Pastoral Letters


Not like other sins – Why we are opposed to Same sex marriage

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Dear congregation,
As I am sure you are all aware, there is to be an Australia wide postal vote about Same-Sex-Marriage. You will, undoubtedly, have been already exposed to proponents of both sides of the argument, each making their case as to why their opinion should prevail and be enshrined in law.

Though, as the church, we are in the world but not of the world, yet we find ourselves embroiled in this current controversy over so-called ‘marriage equality’. It should be noted that this is not a debate that was started by the church, but one into which we find ourselves being dragged by the moral revolutionaries of today. This question, which seems to be at the forefront of our culture, has come about only within the last generation, and is intent on overthrowing what has been the worldwide position on marriage from the beginning of time, namely, that marriage is a God-given institution between one man and one woman.

We are facing a true moral inversion – an implosion of the morality that has been the bedrock of society for millennia. Within the last thirty years homosexuality has been transformed from being almost universally condemned to being widely accepted and celebrated. Now, it would seem, that the only sin attached to homosexuality is the sin of opposing it. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

As Born-Again Christians, committed to the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God, we find ourselves at odds with the rapidly changing society in which we live.

A Polarizing Debate
Some would like to see this whole issue of same-sex-marriage divided into two distinct camps: those who celebrate it and those who hate it, and both of these groups certainly exist in our society.

There are the growing numbers of people who support same-sex-marriage, for a variety of reasons.
Some because they believe in it, others because it is the latest cause célèbre to be attached to, and no doubt others who feel pressurised by a society that is quick to label as bigots those who don’t agree with them. There is huge pressure and intimidation heaped upon those who refuse to conform. On the other side, there are people who hate the whole LGBTQ narrative, with the most bigoted rationale and apart from any Christian concern.

The current debate is plagued by this polarization. Those who agree with same-sex-marriage try to lump everyone who disagrees with them into the most extreme opposing position. After all, if you are not for love, you must be for hate.  “Marriage equality” is the latest catchphrase to be thrown into the same-sex marriage debate, but the term “marriage equality” is an attempt to shape the conversation and assign a certain level of unreasonableness to those who oppose same-sex marriage. What right thinking person would oppose ‘equality’ is the suggested emphasis?

Another Path
But true followers of Christ will walk neither the path of approbation nor condemnation. We have something to say that no one else is saying, or can say. Distancing ourselves from both the lovers and haters of SAME-SEX-MARRIAGE, we won’t celebrate their homosexual practice nor leave them reprobate, as those predestined to damnation; we will, however, endeavour to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15). While we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin, we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality; we love them enough to not just collapse under societal pressure and prop them up in their folly. We seek to speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.”

The remedy of the Gospel
We seek to bring the remedy of the gospel into this controversy, your sins have separated you from God, but Christ has come to seek and to save sinners (Isaiah 59:2; 1 Timothy 1:15). It is worth noting that “God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

So, when God tells us we’re wrong, that the wages of sin is death, that unrepentant rebellion means judgment, that our rescue required the cursed death of his Son (Romans 6:23; John 3:36; Galatians 3:13), but also that we’re loved, that even while we were sinners, Jesus died for us, and suffered in our place, that though we were destined for wrath, Jesus would welcome us into glory (Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 3:18; Ephesians 2:1–7), may we come in repentance of our sins, and embrace the one who truly loves us and who gave himself to die for us (Galatians 2:20).

That’s our message in this debate, when society’s elites despise us, when the mainstream media vilifies us, when no one else has the resources to say anything outside of two extremes, we have this unique opportunity to let the gospel shine, to reach out in grace, saying: you’re wrong but you’re loved.

What does the Bible say?
The easiest way to summarize the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is to begin with God’s blessing of sex only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Then, just remember that sex outside of that covenant relationship, whatever its form or expression, is explicitly forbidden. Christians know that these prohibitions are for our good and that rejecting them is tantamount to a moral rebellion against God Himself. We also know that the Bible forbids all pre-marital, extra-marital, and same-sex, sexual acts and behaviours (Exodus 20:14). Thus, we know that homosexuality is a sin, and that blessing it in any way is also sin (Romans 1:32), and that normalizing sin cannot lead to human happiness.

Jesus died so that sinners, both heterosexual and homosexual, might be saved.
Since our sexuality is created by God, we must allow him to instruct us as to how it is to be experienced in holiness and joy. It is God’s will that a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and that the two become one flesh (Mark 10:6–9). In this union, sexuality finds its God-appointed meaning, whether in personal-physical unification (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31), symbolic representation of Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:22-33), sensual jubilation (Proverbs 5:18), or fruitful procreation (Genesis 1:28). God created marriage. No human being has the right or authority to redefine it.

For those who abandon God’s path of sexual fulfillment, and fall into homosexual intercourse or heterosexual extramarital fornication or adultery, Jesus offers astonishing mercy.
    “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11)

We are being offered, freedom from sin, cleansing away of our guilt, and peace with God. Who would not want such things?

So, if all sexuality outside of male-female marriage is wrong in the sight of God, why just focus on homosexuality?
Homosexuality is not the only sin mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, but it is different from all the others, at least right now. At this moment in history, in contrast to the others sins that are listed in that passage, homosexuality is celebrated by our society and is being promoted as an acceptable and normal lifestyle. Undoubtedly, society at large has no issue about sin in general. Countless people are idolaters, not to mention those who are sexually immoral, or who commit adultery, or who steal and are greedy and get drunk, and revile neighbours, and swindle others. It happens all the time. And each of these unrepentant sins are the same in the sense of God’s judgment. They all deserve his wrath. And we’re constantly reminded that “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

But as far as I know, none of those sins is applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normality. Adultery is still frowned upon by many. Accusations of greed will still smear a candidate’s political campaign. Theft is still not openly embraced and advocated, and there are no new legislations being proposed saying it’s okay to go take things that don’t belong to you. There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet. There aren’t any petitions before the government to abolish the driving restrictions of intoxicated individuals. Reviling others still isn’t seen as the best way to win friends and influence people. Swindling, especially on a corporate level, usually gets someone thrown into jail.

Perhaps excepting fornication, these things are still seen as evils by decent society. But not homosexual practice, not by those who are now speaking loudest and holding positions of prominence. According to the emerging consensus, homosexuality is different. Today people want to pass into law the active promotion of that which God has called sinful, and they expect us to rejoice with them.

The celebration and approval of homosexual sin is nothing new. Homosexual behaviour has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is the normalising of this sin and the push to legalise it and the criminalising of the opponents to it. The push for same-sex-marriage is effectively saying that this is no longer a sin for which you must seek forgiveness from God. While society’s view toward such behaviour has changed, it should be noticed that God’s has not!

A Call to Weep
As Christians, we are to be as salt and light to our communities (Matthew 5:13,14); to have a preserving effect upon our society by the sharing of God’s glorious gospel of good news for sinful men as revealed in His Word. May we be as “the children of Issachar, who were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

Christians, more clearly than others, can see the awful judgment of God that is coming to a rebellious society (Colossians 3:6), and we cry out for them to flee from the wrath which is to come (Matthew 3:7). We know what is coming, not only because we read it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We are not exempt from the law that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions, our societies — they are all troubled because of our sins.

The difference is: We mourn over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t legislate for them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to the Lord to deliver us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

And in our best moments, we weep for the world, and for our own nation, that they might be saved (Romans 10:1). In the days of Ezekiel, God put a mark “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in [Jerusalem]” (Ezekiel 9:4).

This is what I am praying for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city marked for destruction.

    “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law” (Psalm 119:136).

Yours in Christ’s Service

Rev. W. R. Hall