Our friendships are shattering

“Don’t trade Jesus’ truth for friendship. The greatest need for people in our lives is not our friendship, but Christ. The greatest need is not peaceful and quiet relationships, but Jesus’ saving death.

Yes fight hard to keep your relationships, but never at the expense of truth, or by keeping the kind of silence that communicates ambivalence about the truth. …”

– Campbell Markham at Crossroads Presbyterian in Hobart (reportedly the subject of a complaint to the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commission) writes about the tragic breakdown across the country, and the choices facing Jesus’ people.

Related: Push to change Tasmanian anti-discrimination laws rejected ahead of same-sex marriage vote – ABC News.

Marriage Once More

“Finally it seems to have come to a head. There’ll be a postal plebiscite on marriage redefinition. Lyle Shelton, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, tweeted:

“Well, it’s game on to save marriage, freedom & gender. This is the fight of our lives.”

Regulars here know I am committed in this debate. I have written and spoken publicly in multiple venues in favour of classic marriage, on radio, newsprint, blogs and lectures.

However, Shelton is wrong. The marriage definition debate is not “the fight of our lives”.

The fight of our lives occurred two thousand years ago. And we did not win it. Christ won it for us, when he died on the cross – for the sins of people like you and me – whether black or white, male or female, civilized or wild, straight or same-sex attracted!

And whatever happens in the Australian marriage debate, Jesus will still be on his throne. He’s seated at the right hand of God, risen from the dead, conquering the grave. By that resurrection, Jesus was publicly declared by God as King of his Universe, far above all earthly powers and authorities. No politics can change that!

And Christians will still be able to live out their marriage vows as best they can, struggling to be faithful, to care for their kids, and offering forgiveness when we each fall short.

But God has placed us as citizens in a democracy. So we ought to vote and advocate for what is best for humanity. And God’s ways are good! …”

– In his Minister’s letter last week, Sandy Grant at St. Michael’s Cathedral Wollongong helps us keep the plebiscite in perspective. Read it all.

See also 1 Timothy 2:1-6 –

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

A popular vote is the best way to go, but arguments for gay marriage don’t hold up

“Ask yourself what is the most decent and respectful thing to do: is it to endorse this change that the gay lobby is stridently insisting upon; or is it to question whether a few years’ agitation should unmake a concept of marriage that had stood for many centuries and has always been regarded as the rock upon which society is built?

Ask yourself what’s more likely to maintain respect for marriage and to reinforce the notions of constancy and selflessness that sustain all lasting relationships: an ongoing recognition that marriage is a union of one man with one woman, preferably for life and usually dedicated to children; or changing marriage so that it can mean any two people who love each other? …”

– The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP, explains his thinking. Originally published in today’s The Australian, and also on his website.

Changing the Marriage Act could change the country

“Before Australians start voting in the same-sex marriage postal plebiscite next month — assuming the High Court allows it to proceed — the Turnbull government has a vast amount of work to do. It must detail how it would protect freedom of religion in the event of a change to the Marriage Act.

The proposed Marriage Act Amendment Bill released by five Liberal MPs on August 6 falls far short of doing so. …”

— Editorial from The Australian, 14th August 2017. (Subscription.)

Rights clash looms in SSM debate – Essential reading

“While the flawed postal vote plebiscite has provoked furious rival responses, the pivotal problem is just emerging — the failure in any draft bill by Coalition or Labor MPs to fully protect religious freedoms once same-sex marriage is legislated. …

Beyond the campaign lies the great dilemma. The proposition is lethal — that it would constitute a historical betrayal of the values of the Coalition parties if they “backed” a bill post-plebiscite on same-sex marriage that exposed individuals and institutions to retaliation for their beliefs because the government failed to strengthen Australia’s woefully inadequate laws on religious freedom and protection. …“

– See this must read opinion piece by Paul Kelly in The Australian. (Subscription.)

The New / Old way our Culture pressures us to Conform

“As Christians we take comfort in laws governing free speech and protecting freedom of religion. But pleading conformity to the law means little when a society has shifted to a culture of shame and honour. …”

Tim Challies addresses the answer to the shame Christians are tempted to feel.

Why marriage should be between a man and a woman

” ‘On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect. The party’s position is very clear that this is an institution that is between a man and a woman.’

If I told you that was a quote from Cory Bernardi, Lyle Shelton or worse, that oft condemned unreconstructed traditionalist Tony Abbott, would you consider it just more evidence of their homophobia? Many commentators would. It seems right now no one can make any statement in favour of marriage without being condemned for being a ‘hater’ or ‘bigot’.

However, the statement doesn’t come from Mr Bernardi, but from that other strong-minded senator from South Australia, Penny Wong. …”

– Read the full article by Michael Kellahan, executive director of Freedom for Faith, at The Sydney Morning Herald. (Subscription.)

See also: Churches lay out plebiscite fears for PM, The Australian. (Subscription.)

The Anglican Archbishop of ­Sydney, Glenn Davies, and leading Catholic officials have written to Malcolm Turnbull demanding that any proposed bill on same-sex marriage be released before Australians are asked to vote on the issue. …

“This timeframe is inapprop­riately short, particularly given there remain a number of un­resolved questions concerning the postal plebiscite process,” ­Archbishop Davies wrote.

Integrity Theft

“Early this year I was cleaned out.

Wallet, phone and keys, all gone in a flash. I’m not crying victim. I dropped my guard, turned my back and took my eye off the ball for no more than a few seconds. …”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, David Mansfield warns of the ever-present danger of Integrity Theft.

John Anderson on what’s happening in Australia over the same-sex marriage plebiscite

Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson spoke about his very real concerns for Australia – on ABC News.

Well worth watching – on YouTube. (9’30”.)

Religious Freedom protections in new same sex marriage proposals: too few, too narrow

“The debate over same sex marriage in Australia has been re-ignited by news that some members of the federal governing Liberal/National Party (LNP) coalition are proposing, contrary to their party’s policy, to introduce legislation in Federal Parliament this coming week to redefine marriage to extend it to same sex couples.

In particular, press reports today indicate that a new Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 will be introduced, one feature of which is that it contains legislative protections for religious freedom, designed to encourage support of the legislation by believers.

In my view the protections to be provided, if press reports about the proposal are accurate, are far too few and far too narrow, and the proposal cannot be seen as providing adequate protection for this fundamental human right. …”

– Here is an important and very current contribution by Associate Professor Neil Foster, at Law and Religion Australia.

See also: Liberal MPs urged to “keep their promise” regarding a Plebiscite.

Chinese whispers at the ABC

“A media fracas broke out this past week over Julia Baird’s reports on the ABC about links between Christian teachings and domestic violence against women.

My personal experiences as an Anglican pastor resonated with much that Baird reported. She made valuable points about the impact of particular Christian teachings and Bible verses on some women, such as the injunction in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians for wives to ‘submit’ to their husbands. I did not see her work as an attack on Christianity.

However Baird’s findings, which included harrowing interviews with victims of abuse, were overshadowed by disputes about a report she gave of American research findings concerning the connection between Christian faith and domestic abuse.…”

– At The Spectator Australia, Mark Durie in Melbourne looks at the ‘chain of evidence’ relied on in the ABC reports.

Also see Faith, family, violence and the ABC’s smears – Mark Powell.

“Since Baird’s article and the subsequent piece on 7:30, I have followed up on all the academic sources that she references. It really wasn’t that hard since there was only one. However, in that sole reference, a footnote led me to a number of other works. …”

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