What is Intolerance? And A Quest for Liberty
In the Same-Sex Marriage debate there is a lot of press about people who vote "No" being intolerant of others' preferences. Actually, this is pushed so strongly that often total intolerance is shown to those who would vote "No"!
In response to this I wanted to raise the following ...
1. It is not intolerant to hold and express a different opinion: To think differently to the majority (or the loud minority!) and express this is not being intolerant. It is quite appropriate to have a firm and settled opinion for yourself that you can clearly articulate in discussion with others. Intolerance is related to forcing your decision or opinion on others. Jesus does not call us to do this. However, He does call us to, "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15-16). This is about expressing our Gospel Hope in Christ but it also sets the pattern for all ways we express Kingdom values to those who think differently to us.
2. It is not intolerant to want a different future for your children and society: There are many implications if the government approves Same-Sex Marriage and some of them may involve loss of liberty or freedom of choice. For example: If Same-sex Marriage is legislated it may become mandatory that all schools promote same-sex marriage. Will Christian schools that do not wish to hold this position be deregistered? How will it effect businesses that don't wish to support Same-Sex Marriage? A cake shop that doesn't wish to make wedding cakes for homosexual couples. A wedding photographer that decides not to book homosexual weddings. I raise both of these examples because they are real cases that experienced lawsuits and/or abuse in other countries that have introduced Same-sex Marriage. As a Christian Pastor will I be deregistered as a Marriage Celebrant because I will not marry Same-sex couples? How will it effect what Matt Mulready can teach in SRE in the High Schools? I raise this not to be alarmist but to reinforce the importance that Liberty or Freedom of Choice not be lost as a consequence of the Same-sex Marriage decision. If Same-sex Marriage is finally approved by the government I pray that we will still have the right to hold to a different position without being discriminated against. Freedom of Choice or Liberty is the real issue!
3. Don't expect a non-Christian Society to want to hold to a Christian Ethic: It is not reasonable to expect that Australia should hold to Christian values. Even though a number of our laws have a Christian foundation our culture is very different to the culture of the Kingdom of God. Don't be surprised if over the next 50 years there is a significant divergence between Australian Culture and Christian values. The gap will get wider and you will need to make a choice. Actually, Jesus calls us to make that choice now but the impact for daily life can be masked to a significant extent at present. That will change as time progresses.
4. In a climate of intolerance be tolerant: By this I don't mean endorse other people's values but give them the right to hold them. In the volatile climate of Rome in 58AD Paul called upon Christians to "Bless those who persecute you" and "If it is possible, as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone." (Romans 12:14,18). Jesus asks the same of us. Hold firmly to our kingdom values but also reach out in love and peace to those around us, no matter what their sexual orientation.
5. Don't make this one issue the Big Issue: The Big Issue is a person's response to Jesus. Continue to reach out to all and pray that all may come to surrender their lives to Jesus. Do this with humility as each day you live surrendered to Jesus your Lord and Saviour - your King.
Your brother in Christ