There are some who passionately pursue a reshaping of Australia according to their liking. They relentlessly lobby the government to change legislation that will, if they succeed, force their will upon the Australian people.
This is what is happening with the push for same sex marriage around the world. Although a majority of those who voted in Ireland on the issue, it was only 36% of the population who voted ‘Yes’. In the USA same sex marriage was imposed upon the American people through a 5–4 majority decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. In both cases the State has increased its influence over both people’s personal and family lives, and their consciences. This is what some in Australia are working towards.
In Bonhoeffer’s classic book, The Cost of Discipleship, lawyer Gerhard Leibholz commenting on Bonhoeffer said, “All kinds of secular totalitarianism which force man to cast aside his religious and moral obligations to God and subordinate the laws of justice and morality to the State are incompatible with his [Bonhoeffer’s] conception of life.”
Bonhoeffer’s Christian convictions lead him to be involved in the resistance to Germany’s Nazi dictatorship. On April 1943 he was arrested and imprisoned. He was ultimately charged for his association with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and found guilty in a short trial. He was executed by hanging on 9 April 1945.
Metaxas’ biography is a good read, but quite challenging. It asks the question of what it means to be a responsible citizen and Christian. This is just as appropriate for us in Australia today as it was for Bonhoeffer in Hitler’s Germany. Are we among those who will stand for life in all areas of our society? How should we, and the church, best respond to the adverse forces at work in Australia today?
Perhaps the most profound thing we learn from Bonhoeffer is not that he spoke out against Hitler, but that he was faithful to what he believed God was calling him to. He willingly risked security, approval, freedom and ultimately life for what he believed was right.
Are we willing to do the same? That is the challenge!
Stephen L Baxter