Next week the result of the postal survey on so-called “same-sex marriage” will be released. While the debate has been an important one, I must admit that I for one will be happy to see the end of it.
However, it is now worth thinking about a Christian response to the outcome. I am not a political pundit so it is no use me even trying to predict the outcome. So let’s think about the different possibilities.
If the ‘No’ vote is the majority, then in many ways Christian’s attitudes and actions should not change at all. It will be a pleasant surprise that more Australians are conservative on the issue than many think, but that doesn’t mean they are any closer to God. For Christians we will just get on with the job of preaching Christ and offering salvation to all people. We will also need to keep walking that line of declaring the truth of God’s word on homosexual practice while showing love and grace to all. However, it would be surprising if a ‘No’ win was accepted by those in favour and so in all likelihood the debates will continue.
If the ‘Yes’ vote is the majority then it is likely “same-sex marriage” will become law very quickly. In that short window Christians should continue to lobby for the safeguarding of religious freedoms and freedom of speech within the legislation, while accepting that this is the will of the people.
However, the question remains: once it does become law, how should we respond? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Accept the decision of the people and the government. In the end this is not the main battle for Christians. This is not the hill on which we want to die. While it has been up for debate, it has been right for Christians to express our democratic right and speak against same-sex marriage out of our desire to do what is best for society. However, we should not expect that a world that does not know Jesus would want to live God’s way. Sometimes laws will reflect Christian ideals but increasingly they won’t. This will just be the next example of that last type of law. As always, we should submit to our government while ever that does not compromise our submission to Christ.
2) Continue to hold to and teach the truth of God’s word (on this and every topic) even if it does go against the law of the land. It will need real courage over the next few years to continue to say that homosexual practice is sinful and unacceptable. Increasingly, Christians will be under pressure to agree that homosexual activity is good, or at the very least, keep silent. We need to pray that Christians will not bend on this issue. If you are not convinced of the reality of this, please look up the case of the Christian Social Work student in England who was expelled from his university course for daring to post on Facebook that he believed homosexual activity was a sin.
3) Think through the difficult ethical decisions that this will raise. Once “same sex marriage” becomes law it will then become illegal to ‘discriminate’ against same-sex couples. This raises all sorts of questions for Christians:
• How should a Christian teacher react when required to teach a positive view of homosexual practice if that is part of the curriculum?
• Should a Christian attend a ‘wedding’ of a friend or family member, or should we not attend to show that we do not agree?
These are the sort of ethical decisions we will need to make and we will need to be careful not to base them on emotional responses (either way) but instead on trusting in the authority of Scripture.
4) Continue to pray for our country. Of course in the end, this decision is not the most important thing for us. More than anything we long that people come to know Jesus. So whatever the result, let’s get on with praying for our nation that people would find salvation in Christ.