What is Love?

As I write this, we are in the midst of the same sex marriage survey.

I haven't heard much reasoned and reasonable two-way discussion yet. Much vitriol, much attacking the speaker, much confusion of issues. Is frustration rising in those who are dismissed with jeers and sneers whenever they speak up?

What are the issues? In a referendum, a summary of the 'for' and 'against' cases is posted out to all voters. Regardless of the newspaper or TV station or media websites that we usually consult, we have the opportunity to hear from both sides without editorial censorship, and so make an informed decision. Not so with this survey.

Maybe I expect too much: this is, after all, merely a canvassing of voters' opinions. And there are no guarantees that those opinions will have any bearing on whether or not marriage is legally extended to cover same sex unions.

For Bill and me, the issues are clear enough that we voted early. This was a decision reached after much research (and prayer) over the years. If you want to understand the reasons that motivated us to vote no, you can look at sites like these:

Coalition for Marriage

Bill Muehlenberg's Culture Watch

Interviews with Martyn Iles, Human Rights Law Alliance

Sydney Anglicans info on SSM

These people are better at explaining the 'con's' and implications of SSM than I am. But there are big issues behind the issues, and that's what I want to address here.

Love Comes First

Not many people disagree with that, at least in theory. Many - non Christians included - would agree that Jesus is a prime example of love: how to love, how much to love, and how important it is to keep loving, always.

During his kangaroo court trial, the prisoner bashing and right up to his execution, Jesus behaved in an oddly restrained manner. it's well known that he didn't speak up for himself. But he didn't even speak up for the justice and truth that were so abused, although he railed passionately against hypocrisy at other times.

Anyone with a brain could have driven a plump donkey through the legal holes, the clashing 'eyewitness' accounts and procedural errors of his trial. Jesus could have mounted a majestic speech in his defence that shook the Jewish Sanhedrin to the tips of their toes: but he didn't. Jesus said that he could call upon great powers to trounce his opponents at any moment: but he didn't do it.

And so love triumphed.

Not by answering power plays with displays of greater power; not by shouting - even with his greater wisdom and logic - over the lying rage and clamour; not by taking up sword against sword. Forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing. That was what love looked like in those intense days. How would it look in the SSM debate?

In the book called Revelation, Jesus had a message for the Christians in the then famous city of Ephesus. This was a place where Paul and others had invested much time and effort, hoping to build a Christian community that would be faithful even under trials, that would be caring, that would know the full truth of Jesus as the apostles had come to know him.

First Jesus acknowledged the Ephesian church's positives: hardworking, patient, persevering, consistent high standards, seeing straight through any self-styled leaders who were only out for their own gain. If we happen to know of a church or a bowling club or Rotary or scout group today that ticks all those boxes, we'd be pretty happy about it.

But then came the crunch: the Ephesians had left their first, foremost, most important love. No amount of good deeds or right theology - or politically correct policy - could replace that.

Speaking the truth is one thing, an important thing. Speaking the truth in love is a bigger thing.

If we win the argument, but abandon love to do so, then we have lost. And so has Australia.

In accordance with s 6(5) of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Act 2017, this communication was authorised by Diane Sutton, Bolaro NSW.

No poetry this time, but a story written in April this year. I've put it on a separate page, seeing it's longer than the usual poems.

The Emperor's Newer Clothes