After a three-year investigation a special committee of the British Medical Association has published its findings in the booklet Venereal Disease and Young People. The report does much more than point out that between 1951 and 1962 the population increased by 6 per cent, but sexually transmitted diseases increased by 73 per cent. It suggests that the “bomb” and fear of world annihilation are partly responsible for a new hedonism in the young who, confronted with the prospect of death tomorrow, hurl themselves into a desperate search for pleasure today.
The committee does not hesitate to affirm that “society as a whole is to blame for the blurring of values and loss of respect for the human personality, not to mention the disregard for Christian principles, which increased promiscuity signifies.” Disapproval is expressed of the idea that pre-marital intercourse is a sensible preliminary to marriage, and this is followed by the remarkably forthright statement: “The maintenance of the Christian ideal of chastity is of the utmost importance not only in combating the sexually-contracted diseases but also in preserving the institution of marriage and the family life.… Anything which debases this is a threat to our society.”
It is argued that venereal diseases are primarily a social and moral problem, to which the key lies in the Pauline words, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” On the subject of obscene literature, the report dryly suggests that many who read Lady Chatterley’s Lover undoubtedly did so “out of less pure motives than an interest in the development of the English novel or in Lawrence’s wish to divest the sexual act of pornographic connotations.”
Great interest and a measure of opposition have been stirred by the BMA booklet, which paradoxically comes at a time when the spoken and written words of some government ministers and Anglican clergy have reflected a new tolerance toward fornication. Most significant (and most resented in certain quarters) is the religious note in the report which suggests that young people do not understand that “religion is relevant to life,” and not just a Sunday affair. It further asserts that the moral standards of many consist of “a kind of watered down Christianity.” If, the report concludes, “piety appears to consist only of a somewhat mysterious and irrelevant weekly charade, the fault does not entirely lie at their own door. Some of the blame lies with the churches.”
Dr. R. R. Williams, Bishop of Leicester and chairman of the Church of England’s Board of Social Responsibility, said:
“These opinions are a welcome contrast to certain invitations to license which have been widely publicized and linked with the names of individual doctors and even occasionally with those of clergymen.”
United Church of Christ officials proposed that six Protestant denominations now engaged in long-term unity talks take immediate action to unite their work in specific fields such as missions, relief, and mass communications.
Lutheran Church of America moved its Seamen’s Center in New York into a new eleven-story building erected at a cost of $1,100,000.
American Methodist leaders who recently visited Cuban congregations for the first time in two years reported that they have “grown in spiritual vitality.”
The number of baptisms in Southern Baptist churches dropped during 1963 for the second year in a row. The reported total for last year was 355,325, which represented a 6.9 per cent decrease from the 1962 figure.
DR. S. T. LUDWIG, 60, general secretary of the Church of the Nazarene; in Kansas City, Missouri.
DR. LORENZ F. BLANKENBUEHLER, 78, editor emeritus of The Lutheran Witness; in St. Louis.
DR. JAMES F. GRECORY, 64, editor of The Free Methodist; in Warsaw, Indiana.
Increased pressure on Congress for federal aid to parochial as well as public schools was forecast by members of the House Committee on Labor and Education. The prediction was issued following scattered reports of curtailment of Roman Catholic elementary school programs and the appearance of a book bearing a bishop’s imprimatur and calling for gradual abolition of the parochial school system.
The Rev. William D. Goble, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Manchester, New Hampshire, publicly withdrew a charge he had made earlier that Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce disqualified him, on moral grounds, for the presidency. Following a 45-minute talk with Rockefeller the minister declared that he thought neither party was divorced “simply to satisfy a love affair.” Goble made the retraction on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.
Play for Keeps, a color motion picture featuring the Christian testimonies of six leading athletes—Al Dark, Felipe Alou, Bobby Richardson, Bill Wade, Raymond Berry, and Bill Glass—was introduced this month by Gospel Films.
Evangelist Billy Graham became a grandfather this month when his oldest daughter, Mrs. Stephan Tchividjian, gave birth to a son, Stephan Nelson.
Dr. Kyle Haselden named editor of The Christian Century.
Dr. Wilfred F. Butcher appointed general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.
Dr. Robert J. Arnott elected president of Berkeley Baptist Divinity School.
Dr. Fred Hoskins resigned his professorship at Chicago Theological Seminary to become pastor of the Community Church of Garden City, New York.
“If I were a Catholic I should be outraged at the suggestion that Catholic votes could be bought.”—The Rev. C. Stanley Lowell, associate director of Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State, in branding as a “political trick” a proposal by Democratic Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota that a U. S. ambassador be appointed to the Vatican.
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