All of the votes are in for the federal plebiscite on the definition of marriage. In the middle of next week the results will be revealed, and whichever way it goes the fallout is unlikely to be pretty.
Around 80% of those eligible to vote sent in a ballot paper. Since truth is the first casualty in any war, we can wonder just how many of those 80% actually knew the implications of how they voted. Emotionalism was rife, and many didn't have the patience to wade through the intellectual and logical arguments.
The line I found hardest to swallow was that a Yes vote would change nothing beyond permitting a minority to express their love. Consulting the recent histories of those countries who have changed the definition of marriage shows that this is a falsehood.
It would be so good to see a Brexit or Trump-like result, where the underdog vote wins and the matter is put to rest for good.
Whatever the voting result is, we are left with a level of national disunity that we've never had before. Each side seems incapable of listening to the other side, and there's no room for grey in the middle.
It has been a truism up until now that our country was too full of apathy to ever have a civil war, but now I'm not so sure. On both sides, the culture of life and the culture of death, have both been strengthened by the plebiscite process. The prophecy that once looked so strange, (that the final battle of our era would be fought about marriage and the family), doesn't look so strange any more.
Even prior to the outcome of the plebiscite we've already seen the persecution of people upholding the pre-historical truth that marriage is about one man and one woman for life. In the past I've read about the totalitarian regimes of history and considered that such thought policing couldn't happen here – but I was wrong, and sadly I've already seen it. Someone we know was almost removed of their duties because on an internal company forum they voiced an opinion different to the popularist one. It was only because the legislation has not yet been enacted that the employment was saved, and due to a good lawyer.
You have to see the irony of a corporation going on about being an inclusive institution, and then not permitting all points of view to co-exist.
An image that keeps recurring for me is that of a small child having a spectacular tantrum because the child wants something that would be harmful not only for the child but for the family and community too. The government in this image plays the parent. Will the government give into the sad brown eyes, the tears, the pleading of the child, and the big scene the child is making? Or will the government choose the long term good of all, child, family and community, and say No? It seems to me that every time 'culture of death' legislation is introduced, that this scenario plays out. Sadly there is a track record in both state and federal parliaments of giving in.
During the week the current battle will have an outcome, but the war will be far from over.
To bring back society to the culture of life is going to require the Benedict plan, prayer and work. The spiritual battle for hearts and minds is going on at the same time as the lobbying, the legislation drafting, the debating, social media posting and boardroom discussions. On both the prayer and the work fronts people of goodwill need to remain engaged. Prayer alone won't solve it. Work along won't solve it. But prayer and work together can be effective and ultimately win.
Those of us who value freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, free speech, freedom of religion and freedom of employment will need to band together closer than ever before, and pray and work together until the culture of life prevails over the culture of death. Be prepared for a long fight.
Heavenly Father we don't yet know the outcome of the federal plebiscite, but You do. Please protect our country from further inroads of the culture of death. Please raise up and gather together those prepared to fight for Your culture of life to prevail, with both prayer and work. Grant to them the heavenly strategies that will make a real difference. May Your kingdom at last reign upon earth, and may Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. May those who have been misled into traps laid by the culture of death be released and given freedom to walk the way of the culture of life. Amen.