This is the first of two articles on same sex marriage, the first appraises the issues, and tomorrow a way forward. To the first, appraising the issue. Recently News.com.au ran a fascinating story on a man who had been sexually attracted to men all his life, yet made a conscious decision to fall in love with a woman and marry her.
What is more - he's a Presbyterian Pastor!
We have to admit the main line media does not give the traditional 'anything' much of a jump start. They are 'a'gin' the Prime Minister, they are 'a'gin' the Government, they are 'a'gin' the church, they are 'a'gin' anyone what looks like a man looking after boy scouts and youth clubs, well anything really!
We all get kind of use to it and take for what it's worth. Swimmer Tracey Whikam's father said he knew what newspapers were used for in the outback! Enough said!
Glossy magazines are classics at this. Nothing gives me more joy than to sit at the doctor's or dentists' and pick up those 4-5 year old magazines and rejoice as I call out, page after page, "Wrong again", "Wrong again," "Wrong again" .....
A different path
The News.com.au article explained that Pastor Allan Edwards said his belief was that there was no hope in "reorientation". "False expectations of change or conquest lead to shame and hiding."
But the Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church minister in western Pennsylvania in the US considers such same sex attraction a sin (as there are many sins associated with forbidden desire, the 10th Commandment, Thou Shalt Not Covet).
"It's not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am," was by far the greater emphasis upon my life and now he is married with a baby on the way.
His wife Leanne knows about his sexual attraction to men but the couple believe that all marriages face the temptation of outside attractions. "There's always going to be situations where a partner is sexually attracted to someone else and isn't necessarily dealing with sexual attraction with their partner," Leanne explained in the article.
Pastor Edwards noted that everyone struggles with discontentment. The difference, I think, and the blessing Leeanne and I have experienced is that we came into our marriage relationship already knowing and talking about it. "And I think that's a really powerful basis for intimacy." his said.
Orientation is the 'new word'
John Mark Ministries web site has many articles on this subject of same sex orientation and all that is associated with it. One of these articles Benji Watson tackles the issue of the church itself not comprehending this orientation of Christians and what it does to their hearts.
He writes that it is clear if you read the gospels, Jesus' motivation behind every choice He made, behind every word, was love. His concern was the heart of the individual.
"Reading through the Sermon on the Mount, you can see that when Jesus says things like, "Even if you hate, you are a murderer in your heart", and "if you lust, you have committed adultery in your heart", you see it.
"Jesus was more concerned about the condition of your heart, than your actions. We (as a church community) have not shown a care for the heart of those with this same sex orientation and especially such Christians, only contempt," Watson stated.
There seems to be a change in the language, from Gay to same sex orientation, as the later has a wider connotation to referring to those with such but do not practise.
Let's not be ignorant
It would behove Christians therefore not to be ignorant that there is a clear line for many evangelicals between those with a same sex orientation and for whatever reason do not practise and those who do and are clearly identified as such. Let's not hide our head in the sand, it is part of western society as illustrated by Elton John who not that long back, married his long term male partner.
Only recently in the Dominican Republic a same sex marriage service was enacted in the British Embassy. The other side of the story is that the local evangelical church called this "a curse to the nation".
Many are saying this will continue to be the great divide within the evangelical church, those who are valiantly opposed to same sex marriage and such sexual sin, and those who have no such qualms. The theological debate rages.
Many however pull up the draw bridge when the issue of same sex relationships are deemed as normal behaviour and surprisingly the concerns are not religious or moral, but the welfare of the nation such as the population debate and national health issues.
This current decade will become the era in which this same sex orientation will be debated and debated and debated. Sadly, to such an extent that the battle lines will put aside the real battle, "Evangelism to Salvation". That will be a huge detriment to the Christian cause.
Tomorrow, my article is on a different look altogether on this issue.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html