17 Square Feet of Battle-Scarred Turf

There’s a funny, sobering scene in the final Rowan Atkinson Blackadder series, Blackadder goes Forth, set during World War One. Stephen Fry’s General Melchett is discussing with resident nincompoop Lieutenant George (a fresh faced Hugh Laurie) the advances made by the British troops in the mud of France.  The sacrifices have been huge, with many lives lost.

Sitting on a table in the General’s officer is a scale model of a battle field, the turf recaptured so far in the battle against the Huns.

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Melchett asks Captain Darling (the wonderfully simpering Tim McInnerny) what the actual scale is of the model sitting before them.

“One to one sir.”

“Come again?”

“The map is actually life-sized sir. It’s in perfect detail sir.  Look there’s a little worm.”

“So the actual amount of land retaken is?…”

“17 square feet sir.”

“Ah, so young Blackadder didn’t die horribly in vain after all.”

Christian exiles, it’s time to leave the turf wars behind and stop the senseless dying in vain.  If, when the smoke and noise and screams of outrage have cleared in the current same sex marriage debate, all that traditional Christians have to show for it is 17 square feet of turf, then that’s one mother of a Pyrrhic victory.

And that’s even if we “win”, whatever that word means! The former Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, a gay man who supports SSM and religious liberty in the public square for those who dissent, told me personally that many Christian groups are playing it all wrong.

He explained that his struggle has been to convince Christian groups to stop fighting so hard against what is inevitable (and he and I agree that SSM in Australia is inevitable), and instead concentrate on working hard to showcase the need for religious liberty.  He believes that many are so intent on winning the first fight, that they’ll actually lose both. I think he’s right.

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I am as committed to the biblical vision of sexuality, marriage and gender as I have ever been, but it’s getting to the stage where the accusations that we are simply retreating to “quietism” if we leave this one alone, just don’t cut it any longer. There’s a growing sense in some Christian quarters that “we” can match the sound and fury of the Hun, so to speak. And I just don’t buy that.

In the quietism accusation the fear is that we will become detached from the world to the detriment of doing good to the culture. But if the solution to quietism becomes, as it appears to be, “noisy-ism”, then we’ve got a problem. If the answer is an ever louder and more convoluted series of campaigns demonstrating how the sky will fall in it this things gets up, we’ve lost gospel focus.

To be honest, leave the shouty scenario to our protagonists.  A firm and singular sotto voce “no may be the way to play it, because at the moment this battle is a headlong rush towards bigger and bolder headlines.

I believe it’s time for exiles to stop playing by those rules, if it were ever the time to play by them in the first place. The incessant lobbying, the plants in audiences on ABC’s QandA, the sense of entitlement that leaches through the comments in newspapers and blog posts.

Let’s be honest, if our hope is to gain 17 square feet of turf, then we need to go at it hammer and tongs.  But our hope is a “re-turfed” new creation, one in which bomb holes, bullet holes and fox holes are a distant memory.  For a secular age in which this is all there is, then it’s not only worth putting everything on the line for, it’s absolutely necessary. That’s why all sorts of dirty tricks are being pulled, that’s why the language has become so brutal.

But we know that it’s not all that there is.  We know that there’s an age to come where righteousness will be at home. Dirty tricks and brutality should never be our game because we’re just not that desperate.

I have been challenged on this by Mark Sayer’s excellent new book, Disappearing Church: From Cultural Relevance to Gospel Resilience, a complete must read. It echoes much of my thinking over the past year in relation to the so-called Benedict Option, the call for the church to focus its energies on creating a strong centre again; refusing to fight the culture wars the culture’s way.

In the 5th century St Benedict created a series of robust monastic communities that withdrew from the surrounding culture, but not simply to hide away and await the, er, Rapture.  Their goal was return. Once refocussed, re-charged, and re-energised through the process of withdrawal, they returned to provide safe havens of godly community and love in the midst of a chaotic post-Roman Empire Europe.

Benedict’s communities were like beautiful bomb shelters. They were not dark tunnels in which people cowered in fear, but solid, unbreakable communities that modelled the resilience and creative beauty that the scorched culture would require once hostilities ceased and the shelling stopped.

As Sayers points out, the Benedict Option is not about building a compound to hide away.  Withdrawal is designed to create “creative minority” communities that will provide robust examples of what God wants not just for 17 square feet of turf, but for the whole creation.

Such communities are to be, in a sense, repellently attractive. Communities that people both long to join, but are, at the same time, reluctant to join. No one is to be cajoled by promises of their best life now.  They need to see the great cost, but also the great reward at the end of it.

The Benedict Options means that the bar is high for Christians. And for good reason. It means love and loveliness, godliness and goodliness, holiness and wholeness.  In a muscular sense it means deciding to forgo the bracket creep of theological heresy (we value orthodoxy). It means forsaking the slavish desire for the kudos of a culture that is in decline (we value orthopraxy).  But it means valuing those in ourselves, not expecting them from a lost world that is seeking satisfaction and ultimate identity anywhere but Jesus.

But above all it means valuing those things in ourselves for the sake of the world. And that’s ultimately what banishes any notion of quietism. God’s plan for creation was won at the ultimate Ground Zero, the cross.  The cross is the place where the banshee wail of the godless culture reached its crescendo, and where the barrage raining down on the head of Jesus went nuclear. We too are people of the cross. Should we expect anything less than he received?

When the darkness and the poison and the smoke cleared, when the sun rose on that third day,  God’s resurrected man demonstrated that he hadn’t died horribly in vain after all. The turf war was fought and won decisively at the cross. From that day to this there is no square foot of turf on the whole planet over which he does not pronounce “Mine!”, and he has the battle scars to prove it.

27 Comments

  1. A crucial discussion. It seems to me that it is not our goal to re-establish a Christendom which seeks through power and control to impose an ethical framework on a resistant culture.
    Prophetic critique yes – from a position of humility and weakness. Faithful witness – yes and always. Unyielding around the issue of separation of church and state so minorities (like us and others) are protected from external powers. This last is about the freedom.brought by the gospel that affirms non-conformity as a right.

  2. Well said, Stephen. While stepping away from haranguing the culture, is there still a place for calling churches to orthodoxy, or is that battle also lost? (I guess you are doing just that via this post) I gave up a long fight in my previous denomination because we had no basis around which to contend- Scripture having lost its place of authority. I observe the creep in Baptist young adult circles now, aided by heroes like Bono and Pocock. Hillsong is going softly softly in a “we don’t tell people how to live” way.
    I’m surprised the Apostles and prophets of the NAR/Bethel league seem only to have words of greater outpouring of miracles and revival/ capturing the mountains of culture, but provide little discernment (like your article) to the church.

    I know little of the Benedictines, but my vision of community has porous edges. Guess the level of hostility in the culture will determine just how integrated and porous we can be Vs shielded. (For instance if we become “unfit” persons to raise children)

  3. Good observations Gary.The porous edges thing is the key. But you are right, if it turns hard against our perspective and pushes us on child raising etc, it will be an interesting time. Rod Dreher has some good things to say about this at americanconservative.com. I do think that the major denominations will generally fall like dominoes on this, and end up like the mainlines in the US and other Western nations

  4. I wonder if we would have accused Amos of “haranguing the culture”? Or Isaiah perhaps? Elijah? Elisha? John the Baptist? Well, certainly Jeremiah! And perhaps Daniel could have been a bit more circumspect in his approach – tactful, more accommodating maybe, less inclined to stir up trouble. (And don’t get me started on those three fools in the furnace!!) Could it be that there was some substance to Jonah’s objection about preaching in Ninevah? And then, of course, there’s that Jesus fellow…

    1. That’s perhaps a mixing up of categories Andrew. Amos, Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha and John the B, Jeremiah, didn’t harangue the world, but the church. That’s a huge distinction. They harangued the church for being like the world. They didn’t harangue the world for being like the world, because what else could the world be but the world? It’s interesting too how Daniel walked a finer line than all of them, and the key points picked out are the ones in which Daniel and his friends’ lives are at stake. There is a huge swathe of time in their lives in which they would have been, in the eyes of some, traitors to the cause because they advanced the cause of Babylon.

      1. Actually, all of them denounced the pagan cultures/nations that surrounded them & proclaimed God’s judgement upon them for being the world in opposition to Him (we could include Paul in this category also).Unfortunately, we often retreat to the excuse that the prophetic declaration of God’s Word in the Scriptures was for God’s people (ie. now the church). I tend to think that’s an excuse that’s driven by fear of what we might suffer if we genuinely challenge the darkness of the world. Strangely, such a stance also implicitly paints various martyrs throughout history as utterly deluded – the poor fools should have adopted the Benedictine Option! The fact is that Jesus the light cam to challenge the darkness of this world – whether it is to be found within the church or otherwise.

  5. Lot offered the men of Sodom heterosexual fornication with his daughters but they refused rather desiring homosexual sodomisation with Lot’s male visitors. Lot held them off for the night preserving his few square feet of Sodom. If some can be turned all well and good but the hardcore will never change.

  6. Well the Benedict Option is not about withdrawal for the sake of it, but withdrawal for the sake of return as my post pointed out. The difference between Israel and the nations is that there is no expectation that the nations are to live in light of the saving grace of God. They will be judged for rejecting God, but there is clearly no version of the Ten Commandments for them that begins “I am the Lord your God who brought you up out the land of Egypt”. There is certainly a more nuanced view in the NT of the relationship between the church and the culture as well. But primarily the Benedict Option has been painted as a retreat into a compound. It wasn’t Benedict’s original blueprint, and I don’t think it is the blueprint now.

  7. I hope this brief quote by Barbara Brown Taylor is helpful: “When the hot Word of God is poured over a cold, cold world, things break, and it is into that brokenness that we are called, into whatever big or small piece we find in front of us, with fire in our bones, to show a frightened world that it is not the heat of the fire that we fear, but the chill that lies ahead if the fire goes out.”

  8. Hi Stephen,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog for some time now, but have become quite concerned at your ‘white flag’ approach to SSM. If we all took the view that things are ‘inevitable’ then Christians would not be willing to go forward to be salt and light in this world and dare to rattle worldly thinking or ways or indeed stand up and fight for many things.
    After all, if it is ‘inevitable’ the world will get darker, why bother trying to fight it? That seems to me to be what you are saying here on the subject of SSM. Oh dear ‘Che sera sera”!!
    I can assure you there are many Christians who have not surrendered to the supposed inevitability of this and indeed believe because we have not done so, this is why it is not yet legal in this nation, when so many others have fallen like dominoes. Many prayer warriors and intercessors understand the ramifications of this for our nation and indeed our children.
    Marriage is an incredibly important institution, whether unbelievers realise this or not. It is too important to just lay down and say “oh well, it’s gonna happen anyway, it’s just inevitable!
    You say we should concentrate on religious liberty and this is indeed one of the reasons we continue to fight against this. Because this leads to the destruction of freedom of religion, conscience and speech,I don’t believe they can be separated from this issue and therefore the fight is about those very things also.
    Wherever marriage has been redefined, there comes a totalitarian enforcement of this to be the only view and opinion people are allowed to have. We only have to look overseas to see this and indeed also in our own nation (whilst the current definition of one man/one woman is still the legal definition) we have the Catholic Archbishop of Tasmania being sued for discrimination for giving out the Catholic teaching on marriage to parents who send their children to Catholic schools. I presume these same parents would be cognizant with this view and have still chosen to send their children to these schools, so why is this happening? The reason is to make any other view discriminatory and therefore subject to taking away religious liberty, freedom of conscience and speech.
    The next step also for this is to take any tax exempt status churches may have because they have dared to teach anything contrary. So to me, religious liberty is absolutely tied up in this battle.
    I agree the way we present arguments is incredibly important, but again should anyone try to present an opposing view to SSM, no matter how respectful or winsome they may be, they are subject to ad hominen attacks, targeted, vilified and called despicable names. People lose jobs, businesses and money, fighting scurrilous charges. If this is what it is like before SSM should perhaps be legalised, I can only imagine how much more difficult it will be afterwards.
    I for one think that is worth fighting for, not by retreating but by going forward using spiritual and natural weapons.
    Wherever did we get the idea also that Christians should be namby pamby quiet little ‘loving’ beings?? Love often needs to be tough and courageous and sometimes that may mean raising our voices. Looking back at many saints of old we see people who were prepared to stand up and not shut up! He left us to ‘occupy’ till he comes… I pray for the courage to be one of those if needed.

  9. Also, in case you haven’t seen it, the Herald Sun has an article which tells us that now TODDLERS will be taught about sex, sexuality and cross dressing in a program to be rolled out at kindergartens and child care centres next month. THIS is why we fight! When one wall falls, they all follow and even little ones are not safe. I’m sorry but I am feeling VERY angry about this kind of thing and I happen to think this is a righteous anger when the littlest and most innocent are targeted with this kind of social engineering diabolical crap!
    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/toddlers-to-be-taught-about-crossdressing-in-controversial-sex-ed-program/news-story/7b935bb2e1573c1b2e748755d0f18986

    1. Hi Sandy – I think your anger is understandable. A couple of points:
      1. SSM hasn’t been introduced into Australia yet, not because Australian Christians have fought against it, but because it hasn’t been pushed through yet in court or through plebiscite. I think that will happen.
      2. My primary concern though is that we’re not arguing from Christian arguments. I hear ACL on Q and A arguing from positions of “it’ll will be bad for children”. It may or may not. It certainly won’t be any worse than the many foster kids situations from hetero relationships. If we really want to argue Christianly then have the courage of your convictions and argue, publicly, that we believe as Christians God only approves of sex inside heterosexual life-long marriage. We are opposed to divorce, living together, serial monogamy etc, all of which our culture takes as normal and many of which we not only turn a blind eye to as Christians, but approve of (I can tell you plenty of an adulterous remarriage in the church approved of by the leaders). So I have a high view of marriage. But Lyle Shelton et al are trying to argue from non-gospel grounds. Ironically he is looking for a certain level of public approval of his position. Just come out and declare gospel reasons for marriage and leave it there.
      3. Christians in other countries (Spain, France etc) where there is a strong separation of church and state in regards to marriage have not imploded through this. Their implosion was long before this and the marriage views in those countries reflect that implosion. Yet funnily enough, the gospel people I know from those countries are more joyous and relaxed in the midst of cultural pressure, and have less expectations that the pagan culture owes them anything. I have seen that numerous times. We in Australia as Christians have a huge sense of entitlement. I have also seen in new Christians here in Australia an expectation that life is going to be tougher now that they have turned to Christ. They expect a cavernous difference between themselves and the world.
      4. If we lose our tax exemption status. so what? We’re not owed anything by the world. We are actually richer than the world and as JEsus told Peter, we have family, lands, possessions a hundred fold in this life, plus persecutions, AND life in the age to come. Christians in many many other countries don’t get tax exemptions, they get persecution beyond what we will ever experience. Once again there’s a sense of entitlement we should be wary of. has tax exemption done much for the church in the USA? Is tax exemption the protection that is going to spread the gospel? In every western setting including Australia the gospel influence is shrinking. Will more tax exemption and protections help that? Our own children in our own churches are dropping out of the faith at a 70 per cent rate.
      5. Finally, what did you expect the response to be from the world towards godliness? 1Peter tells us that because we no longer plunge ourselves into the same excesses of dissipation that the world does, the world is surprised and so it blasphemes. Surely we aren’t exempt from that. The spiritual battle is the reason this is so. It is showing the world up for what it is. Perhaps this is the purifying process the church needs about now.
      THoughts?

      1. Sorry Stephen, you’ve well and truly lost me on this one. I find your reply to Sandy astonishingly poor. It seems to be just a list of cliched excuses for inaction – it”s inevitable, our arguments should be more Christian, Christians elsewhere have learned to live with it, Christians are just as bad, the world does not owe Christians privileged status or public support, we should expect to be ignored or persecuted, we should focus on the way we live as our Christian witness, etc, etc, etc. It is a concern I have had about evangelicals (in the true meaning of the word) for some time now. We use the word “gospel” a lot, we claim we are all about living a “gospel” life, promoting a “gospel” church, preaching the “gospel”, etc, etc. But I’m not sure it is genuine. If it was, we would have more people speaking out about the sinful state of our society (like Lyle Shelton), not less. We would have more Christians opposing the agenda of evil that some would like to see enacted. We would have more Christians standing up for the vulnerable in our society – the children, the broken, the poor, the lost, the voiceless – who are the mass targets of this amoral social engineering that is underway. Whilst I may have my doubts about ACL & their methods, strategies, etc, I don’t see or hear too many other evangelicals speaking out publicly about the evils of our society – apparently we are willing to leave it to people like Lyle & the Catholics (maybe a slight exaggeration). Instead, we take the high ground, claiming to be “gospel” Christians. But it seems to me we are just hiding behind a word, using it to justify a position of silence, shaping for ourselves a safe life & ministry & claiming that it is about godliness when it is really about convenience. Sorry, but there is nothing “gospel” about your response at all, it sounds more like fear to me.

  10. Hi Stephen, I have tried three times now to reply to this with some more thoughtsbut unfortunately, it won’t let me in…not sure why?

      1. Not sure Sandy. It should automatically go through because your other comments have been approved. There could be a comment limit on each one, but I don’t think so.

      2. I have tried several times now but figured maybe it might be because my reply is too long…will try to send it in different lots. Thank you for your patience and your previous reply.
        I do hope I am not coming from an entitlement mentality. I was saved in a Baptist church in 1977 that had a good theology of suffering and also was very clear in presenting the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
        I have been married to the same man for 48 years, had our share of troubles and challenges including the 2-1/2 year old cancer battle and subsequent death 4 years ago of our beloved committed christian son who left behind a lovely wife and 2 beautiful sons, also a 20 year journey through the meanderings of our other (Prodigal) Son who made many bad decisions but just recently gave his life back to Jesus Christ (Praise God!) and also a daughter who has a chronic illness, so I don’t expect life or God to ‘owe me”! In fact once many years ago when I was bemoaning the hardness of the way, the Lord gave me the scripture used in one of your previous blogs “we are ungrateful servants and we have only done that which we ought.” I have never forgotten that and try to check any attitude I may have in that area. We have lived in 5 different states an 6 different cities with my husband’s job, the last 30 mostly here in Perth, so I am used to making changes and adjustments and being flexible. So…having said that, here are a few of my thoughts in answer to your reply.

        1. I absolutely do NOT agree SSM has not been introduced yet because of natural or legal reasons. I absolutely believe it is because many Christians have been fasting and praying in this area for a long time now. We realise the urgency of the hour and the seriousness of this battle to be the door that opens into a Pandora’s box. When you think of the umpteen times SSM proponents have tried to get this through by fair means or foul, it is obvious there is a restraining influence at play. I believe it is the Holy Spirit and the prayers of God’s people. Even now with a proposed plebiscite, despite their insisting the majority of Australian’s want it, they are trying to stop this going ahead. Why? Maybe they are not as sure as they make out! To give up the fight now and lay down and yell “UNCLE” is absolutely not a even a consideration to me! In fact the very thought is anathema. There is too much at stake to not fight to the very end. The whole area of freedoms of religion, conscience and speech are absolutely bound up in this area, so religious liberty is one of the very reasons for the ongoing battle.

      3. 2. I am really surprised at your argument of not using Christian language. We live in a post Christian society with secular humanism as the predominant religion, so using Christian beliefs would be of absolutely no use considering the arena of this battle. It is easy to lay out the facts of what this can mean without going into ‘the bible says’. Although we do believe obviously that God’s wisdom and ways are best, it is stupid not to recognise that any acceptance of this has been jettisoned along with good old common sense when speaking regarding this issue! You talk of the children and I find the moral equivalence argument of hetero foster children to be really sloppy thinking. Of course there will be problems here, the majority of the population are heterosexual and we all come from heterosexual relationships. You only have to hear the cries of donor conceived children, adopted and surrogates to know there is a deep God placed urge to know our identity and our DNA. Time and the jury are still out on the effects of SS parenting to children brought up in this situation. Reputable studies (and to me common sense and biological and physiological evidence) would say children do better in a committed monogamous family structure with married opposite sex parents providing role models. Obviously this will not always be ideal because of the sinfulness of man and also life and tragedies can intervene. It is still the best way forward for children. I feel sad to say also I believe the reason church leaders have not spoken out on other issues e.g. adulterous relationships is because they have been cowed by the ‘thou shalt not judge’ brigade, inside and outside the church. Perhaps also they have leaned on the side of grace in trying to deal with these issues.

      4. 3. Christians in other countries are definitely experiencing persecution. I attend a bi-monthly prayer meeting praying for the persecuted church and I believe the western church is definitely far too soft. However, that does not mean we have to bow at the ‘altar of inevitability’ and say ‘oh well, maybe this is the way God is going to refine us’? Maybe, maybe not, but we should not chuck our freedom away in too much of a hurry! Many years ago the Lord showed me a picture of the gospel going out like a boomerang from our nation and he exhorted us to pray for the freedom to continue to do so! Why on earth would I just cave in on that? Not just our nation is affected but also the nations of the world. The implosion happened for many reasons, not just in the marriage area. I pray we will always maintain our joy, in the good times as well as the bad!

      5. 4. Personally, I couldn’t give a rip if we do lose tax exemption status, but I do think however, many charitable programs run by church based organisations will fold if that happens. Many people will be affected as you won’t find secular organisations taking up the towel! As for the loss of young people?? You lost me on that one, just not sure what tax exemption has to do with whether they stay or go? Surely that is by the power of the Holy Spirit, proper biblical discipleship and teaching and good mentoring and community. We need to look at how to minister to a real entitlement, feel good, experience over truth oriented generation, not think tax exemption status is the reason surely! Also let’s not forget Christians also pay taxes..And probably much more than in those other nations! Why cannot we hold our governments accountable for how they steward these resources?

      6. 5. I expect exactly the response we ARE getting from the world. If they hated Jesus they will also probably hate us, but that doesn’t mean again we give up continuing to preach the gospel in season and out, nor engaging with the culture when things are truly alarming and need a strong voice in speaking out on those issues. Why can’t it be Christians who do this?? William Wilberforce was motivated by his faith in Christ to work for the abolition of slavery. Until He comes again, we ‘work the works of Him who sent us’ whether we are popular or not. However, I think it is truly a sign of this day and age when even good living, moral non believers try to speak out and are denigrated, victimized and shut down…another reason not to bow down to inevitability!! Too much at stake again. We are called to be SALT and LIGHT, preservatives and shining His truth. Let’s not shrink back because of the heat of the battle!

      7. Finally, I would just like to add some further thoughts of my own…I love the example of Shammah in 2 Samuel 23:11-12 when he stood his ground on his own small lentil patch when others had run off. He defeated the Philistines and the bible tells us “God wrought a great victory!” Also Caleb said “Give me this Mountain!” when there were giants and fortified cities in it..he also passed this same spirit on to his daughter and he was commended by God for the spirit within him. How I love and am motivated by these heroes of the faith. They did not bow to what they saw or heard, but trusted God to deliver and bring victory. Yes, enemies were left in the land, but we see that the Lord ‘left them there to teach them warfare and to make them strong” (Judges 3:-16). I am concerned that the western church of today is getting weak and preaching soppy grace and so called “lurve”. I believe this is our testing and our teaching. Will we be people who rise up and continue to press forward to possess the land, or will we give up and say, ‘the giants are too big for us?’ I know which one I want to be, maybe you need to ask yourself that same question? I say that most respectfully Stephen as I truly do enjoy your blog and what you have to say. But maybe we need to challenge each another, just like you have done for me through your blog!
        God’s richest blessings to you and your family and church. I love the stimulation of a good discussion!

      8. Also, I would like to add that I have no personal axe to grind, but truly feel this issue is one of the key issues of our time. We are contending for our nation and for the souls of men and women of all persuasions. We are called to wrestle them out of the kingdom of darkness into His glorious light. We don’t do that by surrendering or by pretending it’s ok to continue in darkness. However, I am aware that great wisdom is needed as to how we deal with people personally and the brokenness of human nature. I forever ask the Lord to give me wisdom, to help me try to deal with any personal stuff that may get in the way. This is an ongoing work I admit!!

  11. Hi Andrew – Charles Taylor says that Christians enter the secular wars with one arm tied behind their backs because they decided to allow the secular framework to set the rules of the debate. And that is exactly what the likes of Lyle Shelton do. He’s not calling out the sinful state of the nation – he’s trying to use clever arguments on national tv to show why this will go pearshaped or why that is not a wise idea. In other words he’s using the wisdom of this age to try and win a battle that is at its heart deeply spiritual. The rules of engagement on Q and A are clear: the premise is that there is no God or no spiritual framework that can be allowed to speak into the public square. And guess what? that’s what Lyle delivers. He takes their rule book and ties his hand behind his back. We don’t ultimately believe that SSM is bad because it harms children or will destroy everyone else’s marriage – it may or may not in this age. We believe it is wrong because it goes against God’s specific framework for marriage, revealed in the OT and backed up by Jesus in the NT. And once Lyle says something like that publicly on the likes of Q and A, his invitations will dry up. We don’t use the wisdom of this age to win spiritual battles do we? Or else we do. I am getting a little concerned by the number of people who keep telling me I am running up the white flag on this issue. If I were to go on Q and A I would simply state that we have opposing views on this not because we’ve got a list of why it might destroy the fabric of Western culture, but because God has appointed covenant marriage to be a sign and signal of his relationship with the Church through Christ. We are a faith community that does not fit the agenda of the secular framework and we will never play by its rules. Maybe, just maybe hanging around the institutions of power and the halls of Canberra has made people fly THAT particular white flag, i.e., we know we won’t even get a hearing using a gospel argument, so we’ll use the secular rule book. Keep doing it and keep losing, that’s what’s happening.

    1. Oh dear! Now the gospel purity excuse too? I think I will leave the discussion at this point & simply refer you back to Sandy’s admirable reply to your previous points. I think her response is far more articulate and erudite that I can manage. It may be time that you started to ask yourself whether those people telling you that you are running up the white flag on this (& associated issues I suspect) may have a valid point.

      1. This might be getting a bit spiky Andrew! I think Sandy speaks some good things in what she says, but I am also concerned about hers (and yours) conflation of OT Israel withe NT church. I think this is where this thing (and our understanding of each other) comes apart. I truly believe that the best way to go publicly on this is not to play the game, which so much of this seems to be doing. We firmly announce that we are a counter community birthed by the revelation of the gospel. We do marriage, life, money, power differently to everyone else because of King Jesus and we won’t back down on that. We will do it publicly and graciously. I see no sense in trying to be be seen as somehow more intellectual than someone else on Q and A, and in order to do so having to dump the gospel. We’ve wasted too much time trying to spin an apologetic about this one that does not include biblical revelation as its starting point. We need to see that the land we possess (as Sandy puts it) is the church. That’s a crucial and basic rubric in the NT. All kingdoms on earth have already been given to jesus – yet they are not yet ours to possess. His church is a microcosm of the final day reality when all will be placed under his feet. There are no guarantees of that happening in any one land in this age – neither here, the USA or the UK.

  12. Stephen,
    Are you missing a meaningful linkage between the deleterious effects of SSM on people and the command of prohibition by God–that protecting us was God’s motivation for legislating? And are we not correct, pressing that linkage, for naming both as reasons that inform our own disapproval and opposition to SSM? Moreover, the harm inflicted on people (like impressionable children of tender age) obviates the need for hearing a word from God on the matter–even in the public square. And God has His way of getting the ear of people, even against every effort by some to stifle His voice. Even the artificial authority of the cultural elites have to run up against the hard edges of God’s reality. He will speak, and any with ears will hear.

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