Tag Archives: Sunrise

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Gay Marriage, Christians, and Sunrise: A better way

This morning Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen, Jim Wallace, and Bishop Julian Porteous were interviewed about Gay Marriage on Sunrise. It wasn’t a train wreck. For which we can all be thankful. Sunrise should stick to this balanced format rather than stoking the fires of controversy with stupid debates featuring people who are clearly intellectually outmatched. Having an informed presenter who is (though slightly misguided when it came to polygamy and the Bible) asking the right sort of questions is also helpful. And by the right sort of questions I mean questions that get to the heart of Christian objections, rather than questions intended to be confrontational and stupid.

The Catholic guy hits the nail on the head in the way Jim Wallace doesn’t. Peter Jensen completely agrees. They talk about Jesus. They talk about the Bible. They talk about marriage being a worthwhile institution. They do it in a much more coherent way than the host, and in a much more winsome way than Jim Wallace did earlier in the week, and than he does today.

They argue that this issue is simply an issue of definition, and redefining marriage.

I like Peter Jensen’s “God has a great deal of interest in what goes on in the community” response to the idea that marriage is a “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s argument.” And his distinction between respecting the law and being forced to take part in conducting gay marriages.

And they do a good job of suggesting that their arguments are natural law arguments. It would’ve been nice to see something about how following Jesus means transforming your views on sex and sexuality as part of the argument about protecting Christianity from having to teach positive things about homosexuality. But you can’t win them all. And this is simply a much better Christian showing than the disaster from this week.

I love that Andrew O’Keefe called out the number of form letters (rather than thought out letters), and vitriolic letters, they’re getting from ACL supporters. And Jim’s funny “no true Christian” response:

“We have people coming onto our website and posing as Christians and proving themselves not, usually by the language.”

Just like we have people going on TV and making stupid and ignorant comparisons to the Nazi regime.

I don’t understand the ACL’s objection to Sunrise openly being part of the campaign – surely they’re better off being open about their bias than pretending to be objective and favouring the cause.

I do like the tone in this interview – it’s much more productive than the debate format where people are yelling at each other and trying to score cheap points. But good on the two churchmen for showing how some winsome, Christ-centred, public engagement works.

While I’m on the subject – it would be remiss, and somewhat non even-handed of me not to gently rebuke this offering on the Sydney Anglican’s website this week. Andrew Cameron does a much better job of essentially presenting the “children” argument Jim Wallace used earlier this week in a winsome, engaging, and empathetic way. And its context is different to the Sunrise interview in that it’s on a denominational website, and for Christians, rather than a nationally televised program. But a good article would have been a better article for sharing with non-Christians if it started with the same argument used by Archbishop Jensen and Bishop Porteous. Christian objections to same sex marriage are ultimately based on Jesus’ affirmation of marriage and the created order, and subsequently Paul’s use of the same argument in Romans 1-2. If Jesus had overturned the created order in his ministry then the “love wins” debate would have merit, but he didn’t. He affirmed it. It’d be nice if more of our arguments started with the centrality of Jesus to Christian belief on social issues – it’d also do away with people who want to raise the eating of shellfish and tattoos as other issues that Leviticus forbids, as though we’re being selective.

I like these paragraphs from Andrew’s piece:

“What we’ve seen is a shift in our society’s ‘common objects of love’ – those matters a society gathers itself to defend, and which help to make it a society. What matters about marriage has shifted over the decades. Our society now loves the idea of love; it loves freedom of expression; it loves eradicating differences. It doesn’t love permanence; it’s ambivalent about children; it’s less convinced that biological parenthood is significant to children; it abhors any notion that each gender might offer something particular and different to the other, and to children. These changes-of-loves are what make it seem that marriage can be renegotiated.

In the middle of these changing loves, Christians can ask helpful questions (there’s not much point being polemical when so little thought has been given to the nature of marriage). We can ask our neighbours: ‘Are you sure that you are not missing something? Do you really want to abandon those older loves? Will that actually help us as a community?’.”

I probably should make it clearer, lest people have questions, that I completely agree with both Peter Jensen and Andrew Cameron – that marriage between a man and a woman is good for society, and better for children, because it matches God’s intention. What I think we need to figure out is how we continue to present that in a way that affirms that Jesus is better for people than marriage (which might mean not getting married in certain cases), and protects our ability to keep saying that once the legislative horse bolts. I think basing the argument on Jesus, the created order, and questioning why it is that we think sexuality is the defining characteristic of human identity is a better way than encouraging our supporters to spam media outlets and politicians, and then comparing them to the Nazis when they disagree with us.

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Being on Message for Jesus: Guy Mason Interview

Guy Mason is the Melbourne minister (from City On A Hill) who used a discussion about a controversial piece of art on Sunrise to talk about Jesus to a national audience. I thought he did a great job, so I asked if I could interview him, mostly for the purposes of writing a story, but also because I thought he’d have good stuff to say based on his performance. So here are his answers to my questions.

Guy has some training and experience in Public Relations, and an M. Div from Ridley College in Melbourne.

1. How did the Sunrise interview come about?

They called me on a Sunday, while I was at Starbucks prepping for our evening service. I’ve done a number of spots for them before; since planting City on a Hill we have attracted a bit of press – especially recently with articles in the Age, Herald Sun, interview with Triple J. I don’t take all opportunities that come up, but am happy to serve where I can.

2. With your PR background do you proactively look for opportunities to engage the media?

I love the gospel and I want as many people as possible to hear the good news of Jesus. If opportunities open doors for the gospel than I’m happy to get involved. I don’t hunt down media (like I would in a PR consultancy) but as the Spirit leads I follow. Interestingly, I find a lot of media people (like most Australians) are curious about Jesus. However, their impression of most churches and religious groups is that they are solely interested in speaking against culture. As a Christian I believe there is much about culture to reject – but also, much to receive and then also aspects to redeem. For example, in an interview with Triple J I was given an opportunity to talk about the gospel and sexuality. The common view is that all churches teach that sex is evil. In contrast secular culture treats sex not as the devil, but a God to worship. I then shared how as Christians we believe sex is neither devil or god, but rather a gift from God to be enjoyed frequently and freely in marriage.

3. Do you think other churches need PR experience to do this?

I think we all have much to learn in this area. The very first person I met when planting a church in Melbourne was the local news editor. I asked him to tell me about the area, his perception of church, and also how we ‘the church’ could serve him. I have and continue to learn a lot from this friendship.

As I understand PR, it is the practice of understanding an audience/demographic/culture and communicating a message in a comprehensible and relevant way. As a believer we are all called to be communicators of the greatest message in Jesus. We don’t want to change the message at all – but consideration to the audience is key. We need to be grappling with questions like – who are we speaking to? what language do they speak? what is their understanding of Jesus? what obstacles exist that get in the way of them seeing Jesus for who he really is? what are the most effective and culturally relevant methods of communicating Jesus? All of this sits under the banner of God’s providence and power who is at work equipping the saints to proclaim the good news of Jesus and awaken unregenerate hearts to the majesty that is Christ.

4. What made you decide to respond to the art work the way you did?

To be honest, it was a Monday morning following a long day of preaching, prayer, and I was pretty tired. I asked people to pray for me and that God would use my words for his glory. I am aware that on shows like Sunrise you only get sound bite opportunities to speak. Thus, with a very complicated and heavily loaded segment, I wanted to be clear, concise and point people to Jesus.

5. Is there anything you regret not saying?

All the time. I always walk away from church, interviews, conversations saying “I should have said this!” Thankfully, God’s grace is made perfect in my weakness.

6. How important is it, from your perspective, for us to talk about Jesus and the cross, when we’re appearing in public?

In Paul’s letter to the corinthians he says – “whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Whether I’m chatting with my mates at the football, catching up with a young bloke exploring Christianity, counselling a couple going through a marriage crises, or speaking before thousands of Aussies in a channel seven studio, I want to lift up Jesus. I’m not going to do this perfectly, or even helpfully all the time – but pray that God uses everything I do for the good of our nation and the glory of his name.

7. What were the potential problems, from your perspective, with answering the Sunrise questions differently?

I didn’t give them the controversy they perhaps wanted. On other occasions I’ve rejected media spots because of the corner they wanted to put ‘christianity’ in – that churches are judgemental, divided and irrelevant. I’ve then watched as the spot was filled by someone else who fell right into their plan (either wittingly or unwittingly).

But while many media agencies like controversy, Sunrise appreciate honesty, authenticity and anything that is unexpected. These are welcome in a world of political double talk.

In any interview you will have one team wanting you to answer one way, and another team hoping you say something completely different. At the end of the day I want to live for Jesus. It’s his opinion that matters.

8. What do you think are the benefits of doing media stuff like this interview?

We are working really hard these days to get people to come to us and hear the message of Jesus. If opportunities open up for us to ‘go to the people’ than praise God. The gospel is for all people and our city is full of people whom God is calling to Jesus. In addition, we are called to be in the world. Jesus said, as the father has sent me so I send you. The gospel light is to be present in homes, the workplace, the university, the television network. Jesus said – we are a city on a hill, a light to the nations. We shouldn’t hide that light and disconnect from culture, but rather be in the world living radically counter-cultural gospel lives that both display and demonstrate the glory of Christ.

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

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.

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So much to tell you…

Following a two week hiatus you’d expect there’d be a bunch of interesting stories for me to tell you. This would be an incorrect assumption. Sure, I went to a couple of weddings and saw Gomez live (they were amazing). I visited exciting places like Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and Mount Tambourine. I spent hours in a hospital car park waiting to pick up the groom from one of the aforementioned weddings following emergency eye surgery two days before he was due to marry Robyn’s sister Justina. I picked new towels, sheets and bed linen as part of preparation for my own married life (and wasn’t that fun). I learned all about weddings – for instance – I learned that the colour of an invitation should indicate what colour to wear, or not to wear to a wedding (the colour of the invite should match the bridesmaid’s dresses and also indicate the general theming of the wedding). I tried, without success thus far, to find somewhere to hold an “intimate” wedding reception following a larger inclusive ceremony and afternoon tea, and negotiated the nightmare of family politics surrounding weddings (I can now empathise with the captain of the Titanic who was no doubt doing his best to miss a bunch of minor icebergs when he ran into the big one that scuppered the ship). Plus there were a series of traumatic events in the news cycle while I was away that I felt compelled to blog about – however I couldn’t actually be bothered to respond to those compulsions. So will now mention them in passing – Andrew Johns retired as the best half back I’ve ever seen (given that my league watching career spanned exactly the length of his career that’s not too surprising). Anyone who tries to compare the incomparable skills of Mr Johns with Alfie Langer, Ricky Stuart or any other number seven who played in that period has rocks in their heads (even Geoff Toovey wasn’t as good – he sadly had no kicking game). Incidentally, Manly are still undefeated and sit atop the ladder, Manchester United won 7-1 against Roma in the Champions League and made the FA Cup final in the same week while still leading the Premier League by 3 points with only a few rounds to go (including one against Chelsea – which barring a diabolical turn of events and dramatic chance in goal difference it probably won’t matter if they lose they should still take the title) – so all in all it’s good to be me right now

The ANZAC day media fiasco played itself out in the media – but I’d like to point out that Vietnam is in fact no Gallipoli – and April 25 has very little to do with the Vietnam conflict. Why wasn’t the fuss made about that? I’m glad the real issue – Rudd’s Channel 7 favouritism was brought to the fore and promptly dealt with. A school shooting in the US made further mockery of the right to bear/bare arms (why anyone would want paws or hair free arms is beyond me). The idea that the American populace to be able to take part in a citizen’s militia to repel invaders has been a little diluted to the point where students can open fire on their peers. Gun reform is an easy campaign issue for the Democrats now so we’ll see what Joe’s blog has to say on that issue in the near future. Speaking of blogs philnsmiz has finally been updated – and should be again shortly, while Scooter’s blog still languishes back on the first of January where it promised so much but has since delivered so little. Tim’s has been also been updated.

So all in all, I am in need of a holiday. And I’m back at work today.