Peacemaking and the marriage postal survey – how are they linked?
Loving people isn’t easy. Honouring and pleasing God isn’t easy. And as the heart of peacemaking is honouring God and loving people – peacemaking isn’t easy!
It wasn’t easy for God to make peace with us. It cost him the death of his Son.
So how does peacemaking fit into the current debate and postal survey on the changing of the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples?
This controversial issue has been dominating the political landscape of many western nations for the past few years. It is now front and centre for all Australians to consider as the postal survey is now in full swing.
How are we as God glorifying, people loving, Jesus followers meant to navigate this maelstrom?
The Bible gives us much guidance in how to respond to others in difficult situations.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
These qualities should guide us particularly when we are in dialogue with those who hold a different view to us. ( And even more so if we feel that as Christians we may be more quickly or harshly judged by the media or within the public square!)
This is not an easy issue to navigate because it involves people’s deeply held beliefs and values. The debate raises the weighty questions of society’s acceptance of individuals within the Australian culture and the acknowledgement of a person’s identity, as well as what kind of relationships our society chooses to ‘validate’ through the use of the unique word ‘marriage’.
But navigate it we must.
All of Australia is closely watching to see not just what Christians do and say, but also how we do and say it.
In previous generations, and sadly sometimes still, some Christians use extremely strong language to totally judge and condemn those who practise and promote gay marriage – not just the practise, but the people themselves. Others operate from the opposite side, both accepting and condoning gay marriage under the banner of equality and love.
What are we to do with this current conflict over the definition of marriage? How do we make the most of this opportunity?
If conflict is an opportunity to glorify God, love others and become more like Christ – what are we to do with this current conflict over the definition of marriage? How do we make the most of this opportunity? How will we respond to this “test”?
Jesus faced a difficult issue when the religious leaders of his time brought to him a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. These leaders wanted to test Jesus and see what he would do. Would he support the then current Jewish law and condone the execution of this woman by stoning her? Or would he be lenient and ‘soft’ on her, let her go and by so doing, show contempt for the law?
He did neither. John records that,
“Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.” Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11)
We need to show love, grace, holiness, justice and wisdom!
We don’t know what Jesus wrote on the ground, although we do know that he challenged the religious leaders, with the statement, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Maybe he was writing down in the sand the sins committed by the various leaders who wanted to condemn and execute her? Whatever it was, it was powerful enough for them to gradually realise that they were in no position to cast the first stone.
Significantly, Jesus, who was and is perfect and who had every right to condemn the woman – did not. But neither did Jesus ‘just’ let her go. After everyone else had left the scene he lovingly said to her, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
What a momentous and perfect demonstration of love, grace, holiness, justice and wisdom!
What Jesus faced and what we face with the current postal survey are quite different issues. Nevertheless, we are similarly called to respond with the same love, grace, holiness and wisdom that Jesus showed with the adulterous woman.
Are we able to do the same? Do we see the postal survey and all the heated discussions around it as a God given opportunity – to glorify God, love others and become more like Christ in this debate? This is what God calls us to do.
Not just ‘yes’ or ‘no’
In our conversations surrounding this postal survey, let’s not limit our discussions to simply a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but take the time and effort to love people well by genuinely listening to them and respecting their views.
Let’s not make this about winning a debate, but about taking this golden opportunity to reflect Jesus in our discussions.
We need to share not only the Christian message on this issue, but more importantly, ‘the messenger’ himself!
For the purposes of s6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, PeaceWise Ltd has authorised this communication and Bruce Burgess is the individual who has given effect to the authorisation.