A Christian student wrote to me about the plebiscite, and this (with name changed) was my reply.

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for writing to me about the plebiscite.  I agree that we must give this serious thought, and you have raised a number of very important points.

In terms of preserving freedoms, you are right when you say that when it comes to marriage, many Christians in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. are being prosecuted for refusing to violate their consciences.  If the law changes here then we will see the same prosecutions.

The fact is, every Australian adult is right now free to marry.  No one is free to marry whomever they want, but the restrictions apply equally to everyone, and are restrictions that help our society and protect the weak.

We are not being asked at this time to extend the freedom to marry to people who are unable to marry, for we all already have that freedom.  We are being asked instead to fundamentally change the meaning and definition of marriage in our laws.  We are being asked, in other words, to say that the relationship formed by two men or two women is fundamentally the same as the relationship formed by a man and a woman.  But this of course is not true, and the consequences of covering up the differences, or tearing down the differences, are momentous.

Marriage is a compound right.  The right to marry bears with it the right to have children.  A same-sex couple can only “have” a baby by removing a baby from her mother, or her father, or both.  In the past children who lost their parents through the tragedy of death, divorce, or abandonment; or because their parents were for some reason incapable of caring for them, were placed in the care of adoptive parents.  This was not to fulfil the desires of the adults, but to meet the needs of the child.

And that is because the bond between parent and child is sacred.  You should never remove a child from her parents unless it is absolutely necessary to her needs.

Yes, we already live in a society where this is happening.  Both same-sex and male-female couples remove children from their parents through third-party surrogacy arrangements.  If we redefine marriage, then instead of winding back this injustice, we will reinforce it.  We will reinforce that it is acceptable for adults to remove children from their natural parents, not for the needs of the child, but to fulfil the desires of adults.

The freedom for same-sex couples to “marry” therefore further destroys the freedoms of children to always know and be loved, wherever possible, by their parents.  (Katy Faust, who was raised by two women and who loves and respects them greatly, has spoken at length on the injustice of this.  She is worth looking up.)

Is it right to extend our values to others?  That is exactly what we are asked to do as citizens of a democracy.  We must say what we think is right: whether by voting for those who share the same values as us, by lobbying, or, as is the case here, by expressing our opinion in a plebiscite.

It is not right to impose our values on others by coercion, but it is right to express and state our values for other people to hear and weigh.    That is what it means to be a responsible citizen in a democracy.

It might be helpful to think about this in terms of another issue; for example giving aid to the starving.  We vote for a representative who agrees that we should help the starving; and we lobby our elective representatives to care for the needy; and if our government asks what we think about aid, then we say loud and clear that we should help.

If we think that Jesus’ plan for marriage is right and good, then it is not wrong to say that.  In fact, when Jesus tells us to be a light on a hill, and salt (which is rubbed into meat as a beneficial preservative), then it is a very good thing to speak up for his plan to the world around us.

Sarah there is nothing intolerant about saying that marriage shouldn’t be redefined.  Tolerance is not being quiet about our differences, or even trying to remove our differences.  Tolerance is loving and respecting a person that we may openly differ with.

I have a good friend, a bit of an LGBT activist.  We meet for coffee every so often and we love to talk about many things.  I disagree with homosexual practice, he knows that, and I think he still knows that I love and respect him.  He disagrees with what I believe about God and my Christian life and worship, but I know that he still loves and respects me.

Tolerance is not keeping silent about our disagreements and differences, or laying them down, but learning to love and respect those who disagree with us, while maintaining our convictions.

Voting yes to redefine marriage will only give our society the freedom to call something marriage that is not marriage.  It will only give us the freedom, in other words, to believe and live a falsehood.  As well, we remember that God’s Word clearly tells us God’s plan for men and women, marriage, sex, and family.  To turn away from God’s plan is not freedom, but a terrible slavery that hurts us and those around us.

My love for my same-sex attracted friends compels me to say no to something that will only hurt them, and keep them further removed from Jesus and his salvation.

Yes you are right that pastors will likely be continued to allow to decide whom they will marry.  For me this is a very minor issue.  I am far less interested in protecting my rights as a pastor, than doing what is most loving for my Lord Jesus, who designed marriage, and who calls us to repent of sin and to live his way.  And I want to love my community:  for children will be treated unjustly, and the same-sex attracted will ultimately be harmed, when we pretend that marriage is anything other than what Jesus made it to be.

Thankyou again for your time and thought.  I firmly believe that Christians can vote no with a good conscience, and that this is in fact the right and most kind and loving thing that we can do.   Please get back to me if you have more questions, I’d be delighted to try to answer them.

God bless you with your studies this year, and as you seek to grow in our beautiful Saviour!

In Him,