A QandA Recap

The Age is right to publish Neil McMahon’s Qanda recap under ‘entertainment’, for it doesn’t belong under ‘news’ or anything resembling fair and factual reporting.

According to McMahon, Magda Szubanski is an angel, in contrast to  the rest of the panel who are presumably on the devil’s payroll.

I’m not having a go at Magda Szubanski and her contribution last night, but McMahon’s near superhuman selective hearing.

If you’ve only read McMahon’s offering in The Age, you’d be forgiven for thinking that last night’s QandA served up another staple diet of stupid Christians and thoughtful atheists, annoying anti-SSM campaigners and human heart beating advocates. I’m sure McMahon’s regulars will read his account with cheers, but for others who watched last night’s program, we are left wondering, through which smokey haze did he view Qanda?

QandA has gained a reputation for too often lacking finesse and nuance from its guests, but last night each panellist brought a healthy degree of intellectual argument touched with humility and empathy.

 

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The entire program was dedicated to issue of same sex marriage, and important questions were asked, and all 4 panellists offered (for the most part) substantive comments and arguments, and yet McMahon fails to even acknowledge any of this.

McMahon latches onto one comment made by Karina Okotel, which was certainly less than convincing, but he concludes that she must be either lying or is at the very least untrustworthy in what she says,

“Okotel is a challenge in this debate: an all-smiling and apparent voice of reasonableness adept at speaking out of both sides of her mouth like the lawyer she is.”

Sure, she fluffed her answer, but it’s not as though there isn’t a clear and important response to this question (cf. https://murraycampbell.net/2017/09/02/fathers-day-telling/).

McMahon also completely ignores one important fact check from the episode, namely when Magda Szubanski repeated the old time myth of 10%. Alfred Kinsey’s now debunked study has nonetheless taken the status of undeniable truth for some in the community. After all, the temptation to inflate favourable numbers is understandable. According to most research, the real number of Australians who variously identify as LGBTI is closer to 2-4%. And according to the 2016 Census, 0.39% of Australians are living in a same sex relationship. Belonging to a small number doesn’t alter the humanity and worth of these Australians, but I would have thought that presenting misinformation isn’t helpful, no matter which side of a debate you are presenting.

Magda’s personal testimony is important and worth listening to. We (speaking to Christians here) do need to listen to such voices. It’s also worth hearing how she understands what Churches are saying about marriage. There are moments when Glenn Davies tries to correct some of her assumptions, without success it would seem, but the interaction does communicate something of the mishearing that is going on in our society.

If there was a “powerful” moment in last night’s program, surely it was Archbishop Glenn Davies stating that should holding Jesus’ view of marriage be declared unfit in Australians society, he would be prepared to go to jail. He would accept the democratic processes of our nation, but is not prepared to change his convictions even in face of imprisonment. But not even worthy of a footnote for McMahon.

Perhaps someone needs to give Neil McMahon their hearing aid, but then again, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. Photoshopping reality is sadly a far to common tool of the trade in journalism today. Journos from all sides are guilty of doing this as they win the applause of their facebook groupies. Let’s be honest, this is not only a journalist problem, but we see it among our politicians, and we even see it in ourselves. We may rightly object to the selectivity and agenda bogged journalism that’s muddying our media, but at the same time, we ought to ask the same about our own proclivities. 

 

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,
    for the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15)

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What is happening to my beloved State of Victoria?

What is happening to my beloved State of Victoria?

In so many ways she is the envy of the world, with our tremendous prosperity, sport, food, and lifestyle. And yet an out of control ideology is driving Victoria to a place that we ought not visit. Vehicle number plates are soon to be changed from, “stay alive” and “the place to be”, to “the place to die”.

The centrepiece of the economy is a casino.

Our favourite public holiday is all about gambling and drinking.

Best education practice has been overturned by one of the most dangerous social engineering projects we’ve ever seen in this country.

Opt-in Religious Instruction classes are almost impossible to hold, while parents are refused permission to opt-out their children from non-scientific and ideologically heavy sex programs.

No, I’m not entering the nutty world of wowserism, but I’m searching for reasonableness and compassion where both are fast exiting north along the Hume Highway.

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The Victorian Parliament is about to decide whether to legalise euthanasia. The Bill is being debated this week, and it will almost certainly pass in both houses.

Daniel Andrews has called this legislation, “conservative assisted dying”, as though adding an obtuse adjective makes killing people somehow ok. Let us be clear, there is nothing conservative about handing out poison to human beings so that they can commit suicide. The fact that this is even being considered, demonstrates how warped we’ve become in our rationalisation. Despite some of the dishonest rhetoric accompanying  arguments for euthanasia, I have been informed by sources inside Spring Street that the intention is to soften and broaden the parameters for euthanasia down the track.

Medical experts have called for the Parliament to reject this legislation.

Over 100 palliative care specialists have pleaded that Victorians Parliamentary members stop this legislation from becoming law.

Over 100 oncologists informed the Government that assisted suicide is dangerous and should not be permitted.

“Physician assisted death is not, by definition, medical treatment. It is not palliative care.  We as doctors and medical specialists do not want   to intentionally end the lives of our patients, or provide them with the direct means to do so. Assisted suicide is in conflict with the basic ethical principles and integrity of medical practice and undermines trust in the medical profession. We strive to eliminate suffering but not the sufferers themselves.

Where cure of cancer is not possible, we seek optimal palliative care services to support and care for patients and their families at the end of life. Without easy access to quality palliative care, some may request physician assisted dying as they feel they have no other choice. This is especially so for people who live in rural, regional and remote areas and for people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities who have less access to palliative care services.

We are very disappointed that discussion of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has dominated the agenda to improve end of life care in Victoria. We are dismayed that the multiple recommendations made by the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into End of Life Choices (June 2016) to strengthen palliative care have not been actioned. Until this is addressed, discussing physician assisted dying is premature.”

Pharmacists have warned that they will be placed in an intolerable position, whereby they will be forced to subscribe poison to Victorians, with the aim of killing them.

Palliative care experts have called on the Government to provide a more compassionate and human alternative to euthanasia, namely, providing proper funding for palliative care.

Victoria isn’t losing its soul, we are actively killing the soul in order to win the prize of becoming the most socially progressive society in the nation. Sure, we’re winning the praise of many inner-surbanites, favourable editorials in The Age, and the adulations of those who want to be like Peter Singer, but is sacrificing our humanity worth it? When the warnings of hundreds of medical professionals are ignored, and when common sense becomes a liability in framing law, we know that we’ve jumped into the murky depths of the Yarra river.

Do Victorians truly want the State to justify killing its own citizens? What is more human, to kill the sick or to ensure they receive proper palliative care?

I am reminded of the words of Jesus, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36-37)

Crucify Them!

Does history repeat itself? With a few drops of irony and a bucket full of ignorance, it appears that some Australians are trying their best.

Two Melbourne Churches were yesterday vandalised by a person(s). 

Waverley Baptist’s building was graffitied with the words,

“Crucify ‘no voters”

“Vote yes”

Glen Waverley Anglican Church was painted with,

“Bash Bigots”, and with a picture equating Christianity with Nazism.

 

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This is not the first occasion when the threat of crucifixion has been used by campaigners on the ‘yes’ side of the marriage debate. It has been painted and proclaimed even in public meetings. No doubt, this is meant to be the worst kind of insult. Perhaps it’s an attempt scare people into silence. One is clear, they are venting anger toward Aussies who won’t fall into line and vote ‘yes’.

In light of the graffiti on these Melbourne Churches, it’s hard not to think of the most famous crucifixion of all.

On the night before his trial and crucifixion, Jesus and his disciples were praying in the Garden of Gethsemane when armed officials approached and arrested him. Peter responded by attacking a man with his sword. Jesus was quick to stop Peter, rebuked him for his wrongful action, and healed the injured man.

In contrast, throughout the trial before Pilate, the crowd repeatedly shouted out,

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

They were responding not against the wishes of the political and religious leadership, but in accord with their purpose.

To be sure, there will be many ‘yes’ voters who are appalled by this latest vandalism on Australian Church buildings. But are we surprised? Of course not. When national political leaders and social commentators insist that voting ‘no’ equates to the worst kind of hate and phobia, it is no wonder that we are seeing this kind of behaviour being played out.

It is important to recognise that there have been some awful things said about gay and lesbian Australians; these are rightly reported and are widely condemned across the board. Any comment or insult that aims to dehumanise any Australian is reprehensible.

I can imagine people feeling unnerved when they arrived for Church yesterday morning; it’s not a pleasant welcome. Let’s not downplay the vileness of this threat: the practice of crucifixion was the most creative and cruelest form of execution, and it is still horrifically practiced in parts of the world today, including Iraq, Syria and Sudan, where Christians have been crucified. At the same time, the vandals are paradoxically offering the greatest complement anyone can give, for they are suggesting that these Churches be treated in the same manner as Jesus Christ.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2)

Of course, Christians can be insulted because we’ve done and said stupid things, and even sinful things. In the midst of the current national debate on marriage, I’ve heard some pretty nasty things spoken by Christians, rarely, but it has happened. However holding to the Bible’s understanding of marriage is not repugnant; it’s unpopular right now but it’s not hateful or wrong. Believing in heterosexual only marriage is not only in sync with the Bible, it’s stating the current legal view of marriage and it is also most logical understanding of marriage. 

When Christians are smeared with the kind of hate and threats that were publicised on those Church walls, we should not respond with fear but with joy, for we are being insulted because of Christ.

Jesus said,

 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

In the off chance that those responsible for Sunday’s vandalism read this blog post, understand that your words are a massive misfire. At the end of the day, you haven’t condemned these churches, you’ve commended them for following Jesus.

I also want you to know this, the very idea that you see as reprehensible may well be something good, and more wonderful than you realise. Just as we know that while humanity’s intent in crucifying Jesus was hateful, God used the cross for love. Jesus willingly went to his crucifixion out of love for the very people who despised him and called for his death. On the cross Jesus cried out,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”


This is how Drew Mellor, Senior Minister of Glen Waverley Anglican Church, responded, and that’s how we Christians need to keep responding. We can’t hold onto grudges or respond vindictively because we know how much we have been loved and forgiven by God. My own church has been graffitied over the years; it’s annoying, and I understand that it can also be hurtful. But then we remember how we once stood on the other side of the cross and tried to define reality without God.

It is because of Divine grace and love that Christians speak, and we want to persuade our fellow Australians about Jesus Christ, and yes, even about the goodness of marriage, and why it makes sense for marriage to remain between a man and a woman. Should the population and politicians decide otherwise, they can. Should the law change, it will redefine how we view society and how we treat those who cannot support those changes. While the graffiti is probably (un)intentional hyperbole, Australian Christians need to wake up to the fact that the culture has moved. The Bible has always taught that there is a cost for those who follow Christ. Through a combination of grace and complacency, most of us have we’ve avoided paying. We are just beginning to sense that things are changing, and that the historical bubble in which we’ve been living is about to burst, and we will find ourselves where Christians for most of history have lived, on the outside of society.

Therefore, in light of this probability,

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

The ongoing offence of the Gospel and of Sydney Anglican Diocese

My brothers and sisters in the Sydney Anglican diocese have donated $1 million to aid the ‘no’ vote on the marriage campaign. The almost instantaneous public backlash following the announcement was as surprising as hay fever in Spring. Critics jumped on board to advise the Diocese as to how they should be using their money.

A balanced media report would have explained how the Diocese uses all its funds, including the near million dollars raised to help Syrian refugees, the huge sums invested into Anglicare, and the even larger sums that are raised annually within churches for many different projects. Naturally, there is more to the story than social media is sharing, but examining the fuller picture isn’t what critics do best. Fairfax once again performed valiantly as they lifted a facebook comment by one Sydney Minister, cutting and pasting his opinion with the surgical skill of my 3 year old pet dog.

I am not saying that I finally agree with their decision (Baptist blood runs thick!), it was not my decision to make and I am not privy to conversations inside the Standing Committee. I am grateful though that the Sydney Diocese is treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves, and they are prepared to back up their words with action and money. Archbishop Glenn Davies is correct in his analysis of the current debate and of the consequences that will inevitably follow should marriage be redefined.

“I believe that a change in the definition of marriage is unwarranted, not just because it is in opposition to the teaching of Scripture and our Lord himself in Matthew 19, but because I believe marriage, traditionally understood as a union of one man and one woman, is a positive good for our society, where marriage and the procreation of children are bound together as the foundational fabric of our society, notwithstanding the sad reality that not all married couples are able to conceive. Moreover, I consider the consequences of removing gender from the marriage construct will have irreparable consequences for our society, for our freedom of speech, our freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. It is disingenuous to think otherwise, given the evidence to the contrary in Canada, the US and the UK.”

Same-sex marriage is about redefining society. It is about degendering  the family unit, and removing the rights of  children to be raised by their biological mother and father.  Numerous social activists are telling us how marriage is only the next stage of the much larger agenda to remove gender altogether and remove religion from public society.

Mauvre Marsden wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald (Oct 4),

“Yes, marriage is not the final frontier. Yes, we want safe schools. Yes, gay conversion therapy is child abuse. Yes, we want transgender kids’ agency to be respected and supported – regardless of what their parents want. Yes.”

Auberry Perry argued in The Age (Sept 3),

“This survey offers us a conscious opportunity to make a firm stand in support of a secular government and to reject discrimination or favouritism based on religion. It’s our opportunity to say that religion has no part in the shaping of our laws. A vote against same-sex marriage is a vote for religious bias and discrimination in our legislation, our public schools, our healthcare, and ultimately, in the foundation of our social structure.”

If the same-sex marriage activists are telling us the truth about their aims, surely we are loving our neighbours by trying to speak up about the good of marriage.

 

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Sydney Anglican Media

There is one particular criticism over the Diocesan donation that I wish to comment on, and it is coming from a few Christians who are suggesting that this will make evangelism more difficult. I understand the point, but I don’t buy it.

People will always be offended by the Gospel and by Christians expressing God’s righteousness.

Society has its own grid for defining moral rights and wrongs, and this isn’t always in tune with God’s righteousness. Sometimes when the culture says I’m a hypocrite, I am acting like a hypocrite. Other times, society just doesn’t like the fact that I’m not agreeing with them. Believing something different to the culture doesn’t make me hypocritical.

As Christians we want to be wise and not glibly explain away offences people may take at us, for it may well be that we ourselves have been blinded by our own sins and it takes an unbeliever to point it out to us. The reality is, the Sydney Diocese has a positive track record of acknowledging wrongdoing and seeking restitution. Last night’s domestic violence policy is the latest testimony to this. I even suspect that Sydney Anglicans are doing a better job than most in serving society’s vulnerable and needy. This may be partly due to the means available to them, but it’s partly because they’re living out what they preach and believe. It is however foolish to suggest that any current social milieu holds truth captive and is the arbiter of moral axioms, and that’s precisely the problem here – the Diocese isn’t conforming to the controlling pattern of our culture.

Same sex marriage was only one of several important social issues being addressed at Synod, including their important policy dealing with domestic abuse. This news story has received some media attention, but pales in comparison to the $1 million donation. Why? Because Sydney Anglicans gave the money to the “wrong” side. Alan Joyce’s $1 million donation and the free advertising given by the NRL are lauded because they conform to the set narrative. I guarantee that if a Christian denomination had donated money to the ‘yes’ campaign, the media would be praising them for their love and boldness.

I don’t believe Sydney’s donation will make evangelism harder, it simply affirms how hard it already is. Who knows, instead of fearing that critics and heretics will take another swing at the Church, perhaps in God’s kindness, this may create new  Gospel opportunities as people in our community see that someone has the guts to stand and be counted.

My caution to Christians is this, be very careful about defining our decisions by public opinion. I’m not saying that the beliefs and ideas of people around us don’t matter to us, but it’s the wrong starting question. We ought to first ask, how we can faithfully and wisely apply what we believe to be true and good in God’s word. We won’t always get this right, but I am thankful for those Churches and denominations who are trying.

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

The age of post-reality

After only one season, the AFLW dream has come to end. The AFL has taken the drastic step to remove the women’s football competition, following the publication of a report on gender by Associate Prof. Damien Riggs and Dr. Clare Bartholomaeus of Flinders University. Apparently, it wouldn’t be fair on women footballers to be segregated from the AFL on account of their sex. From 2018, women will be allowed to enter the draft, and word is, there’s no differences between men and women, and so they’ll do just fine. It is believed that one of the club doctors expressed concerns about the move, but he’s since been sacked, and so shouldn’t pose any further threat to the progress of society.

Not wanting to be left behind, soccer Australia has announced that the Matildas and the Socceroos will be merging: the neutered wombats. Given the recent form by our women’s team, experts anticipate that the new national team to jump through the world rankings, sitting just above Brazil.

It is expected that this year’s cohort of medical students will be the worse since 1968. Ever since words like vagina and penis were banned in class, students are unable to identify human anatomy in their exams

Expectant parents are also among the throng who are dodging the bullet of common sense. When a newborn … passes through the …. canal, obstetricians can no longer tell if it is a boy or a girl. The parents, not wanting to force biology onto their children, leave it sexless and nameless, until such time that XYZ decides what it wants to be. One now former doctor made the unforgivable blunder, calling the life form, a human. It is possible however, that after a public letter of apology and taking reprogramming course in one of the nation’s tertiary uneducated institutions, she may be reissued with a licence to practice.

All this stems from a study conducted by Associate Prof. Damien Riggs and Dr. Clare Bartholomaeus, After spending many hours watching youtube videos, they wrote a series of recommendations for schools, urging them to avoid language that might suggest a person’s gender. The reason being, it may cause some children distress.

They have proposed that school staff refrain from calling boys and girls, boys and girls, and cease sporting activities where children are divided by their gender

According to the story in today’s The Australian,

“Gender could be stripped from classroom talks about sex and anatomy, with body parts described according to their function rather than being considered “male” or “female”, in a proposal by two academics to make school sex education more inclusive of transgender youth.

The terms “penis” and “vagina” could be replaced with gender-neutral terms, while reproduction and safe sex could be taught without referring to “sperm and eggs”.

Channel 7 reported,

“The authors said the aim of the report was to offer Australian policymakers and educators alternative ways to consider sexual health education.”

I have a growing empathy for the science community. Prof Richard Dawkins and his apocalyptic horse buddies have been decrying anti-science and pseudo-science for years, but they’ve been targeting the wrong group of people. It’s not Christians and theists who are the danger to rational thinking, it’s the new wave of university teachers and social commentators who insist that boys and girls must be anything other than boys and girls. Identifying the person standing in front of me has become more perplexing than figuring out a Jackson Pollock painting.

 

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There is such a thing known as ‘gender dysphoria’, where a child or adult feels as though their gender does not match their biological body. It is rare, with about 0.52% of people experiencing some form of transgenderism. It is also known that most children who experience some kind of dysphoria will grow out of it by adulthood. We must love and support these people, for they are made the image of God and have inherent worth. It is vital that our schools and society and churches be safe places for them. However, we are surely entering dangerous territory when  we must desist in applying and even mentioning basic human biology and sociology.

Finally, Riggs and Bartholomaeus have today rigorously denied any link between their de-gendering agenda with the current debate about genderless marriage.

Among their recommendations for schools are:

Philosophy and ethos

• Mission-and-values statement of school includes celebration of diversity, specifically naming gender

• Signs and posters in school celebrate gender diversity, including in the front office

• Written statements about philosophy and ethos that are followed through in practice

Policies, procedures, and guidelines

Bullying, harassment, physical safety, and discrimination:

○ Policies naming gender, gender diversity, and transphobia (including mention of transphobic bullying and language, deliberate ongoing use of incorrect names and pronouns, etc.)

○ Policies outlining consequences for such transphobic actions for students and staff

○ Procedures for dealing with complaints relating to discrimination and harassment

○ Procedure for recording incidents

Dress codes

○ All options for school uniforms and dress codes (including in relating to jewelry and make-up) available to all students, including for sport, formals/proms, and other activities

○ All options for dress codes available to all staff

Toilets/bathrooms and change rooms

○ Student facilities accessible to students according to affirmed gender (or individual transgender students’ preferences)

○ “All gender” toilets/bathrooms available for all students to have access to, if they choose

○ Staff toilets/bathrooms accessible by staff according to their affirmed gender (or individual transgender staff members’ preferences)

○ “All gender” toilets/bathrooms available for all staff to have access to, if they choose

○ Building of new facilities to consider individual facilities (e.g., individual toilet stalls)

  School camps

○ Transgender students consulted about their preferred options for sleeping arrangements when attending school camps; students placed with other students of their affirmed gender, unless they have concerns and then a suitable arrangement should be agreed upon (e.g., placing with friends)

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15532739.2017.1355648

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

Footnote: the opening paragraphs are satirical

Public anger because Carlton won’t say “yes”

Disclaimer: I’ve been a Carlton supporter since I was 5 years old!

 

Like it or not, the debate about same sex marriage has become less about the definition of marriage, and more about freedom of speech.

I believe that the first and central question is about how we define marriage. I would love to see the nation sticking with the question and arguing the merits, for and against. In my opinion, beyond a few slick slogans, I don’t think the ‘yes’ campaign has a substantive argument. Apart from the fact that the UN and the European Court of Human Rights have ruled that none of the major treaties require recognition of same sex marriage as a human right, ‘love is love’ and ‘equality’ are phrases that ultimately mean that marriage can be anything, and therefore, is meaningless. In contrast, I remain convinced that current legal definition accurately reflects logic, biology, and the purpose of marriage.

It is become clear though that this debate is largely about which Australians are permitted to speak and hold a public opinion. It is not as though I’m conflating one or two examples, but media are citing examples on a daily basis, and many more never reach the attention of journalists.

Yes, there is freedom of speech, as a group of Catholic students from the University of Sydney experienced last week. Members from a Catholic club were surrounded by 200 protesters screaming abuse at them, destroying posters, and hurling objects.

Yes, there is free speech for the 18 year old Canberra girl, Madeline, who was sacked by her employer this week for doing nothing more than posting on her private Facebook page, “it’s ok to vote no”. 

Yes, Australian Rugby star, Israel Folau, was free to tweet, “I love and respect all people for who they are and their opinions. but personally, I will not support gay marriage.” The national outrage was immediate and so were the calls for Folau’s removal from the national team.

There have also been reports of a couple of religious schools sending letters to parents, asking them to vote, ‘no’; I don’t think that’s right. In contrast, we are seeing many companies, local councils, sporting codes and clubs, and celebrities siding with the ‘yes’ campaign. Which each endorsement there is wide spread praise in the media and by various politicians.

There is a question worth asking about whether companies and sporting clubs should take a public stand on marriage, either for or against; I think there are legitimate arguments both ways. Undoubtedly, adopting the truncated rainbow colours is an opportunity for a photoshoot, free promotion in the newspaper, and loud applause on twitter. However, for those employees and supporters who are either unconvinced by SSM or intend to vote no, there is little room for them to dissent.

Groups who public campaign for SSM need to seriously consider how they will treat employees and customers who don’t agree with the position they are taking. In the United Kingdom, all volunteers of the National Trust were forced to wear rainbow bands in support of same sex marriage. Anyone refusing to wear the colours was stood down until such time as they received education and changed their minds.

On the other hand, can you imagine any Australian company, local Council, or sporting club, promoting a ‘no’ vote on same-sex marriage?

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Yesterday we learned that it is not even ok for a sporting club to remain neutral on the issue. The Carlton Football Club released a statement, explaining that they won’t be tell supporters how to vote.

“THE Carlton Football Club prides itself on being inclusive, and a leader in engendering equality and a deep sense of belonging.

The issue of ‘same sex marriage’ is essentially one of equality; and so the Club encourages all of its people to have their say in this important national vote.

As a Club, we respect that this is about personal choice, and as such don’t intend to campaign on the issue, but we do strongly reinforce our Club’s absolute commitment to equality – and a community that is free from any form of discrimination.”

Carlton’s stance is entirely reasonable and in keeping with true democratic principles, and yet their twitter feed is now congested with complaints and denouncements. Let’s be perfectly clear, the Navy Blues aren’t encouraging anyone to vote against SSM, their sin was that they did not come out in favour.

This reveals how the marriage debate is about so much more than just marriage. Last week in The Age, Aubrey Perry urged readers to vote ‘yes’, so that we can rid the public square of religion. Days later, Matt Holden, argued that the days must end when religious ideas can be allowed in political and public debate. These admissions are an embarrassment to some folk campaigning for ‘yes’, and so they’re obliged to stay course and insist no one is arguing for the diminishment of religious and public freedoms. Like climate change, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the evidence.

Once the Titanic hit an iceberg in the Northern Atlantic, the temptation to leave the sinking ship must have been almost irresistible. The urge to survive understandably drove many to fight their way onto the lifeboats, and even to leap into the icy waters below.

Free Speech in Australia hit the iceberg in March of this year. It was no accident. Social progressives had already hijacked public discourse in the country and been navigating toward the destruction of civil disagreement.

The initial scene looked innocent enough; the Bible Society sponsored a video conversation between to Government MPs, Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie. The two men sat down over a Coopers’ beer and enjoyed a civil conversation about marriage. The civility was too much, and within minutes pubs across the nation were boycotting Coopers, and tirades of abuse hit social media. So incensed were non beer drinkers and craft-beer drinkers across the nation, that they bought bottles of Coopers beer only to smash them in allys across the nation until Cooper’s management fell obliged to jump and join the fight for same-sex marriage.

The AMA (Australian Medical Association) was quick to join those supporting a change in marriage. Hundreds of doctor responded saying, ‘hang on, we don’t agree’, but apparently the only doctors  who understand medicine are those who support same-sex marriage

When a Fairfax Columnist and television comedian recently suggested that MPs should be sexually assaulted for not supporting same-sex marriage, there was broad silence among almost all media outlets. He later insisted that the tweet was a joke (as though sexual assault is funny).

What is this national conversation about? It is about our understanding of society’s basic and best building block, marriage. Should it be removed and an alternative inserted? It is also incumbent upon Australians to also recognise that this debate has further reaching consequences, including freedom to speak and expression an opinion without fear of being sacked or being publicly shamed for disagreeing with the self-appointed moral judges of our time.

 

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.

An Open Letter to LGBTI Australians about the marriage debate

Dear LGBTI Australians,

I am writing this open letter to express some thoughts in relation to the issue of same sex marriage. My intention is not to address every question—for that would require a very lengthy letter indeed—but I do wish offer a few reflections.

I want to begin by saying that I truly want you to live happy and fulfilling lives. I am sorry for the abuse and hate you have experienced from the community, even at times from Christians. 

Not for a moment will I pretend that I have always treated others with the dignity and love that I should. I am far from a perfect human being. I do however grieve the fact that so many LGBTI Australians have experienced much pain and sorrow.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, I understand that there is great diversity of opinion in our society. Even among LGBTI Australians, there is a wide range of views. Some folk wish to legalise same sex marriage simply because they believe in the institution of marriage and want the opportunity to marry. Others argue that legalising same-sex marriage is part of a broader campaign to dissolve marriage altogether along with all structures associated with a conservative and non-socialist agenda. Yet other gay couples have shared that they believe marriage should not be redefined. For example, Ben Rogers and Mark Poidevin who have been in a relationship for 15 years recently spoke out against gay marriage,

“If we make one exception for one community, that being the same-sex couples, where does it stop?” 

Again, other people are professing Christians and believe that celibacy, unless married to someone of the opposite gender, is the best way to live. 

I mention all this because it is very easy to make generalisations and to assume the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ camps are without nuance. I realise that not everyone laughed at Benjamin’s Law’s “humour” about sexual assaulting MPs, and not everyone is okay with last week’s violent protest at the University of Sydney. Similarly, the assault on Kevin Rudd’s godson was absolutely wrong and cannot be defended.

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In the last few years I have written several articles on the topic of marriage and sexuality because, while marriage is incredibly personal and private, it is also a public institution. Marriage is a way in which society self-defines and divides according to family units. Governments involve themselves in marriage because of children—to safeguard children so that they may be raised by their biological parents, except in unfortunate and extreme circumstances.

Given the public nature of marriage and how Acts of Parliament are purposed to influence society, I believe it is reasonable for fellow Australians to have freedom to speak and to argue their case. 

Sadly, in the same way that some journalists and social groups paint all LGBTI Australians with the same brushstroke, we are unfortunately seeing politicians and social commentators taking the same approach to caricature any Australian who opposes same-sex marriage. 

Contrary to a series of recent journalistic efforts by Fairfax writers, believing in classical marriage is not forcing a view on to society, rather it is bringing to the public square a view on why the current legal definition makes good sense. If we cannot have freedom to do this in Australia, we no longer have freedom. If public dissent from popular opinion is no longer allowed, we are moving toward a very precarious view of society.

I wonder, even for a moment, if you might consider the possibility that someone might vote ‘no’, not because they are hateful, but because they believe love requires us to say ‘no’ at times? For now, I’m not assuming the rightness and wrongness of any particular position. But can the word ‘no’ ever be tied to good intentions?

Regrettably, there are a small number of people who, for reasons that are hateful, don’t want marriage laws to change. The reality is, most people arguing for the status quo are doing so because of good reasons and out of love, even love for those who hold a different opinion. I will return to this below.

You may disagree with my understanding of marriage, but surely it’s possible to see that it is not illogical for people to believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Until a few years ago, this was the universal understanding of marriage. Indeed, many of the now vocal advocates in Parliament for same sex marriage were, until recently, vocal supporters of heterosexual only marriage. And while a few societies throughout world history have embraced homosexual relationships, none believed that they should be defined as marriage. To believe that marriage is for a man and a woman committing to life-long union is deeply rooted in history and logic and biology, and yes even theology. 

Many relationships can be described as loving, but not all are marriage. While I believe in dignity and inherent worth of every individual, we should not confuse equity with equivalence, for that ultimately makes marriage a meaningless word. Have we forgotten the two heterosexual men from New Zealand who in 2014, married in order to win free tickets to the Rugby World Cup? Also, we should not continue to build societal structures where more children will be raised without one or both of their biological parents.

I understand that for some Australians, the ‘no’ word will be unacceptable unless it is accompanied with a ‘yes’ vote. But I wish to convey to those who can cut through the piles of unhelpful rhetoric, it is possible to stand against bigotry and to believe that marriage should not be redefined.

Hate and violence derives from commitment to a worldview that cannot tolerate difference. This worldview may be have a religious orchestration or its shape may be that of secular humanism.

In my mind are the words of Jesus, who once said that it’s relatively easy to love those whom you like and who agree with you; it takes grace to love those with whom you disagree. We all fall short of this ideal, which would leave us hopeless, except there is one who lived the ideal without ever misstepping.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:27-36)

In the life of Jesus, we learn that he maintained the Bible’s view on marriage, that it is between a man and a woman intended for life. Jesus insisted on this even when the governing authorities of the day tried to change his mind (they were looking to justify divorce for any reason(s). At the same time, Jesus went out his way to spend time with and care for people who were often made to feel left out and were pushed aside by mainstream society. He could love a Samaritan woman without approving of her sexual past. He would choose the poor over the wealthy, or befriend the ‘sinner’ over the religious.

A Christian must not hate, because we have been on the other side; we have belonged to the crowd who have hurt others and thrown stones of hate, pride, and greed. Christians, if they are Christian, confess their spiritual and moral destitution, and yet we have come to experience the undeserving and loving grace of God who forgives our trespasses through Jesus. Once the human heart has experienced Divine forgiveness, we cannot walk back into old attitudes of disdain for other people, nor hold onto some cold and languid acquiescence toward popular moral thought. When God replaces hate with love, it is a commitment to affirm what is good as defined by God.

I understand the difference between religious and civic marriages, and so I’m not trying to conflate the two. The point I’m making here is that disagreement and hate are not synonymous. Cannot love lead us to disagree with fellow human beings?

I do not hate you. I would willingly stand alongside you against those who insult and assault you. These same values also convince me, by reason and love, that marriage should remain as currently defined.

 

 

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Murray Campbell , of Melbourne, Victoria.