How ironic that many advocating the rights of love, do so with very little love. Since any society should have the right to a say on such a foundational change as that proposed in today’s same-sex marriage plebiscite, let’s not pretend that two people’s love is no-one else’s business when that love also lays claim to the right to marry. (Even the hosting service of this website now imposes a rainbow banner.) What does love really require, though?
1. Love responsibly considers the consequences of actions
Parents know that loving their kids involves journeying with them in considering the implications of their actions. True friends likewise intervene, rather than interfere, when they are concerned. Anticipating consequences does not make a person right, but it also shouldn’t see them reviled.
Contemplating the potential results of legalising same-sex marriage is not fear-mongering. Responsible consideration of the outcomes in other nations rightly causes grave concerns. Promised protections have quickly been challenged and then lifted because a climate is created in which legalised unions are normalised.
The legitimisation of same-sex marriage is less about love than the concerted assertion of rights. Freedom of religion currently allows individuals to defend a worldview as well as to reject it. This has quickly been overridden in other nations with freedom from religion in which delegitimised views are opposed with increasingly draconian force. Prosecutions and threats against those morally opposed to same-sex marriage have been emboldened to the point that the withholding of professional services is no longer a matter of conscience.
The radical state-sponsored alternative sexuality curriculum known locally by the misnomer ‘Safe Schools’ is predicated on falsified statistics and a denial of expert views to the contrary. Also, a very small number of genetically-rare intersex cases does not invalidate the physiological fact of the binary nature of gender and its clear basis for the heterosexuality of marriage.
A new normality that seeks to protect against intolerance actually creates a different kind of intolerance increasingly justified by the turning tide of popular opinion. The populist preferences of businesses and politicians simply align to the winds of prejudice against the rights of some when asserting the self-proclaimed rights of others.
2. Love is not the supreme ingredient of a marriage
This plebiscite is about changing the very nature of marriage. It’s not about equality or rights and certainly not about love. All of those things are important, but are not the central concerns.
When love is a reason for beginning a marriage, a lack of love too easily becomes a reason for ending one.
Marriage is actually a lifelong pledge of commitment between a man and a woman involving sexual intimacy that its source-book, the Bible, denies to any other kind of relationship. Two different genders, brought together in a complementary union to procreate and populate, gives society’s bedrock institution. Of course, some marriages fail and some do not seek or produce children, but that does not invalidate the prescribed nature of marriage itself.
This is not an antiquated tradition, but a timeless one. It offers a security and safety ideally restricting sex to one life partner with no comparisons and no alternatives. No casual sex, no pre-marital sex, no adulterous sex.
This may not be popular or preferable, but it is not imposed either. People do choose to operate outside the maker’s guidelines and have the freedom of that choice, but the ‘love’ within their relationships should be irrelevant to accessing the institution of marriage unless they meet its criteria, one of which is that marriage is inherently and unalterably heterosexual.
Many ‘Yes’ voters have illogically and insufferably bullied and browbeaten their opponents, led by a media-driven sense of entitlement. A ‘No’ vote is wrongly equated with intolerance as emotionalism trumps rational debate in a battle for hearts and minds.
Redefining marriage is not a divine right and ‘No’ voters are not automatically unloving and unjustified judges. Many simply rest their case quite unemotionally on a clear understanding of what marriage is and what it is not.
3. Love is unconditional, but not unconstrained.
Love is surely selfless and therefore assumes some limits, however these might ultimately be defined. Self-determination blurs the boundaries, though, and it sometimes seeks to remove them altogether. This is evident when objective truth is bypassed in favour of more palatable alternatives.
Many Christians surprisingly opt for this approach when oversimplifying and redefining love they then presume to be biblical, even if it does not reflect biblical parameters.
Of course, God Himself accepts anyone and does not withhold His perfect love. His offer of eternal life cannot be received, though, without people conforming to His will. This is not to our detriment but only for our betterment.
For a Christian, love means keeping God’s commands (2 John 6) and this means we all inevitably change as His love works in us. Change is therefore not imposed.
To expect change is not to demand it, but to anticipate it.
The Bible plainly indicates that God’s love is unconditional but this is not a cover-all licence for redefining it. Love cannot, for Christians, be decoupled from obedience, meaning that freedom from God brings responsibility to honour Him on His terms. Of course, minority theologians (or armchair ones) will be wheeled out by media outlets crafting prejudged positions with scriptural reinterpretation while simultaneously lampooning conservatives.
Allegations of hypocrisy are often used when contrasting anti-homosexual statements in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 with other Old Testament laws. Many of these laws are self-evidently restricted to their historical culture or overturned by the death and resurrection of Christ.
The difference with laws clearly intended to be timeless, though, is that they are reiterated or reinterpreted in the New Testament. For example, the principle of the Sabbath is upheld (Hebrews 4:1-10), but its legal enforcement is obsolete (Colossians 2:16-17), and no-one is any longer stoned to death for breaking it (as in Exodus 35:2).
Prohibitions upheld in the New Testament, are clearly continuous with the Old. To ‘update’ a reading of what is clearly evident in the context of passages opposing homosexuality (such as 1 Timothy 1:8-11, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and Romans 1:18-32) is a deconstruction of preference. It actually misses the point of why such requirements were given in the first place.
To point out biblical prohibitions is not unloving. It does not negate unconditional love either. The Bible invites people to experience God’s love and forgiveness for every person, regardless of background. This brings true freedom only as we walk within its boundaries and these are defined by the Bible, from which marriage originates.
True love, then, is given unconditionally, but inspires a conditioned response.
Gay couples who commit to loving each other can access formal relationship registration to protect their legal interests, but same-sex marriage should remain inaccessible, since marriage is unalterably defined by its maker. However, gay couples should find a non-discriminatory welcome in churches that freely allow them to respond to the love of God who changes the hearts and lives and gives us a new identity that is not defined in sexual terms. Non-discriminatory access to marriage, though, is always predicated on its innate heterosexuality, whatever any secular authority may decide.