256. What is the good news behind the same sex marriage decision of the Australian Parliament in December 2017?

Euphoria! That was the description given by many reporters to the reaction in the Australian Federal Parliament at the passing of the bill to amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples. Members from different parties gathered on one side of the Parliament to register their vote in favour of changing the definition of marriage to include same sex couples. Only a few members gathered on the other side of Parliament to register their No vote. When the result of the vote was announced there was a cacophony of noise as members of different parties rose with beaming faces from the “yes” side to embrace each other [perhaps something they had never dreamed of doing beforehand.]

The Australian Prime Minister was caught up in all the euphoria. He exclaimed “Australia has done it. What a day for love, for equality, for respect … This belongs to us all. This is Australia – fair , diverse, loving and filled with respect for every one of us. This has been a great, unifying day in our history.” He reportedly said later on a TV program, “What a day. What a day. What a day in history. What a day for love. What a day to put our arms around same-sex couples and say we love you, we respect you, you have all the rights that everyone else has had for so long — now we’re all at one.”

BUT! The scene could be viewed differently. Instead of it being a day for love, it could have been seen as a day for sadness and regret as the majority of members of parliament rejected all amendments designed to secure religious freedom and freedom of speech for Australian citizens.

“Now we’re all at one” by the Prime Minister was an exaggerated and hollow boast when in our own electorate it was almost a dead-heat with only 55.3 % of voters voting “Yes.” Nation-wide it was a majority in the plebiscite to approve same sex marriage but only by a 61.6% majority. Yes, it was a clear majority but the result was influenced by a biased media [itself influenced by Marxist philosophies]; by wads of money being spent on the “Yes” campaign and by a concerted smear campaign against those not in favour of same sex marriage, who were labelled as being bigoted, unjust, unloving, hateful and homophobic.

Let’s take another perspective. What if parliamentarians had acted on what God has revealed in His world?

The First revelation

St Paul wrote of two revelations that God has made in His world. He declares that the first revelation was a revelation of the “righteousness of God” to the world. {Righteousness could in simplest terms be described as “what God wants.”] How did God reveal it? Paul explains it was made known through the gospel message God called him to share, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’.” Rom 1:16-17. Salvation implies that some need has to be met. His words also imply that only the power of God is able to meet it. Faith takes hold of the salvation offered freely by God in His love for humankind through what Christ did for them.

Paul presses on because he knows that one can only understand the good news of the gospel if one understands the badness of the bad news. He then goes on to speak of the second revelation from God. The first revelation was about God’s love in making it possible for everyone to be saved by faith in Christ. The second revelation from God is different.

The Second Revelation

This time it is not the revelation of His love. Rather it is the revelation of His wrath.  Paul outlines what the wrath of God is like.

He carefully gives these two main points to consider.

1). God’s wrath is revealed and continues to be revealed at the present time.  [It is an ongoing revelation. It is not just ‘will be revealed’ in the future.]

  • Against what is God’s wrath revealed? Paul explains, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Rom 1:18. Instead of human lives reflecting the truth about the holiness of God by living holy lives, they are suppressing it by living the ungodly and unrighteous lives they live. Humans by their wrong behaviour make it difficult for other humans to see the holiness of God because their lives do not reflect that holiness. The truth about God is being suppressed by wrong human behaviour.
  • Can humans be excused for their failure to show forth the holiness of God? Paul says in effect, “Definitely not!” He explains, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Rom 1:19-20. In other words, God has revealed Himself in creation as a God of order and of power. Humans have no excuse for ignoring His revelation of Himself. The creation points to the Creator who has made Himself known through His world and through His word and through His Son.

2). God’s wrath is on humans who have no time for Him.

  • God has revealed Himself in His world but humans choose to reject that knowledge of Him, “For although they knew God, they did not honour him as God or give thanks to him… .” Rom 1:21. They did not give God His rightful place nor recognise their dependence on Him. Nor did they obey Him as creatures before their Creator God.
  • Such rejection had its results, “but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Futile thinking. Darkened foolish hearts. In God’s opinion!
  • Wise in their own eyes. Foolish in the eyes of God, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Rom 1:22. In God’s opinion!
  • How did that foolishness work out in practice? Not well for humanity! In their futile thinking they made 3 exchanges which led to 3 erroneous ways of living and brought 3 tragic results.

THE THREE EXCHANGES MADE BY HUMANS, AND THE RESULTS

First Exchange By Humans. Worship of idols in place of God, “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Rom 1:23. [Idolatry. Reality replaced by unreality.]

  • A tragic result. Rom 1:24 “Therefore God gave them up …” He handed them over to do what they wanted to do independently of Him.
  • Erroneous ways of living. “… in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves.” [Not only did they fail to give Him the honour due to Him as their Creator and God but they then dishonoured His gift to them, their bodies.

 Second Exchange By Humans. Exchanging truth about God for a lie. Rom 1:25  “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie…”

  • Erroneous way of living. “and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Exchanging truth about God for a lie was bad enough. However they also worshipped His creation rather than Himself as Creator.
  • A tragic result. Rom 1:26 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions.” He handed them over to let them do what they wanted to do.

 Third Exchange By Humans. God’s natural order for sex exchanged for not-natural sex in God’s eyes. “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Rom 1:26-27.

  • A tragic result. Rom 1:28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” He has given humans free-will but they have a choice to use it wisely or unwisely. (Notice a play on words here. “See fit” is from dokimázō, δοκιμάζω meaning to approve or to be acceptable. “Debased” is the opposite word adókimos, ἀδόκιμος meaning unapproved or unacceptable. Some translations have “reprobate” as being opposed to God.) God in His wrath allowed them to misuse their free-will in ignoring Him and His order for His world.
  • Erroneous ways of living. Characteristic of all humans in various degrees. Rom 1:29 “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” It is sad that humans in turning their back on God open themselves to the evil influences of the world, the flesh and the devil. Sadder still that they encourage others in their ungodly behaviour.

 SUMMING UP:-

1).  Humans in all generations make wrong exchanges from foolish thinking. They exchange reality for unreality. They fail to give God His rightful place in His world and in their lives. In a world created by God, His creatures need to receive from Him what is the truth about the world He created for a purpose and with an order. Only He fully understands what truth is. In His grace, mercy and love He has revealed that truth in His world, in His word and in His Son. To ignore the truth of that revelation means that people live in a state of “un-truth” or in a state of unreality. The wrath of God remains on those who reject Him and His love.

2).  Those wrong exchanges bring a response from God. “God gave them up.” We note though that this word for “give up” does not mean that God gives up on them. Rather the word for “give up” is [paradídōmi; παραδίδωμι] meaning to deliver over to someone or something, or to hand over to the power of someone or something. The Holman Christian Standard Bible puts it well, “God delivered them over”. As a result of the first exchange, He delivered humans over “in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity.” In the second exchange “God delivered them over to degrading passions.” In the third exchange “God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.”

It is extremely important to note that the “wrath” of God involved in God “delivering them over” is not the sudden flaring up of anger that we see in humans. It is His settled disposition towards sin. He hates sin because of the damage it does to humans whom He created and whom He loves. He hates sin because it prevents those caught up in it from reaching their full potential in life as humans. He hates everything that is a danger to the people He loves. BUT He never loses control like humans do. That is why it so difficult for humans to understand the wrath of God. They understand wrath in the terms they have experienced it. It may have been in their own lives as they were the victims of other people’s anger. Or it may have been the memories of how they lost control in expressing anger against other people. God is not like that!

God in His wrath is never out of control. We can only understand His wrath when we read the scriptures where He tells us about the nature of His wrath. [There is more discussion on this in the previous article.]

3).  Those exchanges bring about erroneous behaviours

Paul is not saying that erroneous behaviour including idolatry, homosexuality etc will eventually bring about the wrath of God. Rather he is stating this very important truth, namely that the existence and the continued existence of idolatry, homosexuality and every other wrongful behaviour IS the manifestation of the wrath of God on the human race.

God in His wrath on sinful humans has handed them over to do what they want to do in their free will and in their rebellion against Him. They choose to be anti-God. They choose to be anti-Christ. They are accountable to God for their rebellion against Him.

What Then Is The Good News Behind The Same Sex Marriage Decision Of The Australian Parliament In December 2017?

  • Was this a demonstration of the righteousness of God? Obviously not considering what God has said about His attitude to homosexual behaviour in His word in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • Was it a demonstration of the love of God? Obviously not when His creation of marriage was being trashed and proponents of traditional marriage were being ridiculed.
  • Was it a demonstration of the wrath of God? Australians were given a choice to change the definition of marriage from God’s revealed purpose to something contrary to His character and purpose for His creatures. Did He, in His wrath, allow that to happen? Did He hand them over to do their own thing, not His?
  • The Australian parliamentarians voted “Yes” to same sex marriage and openly rejoiced that their bill to allow it was passed. Did He, in His wrath, allow that to happen? Did He hand them over to do their own thing, not His?
  • The determined effort by the majority of Parliament not to allow amendments designed to ensure religious freedoms and freedom of speech, succeeded. Did He, in His wrath, allow that to happen? Did He hand them over to do their own thing, not His?

In the eyes of many people what happened on that December day in Federal Parliament was a manifestation of the wrath of God as He handed people over to exercise their free-will and to do their own thing apart from Him. [As He does every day in the lives of all people.] Some may say, “How was His wrath manifest? I didn’t see people being struck down dead. I didn’t see hear peals of thunder and see bolts of lightning striking Parliament House.” No, because the wrath of God is not dependent on human feelings or opinions. His wrath is manifest in handing people over to let them make their own decisions and to choose to behave in ways that are contrary to His will.

He has told humans why He is patient with them in allowing them to even sin against Him, “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9. He is giving people time to repent and to turn to Him for salvation.

So here is the good news. Up to this point of time God has given humans time to turn to Him. No-one is ‘too far gone’ to  miss out on His forgiveness and love. He has made it possible for humans to avert His wrath in the present and in the future. As John wrote, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36. It is by putting their faith in Christ for salvation that they avert His wrath. But is the time running out? Each day is one day closer to the time when there is no more time.

Jesus died for sinners so that they might repent of sin and turn to Him for forgiveness and eternal life. As Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” Romans 5:8-9.  That acceptance with God means that believers will avert the final release of the wrath of God at the second coming of Jesus, “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thess 1:10. 

There is an urgency for all humans to repent and to turn back to God before it is too late! In the verse following 2 Peter 3:9 above [about the patience of God] we read these challenging words, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Universally. Unstoppable.

Peter goes on to remind us of the steps we need to take to avert this final manifestation of the wrath of God. It means letting God change our lives by His grace and power, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” 2 Peter 3:11-14. That is only possible when people find peace with God by accepting His offer of salvation in Christ. As Paul prayed for his readers, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  1Thess 5:23.

My prayer for Australia [and indeed for all humans] is based on the prayer Jesus taught us, “Your kingdom come.” O Lord, may Your kingdom come in power, opening the eyes of those still in the darkness and ignorance of sin. May they learn to repent of their sins and ask You to forgive them. Lord, please open their eyes to the truth of your word and move them by Your Holy Spirit to receive, by faith, the living Word, Jesus Himself into their lives. May they receive Him as Saviour and enthrone Him as Lord over every part of their lives.

“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Lord Jesus please establish Your rule in the hearts of all people so that we may all know Your will and do it. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with You’.” AMEN.

Blog No.256. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Thursday 18th January 2018

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Politics, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus, Sexuality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 256. What is the good news behind the same sex marriage decision of the Australian Parliament in December 2017?

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