Read the article on “What Does the Bible Say About Women Bishops?” to understand what God intended for man and woman.
Read the article on “What Does the Bible Say About Women Bishops?” to understand what God intended for man and woman.
I thought this was an interesting story. Firstly, I had no idea that prayers were even held at secular meetings. And now I have learnt that although this practice seems to be fairly widespread among local council meetings, it has been ruled unlawful.
Perusing the article reveals that it is not unlawful as regards breaching human rights, it is unlawful under a particular statute from 1972 which holds that the local council has no power to summon its members to meetings which includes prayers.
Prayers may still be held, but councillors cannot be formally summoned to attend.
So does this represent the further erosion of Christianity in our society, or is it a mere nonsense given the secular nature of our society?
Such a practice is centuries old in England and the article states that it dates from the Elizabethan era. In those times England was a wholly Christian country and it would have been the norm for such a meeting to open with prayer. The King or Queen as head of the church was more involved in political matters in those days, and religion and state were firmly intertwined.
Today only vestiges remain of such a society. The issue with regard to the holding of prayers has more of a historical feel to it than a religious feel. Those who are objecting probably object equally to the tradition being uprooted as they do to the removal of the prayers.
In the 21st century religion and state are in the main separated. Many leading politicians say they are Christian, as do a vast majority of citizens on their census form, but many of these people simply regard Christianity as part of their heritage rather than something practical that affects their everyday lives.
Nevertheless it gives some reassurance to genuine Christians that those who govern the country do try to take the wishes and will of the Almighty into consideration. I myself was pleasantly surprised that such a practice existed, rather than being annoyed that it may now cease.
What matters ultimately it not whether public prayers are said prior to council meetings, but what is inside the hearts of those who rule this country. Do they truly have God’s will as their own? Do they always act in the best interests of others rather than themselves? Looking at the country as a whole the answer has to be no – or at the very least, those who do fall in that category are a minority. Human nature always seems to overrule godly nature these days in matters of politics.
So let us be thankful that a Christian minority does exist out there, and that sometimes its voice is heard. Don’t forget that we can always use our own prayers to ask that those in charge of our countries are ultimately acting in a way that will bring God’s plan for salvation to fruition.
The title of this post is a phrase I have heard repeatedly over the past few weeks in the UK. I’ve heard it from people at work, people I chat to on my daily commute to work, and people at church. People are of course referring to the recent outbreaks of rioting and looting in the major cities.
I work in the city of Bristol myself which experienced some mild disruption, but nothing that affected me personally. It seemed clear though that your average person could not even remotely comprehend the mindset of someone who would want to go round stealing from and vandalizing businesses, and in some cases causing physical harm to others for no reason.
Many theories have been bandied around as to the causes of these local uprisings. Among them were boredom, poor social upbringing, lack of father figures, lack of moral guidance, lack of respect for authority, and protests against rising taxes and welfare cuts. I suspect that the true answer lies in a combination of all of the above and more.
I want to explore the proposition that a lack of moral guidance can eventually lead to anarchy. Where does moral guidance come from? There are two possible sources: external and internal.
External moral guidance comes from leaders, either political or religious. People take their morals from what the law of the land says is right and what their religious leader or religious book says is right. People who are aware of or take notice of these morals are likely therefore to stick to doing what is right so that they don’t face the consequences of wrongdoing, either in this life – or the next.
I also believe that people have an innate sense of right and wrong, an internal moral compass if you like. Some people say that if no-one believed in God there would be no such thing as right and wrong but I find that hard to believe as there are many, many agnostics and atheists who do good works. Internal morals seem to me to be a consequence of the society one lives in. For the good of society its better to help others, not cause others harm, and to reciprocate good deeds.
So the links between the above comments and the impulse to loot and riot seems to be that firstly, today’s leaders and politicians are not perceived as holding high moral standards. There has been a culture of lies, cover ups, spin, and getting away with what they can.
Secondly religion of any kind is no longer a high priority for the majority of the UK. Many people do not believe in any God, or accept any religious text as truth. Consequently this form of moral guidance is seen as little more than archaic rules which have a historical role in the original formation of the laws of the land.
This leaves the internal moral compass. It seems to me that society is dragging itself down, and the morality of certain sections of society has become focused on the individual and what those individuals can get for themselves. As this attitude of entitlement spreads from parent to child, and family to family, people forget that there was ever any other way of thinking. The moral compass falls lower and the individuals concerned do not have any concept of how to right it, or even any concept that there is anything wrong with it.
What can I say? I would call on politicians to clean up their act, to act for the good of the people and not the good of themselves and their party. I would encourage politicians to endorse respect for religion, particularly Christianity in the UK, and to hold its beliefs as admirable. I would advise them to get back to Biblical morality even if the faith element is not present, and to use these values to correct the internal moral compass of Great Britain.
Will the politicians learn from the events of the last few weeks? We shall see, but I suspect not. And yet only good can come of having respect for each other and each others property while we await the coming of our true moral leader, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So why didn’t the world end yesterday? Where was Jesus? No doubt you read the many newspaper and internet stories about a gentleman named Harold Camping, and the many people who believed in his prediction that 21 May 2011 was the day of the rapture when Jesus would come to save his true believers and the rest of the world would perish in earthquake and fire.
It didn’t happen.
Here we all are, a day later, and nothing has changed.
And yet despite the craziness surrounding this non event I find a small amount of sympathy for the people who truly believed this was going to happen. As a Christian I know what it is to long for the second coming of Jesus. I believe that the Bible teaches the return of Christ, the resurrection of believers, the judgment, and then the setting up of God’s kingdom on earth which will be a cleansing of our poor abused planet. I can’t wait for that day, and I know many other Christians who feel the same way.
Unlike Mr Camping though I also believe that “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24 vs 36) and I’m afraid that anyone who therefore says they know the exact date of the return of Christ must have been misled.
What we have been given is some signs, so that we can look at the world, and see that the time of the return of Jesus is drawing ever near. It is however impossible to be dogmatic about it. So what should we be looking out for:
All of the above are signs given to us in the Bible that the time of the return of Christ is near – and all of the above have happened to a greater or lesser degree over the past fifty to one hundred years. How much worse will things get before we see the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory?
We don’t know the answer, but we must all continue to watch and be ready, so that when the day finally comes we will be welcomed with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matthew 25 vs 21)
This week we have seen in the UK a story in the press about a gay couple who sued a Cornwall Bed & Breakfast who refused to allow the couple to share a double room on the basis of their Christian beliefs that unmarried couples should not share rooms. This particular case has caused a lot of backlash in the press, articles have been written in favor of one side or the other, and online newspaper reports have had many hundreds of heated comments.
It seems that such cases are becoming more and more common; its not the first case of its kind to hit the UK headlines. An important point is raised by this and similar cases: who’s rights are more important? The answer is not easy.
The arguments are:
Why should two people of the same sex who having chosen to be in a loving committed relationship face discrimination for their lifestyle choices?
Why should two people who are committed followers of a certain religion face discrimination for not being able to put the principles of that religion into practice in their daily lives?
Giving freedom to one person can quite often restrict the freedom of another.
From my point of view, I am of course a Christian, and my sympathies are with the hotel owners. However I also understand that whilst Britain is nominally a Christian country, these days many of those who call themselves Christian only offer the religion lip service, and the title is simply from lack of knowing what else to call themselves. A very small percentage of the population actually attends church on a regular basis these days.
As Christians we do have to take the laws of the country into consideration in all our actions, and the Bible tells us to obey the authorities – so long as their rules do not conflict with the rules of God.
It is therefore a hazard, as Britain and many other “Westernized” countries become increasingly more secular, of undertaking our daily activities that we will come across situations that conflict with our personal beliefs.
For example, a strict Christian, myself included, would say that it is wrong to be in an active homosexual relationship, or indeed any sexual relationship outside of marriage. There is however an overriding Christian duty to love everyone, and do good to your neighbor, so I think most Christians would agree that one should “love the sinner, hate the sin” – not forgetting that we are all sinners of course.
So – do you have gay friends? Do you have friends “living in sin?” Do you work with people in these circumstances? Are you obliged to provide services to people in relationships of which you don’t approve? Is it different providing a service that involves allowing people to actively participate in the relationship of which you don’t approve, such as the hotel industry? Do you just do your job and mind your own business where other people’s personal lives are concerned?
Such questions could be asked in any kind of personal service industry, and I suspect there is not one person who does not come into contact with situations like this.
There’s no easy answer.
Being a Christian in a secular society, the best answer I have is to work to actively limit in your life the situations that may bring you into conflict with secular rules and regulations, and to do your best to lead a Christian example in your own friendships and relationships.
Let us take comfort in the fact that the increasing secularization of society can only mean that we are coming closer to the times of the end, when Jesus will return to restore all things. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
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