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.

An open letter to Judge Rackemann

Dear Judge Rackemann

I refer to a case you presided on recently in Ipswich. In this particular case, a ‘father’ (I use this term loosely – this man surely does not deserve that title) had raped his nine year old daughter on a continual basis. These despicable acts are beyond any doubt because the man filmed the acts for the purpose of producing child exploitation material. The report in the newspaper quoted you as saying that the sentence may have been harsher had violence been involved.

Judge, I understand that you will have presided over a lot of awful cases in your work, and the Australian community appreciates the work of our judicial system. But perhaps the continual exposure to cases such as this has de-sensitized you to some degree? Or perhaps the explanation is that it is ‘legal speak’, but whatever the reason, I felt impelled to tell you how deeply offensive and indeed, horrifying it was to read the implication that there could be any possible disassociation of rape and violence.

I believe I speak for millions of Australians when I say that all rape is violent. Any child being used in a pornographic way is violent.

In fact, many sexual abuse victims turn to self-harm (violence against themselves) in order to physically feel the pain that they are experiencing inside.

The extremely dangerous message that the reporting of your words gave, however it was intended, potentially sends the message that there are times when rape is not violent.

Rape is always violating the victim. Non-violent rape is a myth.

Yours sincerely

Wendy Francis
Brisbane

 

Dear reader, the perpetrator in this case has been given 7 years jail, but is expected to be released in 2.5 years. This is despite the psychologist assessing him as having a moderate risk of reoffending. And we have subsequently established that his young daughter was 7 years old at the time of the offence. I have read the judgement on this case and the details are unspeakable.

My comment on today’s budget

Acts 20-35

Along with many other Australians, I am disappointed that our Government has recently cut 1 billion dollars in aid from our Budget and today’s budget will not make that up. But I can’t help but believe also that the answer to this moral and ethical dilemma is in our own hands.

There are 12 million working Australians. The average weekly earnings is $1,500 prior to tax. Around the world there are many aid agencies who feed and educate the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. If each wage earning Australian, when planning their own budget, channelled 1% more of their earnings more than they already donate to one of these organisations, we as Australians would contribute a staggering sum of over 9 billion dollars in aid.

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35

We are a wealthy country. In fact, Australia’s median wealth (the wealth of the middle wealthiest person in Australia) is the highest in the world, at $258,000.

If you don’t personally relate to that dollar sum, consider these salient facts –

  • If you have $4,622, including the value of your home and assets, you’re among the wealthiest half of the people in the world.
  • To be in membership of the top 10% of wealthiest people in the world, the requirement is $97,509.

A quick way to estimate where you sit in the world wealth stakes is this calculator – https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/get-involved/how-rich-am-i

But our wealth has not made us the world’s happiest place. The latest United Nations World Happiness Report ranked Australia 10th in the happiness stakes.

Perhaps giving more to those in need would make us happier? It’s a thought!

Don’t neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

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.

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

Do you understand Australia’s Preferential Voting system? I do.

You’re about to exercise your free and democratic right to vote – something that millions around the world can only dream about. So it’s an important privilege that’s worth understanding. Let me explain quickly!

If you are not completely sure, you are in good company. Me? I’m a bit of a political junkie. I get excited about my democratic right to vote and I use the preferential voting system to make sure that my voice is heard. Bear with me! It might be politics, but it’s fun to understand things like this – honestly!

In the federal election on September 7 the voting system is compulsory preferential, which means you have to preference every candidate on the House of Representatives green voting slip. The winning candidate needs to secure either an absolute majority (50% + 1) of the first preference vote to win, or alternatively an absolute majority after the distribution of preferences.

At 6pm the polling booths close and the voting boxes are opened. Counting starts immediately. Every valid green voting slip is put into piles and counted, sorted by the number 1 preference. So, if there are 6 candidates, there will be 6 piles. Informal votes are set aside and not counted. If you don’t number every square your vote will be informal.

Your first preference (your number 1 vote) determines which pile your voting slip will be put into. And that candidate benefits from your vote. But that’s not all. If your number one preferred candidate does not have enough first preference votes to win, they are eliminated and your voting slip is then moved to your number two preferred candidate. The entire vote. And this process keeps going until your vote sits with the candidate who is not eliminated. This is particularly important to benefit minor parties. Many Australians think that if you vote for a minor party who have very little chance of winning, it is a wasted vote. But I hope you can see from what I’ve just explained that this is not the case. If you vote for a minor party and they do not win, your entire vote moves to your next preference. And so on. But the great thing for minor parties is that candidates who receive at least 4% of No. 1 votes receive government funding for their party which in turn gives them a voice post election.

Party politics are unforgiving

I do not know Geoff Lake. So this thought comes without any bias, either personal or political. Until recently, Mr Lake was the ALP candidate for Hotham in Melbourne. But his aspirations have been cut short because of a mistake he made over 10 years ago. When he was 22, yes – 22, he verbally abused a fellow councillor in awful language. I do not condone his behaviour; it was awful. But I don’t see any consistency in this decision. If unwise and cruel words spoken at the age of 22 are sufficient reason for termination of his candidacy, which one of us could dare to stand for office? Yes, we do want men and women of integrity as our politicians. And we want high standards. But Geoff, still a young man in his 30’s, apologised a decade ago and has done so again recently.
Forgive and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37