(Former Director of Public Health for Croydon Health Authority)
We live in a time when the Biblical understanding of marriage has been greatly undermined in both the Church and society. The promotion of same-sex marriage, which is attempting to re-define the meaning of marriage, is surely a symptom of our times. The Christian marriage education movement, which teaches psychological skills and techniques to help couples achieve marital happiness, has been eagerly embraced by many churches. As a consequence, many Christians are no longer sure what the Bible teaches about marriage. In my address, I aim to do two things. First to identify the influences and ideas that are undermining marriage in the eyes of society, and second, to show that the teaching of Scripture contains all that is needed for a blessed and fruitful marriage.
The ‘Marriage’ Word
We need to recognise that the word ‘marriage’ is now deeply contentious, for there is no longer a consensus on the meaning of the word. For over a thousand years the Biblical definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, who become husband and wife, has been widely accepted, but society has now changed the way it thinks about marriage. In the 1990s, the Oxford Dictionary defined marriage as ‘the legal union of a man and a woman in order to live together and often to have children’, omitting reference to husband and wife. This change has come about because of an intense ideological assault on the Biblical view of marriage, and because of reluctance on the part of many churches to teach about marriage. The void created by this reluctance has been eagerly filled by the so-called Christian marriage education movement.
Christmas is a season which almost all Christians observe in one way or another. Some keep it as a religious season. Some keep it as a holiday. But all over the world, wherever there are Christians, in one way or another Christmas is kept.
Perhaps there is no country in which Christmas is so much observed as it is in England. Christmas holidays, Christmas parties, Christmas family-gatherings, Christmas services in churches, Christmas hymns and carols, Christmas holly and mistletoe,—who has not heard of these things? They are as familiar to English people as anything in their lives. They are among the first things we remember when we were children. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were used to them long before we were born. They have been going on in England for many hundred years. They seem likely to go on as long as the world stands.
A well-attended Annual Meeting was held at Slip End Village Hall, near Luton, on 4th October.
David Crowter, the Chairman, welcomed those present and then Mr. A. Chapman read the Scriptures from Exodus, chapter 32 and Marcus Brockes, Treasurer, followed in prayer.
The meeting then heard from Mr. Ian Henderson, Vice-Chairman, who told the meeting that CW had been founded by Bible-believing Protestants who were committed to the same beliefs and ideals as ‘the great Protestant Reformers’. He spoke with sadness of how many formerly Protestant Churches and whole denominations had ‘turned their backs on the great truths of the Scriptural Gospel message’. In some towns, he said, there were simply no Protestant, Reformed Churches left to proclaim the Gospel message. In some places, CW had been able to help and put believers in touch with one another, leading to small groups of believers meeting in each other’s houses – because there was no suitable Church in their areas.
An Open Air Witness was held on a lovely warm sunny day in Portsmouth City Centre, when I teamed up with Jim, Malcolm and Rick who came from the local Grace Baptist Church. As soon as I put up the Christian Watch table, two young men began to speak to Rick about a tract on evolution. Rick spoke with them for quite a while about their need of Jesus, but they were not so pleased when Jim began preaching and telling people that they needed to repent.
Jim and Malcolm took it in turns to preach, and there were a lot of people sitting nearby listening. Malcolm was able to talk to a man selling balloons, dressed in bright colours, who was of French origin.
2 Corinthians 10:4,5 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
The Woolwich terrorist attack was of such a nature that words are insufficient to describe the monstrous barbaric murder. Lee Rigby, 25 and from Middleton, Greater Manchester who had been in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was run down by a car and then mercilessly killed and dragged into the streets. Islamic chants of Allah is Great were heard and of course the infamous video shows one of them making political statements. They wanted to be seen, they wanted to be heard. It is not my desire to investigate the religion of Islam upon this tragic happening. It needs only to be said that according to the Word of God it is a false religion and the basis for making that statement is that the Lord Jesus Christ is according to Islam not the Eternal Son of God and God’s salvation is not found through faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
We were able to set up the table in a prime position in the main thoroughfare in Commercial Street – the main shopping precinct in Portsmouth.
The fair weather saw multitudes of shoppers converging on the area and we were able to proclaim the Gospel loud and clear, with a megaphone, to the constant stream of people.
The exercise was a far cry from the previous open-air witnessing in Horsham – we were taken aback at how many people were prepared to listen.
Manning the stand was Steve Black, with local preachers Malcolm Hey and Jim Scoales alternating on the preaching.
We were pleasantly surprised at the number of youth with whom we were able to engage with this Saturday. Wonderfully, four Bibles were handed over to different individuals – as well as a number of tracts.
A short video of the open-air preaching in Portsmouth.
The parliamentary sub-committee, which is tasked with considering the detail prior to its passage through parliament, has invited submissions from those who believe that they have some relevant evidence to put forward, either for or against this Bill, by March 12th 2013.
However, there has been a well-intentioned, but sadly misguided, attempt by Christian believers to oppose this bill on the grounds of worldly reason alone. To explain: many have forgotten why they oppose such wickedness and have fallen into the trap of saying that such a homosexual lifestyle of a redefined marriage, is unnatural, destructive, medically, psychologically and socially and altogether undesirable.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”—James i. 2-4.
James calls the converted among the twelve tribes his brethren. Christianity has a great uniting power: it both discovers and creates relationships among the sons of men. It reminds us of the ties of nature, and binds us with the bonds of grace. Every one that is born of the Spirit of God is brother to every other that is born of the same Spirit. Well may we be called brethren, for we are redeemed by one blood; we are partakers of the same life; we feed upon the same heavenly food; we are united to the same living head; we seek the same ends; we love the same Father: we are heirs of the same promises; and we shall dwell for ever together in the same heaven. Wherefore, let brotherly love continue; let us love one another with a pure heart fervently, and manifest that love, not in word only, but in deed and in truth. Whatever brotherhood may be a sham, let the brotherhood of believers be the most real thing beneath the stars……..
Report on Open-Air Witnessing: Saturday, 11 May 2013
Steve Black placed the table with Christian literature at the top of Horsham’s West Street outside a vacant retail premises. The town centre was a hive of activity this Saturday morning with what appeared to be a Morris Dancing Convention.
Along with myself, we were accompanied by David Nickless from Littlehampton.
The outreach was intended as a campaign primarily to share the Gospel and secondly to alert people to the existence of Christian Watch and recruit additional members to the cause of returning to the “old paths.” (Jeremiah Chapter 6 verse 16).
Horsham has traditionally been hard ground for witnessing by Christian Watch over the last year or two. Relatively affluent, it’s residents seem to fall into one of two camps; hostile to the Gospel, or they believe that they are Christians – and attend one of the many “Emergent” Churches which represent mainstream Protestantism in the market town.
Steve Black and I have found that many poor souls are naively unaware of the Ecumenical Movement’s subtle, yet deliberate, moves towards a One World Religion.
The Christian Watch stand at this year’s CRE Exhibition at Sandown Park was larger than in 2012. It was on the ground floor in the Surrey Hall and in view of the main entrance to the exhibition Hall. On the first day, before the doors were opened as anticipated, there was much activity in finalizing the stands ready for presentation and in making last minute adjustments. Our stand was manned by Committee Members Marcus Brockes and David Lawson with help from Steve Black, Paul Horwood and Ian Gander. For those who are not aware, Michael Hobbis National Co-ordinator for Christian Watch could not lead the promotion this year as he was laid aside with illness.
The main purpose of our presence at such an exhibition was to promote our work for the Lord by explaining the aims and purposes of Christian Watch and to encourage people to make a stand with us by becoming active members. It is obvious at such an event as this, that there is much that goes under the banner of ‘Christian’ and ‘Christianity’ which cannot be justified anywhere in Scripture. We are thankful to those who stopped by to encourage us, especially those who noted the TBS Scripture posters which were placed around the walls of the interior partitions of our stand. We gave out much literature along with the Christian Watch booklet and application forms which were placed inside. We also had a visual promotion in the form of a screen slideshow presentation promoting the work of Christian Watch which looped continually throughout the week of the exhibition.