Archive for August, 2012

Brazil allows three-person civil unions

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

brazil-allows-three-person-civil-unions

Three people have been allowed to enter into a civil union in Brazil.

Three people in a polygamous relationship have been allowed to enter into a civil union in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo.

The decision has sparked controversy in Brazil. Campaigners in the UK say that tampering with the definition of marriage would pave the way for such unions here.

The Brazilian trio, one man and two women, have been living together for three years.

Absurd

Public notary Claudia do Nascimento Domingues has sparked controversy by allowing a union between the trio. She says they are entitled to family rights.

But Regina Beatriz Tavares da Silva, a lawyer, said it was “absurd and totally illegal”, and “something completely unacceptable which goes against Brazilian values and morals”.

She told the BBC that the union will not be allowed to remain in place.

Same-sex

The trio’s union was formalised three months ago, but has only recently come to light.

Same-sex unions have been legally recognised in Brazil from 2004, and last year a judge allowed a same-sex union to be recognised as a gay marriage.

Petition

News of the polygamous union comes as the Governments at both Westminster and Holyrood consider plans to rewrite the definition of marriage.

A petition against any change, organised by the Coalition for Marriage, has been signed by nearly 600,000 people.

The Coalition commented: “If consensual love between adults is the defining factor as to whether people should be joined in a state-recognised marriage-type union, then there is no logical reason for restricting that union to two people.

“The fact of the matter is, marriage rapidly unravels when politicians start unpicking its established meaning. The Government should stop meddling with marriage.”

The Bishop’s “Reverse Marriage”

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

By Trey Dinsdale, Christian Post

[…]  Bishop Robinson, who was once married to a woman and is now divorced and remarried to a man, was asked at one point why he should be taken seriously as an advocate for his position when he himself has broken the vow that he took with his former wife. Bishop Robinson’s reply was interesting and in a way, I can see how it would seem noble to one who thinks from his perspective. His response was a description of how his marriage ended. Mr. and Mrs. Gene Robinson went to the courthouse with their priest and lawyer and after they received a divorce decree, they went directly to their church where they read apologies and gave back the symbols of their vows, the rings that they had exchanged seventeen years earlier when they were married. Their vows had been to honor one another and when it became clear that the present circumstance was unnatural for Mr. Robinson, they mutually agreed to release one another from those vows in order to honor those same vows. There is a circular and internal consistency to their logic.

There is one profound problem, however. Marriage vows aren’t exchanged to be self-affirming and internally consistent. Marriage vows have become an important ritual that reflects the supernatural union of a man and a woman. No less than the Lord Himself tells us that it is God who joins the two into one flesh and that no man (which includes the parties to the marriage) can separate that union (Matthew 19:6). Jesus simply does not provide a contingency plan in case those vows become too difficult to honor or in the case when tortured logic seems to affirm that the best service to those vows is to break them. The fact remains, vows do not join a man and woman together in marriage. God does that. The ritual is important, but the ritual is reflective of the reality and the reality is that the marriage union is for life no matter the circumstances. The “reverse marriage” that Bishop Robinson described is unique and interesting and certainly sends the message that he takes marriage “unbelievably seriously”, in his own words. The precedent that he sets, however, is a selfish one. What preferences amount to a circumstance that would necessitate the breaking of marriage vows? Surely there are others. Who is the arbiter of the answer to this question? The individual? If that is the case, marriage is meaningless. The institution falls apart, because every marriage vow has a qualifier attached—I am committed to this marriage and to you UNTIL the circumstances don’t suit my preferences. The Bible simply makes no provision for a “reverse marriage.” Because of sin, Moses made an accommodation for divorce which is really designed to protect the vulnerable (Matthew 19:8; Deut. 24:1) and believers are given permission by Paul to relent in their resistance to divorce that they did not initiate (1 Corinthians 7:15), but nowhere does God make any provision for undoing marriage. In fact, God regards it as a violent and destructive act (Malachi 2:16).

Selective Indignation From Bishop Tutu and Pals

Monday, August 27th, 2012

It is hard to characterize TV as a Christian witness, or even a broadly moral one.  Even as the internet begins to eclipse it, TV retains considerable power to influence tastes, attitudes and world view.  Most of what it puts out today is antithetical to most religious and traditional world views.  I think that most American Christians have learned to roll our eyes and click the remote.

A significant Christian and world leader from recent history, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu certainly understands the power of TV.  It was a key battleground in his crusade to end racial segregation and inequality – apartheid – in South Africa.  The world looking in via the TV screen was the strongest weapon in Tutu’s political and moral arsenal.

So you would think he might recognize and say something about all of the TV garbage that coarsens and corrupts cultures around the world.

You would think that his Christian sensibilities would lead him to condemn a glitzy ABC offering called “Revenge,” a series rendering stylish and sexy that which the Word of God condemns.

Or the cutesy “The New Normal” which has cool people assuring us that the kind of family spelled out by God in creation, and affirmed by Jesus and his apostles, is abnormal and irrelevant to the well being of humanity.

Or anything to do with the Kardashians and their very American celebration of self-absorption, materialism and excess.  (Do you even need a link?)

Imagine a world in which getting even was considered uncool and ugly, families were intact and humble living prevailed.  But those petty issues don’t seem to move the Nobel Prize winner and a group of similarly recognized international moral figures with whom he is speaking out.

So what are they protesting?  NBC’s new “Stars Earn Stripes,”  a reality show in which

Hosts Samantha Harris and Gen. Wesley Clark join eight celebrity competitors in military-inspired challenges for charity.

and

The producers, hosts and celebrity contestants reveal what it’s like to face the challenges of real American heroes.

Now, only a fool would argue that peace is not a prominent feature of the kingdom of God.  Yet in this age, God allows legitimate force to prevent greater evil, and when soldiers asked what they needed to do to enter the coming kingdom, they were told only to refrain from abusing their legitimate authority, not to adopt pacifism.

Tutu and a gaggle of other selective moralists have decided that “Stars Earn Stripes” is the one show that could negatively influence the otherwise wonderful world of television:

“Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public”

One wonders if the issue is peace or if it is the fact that American Special Forces members are the ones who put the celebrities through their paces, and that one of the celebs is (gasp) the husband of (scream) Sarah Palin.

Jesus had something to say about moral posturing in a world overrun by falsehood:

 

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!  (Matthew 23:24 ESV)

Whatever status the Nobel Prize winners might have, it is just absurd to pick one show out of TV’s endless lineup of violence and degradation and launch a protest on behalf of “peace.”

Unless they are actually about ideology, desiring to propagandize against one particular nation’s military.  In which case, they are not militating for peace at all.

Regional Anglican Celebrations

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Chris Sugden   Evangelicals Now September 2012

The last 12 months has seen a significant development in the Anglican Communion.  National Anglican Churches (Provinces is the technical term) have begun to hold significant large gatherings of all Anglicans in their area along with international guests from other parts of the Communion.

This is part of the “celebration” level of church gatherings which can be classed as “cell” – or home groups,  “congregation” – what most of us experience on Sundays and “celebration” – everyone getting together in an area or region. Churches in Oxford have done this for the last seven years with “Love Oxford” when many churches shut their doors on one Sunday and all meet together in a central outdoor location.  English dioceses have occasionally done this by taking over a football stadium.  Gatherings such as Word Alive, Bible by the Beach, Spring Harvest, New Wine and Keswick are also such celebrations.

The Church of Nigeria under its new Archbishop Nicholas Okoh led the way in November 2011 with a celebration in the National Christian Centre, a national cathedral in Nigeria’s capital Abuja for all Christian denominations built on the other side of an inner ring road from the national Mosque.  The “cathedral” holds 5000 people and was filled for a week in November 2011 for the Divine Commonwealth Conference (DIVCCON) of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican). Morning plenary addresses were followed by seminars and workshops in all parts of the building and an evening celebration.  The conference issued a communiqué which among other matters took the British Prime Minister to task for tying western aid to the imposition of western ideas on human rights and sexuality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Syria – the lies being told

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Elizabeth Kendal,  Evangelicals Now, September 2012  (Excerpts)

Without a doubt, the greatest lie being told about the Syrian conflict is that it is being waged by President Assad against ‘the Syrian people’.

This is pure propaganda. in December 2011, just three months into the crisis, the Qatar Foundation conducted a major poll inside Syria to assess the level of support for Assad…..the results revealed that 55% of Syrians supported President Assad and 68% of Syrians disapproved of the Arab League sanctions.  So the main division in Syria is not between Assad and the rest, but between Sunni Islamists and the majority of Syrians…..

Western governments are supporting the Islamists. What started out as a non-sectarian protest movement was quickly hijacked by sectarian Sunnis. Demanding regime change and Sunni rule, they rejected all talk of reform and refused to negotiate. The chaos in Syria presented all those interested in countering ascendant Iran with a golden opportunity to take a massive bite out of the strategic Shi-ite crescent.  The Syrian conflict evolved into a regional proxy war.  The US, NATO and Turkey have allied with Sunni Arab Saudi Arabia and Qatar to pursue regime change in Syria believing it to be the best way to isolate and wound their grand nemesis: Iran.

The West has long known that the Syrian opposition was being inflitrated by international jihadists……. In April 2011 the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East warned that fundamentalist Muslims were calling for Jihad, Christian villages were being attacked and churches receiving threatening letters. ….. Who will stop international Islamists from establishing little emirates in towns they control, where sharia will be enforced and from where Christians will be forced to flee?  The battle for Aleppo is critical. It is home to swaths of loyalist Sunni Arab and Kurdish business elite as well as some 250,000 Christians. Jihadists will doubtless attempt to infiltrate Christian districts, not only to kill Christians but to draw the regime’s return fire into those districts.  Great for propaganda.

Elizabeth Kendal is an international religious liberty analyst and advocate.

Episcopal Bishop Promotes Homosexuality, Denies Biblical Authority

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Bishop Gene RobinsonKristin Rudolph, IRD

Christians on either side of the homosexuality debate have “a lot to agree on … [but] one of the things we might not agree on is that book … the Bible,” said Bishop Gene Robinson at Skyline Church’s “Conversation on the Definition of Marriage.” Robinson was the first openly gay priest ordained in the Episcopal Church.

On Sunday, July 28, San Diego’s Skyline Church invited Robinson, John Corvino, Jennifer Roback Morse, and Robert Gagnon for this discussion. Robinson, the retiring bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and Corvino, philosopher and co-author of the recent book Debating Same-Sex Marriage, were defending homosexual unions. Morse, founder and president of The Ruth Institute, and Gagnon, a theologian at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, defended traditional marriage.

“The Church is trying to ask and answer the question, how big … is God’s love for all of God’s children,” Robinson said in his opening statement. He explained that differing views of the Bible are a large reason for “why we miss each other in these conversations.” According to the Bishop: “The Bible is words about God [but] they were words not dictated by God … all of those words were meant to point to the living reality of a living God.”

Robinson explained his view on the Scriptures. “I take the Bible unbelievably seriously,” he stressed. “I take it so seriously that I refuse to take it simply.” According to Robinson, “context means everything,” and when reading scripture, one should ask: “Is the context described there similar to our context and therefore is eternally binding?” Through this contextualization, he discounted scriptural prohibitions of homosexuality, and argued that Jesus’ promise in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would “guide you into all truth” means that Christians should adopt an evolving view on sexual ethics.

With his highly contextualized and selective view of Scripture, Robinson admitted it is “a very tough call” to determine whether “the little voice I hear in my brain is God’s voice or my ego doing a magnificent impression of God’s voice.” He further insisted: “We’re not challenging the definition of marriage … we just want to be let in to that institution.” Robinson then compared legalizing same-sex marriage with opening marriage to African Americans after the Civil War and overturning anti-miscegenation laws in the Civil Rights era.

Read here

Deluge: Four Things We Can Learn From The Chick-fil-A Win

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Sarah Hey

I just wanted to make certain that all of us can see and understand what’s under our noses from the past week’s fun.

To recap, Chick-fil-A experienced what can only be called an outpouring of support all over the country. Even as a conservative who’s quite aware that the progressive activists are a tiny minority of the country’s population, I was astonished at the display on Wednesday of last week; I never expected the level of involvement, engagement, and passion that we saw. All around the country—not merely in the good old South—people stacked up, stood in line outside, and flooded the counters of Chick-fil-A.

On Friday, the gay activists were going to have their parallel outpouring of non-support. . . only it didn’t turn out that way at all.

What can we learn from last week’s demonstration? Or rather, of what can we be reminded, since I expect that most of the readers here already recognize these four principles from the past?

First, the fascists are the progressive activists. They want a country—and in The Episcopal Church, a denomination—that bullies others into silence, forces others to support them with their money, redefines morality, and forces redefinitions of words, without protest from those who don’t want that. If they ever gain the power, they’ll make laws that won’t allow you to voice your opinion, support what you believe, build your own businesses, claim any social power or credibility, and refuse to support what you do not believe in. If they could, they’d send you to prison for refusing to support their agenda.

I think many—many—more Americans recognize this today than they did two weeks ago. These people are not “tolerant.” They’re bullies, they hate those who do not support their agenda, and they will do all in their power to hurt you, try to embarrass you and silence you, and force you to capitulate on your values and your morality.

This is who they are—and that’s demonstrable from the actions and the on-the-record statements of the last several weeks.

Second, no surprise, but the supporters of traditional marriage are in the large majority.  We all know this—including, I should add, the gay activists.

Remember, their rhetoric is designed to imply that the vast majority of Americans are in support of redefining marriage to include one particular, currently-faddish-amongst-progressives, sexual attraction. They spend a lot of time and money cultivating the “inevitability” meme, so as to discourage organized resistance.

As I pointed out in a recent post:

“…what gay marriage activists want to foster—in fact, a time-honored tradition on the part of liberal activists—is the perception of “inevitability” which, if such inevitability is accepted, means that opponents will cease the effort of resistance. But there’s a big difference between attempting to promulgate the vision of “inevitability” and that inevitability actually being reality.  Gay marriage approval is not inevitable at all, and I don’t think Americans are buying it either.”

Only—it’s not inevitable. Not at all. And their supporters are not in the majority—not even close.

So it may be time for them to wheel back from that line of rhetorical spin and return to their “pity us, give us a few bones, we’re being oppressed by a cruel majority of bigots” meme.

Which brings me to point three.

Third, the progressive activists have so misused language that fewer and fewer who are opposing them are ashamed any more.

Part of the strategy on the part of progressive activists—after asserting droningly that only a tiny minority of savages would actually dare to believe that marriage should not be redefined in order to accommodate one particular minority sexual attraction currently faddish amongst progressives—is to attempt to shame people into being quiet. Whatever else happens, progressive activists can’t afford to have people saying out loud what they believe, since the more people say these things out loud, the more others recognize that they have allies and are not, after all, in the minority, but quite the opposite.

That’s the big shift I’ve seen over the past 9 years, since 2003. In those days there was a bit more shame or fear involved in saying out loud “I don’t believe that marriage should be redefined to include one particular minority sexual attraction just in order to make them feel better about themselves. And furthermore, I don’t think sexual acts between two men or two women is a good thing at all, in fact, it is harmful and wrong.”

Now, there’s just a whole lot less shame in being public and open about one’s traditional beliefs and values. On Wednesday, August 1, many thousands of people said it. And they felt good saying it, and they’ll continue to say it more and more.

Nobody cares any more if they’re labelled a “bigot” by gay activists—it’s a badge of honor, and there’s no shame in it.

I sense that difference now—a big shift in the willingness of people to step up and say out loud and publicly—“nope, we don’t agree and we’re not going to support it.”

I was struck by one local radio call-in commentary on the support—the commentator, who is, I believe, a Baptist, stated [and I paraphrase] “in the parking lot here I see stickers from all the churches . . . Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian, and so many more. Everyone’s out supporting Chick-fil-A.”  He took care to note the myriad of denominations, and had no special need to note “Episcopalian”—he just noticed it.

Truth is, the majority of Episcopalians don’t want marriage redefined either. And in the past, they’ve been too quelled and fearful to say that out loud.  But the tide is turning, and more of them now are saying “uh, no—we don’t want this and we won’t support it and you can’t make us.”

And folks, the current TEC leaders cannot make parishioners support it either. They can’t make us write checks, and they can’t keep us from redirecting money to more worthy charitable endeavors. And we can do that just fine and remain Episcopalians, because the current TEC leaders don’t get to redefine what being an Episcopalian is, no matter how hard they try.

That’s why Episcopalians who are staying in TEC all around the country need to Write The Letter, and continue on worshipping happily at their chosen parishes. You’re in the majority, you need to state what you believe, and let the progressive activists squeal and try harder all they like.  They can own the national instruments of TEC, and they may even own your diocese—but you own your checkbook, and you own your voice, and you get to say what you believe and what you support.

We’ll see more of this around TEC, of that I’m confident. More Episcopalians distancing themselves from the stances of our leadership, and shutting off more and more money.

Fourth, symbolic action counts.

The actions of Wednesday not only heartened the majority of American citizens, they deflated the tiny minority of progressive activists—and I think that’s one reason why The Great Kiss-In was such a flop. When people recognize just how outnumbered they are, it’s harder to get them out there engaged in childish demonstrations.

They—and their willing allies in the media—will certainly make every effort to discount and “forget” what happened on Wednesday.

It’s up to us to make certain we don’t forget and that those symbolic actions transfer to more meaningful and substantive actions.

But don’t let people—either conservatives or progressive activists—try to tell you that “symbolism doesn’t count.” It does, even if you can’t point to something “real” accomplished from those symbolic actions.  There’s a reason why opponents go for the flag-bearer, even when the flag-bearer doesn’t engage in the active part of the battle. There’s a reason why taking down statues in town squares is meaningful, even though technically what does it actually accomplish in the progress of the battle? There’s a reason why Puddleglum’s stamping out of the fire and speaking strongly about the lies that the powerful queen was telling to the children was a powerful symbolic action, even though they were defeated, lost, and afraid.

Symbolic actions matter, especially when they evolve into more.

Hopefully they will.