Friday, 13 April 2012

Gay Cure bus advert pulled.

The BBC is reporting on  the 'Gay Cure' bus advert which was pulled before it hit the streets.

What is interesting is the organisation behind the advert, Core Issues 'God's heart in sexual and relationship brokenness...' Perhaps I missed something but it seems to me that there is only one kind of relationship they have an interest in.

According to their website "The CORE vision seeks to uphold Biblical standards and values and appropriate ethical principles in contemporary society" 

So what are the biblical standards in respect of homosexuality? Take your pick

Old Testament

Leviticus  20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

New Testament

Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  
1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet..
1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
I find nothing in the Core Issues site about killing homosexuals. Seems that they have picked upon the Biblical 'values' but are reluctant to apply the Biblical 'standards'. They accept the condemnation in half a verse but recognise the second half is inhumane and morally obnoxious. 

So how do you get a verse that represents the will of God in the first half but not in the second? I think we can rule out a perfect God changing his mind. Seems to me that this verse could not have come from a perfect God rather it was made up by people based on their prejudices at the time. The same prejudices that exist today.
Of course I could pick out parts of the Bible that take the opposite view which doesn't limit the love between two people. Seems for years people have been coming to their own view of the world and then have tried to use the Bible to support it. That is part of the reason why Christianity is now found in tens of thousands of different denominations, all of whom claim the 'correct understanding'. Strangely none of those denominations have a Biblical understanding that they disagree with. It is clear that the Biblical understanding follows personal beliefs rather than the other way round. Christians will change denominations to those which match their opinion,.

It would be nice if for once Christians were honest about their own prejudices rather than claiming they are simply applying Biblical values and standards.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Can I take your coat?

Matthew 5:40 says 
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”
Mr Chris McGrath, who describes himself as a Christian, recently sued Amazon, Richard Dawkins, The Dawkins' Foundation and Vaughan Jones, an internet blogger. I wonder if McGrath assumed these defendants would apply the same principle? That he hoped that if you sue any man at the law to take away his coat, he would also let you have his cloak?

The case is very strange. The statements McGrath complains about seem, to me, innocuous. Even assuming the statements are incorrect, it would have been far simpler to refute them, rather than go for litigation. In addition, McGrath appears to have gone to great lengths to be offended. For example, after being called a "creationist" he attempted (unsuccessfully) to convince the Court that 'creationists' were by definition malicious liars, fascists, homophobes, anti-western and a danger to the education of children.

The disagreement started when McGrath used the Amazon customer review section for Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow's book The Grand Design, to promote his own book "The Attempted Murder of God". However, McGrath has since claimed that his book was a parody and the positive reviews he wrote himself (using various pseudonyms), were  'satirical art'.

Vaughan Jones discovered McGrath's ruse and called him on it, which led to the dispute. A dispute, which resulted in McGrath originally submitting 61 pages of claims against the defendants. Ultimately, the Court threw out all but six allegations, which have the potential to be defamatory but which may also have a good substantive defence.

To me, the most interesting aspect to this case are the allegations the Court had no problem with. In fact, the Court was happy that either McGrath had admitted or a valid defence could be provided for the following.
McGrath is an unethical, intellectually dishonest fraud who improperly sought to gain commercial advantage for himself by piggy-backing on the work of a disabled person. His company was failing financially and his conduct could fairly be described as desperate, sick and depraved.
Compared to these damning indictments the remaining allegations are trivial. Despite this, McGrath has indicated a willingness to continue with the litigation. Even if the Court found in his favour and there was no counter claim, I doubt any resulting damages would even cover his train fare home.

Personally, I would have recommended that McGrath read 1 Corinthians before embarking on any  litigation. Translation (The Message):
"And how dare you take each other to court! When you think you have been wronged, does it make any sense to go before a court that knows nothing of God's ways instead of a family of Christians? The day is coming when the world is going to stand before a jury made up of followers of Jesus. If someday you are going to rule on the world's fate, wouldn't it be a good idea to practice on some of these smaller cases? Why, we're even going to judge angels! So why not these everyday affairs? As these disagreements and wrongs surface, why would you ever entrust them to the judgement of people you don't trust in any other way?

I say this as bluntly as I can to wake you up to the stupidity of what you're doing. Is it possible that there isn't one level headed person among you who can make fair decisions when disagreements and disputes come up? I don't believe it. And here you are taking each other to court before people who don't even believe in God! How can they render justice if they don't believe in the God of justice?

These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. Wouldn't it be far better to just take it, to let yourselves be wronged and forget it? All you're doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, bringing more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family"

This link will take you to the Court Decision.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Cameron's Easter Message

The recent budget gave tax breaks to the rich while doing nothing to ease back on the drive to eliminate free public services. So what is in store for those who can not afford private healthcare and education and who don't have the public providing us with a rent free house in Whitehall and an estate in Bucks? Wonder no more David Cameron has laid out his vision for the poor in his Easter message. 
I think there is enormous potential in churches and faith-based organisations to tackle some of the deepest problems we have in our society, whether it is educational and under-attainment, whether it is homelessness, whether it is mental health.
Call me old fashioned but I am not convinced that people who hear voices in their head telling them what to do are the best placed to offer mental health advice. Similarly I am not keen to have my kids educated by people who openly seek to discriminate on the grounds of sex and sexuality.
But why you may wonder would the churches want to help Cameron? Well apart from letting them keep representatives in the upper chamber, exempting them from the burden of tax, seeking to involve them in all levels of government how about a bit of flattery. This is from his speech.
I think that we have lots of things going for us as a country, all sorts of difficulties and challenges, but the greatest need we have in our country is to have strong values and to teach our children and to bring people up with strong values. The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values that we need – values of compassion, of respect, of responsibility, of tolerance. Now, I’ve made this argument many times that you don’t have to be a Christian or you don’t have to adhere to another religion to have strong values, to believe in strong values or to pass those values on to your children, but the point I always make is that it helps. We’re always trying to tell our children not to be selfish, but is there a better way of putting it than ‘love thy neighbour’? We’re always telling our children to be tolerant – I know I am, and often a fat lot of good it does me – but is there a better way of explaining tolerance than saying, ‘do to others as you would be done by’? It’s the simplest encapsulation of an absolutely vital value and the Christian church and the teaching of the Bible has put it so clearly.
So what teaching about tolerance, compassion and neighbourly respect can we find expressed so clearly in the bible? A small sample....

How to treat other faiths
Ex 23:24 Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.
Deut17:2:5 If there be found among you, or woman, that hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
Phil 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Lev 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Romans 1:31 they which commit such things are worthy of death,

Interracial relationships
Deut 7:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

Corporal punishment
Psalms 89:31-32 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.
Non believers
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

1 Tim 2:11-14 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

From the last verse we also learn the vital Christian value of bearing a grudge. Something I hope to do in respect of Mr Cameron come election time.