Tag Archives: social activism

Christians Can Officially Stop Worrying About Gay Marriage

When the Supreme Court’s decision in the case referred to as Obergfell was published, confessing Christians were outraged. Conservative voters were outraged, too. There were even people who might otherwise have been classified as progressive or neutral or independent who also objected. American citizens objected for various reasons, most of which centered on the consequences they feared. A ruling that created a whole new definition of marriage upset many people.

One of the reasons people objected to the use of the word marriage for a union of two people of the same sex is that the human race has never before defined marriage that way. No matter how primitive a culture is, the union of two people of the same gender has never before been called a marriage. Archeological and anthropological studies reveal that every human culture to date has relied on a marriage bond between a man and a woman as a pillar of the society. It makes sense; only that union can produce children, and most cultures did not want to go the way of the Shakers. There has never been any evidence of any past culture where the union of two people of the same gender was called marriage. Redefining the word marriage completely redefines human culture.

Of course, everyone who objects to such a transformative redefinition of the culture expects that there will be consequences. Some have predicted that there would be revolution, actual mortal combat, perhaps as violent as the one in 1776. Others have suggested that the country would be divided again, with some states seceding from a union that allows such a dramatic redefinition of marriage and human culture.

Some have also predicted that a culture that allowed same-sex unions to be considered equivalent to the marriage of two people of opposite sexes would immediately legitimize pedophilia. In their eyes, the destruction of any moral pillar might be considered to delegitimize all the others. Some people proclaimed that God would punish a nation that legitimized the whole notion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Some even predicted that that a culture which allowed a same-sex union to be called a marriage would ultimately outlaw all religious behavior. The advocates of same-sex marriage currently enjoy themselves by making fun of such predictions and scoffing at the very idea. They particularly enjoy belittling Christians who trust biblical teaching and try to live by it. The Bible does not equivocate on the subject of homosexuality; in the Bible, such behavior is a sin.

It is fairly easy to see that so far, there has been no revolutionary war,  and no states have seceded. Yet even if one crosses revolution and secession off the list of the consequences of Obergfell, there actually do appear to be consequences. If one allows the full scope of all various definitions of the word revolution, then it begins to appear that there is, indeed, a revolution and that a country utterly unlike the United States of America is being created by this revolution.
Start with the idea that pedophilia will be normalized and legitimized. While the support for such behavior is far from being widespread in the country, the Obergfell decision makes it easier for people to advocate any sexual perversion whatsoever. If one deviant sexual behavior is suddenly declared to be normal, on what basis is any other sexual behavior considered to be deviant? If one deviant behavior can be legitimized as a cure for loneliness, then what others can be excluded? Where is the standard by which sexual behavior is evaluated? Who gets to say what is normal and what is abnormal? On what basis do you tell anyone that sexual behavior of any kind between any two people, or even between people and animals, is abnormal? Deviant? Perverted? When the standards fall, then it becomes difficult to tell pedophiles that they are sick and need help.

As for the prediction that  God will mete out punishment, people who doubt God’s existence certainly would not recognize or acknowledge God’s punishment even if they saw it with their own eyes, yet these are the people who presume to tell us that God is not punishing homosexual behavior, same-sex couples who marry, or anything else, for that matter. Since God does not always make public announcements of his punishments or “sign” his work, it is pretty silly for these people to declare that God is not punishing anyone. How would they know? If they saw it, would they acknowledge it?

As for the prophecy that as a consequence of gay marriage, the nation would outlaw religious belief, the fact is that animosity toward people of faith, no matter what faith they hold, is at an all-time high for the USA. Obergfell may not be solely responsible for this state of affairs, but it is certainly part of the climate that energizes such an attitude. A chaplain for veterans is told that even he may not give a patient in a VA hospital a Bible. A school administrator is told that there will be no praying during commencement exercises at graduation. A football player is publicly maligned for kneeling in a prayer of thanks after he makes a fabulous play. Employees of a restaurant are told not to say, “Merry Christmas” even if customers say those words to them. Children in the school lunch room are reprimanded by teachers if they pray over their food. Recipients of federal grants are informed that they may not use grant money to fund “inherently religious activities,” such as “worship,” “religious education,” or “proselytizing.” Since all the terms presented in quotation marks are subject to a wide variety of definitions, depending on who creates the definitions, the scope of forbidden activity is quite uncertain and subject to a great deal of dispute. Suppression of and scorn for words and deeds consistent with a life lived in submission to God and his authority is becoming common. Obergfell is certainly part of the social climate that is leading many people to declare that people who live according to biblical teachings are extreme.

For example, when Indiana tried to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, social activists declared that to allow a Christian the religious liberty to refuse business that conflicts with his Christian principles is to allow the Christian to discriminate while pretending to be a faithful Christian. People who are not Christians declare that a Christian baker is obligated by US law to bake a cake and prepare it to be served at a wedding of two people of the same gender, no matter what his religious convictions are.

People who are not Christians declare that no Christian principle that conflicts with the objectives of their social advocacy can be permitted, because to permit it is to permit discrimination; this is another example of a term whose definition is being changed in such a way as to limit the exercise of Christian faith. Those who interpret the “free exercise” clause as a notion that encourages discrimination believe that they must suppress religious liberty in order to allow progressive social goals to evolve. Social activists reject the most clear meaning of the First Amendment, which recognizes that Christians submit to God as a higher authority than the social goals of society.  Obergfell is just one example of a way in which the culture suppresses religious liberty, but the same court that issued Obergfell is unlikely to issue any future rulings that strike it down or lessen its impact. In the Obergfell decision, social activists have found a weapon to begin to degrade the entire concept of religious liberty, a right granted to human beings by God that encourages human beings to put God ahead of the state. Social activists consider the state to be the source of all rights, and they define rights as privileges granted by the state, not powers invested in human beings at the moment of creation–people who reject the idea that each person is created by God naturally reject God as the source of human rights.

Gay marriage by itself does not cause pedophilia, God’s punishment, or the end of religious liberty. However, the path of social advocacy, culture change and government rulings has been inexorably modified by Obergfell, and it is quite reasonable to assume that if the nation as a whole chooses to do things and promote behaviors that God forbids, he will allow or perhaps orchestrate consequences that people will not think are pleasant. The book of Revelation speaks metaphorically, but the metaphor tells us that when God begins to react to what people do, people will hate and fear his actions so much that they would prefer burial under a rockslide to living in the presence of Almighty God.

There are social and political activists who utterly scorn all the statements by Christians who say that our country is sinking deeper and deeper into sinful attitudes and behaviors. They are willing to scorn God, because they utterly scorn the Bible and everything it stands for. As a person who believes that the Bible is God’s Word to human beings, intended to be our guide for faith and life, I believe that while revolution and secession may not happen to our country as a direct consequence of Obergfell, it is completely obvious that pedophilia, God’s punishment, and the suppression of religious liberty is happening already. There is a cultural revolution in place, and many people whose principles collide violently with the momentum of the revolution may very well look for ways to “secede” in some way or other from an immoral, godless culture.

What is the impact of Gay Marriage? The mindset that allows and promotes gay marriage is destroying the culture. Children’s minds are being poisoned by aggressive force-feeding of secularism in schools. Already children 10-20 have been indoctrinated in school to believe that homosexuality is only one of many “normal” variations in sexual behavior. They believe that cohabitation instead of marriage is normal. They believe that marriage is unnecessary. They believe that the government, not the parents, should set the moral climate. These things did not begin with gay marriage, and the moral disintegration does not end with gay marriage.

Those who doubt that God will punish the nation for going along with gay marriage should remember that the Israelites exhibited the same disregard for God that advocates of gay marriage exhibit. As a consequence, the stone on which God’s finger had written his commandments was ground to dust, thrown in the water, and forced down the throats of the Israelites. That story is a metaphor. God’s punishment will fall on the nation that flouts the law of God. Christians who are obedient to God can stop worrying about the consequences of same-sex marriage, but those who advocate and promote it still have a lot to worry about.

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Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

I am tired of it!

What am I tired of? I am tired of being told that I must repent, because people in my ancestry, even people who were not in my ancestry, engaged in behaviors and lifestyles of which I have never been part. The people at fault were white, or Christian, or lived in stable homes or enjoyed a moderate but reliable income. Or they owned slaves in the southern tier of states in the USA.

I have never owned slaves.

I have never insulted a person whose skin was a different color from mine.

I have never tortured anyone.

I have never held a child in bondage.

I have never pushed past anyone in line.

I have never belittled people of other ethnic origins than my own.

I have never lied or used special influence to obtain a job.

I can think of so many things that I never did, things for which I have no responsibility and no culpability, things which I abhor today, which I have always abhorred, which I always will abhor, for which somebody wants me to confess and apologize, repent and apologize. I am a truly sinful human being, enslaved by my sinful human nature and the deliberate work of Satan to lead me into ever greater sin, but I am not guilty of these social crimes for which many social activists and many marshmallow Christians demand that I confess, repent, apologize and do penance.

What if I were the descendant of a slave? What can it possibly mean for someone who never hurt me to apologize for his ancestors hurting my ancestors? What is the point? Why do I care? I might be comforted to hear that this person thinks those things were wrong and should not have been done, but why should I hold this person responsible for something he did not do, and furthermore, the person who did this terrible thing did not do it to me, but rather to people long dead? Of what benefit is his statement? Why would I even bring it up? The only reason for such an attitude would be to enjoy a power trip to put someone in “his place.” Such an attitude says that I don’t really want an apology; I want revenge, even though the person against whom I want revenge is dead. I want his descendants and the descendants of his descendants to pay for wrongs done to people of whom I am the descendant of descendants.

It is time for this stuff to stop. When Jesus taught us to pray, he included this petition: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

He did not say, “Be sure that you hold people responsible because their ancestors hurt your great-great-grandmother whom you have never even met.” Blaise Pascal wrote about a culture in his day that contorted logic and biblical teaching in such a way as to promote the quest for vengeance, and it appears that many social activists today have absorbed the very concepts he deplored. There is no justification for the constant focus taking offense. It is time for us to stop taking offense and start learning to love our neighbors and act like adults. It is time for us to stop trying to get revenge for ancient wrongs through surrogates for both the offender and the offended.

In the eyes of Jesus, even if I were a current slaveowner and you were the slave, it would be your responsibility to forgive me and to pray for my blessing. In the eyes of Jesus, the wronged person is the one who has an assignment. He showed us how that works by praying forgiveness for those who were nailing him to a cross.

As for me, if I were a current slaveowner, God would be reminding me in my heart every day that I was doing wrong. I might ignore him, but I would be wrong. Under those circumstances, I would owe my slaves an apology, a confession of my sin, and my humble amendment of life by manumitting them and providing them with some means to start living free. If I were a current slaveowner, that is what I ought to do.

I don’t own any slaves.

I have never owned any slaves.

No member of my family as far back as anyone knows ever owned any slaves. To my knowledge, nobody in my family ever even approved of slavery. Every family member I have ever met abhors that idea as much as I do. Therefore, I don’t even have any known ancestor in whose stead I should apologize to the descendant of any slave.

I am sorry that our ancestors were sinful human beings. Every single one of them. Both our black ancestors and our white ancestors, as well as those of any other color, were sinful human beings. They are were human. They all were sinful. And they all did bad things to one another. Some of my ancestors may actually have hurt some of your ancestors, but neither you nor I was there, and we do not need to carry on about it anymore. It isn’t even about forgiveness. I can’t forgive what your ancestors did to my ancestors, but I can let it go and not worry about it. I can learn from the stories and resolve to be a better person than that. The fact that my ancestors and your ancestors did wrong is just a fact about history. They may even have done wrong to one another. It is highly likely that somewhere in the ancient human story one of my ancestors hurt one of yours, and vice versa. It no longer matters. Demanding revenge and apologies and reparations is about ancient wrongs that are over and done with. Jesus teaches us to forgive people who wrong us, and never anywhere does he condone the idea of taking offense at people for things their ancestors may have done to your ancestors.

I am sure that people whose ancestors were slaves in the USA have a lot of pain in their family histories. I grieve with them for that pain. But I do not accept any responsibility for it, because I did not do it. I will not do it. I am not guilty, and I refuse to pretend that I feel guilty.

My mother just might have understood what the uproar is about. My mother married my dad at the age of 18. Her big brother was my dad’s best friend, and her brother brought his best friend home for a visit. One thing led to another, and my mom and dad got married. Then my mom started learning about their family history, and she discovered something that grated on her like a rock in her shoe. She discovered that my dad’s grandfather had once owned an entire section of land, and he lost it during the Great Depression when a bank demanded additional collateral for loan issued prior to the Depression. The papers were signed. The contract was established. Great-grandfather had received the full amount of his loan, and he was making payments as promised. Yet the bank asked for more collateral, and as soon as the papers that increased the collateral were signed, the bank foreclosed.

Anyone who ever dealt with a bank knows that when you take out a loan from a bank, you ask for it, because you need more money than you have, but when you sign the papers and receive your check, buried in the details of the loan agreement is a statement that the bank is not obligated to allow you to make payments until the loan is paid in full. One term of the loan agreement trumps all the others; the bank may require full repayment of the balance due at any time. That requirement is about protecting the bank if its funds fall below its prudent reserves. It is a protection for all the people whose money is protected by the bank, an assurance that when they come to the bank and as for their money, the bank will actually be able to give them their money. That is what banks do, and whether or not my mother liked it, the bank who lent great-grandfather Pollock money had the right at any time to ask for full repayment of the money. If Grandfather did not have the money, he would, and he did, lose his land.

My mother clung to that ancient deed which she considered to be wrong-doing by the bank as if it had been done to her. I lost count of the number of times she told me that story, but there is even more to the telling. She had the perception that if the bank had not “stolen” Great-grandfather Pollock’s land, then my dad and she would have been rich, or at least, richer than they were. Even though her perceptions depended on a distribution of Great-grandfather Pollock’s land that she and she alone imagined, her sense of deprivation was as real as if she had actually known how Great-grandfather Pollock would have distributed land to his heirs, and how those heirs would have distributed what they received. She let her imagination go wild, grieving for the loss of things she never had possessed. She suffered from a desire to avenge herself against all bankers, because of an event which she chose to interpret as deliberate malfeasance, even though nobody else in the family even worried about it. My dad certainly never did, and his father certainly never did. Only my mother worried about the loan and the land and the evil bankers. For everyone else, it was ancient history, or even less than that. It was a nonevent that did not matter to them. I cannot even vouch for the truth of all the elements in my mother’s story, because nobody else ever told that story. Hence, it might even be true that she had the facts all wrong. No matter. She was offended by the evil bankers and their theft of land that might have come to my dad and therefore to her.

Only my mother rehearsed the “might have been” story. I recall an evening when my grandfather laughed upon hearing her version. He said something like, “Who cares now?” I was the only person treated thereafter to numerous, bitter repetitions of the tale of loss. My mother, who did not even know the family at the time of the event, was the only person who suffered anguish over it for some fifty years. She could have saved herself a lot of grief if she could have followed the example of Great-grandfather Pollock’s genetic descendants and let go of her need for compensation for that loss.

I am very sad when I think of all the people who live here in America because their ancestors were slaves in the US. If they were not descendants of slaves brought here against their will, they could all be residents of Nigeria or Congo or Ivory Coast today. They would not need to worry about those ancient wrongs, because they would be living in Africa today, undisturbed and untouched by the liberty and prosperity of the land of the free. Like my mother grieving the loss of something that was never hers in the first place, I think they need to get over their angst and get on with their lives.

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 summer of 2016

Something to Die For

People who eat decadent desserts sometimes sigh, “It’s to die for.” A woman might be shopping for a dress for a wedding or a gala event and find one that she says is “to die for.” Chocolate is such a beloved flavor in large segments of the population that anything dipped in chocolate is supposedly “to die for.”

In today’s culture, however, nobody is actually supposed to die. Continue reading Something to Die For

Stop and Think About the Bible

Torah ScrollLearn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17 NRSV

Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. Hebrews 13:3 NRSV

  • Secular thinkers believe they can figure out what is good by observing what makes them feel good. This means that the good is relative to the person making the choice. Christians teach that the Bible is where we learn what is good. Christians believe that the Bible reveals absolute good. How do you explain to a secular thinker the value of an absolute revealed good?
  • Do you observe oppression in the USA? Who is oppressed?
  • Social and political activists say that it is unfair that more people of color are imprisoned than white people. What do they think determines the rate of imprisonment? What do you think determines the rate of imprisonment? Are people of color routine oppressed because of their color by US society? By the government? What does the writer of Hebrews mean when he says we should show empathy for prisoners? Does this statement justify activism to release prisoners on the basis of skin color? What do you think determines the number and proportions of the prison population?
  • In Muslim countries Christians are frequently arrested for blasphemy. In socialist countries they are arrested for unauthorized worship. In countries with a history of animist religions they are arrested by not participating in rituals that are considered necessary for the prosperity of their communities. What must imprisoned Christians do about these threats? What must US Christians do?
  • These differences also turn on a difference of perception of what is good. What can Christians do to help others understand how we discern what is good?

 

Your Enemy is not a Secular Government; Your Enemy is Satan

That statement sounds like a copout to some people. Of course, Satan is behind all the restrictions and pressure to conform. Sure, he is the one who motivates even people who call themselves Christians to vote for bad leaders and bad laws. That is a real oversimplification of the difficulties we experience just trying to live our faith according the freedom the Constitution protects.

It sounds too simple to be worth thinking about, but it is exactly what we need to think about. If we think that presidents or senators or judges or laws or neighbors or foreigners or unbelievers are the problem, then we will contend with all those people. To focus our efforts on the people enslaved by Satan is like telling an unjustly imprisoned man to fix his problem by breaking out of jail. If we believe that our society will be improved if we win some legal battles or a few elections, then we are doomed to deep disappointment.

It is the elected and appointed leaders who enact and interpret and enforce laws that restrict religious liberty. It is neighbors, friends and fellow employees who make spiteful remarks about religious fanatics and militant bigotry. But these people don’t dream up all these problems by themselves. They are inspired and motivated and pressured by the most powerful evil force in the universe. Without Christ in their lives, they have no hope of resisting that power. Even people who have received Christ may be very weak in their commitment and may still be lured by satanic turns of phrase that sound ever so sophisticated and mature.

The enemy who masterminds cultural shunning and scorn, government restrictions, and outright persecution is Satan. Eve could not withstand his cunning, and people today are just as gullible. If we fight the world only by fighting fellow-citizens in street demonstrations, petition campaigns, legal proceedings, elections or on the floors of legislatures, we will never really win. In every war, there are numerous battles. Usually one side wins some contests, and the other side wins some. The death of an infantryman in a muddy foxhole may be necessary to the cause. Death and destruction mount up over time. Still, the person who must actually be defeated is the mastermind behind all the action. No matter how many men take the field in a given conflict, there are two generals whose decisions set everything in motion, and one of them must surrender or be soundly defeated. Otherwise, winners and losers scurry off with their dead and wounded, clean up, re-provision, and start over somewhere else. This is what happens when Christians engage in the battle for religious liberty without recognizing the real enemy.

The real enemy is Satan, and the only power who can defeat him in time and space is the same power who defeated him for eternity on the cross: Christ our Savior. The battle for religious liberty in the US and countries around the world is not a battle for the power of good in eternity. That battle was won when Jesus died and rose again. The competition today is against evil in the time-space realm. We battle for religious liberty primarily in order that we can rescue all the people imprisoned in the ranks of Satan’s troops. Think about it. We don’t want to be able to speak and live our testimony to Christ in order to make more money or even in order to feel good about ourselves. We do it, because Christ told us to share the good news with everyone. We cannot share the good news with those who need it if there are laws and enforcers in place to forbid us to speak our testimony.

Laws and rules and practices which restrict and constrain our ability to share the good news in word and deed must be overturned and ended, because Christ loves all the people. He loves and desires fellowship with all the people who call him a figment of a wishful imagination. Those laws were enacted by people deceived by Satan’s lies, because Satan does not want those people to follow Christ. Why do you suppose he offered to hand over the kingdoms of the world to Jesus in return for worship? Satan knew that if Christ, God in the flesh, worshiped him in order to get the kingdoms, the people would be following a Jesus who followed Satan. As long as Satan gets the people, he is not picky about who is leading the pack behind him. He will let anyone lead the pack, as long as he leads the leader.

Christians must remember that Paul warned the Ephesians not to be confused about who was their enemy. He said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) This is the description of our enemy as well. Before we sign petitions, plan campaigns, vote in elections, sue in court, write to our legislators and so forth, we need to call on the general of our army, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we need to get our uniforms and weapons from him. He wants us in the trenches and the fray, but he probably thinks we march best on our knees.

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. … And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:13, 18 NIV)