currently restricts marriage to certain groups and allows it for others. So marriage is restricted by age, by relationship (parents and children etc), gender (must be opposite sex) species (ie. human can’t marry their pet), and by number (ie. despite many other cultures and countries permitting polygamy – Australia doesn’t). So the issue here isn’t whether any restrictions should be placed on who we marry, but what restrictions are right.
2) Australian culture and laws, including the marriage act, have been deeply shaped by Christian values and beliefs. It is often said that “Australia is a secular country and therefore faith arguments have no place in this or other debates about law or policy”. But this is patently wrong. Firstly, it’s wrong because Australia is a deeply religious society. The large majority still believe in God and believe that this should shape people’s values and behaviour. But we have an agreed secular state ie. church and state are rightly separated. As Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world”. Secondly, every citizen of any faith or no faith has the right in this democracy to lobby government and try to convince them of the rightness of their view. So it is totally appropriate for the Christian or Moslem to argue from their faith that homosexual marriage or eating whales or invading Iraq, isn’t right.
3) My belief and that of our church is that God has clearly communicated his will, and how life works best, in the Bible. The Bible makes it clear that living in a homosexual relationship goes against his design for human beings. The argument, that “this is the way I was made and so it’s natural for me”, I don’t believe holds weight. The same argument could be used to argue that things, that we all agree are wrong and should be resisted, could be right and natural eg. alcoholism, violence, paedophilia, narcissism etc. So just because a person may have a “natural inclination” towards something clearly doesn’t make it either right or God’s design for that person. I’m happy to look at what the Bible says more deeply on the issue.
4) I realise there are some Christians who are wrestling with their own same sex attraction, some of whom sincerely believe that being actively homosexual is not against God’s will. I am simply unconvinced that this is God’s will and teaching.
Is this helpful? Do you want to chat further? I’d be interested in knowing your view point? Thanks for taking the time to seek and read mine.