What’s Wrong With ‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart’

What’s Wrong With ‘The Uluru Statement from the Heart’

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a misguided, ideologically-driven attempt at bettering the lot of indigenous Australians. It comprises mere virtue-signalling and will further divide and destabilise Australia. Instead, we need to take concrete steps to truly empower Aboriginal Australians to improve their own lives.

Anthony Albanese’s first act as Prime Minister was to replace two of the three Australian flags in the Parliament House (Media) Blue Room, and replace them with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ensign. Significantly, the Aboriginal Flag was in the centre, with the Australian flag off to one side. Mr Albanese then opened with the following commitment:

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on we meet. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. And on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.

Denominational leaders in Australia such as Kanishka Raffel, the Anglican Archbishop in Sydney, and Peter Comensoli, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne have also written in glowing support of The Uluru Statement from the Heart (TUSH) — as has Pope Francis.

However, they may all be thinking more with their hearts. There are a great many problems with adopting TUSH as a progressive political policy. What follows are twelve of the most pertinent reasons for rejecting it:

1. It Does Not Define Its Function, Powers and Processes

Under the FAQ section on the TUSH website titled ‘Why a constitutionally enshrined Voice?’ the organisation states,

The Uluru Statement does not detail the structure of the Voice and how it will do its job… The details including the functions, powers and processes of the Voice, will be worked out between government and First Nations and put into legislation.

What will be the function and power of TUSH? Not even the advocates and designers of the statement know. It has no discernible limits. How can the government accept a constitutionally enshrined proposal without knowing what it will actually involve? TUSH advocates must provide a clear analysis of the functions, powers and processes of the Voice before putting it into something as permanent as the Constitution.

Professor Megan Davis from UNSW argues in a webinar on the TUSH website that it will force the government to listen to the constitutionally enshrined body, because in the past advisory bodies could be ignored. Legally, it is unclear what exactly being ‘forced’ and ‘listened to’ will mean. Could the government reject proposed legislation offered by the Voice to Parliament, or will it act as a fourth body of the state?

2. It Will Enshrine ‘Race’ into the Constitution

In 2013 leading Australian anthropologist, Peter Sutton, argued against the concept of a national treaty as he believed that it would lead to a constitutional enshrinement of race (‘True reconciliation requires a treaty’). Sutton also persuasively argues that making a treaty that is based on racial identity would exclude family communities of bi-racial descent, and would divide people over the colour of their skin.

It cannot be assumed that a treaty that would differentiate between racial groups would not be abused in 100 years’ time by future Australians.

3. It will Perpetuate the Failures of ATSIC 

TUSH draws a direct line between the Voice to Parliament and The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). On the TUSH website, it argues:

The Uluru Statement calls for a Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution by way of an enabling provision. Previous First Nations’ representative bodies (such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) were set up administratively or by legislation. That meant they were easily abolished by successive governments depending on their priorities. Setting up and then abolishing representative bodies cuts across progress, damages working relationships and wastes talent that could be used to solve complex problems.

ATSIC was set up under the Hawke government in March 1990, which established a group of elected individuals to oversee and inform legislation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The statement assumes the abolition of ATSIC was damaging to ‘progress’ and ‘relationships’. This was not the case. ATSIC was abolished because of a series of accusations of embezzlement, corruption, obstruction of police, and rape charges against the ATSIC Chairperson, Geoff Clark. Additionally, a government review of the program called ‘In the Hands of the Regions’ found it was detached from local communities and was failing to implement successful changes on a regional level.

Because of these ongoing scandals and misallocated funding, the proposal to end ATSIC received bi-partisan support when John Howard announced its termination on 15 April 2004.

TUSH goes one step further. Not only will it repeat the same mistakes as ATSIC by being detached from local communities, but it will also make these changes constitutionally enshrined and difficult — if not impossible — to abolish. TUSH will likely become permanent, regardless of corruption, embezzlement and legal malpractice. More importantly, it will repeat the failure of ATSIC in nationalising a complex issue that should be addressed by local communities and existing government entities.

4. It Will Distort Section 116 of the Constitution which Forbids the Setting Up of any Established Religious Institution

While this point may not seem immediately pertinent, one of the most significant problems with TUSH is its promotion of indigenous spirituality (panentheism) in such a way as to confuse the traditional delineation between Church and State. In arguing that “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations” the statement defines ‘sovereignty’ in an explicitly religious way:

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, or sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

TUSH disingenuously states that sovereignty for them is a “spiritual notion”. This is because aboriginal spirituality views indigenous peoples as eternally connected to the Land and also Peoples. The statement also avoids the complexity of Aboriginal spirituality and views land ownership through a Eurocentric lens, as leading anthropologist A. P. Elkin notes,

It is true, at least from our point of view, that members of such a local group owned their “country”. But that is only one aspect of the situation. A more significant aspect is that they belonged to their “country” — that it owned them; it knew them and gave them sustenance and life. Their spirits had pre-existed in 
it — in the Dreaming. Therefore, no other “country”, never mind how fertile, could be their country nor mean the same.

All of this is in stark contrast — indeed, contradiction — to what is said at the end of the paragraph relating to the “sovereignty of the Crown”. These are two distinct claims to sovereignty with different views on spiritual ownership, blurring the line between the church and state.

5. It Will Pervert Our View of Race Relations

TUSH presents a Cultural Marxist paradigm of race, based upon an imbalance of ‘power’ and ‘struggle’. Note the Marxist language that TUSH itself uses and highlights:

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish.

When race relations are constrained and distorted by a paradigm of power, the disadvantaged race cannot achieve justice until the balance of power is equalised, whether or not the ‘payment’ has been made. The Co-founder of TUSH Professor Megan Davis who is a proponent of intersectionality, argues on the statement’s Facebook page:

The political elite cannot consign the First Nations people to another decade of inaction… without addressing power structures.

What’s more, by placing the blame on an abstract political elite, it takes away the personal responsibility of individuals to deal with their own situations.

6. It Will Diminish the Moral Agency of Aboriginal People

Following on from the previous point, TUSH seeks to project all current social problems that exist within indigenous communities onto how they were treated by Europeans historically. This means that aboriginal people are merely victims of previous injustices. As the statement says:

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are alienated from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers.

While this argument might be popular, it infantilises people with an indigenous background in such a way that they do not become responsible for themselves. Decades of anthropological research show socialisation, cultural behaviours and custodial relationships have had a greater impact on Indigenous ‘disadvantage’ than dispossession. For example, a reduction in serious health outcomes is not the result of a restricted ‘Voice’ to Parliament, but the lack of practical behaviours that could be implemented to close the gap:

These behaviours include absolutely basic things like domestic sanitation and personal hygiene, housing density, diet, the care of children and the elderly, gender relationships, alcohol and drug use, conflict resolution, the social acceptability of violence, cultural norms to do with expression of the emotions, the relative value placed on physical wellbeing, attitudes to learning new information, and attitudes to making changes in health-related behaviour.

Arguing that history and structural racism are the cause for high youth detention rates, community homicides, and increasing levels of incarceration takes away the individual’s culpability.

7. It Will Result in Racial Division Rather than Produce Reconciliation

TUSH repeatedly invokes the aboriginal concept of makarrata, which is based more upon a notion of what Peter Sutton in his book, The Politics of Suffering (MUP. 2009) refers to as “ritualised revenge”, in comparison to European notions of restorative, or even retributive justice. As the statement itself says:

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations.

The concept of makarrata though, is more far-reaching than TUSH would lead the uninitiated reader to believe. According to Luke Pearson, writing for the ABC:

‘”Makarrata” literally means a spear penetrating, usually the thigh, of a person that has done wrong.’

Ken Maddock, a specialist in the field of Aboriginal customary law, wrote back in 2001:

It would be too strong to say that Aboriginal customary law is getting a bad reputation even among those who have been seen as its natural defenders. But its real or imagined drawbacks are being exposed in a way which is new at the very time that demands are being made for its recognition as a component of a treaty, as a technique of ‘reconciliation’ or as a remedy for the ills of Aboriginal society. Unless some hard thinking is done about what customary law is and what its recognition would entail, any political initiative in its favour may end in tears and disillusion.

8. It Does Not Offer Any Objective Solutions

TUSH creates a false correlation between the desired outcome of reconciliation and the proposed solution of a Voice to Parliament. The statement does this by employing vague terminology such as ‘Substantive’ and ‘Structural reform’, which assumes that aboriginal people must be liberated from systemically racist constraints. But what does that mean and how will such reform take place? The authors of the statement do not go into any detail.

The statement also claims to engage in ‘Truth-Telling’. Behind this particular truism is a loaded assumption that the political and historical viewpoint of the organisation alone has a monopoly on the ‘truth’. Similarly, statements like seeking ‘fair and truthful relationships’ suppose race relationships are somehow not currently ‘fair’ and ‘truthful’, furthering the cause of racial division.

Most importantly, the statement is ‘from the heart’ — the terminology assumes the moral high ground.

9. It Will Undermine the Three Existing Arms of Government

The current Constitution of Australia involves three distinct but complementary limbs of government: the legislative (Parliament), the judiciary (Courts) and the executive (The Queen, through her representative the Governor-General). However, TUSH seeks to introduce a fourth arm into this mix: an Indigenous Voice, with substantive constitutional change and structural reform.

While this might seem noble, it is not clear how this fourth component will work in with the existing three. Aboriginal people already have a voice as citizens and legal voters. In addition, there have been several major Royal commissions into Indigenous issues from:

  1. Aboriginal Deaths in Custody: The Royal Commission and its Records, 1987–1991.
  2. Indigenous Deaths in Custody 1989-1996.
  3. Bringing them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.
  4. HEALING: A Legacy of Generations (Report on the Stolen Generation Inquiry, 2000).
  5. Unfinished Business: Indigenous Stolen Wages (Report of the Inquiry into Stolen Wages, 2006).
  6. Doing Time — Time For Doing: Indigenous youth in the criminal justice system.
  7. Pathways to Justice — Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133, 2018).

The government has a Minister for Aboriginal Australians, Linda Burney. The truth is, Aboriginal Australians are well represented in our democracy.

10. It Will Reframe our Understanding of History

TUSH claims to “seek… truth-telling about our history.” But what is the ‘truth’ of history that TUSH argues is being suppressed? The TUSH website gives away its progressive ideological agenda when it states:

Australia must acknowledge its history, its true history. Not Captain Cook. What happened all across Australia: the massacres and the wars. If that were taught in schools, we might have one nation, where we are all together.

Is Captain Cook not a part of Australia’s true history? The TUSH Facebook page also uses the hashtag #HistoryIsCalling, in a revisionist attempt to rewrite Australian history as a struggle between racial groups. The past should not be governed by a political organisation, but should instead reflect the complex process of historical inquiry which is open for all people to investigate together.

If this racialised view of history is ‘taught in schools’ without a balanced perspective of British settlement, it is hard to imagine a nation that can truly ‘come together’ under TUSH’s one-sided historical ‘truth’.

The TUSH website also claims:

The Tasmanian Genocide and the Black War waged by the colonists reveals the truth about this evil time. We acknowledge the resistance of the remaining First Nations people in Tasmania who survived the onslaught.

The statement assumes this is the only ‘true’ interpretation of history, ignoring three key facts about Tasmanian history: there were around 118 recorded deaths of Aboriginal people from 1803-1847, which is lower than those of the white settlers killed; the Tasmanian government had an active policy of goodwill towards the Indigenous population; and the decline in the Aboriginal population is mainly attributable to European diseases, the treatment of women, and inter-tribal violence. The settlers were not all malicious types who wanted to dispossess, murder and pillage.

11. It Will Nationalise an Issue that Should Remain Localised

A national treaty will not address the local issues of aboriginal communities. In fact, it would not make sense to have a national treaty for a people group that is not ‘one’ nation. Alternatively, native title treaties rely on an evidence-based approach to the traditional land tenure of modern aboriginal descendants by investigating their complex relationship with resource management and pre-existing claim to Aboriginal sovereignty. Australian anthropologist Peter Sutton makes several key arguments for regional treaties over constitutional recognition:

  1. Australia already has over 800 regional treaties.
  2. The idea that other countries like New Zealand and Canada have a treaty with every indigenous person is not true. They have specific treaties with specific tribes, as in Australia.
  3. Some states such as South Australia are made up of 39% native title land organised by treaties and the Northern Territory is not far behind.
  4. Each of these treaties has been planned in accordance with regional groups and suited to the needs of the particular community.
  5. Land granted through each native title treaty in each state has not made a clear difference in social outcomes on a national level.
  6. There is no standard for post-colonial treaties because there is no single national treaty in the world that recognises every native group in every part of a country.
  7. The crimes of the past cannot be solved by a national treaty, and the disadvantages of the past and present are not changed by a national treaty.

12. It Will Not Resolve the Real Problems Indigenous Peoples Face

By far the most significant failing of TUSH is its inability to make any real difference to the lives of Aboriginal peoples. As Keith Windschuttle argues in Quadrant:

There is no credible empirical evidence that mention­ing Aborigi­nes in the Constitu­tion would improve their health. The claim is spec­ula­tion by a lobby group of psy­chiatrists, who claim it would improve Abo­riginal self-esteem. The gesture would be largely irrelevant to the 80 percent of Aboriginal people who are now well inte­grated into mainstream Australia, mostly in the suburbs of the major cities and larger regional centres. And it would go com­pletely unnoticed in the emergency departments of hospitals in central and northern Australia where, because of the failed policy of isolating indigenous people in remote communities, Abo­riginal women and child victims of Aboriginal violence and sexual abuse are grossly over-represented.

Indeed, some academics such as Germaine Greer have gone as far as to explain the high rates of domestic violence from Aboriginal men as repressed rage against the disempowerment by white people, taken out on their wives and children. This type of victimhood blaming requires the minority group to remain victims. A murdered woman is not ‘disadvantaged’; she has lost her life. As the eminent epidemiologist Stephen Kunitz put it;

To suggest that pre-contact Indigenous life was anything but Edenic and that traditional modes of socialisation and social control may contribute to the contemporary problem of violence is to risk being accused of blaming the victims and excusing their oppressors.

Indigenous Australians themselves have proposed much better solutions to welfare dependency, substance abuse, low life expectancy, declining literacy, violence against women and child sexual abuse. These include integration into urban economies, stronger engagement in Australian education, dietary intervention, coercive crime control, alcohol limitation, resettlement from regional areas and even conversion to evangelical Christianity.

Conclusion: Our Own Story

This is of great interest to me personally, as some of my ancestors (sometimes referred to as ‘Kanakas’) come from the Solomon Islands and were historically brought to Australia as what you might call, “indentured servants”. We are deeply thankful for what Presbyterian missionaries did in bringing a message of true reconciliation to people from this part of the world.

The Presbyterian Church — just like every other Christian denomination — has been historically active in ministering to Aboriginal people. Strangely, the current mood is to focus on being sorry and apologise for perceived mistakes, rather than rejoicing in the legacy of what our forebears actually achieved. A distorted understanding of the past opens the door to a naïve and misguided view as to what we should do in the future.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart (TUSH) will not unite Australians, but only divide us. It will not address the many real needs that indigenous peoples face on a day-to-day basis, and as such, it should be firmly rejected as a way forward. And that’s because it’s an attempt to undermine decision-making and due process in a western democracy that already affords aboriginal political representation. Ultimately, TUSH is a take-over by stealth and manipulation through preying on our feelings of guilt.

___

Photo by Clive Scollay.

Thank the Source

Church Attendance Rising Among Young People, Despite Declining Christian Affiliation

Church Attendance Rising Among Young People, Despite Declining Christian Affiliation

A survey released by NCLS Research suggests that young people, in particular, are becoming more active in Australian churches, despite the steady nationwide decline in Christian affiliation. As cultural pressure mounts, we are slowly getting a more accurate picture of the true Church in Australia.

Recently, the ‘church-friendly’ New Church Life Survey was released.

There were several intriguing developments — some of which really made me scratch my head, but only one of which I will cover here.

One of the key findings of the Survey relates to church attendance. This research is helpful in supplementing the official ABS Census data.

In fact, in my opinion, church attendance is a better indicator of real affiliation than the ABS Census data.

This is because it presumably requires a greater level of commitment to attend church than it does to call oneself a Christian. Someone who is willing to (at least) warm a pew once a month is more likely to be a genuine Christian than is someone who is willing to tick a box during a census.

Anyway, here are three interesting points from the survey:

1. Church Attendance Is on the Increase

According to the new research, church attendance has been steadily increasing over the past three years (from 2019 to 2021). As of 2021, about two in 10 Australians (21%) attend a religious service once a month or more.

Interesting, the group most likely to regularly attend church were young adults (Gen Xers – aged between eighteen and thirty-four).

An astonishing thirty-two per cent of regular religious services attendees are Gen Xers.

I don’t know about you, but I assumed that older people would be the most likely to faithfully attend church, while people my age diligently partied and gamed (or, more likely, slept in until 11:30 AM on Sunday morning).

This research proves me wrong, however. In fact, those over 65 years old were the smallest group in terms of regular church attendance. I would surmise that concerns around COVID-19 have something to do with this.

But what’s the significance of increasing church attendance?

Arguably, due to increasing cultural pressure and stigmatisation, it is an increasingly good indicator of genuine faith. Generally (unless I am mistaken), going to church is no longer ‘trendy’ or socially advantageous.

Therefore, while Australian Christian affiliation is steadily decreasing, the percentage of those who identify as Christian and also attend church is on the increase.

Of course, even today church attendance is not an accurate indicator of spiritual maturity. To this day, people can easily get away with being ‘pew-warmers’ — or as philosopher Dallas Willard creatively called them: ‘consumers of religious goods and services’.

Nevertheless, the NCLS findings are likely a far more accurate reflection of the state of the Australian Christian church.

2. Young People Are Attending Church More Frequently

According to the new data, 40 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 never attend religious services. About twenty-eight per cent would attend only several times or less per year. In contrast, thirty-two per cent of Gen Xers attend once a month or more frequently.

Once again, the contrast between Gen X and the Baby Boomers was striking (I’ve highlighted the most obvious differences):

  • Baby Boomers (65+): 52% never attend religious services
  • Gen Xers (18 to 24): 40% never attend religious services
  • Baby Boomers (65+): 29% attend less than several times per year
  • Gen Xers (18 to 24): 28% attend less than several times per year
  • Baby Boomers (65+): 2% attend between one and three times per month
  • Gen Xers (18 to 24): 15% attend between one and three times per month
  • Baby Boomers (65+): 17% attend weekly or more
  • Gen Xers (18 to 24): 17% attend weekly or more

So, it seems that young people are both less likely to never attend religious services and far more likely to attend almost regularly than their older counterparts.

Given their greater overall likelihood of attending churches, young people are also proportionally far more likely to be absent for one or two weeks a month.

Older people, on the other hand, seem to be more clearly split between faithful attendees (weekly or more) and nominal attendees (several times or less per year): there is little in between (monthly).

3. Young People Are Getting Involved in Church

A final interesting observation made by the NCLS related to the level of church involvement.

About 30 per cent of Gen Xers had tried to get involved in a church in the past five years. This is about 10 percentage points higher than the average across all age groups.

Interestingly, this also correlates closely with the overall percentage of 18 to 24-year-olds who attend church.

This suggests that young people are not just pew warming. They realise that to be involved in the life of the church is more than just receiving teaching and participating in praise and worship.

These findings encourage me. Church attendance is on the rise, and — contrary to the stereotype — people my age are leading the charge.

Moreover, young church attendees are very willing to participate in the life of the church, suggesting they are committed to more than just showing up.

My big concern is that people my age are not being appropriately equipped — spiritually or intellectually — to face an increasingly hostile, complex and temptation-ridden world.

Western churches tend (increasingly) to be sharply divided between hyper-experiential and hyper-doctrinal variants, but neither of these models is able to adequately prepare young people for the onslaught they will inevitably face outside the church — in their work, social lives and university experiences.

In my humble opinion, young people like myself need to be intensively trained in discipleship to Christ (Matthew 28:18-19), character formation (Romans 12:1-2) and apologetics (1 Peter 3:15).

We need to be critical thinkers who can process the litany of anti-Christian worldviews that face us in politics, the media and entertainment.

We need to be discerners who can wisely navigate this technology- and entertainment-saturated world without falling into sin, bondage and ineffectiveness (1 Corinthians 6:12).

As it becomes less “convenient” to affiliate with Christianity, nominal “name-only” Christians will continue to fall out of the picture.

But be encouraged! The true church in Australia is being revealed.

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Photo by Rodolfo Quirós.

Thank the Source

Religion and the Australian Census: Some Good News

Religion and the Australian Census: Some Good News

There is actually some great news in the Australian census regarding religion. Nominal Christians are truly falling away, leaving those on fire for Christ to carry on the standard. With “cultural Christians” no longer laying claim to be adherents of the faith, the message from practising Christians can become more coherent and impactful.

The results of last year’s census have been released, and the religion component has received a lot of attention. The mainstream media is saying that Christianity is basically finished in this country. Indeed, I have had the usual atheist and secular humanist trolls coming to my site already, frothing at the mouth.

They think this is the greatest thing since Madalyn Murray O’Hair got really feisty in America. But despite their predictably silly gloating, true Christians actually see this as terrific news. More on that in a moment. First, a few details. One news report notes how demographic changes are to some extent influencing religion in Australia:

India has now overtaken China and New Zealand to become the third largest country of birth, behind Australia and England. “We have seen the largest increase in country of birth outside Australia being India, with 220,000 additional people counted making India now the second highest overseas born population after England and leapfrogging China and New Zealand,” [ABS deputy Australian statistician] Ms Dickinson said.

The number of Australians who are not religious has increased further but Christianity remains the most reported religion, followed by Islam. “The question on religion always attracts significant interest. In 2021 the number of people reporting no religious affiliation continued to grow and is now nearly 40 per cent of responses,” Ms Dickinson said.

“This is an increase of 8 percentage points since 2016. Christianity is still the highest reported religion in Australia with over 40 per cent of responses to this question nominating as Christians or providing a Christian denomination as their answer. However, this has decreased by 8 percentage points since 2016. Nearly half of those who reported a Christian religious affiliation reported they were Catholic. The Census has seen a growth of over 50 per cent of people reporting they’re Hindus in line with migration from India, 2.7 per cent of the population in fact are Hindus, and Islam is our second largest religion at 3.2 per cent of the population.”

A few things can be said. First, the religious question was not mandatory — indeed, it was the only optional question on the census. Thus many folks may not have bothered with it, while those with a vested interest — mainly atheists hoping to skew the results — were quite eager to answer it. In fact, atheist groups were actively pushing a ‘No Religion Campaign’ prior to the census. So we have to take the results with a grain of salt.

Second, to say that you have ‘no religion’ does NOT make you a card-carrying atheist. Most people are religious or spiritual. They could be into the New Age Movement or any number of ‘spiritualities’. Buddhists need not even believe in God, for example. So most are not hardcore materialists and philosophical naturalists. And recall that even the US Supreme Court had declared secular humanism to be a religion.

Nominal, Not Disciples

Third, and as mentioned, I am not panicking — quite the opposite. Let me explain. For quite a long time now the West has been mainly made up of cultural Christianity. Most people may have identified with the Christian religion, but were not necessarily devout, practising Christians. In other words, most were not born-again, Spirit-filled, redeemed sinners saved by grace.

A hundred years ago almost everyone in Australia identified as a Christian. They more or less accepted the Christian worldview (there is a God, Jesus is God’s son, He came to earth to die for our sins, etc). Answering a question on what your religion is was pretty straightforward: ‘Of course I am Christian.’

But simply identifying with the main religion of your country does not of course make you an actual Christian — at least in the biblical sense. That is a whole different matter. In that sense, real Christians have always been a minority, a remnant. They have known that not everyone calling themselves a Christian really is one.

That has always been the case throughout the Bible and throughout church history. There is the visible church (where anyone born into a Christian country, or who turns up to church twice a year can claim to be a Christian), and there is the invisible church made up of those who are truly His. See more on this here.

So in my eyes, this is a good thing. Indeed, many genuine Christians have been praying for years now that God would begin a sifting process, a weeding-out process. A separation of the wheat from the tares — of the sheep from the goats. So we may now see this happening. And not a moment too soon.

As the darkness increases over the West, as secularisation rises, and as evil seems to explode everywhere, only real-deal Christians need apply. The fakes and the phonies and all the nominal believers are not going to be of any use here. Indeed, they are a part of the problem.

So for the true church of Christ to begin to emerge from the surrounding culture and to shine brightly is a good thing. And it is the remnant that gets the job done and that brings glory to God. So the census results are to my way of thinking a very good thing indeed and a real answer to prayer.

Crimes and Misdemeanours

While the God-haters are throwing parties right now for the supposed death of Christianity, I’ve got news for them. When Christianity goes, so does all of the culture — at least so many of the good aspects of culture. At the same time that we see Christianity in decline, we also see social problems everywhere increasing.

Social science researchers have long known that there is a very real correlation between the spiritual health of a people, and various social goods. That is, a strong religious country (particularly, a strong Christian country) will on the whole have fewer — and less severe — social pathologies and problems to deal with.

Problems like crime, drug use, gang violence, suicide, family breakdown and so on all tend to be exacerbated when Christianity is in the decline. That is NOT to say they do not occur, but the research indicates that they occur less, and in less harmful forms. Plenty of studies could be appealed to here on this.

American ExperienceAmerica's Blessings book - religion

Let me mention just one key American sociologist of religion who has penned a number of very important books on this. In his 2012 volume, America’s Blessings, Rodney Stark offers loads of documentation and evidence that religion has been good for America.

He writes:

“Americans benefit immensely from being an unusually religious people — blessings that not only fall upon believers but also on those Americans who most oppose religion.”

He provides an introductory list of such benefits which he later in the book fully documents and references:

  • At all ages, religious people are much less likely to commit crimes.
  • Religious Americans are far more likely to contribute even to secular charities, to volunteer their time to socially beneficial programs, and to be active in civic affairs.
  • Religious Americans enjoy superior mental health — they are happier, less neurotic, and far less likely to commit suicide.
  • Religious Americans also enjoy superior physical health, having an average life expectancy more than seven years longer than that of the irreligious. A very substantial difference remains even after the effects of ‘clean living’ are removed.
  • Religious people are more apt to marry and less likely to divorce, and they express higher degrees of satisfaction with their spouses. They also are more likely to have children.
  • Religious husbands are substantially less likely to abuse their wives or children.
  • Religious American couples enjoy their sex lives more and are far less likely to have extramarital affairs.
  • Religious students perform better on standardised achievement tests.
  • Religious Americans are far less likely to have dropped out of school, which is especially true for African Americans and Hispanics.
  • Religious Americans are more successful, obtaining better jobs and far less subject to being on unemployment or welfare; this is true not only for whites but for African Americans.
  • Although often portrayed as ignorant philistines, religious Americans are more likely to consume and sustain ‘high culture.’
  • Religious people are far less likely to believe in the occult and paranormal phenomena such as Bigfoot, UFOs, Atlantis, ghosts, haunted houses, and astrology.

That last point is interesting in light of what I said above: just because someone clicks the ‘no religion’ box on a census does NOT mean they are not into all sorts of spiritual things. Stark goes on to say this:

Translated into comparisons with Western European nations, we enjoy far lower crime rates, much higher levels of charitable giving, better health, stronger marriages, and less suicide, to note only a few of our benefits from being an unusually religious nation.

Quite aside from the social and personal benefits of these religious effects, they add up to many hundreds of billions of dollars a year in financial benefits, as I demonstrate in the concluding chapter.

In that chapter, he goes into detail in seeking to put a price on such things, and he ends up by saying that the “total current savings to U.S. society from America’s religiousness is… $2.67 trillion per year.” He does however go on to say that “the intangible blessings on American life provided by our unusually high level of religiousness are worth far more.”

In sum, a decline in Christianity is a mixed bag. It is bad news for all of society, given the tremendous social benefits that Christianity brings to a culture. But it is good news to the true follower of Christ who is happy to see a weeding out of nominal and worldly believers, and to see the godly remnant coming to the fore.

Oh, and one final thing — this is NOT the end of Christianity. It will always be here until Christ returns. Sure, the persecution will ramp up more and more in the West. And believers may be driven underground, but Christianity will never fully falter nor fail.

As Jesus put it in Matthew 16:18:

“I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Or as GK Chesterton once said:

“At least five times the Faith has to all appearances gone to the dogs.
In each of these five cases, it was the dog that died.”

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Originally published at CultureWatch. Photo by Daniel Gutko on Unsplash

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Less is More

We may become overwhelmed by our family responsibilities and job expectations. Recall the adage that less is more, and prioritise your main role, in which you cannot be replaced.

“You can’t have it all,” used to be a saying to describe women juggling careers and motherhood. Mothers are caught in the conundrum of trying to be present for their children while having a successful career, all at the same time. It is very hard.

Anne Marie Slaughter, a Princeton University Professor, who got her dream job in the government in Washington DC, realised she could not “have it all”.

So she wrote an article called, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. Anne Marie’s article is searingly honest and revealing. Her video interview about her story is also very good.

It is not just women who can’t have it all. Dads are the same. We have to make a decision on what we are going to have, and what we are not going to have, and sometimes less is more.

Harmony

Jason from Dad University gives us some great insight into the need, not for Work-Life Balance, but Work-Life harmony.

My son’s wife is struggling with recovery from post-natal depression.

Twelve months ago she was going really well, but when she had a relapse, my son had to make some adjustments in his priorities, because less is more.

My son is an engineer, and his company is very family-friendly. They allowed him to start late every day so he can run his children to school and in exchange, he loses his rostered day off. He can’t go surfing that day, but less is more, and better still, his wife is happier and getting better by the day.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a very successful businessman who gives some very good tips about work-life harmony here:

Recently, I came across the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium and its monthly newsletter. In it, I found a great article called “Take it easy on yourself, Dad” by a father with a young baby juggling the challenge of being a father and successful in his work.

“As I write this, my little nine-month-old boy Jack is sound asleep, something that has been a rare occurrence in our household up until recently. I had been told by everyone to be prepared for the lack of sleep a baby brings to your life, however, being a shift worker gave me a sense of false confidence and I thought I would cruise through these sleepless nights with ease.

I was wrong! I was working 12hr days, studying, trying to be a good husband and father and it was slowly wearing me down. I found myself feeling really low and disappointed as I had a feeling, I wasn’t being the father I had imagined myself to be.

Even though our wives and partners often bear most of the workload with raising children, I felt a lot of pressure as a dad to be this superhero-type figure that doesn’t waver under pressure and will always be a solid rock that the family can rely on. 

My wife is amazing and seems to have an endless abundance of energy. She has handled the sleepless nights much better than I. It took some honest conversations with her and a hard look at myself to realise I was running myself into the ground. This was counterproductive to being a good father.

It was then that I made the decision to take a step back from some of the areas of my life that were adding pressure and direct more of my focus to being present with my son. That small change had a huge positive effect for myself and my family. I have realised through having our son that I can’t do everything all at once and it is ok to ask for help, take a step back and sometimes less is more.

I have found success in parenting my son through not being so hard on myself and trying every day to just enjoy the little moments I get with him. I can be the rock my wife and son need, but I’m only capable of being that if I don’t take on too much work and added pressure. 

After all, my first and most important job is being a father.”

Lovework

You cannot have it all. Something has to take precedence. The key thing is to work out what is important to you as a father, and as a man with a vocation, because less is more.

Yours for the Important Things,
Warwick Marsh

PS: A massive thank you to all those who donated to our end-of-year Dads4Kids matching challenge. The stupendous news is: we met the target! The really good news is that your giving is going to enable us to help many more dads be better dads and put a smile on many more children’s faces.

Together we are making a difference! You can still donate today if you want to. Just that you will have to wait for a while for a tax deduction. Donate here!

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First published at Dads4Kids. Photo by Kampus Production.

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‘Climate Change Causes Domestic Violence’ — Women’s Ambassador

‘Climate Change Causes Domestic Violence’ — Women’s Ambassador

Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Now domestic violence aggressors can blame their actions on climate change. How convenient.

Australia has an Ambassador for Women and Girls. Who knew?

She was completely absent during the debate on women’s sport. Maybe she got caught up in the kitchen.

But don’t worry, the Ambassador is on the job now, warning that climate change will increase domestic violence.

Seriously.

In a video message released last month for the 50th meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Christine Clarke said:

“As we confront the climate crisis, women and girls and human rights must be at the centre of our collective efforts.

“Climate change and its consequences can exacerbate the risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

“This risk is most acute for women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and inequality, including indigenous women and girls.

“Australia would welcome the panelists view on good practices addressing violence against women and girls in the context of climate change.”

The ambassador will need a chiropractor after the contortions she performed to link the two topics. Or did one set of notes get mixed in with another?

It sounded like she was trying to say that rising sea levels will cause men to attack their wives.

In brief: Climate change makes men angry!

Just roll with it, it’s science.

That said, it was disappointing that the Ambassador did not see fit to address systemic transphobia experienced by indigenous genderqueer communities whenever cows release methane.

No Rebuttals Permitted

Tellingly, Ambassador Clarke tweeted her speech, only to quickly restrict the comments when people started pointing out that it was nothing but a woke word salad.

The public gets it. Our elites do not.

Climate change reminds me of Homer Simpson daydreaming about doughnuts. Homer wonders in awe:

“Donuts… Is there nothing they can’t do?”

Anyway, I’m sure the only way to fight violence against “women and girls in all their diversity” (one can only assume that phrase was used to leave a little wriggle room for women and girls with penises) is to throw money at the clouds.

If we pay more taxes, stop driving SUVs and become vegetarians, women will be safe from men who — let’s face it — are driven crazy by storms.

Depending on which report you read, indigenous women are between 30 and 80 times more likely to experience domestic abuse than non-indigenous women. That’s how badly climate change is affecting aboriginal communities!

But men and women will dwell together in peace if we can limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

And net-zero emissions will usher in a new era of harmony between the sexes.

Everybody is milking the taxpayer over climate change, and in some ways, you have to grudgingly admire the ambassador for finding an angle.

Old Hat

On the other hand, she is really just repeating a worn-out line that the Greens tried back in 2019 when a women’s rights activist, flanked by Greens senator Larissa Waters, warned that bushfires would spark domestic violence.

“After a cataclysmic event like this, domestic violence peaks,” the activist said. “Women become extremely unsafe, when generally the men return home from the fires and subject them to domestic violence.”

No one was buying the ‘fires turn men into wife beaters’ line back then.

And judging by the reaction to Ambassador Clarke’s speech, no one is buying the ‘warm days turn men into monsters’ shtick now.

Climate change doesn’t create domestic violence, but woke idiocy does turn domestic violence into a joke. And that’s the real danger here.

Stupidity like this is what makes people desensitised and non-empathetic towards important issues, such as domestic violence.

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Originally published at The James Macpherson Report.
Subscribe to his Substack here for daily witty commentary.

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Open Letter to Australia’s Doctors: Preserve Our Children

Open Letter to Australia’s Doctors: Preserve Our Children

Paediatrician Dr Dylan Wilson speaks up about the unethical practices of doctors who are subjecting vulnerable children to puberty blockers, with scant scientific basis, motivated by transgender ideology. He begs medical practitioners to reconsider before more of our youth have lifelong harm inflicted upon them.

Dear Doctor,

In Australia, we have a clear template of the standard referral pathway. General practitioners refer to specialists, who refer to sub-specialists. Whenever we feel we need a more specialised opinion than our own, we refer the patient to a colleague along this pathway. We can often choose to whom we refer; we may value a particular practitioner’s expertise on a particular matter, or we may know that someone may suit the patient best. This is most evident in the private system.

There are also times when we don’t get a choice, a patient has to be referred to a general service in the public system. While this may have issues, there are often benefits, and there are many times when referring a patient to the local public hospital service is in their best interests.

This is often true for children. Our tertiary children’s hospitals, situated in the state capital cities around Australia, offer not just specialised services that may not be able to be accessed elsewhere, but a multitude of services that can serve a child’s whole needs. It is recognised that for many diseases and conditions, a holistic or specialised service offered at a child’s local children’s hospital serves their best interests.

The simplest example is cancer; all children who are diagnosed with cancer are treated by a team of specialists whose concentrated knowledge and expertise, in a multi-disciplinary team, provides the best care. No one would ever dream of treating a child with chemotherapy without this team’s knowledge and input.

Unethical

But there exists a service at my local children’s hospital, and at other hospitals around the country, to which I will never refer a child. I believe this service is not appropriate for children, and is actively doing harm, and this open letter is my way of reaching out to you to urge you to consider your role in this referral pathway.

I am talking about the paediatric gender service at my local children’s hospital.

What I mean specifically are the paediatric endocrinologists that are part of the paediatric gender service, but seeing as it seems you can’t refer to the paediatric gender service without a paediatric endocrinologist getting involved at some stage, the whole service needs to be included.

In Australia, as a country and a medical profession, we are completely behind on this. Many of you reading this will have little knowledge of what role paediatric endocrinologists have in treating children in this clinic. It may be that the first time it has come to your attention is during this election campaign, when old tweets by the Liberal candidate for Warringah, Katherine Deves came to light. In one she tweeted about “vulnerable children surgically mutilated and sterilised”. The uproar and backlash in the media were furious.

There is a simple reason why Ms Deves tweeted about children being surgically mutilated and sterilised.

It’s because children are being surgically mutilated and sterilised.

The backlash against this tweet focused on the fact that in Australia, patients have to reach the age of 18 before any surgery on genitals can take place. For the time being, let’s ignore the fact that having to reach the age of 18 before a patient’s underdeveloped genitals are surgically mutilated is not the stone-cold “gotcha” Ms Deves’s critics think it is. Let’s focus on the facts.

Around the world, there are girls as young as 13 who have had a bilateral mastectomy because of the dysphoria about their bodies. This has been done in gender clinics, and also by unscrupulous private surgeons, who as a marketing tool, might describe this surgery as “yeeting the teets”. Ms Deves probably knows this. There was nothing in her tweet that was specific to genital surgery in Australia. That’s something her critics inferred. Ms Deves thinks girls this age having completely healthy breast tissue removed because of their mental health struggles is mutilation. So do I.

Creating Infertility

And the backlash that focused on the “surgically mutilated” part, conveniently failed to address the part about children being sterilised. This is where paediatric endocrinologists come in.

The medical affirmative pathway for gender-diverse children is known as the Dutch Protocol, due to its beginnings in the Netherlands. It consists of three steps:

  1. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, commonly known as puberty blockers, to suppress the levels of LH and FSH, and thus suppress puberty.
  2. “Gender-affirming” or “cross-sex” hormones, usually started at 16, to “affirm” a child’s body with the appearance of the sex they wish they were; males get oestrogen, females get testosterone.
  3. Surgery, in a variety of forms ranging from simple cosmetic procedures to major surgery like mastectomy and genital surgery.

The problem is the puberty blockers and the problem is this:

Paediatric endocrinologists in gender clinics in Australia and around the world are taking a cohort of physically healthy children and they are suppressing the puberty of these children at its earliest active stage, Tanner Stage 2. Puberty for these children is never allowed to progress. The bodies of these children are frozen forever at this stage, even though they are growing chronologically older. Contrary to the popular belief, puberty blockers are not a “pause”. We now know that at least 98% of children who commence puberty blockers continue along the affirmative pathway onto cross-sex hormones.

When gender clinics say puberty blockers are reversible they are telling a truth, but they are being disingenuous. When they say puberty blockers are a “pause” to give children time to think, they are certainly being economical with the truth. They know that those children are now set along this pathway. There is no pause. There is no reversal.

The paediatric endocrinologist then takes that body, frozen at the physical state of early puberty, and masculinises or feminises that body, depending on the child’s sex.

They are creating a cohort of adults with children’s bodies, just adulterated by testosterone or oestrogen.

If a child has their body arrested at Tanner stage 2, how does that child develop fertility? The simple answer is, they can’t. We all need the later stages of puberty to fully develop sperm and eggs. They have been sterilised by medical means. They have been sterilised by doctors at our children’s hospitals.

If a child has their body arrested at Tanner stage 2, how does a child develop sexual function? The simple answer is, they can’t. They have been rendered sexually dysfunctional adults by medical means, by doctors at our children’s hospitals.

If a child has their body arrested at Tanner stage 2, then is subjected to abnormal levels of exogenously administered hormones for which that body is not equipped, how do they escape harm? The simple answer is, they can’t. They have been committed to a lifetime of hormone-induced iatrogenic disease by doctors at our children’s hospitals.

Causing Disease

And here lies my first problem with paediatric gender endocrinologists. They do the exact opposite of all other endocrinologists. The whole point of endocrinology is to treat disease caused by hormone levels being pathologically elevated or depressed. The whole point of endocrinology is to put hormone levels back into the normal range. This is true of every endocrine disease — diabetes, thyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency and so on.

But not when it comes to treating gender-diverse children. When a child enters the clinic of a paediatric gender endocrinologist for their first injection of a puberty blocker, they have zero endocrine disease. That child’s hormone levels are all exactly where they should be. Their gonadotropins are normal, their sex hormones are normal for the stage of puberty. They have no disease.

Yet when they leave, the paediatric gender endocrinologist has induced abnormal hormone levels. In that child, a doctor has deliberately suppressed normal hormone levels to treat, not endocrine disease, but that child’s mental distress.

When that child turns 16, that iatrogenic hormone suppression has continued. The paediatric gender endocrinologist then goes one step further, and deliberately introduces exogenous sex hormones. They deliberately raise a female’s testosterone to levels that can only be described as pathological. They deliberately raise a male’s oestrogen levels too. They continue to suppress that child’s own natural sex hormone levels.

They are inducing iatrogenic disease. On purpose. Not as a side effect, but deliberately.

In what other circumstance would this be considered acceptable? Within endocrinology, can you imagine another similar circumstance? If any endocrinologist was to deliberately elevate or suppress a patient’s thyroxine level outside the normal range, they would be subjected to disciplinary action. But it has been deemed acceptable for paediatric gender endocrinologists to do this with gonadotropins and sex hormones. Why?

In what other speciality would this be considered acceptable? A physically healthy child never enters a paediatric gastroenterologist’s clinic and leaves with gastrointestinal disease that wasn’t there before. Why are physically healthy children seeing specialists who treat disease the child doesn’t have?

Everything paediatric gender endocrinologists do is antithetical to both paediatrics and endocrinology.

The aim of paediatrics is to ensure children reach adulthood as healthy as possible. Paediatric gender endocrinologists take physically healthy children and commit them to a lifetime of medicalisation.

Spurious

If a child has significantly delayed puberty at the age of 16, a paediatric endocrinologist will help initiate it, because we all recognise that puberty is an essential component of human development that gives us all that we need to be healthy adults. Paediatric gender endocrinologists have decided puberty is now optional for some children, and those essentials aren’t required.

The evidence for this pathway is low. Its aim, to improve mental health outcomes, remains weakly supported. And everyone else knows it. Everyone else is talking about it. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) appraised the evidence for both puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and found the evidence “very low”. This pathway has been subject to a judicial review. The NHS asked Dr Hilary Cass, past President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, to review the treatment of gender-diverse children. She wrote in her Interim report that

“At this stage the Review is not able to provide advice on the use of hormone treatments due to gaps in the evidence base.”

The Karolinska Institutet, the seat of the Nobel prize for medicine, has recommended immediate cessation of this pathway for all children under the age of 18. Even one of the original Dutch clinicians has expressed concern about the rest of the world adopting this pathway blindly.

The world has started to take notice of the problems this pathway brings and is undertaking a review.

This brings me to the second and most important reason why you should never refer to your local paediatric gender clinic here in Australia. They know all this. They know the implications of this pathway. They know it has problems like infertility. They know the evidence is weak. They know there is scrutiny elsewhere. They know. But they carry on anyway. There is little acknowledgment, except for the clinicians at Westmead, that there is anything to see here. According to most gender clinics in Australia, everything is fine and dandy.

I took part in an online education series in November and December last year, run by my local gender clinic. I was genuinely interested in what they had to say. There have been so many developments over the preceding year or two I was sure they would discuss the difficulties and the controversies.

But there was nothing. Not a single mention of any of the concerns. They told an online audience across the state that everything was fine. It was a demonstration of ideology, not medicine.

No child should be treated in a clinic, run by a tertiary children’s hospital, that places ideology above self-reflection and evidence. No child should be treated in a clinic that doesn’t have the courage in its convictions to come out and publicly acknowledge that they are in fact sterilising children. No child should be treated in a clinic that does not disclose its treatments, its numbers, or any statistics. If you refer a child to my local children’s hospital paediatric gender clinic, what is the likelihood that the child will be given puberty blockers? What is the likelihood they won’t stop them? I asked my local clinic, and they wouldn’t tell me.

Duty of Care

We are in the midst of a medical scandal. This is happening under our noses. We are all somewhat complicit; we have failed to support our colleagues who have raised concerns before, we have blindly assumed that a children’s hospital must be doing the right thing simply because it’s the children’s hospital.

We haven’t asked questions. Or we’ve been too afraid to. It may be that the people doing this are colleagues we work alongside and know are good people and it seems wrong to criticise them. But the only way to bring this to the fore is if, as a profession, we stand up and push for that scrutiny. We need openness from the clinics. We need honesty. We need acknowledgement of the truth.

We need to discuss all of the issues with which I have barely scratched the surface here — the huge explosion of girls presenting, the high rates of autism and trauma, the concern over brain maturation, children being treated on this pathway while in the care of protective services, the influence of social media, the stories of those who detransition long after the paediatric gender services are done with them, and above all, consent. Can a child at the age of 11 or 12, when puberty is just starting, consent to this pathway and all of its outcomes both known and unknown? This is the most important question of all.

It’s likely I will attract criticism about “politicising children”, given the election. But when are we going to have this conversation in Australia? When are we going to confront and acknowledge the reality of what we are doing to children, even if you’re convinced it’s the right path? If not now, when? When a critical number of those children look back on the life they’ve been given and ask why did it happen? It will be too late. It is already too late for some. Right now, in Australia, there are children, teenagers and adults among us who have been committed to this lifetime of medicalisation. I want to make sure there aren’t any more.

Primum non nocere.

Thank the Source

Leaving a Godly Heritage

Leaving a Godly Heritage

How do we form our children in the faith and bestow a Godly heritage upon them? Let us turn to God’s Word for inspiration and instruction.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord
Children are a reward from Him.
~ Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

What does leaving a Godly heritage look like? What does it mean ‘to leave a Godly heritage?’

Heritage can relate to many things, but for our purpose, we will use the Oxford Dictionary definition, which in part states: Heritage is “valued qualities and cultural traditions that have been passed down from previous generations.”

The instructions written by Asaph in the 78th Psalm, especially verses 5-7, encapsulate how ‘heritage’ can be a living experience to perpetuate the teachings of our God and His achievements. It is written:

He decreed statutes for Jacob, and established the law in Israel,
which He commanded our forefathers to teach to their children,
so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.’

The Big Question

Is this happening in your home and the homes of the families involved in the church? How do we teach and nurture our heritage? Do we pass on all we know about our Lord to our children and teach and encourage them to teach their children?

The family home is the most crucial and important learning environment for our children. It is here, in their early formative years, where the child will be most influenced — for better or for worse. They will learn (or not) to bond with those around them.

Children learn language, positive and negative behaviour, and how to interact with others in the home. Modern research confirms that the first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial and vital time to instil good attitudes and create healthy habits, especially regarding their spiritual growth and understanding.

Research by the noted developmental psychologist and anthropologist at Oxford University, Justin L Barret, about the value of religious faith, has found that we are all predisposed to believe in God from birth. This would be consistent with the Scripture in Ecclesiastes 3:11 —

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men….”

To further explore what it means to leave a Godly heritage, let us now consider the instructions given to Moses before the Israelites went into the Promised Land. Consider how these instructions relate to us today.

My conviction is that these Scriptures set out God’s plan for families and demonstrate how to impart the parents’ faith to their children. I use the word to impart the parent’s faith, as opposed to imposing their faith on their children. The home is the place where children should be introduced to the Lord of Creation and the Saviour of the World.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is known as the Shema (pronounced “Shem-ar”) and is worthy of our examination. These instructions for the family were given to Moses to be passed on. It is considered by devout Jews as the most critical and significant portion of the book of Deuteronomy.

Jewish children are taught this as a prayer. Devout Jews recite it three times a day. Each Friday evening, as the Sabbath begins, in Jewish homes around the world, the father, and sometimes the mother, lay hands on the children’s heads and pray for them.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9  (NIV)

Verse 4

“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God is one.”

‘You shall have no other gods before Me’, states the First Commandment. The land into which the Jews were going was a land with a multitude of gods. Sadly, this is the same as the society our children find themselves in today. We have the answers to help them make the right decisions.

Verse 5

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

An expert in the law tested Jesus with a question. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus quoted this Scripture in Matthew 22:37. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind (might).”

Jesus then went on to say in verses 38-40, “This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” 

Our children are in desperate need of godly role models. This is a great opportunity for parents, teachers, uncles, aunties and grandparents to be those role models who demonstrate that they love the Lord with all their hearts, all their souls and all their minds.

THOUGHT: If I expect my children to pray, then they need to see me praying.

If I expect my children to love the Word of God, they need to see that in me.

If I expect my children to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, with all their souls and with all their minds, guess where they will be looking?

Verse 6

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”

Notice that this is a commandment, not just any ordinary instruction. Dare I say, not unlike the well-known Ten Commandments!  The Lord tells us these words are to be in our hearts. These are not just for head knowledge, but are to be an outward demonstration and expression of our inner beliefs and convictions.

Verse 7

“Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.”

The word used to “impress” means to engrave. Not merely talking but living it out, which is much harder. We do this to impart our faith, as opposed to imposing our faith on our children. If as parents we use the “do what I say and not what I do” line, it will not work in the long term.

Whom to impress — Our children

What to impress — The Word of God

Where to impress — Walking, lying down, getting up, and sitting down or,
use every appropriate and suitable opportunity.

When to impress — All the time.

This is a “lifestyle” that should be evident in our everyday life.

Verse 8

“Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.”

It is always a joy when you see young people wearing the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets or something similar, and T-shirts that have a Christian message. Not only are these reminders important for our children who are feeling comfortable with a faith that is their own, but we also need to be reminded of the word of God. Hopefully, as they wear these obviously Christian items, they will also become competent in articulating their beliefs.

Verse 9

“Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”

It is possible to have various reminders, such as Scriptures around the house and other Christian symbols, such as the Nativity scene during the Christmas season. We should endeavour to give our children books, games and items that will strengthen their faith and not cause them to stumble. These practices should begin when the child is very young.

Challenge: To take God’s commandments seriously.

What are the consequences of ignoring God’s instruction for our families?

Let us look at what happened to the Jewish nation when they ignored God’s instructions.

About 120-150 years after entering the Promised Land and experiencing God’s grace, we read these words.

Judges 2:8-11

Verse 8

“Joshua son of Nun died, the servant of the Lord died at the age of one hundred and ten.”

Verse 9

“And they buried him in the land of his inheritance,
at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.”

The influence of the godly men and women has now passed away.

Verse 10

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers,
another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord
nor what He had done for Israel
.

After all the wonderful blessings of God, a WHOLE generation grew up who not only did not know the Lord but did not know the awesome things God had done for Israel!

Verse 11

Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baal.

Many of this generation do not know the Lord nor the incredible things He has done in the development of our great nation, Australia, or for that matter, Western civilisation.

That generation did not understand or did not know how to live in a Godly manner. They pursued a destructive and flawed lifestyle with dire consequences. Knowledge of a Godly heritage was not successfully taught or adopted.

Tragically, both of these situations happen too often in Australia and the Western world today.

What heritage will you offer your children to receive and adopt as a lifestyle?

THOUGHT: How seriously do we take God’s instructions about teaching our children?

Suggested reading

  • George Barna, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions”
  • Ted Baehr and Pat Boone, “The Culture-Wise Family”
  • Mark Griffiths, “One Generation from Extinction”

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Photo by Vlada Karpovich.

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Helen Cadbury: Founding Member of the Pocket Testament League

Formed by a faithful family and married to a devout husband, Helen Cadbury went on to share the Word of God through the Pocket Testament League, which continues its salvific work today.

Helen CadburyHelen was only twelve when she went with her father, Richard Cadbury, and sat at the back of a hall watching volunteers talking with the people coming in from the local neighbourhood. Some of the people coming in looked poor and even hungry, and some, sadly, were affected by alcohol.

Richard cared very much for poor people and did a lot to help them. He had built a big hall for just this purpose. He and fellow Christians invited men, women and children from the neighbourhood to come and, depending on the difficulty of their circumstances, they might be given a meal or some clothes. While he showed them in this practical way what the love of God looked like, visitors could also hear about the love of God.

On this day, Helen listened as the preacher finished explaining how people, through trusting in Jesus and what he had done on the cross, could have their sins forgiven and have a good relationship with God. His words moved Helen, and she decided that day that Jesus’ love was for her, too.

Helen’s family had strong roots in the Christian faith. Her grandfather, John Cadbury, was also already well-known as the founder of the Cadbury cocoa and chocolate company in Birmingham. It was the faith of the members of the Cadbury family that drove them to care about the welfare of those who worked for them, and for underprivileged people in their community.

Childhood Faith

Helen Cadbury PTLAt school, Helen kept a Bible in her desk. At break times, she liked to bring her Bible out to show other girls verses about how to become a Christian and how God would want them to live. But it wasn’t easy carrying a Bible around in the playground, so Helen and her Christian friends had pockets made in their dresses for carrying a Bible or a New Testament. These girls shared a keen interest in sharing their faith with their friends at school. By 1893, when Helen was 16, the group had become known as the ‘Pocket Testament League’ and had a membership of 60 girls.

Helen Cadbury AlexanderAs Helen grew up into a young lady, the enthusiasm she had for her faith started to wane. Helen went to college and there learned different ideas and opinions about Christianity. Many of her college lecturers made anti-God statements, and this caused Helen to have serious doubts about whether the whole Bible was the true word of God.

However, all that changed after her father’s death. Helen began helping her mother back at the big hall her father had built where she had first put her trust in God. Helen again saw the love of God being lived out before her eyes through her mother and the others who were helping the poor. Gradually, her faith returned to what she had believed as a schoolgirl.

Sharing the Word

In the years that followed, Helen married the famous evangelist and song leader, Charles Alexander. Together with some other evangelists, they brought ‘The Pocket Testament League’ back to life. It is estimated that over 100 million portions of Scripture have been distributed by the Pocket Testament League — and it’s still going strong today!

The Pocket Testament League has produced many stories about people whose lives were wonderfully transformed through reading the Bible. One such story is of Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese commander who led the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Darwin but found faith in God and forgiveness after the war was over, which you can read about here at Did You Know Education.

Many people across the world have become followers of Jesus, all because a young girl was determined to share her faith with others and help those in need.

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By Jordan Jamieson. Originally published at Did You Know? Education. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

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