Good question. And here is a brief answer that by no means considers all the ‘issues’.
Australia’s polices and treatment of asylum seekers is not good (although I can recognise it is not a simple issue). The way that we are handling this humanitarian crisis (in my view) is driven more by protecting our sovereign rights (mostly our level of wealth) than it is driven by compassion for those who are vulnerable – for the myriad of reasons that they are more vulnerable.
The way that we are legislating are the logical result of what the Australian people at large seem to hold as most important – individualism driven by a desire to be more materially comfortable. I am sure I am as much the problem here as the next person (to my shame). As a society, the more we drive for those individual western values, the less we will be capable as a nation to care for those who need help – such as the many people seeking some form of refuge in Australia.
We should be able to see the logical rebuke the gospel gives to any thinking that puts those who are more secure over those who are less secure. Christians should have a voice and should speak up in defence of Asylum seekers.
You might find a talk given in Adelaide by Andrew Cameron at the end of 2012 when asylum seekers were more on the public radar helpful in thinking more deeply about how Christians can think and respond to debate about asylum seekers – it is such a big area.
As to why we are talking more about Same-sex marriage? That is simply because it is so much more on the national radar at this moment as our government (fuelled by our press) are legislating about it as we speak.
Is it a more pressing issue than the treatment of asylum seekers – everyone will have a view on that. They are both concerns yet different concerns.
The same sex marriage debate is on one level not that important a debate. Whether Australia ‘legislates’ in favour of same sex marriage or not does not change anything about the way two people love one another (who needs a court of law to say they can love!). That is part of the unhelpful way this debate is being canvased. Furthermore, what a nation puts into law, doesn’t change what God thinks or says marriage is – so in some respects this is not the most important ‘issue’.
The real issue is actually a gospel issue. The gospel has a lot to say to all of us who sin (homosexual or heterosexual) about how God loves us most specifically in Jesus. If we want to talk about true love, then let’s talk about Jesus. He demonstrated love best and he didn’t need a law to do that. That of course does not mean that he approves of any sin, nor does he think sin should be tolerated in any of us. He will still judge all of us, but will also do that in the context of his salvation offer to all who love him.
In the Bible, one of the best illustrations of what Jesus has done to save, is put forward in the sacrificial marriage relationship between a man and woman (Eph 5:21-33). Accepting a redefinition of God’s view of marriage has implications because it redefines God’s gospel. The real issue here is that so many in this debate are just wanting to reject God’s word. Doing that means they reject what God has done for them in Jesus. That is a salvation issue. It is not loving to just watch someone put themselves in harms way. So Christians say something (and that person can still choose to reject our love or our words).
But further, while that may be a decision that any individual would like to make for themselves, it is not particularly loving to force that opinion onto society at large. Forcing the same-sex issue, such that our society (built on Christian foundations) is forced to accept a position which is in rejection of God’s word is unhelpful.
In marriage between a man and woman, we have a relationship that follows what God has instituted. As God saves, it is in our individual and collective interest to uphold that view.
In marriage between two people of the same sex, we have a relationship that doesn’t follow what God has instituted. Rejecting God’s view is neither in one’s individual interest (although that person won’t see it that way) or our collective interest to uphold that view.
That is why Christians should speak up. It is important to offer a loving voice that aims to show all people how much Jesus loves them. As it is important to offer a voice that cautions a call to reject God’s love in Jesus. And although Christians can not force God’s view upon anyone who rejects it, neither should Christians sit back as that view gets forces upon them.
Be praying for those around us who struggle under the weight of this debate.