Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Andrei Bishops should put their faith in God not Government

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland, The Right Reverend Ross Bay, has waded into the Alcohol debate
Bishop Bay says MPs can take the lead with cross party action on such an important issue for the nation. He is pleased to see some changes being treated as government policy. "Legislation will not fully solve the problem but it can send a strong signal to society that it is time to change attitudes. MPs can provide leadership on this and vote as a unified body rather than turning to a conscience vote for the proposed age split regarding the purchase of alcohol."

The Bishop supports the Alcohol Action New Zealand 5+ proposal as evidence based solutions to the alcohol crisis. The Auckland Diocesan Synod convenes from September 2-4 and one motion for debate is for parishes and ministry units to be involved in the 5+ solutions campaign.
On the planet earth for the last couple of 100 years, in the English speaking world, people have perceived that there is an alcohol problem and have sought to use the heavy hand of legislation to solve it.

And failed dismally and will continue to do so regardless of ever more intrusive regulations or draconian laws.

To solve any social ill you need to change peoples hearts, you need to get people to value themselves, their personal dignity and to take personal responsibility for their actions.

And changing peoples hearts in this manner is in fact a Bishop's job along with the clergy who serve under him not the governments.

9 comment(s):

Psycho Milt said...

Legislation will not fully solve the problem but it can send a strong signal to society that it is time to change attitudes.

The bish seems to have the idea that legislation is some kind of heavy-duty advertising tool, rather than a means of proscribing particular acts and specifying punishments for them. Hopefully he's a little less confused about theology...

Anonymous said...

So can the same argument be used whenever clergy wade into the debate around abortion law?

Anonymous said...

I found the press release of the Salvation Army to be the most useful. These are the people that are picking up the pieces of our terrible drinking culture. I'm Catholic and I don't agree with the SA position on many theological things, but oh my, the SA lives out the Gospel far better than many and they have my deepest respect and regard.


Andrei said...

Frank, abortion is a clear violation of the 6th commandment and a matter upon which an individuals salvation is put at risk and our cultural future put in jeopardy.

The ability to buy a bottle of wine at the corner dairy or the amount of excise duty the Government can extract from the purchase price is not.

As everyone knows with half a brain recognizes that a culture change is required - people need to learn dignity and self respect. This is not something the government can legislate, it is something the Church can teach provided in doesn't make a jackass of itself by buying into political agendas, particularly ones which are doomed to failure.

Anonymous said...


I'm not trying to say that alcohol law reform and abortion are the same thing, but I would argue that your assertion that the Bishop is out of place by hinting that legislation can be part of the solution is misguided carries through to the abortion debate.

The Bishop stated in the quote that legislation will not solve the problem.

You then stated this:

"To solve any social ill you need to change peoples hearts, you need to get people to value themselves, their personal dignity and to take personal responsibility for their actions.

And changing peoples hearts in this manner is in fact a Bishop's job along with the clergy who serve under him not the governments."

Were you mistaken with the comment "all social ills"?

Allow me to affirm here that I agree with you - but I do not believe that this is an either/or argument, if it is, then you need to be entirely consistent in your approach and tell the clergy to butt out of any political discussion that involves legislation, including abortion.

Presently and in the future our culture is in peril from the abuse of alcohol and yes, it is the job of the clergy to shift the hearts and minds of people to the point where such a social ill is negated, the same applies with abortion - but to try and argue that they should remain silent on legislation because it can't solve the problem (which it can't) is to then advocate for the removal of the Christian voice from the political sphere, including around abortion. Legislation can't solve our social problems, but it is one tool in the box so to speak.

It is inconsistent to make the argument you have here but then be selective in which social ill you apply it to.

If clergy can enter the political fray on abortion then they can enter the political fray on alcohol abuse and it is hypocritical to argue otherwise. Whilst the gravity of the two issues may differ, they are both social ills that are detrimental to the well being of society.

Anonymous said...

... and for what it's worth, I don't think the law changes being put in place will do much... I think they needed to go further ;)

Andrei said...

Frank - one hundred years ago the media were beating up on drunkenness, the language has changed a little but the problem hasn't.

Over the years laws rules and regulations have come (and sometimes gone) with little effect - so it goes

Psalm 146

1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

2 While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:

9 The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

10 LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Anonymous said...


I wholeheartedly agree with you - legislation won't solve the problem, but I do not agree that it is entirely useless... the problem is far too many people place their hopes in legislation alone and abdicate the societal work needed to really deal with the problem.

If we were to argue that legislation does not have a place in dealing with social ills then other commentators on this blog would need to back off from their arguments in past years in favour of increasing the drinking age and you would need to be consistent by admitting that things such past legislation as prostitution law reform and civil unions are inconsequential... I would hazard a guess though that you would argue that those pieces of legislation can and do affect society?

Lucia Maria said...

I don't have a problem with the Anglican bishop putting forward his opinion as to what the MPs should do in regards to alcohol consumption in this country. But I do understand where you are coming from, I think, Andrei.

Is it that the Bishop should be providing moral leadership himself (and backing that up with church teaching) rather than expecting that leadership to come from MPs?

Expecting moral leadership from MPs isn't such a bad thing, except that NZ doesn't tend to choose politicians on their morality or lack of.

It is interesting what issues various Christian leaders do get themselves exercised about, yet, we hardly hear anything about abortion which should be something they regularly chastise Government over. Alcohol is more visible, I'd guess. If we had dismembered foetuses regularly dumped in our waterways, I wonder if they'd jump up and down about river pollution?

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