"Has the Left abandoned its prophetic role?"
is the title of an article in this month's Eternity newspaper by well-known New South Wales Baptist pastor Karl Faase.
While I do not like binary terms such as 'left' and 'right' to pigeon hole people on the political spectrum, I have, like Karl, been concerned that it is ok to speak out about some political issues but not others.
The key idea of his article, which is not available on-line, is summed up here:
“Where is the left-leaning Christian voice on issues of morality and Biblical ethics in our present community? Why do they remain completely silent? How is it justifiable to use the Bible as a text to call for justice and yet fail to speak for what the Bible has to say about morality, the sanctity of life and the dignity of the individual? Where are the clear statements about issues such as abortion, euthanasia and same sex marriage?”
Karl nominates same-sex marriage as an issue on which some Christian leaders are silent while advocating, often quite vociferously, for 'social justice' issues.
As an organisation, ACL took a strategic decision three years ago to work towards preserving man-woman marriage in the face of what has become a very fierce, intolerant and relentless campaign for changing the definition of marriage.
We live in a participatory democracy and we believe marriage, and the idea that children should wherever possible have the opportunity to know and be raised by their biological mother and father, is worth upholding for future generations.
We are committed to advocating for the public benefits of marriage between a man and a woman but we are also motivated by other issues as well.
When I joined in 2007, one of my first tasks was arranging meetings in Parliament House for the then fledgling Micah Challenge organisation which also campaigns against poverty and injustice.
This week I took a delegation of Australian Syrian Christian community leaders into the Parliament seeking help for persecuted minorities caught in the cross fire of the civil war.
Karl said in his article "Like many Christians I have cringed at the way Christian leaders have spoken publicly about moral issues".
I have learned some hard lessons along the way about the importance of messaging – there have been times where I wished I could have rephrased something I’ve said.
But at the same time, the media environment is very tough in a culture which is increasingly antagonistic to a Christian worldview. It’s also not very forgiving when it comes to making mistakes.
It’s also not always balanced. This week I was asked to do an interview for Channel 10's late night news with regards to the High Court case on marriage. Of the five minute plus package that went to air, I was given nine seconds. The rest was devoted to pro-same-sex marriage commentary.
Whenever I question whether we should continue to speak into the space on this issue, I always come back to my conviction that speaking truth in love to our culture is a necessary part of the Gospel. I’m grateful to ACL supporters for their continued encouragement and support throughout this campaign.
Karl expresses concern that there is sometimes inconsistency when about speaking into the public square. ACL shares this concern and I believe the environment would be less toxic had there been more voices in the marriage debate over the past few years.
The same-sex marriage debate is a debate that has sadly paralysed dissent, leaving a vacuum which the proponents of changing marriage have filled.
It is a debate that goes to the heart of social justice for children, yet we are largely silent.
Last night a Christian friend approached me at a function, complimented me on the fine job ACL was doing but then proceeded to say same-sex marriage was inevitable.
I wonder if he realises what he is conceding in a statement like that?
I believe only death and taxes are inevitable. It is time we as Christians found a bit of Churchillian "we will never surrender" spirit and applied our faith in a miracle working God.
Yes, we should and must be gracious in our public pronouncements. But we should also be clear. It is ironic that on other 'social justice' issues it is quite ok to be voiciforous.
It is also ironic that we are on the cusp of seeing the the political campaign to change marriage sidelined for many years and yet many think it is inevitable.
I am hopeful the High Court will overturn the ACT's same-sex marriage laws next week. There have been eight failed legislative attempts in the past three years to change marriage and advocates have all but run out of options. It will be the ninth failed attempt if the High Court overturns the bill.
We should not give up, we should be prophetic across the full range of Biblical teaching. Future generations will thank us.