Wednesday, 04 July 2012

The ACL And Why We Don't Like Them

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Why is the ACL so obsessed with Same Sex Marriage? An actual Christian wonders at the misuse of his faith for political ends.

I am sick to death of the gay marriage debate.

Truly, I am. In a world where there are so many truly important issues to discuss, I find it incomprehensible that Christians are busy rending their garments over whether homosexuals should be able to call their relationships “marriage”.

On one side, homosexuals are insisting that being able to say that they are “married” is a “human right”. It remains unclear exactly how it is that the mere labelling issue will change anything other than the paperwork, but nonetheless the argument is vigorously prosecuted.

On the other hand, we have Christians flagellating themselves at the thought of homosexuals being allowed to marry. Exactly how it would actually affect, well, anything for a heterosexual, remains unclear.

Christian theology explains that the “quantum” of sin is neither here nor there. All humanity has fallen and sinful, and requires salvation through the death of Jesus on the Cross.

This means that the question is not the quantity of sin is a person’s life, but rather whether they have repented of their sin and sought forgiveness.

In other words, if a person has not accepted God’s forgiveness, it doesn’t really matter how much they have sinned — they are not saved.

Moreover, Christian theology teaches that it is not homosexual orientation that is sinful, but rather the act of homosexual sex.

In those circumstances, the Australian Christian Lobby’s disproportionate focus on homosexual marriage is puzzling, to say the least.

Jacob Holman graphed the press releases from the Australian Christian Lobby over the six months from January to June 2012 by category (see opposite page). It is pretty clear what the ACL care about.

It’s not even that you can suggest that gay marriage is the uniquely “live issue” - during the this time the Australian government abandoned its commitments on foreign aid and reduced welfare payments to our most vulnerable citizens and yet this barely rated a mention. Any reading of Jesus’ teaching or the Bible as a whole makes it clear that caring for the poor should be a priority - but it doesn’t seem important to the ACL.

Gay marriage was their number 1 issue - this, despite the fact that their position has no real justification in Christian theology.

Would the legalization of gay marriage result in less people accepting the Christian faith? It is difficult to see how that would follow.

The irresistible conclusion, in fact, is that the ACL’s agenda is not a “Christian” agenda, but rather simply a conservative one.

If the ACL sought, above all, to pursue an agenda in line with what the gospels say is God’s agenda, then their primary focus would be ensuring that Australia look after the poor and cared for people in need. They would pursue freedom of speech so that Christians could talk about their faith and make sure Australians were free to practice any religion they chose, without persecution or discrimination. They would concentrate on loving their brothers, not alienating them.

What the ACL has done instead is pursue a relentlessly conservative agenda and covered that agenda with a “Christian” cloak. That agenda is no more or less valid than any other agenda - lobby groups are an inevitable consequence of our democratic system of government. But the “Christian” label is grossly misleading.

The focus on gay marriage makes this especially clear.

As is probably by now obvious to you, I am a Christian, but I cannot see how gay marriage will have any effect on my marriage or my faith. I fail to see why it has anything to do with me at all, other than the fact that the legal right for people to enter into same sex marriage is being withheld by people claiming to speak on behalf of my religion. In case I haven’t made it clear yet - they do not speak for me or for my religion as I understand it.

Marriage, really, is a just a word. The ACL has not been able to advance any sensible argument against gay people using that word for their relationships, all they have is a simple adherence to a conservative ideology.

When allowing gay marriage would cost heterosexuals absolutely nothing, but would mean a great deal to some of the gay community, it seems simply malicious to refuse to do it. And when there are so many genuine Christian issues that are starved of any attention, pursuing this issue with such intensity betrays the true motives of the ACL.

Once gay marriage slips out of the spotlight we will finally see whether the ACL has the stomach to fight for the issues that most Christians actually care about. I’ll be eagerly watching to see whether their vigour in opposing gay marriage will be replicated on other issues.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 October 2012
Andrew Tiedt

Andrew is a criminal defence lawyer from Sydney. 

Follow him on twitter @mrtiedt