Sitting on my counter at home right now is an envelope from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, containing a survey question asking whether Australia should legalise same-sex marriage. It’s been a long road getting to this point, with many political turns along the way. The question is one that has been raised several times over the last few years. And, unfortunately, this is an issue where the Christian church has been seen to be unloving, unkind and ungracious. Christians are perceived by many to be hard-hearted, homophobic haters and bigots. We have, rightly or wrongly, acquired a bad reputation.
Interestingly, Jesus also had a bad reputation. But it was the religious elite who despised Him… at least in part for speaking God’s love to those they thought beneath God’s love and care.
This morning, we’re considering what the Christian response – God’s response – is to people who identify as gay and to the question of gay marriage.
We’ll briefly ask what the Old Testament says about homosexuality, and then consider how it relates to the whole question of the wrath of God from Paul’s discussion in Romans 1:18ff. Is Paul actually saying that homosexuality is the worst of all sins imaginable, and a cause of God’s wrath, his holy anger, against humanity?
Continuing with Paul, we’ll explore whether heterosexually oriented people are better in God’s sight than homosexually oriented people.
There are many churches today who embrace the LGBT identity, and celebrate the gay lifestyle as a valid lifestyle under God. We’ll try and figure out how God actually feels about gay people, and ask whether it’s possible to be a gay Christian. And, if it is, what that looks that in practice?
Finally, we’ll spend just a few minutes considering the best way for us Christians to respond to the question of same-sex marriage. Should we be loudly protesting? Should we be seeking to enforce a Christian morality in our country? How would Jesus approach matters of Godliness in a society like ours?
This is at once a complex and a simple issue. But at the heart of the gospel – and our response to same-sex marriage and the LGBT community must surely be this: God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have everlasting life.
The follow pastoral letter was written by my brother-in-law, David Wager, from Collie Baptist. With his permission, I think it’s helpful to share it with our church as well:
Dear friends, family and whoever this pops up on your newsfeed and takes the time to read it thank you.
Picture a couple of children sitting on a sofa fighting over an x-box remote. It’s a fierce, bitter battle with neither giving in. However, a bigger issue is the rapidly spreading fire in the kitchen. The game noise from the big screen TV has drowned out the smoke alarm and the kids are in grave danger. What is important in the end is not which child ends up with the remote but who exits the house alive.
This story is a parable with a hidden meaning. The current debate over SSM is like the two children fighting over the remote. The battle in many places is fierce and bitter however I am here to yell out over the whole argument, “FIRE!!!!” There is a bigger picture, there is a greater issue that will make SSM irrelevant in eternity.
The good news is that there is a door and a way out to safety. The bad news is that there is a “fire”. It is the reality that we all will die and give an account of our lives to God. The “fire” is the problem that while we think we are good based on our own standard of goodness, we have no idea of God’s standard of goodness. The greatest command with the corresponding greatest penalty for breaking is: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind and with all your strength.” Even Mother Theresa failed to do this every hour of every day that she lived. You may say, ‘how can I love someone I don’t know?’. Well, I’m glad you asked. Let me make the introduction.
God sent His Son Jesus to become fully human and be the perfect image and representation of the invisible God. In love and mercy, he healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, cleansed the lepers, reached out to the outcast, the lost, the poor, the lonely and the disenfranchised. He even calmed the storm and raised the dead. He went everywhere, showing through deeds and teaching that the Kingdom of God is a wonderful place without decay, where things work as they should, where there is healing, reconciliation, new life and of course love. He also shared many times that outside the Kingdom of God, outside the rightful rule and authority of God where He is acknowledged and respected as the rightful good
King there is a fire that never goes out, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of torment. Everywhere He went he demonstrated the wonders of the Kingdom and finished with a declaration and a challenge. “The kingdom of God has come near to you. Repent and believe.”
The good news is that God has opened the way to Himself through Jesus. There is a way out of the fire by repenting and believing in Jesus. The most wonderful, best part is that Jesus, although innocent has paid the ultimate price to bring us back to God. He gave his life on a Roman cross, spilling his life blood to pay the penalty for all our crimes. He died and rose from the dead on the third day to signify the acceptance of His sacrifice. He lives forevermore and I can tell you that you can know Him personally. One of Jesus’s followers named Paul declares that “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. I can tell you from experience that to know God is to love Him.
So what has this got to do with SSM? Well this is the bigger picture. The question is not what you will vote in the plebiscite, or whether SSM is ultimately inevitable, but do you know the way out of the fire to the door? This will influence your destiny much more in the long run. There is no point in winning a debate, organising life and society in a way that makes you comfortable and then finding you missed out on your path to safety.
And if, like me, you are a Jesus-follower, let’s remember to keep the main thing, the main thing.