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“Would the Beer Drinking Christians Just Shut Up!”

You’d think a Bible Society video featuring beer drinking might upset some people because of the consumption of alcohol. 

But you’d be wrong. 

Instead, a recent Bible Society video featuring a respectful discussion about same sex marriage – over a Cooper’s Ale, no less - has caused a media firestorm. 

Cooper’s Ale is facing a backlash on social media and at many a local pub, over perceived support of homophobia.  The Guardian website writes:

“Though the [Bible Society video] launched on 9 March to little fanfare, it was met with backlash as the video circulated at the weekend, with the #BoycottCoopers hashtag appearing on Twitter on Saturday.”

In response, Coopers released a video not only distancing themselves from the video, but also from the Bible Society, saying they have ‘cancelled the release of their Bible Society commemorative (beer) cans’.

And yet, the Bible Society video is anything but homophobic. It features prominent gay spokesman and Liberal MP Tim Wilson putting forward his view of why marriage should be redefined to include gay couples. It also features Wilson’s fellow Liberal MP, Andrew Hastie, discussing why marriage should be left unchanged.  

It’s a respectful discussion over a light ale – and therein lies the problem: it publicly airs a view that opposes SSM. 

So what should Australian Christians learn from this meltdown? Here are 5 things we should consider:

1. Christians must come to terms with living in a post-Christian Australia. Suspicion –at times even hostility – is the new normal.  

Australia has changed. 

Whilst we could argue that the ‘silent majority’ are still sympathetic to the Christian worldview (at the least those aged over 45), much of the educated elite and the under 30’s view Christianity with suspicion, if not hostility. 

In 2010 the Labor party’s official platform – without much controversy -   was that marriage was between a man and a woman. Fast forward to 2017, and even the most respectful video presenting the same view causes a Twitter melt down. 

This is our new reality. 

Have we Christians come to terms with it? Do we really understand what’s going on? Or are  we just burying our heads? 

After centuries of living in a religiously tolerant West, we have much to learn from corners of the Bible such as 1 Peter. 
Secondly, we need to understand the political reality we’re in: 

2. The Public Square is not ‘neutral’ or ‘secular’. Rather, it’s a ‘battleground of gods’.

As we see the fallout this video has caused in the public square, we need to come to terms with an important issue: the public square is not ‘neutral’, or even ‘secular’. There is no ‘neutral’ public square, because there are no religiously ‘neutral’ people. We’re all worshippers – whether we belong (in the words of Augustine) to the community of the ‘heavenly city’ that worships God, or whether we belong to the community of the ‘earthly city’, which worships idols. [1] 

Thus the public square is a ‘battleground of gods’, as Christian scholar Jonathan Leeman puts it, ‘each vying to push the levers of power in its favour.’ [2] 

And what we’re seeing over the video backlash is the ‘god’ of the sexual revolution flexing its muscles and dominating more and more of the public square, to the exclusion of all other ‘gods’:  

3. The ‘gods’ of the sexual revolution want to dominate the public square, and punish any dissent. 

Whilst the Christian God has been the dominant player in the Western public square, He has been challenged over the last 50 years, and even more so in the last decade. The sexual revolution is the new ‘god on the block’, and it’s followers have no time for the Christian God, or any of His views on sexuality. 

For the sexual revolutionary, Christians are welcome to practice their sexuality in their own bedroom, but to advocate for a Christian view of marriage – let alone sexuality – in the public square is blasphemous.

Which has been shown – yet again – by the media firestorm evoked by an innocuous, respectful,  Bible Society video. 

So if this is what happens when same sex marriage is illegal, what will happen if same sex marriage becomes legal

Coopers Bible Society Video 2017 Source Vimeo 671X377 Bible Society

4. If SSM becomes legal, so will the legal punishment of open dissent. No, this is not alarmist: it’s logical.

It’s naieve to think that once SSM becomes legal, we’ll be able to openly discuss the Christian view of marriage and sexuality without legal punishment. 

We’ve seen yet again how the sexual revolution is willing to impose it’s vision of marriage and sexuality on Australia culturally, through social media shaming and boycotts. (And it works, judging by the Coopers response.)

But its next step is to impose its vision on Australia legally. We’ve been put on notice: public dissent is not tolerated now, and so public dissent won’t be tolerated if SSM becomes law. 

So what should Christians do? 

5. The pressure for Christians to remain silent is Immense. But now is the time to speak up,  for the sake of our neighbours. 

It’s never fun being told that you’re living in a warzone. But that’s the nature of our pluralistic society: there are many ‘gods’ vying for power. 

So what should Christians do? Remain silent, whilst the sexual revolutionaries take over, and impose their views on society? Or do what the Bible Society has done, speaking to the issue in a thoughtful and respectful way? 

If we remain silent, it won’t just be Christians who will be affected. Those on the margins of our society are most at risk:  The voiceless Syrian refugees, whose kids are taught the Safe Schools programme against their wishes; the Aboriginal church, who are told they can no longer meet in the local school hall because of their Christian view of sexuality; the Afghan baker, who is taken to court because he declines to bake a cake for a same sex wedding. 

It’s one thing for wealthy white Aussie churches – with connections and money – to deal with the sexual revolutionaries. It’s another thing for voiceless minorities to do the same. 

It’s one thing for wealthy white Aussie churches to deal with the sexual revolutionaries. It’s another thing for voiceless minorities.

Our silence in the public square – the  ‘battleground of gods’ – only helps the revolution in its totalitarian impulse. 

But that’s not all. 

Behind every sexual revolutionary is a human being, made in the image of God, crying out for meaning and love.  And so we need to point them to the only One who can give them the love they so desperately crave. A love that is genuinely better than anything the sexual revolution could ever provide. 

Living Faithfully 

As we speak the truth in love, we will encounter hostility from the worshippers of other gods.  But we will also encounter hungry people, who will hear the revolutionary call of the gospel, and realise that their false god doesn’t satisfy, but Jesus Christ does. 

So, we need to learn to live faithfully in the battleground of the gods. Whether the beer companies support us, or not. 

“Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2


[1] Augustine, City of God, XIII, 54.

[2] Jonathan Leeman, Political Church – The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016), 50. 

Akos Balogh is the Executive Director of the The Gospel Coalition Australia.You can reach him on twitter via @akosbaloghcom, or at his blog akosbalogh.com

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