Thursday, December 25, 2008

The True Meaning of Christmas

I am willing to bet that as Christmas 2008 comes to an end, many of us are sitting back with our bellies full going over what we got and what we didn't thinking about how great, or how not so great, this years Christmas went.

For us, this was our firstborns first Christmas. Therefore, he has been the center of attention - and rightfully so. Furthermore, this is my first Christmas at Goshen Baptist Church and I have done more funerals that I had wished. It is a reminder how difficult Christmas can be for many of us as we find our mourning while the nation celebrates. But thankfully, even though we might find ourselves mourning over death, Christmas means that we can celebrate because of birth: the birth of Christ.

What is the true meaning of Christmas? We ask ourselves that question every year and it seems to fall on deaf ears. We'll say things like, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," and yet turn around and fight over the latest video game or baby doll because our children have to have this or that gift. Have we made Christ the reason for the season?

Dr. John MacArthur is reminding us what the true meaning of Christmas is. It isn't about shepherds, a manger, Wise Men, a star, or anything like that. Christmas is about something much more...:

Christmas is about a cross, a substitute that has taken our punishment for us so that we won't have to. We can't save ourselves, only God can. Therefore, let us spend the rest of our lives reflecting on the thought that Christ paid a price He did not owe, because we owe a price we cannot pay!

Merry Christmas . . . And Happy Easter!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The (In)Tolerance of the Homosexual Movement: A Response

I want to take some time and respond to some of the issues that have been brought up since posting my last article on the homosexual movement and their reaction to the passing of Proposition 8. To begin, there is no way I can deal with every issue brought up by others, but I will try. My goal is not to start an argument or to spew hateful words, but rather to face reality and engage the culture on this issue. I am not interested in name calling for that is childish and solves nothing.

To begin, a couple of things should be pointed out. First, my previous post does not characterize all homosexuals. I do not believe that all homosexuals are violent, molesters, or hate Christians. In fact, most aren't. It is a small majority of homosexuals that have rioted, assaulted, and committed this crimes.

However, we must not, at the same time, just right these instances off as the result of a just a few persons. Hatred towards Christianity due to issues like this comes from many people and not always in forms of violence. All one must do is look at the West and survey what happens to people who oppose gay marriage once it is passed. Hate speech. Hate crimes. Hate laws. Anyone who opposes gay marriage now becomes guilty of a crime. That is the suppression of freedom.

Democracy cannot thrive on such legislation. I am all for others disagreeing with me. That is how democracy works. As an American, I am against denying people the right to have their own opinions and as a Christian, I believe that God has laid out what is right and wrong. Therefore, I will stand on my convictions. This is no different than the other side. They have their convictions and they stand on them. That's democracy.

My problem is whenever things like these riots which show an ugly side of the issue go ignored by the culture and written off as the actions of a just a few. In fact, it seems they are understood and perhaps even excused.

"Sow oppression, reap retaliation." Do we really mean this? Think about how many people are really oppressed. Is it really oppression to be denied the right to do what is wrong? If so, then all forms of retaliation can be excused as long as it is out of "oppression." I know this sounds extreme, but take the argument to it's logical end.

If oppression reaping retaliation is an excuse for the actions taken by this angry mob, then who else can we expect to retaliate? Who will retaliate next? Who else can take a shot at those who disagree with them? This is the problem I have with redefining marriage. Once we begin to redefine marriage, will we ever really define it?

For example, why is polygamy wrong? If Proposition 8 had lost, marriage would have been defined as being between 2 persons, whether the same sex or different sexes. But why only two? Why can't persons with multiple spouses be married? Isn't it wrong to deny them their rights? Would that fit in the 14th Amendment too? How could we deny them their rights? They have rights too don't they? These are the same arguments made by the homosexual crowd.

What about lowering the age of consent? How could we deny the right of a couple in love, regardless of their age, to engage in sexual activity if it is consensual? If two people are in love, how can we deny their right to marry? Shouldn't we "stay out of the bed room?" Same argument. Same problem.

With such an argument, it becomes excusable for the Islamic immigrant who has multiple wives to retaliate because he has been oppressed by being denied the right to remain married to his multiple wives? Should we allow the riots of polygamists against those that disagree with them? We are standing on shaky ground. To excuses the actions of the angry mob who assaulted and attempted to molest the Christian worshipers because they were outraged over a vote is very dangerous ground.

And why shouldn't the Christians be allowed to retaliate? If their views are oppressed, shouldn't they then be excused to retaliate? If their convictions are denied, why can't they fall in line with others who have retaliated because of oppression? If "oppression reaps retaliation," is excusable, then it must apply both ways.

Let me add a footnote here: those who are using the argument that oppression reaps retaliation are not trying to justify the actions of this angry mob. I am not arguing that. They are just as opposed to the violence and the sexual assault as I am. However, to say that "Christianity would merely be reaping what it's sown," is in essence excusing, not justifying, the behavior of this mob. It's a way of saying, "I don't blame them. I would do that too if I were them." Rather than condemning violent retaliation as always wrong, some have excused it. I have a serious problem with this.

The argument continues: "failure to understand the natural yins and yangs of human behavior is purely ignorant. Virtue ethics ought to be tempered with consequentialism and many Christians seem to be notoriously bad at that." So would it be OK to to retaliate, as I have just argued, if the tables were turned? Let's say Christians lost an election over an issue, would people excuse their retaliation as consequentialism? Should we simply ignore or excuse the actions, even if violent, of some based on consequentialism?

My original point was dealing with the issue of tolerance. My main point was that those who claim to be champions of tolerance are nothing more than hypocritical bigots. I admit that I am a bigot, as defined as being unshakable in my opposition to something. I am against gay marriage. I believe that homosexuality is wrong. By definition, that is intolerance and bigotry. All truth is intolerant. My problem is not with persons who equally admit their own intolerance by disagreeing with me. My problem is with persons who scream "Intolerant, bigot fundamentalist" at me and yet never realize that such words are in itself intolerant. My point is that if a person is truly tolerant, as defined in our postmodern culture, then they should embrace my intolerance.

One last point. To argue that Christians aren't being persecuted by homosexuals and their supporters is preposterous. How can one deny persecution whenever an angry mob enraged over an election result goes out and pours hot coffee over those who voted differently and believe differently, and then take their Holy book and proceed to beat them with it, and then try to molest them? How is that not persecution? Oh yeah, I forgot, it's not persecution, it's "oppression reaps retaliation."

I am not saying that if homosexual marriage is made legal nationwide that every Christian will be arrested or abused. However, the trend that we have seen in other nations who have passed gay marriage and some of the trends I see here in America show that Christians will, in some sense, be denied their right to disagree. How so? Pastors will be denied the right to say that homosexuality is a sin in the pulpit. The Bible will likely be considered hate speech. Couples wishing to adopt who consider homosexuality to be a sin will be denied. Persons who put ads in papers arguing that homosexuality is a sin could be arrested or fined. Etc.

This is the type of persecution I am referring to. I am not saying that every Christian will have hot coffee poured out on them. What I am saying, as I said in my original post, is that once man has rationalize sin, he will legislate sin and legislate against anyone that stands in their way and this has been the trend in the West over this issue.

I am not offended by people who disagree with me. If I were, I would never have posted anything on such a controversial subject. I encourage dialogue and an honest discussion. Please refrain from name calling and personal attacks. If you disagree, then say so and explain why. But we get nowhere whenever we just call each other names and attack one another.

I hope this clears some things up and adds to the conversation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The (In)Tolerance of the Homosexual Movement: See, I Told You So

Over the past few years, our culture has raised the issue of hate crimes, hate speech, and the rest. In truth, such legislation is geared towards Christians who stand firm on the conviction that some things are right and some things are wrong. Our culture calls this bigotry, intolerance, and closed-mindedness. But it seems that the more I analyze and examine our culture the more wrong this stereotype is.

Let's look at the recent election specifically the passing of Proposition 8. The passing of Proposition 8 in California overturned the courts decision to legalize gay marriage. Let us look at the reaction of the election results, specifically the passing of Proposition 8 and the (in)tolerance from the left and pro-gay movement in California (and in America in general).

If a Christian, a Christian group, or Christianity in general raised up a mob, raped, assaulted, abused, and threatened to kill those who disagreed with them (let's use homosexuals for example) what do you think the repercussions would be? Arrest. Chastisement. And more legislation. Why? Because even though one might disagree with another, violence is not the same as free speech.

But what if I told you that such things did happen. However it wasn't from the actions and words of Christians but of homosexuals? If our culture was truly consistent, wouldn't we treat them the same? Isn't that what they are wanting? They want to be able to get married like everyone else. They want to be recognized like everyone else. They want to be accepted like everyone else. They want to be treated like everyone else. However, they do not want to be held accountable like everyone else.

Some homosexuals have gone so far as to rape and assault some Christian groups. A group of Christians were praying and were then assaulted and raped by pro-homosexuals. The mob covered the Christians in white sheets and then poured hot coffee on them. The angery crowd used the Bible as a weapon and began to kick some of the Christians. Not to mention the many threats, such as "We're going to kill you," and blasphemous charges that "Jesus was a homo."

Can anyone say hate crime? We don't even need to go that far, why not arrest those guilty of attempted rape and assault. But since they are homosexuals, this is not hate, this is an exercise of freedom. The police did help protect the Christian group, but even that did very little. Rather than prosecute those who committed such heinous crimes, the city does nothing as if nothing had happened. (Click here for more information and to watch the video of the assault)

Once the votes were counted, the legislation should have begun, but it hasn't. The will of the people has been handed over to judges and lawyers who care nothing about the will of the people. The intolerant pro-homosexual movement doesn't want equality. For it they did, they would lick their wounds and move on. They want dominance. The gay movement is more than just about equal rights. If it were about equal rights then there would be no effort to pass hate crime and hate speech laws.

It is amazing how far man will go to rationalize their sin. This is no longer a democratic process. Loosing an election matters nothing to persons who wish to normalize, or in reality, enforce their sin in society and onto others. If this was about equality, then why the show of force? Why throw condoms at churches? Why the assault? Why the rape? Why the violence? Why the bigotry? Why the anger? If this had been the actions of Christians, they would have been jailed and it would have been front page news. But a culture obsessed with rationalizing sin refuses to demoralize it's own agenda.

It is time for Christians and for our culture to wake up to the threat we face today. This is no longer a nation where everybody shares their opinion in the public arena and contributes to societal dialogue. This is about control. If such movements like the homosexual movement do not get their way the traditional way, then they are willing to force their wills and agendas on us, even if it takes assault, molestation, threats, violence, anger, mobs, and anything else.

Previously, I pointed out the dangers that redefining marriage presented. I argued that if homosexual marriage is allowed and becomes wide-spread, this nation will see persecution against the Church in ways unimaginable. The actions taken by these groups have not happened in a vacuum and it seems that my prediction was right. Well, partly right. I should have seen that it wouldn't take the legalization of homosexuality to persecute the Church, just the possibility apparently is enough to assault the Church.
We are not living in the same country we were decades ago where freedom flourished and dialogue was encouraged. Now, the "tolerant" are celebrated bigots while those who hold convictions contrary to the social norm are abused, persecuted, and if their will be done, prosecuted. When will America wake up and realize that bigotry is alive and well in our nation, but those accused are not the one's most guilty. It is one thing to disagree with an election (I certainly have), it is another thing to take that disagreement, form a mob, assault those who disagree with you, while at the same time declare yourself open-minded, tolerant, and against bigotry.
As Christians, we must not be surprised. The world hates us. But let us remember, it first hated Jesus. And if the world wanted to kill Christ, it will stop at nothing to eliminate us. I fear that we are only seeing the beginning. Who knows what will happen in the next decade or two. Will my children be considered enemies of the state because they disagree with the culture? I pray that my fears are not realized, but in the meantime by the looks of everything, we better brace ourselves for the worse.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction

Perhaps the debate regarding abortion has changed. Better yet, perhaps the debate over the life of the unborn has added another branch, that of Abortion Reduction. It is significant that in this election cycle for President those who support this new approach to this divisive issue put all of their hope in now President-elect Barack Obama. But the question must be asked, is President-elect Obama going to be the President to reduce abortions or will proponents of abortion reduction be disappointed in Obama.

We have already established that abortion reduction is not the answer to finding middle ground between pro-lifers and pro-deathers (my word for pro-choicers), but nonetheless, proponents of this view have made their case and must therefore sleep in the bed of their making. This is the candidate they wanted, but will they get the result they wanted?

In a word, no. Though Obama has yet to make an executive decision as President, there are early signs of just how pro-abortion his administration is going to be. Already, it seems inevitable that the process that the pro-life movement made under President George W. Bush will be rescinded in a matter of days. It seems that Obama will rescind the following:

  • The prohibition on federal funding for international family-planning agencies that provide abortions -- or counseling and information about abortion -- even in countries where the procedure is legal. This policy, known as the Mexico City initiative, was initially put in place by Ronald Reagan and reaffirmed by the current president's father. Bill Clinton removed it in 1993; President Bush restored it two days after taking office in 2001. ...
  • The ban on federal funding for research on new lines of embryonic stem cells. In August 2001, Bush limited government funding to the embryonic stem cell lines then in existence and prohibited any funding for development of new embryonic stem cell lines. Proponents of such research -- including many Democrats and moderate Republicans -- have pointed to the potential for cures for such devastating illnesses as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, but many social and religious conservatives liken the use of such stem cells to abortion because it requires the destruction of an embryo.

It seems that Obama will be a return to the past. As the first point makes clear, the question of federal funding was rejected by Reagan and HW Bush only to be rescinded by Clinton within days of his administration only to be reenacted by W. Bush, and now to be re-rescinded by the Obama administration. I must ask, is this the change and the break from the past we were hoping for?

Likewise, it seems that Obama will rescind the Bush administrations decision to not develop new embryonic stem cell lines. This involves the creating of life in order to destroy life. Is this the reduction we were hoping for? Rather than just abortion life, we will fund the creation of life just to kill it.

With the likes of Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, and others telling us that Obama's plan to reduce abortion was the progress we needed on this issue and that the Bush administration's policies did not reduce the number of abortions, I must ask them what they now think? What are they going to do to the monster they have created? How will they feel whenever the number of abortions sky rocket as our new President spend our money to provide women for abortions?

We were promised change, and we will get it, tat is, except for the unborn. More of them will likely be slaughtered. Even though it was clear that Obama was the most radical pro-choice candidate in Congress, we were promised that his policies would reduce the number of abortions. Should we be surprised? We were warned weren't we?

I must ask another question, are the actions that Obama will likely take during the opening days of his administration process in the direction proponents of abortion reduction were hoping for? Are they so naive to think that federal funding and support of further embryonic stem cell research will actually limit the number of killed human lives? Can such persons be so foolish?

Of course Obama told us he wanted to see a reduction in the number abortions. We all do. But I will believe in actions before words. "Just words," Obama once said and we are living in his hypocrisy. We got words, but is actions will speak louder, and contrary, to his words. Abortion Reductionists made us promises and now it seems the man they helped elect will break those promises.

We can't say we weren't warned. And we must return were we started, abortion reduction is no common ground and is not the solution to the abortion debate. There is no common ground. Murder is murder no matter how good of a speaker one is. Maybe in four years, these fools who spread these lies about our next President will refrain from fooling millions of us again into believing such nonsense.

But then again, I believe that the voice of the increased murdered that will take place in the next four years will cry out loud enough. The Reductionists put global warming and poverty over the sanctity of life and thus came up with an excuse to support Obama. The blood of the innocent will be on their hands as the rest of us seek to recover what will be lost in the Obama adminstration.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Thank You For Spanking Me Dad": What the Arrest of a Father Implies About the Culture & Why Spanking is Necessary

In October 2008 my wife gave birth to our first child, a son. And I have and intend on continuing to spanking him. Sadly, this may mean that I might face a fine or even jail time as a punishment for my actions. My conviction for the necessity for spanking children is primarily two-fold: 1) Scripture exhorts parents to discipline their children via spanking and 2) it works.

If you don't believe me, just ask Pastor Barry W. Barnett, 43, from Wisconsin who has been arrested for spanking his 12-year-old son for lying. The father has been released on a $10,000 bond but could face up to 3 years in prison if found guilty of felony charges of abuse against his children.

What is most interesting about this case is that the 12-year-old son has publicly thanked his father for spanking him and his daughter has been seen standing outside the courthouse holding a sign that says, "Thank you for spanking me dad." Nonetheless, the actions taken by the father are viewed as abusive and going too far.

This case and the gradual spread of similar cases and beliefs around the country has some important implications worth discussing.


One implication is it reveals the cultures true colors as it relates to parenting, parental rights, and children. What is interesting about this case is the response by Pastor Barnett's children. Both the son and the daughter have expressed gratitude towards their father for his "abusive," behavior. Even at their age, they see the benefit of his actions.

But more importantly, the children do not view their father as abusive, but loving. The words and actions taken by these children reveal this conviction. No daughter who believes they are being abused upon having their father arrested would stand outside of a court house in protest thanking their abusive father for "beating" them. No. Rather, a daughter who knows that her father deeply loves her, cares for her, wants the best for her, and would never harm her nor put her in harms way does something like this.

This case reveals what our culture really thinks about parenting the rights of parents. We used to be a country that trusted each parent with the responsibility of raising their children and gave each parent the freedom to raise their own child. Now, however, government has become a spy cam, a watch dog, always seeking to prosecute and remove children from their parents for various reasons.

At this point, it should be made clear that abused children should not remain in abusive homes. I am not arguing that right now. What I am arguing is the fundamental attitude of the culture and of government that says that we will be allowed to be parents so long as we go along with the criteria set by those in state capitals and in Washington.

As a result, every child now has an extra parent: the government. Plato would be proud. In fact, Plato argued that children should be removed from their parents virtually from birth. He believed that parents were dangerous and ran the danger of indoctrinating their children with the wrong ideas. He feared that parents didn't really know what they were doing and so could not be trusted with the responsibility. Therefore, he wanted to remove children from their parents and place them in an institution where they will be raised by the "philosophers," that is, those "qualified," and able to raise them.

I fear that we are dangerously getting close to living out that dream. Public schools have taken children away from their parents and they now spend more time in the presence and under the responsibility of state run schools than they do their parents. Very few parents even know what is going on in and what their child is taught at school.

Furthermore, the growing trend of women in the workforce has affected this trend. I am not against women working, but I do believe that home is more important. It would be better to live a mediocre life (financially speaking) and make one's primary focus on the raising of a family than to live a more "successful" life (financially speaking again) and have very little concern and influence on the raising of one's children. Sadly, whenever women went to work, our culture left the raising of children to someone else. And the result hasn't been good.

Another trend that has contributed to this is the mass exodus of men from the home. Men aren't as involved in the raising of their families as much as they used to be. The father used to both disciplined and provide for his family. This mass exodus, for whatever the reasons and there are many, has led to the role of government to replace the traditional role of the father.

Also, this exodus has led to the increasing trend of children growing up to be...well...wimps. Men are leaving along with their sternness and form of discipline. Similarly, with the exodus of men came the belief that their forms of discipline, specifically spanking, were abusive. With the rise of psychologists in a sissified cultured came the belief that not only is spanking not needed, it is morally wrong.

Therefore, those who spank are abusive and must be stopped. And as this though continues to grow influence among politicians and the "elites," legislation is being passed, parents are being arrested, and "justice," is being done. As a result, parents are virtually given permission to raise their children from the hand of government and psychology.

This is a dangerous trend. Though many may not describe their parental authority in this way, even worse, most remain unaware of this trend, this is exactly what is happening. If the government or psychology views the actions taken by parents to be abusive or wrong, then government has the authority to replace the parents with someone else.

We see this trend in various ways. Perhaps the clearest example is in the public school. Parents, for the most part, have very limited say in the education their children received. Even worse, parents have accepted this limitation and adopt it. Therefore, schools can now take their students on "field trips" celebrating the marriage of their female teacher to their lesbian spouse. And to object to this action taken by the school is viewed as wrong and closed minded.

In the end, what we see is the cultural understanding of parenting. Parents are no longer free to parent. They are free to only raise their children as the culture sees fit, and that is not freedom at all.


Secondly, it reveals the clear lack of understanding of the truth nature of children and in men in general. One of the clear differences in the worldviews between liberals and conservatives is their view of human nature. Liberals traditionally see man as ultimately good. Conservatives see man as ultimately evil.

Christians, traditionally, believe that man is evil as a result of the fall. This understanding is called Original Sin. It says that all human beings inherit the sinful nature born out of the fall of Adam and Eve. Therefore, every person has a bent towards sin.

As a result of this sin nature, God must overcome this nature by first redeeming the individual. he does this by Justification and Sanctification. The parents role, it is understood, is to lead the child to Christ and to guide them on the road of sanctification. This process involves discipline.

Since each child is born with a sin nature, modern attempts to correct a child's behavior fall short. As I have said many times before, giving a child time-out only gives the child a chance to rest in order to start all over again.

In short, modern psychology and modern trends in discipline simply doesn't work. Why? Because it fails to deal with the real issue of human nature: sin. Discipline is to prevent sin from solely taking control of the individual. Both God disciplines, and so parents are to discipline. Parents are to model God, not culture.

One of the primary reasons I believe in spanking is because it works, while at the same time, at the end of the day the child, when it is done right, does not feel abused but loved. Spanking works, time-outs don't. This does not mean that alternative means of discipline shouldn't be used or practice. But I can usually tell between the children that are spanked and the children that are given time-outs. One is usually obedient, the other isn't.

Since spanking works and it is not abusive (thought it can be. But it must be pointed out that other forms of discpline can be turned into abuse, not just spanking. The issue isn't the discipline, but how it is administered), I will be spanking my child with the love of Christ and the love of a father in my heart. Not because I am angry, but because I love him.

As my heavenly Father disciplines me for my foolishness and disobedience, so I will displine my son after the example given me by God. And I would much rather mimic my Heavenly Father, than anything presented in the culture.

For More:
Blogizomai - Update: Breaking The Law By Spanking Your Children
Shortblogizomai - The Lunacy of Anti-Spanking Experts

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?

It took three debates but one of the most divisive issues in America was discussed: abortion. Though there are signs of "fatigue," among many, even among Evangelicals, abortion remains to be a definitive issue of our time. For the past 35 years, the two sides have raged over the wrong of the other. In recent years, however, there has been a growing number of Americans that are seeking to reach "common ground" between the two sides.

But is common ground possible? If the two sides could come together and make up, it would stand as one of the most incredible reconciling actions ever in the history of the world. Politics would never be the same. The two sides are directly opposed to each other on this issue. The reason abortion is so critical is because it the offspring of one's worldview.

On the one hand are those that hold that all life is sacred. Believing in the sanctity of life means that God, who is Creator of all life, creates life not for the heck of it, but for His own will and purposes. The fight over life, then, become an inherently religious one. Belief in a God who creates life in His image means that all life is worthy of life. Life is a gift from God, and that gift must not be taken away. Therefore, we must defend life at all cost.

But it even goes deeper than that. The human conscience is at stake here. A culture that rationalizes murder at the beginning of life can easily rationalize murder throughout all stages of life. Take issues like euthanasia and infanticide for example. If life is no longer sacred, then culture defines who is worthy of living. If culture becomes the arbiter of "life worthy of life," then culture rewinds to the 1940's and we become Nazi Germany. Therefore, defending life at conception means more than just overturning a court decision, it defines the very direction of our country. Man is not the arbiter of life, God is.

On the other end, pro-choicers affirm a woman's autonomy over her own body. Government has no right telling a woman what she can and cannot do with what is hers. Freedom demands it. Culture and government cannot have the right to assert religious views on those that do not hold to them. There is, the Supreme Court found, a "right to privacy."

Those who hold to this conviction usually do not seek abortion, but honestly want to limit the number of aborted infants. To do this, they seek the underlying social and economic causes: poverty, singleness, rape, incest, the child might be born with a handicap thus making it harder for them to be raised, the mother's career might be at stake, the mother might be young, inexperienced, not ready, etc.

The tracing of these causes leads to the issue of the quality of life for the infant. With the world being overpopulated, is it not wise to limit the born to those that are wanted and have the best chance of happiness? It is not necessarily that the life is not sacred, but that sometimes it might be best to end the pregnancy for the couple, the woman, and for society as a whole. Being pro-choice represents liberation from religious oppression and the right to have control over one's own body.

These are two very different worldviews. One says that all life is worthy of living despite the social and economic causes of pregnancy and sees the dangers of such a trend, the other warns of the dangers and uncertainties that raising children might bring. Pro-lifers ask, "what about the child?" Pro-choicers ask, "what about the mother?"

It is hard to imagine these two worldviews could be reconciled. This is why it remains the contentious issue that it does. Both sides hold dear to their worldview and don't seem to want to change their minds. Murder is murder. Choice is choice. There is no reconciling these two.

Or is there? There is a growing number of people, especially among more moderate Evangelicals, that believe that they have found the great compromise: Reduction.

Perhaps one of the major spearheads of this "compromise" is Emerging Church leader Jim Wallis . After watching the recent, and last, Presidential debate between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, Wallis is believes he is beginning to see glimmers of hope that this compromise might be reached.

After quoting the two candidates in the debate on this issue, Wallis concludes with the fol owing:

There are indeed profound moral issues involved in the decisions to have or not to have an abortion, and most Americans believe that. Most also believe the abortion rate in America is far too high but are hesitant to completely deny the difficult choice to have one.

Abortion reduction is the clear common ground that could unite the pro-choice and pro-life polarities and bring us together to find some real solutions and finally see some results. John McCain and Barack Obama last evening opened up the possibility of finding some new common ground in reducing abortions, reflecting the 2008 Democratic and Republican platforms. There is also now some movement in the Congress with pro-life and pro-choice members looking for common ground solutions for reducing the number of abortions that are proven to work. New and compelling studies make the clear connection between abortion and poverty, with fully three-fourths of the women who have abortions saying that they just couldn’t afford to have the child. It will be a great day when both poverty reduction and abortion reduction become non-partisan issues and bipartisan causes.

Life is precious. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. In fact, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.

Freedom is fundamental. John McCain believes that, Barack Obama believes that, Sarah Palin believes that, and so does Joe Biden. Again, I’m not sure I have ever met a person who believes otherwise.

Americans are for life. Americans are for choice. The challenge for our political leaders, our religious leaders, and every American is to hold freedom and life together even when they seem to collide. We should do all we can to make sure we have as much of both as possible. And we can start by having a better conversation about abortion in this election and beyond. Thankfully, the first steps toward that conversation were taken last evening.

But is abortion reduction the answer? Those in the Emerging Church, and others outside it, firmly believe that it is. Tony Campolo makes this argument in his book, "Red-Letter Christians." The idea is to mix the two worldviews, find common ground, and execute the plan. The emphasis at this stage is on having the "conversation."

But will this conversation ever accomplish anything? How do you convince someone that reducing murder is ok whenever the very idea of murder is repugnant? How do you convince someone that "limits" are the answer whenever the ultimate issue is liberation from limits? Yes, dealing with social and economic causes behind the desire for abortion are helpful and they might reduce the number of abortions, but state-sponsored murder remains.

Here is the problem with trying to find common ground on many issues is, it doesn't solve anything, nor does it bring unity, it only delays the issue. The two are irreconcilable. I will never be satisfied until life is defended by the State. How do you reconcile that with the polar opposite?

Though Wallis' aim might be commendable it is simply naive. The idea that we can all get together, light a candle, sing the Coca-a-Cola theme song and we will solve our problems reveals how blind he is on this issue. It seems that the Emerging Church, as a whole, has compromised their pro-life position, which the vast majority of them seem to hold, in order to support candidates that defend abortion and yet at the same time want to save the planet. It seems, at least to me, such a trend shows that they care more about the planet than the life that populates it.

Do I want reduced abortions? Of course. But that is not enough. Does finding the social and economic causes behind most abortions help reduce them? Of course. But it is not enough.

Even if poverty vanished, raped ceased, incest was nonexistent, and all handicaps were cured, we would still be dealing with the abortion issue. Why? Because the reasons for abortion are deeper than economics and social issues. The real purpose of abortion is that it creates a backup plan that enables one to avoid the consequences of their actions.

We want sex. But we don't want the consequences. And we live in a culture that is absolutely convinced that they can have one without the other. And if one does become pregnant, there is always the option of abortion. "But don't feel bad," we console ourselves, "it's not your fault. Your poor, were raped, the child will be handicap, he/she will keep you from living your dreams, etc."

Again, we return to the Garden narrative. Like the first couple, we are trying to place the blame on something else. We live in an illusion that it is never our fault. It is time that we live in the world that God created. Though mistakes result in unwanted consequences, in this case pregnancy, that does not mean that God's glory is in anyway diminished.

We must return, at this point, to the pro-life view. Because all life is sacred, we know that even those situations that are not ideal, God's glory can still be revealed. A mother uncertain of where the next meal is coming from can still find reason to smile and trust in a God who loves her and has forgiven her whenever her child's first words are "momma!" And a culture that has for so long seen children as a burden can once again return to it's proper understanding that all life is sacred and worthy of life.

God still judges and causes us to bear the burdens of our own consequences. But He is also the God of love and mercy that always finds a way to remind us of His love even whenever we find ourselves broken, confused, and hurting. The gift of life is precious, and that can never be compromised!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Missing Gene and Ray Boltz: The Theistic Argument, Did God Make Him This Way?

We have recently established that there is no "Gay Gene." Some of the worlds brightest scientist have come to this conclusion. In fact, as I previously pointed out, even homosexual activist affirm this scientific fact: there is no gene that makes one a homosexual. What is at stake here is the argument of orientation.

The argument goes that if homosexuality is something one is born with then it becomes a civil rights issue, not a moral one. Therefore, the homosexual community has done everything it can to find this proof. And, as expected, they have failed. It is time to give up this quest.

Recently, best-selling and award winning Christian singer and songwriter, Ray Boltz, came out of the closet. I have already commented on the situation and so I will not go into more detail here. What is important to know is that Boltz has returned to this old fallacy, only with a theistic twist: God, he argues, made him this way, therefore God wants him to live this way.

But I must ask, what Biblical or scientific fact can Boltz point to? Truth is, only experience. I have no doubt that Boltz and persons like him really believe that they were born this way. And yes, I believe that Boltz has struggled with this for years. I believe that he has tried to overcome this temptation with all of his effort, strength, and heart. But does this argument work? Certainly the evidence doesn't support it.

Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist Convention’s National Strategist for Gender Issues, on Dr. Richard Land's, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Council of the Southern Baptist Convention, website has written an excellent article making this same argument. Though there is much repeated from what I have said here and elsewhere, it is a good read nonetheless. As I have said before, I do not believe that the best response to Boltz is hate on him and call him a liar. That would not be Christan. The Christian response is to love one to the cross which entails repentance and reconciliation. And I pray that we do that with sincerity and urgency.

“If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live,” Christian singer Ray Boltz said in a recent article disclosing his decision to divorce his wife and live as a homosexual.

But did God really create Ray Boltz as a homosexual? The media certainly would have us think so.

Time recently ran an article (“What the Gay Brain Looks Like,” Jun. 17, 2008) attempting to demonstrate the “science” supporting a “gay gene.” Interestingly, the article referenced a study done by Simon LeVay in 1991. The study had major gaps in its methodology, and even LeVay, a homosexual neuroscientist, has said that it didn’t prove what he hoped it would.

An article such as this demonstrates the difficulty of speaking truth into our culture today. Studies attempting to normalize homosexual behavior are introduced with much fanfare, and we hear about “important” new discoveries that are accepted as facts. We don’t hear, however, about the scientists who strongly disagree and the studies that reach a different conclusion.

For example, in 2003, the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project, which, among other things, identified each of the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA. The press release read: “The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over.”

While this accomplishment was widely reported, almost no one reported the words of Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the project. Collins, arguably the nation’s most influential geneticist, said, “Homosexuality is not hardwired. There is no gay gene. We mapped the human genome. We now know there is no genetic cause for homosexuality.”

Somehow the major media missed that little tidbit. Collins and others acknowledge that genetics can predispose but not predetermine. This supports other studies that clearly document the possibility of change for people who struggle with unwanted homosexual desire.

The need for Christians to be prepared to deal with this issue is shown in another comment by Boltz: “I guess I felt that the church, that they had it wrong about how I felt with being gay all these years, so maybe they had it wrong about a lot of other things.”

Notice the emphasis on “how I felt.” Far too often we allow “feelings” and the validity of each person’s “story” to trump the authority of Scripture. In Boltz’s case, his struggle with homosexuality apparently caused him to doubt other tenets of the faith. Beliefs to which he had held all his life were reconsidered. This is not uncommon among strugglers from Christian backgrounds. When we fail to help them deal with this issue, other fundamental beliefs are questioned.

Another sad byproduct is that his former wife has joined a pro-gay advocacy group. I’ve often thought that many people turn to various pro-gay groups because the church was not there at the time of their crisis. The end result is that not only is the struggler lost, but family members as well. Tragically, they often become very effective instruments in the hands of homosexual activists.

I grieve for the loss of the testimony of Ray Boltz. I grieve for those who will follow his example. I grieve for his family. I pray that one day Ray will realize that God did not create him a homosexual and that there is a way out.

We are in desperate need of children of Issachar, who understand the times and know what to do (1 Chron. 12:32). Far too many in Southern Baptist churches are struggling with a temptation they neither seek nor understand, but they are terrified to ask for help. Ray Boltz said, “I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change.”

Those with long experience in this ministry will tell you that very few people have left homosexuality without the support and involvement of others. But the fear of being found out keeps many in bondage, and that bondage is intensified when the world continually trumpets, “You’re born that way. Just accept it.”

I pray for the day when all of our churches take seriously the need to train their leadership to redemptively provide the tools needed for the people like Ray Boltz in their midst. I long for the day when every community has Christians who are prepared to present a positive, joy-filled alternative to the lifelong struggle he has endured.

Are your church and your community prepared? Are you?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do You Party A Take Party B?... California Redefines Redefinition

A secular society fears clarity in it's speach. A postmodern society deconstructs it. Mix the two, and you get California's ban on using words like "husband," and "wife" on their marriage licenses and have now replaced them with "Party A" and "Party B."

Need we any more evidence of the death of language and the vanity of redefining anything like marriage in a culture that fears certainty? In a culture, especially in a state like California, that has radically redefined marriage to be something that it is not, has resulted in robbing language of any meaning. In this case, if anyone wants to be identified as a husband and wife, they will be forced to go out of state to get married. If they don't, they will be identified as simply Part A and Party B.

We fear offending someone more than standing for something. As a result, we rob language of it's clarity and rob marriage of it's purpose. Marriage has become nothing more than a certificate, rather than a covenant. No wonder. A depraved culture will do everything in it's power to normalize, legalize, and enforce it's own depravity onto the rest of us even if it means resulting to utter nonsense like referring to two married partners as Party A and Party B.

I am beginning to wonder, when we will introduce the world to Party C? Without clarity in language, there is no limit to what we can make it mean. A depraved culture, again, will stop at nothing to satisfy it's rebelling sin. As I have argued before to redefine something like marriage leads to the fear of actually coming to a conclusion of what we are redefining it to. The argument is now being made to allow things like polygamy. Why not? Who are we to be judgmental? Who are we to legislate what goes on in some one's bedroom? In their own privacy? Sound familiar? Now we can add one more argument: religion (Mormonism and Islam).

What is going on here is more than just robbing language of it's purpose, it is an attempt to satisfy all customers. California fears hurting the feelings of the depraved rather than defending the foundations laid by our founders. I guess marriage is just one of those issues we will have to be willing to be hated for.

Let the bigotry begin.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Plug It In, Plug It In

With winds reaching up to 80 MPH in some places, Hurricane Ike took Louisville, Kentucky and many of the surrounding counties by surprise Sunday afternoon. While much of Louisville received little or no rain, the damage caused by wind was reminiscent of Louisville's devastating 74' Tornado.

While early estimates claimed that sixty percent of LG&E's power grid went down Sunday--301,000 homes, and others at 340,000 homes, current statistics place it at 171,000 homes, with 130,000 homes back on the grid after enduring two days of the city's sporadic blackout.

After nearly 48 hours without power, on campus residents at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary may now plug in and recharge. While classes have been canceled until September 22, many students are using the time off as an opportunity to serve the community. For more information on when the power will be restored visit LG&E's customer service center or call 1-800-331-7370.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Anchor Holds? Stability in the Midst of Confusion

By now, many of you have probably heard about Ray Boltz' startling announcement of his hidden struggle with homosexuality, and his embrace of two prominent LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) congregations. If not, an article by Christianity Today and a glance at Boltz' official website will bring you up to speed with what was announced Friday by Boltz.

Further, many of you may recall some of the--now famous--songs written and mass-produced by Boltz, including, "Thank You", "Watch the Lamb", "I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb", and "The Anchor Holds".

In light of how the Lord has used Boltz throughout the years in his worship gatherings, and through the writing of many popular Christian songs, how might we sort through this new situation that we now find ourselves in? It is certainly a dilemma for Christians. We will discuss more on this topic at a later date, for now, I believe a short homily from the late great Charles Haddon Spurgeon will remedy our tensions, lest we just be tempted to doubt whether or not, "The Anchor Holds".

"There were also with him other little ships."
-- Mark 4:36

Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and his presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship.

When we sail in Christ's company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat.

If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as he fares; and when the waves are rough to him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as he did before us.

When the storm swept over Galilee's dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck. When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Savior arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord.

Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbor.

His Church is the Admiral's flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven.

By faith we will slip our cable for another day's cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the center of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.

In yet another day of tempest and storms, will we ever follow in the wake of our Admiral, making Him our anchor, rudder, lighthouse, life-boat, and harbor? Or, will we shipwreck ourselves by following our soul's own compasses? Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (Jn. 15.4) He also said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Does the anchor still hold? Are you abiding and obeying? If so, then the answer is a resounding, "Yes." "The anchor holds, in spite of the storm."