Right now, Australians are deliberating about just one question - “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” A majority of conservative Christians (as well as Jews and Muslims) are campaigning for a 'No' vote, while less are saying it should be 'Yes'. A majority of society in general seems to be campaigning for a 'Yes' vote, while some are saying it should be 'No'.
Whatever your answer is to this one question, the work of discussion and deliberation doesn’t end on the 15th November (or whenever the government makes a decision); it just begins. Regardless of how we answer this one question, I think there are a host of other better questions that Christians and churches should be discussing right now. Marriage equality will eventually come to Australia - maybe sooner, maybe later. The culture has clearly shifted. Regardless of what happens, here are some better questions that need to be discussed openly and honestly:
- How will the Christian church respond to LGBTI families (parents and children) visiting church meetings? Will there be welcome and, if so, what will that ‘welcome’ mean?
- What is the “Gospel” (the good news) for members of a LGBTI family?
- How will the Christian church respond to a same-sex married couple coming to faith in Jesus? What will discipleship look like?
- How will the Christian church respond to children and youth who attend church programs and who are from families with married same-sex parents?
- How will Christian schools respond to children applying to enrol from LGBTI families?
- Will churches allow married same-sex couples who desire to improve their relationship to attend marriage seminars?
- What will the church's teaching about Christian marriage look like in this new world?
These are the kinds of situations the churches will have to grapple with and now is the time to prepare for them. If we fail to answer these better questions adequately, the church could be on the verge of fading into further perceived irrelevance in our world. It will take wisdom, courage and love in order to continue to be the church of Jesus Christ living in a new reality.