Sunday, June 04, 2017

Note to Margaret Court: the Bible isn't meant to be read that literally

Robyn J Whitaker, a female lecturer at a "modern" theology college, attempts below to rebut the points about homosexuality made by Australian tennis great, Margaret Court. Much of what she says below is "ad hominem", attacking Ms Court personally, and she endeavours to make points about homosexuality by generalizing from heterosexual marriage.

But the point about homosexuality is that it is NOT heterosexual marriage and the Bible consistently distinguishes between the two.  Homosexuality is a separate issue in the Bible and there is no indication that it should be seen as part of the "patriarchy" as Ms Whitaker extravagantly claims.

She claims that the Bible condones homosexuality but cannot produce a single text to that effect.  The OT is unrelentingly and savagely hostile to homosexuality and the Apostle Paul continues that hostility in Romans chapter 1 of the NT.  The big break in the NT is not any form of condoning homosexuality but rather a lifting of the duty to stone homosexuals to death.  Paul says it can be left to God to condemn and punish them.

For anyone who takes the Bible seriously as the word of God, there can be no doubt that homosexuals are in the outer darkness and not among those who will be saved. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says as much.  The Bible does NOT teach universal salvation.  It teaches that those wishing salvation must heed God's commands.

Ms Whitaker seems to think it important that Jesus did not explicitly condemn homosexuality.  He did not need to.  For him, as a devout Jew in a Jewish society, that was understood. So we see in Matthew 19 that, for him, marriage was clearly between a man and a woman and it was only they who could become "one flesh". And the authority he gave for that was what was found in the Jewish scriptures.  So there is no doubt whatever about his view of sexual relationships. Only male/female marriage was on his horizons.

But Ms Whitaker says that the Bible is just a very old book from which we can pick and choose what we like.  She is not a Christian.  At best she is a post-Christian, not unlike the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus' day -- whom Jesus condemned in Mathew 23:3.  And note the three things that Jesus there said the Pharisees neglected: "justice and mercy and faithfulness".  Ms Whitaker likes the mercy teaching but seems to have no interest in justice and faithfulness.  Jesus said you need all three

Margaret Court is wrong to claim marriage is "a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible", as she did in her open letter to Qantas, or that a "biblical view" of marriage is between one man and one woman, as she did on Channel Ten's The Project last week.

She is even more wrong to suggest she is being persecuted for her views. Here is why.

Reading the Bible to determine the shape of contemporary marriage is not an easy task. It is an ancient collection of 66 books, written in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic), and spanning over 1,000 years of human history.

Much of the Bible was written 2,500 years ago, when family life was very different.

In the Hebrew scriptures, Abraham fathered children with his concubine as well as his wife, and Moses likely had two wives (one of whom is presented as problematic because she was a foreigner).

Famous biblical kings, like David and Solomon, had entire palaces full of often dubiously acquired wives and concubines that served as symbols of their power and status.

    The reality is families in the Bible reflect the patriarchal structures of their period. Women were considered commodities to be married off for political alliances, economic reasons, or to keep families connected. They had no autonomy to choose their partners.

Polygamy was common, as was the use of slaves as sexual concubines.

I don't hear anyone advocating a "biblical view" of marriage suggesting we return to those particular scenarios.

In the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce. This teaching is widely ignored by many Christian denominations today.

Most likely, Jesus's concern in speaking against divorce was for the vulnerable place in which it left women, given they could not usually earn their own money or inherit.

Marriage was allowed in the New Testament, but the most prolific writer, Paul, thinks celibacy is preferable for a Christian.

When Paul writes "there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), he presents an ideology profoundly disruptive of patriarchal family structures, gender roles and hierarchy.

This kind of Christian teaching led, if anything, to a breakdown of traditional marriage structures (in ancient terms).

For example, the option to remain celibate and live in community (such as a nunnery or monastery) was a radical, attractive and liberating alternative to arranged marriage for women in earliest Christianity.

Jesus' own mother, who is an example of faith in the church's tradition, appears to have left her husband and other children at home to follow her itinerant son.

The nuclear family and the Bible

Not all opinions are of equal weight. While Margaret Court remains one of the most phenomenal sportswomen in Australian history, this does not qualify her as a spokesperson for Christianity on marriage equality.

Nor does being a self-appointed leader of a church she created.

Indeed, if Ms Court applied the literalism with which she reads Genesis to the whole of the Bible, she'd find herself in hot water, since 1 Timothy 2:12 explicitly forbids women teaching or having any authority over men.

This kind of culturally bound ideology is precisely why biblical scholars and mainstream Christian churches do not adhere to a literal interpretation of this ancient and diverse text.

To criticise and expect a higher level of discourse from a public figure is not bullying nor persecution.

Ms Court willingly put herself into the public space by writing an open letter to Qantas. She could have lodged her complaint privately with the company if she wished to remain free of public comment.

    There is nothing inherently Christian about the so-called traditional arrangement of the nuclear family.

You can find that model in the Bible if you look for it, but it is not the dominant view. Nor does the Bible condemn what we understand to be loving, mutual LGBTQI relationships today.

There is nothing like the contemporary concept of sexual orientation in the biblical text.

Where the Bible does appear to condemn homosexual acts it condemns same-sex acts that are rape, adulterous or represent imbalanced power dynamics, such as an elite male with a youth.

[Rubbish!  In 1 Timothy 1: 8-10 and elsewhere homosexuality is simply listed among all the foul sins that are contrary to the law of God]

Interestingly, these same power dynamics are not critiqued when an elite male takes a young woman as a sexual concubine; a sobering reminder of the patriarchal worldview that lies behind the text and ancient fears about penetration and masculinity.

Concepts of family and marriage have evolved and changed throughout human history, including within the church.

Modern Christian families can be made up of gay couples, straight couples, single people in community, childless adults, foster parents, step-parents, grandparents and biological parents.  It is their faith that makes them Christian, not their family structure nor sexuality.

Many Christians are not represented by the views we've recently heard from Margaret Court, nor those espoused by the so-called Australian Christian Lobby.

In fact, quite the opposite. Christian values of love, justice and inclusion found throughout the Bible are why so many Christians support marriage equality.


This could be Australia’s angriest Telstra customer

I once had to threaten to cut the Telstra cable to get some life out of them -- JR

IT’S a story of mistaken identity, phantom iPhones, pissed off police, and a ruined honeymoon.

Many of us have gone through frustrating ordeals with telco companies, but Angela McCarthy’s Telstra nightmare probably takes the cake.

It started in November when a Telstra customer with the same name ordered two new iPhones. While the phones were sent to that customer’s address on the Gold Coast, Ms McCarthy, who lives in Townsville, got a $2093 bill for the two accounts.

It seemed a Telstra employee hadn’t performed the proper identity checks and somehow the billing got sent to the wrong Angela McCarthy.

When she called Telstra to fix the problem, it was determined to be a case of identity theft. She was passed on to the fraud team, and then the Queensland police got involved.

“They had a warrant, ready to take action against this other customer,” but the police thought it was strange that the fraudster (who they believe turned out to be an older woman) had used their home address for the apparent scam, she told

Ms McCarthy says she was on the phone with Telstra and the police who were about to execute the warrant when Telstra admitted it was an error on their end.

“The police officer was quite pissed off, to say the least, that they’d been working on the case for the past two weeks only to find that Telstra’s like, ‘yeah sorry, our bad’”.

To make it all worse, this was happening while Ms McCarthy, 27, was on her honeymoon in Japan. That meant she has to go through the process of setting up global roaming in order to communicate with Telstra — which later turned into another fight when the telco was initially unwilling to reimburse her for the costs incurred.

In December another bill arrived for $2413. Then again in January for $2366.

When she finally succeeded in getting the services removed from her file, the victory was short-lived when she was hit with early termination fees. So back to the ombudsman she went.

For the sake of brevity, we’ll stop here. But it goes on and on including being hit with a credit blacklist barring her from getting any more Telstra services which caused further frustrations.

In total it’s been seven months, thousands of dollars in wrongful bills, three (and now maybe a fourth) Telstra case managers, complaints filed with the ombudsman, countless hours spent on the phone and plenty of stress.

Despite some lingering uncertainty, the ordeal is almost resolved. But this week after having issues trying to organise a new phone she turned to strangers on the internet to vent her frustration.

“Let me tell you a story of an angry Telstra Customer!” she wrote before detailing her story in a fist-clenching 1300 word post.

“I’m not a fan of making things public but the first two times I complained to Telstra they piss farted around,” she lamented to

“I feel like as a customer we shouldn’t have to go on social media and complain in order to get things sorted.”

But these days, that’s what many angry customers are doing. The social media pages of Australia’s major telcos seem to be to most effective way to be heard and, in Ms McCarthy’s case, resulted in the quickest response time. Visit the Facebook pages of Telstra or Optus and you’ll reliably see a torrent of customer complaints in the comments section under sleek PR videos.

At the moment, all the wrongful charges have been removed from her account and the ordeal is nearing a final resolution.

But Ms McCarthy says she’s expecting a call from the CEO’s office today because Telstra has told her it’s conducting a full investigation into the ordeal on her behalf. has repeatedly contacted Telstra to ask about the internal investigation but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

“A lot of ways they’ve gone through to handle this has been absolutely abysmal,” she said.

“As a consumer you rely on the telco to do their job and to do proper ID checks ... I need some sort of assurance that this won’t happen again but Telstra won’t give me that.”

In the latest report from the telecommunications ombudsman, Telstra reclaimed the mantle of most complained about telco, alongside Optus.

In the January-March 2017 quarter, Optus and Telstra both registered 9.3 complaints per 10,000 services — a higher than usual number due to issues arising from the complicated NBN rollout.


Journalists’ union calls for Leftist activist to quit Press Council

The head of the journalists’ union has called for the resignation of the Australian Press Council’s latest member, deputy chair of left-wing activ­ist group GetUp! Carla McGrath, as Communications Minister Mitch Fifield labelled the appointment “bizarre”.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance union chief executive Paul Murphy yesterday ­described Ms McGrath’s concurrent positions on the Press Council and GetUp! as “incompatible”, saying her appointment represented a conflict of interest that could not be ignored.

“It’s important for the Press Council to be held in great confidence, not only in the industry, but within the broader community. But there is clear perception of conflict of interest here considering the appointment is of someone who holds a position in an organisation as active and political as GetUp! is,” Mr Murphy told The Weekend Australian.

“While we have absolutely no problem with Carla McGrath, we don’t believe it is appropriate for someone to sit on the Press Council who also holds a senior position in such a politically active organisation. She should give up one ­position or the other because, from our perspective, she can’t be on both.”

The union’s Press Council representative, Matthew Ricketson, co-author of the Finkelstein media inquiry report, voted in favour of Ms McGrath becoming a member. But after learning of the appointment, the MEAA decided it was untenable.

Senator Fifield denounced the appointment, saying senior GetUp! representatives should not have any role adjudicating complaints against media organisations.

“GetUp! are a political extension of Labor and the Greens,” Senator Fifield told The Weekend Australian. “As partisan participants GetUp! activists have no place sitting in judgment on publishers and journalists.

“A free and independent press is an essential underpinning of our democracy. Press review bodies need to maintain industry and community confidence.”

The Australian this week decided to boycott testimony and not accept adjudications of complaints by the Press Council in which Ms McGrath took part.

The Daily Telegraph’s editor, Chris Dore, has also decided to not co-operate with Press Council ­inquiries involving Ms McGrath. The newspaper will also refuse to adhere to rulings in which she plays a part.

Ms McGrath’s role at GetUp! — an organisation that has raised funds to publicly campaig­n against News Corp Australia publications and mocked election coverage by some of the nation’s largest newspapers — has stirred serious concerns among editors, who fear they will not get a fair hearing when complaints are raised about coverage of important public-­interest issues that do not with gel with GetUp’s politics.

The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Paul Whittaker, said even if Ms McGrath relinquished her executive role at GetUp!, there would remain a perception that she lacked independence, which made her appointment untenable.

“Even if she stands aside from certain complaints, her position will undermine the credibility of Press Council submissions to governments and its work in determining what it considers to be good standards for journalism,” Mr Whittaker said.

In a letter to Press Council chairman David Weisbrot, Mr Whittaker wrote yesterday that Ms McGrath’s appointment “has destroyed our confidence in the council’s decisions”.

Because she is deputy chair of an activist organisation “she is not an appropriate person to sit on the council and judge the independence, accuracy and objectivity of journalists”, Mr Whittaker’s letter said. “To ask journalists to submit to judgment from such a person is deeply insulting and her appointment makes a mockery of the council’s task of independently adjudicating complaints against member news organisations.”

Senior journalists across the nation’s wide spectrum of media outlets also criticised Ms McGrath’s appointment and the perceived conflict of interest it raised.

Ben Cubby, editor of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Monday-to-Friday print edition, tweeted that it seemed “weird that political ­activists would be appointed to oversee and potentially police the press. Not good.”

Chief political correspondent of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age James Massola tweeted: “How can the deputy chair of GetUp!, which actively campaigns against one side of politics, be on the Press Council?”

Ben Eltham, national affairs correspondent of the left-leaning media outlet New Matilda also ­objected. “Disastrous decision. A GetUp! campaigner should not be on the Press Council, any more than someone from the IPA,” he said on Twitter.

The Press Council yesterday continued to defend Ms McGrath’s appointment, saying it was aware of its duties to disclose potential conflicts of interest and had a long history of successfully — and conservatively — managing conflicts to avoid any suggestion of bias.

“In the case of Carla McGrath, Australian Press Council chair Professor David Weisbrot specifically flagged the issue of perceived or actual conflicts of interest as a result of her multiple board and leadership roles and her long history of community engagement and advocacy on a range of issues, including indigenous and youth affairs,” a spokeswoman said.

“The issue was canvassed at length at the May meeting of council. Following that discussion, the overwhelming majority of the council members was satisfied that any potential conflicts of interest could be successfully ­managed, and Ms McGrath’s appointment was made.”

The spokeswoman said that as a new public member of the council, Ms McGrath would not sit on an adjudication panel for six to 12 months. “It is not anticipated that Ms McGrath will be assigned to adjudicate complaints until early to mid-2018, and all such assignments take into account potential conflict of interest issues.”

A spokesman for Fairfax Media confirmed the publisher voted in favour of Ms McGrath’s appointment. News Corp, publisher of The Australian, voted against. “Fairfax sees the Press Council as a broad church inclusive of many diverse voices. We voted in favour of Ms McGrath’s appointment. We expect anyone involved in adjudicating Press Council matters to perform their duties with professionalism and impartiality,” the Fairfax spokesman said. “The Press Council has indicated that it would not allow anyone with a conflict of interest to adjudicate stories.”


Don’t get hysterical over Trump’s Paris pullout

By business columnist Terry McCrann

Good. Or great. Either will do.

That’s the first and most basic thing to be said about President Trump’s decision to take the US out of the so-called Paris Climate Accord — more accurately titled, the Fake Paris Climate Accord.

Why “fake”? Because it’s got absolutely nothing to do with doing anything to the climate, if indeed that was even possible.

It was at best an exercise in pretending to do something — for those who’ve been listening to the madness over the years, a desperate attempt to recover from and to avoid another Copenhagen debacle.

Remember (very chilly) Copenhagen? Back in 2009 when a former prime minister named Kevin joined thousands of true believers spewing carbon dioxide flying into “Hopenhagen” only to slink away, spewing yet more CO2, from “Copenfloppen”?

Even one of the original promoters and most fervent believers in the whole global warming/climate change claim — indeed arguably the promoter/believer — James Hansen, has called the Paris Accord a “fraud”.

So fake or fraud, and indeed both, it was also an exercise in transferring hundreds of billions of dollars from the developed world to the developing world, and then back into Swiss bank accounts.

It was also designed to keep the great climate change boondoggle gravy train rolling on through wind and solar farms and Tesla-inspired batteries (and pumped hydro?) to the next CO2-belching climate conference.

So at its most basic and its most valuable, President Trump was making a statement in favour of sanity. He was also making a statement against fraudulence, hypocrisy, dishonesty and waste, stupidity and pointless US (and indeed global) economic impoverishment.

To my mind that’s a pretty good statement to be made.

So what does that say about our Prime Minister’s response, his “Singapore Sling”, that for him and Australia, we at least would always have Paris?

You could not have asked for a more straightforward announcement of total unfitness for the office: a PM making a statement in favour of insanity; in favour of fraudulence, hypocrisy, dishonesty and waste, stupidity and pointless Australian impoverishment.

It was also a proud, if utterly clueless, restatement of Turnbull’s “Trump Denialism”, that we have a PM who refuses to accept the reality of a Trump presidency. That in the bizarre cognitive dissonance that appears to be Turnbull’s brain we will live in a world of a Clinton presidency.

Another of those — a lengthening queue — who can no longer ever be PM, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, actually made Turnbull’s Trump Denialism official with his emphasis yesterday that we had gone out of our way to publicly sign on to Paris the day after Trump won the election.

Yes, Josh, we did, in stunning unnecessary stupidity. Forget the climate change argument, denying the more basic reality of a Trump presidency and a Trump administration is not a very sensible policy foundation for a PM, government and individual ministers to adopt.

It should be instructive to the (quivering) vegetables (reference: the late Maggie Thatcher) around PM and E & E minister on the front bench and behind them on the backbench. What more evidence do they need of the total hopelessness of Turnbull? That he has to go and go quickly?

That if they won’t re-embrace Tony Abbott, on the basis of abandoning either Paris or Australia’s punitive pointless CO2 emission cuts — yes, signed up to, but not formally committed to, by Abbott as PM — that they must go back to a Peter Costello future?

The reality — not the opinion, not the hope, not the real denialism that sees China’s coal-fired power stations being turned into wind and solar farms and batteries by some 21st century version of turning water into wine — is that we have the two biggest CO2 emitters now effectively out of Paris.

The US emits around 20 per cent of global emissions. China, which emits closer to 30 per cent, is allowed to keep increasing its emissions on a totally uncapped basis through 2030 inside Paris.

But surely, China says, hand on collective heart: trust us, we might even start cutting them. Indeed, we are making huge, huge investments in wind turbines and solar panels.

Yes, China is; in an impressive inversion of Lenin’s observation that the Western democracies would sell the Soviet Union the rope with which it would hang them, China is more than happy to enrich itself by selling us the turbines and solar panels to impoverish ourselves.

And this, of course, is before mentioning that none of the Paris commitments or non-commitments are binding anyway. After Copenfloppen, which tried to make them binding, this was the only way anyone would have Paris.

But I have to say I am at a loss to understand why anyone needs Paris? We are told, most immediately by Alan Kohler in this paper, that: “solar and wind power costs are at the point of becoming cheaper than coal and gas, without the RET, and in some places already are, and battery prices are collapsing”.

So why won’t the CO2 emissions, for purposes of discussion, “problem” solve itself?

If wind and solar are going to be cheaper than coal, why won’t the good old profit motive ensure that all new power generation, again for purposes of discussion, is wind and solar?

If we are all going to be driving electric cars, plugged into wind turbines and solar panels, demand for oil, coal and even gas will evaporate.

So why this insistence we must have mandatory targets for wind and solar? Why does anyone need to commit to CO2 emission reductions; they are going to plunge anyway?

Why the frenzy of hysteria in the wake of Trump’s announcement, that as a consequence it won’t just be Watts LA that burns, baby, burns, but the entire planet?

Somehow I am unconvinced that in fact, if the future is South Australia, we are going back to a 19th century future.

President Trump wants to keep the US in the 21st century. Do we want to stay there too?


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

PB said...

I have to acknowledge your opening comments on the Margaret Court nonsense. They are very good. The Bible says what it says, no matter how inconvenient.