Dear Christian, welcome to your new gospel-shaped posture for faithful ministry in 21st century Australia.
Yesterday, the vote of the Australian people on same-sex marriage was revealed with 61.6% voting in favour of ‘Yes’ and 38.4% voting in favour of ‘No.’ Our government will now be moving forward in passing legislation that legally changes the definition of marriage, likely before Christmas. Over the coming weeks these changes will come into effect and there will be much important discussion around the protection of religious freedoms. But as it stands, the only thing that seems clear is this: everything is about to change.
This afternoon, I had some time on a plane to reflect and write down a few thoughts. What will this mean for Christians who hold to the biblical teaching of marriage between one man and one woman for one lifetime? How should we respond? I keep coming back to three words.
Humility. Love. Courage.
- Humility: the refreshing, otherworldly presence of self-forgetfulness.
- Love: the fiercely cheerful, gospel-motivated commitment to the flourishing of others. Family-others. Neighbour-others. Enemy-others. Imago dei-others.
- Courage: the immovable stand of God’s people upon God’s Word, regardless of which direction the prevailing cultural wind is now blowing.
Welcome to what Scott Sauls has called “third way” Christianity, that rejects both the callousness of graceless-truth and the cowardice of truthless-grace. A disposition that is as winsome as it stubborn; a worldview that is as biblically principled as it is pastorally gentle; a conviction that is married to kindness and has no interest in a divorce. Admittedly (and to our shame), it should have always been this way. But it certainly now must become this way.
This is the cultural exile, where Daniel and his friends learned to thrive in the margins of pagan Babylon.
This is the Christian experience of Peter and the early Church who intimately knew both fiery trials and the fires of revival, at the same time.
This is what is considered ‘normal Christianity’ by the Church, in the majority world.
So yes, in one sense, everything has changed.
And yet, in a deeper sense, nothing has changed.
- God our Father, has not changed. (Revelation 1:8)
- Jesus our Saviour, has not changed. (Hebrews 13:8)
- The Holy Spirit our Helper, has not changed. (John 14:16)
- The Bible as God’s Word, has not changed. (1 Peter 1:25)
- The mission we’ve been saved into, has not changed. (Matthew 28:18-19)
- The gospel, as the power of God for salvation, has not changed. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 1:16)
- The call to holiness has not changed. (1 Peter 2:9-12)
- The call to die daily has not changed. (Luke 9:23)
- The access you have to the throne of God has not changed. (Hebrews 4:16)
- The command to love your neighbour has not changed. (Mark 12:31)
- The command to keep doing good – even through suffering – has not changed. (1 Peter 4:19)
- The promise that you will definitely be persecuted, has not changed. (2 Timothy 3:12)
- The promise that Jesus is with you, has not changed. (Matthew 28:20)
And the list could go on and on and on.
So yes, the law is going to change. Yes, there will be social ramifications, difficulties to navigate, and a cost to count. And yes, much is still unclear.
But you, Christian, are an ambassador of Christ. Your marching orders are as clear today, as the moment they left the mouth of our sin-conquering King who crushed the Serpent, killed Death, and rose again declaring: “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
So nothing has changed.
Family, we’ve got work to do and good news to tell. Let’s walk forward in humility, love, and courage.