The Ache of Co-Existence

 

So we’ve come to this.

 

A dualistic, contemptuous, hysterical grapple between two words: yes and no.

And, for an opinion poll, no less.

Not even a referendum.

Give the people enough ammunition to kill one another, but deny anyone the ability to affect the outcome of the war.

Because, it does seem to be war now, yes?

I don’t know about you, but I feel played.

I’m not here for war, and I don’t think you ever came here for war, I think you came here, originally, to breathe deep, to love true and tell your story. To build hearts without fences. To have a conversation with the person who lived differently to you. To learn about love, teach your children about love, and walk freely upon the ground you’ve been gifted.

It feels like the Hunger Games. We’ve been informed of who our enemy is – the other. Told that there are but two options: that one can only live if the other dies, and all of a sudden we have no choice but to fight to the death.

Under these exclusive terms, we cannot co-exist harmoniously. We cannot have a variety of ideologies or lifestyles within one vast nation – it is either yes or it is no – it is either hate or it is love – right or wrong – black or white.

 

This is a lie.

 

I want to speak to you, briefly, from a place that cannot be bulldozed by dualism, or dismissed for its ignorance, which is grey, no matter how black and white the conversation seems through the carnage of this week.

From the place of story-telling. From my story.

I am both a queer woman and a deeply devoted Christian.

I’m in a broad minority, as specific as it sounds. There are many ways to be same-sex attracted and Christian. The community of faith I call my own contains every possible interpretation, incarnation, and expression of this. We debate constantly, but we aim to end each day united. We are brothers and sisters that will vehemently disagree with their hands still holding onto one another. The priority is always connection.

This plebiscite has hit our once-united community like a virus. We cannot seem to keep our balance. People are behaving fearfully, reactively, and often out of character.

Among the Christians, there are the affirming, the non-affirming, and the unsure. Even then, the vote is a completely different question to ‘what do you believe?’

It is in essence asking, ‘What freedom would you willingly afford others that believe differently to you?’

I suspect this is where so much confusion has entered in. It is one thing, to respond honestly about what you believe – how you choose to live. It is another, altogether, to participate in deciding the way everyone else should live, regardless of shared belief or not.

This does apply to both sides.

 

I see my community reeling. Dealing with the confrontation of summarising their personal beliefs, political sentiments and social compassion with one word. The yes versus the no. The responsibility of the church. The validity of an orthodox faith. The sacred metaphor of marriage, the ancient texts continually embraced and negotiated, the desperate needs of our LGBTQI+ friends and families.

I know we are not the only faith group being invited into accelerated reformation through this plebiscite, and of course, accelerated conflict.

I speak not of extremist political groups when I refer to faith groups, by the way.

I do not refer to the ACL, or the people who painted ‘Vote No’ in the sky a few days ago – though I fully acknowledge the hateful and traumatising nature of these campaigns. I acknowledge regretfully, that bigoted trolling tactics are alive and well, but I am not referring to this minority, to which I do not identify.

Rather, I’m talking about my friends – Jesus followers, Allah followers, YHWH followers and others, who have openly grieved and rebutted the lies, propaganda and scapegoating from the extreme conservative commentators.

Those who have also silently grieved the lies, propaganda and scapegoating surrounding their faiths from certain other commentators.

I’m talking about the ones who are desperately seeking a way to give peace and live peace.

The ones who still hold conservative beliefs about marriage, but who are not your enemy.

This story is, in many ways, about them.

 

*

 

The complexity of my sexuality was apparent to me from high-school, and I expressed it slowly and cautiously.

My attraction to women co-existed alongside every early relationship I had with men, sometimes waiting patiently, sometimes forcing its way in, unable to lie dormant.

When I came out, I felt the hot rushes of shame and vulnerability, the mirco-aggressions of judgment and confusion from others, the presumptions from men and women alike. I was proud, but lost, insecure in my outness.

My first committed relationship with a woman was passionate and liberating, but terrifying, too. Though a well-established artist herself, our relationship was intentionally hidden from the public spotlight, whilst I ventured into the industry for the first time. Finding our rhythm forced me off the map, but I wanted to be guided. I was still processing previous experiences of hurt and abuse, and the relationship was consequently strained. I had gained an entirely new universe – one I had longed for for so long – but it reminded me of what I was losing, too.

I was so angry that we couldn’t marry. My chest always felt tight. Even when people seemed supportive I felt as though they secretly thought of me as ‘less’. I was angry that we couldn’t have children that were just ours, and constantly fantasized about scientific breakthroughs that might allow it – before feeling guilty about that too. I felt robbed. I blamed the church.

In my anger, I raged over blind, conservative arguments. I wrote thinly veiled plays about the bigotry of the Christian argument against homosexuality.

I also cheated on my girlfriend, ran cruel circles around a variety of other women and men, and left a trail of confusion and anger in my wake.

In the aftermath of my own behaviour, I blamed the resistance of the conservative right, and threw myself into the cause. I rallied, petitioned, wore t-shirts, and posted earnestly on my Tumblr.

I wanted to be good in love. I just wasn’t.

 

Then, of course, I met God.

 

Not unlike my sexuality, my faith was not chosen. It happened to me.

It just was.

It wasn’t an ideology I observed, read a few books on and decided to click subscribe to.

I hated Christianity. I had no interest in religion, no desire to be a Christian, and many, many reasons to reject the movement altogether.

But, God turned up on my front door. He came to me, personally – not as a feeling, or a solution, or a comforting rule-book to follow. He was my friend.

Not energy, dogma or religion.

Relationship.

 

When I first read the gospels, I did so to detangle myself from the spiritual encounters I had recently had, and prove to myself how bigoted the faith actually was. It was purely research for critical resistance.

Within the first few pages, I was undone.

I remember clutching the book to my chest, laughing, and saying out loud:

‘The Christians don’t get Jesus. THEY ACTUALLY DON’T GET HIM. They think he’s on their side, but he’s not. He’s my ally. He’s on my side.’

The bible made Christianity markedly clear to me.

Jesus hated religion.

He sat with the messy, colourful, rainbow, rejected people that the others considered unclean. He came to their houses, ate at their dinner tables and told them he’d come all that way just for them.

He was not exclusive. He did not favour the scholars, the puritans and the priests. He favoured me.

He told me that I was the light of the world, exactly as I was. He did not judge me as sinner or saint, he did not expose my deeds before me and ask me to repent. He simply welcomed me, told me he’d been waiting for me, that we were family, and that we would work it all out together.

The Jesus of the bible was interested in taking the concept of God out of its stuffy, legalistic box, and replacing religion with relationship.

Eventually, he was killed for such radical activism, dying in pacifism, and in protest.

If he then rose from the dead, which I believe he did, it was for the physical and spiritual freedom of every single one of us, exactly as we are.

 

I was transformed by my experience of God – I was humbled by it, broken by it and remarkably healed.

Following Jesus probably saved my life, but it didn’t stop me being attracted to women.

 

At first, it didn’t seem to matter. I took a few steps back from sex altogether – I was caught in some destructive patterns, and gender had nothing to do with it. My overall sexuality was wounded. It was deeply relieving to know that I didn’t need to have sex in order to be loved, in order to give love, and in order to be known. My body closed for business, I started to heal.

Even in my chosen aloneness, the tension of the ‘gay’ debate plagued me.

For the first time in my life, I was friends with people who believed very differently to me. I was sitting at the dinner tables of the ‘bigots’, as one might casually call them. I would interrogate their convictions about gay marriage, and homosexuality, and listen to them explain.

Part of me wanted us to fight. I wanted to convince them otherwise by tearing down their reasoning, by calling them names and calling out their close-mindedness, but I soon realised I was dealing with something so much more complex and nuanced than hate.

They didn’t hate me. They didn’t even blink at my gayness. They were all deeply invested in the difficulty of the debate, conflicted by both their conviction and compassion. They knew and loved gay people. They knew and loved God, and they knew and loved the bible, too. They constantly attempted to find both truth and love in all they read and all they concluded. It was never rash, never based in fear and never without deep consideration. A few of them were same sex attracted themselves, but chose to live either celibately or in solely heterosexual relationships, per their beliefs. It was extreme to me, almost unthinkable, but sitting there face-to-face, with my friends gently sharing their joy in that which went beyond their own sexuality, I could find it within me to respect it.

I could respect it, because they also respected me. They did not diminish the relationships I had had with women, but affirmed them. Through conversations we had together, they recognised my experiences as equal in love, equal in heartbreak, equal in worth. Consummately equal, even if, in their opinion, God invited another way to live.

They afforded me a dignity that I don’t think I’d even afforded myself.

Though they knew about me, my job, my choices, my previous relationships, I never felt excluded. I was not rejected for my opinions. No-one called me a sinner.

They loved me unconditionally. They made their own choices, and they set me free to make mine. They let me work out the tension with the only person who had any authority to really lead me – God.

So I did.

I’m still doing it, five years deep into my faith walk, and now married to a man.

No matter how I choose to live, I am so grateful that very little was imposed upon me in my spiritual formation. Consequently, I cannot impose my personal journey on any other. I wouldn’t want to. Jesus doesn’t work that way.

Religion tells you what path is right and what is wrong.

Relationship tells you it’ll walk with you, wherever you choose to go.

We all take our pilgrimages along different paths.

 

My theology is both child-like in its simplicity, and ancient in complexity.

I am unfinished in my faith, constantly processing, challenging and learning. In the scheme of things, I know zilch.

Almost every believer I know is in the same position.

 

We might live evangelistically, but the people I know don’t live or believe in ’empire’ Christianity.

Jesus never came to be the politician, the commander or the emperor. He came to be the servant.

Church and state are chalk and cheese. A revolutionary movement based on grace cannot suddenly decide it wants to live under law again.

 

Yes, we do marry uniquely, under Jesus. Anyone that came to my wedding can attest to that, whether they loved it or hated it. It means something else, for us. It’s a form of sacred, spiritual worship.

However, we don’t have a right to marriage, as Christians.

We’re incredibly lucky to be able to do it that way at all.

We certainly don’t own it, or its definition.

We are blind, really, to the privilege we have to even profess our faith in our home country without being arrested or killed.

Any claimed laid on marriage by the Christian church is false. It could so quickly and easily be us in the position of the LGBTQI+ community, asking for freedom and understanding about something so deeply inherent to who we are.

I’m sorry, for that arrogance.

 

So, where is peace?

Is it in truth?

 

The ‘objective truth’ of this old life and love game we do not yet have access to.

If Douglas Adams was right, perhaps we could parade the number 42 around parliament to settle this bloody opinion poll for us. But, we cannot.

All we have is subjectivity. The only thing that can build a bridge through all of this name-calling, and fear, is relationship.

All we carry as our gifts/weapons (you choose) are our experiences, our beliefs, our convictions and our compassion. When we share these, we are in relationship.

We can have conversations, and cups of tea, and dinners.

We can sit face to face, and admire one another’s differing pilgrimage.

We can drink deeply of the diversity of this nation, and the many interpretations of what living and loving might look like.

We can listen to one another, and accept that the other’s experience is, in fact, their reality.

Telling someone that their relationship with someone of the same sex is wrong, does not make you right. Telling someone that their relationship with God is wrong, does not make you right.

We must ­co-exist.

Insulting and un-friending those that may vote differently to you on Facebook does not make diversity go away.

Yes, your rejection of others may alleviate the pain of their ignorance for a moment, but that wound is not healed by eliminating the enemy. You do not grow, from entering the echo chamber.

We need relationship.

War doesn’t make your point. It doesn’t tell your story.

 

Your story is consummately equal, divinely worthy.

No matter which way this vote goes, and no matter what the government decides to do with the results, you must keep telling it.

No matter if your concept of marriage is broken, undermined, denied or made illegitimate by that government, your story is not broken, and it cannot be denied. Your narrative is not illegitimate.

Your worth remains intact.

The worth of your relationship remains intact.

Love is the fire – love is the judge.

I don’t only mean the love between your romantic partner and yourself. Heck, that love will refine you, but it isn’t the challenge here.

I refer to the love you show the person you have been told is your enemy.

LGBTQI+ friends – God is on your side, especially in your persecution and suffering. He knows and he cares.

Christian friends – we are not the Pharisees. Guard your heart against the yeast of it. Seek justice. Rejoice in listening. Share stories around the table. Be blessed by mercy.

Everyone, I know this plebiscite matters. I’m not pretending it doesn’t. It has ramifications, it will steer political decisions, it will shape your rights around family, it has generational liberations and constrictions. A lot of you feel afraid and are hurting, and that is fair, and I know this seems like the culprit, but what I’m really trying to communicate is that no law, no discrimination, no vote, no sky-writing and no angry social media post against you has the power to control the worth of who you are, what you have experienced, and what you believe.

So don’t let it.

 

To my no voters and my yes voters, alike:

Screw the dualism.

Let’s be Katniss and Peeta.

You are the light of the world.

You are so deeply loved and accepted.

I am honoured to share this table with you, this heart without fences.

I rejoice in our differences, I rejoice in your love, I rejoice in every experience that has formed you and the generations that may follow you.

You are not my enemy.

You are my neighbour, my mirror, my gift.

 

I wish you joy on the pilgrimage.

 

 

 

About Anna Weir

Anna is an actor and writer, based in Melbourne, Australia. She can be found on Facebook under @annaweir, and on Instagram and Twitter under @annamcgahan.

39 thoughts on “The Ache of Co-Existence

  1. Anna I’m curious – if you consider the ‘vote no’ in the sky as bigoted, what is it when virtually every business one can come in contact with is screaming vote yes? Is that not also hurtful? Othering? Excluding? Anti-conversation?

    What about the woman who was fired for acknowledging to her boss that she would vote no. Is that not hateful? Bigoted? Closed-minded? Traumatising?

    The abuse the sign-writer has received? Not traumatising?

    What about the death threats that those who work for the ACL receive daily?

    The abuse directed to the gay men and women who are tentatively admitting that they are voting no?

    The irony of this article, which is well-intended and supposed to be anti-dualism, is that it is dualistic. It paints each side in one light (particularly in your conclusion) with the gay community solely as the oppressed and the church solely as the oppressors. This is incredibly hurtful.

    Your intention was to remove the fire but you have only added more fuel and pain.

    1. Shannon, I’m struggling to see where you got this idea of Christians in Anna’s article. In her story she describes them as quite peaceful and accepting of all walks.

      As Christians we are called to love, not enforce laws.

      Great article Anna, relationship is key!

      1. Hasn’t our great nation and its wide freedoms and inclusiveness been built on the logical premise of the greatest good for the greatest number ?
        Is it not patently illogical to turn about to do potential great harm for the majority and our society so that the minority can “enjoy” so called Marriage Equality ?

        Humans have endless curiosity and a desire to seek out knowledge and to define and describe all things around them. Eskimo’s have more than 10 words for variations of snow because it plays an important part in their way of life.
        A spade is not a shovel – both are useful implements but different. If SSM becomes law, human nature will eventually ensure words arise to differentiate the types of marriage…so why not save the ourselves the pain and anguish, just legislate to have common law marriage or civil marriage of “ANY TWO PERSONS” gay, straight or whatever, to have exactly the same legal meaning and entitlements as “Marriage” conveys. Very simple.

        There is only a tiny minority of LGBT. There is a somewhat larger minority of the PC Left hiding behind and pushing to achieve SSM . It is the PC Left ( including some of the LGBT community) who will use the SSM laws as a lever to dismantle some of the basic building blocks of our great society (as they have in Canada and elsewhere).
        No mothers or fathers …just “legal parents” .
        “Gender role playing” for 7-11 year old children will be pushed in all our schools as being coherent with SSM laws.
        Churches and Christian leaders will be pursued by the PC Left Media, to “respect SSM laws” ” & to “modernise their churches to accord with SSM laws”, relentlessly striving to elicit a response that can be prosecuted in Court ( and provide more sensational grist for the PC Media mill ) !
        Protections in laws, if any for our rights to free speech and Christian beliefs will only will be legislated AFTER if SSM becomes law. Such protection laws will be vigorously watered down by the disingenuous and illogical in the PC Left so as to ensure the least effectiveness possible.

        The majority of the population respect, if not practice, the Judeo-Christian way of life. They recognize the fundamental importance of Church and familial relationships in the structure of our wonderful and supporting society. The majority ( or at least those who have thought about it) are frightened that if SSM becomes law, our Nation, built on hard work and Christian and family values will become merely a dull echo of PC bureaucracy and our descendants bent to the PC mould.
        Chris

    2. Shannon, I think partly the role and control of government presses heavily on this debate, and of who is oppressing who. And the government’s stance is seen to have been in association with and response to the Christian conservative position. It has not been outlined that these policy makers are governing for the good of society but representing their side.

    3. Shannon, if you feel ‘hurt’ by things that this amazing woman has written, you would do well to try to figure out what it is that’s hurting. I think the whole point of this quite long essay is to concentrate on the fact that we Are created equal and our Creator God loves us unconditionally! Yes, even if we say “I believe that you are there, God, but I will live my life my way and I don’t want your gracious gift of Jesus. – get nicked.” God still loves us if we say “I don’t believe that there is a God. The amazing body and life of mine, somehow ‘evolved’ from a blob of something – not sure where it came from” . I voted NO because I think that the agenda the LGBT lobby have will adversely effect my descendents. But Jesus came to fulfill the Law (and prophecy) and show us how to Love instead. ..gh 😘

    4. Hi Shannon, I don’t disagree with the points you’ve raised about the hurt, exclusion and abuse aimed at the ‘no’ side (and I also appreciate that you’ve put your thoughts together in a sincere and non-abusive way – sadly, many are not even bothering to attempt this sort of gentle approach) but I do think Anna was at pains to make her comments directed at everyone, wherever they sit in the spectrum of this debate. I choose just one quote to highlight that: “no angry social media post against you has the power to control the worth of who you are” – I sincerely believe that is aimed at those who will vote ‘yes’ who feel attacked and those who will vote ‘no’ who also feel attacked.

      I certainly don’t think either side is solely oppressed – I don’t think Anna does either, but I will have to let her speak for herself.

      1. Bec, I agree that Anna’s heartfelt words are all about love in it’s purest uncomplicated form of relationships with our fellow travelers in the way of Jesus on life’s journey. I am sure she genuinely seeks to encourage respect from both sides in the SSM debate. I wish her well

        However it is also true that the yes side obviously has produced many more acts of real aggression , abuse and attempts to close down rational debate and it is therefore somewhat incongruent and unfortunate that Anna mentions only the mild example of the “Vote No” skywriter together with the less than mild words of hateful, traumatising, bigot and trolling.

        Anna leaves us relying on the inherent good in all of us to deal lovingly with each other and I am sure she in genuine in her love and belief. I applaud the sentiment and encourage it in my life. But it may take a long time to manifest and real damage is imminent to young lives if the “gender role playing games” of the safe schools program become entrenched in our school system.

        First do no harm !
        Chris

    5. Excellent response.
      The LGBT/PC-Left SSM advocates tend studiously to ignore or “gloss over” abuse or the illogicality issuing from their own side.
      Rather like “one eyed” football team supporters but far more likely to result in serious collateral damage to the future well being of our great nation.

    1. Contrarily, Sue, all are deeply welcome. I’m sorry if my position was at all unclear, but my heart is against abuse on both sides, and completely empathetic with the arguments of each. I’m so sorry if you’ve been subjected to bigotry in any way in all of this. I’ve been so disappointed by what I’ve seen and heard from both communities. Your vote is your own, and fine with me, I pray we walk in peace. AM.

      1. Thank you Anna. I am a middle aged heterosexual, married male, and I didn’t think you were at all unclear at all, you just spoke from your own experience, which is all any of us can do. Everybody who has ever read the New Testament must know that Jesus came to walk alongside the rejected and those considered unclean. God is love, and from his love He sent Jesus to redeem us because we are all lost and broken, and from His love flows mercy, grace and forgiveness. My protest at being put in the position this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ opinion pole put us in was to tear my ballot paper up into tiny little pieces and throw it in the bin. I am deeply ashamed of the position my church, and so many of my Christian friends have taken.

  2. Anna, thankyou for your honesty and ability to articulate what’s on your heart! Your story is helpful and so healing through him! Keep writing!

  3. A beautiful read.

    I think you are in much the same place as where I’ve come to, though I suspect I come from the opposite side. 🙂

    The unfriending is the thing that bothers me the most – the whole idea that “If you disagree with me, we can’t be friends.” No matter how right that may seem to someone, that’s the way we fragment into two separate societies, with no going back. We must resist that urge.

    1. Hi Johnathan, what I struggle with is the vehemence and aggressiveness of some of the posts that my so-called “friends” are putting up. Perhaps we’re not really friends when they’re willing to disregard others’ views in such disgusting manners? But you’re right, we can’t stop being friends with people just because we have different opinions.

    2. A confession: I un-friended an acquaintance because I felt harried and judged without her having a clue how I would vote. I unfriended her and blocked her and I would do it again 🙁

  4. Anna, thank-you.

    I am a 69 year old unmarried woman who encountered Jesus a week before my 24th birthday. I was madly in love with a young agnostic Jew at the time.

    I didn’t believe anything I was told of Jesus but was stunned by some folk I encountered. I was a journalist doing a story on some Jesus people helping “street kids” and drug addicts.

    Fourth-five years later, almost 30 years overseas in a “closed country” then USA, UK and then back, being Jesus person in a community group, in a suburb of 70 nationalities for 12 years.

    I love my suburb in Sydney from where I am retiring to Melbourne.next week.

    I have struggled to explain why I can’t vote NO.

    Following Jesus tells me we Christian folk are messing it all up. Jesus’ Gospel is about life. As Paul says to the Corinthians the ” last Adam is a life giving Spirit”, but we are talking about something else, about rules…

    But I also can’t vote YES.

    A young friend sent me your post.

    I AM SO GRATEFU FOR YOUR WRITINGS.

    May you this day know the loving holy embrace of our Triune Creator – Father, Son and Spirit.

    1. I am curious as to why you feel you can’t vote yes.
      A theology of compassion
      of love
      of inclusion
      of accepting the “other”…. I can only imagine – Jesus would have voted yes.
      Thoughts?

  5. Thank you Anna for the raw honesty with which you write about the struggle to live together, despite major difference and your tender, Christlike heart.

  6. Thank you for encouraging us – where everything is painting us to be YES or NO and leaving a trail of hurt and confusion. Really appreciate the time you’ve taken to write.

  7. Thanks Anna, I’m concerned about passion that ridicules and denies space for other opinions. It so often turns to hate and bigotry on both sides. I love that you were/are enfolded in grace and acceptance and have grown so much in such a short amount of time. I’m worried that hurt and bitterness will tear apart our nation no matter what the result.

    1. Hi Sharon, I just want to be clear, it was me (Bec, a fellow reader of Anna’s blog post) who replied to your comment, not Anna herself.

  8. So beautifully written, Anna! Brave, gracious and so very clearly articulating the ache of this messy divide.
    I’m so grateful for you and for you courage. Thank you!!
    With much love!

  9. Well said Shannon..you couldn’t have worded it better. I see the heart to end division here – but an extremely bias approach towards Christians, who are being salt, light & standing for God’s ordained plan for marriage in this world. I have a gay brother whom I love dearly…but I will not sacrifice God’s standards, my children’s right to be educated without radical sexualisation (SSP), lose my freedom of speech & my freedom of religion to express & uphold what God intended for my family?. Christians upholding the biblical definition of marriage, are the target of the most hate filled, bigoted, nasty backlash I have ever seen?. Again…I see your heart motif here to unite & point to Jesus…but you really have compromised his authority, by twisting his character to suit your purposes. Jesus was a rebel, who stood up to the authorities of his day & challenges people over a what their idols were a in life. Everyone he came in contact with – he cammanded to ‘turn from your sin’. He never once condoned sin….it cost him his very life. We all have a journey, we all have a past, & we all are being sanctified daily to become more like Jesus…but I’m afraid when you condone peoples sin….you aren’t leading them to Jesus – you’re leading them away, you’re confusing them & leading them into a false sense of the true understanding of salvation (which repentance is a major ingredient of!). Loving our enemies & all sinners goes without saying…but Jesus commanded us to ‘speak the truth in love’.

  10. so beautiful and my sentiments exactly, thank you for this. I wanted to vote yes, I really did and it breaks my heart that I voted no. I voted no because I’m already seeing people lose their jobs or being called a hater simply because they disagree. Someone I love deeply is in a gay relationship and they have created two beautiful children with another gay couple, so these children have two dads and two mums and they know who they are and how much they are loved. I don’t agree with it, but it doesn’t make me love them any less. I still celebrated the birth of their children and would go to their wedding. But if I said that out loud I would be called a hypocrite or a bigot. It really does distress me that this is the only issue that I can’t be honest about. Anything else I disagree with is just that, we agree to disagree. My sister was living in a defacto relationship for 10 years. My other close friend was also in a defacto relationship and they had children together. I didn’t agree with either of their choices. But it could also be said that they didn’t agree with my choice on celebacy before marriage. Does that change our relationship? Of course not! My sister is my best friend in the world and I would take a bullet for her and my other friend (including my gay friend) without the slightest hesitation. The only thing I HATE is being called a hater simply for disagreeing. I saw my gay friend yesterday and I felt like I was lying to her, I was hoping desperately that she didn’t ask me which way I voted because I wasn’t sure she’d understand. But the thing is, I don’t feel safe. The “Love is Love” campaign scares me. There is a worldwide movement of people who want to marry their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and they use the same argument. I would’ve felt safe if the government had changed the definition of marriage and made it very clear that there would never be a chance of incestuous or under age marriage. If I say that out loud I’m treated like an idiot, because of course that would never happen. Well gay marriage would never have happened and inter race marriages would never have happened until recently, so we need more than “love is love” for an argument. What scares me even more than that now is the thought that a pastor could be sued for refusing to marry a gay couple. They say it’s not going to happen, just like they said it wouldn’t happen in the UK but it’s happening. Schools, churches and business owners will not be allowed to follow their conviction without being called a bigot and even having legal action taken against them. It’s already happening in parts of the world and it’s happening here. One of our great sporting heroes who is now a pastor has receive death threats because she said she believes marriage to be between a man and a woman. They have stood outside her home and threatened her, there are calls for the sport centre named after her to be called a different name and she’s lost her membership at her sporting club. I agree with you Anna, we are very lucky that we are able to profess our faith openly. I’m fearing that those days are fast coming to an end. So, for me at least, the opinion pole wasn’t about marriage at all, I just couldn’t vote yes because right now voting yes is like asking me to sign a blank cheque. I want the details worked out now, not later. Once I feel safe that there is no way the abuse we’re getting now for disagreeing will continue, then I will vote yes. But unfortunately we aren’t given that assurance and as a result the victims are the loving gay couples who just want to formalise their union.

  11. Thank you so much Anna for opening your heart like this. As a fellow artist I long to be that brave. You have opened my eyes and removed some of the fear that seems to have crept in. And it is fear that leads us to hate the other. I don’t want to hate – I want to love. I want to include. I want to be Christ – but you can’t do that when you fear someone.

  12. That was just the most astoundingly beautiful thing I have read out of ALL the streams of plebiscite articles. You are so beautifully blessed. Fear dispelling, truth declaring… thank you for sharing your story.

  13. Thank you Anna for such a thoughtful and deeply grounded piece, beautifully written.
    I’m a bit of a lapsed Christian, still just hanging on a little. I don’t myself believe that same-sex relationships are contrary to following Jesus, and I know that is open for debate. But irrespective of that, I’m astounded at the number of people who seem to think that Christian precepts should be enshrined in law and apply to all people; and that the mere presence of people who live differently is somehow a threat. And I’m disappointed at how the control-freaky attitudes and behaviour of people in the name of Christ is painting such an ugly picture of Christianity for non-Christians. As your conversion story shows (and mine also does), we draw people to Christ by simply showing how differently and honourably we live, not by screaming in their faces.
    Thank you again.

  14. Thank you for this insightful work Anna. I found the story of your coming to a relationship with Jesus especially inspiring as I believe that our response to the question of same sex marriage and all of the big issues of our existence stem from that relationship. Jesus didn’t say a single thing about same sex marriage however he spoke volumes about our relationships with the world and with each other. Moses also was silent on the issue but Paul reminds us that God is love and all who live in love live in God and God lives in them.

  15. Friends, thankyou for commenting your journeys, disagreements, resonances and struggles. I’m grateful for them all.
    For those believers offended by my position, please know it was not my intention to vilify. I wrote as an ambassador of the church, one who has actively lived biblical values, been transformed by God’s love, and who deeply loves her church family. I do not condemn you, your walk, or your vote.
    I do, however, seek reconciliation with our brothers and sisters who don’t hold the same beliefs.
    I pray we walk in peace, and I am grateful for all voices.

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