Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

And that is what some of you were…

September 13, 2008

I was saddened to hear of another high profile Christian figure in the US come out as being a homosexual. I was more sad to hear of his rationale for his behaviour. Ray Boltz writes, “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.” It is a sad distortion of the Christian message and one seems to be gaining greater popular credence.

1. The Bible treats homosexuality as a sin and warns us that we cannot blame God for our sinfulness- James 1:13

2. Boltz has divorced his wife. Clearly his divorcing of his wife to pursue other sexual behaviour doesn’t register on Boltz moral scale as being a sin.

3. Where does the ‘God made me this way’ defence end? Can we therefore justify every behaviour- infanticide, incest, etc on the grounds that God made me this way?

4. Boltz ignores the basic Christan teaching that how we are is not a sign of God’s goodness to us but of how sin has corrupted God’s good gifts including our sexuality. Sin must have no place in Boltz’ s theology.

5. Boltz distorts the gospel as so many do today. He takes the line that God accepts us just as we are. This is often a partial truth and distortion. God meets us where we are in the sense that no amount of self-righteousness can make us acceptable in His sight. Sin creates a level playing field for us all in the sight of God. Yet whilst God in that sense meets us where we are  He does not leave us there. The heart of the gospel is that God changes us. He deals with our legal guilt but He also breaks the power of sin in our lives and sets us free from the sin that enslaves us.

Paul writing in 1 Corinthians of the sins (including homosexuality) that had enslaved the Christians there does not say ‘but hey this is the way God made you!’ Instead he writes, ‘And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (6:11)

Sadly it seems that Boltz never really has grasped the essence of the gospel and is now using it as an excuse for his sin. I am not hopeful that given this distortion he will come to repentance unless God opens his eyes and changes his heart.

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Old Rocker goes off his rocker!

September 5, 2008

For a long time Sir Cliff Richard has lived out his Christian faith in the eye of the public. As a pop star and entertainer he has lived his life with integrity under the media spotlight which is no little achievement in Britain. Whilst he has used his fame to winsomely commend the Christian faith. This makes it all the more sad to hear of his recent commendation of same sex blessings. According to a report in today’s Times Cliff says ‘I think the Church must come round and see people as they are now…Gone are the days when we assumed loving relationships would be solely between men and women.’

His comments highlight a number of issues.

  1. We once again see the danger of figures in the public eye who become spokesmen for Christianity simply because they are in the public eye. Cliff is a hugely influential figure and this will make his comments all the more damaging.
  2. We again see the danger of allowing cultural norms to determine morality. Here Cliff simply repeats what is going on in our culture rather than challenging it.
  3. Cliff somewhat misses the point in his comments. Christians have long recognised that people can have deep, loving relationships with people of the same sex. The issue is not friendship or companionship it is a sexual relationship.
  4. Cliff makes no mention of the Bible as the authority for his comments. His authority has become his opinion which he sadly seems to think carries weight because of his public profile.

I do hope that in the days to come those who have spiritual influence in Cliff’s life will gently restore him and show him the folly of the stance that he has taken.

You can read the article here- timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4675929.ece

Peace in our time- Well, for one Day at least!

September 3, 2008

In another example of the do-goodery that the famous specialise in Jude Law has been called upon. He is promoting a day of global ceasefire on 21st September- which if it happened would be an excellent way to celebrate my birthday! I’m not quite sure which is the greater in this case- Law’s egotism or his naivety. Does Law really think that if he asks people to stop fighting they will stop? Or that even if his ceasefire came about it would make any material difference? If he has this amount of clout he should be cloned and dispatched to every war zone in the world.

Law’s approach and those who are with him show that enlightenment values are still alive and well. They didn’t die out in the 1980’s with all those people who would say to me, ‘why don’t you people in Northern Ireland just get along with one another?’ Wow! We’d never thought of that!

The desire for peace is of course laudable. Indeed it is natural for that is what we were made for. Only a fool would not long in his heart for peace. But we need to ask ourselves realistically how it will come about. Will it truly come about because an actor asks for it? I read the blurb on a book recently which described the book as possibly the best case for world peace ever assembled. So what? Even my kids could make a great case for world peace. But how will it come? The reality is that it will never come because the sinful desires that lie in the human heart. The desires of pride, greed, and the desire for power override our desire for peace. Never mind our ability to achieve peace.

Peace will only come with the war to end all wars. When Jesus Christ, the prince of Peace, will return triumphant, and overthrow all that stands opposed to Him. And consequently all that stands opposed to his rule of peace, righteousness, justice and joy. In His death and through His resurrection Jesus triumphed over all that stood opposed to Him. He has won the battle and the end of the campaign is not in doubt. Until then we His people must preach the gospel of peace with god through Jesus Christ and seek to live out that gospel of peace in our lives.

The Moral Collapse of the UK

May 21, 2008

If ‘righteousness alone exalts a nation’ then in the last 48 hours the United Kingdom has demonstrated its abasement. In a series of votes passed in Parliament we have seen permission granted for the creation of animal human hybrids for research purposes, permission granted for the creation of ‘saviour siblings’ that is the creation of one life purely for the preserving of another, permission for lesbian couples to have babies without any legal role for the father and the denial of a reduction in the number of weeks at which a human being may be aborted. I feel immensely sad at what has happened. Sad because of what it reveals about the state of the country. Sad for the countless lives that will be destroyed in labs, in wombs and in the aftermath of lesbian adoptions. I feel sad too, indeed ashamed, at my own quiet complicity in all of this. Did I make my voice count? One feeble signature on a petition. Did other Christians make their voices heard?  I scarcely heard a word said by the churches.

I recognise my own need for repentance and that of the nation at this time. We are under the judgement of God and will one day face that judgement. Today we must therefore humble ourselves, repent and call upon His name.

Finally a word of thanks to those courageous men and women in Parliament who sought to withstand this moral capitulation.

Dispatches: In God’s Name

May 20, 2008

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme looked last night at the influence of Christian fundamentalism in Britain in a documentary called ‘In God’s Name.’ ( If you missed it you can watch it online at Channel 4 on demand). It was an attempt by the programme maker to alert Britain to the rising political influence of this movement. It followed a number of key figures in this movement as they campaigned on a number of issues including homosexuality, embryology legislation, blasphemy and Islam. Whilst the programme was sensationalist many who appeared on the programme did themselves no favours. The fact that no-one could explain why they believed the earth was only 4,000 years old was embarrassing. Whilst there was undoubtedly an undercurrent of racism in some of the remarks made about Islam. These remarks are not and cannot be acceptable to Christians.

However the tone of the programme and some of the comments made in the press about it also strike a note of alarm. One of the things that seemed most offensive about this group was what they believed. To believe in a young earth was enough to have these people dubbed sinister. Also rather alarming was the suggestion that for Christians to have access to Parliament and to have a voice in the public square was unacceptable. Of course Christians in this country have a long history of seeking to promote the values of the kingdom of God. This is not some sinister new development as the programme seemed to imply. Were it not for the influence of Christians we might still have a slave trade and be sending small boys up chimneys. It also appeared that to fundamentally disagree with homosexuality, Islam and abortion was unacceptable. If you want to find something sinister here it is- people stoking up the fires of resentment against Christians who do not hold their values. It is alarming that whilst people and their methods may be objectionable that their views are not only held up to ridicule but that secularists wish to silence them completely. Where does this end? The supposed toleration of the makers of this programme is not as tolerant as it thinks it is. It is in fact secular fundamentalism.

Mortal Sins for the Noughties

March 10, 2008

So the Vatican has updated the of mortal sins to meet the needs of 21st century sinners. The new list includes environmental pollution; Genetic manipulation; Accumulating excessive wealth; Inflicting poverty;Drug trafficking and consumption; Morally debatable experiments; Violation of fundamental rights of human nature.  Abortion and paedophilia were also mentioned- although a spokesman said that cases involving Catholic priests had been exaggerated to discredit the church- I’m sure the victims don’t think they have been exposed clearly enough.

It of course begs the question of why add this new list of sins? Seemingly the problem is a dramatic falling off in the number of people attending confession. So the logic goes if you rbing the sins up to date people will confess. Interesting theory. The new sins are clearly directed towards corporate/social evil rather than personal responsibility. I fail to see how if people are refusing to face up to personal sin they are now going to go and confess to nameless, faceless corporate sin.

Of course the really key issue is the definition of sin and the problem of trying to define it in terms of specific acts.  The real problem with sin is the sinful human nature that leads to acts of sin and until that is dealt with then acts of sin will follow freely. And moving sins up and down a list of priorities is not going to change anything. Nothing less than a regenerate nature which is the fruit of Christ’s atoning sacrifice upon the cross can deal with mankind’s fallen nature.

The Vatican is falling into one of the great traps of our time- removing a sense of personal responsibility and culpability before God and replacing it with a generic sense of corporate evil. Not only does this undermine any sense of personal morality but it removes the gospel from ordinary people who are not engaged in corporate evil but who need the forgiveness that God alone can bring through Jesus Christ.

PS The original mortal sins were-Pride; Envy; Gluttony; Lust; Anger; Greed; Sloth

Goodbye to All That

January 24, 2008

A recent survey has revealed what we all know to be the case. That in the last twenty years Britain has become a more ‘tolerant’ society. For ‘tolerant’ read that immorality scarcely raises an eyebrow.

  • 70% say sex before marriage is acceptable
  • Over 60% think marriage and cohabitation are much the same
  • Over 60% think divorce can be a positive step in someone’s life
  • Only 32% think homosexual partnerships are mostly wrong. Less than 20% think that they are always wrong.

Britain has become a society where everyone does what is right in their own eyes. One statistic however jumped out at me. That is that 85% believe that adultery is almost always wrong. (I assume by this people mean any form of infidelity even involving cohabitees and same-sex couples. ) My question is why amidst the social mores that people now accept should they think that adultery is something wrong? What is it that makes this wrong whilst other immoral behaviour is right?

The statistics on what is now acceptable whilst adultery is regarded as wrong shows our far we have been impacted by post-modernity. There is for people no metanarrative to help them create an over-arching moral framework. We live in a society that has turned its back upon God and has lost its faculty for moral reasoning. We have sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind.

It’s That Man Again

June 21, 2007

So Christopher Hitchens continues to promote ‘God is not Great’ otherwise known as ‘Why I am Smarter than God.’ I saw this statement he made in a recent Q&A session in the Times newspaper.

‘I have a challenge that I have issued in America which I’ll put to you. You have to come up with a moral statement made, or a moral action performed by a believer or a person of faith, that could not have been uttered by an unbeliever. I haven’t so far had anyone come up with an answer to this and I’m genuinely interested to see if they can. My point is therefore that religion is optional and if you say, “Well I think we should free the slaves because Jesus wants it”, I think it is a fatuous thing to say but it is not a wrong thing to say. It ought to be enough to say “I think we should free the slaves.” There is no scriptural authority of any kind for freeing the slaves, none, but there’s a good deal of scriptural warrant for slavery, which is why it lasted as long as it did and why it persists, especially in the Muslim world. Because it is indeed warranted by the text, which emancipation is not. It is a very important question. In my book there is a good deal of material about the conditions under which Jews can have slaves and what they are allowed to do to them. A lot of it is in Leviticus and Exodus, I believe.’

Obviously Hitchens thinks this is the Gordion Knot revisited. Rather it is as usual good knock-about stuff. Also as usual it misses the point. No-one denies that an atheist may perform a moral action or make a moral statement. The real question is what is it that determines the morality of an action? When an atheist performs a moral action whose code of morality is it according to?

As for the comments about slavery he as usual doesn’t bother too much about facts or context. A careful reading of the OT would show that slavery was only regarded as a temporary condition and often regarded as a means whereby a man could regain economic independence. Furthermore slaves had rights under the OT law and could not be mistreated. Slavery is recognised as a social reality and not an ideal. In the NT it is again clear that slavery is never regarded as ideal. A slave should gain their freedom if they can. A Christian slave owner should respect his slaves. And slaves should respect their masters because in serving their masters they are in fact performing a service to Christ who is the great liberator. Of course Hitchens skilfully forgets that the impetus to end slavery came not from humanism but Christianity.

But of course we’re getting into facts again. Sorry Christopher.

Contemporary Blog Atheism

June 15, 2007

Recent post on Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins introduced me to the world of discussing atheism in this blog and elsewhere. And it has been an eye-opener. It was an eye-opener because I was regularly hearing Christianity(or religion- atheists seem incapable of distinguishing between the two) roundly condemned as ignorant and intolerant. So I was expecting to hear enlightened, reasoned, sophisticated arguments from the atheist community. What did I find? I found ignorance, arrogance and stereotyping. You may of course argue that Christianity can be guilty of all of these- which of course it can. My point is that I was having it stuffed down my throat- to use a favourite atheist description of expressing the Christian viewpoint- about how superior atheists were. And what better people they were.

I found ignorance-of Christianity, of the distinction between religious beliefs, of a fundamental understanding of history and indeed the case for atheism

I found arrogance- anyone who is not an atheist must be an idiot- as I was called on one occasion. Obviously Western civilisation began with Dawkins! No atheist has ever said anything stupid or done anything wrong

I found stereoptying- obviously every Christian approves of everything that has been done in the name of religion from the Crusades to 9/11

One other thing. Much of the discussion in which i found myself involved centred around the issue of morality. The atheist answer to the basis for morality is that society tells us what is right and wrong. No-one has been able to give me an answer to the question of what happens when whole societies get it wrong, i.e. in Nazi Germany. No-one has given an adequate answer to the question of why this society was wrong and those who opposed it were right.

Sorry

June 5, 2007

Sorry. I know I have broken my own dictum about saying nothing about Christopher Hitchens because he does not deserve to be taken seriously. And now I am about to break it again. I can’t help myself, his writings are so ludicrous.

Hitchens writes, ‘We believe with certainty that an ethical life can be lived without religion.’ In this statement Hitchens instantly runs into the problem of how we decide what is ethical if there is no God. If there is no ethical authority then we either descend into utilitarianism, where morality is governed by public opinion. Or we become our own authority in these matters, in which like Hitchens, we substitute ourselves for God. True morality needs an absolute moral standard. It requires a judge who will ensure that righteousness will prevail in the end.

Hitchens mistakes his personal values for ethics. In reality Hitchens is really more to be pitied than laughed at.