After months of speculation and, at times, fairly heated debate, the detailed proposals for same-sex marriage in England & Wales have now arrived. The "Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill" was published by the Government on 25 January 2013, in a document running to some 50 pages. What does it say?
Should Christians be concerned with our 'image'? I've been told before that it's the Holy Spirit who does the 'work' of bringing people to Christ, not us.
Imagine if, this evening, the entire population of the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain and the rest of Europe were going to bed hungry. And not just tonight, but one week after another.
Yes, there are a variety of beliefs about marriage in society. Yes, there are people on all sides of the gay marriage debate. But should your beliefs about that issue result in you being pushed out of your job? Should your career be abruptly ended because you think marriage is only for men and women?
Very few today would welcome a return to the days when homosexuality was the 'disease' that dare not speak its name. In much of Britain today, same-sex relationships are fast-becoming a matter of shoulder-shrugging ordinariness. If secular society is moving away from discrimination on the basis of sexuality, it seems many Christians are also beginning a journey of their own in the same direction. If the Church of England insists on 'this far and no further', it might find itself cut adrift from the life of the nation, and from very many people of faith.
The difficulties and uncertainties felt by religious communities when their members form loving relationships across religious and cultural differences can weigh heavily on couples and families.
The decision on women bishops was criticised as sexist. Which it was. Previous Church rulings on homosexuality (particularly same-sex marriage) have been criticised as homophobic. Which they were. But, clearly, what the Church is really so worried about is that penises are designed and evolved, in part, for sex.
One ought always to be on one's guard about those who assert that to think in a certain way is to commit a sin. This is the immoral and bullying trick that religion plays. Couched in cosy rhetoric and increasingly vague threats is the assumption that, in dissenting, you are subjecting yourself to an eternity of howling pain and misery.
Rather than the finger being pointed at those of faith who believe in it enough to adhere to it in all aspects of life; we should put the advocates of secular fundamentalism on the spot as they not only believe in their idea, but forcibly impose it on everyone else.
Scientific research recognises there is something in play when faith changes consciousness from apprehension to expectancy. Studies have been increasingly noting the impact positive anticipation has on medical outcomes
I am two thirds of the way through a harrowing book, Savage Continent by Keith Lowe. I urge you all to read it over the next twelve months, but not until after Christmas. There is no need for you to upset yourselves until then.
If this Christmas "state of mind" helps free us from stress during the holiday season wouldn't we want to keep bringing out these same spiritual elements in our lives throughout the year?
I do think that Christmas can have significant meaning, including moral meaning, without religion, and though the carol service wasn't particularly stirring I will continue to look forward to each December with much enthusiasm.
Turning entirely normal people into mindless, zombie-esque happy creatures, the mystical Christmas spirit annually forces its way into our homes and hearts and helps us through the gloomy winter months. And then disaster strikes
Since Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines on December 4, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives, 850 are missing and almost a million are currently homeless.
Religious positions would be better served if their proponents addressed the actual criticisms, rather than taking a defensive stance against the imagined disdain of those who disagree. Like Robert Frost's drunken cow, they bellow on a knoll against the sky.