Equality?

Australia has finally joined the rest of the world by approving homosexual marriage.

I found it interesting how the cause very quickly morphed from “same sex marriage” to the much more persuasive and user friendly term”marriage equality”.

Who could be against “equality”?

But I suppose there’s nothing more equalizing within human society than sin. “For ALL have sinned…”

I watched The Drum, one of my regular news commentary shows last night and one of the guests uncompromisingly nailed his Christiaphobic colours to the mast – celebrating the passing of the same sex marriage act while expressing his open hostility against “religion” and the church.

People like him don’t see the irony of condemning “homophobia” while at the same time spouting hatred towards believers in God.

Demonised or Celebrated? What is “acceptable” and what isn’t?

 

In the aftermath of the overwhelming support for same sex marriage shown in the Australian postal survey, here are a few inconsistencies to consider as Australia confirms its place with the rest of the western world as a society that increasingly approves and celebrates an LGBTIQ agenda.

 

White born Rachel Dolezal identified as black and lived as a black woman but was later demonised when her actual biological identity was exposed.

Yet for some reason the issue of felt gender “identification” is considered differently. How can (and why should) gender identity be considered as acceptably flexible and changeable, while racial identity has to remain fixed by a person’s status at birth? (I’m making what I believe is a valid comparison, I’m not advocating the picking and choosing of racial identity).

Compare attitudes to the above case with community attitudes to this one (with Jenner being awarded “Woman of the Year” by Glamour magazine in 2015):

 

And how about a case like this, where it’s unacceptable for white people to apply “blackface” as a caricature of African American appearance, and yet it’s okay for “transvestite” men to caricature the appearance of women.

These inconsistencies offer very stark examples of the inevitable hypocrisy imbued within a human society that increasingly rejects God and distances itself from Him.

It’s not something that will be changed by political action, through the support of party politics, or pledging allegiance to any earthly institution (whether nation, political group or religious body).

In fact I don’t believe its something that will be changed at all. This world will not see an improvement in moral standing and will not move closer to God through any human action. Scripture makes the downward spiral of human society very clear, and it’s something that won’t be halted until God calls time, and Jesus returns.

So with all of this going on around us what should or can we do?

I think that needs a much more complex answer than I can handle fully in a blog post, but I’ll suggest these things.

1)  remember what Kingdom you belong to and seek that Kingdom first.

2) remember it’s not our place to condemn individuals belonging to a different Kingdom. We are Christ’s ambassadors committed to the message of reconciliation, tasked with encouraging and helping potential migrants to transfer their citizenship to the Kingdom of God.

 

 

The wrath of God is being revealed

Australia’s same-sex marriage postal survey:

61.6% yes, 38.4% no

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

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They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

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they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+1%3A+18-32&version=NIV

People often see situations like this as being examples of man’s sin that will ultimately bring about God’s judgement.

However, in Paul’s letter to the Romans (see above) I find it’s made clear that situations like this are the RESULT of God’s judgement on our societies. The more mankind rejects God, the more these things will be the norm in society, BECAUSE God has given mankind over to the sinful ways man has chosen above God.

 

 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

What could be a clearer reason for followers of Jesus NOT to identify with, or express allegiance to, any of mankind’s earthly political agendas or political philosophies.

Rainbow Connection: SSM and Religious Freedom

During Australia’s same sex marriage debate, one group (on the “NO” side) continues to claim that religious freedom will be put at risk should SSM be legalised. The other group (on the “YES” side) continue to insist such concerns are unfounded and are mere red herrings – that the only issue at stake is the happiness of people who want to marry their same sex partner.

But what is the reality?

 

I heard an interview* on ABC radio this morning that made it clear that any protection of religious freedom will ONLY be applied to religious institutions and not to Christian individuals.
Bringing out the now clichéd example of a cake maker refusing to supply a cake for a same sex wedding, it was made clear that they will be guilty of breaking anti-discrimination laws and will be subject to prosecution.

 

My own view of that is that it is the EVENT being “discriminated” against – not the people involved. I’m sure the cake maker would be willing to bake cakes for anyone as an individual – just not willing to bake a cake for an event that compromises their religious beliefs.
To take a step to the side – should a cake maker (religious or otherwise) be legally required to supply a cake promoting (legal) extreme right wing groups or other political views that challenge their conscience, or would their refusal be deemed prosecutable discrimination?

 

Apart from that hypothetical and now clichéd example, we have current cases to look at (not exclusively religious), such as the one described in this story:

A petition with more than 2000 signatures has likened doctors who oppose marriage equality to racists and accused them of contributing to “increased depression.”

The open letter accompanying the petition was written by Perth medical student Carolyn O’Neil and accused more than 400 doctors of adding to “increased depression, anxiety, self‐harm, and suicidal behaviours.”

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/37005078/doctors-opposing-marriage-equality-slam-petition-against-them/

 

This follows a situation that I mentioned in an earlier post, where a doctor was being subjected to a petition calling for her to be struck off the medical register.

A woman that appeared in the advertisement for the ‘no’ camp in the same-sex marriage debate is now at the centre of an online campaign to have her medical licence stripped.

The online petition has just over 6,000 signatures and calls for a “review of the registration of Dr Pansy Lai”.

Dr Lai, a GP in northern Sydney, appeared as one of three mothers in the Marriage Coalition advertisement that first aired at the end of last month.

She told The Australian she has been inundated with phone and social media threats since the ad was released and said she had reported one threat to police that she would be shot “this week”.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/36946222/online-petition-wants-dr-pansy-lai-from-sydney-deregistered/

 

In recent weeks I’ve kept an eye on several discussions in the media around the topic of same sex marriage and have found very strong anti-Christian attitudes being shown that don’t line up with the assurances that religious freedom won’t be reduced.
The problem with those assurances is what “religious freedom” actually means to those making them. The nature of that “freedom” is being defined by those who won’t be needing it – by the irreligious, the non-believer, and at times those who are actually hostile to all kinds of religious belief.

Those people have NO qualification for understanding the reasons why Christians (or adherents of other religious beliefs) might not agree with same sex marriage. To have that understanding they would need to recognise what it means to believe in a God who has revealed what HE requires of His creation – that it is GOD’s standards that count – not man’s ever changing whims.

Genuine Christians believe in a very REAL God and desire to commit their lives to Him and His ways – to them “religion” is not a mere interest, a hobby – an alternative to sport or any other past time. Their relationship to God is the most important part of their life: in fact it IS their life.

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* http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/same-sex-marriage-hate-speech-santow/8884594

Rainbow Connection 2: Don’t dare speak out!

At a time when homosexual campaigners are decrying anti-homosexual hate-speech…

 

Petition calls for doctor in ‘no’ campaign same-sex marriage ad to be deregistered

A woman that appeared in [an] advertisement for the ‘no’ camp in the same-sex marriage debate is now at the centre of an online campaign to have her medical licence stripped.

The online petition has just over 6,000 signatures and calls for a “review of the registration of Dr Pansy Lai”.

Dr Lai, a GP in northern Sydney, appeared as one of three mothers in the Marriage Coalition advertisement that first aired at the end of last month.

She told The Australian she has been inundated with phone and social media threats since the ad was released and said she had reported one threat to police that she would be shot “this week”.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/36946222/online-petition-wants-dr-pansy-lai-from-sydney-deregistered/

 

And another article:

Same-sex marriage debate: conservative Muslims steer clear for fear of backlash

Muslim Australians who oppose same-sex marriage are afraid to speak out for fear of being labelled extremists, including by Christian conservatives who themselves oppose it, a Muslim community leader has said.

Ali Kadri, a spokesman for the Islamic Council of Queensland, told Guardian Australia that imams and community leaders “who represent the vast majority of the Muslim community” were staying out of the postal survey debate for fear of backlash.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/04/same-sex-marriage-debate-conservative-muslims-steer-clear-for-fear-of-backlash

 

There are questions I’d like to raise regarding the second article:

Why would the Muslim spokesman think and suggest that conservative Christians would label Muslims as extremists for sharing their views on same sex marriage, when the conservative Christian and Muslim views would be the same?

Is that suggestion an attempt by the Muslim to politically distance himself and his community from conservative Christians – who have so far been the main target of hate-speech from supporters of SSM?

Is it a suspicion that conservative Christians will be antagonistic towards the Muslim community even in cases when their views are the same?

Maybe it’s a Muslim attempt to maintain division and distrust between two religious communities – mirroring the anti-Muslim rhetoric of some Christians who have regularly resorted to fear-mongering with regard to the presence of Muslims in the community?

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And a related article (don’t dare reflect a “traditional” view of fatherhood on father’s day):

Dads4Kids ad is ‘dodgy campaign tactic’ in marriage debate, says LGBTI activist

A fathers group that claimed its political ad was blocked from television is engaged in a “dodgy campaign tactic” to claim victimhood in the same-sex marriage debate, according to a senior LGBTI advocate.

Just Equal spokesman, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, has hit back at Dads4Kids, labelling them an anti-LGBTI, anti-marriage equality activist group who had attempted to politicise father’s day.

Ben Pratt, the spokesman for Dads4Kids, said it was “extraordinary” that Australians could “no longer celebrate fathers’ day without being forced to look at it through the lens of the same-sex marriage debate”.

“It’s a tragedy that a political motive is now implied in any mention of fatherhood. Not everything is about same-sex marriage,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/03/dads4kids-ad-is-dodgy-campaign-tactic-in-marriage-debate-says-lgbti-activist

Rainbow Connection

I don’t know whether it’s visible to all visitors to this blog – but sometime during the last hour, WordPress seem to have added a “rainbow” header across the top of the page.

I can only assume it is intended to be an expression of support to the LGBTIetc. campaign regarding same sex marriage, currently under way in Australia.

In Genesis we are told that the rainbow was a covenantal sign from God:

And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Sadly that sign has been appropriated to represent a cause rebelling against God and His creation.

I have no control regarding the display across the page header but while it’s there I reclaim it for the purpose for which God intended.

If that colourful header isn’t there on your screen  – it does no harm to be reminded of the rainbow’s Godly significance.

Deja Vu and the SSM Issue.

As Australia continues on the slow road to (inevitably) legalising same sex marriage, there are continuing claims being made about bullying and abuse being directed at those supporting SSM.

That is despite the claim that 70% or so of the population are said to be in support of it. It is also despite the fact that the majority of the abusiveness and hateful commentary I’ve seen has been directed against “the religious”.

For examples see the comments after the article here:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/17/religious-freedom-is-an-important-right-once-same-sex-marriage-is-legal-it-must-be-protected

 

One of those comments even suggests that businesses owned by people objecting to SSM should have some kind of identification placed in their windows as a sign of their beliefs.

 

For some reason that suggestion seems scarily familiar.

 

A Hate-Speech Whirlwind

Australian tennis great, Margaret Court, has become the centre of a hate-speech whirlwind.
She apparently wrote an open letter to a newspaper, announcing she was boycotting the airline Qantas because it’s CEO has been using his position to promote a pro-same sex marriage message. In addition to announcing her boycott, Court allegedly criticised a young Australian tennis player who is in a Lesbian relationship and raising children within that relationship.

In response some have called for a boycott of the tennis arena named in honour of Margaret Court.

 

A few thoughts and observations:

If Court chooses to boycott Qantas for the reasons she stated, she has every right to do so.
If Court chooses to be public about her choice, spelling out the reasons for it, she has every right to do so.

If she did publicly speak out and criticise the Lesbian tennis player personally– I think that wasn’t only very unwise, it was irresponsible and not her place to do so. (“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside”. 1 Cor 5))

As for those calling for the boycott of the tennis arena – again that is their choice to do so, but would their reaction be hurting Court in any way – or just be hurting others (competition organisers, spectators, other players with less profile than themselves) who have no connection at all to Court’s comments?

 

I’ve followed some of the commentary arising out of this situation and have seen the same kind of responses that always seem to dominate any discussion associated with homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Responses regularly bring up claims of young homosexuals suffering and being driven to suicide because of hate speech directed against them.

 

And yet in ironic hypocrisy, ALL of the hate speech I’ve seen in those “discussions” has been directed against Christians and others who don’t support a homosexual agenda. Extremely aggressive, abusive hate speech, sneering and railing against “Right Wing Religious Nut Jobs” and applying similar pejorative descriptions to those holding different views for religious (or other) reasons.

 

Personally I don’t take a hostile position against homosexuality and homosexual marriage within a secular democratic society. (Homosexuality within the church is a different issue. Refer again to the quote I gave earlier from 1 Cor 5: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”)

It’s not our place as Christians to try and enforce Godliness upon the nations where we live. Followers of Jesus are strangers here, living in foreign (often hostile) territory representing God’s kingdom as His ambassadors. It’s not our role to change the nature of the Kingdoms of men. We are placed in those Kingdoms to encourage others to flee those Kingdoms to find refuge in the Kingdom of God.

 

Those who choose to remain outside of God’s Kingdom will answer to God Himself later.

 

 

_______________________

 

See comments section of these articles for countless examples of hate speech, and see who it is directed at.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/31/andy-murray-ramps-up-pressure-with-call-for-swift-resolution-to-margaret-court-furore

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/18/penny-wong-says-marriage-equality-fight-proves-need-for-separation-of-church-and-state

 

Plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage.

While one cannot live by “likes” alone, the number of likes against an article or a comment – or their absence – can be a telling indicator of a readership’s attitude.

As a case in point, I’ve recently entered discussion on a newspaper’s web site regarding several different issues, and found most comments were given at least a few “likes”.

However, when I joined a conversation about same-sex marriage, even though I didn’t express any outright opposition, I started to get some very hostile responses (all of which accrued several likes) while my own comments remained like-less.

But maybe the MOST telling aspect of that discussion was that most of my contributions consisted of me calling for civility – no matter which side of the fence a person stood and the majority of the responses I received were abusive.

I’ll be very open about the issue. I disagree with the concept of same sex marriage. However I recognise that I’m living in a secular democracy that decreasingly recognises the authority of God.

Within that democracy I have the right to vote and in the upcoming plebiscite related to same sex marriage, I will vote against it.

However, if the vote for change passes, I’m not going to lose sleep or get upset about it. Furthermore (and some Christians might find this unacceptable) if the plebiscite shows the majority are in support of recognising same sex marriage, and the government refuses to recognise that result and doesn’t pass legislation to make that change, I won’t be happy that the government ignored the result of the people’s vote.

Of course, that also applies should the people’s vote indicate an opposition to change. Since the government has chosen to take the plebiscite route, they need to respect and abide by its outcome no matter what that outcome may be. THAT is how secular democracy is supposed to work.

 

Perhaps ironically, the outcome of the plebiscite vote could be determined by the lack of involvement of the demographic group most in favour of same sex marriage – the 18-24 year olds who are the largest potential voting block NOT to register on the electoral roll.

With the plebiscite we might see a similar outcome as the recent Brexit referendum, where younger age groups were most in favour of staying in Europe, but were the largest demographic group who failed to vote at all, ensuring that their own wishes weren’t met.

 

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This link seems to be where my involvement in the discussion started:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/24/marriage-equality-george-brandis-to-ask-cabinet-to-decide-plebiscite-wording#comment-79798485

And also see here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/jul/24/marriage-equality-george-brandis-to-ask-cabinet-to-decide-plebiscite-wording#comment-79869150

Alphabet Soup on the Menu?

It seems impossible to go through life today without coming across that ever increasing chain of initials LGBTQI ETC.; coined to represent a multiplication of sexual/gender identities.

alphabet soup

Increasingly, such “identities” are being accepted into main stream society and those who have a problem with this are portrayed as narrow-minded, behind the times, bigots or that favoured misnomer “homophobes”, which narrows down objections to being fear centred  and rejecting other possible motivation for people’s concerns.

Laws are being changed to accommodate, and school curricula are being redrawn to educate upcoming generations about the normalcy and acceptability of a variety of e sexual/gender alternatives. In Australia this recently included a school’s program introduced under the name of an anti-bullying campaign, and around the western world the traditional understanding of marriage is being redefined.

tardisPopular entertainment has also joined in – even family and children’s programming include homosexual relationships as an acceptable part of society. Doctor Who, a show I grew up with from it’s very first episodes in the early 60s, in its latest incarnation has featured same sex marriage as nothing out of the ordinary. Recently I saw an article suggesting that a sequel to Disney’s Frozen should include its main female character, Elsa, finding love with another woman, and even more recently it’s been suggested that characters in a current Disney cartoon are a same sex couple.

As a Christian living in a secular society I see this issue presents some significant difficulties.

There is the reality of violence directed against homosexuals that can’t in any way be condoned. I recall witnessing a bashing a few decades ago, of a homosexual man in a popular pub. The perpetrators were allegedly off-duty policemen. While I couldn’t verify that allegation, the men had unusually short hair for the fashion of the times, so their appearance added to that perception. Nothing can justify or excuse that kind of violence against anyone.
There is also the issue of the confusion and trauma experienced by those with a same sex attraction as they wrestle with society’s historical hostility and also with their own conscience. Sadly this struggle has sometimes ended in suicide.

The church has often been seen as a primary contributor to that state of mind, bringing condemnation upon people for having feelings that are generally beyond their control. Making homosexuality an easy target, while they brush aside some of their own attitudes and practices that are given more biblical pages of condemnation than homosexuality is given. (Why should greed, heterosexual lust and exploitation of the vulnerable be more tolerable?)

So, there is the question of how Christians OUGHT to respond to the increasing influence and acceptance of the diverse sexual and gender identities within western society, while staying true to the God they profess to follow. Should we merely go with the flow, recognising a need to keep up with the times and changing cultural values? That seems to be the expectation of secular society: that the church needs to change and adapt or die.

Or should we assume that God’s standards aren’t influenced by man’s fickle philosophies and that church survival isn’t dependant on following them?

Jesus said that the gates of hades wouldn’t prevail against His church. While many assume that statement refers to the forces of the devil not prevailing against the church, it should be recognised that hades (or hell) is NEVER referred to in scripture as the domain or kingdom of Satan or demons. cemeteryInstead the term is a reference to the grave, the equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. Therefore Jesus’ statement is an assurance that His church will not die out, will not be overcome by death – no matter how far the world’s standards deviate from the Godly standards upheld by His true church. So there’s no need for the church to sway with the breeze, following every fad of an increasingly secular world in the hope of surviving.

Instead of following the world’s standards of acceptability, disciples of Jesus should be following HIM, even when that puts us at odds with the world; something that WILL increasingly happen, the further the world’s values move away from God’s.

So how should Christians respond? How do we take into account and act in accordance with God’s standards as revealed through scripture?

1) Recognise that God is the Creator and the one who determines what is right or wrong within His creation. Man’s opinion changes nothing except on an individual level where a person’s choices determine where they stand with God. Are they with Him, submitting to His ways, or are they against Him, choosing something else in place of Him?
2) Be aware that God sees homosexual acts as detestable, leaving no room for legitimacy. Such acts are also described in scripture as shameful and vile passions.
3) Know that men are men, women are women, boys are boys, girls are girls – determined by biology and not by personal choice, desire or whim. Man’s relativist philosophies might allow alternative choices, but God’s standard of truth doesn’t.
4) There is a difference between same sex attraction and homosexual acts, just as there is a difference between heterosexual attraction and illicit sexual activity between male and female. We can’t choose who we’ll be attracted to, but we can choose how we respond to that attraction. No one should be judged or condemned for the kind of temptations they face.
5) We are not entitled to respond to homosexual individuals or communities with hatred, aggression or violence of any kind – including verbal. The “God hates fags” brigade is NOT a valid representation of God and His Gospel.
6) Homosexual acts should not be singled out above other sins – it is far too easy to see our own sin as being more forgivable than sin we are not personally involved with.
7) Taking and expressing a biblically sound stance on the issue of homosexuality will increasingly lead to the Christian being marginalised and vilified. Ironically, the more acceptance of the LGBT agenda grows, the less acceptance there will be of those standing for God’s agenda.
8) God desires repentance from ALL. He desires that ALL will be saved. He excludes no individual from His gift of salvation; but we can exclude ourselves by ignoring or refusing His gift. We can exclude ourselves by making the world and secular society our standard of truth.