Sunday, August 31, 2014

The High Cost Of Inaction



 


Consider the following scenario:
  •  Rising powers in Europe and Asia with militaristic ambitions begin to gobble up land, while the western world stands idly by.
  • A war-weary public in western Europe and the United States ignore the pretensions of would-be dictators.
  • Isolationism in America reaches a decades-long high.
  • Western leaders, without a clear strategy to deal with multiple crises that begin to envelop the globe, lurch from one policy to another, as one country after another falls victim to fanatical dictators.
  • Thousands, then tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands of innocent people die in military conquests as the west frantically tries to ignore the burgeoning crises.
Am I talking about the world today? It sure sounds like it! However, I'm actually talking about the world in the years just prior to the start of World War II. As a student of history, I've been just as fascinated by how the world got to such a global conflagration as I have been about the war that ensued after the years of 1937-1939.

World War II could and should have been avoided. With resolve and willingness to use military actions, Hitler and the military leaders of Japan could have been defeated in 1937 and 1938 with a small fraction of the blood that would eventually have to be shed. When Hitler gobbled up Austria in 1937 and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939, he was greatly overextended. Germany's economy was far from robust, and his military was not nearly the potent force that it would be just a couple of years later. However, as he conquered countries with no real pushback from western leaders, his appetite for conquest, far from being appeased, was greatly whetted, and his ability to make those conquests was greatly enhanced as he stripped the conquered countries of their resources and their manpower. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands died in 1937 in "The Rape of Nanking" as Japan's militaristic leaders conquer much of China and subject its inhabitants to the "Three All Policy". What were "The Three Alls?" Kill all, burn all, loot all!

However, the peoples of the west were understandably weary of war. The Great War (as World War I was known at the time) wiped out a generation of young men in Europe, leaving thousands of widows and children to fend for themselves. America as well as Europe was recovering from the Great Depression, and isolationism in this country was popular as the American people saw European and Asian events as something vaguely interesting but not really relevant to their day-to-day struggle to get by. The U.S. military was a skeleton of what it had been a few short years earlier.

As I write this seventy-five years to the day from the beginning of World War II on September 1, 1939, I am amazed and troubled by the similarity between the world of that day and the world of the summer of 2014. Consider these troubling facts:


 
  • Vladamir Putin of Russia earlier this year gobbled up the Crimea while the west stood idly by. After months of agitation by Russian separatists in Ukraine, including the shooting down of a commercial jet, Putin has invaded eastern Ukraine just this week. This is eerily similar to the

    manufactured "Sudeten Crisis" of 1938, in which Hitler's henchmen in the Sudetenland (the German-speaking portion of Czechoslovakia) agitated for months before Hitler moved in to "liberate" that area of Czechoslovakia in October of that year. We have imposed sanctions on Russia and made grand speeches, but this seems to mean as much to Putin as British Prime Minister Chamberlain's appeasement strategy did in the late 30's to Hitler.
  • The U.S. government under President Obama has tried it's best to ignore the Syrian crisis for three years. However, it has become increasingly apparent that the cost of this inaction is and will be astonishingly high. After completely withdrawing our presence in nearby Iraq in 2011 and drawing "red lines" against the Syrian genocidal leader Assad, then demurring to follow up when Assad boldly steps over them, an even greater menace has appeared on the scene. Had the U.S. stepped in three or even two years ago, ISIS could have been stopped before it ever really got started. However this new threat, which actually has been building under the radar for several years, has burst upon the world stage with savagery which has shocked the world, as it rapes, murders, pillages, and beheads in its quest to build an Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and eventually the greater Middle East. Meanwhile, the President of the United States plays multiple rounds of golf and attends fund-raiser after fund-raiser, taking time out briefly in between to consult with his advisors on the burgeoning crises. His candid admission last week that we don't have a strategy to deal with ISIS has even left members of his own party aghast at his "too cautious" approach, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein expressed. (See this astonishing NBC report, which really nails it.)
  • Flying under the radar at the moment, but possibly the biggest threat of all, is the Muslim Shiite government of Iran's rapid move towards acquiring nuclear weapons. Its leaders, who are just as fanatical in their own way as the ISIS militants, have vowed to destroy "The Little Satan" of Israel and "The Big Satan" of America. We refuse to take them at their word at our peril.
  • Israel, America's staunchest ally in the war-torn Middle East, and the only stable democracy, has seen its once-close ally the United States virtually abandon it as it deals with the Iranian government-backed Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip.
  • Under the Obama administration, the U.S. military is rapidly reducing its footprint in the world and will soon be at pre-World War II levels. Much of the war-weary American public supports this drawdown, as isolationism attains the levels not seen since the days before Pearl Harbor.
Am I saying that I think that we are on the brink of a World War 3? No, but I am saying that it seems to me that we are seeing a similar set of circumstances now that resulted in a world conflict then. Then as now, appeasing tyrants never works. Then as now, the cost of inaction is exponentially greater than the cost of bold and thoughtful action. Then as now, irresolution in our leaders brings on contempt and scorn from our enemies, and emboldens them to take even greater steps towards conquest.

What happens next? Well, of course, no one knows. However, through our "lead from behind" policy of inaction, we have largely lost our best and least costly options. It is not too late for world leaders take a resolute stand against these growing menaces (as British Prime Minister David Cameron has done in stark contrast to President Obama).

As I have written before, although I look upon these things with concern, I do not despair. As a Christian, I know what the last page of the book will be! Christ will be the final victor in the end, when He closes the pages of history after a time of tribulation that will make the world wars of the 20th century like a picnic in the park. I don't write these things to needlessly alarm of frighten anyone. However, I believe that we need to prepare ourselves for tough times ahead.

P.S.  After I wrote this post, I went back and looked at what I wrote last year about these things.  I wish that I could have written today that things have turned around since then, but instead I've had to write that we are only further down the road towards a possible world-wide conflagration than we were then.  You can read what I wrote here:

A Colossal Failure
A Colossal Failure X 2
While America Sleeps

Friday, July 4, 2014

The American Trinity

On this 238th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, I'd like to share with you a wonderful concept that I came across that might make this day more memorable to you.  I found this concept in Dennis Prager's excellent book Still The Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values To Triumph.  I'll let Dennis describe this in his own words: 

...one day, in the most routine of actions— emptying my pockets— I discovered what generations of Americans used to know, but did not successfully pass on to my or even to my parents’ generation. On every American coin were inscribed the three primary values of America—“ Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “E Pluribus Unum.” Those three values make up the value system I have come to call the American Trinity. No other society or nation has identified those three values as its core values...Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (Kindle Locations 4686-4692). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 
Let's look at these three American concepts one-by-one:

1. Liberty - Here are some interesting facts that Dennis shares in his book:


  • The United States was the world’s first free country.
  •  It was the country that most inspired other countries to be free. 
  • It is the country that has been free the longest 
  • It is the country that has most protected other free countries.
  • It is the country that has most spread freedom to other countries. This is all because the United States was founded on the value of liberty. 
  • More people from more countries have immigrated to America in order to be free than to the rest of the world’s countries put together. 
  • More black Africans have immigrated to the United States voluntarily— looking for freedom and opportunity— than came to the United States involuntarily as slaves.  
  • And no country has ever the felt the obligation to spread liberty elsewhere as has America. People differ as to whether this is always— or ever— a good idea. But it is indisputable that this has been an animating American idea. It animated Americans to die in the liberation of Europe in two world wars. It animated Americans to die to keep half of the Korean peninsula from falling under the rule of Communist totalitarians. It animated Americans to die trying to keep half of Vietnam from falling under Communist totalitarians. It animated America to fly food into West Berlin in order to break the Soviet blockade of a free city located in the midst of totalitarian East Germany. It animated America to intervene on behalf of Muslims in Kosovo and to aid Muslims in Afghanistan. 
Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (pp. 312-313). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 
2. In God We Trust - It is indisputable that America was founded on biblical principles and was created to be a nation animated by religious thought.  You can read a number of quotes from America's Founding Fathers here that should make this undeniable.  As a small sampling, here are quotes from two of our founders who also happened to be the first two presidents of the United States:
  • John Adams, one of the most influential of the Founding Fathers and second president of the United States, wrote in a letter to officers of a Massachusetts militia, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people . It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And on another occasion, he said, “Religion was the only thing that could tame our savage natures.” http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_adams.html
    • George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796 made this point abundantly clear: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.”  Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, the authors of the Federalist Papers, all helped Washington write this address. (Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (p. 324). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.) He would later state: "It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.(http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash564172.html)
    Our Judeo-Christian roots were indispensable in giving our free country a moral framework that made democracy work. Dennis Prager shares this thought concerning the founding of our country on religious principles:


    What the Founders did regarding God and liberty was as unique as it was brilliant: they substituted God (and moral religion) for a powerful secular or religious state and they tied liberty to God. Thomas Kidd summarized Alexis de Tocqueville, the great nineteenth-century French observer of America, on this matter: “The partnership of religion and liberty lay at the heart of America’s political success …. Freedom by itself would inexorably degenerate into rabid selfishness, but religion nurtured the purposefulness of freedom.” Prager, Dennis (2012-04-24). Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (p. 323). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

    3. E Pluribus Unum - Unfortunately, I suspect that most school-age children (and even adults!) have no idea what this important American phrase actually means.  E Pluribus Unum is a Latin saying translated "From many, one."  Although it original referred to the thirteen colonies being united as one, it has come to mean something much more.  To be American is not to be of one particular ethnicity.  You can be of European, African, Asian, Latin American or other descent and be an American.  Whether your descendants came over on the Mayflower four hundred years ago, or whether your parents came from India last year, it makes no difference.  If you embrace American values, you are American!

    Dennis Prager includes the following quote in his book:

    The other day, I was in a small company— and there were Asians, Koreans, Middle Easterners, some other people. And they had been in America for, like, two, three, four years. And they talk American. They look American. Body language is American. I’m sure they already think American. Go to Korea and become Korean in one or two years’ time. Good luck with that. That’s so special about this country. —Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, February 2, 2012, FoxNews

    I am so thankful to God that I am an American!  With all the problems that we are facing (and they are many) and with the great decline in American values in the last few years, it is easy to forget that we still live in the freest, most prosperous, and most God-centered country in the world.  On this July 4th, let's celebrate these great values!
    .

    Here's a couple of links you might enjoy:


    This is a video by Dennis Prager (you might get the idea I like this guy!) about a new 4th of July ritual based on "The American Trinity" concepts he outlined in his book.  It's worth doing this year with your family (or if it is too late for this year, then you might want to plan on it for next year.)



    Here's a link to a video of one of my favorite new patriotic songs...
    "In God We Still Trust" by Diamond Rio






    Friday, May 2, 2014

    Stand With The Persecuted Church!


    We Christians in North America, and particularly in the U.S., live in a spiritual bubble.  The Church of Jesus Christ around the world is facing intense persecution, perhaps greater than any time in history.  Yet, because it's not happening here yet, we are almost entire oblivious to it.  I say "yet," because I believe it is coming here, perhaps sooner than most of us can imagine.  

    At this very moment, Christians in North Korea, China, the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico, the entire Muslim world, and many other places (even including much of Europe), are having their faith tried as never before.  Many pastors are being imprisoned for their faith. I know personally of a pastor of East India a few years ago who saw his daughter incinerated in front of him because he wouldn't denounce his faith.  Many such atrocities are being committed today against those who carry on the legacy of Christ.  

    I'd like to share the story I received in my inbox a few weeks ago that really tugged at my heartstrings.  It is a letter from a imprisoned pastor in Eritrea to his wife, and it really speaks for itself:
    God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four month. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.
    My dear, listen to me—not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children, and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name’s sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace. I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day.
    When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the church and over me. I thought the work of the gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things—even here in prison.
    The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, “Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell is [unsaved]. You are very much needed here.” So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.
    My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Saviour and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool? Well, isn’t that what the Apostle Paul said, “Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ’s!”
    My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the gospel.
    If you are a Christian in North America (or elsewhere for that matter), I would encourage you to educate yourself  about the persecuted church.  One great resource that I have found is the "Standing Strong Through The Storm" email from BibleGateway.com.  I receive a new email every day (including the one which featured the pastor's letter above), telling about the work of God among those who are being persecuted for their faith.  You can sign up for it here.  I often read these emails during my morning quiet time with Jesus.  It helps me to remember to pray for the persecuted church, something that we are commanded to do in Hebrews 13:3.  Also, you can get updates from Christian organizations who stand along side persecuted Christians, including Open Doors and The Voice of the Martyrs.  Additionally, you can write to prisoners and even those who are imprisoning them at PrisonerAlert.com.  If you are not aware of the plight of heroic American pastor Saeed Abedini, please follow this link to learn about his story and sign a petition for his release.  More than anything, please consider praying for the persecuted church daily.  I have found that doing this puts all the difficulties I might be facing in a far different life.  When I daily remind myself of the struggles of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in persecuted areas, my struggles seem puny by comparison!

    P.S.  Recently, my blogging has had to decrease temporarily as I have been involved in another project through my church, Fair Haven Christ Fellowship.  We are starting a Back to Eden Community Garden here in Cynthiana, Indiana, based on the gardening methods Paul Gautschi explains in the fascinating film, "Back to Eden", which you can watch here.  I am producing a series of YouTube videos of our adventures in providing free produce to the people of Cynthiana and the surrounding areas.  You can watch the first one here.  If you like it, please "Like" the video on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube feed, so you can get update notifications.  You can also follow us at Fair Haven Christ Fellowship on Facebook and Twitter to receive these updates.

    Here are links to a few more of my posts:
    What Is Marriage?
    Reflections On Thirty Years Of Marriage
    Thoughts At 50-Living Between The Dash
    September 15, 1963

    Wednesday, March 12, 2014

    Thoughts At Fifty - Living Between The Dash

    I turned fifty today.  I was thinking this morning about why that people dread getting old. Obviously, the older you get, the more difficult life becomes, and I don't especially look forward to that part.  I'm trying to do a few things health-wise now that I hope will cushion that blow.  Eating better and more exercise. For most folks, though, I think the reason they dread getting old is the way they look at life. Most see life kind of like an hourglass. You know, it starts out with all the sand in the top. At the end of the hour, it's all trickled down to the bottom. According to this analogy, it's likely that there is a lot more sand in the bottom of my hourglass than in the top!

    However, I like to use a different analogy for life. I look at life like a race--not a sprint race, but more like a marathon. You see, life shouldn't be spent waiting around for all the sand to run out of the hourglass. God has given each of us a race to run, a marathon to complete. Like an actual race, the runners start out strong. Maybe they cruise through the first few miles, but as they get to the middle of the race and push towards the end, more and more runners just drop out. It just gets too rough. But the few that remain are so focused on the goal line, that they don't worry about the pain they're experiencing in the present. They just know that there is a goal out there to push for that will make it worth it all. The good runners (I'm not one, so I'm only writing from what I've heard from others) learn to ignore the pain. Even to embrace the pain. As the old adage is-no pain, no gain!

    You might be surprised to know that this analogy of life is a very old one. In fact, its origins go back to the Bible. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church, compares life to a race. He makes this statement:
    Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.  Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (I Cor. 9:24-27)

    The analogy of life as a race works in that the runner has to discipline his or her body to get the goal line. A runner who doesn't exercise self-control might as well not even try to run! Paul also tells us here that there is a prize at the end of the race. Life is not some meaningless exercise. There is a goal in mind that makes it worth everything. Another time, Paul made this statement:

     Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of (the prize) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 3:13, 14)

    To Paul, the past was the past. What he was more concerned with was getting to the goal, a prize he calls the “upward goal” of God. The prize is getting to “go up” to be with God. Yes, we get to heaven because of the grace of God. But the Bible also clearly teaches that only those who press through and are faithful to the end are those who get “the crown of life.” Now, to be honest, I don't really understand all there is to know about this prize. You can read in Revelations 2 and 3 about the various prizes that are available to those who overcome and make it through this life as faithful witnesses to Christ, yet I don't profess to really understand what they are. I just know that they are there, and that they don't come automatically. I do know that I can agree with Paul that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard...the things that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Cor. 2:9 NKJV)  In another place, he says the prize will be "far beyond all comparison."  Whatever it is, it'll be awesome!

    There's another “life analogy” that I've heard that I really like, though at first glance it seems rather depressing. That is of “the dash.” The kind of dash I'm thinking about it is the dash that is on a tombstone. You know, the little “-” between the day of your death and the day of your death. Mine so far is “March 12, 1964 - ?” You see, it's that dash that we're living in. I don't know when the last date gets filled in, but until that day, I want to “live in the dash.” Scripture also describes life as “but a vapor.” Wow! That's encouraging! However, when you think about it, it's really true. I don't feel like it's been very long at all since I was a teenager. And even if I live another thirty or even forty years, that time will pass so quickly. But what am I doing to “live in the dash?” Am I making the most of every opportunity? God put us here to live for Him and to love others. Am I doing that? Are you doing that? I don't know how much longer I'll have here. It may be many years. It may be a few. Whatever my lot, I want what I have left in this life to be productive. I want it to count for something.

    One more scripture related to “the race” is relevant here:
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-3)

    Jesus ran the race first, and He ran the race best.  He is our example.  What He endured is far worse than anything you or I will ever endure, yet He didn't falter or faint, but fixed His eyes on the prize.  Since He completed His race and is up ahead at the finish line, I can look to Him waiting for me and receive great encouragement. 

    As the runner nears the finish line, it doesn't become a time for despair. Rather, it is a time of excitement as the race is nearly done and the prize is near. For me, seeing Jesus is that prize. Hearing the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” will make all pain, all the hurt, all the sorrows of this life, seem as nothing.

    Here are links to a few more of my posts:
    What Is Marriage?
    Reflections On Thirty Years Of Marriage
    September 15, 1963





    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 2

     I continue my series here in support of traditional marriage.  To start at the first post, click this link to "What Is Marriage?"

    In my post last week, I began outlining five secular (or non-biblical) reasons to support traditional marriage and to not support the new revisionist "same-sex" version of marriage.  I covered the first two reasons "Redefining marriage is harmful to children" and "Redefining marriage will bring great harm to society as a whole".  I cover the last three reasons here:

    3. Redefining Marriage Will Undermine Same-sex Friendships. Admittedly, this is one of the most difficult-to-understand yet insidious side effects of the effort to redefine marriage. Changing the definition of marriage from the traditional view (as defined in my article "What Is Marriage?") to the revisionist view will have serious implications on non-sexual relationships. In their book "What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense" Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson, and Robert P. George make this argument:
    The more we absorb this assumption (that marriage is defined as “the relationship in our lives which matters most”), the less we value deep friendship in its own right. Self-disclosure, unembarrassed reliance, self-forgetfulness, extravagant expressions of affection, and other features of companionship come to seem gauche—or even feel like unwelcome impositions—outside romance and marriage. We come to see friendships as mere rest stops on the way back to family life. It becomes harder to share experiences with our friend that we could just as well have shared with our spouse, without seeming to detract from our marriage.
    On the other hand:
    The conjugal view, by contrast, gives marriage a definite shape, as ordered to true bodily union and thus to family life. If the revisionist view sees single people as just settling for less, the conjugal view leaves room for different forms of communion, each with its own distinctive scale and form of companionship and support. It keeps from making marriage totalizing: it clarifies what we owe our spouses in marital love; what we owe it to them not to share with others; and what we could share now
    Just think about. Already in our society, when we see two men or two women in a close, intimate friendship, don't we tend to assume that it is sexual in nature? This was certainly not always the case.  Throughout history, men and women have enjoyed close friendships with others of their own gender, often while also enjoying a marital relationship with their opposite-sex spouse. With the “new norm”, we are conflating the two very-different types of relationships, while potentially undermining both our friendship and marital relationships.

    4. Redefining marriage will almost certainly lead to the erosion of monogamy and permanence.  These "marriage mainstays" have served civilization well for thousands of years, giving stability to homes for millennia.  Girgis, Anderson, and George put it this way in their Wall Street Journal article, “The Wisdom Of Upholding Tradition,”

    ...if two men can marry, or two women, then what sets marriage apart from other bonds must be emotional intensity or priority. But nothing about emotional union requires it to be permanent. Or limited to two. Or sexual, much less sexually exclusive.
    Because of the nature of homosexual relationships, promiscuity likely will become the norm and lifetime relationships even less likely among heterosexuals. Let's look at the following statistics as provided by the Family Research Council:
    • The 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census surveyed the lifestyles of 7,862 homosexuals. Of those involved in a "current relationship," only 15 percent describe their current relationship as having lasted twelve years or longer, with five percent lasting more than twenty years.
    • Research indicates that the average male homosexual has hundreds of sex partners in his lifetime:The Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a steady partner had an average of eight sexual partners per person.
    • Bell and Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having one thousand or more sex partners
    • In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years: Only seven couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years.
    When we redefine marriage based solely on the intensity of the relationship, we have broken down every barrier that would keep marriage as an exclusive relationship between two people. In “What Is Marriage,” the authors quote prominent proponents of “same-sex marriage”, who unabashedly describe the agenda beyond gay marriage:

    Consider the norm of monogamy. Judith Stacey—a prominent New York University professor who is in no way regarded as a fringe figure, in testifying before Congress against the Defense of Marriage Act—expressed hope that the revisionist view’s triumph would give marriage “varied, creative, and adaptive contours . . . [leading some to] question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.”In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than three hundred “LGBT and allied” scholars and advocates—including prominent Ivy League professors—call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners. University of Calgary Professor Elizabeth Brake thinks that justice requires us to use legal recognition to “denormalize heterosexual monogamy as a way of life” and correct for “past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists, and care networks.

    Is this argument just a “slippery-slope” scare tactic used by traditional marriage advocates like myself to scare people needlessly about what these non-traditional arrangements might lead to? Not hardly. Consider this: In December, 2013, A Utah judge handed down the first pro-polygamy ruling in Utah in 130 years. The judge favored the “Sister Wives” family of one man, four wives, and seventeen children over the government. The reality-star “husband” of the “Sister Wives,” Kody Brown, told ABC News, I think that anybody should be able to organize their family according to how they choose.”

    Nationally syndicated radio-host and author Dennis Prager made the following statement in his latest article, “Judges,Hubris, and Same-sex Marriage,”

     If American society has a “constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,” then there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.
    It should be obvious to any rational person, that children raised in households with multiple male or female partners or in households where the parents have multiple sexual relationships outside of marriage are not being raised in a stable home environment. This will have multiple societal repercussions as we deal with further erosion of the marriage ideals.
    5.  Redefining marriage will have a serious impact on the religious liberties and First Amendment rights of those who don't agree. We've already seen how those in favor of redefining marriage are willing to use the coercive force of law to marginalize and penalize those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Consider these examples
    • A New Mexico photographer who declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony due to her religious beliefs was hauled before a state human rights commission--even though plenty of other photographers were available.
    • Christian charities in Massachusetts, Illinois and Washington, D.C. were forced to stop providing adoption and foster care services because they wanted to place children with married moms and dads, in accordance with their religious and moral beliefs.
    • A Washington state florist respectfully declined to design floral arrangements for a same-sex couple's wedding ceremony because of her religious beliefs. Though many other florists were available, the state's attorney general has sued the florist.
    • Owners of a bed and breakfast in Illinois who declined to rent their facility for a same-sex civil union ceremony and reception were sued for violating the state nondiscrimination law
    In this latter case, Georgetown University law professor Chai Feldblum, an appointee to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, argues that the push to redefine marriage trumps religious liberty concerns:

    [F]or all my sympathy for the evangelical Christian couple who may wish to run a bed and breakfast from which they can exclude unmarried, straight couples and all gay couples, this is a point where I believe the “zero-sum” nature of the game inevitably comes into play. And, in making that decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people.
    The pace to get “on the right side of history” has increased at a breathtaking rate in just the last few months. In fact, a recent New York Times article quoteAndrew M. Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern in saying“It is becoming increasingly clear to judges that if they rule against same-sex marriage their grandchildren will regard them as bigots.” Earlier this month, a judge in Virginia struck down a same-sex marriage ban in that state that even the New York Times in the above article stated was “marked by haste.” Her rational for the haste? “When core civil rights are at stake,” she said, “the judiciary must act.”
    So it is now a “core civil rights issue” Judges are afraid of being characterized as bigots. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote, “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.”
    This impetus to label opponents of the effort to redefine marriage as "bigots"  receives its impetus from an effort to conflate same-sex marriage with the 1960's ban against interracial marriage, though there is no similarity except the word “marriage.” As Dennis Prager puts it, “..the analogy is false because there is no difference between black people and white people, while there are enormous differences between males and females.”  
    Ryan T. Anderson makes the following point in his Heritage Foundation paper, "Marriage:What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”
    Promoting marriage does not ban any type of relationship: Adults are free to make choices about their relationships, and they do not need government sanction or license to do so. All Americans have the freedom to live as they choose, but no one has a right to redefine marriage for everyone else....
    Some might appeal to historical inevitability as a reason to avoid answering the question of what marriage is—as if it were an already moot question. However, changes in public opinion are driven by human choice, not by blind historical forces. The question is not what will happen, but what we should do.
    The choices we make in this issue, will not only affect us, but generations of Americans after us.  With the rush to get on "the right side of history," we are disregarding the staggering implications of our choices which will undermine the very foundations of the great society in which we live.


    Following is the first of an earlier series on marriage that I wrote last year:





    Thursday, February 13, 2014

    Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 1

     I continue my series here in support of the traditional view of marriage. Here are links to the first article “What Is Marriage?” and to the second article “Five Biblical Reasons to Support Traditional Marriage.

    While I am a Christian and I get my values largely from my understanding of the Christian scriptures, I certainly realize that I live in a pluralistic society. There was a time in American history when the vast majority of U.S. citizens held these views, but that is no longer true. Because of this, I understand that an argument for the traditional view of marriage and against the revisionist view of marriage (as defined in my earlier article, “What Is Marriage?”) based solely on the Bible won't go very far with a lot of people in this increasing secular society. But is there a secular argument to be made for traditional marriage that all of us, no matter what our religious (or non-religious) affiliation may be? I certainly think so.

     In their book What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense,” as well as in their Wall Street Journal article “The Wisdom Of Upholding Tradition”, Princeton's Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan T. Anderson make the following observation concerning the traditional or conjugal view of marriage:
    “...marriage unites a man and woman holistically—emotionally and bodily, in acts of conjugal love and in the children such love brings forth—for the whole of life. These insights require no particular theology. Ancient thinkers untouched by Judaism or Christianity—including Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Musonius Rufus, Xenophanes and Plutarch —also distinguished conjugal unions from all others. Nor did animus against any group produce this conclusion, which arose everywhere quite apart from debates about same-sex unions. The conjugal view best fits our social practices and judgments about what marriage is.”
    The course that we are about to embark on has no roots in any thinking society. Like the diver jumping off the high dive without checking to see if there is any water in the pool below, we are foolishly hurling ourselves headlong into something in the name of “fairness” and “equality” without any regard to the long-term ramifications of our actions.

    There are a number reasons that we should pause and consider these actions and what they could mean for our society and the societies around us. I have chosen five, but there could be many more. We'll cover the first two in this article, starting with what should be one of the most obvious:

     1.  Redefining marriage is harmful to children.  Decades of research show that children do better with a mom and a dad than any other arrangement. By redefining marriage as any two people, regardless of gender, who love each other, we are making a statement as a society that fatherhood and motherhood are interchangeable. In fact, our own government, while speaking out of one side of it's mouth in favor of “same-sex marriage,” continues to speak out of the other side of it's mouth about the importance of fatherhood. Consider this quote from an article on the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services website:

    A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood. "Fathers are far more than just 'second adults' in the home," he says. "Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring."Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children”...(There is a positive) connection between fathers and child outcomes, including cognitive ability, educational achievement, psychological well-being, and social behavior. (This) also underscores the impact of the father and mother's relationship on the well-being of their children.”

    This article (I find it amazing that it is still up on their website) goes on to cite a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study which found that “highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly A's and 33 percent less likely than other children to repeat a grade.”

    Also, citing the same study, this article states that
    “...children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self-esteem. In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior

    Now, it should go without saying that a child raised by two women does not have a biological father in the home as is inherently deprived of the benefits of an involved father. However, at this point the argument is often made that by making this claim we are taking a swipe at single parents by saying that their parenting is somehow substandard. This is obviously not true. While many children may survive and some may even thrive in a fatherless home, it would be foolish to say that this is the optimal condition that we would want all kids to be placed in. Although not every home may have the benefit of an involved father, we should strive to make sure that the highest number of children possible may have this benefit.”



    Even President Obama, who famously has “evolved” into a “same-sex marriage' advocate, made this statement last year about his own fatherless upbringing. 
    “There are "heroic" single mothers across the country, but at the same time, I wish I had had a father who was around and involved...Building strong communities and a strong economy "starts at home," Obama said, adding that "there's no more important ingredient for success -- nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence -- than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood."
    I couldn't have put it better myself! 

     As Girgis, Anderson, and George puts it:

    If same-sex relationships are recognized as marriages, not only will the norms that keep marriage stable be undermined, but the notion that men and women bring different gifts to parenting will not be reinforced by any civil institution. Redefining marriage would thus soften the social pressures and lower the incentives—already diminished these last few decades—for husbands to stay with their wives and children, or for men and women to marry before having children. All this would harm children’s development into happy, productive, upright adults.”


    Finally, I think any single father trying to raise a child by himself would testify to the fact that it is a supreme struggle to raise a child without a mother. Two men raising a child together, though both may love that child tremendously, are simply not able to give the child (or children) the same nurturing benefit that an involved mother can.  This isn't sexism.  It's just a fact.

    2.Redefining marriage will bring great harm to society as a whole.  Our society is already overburdened with the fallout from the breakdown of the family.  Redefining marriage will only accelerate that breakdown.

    The National Fatherhood Initiative, an organization that President Obama (to his credit) strongly supports, released the results of a 2008 study on the cost to society of fatherlessness, entitling the results “The One Hundred Billion Dollar Man.” Among their findings were that “the Federal Government spent at least $99.8 billion providing assistance to father-absent families in 2006.” Since the advent of the Great Recession, that number has certainly been on the rise.

    Girgis, Anderson, and George puts it this way in their Wall Street Journal article:
    ...at issue is government expansion. Marital norms serve children, spouses, and hence our whole economy, especially the poor. Family breakdown thrusts the state into roles for which it is ill-suited: provider and discipliner to the orphaned and neglected, and arbiter of custody and paternity disputes.
    In her article, "Privatizing Marriage Will Expand the Role of the State," Jennifer Roback Morse makes the following argument:
     If you try to do marriage and parenthood by trial and error, you can...wreak a lot of damage. This pretty much has been the story of the past fifty years. Every “increase of freedom” turned out to be another episode of lawlessness. No-fault divorce, out-of-wedlock childbearing, and the early sexualization of children, all seemed like good ideas at the time..but lawlessness turned out to impose constraints of its own...And who generously and kindly steps in to clean up the mess? Why, the state, of course. The government now involves itself in people’s private lives far more than it ever did in the dreaded fifties.”
    She goes on to describe the results of the policies of “The Lifestyle Leftists,” who:
    “not surprisingly, are precisely the people who want to remove the last remaining structural feature of marriage, by declaring it to be genderless... They are not giving the slightest thought to the new incentives these policies would put in place, or the whole sequence of changes they would set into motion.”
    The Family Research Council sums it up this way:
    “In situations where families have broken up due to divorce, government involvement usually increases. A study by the left-leaning Brookings Institution found that, between 1970 and 1996, $229 billion in welfare expenditures could be attributed to social problems related to the breakdown of marriage...By promoting strong marriage and intact families, the government actually reduces the role it would otherwise play in fulfilling these social functions. It is in the interest of children, spouses, and the public to promote strong and enduring marriages...

    The serious problem of the breakdown of marriage will only accelerate with the adoption of a revisionist view of marriage. Redefining marriage makes marriage about adult desires instead of the needs of children, making the culture less conducive to producing stable, intact homes. We should indeed rebuild and restore marriage, not undermine it by redefining it's meaning.



    To continue to Part 2, click below:




    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    Five Biblical Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage

    I continue my series here on why I support the traditional view of marriage. Here's a link to my first post: "What Is Marriage?"

    As a Christian, I look at the Bible as the final authority on issues that might affect my life and the society around me. It is the bedrock of my belief, and of countless millions around the world. Though this holiest of books has been subject to scorn and ridicule through the ages, it's truths have stood the test of time for millennia, while those who disparaged it have died and faded into obscurity. 

    Unfortunately, many who profess the name of Christ don't know what the book that was written of Him even says. Because of this, they are wide open to misinformation about the truths of God's word, and they often fall pray to erroneous interpretations of it in order to fit better into the society around them. This is never more true than the issue of marriage.

    Following are five reasons that I believe that the bible explicitly teaches the traditional view of marriage...that is, that marriage is and can only be a union of a man and a woman:
    1. Marriage is from the very beginning of the Old Testament clearly defined as the union of a man and a woman. After God created Eve to be a companion alongside Adam, the man said...This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." (Genesis 2:23, 24)
    This first mention of marriage in the Bible clearly teaches that it is the joining (both physically and spiritually) of a man and a woman.  It is to be a covenant relationship (see Malachi 2:14) which is permanent and exclusive.  

    2. When God gave His law to Moses and His people Israel, He explicitly excluded every sexual relationship outside of marriage.

    If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death” Lev. 20: 10

    “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” Lev 20:13
    You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” Lev.18:22 
    The argument frequently comes up at this point that we are not under the Mosaic code now and these verses don't apply to us today, any more than the Jewish prohibitions against eating pork or shellfish. However, the truth is that while Christ has set us free from the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Jewish law, the moral components of the law are still in effect today for all people. As a matter of fact, the moral components of the Mosaic law (especially the Ten Commandments, but also other verses as those listed above) form the basis of our legal system in America and that of many other countries. The bottom line is that these verses and many other Old Testament verses clearly show God's original intent for marriage to be exclusively between a man and woman for life. (For a fuller discussion of these points, read this excellent article.)
     3. In the New Testement, Jesus affirmed Genesis 2:23, 24 as God's intention for marriage to be male/female. Jesus did this in response to the Pharisees question regarding divorce:
     ...“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:5, 6)
    The phrase “be joined to” (often translated “cleave”) is from the Greek word “Kollao” which means “to join fast together” or “to glue”. This passage shows not only God's intention that marriage be between a man and a woman, but His expectation that it be permanent. As Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi puts it:

    “In the sight of God, cleaving means wholehearted commitment which spills over to every area of our being. It means to be permanently glued together rather than temporarily taped together. You can separate two pieces of wood taped together, but you cannot separate without great damage two pieces of wood glued together. In fact, two pieces of wood glued together become not only inseparable, but also much stronger than if they were taped together.”

    As a side note (and something I plan to get into in future articles), very few homosexual relationships today or in any other age have featured this type of cleaving, which is permanent and exclusive. As a matter of fact, most don't even see this as something to be desired in their relationship.  (See this article by Dr. Timothy Daily)
     4. Paul repeatedly affirms male/female marriage in his letters as the only sexual relationship acceptable to God.
    For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:26, 27)
     Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders...will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ( I Cor. 6: 9-11)
      ...(the) law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers  and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching...” (I Timothy 1:9, 10)
     These and other New Testament verses completely disallow homosexual relationships as well as any type of adulterous or extra-marital relationships. Yes, it is absolutely true that if any of these relationships have been in our past and we have since come to Christ, we are washed, sanctified and justified from those sins just as we are from any other sin. Praise the Lord!  However, any attempt to portray these relationships as anything other than sinful is certainly not biblical.
     5. Perhaps most importantly, marriage in the Bible is a portrait of Christ and His church, which is His bride:
     Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church...” (Ephesians 5:25-29)
     In this beautiful and important passage, Paul shows the deeper meaning of marriage. God didn't just create marriage only for procreation and enjoyment (although it is certainly for those things as well). He created marriage to be a window into God's heart for His people, the church. Those who have committed themselves to Christ in a covenant relationship are indeed Christ's betrothed, and look for the day in which that marriage is finally consummated.
      Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7)
     And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:2)
     Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21: 9)

    This relationship that we have with Christ here on earth as Christians is only a foretaste of the richer marital relationship we will have with Him in heaven. We are now betrothed to Him as a bride is to her bridegroom. One day, we will know him completely and fully as our husband. What a day that will be!



    To go to the next article in the series, click below:
    Five Secular Reasons To Support Traditional Marriage-Part 1

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