AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER – INT NEWS 22nd JULY 2013
- EXODUS INTERNATIONAL TO SHUT DOWN
- NORTHERN IRELAND DECIDES AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGES
- EGYPT: MURDERS OF SHI’A MUSLIMS HIGHLIGHT INCREASING VULNERABILITY OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIE
- AMERICAN SUPREME COURT STRIKES SIGNIFICANT BLOW AGAINST TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
POLYAMORISTS BATTLE FOR LEGAL RECOGNITION IN CANADA
EXODUS INTERNATIONAL TO SHUT DOWN
Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with homosexuality has announced it is closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. “We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change” Tony Moore, an Exodus Board member said. Exodus released a statement apologizing to the homosexual community for years of judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole. “We’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honouring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus.
For this reason, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “Our goals are to reduce fear and come alongside churches to assist them to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.” said Chambers. “Local affiliated ministries, which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus. On his Facebook page Alan Chambers wrote “While the secular media is celebrating the demise of Exodus International Jesus continues to save, transform and liberate homosexual men and women all around the world.
Michael Brown, author of The Real Kosher Jesus and a director of the Coalition of Conscience believes there are some important lessons to be learnt from the closing of Exodus:
1. When a ministry, church or organization departs from its calling and purpose, it will no longer be backed by God. In the words of Jesus, “If the salt loses its saltiness … it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matt. 5:13, NIV). Right now, the world is mocking the idea that homosexuals can change, either by the gospel or by professional counselling or both, while many in the church are even questioning whether change is possible. But Exodus is not closing because God no longer transforms homosexual men and women. It is closing because it has lost sight of its original mission and vision. Alan Chambers, the current leader of Exodus, has stated publicly that he does not believe change in sexual orientation is possible, also claiming that practicing, unrepentant homosexuals who profess faith in Jesus are heaven-bound and saved. This means that Exodus stopped offering hope to struggling homosexuals and even stopped effectively calling them to holiness. In that light, while the announcement of the closing of Exodus is bad news because of the reproach it brings to the gospel and the discouragement it brings to homosexual strugglers, it is good news because Exodus was no longer serving its God-ordained purposes.
2. There is always a danger when one person becomes the face of a movement or denomination. When Alan Chambers offered an apology to the Lesbian GayBisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community for alleged harm done to them through Exodus International, he was not speaking for thousands of ex-homosexuals or for hundreds of churches and ministries that are involved in ministering to homosexual men and women. He was speaking for himself (and perhaps for members of his board, some staff and some Exodus-affiliated ministries). This is a real shame, and we need to guard against the “one man (or one woman) speaks for us all” mindset.
3. There is intense pressure on those offering hope and transformation to the homosexual community. We need to pray for Alan and his wife and family, along with those who have served with him in recent years, since there is a massive spiritual attack on those who stand on the front lines of ministry to homosexual men and women. Many in the church today mistake compassion for compromise while the world mistakes conviction for bigotry. The pressure from both sides, and all the more from the spiritual realm, can be intense.
4. There is no way to appease gay activists without departing from the truth of the Word. Unless we celebrate homosexuality, embracing it as morally and socially equivalent to heterosexuality, and unless we tell “gay Christians”that they can follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at the same time, we have not gone far enough in their eyes. The written apology issued by Alan Chambers leans in the dangerous direction of complete moral capitulation and should serve as a strong warning for the rest of us who want to stand for compassion without compromise.
5. The collapse of Exodus is closely connected to hyper grace theology. Alan Chambers is a member of a church that actively promotes hyper grace theology, with the pastor of that church serving as the chairman of the board of Exodus. This is reflected in Alan’s apology, where he stated, “My beliefs centre around grace, the finished work of Christ on the cross and His offer of eternal relationship to any and all that believe,” by which he actually means there is nothing you can do to sever your relationship with God, nor is change in your lifestyle required in order to have a relationship with God.
6. People and organizations may fail, but nothing can stop the goodness and compassion of the Lord. Over the last two years, as Exodus began to depart from its mission and change its theology, some of the key Exodus ministries withdrew from the organization when their concerns were not heard. They have now formed the Restored Hope Network, and I am privileged to serve on their board of advisers as they unashamedly “proclaim that Jesus Christ has life-changing power for all who submit to Christ as Lord” and as they “also seek to equip His church to impart that transformation.” God’s hope goes marching on!
Source: Charisma News
NORTHERN IRELAND DECIDES AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGES
The Assembly has voted to block same-sex marriage from extending to Northern Ireland, deciding that such marriages in the rest of the UK should be treated as civil partnerships in the Province. MLAs passed a Legislative Consent Motion which excluded most of the provisions of the Bill currently going through Westminster to introduce same-sex marriage. Both opponents of the change and MLAs who support the new unions backed the motion brought before the Assembly by Finance Minister Sammy Wilson. During the debate, Mr Wilson said that same-sex marriage had “nothing to do with people’s rights”.
The DUP minister said that by treating Great Britain same-sex marriages as civil partnerships when those individuals enter Northern Ireland, Stormont was being consistent with how foreign gay marriages are currently recognised in the UK. But Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay warned that a legal test case was”inevitable”, adding: “We (Sinn Fein] look forward to such a case being brought, and we hope that it will be successful.” The DUP’s Paul Givan interjected: “Ultimately, it is for the democratically-elected people in this Assembly to set the law, not for judges and courts to usurp the responsibility that rests with the legislators?”
Meanwhile Nigeria moved a step closer to banning gay marriage and establishing jail terms of up to 10 years for those found guilty of forming gay rights organizations. Any public showing of same-sex romantic relationships will also be against the law, and gay couples who marry could face up to 14 years behind bars. President Goodluck Jonathan will have to sign the bill before it becomes law, but whether or not he will place his name on it remains to be determined. Nigeria receives international aid funding for AIDS and HIV outreach programs from countries like the U.S. and U.K., which have opposed the criminalization of homosexuality.
“Same-sex marriage cannot be allowed on moral and religious grounds. The Muslim religion forbids it. Christianity forbids it and the African traditional religion forbids it,” the bill’s sponsor, Senator Domingo Obende, said. Nigeria, a country of 170 million people, is divided on geographical and religious lines – half the population is Muslim,concentrated mostly in the North, while the other half is largely Christian, living in the South. President Jonathan is a Christian, and the Nigerian constitution provides for freedom of religion. BBC News noted that as with a number of African nations, homosexual sex is illegal throughout the country.
Some of Nigeria’s Christian leaders have spoken out against same-sex marriage, with one mainstream pastor suggesting that if legalized, it could wipe out the human race within the next 20 years. “How can a man who marries a fellow man produce a child? How can a woman who marries a woman produce a child? If this evil is allowed to stay, there will not be new born babies again in the world. As the older generation dies, would there be new generation to succeed them? Even plants and animals have new generation to succeed them,” Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church in Lagos said.
Source: Christian Post
EGYPT: MURDERS OF SHI’A MUSLIMS HIGHLIGHT INCREASING VULNERABILITY OF RELIGIOUS MINORITIE
Four Shi’a Muslim men have been killed in Egypt by a mob led by Salafi sheiks, in an incident that underlines the increasing vulnerability of religious minorities in the country. The men died when hundreds of Sunni Muslim men attacked Shi’a homes in Giza Governorate. Among those killed were a prominent Shi’a cleric and his brother. Disturbing footage has emerged on YouTube depicting the bodies of the victims being dragged through the streets and desecrated to shouts of “Allahu Akhbar”. The attackers are also reported to have torched Shi’a homes and injured several people. The deaths follow a marked surge in anti-Shi’a rhetoric and hate speech.
Al Ahram news agency reports that Salafi’s in the village had launched verbal attacks on Shi’as accusing them of spreading debauchery. Such inflammatory rhetoric has been ongoing since the visit to Cairo of former Iranian president Ahmadinejad in February, but has become increasingly vitriolic as the civil war in Syria has progressed. Dr. Mohamed Taha, a leader within the Muslim Brotherhood, said the Egyptian people would not accept the existence or spread of Shi’a Islam in Egypt under any circumstances. Tharwat Attallah, a member of the Salafi Nour Party described Shi’as as being “a danger to Egypt’s national security and the Sunni doctrine”.
During a recent Conference in Syria, Salafi sheikhs are reported to have insulted Shi’as, inciting violence against them. The murders in Giza mirror attacks over decades on Egypt’s Coptic community, and also highlight a surge in such sectarian violence since the 2011 uprising and the increasing vulnerability of religious minorities. Members of the Salafi movement have been at the forefront of most sectarian incidents, the majority of which have been preceded by inflammatory and inciting rhetoric. As is generally the case during attacks on the Coptic community, eye witnesses to the murdersof the Shi’a men claim that the police did nothing to stem the violence.
Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive at Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, “The situation for Egypt’s religious minorities is becoming increasingly untenable due to a failure at governmental level to take action to address the pervasive culture of impunity that underpins sectarianism. The same rights and protections should be extended to the country’s religious minorities as to every other citizen, and immediate action taken against anyone using hate speech to incite violence against vulnerable groups. The security services should take proactive measures to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators and inciters of sectarian violence from this time onwards.”
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
AMERICAN SUPREME COURT STRIKES SIGNIFICANT BLOW AGAINST TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE
In a significant blow against traditional marriage in the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled that a portion of the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. At the same time, the court has declined to rule directly on the constitutionality of gay “marriage” itself, somewhat limiting the impact of the decision. A part of the Clinton-era DOMA that prohibited “married” homosexual couples from receiving federal benefits was struck down 5-4. “The federal statute is invalid,” the judgement said. “As it treats those persons living in “homosexual marriages” less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
The American Family Association responded to the ruling saying “The debate surrounding the future of marriage is far from over. Marriage has a public and a private purpose. Governments recognize marriage because it benefits society like no other relationship. Redefining marriage would have denied that children need both a mum and a dad. Marriage is about the established needs of children, not merely the desires of adults or a few activists.” Homosexuals in all 50 states are free to live together, buy property together, enter contracts, and have their unions blessed by a religious community, but no one is entitled to redefine marriage for all of America.”
In its decision the Supreme Court allowed state marriage amendments and laws recognizing the importance of a husband and a wife to stand. This was a loss for those who tried to use the courts to unravel the logical boundaries of marriage across the board. It was also a loss to those seeking to equate the homosexual political agenda to the civil rights movement. The court rejected the claim that same-sex marriage or homosexual behaviour is the moral equivalent of a civil right or skin colour and that preserving marriage between a man and a woman is discrimination.
POLYAMORISTS BATTLE FOR LEGAL RECOGNITION IN CANADA
A group of polyamorists says they want the same legal status as other relationships, following the group’s first national convention in Canada. Polyamory involves intimate relationships between three or more people at the same time. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association says it wants to see polyamorous relationships treated on the same legal footing as others.The association’s director, Zoe Duff, says she would like to see “households where our spouses are equal under the law, and moving forward in terms of pensions, and inheritances and property division.”
The group defines polyamory as having “more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” One panelist at the convention says she took home two partners to a family event last year and claimed that polyamory is a viable alternative to monogamy. In October last year in Canada, a poster that promoted polygamy caused controversy when it appeared in schools. The poster declares “Love has no gender” and shows a variety of relationships, including an image of one man and two women, and two men and one woman. At the time, the Toronto School Board faced criticism for using the image.
Writer Daphne Bramham says, “But by being so stupid and so blind how the image reads to most people, the Toronto School Board appears to be promoting a practice that leads almost invariably not only to the sexual exploitation of girls, the expulsion of boys, but poor educational and health outcomes.” At very least it needs to recall all of the posters and stickers that have been distributed and take it off its own website.” A spokesman from the board says it “does not support polygamy” and adds, “The images in question were meant to support an individual’s right to choose whom they love, regardless of gender.”
Source: The Christian Institute