29 Sep 2007

Biblical texts to support a political party's family policy

In his speech to the 2007 Labour conference this week Gordon Brown quoted scripture – “suffer little children to come unto me” [Mat 19 13-15, Mk 10 13-16, & Luk 18 15-17] – in support of Labour’s inclusive policy of all family structures. By implication he was criticising the – as yet to be defined - pro-marriage policy of the Conservatives and its supposed exclusivity.

In the immediately preceding verses of both Matthew’s gospel and Mark’s, Jesus quotes from the book of Genesis, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, they twain shall be one flesh” [Gen 2 24].

In John’s gospel [John 4 1-42] Jesus says to the woman of Samaria, “Go call thy husband and come hither.” The woman answered him and said, “I have no husband”. Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, I have no husband, for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband”.

Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’, but I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” [Mat 5 27-28].

At the end of the story of the woman caught in adultery [John 8 1-11] whom he saved from being stoned to death, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more”.

Forgiving the sinner is not to condone the sin. By no stretch of the imagination can the policy of Jesus towards marriage and the family be described as one that is tolerant of promiscuity.

In line with the foolish virgins in the parable [Mat 25 1-18], Gordon Brown and his colleagues are exhorting their followers to make no preparation for marriage.

There will be free condoms, the NHS to conduct abortions – more readily available than maternity services - and the welfare state to bale the promiscuous out of any hole into which they dig themselves, and larger benefits for unmarried than married couples.

While the foolish virgins went off to buy oil for their lamps “the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut”.

The wise virgins of the parable couldn’t give the foolish virgins some of their oil for the lamps because it was spiritual capital and cannot be transferred, it must be acquired. Labour’s mistake is in imagining that any wrong can be righted by taking value from one party and giving it to another. But the things of greatest value cannot be gifted away.

By distorting scripture Labour is promoting a society which is unprepared for the realities of life.

Will the Conservatives be able to get their theology right?

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