Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby gets it right in the Media (he talks about Jesus)

Nathan Campbell —  September 1, 2011

Ok, ok. I’ve bagged out the ACL in the last few months for being morally conservative rather than “Christian” in their dealings with the media, starting with the premise that a Christian presence in the media should involve mentioning how Jesus helps us to arrive at a particular position with response to social issues.

I’ve singled Jim Wallace out for criticism, perhaps fairly, perhaps not. But the ACL, and Jim Wallace, got it right on Sunrise this week. This is, in my mind, the best and most cohesive presentation the ACL has put forward on the gay marriage question. He starts with the premise that Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman, and that Jesus shapes the lives of believers, and moves to natural law arguments… if this is a sign of a new approach to the issue from the ACL then I’m a big fan.

Nathan Campbell

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Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His Daughter. Coffee. And the Internet. He is currently a student at the Queensland Theological College and a mercenary PR Consultant.

18 responses to Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby gets it right in the Media (he talks about Jesus)

  1. Are you going to send them a bill for your consulting?

  2. Was a bit of a misleading question – Kochie asked why the church was opposed to same-sex marriage and then it turned into issues of legislation.

    • I’d say it is nigh on impossible to separate the issue so far as both the media and the Australian Christian Lobby is concerned, so I’m just happy this answer was Christian. How a Christian approaches the state is a decision based on one’s personal political persuasions and eschatology, so I’m happy for Christians to talk about legislation – provided they talk about their stance as flowing from their Christian faith, not their personal moral convictions. This was the closest the ACL has come to showing its “workings,” ala high school maths, that I’ve seen so far, which is encouraging.

  3. Have you sent him a letter congratulating him?

    • I sent one to the guy I’ve been talking to who I believe oversees their PR (based on previous interactions following previous posts).

  4. To address his method, not his comment–gee, I wish he wouldn’t interrupt people. I think a lot of grace is shown by Christians in being polite and genuinely listening, no matter what their opponents say, or how they say it. (To hark back to Guy Mason, he sat patiently through everything slung against Christians, listening and waiting.)

  5. Hi Nathan,

    In all of what you believe, in all of what you understand Jim Wallace to believe, and in all of what the ACL stands for, do you sincerely think that all Australians must be required for comply with those beliefs in all areas of their lives, even if those aforementioned beliefs are not practised by or desired by those people?

    Let me put it to you another way. In Islam and orthodox Judaism there are many religious practises that their adherents are required to observe. One of them is modesty in dress. Women must cover their arms, legs, cleavage, head etc. Men similarly are not allowed to expose their skin. Let’s not get caught up in the detail of this, but accept that it happens.

    Now let’s say that these religious groups wanted all Australians to act similarly, in doing so limiting their freedom of self expression. Would you be concerned? I suspect most Australians wouldn’t for one minute want anything to do with it.

    If you were forced to behave in this manner, because the law prevented you from doing otherwise, you might be pretty miffed by this. Perhaps not, and if so, I could suggest a range of people who could offer you a very delightful wardrobe of black suits, white shirts and black hats, that you could wear daily. However I suspect that’s not your preference.

    Let’s consider what you’re proposing here, along with what Jim Wallace is, and the ACL. You collectively want to dictate your religious beliefs on the rest of Australia, on those who are either not Christian, or those who are not the slightest bit interested in following this fundamental Christian dogma. I know I want religion out of my life because as far as I am concerned it does more harm than good, but that’s just my opinion, and I don’t want to force it on anyone else.

    I want to live my life, as a man who is in a relationship with another man, as I want to, without anyone interfering in my domestic arrangements. I respect your right to do whatever you want with your partner, and how you and her live your lives, within the confines of Australian law. In my relationship, I would hope you similarly respect what I choose to do in my relationship with my partner.

    You might want to go on about children. Let me tell you that my partner has two teenage children that he’s single-handedly raised, one 17, the other 19. They’re doing pretty well as far as moody teenagers go. In fact, I’d say they’re doing exceedingly well, considering they’ve survived a divorce, a father who’s come to terms with his sexuality and and ailing mother with a life-threatening illness. They have the love and care of both of their parents, and they have me, their father’s partner in their lives too, and we all get along nicely. However despite all of that, children fall outside the parameters of the Federal Marriage Act 1961. It’s says nothing about marriage requiring procreation if possible, and further it is not implied or inferred.

    In our relationship, if we wanted to marry, no one would be worse off and no one would suffer. The only thing that would happen is we’d be considered married, and we might even get some white goods and well wishes from friends and family.

    I’d like you to reflect on what you want for those people who do not subscribe to your beliefs, and put yourself in the place of those people. What if you were forced to abide by a set of rules that were contrary to your existence on this planet? And then tell me what you think about that.

    • “do you sincerely think that all Australians must be required for comply with those beliefs in all areas of their lives, even if those aforementioned beliefs are not practised by or desired by those people?”

      No, I don’t. And I’ve never suggested that I do, read the Facebook comments on this post, read everything else I’ve written here on the ACL or gay marriage (use the search box).

    • I do see how based only on the post above you could reach the conclusion you have. But this is the result of a lengthy blog/email campaign I’ve been running with the ACL to get them to stop equating Christianity with right wing politics and start talking about Jesus and how the message of Christianity applies to social issues. I think this is a step in that direction. He says “Christians have their life shaped by Jesus” and then instead of saying “and we want everybody to live like Christians” he says “but our objection to this is based on natural law”… which is fine. Feel free to rebut his natural law arguments, but at least he’s starting to make that distinction, and starting to talk a little more (it was a few sentences) about how Christians arrive at the position they do on marriage.

      My solution, to save you the searching, on the marriage front is to remove the government from defining marriage altogether. Let anybody who wants to call their relationship marriage call it marriage without fear of persecution from lobby groups or other minorities. I’m pretty libertarian politically, and can’t see how the government legislating in favour of any minority lobby group is in the best interest of our democracy for exactly the reason you’ve outlined above. So I’m sorry you wasted all that space and time on that comment…

      • I’m not entirely familiar with the term “natural law”. I just had a look on Wikipedia and I see there are a number of ways it’s used.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law

        Could you please elaborate on this Nathan.

        Thanks.

        • Hi Michael, I mean it in the traditional sense rather than the Christian sense (as the wikipedia article defines it).

          I don’t think the natural law argument against gay marriage is necessarily persuasive, but I do think it is possible to make such an argument without being a bigot.

          So I think, if one was to argue that sexuality is innate, rather than a choice, then you could make a natural law argument for gay marriage. But that would have to be considered along side the argument regarding legislating for the ideal setting for raising a child.

          It’s complex. It’s not as easy as lobby groups on either side of the debate want it to be – and if you read the Facebook discussions on this post you’ll see that it often degenerates into insults and ad hominem attacks on both sides of the debate because we’re seeing a clash of identities and ideologies – both of which are essentially personal.

          • I’d suggest economics and other observations of how the world is are types of natural law arguments.

          • What is your understanding of the “natural law” argument for and against “gay marriage”?

            Why would you use “natural law” to argue against gay marriage if you weren’t going argue against it on the basis of religious belief? What predisposes you to object to any two consenting unrelated adults from marrying each other?

            Do you believe sexuality is innate or a choice? I find it hard to understand why anyone would begin to believe people choose not to be heterosexual.

          • Hi Michael,

            Do you deliberately ignore everything other than the first sentence of each post/comment I make?

            The natural law argument against gay marriage is pretty much the argument Wallace makes. The ideal marriage (between two people of opposite gender, loving each other for life), is in part, about providing the ideal setting for the biological creation and upbringing of children. Since homosexual unions are, of themselves, incapable of producing children, there is a legitimate natural reason to distinguish between relationships capable of producing children and relationships incapable of producing children.

            The natural law argument for gay marriage, as outlined in my response to you directly above, is that homosexual inclination is, to the best of our current knowledge, innate rather than deliberate. In this sense it is natural and to discriminate against people based on their nature seems undemocratic.

            So, there are two competing natural law arguments. It’s not bigotry to choose either of these sides.

            One is probably better supported by the principles underpinning western democracies, which is why, as I’ve said above, imposing my personal views about the nature of marriage that I draw from my religious faith is not something I’m particularly passionate about.

            I wish the ACL would pick issues closer to what I think the essence of Christian interactions with politics should look like (ie speaking out for the poor, the voiceless, the marginalised, the sick and the hungry). But until the religious right, the people who fund the ACL, start to prioritise these issues they’re stuck. A lobby group represents the interests of its financial supporters, not its nominal constituency.

            I posted this because, as I say, I’ve been critical of the ACL for claiming to be Christian but never mentioning Jesus or showing how their policy positions relate to Christianity at all. And I think this is an improvement – because the context is an interview about why Christians don’t support gay marriage (not even politically) and he starts by presenting what I think is a legitimate account of why Christians don’t support gay marriage, and then he talks about a political argument for not supporting gay marriage (a natural law argument – rather than a faith based argument). This isn’t necessarily a good or convincing argument, but it’s a legitimate type of argument in the political sphere.

  6. In response to your most recent comment above, I think I am becoming lost in the complexities of the pro- and anti- arguments presented. I apologise if it looks like I’ve been ignoring anything you’ve said. You need to realise that you understand what you’ve written, and that I don’t (yet) fully understand what you’ve meant, so I’ve asked further questions to help me.

    I’d like to ask you to clarify one part of the last paragraph above. You wrote: “he starts by presenting what I think is a legitimate account of why Christians don’t support gay marriage”.

    There are plenty of people who identify as Christian who do support “gay marriage”. I know many and are aware of others. Would you agree that a more correct way to state the above is: “he starts by presenting what I think is a legitimate account of why some Christians don’t support gay marriage”?

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to my questions.

    • Hi Michael,

      I apologise for my tone – if you see the protracted discussion happening in the comments above (the Facebook discussion), you may understand why – I’ve spent all day being called a bigot, and I’m starting to tar everybody who is arguing with me with the same brush.

      So yeah, you’re right. I probably needed to work harder at making sure I was understood rather than snapping, and I’m sorry.

      To answer your question. Yes. I think it’s legitimate to insert the word “some”… I think it’s pretty difficult to claim anything as representative of the views of the Christian community at large (another of my problems with the name the ACL chose). It’s actually at the point where you can’t even expect all “Christians” to subscribe to a literal resurrection of Jesus. I like the definition the Atheist Foundation of Australia came up with for Christians in their census campaign… but that’s neither here nor there.

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