A wonderful expose that might help you see more clearly the issues around marriage equality,
Supporting Same-Sex Marriage
as a heterosexual, Bible-believing, Baptist Pastor
by the Revd Nathan Nettleton
Although the author of this chapter is an ordained Baptist pastor, the opinions expressed here are his personal views and are
not seeking to represent the official position of any union of Baptist churches or the majority opinion of Baptist people.
This chapter has been published in the book:
Speak Now : Australian perspectives on same-sex marriage
Edited by Victor Marsh, PhD
Publisher: Clouds of Magellan –
Publication Date: 2011 in paperback and most ebook formats
Marriage equality for same-sex couples is often portrayed as being an agenda pushed only by those
who oppose the Christian faith and despise heterosexual marriage. At best, that is a gross
generalisation, and I am one of the many exceptions. I am a married, heterosexual, evangelical
Christian pastor and theologian who supports legislative amendment to allow same-sex couples the
right to formalise their commitments in the legally-recognised covenant of marriage.
Since biases and vested interests are almost inevitable in this debate, it is necessary to begin by
acknowledging where I come from. I was not always a supporter of gays in the church. Far from it.
As a fifteen year old, I was targeted disturbingly, but fortunately not very successfully, by a sexual
predator who was an older male friend of my family. That experience left me with a hatred of
homosexuals, and as a conservative Christian, it was easy to find biblical justifications for my fear
and hostility. But I married young and my wife left me for another man before I was twenty four,
and as a divorcee, I found myself in a category of people who, according to my own biblical
conservatism, were ruled out of marrying and confined to lifelong celibacy.
It was out there in that wilderness, and chaffing against the unfairness of it, that I began to look
around to see who else was similarly excluded. Who else was marginalised and left without hope of
acceptance by the kind of thinking I had embraced? For a conservative and homophobic young
Christian, finding that I was standing alongside the gay community was a bit of a shock. But now
that I was being told that the Christian thing for me to do was give up sexual intimacy forever, I
could see the injustice of what I had previously demanded of gay people. I recognised that they
didn’t choose to be gay any more than I chose to be divorced, and that they couldn’t become
straight any more than I could become un-divorced. So I could relate to their alienation, even
though I’ve never been able to relate to being sexually attracted to men. I find it hard enough to
understand why women would be sexually attracted to men!
A few years down the track, with my theology maturing into something that took the Bible a lot
more seriously (although not nearly so loudly), I fell in love with a girl in one of my theological
classes and was soon thinking about re-marriage. I was reminded that it was still not acceptable to
many of my evangelical brothers and sisters, because when I was accepted for ordination, some
members of the selection committee declared that although they thought that in all other respects I
was an excellent candidate, they had to vote against my acceptance because I would not rule out re-
marrying. So, while I had discovered in the crucified and risen Christ a grace that could welcome
and celebrate new life after death, I remained very aware of what it feels like to live in the morally
ambiguous space that is created by such grace.
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