On Thursday the 14th of September a letter arrived in my letterbox from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It was the long-awaited same-sex marriage plebiscite vote paper. Its arrival was something of a surprise, though, for one reason or another, I’ve been pretty incommunicado for the past fortnight. At 11 pm tonight, I trundled slowly up to the post box near me and posted my vote.
I vote ‘No’, and I wanted to take a moment to explain why.
Why I am Voting ‘No’
You may have heard people say that the Bible does not outright condemn same-sex marriage or homosexuality, or that the Bible is unclear, or that it depends on how you interpret the Bible. I disagree with these assumptions because I believe the Bible is very clear on the subject — though maybe not in the way people want the Bible to be clear.
Specifically, the Bible is very clear that marriage, as ordained by God, is between a man and woman and any sexual activity outside of the bounds of a heterosexual marriage is sinful — whether that be homosexuality, pre-marital sex, bestiality, incest, whatever. (To better understand what the Bible says, take the time to read Lionel Windsor’s recent article published by the ABC responding to Robyn Whitaker and Amy-Jill Levine’s articles suggesting the Bible does not condemn homosexuality.) However, briefly, let me quote from Windsor’s article to briefly articulate my beliefs:
Homosexual actions, then, are not singled out as worthy of greater condemnation than other acts or attitudes. However, they are not condoned either. Rather, they are described in a particular way: as a kind of reversal of God’s created order. They involve the exchange of what is “according to nature” for what is “against nature.”
This is where the words of Jesus about marriage in Matthew 19:1-12 are very helpful. There, in answering a specific question about divorce, Jesus points back to the more basic original intention of God in creation. According to Jesus (quoting Genesis 1-2), God has made a world in which marriage is designed for a lifelong union of “male and female.” This is consistent with Paul’s view in Romans (as well as in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy): Paul is saying that sexual unions involving “male and male” and “female and female” are a fracturing of God’s created intention. Thus, they are against “nature” – which for Paul means the natural order intended by God in his creation.
This is my firm belief — that marriage is for a man and a woman alone. I believe the Bible is strictly specific and unassailably clear on the matter. Any opinion to the contrary requires theological gymnastics and moral flexibility that leaves me saddened and heartsick.
Why My Opinion Matters
There are many Christians out there engaging in fear-mongering campaigns to scare people into voting ‘No’, or actively shaming and insulting those who will be voting ‘Yes’. Neither of these is my intention — simply put, this plebiscite is your opportunity to voice your opinion, not your opportunity to voice my opinion.
Conversely, however, this is my opinion and I am as entitled to my opinion as you are entitled to vote ‘Yes’. We may disagree with one another, we may even consider one another woefully ignorant or incorrect, but we are allowed to think differently. I am allowed to hold strongly to my beliefs – it’s called being ‘principled’. By allowing me to vote ‘No’ you are giving yourself the same right to vote ‘Yes’ based on your principles. I am not expecting anyone to agree or disagree with me on this because this is my decision to make based on my belief, my principles, and my faith.
Further, I am expressly and adamantly against the hate-fuelled tactics of some who will be voting ‘No’ in this plebiscite. As much as I expect you to respect my ability to vote ‘No’ I similarly believe I must respect your ability to vote ‘Yes’. Even if I were to put aside Jesus’ specific command to, “Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another” (John 13:34) – which I am not going to do, by the way – the plain and simple facts of the matter is that yelling and throwing a temper tantrum at you is no sensible way to change your mind. It’s juvenile, it’s crass, and it’s just as sinful as homosexuality. It creates fear and mistrust, and builds resentment and anger when the Apostle Paul told us that “every action must be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
So let’s be very clear – there are many voting “no” who consider themselves Christians but who are sinning by not acting out of love.
Why I am ‘Forcing’ My Opinion On You
But, why should my belief impact others? Because that is what a ‘No’ vote will do — one way or the other, it will impact others; there is no getting around that, and I knew that going in. But if I claim to love others and respect their own opinions, aren’t I being hypocritical by (arguably) forcing my personal faith-based belief on others by voting ‘No’?
While I do not believe it is hypocritical, I acknowledge that I am forcing my faith-based belief on others. However, I am fine with that, because I further believe that by voting ‘Yes’ I would have been endorsing same-sex marriage and opening the door to lead people astray from what God has ordained.
This might sound convoluted or ignorant, but in short, I do not want people to sin, and by legalising same-sex marriage I believe we shift the bounds of what is deemed ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It’s the equivalent of opening the gate of a horse paddock; those fences and gates exist to keep horses in, reining in their instinct to run wild which inevitably would get them into trouble. Removing the fencing, or opening the gate will eventually lead the horses within to escape the healthy boundaries that kept them safe.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:
“Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way.” — Romans 14:13
Paul’s specific context was to do with clean and unclean foods, and whether to eat them or not, but the principle he illustrates applies to all of Christian life. We are to be aware of the impact of our actions and ensure that we do not cause people to stumble. If I behave in a way that leads another person to sin, then I sin in turn, and I “destroy that one Christ died for” (Romans 14:15).
Further, Jesus, speaking to His disciples, said:
“But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea!” — Matthew 18:6
These reasons are why I voted ‘No’ on the same-sex marriage plebiscite. I hope that by explaining my reasoning you are able to understand where I am coming from and will respect my decision. In turn, I will respect whatever decision you make when you make your vote.
In the end, however, may all glory be given to God through this, whatever the outcome He ordains and allows.