Country a Mess? Blame the Church
As our great country accelerates its slide into economic and moral Hell, be careful whom you blame. The present boldness of liberals and timidity of conservatives are only the secondary causes. Much of the blame can be placed at the foot of the church.
When I say the church, I don’t mean an institution like the Roman Catholic church, but the entire body of believers—those from all denominations who believe that the Bible is true, that people are sinners, that God sent the perfect God-man, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sins, and that we are charged with spreading that message and reforming society.
Believers are God’s ambassadors here on earth, called to be salt and light in the world and to the world. When we follow our calling, individuals are transformed and societies with them. Our country is failing because too many believers have abandoned this calling.
They began abandoning it in earnest in the 1920’s. That’s when an anti-intellectual movement called fundamentalism led believers to separate from society rather than reform it, and to bifurcate life into two separate spheres—the sacred and secular. Reason was given up for emotionalism, and only activities that directly saved souls were deemed sacred. Everything else was considered secular. Careers in clergy and missions were glorified at the expense of everything else. That led too many believers to leave public education, the media, law, and politics in the hands of the unbelievers. Is it any wonder why those areas of our culture now seem so Godless?
Take the influence of God out, and that’s what you get.
Secularizing public education has been the key to our nation’s moral demise. Once public education went secular, the rest of society eventually did, especially when the products of that system became our leaders. As Abraham Lincoln once observed, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.”
The philosophy of the schoolroom is atheistic. The question of God’s existence—the most important question regarding how we should live—is not studied or debated in our public schools. Atheism is just assumed to be true and with it moral relativism. That’s a major reason why immorality dominates our schools and why our kids know more about political correctness than truth. It’s also why we have a new generation of voters more enamored with “hope and change” than defending our changeless rights from an overreaching government. G. K. Chesterton’s observation about Russia has come true here, “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.”
How did this happen? In the early 1960’s, the Supreme Court,consisting of newly trained secularists, banned devotional Bible reading in our schools (apparently, for the 180 years before that,people just didn’t understand the Constitution!). That decision, and several others, has stifled virtually any mention of God or the Bible in our public schools. In effect, the most influential book in the history of the world is ignored in our educational system. What kind of a quality education is that? It’s certainly not what the folks who settled this land had in mind for public education. In fact, the first public school in the new world began as a result of the “Old Deluder Satan Law.” That 1647 Massachusetts law established the school to teach kids how to read the Bible so that old deluder Satan could not deceive them.
Likewise, most of our first universities were established to teach and propagate a complete Christian worldview. Harvard’s charter read,“Let every Student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and Learning.”
The founders of Harvard knew that all truth is God’s truth. There is no bifurcation between the sacred and the secular. According to the Bible, every vocation, every discipline, and every person is sacred. Nothing is secular. In sharp contrast, those running our country now say that everything is secular. That’s a long way from our founding.
“So what?” you say. “Who cares about morality and God?”
That’s exactly the problem: Who does care? When the church separates from society, it takes its moral influence with it. But respect for the moral principles upon which out nation was founded—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—is essential to its survival. Our founders knew this.
Following the Constitutional convention, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin what kind of government he and his fellow founding fathers created for the nation. Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Franklin knew that freedom must always be defended; that the unalienable rights for which our founding fathers pledged “their lives,fortunes and sacred honor,” were never secure unless an informed electorate held their representatives accountable to uphold those moral rights.
Recognizing that only a religious and moral people will maintain a good government, George Washington declared in his farewell address,“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.” His successor, John Adams, wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In other words, even the best Constitution cannot prevent immoral people or politicians from destroying a nation. That’s why the church cannot abandon its calling. But it has.
So if you’re a believer who is upset that life is not being protected; that marriage is being subverted; that judges routinely usurp your will; that our immigration laws are being ignored; that radical laws are passed but never read; that mentioning God in school(unless he’s Allah) results in lawsuits; that school curriculums promote political correctness and sexual deviance as students fail at basic academics; that unimaginable debt is being piled on your children while leftist organizations like Planned Parenthood and ACORN receive your tax dollars; and that your religion and free speech rights are about to be eroded by “hate” crimes legislation that can punish you for quoting the Bible; then go look in the mirror and take your share of the blame because we have not obeyed our calling.
Then start over. Reengage at every level of society. Treat every job and every person as sacred. Be a beacon for Christ and truth in whatever you do and wherever you are. There is hope if you act. After all, we believe in redemption.
Gay Marriage: Even Liberals Know It’s Bad
This column is one I wrote for TownHall.com.
Why not legalize same-sex marriage? Who could it possibly hurt? Children and the rest of society. That’s the conclusion of David Blankenhorn, who is anything but an anti-gay“bigot.” He is a life-long, pro-gay, liberal democrat who disagrees with the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual behavior. Despite this, Blankenhorn makes a powerful case against Same-Sex marriage in his book, The Future of Marriage.
He writes, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.”
How so? The law is a great teacher, and same sex marriage will teach future generations that marriage is not about children but about coupling. When marriage becomes nothing more than coupling, fewer people will get married to have children.
So what? People will still have children, of course, but many more of them out-of wedlock. That’s a disaster for everyone. Children will be hurt because illegitimate parents (there are no illegitimate children) often never form a family, and those that “shack up” break up at a rate two to three times that of married parents. Society will be hurt because illegitimacy starts a chain of negative effects that fall like dominoes—illegitimacy leads to poverty, crime, and higher welfare costs which lead to bigger government, higher taxes, and a slower economy.
Are these just the hysterical cries of an alarmist? No. We can see the connection between same-sex marriage and illegitimacy in Scandinavian countries. Norway, for example, has had de-facto same-sex marriage since the early nineties. In Nordland,the most liberal county of Norway, where they fly “gay” rainbow flags over their churches, out-of-wedlock births have soared—more than 80percent of women giving birth for the first time, and nearly 70 percent of all children, are born out of wedlock! Across all of Norway, illegitimacy rose from 39 percent to 50 percent in the first decade of same-sex marriage.
Anthropologist Stanley Kurtz writes,“When we look at Nordland and Nord-Troendelag — the Vermont and Massachusetts of Norway — we are peering as far as we can into the future of marriage in a world where gay marriage is almost totally accepted. What we see is a place where marriage itself has almost totally disappeared.” He asserts that “Scandinavian gay marriage has driven home the message that marriage itself is outdated, and that virtually any family form, including out-of-wedlock parenthood, is acceptable.” But it’s not just Norway. Blankenhorn reports this same trend in other countries. International surveys show that same-sex marriage and the erosion of traditional marriage tend to go together. Traditional marriage is weakest and illegitimacy strongest wherever same-sex marriage is legal.
You might say, “Correlation doesn’t always indicate causation!” Yes, but often it does. Is there any doubt that liberalizing marriage laws impacts society for the worse? You need look no further than the last 40 years of no-fault divorce laws in the United States (family disintegration destroys lives and now costs taxpayers $112 billion per year!).
No-fault divorce laws began in one state, California, and then spread to rest of the country. Those liberalized divorce laws helped change our attitudes and behaviors about the permanence of marriage. There’s no question that liberalized marriage laws will help change our attitudes and behaviors about the purpose of marriage. The law is a great teacher, and if same-sex marriage advocates have their way, children will be expelled from the lesson on marriage.
This leads Blankenhorn to assert, “One can believe in same-sex marriage. One can believe that every child deserves a mother and a father. One cannot believe both.”Blankenhorn is amazed how indifferent homosexual activists are about the negative effects of same-sex marriage on children. Many of them, he documents, say that marriage isn’t about children.
Well, if marriage isn’t about children, what institution is about children? And if we’re going to redefine marriage into mere coupling,then why should the state endorse same-sex marriage at all?
Contrary to what homosexual activists assume, the state doesn’t endorse marriage because people have feelings for one another. The state endorses marriage primarily because of what marriage does for children and in turn society. Society gets no benefit by redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships, only harm as the connection to illegitimacy shows. But the very future of children and a civilized society depends on stable marriages between men and women. That’s why, regardless of what you think about homosexuality, the two types of relationships should never be legally equated.
That conclusion has nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with what’s best for children and society.Just ask pro-gay, liberal democrat David Blankenhorn.
Jesus and the Case for War
(This is a column posted on TownHall.com)
I like to strike up conversations with people I meet while traveling. Last Tuesday, on the way back to San Francisco airport, I asked the driver where he was from. “Jordan,” he replied.
In an effort to make a connection, I mentioned that I haven’t gotten to Jordan, but I went to Iran in 2006 and served in Saudi Arabia with the Navy twenty years ago.
“What do you do?” he asked.
“I’m a writer and a speaker. I co-authored a book defending the truth of Christianity called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.”
“I’m a Christian too,” he said. Then, just as we were pulling into the terminal, he asked, “What do you think about the Iraq war?”
With less than 90 seconds left in the ride, I quickly said, “I think it was the least bad choice we had. Saddam used WMD, invaded Kuwait,and then violated 17 straight UN resolutions and the cease fire. What other choice did we have in a post 9-11 world?”
He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he claimed that Iraq had nothing to with 9-11, and that we just should have gone after the bad guys in Afghanistan. He then said, “Jesus told us to love our enemies.”
Leaving the issue of 9-11 aside, was his inference correct? In light of what Jesus said about loving our enemies, should Christians be pacifists?
I don’t think so. In fact, sometimes the use of force is not only justified, it can be a dereliction of duty not to use force.
First, “loving your enemies,” like “turn the other cheek,” is a command for individuals in personal relationships. It is not a command for governments or for individuals put in grave bodily harm. As individuals we should pray for our enemies and “turn the other cheek”instead of returning insult for insult. Such behavior demonstrates supernatural love aimed at securing the offender’s conversion to Christ. But those commands do not mean that we have no right to personal self defense, nor do they mean that a nation shouldn’t protect its people from other hostile nations.
With regard to self defense, not only does the Old Testament affirm the right to self defense (Ex. 22:2), Jesus himself told his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus later told Peter “put your sword away” so Christ’s sacrifice would go forward and the scriptures would be fulfilled (Mt. 26:54). But the very fact that Jesus told Peter and the other disciples to buy a sword shows that its use for personal protection is appropriate. (By the way, Jesus never condoned the use of the sword as a means of religious conversion. It’s impossible anyway. Genuine conversion, by definition, is freely accepted. It cannot be coerced.)
With regard to war, the New Testament does not order newly baptized soldiers to get out of the military. Instead, John the Baptist told them not to abuse their power and to be content with their pay (Luke3:14). Soldiers are needed because, as Paul pointed out in Romans 13,governments have a God-given responsibility to use “the sword” to protect their people from harm. In fact, Paul himself accepted military protection when he was in danger (Acts 22:25f), and Jesus affirmed the right of governments to impose capital punishment,saying that such a right was given by God (Jn. 19:11).
Second, “love your enemies” cannot mean that all use of force is prohibited because such an interpretation would contradict the passages just cited and result in absurd conclusions. It would be absurd to say that “love your enemies” means “allow them to kill your family.” How would that be loving to your family?
It would be absurd to say that “love your enemies” prohibits all wars. What about the war against Hitler? Not justified? Please. How would that be loving to the Jews or the countries overrun? (Notice that even my driver friend isn’t against all wars. He thinks that the war in Afghanistan is justified. But if “love your enemies” meant you could never use force, then how can Afghanistan be justified?)
With such an absurd interpretation, we couldn’t even have police protection, a court system, or prisons. Why believe that police can use force but not Armies? There’s not much of a difference. Police use force to protect people from enemies inside a country. Armies use force to protect people from enemies outside a country.
Without the proper use of force, we’d have anarchy, and innocent people would be hurt or killed. That’s why complete pacifism is not only unbiblical, it is a dereliction of duty. Individuals have a responsibility to protect themselves and their families from harm, and governments have a similar responsibility to protect their citizens.
Christians can and should, of course, oppose specific wars that don’t meet what theologians call “just-war theory.” As I mentioned in my last column,I believe the Iraq war is just. But I didn’t get enough time with my driver friend to hear his complete case against the Iraq war. Maybe he knows something I don’t, but it didn’t seem so.
One thing is for certain: Christians contradict scripture and commonsense when they say no war or use of force can ever be justified. As terrible as it is, war is sometimes the least bad choice available. In other words, it’s not that Christians are for war; it’s that we’re against the alternative—the oppression and death of the innocent. And in a fallen world like this, sometimes the use of force is necessary to protect the innocent. Without it, we wouldn’t even be able to love our friends.
Politically Correct Torture
(This column appeared on Townhall.com on May 6.)
Is waterboarding torture? If it is, we’ve been torturing our service members for years. As a United States Naval Aviator, I attended SERE school in the California desert in 1985. SERE (which stands for Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape) prepares combatants for the possibility that they might be taken prisoners of war.
While many aspects of the training remain classified, I can say that we received treatment far more challenging and uncomfortable than anything the terrorists ever experienced at Gitmo or Abu Grab. As has been reported elsewhere, waterboarding was common at SERE school as it was in my class. It was done to help us resist giving up sensitive information in the event we were interrogated by the enemy. SERE is probably the most impactful training I’ve ever experienced.
Now, despite decades of its use on American service members, President Obama declares that waterboarding is torture when used on terrorists. Is it? Reasonable people cannot disagree whether scalding a person’s skin, dismembering him, or beheading him constitutes torture. Those are undeniably torturous acts that our enemies have inflicted on Americans. But since waterboarding leaves no permanent physical damage, reasonable people can disagree over whether or not it’s actually torture and should be used on terrorists. I’ll address that question in a future column.
What I’d like to address in this column is the shocking inconsistency of the President’s position. Despite being against waterboarding, President Obama does not seem to think that scalding,dismembering, or beheading is torture in all circumstances. In some circumstances, the President actually approves of such treatment, so much so that he is now exporting it to other countries with our tax dollars. He’s even thinking of forcing certain Americans to inflict it on the innocent.
In fact, the President along with most in his party and some in the Republican Party, think that such brutality is a Constitutional right,which they cleverly disguise with the word “choice.” Choice in these circumstances actually means scalding, dismembering, or de-braining a living human being—which is literally what saline, D&C, and partial birth abortions respectively accomplish. (Before anyone labels me an“extremist” for making this point, realize that I’m just factually describing what these procedures literally do. In my opinion, the“extremists” are those who deny these verifiable truths.)
The President might say that the comparison doesn’t work because we’re not sure about the humanity of the unborn. He said as much in the Rick Warren debate when he declared that the question of life’s beginning was “above his pay grade.” Well, if there’s any doubt about when life begins, shouldn’t you err on the side of caution and protect what may be a human being? If you’re not sure whether the rustling in the bushes is a deer or your daughter, won’t you get a certain ID before shooting?
Actually, there is no doubt about the humanity of the unborn. We are sure that an unborn child is a human being, and we know this not by religion, but by hard scientific data. The President knows this. If embryonic life is not human, then why does he insist on using taxpayer dollars to harvest embryonic cells? Answer: because they are human. Moreover, human bodies and body parts are extracted from the womb by abortion, not just “tissue.” Finally, it’s a scientific fact that at the moment of conception a new genetically unique human being exists. You haven’t received any new genetic information since the moment you were conceived. Only four things separated you from adulthood—time,air, water and food. Those are the same four things that separate a two-year old from adulthood. We don’t allow the killing of two-year old humans; why should we allow the killing of humans just a little bit younger who happen to be in a womb—especially those at full term?
But the legality of abortion is not the main point here. That’s bad enough, but the President is advocating something even worse. He isn’t just allowing abortion to continue, he seeks to promote and subsidize it through the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). That deceptively-named bill will end the choice of certain doctors to conscientiously refuse to do abortions, and it will end the choices millions of Americans have made to restrict abortion through parental notification laws, informed consent laws, and even bans on partial birth abortion. All of those restrictions freely chosen by the people of this country will be invalidated by FOCA. The President also wants to force taxpayers to pay for abortions right here in America.
Why does he want to do this? Doesn’t he know what goes on in an abortion? I have to assume yes. He’s a very intelligent man. That leaves us with one of two possibilities, neither of which is good.Either he really believes that scalding, dismembering, and de-braining ought to subsidized and increased, or he is willing to champion these things to please his base for his own political gain. The former is madness. The latter is an example of “the ends justifying the means,”which leads us back to waterboarding.
Questions for the President:
Why do the ends justify the means if they protect you with your base, but the ends don’t justify the means if they protect the American People?
Why do you think that waterboarding the guilty is immoral, but subsidizing the killing of the innocent is the right thing to do?
I’m not intending to be uncharitable, and I hope I am mistaken. But it appears to me that this President is willing to subsidize the killing of the innocent to potentially save himself, but is unwilling to simulate drowning on the guilty to potentially save thousands or millions of Americans—a simulation that we have performed on our own servicemen for decades.
Jesus, Christians and Politics
The United States Congress was in a rare joint session. All 435 representatives and 100 senators were in attendance, and the C-SPAN-TV cameras were rolling. The members were gathered together to hear a speech by a descendant of George Washington. But what they thought would be a polite speech of patriotic historical reflections quickly turned into a televised tongue-lashing. With a wagging finger and stern looks, Washington’s seventh-generation grandson declared,
Woe to you, egotistical hypocrites! You are full of greed and self-indulgence. Everything you do is done for appearances: You make pompous speeches and grandstand before these TV cameras. You demand the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats wherever you go. You love to be greeted in your districts and have everyone call you “Senator” or “Congressman.” On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness! You say you want to clean up Washington, but as soon as you get here you become twice as much a son of hell as the one you replaced!
Woe to you, makers of the law, you hypocrites! You do not practice what you preach. You put heavy burdens on the citizens, but then opt out of your own laws!
Woe to you, federal fools! You take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but then you nullify the Constitution by confirming judges who make up their own laws.
Woe to you, blind hypocrites! You say that if you had lived in the days of the Founding Fathers, you never would have taken part with them in slavery. You say you never would have agreed that slaves were the property of their masters but would have insisted that they were human beings with unalienable rights. But you testify against yourselves because today you say that unborn children are the property of their mothers and have no rights at all! Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed in this country. You snakes! You brood of vipers! You have left this great chamber desolate! How will you escape being condemned to hell!
Of course such an address never really took place. Who would be so blunt and rude to address the nation’s leaders that way? Certainly no one claiming to be a Christian. Are you sure?
Jesus said something very similar. What? Sweet and gentle Jesus? Absolutely. If you read the twenty-third chapter of Matthew you’ll see that much of my fictitious speech is adapted from the real speech Jesus made to the Pharisees. Contrary to the spineless Jesus invented today by those who want an excuse to be spineless themselves, the real Jesus taught with authority and did not tolerate error. When people were wrong, Jesus corrected them and sometimes he got in their faces to do so.
While Jesus was often more diplomatic, he knew that sometimes you need to be blunt with people. Sometimes you need to be direct instead of dancing around the issues. In fact, if you fail to be direct, you risk enabling people, allowing them to continue on their merry way, destroying themselves and the nation.
“Oh, but Jesus wouldn’t say that kind of thing to politicians,” you say. “He wouldn’t get involved in politics.”
Who were the Pharisees? They were not just the religious leaders but also the political leaders of Israel! You mean Jesus was involved in politics? Yes! Paul was too. He addressed the political leaders of his day and even used the privileges of his Roman citizenship to protect himself and advance the Gospel.
But didn’t Jesus say, “Give unto Caesar.” Yes. So what? We all ought to pay taxes. But that doesn’t mean we ought not get involved in politics. In our country, you can not only elect “Caesar,” you can be “Caesar!”
Jesus told us to be “salt” and “light,” and he didn’t say be salt and light in everything but politics. Christians are to be salt and light in everything they do, be it in their church, in their business, in their school, or in their government.
That doesn’t mean establishing a “Theocracy.” Christians should be great protectors of liberty, including freedom of (not from) religion. In fact, having Christians involved in government happens to be advantageous for even non-Christians. How so?
It is only the Christian worldview that secures the unalienable rights of the individual in God— rights that include the right to life, liberty, equal treatment, and religious freedom. Islam won’t do it. Islam means submission to Allah and Sharia law. It doesn’t protect individual rights. Neither will Hinduism (the Caste system) or outright secularism, which offers no means to ground rights in anything other than the whims of a dictator. Only Christianity grounds the rights of the individual in God, and also realizes that since God doesn’t force anyone to adhere to one set of religious beliefs, neither should the government.
I often hear Christians claiming that we ought to just “preach the Gospel” and not get involved in politics. This is not only a false dilemma; it’s stupid (how’s that for direct?). If you think “preaching the Gospel” is important like I do, then you ought to think that politics is important too. Why? Becausepolitics and law affects your ability to preach the Gospel! If you don’t think so, go to some of the countries I’ve visited—Iran, Saudi Arabia, China. You can’t legally “preach the Gospel” in those countries—or practice other aspects of your religion freely—because politically they’ve ruled it out.
It’s already happening here. There are several examples where religious freedoms were usurped by homosexual orthodoxy. This summer a Christian student was removed from Eastern Michigan University’s (a public school) counseling program because, due to her religious convictions, she would not affirm homosexuality to potential clients. A Judge agreed (a similar case is pending in Georgia). In Massachusetts, Catholic charities closed their adoption agency rather than give children to homosexual couples as the state mandated. In Ohio, University of Toledo HR Director Crystal Dixon was fired for writing a letter to the editor in her local newspaper that disagreed with homosexual practice.
More violations of religious liberty are on the way from the people currently in charge. Lesbian activist Chai Feldbaum, who is a recess appointment by President Obama to the EEOC, recently said regarding the inevitable conflict between homosexuality and religious liberty, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” So much for tolerance. The people who say they’re fighting for tolerance are the most intolerant, totalitarian people in politics.
Getting involved in politics is necessary if for no other reason to protect your religious liberty, and the liberties of us all. So if you’re a Christian, follow the example of Christ—call out hypocrites and fools, and vote them out on Tuesday!
Oh, I almost forgot. If you’re a pastor and you’re worried about your tax-exempt status, please remember two things: 1) you have more freedom than you think to speak on political and moral issues from the pulpit, and 2) more importantly, you’re called to be salt and light, not tax-exempt.
If you’d like the complete case for Christian involvement get Jesus Is Involved In Politics! by Neil Mammen.