Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Preston Passion

I've just watched the BBC's 'Preston Passion' - an imaginative and moving retelling of aspects of the Passion of Christ. It very powerfully portrayed the elements of Pilate's dilemma, the grief of the women who watched Jesus suffer and die, and the self-sacrifice of Jesus himself. Well done to the BBC for using its resources to bring Christ's Passion to a mass audince in such a popular way. But I'm afraid I would only give it 7 out 10 because the heart of the story was missing: Christ's sacrifice for our sins. Without his atoning death all we would have would be a series of moving stories with some moral value, but nothing that actually changes lives - and changes the status of life from that which is estranged from God to that which is reconciled to God.

Perhaps it would be too much to expect the BBC in such a multicultural society as ours to be quite as explicit about the reason for Christ's death and its true significance. For those who are familiar with Handel's 'Messiah', and the text from Isaiah, we did get a little reference to Christ's sacrificial death as the choir sang: 'Surely, he hath born our sins and carried our sorrows: he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him...'

The real difference Christ's death makes to us is that our sin - whatever comes between us and God - was dealt with once for all. His death opened the way for all who believe to be not just improved but saved.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Why David Cameron and the Government are wrong regarding gay marriage - Philo Trust

This is taken from J John's blog at Philo Trust

It is hard not to be troubled about the government’s moves towards legalising same-sex marriage. Although the words used are those of ‘consultation’ there is evidence that ministerial minds are already made up. Yet you do not have to be a Christian to have concerns about the issues raised by this concept. It is important to remember that despite the sneers, it is not homophobic, fundamentalist or politically incorrect to raise such concerns. Indeed, you could argue – as some have – that redefining marriage in this way does no service to the gay community itself. Let me raise the issues as I see them.

There is the issue of motivation. Civil partnerships have existed since 2004 and appear to work satisfactorily. So why is there this demand for a change in the basis of marriage? It’s hard not to conclude that this is a deliberate and aggressive attack on traditional heterosexual marriage. A small but vocal minority within the gay community seem to be pushing for a ‘take it or break it’ attitude to marriage. And within this government there appears to be little more than a desire to follow the crowd and gain votes. This combination of hostility and expediency is the worst possible basis for legislation.

There is the issue of principle. Jews and Christians would point to the clear definition of marriage set out in the first pages of the Bible (Genesis 2:18-24) and see in this God’s design for the human race. The Christian would want to point out further that this definition of marriage is reaffirmed both by Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6) and by St Paul (Ephesians 5:31). Non-believers and believers alike must recognise the near universality of this pattern of marriage in history and geography. It is also an unarguable fact that a working marriage is the foundation of social stability, a proven source of human happiness and the best basis for the nurture of children. Surveys suggest that most women and many men in partnerships would prefer to be married. If ever there was an institution over which the phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ was written, it is traditional marriage.

There is the issue of precedent. If we feel that we are free to redefine marriage what, if anything, do we now exclude from legal ‘marriage’? Polygamy? Any combination and number of partners? Once you have dismantled the weighty historical and biblical foundations that uphold traditional marriage, what other foundation will you build in its place? And why should this new foundation hold? On a related issue, although we are assured that vicars, priests, rabbis and imams will not be forced to conduct gay marriages, can we really be certain that, in ten years’ time, this will not be the new frontline? I think not!

There is the issue of gender. At the heart of the ‘gay marriage agenda’ is a presumption that men and women are sufficiently identical that they can be interchanged in relationships. It is taken for granted that it doesn’t fundamentally matter whether a relationship is male-female, male-male or female-female. Yet the Bible, psychology and experience combine to state that men and women are different in many ways. Feminism did not simply achieve a measure of equality for women but also a hard-won acceptance that women and men are different and that those differences can be celebrated. Allowing same-sex marriage tramples over that recognition of gender differences.

There is the issue of appropriateness. Traditional marriage is designed – or has evolved – to accommodate the complementary psychological and physical differences that exist between men and women. Same-sex relationships are very different. So on what basis do we assume that marriage is appropriate for them? Legal homosexual relationships are a relative novelty in the West and surely we need time and study to find out what is the best legal and social framework for them. To assume it is marriage is yet another presumption.

The evidence is utterly overwhelming that this proposed ‘consultation’ on same-sex marriage is hasty and ill-conceived. This proposed consultation is driven by the desire of the government to be popular; to overturn it will require little more than the recognition that it is, in reality, deeply unpopular. This is a bad proposal, made for the worst reasons and one that could have a lasting impact on society. Silence is not an appropriate response.

Posted by: J.John

Categories: J.John's Reflections

Tags: Why David Cameron And The Government Are Wrong Regarding Gay Marriage

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The world has gone mad!

Percy Pig EggIt's bad enough having Easter eggs on the shelves soon after Christmas, packed in amongst the bunnies and chicks, but now M & S have Percy their 'Easter Pig'.  Rabbits and chicks I can understand - spring, new life, etc. But what has a pig got to do with Easter? It seems rather ironic, given M & S's Jewish roots, that they should celebrate this great religious festival with a pig.