Last week Dame Susan Devoy joined the movement to make Christmas invisible. The Auckland Migrant Service was just being “inclusive” she said, in excluding Christmas from its year-end function invitation. This week in the NZ Herald she was back-pedalling fast, suggesting this really was a minor issue and we would all do better getting angry about real issues like domestic violence and abuse.
In some ways I agree (refer my contribution in Stuff Nation this week on the need to face the real causes of child abuse). However if Devoy really thought it was a minor issue, one wonders why she felt the need to lend the weight of her office to pushing the cause.
More importantly, and this is where I disagree, Devoy doesn’t understand the obvious link between the decline in Christian faith in New Zealand and the growth in social problems like domestic violence and child abuse. Joining the movement to further erode the cultural significance of Christianity by making Christmas invisible will only makes matters worse.
One of the primary drivers of abuse in our nation is the move away from traditional marriage to the “modern family” forms. Whilst this is strenuously denied by those who advocate a socially liberal approach family life, there is now plenty of decades of research pointing clearly to this uncomfortable truth.
In contrast, for over 200 years now, the Christian Church in New Zealand has provided the primary moral, social and theological underpinning for the institution of marriage. The very life of the Church, it practices and teaching have always strongly affirmed the importance of marriage in our culture. And this affirmation is not merely incidental to the faith. It is the natural overflow of the inherent message of Christianity – that God has offered us faithful, loving, covenant relationship.
In light of this Dame Susan would be better lending her office to affirm efforts to celebrate Christmas, rather than efforts to sideline it in the name of “inclusiveness”. A renewal of true Christian faith across our nation would not only deal with many of our social problems, it would also be the surest way to build strong race relations in New Zealand.