Gay marriage... but I'd rather talk about Jesus

There are few issues that cause more debate and disagreement, hatred and misunderstanding. For this reason I’ve kept out of this debate for a long time. Below is my attempt to explain and clarify my own position for the benefit of others. I’m hoping that this is helpful and gets people thinking rather than adding to the bile of nasty commentary that pervades the Internet.

Before we get started
Many nasty things have been said and done to gay people by Christians in the past. This is something that Christians must bear in mind before entering the debate. They must also be prepared to express sorrow, regret, empathy and compassion for actions done to gay people in the name of Jesus over the years. The Church and Christians have done a poor job at articulating why they are opposed to gay marriage and homosexuality. There are smug, nasty, hateful people on both sides of this debate. Christians who claim to live by their ethos should be ashamed of this. They should know better. More needs to be done in our society to recognise gay and lesbian people and their fight against discrimination.

Christians have the right to express their views in a democracy, just as those who are in favour of gay marriage also have the right to express their views. Christians have the right to campaign for their views in a democracy, just as those who are in favour of gay marriage have the right to campaign for their views.

Saying Homosexuality is wrong is not hate. No doubt there are people who use it as an excuse to hate. However just because something is used (abused) for wrong purposes, doesn’t mean it’s bad in and of itself. You can express disagreement with a person’s lifestyle choice, or understanding of sexuality, in a kind way while still maintaining love and friendship. Real tolerance isn’t fudging differences but looking them in the face and getting along anyway. I have friends who are gay (perhaps who are reading this)  I care deeply about them. I’m not scared of them. I may disagree with them profoundly. I certainly don’t hate them.

My Position
Firstly it’s my conviction that it is inconsistent with Christianity to be a practising homosexual. Over the years I’ve read the Bible a fair bit. It’s hard to read it and come to any other conclusion. There doesn’t seem to be much disagreement on this issue among orthodox Christians who take the Bible seriously.

But can Christians actively campaign against gay marriage in a secular society? Yes. We live in a free and democratic society that permits freedom of speech. This means that Christians have the right to lobby for their views just as those in favour of gay marriage have the right to lobby for theirs. I should point out that Christians should feel free to follow their conscious. For many Christians this is an important issue and one they feel strongly about.

Should Christians actively campaign against gay marriage in a secular society?
This is a slightly different question. Just because you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should. There is also an important but subtle distinction between expressing a view and actively lobbying for it. Regardless of which camp you’re in I want you to consider more deeply the wisdom of your approach for the following reasons.

First I’m not convinced Christians have earned the right to have their views admitted to the public square on this issue. Speaking to society on an issue which has caused hurt and pain for many people, requires great sensitivity and wisdom, something that is sadly lacking in many of the engagements I have seen. When Christians speak against gay marriage, it should take place within the context of having earned trust and respect from the people they are speaking to. Have Christians done this?

Second, the Christian world view has some very significant presuppositions which are rarely acknowledged. Seeking to share a Christian view of marriage divorced from the accompanying framework will always cause misunderstanding, offense and expose Christians to ridicule. Christians also run the risk of speaking to the world of a morality divorced from the gospel.... which in the end is merely religious conservatism. Something Jesus had some very strong things to say about.

Third, it’s very difficult to hold to the Christian view of marriage using purely secular arguments. “Marriage is for the flourishing of society” is probably the best one I’ve heard. Christians fail when they argue against gay marriage like this...

  • It’s about children having both parents male and female... what about divorced and single parents, adopted children etc.
  • It will result in people marrying dogs... an appeal to the ridiculous and not what is currently proposed.
  • It’s about the “Institution of Marriage”... Marriage as an institution is trashed and has been for sometime, one only needs to look at the divorce statistics to see that.
Worst of all, others less savvy resort to “thus says the Bible” arguments...  which in a secular post modern society make no sense. While there are comebacks to each of the arguments I listed, I think in the end they are all pretty weak.

Fourth, I’m generally not fan of lobbying as it often results in voices being excluded from consideration or individuals having a disproportionate say in how our government runs things. I’m similarly unconvinced that some forms of lobbying achieve much at all. It’s more likely they drive people deeper into already intrenched beliefs. I’d like to see Christians be more thoughtful in how they choose to engage or lobby for what they believe in.

Finally the question of whether Christians should be engaged in lobbying for their views (which are in a minority) to be imposed on a secular majority also needs to be considered. Is there a Biblical mandate that says Christian values should be impressed upon a secular society and actively campaigned for? This is almost always assumed, and questions are never asked.

If you’re a Christian who likes to lobby, I don’t want to gag you. I don’t want to stop you expressing your views. I certainly don’t want you to go against your conscience... but I do want you to think about your views more deeply. If Christians choose to engage in this debate they must be careful that their views are articulated in the context of the gospel and not divorced from it. They must also bear in mind that there is a great hurt and anger around this issue.

Christians must always be in the business of speaking and acting in way that is gracious, loving, and respectful toward others. Unfortunately when I look around at what is said by Christians about gay marriage very often I see neither grace, love... or Jesus.


Yes I play the drums

“You play Drums?!... Really I had no idea!”

This is usually the reaction when people find out I play the drums. I love playing the drums. When I say drums I mean kit. I’ve never owned one and am entirely self taught, although I’ve had some tips along the way. I started playing when I was at school and was taking flute lessons (which I hated). When I finished school and after five years of lessons I sold my flute and have not played since. Drumming has stayed with me. Whenever I've had an opportunity I've played and practiced.

In early Crossroads Church music days, I can remember playing with four or five of us bashing out tunes, focusing on “getting thorough song” without mistakes. These days music at Crossroads is much better. We’re more focused on thinking about how we can make the music we sing (and I play) at church better. This means we spend time actually thinking about how to arrange our music. Working out who will play when, where, why and how.

As a drummer I’ve noticed it’s easy to get bogged on technical stuff and showing off cool new beats or solos. While this may show technical brilliance and how awesome you are, often it doesn’t actually serve the song or arrangement. As Anthony Rochester has said to me many times “Just play a straight eight!” Sometimes simplest is the best.

Below are a couple of videos with arrangements of older songs which I really like. I enjoy them because of the way they build toward a climax very gradually. I also like the way the drumming serves the overall arrangement.


The Reason for God

I don’t post links for many Christian things these days unless I actually think they are actually REALLY worth watching. So it’s in this context that I’m posting this video. Dr Tim Keller was invited to to speak at Google as part of Authors at Google talks back in 2008.

He was asked to speak on the reasons for belief in God. The video goes for just over an hour but the last 20 minutes or so are questions and answers. It’s well worth a watch especially if you don’t believe in God or necessarily sign up to Christian belief. He addresses why this is in his first point. Let me give you a taster summary for his talk.

  1. Why the reasons for God are important.
  2. How the reasons for God work.
  3. What the reasons for God are.
I should also plug the a book he has published on the subject The Reason For God. It’s an excellent read. I really like the way he approaches things. He is intelligent, softly spoken and winsome. Not one of those annoying ranty American preachers. Nor does he take cheap smug shots at Atheism and disbelief.

What ever your stripe you will enjoy this... at least what the Google employees are wearing at 54 minutes in.


5 Albums I bought in the last 6 months...

Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
I’m not really sure of the story here. Maybe I heard her voice on Triple J. I added a playlist of her album on Spotify and listened. Her husky tones bring to mind smoke filled men's clubs and Film Noir made the 30s 40s and 50s. The songs are poppy and catchy.

Owl City - The Midsummer Station
Total trash. I would never defend Owl City as good music. I bought this album because I have a couple of other Owl City Albums. I first listened to Owl City when Googling around about The Postal Service (another band I really like). From memory a number of critics mentioned that Owl City is similar to The Postal Service. I listened to and I liked it straight away. It’s very definitely pop and it’s great to dance and jump around to. Olivia and Ella like anything with the beat and some lyrics they can shout. They also picked up the tunes pretty easily.

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
I like and own Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I think he’s a very good producer... but you wouldn’t let your Mum listen to that album. Frank Ocean is Mum friendly. A more palatable, gentle version, abate with a sprinkling of bad words. His style is probably closest to R&B with electronic keyboard, samples and subdued rhythms. I not really sure how I came to hear of him. He’s also pretty relaxing to listen to.

Ellie Goulding - Bright Lights
I saw the beautiful above video advertising an Octocopter last year (watch the video if you don't know what an Octocopter is). The video uses a remix of the track "Lights". Olivia and Ella really liked the video and the music. Again I added a Spotify playlist of album and began. I managed to also catch a performance she did in London as part of the iTunes music festival. Watched it on my big TV at home. It was very impressive. I enjoyed listening to her youngish girly voice.

Air - Moon Safari
This is a strange one. When I checked I was very surprised I bought it less than six months ago. I had the feeling that bought this album a few years ago. This is possibly because this is the oldest album here (1998). I think this was on high rotation on Triple J back in the early 2000’s when I lived at the Castle with Bernie and Chris. I’ve liked it ever since and finally got round to buying it. I find it dreamy and relaxing to listen to. If you were harsh you might call it chilled, electronic, elevator music.