When it comes to same-sex marriage, play the issue not the person

[Originally submitted to ABC news 18/8/2017]

Peter Ellerton makes an excellent point, and yet seems to miss the mark, in his well-reasoned article “When it comes to same-sex marriage, not all views deserve respect” (ABC News, 17 Aug).

He states it succinctly and beautifully: “people are worthy of respect, ideas are not” (or not necessarily). Ideas “need to stand or fall exclusively on their merits”.

But unfortunately his article fails to apply these principles fairly across the board. This is what his principles look like from my perspective:

  • I love and respect all people in the LGBTIQ + community.
  • I regard the concept of homosexual practice as being against our natural design.
  • I am keen to propound the basis on which I hold this view.
  • I am also keen to understand why people hold a different view to me.
  • I am distressed when people interpret my view on the issue as an attack upon their person.

It seems to me that this same distinction of “playing the issue, not the person” is often not extended to me or others like me. Last Saturday I attended an event to be further informed about the principles in this debate. Sadly, I could not hear anything the speakers said, because protesters chanted slogans relentlessly for the entire 40 minutes of the presentations. Slogans such as “Shame, bigot, shame” and placards such as “Nile is vile” and “Lyle is vile” attacked the person rather than the issue. Protestors placed themselves 10cm in front of my face and yelled obscenities at me.

Please, can we all go by the rule: “play the issue, not the person”?

Sadly, I think not. 2000 years ago a man came proclaiming “love your enemies” and purporting to save people from a false worldview. Did everyone follow him? No, we crucified him.

Pastor Geoff Findlay