Unchristian soldiers


Brigadier Jim Wallace AM is executive chairman of an organisation called the Australian Christian Lobby. The moniker ‘Christian soldier’ seems to aptly describe him. Brigadier Wallace was active in the recent campaign to ensure that the Marriage Act 1958 was amended – not only to expressly define ‘marriage’ as being between a man and a woman, but to dictate that marriages of same-sex couples under the laws of countries such as Canada and the Netherlands must not be recognised under Australian law.

In a message written by Brigadier Wallace to encourage attendance at a ‘Marriage Forum’ at Parliament House in Canberra on 5 August 2004, this Christian soldier wrote:

‘[the homosexual lobby]was not just after equality in social benefits and entitlements, they are without doubt aiming to remove every vestige of our Christian heritage which they find so offensive’.

Brigadier Wallace apparently got what he wanted. On Friday 13 August the federal Parliament passed these amendments to the Marriage Act. The bill was signed into law by the Governor-General the following Monday. ‘Our Christian heritage’ was saved and ‘they’ were defeated.

The casualties of this victory?

A large minority of Australians will continue to be denied access to one of the fundamental legal institutions in our society. Marriage is certainly a religious institution (one central to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and many faiths other than Christianity). But is also arguably as important a legal institution as constitutional democracy, liberty, due process, and rights over property. Should one person’s religious beliefs be the basis upon which another should be excluded from such an important bundle of legal rights and obligations? The distinction between religion and law also took more than a shrapnel wound.

The passage of this legislation effectively guillotined legal proceedings in at least two cases before the Family Court of Australia, where judicial recognition was being sought under Australian law of same-sex marriages solemnised in Canada. The judicial arm of government – that guardian of Constitutional and common law rights, that counterbalance to executive government excess – was thereby silenced.

In short, a second class of citizenry has been clearly delineated, the separation of church and state has been blurred, and the due process of law has been interfered with. Something to be proud of, Brigadier. But was this a war worth fighting?

Absolutely not. Brigadier Wallace, you were right. ‘They’ were not just after equality in social benefit and entitlements. ‘They’ were after equality before the law. You were also wrong, Brigadier. ‘They’ were not ‘aiming to remove every vestige’ of your Christian heritage. ‘They’ were aiming to remove every vestige of legal discrimination. ‘They’ do not find your ‘Christian heritage’ offensive – only those who claim to march behind Christ, yet ignore his instruction to treat others as they would wish to be treated themselves.

All the Christian soldiers who fought alongside Brigadier Wallace to achieve this particular ‘victory’ should go back to their Bibles, and read well the accounts of Christ’s teachings given to us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They will find no references whatsoever to homosexuality or same-sex relationships. They will, however, find a powerful message of love, respect and dignity for all of God’s children, by all of God’s children.

As I see it, those who fight for anything else are not Christians worthy of the name.

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.