Barnabas Network International | Online Resources for Churches

LIFE ISSUES

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, has had a change of heart regarding same-sex marriage. He has abandoned his opposition to it and is now in favour of the recognition of this style of relationship .

There is a noticeable level of cynicism in the community that questions the motivation for this decision and especially the timing. Be that as it may, he is a high profile figure in the community and his change of heart will be noted and highlighted by the 'pro same-sex lobby' in order to add weight to their case.

Right up front let me affirm that I continue to oppose the legalisation of same-sex marriage. If you are interested in my reasons all you need to do is type 'same-sex marriage' in the search box on the page which you are now reading and that will take you to a number of articles that outline why I hold to this position.

I read what Kevin said in his public statement and there is one phrase that he used that I believe is critical to this whole debate but it rarely gets any recognition. The phrase or term is "the  Australian secular state".

The fact is that we are a secular state or nation. We may have had a Christian foundation or a religious heritage but, in my opinion, that has little influence today. I believe in the separation of Church and State which, among other things, means that the Church can't legislate the laws, values, conduct etc. of the state. What it does mean is that the Church is called upon to speak with a prophetic voice into the conscience and values of the state and seek to persuade the hearts and minds of those who are elected to make the laws.

I was once asked, "Do you think the Church is out of step with the world?" Given that the world (i.e. State) is now largely secular, my answer was, "I certainly hope so!" If we march to the beat of a different drum, we will be out of step with this world. If we hold to a set of values that belong to another realm or kingdom, it follows that our convictions will be different which, in turn, leads to different behaviour and lifestyles.

Frankly, the fact that we are now a secular state is due, in large measure, to the failure of the Church to be the Church in the community. We have allowed ourselves to become comfortable in what we saw as a Christian country with values that we assumed would go unchallenged. But while we slept, things have happened. The forces that stand opposed to our religious heritage have rallied together and, exploiting the sleepy state of the Church, have made great gains in fulfilling their agenda. (Do you recall the movie, "While You Were Sleeping"?)

The Church in the community is meant to be like salt and light. Salt flavours the taste and light exposes the dangers in the darkness. We represent a different kingdom. Our methods are firm but gentle: persuasion, not imposition. We are motivated by love, not bigotry. We seek to be valuable members of our society, not withstanding that we will not compromise our convictions if we find ourselves confronted with situations that challenge our beliefs and demand that we surrender them and live according to the this world's law.

When it comes to an issue like same-sex marriage, those who are opposed to such a lifestyle must realise that it is the elected government of the nation that makes the laws, not the Church. While that is true, the Church must wake up and, with that prophetic voice mentioned earlier, speak into the life and values of the nation.  We must be able to give a reasoned explanation for the position we hold in both its positive and negative expressions. Sadly, we in the Church have not been credible witnesses to our communities. There are exceptions of course but, in general terms, the State doesn't take the Church seriously.

The Church must speak with well-thought reason. It must present its case with due respect towards its opponents. Peter gives us good counsel when he says:

"........you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. 16 But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear." (1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT)

 

 

 

 

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