Response to the document: “An Alternative Adventist Perspective on the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.”
It is my belief that the world would be a far poorer place without the wonderful gift of idealists and dreamers. We would be bereft of some of the greatest works of art, the most beautiful literature, some of the most inspired musical compositions, and some of the world’s greatest inventions. Great minds conceptualise and equally great minds implement and build. My life experience though has taught me to temper my optimism with some pragmatism.
My fear is that this well-intentioned effort at supporting a change in Australian law will not be without cost to certain freedoms. Justitia, the almost universal symbol of justice in the Western world is portrayed as wielding a sword in her right hand. It is perhaps no coincidence that is a double-edged sword. It cuts both ways. Every law creates an obligation. Abuse or ignore that obligation at your peril. When a law is created to protect or entrench a right on one hand, it will inevitably limit a freedom on the other. A law supporting recognition of same-sex marriage is no different. There will be broader implications and entrenched obligations. Even an elementary understanding of SDA interpretation of biblical prophecy leads us to recognise that, as we near the final stages of this earth’s history, laws implemented to ‘protect’ society will be used to suppress and persecute God’s people. This has occurred countless times throughout earth’s history and will without doubt happen again. Our current social and political climate is shaping up perfectly to support these moves. We have entered a new era where victimhood culture and perceptions of political correctness have a pervasive and powerful influence on shaping and determining social morality. For who would not support and protect the underdog? It is perhaps the modern application of the old proverb: Vox populi, vox Dei (The voice of the people, is the voice of God).
It is also evident that much of contemporary Christendom has relegated God’s Ten Commandments to Ten Principles. While it is perfectly reasonable and beneficial to recognise the principles behind the law, those principles do not abrogate the law – they establish it. Unfortunately this progressive approach doesn’t end at the Ten Commandments, but becomes the universal lens through which all scripture is viewed. This popular trend has paved the way for a far freer interpretation of doctrine, where biblical standards become nebulous concepts based not on who God is or what He says, but on how He is subjectively viewed and interpreted by the individual. The unchanging God is changing rapidly. We are in grave danger of forming God in our own image.
The document supported by these signatories makes reference to the ‘golden rule’. I too embrace the beauty of the ‘golden rule’, but sadly I believe that its application is misplaced in this context. Ellicott’ s commentary on this passage has some sage advice: “The rule is only safe when our own will has been first purified, so that we wish only from others that which is really good. Reciprocity in evil or in folly is obviously altogether alien from the mind of Christ.” This approach seems to be supported by that great apostle Paul in passages such as: Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (NIV). Ultimately this rule does not revolve around our personal likes or preferences, but on God’s perfect, inscrutable wisdom and His will for us.
This debate has divided many, across religious, political, and social fronts. It reminds me of Christ’s words in Matthew 10:34: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Unfortunately opportunities for sensible and polite debate are few, and I believe that we have been responsible for wielding this sword of division. For how can one sensitively present a contra view, when in the words of one popular Australian media celebrity regarding this debate: “Even a polite ‘No’ is hurtful”? There seems to be an almost pathological compulsion to paint all those who hold a view at odds with supporters of legislated gay marriage, as unloving and bigoted. How sad that the same consideration ostensibly championed by this ‘socially sensitive’ group is seldom extended to those holding a different convictions. The logic of accusing all who are opposed to gay marriage as homophobic, is akin to accusing those who share their convictions regarding of the seventh-day Sabbath as automatically hostile or prejudiced against all Sunday ‘Sabbath’ keepers. It is totally unjustified. Believing and wanting others to share in the blessings enjoyed from following God’s word is an honourable passion. We all can (and should) honour friendships and respect relationships with others whose life journey or perspectives may be dissimilar to ours.
We are all pathetic shadows of God’s ideal established at creation. None (as far as I know) is without serious deviations from God’s standard. Does this mean that we normalise our flaws and set them as the new standard because in our eyes God’s standard is unattainable? No, God’s will for us is higher than even we can imagine, and we should celebrate what He wants to do in our lives. Do we stumble and fall? Absolutely, - all too often in my own personal experience. Living a Christian life will be challenging – that’s the reality! However, the very essence of faith lies in believing what God can do when in from our perspective all seems hopeless. We rejoice in a God of both power and grace, and to us as believers, that’s exciting!