Fifteen items on child abuse and biblical ethics appear below:
1 Anglicans Ignored the Bible No. 83 Anonymous 2 Sex, The Governor General and The Bible No. 84 J H Williams 3 Church Child Abuse and The Bible No. 85 Anonymous 4 Immorality/Asteroid-Impact Link No.85 Anonymous 5 Australian Laws Older Than Two Centuries No. 86 H Edwards 6 Law, Child Abuse and the Law of Moses No. 87 Anonymous 7 Law and the Law of Moses No. 88 H Edwards 8 Reply to Edwards on Child Abuse No. 89 Anonymous 9 Reply to Anonymous No. 90 H Edwards 10 The Bible is Relevant in Ethics No. 91 Anonymous 11 Anonymous Cornered No. 92 H Edwards 12 The Statistical Data Decides No. 93 Anonymous 13 Ancient Ethics Not Relevant No. 95 H Edwards 14 Child Abuse and Obfuscation No. 96 Anonymous 15 Reply to Anon on Obfuscation
No. 97 H Edwards
ANGLICANS IGNORED THE BIBLE
(Investigator 83, 2002 March)
On Australian Story (Channel 2, February 18) the Governor General – formerly the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane – seemed to condone an incident in which a married priest, aged 27, had sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Explaining in the interview why the priest was not dismissed Dr Peter Hollingworth said, "My belief is that this was not sex abuse, there was no suggestion of rape, or anything like that, quite the contrary. My information is that it was the other way around…"
The incident occurred 40 years ago in a church-run hostel.
Dr Hollingworth's statement implied the girl had been a willing participant – even a predatory female – and he supported his claim by stating that as adults the girl and priest resumed a relationship. (Apparently it resumed when the woman sought counselling for depression.)
Australia-wide criticism followed Dr Hollingworth's remarks since by definition an adult having sex with an under-aged girl commits child abuse. West Australian Premier Geoff Gallop, for example, said Dr Hollingworth should resign.
In the furore over this issue I've not seen anyone stating what the Bible says, which is:"But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral… Do not even eat with such a one… Drive out the wicked person among you."The Bible also teaches that in the last judgment "fornicators" (persons who practice pre-marital sex) get the same punishment as murderers. (Revelation 21:8) Nor is this unfair. In the article The Bible, Science and Sex Relationships (#48) I showed that immoral conduct causes more devastation than all wars combined – even in the 20th century when we had antibiotics!
(1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
The Biblical answer, then, is that the fornicating priest should have been dismissed.
Furthermore, the Bible tells Christians to obey the secular authorities whenever God's commands are not compromised. Since a 14-year-old is under the legal age of consent the priest should have been reported to the police.
Had Anglican leaders followed the Bible – the textbook which as "Christians" they're obliged to follow – Dr Hollingworth might now be Governor-General without embarrassment.
Anonymous – SA
SEX, THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL
AND THE BIBLE
John H Williams
(Investigator 84, 2002 May)
I write in response to Anonymous' letter in #83, regarding our Gov'r General. As I write (7/3), Dr Hollingworth is still in office, but the controversy seems likely to continue.
I agree with Anonymous' presentation of the case's facts, but not his interpretation. Not for the first time, I express distaste for his judgemental and moralistic views which he supports with the selective use of Biblical quotations. Obviously, the reason he has "not seen anyone stating what the Bible says" is because the Australian public is assessing the issue in a secular way, realising the futility, and the wrongness, of using the Bible in a literal manner to damn wrong-doers.
The priest who had sex with the 14-year-old girl ought, to have been dismissed and reported to the police for the offence of carnal knowledge. Whatever the Bible says – and it says many somewhat conflicting things, for example the wide disparity between the views of Jesus and Paul – is irrelevant because we have laws. We've moved some way from ancient prejudices and crude punitive customs. One supposes that a truly Christian system would include compassion, tolerance and some forgiveness, a bit lacking in those of the 'eye-for-an-eye' school.
The crime was serious and a significant punishment, after mitigation, would have occurred. Having 'avoided' the sentence, by committing a 'mortal sin', some would imagine that, for 'him', Hell's flames would be doubly hot.
I've looked at Revelation 21:8. My King James says:"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable (yetis?), and murderers, and whoremongers…and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death."
A bit hard on scared skeptics and fibbers, one would think, but it's just another wildly apocalyptic warning of those longed-for end times when all would be judged.
Also, just like other species, we die, and the 'let's scare people into believing' 'second death' in the bowels of an active volcano ('Hell') is but a figment of literalists'/fundamentalists' fervid imagination. Of course, the self-righteous have the 'extra insurance' of facing up to Judgement day with a clean sheet, so they believe that the part of them that remains extant after the "dust to dust" bit will be 'saved'.
Anonymous mentioned an article he once wrote (in #48) which "showed that immoral conduct causes more devastation than all wars combined". Since I strongly disagree with this, I believe that he ought to have used the words 'attempted to show', since the selected data to 'prove' something about which he clearly has a powerful bee in his moralistic bonnet, so his figures and thus his thesis are highly suspect.
Anonymous persists in propagating a mis-truth, that the Bible is a 'textbook' with a particular teaching purpose, when even the non-expert can see the inconsistencies, as well as the folly of a mind set that applies apparently 'God-given' (which assumes one exists) ancient rules and 'laws' to contemporary issues.
CHILD ABUSE and THE BIBLE
(Investigator 85, 2002 July)"Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." (Matthew 19:14)
The problem of child sexual abuse by clergy sprang to world attention this year (2002) with the televising of the sentencing of a priest who abused 130 boys during 30 years. The priest's bishop had reassigned the priest to parish after parish after each abuse became known and silenced the victims with bribes.
Many churches have a history of sexual abuse of children and of denial regarding its occurrence:
Australia: About 100 Catholic and Anglican clergy convicted of child sex abuse in the past five years. In Queensland one victim received $830,000 compensation from the Anglican Church and dozens more are suing.
Canada: Several Anglican dioceses went bankrupt and closed down due to compensation payments. Over 2,000 compensation claims have been filed by Indians alone.
England: Twenty-one priests convicted in the past 7 years.
Ireland: Irish taxpayers are contributing 1/5 of $500 million to pay off claims by 3,000 victims covering 30 years.
USA: About 2000 Catholic priests have been disgraced including about 1200 legal proceedings. The Church has paid $1000million in 17 years on court settlements, lawyers, hush-money and treatment (US$350 per day) for pervert priests.
In April, 2002, there were hundreds of priestly resignations, firings and settlements in dozens of countries and the Pope called American Cardinals to the Vatican to organise a policy change.
Child sexual abuse is also endemic in fringe religions. In America 44 students of seven Hare Krishna boarding schools filed a $A675 million lawsuit for child abuse in America and India. The abuse started in 1972 at the cult's first school in Dallas and allegedly eventually affected 1,000 children. (Herald Sun, June 14, 2000 p.43) The cult has since filed for bankruptcy.
Christianity Today (March 5, 2001) interviewed Jehovah's Witness abuse victims and added:Witness spokesman Brown says that the incidence of paedophilia is no worse in his religion than in others, but he admits that some elders have not reported suspicions of abuse…The Coloradoan (February 11, 2001) reported on a JW elder facing excommunication for demanding that church leaders acknowledge complaints of abuse victims.
Jim Whitney, 49, formerly a Witness elder says… "Pedophiles know that any confession they make is concealed. The Witnesses don't want to bring shame to their name."
CHILD ABUSE IN SOCIETY
Child sexual abuse in the community vastly exceeds the abuse by ministers of religion. Community awareness started in the late 1970s due to TV discussions and stories in women's magazines.
Freda Briggs, consultant for the Victoria Police, said in 1985:In most Western societies, it has become an endemic problem…one in four girls and one in nine boys in the US are sexually abused by adults before the age of 18…A 1987 study of 104 cases of kids assessed for abuse in hospital and which went to court: "only five resulted in conviction and these abusers received good-behaviour bonds or suspended sentences." (Haynes, 1995)
Recently we read of a teacher who boasted of abusing 2000 boys…yet the judge released him on a five-year bond commenting, according to the Press report, that the boys had "probably enjoyed the sex acts."
Defending lawyers often accuse children of lying or behaving seductively… They expect children to fight their abusers, not taking account of the disparity in size, weight, authority…
But law courses deal with intricacies of law rather than the norms of child development and the victim is victimised again in the legal process. (Briggs 1985)
What about child abuse in the Muslim world? Burns (1994) writes:When one considers the Qur'anic punishments against fornication and adultery, one would think that promiscuity and sex crime in Islam would be minimal. However rape and child abuse are not, in most cases, reported. The reason is that the "victim is blamed": a stigma is attached to having been defiled. For example a study into sexual aggression by grown up men on female children or young girls showed that nearly half of them had been sexually abused in Muslim Egypt – a figure of 45% compared to the United States figures of 24%.If available estimates apply generally, then worldwide over 1,000 million people experienced sexual abuse as youngsters.
For child abuse to be so extensive the medical and psychological professions must have colluded besides the legal system. The Kinsey Reports, published in two books by Alfred Kinsey, helped spark the "sexual revolution". It's now claimed that:Kinsey obtained photos and film of children engaged in sexual acts from adults who had had sex with them. Kinsey never notified the law of the existence of any of these paedophiles. (Wildavsky, 1997)The paedophile movement often quotes Kinsey in its effort to get paedophilia accepted as a valid sexual orientation. (Reisman & Eichel 1990)
Most child sexual abuse occurs in the home but there's also child prostitution:The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are at least one million child prostitutes in Asia alone…Consequences to victims of sexual abuse include lifelong emotional problems, damaged sexual development, pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, low self esteem, depression, poor school results, prostitution and criminal conduct. If 1 billion people are affected the financial costs to society must be incredible.
The agency says 300,000 children are involved in prostitution in the United States. It estimates one million children join the ranks of the sexually exploited each year globally. (The Weekend Australian 1996)
There is a clerical culture of protection of clergy and the institution. Many child-abusing priests were forgiven by bishops and reassigned to another parish.
Most priests work well with parents who respect them and happily entrust their children to them. Priests are also in positions of power and moral authority. They can define right and wrong and tell a child, "It's OK. It's only a sin if you tell anyone." The result has been extraordinary betrayals. One priest of 50 years in Victoria is estimated to have abused 2000 children commencing in 1946. Church leaders knew but took no action:But the scandal is not just about the abuse…it's the conspiracy in the church hierarchy to hide it.Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, America's most powerful Catholic, shared in the cover-up. In 1997 he supported one priest's bid to run a guesthouse housing teenagers – a priest known to approve of incest, paedophilia and bestiality and who had abuse allegations stretching back to 1960s.
When confronted by victims, the church practice has been to pay compensation – hundreds of millions of dollars – in exchange for silence. Then it allowed some priests to continue their crimes, sacrificing children for the church's reputation. (Eccleston, 2002)
In May Cardinal Law repudiated one financial settlement reached with Church victims of abuse because new cases threatened the Church's ability to meet escalating payouts.
The evidence is that in every American diocese Cardinals knew of child abuse by priests and did nothing.
Rainbow Sash, an organization promoting homosexual rights, is using the scandal as leverage in its campaign for Church acceptance. The abuse scandal has weakened the Catholic Church's moral authority in every area.
An excuse some church officials use is that they had no guidelines regarding sexual abuse of children. Canon Law (1917; revised 1983) has only one clause against paedophilia:A cleric who has offended…with a minor under the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants. (Book VI, Clause 1395)The "just penalties" were left up to the bishops.
Was there no other guidance? The basis and sourcebook of Christianity is The Bible. The Bible does not have the words "child abuse" or "paedophilia". However, it does say:In everything do to others as you would have them do to you… (Matthew 7:12)Both these Scriptures clearly rule-out child abuse.
"You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)
The Bible teaches:But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral... Do not even eat with such a one... Drive out the wicked person among you. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)The Bible does not distinguish an "age of consent". Sexual immorality – including premarital sex, homosexual practise, prostitution, sexual abuse of children or of adults, bestiality, etc – are wrong irrespective of age. Immoral, child-abusing clerics should be removed from their positions and association with them ended – "Drive out the wicked person…"
What about the excuse that church leaders were not aware child abusers would re-offend? It's a common observation that anyone who gets away with wrongdoing feels rewarded by getting away and will likely re-offend:Because sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the human heart is fully set to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11)We see this principle at work in thievery, drink-driving, lying, drug-trafficking, gambling, adultery, etc. Unless stopped by force perpetrators often continue. Church authorities therefore knew from observation and The Bible that many child abusers would re-offend unless stopped.
What about bribing victims of abuse to keep quiet? Bible statements on bribery mainly concern judges and rulers who take bribes:Surely oppression makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart. (Ecclesiastes 6:7)The Bible reasons for opposing bribery – "corrupts the heart" and "pervert the ways of justice" – are also true of "hush money" paid to sexual-abuse victims or their parents. Furthermore, Jesus foretold a time when every secret is revealed (Matthew 10:26) and if this is believed it's incompatible with paying "hush-money".
Those who walk blamelessly…do not take a bribe against the innocent. (Psalm 15:2-5)
The wicked accept a concealed bribe to pervert the ways of justice. (Proverbs 17:23)
Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. (Isaiah 1:23)
Secrecy associated with child abuse usually also requires disobeying the commands to be truthful:Do not lie to one another… (Colossians 3:9Bishops who acquitted child-hurting priests and so subjected children to further hurt ignored this proverb:
Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil… (Proverbs 12:20)One who justifies the wicked and one who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)The Bible also teaches obedience to governing authorities whenever the laws of God are not compromised:Let every person be subject to the governing authorities… (Romans 13)Therefore every child-abusing priest should have been reported to the police in every country with laws against child-abuse.
The Bible uses children as examples of innocence. That's why it calls adult Christians "beloved children", "little children", "children of light", "children of God" and "obedient children":Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:14-16)Forcing shame, guilt and sex on children is inconsistent with them being examples of innocence to adults.
Jesus taught:Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven… Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:4)Sexually abused children usually reject the religion wherein they were abused. They no longer feel "welcome" in Jesus' name:If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
UNMARRIED SEX HARMFUL
John H Williams (#84) interpreted my quote from Revelation 21:8 as "let's scare people into believing". However, he's wrong. It reads:But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Some commands in the Bible applied temporarily to a few people. Jesus' command to Peter to walk on the water, for example, applied to one person on one occasion.
Other commands are intended universally. Whether there really will be eternal punishment is irrelevant in the present discussion. I cited Revelation 21:8 not to "scare" – since to unbelievers it would be an empty threat – but to establish that in the Bible sexual immorality (fornication) is permanently, not temporarily, prohibited.
Furthermore, the ethics and commands in the Bible are for the benefit of humankind. They are intended to promote the goods everyone values but often fails to achieve such as long life, health, peace, sound mind, good relationships, happiness and prosperity:Hear, my son and accept my words,Therefore many values taught in the Bible are scientifically testable by testing whether they promote life, health and peaceful relationships. Consider, for example, "Abstain from immorality". Sexual immorality killed over 200 million people in the 20th century and led to even more abortions – compared to about 150 million deaths by all 20th-century wars. Around 1990 the World Health Organization estimated sexually transmitted disease at 250 million cases per year. Hence my comment – "more devastation than all wars combined…" (#83 p. 5) Scenes of bombed cities and destroyed military equipment portray the waste of war. The cost of immorality is less vividly seen because it's ongoing and built into the cost of daily life and of running societies.
That the years of you life may be many…
For they are life to him who finds them,
And healing to all his flesh. (Proverbs 4:10, 22)
Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)
Shun immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
AIDS alone now takes 3 million lives per year. Initially AIDS was spread by sexual immorality – heterosexual and homosexual. Six million new HIV infections now occur annually. Life expectancy in 35 African countries is decreasing. In part it's a gift from the West:The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s in the West spread globally and penetrated Africa. Some of the traditional and very sound cultural constraints that were present to curb promiscuity were broken down. (Morgan, 2000)As argued in Investigator 48 sexual relations without enforceable responsibility and commitment weakens the emotional bonding process and mutual adaptations necessary for stable relationships. Premarital sex is, therefore, the first step to breaking up and hence to problems that often accompany (or augment) breaking-up such as anger, violence, adultery, suicide, psychiatric illnesses, financial distress, murder, depression and child abuse.
The authors of The Myth of Safe Sex (1993) foresee a time when the survival of society will require making non-marital sex illegal and jailing publishers of pornographic magazines.
Williams rightly says that Australians should obey the law against child abuse but he's wrong in claiming the Bible is irrelevant. Modern Australia with its laws has existed two centuries and like all societies it will eventually end. The Bible, however, spans time, place and language and offers guidance to all humankind.
Furthermore, with adultery and defacto, bisexual and homosexual relationships now acceptable perhaps child abuse will eventually also be accepted as a lawful, "natural orientation" and experts present "safe" ways to do it. After all, it was lawful in ancient Greece. People who disapprove might then face labels like "paedophobes" and "paedophobia". If so the Bible's guidance to the contrary will still be here.
The scandalous thing in all this is the betrayal by "Christians" who ignored their Christian role of being examples of right conduct. Back in 1993 the director of South Australia's Sexual Offenders Treatment and Assessment Program complained that the churches ignored the law and his treatment program. He said, "In my opinion the churches are harboring child abusers by not sending them to us for treatment." (Church, 1993)
The Bible teaches that every teaching, every individual and every authority contrary to God will be proven wrong and fail and eventually pass away:No wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, can avail against the LORD. (Proverbs 21:30)We see this in the defeat of ancient idolatry, the demise of the Roman Empire, the decline of slavery and polygamy, the defeat of Nazism and Communism, the deaths of millions from immorality, the Bible's many victories in conflicts with science, and currently in religions facing bankruptcy for child abuse. A copy of The Bible may cost only $10 but principles taught therein are worth $billions! In April the Pope declared:People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young. Such abuse is by every standard wrong and is rightly considered a crime by society. It is also an appalling sin in the eyes of God.
Human laws change and societies and governments pass away. The Bible, however, teaches values and beliefs that promote human good and which therefore endure and eventually prevail.
Briggs, F. Sexual Abuse of Children: the frightening truth. The Advertiser (Saturday Review), July 20, 1985, p. 8.
Briggs, F. 1986. Child Sexual Abuse. Pitman, Australia. p.12.
Burns, R. E. 1994. The Wrath of Allah. A. Ghosh, USA. p. 136.
Canon Law: www.ourladyswarriors.org/canon
Church, J. Fallen ‘angels'. Sunday Mail, April 4, 1993, p. 132.
Eccleston, R. Priest was evil one, says cover-up victim. The Weekend Australian, April 20-21, 2002, p. 16.
Haynes, A. Child Molesting. Reader's Digest, May 1995, pp. 39-44.
James, C. Sins of Silence. The Advertiser, March 23, 2002, p. 65.
Kelly, P. Dirty little secret's out. The Weekend Australian, May 18, 2002.
Mawyer, M. 1987. Silent Shame. Crossway Books, USA.
Merriman, J. Few recognize full extent of child abuse. Sunday Mail, May 6, 2001, p.18.
Morgan, T.C. Sexual Revolution Speeds Spread of HIV Among Africans. Christianity Today, February 1, 2000, p. 39.
NRSV Reference Bible. 1993. Zondervan Bible Publishers, USA.
Reisman, J. A. & Eichel, E.W. 1990. Kinsey, Sex and Fraud. Lochinvar, USA. pp. 4, 205-214
The Weekend Australian, April 20-21, 1996, p. 9.
Wildavsky, R. Sex, Lies and the Kinsey Reports. Reader's Digest, July 1997, pp. 125-130.
(Investigator 85, 2002 July)
In the 1890s Freud researched the psychiatric condition "hysteria". Symptoms may include blindness, deafness, loss of voice, vomiting, paralysis, epilepsy, etc. The symptoms had no organic basis and were resistant to treatment.
Most of the sufferers told of sexual abuse or seduction in childhood by fathers. Freud noted this in 1896 but did not publicly promote this finding again. It's probable that Freud's own father abused Freud's brother and sisters and Freud was unwilling to face this. Therefore he dismissed reports of seducing fathers as "defensive fictions". He replaced the seduction theory with the "Oedipus complex" whereby children have incestuous desire for the parent of opposite sex and fantasies of being seduced.
Florence Rush (1980) writes: "the world listened to Freud and paid little heed to the sexual abuse of the young." (The Best Kept Secret, p. 96) She shows that up to 25% of females and 9% of males are sexually abused in childhood with devastating medical and psychological consequences upon millions of victims.
Every evil that imposes heavy costs on society – such as immorality, sexual abuse, war, lies, crime, theft, terrorism, etc – reminds me of Bible prophecies that state: "because of these things the wrath of God is coming…" (Ephesians 5:1-6)
That "wrath", the Bible says, includes our whole planet on fire with every human construction destroyed. (2 Peter 3)
In Asteroids and their Impact (#62) I showed that by 1990 scientists were starting to realize that future world-wide destruction by asteroid impact is inevitable and could set the world on fire. There is also risk of smaller impacts – ones that humans could stop if they had warning and also prepared the technology.
Hence I viewed with alarm the closure, in 1996 by the Howard Government, of Australia's observatory for tracking Earth-threatening asteroids.
The closure saved Australia $1million per year – 5 cents per person. Yet payments to American sex-abuse victims by the Catholic Church has totalled $1000 million. War, crime, sexual immorality, etc, cost much more.
Humans put great effort into doing wrong and paying greatly for it, but they don't divert the paltry amounts needed to save Earth from asteroids. This implies direct links between human evil and negligence and possible sudden worldwide destruction. The Bible made that link – now science can too.
OLDER THAN TWO CENTURIES
(Investigator 86, 2002 September)
Anonymous, in his rebuttal of John William's contention that the Bible is irrelevant when it comes to law, says (#85, p22), "Modern Australia with its laws has existed two centuries... The Bible, however, spans time, place and language and offers guidance to all mankind."
The implication that Australia's "youth" somehow deprecates the integrity of its laws is fatuous. Although the continent may have only been settled for two centuries the laws governing it are much older.
With the exception of those laws to suit the particular requirements of Australian society, our laws are based on the common law of England, and many laws are identical with those laid down in acts of the British parliament.
The Australian legal system has, along with other modern Western legal systems, descended from ancient Roman law and ancient Germanic tribal law, and has been altered by various ecclesiastical, feudal, commercial and modem sociopolitical influences. Australian laws therefore are somewhat older than the two centuries averred to by Anonymous. In fact, they pre-date the New Testament.
As society has evolved its laws have evolved along with it. Those in the Bible however, have stagnated for thousands of years and, as John Williams opines, are totally irrelevant. Take a look at those listed in my article "God knows what's best." (#84).
LAW, CHILD ABUSE,
AND THE LAW OF MOSES
(Investigator 87, 2002 November)
I argued (in #85) that societies come and go and new laws get thought up and many older laws get revised or discarded. Amidst such continual change in law in hundreds of societies, not just in Australia, the Bible remains relatively constant and widely available. And its guidance on ethics is often far ahead of what came afterwards.
My point, therefore, was not that, "Australia's youth somehow deprecates the integrity of its laws…(Edwards, #86 p.5) Rather the point was that the Bible is an enduring source of advice on right conduct when governments, legal institutions and the professions of medicine, religion and psychology fail.
The area of failure I focussed on was child sexual abuse. Despite the vast scope of the problem – probably a billion child victims during the 20th century – it was ignored by most authorities and most intellectuals in most places most of the time. The Bible, although not using the phrase "child sexual abuse", teaches clear principles that rule out this practice. (See #85)
I don't dispute Mr Edwards' short account of the origin of Australian law. His criticism of my statement "Modern Australia with its laws has existed two centuries" is a point of grammar. The "two centuries" is correct when considering both concepts together – modern Australia AND its laws. It also allows for the many laws modern Australia never had such as laws relating to trial by combat and interrogation of witches.
Edwards also reminded readers of his critique (in #84) of the Law of Moses. That Law was a "covenant" or legal contract between God and Israel – "He has not dealt thus with any other nation." (Psalm 147:20) The New Testament teaches that the Law was "abolished" (Ephesians 2:11-16) Yet it also teaches that, "All Scripture [this would include the Law of Moses] is … profitable … for training in righteousness … for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16)
The question of how the Law of Moses can be both abolished yet profitable – profitable despite clauses in it that no one would want to follow now – is worth further investigation.
Law and the Law of Moses
(Investigator 88, 2003 January)
Re Anonymous' comments (#87) where he says, "...the Bible remains relatively constant... and its guidance is often far ahead of what comes afterwards."
In view of the fact that apart from politically motivated revisions the Bible has remained unaltered for about two thousand years, to say that it is "constant" (out dated and irrelevant would be more to the point) is to state the obvious!
However, to claim that "its guidance or advice is often far ahead…" and that "it is an enduring source of advice on right conduct…" really needs some explaining.
Where in the Bible would I get guidance or advice on genetic engineering, IVF, euthanasia, vivisection, corporal and capital punishment, blood sports, the rights of minorities, homosexuality, multi-nationalism, Capitalism v Communism, terrorism vs freedom fighters, and nuclear weapons just to mention a few ethical controversies?
Anonymous concludes by suggesting that it is worth investigating "how the Law of Moses can be both abolished yet profitable?" Why bother? It's simply another of the Bible's litany of contradictions.
Harry Edwards – NSW
REPLY TO EDWARDS ON CHILD ABUSE
(Investigator 89, 2003 March)
I showed in Investigator No. 85 that the Bible teaches many clear principles that rule out child sexual abuse. Harry Edwards (#88 p.5) now wants the Bible's conclusions on genetic engineering, vivisection and other ethical issues.
There are hundreds of conflicts between humans and the Bible in the areas of ethics and science. In each disagreement I wait until I either have a collection of information on it or until the disagreement seems settled.
The child abuse issue seems settled in that public and media sentiment and the law now harmonise better, than previously, with the relevant Bible principles. Hundreds of millions of child-abusers in the 20th century who ignored the Bible were in the wrong and perhaps around 1,000 million children suffered.
The most scandalous aspect in this is that thousands of priests – who should have been shining examples of right conduct – betrayed God, misrepresented the Bible and betrayed children, and many religious leaders then protected the perpetrators.
REPLY TO ANONYMOUS
(Investigator 90, 2003 May)
In #89 p5 Anonymous replies to Edwards on child abuse. This appears to be a cop-out as I have not entered into or in fact made any comment on the subject.
Although Anonymous has consistently argued that the Bible teaches many clear principles he now excuses himself by saying that he has to wait for more information to respond to the points raised in my letter. As that information won't be coming from the Bible it will have no relevance. His dilemma is that a book written in a pre-scientific era cannot respond to questions whose ethical, technological, moral, cultural and philosophical origins post date it.
I adhere to my original statement – the Bible has no relevance today for obvious reasons.
THE BIBLE IS RELEVANT IN ETHICS
(Investigator 91, 2003 July)
Harry Edwards says the Bible has "no relevance" in ethics because it's "pre-scientific". (Investigator 90 p.5) He should tell that to the 1,000 million people sexually abused as youngsters in the 20th century who would have been spared had the perpetrators obeyed the Bible!
Anyone injured or otherwise wronged – whether with a "prescientific" method like a stick or a stone, or with a modern-day gun or bomb – understands that the perpetrator violated the command "Love does no wrong to a neighbour." (Romans 13:8-10) The command is relevant irrespective of the technology available to hurt others.
In #83 I showed that Australia's Governor General, Dr Hollingworth, disregarded the Bible when, as Archbishop, he let a priest who had sex with an underage girl stay in the priesthood. Bible verses he disregarded include:I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral… Drive out the wicked person among you. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Another Bible teaching is that Christians should obey secular authorities whenever God's commands are not compromised. The offending priest should, therefore, have been dismissed and also reported to the police.
Despite Australia-wide calls for Dr Hollingworth's resignation over statements (in February 2002) where he justified himself by blaming the girl more than the priest the GG chose to tough it out.
In May 2003 an additional finding surfaced, that the GG had also failed to dismiss a priest who abused boys. Amidst renewed public uproar and extensive debate in Parliament Dr Hollingworth at last resigned.
Some supporters defended the GG by arguing that his "errors in judgment" occurred when child sexual abuse wasn't a great public and legal issue – he had merely acted according to the times. However, as a Christian leader he should have known of the Bible principles that rule out child sexual abuse. (See #85) Rather than reflect public apathy he should have reflected the Book that was 1,900 years ahead of the times!
Most people lack clear notions of right and wrong. "Right" consists of actions and principles that promote life, health, soundness of mind, prosperity, peaceful relationships and the long-term viability of Earth as our home, and "wrong" promotes the opposite. The Bible gives many "right" principles – those that rule out sexual abuse are among numerous examples.
The Biblical commands to do "no wrong to a neighbour" and to "do good to all" and to "be an example" would – when coupled with scientific information about risks – rule out smoking, dangerous driving and many other behaviors involving recent technology. Consequences of smoking include 300 million smoking-related deaths in the 20th century and the reduced fitness of thousands of millions. A number of religions used the Bible and taught life-promoting, health-promoting conclusions on smoking decades before the recent anti-smoking campaigns by governments.
Edwards listed other ethical issues in #88 page 5 which I may discuss another time. Meanwhile, there's The Encyclopedia of Biblical And Christian Ethics (R K Harrison 1987).
The Bible is an enduring source of guidance in 2,000 languages and is often ahead of today's laws. And that's as "relevant" as life, health and death!
(Investigator 92, 2003 September)
Anonymous has painted himself into a comer by adhering to his contention that the Bible is relevant in the 21st century. I have argued that because the Bible doesn't and indeed cannot canvas issues that post-date it, obviously it cannot be relevant.
In #89 p5 Anonymous postpones any comment until such time as he has a collection of information. This being the case this information will not be coming from the Bible and will not be relevant either.
In #91 p19 he attempts to support relevance by saying that the ‘one billion sexually abused youngsters in the 20th century would have been spared had the perpetrators obeyed the Bible.'
Perhaps Anonymous would be kind enough to provide a break-down of the figure and its source.
As for observing the command in Romans 13:8-10 it is hardly consistent or in keeping with God's ‘utterly repugnant' commands we read elsewhere in the Bible.
THE STATISTICAL DATA DECIDES
(Investigator 93, 2003 November)
Edwards thinks the Bible is "irrelevant" on every issue that "postdates" it. (#92 p.5)
In contrast I maintain that ethical rules that promote health are "relevant" to people who want to be healthy – irrespective of how ancient the rules are. And this is the way the Bible is relevant in ethics – it gives information that promotes human health and welfare if obeyed. Conversely, if Edwards considers the teaching of health-promoting principles "irrelevant", in what way is it irrelevant?
We could, however, avoid talk of "relevance" and merely investigate what results different principles would produce if obeyed:
I previously estimated – by extrapolating from surveys – that around 1,000 million people in the 20th century were sexually abused as youngsters. I showed that Bible principles and ethics rule out sexual abuse. Bible principles also rule out cigarette smoking, an activity that killed 300 million people in the 20th century.
Such investigations require getting statistical data – a "collection of information" – on the incidence of smoking and child abuse and on the consequences. Whether the Bible is correct in its claim to promote health, soundness of mind and peace is then assessed by the data. No debate about "relevance" is necessary.
ANCIENT ETHICS NOT RELEVANT
(Investigator 95, 2004 March)
I'm not quite sure where smoking comes in to the picture. (#93 p4) Smoking originated with the American Indians and was unknown in biblical times.
Alcohol is a far more dangerous drug than tobacco. Apart from the health aspects of alcoholism the disease, it causes death and destruction, breaks up relationships and is the cause of many forms of crime – rape, theft, murder, abuse and general anti-social behaviour. The Bible does not rule out alcohol, in fact it promotes it.
Anonymous attempts to avoid the issue of ‘relevance' by changing tack. He suggests, "we merely investigate what results different principles would produce if obeyed" (#93 p4 para3). That's not the point. Let's stick to the subject of ethical rules, in particular, his claim that the Bible is relevant because it promotes health and welfare. We could then ask – whose health and welfare? Those who lived in slavery at the time? The Christians who were crucified? The women and children massacred at God's behest? Diseases ‘cured' by driving out evil spirits?
Contrary to Anonymous' assertion that the Bible promotes health (for example, by telling us what to eat and what not to eat) the Bible is irrelevant because of the advances in food science, horticulture and animal husbandry. In Leviticus 11:1-42 we are told what one can eat and what one can't eat. There may have been good reasons in Biblical times why certain flesh should not be eaten, but they are not valid today. Hare rabbits, pigs, eels, crustations and snails are acceptable to most Europeans; and beetles, lizards and snakes to the Orientals. Some of the sea creatures recommended in Leviticus as edible are in fact poisonous and others to be avoided include a favourite food of the Pacific Islanders - turtles! Tell me pray, what's wrong with a tasty trout rich in Omega 3? According to Leviticus it's a forbidden scaleless fish.
I maintain the Bibles' ethical rules are not relevant in this day and age. If Anonymous considers they are, then perhaps he can direct me to its views on abortion, euthanasia, genetics, organ transplants, animal experimentation, stem cell research and the death penalty. While he will find no mention of the first six in the Bible for obvious reasons, he should find the last a fascinating exercise in convoluted reasoning – on the one hand we have "thou shalt not kill" and contradicting it on the other, the sanctioning of and/or the commanding of mass murder!
Finally, I fail to see how assessing contemporary statistical data bears out Bible principles. Today, data on just about anything and everything is available and in the absence of any data from Biblical times no comparison can be made. Twenty-first century data on smoking is irrelevant for reasons already stated and statistics on sexual abuse from the same era confirm nothing in the Bible.
Incidentally, while on the subject of smoking, perhaps Anonymous can explain why is it that some long-lived and life-long smokers don't die of tobacco related diseases? Churchill (91), Freud, (87), and George Burns (100) to mention a few. And why do so many non-smokers die of lung cancer and heart disease?
CHILD ABUSE AND OBFUSCATION
(Investigator 96, 2004 May)
TOPIC WAS FINISHED
In Investigator 83 to 85 I showed that Bible principles rule out child sexual abuse. Approximately 1,000 million youngsters in the 20th century were victims and politicians, law enforcers, religious authorities and the medical profession failed to address the problem.
Many countries have now modified their laws to better protect children and more effectively prosecute offenders. That should have been the end of that topic in Investigator. In #89 I wrote:
The child abuse issue seems settled in that public and media sentiment and the law now harmonise better, than previously, with the relevant Bible principles. Hundreds of millions of child-abusers in the 20th century who ignored the Bible were in the wrong and perhaps around 1,000 million children suffered.
Although the topic was finished Mr Edwards has drawn it out for another year.
Suppose someone discusses child abuse with his Member of Parliament and argues: "Australian law is contradictory, therefore irrelevant. It allowed massacres of Aboriginals and genocide at Hiroshima, practiced then opposed capital punishment, allows alcohol use which hurts as many people as child abuse, and killed Japanese in the 1940s and now invites them as tourists. Who's supposed to benefit from Australian laws? Massacred Aboriginals? Abused children?"
That's Mr Edward's style – bring together many unrelated topics, speak of "contradiction" when the concept doesn't apply, and keep going until simple conclusions lead on to so much confusion that readers give up. It's called "obfuscation".
ONE TOPIC AT A TIME
In my examination of the Bible I take one issue at a time, get the science on it, and form a conclusion. This procedure has shown the Bible to be correct in hundreds of disagreements in many areas of study. By sticking to the one topic of child sexual abuse, for example, I showed that the practice is wrong according to the Bible.
Edwards says, "Alcohol is far more dangerous [than tobacco smoking]" and "The Bible does not rule out alcohol." (#95 p24) Actually the Bible DOES condemn drunkenness. And drunkenness has probably caused as much damage as child sexual abuse! But that's another topic!
The food rules to Israelites under the Law of Moses are also another topic. I may examine the benefits to the Israelites, and what we today can learn from those food rules, another time. To link this topic to child abuse is obfuscation.
The Bible claims its principles promote health, peace, welfare, etc, but Edwards asks, "Whose welfare? Those who lived in slavery? The Christians crucified?" Australia has laws against drink-driving for the safety of the public. Do we dismiss such laws by exclaiming, "Whose safety? The massacred Aboriginals?" It's more obfuscation.
Edwards also accused me of "changing tack". (#95 p24) But I didn't. He was bogged down in notions about "relevance", so I simplified to exclude the concept of relevance – which readers can re-read in #93 p4.
For example consider the command, "Do not murder." People not murdered on a certain date live longer beyond that date than people murdered. We can come to this conclusion without arguing about whether being murdered or not-murdered is "relevant". By excluding notions of "relevance" we simplify, not "change tack".
Nowadays, with statistics available on seemingly everything, the effect in terms of health, longevity and peace of many Bible principles can be statistically investigated. We could investigate compassion, forgiveness, generosity, sobriety, love, hope, good-Samaritanism, etc. Edwards' comment "We don't have statistics from the first century" is another obfuscation since we don't need them. We do not, for example, need 1st century statistics to work out whether sobriety or drunkenness is better for health or whether child abuse helps or harms children.
MORE ON RELEVANCE
Edwards claims the Bible is irrelevant because it supposedly has no guidelines on "abortion, euthanasia, genetics, organ transplants, animal experimentation, stem cell research and the death penalty." (#95)
Firstly, the Bible does have principles that apply to "abortion, euthanasia, genetics, etc" but those are different topics whereas our topic is child sexual abuse.
Secondly, Edwards implies that for a document to be relevant it must discuss everything. By such a criterion every document ever written is "irrelevant".
Consider also that a document – or any other item – can be relevant in numerous ways and irrelevant in numerous other ways. Hence to call something "irrelevant", without refuting the sense in which it is relevant, is obfuscation.
In discussing child abuse I included some ways in which the Bible's counsel is "relevant":
…societies come and go and new laws get thought up and many older laws get revised or discarded. Amidst such continual change in law in hundreds of societies, not just in Australia, the Bible remains relatively constant and widely available. And its guidance on ethics is often far ahead of what came afterwards. (#87)
Child abusers are being prosecuted by thousands and public attitudes now better reflect what's in the Bible. The Bible's principles which Edwards called "stagnated" (#86 p6) have therefore triumphed. If Edwards disapproves of child sexual abuse then he is in agreement with me and with Australian law and with the Bible. And agreement ends debate.
REPLY TO ANON ON OBFUSCATION
(Investigator 97, 2004 July)
To accuse me of obfuscation, as does Anonymous in #96 p30 is the pot calling the kettle black. He labours under the erroneous impression that my contributions are about or concerned with child abuse. This is not so and never has been. Nowhere will he find any contribution of mine to that debate other than a request for him to support a statement with statistics.
My argument has been solely concerned with the relevance of the Bible today.
Anonymous has stated time and time again that the principles and guidelines in the Bible apply today, including topics such as abortion. Euthanasia, genetics, organ transplants, animal experimentation, stem cell research and the death penalty. (Page 32 Para 3). But he excuses himself from further comment by saying that these are different topics whereas our topic is child sexual abuse. I repeat – it is not.
As Anonymous likes to "take one issue at a time, get the science on it, and form a conclusion", let's take stem cell research as the next topic. What guidelines are there in the Bible and where will I find them?
Skeptics versus Bible defenders – Many debates on this website: