Work Ethics

The following story reflects a lot of what I’ve been wrestling with in recent months. Well not really wrestling but just thinking it through quite often.

I now get off work between 5 and 5.30 and hardly ever work on weekends or at night. There is always tons of work but quite often – almost always – I don’t go out of my way to complete as much as possible. If I did I wouldn’t have been able to avoid working later and possibly also work on weekends.

This is a change I have undergone in recent years. Maybe like the writer below said, it is a change as a result of having lived and worked here in recent years, where it’s ok to head home at “home time” and not worry about working longer or harder beyond that. In fact, in my previous comparable job (where I was working late and on weekends) I have had friends say to me why I bothered coming to Australia if I worked like that. I might as well have remained in Asia. That was 4+ years ago now.

After a short stint in state government and a not-for-profit concern, my return to my old haunt has entailed a much more laidback approach. There are the odd post 6pm’s and occasional weekend work. But those are rare and far in between. By and large I am now an 8-5 worker with no weekend work. Is this good?

I am reading through the intricate accounts of the latter half of Exodus and the start of Leviticus and one of the messages that came out of this part of the Scriptures is that work to strive for excellence is something which either the Lord requires or would please Him. The attention to details on matters such as construction of the ark, the washing utensils, the altar, the lampstand, the tabernacle and the priests attire is an eye opening revelation. 

I had in the past, laboured through this section of my sequential reading by trying to ascertain the symbolism and functionalities of these apparatus. Little did it dawn on me that the simple and sheer emphasis on good craftsmanship, attention to details and commitment to beauty and quality are all given recognition too, in these narratives.  

Does that say something about our work? Maybe it does. I think Paul too alluded to the giving of one’s best while at work. Does that entail working beyond designated working hours? What if dedication to quality and good workmanship requires long working hours? Is the modern day exaltation of quality of life and/or work life balance over-rated? Certainly the designated working hours is a modern day invention – probably to ensure labour is not exploited by owners of capital. So are we to seek shelter if to do so is not to seek protection from exploitation but to protect our own enjoyment of that part of our lives which are outside of work?

It’s probably a fine line. Maybe it is all to do with the heart and the intention and bona fides of each worker. If I work long hours to deliver good workmanship and not because I want to get ahead of my colleague and grab that promotion at his expense, maybe then I shouldn’t be working those long hours. Ditto if promotion is replaced by other forms of “rewards” like a fatter bonus or increment. If I am committed for no other reason than good workmanship maybe it is acceptable.

I guess the countervailing factor is our commitment to our family. Maybe work-life balance in terms of actually spending non-working hours with our spouses and children is not over-rated and warrant cutting short our working hours. One can go on and set out different scenarios I guess but I think it is probably settled in my mind, that working long hours per se is not necessarily something God would not want me to do…

It’s just crazy being lazy by: TANIA DE JONG |From: The Australian |January 30, 2014

EARLIER this month I was down at Manly Beach on a perfect Sydney summer Sunday. Lying on my towel, I noticed a vibrant guy talking in a foreign language that turned out to be Spanish.

His name was Jose, and he was at the beach with his wife and kids. He’d been in Australia only a few months. I asked him what he thought of this special land and he said he loved it. I asked what had brought him here and he said he was looking to work in another country and asked the multinational company for which he worked if he might transfer to Australia. They agreed.

He told me that in Spain he used to work most days until 7pm, often even later, and on weekends. At work in Sydney he was asked how long it would take to complete a certain project. He said three days. The unbelieving manager said the work usually took them two to three weeks. Sure enough, Jose completed the job in three days.

He was also being paid much more in Australia for doing similar work to what he did in Spain.

However, after a few months here, Jose said he now just works like everyone else. He doesn’t go above and beyond to complete things quickly because everyone just expects the team to work at the same rate. Those who try to get ahead are frowned upon. Now he is always home by 5.15pm and never works weekends. Unsurprisingly, he says life is great here in Australia.

What sort of culture do we have where achievers put their heads in the sand just to conform? Are we teaching our children that it’s OK just to be OK? Who would ever bother being an entrepreneur in this country? And why would anyone ever start a company in Australia?

We are an ingenious people, but we have ridden on our luck, especially in relying on our natural resources to get us through. But being lucky is no longer enough. We need to act now to harness our potential or we will be remembered as a country that blew its chances of economic greatness: another Argentina.

Don’t get me wrong, Australians aren’t short of great ideas, but the costs of labour, rigid workplace cultures, risk-averse managements and a belief that government is there to pick up the pieces when businesses go wrong together make for a climate toxic to innovation.

Our default complacency, with our leisure-loving lifestyles, and pay and conditions more generous than we can afford, affect our productivity and ability to compete on a global stage with leaner, hungrier and more internationalised economies.

We are losing much of our innovative and entrepreneurial talent to other nations that promote innovation and celebrate achievement. That applies to businesses, too. To sustain our national lifestyle, our economy needs to grow, and growth depends on individual courage, imagination and entrepreneurship. We need policy, regulatory, taxation and cultural changes to help innovation flourish. Creative leaders and entrepreneurs should be feted like sporting stars and, indeed, heroic failures honoured just as much as successes. Australia should be a place where being good is something to be proud of, where trying to be the best is worthwhile in itself.


Jose feeling that he had to dumb himself down to fit into the “manana is good enough for me” mentality in his Australian workplace not only is a shame, but reflects poorly on all of us.

Tania de Jong AM is a soprano, social entrepreneur and speaker.


Summer Grinds On

It has been a hazy sort of fortnight. We were in Sydney and on the NSW coast this time 2 weeks ago, ready to say goodbye to kiddo and make our way back to Melbourne through the coast. We got home a couple of days later to a searing hot few days. I got sick the next day and so didn’t get in to work and on Friday “laboured” through yet another very hot day.

That weekend Tress and I got ready for our guest (OG), who arrived early on Sunday morning. She came here for the tennis and went back (to KL) a couple of days ago. While here, our days were focused on making her stay as pleasant and smooth as possible. Perhaps in some ways, I had subconsciously subscribed to a belief in karma and so thought if we were hospitable to our guest who is a single lady living with her parents as the only child, someone would in turn return the favour at the other side of this sometimes inhospitable world.

OG has made a number of facebook entries which suggest she had a really good time here and the tennis has been very entertaining so although the tickets cost a small fortune in terms of Malaysian ringgit, it looked like money well spent and any pain in that department would have been further abated by a homely surrounding throughout her stay.

We brought her along to a couple of home dinner parties. I think she liked our hosts in those parties and Tress noticed that she had made facebook friends with them. I’m glad she enjoyed those encounters although for a short while I was a little bit concerned when she used a bit of language in one of those parties. She was sitting next to me and it wasn’t uttered too loudly so hopefully I was the only one who heard it and thought it was surprising. Or maybe I’m just a prude.

Unfortunately I find myself swearing more often that I like. I accept responsibility and think I should really be more restrained but I also think this is a partly a product of our times and environment.

The 5 lawyers and 1 EA in the team all swear. Certainly not gratuitously but more habitually than I’d like. Still, the context is within a team who work and share physical space together for up to 10 hours a day. Utopia would be where there is either an absence of stress and challenges, or when these are met with steely resolute that excludes all forms of swearing. Utopia is as far away as it has always been. And so we swear. More than I like.

At home, now that there is no one other than Tress and LBJ, I am also less restrained. Again, it is rare and I am conscious of letting this become a pattern or habit but I do swear. More than I like.

Socially however, I am far more circumspect and far more restrained. It is not a question of putting on a façade. It is a question of respecting the host and upholding good standards of behaviour in a public or social context. It is also respecting the hosts’ other guests. Any swearing is more than I like. Most would probably say this is all subjective and it is up to individuals to adopt standards of behaviour most suited to an individual or which that individual is comfortable with.

It really was only a tiny aberration. I’m confident OG had a good time and I trust her experience would be something she’d like to replicate for others. Anyway, she left late Sunday night, just as the men’s final match was coming to an end. We heard the match finish up on the radio on the way to the airport. We dropped her off, and got back home just before midnight.

On Monday Tress and I went to the fruit and vege market early, got stuff to make loads of juice to keep in the fridge for the coming very warm days this week and had wanted to go watch “Saving Mr Banks” but surprisingly, the cinema in Forest Hill Chase was quite full for that screening and no good seats were available so we wandered through the shopping centre, went for lunch and then went home.

Late in the evening – after 8pm – I decided to go water the plants with some nutrients mixed in. Lately, watering the garden/plants has become a serene late afternoon activity for me. I have found it soothing and therapeutic to just go to each plant with either a watering can or the hose, and give each a good soaking. It is a great 30-45/45-60 minutes to make that “very full” feeling after dinner go away, before getting ready for bed and psychologically setting myself up for the next day. Usually that means some tv and a few drinks. I have been thinking the past couple of days, that the tv’s got to be reduced substantially so that I get to read more. I hope I do that…

Church leadership must help member, not allow issues to fester

A LifeGate church member had her car vandalised while it was parked on church compound in Glen Waverley during normal church service time on a Sunday.

That member has had a long running complaint against the leadership for a while now, for the same reason many entries in this blog have set out. Unfortunately that complaint has gone unaddressed and so this recent vandalism probably got magnified as a result.

It is of course regrettable that a car parked in church compound should be vandalised while a normal church service is under way.

Even more regrettable however, is the painful thoughts and emotions of this member, so much so that the role of the devil is alluded to. To ascribe a property vandalism to satanic attack shows how disaffected one has become. In response to the member’s complaint, the leadership has promised to investigate the vandalism.  

To my mind, it is far more important for the leadership to look at the root cause of the member’s state of mind and emotion. If the leadership is able to do something to rectify the wrong, why has it chosen not to do so, and allowed the matter to fester – so much so that this member’s view of church, God and the devil has become so intertwined (twisted even) to such an extent? Everyone needs to do whatever necessary so that he or she is always in a ready state to love and serve the Lord and His people.

Anything that becomes a hindrance to a church member’s ability to love and serve the Lord and His people should be addressed and resolved without delay.

The leadership and pastoral team would be derelict to let it fester and allow the member to continue to harbour such stumbling blocks and fail to grow and serve as a result.

Great tennis, great expectations

I got up this morning feeling groggy and had to focus to get through my morning routine. Tress and I had fun watching the tennis last night, soaking up the quality tennis on display. It was a bit sad to see Novak the reigning champion exit the tournament but Stan Wawrinka looked like a really nice fellow, gruff notwithstanding – so it was all just a great treat.

After the match, we waited a little while and then drove to the Blackburn station to pick up our visitor, who was lucky enough to have been able to watch that fabulous match in situ. We got home around 1am, and Tress and I went to bed straight away.

My 4.30 alarm went off too quickly and the snooze went unheeded for a few extra minutes. I eventually reacted and stumbled out feeling groggy.

The car park at Blackburn station has been closed since the new year started and I have had to get in for the 5.30 train, if I were to get a park. So I had no choice but to stick to this routine, and still got to the gym a bit after 6.

I’ve re-started reading the scriptures from Genesis and as I was making my way through Moses, Aaron and the numerous plagues befalling the Pharaoh’s land, I tried to think of different tacks to knowing God from these narratives.  God is in control, He has a purpose, uses His people to achieve His plan and He too, caused a hardening of heart to apparently thwart His plans. Yet, it also looked like those “setbacks” were also designed/built into the scheme of things so that more aspects of His power may be seen.

I wonder therefore, if the obstinacy seen in LifeGate church leaders is a parallel of sorts. Could the refusal of these people to own up to what they did to Jason be just what the Lord has designed and is there a purpose to that which either we have missed or is yet to be revealed?

Either way, I hope this episode no longer becomes something which holds back progress in the lives of people involved. The seeds were sown back in the second half of 2012 and so they have been distractions long enough. Too long, in fact. Ordinarily this sort of issues should have been resolved very quickly – within weeks at most. Be that as it may, I hope the focus now is how everyone involved should work out best to reach out to others who need the Lord.

Where to start or where is the circuit breaker?

From: Teh, Ian
Sent: Monday, 20 January 2014 10:51 AM
Subject: RE: Ben Foo

At church yesterday – cant quite remember the trigger now, could be a song/hymn or could be one of those congregation/pulpit exchange in reciting creeds.

But what I distinctly felt during the service at St Alf’s yesterday was I have forgiven that lot in Lifegate. I have totally forgiven them. But that isn’t what matters. That isn’t the point. I think the creed we recited says God has forgiven our sins in Jesus and this includes all sins – past present and future. In that sense, God has already forgiven us even before any act occurs on our part and so I too ought to do likewise. And I so I have forgiven that lot in LifeGate.

That however, is not the point and isn’t what matters. Because just as God’s forgiveness does me no good unless I come to him in repentance, my forgiveness of that lot would do no good unless there is a desire on their part, to correct what is wrong.

In that sense, all you have said all along, needs to be acted on – i.e. they need to see what they did was wrong and want to correct that. Only then would your forgiveness mean anything and be relevant. That first step on their part is what you have asked for all this while. Until that piece falls into place, nothing else would be beneficial.

Can Ben not see that? As a leader of a church, can he not see that? Why does he push you to “talk” when he doesn’t see that? Maybe ask him that, and ask if that is not a relevant thing to address. If not, who is the one going in circles and avoiding what is necessary?

Re [ ] and others who need accommodation – we just do what we can la. Learning to cope with inconveniences… and look beyond them. Hopefully we do a tiny bit of good in this world which needs huge doses of it. You were talking to her at Gerry’s the other night so that was your support and I appreciate that. I was wondering how a KL girl who speaks no mandarin or hokkien, was enjoying herself in a household like the Hipo’s so your contribution is much appreciated… Kamsiah!


MONA and Same Sex Marriage

A colleague who sits next to me is a Tasmanian. He has in the past year, mentioned the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania and said it’s a wonderful place to visit. My boss echoed this sentiment so MONA in Hobart Tasmania has etched in my mind as a place to visit, for many months now.

Recently however, I decided to find out more – about this museum as well as its founder David Walsh, who amassed fortunes through gambling.

My discovery has in some ways, further cemented my thoughts in recent months about how in some areas, my colleagues and I are poles apart in our thinking.

Several months ago my boss was away on a weekend to Dunkeld at the tip of the Grampians, for a wedding. He alluded to the setup which sounded very nice. On the Monday after we were chatting about weekends and it turned out that wedding was between two men. I must have expressed a startled look and for a few seconds, I was wondering how I should react – ie normally as though that was the least surprising event and is to be treated as any other wedding on any given weekend, or surprise at how common and accepted this sort of thing has become.

Speaking of which – on Saturday Tress and I were at the airport to pick up an ex-colleague who is visiting to watch the Australian Open tennis and while waiting, a car next to me pulled up and two men were kissing each other as one of them was being dropped off at work in one of the hospitality establishments.
I am witnessing more and more of such displays which tend to say to the community that same sex couples are as normal and common as a dark haired Asian.

My surprise and startled state at discovering a wedding over the weekend was between two men, has surely put me in a “weird” category – that, and my views on MONA – that (apparently) venerable museum in Hobart. I may be prejudiced and it may be a wonderful place. But based on some simple google based clicks and reads, I am inclined to just cross that off my list as a must-visit. In as much as it can be claimed that it is a home for “old and new art” to be exhibited, it has come across as a monument to shock and challenge the old world where one was less ready to discard God and His ways.

I understand some may say it is discarding old world prejudices in some ways, as opposed to discarding God. Celebrating sex and death in the manner MONA appears to do however, tends to suggest it is not just old world prejudices that is being challenged. After all David Walsh is also a vocal atheist. One would not be so easily accused of unfairly seeing this as discarding God and His ways. Knowledge of good and evil – as Eve did in Eden – in the sense of being able to decide what is right and wrong and not let God do that, appears to be what this is mainly about. So is same sex marriage, I think.

Sweltering Down Under, Twists and Turns

Kiddo left Melbourne last Friday arvo. She flew to Sydney with a friend and together, they trained into Wollongong. It turned out however there were twists and turns (all for the better) in their journey towards celebration of a friend’s wedding in Wollongong.

Tress and I drove up to Wollongong on Saturday. We were meant to drop LBJ off with Kristine on Friday night but after taking him for a walk I thought we might like to keep him on Friday night and Tress agreed so we only dropped him off on Sat. And so we didn’t leave Melbourne till about 9.30 in the morning and with only one long stop at Gundagai for car fuel, lunch and toilet break, we got into Wollongong around 5.30/6pm.

We took a walk along the beach after dinner, and then walked through the entire town to shake off the effects of a long 8-9 hour drive. Wollongong was a lot more beautiful and pleasant than I remembered. The foreshore and esplanade areas are beautifully planned, built and maintained and people using there were obviously extracting a lot of utility and fun out of it. We didn’t return to our hotel room until just after 9pm.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, and then attended church at the St Michael’s Cathedral which was just behind the hotel. We had walked through the beautiful compound the day earlier and the service was very warm – in all sense of the word. After church we packed up and drove towards Shellharbour, which was near where Kiddo was meeting up with her friends for a post wedding brunch. We went to a local fish and chips joint for lunch while waiting for her, which turned out to be a delicious find. Salvatore’s Fish and Chips at Shellharbour, we later found out through Trip Advisor, is renowned. The beer battered fish was crisp and succulent and the chips were non-greasy, crispy and moist.

After lunch we picked Kiddo up, together with Liz her friend and drove towards Sydney. We dropped Liz off at the Sydney airport and then went to Coogee, where we were staying for the night.

Dive Hotel at Coogee Beach is a chic and retro place. On Arden Street directly across the beach, it was perfectly located and after checking in we went straight to the beach and kiddo made to the water for what looked like a fun swim. That night we went to a café on Coogee Bay Road and enjoyed a very delicious Italian meal. Renato’s has very warm, friendly and efficient waiting staff and the Chianti was very good with the food so it was all very nice.

We walked some more after dinner and that night we all had a really good sleep. Breakfast was at the hotel again the next morning after which we took off to the airport again. Kiddo’s flight was 2pm and we had a bit of lunch at the airport food court, which was better than we expected. After kiddo walked through her gate, we took off and Tress and I then took the drive towards Batemans Bay.

We got into Batemans Bay close to 5pm, and immediately got stuck into the Clyde River oysters. We had been to Batehaven’s a couple of years earlier and remembered the very fresh and creamy oysters in this part of the world. By the time we retired to the hotel that night we had 3 dozens of those yummy stuff washed down with a bottle of chilled white and watching the Australian Open tennis. It was a great treat.

The next morning we had breakfast in one of the cafes nearby, then took another walk before driving off again to Lakes Entrance. It was another longish drive but we continued to take our time, stopping wherever we pleased and fancied. We arrived at Lakes Entrance late in the arvo, and after an early dinner we walked on the foreshores, and made our way towards the footbridge and Main Beach, where the famous 90 Mile Beach was, and again marvelled at the beauty of this part of the world. The NSW and northern Victorian coast have been beautiful places for us and for the umpteenth time, I remarked to Tress I couldn’t believe the Brits sent its convicts to this place as a punishment.

The very hot day meant many were at the beach even close to 9pm and as we were walking towards the shops we decided to get an ice cream and the shop saw an endless stream of people getting in and out. We then went back to the hotel, skyped with kiddo, and got ready for the next day when we would be heading home.

Wed saw us drive through a really hot day and the radio presenter was saying everyone’s had enough – we’d had the third consecutive seething hot day of 40+ deg and it was taking its toll. We got home just after 1pm, had lunch at the Straits Kitchen in Mount Waverley, and went back for a bit to cool the house down before picking up LBJ. By that time both Tress and I felt like wilting blobs and we just sat in the lounge with the air conditioning on after that, watching the tennis. I started to feel unwell, Tress started to cough badly and yesterday, I continued to feel unwell so decided not to go in to the office. Tress soldiered on and I simply spent the day seeping cold water and watching telly or reading. Last night as I felt grateful for having the new air conditioning installed in both the lounge and our bedroom, I checked the weather and realised it was cooler for Kiddo in Singapore than it is for us here in Melbourne.

Its funny how we left Malaysia almost 10 years ago only for Kiddo to return to Singapore last year and this year, and now we find ourselves sweating it out in conditions hotter in Melbourne than in Singapore. Life turns up surprises all the time…

Kosher Funny Cigarettes in Colorado

I was listening to a radio program while on the cross trainer in the gym this morning and someone in America presented a story on how sale iin marijuana in Colorado state had tripled since it was legalised for recreational use. The host said to the American journalist that the Colorado story had a lot of attention here in Victoria as many in this state advocate the same liberalising of cannabis use. No doubt someone has well beaten me to the take on Colorado mountain high but I suspect this high point will meet some very low points down the track. I have a feeling that 5, 10, 15 maybe 20 years down the track someone would discover the effects of widespread marijuana consumption for recreational purposes, on a community or society and they would be negative effects. The core features that hold up a community – work, education, families, healthcare, social events, religious practices – would all become adversely affected by widespread consumtion of marijuana on a recreational basis.

Eve consumed the forbidden fruit but went on to live, but that life would not be what God intended for her and Adam. That life – based on her (and Adam) calling the shots to decide what goes and what doesn’t – would essentially be death in God’s eyes.

Some fruits take a long time to grow. We wouldn’t see them so soon. But I have a feeling with this one, we’d see the effects sooner than we think. The meteor – raining fire in the sky, Rocky mountain high – would be painful to see in this one, I suspect.

Mourning for Moyes

7th position in the League
Out at 3rd round in FA Cup
Out in semi final in League Cup

That leaves only the Champions League but does anyone seriously believe we’d go far in that competition? All I ask of David Moyes now is qualification for the Champions League next season. So aim for 4th place please.

Davis Moyes has had a woeful time. Since replacing Sir Alex Ferguson in August 2013, there has been no convincing run of performances. Many blamed wholesale changes to the backroom/coaching team. Other point to his small club mentality and sometimes negative mindset.

As hard as it is to replace a behemoth like Fergie, Moyes does seem for the most part, to lack the wherewithal to get on top of his brief. There has been no semblance of fight and competition which were the hallmarks of Fergie’s teams.

I hope Moyes turns around and soon. It is at times like this that one appreciates the foresight and wisdom of Fergie’s plea for Old Trafford to “stand behind your manager”.

Care in discarding old, wanting new

This is not Christianity accommodating its language into the terms of today, or being relevant to changing circumstances. This is Christianity submitting itself to society’s rejection of the Creator and his ways. This is “being conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).

Seeking to be contemporary entails risks of diluting core principles. An innocuous looking change which at first blush appears to be nothing more than an exercise in bringing an old domain into the new can in fact be a change that starts to reject God and His ways.

One has to understand the world we live in. Be attuned to development, changes and trends. That understanding and being tuned in, must be accompanied by a clear understanding of basic doctrinal tenets of our faith. I don’t think that’s being unnecessarily religious nor is it being needlessly caught up with unhelpful focus on how the world is changing. I think that is knowing clearly what it is we believe in that is not inconsistent with the Apostle Peter’s call for us to be ready to give an account for our faith, and as Phillip has counseled, take care against being conformed to this world, especially where in so doing we would be joining the world in rejecting the Creator and his ways.

That extract came from an article by Phillip Jensen titled “The Devolution of Marriage”. That article can be found here and is reproduced below.

The Devolution Of Marriage

Originally Published: 21st September 2012

Weddings and marriage have been in the news a lot recently. Same sex marriage and revising the wedding vows are not unrelated issues but reflect the community’s confusion about the nature of marriage and the place of weddings.
Over the last 30 years Anglican wedding services have evolved steadily away from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. This change in theology and liturgy has undermined the minister’s ability to teach the faith and help couples to understand marriage.

It should be obvious that the Bible is the basis for Christian understanding of marriage. It teaches that marriage is a work of God in creation, symbolising our redemption, just as it speaks of the ways to conduct ourselves in marriage in the light of our creation and redemption.

The Book of Common Prayer(1662) is held by the Anglican Church of Australia to be “the authorized standard of worship and doctrine of this Church, and no alteration in or permitted variation from … shall contravene any principle of doctrine or worship laid down in such standard”.

The Anglican Church of Australia has produced two prayer books: An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and A Prayer Book for Australia (1995). The first of these, 1978 was accepted by the whole Australian church, but the second, 1995 was not accepted by everybody – the Diocese of Sydney rejected it, though certain sections became acceptable variations.

The simple changes in these prayer books involved modernising 17th century English into contemporary wording. The more dramatic change was to offer alternatives. The 1662 book had only one form of each service. The Australian books gave us two or more variations. Generally the 1978 provided a ‘conservative’ form, which was an updated version of the 1662, as well as a completely new ‘contemporary’ form. The 1995 book offered even more variations.

However, it was in the evolution of these variations, such as in the wedding service that the Bible and the 1662 standard were left behind. For the ‘contemporary’ form of 1978 became the ‘conservative’ form of 1995, and the genuinely Anglican form of 1662 was omitted entirely.

The Bible teaches that God made humanity as male and female so that out of the unity of husband and wife would come children who would be raised to godliness as they filled and subdued the world (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18-25, Malachi 2:10-16, Matthew 19:3-6). Jesus explained marriage in these terms: “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Marriage is therefore intended as a lifelong, monogamous, procreative union of a man and a woman. Its male and female polarity is God’s intention in creation and reproduction. Its unity is made by God and maintained by each party being faithful to the promises of their common agreement or covenant. Faithfulness rather than love lies at the basis of this union. Marriage symbolises Christ’s relationship with his bride the church – symbolising both the union between Christ and his church and also the diverse responsibility of the groom and bride (Ephesians 5:22-33).

This Biblical teaching is reflected throughout the 1662 service, such as in the introduction when the minister enumerates the reasons for marriage as (i) procreation, (ii) remedy against sin (drawn from 1 Corinthians 7 and 1 Thessalonians 4), (iii) companionship.

Similarly, the 1662 service emphasizes the Biblical teaching on the differing responsibilities of husband and wife. Not only are the consent and vows different for men and women, but also it is only the man who gives a ring and his wealth. At the end of the service we read: ‘if there be no Sermon declaring the duties of Man and Wife, the Minister shall read as followeth. “All ye that are married, or that intend to take the holy estate of Matrimony upon you, hear what the holy Scripture doth say as touching on the duty of husbands towards their wives, and wives towards their husbands.”’ There follows a sermon addressing first the husband and then the wife, using and reading three passages of scripture (Ephesians 5, Colossians 3 and 1 Peter 3) that differentiate the responsibilities of husbands and wives.

The contemporary service of 1978 changed all this. Children became the last reason for marriage, not the primary one. Marriage was now about love: a relationship of “a deepening knowledge and love of each other”. More striking still was the removal of all gender distinctive responsibilities. The consent and vows for groom and bride were identical. Worse still they became vacuous – giving each other the “honour due” as wife and husband without explaining what such honour is.

In 1995 the contemporary service of 1978 became the conservative service and a new contemporary service was introduced. All the services of 1995, even the conservative one, were unisex with identical consent and vows. Totally missing was any teaching on differing responsibility of husband or wife. Now the reason for marriage was first and foremost for love and secondly where children ‘may be’ born.

All this matches society’s move away from marriage, away from life-long monogamy, away from commitment and faithfulness, away from family life towards the romance called ‘love’, away from ‘husbands and wives’ or even ‘spouses’ to ‘partners’.

Sadly Anglican liturgies have given up on the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer. This is not Christianity accommodating its language into the terms of today, or being relevant to changing circumstances. This is Christianity submitting itself to society’s rejection of the Creator and his ways. This is “being conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).

Family life is where creation speaks deeply and intuitively to people and where today’s unhappy society is so desperately in need of the cross. This is the time and the place to teach accurately the Creator’s purpose and the Redeemer’s actions.