Spoke this morning to Eternity newspaper about Living with the Enemy.

Presumably ‘changing views’ isn’t why you signed up to this – particularly at least not to change your own view. What did you want the ‘other side’, as the documentary portrays it, to hear from you?

I’m not sure that I wanted them to so much hear something from me, because I’m sure these two guys, in fact I’m absolutely sure, that they’ve heard a lot of it before. What I wanted the opportunity to have some serious discussion about the point of view that conservatives are putting forward—to have them engaged with rather than shouted down.

That was my great desire, to actually have conversations like ‘What is your new definition of marriage? Articulate it for me. Tell me why it has the boundaries that it does.’ And on stuff like that, sadly, I actually didn’t get substantive engagement. And actually, it left me disappointed that— surely out there, there must be someone who has a more comprehensive and consistent argument and position on this. But I don’t know where they are yet. We’re not seeing it.

So I was hopeful that we might have that more sustained engagement, and a deeper conversation but I was gently disappointed, although perhaps not surprised that we actually never got there.

Do you think this serves to cement already-held views, or will it start a different conversation? Look I hope possibly it will encourage people to have a go at having conversations. There will always be people on both sides of any argument who are dug in and just don’t want to hear and just don’t want to listen and engage. And in one sense you can’t help that. But any discussion like this really is aiming the middle ground, and the soft positions on either side. And it’s a ‘look, come on there is more we can say about this. And actually there’s things we can do together to change the tone and the style of the conversation’ and there’s things that we can learn and take back to our ‘own sides’—that’s bad language but there you go—and say that, as we’re having these discussions, here’s some things you can bear in mind. And actually a big thing for me was I was reminded in a very clear way of the real pain that many gay and lesbian men and women feel over their identity and the way that people talk about their identity, and their perception of rejection‑whether they’re valid or not, we might think— the pain is still there nevertheless. That means that we as Christians, I think, have got to be doubly careful of how we say what we say. We’re always going to upset people, often, with the position that we take. But we can take responsibility and be careful about how we say what we say, and the way that we treat people. So that kind of thing hopefully will come positively out of this show. I hope this encourages people on the other side of the debate to think again about the labels that they use and how quick they are to jump to calling people fundamentalists, bigots, haters and the rest of it. And then that will have served its purpose, I think. To help society have better conversations.

Read it all.

15 comments on “#LWTE interview with Eternity Newspaper

    • I dunno, I just can’t imagine Jesus having hurt people with the truth. The ‘truth’ is meant to free us, not ‘hurt’ us.

      In any case I think David did a great thing and modelled a good method for engaging with people we disagree with;enter their world and invite them into ours.

      • thanks for the kind words, Greg.
        I’m not sure I would be so absolute on the “love = not hurting”. Sometimes the truth spoken in love does bring sorrow. I have this in mind:

        2Cor. 7:8-10 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

        10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

        I don’t think we can deny that
        1. The Apostle had deep love for the Corinthian.
        2. His message hurt them.

    • Although David and I are world’s apart on theology, I like him! Dunno why…maybe because I’m such a nice person and have so few people who disagree with me, I enjoy meeting someone intelligent with a bulldog attitude who differs from me

  1. How does a comment I made on Greg Colby’s ‘post’ end up on this site? I have no interest whatsoever in this website.

  2. David – the point from the other side is, we shouldn't have to explain, qualify, justify and understand the views of those against marriage equality. If we can respect your right to beliefs we don't share, freedom to raise your children as you wish and a life free from interference based on a differing POV, why cannot you do the same? In my personal view, raising children in religious households before they are old enough to form their own informed opinions is reprehensible. Instilling in a young person the notion of original sin is akin to child abuse. You have no facts-based evidence for your views.
    Yet you don't see me or the many others who share that belief mounting campaigns to have your children removed. We believe how you live your life undermines ours in no way amd therefore leave you in peace. We simply ask for the same courtesy. You don't have to agree.
    Three questions-
    A) Historically, marriage predates Christianity. Where in time did the church co-opt 'marriage' and assume to dictate the terms for all, regardless of belief? You have no claim to it.
    B) If you abide the belief that God is the Almighty and will judge us all in the end, what is to be gained by campaigning against the civil rights of others?
    C) How does any of this fit in with "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," "Thou shalt not judge," etc. Please point me to one singular bible reference that clearly addresses or justifies the active anti-marriage equality stance.
    D) What do you actual think will happen if same-sex marriage is allowed? (Between 2 consenting adults. None of the usual crap about bestiality, paedophilia etc).
    Thanks for listening (I hope).

  3. hi Erin,

    Thanks for your comment. Really appreciate the engagement. You raise a number of good points that I'll try to respond to.

    First, I think it's good for all of us, no matter what the issue is, to seek to understand those we are opposed to. This debate is sadly one where there is little effort to understand the "other side". But that's a poor position to be in because it doesn't show due respect to each other. Far better to seek to understand what the other party is saying and consider whether there is anything that needs to be addressed and (obviously!) to address it. Surely we're not so insecure as to not be willing to subect our positions to examination and critique?

    As for "a life free from interference based on a differing POV" I fear that you dismiss the democratic contract that many liberal democracies have. We all have different opinions about many different things and the beauty of a democracy is that we seek to persuade others about those matters that we think are important for our society as a whole. But part of the democratic contract is that we have effectively agreed to allow each other to "interfere" in each other's lives through the ballot box. We vote for representatives who then legislate on our behalf. My right to vote for whoever I choose is also my implied consent to abide by the decisions of whichever government is elected. My life is interfered with every day by people I disagree with through this system. But it's better than anarchy.

    As for raising children in religious homes – you raise the question of "facts-based evidence". Do you mean "facts that demonstrate that religious claims are true" or "facts that demonstate that raising children in a religious household is beneficial"?

    Just out of interest, do you therefore think that parents have no rights at all to teach their children any values or beliefs at all? That would, after all, be the only consistent position you could take.

    In answer to your particular questions:
    A) I don't think it does. The Bible sees marriage as the original institution given by God (Genesis 2). More generally we live in a culture that has (for better or worse) taken on many Biblical/Christian assumptions. Now, I see that you are arguing that the link ought to be now removed. Fair enough.
    B) It's not so much campaigning against the civil rights of others but, rather, campaigning for structures in our society that we believe are most beneficial. Marriage is an institution that many people of different opinions think is very important. We're simpy saying that the received understanding is a useful and consistent one. We see that others are arguing for massive change but aren't actually providing a substantive alternative definition. Out of interest, what would be your revised definition of what marriage is and (even more importantly) why?
    C) Jesus statement "let he who is without sin…" i(John 8) s a challenge to those who would charge others as sinners with no admission that they themselves are also sinners. I am more than happy to testify that I am a great sinner. His statement to "not judge" (from the Sermon on the Mount) is a charge that we do not place ourselves in a position of judgement over others without presuming that we ourselves will also be judged (by God). Again, I am more than happy to declare that God is my judge and I am no man's moral superior. In terms of our contribution to the public debate, it is driven by the conviction that God knows best (see A) above) and that Jesus affirms that position (as He does in Matt 19, Mark 10). But we also would point out that the best research (using proper samples and carried out over extended periods of time) reinforce this position.
    D) It's an excellent question. It will dilute the understanding of marriage. It will sever the link between marriage and children. It will promote a situation where we legislate massive social change without an actual proper debate on the intricacies of the issue. It will impact massively upon freedom of speech, rendering it legally precarious for anyone to make a statement about the morality (as they understand it) of same-sex behaviour. And, frankly, there's no reason why it should be just 2 people – can you provide one?

    Thanks for the comment. Sorry for the lengthy reply. I guess that always happens when people ask good involved questions!

  4. David, I love this…”the pain is still there nevertheless. That means that we as Christians, I think, have got to be doubly careful of how we say what we say. We’re always going to upset people, often, with the position that we take. But we can take responsibility and be careful about how we say what we say, and the way that we treat people. ”

    Well said and well done champ.

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