Tuesday, March 29, 2011

love protects

Found hidden in "the love chapter" (1 Cor 13) is a little phrase of only two words: "love protects." If you're not careful it's easy to read right past it, and miss something of extreme importance. In this age of feel-good love one might in fact do well to spend a little time meditating on that little phrase. It might even give one reason to remember "buyer beware" when he hears the word "love" when protection is not part of its definition. Then, perhaps, when he sees it on the cover of a book like "Love Wins", or on a bumper sticker that says "love makes a family", he will not be so easily fooled.

With this in mind we can ask some questions that will help us hold to a Biblical view of love. This view has almost nothing in common the modern understanding of "love" because the modern view is devoid of truth. When one touts loving the poor, for example, we can ask, "does he also advocate the murder of their children through abortion?", for this is not love, it does not protect. When one speaks of loving the sinner, does he also speak of blessing their harmful behavior? If he does, he does not love, for it does not protect. When one preaches about God, does he preach that all roads lead to Him? If he does he does not love for that does not protect. When one speaks of loving the children, does he also advocate their protection from--as in the schoolhouse--the most loving thing that has ever happened in the history of man: our salvation from God's wrath through Jesus' death on the cross? If he does, he does not love for that does not protect.

In short, love is not always about feeling good, or doing things that make us feel good about ourselves. The truth is, love demands us do things that can make us feel pretty rotten. Often, on the other hand, some things that make us feel good about ourselves today will, in the long run, bring forth pain and suffering. But real love, in the long run, protects.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The One Good Apple Fallacy

The "one good apple" fallacy references the old adage "one bad apple spoils the whole bushel", except that it works in reverse. It is a fallacy that argues that because someone can point to some counter examples in a group, the group as a whole is insulated from criticism. Example: The Democrat Party is not Anti-Christ because there are a lot of Christians who are Democrats. This argument is fallacious because if a group is organized around stated ideals A and B, the fact that some members of that group claim to be opposed to A and B does not change the groups stated ideals.

Of course this is a fallacy that can be switched on and off as it suits one's needs in persuasion. The very next argument could be that one bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. An example: "The Republican party is immoral, just look at republicans Tom Foley and Larry Craig." Again, this argument ignores the groups stance, and its response according to that stance.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Don't Tell Me That You Love Me... II

Are these children being loved? Is it an attribute of love and mercy to not talk about the political party that is behind this? Is unity so dear that we would willingly sacrifice the minds of these children at its altar? What kind of hell will this morally retarded generation pour out on our children's children in the name of love and social justice? Where are you O church?

Hat Tip Geeeeez

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Is Obama's Libya Policy? That's Easy

Questions on Obama's foreign policies can be neatly distilled into three words: "I'm Not Bush."

News stories and headlines these days are awash with questions about Obama's doctrine militarily in Libya. There also seems to be plenty of uncertainty as to the end game there. Does he plan to take out Gaddafi, or not seek his removal? What is Obama's end game.

All of these questions point to much uncertainty about America and the world's future and serve to illuminate the importance of electing leaders based on something besides their ability to campaign for office. Robert Redford's character in "The Candidate", a movie about a political campaign, asked the poignant question after winning at movie's end: "Now what do I do?" Obama seems to have answered that question with "I'll do what I do best, campaign!" Since his inauguration, Obama has come off as one more obsessed with blaming Bush than fixing all the things he blames Bush for. Now that two years have passed, and the blame Bush tact has grown worrisome and predictable, he has transitioned to "I'm not Bush."

Nowhere does this mentality glare like it does in Obama's foreign policy. The Middle East is in turmoil as every day brings news of more slaughters and uprisings, and our president becomes the campaigner and chief; sloganeering his way through press conferences by dredging up his predecessor and ensuring all that he is not him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Living In The Here And Now

I could complain about my finances to anyone willing to listen. I could blame the limits of freedoms I experience due to lack of funds on the very large corporation that is my employer--complete with very wealthy CEO--if I wanted. But in order to do that I would have to live in the here and now. But I don't, and I'm glad.

You see, the here and now has no history and looks to no future. It's like the young girl clamoring for her right to choose to crush and dismember the growing life within her. She did nothing to bring herself to this point. Yesterday doesn't exist you see. There was no drunken fling, no bad decisions, no nothing. She simply needs to rid herself of the problem that she faces today. Then there's the woman whose husband has abandoned her and their children to fend for themselves. Forgotten are the pleas to the woman by those who loved her to not marry the abuser or philanderer. Those pleas never happened. They have all disappeared in the rear-view mirror of time along with any reason to grow up; become wiser; and escape the here and now trap she and her children are now in.

It is only logical that a here-and-now society will elect a here-and-now government to Lord over itself. Our welfare system is not going broke because of the sexual encouragement that that has been fed to the generations in the bosom of its government schools. There are hungry children who will starve today. The drug and crime problem have nothing to do with the meaninglessness and accountable-to-no-God relativist education it pours into the heads of its youth; an education that would naturally bring about such behavior. That was yesterday you see, and besides, the people need absolution from their sins... today. What better way to go about that than the claim that there is no such thing. We can exchange "sinful" behavior for "inappropriate" behavior. The consequences of this mindset are not important for they never happened, there is no history, no past decisions or philosophies to be reconsidered going forward, no consequences of past malpractice. No, those things are not in the here and now, they do not exist. Only the immediate problems exist and must be fixed by whatever means is "appropriate" in the here and now.

The Church is not immune. The youth are leaving as soon as they are old enough. There was no dereliction of duty to disciple parents, to hold them accountable, to pastor them in raising the next generation Biblically. That was yesterday. Yesterday does not exist. There were no words spoken against the hierarchy of government responsible for the expulsion of God in the institution that was put in charge of bringing up children in the way they should go either. That too didn't didn't happen, only the immediate problem of a shrinking and graying church is, and of course building mortgages.

Set before me have been many many opportunities that would have been paying very handsome dividends today had I taken advantage them. Many... well, perhaps most I threw away of my own free will because I then lived in the here and now. But there and then has given way to a here and now that produced a wish that I had done things different. But it was I, and I alone, who did it. It is part of my history, part of who I am today, and all my fault. On the bright side, I console myself with the fact that I have lived a free life, free to throw away wonderful opportunities in exchange for youthful whims and short sighted pleasures. But I also was able to escape the prison of the here and now by realizing that the there and then has brought me to the here and now that will give way to a future there and then that too depends on this here and now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Relax, It's OK, Obama Is A Democrat

If anyone is having difficulty reconciling the war-is-not-the-answer's dream president with Obama's war and his American bombs falling in Libya; don't feel alone. The only thing I can come up with as to how this could be is that he is trustworthy to do such things because he is a Democrat because he is an intrinsically good person. So, being a Democrat, we can trust his bombs will never kill Libyan children with flying shrapnel; or make Muslims want to blow American infidels up indiscriminately. But even if such horrors do happen don't worry, the media will make sure you don't hear about it; and that's the same as it not happening. As they say, you know: ignorance is bliss. Besides, we know he has good reasons in mind for starting a war. How do we know he has good reasons in mind? Because he's a good person because he is a Democrat. That makes it OK. So, we can turn calmly back to our shared American values of community organizing, Capital protests and what ever Sheen'ish scandal the tabloid minions are currently exploiting, confident that all is well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Tyranny Of The Times

In the midst of a recent discussion I was accused of being "behind the times". That was the best argument the person could put forth against my position on homosexuality; that position being that it is sinful. Of course this is but one of any number of hot button issues that we could have been discussing with the same response. But the sinfulness of a particular behavior is not my point here today. Rather my point is the foundations upon which the arguments against these positions are built. Those arguments, boiled down to their simplest terms, are based on the fact that they are simply out of sync with the consensus of our day.

So then, anyone who would openly insist in these days that certain behaviors are sinful is considered to be a bad person simply because that view is not now widely held... that's it. It should be no surprise given the strength of that argument that actual counter arguments mounted in favor of sinful behaviors are usually abandoned in favor of the much easier avenue of name calling. Assigning a derogatory name to someone with whom you disagree, as oppose to say an intellectual argument, is definitely not "behind the times".

This shallowness has its consequences however, one of them being the loss of freedoms. And in the same way that the man who has lived his life free, upon learning that he is now subject to a tyrant, must decide his course as it pertains to his willingness to submit to that tyrant, so too must the contemporary man who holds to the concept of absolute truths must decide his course under the tyranny of these times. Either way there will be a high price of some sort that will be paid.

Update: see also this article posted by Glen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Tale Of Two Equalities

America has always been about equality. The very document around which its birthday revolves introduces the idea "created equal" in its second sentence. Sadly, as is typical for these times it would seem, the very word "equality" has been corrupted so that we now have one word with two meanings.

Due to the education system's programming, most, I would argue, interpret the word "equality" from a socialist's perspective. This means simply that equality is seen through the lens of outcome. Outcome is key. One must realize however that to accomplish the lofty goal of equal outcome, liberty must be compromised, or even abandoned, for liberty by its very nature creates the opposite of equal outcome. Free men simply engage in unequal pursuits.

The equality mentioned in the Declaration of Independence however reflects a different meaning and understanding. This concept of equality simply seeks equality of opportunity. It desires that every person should be born with equal opportunity in as much as a limited government can provide such an environment.

Words have meanings. It is important that the meaning that is attached by the speaker is the meaning that is received by the hearer lest words simply become code talk to differing groups with differing designs. As for equality socialist style, government, limited or otherwise, cannot materially equalize all the inherent inequalities in our human experience. To attempt such is a fool government's errand and folly on a colossal scale. And when it is dispatched on this errand by those with high minded pie-in-the-sky utopian dreams, it will return, having squandered liberty, bereft of equality.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Calling Sin Sin

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. ...in the Law Moses commanded us to stone [adulterers]. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him... he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her..." At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time...until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir,” she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin." (for the whole story click here.

To examine the idea of how to, and how not to confront sin let us consider Jesus and this adulteress. This is an oft repeated Bible story today, but more times than not some details are left out; either on purpose or unwittingly to propagate the deception that those who confront sin are unloving and Pharisaical. Those who are fund of using Jesus' words: "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" ironically are not much different than those who dragged the adulteress into the public square because of the similar motivations of their hearts. The Pharisees did so out of a desire to entrap Jesus. In the same way, our contemporaries drag her again into the courts, not because of their love of those who are destroying their own lives along with the lives of their spouses and children because of a sin they are practicing. No, they do so in the name of love to propagate the thinking that nothing should be said or done in opposition to sin.

Interestingly enough, never is it considered that Jesus never said to not stone the woman. To be sure, if there was anyone there who had the ultimate right to do so it was Jesus. But more importantly, missing is a defense by Jesus of the woman's behavior. On the contrary, Jesus admonishes her to leave her life of sin. The most important attribute of this story for many it would seem is Jesus' words: "neither do I condemn you". We are told that this is the true act of love that we should emulate. The problem with this take is that it is simply impossible for us to emulate Jesus here. WE no more have the power to condemn the sinner than to save her from condemnation.

In John 3:17-18 we find perhaps some clarification on this. Jesus says:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

Jesus points out here that it was not his mission to condemn. One would presume that this woman was just as much an object of that mission as those who were attempting to entrap him. The fact is that all present, including the woman, were already condemned if they had not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

Someone might say that Jesus' loving response would do more to draw this woman to a saving faith than the Pharisees' method of simply pointing out with indignation her sin. But the spirit of our age tends to distract us from a very important point here if we go down that road too far without all the baggage with which the text burdens us. I reiterate here that nowhere in the text is there the slightest indication that the woman had not sinned, or that her sin been renamed as not sin, or that Jesus was OK with it. So the fact that the woman was actually sinning must be a crucial part of our interpretation of this scripture. This truth is perhaps even more crucial in our day because there is a very real tendency to simply rename sinful behavior as either good and normal, or not that bad. At the root of the gospel message is not the message that we no longer need the good news because we have not sinned, but rather that we are in a state of condemnation and are in dyer need of salvation AND a changed heart, and that both are provided. Of coarse many interpret the need for a changed heart as "works" dependent salvation. I address this here

Lastly in considering this text I would like to point out the added caricaturisation that is often implied by "you who are without sin..." This defense often times is a an attempt to make those who call sin sin appear as rabid religious zealots with hands full of stones. Christians should not see themselves as being this caracature. In many cases these words are directed at people who are taking a stand; not taking a stand against any one person in particular, but rather are taking a stand, out of the motivation of true love I might add, against the embrace and exaltation of sins like promiscuity, shacking-up, divorce, homosexuality and of course the golden calf of abortion.

As for me I hate all of these things. I hate even worse that my culture is increasingly embracing them and heaping onto itself increased suffering. I hate this because it is ultimately destroying people. But what breaks my heart mostly is the fact that many of my brethren have been deceived into thinking that speaking out against these things that are so destructive is unloving. The way I see it, silence is the most unloving action we can take.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bob, The Evil Gas Station Owner

OK, so I'll simply bypass the dichotomy of "people are basically good" and "Bobs everywhere are looking for any opportunity to gouge the poor ol hardworking American at their gas pumps". This post is in defense of Bob. Well... not exactly. It is in the hopes of helping people who unwittingly show themselves to be economic morons in their vocal bemoaning of Bob.

Bob owns a gas station with three $10,000* gallon tanks in the ground. He has to refill those tanks on an average of once a month. It cost him $90,000 dollars to put fill those tanks at $3.00 a gallon. He hopes to sell it with a dime a gallon profit after overhead, taxes, lawsuit abuse insurance, and EPA compliance red tape, all of which effect the price we pay at the pump. That dime a gallon profit is part of his income and amounts to $3000.00. So far so good when we live in a stable world with relatively stable prices.

But Bob gets word that the cost of the gas he will be buying to refill his tanks next month will cost an additional twenty cents per gallon. So Bob is faced with a dilemma. He can raise the price of the gas in his tanks now by twenty cents a gallon and risk being called every name in the book because it cost the average person an additional $3.00 to fill his 15 gallon tank. Or he can leave the gas at the same price even though he would not only have no income that month, but he would also have to cough up another $3000.00 dollars out of pocket to refill his storage tanks.

But who cares about Bob. We all know that profit is evil. Bob should get up early and go to work every day, and he should risk the resources required to start a business, just so people can feel good about the fact that they are buying their gas for the same price that the person incurring the risk inherent in making it available to them is paying for it.

I am always amazed at the contempt and judgementalism that I see in many of the same people who are otherwise all about loving people where they are and raising the banner of grace in just about every other aspect of the world that they observe. The only difference seems to be that, even though it is only three dollars per refill, it is their three dollars. In other words, this is a case in which they are able to connect the sin of others, and the impact of that sin on themseleves... and they are indignant.

*Although I contend that the principals in this post are sound, all of the numbers are a product of my guestemations based on my distant experience working at more than one gas station in my youth back when buying gas was a matter of speaking the words "three dollars worth of regular" out the window.