Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Aside from going to heaven or hell, the next most important life issue is accommodation on earth

OK. Perhaps it is more important to eat than to sleep in comfort but housing is a big, big social issue. Not just here in NZ, but across the Ditch (where I see that despite a housing capital gains tax, the housing market is heating up and nowhere is hotter than Sydney, beloved city of my recent visit), in many other places.

My mates and colleagues, Jolyon, Lyndon, Kate, working out of their nerve centre here in Theology House, are doing fine work on a range of social justice issues. One of their finest contributions concerns housing and good oil on tenants' rights and landlords' obligations.

All their work is gathered up on one site, nicely name Paper Walls. Head there now!


Janice said...

Interesting article on social justice.

Janice said...

Or if you want to know what the typically conservative readership of Tim Blair's blog thinks of the Anglican Church and the focus on "social justice" issues you could read the comments to this post. I particularly like this one:
When Jesus walked the earth both the political leaders of the day and the hypocritical religious leaders in bed with the political leaders of the day set about crucifying him.

I see nothing has changed.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
While we in Australia have a housing capital gains tax (on investment properties only), there is also negative gearing - where people can write off as a tax deduction the surplus of interest payments over rental income. One of those classic cases of government policy pulling in opposite directions simultaneously!

Housing affordability is a big issue in Australian major cities, but govts don't want to release new housing beyond current city boundaries because infrastructure is already stretched.

Anonymous said...

Here's another view of Australia, what is going on (or not) in the mind of its post- or never-have-been-Christian population as the encounter Christopher Hitchens' brother Peter in debate with Germaine Greer and being shouted down by a foul mouthed, sex-obsessed gay activist called Dan Savage. Hitchens' last words are amazing and discombulating for these panellists:



Peter Carrell said...

Indeed, Martin!

Father Ron Smith said...

I think it might do all of us good to see the video that has so incensed Martin, and that he points to in his comments here.

What I found intriguing was the comment of Peter Hitchings, that he was both a revolutionary and an authoritarian - because he believed that all revolutionaries were basically authoritarian.

At the same time, he says that Christianity is 'Dead in the West'. He sounds very Gafconesque. Is what he is saying necessarily true? Or is he scare-mongering?

Anonymous said...

Ron, if you think I was 'incensed', you know nothing about me.
Nothing new there, then. Your judgments about people you have never met are invariably mistaken.
The bitter and angry life of Dan Savage made me sad, not "incensed", because I know he will answer to the Lord for all the anti-God hatred, lies and deceit he has spread.

What Peter Hitchens said was he *used to be*, like his brother, an authoritarian Marxist revolutionary - in his 20s - and had grown up since, not least through becoming a Christian.
FWIW, I have met and chatted with my fellow Anglican Peter Hitchens and I admire the way he is not afraid to go into the bearpits of the politically correct and spiritually dead - in campuses and TV studios - and tell them so.

Martin (not 'incensed' but rejoicing in God's love for this sinner and praying for those lost in the sexual desert of lust)

Anonymous said...

.... meanwhile, this *very large study by Prof Elisabeth Wells reported in the ODT makes interesting reading, corroborating what people like Jeffrey Satinover suggested years ago, as well as agreeing closely statistics on homosexuality self-reported in the US and UK:



Peter Carrell said...

Also interesting comments to the article, Martin!

Father Ron Smith said...

"New Zealanders who identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual, or who have had a same-sex encounter or relationship, tend to come from more disturbed backgrounds, a University of Otago researcher has found." - E, Wells
(pace: Martinus Complexibus)

And I wonder where she got this bit of 'wisdom' from? Probably not from people actually living with 'same-sex attraction'.

Sadly, it is this sort of pseudo-academic nonsense that has fuelled the belief that homosexuality can be 'cured' by either spiritual, psychological, or medical intervention.

When will people scared of human sexuality that is 'different' from the binary notion understand that human sexuality has its own mysterious aetiology - which is still confounding the opinions of biblical and biological scholars of the very highest order around the civilised world.

Sadly, there are always scholars who undertake research in order to confirm their own etiolated opinions on matters that are beyond their comprehension - simply because of inbuilt prejudice.

This does not help the serious study of human sexuality, which has been proven more complex that mere moral or theological speculation.

Anonymous said...

'interesting comments', perhaps, but not particularly informed and certainly pretty defensive.

Have you anything more to say on this, Peter? What did you find 'interesting' and informed about this replies? I would genuinely like to know.

Researchers into the development of adolescent sexuality have actually known for a *long* time the high level of correlation between childhood and adolescent trauma and abuse (including homosexual seduction and substance abuse) among emotionally vulnerable young people who come to self-identify as homosexual or (much more usually) as bisexual. The literature on trauma and paraphilia is detailed in the studies by Yarhouse, Socarides, Satinover etc.

Researchers have also known for a long time (and this has been admitted to me in conversation by people like Colin Coward) that adolescent and young adult sexuality is really quite plastic and can be environmentally influenced in certain directions.

(Of course, as a mere student and sometime teacher of the Classical world, I knew this already: the active promotion of homosexual relations among adolescent boys was a matter of military policy in Sparta for about 200 years, while the cult of ephebophilia was actively promoted in Athens down to the time of Plato and beyond.)

(I won't bother replying to Mr Smith, who evidently hasn't read the report and doesn't appear to understand anything about statistics and epidemiology.)

13,000 individuals is an *extremely* large study for a country the size of New Zealand and proportionately many times larger than a study in the US in the 1990s among c. 9000 individuals, which nonetheless produced comparable findings.

Finally, it is good to note that NZ can make an international contribution to health studies by large-scale longitudinal studies. The Dunedin health studies following thousands of individuals through 40+ years of their lives has uncovered many interesting facts, such as the long-term effects of cannabis on the brain, and Prof. Ellis's study is in the same tradition of careful scholarship.

Martin Psuchouiatros

Anonymous said...

Here is the paper itself, from the New Zealand Mental Health Survey, via Peter Ould's website:



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
The comments are interesting for their robust opposition to the paper (but without commensurate research) and in one case for cheerfully asserting that homosexuality is a 'choice' though I don't think his assertion was about the possibility of changing the choice but of proudly affirming the choice made.

At least one commenter here regularly tells us that there is no choice!

They couldn't both be right, could they? :)

Father Ron Smith said...

"(I won't bother replying to Mr Smith, who evidently hasn't read the report and doesn't appear to understand anything about statistics and epidemiology.) - St.Martin -

You do, of course know, what many intelligent people have said about 'statistics'.

It is well known that statistical bases can often be unbalanced - simply because the people most deeply affected - especially in this intimate area of their own sexual experience - choose not to contribute to the 'evidence' gained - or, at least. not necessarily honestly - simply because of the problems that might ensure because of their honest account of their experience.

I still maintain that, the reason the Church has been unable to achieve a just solution to its stance on homosexuality is that it is very difficult to persuade clerical employees to offer their own actual experience of sexual attraction/activity to official enquiry. It is only since the issue of homosexuality (and other sexual differences) has become more openly accepted as 'normal' for a percentage of human beings, that people like the ABC and the Pope have felt the need to affirm the integrity of homosexuals.

However, in the Church, there are. unfortunately, still heterosexual people who, from their own limited experience, still fulminate against the possibility of the known fact that homosexual people do not get to choose their own innate sexual-orientation.

Just think of this: Why, in a society that has been so against Gays, would they elect to follow that path if it was not incumbent on them? There is still a stigma attached - unjustly, in my view.

When did heterosexuals 'choose' their heterosexual orientation? This is a question that straight people who insist on the canard of homosexual people making a deliberate choice of their sexual feelings and expression!

Anonymous said...

Peter remarks: "At least one commenter here regularly tells us that there is no choice!

They couldn't both be right, could they? :)"

Of course they could, and you know better yourself, because you have quoted Matthew Parris on this very subject. Tu es Petrus - no need to play advocatus diaboli!
To offer an analogy: peaking French is rarely a (conscious) choice for most French people; it is for me. Both the population of France and I have learned French; they more easily, unconsciously, and considerably more proficiently than I.
Nobody was born knowing French.
(Hebrew is a different matter, as is clear from Genesis 2.23).
By the same token, sexual affect and responses are learned as well - usually unconsciously but learned nonetheless.
The history of Sparta and Plato's 'Symposion' (read the speech of "Aristophanes" therein) give clear evidence that homosexual affections and behaviour can be environmentally encouraged.

All kinds of paraphilia are found in modern as well as ancient societies, and I have yet to hear (say) of a paedophile who says he 'chose' that affection. I really don't think they do, either - certainly not consciously. But they have certainly *learned or developed this affect - even without realizing it (comme les Francais apprennent leur belle langue). None of this has any bearing on the moral character of paedo- or any other paraphilia.

Finally, it's obvious Ron hasn't bothered to read this massive NZMHS study (which says nothing at all about theology or morality) and that he doesn't understand correlative statistics and the methodologies of the social sciences.
Nevertheless, I will happily accept the agnomen of 'Complexibus' which is of course the ablative plural of 'complexus' and means 'With Affection' or 'With Embraces' - exactly like the Spanish epistolary salutation 'con abrazos' - 'with hugs'

Martin Complexibus Maximis

Father Ron Smith said...

"By the same token, sexual affect and responses are learned as well - usually unconsciously but learned nonetheless."
- Martinus Insensibus -

What a lot of tosh! If you were correct, then why do instinctively homosexually-orientated children born to heterosexual parents not just imbibe the matrix in which they are raised and develop?

Now that would really be a case of 'learning' their sexual responses. Let's at least be consistent in this argument.

I suppose the real problem with most heterosexual behaviourists is that are speaking about homosexuality in a vacuum. They have no actual experience of the condition, but feel compelled to offer expert advice - to a category of person who just experiences no other way of being
or behaving. It's a bit like a sighted person telling a blind person that they ought to be able to see.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
I am removing some of the directive comments you make in the edited comment below.

"Ron, [] The (Late Latin) adjective you were looking for is 'Insensibilis'. A Golden Era Classicist like me prefers to be called 'Stultus' ('the Fool') or 'Ineptus'. Even 'Caudex' ('Blockhead', from which codex is derived).

[] study [of] some basic childhood psychology, from which [we] learn that there is no such thing as "instinctively homosexually-orientated children". Everyone knows (or should know) that psychosexual affect is highly plastic, like everything else about our minds.
To a significant extent, sexual feelings are learned or mislearned, and are impacted upon by trauma, seduction, emotional deficit in the relationship with the parent of the same-sex etc. This s a recurrent theme in the case studies of Charles Socarides, Jeffrey Satinover, and Joseph Nicolosi.

[if] ANY of [us have read] the psychotherapy literature [], you will know these men - and people like Dr Elizabeth Moberly and Prof John Stackhouse and Prof Glyn Harrison of Bristol and others - have enormous clinical experience over many years, working with thousands of people.

But I see no evidence in your comments that you have [] read these scholars. If you had, you would know that the question of trauma and seduction was the whole point of the paper with its enormous study base (n = 12,992), which would be large for the US, let alone little NZ.

But why bother with the facts when your mind is already made up?
[] []

Martinus - Stultus pro Christo

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
It seems to me that you are pushing a barrow in an indeterminate direction here. Some studies indicate post-natal factors in psycho-sexual development? That does not rule out other causes of homosexuality.

I use the analogy of a person missing a limb: it could be due to an accident in life, it could be due to a blameable cause (e.g. a wrongly prescribed drug for the pregnant mother), but it could also be a genetic abnormality.

I take Ron's point, as repeatedly expressed here, is that the church should consider the possibility that homosexuality in at least some cases has an 'intrinsic' cause rather than an 'extrinsic' cause (such as the study points to), and that consideration should involve reflection on the justice of denying to 'intrinsic' homosexuals the possibility of a loving marriage-like relationship.

(I also understand that Ron is not terribly enthusiastic, or even against, the possibility of therapeutic work where 'extrinsic' factors are at work ... cue, complex and messy debate, e.g. as sometimes in comments on Andrew Comiskey's site on the right hand column here.)

Father Ron Smith said...

In part response to Martin, I might say that my studies - apart from certain clinical and theological papers written on this vast subject - are mainly from talking with the object of our discussion here.

There is such a thing as pastoral relationship, which, with prayer, can open up areas of contention in people's personal relationships, usually privy to the confessional, which may be directly in conflict with learned - but sometimes mistaken - offerings of learned professionals, especially if those professionals happen to have some bias against the subject/object of their research.

Like all institutional learning on behaviourism, there can be a problem with lack of personal experience of the subject being studied.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron/Martin

I support Ron's point here re pastoral experience. My own such experience (in all likelihood much more limited in range than Ron's) is that homosexuality has a variety of causes. One of them is in accord with the findings of the paper. (I wonder if you are prepared to recognise that too, Ron?).

But I know of homosexuals with happy upbringings with two non-abusive, gender differentiated parents etc. Hence my content that the church considered both intrinsic and extrinsic causes of homosexuality.

Janice said...

Peter, if there were any good evidence that homosexuality has an 'intrinsic' genetic cause then the twin studies that have been done would have provided it. They haven't. See here and <a href="http://www.mygenes.co.nz/PDFs/Ch10.pdf>here.</a> The last link is from Dr Neil Whitehead whose work is referred to in the first link and is a chapter length discussion of the genetic and other issues involved. I've only skimmed it but it looks to be well worth reading.

That there are homosexuals with, "happy upbringings with two non-abusive, gender differentiated parents etc." does not prove that, therefore, their homosexuality is intrinsic to them in some biological sense that can't be helped. There are many other influences on young people than their parents. And whatever actually happened what really matters is how we perceive what happened. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9)

mike greenslade said...

Kia ora Peter,
Homosexuality caused by trauma? Homosexuality likened to a missing limb? I missed the meeting where we decided that we had done enough loving and now was the time to offend. Can you send me the minutes?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Mike
My intention is not to offend (but I accept I may have done so).

My intention is to point out, in the context of debate about causes of homosexuality, that one should take care about presuming (without evidence) or accepting a finding (which has evidence in support) that one and only one cause might explain a physical phenomenon of human life.

Perhaps a better analogy would be with light: there might be a natural cause (sun), an indirectly natural cause (moon), a natural cause with prior human involvement (fire), or an unnatural cause (light bulb).

Is that better?

Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that you are pushing a barrow in an indeterminate direction here. Some studies indicate post-natal factors in psycho-sexual development? That does not rule out other causes of homosexuality."

Then I don't think you have read me carefully at all. Some studies do appear to indicate a partial feminization of the male fetal brain, obviously an intrauterine experience, but I don't know how widespread this is, and there is never a simple one-to-one mapping of gene (or rather genes - we have thousands of them) to behavior. Nor do I know if there is something comparable in females who develop SSA. A number of lesbians I have known have exhibited rather masculine traits, but I don't know whether this is learned or genetic in basis. What I do know is that the hunt for the 'gay gene' (Hamer, LeVey on Xq30) has come to a dead end: Hamer's results were falsified by a large scale Canadian study, while LeVey's had many methodological flaws.
For as long as I have thought about, it has seemed to me that the development of SSA is overwhelmingly environmentally driven - which doesn't mean there are no genetic push factors. (As I like to note by way of analogy, there is no gene that makes a man a basketball player, but oddly enough, more tall men than short men end up playing the game.)
And the environment of a child growing up and entering into puberty is a broad and complex thing, not easily susceptible to description.

That is why I have always had a pretty nuanced understanding of the moral character of homosexual feelings, as they are subjectively experienced, and (though Mr Smith will not believe this) great respect for and sympathy with people who strive to live lives of biblical holiness. It hasn't all been booklearning for me. Close acquaintance for some years with a fellow seminarian who died of Aids, and praying with a vicar's wife, whose husband left her and their children to live with a man, were formative ministerial experiences for me, as well as continuing friendship with a prominent blogger on the 'post-gay' theme.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I do love your struggle to understand. Which is different from some of your contributors who seem to revel in closing all avenues of understanding - that do not conform to their pre-suppositions.

Thanks for your open-mindedness!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
Given that we come out of the womb in all sorts of shapes, sizes and (depending on perspective, noting Mike Greenslades comment above) abilities/disabilities, capacities/incapacities, dispositions and indispositions, I remain unconvinced by any proposal that homosexuality is uniformly a matter of strength of environmental factors.

As best I understand homosexuality, some homosexuals and those who know and love them best can discern no strong environmental factor at work in their lives. Thus more than a 'push factor' seems to be at work.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I appreciate the compliment.
However I point out that the only reason I am publishing you subsequent comment, "some of your contributors who seem to revel in closing all avenues of understanding - that do not conform to their pre-suppositions" is that it is on your own head if you wish to display such odd fantasizing about other commenters.

I know of no commenter here who, disagreeing with you, has indicated that they are close-minded to fair, reasonable and factual arguments; let alone 'revel' in closing avenues of understanding.

Anonymous said...

"I remain unconvinced by any proposal that homosexuality is uniformly a matter of strength of environmental factors"

Well, once again you haven't read me carefully, because I wasn't saying that. I talked about *possible genetic predispositions which haven't been established, however - did you understand the point of the basketball analogy? And have you read the abstract linked by Janice to Neil Whitehead's study of identical twins (who by definition share the same gene pool)?

If you have any firm ideas of causation, then you should share them with us. An Olympian 'I remain unconvinced etc' isn't an answer to anything.

Tell us also what you think might be the origin on paedophilia as well. Is it genetic or environmental or a combination of both? And if it's genetic, does this affect your moral evaluation of what to do about it and how you would counsel the Christian with paedophiliac affections? This question isn't theoretical.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin
Yes, you are not proposing that which I am not convinced about.
I have not made a connection between causation and morality.

Anonymous said...

Now you've gone from being Olympian to Delphic. I haven't a clue what your response means.
What I asked was:
1. what did you think was the cause of paedophilic emotions - genetic, environmental or a combination of the two?
2. if it was genetic, what would that say about the moral character of paedophilic behaviour?
If Mr Smith has any expertise on this matter, he should share it as well.


Peter Carrell said...

It is all Greek to me, Martin.

"I have not made a connection between causation and morality."

I have no idea (in the scientific sense) what 'the cause of paedophili emotions' is. Anecdotally, I observe that some (many?) paedophiles claim to have themselves been abused as children. (I also observer that some (few?) claim not to have been abused as children).

There is no moral character to paedophilic behaviour, whether or not it is ever proven to be emotions caused by genes being put into immoral behavioural effect.

Don't worry, Martin, it is not the first time it has struck me that cause does not equal moral justification!

Father Ron Smith said...

"2. if it was genetic, what would that say about the moral character of paedophilic behaviour?
If Mr Smith has any expertise on this matter, he should share it as well." - Commenter -

I think you may be confusing homosexuality with paedophilia - a common misunderstanding on the part of moral rigorists.

One is morally neutral, the other's activity is against the law and morally reprehensible. Remember, we are still talking of aetiology, not behaviour! (or, at least, I am!)

Father Ron Smith said...

I've just noticved this gem, from Janice, on this thread:

" "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9)"

And this is precisely why, Janice, one cannot always trust the self-authenticated experts - or, indeed, anyone who professes to be 'the oracle'.

In God alone do I trust! God alone knows the 'depths of the heart'!

Anonymous said...

"I think you may be confusing homosexuality with paedophilia - a common misunderstanding on the part of moral rigorists."

No, the confusion does not lie with me, and you gave precisely the evasive non-answer I thought you would. You don't seem to know anything about the psychogenesis of sexual attraction to children, otherwise you would know it has some innate, genetic component, tied in with environmental factors. And yet you would condemn people born with CSA to their misery and loneliness.

"One is morally neutral, the other's activity is against the law and morally reprehensible."

You're evidently not aware of the confusion and contradiction in your words. Who or what defines "moral neutrality" or "moral reprehensibility"? You? The current opinion of the post-Christian west? You can't say the Bible because you reject large portions of that wrong, because you do at least know that Bible consistently takes a different view from you.
This is why people get frustrated trying to communicate with you, Ron. Aside from commenting unkindly on the motives and attitudes of people you have never met - something no one, least of all a priest, should do - you don't realise that your own beliefs are at base contradictory and confused. You do care for people, in your own way, but talking with you is like trying to herd cats, an avocation I will never succeed in.
ave atque vale

Martinos Poimenandres, (ouk Poimenailoures)

Anonymous said...

"In God alone do I trust! God alone knows the 'depths of the heart'"

The servants of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, the devotees of Brahma, the bodhisattvas of the Amida Buddha, the votaries of Ahura Mazda, and the slaves of Allah passionately agree!

Martinus Pius - sola fide, solo ipso

liturgy said...

Fascinating how quickly a discussion about justice turns to what Anglicans really have energy for: homosexuality.



Peter Carrell said...

But, Bosco, some commenters here constantly tell readers that homosexuality is an issue of justice (and nothing more or less)!

Anonymous said...

I feel ennui rather than energy on this matter. Forty years ago we argued over (and lost) the battle over the expansion of abortion, once again presented as a matter of 'justice'. Maybe 300,000+ abortions later in NZ, I have never thought my Christian position on that was wrong.
zedeqah / dikaiosune / iustitia is a broad term in Scripture and Christian moral theology - it's a terrible mistake to allow Marxists to frame the debate.

But if you want to make the case that:
1. NZ's housing stock is over-priced;
2. too many homes are poor quality, cold, leaky;
3. the NZ economy is a high-cost and low wages one;
4. Maori are faring badly on just about any socio-economic indicator you care to mention;
then you'll get no argument from me.
But the real questions are: how do you change any of this?
Poverty isn't inevitable; but the road out of poverty is never easy. It is useful to consider: who is prospering fairly today, and what's their (open) secret?


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Martin.
How indeed do we change any of this?
I suggest one particular Christian contributions.

- Challenging greed (e.g. housing markets 'heat up' as people are even moderately greedy for a slightly better price for their house; for one more house; for a house in a better part of town, etc). It has struck me that greed can also be for material comfort, e.g. the rise of desire for an 'ensuite' which now seems to uniformly lead to new houses in new sub-divisions having such luxuries as a requisite but with the consequence that the price of a 'standard' new house on what was formerly vacant land of (perhaps) no great value is well out of reach of many workers on the average wage.

Finally, on what could otherwise be a very long list, there is the 'greed' of those associated with the distribution of land for housing. It is tempting to blame individuals/corporations such as property developers or institutions such as parliament and city councils (i.e. controllers of town/country planning). Perhaps we could simply raise the question (as many around NZ are doing): could land be made available more cheaply than currently, with some new thinking on the part of those currently interfacing on land usage/availability?

carl jacobs said...

Yet another thread on 'social justice' without anyone bothering to define 'social justice.' Why does this not surprise me.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
I suggest 'justice' concerns our dealings with one another on a fair and equitable basis, where equity includes one human being (or group of humans) treating another human being (or group of humans) on the basis that we equally share in the dignity of being human, created by God in God's image.

Such dealings could include a wide range of matters from a legal contract between two people (e.g. buying/selling a house) through to responding to a murder or theft so that justice would include a fair trial of the accused and fair consequences when a guilty verdict is determined.

'Social justice' focuses discussion, concerns and action re human relationships on matters not connected with criminal process or confined to specific matters such as a business contract but involving human beings in society. Examples, as per this thread, include housing, employment, schooling, health services, aged care and the like.

carl jacobs said...

That's fine, Peter, but it doesn't answer the question. I could have provided that answer. What I want to know is this: "How may I know if an action or policy is socially just?" And this: "How may I separate a socially just policy from the latest Left-wing policy du jour?" If there is an actual Scriptural concept in there somewhere, then you should be able to answer these questions. Because right now all the phrase means to me is left-wing agitprop.

Btw. I think your definition of justice is wrong. When we say God must punish sin because He is just, we don't mean that He deals men in a fair and equitable manner. We mean He must punish evil.

I have my own (suitably progressive) definition of social justice. It means to provide men the material and legal ability to actualize their autonomous desires. That definition unifies all the threads of the subject as it is typically presented. Your job is to provide an adequate substitute that is rooted in Scripture. Because my definition has nothing to do with Scripture at all.


Tim Chesterton said...

This is not an exhaustive answer to Carl's question, but I notice that a lot of occurrences of the word 'justice' or 'judging righteously' in the Old Testament seem to occur in close proximity to teaching about defending the widow and the orphan, not oppressing the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner and the poor, defending the rights of the poor and needy. So the Old Testament texts on justice seem to lay special emphasis on our responsibility to protect the vulnerable in society.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
1. I agree with Tim
2. I am not sure that justice-via-the-Bible is different to justice-via-"left-wing" if we are talking about seeking fair wages for a fair days work, protection of workers from dangerous practices, non-discriminatory laws and the like. This both coheres with justice talk in the Bible, with the law of Moses summarised in 'love thy neighbour as thyself', as well as with the intent of and principles underlying the Mosaic law as it sought to order Israelite society in a just manner.
3. There is an argument to be had about whether God's justice towards us is focused on our evil or on our living unjustly (which is evil).

Martin Davies said...

On a blog thread that began on housing matters, it seems appropriate to add a contribution from yet another Martin on today's feast of Saint Martin of Tours. Famous for the story of cutting his cloak in half to give shelter to a beggar, St Martin is also an important figure in the introduction of monasticism to the West. Let us join our pryaers and actions with his in solidarity with those in need.
Martin of SJKS Sydney

carl jacobs said...

OK. So let's ask a couple of clarifying questions. Understand I am trying to keep an open mind here. I am not rejecting the idea. But also understand that I briefly flirted with political involvement in the 90's and for a conservative like me that meant interaction with the Christian coalition. That experience was enough to send me right back out the door. I understand first hand the conflation of right wing politics with Christianity. I am not going to be sympathetic to its mirror opposite error. So then:

1. What is the biblical definition of 'fair' so that we may have a basis for determining a fair wage.

2. Social justice advocates say all the time that 'access to reproductive health services' (ie abortion) is a social justice issue. Is this true or false? If it is true, then what biblical principle underlies the claim? If it is false, how do I separate this claim of social justice from a legitimate claim?

And just so you know. If you try to justify abortion it terms if social justice, you will demolish the concept of social justice in my eyes and confirm everything I already think about it.


Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Martin (and St Martin!)

When I started reading your comment I thought you were going to tell us about the over-heating housing market in Sydney ... :)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl,
1. This week's epistle reading in the common lectionary is 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 talks about those who do not work not eating. I suggest a biblical principle then would be that a fair wage enables a worker to eat. At least that would be a starting point for discussion, giving that other needs, for accommodation etc are in the picture. (For the record, I do not think a market economy is necessarily unjust nor unbiblical).

2. I suggest that social justice includes the way in which society both provides health services and enables access to those health services. You will be well aware of striking differences across countries in respect of health services/social justice: e.g. the debate over Obamacare (or should I say the many debates over its varying faults, foibles and shortcomings?) strikes a Kiwi like me as very odd! We are used to a public health hospital system funded by tax (doctors and medicines partially funded by tax) with options on private health care paid for by users. If our government said we were moving to an 'Obamacare' system we would howl at the socially unjust proposal!

I would understand advocates of access to abortion services as seeing this as a matter of society providing healthcare and thus a matter of social justice.

The question then, as you are aware, is whether seeking an abortion is 'healthcare' in the same way as, say, seeking an appendictomy (spelling?)?

Father Ron Smith said...

"How may I separate a socially just policy from the latest Left-wing policy du jour?" - carl jacobs -

My suggestion? Just check and see if it is embraced by the latest right-wing policy du jour. Then you will have a pretty good idea that injustice is around the corner.

It's amazing how everything seems to come down to politics with some people.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I think Carl might agree with me that everything is politics!

Politics is inescapable for anyone who avoids being a hermit!

Father Ron Smith said...

Speaking of Social Justice and 'The Lucky Country': when is Tony Abbott going to do justice about New Zealanders who have contributed to the Australian economy and paid their taxes in Australia but have no access to social welfare, nor the vote? Now that's a bit close to home for some, I guess.

Peter Carrell said...

That question has a very easy answer, I suspect, Ron: he (or his successor) will make the change when NZ ceases to become a soft point of entry for people whose real aim in life is to become Aussies and not Kiwis.

Put another way: do you want us to have a tougher immigration policy here so that our family members living in Oz can have an easier time over there?

carl jacobs said...


It's amazing how everything seems to come down to politics with some people.

You see, this is why it is pointless to argue with you. You don't listen. You don't answer. You impose your own expectations on the arguments of another so that you can make the point you want to make. Every post I have made on this thread has been an attempt to remove this discussion from politics. It is not possible to read the English language and come to any other conclusion.


Anonymous said...

"You see, this is why it is pointless to argue with you. You don't listen. You don't answer."

So why do you bother? I fall into the same trap as well.
I suppose Peter has his reasons for including Ron's ruminations, but like the peace of God, it passeth all understanding.