Blue Flower

Illawarra Church Leaders - Marriage Forum Breakfast

The Real Consequences of Redefining Marriage

The team of the Wollongong Prayer Breakfast working together with Australian Heart Ministries and Kingdom Connections Illawarra would like to invite you to attend the Illawarra Church Leaders Marriage Forum Breakfast.

Main speaker: James Parker
Other Speakers:  Catholic Bishop Peter Ingham & Anglican Bishop Peter Heyward

FREE BREAKFAST – Offering Taken

Time: 7AM – 8:30AM Wednesday 27 September 2017
Venue: Living Water Lutheran Church
15 Burelli St Wollongong, NSW 2500

RSVP: 6PM 26 September 2017
Booking Essential: Event Brite URL Still to COME

James Parker is working in a volunteer capacity with the Marriage Coalition. He married an Australian lady nearly ten years ago and they have one child. He originates from the UK and began residing permanently in Australia in 2013.

James made a commitment to Christ in his early 20s. His working life saw him engage with some of the world’s most elite sportspeople and travel extensively across Africa and the Middle East taking the Gospel message of Christ.

James was voted as chair of More Than Gold, one of the world’s largest ecumenical initiatives which saw 16 Christian denominations working and praying together daily over three years to serve the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. More recently he was engaged with media and communications serving churches across Western Australia. He presently serves as chair of Christians Together in Sport, an ecumenical initiative in Western Australia that gathers churches together to witness to the presence of Christ in sport and to celebrate the gift that sport is to our nation.

James is a founding member of an international Christian network for men. He has taught extensively on same-sex attraction and sexual addiction and has run programmes and seminars across Europe to help foster new groups and organisations to help support men and women in their journey of recovery.

James also spent ten years in London engaging with the unique spiritual journeys of literally hundreds of men and women with differing degrees of same-sex attraction.

As an abuse survivor, and having previously lived and practiced as a gay rights’ activist, James has a passion for the godly restoration of men and women. He is keen to break open to people the radical differences between a long-term committed homosexual and heterosexual relationship, both of which he has lived out. He also exposes how 21st century society has arrived at same-sex "marriage" and where society is most likely heading.
For more information contact the following: Joseph Carolan – 0403 822 534, Darryl Stewart: 0419 290 853, Warwick Marsh: 0418 225 212, Hengki Widjaja 0408 653 445, Simon Mackenzie: 0401 520 237, Jude Hennessy: 0408 236 191


Eleni Arapoglou


Are you voting ‘yes’ at the upcoming marriage postal plebiscite in support of gay rights and equality?

Then please reconsider how your vote at its core is really not about either of these issues.

But before going any further, it needs reminding that gay and lesbian civil unions already have the same legal recognition, protections and tax treatmentthat every other family possesses, so what is this plebiscite really all about?

The question you will likely be asked on the postal vote is whether any two peopleare entitled to be married. This does not necessarily mean two men or women because the definition of a person is now redefined in accordance with the recent changes to the Sexual Discrimination Act (2013).

Part of the amendmentsread as follows:

“Subsection 4(1)


Gender identity means the gender‑related identity, appearance or mannerisms or other gender‑related characteristics of a person (whether by way of medical intervention or not), with or without regard to the person’s designated sex at birth.


Subsection 4(1)


Intersex status means the status of having physical, hormonal or genetic features that are:

                     (a) neither wholly female nor wholly male; or

                     (b) a combination of female and male; or

                     (c) neither female nor male.


Subsection 4(1) (definition of man)

Repeal the definition.”


Effectively the Marriage Act (1961) is the final significant piece of legislation that defines the biological sex of a person as either male or female. A ‘yes’ vote will by default support the legal removal of the last meaningfully defined reference to biologically determined genders.

Consequently, a change in the Marriage Act by incorporating the words ‘any two people’ and using the Sexual Discrimination Act to interpret the meaning of ‘person’, means it is not about gay marriage per se but a ‘marriage as you make it’, which includes transgender, pansexual, intersex and non-binary.

Of course, if we stop for a moment and consider the logical constraints of a genderless marriage society, arguably there are none. What stops any two consenting adult people that are mother and son, father and daughter, sister and brotherfrom their legal right to marry?(Also here).And as polygamousand polyamorousrelationships predate same-sex and transgender marriage these would reasonably have to be the next frontier for marriage-rights.

Incidentally, many are finally waking up to the calamitous law of unintended consequences – other than to marriage—this will have in rendering the achievements in women’s rights pointless and obsolete, with some academicsdaring to speak out. On the back of the IOCofficial endorsement for transgender athletes, schools will also have to deal with girls competing against biological boys identifying as transgender. Confusion also reigns over who qualifies for assistance in women’s domestic violence shelters, welfare assistance, the sharing of public and school bathrooms, indeed every facility and institutionpreviously divided along binary gender lines for the protection, safety and privacy of women will now be discarded as an antiquated idea of the past.

In effect, the Marriage Act becomes the coup d'état for the gender theory advocates and the prize is sexual anarchy—the total autonomy of the human body. We can already see the mindboggling 112 genders displayed on Tumblr but theoretically, since identity is a construct of the mind and will, then this could include an exponential number of genders, as unique as every person on the planet. And when that logic has exhausted itself there is even a combination of gender, race and species, hence the newest terms of transracialandtranspecies,(also here).

Every previous notion of ‘shocking’ is up for grabs. Just read the 2001 article, Heavy Petting,by Professor Peter Singer, co-writer of the 1996 manifesto for the Greens.

You get the idea. Yesterday’s taboo is today’s newest sexual liberation project.

After all, isn’t that what LGBTIQ activist, Masha Gesson plainly admitted to in 2012?The whole issue is not really about marriage, not even same-sex marriage, but the abolition of marriage and consequently the abolition of gender; a world described by C.S. Lewis where, "In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chestsand expect from them virtue and enterprise".  

Before you dismiss all this as scare mongering or hyperbole, consider that transgender marriage is now within reach. What comes next can be readily seen in the nations that have had same-sex marriage legalised and are grappling with these same disturbing issues mentioned earlier.  

There are two points to understand about the evolution of this movement.

First, gender theory was not developed in university Science Departments under a rigid dedication to evidence based studies but within English, Philosophy and Political classes roughly dating back to the late 19th century and early 20th century– Afusionof Freudian social-psychological and Marxist political economic theories.  

It was within academic circles that the struggle began to deconstruct meaning from observable realities, language, rational thinking and traditions. Pilate’s rhetorical question at Jesus’ trial, “What is truth?” is today epitomised in an entire body of scholastic thought referred to by various names including: Critical Theory, cultural Marxism and Postmodernism. Each makes a claim to everything and nothing all at the same time because it has no end point in pursuit of truth that tells us when we’ve arrived.

Secondly, this is not new phenomenon. It’s been tried and tested to varying degrees with devastating social, human and economic consequences, from Russia, Germany and Yugoslavia to Cambodia, North Korea, China and more recentlyVenezuela. A more detailed list is foundhere.

What these examplesunderscore is that equality, discrimination and freedom under Marxist practicehave meanings and outcomes diametrically opposed to those exercised under traditional Western democratic nations.

The vast body of literature and testimonials of those who lived under these crushing regimes helps pull together the common threads between the tactics of the past to our present context.

Both the playbook and end game are now clearly recognizable.


Russia serves as the best illustration of how the failed Marxist experiment unfolded. The Red Revolution aptly describes the beginnings of this bloodstained uprising in 1917. “Blood? Let blood flow like water!,” was the radicals battle cry.

And nothing of the ‘old guard’ was spared.

The question of how to most effectively and wholly overthrow a society was again found in Karl Marx’s Ten Planks of the Communist Manifesto and the Theses on Feuerbach. First among the priorities was to destroy the traditional family (bourgeoisie).

This was no easy task within a vast geographical expanse like Russia; largely Christian Orthodox, family centered and agrarian.

But only then could the new governing order rise to dominance and become the pseudo ‘Creator, father and provider’ of the people (proletariat).

Exorcising God(the ‘opium of the masses’) from the national psyche began with the decreefor the separation of church and state. But unlike the established Western view of this idea that that constitutionally protected religious freedoms, the communist ideal required the sudden and violent uprooting of Christian influence and presence.

This began with a relentless, slanderous propaganda campaign through the State press, followed with the forced seizure of property and a “systematised programmeof State sponsored pogroms and genocide against the Russian Orthodox church, clergy, monastics and believers – the people of Russia.” The State, not God, would now determine ‘truth’ and reality.

As the grand dream for the new Communist nation was set in a centralised largely industrialised utopia, relocating the farm peasantry would also require another stroke of maniacal maneuvering.

Conditions under the feudalist agrarian system were indeed grueling but the slower changes towardindustrialisationwere also causing social grievances and unrest. Communism positioned itself as the much swifter, unifying force to set the nation on the path to economic equality and social power.

As women represented half the population, they also became an untapped labour source. “The success of a revolution depends on how much women take part in it,” Vladimir Lenin, declared at the Russian conference of workingwomen in 1918.

Lenin was preaching from the writings of Friedrich Engels (Marx’s ally) in The Origin of the Family, Private Property,who proposed placing “whole female sex back into public industry…” by changing the concept of monogamous marriage as “antagonistic” and “oppressive” and traditional family would collapse and society remade.In short, women without husbands and children were more easily ‘socialised’.

With God, religion and moral law tossed aside, the Russian feminist movement commanded by Alexandra Kollontai could implement the necessary changes to ‘separate kitchen from marriage’ and unshackle wives from ‘slavery’.

The entire economic unit of the family and property rights were altered. In its place, workingwomen would have all their domestic obligations cared for by the State.

A series of further decrees abolished the right to inheritance and enabled the forced acquisition of landtransferring property to the government for establishing communal institutions: maternity homes, nurseries, kindergartens, schools, communal dining rooms, laundries, mending centres, etc. Effectively, it also turned womenand particularly children into instruments of the State as public school and party indoctrination transformed them into government spies reporting on anti revolutionary "hate speech".

To keep woman from pinning over abandoned husbands and children, and devoted to the compulsory “bliss” of industrialised paradise, Kollontai also introduced "erotic friendships" to "function as part of communism by forging bonds of comradely solidarity", aptly referred to as "unions of affection and comradeship."

Kollontai later co-drafted the 1918 codein Marriage, the family and guardianship. Among other things it ended the religious sanction of marriage, allowed for civil registration, removed any reference to “illegitimate children” and permitted divorce on demand. Two years later, abortion on demand would follow.

All these factors merged toopen the floodgates for the first 20th century mass sexual revolution—the predecessor to the modern movement for sexual rights, gender fluidity and self-determination.

The social catastrophe this unleashed would haunt Russia for generations, as ‘free love’ sought no exclusivity for sexual relationships, including polygamy and polyamory.

"One must live in Russia today, amid the atmosphere of torment, disgust and disillusionment that pervades sex relations, the chaos, uncertainty and tragedy that hover over the Russian family ... Some men have twenty wives, living a week with one, a month with another. They have children with all of them and these children are thrown on the street for lack of support! (There are three hundred thousand bezprizorni or shelterless children in Russia today, who are literally turned out on the streets. They are one of the greatest social dangers of the present time, because they are developing into professional criminals. More than half of them are drug addicts and sex perverts).”

More detail can be found here.

In just over a decade the wreckage of the revolution was laid bare—abandoned children, crime, declining birth rates, ravaging wars and collapse of the massive welfare system once again left the nation, particularly women, vulnerable impoverished and thrust back into domestic slavery.

A fuller account of this tragic revolutionary experiment can be found hereand here.

However, to close off this turbulent, horrific chapter of Russian history it is important to stress that objections to the 1918 code mentioned earlier were eerily similar for objections to the ‘yes’ vote today.

They included:

(1) That it would abolish marriage;

(2) Destroy the family;

(3) Legalize polygamy and polyandry; and

(4) Would ruin the peasants (the working class).


While the Marxist ideologues had suffered terrible set backs, they were far from done. The Russian Communist movement would see many more brutal incarnations, particularly with the merciless rule of Stalin. Interestingly, it was this same tyrant who, out of mere practicality for restoring public order, reinstitutedmonogamous marriage, revoked rights to abortion and divorce on demand.



Communism always had global aims (also here)and many of the revolutionary proselytes and sympathisersfound their way into the great learning centresof the West.

But the West’s constitutional principlesprotecting the dual pillars of freedom of speech and religion as “natural rightsendowed by our Creator”, were solid defences against 1917 styled upfront, full-scale revolutions.  

Instead, Italian Communist, Antonio Gramsci, advocated “the long march through the institutions”, (deinstitutionalizationand Cultural Marxism); a deadly game of strategic patience to infiltrate and wear down Western ideological foundations from the inside out.

And when society was sufficiently beaten down morally, socially, militarily, it would at long last mount for a fresh wave of revolutions, and the rise of total State control eventually giving way to a classless, homogeneous Communist people –  a new global society.

Control through chaos was the maxim.

The movement put a particular focus on public education – the surest method for maximum indoctrination. Yesterday’s graduates are today’s teachers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, scientists and politicians—the bureaucratic cultural elites.

The obvious starting point to organize itself into smaller units of influence and give their cause an air of legitimacy as a people’s movement was through workers unions. Through these it attacked every perceivable failure, grievance and economic ill as the fault of capitalism – the bourgeoisie economic system. This is despite the fact that post WWIImany Western nationsgradually adopted the communist/socialist principles of collectivization – universal healthcare, education, welfare, appropriation of private property through increased taxation and centralized banking.

Unions (and their corollary – faux resistance movements, social justice causes and lobby groups– could organize, infiltrate and mount opposition against every institution. This included the powerful education unions that could select which academic ideas to develop into teaching curriculums and place into every school classroom.

Marxist academics embedded the Freud/Marxist/Engels philosophy within the teaching of Critical Theory.As the name suggests, it critically challenges all the main elements of Western culture—Christianity, classical history, capitalism, authority, nuclear family, hierarchy, morality, tradition, sexual mores, patriotism, nationalism, inheritance, ethnocentrism and conservatism.

Philosophy and psychology departments increasingly pushed the need for God to the sidelines, embracing a dominant humanist material worldview.

With philosopher Nietzscheannouncing ‘God is dead’, faith and religion could be sneered at with the same contempt—dismissed as mental crutches for the deluded, enslaved masses, whilst elevating their own greater ability to accept hard cold ‘truth’ as ‘based upon science’.

The materialists would find the scientific raison d'être primarily within the work of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species.

Numerous ideological branches sprouted from the Darwinian tree despite serious contentionsto this theoryand attempts to restore discourse of the Christian influence to the originsof modern education including science and philosophy.

This new dogma would be clung as devotedly and sacrosanctas any article of faith or doctrine.

The door was finally flung wide open for every traditional discipline rooted in western ‘unscientific’ ideas to be toppled.

History and literature departments also adopted a dominant materialist position, placing Christianity in the crosshairs. Its former high cultural standing as a force in shaping the emancipation of slavery, preservingRoman and Greek classicsand establishing great learning centres, gradually disappearedeventually becoming mere historical footnotes.

Consequently, these disciplines became centres for secular, Marxist ‘enculturation’. Students would see ‘evidence’ of a class struggle everywhere – overflowing with oppressive ‘racists’, ‘sexists’, ‘bigots’ and ‘imperialists’.

While the genocidal evils spurred on through Social Darwinismthat gave rise to Lenin, Stalin, Zedong, Guevara, Chavez, Castro, Pol Pot and others were either ignored, minimized or idolised as symbols of countercultural resistanceand popular culture. This goes a long way toward explainingthe resurgence of socialism and communism particularly among young adults.

Of course, all ideas have real world consequences.

Social sciences/humanities academics were given a freehand to bring former fringe ideas to the forefront. Social theorist’s such a Foucault rejected the possibility of any ‘absolute’ or ‘transcendental’ conception of truth ‘outside of history’ or any conception of ‘objective’ or ‘necessary’ interests that could ground knowledge, morality or politics.

Social engineers could begin reshaping core social structures into a “society without oppression,” starting with sexual liberation where  moral relativismwould reign supreme.

The new mantras of ‘many truths’, ‘your truth isn’t my truth’, ‘My body, my rights’, ‘As long as I’m not hurting anyone’, immobilized mass movements such as the 1960s Sexual Revolution,advancing romanticised visions of a classless, conflict-free world preoccupied with ‘making love not war’ and heightened by drug experimentation inviting everyone ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’.

It would particularly captivate educated, middle-class youth and in turn mount increasing challenges to the established middle-class morality starting with the bulwark of the social structure—the nuclear family.

Since judicial and governing bodies were also changing to purely secular institutionsimbued with the ideas of situational ethics, in turn their judgments would reflect the newer constructs of personal choice, equality and freedom.

Unsurprisingly, the 1970s saw the restraints of monogamous marriage dealt a severe blow through no-fault divorce laws and, like Lenin’s Russia, abortion rights followed swiftly.

As laws facilitate new societal norms, what becomes legally permissible eventually makes its way into public schools once again beginning with sex education, first pushed locally and then globally through the UN.

The next wave of the sexual liberation would see the merging of feminism with gay and queer rights movements, using the proven strategies and language of the civil rightscauses. As Matthew Parris observes, “all oppressed minorities [today] are basically on the same side, marching together with the striking miners”.

Soon the blurred lines of an ever evolving, polymorphous society would be shifted one step further. Philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory gave rise to gender studies, asserting that biological sex is independent of “social gender”. In a confusing narrative, people are both ‘born that way’ and ‘fluid’. Choice is what matters most and gender heternormative stereotypes (assumptions of male and female) removed.

This was the crux for the development of the Safe Schools Program, first spuriouslyintroduced in secondary schools on an anti-bullying platform.

But its aims are inseparable from ‘same-sex’ marriage—a genderless society. 

While the program has comprehensive aims for children of every age, for now it begins at secondary school. It refers to teenagers as as ‘mature minors’ who not only select their pronoun but can also transition to chosen genders without parental consent.

Effectively this is the Marxist principle of family collectivization that makes the child subject to the values and beliefs of government and academics not parents.

Meanwhile, kindergartens are supplied with books such as The Gender Fairy purposefully focusing children’s imaginations during their most vulnerable and uncertain phases of development. Feelings, desires, impressions and inner drives are elevated, celebrated and invented in role-play scenarios to ultimately unlock their preferred gender identities.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming” with deregulation of normative sexual standards enforced on every level of society.

Government control over public and private life is massively increased as schools, companies, families, churches, public services all have to be relentlessly reprogrammed and monitored for micro aggressions and discrimination against gender infractions.

Same-Sex marriage is simply the final step of the arduous campaign for Marxist deinstutionalisation. David Blankenhorn puts it this way, "The deep logic of same-sex marriage is clearly consistent with what scholars call deinstitutionalization -- the overturning or weakening of all of the customary forms of marriage, and the dramatic shrinking of marriage's public meaning and institutional authority. Does deinstitutionalization necessarily require gay marriage? Apparently not. For decades heterosexuals have been doing a fine job on that front all by themselves. But gay marriage clearly presupposes and reinforces deinstitutionalization."  

At long last the dreaded tyranny of statism establishes itself from the prearranged chaos to enforce its new orthodoxy.

Or as apologist Ravi Zacharias observes, the transitioning “from a rootless society to a ruthless society”.

I’m reminded of the final scene from the dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games. The resistance emerges victorious and its chief architect, Plutarch, writes a letter to the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. "The war is over. We'll enter that sweet period where everyone agrees not to repeat the recent horrors. Of course, we're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a gift for self-destruction. Although, who knows? Maybe this time we’ll learn…”

I hope and pray we will.

Enemies of Christianity declaring new war on religion
CHRISTIANS, prepare for persecution. Open your eyes and choose stronger leaders for the dark days.
I am not a Christian, but I am amazed that your bishops and ministers are not warning you of what is already breaking over your heads.
How mad that Queensland’s Education Department can now warn schools against letting students praise Jesus in the playground.
The department has put out reports telling state schools “to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in (religious instruction) are evangelising to students who do not participate”.
It gives examples of what students must not say in the playground — such as “knowing about Jesus is a very important thing”, or “God, please help us to use our knowledge to help others”.
Nor may students hand out Christmas cards or decorations.
What do these bureaucrats fear from children inspired by Christ?
Is it that stuff about loving your neighbour? Or that instruction to respect the dignity of every human life that makes Christians the enemy of totalitarians?
But this ban on playground talk of Jesus is only the most shocking salvo of the new war on Christians.
Last week, two Christian preachers were summoned to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal for preaching their faith’s stand on traditional marriage and homosexuality.
Hobart pastor Campbell Mark­ham and street preacher David Gee, from Hobart’s Cornerstone Church, were denounced by an atheist offended by, among other things, Markham quoting a verse from the Bible.
We’ve seen this before. Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop, Julian Porteous, was two years ago ordered by this tribunal to tell by what right he spoke against same-sex marriage.
How cowed the churches have been before this looming persecution, now picking off vocal Christians, one by one.
Just this year, Sydney University’s Student Union threatened to deregister the university’s Evangelical Unionunless it stopped insisting members declare their faith in Christ.
Meanwhile, same-sex marriage extremists bullied Coopers Brewery into taking down a video of a Christian MP Andrew Hastie debating same-sex marriage, and lobbied IBM, PwC and Sydney University to punish staff belonging to a Christian group opposed to gay marriage.
Last week, 70 pro-Safe Schools activists picketed a church to abuse people at an Australian Christian Lobby meeting as “bigots”.
Last year, an ACL meeting was cancelled after the hotel venue was bombarded with threats.
The state-funded SBS joined in by banning an ad by Christians defending traditional marriage, yet ran one for an Ashley Madison dating service for adulterers.
The Greens are the political wing of this attack on Christianity, and are demanding churches lose their legal freedom to hire only people who live by their faith.
The media, too, often cheer this war, using as their excuse the sexual abuse of children by some priests and ministers decades ago.
Rarely do they admit the average gap between the alleged offences by Catholic priests and the lodging of complaints is 33 years. That suggests the churches did crack down on paedophiles decades ago.
But this vilification has had its effect. The Census shows the proportion of Australians calling themselves Christian has dropped from 74 per cent in 1991 to 52 per cent now.
No wonder, when the weaker churches cower before the persecution.
Last week, some even licked the boots of the anti-Christian ABC when it launched yet another attack, smearing churches as the haven of wife-beaters.
This ABC series led off with a ludicrously false claim: “The men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically.”
A week after I proved this untrue, the ABC edited its reports to replace that false claim with another: “Overall, the international studies indicate that intimate partner violence is just as serious a problem in Christian communities, as it is in the general community.”
Wrong again. Professor Bradford Wilcox, author of the American study the ABC cited as proof, complained “the (ABC’s) story … does not square with the evidence that church­going couples, in America at least, appear to be less likely to suffer domestic violence”.
In fact, Christianity produce better citizens in many ways.
Surveys show Christians are more inclined to volunteer, donate and keep families together.
So what do the enemies of Christianity wish to achieve by smearing, silencing and destroying this civilising faith? What would they replace it with?
With the atheism that preaches every man for himself? With Islam?
Or with the green faith that has not inspired a single hospital, hospice, school, or even soup kitchen?
Yet the persecution is starting. Are the churches ready?




The author is Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is Editor-at-Large on The Australian. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of the paper and he writes on Australian politics, public policy and international affairs. Paul has covered Australian governments from Gough Whitlam to Tony Abbott. He is a regular television commentator on Sky News program, Australian Agenda. He is the author of eight books including the End of Certainty on the politics and economics of the 1980’s. His most recent book Triumph and Demise covered the Rudd-Gillard era and his earlier book, The March of Patriots offered a re-interpretation of Paul Keating and John Howard in office.

In the litany of words about the census the core issue has been avoided — the almost certain link between the generational decline in the Christian faith as guide to the common good and the collapsing relationship between the people and the political system.

The reality is staring us in the face. Yet it cannot be spoken, cannot be entertained, cannot be discussed because there is no greater heresy and no more offensive ­notion than that the loss of Christian faith might have a downside.

Christianity has fallen from 88 per cent of the population in 1966 to 52 per cent today, and seems sure to slide soon below the 50 per cent threshold. It would be absurd to pretend this epic change does not have profound consequences for society since it constitutes the eclipse of a particular conception of human nature.

At the same time the past decade has witnessed a shattering of trust across the Western world ­including Australia between the people on one hand and politicians and elites on the other. This dysfunction in Australia has multiple causes within politics itself: the identity crisis of the major parties, the rise of negative politics, a self-interested Senate, leadership failures and internal disunity.

It is obvious, however, there is a deeper problem, that something more profound has gone wrong. The sense of a community of shared values is disintegrating. The most fundamental norms, ­accepted for centuries, are now falling apart as disputes erupt about family, education, gender, sexuality, marriage, tradition, patriotism, life and death.

The decline in our civic virtue is undisguised, respect for institutional authority has eroded, the idea of a common community purpose is undermined, trust is in ­retreat but the most important singular development is the transformed notion of the individual — the obsession about individual autonomy in every aspect of life: love, work, race, sex, culture and death. Put harshly but not inaccurately, it is narcissism presented as self-realisation and human rights.

The idea that our democracy is founded on core moral truths about human nature has collapsed — or is collapsing. Donald Trump’s election as President was driven by fear the American dream had been cancelled and by alarm that elites led a separate life and used power for their self-­interest. But the deeper source was a feeling that the moral foundations of the country were eroding.

Confronting the US dilemma, American writer George Weigel said: “The first step is to recognise that American politics is in crisis because our public moral culture is in crisis. The second step is to recognise that American public moral culture is in crisis because of a false understanding of freedom. And the third step is to recognise that the false notion of freedom evident across the spectrum of American politics is based on a false anthropology: a distorted idea of the human person and human aspiration.”

If this sounds too lofty or too deep, let’s revert to the brilliant 2015 book by New York Times columnist David Brooks, The Road to Character,to offer down-to-earth examples of what has happened.

Brooks says: “Psychologists have a thing called the narcissism test. They read people statements and ask if the statements apply to them. Statements such as ‘I show off if I get the chance because I am extraordinary’. The median narcissism score has risen 30 per cent in the last two decades. Ninety-three per cent of young people score higher than the middle score just 20 years ago.

“By 2007, 51 per cent of young people reported that being famous was one of their top personal goals. In one study middle-school girls were asked who they would most like to have dinner with. Jennifer Lopez came in first, Jesus Christ came in second and Paris Hilton third. The girls were then asked which of the following jobs they would like to have. Nearly twice as many said they’d rather be a celebrity’s personal assistant — for example, Justin Bieber’s — than president of Harvard.

“As I look around the popular culture I kept finding the same message everywhere: You are special. Trust yourself. Be true to yourself. Movies from Pixar and Disney are constantly telling children how wonderful they are. Commencement speeches are larded with the same cliches: Follow your passion. Don’t accept limits. Chart your own course. You have a responsibility to do great things because you are so great.”

Brooks argues there has been a “moral shift” in the way parents now raise children and this has permeated through institutions from Girl Scouts to the churches. He quotes a Texas preacher telling his flock: “You were made to excel. You were made to leave a mark on this generation.”

Australian writer Anne Manne, in her 2014 book The Life of I,says: “Changes in our culture have created an economic, social and relational world that not only supports but actually celebrates narcissism, cultivating and embedding it as a character trait.”

She says by the mid-2000s The New York Times declared that narcissism was not only an academic “growth industry” but also the explanation favoured “by columnists, bloggers and television psychologists”.

“Narcissism had become a central problem of our time,” Manne says. She quotes a prophetic ­passage from the path-breaking 1979 book by Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism,where Lasch talks about the preoccupation with self: “People now responded to others as if their actions were being recorded and simultaneously transmitted to an ­unseen audience or stored up for close scrutiny at some later time.”

Manne references the work by academics Keith Campbell and Jean Twenge showing the rise in narcissism over generations. They called the problem an “epidemic”. According to Manne’s summary, Campbell and Twenge concluded that “what makes a child grow into a narcissist is spoiling, indulgence, an absence of moral discipline in building character and a culture of excessive praise, of telling children they are special”.

“The new terror is to be invisible,” Manne says. “As playwright Preston Sturges once quipped, ‘He was forgotten before he was remembered.’ Lena Dunham, the clever and creative writer behind the hit show Girls,put the new sensibility this way: ‘My dad finds Twitter just infinitely unrelatable. He’s like, Why would you want to tell anybody what I had for a snack, it’s private! And I’m like, Why would you even have a snack if you didn’t tell anybody? Why bother eating?’ ”

Now reflect again on Weigel’s bedrock argument: that we have a “distorted idea of the human person and human aspiration”. In a deft juxtaposition, Brooks exposes how far we have come and how far we have fallen.

His book begins with a reflection on the generation of the Depression and World War II — described by writers but not themselves as the “greatest generation”. You might remember them, perhaps they were your parents, the last generation of the universal Christian norm.

What did they achieve?

Apart from suffering economic hardship, they won a war, beat the Germans, beat the Japanese, changed the world, backed their mates, ­returned home, raised families and contributed to their ­society. Guess what: they stayed humble. They didn’t beat their chests, didn’t say how great they were, didn’t seek media ­attention, ask what the country was doing for them, behave like narcissists or ­declare how extraordinary they were — when they had claims to being extra­ordinary.

Not only did they not boast about their achievements. Often they refused to even talk about them. How remarkable and humble was that? Brooks quotes Ernie Pyle, a war correspondent, saying: “We did not win it because destiny created us better than all other people.” Brooks says: “Their collective impulse was to warn themselves against pride and self-glorification.”

Many will recall the Australians of that era, a society of 88 per cent Christian nomination. People then had a different view of human nature. Yet their modesty, ­humility and Christian forbearance makes no sense in today’s world. The past is just a foreign country. Some of their generation went to church, others didn’t, some keenly avoided entering a church. But that was of no account. They were part of a Christian ­society in its outlook and virtues and view of human nature.

The progressives — and Brooks agrees to a certain extent — say the world has improved since the 1950s and 60s, when sexism, racism and homophobia were rampant. The truth is that values have changed; some of the changes are good and some are bad. For Brooks, it is a question of character.

He says: “The more I looked into that period, the more I ­realised I was looking into a different moral country. I began to see a different view of human nature, a different attitude about what is ­important in life, a different formula for how to live a life of character and depth.”

Brooks does not make the link to Christianity — yet the link is ­unavoidable. Many of the virtues of the greatest generation are lost or fading. Some people fight to ­retain them and are traduced as a result. It is impossible, however, to separate those virtues from the Christian norms that were so pervasive at the time. Narcissism was in short supply and never rewarded. In those days Christian virtue was the norm and, critically, it was always the default position.

Christianity shaped not just the view of human nature, individual morality and how people were ­expected to behave. It also shaped the social norms. American sociologist Charles Murray says: “Religion’s role as a source of social capital is huge.”

Murray refers to Robert Putnam who, in his classic book Bowling Alone, says: “As a rough rule of thumb our evidence shows (that) nearly half of all associational memberships are church-related, half of all personal philanthropy is religious in character and half of all volunteering occurs in a ­religious context.”

As Murray points out, the post-war standards of American society were overwhelmingly shaped by religious norms. There was near universal marriage, divorce was rare, television shows mirrored “the American way of life”, in films there were no four-letter words, nudity or sex, crime was low, few people even in poor neighbourhoods had served ­prison time and there was virtually no problem with illegal drugs.

On the other hand, people drank like fish and smoked like chimneys. The south was racially segregated, racial disadvantage was huge, the civil rights movement was about to erupt, women were held back, pollution in some cities had become untenable, poverty was disguised but widespread. The cultural revolution seeded in the 60s was at hand. It was an ­irresistible tidal wave propelled by a changing world, technology and a baby-boom generation.

As Murray says, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique in 1963, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring had appeared in 1962 ­triggering the environmental movement, Ralph Nader had begun his critique of the auto ­industry on ­behalf of consumers, Bob Dylan’s theme songs were being released and the Beatles had captured the youth of the West. Each of these events would resonate in Australia.

The rise of progressive values in the name of freedom and justice would march in parallel with the decline of religious faith. Put ­another way, they were different sides of the same coin. Eventually, the revolution took judicial and legal form. The greatest institution that embodied the new social order was the US Supreme Court.

In a series of judgments, the court redefined the idea of freedom and human nature. Weigel captures this, quoting from the majority decision in the 1992 planned parenthood case. “At the heart of liberty,” the judges said, “is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.” Led by Justice ­Anthony Kennedy, this philosophy was repeated in the more ­recent decision to impose same-sex marriage.

At this point individual autonomy and human rights (what some might call “the Big Me”) replaced the concept of an objective moral order founded in the Christian tradition. The notion of a God-­ordained morality was swept aside along with its view of mankind as more than a bundle of desires to be sanctified as human rights. Man, not God, was enshrined at the centre of the universe.

The judges reflected the spirit of the age and the cultural revolution that had transformed the West. The idea of freedom was separated from a higher order moral duty and tied to personal self-realisation and self-esteem. Narcissism was legitimised. Weigel says: “There is no claim here that the American democratic ­experiment rests on self-evident moral truths.” The upshot was a society of many truths; each person was granted autonomy to ­decide his or her own moral truth.

What does this mean for ­politics?

It requires little insight to conclude such a society and culture that prioritises a cult of “individualism” when translated into the political sphere is less cohesive and united, more divided over existing norms, less willing to accept the decisions and compromises of political leaders, far more difficult for politicians to manage and persuade and, above all, from which to extract a working majority position. In short, governing is harder, the gap between politicians and public more difficult to bridge and the society divided at its essence.

There is, however, an even deeper problem.

As the moral status of the church declines, the moral status of progressive ideology grows. Vacuums will be filled. Because the Christian ethos was tied to the past and tradition, it became a target for the new ideology of personal freedom. This is founded in the view that settler societies such as America and Australia have failed to come to terms with the racism, indigenous exploitation, sexism, patriarchy and monoculturalism at their heart. The task of community leaders was once to uphold the values of the civilisation; now, more often than not, it is to dismantle them.

Pivotal to this transition is the progressive attack on the Aristo­telian framework that made the West a success. This concept was articulated at various stages by the popes, notably Leo XIII and Pius XI. As outlined by Tulsa University professor Russell Hit­tinger, this envisages three “necessary” elements for human happiness: domestic society (marriage and family), faith and church and, finally, political ­society. A brief reflection might confirm the wisdom of this ­framework.

It is, however, now being dismantled in the new and manic crusade of human freedom. Pro­gressive doctrine denies any preferred model for family structure since that would be prejudicial and discriminatory; it now approaches its ultimate objective in the realm of faith — to drive ­religion from the public square and reject the role of religion and church as a mobiliser of social capital in a secular society.

The final logic is that everything depends upon politics. As the society of family and marriage ­becomes mired in confusion, as the society of church and religion is the target of assault, so the ­society of politics is being asked to assume a role and burden utterly beyond its capacity and guaranteed to leave community-wide ­unhappiness.

The tripartite design that made the West such a workable and ­successful proposition is being torn part. Once dismantled, it ­cannot be put back together. This is being done in the name of justice, rights and progress. There was an ­inevitability about the decline of Christian faith, but there was nothing inevitable about the dismal pretender that presents as its replacement.