(October 8, 2017) Dr Jim McClure, straight speaking theologian, challenges churches and Christians re lost credibility…
It was a cold night and the sheik was looking forward to closing his tent and climbing between the blankets. Just before he fell asleep, his camel put his nose in the tent and said to his master, ‘It is so cold out here that my nose is freezing! May I put my nose in the tent?’
‘Certainly,’ said the sheik, made himself comfortable and fell asleep.
Soon he was awakened again by the camel which had put his forelegs into the tent. The camel said, ‘Master, please let me put my forelegs in the tent; I won’t take up too much room.’ The sheik agreed to the request and moved over to make a little more room.
He was awakened again by the camel which said, ‘If I come wholly into the tent, the flap may be tied to keep out the cold. ‘Very well,’ said the sheik, and went back to sleep.
When he next awakened, he was lying outside in the cold. The camel had taken over his tent and there was no longer any room for him.
Today we see are witnessing a public enactment of this fable throughout the world, particularly in regard to the consequences of legalising what is mistakenly called ‘same-sex marriage.’
Peculiar framers of moral values
The sporting and entertainment celebrities who promote it are invariably portrayed as bold heroes and advocates of love, compassion and tolerance while all who oppose it – including those sporting and entertainment celebrities who have had the courage to express an opposite opinion – are vilified and maligned as bigots whose opinions should not be aired.
Ian Thorpe is declared as a hero for supporting ‘gay marriage’ while Margaret Court, the Australian tennis legend, is removed as the vice-patron of the Cottesloe Tennis Club after publicly stating that she does not support same-sex marriage.
The AFL temporarily replaced the letters ‘AFL’ with ‘YES’ and thus set itself up a football organisation that defines morality and clearly sees itself as the social conscience of the nation. ‘YES’ was also to be painted on Sherrin footballs that were to be sent to all 18 clubs and state leagues around the country.
Yet it is more than a little ironic that while the AFL (and Qantas and other large corporations) have entered the political arena and have publicly declared support for the ‘YES’ vote, a young woman was sacked from her job in Canberra because she posted the ‘NO’ vote on her Facebook page – Facebook has now deleted that post as ‘hate speech.’ The young woman has also received death threats and abusive messages.
Note this – the issue here is not just an attack on the principle and practice of marriage as defined in various cultures and for millennia as between a man and woman. The left-wing agenda is much more insidious and wide-ranging than that – and especially it has squarely in its sights the eradication of Christianity! In a recent meeting in Melbourne prompting the principle of marriage between a man and a woman, some people who opposed that principle invaded the platform and displayed banners declaring ‘Burn Churches.’
John Howard, the former Prime Minister, is right when he said, ‘Changing the definition of marriage – which has lasted for time immemorial – is NOT an exercise in human rights and equality. It is an exercise in de-authorising the Judaeo-Christian influence in our society and anyone who pretends otherwise is deluding themselves.’
Politicians are often quick to refer to what is happening in other countries in support of the arguments and policies they advocate, but, surprisingly, many of those same politicians dismiss as irrelevant the significant intolerance and attack on Christian belief and values in countries that have already approved of same sex ‘marriage’ dismissing those concerns as irrelevant and distractions to what would happen in Australia.
History reveals that, under the pretext of equality, freedoms have frequently been systematically eradicated and the foundational Judeo-Christian values, which have been a sound bedrock for many nations for many centuries, are being eroded by advocates of left wing secular humanist ideology who, under the mantra of ‘human rights’ mean ‘only those rights which we hold!’
Three basic principles
Despite the cave-in by some Christian leaders and the compromise of others, the idea of marriage between two (or more) people of the same sex is irrational as it violates at least three basic principles:
A same-sex couple cannot have their own biological child! That is a given. Procreation, that is, the producing of babies, depends on the fertilising of an egg by sperm and these can only be provided by people of the opposite sex. The use of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogate mothers deliberately produces children who will live apart from either their biological mother or father.
It is true that infertile male/female couples are allowed to use IVF or surrogate mothers to have children (and are also allowed to adopt) and those children also will live apart from their biological mother or father.
But the significant difference is that children reared in such households have both a father and mother figure in their family life. It is often falsely maintained that there is no evidence that children are psychologically harmed by having two fathers or two mothers. In fact, there is substantial academic argument to demonstrate the opposite!
In the biblical account of the creation story, God created a man and a woman and their union was blessed. ‘God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number …” ’ (Genesis 1:27-28). And ‘… a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:24). And Jesus, in upholding the basic principles of marriage, referred to those verses in Matthew 19:4-6.
Although there can be many positive values in relationships with people of the same sex, only a union that reflects the principle of reproduction, which clearly requires both male and female, can rightly be called a marriage.
The failure of the Christian witness
Recently on the Footy Show, when the issue of the AFL’s stand on SSM was discussed, Eddie McGuire said, ’We’ve got churches that have completely lost any credibility in what they stand for.’ While I would not particularly want to quote McGuire as an authority on religious matters, his observation here was quite accurate. For a variety of reasons Christian witness has failed to be the influence in society that Jesus called them to be.
In Matthew 5 Jesus tells his followers of their responsibility to be ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world.’ These analogies were used to emphasis the fact that Christians have a God-given responsibility to influence the world for good. But the way of compromise, the appeal of comfort and the pursuit of convenience and affluence have so diminished the positive and wholesome Christian influence in society that the comment that ‘churches that have completely lost any credibility in what they stand for’ sadly, is all too true!
Regrettably the church of today reveals many of the characteristics of the church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-16). Pergamum is an example of a church in any age that compromises its beliefs and allows worldly values seriously to affect it. Not only did it not denounce rampant evil, but it also tolerated it. The church was in a difficult environment, but its challenge was to stand firm and not to capitulate and compromise despite the pressures to do so.
The Risen Christ specifically mentioned the false teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans to the Christians at Pergamum church (verses: 14 and15). Apparently both groups taught essentially the same thing – compromise, toleration of evil and acceptance of the world’s standards! In the early 2nd century those who followed that teaching ‘lived lives of unrestrained indulgence’ (Irenaeus) and that they ‘abandon themselves to pleasure’ (Clement of Alexandria).
The current philosophy that dominates much of Western society is called Relativism which could be defined as ‘Morality as defined by the majority.’ If you can get enough people to say that something that is wrong is actually right (such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage) then the ‘wrong’ becomes the ‘right’ and those who deny it are wrong! Truth is no longer seen as objective and a fixed thing but as something that is constantly changing and being redefined.
Consequently sound Christian values have not suddenly been rejected – moral decadence and hostility towards the church did not happen overnight. Rather it has been creeping into society bit by bit for a number of decades until it has become the acknowledged norm that had approval and support of the media as it seeks the dignified and powerful position and backing of government legislation.
Small beginnings – big consequences
Before the Israelites left Egypt, God prepared them for departure. As they had to leave Egypt in haste after the Passover, they could not even wait for their bread to rise but to bake their bread without yeast. This was subsequently commemorated as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
God gave these instructions: ‘For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread’ (Exodus 12:19-20).
Let me explain the significance of this.
For the Jew yeast usually signified the infiltrating influence of evil and that is how sin is often characterised in the Bible. We know how yeast works – when a very small bit of yeast is put into flour and water, it permeates the whole lump of dough and grows in size.
Accordingly Paul has written, ‘Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are’ (1Corinthians 5:6-7).
Corruption has small beginnings but large (and often unexpected) repercussions. What we may dismiss as inconsequential can ultimately destroy.
It is incumbent on all Christians – and particularly on church leaders – to be what Christ calls us to be and to do what he has commissioned us to do without compromise and with boldness! That is the only way that we shall regain our credibility and be the ‘salt’ and ‘light’ that lie at the heart of discipleship.
Unless we do, the camel will not only take over but also remain within the tent!
Dr Jim McClure, author of several books and Bible study series, welcomes questions from Christians seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives.
Recommended is Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, available in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats with hyperlinks and offered free. Link for orders and questions: firstname.lastname@example.org