Thursday, July 29, 2010

Doomed to Repeat: Lessons We Must Learn Again - Part 2

History is important but too often ignored.  Studying the history of one's nation, its many mistakes and triumphs, is equally important.  Why repeat the mistakes of the past?  And yet it seems that our nation repeatedly returns to the many mistakes of the past.  Progressivism, statism, secularism, and socialism are among those many mistakes.  Not to sound partisan, but it seems that we are using an economic crisis as a means by which to undermine freedom and our nations' principles.

I have no problem with differing political views.  My problem is the repeating of the mistakes of the past.  If the New Deal failed, why try a New New Deal?  If the statist policies of Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter failed, then why repeat them?  And yet we are.  History is a great predictor.  By knowing the past we can ascertain certain things about the future.

Consider the following documentary from Glenn Beck and company (yes, that Glenn Beck).  Say what you want about Glenn Beck, but the following 30 minute documentary demands our attention.  If he is right (and I fear he is) America is headed towards disaster.  I rarely speak this candidly about political issues, but I find this timely and important.  Let us not miss this.

If the video doesn't work, click here.

For more:
Commentary - Doomed to Repeat: Lessons We Must Learn Again - Part 1
Commentary - God and the Pledge:  A History and Its Affects
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel
Commentary - Who Isn't One?:  McLaren and Social Christians  
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government? 
Commentary - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama Really the Messiah?
Shortblog - Where are they Now?:  Glenn Beck on Radicals and the Weather Underground 

The above video was taken from The Right Scoop Website. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Criminal Parents and Aborted Children: Is Rape and Incest Moral Reasons to Abort

Is aborting an unborn child conceived from rape or incest moral?  The issue is often raised differently and usually in the morally obvious sense.  Many pro-lifers defend abortion only in the cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.  But are issues of rape and incest moral reasons to justify abortion.

The issue has recently been raised (again) in regards to the massive health care overhaul the President signed into law.  The World Magazine blog points out:

After pro-life advocates pointed out that publicly funded health insurance in New Mexico and Pennsylvania could cover abortion, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the programs would not cover abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

My concern here is not regarding the ongoing debate and developments over the 2,000 page health care law in which few have read and even fewer have understood.  The health care law will continue to be opposed and debated even after all of it is put into place in 2014.  Instead, my concern is over the morality of aborting babies conceived as the result of rape and incest.

Let us refrain the question.  For pro-lifers and Christians in particular, let us remind ourselves that regardless of how one is conceived, life is life and thus bear the image of God.  Is our understanding of God's image determined by the way in which one is conceived or in the very fact that life has been conceived?  In other words, are there some today in whom do not bear the image of God and thus do not bear the sanctity of life?  Are all who are conceived bear God's image and thus deserving the same and equal rights of everyone else, or are there some (based on the way in which they were conceived) undeserving of God's image and human rights?

I find it fascinating that many in our culture, including pro-life Christians, have bought into the idea that abortion is legitimate if the child is conceived in rape or incest.  We are quick to defend the handicap from being abortion but quickly ignore the illegitimate sons of criminals.  Is that a consistent worldview?  If we believe that all life is sacred - all life - then how can we either rationalize or ignore the sacredness of even those conceived in unfortunate and criminal circumstances.

We must ask other questions in such circumstances.  Why should we punish a child, free of any guilt, for a crime and sin committed by one or both of their parents?  What did they do to deserve such punishment outside of being conceived?  Is it not unjust to punish the innocent.  If so, then to abort a pregnancy that is the result of such a shameful and cowardly crime as rape or incest is unjust and wrong.  To do so what make the innocent guilty of the crime committed by the criminal himself.

Furthermore, we must ask if God somehow is absent from the conception of the child?  To abort a child who is the offspring of a rapist is to assume that in this tragic crime, God somehow made a mistake and does not want the child to be born.  Abortion, we are reminded here, is a God issue.  If God is creator, then to remove life is to seek to remove God from His throne (see Genesis 9).  A firm belief in the soveriegnty and providence of God (not to mention a belief in the Fatherhood of God, his nearness, and Him as Creator among other essential theology proper doctrines) forces us to admit that even in the tragic circumstances of rape and incest, God still has His purposes and plans for that child.

Unfortunate conceptions and births are not mistakes by God.  I am reminded of the healing of the blind man in John 9.  The first three verses says:

As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?"  Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

In an interesting discourse between Jesus and His disciples, we are confronted with the fact that the man's blindness - or handicap - is the result of God's will and nothing else.  Certainly sinful actions can lead to handicaps, but in this case we see a handicap is for the purpose of God's glory.  This man was born blind so that God might be glorifed.  And He was.  God's purpose was realized.

Think of other children born in unfortunate and unwanted circumstances in Scripture.  I think of Ishmael who was despised by Sarai who sent them away in jealousy.  And let us not forget the judge Jephthah who was conceived through prostitution (Judges 11:1) and yet was used by God.

The point should be clear.  How one is conceived does not matter.  Life is precious and we should never punish a child over the sins of their parents and at the same time, let us be reminded that God is still in control.  We should weep for sin and crime, but we should never weep or regret life.  Let us not forget this one last point as well.  There are many among us right now who are the offspring of criminals.  Do you have the boldness to tell them that they should have never been born?  One's conception should not limit them from life. the right to life, nor does it limit or eliminate them as image bearers of God.

This, at first, seems like a difficult issue.  Unfortunately many today find themselves busy fighting the general abortion battle and ignore the more controversial issues like this.  Life is life and all life deserves to be lived regardless of how they are conceived.  If we are pro-life, then let us embrace the full message of being pro-life.

World Magazine Blog - Pro-life advocates win a round in healthcare overhaul 

For more:
Commentary - The Politics of Cowardice:  Health Care Passes
Commentary - Some Life Not Worth the Investment:  The Dangers of the Health Care Bill

Sunday, July 25, 2010

They Are Who We Thought They Were: The Empty Case Against Religion By the Daily Kos

Organized religion should be dead.  However, religion should remain a personal conviction.  At the same time, there is no God and only fools believe in one (or many).  But feel free to believe in him, after all, I'm not one to force my beliefs on someone else.  That's the argument put forth in a recent ultra-liberal Daily Kos blog by Blue Moon (whoever that is) in their article Time to begin working for the death of religion (a rant).  In it we find the confused mind of a liberal who has become so politically ideological that all common sense and rationality have been lost. 

The article begins with these two paragraphs:

I know everyone has the right to their opinion...  I do. The right to free speech is a constitutional guarantee and I cannot and will not oppose that.

However, the time has come to begin work to actively disrupt official organized religion of all stripes. Yes, I know there are many good christians. But when I hear of another moral pronouncement coming out of the Roman Catholic church, I am ready to splutter.

You can see what I mean by confusion and irrationality.  Beyond the bad grammar and spelling (Christians should be capitalized) the argument put forward here is absolute foolishness.  They begin by arguing that everyone has the right to their own opinion (like theirs) and yet then turns around to argue that organized religion (which is nothing more than an organization of collected and similar opinions, beliefs, and convictions) should be disrupted and ended.  Such an argument is contradictory and anyone seeking insight into the logic of liberal hatred towards religion (and Christianity especially) will likely stop reading at this point.  If organized religion is to end through Constitutional means, it will do so by the reforming of opinions away from organized religion. The writer supports the freedom to speech as Constitutional, but apparently not the freedom of religion (which is also in the Constitution) and yet holds to the belief that all have a right to their own opinions so long as they aren't directed by any organized religion.  Confused yet?  It gets worse when later the writer says:

UPDATE: Please, do not confuse -- accidentally or on purpose -- my position that we need to end ORGANIZED, INSTUTIONALIZED religion  with my already stated belief that everyone has the right to believe in the big polka-dotted betentacled glamgrum from Aldebaran if you want. Belief is a personal choice and I am regarding it as such. However, institutions with a vested interest in ignorance whose last check  on reality was during Nero's time (if then), have to be fought tooth and nail.

End organized religion, but don't reject the right to hold to an organized religion?  I'm confused.

This rant is centered on the ongoing Roman Catholic Church controversy regarding the sexual abuse of altar boys by RCC priests.  Certainly the RCC has a serious mess on their hands and until they deal with this biblically and morally any statement they make will be clouded by this controversy.  But even in light of such wrong doing, the anger, vitriol, and confusion of this writer is not an excuse.  Certainly the RCC should be criticized and the victims should be defended.  However, to suggest that the problem is with faith and not with people is utter foolishness.

The rant goes on:

It is time to stop taking all this sitting down. It is time to begin working actively to bring about the end of  organized religion. At the beginning of the 21st century,  it is a wonder that a group of ignorant, bigoted and hateful men (yes, mostly men) can preach against scientific progress and try to take this country and the world a few centuries back. It is time to face the truth -- THERE IS NO GOD. I don't begrudge the faith to those who believe -- but I am not out there trying to impose vegetarianism or red uniforms on anyone. So, please, keep your religion out of my face. Humanity may have needed to believe in rocks or celestial bodies when we barely could walk upright. At the beginning of the 21st century, it is finally time to dispense with the crutch. Religion  in general and chirstianity in particular are EVIL.

Again we are confronted with foolishness and an incoherent argument.  The author is calling for likeminded liberals at the Daily Kos to stop taking such religious foolishness sitting down and fight for the end of organized religion.  Again, their affirmtion of one's right to believe is contradicted by this claim, but we must move on.

The writer finds it astounding that in the 21st Century people continue to believe in God.  Didn't Charles Darwin and secularism (rooted in Darwinism) murder God?  Wasn't that the purpose of Frederick Neitzche's "God is dead" rant from the madman was all about?  Haven't we discovered through science and reason that God does not exist?  Apparently not, and the writer echoes the confusion that many secularists feel. 

But the rant only gets worse.  It is one to make a scientific, philosophical argument for or against the existence of God, but to assume such a statement is foolishness.  The author offers no real evidence contrary to the existence of God.  And then the author has the audacity to boldly claim that THERE IS NO GOD and turn around and claim not to begrudge the faith to those who believe.  They go on to say that they aren't trying to forcefeed humans vegetarianism or red uniforms.  Are they serious?  They want you to keep your religion out of my face but are at the same time pushing their religion in our face?  How can you boldly declare atheism as the only right religion (and it is a religion) and then turn around to not allow your readers to present their arguments for faith?  I understand the arguments for atheism, but to boldly proclaim atheism like a televangelists and then criticize the religious for proclaiming theism is hypocrisy.  The very thing they are writing against.

Finally, I must make mention of the final sentence in the above paragraph.  In complete ignorance of the historical record (and we will not go into great detail here) the writer suggests that religion in general and christianity in particular are EVIL.  Can one still be so foolish?  Are they ignorant to the fact that just three atheist in a few decades of the 20th Century murdered more than 100 million people and that is not counting other atheistic despots?  Take the actual numbers (and not the exaggerated numbers put forward by liberals and secularists) of those wrongfully murdered by Chrstians in 2,000 years and you have but a fraction of the number of dead bodies continue to climb at the hands of atheist dictators today.

Certainly religion has been an excuse for horrendous acts of violence and murder, but do not act so pious and suggest that atheism has no blood on its own hands.  The problem is rooted in mankind.  Evolution, the worldview that shapes modern atheism and secularism, is a theology of blood where death is good as it allows the next stage of evolution to progress.  There is a reason why Margaret Sanger (an atheist) was a racist eugenicists and her work continues to this day murdering black babies and Down Syndrome infants considered unfit to live.  And the Daily Kos fully supports it.

The reason I have spent so much valuable time on such a foolish argument is because it perfectly illustrates the complete absence of reality by many secularists today.   The rank and file secularists have bought into the bumper sticker philosophical arguments without reason and are bent on undermining our Constitution and faith.  It is this sort of rhetoric that has led to Adolf Hitler's Nazism, Stalin's communism, the French Revolutions guiltiness, and so many other acts of murder by secularists and atheists?  The rhetoric (empty in reasonableness it may be) must not be ignored.  This has appeared on the Daily Kos which is one of the most liberal and influential websites among many liberal and Democratic leaders in America today.  Its publication suggest where supporters of the Daily Kos want us to go.  Killing faith will not lead to a Utopia and to believe so is foolish.

Christians must be grounded in Scripture, centered on the gospel.  Such a message is reasonable and leads toward peace in a way that atheism will never understand.  Disregard arguments like the one made by this Daily Kos article as foolish but not insignificant.  The secular left have finally made themselves clear.  They are who we thought they were.  Thanks for revealing the obvious.

Daily Kos - Time to begin working for the death of religion (a rant) 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ongoing Conversation On Religious Liberty

Over at his weekly videoblog, author and Christian leader Charles Colson has been taking on the subejct of religious liberty.  One would think that in a country where religious liberty is a deeply held tradition, such a conversation would be needed.  But in his latest "Two Minute Warning," Colson introduces us to some comments by professor, author, and Church historian Timothy George on the importance and meaning of religoius leader.

George and Colson contributed to the widely signed and spread Manhattan Project which dealt with issues of life, marriage, and religious liberty.  I have written on this subject in previous contexts and those links will be available at the end.  In the meantime, consider the argument put forward by Colson and George.  The issue of religious liberty is a serious issue that Christians must face.  Will we obey God or man?  Certainly God calls us to submit to the laws of man, but if they contract the will and word of God, disobedience is our only option.

For more:
Two Minute Warning - Civil Disobedience (featuring Dr. Timothy George) 
Read the Manhattan Declaration 
Commentary - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration 
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide: The Separation of State and Church  (Part 1)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government? (Part 2)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World (Part 3)
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Birth of the American Concept of Separation of State and Church 
Commentary - Where Does the Madness End?:  Where the Homosexual Agenda Ends - Part 2
Commentary - What is to Be Our Response?:  Living As a Christian in an Obama Administration 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lewis on the Why of Democracy

Over at the Between Two Worlds blog, Justin Taylor has once again posted a timely and insightful quoted from the writings of CS Lewis.  Lewis needs no introduction here, but this time the quote regards Democracy and why he believes it is best (but not perfect I think he would say).

Lewis' proposition for democracy is based on the nature of man.  Lewis believes that man is fallen.  As a result, he argues that democracy is best because unchecked power in the hands of fallen man is a danger thing.  Must we really prove such a proposition historically?  Just look at the 20th century.  Anytime one man, or even a group of people, gained incredble power over others, the depravity of human nature makes itself known.

I might add two other points to this.  First, Lewis rejected Total Depravity; the Calvinist doctrine that says that man is totally depraved and all that he is and does is stained with sin.  This does not mean that every man, right now, is as bad as he could be, but that all that he does is tainted with sin.  Lewis wrongly argues that if we were totally depraved then how would totally depraved men know they were totally depraved.  Here Lewis' preference for philosphy over biblical theology forces him to make a wrong turn.  Apart from Divine Revelation and the workings of the Holy Spirit (what Calvinists would call Irresistable Grace) one would not understand their depravity nor the gospel.

The second point regards the problem with democracy not mentioned in the following quote.  Strict democracy (as practiced by some - but not all - the Greeks) is impractical and not free from the inherit sinful nature of man.  It is impractical because people have lives and voting on every little thing takes up a lot of time that the average citizen doesn't have.  Secondly, it is flawed because it encourages a mob spirit where the strong and rich direct the nation ignoring the needs of the minority.

This is why the Founders preferred a Republic.  The United States is unique in that our Founders combined the benefits of democracy and republicanism (the political philosophy, not the party).  The idea of checks and balances grounded in a firm belief in natural (read, "God-given") rights bestowed equally to every human being.

What Lewis says here is well worth our time to read and study.  He is right in his defense of democracy centered on the depravity of man.  However, we must also note that due to man's fallen nature, no government is perfect and will never erase the effects of the fall.  As a result, our hope is in the gospel, not in political theory or policy.

Here's Lewis on why he's a democrat (the political philosophy, not the party):

I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man.

I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government.

The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .

The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.  —C.S. Lewis, “Equality,” in Present Concerns (reprint: Mariner Books, 2002), p. 17.

HT:  Between Two Worlds 

For More:
Commentary - From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics 
* Just an interesting thought.  In Lewis' infamous Chronciles of Narnia series, it should be noted that when the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve sit on their throne in Narnia they do so ending centuries of monarchy (ruled by the wicked queen) only to replace it with an oligarchy, not a democracy.  Though this is not in any way theological or philosophical on Lewis' part, it is interesting nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What Would Jesus Do About Illegal Immigration?: Confusing Jesus' Message With American Policy

Recently a number of Christian leaders met in Washington, DC to debate what sort of immigration policy Jesus would support and fight for.  Some suggest comprehensive immigration reform while others see that as code for amnesty.  Others simply point to passages like Matthew 25:34-40 which calls us to care for "the least of these."  Likewise, Leviticus 19:34, Hebrews 13:2 calls us for care for strangers in our lands, and Micah 6:8 famously calls for us to act justly and mercifully.  One of the leaders promoting such passages is the head of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Richard Land.  But he is not alone.  Others, like Representative Lamar Smith from Texas quoted Romans 13:1-7 regarding the Christians response and submission to government policies.

The truth is, politically speaking, we will not be dealing with immigration substantially this year.  Certainly the Federal Government will continue to fight against the Arizona Immigration law which goes into effect soon.  But in chances of the federal government actually doing (or attempting to do) something about this are slim to none.

But the question of what Jesus would do in this situation is important and well worth our discussion.  What kind of immigration policy would Jesus support?  Would He want us to secure the borders first?  Would He want us to deal with employers who hire illegals.  Or would He want a complete package passed by all branches of government?  What would Jesus do?  Even if we take into account all of the passages about love, welcoming strangers, and serving the least of these, we are still left without any specifics.  So what would Jesus do?


That's right.  If Jesus were ministering today (remember He only ministered for 3 years during the First Century Roman world) He would be focused on proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom of God.  The answer is so obvious it should embrace us.  To ask the question what would Jesus do in regards to public policy is to ask a question that neither the Bible or Jesus Himself ever answered.  What does Jesus think about taxes?  Pay them.  What does He think about various wars?  He didn't say much about them.  What does He think about school vouchers?  We don't know.  To honestly debate what Jesus believed about virtually political issue is a mute point.  We simply don't know because Jesus was not concerned about the kingdoms of this world and especially the political sphere.

Now this does not mean that Jesus didn't care at all or that we cannot apply biblical and Christian theology and principles in the political sphere.  It is right to utilize the gospel as a foundation to fight against the slave trade like William Wilberforce did.  It is right to preach the gospel and fight for Civil Rights like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did.  It is right to fight for policies and agenda's that defend the poor, the hungry, and the unborn.  However, our priorities are not political, but spiritual.

Did you ever notice that Paul never fought for Democracy or Peter never joined a political party or that John didn't have a favorite Senator?  The reason was that for the early Church, the apostles, and Jesus, the issue of priority was the gospel.  They understood that real hope and change wasn't going to come through a political Messiah (isn't that why many of the Jews killed Jesus in the first place?), but through the promised Messiah; He who died and was raised from the dead.

So what would Jesus do in our culture overrun with illegals?  What would be His priority?  The gospel.  He would call on them, as He would everybody else, to repent.  Jesus crossed language and cultural barriers in His ministry always preaching the same message:  repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.  That is the very same message proclaimed by the apostles as they went throughout the Roman Empire:  repent and believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Church preached Christ and Him crucified and raised, not public policies and legislation.

It concerns me to see Christians gathered in a room debating public policy when we have a dying world around us rejecting the gospel.  Public policy is important and we must not forget that, but public policy is shaped and ran by sinners who are in need of a Savior.  We are foolish to believe that depraved men and women will create a pure and just society full of fellow depraved men and women.  What we need is the gospel.  What we need is evangelism.  What we need is church growth.  What we need is discipleship.  What we need is preaching the good news of Jesus.

So yes we can debate how to apply Biblical principles regarding immigration, but if we are honest with ourselves Jesus wouldn't have cared less over this issue.  His concern wasn't political, but spiritual.  His Kingdom is not of this world and the kingdoms of this world are passing away.  He preached an eternal message, not one that changes with every election.

Though immigration may be important and a serious issue for us to debate, the gospel is of a higher priority and should be of greater importance for us Christians.  The minute we fight harder for political reform more than spiritual reconciliation is the minute we really forget what would Jesus do.

Fore more:
McClatchy - What would Jesus do about illegal immigration? 

Commentary - What Would Jesus Vote?:  Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel 
Commentary - Christianity and the Border Crisis:  How Should We Respond?  
Shortblog - The Arizona Law is Racist But the Same Law in Mexico Isn't? 
Commentary - Thus Says the Speaker of the House:  Every Person Has Dignity 
Commentary - Immigration and Sweatshops in America:  Are the Two Connected?  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is This a Fight Homosexuals Want to Have: Massachusetts and the 10th Amendment

Its old news now, but still worth discussing.  Last week Massachusetts Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the 1996 law signed by then President Bill Clinton known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.  Regarding DOMA, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, described the law in this way:

When adopted in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act represented a bi-partisan determination to define marriage, in terms of Federal law, as the union of a man and a woman. There were two main provisions within DOMA. One established the fact that the Federal government would not recognize same-sex marriages, even if legalized by individual states. Thus, there would be no extension of Federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

The second major provision of DOMA protects the states from any requirement to grant legal recognition to a same-sex union legal in any other state.

It is this first issue that Tauro rejected as unconstitutional.  His rejection of DOMA came on the backs of the 10th Amendments protection of states rights.  The Constitution says that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.  Tauro argued (and used history as a precedent) that marriage is such an issue that the federal government has no right in deciding on.  In his decision, he wrote:

"This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the Commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights, and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status," Tauro wrote. "The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state."

The argument from states rights is a powerful argument and one must admit that the judge may have a point.  However, at the same time, the point should be made that his argument is inconsistent with other rulings, laws, and arguments made by same-sex marriage activists.  It should be added here that Massachusetts is among the few states where same-sex marriage is legal.  In contrast, over thirty other states have rejected same-sex marriage via the ballot box.  By the judges own argument, these states have legally rejected same-sex marriage exercising their 10th Amendment and Constitutional rights.

This is a serious case especially since California is now debating the issue in the courts even though Californians rejected same-sex marriage in November 2008.  If we adopt Tauro's legal reasoning (and he does have a point) then there is no basis for the lawsuit against the California voters in the first place.  Has California not exercised their Constitutional states rights authority granted them in the Constitution.  By putting Proposition 8 on the ballot box, was California not exercising its 10th Amendment right?

Is this really a fight that same-sex activists want?  The far majority of Americans have exercised their rights as voters to reject legalizing same-sex marriage.  To this day, no state has legalized same-sex marriage through the ballot box.  It has only been through legislation and (primarily) judicial fiat that same-sex marriage has been legalized in the few states it is available; Massachusetts being one of them.  It is not a surprise that in many states where the subject was placed on ballot was fought against by same-sex activists.

The argument of states rights runs contrary to the common homosexual argument.  Homosexuals have argued that same-sex marriage is a right, a civil right (especially in light of the "gay gene" hoax), and should be federal law.  Either Tauro is an honest judge looking for a credible Constitutional argument in favor of his states already determined decision or he has completely rejected the basis of the homosexual argument.  The judge did not find in his decision homosexual marriage to be a constitutional or natural right, but instead a right for the state to determine the legality (not the rights) of homosexuals and same-sex marriage.

Regardless of the decisions made in California (yet to be made) and Massachusetts, both cases will be appealed and will likely end up at the Supreme Court.  Once again we are reminded that marriage remains on trial and at the end of the day, Judge Tauro's decision (though limited to the Bay State) means virtually nothing.  Likewise, regardless of the outcome in California, the decision will certainly be repealed.  Everyone knows that this is simply a formality for gay rights activists to take their case to the nation's highest court.  The decisions of state's courts only grants same-sex marriage defenders precedent and a judge to point to in their case for the redefinition of marriage.  What same-sex marriage activists seek is a federal law, a Supreme Court decision (equal to that of Roe vs. Wade) that would mandate and legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.  To do so runs contrary to the "victory" homosexuals have gained in Massachusetts.  If they are serious that this is a states rights issue, then perhaps they should refuse any appeal to federal law and federal courts.  But I highly doubt they will.

For more:
Boston Globe - Judge declares US gay marriage ban is unconstitutional  
CrossTalk Blog - Massachusetts Court Rules Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional 
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - NewsNote: A Big Win for Gay Marriage in Massachusetts 
Time Magazine - Boston Rulings Could Push Gay Marriage Closer to the Supreme Court  
Commentary - Deja Vu All Over Again:  Prop 8 Goes to Trial and What That Could Mean for the Rest of America 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From Uncle Screwtape: Christianity and Politics

One of my favorite books of all time is CS Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters.  The book is a collection of letter written by Uncle Screwtape, a demon, to his nephew Wormwood on how to tempt Christians and so forth.  The Between Two Worlds blog recently quoted the book regarding Christianity and politics.

The question of how Christianity shapes our politics is a continuing debate among believers.  We must admit at the outset that the gospel affects all aspect of our thinking and beliefs including our view of economics and politics.  However, we must stress at the same time that we seek an eternal kingdom with Christ as king, not a temporal one with our party or politician in power.  The gospel must take precedent over politics and government philosophy.  We must not cage the gospel behind Republicanism or liberalism.

Our allegiance is to God and His Kingdom.

Here is what Screwtape said:

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. 

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. 

On the other hand, we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy [=God] demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. -126-127

In just a few paragraphs, Lewis manages to articulate a difficult issue.  Lewis says upfront that Christians ought to want to see their worldview enacted in a political way.  However, this unholy marriage between Christianity and politics has its many traps.  Isn't it amazing that decades prior to our current discussion of social justice Lewis was writing and warning about the same thing.  This just goes to show that the temptations Christians face today are not new.  Many want to hold the flag higher than the gospel and seek to change policy more than to change each and every heart.

For more, read the entire book, Screwtape Letters.

HT:  Between Two Worlds  

For more:
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel
Commentary - Who Isn't One?:  McLaren and Social Christians  
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government? 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Is What is Natural Moral?: The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality - Part 2

The debate over homosexuality has changed in recent years.  The debate used to be over the choice of sexual identity, but now it is over the genetics (and therefore not a choice) of sexual orientation.  Even though there is no evidence of a "gay gene," most proponents and defenders of gay marriage believe that sexuality is the byproduct of our genes, not our choices.  Combine our genes with our upbringing and other factors (perhaps one was raised in a house full of women or was abused by their father), most argue that homosexuals did not choose their sexuality but have instead embraced it.

The debate stemming from this argument comes to this:  is what is natural moral?  If we take the false belief that sexuality is determined at conception, does acting upon that natural inclination make it moral?  Applied to homosexuality, the argument is that since people are born homosexuals (whether they know it or not) then to act upon that natural sexual identity is not immoral but a right.  This explains why many consider the current debate over same-sex marriage the equilavent of the 1960's Civil Rights movement.  Just as one's genetic makeup regarding race should not prevent one from enjoying the rights of others, so too those of a different genetic sexual makeup should have access to the same rights as those who share different sexual genetic makeup.

Its a clever argument but it doesn't hold.

Shortly after the inauguration of President Barack Obama in January 2008, Pastor Rick Warren (who prayed at the inauguration) was asked in an interview with Ann Currey of NBC, "If science finds that this is biological, that people are born gay, would you change your position?"*  Warren replied:

No, and the reason why is because we all have biological predispositions.  I'm naturally inclined to have sex with every beautiful woman I see. But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

Warren's response is brief yet at the same time encompasses a powerful argument.  In a previous article discussing the question of the moral nature of what natural, we laid out the argument that just because animals practice a particular sexual act (in this case homosexuality) that does not necessarily mean that it is moral and should be practiced by human society.

Likewise, just because something has been deemed genetic and natural (which it has not), does not mean that it is still moral or even a right.  Warren's argument is case in point.  One's genetic makeup might determine one's sexuality (which it doesn't), but to exploit that sexuality in all areas is not.  Warren uses the homosexual argument that he didn't choose his sexuality.  However, his choice of monogamy and marriage is a moral choice apart from any natural inclinations.  What is natural for him is to exploit his nature of hetersexuality to the extreme of sleeping with every single woman he finds attractive.

To take it even farther, using the "what is natural is moral" argument seems to defend abominations like rape and incest.  After all, if we are defending one's sexual acts based on what is natural, then a man sexually assaulting a woman against her will is just since (as an evolutionary animal) is only responding to his genetic makeup.  Is there such a thing as rape in the animal world?

The appalling nature of such an argument is evidence enough that we use the natural argument selectively.  Animals freely practice polyamory and incest, does that then mean that since it is natural for them it is moral for us?  The answer is a clear no.  Just because we are inclined towards a particular gender (in Warren's case, women) does not make it moral (or legal for that matter) for him to enact on natural tendencies.

This is where morality comes into play.  As a Christian I affirm man's total depravity and original sin.  We are inclined toward the exploitation of our nature whether it be homosexuality or heterosexuality.  However, God and determined (in His holiness) to define morality, not by what is natural, but by what reflects His character.  Multiple partners (whether it be homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, or bestiality) is wrong period.  If we define morality by what is natural, then morality ceases to exist.

Apply this to the homosexual argument.  Homosexuals are arguing that since they are naturally inclined towards the same-sex, then it must be natural.  But taken to its logical conclusion, then is the complete exploitation of homosexuality moral?  If so, then why all the fuss about marriage?  If we are merely animals caught in the evolutionary survival of the fittest following our own predetermined genetic makeup then why not eat, sleep, have sex with whatever nature determined you prefer, and be merry?  Why settle for homosexual monogamy?

What we must conclude, at the end of the day, is that morality is the debate against what is natural.  It is natural to do anything we want too apart from shame and resentment.  Morality comes along and says that particular acts are wrong while others are right.  The debate over morality is an admission in itself that what is natural is not moral.  There is a clear distinction between the two.  Morality fights against nature.  So inspite of the change of language (from sexual identity to sexual orientation), the real debate hasn't changed.  The debate has always been over the morality of homosexuality, not the nature of homosexuality. What is natural is not moral because history, philosophy, revelation, and common sense tells us that there is a great chasm between the two.  When must choose one or the other.  Or to quote Scripture:

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live -Deuteronomy 30:19

*Transcript taken from Newsbusters, Warren:  Nature Inclines Me to Have Sex With Every Beautiful Woman, But That Doesn't Make It Right.

Commentary - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)

For more:
Commentary - The Piling Evidence: Homosexuality Is A Choice
Commentary -The Missing Gene and Ray Boltz: The Theistic Argument, Did God Make Him This Way? 
Commentary - The Missing Gene: The Failed Search For the Gay Gene
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

Friday, July 2, 2010

God and the Pledge: A History and Its Affects

I found the following video interesting and instead of posting it in the Shortblog, I found it necessary to post it here as part of a major commentary.  The video is of Glenn Beck from his show on Fox News.  Beck discusses how many schools are refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance something that most adults grew up doing everyday at the start of the day.

But Beck takes a surprising turn.  He goes from discussing the Pledge to discussing God in public schools. But instead of making it a, "they took God out of school and now we're under judgment," Beck provides interesting data and commentary on the subjects.

The video starts out a little slow, but half way through it picks up.  And as always he refers to the current administration as Marxists.  But what I want us to gather from this video is the argument that Beck makes regarding the role of God and our fundamental belief in God in the public sphere.  Once we remove God from society, government always takes its place.  Instead of looking to God, society begins to look to government for help.  Such a society will trump up government and turn politicians into Messiahs.  And government and its political leaders are always more than willing to oblige. 

Beck also makes the connection between morals and a societies fundamental belief in God.  A firm belief in God leads to a more moral society.  Remove God and more police and contraceptives are needed.  Though that sounds like a shocking statement, one must ask themselves what motivation is there to succeed and to act morally if God is absent?

For more:
Commentary - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel
Commentary - Who Isn't One?:  McLaren and Social Christians  
Commentary - Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  Under God or Under Government? 
Commentary - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama Really the Messiah? 

Gospel-Centered Ecology: A Reality That Christians Must Face Without Abandoning the Gospel

Understandably, there has been a lot of talk in light of the BP Gulf Oil Spill that has been destroying our ocean, our gulf, our environment, and our economy for over 70 days now in the faith community.  How are we as Christians to think and respond to this oil spill?  As many know, the Southern Baptist Convention at their recent annual meeting passed a resolution on the Gulf Oil Spill.  Part of the resolution reads:

RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches and other Christians to pray for the end of this catastrophe and for the homes, lives, cultures, and livelihoods of those in the Gulf Coast region; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis; to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration; to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage persons, communities, industries, and governments to work together to find ways to lessen the potentiality of such tragic accidents and of such devastating pollution in order that we may protect what God loves and safeguard the lives, livelihoods, health, and well-being of our neighbors and of future generations; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists to be ready to assist the communities and churches of the Gulf Coast through the clean-up process with the same generosity of spirit that Southern Baptists exhibited after Hurricane Katrina of 2005; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that this tragedy should remind us to testify to the love of God in His creation and to the hope, through the blood of Christ, of a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)

What is interesting about such a resolution is that the SBC is not known for its environmentalism.  The SBC has long been criticized for appearing to not care for the environment or other social issues beyond same-sex marriage and abortion.  But the SBC isn't alone.  Many Christians are seriously thinking about how our faith deals with the tragedy of the oil spill.  At the Christianity Today Website, a number of leading evangelicals have written short articles in response to the tragic destruction of our environment and economy in this disaster.  The writers include Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Jonathan Merritt.

The message is clear:  Christians must care for and take care of the environment as they were given the responsibility by their Creator.  Stewardship is a God and a gospel issue.  One cannot read the Bible without coming to that conclusion.  Scripture is clear that at creation the Creator handed the primary responsibility (though God reserved His providence and soveriegnty over the created order even though it remains fallen) of exercising dominion over the Earth.  God calls for us to subdue the Earth and to utilize the Earth to bring God greater glory.  We are free to enjoy and utilize its resources but not to abuse it.

The interesting thing about this disaster is that the culture sounds surprised that many conservative Christians would espouse such a worldview.  The culture acts as if conservative evangelicals are unconcerned with the environment.  To a certain extend that is right, at least on the surface.  As I have laid out elsewhere, Christians have good reasons for not becoming too close with the modern environmentalism movement.  Its appearance of Earth worship and paganism rightly frightens many Christians.

But there comes a point when Christians are forced to sound the alarm and yet at the same time distance themselves from the secular environmental movement without compromising their faith or the gospel.  Persons like Dr. Russell Moore and institutions like the Southern Baptist Convention ought to be a reminder that conservative, Evangelical Christians are called to and expected to pray and act against clear abuse of God's creation.  Stewardship is a gospel issue.

But this is where Christians differ from their more secular counterparts.  For one, our motivation is theistic, not pantheistic, secular, or atheistic.  Our motivation is rooted in our understanding and submission to God.  It is God who has granted us responsibility to care for the earth not evolution or government.  We worship God because of His creation not through His creation.  Creation should move us towards the worship of the Creator not His creation.  Creation is an image and a reminder of our God.  We are overwhelmed by God's creativity and awesome power.  From the smaller creature to the highest mountain, we are convinced that God is good, God is mighty, and God is greater than our imagination.  If a fallen world can be this beautiful, how much greater will the new heavens and the earth be?

Secondly, our motivation for a gospel-centered environmentalism is rooted in our understanding of human nature.  Doctrines like depravity and original sin remind us that we should not be surprised that we have a tendency of exploitation and ecological damage.  We can debate the cause of the oil disaster, but we must admit that we shouldn't be surprised that many "natural" disasters aren't natural but man caused.  Our greed and starvation for more is rooted in man's fallenness. This forces us to be motivated to proclaim the gospel to the lost world.  It is a reminder that our only hope for change isn't legislation, but the gospel. True change does not come through ecological causes alone, but primarily through the gospel of Christ.

This leads to the third issues to discuss:  the role of government.  A secular ecological movement turns to government as their only hope whereas Christians understand that though government is necessary, it is not the perfect and final answer.  The issue comes down to sovereignty.  We trust in the soveriegnty of God who controls oil rigs, ocean waters, national economies, and natural disasters.  We know that at the end of the day God is still in control and it is under that understanding of God's might and power that we can be motivated to see change.  The firm belief that God is in control and He uses us to fulfill His will in the lives of His people and His creation ought to never escape our theology.  Though God is sovereign He has given us stewardship over His creation. And as Sovereign is will accomplish His good work through us.

This applies to how we approach the political issue.  Christian theology affirms the necessity and the limits of government.  It is for the prevention of disasters like this that government exists.  Christians understand that this is a priority and the reason for government.  Therefore, we seek and ask for the government to focus its attention on issues like this instead of issues of less importance.  Right now, this ought to be our nations priority both in the public and private sphere.  Certainly government has its limits and we must never turn to government for answers, but at the same time, it is issues like this that we expect our elected officials to prevent and (when prevention fails) to seek a speedy end to the problem.  We ought to be concerned, as Christians, of the lackluster response from all government officials.  At the same time we must realize that our lackluster response in ministering to those who have been devastated by this disaster is just as serious.  Government cannot meet the emotion and spiritual needs of the victims of this disaster.  This is where the Church comes in.  Government plays a role, but not every role.  The Church needs the State and the State needs the Church and though they are separate, they are both necessary.

This implies that Christian ecology is not primarily a political one - it is a theological one.  Christians seek solutions through the gospel, not through government.  Government has its role and accountability is a must, but we must not fall for the trap of placing the blame and responsibility solely on the backs of a politician or government.

Finally, Christians have hope.  Our eschatology and our trust in God leads us to prayer.  Prayer implies our trust that God is in control and way ahead of us on this issue.  We pray for the families who have lost loved ones in this disaster.  We pray for our country and its economy.  We pray for everything that is in danger and has been damaged.  We pray for all of the leaders working to resolve this disaster in a speedy matter.  But ultimately we pray for God to be glorified in the end.  Secular ecology seeks self-glorification whereas Christian theology always seeks to return all necessary glory to the author and finisher of our faith.  Ecology ought to leads us towards the praise and worship of our Creator and never too us.  When beauty returns to the Gulf Coast and all is said and done, let us be reminded once again that God is good and we have been blessed with a creation that reflects its Creator.

It is time for Christians to think seriously about ecological issues but without compromising the faith.  There is temptation at this point to lean towards the social gospel and forget the true gospel.  There is temptation to speak only in political terms rather than theological.  It is also easy to speak only in moral terms and neglect biblical motivations.  Our priority is always God's glory and His gospel.  The oil spill is tragic, but it is not without hope.  We trust in a God who holds His creation under His protective and sovereign care.  The problems we face today are not great challenge to Him.  He set the worlds into place and we can have confidence that He knows what will happen next.  All we have to do is get to work. It is time to roll up our sleeves and do so for the furtherance of the gospel and the glory of God.  Oil cannot and will not rob God of such glory and neither will we.
For More:
SBC Resolution - On The Gulf Of Mexico Catastrophe  
Russell Moore - Ecological Catastrophe and the Uneasy Evangelical Conscience 
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - Creation Care: No Less Than Stewards
Jonathan Merrit - Creation Care:  As Much As God Is
Commentary - The Gospel and Environmentalism:  Why Christians Are Rightly Uneasy With MOdern Environmentalism (Part 1)
Commentary - The Gospel and Environmentalism:  Why Christians Are Rightly Uneasy With Modern Environmentalism (Part 2)
Commentary - Even Environmentalists Need An Easter:  What Christians Can Learn on Earth Day
Commentary - Mohler:  Is Cap and Trade for Babies Next? 
Commentary -  The Real Solution to Global Warming:  Human Extinction