Tag Archives: marriage equality

Don’t be a Kamikaze Kristian

Secular thinking drives the culture to something that reminds me of what was called “Kamikaze Kool-Aid” in my childhood. Whenever there was a party for children, it was common to offer two or three flavors of Kool-Aid, and each child could pick the color/flavor he liked best. Some children, however, preferred not to choose. They demanded some of every flavor/color, and the resulting drink looked a lot like the muddy water of the Mississippi River that bordered my home state, Missouri. We called that disgusting brown drink “Kamikaze Kool-Aid” in remembrance of the suicide planes our fathers had faced during World War II. It appears that contemporary secular culture activists want that same outcome in the culture–a muddy sameness, the end to any different viewpoints or practices. It reminds me of the movie The Wall, produced as a video exegesis of the Pink Floyd album by the same name. In that movie, cookie cutter children are conveyed in grey sameness to the end of a conveyor belt where they drop into a great void, all to the accompaniment of the song “We Don’t Need No Education.” I believe this is what secularists regard as their ultimate objective. When I think about it, it is amazing that this expose’ of the emptiness of secularism should have been produced by some of the culture’s leading proponents.

Kamikaze Kulture is a culture where are the external representations of an ethnicity may still remain evident, but each unique element loses its connections and identity in a social construct where the word equality is used to batter people into beings not much different from those grey, faceless children on the conveyor belt in The Wall. At a high level, the US government is attempting to force a cultural mix on neighborhoods, a blend as colorful as Kamikaze Koolaid , using the regulations labeled Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing to eliminate neighborhood covenants that protect the culture of the residents. On another promontory at that high level, the US government sponsors what is called “interfaith dialogue,” a fraudulent project designed to smudge the unique principles and practices of all religions into a Kamikaze Spirituality that makes no demands and gives no blessings but furthers a notion that the government is “accommodating” religion. This concept will ultimately erase the notion of religious liberty from the cultural memory. In the Kamikaze Kulture, religious liberty will not be necessary, because everybody knows that all ways lead to the same god who loves everybody and hands out Kool-Aid and cookies to all.

Running in powerful contradiction to the Kamikaze Kulture promoted by secular thinkers is the teaching of Christ, the second person of the triune God worshiped and served by Christians. Jesus, 100% God and 100% human, came to earth for the salvation of all humankind, but he is not one of the ways to God; he is the only way to God. In Christ’s teaching, people who live in relationship with him live in the context of eternal life while they are alive in time and space. Consequently their loyalty to Christ transcends their loyalty to any other being. They cannot give any “respect” to any other god, nor can they allow any human power to usurp their obedience to God. (They love and respect adherents of other gods, but they give no respect or honor to the other gods.) Christians love and serve their neighbors in complete obedience to the one true God revealed for our salvation in Jesus Christ, who now indwells every Christian in the powerful person of the Holy Spirit. This relationship does not permit mixed loyalties. It does not permit accommodation of lies or worship of any being except the one true God. The Bible is the revealed Word of God, given by God himself to his people as their guide for faith and life. A Christian obeys government and its laws, because God commands submission to and prayer for government, but when government attempts to usurp God’s place by making laws contradictory to God’s law, submission to God transcends the responsibility to submit to government.

There are people who self-identify as Christians who accept and promote that Kamikaze Kulture along with secular thinkers. These “Kamikaze Kristians” say that Christ is one of many good people who show us all how to live. They say that God is one of many ways to understand the same great god over the universe who loves everyone and wants people to be nice to each other. Kamikaze Kristians say that the Bible is a lovely but dusty old sacred book with some great poetry and exciting stories, but in their version of Kristianity, the Bible is no more special than the Baghavad Gita or The Sayings of Chairman Mao.

Christians who believe that Christian faith is exclusive, consuming, and pre-emptive are pitted not only against a government that wants religion to be neutered, but also against self-identified Christians who claim Christ’s name while working non-stop to dissolve him and his teachings into the spiritual goo of Kamikaze Kristianity. When someone like Kim Davis says that her faith teaches her not to participate in the sin of the government’s redefinition of marriage, the government that changed its definition of marriage and put her in this position can point to numerous Kamikaze Kristians who agree with the government that Kim Davis should “do her job” or else resign. These individuals claim the name “Christian,” but they don’t believe that the Bible is the final guide for faith and life, as Kim does. These Kamikaze Kristians say God would never be so unfair as to claim Jesus is the only way to him, and in that spirit, they allege that all religions lead to the same place. Kamikaze Kristians adopt the secular notion that humans have evolved past the words of ancient scribes who did not know nearly as much about human sexual relationships as we know today. Such a concept, of course, declares that they do not believe the Bible originated in the heart of God at all. The combination of secular thinking and Kamikaze Kristians results in very powerful forces arrayed against Christians who recognize in the Bible God’s revelation of himself and understand the Bible in the plain meaning of its words.

The precepts of interfaith dialogue similarly work to muddy any honest understanding of Islam and its threat to both Christians and the US government. Kamikaze Islam would be a religion of peace, love and getting along, not a religion of conversion at the point of a sword. Despite the determination of the Kamikaze Kulture to deny the real origins of the USA, historical documents make it clear that the people who founded the nation were people who believed the Bible and lived in relationship to Christ. There were certainly unbelievers in the mix, but the dominant cultural force was exerted by Christians, and their ideas about good government were rooted in their biblical understanding of what people need. They wrote a governing document, the Constitution, that showed respect for people’s right to choose what they believe while asserting government’s God-given authority to preserve peace and good order. Secular thinkers fail to notice that respect for a person’s right to choose and live by his own faith is a principle of biblical teaching, and they don’t see this right as the blessing of liberty; secular thinkers pretend to see Kim Davis abusing religious liberty, because in their view she is using religious liberty as the power to force her views on others. They do not see that protection of the “free exercise” of her faith protects her right to do what her faith compels her to do.

No governing document before the Constitution had ever expressed so powerfully the respect God shows for the right of the human beings he creates to choose what to believe and what principles to live by. The Constitution built a strong structure on the foundation of the rights documented in the Declaration of Independence. Neither the Declaration nor the Constitution tried to say that the writers of the documents were granting those rights; both of those documents relied on God as the source of those rights. The Constitution was always intended to establish a government as powerful as it needed to be for the areas in which it functioned while restraining that government to the smallest possible size to cover only the authority granted to it. That model set up an environment in which liberty, religious and otherwise was protected, the states could work together as necessary for promotion of internal and external commerce and the people could be protected from threats to the whole body of the states.

That model was designed by Christians inspired to limit people’s freedom only as much as absolutely necessary for the good of the states. They looked at the possibility that less freedom might mean more security. People whose ancestors had come to a wilderness along the Atlantic with no safety net whatsoever chose to come down on the side of more freedom, not less, believing that citizens would value the freedom and accept its risks gladly rather than live under tyranny. Contemporary secular thinkers apparently prefer tyranny, where nobody could be allowed to speak of or live by his religion, where nobody is allowed to choose his neighbors, where nobody is allowed to read all the research on any topic and decide for himself the way forward.

In the Constitutional model, religion was not regarded as the aberration of the ignorant, one aberration being no more desirable than another. The Constitution’s writers viewed religious faith as the source of a moral compass the culture needed. They encouraged people to inject moral and ethical questions into public discourse. They would be appalled at a debate among candidates for the powerful office of President of the United States that focused on questions such as, “Person A said this about you yesterday. What is your response?” They would have expected the questions in the debate to cover fiscal responsibility, commitment to federalism, and defense against international aggression. The Framers would have expected questions about the morality of the nation’s involvement in or withdrawal from the disintegration of the Middle East. They would have expected a candidate to be clear about his moral values and their source.

The Constitution’s model has now been abandoned in the interest of reducing every religion to a muddled flavor component of the Kamikaze blend of all religions as viewed by secular thinkers. Since even Kamikaze Kristians want people to keep their religion to themselves. the idea that anyone would reject the redefinition of marriage on moral grounds rooted in religious teaching is anathema. Kim Davis is not only on the wrong side of history in her moral views, but in their eyes, her words and deeds are an affront to all citizens, because in the view of secularists, nobody wants to hear anyone speak of religion in public, and certainly not in public office. If reporters in Lincoln’s day had operated by the same worldview as reporters today, we would not likely even know the words of many of Lincoln’s speeches, seasoned as they were with his faith convictions.

In today’s culture wars, someone who claims to be a Christian has a choice: be a Kamikaze Kristian and blend in, or be a faithful follower of Christ and stand out. It is actually the very same choice Joshua gave the people at Shechem at the end of his life. Israel had invaded a country where there were wide varieties of local gods and a few gods that were more broadly worshiped. Despite forty years of wandering in the wilderness where Moses and Aaron taught the people how to worship the God who provided blessing, security and provision for them every day, there were still Israelites who worshiped the Egyptian gods and even the ancient gods of the land Abraham had left behind. Israelites who trusted God to lead them to triumph over the political and religious power in Canaan faced battles not dissimilar to the culture wars in the US today.

Joshua called the tribes to meet at Schechem where the distribution of the land among the tribes was recorded. It is an interesting choice of location, because Schechem is the first location in Canaan where Abraham is recorded to have stopped and built an altar to the Lord. There, the Lord confirmed to Abraham that he had arrived at the land promised in Genesis 12:1, “the land that I will show you.”

Joshua gathered the tribes to this same place–Schechem. After documenting the final division of land among the tribes, Joshua stepped down from leadership in order to go to a place he would call home where he would conquer his assigned parcel and live in peace. Before he left, he made an important speech, and he said, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

It is much easier to be a Kamikaze Kristian than to be a faithful follower of Jesus. The culture will always tell you what to do, what to say, and what to think if you choose the route of blending in. You can throw your colorful, unique flavor as a disciple of the living Christ into the muck of all the religions of the world and become anonymous in the mix if that is your choice. I don’t recommend it. When Jesus revealed himself to the apostle John, a vision John recorded in the book of Revelation, the dominant message of that whole vision was to Christians who might be tempted to quit making such a big deal of their beliefs. Jesus had a message for people tempted to blend into the sludge. Jesus spoke to Christians who might be tired of the insults every time they encouraged women to choose life rather than abortion. Jesus spoke to county officials who might be tempted to go along to get along since the federal government had declared an ungodly union to be a legal marriage. Jesus spoke to senators and representatives who would be bludgeoned for conducting hearings to reveal the truth about public officials who had lost their integrity. Jesus spoke to teachers who would be threatened with loss of their jobs if they allowed children to see a Bible on their desks. All these people and many more are tempted, pressured, battered daily to stop trying to “force their religion on other people” when they simply try to live their faith with integrity.

Jesus said, “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life” (Revelation 3:5). “Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Revelation 3:11). “The  one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21). Don’t let go of Jesus. Be the real thing. Trust Christ. Believe his revelation in the Bible. Live in faithful relationship with him and be strong when the Kamikaze Kulture pressures you to do otherwise. Hold out for the big prizes. Do not become a Kamikaze Kristian.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the winter 2016

Why do Secular Thinkers feel so Guilty?

Secularists have been known to complain that Christians obsess about sin. They even complain that Christians tell children that they are sinful. Secular thinkers allege to believe that babies are pure and innocent when they are born, incapable of sin, incapable of desiring to sin. These are the same babies that secular thinkers claim have no rights, no personhood, not even the right to be called babies if they have not yet exited the womb. Furthermore, secular thinkers who refuse to give credence even to the concept of sin willfully execute those babies if the mother so chooses. The people who advocate for this method of managing pregnancy when it turns out to be inconvenient become violently angry when people who believe that a baby has a right to life offer to pray with or counsel with women approaching abortion clinics where they can have their babies killed on demand. Secularists say that abortion is not sin, and no woman should feel guilty for cleansing her womb of a parasite.

Secular thinkers engage in numerous behaviors that Christians consider to be sin, and Christians expect people to feel guilty if they engage in such behavior, but secular thinkers claim not to suffer any qualms about these behaviors.

For example, secular thinkers are advocating nationwide for the right for adults to die. It isn’t enough that they work very hard to protect the right to kill an unborn baby; they want born babies that live to adulthood to be free to kill themselves. That is what “right to die” means. In a few US states, legislation to this effect has been passed, and there are foreign countries where it is authorized as well. Adults claim to be in terminal depression, for example, or perhaps they have learned they are suffering from an incurable disease. The laws vary widely in terms of the rules for authorization of the “right to die,” but one and all they result in suicide. It is highly incongruous that secular thinkers want some people put on a “suicide watch” out of fear that those people will harm themselves, while others are put on the “right to die” watch, because they have legally declared that they will absolutely harm themselves.

It must be mentioned here that more than one doctor in various places around the world has declared that parents ought not to be expected to keep a child that is less than desirable, and they should not need to justify their lack of desire for the child. A surgeon in England said he could see no problem with parents trying out a child for six months and then ending the child’s life if the child were a nuisance, or ugly, or sickly, or just a pain. Other spokesmen have suggested a longer trial, and one is led to wonder when it will be determined that parents have the right to get rid of unwanted children of any age.

That would close the final gap in death coverage. That would mean that in the secular mind, from the moment of conception, through the time of birth, and all the way to the moment of legal adulthood, a parent has the right to execute any unwanted child. From the moment of adulthood onward, an adult has the right to kill himself (or herself) for a variety of reasons. As everyone knows, legal language is extremely malleable, and as long as the right to die is acknowledged as a universal human right, it should be very easy to justify the decision and make the whole process quite painless.

Is it any wonder that secular thinkers all suffer from endless guilt? Yes, they do. Nobody suffers as much guilt as secular thinkers.

Obviously, no human being could go around advocating a culture of death without suffering immense guilt. Every living being does one thing more energetically than anything else: defend its own life. Even though secular thinkers contend that a human being is nothing more than a highly organized biochemical machine, one wonders why a machine feels guilty when it causes the death of another human being. In fact, secularists rise to the occasion when someone sets off a bomb at race or blazes away with a gun in a prayer meeting. Why are they so outraged? In another moment, all those people might have declared that they no longer wanted to live anyway. This statement sounds crass to sane people, but when you set it alongside the right to abortion on demand, as long as the being to be aborted is under the legal age of contract, and the right to die for whatever reason, as long as the being to be killed is over the legal age of contract, then it sounds like nothing more than a simple, routine, legal process. Fill out the forms. Sign the papers. Terminate the protoplasm.

Secular thinkers desperately need some way to cover up the culture of death that they advocate. This is why they are busy saving the planet from global warming and species extinction. They have very little fodder for the graphs they use so religiously to tell them that human beings are burning up the planet. They cannot actually prove that anything has gone extinct. The discovery of coelacanths in the ocean, millennia after they were declared to have been extinct, completely abolishes the credibility of environmental campaigns to save tigers, elephants and snail darters from the supposed depredations of human beings. We now know that key scientists have doctored the data that supposedly proves global warming, and we don’t need to be told that data from a single petrified tree in Siberia cannot possibly prove global climate warming. These frauds puncture the balloon filled with allegations of humankind’s responsibility for climate change in any direction whatsoever. Secularists suffer from a hovering, smothering guilt that cannot be assuaged by simple argument or positive thinking. Secularists are suffocated by perceived expectations that they do something! Anything! Save the planet!

One way secularists celebrate life is by advocating that when two men marry and want children, all the stops should be pulled out in order to create a person they can claim as their child. This is one way that they claim to celebrate life.

They also celebrate life when a little girl of five declares that she has discovered she is really a boy. People get to be whatever gender comes to mind. There was a time when two genders covered everything. No longer. Now we need fifty genders for people who are experimenting and inventing and flipping back and forth among the variations. Secular thinkers know this way of thinking is ridiculous, uncomical, outrageous, and they feel guilty about playing with something so fundamental to our happiness and well-being as human beings.

How do we know that they feel guilty? Because they worry about every little thing more than they worry about something people want and need as much as they want and need life: liberty. Secular thinkers cannot allow anyone to have liberty any longer, because if people have liberty, they might say things other people do not want to hear. Things such as: “That is not true!” Things such as “God loves you.” Things such as, “Don’t try to make up some way to be offended. Nobody has done anything to you.”

Several months ago, I saw a statement online that declared that the right to exercise personal faith and the right to speak freely without being arrested were special privileges granted to citizens by the government. This is another problem secularists have. Because they do not acknowledge that God exists, they can hardly acknowledge that he grants liberty to human beings from the moment of conception. Yet the people who wrote the Constitution knew that God gave people life and liberty. The authors of the Constitution knew that God allowed people the freedom to choose the God they would serve. Those men knew that God gave people the freedom to speak and have opinions on everything. When they wrote the Constitution, they declared that the new government in North America would protect the rights God had already given to people rather than making a concerted effort to suppress or remove those rights.

Secular thinkers believe that those rights are gifts of the government, and they believe that the government has the right to restrict the boundaries of those rights. People have the right to speak–as long as they don’t say anything that offends the government. People have the right to exercise their religion–as long as the people don’t think their God is more important than government.

Secular thinkers are always on a guilt trip of some sort. They want people to feel guilty for saying things. They want citizens to feel guilty for thinking God’s will is more important than the government’s will. They see babies dying or worse, being dismembered for research while still alive, and they want the people who try to stop it to feel guilty for being at war with women. It is a terrible burden to be a secular thinker.

There is an answer to this guilt. The apostle Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Romans. Ancient Rome was a place where a secular thinker might feel right at home. Despite the so-called national religion, most Romans were very skeptical of both religion and politics. The ancient Romans suffered from just as much guilt as contemporary secular thinkers. Paul wrote to them with a message of hope. He said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 ESV) Paul was writing about the guilt the Roman Christians suffered. In fact, he told them that they could have “peace with God through [the] Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1 ESV) He even said, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10 ESV). The beautiful thing about this letter is that the news Paul sent to the Romans is just as fresh and true today. God, the God whom secular thinkers reject, does not reject them. Instead, he reaches out for them with loving arms, ready to wrap them in the love that cleanses and forgives all the guilty pains they suffer. In this letter, Paul wrote that not only does God take away the horror of all that guilt, but God also receives secular thinkers with love that can never be taken away. They worry that all the animals and plants are about to die off. They worry that the earth is about to burn up. Paul promises them what Paul promised to the Romans: “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV) Even if the plants wither, the animals die and the globe melts, they are safe in Christ’s love.

In the meantime, they have life with him both now and hereafter.

Secular thinkers can get rid of the guilt. They can stop trying to be the wrath of the god they don’t acknowledge to people who are guilty of a slip of the tongue or of the crime of thinking there are two genders. Secular thinkers can shrug off the weighty responsibility to be the world’s police–for speech, water use, and air quality. Christ will set them free to do the good works and great accomplishments for which they were created, and he will carry them guilt-free into eternity.

Secular thinkers really do not need to be so weighed down with guilt.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World to be released during winter, 2016. 

Speaking of Morality

Speaking of Morality

If you enrolled in a class with the title, “English Grammatical Issues in the Twenty-first Century,” you would expect to discuss the fine points of English grammar at the cutting edge of decision-making. You would assume that no time would be spent memorizing parts of speech, because knowing those basic elements of the language would be the barest foundation for discussing the way the language is changing daily. You would likely expect the teacher to promote discussion of the reasons to embrace or reject changes that litter the landscape of daily usage in conversation. You probably would not find it odd if you and your teacher had differences about the way certain changes ought to be handled now and in the future. By leaping into the fray between those who tie themselves in knots trying to avoid using the masculine pronoun when gender is indefinite and those who simply fall into the usage of third person plural for everything, you know that you are in a conversation where people disagree. Yet you would expect to have the conversation and to include every possible nuance of difference over the issue.

A dispute over the right grammatical solution to a cultural problem can be contentious, but even those who advocate that real grammarians ignore the nonsensical attitude of the culture will recognize that the discussion does have more than one side. It would be shocking if a college professor shut down the discussion of one side in order not to offend the advocates for the other side.

Recently, a student enrolled in a class titled “Theory of Ethics,” where he fully expected that classroom discussion would often involve at least two points of view, perhaps more. However, he was completely baffled when the subject of gay rights came up, and the teacher chose not to discuss that subject. The discussion centered on the application of philosophical theories to modern political controversies. At the beginning of the discussion, there was a list of modern controversies on the blackboard: gay rights, gun rights, and the death penalty. The student reported that after discussing gun rights and the death penalty, the teacher erased “gay rights” from the blackboard and said, “We all agree on this.”

The student was disturbed about the refusal to discuss gay rights, and after class, he asked the teacher why she refused to open that discussion. When she responded with her point of view, he explained why he disagreed. Then she asked him if he knew of any homosexuals in the class. This question is ridiculous, because it implies that it makes sense for the student to know such a thing about the people in a group around him. The student did not know one way or the other. At this point, the teacher proceeded to explain that she did not think it was proper to discuss gay rights in the class, because someone in the class might be homosexual and take offense at some points of view. The student was dumbfounded. This teacher asserted that in a college level class on the subject of ethics, it was inappropriate to discuss the various points of view surrounding the contemporary issue of gay rights, because it was possible that someone in the class would be offended by the views that might be expressed in such a discussion.

The student attempted to assert a right as a citizen to hold an opinion in opposition to the opinion of other citizens. The teacher said, “You can have whatever opinions you want but I will tell you right now – in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments will not be tolerated,” she said. ‘If you don’t like it, you are more than free to drop this class.” In those words, the teacher asserted that the expression of an opinion in opposition to gay marriage or gay adoption or anything else that is on the agenda of LGBTQ activism constitutes a homophobic comment.

People who express themselves on the subject of homosexuality are frequently called “homophobes.” Even pastors who claim to be Christian have been known to use that word when referring to people who understand the Bible to teach that homosexual behavior is sin. Still, it is shocking to discover that a college professor will not permit discussion of one of the thorny issues of contemporary culture in a class whose title invites exactly that discussion.

It is important to note here that the student who had every right to express his view in the cultural conversation about gay rights did something execrable. He recorded the conversation without telling the professor what he was doing. The student was upset, and he must have suspected what the teacher would say. He apparently turned on his phone as he approached the teacher but did not tell her what he was doing. It does not speak well of the character of someone who would do such a thing. We all feel rightly outraged when we hear that somebody could be spying on our phone conversations or our reading our emails without permission. Likewise, we all feel that we have a right to keep private conversations private. It is not hard to imagine why the student felt that he wanted a record of this conversation, but his concerns do not justify his duplicity. Readers who might have believed he was on the moral high ground in standing strong for biblical teaching about homosexuality will be disturbed and disappointed to read that he made a secret recording of the conversation.

This situation points up the truth that honor and integrity are tough standards. It is hard for any of us to do the right thing in every case. Sometimes we truly cannot sort out the conflicting issues and see what is right. In other cases, we talk ourselves into believing that the wrong we face justifies the wrong we do in self-defense. Nobody can read this student’s mind or search his heart, but he has tainted his testimony for Christ by doing something that demonstrates a lack of integrity. The old saying, “Two wrongs do not make a right,” applies here. It was wrong for the professor to refuse to discuss the ethical issue of gay rights over a fear that someone in the class would be offended, but it was equally wrong for the student to record the conversation without telling the teacher what he was doing.

Some who read this post will wonder why I make such a big deal of the recording. I make a big deal of it, because it plays into the hands of LGBTQ activism for a Christian who takes a moral stand against their agenda to do something that is also immoral, not to mention illegal. It is very hard to be a Christian in today’s culture. The secular view of Christians is that they are harmless when they are inside their worship buildings reading their dusty old Bible and singing stodgy hymns to their imaginary friend in the sky. Secularists do not care what Christians do inside their buildings. It is when we come outside and act on our rights and responsibilities as citizens to speak for high moral standards that the LGBTQ activists take umbrage. That is the place where we must be light and salt as Jesus taught us, and when someone does something such as secretly recording a private conversation, then we undercut our standing to speak of morality.

The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had high regard for the value of religious teaching in a society. In their view, the church was a valuable force in the culture for morality and integrity. They wanted the church to speak and act in the civic debate over any and all issues. In fact, by forbidding the existence of a state church, they hoped to avoid the inevitable pollution of the church’s moral standing by political involvement. They wanted citizens to bring the moral substance of their religious teaching with them into public life to add weight and perspective to civil debate.

If Christians could give their testimonies without the weight of sinful human nature constantly at work in their lives, then it would be simpler. This situation with the student is a real example of the complications that arise when sinful human nature acts with the context of very real outrage at the behavior of a college professor, one person in our culture whom we all expect to uphold the value of free and open discussion. The college professor’s attitude is suspect. The student’s behavior is suspect. It is hard to make a clear statement on the moral issues active in the story. It would certainly be a simpler matter if the student had not complicated the discussion by introducing a distracting issue.

Christians must be vigilant with themselves. Christians who want to participate in the public dialogue on complex social issues must not complicate the discussion by bringing personal baggage into the mix. Christians who want to be leaders in the social discussions must not muddy the waters by introducing issues that give their opponents justification for outrage of their own.

It is a call to a high standard, but then Christ calls Christians to a high standard: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 None of us ever will be that perfect, of course. We can only presume to speak a testimony if our testimony confesses our need for grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, when we make choices in our lives, we must keep in mind that we have a high calling always to testify to the truth as revealed in Christ, and our behavior must not blemish that testimony or give occasion to anyone to ignore the truth of our words. We are called by God to these discussions. We must respect that calling by living lives of integrity that add weight to our comments rather than distract people from God’s truth.

Equality Might Not Mean What You Think

Image Courtesy of Stuart Mileshttp://www.freedigitalphotos.net
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

One of the magical qualities of a word is its ability to defy definitions. The world is full of dictionaries, and we use those dictionaries to help us understand words. Yet no dictionary ever quite captures every nuance of the meaning of a word. The magnificent human mind exceeds the ability of words to transmit our richest meanings. Dictionaries help us, and we constantly tweak the dictionaries to assure that they get closer to the truth. Yet the meaning of a single word in human speech in any language is never exactly what we think it is.

Take equality, for example.

That word has a storied past, rich in service for the good of mankind. Yet, as soon as you read the word mankind in my sentence, many of you will flinch at the gender implications of the word and wonder if I am insensitive or simply ignorant. Women around the world have fought for gender equality, yet I, a woman, use the word mankind to speak of all human beings! The uproar surrounding the use of the word mankind is precisely the sort of uproar that surrounds the use of the word equality, yet those who protest its misuse and abuse are rarely heard above the cacophony of campaigns and agendas to achieve equality according to a definition that has been severely warped.

The word equality used in mathematics has an undisputed meaning. For example: 2+2=4 because mathematically speaking, no other answer is possible. Equations use symbols for mathematical concepts and measurements, and an equation states an equality that can be verified in the physical world: E=mc2. Mathematical equalities are truly equal to the last decimal point. Using such equalities allows architects to design skyscrapers that do not fall down, rocket scientists to put men on the moon, and homemakers to bake angel food cakes. There is no dispute about what equality means in mathematics.

Not so in the world of political and social justice. In these realms, which have merged into a single bitter stew in recent years, the meaning of the word equality depends entirely on the usage of the speaker or writer. It is not at all uncommon to hear an argument in which two people use the word equality with equal fervency to mean two completely different things.

Why do Christians care? We care, because each of us lives in that bitter stew every day. The social and political changes being proposed and even wrought in the name of equality blindside us daily. We must be prepared to address these issues, because the changes affect our lives in profound ways. The agendas which use the word equality to advance their causes are changing the face of our culture in ways most of us could not have imagined as recently as June of 2008.

Less than two weeks ago, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear two cases that will include a great deal of rhetoric using the word equality. One case looks at the federal Defense of Marriage Act, while the other examines a state act, California’s Proposition 8. Both cases center on the meaning of the word marriage, but the thrust of the arguments will likely be that both acts breach the concept of equality before the law.

This post will not address the issues of defining the word marriage, but the use of the term equality has been the most subtle part of the campaign to lead our culture to accept the idea that two people of the same gender can marry. The term equality coupled with the word marriage has slipped under the radar of a lot of people. Gay marriage may sound offensive to some ears, but who can argue with the idea of marriage equality? The use of this term implies that the definition of marriage is not the issue. The campaign to legitimize the concept that a union of two people of the same gender is a marriage has leaped over the definition of marriage altogether and seized upon something almost everyone admires – equality. Even religious leaders who might have previously choked at the idea of a wedding of two men or two women have swallowed the idea of marriage equality.

The deep basis for using the term equality yoked with the word marriage is to lead the argument down the path of civil rights. In this context, the word equality is used to invoke the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It seizes upon the phrase “equal protection of the laws” as a basis for arguing that homosexuals are being denied “equal protection of the laws.” (The argument for “equal protection” also requires acceptance of an unfounded assertion that science has proved that homosexuality is congenital rather than a choice. This post does not encompass the refutation of that argument, but this writer rejects the hypotheses offered in lieu of actual proof.) This argument only has meaning if the definition of marriage has been changed. No such change has taken place, but by focusing on equality, the whole argument assumes a common agreement on the definition of marriage. If the proposition of equality is agreed upon, the definition of marriage is transformed as the inevitable consequence of equality.

In the realm of Christian faith, the word equality likewise sidesteps the issue of the Bible’s teachings about marriage and sexuality. Before the throne of God we are all equally sinful. What made homosexuals more sinful than anyone else? Those who willingly accept speculation in place of real science will assert that if homosexuality is congenital, then God created some people homosexual and some people left-handed. If that is true, then Christians who reject homosexuality and homosexual unions, are judging God’s own handiwork and marginalizing people who are simply different. Proponents of marriage equality ask, did God really say that homosexuality was wrong? (Do you hear Satan in the Garden of Eden whispering to Eve, “Did God say …?”) Some Christians actually believe that humans have learned so much about science and human relationships that they have outgrown the Bible. In the name of marriage equality they absorb contemporary social and political agendas and assert that we must not discriminate against homosexuals who want to marry like everybody else. God loves homosexuals, too.

Of course he does. He loved the thief on the cross. He loves murderers on death row. We are, indeed all equally sinful in his eyes. We are all saved by grace through Christ. But this salvation does not justify theft, murder, or perversion of God’s highest institutions. The biblical teaching that marriage is a time/space copy of the eternal/infinite relationship between God and his church cannot be simply ignored by redefining our universal unrighteousness before God.

Satan must be very happy about this. Satan is always pleased when human beings believe any lie. The lie that our equality before God as sinners one and all means that God blesses and honors a form of union that he universally rejects throughout the Bible is hard to accept. Can we really believe that Scripture is our divinely inspired source for guidance in all areas of faith and life and still believe that God just made a mistake when he proscribed homosexuality. Did God think ancient writers and readers could not handle the truth? Or worse, do we believe he merely failed to give us a complete revelation? Did God simply mess up?

Equality is a wonderful thing, but just like the gift of sexuality, it can be perverted. Every Christian must engage in the disciplines that nourish a mature faith and pray for deep discernment in order to see the many ways Satan daily contrives to deceive us about the truth. The deceptive manipulation of the meaning of the word equality is only one example.