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Is abortion morally justifiable?

Here are a few things I left out of the video…

Thinking and talking about abortion is very difficult but also important. I, therefore, ask that you consider what I say before discounting it. I have strived to consider the subject with compassion and candor. So, out front, I want to say two things: First, I believe abortion is clearly wrong and cannot be morally justified in any circumstance. Second, and very important, there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for those who have had an abortion.

We all do wrong. The Bible says everyone is a sinner. But it also thankfully says that whosoever—liar, thief, cheat—goes to Jesus in faith and repentance can receive new life and be saved by the grace of God. All our sins can be washed away. First John 1:9 gives us all hope: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is vital that we all remember that there is grace, forgiveness, and hope for all!

And here are some statistics about abortion in America that I left out too…

  • Since 1973, there have been 59,000,000 reported and legal abortions. That’s more than the total population of California and Virginia.
  • There were 908,000 abortions in 2015.
  • 1/4 of American women will have an abortion by the time they are forty-five.
  • Reasons why women have an abortion:
  • 1% listed rape or incest
  • 6% listed potential health problems
  • 93% listed social reasons:
  • Abortion brings several health risks:
    • Breast cancer
    • Ectopic (tubal) pregnancy
    • Bad effects on future pregnancies
    • Becoming sterile
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Mental health risks

Slavery and its defeat

At the time of the writing of the New Testament, in the Roman Empire, there were essentially three classes of people: The rich, the slaves (about half the population), and freemen. These “freemen” were free in that they were not owned by anyone, yet they often went hungry because of their “freedom.” Whereas, slaves sometimes had good masters and sometimes had bad masters.

Slavery in Rome was not what it was like in America 150 years ago.

“In Paul’s day, slavery was not based on race. Additionally, slaves had any number of duties and responsibilities, ranging from farming, mining, and milling to cooking, teaching, and managing. Furthermore, slaves were not infrequently freed from the shackles of slavery (a process known as manumission).

There is no mistaking the fact, however, that slavery in the Greco-Roman world was degrading, dehumanizing, and downright disgusting. Taken together, slaves were perceived and treated as property and were frequently subject to unimaginable punishments based on their maters’ malevolent whims. Indeed, Roman historian Cassius Dio tells of an especially cruel slave owner, Vedius Pollio, who had slaves who displeased him thrown into a pool of flesh-eating eels.”[1]

So, what was slavery’s defeat? Harriet Beecher Stowe said:

“The Christian master was directed to receive his Christianized slave, ‘NOT now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved [Philemon 16];’ and, as in all these other cases, nothing was said to him about the barbarous powers which the Roman law gave him, since it was perfectly understood that he could not at the same time treat him as a brother beloved and as a slave in the sense of [unconstitutional] Roman law.

When, therefore, the question is asked, why did not the apostles seek the abolition of slavery, we answer, they did seek it. They sought it by the safest, shortest, and most direct course which could possibly have been adopted.”[2]

Paul’s system founded on Jesus the Christ—Jesus who came to serve and not be served—subverts any form of human oppression.[3] So, we see Paul lays the necessary groundwork for the emancipation proclamation. The gospel has changed the basic structure of the way Paul looks at the world and it should change the way we see the world as well. Read More…

Can we have hope in the midst of Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s) “reign”?

How can we as Christians have hope in the midst of the “reign” of political leaders that we dislike or disagree with? We can have hope when we…

understand who is the King
As Christians, the king or President is not our ultimate King, Jesus is. Peter and Paul both lived under Roman rule, which was not the best of situations. Actually, we are told they were both beheaded under Roman rule. There are many other things that we could look at that happened under Roman rule (e.g. slavery, infanticide, public crucifixion, pornography, bisexuality). However, those things were not Peter and Paul’s main concern. Their main concern was Jesus and His gospel and they could find joy in the midst of adversity in the eschatological hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.

Our hope is in no king here. Our hope is in the King that came and died. Our hope is in that King coming back and setting all things right. Until then, our job is to be faithful representatives of the King that came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Christ is ultimately King! Not Clinton. Not Trump. Read More…

America’s Trump Morality

The difference between Donald Trump and his explicit exploits and many guys on the street is not one of morality. It’s one of power and publicity. Sadly, there are many “average Joe” versions of Donald Trump and Anthony Weiner.[1] I have heard many “men” nearly quote Trump and recount worse exploits in various work environments.

Welcome to America. Welcome to our morality: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pleasure,” wherever and however it might be found. This is our county’s mantra, even if not said in so many words.

Much of the American economy is marketed to our lust. Just look at advertising. We all know it, sex sells. Pornography is a booming market and so, sadly, is sex-trafficking.

To hear that Trump has appeared in XXX films and said a lot of bad and very inappropriate stuff is sad. But, it is sadly not surprising.

Are we really shocked by Trump’s inappropriate comments? No. Concerned? Yes.

“Grabbing women by…” whatever is, sadly, much of today’s culture. As a culture, we care about the quick and exciting. We care about bursting bosoms and one night stands. We care about quick fixes, porn, and pleasure at someone else’s expense (especially if no one knows and we can get away with it).

We care about having it our way. We care about following our passions, no matter what they are. We care about people’s freedom to do what feels right. We care about the right for no one to tell us what is right.

Pornography, Tinder, and all the advertisements that feed us represent where we are as a country. It represents the underlying desires of much of America. There’s many mainstream magazines and media forms–Men’s HealthGQ, and many musicians and movies (e.g. Fifty Shades of Grey),–that embody Trump’s morals even if they don’t say it outright.

So, are Trump’s words that surprising? For a presidential candidate, it’s unprecedented but it’s not surprising. That’s where we are as a country. Porn use to be something only under people’s beds and available at seedy XXX theaters but now it’s in our pockets, piped into our living rooms, and greeting us on billboards.[2]

Trump is vocalizing what many men view, say, and others often think. Obviously, I don’t agree with Trump. I think it’s sickening. But I also think we as a country have almost lost grounds on which to critique him. I clearly condemn Trump’s actions but I am afraid that much of America’s moral outrage is a hypocritical contradiction: Trump is made in our own image. 

How can America say pornography is perfectly normal and acceptable and yet condemn the person that lives out what is idolized on the screen? You know what I think?! I think that Trump is not the only problem or the biggest problem; he is a harbinger of things to come and an echo of what has gone before. He is a visualization of many people’s secret sins and inner hearts.

Trump is not excused obviously! He is despicable. However, as has been said, “we see that all the time in movies” and we hear it and watch it on our phones. Trump is a problem but he is not the problem. Trump is fruit from what has been sown for quite some time. He is in many ways, I’m afraid, the personification of many people’s dreams.

What is morality after all? Isn’t it might that makes right? And Trump has plenty of “might.” Or if we measure morality by the social construct theory Trump, sadly, wouldn’t be wrong. The social environment has basically said his actions are not wrong time and time again. After all, aren’t we as people just “matter in motion” and isn’t sex just “an exchange of fluids”?[3]

In Trump’s own words “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the @#$*!…” And sadly, that is often true. We often do anything for a star, or for money. And sadly, when someone “consents,” when someone lets someone else do… or whatever, we look at it as okay because there was consent.

Perhaps, we can all agree that it’s a shame that Trump made those comments since it reflects poorly upon the USA and offends some, but from a moral point of view on what foundation can America criticize him?

This, friend, is our world. This is where we are. And most people are fine with it.

However, doesn’t Trump’s example make it clear that it is wrong to ever look at a woman as an object in that way? Don’t we see how depraved his statement is? Don’t we see how debauched much of American society is?!

Women are not objects. Men are not objects. Pornography is wrong. And by implication, much of our advertising is wrong too. And many of us are wrong. It’s not just Trump. It’s the way we look at the Kardashians. It’s the way we idolize sexy bodies and always having it our way. It’s the way we forget what’s right and just want what we want. The problem is not just external (Trump), it’s likely to a large part internal (in our own heart).

America, wake up! We made Trump. We are Trump and Trump is us. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t indulge in licentious sexual “freedom” without the forging of certain “fetters.”

John Adams once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Why did he say that? He said it at least in part because if we are not a moral people, a people who believe in a divinely given morality, then we will elect very corrupt officials. We will create and elect people who reflect our own character.

We will, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, pursue worthlessness, and become worthless (Jer. 2:5).

[[Two Postscripts: Please note that I do not support either candidate. 1) I loathe Hilliary Clinton and her pro-abortion stance (see here for example) and don’t trust her. 2) I don’t trust Trump either. Two verses to consider for those trusting Trump because he will (supposedly) “save” the Supreme Court: Ps. 118:9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes [or their modern equivalent]” (cf. Ps. 146:3) and Ps. 40:4, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud [certain political candidates], to those who go astray after a lie!” These verses are true even when considering such serious subjects as the future of America and unborn babies.]]

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[1] Actually, it is sadly my own disposition. I am myself not beyond struggling with lust. However, by God’s grace, I am not enslaved to it and loathe porn. I have seen the chaos and curse that sexual sin brings to individuals and society through people close to me.

[2] The porn industry is one of the biggest industries and has the largest presence online. In fact, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Pornography is also very potent. I’ve read that it’s as addictive or more addictive as heroin or cocaine. Social media very often, even if it’s not officially labeled pornographic, is teaching and influencing how we think about sex and act out sexually (see e.g. Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis” in The Washington Post).

[3] E.g. Richard Dawkins has said, “There is a bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, not good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA” (Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow)

All-Gender Bathrooms, Prosperity, Love, & the Question of Kingdom

Our discussion here should not be limited to bathrooms. It’s not just a problem of bathroom signs and who comes in those bathroom doors. The problem is not just political. If we leave it there we miss the heart of the issue and we fail to care about hearts.

It’s a matter of concern for people and prosperity. It’s a matter of love. And yes it’s a matter of truth. But I feel and fear that the latter has received the emphasis. And it sounds kind of like a noisy gong. 

Prosperity

How is this issue related to prosperity? As we think about all-gender restrooms we need to consider the matter from the perspective of love for neighbor and not just moralism or concern for ourselves or even our kids. We need to look at Jesus as the standard of how we interact with people. We should desire to represent Him in this conversation. Not the Andy Griffith Show.

We should have a concern for our neighbors, whether monogamous, transgender, all-gender, because they are fellow human beings created in the image of God. And we don’t want them to miss out on the good design that God gave. 

Thus the issue at hand is an issue of prosperity. How do humans prosper and flourish? How and what were we created for? What leads to our ultimate prosperity? What is our ultimate good?

Obviously, what blurs the issue is many believe we weren’t created and we thus have no ultimate purpose. Yet, if God did say in the beginning “it is good” and intends the world to function in a certain way then we shouldn’t want others to miss out on the good God intended even as we realize the world is broken (physically, spiritually, emotionally, etc.). If, however, many of our neighbors our right, if God is not there and He is silent, then it doesn’t matter. Let us eat and drink, let us gloat and indulge in gluttony, let us define our own identity, let us do what we want for tomorrow we die.

But, if as I believe, God did create the world in a certain way, to function according to to certain physical and moral laws then this conversation matters. It matters not just for me, my family, and those that have my same worldview. It matters for all people. It is a matter of being inlined with the laws of the universe, ever as much as we must account for the laws of gravity. 

Yet, if we are Christians having this conversations with others, no matter who those others are, we must not be prideful. We must have the conversation in humility and love. We must have it knowing that all of creation groans with longing for redemption. We are all broken. We all struggle (Rosaria Butterfield’s words are helpful).

Love and Concern for People

As we think of and discuss this issue we shouldn’t do it detached from real people. Real people that have real struggles. We should not demonize other people, no matter who those people are. I don’t think Jesus would have done that even if they were putting up new signs on the restrooms at schools. I think Jesus would have seen the masses as blind sheep without a shepherd.

My reading of Scripture leads me to think Jesus would have loved and reached out in love to all people even transgender people (cf. Matt. 23:37). What people still need today is a shepherd, the Shepherd. A loving Shepherd that will lead His sheep to truth. 

We must imitate the Good Shepherd. We must love our neighbors even as we disagree with our neighbors. We must be motivated out of love and not out of fear.

How can we who have been loved so much not reach out with love to others?! Are we in a position to judge? Have we removed our log when we reach for another’s speck (cf. Matt. 7:1-6)?

The Kingdom Question

“Hypothetically” if a certain potitical leader did things that didn’t line up with biblical morality and said things like “What is truth?” I don’t think Jesus would have lambasted the political establishment. I think He would have remembered and perhaps reminded us that as Christians our Kingdom is not here. We should not expect it to be (cf. Jn. 18:33ff).

Are you thinking more about the Andy Griffith Show and what our world should be like? Or are you looking at Jesus and what He acted like? Are you expecting to build your kingdom here or are you looking to Christ’s coming Kingdom?*

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*Of course, we should not have an uninvolved escapist mentality. We should hold to our biblically informed views (see Politics?). 

Caution and Culturing Unborn Baby Body Parts

We live in a country that says, “have it your way.” And if we want warm coffee that’s what we get. But if it’s too hot, we sue. And we win. We live in a country that is extremely cautious about labeling everything; least something so terrible happens as someone burning his tongue. 

We live in a country where the height and depth of steps are regulated, where your building and property isn’t up to code if it doesn’t have a certain height of handrail. We are a cautious people.

We enforce speed limits and fine jaywalkers. We take and enforce caution. We have an administration that monitors our food. We do this to protect our tongues, our bellies, and our lives.

Yet, we also throw caution to the wind as a country. We say we don’t know when a human baby becomes a human baby and so abortion has free reign. Somewhere along the way we lost our caution. It seems wiser and more inline with what would seem is the American conviction to say if we don’t know when life begins we should be cautious. After all we enforce the height of handrails and fine jaywalkers so it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to be cautious in regard to the most vulnerable. However, it seems in our country that “have it your way” is more important then caution when it comes to unborn humans.

People so often bring up the fact that “we don’t know when life begins” but in light of the precautions we take all across America that is really a non-issue. Our government regulates where we can cross the road for safeties sake but is not safe or cautious with regard to the “intersection” of abortion. Actually, it would seem we’ve removed all traffic lights. We’re free to “fly on by,” “let come what may.”

We must take “due diligence” in other matters or be held morally responsible, because if we don’t we are morally responsible. To not be “safe” and “cautious” in regard to human life we know (and see though our legal system) isn’t a light thing. In America we have reduced speed limits outside of schools because we desire to do due diligence and protect our children and youth. We enforce those lower speed limits not because we know someone will get killed if we drive above them but because life is precious and thus we take precautions to protect it.

There is such a thing as child endangerment, as there should be. Parents can (rightly) get in trouble for merely endangering their child. Why? Because human lives are innately precious and we must take precautions to protect human life. We do not even have to talk about the destruction of innocent human life; the endangering, or failure to take “due diligence,” be cautious, with human lives alone is a moral atrocity. And yet our country sanctions it and our tax money supports it.

We pay taxes to enforce no jaywalking to protect people from potentially getting hit, we are cautious to enforce lower speed limits outside of schools, and we pay Planned Parenthood $540 million to disregard caution and disassemble human bodies within their mother’s protective womb. We are anything but cautious, in contradiction to so much of the American way, when we literally go into (i.e. proactively act upon) the protective life-sustaining womb and destroy the unborn baby.

The sentence for vehicular manslaughter in a school zone is obviously a worse offense then if the manslaughter happened outside of the school zone. In fact, if the manslaughter happened in a school zone it can take the charge from second degree to first degree. Yet, in the example of the first degree and second degree manslaughter the guilty person did not necessarily proactively act upon or intentionally kill yet they failed to do due diligence and be cautious and thus they are rightly held accountable. In other words, what should stop “pro-choice” people from being “pro-speeding-in-school-zone” people? There are some choices we don’t have. And shouldn’t have. We shouldn’t be able to eradicate millions of people in concentration camps. We shouldn’t have the right, and don’t have the right, to speed in school zones. We shouldn’t, but do, have the right to destroy unborn babies. We sadly have the right to abandon caution and crush small human skulls within the enshrouded womb of their mother.

Some things, we know, we don’t have the right to do, and shouldn’t have the right to do. We are a cautious contradictory people. Will we be “cautious” or will we continue to culture unborn baby body parts?

Politics?

 

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How can we know as Christians if we should be involved in politics or even care about politics? Does the Bible teach us anything regarding this question? The Bible is our authority “for faith and practice.” So, yes, the Bible does address politics. Which I personally thank God for, because without God’s Word I’d be on the metaphorical back-roads of eastern Kentucky without a working GPS.

What does Scripture teach us? It teaches, “Significant Christian influence.”[1] The Bible does not tell us what exactly each individual must do. However, we can establish principals that help guide us through the maze that is politics. First, we must realize that we all have different callings, we are not all called to be a William Wilberforce. However, we are called to have significant Christian influence. Ok, you may ask, but where do we see this in Scripture. I am glad you asked.

We see many examples of this in both the New Testament (NT) and Old Testament (OT). Most of the prophets in the OT addressed the sin of Israel and even the sin of other nations. Daniel had a lot of influence in a secular government and used it well (Dan. 4:27). Jeremiah told the Jewish exiles to have a good influence on the city in which lived. This would surly mean influencing laws and the government within that city (Jer. 29:7). Remember, also, the role that Joseph had? He had a huge influence on the government (Gen. 41:37-45; 42:6; 45:8-9, 26) and, of course, there’s Moses. We should also note Nehemiah (Neh. 1:1), Mordecai (Esther 10:3 and also 9:4), and Esther (Esther 5:1-8; 7:1-6; 8:3-13; 9:12-15, 20-32). Thus, we see a precedence for political involvement in the OT.

In the NT, we also see political involvement. I think of John the Baptizer and the Apostle Paul for example (Mark 6:14-20; Matt. 14:1-12; Acts 16:35-39; 24:25; 1 Tim. 2:1-4 also see Rom. 13 and 1 Peter 2). Wayne Grudem rightly says, “Influencing government for good on the basis of the wisdom found in God’s own word is a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.”[2]

The overarching principle we see is that we are called to political involvement, though this is to varying degrees. We are not all called to be the President, congressmen (Excuses me, “congressional representatives,” I should be politically correct here!), or mayor, and I, for one, thank God for that! But that does not mean politics don’t have their place and importance, they do. We as Christian Americans have ample opportunity and thus responsibility to effect good change in this country. And we, unlike Daniel, won’t be thrown into a big furnace for it (yet!).

I, obviously, can’t tell you who or what to vote for on certain things but there is clear scriptural warrant for us to vote since we have the freedom to and to vote in a way that accords with the teachings of Scripture. May we be faithful with the stewardship that God has given to us as Americans who have such freedom, indeed a responsibility, to do good to God’s glory.

For further study I recommend Russel Moore’s book Onward and Wayne Grudem’s book  Politics According to the Bible.

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[1] See Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) esp. 58-62.

[2] Ibid., 61.

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