Tony Abbott and the Usual Frenzied Reaction to Common Sense

It is perfectly predictable: have a politician from the conservative side of politics make a quite sensible remark about family issues, and the secular left goes absolutely ballistic. Tony Abbott’s rational comments about abstinence before marriage attracted all the usual suspects, and the mainstream media had a field day with all this.

The Opposition Leader, speaking in a woman’s magazine, was simply responding to questions put to him, and in this case was speaking more as a parent than a politician. He simply stated that in terms of advice he would give to his own three daughters, he would urge them not to easily give away their virginity, and try to have them adhere to the “rules” on sex before marriage. He said virginity was “the greatest gift” that could be given to someone and that women “shouldn’t give themselves away lightly”.

Nothing very shocking there. Most parents would concur. And of course he would include men here as well, but he was speaking in the context of his own daughters. Thus foolish charges of hypocrisy or sexism simply do not apply here.

However the other side didn’t wait long to get involved. For example Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard instantly went on the attack, saying he should basically just shut up, because women “don’t want to be lectured by Mr Abbott”. He of course was lecturing no one, but was responding to questions about himself and his family.

And it is a bit rich for someone who chooses to be childless to lecture someone about this topic who does have children. She is the one making a public and political stink out of this, while Mr Abbott was simply speaking about his personal family life – honestly and openly.

That most parents want their children not to be promiscuous and precocious, but to wait for Mr or Mrs Right is hardly an archaic or outdated notion. Indeed, the history of civilisation has been about the controlling of passions, especially sexual passion. As G.K. Chesterton once put it,

“What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex. For sex cannot be admitted to a mere equality among elementary emotions or experiences like eating and sleeping. The moment sex ceases to be a servant it becomes a tyrant. There is something dangerous and disproportionate in its place in human nature, for whatever reason; and it does really need a special purification and dedication. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.”

More recently social commentator Joseph Sobran put it this way: “The chief business of a sane society is simply the maintenance of the normal. And one of the central items on this eternal agenda is teaching the young sexual restraint. The state can’t do it. It has to be done mostly by parental example and tribal pressure.”

Yet how many times already have we heard critics complain about Abbott’s “puritanical” views? The truth is, even the Puritans may have had better insight on this issue than many moderns. Leland Ryken once wrote an interesting piece entitled, “Were the Puritans Right About Sex?” He said this:

“The Puritans had strict taboos (and, when they were in power, civil laws) against sexual perversions . . . because they regard[ed] sex itself as good. Every culture protects what it regards as sacred with safeguards and taboos. A rule against stealing, for example, does not reflect a low view of property but a high view of it; the prohibition of murder shows that a society regards life as sacred rather than cheap.”

And you don’t have to be religious to share such views (even though the issue of Mr Abbott’s Catholicism has been continually raised by his critics). For example secular author and lesbian Tammy Bruce writing in her 2003 volume, The Death of Right and Wrong, made this observation: “‘Sexual liberation’ has simply become a code phrase for the abandonment of personal responsibility, respect, and integrity.”

Scholars and academics also have noted the value in sexual restraint, and not opening the doors wide open to sexual abandon. Will and Ariel Durant, writing in The Lessons of History, put it this way: “The sex drive in the young is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.”

Or as Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin put it, “This sex revolution is as important as the most dramatic political or economic upheaval. It is changing the lives of men and women more radically than any other revolution of our time. . . . Any considerable change in marriage behavior, any increase in sexual promiscuity and sexual relations, is pregnant with momentous consequences. A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society.”

And J D Unwin of Cambridge University has also written about basic sexual goods, such as marriage and faithfulness: “The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilised unless it has been completely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs. Marriage as a life-long association has been an attendant circumstance of all human achievement, and its adoption has preceded all manifestations of social energy. . . . Indissoluble monogamy must be regarded as the mainspring of all social activity, a necessary condition of human development.”

So it is not just a handful of “religious nuts” as the MSM would have us believe, who share similar beliefs to Mr Abbott. There are plenty of people who readily resonate with the thoughts and values of the Opposition Leader. In fact, probably most.

And it seems we may have here a good rule of thumb: the more hysterical the reaction by the secular left and the MSM, the more likely the offending remarks are sane, sober and sensible. That is certainly the case here.

[1079 words]

75 Replies to “Tony Abbott and the Usual Frenzied Reaction to Common Sense”

  1. Bill, your rule of thumb (“the more hysterical the reaction by the secular left and the MSM, the more likely the offending remarks are sane, sober and sensible”), has certainly been true of this society for many years, and there seems little prospect of turning it around. But as the prophet Isaiah said: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)
    Lindsay Smail

  2. And if he didn’t tell his daughters they are worth more than just cheap sex then what sort of parent would he be anyway? Young girls need their fathers to tell them that they are worth more than what most young men will pay up front. Girls who are more secure in their father’s love don’t have such an urgent, great need for male love.
    Felicity Rachael

  3. The reaction to Mr Abbott’s statement staggered me – it just sounded like common sense! What’s up with our society that we think telling kids that they can choose to deny gratification in the short term for long term gain is controversial?

    Hardly anybody thinks an athlete aspiring to win an Olympic Gold medal is silly for enduring considerable levels of pain and discomfort for that achievement. I don’t know too many who think if you can save money rather than spend it all for the sake of a major purchase (house, car, holiday, etc.) would tell you to shut up. I lost a lot of weight a couple of years back and many ask me what the ‘secret’ is! (They’re almost hankering to be “lectured” but I just tell them – ‘burn more than what you eat’!)

    Why is self-control for the possibility of a close and fulfilling relationship for the rest of your life seen differently? Surely that is an even greater prize!

    Julia Gillard has a right to an opinion, but she’s obviously clueless about this and like most lefties and anti-God types, unaware of her fundamental double standard here.

    Furthermore, a study from the US in 2003 showed that most parents want kids to exercise self-control. Well, duh.

    79 percent of parents want young people taught that sex should be reserved for marriage or for an adult relationship leading to marriage.
    91 percent of parents want young people taught that sex should be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment and that these qualities are most likely to occur in marriage.
    79 percent of parents want teens taught that teen sexuality activity is likely to have psychological and physical effects.

    http://www.abstinence.net/library/index.php?entryid=3100

    Mark Rabich

  4. I think Andrew Bolt is right that this was just Julia Gillard playing political opportunist to take a cheap dishonest swipe at Abbott, especially given that it is blatantly false that Abbot was lecturing Australian women instead of just giving away his personal views of fatherhood;

    “You know why Gillard has done such a nasty, dishonest and even irresponsible thing, of course. Labor’s polling tells them that painting Abbott, unfairly, as a mad Catholic finger-wagger will win them votes from the stupid and bigotted.”

    Senator Brandis put it well

    “I think people are entitled to know what their politicians think and beyond the narrow range of issues about public policy but it’s, it is just bizarre – bizarre – to say that because a person, a politician says, ‘well, this is my particular view about this particular moral issue,’ they are somehow forcing their morality down other people’s throats. Nonsense.”

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/childless-julia-gillard-cant-understand-parents-on-the-issue-of-virginity-brandis/story-e6frgczf-1225824067952

    Damien Spillane

  5. How many of you can claim to be virgins when you married?

    Maria O’Hare, Melbourne

  6. Thanks Marie

    My wife and I certainly were, along with hundreds of millions of other people. It’s actually not all that difficult to achieve; the ability to exercise self-control is one of the areas in which we differ from animals.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. Well said Bill!

    Does Julia Gillard have any children? I thought as much…….

    Applause to Tony Abbott, wish my daughters had a father like him!

    Lynn Nerdal

  8. Hi Marie,

    I’m 42, never married & a virgin. I can send you a photo if you like and you can decide if it’s because how I look… LOL

    Next question?

    But I have some for you – do you think it is irresponsible or unrealistic to teach young people that abstinence is quite achievable? How do you think I got to where I am?

    Also, I donate blood regularly – I actually have O negative which is the only type able to be given to anybody else in an emergency. Let’s say you have a son or daughter in urgent need of a pint and you have a choice of me or the so-called typical ‘red-blooded’ (wink, wink) Aussie bloke (also O negative) as a donor.

    Who gets the gig?

    Mark Rabich

  9. Way to go Tony Abbott, have they gone completely mad?
    Its good thing Gillard doesnt have children, Thank God for that…
    Daniel Kempton

  10. Our country needs a father figure who freely gives sound, solid moral advice.

    Another word for virginity is abstinence.

    Judith Bond

  11. Amazing that the government is allowed to preach to us on wearing seatbelts, smoking, sun screen and a host of other personal issues, yet Abbott is somehow wrong for ‘preaching’ on sex….
    Alan Grey

  12. Love the way you talk, Mark Rabich. I will use your examples re saving for house, car etc. and weight loss from now on. God bless you for your common sense, which I suspect is what is often referred to in Proverbs as “wisdom”, and I was saved out of the hippie scene.
    Ian Brearley

  13. To you and your many good readers Bill – J D Unwin is a particularly interesting example of someone who thought keeping sex for marriage was a great institutional evil, which brought on neurosis and all sorts of problems in people. He had been to see Sigmund Freud, and not hard to see where some of his influences came from, but to his credit, he thoroughly researched the subject. (those in Berea were more noble than these, and searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so – Acts of the Apostles) and (it is an honor for kings to search out a matter – Proverbs). His findings were just the opposite – he found that monogamy invariably accompanied an energetic and overcoming society. I found his old book (1934) in the ANU library here in Canberra and was fascinated. Of all the 80 “uncivilised” (his words) societies, and the 6 “civilised” societies that he studied, there was no variation to the findings, that keeping sex for marriage elevated the society, and he set out to prove just the opposite. God bless all sincere seekers of the Truth, which is Jesus Himself.
    Ian Brearley

  14. Thank you Bill for your contribution to this important issue. I have also done my best where I can in defence of something which is truly beautiful and sacred. I was married when I was eighteen and have been married for fifty five years to a very dear man who thinks the same as Tony Abott who obviously cherishes his three beautiful daughters. He will reap what he has sown as we have. Most of the sex crazed media in our society have been terribly one sided about this. Channel Nine’s Current Affair featured the Editor of that ghastly woman’s magazine who posed the question. It also featured people in the street who obviously had not at any time given the matter any deep thought but were blindly following trends ruled by the emotions and instincts rather than level headed reasoning. Like climate change the issue really is being debated on the internet as you cannot rely on the TV.
    Patricia Halligan

  15. It is so nice to see some of the comments here, they make a lot of sense and they seem to be made by normal ordinary people who thankfully are willing to share their views and opinions. Now all I would like to see is some of you run for office – you might just be what Australia needs at this time of uncertainty and you certainly would make a difference by bringing some stability, rationality and integrity to the table. God Bless you all.
    Steve Davis

  16. Hi Maria,

    Just a thought. You are asking the wrong question.

    You asked …

    How many of you can claim to be virgins when you married?

    That question is actually neither here not there given the current discussion. A better question would have been

    How many of you can claim to be virgins when you married, and have no regrets about that decision, or vice versa?

    After all, someone may chose to have sex before marriage and then profoundly regret the choice later as I have seen in a number of couples, where they were sexually active with partners before marriage but after meeting their spouse and getting married regretted that they had done so. Surely these people are more qualified to comment on the question of the wisdom of sexual abstinence as they made the choice and regretted it.

    Perhaps there are some who did remain virgins until marriage and then later wished they had taken the opportunity to “sow their wild oats” before hand, but I don’t think I’ve ever met such people who are intent on remaining married. Maybe it is just the crowd I run with.

    Either way, your question is misguided and fails to really come to grips with the important points.

    Jason Rennie

  17. Bill, could you tell me which magazine Tony Abbott was quoted from? I would love to read the article.

    I was so excited when Tony Abbott became opposition leader – finally, someone with a moral backbone who is not afraid to put his views out there. You’d have to admire the man even if you don’t agree with his views (which I wholeheartedly do!).

    Karen Chew

  18. It’s a concern that Julia Gillard will stoop to denigrate Tony Abbott for his personal comments for the chief benefit of gaining labor party browny points.
    It’s even more of a concern that she may well have done this because she actually believes in this view and considers herself prime ministerial material.
    Gerry Van Hees

  19. Karen,

    Perhaps you ought to get a copy of the AWW and read his comments on IVF for same-sex couples, abortion, gay marriage and contraception before you too excited about him.

    Peter Richards, NSW

  20. Bill, well said here. Interesting how the left simply can’t let a comment pass to the keeper. Me thinks they’re worried!

    Seriously, the picture of Abbott with his three beautiful daughters says it all – what Dad wouldn’t want to protect them!

    Cheers,

    Paul Russell

  21. Julia Gillard has showed her nasty streak on this occasion. I think she should actually apologize for her nasty manipulation of this issue.
    Jane Petridge

  22. Hi Maria,

    It is quite unwise to enter this argument by asking people whether or not they were virgins before they were married. It is something that I was taught to try and achieve in order to protect my heart and body from the problems that sexual promiscuity can cause.
    I achieved this, and married an equally virtuous man, and am all the happier for it. There are lots of promiscuous people, when you look around who are unhappy in marriage and in single life, in the area of sexuality, so I wouldn’t be quick to judge this comment about chastity.

    Jane Petridge

  23. I thought it would have been obvious that my question was rhetorical. I am not interested in actually knowing anyone’s sexual history, but was merely hinting that sinners might be wise to abstain from casting stones, and males need to cautious about setting a double standard.

    Tony Abbott has not led a blameless life, nor has his marriage apparently been the worse for it. The reality is that people marry much later in life now, and it is the norm that couples cohabit before marriage. Young people no longer understand the need for a certificate of permission before having sex. It’s not good enough to tell people to abstain, without providing very good reasons why.

    Maria O’Hare

  24. Thanks Maria

    I am not sure what the ‘casting stones’ bit has to do with any of this, or how any male ‘double standards’ are at play here. As to his marriage, your reasoning is curious to say the least. I am not aware of anyone currently in a lasting marriage who gloats over previous sexual encounters. Most look back with regret on such things, and wish they hadn’t, realising their marriage might be better and stronger had they not messed around beforehand.

    As to cohabitation, the social science evidence here is clear: couples who cohabit before marriage will be 50 per cent more likely to see their marriage end in divorce, compared to those who don’t.

    Finally, the case for abstinence is well known and widely available. Abbott of course was not asked to provide a discourse on the topic, so he didn’t. But the reasons are as numerous as they are convincing. To mention just one, staying a virgin until marriage is the only way to achieve true safe sex (not just ‘safer sex’, as is the current way of discussing these matters). If a man and woman remain chaste before marriage, and then stay faithful within marriage, they have a zero chance of contacting an STD, of which there are now well over fifty, not least of which being HIV/AIDS. (Using intravenous needles or receiving contaminated blood would be the only other ways to pick up such diseases.)

    I cover these issues in more detail elsewhere, for example: https://billmuehlenberg.com/1996/02/08/questions-about-our-condom-culture/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  25. Is “because God says so” a good reason Maria? it is not only good enough for me but it is the only way for my children! It is the only way to healthy relationships and solid marriages. (not to condemn those who were not chaste before marriage and have since repented, I am one of those people myself. I didn’t know any better at the time and God’s truth and grace have overtaken me since then, all glory to Him!)

    “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

    1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT

    Lynn Nerdal

  26. Maria,

    Who are the sinners “casting the stones” here?

    Tony Abbott was merely saying what advice he would offer his daughters re. sex before marriage. This advice was given in the light of his own experiences, which probably caused him great reason for reflection and re-evaluation in his later life.

    As far as I am concerned, Tony Abbott has been quite honest about his shortcomings in the past years, unlike Rudd, who portrays the Great Christian Image and is discovered in a strip joint pissed as a fart in his early life, with no comment forthcoming for a good while!

    So, please explain the “double standard” you speak of?

    “Young people no longer understand the need for a certificate of permission before having sex.”

    Oh Yes, and there are plenty of young people who are not satisfied with their lives also – Domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, rampant promiscuous sexual activity, mental health issues such as depression, and disengagement from school to name a few.

    Would love to hear your response.

    Jane Petridge

  27. So Bill, who claims to have been a drug-toting, underground-newspaper-publishing member of the counter-culture in the late 1960s, now also claims to have been a virgin on his wedding night in 1982, at which stage he would have been 29. Hmmmmmmmmm. I think I smell the distinct odour of BS.

    And it’s a very wise man who knows that his bride is a virgin.
    Miles Gordon

  28. It fascinates me why it is that Catholic politicians are put under media scrutiny because of their views on social, moral and ethical issues. Are pollies who are atheists, Jews, Humanists, Buddhists or those from other Christian faiths put under the spotlight to the same extent? Not on your Nelly!!!.

    Maybe the media should ask Kevin Rudd the same questions because he claims to be a committed Christian often photographed after attending an Anglican service or praying at the tomb of Blessed Mary MacKillop. Maybe those same women who won’t vote for the Opposistion Leader because of certain of his views won’t vote for the PM either if as a committed Anglican, he has the same views.

    Regarding the advice on chastity – it seems to me that most parents of whatever faith (or indeed no faith) would warn their children of the dangers of early and indiscriminate sexual behaviour where they are likely to contract STDs, become infertile therefrom, need to consider abortion, adoption or early marriage all of which options could seriously affect the rest of their lives.

    I believe Mr. Abbott made the remark before becoming Leader of the Libs that 100,000 abortions in this country each year is a disgrace and I couldn’t agree more especially as they are paid for by the taxpayer.

    If Mr. Abbott really wanted to cause a stir among women voters who apparently will not vote for him because of certain of his view e.g abortion he could have said that those women who believe in abortion on demand will never vote for me and I don’t know if I would really want their vote.

    Patti Smith

  29. Thanks Miles

    If the best you can contribute to this debate is to go around accusing people of being liars, then this will be your first and last comment here. It was certainly possible to be a wild hippy in the 60s and yet not be sexually active. I am not proud of my wild past, and I did a lot of things back then as a non-Christian which I now deeply regret, but jumping into bed was not one of the things I engaged in. Indeed, that was true of many of my hippy friends as well.

    While you may have problems getting your head around this, since both my wife and I were Christians when we did get married, honesty was something we could count on in this regard. As I said, many millions of married couples managed to remain virgins until they were married. Perhaps that is true of most people throughout most of human history. That some people find this to be so amazing simply tells us something about them rather than the facts of the case.

    And it is always interesting to observe how the secular left operates in these debates. Instead of presenting any evidence or rational argument, they simply resort to character assassinations, ugly remarks and cheap shots. Sure beats mounting a strong and telling argument.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  30. In response to Jason, who responded to Mary.
    That is a very good way to put the question. I am one of those who regret having been promiscuous before marriage. I praise God for his Mercy and his forgiveness, but I expect the scars to remain with me until I enter eternity. I am still very selfish in the sense, rather than rationising about civilisations and society in general, I don’t want my children to have to take baggage into their marriage like I did, so we teach them very clearly that whatever God requires of us is always good for us, because He is the good God. God can fix a lot of things after we messed them up and He does, but why mess them up in the first place, when we don’t have to? Apart from wrong, it is totally stupid as well.
    Ursula Bennett

  31. Hi Jason, that’s a good question you’re asking. I also always wonder what the results would be if married couples are asked on the day of their wedding or one year anniversary: “Who of you are truely glad and relieved that you did not wait for this one partner and would recommend not waiting for marriage to unmarried people.”

    This one is really breaking my brain. The “educated West” is very critical of South Africa’s president for setting a bad example by practising free sex (as a fully grown man mind you) and also for marrying a few wives. Now, a leader in their midst, makes a comment hinting at a sense of morality regarding an issue which is extremely destructive to the youth of the world and what happens? The “educated West” are disgusted at him for it, they want him to be like his opposing leader who seems to be busy with balancing tricks on the fence.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised though. Maybe those speaking out against Mr Abbott are not the ones complaining about South Africa’s uncivilised president (personally I consider him a decent leader considering his culture and everything), maybe they are the ones who would be glad that he sleeps around occasionally and rules over more than one wive because “it is also important that he gets to practice his culture”. I don’t know. Brain-breaker.

    Servaas Hofmeyr, South Africa

  32. Julie Gillard’s reaction sounds like someone with a guilty conscience. Especially when taking his comments so out of context.
    Andrea Mellor

  33. Hi Bill, I believe that anything Tony Abbott says from now on, the reaction from the Government will be enormous because I (they know?) think he is a force to be reckoned with. So this isnt just about what he said on this issue in response to a question, its about destroying his credibilty any which way they can.
    Siti Khatijah

  34. I really like this article Bill, and it has been intersting for me to see the controversy that has come out of it.
    I have have a question for those who dispute the value of abstinace before marriage. If your spouse truly saved themselved for you and for only you, would you fell honoured or disrespected. Or perhaps if you look at it the other way, if they did not, would you feel respected?

    Marriage should be based on true love, not jsut fluffy feelings, but the choise to love ones partner, even when it means personal sacrifise. So many marriages today are based on “to have and to hold…as long as it suits me”. If you were on the recieveing end of this, again I ask, how would you feel? Honoured or rejected?
    It is not imposible to save oneself for one person, all it takes is some self control.
    I belive that one reason why there is such a lack of self control is society at the moment realetes to another of Bill’s articles regarding children going wild.
    So many people throw out morals and values because it is seen as “religios”, but there are so many benafits to society when the people abide by them. I think that many people know the difference between what is right and wrong, but the just choose to ignore it for the imediate pleasure.
    Jamie Thomas

  35. Nothing very shocking there.

    Nothing shocking at all. Just good, fatherly advice. I hope his daughters listen to him.

    Louise Le Mottee

  36. Julia Gillard instantly went on the attack, saying he should basically just shut up, because women “don’t want to be lectured by Mr Abbott”.

    Some women don’t want to have to listen to Gillard at all.

    Louise Le Mottee

  37. What had happened to the human imagination, as a whole, was that the whole world was coloured by dangerous and rapidly deteriorating passions; by natural passions becoming unnatural passions. Thus the effect of treating sex as only one innocent natural thing was that every other innocent natural thing became soaked and sodden with sex.

    Exactly! Gotta love Chesterton!

    Louise Le Mottee

  38. The modern talk about sex being free like any other sense, about the body being beautiful like any tree or flower, is either a description of the Garden of Eden or a piece of thoroughly bad psychology, of which the world grew weary two thousand years ago.

    Excellent.

    “‘Sexual liberation’ has simply become a code phrase for the abandonment of personal responsibility, respect, and integrity.”

    That was very well said.

    And it seems we may have here a good rule of thumb: the more hysterical the reaction by the secular left and the MSM, the more likely the offending remarks are sane, sober and sensible. That is certainly the case here.

    Yes, sounds about right.

    Good post, Bill.

    Louise Le Mottee

  39. Dear Bill, You have shown how deeply many treasure chastity of our dear daughters.
    Five times I responded to the question, ‘who gives this woman to this man to be her lawful wife’:
    ‘On behalf of my beloved wife and self, we give our treasured daughter’.
    Harrold Steward

  40. My wife squeezed my hand, ‘It has taken 120 years of love, sacrifice, bible teaching and daily prayer to prepare these five beautiful young women for this godly union. It has been our investment for our beloved Lord.’
    Bill, you may call us to pray for Tony Abbott to give a spiritual leadership to our nation.
    Harrold Steward

  41. Hi Maria,

    I know you intended the question to be rhetorical, but I think your question was mistaken, rhetorical or otherwise. Whether someone has engaged in premarital sex or any other behavior that they later take a stand against is irrelevant. People are able to change their minds, and if someone has engaged in some behavior that they later come to regret, that should make their advice more credible not less as you suggest. They have freely chosen a behavior and learned the hard way that it was a dumb idea.

    Also i’m not sure what you mean by “casting stones”. Surely if someone has engaged in premarital sex and regretted the decision they are not “casting stones” but actually offering heart felt advice about how to avoid a tragic mistake they themselves made.

    And setting a “double standard”? I’m not sure where you get that idea from in any of this. Mr Abbott was asked what he wanted for his daughters. If he has no sons then how can you accuse him of setting a double standard? Also, I don’t think anybody here has suggested that men should be held to a lower standard? If anything I suspect extra-martial sex may in some ways be more damaging to men than women because of the lack of stigma associated with it for men in our culture.

    As for Tony Abbott not leading a blameless life. What is your point? He has made mistakes and as far as I can see he isn’t saying “it was OK for me to do this but I don’t think my daughters should”. It looks much more like a Father saying, “Don’t repeat my dumb mistakes because I love you and want whats best for you”.

    I’m curious to know where this amazing psychic insight comes from that his marriage has not endured any travails from his earlier mistakes? What do you base this on exactly? I didn’t realize I was addressing an omniscient being.

    Also, as for couples marrying later. This might be true, but the data is also clear, that co-habitation before marriage causes problems down the track on average. So I am unsure of your point.

    Also you are right, young people sadly have been convinced by lunatics like Guilliard and her ilk, that sex isn’t something that ought to be regulated by marriage, and that they can behave as they like without consequence, despite the obvious idiocy of this sort of thinking. Do you think the Women’s Weekly column was the right place to start dismantling this sort of rampant idiocy though?

    Jason Rennie

  42. Hi Bill,

    According to the ABS statistics, there have been some significant trends in marriage in Australia:
    – a steady increase in age at marriage.
    – a steady marriage rate.
    – a steady increase in the number of couples cohabiting before marriage.
    – a steady decline in the divorce rate since 2001.

    The reduction in the divorce rate has been attributed to greater maturity of those entering marriage, and the good economic conditions.

    I can’t see how these facts are compatible with your assertion that couples who cohabit before marriage are more likely to divorce, since cohabitation is increasing and divorce is decreasing.

    We make too much of the marriage ceremony. Up until about 500 years ago, marriage was largely a private promise of love and fidelity. The formality and the legality are inventions of man, not of God.

    Maria O’Hare

  43. Thanks Maria

    The social science research on cohabitation and later divorce rates are clear, and a matter of the public record. Simply living in denial about them adds nothing to the argument. A simplistic glance at general trends in the past few years does not nullify that research. The truth is, both cohabitation rates and divorce rates have been quite high for some time now, and that is the correlation we should be looking more closely at.

    But of more concern is where you are coming from. It is not clear that you are claiming to be a Christian here, but if you are, your obvious low view of Scripture and biblical ethics is a matter of genuine concern.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  44. Hi Maria,

    Are you sure you are reading those ABS statistics correctly?

    Bill is right, the social science on cohabitation and divorce is wide spread and in line with his claim. Cohabitation before marriage increases the chance of divorce.

    You also note that marriage rates have been steady but divorce rates and marriage age are increasing. Might some of this short term reduction in divorce rate (You don’t actually cite the numbers here, are we talking a rate reductions from 70% -> 69.9%, which is a reduction but hardly much of one and probably just noise in the system, or something like 50% -> 40% which would be significant) not be attributable directly to those people coming of age who suffered through the divorce of their parents ? That would account for a certain gun shy attitude about marriage as well as a reduced divorce rate, just as adequately as your “greater maturity” claim does.

    Do you have a link (or better yet just include) the actual numbers, rather than just referring to general trends? The actual numbers might well suggest alternative explanations that a reference to “trends” does not.

    I’m also wondering what you base your last statement on exactly. Could you include some references as I find it intriguing. Clearly you aren’t a christian or at least reject a biblical understanding of marriage, but even then, i’m not sure where you get this 500 year number from.

    Jason Rennie

  45. Maria, marriage and its attendant ceremonies takes on a variety of forms but it has been protected in pretty well every society since the year dot. This is for the sake of the children and society.

    Whether too much is made of the wedding is one point, but it is a separate matter from marriage itself. Personally, I don’t see why people should go into debt for a ceremony. Simple but beautiful is good and the important bit is the marriage itself and how that fares over the years.

    Louise Le Mottee

  46. The plain fact is that many people suffer from having handed themselves round like a tea tray. There are many people like Tony Abbott who are “reformed characters” and who wish to alert our children to the *many* dangers of pre-marital sex and a general lack of purity.

    Because I love my children, I want for them what is truly good. Like Tony Abbott, I want them to treasure their virginity and only give it to someone who is deserving.

    Louise Le Mottee

  47. Cohabiting couples also have a very high rate of separation, so that in many cases, they split before the eldest child is 5. This is bad for the poor kids. Marriage definitely protects kids.
    Louise Le Mottee

  48. Thanks Louise

    Yes quite right (to your first 29/1 2pm comment). Marriage has never been primarily a personal affair. Throughout human history marriage has been a social institution, with clear social and legal parameters. The marriage ceremony is a public declaration of the commitment of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others. It sends a social and legal message that this man and woman are now off limits, and they now have a publically recognised, official relationship. This is both to regulate human sexuality, as well as to protect the offspring of such a union. I am afraid Maria has been attending too many feminist sociology courses, instead of becoming familiar with the actual historical nature of this institution.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  49. Tony Abbott has not led a blameless life

    Who has, Maria? I don’t know anyone who has. If a person has to lead a blameless life to speak of morality then we had better not speak of it at all and that applies to all the people who call people “racist” and “homophobic” and “bigot” etc.

    Oh, and “liar” as well, Miles.

    Louise Le Mottee

  50. As always God’s way of doing things is revealed as the only way of doing things. It simply takes the passing of time before we inevitably realise how His seemingly simple formula of one man and one woman is the most profound bedrock on which a society can build. Tony’s not perfect but he got it right this time.
    Anthony McGregor

  51. Jason,

    The decline in divorce rates in Australia has been about 10% in absolute numbers since 2001. Here is the government source I used, but you can find many other references to this trend:
    Women in Australia 2009

    Bill, if you research the history of marriage, you will find that it wasn’t till 1563 that the Council of Trent decreed that marriages should be celebrated in the presence of a priest and two witnesses, and required free consent of the parties. Prior to that, many marriages were the result of a busines deal between the respective fathers.

    Maria O’Hare

  52. Thanks Maria

    But giving us short term trends tells us nothing. And anyone can look up the relevant ABS stats on the topic. Long term trends are what are needed here. Roughly at about the same time that the Family law Act was passed, cohabitation also came to be quite popular. Both divorce rates and cohabitations have increased greatly since that time. The fact that divorce rates have temporarily levelled off and/or slightly dipped in the short term means nothing. The more important point is that they have levelled off at much higher rates than they were a half century ago. But this is only one piece of the puzzle, and the social science research on how cohabitation prior to marriage adversely affects later marriage is well established. But of course people pushing agendas and ideologies would prefer not to deal with the actual evidence.

    Thanks for tip, but I have been researching the history of marriage for the past two decades now. It has been part of my job description. And you of course completely missed my point. Where did I anywhere talk about priests? My point was the social function of marriage, and the public message it has always sent, along with various social and legal recognitions and boundaries associated with it. Any impartial reading of the historical record on this will make this clear. I’m afraid all your remarks are telling us is how tightly you are bound to your narrow feminist ideology, and how you need to be more widely read here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  53. “We make too much of the marriage ceremony. Up until about 500 years ago, marriage was largely a private promise of love and fidelity. The formality and the legality are inventions of man, not of God.”

    Maria, you might be right about the distorted emphasis on the ceremony, but in regards to your assertion about your alleged change in views about 500 years ago, I would direct your attention to the story of Mary and Joseph. Betrothal was not a private matter, it was publicly and legally binding, hence the reason why Joseph sought to divorce her quietly when he found out about her pregnancy. That is significantly more than just a private broken engagement. Furthermore, scripture makes it clear that marriage is actually just for here on earth and is just a temporary and limited picture of what the eternal relationship between Jesus and his Church will be like. Refer to Hosea, Matthew 22:30, Ephesians 5:22-33, and Revelation 19:7-8 for starters.

    But I don’t really get what your ongoing problem with this is. Tony Abbott was giving some excellent advice to his daughters, and it is realistic to say what he did, as has been demonstrated by myself and others here. Abstinence is both possible and healthy – I would say the major benefit to me is how I avoid unnecessary complications in life in so very many ways people wouldn’t even begin to imagine – and sex within marriage only just seems a wonderful thing to be able to do for someone you commit your life to until death intervenes. That last thing also speaks to me to reveal the key error about society today – it commonly fails to understand that your ability to do sex is not so much for you as it is for somebody else. Most often, any sexual advice I hear (sadly unavoidable to at least some degree in society today) lacks the key grounding of unselfishness. Unfortunately, this mindset is influencing far too many Christians.

    As an aside, I found it a bit ironic earlier when you used the old ‘it’s-just-a-piece-of-paper’ argument, in view of the fact that on a different ‘controversial’ subject many anti-Christians denounce the fact they are supposedly ‘denied’ that certificate. Apparently then it does have some value in that situation of stopping people’s ‘happiness’ or something! I suspect all this is more about just boring old rebellion, something the world has seen countless times before and always ends up causing copious amounts of human misery and death.

    Finally, I’d like to add that it always seems absurd to me how people seem to think God is anti-sex. I always feel like saying – “Really?” Actually, every sexual function was invented by God. No matter what the ‘experts’ may say about it, God had a ‘blank page’, so to speak. and then designed the whole system along with the complex interrelatedness of the physical, spiritual and emotional parts of our lives. Every. single. part. of. it. God is not a ‘prude’, the way many would have you believe. But neither does that mean you just blather about it like you might talk about different ways of having a cup of coffee. Chesterton was right, there is clearly nothing else like it and therefore needs to be treated carefully. The designer – the inventor and engineer – knows best and I’m also reminded of something related to figuring out how a new electronic device works when you bring it home – read the instructions!

    The current common ideas (cohabitation, artificial stimulants, playing relationship games, etc.) just seem like extremely poor counterfeits to me. The reality is that the combined knowledge of all these so-called ‘experts’ is worthless where it deviates from God’s original design. I’m sticking with what I know so far, even if some of my knowledge is only theoretical. But in other ways, some of mine is practical where theirs is theoretical! And I’m still yet to know of any wedding night virgins regretting that experience, but plenty who regret the other scenarios. It seems to me that Mr Abbott is speaking from the latter point of view.

    What have you really got to be critical about here, Maria? Stop listening to those who haven’t got a clue!

    Mark Rabich

  54. Hi Maria,

    I just want to point out an alarming statistic regarding child abuse and the increase of incidents of child abuse in Australia. Please go to the following website to read the facts.

    http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/sheets/rs1/rs1.html

    I know from work experience that children who suffer abuse come primarily from single parent or de-facto homes. They usually suffer under the hands of visiting partners in the relationship. Bill has written articles regarding this alarming correlation.

    Marriages between biological father and mother are always the best environment to bring up children and again, Bill has offered plenty of evidence to support this in previous essays.

    Jane Petridge

  55. Mark Rabich: As an aside, I found it a bit ironic earlier when you used the old ‘it’s-just-a-piece-of-paper’ argument, in view of the fact that on a different ‘controversial’ subject many anti-Christians denounce the fact they are supposedly ‘denied’ that certificate. Apparently then it does have some value in that situation of stopping people’s ‘happiness’ or something!

    I assume you’re speaking of the current prohibition of gay marriage. It’s not that being denied the right to marry stops homosexuals from being happy, it’s that it stops homosexuals from being equal before the law. Of course, being treated as a second class citizen does have a negative impact upon one’s self-esteem, so it does affect happiness in a way. But that doesn’t mean the lack of a marriage certificate makes a relationship less ‘happy’.

    Heather Bates

  56. Mark,

    Thanks for your thoughts on human sexuality, notwithstanding your lack of personal knowledge of the subject.

    Regarding “anti-Christians”, I assume you mean gays, even though some of them are actually Christians. As I understand it, the main reason many of them want the “piece of paper” is for legal certainty over shared property etc.

    In everything I’ve said here, I’ve merely quoted facts. I would have thought the information (apparently news to many here) that the divorce rate is dropping would be most welcome.

    Instead, I’m accused of being a feminst idealogue by Bill. How laughable. I’m a 72 year-old widow and grandmother, who grew up well before the sexual and feminist revolutions. Nevertheless, I was always respected as an equal by my husband. I gather that some here would like to see a return to a past era when women were chattels. If that’s not the case, why this obsession with “feminism”? As far as I can see, everything feminism has done has been good for women’s self-worth as humans. Why the negativity?

    Maria O’Hare

  57. Thanks Heather

    But all you do is confirm the points we have been making, and on two fronts. Contra Maria, you acknowledge that marriage is far more than a mere private transaction, but a very real public good with legal, social and other public ramifications.

    And contra the homosexual lobby, you spill the beans here. The truth is, most homosexuals do not want marriage. What they do want is the symbolism of marriage, the full social acceptance, government recognition, and all the benefits thereof. In other words, its part of their campaign to seek the normalisation of the abnormal.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  58. Thanks Maria

    But only an ideologue would push the simply inane line that unless one has experienced something firsthand, one is not qualified to speak on it. Try telling doctors who have not experienced a particular disease that they are not qualified to speak on it, let alone treat it. Are you equally indignant at Julia Gillard who dared to pontificate on this topic, since she too is childless?

    And you are telling us what here: that older people cannot be feminists, or push ideological agendas? When people play fast and loose with the historical record and the sociological data, then yes indeed, ideology is at work.

    As to your quoting facts, anyone can “quote facts”. The important thing is to provide relevant facts that actually help sustain the argument being made. You have failed to do that so far.

    And please spare us the “women were chattels” mantra. If that isn’t a dead giveaway of your feminism, I don’t know what is. Indeed, you have been giving us clues to your ideological leanings here all along: denigrating Abbott, rewriting history, questioning the social science data, minimising marriage, promoting cohabitation, and now pushing the homosexual agenda: these are all major features of the secular left and feminist worldview. So it’s pretty hard to accept that you are just some neutral and objective observer in this debate.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  59. Contra Maria, you acknowledge that marriage is far more than a mere private transaction, but a very real public good with legal, social and other public ramifications.

    All I said was that homosexuals can enjoy a happy relationship without a marriage certificate. Mark suggested that homosexuals want to get married in order to be happy – but he’s wrong – homosexuals want the right to get married so as to be seen as equal as far as government is concerned. Having said that, we know that some will still insist that homosexuals will never be equal to heterosexuals, and the granting of marriage certificates to same-sex couples won’t make them change their minds.

    The truth is, most homosexuals do not want marriage. What they do want is the symbolism of marriage, the full social acceptance, government recognition, and all the benefits thereof.

    Social acceptance, government recognition and associated benefits sound like perfectly reasonable requests to me. Don’t you want these things?

    Heather Bates

  60. Thanks Heather

    You push the old ruse of seeking to treat unequal things equally. You mix apples with oranges, in other words. I am all in favour of people receiving the benefits of marriage, as long as they meet the conditions and requirements of marriage – the most basic of which is having one man and one woman. Governments have no obligation whatsoever to treat unequal things equally, or to grant the benefits of marriage to those who refuse to meet it’s most basic of conditions.

    And of course various social goods are denied to all sorts of people for various reasons. A driver who cannot meet the obligations of low insurance rates (too young, too inexperienced, too many accidents, etc) will not be eligible to receive those benefits. That is how life operates Heather. It has nothing to do with “discrimination”, just encouraging everyone to play by the rules.

    Since homosexuals refuse to play by the rules when it comes to marriage, it is ridiculous to pull out the violins here and moan about foregone “rights” and so on. I’m afraid I just don’t buy your faulty morality and fractured reasoning here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  61. You push the old ruse of seeking to treat unequal things equally.

    I disagree that heterosexual relationships and homosexual relationships are unequal – that’s your claim. I believe that a relationship between two homosexuals is the same as a relationship between two heterosexuals in all the ways that matter. If it is a relationship of love, honesty and commitment it should receive the same recognition as any heterosexual relationship as far as government is concerned.

    I’m fascinated by your assertion that ‘homosexuals refuse to play by the rules when it comes to marriage’. How can we break the rules if the government won’t let us play the game?

    Heather Bates

  62. It was indeed amazing to witness the apoplectic outrage from feminazis Gillard, Singer, and Lumby, over just the mere allusion from Tony Abbott that it might be wise to save sex for marriage. Gillard even went so far as to allude that Tony Abbott even wants to legislate his morality upon society. If only, but what Gillard and her collaborators of the secular left constantly and conveniently forget to mention is that for decades now they’ve been the ones going flat-out legislating their own perverted and godless “morality” upon society. I think it would be a good thing if a political leader with morality wanted to reverse the declining trend of societal morality.

    In fact if government were to base society’s laws upon biblical morality, all forms of sexual activity outside (heterosexual) marriage would be criminialised. What would Gillard and co. say to that? They’d probably all have heart-attacks!

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  63. Heather,

    Sorry, but as Bill has pointed out, either people hold that marriage is valuable or they don’t. But I tire of people who want to have it both ways by way of simply being unwilling to consider their own worldview inconsistencies, or they are aware of it but think that just because they want something, no matter what the consequences, it becomes a ‘right’. So spare me your emotive “second class citizen” rubbish and make an effort to argue with some evidence. The onus is on you to prove that the status quo is somehow a bad thing for society at large, not just because some individuals want to change it to force public celebration of their private sexual habits. Btw, the concept of denying ‘happiness’ to those who engage in homosexual behaviour by not allowing gay ‘marriage’ is an argument I have heard from activists many times. So, no, I’m not wrong about that. But the truth is, they will use whatever argument they think works – especially the emotive ones – which tells us a great deal of the integrity of their case. But you can continue to attempt to shift the goal posts along with them if you like.

    But this is getting off topic – I merely wanted to point out the cognitive dissonance that exists about this subject and what it reveals about how unreliable the modern popular ideas are. To put it bluntly, a defacto couple that state ‘marriage is just a piece of paper’ have exactly how much logical consistency in arguing for gay ‘marriage’?

    Which brings me neatly to Maria’s take that I am somehow disqualified from commenting on the main topic…

    First of all, because of my rare situation, I feel compelled to speak up as an example against the barefaced lie commonly perpetuated that teaching abstinence is unrealistic or that it is somehow an unhealthy choice or situation. Or that you only ever ‘miss out’ or something. The truth is, nobody gets to experience ‘everything’, it’s far better to make the best – Paul wrote about contentment in any and every situation – of where you are. And as I mentioned, I too have a practical view that others can only theorize about. And I can authoritatively state that what society generally holds of virginity is bogus and/or uninformed. The view from here is actually pretty good. And do I need to point out that Jesus was a virgin?

    Whilst sex in itself is a good thing, we must not forget that we are inherently sinful, so our feelings of themselves are simply not good enough guides for our lives. We don’t naturally make good choices and we desperately need God’s guidance. Denying oneself in the short-term for long-term gain is, as I have clearly shown before, a principle that holds true for a great deal of other areas of our lives, and from all accounts of married couples who waited for sex, they have only good things to say about the reward for them. Perhaps you can address that issue first before you start having a go at me personally. You can start by responding directly to Jason’s adjustment of your initial question. Divorce stats simply don’t cut it, btw. Mr Abbott did not advise his daughters about that.

    Secondly, allow me to quote from C.S. Lewis, who, after separating ‘repression’ (as unhealthy) from ‘suppression’ (as conscious and therefore healthy) of sexual desires had this to say:

    “…those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat-catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue – even attempted virtue – brings light; indulgence brings fog.”

    (I’m so glad that a friend of my mine loaned me Mere Christianity shortly after becoming a Christian as an 18 year-old. I didn’t understand all of it, but what I did was fabulous.) I want to make it very very clear that I’m not claiming perfection, but railing against those who would have me give up from the battle or trying to convince others likewise. I don’t believe them when they claim it isn’t worth it. I don’t trust their judgement because as far as I can see, many of them just walked into the battle, lay down their arms and just gave up. What can they possibly teach me?!? So yeah, notwithstanding your dismissive tone, I do think I can speak about this issue!

    Finally, Maria, the idea that feminism has done favours for women is rubbish. Actually, I take that back! After considering what you’ve written over the past couple of days (especially that misleading and emotive “chattels” comment), you’ve motivated me to give my 14 year old niece this book for her upcoming birthday:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596980036/ref=cm_rdp_product

    I hope she doesn’t read this blog in the meantime as that will ruin the surprise…

    Mark Rabich

  64. Thanks Heather

    I remind you that this post was about Abbott’s comments on his children, not homosexuality, so I will cut this tangent short here. And we all already know your radical leftist views on these matters, so you are not telling us anything new here.

    Suffice it to say that by your own definition (“If it is a relationship of love, honesty and commitment”), then far more than same-sex marriages should qualify. Group marriage perfectly can fit in with your porous definition. So too incest, bestiality and a whole range of other alternative lifestyles. And most of these activities already have their advocacy and lobby groups arguing for marriage rights. Start with polyamory and work your way from there.

    Your advice is as helpful as saying Aretha Franklin is being discriminated against since she cannot play for the Carlton Football Club. Never mind all the ways in which she doesn’t qualify here: wrong country, wrong gender, too old, too heavy, too out of shape, no footy skills, no knowledge of the game, and so on. There is no discrimination going on there at all. All you and the homosexual lobby are doing here is seeking to fundamentally rewrite the rule books so that you can promote your radical social engineering. I’m still not buying it.

    But as I say, this post is not about homosexuality, so you will have to push your agenda elsewhere.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  65. I’ve got to hand it to you Bill, you certainly made short work of the shaky arguments put up by Heather and rightly so! One thing I have learnt about tapping into this
    site is the very definable differences between ideology and matters of fact and that in itself is a valuable thing to have learnt. One thing from this blog regarding Tony Abbott is that people will stand or fall on what they purport to believe and if your beliefs are based on mere ideology then as far as I am concerned you have built your house on the sand. Thank you Bill.
    Steve Davis

  66. “How can we break the rules if the government won’t let us play the game?”

    I know it’s intended as an analogy, but in reality, marriage is not a game.

    Once again, in my world of work, come and listen to the way children speak of pathetic adult behaviour in crappy relationships of ALL kinds.

    Jane Petridge

  67. I think its all been said and all I can say as the father of seven is that you can say to your kids; do the right thing, respect others including their bodies and if you ‘blue up’ be reasonable and do what is right – and its then their responsibility. If you say nothing it is you who have not done the right thing.
    Peter Rice

  68. Just read in the local paper about a 19-year old, female New Zealand student who sold her virginity through an internet ad so that she could pay for her studies. The highest bidder came through at $45,000. The girl responded that she were expecting a much lower amount. While it is full-on prostitution and ridiculous in many ways it makes me sick to think of it – this girl is about to be violated and emotionally scarred… but at least it’s a good story we can have a chuckle at, right? There is a severe lack of Abbott-like leaders in her life and country and now she’s going to pay for it. Not sure if it’s illegal in some way or if she or the “highest bidder” will come to their senses before going through with it though? I wonder if the “live and let live” secular humanists could honestly say she’s doing the right thing as long as it is what she wants? Crazy!
    Servaas Hofmeyr

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