Trending on social media the last few days is the controversy raised by a campaign and a conversation. This was a conversation that involved Buddies, Beer, and Bibles. The Bible Society of Australia is celebrating their 200th Anniversary and in commemoration of this occasion, Coopers Brewery will produce a special batch of limited edition light beer cans. A part of this celebration from the Bible Society’s end is the launch of a campaign called “Keeping it Light”. This was to be a series of “light discussions on the heaviest topics. Starting with the topic of same-sex marriage”.
The first conversation that took place was between two members of Parliament Tim Wilson (Member for Goldstein) and Andrew Hastie (Member for Canning). It was a helpful and respectful conversation in terms of the content. It was brief, so not all of the issues were raised, however it demonstrated the importance of civil and considerate debate and discussion, especially on hotly debated topics. Tim Wilson represented the view that marriage ought to include same-sex couples, whereas Andrew Hastie represented the view that marriage ought to be between a male and a female. Wilson is gay and identifies as an agnostic, whereas Hastie is a conservative Christian. This is a conversation that certainly needs to happen and be discussed in a civil manner. Both individuals articulated their views clearly and briefly assessed the opposing view.
There has been a public outcry making claims concerning homophobia and peoples intention to boycott Coopers beer. Because a discussion was had, it is the conclusion of many that this is intolerant and hateful towards those who affirm homosexuality. People can make their decision to boycott or not, but such outrage really is ridiculous. One clearly expects a diversity of opinions on a topic like this, but hate speech? Come on! The idea that two opposing views can be discussed in a respectful way is a good thing. Especially when both sides of the arguments are raised, listened to, and discussed. But when people cry hate speech simply because a topic is discussed is simply ludicrous and reveals a lack of understanding of the content actually being discussed.
Now as to some thoughts on the Bible Society running this campaign. It is a significant moment in history to approach a bicentennial anniversary. Adding to that, this is celebrating 200 years of distributing Bibles. This certainly should be celebrated, and with the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation being this year, I am all for looking for more creative ways of sharing God’s Word!
However, I question their judgment on the method they used. Though I recognise that Christians have varying views on alcohol, it is not my purpose in this post to argue for either of the views. That is ultimately not the issue. My concern is that this methodology of gimmicks easily besmirches, distracts, and confuses the message of the gospel. The gospel doesn’t need gimmicks. By itself, “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). As Christians we must be warm and winsome in our presentation of the Scripture. We can even be creative. But we must take care that we don’t do anything that takes away from the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so that in our sharing we “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10b).
The Bible is clear on the topic of same-sex marriage (click here to read some comments I have written on this before). The Bible clearly defines marriage as being between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24). The Christian is to bring glory to God and good to people by speaking with Biblical clarity, compassion, and conviction on this topic. The Scriptures are powerful. They are the Word of God. The Scriptures give us the good news of salvation found in Jesus Christ alone. Let us be willing and wise in our sharing of the gospel, but let us not feel the need to embrace gimmicks. The Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). We are to keep our conversation informed by the light of the Word of God.