June 28, 2016

Heads I Win/Tails You Lose

If you’re making a considered decision about who you vote for this Saturday, and the matter of whether we have a plebiscite on same sex marriage is a concern for you, then I suggest that you put that concern aside.  For nothing is going to stop gay marriage becoming a reality in Australia eventually, regardless of who you vote for. It’s a “Heads I win/Tails you Lose” matter.  Sorry to say it, but it’s true.

That’s the turn of the tide.  It’s especially the turn of the tide when one of the major parties states that whatever happens they will eventually ensure it does come in, regardless of what the plebiscite (if it occurs) says this time around.   The era of of dialogue and debate is over. The progressive side of politics instinctively gets this, and is leaving the conservative side floundering.

Here’s how The Australian reported Labor leader Bill Shorten at the National Press Club today:

Bill Shorten has vowed to make same-sex marriage laws the first piece of legislation a Labor government puts to parliament. It’s a step up from the opposition leader’s previous promise to legislate within 100 days of winning power.

“No $160 million plebiscite, no hurtful, hateful government-sponsored advertising campaign for us,” he told the National Press Club. Labor has pledged to continue pursuing the cause of legalising same-sex marriage, even if the reform is defeated at a national plebiscite.

Granted, this is the last week of an election campaign, and one that Shorten is looking like he will lose, but he is going out with a statement. He is laying the grounds of any plebiscite debate for the future,  especially with the language he uses to describe opposition to same sex marriage “hurtful/hateful”.

It’s going to take brave souls to tip-toe their way through that battle ground, and that’s exactly what Shorten is angling for, a battle ground rather than discourse, daring anyone as to be so brutal so as to debate this issue. He can bide his time and allow the language battle to do the conservative position on this  – slowly. Opposition parties in Western democracies are only ever one election cycle away from holding power, and a good thing too.

Opposition legal affairs spokesman, Mark Dreyfus also weighed in, echoing The Castle’s Darryl Kerrigan in response to Treasurer Scott Morrison’s naive comment that should “no” get up in a plebiscite then the gay community should leave it there.

“Mr Morrison is dreaming if he thinks marriage equality is an issue that will go away if the Liberals find a way to engineer a ‘no’ vote. The issue will not go away until marriage equality is made a reality in Australia.”

I’m with Dreyfus on this one, at least when it comes to his last sentence. If Morrison said that to me, given the lie of the cultural land, I’d say he’s dreamin’ too!

Dreyfus turns the knife by stating that a “no” vote could only be “engineered” – meaning  that a “no” could only prove it was rigged. That’s “Heads I Win/Tails You Lose” right there.

And in that sense it simply means that, like Brexit, the issue is never going to go away. These issues don’t.  Because unlike the economy, the cultural matters go to the heart of who we think we are as humans. Hence there is nothing that anyone could ever do that could convince the unconvinceable that what the people say is binding.

And that’s of course, if it ends up being a “no”.  I am not convinced it is even headed in that direction.  However it is heartening to hear that least Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce, both who plan to vote “no”, would heed the will of the people if the “yes” got up, and allow it passage through Parliament.

Scorn them if you will, but at least they demonstrate a stirring conviction about the democratic process – a conviction that is increasingly lacking in the progressive side of politics, if the churlishness of the past week is any indication. You may not like Morrison, but he will further your cause against his own cause, if the will of the people of Australia say he should.  Would you return the favour?  If you couldn’t then you are not half the person he is.

My definition of marriage would not, in all good conscience, permit me to affirm that marriage can ever be between two people of the same sex (or any number of people outside of two for that matter), yet if the plebiscite decides “yes” I would be worried if Parliament did not pass it through.


Because I firmly believe that in a secular democracy the rules of engagement are that the will of the people should be heeded.  That’s what politicians sign up for, and interestingly it’s not the Christian politicians by and large who are starting to reject that notion, it’s the post-Christian progressives.

I also believe that since this has become such a neon-sign issue in the election, should Labor win, then Bill Shorten is within his rights as the leader of the ALP to dispense with a plebiscite and table it in Parliament.  And there will be plenty of Coalition MPs who, having a conscience vote, would vote with him.

Why is he within his rights to do so?

Because I firmly believe that in a secular democracy the rules of engagement are that the will of the people should be heeded.

And that sets me -and others who take the will of the people seriously – at a distinct disadvantage. Late modern progressive politics, unsullied by any self-doubt, will be unable to take “no” for an answer on this matter. It is coming adrift from the democratic process at the grassroots level

Why? Because the revolution never ends.  Do we need further proof of this after the events in the UK last week?  For the progressive side of politics the “Leave” campaign  was “engineered”, as Mark Dreyfus would put it. It can never have any validity.  Ever.  It is always one step away from being struck down. It cannot be affirmed as the will of the people, because “we wuz robbed”, “it was stacked against us”, etc, etc.

Do I believe SSM marriage is marriage?  I do not.  Do I think that there will be unforeseen consequences of SSM?  Yes I do.  What they are I cannot fully tell, but I am convinced it will embolden many who wish to see the Christian framework more radically dismantled in our culture.  We may end up with something as pleasantly poisonous as a beautiful apocalypse.  We may end up with Biff Tannen’s version of Hill Valley, turning our culture into a Hell Valley.  I doubt the latter and worry that we will be damned to inhabit the former.

The current shape of the debate betrays the future shape of the debate. The language being used about SSM will be the basis for the language used for the debate about freedom of conscience matters.  Ignore the naysayers on this -that’s the way this is going to happen.

The building blocks are being laid linguistically for an intensified assault on freedom of conscience issues for people of religious faith.  Don’t believe me?  Then just ask Liberal candidate, Tim Wilson, openly gay, openly pro-SSM, and openly fearful that the state will over-reach and force itself on the conscience of people.

This is not about whether gay couples can force a minister to marry them, which will likely never happen. The way forward for marriage will end up being the state holding the right to marry, and you can do what you want about a religious ceremony afterwards.   No, this is about all of this other detritus being sucked in behind the updraft of such a decision. Those conversations are already happening now.  The waters are being tested when it comes to the language being used now.

Now none of this hinders the church of Jesus Christ from moving forward, it is HIS church after all, and if the gates of hell will not prevail against it, neither will the gates of parliament.

So I have learned, as Paul said in Philippians 4:12, to be content. To be content whether in the riches of my position held as the community position, or the poverty of my position being increasingly marginalised by the community.   But I can only hold that position because, eschatologically, I believe nothing can prevail against the march of God’s church.

Make no mistake – this is about eschatology.  Those who argue for same sex marriage have a “we will overcome” mentality also. This is what earth-bound eschatology looks like: zealous, impatient, optimistic, and relentless – a refusal to take an earthly “no” for an answer, because in the end there is no heavenly “yes” to look forward too, religion being the opiate of the masses and all.

Without a Jesus to come back and wrap up history, history has to be wrapped up by us; a glorious future  history to be unveiled, one upon which the gates of the church will not prevail.

That’s why whatever, or whoever you vote for Australia will, eventually, get with the earth-bound program, and same sex marriage will be introduced.  Heads You Win/Tails I Lose.

Written by


Written by

Recent Posts

There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

Stay in the know

Receive content updates, new blog articles and upcoming events all to your inbox.