Coming in September, Australians will be given the chance to tell the government their opinions on whether same sex couples should be allowed to wed. Brian Houston, head of the Hillsong Church movement, is encouraging his Australian congregants to voice their opinions—“whatever your view” on same sex marriage.
“I believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Houston iterated in a statement on the upcoming state-sponsored poll. However, the megachurch pastor acknowledges others may disagree with this view.
“As a Christian pastor, I will always teach and preach according to Scripture and my personal convictions, but I cannot make other people’s choices for them. God created humanity with a free will, and I care about all people including those who believe differently to me.”
The Call for a Civil Debate
Houston is concerned people on both sides of the debate have been less than civil to those who disagree with them. Some, he says, have confused “faith convictions with bigotry,” while others “use Christianity to alienate and even condemn those who are gay.” He urges both sides to respect and seek to understand the opposing side.
The short statement doesn’t delve into the intricacies of the debate and what legalizing same-sex marriage could do to Australian society and government. Instead, Houston places the emphasis on the need for Christians to voice their opinions on the subject in hopes of realizing an outcome consistent with their beliefs. He is concerned the “silent majority” who believes in traditional marriage let “more aggressive voices” control the public dialogue.
“All Australians should be a part of this process, not just a select few,” Houston emphasizes.
The Postal Plebiscite
In September, Australian citizens will receive a plebiscite in the mail, which is a sort of formal poll the government takes to discern where citizens stand on a certain issue. It is not a vote and cannot change the law at this point. Rather, it is more of a litmus test to determine whether the country feels it’s time to change the laws on marriage.
According to Lifehacker.com, Australians will be asked, “Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?” and will only be allowed to answer with a “Yes” or “No”.
The surveys will be mailed on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. Citizens have until October 27, 2017, to mail their surveys back.
While Houston urges Christians they “should not waste this opportunity,” regardless of how the vote goes, it will be all right. He reminds congregants there are other Hillsong churches that operate in countries where gay marriage is legal and they will continue to do so if Australia goes that way as well.