Indyref2!?

Like the voracious, blood-sucking Dracula, the SNP have again shown their true nature.  Another Scottish independence referendum is completely unnecessary, divisive and a scandalous distraction from the work of government.  What do they really care about more – lifting children out of poverty or some geographical delineations on the map?  Think about all the time, energy and money that could be (for example) removing the need for Food Banks in this country but will actually be wasted in rancorous debate, Twitter trolling and yet more bits of paper shoved through our doors.  I’m appalled at some people’s priorities!

The Scottish Parliament has been granted increased powers since 2014 and must use these, and all the other levers at their disposal, to help Scotland catch-up with the rest of the UK.  Currently, England are ahead of us in offering free childcare for 3-4 years olds – expanded to 30 hours per week this year by the Tories in Westminster but all the SNP offer is a similar move by the end of this Parliament (i.e. 2020!)  It’s scandalous that given the extra cash which comes to Scotland as a result of the Barnett formula, the SNP have not even been able to sort this out because they’ve been spending so much money on White Papers and so much time plotting “indyref2” – ignoring the fact 55% voted against that outcome barely two years ago in a referendum that was supposed to be “once in a generation”.

They seek to exploit “Brexit”, and the climate of confusion, for maximum party gains.  Rather than patiently work to build the case for an independent Scotland, waiting until polling shows a clear and decisive majority in favour, they wish to gamble with our futures and cannot even guarantee that we will be able to join the European Union as an independent nation.  In fact, we won’t because of the “Barroso doctrine” and vetoes from Spain, Belgium and Cyprus.  I can only think that any positive noises, which the SNP have heard from Brussels’ real politic, a ploy to weaken the UK’s bargaining position.  Blindly embracing further upheaval is sheer folly and recklessness.  I’m upset that Holyrood seems more interested in agitating and campaigning, soaking-up the applause of the party faithful, rather than making the tough decisions that are part of governing our country.

We still face the same questions about what currency Scotland would use post-separation with no obvious or attractive solutions.  Oil prices have tanked since September 2014 and the economic case for independence is in tatters, especially as Scotland alone would be responsible for decommissioning the North Sea platforms.

Then there’s the timing.  At least give PM May a chance to negotiate for all the United Kingdom the best possible “Brexit” deal.  Yes, we didn’t want this outcome and it’s painful but it’s what 52% of that electorate opted for and must be at least properly attempted.  For maximum effectiveness in these negotiations, we must have as much flexibility as possible and full backing – no divisions that can be exploited.  If the promised “sunny uplands” turn into a squalid swamp after 2019, then they can possibly start talking about “indyref2” but please stop stoking discord in the middle of an immense challenge that we must face together as the UK.

If the SNP must ask Scotland to consider their destiny again in a “once in a generation” referendum, then at least offer a different question. I’m sure we could unite more easily behind more devolution for our nation and a federal arrangement. This would mean we have all economic and social powers, except currency, defence and foreign affairs, which we would pay Westminster for. We should aim to preserve the best of our Union, whilst giving Holyrood all the autonomy necessary to make Scotland a better place to live, removing any grounds for blame-shifting.

Yes this will raise many questions – what happens to the UK state pension, North Sea oil, capital gains and inheritance taxes, to name a few? However, where there is a will, there is a way and, if there is a clear, unambiguous vote for this kind of incremental, sensible change from Scotland, then no-one can refuse to listen or implement the people’s verdict. By discussing and drafting details through negotiations between Holyrood and Westminster, we can actually be confident about the choice in front of us.

Rather than rushing into a vote on independence where the polls demonstrate where are bitterly divided and a majority still want to remain in the Union, a responsible government would take time to consider and explore all the options, seeking to build consensus and unity, rather than sow discord and despair. Will the SNP rise to that challenge?

Finally, don’t forget to consider just how fatigued we all are by endless elections and just how grateful we would all be if our government actually got on with the job they were elected to do.

Absolute truth

The most marginalised position in public discourse today is “good things are good and bad things are bad” (Tom Whyman, Twitter, 26th August 2016)

I came across this comment today and was struck by how perceptive this tweet is. Of course, this deceptively simple statement raises many issues which need to be unpacked but the fundamental point is so clear: morality has become muddied and tolerance has gone too far.  Too much time is spent defending the indefensible in the name of free speech.  Not enough people stop to consider there is a higher value, a greater goal than just spouting whatever random nonsense you can pass-off as your (protected) opinion.

Of course, the malaise runs deeper.  Society struggles to understand good and bad when relativism runs amok.  What “I feel” has become paramount, even though we must realise this is subjective and dangerous.  We all know in our hearts the numerous toxic and hateful attitudes that battle inside us.  These need clear, unambiguous, loving truth-telling and discipline to be subdued in this life.  Ultimately, only looking to Christ can begin to cleanse us.

Yet how can society function without a rock solid foundation for discerning fact from fiction, good from evil?  The answer is, of course, that we see nations break apart and flounder as families become divided and fragmented, neighbours cheat each other and public services become corrupted, whilst business only cares about the bottom line because individuals have lost sight of what is right.  We desperately need to recapture our sense of accountability, which can only properly grounded in understanding the judgement of God – the one court where we cannot bluster, fudge or con our way out of a guilty verdict.  We will all face the One who sees everything and from whom we cannot hide.

It’s only through accepting and embracing this reality that we begin to search for Good News that really saves.  We’re more wicked than we ever realised but more loved than we ever dreamed.  I hope and pray that our world will waken-up to who we are, what we will face and the lengths to which Christ has gone to rescue us.  Without Him, we might as well give up because we can never even agree what is good or bad.  With Him, we are more than conquerors and this good creation He has made can be redeemed.

Shoddy goods

What’s you most recent experience of buying a sofa?

We bought a large DFS corner sofa about five years and five months ago after marrying. It looked great in store, but as with this customer, we soon noticed problems. Not just misshapen arm cushions, but also threads unravelling within about two years of purchase. Now, it’s looking a very sorry state and was simply not built to last a reasonable length of time in a decent shape.
dfs_sofa
Of course, I should have complained earlier, but didn’t really think till now when we are hoping to move into a new house soon and despair of how this item will look in our “dream” home.
Currently, DFS say that there is nothing they can do as I have contacted them outwith the “two-year manufacturers’ guarantee, and five years for springs and frames”.  That’s just ridiculous – the sofa cost £1695 (£2283 if you throw in the extra chair we bought and delivery!)  When you’re spending this huge sum of money, you really do expect better!
The most alarming point about this episode is that increasingly we are encouraged to buy “big ticket items”, like sofas, that should last a lifetime but (according to the most recent surveys) actually end-up being replaced within (on average) 7-9 years.  The range is because I’ve heard/read both those figures touted.  Regardless, what’s clear is how profligately wasteful we are as a society.  We just don’t build stuff to last and this is yet another example.
If we’re going to look after this planet, we must start legislating for sofas that come with 10 year guarantees (minimum) and a proper, “doesn’t cost crazy amounts” repair service.

The “Guardian” fake news problem!

For days now, the Guardian Online has railed (quite rightly) against the impact of “fake news” in spreading misinformation, legitimising racism or anti-Semitism and, generally, polluting the Internet.  Commentators propose (again, correctly, I believe) that Facebook should rank the veracity of news, or always provide a clear counter-link giving the opposite side of debate in a contentious issue, whilst Google must sort out its algorithms, so typing “are Jews…” doesn’t auto-suggest numerous websites with despicable views.

Then, after watching an episode of “Big Bang Theory”, when Sheldon Cooper claims that references in the Bible to camels belonging to Abraham must be made-up, I came across this article through Google in the Guardian.  In his blog, Andrew Brown asserts that “the Old Testament camels” are “made up” without any caveats. This should be a trusted source but it’s completely wrong.

Ironically, one of the best rebuttals is by a commentator on the article called “hybridartifacts”, but tragically his response is buried within 15 pages of other comment, presented in very small, difficult to read text.   The basic message is that copious evidence exists of domesticated camels in Mesopotamia and Egypt before and during Abraham’s lifetime.  He points out that camels would not COMMONLY have been used in the territory that is now Israel c. 2000BC but Abraham, as someone who travelled from Ur and diverted to Egypt could very probably have been expected to own 10 camels (and more – read the Bible for the full story!).  He was an exceptional figure.

The evidence deserves to be quoted more fully and properly appreciated:

“A Sumerian text from the Old Babylonian period, ca. 1950 – 1530 B.C
found at Nippur describes the use of camels milk, and they are listed along with domesticated animals in a text from Ugarit in a Sumerian text from 1950 – 1600 BC. (Archer, Gleason, 1970, “ Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Abraham to Moses” and Davis, John J., 1986 “The Camel in Biblical Narratives,” in A Tribute to Gleason Archer: Essays on the Old Testament)

There is a rock carving near Aswan and Gezireh showing a man leading a camel by a rope dated to the 6th Dynasty of Egypt, ca. 2345 – 2181 B.C by the patina, an inscription with it and the style of the petroglyph suggesting the camel may have been domesticated in Egypt as early ca. 2200 B.C (Michael Ripinsky, 1985, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 71) – but there is also evidence for an earlier date – the 1st Dynasty (ca. 3100 –  2890 BC). A ointment vessel in the form of a recumbent camel was found in a tomb of that period and Frederick Zeuner (a key figure in early research into animal domestication) thought it was carrying a load. (F.E.Zeuner, A History of Domesticated Animals, New York, 1963)
There are also Some Early Bronze Age finds of clay camels attached to miniature clay carts suggesting they were domesticated in Southern Turkmenistan by the early 3rd millennium BC.

There is the Black obelisk of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (858-824), which shows a man leading camel, but this is much later than the evidence mentioned previously. There is also a stone panel in the British Museum from the North Palace of Ashurbanipal showing camels used as steeds by Assyrian troops but that is from around 645 BC…

The references to Camels in Genesis may be anachronistic not because they were not domesticated by then in the area, but because they were not commonly used in the area at the time or because their use was sporadic or short lived – there is a strong suggestion that later on they were not used at all (especially as they came to be seen as unclean). There is a difference between sporadic and limited use and widespread and frequent use and surely that would affect any archaeological finds?

It is quite possible (even probable) that the investigation of camel bones described in the article shows they were not in common use in the area as beats of burden – but that does not necessarily mean they were never used as such. Zooarchaeological evidence does seem to be at odds with some other archaeological evidence, and I suspect there may be a bit of specialisation blindness at work here – its very easy for specialists to see only the evidence from their own field as being truly significant and to overlook other evidence or see it as less relevant, and coupled with that everyone wants their work to be really significant in itself and this can lead to overstating it.”

So, don’t worry about camels – there is no reason to suspect that the references were made-up.  In fact, they lend credibility – you don’t include difficult-to-believe details if you’re trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes.  There are so much more evidence to support the historical details provided by the Bible – please do take a look.  However, we must beware those that rush to twist facts to make it appear that God’s word cannot be trusted.  Whilst aspects may be difficult to understand, again and again the Bible prove its doubters wrong, and declare the LORD Almighty is faithful – He never lies.

What do British Muslims actually believe?

A report by Policy Exchange notes that the majority of British Muslims (55%) prefer not to use sharia banking.  Only 4% actually use this alternative finance model, which is considered “a striking statistic, given how much emphasis elements of the banking sector have placed on the provision of Sharia banking facilities. It is surely worth considering whether the huge investment of resources diverted to this sector is entirely warranted.”

Note how certain aspects of Christian faith have been de-prioritised (i.e. keeping Sunday special) and not protected by law, unlike Sharia finance..  The argument for refusing to protect those individuals who refused to work on the “Sabbath” was to recast this as a preference, not actually mandated by any major Christian denomination, or with a widespread following.  I’m sure, however, more than 4% of Christians refuse to work in commercial settings on Sundays and certainly almost all of us would prefer that the whole day was considered to be a protected “rest day”.

I’m unfortunately forced to conclude that successive governments pick and choose what they would like people to believe, and this selection of “kosher” religious practices is ruled by business interests.

Then, there’s the publication of Dame Louise Casey‘s year-long review into integration, which cites claims that some sharia councils have supported the values of extremists, condoning wife-beating, ignoring marital rape and allowing forced marriages.   Of crucial importance is that the facts demonstrate communities becoming more divided and segregated, despite the passage of time.  Casey joins many others in warning society that we must be able to discuss these issues without fear of being labelled “racist” or “Islamophobic”.

An example of how this debate is being shut-down is found in the fascinating account of an anonymous someone who flirted with “alt-right” viewpoints online.  He describes being initially convinced by the videos and articles he discovers online, despite having deeply ingrained liberal or left-leaning tendencies.  Clearly, to disturb this viewpoint, the arguments that certain interpretations of Islam were a “threat to western civilisation” must have been persuasive.  What turned him away from what he describes as “indoctrination” was a reference to being “red-pilled” and suddenly thinking that this all sounded too much like a “cult”.

Whilst so much of what the “alt-right” says is abhorrent and panders to our worst tendencies, are we in danger of failing to engage with this discussion because we’re worried about being “politically correct”?  Mr Anonymous gave no indication that he was rationally persuaded that Islam was harmless and I’ve never seen any evidence of this much-repeated assertion.

In fact, there is much evidence to the contrary:

– wherever Sharia law is embraced by an Islamic nation, oppression of women, religious minorities and ex-Muslims follows.  For example, principles derived from the Koran were used to justify repeated violence against Nissar Hussain in Bradford.

violent Jihad is unique to Islam: whilst only practised by a small minority of Muslims, the devastation they have caused is truly shocking. Their ferocity, ruthlessness and inhumanity is unparalleled – just look at the aftermath of terror attacks in Paris 2015 or IS in Syria-Iraq.

– the prophet Mohammed, revered by millions of Muslims around the world, is the only founder of a major religion to also be a warrior and military leader.  Islamic biographers describe how he fought with neighbouring tribes, killed PoWs, exploited women and children, blessed violent, religious Jihad and made people slaves.

What is shocking about liberal Western attitudes to Islam is the complacent lack of scrutiny.  So few people understand the actual origins of the world’s second largest religion. This ignorance allows extremists to spread their messages of hate and entice individuals, like Rasheed Benyahia, into committing terrorist outrages.

We must hope and pray that everyone learns the truth about Islam and recognises the superiority of Christ Jesus who came not to be served and to slaughter, but to serve and be sacrificed for our sins.

 

 

How can a £14 million pay packet ever be justified?

From the murmurings emerging from No. 10 this week, the UK government appears to be backtracking on PM May’s pre-coronation pledge to tackle grossly excessive executive pay.

Twenty years ago the average UK chief executive made 40 times as much as the average worker – now that ratio is 130 according to the High Pay Centre. In the case of BP, the company lost £3.5bn the year Bob Dudley picked up £14m in pay and bonus. Shareholders were completely unable to rein in his ridiculous remuneration package. This bonanza for the richest is happening at a time when wages for everyone else are stagnating, living standards are falling and too many people are struggling just to get by.

In particular, PM May should stick by her pledge to make it compulsory for actual workers to be on companies’ top boards, disrupting the cosy club that leads to pension funds being raided and poverty wages for those who actually generate profits for the business. It is unacceptable that she can say one thing before her assumption to power and then do a screeching U-turn a few months later.

Additionally, don’t believe the corporate spin that seeks to cast doubt on the efficacy of reasonable measures to restrain greed.  According to the apologists for Dudley & co, publishing pay ratios will “throw out some odd results. Under this test, Goldman Sachs will look like a more equitable company than John Lewis thanks to the very high pay of the average banker… It’s also unclear what companies will do. Massively reduce the chief executive’s pay or massively increase the average worker’s pay? It’s worth being clear that although shareholders sometimes balk at chief executive pay, they would rather overpay one person than see profits redirected into the pockets of the rank and file.”

Firstly, the public are not daft. We can understand John Lewis’ excellent structure where the staff are shareholders and properly rewarded for their work. Secondly, if shareholders are not willing to look after the workers who are paying their dividends, then they deserve nothing back from the company. To be honest, whether they reduce CEO pay or increase poverty wages at the other end, either outcome would be welcome. If they decide to outsource jobs to distort these ratios, then that should be published and exposed as well.

Transparency is badly needed in our boardrooms.  There must be no hiding places in society for individuals to amass ludicrous amounts of wealth by exploiting those who slave away to make their money.  We MUST tackle the ridiculous inequality that is blighting our society where a lucky few sail around blissfully on super-yachts and millions barely even manage from month-to-month, relying on Food Banks and sinking deeper into debt.  Our democracy depends on basic justice.

Just answering questions honestly…

I received news about this shocking case from UK group, Christian Concern.  Yet again, we see a tragic example of how same-sex legislation and equality fascism is stifling discussion and penalising those who hold views once unthinkingly accepted as mainstream, and now deemed beyond the pale.  I hope and pray that this poor lady receive justice and the government acts to provide clearer guidelines for these kinds of cases.

A Christian teaching assistant who was disciplined for expressing her beliefs about sexual ethics and the meaning of the rainbow, will today ask an Employment Tribunal to overturn the action taken against her.

Last year, Vicky Allen, who is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre, was asked by a pupil with special educational needs whether she thought that same sex relationships were “OK”.

Minutes later, the 14-year-old asked whether Vicky thought that the meaning of the rainbow symbol had changed.

Vicky answered both questions in line with her Christian beliefs, but was later investigated by school authorities and given a 12-month written warning.

“He asked me what I believed, so I told him my biblical beliefs. He asked me out of the blue,” Vicky explains.

Commenting on the effect of the action taken against her, she says: “I felt like a criminal – it was unbelievable. It’s taken away any trust I had.”

Vicky says that she is challenging the school’s behaviour so that other Christians will not be penalised simply for answering questions based on their biblical beliefs.

Andrea Williams (of Christian Concern) commented: “This is another example of a Christian being penalised for expressing Christian beliefs in the context of their work. It’s important for the future of gospel freedoms, that we challenge such censorship.

“Imagine if those who voted ‘remain’ in the recent referendum were told that they could no longer express their viewpoint because the referendum favoured ‘Brexit!'”

Direct Questions

Vicky who has extensive experience of working with special educational needs students, says that she is used to receiving direct, and sometimes personal, questions from the students. These have included, for example, questions about her Christian faith and how she spends her weekends.

She says that answering such questions is an important part of building good relationships with the students, which in turn helps them to learn.

The student, with whom Vicky had worked for four years, asked about same-sex relationships during an English class. He had asked her about the issue in the past, and Vicky explained that she believes what the Bible teaches about relationships between men and women, and doesn’t think that same-sex relationships are right.

A few minutes later, in another direct question, the pupil asked whether the meaning of the rainbow symbol had changed, given what they had been discussing.  Incidentally, this is a very perceptive question and something a connection I’d never made before.

Vicky replied, explaining her own belief that the rainbow speaks of God’s promise that he will not flood the earth again but that some people have given it a different meaning, reflecting their own message.

The student also asked whether she believed what the pope believes. Vicky, who attends a Pentecostal church, said that she did not.

The pupil then apologised for asking the questions and the lesson continued.

Vicky detected no sign that the boy was upset or distressed by the answers that she gave.

Opposition to equal opportunities?

That evening, however, his mother reported the conversation to the school. She did not make a formal complaint but asked that the matter be investigated.

In an interview with Vicky and the student, the boy said that he did not feel “offended” by Vicky’s answers, but agreed with a teacher’s suggestion that he may have felt “uneasy”.

Following the investigation, the head teacher started disciplinary action against Vicky, which resulted in a 12-month written warning for “acting in opposition to the school’s expectations with regard to equal opportunities” and for comments that “were not in line with both the policies and ethos of a member of staff”. Vicky appealed the warning but in December last year, the school’s governors upheld the decision.

Vicky, who has spent her career in education, says that she felt ostracised and let down by staff, and that her morale and motivation has suffered.

Although the warning has now expired, Vicky is challenging the school’s decision so as to help protect Christians in similar situations.

Another example of government betrayal

During the hearing, Vicky is expected to highlight assurances given by the Education Secretary during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act through Parliament.

In response to questioning during a Public Bill Committee hearing in February 2013, the then Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “But any teacher, if asked direct or invited to share his view by a parent or a student, is perfectly at liberty to say, with equal marriage—as with adultery, divorce or abortion—what their own moral view might be.”

Update

I’m very pleased to report that there has been progress for Vicky Allen and that a settlement has been reached.  The school’s statement is as follows:

“Victoria Allen and the Governing Body of Brannel School are pleased to announce that the employment dispute between Victoria Allen and Brannel School is now concluded.

The parties accept that some people have deeply held views about the nature of marriage, and that every individual has the freedom to express these in accordance with the law. The School also respects that Victoria Allen’s view that marriage should be between a man and a woman is sincerely held and shared by many others.

Andy Edmonds, the Head teacher, has recognised Victoria Allen’s right to share her Christian beliefs with students and has apologised for any upset that Victoria Allen may have felt during the disciplinary process.

Victoria Allen has accepted that it is reasonable for the school to request that staff share balanced views with students when asked questions of their personal beliefs and opinion under the requirements of equalities legislation including the Equality Act 2010 and the Education Act 1996.

The parties uphold the rights and freedoms of other members of society based on the principles of a democratic society.

Both parties reaffirm their commitment to the long-standing British values of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of association with mutual respect for the dignity and rights and freedoms of others, including the right of Victoria Allen to express her views.

Both parties are happy to work with each other going forward to secure a continuing healthy working environment in the School.”

Britain’s Brexit Business

I’ve been ruminating a lot recently over the shape of any possible future Brexit deal for the UK.  I’m a staunch “Remainer”: hoping that the EU strikes just the right stance in their negotiations to warn us about the dangers of recklessly leaving, whilst enticing us back into the fold.  As a second best alternative, maybe we can have a bespoke deal which does not turn other EU countries green with envy, but provides key, strategic long-term benefits for our nation and preserves amicable ties, particularly in areas like the Erasmus programme, space exploration, visa-free tourism and, of course, trade in goods/services.

However, I’m also a realist, so take the time to consider other options.

The central problem is that the EU can only really survive if the first country that exits the club serves as an example to the rest.  In 10 years, a prospering Britain would undoubtedly be too much of a distraction for the continent to handle, an easy focus for the internal dissent of each remaining member state to coalesce around.  Why stick with the rules, if you could be like the UK?  Marine le Pen would have a field day!

I always wonder why there was so little attention or discussion about the parallel of Greece before the British  vote.  They thought that with their country on its knees, they could extract debt relief from the EU and escape the painful fiscal medicine they were being forced to drink by threatening to crash out of the Euro.  Poised on the precipice, nevertheless, they balked and turned back when the rest of the EU refused to budge.

Whilst I would love to think that the EU will do Britain a few favours for old times sake, when I examine the horrendous politics of this divorce, I am forced to conclude this has all the makings of a economic bloodbath.

All I can do is pray for God’s will to be done, His kingdom to come, on earth as in heaven.

Is the Bible guilty of promoting abortions?

Recently, I was discussing abortion with someone who cited Numbers 5:11-31 as an example of a Bible passage that seems to condone the deliberate termination of life in the womb by a jealous husband.

Firstly, try to read the passage in the English Standard Version as the 2011 NIV translation is the only one of hundreds that uses the loaded word “miscarriage”, casting significant doubt that this passage is even referring to a practice that might threaten an unborn child. The verses seem to be describing how an unfaithful woman will suffer future problems with childbirth, which  would have been a very serious punishment in Biblical times.  They also seem to imply that the LORD causes the curse, not the symbolic “water of bitterness” (which only contains literal “dust from the floor of the tabernacle”) and was clearly not some concoction designed to induce an abortion.

The focus is on members of her body with which she may have sinned – “womb shall swell” and “thigh fall away”, not a condemnation of any life that may already have been conceived.  This is another example of the notorious difficulty in translating archaic Hebrew phrases, especially as no-one is alive today who actually spoke the language, or even witnessed this practice.

Reading and reflecting more on what’s written, I believe it’s important not to over-state the issues raised, or give the impression that, to use the word in our original discussion, Scripture’s “capaciousness” is actually a sign of any divine capriciousness. Consider the context of Numbers: no phone/text message records, or DNA analysis, no other way to determine guilt if an extra-marital affair was suspected. Notice how the stipulations prevent a husband (in that time and place) from taking the law into his hands – similar to the oft-misrepresented “an eye for an eye”, which in fact places limits on vengeance and ensures justice is proportionate.

Moreover, the ritual would have provided closure and certainty, so the couple could move on in their relationship without jealousy becoming increasingly inflamed by nagging doubts.  Think of Othello and Desdemona – how the hero’s fatal flaw is an envy and suspicion that can never be properly allayed.  See also how God clearly promises to protect innocents – they will suffer no harm through the test, which is only designed for married women, further limiting those who could be affected.

We must ask ourselves would an adulterous woman allow herself to be subjected to this public ordeal with the very real danger of being judged guilty and punished by the LORD, rather than confess to her husband (as stipulated in Numbers 5:7) and seek mercy?   Anyone who continued to deceive the community under these circumstances is surely deserving of the sentence.  This is another reminder of how seriously God views sexual sin, any transgression that threatens the purity of male-female, monogamous marriage.

There is no reference to this passage in the New Testament – in fact, the husband would have been encouraged to forgive his wife and not subject her to any kind of retribution – judgement belonging to the LORD.  I have always read laws like this (including a ban on divorce, except possibly for marital unfaithfulness – cf. Matt. 19:8 and Deut. 24) as temporary measures to cope with the lack of a proper sin-solution, namely Jesus.  Note how Numbers 5:11-31 specifically mentions the woman holding a “grain offering of remembrance”, further evidence that this interim arrangement has been abolished by Christ’s sacrifice “once for all” as High Priest and Passover Lamb (Hebrews 10).

Of course, a wonderful counterpoint to these temporary laws is how Jesus shows great compassion and mercy towards a woman caught in adultery, challenging her bloodthirsty accusers over their own hypocrisy, “let those without sin cast the first stone”, refusing to join in the chorus of condemnation and showing incredible grace, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:1-11). This is surely the lesson God longs for us to take from the Bible – all human life is sacred, precious and should be given a chance to grow.

So, whilst I admit there is some uncertainty as to what exactly Numbers 5:11-31 entails, we should remember this is merely an interim measure, designed to meet the specific needs of an itinerant, low-tech community and superseded by the “new covenant sealed in Christ’s blood” where He died to bring us life.