A British breakfast TV interview circulating ‘over the pond’ among American Christians brings attention to injustices suffered by a couple of hoteliers at the hands of our courts.
I was intrigued to find two translations of the Bible directly relevant to both sides of the interview’s controversial point!
First of all, thanks are due to John McTernan for linking to a transcript in Monday’s blog Real Christianity on display, and to Tony Puccio for informing me of its email circulation in Arizona.
NB: this post’s stats occasionally show ‘peak viewing’ when it gets circulated. So I’d ask that it be read in the spirit it is written.
Let’s look at the issue together as I ‘flesh it out’.:
ITV, Britain’s first commercial station, broadcasts Daybreak as a morning magazine. Its presenters Aled Jones and Lorraine Kelly interviewed Peter and Hazelmary Bull the day before they appealed to the UK Supreme Court over a £3,600 fine for refusing to rent one of their hotel’s double-bedded rooms to a homosexual couple. As clearly stated on their website, rooms were available for married men and women only. (The Bulls are supported by The Christian Institute and further details, including on-going reports may be found under Bulls’ B&B Trial.)
Aled Jones’ faith
Aled Jones is well known as a former treble chorister and singer with many albums to his credit, as well as presenter of BBC’s Songs Of Praise (see MirrorTV brief ‘bio’). It’s a typical anodyne BBC programme, however when speaking to journalist Catherine Francis for Inspire magazine, he said the programme attracts millions of viewers from around the world and,
“Songs Of Praise aims to uplift and spiritually enhance its viewers, whether or not they’re Christian, and they need to feel comfortable watching it. It’s a genuine honour to be associated with it…”
She continues, ‘And Aled’s passion is clear to see about the Christian faith,
“Christianity is real, it’s now, it’s happening and it’s exciting – it’s not sedate or simply part of history. Jesus toppled over the market stalls in the Temple – this is a person with passion, a person with love, with blood running through his veins. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Well said sir, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind when considering today’s matter. Has he changed his views?
The Daybreak interview
The interview has been transcribed fairly accurately by Dr Michael Brown, a scholar, speaker and author of 22 books, including The Real Kosher Jesus. He blogged it a week ago today as An older woman puts today’s compromised preachers to shame. Therein he sets the scene.:
At a time when so many of our Christian leaders are guilty of compromising the gospel before the media, dishonouring the Lord as they try to make God’s Word palatable to the world, it was an older British woman…who displayed a backbone of steel, a deep and consistent faith, and a theological clarity while being grilled on national TV. Cheers for Hazelmary Bull!
And make no mistake about it. This is not some slick, camera-friendly couple, versed in the latest clichés and fitted with the coolest wardrobe. This is a couple grounded in the Word and committed to Jesus. Today’s Christian leaders could learn well from their example.
Jones took the lead and started with a neutral ‘voice-over’ video outlining the case. The presenters were not unpleasant but wanted to know why the Bulls were contesting the loss of their Appeal in 2012. It may have got intense because of their seeming inability to grasp the Bull’s Biblical position. Or were they just acting professionally on behalf of a religiously illiterate British audience and consequently asking questions from a simplistic viewpoint?
Whatever their approach, it helped the Bull’s present their case clearly and admirably. Take a look at the video clip:
Here’s the transcript section of Dr Brown’s short article; his comments in italics.:
When asked why they were going ahead with the appeal after all they had been through, Hazelmary replied,
“The reason we have continued with this is because we feel there are arguments still to be made, because we are hoping that some way or another, a pathway will be found through this so that two different lifestyles—which at the moment have had a head-on collision—two different lifestyles could live together in our society.”
Her purpose, then, is marked by conviction and conciliation: How can we live together in the same society when we have such different convictions?
Lorraine Kelly: “May I suggest that maybe you are in the wrong business? Because when you think about it, only 47 percent of couples now are actually married, so when you do that, you forget all the arguments and all the rest, but actually from a business sense, sure, it doesn’t make any sense.”
Hazelmary Bull: “No, on the face of it, it looks like that because we have always refused a double-bedded accommodation to unmarried heterosexual couples.”
When challenged by Kelley, Hazelmary explained, “It’s Bible-based; it’s entirely Bible-based.”
(Pastors, take note of her words. This is how we should operate our local assemblies as well, based on the Word, not on marketing principles.)
Aled Jones: “As a Christian, the God you worship is a loving God, is a tolerant God. And if people are in a civil partnership, they are obviously in love, so what is wrong with them sharing a bed?”
(Note that Jones came to national fame as a hymn-singing child, and in 2004 he was voted Religious Broadcaster of the Year by the Churches Media Council for his work with Songs of Praise. He still hosts BBC’s Songs of Praise show, and within the last four years he has released albums featuring hymns and Christmas songs. What in the world happened to Aled Jones?)
How does Hazelmary reply to his challenge? You’ve got to love this!
HB: “I think it’s a myth to believe that entirely. He is a loving God, that’s true. He’s a forgiving God, but there is—
AJ: “And a tolerant one?”
HB: “He is a longsuffering God; He’s not entirely tolerant because the Bible is full of cases when He does finally bring judgment about. We felt that we wanted to, as far as possible, live according to His instructions, and the Bible is very clear about marriage.
Boy, did she nail it! There is a difference between God being longsuffering and God being tolerant, and yes, “He’s not entirely tolerant because the Bible is full of cases when he does finally bring judgment about.”
Do you think we’ll be hearing a lot of lines like that from some of the pastors featured on The Preachers of L.A.?
LK: “It’s 2013…2013!”
MB: “God hasn’t changed; Jesus says He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. He hasn’t changed, the Bible hasn’t changed, and we are wrong—we are living in a dream—if we think that He has changed His laws to suit us, because that’s not the case at all.”
Exactly! Most of the world is living in a dream. In fact, much of the church is living in a dream too, having been put to sleep by smooth-tongued preachers who have watered down the Word in a futile attempt to make it “contemporary.”
LK: “So you don’t accept that you have done anything wrong at all? You don’t accept that, that was offensive?”
MB: “We find this thoroughly regretful, because we clearly state that we prefer to let double-bedded accommodations to married couples.”
(She then explains, in answer to Kelly’s question, that this is clearly stated on the website.)
LK: “When two people come check in, how do you know that they are married or not?”
HB: “That’s a fair question. We have a script, and we try very hard not to offend. Remember, we have been there for 28 years, and this is the first time we have had any problems. We have a script whereby where we say very gently and politely, if one person shows up at the door—say it’s a male—we say, “Is this for you and your wife?” And oddly enough, they will say, “No, well, not actually my wife. We’re partners, or it’s my girlfriend or whatever”.”
How telling! They never had a problem when refusing an unmarried heterosexual couple over the course of 28 years, but when it comes to two gay men, the Bulls are brought to court.(RB emphasis)
Kelly then pointed to the low percentage of couples in the U.K. who are marrying, to which Hazelmary responded, “Well, I don’t know the numbers, and I’m not entirely interested in the numbers because of course we’re running this—”
LK: “Well, you should, as a businessperson…“
HB: “Well, we’re running this under our own roof, and God demands that our faith doesn’t end—”
LK: [interrupting with some hostility] “Your God demands. Your God.”
HB: [without batting an eyelash] “God demands that our faith doesn’t end at the kitchen door. He means for your faith to run in every corner of your life. You can’t just section Him off like that. So one would think that dealing with Christians, we would be fair and honest and upright and honourable and live according to the Bible, because the Bible is the Christian’s textbook.”
Bravo, Hazelmary Bull!
Now go watch the video, give it a thumbs up and share it with your friends. It’s a testimony like this that should go viral, rather than the words of some preacher who is waffling, unclear and not wanting to sound closed-minded or offensive.
Let’s speak the truth in love without making excuses, just as our courageous sister did. God Himself will back us, and the haters and mockers will not be able to shout us down.
Jones’ controversial question
As ‘good cop, bad cop’, Kelly and Jones played atheist Scot and anodyne believer who bowls a doctrinal googly,
“As a Christian, the God you worship is a loving God, is a tolerant God. And if people are in a civil partnership, they are obviously in love, so what is wrong with them sharing a bed?”
Bull: “I think it’s a myth to believe that entirely. He is a loving God, that’s true. He’s a forgiving God, but there is…”
Jones: “And a tolerant one?”
Bull: “He is a longsuffering God; He’s not entirely tolerant because the Bible is full of cases when He does finally bring judgment about. We felt that we wanted to, as far as possible, live according to His instructions, and the Bible is very clear about marriage.”
Many viewers, and readers, could take Jones’ point as reflecting his own conviction. However, is it not just as possible for him to have played ‘devil’s advocate’ in asking from a political stance, thereby to elicit and show the Bull’s strength of conviction?
Also, he may have had in mind a verse form Apostle Paul’s grand theological letter to believers in Rome, wherein he chides them over judging one another:
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance? (Romans 2:4)
That’s from my New International Version Insight Bible, but Mrs Bull adroitly responds from the very same verse as given in my New King James study Bible:
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Fascinating. The ‘protagonists’ use the same concept from slightly different translations. The original Greek is ‘anoches’, which means ‘tolerance’ but is rendered ‘forebearance’ in the Interlinear Greek Bible. Mrs Bull correctly clarifies it as being a conditional term, not a never-ending presumption upon the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Hence, the vital importance of their being in right standing with God’s decrees as revealed in His Word.
But not so for Aled Jones. Out of the confession from his own mouth, he has declared ‘As a Christian’ that there’s nothing wrong in homosexuality. Even if any of the reasons we considered above are relevant, nevertheless the declaration from his heart is what counts in heaven. It’s a far from sensible stance! It’s apostasy – the falling away from the tenets of Christian faith.
As Dr Brown queries, what has happened to Aled Jones?
The controversial point of Jones’ question, of course, is not only his presuming God will turn a blind eye to sin (of any sort!) – but also the inference that gay relationships are approved by God. So, anyone unfamiliar with the issues could infer from his claim of being a Christian that such practice is sanctioned by believers, if not by the wider church.
Nothing could be more mistaken. Aled Jones is unwise to entertain dubious doctrine.
The correct Christian position on this subject was defined in the first formal gathering of strategic church leaders within twenty years of Jesus’ ascension. This apostolic event is known as the Jerusalem Council. We can be sure, therefore, of their thorough familiarity with Jesus’ teachings and instructions and, assisted by The Holy Spirit, would therefore make the correct decisions on any doctrinal issues.
The Council was called to discuss the admission of non-Jewish believers as followers of ‘The Way ‘ of Yeshua Ha Meshiach, Jesus Christ. According to the account in The Acts of The Apostles, the Jerusalem Decree sent to those Gentiles of Antioch, Syria, closed with the following basic stipulations upon admission to fellowship in Jesus.:
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. (Acts 15:28-9 NKJV per BibleGateway.com; emphasis added)
That requirement to abstain from improper, non-marital relationships has never been rescinded. Only folly pretends redefining ‘marriage’ will alter the divine intention behind that declaration against immorality and fornication (porneias; Greek ‘of prostitution’).
It is logical, therefore, to state any consideration or claim to there being nothing wrong with allowing ‘porneia’ within the precincts of a Christian house is utterly absurd.
On the same day John McTernan blogged about this interview the news broke of Aled Jones and Lorraine Kelly being axed as presenters on Daybreak. Also, comments made online around that time haven’t been complimentary about them. Even back in August his position was in question.
It’s intriguing that a definite decision came fast on the heels of Aled’s declaration! Is it part of the promised ‘shaking’? I wonder…
How say you?