The question of sexual identity and sexual activity is a complex one and is not addressed by Geoff Smith in his letter in the February edition.
Marriage is about the union of mind and spirit – the need to love and be loved to the exclusion of all others – the realisation that one’s life is incomplete without the other…I could go on. That it may or may not result in the production of children is irrelevant to the definition.
“Men and women were meant for each other.” I am a man and I don’t have a complementary biological or physiological make-up to a woman, in spite of what Geoff may wish to believe. Nor have I made a choice to be gay. It does not help any discussion to have such negative ideas as “hormonal imbalance”, and “…such a predisposition is a profound departure from the fundamental sexual partnership…”, and “…able to conceive new life together naturally.” thrown about. I was created as I am.
One can only assume that it is the having of children which is central to the idea of marriage, in Geoff’s definition of marriage.
The desire for marriage equality for all people has nothing to do with sexual equality, or legal equality, but it has everything to do with the desire for the affirmation of a relationship by the wider community, which a marriage ceremony offers.
My marriage to the man of my choice in no way affects the commitment straight people make to each other in their wedding vows, but it’s the opportunity for me to say to my partner, “I love you”, and for the community to say, “Hear, hear”.
Drysdale, VIC 3222
Everyone would agree that we would love to have more children and their parents in church. Of course! But worship styles need changing. The present model of four traditional hymns, prayers and a sermon – a hymn sandwich so called – does not have our families rocking up to worship. True the liturgy must remain in worship, but the way we do it needs to change. I have just completed a research project into three different styles of intergenerational worship and the findings from these three Uniting Churches around Melbourne point out some key factors.
Intentionality – churches need to be intentional in designing worship for all ages. The leadership and vision for intergenerational worship is most important. Unless the leadership and the majority of the congregation desire to go down the path of making concessions about how worship is structured there will be considerable disquiet and dissatisfaction.
Attitude change – some members of the congregations will require an attitude change. Change is something church folk on the whole do not want to contemplate. However, our mission is to the missing from our churches.
Children must learn by watching and imitating adults and fellow worshippers. We must make worship truly accessible to children. This does not mean worship has to be childish, but it has to be children-friendly.
There are many varied ways of conducting intergenerational worship. The three churches I researched were each different, but all alike in trying to offer a worship experience which was appropriate for all ages, all stages and all cultures. Sunday school is not thrown out. It is still a valuable part of our worship for children. However, it needs to be part of the whole experience not the only element children can participate in.
Hampton, VIC 3188
Being a regular reader of Crosslight I’d also like to make a few comments on the new James Bond movie Skyfall. As a film this is a superior one in the ongoing 007 saga. It is action packed; there is rich character development; it is tinged with humour; and it is a mixture of pure fantasy and reality.
But the aspect of the most interest to me is the moral issue it raises: that being the respect of human dignity – treating people as ends in themselves, not as instruments for the sake of achieving general and/or personal welfare.
M is a ruthless Chief of Intelligence. Her treatment towards Bond in the train roof-top sequence – and that of the master villain, Gerardo Rodriguez when he was one of her agents in the Orient – is open to question. Believing at the time that there was no possible alternative to achieving her goal other than swift action, she makes a decision leading to Bond’s possible death and, in the case of Rodriguez, his complete abandonment to the enemy. Surely there is always an alternative to achieving a particular goal that takes into full account the sanctity of human life regardless of the situation?
What makes M’s decision in the case of Bond most despicable is that he sees her as his surrogate mother and she is well aware of the attachment, but in this case she is acting mainly out of self-interest, for she is determined to succeed as her position is under serious review by her superiors. It must be held regardless of the cost. Being a woman in a man’s world and attaining such a post is quite an achievement. It has become her ‘whole’ life. Without it she has nothing, she becomes a nobody.
Therefore I leave two questions for your consideration.
Firstly, is it morally acceptable to sacrifice a life without the consent of the person concerned? Secondly, is it morally justifiable to sacrifice a life for your own particular ends?
Alex S Carter
East Ivanhoe, VIC 3079
The fires in Tasmania, NSW and in Victoria have left a trail of destruction as the reality of the summer firestorm became very personal for thousands of people. Warnings of a continuing threat in Victoria were realised into February, when, against the backdrop of the blackened landscape of Gippsland, loss of life occurred during fire fighting in the high country. Tasmanians too, particularly those on the Tasman Peninsula, continue to sift through the remains of property.
Like the secular song, as a nation we have seen fire and rain, as the east coast, principally Queensland and parts of northern NSW, live in the aftermath of wind and rain. The loss of life during the January Queensland flood brought home the raw emotion of the death of someone so close.
We rely on water for our basic existence. As it sustains us, it is events such as these natural disasters that remind us that something that we take for granted each day can also be something we fear.
The immediate reaction of the nation is to offer help and support. Politicians visit demonstrating ‘care and concern’. Government assistance, relative to its fiscal responsibilities, is small. Reliance on insurance can be a process which is sometimes more difficult than the loss suffered. This support has a monetary value, however, the real cost of disasters such as these fires and floods cannot be measured in financial terms.
Two years on from the devastating 2011 Queensland floods, despite an outpouring of national grief and support both practical and financial (donations and income levy), we have to question how many of those impacted so deeply remain hurting.
The Christian Gospel charter is underpinned by the principle of love. Each of us has a responsibility to remember and support the victims of these latest disasters to ensure that, as the land regenerates and the water subsides, new life can bring hope to those who now suffer.
Cherrybrook, NSW 2126
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom.12:15 RSV) The problem is that since ‘sexuality’ surfaced as an issue (1960s?) almost everyone has been weeping. Almost everyone could attack someone else for ignoring something in the Bible. What the Church has been heard to say has contributed nothing to what people are doing. Having perforce been involved, my struggle has been to find God’s way through the maze. It is an urgent quest now.
Very soon I shall have “to stand before the judgment seat of Christ”. (Rom.14:10) Paul emphasises that I have NO right “to judge someone else’s servant” – let alone to judge on a presumption. Paul reminded the recipients of his letter to Rome that: “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (and that is not qualified by reference to our God-given sexuality). I need always to remind myself that others also are “those for whom Christ died”.
My own position as I have understood Scripture has been that any sexual relationship outside of the marriage of a man and a woman is not God’s will. I am prepared to explain MY position but I have no right to dictate to another.
The Lord understands how strong temptation is. (Heb.2:18) We also have “one who speaks to the Father in our defense” (1 Jn.2:1 NIV) when we sin; and a God whose pardoning grace was proclaimed even before Jesus came. (Micah 7:18-19)
One big and constant challenge in aiming “to live to God’s glory” is to avoid causing “anyone to stumble”. (1.Cor.10:31-33). Perhaps clarifying my position may help others for so many are hurting so much as things are, and they are my ‘family’ in Christ.
I was a member of the Assembly Task Group on Sexuality in the 1990s and this may explain my deep concern about what has happened and is happening in the Church all over the world.
Altona Meadows, VIC 3028