The Australian College of Physicians has called for smacking of children to be turned into a criminal offence. Their argument is that smacking can turn into physical abuse.
On the same grounds you can argue that we should ban sex because it can turn into rape or food because it causes obesity.
I am the father of 4 children and I know from experience that sometimes the only way to get through to a child is through physical punishment. When a two year old runs onto a road they need a consequence that is immediate and painful so they know not to do it again- trying to explain the danger of being run over by a car is impossible to a child of that age.
I am totally opposed to violence and physical abuse. We already have laws that adequately prohibit assault and protect the rights of children.
I think, however, that a simple whack to the bottom or the back of the hand communicates the message that a behaviour is not acceptable far better than any amount of reasoning.
Cheese-maker warned against supplying Gloucester cheese-rolling
A cheese-maker has been told by police she may be liable for legal action if she supplies Gloucester's famous annual cheese-rolling event.
The event sees revellers chase a wheel of Double Gloucester down a steep hill and has seen some participants injured.
Diana Smart, who makes the 7lb (3kg) cheese for the event at her Churcham farm, said police warned her about her responsibilities as organiser.
She said: "It made me feel pretty angry... there's not a lot we can do,"
Mrs Smart, 86, who has made cheese for the event for 25 years, said police had warned her she could be regarded as responsible if anybody was injured.
The cheese-rolling at Cooper's Hill dates back to at least the early 19th Century and this year's event is set to take place on Monday.
Some 15,000 people turned up for the last official cheese-rolling event in 2009 but the hill, near Brockworth, is only suitable to host about 5,000 spectators.
The traditional event features people chasing a wheel of cheese down a steep hill
Unofficial races organised by local enthusiasts have been held during the late spring bank holiday each year since.
A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said: "Advice has been given to all those who have participated in any planning of an unofficial cheese rolling event this coming bank holiday.
"This included the individuals who provide the cheese.
"We feel it is important that those who, by law, could be constituted as organisers of the event that they are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation."
Police said they had visited Mrs Smart to advise her that, in the absence of a recognised organiser, anyone who facilitates the event could be deemed to be an organiser by default.
"In this case that person could then attract the legal liability issues that come with hosting the cheese-rolling," a spokesman said.
Steve Chalke, described in the media as one of the UK's prominent evangelical faith leaders, recently wrote that the church needs to support same-sex marriages, regardless of a simplistic reading of the Bible. He argues that this issue is akin to christians rejecting slavery in the 19th Century despite the acceptance of slavery in the Bible.
Other commentators say that Chalke seems to be ignoring the possibility of redemption from sin, and that makes him far from evangelical.
Top UK Evangelical: Supporting 'gay marriage' like opposing slavery
A leading Evangelical pastor has implied that Christian opposition to homosexual acts, and to same-sex “marriage,” is based on an erroneous interpretation of the Bible. Instead what is needed is a broad acceptance of homosexuality itself, but a rejection of promiscuity.
In an article published on his church’s website and in Christianity magazine, Rev. Steve Chalke has said the solution for the crisis is for Christians to “consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships.”
Christians who use the Bible to support opposition to homosexual acts are forgetting that the Bible accepts slavery and other practices and ideas that are universally condemned in our time, he said.
Chalke is a popular left-wing pastor who makes regular appearances in the media. In 2004 he was appointed a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his “services to social inclusion.” He also serves as a Special Adviser to the UN on human trafficking.
“How has the whole Church found itself believing something about slavery which is so at odds with the Bible?” Chalke wrote.
“William Wilberforce and friends were condemned by huge swathes of the Church as they fought for abolition. They were dismissed as liberal and unbiblical for their 'deliberate abandonment of the authority of Scripture'. But, on the basis of a straightforward biblical exegesis of the Bible's text, their critics were right,” he stated.
“Too often, those who seek to enter an exclusive, same-sex relationship have found themselves stigmatised and excluded by the Church,” Chalke said. He decried this situation as an “injustice” out of keeping with the will of God.
And he has put his money where his mouth is, saying that last year he “conducted a dedication and blessing service following the Civil Partnership of two wonderful gay Christians.”
“Promiscuity is always damaging and dehumanizing. Casual and self-centred expressions of sexuality – homosexual or heterosexual – never reflect God’s faithfulness, grace and self-giving love,” he wrote.
“Only a permanent and stable relationship, in which respect and faithfulness are given and received, can offer the security in which well-being and love can thrive.”
He described it as “tragic” that the Christian community had failed “to provide homosexual people with any model of how to cope with their sexuality”.
“When we refuse to make room for gay people to live in loving, stable relationships, we consign them to lives of loneliness, secrecy, fear and even of deceit.”
Chalke restates the common arguments of theological “liberals” who have reinterpreted the passages of the New and Old Testaments to justify homosexual activity. He cites “a growing number of evangelical scholars” who assert that the New Testament contains no genuine proscriptions of homosexual activity, and that it has all been merely a matter of cultural interpretation.
He admits that “nowhere does the Bible actually affirm same-sex relationships,” but says it is about“how to interpret it [the Bible] properly.”
Indeed, that is the crucial issue, agrees one member of the evangelical community who has worked to help homosexuals themselves to overcome same-sex attraction.
Lesley Pilkington is a psychotherapist who ran afoul of the UK’s professional regulatory agency in 2011 for her refusal to stop treating people who asked for help to overcome same-sex attraction. Pilkington told LifeSiteNews.com that despite the friendliness of Chalke’s message, and whatever his intentions might be, he is harming the people he claims to support.
Chalke, and Christian leaders who take a similar line, she said, are doing great harm to those who struggle to live with and control same-sex attraction.
Chalke’s problem, she said, comes from a fundamental theological error, namely that he rejects the Christian notion of sin and redemption. Chalke has in the past described the Christian doctrine of Christ’s redemption of sin on the Cross as “cosmic child abuse.”
Properly speaking, she said, this rejection of foundational Christian doctrine ultimately empties all of his ideas of any real meaning.
Rejection of the very notion of orthodoxy, she said, leads to incoherent theology. “His theology becomes liberal, even though he still calls himself an evangelical, and then the consequence is that he becomes a liberal in his views of homosexuality.”
Ultimately, his ideas are creating nothing but confusion and harm to some “very vulnerable people.”
While the secular media has presented Chalke as part of the mainstream of evangelical orthodoxy, and his ideas as a step forward, Pilkington clarified that this is a media-generated misdirection.
In Britain, she said, “there is a very broad spectrum” and the term “evangelical” is far from synonymous with Christian orthodoxy. Such distinctions within the Protestant community, she said, have in recent years become highly “nuanced” and are often difficult for outsiders to decipher.
“Steve Chalke,” she said, “would perhaps see himself as evangelical. But a lot of us would say he isn’t. A lot of us would say he’s just plain ‘liberal.’ Because he’s moved away from the doctrine of atonement for sin.”
Although the secular media will never admit it, Pilkington observed, denying so foundational a doctrine as the redemption of sin, means that Steve Chalke is not strictly speaking a Christian at all.
“The correct term for those who deny the atonement for sin is ‘apostate,'” she said. “That is the perilous state we are in here in the UK in large measure and probably America."
“And it’s people like Steve Chalk who are in fact dangerous," she said. "He sounds so plausible and indeed likable and his motives are ‘good’ and he has done a lot of good ‘works’ but that is the deception.”
This deception is ultimately harmful, causing confusion among “very vulnerable people."
"He doesn’t love them. By leading them into this complete deception, he hates them,” she said. “He may have good intentions, but he’s leading them in the wrong direction.”
“Of course we have to include the LGBT community and love them,” Pilkington said, “but lead them away from sin.”
Normally I don't comment on politics in other countries. We really just don't get enough information to make any informed judgement.
Having said that, the re-election of President Obama proves conclusively that the so-called culture wars are over, and the evangelical right lost. The culture war was about taking the nation's political establishment and cultural leadership for Christ. Groups such as Focus in the Family and a lot of denominations spent millions of dollars and many many hours in trying to overcome the left-wing, anti-Christian bias in many parts of the media and the political parties.
The result of this is abject failure. Not only did the US electorate re-elect a President on a platform that gives open slather for abortion, several states voted for homosexual marriage and Colorado legalised recreational use of marijuana.
It's time for christians in the US to give up the culture wars and turn back to what Jesus told us to do- make disciples of all nations, love our neighbours and proclaim the Good News. This is where most of the West has been for several decades.
The fact is that in every Western democracy people are continuing to vote for what is comfortable and pleasant, for selfishness and individuality. The culture of individual rights is degenerating into a culture of lawlessness.For as long as christians are a minority this process is going to continue.
The church and other christian institutions no longer have a respected place in our society. People are just not listening to us any more.
What we need to do is become increasingly subversive- underground churches living radically for Jesus with no thought of prestige or cultural recognition, but rather looking for God's esteem. We live as if we really believe "In God we trust" and that the highest calling is to lead others to true faith in Christ.
Who knows? By these time-tested guerilla tactics we might in the long term win the culture wars by having so many people truly redeemed that their life choices are reflected in the ballot box, without any need to declare was on anyone.
I just read an article on National Geographic about a new comet that has just been discovered that might be as bright as the moon when it approaches the sun towards the end of next year. It might just be the brightest comet ever seen.
Or perhaps not.
Towards the end of the article it does offer the view of another astronomer who says,"We should be cautious in predicting the brightness of comets."
Having seen a couple of comets that were predicted to be bright objects in the sky and which turned out to be nearly invisible, I tend to be wary of these predictions. Sure, I'll look out for it at the time, and if it lives up to expectations I will praise the Lord.
But it makes me wonder why so many people have to exaggerate and hype their claims. It's not just astronomy but other fields such as climate science, environmentalism, politics. You can understand this in marketing and advertising, but not so much in science which is supposed to be about facts.
Why not just say "We found this comet and it will be coming close in 12 months time. We will let you know how to see it."?
Some christians are like this too. All kinds of outlandish claims are made in order to "sell" the gospel.
"Come to Jesus and all your problems will be fixed." "God answers every prayer just the way you want it."
Why can't we just tell the plain truth, unvarnished? The Good News is awesome by itself- The Creator of the Universe loves you and has become flesh and died to redeem you.
Just as I get disappointed by unrealistic claims about comets and eclipses, people who believe that they will live happily ever after with never a sad day, are going to be disappointed, disillusioned and offended.
Let's all just tell the truth.
No spin. No false claims. No attempts to improve the facts.
Every month, the Narrabri Council meeting is opened by a prayer led by a local minister. This has been happening for many years now. In fact the Local Government Act requires Council meetings to be opened with a prayer. This is usually a set prayer read by the Mayor as a part of the formalities that need to be got through.
In Narrabri the Ministers set out a roster that is sent to the Council. It works out that each minister gets the job once or twice a year. We keep it brief, aware that we are there as invited guests and not there to preach. Most ministers share a short Bible passage and then pray for a blessing on the meeting.
Apart from the fact that I am allergic to men in suits and always feel very anxious in the role, I have mixed feelings about this practice.
On the one hand I am always dubious about the subverting of the church by the culture in these situations. If the church gets too close to political institutions we can too easily confuse the kingdom of men with the Kingdom of God. To ask for God's blessing on a meeting can be interpreted as God agreeing with all that happens.
On the other hand, it is an opportunity for the Word of God to be heard in local government and by the civic leaders of the community. Maybe the Holy Spirit can quicken the spoken word to the hearts of the men and women present. This morning I read the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) and prayed for righteousness and integrity to rule over all the decisions made there.
I pray that God will bless our local councillors and our community.
I've maintained a tropical marine aquarium for most of the last 36 years. I have derived a huge amount of enjoyment from the hobby, even though I haven't had the resources to invest in equipment, corals and invertebrates.
There are two basic rules in fish-keeping:
1. Water quality. Monitor the chemical parameters and do regular water changes.
2. Introduce new fish slowly. You don't just empty the bag of new fish and plonk them into the tank. You have to slowly transfer water from the tank into the bag over a period of about an hour or more. Eventually, when the fish are used to the different water composition you may introduce them into the tank.
So yesterday morning I was in Warners Bay and I bought a couple of damsel fish. I was tempted by the blue tangs but they cost $70 each and I wasn't prepared to rick that much cash. The fish I bought were $12.50 each and damsels are reasonably tough.
We arrived home at 5.30 and in the pressure of unpacking and getting ready for my cell group I decided to ignore Rule 2. I let hem sit in the bag in the tank for a while and fed the prior inhabitants. Then I introduced them to the tank. They seemed happy enough, even eating. Within an hour one was dead and by the end of the evening the other one had joined it.
Ignoring the rules comes at a big price.
We live in a culture increasingly marked by lawlessness and rebellion. Whether it is drunken violence in Kings Cross, unruly and disrespectful behaviour in school or swearing at strangers in the street there is an increasing element of people just wanting to do what they want to do. The idea that there is a better way, a more civilised way, a more respectful way is just right out of people's thinking.
Here's the thing- if you disobey the rules you will pay a price. Drive too fast and there will be a price. Swear at the boss and there will be a price. Bash a stranger and there will be a price. Ignore God and there will be a price.
Nobody can force you to do anything, but break the rules and eventually there will be a price.
For me it cost $25 to ignore Rule 2. Others pay a life in prison, a life destroyed in a car accident...
From the media headlines you would think that Earth Hour has some impact on electricity usage. I actually heard some nutter claiming that electricity usage dipped by 10% in NSW in that hour. Truly impressive!
Well here is the graph showing electricity usage in various states last Saturday:
Apart from a slight dip in Queensland I can't see any real effect.
And if you plot electricity usage against the previous Saturdays:
Nope- absolutely no difference at all- like most green projects.
When abortion rights were being debated in this country, christians warned that once you allow abortion there is no limit to where killing can extend.
Of course the opnion-makers poo-pooed the slippery slope arguments.
Now it is being argued that new-born babies are only potential persons and the idea of infanticide is being seriously promoted as post-birth abortion.
Their logic is impecable of course. Once you allow that a foetus is not a person you can draw the arbitrary line of personhood at any place that is convenient. Babies are just the beginning. There will be calls for the elderly to be euthanased then anyone with any kind of disability- then Jews and other "non-persons".
Philosophers' claim over moral right to kill newborns sparks outrage
KILLING newborns is morally the same as abortion and should be permissible if the mother wishes it, Australian philosophers have argued in an article that has unleashed a firestorm of criticism and forced the British Medical Journal to defend its publication.
Alberto Giubilini, from Monash University, and Francesca Minerva, from the University of Melbourne, say a foetus and a newborn are equivalent in their lack of a sense of their own life and aspiration. They contend this justifies what they call ''after-birth abortion'' as long as it is painless, because the baby is not harmed by missing out on a life it cannot conceptualise.
About a third of infants with Down syndrome are not diagnosed prenatally, Drs Giubilini and Minerva say, and mothers of children with serious abnormalities should have the chance to end the child's life after, as well as before, birth. Advertisement: Story continues below
But this should also extend to healthy infants, the pair argue in the BMJ group's Journal of Medical Ethics, because the interests of a mother who is unwilling to care for it outweigh a baby's claims.
The academics call an infant, like a foetus, only a ''potential person'', but they do not define the point at which it gains human status, saying this depends on the baby's degree of self-awareness and is a matter for neurologists and psychologists.
I believe in freedom of speech, but Kyle Sandilands is a creep who is vicious and nasty in the way he speaks of and to people. Disagree with ideas but respect people- it's not that hard to be civil.
It's good to see that the people who pay his salary are realising that his violent outbursts reflect badly on them.
From the ABC:
Advertisers extend Sandilands boycott
Kyle Sandilands may be on his summer break, but it has not stopped advertisers from extending their boycott of his breakfast radio show.
In a new blow to Southern Cross Austereo, at least 15 major brands have pledged to not advertise on any of Sandilands's programs in 2012.
Some of big brand names including Coles, Bunnings, Vodafone, McDonald's, Ford and Blackmores said their boycott of the 2Day FM host would extend into next year.
The Sandilands debacle started after a female journalist wrote a review of Seven's Kyle and Jackie O television show which aired on November 21.
The following morning Sandilands launched into an on-air attack of the News Ltd journalist.
A statement released by Coles on the Change.org website on Tuesday said: "Our very clear position in relation to the offensive and inappropriate comments made by Kyle Sandilands remains that we are not and will not advertise on programs hosted by him."
Ford's statement read: "Ford won't be advertising with the Kyle & Jackie O show or other Austereo programs with which Kyle is involved (such as the Top 40, for example) at all going forward. Our action to withdraw that advertising was permanent."
The Change.org site started a petition after Sandilands's on-air rant, which has now garnered more than 26,500 signatures.
As a Gay man in a long term relationship (20 years) neither I, my partner and our friends in similar relationship agree with this marriage nonsense. Civil partnerships, yes, “Marriage” no. However, I will tell you how they will attack churches who refuse to “marry:” Gays. First, a same sex couple will go to a church and ask if they can be married in the church, when they are refused they will then go to the media and there will be stories with TV pictures or photos of them looking dejected and standing outside the church. The story will be about how much they love each other and want to have their union blessed. Then there will be a demonstration by Gays and Gay marriage supporters outside the church with attacks on the “intolerant” attitudes of Christians who will be describes as homophobic bigots. Just you wait to see.
As is usual at this time of the year there are a number of complaints, comments and news items about Christmas being censored in various Western nations.
In Sydney, the Sydney City Council and the Parramatta Council have tried for years to have generic "happy holidays" banners in public to avoid offending Muslims- ironically most Muslims are more than happy to have public acknowledgement of Christianity in Australia because they recognise our Christian heritage (more so than our so-called leaders). In the U.S. there is the usual battle between the freedom from religion brigade and the people who think that nativity scenes and Christmas trees are probably harmless.
I'm not going to be offended by people trying to remove Christianity from Christmas.
I'm going to spend the next 40 days privately and in public worship preparing my heart to celebrate the awesome mystery of "Emmanuel- God with us", the miracle of the infinite, Almighty holy God becoming a weak human being. I'm going to preach and teach and talk about the Saviour's journey of life, death and resurrection.
I'm going to be thankful that I can worship God without fear of imprisonment, death, torture or being beaten by religious zealots. I expect the time will soon come when that is not true in Australia, but in the meantime let's celebrate the freedom we do have.
I'm going to look for opportunities to use the season to talk to people about the meaning of Christmas and why the "Christ" whose name is at the centre of the holiday can bring meaning to the holiday and to the whole of their life. I will steadfastly wish people a Happy Christmas, because it is my heart's desire that they will find Christ this Christmas season.
I think it's great when politicians and celebrities try to blank over the whole christianity thing. It means they don't have to hypocritically pretend to honour Christ when they spend all year ignoring Him.
I will cringe when the ABC talks about Bethlehem as the place where Jesus Christ "is believed" to have been born or, bizarrely, "alleged," as if the birth of Christ was a crime to be accused of rather than an historically verifiable fact.
Deprived of all the trappings of respectable secular governmental approval, we the church will be forced to use guerilla techniques to undermine the doctrines of the status quo.
But isn't that the way it started? A motley bunch of followers of a disgraced Messiah made the revolutionary claim Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord.
From Canada, the true logical progression of legalised aborion.
Thrown Over the Fence — Infanticide, Canadian Style
If we will not defend life in the womb, eventually the dignity of every single human life is thrown over the fence.
Mark Steyn hit the nail on the head when he accused a Canadian appeals court of allowing for a “fourth-trimester abortion” — that’s right, the killing of a baby that is already born.
The case emerged from the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta, where a judge faced the fact that a woman had been convicted of strangling her newborn son and then throwing the baby’s body over the fence into her neighbor’s yard.
As CBC News reported, the woman was given a three-year suspended sentence and will spend no time in jail for the killing of her baby. Katrina Efferts “will have to abide by conditions for the next three years but she won’t spend time behind bars for strangling her own son.”
I don't get the media's obsession with the Occupy thing. A couple of hundred disgruntled people camp in a park claiming to represent "the 99%"- whatever that means- and we are supposed to go "Wow! That's awesome!"
It's easy to grizzle about what's wrong with the world. It's much harder to put things right. And it takes more than a sleep out.
Putting things right has to start with me, my relationship with God and my relationships with others.
God didn't just "Occupy" the world, He died to redeem it.
Melanie Phillips writes a very perceptive article about how political correctness in seeking to be inclusive of everybody is actually alienating everybdy.
Hijacking the language to stifle debate
One of the most sinister aspects of political correctness is the way in which its edicts purport to be in the interests of minority groups.
This is despite the fact that, very often, they are not promulgated at the behest of minorities at all, but by members of the majority who want to destroy their own culture and who use minorities to camouflage their true intentions.
The latest manifestation stars once again that all-time world champion of political correctness, the BBC. Apparently, it has decided that the terms AD and BC (Anno Domini, or the Year of Our Lord, and Before Christ) must be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era.
Actually, this edict seems to have been laid down merely by some obscure tributary of the BBC website rather than from on high.
Nevertheless, the terms CE and BCE are now increasingly finding their way onto news bulletins and on programmes such as University Challenge or Melvyn Bragg’s Radio Four show In Our Time.
The reason given on the website is that, since the BBC is committed to impartiality, it is important not to alienate or offend non-Christians.
Well, I am a Jew, so I am presumably a member of this group that must not be alienated.
It so happens, however, that along with many other Jewish people I sometimes use CE and BCE since the terms BC and AD are not appropriate to me.
But the idea that any of us would be offended by anyone else using BC and AD would be totally ridiculous.
A chemistry set with "no chemicals." Wow. I bet that great fun.
You might need a drink of water (H2O- a chemical) to recover from the excitement... and make sure you wash your hands with soap (a chemical), and don't forget to breathe (a cocktail of gaseous chemicals).
In the U.K. the High Court has banned a couple who have fostered over 20 vulnerable children from fostering any more children. The reason is not that they are bad people or that they abuse the children in their care.
No, the reason is that they are christians who believe that sex should only occur in marriage. This puts them in a position of being oppressive to those children in their care who are struggling with their sexual orientation. I know that most 8-10 year olds really have issues with this.
So the learned judges have ruled that the beliefs and practices of christians are inferior to the rights of homosexuals even when there is no immediate possibility of conflict.
This is where "rights" legislation ultimately leads us.
Melanie Phillips, who is not a Christian,writes this:
The secular inquisition against Christians was ratcheted up another notch yesterday in a grotesque judgment in the High Court by two judges, who have actually banned a couple from fostering children simply because they hold traditional Christian views about homosexuality.
The implications of this judgment are utterly appalling on many levels. The couple involved, Eunice and Owen Johns, are upstanding, traditional people whose quality of care for the twenty or so children they have fostered is not in doubt. At a time when is estimated that there is a need for another 10,000 foster carers, one might have thought the Johns would be treated as gold dust. Nor have they even prevented any homosexuals from having or doing anything. Their crime is simply to believe it is wrong to promote a homosexual lifestyle to a child in their care because they take the view that sex outside marriage is wrong.
Yet for that view – which not long ago was a normative moral position – Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson have ruled that they must be banned from fostering any further children. They are being banned simply because they have views of which these judges disapprove.
Such a ruling is, first, utterly illiberal and intolerant. Second, in its shallowness and secular bias it is ridiculous. For the judges actually said that there was no place in law for Christian beliefs – that Britain was a ‘largely secular’, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm ‘do not include Christianity’.
As the former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said, this was absurd:
He pointed out the monarch took a coronation oath promising to uphold the laws of God, while Acts of Parliament are passed with the consent of ‘the Lords Spiritual’, and the Queen’s Speech finishes with a blessing from Almighty God. ‘To say that this is a secular country is certainly wrong,’ he said.
‘However, what really worries me about this spate of judgments is that they leave no room for the conscience of believers of whatever kind. This will exclude Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Jews from whole swaths of public life, including adoption and fostering.’
Next, the judges decreed that the right of homosexuals to equality should take precedence over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values. On what basis did they decide this other than their own prejudices? But then, that’s the inescapable effect of human rights law. On the basis of the oxymoronic fiction that the ‘rights’ it enshrines are ‘universal’, human rights law demonstrates that these rights are in fact conflicting, and thus utterly contingent on the subjective views of the judges who are required to arbitrate between them.
Indeed, elsewhere in this ruling the judges said:
We sit as secular judges serving a multicultural community of many faiths. We are sworn (we quote the judicial oath) to ‘do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will’.
And yet their ruling does great wrong to Christians.
Next, it embodies the belief that secular values are neutral whereas Christian ones are not. But this is not true at all. Used in this way, secular values – to be more precise, evangelical atheistic values -- are a direct attack on Christianity and normative western Biblical morality.
The heresy for which the Johns have been punished was to refuse to subject the children in their care to the propaganda of a tendentious ideology. And—rub your eyes again – the children in question would be no older than ten years old. So the whole subject is anyway quite inappropriate for such young children. And so the Johns have actually been punished by these judges for attempting to protect the childhood innocence of the children in their care.
In these circumstances, terms such as ‘totalitarian’ or ‘Orwellian’ are no exaggeration. During the case, there was an implication that the Johns should in effect have their brains re-programmed:
During the case, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, an official watchdog, suggested that the couple could attend a ‘re-education’ programme, according to Mrs Johns. ‘Why do we need to be re-educated? Because we believe that homosexuality is not right?’ she said.
‘We said we would sit down and talk to the child to find out where it is coming from. They said, “No, you would have to tell the child it is all right to be homosexual because there are too many children that are confused with their sexuality.” We thought, yes, but at eight?’
As a result of this ruling, vulnerable children in care will suffer. Freedom has died another death. People are being persecuted for holding views which are no longer allowed. Religious believers are being treated like medieval heretics. The atheist inquisition is in full swing. And western liberal society takes another step towards the edge of the cultural cliff – pushed towards the drop by the English judiciary.
Michael Jensen, a lecturer at Moore College and the author of the book You, has written a sobering story in Sydney Anglicans entitled “Is there any way to defend traditional marriage?”
Things, I am afraid, are looking rather grim.
From where I sit, the case for legal recognition same-sex marriage has landed blow after unanswered blow against the traditional alternative. The campaign has appropriated for itself the powerful contemporary language of rights and equality. There have been television ads with celebrities; and articles by top journalists such as David Marr. The Greens seem determined to pursue this issue and to lever their parliamentary influence to this end.
The genius of the campaign has been the way in which it has made its case seem simple and unanswerable. It has made its appeal to middle Australia – that great, largely inert mass of people who don’t have time to think about the issue but have a keen sense of fair play. And it sounds like quite a reasonable ask: all gay and lesbian couples are asking for is the same recognition by the government that heterosexual couples receive.
What’s more, the campaign has cast those who might uphold the traditional view as bigots driven by religious zealotry, determined to impose their irrational and medieval views on the rest of the community come what may. I am fully expecting this article to lead to such accusations.
Small wonder there has been little by way of response. We in the churches have been, I think, afraid to make the public case in defence of traditional marriage. All we have offered is a stunned silence.
Partly this is because the way in which the rules of the debate have been framed by the emotive language of the campaign for change. Arguments which appeal to religious traditions and texts are given no place whatsoever. And since Christians believe what they believe about marriage on the basis of Scripture, it seems that we cannot say anything germane to the public issue.
I understand and sympathise with those who argue that actually it would be better if the churches withdrew from advocacy for legal recognition of traditional marriage. After all, we don’t believe that we are dependent on the state for the reality of marriage. We are too reliant on the state to protect these things. Perhaps we are better letting the government do what they like, and just modelling in our own communities a different kind of relationship, which we will call ‘marriage’. And perhaps too our concern over this issue distorts our witness to the community about the gospel of Jesus. It makes us too easy to categorise as people lacking grace and compassion, whatever the reality.
But marriage is not merely something that we know about from the Christian revelation. It emerges from our very human nature. And it is a divine gift to all humankind, not just to the Christian community. If we are interested in the wellbeing of the Australian community, I would suggest, we cannot sit idly by and watch the institution of marriage disintegrate.
So: it is time for those of us who would support traditional marriage to work hard at this issue. We must do much better than we have with recent public debates (I am thinking of SRE especially) in speaking to the general community with non-defensiveness, intelligence and compassion. It will certainly take courage, because of the censoriousness of the opposition.
There is an opportunity, however, because in their assumption that there is nothing that can be said against them the advocates of the revisionist campaign have majored on rhetoric and emotion and neglected to put forward a plausible case. So far, the case seems to be: ‘we want what you have. That is, we want equality with heterosexuals as far as the legal recognition of our relationships goes. Most of all we want to be able to use the word ‘marriage’.’
What no-one seems to notice is that the proposed revision of marriage laws involves … a revision of marriage. That is, they wish to change the meaning of marriage in order to have what we now call marriage. Only, if the law grants to them ‘marriage’, it won’t be the same at all. It will have become something essentially different.
As it is currently understood, marriage is not merely the expression of a love people have for each other. It is (in the words of scholars Girgis, George and Anderson of Princeton and Notre Dame Universities) “a comprehensive union of two sexually complementary persons who seal (consummate or complete) their relationship by the generative act—by the kind of activity that is by its nature fulfilled by the conception of a child.”
This is not a random definition; nor is it one based in divine revelation (though it accords with the teachings of many religious traditions). It is the meaning of marriage that emerges from almost all human civilisations across history; and which reflects who human beings are in their very bodily selves. There is a union which only persons of complementary sex can share. Only this two can become ‘one flesh’ – and that is not some spooky, mystical phrase: it is a matter of tangible reality.
Were same-sex relationships to be admitted as ‘marriages’, this essence of marriage itself would have to be held to be something other than what it is. This is what some pro-revision advocates themselves think. Andrew Sullivan, a leading academic advocate for same-sex marriage, writes that as far as he is concerned, marriage has become“primarily a way in which twoadults affirm their emotional commitment to one another.” Brandeis University’s E.J Graff thinks that recognition of same-sex unions would change marriage so that it would “ever after stand for sexual choice, forcutting the link between sex and diapers.”
Here’s the thing. The advocates of same-sex marriage are counting for success on that great staple of Australian politics – the apathy of the great majority of Australians. It sounds to most of us as if recognizing same-sex marriage won’t affect or harm most of us at all. It sounds as if denying gay and lesbian couples this ‘right’ is petty and discriminatory.
But that doesn’t reckon with the fact that the way in which marriage is described will be completely changed. It will be something else. The distinctive orientation of marriage towards the bearing and nurture of children is to be dissolved. In its stead, we have a view of marriage which places sexual choice and emotional commitment at the centre. Under this definition (which is rarely articulated), there is of course no reason why marriage rights should not be granted to polyamorous relationships, or indeed any other type of sexual relationship. Indeed, it is unclear even why sexual activity should be the focal point – why couldn’t long term housemates or inseparable golfing partners likewise seek recognition at law for their relationships?
What is missing from the revisionist case is a clear and reasonable definition of marriage as they would like to see it – one that is deeper than just ‘choice’ or ‘emotions’. This is because for the most part advocates want the wider community to think that the change will be minimal in impact.
It won’t be. The definition of marriage is changed, that will affect all of us. It will further destabilise the bedrock of our social order, as the liberalisation of divorce laws has tended to do – to the measurable and visible detriment of many of our fellow citizens.
Marriage is a public, not a private matter – which, by advocating so strongly for change, revisionists themselves tacitly acknowledge. It is not simply therefore a matter of allowing a freedom for others. It is a matter of determining what best promotes the flourishing of Australia’s citizens.