Open Letter to Bishop Richard Wilke

August 30, 2019

Yesterday, my wife sent me a post from her social media feed that she had found on a friends page.  We talked about it for a little bit and then I felt led to write a response to it.  Below is the link to the article I read and then my response follows.  It is a brief reply, because you can literally write books on these issues and verses. I wish I didn’t have to write anything about this topic, but I feel compelled to do so because of the ramifications that will take place if I don’t say anything. I am not harping on this issue alone, there are many areas the church can address. I view it as a continued conversation on the current issues in our culture. I have attempted to remove the log out of my eye first, before I point out someone else’s splinter. I seek to speak the truth in love at all times.  I welcome your comments below.

The Original Article from Bishop Richard Wilke

Gay daughter sent bishop back to Scriptures

 

Dear Rev. Wilke,

I read your article and too am saddened by the issue that is consuming our churches and culture today. But, for a complete different reason than you are. I see the erosion of truth and the authority of God’s Word being changed, diminished, and twisted not by outsiders of the faith, but those from inside. God does hold those who teach and have authority over others in higher regard.   Here are a few thoughts on your article.

First, I think it is very naïve of you to take your daughters “coming out” to not as an issue of influence.  While parents are the most powerful influence on their children, they are not the only influence. Culture, movies, music, and media are a powerful influence on people today.  I believe it was 18th century writer Andrew Fletcher that said “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  

Secondly, you make the statement “Still, I knew I had some work to do. I needed to reconcile my commitment to scriptural authority with loving and accepting my daughter.” In this statement you unknowning contradict yourself. For you cannot keep Scriptural authority if you want to find an alternative interpretation of Scripture that lines up with your “loving acceptance” (perhaps a feeling or experience) of your daughter.  Instead, you should have chosen to reconcile your loving feelings with the authority of Scripture. I believe you may also have convinced yourself of a wrong definition of loving your daughter.  Who says love let’s people do what they want? Statistics show that often those who struggle with same sex attraction or have friends and family that do, will be more likely to find interpretations of the biblical texts that are pro-LGBTQ.  Indeed relationships are a powerful influence on our thoughts and beliefs. I could comment more about this wrong idea of love, but I will move on to the more important part of your article, the Scriptures.

Third, it is true that the Bible does speak “little” about the issue of homosexuality, there is a reason for this. The Bible was written in the shadow of the Genesis narrative with Adam and Eve.  This foundation flows through many of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testament, especially dealing with this issue which I will explain below. There was no need for the Bible to say much about it, Jewish scholars on both sides, conservative and liberal both agreed that it was behavior against God’s design. In fact you will find that no church leader up until the last half of the twentieth century supported it.

The heterosexual relationship/marriage is assumed all throughout the Bible. The Mosaic laws (even 3 of the 10 commandments), the psalms, books of wisdom, the gospels, many of the epistles, all use the corresponding pronouns to a male/female relationship. Not one time is a homosexual relationship spoken of in a positive light.

So now we come to the meat of this debate, the Scriptures.  You are right, context is indeed the key to finding out what is the proper interpretation of these passages. Many people have different “interpretations” of these passages, what stops someone from saying “that’s just your interpretation and I have my interpretation,” is the question, which one is the correct interpretation?

The Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah (from here S&G) is definitely not the strongest passage from which to base an argument against homosexuality, but since you mentioned it I will address it. While the townspeople may have acted inhospitable and in rape and violence, there is clearly more going on here. The men want to “know” the two visitors that are Lot’s guests. We both understand that the word “know” can be taken in different senses, but the context tells the key.  Lot replies to the men of the city,

“I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.”

It would be very strange for Lot’s daughter to not “know” any other men in a sense other than a sexual one. Second, it is important to note that God had already judged the city for destruction, hence His discussion with Abraham (Gen. 18:20), before this inhospitable act. Third, if we are debating what the sin of S&G was that caused destruction it would be rather strange for God to destroy a city for inhospitality or pride alone. But, in the Mosaic Law homosexual acts are punishable by death.

You quoted the Ezekiel passage that talks about S&G but you failed to mention the other two passages that also speak of it. Second Peter 2:4-10 discusses the destruction of S&G. Peter writes in verse 7,

“if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked.”

The key word being “sensual” refer to sexual conduct. Jude 7 also discusses the two Old Testament cities. Jude states,

“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

This passage again points to a sexual immorality, the general term for all sexual sins, and the accompanying destruction. In your quote of the Ezekiel passage, we may get a more detailed account of what was going on with the things that were listed, but you stopped just short of a very telling phrase in the Ezekiel passage.  Ezekiel continues in verse 50,

“They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.”

The word “abomination” is very telling.  It brings up reflections of the Leviticus 18 passage. I will grant that there may have been other sins that were committed by the people of S&G but there is too much evidence that points to a wicked sexual act.

Next you discuss the Leviticus 18 passage and as a good revisionist you point out that Lev. 17-26 is part of the holiness code, intended strictly for Israel to follow and represent Jehovah God before the nations around them.

A closer examination of the chapters will show that Leviticus 18 really stands out differently than the rest of the chapters.  It begins and ends with the Lord reemphasizing a warning to follow the commands listed unlike those in the other chapters. All of the commands deal specifically with sexual sins and the other chapters are more randomized. Aside from the other texts that speak on homosexuality in the New Testament, you should also ask yourself the reason behind the holiness code to begin with. Did God not want Israel to perform child sacrifice to Molech “just because,” or was it perhaps the actual acts that God found detestable themselves. It was not simply a preference as one prefers ice cream flavors, God actually had a reason for commanding Israel not to live and practice as the other nations around them did. At the end of Leviticus 18 we read that God had already judged the other nations for these same practices.

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled” (vv. 24-27).

This seems to point that it was the actual acts themselves that were evil in the eyes of the Lord and not just meant to “raise the bar” in a spiritual moral way.

Turning to the New Testament, you seem to gloss over these verses rather quickly and not even give specific references. Romans 1:26-27 is probably the most telling of the verses in all of Scripture.  Yes, the most common form of homosexuality practiced in the Roman world was the pederasty that was done with an adult man and a young boy around the age of 12. But if you read what Paul says,

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

In the Roman world there was no female equivalent of pederasty, this was only a practice done by the men.  Also the Scripture says “men committed indecent acts with other men.”  Paul did not use the Greek word for a young boy as well. Furthermore, if Paul wanted to condemn the practice of pederasty he could have simply used the separate Greek term for that and not the general term that he used.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul elaborates on a number of sins that those who “practice” (being a key word) these will not inherent eternal life. This is a good time to point out that we all struggle with sin. That is a biblical truth. It is important to point out that nowhere in Scripture does it condemn anyone who is tempted with same-sex attraction. In the same way for someone who is tempted to steal, or use fowl langue, or another temptation.  We do not pick only on one issue and ignore the rest. I understand that for various reasons people struggle with temptations, but we must not give into those temptations, thus committing sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states;

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

In Greek, Paul uses two words that make up our English phrase above “men who practice homosexuality.” Arsenokoitai and malakoi are the two terms that Paul uses.  One for the male active partner and the other for the passive partner. The Greek word Arsenokoitai is connected with the passage from Leviticus 18 from Paul’s use in the passage and can illusions those practices that were described there. There have been articles recently that have tried to soften the language of Scripture. Things like, “The word homosexual was not added into the Bible until recently” and so on.  While this is true on a technicality, it misrepresents what the Greek says. It lists both the active and passive partner in a “homosexual act” and that’s where we have coined the term homosexuality from.  This is similar where people would say the word “trinity” is not in the Bible or “inerrant” but at the same time the words describe it to be the equivalent word used today.  There is much more that could be elaborated on with the Greek but I will move on to another issue in this article.

And finally, we come to Jesus and His teaching and what He did and did not address.  It is a bad argument to say that Jesus never discussed XYZ and so XYZ must be permissible. There are a lot of things that Jesus never discussed. Grand thief auto, internet pornography, and so on. I have already mentioned above why I believe the Bible (including Jesus) doesn’t speak more on this issue but Jesus did affirm the Genesis creation account between a man and woman in Matthew 19.

Many have quoted Jesus’s interactions with the sinners, tax collectors, and the women of the street. They quickly point out that His love for them was far and above what the religious leaders of the day had shown to them. I agree with you, Mr. Wilke, that we should all strive to imitate Christ in this manner. I would even agree that some Christians have been right out mean and hateful to the LGBTQ community and that is wrong. But, that doesn’t mean that we change what Scripture plainly teaches in order to change the behavior of some Christians who need a lesson on manners and just being friendly.

At the same time, pro-LGBTQ friendly Christians don’t seem to read the whole story of Jesus ministry. He did tell the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more.” He did heal people, invite them, but he also told them to leave there life of sin. I recently saw a quote by Sinclair Ferguson,

“It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather He accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Nor does He leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His son.”

Many authors like Matthew Vines, Justin Lee have written in their books about the “bad fruit” that they believe Christians are producing when they do not accept the lifestyles of the LGBTQ community. They connect the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with this same idea but they are missing Jesus point about what real fruit actually is.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-23,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

 

Notice that Jesus started out by pointing out the false prophets were the ones who produced bad fruit. What is the good fruit that Jesus is talking about here? It is found in the last verses 21-23, “he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Obedience to God’s commands is the good fruit we should aim for. Not an obedience out of fear or to earn salvation.  It is a gift of grace, but obedience out of love for God who has done so much for us that we want to love Him back. This love toward God says, I am a sinner, I need to let Christ transform me and make me more like his character and his teachings. I yield my weakness, my struggles, and my desires to the one who gave me eternal life and saved me from my sins.

I pray that you may consider these Scriptures again and place God’s Word as the top authority over your life as I do. We can still love LGBTQ family, friends, and people that we all may interact with and have a candid conversation with them.

Humbly,

John W.

 

 

 


Culture and the Beast

March 7, 2017

Beauty-and-the-Beast.jpgAs you may have heard, for the first time, Disney has produced a live-action film with a gay character.  Social media and blog sites will be filled with comments about it for the next weeks.  Coming off a great apologetics conference this weekend I am more assured than ever that how biblical Christianity responds to the film, Disney and others is as important as what words of truth we respond with.

I am not exactly sure what our response should be, but it should not be any different that how we respond to other sinful behaviors.  If you feel convicted to boycott Disney and their products you might want to be careful who you tell.  Are you prepared to keep your word even after the hype dies down?  A person without Christ may not understand your motives and modifying a person’s behavior should not be our first concern, their salvation is. Not to mention it is not our job, it is the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a silent boycott would be better and reconsider not uploading the video of you running over your Disney movie collection with the lawnmower.

Here are a few thoughts for believers to consider.

  1. Do not be surprised. It has almost been 2 years since SCOTUS ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states.  There are so many other television shows and movies that have already included it for years.  I am surprised that Disney did not join them earlier.  No doubt they considered this earlier and held off for various reasons.
  2. Use this as an opportunity to discuss sexuality and biblical marriage.   Our culture does not hesitate to show a variety of sexual behaviors and parents and Christian educators should be ready to respond to them with biblical truth and existential examples of how the consequences will be played out. I recommend a book by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet  called Same-sex Marriage.  It is a gentle and caring approach that explains what the Bible teaches about homosexuality and how we can respond to others in love.  This same discussion should happen of course with other topics like drugs and alcohol, language, violence, and so on.
  3. Use this to teach others about the power of media.  We all under stand the use of media and the power of suggestion.  Scottish writer Andrew Fletcher once said something close to “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” He knew the power of media in his day and we should also be aware of the messages in ours.  What percentage of Americans claims to be gay?  If you said two or three percent you are correct, but if you guessed much higher it is likely because the media over inflates reality with so many gay characters.  Some will dismiss this movie as just mere fiction, a rewrite of a cartoon classic, or chide you not to take it serous, but even in cartoons aspects of real life can be portrayed and are just as powerful.
  4. Say something, respond.   The worse thing you can do is nothing.  You may be tempted to just be quiet for a number of reasons.  You don’t want to lose your social media friends, you do not know what to say, or maybe you are apathetic and figure what is the use, we can’t stop the huge cultural wave that hits the shoreline again and again.If your friends unfollow  you it might be because they really were not that close to you after all, maybe you responded too harshly, or they are too easily offended. Just keep posting the cute kitten videos!  There are many negatives that come with social media that should be avoided.  It is better to speak to smaller groups that are like minded and one on one conversations are really best.  Know where you can speak freely and where you need to guard your tongue carefully around others.If you do not know what to say, this is a clue for you become clued in on this discussion.  Read and research the details so you can have a an intelligent conversation with someone about what you believe and why.  There are great resources that you can download, apps with podcasts to listen to, and a growing Christian resources that we have at our disposal.

    Finally, if you are apathetic about this issue, go ahead slap yourself now and wake up.  You may not be able to stop the oncoming waves hitting the shore but you can keep a lookout for someone to save in the water. It matters to them and you might not be able to save everyone, but you can save one.

I am sure that some will respond with truth by stating biblical verses and facts that support traditional marriage or condemning homosexual behavior.  Others may take the opposite approach and say it is our job to simply love and pray for those who live a homosexual life style.  The apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus to “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:15).  This combination requires us to boldly and lovingly share Scripture with others. We must temper our words so that we are not out to bash someone, win an argument, or defend God as if he needs defending.  Have conversations with people to educate them, to consider a different point of view, or understand a Scripture passage.  It is not only about what we say, but how we say it.

 

Notes:

The NHIS reported in July 2014 that 1.6 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent identify as bisexual.[1] In a Williams Institute review based on an June–September 2012 Gallup poll, approximately 3.4 percent of American adults identify themselves as being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender).


The Hunger Games and Christianity

April 23, 2012

I saw the hunger games last weekend on a date night with my wife and then again this weekend with my daughter.  Even though I haven’t read the book yet, I had seen the previews and it looked interesting and full of action.  It did not disappoint, and I enjoyed the movie both times.

WARNING: If you haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet I want to warn you that I might be sharing some spoiler information that would ruin your plans to enjoy it first.

The movie overall seemed to be making a statement about control and power in life.  It would be interesting to look up the author, Suzanne Collins and see what her views were about different subjects in politics, religion, and life.  I wonder what kind of statement she is attempting to make about our current culture.  I think there are several angles at which you can take the scenes and lines and interpret them a certain way.  You could make an argument for the voice of the media today, perhaps a political statement, you can draw a parallel between the different economic classes, and a few other topics I’m sure.  Today I want to address the Hunger Games and my Christian faith, since I relate everything to my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ why not relate a movie and see what conversations we can stir up.

The first thing I want to bring up is the general idea for the Hunger Games all together.  The idea that one day in our future we might find ourselves in some similar situation with a twisted goal of survival to the death as a reality game seems so foreign to me, but then I question, could we find ourselves as a culture doing something like that in the future?  Will Survivor go into its 50th season with a shocking new twist?  I hope not!  Pondering the Hunger Games I think that this type of behavior that we credit back to the gladiators of Rome, but I have to say that I don’t think we as humans, still value life much more than we did thousands of years ago.  Sure our war habits have changed into more modern practices, but the 20th century has been one of the bloodiest centuries since recorded history.  In David Berlinski’s book “The Devils Delusion” Berlinski spends 3 pages totalling up the amount of deaths in just the last century. 1    Dare I even mention the issue of abortion and that since the Roe. v Wade Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in 1973 there has been an estimated 50 million abortions in the US alone.   Yes, I went there.  The right to life is one of the single most important issues for many Christians today.  There is also something to be said about how the tributes are paraded in proudly before the masses weeks before their own deaths.    I’m curious, where do you think we are as a nation, a planet with the value of human life?

The second things that caught my eyes and ears was a conversation that Peeta has with Katniss the night before the games begin.   Petta says

“I don’t want them to change me in there  Turn me into something I’m not.  I’m sure I’ll kill just like everyone else… only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… show the Capital that they don’t own me, that I’m more than a piece in their Games.  If I’m gonna die, I still want to be me.” 2

As a Christian I often think that we are in a battle not to compromise what we hold to be TRUTH in life and no matter what the rest of the world does or deems acceptable we strive to live our life for God no matter what everyone else does.  There are so many scriptures that speak to this challenge.

Ezekiel, one of God’s prophets warns the city of Jerusalem that they have fallen into a compromise with the nations around them and because they have failed to follow the Lord, the Lord himself will be against them.  (Ezekiel 5:6-8)  Would we rather have it our way, like Burger King or have Almighty God against us?    There is the more-widely known Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” and a few chapters later we are told whom we are to conform to.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29

Mind you that, I am not preaching this blog from some state of perfection.  The process to conform to the likeness of the Son, Jesus is a life-long journey.  One filled with many traps and snares that I have fallen into before.  I am a nobody, just trying to help anybody find the peace and joy in life on the way to eternal life with God.  I am thankful for the help that God gives me in the journey.  He doesn’t just leave me to my own.

1 Corinthians 10:13 the Bible promises us “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a wayout so that you can stand up under it.”

The last thing I will mention is this post is at the very beginning of the movie where the tributes are chosen in the Reaping.  All the teens that are of the appropriate age are herded to the Reaping where a boy and girl of each district are chosen by the people of the Capital.  Katniss has a sister named Primrose who was chosen to represent the 12th district and in a move of compassion, Katniss runs forward and volunteers to take her place.  According to the law, someone had to be chosen as a tribute from each district, and it was strictly enforced every year, for the past 75 years.  No doubt you can see the great parallel between mankind and God.  God is Holy and Just and must punish sin.  It is His law.  As Jesus stepped forth and left His Heavenly home to volunteer His own self to be willing to die for all of mankind.  I would encourage you to grab you Bible and read Philippians 2:3-11.  It is a great picture of what Jesus Christ did for us.

There are more things I would love to bring out, perhaps in another post later.  If you have some other thoughts relating the Hunger Games to the Christian worldview or your faith, please feel free to add them.  As always questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.

End Notes:

1. Berlinski, David – The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretenses, pages 22-24

2. Collins, Suzanne – The Hunger Games, pages 171-172


It’s My Pleasure

November 18, 2011

I love Chic-Fil-A.  I love the food and the company and what they stand for.   Across from my church where I serve as student minister is a Chic-Fil- A that I visit at least once a week, not counting the stops for coffee in the morning.  Over the years I have gotten to know the people who work there and build some relationships with the people.  Our church even opens up the church for Colby and the leadership team to meet about every two weeks.   The church staff has nick-named the Chic-Fil-A across the street “The Birthing Place” because we also use their store to have meetings with people over a coke or lunch.  We share Christ with people outside the church walls and some are “born” into a new relationship with Christ there.  Well, if you have been to a Chic-Fil-A in the last 3-4 years you know that their signature saying is “It’s my pleasure!”  It was something the company started several years back and has stayed with them since.  It shows a willingness to serve the customer and it not just words from what I have witnessed over the years, it is something that they employees model.

One day a few weeks ago I was in my thinking mode and I had a thought about their phrase and what might be the impact of the customers because of it.  What is it saying to the customer?  I know that it is a way that Chi-Fil-A is trying to make the dinning experience more enjoyable and to make the customer want to come back.  They were not the first company to bring the idea to the public.  Years ago Burger King started their slogan “Have it your way.”  I remember a  time when businesses were not so forth coming with their service.  If you bought a milkshake and then your child spilled it on the floor you actually had to go buy another one yourself.  (GASP!!)  Imagine that?  You actually had to have a little personal responsibility.   It wasn’t long after one company started the extreme service that others had to follow, or be left behind.  What am I talking about?  In one word: Entitlement.

America has become a land of Entitlement.  Freedom has been translated into FREE!  People used to ask for things, now they demand them.  (Believe me I could tell you some stories!!)  Listening to the radio a few days ago, I heard the statistic that 47% of people in the United States don’t pay any federal taxes AND many of them get money from the government.  I could go back and give examples of the social welfare programs but I don’t want to bore you.  I will point out that while many people complain that their Social security is not much to live on, most of them will receive multiple times more than they paid into it over the years.  It’s not just the senior adults to.  We have raised a generation of young people who do not appreciate what they do have.  The year I graduated high school Georgia started a Lottery and a college scholarship program called HOPE.  If you had a 3.0 or higher GPA the state would pay 100% of your college tuition.  Earlier this year the state had to cut back on the moneys they were giving to keep the program alive.  They had to cut the 100% to 93%.  If your GPA was 3.8 or higher you still got 100% from the state.   People protested in front of the capital, they were interviewed by TV and Radio and you would have thought that they had closed all the colleges up and their was no way they could go to college now.

Two months ago another chapter in the Entitlement book was being written, this chapter is called Occupy Wall Street. Groups of people gathered on Wall Street to protest cooperate greed, and a few hundred other things they didn’t agree with.  Soon the movement spread throughout cities around America as they began to occupy parks in cities everywhere.   The news coverage has not been dull when occupy Wall Street comes up.  There have been a number of actions that I won’t get into except to name a few like, using the bathroom on an American flag and a police car, public nudity, public sex, violence and confrontations with police around the different cities, looting, rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and at this point one death in Oakland, CA.   I’ve only just scratched the surface with the list above.

So who are these people?  According to a survey of Zuccotti Park protesters by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, 2/3 were younger than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents.

On Oct. 10 and 11, the polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland interviewed nearly 200 protesters. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, 98% would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and 31% would support violence to advance their agenda. Most are employed; 15% are unemployed. Most had supported Obama; now they are evenly divided. 65% say government has a responsibility to guarantee access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement. They support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary.

Radio talk show host Neil Bortz among others has pointed out that the vast majority of these OWS protesters are young and have not had a taste of the real world.  “They have been told” ” Neil continues “that they are all winners, and no one is a loser all their life.  There are no soccer game lossers, because we can’t afford to hurt their self-esteem.  Then when they get out of school and into the real world they revolt because nothing they have been told in life is true.”  He adds that they all have lap tops, smart phones, and the latest gadgets, but yet they claim they are poor.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.  We could talk about the prospective from which the “me” generation and how that if you live in America you are among the top 7 percent richest in the world.  They could sell their laptops and smart phones and help feed a family for a year in another country.  We could talk about the messy morality that this is an example of.  How the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind is running wild because people have abandoned the church and godly principles.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 says ” 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”  Sounds like it was written yesterday doesn’t it?

So how do you fight back against this Entitlement mentality?  Start by changing the way you personally entitle people around you.  It’s good to give someone something, but it’s even better to teach them to provide something for themselves.   It all starts with one.  Jesus told us that we will always have the poor with us on the earth, but if we start teaching people how to fish rather than giving them a fish the situation will turn around again.  Those that have can help take care of the smaller amount of those who really need help.   If you make a mistake, own up to it, be personally responsible for your own actions.  Don’t count on someone else picking up the tab for your mistake.  Vote, put people in office that will help control the growing problem of entitlement.   There are ways that we can slowly began to pull back on the throttle of entitlement that will still allow those that are receiving it now to ween themselves off part of what they get.

If you have any more suggestions or ideas please feel free to leave a comment.  As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


The Bible and Slavery

November 17, 2011

I recently had a conversation with someone about the issue of slavery in the Bible.  He expressed that it was one issue that kept him from believing that the Bible was inspired by God.   I thought I would use the conversation as a blog post and not let the research I have done go to waste.

I have heard other objections and questions on slavery before.  Some of the typical things said are; If slavery is objectively wrong, why would God allow it?  God command the Israelite people to take slaves.  Christians in the southern United States had slaves and used the Bible to justify their actions.  The Bible never says that slavery is wrong.   As I mentioned before in a previous post that most of these are Straw Man arguments that misrepresent the truth of the matter.   Here is what the Bible does say about slavery.

First, we must realize that slavery was not God’s original intent for mankind.  We see this in another issue that was raised to Jesus in Matthew 19:3-8.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”  “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

Perplexed by the first answer that Jesus gave them, they asked Jesus about the laws of Moses that concerned divorce.  Jesus response was to the heart of the issue and pointed to the source of the problem, the harden hearts of the people.  God’s original design was for no one to experience divorce, but since the fall and the sinful nature of man, God gave Moses rules to help protect the people involved in the divorce.  The same principle can be applied to slavery as well.  Slavery was not God’s original plan from the beginning, but because of men’s sinful nature, God gave rules to help regulate and protect those who were slaves.

Secondly, the Biblical idea of slavery is not the same as African slavery that most Americans think about.  Leviticus 25:25-55 outlines the laws that God set for Israel to follow concerning someone who owed a debt and could not pay it.  God allowed them to sell themselves voluntarily and work off their debt.  The person who bought them could only keep them for a maximum of 7 years and then they had to let them go free, regardless if the debt was paid off or not.   I won’t go into all the details you can read it for yourself, but God set rules up concerning slavery after it had already been in practice so that people would not be taken advantage of by others.  The first slaves in the Bible came from Ham, one of the sons of Noah.

Not only was Biblical slavery or being a bond-servant voluntary but we know that they were not treated like slaves in America or other parts of the world with the respect of harshness and physical violence.  Many of the slaves were treated just like family and friends.  They were given positions of leadership in the home over children and possessions.  The story of Joseph is a great example in Genesis 39.  Realizing that not everyone might not treat their purchased slaves as they should, God also set up laws concerning the treatment and protection of the slaves.   Deuteronomy 23:15-16 says “If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. 16 Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.”  This gave the slaves a way out of the arrangement if they were being treated unfairly.  In Exodus 21:16 God strictly forbid the kidnapping of an individual and selling them as a slave.  In the same chapter, God also declared that if even an owner hits a slave and damages as little as an eye or tooth, that the slave can go free and the debt is canceled.  As you can see this is vastly different from the African slavery that was practiced by those in America and other parts of the world.

The most popular verses that are used by those who argue against the Bible are found in Leviticus 25:44-48.

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.  47 “‘If an alien or a temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien’s clan, 48 he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him:

Those who argue against the Bible will use this verse claiming that God commanded or gave permission to Israel to take slaves from the other nations around them.  The way the words are used make it look like that is the intent, but the truth is the scripture is not taken in context and if you look at the surrounding text and the language you can come to the correct meaning.  First, God has just laid out the laws concerning treating their own countrymen as slaves and warned them to treat them not like a slave at all, because they are Abraham’s children.  When the scripture says that they may keep the slaves from another country for life, it only meant beyond the 7 years maximum because they were not part of the nation of Israel.  When the debt was paid off the slave could go free.    In verse 44, the word “come” literally translates from the Hebrew word meaning “that exist” this makes the implication of the verses read differently. It would appear that God was referring to the slaves they already had possession of.  To further add a nail in the coffin, when you look at this verse in context with all the other verses that we have examined you can’t interpret it as a command to take slaves, because God has already spoken against it.  The idea that scripture interprets scripture is in play here.

One last objection that I have recently heard was that if God was an omniscient God, He would have know how people would have misused God’s Word to defend and justify horrific versions of slavery, Why didn’t God say or do something to stop it by including it in the Bible.  Yes, he would know that men would pervert his original design for life, but the question I have is would God break the free will He gives to man to stop the horrific treatment of a slaves.  I believe the answer is No.  We do know that any one can twist the Bible to make it sound like it supports their point of view on an issue.  It is easy to take one verse or a group of verses and single it out to read like you want it to.  Unfortunately, the slavery that was practiced  by the Christians in the southern United States was wrong, and those who were Christians didn’t bother to look at what the word of God had to say about the issue.  They were wrong.   At the same time there were also many other Christians who knew that it was wrong and choose not to participate.  Truth be told in history, it was the Christians who sought to free the slaves in England and America.  A popular Christian minister, William Wilberforce was one of the ones leading the charge in England.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


Atheism and Morals

November 11, 2011

If  you missed the first blog about morals and God you can click here and read it if you want to gain an understanding of morals from a Biblical view-point.  In my second blog about God, Morals, and Atheism I want to talk about the way that atheism views morals.    I want to be careful to describe their view of morals correctly because then I want to test it with some questions. After reading books by atheists and talking with them this is what I have found in general about what they believe about morals.

Since most atheists ascribe to Darwin’s theory of evolution, it would not surprise you to find that they believe morals have evolved as well.   They use the example of animals that have a basic conscience that can show fear and shame with their actions.  One website explains “Morals are, basically, the rules by which our social groups function. They ensure that things are reasonably fair and that relationships run reasonably smoothly. Social groups simply wouldn’t survive without rules, so the evolution of the ability to create and follow rules should be expected.”   Atheists also claim that morals have evolved over time and this proves that moral evolution is true.  They claim that we no longer follow the morals of the Bible like slavery, treatment of women, and war.

From here there is a divide about how some atheists see the individual evolution of morals.  Some insist that morals as an individual trump the morals of a society.  Others see it the opposite way around that in order to survive as an individual, humans somehow find it in their best interest to work together as a society to survive.  In the late 19th Century most atheists seem to take the individual viewpoint of morals.  Atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche remarks “Equality is lie concocted by inferior people who arrange themselves in herds to overpower those who are naturally superior to them.  The morality of ‘equal rights’ is herd morality and because it opposes the cultivation of superior individuals, it leads to the corruption of the human species.”   New atheists like Sam Harris who are seeking to find a naturalistic view of morals, look more toward the influence of the culture as to defining the morals of an individual.  In his book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins uses 4 main ideas that can create a cultural view of morality.  They are altruism, kinship, reputation, and fear of punishment/desire for reward.  But both Dawkins and Harris admit that natural will give little help in cultural morals because the individual will fight against other individuals.  There seems to be an evolution of the way things are explained as it comes to morals.  Others might call this a change of mind.

What about the claims of atheists?  Are we really not that much different from all the other animals?  Have morals changed from the times of the Bible?  How do morals evolve?  All that being said, these are some questions that I believe need to be answered and I have difficulties that I have found with the idea of evolutionary morality.  Here are a few thoughts.

1. Are humans really not that much different from the animals?  Darwinism would have you think not, but one look around at the world tells the real story.  Biologist have been experimenting with primates for years, trying to teach them sign language, teach them behaviors, and more, but the best that can be observed is a mimicking of human behavior for a short time for a reward.  Animals are still called the savage beasts for a reason.

2. What about the claim that morals have changed over time?  The idea that we are no longer the selfish individuals of the past or of the Bible?  One look at the last century will tell you that indeed we are not becoming more morally evolve.  The 20th century was the bloodiest centuries of in history.  David Berlinski, in his book The Devils Delusion, outlines all the wars that have been fought and the number of deaths that been as result.  The numbers are over 160 million total.  The Biblical view of slavery is a bit of a straw man argument and was never anything like the African slave trade of the recent century. There is still mistreat meant of women today, perhaps as much as there was in history.  Take a look at the issue of sex-preference abortions that take place in China and India because families don’t want a female child they will terminate the pregnancy in order to try to have a boy. Also just  take a listen to a few Hip Hop songs and you will understand what some people still think of women.  Since the rise of atheists in the 19th century, as far as evolving morals, I see things actually getting worse, not better.

3. How do morals evolve?  This is perhaps the biggest leap concern I have with evolutionary morality.  How does a cell produce thought, a conscience, or morals?  Naturalists who argue for evolution want to say the brain is so highly developed, which it is, and it gets to the point where conscience is born.  This is not the traditional view of the human mind and body that are separate and that the human soul exists separate of the body.   Atheists want to argue that some how, the matter created the mind.  They try to explain it with the complexity of the brain and the long time that has passed to allow slow changes to create a mind.  But, no matter how complex something is, or how much time might pass, cells don’t grow feelings, atoms don’t feel things.  Science has no explanation for this as of yet, perhaps they might in the future, but I doubt it.   There is more to add to the brain/mind discussion but I will save those for another post.

4. There is also another area in morals that has a wide range of thoughts by atheists.  It is the question, Are morals objective?  From a Biblical perspective the answer is an easy, yes.  The Christian worldview has no issues with objective morals or right and wrong because they come from a transcendent God who sent the standard.  On the atheist side of the coin there is wide debate between atheists.  If you ask an atheist whether Rape or child abuse, which is a current topic in the news with Penn State, is objective wrong, they will most likely say yes, it is universally observed as wrong.  They may however be hesitant to say yes because they cannot explain where this universal moral comes from.

I will address some other thoughts related to morals in the near future.  As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


God, Morals, and Atheism

November 6, 2011

Over the last few weeks I have entered into the discussion of morals with a few atheists.  The subject of morals is a hot topic of late with the new atheists that are contending for an evolutionary answer to morals.  What I want to do through a series of posts is break down the moral debate and examine it from the Christian worldview and a naturalistic position.  After looking at both views I hope you will see that one side is coherent and the other side lacks the internal strength to stand on its on.  I will do my best not to give a strawman’s argument from the side of naturalism, but I should point out that there is a disagreement among naturalists in some of the areas concerning morals.  I will get into the specifics of the disagreements in the next post.

First before I give you the Christian worldview on morals I wanted to make a few concessions based on my Biblical beliefs about humanity and some misunderstandings that some may have about what the Bible says about humanity:

1. It is possible for all people on earth to be moral people regardless of their belief in God or not.
2. It is possible for all people to know and recognize morals as good and bad, loving and hateful, etc…
3. Christians are not far and away any better than atheists when it comes to morals. Christians can make right/wrong moral choices just as any human can.

Morals from the Biblical worldview:
In short, I believe that because God exists and created us in His image. (Genesis 1:27) all people have a moral code written on our hearts (Romans 2:10-16) and a free will to choose (Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 25:15, James 4:17) to do whatever our sinful nature desires (Romans 3:23). (Philosophically it would not make sense for God to give is commands that we had no choice but to follow anyway.) I do not see anywhere in real life that contradicts from the Biblical worldview of mankind according to the Bible. Because our morals come from God, a higher transcendent being, I believe that morals are objective and different shades of morals in cultures come from an either purposeful (Romans 1:18-20, 1 Timothy4:2) or ignorant deviation from God’s highest moral law. When looking back at the history of cultures, actions described in the Bible, and their different moral behaviors/acts, I believe it is the people who have chosen to go against the moral law of God and it is not that God changed his moral laws. For example on issues of slavery, racism, and murder we know that God’s laws have stood before the actions of people and their immoral actions. I believe that too many human actions are blamed on God when in fact they are humans who commit these acts. Unfortunately, many people are in error and often claim to speak for God and commit immoral acts from time to time. Lastly I believe that as followers of Christ grow in their understanding of who God is and his word in the Bible it shapes and allows us to change(2 Corinthians 5:17) how we see God’s moral laws. This is why you have a variety of followers of Christ that carry different beliefs.(you will find this in any worldview system, even atheism, people hold different beliefs.) They are slowly transforming (Romans 12:2) into the likeness of Christ. When we as Christians differ it is because we are no longer looking at God’s moral laws, but our own. We must also be careful not to make our subjective opinions absolute moral laws because of personal experiences and how we were nurtured.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.