Mikael Hattingh

About Mikael Hattingh

Mikael Hattingh is a writer, illustrator and filmmaker living in Melbourne. He finds his work repeatedly concerned with issues of the home, childhood, mental health and the crisis of masculinity, and he explores these themes with honesty and black humour. While on his way to the lush and promising world that is the Australian film industry, another favourite thing for him to do is not go to parties.

What would Jesus do…about same-sex marriage?

As a Christian living in a secular society, when it comes to faith I believe my only concern should be sharing the love of Jesus.

To be preoccupied with any other issue regarding morality or differing life perspectives is both beside the point and contradictory to that very message of love I’m trying to share. 

This is precisely where I feel the majority of Christians get confused. When it comes to relevant societal concerns, the groundless fixation with what is right or wrong can be offensive and destructive, and in light of what the scriptures call Christians to do, it is ultimately inexcusable.

Perhaps this subjective moral nit picking is most destructive when it comes to same-sex marriage.

So how should I respond, as a Christian, now that we’ve witnessed Australia’s first same-sex marriages in Canberra, despite it being struck down by an Abbott Government action in the High Court?

Regardless of how doggedly the Australian Christian Lobby takes up the fight on marriage equality, I stand against them in favour of those being oppressed.

I don’t believe the majority of Christians intend to be ‘hurtful’. I do understand what the Christian concerns are. But I don’t think they matter. Because when a group stands in the way of what is meant only to be a private, loving union between two people, it is most definitely hurtful, and already this doesn’t reflect the nature of Jesus.

If anything, this is bullying.

John 10:10 does not say that Jesus came to ‘steal, kill and destroy’.

If you believe in Jesus, you believe that God has given humanity free will. Free will, while not a ticket to do whatever you please, points directly to the greater gift that God has given us in Jesus – forgiveness and acceptance.

Whether or not that sounds like jibber-jabber to you, it doesn’t matter. I’m not here to preach. The point I want to raise is that Christians need to reflect this model of free will in the way they handle subjects that don’t comply with their chosen faith.

So when it comes to the debate over whether or not gay people should marry, the bottom line is I think the debate shouldn’t be happening at all.

Gay people should be allowed to marry. Period.

Think of the words that Christians have, in part, earned for themselves throughout this debate. ‘Hateful’ comes to mind. Bigoted. Intolerant. Closed-minded. Nuisances. When looking at biblical definitions of love, naturally none of these descriptors feature.

‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.’  (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5)

If this abject debate regarding gay marriage has proven anything it’s that Christians are demanding their own way: expecting those outside the faith to agree and comply with an incomprehensible concept. It has caused nothing but tension and bitterness,  and played a critical role in misrepresenting Jesus, stirring not love but hatred, which is then also hurtful not only to those being oppressed but to the very cause of Jesus.

Could it be that Christians such as myself need to face the idea that we have focused on the wrong thing? That we have essentially lost focus?

Absolutely.

If a Christian’s true desire is for another human being to find their own relationship with Jesus, whether they be gay or straight or somewhere in between, then we need to first present Jesus accurately.

Jesus’ concern was never with what you did, who you were, or who you were sleeping with. Its right there in the scriptures that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us. In fact Jesus’ entire mission was to tear down ‘the law’ and stand in its place so that all people could be connected with God.

So let’s quickly talk about ‘the law’.

Within the Christian faith, the understanding is that the relationship with Jesus takes the place of the impossible task of completely obeying ‘the law’, ie., being perfect. But since Jesus came into the world, kowtowing to the law is no longer the goal – rather it is simply to love Him and love people.

‘Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.’ (Romans 13: 8-10)

If Jesus himself covers the law of God, why do Christians insist on maintaining the law of man?

The walls Christians have helped build to prevent same-sex people from the human right to marry needs to be torn down. That same wall stands between Jesus’ message and the rest of the world. The conversation regarding any conflict of faith or morality needs to be reopened on a personal level between friends and families who respect one another (if and only when it is welcome), and we must recognise that ‘same-sex marriage’ is not up for debate on a national or global scale between ideologies, religions, abstractions or politicians.

What the Christian presence within politics has done is bastardized the face of Jesus. It has locked the doors of the church. By raising these walls Christians have tightly bundled together in panic-stricken fear and excluded everybody from the message of love and acceptance.

I think this is wrong.

‘Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.’ (1 John 2: 9 – 11)

We are given free will, therefore we are entrusted with free will, but with it, it’s my belief that this debate will continue to cause nothing but harm.

Whether my beliefs make me ‘progressive’ in someone’s eyes or simply a diligent follower of Jesus’ example of love, I don’t really care.

I know which one of the two I want to be and I hope to see more people in the Christian community re-evaluate their stance on same-sex marriage.

Also see Jordan King Lacroix’s earlier piece, Where the Bloody Hell is Australia on Same-Sex Marriage?

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