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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Belief, and behaviour.

Not for the first time, the BBC Today programme raises an interesting question. In this morning’s programme, there was a discussion in which Andrea Williams (Christian Legal Centre), and Dinah Rose (Barrister, specialising in Human Rights Law) took part – a discussion that centred around the right of Christians to act, in certain situations, in accord with their beliefs and conscience. The cases referred to were those of Gary McFarlane - sacked for refusing to give psychosexual counselling to homosexual couples; and Lillian Ladele - a registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships ceremonies, because they were against her Christian beliefs, and who has been told that she may no longer work as a registrar.

It was a comment by Dinah Rose, that “… there is a difference [there] between what people believe and the way that they behave.” that really got my attention. Because this is a statement that is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the Bible and, I would suggest, to our everyday experience of life!

The Letter of James is, arguably, the clearest teaching on the link between belief and behaviour. Indeed, one of the little commentaries on the text, that is on my bookshelves, is entitled Belief that Behaves (Guy H. King; 1941, Marshall, Morgan & Scott, London). In what we know as chapter 2 and verse 14 (although, of course, James didn’t write in chapters and verses any more than you or I would do!) he asks the question: “Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? My actions, or inactions, are always directly dictated by my beliefs. I don’t try to emulate the character Superman by attempting to stop a runaway train with my hand because I believe that I am physically incapable of doing so. I do provide some financial support for various Christian ministries and organisations because I believe that it is my duty, as a disciple of Jesus, to do so. The examples could keep me going for a very long time.

Of course, that is part of the problem with our contemporary culture, here in the U.K (and, it would seem, in other parts of the world as well!). Those who are most vociferous in their demands for “equality” get their way. Those who “For the Lord's sake, accept all authority – the king as head of state, and the officials he has appointed.” (I Peter 2:13-13) are taken advantage of at every turn.

This is, surely, another reason for believers, in this run-up to the U.K. General Election, to be praying that the Lord would use this opportunity in which so many members are not seeking re-election, to raise up an army of men and women who will genuinely aspire to the foundational “Seven Principles of Public Life: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, and Leadership.” (The Committee on Standards in Public Life), and turn this nation around, that we might walk “… in the paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake” (Ps.23:3).


Anonymous said...

Sorry its a bit long but I emailed Dinah Rose QC on other things she said.

To Dinah Rose QC, Blackstone Chambers,


I listened this morning to the debate between yourself and Ms. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre which concerned the case made by Lord Carey that some Senior Judges hearing cases of Christians accused of discrimination should step aside to allow others more knowledgeable of faith issues to hear the case. The specific example was the sex therapist refusing to advise gay couples.

You response to the arguments put by Andrea Williams were grossly unfair on the beliefs of Christians and you did this quite knowingly. First you mentioned the "Jewish Faith School Case" which planted the subliminal message about Jewish discrimination in the public mind when in fact the case is nothing of the sort. (it's about a school falling foul of ethnicity discrimination when attempting to apply permitted faith discrimination). Then you move the debate onto the bed and breakfast case (Susanne Wilkinson subsequently commented on by Chris Grayling) and then said ".....if your religion tells you not to accept black people or Jewish people into you bed and breakfast".

This was a totally misrepresentation of all the facts. The Christian religion is the very antithesis of such discrimination yet you knowingly planted that concept into your presentation by first mentioning the "Jewish case" and then throwing in the old chestnut "Blacks and Jews". This tactic has been used several times in the last week by people wishing to discriminate against Christians with a fallacious "thin end of the wedge" argument.

I trust soon the media will soon cotton on to this and publicly challenge the next person who trots this out for the rubbish it is.

Your argument about not pursuing a particular business if your faith does not allow you to abide by the law is itself in error. Lillian Ladelle, who you referred to, chose her profession long before the law was changed and all legal authorities who have heard the case have either ruled or commented on how grossly unfairly she has been treated.

Yours faithfully

Robert Goodhand

Brian Ross said...

Well done, Robert! If more of us were to take a stand such as you have done, we might see adifference in our country. You might find some other of my recent posts to be of interest.