Peter Dutton has made a serious error in his comments regarding Thorburn and Essendon
It’s one thing for the Essendon ‘Bombers’ Football Club to score a direct hit on their regrettably Christian CEO, Andrew Thorburn, blowing up his career on day one. It’s another for the Premier of Victoria, a vicious hater of the church, to toss gratuitous grenades at the banished man to ensure he’s dead, buried and cremated. No surprises there – but why does the hope of the side, our federal Liberal leader, Peter Dutton, then drop the A-bomb on Thorburn’s church? Can he not hear the explosion reverberating through the LNP and the Christian constituency? That is the most bewildering element of this sorry saga.
The facts are well known. As the ABC reported, ‘Mr Thorburn’s resignation comes after it emerged the church he leads has published a series of articles critical of homosexuality and abortion.’ Seriously? That is as unremarkable as the ABC publishing a series of articles supportive of homosexuality and abortion. It’s called diversity of opinion and the inalienable liberty of thought, conscience, and religion.
Thorburn, former CEO of the National Australia Bank, chairs an Anglican-linked church called ‘City on a Hill’ – a phrase from the Sermon on the Mount about keeping Christian teaching in public view, not hidden. Some forensic ferret made sure the public got a good view of comments by the church’s pastors that could embarrass Thorburn by association.
First, a comment about abortion on demand, evoking other eras of violent dehumanisation: ‘As today, we look back at the brutality of concentration camps and racially inspired violence, so future generations will look back at our day with disgust at the brutality taking place in our clinics: legalised, state-sponsored execution.’
Second, a comment confirming bog-standard Christian teaching on sex and marriage: ‘Lust is a sin, sex outside of marriage is a sin, practising homosexuality is a sin, but same-sex attraction is not a sin.’
Enter Peter Dutton, who heard these comments and unleashed with a bizarre ferocity: ‘The views that have been expressed by a pastor at this church in relation to gay people, or to the issue of abortion – they’re an abomination and I condemn those points that have been made by that particular pastor.’
That’s as brutal as it gets. Sure, Dutton did well to call for Thorburn to be reappointed as CEO and decried ‘the fact that an individual can be sacked from a position because of his religious belief’. But hey, those beliefs are an abomination!
As far as I can recall off-hand, that archaic word has only been used twice before in all of recorded history. Once was in my 2019 article in The Speccie on late-term abortion with the editor’s sub-heading, ‘The NSW abortion law is an abomination’. The other was in 1200 BC when that hard man Moses laid down the law on homosexual sodomy: ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.’ (Leviticus 18:12).
Interestingly, while Moses came here with the First Fleet, the King James Bible was not the only book on board. There was also William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1769), which guided the colony’s courts and legislators. On the matter referred to so discouragingly by Moses, this great British jurist was even more negative, calling it ‘an offence of so dark a nature… a disgrace to human nature… a crime not fit to be named’. But Mr Dutton would tell Blackstone his legal and moral judgements are an abomination. Cheeky fellow.
Lawmakers need to be hard-minded, but ever since that famous scene where Jesus shamed the Mosaic lawmakers into laying off the woman caught in adultery – ‘Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone’ – the Christian instinct is to temper a hard mind with a soft heart. That, surely, is what the City on a Hill statement on sex and marriage does. By distinguishing between same-sex attraction, which is nobody’s choice and carries no moral culpability, and homosexual acts, which are a choice like any other sexual act, this statement shows the same balance of faithful moral teaching and pastoral sensitivity as we find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Let’s put it out there, because if Mr Dutton wants to abominate the beliefs of Thorburn’s pastors, he needs to stop picking on the little fella and abominate the billion members of the Catholic Church too. And the Orthodox. And the Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals, whatever, whose sincere and serious moral understanding of sex and marriage has been treated with contempt by the alternative prime minister.
First, the Catechism’s unflinching teaching: ‘Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” … Under no circumstances can they be approved.’
Then straight away, the pastoral understanding: ‘The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided…. Homosexual persons are called to chastity… they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.’
This is the same Church which is the largest non-government provider of hospital and hospice care for Aids sufferers in the world.
In my 2016 book against same-sex marriage, Stealing from a Child, I noted ‘a willingness to use the force of law to abolish from the public square, and ultimately from the private mind, any moral or religious objection to homosexual acts’.
Acquiring the legal power to intimidate dissenters, especially pastors, was always the main game behind normalising homosexual ‘marriage’. Now we see the willingness of woke corporates like Essendon to use their coercive power to the same illiberal end.
Our opposition leader has further intimidated Christian people by his heavy-handed condemnation of timeless moral teaching. Many such citizens will more readily abandon the LNP leader than abandon their beliefs.
An apology would be wise.