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One of the current social issues that dominates our cultural landscape (again!) is the controversial subject of same-sex marriage. The advocates of this relational lifestyle have rallied their supporters and they are a loud and influential voice in our communities.

At the same time numerous Christian and/or religious groups (or just concerned people) have gone to great lengths to call fellow believers up to the plate in opposing the endeavours of their opponents. We have been urged to write letters, send emails, make 'phone calls, visit our parliamentary representatives in an attempt to apply influence & pressure on those who make the decisions relating to such issues.

Let me say right up front that I am opposed to same-sex marriage for reasons that I will mention shortly.  I would also say that I applaud the endeavours of those who call us to action in any of the forms mentioned above.

However, my concern in all this debate about same-sex marriage is the negative attitudes that some of our spokespersons appear to bring to the debate. I know this is a generalisation but what I witness in the media is that often we embrace an attitude that alienates us from those who hold opposing views.
In other words, if another person holds an opposing point of view on this subject, we often react as though we must reject them, alienate them, expose them and ridicule them. This seems to me to be a very unproductive response and less than the spirit of Jesus as seen in the way He related to those who held to different values and lifestyles.

Is our motivation to win the argument, to prove the other person wrong?  Or is our attitude as we engage in debate to explain clearly and give the reasons for the position we hold, to present a reasoned context for our convictions on this issue (and any others, for that matter).  We are not responsible for the attitude of those who oppose us. They may be gracious or embittered, teachable or closed-minded, ignorant or well versed in their convictions. We ARE responsible for our attitude.
I might be an idealist but I would like to think that I could sit down with someone who believes in same-sex marriage, discuss the subject in a respectful manner and at the conclusion of that time, to agree to disagree (if that is where we end up) and go on our way, each having a clearer understanding of the other person's position.

So, when I engage in discussion with an advocate of same-sex marriage, my goal is two-fold.
First, to respectfully listen their position or conviction seeking to hear any aspect of truth or insight that may be missing from my own understanding. The further I travel down this road of discipleship the more important it is to have a teachable spirit. The second part of my goal is to explain rationally and clearly what it is I believe and why I believe it.

I am not trying to win an argument or ridicule my opponent. Even if neither of us shifts one millimetre  in our respective convictions, I hope we could part having begun to build a foundation of respect for each other as a person. I think anything less than that suggests that we are not really secure with our convictions and have to employ strategies that are negative and destructive towards those who think differently to us.

Take the current debate regarding same-sex marriage. The summary of my position which opposes same -sex marriage is as follows.
1. I seek to be a follower, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2.  As such, I am committed to follow His teaching as I understand it at any point in time.
3. When it comes to the questions of marriage, divorce, same-sex marriage and homosexuality,
Jesus' teaching is based on this foundational principle:
But God's plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for 'He made them male and female.'   This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together."  Mark 10:6-9 NLT.

4. While it is true that Jesus never used the term 'same-sex marriage' or 'homosexuality', it is inaccurate and misleading to suggest or imply that these were non-issues for Him. When the subject of marriage and divorce came up, Jesus referred the question and the questioner to what God originally intended in the Creation Initiative. i.e. "....He created them male and female...."
5. Because I accept the authority of Jesus, I necessarily accept His teaching about these subjects.

Of course, the most predictable response to the foundation of my conviction is¸ "But I don't accept the authority of this Jesus whom you follow".  Frankly, that is the real issue here. Do we yield to the authority of Jesus or not?  If "Yes", then that surrender informs our lifestyle and belief system from then on. If "No", then I expect that there will be little, if anything, upon which we agree.

Yet even in disagreement there remains the need to respect and accept that this is where they stand. Whether I try to "convert" them to my way of thinking on this subject is a whole other issue. I don't have to defend the Word of God. I don't have to apologise for what I believe. If God doesn't do all that, it's a pretty sure thing I won't be able to do it!!

My bottom line is this: If we accept Jesus' teaching as mandatory we will always clash with those who don't accept that authority. We march to the beat of a different drum. Of course we will be out of step with a world view that rejects the right of Jesus Christ to speak in to our lives.

There are few things more amusing than watching a military parade in which everyone is out of step! There are few things more tragic than to watch a Church trying to get in step with a world that is marching  away from God.

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