Tag Archive | society

Can we have hope in the midst of Trump’s (or Obama’s or Clinton’s) “reign”?

How can we as Christians have hope in the midst of the “reign” of political leaders that we dislike or disagree with? We can have hope when we…

understand who is the King
As Christians, the king or President is not our ultimate King, Jesus is. Peter and Paul both lived under Roman rule, which was not the best of situations. Actually, we are told they were both beheaded under Roman rule. There are many other things that we could look at that happened under Roman rule (e.g. slavery, infanticide, public crucifixion, pornography, bisexuality). However, those things were not Peter and Paul’s main concern. Their main concern was Jesus and His gospel and they could find joy in the midst of adversity in the eschatological hope of Christ and His coming Kingdom.

Our hope is in no king here. Our hope is in the King that came and died. Our hope is in that King coming back and setting all things right. Until then, our job is to be faithful representatives of the King that came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Christ is ultimately King! Not Clinton. Not Trump. Read More…

A few thoughts on loving our neighbors…

God is a missionary God. God sent prophet after prophet and even sent His own Son (cf. Matt. 21:33ff). And now Jesus the Son is sending us into the world (Jn. 17:18). The task was dangerous for the prophets and deathly for Jesus. We shouldn’t expect anything less (Christians are the most persecuted group in the world). We were sent into the world, not a Christian conclave. And we were sent into the world not to win the world over to our side but to love the world, to love our neighbor. To implore the world on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). 

We are not to hide in Christian castles, build castles, or lob missiles at the outside world from our castle. The commission from Christ did not include a castle, it included sacrificial—boots on the ground—compassion. God showed His love for us through the amazingly tangible incarnation and cross. There is a sense in which we too can give love flesh.

Read More…

America’s Trump Morality

The difference between Donald Trump and his explicit exploits and many guys on the street is not one of morality. It’s one of power and publicity. Sadly, there are many “average Joe” versions of Donald Trump and Anthony Weiner.[1] I have heard many “men” nearly quote Trump and recount worse exploits in various work environments.

Welcome to America. Welcome to our morality: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pleasure,” wherever and however it might be found. This is our county’s mantra, even if not said in so many words.

Much of the American economy is marketed to our lust. Just look at advertising. We all know it, sex sells. Pornography is a booming market and so, sadly, is sex-trafficking.

To hear that Trump has appeared in XXX films and said a lot of bad and very inappropriate stuff is sad. But, it is sadly not surprising.

Are we really shocked by Trump’s inappropriate comments? No. Concerned? Yes.

“Grabbing women by…” whatever is, sadly, much of today’s culture. As a culture, we care about the quick and exciting. We care about bursting bosoms and one night stands. We care about quick fixes, porn, and pleasure at someone else’s expense (especially if no one knows and we can get away with it).

We care about having it our way. We care about following our passions, no matter what they are. We care about people’s freedom to do what feels right. We care about the right for no one to tell us what is right.

Pornography, Tinder, and all the advertisements that feed us represent where we are as a country. It represents the underlying desires of much of America. There’s many mainstream magazines and media forms–Men’s HealthGQ, and many musicians and movies (e.g. Fifty Shades of Grey),–that embody Trump’s morals even if they don’t say it outright.

So, are Trump’s words that surprising? For a presidential candidate, it’s unprecedented but it’s not surprising. That’s where we are as a country. Porn use to be something only under people’s beds and available at seedy XXX theaters but now it’s in our pockets, piped into our living rooms, and greeting us on billboards.[2]

Trump is vocalizing what many men view, say, and others often think. Obviously, I don’t agree with Trump. I think it’s sickening. But I also think we as a country have almost lost grounds on which to critique him. I clearly condemn Trump’s actions but I am afraid that much of America’s moral outrage is a hypocritical contradiction: Trump is made in our own image. 

How can America say pornography is perfectly normal and acceptable and yet condemn the person that lives out what is idolized on the screen? You know what I think?! I think that Trump is not the only problem or the biggest problem; he is a harbinger of things to come and an echo of what has gone before. He is a visualization of many people’s secret sins and inner hearts.

Trump is not excused obviously! He is despicable. However, as has been said, “we see that all the time in movies” and we hear it and watch it on our phones. Trump is a problem but he is not the problem. Trump is fruit from what has been sown for quite some time. He is in many ways, I’m afraid, the personification of many people’s dreams.

What is morality after all? Isn’t it might that makes right? And Trump has plenty of “might.” Or if we measure morality by the social construct theory Trump, sadly, wouldn’t be wrong. The social environment has basically said his actions are not wrong time and time again. After all, aren’t we as people just “matter in motion” and isn’t sex just “an exchange of fluids”?[3]

In Trump’s own words “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the @#$*!…” And sadly, that is often true. We often do anything for a star, or for money. And sadly, when someone “consents,” when someone lets someone else do… or whatever, we look at it as okay because there was consent.

Perhaps, we can all agree that it’s a shame that Trump made those comments since it reflects poorly upon the USA and offends some, but from a moral point of view on what foundation can America criticize him?

This, friend, is our world. This is where we are. And most people are fine with it.

However, doesn’t Trump’s example make it clear that it is wrong to ever look at a woman as an object in that way? Don’t we see how depraved his statement is? Don’t we see how debauched much of American society is?!

Women are not objects. Men are not objects. Pornography is wrong. And by implication, much of our advertising is wrong too. And many of us are wrong. It’s not just Trump. It’s the way we look at the Kardashians. It’s the way we idolize sexy bodies and always having it our way. It’s the way we forget what’s right and just want what we want. The problem is not just external (Trump), it’s likely to a large part internal (in our own heart).

America, wake up! We made Trump. We are Trump and Trump is us. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t indulge in licentious sexual “freedom” without the forging of certain “fetters.”

John Adams once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Why did he say that? He said it at least in part because if we are not a moral people, a people who believe in a divinely given morality, then we will elect very corrupt officials. We will create and elect people who reflect our own character.

We will, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, pursue worthlessness, and become worthless (Jer. 2:5).

[[Two Postscripts: Please note that I do not support either candidate. 1) I loathe Hilliary Clinton and her pro-abortion stance (see here for example) and don’t trust her. 2) I don’t trust Trump either. Two verses to consider for those trusting Trump because he will (supposedly) “save” the Supreme Court: Ps. 118:9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes [or their modern equivalent]” (cf. Ps. 146:3) and Ps. 40:4, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud [certain political candidates], to those who go astray after a lie!” These verses are true even when considering such serious subjects as the future of America and unborn babies.]]

______________________

[1] Actually, it is sadly my own disposition. I am myself not beyond struggling with lust. However, by God’s grace, I am not enslaved to it and loathe porn. I have seen the chaos and curse that sexual sin brings to individuals and society through people close to me.

[2] The porn industry is one of the biggest industries and has the largest presence online. In fact, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Pornography is also very potent. I’ve read that it’s as addictive or more addictive as heroin or cocaine. Social media very often, even if it’s not officially labeled pornographic, is teaching and influencing how we think about sex and act out sexually (see e.g. Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis” in The Washington Post).

[3] E.g. Richard Dawkins has said, “There is a bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, not good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA” (Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow)

The Church & Social Responsibility

C.H. Spurgeon said, “Nothing but the Gospel can sweep away social evil… The Gospel is the great broom with which to cleanse the filthiness of the city; nothing else will avail.”[1] Spurgeon experienced the truth of that statement in his city and Scripture attests of its truth over and over again.

Look at Acts 19:18-20 for a prime example of the social change that took place because of the gospel. Also look how faith changed Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He no longer defrauded people but restored fourfold those whom he had defrauded. He also gave half of his belongings to the poor. It should therefore not be our first goal to enact political and social change but spiritual change that takes place through the receiving of the gospel.[2]

If the gospel is truly received social change will follow. I do not believe in the social gospel[3] but the gospel will inevitably bear fruit in the social realm. The gospel is necessarily social; that is, it has unavoidable implications on society. As Carl F. H. Henry has said, “A globe-changing passion certainly characterized the early church… A Christianity without a passion to turn the world upside down is not reflective of apostolic Christianity.”[4] We must show and tell the gospel if there is to be a full and effective presentation.

The Lausanne Committee accurately said this of Christian social responsibility:

“We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all people. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.”[5]

_____________________

[1] C. H. Spurgeon, the soul winner, 247.

[2] Thomas r. Schreiner says, “Jesus did not call for political revolution; he trusted in the power of the word of God (mark 4:28) and focused on the need of the nation to repent and turn to God… what will change society is individuals turning from their sin and committing themselves wholly to God” (Schreiner, new testament theology, 52-53). However, that is not to say that political involvement is wrong (mark 6:14-20; matt. 14:1-12; acts 16:35-39; 24:25; 1 Tim. 2:1-4) only that we should not set our hopes on it. The gospel is the power to salvation and therefore the power to change (cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 cor. 6:9-11). Note, however, that john the baptizer was martyred like many other Christians, for biblically informed political convictions (I think of Bonheoffer and Martin Luther King Jr. Notice, also that they gave their life and did not take life). 

[3] The social gospel movement was a movement started by Walter Rauschenbusch in the early 1900s. It emphases social justice over and against the gospel and has a defective view of the kingdom of God (among other things). Contra the social gospel movement the kingdom of God, though ushered in by Christ’s coming, does not find its fulfillment until Jesus brings it down from heaven. However, in revolting against the social gospel we should not be guilty of revolting against the Christian social imperative (see carl f. H. Henry, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, 22)

We don’t bring in the Kingdom, God does (cf. Rev. 21:1-2; dan. 2:44-45).

However much we try or even succeed in our responsibility to secure greater economic justice, Christians can look beyond this world, with all its tribulations and inequities, to the restoration of all things at Christ’s return (acts 3:21). Our faith is not pinned or limited to humanity’s capacity to share generously; for it is only at the second coming that our full humanness will be restored. This does not mean that we cease our efforts to improve this world however. On the contrary, it is because we cherish the vision of completed humanness in the end that we must all the more promote human dignity today (www.lausanne.org).

[4] Henry, The Uneasy Conscience Of Modern Fundamentalism, 16.

[5] http://www.lausanne.org (italics mine). See: Acts 17:26, 31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Prov. 13:31; Ps. 45:7; Gen. 1:26, 27; James. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27, 35; James. 2:14-26; Jn. 3:3, 5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; 2 Cor. 3:18; James. 2:20.

Christianity is Polarizing

Christianity is polarizing, but why?

Teachers in public schools can’t share a Bible verses with their students, let alone lead a Bible study (at least in Fairfax, VA). However, if they started a club on Plato and Aristotle’s teaching it probably wouldn’t be a problem. Actually, they would probably be able to discuss Mein Kampf and it would be less alarming than Jesus’ command to love our neighbors. 

Why is this the case? Christianity has not proved to be unhealthy for individuals or society (I could make a good argument for the converse though); and there are many people in America (and in Fairfax, VA) that claim to be Christians. A lot more than claim to hold to platonism, for example. 

What makes Christianity polarizing?

The two main things Christians are called to do is love God and love their neighbor. That doesn’t sound so bad. The Bible tells Christians that true religion is to take care of widows and orphans. 

Christianity has had a very important place in starting schools and universities (e.g. Princeton, Harvard, Yale), various hospitals, orphanages, and, of course, chic-fil-a. Christianity brought us the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) which brought us basketball which brought us the NBA… and Jordan… and Lebron…

So, what makes Christianity so polarizing? It seems like it has a lot of good aspects. Actually, Jesus Christ, who Christians worship and follow died for people that hated him; and Christians are called  to love, serve, and sacrifice in the same way that he did. That’s why, for example, medical missions and orphanages sprouted up.

The Bible, the book that Christians follow, is the number one best seller of all time. No matter what people think about the truth claims of the book it is a work of profound literature. Even Richard Dawkins, a staunch atheist and many ways hater of religion, does not deny that it is an important book. 

What causes all the problems when it comes to Christianity? Perhaps it’s that it teaches that we are (all) to love God and love our neighbors. We are (all) called to care for orphans and widows. We are (all) called to love in sacrificial ways.  

Perhaps people appreciate these things but know that they are called to do them but don’t live up to them. Perhaps they feel guilty about it. Perhaps it’s a mixture of things. Perhaps people know that Christianity teaches that all are sinners in need of redemption. 

Perhaps people know that Christianity teaches that all are sinners in need of redemption. Perhaps that’s offensive to some people, even though it seems to be a very empirical reality. 

What do you think? Why is Christianity so polarizing? 

Sin Brings a Type of Living Hell

“A trail of mutilated frogs lay along the edge of the island.” This is the sad result of sin. In C. S. Lewis’ book Perelandra, Weston, now the “unman,” leaves a trail of mutilated frogs. Weston is the epicenter of evil. He is whole-hearted evil, a predecessor to the Miserific Vision.

Yet, Weston, the “unman,” is just a concentrated picture of what we saw with Adolf Hitler and his regime. It is a picture from a different angle of the mutilation that lays in the wake of Planned Parenthood. When we anonymously try to create our own utopia we leave a trail of mutilation. Whether we listen to the Nazi idea or the Planned Parenthood idea that says, with our culture, “have it your way,” “listen to your heart,” “do what feels right.” When we “have it our way,” “listen to our heart,” and “do what feels right,” then “might will make right” because there will be no higher authority and we may just have a reincarnation of the atrocities of Dachau and Auschwitz. We might just have people “aborting” the “clump of cells” in their womb because that is just what they want to do, it is what is convenient; we might just have “doctors” sell that “clump of cells” as human organs.

Truly, as much as we think we can, we can’t “have our cake and eat it too.” We can’t indulge in sin and also think it won’t bring consequences. Sin since the beginning has been accompanied with consequences. We can’t, for example, indulge in pornography as individuals or as a society and not have an avalanche of abominations over take us. When we make humans sexual objects to be exploited that is sadly what they become, and so human sex trafficking and child abduction ensue.

To quote an unlikely source, Friedrich Nietzsche says in Beyond Good and Evil that philosophy always creates a world in it’s own image, it cannot do anything different. When we create a world where morality doesn’t exist then in a very real way morality doesn’t exist, at least that’s how people live. In this world each will do what is right in his own eyes, might will make right, and atrocities will flourish. Various attempts at the “Final Solution” will abound, and so will death and desolation.

We reap what we sow philosophically so right now we’re reaping a whole host of debauchery. Could it be that teachings have been tainted and thus a litany of death ensues. Maybe it’s time to re-explore worldviews and their corresponding idea of human flourishing and the ability that they have to match reality to their claims.

Human bodies ripped from the womb, mutilated, and sold, and the world doesn’t bat an eye. Sad; yet sadly not surprising in our naturalistic, hedonistic, secular day. Truly, “Moral decay doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It is supported by the idolatry of the society at any given time, and expressive of its worship, even if such be completely unarticulated.”[i] Moral decay happens when something other then God is our ultimate good, our summum bonum (cf. Rom. 1). Humanity spirals out of control and implodes in on itself whenever we make gods in our own image; whether infanticide in the Roman Empire, Auschwitz during the Nazi regime, or rampant abortion today. When we decipher and dictate anonymously and subjectively what is good and prospering for ourselves and society we damn ourselves and those around us. We, so to speak, eat again of the forbidden fruit and cast ourselves out of Eden. We fall into a pit we ourselves dug. We kill Abel, revel in Babel, and inculcate innumerable evils. We make life a sort of living hell; picture the living, walking, and tortured skeletons engraved in our memories from the horrors of concentration camps. 

O’ for the worlds that lay asunder,
for the shalom that is slain.

We ingrain habits of unrest,
we fester and pass on spoil.

O’ for the earth to break,
for all to be made anew.

For the habits in my heart to pour out,
and for living waters to ensue.

God this world is broken,
we are altogether damaged and damned.

“Destroy the destroyers of the earth”(Rev. 11:18),
destroy what in me destroys.

Shalom was slain
but through the slain Messiah (is/will be) renewed.

O’ God, Maranatha!

__________________________

[i] Noel Doe, Created for Worship: From Genesis to Revelation to You (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2009), 236.

%d bloggers like this: