HEATHER and Bill Mathew are 100 percent correct about Israel’s crimes against humanity. They must be absolutely condemned. In the eloquent words of former Australian of the Year, General David Morrison: “The standard we walk by is the standard we accept.”
Moonee Ponds, VIC
Too soon to decide
I ASK the July 2018 Assembly to commit to making a decision on marriage in 2021 rather than during the 2018 Assembly. I believe that two months between the release of the Standing Committee report and the July 2018 Assembly is too short a timeframe to fully understand the Godly reasons for and against each of the presented options, or indeed to consider other viable options.
I don’t believe that we have given all Uniting Church members (who want to) a chance to participate in this conversation whereas we could design some lead-up processes to allow this participation if the decision was made in 2021.
The decision about Christian marriage that we are considering is truly historic. We might possibly change something that has been present in 2000 years of Christian history plus another few thousand years of the history of God’s people before that. I agree that we need to discuss the issue of Christian marriage now that civil marriage law has changed. I offer no preferred position on marriage in this letter.
However, as a uniting church I believe we should aim for a consensus decision on marriage rather than a variety of marriage practices. We must make sure that all people know they are valued children of God whatever decision we make.
A good proposal
WITH the National Assembly about to begin I would like to state my strong support for the Standing Committee’s recommendation that same-gender marriages go ahead.
The Uniting Church in Australia is the only church which offers full membership and leadership to gay and lesbian people.
The celebration of same-gender weddings would be a boon to the gay community. At last our love would have God’s official blessing. And the Uniting Church would earn the respect of the whole society.
Michael E East
Genesis of doubt
WHY are our churches empty and so many in need are deprived of the gospel?
It used to be thought that the world was created exactly as we now see it.
Along came the geologists showing that English landscapes were formed from layered sediments. Sedimentary strata in the Australian Kimberly are 2-3 million years old.
Then Charles Darwin showed that species are not immutable, but that evolution is a continuing process. These and many other scientific findings challenged a literal reading of the Genesis creation story.
In response, a late 19th century group of Protestants declared the Bible to be the inerrant word of God; accordingly its first chapter has the Earth created stepwise over six days – once dry land had been made by the separation of the waters. God created successively seed-bearing plants, birds, fishes and finally Man (in Hebrew adama).
They were so fixated upon the story and that it was fundamental to Christian belief that they ignore the second story which has the creative steps in reverse order.
Other fundamentalist beliefs stemming from the ‘unerring’ Word of God are the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus as literal fact, his bodily resurrection and the satisfaction theory of atonement.
It is no wonder that thinking people turn their backs upon the church when seeking answers for violence in the world.
Neil Gordon Cameron
WITH the recent arrest and charging of Australian Peter Scully for child sexual assault in the Philippines, spare a thought for the Khmer volunteers at ‘Hard Places’ in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Hard Places’ rescues young girls and some boys too, from the clutches of paedophiles and pimps who operate in the streets and poverty of Phnom Penh.
After visiting the volunteer centre during a month-long teaching stint in Phnom Pehn, I was struck by the compassion, commitment and courage of the Khmer volunteers and manager, Panha Yin, as well as the American foundation director, Alli Mellon, who set up this centre 12 years ago.
Groups of young Khmer HPC volunteers gather at strategic points around the teeming capital each afternoon to provide a safe haven of companionship, games, food, drinks and protection for primary school age children, mainly girls, who have come from the neighbouring streets.
It is heartbreaking and chilling to think that, within a few metres from where we stood, predators lurked, waiting for their prey of vulnerable and innocent young kids.
It’s at times like these that I feel ashamed at my white adult maleness, appalled that anyone in their right mind would want to harm these children, any child, for their own perverted and depraved pleasure.