Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Help The Poor, Not the Lazy

I recently entered a brief conversation regarding one’s responsibility to help the poor.

My friend’s words are bold and italicized.

********************************

Is there a line at which helping the poor becomes not right?”

While I can’t help but think your question is rhetorical (and the expected answer is “No!”), 2Thessalonians comes to mind. Here the Apostle Paul "commands" that "if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (3:10). Thus the "line" here seems to be not enabling laziness.

“Poor does not equal lazy. That Republican malarkey.”

I did not say nor have I ever said that "poor equals lazy.”

“You quoted Thessalonians saying ‘if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.’ That's the only verse you quoted. Never mind the numerous exhortations to help those in need.”

Friend, you asked if there is a line at which it is wrong to support the poor. According to my reading of 2Thessalonians 3:10, it is wrong to enable laziness. That is, the Christian should not support a person who refuses to work. (There's a world of difference between one who can’t work and one who won’t work.)

In so saying, is Paul offering us "Republican malarkey"? No. (I'm almost positive he was once a Pharisee but never a Republican.)

True, there are lots of verses about helping the poor. However, I'm not familiar with any verses about helping the lazy (except the one which says don't do it).

You see, Paul understands that not all poor people are lazy.

And I understand this too. I was raised by a single mom. She worked extremely hard. She worked multiple jobs. I worked too. Years before I could get a "work permit" I was mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc. for the man who owned the trailer park where we lived. By the time I was sixteen I was working in fast food and going to school. (Many kids did and do the same.)

My mother and I worked very hard and yet we were very poor. So yeah, I've been poor. But I've never been lazy.

Please understand: the fear of work is not necessarily connected to wealth or the lack thereof. There are very rich people who are lazy and there are very poor people who are lazy. Laziness, like greed, isn’t confined to any particular layer of social strata. 

But Paul's point is this: We are morally obligated to help the poor (with our own money—not someone else's!) but not the lazy.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Crybullies & Snowflakes

A few days ago I was introduced to the term crybully. Daniel Green breaks it down for us. 
The crybully is the abuser who pretends to be a victim. His arguments are his feelings. He comes armored in identity politics entitlement and is always yelling about social justice or crying social justice tears.

If you don’t fight back, the crybully bullies you. If you fight back, the crybully cries and demands a safe space because you made him feel unsafe.

Lions form a pride, crows gather into a murder and crybullies cringe into a crymob. The crymob demands a safe space because free speech and dissent makes its crybullies feel very unsafe.

Crybullies can be found just about anywhere nowadays but they are nowhere as plentiful as on college campuses. Here’s a crybully in action at Yale University.


Clearly, Roger Kimball is correct when he observes that the crybully “has weaponized his coveted status as a victim.” 

Now, what has given rise to the crybully phenomenon? It seems the answer may be found in a mental condition commonly called Special Snowflake Syndrome

A recovering sufferer of this malady explains:
Special Snowflake Syndrome: The belief that one is a proverbial “unique and special snowflake.” Symptoms include inflated self-importance and an unfailing sense of entitlement. Those with exposure to excessive coddling in childhood are at especially high risk.

Thankfully, there are signs that crybully snowflakes and their “safe spaces” may be melting away soon. Consider South Park and snowflake delusions…


Fellow followers of Jesus Christ, let’s learn from crybullies and snowflakes.

We needn’t suppress free speech and expression. We needn’t be angry and fearful. Rather, we need to be secure in Christ and speak His truth in love. Jesus offers to lead us out of “safe spaces” and into His kingdom: Follow Me.

Yeah…He’s talking to you.

(Yes, I know. He’s talking to me too. Settle down, Snowflake.) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Good Pain

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. . . . No doubt Pain as God’s megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p. 83,85)

Several years ago an emotionally wounded man approached me with a bitter complaint against God. He said to me (I paraphrase):
Suppose you had a father who relentlessly hurt and abused you. And no matter how much you wanted his love and acceptance and tried to please him you just got beaten down instead. How would you feel about this father?

His implication was abundantly clear. He felt he was a victimized son and God his heavenly Father was pretty much a moral monster.

How could I help this brother?

I immediately decided to reframe the situation in hopes of providing him with a different mental image of God and suffering. I painted another portrait for him to consider and I’d like to share the picture with you.

Let’s think like this…

When we are experiencing pain, we should envision God as a great physician. Life wounds us. None of us comes to God whole. Rather, we come to him—time and time again—broken and battered, dazed and confused. Sin is our problem.

God the Great Physician is determined to make us well and He will stop at nothing to do so. He will perform radical procedures to cure what ails us. He will tirelessly repair, restore, and rehabilitate all that harms or diminishes us. And as anyone with even a modicum of experience with doctors will tell you: The most skilled and compassionate physician will often inflict a lot of pain.

But it’s good pain. It’s the pain of progress and healing. Our great physician God brings good pain into our lives so that no amount of brokenness will cripple us.

Now, dear reader, which picture do suppose is more accurate? Does God most resemble a mean father or a great physician? How can we know for sure? I think the answer is clear when we see God in the face of Jesus Christ. 

Life breaks us. Jesus makes us whole. His work is often painful but it’s never loveless. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

October Surprises


Folks, it’s been a scary crazy month… 

While Hillary and the media covered the crap in Benghazi, Putin kicked the poo out of ISIS in Syria.  

Stranger even still: For the first time in the history of the universe the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason (at least now we know what that whole “Blood Moons” thingy was about).  

And to top it all off Glamour Magazine gave “woman of the year” honors to a guy named Bruce Gender—no!—I mean Jenner.
 
 
Yes, these are mind-bending times. How does one mentally and morally stay the course with winds of change such as these? To mix metaphors: How shall we stand on such shifting sand?
 
Well, I think the answer must be that we have to find something or someone unaffected by cultural gales or social erosions, something or someone constant and stable—yet relevant—that can serve as a true guide or fixed focal point. It is my firm conviction that there is nothing or no one better suited for this than Jesus Christ.
 
Confusion is nothing new. Knowing the perturbations of life that all people in all ages must endure, Jesus alone offers the intellectual, moral, and spiritual security humans need and crave. He says,
Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. (Matthew 7:24-27)
 
Undoubtedly thinking of these inimitable words of Jesus, C.S. Lewis observed, “There are lots of nice things you can do with sand: but do not try building a house on it.”
 
Everyone’s “house” is built on something. Friend, upon what are you building yours?
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lust & Marriage

Knowing that the Bible often condemns lust, a Christian friend asked: If a husband lusts for his wife, is he sinning?

Below is my response.

*******************************

I am inclined to say, “No.” In fact, the Bible encourages marital sex.
Each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other . . . (1Corinthians 7:2-5)

(It seems there were some in the Corinthian church who mistakenly believed that “holy” living required husbands and wives to abstain from marital sex—sex is “bad.” Paul is correcting their error.)

Logically, if scripture encourages marital sex (sex which is exclusive and consensual between husband and wife—I’m not talking about “child brides,” third parties, or sex acts that one spouse feels is degrading or painful) then it must not discourage sexual desire between husband and wife.

So in my estimation, sexual desire within the context of Christian marriage is not sinful per se. We may think of verses such as Proverbs 5:18-20 to illustrate this.

Also, Hebrews 13:4 comes to mind which reads, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”

Thus it seems that sexual desires and sex acts (as qualified above) within the parameters of marriage are not sinful. In other words, the Bible provides a context for the morally good expression of human sexuality: Christian marriage.

Now, Jesus does say, “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mathew 5:28).

But Jesus isn’t speaking of husband and wife. Here He is speaking of illicit (not marital) sexual desire. When a person encourages/expresses/feeds sexual desires for someone who is not his/her spouse, that person is committing adultery in his/her heart.

(Obviously having sex with one’s own spouse is not adultery! So thinking about having sex with one’s own spouse is not “adultery in the heart.”)

Whenever the Bible condemns lust (which is basically a synonym for desire) it is condemning one’s yearnings for things and/or persons which are not rightfully one’s to have. 

Naturally, lusts for forbidden things and/or people should be discouraged, fought, and prayed against. 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bill Maher & "Supply Side" Jesus


While I think Maher raises legitimate concerns, I do not believe Jesus endorses anything akin to socialism.

Socialism is a political/economic philosophy predicated upon the forced redistribution of wealth. That is, socialism espouses the civil government taking wealth—by force—from some citizens and giving that said wealth to other citizens.

Jesus nowhere endorses such a notion.

Jesus doesn't offer us economic/political theories per se. Rather, He offers us something better. He teaches us about life in His kingdom. He doesn't talk about civil laws. No, He talks about the individual heart. He doesn't talk about government coercion; He talks about inner transformation which comes from following Him and His Way. 

Capitalists, socialists, Maher, Democrats, and Republicans...none of them have cornered the market on Jesus.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bernie Babies

I happened upon a Q & A with Bernie Sanders at Liberty University. In the video he takes the untenable position that disallowing mothers to kill their preborn children is to intrude upon women.

Thankfully, the person who posted the exchange was kind enough to dialogue with me.

Her words are bold and italicized.

*******************

“The law of the land says that the government does not have the right to force women to carry their child(ren) to term and give birth to the child(ren). That is a reality.”

How could government "force" a mother to carry her baby? Does government coerce women to become pregnant? Isn't a mother carrying her child due to a "force" of nature—the law of cause and effect, if you will?

The notion that "If moms cannot legally kill their pre or partially born babies, then government is forcing them to have children," is tortured logic, in my mind.

To disallow moms to murder their babies is not tantamount to forcing women to have children.

Yes, “abortion upon demand” is the law of the land. However, please know: What is legal is not at all the same thing as what is moral.

“It is easy for people to tell women that they should have a child that they are not prepared to have, without being willing to truly help that woman and her child beyond that. . . . it is often the same crowd who is screaming that women must keep their children that then bitch about them being a burden on the system and utilizing the very assistance that enabled them to choose life for their child.”

It’s true that many conservatives who oppose abortion also oppose cradle to grave welfare. You think this is an inconsistency on their part. (I don't think it is. "Pro-life" doesn’t mean "pro-welfare.")

But what of the blatant inconsistency within the progressive pro-abortion position?

A) If a baby girl has not fully traversed her mother's birth canal we have a moral obligation to ensure that she may be killed by her mom.

B) If the same baby girl has fully traversed her mother's birth canal we have a moral obligation to ensure that she is well cared for by society.

What sort of twisted logic is this? Is there some kind of essential transformation in the baby girl once she traverses the birth canal? Is the birth canal some kind of magical portal?

In other words, how can it be moral to kill the baby girl but immoral to not care for her—just because she's had a change in "geography"?


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Land Of The Free?

Kim Davis. She’s being called herohypocritemartyrhereticpetty local tyrant. (And this only includes what Christians are saying!) Needless to say, she’s the flash point of a particular battle in the unceasing culture war ravaging America.

Naturally, folks view her struggle through various lenses. Some (Davis herself) envision this as a religious liberty issue. Others frame it as an example of judicial tyranny. Relatedly, some see it as a matter of States’ rights. And then there are those who view it through a civil rights prism.

I suppose each of these perspectives has at least a modicum of applicability.

But I would like to consider it from a different angle; perhaps observe it in the light of a social justice issue of which relatively few speak.

Let me begin with a question. Agree or disagree with Davis: Why should she be locked behind bars?

The knee-jerk reaction from those who oppose her—for whatever reason—is, “Well, she should go to jail because she broke the law!

It’s debatable whether she’s broken the law. She’s certainly never been charged with any crime. But don’t get sidetracked…

I want to know why she should be caged like an animal for refusing to issue marriage licenses.

Why do we so quickly and casually cage non-violent human beings?

Friends, the “Land of the Free” has the largest prison population in the world. We put more citizens behind bars than China or Russia or Iran. According to various reports, the U.S. has only about 5% of the world’s population but a whopping 25% of the world’s prisoners. In fact, since 1970, our prison population has risen 700%.

Now why is this?

I’m sure there are a number of factors. But I think a primary impetus for increased incarceration is MONEY.

You see, caging human beings is big business. Many prisons are privately owned.

Between 2000 and 2010 the number of inmates serving sentences in private prisons doubled. Today, the $5 billion industry houses close to 20 percent of federal prisoners and about 7 percent of state prisoners . . .

Privately owned prisons are a 5 billion dollar industry. Let that sink in. 

Kim Davis should never have been caged. I’m thinking the same is true for lots of others.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Do Cops Have Guns?

Below is a friendly Facebook conversation (a most rare phenomenon!) I had with a social justice warrior. His words are bold and italicized.

********************

“Most cops need their guns taken away. No more chasing. No more shooting. This does not make society safer.”

Most cops? This is wildly inaccurate. Study after study disputes your thesis. In fact, only around 5 percent of police officers will ever fire their weapons at a human being. (See here, here, here, and here.)

“If they hardly ever use guns, then most of them don't need guns. Point proven.”

Point proven? (You must have a different understanding of the word "proven" than most us.)

You seem to think that the purpose for policemen carrying guns is to shoot people. But why think this? Did it ever occur to you that police officers carry guns primarily as tools of deterrence?

Using your silly logic we should remove all oxygen masks and flotation devices from airplanes because "they are hardly ever used."

“The deterrence you speak of is a common and yet unprovable assumption.

Here you go again with the concept of “proof.”

Outside of mathematics “proof” is an awfully high (some would argue unreachable) standard. But the idea that armed police officers are a deterrent to crime seems to me more than mere “assumption.” I think it’s a very logical, reasonable idea.

“It is just as probable that the presence of guns leads to more fleeing and thus more shootings.”

Why should one think this is “just as probable”?

What is more likely: that people flee police because they don’t want to be arrested or because they think they can outrun bullets? It seems much more probable to me that folks think “If I stay put I’ll go to jail,” than “If I stay put I’ll be riddled with bullets.”

“Your links prove . . . that the vast majority of police guns are unused and unnecessary.

No. The stats prove no such thing.

As my analogy of the oxygen masks and flotation devices demonstrates: “unused” is not at all the same thing as “unnecessary.”

Once again, you’re reading into the stats what isn’t there. You're assuming (with no evidence) that unused guns are not a deterrent. 

Your desire to disarm police puts me in mind of Chesterton's famous words, "Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, 'Why was it put there in the first place?'"

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Kingdom of God & The St. Louis Cardinals

I’m a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan. This means, for as long as I can remember, I have rooted for the greatest sports franchise in the history of the universe. That’s why my son gifted me with a plaque which reads: Every Day I Thank God for Making Me a CARDS FAN.

Now, being a lifelong Redbirds devotee also means something else. For as long as I can remember I have been despised and hated by an entire tribe of people known as Cubs fans—a perennially disappointed, yet fiercely proud, folk.

Naturally over these many years I have gleefully responded in like kind. I simply cannot pass a Cubs bumper sticker without reflexively rolling my eyes or see a kid in Cubbie gear without knowing deep down: This grubby little twerp doesn’t stand a chance(I blame the parents. Sometimes grandparents.)

But have you ever wondered why we have fan-based rivalries?

While such allegiances are certainly not formed on the bases of reason or logic, they are entirely natural. That is, humans are instinctively tribal. Thus, so-called “in” and “out” groups are unavoidable.

Sports alliances (to most of us) are all in good fun—but not so with other in/out groups. Think of the animosity between Black, Brown, and White; the vitriol between Democrats and Republicans; the hatred between religious groups, etc. etc…

The in/out groups in America are innumerable.

I wonder if the things which divide us rival the things which unite us. Are we coming apart at the seams? Many believe the fracturing is by design. Some of it certainly seems orchestrated, doesn’t it?

Even so, is there a cure for our brokenness? I believe there is.

Jesus, in my estimation, is the only sufficient integration point for our fractured humanity. He alone transcends the fragmentation. In Him we find the capacity for wholeness and holiness. There is hope and healing and unity within His kingdom.

The spiritual unity we find in the kingdom of Jesus is greater than the ethnic, economic, political, and religious disunity we find in the kingdoms of man.

But we have to live it. We have to model it. We have to show a disarrayed world another Way—a Way which recognizes our differences but harbors no hostilities because of them (the Way of unity, not uniformity). 

Can we do it? I think so. I worship with Cubs fans every week and we hardly ever fight. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

God's A Statist?

A Facebook acquaintance, with a penchant for conflating libertarianism with atheism and anarchy, opined:

Rarely does a Libertarian identify government as "the ministry of God to thee for good." Rather, they make government their enemy.

While it is false that libertarians “make government their enemy,” it is true that Romans 13:4 speaks of God and government. Paul says that the civil magistrate is “God’s minister to you for good.” But what does this mean?

Is this a universal truth—no exceptions? Does the Bible actually teach that all governments are God’s servants for the well-being of those they rule? I think not.

Consider the administration of a king named Manasseh.

Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the LORD spoke by His servants the prophets saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations . . . I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle (2Kings 21:9-12).

This is hardly a ringing endorsement for Manasseh’s government. Sadly, he is far from the exception. “And he [the king] did evil in the sight of the LORD” is a recurring theme of Israel’s and Judah’s kings. These were in no sense “ministers of God to you for good.” Rather, such governments are evil and they bring disaster upon their subjects.

It’s also quite difficult to understand how the beastly government of Revelation 13 is God’s minister for good.

It was granted to him [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation (v.7).

And what of Hitler…Stalin…Frank Underwood?

No. The Bible is much too honest and nuanced to endorse a simplistic “all government is good” slogan. The Statist prayer: “Government is good, Government is great” is nowhere in sacred scripture.

Because all government is obviously not good, I favor government with limited powers. 
That government is best which governs least,
because its people discipline themselves.
~attributed to Thomas Jefferson




Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Hands Up! Don't Crush!"

I’m borrowing “Hands Up! Don’t Crush!” from a meme I saw on Facebook. It has a baby in the womb with her hands above her head—an obvious reference to the wanton murdering of innocent preborn babies. 

It’s an unconscionable fact: Over 50,000,000 preborn and partially born babies have been legally murdered in the United States. This is proof positive that there is often a world of difference between what is legal and what is moral 

It’s undeniable. In the USA killing babies is big business.  

And make no mistake. It is baby-killing. Both Princeton ethicist, Peter Sanger, and deceased atheist, ChristopherHitchens, point this out. There is no biological, logical, or rational difference between killing a baby inside the womb and killing her outside it. The birth canal isn’t magical. The baby in the room is the very same baby in the womb—no change of being or essence.  

Nevertheless the barbarism continues. 

Then there’s this (see video below). 

Many are livid about the video—but not at Planned Parenthood. No. These angry people want to investigate the makers of the film but not the murderers of the babies. This should come as no surprise. 

Think about it. 

Why would folks who support slaughtering live babies oppose selling dead ones? 

But I do have a question for the pro-abortion folks who stand for what they say is a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body. Whose body parts are being sold to the highest bidder?
 
 

 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Christian Libertarianism, Anyone?

A Facebook friend wrote: “It [Libertarianism] is a reaction against statism. But it is a reaction which neglects to remember God.

I pointed out that his statement is a sweeping generalization and that it could be used to hastily dismiss libertarian ideals. Below is a presentation of our ensuing conversation.

His words are bold and italicized.

********************

“Libertarianism as I'm using the term is a godless philosophy predicated upon a false premise. Libertarianism, as I'm using it here, exalts the individual and wars against the principle of God-ordained civil government . . ."

If this is how you define "libertarianism" what's left to discuss? It seems to me that you are conflating "libertarianism" with anarchism. I favor neither anarchy nor your caricatured view of libertarianism.

“Please feel free to contrast what you think is ‘Libertarianism’ with how I've used the term. . . . If you aren't in favor of anarchy, that's great! So where do you see the proper jurisdictional boundary between the individual and civil government?”

First, I don't believe libertarianism is necessarily godless.

Also, I don't believe it is anti-government. I personally favor a non-intrusive form of governance. (As things presently are, our personal liberties are shrinking by the day. There's not much the government doesn't regulate or manipulate.)

Second, I'm not sure what you mean by "proper jurisdictional boundary."

Personally, I think the Christian should obey the civil government unless or until the civil government commands what God forbids or forbids what God commands. (The lengths to which one should go in disobeying are debatable.)

This principle of obedience however, doesn't mean that I think the government is behaving "properly" towards its own citizens or the citizens of other countries. (As I've said many times: What is "legal" is not necessarily what is moral.)

Finally, does the Bible extol the Nanny-Police-State? I don't believe it does. Does it embrace anarchy? I don't believe it does.

So, can a Bible-believing Christian desire a limited, non-intrusive government which seeks to uphold personal liberties and/or responsibilities of individuals?
 

Can a Christian prefer a model of self-governance (self-control or temperance) to a top-down, intrusive, heavy-handed civil government paradigm?

I believe the answer to both questions is yes.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Symbols Over Substance

The past few weeks have been quite extraordinary. The Supreme Court’s been awfully busy and folks are in a dither everywhere.

Gay marriage is now the law of the land. Obama celebrated this feat by lighting up the Whitehouse with rainbows; and over the Fourth of July weekend Chicagoans celebrated it by lighting up the streets with bullets.

Thankfully, none of Chicago’s 10 dead and 55 wounded was or is gay—or shot by cops. (I know this because Al Sharpton and GLAAD have said nary a word.) But still, shouldn’t a nation do something about the indiscriminate violence so rampant within its “urban youth” community?

We should and we have.

First, we’ve tackled what can only be called a national embarrassment since 1979. I’m speaking of course of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Say what you will, but the General Lee is entirely too racy for today’s sensitivities.

Sure, I loved the Dukes as a kid! But that’s because I was too mesmerized by Daisy Mae to notice all the Black people not on the show. That’s how they get you.

Second, South Carolina has removed the Confederate Flag (or whatever it is) from their state capitol. I’ve never been to South Carolina’s state capitol and may never make the pilgrimage, so I don’t really care all that much. But the symbol of hate and/or heritage is gone!


Third, and not to be outdone by South Carolina, the Memphis City Council unanimously voted to remove the remains of Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife from their perhaps not so final resting place. They did this because nothing—and I mean nothing—says “Black lives matter” more than desecrating the graves of White racists.

It’s the new American way: Symbolism over substance. Said another way, we prefer feeling better to fighting disease.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Race Ain’t the Problem

Last Thursday morning I learned of the tragic murdering of nine people in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. The slain were Black and the alleged shooter is White.

According to this and other such reports:

The gunman allegedly told the victims before the shooting, "You rape our women and you're taking over our country. And you have to go."

Let’s suppose the alleged murderer did in fact say this. Did he truly believe that the people he was murdering were guilty of raping women and taking over the United States—these particular folks who were praying and studying the Bible in church? It seems most unlikely that he believed this.

So…

What kind of madness drives a person to attack people for crimes he knows they never actually committed? The illogic is more common than you may think.

While the level of violence on display here is uncommon, the mentality from which it springs is all too familiar. That is, it is commonplace to blame entire groups for the behaviors of individuals within those said groups—regardless of personal innocence.

Dylann Roof allegedly feels justified (at least at the time) in killing just any Black person because of what some Black persons do. Others feel justified in hating just any White person because of what some White persons do (or did 200 years ago).

But the fact is no one should be hated or vilified for the transgressions of others. Furthermore the personification, the blaming of a race for the behavior of individuals is non-rational.

Consider.

There have been White and Black slaves. There have been White and Black slave owners. But it is entirely wrongheaded to think that one race could enslave another race. An individual can own or be owned. A race cannot. An individual can rape or be raped; love or be loved; loot or be looted; forgive or be forgiven. A race cannot.

When will we get it through our thick heads that personifying race and then blaming all for the sins of some, is irrational and hopelessly unjust?

Fathers shall not be put to death for their children,
nor shall children be put to death for their fathers;
a person shall be put to death for his own sin.
~Deuteronomy 24:16

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

God Is Love

Not long ago I read these words: “God is a God of love. God is a God of fierce anger and wrath.”

A question immediately arose in my mind. Are anger and wrath inherent to the Person and character of God?

The Bible says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1Jn 4:8).

I think we must distinguish between that which is essential and that which is secondary to God's nature. God is love and always has been—even in eternity past.

But can we say God is angry or wrathful and always has been—even in eternity past when there was nothing and no one (save God Himself) for God to be angry or wrathful towards? I don't think so.

I think folks who know Jesus best affirm that He was and is a Man of love. They would say, "He is such a loving Person." Does this mean sin doesn't anger Him? No. Jesus could and can be angry. But we would not characterize Him as an "angry man."

Sin angers Him because He loves, not because He hates. As has been often observed, he who loves the garden must hate the weeds.

Similarly, we don't think of godly people as "angry" people, though sin can anger them (especially their own). Thus, the Apostle John correlates our loving others with knowing God—God is love. Love is essential and primary to the essence of God.

We can say in agreement with 1 John that God is love. I don't think we can affirm "God is anger/wrath/hate" (these things being secondary rather than essential). In other words, love and hate are not of equal ultimacy.

And let us Christians be especially mindful that Jesus says people will know we are His disciples—not by how angry we are—but by how loving we are.

By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
~John 13:35



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The New Normal

I’m the new normal. ~Caitlyn Jenner

I remarked a few weeks ago that “gay marriage” is in our culture’s review mirror. In fact, it seems almost passé. Transgenderism is all the rage now.

But is the “new normal” rational? Should gender be changed? Can it be changed?

Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry, answers “no” to all three of these questions. He contends that transgenderism is a mental disorder.

This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken – it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

. . . And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a “satisfied” but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

 . . . “Sex change” is biologically impossible . . . People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

Upon what rational grounds do those who favor “surgically amputating normal organs” stand? Do the pro-transgender folks favor surgically removing fully functioning feet or hands or eyes?

Perhaps you are thinking that I am being absurd; that no one advocates such irrational procedures. If so, you couldn’t be more mistaken.

Caitlyn…meet Jason…

When he cut off his right arm with a “very sharp power tool,” a man who now calls himself "One Hand Jason" let everyone believe it was an accident.

But he had for months tried different means of cutting and crushing the limb that never quite felt like his own, training himself on first aid so he wouldn’t bleed to death, even practicing on animal parts sourced from a butcher.

“My goal was to get the job done with no hope of reconstruction or re-attachment, and I wanted some method that I could actually bring myself to do,” he told the body modification website ModBlog.

His goal was to become disabled.

People like Jason have been classified as ‘‘transabled’’ — feeling like imposters in their bodies, their arms and legs in full working order.

“We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment,” says Alexandre Baril, a Quebec born academic who will present on “transability” at this week’s Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Ottawa.

“The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”

Researchers in Canada are trying to better understand how transabled people think and feel.

So I ask again: What’s the essential difference between surgically removing a fully functioning foot and surgically removing a fully functioning penis? How does one rationally advocate for either?

Transability. Before you know it, Caitlyn, it’ll be the new normal.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Existence Is Futile

Last week on my way to a Peoria Chiefs baseball game, I drove past a lone statement spray-painted on an otherwise naked wall: existence is futile.

What is one to make of such philosophical graffiti?

My first thought is, how can one know this? If existence itself is truly futile we should be none the wiser for it. As C.S. Lewis observes,

If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. (Mere Christianity)

Thus, it seems to me that “existence is futile” is a self-refuting, and therefore a false, sentiment.

Nevertheless, it is entirely possible to honestly believe an erroneous statement. That is, the human mind is susceptible to sincerely holding false beliefs. This brings me to my next query.

Why does our graffiti philosopher go through the effort of spraying his message—if he actually believes existence is futile? Is there not a contradiction between what he sprays and that he sprays? The act of spraying belies what is sprayed. He does not—indeed he cannot—live what he claims he believes.

Finally, I wonder how or if the futility of existence can be meaningfully demonstrated. I suppose some would suggest suicide as one possible way. Atheist, Albert Camus philosophizes:

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

Thankfully, most folks professing the futility of life keep on living; viz. they commit philosophical but not physical suicide. Either way, it’s a pretty tough sell.

No matter. I’m not buying “existence is futile” because I’ve already sold out to Jesus Christ. Because of Him I know intellectually and experientially that life has meaning, value, and purpose.

And besides that…

About an hour after reading the writing on the wall I was taking in a minor league baseball game on a spectacular May evening with my main squeeze. We were in love and elbows deep in a larger than life bag of caramel popcorn. Existence isn’t futile. Not even close.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Digging Duggars

CNN reports:

Reality TV star Josh Duggar issued an apology Thursday after reports surfaced that he allegedly molested girls as a teenager, saying: "I acted inexcusably."

Duggar, 27, is the oldest of the children who appear on TLC's hit show "19 Kids and Counting." The Duggars are known for being devout Christians who don't believe in practicing birth control and whose children follow strict courtship rules. . . .

Full disclosure: I’ve never watched the show and I hadn’t heard of Josh Duggar until now.

A few thoughts…

First, I am sincerely thankful that our culture continues to find child molestation intolerable. I pray that it always will. But when I consider how our society—in the name of tolerance—continues to spiral downward in a sexual “revolution,” and when I read alarming comments regarding pedophilia; I become concerned that one day, perhaps not all too distant, those seeking to normalize sex with children will succeed in doing so.

Second, when I read on-line comments regarding the Duggar story, I can’t help but notice the vitriolic, vulgar, hate-filled rhetoric aimed at “conservative Christians” in general. Rather than mourn over the ravages of sin, these Christian-despising commentators relish the “opportunity” to attack social conservatives as being sexually repressed (usually in the area of homosexuality) hypocrites. Such thinking is as illogical as it is insensitive.

Speaking of hypocrisy and insensitivity…

Doesn’t it seem odd that the leftist-secularists are much harder on the 14-year-old child molester from Arkansas than the 44-year-old child molester from Hollywood? I guess some folks’ moral outrage goes on the decrease as Oscar nominations go on the increase.

Third and finally, I sincerely pray that the victims of the molestation have experienced and are experiencing (I imagine the spotlight has drudged things up) true emotional healing. I also pray that Josh Duggar is genuinely repentant for his sins.

In other words, dear reader, Jesus is the only cure for what ails us. In Him we find wholeness and forgiveness—grace that is greater than all our sins.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bread & Circuses

The hits just keep coming: lying politicians, violent cops, angry gays, looting urban youths…Bruce Jenner’s a Republican?

Just when we think things can’t get any loonier, we’re hit yet again with deflating news: Tom Terrific quarterback sneaked the nation with a smallish pigskin. You think you know a guy!

But he ain’t the first lying quarterback…



We do seem to live in a theater of the absurd.

Our bread and circuses culture isn’t all that dissimilar from the times of the early Christians. In the New Testament book of “The Acts of the Apostles” the apostle Paul is imprisoned for no other reason than he is a Christian. As if this isn’t ridiculous enough, he is being judged by a pervert-king (a man “married” to his full sister).

King Agrippa and his lovely sister-wife, Bernice, “come with great pomp” (How else would such a couple come?) to hear the testimony of Paul the prisoner (Acts 25:23). Upon hearing Paul, Festus the governor, declares him to be insane.

Paul rationally and respectfully responds: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).

Truth and reason are precisely what a world gone mad needs.

The world needs Jesus.

We have Him.

We need to share Him.

How will our Gift to the world be received? I suspect the reception will be now as it was then: mixed. Nevertheless, let us not be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God to save a crazy world.