So the plebiscite is coming. It’s not the one we were told we’d be having (then told we were not having) but it is still a chance for us to make our opinion on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised known. Now that it has been decided that it’s happening, lobby groups and people with opinions all over the country are gearing up for a fight. For those of us who are Christians, how we engage with this is important; we can either help the cause of Jesus or hinder it. So here are four ideas for Christians about how we can do this plebiscite well.
Don’t say horrible things about other humans
No matter where you stand, there’s a very good chance that all of us are going to be tempted to say mean things about other people – whether they identify as LGBTQI, as a conservative Christian, a progressive Christian, a politician, a combination of these, or something else entirely. Facebook is already full of people debating the value, or lack thereof, of this plebiscite. All the people you interact with, and speak about, whether in broad generalisations or in very specific terms, are made in the image of God, they are loved by him, and Jesus died for them. Treat them for who they are. They are God’s and he will take your treatment of them personally.
Particularly watch how you speak about people from the LGBTQI community, especially if, like me, you’re a Christian who is not from this community yourself and therefore may not know what you’re talking about and probably cannot speak on their behalf. You may say something deeply hurtful out of ignorance more than malice, but whatever your motives or intentions, you are still responsible for your words. Be careful. How should you be careful? I’ll show you a most excellent way…
Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry
In case you’re wondering, that’s a quote from James 1:19. What if our first response to someone who disagrees with us either online or IRL was “Tell me more”, “I don’t know enough about this, help me understand”, or “Thank you, I hadn’t thought of things that way.” Chances are whatever you want to say has already been said, so you probably don’t need to say it again, they’ve heard it before. But what if you were known as someone who listened, someone who was thoughtful, and someone who was not easily baited. That’s probably better than being known as someone who thinks they’re right, and tells everyone else why they’re right, and how everyone can be right like them.
If you’re going to vote, don’t be proud of how you are going to vote
You may be tempted to be proud of how progressive and accepting you are because you are choosing to vote for same-sex marriage. You may be tempted to be pleased with yourself for standing firm in the face of negative public opinion because you will choose to vote against same-sex marriage. But there is no place for pride in the life of a Christian. Your value is not found in your moral values or your political or social opinion. You are no better or worse a person in the eyes of God because you vote “Yes” or “No”. Boast only in Christ, approach everything else with the humility of someone who knows your righteousness is not found in your actions but in his.
If it won’t help the Gospel, stop
My biggest concern with any discussion about this plebiscite is that we get distracted by things that are less important than the gospel [...]