The Christian faith requires us to look with realism at the state of the world and with hope to the promises of God. Both are necessary. The Western world gives every indication of being in an advanced state of decay. On 24 June 2022 the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the 1973 Roe versus Wade decision which somehow had found a right to abortion in the American constitution. All this did was to send the issue back to the fifty states to decide, as a legislative rather than a judicial issue.

            Nevertheless, it set off a number of pro-abortion protests in other parts of the world, including Australia. At one such protest in Melbourne, a Channel 9 news reporter was handed a sign that read: ‘Mary (the virgin) should have  had an abortion.’ The reporter was hardly offended, and in fact put a photograph of it on Twitter. After something of a backlash, Channel 9 issued a reassuring statement that the reporter had not meant to cause any offence. Predictably, another phoney apology followed, this time by the reporter herself who declared: ‘I always strive to remain impartial and respectful to either side of rational debate’.

            Attracting more publicity was the Manly rugby league team’s role in a self-imposed ‘pride round’ in late July. Seven players refused to wear a jersey which supposedly promoted inclusiveness but which actually was a part of the all-encompassing drive for homosexual affirmation. Manly’s owner, Scott Penn, assured all and sundry that the seven players were only aggrieved because they had not been consulted, and that in 2023 they would take part in a pride round. Hugh Jackman added his Hollywood endorsement to the rainbow cause. But the Manly Seven are reportedly furious that it has been assumed that they will back down over the issue next year. League boss, Peter V’landys, has seen a victory for freedom and is thankful that ‘we don’t live in Russia’. Support for this corporate crusade has come from Cronulla prop, Toby Rudolf, who does not mind who is his sexual partner: ‘I’m not a one-stop shop. Love is love, and I love to share it with everyone. You could say I’m open to both genders but only attracted to one of them.’ The one blot on his progressive CV would be his statement that there are only two genders.

These two episodes illustrate what Scripture means when it says that consciences are seared (1 Tim.4:2). The Christian faith is not met just with indifference and misunderstanding. Our culture has increasingly become anti-life, and with no coherent boundaries regarding sexual morality. Freedom has been replaced by coercion, and repentance by false apologies directed, at best, at someone’s hurt feelings. It is deeply anti-Christian. Apart from some hand-wringing, what is the Christian response? One can mount political campaigns – and all power to those who do so – but it seems beyond us. Dr  Johnson  has  cautioned  us:

            How small, of all that human hearts endure,

            That part which laws or kings can cause or cure!

We are to do what we can as opportunities present themselves, but we ought to recognise the limits of social agitation, and not put our trust in princes.

            It is conventional for Christians to speak of the need for prayer, but remember that the Pharisee in the temple prayed (Luke 18:9-14). There is a kind of praying that God does not listen to. It was the helpless prayer of the tax collector that God heard, and sent the man home as a sinner who was justified in His sight. The pattern in the Lord’s Prayer is to praise God for who He is, and then beg that He would ‘give, forgive, and deliver’. The appalling state that we are in might have something to do with the so-called ‘long march through the institutions’. It would indeed be easier if there was a conspiratorial band that we could expose and then lock up. More credible is the fact that the weakness of the Christian message – especially in the churches – has left a vacuum which has been filled by a fashionable way of thinking.

When we are weak, then we are strong. When we do not know what to pray, then the Holy Spirit works. When we recognise the hard truth that apart from Jesus, we can do nothing, then He works through us. Surely it has come to this.

With warm regards in Christ,

  • Peter Barnes, Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia