The First Ministers Funeral
Scotlands First Minister, Donald Dewar, passed away suddenly on October 11. His funeral the following week, amid scenes of genuine sadness, began well, with Psalm 100. It was followed, however, by what is considered necessary today, when national religion is without fixed values: a contribution from a Roman Catholic priest in this case a prayer. Next there was a reading from Isaiah 61, but censored as a journalist put it, “with the more apocalyptic verses left out”. Later there were speeches in praise of the deceased, even a reading about tadpoles a political parable, it seems.
One assumes that this event was intended to be Christian worship. Yet at least one of the participants described the occasion as a celebration of Donald Dewars life. The two do not mix. Mr Dewar rose to a high place in the life of his country, and no one would deny, for instance, how free he was from pomposity. But in worship the greatness of God is the important matter, not the greatness of man which, as Mr Dewars death ought to remind us, is so very uncertain. In the face of death, we ought to be very conscious of human mortality, with its powerful implication that we are altogether dependent on God for our continued existence. Yet, from beginning to end of the funeral service, the ministers who took part seem not to have given the slightest indication that the congregation could profit by considering their latter end. Besides, do bereaved families really appreciate humorous speeches at such a sad time in their lives?
The service concluded with the Moderator of the Church of Scotland reading a prayer which included the statement that, because God is always where there is decency and goodness, God is always with Donald Dewar. What these words were intended to mean, apart from their comforting feel, we do not know. One is forced to question if the Moderator has any idea of the significance of God being with an individual, or the of the fearful consequences of sin separating an individual from God. To pass safely into eternity, we need a higher goodness than we can produce ourselves. It is highly irresponsible for a minister of a Christian church to suggest otherwise. Surely it is not too much to expect a minister to use his Bible to guide him in what he says.
Politicians and Gods Blessing
Following the death of Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish has taken over as Scotlands First Minister. We wish him well in his new responsibilities. It is disturbing, however, to note how determined British politicians are to avoid acknowledging their need of Gods blessing and direction. There is an almost consistent refusal to refer to the Most High at all.
It was ominous to find Mr McLeish intimating that he would announce the membership of his government team on a Sabbath. How inconsistent with any desire for Gods blessing! And Gods blessing, as far as we can read providence, is what he did not have. His first policy initiative ran into heavy and widespread criticism as it was likely to interfere with the independence of the civil service. Would that our politicians would learn the significance of the words of the Son of God: “By Me kings reign, and princes decree justice” (Prov 8:15).
Then they would seek to the Bible for direction. They would want their laws to be consistent with it. There would also be a healthy scepticism about the ideas of political correctness that permeated the previous Scottish administration and, in particular, swept away the safeguards of Clause 2a.
Gods Voice in the Floods
Many victims of the floods which have been inundating parts of Britain have had to suffer much deprivation, discomfort and distress. Sadly, some have lost their lives. As we sympathise with those who suffer so much, we have to ask, What is the reason for such extraordinary weather conditions in many different parts of the country?
A newspaper columnist makes the following comment, “Not many centuries ago, pretty well everybody in these islands would have agreed that if the River Uck burst its banks or high winds lashed the coast from Cornwall to Kent, there could be only one explanation: God was angry. Today we are more sophisticated than that. We look for other causes of unusual weather conditions and the suffering and inconvenience that they cause.” He then speaks about global warming and changing weather patterns. Prince Charles is more specific. Speaking at the Millenium Festival of Medicine in London he said, “The present severe weather conditions in our country are, I have no doubt, the consequences of mankinds arrogant disregard of the delicate balance of nature”.
However much mankind and global warming may or may not be causal factors in these extraordinary phenomena, there is another cause which people generally do not consider. Scripture shows us that God deals not only with individuals for their sins but also with nations. As God has made repeated promises that nations will prosper if they obey His commandments, so there are repeated warnings that nations will be chastised if they rebel against His holy law. Nationally, we are rebelling against God to a greater extent than ever before. Can we really expect that God will ignore our wicked refusal to obey His voice?
“And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good” (Jer 18:8-11).NMR
Increasing Promotion of Homosexual “Marriage”
Traditional marriage is being attacked by the promotion of same-sex “marriage”. The Liberal Democrat Party, at its annual conference, supported a proposal to change the law to give to same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples in the field of pensions, inheritance, tax and social security benefits.
In Scotland, Lib-Dem MSP Nora Radcliffe is being backed by the Equal Opportunities Committee in wanting talks with Justice Minister Jim Wallace about giving same-sex couples access to the same fiscal benefits as married couples. We are glad to note that, while Mr Wallace says he will consider meeting Miss Radcliffe, he says there are no plans to change the law.
However, Englands most senior family law judge, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, said in a public lecture recently that Parliament will be compelled to consider legalising homosexual marriage because of the Human Rights Act. “Within a comparatively short time Parliament will have to grapple with the concept of same-sex marriage, divorce and post-divorce rights,” she said. In the same news item it was noted that the Lord Chancellor finds the present law that gives few rights to cohabiting and same-sex couples to be “unsatisfactory”.
Our nation must sink lower morally when those in positions of authority are undermining the divinely-ordained institution of marriage. They refuse to listen to Scripture which shows the great and assured benefit of marriage to society. Indeed, they seem to be deaf to the voice of common sense. According to The Christian Institute, Professor A H Halsey, Professor of Social Policy at Nuffield College, Oxford, has stated: “No one can deny that divorce, separation, birth outside marriage and one-parent families as well as cohabitation and extra-marital sexual intercourse have increased rapidly. Many applaud these freedoms. But what should be universally acknowledged is that the children of parents who do not follow the traditional norm (that is, taking on personal, active and long-term responsibility for the social upbringing of the children they generate) are thereby disadvantaged in many major aspects of their chances of living a successful life. On the evidence available, such children tend to die earlier, to have more illness, to do less well at school, to exist at a lower level of nutrition, comfort and conviviality, to suffer more unemployment, to be more prone to deviance and crime, and finally to repeat the cycle of unstable parenting from which they themselves have suffered . . . . The evidence all points in the same direction, is formidable, and tallies with common sense.”NMR