Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Beginning of the End: Obama Announces the End of Operation Iraqi Freedom

As I sure most people know, President Barack Obama gave his second major prime time speech from the Oval Office tonight.  Tonight's topic was the Iraq War and the continual draw down of our troops.  The President officially announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Essentially most of our troops in Iraq are/have coming home while a few are remaining to train Iraqi police and military and provide support for the Iraqis.

But Iraq isn't over.  Right now the nation, though now a democracy, is at a political stalemate even after over six months after the elections.  And right now it seems like it will be a number more months before this is resolved.  I appreciate that President Obama mentioned former President George W. Bush, but it seems like our President still doesn't want to give him the credit that Bush's military strategy he enacted against popular opinion in 2007 lead to this "victory" (a word that President Obama doesn't like).  Also, I found it interesting that there wasn't a whole lot said about the Iraq War in the Iraq War speech.  The President spoke on Afghanistan, veterans, and many other issues.  I found this odd, but nothing new with the President.

But nonetheless, here is the speech.

And here is a Republican response given by Senator and former Presidential nominee and proponent of President Obama Senator McCain.

The debate over the war is long and much ink has used on every side of the debate.  From the Christian perspective, we must return to the issue of Just War Theory.  The real question is, is preemptive strikes (and in this case war) justifiable?  I will not answer the question here and I'm not sure there is an easy answer.

When it comes to the gospel, our highest priority as Christians, we must be reminded that we live in a fallen, depraved world.  War is a reminder that mankind is dark and we need the gospel desperately.  Certainly evil needs to be defeated, but guns will not resolve the problem of evil.  Only the gospel will.

But when it comes to war, we must allow our elected leaders as ruling authorities to make decisions regarding war.  However, a healthy debate is necessary and should be open (but should be peaceful) in a democratic republic like ours.  This is a war that will probably never have a consensus among Americans and historians as to whether or not we should have invaded.  Thus is the murkiness of a fallen world populated by a fallen mankind.

And just for fun, here is a news video about what Obama has said in the past about Iraq.

Monday, August 30, 2010

To Build or Not to Build, That Is Not the Question: Where is the Gospel in the Ground Zero Mosque Debate?

Its an unavoidable controversy.  Everyone has an opinion and everyone is letting it be known.  What should we do about the Ground Zero Mosque (which is now a politically incorrect phrase)?  Pundits have weighed in.  Politicians have scored their points and taken their stand (even contradicting partisan party lines).  Polls have been taken and Americans everywhere have made their case, including Christians.

Here's the issue.  A controversial imam (which the media refers to as a moderate) is seeking to build a mosque a few blocks from ground zero; the place where thousands of Americans were killed by Islamic radicals.  Many see this as tasteless and a bad idea.  The debate has never been over the Constitutional rights of the mosque, but the "wisdom" (to quote the President) of the placing the building so close to ground zero.  Many have tried to have the mosque moved, bloggers and those against the mosque have dug up video, finances, speeches, books, articles, and coverage of the controversial imam and those behind the building of the mosque.

Others see the mosque as a sign of American freedom.  To them building a mosque so close to where the World Trade Centers once stood perfectly illustrates our greater sense of values than those who knocked the buildings down.  To them, our multicultural-freedom-of-religion-society is showing the terrorists of the world that we are greater than those who perpetuated the crimes and we and our values are unshakable.  We are not at war with Islam, they remind us, but with Al Queda and other terrorists organization.  Therefore, to assume that this mosque (or all mosques) are connected with terrorist is foolish and dangerous.  We are a free and welcome other worldviews and religions to worship and assemble in our country regardless of where they may choose to gather.

And Christians have entered into the debate.  And like always, many if not most have missed the point.

The danger here is to enter the debate as Christian Americans who say more about the political or cultural issues surrounding the debate.  But that is not how Christians ought to think.  It is tempting to enter into the debate as Americans making our faith (and the gospel) a secondary issue.  It is tempting to discuss the wisdom, our freedoms, and what the mosque would symbolize (whether good or bad).  But all of this misses the point.

A good example of this comes from the Huffington Post (anything but a conservative news outlet) in an opinion piece written by Lisa Sharon Harper and endorsed by Emergent leader and author Brian McLaren.  Sharon is writing as a Christian defending the building of the mosque and as a Christian she seeks to defend the mosque project on Christian grounds.

She writes:

As an Evangelical Christian, three pillars of my faith guide my response to this trumped-up controversy: forgiveness rooted in the Cross, the value for Truth, and the call to love our neighbor.

Evangelicals believe in the power of the Cross, the place where Jesus died at the hands of his enemies; the place where Jesus uttered, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do"; the place that makes radical forgiveness possible. Yet the Muslim world did not perpetrate the terrorist acts of 9/11, so there is actually no need to forgive Muslims for 9/11. The fault sits squarely with Al Qaeda, a small terrorist organization. And therein lies is the irony. We have failed to do the lesser thing. Jesus calls us to follow him into forgiveness of our enemy. But forgiveness isn't politically profitable. So we have been led by Evangelical hacks like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to feed on misdirected bitterness rather than follow Jesus' lead

So her standard of belief is centered on forgiveness rooted in the Cross, the value for Truth, and the call to love our neighbor.  As it relates to the cross, Sharon reminds us to forgive those who don't need to be forgiven.  Come again?  Since the Muslim religion didn't kill thousands of Americans by turning commercial flights into missiles they do not need to be forgiven.  Ok.  Got it.  But what does this have to do with the mosque again?

If we take Sharon's understanding of the cross, which misses the purpose and point of the crucifixion, then shouldn't we be forgiving the murderous terrorists who have attacked virtually every nation, language, and race including their own people and own religion and remain our enemies?  And if in order to show our forgiveness, as Jesus showed us on the cross, we must build a mosque, then are we not building a mosque for the wrong people?  To use her line of argument, shouldn't we allow the terrorist to build near our secular holy site? 

But what about Truth?  If forgiveness rooted in the cross is the first pillar of her understanding of city policy and zoning laws, then what does Truth have to do with it?  She explains:

Fear and hysteria are no excuse for muddled language and twisted truths. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life." Thus, to suppress truth is to suppress Jesus himself. Why would Jesus care about truth? Because lies destroy people made in the image of God, thus destroying the image of God on Earth. We would do well to remember that the next time Newt Gingrich rants that building a mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Center is like the Nazis putting a swastika next to the Holocaust Museum. Come on.

So, she goes on to ask, what is the truth?  Sharon quotes Dr. Sarah Sayeed, president of Women in Islam, Inc. and program director for the Interfaith Center of New York (as Sharon describes her) arguing that there is already a mosque four blocks from ground zero and no terrorists have found safe haven there.  Furthermore, the plan for the mosque is for it to be a cultural center built by Muslims hoping to have an interfaith advisory group modeled after the YMCA (the C used to mean "Christian").

That is the Truth, at least to Lisa Sharon Harper.  And remember, Jesus is the way and the Truth.  Other than taking John 14:6 completely out of context (Muslim cultural centers didn't exist then and Jesus clearly isn't talking about buildings inside a city), Sharon offers the typical argument from supporters of the mosque.  The connection between Islamic worship and Islamic cultural center is never made.  No one is debating these things, and yet to Sharon, this is enough evidence to support her "Christian" view.

But then there is the third pillar rooted in her faith: the call to love your neighbor.  Sharon argues:

In light of this truth, to ask this long-established community to relocate is a first step down the long road to ethnic cleansing. It is the antithesis of Jesus' call to love our neighbor.

Ethnic cleansing?  That is strong language over a debate regarding a intercultural center.  I know of no one against the mosque wanting to ethnically cleanse anyone.  And to throw the command to love one's neighbor at this issue seems like a stretch not to mention the more central command: Love God with all your heart, mind, body, soul, and strength.  Let's talk about and our call to love him God first.

Harper's argument is weak on a purely philosophicaly, political, and moral level.  As a fellow "Christian" who watches the news, reads the headlines, and is engaged in cultural debates, Harper puts forth an argument that does not stand up to scrutiny.

But all of this misses the point.  Nowhere in this Christian perspective on the mosque building is the gospel ever mention.  The closest we get to the gospel is forgiveness rooted in the cross and even there the gospel is turned into a progressive, social justice mentality that robs the cross of its purpose.  For all the talk about Jesus, His nature and work are absent in this piece.  Harper says more about politics and politicians (especially by picking on Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck) and her more progressive worldview than the gospel.  Where is the gospel?  If we do not answer that question in everything we say and do then our "point of view" isn't Christian.

But Harper is just one example one could give of a Christian speaking without the gospel..  Go to your local church (and I speak as a pastor of a local church) and ask their opinion on the building.  What will you get?  A similar argument.  Opinions based on bias reporting, political talking points, the threat of terrorism, the audacity of the builders, opinion polls, the imam's "ties" to terror and terrorist, etc.   It is easy to pick on a more public figure like Harper, but the truth is, even the most Reformed, conservative, substitutionary atonement believing Christians have missed the ball on this one.

Where is the gospel?  Is it our priority to fight over building or to fight for souls?  Christians have missed the point that our objective is to save the world from depraved theologies and false gospels like secularism and Islam, not to prevent or push for buildings that fit our political or ideological beliefs.  This does not mean that the issue isn't important, it is.  But to say that our view is Christian and then completely disregard the gospel is far from Christian.

Should the mosque be built?  From a Christian perspective that is the wrong question.  Certainly we can debate it, but let us not neglect the more important issue.  Islam is growing in the West in spite of many's fear of it.  Christianity, at best, is anemic and confused.  We debate politics but refuse to affirm or promote the gospel.  We're materialistic and have greater access to the gospel than ever before and yet our ears are shut and are hands are tied against it.  It is time for Christians to enter the debate as Christians first concerned primarily with the gospel.

What we need at ground zero isn't a building or a growing religion (Christian or Muslim), what we need is a cross.  What we need is an empty tomb.  The historical event of the cross and resurrection reminds us that forgiveness goes beyond a political ploy to see our guys win the latest cultural debate, but a reminder that we have rebelled against God.  Before we can speak of forgiving others, let us talk about the forgiveness we can receive from God leading to full reconciliation brought forth by the cross.  Before we talk about Truth we have gathered from our favorite pundit or news source that fits our preconceived viewpoint, let us talk about the way, the truth, and the life:  Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 isn't political, but gospel.  Jesus is our only hope and no mosque or feel good progressivism will change that.  And don't forget love.  Love your neighbor by pointing him/her to the Father who loved us enough to grant us salvation to all those who believe and repent.

The gospel.  The gospel.  The gospel.  Whether you vote Republican or Democrat; whether you believe in global warming or drive a hummer; whether you think President Barack Obama is the Messiah or the antichrist let us not forget the gospel.  If we do not proclaim the gospel with every breath we take and every word we speak, let us please remove the Christian label from our name.  Christianity begins and ends with the gospel.  Deny or forget that and you have left your first love.

Lisa Sharon Harper (Huffington Post) - Why Christians Should Support the 'Ground Zero Mosque'
Brian McLaren - One more on the Mosque ... Lisa Sharon Harper gets it right 

For more:
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ 

Is What is Natural Moral? Monogamy And What Jealousy Says About Naturalism

It amazes me how we continue to come back to the same theme.  What one believes about origins shapes their entire worldview.  If one embraces a purely naturalistic, anti-supernatural theology of origins (primarily through the lens of evolution) then one has no real foundation for ethics or morality.  If evolution is true, human dignity is an illusion.  Instead, we are mere animals subject to our nature, natural desires, and driven by survival of the fittest.

Normally, and almost exclusively, this theology appears in the realm of sexuality.  But it need not be so.  Taken to its logical end, if we are merely animals, not only can we rationalize any sexual ethic, but we should be able to rationalize any barbaric act including violence, murder, pillaging, greed, and abuse.  After all, if our selfish genes push us towards survival and procreation (thus ensuring our legacy and survival in our offspring) then ethical issues beyond sexuality are up for grabs as well.

But nonetheless, it is the issue of sexuality that continues to come to the forefront.  This goes to show that a driving force behind much of the debate regarding the morality of naturalism is a means to rationalize sexual promiscuity.  Few defend violence and murder (except when it comes to abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, or infanticide), but many fight for sexual liberation.  Evolution has become the foundation by which many are pulling down sexual morals and replacing them with animalistic amorality.  In recent years this aspect of evolutionary "ethics" has applied primarily towards the morality of homosexuality, but now that homosexuality is becoming more common and normal, many are beginning to see how evolution pushes the envelope well beyond same-sex attraction.  At the website, Scientific American, Jesse Bering makes an argument for any and every type of sexual ethic that is shocking, and yet logical.

There’s a strange whiff in the media air, a sort of polyamory chic in which liberally minded journalists, an aggregate mass of antireligious pundits and even scientists themselves have begun encouraging readers and viewers to use evolutionary theory to revisit and revise their sexual attitudes and, more importantly, their behaviors in ways that fit their animal libidos more happily. 

Much of this discussion is being fueled by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jeth's scintillating new book Sex at Dawn, which explores how our modern, God-ridden, puritanical society conflicts with our species’ evolutionary design, a tension making us pathologically ashamed of sex. There are of course many important caveats, but the basic logic is that, because human beings are not naturally monogamous but rather have been explicitly designed by natural selection to seek out ‘extra-pair copulatory partners’—having sex with someone other than your partner or spouse for the replicating sake of one’s mindless genes—then suppressing these deep mammalian instincts is futile and, worse, is an inevitable death knell for an otherwise honest and healthy relationship.

Intellectually, I can get on board with this. If you believe, as I do, that we live in a natural rather than a supernatural world, then there is no inherent, divinely inspired reason to be sexually exclusive to one’s partner

I must stop the quotation there.  The author, at this point, begins to illustrate particular sexual acts that evolution, and by evolution he means that we are just advanced animals, but animals nonetheless, rationalizes.  He describes polyamory, group sex, bondage, and any other sexual lifestyle or act.  He then adds:

But the amoralistic beauty of Darwinian thinking is that it does not—or at least, should not and cannot—prescribe any social behavior, sexual or otherwise, as being the “right” thing to do. Right is irrelevant. There is only what works and what doesn’t work, within context, in biologically adaptive terms. And so even though any good and proper citizen is an evolutionarily informed sexual libertarian, Darwin provides no more insight into a moral reality than, say, Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

And the truth is, in its raw language and shocking suggestions, Bering is exactly right. If evolution is true and there is no God or transcendent morality originating from a creating God, then nothing is wrong.  "Right" is relative.  Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we all die.

Bering seems to want the polyamorous girl to come out in the open and her lifestyle considered normal, not exceptional.  Like homosexuals today, the author wants persons of numerous and various sexual lifestyles to be accepted and embraced.  What we do with our bodies is not wrong in the same way that undomesticated animals are not "sinning" when they mate outside of a monogamous relationship.

Monogamy is quickly becoming the great evil and confusing reality for many secularist pushing this radical (but logical) agenda.  Bering himself compares monogamy to eating the same meal over and over again.  Eventually, you’re going to get some serious cravings for a different dish.*  This is the logic of secularism.  In a world of serial monogamy, multiple marriages, and debates over the definition of marriage, our culture is quickly beginning to ask why we even marry in the first place.  Furthermore, many are beginning to wonder if monogamy itself is unnatural.

The question we have been asking ourselves over a series of posts is:  is what is natural moral?  We have established that the answer is an emphatic no, but unless we break down the evolutionary worldview this is the direction our culture will head and is heading.  We must sadly admit that taken to its logical end, evolution does support and promote a hedonistic sexual lifestyle without any limits.  This is the danger of a secular society built on the foundation of Darwinism.

But the purpose of the article isn't to just make the argument that monogamy is unnatural and polyamory is.  The real purpose is to discuss the evolutionary problem (if I can use the word) of jealousy.  Very few react calmly when they found out that their partner has been cheating on them.  Even the evolutionists that believes monogamy to be unnatural.  Bering admits:

In any event, we may not be a sexually exclusive species, but we do form deep romantic attachments, and the emotional scaffolding on which these attachments are built is extraordinarily sensitive to our partners’ sexual indiscretions. I also say this as a gay man who, according to mainstream evolutionary thinking, shouldn’t be terribly concerned about his partner having sex with strangers. After all, it isn’t as though he’s going to get pregnant and [force] me into raising another man’s offspring. But if you’d explained that to me as I was screaming invectives at one of my partners following my discovery that he was cheating on me, curled up in the fetal position in the corner of my kitchen and rocking myself into self-pitying oblivion, or as I was vomiting my guts out over the toilet for much of the next two weeks, I would have nodded in rational Darwinian ascension while still trembling like a wounded animal.

The last sentence is interesting.  While noting the rationale for his partner's indiscretion under Darwinian evolution, he still would be trembling like a wounded animal in betrayal and heartbreak.  But even the author can't explain why.  After all, didn't the cheating partner just follow his natural instincts? So it seems, then, that it is monogamy may be moral natural than natural than we have been led to believe by the evolutionists.  If jealousy and romantic attachments are the byproducts of romance and relationships, then it can easily be argued that monogamy and life-long commitment are more natural than previously thought.**

We are confronted here with the emptiness of the evolutionary worldview when logically applied to the everyday world.  Evolutionists want us to believe that sex is just a casual encounter between two human animals seeking to preserve their genes in a survival of the fittest world.  But such a world is not the world in which we live.  Sure we all want to indulge the flesh, but that "pesky" problem of heartbreak, disappointment, and jealousy always seems to rear its head.

As I read such words from Bering and others, I am constantly reminded of the power of the gospel.  Only the gospel explains why monogamy makes sense.  We were meant to be in constant communication, fidelity, and relationship with our Creator.  When we broke that relationship, jealousy was His reaction.  This is the beauty of the marriage covenant.  Monogamy is a picture of God's relationship with His people.  Unconditional love between spouses is a picture of God's unconditional love towards us.  Jealousy when we are cheated against pictures the jealousy of God when we chase other gods.  God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:4-5).  The yearning for the love that has strayed pulls us towards monogamy not licentiousness. 

We are confronted, then, with the emptiness of a Darwinian society where all we do is eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.  No transcendent morality and purpose, just food, sex, and death.  The gospel offers the hope that we all crave for whereas Darwinism offers the despair we are all trying to avoid.  Natural morality, then, seems to be more unnatural than appears on the surface.  Humans are more complicated than the rest of the natural world because we are different than they.  To give ourselves over to a godless, animal-like state of mind makes no sense of who we really are.  We have dignity because we, and we alone, were made in the image of our Creator.  We love because our Creator, by definition, is love.  We long for life-long commitments and relationships because our Trinitarian Creator has enjoyed one for eternity.

So, what is natural isn't moral.  Nor is it natural.  And we can thank the gay naturalists for that revelation.

*  It should be added here that the entire quote from the article reads:  My partner once likened this to having the same old meal over and over again, for years on end; eventually you’re going to get some serious cravings for a different dish. But I reminded him that people aren’t the equivalent of a plate of spaghetti. Unfortunately, we have feelings.  So though he argues that the food analogy isn't perfect, the point remains.  Monogamy goes against our natural senses.*

**  Bering goes on to explain the evolutionary reasoning for this paradox.  Jealousy in homosexual couples is an interesting thing. One of the most frequently cited findings in evolutionary psychology is the fact that men tend to become more jealous when their female partners have sex with other men, whereas women are more jealous when their male partners show signs of “emotional infidelity” with other women. This makes good sense from an evolutionary perspective, because prior to the era of DNA testing, men were extremely vulnerable to being [forced into] investing their limited resources in some other guys’ genes (conveniently packaged in the form of children), whereas women, who evolved to rely on their male partner to help them raise their offspring to reproductive age, were at risk of having his attention—and hence his resources—diverted to another woman and her kids.  I'm not sure this quite solves the riddle.  Why raise a child that isn't yours when you could sleep with another woman and raise your child with them?  Or better yet (from a evolutionary point of view) just procreate with multiple women and don't worrying about the "I"m a dad" part.

Scientific American - Polyamory chic, gay jealousy and the evolution of a broken heart  

For more:
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Amoral Sexuality (Part 3)   
Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 1
Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 2
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 3
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 4   
Commentary - The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Commentary - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Court Upholds Life: Federal Funds for Embryonic Stem Cell Research Banned But The War Isn't Over

In a society where judges hold more power than the electorate and the people, it is nice to hear at least one judge make a decision I can get excited about.  Judge Royce Lamberth, a US district judge, issued a preliminary injunction . . . stopping federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research.  You may remember that shortly after taking office, the Obama administration, via executive order, opened the door for tax payer dollars to be used in funding embryonic stem cell research.  

This was a major break from his predecessor George W. Bush.  President Bush allowed research on adult stem cells but not embryonic.  The difference?  Adult stem cells are morally neutral whereas embryonic stem cell research (ESR) is the process of creating life in order to destroy it.  Adult stem cell research (ASR) does not involve the killing of innocent life whereas embryonic ESR is.

It is further argued that ASR has shown much more promise than ESR.  ASR has already shown great progress in battling series diseases like heart disease, Crohn's disease, thalassemia and skin diseases.  ESR, on the other hand, has shown the opposite.  Instead of eliminating diseases, some has suspected that ESR leads to cancerous tumors in patients without a family history of tumors, is oftentimes rejected by patients, and has not shown any real progress in curing diseases.  

Remember the 2004 Presidential campaign between Senator John Kerry and then President George W. Bush?  During the the vice-presidential debate, VP candidate John Edwards promised that if Senator Kerry was elected to office, persons like Christopher Reeves (who was paralyzed) would walk again.  On what basis was such a promise made?  Embryonic Stem Cell Research.  Kerry and Edwards, like so many others, believed that ESR was the future of medicine and within a matter of years cures could be discovered for the many diseases that kill us every year.  A grand promise, but an empty and foolish one at that.

This does not mean that ESR will not cure anything or that it is pointless, but that right now the smart money is on ASR and it does not bring with it the ethical dilemma of destroying life.  ESR may one day cure something or show some promise, but it will always have with it the stigma of its ethical conundrum. 

Pro-life advocates filed the injunction against the Obama administration arguing that the executive order violated the Dickey-Wicker Amendment which bans the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.  In other words, this amendment forbids the government from using tax dollars to create life in order to destroy it.  It is a one of the most important pro-life laws/amendments in the country.

Reuters goes on to report:

Judge Royce Lamberth granted the injunction after finding the lawsuit would likely succeed because the guidelines violated law banning the use of federal funds to destroy human embryos.

"(Embryonic stem cell) research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed," Lamberth wrote in a 15-page ruling. The Obama administration could appeal his decision or try to rewrite the guidelines to comply with U.S. law.

The suit against the National Institutes of Health, backed by some Christian groups opposed to embryo research, argued the NIH policy violated U.S. law and took funds from researchers seeking to work with adult stem cells.

The Judge only said the obvious.  Even the most staunchest of supporters of ESR admit that it is the destruction of an embryo (a life).  If the Dickey-Wicker Amendment bans the use of public dollars in research that destroys human embryos, then certainly this executive order violates the law.  The judge went on to say:

"Having concluded that the Dickey-Wicker Amendment is unambiguous, the question before the Court is whether ESC research is research in which a human embryo is destroyed. The Court concludes that it is," he wrote.

"ESC research is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed. To conduct ESC research, ESCs must be derived from an embryo. The process of deriving ESCs from an embryo results in the destruction of the embryo. Thus, ESC research necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo."

He's right.  As a pro-life Christian, I couldn't be more excited that a federal judge interpreted the law literally and stood against a President that through executive order promoting the destruction of human life.  For once it seems that a federal judge has unheld the law, supported the will of the majority of the people, and stood against a President dead-set on the destruction of millions more dead innocent human lives.

We must admit here that this is a small victory, but a significant one nonetheless.  The Obama administration will do all it can to get around this decision and re-implement this executive order.  ESR has been an important part of the Democratic Party for some years now and we are foolish to think that this fight is over.

At the same time, it is important for Christians to begin to arm themselves with what this issue is about and why we should seriously be concerned about it.  Life is at stake.  There are too many frozen embryos, human lives, sitting on shelves only to likely be destroyed sometime in the future.  In each embryo is life deserving to live.  We Christians must seriously consider more how to deal with these difficult issues.  Certainly embryo adoption is a start, but first we must be armed with the issues themselves.  We know a lot about abortion but are ignorant when it comes to other bioethical issues like ESR.

So for the moment, relax knowing that, at least for now, your hard-earned dollars aren't going to kill innocent life via ESR.  However, already the Obama administration is appealing the decision and I would guess that before his first term is up, some form of the same executive order will be issued again.  It is simply appalling that the Justice Department is now arguing that ESR is an important issue because it is "life-saving researching."  The destruction of millions more lives is far from "life-saving" in my book.  But in a secular culture where God is outlawed from the public arena, more nonsense like this.

So rejoice, but arm yourself.  The fight is not over and may never be.

Reuters - U.S. court rules against Obama's stem cell policy 
Christianity Today - Judge blocks Obama's embryonic stem cell research policy
AFP - Obama to appeal stemcell research ruling  
American Thinker - Judge rules against embryonic stem cell research
First Thoughts - A Brief Primer on Stem Cell Research

For more:
Commentary - The Challenge of Frozen Embryos:  South Korea Undefines Life 
Commentary - "No We Won't":  Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction 

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Its a Human Problem": What the History of Slavery Can Teach About Ourselves

Say what you want about Glenn Beck, but sometimes he hits the nail on the head.  Last week, the radio host and TV personality did a number of shows on Fox News on the issue of racism in American history.  The video that follows is from his show on Fox News opening Beck's historical lesson on America's history of racism, slavery, and segregation.

The story is certainly fascinating.  In the clip below, Beck reveals that slavery began in the system of indentured servitude.  Beck makes the connection between indentured servitude in the opening decades of America and illegal immigration today.  This system was like slavery, but differed in that once one has worked and fulfilled their contract with their "master," they were granted freedom with the right to own property.  They were free.  Furthermore, this system was not based on color (Beck argues that it was based on religion; only non-Christians were indentured servants).

Eventually this system was replaced by slavery.  The first slave owner, surprisingly, was not a white man, but a black man.  However, shortly after we started rolling down this hill, indentured servants based on creed quickly changed to slavery based on race and as a result, whites became the slave owners while blacks became the slaves.  And thus the abominable history of slavery and racism in America began.

The point of this history, as Beck tells it, is to make a point.  If the first slave owner was black, then certainly slavery isn't just a racial problem.  Being that the indentured servant system was based on religion and not on race, then this problem must transcend racism.  Let us not also forget that in the centuries and civilations before America, many slave cultures did not enslave only particular races.  The Romans, for example, enslaved various races, religions, and nations.  In fact, in the ancient Roman system, one could voluntarily (though it was not always this way) become a slave in order to pay off debts.

Slavery is not a racial problem.  It is not a religious problem.  It is not a government problem.  It is not a cultural problem.  It is not a historical problem.  Its not a systemic problem.

It is a human problem.

Glenn Beck, as I said, hits the nail on the head.  For decades now we have been blaming abominable systems like slavery and segregation on race.  Certainly whites were wrong in mistreating their fellow brothers solely based on color.  But it has not always been a racial issue.  Slavery has been around for thousands of years, not because humans are composed of different races, but because we are human.

The history of slavery should remind us of the human condition.  The problem is with our nature, not our politics or philosophy.  The problem is with who we are.  To simply blame the problem on race is to allow reverse racism whereby we demand reparations or excuse our racism on the fact that "our people" were mistreated in the past.  Here again we are camouflaging human depravity under the banner of sin.  Men hate men and seek whatever excuse they can find to justify their hate and animosity.

Slavery is a horrific injustice that should cause us to weep.  But the truth is, human nature is worse.  All of us are born with a nature bent towards hate.  What we need, then, is a new nature.  It is here that Christianity enters the scene.  The gospel of Christ promises to remove the old "heart of stone" with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

This history lesson should open our eyes to other avenues of life.  What really divides us isn't our politics or economics or even our views on ethics and morality.  What divides us and our worldviews/theologies is our understanding of human nature.  To get our understanding of anthropology wrong is to get everything else wrong.  We are by nature bent towards evil and not good (have you ever had to teach a child to be selfish?).  Only when we understand human nature can we understand how it is we can rationalize an evil institution like slavery.

So will our nation ever tolerate another evil and abominable institution like slavery again?  Chances are slavery is out of the picture.  However, understanding our nature as evil suggests that we will make compromises (like our fathers did centuries ago) that will rationalize other acts of evil.  Right now we are defending illegal immigration (what I consider to be American sweatshops) all in the name of cheap labor and products.  We have promoted (and continue to promote) eugenics through abortions.

When everyone is evil, evil is easy to rationalize.  What we need, then, is a good dose of the gospel.  Though I disagree with Glenn Beck on many things (especially on matters of theology), he gets this one right.  Instead of point to one another over our many wrongs in the past and in the present, let us start pointing the finger at us.  We are the problem.  Its a human problem.  And we're all guilty.

For more:
Commentary - The Transcendence of Greed:  What Economics Can Teach Us About the Gospel 
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World 
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel  
Commentary - What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Politics 
Commentary - What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Morality 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is Obama a Muslim?: Are We Asking Oursleves the Wrong Question?

Is President Obama a Muslim?  The political world has been shocked by the recent release of a Pew Research Poll that shows almost 20% of Americans believe that the President of the United States is a Muslim.  In the same poll, however, a full one-third believe that the President is a Christian.  The rest of those polled said that they did not know (43%) what religion the President is while others believe refused to answer the question.

The full poll is available at the bottom of this post.

But there is more to the poll than meets the eye.  What is most interesting about the poll isn't just the results, but that doubts of the Presidents actual proclaimed faith is dwindling while the belief of the faith he says to have rejected is growing.  CNN reports:

While most of those who think Obama is Muslim are Republicans, the number of independents who believe he is Muslim has expanded significantly, from 10 percent last year to 18 percent now.

The number of Americans who express uncertainly about the president's religion, meanwhile, is much larger and has also grown, including among Obama's political base. For instance, fewer than half of Democrats and African-Americans now say that Obama is Christian.

In March 2009, 36 percent of African-Americans said they didn't know what religion Obama practices. Now, 46 percent of African-Americans say they don't know.

But its not just the black community that seems rather confused over the issue, but the beloved independents seem to be changing their minds.  Since the last time the poll was taken (March 2009) the number of independents who believe the President to be Muslim has jumped 8 points.  So this isn't just among Republicans, but increasingly among Americans.

The surprising nature of this poll is understandable especially to those in the beltway.  Even as a casual viewer of such events, I am a little shocked.  Certainly I knew that many considered Obama to be a Muslim, but to make this a national issue is a little surprising.  Did the administration not realize that many felt this way?  Remember the pictures published in the media during the Presidential primaries of the then Senator dressed in Islamic garb (as pictured above)?

But in the campaign, especially in the general election, Obama made his Christian faith more public especially when his particular brand of Christianity came under fire.  Remember Jeremiah Wright?  YouTube made him an enemy of the people and after originally defending his pastor in whom he sat under for 20 years and praised in his books and early interviews, the President was forced to distance himself from the black liberation theology preacher.  Both of Obama's books were best-sellers and in his second memoir, The Audacity of Hope, the President laid out his Christian faith and why he embraced Christianity (and joined Wright's church being baptized into membership there).

This all begs the question then, why is there a growing belief that Obama is a Muslim?  Grant it, the majority of Americans on every side of the aisle believe he is a Christian, but the growing numbers contrary to that are telling.  Certainly Obama's heavy emphasis on reaching out to the Muslim world with an olive branch all the while snubbing traditional Christian events like the National Day of Prayer and the Boys Scouts have played a major part in this perception.  The President traveled to the other end of the world to Cairo, Egypt in order to deliver a speech to the Islamic world but repeatedly seems (at least to many Christians) to ignore or backhand Israel and to play golf on Sunday's.  Furthermore, the President came out in support (kind of) of the Ground Zero Mosque at a kickoff meal for Ramada in a room full of Muslims and has said nothing about the church destroyed by the tragic events of 9/11 being rebuilt in its original location.

What I find most interesting in this story isn't the poll itself, but how the White House has responded to the poll.  Almost immediately the White House announced (via CNN again)

President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life," Deputy White House Communications Director Jen Psaki told CNN. "He prays every day, he seeks a small circle of Christian pastors to give him spiritual advice and counseling, he even receives a daily devotional that he uses each morning. The president's Christian faith is a part of who he is, but not a part of what the public or the media is focused on every day."

What is so interesting about this is how quickly the White House sought to set the record straight regarding the faith of the Obama's.  Perhaps not since Woodrow Wilson has American elected such a secular President as Obama.  He has made it clear that though he claims Christianity as his own, he will not have a public faith nor is he one of those right-wing Christians.

Obama, at least in how he appears, is more secular than Christian.   This doesn't mean that he doesn't believe in Jesus or God, but that his faith is shaped by a secular worldview.  I believe this explains the uncertainty for many Americans as to what the President actually believes.  Yes he says he is a Christian, but its a different kind of Christianity.  And to many Christians, Obama's Christianity is rather foreign.

Obama is very different from his predecessor when it comes to faith.  President George W. Bush was very public and upfront about his faith.  Many books have been written on the subject.  Obama, on the other hand, is a more private person when it comes to his Christianity, but not, I believe, for the same reasons that President Ronald Reagan rarely attended worship services while in office.  Reagan didn't want to be a distraction, but while not attending church, he remained public about his personal faith.  Obama has also said that he doesn't want to distract a worship service, but I don't think that is the real motivation for his lackadaisical attitude towards his faith.  Politics certainly plays a major role in it as he doesn't want to alienate himself from potential voters of other religions (Obama has frequently mentioned those "without faith" in many of his speeches).  No what makes Obama different is his secularism.  He is a secularist before he is a Christian and serves as President more as a secularist than as a Christian.

What is so interesting about the immediate response is how eager the President was to distance himself from the Islamic world he is eagerly trying to reach out too.  Its as if he is saying, "no, I'm not one of them."  One must wonder how the Muslims feel about this almost knee-jerk reaction (which Obama is known to do).

But here is the real crux of the issue.  Why does Obama's faith matter?  As a secularist, Obama should ignore the label of Muslim or Christian.  Obama has been clear that he is not interesting in pushing a Christian agenda or a Islamic agenda, but instead has shown himself to push a secular agenda.  One can debate Obama's own personal theology whether or not it is orthodox, historic Christianity, but his faith is shaped by a secular worldview.  I find it fascinating that the White House even noticed enough to respond to the poll. Obama sees himself as everyman's man and his secularism seeks to show that religion shouldn't shape public policy.

What this event shows us is how closely connected our faith is with our politics.  Obama isn't a Christian in the traditional since, he is a Christian in the secular sense, and he is struggling to separate the two.  A private faith doesn't always stay private especially when you are a such a public figure as the President of the United States.

We are reminded here of the bankruptcy of secularism.  For all of its promise of unification of the different races and religions, our nation's most secular President is failing in his efforts to remain faithful to his own faith all the while uniting the world under the banner of tolerance and secularism.  Secularism doesn't hold the promise we have been fed.  Faith naturally divides and secularism only makes the division deeper.  The American people want to know who their President is and the fact that he has not been vetted as previous Presidents (remember how scrupulous the media was over everything President George W. Bush said and did?) should concern us.  Many Americans, the more they get to know their President find out that they don't really know him after all.

As Americans and as voters it is important to understand what shapes our leaders views and policies.  If they are secular at heart, we can then expect secular policy to follow.  If they are Christian (in the traditional sense) then we can expect more Christian policy and concerns to follow.  If they are Muslim, atheist, agnostic, etc., we can better judge and determine what we will get by voting for a particular candidate.  One's worldview and theology shapes everything about them.  Obama is a secularists Christian who likes Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and Roe vs. Wade's gift of women's rights.

My prediction; the confusion will only increase.  I'm sure the White House will make sure the President does more "Christian" things, but this will not alleviate the confusion.  It takes a gifted politician to hide who he/she really is.  Obama is a secularist and those roots will continue to seep through everyday in the news.

So what are you?  A Christian?  A Muslim.  An atheist.  Or a secular.  Combine two of them is only to confusion what you really are.

Pew Research Center - Growing Number of Americans Say Obama is a Muslim  
CNN -  Only a third of Americans say Obama is Christian; almost one in five say he's Muslim

For more:
Reviews - "The Audacity of Hope"  
Commentary - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama the Messiah? 
Commentary - Politics is Thicker Than Promises:  Lessons Learned From Obama and the Gay Community
Commentary - It Ain't Easy Being the Messiah:  Is Reality Finally Hitting America About the Messianism of Politicians?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Power of the Few Over the Many: Proposition 8, the Supreme Court, and Judicial Fiat

Its been two weeks but the sting of what took place via the falling of a gavel in California remains with us.  One person overruled the democratic process and vote of millions of Californians and perhaps of millions more American people.  Its been two weeks, but the effects of this one man's ruling will remain with us perhaps forever.  Just as a Supreme Court decision of 1973, Roe vs. Wade, has continued to divide Americans today, so too, U. S. District Judge Vaughn  R. Walker made have only made the divide worse.

For those who live under ground, on August 4, 2010, Judge Walker struck down the ballot initiative passed by the people of California adding a definition of marriage as being between only one man and one woman.  The judge ruled against the vote and thus stands against 52% of Californians who voted in favor of passing Proposition 8.  As a result, homosexuality will likely become legal in California once it is passed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.  And, once again, we should note that homosexuality is only made legal against the will of the people.  Nowhere is gay marriage legal as a result of democracy, but only exclusively through judicial fiat.

There are a number of things about this ruling that could be discussed and much has been discussed.  For example, the judge made moral arguments instead of exclusively judicial argument.  Read the ruling and there is a lot of subjective "evidence" the judge sites from the gay community.  On page 95, the Judge wrote, The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether the individual can be a good parent… Children do not need to be raised by a male parent and a female parent to be well-adjusted.

In addition, the judge bought the sexual orientation argument that is still without any scientific proof.  There is no gay gene and homosexuals are not gay apart from choice.  This does not mean that other factors are not involved or that every gay individual can remember the day they woke up and were gay, but scientifically and biologically, there is no evidence of a gay gene.  The sexual orientation case is raised to make a civil rights argument against the moral arguments of detractors.

Also, Judge Walker's argument can equally apply to polygamy or other sexual lifestyles.  The judge failed to clearly define marriage as being only between two people (regardless of genders) and instead opened the door for other definitions.  Though it seems far fetched now, look for polygamy supporters in the future to turn to this ruling as a precedent for why their sexual lifestyle should be legalized.

Furthermore, though we were assured that it wasn't that big of a deal, the Judge's own sexuality may have influenced his ruling.  Judge Walker is himself gay.  Is it a mere coincidence that this case was tried in San Fransisco (a very very liberal city) and the judge was a homosexual himself that Proposition 8 was overruled.  One could easily see the writing on the wall before the decision was handed down.

Perhaps most dangerously, the judge argued on page 101 that Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.  This sets a dangerous precedent. This is one step away from banning persons from speaking against the morality of homosexuality via hate crimes and hate speech laws.

Denny Burk summarized this decision as:

Anyone who thinks they don’t have a stake in this case is burying their head in the sand. Massive social change is afoot, and the ground is moving beneath our feet. This judge declares that “religious beliefs” are no rational basis for law, that fathers or mothers are expendable in child-rearing, that the elected will of the majority of voters is irrelevant, and that homosexuals are a protected class. These statements represent nothing less than a legal and societal revolution. The implications of this decision—if upheld by the Supreme Court—are far-reaching, and I am concerned that many Americans are not paying attention to what could become the most significant legal decision of their lifetimes.

Each of these subjects (and more could be added) deserve greater attention, but that is not our focus now.  What Christians must realize is where this ruling will lead.  The decision was going to be repealed regardless of the decision, but if Judge Walker had sighted with the voice of the people (of which he claimed on page 116, the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant) it would have been a resounding victory.  However, a precedent and an argument has been set and unless repealed, his decision wills stand.

The next step is to go to the 9th Circuit of Appeals which is infamous for its liberal decisions and no defender of traditional marriage is holding their breadth.  We can almost assume that Judge Walker's ruling will be upheld at the 9th Circuit.  From there the case will go to the Supreme Court and regardless of the 9th Court of Appeals decision, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court and many expect the nation's highest court to take the case and begin debate.

This may take years, but the smart money is on this taking place.  My concern regarding all of this is that if the Supreme Court sides with Judge Walker then homosexual marriage will be legalized overriding the other 45 states who have defend marriage as being between one man and one woman.  In other words, 9 judges in Washington DC will likely have the power to decide the laws of the far majority of the states and the American people who have decided against gay marriage.

That's real power.

This will be a 5-4 decision on the part of the Supreme Court.  This means that one persons swing vote will decide the votes of millions of Americans.

This is dangerous.  Just as Roe vs. Wade overturned and overrode the convictions of the majority of Americans, so too the Supreme Court, if they uphold Judge Walker's decision, can decide law apart from the legislative process.  This is judicial tyranny and power unintended by the Founding Father's. 

I find it interesting that the judge in Massachusetts considered this debate a state's issue (see my commentary on that) and yet the Supreme Court will have the power to overturn the rights of those states.  I find it hard to believe that the Founder's intended on the Supreme Court to deal with the issue of gay marriage and that the writers of the 14th Amendment intended on it apply to homosexuality.

I fear that we are headed towards the worse.  Expect the media to follow this case closely especially once it reaches the Supreme Court.  If this becomes the law of the land, Christians must be prepared to become an enemy of the state whereby our personal, gospel-centered convictions will become illegal.  As a pastor, I am especially at danger as a sermon or a ministry stance can easily be considered hate speech and deserving of a major fine or even jail.  This sounds impossible now, but Judge Walker has already made the argument in California.

Our future looks uncertain at this point.  The power of a few over the many stands against everything this nation stands for.  The people no longer have power over their laws.  Instead, authority and power has been handed to an elite few dressed in black robes.  We have good reason to pray.  The fight over this issue will only becoming increasingly more difficult.  We must not lose all hope and we must not stop fighting.  The war is not over.  The battle has only begun.

For more:
U.S. District Court Decision: Perry v. Schwarzenegger 
Denny Burk - The End of Prop 8: A Moral and Legal Revolution 
Albert Mohler - A Gavel Falls on Marriage: The Proposition 8 Decision  
Commentary - Deja Vu All Over Again:  Prop 8 Goes to Trial and What That Could Mean for the Rest of America  
Commentary - Is This a Fight Homosexuals Want to Have?:  Massachusetts and the 10th Amendment   

Is What is Natural Moral?: The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Sexual Amorality

One of the many accusations made against conservatives and Christians especially is that they want to return us to the dark ages.  You know, the age when women had no rights and lived as homemakers, men were the headed of the house, society was patriarchal, and everybody was force to "convert" to Christianity.  Of course this argument is a straw man and has no merit.  No legitimate Christian or conservative seeks to do such a thing, but that doesn't keep the argument from being made.

But the truth is, taken from an evolutionary worldview (especially when it comes to sexual ethics) secularism seeks to take human back, not to the Dark Ages, but to the age of cave men.  Evolutionists seek to move us morally forward by pushing us morally backwards.  When we were an evolutionary species stuck somewhere between the chimpanzees and the domestic farmers, we were free without any moral restraint.  There was no such thing as private property, and each community survived by mutual sharing and working.

This includes sexuality.  Before we were farmers (and I am speaking as if I believed in evolution) we were nomads, hunters, and gatherers.  No private property meant that every person of a village (if we can call it that) had equal assess to the same food, land, clothes, and yes, mates.  In an age prior to morality, all was open and sexuality was born of out natural instincts.

That is the argument put forward in a recent CNN article by Christopher Ryan entitled Monogamy unnatural for our sexy species. The article begins with:

Seismic cultural shifts about 10,000 years ago rendered the true story of human sexuality so subversive and threatening that for centuries, it has been silenced by religious authorities, pathologized by physicians, studiously ignored by scientists and covered up by moralizing therapists.

Ryan, already, points us to 10,000 years ago but as he continues he is certainly putting us much farther back in time.  It would seem, as the article unfolds, that the writer sees the golden age not in the recent past, but in a distant age.

Ryan begins his attack against monogamy as something that is unnatural and virtually impossible.  He is particularly concerned with marriage.  He argues:

Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work. 

Few mainstream therapists would contemplate trying to persuade a gay man or lesbian to "grow up, get real, and stop being gay." But most insist that long-term sexual monogamy is "normal," while the curiosity and novelty-seeking inherent in human sexuality are signs of pathology. Thus, couples are led to believe that waning sexual passion in enduring marriages or sexual interest in anyone but their partner portend a failed relationship, when in reality these things often signify nothing more than that we are Homo sapiens.

This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.

The argument is clear.  Monogamy is not only unnatural, but it is un-evolutionary.  For millions of years our species throughout its various evolutionary stages has lived outside of monogamy and outside of heterosexual monogamy.

In the old days, we shared everything including our sexual partners.

Most foragers divide and distribute meat equitably, breast-feed one another's babies, have little or no privacy from one another, and depend upon each other every day for survival. Although our social world revolves around private property and individual responsibility, theirs spins toward interrelation and mutual dependence. This might sound like New Age idealism, but it's no more noble a system than any other insurance pool. Compulsory sharing is simply the best way to distribute risk to everyone's benefit in a foraging context. Pragmatic? Yes. Noble? Hardly.

Ryan seems to be suggesting that what is really natural and what should be normal is not monogomy (homosexually or heterosexually), but unlimited polyamory whereby everybody is free and encouraged to have multiple partners apart from the strings of jealousy and "love" so often associated with sexual partners and marriage.  After all, isn't this what the evidence tells us?

Our bodies, minds and sexual habits all reflect a highly sexual primate. Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago, about 5 percent of anatomically modern humans' existence on Earth. 

The two primate species closest to us lend strong -- if blush-inducing -- support to this vision. Ovulating female chimps have intercourse dozens of times per day, with most or all of the willing males, and bonobos famously enjoy frequent group sex that leaves everyone relaxed and conflict-free.

Why can't we all be like the monkey's of Africa?  There, the bonobos and other highly sexual primates are open and free in their sexuality and as a result they left relaxed and conflict-free.  So what does Ryan want us to do, act like chimpanzees?

The problem with this line of argument is that what Ryan wants is for us to be sexually animialistic in areas he has predetermined.  Certainly he doesn't want women who eat their male partner who impregnates them like praying mantis do does he?  Here, the naturalists would say that we are not descendents of praying mantis, but the point remains, does he really want us to do everything that primates do sexually?  Do evolutionists making this argument not realize that the effort to return to this sexually free golden age has been tried multiple times and has failed miserably? 

Remember the 1960's?  Many groups sought this egalitarian society reminiscent of the primate society described by Ryan in this article and those groups failed.  It is difficult to share sexually and materialistically because humans are naturally jealous and selfish.  I do not want to share my wife.  She is mine and no one else's.  Regardless of how hard we try, human nature will always comes through.  Sexually open societies always return to jealousy, violence, and division instead of the Utopian world that is painted here by the evolutionists.

And let us not forget what Ryan is really saying here.  Ryan is arguing that it would be better to be a primate than to be a human.  So it would seem that if evolution is to go forward, then we should hope that we would remove moral restraints (especially when it comes to sex) and be more like our primate ancestors than our human counterparts.  This means that for them, a bright future is not the advancing of humans as moral agents, but of humans as animal agents free of moral restraints.

But is he really saying that we are nothing more than primates?  Ryan writes:

But we are, in fact. Homo sapiens is one of four African great apes, along with chimps, bonobos and gorillas. 
"OK, but we have the power to choose how to live," comes the reply. This is true. Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives. But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you've chosen to be vegan, it's utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.

So once again, what is natural is moral from an evolutionary worldview.  In spite of the huge moral and logical fallacies, Ryan is making an argument that should be adopted by everyone with a worldview.  If we are animals, and Ryan correctly makes the connection of what evolution implies, then we should live as animals free from moral restraints.

The many problems with this begins with the fact that it is unnatural for humans to think in these terms.  My dog poops in the yard and I say nothing all the while I am trying to potty train my son.  My son is different than my dog.  It is naturally for animals to hunt and kill one another, but I will not tolerate that of any human.  Cannibalism is rightly outlawed and shunned.  This means that if what is natural is moral, then Ryan should at least admit that for us advanced primates, it sure is difficult -- dare we say unnatural -- for us to think of ourselves as mere animals.  Isn't the fact that we are having this conversation and they aren't reason enough to separate us from them?

Furthermore, what Ryan suggests, and many evolutionists hold, is for us to return to the golden age of amoral sexual indulgences of 10,000 years ago.  However, I am sure that Ryan is unwilling to concede to the other immoral and amoral lives that primates continue to live.  We condemn murder (except when they are still in the womb of course), but most wild animals thrive in killing other species including their own competitors. 

Ryan, then is making a moral argument in the middle of his amoral argument.  He wants sexual freedom, but he doesn't want complete moral liberation.  He is proving the difference between the human race and the animal kingdom.  Animals never contemplate the dichotomy of sexual liberation and yet moral restraint in other areas.  They are enslaved to their instincts, but we make moral choices.  What Ryan offers is a selective slavery.  He wants sexual freedom, but I doubt he would welcome becoming food for someone else.

So we must ask ourselves a question.  Do we want to go forward or go back -- way back.  To go forward means to continue adopt morality as legitimate and necessary for society to survive.  Or we can go back to a bygone age where morality was an unthought allusion whereby we shared everything and did whatever was necessary for personal survival.  Evolution wants to take us back.  The gospel moves us forward.

Christopher Ryan (CNN) - Monogamy unnatural for our sexy species 
The Point Blog - Monogamy is so 8,000 BC  

For more:
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2) 
Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 1
Commentary - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 2
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 3
Commentary - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 4   
Commentary - The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Commentary - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eugenics in the Present Tense: The Reality of Eugenics in the World Today - Part 3

It is a hard pill to swallow, but eugenics, even decades after Adolf Hitler condoned and practiced it, remains alive and well today.  In two previous posts, we looked at how eugenics is being practiced through abortion clinics and especially in how they are connected with racism; a common eugenics tag.  Now we must look at how our eugenic worldview is affecting the rest of the world.

When it comes to eugenics, there are three groups who are always in the cross-hairs.  The first are the handicap.  Suggesting that quality of life is more important than life itself (not to mention our limited resources) eugenicists (though they wouldn't call themselves that) encourage parents to be pregnant with Down Syndrome babies to abort the pregnancy and save themselves and society the trouble of raising such a dependent life.

The second group are particular races the eugenicists label as unworthy of life. In our society, it has always been blacks and now it includes Latinos and other racial minorities.  We see this in America in that Planned Parenthood abortion clinics are to be found near racial minority neighborhoods and a much larger percentage of racial minority pregnancies end in abortion than white pregnancies.  The statistics and motivations don't lie.

The third group is the poor.  Oftentimes it is connected with the racism aspect of it and Planned Parenthood is following that model.  It is setting its centers in poor black neighborhoods.  The reason is because of the theory that if we prevent the poor from reproducing then we won't have as many mouths to feed through government programs like welfare and food stamps.

This is a hard pill to swallow but it is true.  Prior to his inauguration to his first term as President, former President Bill Clinton received the following letter from Ron Weddingtong, the layer that represented "Roe" in the infamous Roe vs. Wade case that legalized abortion throughout America.  He suggested increased abortions particularly among the poor in order to save the federal government money.  He wrote:

And, having convinced the poor that they can’t get out of poverty when they have all those extra mouths to feed, you will have to provide the means to prevent the extra mouths, because abstinence doesn’t work . . . It’s time to officially recognize that people are going to have sex and what we need to do as a nation is prevent as much disease and as many poor babies as possible . . . No, government is also going to have to provide vasectomies, tubal ligations and abortions . . . RU 486 and conventional abortions.  Even if we make birth control as ubiquitous as sneakers and junk food, there will still be unplanned pregnancies.  There have been about 30 million abortions in this country since Roe v. Wade.  Think of all the poverty, crime and misery . . . and then add 30 million unwanted babies to the scenario.   

Clearly the abortion lawyer and defender sees the connection between abortion and the poor.  But did you notice that little pill mentioned in the above quote (and this is just a small portion of what Weddington wrote to the President-elect)?  RU 486 is the abortion pill that causes a miscarriage in pregnant women.  To supporters, it is argued that this offers the mother a private abortion free from embarrassment and surgical procedures

But the truth is, the RU 486 pill has become the favorite option in helping the world remove poverty from its face.  In an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof discusses what he calls the pill (both the mifepristone and the misoprostol pill) that will lead to a reproductive revolution (as if we haven't already had one).  The reasoning is many-fold. One reason is that the pill is hard to ban.  Not only is it cheap (about a $1 a pill), but easy to smuggle in.  Furthermore, this pill is also used to help women who are hemorrhaging.  This means that the pill is a medical device for the health of a woman that goes beyond abortion.  It isn't just an abortion pill, though it is certainly that.

Furthermore, the pill gives the appearance of a miscarriage instead of an abortion.  This means that in countries where abortion remains illegal, a woman can take the pill and convince the doctors that she is just having complications thus having the hospital participate in the abortion without their knowing it.

The dangers of such "medical abortions" are well documented.  At the top of that list is determining when it is safe and unsafe to go through such an abortion.  In the United States, one cannot take the pill after 9 weeks, while in Britain it is 24 weeks.  Doctors and scientists do not know where the cut off is thus opening the door to abuse and medical danger for the unborn and the mothers.

But one of the things that Kristof highlights in his op-ed piece is the growing popularity of the pill in poorer countries and among the poor worldwide.  This sticks out.  Near the beginning of the article, the author notes:

That seems possible, for these pills are beginning to revolutionize abortion around the world, especially in poor countries. One result may be tens of thousands of women’s lives saved each year.

 Interesting how such a pill magically shows up in poor countries who have major poverty problems.  The eugenic belief is that if you eliminate the poor, society will be better off.  This will free up the education system from students unable and unwilling to learn.  The State saves money by not having to educate or feed them.

We shouldn't be surprised by this.  For years we have heard people discuss how many poor women and couples should considering aborting "unwanted pregnancies."  Where abortion is most encouraged and most common practiced is among poor women and couples pressured that if they don't their child will suffer.

The poor are under attack in America and around the world by pro-abortion proponents.  Seeing that the poor are only emptying the national treasure, they lobby for parents stuck in the trap of poverty to eliminate their unwanted child less they add to the burden of society.

One can only imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ lived in such a culture.  In the eyes of many, Jesus was an illegitimate child born to a teenage mother who did not ask to get pregnant.  The adoptive father worked as a carpenter and likely had some struggles putting food on the table.  And yet the family persevered because life was worth it.  Just as Jesus' birth fit well within the providential plan of God, so too the children of the poor fit well within the providential plan of God.

Eugenics is alive and well and it is time for Americans to wake up to the fact.  The poor are under attack.  Instead of offering hope for those stuck in the cycle of poverty, we are offering them relief through murder.  Instead of offering better paying jobs and policies that encourage economic growth and opportunities for all citizens, we just offer death.

In the Utopian world of eugenics, the spilling of enough blood will create a world only imaginable in our dreams.  And so long as we continue to see children as a burden, those dreams will remain in our sleep.

Nicholas Kristof - Another Pill That Could Cause a Revolution  

For more:
FRC Blog - Kristof’s Misguided, Blithe Endorsement of Misoprostol Abortions 
Commentary - Eugenics in the Present Tense: Eugenics in America Today - Part 1
Commentary - Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 2
Commentary - Abortion Reduction:  The Danger of Compromising on Life
Commentary - Abortion: Is Common Ground Possible?   
Commentary - The Follow of Abortion Reduction: A Lesson in Common Sense
Commentary - Social Conservatives Take Heed: 100 Days of Change
Commentary - The Slavery of the Unborn: Why Abortion Reduction is Not Pro-Life
Commentary - From Life to Choice to Economics: A New President and a Change in the Debate Over Life
Commentary - Colson: The March of Death
Commentary - "No We Won't": Obama and the Lie of Abortion Reduction

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Confusion Continues: Spain Increases Abortion Rights And Bans Bullighting

One of the interesting things about cultural analysis from a Christian perspective is the absolute moral confusion of the culture especially when it comes to life.  We've seen this already and it seems like everyday provides us with more evidence of the utter nonsense of moral secularism.  Recall the problem with turtles during the BP Oil Disaster who were being burned alive as the oil giant was trying to limit the spill and keeping it from reaching the beaches and shores.  Many animal rights activists were preparing to sue BP over the lost of the sea turtles who are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The idea was that for every sea turtle documented to have been killed, BP could be fined $25,000-$50,000.

As if the $20 billion dollars they agreed to help the families affected by the spill wasn't enough!

Recall also the dog fighting ring that landed then-quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons Michael Vick.  There was a right vehemence against the star quarterback and surprise that anyone would treat man's best friend in that way:  torture, starvation, and death.  It was certainly barbaric.

The irony of these and other examples is that when it comes to animals, we rightly seek to defend the born and unborn from murder or torture.  And yet, when it comes to unborn humans, we rationalize the murder of the child in the name of choice even in the barbaric acts.

Now Spain has entered yet another example of moral confusion.  Recently Spain passed a more liberalized abortion law that will inevitably increase the number of murdered unborn babies.  We shouldn't be surprised by this as Spain stands as one of the most liberal and secular countries in the world.  And yet, while passing a more liberal abortion law, the regional government of Catalonia has banned bull fighting going into affect in 2012.

So, let us get this straight:  kill more children, harm less bulls.  Am I right?

The irony of this has not been lost by many pro-lifers in the West including many in Spain itself.  It is fascinating to watch how secularism fights for the right of animals, including unborn animals (thus why the eggs of turtles were being "rescued" in Louisiana during the oil spill), and yet denies unborn humans the right to life.

Only secularism can explain this sort of hypocrisy.  Whenever we undermine the doctrine of God and reject God's role in determining morality and law, this is the sort of nonsense that becomes normal in a culture.  Without any moral compass, society is left determining morality, ethics, and law out of a straw hat.

We are reminded once again of the necessity of applying the gospel to culture and morality.  Without the gospel we are left with this sort of lunacy, but with the gospel we not only seek to defend animals from torture and unwarranted death and at the same time protect the lives of millions of unborn children who are being slaughtered in the name of choice and unwantedness each year.

How secularists defend such irony is beyond me* but we shouldn't be surprised by this.  The philosophical/theological assumptions that shape secularism naturally lead to such conclusions.  As Christians we must not be surprised that a depraved culture can be so eggheaded.  The belief that we're just animals certainly is behind such nonsense while the understanding of sanctity of human life remains foreign.  Let us then continue to proclaim the gospel that Jesus Christ came to offer us life and if He sacrificed all for us then human life are worth fighting for.  And at the same time, let us agree to work hard to return us to some common sense.  Something the secular left forgot long ago.

*Certainly secularists would argue that they aren't denying anyone any rights, thus emphasizing the rights of the mother.  However, one cannot deny that Western governments have done more to defend the lives of animals than they have the lives of unborn humans.

First Things - Spain Protects Bulls, But Not Babies 
LifeSite News - Ban Bullfighting but Kill Babies?: Spain’s New Moral Values Criticized by Pro-Life Leader 

For more:
Commentary - Are Sea Turtles Pro-Life:  Abortion, Animal Rights, and Our Confused Moral Compass

Monday, August 9, 2010

"When You Bring Your Baby Home": Infantice and Arbitrary Definitions of Life

To redefine anything is an exercise in confusion especially when political correctness is involved.  Take homosexual marriage for example.  The problem with redefining marriage to include gay couples is how limiting (in our tolerant age) marriage to just homosexual and heterosexual couples.  The problem with a depraved culture trying to redefine anything is that such definitions are arbitrary, obscure, and pulled out of a straw.

This is certainly true when it comes to redefining the rights of a human being from coneption to a later time.  Pro-abortion proponents and even the law of the land says that a child does not receive the rights of life until they are completely out of the mother's wound.  That means that if a small portion of the child is still inside the mother, then by law, the mother can have the child aborted.

Recall the story a few years ago where a mother gave birth to her child in her home and then proceeded to murder her offspring.  She was let off the hook because since the child was still attached to the umbilical cord, the law considered the baby still part of the woman's body.  Fortunately, the law has been changed.  But it goes to show how arbitrary and heinous such definitions of life and rights really are.

The foolishness of granting rights to a child at birth and not at conception goes against common sense.  If a woman, for example, who is pregnant at 6 months and is hit by a drunk driver and both the child and the mother are killed, the drunk driver is charged with double homicide.  However, if that same mother had driven to an abortion clinic still at 6 months, she would have been exercising her rights as a woman to choose what to do with her "body."  The double standard is apparent and foolish.

Once again, redefining the meaning of life is arbitrary and open for redefinition.

One final recent example that has come to the forefront is particularly insightful.  In a recent debate from several years ago caught on C-SPAN between former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer regarding the definition of life and partial birth abortion.  Columnist George Will has offered the best discussion on the recently released video on youtube, but perhaps more could be added here.

Partial-birth abortion, as the name suggests, is the process of aborting a child while it has only been partially removed from the woman's body.  In partial-birth abortions, the child is only partially removed in order for the "doctor" to suck out the babies brains forcing it to go limp so that it can then be removed and thrown into a waste basket.  This is a barbaric form of murder and it is a shame that we "civilized" people consider it ok.

Senator Boxer defends the act as necessary.  Former Senator Santorum makes a number of important points while on the Senate floor.  Against the common argument that partial-birth abortion is an emergency procedure, the former Senator points out that if it is an emergency, why does it take 3 days for the procedure to take place?

Furthermore, the former Senator points out that the issue is more like infanticide than abortion.  During the exchange, this became very clear:

Santorum:  “You agree, once a child is born, is separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed? Do you agree with that?

Boxer:  “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”

Sanatorum:  “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights . . . Obviously, you don’t mean they have to take the baby out of the hospital for it to be protected by the Constitution. Once the baby is separated from the mother, you would agree—completely separated from the mother—you would agree that the baby is entitled to constitutional protection?”

Boxer:  “I don’t want to engage in this.”

When you bring your baby home then it has all the rights of an American citizen?  Boxer has since said that her words were taken out of context, but the video speaks for itself.

Santorum's argument in this exchange between the two senators is a point that we need to take note of.  If we arbitrarily define life some time after conception, we are hard pressed to find a reasonable argument as to why life begins at the moment we decide.  Therefore, the former Senator rightly contends, we are on a slippery slope towards infanticide.  Can any of us really deny this reality?

The argument isn't that we all defend infanticide and that Senator Boxer is arguing in favor of it, but that take to its logical conclusion, the arbitrary argument that life begins when the child is completely born naturally leads to the arbitrary definition of life and rights even after it has exited the woman's body and is breathing on its own.  It is not a surprise that infanticide supporters like Peter Singer are so popular in America right now.

This is a reality that Christians must face.  If our culture continues down the path of arbitrary laws and definitions of life, then we will continue to rationalize more barbaric procedures and acts of violence against our own citizens.  Already euthanasia is legal in several states.  Euthanasia is the natural result of decades of legalized abortion.  After all, if we an kill at the beginning of life, why not at the end?  Now what we are seeing is perhaps the right of life determined by a third party and not the breathing child herself.

These are dark days that we live in.  Until we recover the rational argument that life begins at conception and thus deserves the full rights of any citizen conceived in America, we will continue to fall down this slippery slope.  The barbarism of our culture in the name of "choice" and "health" is about to get much worse.

George Will - Barbara Boxer in Context  
Denny Burk - Slightly Modified Infanticide