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Saturday, November 30, 2019

News Weakly - 11/30/19

Don't Bother Me With Facts
Last week Attorney Manfred Nowak's U.N. report titled "Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty" hit the airwaves and the world, us included, went crazy. According to Nowak, the U.S. currently has more than 100,000 children in migration-related detention. That's evil. Trump is evil. Except, of course, it's not true. That was the number held under Obama throughout 2015. Oops! Well, it doesn't matter. Trump wanted to, we're pretty sure. At least some of the outlets that ran the story retracted it, but you can be pretty sure that folks will be quoting the horrors of Obama's Trump's administration for some time to come, because once it's out there, it's out there, and too many cannot be bothered with facts.

Christmas Decoration Control
An 88-year-old veteran responded to a neighbor's plea for help. Her younger sister was being attacked by a dog. He rushed out the door and snatched up the first weapon he could find -- a plastic nutcracker, part of his neighbor's Christmas display. He mercilessly beat the pitbull until it released the 10-year-old girl. Neighbors are calling for his arrest for animal cruelty and the township is looking into extending Christmas decoration control to cut down on anti-dog violence. Okay, no. The man bravely defended the girl against a vicious animal and, somehow, today's twisted mentality (like "Save the dogs but kill the unborn babies") didn't mess that up.

More Fake News
There was a story out that mothers were binge drinking more than before. Turns out it's fake news. Turns out that between 2006 and 2018 mothers are binging on alcohol the same amount as women without children. Oh, sure, that number has been on the rise, but that it's just mothers is fake news. What disturbed me most about the story was that the medical world defines binge drinking as four or more drinks at once for women and five or more for men. That seems like a sexist standard suggesting that genders are not equal and there is actually a biological difference between men and women. I thought we'd banished that idea.

When Equal Treatment is Hate
An organization known as "Created Equal" did all the required steps and paperwork to get permission to put up a display at Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and Kennesaw State universities as well as the University of Georgia. Their aim? Their message is that "to treat the preborn in a way we’d never treat a born person is a grievous violation of human equality. College students deserve to see the victims of this injustice and to know the science and reasoning behind defending the preborn." They plan to show images of fetuses to show that they're preborn children. Georgia State warned students that it was coming and labeled such speech as "hateful or mean-spirited." The group calls the murder of preborn children "ageism" and opposes unequal treatment. Pro-choicers apparently consider "ageism" hate and equal treatment "mean-spirited." Otherwise they wouldn't care if someone showed pictures of a non-human, right?

Speaking of Abortion
So here's the story. According to "all statistics measuring abortion in the U.S.", abortions reached an "historic low" in 2016. Yippee! That's good. Like saying, "Fewer children were murdered in 2016 than in the previous years of murdering children took place." Being one who values human life, it's good that the number is down. Being one who values truth, it's misleading to fall into the trap. You understand that abortions were not tracked prior to 1969, that immorality in 1969 was on the rise (meaning that abortions before that were likely less), and that no one really knows how many abortions took place in prior years. (The CDC started tracking them in 1969, but since it was illegal, they had no reliable means of actually knowing how many there were.) (It should also be noted that Wikipedia reports that, according to the CDC, there were 193,491 abortions reported to the CDC with an induced abortion rate of 52 per live birth. Significantly less than 2016. Making the story itself a lie.) You understand that it is considered "good news" that "only" 623,471 babies were murdered by abortion in 2016, down from 638,169 in 2015. I'm glad the number is down. I'm sad that "only over a half million killed" is considered good news. That's more than the total number of Americans killed in World War II. That's more than the total number of Americans killed in the Civil War where every death was an American. Don't let them tell you it's "safe, legal, and rare," because it's legal, but it's still not safe and it's certainly not rare.

Going About It The Wrong Way
Wayne Grudem is a biblical scholar, conservative, complementarian, generally good things. Recently, it seems, he has been listening to sad stories of marital abuse and has decided to change his view on divorce. Originally he recognized only adultery or desertion. Now he has added ... well ... just about anything. (He lists verbal and physical abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, and pornography addiction for examples.) Ostensibly, on the basis of the phrase "In such cases" found in 1 Cor 7:15, he has concluded that anything that destroys a marriage is included, and "destroys a marriage" is not defined. I say "ostensibly" because clearly he came to this conclusion not on the basis of Scripture, but on the basis of horrible stories of spouses staying in abusive marriages because they were told they had to just sit and take it. This is the same basis that others have used to change their view that homosexual behavior is sin. Because of Scripture? No. Someone in their family or someone close to them has come out as "gay" and circumstances -- their feelings about these people -- have dictated their position, not Scripture. We don't get to offer a "new and promising kind of argument" for God's Word. Not even Mr. Grudem. Sorry, Wayne.

Friday, November 29, 2019

A Personal Problem

I know, I know, I'm about to tell you about something that bothers me for me and it will upset some readers. "Pharisee!" they'll cry. "Judgmental!" they'll accuse. "Don't tell me what to do!" they'll demand. So let me make it clear that I'm not about to tell you what to do. I'm about to tell you about a personal problem in the hopes that you might be able to help me. I'm not suggesting that this is a problem for anyone but me. So thank you for your kind indulgence.

I am a fairly standard American. I have a television set and I use it for entertainment. Okay, maybe not standard. I don't have an antenna or cable connection, so I don't actually watch broadcast TV, but I do still have Netflix and my wife does connect to the Internet and watch a show or two from network television. So almost standard, okay? Here's the problem -- my problem. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to defend any of this ... at all.

In Deuteronomy God commanded Israel to teach their children the words of the Shema. "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up" (Deut 6:4-9). So when their children asked to be allowed to learn the ways of other nations, they would tell their children, "Well, you're supposed to be learning to love God when you lie down, when you rise up, and when you're home and when you're out. If you can figure out when else you have to do it, you can try." Or something like that. David wrote, "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes" (Psa 101:3). That's interesting because he did not say "evil"; he said "worthless." Paul wrote, "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" which seems all well and good, but went on to say, "for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret" (Eph 5:11-12). Elsewhere Paul says, "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Php 4:8) All pretty clear and straightforward.

Consider, then, our current popular entertainment. What is their message? What is their aim? What do they want you to believe? The unrepentant aim of much of what you're shown today is "Accept as moral the immorality of our current world." In 2018 the news reported that "The percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast primetime scripted programming is up to an all-time high of 8.8 percent." This year GLAAD reported it was at 10.2% and the current demand is 20% by 2025. Companies playing ads for you on that same TV are consciously making them more "gay-inclusive" with, for instance, a kid who addresses two women as "Moms" (Cox), a holiday gathering with a gay couple (Kohl's), or a Campbell's soup ad with gay dads to name a few. GLAAD doesn't make any bones about it; they are aiming at making same-sex sex normal, acceptable, even laudable in today's society, and they are doing it right there on your TV screen. But look at some of the other affects. I've watched some of the older shows, like Dragnet or Adam-12, in light of newer shows like "Criminal Minds" or "Gotham." The magnitude of the crimes depicted have increased exponentially and the graphic depiction is out of control. In fact, finding horrible messages is so easy that we miss some of the easy ones because the rest are so blatant. But, here's the challenge. Can you find any positive ones? Can you find messages in primetime TV that give you ""Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute"? It sure doesn't seem like it.

I'm wondering, then, why I'm still watching any secular entertainment. Do you see my problem? If I want to learn to love God day and night, if I want to avoid the worthless, let alone the evil, if I want to avoid examining what is done by them in secret, if I want to think the way that Scripture tells me to think, can I do that with my television set? How do I justify it? If I want to imitate God (Eph 5:1), does the entertainment I'm putting in front of me add to or detract from that? If the things that I find entertaining are the things that God finds abominable, what does that say about me? Do I need to make a radical change here? That's my problem.

Additional Considerations
In thinking about this further, I have to point out that "crime" or "violence" or the like in our entertainment media are not the issue here. The Bible includes stories of crime, violence (sometimes very graphic violence), sexual immorality, and all. (Interestingly there is not one instance of graphic sex there. Nowhere does it describe a sex act. Kind of like the old days of TV and movies where the scene cuts and you know what they did but you never saw it.) Of course, a key difference is that none of it is glorified. Contrasted with a Gotham where all characters are evil or Joker where everyone is bad, so we should feel bad for the poor mass murderer, the Bible contains these stories, but they aren't classified as "good". So it is not merely the presence of such stories that I'm talking about; it is the intent.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Turkey Day

Most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Okay, they recognize it. They indulge it. It isn't only believers buying turkeys and gathering to give thanks. Even unbelievers -- actual atheists, even -- will recognize the day as a "day of thanks" and even admit to being thankful for something, even if it's just the meal. Or the football. Here's the thing. Amidst all the revelry and gluttony and even a momentary "I'm thankful for ...", how often do we/they think about to whom we're thankful.

You see, an atheist will say, "I'm thankful for ..." but won't say, "I'm thankful to God for ..." because, after all, the atheist believes in no such being. So we get that he or she is grateful in some sense for some gift, but gives no reference to the giver. And, unfortunately, many of us have that tendency even as believers. We vaguely are grateful, but are not actually clearly grateful to God. We're just "grateful" in the sense that we're "happy to have" whatever that is and not in the sense that it is a gift.

Gratitude, actually, doesn't come easily to us humans. Gratitude is being thankful for a benefit received. If we are due that benefit -- if it is justly ours to begin with -- then we have no room to be grateful. And we have an overbearing sense of entitlement as sinful human beings. You'd think gratitude would come easy, but look how hard we work on our kids from a very young age teaching them to be grateful. "Tell Gramma thank you." Because they wouldn't naturally do it. It is not innate. And our gratitude is worse when it comes to God.

In Romans Paul starts his exposition of the Gospel -- the good news -- with the bad news (Rom 1:18-3:20). He starts by declaring that God's wrath is revealed "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Rom 1:18). He specifies that God's attributes are revealed through creation (Rom 1:20), but that hasn't worked for sinful man.
For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom 1:21)
The first error is a failure to honor or give thanks to God. That's the beginning of the huge spiral into all manner of evil. Our first error is a lack of gratitude. So it might seem contradictory that we have a nationwide celebration of giving thanks. If we're honest, however, we're not giving thanks to God. We're barely even giving Him a nod. We're just ... "thankful" without reference to the One to whom we're supposed to be thankful.

Many refer to the day as "Turkey Day" because of the traditional turkey dinner. I think it is probably a more accurate depiction of the day to most of us. We're happy to have things; we're just not grateful to the Giver. Pass the turkey. So when Paul says, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess 5:18), we're somewhat baffled. "Really? In all circumstances? Is that even reasonable?" It's not if you aren't even willing to thank Him on a day set aside to do so for the good things you're enjoying. It is thoroughly reasonable if you know God. If you know God, there is a lot to be grateful for, pleasant or unpleasant, plenty or poor, happy or sad, positive or negative. If you're having trouble thanking God in the pleasant experiences of Thanksgiving Day, you'll have trouble thanking Him in every circumstance. And that's your loss. Because God is good all the time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The "Lone Ranger" Problem

Today there is a rise in a category of religious belief that they're calling "the Nones." These people do not identify as atheist; they simply don't identify with a religion. They aren't anti-religion; they just don't want yours. America itself has long been identified with two brave characteristics: equality and individuality. We kind of like to think of ourselves as a nation of mavericks.

As a result, we have a host of misguided belief systems that we too generously refer to as "Christian" and are not. Where do they come from? Typically they come from the "Lone Ranger" Christian, the "None" in some sense. "I don't need a church to tell me what to believe; I can figure it out on my own." A sense of "You and me, Jesus; just You and me" runs through it. We are given information and means to get this right (Eph 4:11-13), and we run off on our own. "Don't worry; I've got this." We ignore the host that have gone before and determine to blaze our own trails. "Maybe that's what the text says, but I'm pretty sure that I've figured it out that it doesn't mean anything of the kind." "Lone Ranger" theology.

Look, here's what we know. 1) God is God. He is omniscient, which means He knows what was, what is, and what will be. He didn't "get it wrong" in the past and He didn't fail to anticipate what was coming in the future. 2) Jesus is the Incarnate Word (John 1:1). He recognized God's word as truth (John 17:17). Our Scriptures are "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16). Therefore, all of Scripture could be "red lettered," no Scripture can contradict Scripture, and all Scripture is useful (2 Tim 3:16-17). 3) God has instituted means by which we can rightly understand His word. We have the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21) promised by Jesus (John 16:13-14). We have the church (Eph 4:11-13). God's word can be understood ... correctly.

If you have a new idea about how Scripture ought to be interpreted, welcome to "Lone Ranger" theology. If you've finally figured out the truth and no one else did before you, welcome to "maverick" Christianity. Understand that what you're practicing voids Scripture itself. Jesus didn't know what He was talking about when He promised the Holy Spirit. God didn't know what He was doing when He inspired the Word. The Godhead failed ... failed to provide an ongoing string of believers who actually had the truth from the Spirit through the church. This is the danger of the Lone Ranger approach. Sure, it's American. It's avant-garde -- cutting edge. Maybe you understand what no one before understood, like the suggestion that hell isn't real or that things always taken as real were actually mythical or that the sins of the fathers weren't actually sins and everything's okay. Sure, it's pushing the envelope. The only problem is it denies the God it tries to approach, and that can't be a good thing. Ultimately the "Lone Ranger" approach denies Scripture itself and, therefore, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all in one fell swoop. Not a good idea for one trying to follow Christ.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Will of God

"What is God's will for my life?" Anyone who has a living relationship with God will at some point or another be concerned about that question. Generally speaking, the question is about things like "Should I marry this person?" or "Should I take this job?" or "What should I study in college?" Things like that. So we will tell people, "If you want to know the will of God, it's easy; read your Bible." But these kinds of things are not likely in there, right? You will not find "Yes, marry Julia" kind of answers in the pages of Scripture. So how helpful is that answer, "Read your Bible"?

In some cases it is the best possible answer. The answer to "What must I do to be saved?" is found explicitly in the pages of God's Word (Acts 16:31), for instance. "Should I sleep with my boyfriend before marriage?" is clearly answered (repeatedly). Jesus left no question regarding whether or not I should cheat on my taxes (Matt 22:21). "Should I help the poor?" is an easily answered question (Matt 22:39; Luke 10:30-37; Prov 3:27-28; Prov 28:27; Deut 15:10-11; 1 John 3:17; Luke 14:14; and on and on), but "Should helping the poor be the singular concern of every Christian?" is also in there (Matt 26:11; 2 Thess 3:10). Scripture gives lots of explicit answers to real questions.

Beyond the explicit, however, there is more in Scripture to answer, "What is God's will for my life?" Scripture may not tell you, "Should I marry this person?", but it might give you principles to consider, like "Do not be bound to unbelievers" (2 Cor 6:14). It may not tell you, "Eat the fish, not the cake," but it does tell you "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3) There are principles throughout God's Word that can answer lots of these questions. Many of these answers go to motive rather than specifics, but once the motive is pointed out, the specifics are answered, too. "Should I spend the extra money on a nice car or be more frugal with a practical-but-less-expensive car?" is not found in the pages of the Bible, but the principle that we are stewards of what God has given us is in there and the fact that we aren't intended to make our own pleasures our guide is in there and so on. At the bottom, the two clearest guiding principles are not contended: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. When we ask these kinds of "What is God's will for my life?" questions, the first criteria we have to ask ourselves is "Which of the choices I'm looking at are out of love for God and love for my neighbor?" Honestly, that clears a broad swath of questions right there.

The Bible does have answers about the will of God. It has some very specific answers (e.g., Mic 6:8; 1 Thess 4:3; 1 Thess 5:18; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 4:2). It has some obvious answers, like every command written down in its pages. It has clear principles like love God and love your neighbor and "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Php 2:3-4). Here's the difficulty, then. In order for you to know what the will of God is for your life -- in the big things and in the little, in the small moments of life and in the overarching issues, in how to live and where to go and what to do -- the thing you have to do is know God's Word. What are the commands? What are the instructions? What are the principles? What is the point? God's Word does answer the question, far more often, I think, than we realize. The problem is not that there aren't answers. The problem is that we're not looking for them on the open ground of God's breathed message to us.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Jesus is the Answer

I was traveling this weekend. On the road, a car passed me with the bumper sticker, "Jesus is the answer!" And it made me ask, "What was the question?" I mean, there are lots of things to which He is not. "What is 2 + 2?" Jesus is not likely the answer. "How do I get to the airport from here?" Jesus is probably not the answer. "Excuse me, can I give you a hand?" Definitely not "Jesus." So what kind of questions are we asking to which Jesus is the answer?

Some of these are obvious.

"What must I do to be saved?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). "How can I have peace with God?" "In Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace ..." (Eph 2:13-14). "How can I deal with my troubles?" "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "How do I deal with my guilt?" "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt 11:28). More, "If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins ..." (1 John 2:1-2). Jesus is clearly the answer.

But there is so much more.

Why am I here? "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever" (Rom 11:36). One that has bugged science and philosophy for ages is "Why does anything exist at all?" Science can't figure out how atoms hold together and philosophy wonders why there is anything rather than nothing. "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). To these and more, Jesus is the answer.

These are examples of genuine and important questions to which Jesus is, indeed, the answer. Jesus said clearly and concisely,
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." (John 14:6-7)
All sorts of answers. "What way should I go?" "Where do I find truth?" "Where do I find life?" And, "How can I know God?" All right there. Lots and lots of questions to which Jesus is the answer.

Maybe He's not the answers to your math quiz or "the care and feeding of a pet," but He is the real answer to the most important questions of life. Just look to Him.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sanctify Them

We all know the Lord's Prayer. The disciples asked Jesus, "Teach us to pray" and that's what He gave them (Matt 6:5-13; Luke 11:1-4). But the term "the Lord's Prayer" might better be used to refer to Jesus's "High Priestly Prayer," the prayer He made at the end of His life (John 17). Any follower of Christ (read "Christian") would want to know and follow His prayer there. In the middle of it, He says this:
"Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
"Sanctify them." To sanctify means to make holy, to consecrate, to purify. In the Jewish mentality it means to make "other." We think of that "other" as "distinct from sin", but it is much, much more. Jesus's prayer to the Father on behalf of His disciples was that He would make His disciples "other" -- distinct, separate, different. How?

"Sanctify them in the truth." His prayer was that His disciples would be distinguished -- from sin, from the flesh, from the world -- in this sense: "in the truth." Truth is that which corresponds to reality. In simple matters, humans get that; there is air, there is gravity, one and one make two ... that kind of thing. But we know that Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4), that the primary problem with natural human beings is the suppression of truth (Rom 1:18), and that natural man lacks the ability to understand the things of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:14). Jesus, then, asked the Father that His followers would be set apart in the truth because the rest of the world didn't have that. Not the important truth. Not God's truth. Not the truth that saves. And where can that truth be found?

"Your word is truth." All that God says is truth. All that God breathes (2 Tim 3:16-17) is truth. It is the water that Christ uses to sanctify His Bride to present to Himself a spotless, unwrinkled, holy, and blameless wife (Eph 5:26-27). It is sufficient. It can keep us from sin (Psa 119:9,11). It overcomes the devil (1 John 2:14). It cleanses (John 15:3).

Jesus wanted His disciples to be set apart -- sanctified -- in the truth. Not just any truth; the truth in God's word. God's truth. So why do you suppose it is that God's word has been under attack since the beginning of time? And what do you suppose the real issue is with those who claim to be followers of Christ but have no love for the word of God? We are not "bibliolaters" -- we don't worship a book. Others do; Moslems, for instance. Not us. We worship God and, as such, want to hang on His every word. Because our Savior's prayer is that we would be sanctified by it.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

News Weakly - 11/23/19

Weaponized Tolerance
Chick-fil-A's Chairman and CEO, Dan Cathy, is known as a Christian who opposes gay mirage. (I didn't spell that wrong.) Tax records obtained in 2011 showed that he and his operators, the WinShape Foundation, had invested millions of dollars to keep marriage marriage. This, of course, cannot be tolerated, so the LGBT community went to war with Chick-fil-A. Mind you, no one has ever been turned away from a Chick-fil-A store. No one has ever heard, "We don't want your kind around here." Chick-fil-A stores have never discriminated against anyone. It doesn't matter. They have been banned from venues ranging from airports to entire cities. Their first entry in to the UK was shutdown because of the LGBT campaigners who demanded that the Chick-fil-A owners change their religious beliefs to correspond with the LGBT views. They've won. The company will stop giving to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and to the Salvation Army per the demands of the "tolerant" LGBT. "No, you cannot have your religious beliefs because they're too intolerant. You must replace them with our beliefs or pay the consequences. Because we're the tolerant ones and we'll hurt you worse if you don't say 'uncle'." Oh, and you can be sure that they won't back off now, either on Chick-fil-A or anyone else who has an opposing opinion. Giving in to terrorists only makes them bolder.

Trademarking Ageism
Last month a twenty-something politician in New Zealand was heard to blow off an older person with the dismissive, "Ok, boomer," a meme that has been going around aimed at disregarding or mocking the older generation because the younger generation feels like they're not being heard. Now Fox has filed a trademark application for the phrase. The suggestion is that Fox will use the phrase for a new show -- reality, comedy, game show, something like that. So the idea is, "Let's expand the idea that old people are worthless. Let's address this concern that the younger generation isn't being heard ... by no longer hearing the older generation." Because, as we all know, education and life experience only makes you stupid, and the truly wise folks are the young.

Kosher Vegan
"Kosher" is a Jewish term. It refers to food or the premises in which food is sold, cooked, or eaten as satisfying Jewish dietary laws. There are foods banned by Jewish dietary law, but the rules go further, requiring, for instance, that meat cannot contact dairy. That is, preparation is part of kosher. Apparently vegans have their own "kosher." A vegan is suing Burger King because they cooked a plant-based alternative to the classic Whopper on the same apparatus as a beef Whopper. Now, Burger King did tell everyone that they would be cooked in an "open kitchen environment" and haven't called their product "vegan" or "vegetarian," and A&W has been cooking their meatless option on the same grill as the beef burgers, but Burger King (Can you say "deep pockets"?) is gonna pay! Because if it's not kosher vegan, it's not vegan ... even if they never said it was.

The New "Fair"
A self-admitted illegal alien who was in the habit of riding the light rail in Phoenix without paying was stopped last week in a fare sweep by the Phoenix police. She was going to her job with LUCHA, an immigration advocacy group, so she could pay for bills and for health care for sick family member when they did a random check. She admitted she didn't pay. She gave her name but refused to give her date of birth. Protocol required they detain her until they could properly identify her, but when the handcuffs went on she told them what they wanted to know and they released her with a citation. In response, LUCHA is demanding that police stop enforcing fare payments for illegal immigrants ... because that's what's fair. The light rail is meant for people who cannot afford it, so stop making those who can't pay pay. Laws that aren't enforced should not be on the books. And just ask California how not enforcing laws works out.

Another Brick in the Wall
We live in a world of extreme caution. It's too easy to "trigger" someone somewhere. One group labeled the "OK" hand signal as a hate symbol. We live in fear of "microagression." And Mattel is releasing a new UNO deck without any red or blue cards so the game won't be "politically charged." Because everyone knows that red isn't just a color and blue isn't just a hue. Seriously? I've played the game for years and when I first read the story I thought, "I never even noticed the colors of the cards." (Titus 1:15)

Net Zero is Not Zero
Maybe you've heard the term. They want us to have "net zero carbon emissions." "Net zero"? Yes. It sounds like "zero," like they're working to decrease emissions, but the "net" is a weasel word and they're not. So EasyJet Plc plans to become the first air carrier company to have a "net zero carbon emissions." By decreasing the carbon emissions? No. By making more efficient engines that produce less emissions? No. By "buying offsets." No actual decrease. "EasyJet will spend an estimated 25 million pounds ($32.3 million) on projects that include planting trees and protecting against deforestation," the story says. Buy trees or, maybe, just protect existing ones. No, that doesn't help the CO2 problem; it just doesn't add to it. Net zero. Because of the outcry over its contribution to climate change. Which, as it turns out, no one has quantified.

Unreasonable Expectations
So, a genuine lunatic walks into a Walmart in El Paso and starts killing people. The nation is devastated and outraged. Apparently, though, not as much as the victims and their families, because they, with the aid of the Mexican government, are filing suit against the Walmart for "not taking reasonable and necessary measures to protect its customers from the attack." Now, I ask you: what would constitute "reasonable and necessary measures to protect its customers" from a lunatic? What do we/they expect? A ubiquitous presence of heavily armed security? Maybe bunkers for safety? What is the "reasonable" defense against the unreasonable? (And are shoppers in Mexico safer from attack than shoppers in El Paso? I don't think so.)

Science Brings Up the Rear
Scientists are excited because they've discovered that at least one kind of snake in the ancient past actually had legs. Of course, we knew that already, didn't we (Gen 3:14)?

Babylon's Jest
The Babylon Bee has a story out about how Trump has come out in favor of his own impeachment because the Democrats will do the opposite of whatever he says. Ha, ha. I'm in favor of impeaching Trump, however, because his replacement will be Mike Pence, and how many Democrats want an actual, practicing Christian in the White House? The laugh would be on them.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Unite My Heart

So, I'm reading through the Psalms and I come across this interesting verse.
Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psa 86:11)
Okay, perhaps just interesting to me.

I find it interesting in contrast to the popular view these days that we cannot know the truth. We can only have our opinions. David wrote this psalm and he says, "Teach me Your way, O LORD." I'm waiting for today's smarter folk who will correct David. "You can't know His way; you can only have your own hunches." David believed he could know and he could know from the LORD.

I find it interesting to contrast David's view of truth with today's cultural view. Truth is relative. It's personal. It's not objective. But David says, "I will walk in Your truth," as if God's truth is something knowable and valuable and valid, and His truth tells us how to live.

What really caught my attention, though, was that last phrase. I've thought often about the concept of "the fear of the Lord." Are we supposed to fear God or not? Lots of genuine believers say, "No!" They say it's not fear, but "reverential awe." Some translations even substitute that phrase or a similar one for "fear" in these places. But the word in the originals, both Old Testament and New, don't leave room for that. They refer to actual fear. So it wasn't that which caught my attention. It was the "unite my heart" phrase. James warns against being "double-minded" (James 1:8). David agrees. David prays that God would gather together the strands of his heart -- his thoughts and emotions, his desires and fears, his plans and propensities -- into one stream: the fear of the Lord. David asks to have one uniting consideration in life, and that's the fear of God. "Tie together all the loose ends of my heart -- the wayward parts, the ragtag pieces flapping in the breezes of life -- and give them the singular focus of fearing You." Because David likely knew, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Psa 111:10). He certainly knew, "The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever" (Psa 19:9). He definitely knew that the lack of the fear of God was a problem (Psa 36:1).

Is that your prayer? I want to make it mine. "Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name." Because sometimes it's easy to get other things in my heart distracting me from the right fear of God, cutting me off from Him. I don't need those kinds of problems.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

An Experiment

Some of us are old enough to remember the ad series that had the tagline, "When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen." Today we could make a new one: "When Trump speaks, people get mad." It doesn't really matter what he says. "Haters are gonna hate," they say, and Trump has a large "hate" following. I have nowhere near that kind of following, but there are still people that get upset almost regardless of what I say. "This verse says this" (and I give the reference and even the text) and they're mad. Why? I don't really know. Honestly. Well, sometimes it's because I've stepped on their toes or I've disagreed with their view of things or they feel like I've said that what they're doing is wrong (and, I suppose, sometimes I have), but more often than not it's simply because I said, "This verse says this." (Like the other day when I made the audacious claim that the Bible is opposed to sexual immorality.) So I'm going to try an experiment. Today I'm going to post something that should offend no one and see if, because Stan speaks, it's offensive.

Here are some aircraft maintenance complaints/problems, generally known as squawks, submitted over the years by pilots to maintenance crews. After attending to the squawks, maintenance crews are required to log the details of the action taken to solve the pilots' squawks.

Defect: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
Action: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

Defect: Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.
Action: Autoland not installed on this aircraft.

Defect: No. 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
Action: No. 2 propeller seepage normal. Nos. 1, 3 and 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

Defect: Something loose in cockpit.
Action: Something tightened in cockpit.

Defect: Dead bugs on windshield.
Action: Live bugs on backorder.

Defect: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-fpm descent.
Action: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

Defect: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Action: Evidence removed.

Defect: DME volume unbelievably loud.
Action: Volume set to more believable level.

Defect: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
Action: That's what they are there for!

Defect: IFF doesn't work in Official mode.
Action: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
(Note: This was actually a "squawk" I got in my days in the Air Force.)

Defect: Suspected crack in windscreen.
Action: Suspect you're right.

Defect: Number 3 engine missing.
Action: After brief search, engine found on right wing.

Defect: Aircraft handles funny.
Action: Aircraft warned to "Straighten up, fly Right, and be serious."

Defect: Target radar hums.
Action: Reprogrammed target radar with words.

Defect: Mouse in cockpit.
Action: Cat installed.

Defect: The autopilot doesn't.
Action: IT DOES NOW.

Defect: Turn & slip indicator ball stuck in center during turns.
Action: Congratulations. You just made your first coordinated turn!

Defect: Whining sound heard on engine shutdown.
Action: Pilot removed from aircraft.

Defect: Pilot's clock inoperative.
Action: Wound clock.

Defect: Autopilot tends to drop a wing when fuel imbalance reaches 500 pounds.
Action: Flight manual limits maximum fuel imbalance to 300 pounds.

Defect: #2 ADF needle runs wild.
Action: Caught and tamed #2 ADF needle.

Defect: Unfamiliar noise coming from #2 engine.
Action: Engine run for four hours. Noise now familiar.

Defect: Noise coming from #2 engine. Sounds like man with little hammer.
Action: Took little hammer away from man in #2 engine.

Defect: Whining noise coming from #2 engine compartment.
Action: Returned little hammer to man in #2 engine.

Defect: Flight attendant cold at altitude.
Action: Ground checks OK.

Defect: 3 roaches in cabin.
Action: 1 roach killed, 1 wounded, 1 got away.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Make It Safe

The argument went something like this. "Sure, it would be better if people didn't shoot heroin, but they will, so we need to make it safe." So they handed out needles to those who wanted them. "Yes, it's probably better if they don't have sex before they are adults, but they will, so we need to make it safe." So they handed out condoms and birth control pills to high school kids. We're still doing it. "We would hope that no one would abort their baby, but some will, so we need to make it safe." So they try to remove all limits and make the citizens pay for the woman's intent to murder her baby ... safely.

It makes no sense. None at all. Years ago when the high-school-kids-need-condoms craze was at its height, my daughter (in high school at the time) bought the story (because she saw it on one of those teen shows on TV). "That makes sense. You can put a fence around a pool, but kids are going to climb over anyway, so you need to make it safe." So I offered to discuss it with her. She agreed that giving needles to junkies was the right thing to do. She agreed that giving condoms to high school kids was the right thing to do. "So," I went on, "how about those darn drive-by shootings gangs are doing? Now, we don't want them to do it, but they will, so we should do what we can to make it safe, right? Send them to a school to teach them to drive and shoot accurately? Give them smarter weapons that only shoot at their intended targets? What would you suggest?"

We've bought this lie, hook, line and sinker. We've dragged it to the bottom and are pulling hard at it. "They will do it" becomes the only valid concern. Not "Is it right?" or "Is it healthy?" or "Is it good?" We make it safer to do things that aren't safe and easier to do things that shouldn't be done. And we are outraged if anyone protests. And we pat ourselves on the back for being wise and progressive. While people die. Or worse. Makes no sense. Just because people will do something doesn't make it right. Try to tell that to today's culture.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Stating the Obvious

Here's a short list for you: Matt 15:19; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 6:9-13, 18; 1 Cor 5:9-11; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 5:19-21; 1 Thess 4:3-5; Eph 5:3-5; 1 Tim 1:10; Rev 2:14, 20; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15. You can look them up or you can point at them and see what they say or you can just wait for it, right? There is a common theme. And since many argue things like "There aren't enough references to that to make it an issue," I would hope that this list shows how this topic does indeed have enough references to make it an issue.

We can debate all sorts of topics in and out of the church on the subject of morality. What is and what isn't? We can go to the specific -- "Is oral sex a sin? Anal? How about a woman on her period?" We can go more broadly -- "Is homosexuality a sin or just homosexual behavior? Or neither?" We can really string it out -- "Is it always a sin to lie, or if we are, say, protecting people from the Nazis, is it okay to lie?" Always testing the boundaries. Is this okay? That? We're afraid, it seems, of getting to heaven and finding out that, doggone it, we gave up too much for God. But the topic of that list (and more) is not one of these kinds of debates. No one can dodge this one. Scripture is abundantly clear. Sexual immorality is a big deal in biblical terms.

You'd think we'd know this. You'd think it would be obvious. You'd think that we could see it on a daily basis on our billboards and televisions and our entertainment and our computers. You'd think that we could hear it in our conversations and our radios. You'd think that the #MeToo thing and the rising tide of LGBT forces demanding you surrender your faith to their demands would raise awareness that sexual immorality is a big problem. You'd think that the decline of marriage and the increase in single parent homes and the rise of sexually-transmitted diseases would declare it to the heavens. Sexual immorality is a big thing. Paul writes, "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body" (1 Cor 6:18), but we still insist on indulging -- maybe physically, certainly mentally. As it turns out, as believers, we do it adulterously against our Bridegroom. We tell Him, "You are not enough." To our shame.

The Bible considers all manner of sexual behavior to be sin. The only God-approved sex is marital sex. Anything else -- physically or mentally -- is "sexual immorality." And not in a good way.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Coming and Going

Two people meet on the street. They walk with each other a short way, exchange pleasantries, and go on their merry ways. Were they in agreement? Well, they were in the same place at the same time, so they must have been ... right?

It's interesting how many times we do this in Christian circles. "I believe in Jesus." "Oh, really! So do I!" So we walk down the street together and exchange pleasantries. As it turns out, when we get to the next corner, we're parting ways because we aren't at all in agreement in the end. Why? How does that happen?

There is a standard of truth. That truth has a starting point and an ending point. If we come from a different starting point or go to a different ending point, the fact that we intersect for a moment is no reason to assume we're in agreement, even remotely. We see this in Christian circles. Here we are, standing in agreement, that we're Christians; we're followers of Christ. But are we, or are we just at an intersecting point of two lines? You have to ask where it comes from and where it is going to find out. Jesus warned about false prophets (Matt 7:15). He warned that false christs and false prophets would rise and lead people astray (Mark 13:22). So we shouldn't be surprised that there might be some false christians -- followers of a false christ. To find out, you need to draw a line -- to see where Christ came from and where Christ is going.

So where does the true Christ come from? He was "with God" and "was God" (John 1:1). Not a mere man. He didn't come to express His opinions or preach His own message; He came in His Father's name (John 5:43) -- sent by the Father (John 8:16) -- charged by His Father (John 10:18) to say what the Father told Him (John 8:28). He came to earth to die for our sins (1 Cor 15:3) and rise again to give us new life (Rom 6:4). He redeemed us (Gal 3:13) by paying for our sins with His blood (1 John 1:7) to appease God's wrath (Rom 3:23-25;1 John 2:2). There's a start. If that's not where your Jesus came from, we are talking about different Jesus's when we both say, "I follow Jesus."

Where is the true Christ going? He said He was going to His Father (John 14:2-3). God's will has been that all things would be united in Christ (Eph 1:9-10). He is "seated at the right hand of God" (Heb 12:2) with all authority (Matt 28:18). He came to display the glory of God (John 1:14; John 11:40) -- to glorify God (John 14:8-9; John 17:4). His direction has always been the glory of God. If that is not the direction of the Jesus you follow, we're talking about different Jesus's when we both say, "I follow Jesus."

There are other Jesus's out there. They share the name, but they're not the same Jesus. There is a Jesus who came because He loved us so much He just couldn't help it. There is a Jesus who came to solve world hunger and sickness. There is a Jesus who came not to die for sin, but to just demonstrate that God wins. There is a Jesus whose aim is to make our lives better, whose primary goal is to make bad people into good people, who winks at sin and embraces everyone. There are lots of versions of "Christ" out there. As Jesus promised, there is only one and the others are false christs.

Two people meet on the street. "I'm a Christian; I follow Christ." "Oh, good! I'm a Christian and I follow Christ." That's all well and good, but it's entirely possible that the Christ one is following is a false christ who came from somewhere Christ did not and is going somewhere Christ is not and following that christ is a bad idea. The intersection of the two based on the name is nice, but one is salvation and one is fatal. It's important to know which is which.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Psalm 73 is a common complaint. Asaph wrote it (Is that a name or a title?). In it, he complains about the wicked. They always seem to get ahead. They prosper (Psa 73:3), get fat (Psa 73:4), live prideful lives (Psa 73:6), and no one calls them out (Psa 73:10). They even malign God (Psa 73:11) and get away with it. It really bothered Asaph (Psa 73:16). Then "I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end" (Psa 73:17).

Asaph's response isn't quite what we're used to. Well, sure, he's confident of their final outcome (Psa 73:18-19), but his final answer is not really what you'd expect. Here is the famous, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You" (Psa 73:25), but that's not his final answer. He's satisfied that justice will be served (Psa 73:27), but that's not his final answer. Instead, he writes, "For me it is good to be near God." Asaph's answer to the problem that the rich get richer and the wicked seem to prosper while good people suffer is "For me it is good to be near God." It isn't "They'll get theirs" and it isn't "We'll win out in the end" even though both are true. To him, God is enough.

It's the same thing we see from Jeremiah. His hope was gone, his endurance had perished (Lam 3:18), and he was at the end.
“The LORD is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him." (Lam 3:24)
Same answer. God is enough. Not revenge, justice, preservation, prosperity. Just God.

You get the same kind of response from those three Jewish boys at the mouth of a hot Babylonian oven. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" (Dan 3:17-18). In other words, "God might save us from this, but we don't serve Him because of what He does for us. We worship Him for who He is." Or, "For us, it is good to be near God."

This is, at its core, the fundamental problem with the Prosperity Gospel. "I'm in this for what I can get." At that, it is no gospel, as demonstrated by the fact that not everyone who hangs on that theology prospers. We are saved by declaring Jesus as Lord, not be acquiescing to let Him do nice things for us. In so doing, we obtain the best, but that "best" is Him and Him alone. Can you say that? Can you agree that "for me it is good to be near God," and that's enough? If not, you're missing the best and looking at an idol.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

News Weekly - 11/16/18

The Standard Double Standard
So, last week Hoyt Hutchinson of Alabama knifed a "Baby Trump" balloon in protest of Trump's visit to Alabama. The nation was outraged at the clear hatred and vandalism. Oh, wait, not quite. As it turns out, supporters started a GoFundMe page and have raised (at this story) over $30,000 to pay for his legal fees (the aim was $6,000) and another one intending to "FREE HOYT" raised an additional $12,000. Now, you know that if it had been a Bernie balloon or, heaven forbid, an AOC balloon or the like, the outcry would have been universal and those currently trying to pay this man's way out of jail would be paying to keep that person in for life. Stinkin' vandal. Because double standards are the standard these days.

Turns out the balloon was a Trump protest and the knife-wielder was a pro-Trump guy. Still stands. When the left breaks the law and excuses it because it was against the right or if the right breaks the law and excuses it because it was against the left, the double standard prevails. I oppose double standards.

Free For All
Elizabeth Warren's "Medicare for All" plan -- that nifty $52 trillion package -- apparently is intended to include free taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants. I include this in my weakly report not because I think it's significant (sure, it's significant), but because I'm surprised it's news. Illegal immigrants already have access to free health care. Well, considering the price tag for everyone else, perhaps "free" is the wrong term ...

Flooding the Market
GLAAD is the organization that seeks to ensure universal acceptance of all things "LGBT." Convinced that the LGBTQ population has jumped from 2.5% to 20%, they are "calling on the industry to ensure that 20 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ by 2025." I'm wondering when Christians will begin to face the fact that our world is not accepting of your biblical views and David (Psa 101:3; Psa 119:37) was a lot wiser than many of us are today. How long will we continue to feed our minds with Satan's lies and consider it "entertainment"?

Wholesome TV -- an Oxymoron
Some conservatives today, especially Christian conservatives, are concerned about Disney's tumble into our society's moral collapse. Disney has drunk the koolaid, so to speak. They put a gay couple in an animated children's series and made Elsa into a lesbian for Frozen 2, just to give some recent examples. So it shouldn't come as a surprise, as Disney launches their new Disney+ that they feel the need to warn customers that classic animations like 1941's Dumbo or 1955's Lady and the Tramp offer "outdated cultural depictions." Of the classic 1946 Song of the South they assured us we would likely never see it again. In a world cut loose from traditional morality and tossed feet first into a morass of "easily offended," we really shouldn't expect any less.

Tax the Wealthy (as defined by the other wealthy)
Elizabeth Warren is in the top 1% of America's wealthy. They tell me that she is worth about $8 million. Joe Biden is worth more ($9 million), but she is #2 in the current gaggle of Democrats, wealthier even than Bernie ($2 million). So, of course, she's demanding a wealth tax that will pay for ... well ... everything. As long as mere millionaires don't have to contribute.

To add to the fray, AOC and Bernie unveiled their next step, a plan to spend $180 billion to retrofit and repair public housing "with the goal of eliminating all carbon emissions." The rest of us will have to (emphasize the "have to") pay for it ourselves, I guess. Luckily there are billions of dollars available in billionaires' bank accounts. (And why is AOC siding with the rich old white man? Isn't he, by definition, a racist sexist capitalist?)

Almost Not News
Reportedly Hillary Clinton called a suicide hotline to "place an order."

Must be true; I read it on the Internet.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Temporary Shelter

We humans have a strange sense of priorities. We are typically our own first cause. That's just human. But we are dedicated to the here and now, this immediate life. We live in what we know to be mortal shells with a limited lifespan and we do all we can to try to gain the most pleasure from it with very little apparent regard for the bigger picture -- eternity.

The Bible describes us as pottery (Isa 29:16; Rom 9:21) The Bible says that God has placed eternity in our hearts (Ecc 3:11), but that this life is a vapor (James 4:14), a shadow (1 Chr 29:15). David wrote,
O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! (Psa 39:4-5)
"Life is short." We have t-shirts that begin with that fact. So where do we go from there? We'll stick in something immediate -- "... so eat dessert first" -- or foolish, like the acronym, "YOLO," for "you only live once" by which we mean "so be as stupid as you want to be." (Why does YOLO never mean "You only live once, so do the hard things, do the best things, do the eternal things"?) Even in our recognition of the fleeting nature of life we embrace the temporary over the eternal.

So we -- even Christians -- live our lives largely in the temporary. We're most concerned about things that won't last and most animated about the short-term. It's politics or making money or fame or "stuff." We work hard for that which we cannot keep and refuse to sacrifice to gain that which we cannot lose. We consider it an affront that God would allow people to die, as if God owes it to us to enlarge the immediate and diminish the infinite. We Christians know that life is short and eternity is ours and still we muddle about working the immediate and complaining about missed meals like the Israelites in the desert.

Brethren, these things ought not be. We are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20), strangers and exiles on earth (Heb 11:13). We're eternal people suited in temporary shelters to do God's work until He calls us home. Shouldn't we be taking a broader view? Shouldn't we be living with longer aims? Sure, we need some things to be here doing what God wants us to do, but He has assured us He'll provide that (Php 4:19). Why are we so caught up in the here and now? How could we ask things like, "Should I give to the church or get out of debt?" We are children of God given eternal life and too often all we see is the here and now. We need to look beyond.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Col 3:2)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hate or Not

We who read our Bibles as if they mean something understand that one sexual sin included in Scripture is the sin of homosexual behavior. And alarm bells go off. People load their "weapons" and prepare to fire. "It's hate!" they shout. "Bigot!" they fire. Some might even threaten legal action or get together a committee to see about outlawing such hate speech.

Why? What about that statement is hate? Why does my view that the Bible clearly calls X a sin get labeled as "hate"? I didn't suggest doing anything about it. I'm not suggesting we need to rally and drive them from the streets or some such nonsense. I think that the best place someone in the sin of homosexual behavior to be would be in my church. I'm not in favor of excluding or tormenting them. Oh, I won't participate in their sin, but I wouldn't want to encourage a bank robber to rob banks or give a burglar pointers on breaking and entering while I consider their behaviors sin, too. They want me to give them what they want; I want to give them what they need. Why is it hate? (And why am I "hateful" but you're not hateful for hating me for it?)

Part of the reason that many classify it as hate, to be sure, is the shameful response some Christians have to the declaration that it is sin. "Yes! It's sin! Let's beat the devil out of them!" As if something like that can be done. Family and friends spurn friends and family because they're engaged in "that" sin while not doing the same for other, just as obvious sins. "Oh, you're sleeping with your girlfriend. Well, then, invite her over for dinner, too." "Oh, you cheated on your taxes? Well, come over and show me how." But it appears as if too many self-proclaimed Christians don't sin much themselves but are in the business of pulling specks out of other people's eyes and do so with vicious vigor. So that would be considered "hate" even by me. The goal of the Gospel is not to make bad people better; it's to make dead people alive. A more moral person will still end up in hell if he or she doesn't have a relationship with Christ. Better laws don't fix the problem.

So why do I continue to point out that the Bible clearly calls "that sin" a sin? (I put "that sin" in quotes because this isn't just about homosexual behavior. A lot of things fall in the "that sin" category.) I am not hoping to make them stop doing that. I am concerned that they might not be aware of the jeopardy they are in. Now, frankly, I can't save them from that jeopardy. I suppose, if they claim to be a Christian, I have an obligation to avoid them (1 Cor 5:9-13), but the goal there is restoration, not punishment or banishment (Gal 6:1). But my concern for those who don't know Christ is not to make them into better people. My concern is that they would come to know the One who actually can fix their problem, and I'm not talking here about "that sin"; I'm talking about all sin. And that is not hate. Unless "hoping for their very best" is classified as "hate." But, of course, I wouldn't be surprised if it was. We live in a mixed up world.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Learning to Love

What is this thing called "love"? We all know, but ... do we? For some it's sex. Like the Christian worship song that says that heaven came down like a wet, sloppy kiss. Love has some physical, romantic aspects. Of course, on the periphery of our minds we know that's not true. We love pizza, but that doesn't include kisses. For many, "love" includes this "embrace everything" concept where if you love someone you just take them as they are and encourage them in whatever they want to do. You know, tolerant and embracing. But that seems obviously problematic when what they want to do is kill a group of kids at an elementary school or take a knife to their wrists. So, we kind of buzz about the edges of love, confident we know what it is while rejecting at some point everything we think it is.

I heard a comedienne talking about how self-help gurus say you have to learn to love yourself. She thought that was really hard. I mean, who, really, loves themselves? So Whitney Houston sang, "The greatest love of all is learning to love yourself." We read, "Love one another as you love yourself" and we give ourselves a pass because, hey, it's hard to love yourself. "I don't really love myself much, so don't expect me to love you much." Because for most of us "love" is "warm thoughts." If you are going to love yourself, you have to have warm thoughts about yourself and, frankly, almost all of us have those moments when we don't even like ourselves.

So I found it interesting that I found a different definition of love in the Bible. Oh, sure, we all know that 1 Corinthians 13 version. That doesn't actually define it, but it gives a nice list of some of love's characteristics. And we know that John wrote that God is love (1 John 4:8), but that's problematic because it doesn't mean that love is God, and while it means that God defines love, we're still left without a clear definition. So I came across this. I've read it many times before, but it struck me this time that it was actually a clear description of what Scripture sees as love.
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. (Eph 5:28-30)
Paul is saying here that men should love their wives as they love their own bodies. Someone might well raise an objection, "But we don't love ourselves." To which Paul responds, "Yes ... you do." How? Paul says that we love ourselves by nourishing and cherishing our own bodies. And there, dear reader, is perhaps one of the clearest definitions I've ever found for love.

Nourish and cherish -- that's Paul's idea of love. His word translated as "nourish" refers to being fed or fattened. It literally means "stiffened" and includes the idea of training and bringing to maturity. The word for "cherish" is derived from the verb "to warm" and carries the image of incubating chicks. In his language, Paul suggests that loving ourselves is seen in the fact that we feed and clothe ourselves. Paul points out the fact that we are always loving ourselves -- seeking what is best for ourselves. Even the one contemplating suicide is thinking "This is the best thing I can do."

In truth, we don't need to learn to love ourselves. It is innate. It is built in. All Paul is asking of husbands is that we take that built-in desire for our own best interests turn it toward our wives, seeking their own best interests. All God is commanding is that, in the same way that we take good care of ourselves, we would take good care of others (Matt 22:39). We've managed to attach all manner of add-ons to "love." It's a warm feeling, and extension of "like." It's sex or it's family or it's desire. It embraces the loved one even if the loved one is heading in the worst possible direction. None of this fits with "nourishes and cherishes." None of it fits with seeking the best for the other. And we all have the built-in grasp of it in our own built-in nature to seek our own best interest. Now, just turn that around to others. Easy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Prior Commitment

"I'm sorry. I appreciate the invitation, but I have a prior commitment." We all understand that. When we commit to something, subsequent commitments will be a problem. The same is true in our thinking.

From the early days of Israel on into the 19th century anyone who read Genesis 1 came to no other conclusion but that the world was created in 6 24-hour periods. There are such explicit statements there, like "the morning and the evening were the first day" (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). Then factor in what God said in Exodus 20.
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exo 20:8-11)
Israel was commanded to honor the 7th day of the week as the Sabbath on the basis that God made the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th. Sure seems clear.

If I had written this in the year 100, 1000, or 1800 there would not have been a question. That's exactly what the text was saying. No longer. We have debate among believers all over the place ranging from, "I think you might be mistaken" to "If you believe that you're an idiot at best and a heretic at worst." From both sides. Why? Well, the notion that God made the universe in 6 days would run afoul of Science's position that the universe is billions and billions of years old. Science will tell you without hint of refutation that the universe is some 14 billion years old and the Earth is something a little more than 4 billion years old. So much for Scripture.

Of course, we (believers) don't conclude, "So much for Scripture." We exhibit our prior commitment to Science and reevaluate Scripture. One of the earlier versions of this was what is known as the "Gap Theory." The argument posits that there is a gap between Gen 1:1 and Gen 1:2. At one point He created the heavens and the Earth (Gen 1:1) and at a later point it was "without form and void" (Gen 1:2). Apparently something happened between the two. Could have been a long time. Could have been billions of years. Who knows? Something happened and God did a second Creation that is outlined in Genesis 1:3-31. Clear enough. Although it is without any substance. After that one came the "Day-Age Theory." Sure, sure, the text says it was six days, but, look, if you examine Hebrew you'll find where the word for "day" can also be understood to be an undefined amount of time. Maybe a day; maybe an entire era or age. Could be. In this view, each "day" in Genesis 1 is an undetermined amount of time in which God goes about creating all that is. And now we have billions of years front-loaded into our Genesis narrative. given either the Gap Theory or the Day-Age Theory, the presumed error of Scripture where it collides with Science's Age of the Earth is solved.

Why do we do this? It is not from a prior commitment to Scripture. It only occurs when we have a prior commitment to Science. (I write it with a capital S for that reason.) We don't stand first on Scripture and then say, "Hmmm, look at that ... science doesn't agree. I wonder where science went wrong." That would be a commitment to Scripture over Science. (It should be noted that the age of the Earth is premised upon the theory of deposition of horizontal strata in rocks. How do we know that is correct? Well, we don't. It is simply assumed.)

My aim here is not to urge that you jettison science when it contradicts Scripture. I don't think that's the first, best course of action. But science is not God and science is not infallible ... by definition. Science is full of theories that are examined and tossed or affirmed, but never infallibly. Science is not omniscient. Further, it is not unbiased. It is human-driven which includes an anti-God bias (Rom 8:7) and a deceitful heart (Jer 17:9) and damaged mind (Eph 4:17). We have all sorts of prior commitments -- modern morality, preferred sexual partners, human philosophy, money, power, the approval of others. Lots of prior commitments. The question is whether or not we will allow them to supersede our commitment to God and His truth. Which is your prior commitment?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Confidence, Man

You know what a con man is, right? The word is a shortened form of "confidence." The way it works is someone gains your confidence and then takes you in and steals from you. A con man.

Confidence. It's fleeting at times. I, for instance, am confident in what appears in the pages of the Bible. When it appears straightforward and clear, I think it's straightforward and clear. I think it's God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17) and, therefore, completely reliable. So Jesus says, "No man comes to the Father but by Me" (John 14:6) and I think, using hunches, opinion, devious meanderings, and other methods, that it means "No man comes to the Father but by Me." So I confidently proclaim it and there is no end of folks willing to correct my grievous error.

Obviously I need to stop having confidence in God's Word, or, rather, in my ability to understand it. It's not clear. It's elusive, tied up in changing worlds and lost languages and nuances that, frankly, no longer even apply. Sure, those people thought they knew what it meant when it said it is an abomination for man to lie with a man as with a woman, but they were wrong and so are the rest of us. We need to have confidence, but not in the readability of the Bible. We need to place it elsewhere. In men.

It is folly, it seems, to read the Bible for what it says. The only way to evaluate the Bible is to figure out what to think before you read it and then figure out how to read it so it matches what you already think. If you think it means something that the Church has historically understood it to mean or, worse, what the Reformers thought it meant, clearly you need to rethink it. "There is none good; no, not one" cannot mean there is none good. It actually means "There are lots of good people; look around you!" If you understand texts like Romans 1:26-27 to say that homosexual behavior is not okay with God, you're not grasping the language. If you think that 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says that those who make a practice of homosexual behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God, you simply don't understand the culture of the time. If you think that when Genesis says that God created humans as male and female (Gen 1:27), it means that humans are male or female, you're simply fabricating ideas out of thin air. If you see "a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5; Eph 5:31) as a definition of marriage, you're just stuck in the historical, traditional view of marriage and your overlaying your own beliefs on the Bible. If you have the audacity to think that God actually made the heavens and the earth and all that in them is in six days, you just don't know Science. Science says it is not so, so the Bible can't mean that. Oh, and if you see, heaven forbid, in every reference Jesus makes to "eternal fire" (Matt 25:41), a "fiery furnace" (Matt 13:41-42), "unquenchable fire" where "the worm does not die" (Mark 9:43, 48-49) and the like a reference to some sort of eternal hell, you just don't know much, do you?

No, no, do not put your confidence in the plain, straightforward words or the simple meanings of Scripture. Look away from the obvious. You need to put your confidence in people who can explain all that away for you and give you a worldview that matches the rest of the world around you. You might be tempted to think, "Hey, doesn't the Bible warn us not to love the world or the things in the world? Doesn't it say that the world's thinking is not from the Father?" (1 John 2:15-16). Well, yes, it does, but surely you can see the error in your thinking. Didn't we just say you need to stop taking the Bible at its word? So, stop. Put your confidence in Man, not in what men have written (Eph 5:6). Trust me. They'll be glad to have you beside them if you'll only toe their line. It's a matter of confidence, man.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Where to Stand

We live in troubling times. Our world is telling us that our Bible is not reliable, that our religion is a delusion, that our faith is pointless. Self-identified Christians tell us that all of Christendom has been wrong since the beginning on issues like the sin of homosexual behavior or the sufficiency of Scripture. We are, more and more, being told that we are "on the wrong side of history." And in more and more places they're saying it with threats, laws, and legal actions. We here in America don't really face any serious persecution like they do in other lands yet, but Jesus said that being reviled and falsely accused is persecution (Matt 5:10-11) and we're certainly there. And it looks a lot like it's a precipice we're on rather than a momentary difficulty (2 Cor 4:17).

Christians I've talked to tell me they're worried. "If things keep going as they are, I can't see how Christianity can survive." Certainly a troubling thought, but I suspect it's premature. You see, Jesus said, "I will build My Church" (Matt 16:18). That doesn't sound a like a Church that can fail. So where can we stand with some sense of safety? A repeated theme we see in the Bible is two little words: "Fear not." So how do we do that? How do we "rejoice evermore" (1 Thess 5:16)? How do we "not be anxious about anything" and "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds" (Php 4:6-7)? Is there a safe place to stand?

Yes. We have promises. We have God's promise, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb 13:5). We have the assurance that "my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19). We can be sure that "In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Rom 8:37). The Word tells us that He "is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Eph 3:20).

Now, let's be honest here. We have this promise that He won't forsake us, but do you ever feel forsaken? We know that He will supply our needs, but do we feel like He doesn't sometimes? We are "more than conquerors," but doesn't it feel like we're losing sometimes? Just how real is His power in us? These promises and more are marvelous and absolutely sufficient, but sometimes ... sometimes ... it just doesn't feel like it.

So you need to ask yourself, who will you believe? Will you believe your sight or walk by faith? Will you believe the waves and the wind, or look to the Savior? Who are you going to trust? I would suggest that a God who cannot fail to do right, who cannot fail to love, who promises all this and more is more reliable than our feelings. It is better to stand on His promises based on His heart than to trust in your own feelings. Then the peace of God which passes understanding can guard your hearts and minds. The world intends it for evil; God intends it for good. That's where we can stand.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

News Weakly - 11/9/19

Hard to Follow
I don't know if it's me or just the insane world in which we live, but I didn't get this story at all. Advice columnist E. Jean Caroll is suing President Trump not for sexual assault, but for denying it. Now, that seems odd. And a bit unfair. If "she" (whoever "she" is) accuses "him" (pick one, anyone) of sexual assault and he admits it, she's exonerated. If he denies it, she sues him for damaging her reputation and she's exonerated. Either way he loses and she wins. What's up with that? But she wisely brought her suit in New York, a state that seems to hate the president, so I don't think it will go well for him, fair or not.

Who's Paying for This?
Okay, so it is a human right to be given a "living wage." Fine. We don't exactly know what that is and I can guarantee you that their will be large unintended consequences, but, okay. So now Bank of America has decided to boost the company's minimum by early 2020. How generous. Of course you know where banks make their money, right? I mean, it's you, the customer, the investor, the depositor, those getting loans. So ... who's going to pay for this increase? It won't be "super-rich bankers." Do the math.

Art Imitates Life
Emma Watson is a well-known actress and activist, and now she has "come out." No, she's not gay; she's "self-partnered." She doesn't like the term "single," so she's calling herself "self-partnered" as if "partnered" can be done by one. Like the equally nonsensical "I am my own best friend," the concept illustrates how disconnected we've become with reality and with society (which also requires more than one).

Filed Under "California ... Again"
Back in 2014 California passed Prop 47, a measure intended to reduce penalties for some crimes. Like, shoplifting. If you don't shoplift more than $950 worth of goods, you won't be arrested or prosecuted. Who would have guessed? Turns out when you remove the law about shoplifting, shoplifting increases. Go figure! I mean, surely, if people are basically good, this wouldn't happen, would it?

Remind You of Another Story?
This is weird. God annihilated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone for "grave sins" (Gen 18:20) which included "sexual immorality" and "pursuing unnatural desires" (Jude 1:7), pride and abominations (Ezek 16:50), and refusing to aid the poor and needy amidst their great wealth (Ezek 16:49). Las Vegas calls itself "Sin City," is famous for its sexual immorality, and has outlawed homeless from sleeping in public areas. I'm starting to see parallels here. You might want to rethink your next visit to Vegas.

Make Up Your Mind
The news item's opening line is, "A woman in California has been arrested and charged with murder after she delivered a stillborn baby with toxic levels of methamphetamine in his system." Now, I'm willing to forego further comment on the "his system" in that line even though we all know it's child abuse to determine a baby's gender from its biology, but what's up with the rest of it? She was charged with murder? How is that possible?? It was stillborn. It was never a person. It was never a baby. It was mere tissue until the moment of its birth ... right? Come on, folks. Make up your mind. An unborn child is a human life or it is not. You can't have it both ways.

(The Babylon Bee agrees with me. No kidding.)

Friday, November 08, 2019


Since we are told not to love the world (1 John 2:15) and that the world will oppose us because it opposes Christ (John 15:18), it stands to reason that some, perhaps a lot, of Christianity will be countercultural. It will run against the grain of the world's point of view. And, to the extent that we've bought into the world's point of view, it will also run against the grain of our own ideas. This is an example.

In his epistle to the church at Ephesus Paul explains about how we should become "imitators of God" and "walk in love as Christ loved us" (Eph 5:1). Now, there is a lot to it -- things to avoid and the like -- but the one that I found interesting is this one.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11)
It's pretty straightforward. The "unfruitful works of darkness" aren't hard to imagine, although I would like to point out that it doesn't require "the evil works." "Unfruitful" is enough to avoid them. That would obviously include the evil works of darkness, but also the worthless, the pointless, the frivolous works as well. But the other thing that is abundantly clear here is what to do instead. "Instead expose them." Different translations put different words there for "expose." The King James says "reprove," for instance. Same thing. The word is ἐλέγχω -- "elegchō" -- and means to convict, refute, correct, find fault. "Expose" works here particularly because of the context where Paul goes on to say, "When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible" (Eph 5:13). So that's the idea.

It is clear what it means, but it is equally clear that we don't like it. Not one bit. Not in today's world. Not in today's culture. No, no, here's what we know: just keep your mouth shut. Do not expose sin. Don't correct sin. Don't talk about it. What we need to be is non-judgmental. Actually, that's not enough today. We've redefined "tolerant" from "allowing for differences" to "embracing sin." Sure, you may have thought X was sin, but today you're supposed to be encouraging and enabling and accepting. Certainly not convicting, refuting, correcting, or exposing it. This has become so drummed into us these days that lots of Christians think it's the way it should be. So I'm pointing out here that Paul disagrees.

Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault" (Matt 18:15) (followed by a whole procedure to continue the process). Paul wrote, "If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness" (Gal 6:1). Again and again we are told not to ignore or embrace sin, but to expose and oppose it. Biblically, if we care about each other, if we are bearing one another's burdens, if we love each other, we must be exposing sin. It is commanded. When we refuse to do so, it's sin. When we do so without love, it's sin. But to fail to correct that which harms a fellow believer because we "don't want to be judgmental" is both a refusal to obey and a refusal to love. Since our aim is to love and not to sin, if we have that mindset that we should not confront sin but just keep quiet, perhaps we need to change our thinking to align with Scripture rather than the alternative (Eph 4:22-24).

Thursday, November 07, 2019

The Homosexual Debate

I've done some of this before, so I'm pretty sure some of my readers are gearing up to do battle with me regarding the clear statements from Scripture about how homosexual behavior is sin. Relax. I'm not going there. I've often spent no small amount of time discussing words and their changing meanings, often into oblivion. Words like "marriage". Nope, not going there this time, either. This time it's someplace a little different.

I was reading along in 1 Corinthians and came across the well-known text:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor 6:9-11 NASB)
Some of that is without dispute. Like "fornicators" and "adulterers" and "swindlers" do not inherit the kingdom of God. No question. There's no question because Paul makes it clear "Such were some of you," which simply goes to show that we can have been involved in sin (because, after all, there is none of us who have not been) and still be washed, sanctified, and justified. That is, we may have been thieves (for instance), but that doesn't have to be our final condition; we can be saved ... and inherit the kingdom. Good news.

And, of course, the "homosexual" thing is without dispute. Some argue that it refers to some sort of religious homosexual thing, not "loving relationships," but that's problematic since Paul specifies religious sin under "idolaters" and the language doesn't support that version. It's interesting that Paul's choice of words here, "arsenokoitēs," doesn't appear anywhere in ancient Greek until this one. It appears as if Paul himself might have coined the term. It is a reflection of the Old Testament phrase, a male who lies with a male as one lies with a female (Lev 18:22). Oh, the word is clear, even if it occurs only twice in the New Testament. But, again, that's not my point.

As I was looking at this stuff, I found an interesting anomaly. The NASB, KJV, and many others have that word in there between "adulterers" and "homosexuals." The word is "effeminate" here in the New American Standard. But in the ESV it isn't in there. The ESV simply lists, "the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality" in verse 9. Why did they skip that word? I looked at the Greek and there is a word there. The word is "malakos" and it means "soft". Huh. So I had to dig into it a bit more. According to a note I found in the ESV, they eliminated the word because the translators believed it referred to the "female" part of the homosexual behavior. The NET Bible says, "passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals." The LITV lists "male prostitutes" and "homosexuals." The older Darby translation includes "those who make women of themselves" and "those who abuse themselves with men." So, they are saying, it refers to the "receiver" (malakos) and the "giver" (arsenokoitēs) in homosexual sexual activity.

I don't know. Some translators disagree. They argue that it is a warning against the effeminate. Commentator Albert Barnes says, "It denotes those who give themselves up to a soft, luxurious, and indolent way of living" (in which case it isn't just males). That is, it's clear that it's not about "effeminate" as our current culture would use it -- "swishy" guys or crossdressers or the androgynous males. It's not about wearing skinny jeans. It's not a man that has feminine characteristics. That might be a problem, but that's not what's in view here. It might be the passive participant of a homosexual act, but it is not as likely in my view. I think it's about men who are not acting as men. We are commanded to "act like men" (1 Cor 16:13). It suggests courage and strength. It suggests responsibility and action. It means to be alert, to stand firm in the faith, to be strong. (Actually, that's all from the 1 Cor 16 reference.) It means fighting when fighting is necessary (Eph 6:10-18; James 4:7). It means fleeing when fleeing is necessary (1 Cor 10:14; 1 Tim 6:9-11; 2 Tim 2:22).

Our sexually perverse society has scrambled our perceptions. To be fair, our perceptions have long been scrambled. Historians trace it all the way back to the beginning of the Industrial Age when husbands spent a great deal of time away from home working in factories to support their families, leaving women in charge. Women were most present in church and, as might be expected, ended up "redecorating" churches, so to speak. They made them more "gentle," more "sensitive," more emotional. There is no shortage of writings and websites on the subject. Regardless of whether or not you agree that such a thing has occurred, statistically the ratio of men to women in church on any given Sunday is about 60% women to 40% men. Something has gone wrong with men. Clearly Christian men today are not acting like men. We have a problem with effeminacy in the church, and most consider it a good thing. "Get in touch with your feminine side." "Be more tender, more emotive." We're supposed to avoid the "testosterone problem." We are not supposed to act like men. And then throw in the sin and confusion of our sexually perverse society.

I started this with the provocative title of "The Homosexual Debate" and the touchy text of 1 Corinthians 6. I don't want you to come away with either. I want you to consider whether or not you men are acting like men and whether you women are encouraging them to do so because, after all, it's a command.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Moral Outrage

You can't be part of this society without noticing that there seems to be a sharp increase these days in moral outrage. Because Chick-fil-A's president is personally opposed to gay marriage, all sorts of outrage has been levied against a business that displays no prejudice against gay marriage. Because a pastor preached a sermon to his church about how God made male and female and nothing else, outrage requires that the church be shamed and beaten in public (so to speak). You get the idea.

Our moral outrage is inconsistent. A white cop kills a black man and we're outraged at the overt racism. A black cop kills a black man and we're outraged at the overt racism. Oh, wait ... no, it doesn't make sense, but that's what the public does. Some African-American girls are assaulted by some teenagers of Indian descent and we're outraged at their acting out whiteness. Black-on-black murder and abuse? Let's not really talk about that. Which is more outrageous -- the boy who wants to transition to be a girl but his parents won't let him or the boy that does not want to transition to be a girl but his mother is trying to do it anyway? We're outraged, but we're all over the place with it. We're outraged if Christians hold views we don't like but defend Moslems for holding the same views. We're all over the place with our outrage.

The problem, of course, is that we don't share a common morality so we can't resolve our moral problems. In today's world we deny Objective Morality. It doesn't exist. Maybe it's God. Maybe it's Science. Maybe it's just Me. Maybe a combination. But it is not absolute. Morality is what "I" make it where "I" refers to "me" or "us" or "each individual as it occurs." So we arrive at strange places like "Inclusivity is an ultimate good and we will exclude those who are not inclusive" or "Moral people are not judgmental people and we will judge those who are judgmental." "Every white person is a racist" is morally sound to one and an utter lie to another. Freedom of religion is a right to be discarded even though the Constitution defends it while "I identify as a different gender (and what that gender is may not even have a name)" is to be morally applauded but "I question that conclusion" is not merely discussion, but wrong, wrong, wrong. It is good to declare yourself "gay" or "transgender" but evil to suggest you might have been wrong. You can identify as a different gender but not a different race. All of these and more, as a function of relativistic morality, become insurmountable because to surmount something is to get on top of it and we can't define what it is, let alone where the top is. Without definition -- good/bad, right/wrong -- it is not possible to get down to the basics and figure things out. These conflicts cannot be resolved without an arbitrator, and we've managed to remove the Ultimate Arbitrator.

We're used to relativism. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." We all know that. "One man's junk is another man's treasure." Yeah, sure. "What I believe is right or wrong is not necessarily so" we never really say, but that's where we are. We've decided that X is good and Y is bad and, even though we've simply decided it without any genuine basis, we feel it is our right and even obligation to impose that on others. And if someone says, "But, I am subject to God's rules," we are outraged. Because the one solid absolute moral rule today is "What I want" and you have no right to infringe on that. As a result, of course, we operate on one hand in a realm of rules while, on the other hand, they are rules without objective or even rational basis. We are a "moral society" untethered from morality and quite sure we know a good thing when we see it. And it's not working too well for us.