Saturday, February 25, 2012

'Cultural vandalism' and the battle for marriage

Since Creation, marriage has been between one man and one woman. The present UK Government intends to alter that - without asking the electorate's opinion.

Homosexuals already have civil partnerships, which give them all the legal benefits of marriage. The Government now intends to alter the definition of marriage, so that marriage will be open to couples of the same sex, as well as to a man and a woman.

Such a move was not a priority in the election manifesto of any political party. The Government is to launch a consultation next month - but not on if the change should take place - only how the change will work.

No 10 Downing Street insists that the change will be legalised, despite opposition. It says the Prime Minister is "resolute in his determination to end discrimination faced by homosexual couples" and "very passionate about this subject."

Christians have described the proposed change as an act of "cultural vandalism." They believe the majority of people in Britain do not want a change in marriage law. (A poll by Sky News showed 38 per cent in favour of the proposed change, with 62 per cent against. In a ComRes poll, 34 per cent supported the change, 51 per cent said that "no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us," and 86 per cent agreed that it is "possible to be tolerant of the rights of others and protective of traditional marriage at the same time.")

A new organisation, Coalition for Marriage, launched a national petition to the Government this week. The petition says: "I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it."

Details of the coalition can be seen at the coalition's website, The petition can be signed at the site, and petition forms can be obtained for further signatures. Each person can sign the petition only once, and persons signing must be 16 or over.

Coalition for Marriage is supported by CARE, Christian Concern, the Christian Institute, the Evangelical Alliance and the Family Education Trust. The Roman Catholic Church is reported to have pledged its support for the campaign. By today, the petition already had 39,810 signatures.

Some homosexual rights activists set up a copy website - in pink - with a petition supporting "the right of two people in love to get married, regardless of gender." By today, it had 5,247 signatures.

Most people seem to be of the opinion that same-sex marriage should not be foisted on Britain without a proper national debate. One more thing seems clear. Those who wish to preserve traditional marriage are going to need to stand up for what they believe.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The baby who refused to die

A month ago, I told the moving story of unborn baby David John Anker, who suffered from a shortage of amniotic fluid in the womb and died during birth.

Here's another even more amazing story.

Kristen Page woke up in the night. After 13 weeks of pregnancy, her waters had broken.

An ultrasound at hospital the following morning revealed that there was no amniotic fluid. Surprisingly, the baby's heart was still beating. Kristen was told the baby would die, and she should go home and rest.

A few days later, Kristen returned for another ultrasound. To everyone's surprise, the baby still had a "super strong" heartbeat.

The doctor explained there was no hope. "No water, no lungs, no life," she said. She advised an abortion to avoid the increasing risk of serious infection.

At 16 weeks and two specialists later, Kristen was told she was not being fair to her husband and other children in risking leaving them without a wife and mother for the sake of a baby who would not survive. Her only option was to terminate, the specialist said.

Kristen and her husband Matt searched the internet. Everywhere they looked said the same: a baby with no amniotic fluid had zero chance of survival.

They decided they would let God take the baby when He wanted. "Then I would be at peace knowing it was God's choice and not mine," said Kristen.

She was ordered to strict bed rest. At 26 weeks, she was moved to hospital, hooked up to an IV machine and continually monitored. The baby continued to thrive.

At 32 weeks the baby developed an irregular heartbeat. The following day, he was delivered by caesarian section. He was completely blue. He had a collapsed lung and needed to be put on oxygen.

After seven weeks undergoing tests in the hospital's intensive care unit, little Joey was released with a clean bill of health.

Joey is now five years old. "He is bouncing, funny and so amazing," say his parents. "We look at Joey every day and thank God we chose to keep him. He is a blessing and a much loved member of our family. We all know he is special.

"You can still see how his face sinks in a bit from being squished and his nose is somewhat flattened. But really, only we can tell."

Joseph Charles Page, say his parents, is nothing short of a miracle.

You can read the full story here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

'One of the greatest political power grabs in history'

In my last post, I commented on Lord Carey's outspokenness on Christian issues these days.

Well, he's at it again.

Writing in the Daily Mail yesterday, he called the Government's proposal to alter marriage law to allow same-sex marriage "one of the greatest political power grabs in history."

"The state does not 'own' the institution of marriage," he said. "Nor does the church.

"The honourable estate of matrimony precedes both the state and the church, and neither of these institutions have the right to redefine it in such a fundamental way.

"For thousands of years, the union of one man and one woman has been the bedrock of societies across cultures, all around the world. Marriage is now an integral part of the modern world not because of a government diktat, or a church decree, but because it has stood the test of time - and proved to be the fundamental building block for every stable society."

The ideal, he says, is for children to be raised by a mother and a father who are married.

"Marriage is the glue that binds our country together. . . perhaps, as a nation, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we don't need marriage. But we'd be terribly wrong. Marriage is a cornerstone of our society. . .

"I do not believe the British public wants any of this. The move to legalise same-sex marriage is undemocratic."

Lord Carey was writing in support of a new organisation named Coalition for Marriage, about which more shortly.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A faith to die for?

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who seems far more outspoken about Christianity now than he did when he was Archbishop of Canterbury, had some pertinent words this week about the British legal system and a "tiny majority of secularists who will stop at nothing in their attempt to sideline Christianity."

British Christians, he said in an interview in the Spectator, should not see themselves as martyrs. "We are still very lucky in this country. Unlike in other countries, we can practise freely. What we are talking about here is discrimination, not persecution."

But discrimination might be a prelude to something more sinister. The silent majority must stand up for religious freedoms before it's too late.

"It's up to us to do something. We've got to shake up the clergy, shake up the people, encourage them to get over the attitude of 'We can do nothing about it, this is now a post-Christian age.'"

British Anglicans have much to learn from their African counterparts, he said. "For them, faith is so important that they would face death for it if it came to that. It's not an old overcoat you can dispense with. Maybe we have got to learn to be more committed to our faith."

Baroness Warsi, chairman of the Conservative Party and a cabinet minister, led a ministerial delegation from the United Kingdom to the Vatican this week. In a speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, she complained of a militant secularisation that is "at its core and in its instincts. . . deeply intolerant."

We have got to the stage, she said, where aggressive secularism is being imposed by stealth, "leaving us with the ironic situation where, to stave off intolerance against minorities, we end up by being intolerant against religion itself."

Europe, where faith is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded, she said, needs to become more confident in its Christianity. "People need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs," with "individuals not diluting their faith and nations not denying their religious heritage."

Fine words.

The trouble is that Baroness Warsi supports a Prime Minister who says he is a Christian and a churchgoer, but who supports abortion rights, who supports homosexuality and who intends to alter laws on marriage so marriage can include two people of the same sex. Christians, he has said, should be "tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded" in their attitude to homosexuality.

Just to clear things up, could Baroness Warsi tell us what type of Christianity she thinks Christians should be more confident in?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Prayer in Bideford: the latest

Bideford Town Council has apparently opened its meetings with prayer since the days of Queen Elizabeth I. In recent times, an atheist councillor, one Clive Bone, objected. The council twice voted on the matter, and agreed by a majority to continue to open in prayer. Mr Bone decided to be no longer a member of the council.

Along with the National Secular Society, he took the council to the High Court. They claimed that prayer was discriminatory against atheist councillors, that prayer was in breach of human rights laws and that the council had no lawful authority to hold prayers as part of its formal meetings.

Even Trevor Phillips, head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, called the case "nonsense on stilts."

The court decided that the council's opening in prayer was unlawful.

It held that the prayers were not discriminatory against atheist councillors, that the prayers were not in breach of human rights, but that "the saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a council is not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972, and there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue."

One MP called the court's decision "utterly preposterous."

Section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972 says that "a local authority shall have power to do any thing (whether or not involving the expenditure, borrowing or lending of money or the acquisition or disposal of any property or rights) which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the discharge of any of their functions."

Barrister Neil Addison writes: "As a lawyer I find the decision bizarre. . . By any rational analysis it seems wholly disproportionate to say that a local ceremony which has lasted for hundreds of years is unlawful merely because it is not specifically mentioned in legislation."

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: "We are a Christian country. Christianity plays an important part in the culture, heritage and fabric of our nation. Public authorities should have the right to say prayers before meetings if they wish."

Yesterday the Christian Institute, who funded the council's defence at the High Court, reported that the Communities Secretary will introduce new legislation by the end of the week if possible, and if not by the end of the month, which will restore the right of councils to say prayers at official meetings if they wish.

So within two weeks we're going to be back where we were.

There are complaints of militant secularism taking over in Britain - but can it be that secularists have exceeded themselves this time? Can it be that reasonable people are fed up with secularists going to such lengths to stop a couple of minutes' prayer? Can it be that this time the secularists have shot themselves in the foot?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dangerous times

Three weeks ago, people were remembering that it was exactly 70 years since the Wannsee Conference, where Nazi leaders decided on the Final Solution to what they called "the Jewish question."

Jews in Israel are now facing a second Holocaust as their sliver of land is surrounded by enemies and Iran, who have promised to wipe Israel off the map, are putting the finishing touches to their nuclear capability.

Israeli Chief of Staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz said there is no longer any point on the Israeli map that is not within range of enemy missiles. Israeli military intelligence chief Maj Gen Aviv Kochavi said a week ago that Iran has completed the development of a nuclear weapon and is only waiting for a sign from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to start assembling its first nuclear bomb.

There have been meetings galore outside Israel to discuss the threat from a nuclear-armed Iran. The Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yuli Edelstein, told one of them: "What Israel needs now is not more meetings, but a firm commitment from the world community to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

"The Holocaust did not start with the first train to Auschwitz, but long before, with hate speech and demonisation of a whole people group, which finally led to actions. The train to Auschwitz could have been stopped in 1938 in Evian or in Munich, but the world community failed to act."

The European Union has placed an oil embargo on Iran in an attempt to dissuade Iran in its nuclear ambitions. The US, Britain and France have ordered additional naval forces to the Gulf. There are doubts if such moves will be effective.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested the Jewish people must not leave their fate in the hands of the international community. "How does the world react to the calls for genocide against the Jews today?" he asked the Knesset. Seventy years after the Holocaust, "Iran is calling for us to be wiped off the map. Hezbollah is calling for our extinction, as are many in Hamas. . .

"The Jerusalem Mufti (Sheik Muhammad Hussein) called on Sunday for Jews to be killed wherever they are. . . echoing his predecessor Haj Amin Al Husseini, who actively helped Hitler and Eichmann. . . I do not hear the international community condemning this. I hear them condemning buildings in the West Bank. But I don't hear them condemning this incitement."

It is impossible to say what will, or will not happen next, but there are commentators who believe that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear installations, out of a concern for their own preservation, within the next several months.

The Bible makes it clear that God has plans for Israel's future:

For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace,
And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest,
Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
And her salvation as a lamp that burns.
Isa 62:1.

God has intercessors who pray for Israel:

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem,
Who shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent,
And give him no rest till he establishes
And till he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Isa 62:6, 7.

He promises to preserve Israel:

He will not allow your foot to be moved,
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Psa 121:3, 4.

Nevertheless, these are dangerous times. Do remember the Middle East in these difficult days.

Friday, February 10, 2012

'I love you, Mum'

People who want to see euthanasia legalised say it would only be for people who were terminally ill and there would be no such thing as a "slippery slope" leading to ever more categories of people who qualified.

It isn't true, of course. The Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalised in 2001, permitted it originally only for people who were terminally ill, in irrelievable pain, after repeated requests, and with the consent of two doctors. Now Dutch parliamentarians are discussing allowing it for any and no reason, including just being "tired of living." Not only doctors, but psychiatrists are reported to be euthanising patients.

Once euthanasia were legalised, there would be pressure to end the lives of the old, the infirm and the disabled. Vulnerable people would have their lives put at risk. Caring, not killing, needs to be the aim.

Consider the story of Simon Ellis. Simon was in a car crash in 1992, when he was just 18. He suffered two skull fractures, he suffered brain damage and he lost the use of his arms and legs. Doctors said he would never speak again.

Nineteen years later - over the recent Christmas holiday - Simon, now 37, told his mother "I love you." Then he spoke the names of a brother and a sister. Now, says his mum, "Every day we come in to see him someone comes up to us and says he has said something new. He really is getting there and it is amazing to see."

Simon is cared for in a Sue Ryder care home. Said Laura Gill, manager of the home: "We are absolutely thrilled with the progress Simon is making and we hope his speech continues to improve. It's fantastic to see him so happy, full of life and able to share his wonderful sense of humour."

Monday, February 06, 2012

Putting the pressure on those Christians

Unbelieving secular organisations are still telling Christians how they can and how they can't live their lives. There have been at least three examples in the news in the past week.

In Bath, a group of Christians belonging to a number of different churches - the group are a registered Christian trust - have gathered over the past three years outside Bath Abbey to pray for people, including people who are sick.

Presumably they go there out of the goodness of their hearts. Presumably they make no charge for their prayers, and presumably they only pray for people who are happy to be prayed for.

A woman complained about the group and the group has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority. What has it got to do with the Advertising Standards Authority, you might ask? The woman said the group's claims "could not be substantiated." The Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaint, and has ordered the group to stop stating on their website or in literature that God can heal in answer to their prayers.

In London, the Student Union at University College London has voted to take a pro-abortion stance and affiliated itself to the organisation Abortion Rights. It has said that a Catholic Society at the university organising a meeting with a pro-life speaker must also have a pro-choice speaker and an independent chairman "to ensure there is a balance."

A barrister versed in religious discrimination law says the Student Union's motion is illegal. It is also claimed that in affiliating itself with Abortion Rights the Student Union has breached its own constitution.

In America, the US Government has announced that religious organisations will have to offer their employees contraceptive services, including sterilisation and drugs that induce abortions, as part of their healthcare provisions. Churches will be exempt, but faith-based organisations like colleges and hospitals will not.

Catholic churches and the National Association of Evangelicals have protested. As a concession, the Government has given the organisations a year before they have to violate their consciences in obedience to the new law.

Critics say the new law contravenes the US Constitution, which promises freedom to practise a religion, and should be ignored. The battle goes on.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

A contribution to Marriage Week

February 7 to 14 is Marriage Week, with a media launch at the Palace of Westminster, an evening discussion and an education conference in London, and church services, marriage courses, workshops, film nights and Valentine's Day dinners up and down the UK.

You can find details here.

As a contribution to Marriage Week, here's something (author unknown) I picked up somewhere or other:


1. Thou shalt not take thy partner for granted.

2. Thou shalt not expect perfection of each other.

3. Thou shalt be patient, loving and understanding, kind and true.

4. Thou shalt tend the garden of love daily.

5. Thou shalt take great care that thy partner's trust never is violated or diminished in any way.

6. Thou shalt not forget thy wedding vows, remembering especially those important words, "for better or worse."

7. Thou shalt not hide thy true feelings. Mutual love provides a bright sunlit room where things of the dark can be discussed freely and without fear.

8. Thou shalt always respect each other as individuals. Degrading words and a sharp tongue cause grave distortions. Endearing terms ennoble, lift up, engender peace.

9. Thou shalt give thy marriage room to grow. Both partners should be willing to face the future together with confidence and trust. Today is a better day for them than yesterday, and tomorrow will find them closer still.

10. Thou shalt through all thy days reverence God, thy Creator, never forgetting that it is He who hath made you one.

Now how about that?