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Life Issues

So, Australia votes to change the Law to allow the recognition of same-sex marriage. The vote was decisive, comprehensive and unequivocal. We can be thankful for that fact. If the result had been much closer than that, I imagine that the tensions between conflicting ideologies could have been very destructive.

Even now, with such an overwhelming result, there will be those who voted “No”, who will feel this is just another evidence of their country being “sold down the political drain”.

But I now have to work out what is an appropriate response to what is a major shift in the political and moral landscape of our nation. More particularly, as a follower of Jesus, how do I respond to this decision and remain true to my convictions and faithful to my Lord? Does the Bible have anything to say about this subject? Well, look at what Peter wrote:

1 Peter 2:13-18 (NLT) For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state  or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honour those who do right.5  It is God’s will that your honourable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you.  For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.17 Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.
 

Then, to our surprise (and sounding like he was copying from Peter’s notes), Paul wrote virtually the same words:

Romans 13:1-7 (NLT)
1  Every one must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2  So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3  For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honour you. 4  The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of

 

 

punishing those who do what is wrong. 5  So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. 6  Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7  Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honour to those who are in authority.

 

Then, just when we thought we had it all sorted, it seems that Peter has a conflict in his theology. In the earlier passage he is advocating compliance with the rules and regulations of Jewish lifestyle

 

Acts 4:16-22 (NLT)   “What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. 17  But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.”18  So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. 19  But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20  We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
21  The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God22  for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years

 

As I work my way through what appears to be contradictory positions, I find myself with a few incomplete processes. Some things are straight forward. Others refuse to be neatly packaged

 

1.      Peter seems to be saying, “I believe that, more often than not, the social rules and laws are there for the benefit of society and are to be obeyed. They apply to followers of Jesus,

 

2.     However, there will be times when that is not the case ad we will be pressured to act and speak in ways that compromise truth. Peter’s question made the point “Who should we obey, You or God?”

 

3.     A major determining consideration is that, as followers of Jesus, we have a different starting point as we address such issues. We acknowledge the authority of Jesus and His word in our lives. Those who do not recognise His authority will not arrive at the same destination. It’s something like the old man giving directions: “You can’t get there from here. You have to go somewhere else and start”!!

 

4.    Our attitude as followers of Jesus towards those who treat us as antagonists is critical. M y appeal would be for respect to be shown. Without that respect we will never gain a hearing for the gospel

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