Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tebbit's theology is not tepid

I lived in Britain 1990-93, through the end of the reign of the Iron Lady and the beginning of the much underestimated John Major's premiership. A colourful figure in the Toryarchy was Norman Tebbit. Still alive, his thinking is razor sharp, and as provocative as ever. Writing in the Mail he tackles the confusion in the mind of Archbishop Rowan. You can read the whole here, and some excerpts below - excerpts which I suggest bear some very very careful reflection:

"The Archbishop might reflect that over the thousands of years since the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus set out the code of ethics on which Christianity was founded, our Western society has been built on the basic, but vital, institution of family.

Not just any old group of people shacked up together for a while, but the exclusive partnership of one man and one woman bearing and bringing up children. That way, the traditions, rules and customs of society have been passed from one generation to the next and children have been cared for in a safe, nurturing and responsible environment.

The Christian West is not alone in following this format. Every lasting civilisation has done so and, for that matter, so have most of the birds and mammals around us. It is, in short, a formula that works.

So why meddle with it? In recent years, the family formula has begun to disintegrate - and with disastrous results. The downgrading of marriage and the shattering of the family unit that has inevitably followed the granting of equivalent status to other forms of partnership are already having an effect on the levels of crime, unhappiness and deprivation among children. And the damage they suffer will be passed on to the next generation.

We know that however well many single parents - and most are dedicated and loving mothers and fathers - bring up their children, youngsters from stable, conventional families are more likely to do well at school, well at work and to stay out of trouble with crime, drink and drugs than those from so-called broken homes.

For this reason, it is deeply sad that the Archbishop of Canterbury has given comfort to the liberal permissives who have long been attacking and undermining not just the institution of marriage but the very idea that children should be brought up in traditional families, with a father and a mother.

Surely a man with the talents, and huge responsibilities, of Dr Williams should see that in his confused attitudes to homosexuality he is being dragged along on the insidious coat tails of the 'anything goes' moral relativists.


So who is left? Watch out for the challenge from the mosques. An Islam with a modern face will soon begin to present itself as the natural home for those who long for moral certainty and a new sense of discipline within society. The calls for a caliphate, a religious state based on Sharia Law, will be toned down, the firebrand preachers will be done away with by the moderates, and there will be talk of the founding of a secular Muslim state, as in Turkey.


The task for the imams will be to exploit the fatal weakness of the multicultural society and replace a Christian church that has lost its sense of history and direction with a Mosque that has a strong, ingrained sense of both."

Liberalism expresses something important in Christian theology: a need for mercy, compassion, and tolerance. But a whole society built on liberal ideologies lives in a moral vacuum, for mercy, compassion and tolerance presume legal and moral standards from which mercy etc flows. Into a moral vacuum morality will slide, then flood back in. Victorian Britain was a reaction to the profligacy of 18th century Britain. In large sections of Europe and Britain, Islam is poised to provide the morality of the late 21st and early 22nd centuries and - if the history of Islam is anything to go by - every century subsequently. Much as I admire Archbishop Rowan, and understand the See of Canterbury to be foundational to Anglican identity, I would wish him to be decisively for family and marriage, and against tolerance of sharia.

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