I want to say, step away for a moment from whether gay marriage is right or wrong. Continually participating in the debate from a Christian ethics standpoint has been over-flogged and I wonder if the peace in the storm needs to come when Christians just engage with what is happening from an individual perspective and delve into the cultural sphere of this debate.
The crux for this article developed when arranging a Monday night catch-up with an actor friend and we decided to see a play, The Pride. As it's now finished it's run in Auckland, I won't be spoiling the plot by saying that the parallel love triangle continually shifts from 1950's to present day England with the same actors, comparing how a homosexual affair could not be fulfilled then due to the viewpoints on love and sexuality, post sexual revolution – in comparison to how it could work out today within the current acceptance of gay relationships.
The theatre audience was an unusual assortment and I found myself sitting next to a row of middle aged "Bears" with their "cubs", who reminded me of men I have worked with in media jobs. Without generalising too much, these men can see their freedom as 'your love is liberation', as tagged on the cover of the plays programme. Any kind of spiritual connection with the church has long since disintegrated because of their conviction to pursue what they want freedom to mean to them.
A me-and-them moment
While I found myself laughing hard with them at the same jokes during the play, I still felt challenged that through the years in the church I had built up a distance from their lives and their values and came to question myself on why that might be. It seemed a me-and-them moment and that was something I wanted to shift in myself.
My thoughts continued to form when attending a night entitled LUST at the Auckland Museum's excellent Seven Deadly Sins series. The regular format of the evenings are for a panel to host a debate and this evening had an imbalance in perspective – a sex shop owner (who was a lesbian), a radio DJ who had recently come out as gay (but used to be Christian) and the bisexual author of a book on dominatrix sex.
Throughout the panel, my companion who works for a large Auckland church, seemed quite disgusted by the debate and muttered throughout the anecdotes from the panel. Although I found my friend's comments amusing, they also saddened me.
We might not agree with the panel's viewpoints – which didn't represent the audience either – but isn't it important that we are there, engaging in debate and showing there is another side?
At arm's length
It was unfortunate that on this occasion the panel was quite limited in range but my friend's response did appear to characterise what many New Zealanders really think about the matter – that they don't want to engage, they want to stand at an arm's length.
Are we always obligated to stand firm and throw our opinions down? I wonder if this is distancing us as a church – and from ultimately representing Jesus – from what is actually happening. That these crowds are ultimately broken, like us, and need a saviour, not a preacher.
Jesus said to hang out with the crowd and what if we did this more? What if we just attended, we listened, we engaged in a debate and heard their perspective rather than closing our ears. The gay marriage discussion will continue and if we do not gently participate and interact with people as individuals and the gay culture being established around us, it will carry on regardless, whether we agree with what's happening or not.
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in Publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries. She is a member of SALT (www.saltmedia.co.nz) and Artisan Initiatives (www.artisaninitiatives.org). She is also a youth leader at a church in West Auckland and is involved in Christian Surfers www.christiansurfers.org.nz.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html