Sunday Night Live Sermons
BIBLICAL ETHICS AND POLITICS.
22nd July 2002
FESTIVAL OF LIGHT ANNUAL DINNER.
When marchers in 1989 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras carried a caricature of Rev Fred Nile's head on a plate through the streets of Darlinghurst. They did not realise they were paying him a tribute. They were identifying Fred Nile with John the Baptist.
John the Baptist had been martyred by King Herod because he pointed the finger accusing the king of sexual sin and immoral life-style. John had said, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Herod thought he had silenced John, but today the whole world knows of John the Baptist whom Jesus said, "among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist."
Fred Nile warned that promiscuous homosexual behaviour would result in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS with the consequences of suffering and death. Sadly, his predictions were fulfilled. And Herod? He silenced John and refused to change his life-style. The result? His wicked and sensual ways led to first century historian Josephus describing, in 90AD, Herod's death as the result of an ulceration of his colon, worms in his genitals, gasping, foul breath, compulsive spasms, intolerable itch over his skin.
Dr Walter Loebl, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London, in April 2001, diagnosed Herod's condition as a sexually transmitted disease resulting in myiasis, maggots in the scrotum with edema of the lungs resulting in heart failure.
By identifying Fred Nile with John the Baptist, the gay and lesbian community were paying him high honour. They were saying Fred Nile was a prophet to our generation, one who was unafraid of pointing out the sinful nature of their activities, who was fore-telling the consequences of their actions and who was in fact a man of God. They were saying Fred Nile was a man of integrity! He added integrity to the debate on contemporary Australian issues. Add Integrity! Why?
When the Festival of Light was launched in England in 1971 by Sir Cyril Black, Malcolm Muggeridge, Mary Whitehouse, Cliff Richard and others, it added integrity to the public debate on the moral standards of Great Britain.
Then here in Australia, led by Rev Fred Nile, integrity was added to the debate on contemporary Australian moral and family issues. Who can forget the protests against "O Calcutta!" "Number 96" "The Box" "Caligula" "The Last Temptation of Christ" and the visits of Mary Whitehouse, Pat Boone, Malcolm Muggeridge, Professor Blaiklock, Mother Teresa and many others.
The successful campaigns resulted in bans on child pornography, the awareness of the AIDS epidemic, the fight against the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, against prostitution, video pornography, and the positive fight for Aboriginal Reconciliation, for the recognition that Jesus was Lord, the national Flag and our Constitution and monarchy, and that Christian values were the core of our society.
Today we face new issues that show the Festival of Light is still needed.
1. In Victoria there is a test case of complaints lodged with the Equal Opportunity Commission under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act. It is a complaint by the Islamic Council of Victoria against Catch the Fire Ministries, its leader Pastor Danny Nalliah and another Christian pastor who is an expert on Islamic studies. The complaint cites comments made at a seminar called 'Insight into Islam', a newsletter published by them and an article on their website.
The seminar was designed to help increase awareness and understanding of Islam following the events of September 11 and other events of Christian persecution around the world. The speaker spoke from the Qur'an, the Hadith and other Islamic texts. He made it clear that many people who call themselves Muslims do not follow all the tenets and commands of the Qur'an. The seminar included sessions on understanding jihad, a comparison of the Qur'an and the Bible and a discussion of how to reach out to Muslim people in love and build relationships. At no time was this seminar intended to incite hatred or contempt for Muslim people. Rather, it was to help Christians understand Muslim people and encourage them to show love towards them.
The recently race-based gang rapes demonstrate the importance of public discussion on issues of race without being charged with racism. We can expect more legal action from extremist fundamentalist Muslims against Christian ministers and believers in the future.
2. We can expect more sexual exploitation in film, DVD and video such as the recent attempt to by-pass the censor with the film: "Baise Moi". Because of the actions of Rev Fred Nile, the Office of Film and Literature Classification Review Board announced they have banned the film Baise Moi with its actual sex and depictions of violence. The Festival of Light will need to be constantly vigilant.
3. In some States and in Federal Parliament, vilification legislation is proposed. Senator Brian Greig from Western Australia will introduce a private member's bill that would outlaw 'vilification' against homosexuals. He is being supported by Senator Bob Brown of Tasmania. Both these men are open homosexuals. What would this bill do? The effect of such legislation would be to stop people expressing opposition to the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle. Although the legislation would talk of 'inciting hatred', such legislation is open to interpretation by Equal Opportunity Commissions and the courts.
4. There is the continuing battle against Homosexuality in the church. On one side Christians continue to maintain that homosexuality is not acceptable for Christians and that God created male and female to be united in marriage. On the other side some people claim that homosexuality is perfectly normal and that it is not a problem. The issue divides the church.
But it is really a battle for the Bible, whether the church and its clergy believe the authority and relevance of the Bible to Christians today, and whether those who seek to be ordained subject themselves to its claims and commands. To attempt to combine immorality with godliness to produce spiritual fruit is completely contrary to scriptural teaching. In fact, Paul ranks it with "profane and vain babblings" and warns Timothy to avoid "contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Tim. 6:20).
If we neglect to uncover sin within the Church, we rob the Church of the integrity it should expect from its members. The Church becomes weak through compromise, and the leader becomes weak because of his or her immorality. It is unethical for Christians to cover up for leaders who have achieved their position through false claims or who are living immorally. Can the Church claim a higher ethical standard than the world when we adopt a "code of silence" worthy of organized crime? The public outcry over the silence of church leaders on the issue of child abuse tell us that people in the streets expect integrity of its church leaders.
5. There is the on-going encroachment of scientists who push the boundaries of ethical research for commercial profit. The value of life from the moment of conception to time of death is under threat from abortionists, embryonic stem cell and cloning researchers and those dedicated to euthanasia of the sick and dying.
Last Thursday, the US President's Council on Bioethics issued its report "Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry." It came up with a compromise position that calls for a total ban on "cloning-to-produce-children" and a four-year moratorium on "cloning-for-biomedical-research." It's a start.
The report clearly sets forth the case for the humanity and dignity of embryonic humans and does this in an official government document. It claims that law and public policy should proceed on the basis of full moral respect for human beings irrespective of age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency. "Embryonic human beings, no less than the human beings at other developmental stages, should be treated as subjects of moral respect and human rights, not as objects that may be damaged or destroyed for the benefit of others."
The report notes that what is at stake in the debate is, in part, "whether society can or should exercise ethical and prudential control over biomedical technology and the conduct of biomedical research." On this issue, where the meaning and dignity of human beings is at stake, we can and must take that ethical stand.
6. A final issue that confront us is the on-going decline in moral and ethical values that determine our behaviour. One study indicated 70% of all university students admitted they have cheated at least once, including plagiarism. Many students today are either unable or unwilling to act in an ethical manner. School violence against teachers and other pupils has become prevalent. Morality is not just situational, it is absent. Students come to school as moral stutterers.
They have not been taught respect for moral facts, the need for honesty, integrity, responsibility. They don't know what morality means. We have reached an ethical vacuum caused by a value system without a solid foundation. The question of values hinges on the question: Who makes these rules, God or men? The Christian and the theist turn toward the Creator of the Universe. The humanist and atheist turn inwards toward self. This distinction between theism and humanism is the fundamental division in moral theory.
"We may be approaching a Godless, valueless society in which "power ethics" or the "political rationalism" of humanism is replacing the Judeo-Christian ethical base of traditional morality. That places human values at the center of the universe, rather than God's values.. As our creator, God alone has the authority and knowledge to inform us as to how we are to act. Left to ourselves, we will only be confused.." The Morality of the West: From Bad to Worse Ray Cotton © 1996 Probe Ministries
Students today often seem to be lost in relativism. How can we tell students that things are right or wrong if there is no absolute reference point such as the Bible, to base this on?
Many are seeking to teach our children that there is no God and no afterlife. The Festival of Light calls upon society to re-evaluate its commitment to integrity and Christian ethics. The Festival of Light includes people who appreciate and understanding the human person; who acknowledge human sin; who possess a sense of right and wrong, and who uphold our democratic society with a common sense of morality. Those members know that when that moral foundation is missing, our culture comes apart at the seams. Good ethics are essential in business, in the church, parliament, education, the community in general.
The solution to the problem of poor ethical conduct in Australian business is not more legislation, more laws and more jails. The solution lies not in convicting thousands of Company Directors, Lawyers, Accountants, Bankers, Engineers, Architects and Politicians to go straight to jail without passing Spain.
The answer lies with you and me. It is up to each one of us to go back to basics and to take stock of our personal values and then, together with the people in our organizations, we should discuss, codify and then live by our values. One such ethical principle given by Jesus Christ to guide our behaviour and relationships: "In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you." (Matthew 7:12) This Golden Rule, is the principle of conduct given by Jesus to govern our relationships with others. All of us - business, professional and corporate leaders, union organisers and tradesmen, labourers and politicians, housewives and students - all of us can only have a better Australia if we treat others as we would that they treated us. There needs to be a renewal of personal ethics! We need a more ethical basis of personal relationships! This Golden Rule, so called for the past three hundred and fifty years, is the principle of conduct given by Jesus to govern our relationships with others. It is another way of saying: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."
It gives us a brief guide to our relationships with others because it shatters our self-centredness that hides our awareness of the needs and rights of others, and it expands our range of concern for them. If we have learned to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we are expected now to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Jesus says: "So in everything", in our personal, business, legal, family, corporate, and political relationships, we should apply this simple rule of behaviour. It is absolutely wide ranging. "Do to others what you would have them do to you". Earlier generations used the old translation "Do as you would be done by", as a slogan written up on school blackboards, in hand writing copy books, on samplers framed on the wall, in editorials and in business policy.
The golden rule is well known by golden oldies! Today if you asked people to state the Golden Rule, they would probably reply: "Do others before they do you!" This reverses His teaching and is the cause of our trouble. These people probably think that "Ethics" is a county in England!
The teaching of Jesus centres on a positive concern and regard for others as the touch-stone of our actions and attitudes. All we have to do is use our imagination, put ourselves in the other person's shoes, and ask, "How would I like to be treated in that situation?"
Would you want people to treat you as a second-class citizen and an intruder into our society? Then rid yourself of racist attitudes and treat others as fellow citizens and Australians! That is the Golden Rule! If you were hungry and homeless you would not want people at look at you in disgust as you passed them in the street. Of course not! So look at people in the street with compassion as brothers and sisters who are having a difficult time. Even nations can question their behaviour towards others this way.
That is the Golden Rule in action! Thus the Golden Rule is a positive ethic for our society aimed at improving relationships. The Golden Rule of Jesus for all relationships is brief, portable, memorable. Jesus did not give us an ethical guide to be praised, but to be practised. It was given not to be commented upon, but to be carried out! Do to others what you would have them do to you! And if you are still among the sinful and selfish who know not Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, own Him now! Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and your neighbour as yourself!
Rev Dr Gordon Moyes, A.C.,