What does civilizational decay look like? On Wednesday afternoon, Americans received a major warning sign that their Republic is teetering on the brink. It came in the unlikely form of a Senate cloture vote — a rather obscure parliamentary procedure that sets up the final passage of a bill in the Senate. But it wasn’t just any cloture vote, and it’s not just any bill under consideration.
I’m talking about the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, it is anything but that if you accept marriage as defined by God, and it just moved one step closer to President Biden’s desk, where it will certainly be signed into law. It passed cloture by a vote of 62-37, as 12 Republican senators joined Senate Democrats to throw “people of faith under the bus” — and possibly into prison.
Whether you realize it or not, marriage is one the best indicators of the health and stability of a nation. Just like buildings societies demand a stable foundation. Without one, they will crumble and crash, leaving a wreckage of human suffering and misery in the ruins.
No matter how hard progressives try to deny it, marriage is the irreplaceable foundation for stable societies. Not just any “marriage” but one man joining with one woman in a permanent, monogamous, committed union and dedicated to caring for any offspring such a union may produce.
“But the institution of marriage itself — in law, custom, and tradition — is intimately bound up with the act of creating and raising children. Marriage, at its core, is the social institution most fundamentally oriented towards procreation. It is God’s way, (he said societies way) of harnessing, binding, and supporting the relationship that creates a new life, and it gives the child produced from that union (and his or her parents) the best chance at a stable life.”
Why is marriage the bedrock of society? Because it is how humanity endures throughout the ages, just as God intended for it to be. Jesus, Himself reminds us of the inescapable gravity of marriage.
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:4-6
Now, Jesus is addressing divorce here, but the principle, which is that God-defined marriage is between one man and one woman for life, applies to the proposed redefinition of marriage that is now sailing through the United States Congress with the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act.” They are trying to separate “what God has joined together.”
If we start unraveling this thread, there is no telling where the stopping point may be. Well, we actually do have a stark and dark preview: “sex change” operations on teenagers at top hospitals around the country, “kid-friendly” drag shows in your small town, and the rise of the acceptance of pedophilia. When you cut the brakes on God’s design for human sexuality and flourishing you can soon expect to fly off the cliff and crash into hell.
Lest I conclude on such a dark note, join me in remembering that just as human history began with a marriage so too it ends with a marriage. The arc of redemption stretches fromGenesis 2:21-25, the marriage of Adam and Eve, toRevelation 19:6-9, the “marriage supper of the Lamb,”that is, of Christ and the Church. The Senate, the Democrats, and worthless Republicans may prevail against the definition of marriage and our religious liberty here in America, but God has guaranteed that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church (Matthew 16:18)
However, the Bible reveals it will take Jesus’ return to this earth to restore sanity to the world. First, Jesus comes in the clouds to take His Saints to heaven, and then He pours out His wrath upon an unrepentant world with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. The severity of God’s judgement is fierce. Below, I reveal what the Bible tells us about the first two trumpet judgements. The judgements escalate in intensity.
We need to warn our unbelieving family members and friends of what they are facing if they do not repent of their rebellion against God and His commandments. Show them how to ask God for His saving grace provided by Jesus. It is only by dying to self and becoming a new creature in Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit indwelling their spirit can they avoid God’s coming judgement.
The Seven Trumpets “Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them. The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.“ Revelation 8:6-9
The author William Wolfe served as a senior official in the Trump administration, both as a deputy assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon and a director of legislative affairs at the State Department. Prior to his service in the administration, Wolfe worked for Heritage Action for America, and as a congressional staffer for three different members of Congress, including the former Rep. Dave Brat. He has a B.A. in history from Covenant College and is finishing his Master of Divinity at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Believers are usually pretty comfortable with revering God for his immortality, power, and perfection, and so we should be. He is the Creator, in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the Great I Am. But our connection with God will always be unfolding. If a person only focuses on the immensity of God, and on reverence for him, they will know little intimacy. If a person understands the great freedom we are promised in Christ but knows no reverence, they will be without foundation, Towalk closely with God, we must be ever journeying, getting to know facet after facet of the divine nature. It is madness to think of him as less complex, less finely calibrated than ourselves.
God has sovereignly chosen to make himself vulnerable, in that he experiences difficult and negative emotions, along with great joy and delight, in response to earthly events.
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7
Divine regret is a difficult concept, as it challenges our understanding of infallibility. We relate regret to either poor choices, bad luck, or lack of knowledge – ‘If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.’ But God was fully cognizant of every one of his actions and choices, and still found himself regretting some of them. For God to feel regret, he must therefore be vulnerable to our choices. Free will must actually be free, and poor choices on our part can cause divine pain. The Lord gets upset and frustrated, just as He is pleased and delighted by us in turn. The only way I can make sense of this vulnerability is as a deliberate, sovereign choice. The Lord of All could have placed himself above such feelings, but instead, he chose a version of creation in which the choices of his children affect him.
We can see the breadth of God’s emotions at work in the life of Jesus. What do you make of the following passage?
‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!’Matthew 23:37
Compassion, for example, drove him to acts of kindness and mercy, such as healing the sick.
‘And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick.’” Matthew 14:14
Jesus knew ordinary, everyday emotions too, such as pleasure and friendship. There was a particular disciple he was closer to than any other, on a human level. John is referred to as ‘the disciple that Jesus loved’ on several occasions and was depicted leaning back on Jesus’ chest at the last supper to ask him a question. On the cross, Jesus charged this same disciple with looking after his mother, and his mother with looking after this disciple.
“When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.’” John 19:26-27
How human! How relatable! On the day of his death, he was concerned about those he was leaving behind, providing for their emotional needs by calling them, mother and son. How dear, how important, this must have been to Jesus, at that moment.
There was no time when the emotions of God were stretched like they were in the Garden of Gethsemane.
‘And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.’Luke 22:41-44
At that moment Jesus was a man in torment, able to prevent his own suffering but choosing to embrace it anyway. He was desperate to escape the agony of the cross – not just the physical pain, but the spiritual horror of becoming all human brokenness, for our sake – and yet he bowed his head. This total mastery of self serves as a supreme example to us. If Jesus were not a deeply emotional person, mastery might have been easier, but being torn up inside and still submitting to God? That is staggering, to me, what about you?
Adapted from an article by Duncan Edward Pile, October 27th, 2021 “Hold Me Closer Cosmic Dancer” http://www.patheos.com
The process of self-emptying so that we can be filled with the Spirit of God and made into new creatures is often easier for those who are naturally wretched and miserable, as opposed to those who seem to have it “all together” like Denzel Washington.
The reliance on natural gifts can not only prevent us from coming to Christ but also hinder our daily reliance on His Holy Spirit once we have. Relying on our own powers and failing to recognize the ultimate source of those powers can stunt our relationship with our Creator and, ultimately, lead us into the first of all sins, the sin of pride.
That the Christian life is fundamentally related to the humility of the soul before God is itself revealed in the life of Christ. Paul talks of God’s “self-emptying” (kenosis):
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11
The process of self-emptying so that we can be filled with the Spirit of God and made into new creatures is often easier for those who are naturally wretched and miserable, as opposed to those who seem to have it “all together”:
Men like Denzel Washington endowed with incredible natural gifts like charisma and talent, find it harder to rely on God’s power and providence. It is so easy for them to say who needs God, I can supply all that I need. That Denzel struggled to “want [the Holy Spirit”], didn’t want to “go too deep” and wasn’t “ready to live it” is an honest account of what it is often like for those who are gifted by God to not want to acknowledge the source of those gifts, but to rely on them as their own. But, that Denzel is as outspoken a follower of Christ as he is, given his incredible circumstances, is itself a testimony to God’s grace and Denzel’s faithful response to that grace.
For C.S. Lewis, who called himself “the most reluctant convert,” it was not his looks per se, but his natural gift of intellect that prevented him from humbling himself before God. For many of us, it may be something other than looks or intellect that hinders us from coming to Christ. But, that some part of our natural gifts may be the very thing keeping us from the Giver of those gifts, is very likely the case.
A new study released by the Southern Baptist Convention-affiliated Lifeway Research titled the “State of Theology, found that 60% of U.S. adults believe that religious beliefs are “a matter of personal opinion” and “not about objective truth.”
Scott McConnell, the executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a statement released Monday that he believed the COVID-19 pandemic played a factor in the findings.
“Religious identity, beliefs, and behavior are interrelated,” said McConnell. “When in-person church attendance behaviors were interrupted and habits were broken, it affected some Americans’ beliefs about the need to gather with other believers to worship.”
“Many Americans think about God as if He had only revealed Himself in a vague, nondescript way. They seem to fill in the gaps with whatever they want to believe,” McConnell stated.
“This creates sharp contrasts between what Americans believe about God and how He revealed himself in great detail in the Bible.”
It is interesting that the study revealed that a little over half of U.S. adults (53%) still say sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin, in contrast to 42% who disagree. In fact, it marks an increase in Americans who see non-marital sex as sinful compared to 2016 when 49% said it was sinful which is a hopeful sign.
The study reported that 46% of Americans believe that the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior is not relevant today, while 42% believe that it is still relevant.
“Discussions of sin are inherently theological because they explore whether God set standards and what behaviors miss this mark,” McConnell noted.
“So, those who acknowledge certain behaviors as sin are acknowledging a deity’s standards. This is a different discussion than whether society agrees on an ethical standard of conduct that we determine.”
Just as God’s nation Israel fell away from understanding God as Creator and the one whom they should fear. America a nation founded on knowing and fearing God likewise is falling away fast and opening the nation up to God’s judgment and ultimate wrath.
“Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.” Deuteronomy 10:14
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 12:11-13
Jesus told us beforehand that in the last days before His return that people would no longer believe He exists and to be feared, as a result, lawlessness will increase.
“And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13
Will you be one of those that endure to the end and as a result be saved?
Does the world consider that the one who has the most power, the most authority, and the most strength is God?God has unlimited power, and He uses that power.
“Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from His storehouses.” Psalms 135:6-7
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to Him who alone does great wonders … to him who by understanding made the heavens… to him who spread out the earth above the waters… to him who made the great lights… the sun to rule over the day… the moon and stars to rule over the night,for his steadfast love endures forever;” Psalms 136:3-9
He need only to speak and things are created. Jesus said just two words to the storm and it was still. God said just two words and there was light. On top of that, God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalms 50:10).
There is nothing God wants to do that He can’t do. “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
God has power over the created world. It is His mighty power that causes the rain to fall and the sun to rise. God exercises this power in the everyday, normal operations of the earth. We see this when we consider the power of floods or volcanic eruptions.
God’s power is specially revealed when He acts in a way that is different from natural phenomena. He uses His power to cause the sea to part (Exodus 14:21), the sun to stand still (Joshua 10:12-13), the water to turn to wine (John 2: 1-11), and the dead to come back to life (John 11:1-46).
God also has power over people. He raises up kings and causes them to fall (Daniel 4:17). He turns the king’s heart like channels of water (Proverbs 21:1).
God opens the eyes of the spiritually blind and sends the Holy Spirit to indwell their spirit enabling them to live the Christian life with a new heart that they might love Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). This is the power of God on full display.
Christians pray to God asking him to act because we know that He is the only one who is able to do all that He wants and He will answer our prayers if we are operating according to His will.
Adapted from an article by Thomas Eglinton The Attributes of God: All Powerful in AP Journal of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Australia.
What it takes to encounter God is complete surrender, nothing less will do. Glennys Hyland a single mum (mom) from Honduras discovered this critical truth. Like all of us Glennys struggled with the questions “Is God Real?”, “Can He, Will He help me?”
Struggling with these questions Glennys Hyland risked everything leaving her home country of Honduras. A single mom with two children immigrating to a new land, Glennys heard God say to her on the plane to America, “tell everyone that you get in contact with that I AM real”.
Sharing the real and vulnerable experiences of a woman’s daily walk with the Lord, Glennys shares in her book, “I AM REAL” how real God can be in life’s most challenging times. Through detailed recollections of the unexpected and disappointing seasons of life, Glennys tells of her struggles dealing with a spirit of fear, the sudden loss of loved ones, scars of rejection, the weight of homelessness, and overcoming sickness.
Encountering God and the practical instructions He gave her to live life in complete surrender to Him, Glennys discovered obedience resulted in constant interventions of God’s supernatural provision.
From healing for her soul, to a strong and healthy marriage, and experiencing countless souls converted to Christ Glennys shows us God is real and He wants to be real to you too.
Testimonies are powerful, make sure you use yours to good effect in the place God has put you.
The People who best articulate the answer to the “so what” question of God are the atheistic existentialist philosophers. Nietzsche had the courage to admit that the rejection of God ends in nihilism (existence is senseless and useless). Another, Jean-Paul Sartre, well describes existence without God with the chosen title of his book Nausea and the portrayal of life as “an empty bubble floating on a sea of nothingness”.
Sartre’s study partner, Albert Camus, tells us in “An Absurd Reasoning” (contained in The Myth of Sisyphus: And Other Essays) that a God-less life leads to there being “only one really serious philosophical question, and this is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” It’s what Daryl on The Walking Dead calls “opting out”.
Fred Hoyle, famous British mathematician and astronomer said “the probability of the formation of just one of the many proteins on which life depends is comparable to that of a solar system packed full of blind people randomly shuffling Rubik’s cubes all arriving at the solution at the same time” which of course is absurd. In fact, life without God is absurd.
Despite all of the above most people live their lives as if God does not exist. They do their best to live life on God’s planet, enjoying all that He has provided but not wanting to even know their Creator, in fear that they will not be able to “call the shots”, i.e., be God of their own little world. You only realise how sad this is when you know that our Creator loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place that we might be restored into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” John 6:44.
Our first job: We need to pray that the unsaved we are connected to will be drawn by the Father.
Our second job: We need to pray that those that hear the Gospel will understand it. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Matthew 13:19
Our third job: We need to pray that the eyes of unbelievers will be opened so they can see the light. Opening spiritual eyes is, of course, God’s business. But releasing God’s power to open blinded eyes is prayer business, to which God calls us.
The chief dangers that confront the world today are politics without God, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without the justifying work of the Holy Spirit.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed its Davos2021Agenda, confirming the annual gathering of political and business elites next month will be a digital event heralding the public unveiling of its GreatResetInitiative (essentially a one-world government). “This global pandemic has demonstrated again how interconnected we are. We have to restore a functioning system of smart global cooperation structured to address the challenges of the next 50 years. The Great Reset will require us to integrate all stakeholders of global society into a community of common interest, purpose, and action,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
What the world really needs is a “church reset”. Churches back to their New Testament roots as described in the Book of Acts. This includes upholding the inerrancy of God’s Word and its account of the history of the Cosmos including the miraculous. The miraculous events of creation, Noah’s worldwide flood, the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel which created the nations, Jesus incarnation, and resurrection.
God does intervene in history to alter reality. He has done it in the past and will continue to do so in the future. His Word tells us that the catastrophic world events unfolding right now signal Jesus’ return to this earth is not too far distant.
It seems that for many liberal theologians those “mighty, saving acts of God and of judgement” are symbolic, images, rather than extra-mental realities. As a result, theology takes on a whole new nonsensical meaning. It no longer explains anything but only expresses the effects symbols might and perhaps should have in the spiritual lives of individuals and groups. Moreover, they are oblivious to the promise of Jesus second coming as are the scoffers described by Peter “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4
Churches must undergo a reset that begins with getting back to the authority and truth of God’s Word and then obeying His commandment to complete the Great Commission to share the Gospel with others, to make disciples who will, in turn, make disciples. The church described in the Book of Actsand by Jesus in Matthew.
“I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:16
The “keys” signify the authority given to Christ’s church to stand against the powers of “Hades,” or Hell. The church needs to start walking in this authority
Love this article by Andrew Burrell about the Liberal member for Canning W.A., Andrew Hastie from The Weekend Australian Magazine, September 23rd, 2017. It is about a 15 min read.
“He’s been pilloried for his ‘natural law’ argument against gay marriage. But Andrew Hastie isn’t a man to be messed with.” says, Andrew Burrell.
“One of the things that is happening at the moment is that we are transitioning from a society that’s always had a Judaeo-Christian world view anchoring the social and moral consensus … to a society which has a progressive world view defined by little more than individual freedom,” he says.
Testimonies are powerful. It is interesting that Andrew’s father a Presbyterian Minister was a Creationist, believing in the Bible’s six day creation account. I agree, it is impossible to believe in evolution with death and suffering before Adam, and the Bible’s account of creation with a perfect creation prior to Adam and Eve’s SIN of disobeying God. However, Hastie has had to adopt a “cunning as serpents, innocent as doves” approach to the subject of Creation v Evolution.
“Andrew Hastie’s whole body was wracked with pain and his brain was addled. For three weeks, the young army officer had endured extreme physical agony and mental torture, with little food and no more than four hours of restless sleep a night. When he called his wife at the end of the ordeal, he couldn’t hold back the tears. “I was broken, I remember calling Ruth and just crying,” he recalls. “I had no emotional resources left.”
Andrew Hastie in Afghanistan. Pic: Conan Daley
Hastie — now a rising star of the Liberal Party and a conservative pin-up boy at the centre of an ideological firestorm over same-sex marriage — is recalling the brutal selection course he endured to gain entry into the Special Air Service Regiment, the Australian Army’s toughest fighting force. The SAS course, held in the remote West Australian bush in the middle of winter, is regarded as the most physically and psychologically challenging of its kind in the world. If you survive it, you can survive just about anything.
Of the 130 superbly fit men who began that course in July 2010, only 30 made it through. Another 15 dropped out during the subsequent 18-month reinforcement cycle — a boys’ own adventure-style program that included parachuting, climbing, diving, boating, combat shooting, high-speed driving and jungle training.
Hastie went on to become an SAS ground force commander, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and conducting anti-terrorism operations in the Middle East. The seeds of his ambition to serve were planted as a boy when his grandfather, Flight Lieutenant Norman Hastie, showed him the bullet wounds he received while rescuing two downed Australian airmen in the Pacific during World War II. Yet by 2015, at the age of 32, Hastie had had enough of the military. “I realised the limitations of nation-building at gunpoint,” he says of his experiences in Afghanistan, where he survived several roadside bombings. “I remember thinking, ‘This is crazy.’ I had real doubts about how much we could actually achieve there.”
During those long deployments, something else had taken hold in the soldier’s mind: a greater appreciation of the conditions that led to the flourishing of Australian society and a desire to help preserve his own country’s institutions and cultural heritage. Hastie, who joined the Liberal Party in 2013, had long harboured ambitions for a political career and held little fear of the vicissitudes. “I’ve often said that warrior politics are much fiercer than federal politics,” he says. When Don Randall, the long-serving Liberal MP for the federal seat of Canning, died suddenly in July 2015, Hastie grasped his opportunity. He resigned from the Perth-based SAS, giving up his protected identity status, and won preselection — with the backing of West Australian Liberal powerbroker Mathias Cormann — for the poll in Canning, a largely working-class electorate south of Perth. Yet this was no ordinary by-election. In Canberra, it was seen as the contest that would decide the fate of Tony Abbott, who was under mounting threat of a leadership spill from Malcolm Turnbull.
Sniffing blood, the national media swarmed into Canning to get a glimpse of the hitherto unknown Hastie. And it became obvious that the Liberals had unearthed a unique candidate. Here was the conservative politician from central casting: a churchgoing, squeaky-clean ex-soldier who spoke about protecting Australian values and Western liberal democratic traditions. He also had a fearlessness uncommon in a political newbie.
Hastie didn’t impress everyone, of course. Where some saw a man of conviction, others typecast him as a Bible-bashing young fogey with antiquated views on topics such as homosexuality. He was ripe for ridicule on social media, where he was also depicted as a warmonger or a brainless beefcake. “The first tweet I ever looked at about myself said, ‘Gee, Hastie looks as dumb as batshit’,” he smiles. He did, however, prove he had substance, quoting chunks of Edmund Burke and William Shakespeare to journalists, some of whom were taken aback at the thought that a military man might also be a deep thinker. He looked good on television, too, quickly earning the sobriquet “Tasty Hastie” and being nominated for the Crikey website’s 2015 sexiest politician of the year. “It’s like a committee of gay men were asked to design a parody of a straight man — muscled, wavy hair, nice eyes, dimpled smile, family man, army uniform, son of a preacher man,” wrote one reader in endorsing Hastie for the title. “Is it wrong that the Christian fundie thing just makes him even hotter to me?”
This curiosity about Hastie only intensified after Fairfax newspapers ran front-page stories during the by-election campaign about a soldier under his tactical command in Afghanistan who’d cut the hands off dead Taliban soldiers in the heat of battle in order that they might later be identified through biometric screening. The headline in The Sydney Morning Herald read: “Star Abbott recruit probed for chopping off hands of dead Taliban”. Hastie, who remains vexed that he was accused of being a “war criminal”, had been cleared of any wrongdoing and was elsewhere on the battlefield when the incident took place in 2013. The soldier who cut off the hands was cleared this month after a two-year investigation by the Australian Federal Police.
The Fairfax story wasn’t the end of what Hastie regarded as unfair media treatment during the campaign. At a press conference a few days later he was grilled over revelations that his father, a Presbyterian pastor, was a Creationist who had dismissed evolutionary theory in his writings. When one reporter asked Hastie if he believed God made the world in six days, he could no longer contain himself: “You’re not hearing me, mate,” he responded, his eyes flashing. “People are sick of this crap. People are sick of trying to drag petty issues into public policy discussions.”
Two years later, Hastie remains touchy on the subject. He claims he has been depicted in the media as a “religious nut job” and he’d rather not discuss theology at length. “I don’t want to shy away from it, but in an era of identity politics and cultural Marxism people are looking for every reason to delegitimise someone. So every view I hold henceforth will be seen through the prism of, ‘Oh, he’s just whacking us with a Bible’.”
All he’ll say on Creationism is this: “There’s a range of different views about the origins of the Earth and my view is that God is the first mover. I believe God exists, and if He does exist, then why would it be beyond Him to be the creator?”
Andrew William Hastie was born in Wangaratta in 1982, the second of four children. His mother Sue was a schoolteacher in the northeast Victorian city and father Peter was the local pastor. When he was five the family moved to Sydney and his dad became the minister at Ashfield Presbyterian Church. Hastie attended Scots College where he recalls happy years dominated by sport and strong results in English and history. After school he enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts course at the University of NSW, where he nurtured his interest in the world’s great thinkers. “The philosophy department at UNSW was very rigorous, and taught me how to think,” he says.
He made ends meet by working as a barista at Gloria Jean’s and selling treadmills at Rebel Sports. He recalls heavy drinking sessions with his mates on a Saturday night that were inevitably followed by a hangover in church the next morning — an anecdote he tells in response to questions about his wholesome reputation. He adds for effect: “Once, when I was 17, I was at Blueberries in North Sydney with a fake ID. I came out of the bar as an under-age and there were people from my father’s flock lining up to get in. That’s about as bad as I get. But I’m certainly not a teetotaller — it’s part of the Australian culture to have a beer.”
Hastie didn’t fit in at UNSW’s Kensington campus, where as a Liberal voter and a John Howard fan he encountered the political left for the first time. A crossroads came on the day after 9/11, when a horrified Hastie listened as students in his politics tutorial tried to pin the blame for the atrocity on the US. Almost immediately, he knew he had to serve his country. He transferred to the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, earning an honours degree in history, and later completed officer training at Duntroon before being posted to Darwin to serve in the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
Steve Barton, a friend who served alongside Hastie on his first deployment to Afghanistan, recalls a man who seemed destined for bigger things. “He struck me as thoughtful and intelligent, curious in the world around him,” says Barton, who went on to be a Liberal Party staffer. “I think of myself as reasonably well-read but he sometimes puts me to shame with the breadth and the diligence with which he reads.”
Hastie’s questioning of the mission in Afghanistan was thrown into sharp relief one cloudless day in Oruzgan province in February 2013. It’s etched in his memory: the snow on the nearby mountains, the smell of firewood in the crisp air. The then 30-year-old SAS commander had called in US Apache helicopters to take out two Taliban fighters who, according to intercepts, were planning to fire rockets at the Australians. But the Apaches fired at the wrong target, killing two local Afghan boys — Toor Jan, seven, and his brother Odood, six — who were gathering firewood across the valley. Hastie and his men were cleared of any blame but he can’t forget the sight of those two small, broken bodies. “I still think about them,” he says. “I had a nightmare last night about it, so it stays with me personally. But I’m at peace with it. I had an opportunity to apologise to their brother and their uncle, and that was part of the healing process for me. War is a degrading process. There is always moral injury; the taking of human life takes its toll on people.”
Hastie has spoken to psychologists about the incident, and says the nightmares — which in the early days left him “shrouded in a black cloud” for several hours after waking — have become less frequent. At the hint of a tear, though, he changes tack and moves the conversation on. “Our society, in a way, we are too open with things. I don’t want to be another sob story in the media.”
Hastie is much happier talking about his life with Ruth, who he met on a study trip to the US in 2007. A whirlwind romance ensued between the churchgoers and Hastie knew “within a week” of meeting her that he wanted to get married. Two months later, he proposed on the steps of Sydney Opera House. “We have very similar world views,” says Ruth, who packed up her life in the US and moved to Australia to become a soldier’s wife. By 2010, the couple had moved to Perth for Hastie to begin the physical training for the SAS selection course. Keen to start a family, they had trouble conceiving and began considering adoption. It took them a year to be formally approved, only for Ruth to fall pregnant a month later with baby Jonathan. Hastie found out while serving overseas in 2014 — via a text message from Ruth containing a photo she’d snapped of her positive pregnancy test. It had taken them six and a half years to conceive. “It was difficult, but as Christians we trusted God’s timing,” says Ruth, who also gave birth to a daughter, Beatrice, in August this year.
The big question being asked of Andrew Hastie is: How far can he go? Canberra insiders rate him as ministerial material. Friends reckon he could go to the very top. “I absolutely think he can be PM,” says Craig Clark, a Perth plumber who became firm friends with Hastie after meeting him at church. “Most of the people who know him would agree. He wants to raise the discourse; he’s as far away from being a politician as you can be.” Others with a close eye on federal politics say the backbencher will have to play smarter in the corridors of power. “He’s not a creature of the party so he doesn’t really get all the machinations,” says a senior Liberal source.
In February, Hastie was thrilled to get a phone call from Malcolm Turnbull inviting him to become chairman of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security. It was the first tangible sign he is progressing up the food chain in Canberra. Yet while nobody doubts Hastie’s loyalty to the Turnbull Government, the fact is he also remains openly loyal to Tony Abbott, whom he first met on the Canning by-election campaign trail in 2015. The ideological warriors became friends. They are both monarchists and share similar views on big political issues such as climate change and asylum seekers — Hastie says he hates to see refugees in detention but it’s “necessary” to stop people smugglers and describes himself as a climate “realist” rather than a sceptic. He says he wants to protect the environment but believes people must always come first. “I approach the politics of climate change with this primary question: how do we secure reliable and affordable energy for all Australians?” he says. “Everything else is secondary to this duty of government.”
Many in the Turnbull camp still view Hastie with suspicion. “If Abbott was PM Hastie would be progressing up the ladder a lot faster,” says a senior Liberal. Hastie admits he was disappointed that Abbott was removed as prime minister a week before he won Canning in 2015 and he believes the electorate remains unhappy that a first-term prime minister was dumped by his own party. But he reveals that he has privately counselled Abbott to desist from making the sorts of public comments that are widely viewed as destabilising to Turnbull’s leadership. “It’s a sacred office, so creating mischief in the background to cause havoc for the elected leader of our country is against what I stand for. I’ve had conversations with [Abbott] and I’ve given fairly frank advice. We’ve had discussions where I’ve said, ‘You’ve overstepped the mark here.’ But I say that as a friend. He’s been a good friend of mine and that’s what you do.”
When asked about his own ambitions, Hastie is circumspect: “The best way to make a difference is as a minister. But the worst thing you can do is jump ahead of yourself. I always put myself in a position where I can be called upon to do a job. But I don’t wake up every morning, putting on my tie, thinking, ‘How am I going to be prime minister of this country?’”
In recent months, it’s been difficult to miss the backbencher in the media as he emerged as one of the most strident opponents of same-sex marriage. Hastie is regularly pilloried over his views on the subject. When he appeared on national television recently to argue that traditional marriage “is a meeting of body and mind, it begins with consent and is sealed by sexual intercourse”, he was met with a barrage of anger — some of it vulgar and intensely personal. “F..king hell, Andrew Hastie is legit the dumbest c..t I have ever come across,” wrote one Twitter user.
Hastie’s opponents say he’s seeking to impose his Christian moral code on society. But he insists he has never used religion to argue against same-sex marriage; his reasoning is based on “natural law” and his belief that marriage is linked to the welfare of children. “I ask the question: what is the character of marriage over time and across cultures?” he says. “It’s a union between a man and a woman — that’s the normative practice throughout history and culture. I make no mention of sexuality and no appeal to religious authority in making my arguments. Marriage has always been an institution that’s inherently ordered towards family life. Ruth and I struggled for six years with infertility before we had Jonathan, but just because a marriage doesn’t bear children doesn’t mean it’s any less of a marriage.” But surely same-sex couples can also be good parents? “I don’t for a second suggest they’d be bad parents,” Hastie says, adding that he and Labor frontbencher Penny Wong, who is gay, have shared photos of their children. “What I’m saying is that we all have a natural right to know our biological mother and father. And once we legislate marriage to make it genderless, we institutionalise motherlessness and fatherlessness.”’
At the centre of Hastie’s world view is the theological concept of Imago dei, which asserts that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. His belief in this doctrine led him to publicly attack cartoonist Larry Pickering over homophobic comments he made earlier this year. Hastie says gay people must be treated with respect, and he sees no inconsistency between this view and his stance on same-sex marriage.
As the voting process ramps up, Hastie finds himself at the cutting edge of the culture wars. He aims to tread carefully, hoping not to offend anyone — an impossible task in such a fraught debate. As the postal ballots were being sent out in mid-September he became involved in a war of words with gay rights advocate and writer Benjamin Law, who had tweeted: “Sometimes find myself wondering if I’d hate-f..k all the anti-gay MPs in parliament if it meant they got the homophobia out of their system.” One of Law’s followers responded: “Start with Hastie.” In retort, Hastie was quoted in The Australian: “Noting my skills acquired in my previous career, I’d like to see him try.”
Despite this, Hastie implores both sides of the debate to be respectful. “Everyone could benefit from working to understand where the other person is coming from,” he says. “A lot of people who are advocating for Yes, especially those who are gay themselves, feel like the No case is almost an attack on their identity, or a denial of their human rights — and I get that. I understand why there’s so much emotion involved.”
Hastie sees the marriage debate as tied up in the broader clash of “fundamental visions of the social order”. And he knows he may well be on the losing side of this particular battle.