What more can be said?
That has been my defence for saying precisely nothing about the upcoming postal plebiscite on marriage here in The Great Southland.
And then I remembered Olaf.
Olaf is the endearing snowman character in the Disney movie, Frozen. I know this because both my children are enchanted by the film and invariably ask me to play various YouTube clips from it daily. Often more than once. And there’s this one tune where Olaf waxes lyrical about his long-held desire to experience Summer.
“A drink in my hand
My snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned
Olaf sings this – the snowman who’s made of ice that melts and all.
Seeing that charming, smiling character waltzing to his own demise made me think of Australians who are blindly accepting the yes vote because “love is love”. No thought to repercussions that other countries are already experiencing. And then there’s the Kristoffs and Annas (you need to watch the clip!) who are withholding their voice, their information, their wisdom, for fear of upsetting the giddy freedom dance.
I know the analogy has holes, and please don’t read too much into it, but that’s where this started.
Christians all over the place are afraid to share their opinion. Ours’ is an unpopular viewpoint. Making a stand for traditional marriage, the way it stands and the way it has served us for centuries, is somehow out of fashion.
We don’t all have to step up to the soap box and opine to the masses. But I see how arguments are unravelling in Social Media Land and how some might be intimidated into silence. Fear is a cruel master and we have to make sure we don’t let it result in a vote contrary to our convictions, or a missed vote opportunity entirely.
I’m not going down the rabbit warren of reasons why my vote will be no. There are more eloquent people who have already done that, and I particularly respect the voices of people like Brian Houston, John Dickson, Miranda Devine and Tasmanian pastor Campbell Markham.
“When generous, thoughtful Christians stay quiet – no doubt for noble reasons – the vacuum is filled with doctrinaire liberal fancies and/or tone deaf conservative denunciations.”
– John Dickson.
I am a Christian.
That literally means I am a ‘Christ one’. I belong to Jesus. His way is my way. To vote yes would be to compromise my faith. Not because I have anything but respect and love for my fellow man (including people from the LGBTQI community, and any other minority group for that matter), but because I value marriage in it’s current form, the way the Bible directs us to be united.
I’m not interested in these fiery online debates where people are dehumanised to mere tonsils slinging words in an epic tournament of vitriol. I see people writing things they wouldn’t dream of speaking to another person, eyeball to eyeball. And I’m referring to both sides of the marriage fence here.
What I would love is to sit down with more people for meaningful discussions, walls down, hearts bared, amidst all the nuances of expression and body language and tone.
From experience, when I’ve written, “I love you, but I don’t agree with your actions” (love the sinner, hate the sin…), people still read hate. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I labour over the tone, word choices and how to express my motivation in this space. Opposition equals hate.
And that’s what worries me the most in this debate.
So I’m not doing that. I’m putting my pen down and inviting direct discussion. I won’t be arcing up on social media. I’ll sit across the table instead and listen, valuing every insight, giving my full attention, seeing a different perspective. It doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind, but I acknowledge that this topic is intensely divisive and I think we can do more listening, more understanding, more loving.
Jesus demonstrated a love so radical that it could at once show immense mercy and firm direction. Remember the woman caught in adultery in John 8? She was guilty, that much was clear. And the punishment of the day was death by stoning. Brutal, right?
Jesus’ famous words ring out through the centuries to today: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The bloodthirsty people who had gathered to partake in her death peeled away, one by one, until Jesus was left with just the disgraced woman.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jesus said.
“No one, sir,” the woman replied.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.
The story doesn’t end there. It would be a comfy place to land the full stop but Jesus required more. His love didn’t compromise for a feel-good moment. It had a steely edge, a warning, a directive:
“Go now and leave your life of sin.”
We’re all that sinner, and true love is tough.
I pray wisdom as you gather your thoughts, as you seek truth, as you discuss what marriage is and as you vote.