Smoke and Mirrors
A gay Christian’s response to the latest controversy surrounding the Australian Christian Lobby. By Dr Stuart Edser.
The storm that has erupted over the Australian Christian Lobby’s Jim Wallace declaring that being gay is more dangerous than smoking is understandable and warranted. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), in its opposition to marriage equality against the flow of public opinion, has shown itself to be completely out of touch with mainstream Australia and its moral sensibilities. This is not to say that what the majority believes is always the right thing, but in the face of strong support for marriage equality by both Christian and non-Christian Australians alike, the ACL pushes itself further into irrelevancy. While it has some strong backing from conservative Christians, most of whom view their faith through the lens of a literal Biblical interpretation, it does not speak for the Christian faith or its adherents in this country.
In short, the ACL is a well-organised but very vocal minority masquerading as the unified voice of Christian conscience. Do not be deceived.
The declaration regarding smoking and gay sexuality is utterly fatuous.
It is also very offensive.
And plain wrong.
Wallace’s profound ignorance of how sexual orientation works is truly staggering. Comparing having a gay sexuality to the self-inflicted damage done by smoking, which is exactly what he said although now he is trying to backtrack and say he has been misrepresented, is almost beyond belief. It is not surprising that Liberal MP Warren Entsch has described Wallace’s words as “stupid, spiteful and disgusting”.
Speaking with the ABC, Entsch said: “When I read this I thought that Jim Wallace must have been hibernating under a rock or in a cave somewhere in the deep, dark depths of the wilderness of Tasmania, maybe on the western coast somewhere, and is suddenly awakened from an absolute sleep from probably 1,000 years ago. He’s probably still walking on his knuckles. I find it highly offensive.”
Wow, and that’s from a Liberal!
Wallace’s words are ignorant, vicious and dripping in poison. The fact that he holds himself and his organisation out to be the holders of God’s truth and love is breathtakingly ironic, totally aversive and just plain embarrassing for most people of Christian faith.
Twenty-four hours later, he goes on television and states that it is gay activists who are filled with hate and are vicious; not him. It is interesting to see this ploy used. Attack with barbarous words (constantly), then try to blame your opponent for defending himself, by saying he is the barbarous one and you are the true victim. Poor hard done-by Jim. After that feat of mental gymnastics, he continues the interview by saying that in Massachusetts they have the audacity to teach in sex ed class that gay sexuality is – wait for it – normal and healthy. Jim is horrified.
As for the Prime Minister agreeing to speak at the ACL Conference – this was a mistake in my view. It should never have been agreed to. Her presence would have lent credence and gravitas to a group of backward-looking conservatives who do not represent Christian Australia and whose sole purpose of late is to deny gay people an equality in our society.
I continue to be disappointed in the Prime Minister with regard to her treatment of gay people. It is becoming a cliché I think, but I truly do believe she is on the wrong side of history. I know straight stalwart Labor supporters who have abandoned her while she persists in her opposition to marriage equality.
The Prime Miniter’s statement at withdrawing from the ACL conference included these words: “Although everyone is entitled to their own view, these statements reiterated again today on behalf of ACL are totally unacceptable”.
Sorry Prime Minister, but no-one is entitled to say this stuff whether it is their opinion or not. If it’s wrong and peddles hate, it’s wrong and they’re not entitled to say it. Imagine some fool saying, “Black people are inferior to white people”. We wouldn’t put up with such calumny for a moment because it’s wrong, both literally and morally. The same goes with Wallace and his boorish views. The PM needs to remember that Labor is supposed to be the socially progressive party.
The Christian Church in Australia is having the conversation about gay sexuality. It is looking at these issues and wrestling with the ramifications for theology, liturgy and pastoral care. This is painful for the church but it is a welcome move. And one that is long-time coming, I would add.
I continue to urge the leaders of the churches to continue this work for the betterment of everyone, to keep the conversation going. We want a nobler society, one where all are valued and respected and cared for. When it is at its best, Christianity can contribute to this force for good.
Despite the ilk of the ACL, I continue to live in hope.
[Pictured] The Australian Christian Lobby's Jim Wallace clarifies his remarks in an interview with the ABC.