A Christian and his agnostic partner

Retired Australian high court judge Michael Kirby is a committed Christian. His partner of 41 years Johan van Vloten is a non-believer. Both men talk about their relationship and faith, or lack thereof, in an television documentary airing next week in Australia.

Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan made false allegations about the couple in 2002. Their individual reaction now to Heffernan is … different.

Eight years on, Kirby betrays no sign of anger, but insists it is a subject he hates having to discuss. ”I’d rather not talk about it really because every time I do so it becomes part of my life,” he says ”Do you know, if you Google Johan’s name, what comes up is not this prudent, loving, faithful companion. What comes up is Senator Heffernan’s attack. I regard that as sad and offensive. I hope that one day if his name is Googled what will come up is his example of human kindness, support, intelligence and goodness to everyone.”

Van Vloten himself is less forgiving: he believes Kirby was targeted because he was gay, and for political reasons, as a result of court decisions that went against the Howard government.

”The Heffernan affair would have been the result of his coming out, plus one or two decisions which were very, very unpopular with the government of the day, particularly the Wik decision … there must have been a sore spot there.” He adds: ”I always knew that in the long run these documents would prove to be false because if there was any relevance or truth in that issue you’d be hanged for stupidity.”

While Kirby won’t attack Heffernan directly, his partner makes clear his contempt: ”This man didn’t regret it at all, what he did, only regretted that it went that way.”

It’s an issue Kirby says brings to the fore a key difference between them: he is a lifelong Christian of Anglican faith, while van Vloten is a non-believer. ”He’s opposed to and has always been opposed to it. He’s always been puzzled, as he puts it, that one of the most intelligent people he’s met could still take seriously all that stuff of the old men in turbans. And they were all old men, as he keeps pointing out to me. Not enough women in religion.”

And when it comes to forgiving Heffernan, Kirby says of his partner: ”He comes from an agnostic position whereas I come from a Christian position.”

I heard Kirby interviewed on radio a few weeks ago and in a wide-ranging talk his homosexuality was not raised – it was not relevant to a discussion about other issues. I am far more interested in how he as a Christian maintains a long-term loving relationship with an agnostic – it intrigues me.

Love and the judge | The Sun-Herald

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11 Replies to “A Christian and his agnostic partner”

  1. i guess i'm alone in thinking that there's a bit of dissonance between 'committed christian' and 'homosexual partner'.

  2. I am always impressed with the fact that AIDS ran rampant through the homosexual community here where I live, yet theologians who discuss the matter have never seen anything but faithful, committed, loving, model couples who are homosexual.

  3. Well, I still say , How can one be a “committed” christian, and be living in a gay lifestyle, ain't no way…To live in a “committed” Christian lifestyle,you have to believe totally in God's word..No if ,or buts, totally…

  4. Big dissonance, or incompatible with the essence of the doctrine of Christian regeneration.

    “Such were some of you..” (1 Cor. 6: 11)

  5. Here of course were speaking of the Christian life-style. Which is foreign to those sins which St. Paul lists in 1 Cor. 6: 9 & 10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (by perversion), nor homosexuals..etc.”

  6. Get it right you idiot. He is a homosexual. He is going to burn in hell if he does not repent. Read your bible.There is only one book that i know where it is alright to be in a homosexual relation ship and that is the Book of SATAN written by Anton Levay.You can jump up and down and say what you want but homo's , drunks ,liers,whoremongers and the likes will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

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