Monday, October 07, 2013

So God goes out - or does He?

In November last year, Julie Bentley became chief executive of Britain's Girl Guide movement. Ms Bentley, a leading campaigner for abortion and former head of the Family Planning Association, described the Guides as "the ultimate feminist organisation."

In June this year came the announcement that the Guides' promise, "I promise that I will do my best to love my God, to serve the Queen and my country, to help other people, and to keep the Guide law," was to be changed.

It was to become "I promise that I will do my best to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people, and to keep the Guide law."

Secular meddling, you might think, with something that has served a good purpose for a long time.

"Sounds like a self-help manual," wrote someone. "Being true to oneself is what leads to the queue for X Factor auditions," said someone else.

In August, a group of leaders at St Paul's United Reform Church in Harrogate said they were going to use the old promise. They were threatened with expulsion: only the new promise would be recognised, said Girlguiding UK. "So much for diversity," wrote someone. "Secular totalitarianism."

St Paul's United Reform Church leaders were reported to have capitulated after a meeting with the organisation.

Enter Jesmond Parish Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The vicar, the Rev David Holloway (a founding member of the Christian Institute and a council member and trustee of Reform, the Church of England reform organisation), said the church's Brownie and Guide units were refusing to use the new promise, and were right to do so for five reasons.

First, he says, the charitable object of Girlguiding is to help girls "develop emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually," and according to the Guiding manual members are encouraged to be active in a religious faith. Jesus and the apostles made it clear that sometimes a person's self is a dark and conflicting source of deception and to be resisted. Eph 4:18 - 24 says we are to put off our old self and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. To which self are we to be true?

Second, being true to a self that is materialistic and gives free rein to sexual and other instincts is surely not in line with the charitable object of Girlguiding.

Third, men and women by nature do not put God first, others second and themselves last; they put themselves first. This can result, like the Guides, in "developing their own beliefs."

Fourth, the promise does not help girls deal with guilt. To encourage a girl in her delusion that there is no objective divine moral law, but all is from her own self, is cruel as well as spiritually and psychologically damaging.

Fifth, the new promise is illegal. The doctrine of the (established) Church of England, defined by law, refers to the Thirty-Nine Articles, which forbid "vain" or "rash" promise-making.

Jesmond Parish Church Brownies and Guides do not propose to disband, said Mr Holloway, but will be enrolling girls using the old promise.

"Their founder Baden-Powell would be horrified."

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