The Battle for the 21st Century: Reflections and a Challenge

Filed on 27 November 2004 in Speeches category. Print This Page

Will we shrink into our sanctuaries of private virtuousness or will we stand fast?
by Lachlan Dunjey

Christian Democratic Party Annual Convention 27 November 2004

On a fateful day in 1963, the 41st anniversary of which we celebrated last Monday 22 Nov, three prophets died, the death of two eclipsed by the dramatic assassination of the third.  The death of the Declared Hedonist overshadowed the deaths of the Declared Atheist and the Declared Christian.  The Declared Hedonist was prophetic in his wisdom and in recognising the evil nature of his enemy and we do well to learn from his practical wisdom.  JFK – John Fitzgerald Kennedy – was indeed a great statesman albeit flawed in his humanity.

The Declared Atheist of course was none other than Aldous Leonard Huxley – three initials again – and as you know he was wonderfully prophetic.  In 1931 he described in Brave New World a laboratory in which fertilized human ova would break into separate buds, each maturing into an embryo that could be genetically manipulated for various roles and purposes.

There are no prizes for those of you who know me to deduce the identity of the Declared Christian – arguably one of the greatest writers and apologists ever – yes, Clive Staples Lewis, again known by his initials, hardly ever by his two given names.  I don’t want to bore you with CSLewis, but he is the reason why I am out here now.  His work is major: in an incredible and prophetic series of lectures in 1943 subsequently published as The Abolition of Man, he talks about ‘men without chests’ or adults who lack moral formation and moral character, who divorce their head from their hearts, who use their ‘head’ but lose their ‘chest.’

Lewis writes:

‘In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.  We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.’

(We might illustrate this by saying that we sow violence and indiscriminate sex on media screens and computer games and then wonder why we reap violence and indiscriminate sex in our society.)

Lewis again:

‘Stepping outside (the moral values), they have stepped into the void.  Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men.  They are not men at all: they are artefacts.  Mans final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man.’

Pretty radical stuff – the abolition of man!  Allow me to continue;

You see I’m wearing my badge of honour ‘extreme right-wing religious bigot’.  This was the label given to us by Rod Sweetman after being dumped by Family First (well done, Family First!) when he refused to recant on his vote in favour of the 1998 ‘murder of the innocents’ legislation.  He accused us of ‘occupying the high moral vantage point and dispensing judgment across society’.  I love it.  I wore the badge for 2 days at the surgery last week and my patients – Christian and non-Christian – really enjoyed it.

In October 2002 I presented a paper to BUWA Assembly walking in when announced with a big placard that read SHAME and asked that, if the Senate passed the legislation to allow stem cell research on embryos who would come with me on a march into the city carrying similar placards.  To my huge relief only a few people put up their hands, as they didn’t really know what I was on about at that point.  And I said:

No, for the sake of respectability and because of my public Christian stand I must not compromise what I have tried to achieve all these years in educating on matters of grief and death & dying and depression and sexual abuse and infidelity and persuading people to become Christians – think of the disrespect I could cause to the message of God – so I will shrink back into my ‘sanctuary of private virtuousness’ that Bonhoeffer talks about and keep my mouth shut and not wave my placard that Australia most desperately needs to see.  Well, it would almost be like walking into town with no clothes on.  How embarrassing!
There!  Having made that decision I feel more comfortable and no doubt you do too.
But, how and when will we know that that is what we have to do?
What will it finally be that drives us to that conclusion?
And will it be too late?
What will it be?
– 100,000 abortions per year as a means of contraception?  Too late.
– Third trimester and ‘partial birth abortion’? Too late.
– Experimentation on embryos?  Almost too late.
– Euthanasia?  Too late in other places.
– Euthanasia without consent?  Too late in Holland.
– Cloning?  We’re getting close to it, although not here.
– Cloning for reproductive purposes for infertile couples?  It’s only a matter of time.
– Harvesting of organs from clones?  (I said then that it was only a matter of time – now with the New Jersey legislation it is possible)
– Cloning for special purposes?  Once we’ve gone as far as the above, this is inevitable.
– Termination of life according to certain criteria – states of self-awareness, personhood, quality of life, ability to be productive for society, or just age?  Only a matter of time unless God intervenes.
So, what will it finally be that drives us to walk into Perth carrying our placards?
How will we know that that is what we have to do?
And will we still be able to?

I realised that the main body of the church was still asleep and it was extremely difficult to get Christians to be really opposed to euthanasia and embryo research and selection for compassionate reasons.  I also considered that in addition to most of our people being asleep that those that those who were awake felt powerless to influence what was happening in any meaningful way and therefore remain silent.  I began to see that a senate campaign could be one way of doing this and perhaps recruiting prominent Christians to be prepared to nominate.  The very vague thoughts that I might be involved in such a campaign would not go away and it became a growing conviction as from November 2003 that the trap was being shut both on our society and on me.

It seemed that the potential of the race itself was twofold: firstly, as a dramatic step in trying to wake people up and secondly, to reinforce our identity as Children of the King to be a voice in the community for righteousness and justice and also for a renewed evangelistic fervour.

And so it came about that a year ago this weekend I attended the CDP Convention, resonated with what was being said and very nervously and tentatively offered to stand for senate.  I am so grateful to God that I followed what seemed to be a clear internal conviction to the extent of where for me to have said ‘no’ would have been an act of sheer disobedience.  This was an unusual form of guidance for me, as God had previously opened doors and all I had to do was follow through that door.  This was an internal agony with me saying I am not a scientist, I am not a politician, I am not an ethicist, I am not a theologian, there must be someone better etc but ultimately I had to make the offer.  Now God guides different people in different ways at different times – you may not need to go through the same agony of spirit as I did, you are here today, the need is obvious and I’m telling you what to do.  Period.  End of guidance.  Just line up afterwards and we’ll sign you up.

I was saying I was grateful to God.  That has been echoed for me every day this year – to wake up so thankful that God made me say yes and not to have missed out on this privileged opportunity in being part of a year that has seen a National Christian Voice in a way as never before.  My next item of gratitude may initially seem strange.  Let me explain.  Many of you know that we refused the deal that Labor offered, that is to give senate preferences in place of Stirling and Swan – we refused on conscience grounds.  But if we had agreed, I would now be in the 6th senate seat in place of the Greens Rachel Siewert.  I don’t dispute that God can’t still use us when we disobey Him, but let me say I am so pleased not to be in that 6th senate seat on those terms.  The thought of being there for the next 6 years and out of God’s will terrifies me.  I can think of nothing more dreadful.  I will be happy to be there and be a voice for God if and when that is His timing, not mine.

There have been difficulties and griefs.  Liz’s mother and father both died this year, Mum after a long degenerative illness and Dad a sudden unexpected heart attack.  It was time to say goodbye to Mum but we had lots of things we wanted to do with Dad including taking him to the Army Open Day that our son, Major Andrew Dunjey, ran.  We had two wonderful celebration services for two unique people known across Australia and across the world and I had the privilege of leading both services.

Despite all of that and other problems I have really enjoyed this year – as well as hard work and frequently rising around 4.00 am, I have had a lot of fun and God has kept me well.  All thanks and praise to Him – I am so grateful.

What of the future?  I will take a supportive role in the state campaign – exactly what is not yet clear to me.

The multiple threats facing us have galvanised the Christian community into action as never before.  2004 has not only been a landmark year in Christian activity in the public square but has also highlighted that the political front is here to stay.  The overt anti-God forces working on the federal scene have been neutralised for a while but will not go away.  The gulf between Christian and non-Christian has been highlighted in a way that is new to our generation.  It is less possible to stay neutral.

We are accused of being evangelical and right wing, but as Dr Brian Edgar of Evangelical Alliance wrote recently, Christians vote right across the left-right spectrum – as I have found to my discomfort with respect to the Iraq war, being ‘attacked’ on many occasions after talks ‘what is your position on the Iraq war?’ being respectively damned whether I was or was not in favour or even if I have no position.
“No position!  You must have a personal opinion.”
“I don’t want to say.”
“But I want to know.  Do think it was just or not?”
“I think it was just.”
“Aha, I thought so.  I’m not voting for you!”

And this brings us back squarely to what are the most significant issues for us in the 3rd Millennium.

There is an object lesson for Christians in the failure of intelligence to warn of September 11th.  The US inquiry found that there was a failure to realise the threat, a failure to be organised and watchful, a failure to share information, and a failure of imagination.  But all of this is dependent on the need to realise the reality of evil.  The co-chairman said: ‘The fact is we just didn’t get it& we could not comprehend that people wanted to kill us”  This in spite of the statement in a 1998 staff memo by an intelligence head that said: ‘We are at war.’

And we, as Christians, are at war.

The world has changed markedly since the beginning of the new millennium.  There are the uncertain threats of the ‘clash of civilizations,’ the prospect of ‘religious wars,’ and ongoing suicidal acts of terrorism by people seemingly determined to hate and destroy innocent lives including children as we have now witnessed.

It is my conviction that in the blurring of what it means to be human, the rebellion against what it means to be created in the Image of God, we are facing Satan’s main tactic for the 21st Century – man’s ultimate push to be free of the Creator God, to render Him unnecessary and be our own gods.  At the two most critical periods of judgment in this world’s history, the rebellion had the same element: firstly, in the Garden of Eden (‘like God, knowing good and evil’ Gen 3:5), and secondly at the Tower of Babel (‘nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’ Gen 11:6).

The real issue for humanity is what we do with our God.  Terrorism, war, and nuclear destruction may be what God does with us – or at least permits – if we pursue a course for our culture that sets itself in opposition to God.  Christians should support parties and policies that honour what we know (and most people know deep inside) to be God-given values and blueprints for society.

Our call to Australia is to Choose Life: to uphold the intrinsic value of human life from fertilisation to its natural end. This affirms our view of what it means to be created in the Image of God and what it means to be human.  It is even more foundational than the introductory articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Remember Aldous Huxley’s prophetic vision of embryos being genetically manipulated for various roles and purposes.  Fanciful then, but not now.  As you all must know, as of January this year it is legal in the state of New Jersey to clone human embryos, as long as the unborn child is killed sometime before term for research or organ transplantation.  However, cloning for ‘reproductive’ purposes is prohibited and is punishable by a 20 yr gaol sentence.  So, if the baby is killed, that’s legal; if the baby is allowed to live, that’s illegal.  The bill’s sponsor said: ‘Do this for your children and your grandchildren.’

I think we instinctively react in horror to that scenario but Professor Peter Singer, the world’s most well-known ethicist, argues that it is OK to sacrifice a newborn baby up to 4 weeks of age before it becomes self-aware – so that would make the killing of a cloned baby for its organs acceptable.

New Jersey has done us a favour in showing just how quickly a society can go down a path previously unthinkable unless we define very clearly what it means to be human and when human life really begins.

All human life is of value.  To value people is to respect them, to aid their freedom, and to care for them at times of vulnerability.

So much flows from this position once we establish it:

like many of the subsequent articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
like how we look after the less privileged in society
our attitude to refugees;
the world’s poor and starving
people caught in compulsive gambling and health issues such as AIDS and prostitution – and therefore how we approach problems that ensnare these people
all the ‘life’ issues including embryo destruction, embryo selection; designer babies, eugenics, chimeras, abortion and euthanasia
justice issues
issues of mental health, ageing, and people who need care and their carers
a safe environment for future generations, physical and spiritual – and that of course brings in the preservation of marriage and family
freedom to choose the best education for our children and the teachers we want to give that education.

This is more than a political campaign – it is a mission.  It is about the transcendent issue of our time.  It is going to be hard work – many Christians don’t seem to want to know or just cannot get their minds to accept the possibility of the unforeseen consequences.  They do not understand just how big the stakes are and the impossibility of clawing back from those consequences once implemented.  And they don’t understand what needs to be done and that it needs doing now.

I’ve already quoted Bonhoeffer’s sanctuary of private virtuousness that we shrink back into when confronted with evil before which we feel helpless.  He also talks about those who do confront that evil and fail: the man of reason, the man of moral fanaticism, the man of conscience, the man of duty, and the man of freedom.  He continues in Letters and Papers from Prison:
Who stands fast?  Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and exclusive allegiance to God – the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.  Where are these responsible people?
And I want to say thankyou to all those who have put up with me, humoured me, tolerated my humour and prayed for Lizzie and me.  I count myself fortunate to have come in with the advantage of all the years of hard grounding that so many of you have put in.  Thankyou.

PS as you know, I am now a Legislative Council candidate for the region of Agriculture.

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2 Responses to “The Battle for the 21st Century: Reflections and a Challenge”

  1. steve hembry 22 November 2010 at 6:53 am Permalink

    Well said Lachlan. Keep up the excellent work. I need reminding . I pray for you that your zeal for seeing and doing God’s will continues.

    Love and joy, Steve.

  2. Elizabeth 22 November 2010 at 4:40 pm Permalink

    Just because Prof Peter Singer said something absurd – we dont have to follow! There were many people in history who said absurd things and they were followed by crowds, even whole nations: Hitler even ensured that he would be obeyed by having his minions (all army, government and administrative oficials) swear an oath of allegiance to him.

    It is our duty to ensure that the absurdity of claims by some of those wayward “thinkers” is exposed to the light of truth. This is a duty of every person who can see through this deception. Thank you, Lachlan.