Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, a devout Christian, has stared down a pastor on live television and cited scripture while delivering a stirring defence of gay marriage.
In footage that has since gone viral on the internet, Mr Rudd declared that "people don't choose their sexuality" and said if The Bible were taken literally, slavery would still be legal.
His impassioned defence of his decision to throw his support behind same sex marriage came in response to a Christian pastor who asked on a chat show featuring audience questions: "Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don't you believe the words of Jesus in The Bible?"
Mr Rudd, facing defeat in Australia's election on Saturday, responded: "Well mate if I was going to have that view, The Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St Paul said in the New Testament: slaves be obedient to your masters. And therefore we should have all fought for the confederacy in the US Civil War. I mean for goodness sake. The human condition and social conditions change."
Mr Rudd said be believed his decision to support gay marriage was in line with The Bible's emphasis on "universal love".
"I concluded in my conscience, through an informed conscience and a Christian conscience, it was the right thing to do," he told ABC TV's Q&A show.
"What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we are missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel or a spiritual gospel, is all about If you think homosexuality is an unnatural condition, then frankly I cannot agree with you based on any element of the science."
Polls have shown a majority of Australians support same sex marriage and several state governments are planning to legalise it. But a federal bill failed to pass last year after it was opposed by Mr Rudd, as well as Tony Abbott, the opposition leader, and then prime minister Julia Gillard. The ruling Labor party allowed a conscience vote and would continue to do so if Mr Rudd wins.
Mr Abbott, a staunch Catholic, has signalled he may consider allowing Liberal party MPs a conscience vote. He continues to oppose gay marriage but his daughters have openly opposed him, as has his sister, who recently revealed she is a lesbian.
Mr Rudd said he spent months grappling with the issue but ultimately decided that homosexuality is not "unnatural" and that same sex couples deserve recognition of their relationships.
"I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality," he said. "They are gay if they are born gay. You don't decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is how people are built.
Therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is wrong. I don't get that. I think it is a completely ill-founded view."
Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/10282506/Kevin-Rudd-launches-passionate-defence-of-gay-marriage.html
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