Update / Site problems

I’ve had a problem with my site which meant I had to update and it hasn’t gone well. My header has disappeared for a start. The carrot is not my idea. It might mean buying a new theme. Not sure how long it will take to sort. Hopefully, not too long so I can get going again. In short, it depends how soon I can work out what I’m doing.

Don’t be a ‘lost’ celebrity

A recent news feed came through with a heading that said something like ‘Year in Review 2017: Remembering those we lost this year’. Roger Moore and Hugh Hefner were mentioned specifically. It’s always surprising how many celebrities have died each year and how many I’ve not heard of and also how many I didn’t realise had died. It struck me that they used the word lost. It made me think.

I’ve written previously that I’m unhappy about using the phrase ‘lost’ for those that have died in Christ. I’m not happy about those that have died outside of Christ either. But the terrible reality for those that have died without Christ is they are truly lost in every sense of that word. How many of those celebrities are truly lost I have no idea. I’m glad I don’t know but with some (as with non-celebrities) we fear the worst.

There’s a lovely verse in the Bible that says ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10 ESV). We don’t need Christmas to remind us, that Jesus came, and that He came to seek and to save the lost. There is no specific season to remember the grace of God – we can remember that every day.

Death and sin are the great levelers. The great and the good as well as the poor and the not so good will know these realities. It doesn’t matter how large or small a person’s ‘send-off’ is. Or whether in poor simplicity or with great pomp; they are equally dead just the same. The real question isn’t whether they are lost or not as we simply do not know. The real question is whether you are lost or not. If everyone were to be saved there would be no need for the Son of God to do any seeking. But He came, not only to seek, but to save. The wonder is by the Holy Spirit He is still seeking and saving. That doesn’t sit very well with our modern ‘can do’ independent sensibilities. But it’s something we are familiar with. Recruitment agencies ‘Headhunt’ the best candidates, usually for high-end positions. The Son of God is seeking sinners. That’s the only qualification He’s looking for – a realisation of sinfulness and of lostness.

Thankfully our lostness can be turned into foundness by the saving power of The Lord Christ. Many will know the first verse of John Newton’s hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. But if not, here it is:

Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

One of the most well known stories Jesus told is the Prodigal (wasteful) son and how this son went into the far country. But his father looked for his son and eventually embraced him exclaiming, ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate’ (Luke 15:24).

The theme of being lost and being found is a wonderful redemptive theme. Its wonder is found in the reality of what The Lord Jesus Christ has done for sinners. The Prodigal son was aware of his great unworthiness as he fell at the feet of his Father. It’s a great picture of poor lost unworthy sinners coming to Christ for salvation. And it’s to Him, and only to Him, we must come. As the Bible says ‘… there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). No one else has done what Christ has done to redeem sinners, and no one else is mighty to save.

It’s unlikely a celebrity will be reading this, but if you are one, then you too along with the poorest most unlikely sinners may and must flee to Christ. Then trusting only in His great Redeeming work upon the Cross like John Newton, and every other Christian through the ages, you may also be found instead of being lost.

From Glory to earth He came!

While at a funeral recently we were told that now the deceased is experiencing the Glories of heaven they would not want to come back to this life. It makes perfect sense. Who in their right mind after living in this world of sorrow and death would want to come back after knowing the fullness of joy in heaven. I’ve heard this said many times at funerals. ‘They wouldn’t want to come back here!’ And yet, this is exactly what The Lord Jesus Christ did. Completely in His right mind He purposefully and deliberately left heaven to dwell among sinners. But much more than that. This was no sightseeing visit. The Bible says ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief’ (Paul). This is what the Incarnation is about. God came in the flesh (took a human body) not to visit but to die. We tend to sentimentalise it and lose the impact and the truth of what God was doing through The Lord Jesus. Although we remember and celebrate that He came down from earth to heaven, if we keep Him in the manger then the purpose of His coming will be lost on us. The Wise men and the shepherds worshipped the King of glory. They weren’t worshipping a baby. Not only did He come to die, but in dying – and rising – He secured eternal salvation (the forgiveness of sins and peace with God) for all those that believe on The Lord Jesus Christ. Unless your faith is in what Christ has done, it won’t matter how much you enjoy Christmas you’ll be lost. Perhaps Christmas is all humbug to you and is for you just a time when silly Christians try to sing carols. Just because you think it all stuff and nonsense has absolutely no bearing on its truthfulness or your need of a Saviour. Whether ‘religious’ or not, this Saviour who is born Christ the Lord must be your Saviour for there is no one else to whom we may go.

Thank You David: An Encouragement to Pray

Years ago I used to play snooker regularly at a local club and spent a lot of time in that smoke filled room. One of the men I played with a lot was a man named David. David was an epileptic and often could be seen drooling down his beard. Not a pretty sight. He was a regular at the club and from memory I had the impression he was tolerated more than befriended. I got on with him ok and would have a few frames with him. The detail is a little hazy as is the order of events. Nevertheless, at some point after becoming a Christian David told me he had been praying for me. Whether his comment about praying for me didn’t register I can’t remember but I do remember trying to find David to thank him. I asked in the Christian Bookshop. I enquired at the snooker club. David was not to be found. I never saw him again. But I have not forgotten him. I have never forgotten that when I was lost and without Christ David prayed. For me.

Now here’s the point, or points.

1. What’s remarkable is that I’m quite sure David never spoke to me about The Gospel or about The Lord Jesus or of my need of a Saviour. He never ‘witnessed’ to me. Others did, but he didn’t.

2. Despite the fact he never spoke the Gospel to me I had a great sense of thankfulness, even making several unsuccessful attempts to find him.

3. David as far as people went was a non-entity (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) He would have been overlooked and passed by. But God heard his prayer.

4. The Bible says ‘faith comes by hearing’ (Romans 10:17) and so it does, but it also says ‘the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:15). I don’t know how fervent David’s prayers were for me. But I do know our feeble attempts at prayer go through our Great High Priest – The Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, for all our feebleness, our great God has decreed the use of means. In this case the prayers of an epileptic non-entity called David. Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s encouraging is the fact that after nearly 40 years as a Christian I’m still filled with a sense of thankfulness that David prayed for me. Not that he pummelled me with the Gospel, invited me to Church or any of the other ‘means’, but that he prayed. Some people are very gifted at speaking the Gospel. And we need them. But don’t ever be tempted to think that all you can do is ‘simply’ pray.

May we all, like David, pray, and God will work. Thank you David.

Abortion – 50 Years of Shame by Dr John Ling

The article below is reproduced (copied) here with the kind permission of Dr John Ling. It’s quite a disturbing piece that should be read. John writes ‘It is exactly 50 years ago today (Friday) that the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.  Attached is a piece I have written, Abortion – 50 Years of Shame, to commemorate that dreadful event.


Abortion – 50 Years of Shame.

 Anniversaries are how we mark out our history – some are welcome, others are not, some are humdrum, others are special. This year two are extra special – a 500th and a 50th. Both changed our world. The first is when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517, which ushered in the wonderful Gospel freedoms of the Protestant Reformation. The second is the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, which ushered in the hideous practice of legally killing unborn children in England, Scotland and Wales. The story of the Augustinian friar has been retold many times, the slaughter of the defenceless pre-born is a more veiled story.

How did we get the 1967 Act?

The history of UK abortion law is long but simple – for many centuries abortion had, by and large, been a criminal offence. And even today, abortion remains, perhaps surprisingly, illegal in the UK. This is primarily because sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act still make it a crime for anyone, using any means whatsoever, ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’. The 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act further extended this prohibition to a child ‘capable of being born alive’. In other words, for a 100 years and more there was an explicit and widespread public condemnation of abortion, severe penalties for those illicitly involved, as well as genuine protection for the unborn and their mothers.

So what happened in 1967? How did we acquire just about the most liberal and ruthless abortion law in Europe, even the world? Pre-1967 statutes allowed abortion only for the preservation of the mother’s life and health. For some, this was never enough. If the door to abortion was slightly ajar, they wanted it ripped off its hinges. Yet no British government was willing to grasp the nettle. Several MPs had introduced abortion-liberalising bills, but they had all foundered.

Then in May 1966, David Steel MP drew third place in the ballot for private members’ bills and he introduced his Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill into the House of Commons. Its first reading was on 15 June and a protracted and arduous debate began. Days and nights were spent arguing, rewording, lobbying and generally manipulating events in both Houses. It was all quite legitimate – the Bill’s supporters simply seized their opportunity. Eventually, with parliamentary time being given by the Labour government of the day to ensure its success, the Bill passed its third reading on Friday 14 July 1967 after an all-night sitting in a half-empty House of Commons by a majority of 167 to 83. It received the Royal Assent on Friday 27 October. Six months later, on 27 April 1968, the Act came into operation – the legalised killing started.

One year later, its sponsor, David Steel, speaking at a meeting of supporters, said that the Bill was successful because ‘The right men were in the right place at the right time.’ By contrast is the dismal fact that the number of evangelical Christian leaders who ‘saw the issue’ and stood up and spoke out against the Bill can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Effective opposition was too little, too late.

What is the content of the 1967 Act?

The Act was not only a compromise, but also a poorly-drafted piece of legislation. This may have suited the purposes of the pro-abortionists, because over the years most of its intended legal boundaries have been ridden over roughshod. During the next two decades, no fewer than fifteen attempts were made in Parliament to revise the Act either by tightening the criteria for abortion or lowering the upper time limit. All failed.

In outline, the 1967 Abortion Act did not legalise any abortion. It gave no right to a woman to an abortion and it did not provide ‘abortion-on-demand’. Also, it imposed no duty on any doctor to carry out an abortion. Nevertheless, it did offer a legal defence against the charge of attempting ‘to procure the miscarriage of any woman’ under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act. Thus it did, according to section 1, protect from prosecution a ‘registered medical practitioner’ who performed an abortion, as long as two such doctors certified that, in their opinion, formed in good faith, the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, on one or more of six statutory grounds, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated. After 50 years, 97% of all UK abortions are now performed under ground C, the so-called ‘social clause’. It specifies the ‘risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman’. In effect, this criterion is as long as it is wide – almost any pretext will do.

What is the effect of the 1967 Act?

In simple terms, the answer is that an estimated 8.8 million unborn children have been aborted in the UK during the last 50 years. Such a colossal number is almost beyond comprehension. The annual figures remain enormous – during 2016 there were 190,604 abortions performed in England and Wales, plus another 12,063 in Scotland. This total of 202,469 is approximately the entire population of Bournemouth or Swansea or Aberdeen. It is equivalent to 770 unborn children every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Have you grasped the enormity of abortion, on your doorstep?

Legalised abortion was never envisioned to be like this. Back in 1967, abortion was intended for the poor, overworked, struggling woman with several children, living in squalor with a useless drunken husband. It was regarded as a last resort. Today, 50 years on, abortions are typically for young, single women, in good health, in decent housing, with a regular income, carrying healthy unborn children. What are we doing?

Over the years the 1967 Act has been tweaked so that the upper time limit for abortion is now typically 24 weeks. However, if disability, such as Down’s syndrome, is suspected then the upper limit is birth, yes, 40 weeks. However, what has not changed in the last 50 years is the physical and mental toll on mothers, fathers and, of course, the unborn. For many parents, the aftermath of abortion is often shadowed by guilt and regret. Such symptoms of post-abortion syndrome are denied by many medical authorities but are familiar to those involved in pro-life counselling.

What is the future of the 1967 Act?

For some, the reach of the Act is still not enough – they want more than 200,000 abortions each year. And there are now serious calls to decriminalise abortion. Indeed, in March of this year, a Ten-Minute Rule Bill was presented to Parliament. Its purpose was to remove all legal restrictions on abortion by tearing up sections 58 and 59 of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, the 1967 Abortion Act and probably the 1929 Infant Life (Preservation) Act too. Alarmingly, the Bill was passed by 172 votes to 142. The second reading was set for 12 May, but in the meantime, a General Election was called, Parliament was dissolved and the Bill fell. Nevertheless, this episode should jolt the consciences of MPs and us.

Furthermore in September, the 33 Council members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) voted to change the College’s position from neutrality to supporting decriminalisation. The RCOG’s president, Lesley Regan, has said that abortions should be treated no differently from other medical procedures – including something as simple as removing a bunion. While most abortionists are members of the RCOG, its full membership of 6,000 was not consulted. A similar ethical stance has also recently been taken by the British Medical Council and the Royal College of Midwives. The latter’s chief executive, Cathy Warwick, who incidentally is also the chairwoman of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, also did not bother to consult her members. There is clearly an alliance of radical pro-abortionists currently pushing their extreme agenda. Decriminalised abortion for any, or no, reason, at any stage of pregnancy, performed anywhere would be a truly disturbing prospect.

How are you affected by the 1967 Act?

Since an estimated one in three women in the UK has now had an abortion before the age of 45, you, your family and your friends, may well be directly affected. Indirectly, we are all affected. Because the lives of more than 8 million unborn children have been terminated in the UK in the last half-century, we should all be dismayed. It is our 50 years of shame. Evangelical Christians have, for too long, been equivocal about abortion – shame on us especially! If you have not shed tears about its practice and aftermath, you have not yet understood abortion.

We are the people who should, above all others, understand such life and death issues and respond with principled compassion. Have you responded at all? Do you still hold ‘a moderate view’ on abortion? What hinders you from upholding a wholeheartedly pro-life position? Is it the issues of disability or rape or underage girls? Perhaps you need to ponder anew what it means to be ‘created in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27) and to be ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Psalm 139:13-15). Abortion is a direct rebellion against the God-given gift and dignity of the unborn.

What must we do about the 1967 Act?

Christians have an onerous task here. We have been entrusted with both the diagnosis and the cure. The Christian worldview possesses rugged answers to difficult questions and then it calls us to engage and care for all those entangled with abortion and its consequences.

So, have you prayed for, given of your energy, time and money to help those caught up and suffering? They are all around you. Perhaps now, on this heinous 50th anniversary, is a good time to pledge to respond more biblically. Abortion has been called the greatest genocide in history. As the great anti-slavery campaigner, William Wilberforce, once declared in another context, ‘Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.’

Dr John Ling is a trustee of Life, the largest pro-life charity in the UK. His latest book, Bioethical Issues, is published by Day One. His personal website is www.johnling.co.uk

A Response to a Painful Referendum Result

A young mother has written a Blog Post about the Referendum result and has asked for a response from a Christian that voted Leave. I know very little about her so I hope she will forgive me for being impersonal. Here’s my attempt at an answer. You can read her post HERE.

It’s been a week or so now but I have thought a lot about a particular Blog post and just what to say because it deserves a response. A response I notice is still forthcoming. I’m qualified to answer her because I voted to leave. I hope what follows will help. Whilst I would not go as far as to compare it with bereavement, it does give an indication of how badly she feels about it now (it may pass). It’s a passionate truly heartfelt piece of writing. What’s particularly good about it is that she is having to face up to some harsh realities. If she does want to compare it to bereavement she needs to realise those feelings aren’t going to go away any time soon. In fact they may get worse. And, no matter how she feels about it, it will not alter the fact of the situation. And another thing to consider is the situation may never ever improve. And, she is truly powerless to change it. Forget voting and all that nonsense, if people truly believe they are in control of their destiny they are delusional. They aren’t. We aren’t. You aren’t.

She speaks of coming out the other side with grace and love. That begs the question, does she know she will come out of the other side? She doesn’t. It’s finding grace and love in it.

As she indicates, people say things to the bereaved that aren’t always helpful even though they do mean well. In the main people don’t quite know how to deal with it so can appear unhelpful while trying to say something positive. Mostly, they just don’t know what to say. But wish they did.

We don’t know if God cares deeply about our membership (or not) of the EU as an organisation. I’d need some scriptures to back that up. We know He cares about His people. He cares about His Church. He cares about people. He also cares about His Glory. He cares about the Gospel. The Bible tells us that. It also tells us He sent the Chaldeans to take His people captive. And He brought judgement upon them. It tells us He disciplines us as well. And even if God does care deeply about the EU, you won’t find anywhere in the Bible which was the right way to vote.

I responded with some quick-fire responses on Facebook – a couple of hymns. And a post on my Blog.

That’s my general reply. Here’s a brief comment on her 5 points. I’ll finish with a comment on her conclusion. Finally, I’ll write what I think she needs to know because she is talking about something quite profound. And something I too have to come to terms with.

  1. I agree. We only need to read the Psalms to see the truth of this. Her feelings are legitimate.
  2. Nothing much to say here except that she will need to understand where they (Leave) are coming from as well. Some of the ‘remain’ responses have been quite vile. I agree though, it isn’t helpful either way and we do need to be compassionate.
  3. She says we won’t understand. I beg to differ. She has used the term grief and bereavement. I know only too well what that feels like. We live in no less an uncertain world now than we did before the Referendum. The difference is she understands a little of that now.
  4. I’m talking. But Leave or Remain isn’t the issue. I am deeply flawed as well. I struggle to be gracious about anything. I’m glad for her it’s only politics. Winning or losing isn’t the issue either.
  5. I am bothered about politics. But it isn’t my whole life. I like to know what’s going on and try to be informed. But I accept the challenge; maybe I should be more involved. For me, joining a political party is not an option!

Most of my writing is a scramble of stuff, but her scrambling is a lot better than mine. I’m not one of her friends so I can’t say much about the last paragraph other than try to be gracious both ways.

And yet. And yet, I totally believe with my heart and my head that God is in control; yes, indeed, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). I know my citizenship is not of this earth; I know that God is sovereign; I know that my primary concern is the spread of the Gospel and his Kingdom, not earthly principalities. (From her Blog Post)

That is a key paragraph it seems to me. It’s trying to bring together what you feel and what you know. I feel all sorts of things. God gave us feelings. It’s the way He made us. Sometimes though our feelings don’t square with what we believe but we feel it anyway. Or, it can ‘simply’ be tough to deal with traumatic events in our lives. It can be devastating. And it can be just as devastating when what you feel is what you believe. (You would need to read my posts on grieving to get that) And those around us aren’t always going to understand. And that’s hard as well. So the article, I think, is trying to honestly deal with these things from a Christian perspective. It’s when our expectations or what we thought would happen are crossed with a catastrophic event. And who’s to say what that event will be. To her, at this time, it’s leaving the EU.

I’ve considered how things can feel for quite some time. So I do understand that she feels how she does. In a sense it’s not for me to understand why she feels that way (her politics maybe) but to understand that she feels it at all.

The Sovereignty of God can be understood as something ‘out there’ as it were. Like the Government. They make laws and we react to them. The Sovereignty of God isn’t like that at all. Yes, He is in control of the whole of creation. And yet He is in control of my circumstances in such a minute way that Government couldn’t even begin to understand. Through the later stages of Sue’s illness, and even from the terminal diagnosis, we talked a lot about God’s Sovereignty. Soon after Sue died, it was something I had to face in a new way.

Soon after Sue died I read about the death of John the Baptist. Now that raises some important issues. Tough issues. John was cousin to Jesus. Do you think Jesus cared for him? He knew John would die. He could have prevented the axe from falling – but He didn’t. He could have given Herod a bit of resolve to refuse the hateful request – but He didn’t. However, it isn’t just that God passively watches events and the circumstances of our lives as a hapless bystander. Not at all! He actually willed the death of John the Baptist and He actually willed the death of my wife. And it isn’t just wishful thinking, as it were, on the part of God; His omnipotence is able to carry it out. His omnipotence also delivered a Leave verdict. But there’s more.

He knew the effect it would have on the writer of the Blog post. He could have moved circumstances in a way that she would be much more sympathetic to the Leave vote. He could have moved the hearts of more people to vote Remain. He could have ensured a different result. Just a few adjustments here and there by God and there would have been a different result. He could even have moved her to vote Leave. In doing so she would not be experiencing ‘an overwhelming sense of sadness, anger, bewilderment, betrayal, desperation, and powerlessness’. But none of that happened. Back to Matthew 14 and the death of John the Baptist. Mat 14:13  ‘Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.’ It seems to me Jesus was grieving for His friend, cousin and forerunner. Even though it was something He could have prevented! Isn’t that amazing? Is it possible Jesus brings us into the sphere of suffering that we might be like Him and have compassion on the people? She has asked for understanding. She has it. Can she have compassion on those that voted Leave? Is it possible The Lord of All brought in a Leave verdict for her good though so painful?

We do not know what the Lord will bring about politically through the result of the Referendum. Maybe the doom-mongers will be right. Maybe it would have been even worse had it gone the other way. One thing I do know, or at least I have observed; there is little calling upon the Lord for mercy. There is little compassion shown either way. There is much recrimination and blame. Where is kindness? We see it in our suffering. We were never promised a life of ease. But Jesus is with us in our suffering and though we may feel on the verge of despair – by the Grace of God it is enough.

I have said enough. I hope it’s of some help.

The EU Referendum – A Choice to be made.

It won’t be long now before millions of British citizens will be voting to Leave or Remain in the European Union. The Referendum has been described as the biggest political event in our lifetimes. Maybe , I don’t know. Leaving, we are told is too risky. It’s a leap into the unknown. It’s too uncertain. But Staying in is also not so straightforward. This too is risky. It too is a leap into the unknown. Both sides in the debate have marshalled their arguments, held their rallies and shouted their sound bites. The debates have been at times quite vitriolic and included personal attacks on the main protagonists. But this blog is called Exercised to Discern for a reason.

Every single day we take, from our perspective, a leap into the unknown. The day Jo Cox got up and went to her constituency meeting was a leap into her unknown. Sadly she did not know that day would be her last day on this earth. And just because we have lived through this day, there is no guarantee any of us will be here tomorrow evening. Although every moment before us is unknown to us, there is one to whom it is not unknown. We take every breath at the behest of another. We live each day by the grace of God. We often in our arrogance think we are the masters of our own destiny. The reality is we are beholden to so many unintended consequences that to think we are our own masters is not just arrogance, it is complete foolishness. But our God is a God of detail. He does know our lives in intricate detail. He knew the day of my wife’s death. He knows the day of my death.

I find it extraordinary that people in the EU Referendeum are so unwilling to take a risk or so unwilling to take a leap into the unknown. And yet are quite willing it seems to leap into the uncertainty of death. There is one problem with this. Unlike the Referendum where there is an uncertainty whichever way the vote goes, there is great certainty where we go at our death. Unless you repent and believe the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ you will certainly leap into Judgement without mercy and without end. On the other hand, if by the grace of God you have come to trust in The Lord Jesus Christ and are resting in the work He did by dying and rising from the dead, then you will be leaping into an Eternity where there will be no more crying or pain or sadness. A place where Christ Himself will wipe away every tear.

Both sides in the Referendum have spent a great deal of money on their campaigns and the work of Salvation was also costly. Far far more costly. The Salvation that Christ has accomplished for Those that will trust Him was paid for in blood. The Son of Gods sacrifice was of such immense value that no matter what our sin His blood is able to pay the price.

Tomorrow the UK will face a choice. Today you face a choice. By God’s Grace it may be a choice you will be given many times. We make our plans. Jesus told a story of a man that made plans but rejected God. Jesus said of that man ‘you fool, this very night your soul will be demanded of you’. Jesus doesn’t used the word fool to describe a persons lack of intellectual capacity but of their rejection of God. Don’t be a fool! Seek The Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, to our God who will abundantly pardon. As my friend Andrew King says, ‘The kingdom of God is [far] more important than the EU’.

Marriage in the Manifestos

From The Coalition for Marriage
MARRIAGE IN THE MANIFESTOS
Dear marriage supporter,As the election approaches I thought you might like to know what the political parties are saying about marriage.David Cameron highlights same-sex marriage in his manifesto, saying it“helped drive forward equality and strengthened the institution of marriage”. This is despite the fact that most of his backbenchers voted against it.The Labour Party correctly say that it was their votes which got gay marriage onto the statute book.At the time, both Conservative and Labour Party leaderships brought huge pressure to bear on their MPs to back gay marriage. By contrast the Liberal Democrats seem to have had a genuinely free vote. But all three parties now talk about same-sex marriage as official policy and pledge to go further.

Same-sex marriage is not mentioned in the UKIP, SNP or Plaid Cymru manifestos.

Both the Conservatives and UKIP back the married couples’ allowance, which also applies to same-sex couples in a legal marriage or civil partnership. Labour, the Lib Dems, and the SNP pledge to scrap the married couples’ allowance.

Extracts from the manifestos are given below.

Over four out of five MPs from the last Parliament are seeking re-election. You should have received an email from us last month telling you how your MP voted on redefining marriage.

Ask all your candidates whether people should be punished for believing in traditional marriage. Our 30 Cases leaflet highlights some examples of concern.

We must keep on raising the issue of marriage because we know it really matters to the future of our country. The people elected on 7 May will make crucial decisions in the future, such as whether to reduce or increase legal protection for freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

Yours sincerely,

Colin HartColin Hart
Campaign Director
Coalition for Marriage

Extracts from the manifestos

Conservative Manifesto 2015

  • “We will back the institution of marriage in our society, enabling married couples to transfer £1,060 of their tax-free income to their husband or wife, where the highest earner is a basic rate taxpayer. This applies to civil partnerships too”. (page 27)
  • “Our historic introduction of gay marriage has helped drive forward equality and strengthened the institution of marriage. But there is still more to do, and we will continue to champion equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.” (page 46)

Labour Manifesto 2015

  • “We will create a fairer tax system, helping those on middle and lower incomes by introducing a lower 10p starting rate of tax, paid for by ending the Conservatives’ Marriage Tax Allowance.” (page 18)

Labour Party LGBT Manifesto 2015

  • “Since Harold Wilson’s Government finally decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, Labour has continued to lead the fight for LGBT equality. We abolished the hateful section 28, equalised the age of consent, gave statutory rights for NHS fertility treatment for lesbians, created civil partnerships and delivered the votes that put equal marriage on the statute book.” (page 3)

Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2015

  • Under ‘A Record of Delivery’: “Introduced equal marriage for gay and lesbian couples”. (page 105)
  • “A fair society should treat its citizens equally and with dignity. In this Parliament, thanks to Liberal Democrats in government, there have been key advances in the fight for equality – like introducing same-sex marriage and banning age discrimination.” (page 105)
  • The Liberal Democrats say they will: Promote international recognition of same sex marriages and civil partnerships as part of a comprehensive International LGBT Rights Strategy that supports the cause of decriminalising homosexuality in other countries.” (page 107)
  • They will also: “Give legal rights and obligations to cohabiting couples in the event of relationship breakdown or one partner dying without a will.” (page 107)

UKIP Manifesto 2015

  • In the next Parliament, UKIP pledge to “increase the transferable personal tax allowance for married couples and civil partners”. (page 5) Again, UKIP will: “Increase the transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners to £1,500.” (page 7)

SNP Manifesto 2015

  • “We will also look to release additional resources by backing a series of revenue raising measures…reversal of the married couples’ tax allowance. (page 8)

Plaid Cymru Manifesto 2015 – no mention of same-sex marriage or marriage tax breaks

Green Party Manifesto 2015

  • The Green Party manifesto pledges to: “Legislate to remedy inequality in pension inheritance for same-sex marriage partners and same-sex civil partners.” (page 26)