Faith Matters: Agreeing to disagree

More weddings on the way: People celebrate the announcement of the "yes" vote for same-sex marriage.
More weddings on the way: People celebrate the announcement of the "yes" vote for same-sex marriage.

While God doesn’t determine what is good or right or proper by polls, we earth-bound creatures do and God allows us such freedom.

I’m still a “no” voter to the change in marriage definition but I am also someone who enjoys the benefits of democracy. The postal responses have been counted and I find myself on the losing side. That from my perspective is democratically ok.

In fact, every federal and state election can have outcomes like those just experienced.

Labor supporters were on the losing side at the last federal election and survived.

I expect and accept that legislation will pass before the end of the year that allows same-sex couples to marry and I will survive. There should be no argument. 

Judging from the elation we have seen over the decision in the last couple of weeks, I expect that nationally we will see a significant rise in the number of marriages where gay couples join with heterosexual couples in committing themselves to monogamous lifelong unions of love.

Personally, in conscience I could not be the celebrant at a gay wedding, but I will never allow myself to not love those who think differently to me.

We may not agree on what is best but love will always have me working for the best, most kind and thoughtful outcomes for all.

I would expect that loving, gay couples would respect such a conscience and never put another person in a position that creates a conflict of conscience for them.

However, people on both sides of the postal survey know that not everyone is respectful.

I think that the saddest thing I have seen since the “Yes” announcement was graffiti art that displayed Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

“Hate” and “Love” have been used a lot in recent times but that mural would have to epitomise hate and display a total disregard for love.

We may not agree with the politics of one and question the actions of the other, but the mural could only be described as a grief for all right-minded Australians irrespective of our voting “yes” or “no”.

Like “free speech” we could call this “free art”. Obviously not all free speech or free art is respectful or intelligent, but at least when it is out for public consumption we can see the depravity of what is said and respond.

It is in darkness and silence that evil finds opportunity. We all know a person’s propensity for sin: to manipulate, to cheat, to lie etc. It is why legislation is so important.

The law keeps us accountable.

In light of commitments made by the “Yes” campaigners, I expect all care will be taken to fashion legislation that will protect freedom of speech, conscience, and religion.

This will be a big test of trust and a reflection on the honesty of the campaign.

The 4.9 million people who voted “no” are a very significant minority. The 60/40 national split indicates that four out of every 10 people voted “no”.

In the New England, it was slightly less than half the population that voted “no”. 

Not all of the “no” voters were religious and equally some who voted “yes” are religious.

While I accept that politicians have their own views, they must never forget that they represent all Australians.

They may in the elation of a moment show their own political leanings and forget the significant minority of Australians who voted differently, but in the cooler more thoughtful moments of government, we expect that these politicians will protect the interests of all.

Legislation that protects freedom of speech, conscience and religion and legislation that prevents vilification should be of interest to us all.

Discussion of free speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of association is much bigger than the same-sex marriage issues that have given rise to the current discussion and affect us all.

It is crucial that all Australians watch this space because when such freedom are lost who in the end, will be our captors? 

I am thankful that God restrains wickedness and vice, but I am more thankful that God forgives mine.

I know God stands ready to forgive all those who come to Him.