The people give thanks for Her Majesty’s 60 years of service

Despite our differences, Britain is united in its respect for Elizabeth II and the monarchy .

The Queen arrives for the Epsom Derby - The people gives thanks for Her Majesty's 60 years of service

The Queen arrives for the Epsom Derby Photo: AP

It is very unusual for the whole of Britain to unite in celebration. Election victories and football matches are essentially divisive occasions in this country, where those who do not support the winning party or team are left out, and feel resentful at the other side’s swaggering celebrations. The most glorious aspect of the Jubilee celebrations is that no one – except perhaps the most dogmatic and dour republican – feels left out. Everyone can participate. And it seems likely that, over the next three days, just about everyone will.

The Queen’s capacity to unite her subjects in admiration and respect for her and for the achievements of her reign is remarkable. Britain is a far more diverse country than it was in 1952, when she came to the throne. The fissures between us are more obvious, and in some ways deeper and sharper, than they were 60 years ago. Britons no longer share a single common culture. In 1952, the nation was still emerging from the shadow of the Second World War. Some goods were still rationed. Most of us wore the same clothes, ate the same food, and shared the same religion and amusements. In the years since then, parts of our cities have been transformed in ways which, in 1952, would not have been recognised as “British” at all. While we all enjoy a much higher standard of living, the gap between rich and poor is larger than it was in 1952. And resentments over immigration have increased, largely because in 1952, there had been very little immigration.

And yet, despite our differences, we are united in our respect for Queen Elizabeth, and for the institution that she embodies. She is the head of the Church of England, but far from alienating those who are not Anglicans, or even Christians, her religious convictions seem to comfort them. It appears that Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs feel much more comfortable with a monarch who has faith, albeit not their own, than with a secular political figure.

The Queen’s religious convictions are, however, about the only thing that the populace knows about her, apart from her fondness for her family, for horses, and for corgis. Her ability to remain above politics has been exemplary, and astonishing. She never gives any hint of what she really thinks about any political issue – or any issue at all, come to that. It means that she is able to unite, rather than divide, the nation, for everyone recognises, and respects, her utter impartiality on political matters: this is essential if a constitutional monarchy is to survive in the modern age. A hereditary monarch as head of a democratic state is an anomaly. Few nation-builders would dream of starting a democracy from scratch along these lines. But the continued survival of the British monarchy – a result of historical accident, and of the success with which revolutionary and republican pressures were defused during the 19th and early 20th century – has turned out to be a tremendous boon for the country. It has given us a unity and, indeed, a stability which plenty of republics lack.

Many democracies wish that they were able to temper the fickleness of popular will with an institution as free from partisanship as our monarchy. Many of them envy us for having the Queen as our head of state. And when you consider not only the compromised figures who fill that office in some other countries, but also some of the likely candidates as our head of state if we were to dispense with the monarchy, you immediately understand why.

As our poll today shows, the Queen is immensely popular with her subjects in Britain. Most of us believe that we will always have the monarchy. One third of us thinks that she is our greatest ever monarch, which makes her more respected today even than Queen Victoria.

The Queen’s astonishing work-rate is part of the explanation for her popularity. She may have unique privileges, but she works very hard for them: on a typical day, she spends three hours going through her red boxes. She attends endless hours of receptions, parades and official dinners. She conducts herself with grace and dignity through all of them, which is incredible given how tedious the whole process must frequently be, and how she must long, on occasion, to be able to skip it all and relax on her own. She is 86, an age by which most people have long gone into retirement. But she shows little sign of diminishing her demanding schedule.

Elizabeth II has become so perfect a symbol of what we value about monarchy that it is difficult to disentangle support for her from support for the institution of monarchy. But support for the institution depends critically on the nature of the individual occupying the throne. Public opinion can turn quickly if something happens to make people feel that the monarch is in some way “out of touch” – which is what occurred in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. That brief outpouring of hostility to the Windsors was quickly overcome, and has now been almost forgotten. But it was a reminder that the true affection of the British people is not a given – and the Queen has never treated it as such. She has been very careful to ensure that the monarchy has been, to use the ghastly but accurate phrase, “modernised”. The extent to which members of her family are supported by British taxpayers has been diminished; her own expenses have been curtailed; and she herself now files a tax return and pays income tax – a necessary, if slightly absurd, concession to egalitarian sentiments.

But in this Jubilee year, none of that matters: the nation, and the entire Commonwealth, can simply celebrate one of the most glorious reigns in our history. We all have reason to be grateful that our Queen – and the office that she holds with such dignity – offers stability, comfort and continuity in an age of dizzying change. Her sense of public duty and her extraordinary diligence provide an inspiring example. These are blessings, and not to be taken for granted.

The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage, Part One

 

The intersection of pornography and marriage is one of the most problematic issues among many couples today–including Christian couples. The pervasive plague of pornography represents one of the greatest moral challenges faced by the Christian church in the postmodern age. With eroticism woven into the very heart of the culture, celebrated in its entertainment, and advertised as a commodity, it is virtually impossible to escape the pervasive influence of pornography in our culture and in our lives.

At the same time, the problem of human sinfulness is fundamentally unchanged from the time of the Fall until the present. There is no theological basis for assuming that human beings are more lustful, more defenseless before sexual temptation, or more susceptible to the corruption of sexual desire than was the case in any previous generation.

Two distinctions mark the present age from previous eras. First, pornography has been so mainstreamed through advertising, commercial images, entertainment, and everyday life, that what would have been illegal just a few decades ago is now taken as common dress, common entertainment, and unremarkable sensuality. Second, explicit eroticism–complete with pornographic images, narrative, and symbolism–is now celebrated as a cultural good in some sectors of the society. Pornography, now reported to be the seventh-largest business in America, claims its own icons and public figures. Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, is considered by many Americans to be a model of entrepreneurial success, sexual pleasure, and a liberated lifestyle. The use of Hugh Hefner as a spokesman by a family-based hamburger chain in California indicates something of how pornography itself has been mainstreamed in the culture.

Growing out of those two developments is a third reality–namely, that increased exposure to erotic stimulation creates the need for ever-increased stimulation in order to demand notice, arouse sexual interest, and retain attention. In an odd twist, hyper-exposure to pornography leads to a lower net return on investment–which is to say that the more pornography one sees the more explicit the images must be in order to excite interest. As the postmodernist would explain, in order to “transgress,” pornographers must continue to press the envelope.

One further qualification must be added to this picture. Pornography is mainly, though not exclusively, a male phenomenon. That is to say, the users and consumers of pornography are overwhelmingly male–boys and men. In the name of women’s liberation, some pornography directed towards a female market has emerged in recent years. Nevertheless, this is decidedly a “niche” market in the larger pornographic economy. The fact remains that many men pay a great deal of money and spend a great deal of time looking at and looking for pornographic images in order to arouse themselves sexually.

Why is pornography such a big business? The answer to that question lies in two fundamental realities. First, the most fundamental answer to the question must be rooted in a biblical understanding of human beings as sinners. We must take into full account the fact that sin has corrupted every good thing in creation, and the effects of sin extend to every dimension of life. The sex drive, which should point toward covenant fidelity in marriage and all the goods associated with that most basic institution, has instead been corrupted to devastating effects. Rather than directed toward fidelity, covenantal commitment, procreation, and the wonder of a one-flesh relationship, the sex drive has been degraded into a passion that robs God of His glory, celebrating the sensual at the expense of the spiritual, and setting what God had intended for good on a path that leads to destruction in the name of personal fulfillment. The most important answer we can give to pornography’s rise in popularity is rooted in the Christian doctrine of sin. As sinners, we corrupt what God has perfectly designed for the good of His creatures and we have turned sex into a carnival of orgiastic pleasures. Not only have we severed sex from marriage, but as a society, we now look at marriage as an imposition, chastity as an embarrassment, and sexual restraint as a psychological hang-up. The doctrine of sin explains why we have exchanged the glory of God for Sigmund Freud’s concept of polymorphous perversity.

In addition to this, we must recognize that a capitalist free-market economy rewards those who produce a product that is both attractive and appetitive. The purveyors of pornography know that they succeed by directing their product to the lowest common denominator of humanity–a depraved sexual mind. Without the legal restraints common in previous generations, pornographers are now free to sell their goods virtually without restriction. Beyond this, they base their marketing plan on the assumption that an individual can be seduced into the use of pornography and then will be “hooked” into a pattern of dependence upon pornographic images and the need for ever-more explicit sexual material as a means towards sexual arousal.

The bottom line is that, in our sinfulness, men are drawn toward pornography and a frighteningly large percentage of men develop a dependence upon pornographic images for their own sexual arousal and for their concept of the good life, sexual fulfillment, and even meaning in life. Medical research can document the increased flow of endorphins, hormones that create pleasure in the brain, when sexual images are viewed. Given the law of reduced effect, greater stimulation is needed to keep a constant flow of endorphins to the brain’s pleasure centers. Without conscious awareness of what is happening, men are drawn into a pattern of deeper and deeper sin, more and more explicit pornography, and never-ending rationalizing, and all this started when the eye first began its perusal of the pornographic image and sexual arousal was its product.

The postmodern age has brought many wonders as well as incredible moral challenges. Often, technological achievement and moral complexity come hand in hand. This is most explicitly the case with the development of the Internet. For the first time in human history, a teenager in his bedroom has access to an innumerable array of pornographic websites, catering to every imaginable sexual passion, perversion, and pleasure. Today’s teenager, if not stranded on some desert island, is likely to know more about sex and its complexities than his father knew when he got married. Furthermore, what most generations have known only in the imagination–if at all–is now there for the viewing on websites, both commercial and free. The Internet has brought an interstate highway of pornography into every community, with exit ramps at every terminal or personal computer.

Pornography represents one of the most insidious attacks upon the sanctity of marriage and the goodness of sex within the one-flesh relationship. The celebration of debauchery rather than purity, the elevation of genital pleasure over all other considerations, and the corruption of sexual energy through an inversion of the self, corrupts the idea of marriage, leads to incalculable harm, and subverts marriage and the marital bond.

‘Heart-Broken’ Black Pastors Want to Meet Obama Over Gay Marriage

 

From The Christian Post

Influential African-American pastors have requested Attorney General Eric Holder to grant them a meeting with President Barack Obama, saying he broke their hearts by endorsing gay marriage – “something that is simply wrong” – as a civil right.

“We pray for the President … President Obama is the fulfillment of our dreams for our sons — and he has broken our hearts by using his power and position to endorse as a civil right something that is simply wrong,” the Rev. William Owens, founder and president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), wrote in a letter to Holder late Thursday.

The coalition, which comprises of leaders of the black church and civil rights leaders who marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King, decided to seek a meeting with Obama after Holder announced he would speak with 350 black pastors to inform them of their rights in speaking for the president without violating their 501(c)3 status.

Read here