Same Sex Marriage Plebiscite

You will no doubt be aware that the Australian Government has called for a postal plebiscite to be held later this year on the question of legal recognition of same-sex marriages.

 With postal forms for the same sex marriage plebiscite going out this week,

the Gospel in Society Today team has put together this sheet to give further help and encouragement to PCQ ministers, elders and congregation members leading up to the plebiscite. At this time, we want urge all to be prayerful for its outcome and consider carefully how you might best think, speak and act to honour the Lord Jesus.

PCQ members are likely to be experiencing the plebiscite announcement in a range of ways. Some will be feeling worried by our country’s big step away from a Christian perspective on marriage.  Some will be feeling confused or unclear. Those in our churches who experience same-sex attraction, or love those who do, could well be finding some conversations about the plebiscite uncomfortable or hurtful.

1. The Lord is King

It is natural that this plebiscite will raise people’s anxiety. But let’s remember how Jesus addresses our anxieties.

Jesus, the one who died for us, is the resurrected Lord. And he will be forever, even after the plebiscite. Whatever the result, Jesus will still be Lord. Even if it has all of the negative effects you may fear, no matter what happens, Jesus is the Lord who has our eternal destiny well in hand: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). It would certainly help our anxiety to remember that. It would also be great if others saw our calm confidence in the Lord Jesus shining through no matter what: “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5).

The best way to put our trust in Jesus is to pray to Him who really is Lord: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

2. God’s Design for Marriage is Good

a. Living Out God’s Good Design

Another concern the plebiscite might raise for Christians is this: “Is God’s design of man/woman marriage actually good?” Many people in our society are arguing for a change; what’s so special about God’s design that we should keep living it out?

The first thing to say is that – as Jesus taught when questioned about divorce – marriage is not ours to change, it is the creation of our Creator: “At the beginning the Creator “made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4, quoting Genesis 1:27). God has declared His commitment to His creation despite the impact of sin, supremely through the resurrection of His Son Jesus from the dead. So even if Australia changes its marriage laws, Christians must maintain our own marriage practice. And this is not only what we must do, it is also a wonderful thing to do. Marriage between a man and a woman is a great gift from our Creator, displaying his wisdom and generosity to us, his creatures. That God designed marriage as needing both a man and a woman highlights the equal necessity of both men and women. Both are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27-28) and neither can bring into the world a new life without the other (Genesis 2:18-25, 3:20). Also, in God’s design of marriage, children come into the world already gifted a family context of loving commitment between their parents, both of whom they have a special bond with through their biological connection. Therefore, our continued commitment to man/woman marriage today points to the beauty of our Creator’s good design for humanity and so brings glory to Him.

Of course, no marriage is perfect, including Christian marriages. Since humanity’s original rejection of God, marriage is one of many good gifts corrupted by sin (Genesis 3:16). Yet Christian marriage also points to the even greater gift of Jesus in saving his people from sin. The intimate unity-in-difference between a man and a woman in Christian marriage points to the intimate unity-in-difference between Jesus and his people (Ephesians 5:31-32). A Christian wife will submit to her husband as the church submits to Jesus (Ephesians 5:24). Yet the authority of her husband to which she submits must never resemble that typically seen in the world (Mark 10:42-45). It must always be modelled on that of Jesus himself i.e. self-sacrificing instead of self-serving: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). When Christian couples display this complementary other-centredness, it displays to the world the beautiful relationship between Jesus and his people, the radical difference that Jesus makes, and the goodness of his salvation. So, no matter how marriage in our country might change, Christian marriage must keep displaying this complementary other-centeredness, if anything more profoundly than ever.

b. Upholding God’s Good Design in Our Community

The government has asked the citizens of Australia to participate in a voluntary postal vote on same-sex marriage. Christians like other people are under no compulsion to vote and have the right to vote or abstain as they see fit, however the GiST team is encouraging Christians to have their say by voting ‘no’ and also considering carefully how to speak to others about their vote in a way that adorns the gospel. In order to assist with that thinking, the following evaluation of some of the arguments is offered.

Some Christians reason they should vote ‘no’ in this plebiscite because they think they’re being asked by our government for their opinion on what marriage is. This is not the case; if it were, Christians would have no choice but to vote ‘no’ because as outlined above, marriage is not ours to change: God defines what marriage is, not people. However we must go further than this, and say that neither does the state make particular marriages. It is God who joins two people together in marriage, not the state (Matthew 19:6).

If God makes particular marriages, what then is the role of the state in marriage? The role of the state is to recognise particular marriages. If your relationship meets the definition in the Marriage Act (and you’ve filled out the paperwork correctly!) the state recognises your marriage. This then qualifies your relationship for certain privileges that the state bestows.[1] This is the state’s way of honouring marriage, because it recognises that marriage is an institution which is a practical good in our society.

However, the marriage law does more than just honour marriage practically; it also functions to hold out to society an ideal for intimate relationships. That is, the state’s positive public affirmation of marriage makes it clear to everyone that the state considers the marriage relationship to be highly desirable, in fact, more desirable than other kinds of intimate relationships (in part because, generally speaking, it provides the best context for raising children). This is one of the key reasons why same-sex couples want the marriage law changed: so that the state then makes it clear to everyone that same-sex intimate relationships are just as desirable and worthy of honour as opposite sex intimate relationships. However, Christians are unable to affirm the desirability of same-sex intimate relationships in light of the clear biblical teaching that homosexual practice is sinful (e.g. Romans 1:26-27).

How then should Christians seek to influence the laws of the state in this area? In terms of voting the answer to this seems relatively straightforward. Since we’re being asked by the state what in our view would be best for our society, and seeing as God’s good design for marriage is best not just for Christians but for all people and for our society generally; we are encouraging Christians to vote ‘no’ in this plebiscite.

However even more important than the marriage law is the estrangement of our society from its Creator which gives rise to sinful behaviours such as the pursuit of same-sex relationships. In that case arguing for a return to faith in Jesus must feature prominently in our speech about marriage, or we will not be addressing the fundamental issue.

The Apostle Paul provides a wonderful example of this. When hauled before the public authorities on charges of stirring up trouble Paul repeatedly brings his defence back to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 23:6, 24:15&21,26:6-8) so that he might have an opportunity to speak the gospel (Acts 24:24,26:9-23). This is why GiST’s approach has always been to seek to bring the gospel to bear in each situation, because it is only the gospel which truly causes people to want God’s good design in all areas of their lives, including marriage, and be able to pursue that good effectively through the power of the Holy Spirit. Arguments from nature and the common good have value, but their value is limited because it is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus that any of us can become righteous in God’s eyes.

Ultimately if we want to see our society return wholeheartedly to God’s design for marriage, we need people to embrace God’s solution to the sin which has led society away from it.

c. How Then Should We Speak on This Issue?

We should speak on this issue graciously, gently and without fear, in a way which points people to our hope in the gospel (1 Peter 3:15, Colossians 4:6, 2 Timothy 1:7). These are complex questions and we cannot address every aspect of them here. However, here are some key suggestions for how to respond to common objections about Christians voting ‘no’.

Q. Aren’t you being unloving?

Christians affirm wholeheartedly that in relating to anyone in our society our goal should be to love them. After all, it was Jesus who affirmed that “Love your neighbour as yourself” is one of the great command of the Bible (Matthew 22:39). However does loving someone mean affirming everything that they wish to do? No it doesn’t. You can love someone and disagree with them; in fact loving someone sometimes demands that you disagree with them.

The way Christians seek to love is shaped by Jesus. As God, Jesus became a man to ‘get down beside us’. He didn’t shy away from experiencing the hard things in life. At our best, Christians therefore seek to get beside people and love them even if that means hardship.

But Jesus also loved people by telling them about God’s best way to live: their need to trust him as God’s Messiah and live his way. This is one of the things that got him crucified, as the religious authorities who violently disagreed with Jesus’ views sought to silence him forever. The point is, Jesus loved people by seeking their good not affirming everything they wished to do, even to his own hurt and death.

It is this kind of love which has inspired so many people to follow Jesus since, and shapes the way Christians seek to love. On this basis, we see voting ‘no’ in the postal vote as an expression of love for our society by wanting what’s best for it according to God’s good design for marriage.

Q. Aren’t you denying gay people their rights?

Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and so are equally valuable. In fact, this is the basis of our western notion of human rights. Christians are therefore the last people who would wish to deny others their rights, or to suggest that gay people are somehow ‘second class’ citizens.

Nevertheless, Christians do not see marriage in terms of rights but as a special type of relationship given privileged status by the state as an affirmation of its uniqueness and suitability among all other human relationships for intimacy and the raising of children. Gay people already have the right to have their committed, monogamous relationships recognised by the state, through civil unions.

It appears that what some gay people seek from the marriage law is not rights but affirmation of their relationships. Which leads to the question, “Is there a better source from which to seek affirmation than from the state?” Christians believe that there is, and encourage all people to seek their affirmation in the work of Jesus at the cross. On this basis God affirms all who trust in him.

Q. Aren’t you forcing your Christian views on everyone else?

Christians uphold the idea that you can’t make someone believe what you want them to believe; that you cannot force (nor should you try to force) someone else to subscribe to your views on life, and specifically your religious views. In fact, Jesus’ crucifixion was agitated for (ultimately successfully) by those who wished to force him to agree with their religious views. And Jesus himself said that he hadn’t come to earth to bring about anything like a nation-state as we know it. Rather he came to establish an entirely different type of kingdom that changes people’s hearts in the way laws never can, as they respond to all that Jesus has done for them. Hence forcing our views on others is not something Christians would wish to support!

However by voting ‘no’ Christians are not seeking to force their views on anyone. We are simply seeking to answer the question that’s being asked of us: “What do you think would be the best marriage law for our society?” We’re seeking to answer that question honestly in line with our vision for human flourishing, just as we would expect everyone else in Australia to answer that question in line with their vision for human flourishing.

To force our views on others would mean seeking to coerce others to live the way we want them to – to have punishments put in place in law for those who disagree with us. This is the last thing Christians would want to do and has nothing to do with voting ‘no’ in this postal vote.

Q. Why is man/woman marriage so important to you Christians?

Marriage is important to us because we believe God designed human relationships in such a way that they point to His love for people. When God originally made man and woman, he made two similar and yet different people and designed them to work together. Gender shows us that we were made for loving, complementary togetherness, not independent aloneness or sameness. More than that, it tells us that God has been on about relationships that reflect the contours of His love from the beginning.

Jesus said that while God’s design for relationships between the sexes has been terribly abused and distorted as we have tried to manage relationships our own way, marriage between a man and a woman still points to something much bigger and more magnificent – the gracious, delighting, passionate, faithful, safe, fruitful love of God for rebellious people (Eph 5v31-32). Marriage between a man and a woman is so important to us because it points to the God and Saviour we all desperately need.

3. Both What We Say and How We Say It Are Important

We have an important opportunity over the coming weeks as we speak to those around us on this issue. We need to use this opportunity well, surprising people with our graciousness, opening our homes to those we differ from, being eager to listen and quick to apologise for any rude, self-righteous words fuelled by fear or frustration.

a. The Tone of What We Say

We are to speak graciously towards those with whom we disagree, even when we are spoken to harshly (1 Peter 3:9). In this we are modelling to the world the character of our Saviour (1 Peter 2:23), who taught us to love not just our friends but everyone (Matthew 5:44-47).

b. Clear Communication

Part of our difficulty in speaking about this issue is that often the message we send is not the message that is received, because of the world-view of our hearers. Sexuality for many people in our society (and not just for gay people) has become so fundamental to their identity, and hence fundamental to their humanity, that they hear us to be calling into question their dignity as human beings. We need to be very clear, therefore, that we – and indeed the Bible – affirm the full humanity of gay people, who share the image of God with us. We also have the opportunity to speak about finding our identity in Christ rather than in our sexuality.

c. Speaking As We Would Have Others Speak To Us

Many Christians are concerned that should the plebiscite result be “yes” then their freedoms in the future to speak and act in line with their conscience in this area of life will be curtailed. If the plebiscite result is “yes” then increasing pressure on those who disagree with same-sex marriage seems likely. Christians in Australia in the future may well find themselves as people in the minority, seeking space in our society so that we can faithfully live out the implications of our faith, just like the early church (c.f. 1Timothy 2:1-2). It is, therefore, good for us to be actively upholding the rights of all those who may have their freedoms curtailed through future political changes. It is also important for us to speak with the respect that we would love others to show us in the future (Matthew 7:12).

Conclusion

While we encourage all Christians to take the plebiscite very seriously, we also need to remember that our primary aim as Christ’s church is not to win this plebiscite but to glorify God and hold out the news of the gospel. This is a great time to ask non-Christian friends, including gay friends, about their stories: how they think life works best and what they hope in; and arising from that to share with them the gospel which lies at the heart of our own worldview and offers eternal hope to our broken world.

[1] Most of the privileges the state bestows on married couples are now bestowed also on other kinds of relationships, such as de-facto marriages and civil partnerships, both of which are available to same-sex couples. In fact, one of the only privileges still reserved for married couples is the title ‘marriage’.

Bringing Domestic Violence into the light

 

In July the ABC launched a public conversation on domestic violence in religious communities through the publication of a series of articles. One long article by journalists Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson featured the first hand testimonies of women in conservative evangelical churches who have been abused by their husbands and found the response from church leadership to be unhelpful and harmful.

The ABC coverage drew a link between ‘headship theology’ and domestic violence. It suggested that abusers with connections to Christian communities would often twist the words of the Bible to justify abusing their wives, and to prevent their wives escaping. Christian teaching on divorce and submission, according to these stories, resulted in some women being sent back into danger.

The accounts of victims who have escaped abuse are the clearest and most accurate data we have when it comes to the existence of domestic violence in church communities; to date there is no substantial Australian research and no accurate statistics to paint a picture of how prevalent this issue is in our churches. But there is an emerging consensus in these stories and in investigations into domestic violence that the Bible can be twisted by abusers (who are typically experts in manipulation and control) and that churches can be ill-prepared to respond when a victim comes forward. Victims and advocates suggest it is important for churches to be clear on our theology and practice in this area for the sake of victims, abusers, and for anyone who a victim might trust to reveal their plight to.

The Queensland Government commissioned a special taskforce to report on Domestic Violence in Queensland, its report Not Now, Not Ever, recommended that “Leaders of all faiths and religions to take a leadership role in fostering and encouraging respectful relationships in their community, and to teach their communities and congregations that coercive control and violence are never acceptable,” the Presbyterian Church of Queensland created a special committee in 2015 to do just this; the committee reported to the 2016 Assembly, which adopted report and deliverances unanimously. The report can be found online on the Gospel In Society Today (GIST) website (gist.org.au) and on the Presbyterian Church of Queensland’s site (pcq.org.au).

The Assembly voted to “Affirm the inherent dignity of all men, women, and children, whatever their age, or marital status, as people made in the image of God, to bear this image in his world, so thoroughly repudiates any use of Christian concepts of submission or authority in any relationship to justify the physical or emotional abuse of any person.”

The committee, in taking up the challenge of the Not Now, Not Ever report, recommended that our churches conduct “active teaching around the issues of violence, and clear, reflective Bible Study on these issues” as essential for our churches to become safer communities for victims of domestic violence; particularly women who are being victimised by the abuse of Scripture.

In order to provide a particularly clear framework for ministers and elders responding to victims coming forward, the report also suggested our churches consider adopting the position that domestic violence can be a form of the ‘desertion’ envisaged by the Westminster Confession of Faith (24.VI), and so legitimate grounds for separation and divorce.

The report contained recommendations for our denomination, moving forward, which have been passed to the Committee for Ministry Resourcing for action, and GIST to take forward in the public square. These recommendations were around equipping our communities to Recognise, Report, and Prevent domestic and family violence within our communities.

This report was circulated to ministers and elders in our churches following the publication of the ABC story. In response to that story, many churches issued statements online condemning domestic violence and the twisting of the Bible to justify it. Creek Road issued a statement that included these words:

“Where abuse is happening, our church and its leaders will use our strength to stand between victim and abuser, like Jesus stood between the Pharisees and the woman they hoped to stone to death. It will not be the victim who is pressured to leave our community. We will not coerce a victim to remain in a situation of abuse for the sake of their abuser. We will report allegations of domestic violence to the police.

 If you are reading this and are in a relationship where your husband is twisting God’s word to justify violent or abusive behaviour speak out; tell somebody you trust. Keep doing this until you find someone who will believe you and provide you the help and support you need. Contact your pastor, or Growth Group leader, or a trusted friend.”

Further Reading

 

 

Living Faithfully in a Suffering Averse Age: A seminar from the 2017 Presbyterian Church of Queensland Assembly

The Gospel In Society Today Committee presented two workshops unpacking some of the implications of our white papers at the 2017 PCQ Assembly.

In this seminar we speak about how to live faithfully in an age that seeks to not just minimise pain and suffering but to avoid it all together — not just in our own lives, but as others suffer and grieve. The good life, we’re told, is one of pleasure, without pain, not one of hope through pain and suffering. This seminar unpacks our paper on the Gospel and Humanity, and features stories of suffering from several leaders of our churches.

This is a video of the seminar. The GIST committee is happy to help churches in PCQ find ways to use this paper, or the content of the seminar, to help meet our committee’s two purposes, to:

a) live faithfully for Jesus in a secular society and
b) engage in gospel-hearted apologetics that point to the great hope we have in Jesus.

Living Faithfully in the Sexular Age: A seminar from the 2017 Presbyterian Church of Queensland Assembly

The Gospel In Society Today Committee presented two workshops unpacking some of the implications of our white papers at the 2017 PCQ Assembly.

In this seminar we speak about how to live faithfully in a world that is not just what philosopher Charles Taylor describes as ‘secular’ but one in which the ultimate good and the idea of a ‘flourishing life’ and human identity is tied up with sexuality. This unpacks our paper on the Gospel and Sexuality and draws out some pastoral implications as well as some idea for how we might speak into public conversations about the place of sex in our lives and society with contributions shaped by the Gospel.

This is a video of the seminar. The GIST committee is happy to help churches in PCQ find ways to use this paper, or the content of the seminar, to help meet our committee’s two purposes, to:

a) live faithfully for Jesus in a secular society and
b) engage in gospel-hearted apologetics that point to the great hope we have in Jesus.

The panel discussion begins at the 30:00 minute mark, it features a Q&A session with members of the assembly (ministers and elders from our churches).

Living and dying well in Jesus

How will we cope with dying? Many voices now say that euthanasia is the way to die well. Michelle Taylor is a member at Caloundra Presbyterian Church who suffers from a rare, terminal illness. Hear Michelle talk about ‘dying well’ – trusting and hoping in Jesus who loves her.

Talking to kids about death

‘I don’t want to die!’

A four-year old glare. My heart sinks. No, this child is not in imminent danger of death that I know of, but he is tired and it is bed time. Something has happened in his world that requires another conversation about death. When do we ever fathom death and all it means for us and those we love? Not at five, nor fifty-five. How can we go to sleep in the dark, all by ourselves when there is death in our world?

‘Why don’t you want to die?’

‘I don’t want to go to Jesus!’

Of course not. You are little and you want to stay here, where it is familiar and safe. But death breaks all of that for us, no matter our age. We aren’t in charge of our lives. Death is our enemy for so many reasons.

‘Why don’t you want to go to Jesus?’

Silent fury.

A prayer for wisdom. Quite a lot of wisdom, please.

‘What do you think Jesus will do when he sees you?’

‘He’ll tell me to go away because he thinks I’m naughty!’

Ah, so we’re still processing the difficult conversation with the person who decided this boy needed to hear about how he was going to hell, without first asking him whether he trusts Jesus. Death is terrifying if you aren’t welcome in heaven.

‘That’s a bit of a problem. I wonder if Jesus has done anything about our naughty things?’

Silence.

‘Do you think that when Jesus died on the cross he died for your naughty things as well as mine?’

Nodding.

‘So do you think Jesus is still mad about our naughty things?’

Big eyes.

‘I wonder if Jesus died on purpose for all those bad things? The Bible says that Jesus did die for all our wrong things on purpose. He did that because he loves us. Did you know he loved us even before he died for us? Even while he was dying on the cross?’

‘Jesus loves us all the time?’

‘Jesus isn’t going to tell you to go away if you trust him for your naughty things. Do you know what he might do?’

‘What?’

‘He’ll smile at you.’

An attempt to make concrete the genuine welcome we have in heaven; the unrelenting love our of Saviour for us. His love for us makes all the difference. We can die when we know we have a Saviour who is bigger than death itself, and whose love for us is stronger than death.

‘Did you know that when you die, Jesus holds onto you the whole time? He doesn’t let you go even for a second. He is stronger than me or Daddy. He is bigger than death. When Mummy or Daddy die, we’ll need Jesus to hold onto us the whole time. Death is too big for us.’

Tears falling. I’ve introduced the possibility of other people dying: precious people. Death is utterly heartbreaking. The last great enemy indeed.

‘Jesus is the way to heaven. He takes us there. He holds onto us and doesn’t let us go and he brings us to his special home. We are safe, even though we are dead because Jesus doesn’t ever let go of us. No-one and nothing can make him let go. Not even death. And he won’t let go, because he loves us.’

‘I don’t want to die!’

No hot anger now. Sorrow. Sadness that will tinge all of life because we live on this earth as mortals with death and all its companions: fear, pain, anxiety.

‘I know. No-one wants to die. It isn’t how God made us. He made us to live and sing and speak and dance and rejoice with him. One day we’ll be in Jesus’ heaven where there is no more death ever again. And no more naughty things. Ever again.’

Sobbing.

‘What do you think you’ll do when you die and Jesus smiles at you?’

Quiet. Receding sobs. Ear-splitting grin.

‘I’ll smile back’.

I pray he always trusts his mighty, loving Saviour as reflexively.

Christians: friends of gay people?

I was blown away recently that one of my wife’s gay friends wants to come along to church. Not regularly, just to visit. But he wants to come just the same.

James (name changed) recently heard about a special celebration our church is having and asked if he could come along. James takes his aunt along to her church from time to time, so church is not completely alien to him. He even believes in God in some sense. But he knows that Christians oppose gay marriage, and his impression is that Christians hate gay people. So the fact that James wants to come along to church at all is a big deal, a big step for him. A big risk. Could it be that God is working in his life?

It got me thinking though, what kind of welcome will James receive when he comes along to church, especially when people find out he’s gay? Don’t get me wrong, our church is pretty welcoming, but having a gay man come along is foreign territory to us.

And what would it look like if James decided he wanted to come along to church more often?

In seeking to answer those questions I think we need to understand the tension going on for us as Christians, between wanting to show love and acceptance to gay people on the one hand, and not wanting to condone homosexuality on the other. Between combating James’ view that Christians hate gay people (and so maybe God hates him) and holding onto the Bible’s clear teaching on homosexuality.

And as our society increasingly affirms same-sex relationships, we’re going to be faced with this tension more and more often. What do you do when a gay friend invites you to his/her ‘wedding’? What happens when a gay parent wants to bring along his/her child to Sunday School? What happens when that gay parent asks if he/she can help set up chairs for church or hand out Bibles at the door?

Friends this is new ground for us. I’m not sure if anyone has all the answers yet (and I’m sure I don’t). But in my stumbling efforts to begin to grapple with this issue, here are two initial thoughts on how we might start to think about how to respond.

1. Gay people are sinners just like everyone else. The Bible tells us that all of us fall short of God’s glory (Rom.3:23). It’s not that there are some sinners God seeks out because they are less sinful than others and some he passes over because their sin is just too bad for him (c.f. 1Tim.1:15). Therefore our treatment of gay ‘sinners’ needs to be guided by the same kinds of principles we would apply to heterosexual ‘sinners’, for example to people in de-facto relationships.

2. We are going to be misunderstood no matter how we respond. If we respond in ways that look loving to our gay friends we are likely to be misunderstood by some as condoning homosexuality (ironically probably more by our Christian friends than by gay people). If we respond in ways which make our views on homosexuality clear up front we will likely be misunderstood by some as saying Christians hate gay people (misunderstood primarily by our gay friends I think).

In thinking about this it’s worth noting that Jesus himself faced this kind of tension. It’s well known that as he sought sinners Jesus welcomed prostitutes, tax collectors, and drunkards. In the process he was misunderstood by some in the religious establishment as endorsing those sins and accused even of indulging in some of them himself (Mt.11:19). The phrase ‘Jesus friend of sinners’ was not initially a complement!

For us though as we seek to reach our gay friends with the good news of Jesus, the question in my mind is, “How do we become the kind of people who desire the salvation of our gay friends so much that perhaps we start to be in danger of being called ‘Christians friends of gay people’?”