A City Without Walls

As a white woman married to a black man, I am frustrated when the argument that ‘gay is the new black’ is used. I am also frustrated by the argument that says forbidding a loving relationship between two people of the same sex is as bad as forbidding a loving relationship between a man and a woman of different races. It is not the same thing. A man and a woman from different ethnic backgrounds still meet God’s criteria for marriage between one man and one woman, but a homosexual relationship (regardless of colour) does not. Furthermore, sexual behaviour is always a choice and the colour of your skin is not.

Hold on a minute…I didn’t choose to be gay, you might say. I may well concur with that, but all acts of a sexual nature are a choice and they are distinctly different from sexual desires.

Just because you have a particular sexual desire (heterosexual or homosexual or otherwise!) it does not follow that you have to act on it.  You have a choice.

Think about it…if a man only experiences sexual desire for a particular married woman does he have the right to have her? Does he have no choice in the matter, because his sudden desire makes it legitimate and he can’t help himself? If she feels the same way, does that confirm that they are both right?

What about people who feel sexual desire towards parents or siblings? It may strike you as repulsive, but it does happen!  The desire may come unbidden, but the law currently forbids the fulfilment of that desire.  Most of us instinctively know that incest is a wrong desire, but did you know that according to the Virginia Christian Alliance, incest is a category that is rapidly growing in demand within the porn industry, and before you just dismiss this as just people being privately fascinated by taboos, let me tell you that incest is currently a hotly debated subject that is being discussed all over the internet as individuals are beginning to challenge whether the law should dictate to us who we can and cannot have sex with.

Let’s take this further to an area that is not currently in much dispute: If a person feels sexual desire towards a child should they pursue a sexual relationship with that child? After all, if they had a choice, they would not want to be attracted to a child. I think most of us would agree that whilst they might not have a choice in what they feel they do have a choice in what they do with such feelings.

Again, desires can range from the perfectly ordinary to the utterly bizarre…as a retired doctor decided to inform me during a dinner function! If ever there was a case of too much information that was it!

Regardless of sexual desire, people can live a life of total chastity if they want to. Ahhh, but wait…have I fallen into the trap of my own argument? If people want a life of chastity that’s their choice, right? If Heterosexuals want to live lives of sexual abstinence they can, and, by the same token, if they want to have sex they can. So why don’t homosexuals have this freedom to choose either way? Don’t they have the right to pursue fulfilment of their sexual desires if they want to?

The answer is simply no, they don’t.

The key to understanding what is right and wrong is not to appeal to what I want to do. If everyone has the right to fulfil his or her sexual desires we must follow this argument through to its logical conclusion. We would have to say that whatever their persuasion, wherever their sexual interest lies, all human beings have the right to satisfy their sexual appetites. So, if they want to view pornography, visit prostitutes, have group sex, homosexual sex, sex with children, commit adultery, have sex with their mother, sex with their school teacher, sex with their pet, sex with someone else’s pet…they should be allowed to do so!

Of course not!

Now I daresay that there will be some people who will pick and choose from the above list and claim that some of those ‘appetites’ are permissible, while others are not – but you can’t have it both ways. If you want to argue that people have the right to fulfil their sexual desires you must concede to all of those on the list and probably many more that I was either too naïve or too polite to write about!

Desire is not the qualifier here. It cannot be. So saying ‘I can’t help how I feel’ may well be true…but saying ‘I have a right to fulfil my every desire’ can only be true if we agree that everyone has that same right, no matter what the desire.

Let’s go another step further. If we pick and choose our morality what grounds do we do that on? Do we go for whatever is acceptable to the current society? I think most people would say yes. Peer pressure is alive and well, even amongst adults. Homosexuality today is accepted (even celebrated) in society but incest is not, therefore, by that logic, homosexuality is good and incest is bad. But what if we lived in a society that said ‘if you want to have sex with your parent, we can’t stop you – go ahead.’ How would you feel about that? The overwhelming majority of us would cry NO WAY! Because even the thought is repulsive, and to be honest, I don’t even like writing about it! However, culture changes and opinions change. What is acceptable to one culture is not necessarily acceptable to another, so is right and wrong dependent upon the majority vote? You need to make your mind up about this or society will make your mind up for you. Here is just one example of the direction we are currently travelling in. In a court in Australia, Judge Garry Neilson, claimed incest was no different to homosexuality, which was once regarded as criminal and “unnatural” but is now widely accepted. He argued that the only problem with incest was that sex between family members might lead to abnormalities in offspring but he claimed that this wasn’t something to be concerned about anymore because of the availability of contraception and abortion.

You might think Judge Neilson’s argument is extreme – but when I was reading the online comments that this article generated, I was quite surprised to find that most people appeared to agree with him, or were at least leaning towards agreeing with him.

Perhaps the argument that sounds the most convincing is the one that claims we can do whatever we want sexually provided that no one gets hurt. This means that violent sex, rape or sex with minors is not acceptable, but any other form of sex is permissible between consenting adults. After all, who are we to dictate to other people what they can and cannot do behind closed doors?

This sounds like a fair and rational argument, but the problem you now face is that you can’t uphold the  ‘consenting adults’ morality without following it through to its conclusion – if the qualifier is adult consent, then anything that those consenting adults want to do is permissible, this includes, adultery, group sex, promiscuity, homosexuality, incest, all forms of prostitution and so on. Incidentally it also includes violent sex where someone’s life might be put at risk…because if both parties enjoy and consent to this then how can you say it is wrong?

In December 2010, University professor David Epstein from Columbia was charged with one count of incest because of his three-year, consensual affair with his adult daughter. In court his defence lawyer stated “It’s ok for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home. How is this so different?’

Maybe the best argument is one based on love.  You can’t help who you fall in love with and sex is a natural expression of that love. Again this argument sounds plausible on paper, but you don’t have to prod it very hard before it falls apart.

In 2010 the Telegraph Newspaper ran an article about a 72 year old grandmother who had fallen in love with her 26 year old grandson. In the article she says, ‘…we don’t care. You can’t help who you fall for…for the first time in years I felt sexually alive…we can’t keep our hands off each other…’ And her grandson says, ‘I felt instant attraction towards her…my feelings were overwhelming.’

The difficulty we face in our society is that we want to have rules, but we want to be the rule makers. We do not want moral absolutes in our society, we want to be flexible and accommodating. However, the problem is that as we move away from God’s moral guidelines we find ourselves in something of a no-man’s land and suddenly, exhausted, we give up trying to enforce any rules and everything becomes permissible.

William Lane Craig, writes:

“In a world without God, who’s to say whose values are right and whose are wrong? There can be no objective right and wrong, only our culturally and personally relative, subjective judgments. Think of what that means! …For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist—there is only the bare, valueless fact of existence, and there is no one to say you are right and I am wrong.” – William Lane Craig (from, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision)

Craig is right. You see, if we remove God as the one who makes the rules then what we do is draw in our own moral guidelines and gradually, as our guidelines are challenged, we rub them out and draw bigger ones. Eventually we have drawn and re-drawn and rubbed out so many lines that all we have is a mess and eventually reach the stage where we do away with guidelines all together.

When we move away from God we enter into a world where we make decisions on what feels good, or on the claim that we can’t help it, or that we are in love. But as we have seen, this is a shadowy path to follow and it opens the door to all sorts of other places that we would rather not go to.

A subject most people are not too comfortable with these days is the subject of ‘self control’. Suggesting to someone that they resist any particular urge will lead you into discussions about the dangers of suppressing natural tendencies, which society tells us is  very bad for us and can lead to depression, mental illness, self-esteem issues and so on. Yet the bible tells us that our most basic natural urge, our most common tendency is the urge to commit sin and we must not only take control of sin, but put it to death!

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3 : 5

This is not a popular teaching, but Jesus says

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…’  Matthew 16:24

But the world is appalled by the words ‘deny yourself’.  The world’s message is exactly the opposite: deny yourself nothing…if you want it, go for it, don’t let anyone stand in your way….’

In the article I referred to earlier about the 72 year old grandmother and her 26 year old grandson she said ‘we aren’t interested in anyone else’s opinion.’

This is the philosophy of our world today…do not judge me, do not tell me what to do, do not tell me what is right and what is wrong. I am not interested in your opinion.

A favourite verse of mine, which I taught to my children as they were growing up was this one found in Proverbs 25 : 28: A man without self control is like a city without walls. Without self control, without regard for God’s law and in rejecting His great wisdom as our very creator we open our society up to an avalanche of destruction, and perhaps we ourselves may not have to face the consequences of a world without sexual restraint, a world without self control and a world with no moral guidelines, but you can be sure that our children, and our children’s children will grow up in the world of our making, a city without walls.

© Bookworm October 2014.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/10958728/Australian-judge-says-incest-may-no-longer-be-a-taboo.html (accessed 3rd October 2014)



No Strings Attached

I’ve been a sign language interpreter since the age of 18. I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve interpreted, but it must run into thousands. I can’t remember every message I’ve signed, but one message, about 14 years ago, has never left me.

It was actually a children’s talk, but I believe it impacted the adults more than the kids – it certainly did me! It was a story told by Jeremy Middleton, who then serving as a missionary in Pakistan. He asked the kids how many of them had ever made a kite, and explained that kite flying was a strong part of Pakistani culture and his story went something like this…

One day a man went into a shop and purchased a kite. He took it out to a large field where many other kites were already flying. The kite became very excited, because he knew he was going to fly – it was what he was made for and he couldn’t wait to get started.

The kite trembled as he began to feel the breeze all around him and as the man began to unwind the kite’s string the wind caught the kite and lifted it into the air, a dance that caused the kite’s heart to soar. The man released more string and ran a little way so that the kite began to flutter and crane upwards and suddenly, with a whoosh, it flew into the air. The man quickly released more string and the kite felt a rush of exhilaration – he was soaring up, up, up into the blue skies and the ground was now a long way below him.

Looking to his left and to his right, the kite saw many other kites, just like him, they were all flying and he was now one of them. In fact, he was soaring perhaps a little higher than most of them. He felt like a king and with a cry of victory, that he could not contain, he yelled ‘Yes! This is what I was made for!’

To his surprise there was a little more string to be released and elegantly the kite soared further and higher than he had ever dreamed possible but then he felt a sharp tug at his neck. The string had reached its limit. The man was now gently pulling on the fully extended string while he watched the kite swooping and soaring, the way that he knew it would. But the kite was angry. He began to wrestle against the string. He looked up and saw the clouds, he saw the sun, he saw that there was a lot further that he could go and he wanted to explore – why stop here? He wanted to experience the heights that no other kite could reach. He hated the restraining string that held him back. The kites with strings were stupid, they accepted their lot, but he would not. He no longer loved the man who had purchased him and put him in the air, he wanted his freedom.

Struggling furiously he wrestled with the string, craning his neck this way and that way, cursing and bucking against it. There were places he wanted to go and if he were unrestrained he would be able to soar higher than anyone had ever gone before, but the man’s grip on the string was strong and held him back.

With an almighty effort he swooped and soared harder than he had ever soared before. He tugged and strained. He clawed frantically at his neck where the string was attached and pulled at it in a frenzy, all the while roaring loudly that he wanted his freedom. He wrestled as though fighting for his life and then with a scream of delight he felt the string come away from his neck and now…at last, invincible, he felt himself rising above all the other kites. His laughter mocked them – they should have shown the courage he had. They too should have fought and then they would be, like him, free, free, free forever.

Without warning the kite began to plummet. He struggled to stay air bound and in shock he saw himself nose-diving past all of the other kites. He panicked as he began spinning out of control, his head was a whirl. What was happening? Plunging rapidly towards the earth he looked with terror – where was the man? Who would help him? In agony he collided with a tree and hurtled towards the ground, the sharp branches tearing and shredding his colourful material until  finally, broken, torn and unrecognisable  he fell pitifully and lifelessly to the ground where he lay wrecked, shattered, unable to fly, no longer doing what he was made to do and no longer fulfilling his dreams.

This is the world we live in. I am that kite, you are that kite. Most of us suffer from the same affliction as Pinocchio and we sing his anthem daily…

I’ve got no strings

To hold me down

To make me fret, or make me frown

I had strings

But now I’m free

There are no strings on me


I’ve got no strings

So I have fun

I’m not tied to anyone.

They’ve got strings

But you see

There are no strings on me

Now, in anticipation of the rebuttal: ‘So we are all just puppets on a string and God is the puppet master’ let me just say up front that you are not a toy, you are a human being, made in the image of God, and you are made to be free. You are free to love your maker, and by that same token you are free to walk away from him or even claim that you are totally autonomous – you have no maker and you answer to nobody. You can cut the proverbial string and soar all on your own – but the problem is that lives have a strange habit of becoming shallow, meaningless, boring, empty, frustrating, and purposeless. Occasionally, they crash and burn.

What the kite did not realise, is that the very string he thought was restraining him and keeping him down, was the very thing that was keeping him up! The resistance of the string provided a way for the kite to fly higher than he ever could have without it.

The Psalmist writes:

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118 : 5

Maybe you are broken right now. God is in the restoration business and can gently restore what is broken and rebuild that connection between man and his maker. Or maybe you are still struggling with this concept of being free and yet letting God be in control of you life. After all, how can we be truly free and at the same time have lives that are restricted by God’s guidelines?

Think of it this way. You enter a public swimming baths and are given a lane to swim in. The rest of the pool is free for everyone to enjoy, but you are restricted. As you begin to swim there is a sudden influx of hundreds of people who all want to swim too, but they, refusing to be restricted by a swimming lane, all  jump into the pool, which becomes crowded. Everyone is ‘free’ to do whatever they want, but it’s become dangerous and difficult to enjoy their swim because they keep bumping into each other and can’t get enough space. Some people get hurt, some get angry, some insist on their right to swim and demand that others get out of the way, and some are so disillusioned that they decide to give up swimming altogether, but in the midst of all this chaos you note that they are all in the ‘free swimming zone’ and yet no one is swimming…except you. The restrictions actually offer you a level of freedom that the others do not have, and the guide ropes are what make it possible for you to swim, enabling you to swim freely up and down the pool.

This is what it means when God says you are free…his guidelines are not hinder your life, they are to make your life meaningful and purposeful. You live the way you were designed to live and you get to live the life you were created for.

So if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8 : 36

©Bookworm November 2014

Getting Away with Murder

face2faceDostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment[i] features Raskolnikov – a highly intelligent man who begins to question morality and wonders why he should do as society dictates.  He longs to become a ‘superman’ character with the power to break free and rise above the moral restraints that bind all of humanity. Raskolnikov begins by callously committing two murders, he kills an old woman and her half sister, but interestingly, almost immediately, he begins to wrestle with something he had not accounted for… his conscience:

“The old woman was a mistake perhaps, but she’s not the point! The old woman was merely a sickness . . . I was in a hurry to step over . . . it wasn’t a human being I killed, it was a principle! So I killed the principle, but I didn’t step over, I stayed on this side . . . All I managed to do was kill. And I didn’t even manage that, as it turns out . . .”  (Part III, chapter VI)

Raskolnikov proves that even when the natural moral law is violated the principle stating that it is wrong to kill remains firmly in tact. With his conscience raging within him he begins to drown in guilt and quickly realises that his efforts to silence his conscience are futile. He has risen up against an opponent much stronger than himself.

Frances Shaeffer said in one of his lectures that we can do away with morality, and many people do, but we can’t do away with damnation – meaning that we can intellectually reject morality, we can rebel against it, we can violate the natural moral law, but we can’t escape the consequences of doing this or the accusations of our own conscience.

The natural moral law that Raskolnikov has violated is so powerful that Petrovich, the local magistrate investigating the murders, knows he can’t escape and says:

What is it, to run away! A mere formality; that’s not the main thing; no, he won’t run away on me by a law of nature, even if he has somewhere to run to. Have you ever seen a moth near a candle? Well, so he’ll keep circling around me, circling around me, as around a candle; freedom will no longer be dear to him, he’ll fall to thinking, get entangled, he’ll tangle himself all up as in a net, he’ll worry himself to death!”  (Part IV chapter V)

I recently read a fascinating essay by Steve L. Porter[ii] that contrasts Dostoevsky’s original mid nineteenth century Crime and Punishment with Woody Allen’s retelling of the story in his late twentieth century movie, Crimes and Misdemeanours. I’ve never seen the movie, but Porter observes how much the cultural context has changed over the years. The film insists that protagonist, Dr. Rosenthal, who commits a murder, can get away with it and avoid punishment – he even enjoys peace of mind over his crime. Rosenthal is perhaps the ‘superman’ of Raskolnikov’s dreams, but perhaps, like the man that came from the planet Krypton, he too is just a fantasy figure.

In the 1960’s, before I was born, the now notorious ‘Moors Murderers’, Myra Hindley and Ian Brady murdered a number of children and buried them on the Moors. Throughout my lifetime the media has intermittently referred to these murders via news items and documentaries. I wondered if Petrovich’s words about the working of the conscience bore out in the lives of these child murderers…after all it had been more than 40 years now. I already knew that Myra Hindley had allegedly become a practicing catholic whilst in prison, and regardless of whether or not her faith was genuine it is clear that she, like Raskolnikov, couldn’t shake off her conscience and vehemently wished she had been hung for her crimes saying:

“…I would have made a total confession to the priest before I hanged and would not still be half crippled by the burden of guilt that will not go away. But I didn’t hang.”[iii]

Hindley died in 2002 at the age of 60, after 36 years in prison, but what about Brady? Did he feel remorse?

As I began to research Ian Brady I was fascinated to discover that a hero of his, and a person he modelled himself on, was none other than Raskolnikov! Brady believed he had “reached the stage where, whatever came to mind, [he could] get out and do it” and insisted that he “led the life that other people could only think about.” [iv] Fiona Steele, author of Murder on the Moors, writes: “Dostoevsky’s novel had become for Brady, not an exploration of the destructiveness of unrestrained ego, but a justification for, and ennobling of his own degraded fantasies.”[v]

From everything I had read it appeared that Brady was without remorse for his crimes, although interestingly in 1978, during his first public statement, he stated that he would not be asking for parole because he accepted  ‘the weight of the crimes both Myra and I were convicted of justifies permanent imprisonment, regardless of expressed personal remorse and verifiable change.”[vi]

Whilst Brady did not appear to have any guilt over his crimes he
clearly had a conscience. He knew he deserved permanent imprisonment. Professor J. Budziszewski claims that people often mistake guilt for conscience. Conscience is knowledge.  There is a big difference between guilty feelings and guilty knowledge. Guilty feelings can be repressed, they can be rationalized away and, in the case of psychopaths, may not even exist at all, but guilty knowledge remains. Budziszewski cites a local newspaper article he remembered reading once when a murderer claimed to have no guilty feelings whatsoever over his crime and remarked, ‘there must be something wrong with me, don’t you think?’[vii]

It is also interesting to note that since October 1999 Ian Brady has been on hunger strike and has been in court pleading for the right to die. I was particularly struck by his comments when his plea was eventually denied,

“Myra gets the potentially fatal brain condition, whilst I have to fight simply to die. I have had enough. I want nothing, my objective is to die and release myself from this once and for all.”[viii]

It is my belief that God has designed and created us to have
knowledge of the natural moral law. ‘Natural’ because we come with it ‘built in’ as an integral part of our biological programming, and ‘law’ because it is binding and has authority.

Very few would argue that Ian Brady has done nothing wrong.
Most people refer to him as ‘evil’ – but is this because morality is a social construct and Brady has broken the rules of our game of life? If an overwhelming majority of people suddenly decided that they too wanted to throw off the ‘petty restraints’ that control our behaviour – would Brady suddenly become a national hero rather than a reviled child killer? Well, if morality was indeed a social construct then logically the answer should be yes, but this is unthinkable. Realistically we know that even if the whole world were filled with men like Brady who rebelled against established morality and even went as far as to make murder legal, murder would still be wrong. Our opinion, no matter how loudly voiced, does not change what we instinctively know to be true. Budziszewski says, “Everyone knows certain principles. There is no land where murder is virtue and gratitude vice.’[ix]

The apostle Paul claimed that whether people believe in God or not, “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them …” (Romans 2: 15 – 16)

I have often heard atheists insist that you can be moral without believing in God. Ironically this argument, although true, unwittingly makes a stronger argument for the existence of a creator God. Human beings are made in God’s image, which means belief in God is not a pre-requisite for morality. Many atheists are able to achieve moral excellence without believing in God simply because the natural moral law is embedded, by default, by God, into their very being.  Humans are, however, free to violate the natural moral law and they frequently do, but as both Raskolnikov and his admirer Ian Brady discovered, this doesn’t mean the moral law doesn’t exist, nor does it make it go away or silence our conscience.

© Bookworm October 26th July 2013

[i] Dostoyevsky, F (1998) Crime and Punishment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[ii] Porter, S.L . (2009). Dostoevsky, Woody Allen, and the Doctrine of Penal Substitution. In: Copan, P. and Craig, W. L Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors. Nashville: B & H Academic. 233 – 248.

[iii] Steel, F. (2013). Murder on the Moors: The Ian Brady and Myra Hindley Story. Available: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/predators/moors/update_9.html. Last accessed 13th July 2013.

[iv] Wikia. (2013). Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Available: http://criminalminds.wikia.com/wiki/Ian_Brady_and_Myra_Hindley. Last accessed 8th July 2013.

[v] Steel, F. (2013). Murder on the Moors: The Ian Brady and Myra Hindley Story. Available: http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/predators/moors/feather_4.html. Last accessed 25th July 2013.

[vi] Unknown. (2013). Ian Brady: The real natural born killers. Available: http://www.serialkillercalendar.com/IANBRADY.HTML. Last accessed 25th July 2013.

[vii]  Is Morality Natural? J. Budziszewski at the University of Idaho, video, Veritas Forum, 17 October 2012, viewed 3rd July 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wLmYvQF3oM

[viii] Tran, M. (2000). Brady loses bid to die. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/mar/10/marktran. Last accessed 25th July 2013.

[ix] Budziszewski, J. (1997) Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law, Grove, Ill, Inter Varsity Press. pp 208 – 209

image of Ian Brady as featured on the front cover of  Face To Face With Evil: Conversations With Ian Brady by Dr Chris Cowley (John Blake Publishing).

Comments received:

  • failed atheist 30 July 2013 11:47:  Some great points. Many non-theists often claim there are no moral norms but when you try to violate their own intrinsic human dignity they often change their tune very quickly! A good question to ask someone when they claim they can be good without God, is what exactly do they mean by good? Often a nice place to start off a great discussion. I’ll add you to my blogroll as-well 😉

  •  Kim Sandy:  Thank you very much! Just been looking at your blogs…lots of good reading lined up for me!
  •  Cheryl Jongeneel 5 August 2013 13:08:  Since I have been reading “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, this has been a very encouraging read about the same truth that he is discussing. I am encouraged to now find “Crime and Punishment” and read that, too. Thanks for being so clear with the truth.
  • Kim Sandy: Thank you Cheryl. Mere Christianity is another much loved favourite of mine! Thanks for taking the time to comment – much appreciated.


meaninglessToday I listened to a debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Andrew Bernstein.[1]I don’t think it was one of Bernstein’s better days, because he actually said this:

“Life is not a dress rehearsal. It’s not preparation for beyond. This is it. We need to fulfil ourselves here and now. So, I urge all of you to think about what you want out of life. Do you want an education in a given field? Do you want romantic love? Do you want children? Do you want a career in a certain field? And then work your hardest and best using your mind to create those values in your life and then live a happy and fulfilled life.” (Bernstein: 1:09.16 – 1:09:45)

This however, begs the question…what about the suicidal student who fails their exams and can’t get an education in a given field? What about the woman who is always the bridesmaid and never the bride? What about the couple who can’t have children and then are told they are too old to adopt? What about people who can’t get a job in their chosen career…what do we say to these people? “Tough. You should have tried harder. You clearly didn’t use your mind properly to create those values in your life.”

Whilst Berstein tries to dodge the existentialist bullet of despair and claim that this is really a motivational speech to rally the human race to greater things, it is actually starting to sound depressing. What do we say to those people who fail to achieve their goals in life, and even more puzzling, what do we say to those who do achieve them?

As Bernstein was speaking about all the grand possibilities that I could pursue in my life I wondered what it would be like if someone opened up the most wonderful store in the world and gave me a gold credit card at the door saying I could buy whatever my heart desired… because I was about to die. Do you think there would be much point to the shopping trip? It would immediately become meaningless to me! What would I want the exquisitely tailored outfit for? Why would I want a new sofa? What use would I have for the latest high tech gadget? Would my purchases bring me true fulfilment? In the same way what does it matter if I a manage to make a success of myself, if my book becomes a best seller, if I star in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or am featured on the cover of the Rolling Stone. If Bernstein is right and we can be fulfilled through our achievements, why is it that we see so much unrest and unhappiness in the people who appear to ‘have it all.’?

In a lecture given in 1962, Frances Schaeffer said that man is afraid of the annihilation of life, NOT because he fears death, but because it makes his present without meaning.[2]

Whilst there is nothing wrong with having ambition, hopes and dreams for your life Mark’s gospel asks this question: ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?’ (Mark 8 : 36). He’s right!

Berstein, for all his ‘wise advise’ would do well to read the words of Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes – the book that cries ‘Meaningless, meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’ (Ecclesiastes 1 : 2) over and over again. Here are some of Solomon’s observations…

‘Laughter,’ I said, ‘is madness. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly – my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was good for people to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives.  I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards.  I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.  I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well – the delights of a man’s heart. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. 
My heart took delight in all my labour,
and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
 and what I had toiled to achieve,
 everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2 : 2 – 11)

After achieving every possible pleasure for himself he then makes a sobering discovery, one that Bernstein would do well to note for it is Bernstein who suggests that we can use our minds to create a fulfilled life now.

“I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.

The wise have eyes in their heads,
 while the fool walks in the darkness; 
but I came to realise
that the same fate overtakes them both. Then I said to myself,

‘The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?’
 I said to myself, ‘This too is meaningless.’ For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
the days have already come when both have been forgotten. 
Like the fool, the wise too must die!  (Ecclesiastes 2 : 13 – 16).

However, unlike Bernstein, who sticks to his philosophy of meaninglessness, the writer of Ecclesiastes comes to this conclusion:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: 
fear God and keep his commandments, 
for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12 : 13 – 14)

Life is a gift from God and we are to enjoy it as such. We should make the most of every opportunity that is given to us and make use of the gifts we are given, but we should do this with reverence to God and with an awareness that this life is not all there is. There is something far, far greater to come.

Therefore we do not lose heart.

though outwardly we are wasting away,

yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

For our light and momentary troubles

are achieving for us an eternal glory

that far outweighs them all.


2 Corinthians 4:16,17

For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18


© Bookworm 4th July 2013


[1]   The Objective Standard,2013. Christianity: Good or Bad for Mankind,  Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy5OajO7nrc [Accessed 3rdJuly 2013].

[2] Dr. Francis Shaeffer, Christianity and Science, audio recording, L’Abri Ideas Library, Catalogue number 303, 13 November 1962.

Enemies of Evolution

Tom&julien-72Having previously studied for an honours degree in English Literature, and being a lover of books, I had come across Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, and his ideas, but until recently I had never heard of his brother Julian Huxley. It turns out that Julian was quite the academic. He was the grandson of Thomas Huxley, who was nicknamed “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his ferocious support of the theory of evolution and I imagine it was at his grandfather’s knee that Julian first began to absorb evolutionary ideas. Julian shone brightly. He was educated at Eton College, received his degree from Oxford University, lectured at Kings College London and became president of the British Humanist Association… amongst a long list of other achievements!
Julian Huxley fascinated me for a while and I started reading some of his work. Initially I was quite impressed by his thought processes – albeit that he often sounded quite arrogant. You see, when an atheist denies God, he also denies a moral absolute and consequently a moral lawgiver. If there is no moral lawgiver and no moral absolutes then who can say what is right and what is wrong? Why should we even care about such things? I’ve seen people try for some wriggle room on this one, but it’s a major sticking point in the atheist’s argument and often they find themselves ‘borrowing’ from Christianity when they defend their personal ideas of morality.

The crux of evolutionary ideology is the survival of the fittest, so if you are going to follow this thought through to its logical conclusion then how can rape, murder, theft, adultery, lying and a host of other ‘crimes’ be wrong when a person is just doing whatever he needs to do to survive or get ahead? Trampling over other people in order to get what we want should be the first law of evolution and be essential to our make up. For example, if I want to be selected for a particular job promotion, what is to stop me from killing off all the others short-listed for the position?

When I was debating this very point recently I was told that since we no longer live in the cave-man days we no longer have to kill or be killed. We have a measure of stability in our society and this allows us to to develop a pack mentality, so that it is no longer about what is good for the individual, but is now about what is good for the pack – or for society I presume. This apparently gives us room to care for people, to have compassion for our fellow human beings and even to show sympathy and empathy. I genuinely think it is a clever argument, but there is no denying that sympathy and empathy are enemies to evolution and could potentially destroy the ‘pack’ if we lose sight of the ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality. What would Huxley have to say about this?

Well, Huxley stood his evolutionary ground whilst promoting his humanist ideology. He claimed that humanism was a replacement for religion, but he made no bones about how we should further advance our society and didn’t shy away from the uglier side of evolution. In 1926 he published a collection of articles in a book entitled The Stream of Life. The articles had formerly been broadcast by Huxley over the radio – this surprises me, because I think it takes some gall to express his ideology publicly. Huxley told his audience exactly how we could improve the human race.

“But what are we to think when pity for suffering individuals leads us not only to preserve them, but to allow them to reproduce and so not only to lower the quality of the race, but to produce more suffering in individuals yet unborn? What is one to think of the misplaced kindness which, to give an actual recent case, takes an epileptic woman to hospital to be operated on to remedy sterility; or the sentimentality which rejoices at the ‘happiness’, so called, generated by the marriage of two deaf mutes?”[i]

newspaper_NEWHere, I think, would be an appropriate time to bring up the actual joy generated by ‘the marriage of two deaf mutes’ (although I would never choose to use the phrase ‘deaf mute’). In the 1960’s a London Newspaper ran an article entitled: ‘Deaf Couple Marry’ which detailed the marriage of my ownparents.

My parents met at a London deaf school where sign language was forbidden and deaf children who persisted in this deviant language were shunned by society, because apparently the ‘waving around’ of their hands made them appear mentally ill.

The education my parents received focused mainly on manual skills and speech therapy and therefore they left school with barely any education. My father had a qualification in woodwork and my mother a qualification in cake decorating. When they married my parents were not allowed to make their marriage vows to one another in sign language, but instead had to struggle to speak their vows orally to each other.

Despite their disadvantages they were hard workers and determined to build a good life together. Some years later my parents ‘reproduced’ two very healthy hearing children who went on to marry and have hearing children of their own. Their first grandson, Benjamin grew up adoring his grandparents and communicating with them in sign language. He was inspired by the determination and courage with which they faced life. Today Benjamin is in his 4th year as a medical student at Imperial College London – one of the top medical schools not only in the UK, but also in the world. Their second grandson, Joseph 17 is currently gathering work experience so that he too can study medicine – if this is what God wills, and guess what their 11 year-old grand-daughter wants to do? I am not saying that this means our family has more value than anyone elses, I am merely pointing out that doing away with the ‘undesirables’ is not progressive!

I’d like to put this real life example to Julian Huxley and ask him how the marriage and reproduction of my parents actually weakened the human race and how, in the face of what they have achieved, he can justify his comments recommending that society should be ‘segregating defectives in special institutions’ and forcibly sterilising them.’[ii]

Growing up and studying World War II at school I realised that had my parents lived in Germany at that time they most likely would have ended up in the gas chambers since the ‘cleansing’ that Hitler and Nazi Germany practiced was in alignment with Huxley’s eugenic ideas. Joe Boot, author of A Time to Searchcites historical philosopher John Koster who wrote:

“Darwin and Huxley’s picture of man’s place in the universe prepared the way for the Holocaust…Darwin the scientist directly inspired Nietzsche’s superman theory and the Nazi corollary that some people were subhuman…People have to learn to stop thinking of other people as machines and learn to think of them as men and women possessed of souls…History doesn’t need another one hundred million deaths to prove that scientific atheism is a form of mental illness.”[iii]

Eugenics is the logical outworking of evolution. I can see why on paper the ideas make sense and might sound like ‘progress’. I can also see why people who argue against this sort of ideology might be considered to be ‘feeble minded’ – something Huxley and the early proponents of evolution despised but what you see in the Nazi concentration camps is eugenics in action. The devaluing of human life flows from the atheist position of rejecting the teaching of the Bible that tells us that people are made in the image of God and therefore all life is precious. Instead life is expendable and killing of the defectives, undesirables and weak is to be applauded. The Nazi concentration camps brought these ideas into sharp focus and taught us that such ideas have consequences and these consequences would frequently come back to haunt us.

My grandmother, who was not a believer, told me that she was glad she didn’t know that my mother was going to be deaf because if she had she would have made a terrible mistake and would have aborted her baby as an ‘act of kindness’. My grandmother had no time for God, but she had unwittingly absorbed Darwinian ideas, which she didn’t fully understand but believed that they gave her license for her atheism. Millions of other people have hung their atheism on the same ‘respectable peg’ for as Richard Dawkins said, ‘Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.’[iv]

The teaching of Christianity is in direct contrast to the harsh demands of evolution leading to eugenic ideologies and it is no wonder that Hitler himself rose up to declare:
“I regard Christianity as the most fatal, seductive lie that ever existed.’[v]
I find it hard to believe that anyone would claim that Adolf Hitler was a Christian. I do not deny that he was born a catholic, but it is clear that Hilter’s intention was to wipe out Christianity.
“Altogether Hitler’s killing machine murdered 5 million Jews, and 7 million Christians — a little published fact that caused Jewish historian Max Dimont to declare that “the world blinded itself to the murder of Christians” by Nazi Germany.”[vi]

I have no doubt that many supporters of evolution do not hold to the extreme eugenic ideas of the likes of Huxley, or Hitler for that matter, but I truly believe that for the evolutionist there is not a lot of ‘wriggle room’ here. As Edward Simon said (1983), “I cannot deny that the theory of evolution, and the atheism it engendered, led to the moral climate that made a holocaust possible.”[vii].

I believe that the grace of God covered my family and that we are living proof that Huxley couldn’t have been more wrong – I absolutely do rejoice over the happiness brought about by the marriage of my wonderful deaf parents.

© Bookworm 2013

[i] Julian Huxley (1926). The Stream of Life, cited by Boot, J. (2002). A Time to Search: Discovering meaning and purpose in life, Eastborne, Kingsway Publications, p.106.

[ii] Ibid., p.106

[iii] John P. Koster, Jr,.The Atheist Syndrome (1989), cited by Boot, J. (2002). A Time to Search: Discovering meaning and purpose in life, Eastborne, Kingsway Publications, p.111

[iv] Dawkins, R. (1989) The Blind Watchmaker, London, Penguin Books (this edition 2006), p.6

[v] Alolf Hitler, cited by Larry Azar, Twentieth Century in Crisis (1990), Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, p.155.

[vi] Dimont, Max I (1994) cited by Bergman (2006) in ‘Was Adolf Hitler a Christian: A common objection to creationism.’ [online] available at http://www.trueorigin.org/hitler01.asp  (last accessed 22nd June 2013).

[vii] Edward Simon, “Another Side to the Evolution Problem,” Jewish Press, January 7, 1983, p. 248

Picture of Juilian Huxley: The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: his image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.


  • Cheri- CreationScience4Kids24 June 2013 13:55 Powerful. I’ve heard the evolutionary arguments before, but tying your story into it puts the whole thing on a different plane. Thanks for sharing.


  • Sita4 July 2013 13:01 Powerful essay. Thank you.


  • Jeanette4 July 2013 14:40 Such an excellent article. Thank you! I have shared the link by email to a friend, too.


  • Kim Sandy4 July 2013 15:38 Thanks for such encouragement – you’re a blessing!


  • Greg Reeves6 July 2013 17:56 I believe you are right that eugenics is the logical outworking of naturalistic evolution. But naturalistic evolutionists these days would strive to distance themselves from it, saying that “now we know better, that that’s not what evolution says.” But I wonder if it’s more likely that people are following their (God-given) moral compass and trying to force-fit Christian ideas into naturalistic evolution where it suits them. It’s called “borrowed capital.”


  • Kalen Christensen8 July 2013 17:02 You’re conflating evolution with an active moral compass. That evolution is real and exists does not require the atheist, naturalist, or “evolutionist,” to subscribe to it as a moral framework. In debate after debate, Richard Dawkins himself has repeatedly indicated how horrendous, cruel and wasteful evolution is. But whatever our moral qualms regarding evolution, that is not a challenge against the validity of evolution existing as an actual physical fact. By analogy, I find it incredibly distasteful that poverty can exist in a modern society such as ours, when we have all the means to end poverty but apparently none of the will (and too much greed). However, just because I recognize poverty exists, that does not mean I endorse it as a moral framework, nor should I reject its existence simply because I find the idea distasteful. Likewise with evolution, it exists, it happens, it’s horrendous, and yes, if a god does exist, then the fact that he chose evolution as his tool makes him, in my mind, a monster (just as you would rightly claim of any atheist that assumes evolution is a moral guiding principle). Secular moral frameworks never derive themselves from evolutionary theories, and always from the general, relatively universal, principles of altruism and empathy for other humans (and, more recently, for all life on Earth). If a secular morality does make reference to evolution, it is only to understand where we’re coming from and recognize that our world is not perfect, is not suited for our benefit, and is not guided by a benevolent force looking after us. Instead, understanding just how cruel nature can be, we look to shape ourselves according to a better, more humane ideal. Nature may not care for us, but we can still care for one another. This is precisely why atheists, statistically, not only are just as moral as any religious person, but in many instances actually more moral — even according to the religious person’s own standards for morality.


  • JamesM3 14 August 2013 12:39 Kalen, the point is that no grounding exists for a naturalistic “ethic”. In fact, the notion of good and evil is illusory in the face of natural forces. We are left with mere preference, and that is no substitute for an ethic whose ontology is actually part of the universe’s framework.


Slippery Slope of Progress

stunRecently I got into a debate with a sharp minded student who claimed that sexually, anything between two consenting adults was okay….anything. Sex before marriage, sex with multiple partners, sex between same sex couples…he was adamant that what goes on in private between consenting adults is their business and nobody elses. This statement fascinated me, ‘surely you don’t believe that?’ I asked, but he stood his ground – he truly believed that ANYTHING between consenting adults was fine. Eventually, in an effort to make him reconsider his position I asked, ‘so, if a consenting mother wanted to have sex with her consenting adult son, you would say that was fine?’  His face dropped a little, and he immediately looked uneasy, but he held his position and looked me square in the eye while he  rather slowly and unconvincingly answered, ‘yes’.

You see, this is where moral relativism gets us. If we truly believe that there are no moral absolutes, and what’s right for me is right for me and what’s right for you is right for you, we end up with very vague guidelines for morality. We assume that as part of our social contract we are all on the same page and that we can all rub along nicely…but beliefs like this open the door to all sorts of craziness! How can you possibly say that incest is wrong if you truly believe that anything between two consenting adults is fine.

I thought about this for a while and decided that perhaps the student could have argued that incest was wrong because it is against the law. That would at least give him legal ground for repelling this act? But then I thought again…it was not so long ago that homosexuality was illegal…what happened there?  When the law becomes unpopular with the majority, when the law appears to be losing the battle and its boundaries are constantly challenged, the law just changes the boundaries. So by that token it would appear (call me a prophet if you like) that, on the basis of our society’s belief that there are no moral absolutes, we will soon have to change our law to make incest between consenting adults fully acceptable. Anyone with anything to say against this would be shut down as sexually repressed, backward thinking, and biophobic – or whatever the phrase is that we will readily adopt to describe those against incest.

So again, society will be brainwashed into believing that maybe we were a bunch of sexually repressed fuddy duddies at the beginning of the 21st Century. Those of us who don’t like being portrayed as the village idiot will have to toe the line and get on board with the new way of thinking.  So get ready people – you think it will never happen, you think intelligent moral people won’t stand for it, but incest is making its way into your life and into head. Trust me.

The student I was debating with listened to me and then tried to wriggle out of his own argument by saying that perhaps incest would not be acceptable between family members because sex might be used as a controlling force, but I insisted that in this mother and son scenario sex was only  expression of love and so he had no choice but to concede – ‘well in that case, yes’ he said ‘I’d have to say that sex between a mother and son is okay then.’ He left me utterly flabberghasted when he added, ‘It’s progress.’

So not even two weeks later I am stunned to find an article on the net where a father has been sent to prison for having an incestuous sexual relationship with his consenting adult daughter, but rather than deny its truth or hide their faces from the press, the pair are furious – this is their buisness and nothing to do with anyone else. In the same article twin brothers talk about their sexual relationship with each other as ‘not harming anyone…’

Personally I believe that every single human being has a sense of what is right and wrong because God has written his moral law on our hearts, but Satan who is the God of this age, is true to form – getting people to question God and consequently to question their own ideas of morality. Is God right, why shouldn’t you accept incest? Any society that believes there is no God can claim to be moralistic, following their own ideas of morality or going along with the popular consensus, but without a moral law giver you are left with moral relativism and this, as we can see, leads us into utter ruin as a society.

“Although they claimed to be wise, they became utter fools.” Romans 1 : 22
@Bookworm 15th September 2012


Just Who is being Brainwashed?

brain1When I was a teenager I began to tell my grandmother about Jesus Christ. I didn’t hammer her with my belief, but as we would talk it would come up naturally in conversation.  Her response was to tell me that I take after my great-great-grandmother who was also ‘religious’ and then, when I pointed out that faith in God was not something that could be passed down through our genes, like eye-colour or  height etc, she told me she thought Christians (including me) were actually brain-washed.

For years it hurt me that she thought I was brain-washed. She wasn’t an educated lady, but she was streaks ahead of Richard Dawkins in her assumptions that I (and others like me) were simply deluded.

So am I brainwashed? Bearing in mind that those being brainwashed often don’t know it, I want to look at the evidence – who is being brainwashed and who is qualified to make judgements?

Brainwashing normally occurs in one of two ways. Firstly it occurs through subliminal messages – where something is repeated so frequently that you begin to believe it.

Okay – so its true – I have heard from about the age of 3 or 4 that there is a God and that this God created our world. However, as an adult the bible tells me not to believe everything I hear. I am not to take everything at face value, but am to ask questions of it and seek out the truth (I’m not sure this is typical brainwashing strategy).

The apostle Paul said ‘Test everything. Hold on to what is good’ ( 1 Thessalonians 5 : 21).  The bible tells me I am not to put my brain in my backpack and go skipping through life blindly ignoring every question that is raised against God, or accepting every statement made in the name of God. Jesus tells me I am to ‘Love the Lord [my] God with all [my] heart and with all [my] soul and with all [my] MIND.’ This is the first and GREATEST commandment! (Matthew 22 : 37 – 38). I am not even to accept everything that a preacher, apologist or teacher says without being careful to check that this is indeed what is right: Jesus said: ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.’ Matthew 7 : 15. I am not even supposed to rely on my own judgements and see myself as the fount of all knowledge – setting myself up as judge over what I personally like and don’t like, over what I personally agree with or don’t agree with. The bible tells me not to ‘rely on my own understanding.’ (Proverbs 3 : 5).

So, repeating something to me over and over again is not going to be so effective if I am constantly checking it out. However, it strikes me that my grandmother, an atheist constantly believed all subliminal messages put to her that there was no God without ever stopping to question whether this was true or not, without ever checking anything for herself. When I asked her what she believed about the Universe and where it came from she told me that it had always been here. The bible told me that this could not possibly be true. The bible told me that in the beginning God spoke the world into being…

Today science backs this up. Science used to believe that the world was eternal – it had always been here and always would be. Scientists now know that the universe almost certainly had a beginning and that it will almost certainly come to an end, what they don’t know is WHY the universe began, and they are still guessing at how. I think I know! The bible says God ‘said’ let there be… Oh yeah, that’s a bit childish isn’t it. What, God said the magic words did he? Uh, no…stay with me here!  The DNA code in all living things is a language code…God introduced language into the Universe, logic, reason and sense in all that he had made. The bible says God ‘spoke’ – DNA shows us his language!

I then asked my grandmother where we came from and she told me – with a wink – that we came from monkeys. I asked her if she truly believed that and she said she did. She couldn’t explain evolution to me, she had no idea how or why it was supposed to work, but if everyone believed that this is where we came from who was she to argue with them. She refused to check it out, refused to consider any alternatives, refused to think about anything concerning God – but it would be laughable to think that she had been brainwashed…wouldn’t it?

The second way that brainwashing works is through reinforcement. Here wanted behaviour is rewarded and unwanted behaviour is punished. Okay lets think about this. If you wanted to brainwash someone into being a Christian it would be mighty difficult, because doing the right thing seems to get you nowhere in this world. A little bit of tax evasion, a little white lie, a little bit of gossip – the odd lustful thought…its what makes the world go around isn’t it? How about indulging in the passions of the flesh…that’s fun isn’t it. Who wants to deny themselves anything? So, how is wanted behaviour being rewarded then?  Being a Christian sounds like hard work and certainly doesn’t make you the life and soul of the party. This world does not reinforcing the Christian’s behaviour, because everyone can see that its the last thing anyone wants! And yet the Christian hangs on – having tested everything they are holding onto what is good (even though at times it seems to make life a lot harder). My grandmother once told me that if I wanted to get ahead in the world I’d have to give up my God malarky.

But is the atheist receiving any subliminal messages based on reward and punishment? Well, possibly yes! Daily they see that those who make it big in this world are those who do not believe in God – the successful celebrity, the rich businessman, the model, the singer, the actor….they don’t need God do they? They receive messages  from their idols, in their newspapers, on the radio, on TV, in Holywood films, in soap operas, in music, in art, in literature, in philosophy… they receive the same message, again and again, that there is no God. The message is that they don’t need God, he’s not there, he never was and he never will be, but they never stop to question the truth of the matter because when they look at the Christian, they are bombarded with a different message. The Christian is a mealy mouthed kill joy who is a pain in the neck everywhere he or she goes. They see how Christians are portayed by the media – Christians are never seen as amazing or cool. Here the atheist sees that life without God is good – and life with God is boring and miserable.

Interestingly, the Christian receives the same message. A message that warns that if they continue with his ‘delusion’ they will be unpopular and unwanted –  they will be laughed at, ridiculed and despised. But despite receiving this message, despite realising that they will no doubt suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ, they hang on because they have tested the truth!  It does not seem like a classic case of brainwashing to me. I wonder if its the atheist who is brainwashed then? What does the evidence suggest to you?

Zero Tolerance

zeroOkay, so here’s another thing that I can’t understand. Why is it that in this day and age of ‘tolerance’ we simply do not understand the word tolerance?

To tolerate something means to put up with it even when you do not agree with it. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as:

allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.

As a Christian I have been accused of being intolerant because I believe sex before marriage is wrong, believe that homosexuality is wrong, believe that there is only one way to Heaven and that all religions do not lead to God etc etc…and yet, I have friends who live together, have friends who are homosexuals, have friends of different faiths…I am willing to tolerate what they do even though I do not agree with them. I am still able give them space to continue in what they do, even though I do not believe it is okay. I am still able to remain on speaking terms with these people and respect their life choices.

Yet look what happened today…

I belong to a facebook discussion group where a group of CODA’s (children of deaf adults) get together to discuss – well, to discuss life as CODA’s . As you can imagine we have lots of things in common and can laugh and cry together over things that people outside of our group and life experience may not be able to understand. We were all getting along nicely until a guy published a (very) short video clip about his work as an interpreter in a church and woaaaaahhhhhhhhh … suddenly the group are all claws, their fur is standing on end, they have arched backs and they’re walking sideways!

A light had been suddenly switched on and everyone was running for cover! There was such an outcry. People were saying the clip was ‘inappropriate’, that it was ‘preachy’ and just ‘too much’. The offending poster was told that this ‘wasn’t the place’ and then someone added that his work had nothing to do with us being a CODA. Well for him, and for me (as it happens), it had everything to do with being a CODA. He was raised as a child of deaf parents and he is now using his sign language skills in church as an interpreter to make church accessible for deaf people. The same is true of me.

There were plenty of CODA’s in the group who had become interpreters in schools, hospitals, courts etc – and this was all fine. There were plenty of CODA’s who published short video clips of jokes or songs that they had signed…this too was okay. One guy spoke about getting interpreters in for his civil partnership ceremony and no one blinked an eye, but to discuss your work in a church was 100% NOT okay. Someone said, ‘lets leave politics and religion out of this – it only causes arguments.’ I was amazed. During my time in the group we had discussed whether or not Obama was a good president, we discussed the current American elections, the riots in London England, we had discussed the way society (government in particular) doesn’t understand deafness…there had been plenty of politics! Whilst I did not agree with everyone on every topic I was willing to listen to other opinions and be polite where I disagreed, it was all very grown up – but when the name of Christ was raised the reaction was not one of tolerance. It was ZERO TOLERANCE.

These people think they are tolerant because they ‘tolerate’ sex outside of marriage, they ‘tolerate’ homosexual sex, they ‘tolerate’ swearing and getting drunk etc – BUT THIS IS NOT TOLERANCE – what they really say is ‘I find nothing wrong with it so its okay by me.’ You only need tolerance when you DO NOT AGREE with something.  The first time these people come into contact with something they do not agree with – in this case Christianity, or talk of Jesus Christ, we find out exactly how tolerant they are!

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I do not wish to be INTOLERANT – I may not agree with you over certain issues, but I should do this with kindness and gentleness.

To tolerate something is not to agree with it. To tolerate means to love or respect someone even if you don’t agree with them.

So whilst I am practicing tolerance – but being called ‘intolerant’ – I am being attacked/shut down/silenced by those who claim to be tolerant.

I thought I’d test my theory…I posted a bible verse to the CODA group. My verse came at the end of a long list of comments on the site where people aired their views about the inappropriate Christian who had ‘spammed’ their wall with his offensive video. I wrote: Ephesians 4 : 2 we should live ‘with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love’ 

They deleted me from the group.


© Bookworm 20th September 2012

Getting off on the Wrong Foot

They think up strategies to keep the lead on their roofs and the lead in their hearts!

Kim Sandy


Sometimes I wonder why it takes ‘experts’ so long to see the nose on the end of their faces. I don’t wish to be rude but this week I have heard that a study has discovered that children who are happy at home do better at school. Well that stands to reason doesn’t it? Come on people.

Now the news tells us that the riots in England during 2011 are actually our fault…there are 500,000 ‘forgotten families’ out there.[1]

Issues such a poor parenting, difficulties with reading and writing, unemployment, and what to do with young offenders were all named as elements of the ‘complex causes’ for the rebellion and hopelessness we saw on our streets last year.

I then hear Christians nobly wanting to take up some of the blame – it’s our fault for not impacting our communities. The solution? They want us to offer more to the less educated and poorer families. Let’s give them education, lets give them debt advice, literacy classes, job interview skills and help with their CV’s…

Please don’t get me wrong – my heart aches for the desperately miserable and futile lives that some people have but what we really have to ask ourselves is do they care?  This week I read an article about a man who sawed off his own foot because he didn’t want to go to work![2] Rather extreme? You haven’t heard the full story yet! He then takes his foot and cooks it in the oven just in case anyone tries to sew it back on again. When the medical team reach him they rush for the foot and find it too burnt to do anything with.

Now, who’s fault was that?

Christian’s have got to realise that no amount of job club help will change the heart of this man. No amount of counselling can turn a bad parent into a good parent. No amount of ‘hand holding’ can stop an ex-offender from returning to his or her old ways. So what do we do?

Well it seems that Christians (in general) do two things:

  1.  They do nothing. They retreat into their churches and moan about the state of the world and how wicked it has become. They think up strategies to keep the lead on their roofs and the lead in their hearts! They ‘preach the gospel’ in the good old fashioned style that they were brought up with. Thee’s and Thou’s and then they worry about the wrong sort coming into their church (Personally I don’t think they have much to worry about!). While we were on holiday we attended a church in the UK only to find all the doors locked – despite the fact that the notice board announced a 10.30am service every Sunday. We left, but my husband returned again that evening at 6.30pm for the evening service. The same thing happened but this time as he tugged away at the door handle the door opened and a gentleman asked him what he wanted. After a short discussion the man at the door allowed my husband (a pastor!) to come in saying, ‘we have to be careful, you can’t be too sure who you’re letting in these days.’ THAT my friends should make you weep.


  • But we’re not all like that. Some of us are so desperate to shrug off the stuffy middle-class respectable Christianity that is so off-putting that we go the other way entirely. They did ‘services’ and ‘bible rallies’ – we do ‘projects’ and ‘community action.’ Reading classes, parenting classes, counselling, housing, homelessness….we have a finger in every pie and we feel soooo  much better for it.

Do you know what, its not about us feeling good! It’s about us feeling UNCOMFORTABLE. This world is not our home – why do we expect it to be such a polite and nice society when it has rejected God and rejected the only real Hope it has? Should this world be better off because we’re here being salt and light? Sprinkling our fairy dust over everything we touch? Making everything better?

Doesn’t  your heart bleed for the mess we are in?

THINK ABOUT THIS. If a woman rejects Christ what will she teach her children? If those children grow up with no regard for their creator or for their souls then what will that do to their characters? What will become of their moral values? If those children grow up to have children of their own then what will they teach their children?

Do you not understand that … “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3 : 1 – 5).

I’m not saying do not help them – its obvious they need help – but how do you help them?

I recently heard of two Christian brothers who took clothes to the very poor and needy of society. This was meant to be a gift of great love and compassion – instead it turned into a brawl where the men themselves were pushed aside as people ‘helped themselves’ to the clothes. (Lovers of themselves…ungrateful…without self control).

I recently heard of a church who set up a centre to help the homeless in our society but was ripped off so many times that they have been forced to stop giving out money or gifts. The help that they now offer (non-financial) is scorned and rejected ( brutal, proud, without love slanderous).

A young drug addict asks a pastor to borrow £20 so that he can get to his job interview and when the pastor refuses he is abusive. When another young man asks to borrow £20 to go to a job interview the Pastor gives him the money and the young man spends the next six months avoiding him so that he doesn’t have to pay the money back…

A woman stands outside the church complaining that she has no food to feed her kids. She asks for money but the church take five bags of shopping to her house. She is disappointed. There are no children in the house – they have apparently been removed by social services – but she’ll keep the food anyway and come to church next week. She is never seen again.

You see – there are lots of projects and groups set up by society to provide social action. What makes Christians think they can do it better than anyone else?  It’s not really ‘help’ that most people need. In fact if you give them ‘help’ they get annoyed…unless it’s help getting a flat (can you pay the first months rent?) or in keeping a flat (can you pay the arrears?) or in getting a car (can you find me a brilliant car for next to nothing….and erm, could you pay for it to?) or in entertaining their kids (I love this bible club, can’t you run it every day for the whole of the summer holidays) they will take all that you give provided you don’t give them Christ (how dare you shove your religion down my daughter’s throat. She’s praying and talking about Jesus now – you’ve got a cheek!). They are happy for you to help with their children’s education, (You’re a maths teacher aren’t you – can you help my son pass his 11+?) and they would be so grateful if you would ‘bend the rules’ and help them with their children’s education (I know I haven’t been coming to church that regularly  but I promise to come from now on, can you sign my daughter’s form so she can go to that nice church school around the corner?)

As a Pastor’s wife I have been used and abused too many times and kicked myself for falling for yet another con. I’ve been caught out more times than I can tell you. My heart wants to help, but I have come to realize that people are like slot machines….they promise you a big jackpot, but all you end up doing is feeding the machine and losing all your money!

So what do we do?


Jesus looked at Jerusalem and wept. He didn’t set up a project…well no, actually he did in a way….’Go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and the Holy Spirit.’ This is what our society needs! They need the Saviour!

Do you not understand that if a man finds Christ he finds purpose?

Do you not understand that if a woman finds Christ she becomes a new creation?

Do you not understand that it is Christ who changes the heart and mind of a person?

Do you not understand that the Holy Spirit convicts and changes people so that they turn their backs on their old ways and embrace the values of Jesus?

I say this with conviction because I come from a family that was radically changed by Jesus Christ. My parents found Jesus when I was 3 years old. My parents are both deaf and left school with a certificate in cake decorating and a certificate in woodwork. My father used to sit me on his knee and tell me bible stories from a big green book. He made them exciting and wonderful. Whenever he learned a new story from the bible he would tell it to me. I can remember sitting down one day at about 5 years of age when my dad decided we should start thanking God for our food. That Christmas my mother packed up all my old toys and we gave them to a charity raising money for children in Africa who had no food. Christ changed our thinking and our attitudes. When we went on holiday Dad said we had to leave our caravan spotlessly clean when we left – so that people would see that Christians are thoughtful people. When I accidentally came home with a packet of crisps that I hadn’t been charged for, Dad walked back to the shop with me so that we could tell the shop-keeper and pay for them. When I grew up and had my own son he one day came home from Tesco on the day that they introduced scary self-service tills. Keen to have a go he scanned all his items and came home – without paying. He had forgotten that bit! When he went to give us the change he realized he still had the £20 that we had given him so we went back to the store to pay. The manager said ‘are you mad? You could have gotten away with that….but erm….well done for your honesty.’ That manager had a job, he clearly had intelligence and had done well to become a manager but his values were not Christ’s values. Scratch the surface of every ‘decent’ person and you’ll find you don’t have to go very deep before you find a deceitful rebellious heart.

CHRIST can change a society – if you want proof of that you only have to look at what happened in the Welsh revivals….pubs closed down, crime went down, churches were fit to burst…

Please Christians – don’t try to patch up society – however well-meaning you may be. It’s like putting a plaster on the stump where the guy just cut his foot off! People need Christ. Love them by all means – but love them enough to tell them about the Saviour.

Do you mind if people rush out of your church at the end of the morning service so they can have a quick smoke? Do you go out of your way to welcome the ex-offender who has found Christ in prison. Will you welcome him into your fellowship without telling everyone to watch their handbag? What about that nice young couple who tell you so cheerfully that today is the anniversary of the first day that they moved in together? That 18 year old pregnant girl – do we really want our teens mixing with her? What will you do with that young man who tells you he couldn’t get to church last Sunday because he stayed up too late sniffing cocaine and was in not fit state that morning?

LET THEM IN….You CAN be sure of who you let in these days, they will be broken, damaged, people who have lived lives without Christ. Do not expect them to be squeaky clean and respectable… When they tell you things about themselves that would make your grandmother’s hair curl, understand that this is what a life without Christ looks like. Your challenge my friend, and your ultimate privalege will be to see what a life transformed by Christ looks like. Have you seen it happen yet?


Bookworm 28th March 2012


[1] BBC news, 27th March 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17525873

[2] Sky News, 26th March 2012, http://news.sky.com/home/strange-news/article/16196733




 Gordon Hodgson 5th July 2013 15:35

I appreciate your posts. Since your husband is a pastor, he may already be familiar with North Point Community Church here in the States and its pastor, Andy Stanley. After reading this post, I think you might be interested in watching Andy’s series “Christian: It’s Not What You Think” at http://www.northpoint.org/messages/christian.


Kim Sandy 6th July 2013 08:44

Thank you very much, Gordon. We are looking forward to watching that series. Thanks for the link 🙂