The Primal Creation — reblogged

The garden of Eden with the fall of man (from here) *74.3 × 114.7 cm *signed b.l.: PETRI PAVLI RVBENS FIGR. *signed b.r.: IBRUEGHEL FEC *circa 1615
The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

madblog has a thoughtful post on marriage, The Primal Creation. Here she discusses what defines marriage.

Oddly, given that Christians supposedly do not discuss sex, ‘s post is fundamentally about the definition of sex. Yet there is nothing obscene in what she has written. It something we should all know about, but many don’t.

What makes a marriage a marriage? We need to define it before we re-define it.  What is distinct about it?  What makes marriage…marriage?

I think we misunderstand it, and that is pure tragedy.

Man and woman were made in the image of God. They were created beings who were able to relate to God; sentient and self-aware; in His image because they possessed spirits. Out of all that God created, man is the only being who is able to commune with God.

God called this creation something special. Together they were His joy, His most cherished creation. We were created for this relationship with God, and cultivating this relationship with God is man’s responsibility and his privilege.

God created man. Then woman was made from man. Note that she was not created a separate being or species.  They are two manifestations of the same created being.  She was made from him. So intrinsically was she created to be the one who completed him. They are inseparable.

Genesis 2: 23-25:

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. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

(continued here)

What is the problem that results from a meaningless definition of marriage? We call the family the building block of society. What if that building block disappeared? What if an all-powerful state became THE FAMILY? What if women just served as breeders.  What if all children, especially those with “potential,” were raised by a true nanny state? What if Big Brother becomes our children’s and grandchildren’s reality?

Framing — reblogged from DeHavelle.com

branches of government Keith DeHavelle authors one of my favorite blogs, DeHavelle.comFraming discusses the role Aristotle’s book, Politics, played in the formulation of our Constitution.

Framing

From a discussion on Citizen Tom’s blog on the forms of government, I wrote a bit on of how the US Constitution was inspired and framed:

There are conceptual hints in Scripture and remarks by Jesus on what forms of government are disfavored, but the Framers took inspiration from Aristotle. Many Enlightenment thinkers tended to downplay Aristotle, though the re-discovery of his works is one of the factors leading to the Enlightenment. But many of the Framers read Aristotle directly as well as earlier writers he inspired including Locke and de Montesquieu.

Aristotle spends the first several chapters of Book 4 of Politics cataloging systems of government in a way reminiscent of Linnaeus taking apart the structure of species of flowers. Aristotle gets something of a bad rap here, in which he is frequently said to “favor rule by a strong and virtuous leader.” This misunderstands him, as that is not his most favored arrangement. Here he describes a government divided into three branches:

Having thus gained an appropriate basis of discussion, we will proceed to speak of the points which follow next in order. We will consider the subject not only in general but with reference to particular constitutions. All constitutions have three elements, concerning which the good lawgiver has to regard what is expedient for each constitution. When they are well-ordered, the constitution is well-ordered, and as they differ from one another, constitutions differ. There is (1) one element which deliberates about public affairs; secondly (2) that concerned with the magistrates- the question being, what they should be, over what they should exercise authority, and what should be the mode of electing to them; and thirdly (3) that which has judicial power.

(continued here)

Why is ‘s post worth checking out? Aristotle’s book is ancient. When we read it and consider what it says, we can begin to grasp how our forebears struggled for the right to be free. The notion of a constitutional republic did not just pop into the heads of the men who wrote the Constitution. In a process that took thousands of years, people — many people — slowly and painfully developed the ideas that went into our Constitution. Aristotle was one of the first theorists.

Throughout human history, slavery has been the norm, and that did not change after Aristotle wrote his book. For thousands of years scholars studied Aristotle, but few others. What changed? Why did a group of men meet in Philadelphia and write a Constitution? What motivated them?

Consider. Our success in making our constitutional republic work requires a substantial amount personal integrity and hard work from each citizen. Where people don’t care enough to protect the rights of their family, friends, and neighbors, those people have no rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So that raises this question. How did the American people acquire such a concern for their neighbors, even people they had never personally met? How did the people who founded of this country do that, and how do we maintain such integrity? Why should we even want to do so?

Are we willing to protect the integrity our Constitution for the sake of our children. Will we work to add what improvements we can?

If you and I just don’t care, that is a bad sign for the next generation and those that follow.

WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY

Marie Antoinette's execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)
Marie Antoinette‘s execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)

There is a saying that is unwise.

Love rules without rules. — Anonymous (from here)

Not even for the sake of love should we set aside all the rules. Yet many use that excuse when they vote. Instead of voting for the most competent and honorable candidate, the one who promises to support and defend the Constitution and keep our country safe and secure, they vote for the most charming and charismatic fellow.

Does this sound silly? What is the point of associating romance with politics? We expect lovers to be a bit nutty, right? Yet there is very little these days that is rational about our politics. That is a subjectinsanitybytes22 amusingly explores in this post, Running the Gauntlet.

When we love without rules, what is the problem? Do we let our passions dominate our reason? No. What we set aside is wisdom, not reason. We still know what is going on. We still know what we are doing. What we do not do is care about whether our choices are right our wrong.

The ability to reason simply allows us to logically work our way through cause and effect relationships.  Consider.

  • If a woman gives in to the ardor of a passionate suitor, don’t both of them know what is going to happen?
  • If we vote for a politician who makes extravagant promises to care for the poor, the old, the children, the sick and so forth, don’t we know he is not serious about balancing the budget?

When we consider the rules, which alternatives are right and which are wrong,  wisdom takes us a step or two further than reason.

  • Before a woman gives into a passionate suitor, she wisely considers the character of her suitor. Out of self-respect and for the sake of any children she might have, she demands a good marriage before sex.
  • Before a voter chooses a candidate, he considers that candidate’s record. Does that candidate have a good record? Will he honor the Constitution? Will he try to balance the budget?

Thus, reason often fails to look beyond the desires of the moment, whereas wisdom — because the wise strive to discern good from evil — carefully evaluates the consequences.

Logic and science provide the basis for reason. From where do we derive wisdom? In our society, we have traditionally used the Bible. Yet many in our day insist we cannot mix religion with politics. Instead, they say we must keep church and state separate, that politics is just about keeping the peace. Out of “respect” for religion, secularists may even say that only God can judge another person’s sins, that what defines sin is too personal for politics.

Doesn’t the Constitution say we have a secular state? No. Those who demand the separation of church and state often argue that the word “God” is not in the Constitution, but they neglect to mention the word “secular” is also not in the Constitution. The word “religion,” however, is in the Constitution. It is in the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that the First Amendment protects our religious rights. It prohibits the government from interfering with the people’s religious rights, not the other way around. Therefore, the Constitution does not discourage us from trying to make certain our government upholds our moral and religious beliefs.

In fact, as Christians we should expect our government to uphold our moral and religious values. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote. Remember that the Roman Empire executed Jesus and persecuted Christians, that Roman authorities also executed Paul by cutting off his head with a sword.

Romans 13:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

There are worse things than a bad government. That is no government at all. Since those who lived around the Mediterranean Sea recognized the rule of the Roman Empire, Paul did not advocate its overthrow. Instead, he preached the Gospel to Roman officials, and he urged Christians to pray for them.

When the founders of this nation spoke of a secular government, what were they getting at? We know they believed God blessed their efforts, but they did not claim divine guidance. In so far as they knew, the American government functioned purely as a man-made organization with three tiers (federal, state, and local). Hence, they did not believe Federal Government could rightfully impose or establish a national religion. Nevertheless, We the People must work to make certain that what our government  conforms to our moral and religious beliefs. Good government depends upon a moral people, not moral leaders.

Consider the gravity of our task. Government exists to exercise force. When our leaders make laws, spend our money, and tax us, they use military and police forces to enforce their will. Therefore, when any of us attempt to thwart the will of our leaders, we risk arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment. While it is true that judges and juries render a secular judgement (They do not judge people’s souls.), if we do not believe someone has committed a sin against another person, what is point in arresting them, trying them, convicting them, and punishing them? If We the People do not view what one of our fellow citizens is doing as evil, why would we want our government to punish them?

Consider the alternative. When we allow our government to punish our fellow citizens for arbitrary reasons, we empower difficult people (especially harmful sinners) with the ability to severely trouble both ourselves and our neighbors and for no good reason.

Given then that we have a Christian duty to influence our government for the better, what should we to do? What kind of government does the Bible encourage? To that question there is no simple answer.

The Bible speaks a great deal about government. The Old Testament provides the Mosaic Code. The Jews referred to this as the Law. The New Testament does not ignore government or the Law.  For example, the New Testament tells us when we should obey the legitimate governing authorities. We render to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Nevertheless, Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have.

What we can guess, however, is our government should allow each of us to answer to our own conscience. We each should allow our neighbors to live as they think proper.

Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Other Views

HOW A CHRISTIAN REGARDS THE CHURCH OF THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER AND ISLAM

Touched by His Noodly Appendage, a parody of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam, is an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster[1] by Arne Niklas Jansson.
Touched by His Noodly Appendage, a parody of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, is an iconic image of the Flying Spaghetti Monster by Arne Niklas Jansson. (from here)
Christmas 2015 has passed. The showy lights and the gift-giving have passed. The cleanup and post-holiday sales remain. What Christians can take away are memories of family time and thoughts about a God who so loved the world.

There is also that time us news junkies spent perusing the Internet and the local paper. One article I read included the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I wondered. Is the Flying Spaghetti Monster real? Do people actually worship it? The answers to those questions are, surprisingly, yes and yes. The Flying Spaghetti Monster looks to all the world like a spoof. The primary website promoting the “One True Church of our Noodly Lord” obviously poses as a spoof (see here, here, and here) against Christianity.  Yet it would be a mistake to assume the followers of the Noodly Lord are not serious.

Why serious? There is money involved. There is prestige. There is the power to make others think “correct thoughts.” There is the power to influence and control government. There is the worship of the state, and the state is quite real and concrete.

Whether inadvertent or not, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a good symbol for an all-powerful state. The unblinking eyes. Tentacles that reach everywhere. Juicy meatballs that alternatively represent virility and the reward of true believers.

The word 'Allah' in Arabic calligraphy
The word ‘Allah’ in Arabic calligraphy (from here)

What does the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have to do with Islam? Read on.

The followers of Islam worship a god they call Allah. Allah, I suppose, is a bit more traditional sort of god, a warrior’s god. No spoofing. Just worship Allah properly, and his clerics promise paradise and endless sex.

Some, such as those as those who run Wikipedia (here) equate Allah and Jehovah. Others (such as here and here) do not equate Allah with Jehovah.

Is Allah real? Do people worship Allah? Let it suffice to say that the dream of Allah — the wish for Allah’s blessing — is real. Because they wish to believe, people follow Allah with the same self-centered ferocity as those who worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Both statists, the worshipers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,  and Muslims have much in common. Both seek salvation through their own works. Where they differ is that statists seek their reward in this life and Muslims seek their reward in the next. Islam, however, is a practical religion. Muslims, their leaders in particular, have been known to eagerly benefit from rewards in this life.

So what does this Christian think of Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Islam?

  • Both the statists and the Muslims need Jesus just as much as I do.  These are the sort of people for whom Jesus gave us the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
  • From a political perspective, I find it difficult to choose between a statist and a Muslim who advocates Sharia. It is the choice between a rock and a hard place. Neither group respects the rights of Christians. Well, perhaps that’s not entirely true. The statist (essentially a Liberal Democrat in this country) thinks Christians have the right to a state funded abortion and/or contraceptives. The Muslim thinks Christians have the right to worship Allah.

Anyone who has studied nations dominated by Islam can figure out Islam is antithetical to God-given rights, but what about those who worship at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? What about those Liberal Democrats?

Consider how many Liberal Democrats equate what is moral with what it legal. Consider the Constitution itself. Which is more important to a Liberal Democrat, what the Constitution actually says or what judges says that it says?

What is the basic problem with a Liberal Democrat or a big spending Republican or a Muslim? Consider this verse.

Philippians 1:6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

The Christian sees virtue as coming from Jesus. If we have faith in Christ, He justifies us. Christians do not depend upon or even expect virtue to flow from the state. That is, Christians do not believe the state (or the Law (Romans 7:14-25)) can perfect mankind.

Yet both statists and Muslims expect some form of salvation from government or the Law, statists because they worship the power of government, Muslims because Islam ordains a theocracy.

Ironically, both the statists and Muslims prove through their actions the power of sin over man. With cowardly and treacherous glee, statists deride and torment those who recognize their right to make fools of themselves. With suicidal madness, Muslim radicals torture and crush the enemies of Allah. Because their egos demand preeminence, neither group leaves others in peace.

Recognizing and accepting the sinfulness of our nature, the people who founded this country sought a government designed to check our more vile impulses. Hence, James Madison advocated a constitutional republic (see THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY). Even so, unless we are willing to see the need for a constitutional republic, we cannot make one work. So our budgets are out of control, much of our infrastructure is crumbling, our foreign policy is in a shambles,….. our government is tottering.

Therefore, if you do not believe you need Jesus, look carefully at what Islam has produced.  Consider what those who worship at the altar of government are producing. Then take the time to read and study the Bible. Pray to understand why Jesus is the only cure for what ails the human heart.

John 14:1-6 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

14 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.