Brian Houston set an example to follow for many church leaders recently when he issued a media release outlining his teaching on Biblical marriage and encouragement for Christians to vote against its redefinition. He reiterated the literal interpretation of the Apostle Paul’s position on homosexuality, and called for respect from both sides for the other, clarifying that disagreement based in faith convictions is not bigotry. He encouraged Christians to participate in the voluntary vote, and to refuse to be the silent majority, in effect surrendering to aggressive voices seeking to dominate the future of our society.
Christians are already being discomforted by cultural Marxism‘s advance in Australia. Just ask Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous how free he feels to teach on marriage after being punished by the process of an anti-discrimination complaint against him for doing so. Ask Bernard Gaynor how free he feels to privately blog about the injustice and offense of Christian vilification and public indecency at the Homosexual Mardis Gras after the court ruled his employer could unjustly fire him for disagreeing with their workplace anti discrimination policies.
Rest assured, the persecution of Christians for public or professional expressions of their religious and political convictions is already here and will only rise exponentially in the wake of the redefinition of marriage. Will it be the end of the world? Of course not. The Church has been persecuted since it was born in the Roman occupied world, and has actually done better and grown faster in such conditions. But this could be the last chance we have to stop the march of totalitarianism, costing the nation and neighbours we love their personal liberty and freedom of speech we regard as vital to our inclusive democracy.
That said, it is now imperative that pastors around the nation teach their people the proper way to represent Christ in this plebiscite – because far too many simply do not know. It’s gut wrenching how many people are justifying the attack on marriage and family by their ‘faith’. The people are casting off restraint for the lack of revelation, or as other translations of Proverbs 29:18 put it, perishing for the lack of vision.
The solution for bad ideas and doctrine is good teaching, and so the following is intended as a resource and support for the difficult and somewhat perilous task at hand. It is assumes the reader is a Christian leader and can find / is familiar with all the Scriptural references for the sake of brevity, otherwise this resource could be a book. At the bottom of this article is a draft letter I’ve provided for you to copy and use any part or all of in whatever way you prefer.
I am also available for consultation and even invitations without charge. Mid week meetings are popular with most churches. You can contact me via Facebook and arrange a private phone call or video call.
Jesus did teach on marriage.
Here’s a common misconception that needs to be clarified. People often say that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Look, if people are going to dismiss or ignore the abundantly clear and numerous occasions throughout the Bible before the Law, in the Law, and after the Law in the New Covenant where homosexuality is included in immorality and against God’s design (sin), then they probably don’t care what Jesus said either (or they haven’t come across them). So feel free to list at least the New Testament prohibitions, but I feel Jesus’ authority is a debate ender if someone actually cares about Scripture or Jesus as eternal authority. Hopefully most people in our congregations can say they still do!The Pharisees came to Him with a narrow and specific question about ‘no fault’ divorce. In His answer, He quoted the Genesis 2 narrative about God’s unique design, without ‘equal’, for marriage. His audience had absolutely no doubt that Jesus confirmed that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman till death do them part. This not only excluded their ‘no fault’ divorce scenario, but also excluded polygamy, incest, adultery, fornication, prostitution and of course homosexuality. In fact it implicitly excluded anything other than one man and one woman for life. Jesus also referred to Sodom & Gomorrah multiple times, an unambiguous reference to the immorality of homosexuality to His audience. So Jesus did teach on homosexuality, even if not mentioning it explicitly. It’s apparent absence is not a valid argument from silence.The word homosexual was only first used in 1868, by the way, and didn’t appear in Bibles until 1946, in accordance with useful translation practices. This doesn’t diminish the relevance of Jesus’ teaching and confirmation of the uniqueness and eternal relevance of God’s design for marriage. If anything, it confirms His audience wouldn’t have even known what that word was – not that He even attempted to list everything necessarily excluded by God’s unique design.
By the way…Contrary to some opinions making the rounds, advocating for the traditional definition of marriage does not compromise our ability to evangelise. The Good News of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus preached, is as indispensibly about Truth and justice as it is about grace and mercy. Attempting to reduce the offensiveness of the Gospel is to reduce the Gospel, and that is not at our discretion.Hence Jesus warned us to not be surprised if the world hates us because it hated Him first. We are called to be salt, which sometimes stings, but also brings healing and adds a distinct flavour. We are called to be light, which those in darkness may initially squint at or shield their eyes from, but it brings illumination and reveals. We are called to be a city set on a hill, unapologetic and immovable, yet offering a place for everyone.
What this debate isn’t about.
The advocates of redefining marriage and family like to frame the debate in a way that emotionally manipulates people who like to think of themselves as compassionate and just to ignore all the many consequences of redefining marriage.
They call it ‘Marriage Equality’ so if you disagree with their demands, they’ve positioned you as being opposed to ‘equality’. The fact is there is no inequality, and so boasted Tanya Pliberseck in 2008 when 85 laws were changed to remove all inequality in law between heterosexual and homosexual de facto relationships. [source]
They claim, “Love is love,” as if the debate is about love and the validation of that love and even their own dignity by government. Government has never been in the business of validating feelings, and cannot grant or deny human dignity. We understand that all people, regardless of behaviour or feelings, are created equal in the image of God. Homosexual couples are no more ‘second class citizens’ (another illogical appeal to emotion) than other de facto couples are, inlcuding former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson.
They insist homosexual marriage is a ‘human right’. This is also designed to manipulate emotions, as who wants to oppose a human right? Christians certainly don’t! But this simply isn’t true – it isn’t a human right. Such a claim is a legal argument, and not even a valid one. The most ‘progressive’ secular court in the world, the European Court of Human Rights, ruled that homosexual marriage is not a human right. [source]
They claim this debate is simply and only about homosexual marriage – that there will be no consequences, no flow on effects, no wider ramifications for society. This is the most pernicious and dangerous claim of all, and a total lie. This debate is about many, many other, vitally important things.
What this debate is about.
It’s no news to Christians that God designed marriage as the foundation of family. We understand that attacks on marriage via adultery and ‘no fault’ divorce are also spiritual attacks on the soul of society. Fatherlessness in particular has varying devastating effects on society. Single mums are amazing parents working in tragic conditions, so the following facts aren’t a comment on their generally remarkable ability, but rather the fact that all the love and care in the world cannot replace the broken biological bond every child needs to have with their own father.
- At least 70% (and up to 87%) of convicted criminals did not grow up with both parents. [source]
- 85% of youths in prison (20 times the average) are from fatherless homes.
- 63% of youth suicides (5 times the average) are from fatherless homes.
- 71% of high school drop outs (9 times the average) are from fatherless homes.
- 75% of adolescents in rehab’ (10 times the average) are from fatherless homes. [source]
Daughters of single parents without a father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves. [source]
God thinks fatherlessness is a massive justice issue, and He expects the Church to be concerned with it as well. The “fatherless” are referred to at least 42 times in Scripture, which I’ve taken the time list here if you’re interested. I think it’s compelling. [read more]
There is simply no academic dispute that children raised with broken biological bonds, whether from death, divorce or desertion, don’t have as good emotional or educational outcomes as children raised in homes with their married biological parents – on average. Of course this isn’t doom or gloom for parents who find themselves tragically in these situations. They’re doing the best anyone can given the circumstances, but single parents, step parents and adoptive parents didn’t design their child’s life this way, and that’s the most important point in a child-centred debate.
Kids aren’t pets. A person prioritising their future children’s needs wouldn’t deliberately deny their child their own mother or father to satisfy their own emotions and desires – but redefining marriage inevitably will.
Redefining marriage is about competing rights.
Marriage doesn’t only involve adults. It normally – and legislation deals with norms, not exceptions – involves children. In fact, that is a human right, once married, granted in 1948 by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. [source] It defines marriage as a compound right to marry and to found a family.
Australian ethicist Margaret Somerville explains this much better than me. [source]
I wish that I could support same-sex marriage and I have “moral regret” that I can’t. When we feel ethically bound to take a position that we know will cause hurt to others, we should – and I do – regret the hurt that causes.
If we believe that children, including those who will be gay as adults, have a right to a mother and a father, preferably their own biological parents, and, if at all possible, to be reared by them, then we cannot support same-sex marriage because it abolishes this right. It’s true this right is not always honoured, but society does not intentionally plan that outcome, which it would do in making same-sex marriage part of the norm.
Same-sex marriage also raises flow-on ethical issues.
Married gay male couples are a substantial proportion of surrogacy users. They object to legal prohibitions on commercial surrogacy, such as those in Canada, as breaching the right given to them by marriage to found a family, as altruistic surrogates are very difficult to find. Whatever our views on the ethics of surrogacy itself, we prohibit payment of surrogates since it borders on selling babies or children, which is prohibited because, like slavery, in making children into a commodity, it disrespects the children involved and children, in general.
The ethical doctrine of “anticipated consent” provides that in making a decision that has serious impact on persons unable to give their own consent, we must be able to reasonably anticipate that if they were present they would consent. Would children consent to being deprived of a mother or a father? Many people deprived of their biological father by being born from anonymous sperm donation tell us that they would not have consented. They describe themselves as “genetic orphans”; they say “half of me is missing”; and they ask “how could society have allowed this to happen to me?” Likewise, would they consent to being born of a surrogate mother or created from two men or two women?
Deciding whether to legalize same-sex marriage involves dealing with a clash between adults’ claims and children’s needs and rights. In such cases, a truly humane ethics requires choosing in favour of the weakest, most in need, most vulnerable persons. Clearly children belong to this category and they need marriage to remain the union of one man and one woman. It’s argued that children in same-sex households also need married parents, but that is not possible if the rights of children, in general, with respect to their parents and family structure are to be upheld.
That should be enough, but there’s more.
This is effectively a referendum on Safe Schools. In brief summary, this sneaky curriculum is child abuse, plain and simple. It grooms children all the way through school to be sexually promiscuous, confused, and to accept gender theory as fact. Gender theory posits that gender is fluid, not fixed, and something you feel: totally unrelated to biology. It suggests that the doctor or midwife exclaiming, “It’s a girl!” is some kind of oppression creating victims of everyone.
When Senator Dean Smith’s legislation to change the definition of marriage was drafted, it chose clever wording intended to support the normalisation of the fake science of gender theory.
“The term ‘same-sex marriage’ should be read to include a marriage of two people regardless of their sex or gender, where the union is not that of a man and a woman.” [source]
After this passes here, like already the case elsewhere, disagreeing from your pulpit that there are 112 genders will eventually be deemed hate speech. “Misgendering” someone will now potentially earn you jail time in California and all of Canada.
God designed our sexuality and gender as sacred. We soon won’t have the freedom to discuss this doctrine and it’s beautiful implications for humanity if the definition of marriage is changed in law. It’s not fear-mongering – it’s precedent in Western democratic nations. As you can see, it’s not just religious liberty, but personal freedoms of speech and political expression which are also dealt serious blows in the wake of redefining marriage.
A Pastoral Letter
Some ways of providing good teaching are to preach on marriage or the fatherless this Sunday morning, or to hold a mid week meeting where those interested and less likely to be offended by Truth and traditional Christian teaching will be more likely to come than those who would rather not be challenged or have their heresy corrected.
Let’s be honest, that’s what’s really going on. But the goal is to bring people with you, not just shove Truth down their throat. In fact, a mid week meeting lends itself to modelling intellectual honesty, the posture that challenges are not insults or anything to be afraid of. You can demonstrate grace and patience in a civil forum allowing more of a dialogue than a Sunday sermon may. Of course, you can also do this on a Sunday morning, but that service generally attracts people who may simply find a church willing to prioritise feelings over facts. As stated above, I’m at your service to be of whatever service you feel I may, and will always be sensitive to your congregation’s culture and submitted to your authority as its shepherd.
Here’s a draft letter you can make your own without regard to copyright to send to your congregation. It’s a little long, but I want you to feel free to delete or add whatever you want.
I urge you to faithfully represent Christ during the ongoing debate and vote about redefining marriage. Although the Bible’s position on marriage is clear and the Church’s doctrine has been consistent since Paul wrote His epistles, many people disagree for often sincere and heart felt reasons. Please take the time to read 1 Peter, especially chapter 3 for reminders on how we answer the questions we’re asked in these days.
Please also pray for our nation, remembering that God remains sovereign in every age and season, and that we ultimately know that His second coming is the world’s greatest hope. Pray that marriage and family would be protected from all attacks, and that voters and leaders would make decisions with wisdom from heaven and justice for the most vulnerable amongst us.
But where the options to speak and act for justice and Truth exist, prayer alone is not all that is required of us. We must also speak and act. Isaiah 1:17 is one of many, many Scriptures exhorting God’s people to, “Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor, defend the fatherless, and plead for the widow.”
Our leaders and liberal democracy have also invited our involvement. Although the postal vote is optional, space has been made for our voices to be heard, and how can we as salt and light turn down the opportunity to be heard in both the debate and the vote?
Jesus taught that marriage was as God designed in the beginning, uniquely and exclusively between one man and one woman for life. This excluded all other sexual behaviours outside of this design. This is God’s best for everyone, and love compels our concern and compassion for people experiencing less than God’s best for them. We unconditionally accept and love everyone equally as they are, understanding that all have fallen short of God’s glory.
We rejoice that in 2008 all inequality in law was removed with 85 changes to existing legislation. All heterosexual and homosexual couples have enjoyed complete equality since then. Julia Gillard and her partner proved that de facto couples are not second class citizens. The very ‘progressive’ and secular European Court of Human Rights ruled that homosexual marriage is not a human right. The 1948 Universal Charter of Human Rights, Article 16 state that marriage is a compound right always including the right to found a family, and that means marriage is always equally about children as it is adults.
The current debate in media largely dismisses concerns for the fatherless or motherless households redefining marriage will inevitably create, but that is not something Christians can do. There are no less than 23 Scriptures demonstrating we should share God’s concern for the fatherless. Sociologists and countless reliable studies tell us that, on average, children raised with their married biological mother and father do better than those raised in households with broken biological bonds. It’s consistent to predict that children raised with deliberately broken biological bonds would also, on average, have poorer emotional and educational outcomes.
This is perhaps the most important reason to vote NO to the question on whether or not to redefine marriage. We cannot knowingly create future children to be raised in homes without their mother or their father. Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not to insult or criticise the love or care of single parents, step parents, adoptive parents, or homosexual parents. It is only to state the fact that wherever possible, it is in the child’s best interest to be raised by their natural mother and father. Tragedies sadly happen too often, such as death, divorce, and desertion. Let’s not be the Church that voted for such homes by deliberate design, and do our best to be a support to those who had no choice.
This is not just a question about marriage. We have seen in America, England and Canada that Western democracies rapidly lose freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of political expression after the redefinition of marriage. We’ve already seen pastors in Australia punished by the process of complaints to Anti Discrimination Tribunals for simply publishing gentle, traditional teaching on what the Bible says about marriage. We must not imagine for a second it won’t get much worse after marriage is redefined if we fail to oppose this bad law now.
We must vote. We must vote NO. We must no longer be the silent majority, but fulfill our mandate to be salt, light, and a city set on a hill, immovable as representatives of Christ – even if the world hates us for it, remembering it hated Him first.