Hi God, it’s me, Phil.
And I’m sorry but I have to tell You, I’m a little over the marriage equality ‘debate’ that’s raging in Sydney right now. My itchy BC (before Christ) skin, as You well know from my previous wranglings with same sex attraction and Christianity, is rolling her eyes. We have social orphans committing suicide in Russia, poverty in Africa, child-sex trafficking, forced prostitution, Aborginal health, detention centres, women being murdered by their partners or husbands….need I go on? I feel we’ve got our perspective and priorities seriously skewed.
There’s money being spent on adverts that don’t get aired, media events that people don’t turn up to, and metres of vertical trolls on social media.
Screw marriage rights, God, screw ’em. Tell you what, why don’t we do a Brangalina type announcement and say that no-one gets married until we sort out poverty, illiteracy, access to education, domestic violence, world peace etc. etc.
That’s right: no-one. Then we’ll see just how committed everyone REALLY is to marriage equality. What do you reckon?
I know, I know, it’ll upset the unwed Christians because they won’t be getting any, if they are honouring You, due to Your no sex without marriage request (well, maybe a little stronger than a request, but I’m in PR). Anyway. Think of the focus it would achieve. Nothing like enforced celibacy to gird one’s loins for mission and change.
But I really think it’s the best way to sort it out. Kind of like toddlers arguing over a toy car in the sandpit. Take it away. End of argument.
The irony here is the greatest gift You blessed me with: the ability to see both sides. So You set Yourself up royally for my wrestling. I don’t want to be a bad and unfaithful servant, honest, but I’m still figuring out how to be truth-filled and grace-filled and hold the space for Jesus to walk into it on this one.
I admit, I want You to make it easy for me. I want it so marriage equality doesn’t keep making Christians appear like a bunch of intolerant bigots.
Christians, for the most part, are trying to stick to Your word. Which is pretty damn unpopular in 2015. Fastest way to lose friends is wear a cross around your neck these days and point to the Bible as truth. And that breaks my heart because some of the most caring, compassionate people I know are Christians getting a bad rap for sticking to their belief in Your word.
So, Lord, I want to pray for those scripture-focused Christians who say, “I’d rather get to heaven and have God ask me, “Why couldn’t you just keep up with the times on same sex marriage?” instead of, “Well, could you not read My word?””
They are putting God above self and aren’t winning any popularity contests. But to say they are hating bigots is not only wrong and unfair, it’s a dangerous slippery slope regarding freedom of belief.
I also want to pray for the less scripturally-focused Christians (the popularist pastors). And anyone they’ve sent off-piste. That’d be a real kick in the proverbials come the pearly gates. My challenge, personally, is wanting those popularist pastors to be right. For me, they are weepingly, painfully seductive. I want their biblical gymnastics to make sense. I want this to be easy.
But (much like Bogart and Bacall) of all the churches in all of Sydney I could have called that day, You delivered a scriptural pastor at the end of the phone. You could have delivered a hall pass. (Sigh).
A dear SSA friend asked me about the scriptural take the other day. After I cautiously explained it with as much care and respect as possible, he thanked me. “I have never had the opportunity to explore both sides before,” he said. “I’m not Christian, so I’d never ask to take part in a Christian marriage ceremony. But at least I understand it better now.”
Because both sides deserve a fair hearing. Which isn’t happening in Australia, as Paul Barrie from MediaWatch recently demonstrated. What happened? Why is holding a different viewpoint now taken as an excuse to vilify? Some of the most dangerous atrocities in the world have stemmed from intolerance and vilification of different viewpoints. So I pray that stops. Soon.
So God, I’ll keep wrestling. Sorry. But I’ll also try my damnedest to hold the space for Jesus’ grace and Your love to walk though.