Category Archives: Religion and Politics

A Nation Needs a Moral Compass

You probably know what a compass is. People use it to figure out how to reach a known destination. When they are not sure of the destination, they use it to avoid wandering in circles.

Every human being needs a moral compass—a means of determining the right path to take in order to do what is right instead of what is wrong, and also to avoid going in moral circles.

A nation needs a moral compass, too. Nations work toward various objectives, and they need to find the right way to reach their objectives. A moral compass is required. Something other than the “It makes me feel good” standard is necessary for both nations and individuals.

There was a time when the USA had a moral compass that grew out of people’s respect for and sometimes even their worship and obedience to Almighty God. Now, when the Red Cross feels free to tell volunteers they are forbidden to pray with or give Bibles to flood victims, one wonders if our nation has any moral compass at all? Would a nation with a moral compass tell little children that they must “discover” their gender identity? Would a nation with a moral compass make the union of two homosexuality equal to marriage?

Does the USA have a moral compass?

This question is very important in today’s world, because in the public forum—Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and so forth—it is not uncommon to read a complaint that Christians are trying to “force their views” on non-Christians when Christians advocate for laws, policies and regulations that protect the right of Christians to live and act according to their moral compass. When Christians declare that the law of the land should define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, people who argue that the union of two men ought to be a marriage do not see that the conversation is an ordinary disagreement. The advocates for same-sex marriage declare that Christians advocating that marriage be defined as the union of one man and one woman are trying to “force their views” while the advocates for same-sex marriage are supposedly advocating for “equality.”

The definition of “equality” as applied to marriage is actually an argument over a moral compass. Advocates for same-sex marriage argue that “marriage” is a universal human right and therefore nobody can be denied the right to get “married.” However in their private glossary, the word “marriage” is whatever somebody wants to call it. Advocates for same-sex marriage do not argue that the union of two people of the same gender is a marriage. They argue that marriage is the union of two beings who “love” each other.

In an environment where the words “equality,” “marriage,” and even “gender” no longer have specific meanings, it is impossible to have a discussion about morality. The reason a magnetic compass works for navigation on land and sea is that the needle always points in one direction only. The needle of a magnetic compass points north, no matter where you are on earth, no matter if it is hot, cold, wet, or dry. In the desert, on top of a mountain, in a tree or on the deck of a boat. No matter where you are, the compass points in only one direction: north. If you know which way is north, it is easy to know which way is east or south. You can go northeast for a while using your compass to be sure you continue to travel in a single direction without wandering. Then, when you want to go back where you came from, you can turn around and travel southwest. Using the compass, you always know where you are relative to north. The magnetic compass helps you not to get lost when traveling.

A moral compass serves the same purpose. A moral compass always tells you which way is right and which way is wrong. The Bible is a moral compass. It is an unchanging revelation of truth as revealed to humans by God himself. If you want to know if it is right for a man to marry a woman, you can read the Bible and learn that God himself created humans to live in the relationship of marriage, a relationship defined by God himself to be the union of a man and a woman. That is God’s definition, and his definition is consistent from the start of the Bible to the end of it. His definition, like the magnetic field that pulls the needle of a magnet to the north, is consistent and sure. Christians, who believe the truth of the Bible, believe that this definition is the right definition of marriage. Christians accept the Bible as a moral compass.

There have been people who reject the Bible as a moral compass as long as there have been people. The Bible itself describes that situation at the time of Noah, and many times since. The same problem has surfaced in many places when people reject the Bible. Today, even though the history of the USA is that most people accept the Bible as their moral compass, the number who reject it varies from time to time. At the moment, the number who reject the Bible is increasing.

They are not, however, the majority. Nevertheless, they want to be the majority, and failing the attainment of a majority, they want to prevent the majority from establishing a moral compass.

This is the real issue between Christians and non-Christians in today’s public forum on the subject of morality. Christians want to comply with the teachings of a moral compass, and non-Christians do not want to acknowledge that any moral compass has any authority over them. When non-Christians accuse Christians of trying to “push their views on other people,” that is not really what upsets them. After all, they are the minority in numbers, but they do want the right to advocate for their views and to get their views into legislation. So they cannot really complain and object when Christians advocate for their own views.

Clearly, what the non-Christians really want is for Christians to be forbidden to speak of and act on their own moral compass. What non-Christians really want is for Christians to be required to live by the non-Christian lack of moral compass. The non-Christians in today’s culture want Christians to be required to speak and act as if they agree with the non-Christians that there is no such thing as a moral compass.

Non-Christians want Christians to be required to appear to agree with the non-Christians. They want Christians to be required to self-criticize in public and acknowledge that the Christian advocacy for morality consistent with the revealed moral standards in the Bible is immoral in itself. They want Christians to be humbled and humiliated and punished for even suggesting that the nation should live by biblical moral standards.

The nation needs a moral compass. Non-Christians do not want the nation to have a moral compass. That is the real battle Christians must pray about.

Pray for America. Pray that God will forgive our sins for the sake of his Son. Pray for our nation to adopt and cling to a biblical moral compass. Pray for our leaders, the president, the president-elect, and all citizens, those who voted for Hillary, those who voted for Donald Trump, those who voted for anyone else, and those who did not vote at all. Pray that each of us will see God’s clear revelation of right and wrong, and that each of us will have the courage to live by God’s moral standards. Pray today and every day that our nation will do what is right and good in the world. Pray for America every day.

 

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A Good Enemy might be Your Best Friend

There is a great deal of public discussion of what Donald Trump the businessman should do in order to protect Donald Trump the President from accusations of using his office to enrich himself. People who regard Barack Obama as an enemy of the people want to stifle such accusations, and all the legal folderol that goes with them.

I recommend we thank the people who choose to bird dog the president-elect with regard to the integrity of his behavior. If they are on point all the time, then the new president will be on notice that he must show integrity and character at all times. I don’t see that as a bad thing. I think all our public officials should do that.

The people who are up in arms about whether Donald Trump should create a complete break between himself and his businesses will keep the issue in the public eye. The public needs to know what kind of person the president is. Since Donald Trump has lived a very public life, it is not likely this scrutiny will reveal anything new, but that is not the point. The real point is that when someone has a good enemy, it is a good idea to capitalize on it.

If the loyal opposition keeps the new president’s feet to the fire, the public will benefit. It is true that legal action involves big costs in time and money, but government people will spend time and money on something, no matter who the president is. If they are busy watching the president, there will be less time for them to hatch new schemes to sidestep the Constitution or increase the national debt.

Donald Trump should be grateful for all his good enemies. While they are watching him, he will be better able to achieve the goals stated in his campaign rhetoric.

The Trump administration should thank the opposing party for keeping the spotlight on the new president. We who watch and pray should ask God to bless the enemies who are busy about His work of assuring leadership with integrity.

Why Were the Polls so Wrong?

Until about 8PM on November 8, nobody in the media was predicting anything but a win for Hillary Clinton. Among the polls taken in the days leading up to the election, the only difference was the difference between a squeaker and a landslide. All the polls predicted a win for Hillary Clinton.

Yet, Donald Trump won, and he won resoundingly, by a healthy margin of electoral votes. Maps of results by state were clearly dominated by the color red. According to the Constitution, electoral votes are the votes that determine the election. The polls taken before the election predicted a win for the wrong candidate, and that prediction was wrong, dead wrong, profoundly wrong.

Why did all the polls miss the prediction?

The polls missed the prediction, because God is still in charge. It would be easier to explain the results by hypothesizing that the polls were unwittingly skewed by an ill-suppressed desire for a Democrat win that led pollsters to de-randomize the selection of people to be polled. I, however, attribute the failure of the polls to foresee Donald Trump’s win to the fact that God has other plans for this country, I believe that people who are in touch with God prayed in submission to God’s will, and I believe God heard their prayers. A win that topples the predictions of well-validated statistical analysis is no big feat for the One who walks on water.

The Bible teaches us that we who have been purchased by the blood of Christ can cast out deeply embedded demons through prayer. We can move mountains by prayer. When our prayers are offered in submission to the will of Almighty God, the outcome can be utterly unexpected by minds confined to the time/space universe.

The Bible also teaches us that God likes to be recognized when he achieves victory, so it would not be out of character for God to set up a situation in which his intervention is the only possible explanation for the events. I believe that this may be the deep reason that nobody got it right.

Our election story could also be delightfully in parallel with the Bible story of the prophet Micaiah. When ancient kings thought about going into battle, they routinely summoned prophets to forecast the likelihood that they would win. King Ahab asked the prophets of Israel about his prospects for success in a battle against his neighbor, and they all predicted an easy win.  After a little verbal sparring, Micaiah told the king how God had sent a lying spirit to the prophets in order to entice Ahab to go into battle and die in a resounding defeat. The polls forecasting that Hillary Clinton’s win was inevitable were like the words of the prophets deceived by the lying spirit.

It served God’s purpose for people to know that Ahab’s defeat was God’s plan. Is it possible that it serves God’s purposes for people to see that Hillary’s defeat serves God’s plan?

After Election Day, when the vote tally showed that Donald Trump had won the presidential election, a lot of people, including me, breathed a sigh of relief. We felt we had received a reprieve after 8 years under the leadership of a man who had been leading the country in the wrong direction. Hillary Clinton’s campaign promises deliberately built on the “legacy” of Barack Obama, assuring people who were pleased with his work that it would continue if she were elected. Those of us who believed that Obama’s agenda was utterly wrong for America were glad to see the Obama juggernaut halted.

Since the direction Obama took was the wrong direction, it seems quite natural to believe that the direction Donald Trump takes will be so different that it will surely be the right direction. People who yearn for the country to move in a different direction are expressing their fervent hope that Donald Trump will undo many things that Obama considers to be admirable accomplishments. They have high hopes that the new president will fix what they believe to have been broken by the Obama administration. Voters need to remember that we dare not put our hope in any human being. It is tempting to rejoice exuberantly that Obama’s agenda is off the table while we forget that Trump’s agenda is also might not be God’s agenda.

We only exchange one tyranny for another if we put our hope in Donald Trump.

People of God must be humble in our gratitude for this election outcome, and we must not overload Donald Trump by inappropriately putting our hope for the future of the USA in him. We must continue to hope only in God. Donald Trump will, I believe, be a good president, but he is still only a man. He will make mistakes. He will disappoint people who prayed that he be elected. His administration could ultimately be a terrible blot on the history of the USA (As Ahab’s reign was a terrible blot on the history of Israel) unless the people who prayed for this election continue to pray for America.

A lot of people prayed for Hillary Clinton’s defeat, because they felt that she would surely continue to lead the country in the same wrong direction that Obama traveled. Donald Trump campaigned on  taking the country in a different direction. However, a different wrong direction is still wrong. Whoever prayed that God would give us a president who would put us on the right path must continue to pray that God will guide our new president in everything he does. We must be his prayer warriors to invoke God’s guidance in all that he says and does.

We give thanks for the hope that our country will turn away from the path to destruction on which Barack Obama was embarked, but we must pray every day that our new president be protected from the temptation simply to take us down a different wrong path. We must put our hope for a blessed, safe, and prosperous future in God Almighty, not in Donald Trump.

Pray for Donald Trump. Pray for his administration. Pray every day for America.

Government is Not the Answer

Someone finally said it in straightforward language.Never before have both parties failed so spectacularly, producing two dishonest, deceitful candidates who should be disqualified from running for town council, much less leader of the free world.” (David French, quoted in the Daily Briefing by Nick Pitts at http://www.denisonforum.org/daily-briefing) For everyone who does not rely on God as the only hope for a broken world, such a pair sounds like the end of all that is good in the USA.

Take note that each of these candidates represents what secularism most fondly approves–the actualization of the deep yearnings of human beings who simply want to be the best they can be. Each of these candidates has promised at one time or another to fulfill every possible self-worshiping dream of a secular thinker. Each promises benefits and opportunities galore. If “the people” vote to receive what makes them feel good, either of these candidates will be a fine choice.

Thus, if nothing changes between now and election day, the voters will assuredly elect someone who will give them everything they ever wanted. Voters who believe government is the answer to the brokenness of the world will put the person who agrees with them in a position of immense power. For once, if you believe government is the solution to national and global challenges, you can rest easy, because both of the candidates completely agree with you.

Some of us doubt even the most powerful government on earth can fix all the brokenness. Some of us are quite confident that the answer to the world’s problems does not lie in the space/time continuum at all. We are not alone in our viewpoint. In fact, wise people have always recognized that the evils in the space/time continuum can only be reversed by someone not limited by the space/time continuum. One of the more famous among our number was David, the shepherd who became king of ancient Israel. He wrote, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). The phrase “chariots and horses” is a metaphor for government. Ordinary subjects in David’s lifetime possessed neither chariots nor horses. Government, the king and his retinue, had chariots and horses. In plain speech, then, David said, “Some trust in government, but we trust in God.

Voters who trust in God will be hard-pressed to know how to vote in the election in November. When neither candidate can be considered the “lesser” of the two evils, it is very hard to decide what to do. Fortunately, if we trust in God, a wise and Wonderful Counselor is available to us at all times. In prayer, both speaking and listening, each of us can learn to discern the right course of action.

A good way to begin praying about this problem is to pray Psalm 20 in its entirety. The whole psalm speaks of turning to God for the solution to our problems, but this psalm does not dump government by the side of the road. The psalmist recognizes God’s gift of government as something humanity needs. Human beings need wise human administrators, even when the leaders are, as they inevitably are, broken, flawed leaders. Even though the psalm lays all the problems in God’s hands, it recognizes God’s purposes worked out in human authority structures. The final verse prays for the human government to be subject to God and to do the right thing for the citizens. The psalmist implies, but does not develop, the truth that some problems do not lie within the scope of God’s plan for human leadership. The ultimate authority lies with God, and he delegates authority for various sorts of problems to a variety of people. In the set of all problems, only a subset is within God’s purposes for government.

Pray for your government, and put all the problems in the hands of God. Open your Bible to Psalm 20 and personalize this prayer for your government. Then listen. Learn how God will lead you to perform your own civic duty in this republic of republics and let him guide you to the right way to interact with the government. Only God knows the outcome in November that will advance his kingdom and his purposes.

Why Isn’t SFC Martland an Anti-Bullying Hero?

What do you think should happen when an American war hero, a Green Beret, learns from a distraught mother that her son has been sexually abused by an Afghan national serving on a US military base in Afghanistan? What would be the right thing to do? SFC Charles  Martland is the NCO who received this complaint, and he took immediate action to Continue reading Why Isn’t SFC Martland an Anti-Bullying Hero?