The “Oh no. Not Again!” Factor in Everyday Conversation
Here are some more points to consider for those seeking a Christian political option in everyday conversation. Of course, it does not need saying that the premier example of “politically correct speech” these days is related to the ongoing, decades-long advocacy of homosexual marriage. The demands for legislation include, as many wise observers have noted, that it is a movement seeking to “re-correct political speech” about marriage so that reference to the male-female exclusive-for-life bond no longer casts aspersions on those same-sex couples wanting their relationship to be viewed as marriage. And hence the movement through various redactions, as to its nomenclature that has now morphed into “marriage equality”. Many are obviously annoyed with this long-drawn-out seemingly unresolved matter. And, I guess, some readers of this blog will sigh and say, “Oh not again!”
What Nurturing Justice has always sought to show, and I hope will continue to demonstrate, is that in “everyday conversation” there are always various discussion routes that one can take to emphasise political principles. Keeping our eye on the command to love God above all and our neighbour as ourselves means that our discussions don’t have to be obsessively oriented to affirm public justice every time we open our mouths after our neighbour asks us to clarify our views.
That being said, let’s engage in a thought experiment. Let’s imagine ourselves in everyday conversation after the proposed change to the definition of lawful marriage has passed the Federal Parliament. Let’s give ourselves the liberty of taking seriously the views of the proponents of this change as they have given their views in the media today or recently.
There is in public reports a continual effort to link advocacy of “marriage equality” to a subsidiary argument. Proponents feel the need to link their rhetoric to a claim that implies such an urgency that the issue needs to be resolved NOW once and for all. That is how they have continued to advocate this revolution for over a decade. That is how they continue to make the claim today:
We have been discussing this for so long and it has been unresolved for so long; let’s get it off the agenda now once and for all and we can get back to what we are supposed to be doing!
Why does this mantra need to be affixed to the claim? It is as if we are being told that the Parliament has been diverted and will be put back on track when they succeed with the legislative change they are demanding. Even so, they fail to tell us exactly what it is that will be changed and what the consequences in terms of public administration will be. The most is usually the “chicken licken option” that the sky will not fall in.
But then to address the question politically instead of sentimentally would mean going back and clarifying what they have been saying and really they present themselves as not really wanting to do that. What is now needed, they say, is to get it off Parliament’s agenda as if the question itself is a hurdle that has to be overcome. And so, they say, this proposed legislation will free Parliament from this pesky and needlessly drawn out debate and, in the words of one articulate Liberal Parliamentarian, get back to considering how Parliament can legislate “to get electricity prices down for ordinary Australians.”
This kind of argument, even if it is framed in terms of the Liberal Party’s now thoroughly discredited respect for voters, ignores the fact that the “political charge” associated with marriage, family, household and friendship will not be turned off simply because Parliament takes this route. But if we take the tired rhetoric (i.e. of Mr Tim Wilson, or of Opposition Leader Mr Bill Shorten) seriously, the question they should be asking their political opponents after the law has been changed is this:
Why do you still consider it a political issue that same-sex marriage is not marriage even now after Parliament has legislated to alter definition of lawful marriage that be enshrined in all legislation? Why do you refuse to accept that the issue is now closed political once and for all?
1. FIRST ANSWER: One answer to that is this: legislation does not close, and never has closed, political debate once and for all. This minor point now helps us identify the implicit statism involved in the marriage equality movement blurred as it might be by a dogma of public sentimentalism. Marriage is not and never has been a department of State. Such ideologues (including current Liberal Parliamentarians) ought to learn from what happened to the Bolshevik abolition of marriage early in the 20th century. Moreover, where do we hear about the distinctive separation of State and Marriage in this “marriage equality” argument. There may well have been an implicit Liberal civil religious be statism in their defence of the previous definition, but what do these “marriage equality” advocates now with the new definition of marriage on the law books (with the marriage institution assumed to be a fundamental human right) intend to do about resisting state totalitarianism?
2. SECOND ANSWER: Can not Parliament make a mistake? Why should those who now believe the current Marriage Act contains a mistaken view of marriage -and hence have maintained their campaign for the recognition of homosexuality as a valid way of life – believe that those who disagree with them are going to be persuaded otherwise simply because the Parliament joins in making the egregious error of the “marriage equality” movement? Why should political errors only ever be made on this matter to have prevented “marriage equality” justice as they demanded it?
Of course a brief answer in terms of Australian law may simply be: consult Parkinson and Aroney for an understanding of the deep ambiguities that are already at work with the administration of Marriage Law across our Commonwealth. Their and it will become readily apparent that the “marriage equality” debate is a charade seeking merely a legislative expression of symbolic flag-waving that will, nevertheless have ongoing [i.e. not “once and for all”] administrative and political consequences at home and abroad.
The statement “once and for all” is rhetorical nonsense. Is it not the implicit view of those who will not rest until the Marriage Act is changed to comply with their latter-day homosexual rights agenda, that they must keep up the argument so that justice be done? Why should they speak as if their opponents on this matter are now to be politically shut out of public debate since the legislation is passed? From where do they derive that view? Or is it that it is they who have actually run out of arguments against a view that they do not know how to comprehensively reject and thus had no idea at all how to argue the case for the previous (now current) Marriage Act definition of marriage in order to show where it was in error? In other words, they really do not know in legal terms what they are arguing against? And as much as they have a deficient jurisprudence, they also do not have comprehensive political grounds for arguing for public justice for all including all households. [This would involve the need to distinguish between same-sex households and same-sex homosexual households – why of same-sex households should homosexuals be given notional privilege of being ascribed marriage status? This a distinction rarely, if ever, emerging in this ideologically shaped debate world-wide.]
3. THIRD ANSWER: When the argument was given back in the 1970s that same-sex, permanent relationships were not defective forms of marriage and should not be evaluated in terms of marriage criteria, such an argument was accepted as valid and homosexuality was decriminalised. But of recent decades in the various phases of this ongoing social movement (homosexual rights > gay-rights > gay-marriage> gay and lesbian rights> same-sex marriage> marriage equality) marriage has no longer been viewed as a male-female bond but that relationship as endorsed by law is interpreted as a potential homophobic institution. Hence marriage needs to be de-homophobised and the way to do so is via changing the definition of lawful marriage in the Marriage Act (a view that implicitly will be nothing but a magical wish in its purported operation) that will then mean changing all manner of other public activities, social welfare programmes, health-care, aged-care, education and schooling. And, of course, the idea that the advocacy of “marriage equality” is based on such a subliminal stereotype (hate speech perhaps?) of what is falsely and gratuitously called called “heterosexual marriage” can never get a proper airing in this environment.
4. FOURTH ANSWER: A Christian political option is, with reference to the definitive teaching of Jesus, committed to His view of marriage. Human identity is revealed to us as male and female created “in the image of God”. The question of “sexual orientation” is a pastoral issue and does not cancel Biblical teaching, nor does it over-ride Jesus’ proscription concerning “sizing up” another image bearer of the Creator – whether in marriage or not – in order to vent one’s covetous desires as a path in violation of the Commandment (Matthew 5:27-28). A Christian political option must involve a Biblically-directed view of how marriage, along with family and household relationships of all kinds, should be respected in public-law.
Yes this discussion I guess will be long with us.
Apologies to all those readers who find it tiresome. Can a Christian political option arise from a Christian reformation of the way in which marriage, family and household and friendship functions as part of “seeking first God’s Kingdom” and His righteousness? Why not? Will not all these other things (including the coherent and humble publicly advocacy of a Christian political option of justice for all) be then granted to us?