I enjoyed appearing with Matt Prater—the pastor from Q&A with Kevin Rudd—on ABC’s Sunday night radio program, along with Melbourne theologian, Andrew McGowan, hosted by Noel Debien, on the issue of slavery and Bible interpretation.
I respect that the ABC has a charter to represent a wide variety of viewpoints and so, among those, gave Bible-based Christians a chance to speak on the chosen topic.
For those interested, here’s a reply I sent to someone who was in favour of same-sex marriage, but took the trouble to email and disagree with me personally but politely over my original piece on The Briefing, which got picked up on The Drum. It clearly touched a nerve, receiving over 900 comments there, and 270 here.
I hope my reply (lightly edited) might help us all, as we engage with different points of view.
Thanks for taking the trouble to contact me.
We probably differ—possibly considerably—on interpretation of the Scriptures, and how that goes to the heart (or otherwise) of the gospel of Jesus.
Regardless, I would like to treat gay people with kindness. Like most people, I know various people who identify as gay or lesbian, and others who are same-sex attracted but have decided not to be sexually active. I have friends and relatives who disagree with me and feel my position as a personal pain.
Yet I have never presumed that to love those I disagree with means an obligation to agree or approve of the morality of the particular activity or belief at dispute.
I do think it means speaking to people with courtesy and care. I also think it means taking care to ensure your comments are not easily twisted by others as a cover for abuse, etc.
And I think it means defending their rights for freedom of speech as much as my own.
And lastly I think it means actively protecting them from bullying.
But none of that seems to preclude saying, “I disagree with the morality of this or that belief or action, and here’s why.” Otherwise we can have no freedom of speech. Love could never then rebuke another.
Anyway, I have found myself coming back time and again to the incident in John 8:1-11, where:
- Jesus protects the woman taken in adultery from the self-righteous threats of religious leaders, and
- offers her non-condemnation himself, and
- yet at the same time also tells her to leave her life of sin.
In my inadequate way, I am trying to follow that model. I am sorry that this may not be an entirely satisfactory answer from your point of view, but in my better moments, it’s my honestly held conviction.
Thank you again for writing.
- Note: From the ABC’s current Editorial Policies
Chapter 4 Impartiality and diversity of perspectives
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.
4.3 Do not state or imply that any perspective is the editorial opinion of the ABC. The ABC takes no editorial stance other than its commitment to fundamental democratic principles including the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, parliamentary democracy and equality of opportunity.
4.4 Do not misrepresent any perspective.
4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another. ↩