Nothing is hidden that will not come to light

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In the UK victims of child sexual abuse within churches and other religious organizations are asking that the law be changed to explicitly require churches etc to report all child abuse allegations to the relevant authorities rather than dealing with them “pastorally” in-house.

I fully support such a requirement. In my view there can be no legitimate reason for churches to oppose such mandatory reporting laws. Some people will say that such a requirement is incompatible with the Seal of the Confessional; however (a) most often church leadership hears about such allegations through channels other than the confessional, and (b) the Seal is intended to protect the repentant; a person who confesses to child abuse but is not willing to submit to the relevant authorities is not truly repentant.

Opposition to mandatory reporting laws because of the Seal are about as plausible and legitimate as the Southern Baptist Convention leadership’s refusal to act on credible allegations of sexual abuse in their churches because of “congregational autonomy.”

Anyway, most of the scandals involving the covering up of child abuse by religious authorities are not about protecting the Seal but are rather about protecting the reputation of the organization or of a beloved leader, and escaping liability for negligence. In the long run this does not work, for of course Jesus had it right when He said, “Nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light,” and reputations are worth nothing in view of Jesus’ words, “Woe to the one through whom offenses come; it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.

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THIS is, what the military is for!

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Today my wife and I spent almost the entire day glued to the BBC’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, the procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey, the funeral service itself in the Abbey with hundreds of heads of state and other world leaders among the congregation whom Archbishop Justin Welby reminded that those who serve others “will be loved and remembered when those who cling to power and privileges are long forgotten,” then the interminable procession from the Abbey via Buckingham Palace to Wellington Arch  near Hyde Park Corner, and finally by Royal Hearse to Windsor, where the committal service took place in St. George’s Chapel, where the Queen and her late husband Prince Philip will be buried side by side.

The whole thing went off without any mishaps, and I was very impressed by the crowds, both those lining the streets along the procession routes, as well as those gathered in open spaces in Ediburgh, Manchester, and as far away as Christ Church, NZ. Even more impressive were the masses of soldiers and sailors in their colorful uniforms, with their carefully choreographed movements, all to honour their late monarch.

It made me think of what other soldiers are doing at the behest of their leaders, such as those of the Russian army in Ukraine on Vladimir “Butcher” Putin’s orders: attacking a neighbouring country on the pretext of a threat by NATO and “Nazis” in Ukraine’s government, then bombing civilian targets such as schools and hospitals, torturing, raping, and killing civilians including children, and threatening the continent with a major disaster by repeatedly shelling the area around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

I thought also of the Ukrainian soldiers defending their country with incredible bravery and ingenuity, and I came to the conclusion:

The impressive spectacle on display in London and Windsor today, and the courageous defense of their country against a vicious and brutal aggressor, is what the military is properly used for. What Putin is doing, ordering an invasion, pillaging, and all sorts of other atrocities, is an improper use, an abuse of the military which he should not get away with but be held accountable by the international community.

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Red Mittens for the Queen

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A tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her death, by Ian Kleinsasser, Crystal Spring
September 9, 2022
 
The following narrative offers a0 plausible explanation of how Queen Elizabeth II of England visited a Manitoba Hutterite community as part of her 1970 Manitoba Centennial Celebration tour. 
 
(See below for a brief introduction to Hutterites.)
 
This story begins in January or February of 1969, approximately one year before Queen Elizabeth II visits Manitoba. On a snowy winter day, a middle-aged Hutterite woman known as Hans-Rebecca[1] from the Rainbow Hutterite community[2] was busy knitting two pairs of red mittens. When people inquired who would receive these mittens, Hans-Rebecca replied: „These are not normal mittens. I am knitting these for Queen Elizabeth II.“
 
True to her word, when Hans-Rebecca finished the mittens, she packaged them up and, just like that, sent them off across the Atlantic Ocean to Buckingham Palace. A month later, an official-looking envelope landed on Hans-Rebecca‘s table. The letter was from one of the Queen‘s ladies-in-waiting and read: 
„Queen Elizabeth normally does not accept personal gifts from people, but this will be an exception.“ 
 
The letter further stated that Queen Elizabeth II would like to visit a Hutterite Community in Manitoba when she travelled to Canada in 1970. The lady-in-waiting thanked Hans-Rebecca for the two pairs of mittens and said that the Queen wanted her to know that she would make great use of them for her children. 
 
So, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Manitoba in 1970, one of the places she requested to see was a Hutterite community in Manitoba. Unfortunately, though Hans-Rebecca may have instigated the Queen‘s visit with her thoughtful gift, she never met Queen Elizabeth. Only young people, Diene (girls) and Buem (boys), went to see the Queen in Milltown.[3]
Hans-Rebecca‘s story offers a plausible account of why Queen Elizabeth II requested a tour of a Hutterite community in Manitoba. The story doesn‘t tell how the visit came about from a political or organizational perspective, i.e., who pulled the political strings to make it happen? A Winnipeg Free Press article, „Brush With History“,  by Kevin Rollason, adds some added clarity. According to Rollason, then Manitoba Premier Edward Schreyer played an essential role in facilitating the visit to the Milltown Hutterite community. At the time, Mr Schreyer was well acquainted with the Hutterites and played a crucial role in ending the Gentleman‘s Agreemen[4]  in Manitoba, which had placed unfair restrictions on Hutterite communities. In the Free Press article, Schreyer shared his perspective:
 
„It [the request to tour a Hutterite community] was unorthodox, but I picked up the phone and called the Milltown Hutterite Colony to see if the Queen could visit a Hutterite colony. The next day [the Hutterite leaders] said yes. The bottom line is she enjoyed it greatly, and on at least two occasions, she said she enjoyed it as a very remarkable visit. And two or three days after the visit, when the Queen and Philip were leaving at the airport, a small group from the colony came to see her off.“
 
Edward Schreyer gives a good description of how the visit came about. At the same time, it captures, in a unique way, the “unorthodox” nature of Queen Elizabeth’s request. Could it be that it was the gift of a pair of red mittens from a year before that now caused Manitoba officials some “unorthodox” angst?”
 
Schreyer’s account does not shed any light on why the Milltown Hutterite community was chosen as the site for the visit. However, a likely factor was its proximity to the railway tracks and station at Elie, Manitoba. When the Queen arrived in Milltown, she was met by crowds of curious young Hutterite women, men, children and members of Milltown and neighbouring Hutterite communities. After touring the Milltown Kleineschul (daycare), church building, and communal dining hall, Queen Elizabeth returned to her vehicle. As the Queen prepared to leave, the young girls from the James Valley Hutterite community near Elie reportedly sang: Should We Meet No More by Daniel O Teasley. Others reported that the congregation sang, God Be with You Till We Meet Again. When two Hutterite men, Josh Hofer and his son Nathanial Hofer, joined the James Valley girls in singing a German song, Prince Philip stepped up beside them and sang along. 
 
When Queen Elizabeth‘s party finally left the Milltown Hutterite community and returned to the Elie train station, many Hutterites followed behind to watch the royal train leave. Queen Elizabeth II stood as the train pulled away from the Elie station and waved a final farewell to the cheering crowd gathered on the Canadian National Railway platform.
 
We may never know whether two pairs of homemade red mittens brought Queen Elizabeth to request a visit to a Manitoba Hutterite community in 1970. What is known about the Queen‘s visit is that she came! Since then, many within the Hutterite community in Canada have cherished her visit. Today, along with thousands of people worldwide, we mourn the passing of a remarkable person, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. God Be with You till We Meet Again!
 
Copyright © 2022 by Ian Kleinsasser. Posted here with his permission.
Photo Credit: Mennonite Heritage Archives.

A note from the blog owner:

The Hutterites are an Anabaptist group which originated in the South Tyrol in Austria (now part of Italy) in the early 16th century. Due to religious persecution the group migrated several times, first to Moravia (in today’s Czech Republic) and Upper Hungary (today Slovakia), then to Transsylvania (Romania). There the Hutterites encountered Carinthian Crypto-Protestants who had also fled persecution in Habsburg Carintha and to a large extent adopted their German dialect. From there the Hutterites moved to Walachia (southern Romania) and finally to Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire). Due to the threat of military conscription most Hutterites migrated to the US between 1874 and 1879. Between the two World Wars the Hutterites left the US due to discrimination because of their pacifist beliefs, and moved to Canada where most of the Hutterites live today.
 
The Hutterites practice community of goods, living together in settlements called colonies. There are three main groups, the Schmiedeleut, the Dariusleut and the Lehrerleut (named after leaders), with several smaller related groups.
 
For a more extensive description the Wikipedia article is a good resource.
__________
  1. Hans-Rebecca – Rebecca Maendel’s father was called John (Hans in German). In the olden days, it was common practice for people to add their father’s first name to theirs as a way to distinguish them from another person in the same community with the same name.[]
  2. Rainbow Hutterite community was located in Île des Chênes, Manitoba[]
  3. At the time of the Queen’s visit, Hans-Rebecca was 48 years old. Though still unmarried, Hans-Rebecca would not have been considered part of the Hutterite youth group and would, therefore not have travelled with them to see the Queen.[]
  4. The Gentleman’s Agreement was made in 1957 between the Union of Manitoba Municipalities and the Hutterites, in reaction to the latter’s growth. It limited both the size and number of Hutterite colonies. It was discriminatory to begin with and eventually became unworkable. In 1970, in the wake of a larger land purchase than was permitted under the Agreement and the ensueing legal wrangling the Manitoba Human Rights Commission declared the Gentleman’s Agreement to be discriminatory and thus invalid.[]
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How Serious Are We About Truth?

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Is being concerned about truth part of “international,  cynical deconstruction of hope ”?

As Christians, are we about truth, or about touching stories, even when they are untrue or inaccurate?

Can we really give people hope with “fake news”?

Is a concern for truth and accuracy in Christians’ communications evidence of an “international, cynical deconstruction of hope”?

In the wake of Queen Elizabeth’s death a Facebook user[1] posted this meme:[2] 

This struck me as strange, not because of the pious sentiment it expressed (for the Queen has always been a pious Christian who was not shy about expressing her faith), but because the diction (the tone, the choice of words) was not that of an upper-class Englishwoman of the second half of the 20th century who was a member of the Church of England. It just didn’t sound like Queen Elizabeth II.

So I googled the key phrase, “I should so love to lay my crown at His feetand was not very surprised to find that, with the exception of the first few results, all of which had been posted in the few days since the Queen died, practically all others attributed the quote to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother. One of the results, a facsimile reproduction of the April 1919 issue of “The King’s Business[3], even identified the person with whom Queen Victoria had this conversation: it was Dr. Frederic Farrar, Dean of Canterbury Cathedral and a gifted preacher:

I was evidently not the only one who realized that this quote was wrongly attributed to Queen Elizabeth, because several commenters on this post pointed out that this moving story talks about Queen Victoria, not Queen Elizabeth; most of the hundreds of other commenters chose to ignore this inconvenient fact and gushed about how this quote demonstrates Queen Elizabeth’s Christian faith.

And dozens of people, no doubt well-meaning Christians all and including respected friends of mine, have since shared this post, evidently all without fact-checking it. 

Pointing this out on some friends’ timeline, who had shared the post, elicited comments like, “So what? It’s still a lovely quote!”, or “I make no apology for posting this!”, or “I don’t find it egregious!”

One person justified sharing the post with the fact that it might give people hope in this time of international mourning; he then suggested that my concern for accuracy is part of “international cynicism” and the “cynical deconstruction of hope.”

This lack of concern for truth (and actual dissing of such a concern as cynical) discredits the faith it is supposed to demonstrate; it lends credibility to comments like this one:

and then,

Simply put, as told in this context, even without naming Queen Elizabeth but with her picture attached to it, the story just isn’ t true; and attributed to someone living during the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st it does indeed “reek of souvenir teacups and bobblehead sentiment.”

As Christians we are supposed to be about truth. Yet so often “does it feel good” seems to be more important than “is it true“, not just here on social media but also in too many pastors’ sermon illustrations and even personal testimonies of conversion and healing.[4]

As I said, Queen Elizabeth was not shy about her Christian faith, and there is plenty of evidence of that in her speeches, as Terry Mattingly documents in his article entitled “Elizabeth the Great: Why do many journalists choose to edit faith out of her Christmas talks?”. To his question  I would like to add the equally pertinent question, “Why do many Christians believe that it’s o.k. to embellish the truth as long as that makes a nice story?

__________
  1. I have chosen not to identify the Facebook users I mention because I want this to be about the issue of truthfulness, not about the shaming of individuals[]
  2. Since then someone else has created a slightly different version of the meme but still with a picture of Queen Elizabeth as implied attribution[]
  3. The King’s Business” was a monthly publication, from 1910 to 1970, from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, now Biola University[]
  4. Sometimes Christians look at impressive testimonies like St. Paul’s or Nicky Cruz‘s and give in to the temptation to make their own story more interesting by embellishing it.[]
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On Today’s Free Speech Crisis

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 Toby Young, British journalist and founder of the Free Speech Union, in conversation with Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute, with some insightfull comments about the new “woke” public morality (i.e. normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism, unrestricted abortion rights, etc.):

We have to try to understand why it has become harder and harder to disagree about essential values in the public square withhout falling out with each other, and why cancel culture has metastsized to become such an all-encompassing blight. I think it has something to do with the ebbing away of the Christian tide.

In the nineteenth century, and even in the first part of the twentieth century, we were a  Christian society, and the sacted values we were expected to observe were Christian values, and if someone comitted adultery, or got divorced, or was born out of wedlock, there was serious social stigma attached to that. We had a kind of public morality which people were expected to observe, and if they didn’t, they were sort of outcast, or they were in some kind of Bohemian sub-culture. There was some tolerance for people who didn’t believe, more tolerance, particular towards the end of the nineteenth century, in the higher education sector, towards people who challenged the prevailing orthodoxies, more tolerance than there is now.

So as the Christian tide ebbed away, so this morality faded, and particularly in the 1960s and 1970s all the taboos which had constrained people’s behavior, the moral taboos, fell away and there was a brief period where we enjoyed this intellectual, sexual freedom, and everyone thought that was what the future was going to be. But then, intererestingly, people seemingly found it quite difficult to cope with that degree of freedom, and they’ve embraced another, even more dogmatic morality, which in the past ten, fifteen years has become the public morality.

So after a brief interlude, one public morality has been replaced by another. And if you don’t sign up to the articles of faith of that political morality, you are now outcast, probably more outcast than you were if you didn’t sign up to the articles of the Christian faith in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

And I think that’s really what has happend: we have embraced this new, secular public morality which is actually, interestingly, much more puritanical, and censorious, and authoritarian, than the seemingly much more gentle Christian morality which at least allowed for forgiveness, a path back, redemption, but which this new public morality seemingly doesn’t allow for. And I think that’s why we live in an increasingly intoletant society, why, if you don’t sign up to the shibbolets of the “woke church”, you end up kind of cast out; and, curiously, lots of people who find themselves at odds with the articles of faith of that new public morality are orthodox Christians.

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Glory to Ukraine and victory to her defenders!

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Слава Україні та перемога її захисникам!

When I grew up it was in a family strongly opposed to war (reading books like E. M  Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”, set during WWI) but at the same time immensely grateful to the WWII Allies for defeating Hitler and his goons, liberating Austria from Nazi Germany, and then (at least the Americans) financing reconstruction.[1]

After I became a committed Christian I tended towards Just War theory but always with the niggling feeling that deciding if a particular war was just would be fraught with many thorny questions.

In recent years, turned off by the disastrous turns of the ostensibly just wars of the US and her allies in Afghanistan and Iraq, which could with some justification be considered just wars,[2] and through reading books from authors in the Anabaptist tradition, I was moving in the direction of an absolute pacifism.

However, after Vladimir Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine[3] this absolute pacifism has become untenable for me. It is self-evident to me that a nation in Ukraine’s situation has every right, both before God and man, to defend herself, including with military means. I believe this is covered by Romans 13:4: The government “does not carry the sword for no reason. For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.” — in this case Vladimir Putin and his army. I pray for Ukraine’s victory over the cruel invader and the removal, by whichever means God chooses, of Putin and his cronies, including the shameful Patriarch Kiril[4] of the Russian Orthodox Church, and I hope that our Western governments in the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and others, will continue to support Ukraine as long as necessary and not give in to Putin’s threats. Putin must not be allowed to keep any of his ill-gotten gains.

And so I read with satisfaction (tempered by pain over the loss of lives) about the recent victories of the Ukrainian forces and the partial routing of the Russian forces. I am convinced that Russian soldiers taken prisoner by the Ukrainians will by and large fare better than Ukrainian soldiers captured by the Russians.

Glory to Ukraine, and victory to her defenders!

__________
  1. The house I grew up in was financed by an ERP mortgage (ERP: European Recovery Program, also known as Marshall-Plan) []
  2. unless one had an anti-American or anti-Western pre-disposition[]
  3. The notion advanced by some, that Putin’s attack was justified because he felt thst Ukraine’s attempts to join the EU and NATO threatened Russia, is nonsense. No rational person can assume that the USA, let alone her Eurupean partners in NATO, would start a war in Europe. This idea is plausible only to someone who considers such an attack an appropriate way of realizing his “Imperial Russia” pipe dreams.[]
  4. Like all Orthodox bishops Kiril is a monk; yet his personal wealth is estimated to be around $4-8 billion, which even apart from his support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine casts an unfavourable light on him.[]
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Humans are either Female or Male

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A few days ago Spiked, a UK-based online magazine variously described  as either right-leaning libertarian or left-leaning libertarian, published an article by Gareth Roberts, the “cancelled” Dr. Who writer, entitled, Joan of Arc was not ‘nonbinary’. He criticizes an upcoming play at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, “I, Joan”, which ‘reimagines’ Joan of Arc as a nonbinary person; then he goes on to criticize the current tendency to project ideas and concepts of contemporary identity politics into the past, “identifying” historical persons as one of “LBGT+”.

This quote struck me:

It is, of course, notoriously difficult to define ‘nonbinary’. Like its siblings ‘trans’ and ‘queer’, it has an uncanny power to mean whatever the person using it fancies saying at the time. But so far as I can make out, it seems to boil down to not behaving stereotypically ‘like a man’ or stereotypically ‘like a woman’, but as a bit of both.

This is a newly discovered and exciting characteristic shared by 100 per cent of the human race. Declaring yourself ‘nonbinary’ is like demanding to be recognised as unusual because you’ve got a bumhole.

The problem is, of course, that in contemporary usage the term nonbinary doesn’t just mean not behaving stereotypically ‘like a man’ or stereotypically ‘like a woman’ but as a bit of both.

Instead it implies a refusal to be classified as either male or female[1] ; it is thus a denial of a foundational aspect of human nature as both Scripture and science affirm it:

So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.
(Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine)

Yes, science recognizes the condition of gender dysphoria, but with the exception of the 0.02%[2] of people born with ambiguous physical sex characteristics (intersex) those affected by it are nevertheless either male or female, and objective science untainted by political correctness identifies it as a pathology, which is considered totally unacceptable bigotry by those who identify as nonbinary

I don’t really have a problem with someone not fitting traditional gender stereotypes in either dress, behaviour, or even preference of name and pronouns, and of course people are free to call themselves what they want, and, as Jordan Peterson famously said, as a matter of politeness I will usually address an individual as he or she wishes to be addressed.

However, both as a Christian and as a thinking human being I reject the very concept of nonbinary persons as contrary both to Scripture and human nature, and I object to being compelled, whether by law, or company policy, or social pressure, to affirm someone’s gender self-identification as trumping biological fact.

The post-modern expectation that all of us ought to affirm as the ultimate reality someone’s self-identification even if that self-identification flies in the face of biological fact, or else face various kinds of sanctions, is the ultimate denial and rejection of the freedoms of speech, expression, or opinion as fundamental human rights, just as compelling people to affirm same-sex attraction, marriage, and sexual activity as normal and good is a denial of the freedom of religion.

I agree that in a pluralistic society we generally owe each other tolerance (within the constraints of the law[3]), but we do not owe anyone affirmation. 

 

__________
  1. This is also reflected in the language of gender assignment at birth which suggests that sex is is arbitrarily assigned rather than being discerned based on objective biological criteria[]
  2. There are those who put that percentage as high as 2%, but it seems to me they are driven more by ideology than sound research[]
  3. Within a church, the tolerance we owe each other is also constrained by the doctrine of that particular church[]
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The New, “Progressive” Public Morality

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Toby Young, British journalist and founder of the Free Speech Union, in conversation with Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute, has some insightful comments about the new “progressive” public morality (i.e. normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism, unrestricted abortion rights, etc.).

I am posting this not just because I agree with him (except for his use of “woke” to describe the new morality[1]), but to underline the main point in my recent post about Disney:

Most of the people who have subscribed to this new pulic morality sincerely believe themselves to be good, moral people; even some Christians have become persuaded of the new morality and have convinced themselves that just as we have abolished slavery so we need to abolish traditional sexual mores in order to be truly loving.

A “Christian” culture war rhetoric demonizing them and casting aspersions on their motives is effectively our version of “cancel culture” and will neither turn our society around, nor protect our children, nor increase the likelihood of winning people to Christ—which, after all, should be the church’s main goal.

Instead we should do as Christ did: compassionately, lovingly calling people to repentance, praying that the Holy Spirit would open their eyes to the deception of this new morality.

When we have an opportunity to oppose the new morality in the political realm (from school boards on up) we will be much more persuasive if we do so in a rational, measured tone and without resorting to personal invective. As Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.”

Here is Toby Young:

We have to try to understand why it has become harder and harder to disagree about essential values in the public square without falling out with each other, and why cancel culture has metastasized to become such an all-encompassing blight. I think it has something to do with the ebbing away of the Christian tide.

In the nineteenth century, and even in the first part of the twentieth century, we were a  Christian society, and the sacred values we were expected to observe were Christian values, and if someone comitted adultery, or got divorced, or was born out of wedlock, there was serious social stigma attached to that. We had a kind of public morality which people were expected to observe, and if they didn’t, they were sort of outcast, or they were in some kind of Bohemian sub-culture. There was some tolerance for people who didn’t believe, more tolerance, particularly towards the end of the nineteenth century, in the higher education sector, towards people who challenged the prevailing orthodoxies, more tolerance than there is now.

So as the Christian tide ebbed away, so this morality faded, and particularly in the 1960s and 1970s all the taboos which had constrained people’s behavior, the moral taboos, fell away and there was a brief period where we enjoyed this intellectual, sexual freedom, and everyone thought that was what the future was going to be.

But then, intererestingly, people seemingly found it quite difficult to cope with that degree of freedom, and they’ve embraced another, even more dogmatic morality, which in the past ten, fifteen years has become the public morality.

So, after a brief interlude, one public morality has been replaced by another. And if you don’t sign up to the articles of faith of that political morality, you are now outcast, probably more outcast than you were if you didn’t sign up to the articles of the Christian faith in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

And I think that’s really what has happend: we have embraced this new, secular public morality which is actually, interestingly, much more puritanical, and censorious, and authoritarian, than the seemingly much more gentle Christian morality which at least allowed for forgiveness, a path back, redemption, but which this new public morality seemingly doesn’t allow for. And I think that’s why we live in an increasingly intoletant society, why, if you don’t sign up to the shibbolets of the “woke church”, you end up kind of cast out; and, curiously, a lot of people who find themselves at odds with the articles of faith of that new public morality are orthodox Christians.

__________
  1. I believe using “woke” to describe the new morality’s sexual agenda is a mis-appropriation of a term that belongs to people of color in their fight against racism,  and mis-using it this way equates support of traditional Christian beliefs, and opposition to “progressive” beliefs, about sex, marriage, and the sanctity of life with racism, which is nonsense.[]
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The Woke Disney Company?

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In the conservative Christian online medium Mercatornet, Sydney journalist Sebastian James laments that “The Woke Disney Company is turning its back on family values.” He writes,

In a company-wide zoom meeting back in March, the president of Disney’s General Entertainment Content, Karey Burke, said the company “doesn’t have enough LGBTQIA leads in their content and don’t have enough narratives in which gay characters just get to be characters”. She vowed to change this “non-inclusive trend”.
Why can’t Disney stick to producing great content, family films which champion what is good, true, beautiful, and universal?

That question does Disney and its management an injustice. They believe that by making their products more “inclusive” they ARE in fact championing what is good, true, beautiful, and universal.

I also think that the so-called “inclusivity” of companies like Disney is an illusion; you rarely see conservative Christians with traditional views of sex and marriage portrayed as wholesome, but the same thing applies: they genuinely believe that such views are NOT wholesome but bigoted and harmful.

We may disagree with them and oppose them, and I do, but demonizing them by denying their sincerity or otherwise impugning their motives is neither fair or just, nor will it halt society’s trend of normalizing “alternative sexualities and identities.”

Let us by all means call sin “sin” but not lose sight of the fact that these folks’ greatest problem is not their view of sex and marriage but the fact that they are not following Christ, and that their unbiblical views are merely the outworking of that. Ultimately our task as Christians is winning people to Christ (including Disney president Karey Burke), not making secular society conform to Christian values (or lamenting the fact that the world’s values are, well, “worldly”).

Unfortunately it is also true that throughout much of church history Christians have treated “perverts” abominably, as if their sin were worse than heterosexual adultery, fornication and concubinage (which were frequently tolerated, even among church leaders), and even today we see scandals of churches most vociferously opposed to the normalization of homosexuality and same-sex marriage being revealed as having swept under the carpet the heterosexual abuse of children, adolescents, and other vulnerable people by clergy, in an (usually unsuccessful) effort to shield their institutions from liability and preserve their reputation. We as individuals, congregations, and even denominations may not have been guilty or complicit in these injustices, and may not even have been aware of them, or we may think that those who perpetrated them were not true Christians, but we must not ignore the damage these things have done to the testimony of the universal church and how they have contributed to the situation we see today:  “wokeness” may be an over-reaction but it is always is a reaction to injustice.

In Scripture we see Jesus rebuking with strong language (i.e. “you are of your father the devil”) those religious leaders who failed to obey not just the words but the spirit of God’s commandments, but calling ordinary sinners to repentance while treating them with love and compassion (i.e. “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”). As Jesus-followers it behooves us to do the same.


Banner picture: Lightyear / Disney/Pixar

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What is “the worst”??

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According to this article  in the Roys Report,

The 47-year old lead pastor of an evangelical church in Wiconsin was arrested after soliciting a sex act with an underage girl. …

“These arrests demonstrate that the market for juvenile commercial sex is not confined to limited segments of society,” said Washington County attorney Kevin Magnuson. “The buyers come from all walks of life and each are responsible for the tremendous harm to the victims, their families and the public that sex trafficking causes.” …

“It’s a sad thing,” said the church’s associate pastor. “This is a lose-lose scenario for the community and the people impacted by it. The worst thing is what this will do to his family — and the church family.”

Unfortunately this associate pastor’s perspective is all too common in churches across the denominational spectrum.

No sir, the worst is notwhat this will do to his family — and the church family”, but what this sort of thing does to the victims of sex trafficking and to the testimony of the Lord’s church, and that is where our focus should be, not on the perpetrator’s family and congregation (however painful and devastating this no doubt is for them), nor on the reputational and legal problems that may cause the local church and/or denomination.

 

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