The BBC comedy Little Britain may not have been your cup of tea but most of us have some idea of who Daffyd Thomas is. He lives in the Welsh mining village of Llanddewi Brefi and the comedy kicks in when poor deluded Daffyd thinks he’s ‘the only gay in the village’. In fact half the village is homosexual but Daffyd can’t or won’t see it. Unable to cope with the fact that everyone (including his parents) are quite OK with his sexuality and that even his best friend, Myfanwy, the local bar-maid is a lesbian, Daffyd stays the centre of attention as he persists in playing the ‘victim’, a misunderstand and isolated gay man in a straight world.
What makes it funny is the lengths that Daffyd has to go to in refusing to recognize the gay community around him. The fact that it is a gay man revelling in his status as ‘victim’ makes it particularly powerful. But the sketches also challenge the assumptions and thought-processes behind all those, gay or straight, who wish to ignore the sizable gay community in their own town or city in a desire to keep homosexuality on the margin of society.
But clever as the big idea is that makes the sketch work new research suggests that perhaps the voice of the gay community, in our media in particular, is out of proportion to it’s size.
How many people are gay in the UK?
The most common statistic is still the 1 in 10 figure associated with the Kinsey Report. The study reported that 10% of American males surveyed were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55“.
More recently, during the debate over civil partnerships, the then government accepted a figure of somewhere between 6 and 7 percent.
However it now appears that such figures are hugely inflated. The most recent and comprehensive survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics demonstrates that in this country we have consistently overestimated the size of the homosexual population.
My preferred weekly magazine, in its Christmas special, ran only one article on the Christmas story and they asked an atheist to write it. It’s called ‘Confession of an atheist: I respect Christianity too much to believe in it.’
Why would the magazine, which is conservative culturally and politically, prefer the view of an atheist for a Christmas comment? Well I guess because it’s a different angle. And that, my friends, is the problem for Christians when it comes to Christianity and the media.
There exists an inevitable bias against Christianity in the media because the media is always looking for new angles and new opportunities to say new things.
Andrew Marr at a recent internal seminar at the BBC let the cat out of the bag.
The BBC is a publicly funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnicminorities and almost certainly of gay people than the population at large. It depends on the states approval at least for its funding mechanism and all this creates an innate liberal bias inside the BBC and I think if we pretend there isn’t an institutional liberal bias of that kind which is much more clearly expressed as a cultural bias than as a party political bias.
And it has always been so. Marr, in his presentation to the September seminar, actually quoted a parliamentary committee from 1936 which highlights how the old, old story will always be eclipsed by the new.
‘There’s an inevitable tendency in the general programmes of the Corporation to devote more time to the expression of new ideas and the advocacy of change in social and other spheres than the defence of orthodoxy and stability, since the reiteration of what exists and is familiar is not so interesting as the exposition of what might be.’
As Marr pointed out, ‘Any producer, any reporter worth their salt wants to go for newness, challenge, controversy – and the Continue reading »
2011: The years of the No-strings fling ran the heading of the article I read at my wife’s hospital bed as we waited for thecontractions to begin and the baby to come. She had sent me off to the shop to pick up a couple of magazines so ever helpful I came back with Ideal Homes and Company.
The article was under the banner ‘The Company Report’ written by the editor of the magazine and essentially was an apologetic for freedom of sexual expression. The strap-line ran ‘One night stand, three-date rule, whatevs. Let’s stop putting a label on our sex lives. We’ll do it with who we want, when we want – and here’s why….’
Now let’s be clear the editor stressed ‘We’re not saying you should rush out and grab the first guy you see for a random encounter. It’s more about being in control of your own sex life without being worried about having a negative label slapped on you afterwards.’
The feature also wanted to be extremely clear and extremely critical of ‘the Daily Mail/middle-aged mums/well-meaning friends/your gran) who believe women who enjoy no-strings sex, whether for one night, one month or one year, muast be mad, bad or simply unable to find a regular boyfriend. But we know better. The truth is, what if – shock, horror – they actually just enjoy it?’
The most alarming aspect of the article was the obvious flaw in the argument that there can be such a thing as ‘no-strings sex’. After all what kind of sexual encounter has ‘no-strings’?
Condom for the heart
Lesley Garner in her super book ‘Everything I’ve ever learned about love‘ has a short chapter entitled ‘Safe Sex’ in which she simply but profoundly exposes the fallacy of ‘no-strings sex’.
‘There’s no such thing as a condom for the heart. Until there is, there will be no such thing as safe sex. You can wrap your whole body up in protective sheaths, you can fill yourself with barrier creams and spermicides, you can have sex over phone lines and in Continue reading »
The supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us [is] not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of reconciliation, but in the Christmas message of incarnation. The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man – that the second person of the Godhead became the ‘second man’ (1 Cor. 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that He took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as He was human.
Here are two mysteries for the price of one – the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. It is here, the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. ‘The Word was made flesh’ (John 1:14); God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child.
And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.
JI Packer – Knowing God
Wishing you a wonderful and worshipful Christmas!
Last night at 9.30pm (GMT) our second son, Felix Luther, was born. He is perfect in every way and the most undeserved gift of God to us for however long God gifts him.
The birth of a child is a cause to celebrate, a reason to marvel and produces in the life of any believer a reason to worship. The words of Psalm 139 immediately come to mind:
13 For you created his inmost being;
you knit him together in his mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because he is fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 His frame was not hidden from you
when he was made in the secret place,
when he was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw his unformed body;
all the days ordained for him were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
It is too much that God should be so kind.
A second birth
And yet as I look at this new life and thank God I also pray that God would work a second miracle and bring about a second new birth no less miraculous and no less a divine gift than the first.
A Puritan prayer taken from ‘The Valley of Vision‘
O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction
of my kindred. Continue reading »
When was the last time someone was interviewed at church about the work they do who was not in some form of full-time ‘Christian’ work? I have to confess as a Pastor I can’t remember the last time we heard from someone up at the front of church.
What message does it communicate when we fail to take an interest in the work of those in our churches. It seems to me that at least three of four things become imbedded deeply in the collective consciousness of the church.
1. The only work God is interested in is gospel work
2. The godly thing to be doing is being in paid Christian work everything else is second best
3. There is a sacred/secular split to our lives. Some things we do are important (sacred) and others irrelevant (secular). Unfortunately the vast majority of our time is spent doing things that don’t matter to God!
The problem is that as a Bible-believing Christian I don’t believe any of those things.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free – Ephesians 6:7,8
The problem is that unless I take steps to correct the assumption that most of what I do doesn’t matter to God the way we do church communicates that in practise that’s what we do believe.
Mark Green, in an article for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, gives some great advice on how in just a few minutes each Sunday for a month or so you can change the culture of the church to show that work matters to God.
Why not try, he suggests, interviewing a member of the congregation for just a couple of minutes focusing on questions about what Continue reading »
Last time round we began to look at the promise (Phil. 4:12-13) that a contentment independent of our circumstances is given us to in the gospel. And yet, we discovered from Paul it is a lesson that has to be learned and a contentment that needs to be discovered. As we look at the lessons surrounding contentment Thomas Watson’s ‘The Art of Divine Contentment’ will continue to be our guide.
What is contentment?
Contentation is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind,) yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, &c. Which are the ingredients put into it.
Have you learnt contentment?
Let’s look at nine tests for the presence in our own lives of a divine contentment. For some I’ve included a proverb that relates. How do you fair this Christmas time?
1. The content are satisfied with their lot
If you find honey, eat just enough— too much of it, and you will vomit – Proverbs 25:16
2. The content are happy being humble
It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honourable to seek one’s own honour – Proverbs 25:27
Whereas the discontent crave attention because they need to feed an ego.
3. The discontent are never satisfied with what they have and always craving more
The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing – Prov. 21:25
4. The content are happy to give away even what they do have
5. The discontent are often those who overwork
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle – Prov. 23:4 Continue reading »
As we rush headlong into Christmas and find ourselves with jobs undone, presents not bought or perhaps bought and not delivered, family and friends who won’t be able to get to us because of the snow let’s remember those who this Christmas face a greater trial. Please pray for the suffering church. Please pray in particular for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhan (33) , his wife and two young children after a death sentence was passed on him by an Iranian Court only because of his stand for Christ.
The philosopher and atheist AC Grayling is writing a book entitled ‘The Good Book: A Secular History’. In it he joins Richard Dawkins and Christophet Hitchens, amongst a growing list, who insist that you don’t need to believe in God to be good. Every Christian would want to affirm that fact. Atheists can and often do choose to be ‘good’, whatever that may mean in an amoral universe of ‘blind pitiless indifference’ to quote Dawkins.
But, heres the rub, the thing they don’t want to tell you is that without a belief in God there is no reason to be bad either. In a quite brilliant article the intellectual dishonesty at work in those who will not admit that their creed allows men to be cruel is exposed by Peter Heck.
Here’s just one extract but it’s well worth reading the whole:
Two years ago, their motto was “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake!” Last year, they were more direct: “No god? No problem!” But this year, as they feebly attempt to detract from the celebration of Christ’s incarnation once again, perhaps it’s a fruitful exercise for our civilization to consider their overtures and weigh the merit of their message.
As far as I can tell, the mantra “No god? No problem!” has but one minor flaw: the entire record of human history. It is no coincidence that as German atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche boasted, “God is dead … we have killed him … must we not ourselves become gods[?]” (which, by the way, is the entire basis of humanism dating back to the Garden of Eden), he Continue reading »
A few thoughts on this really interesting video:
1. I wonder what the visuals would look like if we tried to map the growth of the church over the same time period? Certainly it would be much more dramatic with the growth of the church in China and the developing world against the decline in Europe.
2. Is he being wildly optimistic in his prediction that all the nations will head up the graph? As Christians do we share his confidence?
3. As Christians do we recognize and thank God for his common grace? As we reap the benefits of living in times of peace, prosperity and long life do we acknwoldege him or do we enjoy the blessings and fail to thank our creator who has gifted men and women in ways that lead to scientific and technological advancement? What reasons do you have to thank God for in the light of this short video?
4. As a culture why are we no more happy even though we have so much more stuff and live longer, more comfortable and healthier lives? For statistical evidence that we are no happier see for example Oliver James’s Affluenza.
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