Tag Archives: liberty

If She Tries to Resist, Assimilate Her!

Just a very brief outline of what was upsetting me yesterday, and will no doubt continue to unsettle for a while.

Last year when Mum moved in with us, I took her along to a Women’s mental health support group which was run by a national charity known as Rethink Mental Illness. I was surprised to recognise many of the members from the Fibromyalgia group I had previously been a member of, but had been uncomfortable with it being run by a mental health charity. (ME and Fibromyalgia have been dogged by inappropriate association with psychiatry for decades)

To cut a long story short, the group decided to break free of Rethink and set up on their own (there was actually a very acrimonious split but I won’t go into details).

It was decided that the group would amalgamate to be both a Fibro group and a mental health group and since we were all friends, we could divide the time informally and equally between the two. I thought it suited everyone.

But then, just after Christmas, there was a big, bad falling out and one of the members left/ was pushed out of the group, and one or two members made a complete turnaround and decided to ask Rethink to step back in, as though everything that had happened before and all the reasons we ejected Rethink were irrelevant.

I was given leaflets to re-apply to Rethink to be ‘assessed’ by them, and I filled them in but carried them around in my bag for weeks, really not quite comfortable about being involved with them again (not to mention the fact that I was unhappy about various aspects of the way the group was going, not least of which was the decision to offically call the group a Mental Health group and ignore the ME & Fibromyalgia).

On Friday, we weren’t able to get to the group and apparently they met with Rethink  without us. Rethink determined that nobody could be a member of the group anymore unless they were assessed and approved by Rethink and so we could no longer attend meetings until we got that sorted out. Not only that, but they stipulated that we were not even allowed to meet members of the group for coffee until Rethink had approved us.

Well, no.

Apparently the other members of the group all sat there meekly and said “Yes Rethink, whatever you say, Rethink, three bags full, Rethink.”

They seem to be honestly surprised and confused that I would disobey. They had not anticipated it and apparently everybody is reeling because I have broken the group up!

Of course I am very sorry and upset to have hurt or upset my friends. But by all accounts, I think these friendships must have been very weak and superficial if not entirely fake if they would submit to tyranny for the dubious promise of safety that Rethink offers.

I think I probably need to learn to say “no” louder and more determinedly at an earlier stage if I’m to avoid repeats. But in this instance, I think it’s all over and we need to stand our ground and be prepared to lose the group to Rethink. I’m not willing to submit to the malevolence or incompetence of a group that has already shown themselves to be untrustworthy and more trouble than it’s worth, and I doubt the others are strong enough to resist.

I hope I’m wrong and the friendships will survive despite the disagreement (and Rethink’s ridiculous rules). But somehow, I very much doubt it.

No Treasure But Hope

I really know very little about Irish history, it is not something we are taught in British schools (not even the British side of the story – it’s just brushed aside completely, at least it was when I was at school, and I doubt things have changed significantly in that regard) which makes me a little sad as it is part of my heritage.

So I thought I would share this famous poem from the Easter Uprising of 1916 to mark its centenary, and since hope and despair as well as freedom and escape are such common themes on this blog.

The Rebel

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,

I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!

I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars

P H Pearse

More thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling

Following on from my earlier post which looked at the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage from a liberty / legal / government / democracy point of view, I said I would post again looking at the ruling from a religious / moral perspective.

I haven’t waded into the debate on homosexuality previously, because I feel inherently out of my depth and ill-equipped to make a coherent argument that is both loving and faithful.

I think that this has been the church’s own trouble in this issue – the inability to disagree in a loving way.

I have seen some very ‘black and white’ comments (in contrast to the shades of grey, or rainbow if you prefer) using words like, ‘sin’, ‘righteousness’, ‘wickedness’, ‘abomination’ and suchlike. These are Biblical words of course, but they’re not terribly helpful here.

Sin is a word loaded with baggage of years of oppressive church imposition of morality by way of guilt and shame, which actually are in a way antithetical to New Testament Christianity which is supposed to be all about a heart-change and love.

So what does it mean? The Westminster catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God”.

So why would the law of God, who defines himself as unchangeably and fundamentally good, as Love incarnate, legislate against homosexuality?

The tendency recently has been to view homosexuality and gay marriage as a question of love. How can you possibly legislate against an emotion, a thought, and how can love ever be morally wrong? Of course it would be a nonsense. Israel’s King David loved his friend Jonathan, and Jewish tradition has it that it was exactly the kind of love that we’re talking about here.

But I don’t think that love is the real issue. David’s love for Jonathan was never depicted as a sin, because it was a feeling, an emotion. As passionate as it may have been, there was never any suggestion of lust or a physical or sexual consumation of that love.

So the law is not against love, but the physical, sexual act of love in a relationship that is outside of the boundaries of what is considered appropriate (or what you might say is outside of the design for sex and sexuality, which is ultimately reproduction.) And of course, there is a long list of which relationships are deemed inappropriate for sexual acts.

As I have mentioned before, Biblical law, the Torah, is traditionally divided into three in Christianity – civil, ceremonial and moral, and laws on sexual behaviour are considered part of the moral law which was traditionally considered binding on Christians, while the rest was rejected.

More recently, in the last century particularly, the moral law has begun to be thrown off as well. I won’t go into the theological reasons for this shift, but suffice to say only the more conservative denominations have rejected this abandonment of traditional morals (although, somewhat inconsistently I would say).

At the same time, the idea of God designing sex, people and the world as part of creation has also been eroded, so the idea that there are boundaries to sexual activity inherent in the design of creation no longer holds much sway even with most Christians.

So it could be said that the two most basic Christian arguments against homosexuality are no longer considered valid, either by the world or the church. That is certainly the logical position we find ourselves in.

Now, although I would tend to be very conservative in some respects – accepting the two premises above which are now generally rejected, I do however realise that gender, sex and sexuality are complex and complicated, and a lot less ‘black and white’ than the Bible and conservative Christians seem to portray them.

From a liberty perspective, I’m very uncomfortable allowing the government to be the arbiter of rights and liberties and prioritise the liberties of one group or individual over another’s. Where it is an adult, consensual relationship, I can’t see the government’s intrusion as legitimate.

From a religious perspective though, the government’s role would legitimately be to limit the ‘sin’ of the nation by legislating according to the moral law… But of course, we don’t have a Christian government.

I saw a post which said something along the lines of “banning my gay marriage because it’s against your religion is like banning my chocolate cake because you’re on a diet” in other words, it’s none of your business, get off my liberty! Well, yes.

In a post-Christian world, there is no obvious reason that would make Christians imposing their morality on others and limiting their morality legitimate.

So on most levels, I have no problem with loving, monogamous, consensual homosexuality, and I have no real problem with gay marriage, providing nobody forces anybody else to do, say or think anything they don’t want to.

But on a spiritual level, I can’t help wondering if there is more to it than what we see on the surface. If God is real, if God really created man and woman with a design, plan and purpose, and determined that there should be limitations on our sexual activity, are we wounding our spirits when we cross those boundaries? (And that wouldn’t apply only to homosexuality but to any kind of sexual activity outside the design – pre-marital, extra-marital, whatever.) Again, that’s not going to carry any weight of argument for anybody who has a different religious or spiritual perspective. But it gives me pause.

I have seen a few people saying that this ruling ‘has crossed the line’, leading America into some kind of gross immorality which will remove God’s blessing and protection on her. Personally, I think that line was crossed a long time ago with the Roe v Wade ruling. But that’s just me.

Thoughts on the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

I’m seeing rainbows everywhere and it’s all very pretty…

But I’m curious to understand how the Supreme Court of the United States works, how did the case come before the Supreme Court, who brought the case, and is the granting of rights over all of the states the norm, or is it unprecedented? Is the Constitution affected in any way, and if so how?

I am wondering how the decision (that no state can deny marriage to a homosexual couple) affects the separation of church and state – does the ruling affect only civil weddings or religious weddings as well? If not, will the US take the next step, as the UK has, to permit gay marriage in churches? (If churches had decided to do it before the ruling, would the Government’s rules trump the churches? Would such weddings / marriages be declared illegitimate?)

Here in the UK we’re left with the ridiculous situation that only Anglican Churches are not permitted to conduct weddings for homosexual couples, not to mention the discrepancy between civil partnerships only being available to homosexuals, a situation which cannot possibly continue. The next logical and inevitable step is to declare, on equality grounds, that no churches are permitted to deny weddings to homosexuals.

That, like the ruling forcing businesses like Asher’s bakery and the bed & breakfast in Cornwall to do business against their conscience, would be a step too far, in my opinion, since it tramples on the rights of others to freedom of conscience amongst other things. But again, this is the inevitable logical conclusion when government is the arbiter of rights and liberties and has unfettered power to prioritise one group’s rights over another’s.

The permitting of rights, by the way, is antithetical to the very basis of UK law, which is grounded on the foundational idea that anything is permitted except that which is banned by government, as opposed to Napoleonic law which automatically bans anything which is not permitted by government – a very dangerous precedent and a very slippery slope. As I understand it (and I may be wrong, perhaps somebody can clarify this for me), this basic system of permitting rights is the US system as well.

And so then, more fundamentally, if the Supreme Court had ruled against gay marriage, how legitimate would that ruling be? (Was there an existing law banning gay marriage, or was it just automatically banned because it was previously not permitted?) At what point did the US Government become empowered to grant or deny rights? Do people even realise and understand the implications of it having such power?

If the Ireland vote a few weeks ago had ruled against gay marriage, the majority ruling against the rights of a minority, would that have been ok? Would it have been legitimate?

The whole idea that anybody should be permitted to vote against somebody else’s rights is troubling to say the least.

I saw a snippet of Rand Paul saying that the government ought to get out of the marriage business, and I’m inclined to agree (although I can’t find the exact quote, and I don’t know his reasons, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say I agree with him personally).

There’s a much bigger question about the role of Government, its boundaries, its legitimate powers, and I haven’t even touched upon the religious / spiritual dimension. That is perhaps for another post, when I have sorted through my thoughts.

Suffice to say that I’m uneasy about the whole idea of governments granting marriage licences (or refusing to do so), and on the other hand religious weddings aren’t, or perhaps shouldn’t be, the same entity as civil weddings. Of course there is no separation of church and state in the UK, so it’s all a bit more complicated.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts from a legal / liberty perspective. I hope it’s not too disjointed.

Thoughts on Steve Chalke and Yoder: until women are free, nobody is free.

I have heard the name Yoder a few times but did not realise that his works were considered so important. How dreadful and sad that a man who wrote about pacifism should perpetrate violence, and on such a scale.

But perhaps even sadder still is the church’s continued dismissal of his sexual abuse as irrelevant and minimal.

At least the Mennonite church has now begun to deal with it publically and apologise, now ensuring that his works, where re-printed, will contain an acknowledgement of his crimes.

Another irony about Steve Chalke’s reference to Yoder in his book on “Being Human” is that Yoder appears to have displayed all the signs of having Narcissistic Personality Disorder (as many, if not all sexual abusers do), lacking that essential characteristic that makes us human: empathy.

Thoughts on Steve Chalke and Yoder: until women are free, nobody is free..