For goodness sake

I was hoping Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s comments on Q&A Monday night would be forgotten and we could all pretend it didn’t happen. Not because it wasn’t important. It was. Rather because it isn’t helpful. I’ll explain in a moment. First, allow me to make a few comments on what happened.

Why is this significant?

There are several reasons this interchange was important. First, the Australian Prime Minister publicly ridiculed Christianity as a lie and a hoax. He did so by dismissing any sort of meaningful interpretation of the Scriptures with a “for goodness sake!” and thrown up hands. This is rank unbelief of the same magnitude as the theological Liberalism of previous centuries. To hold that the Bible is a stack of myths and legends cobbled together with no regard for the truth is an underhanded attack on everything Christianity is and is about. It is not an uncommon view, but it is an utter rejection of the Christian faith which is a propositional faith built on a propositional text.

Second, the Australian Prime Minister publicly misrepresented Christianity. His words were “The Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition because St. Paul said in the New Testament ‘slaves be obedient to your masters.’ … What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man.” These statements simply aren’t true. Scripture does not endorse slavery. Even in ancient cultures where slavery was a normal way of life, Israel’s theocratically instituted civil law was careful to regulate slavery to ensure fair treatment and ultimate release. Paul’s statements in Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22 don’t endorse slavery in the least. Paul never endorsed slavery. For those who understand anything about the historical context, the slightest indication from Paul could have easily led to a mass uprising and the slaughter of countless souls not to mention the politicisation of Christianity and a resulting inability to preach the gospel. Even Martin Luther experienced this when his words were twisted to support the Peasants’ War resulting in the deaths of more than 100,000 people. Paul’s purpose was not social agitation but the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To misunderstand this as endorsement of slavery is an amateur mistake.

Third, the Australian Prime Minister scored cheap points at the expense of a religious minority. Q&A is hardly a debate. The questioner had a hostile audience, an irenic posture, and no right of reply. But this didn’t stop the Prime Minister from misrepresenting, ridiculing, and insulting Christianity. Rather, he patronised Christianity by placing himself as one and more than that, as a spokesman for Christianity in the very act of savaging it. Our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, would never have dared treat a minority with such insensitivity and she was an atheist!

Why this isn’t helpful

With all that said, why don’t I think the question was helpful? First, the election is about choosing a prime minister, not a pastor. As a theologian, Kevin Rudd is clueless. But this election isn’t about his theological prowess. It’s about his character, his ability to govern well, and his policy.

Second, the intent of the question is unclear. Was he trying to help Kevin Rudd recognise that he is not Christian and call him to faith and repentance? If so, this was not the time or place. He knew full well he wouldn’t get a chance to argue his case so his question needed to be clear and political. A helpful question might have gone something like this: “I’m a Christian pastor who holds that gay marriage is unbiblical. If you are elected, will you protect my right to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding?”

Third, if you’re wanting to have a go at Rudd, bringing the issue of same-sex marriage to the centre of the campaign probably isn’t hurting him as much as you think. This incident—for better or for worse—made Rudd look good to the majority of voters and for the very reason this pastor seemed to oppose him.


Prime Minister Rudd’s comments were inappropriate and offensive to a large minority of Australians whom he chose to ridicule rather than respectfully disagree with. It is the ironic bigotry of forced-tolerance.

Let us pray that our response may demonstrate that we love God and his gospel more than any political issue or outcome.

May we vote conscientiously and then go on with our lives quietly and peacefully, remembering that our first citizenship is in another world.

Grace to you.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


  1. Greg Gorton 5 September, 2013 at 11:41 am - Reply

    Did you watch Q & A? Because to say KR misrepresented the bible is completely wrong, in my opinion. He simply pointed out that the interpretation of the bible as being against gay marriage (in the way that was done by that pastor) can also lend itself to an interpretation that supports Slavery. Perhaps he did not do it in the best way, but the motivation was clear.
    He even went on to point out the TRUE message of the bible, being one of LOVE not LAW.

    I, as a Christian, was actually impressed by the LACK of ridicule of Christians he gave, only ridicule of the poor argumentation of the man who tried to represent himself as speaking for all pastors (in fact, at one point he almost went to claim that all church leaders agree with him, before bringing up the controversial statements of Paul).

    Now, by the WAY he approached the answer, avoiding the “Christ is God” issue, suggests to me a lack of personal faith by Rudd, but as that was not the issue being presented, instead it being the support of gay marriage and if that support is against the Bible.

  2. Jason Harris 5 September, 2013 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the comment Greg.

    I watched the interchange several times. Your interpretation would be redemptive for Rudd. I went back to have a closer look and what I came across is this. In this interview, he clarifies that his point was that we cannot take many of the statements of Scripture seriously. Such “biblicism” is, in his mind, ridiculous. And “if [his position] offends some people, so be it.” His attack, therefore, is against a normal interpretation of the Bible.

    His comments about love were worse. The message of Scripture is God and his gospel. And that includes the glory of God’s anger against sin and then the glory of his redemptive love for sinners. But I suspect he was alluding to Jesus’ summary of the law which is love for God first. And then love for mankind. To twist that to inherently support same-sex eroticism is neither reasonable nor decent. The same logic would support polyamory, pedophilia, etc.

    I agree with you that the pastor’s argument was lame. And that’s a fourth reason why this wasn’t helpful.

  3. Paul 5 September, 2013 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Romans 1:21-29
    That is to say, that all of us may be comforted together by the faith which is in you and in me. You may be certain, my brothers, that it has frequently been in my mind to come to you (but till now I was kept from it), so that I might have some fruit from you in the same way as I have had it from the other nations. I have a debt to Greeks and to the nations outside; to the wise and to those who have no learning. For which reason I have the desire, as far as I am able, to give the knowledge of the good news to you who are in Rome. For I have no feeling of shame about the good news, because it is the power of God giving salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first, and then to the Greek. For in it there is the revelation of the righteousness of God from faith to faith:as it is said in the holy Writings, The man who does righteousness will be living by his faith. For there is a revelation of the wrath of God from heaven against all the wrongdoing and evil thoughts of men who keep down what is true by wrongdoing; Because the knowledge of God may be seen in them, God having made it clear to them. For from the first making of the world, those things of God which the eye is unable to see, that is, his eternal power and existence, are fully made clear, he having given the knowledge of them through the things which he has made, so that men have no reason for wrongdoing: Because, having the knowledge of God, they did not give glory to God as God, and did not give praise, but their minds were full of foolish things, and their hearts, being without sense, were made dark. Seeming to be wise, they were in fact foolish, And by them the glory of the eternal God was changed and made into the image of man who is not eternal, and of birds and beasts and things which go on the earth. For this reason God gave them up to the evil desires of their hearts, working shame in their bodies with one another: Because by them the true word of God was changed into that which is false, and they gave worship and honour to the thing which is made, and not to him who made it, to whom be blessing for ever. So be it. For this reason God gave them up to evil passions, and their women were changing the natural use into one which is unnatural: And in the same way the men gave up the natural use of the woman and were burning in their desire for one another, men doing shame with men, and getting in their bodies the right reward of their evil- doing. And because they had not the mind to keep God in their knowledge, God gave them up to an evil mind, to do those things which are not right; Being full of all wrongdoing, evil, desire for the goods of others, hate, envy, putting to death, fighting, deceit, cruel ways, evil talk, and false statements about others.

  4. Paul 5 September, 2013 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    1 Tim 1:8-11
    Of course, we know that the law is good if a person uses it legitimately, that is, if he understands that the law is not intended for righteous a people but for lawbreakers and rebels, for ungodly people and sinners, for those who are unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers, their mothers, or other people, for those involved in sexual immorality, for homo sexuals, for kidnappers, a for liars, for false witnesses, and for whatever else goes against the healthy teaching that agrees with the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

    • Jason Harris 5 September, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      Are you intending to make some point by quoting these passages? If so, the point is not readily apparent to me.

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