An open letter to Australia’s pastors and church leaders

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An open letter to Australia’s pastors and church leaders

As a regular preacher in churches across Australia I was once considered a leader within the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Evangelical worlds. Many of you were my peers, some sat under my ministry, I taught some of you in Bible college, some were my friends and thankfully some still are.

And for years now I have been a leader within the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) community.

Being so intimately involved in these two worlds gives me a rather unique perspective on the long standing debate about marriage equality and the upcoming postal survey. I sincerely hope that you take the time to consider what I am sharing with you.

I can’t recall a time when Christian churches have been given the opportunity to be so visible in Australia. That increased visibility also brings with it an unsolicited evaluation by Australian society. Possibly the next couple of months are destined to have a more extensive impact on your witness than realised.

I know you will be pressured by certain political groups to speak out, stand together, rally the troops, etc., etc., but I’d like you to consider a few things first.

Thankfully Australia, along with the western world, has progressed in its understanding of sexual orientation. We are more informed today. My earliest recollections as teenager, coming to an awareness of my homosexuality in the 1960’s, was frightening. Realising I was gay meant possible imprisonment or treatments to cure me which were even more horrifying. Secrecy, closets and ghettos were once the gay persons’ only means of safety and survival.

Fast forward to 2017, and most Australians have an openly gay son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, work colleague or even Mum or Dad.  LGBTI  people make their contributions in our society openly. Like straight people, we teach your children, nurse your dying, heal your sick, police your communities, prepare your meals and even serve in the military.

Yep…..we’re everywhere. In the 1970’s preachers predicted this. ‘Homosexuality is on the increase’ they constantly warned alarmingly. Their concern was misplaced. Homosexuality was not on the increase.  It was just that gay and lesbian, people are years of oppression and discrimination, found the courage to overcome fear and step out of the closet. I know that some still wish we’d stayed there but the closet is an unhealthy existence psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. Honestly, having lived half my life there, I wouldn’t wish the closeted life on my worst enemy.

In 2017, members of your churches have children, relatives, friends and work colleagues who are LGBTI, so when they are spoken against it has far more reaching consequences than speaking directly against a minority: you speak against and condemn the people they know and love.

Sadly, there has been a great deal of fear mongering from the staunch and vocal opponents of same sex marriage. This is not new. There are numerous examples of this happening in the past; the Anita Bryant, ‘Save our Children’ campaign in the 1970’s, being just one. I’m currently researching this era and looking back on this historically demonstrates how misplaced and out of touch this approach was.

I have no problem with people having a different opinion or belief to me but sensationalising or fear mongering to put a case across is not only unethical but also breaks the OT commandment to ‘not bear false witness against our neighbour.’ Lies and fabrications about our community, our lives and our relationships abound within religious conservatism. These are cruel and hurtful.

The most common arguments put forward have been:

  1. The fabric of society will be torn apart

Sounds frightening? But will it really? Let’s face it, gay and lesbian couples have existed for decades and seem to live their lives with little impact on their neighbours and communities; except people realising how ‘normal’ they are. All that is being asked is that these relationships be legally recognised. I doubt there’ll be ‘wide-reaching ramifications’ as has been suggested. It hasn’t happened in other countries where same sex marriage has been legalised.

  1. Ministers will be forced to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Ministers have always had the freedom to choose who they marry. It is in the Australian Marriage Act and there has never been any intention to change that. And if you stop and think about, what gay couple would ask someone philosophically opposed to their relationship to perform such a personal and important ceremony. It’s a completely unfounded and irrational belief.

  1. We’ll lose our religious freedoms

Freedom of speech is a foundation of our democracy and is protected under the law.  Marriage equality is not going to change that. As Pastor Brian Houston said recently ‘Hillsong Church already functions well and without impediment in other parts of the world where same sex marriage is legal, and as long as we are not forced through legislation to compromise our biblical convictions, we can quite comfortably continue to function whatever the outcome of this plebiscite.’ I wrote a piece a couple of years ago about religious freedom  and  if you’d like to read it, you can do so HERE.

  1. What next after gay marriage? Incest? Bestiality?

This slippery slope argument really doesn’t warrant a response. It’s ridiculous and offensive and probably the worst example of scare tactics.

Not engaging in fear mongering or sensationalising will be better for us all. Remember that we will have to live with the consequences for years to come.

Things best not to say.

In Australia, the marriage equality discussion has existed for over a decade now. Previously, the average Australian might not have been aware of what the Bible contains, but the discussions and quoting bible verses have made people more informed. Memes about this have gone viral. Simplistic statements about marriage have been eroded by people’s increased knowledge of the bible. Christians opposed to same sex marriage have often used two arguments.

  1. I believe God’s word is clear about marriage – one man, one woman.

When a person says “I believe God’s word is clear about marriage” it makes them look silly. Most people these days are aware of the numerous forms of clearly defined marriages spoken of in scripture. Marrying slaves, a relatives widow, having many wives, a rapist marrying his virgin victim are all mentioned. Christians in the New Testament church had more than one wife.

  1. Traditional marriage has been the bedrock of our society.

Once again, most people are educated enough to know this is not  true. For many years interracial, interfaith marriages were illegal. In Australia, a white Australian had to get permission to marry an indigineous Australian.  Christians at one stage were not allowed to remarry after divorce. Going back further, marriage was essentially about property and ownership (the man owned the woman). Thankfully our understanding of the term ‘marriage’ has evolved over the years and to use the term ‘traditional marriage’ undermines credibility.

So back to my point my friends. At the moment, possibley more than ever, Australia’s eyes are upon you; the church. How will you respond?

If you stand publicly against marriage equality as a church or denomination I think you are making a grave mistake that will impact your witness for years to come.  Essentially you are saying to every gay and lesbian person you are not welcome in our church. ‘Hold on’ you might say, ‘we are not saying that’. Of course it is not being said in those words but this is the way it will undoubtedly be perceived. Not just by every LGBTI person but by every relative, friend or work colleague as well.

You don’t have to be pressured to direct your congregations on how to vote. They are intelligent enough to make up their own minds. And it’s okay to not vote at all.

Personally, I think the vote will come out in favour of same sex marriage, as all the polls seem to indicate, but if churches mishandle this situation they could be paying a high price for years to come.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John after He so beautifully gave us an example of servanthood by washing the disciples feet ‘they will know you are my disciples by your love’.

I pray that at this time, Christian pastors and leaders will rise to the occasion and show love, compassion and wisdom.

As always, I am willing to engage in a respectful dialogue and if I can answer any questions you may have I’m more than happy to do that.

Anthony Venn-Brown

Founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International

Author of A Life of Unlearning

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By | 2017-09-09T01:08:38+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Categories: Church, Marriage Equality|33 Comments

About the Author:

Anthony Venn-Brown

Anthony Venn-Brown is one of Australia’s foremost commentators on faith and sexuality. His best-selling autobiography ‘A Life of Unlearning – a preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith‘, detailing his journey from married, high profile preacher in Australia’s growing mega-churches, such as Hillsong, to living as an openly gay man, has impacted 1,000’s globally. Anthony was the co-founder and former leader of Freedom 2 b[e], Australia’s largest network of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people from Christian backgrounds. He is also an educator and consultant on LGBT/faith issues and leader in deconstructing the ‘ex-gay’ myth. Anthony is the founder and CEO of Ambassadors & Bridge Builders International and has been twice voted ‘One of the 25 Most Influential Gay and Lesbian Australians’ (2007 & 2009).

33 Comments

  1. Peter Edson August 22, 2017 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Jesus affirms 3 truths in the Scriptures: Heterosexual gender is a Divine Creation, heterosexual marriage is a Divine Institution & heterosexual fidelity is the Divine Intention. Matt 19:5, Mark 10:7, Gen 1:27 & 2:24. To those who don’t follow Jesus through His indwelling Spirit – they should be free to choose whatever relationship they desire. Why not have a Civil Ceremony to publicly proclaim love & commitment to one another? Using the word “marriage” outside of God’s design is for Christ followers the reason many of us will vote “no”. You & I have the right to stand firm on the truth we hold dear. We don’t have the right to force our ideas on one another. Unfortunately there are extremists in many camps who are spoiling the possibility of reasonable debate between sincere people. For a Christ follower God’s unique love gives identity. Sexuality is sacred as is the race you were born into. Identity is eternal. Sexuality is temporal.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown August 23, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comment Peter….this below might help with understanding about what is happening now in Australia

      WHAT IS LEGAL MARRIAGE IN AUSTRALIA?

      • All legal marriages in Australia are under the Commonwealth Marriage Act since 1961.

      • It is called “Marriage” because it is under the Marriage Act.

      • The Marriage Act does not mention God, Jesus, any religion or religious deity.

      • The Marriage Act does not mention love or the ability to have children.

      • The Marriage Act is a completely secular document open to use by all beliefs.

      • The majority of marriages in Australia are secular and solemnised by Celebrants.

      • Commonwealth Celebrants are authorised by the Attorney-General, not ordained.

      • At the heart of a legal marriage is a simple sworn and witnessed Statutory Declaration.

      • Religious Marriages are simply Civil marriages officiated by religious celebrants.

      • Legal marriage immediately grants rights like kinship, property and benefits.

      • Gender was never part of The Marriage Act until Parliament amended it in 2004.

      WHY DO AUSTRALIAN SAME-SEX COUPLES WANT LEGAL MARRIAGE?

      • A legal marriage offers equal protection under the law.

      • With a legal marriage, you are immediately the next-of-kin.

      • A legal marriage offers all the citizenship rights of The Constitution.

      • A legal marriage is immediately valid, unlike defacto rights.

      • A legal marriage offers immediate joint property and inheritance rights.

      • A legal marriage offers undeniable rights to benefits and insurance.

      • The rights of a partner in a legal marriage cannot be denied by blood relations.

      • A legal marriage is a sworn, binding contract that can only be broken in a court of Family Law

    • David Carpenter August 29, 2017 at 6:33 am - Reply

      Hi Peter Edson,
      I have gone back to find any reference in the bible that states that marriage is a divine institution. I get that the scripture is clear that he made humans male and female, I get that Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of the day for there hard hearted approach to divorce and thereby inferred that when two people have created the covenant before God that they would be married it was not for man to separate.
      But no where does it state that the social rite of marriage that has been carried out in myriad cultures for millennia is the sole domain of the Hebrew or Christian cultures.
      In a non Christian society there have been marriages performed and accepted that were outside the church or synagogue, and I wont go into the strange variations of these ceremonies, that although not agreed as acceptable in the Christian way, they still existed.

  2. Rebecca August 22, 2017 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Thanks so much for writing this letter Anthony, I really do find you quite inspiring.

    Next time, please don’t erase the bisexual and trans people who are also suffering as this so-called “respectful dialogue” is hammering our communities too.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown August 23, 2017 at 2:25 am - Reply

      thanks Rebecca….I used the acronym several times…..and now made a couple of adjustements. I’m with you. Considering the audience this letter is directed to I know most are not as informed about diversity as we are.

  3. Ian wood August 23, 2017 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Excellent article.
    I hope tens of thousands of Christians read this & become more aware.

  4. Joan Anderson August 23, 2017 at 4:13 am - Reply

    I read it Ian Wood and I am aware ,I still believe in the God ordained Marriage relationship between a man and a woman

  5. Craig Maynard August 23, 2017 at 9:42 pm - Reply

    Thank you Anthony … I think a lot of people really don’t understand and are being fed loads and loads of lies to create fear. Doesn’t the bible say “fear not for I am you God” kind of thing? The government system is not founded on church or is it part of religion.

    So churches have this fear that marriage equality will affect their church where infact it has nothing to do with church. Thank you for sharing that in your letter.

    Thank you for bringing up their lack of understanding in light of the debate around LGBTIQ community and it will be interesting to see what will happen.

    Also I wish Church will come to an understanding that I’m not a monster and being gay isn’t a choice, it’s who I am and yes I can be a Christian and I know what Jesus did for me since I was 19. I’m 50 now and in a relationship with my partner of 23 years. The only thing I like about the marriage is that I can wake up in the morning and look at him in the face and say good morning husband and that we are protected and have equal rights so in event of emergency such as hospital I can be with him, our legal affairs and our property are equality protected.

    Thank you Anothiny for getting this to the churches and yes there is a place for Us in society and a yes is really the only thing that matters and we all know it will happen. I just wish the churches were a bit more honest to their members and not swayed by the vileness from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) who misconceived and manipulated information to confuse others into saying No to Marriage Equality.

    I hope they take your message seriously in light of what this marriage quality is really about.

    Sincerely and yours in Christ.

    Craig Maynard

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown August 23, 2017 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Thank you Craig for your words of insight and encouragement as a Christian man.

  6. David Carpenter August 24, 2017 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I am perplexed why Peter Edson would say that sexuality is sacred and then concluded with the statement that it is temporal.
    In my mind it is only the fact that humans are created in the creators image that is sacred, nothing else, no ceremony, no behaviour, no religious icons, no thing! Just people.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown August 25, 2017 at 2:29 am - Reply

      It was quite an spiritually etherial response wasn’t it.

    • Sharon August 31, 2017 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Exactly, David Carpenter. Often Christians take ‘things’ – physical, ceremonial, whatever, and make them into idols. I do think this has happened with marriage and their are ramifications beyond SSM. Single people of any orientation are also sidelined.

    • Ariela September 2, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Sexuality is sacred because sex is how new human beings are brought into existence.

  7. clare August 24, 2017 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Hi Anthony, great article and thanks for yoir honesty. You do ask a question that I want to propose a possible answeroto though – what gay couple would ask someone philosophically opposed to them to perform such a personal ceremony? How about an activist couple who wants to make a point and hurt those who have voted against their union? We have read about cases overseas where govts want to force churches to marry same sex couples , businesses being sued because couples approached people they knew might be reluctant rather than keen… discrimination goes both ways. There are unpleasant Christian lobby groups and there are unpleasant LGBT groups and both seem to have their own agendas that people like me, who are happy to admit being torn by the whole debate, simply do not trust.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown August 25, 2017 at 2:51 am - Reply

      Hi Clare…..thanks for your question. It is totally valid and one I’m sure others may ask as well.

      Having worked in this space between the church and the LGBTI community for many years now one thing is pretty clear. Both of us have family members we’d rather not have. Some are extreme and some seen downright whacko. It’s difficult to divorce ourselves from them completely. Sadly people think they represent the entire community or church but we know they don’t.

      I have followed many of the cases that you mention and are often used or examples of what will happen if marriage equality becomes law. From the ones I have dug deeper on it seems that these were always genuine cases of discrimination and humiliation. When I read about them in some Christian publications though, they are not presented that way. Once again more of that sensationalism and fear mongering.

      I have written about religious freedom before if you’d care to have a read.

      http://www.abbi.org.au/2015/04/religious-freedom/

      I hope that helps.

  8. Peter Edson August 25, 2017 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Hi David. Thanks for your response. The Scriptures make it clear that there will be no marriage in Heaven. So relationships as we know them on earth will be transformed by God so we can enjoy a redeemed earth & Heaven in gratitude to God forever. Thus sexuality as we experience it on earth will cease to exist. The Love of God & the inclusion of all Christ followers to share in Father, Son & Holy Spirit will go on for eternity. Do hope that helps to explain the temporal & the eternal from a Biblical perspective. Blessings to you David.

    • David Carpenter August 29, 2017 at 6:41 am - Reply

      Hi Peter,

      I appreciate and understand where your position comes from, but will have to agree to disagree on the point that anything temporal is sacred, I am not yet aware of what will be existentially, in regards to gender or sexuality in the next phase, I suspect sex will not be a thing.

  9. Anthony Venn-Brown
    Anthony Venn-Brown August 29, 2017 at 3:45 am - Reply

    “I heard of a pastor who, last weekend, “implored” his people to vote “no.” It’s my opinion that this pastor is going beyond his authority in doing this. I never tell people what I vote, and neither do I instruct them on how to vote. The church is beyond politics. Our message and mandate are from another place; we are citizens of heaven and called to be ambassadors who bring heaven to earth. In any church, there will be people of various political persuasions and who have differing views on ethical issues.” Pastor Rob Buckingham Bayside Church Melbourne http://baysidechurch.com.au/the-postal-vote-on-same-sex-marriage-some-considerations/

  10. Vilma September 2, 2017 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    How would you respond to Gay people who admits a genuine transformation from living a homosexual lifestyle to heterosexual one?
    I also have a friend that says marriage equality is not a fight for love but of privileges?

  11. Peter Edson September 8, 2017 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Hi David
    Thanks for checking out the Scriptures. I would have thought that Genesis 2:24-25 clearly states the Divine source of marriage regardless of how it manifests in other cultures. God being unlimited by time, space or matter is, was & always has been. So He then is author of the marriage institution according to the Genesis design. So to me it’s about first principles. What other cultures have done with this is their choice. However for the Christ follower this would be an immutable truth & the institution would be shaped from this.Many people prefer to base their lives on experience rather than truth. Experiences change. God’s truth doesn’t. Cheers, Peter

    • David Carpenter September 8, 2017 at 2:57 am - Reply

      Hi Peter,
      I see your point, but unfortunately the scripture you use does not mention marriage. If you are relying on the use of the word wife, that is a bit of a stretch as the original word actually just means female.

      Unfortunately your use of the term immutable truth undoes your next point, that “some people prefer to base their lives on experience rather than truth”, to be immutable the truth must be either experienced or observed. You cant just say it is immutable.

      I am sure that if you dig a little deeper than just the rhetoric and dogma of modern evangelicalism you can find better truths to build your foundations on, such the Gods unlimited love and grace, the complete work that Christ did by laying down his life and taking it back again and so on, these are the important things.

      I really don’t think you want to go to the standard of first principles, there are cultures millennia older that the Genesis narrative that would cause some difficulty with that position.

      I agree that God’s truth doesn’t change, but our revelation sure has over the last couple of thousand years, so what we have called truth has changed, and as the scholars continue to dig and reveal, we learn more.
      D

  12. Donald Chalmers September 10, 2017 at 7:12 am - Reply

    Custom or no Custom, Religion or no Religion, Tradition or no Tradition, Prostration or no Prostration, Marriage or no Marriage, Prayer or no Prayer, Prophet or no Prophet, Messenger or no Messenger, Fasting or no Fasting, Recitation or no Recitation, Dress-code or no Dress-code, Sharia or no Sharia, Kosher or no Kosher, Halal or no Halal, Forbidden or not Forbidden, Allowed or not Allowed, Circumcision or no Circumcision, Blood or no Blood (etc); if we have no love, then we are nothing, and no thing can save us, since there is no hate, or fear in LOVE (GOD). We are to help, encourage, comfort, nurture and support each other; we should treat others with the respect with which they would like to be given, and then we shall not do to others that which we would hate for our own selves.

    MARRIAGE is nothing if it is not grounded in mutually desired and positively reciprocated equal interaction, which builds up community.

    EQUALITY does not imply one over or above an other, as our symbol for “equals” (as in ” = “) perhaps implies, but rather that we stand “side by side”, and work “hand in hand” to create a loving environment for all people in community. For us to truly “see” this, unfettered by dogma and doctrine, all we need to do is to change our “point of view”, or perspective, by 90 degrees, or by π/2 radians to see “equality” as ” ll ” rather than as ” = “.

    This is the way in which we “share the load” or burden of living equally among people. Tangential or right-angled viewing, like navel-gazing, “cuts the crap” and goes to the “heart” or “core” of “Good God Living and Loving”.

    LOVE is the immutable foundation on which to build anything which is of enduring worth. “Loving-Kindness” is the salve for all wounds of the body and soul. Loving-kindness is the first attribute of one who loves both “God” and Neighbour, as “Self”. It is upon this precious golden foundation that all loving and tender relationships are based. LOVE at its deepest level is an act of service. Love is love. And those who love, know “God”.

    We are to be kind, even to our animals, insofar as we can help it.

    There is NO COMPULSION in Religion. We are to “Speak of GOODNESS to People”, and the rest will surely follow….

  13. Matt Berry September 10, 2017 at 7:18 am - Reply

    Hi David

    I am confused by your response to Peter. You mention Gen 2:24-25 doesn’t mention marriage, but Jesus quoted it specifically in a conversation about marriage in Mark 10. Are you saying Jesus misunderstood the scripture?

  14. Carolyn Gake September 12, 2017 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Tony! Wow! I remember how your wife and family were an inspiration! The Word of our Almighty Creator and God will NEVER change NOR will it pass away! The word of man will pass away!! No matter how you choose to present The Word to your followers, each one of you will stand before His Presence and give an account as to whether you received Jesus Christ as your Saviour and LORD. As a professed preacher and now a professed interrupture of The Word of God you have set yourself up to be an influence any many. Yoy are responsable for teaching people this GS that will affect their ETERNAL lives……I hope anyone who really wants to know the Truth will search The Scriptures for themselves with an open heart rather than be influenced by error that will ultimately bring destruction to them.

    • Anthony Venn-Brown
      Anthony Venn-Brown September 13, 2017 at 1:19 am - Reply

      thanks Carolyn for your message and concern. It is for the very reasons you’ve highlighted. my life is dedicated to this cause. “The enemy is not individuals, churches, ‘ex-gay’ organisations or political parties; the enemy is ignorance. We overcome by focusing on changing the latter not attacking the former. Now these three things abide. Naivety, self-deception and wilful ignorance. But the greatest of this is wilful ignorance.”

    • Donald Chalmers September 13, 2017 at 4:15 am - Reply

      Dear Carolyn and readers, I know that I have said it before (above), but it cannot hurt to say it again::

      ” LOVE is the immutable foundation on which to build anything which is of enduring worth. “Loving-Kindness” is the salve for all wounds of the body and soul. Loving-kindness is the first attribute of one who loves both “God” and Neighbour, as “Self”. It is upon this precious golden foundation that all loving and tender relationships are based. LOVE at its deepest level is an act of service. Love is love. And those who love, know “God”.

      ” We are to be kind, even to our animals, insofar as we can help it.

      ” There is NO COMPULSION in Religion. We are to “Speak of GOODNESS to People”, and the rest will surely follow….

      We can read in the Old Testaments First Book of Kings, 3.5-14 and the Second book of Chronicles 1.7-11 that God was so pleased with Solomon for asking only for wisdom and knowledge, so that he could rule well, that God also granted him more wealth, treasure, and fame, than any king has ever had before, or will ever have again.

      Such wisdom did not make Solomon wise enough, however to limit his wives to only one, or even a few (but 700 wives and 300 concubines, according to 1 Kings 11.3). But at life’s end, he reflected upon his mistakes, and no doubt, of all the trouble 1000 jealous women brought…, for…. (even) He could not understand the ways of God, who controls human destiny (though he understood more than many, many).

      As old men often will, Solomon wonders if life was worth the living. Yet, in spite of this, he advised people to work hard, and to enjoy the gifts of God as much and as long as they could.

      His questions are still just as real to us today, 3000 years later. We must all ponder on these questions if we are to lead a worthwhile and meaningful life, to be remembered with gratitude by those we leave behind to take our place.

      So i urge readers to take a look at this common-sense, centrally placed, important, but most neglected book of the Bible, which concludes with the words “These words are like the sharp sticks that shepherds use to guide sheep, and are as lasting as firmly driven nails. They have been given by God, the one Shepherd of us all.”

      Readers may view my summary of Solomon’s WISDOM at the “ECCLESIASTES ENCAPSULATED” section of my wound-wisdom website at http://www.wound-wisdom.tk (etc). Please let me know if i have missed any salient point.

  15. Donald Chalmers September 13, 2017 at 5:26 am - Reply

    How can we have missed it ? Here is my transcription from Proverbs, Chapter 8.In PRAISE OF WISDOM, with some slight amendments, to render the text “UNIVERSAL”:

    ” Listen! Wisdom is calling out. Reason is making herself heard. On the hilltops near the road and at the crossroads she stands.

    ” At the entrance to the city, besides the gates, she calls:
    I appeal to you, people of the earth, I call to EVERYONE on earth.
    Are you immature? Learn to be Mature.
    Are you foolish? Learn to have sense.

    ” Listen to my excellent words; all that I tell you is right.
    What I say is the truth; lies are hateful to me.
    Everything I say is true; nothing is false or misleading.
    To the one with insight, it is all clear; to the well informed it is all plain.
    Choose my instruction instead of silver; choose knowledge rather than the finest gold.

    “ I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels; nothing you want can compare with me.
    I am Wisdom, and I have insight; I have knowledge and sound judgement.

    ” To honour the Earth Creator is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil ways and false words.
    I make plans and carry them out. I have understanding, and I am strong.
    I love those who love me; whoever looks for me can find me.
    I have wisdom and honour to give, content and contentment.
    What you get from me is better than the finest gold, better than the purest silver.
    I walk the way of righteousness;
    I follow the paths of justice, giving content to those who love me, filling their minds with treasures.

    “ Our Creator created me (reason) first of all, long ago.
    I was made in the very beginning, at the first, before the world began.
    I was borne before the oceans, when there were no springs of water.
    I was born before the mountains, before the hills were set in place, before the earth and it’s landscape or even the first handful of soil was created.
    I was there when the sky was set in place, and the horizon was stretched across the ocean, when the clouds formed in the sky, tides formed, and the seas rose.
    I was there at the laying of the earth’s foundations, like an architect, and was happy with the world and pleased with humankind.

    “ Now everyone, listen to me, do as I say, and you will be happy –
    Listen to what you are taught. Be wise; do not neglect it.
    The one who listens to me will be happy, as will be the one who stays at my door, and does not stray.
    The one who finds me finds life, and shall be pleased.
    The one who does not find me hurts themselves; anyone who hates me loves death.”

    And a Quotation from Proverbs 9:9-13 (ignoring the sexism), regarding Stupidity:

    ” Anything you say to a wise person will make them wiser. Whatever you tell a righteous person will add to their knowledge.

    ” To be wise you must first have reason. If you have reason and respect, you have understanding. Wisdom will add years to your life. You are the one who will profit if you have wisdom, and if you reject it, you are the one who will suffer.

    ” Stupidity is loud and ignorant.

  16. Donald Chalmers September 13, 2017 at 6:51 am - Reply

    WISDOM has many homes, is non denominational, and bridges any difference between all cultures, peoples, colours, religions, and forms of governance – atheistic, or otherwise. Wisdom is always appreciated, is based on common sense, and is not the preserve of theologians or an educated class.

    Prayer is nothing if it is not good thought, backed up by kindly action. I invite readers to pray with me (a piper too) as follows:

    Household HOPE

    Let all who enter this Home,
    Find Peace and Harmony
    In their Hearts, and Minds,
    Through Forgiveness and Generosity,
    Empathy and Compassion, so that with
    Courage, Wisdom, and Stamina,
    They shall find Happiness, through
    Truth, Fulfilment and Fruitfulness.
    We Hope for these Benefits through
    The Words and Actions of Ourselves, and Others.
    Kind Action ! Amen and Ameen, etc etc !

    With much Wisdom, found from an honest appraisal of the history of our own mistakes and failures, Peace and Harmony can be Ours, too ! We should ” Do what is just (equal), show constant love, and live humbly with nature, each other, and all who crawl, walk, swim, fly, ride, drive or burrow, on this, our only earth home.

    NB: The quote at the bottom of my “Household Prayer” or “Good Hope” is taken and extended from Micah 6:8.

  17. Jo November 8, 2017 at 1:20 am - Reply

    Thankyou for your unique insight Anthony and it’s also been insightful reading all the various comments.

    I wonder what would happen if we all realised as individual humans and no matter what sexual orientation that we all stand on even ground as fallen sinners saved by a gracious God. We are all condemned apart from receiving His forgiveness in Christ. Our salvation thereafter is coupled with repentance and how that looks is a lifelong journey between the individual and the Holy Spirit (if we allow Him). It should also be pointed out that the biblical role of marriage is not just meant to be the one man/one woman to make kids argument but it is a depiction of Christ’s covanent relationship with the Chruch as bridegroom to His bride. God is a covenant keeping God and there are distinct callings a husband and wife have together to display Gods unique and beautiful covenant love to the world. As fallen beings we don’t always get it right but that is the intent of the husband/wife marriage design. “Love and commitment” alone can be done with anyone and anything and is admirable too… but there is something that is unique when the Lordship of Christ is in the picture.

    I agree the church has hurt many and has been ignorant in many ways. We do need more education and understanding. I’ve been guilty of it in my zealous youth and am repentant and am seeking more understanding. I’ve lost a dear relationship through misunderstandings and have asked for forgiveness for the ways I unknowingly made her feel unaccepted etc when she became quite spiteful and proud (but honestly her “I don’t need you all” attitude to all of her family who loved her was quite awful at the time!) I still pray for reconciliation but she’s still bitter and unwilling.

    The heterosexual un/married couple with kids who deny that Christ came for their salvation is not morally superior than a homosexual couple who are genuinely seeking to please God in their lives…hello Pharisee and tax collector situation (Luke 18:10) however that being said, sexual immorality of any kind impacts us all on a much deeper level than anything else in Gods sight (1Corinthians 6:18). But God still can redeem and restore those that come to Him with life’s messes.

    A true Christ follower is called a disciple (which involves laying down our ‘self’ and taking up our cross to follow Him-Matthew 16:4) and we are called to make disciples, not mere outward appearances (Matthew 28:29). We are also called to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8) and fruit speaks for itself.

    There is a cost to follow Him…and for some it’s harder than others… but having Jesus Himself is worth it. Only He can completely satisfy the holes in our hearts. Not a spouse, not kids, not any relationship, thing or role. It’s a journey everyone is on and we all need to be more gracious, empathetic and humble toward each other. That’s when the love of Jesus really shines through!

  18. Donald Chalmers November 8, 2017 at 4:31 am - Reply

    Any one who watched as I did the “Insight” program on SBS TV last night could not help be moved by the dilemma intersex children pose to their parents. Fortunately we can now watch this again at our leisure at https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/1080523843652/Insight .

    There can be no doubt that the outer envelope of the body is only one expression of it, and hides the complexity “inside”. It should come as no surprise to us that, in the a – z of human sexuality, that there are asexuals (those who have no desire or the ability to replicate themselves, bi-sexuals, hetero and homo sexuals, intersex (those who are genitally ambiguous), transgender (those whose brain feels like it is in the wrong body) etc etc.

    After all, each one of us is capable of being either brilliant or stupid; we all have “inside” the equipment to excel or not. And a lot of that is up to “luck” – being born into a good family, one wealthy enough to educate us. But if we are born into a family that loves us, it won’t matter if we are the black sheep of the family. The love will still be there, and the person honoured.

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