Yesterday, as the postal ballots began arriving in the letterboxes of the Australian citizenry, our current Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball, a somewhat muted voice in support of changing the definition of marriage, was celebrating the second anniversary of his coup against his predecessor, Tony Abbott, a strong voice pushing for retaining the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. His celebratory party was gate-crashed (as it were) by the previous conservative prime minister, John Howard, who slammed the present government for not releasing the text of the proposed legislation concerning same sex marriage. Some party it proved to be!
John Howard, presently Australia’s last great statesman, argues that SSM has been shown by solid sociological research to be less than ideal in terms of providing for the welfare of children. He also argues that the Australian people must be able to make an intelligent assessment about whether the safeguards to do with freedom of speech and religion are in place. A very intelligent and secular voice for the NO campaign.
Two days ago I listened to two well-spoken voices for the NO campaign at the National Press Club. The first was a Vice-President of Australia’s leading conservative party and a women. She was initially inclined to argue for a YES vote, but on reflection and research saw the flaws in any change to the definition of marriage. The second spokesman for the NO campaign, Lyle Shelton, is Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby and an operative for the Coalition of Marriage. (Lyle and I once cooperated to keep brothels out of a provincial city, when the State government had decided that all cities above a certain size must allow them).
These two spokesmen were measured and affirming of all while pointing to the less than watertight protections that the Australian legal framework has in place to protect both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. (Australia is less well endowed with such protections than many other legal jurisdictions).
I really don’t see the point of the Alternative Statement of Adventist principles! Signatories do not bind themselves to vote YES in the current ballot. It is really very accommodating of most any view that allows people to live and let live. It has been signed by a small handful of SS attracted individuals, joined by their friends and supporters. Among these friends and supporters I note several trendy pastors, a handful of trendy Avondale academics (mostly retired) and several Sydney Adventist Hospital operatives (mostly retired). And at least one lawyer. There are two women’s ministries people and a number of practicing medicos. I notice at least one person who will not be eligible to vote. Can you spot her!
I imagined that the official statement by the Australian Union Conference was affirming to all and full of grace and truth. This official statement about marriage was released to the Adventist public in Australia many months ago, not in the heated atmosphere of this present ballot. It was moderate in tone and positive in its conclusion about the need to retain the present law concerning marriage.
The Australian government is to be God’s minister of righteousness to our society. It has a particular role to uphold the good order of society, including the right to escape from a libertine paradise of political correctness, the right to the freedoms of speech and religion. Instead, Australia is drifting to a new Dark Age where the absence of these rights is celebrated and discrimination against Bible believing Christians.
Trendy has rather a neutral meaning in this context! It means having opinions that follow the trends of the day. In this sense I guess we are all trendy - some more in line with Malcolm Turnbull, and others with Tony Abbott. I have real respect for many individuals on that list. The list includes a former dorm room- mate, a vague cousin as well as my own lovely daughter as Danielle has noted. I graduated with an MA (Religion) degree majoring in Systematic Theology and Ethics. Therefore, I am a little familiar with the way ethicists reason. Knowing a little of the ethical stance of several on that list I would suggest that a real spectrum of ethical thought about SSM exists within that list of signatories.
Danielle, thanks for your declared interest in my ethical discussions with my wise and balanced daughter. I have enjoyed my ethical discussions with my daughter over the last 20 years. Many times we agree! Other times we disagree. Occasionally both sides modify or nuance our thought. My father taught me never to be afraid of spirited discussion and debate had in the right spirit. I do declare that my discussions with my favourite emergency room / family physician have helped me toward having more grace and light in my soul on this topic. I think you will discover that my particular stance on SSM have helped anchor my favourite doctor’s convictions.
Yes, Danielle! Adventist church members have lots to learn concerning homosexuality. Many do not have personal experience with SS attracted people. And so they apply what they understand the biblical stance to be without much compassion. In the main, Adventist churches do not help because they do not educate.
While I accept the SS attracted people get lonely, this doesn’t equal a biblical reason why these people should bunk in together. Such reasoning is the weakest link in the reasoning of people who support the virtue of people with these attractions making bedroom arrangements together. Need does not equal virtue. And many people make this leap in logic without blinking an eyelid or without recognizing that they have made it.
I was attempting to reflect the Apostle Paul’s reasoning concerning the divine role of government in society by my statement that “the Australian government is to be God’s minister of righteousness to our society.” There is absolutely no harm in society enforcing the last 6 commandments in its legal framework. That’s what every civilized society has done for millennia. That’s why an accurate understanding of what the Bible says on ethical issues is vital.
Thanks for you reply! I appreciate your confidence in many of my comments on this blogsite. I write hopeful that my comments may enlighten! I enjoy bouquets, but can cope with the occasional brickbat. I always attempt to be thououghly reasonable with any comment I make. But grace and light has a way of cutting across many of our cherished opinions.
My comment concerning sociological research on the ideal environment for children was intended to be an approving of John Howard’s stance on this issue. (John Howard was Prime Minister of Australia for close on 10 years, and Australia’s last great statesman before a sucession of short-lived prim a donna’s fought for their momentary time of fame and glory).
Sociological research in this field certainly has a wax nose. It can point to whatever conclusion one may wish.
I have appreciated the contributions of our own scholars on the whole subject of Same Gendered Attraction - Roy Gane, Richard Davidson, Nick Miller and others. Then too, a close family member is one of Adventism’s leading human rights voices here, as well as my daughter whose medical expertise I respect. I also appreciate the contribution of others such as Ryan Anderson & Rosaria Butterfield as well as Al Mohler.
May we continue to extend grace and light to each other as we respond to each other. Those like you with more personal connection to people struggling in this way can remind the rest of us to shed grace and light as we seek to be faithful to biblical principle. My conscience will be enlightened primarily by Scripture, but also by reason, science and experience. Expect me to grow.