Friday, 29 February 2008

Marriage and Suicide

In a report published yesterday, the Office for National Statistics shows that married people have a substantially lower risk of suicide than non-marrieds.

The key findings of the report are (emphasis mine):

  • People who are married still have a substantially lower risk of
    suicide than those who are not, despite changes in marriage
    patterns over the last 25 years.

  • Despite an overall reduction in suicide rates, there has been no
    narrowing of the gap in suicide rates between those who are
    married and those who are single or divorced. Rates for single
    and divorced men and divorced women were around three times
    than for married men and women throughout. For single
    women, the differential widened from just over two times to
    around three times between 1983 and 2004

  • There was a small decrease in the differential between single and
    married men aged 25 to 44. Suicide rates were three times higher
    for single men in 1984 but two and a half times higher in 2004

  • Among men aged 45 and over, the gap in suicide rates between
    widowed and married men fell from just over four times to around
    three times between 1983 and 2004. For widowed women, the
    differential was around two and a half times throughout

Monday, 25 February 2008

Avoiding Worry 6 - Be Spiritual

Another way of avoiding worry ...

6. Be spiritual rather than material

The present world view is basically existential - live for now and for what pleases you. But the Bible says:

(a) Store up heavenly treasure

The verses in Matthew 6:19-6:24 about storing up heavenly treasure act as prelude to the teaching about worry. The juxtaposition of this teaching with the teaching about worrying is surely not a coincidence - even though in many of our Bibles it’s broken up with sub-headings.

The main lesson of this is: we have to get our priorities right. If we’re always concentrating on ourselves - what we need, treasures on earth - then it will lead to worry; but if we look outside of ourselves - the needs of the kingdom and of others, storing up treasure in heaven - then we’ll be less inclined to worry.

(b) Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33)

Our main responsibility is to look to the needs of God’s spiritual kingdom, not our material needs. I would suggest that this includes: seeking to meet regularly with God’s people; praying for others; looking for ways to tell others about the good news of Christ; being kind to others; reading the Bible, meditating on what we read and seeking to put it into practice; seeking to live holy lives before God.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Should the Church of England be Disestablished?

I came across a thoughtful post from Exiled Preacher on this question.

Some extracts ...

... the idea of an established Church is alien to the New Testament. Under the old covenant there was no distinction between the religious and civil aspects of Israel's life. The nation was a theocracy - God's chosen nation, living under the terms of his covenant.

But all that changed under the new covenant. Now the people of God are gathered from all nations. The Church may be a theocracy under the lordship of Christ, but she is distinct from the State. The State has been ordained by God to restrain evil and preserve peace and order in society (Romans 13:1-7). But the Church has been called to carry out her Great Commission to preach the gospel and make disciples for Christ from all peoples. The State may use force to subdue law breakers and protect its citizens. The Church's only weapon is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.

There is no sense in the New Testament that the Church should aspire to a position of establishment. Obviously, that kind of thing would have been impossible under Nero. But the apostles don't so much as hint that a State established Church would be in any way desirable. All they asked was that the State tolerated the existence and activities of the Church (see Paul in Acts).

The apostles would certainly have been outraged at the thought that the State could appoint Church leaders. But the Church/State distinction found so clearly in the New Testament was gradually eroded away from Constantine onwards ...

... Some would like to see the Church of England disestablished for secular reasons. They resent the intrusion of Christianity into public life. But that is certainly not my motivation. Christ's lordship is not limited to the Church. He is Lord of all. Christians should [act] as salt and light to influence the direction of their country. We can do that by scrutinising legislation, writing to [MPs], lobbying Government ministers and so on. It would be a good thing if more genuine believers entered politics to bring Christian values to bear upon the public square.

The fact that the Constitution of the USA forbids the establishment of a Church, does not mean that Christianity has no voice in public life over there. In fact it is a strange paradox that in England, with its officially established Church, Christianity is often banished to the sidelines. ...