61% of Australians have just voted “Yes” to same-sex marriage. This should have been no surprise. All the opinion polls showed that the majority of Australians supported gay marriage. I really do not understand why so many Christians wanted a referendum on the issue when it was obvious we were going to lose. Perhaps they were putting their hope in the tradition of Australians voting “No” in referenda.
It seems that many Christians have been under the delusion that Australia is a Christian nation and there is still a silent majority out there which still shares our values. The plebiscite result should make it clear this is not the case.
Christians in Australia can no longer feel they have legitimacy or the moral high ground because they are part of the majority. Most Australians do not agree with us. They are not trying to be immoral or anti-Christian when they support gay marriage. They think it is normal. They do not understand what the problem is. What the Bible says means nothing to them. Many not only just think we are wrong, they think we are immoral, dangerous intolerant bigots. Hopefully, losing the plebiscite will wake Christians up and get them thinking about what they are going to do about it.
Christians cannot really lose because God is always sovereign. The Bible says that God “is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:32). Even the Antichrist can only act because God lets him (Revelation 13:5-7). Nothing happens in politics unless God lets it happen. The same-sex marriage plebiscite only succeeded because God in His sovereignty allowed it.
However, God is not on our side. His goal is not to support our family values political agenda. His goal is for us to draw near to Him and become more Christ-like. Losing the plebiscite may be the way for that to happen. Like every other bad thing that happens to Christians, we should see it as an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and become more Christ-like (James 1:2-4).
Opponents of same-sex marriage were concerned that it will result in restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. According to the Senate Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill, churches and Christian organisations will be able to refuse to participate in same-sex marriages, however the rights of individual Christians in secular businesses and organisations is less clear (p 51-63). It does not look like a Christian working in a bakery will be allowed to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding which they do not believe in.
I can understand that a Christian might not want to bake a cake for a gay wedding because they believe it is against the Bible. However, Christians need to remember this goes both ways. If we want the right to discriminate and not support gay marriages because we believe it is wrong, we should not complain if supporters of gay marriage want to discriminate against us because they believe we are wrong and do not support “equality”.
On the other hand, would a Christian baker refuse to bake a cake for a heterosexual wedding where the man has left his wife so he could marry another woman (Matthew 19:9)? Christians need to be consistent in their conscientious objections, rather than just single out gays.
If Christians in the wedding industry find they have no choice but to act against their beliefs, then perhaps they may have to get out and find other careers. There are some careers and industries which Christians cannot be a part of because they are hostile to Christian beliefs and values. Maybe the wedding industry has to be added to that list.
Despite all the assurances to the contrary, I believe same-sex marriage will result in restrictions on freedom of religion and speech as it has already in the United States and the United Kingdom. Many Christians in the West seem to have a “how dare they persecute us” mentality – a Christian version of the victim mentality of the politically correct. They assume we are supposed to keep fighting for our rights. This really does not gel with Jesus’ teaching, that we should go the extra mile for those who oppress us (Matthew 5:41).
It is the norm for Christians to experience persecution (John 15:18-25, 2 Timothy 3:12). The freedom which Christians in the West have enjoyed is abnormal. When we compare the dying, complacent materialistic churches in the West with the thriving persecuted churches in Third World countries, it is apparent that our freedom has not been good for us. Quite frankly, a bit of persecution would be a good thing, even though any persecution we experience over same-sex marriage would still be trivial compared to what Christians in Communist and Third World countries have suffered.
If others call us bigots and try to take away our rights, we may get angry and want to fight back (or is that just me?). Instead, we should see persecution as an opportunity to draw near to God to draw near to God to give us the strength and grace we need to forgive and love our enemies, which does not come naturally to us. Jesus suffered and died for the sins of those who want to take away our rights. He loves them just as much as he loves us.
Many years ago I read about how Christian parents in the Soviet Union had to send their children to state schools where they were exposed to the atheist anti-Christian curriculum. When the children came home, their parents would “unteach” the propaganda they had been taught during the day and teach them the truth of the Bible. In the media and government schools we are seeing the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism. Christian parents cannot rely on their churches and their children’s programs to counteract this. If Christian children are exposed to one hour at church a week and twenty or more hours of screen time a week, it is obvious which side is going to win the battle for their minds.
Christian parents will need to take a greater role in training up their children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6), passing on their Christian values and beliefs to their children and giving them an identity founded in Christ.
This means more than just telling them homosexuality is wrong. The real threat to the faith of Christian children is not sexuality or gender issues. It is middle class materialism and idolatry. Over the years I have seen numerous people, who have grown up in Christian homes, get jobs, get married, make money, buy a house and then decide they have what they need to be successful and complete and they don’t need God anymore. They may have believed that Jesus died for their sins, but deep down they never truly believed that Jesus made them whole and satisfied their deepest needs. They believed these needs were met by success and materialism. Once they got these things, Jesus became irrelevant. Middle class Christians’ middle class values are a much greater danger to the spiritual welfare of their children (and their parents) than the normalization of homosexuality.
Some Christians are probably hoping that God will judge Australia for its support for gay marriage. If God does decide to judge Australia for its sins, I doubt support for gay marriage will be on the top of His list. Christians should not be so eager to see God judge others, because the New Testament warns that judgement begins in the house of God, that is, the churches (1 Peter 4:17). If God is going to judge Australia for its sins, He will start with the churches.
Any discrimination and persecution which Christians experience as a result of same-sex marriage will only happen because God allows it. We should see it as God’s discipline motivated by His love for us (Hebrews 12:6, Revelation 3:19). If God has to discipline us, we should consider what sins is He disciplining us for?
As I have discussed here, many homosexuals, including Rodney Croome, came from Christian backgrounds. Some Christians, who struggle with homosexual temptations, turn to God for the strength and grace to resist them, and as a result they have a deeper relationship with God. Unfortunately, they appear to be a minority. Many are more likely to feel that the church and God have failed them and cannot help them, so they embrace their temptations rather than struggle against them.
One could argue that the “rise of homosexuality” has been the fault of the churches. I do not mean because the churches did not fight harder for more laws against homosexuality. The churches should have proclaimed that we are all sinners, straight or gay, we are all struggling together against sin and we can all find forgiveness, wholeness and new life in Jesus. Instead, many churches have insisted on radical repentance and transformation for those struggling with homosexuality, but at the same time they do not address the sins of heterosexual immorality and middle class materialism in the churches. We have driven them out and now they have come back , embittered, to get their revenge.
The culture wars are over. We have lost. This can be a good thing (Romans 8:28). As I have said here, Jesus did not give his disciples a political agenda called family values which we are to impose on society. Jesus gave us a Gospel, good news, that even though we are all sinners, we can all find forgiveness and new life in Him. We have become an unpopular minority, like the early church started out in the Roman Empire. They transformed society by showing love and forgiveness to those who despised and persecuted them. We should follow their example.