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Dear Col: letter to a good mate re: 'same-sex', 'not cricket' and all that

Thursday, 31 May 2018  | John Kidson

G'day Col,*

I wanted to say more the other night, but when Chris* arrived I thought it better to wait. So here I go, caressing the keyboard again.

Some months ago, you didn't seem too worried that a plebiscite vote might bring on more harassment and pain for people like you with same-sex attraction. While I know you don't readily identify with the LGBTIQ community, still they may have had a fair point in their concerns. Yet interestingly, more hate speech and vilifying came from the Yes proponents. I know you agree that not all of us straight (how I hate that term) people are homophobic!

The question itself I reckon needed far more consideration than a postage stamp implied! It was much more important than a walk to the local post office. Posting demeaned the question, and so ... I would have asked, but for Chris' arrival: How ought Christians have voted? I think we agree we had a democratic duty to register an opinion. As Christians we need always to express our position. But we won't all necessarily agree. I think only a few Christian positions can in honesty be thought of as the 'church line’.

Certainly the plebiscite opened the proverbial can of worms. There've been splits not only between, but also within, each side of the debate. How ought we have voted? You and I? From various conversations we've shared, and from my understanding of your particular position, I suspect we would have come down on different sides. I think that's OK. Obviously we each claim to follow Jesus and trust him for everything. We acknowledge our own minor belief differences and practices - we belong to different churches. Maybe discussing the 'Pros and Cons' of same-sex marriage created a sharper divide than other issues. Even another Council of Trent moment? Council of Canberra? But our friendship is strong despite our different sexual orientations.

No doubt there's still a few coffees' worth of discussion left for us. We won't need to discuss this when we drink new kingdom wine! (Amen, come Lord Jesus!) Right now I am really concerned that we are all failing at Jesus' serpent and dove philosophy. We seem to be sucked in by power or heat. Wisdom and gentleness are relegated to a back seat. I reckon there are only two principles that are needed to govern our thinking and therefore the way we voted:

Grace and Truth.

Of course there are many facets to the argument, but it seems certain that these two principles remain key. That's rather good, because Jesus was full of Grace and Truth (John 1.14). In each of his encounters with people he demonstrates these traits, for example:

  • He acknowledges a rich young ruler's exemplary lifestyle and lovingly challenges him with the words: ‘One thing you lack, sell all you have and give the money to the poor’ (Mark 10:20).
  • He surprises the woman at the well when he seemingly condescends to request a drink from her. During the conversation that follows, he gently probes until she reveals her marriage failures. In response to her genuine questions, he reveals the truth about himself (John 4).
  • When a woman caught in the act of adultery is dragged, without her partner, before him, Jesus challenges the crowd by declaring that the 'fault-less' one should begin the execution. Later, when her accusers have withdrawn, he doesn't condemn her. Instead he encourages her into leading a different lifestyle (John 8).
  • When the disciples enquire for the sinful cause of a man's congenital blindness, Jesus declares that there is none, rather ‘so God's work may be displayed in his life’ (John 9:3). No condemnation - just Grace and Truth as he heals.

Jesus, being full of Grace and Truth, exudes these qualities, demonstrating the principles by which we need to live. Dare we live this radical lifestyle in twenty-first century Australia?

A new wrist-band: DLLJ? (Dare to live like Jesus?)

Me? I guess, like you, my daring is a bit of a stumble, trying to walk in his steps. I reckon these two principles are our essential guidelines for twenty-first century living in Australia. I mean, since the plebiscite we've had the Barnaby Joyce political furor and then the cricket scandal.

I can well imagine Jesus standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Barnaby and Vikki; and with Steve, David and Cameron. I can almost hear his challenge to various politicians, sports stars and fans, and journos: ‘who's the first to throw?’ And then a personal word to each of the shame-faced: ‘you can do better! Come on, play the game!’

Of course, we will all stumble in applying these guidelines and may reach different conclusions where we can respectfully disagree. The Grace imperative of Jesus' life holds up: Grace for all of us, as we are! Grace to assist us in all our struggling. After all, ‘no-one is righteous, no not one’ (Romans 3:10). It's for sure that we are all sexually broken, all liars and cheats. We stand in need of divine assistance. As we accept Truth, Grace sets us free.

I hope I haven't dribbled on too much mate. When we talk next I really want to find out more of your ideas about staying true and 'unstained' from the world. I mean, which of has the more difficult struggle? Or are our struggles just different?

Well mate, maybe the above thoughts can be as stimulating as our next double-shot coffee?

See you then.



* Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

John Kidson is a former youth worker and retired Uni Chaplain.

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