The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
The Anglican Church and other evangelical movements such as Hillsong ask the parliament to protect freedom of speech in the new legislation.
With 39.4% ‘nos’, 4.8 million rejected the change of the legal definition of marriage, which only included heterosexual couples.
Almost 80% of Australian citizens took part in the postal vote, a very high turnout which shows how widely the meaning of marriage has been discussed in society the last months and years.
The Australian federal parliament will now legislate for same-sex marriage. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his majority would try to approve the law “before Christmas”.
ANGLICANS: REDEFINITION COULD HAVE “COERCITIVE EFFECT”
THe Anglican Archbishop of Sidney, Glenn Davies, who had actively campaigned for the “no”, reacted to the vote by saying he “accepts the outcome” of the postal plebiscite, but he warned that, in other countries, the “coercive effect of changing the definition of marriage has been to restrict people's ability to hold a different point of view”.
“One of the outstanding points of democracy and human dignity - is the freedom of speech, the freedom of faith and the freedom of conscience. Therefore what the parliament needs to do now, in legislating for same-sex marriage, is to do so in a way which protects people's liberties”, Davies said.
HILLSONG: RESPECT BIBLICAL BELIEFS OF CHRISTIANS
Another influential Christian leader is the pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston. He said he will continue to teach the biblical definition of marriage, while always trying “to point people to Jesus”.
“The work of our church will continue as usual as it does in many parts of the world where same-sex marriage is legal”, he said.
It is “vital, however, that legislation protects the rights of churches, pastors and others to hold contrary beliefs based on the traditional teachings of scripture”.
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental part of a democratic society and must be upheld. Any attempt to force Christians to compromise their faith would be wrong”, Houston said.
The Hillsong pastor added: “As we move forward as a nation and put what has been at times a divisive debate behind us, my prayer is that we replace anger, criticism, hatred and intolerance with love, understanding, acceptance and kindness”.
AUSTRALIANS CARE ABOUT MARRIAGE
Author Michael Jensen, rector at St Mark's Anglican Church, lecturer at Moore College and a well-known columnist, wrote an article published on ABC Australia after the outcome was made public.
“Australians care deeply about marriage, and can see that it is a really valued institution that represents some ideals that most people really want. In this, there is a profound agreement between Yes and No”, Jensen said.
He added: “The Christian vision of marriage still has much to offer. The Christian narrative of faithfulness, forgiveness, and sacrificial love offers a story of marriage which all people need in the modern world”.
HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT IS NOTHING NEW FOR CHRISTIANS
Writing on his personal blog, church planter and founder of TwoWays Ministries, Phillip Jensen, said: “The Kingdom of God must not be confused with the nation or its government. Christianity cannot be imposed by government but can only come by the spiritual persuasion of the populace.
Jenses said he is “saddened” about the outcome of the vote. “Marriage is a creation ordinance not a religious sacrament. I don’t think it is a good decision for Australian society or family life”.
But he said the change in Australia’s society is not a surprise. “Am I alarmed by today’s victory? No, not particularly. It’s been coming since the 1960’s sexual revolution, the undermining of marriage in the 1975 Family Law act and the last fifty years of feminism’s unisexuality. So, it is hardly a shock or surprise”.
“All these changes are consistent with the teaching and expectation of the Bible. Romans 1:18-32 is a recipe for our nation’s suppression of the truth about the creator. The outcome is exactly as predicted, notice especially v32”.
“Unlike cultural Christians, Biblical Christianity thinks in terms of being an unpopular minority in an alien and hostile environment”, Jensen said.