"A Reproach to Any People"
More rapidly than we realise or care to think, the foundations
of national righteousness are being eroded and what God condemns as sin is
being enshrined as acceptable behaviour in our statute books. The underlying
cause is the philosophical and practical denial of the exclusiveness and
authority of the Christian faith and its implications for the life of the
Pressure groups promote the idea that one religion is as good
as another or, with the National Secular Society, contend that "religious
belief should be a purely private matter. There should be no state religion
and the public arena, including schools, should be strictly neutral on religious
matters". A Committee Report on "Women and Fundamentalism", narrowly adopted
by a plenary session of the European Parliament earlier this year, argues
that religion should "always remain firmly in the private domain of individuals".
The Scottish Justice Minister, Jim Wallace, in a photograph accompanying
a newspaper article on proposals to make religious hatred an aggravation
of a crime, appears beside a banner with the central motto, "Sharing of Faiths",
surrounded by symbols presumably of different religions - a photograph which
speaks, more eloquently than many words, of the ignorance or denial of absolute
truth in religion which motivates much current public life.
This came to expression in discussions on the law of blasphemy
before the House of Lord's Select Committee on Religious Offences. Currently
the authoritative position (obviously not acted upon) is that "every publication
is said to be blasphemous which contains any contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous
or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible, or the formularies
of the Church of England as by law established" (Christian Voice Briefing
Paper). The danger is that blasphemy will be defined narrowly in terms of
offensiveness to the Church of England (which would soon lead to a call for
its abolition), that it will be extended to cover what is offensive to other
religions, or that it will be abolished.
The denial of the absolute truth of Christianity is expressed
also in proposals to give same-sex couples the same legal rights as married
couples. Commenting on these proposals, the Shadow Home Secretary said: "I
don't think that anybody to speak of in my party believes there is any contradiction
between believing, as we do believe, in the extreme importance of marriage
and its special status and accepting there are particular concrete grievances
that gay couples currently have that need to be addressed in law". The Scottish
Executive are expected to take steps to implement similar provisions.
As in Israel of old, a most alarming feature of the situation
is the lack of commitment, even by the professing Church and its spokesmen,
to the Bible and to the absolute truthfulness and authority of the faith
and morality which it proclaims - and therefore the readiness to accommodate
false religion and condone evil practices. Writing this note on the day previous
to the day appointed by our Synod for humiliation and prayer on account of
the sins of Church and Nation we wonder if we ourselves are grieved as we
ought to be for the sin which is disgracing our national life and exposing
us increasingly to God's displeasure. Addressing the Britain of 1846, Charles
Bridges, commenting on the verse, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin
is a reproach to any people " (Prov 14:34), urged "the little remnant in
the midst" to "take care that their personal and relative profession add
to the righteousness, not to the sin, of the nation. Let them plead for their
country's true prosperity with humiliation, faith and constancy. Let them
labour for her exaltation with more entire union of heart."
The Government's draft Communications Bill will do nothing,
it seems, to lessen the stream of offensive material being broadcast on television.
The Director of Mediawatch-uk said of the bill: "By abandoning the 'good
taste and decency' principle, the Government's 'flexible' approach to regulation
dependent upon 'generally-accepted standards' could accommodate any offensive
programming that the broadcasters like to transmit".
A recent press report says that a new Government-backed study
has found that "four out of five parents think TV soaps encourage the breakdown
of families. They worry about too many scenes of sex and violence, high levels
of infidelity, heavy drinking and an overall feeling of negativity to family
life." It is to be feared that sexual immorality, profanity and brutality
will continue to be features of television.
It is high time that our legislators became seriously concerned
about violence in films inciting some viewers to violence. Even the director
of a notoriously violent film said in a BBC interview a few years ago: "Film
is a very powerful medium, film is a drug, film is a potential hallucinogen
. . . it goes into your brain, it stimulates and it's a dangerous thing -
it can be a very subversive thing". Perhaps the Bill will be improved in
its passage through parliament - but in any case (even if we do not use television)
we should let our MPs know that the broadcasting of corrupting material is
totally unacceptable and that we expect them to support any amendments for
the strengthening of the Communications Bill.
President Bush Praises Islam
"President Bush", says the Washington Post of December
6, "pushed ahead yesterday with his administration's efforts to portray Islam
in a favorable light, returning to the Islamic Center of Washington for a
second visit to the mosque he toured in the days after the 11 Sept 2001 terrorist
attacks." He proclaimed "the peaceful and humanitarian values of Islam".
His purpose in referring regularly to Islam as a benign faith is "to demonstrate
to Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Indonesia, that the United States
is hostile to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government
but not to Muslims generally".
Many Muslims, no doubt, object to the terrorism and persecuting
activities of what they regard as the extreme elements of Islam, but the
deplorable fact remains that Islam is, by definition, a persecuting religion.
It is a tenet of the Koran that infidels should be killed and that to fight
them is to engage in a holy war, or jihad. This doctrine is the real
root of the ongoing fierce, often fatal, Muslim persecution of those who
adhere to some form of Christianity in African countries such as Nigeria,
Sudan and Ethiopia; in Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan);
as well as in Pakistan and Indonesia.
Never will the ancient hostility of Islam to Christianity cease
until the Muslim world comes under the benign power of the Prince of Peace
Himself. The gospel of Christ will yet be the power of God unto salvation
to Muslims as well as multitudes of followers of other false religions. So
we must ever pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth."
Adoption by Homosexual and Unmarried Couples
It was a relief to those concerned about Christian family values
when, on October 16, the House of Lords overturned by a majority of 34 the
House of Commons decision to permit unmarried and homosexual couples to adopt
children. However, and not unexpectedly, the Commons again voted in favour
of the amendment before returning the Bill to the Lords, but it was widely
expected that the Lords, on November 5, would again vote against the amendment.
Surprisingly, the Lords reversed its previous decision. Although peers received
many representations from campaigners for Christian family values, they voted
by a majority of 31 for the amendment to give adoption rights to unmarried
and homosexual couples. It appears that the homosexual lobby rallied its
forces, with the result that legislation is now being enacted which flouts
God's law and is a shame to any nation, let alone a Christian nation.
Promoters of the amendment argued that there is an urgent need
to find homes for the 5000 children across the country who are awaiting adoption,
and that it is better for them to be raised by unmarried or homosexual couples
than to be left in local-government care. However, a sad fact is being kept
in the background; according to a recent article in The Daily Telegraph,
many suitable married couples who wish to adopt children find insurmountable
obstacles being put in their way by politically-correct local authorities
and anti-family social workers.
The final vote in both Houses, although hailed as a victory
for children, is in fact a victory for those who "declare their sin as Sodom".
Children and families are the losers. Our nation too is very much the loser
in ignoring the fact that it is God who has ordained that families be headed
by one man married to one woman. "God setteth the solitary in families" (Ps
European Arrest Warrant Legislation
This Church has often referred to the threats posed to our
liberties by our involvement in the European Union. As time passes, we see
that our fears were not unfounded. The latest cause for concern is the proposed
European Arrest Warrant (EAW), a piece of EU legislation which is to be enacted
in Britain under the Crime (International Co-operation) Bill, and will permit
foreign police to operate on British soil for the first time.
Politicians on both sides of the political divide have expressed
alarm about the EAW. Even the Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs
Committee says, "We are not happy with the Bill as it stands and we want
to see some significant changes". The Shadow Home Secretary has warned that
it will be "possible for people to be arrested in Britain for actions which
are not crimes here, with the need to prove their innocence in a foreign
As a nation, we forget that our civil liberties are based on
our God-given religious liberties, obtained at great cost by those who fought
for them. The more we turn our backs on God and His word, the more these
precious liberties are being taken away. Like Israel of old we have "forsaken
the Lord" (Is 1:4), and are therefore beginning to experience the judgement
which came on Israel: "Your land, strangers devour it in your presence" (Is
1:7). May we be brought to heed the call of God: "Wash you, make you clean;
put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil" (Is
The Drug Problem in Scotland
The Scottish Executive has published recently The Clubbers
Guide, which advises young people on the safest way to take illegal
drugs, and how to cope with the bad effects of using them. Astonishingly,
the Executive is not urging, or even advising, young people to avoid drugs
The latest issue of the British Medical Journal gives
the results of studies among young cannabis users. The conclusions are chilling.
Teenagers who smoke cannabis at least once a week are at great risk of suffering
serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia in later life - and the earlier
they start, the greater the risk.
Plainly, the answer to the drug problem is not to give advice
about the safe use of drugs (as if that was possible), or decriminalise cannabis,
or attempt to cure addiction by administering methadone. We believe that
Mr K Eckersley of the Campaign for Effective Treatment of Addiction has part
of the answer when he says, "The drugs market is regulated by supply and
demand, and the only effective reduction tools are prevention, and abstinence-based
addiction cures that are effective in two-thirds of those being treated".
To say the least, those in government should loudly and clearly express the
principle of the Apostle's urgent cry to the Philippian jailor: "Do thyself