THE BIBLE SAYS DON’T DO IT

babyThe Issue

Several years back I wrote a series of post on abortion (Here is the first post => WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ABORTION? — PART 1). I put a lot of work into it, but it did not get a lot of hits.  I guess, even though I am not a Bible scholar, it came across as too scholarly and ivory tower.

Regardless of what we say, when most of us surf the web, we want something bite-size and personally relevant. Life, however, does not necessarily give simple, easy problems. It only gives us what looks like easy choices, like that choice favored by the Pro-Choice crowd.

How Do We Choose?

You are a man. You get your girl-friend pregnant. You are that girl-friend. He doesn’t want the child. If you have the child, you could have a 20-year obligation. If you don’t have the child, it is just gone? Not exactly, and the longer you live the better and more painfully you will understand the consequences of making the wrong choice.

altruistico is doing a series on abortion. His series deals directly with that Pro-Life/Pro-Choice choice. Since ‘s series deals directly with the choice we have to make, I suspect his readers will find his series more personally relevant.

Here is what has thus far posted.

If you have any doubts that unfairly presents what the Bible has to say about abortion, then please consider my poor series on the subject as a place to start your investigation. I did my best to consider both sides of the issue. To my surprise, I discovered the Pro-Choice scholarship on this issue plainly unworthy of any respect.

The 2016 Presidential Election

Please note that abortion will be an issue in the 2016 Presidential Election. We have a candidate that is so rabidly Pro-Choice she has announced her intention to select judges who put their personal “life experience” ahead of what the Constitution actually says.

Here is what Hillary Clinton said in the Second Presidential Debate about her selection criteria for judges.

This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real life experience. Who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but maybe they tried more cases. Actually understand what people are up against. Because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that. I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are a big problem in many parts of the country. That we don’t do always do everything we can to make it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality. Now, Donald put forth of the names of people he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and take us backwards. I want a Supreme Court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a Supreme Court that understands because you are wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have more rights or should have any more rights than anything else. (from here)

Given Hillary Clinton speaks out of both sides of her mouth, we can disregard her comments about corporate interests. However, Planned Parenthood has supported her campaign, and that support does interest H. Clinton.

Here is Donald Trump’s statement on abortion.

If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law, the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb. My position has not changed – like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions. (from here)

Trump has already given us a list from which he would make his judicial picks. See for yourself. See what Trump has to say about the Constitution and Second Amendment.

LOVE: IS IT OUR CHIEF IDOL OR OUR MOST PRIZED VIRTUE? — PART 3

Three wise monkeys, invoking a proverb, with no text.
Three wise monkeys, invoking a proverb, with no text. (from here)

In the last segment in this series, we considered How The Idolization of Love Corrupts Church and State. Here we will consider what others have had to say.

A Review Of What Others Have To Say

Googling The “Idolization Of Love”

If we google “Idolization Of Love”, we won’t turn up much, just nine hits including this blog. What follows are the few hits that have relevant content.

Chewing the Cud: Alcibiades and Socrates Talk Life, Love and Nietzsche By John Taylor looks to be interesting.  Google has put some of the book online as a teaser. Here Taylor puts these words into the mouth of Alcibiades.

AlcibiadesIf you ladies want to know where “Alcibiades” was going with that, I am afraid you have to get a copy of the book. The preview did not include the next page.

The most surprising hit turned up the quote below. Those are the words of a college student, a student athlete, in response to the question in bold print.

What is the most important societal issue facing college students?   The most important societal issue plaguing college students, in my opinion, is the idolization of love, superficiality and materialism, entitlement, and the infantilizing of the college student. Culture ingrains these things in all our heads and it hurts our worldview and affects our lives in a great many ways. The most pressing of these issues is the infantilizing of the college student. By coddling college students, it strips them of a meaningful education, cheats them of preparation for the real world, and prevents them from growing up. (from here (www.cacsports.com))

It is a personal prejudice, but the last thing I expect of athletes is thoughtfulness. It seems, however, that cross-country runners have plenty of time to think.

The most relevant hit? In the form of a debate between Rev. Scott Elliott and the blogger, duanetoops, Dialogues of a Christian Atheist, pt.2 gets into the subject of the nature of God.

Here is a sample of Elliott’s argument.

Rev. Elliott: I have yet to find a way to satisfactorily convey my conviction that this love siren and loving way we are drawn to can also –if we want or choose–safely, sanely, rationally be named God. This experience of being we are in has that siren you/we hear in it, and if we go to where it is beckoning we end up loving. We don’t have to call it God; we can believe it is not God. It only matters because it means (aside from semanitics) that we are on the same page, love is the point. And love by any other name is still love. (Or as this theologian spins it, if God is experienced as love –a very Biblically sound claim– then love by any other name is still God). (from here)

How did duanetoops sum up his opposition to that sort of argument?

Response: I would whole heartedly agree that the “idolization of love” ( I Love that by the way) is most central. It is compelling above all else. Here we are precisely on the same page, where we diverge perhaps is that I am content simply with “love,” this is a word powerful enough, that doesn’t necessarily need to be renamed. I love that you said “if we choose to” we can call it God, I can willingly admit that I “choose” to just let love be love and let love be enough. (from here)

What Is The Opposite Of Love

Why is the idolization of love so foolish? God is not just an emotion.  We cannot properly express love by just feeling. We express love by caring enough to behave wisely.

Consider how well this Bible passage describes modern America.

Revelation 3:14-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Lukewarm Church

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

What was the problem in Laodicea? They knew the truth, but they didn’t care enough to do anything. God loved them. They were rich, and that was all that mattered to them. The Christians of Laodicea were indifferent.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. ― Elie Wiesel (from here)

In What Is The Opposite Of Love? A Bible Study, Jack Wellman ends his article with these words.

Love and discipline are joined at the hip and in a similar way, love and hate are closely related but the polar opposite of love is indifference or apathy. You could not care any less when you do nothing to help others. The opposite of love then is not hate, it is apathy or indifference, and it is one of the cruelest of all human responses. There is no excuse for us to not tell others of the coming Day of Judgment; it is one of the greatest acts of love you could ever display. The opposite of love is that you don’t even care, you are indifferent, and you are apathetic. In short, you have no love for others, only for yourself. I am thankful that Jesus didn’t act in such a way (John 3:16). (from here)

When we make love our idol, we set aside God Himself. We become so absorbed in the fact God loves us that we forget to love God in return. We don’t do what He told us to do, love each other.

A Smattering Of Related Posts And Articles

Before continuing, consider reading Psalm 96. As Christians, we have the opportunity to know God. We can declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples. However, to do that properly, we must take the time to know God.

Finding the True God by Fr. Stephen Freeman provides a viewpoint from the Orthodox Church in America.

Freeman has a legitimate concern. “Human beings have a tendency to invent idols.” Here he says something I think very good.

In order to know God, you first have to admit that you don’t know Him.

Belief in God is not the same thing as the acceptance of a set of propositions. Even if the propositions are “supported by the Scriptures,” that entire interpretive exercise is as subject to the imagination and idolatry as pure fantasy. Most Christians whom I know who have a very distorted view of God have Scripture to support their notions.

Christ makes a very key statement on the knowledge of God:

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Mat 11:27)

Since Freeman has contemplated the matter carefully, it is worth considering what else Freeman has to say.

Since we are all human, it is also worth considering what others have to say.

Do you have a primitive belief? by Colorstorm makes the point that the Bible’s age does not make it irrelevant. Its wisdom and what it says about God is timeless.

[Is] “God our Master” ? by altruistico considers The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-20) [Psalm 123:1-4]. observes what the story has to say about our relationship with God. The story compares us to God’s servants, slaves in that day and age. Since we like to see ourselves as free, that is quite disturbing.

The Revelation Of Jesus Christ: “they should make an image” by Rob Barkman looks at Rev 13:14 KJV.  Just how seriously does God regard our idol-making?

The Byproduct Of Idolatry by compares the idolatry of today with the idolatry of ancient Israel. Be Still considers how the Bible describes God.

God Cannot be Mocked by Don Merritt points out a difficult truth. God expects us to make good choices. A Troubling Conversation illustrates the challenges involved.

 

LOVE: IS IT OUR CHIEF IDOL OR OUR MOST PRIZED VIRTUE? — PART 2

fatter_disasterWe live in era when the world seems to be unraveling. Is it unraveling? If it is unraveling, why?

Here we continue with part 2 of LOVE: IS IT OUR CHIEF IDOL OR OUR MOST PRIZED VIRTUE? What is the subject?

How The Idolization of Love Corrupts Church and State

What Is Idol Worship?

Word Origin and History for idoln. mid-13c.,

“image of a deity as an object of (pagan) worship,” from Old French idole “idol, graven image, pagan god,” from Late Latin idolum “image (mental or physical), form,” used in Church Latin for “false god,” from Greek eidolon “appearance, reflection in water or a mirror,” later “mental image, apparition, phantom,” also “material image, statue,” from eidos “form” (see -oid ). Figurative sense of “something idolized” is first recorded 1560s (in Middle English the figurative sense was “someone who is false or untrustworthy”). Meaning “a person so adored” is from 1590s. (from here)

When we idolize something, we put that person, place, or thing before our Creator. We foolishly put our faith in a person, place, or thing that is not worthy of such trust (Note again the origin of the word “idol”.). For the sake of what we can get from our idol, we sacrifice our self (in service) to our idol, and we risk our soul. We don’t “love” our idol, but it does consume us when we try use it to get what we want.

At gotquestions.org, here is how the author begins his post on the differences between ancient and modern idolatry.

Question: “What are some modern forms of idolatry?”

Answer: All the various forms of modern idolatry have one thing at their core: self. We no longer bow down to idols and images. Instead we worship at the altar of the god of self. This brand of modern idolatry takes various forms. (continued here)

The various forms he lists involve stuff (materialism), self (pride), state (mankind), and self-indulgence (various forms of gluttony).

How Does The Idolization of Love Corrupt The Church?

Most Christians have memorized at least one passage in the Bible. We call it The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), but it is really a model prayer. This prayer puts the focus on God and obedience to Him. When we recite it — and mean what we say — we humble ourselves and beg forgiveness for our sins. But this is not the way prideful men want to imagine God, and we have a wonderful capacity for self-delusion.  So it is that once we take our eyes off God, we focus upon what we want. In Grammar Lesson – ‘AS’ and ‘AND’, irtfyblog provides an example of how that works. Here is an excerpt.

So, knowing how a word is defined and used in a specific language, a reader can develop a better understanding of what the writer is trying to convey. Hence, the command:  “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Since we know that ‘As’ is defined as a word used to compare and refer to the extent or degree of something, we can then see that the meaning of the command is really:  “Love your neighbor in comparison to or to the degree of which you love yourself.”

If God had said, “Love your neighbor AND love yourself,” that would have changed the meaning of the command entirely.

Since we very much like to love ourselves, so it is that many of us look for excuses to change the meaning of the Bible. When the folks at gotquestions.org addressed this question, “Why is idol worship such a powerful temptation?”, they considered this matter.

There is another form of idolatry prevalent today. Its growth is fostered by cultures that continue to drift away from sound biblical teaching, just as the apostle Paul warned us, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3). In these pluralistic, liberal times, many cultures have, to a large degree, redefined God. We have forsaken the God revealed to us in Scripture and have recast Him to comply with our own inclinations and desires—a “kinder and gentler” god who is infinitely more tolerant than the One revealed in Scripture. One who is less demanding and less judgmental and who will tolerate many lifestyles without placing guilt on anyone’s shoulders. As this idolatry is propagated by churches around the world, many disillusioned congregants understandably believe they are worshipping the one, true God. However, these made-over gods are created by man, and to worship them is to worship idols. Worshipping a god of one’s own making, however, is particularly tempting for many whose habits and lifestyles and drives and desires are not in harmony with Scripture.

I call this form of idolatry the idolization of “love”.

How do our churches support the idolization of “love”? So that we can focus on the God of Love, we ignore much of scripture. We ignore Hell. We ignore the condemnation of sin. Fearing we deserve the same, we ignore the stories of Israel’s sins and suffering. We also ignore the sins and the suffering of Israel’s enemies, of Sodom and Gomorrah, of the peoples before Noah’s Flood, of Cain, and of Adam and Eve. Refusing to seriously consider the future, we set aside the coming Wrath of God in Revelation.

When was the last time your pastor warned of Hell and damnation? Does your pastor slyly step past the scary parts of the Bible? How many people do you know who read those parts? How many people do you know who have read the Bible?

Is there a Hell? Is there a punishment for sin? If not, then why did Jesus die upon that cross?

We have to study and revere the whole Word of God. Any church that refuses to do that will in time unravel.

Deuteronomy 12:29-32 New King James Version (NKJV)

Beware of False Gods

29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

For the sake of what they imagine they could get from a demon god called Molech, the Canaanites and their Hebrew imitators burned their children alive.  For the sake of distorted notions of love, we abort hundreds of thousands of children every year.

How Does The Idolization of Love Corrupt The State?

Churches Don’t Provide Character Education

When churches begin preaching sloppy notions about love and ignore much of the Bible, the morals of a nation must suffer. Then the nation itself must suffer. Without a moral people, we cannot make a constitutional republic work. Neither the people nor their leaders will restrain themselves and abide by the law.

There is a certain irony in that. Consider all the rules, regulations and laws we suffer under now, and ignorance of the law is no excuse. In a highly technical society with potentially lethal hand-held power tools; big and even more dangerous cars, buses, and trunks; powerful chemicals; and so forth, we have to have lots of rules, regulations and laws. We cannot just point to a song and chant “What the world needs now is love, sweet love”. We have to understand that loving your neighbor means stopping at red lights. In fact, we have to teach our children and each other what real and sincere love looks like.

Yet too many Christian churches do not teach about the effort required to love. They should. Consider how Jesus summarized the Bible.

Matthew 22:36-40 New King James Version (NKJV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Did Jesus say that this passage is all we need to know? Didn’t Jesus spend three years teaching His apostles. Did not even the Apostle Paul, a brilliant scholar, have to spend 2 – 3 years in the desert before he began his work as an apostle (Galatians 1:11-18). For similar reasons, each of us needs to study the whole Bible. Just as the apostles could not teach others how to be good Christians without the instruction of Jesus, we cannot properly live as good Christians without studying the Bible.

An Example Of The Problem

The Bible is a book of wisdom that tells us how we should try to live with each other. Government is an institution we created to keep us from destroying each other. Because we must empower government to control us, government is an institution we can either use properly or abuse.

Here is a very simple, straightforward example. The Bible gives us a personal responsibility to love and help each other. The Bible speaks of voluntary giving, not government-run charity. Yet we have let legions of politicians persuade us that they have the right to take money some people and give it to other people. These politicians give us excuses. “It is for the children.” “It is for the disabled.” “It is for the old.” And so forth.

What at bottom is the excuse for government-run charity — welfare? The politicians defend the welfare state as modern man’s means for loving his neighbor. In fact, what has happened is that the conniving politicians who run these schemes just create large voting constituencies dependent on government handouts.

Government cannot love us. Government welfare is not about love; it is about votes. The Bible does not make exceptions for government handouts. Even when we use the government to do it, when we take the property of another person, that is stealing.

Government Cannot Provide Character Education

Since the time we turned the education of our children over to politicians, each succeeding generation has had less and less familiarity with the Bible. What have the politicians put in its place? It is a vague thing we call Secularism.

Why would our leaders choose to do such a thing? Why would they set aside the Bible, which contains invaluable wisdom, for Secularism. Well, there is nothing new in this. In fact, when Americans chose to prevent the government from establishing a state religion, that was new. Unfortunately, we risk losing what they won.

In the 1830’s Americans started sending their children to schools run by their local governments. Those public schools, ostensibly for the sake of religious freedom, gradually begin separating the religious content out of the curriculum. When state governments and the Federal Government sought to stick their noses into the government-run education racket, Federal and state officials accelerated the process of separating out religious education content. Hence, when the Supreme Court ruled against school prayer, the judges merely finished a process that was almost complete.

Unfortunately, a secular education cannot and does not instill virtue into children.  Therefore, everyone expected parents and churches to somehow make up for this deficit, but relatively few parents and churches ever taught children what was needful. In fact, as some have observed, the way the public schools teach subjects like sex education (handing out condoms to teenagers.) and history (religion starts wars) is often at odds with what churches and parents want children to learn.

Conclusion

If we want to save our republic, we have to focus on a more serious problem. We each have to repair the damage to our souls. We must study the Bible.

2 Chronicles 34 tells the story of a revival in Judah. The priests had lost the Book of the Law in the temple.  When the priests finally began looking towards God again, they then were able to find His Word again (in the Temple where they lost it). The question for today is whether we can do the same.


Continued: A Review Of What Others Have To Say

BIG BROTHER WANTS A BUREAUCRAT?

Image a day in the not so distant future. Uncle Sam wants you! Why? To be a bureaucrat. (picture from here)
Imagine a day in the not so distant future. Uncle Sam wants you! Why? To be a bureaucrat. (picture from here)

Because of the fact we have not taken sufficient care to make certain our children learn what they should learn, more and more we and our children worry far too much about “succeeding” in this world. More and more we do not give enough care to the next.

What has become our idea of success? That’s a secure, good-paying job; a sexy spouse with a secure, good-paying job; a couple of clean, smart and healthy children; a house in a beautiful neighborhood; a car the screams upper crust, ….

In modern America, success revolves around the worship of four idols: self, sex, stuff, and state. That’s why the ultimate job is with the government, a job that comes with power, prestige, and a large, steady income.

When people worship self, sex, stuff, and state; ethics do not much matter. What matters is might. Do I have the power and influence to get what I want?

Do we have to imagine what a society composed of people who worship self, sex, stuff, and state? No! We merely have to study the wars of the last century and the perils of this century. Because we are so dangerous to each other, war has always been among our greatest perils. So it is I wrote TWO DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT ATTITUDES TOWARDS CONFLICT RESOLUTION. What we worship determines our moral values, and there are essentially two extremes, two entirely different worldviews.

  • Might makes right: when we do not love our neighbor, we regard our neighbor on as an object. Objects have no rights. Objects exist only to be exploited.  When an object has something we want, then all that matters is whether we have the power to exploit that object.
  • Right makes might: when we love our neighbor, we want what is best for that person. Thus, we respect their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When love is mutual, we can achieve peace with relative ease. Then we seek to achieve peace by doing what is right.

So why talk about this again? When I read Life Debate ABC’s bymadblog, it occurred to me how well the controversies over slavery and abortion illustrate those two worldviews.

Those who believed in slavery — those who still believe in slavery — see others as objects to be used. The issue of exploitation is not so much a matter of law as ethics. Without sound ethical standards, the law is whatever those who want slaves say it is. Therefore, the Southern planters, determined to have and uphold their “right” to own slaves fought to extend slavery into the territories (twisting the Constitution with Dred Scott v. Sandford), eventually precipitating a war the president they rejected, dearly wanted to avoid.

Similarly, those determined to treat the unborn as objects found a here-to-fore unknown “right” in the Constitution (Roe v. Wade).  Whereas the slave masters argued that their slaves were subhuman and that people had always owned slaves, the abortionists argued the unborn are just blobs of flesh and that women had always aborted their children when they found them inconvenient.

Yet some will say an unborn child is clearly not human and a slave clearly is human. Really?

  • It is legal to abort a child until the moment of birth. What makes that moment so special?
  • Does a six month old infant have the capacity to speak. Isn’t that child still dependent. Is it not an offense to the rights of the caregiver — the mother — if she is not allowed to dispose of “it” as she wishes.
  • Did you know it use to be common for people to sell their children, even themselves, into slavery? Impoverish people are almost useless. If someone has to take care poor people, what is wrong with making them slaves?
  • What about women? Don’t women have to be protected? Don’t most societies recognize women are inferior? Don’t lots of people abort babies just because they are female? Why should a puny, emotional woman be given the full rights of citizen? Only weak men, men who love their ladies, would even consider such a thing.
  • And the old? Who wants to live in a nursing home anyway?

Yet consider the irony.  It is women who call themselves feminists who most vehemently argue for abortion, disdaining the unborn as fetuses. Is it not because of love that men are willing to treat women as their equals. What is loving about treating a baby, even at the moment of conception human, as an unwanted blob of flesh?  Why reject such a miracle of life from a loving God?

Does anyone know when a human being acquires rights, even God-given rights? Is it the moment of conception? The moment of birth? At 18 or 21 years of age. Why don’t we abort teenagers? Surely, teenagers can be lots of trouble and expense.  Until we choose to love each other as Jesus told us to love each other, do we have a good answer?