New book from Wendy Francis – Turn, Think, Tell

Some of my working life was at Griffith University. I managed a research centre where one of the research projects our academics undertook examined the impact that public art had, both positive and negative, on a person or a community’s sense of safety, of peace, of security and of world view. What we see affects us.

I’m so grateful that, as a child in Sunday School, I was taught a song that said – Oh be careful little eyes what you see – there’s a Father up above and He’s looking down in love, O be careful little eyes what you see. It taught me that I had a responsibility in what I let my eyes look at; and that God knew what I was looking at, even if no one else did. My considered choices have protected me over many years.

My husband and I have been married for 40 years. We have 3 married children and 10 grandchildren that I would willingly die for. As our children, and then our grandchildren grew up, I took every opportunity I could to teach them what to do when they were confronted with images or concepts that they knew were wrong; that they knew their parents would not approve of; that made them uncomfortable, even if they didn’t understand why. Because it’s no longer IF our children see inappropriate, often violent, and highly sexual imagery. It’s WHEN.

I’m so pleased to present to you my book – Turn, Think, Tell, with its beautiful illustrations by Joy Weatherall. It’s written for 4-8 year olds but I believe its message and simple guideline to follow is something we can all benefit from.

Access my shop from the menu bar on this page. And thank you!

My response to Ireland’s referendum

My sincere prayer is that Australians will look again at the institution we call marriage and think carefully about what it means. When something you care about is challenged, you value it much more. So what will it be for us here in this country? Either we will decide marriage is not worth keeping OR, we will realise that it is invaluable and we will fight to keep it. Those advocating to change the definition of marriage are not seeking to join the institution, rather they are seeking to change what the institution is. Marriage is being cast aside at whim, and children are the victims. I believe to say “it’s inevitable” is lazy thinking, and that to be told, “we are on the wrong side of history” is arrogant, especially when, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognised marriage between two people of the same sex. In changing the definition of marriage to delink the concept of binding children with their biological mother and father, we leave children feeling betrayed by a society that no longer has any loyalty to the family unit.

Human rights for babies, not chimps

From time to time, watching ABC’s Q&A creates within me an overwhelming desire to throw something at my TV. If the closest thing to hand is a cushion that’s fine, but when it’s my cup of tea, it has unfortunate consequences. As do some of the dangerous things said on Q&A, or, as in the case of last night’s program, the dangerous people presented there as having a right to speak into our lives. Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer was a guest on last night’s program. A philosopher is, by definition, a person who seeks wisdom or enlightenment.

Last night,  (Monday 4th May 2015) he was pleased to let us know of the current case in the USA seeking to have a pair of chimpanzees be recognised as people by the courts. In Mr Singer’s mind, this could help “narrow the gulf” between humans and animals. In case you were wondering, he added that the chimpanzees would not be required to be witnesses in the court for the hearing.

Unfortunately, this man is presented to the Australian public as an ethicist, and one of our serious thinkers who we should listen to and learn from.

In the wake of the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Peter Singer was asked last night about his thoughts on the death penalty. He said he opposed the death penalty. I do too. But Mr Singer also believes, and promotes, the concept of selective infanticide.

If you are like me, you wonder to yourself, how does one oppose the death penalty and yet approve the right of a person in authority to decide whether a child should live or die? Well, Mr Singer has decided that a newborn baby should not be considered a person until 30 days after birth. In his words – “Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee”.

And because of this, he promotes the belief that any attending physician should have the right to kill disabled babies on the spot. Singer also suggests a postbirth assessment period of a week or perhaps a month (he isn’t sure which), during which parents, in consultation with their physician, may legally kill their disabled offspring if doing so would increase the total happiness of all interested parties. In short, he believes that we should allow infanticide if it will make room for a healthy, happier child.

Sounds like the death penalty to me. But the crime is not one against society. It is the crime of being born different than what was ordered, or desired.

I oppose the death penalty. For all.

Choose life, that it may be well with you—you and your children. Deuteronomy 30:19

First published on http://www.acl.org.au/2015/05/human-rights-for-babies-not-chimps

Norrie is loved and valued.

Norrie is loved and valued. That’s my message to Norrie, who has won the right to be registered as neither a man nor a woman in the High Court.

But this is a decision with far-reaching implications across Australia and what I want to ask the high court is what it actually means? And where does it end? This is an artificial category that we have created to satisfy people’s preference. It’s not a category based on reality, but rather it is based on a person’s preference. This case came about because Norrie was born a male but decided to have a sex change to become female, but now doesn’t wish to identify as either. As reported, the court’s ruling only applies to someone, like Norrie, who had sex reassignment surgery to become a woman, and now has decided they wish to be non-specific.

Norrie’s lawyers argued that forcing Norrie to choose male or female was to maintain a fiction. To put in law that Norrie is gender neutral is what is maintaining a fiction.

As I write I can’t even shift in my comment to refer to ‘he’ or ‘she’. There is no gender neutral pronoun in English to refer to a person apart from the usually plural ‘they’. Online suggestions include ‘it’, which I refuse to use as it implies that Norrie is not human. Norrie IS human – made in the image of God and loved by God and loved by humanity. But Norrie is very confused. And the High Court has cemented that confusion. Not only for Norrie, but for our society as a whole. We are sowing seeds of great confusion for our future generations.

Already in 2013, the Qld Government has been legally challenged to provide separate toilet facilities for students who identify as transgender and gay. Schools are now assessed on a case by case basis to assess the need.

A person choosing to identify as having no gender at all is another category altogether.

Our culture has largely rejected God and what it means to be male and female in the image of God. But it will never succeed in obliterating gender differences between men and women. I pray that God will enable me to be a woman who bears his image for his glory.

God said to Noah, “Come”.

The Noah blockbuster has had a huge response and many commentators. I have put my thoughts down to simply join the conversation. It’s good that there is all of a sudden a peaked interest in the story of Noah. If there is to be any eternal mileage to be found in this movie it will be as God’s children grasp the opportunity to set the record straight about our Creator, God.
Googling around the story of Noah has jumped +1,100%. It appears there are two main phrases being searched. “Noah’s Ark” with the results being varied, but including christianity.about.com within the first ten referrals. And “Noah Prophet” had as its fourth referral the bible passage.
I digress, but it has always bemused me that the story of Noah is found in baby clothes, curtains, cute children’s books and wallpaper. When it really is a horrific tale of death and destruction. Animals are cute and mostly cuddly, right? And this is a story about lots of animals in a floating zoo – what’s there not to love? But this is not a story about animals. And this truth is lost in the blockbuster movie. For the movie character Noah, it was ALL about the animals.
But this misses the point and I believe it misrepresents God. And that is a serious thing to do. In the movie, Noah wasn’t sure what the ultimate aim of the Creator was and so he interpreted the flood as a means to annihilate the human race.
This was never God’s intention. The Ark was a picture of our ultimate salvation in the Lord Jesus. God was very clear with his purpose to Noah. ‘Then the LORD told Noah, “Come—you and all your household—into the ark, because I’ve seen that you alone are righteous in this generation”.’
The Bible tells us clearly that Noah’s family, eight people including his sons and wives, were saved and that they were to have children with this new start.
We misrepresent God to our peril. We who know the true God have a a very real opportunity to open the conversation about Noah and tell the true story of a gracious, kind and merciful God, who offered salvation to Noah in the past, and offers salvation to each one of us now.
Genesis 7:1
1 Peter 3:20

Dismissal of “Boobs” campaign complaints’ undermines women’s worth

Last month the Advertising Standards Board dismissed complaints from the public about Bond’s “Boobs” campaign. The ASB’s decision to dismiss all complaints regarding the campaign was unsurprising given that in the past year the self-regulated body has dismissed most complaints it’s received from the public. Of the 3,640 complaints made to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) the board looked at 473 and only 68 were found to have breached its Code of Ethics. There is an obvious difference of standards between the ASB and the community – the Advertising Standards Bureau is not in line with community expectations and one of many reasons why the ACL believes government should regulate outdoor advertising to make sure it’s G-Rated.

However, what was surprising though, was the title of their website report on the dismissal of all Bonds “Boobs” complaints, “Storm in a B cup”. The campaign should not have been labelled in such dismissive terms; the concerns regarding this advertising campaign were serious and worthy of respect. The advertiser, Bonds underwear, was certainly treated seriously. In fact, Bonds was quoted in this report as intending to change their name to “Boobs” during their campaign to demonstrate how seriously they take the product of bras.

This is not the first time Bonds has had to defend its product and marketing. In 2010, after public outcry, Bonds withdrew their range of bra-like products for girls from 6 years old. In this current case, the common complaint from women was to do with objectification; women are tired of marketers promoting them as body parts. The fact that Bonds then linked this campaign to breast cancer is poor taste. Breast cancer survivors are outraged. The last thing a woman who has just had a mastectomy needs is for billboards to be highlighting the body part they’ve just lost. Women are more than body parts. Marketers need to start seeing each woman in the context of being a whole unique person.

This blog post was first published at http://www.acl.org.au/2013/11/dismissal-of-boobs-campaign-complaints-undermines-womens-worth/

Every freedom has a form

In an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph this week www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/standing-up-to-the-politciallycorrect-bully-boys/story-fni0cwl5-1226757595694 author Ross Fitzgerald said that “freedom of speech has never been more threatened in Australia”.
He drew attention to the current Queensland government inquiry into sexualised outdoor advertising: “If you’re trying to get a message out in Queensland via outdoor advertising, don’t say anything even vaguely sexual. As a result of pressure from the Australian Christian Lobby, the Queensland government has ordered an enquiry into whether there is too much sex on advertising billboards. If our democratic system is to survive, the right to speak the unvarnished truth needs to be nurtured, even protected.

He is referring to my campaign to make outdoor advertising G Rated in Queensland and the current inquiry on this topic. Whilst I agree that freedom of speech is an important value in a democratic society, it is not an absolute right. It carries with it responsibility and boundaries. Children deserve to be protected from material in public that is likely to harm or disturb them. Freedom of speech should not override the freedom of the community not to be confronted by sexualised imagery or advertising that demeans others – mostly women.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA), The Australia Institute and even the Advertising Standards Board all agree that sexualised advertising is on the rise. The Australian Medical Association has identified that increasing numbers of children are focusing on an inappropriate sexualised concept of body image and that this impacts on their growth and physical functioning, including a reduced ability to think and learn. The AMA affirms that marketing and advertising contribute to this problem. The Australia Institute research found that this sexualisation contributes to an increased risk of sexualised and attention seeking behaviours at an earlier age. They conclude that “the sexualisation of Australian children in advertising and marketing is increasing and involves a wide range of risks to children”. It is clear that the welfare of children should take precedence over absolute freedom of speech in this context.
And if it’s the unvarnished truth that Ross Fitzgerald is after, then I would think he should join my campaign to remove the photo-shopped images of unrealistic women from our outdoor advertising.

we don’t have to work to the world’s agenda

The men of Issachar understood the times and knew what Israel should do. 1 Chronicles 12:32
What are our times? And what should we be doing?

There is much in this generation that aligns with the description in Philippians 2:15 of “a crooked and perverse generation”. What we once deemed only a short time ago as a society as immoral, we now celebrate. But in this generation, as in all previous generations, God’s children are called to shine as lights. This involves remaining IN the world, but standing out against darkness – that’s the calling and the purpose of light.
James 3:13 tells us to do good works, live humbly, and learn wisdom. And if that was it, living in Australia as a Christian would be a pretty good gig. But God has not called us to be merely spiritual philanthropists.
I believe that God expects us to engage with our culture, whilst remaining uncompromising with the truth.
The Apostle Paul devoted time and attention to studying the culture of the place where God had placed him – he formed a good understanding of the underlying world views which informed and shaped the culture of the Athenians. He engaged with the culture of the day as he spoke to the members of the Areopagus and as he used their pagan poets to explain to them the deep things of God.
But Paul’s message was always focused on the Gospel message:
• The identity of Jesus
• The reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
• The necessity of repentance and faith
…true Christianity starts from the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us that is objectively true…Neither did Paul compromise on truth. Because true Christianity starts from the premise that there is a source of truth outside of us that is objectively true, regardless of how anyone feels about it. And so Paul challenged sin and the rulers of the day. As a result, history tells us he was beheaded by Nero. Because his generation, like ours, was repelled by Paul’s claim of an absolute and exclusive Truth.
…tolerance is not about accepting everyone else’s beliefs, but rather being willing to listen to those beliefs…
Absolute truth is utterly distasteful to our postmodern world which wants to dictate their own truth, often arrived at through a ‘consensus’ with the voices they hear most often in the media. This translates to the followers of Christ who claim to know The Truth often being accused of being intolerant. But tolerance is not about accepting everyone else’s beliefs, but rather being willing to listen to those beliefs. And this is important, because Christ’s followers should be ready and willing to discuss their faith and accompanying beliefs, without compromising on the truth. And that truth is found in the person of Jesus who said, I am the way, the truth and the life.
So how did Jesus engage an oft time hostile culture with the truth? As with Paul, Jesus participated deeply in culture. He joined in feasts and wedding celebrations. He attended funerals. He involved himself in people’s lives – a woman mourning over the death of her son, a woman at a well, a woman lying in the dust after being caught in adultery. He fished. He engaged in culture to the extent that he was accused by his enemies of being a friend of sinners and a party-man! At the same time, Jesus who is truth personified, never compromised on truth for the sake of fitting into culture.
When a rich young ruler addressed Jesus as, “Good teacher”, Jesus clarified that only God was good, knowing that the full truth was vital for his eternal welfare. At that, the young man changed his greeting to “Teacher”, stopping short of acknowledging Jesus as God, making it possible for him to reject the instructions Jesus then shared with him. If you acknowledge someone as God, it’s not easy to ignore what they say!
Shortly after this meeting, Jesus headed to Jerusalem, welcomed by an adoring crowd as he arrived on a borrowed donkey. Once in Jerusalem, it was late in the afternoon and Jesus went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left, returning about 3 km to Bethany for the night with the twelve disciples.
…there is no kingdom without the cross…The next morning Jesus went back to Jerusalem, entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers, the chairs of the dove sellers and stopped the Temple being used as a marketplace. Jesus was angry but he was in control. He, the essence of Truth and integrity, stood in stark contrast to the priorities of the temple merchants who were more preoccupied by their commerce than in living out relationships in the way that God prescribed. This was not a rash reaction, but a considered deliberate action which would have dire consequences, not just for him but for all of his followers and for his adoring fans from the previous day. They had been ready and willing to follow him to his kingdom. But Jesus knew what they didn’t – there is no kingdom without the cross.
When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. The following day, as Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders approached him and demanded to know by what authority he was doing all these things and who had given him the right to. Jesus answered with a question, “I will tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question – did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” The religious leaders talked it over among themselves and ended up pragmatically saying they didn’t know. To which Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.””
Wisdom demands that we don’t have to work to the world’s agenda.
Paul and Jesus understood the times. They engaged enthusiastically in their culture. But they did not ever compromise on the truth.
Likewise, we must be faithful to guard the treasure of truth that has been entrusted to us. 2 Timothy 1:14
Taking care to “Speak the truth in love”. Ephesians 4:14-15
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13