War Over Marriage

Why marriage? An aggressive push by entertainers, politicians, judges and priests toward homosexual marriage is provoking a fundamental redefinition of traditional family. Battle lines are being drawn. But no one should take a stand on this issue without knowing the facts!
From the September 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Homosexuality has suddenly taken center stage in public discussion. Great swaths of the population of Britain, Canada, the United States and other nations have enthusiastically embraced it and pushed for broad public acceptance—not just of homosexuality, but the expansion the legal scope of marriage and family to include same-sex couples.

This amounts to a towering redefinition of the most foundational institution in society.

In Canada, it is now law. But even within those countries where homosexual marriage hasn’t yet been legalized, in the minds of many this change has already happened. It is merely one more step in a complete rethinking, over several generations, of the nature of traditional marriage and family.

Are we sure this is a good change?

Are the media moguls who are filling their fall television line-ups with shows promoting homosexual dating, fashion and “family” life sure they are doing the public a service? Are the educators and politicians who are using public money to fund an all-homosexual public high school sure they are acting in the best interests of the people they serve? Are those judges legalizing sodomy and homosexual marriage sure they are reading the law correctly and strengthening the civic life of their nations? Are the clergymen who are advocating the appointment of openly homosexual ministers and making public proclamations trashing the traditional view of heterosexual marriage absolutely sure they are interpreting the Bible correctly, and have God’s blessing?

These are critical questions. Because if these individuals are wrong, there is plenty of evidence to show they are making nation-destroying mistakes.

Homosexuality puts on trial several fundamental issues. Why male and female? Why do people marry? What is the purpose of marriage? What defines a family? As we will see, it even challenges our understanding of the supreme question: Why are we here? What is the purpose for humankind?

Do you know the answers to these questions? If you don’t, your attitudes about homosexuality—positive or negative—are simply not based on a full understanding of the truth! Fact is, the great majority are making their decisions—including those influencing law within both church and state—having been bullied by political correctness, peer pressure or societal coercion.

What about you? Have you already made up your mind? Are you sure you are right?

Tossing Out a Taboo

In May, at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association, an unusual subject was up for discussion: the removal from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders several sexually deviant behaviors called “paraphilias”—including pedophilia.

Opposition was intense, and the idea was rejected. But it was a telling illustration of just how radically general attitudes toward sex, marriage and family have been transformed in the Western world in the past two generations.

It was in 1973 that homosexuality was removed from the apa’s list of disorders. At that time, homosexuality was far from being publicly acceptable. But it appears the rest of society has since caught up with the vanguard of psychologists who made it “normal” 30 years ago.

In June, Canada’s Ontario Court of Appeals legalized homosexual marriage (to be followed by British Columbia a month later), and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced his government’s support for the plan. That same month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law criminalizing sodomy. This was the first time in its history the Supreme Court held that people have a right to engage in sex outside lawful marriage.

These events produced a landslide of media coverage on homosexuality in the United States—most of it decidedly positive. Said a Boston Herald editorial, typical of the coverage, “[T]his court has somehow managed to … come out where most Americans are today—firm in their belief that government has no business peeking into the bedrooms of consenting adults.”

And on television, what started on the news programs quickly made its way into regular programming: A cable channel introduced a homosexual dating show and then a homosexual reality show that scored record ratings and was quickly picked up by broadcast network giant nbc.

“Several network and cable television executives said the Supreme Court’s 6-to-3 decision in June, overruling a Texas sodomy law and legalizing gay sexual conduct, underlined what they already knew: that the nation’s attitudes toward gays and lesbians are radically changing,” reported the New York Times on July 29 (emphasis mine). “Thirty years ago, prime-time television series often depicted homosexuals as suicidal or psychopaths. … If American television audiences could have seen then what viewers can see now.”

A Pew Research Center study in July also confirmed the television execs’ belief, finding that within the U.S., opposition to homosexual marriage has dropped significantly in recent years (53 percent of respondents, down from 65 percent in 1996). A cnn-USA Today poll found only 46 percent of Americans opposing homosexual marriage, and 48 percent supporting it.

The moves within the courts and media toward public acceptance and even celebration of homosexuality were matched elsewhere. July also saw the announcement of $5 million of public funds to be granted to the Harvey Milk School, a New York City public high school devoted exclusively to homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students. In early August, California became the fourth state to pass a law protecting transgender people from housing and job discrimination—one which would impose penalties including fines of up to $150,000 on landlords or employers who violate it. (The August 5 San Francisco Chronicle blandly explained, “Employers would still be able to use dress codes as long as workers are allowed to dress as the gender they prefer.”)

“Taboos are falling so quickly that the word taboo itself increasingly has an archaic ring,” wrote Frank Rich in the July 26 New York Times. He was talking about the sudden widespread acceptance of pornography, but he could have just as easily been speaking about homosexuality. “Except for the usual fire-and-brimstone sermonizers in pulpits and on the Supreme Court (one of whom, Clarence Thomas, has himself reportedly been a porn consumer), most conservatives have joined most liberals in giving up the fight against all but the scourge of child pornography.”

The same backpedaling is true regarding homosexuality. While pedophilia is still widely considered objectionable, the typical “conservative” view has moved from outright condemnation to begrudging tolerance: the idea that perhaps homosexual couples shouldn’t be able to have the same legal status as heterosexual marriages, but if they want to do it in private, that’s their business.

There is a big problem with that line of reasoning.

Why Male and Female?

Why male and female? Have you ever thought about that? This is a conundrum that both creationists and evolutionists must wrestle with.

For the person who doesn’t believe in a Creator, it requires explaining how, by natural means—not by design but by accident—humanity (and virtually all living creatures) came to exist in two distinct groups, different yet the same, mutually dependent upon the other for procreation.

But even for the creationist, the question can be equally puzzling. Why did God make male and female?

Scripture shows that in creating humankind in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26), God made the conscious decision to divide us into two groups: male and female (v. 27). Why? This is an important question to contemplate. Try to push from your mind the politically correct falsehood that there are no differences between the two. Consider this realistically.

The fact is that the relentless drive over the past half century in particular to equalize the sexes has completely obscured and destroyed the very deep and important reasons for God’s creative implementation of sex differences! Homosexuality, in effect, treats this essential component of creation as if it were mere decoration—even a mistake on God’s part. At best, it trivializes and neutralizes the formation of gender.

Can you acknowledge the possibility that sex is not an accident of evolution, nor an arbitrary ornament on creation, but a conscious, deliberate choice with design and intent made by a super-intelligent Creator? Are you willing to consider the reasoning, the logic, in His decision? This God who reveals Himself in the Bible claims that His thoughts are higher than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9). Is it possible you have allowed your mind to be prejudiced against His superior thinking by simple peer pressure—the intellectual coercion of a society that is almost wholly hostile toward its Creator?

Marriage Not Understood!

Why marriage? Do you know where marriage originated?

Look at the animals and you can see that marriage is not necessary for procreation. Animals may exhibit a certain loyalty to certain other animals, but only humans have the multifaceted emotional and legal relationships associated with marriage and family.

Until a few generations ago, the concept of marriage and family was taken for granted—generally accepted as desirable—a means of rearing responsible children and producing a stable society. However, even then the deep understanding of why marriage was widely unknown.

Why? Because this is fundamentally spiritual knowledge!

Marriage is not a mere tradition. It is actually a sacred institution, originated and established by God at the creation of humankind! It was created for specific purposes and designed to function according to definite laws. Those laws are as absolute and inexorable as the physical laws governing the universe. If they are broken, unhappiness and dissatisfaction result.

On the other hand, even if one lacks the spiritual understanding of the purposes of marriage, adherence to the basic spiritual laws God placed in motion produces stable, happy marriages and families. Many of the basic assumptions of yesteryear—for example, that sexual fidelity is the most basic tenet of marriage, that divorce is unacceptable, that children should honor their parents—were directly in line with those God-given laws.

The Western world in the 20th century increasingly saw every assumption regarding marriage challenged: the respective roles of husband as guide and provider, and wife as helpmeet and homemaker; the importance of abstaining from sex outside of marriage; the authority of parents over their children. As these ideas were contested, a negative cycle began. Increased rejection of the God-ordained laws governing marriage produced more bad marriages and fueled the tendency to question its fundamental nature. The result was a general, misguided dissatisfaction with marriage itself and an inevitable lack of appreciation for and understanding of this sacred institution.

In times past, the case for marriage being a stabilizing force in society was easier to make. Today, marriages that truly follow the biblical pattern are rare enough (and the general view of family has degenerated far enough) that it simply cannot be held up as a realistic model anymore. A responsible, authoritative man who leads his family in love, supported and deeply respected by an industrious woman who keeps the house, with both parents rearing their children to be happy, polite and obedient—this scenario, rather than being held up as an ideal, is considered so impossible so as to be laughable. The very concept is the subject of scorn and mockery.

Some even go further and say not only is the traditional ideal for family unrealistic, but it is harmful—a type of slavery for the wife and oppression for the children. Unhappy families, broken homes and illegitimate children are so overwhelmingly common that it is regarded as insensitive to suggest that such individuals are in any way handicapped or damaged.

Over just a few generations, society as a whole—rather than accepting the notion that it is falling short somehow, rather than striving harder to measure up to the biblical standard—simply changed the standard.

God’s standards, on the other hand, do not change (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; Luke 16:17; i John 5:3). Anyone who wants to be right with God must beware using societal norms as a personal standard.

In actuality, a godly marriage is something virtually any clear-thinking person can recognize as being ideal. Such a family is a beautiful thing to behold. The children blessed enough to grow up in such a family have a much greater chance of being productive citizens and building happy families of their own. The benefit of such families to society at large should be obvious.

Nevertheless, the virtually unanimous failure to follow the pattern God established for familial success has resulted in a redefinition of the ideals for marriage and family.

And now, we see being disputed the very idea of marriage involving one man and one woman. This reveals a deep lack of understanding of virtually every fundamental purpose for marriage revealed in Scripture! Melanie Phillips wrote in the June 30 Daily Mail, “More and more people see marriage not as a sacred means of creating kinship [actually, it is much, much more than even that], but merely as a love affair with a handy set of rights attached.”

Sadly, when the biblical model of sexual behavior, marriage and family has been so degraded and ravaged, when the understanding of marriage is gone, arguments against homosexual unions don’t seem to stand up too well.

The Church’s Role

Religious leaders, shamefully, have been swept up in this departure from biblical standards. Religion has traditionally provided an anchor in the middle of such moral turbulence. But today, the church has instead put up its sails, raised its rudder, and is helping to lead the wave of social change.

Right alongside recent secular initiatives promoting homosexuality, debate among mainline Christian churches over ordaining homosexual priests and conducting same-sex marriages heated up considerably.

In May, the Church of England appointed homosexual bishop Jeffrey John, who supports the campaign for the Anglican Church to bless same-sex marriage. (The appointment created such a row among Anglicans that, finally, after six weeks, the Archbishop of Canterbury, a personal friend of Mr. John’s for 30 years, asked that he resign.)

Soon after, the Episcopalian Church in New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson, its first openly homosexual bishop. The Episcopalians are also facing a decision as to whether or not to bless same-sex marriages. In June, the moderator of the Church of Scotland announced he would be “utterly untroubled” by the appointment of homosexual ministers. Three weeks later, the Uniting Church in Australia passed a resolution to accept openly homosexual ministers, with more than 75 percent of its national assembly supporting the measure.

One voting minister of the Uniting Church explained, “The Catholic Church has ordained homosexuals, the Anglican Church has ordained homosexuals, they’re just not honest about it. We’ve struggled with this reality for many years and here we are” (Heidelberger Leader, Australia, July 30). Essentially, that is making societal norms the standard rather than the Bible—something Christ specifically condemned (Mark 7:9).

These religious leaders claim they get their religion from the Bible. Many are not entirely comfortable with the push toward homosexuality. But they have realized they simply do not have enough power to resist it.

Thus we have among many high-level religionists the need to somehow explain how God does not condemn homosexuality—when an unbiased reading of Scripture plainly shows that He does condemn it!

Apologizing for Homosexuality

In May, a homosexual Anglican was given about us$34,000 of public money to finish a Ph.D. at the University of Queensland “proving” that Jesus Christ was homosexual—in addition to three, possibly four, of His chosen disciples. “He said Jesus’s astrological chart, clues in the Scriptures to which the churches had been blind and accurate biblical translations had all played a part in his conclusions,” reported Queensland’s Courier Mail (May 29). It quoted the man, Rollan McCleary, as explaining, “The starting point is the matter of John, who always referred to himself as Jesus’s beloved disciple.”

This is perhaps an extreme case, but a fair representation of the academic folderol required to sanction homosexuality while still claiming the Bible as any kind of authority.

The question is, can the Bible really be trusted to establish standards of right and wrong, or not?

Consider two scriptures in the Old Testament book of Leviticus: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. … If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 18:22; 20:13).

Here is how one pro-homosexual religious website explained these verses: “The book of Leviticus is a product of its culture. … The writers were not scientists nor historians writing from expertise, but were persons of faith—priests, writing from the unique experiences that they encountered. They were problem solvers in a era where simplistic, yet decisive, actions were necessitated by illnesses and controversies that arose within the camp of the tribe of Israel. They were cultic people who were forced to make quick and sudden decisions as need arose. For 20th-century Christians to use these formulas as criteria for ethical and moral decision making would be naive at best, heresy at worst. The priests used the tools of knowledge at their disposal, just as we are required to use the tools of knowledge available to us. Today, we can benefit from thousands of years of learning!” (www.whosoever.org).

Just like that, they erase whole sections of Scripture—going so far as to claim that it could be heresy to follow it, or even to presume that it reflects God’s thinking at all.

Homosexuality apologetics abound with statements mitigating the authority of Scripture. Every biblical statement against homosexuality is passed off as being mistranslated, or misunderstood, or no longer relevant. The Apostles Paul’s strong condemnations of homosexuality (Rom. 1:24-27; i Cor. 6:9-10; i Tim. 1:9-10) are dismissed as being unclear, or mere statements of personal preference (“We conclude that St. Paul in the Christian Scriptures seems to have condemned some homosexual activity, but it is unclear which ones. There is no mention of loving, committed gay and lesbian relations in the Christian Scriptures”—ibid.; “Some Christians feel that his writings are not a useful guide for ethics and morals in the 20th century”—www.ncf.ca/ip/sigs/life/gay/religion).

Of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis 19, these apologists explain that God didn’t destroy these cities for being filled with homosexuality and sexual perversion—but because He was angry at them for being inhospitable, or violent, or oppressive and discriminatory. Of course, the Apostle Jude says it was sexual sin that inflamed God’s wrath: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7). But this scripture is written off with the simple explanation, “Jude disagreed with God” (ibid.).

Can the Bible be trusted, or not? Is it God’s Word, or not? Why go to the trouble to “explain away” passage after passage of Scripture, if your intent is simply to believe exactly what you want to believe?

As further “proof” that homosexuality is permitted, these scholars note that Jesus Christ never personally condemned homosexuality. But they overlook His statement that we should live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4). God harshly condemns religious leaders who claim to speak for Him, but who speak their own words and lead people into immorality (Jer. 23:14-40). God does hold those who claim to be ministers more accountable than others!

Even setting aside specific biblical prohibitions against homosexuality, just a basic understanding of why God created male and female, marriage and family gives you insight into why God considers homosexuality an abomination. We have looked at this in a general way, but let’s get more specific.

Why Marriage and Family?

God’s decision to create male and female had several ramifications, and prompted several other, related decisions. Consider.

God created sexual attraction, to draw a man and a woman into a love relationship. He created the institution of marriage—a binding covenant relationship with proscribed, God-ordained roles (e.g. Gen. 2:18, 21-25; Eph. 5:29-33; i Tim 5:8), and gave laws confining the use of sex to that marital relationship (e.g. Exod. 20:14, 17). He intended this covenant relationship to bring stability into our lives, to teach us faithfulness and loyalty, and to give each mate the opportunity to learn to live unselfishly with another person, different from themselves, as a harmonious team.

In addition, God created our anatomies so that this two-person relationship is what generates children. He designed the human development process to occur slowly—much more slowly than in animals—in order to make family life necessary: Children are completely dependent upon their parents, and parents must love, nurture, protect, educate and discipline their children. He gave laws and principles governing that parent-child relationship (e.g. Exod. 20:12).

God could have made us all alike, never established marriage, provided some other means of reproduction, had us born with fully developed bodies and minds—He could have done things any number of other ways. But He did it this way for a reason.

Why? To one who doesn’t understand God’s purpose for mankind, it might seem somewhat arbitrary. Why male and female? Why marriage? Why do we reproduce through sex? Why children? Why family?

But the answer is clear to anyone who understands the truth revealed in the Bible but not generally understood—that of the incredible human potential.

The way God designed male, female, marriage and children, the family unit naturally creates a government structure patterned after the God family pattern.

God designed all of these things the way He did to prepare us for eternal life in His family!

The truth of this reality far surpasses the insipid view of an afterlife spent sitting on a cloud strumming a harp. God is about to establish a Kingdom, here on Earth, ruling all nations, with literal positions of king-priesthood to be filled by human beings transformed into spirit-born members of the God family! (Request our book The Incredible Human Potential for a thorough biblical explanation of this truth.)

This is why the human family is so critical in God’s mind. We need family, as God designed it, in order to really prepare for positions in God’s family! Done right, marriage is intended to teach spiritual lessons about the God family (e.g. Eph. 5:31-33). A child growing up in a godly family learns spiritual lessons. In other words, if a family is run the way God intended it to be run, then there are God-plane dynamics at work—living lessons in God’s government and family love!

God Condemns Homosexuality—But Why?

It is true that not being in such a family does not in any way disqualify someone from God’s Kingdom. However, they still must learn deeply about why marriage and why family.

To take it upon ourselves to redefine what a family is, to spurn God’s standard and set up our own, to presume that our ideas which are totally contrary to God’s are in fact superior in design and in the results they produce—this is the height of both arrogance and folly!

London’s Daily Mail on June 30 introduced readers to two lesbians who will parent a child that one of them conceived using sperm purchased on an Internet site from an anonymous donor. Yes—technology has given individuals intent on creating fatherless children (not to mention those mercenary enough to profit from it) the means to do so. It appears that, soon, science will provide a way for a male couple to bring a child to term without a female.

Here is where our sophistication and ingenuity have brought us.

Whereas God gifts to the married couple the awesome, even God-like power to create new life through their union, people instead choose dead unions and then look to unnatural means of generating that life. Whereas God intends life to begin with an act of love, science enables us to start it with the squeeze of a syringe. Whereas God intends children to grow up with the authoritative and loving influence of both a man and a woman, each fulfilling a specific role, bound and committed to one another and to the offspring they produce together, people want to bring children up within whatever “family” concoction suits their self-interest.

And, cut loose from moral moorings, guided only by their own reason, they have convinced themselves the children will grow up to be just as healthy for it. They have convinced themselves that same-sex marriages will discourage promiscuity, and bring a new level of loyalty and commitment into the homosexual community—that it will be a stabilizing influence on society.

They may even have convinced themselves that God is smiling down on their efforts. But if they were honest, they would acknowledge that they simply don’t carewhat God says! They don’t care how He defines a family, or why!

There is a war being waged over marriage and family. On one side are those trying to preserve God’s design; on the other are those trying to destroy God’s design!

God intends marriage to lead us into the family of God. Marriage and family have everything to do with the gospel of God—which is the good news of the coming family of God. This is why it is so important to God. “Adultery, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality are so colossally sinful because they violate, pollute, profane and destroy something so holy and so monumentally righteous in God’s sight!” (Herbert W. Armstrong, The Missing Dimension in Sex).

The true force motivating the anti-family front is a spirit being, revealed in Scripture, who was never offered the opportunity to be in God’s family (our free book Mystery of the Ages explains this truth). He was never given the creative power to reproduce himself. He hates family and wants to blot it out forever! This is the Adversary—Satan the devil—who first deceived Eve into turning against God (Gen. 3:1-6) and has since deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). He is bent on nothing less than the destruction of humanity.

Those pushing for homosexual marriage say they are merely interested in equal rights, in individual justice. That is simply not true—whether they realize it or not!

Satan is after the complete destruction of family, and the homosexual movement will not stop making demands until this goal is achieved. Satan knows that by destroying families, he can destroy nations and can blind people to the simple, hope-filled truth of God—so he is doing everything he can to devastate that God-plane relationship! He has a passionate hatred against God’s rule!

The world is on the brink of catastrophe. Poverty, hunger and disease plague our planet. Racial hostility, both within nations and across borders, is boiling. Hatred against the Anglo-American peoples is rising dramatically, while political division within those nations is tearing them apart. Biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons of mass destruction are finding their way into unpredictable hands.

Those who understand the threats, those courageous enough to keep their eyes open, are issuing increasingly grave warnings—because they realize the very survival of our world is at stake.

And it is in this climate of calamity that the idea of homosexual marriage is being pushed!

Staring nuclear destruction in the face, many are acting as though the greatest hope, the most exciting truth they have ever found, is homosexual marriage! The truth is, getting wrapped up in this cause is helping them to forget about reality.

It was recently reported that aids has orphaned 11 million children in sub-Saharan Africa. How many of those orphans have any idea what family is about? They have no hope. Is homosexual marriage going to solve their problems? It was the epidemic misuse of sex that helped make aids such a problem in the first place!

In the midst of the worst crisis we have ever faced, is this the best we can give the world?

Truly, we are witnessing a titanic war over marriage and family. But God is not going to lose this war!

Sodom and Gomorrah

The Apostle Jude did not disagree with God. He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to show that, among their other sins, Sodom and Gomorrah unquestionably were also destroyed for sex sins including homosexuality.

But, beyond that, Jude was also inspired to draw the lesson that they are “set forth for an example” (Jude 7). It is probably the strongest warning example in the Bible! The Apostle Peter also talked about these cities being turned “into ashes,” “making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (ii Pet. 2:6).

Why were these apostles of God talking about cities being turned to ashes? Because the example is still relevant today! This is not just an outdated Old Testament story—it is New Testament doctrine. These men were warning that any people getting caught up in those sins should expect the same end! Christ Himself prophesied that in the last days, evil conditions would again warrant the cataclysmic destruction that Sodom faced (Luke 17:28-30). He warned about destruction so thorough that unless He personally intervened, no flesh would be saved alive (Matt. 24:22).

Can we afford to casually dismiss these scriptures?

Why did that fire come down upon Sodom? The plain truth is that God does notspare people who sin! He demands repentance, and, in the absence of repentance, eventually He resorts to destruction.

Read the account, beginning in Genesis 18:20, through chapter 19: The men of Sodom clamored to homosexually rape two angels disguised as men. God had wanted to extend mercy to them—but even when the angels blinded the crowd in order to repel them, they kept coming! (Gen. 19:11-12). They simply could not be taught—they could not be corrected! They were charged with unbridled, evil lust. No godly reasoning could stop them.

And today, those homosexuals so brazenly and adamantly proclaiming “gay pride” cannot be reasoned with! They are too convinced they are right!

Those pushing the homosexual agenda may feel certain they are leading people into greater freedom—but really they are leading people into ashes!

“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (ii Pet. 2:19, rsv). Liberal courts and churches are offering “liberty” to homosexuals. But they don’t know what liberty is! Sin may seem like freedom, but in truth it only enslaves us (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16).

Christ said God’s truth is what makes us free (John 8:32). The Apostle James referred to God’s commandments as “the law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12). It is there to enrich us, ennoble us, give us the happiness and fulfillment God intended for us. Everything contrary to that offers only false freedom—it makes us slaves of sin, and leads to death. And before death, it leads to misery and failure. What is true freedom? “[T]he law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). That is true freedom—freedom from sin and death!

There is a solution for those caught in this deadly snare. We can be thankful that God forgives all sin upon repentance. David and Paul were murderers, and Mary Magdalene was demon possessed—yet upon deep repentance, they were all completely forgiven by God.

God created humankind in His own image and likeness—to be productive, noble and free—to grow in godly character through the rich experiences and responsibilities of family life—to, ultimately, gain entrance into His own family!

Homosexuality and other deviant sexual activity breaks down character, tramples on that potential, and in many ways destroys the family vision of God. But in our sophistication, that is considered good! What God esteems, men scorn—and what men exalt, God calls an abomination!

Thus, God thunders this message to our modern world: “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! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:20-21).

Yes—woe! The history of Sodom and Gomorrah is prophecy for today. We are living in the time it will be fulfilled! When you live in cities polluted like Sodom and Gomorrah, look out—they are about to be destroyed by fire!—this time, likely in the form of nuclear bombs and other modern means. These scriptural warnings are there to help us realize that it’s about over!

Peter also prophesied of “scoffers, walking after their own lusts” in the last days (ii Pet. 3:3). Those who reject these prophecies don’t realize it, but they are fulfilling prophecy by doing so. This too is a sign of the times, just as was prophesied.

God Gives You Hope

What is your attitude toward homosexuality? Are you sure you are right?

In the midst of the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, there was a “righteous man dwelling among them” who saw what was going on, and who “vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (ii Pet. 2:8). Lot was tormented by their evil. He wasn’t complacent about it, or tolerant of it. He hated it. You can be sure he was laughed at, considered backward or out of step. But in the end, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed—and Lot and his family were spared (v. 7).

Whether or not people believe it, destruction is coming again soon. And the only way to be spared is to be physically delivered, as Lot was. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (v. 9). This is directed at us, in this end time! Even in destruction, God provides protection for the righteous. This is a source of genuine hope for those who follow this God.

How deep is your stance on homosexuality? This is a major issue of prophetic consequence! It is not merely a matter of personal liberty. The homosexual agenda amounts to a full-out war on marriage and family. How agitated does this make you?

God is a family! He created the physical family as a means to get us into His family! What is more beautiful than a strong, godly family? We must learn the beauty of family—that is where the excitement is. Once you understand God’s purpose, it is clear that real hope comes through the family—as God designed it! What it leads into boggles the mind!

Homosexuality is opposite what God wants for mankind. It is the antithesis of true hope! But if you don’t understand the God family, you can’t understand why that is so.

Our free booklet Why Marriage!—Soon Obsolete? gives a stirring explanation of the true reasons for marriage and family. The Missing Dimension in Sex goes further into the God-ordained purposes for sex. The Incredible Human Potential explains in hope-filled detail the inspiring future these institutions are intended to prepare us for. You need this knowledge! You need the genuine hope that comes from a deep understanding of the beautiful, inspiring vision of the God family!

Trade War

From the September 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

Even as the Bush administration struggles to effect a compromise with the European Union on tariffs to protect its dying steel industry, the EU has fired another salvo in the latest round of Atlantic trade war. This time it is in the high-tech arena.

In August, the EU, having accused the U.S. software giant Microsoft with monopolizing the control of software in the personal computer market, gave the world’s largest software company one last chance to answer its charges. The EU has charged that Microsoft has unfairly crushed competition in this market sector. Failure by the company to reach an accord with the EU will result in the matter being taken to court. By “court,” we mean that lackey of the EU, the European Court of Justice.

The justice dispensed by this particular court is based on a premise far removed from the U.S. judicial system, which is based on the assumption that a defendant is innocent till proven guilty. The EU system is just the opposite—based on the old Roman inquisitorial system of guilty till proven innocent. A victory for the EU is assured within this system should the matter proceed to court.

Already the European Commission has signaled its preparedness to proceed to a court hearing should Microsoft not respond in a manner acceptable to it. The EU spokesman for competition, Tilman Lüder, has declared that the Brussels headquarters of the Union has already prepared a “substantive file” on the matter such that any decision the Commission takes will “withstand the scrutiny of the European Court of Justice” (Deutsche Welle, Aug. 8).

Luder’s warning to Microsoft was dire and threatening. “It would be at the company’s own peril … to ignore this” (ibid.).

The EU is presently in a mean mood, exacerbated by the present impending economic squeeze it faces as a result of recession in Germany and reduced growth in France and Italy—three of its prime member nations, all members of the eurozone. Any penalty it attempts to slam on Microsoft may even pale the multi-billion-dollar fine imposed on the U.S. steel industry into insignificance. This Atlantic trade war is on the verge of heating up!

A Step Ahead of the Law

From the August 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

There has been much talk in recent months about the development of Japan’s military and even nuclear might. This has long been a taboo subject, following the imposition of its strictly pacifist, U.S.-written constitution after World War ii, in which Japan pledged to “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

But the tide is turning. A perceived decrease in U.S. involvement in East Asia, along with a rising Chinese neighbor and an unpredictable, potentially dangerous North Korean one, has convinced many in Japan that the time has come to officially loosen its pacifist shackles. Several moves have already been made in this direction.

The Japan Defense Agency has proposed setting up a unit of the Self-Defense Forces (sdf) dedicated primarily to peacekeeping, antiterrorism and other overseas operations. Although the sdf currently has a total of 1,900 personnel on missions abroad, under the current law its activities are limited to joining UN peacekeeping operations and providing humanitarian assistance, as well as providing some logistical support.

However, a look behind the scenes reveals that, although the law places heavy restrictions on Japanese military operations, this emerging movement has already, in the midst of the debate, quietly overtaken its legal boundaries.

Stratfor remarks that “Japan deployed support ships and even an Aegis destroyer to the Middle East to back U.S. operations in the area—while noting that refueling U.S. warships did not mean Japan was contributing to military action in Iraq, as the U.S. ships burned up the fuel from the Japanese tankers before they began bombing runs in Iraq. And discussions of launching attacks on North Korean missile batteries before Pyongyang launches toward Japan are being referred to in Tokyo as defense, not pre-emptive strikes” (July 14). As Stratfor points out, this is but a semantic ploy.

Further, according to Stratfor, “Japan’s fiscal 2004 defense budget reportedly includes financing for the first of two planned helicopter destroyers to replace those currently in service. The new ships are destroyers in name only—they are effectively escort carriers, twice the size of the ships they are replacing, and will be the two largest fighting ships in the Japanese fleet” (ibid.).

This Tokyo is doing in an effort to “get around the constitutional concerns of maintaining a force capable of power projection and belligerence. This is the essence of Japanese defense policy as it evolves even faster in the post-September 11 world. It is becoming a simple matter of semantics to bypass concerns and interpretations of the constitution. And for Tokyo, the next logical step—the complete revision of the constitution—might not be far off” (ibid.).

It appears that it won’t be long before Japan does in fact change its law to accommodate its new reality.

Who Will Fill the Labor Void?

Who Will Fill the Labor Void?

THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP/Getty Images

Low birthrates and the need for more workers are hurting the economies of Europe and Japan. These nations dealt with this problem in the past. How will they solve it today?
From the September 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

In many European nations, continued low birthrates have drained labor pools. At the same time, the elderly of these nations are living longer lives, burdening already swamped social and pension programs, which are kept running by the taxes paid by the dwindling work force.

Such nations cannot sustain growth in their economies with only their own dwindling citizenry to fill the increasing void in their labor markets. Efforts to maintain their present standard of living, aside from ambitions for increasing international influence, wealth and power, are overstretching their ability to sustain the pace of desired economic growth.

One obvious solution to Western Europe’s dwindling labor pool is imported labor. But European Union nations prefer, instead, to tighten their immigration policies, hoping another solution can be found to fill the mounting labor void. For example, at the beginning of this year, five EU coastal nations began a coordinated effort to police their common border adjoining the Mediterranean Sea, in an effort to stem illegal immigration, primarily from Africa.

What will these nations do to fill their employment ranks? Could this problem involve you, personally, one day?

Low Birthrates Affect EU’s Future

Despite government incentives, Europe’s low fertility rates persist, “suggesting that the reasons go well beyond the arithmetic of salaries and schedules” (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2002).

In societies where couples are increasingly career-oriented, many Europeans are extending their education, finding work and marrying later in life. At the same time, divorce rates have increased. Couples that choose to have offspring want only one child. Contraception and easy abortion have made this goal very attainable.

If the trend were to be reversed and women began to have more children earlier in life, the population would still fall for many years to come, simply because of a lack of sufficient women of childbearing age, according to a study using data from the European Demographic Observatory (Times, London, March 28). Wolfgang Lutz, of the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, said this “negative momentum has not been experienced on a large scale in world history so far” (ibid.).

Joseph Chamie, chief of population statistics at the United Nations, has predicted that if the current birthrate continues and there is no immigration, Germany will lose over half of its population by the century’s end (Taiwan News, Aug. 1).

In an attempt to reverse this trend, Renate Schmidt (the German minister for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth) and the Bertelsmann Foundation have begun a new scheme to promote larger families. “Alliance for the Family” will encourage companies to give women a variety of schedules they can work, plus offer day care for the children of these workers (Deutsche Welle, July 10).

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.1 children per family on average must be maintained to keep populations stable (New York Times, op. cit.). Anything less than that would eventually lead to failing national economies, resulting in huge shifts of population.

Europe’s low birthrate has been an ongoing problem since the 1980s.

Japan Faces Similar Future

On the other side of the world, Japan too is heading toward a shortage of workers as its birthrate declines. Increasingly, women are choosing careers over their traditional roles of wife and mother.

“Women in Japan feel that having children will affect their work,” said Dr. Thang Leng Leng of the National University of Singapore (Straits Times, Jan. 26). An anthropologist at the university’s Japanese Studies department, Dr. Thang said that in the 1990s, fertility rates were only 0.6 for career-minded women, while homemakers had on average 2.96 children per household.

Other reasons for small families in Japan include the expense of having children, and the desire among many men and women to put professional careers above marriage and children until they are in their mid-30s. The Straits Times article stated that in Japan, 15,000 fewer babies were born in 2002 compared to the previous year, with the birthrate at only 1.33. Rates have not been this small since 1945.

Just like European policy makers, Japanese officials are scrambling to find ways to encourage procreation. A plan was introduced in the 1990s to provide child support for working mothers, but failed to produce any significant results. The government has since tried to introduce other incentives. Still, with Japan’s strict immigration laws, the shortage of workers continues.

The Historical Solution

This, however, is not the first time Germany and Japan have faced a labor-shortage problem. How did these nations resolve this problem in the past?

In the years leading up to World War ii, under political stress and with the desire to build empires, both Germany and Japan reverted to the old practice of slave labor. Though a practice hard to imagine in modern times, this became the answer to the problems of each nation’s labor shortage during the 1930s. The number of slave laborers dramatically increased every year until war’s end in 1945. At end of the war, these former slave laborers comprised many of the millions of displaced people wandering the landscape of Germany and its former occupied territories.

In Europe, the Nazis subjugated non-Germans who were considered enemies of the state, to meet their imperial aim of global conquest. In addition, hundreds of thousands of civilians were deported from the Soviet Union to serve in Nazi work camps.

Areas close to industrial sites were chosen for hundreds of slave labor camps. Around 12,000 German business firms took advantage of slave labor during World War ii (bbc News, July 9, 1998). Those considered of no use to the imperial labor force were simply dispensed with (at the Auschwitz death camp alone, at least 1.5 million people were massacred at nearby gas chambers—cnn, April 19, 2001).

Volkswagen (vw)—which recently stopped production of the world’s most-sold car, the vw Beetle—was one such company. The world remains largely unaware that vw’s current profitability had its genesis in World War ii slave labor. Although vw admits to using 7,000 people as slave laborers, others say that estimate is extremely conservative. Belatedly—after more than 50 years—Volkswagen announced it would start a fund to give financial aid to the victims of slave labor in their factories, which produced weapons and equipment to help further the war for Germany.

During January 1945, Edward L. Deuss, an economic analyst, prepared a report that detailed the enormity of the number of people, of 14 different nationalities, held by the Nazi Third Reich in Germany as slave laborers. Deuss’s total of slave laborers, including prisoners of war and political prisoners, added up to almost 6.7 million.

A more recent estimate from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website puts the total number of forced laborers in German-occupied areas at 8 million. Within the huge German corporate war-empire, consisting of private and public businesses aiding the war effort, some of the most punishing treatments were dished out during the frenzy of slave labor. Certain categories of these prisoners were literally worked to death. The Nazis had a name for this work plan: “annihilation through work” (www.ushmm.org).

“This harsh treatment grew out of the forced labor regimen that, since 1933, had been an integral part of the Nazi program for controlling those it deemed as political or racial enemies of the German people” (ibid.; emphasis mine throughout).

Japan Mirrors Germany

A few years ago, a U.S. federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought against numerous Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Nippon Steel, which forced Allied prisoners to work as slave laborers during the Second World War. The judge sided with the Japanese government position that the U.S.-Japanese 1951 peace treaty had settled all claims. Whether the crimes had been committed or not was not the issue.

In the company camps, about 9,000 out of 25,000 prisoners died because of Japanese cruelty—a 37 percent death rate, compared to Germany’s American prisoner-of-war death rate of 1 percent. “So it’s outrageous that these companies, which profited from slave labor, are celebrating in their board rooms,” said David Casey Jr., one of the former soldiers’ lawyers (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 22, 2000).

Unlike many German corporations, Japanese counterparts have never apologized for their crimes.

What Will the Solution Be?

If the European Union and Japan are intent on expanding industry to support a renewed military strength, as post-9/11 trends indicate, core populations of trusted citizens are going to be needed to fill the ranks of their armed forces. Yet at the same time, it will be difficult to build such armies without hindering the required industrial expansion and economic development. Low birthrates will compound their problem.

The question is, will old answers be used to solve new but similar labor shortage problems?

On April 19, 2001, American President George W. Bush observed Holocaust Remembrance Day at the U.S. Capitol. Speaking to members of Congress, Holocaust survivors, Allied veterans and others, he declared, “We are bound by conscience to remember what happened ….”

A strong warning was contained in his address. President Bush stated that the orders to murder countless millions “came not from crude and uneducated men, but from men who regarded themselves as cultured and well-schooled, modern and even forward-looking.” Further, he said their crimes show that, in today’s world, evil can emerge and “blend in, amid the most civilized of surroundings.”

Take a look at just one such 1940s “modern” and “forward-looking” German man, Erich Koch, Reich commissioner for the Ukraine. On March 5, 1943, during a National Socialist Party meeting in Kiev, Koch said this of Germany, its people, and the slave laborers that served them: “I will draw the very last out of this country [the Ukraine]. I did not come to spread bliss. I have come to help the Führer. The population must work, work, and work again …. We are a master race, which must remember that the lowliest German worker is racially and biologically a thousand times more valuable than the population here” (Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1946).

Such thinking may seem archaic, but the scourge of anti-Semitism now gaining ground in various parts of the world, especially Europe, illustrates that such warped reasoning is not dead! (See “Death by Prejudice” in the August Trumpet.)

Modern-Day National Captivity?

According to Bible prophecy, the world will have to face the atrocity of forced slave labor on a massive scale once again—as humanity is plunged into another world war!

Herbert W. Armstrong warned for 57 years of the future national captivity of the modern-day nations of Israel—America, Britain and the Middle Eastern state of Israel, as described in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Both he, and our own editor in chief and staff writers, have pointed to a startling biblical prophecy slated to be fulfilled in the not-too-distant future. In the book of Revelation we read of the merchants of the day, during a great revival of the ancient Holy Roman Empire, once again trading in “slaves, and souls of men” (Rev. 18:13).

Regarding the future of the peoples of America and Britain, Mr. Armstrong said this: “Every prophecy in the Bible showing where our people (Israel) will be, at the Second Coming of Christ, and the coming great exodus back to the Holy Land, pictures them in captivity and slavery once again” (Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?).

“It’s time to awake to the immanency, and the stark seriousness of this!” warned Mr. Armstrong. “If you rely on the majority of sinning people, you will suffer their penalties with them!” (ibid.). Only those who positively respond to God’s end-time warning message, and turn to God in repentance and obedience, will be protected from the coming enslavement.

It will be the European Union, led by Germany, that will ignite the spark of another world war and be the imperial power God uses to bring the conquered nations of Israel into captivity for the last time before the return of Jesus Christ (Deut. 28:49-50). Sadly, this is the only event that will bring those nations to a collective repentance of their rebellion against their God.

Watch to see how the sure prophecies of God will come to pass. Historically, both Germany and Japan have used slave labor to fuel their wartime efforts. Will the need for labor to support the prophesied future military aggression once more lead to slave labor—this time for the nations of end-time Israel?

Connect the dots between history, current trends and prophecy, and the prospect of slave labor becomes very real.

Resurrecting the Gestapo

From the August 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

When Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, the Allies wanted to make certain that the German killing machine would never rise again. Germany was divided and conquered—its military stripped, its economy in rubble—and the Berlin-based secret services, the SS and Gestapo offices, were supposedly eliminated.

Today, nearly 60 years later, Germany is once again united, has its own military and has the largest economy in Europe—the third largest national economy in the world. And on top of this, the coalition Green Party in Germany recently proposed that the German secret services once again be centralized in Berlin.

“A press release of the party [Alliance 90/the Greens] states that the decentralized structure of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)—which had been established as a reaction to the concentration of the secret services during the Nazi era—now makes its activities ‘very ineffective’ …” (www.German-Foreign-Policy.com, June 24; emphasis mine throughout).

The last time these secret services were centralized was during World War iiunder the name of the SS and Gestapo!

The very reason that the German secret services were decentralized was to prevent another rise of Nazism in Germany. Now, these safeguards are deemed “ineffective.” When this proposal is accepted, German secret service and intelligence agencies will be united once again in the historic capital of Imperial Germany, Berlin.

“The reconstruction, modeled on an organization customary during the empire and the Nazi regime and with the objective to encompass the whole continent, nears completion” (ibid.). Germany is getting back to its roots! Even long before its Nazi past, Germany was the leader of the Holy Roman Empire—the empire referred to in the quote above.

Amazingly, even as Nazi Germany was being invaded on D-day, Herbert Armstrong predicted the rise of German-led Europe once again. “When it appeared, after the ‘D-day’ crossing of the channel, that Hitler faced defeat, I continued to say that Germany would rise out of defeat, and ultimately Europe would unite in a modern United States of Europe. No one believed it, then” (Plain Truth, February 1970).

Now we can see this fulfillment with our own eyes! A major step is about to be taken by the German government. If the secret services are centralized in Berlin—and this looks highly probable—Germany will be one large stride closer to a complete resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Next Market to Crash

From the August 2003 Trumpet Print Edition

The housing market is booming. In many Western economies, house prices have risen 30 to 50 percent since the mid-1990s.

This is one of the positive factors driving the United States economy. Mortgage interest rates have sunk to a 45-year low (averaging 5.21 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in June, according to Freddie Mac). Seldom in recent history have mortgages been so affordable—thanks to the Federal Reserve dropping the federal funds interest rate to 1 percent, also a 45-year low. And Americans are taking advantage: New housing starts continue to outpace last year’s levels, with May 2003 increasing 3.9 percent over May 2002 (U.S. Census Bureau). The government also reported a 12.5 percent increase in single-family home sales this May.

Combined, these factors have created a surge in new mortgages, refinancing and equity loans. The economy is showing subtle signs of improvement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen 20 percent since March.

But there is a cloud in the middle of this silver lining. Now there is growing concern that we are witnessing a building bubble in the housing market that may be about ready to burst—with potentially devastating consequences.

Two-Fold Problem

The Economist calls the potential bursting of a housing bubble possibly “the single most important question currently hanging over the world economy” (May 29).

Inflation in the U.S. is hovering around a 50-year low at about 2 percent for May. Inflated house prices, coupled with low inflation, create an environment in which home equity cannot regain its long-term equilibrium through inflation alone. For the market to level out, inflation will have to rise and “house prices will have to fall by at least 20 percent in money terms in most of the countries with bubbles” (ibid.).

Another problem lies in the surge of prices coupled with an even greater increase in household debt. An alarming number of Americans have tapped equity in their mortgages as a source of additional cash. “In America, Britain and Australia mortgage-equity withdrawal is running at record levels of 5-7 percent of personal disposable income” (ibid.).

With rocketing increase in both house prices and mortgage debt, home owners are living on borrowed time. If house prices decrease, homeowners could be left with mortgages in excess of the value of their homes.

Repercussions

For many families, the home is their most stable investment. Already, many have lost from the stock market crash. A drop in the value of their home would be doubly painful. This is of particular concern for those about to retire who are counting on significant profit from the sale of their home to fund their retirement needs.

But homeowners would not be the only ones at risk if the housing market bubble burst. Lending institutions face a potential increase in mortgage default. Banks typically sell their mortgages on the secondary market to either the Federal National Mortgage Association (known as Fannie Mae) or to the Federal Home Mortgage Loan Corporation (Freddie Mac). These two federal entities finance the purchase of mortgages by issuing bonds. They borrow money at a discounted rate to buy the mortgages from issuing banks, and then either add them to their portfolio or package them into securities for sale on Wall Street. The result is a substantial return on their investment. So much so, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are among the 50 most profitable companies in America.

Ironically, they are also some of the most indebted companies, sharing more than $1 trillion of debt combined.

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, these two government-sponsored enterprises (gses) were created by a special congressional charter. The government’s intention was to create an environment in which the banks have more capital to loan, thus more mortgages to offer, all in an attempt to stimulate the sale of additional homes. The gses sell guarantees to banks, which ensure borrowers will make timely principle and interest payments. This guarantee makes the bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac especially attractive to investors.

The gses profit from other benefits that, private competitors argue, create an unfair advantage. Considerable debate about the unique treatment of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae rages between congressional leaders and industry specialists.

Should the housing market falter, default on mortgages could potentially devastate both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, which control about 44 percent of the collective mortgage debt. A dive in the housing market could be the straw that breaks the back of the American financial system. The structure of both Freddie Mac’s and Fannie Mae’s charter doesn’t include a guarantee of government bail-out should mortgage defaults exceed the amount of cash necessary to pay the holders of their bonds. Many assume the government will bail out the companies, but, by charter, there is no obligation for them to do so.

Should the housing bubble burst, the economic repercussions could be more devastating to the economy than the crash of the stock market, because a greater proportion of privately held equity lies in homes than did in the stock market. Ultimately, this could lead the economy into deflation.

Deflation

In June, Alan Greenspan lowered the borrowing interest rate—for the 13th time since the start of 2001—as an insurance action to prevent the economy from slipping into deflation. “Because deflation appears harder to reverse than it is to prevent, Fed officials seem willing to take out insurance against it, even if they see it as unlikely” (International Herald Tribune, June 24). Deflation becomes a greater concern when an economy stagnates. A steady fall in prices might devastate the American economy by causing a decrease in wages, thus making debt repayment unmanageable. With the interest rate approaching zero, there is little room left for the Federal Reserve to maneuver should a crisis present itself—a crisis such as a housing bust.

“It is true that if the Fed had not slashed interest rates after the stock market collapsed, the downturn would have been much steeper. But by inflating a house-price bubble and encouraging households to borrow more, the Fed has merely delayed the day of reckoning. With households now even more deeply in debt, a fall in house prices would have even more serious consequences” (Economist, op. cit.).

Federal Mortgage Agencies

A crash in the housing market would cause great consternation among lending institutions that have inflated the explosive housing bubble.

Government “sponsored” mortgage agencies like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae hold an inordinate number of mortgages—so much so that a decline in their financial health would have definite and serious implications for the entire American financial system.

Richard Baker, a Republican congressman from Louisiana, expressed concern about the risk these agencies might pose. “He argued that they might eventually land the taxpayer with a bill that dwarfs the savings-and-loan mess of a decade ago. The agencies have been increasing their lending at a 20 percent annual rate in the past couple of years, as, to rather less attention, has the Federal Home Loan bank system [Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae]. The federal mortgage agencies already have combined debts of $1.4 trillion. On current trends, by 2003 they will be bearing some of the risk on half of America’s residential mortgages, up from one third in 1995” (Economist, April 15, 2000).

The Solution

How can this catastrophe be warded off? Some have suggested more federal involvement; others promote less involvement. Some have called for an abolition of tax benefits that encourage investing in the housing market. This was done in Britain, but it is too early to measure the effects. It has been suggested that the countries which offer the greatest incentive, such as the United States and Spain, are at greatest risk of a market crash.

Are lending institutions and gses solely responsible for the precarious market condition? “Credit creation by the federal mortgage agencies has been accused of inflating a credit bubble” (ibid.). The full scale of the problem is a result of many factors; arguably, greed among lending institutions is a primary cause. But they are only meeting the demand of consumers. Not only are corporations guilty of gambling with their financial future; increasingly, individuals are doing the same.

Western societies tend to want to live beyond their means. Aggressive marketing, incentive programs and pressure to keep up with the Joneses all combine to create an irresistible temptation. The solution rests in individual budgeting, savings and wise investment. As previous Trumpet articles have pointed out, statistics suggest that we are sprinting away from simple, economically wise principles.

Should the housing market follow in the footsteps of the stock market, as has already occurred in Japan, economic disaster looms. Japan has struggled for over a decade to regain a robust national economy after the disappearance of so much wealth from its devastated asset markets.

Many economists are keenly aware of the housing bubble. What about you? Are you financially prepared to withstand a crash in the value of housing? Is your house worth less than your mortgage? If so, you may be part of a growing problem that could ultimately crush the economies of the Western world.

Gone are the days of double-digit returns on real estate, just as they disappeared in the stock market. Now is the time to protect yourself by reducing your debt load and increasing your savings so you can weather the approaching storm.