There has been a spate of articles lately putting forward the conservative case for same-sex marriage. Even our current Prime Minister, who has been described by many in our country as a “Labor lite” leader of the Liberal Party has put forward the case that gay marriage is a conservative issue because marriage itself is a conservative issue.
Greg Sheridan, one of Australia’s most influential conservative journalists, recently wrote a quite frankly bewildering article in favour of redefining marriage. While acknowledging that, “the Christian churches argue … that it is of the essence of marriage that it involves a man and a woman” and that, “I am not asking Christian churches to change their doctrines” he nonetheless precisely argues that they should do this very thing because, “It is not a view that any longer expressed the social consensus.”
I’m sorry, but isn’t that just begging the question? I thought that, that’s why we are about to have a plebiscite – to discern what the ‘social consensus’ might be. But even if the majority of people in this nation did think that the definition of marriage should be altered, is that in and of itself a compelling reason for people to change their core beliefs? Should Christians decide spiritual truth, like they do on the TV show Survivor, by tribal council?
Sheridan also argues for the bizarre parallel that because theologians such as Augustine (fourth century) and Thomas Aquinas (thirteenth) viewed prostitution as being immoral but not necessarily illegal then Christians today should vote in favour of LGBTIQ people being given the right to marry. However, to even suggest this is to not only completely misunderstand the theological convictions of both men but also betrays a profound ignorance of church history.
For Augustine, whom the Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther and especially John Calvin looked to rather than Aquinas (whose influence on Western Christianity Sheridan grossly overestimates) marriage was for the production of, “children, which is the one alone worthy fruit, not of the bonding of male and female, but of their sexual intercourse.”
What’s more, Alistair Nicholas has recently argued that since Aquinas was a philosopher in the Aristotelian tradition it is completely “misleading and mistaken” to invoke his example in the way that Sheridan does. This is because paradigm of natural law would have viewed homosexual behaviour, let alone marriage, as inherently contradictory.
The greatest logical misstep that Sheridan makes though is his contention that, “Christians should compromise on same sex-marriage but fiercely defend religious freedoms to the very death.” Has he been so busy writing the news that he hasn’t had time to actually read it? What does he think Dr Pansy Lai is being subjected to with a recent 6,000 strong petition on GetUp! (since withdrawn) to see her deregistered as a doctor?
Incredibly, Sheridan goes on to blithely state, “Priest and pastors will never be coerced in this way. There is absolutely no social consensus behind such coercion.” But what if the social consensus were to change, just like it has in every other nation that has acquiesced to the rainbow warriors?
As though he anticipated that exact scenario, Sheridan goes on in the very next paragraph, to refer to the ‘very grave’ challenge to religious freedom of the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart who, “…circulated a moderate and entirely respectful pamphlet, Don’t Mess with Marriage –and Tasmania’s anti-discrimination commission agreed to hear a complaint against him.”
So, are pastors and priests being subject to coercion then or not? And if this is what is happening before we have a plebiscite what are the LGBTIQ zealots going to be like if they actually do get their way?
As many of us “religious types” are increasingly coming to realise, promoting the playground bully to the position of school Principal doesn’t mean that he or she will curb their aggression. Instead, they will then have the power to more effectively enforce it.
Incredibly, Sheridan himself is aware of precisely that kind of situation stating, “Overseas examples abound. An award-winning orthodox Jewish girls school in London has three times been refused the renewal of its state accreditation in part because it won’t teach about gender reassignment in the approved way.” Sadly, redefining marriage in England certainly didn’t make people more tolerant of people of faith, did it?
People in the West are witnessing a rate of social change rarely seen in the history of the world. Aldous Huxley envisioned a time when religion would be expunged from the public square and that it would be quarantined on ‘reservations’ where they could live as ‘savages’ away from those who are truly ‘civilised.’
That is precisely what life under a “secular caliphate” looks like. Forget such modern dystopian fables at Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale where people are oppressed by a Christian theocracy. There hasn’t been anything like that occurring since…well since the time of Aquinas. And even then, rather than make prostitution illegal he actually allowed those he strenuously disagreed with to co-exist.
Do you really think that those in the “yes” campaign will give whose beliefs are becoming increasingly mocked and ridiculed as being ‘poisonous’ and even ‘immoral,’ the same level of freedom and tolerance? I think that an ever-growing number of, even non-religious, people are starting to perceive that it won’t.
That’s because quite frankly, they despise those who disagree with them. And they won’t be happy until they’ve had prominent leaders like Andrew Hastie, who supports traditional marriage muzzled and sent to the ‘reservation.’ As has become increasingly obvious, through the Safe Schools agenda is that the LGBTIQ lobby doesn’t just want a slice of the “heteronormative” wedding cake – they want to completely overhaul how it is structured so that things such as polyamorous marriage are also viewed as being valid.
Conservatives like Greg Sheridan need to wake up and realise that they’ve been hit by the fairy wand of LGBTIQ identity politics. People of faith in general, and Christians in particular, cannot compromise on their core beliefs and at the same time hope to enjoy religious freedom. As Winston Churchill once said, “You cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth.”
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
Cartoon: Ben R Davis.
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