Why Marriage Must Remain Traditional

A few days ago, I reluctantly re-entered the gay marriage debate. Believe me, I don’t enjoy this debate. I feel the brunt of all the “hate” language it saddles me with, and I am burdened by the weight of the discrimination label, as though I am in the camp of George Wallace, the Democrat governor who stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in 1963, preventing blacks from entering college.  I am not in Wallace’s camp and neither are those who wish to preserve traditional marriage. Of course it would be easier to capitulate, to give up the fight and not say anything, just going along with a comfortable life indifferent to the plight of those who are born into America after I die, but where is the value in that approach?

Why speak to the issue?  Trust me, even if I were anti-gay, being anti-gay would not be sufficient reason to speak. I am not anti-gay. I do not count gay persons as inferior to myself. I count them—and all people—as my equals because we all stand equally as sinners before God in need of grace.  I believe—as the Declaration of Independence asserts—that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” It is on this basis—and for this reason—that I feel compelled to plead with folks to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.  The issue is NOT “gay vs. anti-gay.”  The issue is NOT one of “bigotry vs. civil rights.”  The issue is not even a political one, in the sense of it being “conservative vs. liberal.”  The issue comes down simply to Tyranny vs. Liberty, and  I hope always to be on the side of liberty.

I have attempted to make this case before, and I was then accused of being “hung up” on fighting against gays. So, again, I repeat that I am not anti-gay.  I am anti-tyranny, or, as I prefer to say it, I am pro-liberty.  I am for freedom in the truest sense of that word. I am for the belief that all of us have certain unalienable rights which were granted to us as human beings not by our government but by our Creator, as the Declaration of Independence says.

Here is the issue. Biological nature (and biological nature’s God) has established male and female as the basis upon which humanity would multiply and prosper. Good governments serve nature (and nature’s God) by enacting laws which comport to natural laws, thus maintaining order for the benefit of humankind. The law in this case is not an imposition; it is a clarification of what is true by natural design. As such, the law serves as an affirmation of that which is best for ordering human society.

Heterosexual, monogamous marriage resulting in orderly reproduction is a true design of biological nature.  Though reproduction is not the only significant aspect of marriage, it is certainly a primary aspect of marriage.  A recent article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy states,

Marriage is valuable in itself, but its inherent orientation to the bearing and rearing of children contributes to its distinctive structure, including norms of monogamy and fidelity. This link to the welfare of children also helps explain why marriage is important to the common good and why the state should recognize and regulate it.  Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 245-287, Winter 2010

This view of marriage, which is known as the “Conjugal View,” is rooted in nature, in biology, and in the basic reality of creation and creaturely existence. It is not the property of American politics. It was not founded here. Its roots go back thousands of years prior to the establishment of the United States of America.  The oldest social law code extant (the Code of Ur Nammu) details penalties for adultery and affirms the conjugal view of marriage. Long before Republicans or Democrats, Conservatives or Liberals, were conceived, civilizations discovered in nature and codified in law the conjugal view of marriage.  Marriage, ultimately, is defined by nature itself for the orderly propagation of humanity.

This view of marriage has weathered other libertine tempests in American history, such as the 19th Century drive by the Mormon church advocating polygamy.  In its famous case deciding the fate of polygamy in America, the Court ruled in Reynolds v. United States (1878) that monogamous, heterosexual marriage provides the bedrock structure for societal harmony:

Marriage, while from its very nature a sacred obligation, is nevertheless, in most civilized nations, a civil contract, and usually regulated by law. Upon it society may be said to be built, and out of its fruits spring social relations and social obligations and duties, with which government is necessarily required to deal. In fact, according as monogamous or polygamous marriages are allowed, do we find the principles on which the government of the people, to a greater or less extent, rests.

The conjugal, biological view of marriage is foundational, and it is rooted in creation—not in government. What is being proposed by gay marriage advocates is an imposition of an alternate reality—a revised reality—which is not rooted in biological nature but, rather, is rooted in political power. Because the state can alter the definition, therefore, the state should alter the definition: This proposition appears to be the heartbeat which pumps lifeblood to the gay marriage movement.

This proposition—that the state can alter the definition of marriage and thus it should—is a proposition untenable in the history of our nation.  When a different minority position gained political steam in the 19th Century and desired a revision to the definition of marriage, the Court took refuge in the conjugal view rooted in biological nature and said, “No,” to the proposed redefinition.  Believing in heterosexual, monogamous marriage as the ideal upon which society would continue to prosper, the court had no other choice. The stakes were too high to decide any other way of ordering society.

Now, the situation is radically different.  The movement toward gay marriage is fueled with a post-Civil-Rights passion that has moved beyond asking what is ordered for society in nature. This movement is asking instead for the government to revise a natural order definition and replace it with a state-imposed one.  In other words, this movement is not appealing to a natural and unalienable right resting on the beneficence of nature’s God. Instead, this movement is asking for a government-bestowed right.  If rights and privileges are not determined by nature and nature’s God, then who determines them? The government.

In the short term, there is great appeal to having the government determine rights rather than having nature’s God determine them.  If the government is on your side, then, of course, you will have a vested interest in that government bestowing a previously restricted right upon you (thereby gaining you as a member of its political voting block).  But beware. Surfing this self-serving wave of government control may prove in the end to be no day at the beach.  If government really does possess the power to grant what once were thought unalienable rights, then government has the power to take away those (and other) rights as the political climate (and voting block) changes. When government overtakes nature’s God in determining basic human rights, liberty is lost. Freedom is a mirage of the government’s making.

Here is tyranny.  If the government can go against biological nature and prescribe rights to groups of citizens without recourse to a reality outside of itself, then government has become god. Government not only will give rights to some, it will take rights from others. Not only will the government make laws consistent with its revised reality; it will also—of necessity—enforce those laws for the sake of maintaining its ability to control reality (=oppression).  Reality itself will become what the government mandates.

In response to the recent decision by the legislature in New York to adopt gay marriage, George Weigel—precisely on this point of losing liberty—states,

The argument over marriage will and must continue, because it touches first principles of democratic governance — and because resistance to the agenda of the gay-marriage lobby is a necessary act of resistance against the dictatorship of relativism, in which coercive state power is used to impose on all of society a relativistic ethic of personal willfulness.

Weigel is making the point that the definition of marriage rests upon foundational elements of nature and precedes America itself, while the proposed revision is driven by small group wielding a big stick of political momentum against history, tradition, and nature, imposing a new reality which appeals to none of these foundational elements and is the mere product of government power. In taking its stand on power rather than nature, this revised definition does not continue the legacy of civil liberty; it trumps it with raw government power.

Weigel says,

Legally enforced segregation involved the same kind of coercive state power that the proponents of gay marriage now wish to deploy on behalf of their cause. Something natural and obvious — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” — was being denied by the state in its efforts to maintain segregated public facilities and to deny full citizenship rights to African Americans. Once the American people came to see that these arrangements, however hallowed by custom (and prejudice), were, in fact, unnatural and not obvious, the law was changed.

What the gay lobby proposes in the matter of marriage is precisely the opposite of this.

The revisionist definition wants to go back to the era preceding civil rights and impose by government authority an unnatural definition of marriage.  What this means is that the debate over the definition of marriage is not really a debate about marriage at all; it is a debate over who controls us: Nature and nature’s God or government and the ruling class.  The difference between these two governors is the difference between Freedom and Tyranny.

I understand that the short-term promise of accepting gay marriage makes it appear that freedom is at stake, and indeed it is.  But the freedom that is at stake is not the freedom of an underprivileged class being denied an unalienable right; the freedom at stake is the freedom for all Americans.  Will Americans be free to believe and live by unalienable rights guaranteed by their creator, or will we be subjected to the tyranny of a ruling class which offers us rights based on our political cooperation.  The stakes could not be higher for all of us.

I do not plead against gay Americans in this battle. I plead for them. It seems for now that accepting the premise that the government grants you your rights is going to yield in more rights for gay Americans (namely, the “right” to marry), but, in the end, political powers ebb and flow. Times change. In most cases, governments have not been overly generous toward gays, lesbians, bi-sexual, and transgendered persons. When government becomes god, only the governors prosper. Everyone else suffers.

Must Gay Marriage Bells Ring

There is a growing consensus among the cultural commentariat that gay marriage is inevitable: Given time, a majority of Americans will embrace gay marriage as the norm. This position is not the sole property of liberals. There is no small number of conservatives parroting the same meme (as this post illustrates). The argument rests on poll data and demographic research which have supposedly proven that 60% or more of young people approve of gay marriage now. Thus, when they become the next generation of voters, they will invariably alter the course of American history by jettisoning the discriminatory bonds of traditional wedding bands.

The weight this argument carries among supposedly enlightened people astounds me. Polls and research data are unable to predict who will be elected president in November (only 6 months away), yet similar opinion polls are supposed infallible when it comes to their predicting the demise of the western marriage tradition over the next 20 years? Really? Monogamous, heterosexual marriage is doomed because polling data shows that most young people now accept gay marriage?

If Americans young and old are still able to be persuaded about which party they will support in November elections (and advertising costs suggest they are), then how can we extrapolate the current polling data on youth to remain unchanged over the next two decades? I wonder if any who are reading this article ever changed their attitudes on social issues between the ages of 18 and 38. I personally know a great number of Americans (myself included) whose attitude toward abortion changed in that two decade transition from high school student to middle school parent.

Proponents of traditional marriage need not throw in the towel just yet. Rich Lowry has posted a nice piece demonstrating the folly of accepting the defeat of marriage prematurely. As Lowry points out, there was a time that the Equal Rights Amendment appeared inevitable, a time in which gun control appeared a certainty, and a time when it seemed likely that abortion opponents would wither and die away.  Tidal waves of appearances often crash against the rocks of reality to surprising results.  For this reason, I would agree with Rich Lowry: Gay Marriage Is Not Inevitable.

Blind Unbelief: China and Chen Guangcheng

“Blind unbelief is sure to err…” so penned William Cowper in his final and perhaps most poignant hymn, composed in 1774.  Of course, Cowper wrote from a Christian perspective and, though he suffered terribly from depression, he understood that God’s ordering of and teleological purposes for creation would always prove wise and good in the end.  A nation whose laws adhere to these same basic truths is able to govern itself according to the wise and good end that God has built into creation.  That nation will prosper as it conforms to the actual reality of God’s creation. A nation which forsakes God’s ordering and insists on its own is—in Cowper’s words—sure to err.

Such is the situation presently in China.  As this Guardian story reports, China is presently reeling from its own, self-imposed moral crises. Having rejected God and God’s ordering of reality, the Communist government in China has been forced to implement its own.  As every Communist government eventually learns, enforcing your own reality is a monumentally cumbersome affair.  Have you ever tried to fly a kite when there is no wind? Communism requires intense effort and strict enforcement for its policies to fly through even a short space of human history. Most often, just as with the kite, Communism has face-planted into the ground. China is still struggling to fly without reality’s wind.

Blind unbelief refuses to acknowledge the eternal realities which happen to be imprinted indelibly in the human psyche (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Inevitably, then, Communism clashes not just with its own people, but with reality itself.  Such is the case in China today.  The blind unbelief of the Communist vanguard was usurped by the courage of a self-taught, barefooted, and blind lawyer named Chen Guangchen.

According to Chen’s friend (and Chinese human rights advocate) Bob Fu, Chen escaped from house arrest by climbing over a wall behind his house. He has found refuge now in a location described as 100% safe in Beijing. Chen had to navigate blindly both the back wall of his property and a small army of as many as 90 Communist guards, falling more than 200 times in the process,yet persevering to his victorious escape.  In his triumph, Chen has done more than embarrass the Communist government, he has exposed it.

Truth can be called error for only so long, and then it has a way of creeping back in as persistently as water seeps through a roof or light finds a way through the smallest crack in the door.  Truth persists.  If nothing else, the blind lawyer has forced the world to see the undying nature of truth.  The blind lawyer was able to see the reality of Communist impotence.  For Communism (or any totalitarian regime) to work, a certain view of reality must be imposed and enforced.  Dissent cannot be allowed because by its nature it dispels the reality of the darkness. When light enters a room, darkness disappears. Thus, the light of dissent is, as the Germans would say, verboten in Communist countries.

In China, the State expected to be seen as the benevolent supplier of human aid and the aim of all human effort. That dynamic only works insofar as the people succumb to the notion of the State as god. What happens when a blind man starts to see the inhumanity of the State’s actions?  If the State is god, then how can it err?  Chen believes, of course, not only that the State can err, but—more urgently—that the State grossly erred in forcing women to kill their babies for the good of China.

Chen exposed the barbarity of the forceful imposition of the inhumane idea that human beings are a burden on the resources of the benevolent State–and of the further idea that as the supplier of all resources, the State thus has the right to rid itself of such burdens.  Invading the eternal, God-created wall of human dignity, the Communist government breached the most intimate parts of its women and stole from them babies whose composition had been knit mysteriously together in what ought always to remain a protected place—the mother’s womb.

Ignoring the eternal wall which God enshrined, the State ran roughshod over its weakest people. With its legal and authoritative siege-works, the State breached these intimate, feminine walls. Chen could see the barbaric injustice of such an oppressive abuse against women.  So, he spoke. And, ironically, the Communist government thought it could silence eternal truth with its own man-made walls.  As Cowper said, blind unbelief is sure to err.

Thoughts on Death and Suffering

What is it with all this death and suffering in our world?  Has science not yet eradicated the inimitable Grim Reaper? In the age of nuclear medicine and MRI’s, we seem to be capable of better identifying the diseases which cause our suffering, but we still can’t seem to eliminate the pains. And as for death, well the funeral business hasn’t died.

Suffering, dying, and death are part of this created life. Since the Fall (in Genesis 3), humankind has been placed under a curse so heavy that it causes many to curse God (ask Job’s wife, Job 2:9).  But for those who are in Christ, the burden of death has been lifted (even if the process of it still lingers in place). Jesus took on flesh and blood so that He might taste death for His followers. He swallowed death’s poison, draining death’s cup. Then, He showed it had no power, as He triumphantly rose from the tomb. Thus, Christ delivered us who had once lived under the power and fear of death.

The writer of Hebrews says it this way:

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Christians are free from the slavery of death. That being the case, why does death still wreak havoc over our emotions?  Why does it still haunt us and threaten us? We fear dying, and we still fear having our loved ones die. Why? Two reasons come to mind.

First, we are ultimately weak in the flesh. Though we build ourselves up pretentiously with great strength, we are always brought uncomfortably low in the face of death. Death shatters our illusions of strength. We see very big, strong, and tough men weep under the burden of death. Death shows no pity, no remorse—just raw power to shut down hopes and dreams and plans.  Death is an uncommonly powerful foe. This fact is not lost on the evil one who intends to wield the power of death to keep our weakness out front. He hopes to keep us forever weak by reminding us of death’s strength.

God, too, uses death to expose our weakness, but He does not seek to trap us in the bondage of despair. He shows us His strength through Christ and the Resurrection.  God knows our frames that we are but dust. He knows our weakness. He does not seek to exploit it as Satan does. Instead, He seeks to expose it to show us the full-on power of the gospel of our Lord which culminates in His defeat of death through the Resurrection and ascension to the throne of Heaven.  God has a place for death to display the perfection of His great power toward all who believe. The gospel is the power of God (Romans 1).

So, second, we fear death because we forget God’s perfect power.  His power is on display through Christ’s victory over death.  The perfection of His power is on display through our faith, as we suffer through the consequences of death.  Nowhere in Scripture does God minimize the power of death. There is no greater foe. Death is the last enemy of God to be eradicated.

We must deal with death.  The only way to deal with it faithfully is to believe the Christ who reigns victoriously over it.  Notice, the key is not to believe “in” the Christ (that’s the way we normally hear it phrased). The key is to believe Him. He claims to have rendered death powerless.  Believe that He has taken away its power.

In believing that Christ has taken away death’s power, we have reason to trust Him with every death. Every death is now redeemed.  There is a redemptive order to all things (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).  God promises that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, those called according to His purposes. Surely, such redemptive promises can be trusted because they are secured by the One who has overcome death.

Our response to death, then, is two-fold. First, we believe Christ has actually defeated it and taken away its power. Second, we believe that God is wise in His ordering of life and death events. In Isaiah 28, the prophet warns Judah of the judgment which is to come upon them. He implores the people to trust the wisdom of God.  Just as the farmer knows that “dill is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a club,” so, too, God knows the best way to bring forth the grain harvest for His people through their suffering. There is a proper order to the events of harvest. We can trust the farmer to know how to bring out the grain. We can trust God to know how to bring forth the grain of victory through suffering and death. Christ is God’s proof.

Adoption Yearning

Any pastor worth his salt (as the saying goes) must, at times, identify with the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel was more than a preacher to God’s suffering people—he was a vicarious enactment of their plight, having to lay siege against Jerusalem (Chapter 4); eat “unclean” food; pack his bags for exile (Chapter 12), and lose his wife.  Ezekiel suffered with God’s people.  God told him from the beginning not only that he would be required to suffer with God’s people but that he would also need a head as hard as theirs in order to bear the suffering without seeing much of a reward.  The people would mock him, scoff him, listen to him for the entertainment value, but not obey what he taught them.  Ezekiel’s ministry was difficult indeed.

Pastors understand. Frequently suffering with God’s people, pastors surely understand what it is like to plead with folks to yield their full allegiance to a sovereign God—only to have those folks too often walk away toward a secular solution to a genuinely spiritual problem.  That can be a tough assignment.

Lately, however, I have suffered an assignment that might be more difficult—suffering with God’s people who suffer well.  OK, it isn’t more difficult. But pain is painful even when it is beautiful.  Lately, I have experienced a kind of sweet agony as I have suffered with a people who portray the brightest ray of beauty from the clouds of pain.

For several weeks now, I have been preaching a series of sermons from Hebrews 12 on the discipline of the Lord.  Basically, I have called us to trust God’s instructing love through suffering.  God’s instructing love is His discipline.  After first rejecting the suffering, we can be trained by God’s instructing love to learn something of the nature of God and thereby be humbled into what the Bible calls the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).  The process must be something like the joy of a mother holding a new baby girl after suffering hours of labor.

So, here we are as a congregation suffering. Here I am as a pastor suffering.  I am suffering with the weight of what I am preaching, knowing that in the congregation are mothers who have lost their daughters, fathers who have buried their babies, and a young man whose wedding party was crashed in the most inconceivably bad manner he could imagine.

I am also suffering my own setbacks, which on an agony scale don’t measure up to the loss of those who have buried children.  Still, I am suffering a degree of agony, longing to know why I have 2 children in Africa who are being needlessly withheld from their home, their family, and their father who desperately wants them in his presence.  How can I (a pastor) make sense of it all?  I am so frustrated with the injustice of a bureaucracy which keeps my boys away from me.

I have some options available.  My natural response is to fuel a deep-seated cynicism against my own government.  Trust me when I say my Republican roots run deep!  It would be easy to grow powerfully indignant against the current administration and buy into the fervor of adoption activism—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! But that isn’t my thing, not right now.  For now, I am a shepherd of a suffering people who are listening and learning (by watching?) about God’s discipline.

I must receive the Lord’s discipline.  So, what can I learn from my suffering, Lord? Surely, no good can come from the forces pulling my little boys from me and holding us an ocean apart against our wills.  What is this situation saying about you, Father?

Perhaps you, Lord, are painting a picture of the church through my life (and the life of my boys).  I am thinking of unexpectedly sober picture of the church presented in Revelation 6:9-11,

9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

Here with the Lord are those who have run their race as faithful Christian soldiers. They have died as faithful witnesses, martyrs.  Their concern is for justice—understandably so! They not only were killed unjustly on account of loving Christ, they are also now subjected to seeing others mistreated and even killed in the same unjust way.  Like Abel’s, their blood cries out.

But what is God’s reply to them? It is wait. But it isn’t a simple wait to which God is calling His people.  It is a specific wait.  It is a redemptive wait.  While the martyred saints are crying out for God’s justice, God is saying wait for my full mercy.  They cry for justice because God’s mercy is taking too long.

What this means is that God is certainly as aware as they are of the injustices against His people.  Heck, He is infinitely more aware of injustice than they could ever be!  The reason He does not act in the face of such injustice is that He is more focused for now on accomplishing the fullness of redemption.  “Be patient,” he tells His faithful.  “I have more aliens and strangers yet to adopt into our family.  As time welcomes them into history, I will be dispatching the Holy Spirit to give them eternity.  In the meantime, while that is taking place for my children, other injustices will occur. Don’t worry. I am keeping track and will repay. Vengeance is mine.  For now, trust me while I work through time to complete our family.”

We want justice while God is working redemption.  To say it another way, the only reason God delays justice is so He can fully express His mercy toward His people.  A God like that is worthy of our trust and our patient endurance.

So, I wait for my baby boys.  And I wait for the further redemption of Crystal’s death and Tommy’s loss. 

Clarity on Honor Killings

I have posted several times about the troubling rise of so-called “Honor Killings” in North America. I am happy to report that Canada has stepped up to the plate and and taken a mighty swing against the heinous Muslim practice of killing your children in order to protect your honor.  One wonders how indeed it could be possible that honor might be upheld by murdering your offspring.  Nevertheless, Canada has called it like it is.  The Judge had this to say:

“It is difficult to conceive of a more heinous, more despicable, more honorless crime,” Maranger said. “The apparent reason behind these cold-blooded, shameful murders was that the four completely innocent victims offended your completely twisted concept of honor … that has absolutely no place in any civilized society.”

To which, Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson added that honor killings are “barbaric and unacceptable in Canada.”

Good job, Canada.  Let’s hope many more juries and courts will follow suit in Canada and the U.S.

Sadly, there is growing evidence that the problem is both misunderstood (in Western countries) and intentionally unrecorded (in Muslim countries).  The Middle East Quarterly tracks honor killings worldwide and reports that the often-reported figure of 5,000 per year is woefully deficient.  The number is much higher, although given the present circumstances that assertion is difficult to prove.  For political purposes, many end up distorting the figures and mischaracterizing the crimes as something other than what they are. As always, defenders of evil tend to obfuscate reality with more fake fog than a bad magician.  For once, a judge and jury have blown away the smoke and have made the matter clear.  Honor killings are barbaric and have no place in civilized society.

Simple Concepts Concerning Life

In memory of the 50 million Americans lost since the dreadful Roe v. Wade decision, I wrote a poem for a competition hosted by the Manhattan Declaration (you can read it here).  The point of the poem is simply this: A little girl in the womb has no guarantee of liberty or the pursuit of happiness in America because she has no guarantee of life.

Two contrary points are typically made by those who favor abortion.  First, it is said that the baby in the womb is something less than human, not quite considered a person.  Maybe it is a fetus or embryo, but not a person.  And because it is philosophically impossible to determine at what point the embryo becomes a baby, we are not at liberty to impose a definition upon the mother. She is free to choose for herself.  Second, the argument is made that because the mother will have the primary burden of caring for the child, then she must decide whether to allow her birth.  Each of these arguments is fundamentally unsound.

On the first point, the question must be answered concerning the child in the womb. If it is not human, then what is it?  If it is human, then it must be protected.  Terms such as fetus and embryo only obscure what ought to be obvious to all.  What kind of embryo is it?  What kind of fetus is it?  Obviously, they are human embryos.  As such, they should be protected under the law.  According to our Declaration of Independence, “They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Still, the argument persists because pro-abortion advocates claim that humanity is not so easily defined.  When do the cells and DNA actually become a full human being?  Our simple response to this inquiry is, “When is it ever not human?”  From the moment of conception, a human being is in process—a process of growth which continues throughout the time in the womb and even for most of the next two decades after the child is born.  There is growth and development (in the strictly physical sense) from conception to the age of 18 or so.  This is undeniable.

In fact, this line of reasoning is so filled with common sense that it permeates our legal code.  Take, for instance, Title 16, Chapter 5A, Subchapter II, Paragraph 668 (a), of the United States Code:

 “Whoever, within the United States or any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof… shall knowingly…take, possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, at any time or in any manner any bald eagle commonly known as the American eagle or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof of the foregoing eagles, or whoever violates any permit or regulation issued pursuant to this subchapter, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or imprisoned not more than one year or both…”

What is particularly illuminating in the U. S. legal code is the threat of criminal sanction for taking not just the egg of the eagle but also the nest.  It is clear enough that the egg of the eagle is protected (for the sake of protecting all eagles); what is even more astounding is that the eagle’s nest is also protected.  Why?  Because the nest is also a necessary part of the life-development of a bald eagle.  In the case of the bald eagle, the law protects a collection of non-living sticks and limbs because those sticks and limbs provide a nesting area for an egg which—if all goes well—will eventually develop into an eaglet, which–if all goes well–will one day fly as an eagle.  The nest of the egg of the eagle is protected in America because Americans value eagles and want to protect them.  The womb of a mother is not protected in America because Americans…

Now, on the second point of debate, again, the law is clear.  Those who advocate for abortion will say that they may be personally opposed to it, but they cannot feel compelled to burden the mother when child-rearing is her responsibility.  (There are many false assumptions built into this argument—child-rearing is a mother and father responsibility; children are not burdens but blessings; and one cannot be opposed to something and advocate for it in the same breath).  On the basic point of whether the child is the mother’s responsibility solely because it is part of her body, I would appeal to common sense and the law.

Common sense makes plain that the child in the womb is not simply a subsidiary part of the mother’s body.  When a couple goes for an ultrasound, they don’t go there to find out what kind of tumor is growing on the mother’s body.  They go there to find out the ___________ of the ___________.  (Could you fill in the blanks? They go to find out the sex of the baby).  It is simply ludicrous to assert that the baby is like a hemorrhoid, and abortion is good in the same sense as Preparation H.  This is not a part of the mother’s body; it is a separate human body.  The ultrasound is able to determine its sex. If it is a little boy, it will have a little boy organ which belongs to him—not to his mother.

In the law, the same common sense provisions can be found.  Even if we were to say that the baby were merely a growth on the mother’s body, and, because it is her body and her burden, it is also her free choice, we still would not think that the mother is free to do whatever she wants with her body.  Women are not free to do anything they want with their bodies; neither are men.  One cannot expose his body to others without facing charges of indecent exposure.  One cannot prostitute his or her body without facing criminal charges.  One cannot fill his or her body with illegal drugs without violating the law.  There are a great many things one cannot do with his or her body.  There simply is no absolute right to your own body when you live in community with others.

So, we conclude with two simple and undeniable truths.  At conception, human life begins.  And, no one should have the right to rob another human of her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  With these simple facts recognized, we will see the value of human life soaring in America again like the eagle’s.

Who Is Right About Tim Tebow, Me or President Obama?

The NFL season begins in just one month. So, plenty of stories will be generated from how well (or how poorly) Tim Tebow plays.  Getting a jump on the competition, President Barack Obama told a radio audience yesterday that he thought the Tebow trade was a mistake (See President Obama Weighs in on Tebow, Sanchez).

I have re-posted an article below in which I explain why Tim Tebow is a high caliber NFL quarterback (despite his shortcomings).  I have made a few corrections and updates because the original article was written while Tebow was a Bronco.  The data still holds true, and I still believe the Jets will be glad to have Tim Tebow. –I offer one piece of evidence in MY favor at the end of the post.


Tim Tebow is not the best quarterback in the NFL. He isn’t even in the top 5 of NFL quarterbacks. –And I am not a hater!  I love Tim Tebow. I have enjoyed following him since he entered the Swamp as a freshman at Florida. Tebow supporters have an obligation to be honest about his abilities and his limitations. So, here is my attempt to assess the value of Tim Tebow to the Denver Broncos New York Jets and to the NFL.  Tim Tebow is the 6th best quarterback in the NFL..

You read me rightly. Tim Tebow is the 6th best quarterback in the NFL right now.  You may wonder about the basis of such a statement.  My assessment is not the result of some strange, sports calculus. Unlike both the BCS ranking formula and the ESPN QB Ranking conundrum, my assessment is simple and straightforward. My assessment of a quarterback is related directly to how effectively the quarterback scores touchdowns.

There is no need to lock this secret formula into a vault somewhere; it is both simple and transparent, something that cannot be said of typical QB rankings and passer ratings. Here is a very simple way to assess an NFL quarterback.  How often does he score a touchdown?  On average, on plays in which he is handling the ball, how often does he get the ball in the end zone?

A long, long time ago (it seems now), before Tim Tebow replaced Kyle Orton as the Broncos signal caller, I made the assertion that Tim Tebow gave the Broncos the best chance to win games—much better than Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn or the guy throwing mile-high peanuts in Denver’s stadium.  Tebow was reportedly demoted to 14th string quarterback or something like that before last season. Yet, I made the assertion then that Tebow had something invaluable for an NFL quarterback: Tebow had a nose for the end zone.

He proved (in only 3 starts the prior season) to be willing and able to find pay-dirt.  The classic picture of him in the end zone against his college nemesis Florida State with blood-red paint from his face to his feet was no fluke. He burrowed his way into end zone after end zone in college, and he proved early to be able to do the same thing in the NFL.


In fact, Tim Tebow is the 6th best quarterback in the NFL at finding the end zone.  That is one of the main reasons he and the Broncos were 6-1 over his starting stretch.  Tim Tebow scores a touchdown—on average—for every 18.5 plays for which he is responsible (updated after 2011 Season, Tebow scored a TD for every 17.9 plays on the field).

In other words, when he runs or throws the ball, there will end up being a touchdown (not a field goal) by the 18th play.  There are only 5 quarterbacks in the NFL with better numbers than Tim Tebow.  In order, these 5 are (not surprisingly) as follows: Aaron Rodgers; Tom Brady; Drew Brees; Matthew Stafford; and Matt Schaub.

Before his injury, Matt Schaub was getting 6 points for every 18.06 plays in which he was a primary player.  Peyton Manning’s lifetime number is 18.16.  So, the Broncos did not win in spite of Tim Tebow. They won largely because of the contributions of Tim Tebow (whose TD numbers equal Manning).

The supposedly inept, unorthodox Tebow is scoring more efficiently than Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger.  His efficiency is neither a freak show nor a prep school fad, as some have suggested. It is, instead, basic football well played. “Hey, quarterback, get the ball in the end zone.”  The NFL is not so far removed from the prep school game if one remembers the basic goal of the game—which, for a quarterback, is to get the ball over the goal line.  Tim Tebow reaches paydirt better than most quarterbacks in the NFL.

Jets logo from Wikipedia

So, in favor of my position, I offer the following evidence from the Jets Training Camp:

Rich Cimini of ESPN, “Team insiders say the plan is to use Tebow in the red zone, where they can replace Sanchez with another player/blocker to bolster the running game. “

See Also, Tim Tebow Dominates at Goal Line.

Who is right, me or President Obama?

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Adoptions Down

The 2011 adoption statistics were just released, and they showed that adoptions are down in the U.S.  Indeed, adoptions were down a significant 15% from the 2010 numbers, and down a mind-boggling 60% from the peak numbers of 2004.  One must go back nearly two decades (1994) to find a year in which there were fewer adoptions than there were this past year.

What is going on?

Apparently, government interference is going on.  I’m not an anarchist. I’m not an anti-government libertarian.  I’m not even an “occupier.”  I am a parent who is caught up in the process of adopting 2 orphan boys from Ethiopia.  In 2010, Ethiopia completed 2,513 adoptions to parents in the U.S.  Last year, the number dropped to 1,727—which means 786 fewer orphans were brought into a forever family.  The reason for this is not that Ethiopia has fewer orphans needing to be adopted: There are still more than 4 million orphans awaiting adoption.  The reason for the decline is government intervention.

Of course, the government was compelled to intervene after dozens of serious irregularities were uncovered in Guatemala back in 2007.  The nadir of the Guatemalan adoption program came when 6 year-old Anyelí Liseth Hernández Rodríguez was adopted legally by a Missouri family who were told that she was an orphan. In truth, Anyelí was kidnapped from her home in Guatemala and sold as an orphan through the criminal actions of an adoption attorney and an agency worker in Guatemala.  The attorney and the agency worker have been found guilty of kidnapping and sentenced to 21 and 16-year prison terms respectively.  They have also been forced to pay heavy fines to the mother of the child.

The Guatemalan kidnapping sent shockwaves which have reverberated throughout the sea-bed of the inter-country adoption ocean, causing a literal tsunami of regulations to flood out orphanages from Ethiopia to Manila.  As regulations increased, adoptions decreased.

Everyone appears to understand the dynamic, but who is prepared to correct it?

No one condones kidnapping and child-trafficking (at least no one with a moral compass).  Obviously, little Anyelí is caught between two families who each appear to love her and call her their own, though she can only be with one of them—and not the other.  Her case has hamstrung the will of many adoption proponents who are now forced to ask whether it is worth it if even one case comes to separate a child from her parents. No doubt, any parent would answer in the negative if it were her child who was kidnapped.

Still, as tragic as Anyelí’s case is, it is but one—one case in more than 100,000. In fact, even though Guatemala’s adoptions have been shut down because of numerous infractions (such as forged birth certificates and falsified papers), the problem cases in Guatemala represented only 3% of the total adoptions which took place in 2007.  This means, of course, that 97% of the adoptions which were completed in that year ended with needy, abandoned children being united with a loving, familial embrace.

To state the matter another way, more than 15,000 orphans in Guatemala have not been available for adoption since 2007.  Instead of being united with families in the U.S. who desire to nurture them, many orphans have been left in orphanages to formulate their own family structure, attaching to workers and children who, no doubt, come and go throughout their lives.

Even more to the point (for it is understandable that extra precautions must be in place in Guatemala), in Ethiopia, adoptions have been cut in half because of increased fears of improprieties in the adoption process, even though no actual improprieties have been discovered.  What this means is that people like me must wade through the slog of paperwork, while patiently enduring a two-year process which winds up costing about $40,000.  Other countries are more difficult than Ethiopia.

Tragically, this means that little orphan boys and little orphan girls are forced to remain alone, abandoned, and, most likely, never adopted into a family.  By some estimates, there are more than 4 million orphans in Ethiopia.  Adopting at the current rate, it would take more than 2,300 years to get current orphans in Ethiopia into an adopting family; and that is operating on the impossible assumption that no further orphans will be added to that number. The task appears impossible.

Efforts of governmental agencies—no matter how well-intentioned—are hurting thousands and thousands of children in need of familial love.  The current downward spiral of inter-country adoptions needs to be reversed.

Chuck Johnson of the National Council for Adoption gets it right in this quote from a USA Today article: “This trend is not right, and it is not good for children.  Given the increasing number of orphaned children worldwide, the continued decline in intercountry adoptions means that children’s most basic needs and rights are being denied.”

May the Lord raise up more advocates to speak up for the little ones who need familial love.


What the Blind Man Sees

Blind human rights activist Chen has reportedly died from the torture and beatings he has endured at the hands of the Communist Chinese.  However, as this story notes,  no one can be sure of whether Chen is alive or dead, given the fact that the Communist government has sealed off access to Chen and has even shot at those trying to get a closer look at whether he is still alive.

Chen Guangcheng has been very active in the past, calling the world’s attention to the barbaric enforcement of the Chinese one-child policy. Whether he is alive or dead, the truth is certain that this blind man could see so much better than most what the value of human life actually is.  The video below is an excellent (and short) overview of Chen’s life.


Life Is the Winner

A Baby in the Womb

The little boy came galloping into his living room with his six-guns a-blazing.  On cue, his dad made a series of agonizing contortions, grabbing his chest and groaning loudly as he fell to the floor in dramatic style, making sure his little gunslinger received full compensation for his cowboy skills.  The little boy loved the scene. Gunfights were always OK in this living room corral—as long as the little guy was allowed to win.

When dad decided to fire back his imaginary pistols, the pint-sized Paladin refused to die in agony.  Instead, his face switched from glee to gloom, and his lip slightly quivered: “No fair. Gunfighters don’t sposed to die.  I don’t want to die, daddy.”  Life and death games are always more fun if you are on the winning side of life.  We never really outgrow this lesson, do we?

I thought of this as I considered how most of us consider ourselves “pro-life,” but we are a little unsure of how far this conviction should take us.  Do we, for instance, refuse treatment for a life-threatening disease on the grounds that the treatment was derived from the stem cells of human babies who were aborted?  It is a dilemma which tests the seriousness of our pro-life convictions.  Like the little boy, we don’t want to die.  Sure, we don’t want to destroy babies in the womb just to harvest their stem cells, but we really don’t want to die.  Should we refuse treatments derived from human embryos?

Thank God, that isn’t a choice we actually have to make.  You may think this is a choice you will have to make, but it isn’t.  Here is the reason you won’t have to make that choice.  There are no treatments being successfully used to cure anything with embryonic stem cells.  None.  Nothing is being helped—much less cured—by embryonic stem cells.

You may not believe this claim, or you may be confused by it.  After all, you might have received stem cell treatments.  One of your loved ones may have been helped by stem cell treatments.  So, you think that stem cells are being used to treat disease, right?  You are partially correct.  Stem cells are being used.  However, the stem cells which are being used to treat diseases are adult stem cells—not from human embryos.

In fact, a group of doctors who form the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics has compiled a list of stem cell success.  So far, according to their count, there are 73 successful treatments for diseases which use non-embryonic stem cells.  And there are 0 successful treatments using embryonic stem cells.  The score is 73-0 against taking stem cells from aborted babies.  In any game, 73-0 is a lopsided blowout.  Even in a staged gunfight, the dad insisted on at least 1 victory.  Embryonic stem cells have none.

Unfortunately, politicians have exploited the success of non-embryonic stem cells to continue aiding the abortion industry by encouraging embryonic stem cell research, but the science is against embryonic stem cells.  Common sense morality is against them, too.  Embryonic stem cell research destroys human life, while non-embryonic research extends it.  The choice is obvious, isn’t it?  The good news for us is that maybe we don’t have to die—thanks to non-embryonic stem cell research.  The sad news, on the other hand, is that some life has to die for embryonic stem cell research to take place.

A Marriage Proposal

First, I would like to thank Meredithancret for a cordial and spirited debate. We obviously disagree, but she has been respectful and has engaged in dialogue on the subject of gay marriage—a subject most consider too controversial to discuss.  I appreciate the fact that there has been actual dialogue, even if there is disagreement.  Thanks, Meredith. You can check out her blog here.

Second, I hope to address some of the concerns which have been voiced.  In fact, Meredith asked a very direct question which is at the heart of the debate concerning marriage.  It is too bad that others aren’t asking the same question.  She asked, “What is marriage?”

Historically, there have been 3 different answers posited in reply to this question.  The answers are as follows: Biological union, legal contract recognition, or beneficial economic arrangement.  Of these 3 options, I would say that I have been arguing for the first, while Meredith has been arguing for the second.  Why do I argue for marriage as a biological union? On the basis of reality.  I assert that the reality of humanity argues unambiguously for heterosexual marriage.

By this statement, I mean to say that heterosexual marriage is built into creation.  You may prefer to think of creation as the 19th Century followers of the Enlightenment did—as Nature (with a capital N).  Or, in your current progressive milieu, you may prefer nature (without the capital N).  Or you may have progressed already so far that you prefer to refer to reality in the laughable (yet often accepted) language of mother nature.  In former days, some would have used the terms, common sense.

Whatever you call it, it argues for heterosexual marriage. I mean to argue for heterosexual marriage from the perspective of easily recognizable reality.  When a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to a wife, the two become a new family unit.  The very natural outcome of the new couple’s coitus is, of course, children.  Hence, humanity progresses through the process of a man and woman leaving two families to start another family.  Nothing is more natural.  Humanity itself is furthered by this conjugal union, a fact which ought to please the evolutionists among us.

In this sense, then, cultures and societies are built upon the biological, conjugal relations of a man and a woman forming a family unit.  Contrary to what has been asserted, this notion is not the recent invention of the modern church.  It has been around since the original couple, Adam and Eve (thus the Matthew 19 reference).

Now, before anyone gets his hackles out of whack, allow me to say that I do believe in Adam and Eve as the original parents.  Evolutionists may or may not have a name for the original progenitors of humanity—I don’t know.  Regardless, there was an original male and female joined together to continue the human race.  Historically—even without reference to Adam and Eve—cultures and societies have been built around the conjugal union of a man and his wife.

We have records from the earliest civilization on record—ancient Sumer—which demonstrate that marriage was indeed between a man and a woman.  The custom was very much like that of Israel in the Old Testament.  The husband offered a bridal price for the woman he desired to marry.  After paying the bridal price to her father, the groom was able to take his bride out of her family home and into his home, where the two became a new family unit, recognized by their government as a new family unit.

No one here is asserting that the norm has been perfect, ubiquitous, or without anomalies and exceptions.  History includes polygamy and homosexuality.  Nevertheless, the enduring reality of heterosexual marriage as a foundational institution endures today as a vital aspect of humanity.  It is reality—even after New York.  It is such an obvious, foundational element of humanity that heterosexual marriage will endure beyond the most recent assaults against it.  Just as marriage endured as a lasting human institution through the political attempts of the 19th Century polygamists, so, too, will heterosexual marriage persevere through the 21st Century assaults of the same-sex marriage proponents.  And the reason heterosexual marriage will endure is that it is a fundamental reality of humankind rooted in biological union.

Against this plain reality, an alternate definition is being proposed by Meredith, namely, that marriage does not mean anything except what society decides for itself that marriage means.  Any attempt to establish marriage as inherently meaningful is so unreasonable that it could only come from religion.  If it comes from religion, then it must be dismissed because there can be no religious influence in matters of state control.  [I might be misunderstanding Meredith’s argument here, but this is the way I read it].  Therefore, marriage can only be given the definition of a social construct: Whatever society decides is right.

Against this, I would say that the ancient Sumerians weren’t “religious” if by religious we mean from a Judeo-Christian worldview.  Nevertheless, they recognized the value for society of the marriage between a man and a woman.  The Sumerians did not invent or define marriage, they recognized it as an inherent, biologically-based reality of the human condition.  To make it something less is to make marriage meaningless.  The notion that marriage is nothing more than what society decides is not pragmatically workable.

If this were the case, then marriage might just as well mean that 2 sisters living in an apartment together could call themselves married and, thus, enjoy the societal benefits of being married.  Why not?  What could possibly prevent these 2 consenting adults from being married?  Why should society discriminate against them just because they never found a man or another woman outside of their own family?  Why are these 2 sisters an acceptable target for the narrow-minded bigotry of restricting marriage to hetero/homosexual marriage?

Just as easily as society deems two men to be legally, contractually married, so, too, could society deem three men to be so or four men and two women.  Why not allow families to define themselves instead of having government define families?  Thus, the Manson Family would be every bit as legitimate as my family according to this definition.  Or else, on what basis would society exclude [discriminate against?] these adults wanting to enjoy the benefits of marriage?  On what basis would you exclude an adult daughter from marrying her father, especially after her mother passed away?  Could a woman enjoy the benefits of being married to her dog?  On what basis would that be excluded?  If marriage is self-defined, then its definition would have a limitless range.  In short, if marriage has no inherent meaning, then it has no meaning at all.

Viewing marriage as a mere social construct is untenable.  I suspect that Meredith and others would not care if the definitions changed and morphed into any number of carnal contortions.  Yet, that fact does not mean they don’t care about the definition of marriage.   In fact, if marriage were a mere social construct, then there would be no effort from gay activists to redefine it.

Consider it this way:  To all who would like to argue for the right of the state to define marriage anyway the state (or the majority of society) wishes it to be, I have this simple question for you to answer.  Why are you unwilling to accept the definition the states (majority of society) have already embraced?  About 60 % of the United States have constitutional amendments defining marriage exclusively between a man and a woman.  The question is already settled.  The states have defined marriage in the exact way they want it defined.  Why seek to overturn this definition?  On what grounds? You cannot answer that question without recourse to higher reality.  You believe in the inherent value of things apart from social constructs, you just don’t want to admit it.

A Little Monday Controversy

I know I shouldn’t wade into the New York controversy on a Monday morning, but I do think it is worth considering the question, “What is marriage?”  The successful effort of late in New York has redefined marriage to mean something that it has not meant before.  The state has changed the reality of what we know as marriage.

Obviously, I would object to a redefinition on “religious” grounds (see Romans 1:18ff).  But this issue is not necessarily a “religious” issue.  It is a “reality” issue.  George Weigel has a thoughtful explanation of what the decision in New York means in terms of the power of the state to impose its own reality on the citizenry.  Please give his column a thoughtful read without the emotional, knee-jerk thoughtlessness of many comments I have read lately by gay rights advocates who believe gay marriage is a civil rights issue. The issue is not a civil rights issue (for reasons Weigel explains).  The issue is one of dismantling reality into an alternate image desired by political power.

The issue is an attempt to redefine reality.  Such a redefinition does not enlarge us, it diminishes us by disconnecting us from the rails of reality.  A train does not become more free by jumping off its tracks–even if the field it enters promises to be vast and expansive and full of riches.  Marriage has been defined and is defined a certain way.  Pretending it can be another might make some feel better about themselves for a short season, but it will do nothing to protect and preserve humanity.

Reality is what it is, and no state–not even New York–has the authority to alter it.  Sadly, what I believe will follow in New York is a whole new set of freedoms lost in an attempt to maintain this new unreality.  Religious freedom will be the first freedom to go.  Freedom of speech will be second.  The state will have to control its newfangled reality by force because it will not be able to rely on what is self-evidently obvious any longer.  So, the state will have to force religious charities to act according to its legalized unreality.  Then, the state will force its citizenry not to speak against its brave new order of legislated reality. That is what I think this decision means from a political perspective.  That is why, sociologically speaking, I oppose New York’s new law.

Read Weigel’s piece. I think he explains it well from a non-sectarian perspective.

Garden Majesty

[This post was composed on the morning of June 25, 2011, in honor of a certain young lady who helped her Daddy in the garden.]

Chivalry these days appears to be in hiding, and some think it is dead altogether; but I am happy to report that chivalry has made his appearance known today in grand fashion, with all the majestic splendor one would expect from regal character.  As anyone who follows the affairs of the Royal Family could attest, the arrival today of Lord Tiller had long been expected.  All of the faithful who are familiar with the garden kingdom have looked for—nay, longed for—the day that Sir Tiller would enter the garden kingdom with his entourage of power trailing in smooth succession behind his every move.  Today, Lord Tiller arrived.

Good Sir Tiller has been called many things, but weak was never one.  His power is nearly unparalleled in the garden kingdom.  Indeed, if there were a fault with Sir Tiller, it would be the very power which gives him his strength.  While Sir Tiller no doubt accomplishes his tasks—all of them—with the force and vigor of a king leading the charge in battle, he sometimes engages those tasks with the prowess of a bear.  Just as you wouldn’t want your own garden trampled by a wild grizzly bear, you also would not want your productive little plot of vital vegetables mangled by the unbridled power of Lord Tiller.  He tramples underfoot the habanero as easily as he does the dandelion.  He is so high above each that he distinguishes neither from the other.

Lord Tiller understands his exalted status.  Thus, Lord Tiller wisely puts in place his precautionary pawns to prepare the way for his every arrival.  And today was no exception to his exceptional ability to deploy noble personnel who make ready the pathway for his regal procession.  On this particular occasion, Sir Tiller employed the remarkable assistance of Lady Rebekah—the finest path preparer since John the Baptist himself.  In selecting the Lady Rebekah, Sir Tiller’s wisdom was once again on dazzling display.  Lady Rebekah wielded her 2 green protector rods through the garden plot as a careful shepherd would guide and guard his most vulnerable little lamb.  The Lady’s rod gently held back this tomato, while her other rod was pushing forward the cucumber. It was a splendid show of balance and dexterity as the good Lady selflessly floated backwards to the rhythm set by Lord Tiller, never missing a beat.  Lady Rebekah’s deftness was bedazzling to the eye of every onlooker.  She moved in perfect time, following the commanding lead of Lord Tiller. Together, they practically waltzed through the garden with the grace and beauty of the finest ballroom dancers. Oh, splendid indeed was this array of talent coursing through the cowpeas.

After these two had finished pirouetting through the peppers, there was no doubt that royalty was on display.  The unmatched beauty and regaled splendor of this happy pair will long be remembered in local garden lore.  This celebrated fable is, of course, untrue, but it is undoubtedly a real account of the improvements made to the central garden on this stunning summer day.

And because this tale is labeled a fable, it must indeed have a point. The point is simply this, the Royal Family has entrusted us with a fertile plot which we must yet tend. We cannot always rely on the selfless appearance of Lord Tiller or his faithful Lady Rebekah.  We must take our yeoman’s hoe into the garden kingdom ourselves and with our own less-than-regal fingers pluck out the enemy’s tares so that our Lord’s wheat abounds. We may not be so royally blessed in the coming weeks, as Lord Tiller has now taken his leave from us this day.  Let us be thankful we had his magnificent presence for a day and continue our work tomorrow, with or without good Lady Rebekah.

C. T. Studd

In 1882, Australia beat England in a Test cricket match for the first time on British soil. A satirical obituary was written, proclaiming the death of British cricket. As the legend goes, a cricket bail was burned to ashes and placed in an urn.  Now, each time the two teams play, the meeting is considered a quest to regain the ashes.  Thus, the tradition of the Ashes was born.

One of the best batsmen in England during that original Ashes cricket match was a man named Charles Studd.  Unfortunately for England, Studd’s batting partner, Ted Peate, was bowled out before Studd could get the remaining few runs needed to secure England’s victory, thus allowing Australia to capture the Ashes.

[Click Here] to continue the biography of this fascinating man.

Should We Pray for Satan?

Should the Christian pray for Satan?  If anyone stands in need of prayer it is Satan.  He is facing the most awful form of eternal torment for his role in leading humans astray and in fueling the flames of rebellion against the Creator and against his redeemer.  Satan is referred to as the father of lies who speaks in lies and deals out murder.  This lying and murdering comes forth from him because it was his nature from the beginning (John 8:44).  Satan is a creature without hope of reclamation.  There are two reasons that Christians ought not to pray for him.

First, prayers for Satan would prove to be futile in the end.  Satan will remain true to his nature for eternity.  God has not purposed to remedy his condition but, rather, to punish it through the eternal exercise of his justice.  Satan was a murderer and the father of lies from the beginning, and he will prove to be so to the end.  There is an eternal fire of judgment already prepared for Satan, and to that eternal destruction he will most assuredly go (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10).  We have the Word of God assuring us of what Martin Luther sang regarding Satan: “Lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.”  The Word of God will put Satan under Jesus’ feet forever (Hebrews 1:13; 10:12-13).  So, why pray against what God has already revealed as  certain to take place?

Likewise, a second response follows up this line of thinking.  If God has declared that Satan’s doom is sure, then this determination is also the will of God.  Christians dare not pray against the will of God.  Nowhere are Christians instructed to pray for Satan against the will of God.  Instead, Christians are instructed in many strategies by which they can overcome the power and influence of the devil.

Christians are instructed, for instance, to resist the devil so that he will flee (James 4:7).  In context, this instruction means at least that Christians are to draw near to God as a means of resisting demonic influence.  Drawing near in this passage appears to be related to obedience.  Likewise, Christians are instructed to take up faith as a shield in order to extinguish the devil’s fiery missiles (Ephesians 6:16).  And again, Christians are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds.  They are to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ as a means of breaking down the strongholds of Satan (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

These and other strategies are to be employed by the Christian in his fight to remain safe against the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9).  As Christians employ these strategies, they demonstrate faith.  They believe what God’s word says about Satan and about their own vulnerability to his attacks.  The safest ground in this fight is ground which Christ has already claimed.  So, the Christian will stay close to Christ, giving Satan no audience.  The Christian must always keep his eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of faith. He cannot afford to glance away from Christ even long enough to say a prayer for Satan; it is too dangerous.  So, stay fixed on Jesus.

One final comment still seems in order.  Though Satan is a defeated enemy, and the matter with him is fixed and firm, that same kind of finality does not exist with human beings trapped under his power or dead to Christ on account of the curse.  Christians are—as your question points out—instructed to pray for their enemies.  Jesus taught that Christians are to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them, thus proving to be children of their heavenly father.  Such instruction is significant in light of John 8:44.  Everyone has a spiritual father.  Love for others—even for enemies—is an indication of heavenly fatherhood.

The Apostle Paul echoes these sentiments, saying, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Romans 12:14).  Paul (a former persecutor himself) understood all too well that a persecutor might yet be claimed for the kingdom of Christ.  The faithful witness of those persecuted might prove to be powerful to save human beings who persecute Christians.  Yet, even with his background, and even with his command for Christians to bless their persecutors, Paul still says plainly in this same chapter: “hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good.”  So, while Paul may say we ought to pray for those persecuting us, he would still say to hate Satan who is evil. Cling to Christ, who is good.

Instead of praying for Satan, Jesus taught us to pray daily that our heavenly Father would protect us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13). That prayer, then, is the safest and best prayer of all.

Why the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

Recently, a friend and brother in Christ bombarded me with a dozen or so questions pertaining to aspects of the Christian faith which have recently been puzzling him.  I asked and received permission from him to post my responses here on this blog, thinking that if he has these questions, then others may have them also. So, I will be posting his questions and my responses in the coming days, hoping to help and encourage him and you. Feel free to add your responses and to send in your questions as well.


Why Did God Choose to Put the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden?

Interesting question. The smart aleck in me wants to answer, “Where else would you want Him to put them?”  But I know better than to mock an honest question!  Besides, we will see in just a moment that the two trees had to be at the center of the Garden.

If I understand the question rightly, then you are asking something like, “Why tempt Adam and Eve like this?”  Why is there both a tree of life and a tree of knowledge of good and evil?

I think the answer is simply profound. God takes ordinary elements and speaks profound life lessons through them (think of Jesus with bread and wine).  The two trees are named.  Notice the difference in the names.  The one is the tree of life, but the other is not the tree of death.  These two trees do not represent two ways to life; they only represent one way to live.  In other words, the two trees are not opposites.  Adam and Eve could not be tempted with death.  They had no desire for death, no appetite for death.  So, the second tree in the Garden is not the tree of death; it is the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Why is this important? It underscores the nature of God, the nature of Adam and Eve, and the nature of the Fall.  Adam, Eve, and all of creation were created by God and declared “very good” (Gn 1:31).  Adam and Eve were not stuck in neutral, deciding whether to live or die. They weren’t caught in the balance between sinning and not sinning.  They were, in fact, good.  They were walking in fellowship with God.  They would not have been tempted to murder each other like their offspring were.  That would have been contrary to their natures.

However, it would not have been contrary to their natures to become more god-like.  They had a right desire for fellowship with God.  Therefore, becoming more god-like suited them like breast milk suits the nursing infant.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represented an increase in knowledge, an increase in wisdom, and an increase in understanding more of what God understood.  Surely, God Himself possessed infinite knowledge of good and evil.  So, for Adam and Eve to learn more of the knowledge God possessed would have been “natural” to them.

By nature, Adam and Eve would have been drawn to pursuing knowledge which would make them know more of what God knows.  And yet, this increase in knowledge was not good for them.  They knew that because God told them that it was not good for them.  He spoke a command against their partaking of the fruit from this tree.  So, in effect, Adam and Eve’s temptation came disguised in the form of two different good choices, each of which was according to their nature: Obeying God or seeking knowledge.

Adam and Eve had been given the responsibility of ruling over creation.  They needed knowledge suitable for the task.  They needed to understand animals and agriculture.  They needed to understand water, nutrients, harvests, and horticulture.  They needed to stay hungry for knowledge.  So, they were obviously able to be tempted through this otherwise good aspect of their nature as lords over creation.

They did not need the knowledge of evil in order to accomplish the work God had given them.  They could have had a very fruitful life (literally!) by tending the Garden and enjoying fellowship with God.  They needed knowledge, for sure, but they did not need the knowledge of evil. Instead, what they needed more than anything else was to depend upon the living God.  So, the first tree God gave them was the Tree of Life (Gn 2:9).  If they had eaten of that tree, continuing to rely upon God for their very lives, they would have lived.

Instead, they ate of the forbidden tree which instantly gave them the knowledge of evil (namely, their own!).  They immediately learned of their nakedness.  They were immediately ashamed.  And they immediately had the sentence of death hanging upon them.  Instantly, they went from being alive to needing salvation.  The instant one forgets his dependence upon his creator, he stands in desperate need of a redeemer.

So, the answer to your question is that God put the two trees in the center of the Garden of Eden to proclaim the central truth to Adam and Eve (and to all humankind) that He alone is the creator and sustainer of life.  In addition, the Lord used the two trees further to display His unspeakable mercy.  Even after Adam and Eve rebelled against Him and unleashed on themselves the curse of death, still, God acted mercifully toward them, sending them out of the Garden and sealing it off before they could eat of the Tree of Life.  If they had eaten of the Tree of Life after they partook of the forbidden tree, they would likely have sealed the death sentence on humankind forever.  God’s purpose was not to allow that; instead, God had purposed from the beginning to provide salvation.  So, he removed them from the Garden.

On a final note, God planted both trees in the center of the Garden to make known His glory to all humankind.  He did not need to “wait and see” what would happen with Adam and Eve.  He knew before they were created how it would all turn out.  Thus, his choice of the trees was not coincidental.  He ordered all of it so that His glory would be revealed—even through the sinfulness of Adam and Eve.

God put the two trees in the middle of the Garden—the central focal point of all creation.  The two trees stood at the center of the universe.  Life flowed forth throughout the rest of creation from this very central point (see Gn 2:10-14).  At the center of creation was the single question, “Who is God?”  A very close question, related to the first, was, “Who is man?”  These two questions were hanging in the air like ripened fruit on two different trees in the midst of the Garden of Eden.  Both questions were quickly answered in the Fall.  As it turns out, God is holy, just, and merciful.  Man is sinful, under a curse, and in need of redemption.  That, I believe, is why God put the two trees in the midst of Eden. To answer the two most basic questions of life.

The Pastor’s Wife

The position of “pastor’s wife” is a difficult one at any time in any place, but this recently released video of Sabina Wurmbrand puts it in a whole new light.  Sabina’s husband, Richard, was the founder of Voice of the Martyrs.  Her story is almost as dramatic as his.  This new video tells her story and is worth taking a few minutes to watch it. It gives some insight into Christian persecution and what the ministry is all about.

Help with Getting Your Kids to Bed

You have probably never led a battalion of soldiers into battle. You have never trembled from mortar blasts near at hand; but, somehow, you feel that you have been to war.  You know that children are a blessing, but you also know that you need to sit for about 10 minutes in ceremonial silence each night after putting them to bed, allowing your body to readjust to the reality of peace and quiet in your home.  Each night after the kids finally go to sleep, you feel like you’ve been to war.  You love your kids, but peace at bedtime is hard to find. Is there anything you can do to relieve the battleground tension of putting your kids to bed?  Perhaps there are some things to do that will help.

According to Dr. Jodi Mindell, a child sleep specialist, one of the most important things parents can do to enact a bedtime peace treaty with their children is to establish a routine for them.  In her book, Sleeping Through the Night, Dr. Mindell advocates establishing routines even at the infant stage.  “Babies and children love routines and relish schedules.  They like to know what is going to happen next.  They are also better behaved when things are similar and follow a known pattern.”[1]

So, even while your children are still in the infant stage, you can actually train them to sleep through the night on a schedule.  Maybe it sounds crazy, but many folks testify to the success of training your children from infancy to put themselves to bed and to sleep through the night.  What does this baby training look like?

Basically, the baby training strategy for winning the bedtime battle is one in which the parents take control of the child’s schedule.  Inject routine into your child’s life from the time they are infants.  You may think it’s wrong to impose a schedule upon your sweet, snuggly bundle of chubby-love, but it is actually the best thing to do for your baby (and your own hope for rest).  As Dr. Mindell points out, babies thrive when there is the security of a nightly routine.

The thriving nature of a nightly routine is true for children as well as for babies.  Dr. Mindell offers a chapter in the book which gives numerous testimonies about the benefits of a nightly routine.  A nightly routine makes a plain statement about your expectations for your child.  Likewise, a nightly routine also communicates order in the home.

Dr. Mindell tells several stories of families and their bedtime routines.  Some families read a book together each night before going to bed.  Others (with young children) recite their ABC’s together or count to 10 before nodding off to sleep.  Still other families choose to incorporate family devotions into their nightly routines.  Dr. Donald Whitney spells out the procedures for an evening devotional routine in his book, Family Worship.[2] In this way, families both institute routine and order, while teaching their children the basics of their beliefs.

Whether you are working through the ABC’s or common Bible stories, the routine itself will help to establish order and expectations which should produce better sleep.  The order might work as follows:

Each night, the parents call the children into the living area around 35 or 40 minutes before the time the children should be asleep.  If bedtime is 9:00, for instance, the parents should call the children into the living room around 8:20.  Read, sing, recite, pray, or whatever you have chosen to do together as a family.  Then, finish basic bedtime routines: make sure teeth get brushed, diapers get changed, and children go to the potty. And, above all else, make sure children get a good night kiss with a loving hug.

After this, the children may wish to ask questions.  Allow for questions because their minds are often racing after reading good material.  After your time of interaction, announce to the children that they are expected now to go to bed.  Further announce that you will be turning out all lights at 9:00, letting them know how many more minutes they may continue reading or praying or drawing in their beds before it is officially lights out at 9:00.  (For smaller children, you may want to leave on a night light).

Keeping to this routine is sometimes difficult, but the children will demonstrate a natural acclimation to it.  They will adapt.  Just keep the routine.  The National Sleep Foundation reiterates the need for keeping a routine each night before going to bed, as well as the need for keeping a routine concerning a standard bedtime and the amount of sleep you get each night.  Children cannot keep such a routine or understand the significance of order in their sleeping habits.  They need their parents to teach them.

So, parents, engage the battle for better sleep.  Win the war against sleepless nights.  Rest triumphantly in your nightly victory against unruly children awake too long or waking too often overnight.  Win the war for peace of mind in your own home by implementing these bedtime strategies.

[1] Jodi Mindell, Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep (New York: HarperCollins, 1997), 65.

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Family Worship: In the Bible, In History, and In Your Home (Center for Biblical Spirituality).

A Shout Out to Parents

Parents be encouraged. There are two recent studies which indicate that your involvement with your children is irreplaceable.  The most important figures in a child’s life are his parents.  Check out the full article, and be encouraged, parents. You are the greatest!

The Loss and Gain of Springtime Gardens


The article linked above is one designed to help us cope with loss, or, better, to see some gain even through our losses.  Spring is the time for planting, for hoping, for expecting new life.  Gardening is one of the joys offered each spring.  I wrote the article above with two thoughts in mind.  First, I was thinking of my dad.  Second, I was thinking of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh called “The Potato Eaters.”  The painting is not particularly famous. Most write it off as Van Gogh’s “early” work before he became fascinated with the pursuit of the perfect yellow.  Nevertheless, the painting is a brilliant display of the “earthiness” of all people.  That theme is obvious in the gardening article above. Hopefully, the article will be both sobering and encouraging for you as springtime rolls around.

The Potato Eaters by Vincent Van Gogh

Where Peaceful Muslims Stand

I don’t understand the outrage against Representative Peter King.  He is asking whether there is a problem with Islamic terror within the population of Muslims in America.  The sensible nature of his inquiry is on display in the shootings at Ft. Hood and in the attempted bombing of Times Square and in the attempted bombing in Detroit and in the attempted bombing in Oregon—not to mention the fall of the World Trade Center and the more than 3,000 souls who perished in a single day of Islamic terror.

Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison weeping at hearings on extent of radical Islam in America.

I watched a news report concerning these hearings, and the audience appeared overly eager to pronounce the patriotism of Muslims in America because there was a Muslim man killed on 911 in the World Trade Center.  Yes, he was a courageous American, but the 19 other Muslims who carried out the terrorist attack that day certainly were not.  The question being asked by Representative King is not whether Muslims are patriotic in general.  The question is not whether the majority of Muslims are terrorists. No one thinks that the majority of Muslims are terrorists.  But anyone who doubts whether the majority of terrorists are Muslims is a lunatic.  The majority of terrorists in the world and in the United States are Muslims. It is a fact.

This fact needs to be admitted by all so that a measure of sanity might again prevail.  The question is not whether the average American Muslim is a terrorist.  The question is whether the average American Muslim understands the nature of Islamic terror.  Indeed, the question is whether the average American understands the nature of Islamic terror.  We desperately need to get a handle on the reality of Islamic terror.

Calling a member of congress an Islamaphobe because he is asking important questions is childish, and, worse, it is deadly.  The case of Major Hassan in Ft. Hood, TX, shouts as an indictment against our feigned outrage concerning Muslim inequality in America. Major Hasan was propped up in his position as a Captain and a therapist in the army, even though he was known to have sympathies with Jihadist terror movements. So, while he was plotting the murders of 13 innocent and unsuspecting Americans, our military leaders were appeasing him at every turn so as not to give the impression that there is any bias against Muslims.  Granted, there should be no bias against Muslims, but there should be no bias toward them either—especially when those Muslims are known to have ties to terror cells!  How many Americans have to die before we wake up from our drunken stupor of political correctness?

I am glad Representative King has the fortitude to ask some basic questions to find out how many Major Hasan’s are plotting to kill American citizens.  I don’t want America to become like Egypt or Ethiopia, where Muslims slaughter non-Muslims at an alarming rate.  I don’t think anyone living in Soul (Atfif), Egypt, really cares that the majority of Muslims are peaceful.  All they know is their village was ransacked and burned, and their relatives were killed by Muslims in the name of Allah.  Likewise, in the Jimma zone of Ethiopia, 59 churches have been burned, 28 Christian homes have been destroyed, and more than 4,000 Christians have been displaced in the name of Allah.  Do these thousands of displaced people need to be told that the majority of Muslims are patriotic and peace-loving?  It hardly matters to them.  What matters to them is finding a place to live now that Muslims destroyed their homes.

The sad reality is that Egypt and Ethiopia are not as bad as other Muslim areas.  To act as though there is no problem with Islamic terror is to act as a fool who naively offers the hangman his own noose.  Moderate Muslims are irrelevant.  They do not speak for Islam.  If moderate Muslims wish to become a relevant part of the conversation, then let them speak out against Islamic terror rather than speaking out against an American representative who is trying to do something about it.

When has there even been such an Islamic outcry against acts of terror as there is now an Islamic outcry against Representative Peter King of New York?  When there is, then we will know where the peaceful Muslims stand.

Suicide Shift

The state of Oregon has been a “leader” in the euthanasia movement in America.  I say “leader” in quotes because I am not sure that progress is always in a good direction (there is a fine line between progress and regress).  That is an inherent problem with the “progressive” political movement.  Just because one is progressing away from the status quo does not guarantee that the movement is good.  Children sometimes move away from their parents in crowded parking lots, and the results are not good.  The question is whether Oregon’s leadership in the euthanasia movement is a good thing.  I happen to think it is not.

A recent phenomenon has emerged with a dying man in Oregon.  According to this news report, the man has become an internet sensation through Reddit and Youtube, as he has chronicled his own death and invited others along for his final ride into eternity.  Lucidending—the username of the dying man—has posted a video which has been viewed more than 75,000 times concerning his death.  His Reddit statistics are among the top 10 all-time, making him an internet sensation.

Lucidending does not represent a good ending for Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” laws.  These laws are purportedly designed to increase human dignity through the process of death, but they end accomplishing just the opposite.  And here is why.  Before passing such laws, the general disposition of the state was to uphold the value of all human life.  After passing the law, the state surrendered its high ground on the value of human life by joining with the forces of death, which whisper in the ears of the sick, the handicapped, the bed-ridden, and the elderly, telling them that their lives are worthless because they cannot contribute, telling them further that they ought to go ahead and die.  Indeed, these laws affirm for them not only that they should die, but that they should die quickly—even if it means killing themselves.

This surrender to the forces of death by the state of Oregon is an action which diminishes the value of human life, even though, admittedly, it was designed to preserve “dignity.”  But dignity is a non-descript term; it can morph into whatever meaning its speaker assigns to it.  It is not a fixed concept.  So, someone can kill himself instead of suffering and call that dignified.  Others assert that dignity is found in suffering well, drawing a family together with loved ones to the end.  Regardless of who is right and who is wrong in that debate, the conclusion of the matter is still found in the fact that Oregon has not increased dignity, but, rather, has diminished all human life by saying that some people are better off dead.  It is very sad to me that so many people have cheered this poor man on to kill himself, even though he has admitted that he is terrified of dying, not knowing what lies beyond death.

To wrestle with the implications of a pro-life way to die, see this article.  To see where “Death with Dignity” thinking ultimately leads, check out this article.



See the People

Yad Vashem, the Jewish museum of the Holocaust, has published a short video which chronicles the fate of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz.  The video doesn’t take long to watch, and it doesn’t contain any gory photos of the unspeakable horrors which happened in that ungodly place. It is merely a page-by-page perusal of a photo album that inadvertently made its way out of Germany and into the Yad Vashem Museum. This photo album simply shares pictures of people, pictures of human beings who were treated as though they could easily be discarded from the earth.  And so they were.

Take a few minutes to remember the victims of Auschwitz.  Just look through this photo album filled with pictures of people.

The Auschwitz Album

China One Child Tragedy

I know the story of Xiao (pronounced “Sha-ow”) is not “news” right now, considering that it happened last fall, but, still, the tragedy of China’s one-child policy is brought out in such starkly human terms that it is hard to ignore. It is a sad story.  Xiao Ai Ying and her husband were expecting their second child.  Eight months pregnant, Xiao was already letting her first child feel the baby move and already talking about what it would be like when the new child arrived in their home.  But the new child never did arrive in their home.

The child became yet another victim of China’s one-child policy.  Police held Xiao in custody, and, after questioning her, they injected her womb with a solution to kill the child.  She was then taken to a hospital in order to deliver the dead child.  Xiao’s baby did die.  And now, in accordance with the “Family Planning” controls of the People’s Republic of China, life is supposed to be better for Xiao and her family.  If you watch the couple speak of the ordeal, you get the clear sense that their lives were not made better by the government’s family planning.

Interestingly, the news media who covered the incident seemed to get diverted by geography.  The story became less about the practice of forced abortions in China and more about the surprise that it happened in a metropolitan area.  The news reporters appear surprised, however, because they expect the Chinese government to uphold the value of life.  Forcing a woman to have an abortion while she is 8 months pregnant seems an awful lot like… well, like killing a baby.  This reality obviously made the NPR news crew a little nervous.  So, following the lead of the Al Jazeera reporter who originated the story, they made the story about how surprising it was that this happened in a metro area instead of in a rural area.

But, really, what difference does it make where this horror unfolded?  The reporter’s narrative is supposed to be that only in the “hick” and “backwoods” areas of China would one find these forced abortions, but that is a silly narrative.  All over China, there is a one-child policy for the sake of family planning.  Chinese officials admit that they vigorously promote family planning to lower the growth of their population.  Even in the supposedly more humane metro areas, women who violate this one-child policy are subject to a fine of up to $40,000 and then a forced sterilization after the birth of the child.  Granted, this is “more humane” than a forced abortion, but it is still inhumane.

This horror in China is a direct outgrowth of the policies of Communist government of China.  There is no inconsistency between the official policy and the practice of forced abortion.  The news reports make it sound as though there is this vast inconsistency between the Communist government and some of its overzealous local leaders who go too far.  In other words, the news reports make it sound as though this forced abortion is merely the result of zealous upstarts wanting to make for themselves a name, and that it isn’t connected to official Chinese policy.

But of course it is connected directly to the official Chinese policy, which is why some responsible lawmakers called on President Hu Jintao during his recent visit to the White House to reverse the forced abortion policy in China.  NPR assumes the news angle for this story is a vindication of Communist leaders.  The news agency goes to some lengths to assert that the central Communist commanders must be unaware of the awful realities of forced abortions.  But the argument doesn’t seem to fit.  The argument agrees that the  local government officials are dependent upon meeting their population target goals in order to advance their careers, but then the argument leaves the problem at the level of these local governments. Local officials supposedly get too excited about meeting their population goals, and so they go too far.  Rather than simply encouraging abortions, they actually cause abortions.

But wouldn’t that argument be something like a parent telling his child that he will get an allowance if he steals $10 per week worth of merchandise from Wal-mart and then, when the racket is made public, turning the child in as a thief?  Who is setting these population target goals? Why are they so important at the local level?  Isn’t it because they are deemed important at the higher levels, you know, at the levels of the people who decide who gets promoted and who does not?  Maybe rather than focusing on the supposedly overzealous local leaders, the news reports need to focus on the Communist leaders who insist upon setting population goals as a means of enforcing the one-child policy.

It is astounding how quickly the ugliness of abortion (I mean “family planning”) is colored over so that attention is diverted away from reality.  This news story about Xiao Ai Ying and the baby who had to die in the name of family planning tells us something about ourselves.  We know the awfulness of abortion.  The writers of the NPR story are uncomfortable with the reality of abortion and the reality of China’s forced abortion policy, but their problem is that they cannot face the reality of their own repulsion.  To do so would acknowledge the need to repent of supporting abortion.  To acknowledge the awfulness of this awful reality would be to surrender the “freedom” of after –the-fact birth control.  Though we know how hideous it is to kill babies in the womb, we still want the freedom to do it to escape the responsibility of parenthood and maintain our right to sexual promiscuity.  That seems to be all the abortion debate is really about–at least in America.  In China, women have more than the right to an abortion.  They have a duty.  The government sometimes enforces this duty.


Why All Christians Must Witness

In many countries around the world, there is a kind of “tolerance” of religions which says that you can believe what you want as long as you don’t proselytize anyone else.  In other words, you can be a Christian, you just can’t tell anyone about it.  Sure, you can be a Christian privately but don’t bring it in public.

I am sure there are many in America who would like it if we adopted this “I-wish-you’d-just-shut-up” policy. They foolishly and naively think that there would be peace if only the Christians would be quiet about sin and forgiveness. But Christians aren’t the cause of the lack of peace.  And, even if we were, the plain fact of the matter is that we cannot be silent.  Several reasons have been offered to explain why the mute button doesn’t work with Christians.


Some would say the main reason we are not silent is that we are commanded by Christ to speak, to witness to the glory of God.  We are commanded by Christ to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Trinity and teaching them to observe everything that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).  This is the Great Commission of the church.  Though some have argued that this was meant for the disciples only or for the first church only, that position has not convinced many in our day.  We understand that the first disciples were the first evangelists, but they were not the only evangelists.  Philip and Stephen and Barnabas and Timothy and Apollos and the woman at the well in John 4 are all examples of evangelism in action by those who were not Apostles.  And Acts 8 makes plain that those who are persecuted flee to another city, where they, naturally share the gospel.  Christians feel compelled by the commandments of Christ to share the good news with the world.

Christians are compelled by love, too.  Far beyond the mere command from Christ that His followers should make disciples of all nations is the compulsion in the believer to love others.  As Christ taught, the whole law is summed up in the compulsion to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-40).  Because Christians have been loved by God (even though they deserved his wrath), they understand that love is freely given and not earned.  They are free to love all men, even the most unlovely among them.  So, Christians in love will share the love of Christ with others.

It only makes sense that Christians would be concerned for others.  After all, Christians have been where unbelievers are—strangers of God without hope.  We were captured by grace.  We tasted the bitter fruits of sin and were rescued from its destruction by the grace of God.  Therefore, without any haughtiness or pretense, we speak of the hope of Christ to others. Out of concern for their souls, we speak.  We desire for others to have what we have—peace with God and a certain hope over all things, even over death itself.  We would be callous and unloving if we did not want these priceless, eternal gifts to be available to others.

So, to put the matter in its simplest form, we witness because we are witnesses.  Christians cannot be silent because we are completely remade by the Word of God.  The Word has made us new creatures.  The Word has reshaped our minds, our hearts, our loves, our hopes, our priorities, and our joy.  So, how can the Word not be heard?  God’s Word always accomplishes the purpose for which it goes out. God’s Word will be heard.

To understand what I mean, try holding your breath. Oh, sure, you can do it for a while, maybe a minute or two, but not longer.  The reason is that our lungs are designed to breathe.  What they inhale, they must exhale.  And so it is with the church of God.  What she breathes in, she must breathe out.  And the individuals in the church breathe in the Word of God, and, so, they breathe out the Word of God.  It is that simple.  Christians share because they are Christians.

We are the light of the world. Light shines in the darkness.

Savior Siblings and Septic Sons

“Unto Us, a Savior Is Born in France,” such is the triumphant tone of the science headlines from across the pond in France, where the latest “savior sibling” has arrived.  He is a healthy baby boy, weighing in at just over 8 lbs.  The first “savior sibling” was born in the U.S. back in 2000.  His name is Adam Nash.  Blood from his umbilical cord was used to save his sister’s life and caused no physical harm to him.

Nevertheless, the concept of a “savior sibling” is troubling in at least 3 significant ways: (1) It devalues all human life by making one human being the instrument by which another human being prospers. Just as slavery devalued all human life by acting as though some people were not “really persons,” so, too, savior siblings have the same effect of saying that one person’s life is valued only insofar as it serves someone else, someone prior, someone superior.  (2) It leads to a kind of enslavement.  Consider, for example, the movie My Sister’s Keeper.  In that film, the savior sibling was expected to donate a kidney for her dying sister because this is what a savior sibling does.  Such scenarios are not potentialities; they are necessities of this way of thinking about human beings.  (3) It makes gods out of scientists—and that is never a good thing.  Through IVF, scientists screen and discard many embryos, getting down to the genetically perfect match for the ailing sibling.  Already, human entities have been discarded, and this new savior child has been designed for the purpose of serving as a farm-like feeding trough of anatomical parts for parents to use in saving their favored child.

Anytime any form of human life becomes “less than human” or “not worthy of life” (as the Nazis would say), then door is opened to killing for a “higher” cause, thus fulfilling Romans 3: “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery.”  The concept of savior siblings is built upon the notion that someone has a right to design and utilize the birth of a human being for the purpose of enhancing the life of another human being.  This is wrong because it devalues one human being in the face of another, defying the reality that each one of us (male and female) is created in the image of God.

We have become a people who are comfortable with such concepts as savior siblings because we, already, believe that mothers (even teen mothers) have the right to decide whether their children should live or die.  If a mother has the right to determine whether her baby lives or dies, then why would she not have the right to determine whether the baby donates cord blood or even a kidney?  The logic is inescapable.

Because of abortion, we have become quite dull in discerning the value of a human life.  Consequently, we find that some women are comfortable with having abortions, while others are ok with flushing their babies down the toilet (or at least trying to).  How do we get to a place in which a woman thinks it is all right to flush her son into a cesspool to die?  By devaluing human life in the womb.  If she could have killed the baby while it was in the womb, then why should she not be able to kill the baby once it comes out?  Again, the logic is sadly unavoidable.

I don’t think we should be bit surprised that parents with the help of doctors and scientists are designing babies to serve the needs of their unhealthy offspring. Parents want healthy children.  And science wants something new–anything new.  Upholding the value of human life has never been the strength of a godless science.  The 19th Century seeded the scientific psyche with the eugenics that was quickly employed in Nazi Germany (more slowly in the U.S. through Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood).  The 20th Century saw the Tuskegee experiments, the perverted Kinsey “science” of sexuality, and the celebration of “Dr. Death.” These examples make clear that Science alone cannot uphold the value of human life because science is, primarily, nothing more than a method of inquiry designed to increase knowledge.  Science is a quest for knowledge; it needs to have philosophy to determine the boundaries of where its inquiries might take place.  With a Judeo-Christian philosophy as its guide, science is able to progress in a positive direction which heals.  Without such a philosophy, science doesn’t care if it kills.

We cannot trust science alone to advance humanity.  The task is too great.  Humanity is a subject to be defined by philosophy and theology.  We must be awakened from our darkened stupor concerning science and its limits or we will see further horrors in the days to come.  It really is bad enough that we have savior siblings and cesspool sons. These are not oddities. These are explainable phenomenon based on our devaluing of human life in the womb.  As long as we are comfortable embracing abortion, we will see more sickening displays of our disregard for humanity.

The Names We Do Not Know

You have heard of Matthew Shepard, haven’t you?  Of course you have.  He is the young homosexual man who was robbed and then brutally murdered in Wyoming in 1998.  He was 21 years old.  His case has become synonymous with hate crimes legislation.  His name is well known to us all.

But there are names we do not know.  We do not know Noor Almaleki.  And we don’t know Aasiya Hassan.  When the news media chooses to make a case for a particular cause, they find an example who then becomes the banner carrier or the flag bearer for the cause.  Conversely, when the news media choose to ignore a cause, they take the examples for that cause and stick them in a different pile, in hopes of not calling attention to that cause.  Such is one of the ways we end up being influenced by the news media.  We are influenced by the names we do not know.

Aasiya Hassan

We do not know Aasiya, although she was once featured—along with her husband—on national TV.  She was a successful architect, and she and her husband were starting the Bridges TV network to help people understand moderate Muslims.  Concerned about the perception many Americans have of Muslims, the couple sought to show how most Muslims are not violent people.  The Bridges TV thing did not work out so well.  Failing to garner either financial support or viewers, the network folded, in spite of the fact that it was featured on NPR, NBC, and other major media for its promise.

The TV attempt to put Islam in a better light ended poorly.  Aasiya’s husband—Muzzammil Hassan—was convicted this week in the murder of his wife.  And it wasn’t just murder.  He beheaded his wife in accordance with his Muslim convictions.  Whether right or wrong about his theology, Muzzammil thought he was acting in according with Islam.  He thought he was justified in conducting an honor killing.

Likewise, Noor Almaleki’s father thought he was justified in killing his 17 year-old daughter.  She had become too westernized.  So, he rammed his jeep into the car she was driving and killed her.  It was an honor killing in the name of Islam.  His trial is now underway in Phoenix.  So, in Phoenix and in Buffalo, Muslim men are killing their wives and daughters for honor in the name of Islam.

With Steyn, we wonder, “Why aren’t Noor Almaleki and Aasiya Hassan as famous as Matthew Shepard? They weren’t in

Noor Almaleki

up-country villages in the Pakistani tribal lands. They were Americans – and they died because they wanted to live as American women.”

And also with Steyn, we can be “relieved that an American jury is not as mired in ‘cultural sensitivity’ as our leaders. Even so: Matthew Shepard was hung on a fence in Wyoming – and ever since there have been plays and TV movies and pop songs memorializing him. Aasiya Hassan had her head chopped off in Buffalo. How many playwrights and pop stars will tell her story?”

Sometimes, the names we do not hear are speaking a very important message which we desperately need to hear.  Noor Almaleki and Aasiya Hassan can help us understand why Rifqa Bary left her Muslim family in Ohio to live with a Christian pastor and his family in Florida.  There are others in America, too, whose names we do not know as well as we otherwise might.  Sara and Amina Said—two teenage honor students from Texas—died as victims of honor killings when their own father shot them repeatedly as they were sitting in a taxi.

There is a good chance that these honor killings will continue until we start to hear the names of the victims and see their faces.  Then, perhaps, we will shut up the silly political correctness that causes us blindness in the face of the brutal facts of Islam’s oppression of women.  Is every Muslim guilty of honor killing? No, of course not. But that isn’t really the point, is it?  The point is that some Muslims feel justified killing their wives and daughters in the name of Islam.

For Muslims, the question is whether Noor Almaleki, Aasiya Hassan, Amina Said, Sara Said, and other women dead by honor killings represent the name of Islam.  For us, we should ask if these names we do not know represent American women.  If so, we must confront the evil of honor killings honestly.

Amina and Sara Said


Breaking: ‘We Don’t Need to Know Anything’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online

Breaking: ‘We Don’t Need to Know Anything’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online.

The blog post above by Kathryn Jean Lopez gives the latest update from Lila Rose and the Live Action campaign for women.  Many of you have seen the video from the New Jersey Planned Parenthood clinic in which child prostitution and sexual slavery were overlooked as inconsequential side effects of the abortion industry.  Now, the number of clinics visited is up to 6.  The latest clinic in Bronx, NY, is every bit as compliant as the New Jersey one.  It gives the appearance that Planned Parenthood is OK with 13 year old girls being bought as slaves from Asia and then brought here to work as prostitutes.  There is no concern for health, for women, for decency….  There is the lone, overriding concern: get rid of the baby.

How do we get to a point in which it is ok to sell 13 year-old girls to pimps who will farm them out to grown men for a few dollars profit? Is this really what sexual freedom is about?  Is this really an issue of “women’s health?”  If the latest video from a Planned Parenthood clinic is any indication, the health of women (and little girls) is not much of a concern.  Vomiting really should be the first response to this mess.  Then, we must engage the battle to stop killing babies in America. It leads only to a further devaluing of the very women it was supposed to help. Indeed, it devalues all human life.

Is Abortion a Tea Party Issue?

I know there has been concern in the past about where the Tea Party stands on so-called “social issues.”  I think the Tea Party seeks to stay focused on economic issues, particularly free market principles and smaller government solutions.  However, Kathryn Jean Lopez raises a very interesting question: Is Abortion a Tea Party Issue?

In the wake of the scandal with Planned Parenthood (not to mention Dr. Gosnell), the time may be right for Tea Partiers to demand a clean cut with the abortion industry so that tax dollars aren’t wasted–no, that is much to polite a term–so that tax dollars don’t become blood money.  I, for one, think it is time to enshrine into law the practice we have followed forbidding tax dollars for abortion.  Now that we see what Planned Parenthood is capable of, we should ban all public money from them.  If not, could we at least make clear that we don’t want public money going to fund abortions, infanticide, sex trafficking, or sexual slavery?  Is this for real?

I honestly cannot think of a worse way to spend tax dollars than giving them to Planned Parenthood.