Gay marriage: Church and state divide a must

Last updated 05:00 28/09/2012

CHANGING TIMES: Can the church keep pace.

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Throughout history, the church has been dragged kicking and screaming through social, political and theological changes.

Rock music, knee-length skirts and the Reformation are among the things that most Christians have eventually come to terms with. Is gay marriage another one for the list?

So far, the opinions brought forward in this debate have largely fallen into two categories: Those who have no moral or theological issue with gay marriage and want it legalised, and those who think that gay marriage is abhorrent and should remain illegal.

I disagree with both these camps. I do believe the bible when it says that homosexual acts are wrong (1 Timothy 1:8-11). But I do not take issue with gay marriage becoming legal in New Zealand. I would not support it in a referendum, but nor do I believe that civil law is the tool for enforcing a biblical world view. Or to put it the simple way, I believe in the separation of church and state.

Before I proceed on this, let me clear something up straight away. I have said I believe that homosexuality is wrong, but so is lying, stealing and also heterosexual immorality. The church manages to find a place for people who have done all these things and the fuss that is made about homosexuality like it is some kind of extra bad sin is just ridiculous.

Some people have tried calling gay marriage laws "social engineering", a term coined to imply that the government is trying to usher in changes regarding what is and is not morally acceptable. I disagree.

I think that in a democracy, the laws that are passed mirror our society. When the government passes a law that changes the official collective moral opinion of New Zealand it is not engineering a social change, it is merely reflecting one.

The good news from a biblical perspective is that just because the government says something, that does not make it right. The bad news is that when something which is popularly believed to be right is actually wrong, the church has not been doing its job properly.

The mission of the church is to love God, love other people and make disciples (Matthew 22:37-39, Matthew 28:19-20).

The definition of a disciple is someone who follows Jesus, and by association, does what God says, which brings us back to 1 Timothy, which says that homosexuality is wrong.

If the people of New Zealand do not believe that homosexuality is wrong, then the church has not been doing its job and making disciples, which means that we have also been disobeying what God has said.

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There are many factors that have led to the moral position that New Zealand is in today, but to put it simply, the church cannot pass the responsibility for the moral state of our nation to the government.
If it were the government's job, Jesus would have spent all his time on earth teaching Caesar.

As things stand Jesus is never recorded as having met Caesar, but is recorded as having spent ample time teaching ordinary people to love each other and take on the responsibility of helping each other do a better job of following him. To say it the cheesy way: Our souls are saved by JC, not John Key.

If God did not love gay people, he would not have sent Jesus to die for their sins. But we know that Jesus died for everyone's sins (2 Peter 3:9), not just for the sins of straight people. Christians should love gay people with the same love with which God loves them.

And as the church loves God, loves other people and makes disciples, the time will come again where the majority of people in this nation are living according to the bible, and then perhaps the law will be changed again to reflect this. The onus is on us.

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