Yes or No? Reflections on the Marriage Plebiscite (continued from last week)
Last week we were reminded that the main focus of Christians living in a secular society should be to communicate the gospel of grace to others. We must strive to obey Biblical ways in our own lives and speak God’s truth with gentleness and respect to win hearts for our Lord. However we must not expect non-Christians to somehow live according to Christian standards as if moral living is what chiefly pleases God and could save them from eternal judgement. There are a number of implications of this for us.
If Australia decides to adopt a non-Biblical definition of marriage I expect things might get tough for me and for other Christians. I know many of you are already receiving very negative treatment from your family, and in social and work contexts. Over time, society may well be turned upside down, and Christian ministry may well get tougher. Christian organisations might well close and Christians in public positions and high profile jobs will be targeted. But following Jesus was never easy – either in an outwardly moral society or in an overtly hostile one. And in God’s mercy, persecution often acts as a powerful strengthener and encourager to Christian faith. Remember that now and throughout history, when Christians are persecuted, the gospel goes forth mightily. As a parent, I will need to continue discipling my children faithfully, communicating to them the overwhelming value of Jesus compared to any other treasure. That is no different to what Christian parents (and churches) in Australia should already be doing. So many churched Australian kids have followed the values of this world and rejected God in our past ‘Christianised’ moralistic society that it is hard to argue that changing society’s definition of marriage will make my job as a Christian parent any harder than it was before! As ever, we must continue to share God’s truth, love and grace with our kids, model God’s ways to them, pray without ceasing, and above all trust God to hold them in his hand no matter what our future society becomes.
I will vote No in the upcoming plebiscite. But I will be praying for grace and wisdom in talking with those who disagree with me. I will ask to hear their story and their reasons for holding a different view and I will strive in God’s strength to love them. I will pray that my words and actions will be such that non-Christians will see Christ’s love in me and feel comfortable to come with me to church or to ask their questions at a Christianity Explored course. And I will pray that when these people come to church they will receive love in abundance from all of us. If you want to know how to live in a world that does not know Jesus, start by reading Colossians 4:5-6, 1 Peter 2:10-12 and 3:15. Christian living has never been about relaxing in comfortable safe ghettos, only relating to like-minded people and happily accepting a society that merely adopts Christianised morality while rejecting Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
And if the No vote prevails I will not rejoice and self-righteously tell others how wrong they were. If the Yes vote prevails I will not cry and lament the end of the world as we know it. I will continue to trust God’s sovereign and good purposes for people in Australia. I will continue seeking to honour my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to obey God’s word, to love his people and encourage their obedience to God’s word, and to love those who are not yet Christians. I will pray for my enemies and love them, praying that one day they may ask the reason for the hope that I have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).
I do encourage you to read the newsletter articles I write following the Sam Allberry conference on “What kind of church does God want us to be?”, or reading The Plausibility Problem by Ed Shaw. This may help you consider how we can better live as gospel-hearted Christians in a world that does not know God or care about living according to his ways.