Homosexual activist Rodney Croome stated some weeks ago, “It’s a fascinating insight into how rapidly community attitudes are shifting towards the formal recognition of same-sex relationships.”
This was his response to parts of the church in the ACT and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) opposing civil unions but asking the government to legislate to provide a ‘Relationship Register’ for same-sex and caring relationships instead. Neither we, nor Mr Croome, knew how ‘prophetic’ that statement was.
Just a few weeks later we received the Australian Evangelical Alliance (EA) paper ‘Same-sex Relationships and the Law’, only to discover they had adopted a similar position, using many of the same political and ‘compassionate’ arguments.
Their paper outlines four options for recognising homosexual relationships: ‘marriage’, civil unions, relationship registers and changing individual laws to ‘protect’ their ‘rights’. A fifth option is for Christians to demonstrate the Biblical model of marriage and family. Author Brian Edgar, Director of Theology and Public Policy at EA, notes that this option is “one which most Christians would enthusiastically embrace”. We would agree with that.
However he adds “alongside one of the more acceptable of the first four options”. This is where we would disagree.
We contacted Brian to discuss our concern about the EA paper but he was not prepared to discuss the substantive matters raised.
The EA paper concludes “that the re-definition of marriage to include same-sex unions, and the creation of civil unions as an alternative to marriage are both inappropriate” yet then supports the legal recognition of same-sex relationships by saying “that the creation of a relationship register (which is not seen as an alternative to marriage) is an appropriate way of handling certain issues of justice relating to a variety of relationships”.
Firstly, we do not believe that Christians should support the legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Secondly, Brian totally overlooks the fact that in Tasmania, and in other countries, 20% of people using a ‘Relationship Register’ are heterosexuals who clearly see it as an alternative to marriage.
Much of the paper’s reasoning is based on a nebulous usage of the word ‘justice’. The EA paper uses the word ‘justice’ 29 times, but always in the new, secular, liberal, relativist way of ‘social justice’ rather than the true Biblical meaning of justice, God’s never-changing “righteousness”, or “natural [God-given] virtue” or upholding the ‘norms’ of right conduct.
How can ‘justice’ be used by Christians as a reason to support homosexual relationships when homosexuality itself is neither ‘righteous’ nor a ‘natural virtue’?
This liberal, relativist usage of the word justice is simply inappropriate since it not only ignores the Biblical understanding of the word but also ignores the lack of real justice associated with other ramifications of a relationships register, especially in terms of children and ‘quickie divorces’.
The arbitrary redefining of ‘justice’, based on our personal feelings, when those feelings run contrary to 2000+ years of theological understanding and Biblical authority, seems to us to be extremely presumptuous.
True justice must be based on a fixed standard – the Bible is the only such source. The Bible condemns homosexuality – not the people, but the orientation and the activity, and therefore the relationships. Yet the EA paper moves totally away from that to recommend its own brand of justice based on a false idea of personal ‘compassion’.
We certainly did not expect an organisation like the EA to adopt a policy that had been soundly rejected by many Christians across Australia.
This is a position we must continue to oppose. We understand that a divided voice is a less effective voice, but we cannot accept the EA position, any more than we could the ACL position, simply for the sake of ‘unity’. The only unity that is acceptable must be based on sound Biblical principles, not political prudence.
Christians are told to ‘hold the line’ and ‘stand in the gap’, not to blast a hole in the Biblical foundations of society. That is what happens when Christians advocate for unrighteousness, whether that is for the legalisation of prostitution, gambling, drug use or homosexual relationships.
We fully accept that bad laws will be made in a ‘pluralistic society’, because we have elected too many of the wrong people to govern us, but as Christians we are not called to make it easy for the government to enact bad laws that actually help people harm themselves and make it easier to sin.
The only message that such recognition sends to society is that those things are acceptable – this message is given much more credibility in the world when it is the church saying that people doing these things deserve ‘justice’ and ‘rights’.
The EA paper ‘Same sex Relationships and the Law’ is posted on their website at www.evangelicalalliance.org.au