The Road to Dublin
Murder has returned to the streets of Belfast. This time it was the result of feuding between two Loyalist groups. For over a year the UK Government and other interested parties have sold to the public “the peace process”, with all its concessions to the IRA, on the basis that it was the only way to bring an end to violence.
Yet, although no one can deny that violence has greatly decreased in the province, it was never true that the citizenry of Northern Ireland were free from the scourge of terrorism. Kneecappings and similar atrocities have been practised by the paramilitaries on their own people. And the Real IRA, whose membership includes those who were previously active in the Provisional IRA, has been responsible for a number of bombings, including the 1998 massacre in Omagh, when 29 people were killed. The result of “the peace process” is that there are two ministers in the Northern Ireland Assembly from Sinn Fein, one of whom stated after two serious bombings that he would not advise anyone with information to go to the police.
In a further highly irresponsible move, the UK Government has completed the release of terrorists from the Maze prison, in spite of the fact that the other side of the agreement has not been kept decommissioning of weapons has not taken place. In fact, the trade in arms for Northern Ireland continues and the terrorists are still armed to the teeth. Particularly offensive, and unjust, was the release after only two years of James McArdle, the IRA terrorist convicted of conspiracy to murder and to cause the Docklands bombing in London. To make this possible, the Northern Ireland Secretary had to advise the Queen to issue a royal pardon.
All this bodes ill for the future. Unification with the South, where Romanism is still dominant, is the goal of the Republicans. It is in Romes political interests to have the facade of a “peace process” maintained. Let the UK Government ignore it all and come down firmly on the side of justice. Let them deal firmly with terrorists of all kinds. Why should law-abiding citizens in Ulster be drawn farther and farther down the road which they do not want to travel a road that many intend to reach as far as Dublin?
A Secular View of the Sabbath
During the summer, a feature article appeared in The Scotsman giving the thoughts of a reporter who had spent a weekend on the Isle of Lewis to sample a “Calvinist” Sabbath. In the same issue, and reflecting this article, the editorial was entitled Day of rest forgotten in the rhythm of a working week. It revealed an ambivalent hankering after the state of things when the Sabbath was better kept than it is now.
The difficulties posed for family life by current working practices were clearly reflected. When 20% of people work regularly on Sabbaths, many who make no profession of religion can see that something valuable has been lost. Besides, the working hours of many employees are too long, with the result that, in many cases, family members are regularly not all at home at the same time. In one survey 86% of managers reported that their working patterns had an adverse effect on relationships with their children.
The editorial shows some appreciation of the function of a day of rest for those who are deeply religious, but closer to the surface is the feeling that there is a dreariness about the “traditional” Sabbath. What is missing from the whole piece is any appreciation of the Sabbath as divinely appointed and this is typical of contemporary attitudes even at their most sympathetic. The fact is that God has given us the Sabbath, in common with the rest of the law, for our good. Proper observance of the Sabbath should not be considered primarily in negative terms, thinking merely of what is forbidden on the day. The ordinary work of the other six days of the week is indeed to be put aside as far as possible, but with a positive end in view: so that we may have the opportunity to obtain, to an extent not possible on other days, spiritual benefit for our souls.
A day of rest, as The Scotsman editorial admits, from a temporal perspective, is indeed useful. But the Sabbath is to be kept primarily for higher purposes. This generation refuses to face up to the fundamental realities of life: that we are Gods creatures, duty-bound to respect His authority. He has commanded us to keep the Sabbath holy. If we begin to appreciate the goodness of God, we will realise that “His commandments are not grievous”.
Consequences of Uncleanness in Scotland
The Scottish Chief Medical Officer, Sir David Carter, has warned in his annual Health of the Nation report that the health of a generation of young Scots is being put at risk from juvenile sex, drink, smoking and depressive illness. He emphasised that thousands of teenagers are having sex before the age of 15 with the situation being worse among girls than boys. The number of 15- to 19-year-old girls diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases has risen from 1546 to 2390.
We need not be surprised by such a tragic and shocking increase when health boards, led by successive governments, high-handedly ignore the Bible-based principles of chastity before, and fidelity within, marriage. Instead, they try to combat the problem by giving sex education and contraception advice. When will they learn that their “safer sex” policies encourage sexual immorality and greatly exacerbate the problem, and that they must adopt a radically different approach?
The approach we refer to is, of course, teaching young people the absolute necessity and wisdom of abstaining altogether from uncleanness. Several USA surveys have shown that pregnancies increased in schools which opted for contraception education, whereas teenage pregnancies dropped significantly in schools using the abstinence-only approach. The Care for Education organisation reports that its abstinence educational resource has proved effective in convincing many young people in the UK that “sex should be for marriage only”. The situation can only become worse as long as governments ignore the Scripture principle that “marriage is honourable” (Heb 13:4).
Unborn Babies and the Pain of Abortion
We can well imagine the horror that would be felt around the world if the population of the UK was wiped out within a year by an awful plague. It is a fact and a horrendous one that every year an almost equivalent number (an estimated 53 million) of unborn infants worldwide are killed by social abortion (as opposed to abortion to save the mothers life). Nations may enact laws to legalise such murders, but that will not prevent the perpetrators from having to give an account to the divine Lawgiver.
Another fearful fact is that the unborn child, in being aborted, probably feels pain. Aborted foetuses have been heard to cry at 21 weeks, and some doctors believe that distress can be felt as early as 13 weeks. Under present law, abortions can be carried out only until the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy. Professor Vivette Glover, London, a foetal stress expert, is calling for all terminations between 17 and 24 weeks to be performed under anaesthetic. Professor Susan Greenfield of Oxford University, Britains most prominent neuroscientist, has also expressed her concern that some abortions may be causing suffering to the unborn child.
The Daily Telegraph has recently reported that, while there is no legislation to protect the foetus, the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986 for “pre-born vertebrate animals” such as rats, guinea pigs and hedgehogs, ensured that they were not subjected to undue suffering. It is a most sad and solemn indictment of our nation that it gives more protection to an unborn rat than to an unborn child.
Liberal Policing Strategy
When the latest figures for offences of violence in England and Wales increased by no less than 16% over the previous year, we would expect greater crime prevention by police forces. Also, when 70% of those arrested as crime suspects have tested positive for illegal drugs, we might expect that the police would adopt a tougher approach to drug abuse.
The police approach to some recent festivals was otherwise, as at Glastonbury, and at the Notting Hill carnival in London. It seems that Scotland Yard chiefs sanctioned a liberal policing strategy and instructed their police officers to ignore minor offences while reserving the right to charge offenders at a later date. Police officers at Notting Hill were told for the first time by their superiors not to search men suspected of carrying firearms. They also permitted drug dealers to ply their trade openly during the carnival.
The work of the police at such events is very difficult, and sometimes dangerous, but we agree with those who believe that a liberal policing strategy will make their work even more difficult and the crime situation worse. When minor offences are ignored, contempt for the social order will increase, and there will be an upsurge in crime. Sadly, most of those who are responsible in government for maintaining law and order seem unaware that it is God who has laid on them the responsibility of curbing evil-doing and encouraging well-doing. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. . . . For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil” (Rom 13:1,3).