Monthly Archives: May 2014

Pornography is a killer

It isn’t popular to put this out there, but do you know why pornography is offered free on the internet? Quite simply, it is there to create a dependency. Pornography offers something that builds a desire which can unfortunately never be fulfilled. It sets a person on a hedonic treadmill that jettisons ethos and logos, and only is fueled by pathos. It offers an unrealistic depiction of women, and even more devastating—it portrays people as objects to be consumed rather than people to have relationship with. There have been autopsies done on men who were addicted to pornography—do you know what they found? Certain parts of the brain were more developed than in the brains of men who weren’t addicted to pornography.

What does this mean? A chemical and physical change has taken place in the brain. It is just like a weightlifter who builds up his body—the muscles must continue to be stimulated or they will begin to atrophy.  The problem is, with this type of neurological change, it affects the entire brain at the macro level. If a person just stops looking at the pornographic images, they will not only atrophy the parts of the brain that show up in the autopsies, but they will actually undergo neurological distress in other parts of the brain. Simply put, it wouldn’t only affect the parts of the brain that ‘light up’ in the autopsy; but rather, it would affect a myriad of activity. If a world class sprinter quit lifting weights, it is true that his body would start to change—and that he might not be as lean and ripped—but—the thing that would be most debilitating, is that his entire fast twitch musculature would atrophy; leaving his ability to reach top speed quickly greatly devastated.

So—why is pornography free? Well quite simply—if a young man can become addicted to it—and undergo brain change—it is going to take something to the extreme of the healing of a withered hand for him to be able to turn from it. There is so much pornography out there that we cannot hope to end this by only addressing the supply side. We have to address the demand side. While I do believe that an encounter with Christ can radically change lives—even lives addicted to pornography—I think it is certainly easier for us to reach young men before they get addicted. Do you care? Are you willing to speak to a young man about it? We aren’t objects to be consumed. We are people—made in the image of God, who are worthy of relationship.

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Michael Sam, Equality, Justice–and the Gospel

If you have never read the remarkable letter Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail, I urge you to read it. He wrote this letter from memory, with no resources to use. It is incredibly profound. One of the most emotional moments of the letter to me is when he says toward the end of the letter:

 “There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.”

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”

The church is failing in the culture—indeed. We expect the culture to live a certain way—and measure up to a certain standard (God’s standard)—but how can they? They don’t know him. Why would we expect them to be good, if they are incapable of being good? You and I are incapable of it apart from Christ.


 

On Saturday night, the St. Louis Rams selected Michal Sam, a defensive player from The University of Missouri, in the 7th round of the NFL Draft. Not since the Los Angeles Raiders selected Bo Jackson in the 7th round in 1987, has there been as much media hoopla over a late round pick. The selection of Sam had all the pomp and circumstance of Jadeveon Clowney being picked first overall—yet in terms of real football worth, the comparison between Clowney and Sam is light years apart. In fact, you could say that Michael Sam was the most celebrated 7th round pick in all NFL history. Why?

Michael Sam announced to the world February 9th, 2014 that he was a homosexual. Let that sink in. He announced it to the world.

My purpose here isn’t to bash Michael Sam—in fact, I wish him all the best in his football career. My purpose isn’t to bash homosexuals—I truly want to see them be happy. My purpose here is to call out what I see to be a highly partisan effort by the media to enforce their idea of political correctness, virtue, and morality on everyone else. Now don’t think for a minute that they actually care—it’s all about money and ratings.

I was watching a debate between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless and heard something quite interesting. Stephen A. Smith, who identifies as a social liberal made the statement that just because a person may not be against homosexuality, does that mean that they can’t say, “Whoa, I wasn’t expecting to see that on television!” or, “That was a little much?” Does it make a person intolerant if they say, “That was gross!”?

No, No, and No. I agree with Smith.

Bayless, however, went on to pontificate:

“NFL players are going to have to learn to be tolerant. Even if you don’t condone something, you cannot condemn.”

 

Does that strike you as ridiculous? First of all he didn’t make clear if he meant you can’t condemn the person or the action. Tolerance—basically means, “Gross, but I can exist alongside you.” It means, “I find what you are doing DISGUSTING and IMMORAL, but I think you should be able to do that in your bedroom if you want without fear of anyone causing you physical harm for it.” Tolerance always has a negative connotation. If I tolerate something, that means that by definition, there is something about it that I don’t approve of. If I agreed with it, I wouldn’t have to tolerate it!

Consider this: If you invited me to your house for dinner, and your wife slaved in the kitchen and made a meal for us—would it offend you if after the meal I said, “Well now—that food was tolerable?” How about if I told someone at the office, “Spending time with his family was tolerable. I can tolerate them.” This is absurd. We only tolerate things if we disagree with them.

Now, clearly—the word tolerance has been hijacked and made to mean something else. If tolerance is being used here to say, “I wouldn’t do that and even though I disagree with that behavior, I openly celebrate it with you,” I think we are venturing into the absurd. How can I openly celebrate and applaud something that I disagree with? This is not tolerance, in the sense of the actual definition. This new branding of tolerance means that you cannot disagree with anyone.

If I talk to homosexual friends of mine and say, “Short of fully condoning your behavior, what would you accept from me?” Their answer, “There is no position we would accept.” Isn’t this a condemning statement?

This is not my view—but, if someone were to say, “I support marriage for homosexuals, but I would rather their physical showcases of affection stay off ESPN television,” is that intolerant? To me, this is an extremely fair position to take. My position would be, “I don’t support homosexuality, and I don’t support homosexual marriage; but, I do not want the government to infringe on the basic rights of anyone—homosexual or heterosexual.” That is a textbook example of a tolerant position. Crudely, you could say: “I disagree with you violently, but I would never engage you with violence.”

Now—back to the statement, “You may condone, but you can’t condemn.” This is a condemnation itself. If you are told that you can’t condemn, then how can the person saying this make the statement, “You can’t condemn?” Even my precious three year old would say, “Daddy, they aren’t making sense.” In what world is condemning, discerning, judging, or evaluating ideas wrong? To me, it is the framework of freedom of speech. When someone says, “You can’t condemn;” what they are really saying is—“Look, I know you don’t like that behavior, but you aren’t properly enlightened on the subject. Only we who support the ever shifting surface of morality understand what is virtuous and what isn’t. Because you aren’t among this priestly intellectual class, you needed to receive constant reminding and education about what is and isn’t virtuous. You cannot condemn homosexual behavior—precisely because it is virtuous. What isn’t virtuous is your dislike of it.”

It is as if they are saying, “Your ideas are worthless.” We know this cannot be the case though, right? I mean, isn’t everything about ‘equality?’—Look: the liberal man sees all ideas as equal, but views people existing on a system of elitism. Wait, you haven’t heard this? Some people, despite what you have been led to believe, ARE better than others, even though all ideas are the same. Because all ideas are the same—something must be done to ensure that things work out. Solution: demote some people to a lower status level—therefore making necessary a perpetual education by those in the priestly class.


Do you remember when Galileo sent that letter to the Benedictine Benedetto Castelli? He said that the Book of God was inerrant and infallible. He also said that the Book of God’s works (nature) was also inerrant and infallible. He said that while we could all adjudicate the scriptures, only a certain type of intellect could adjudicate the book of God’s works—therefore—placing the scientist and mathematician in a role of priest. It is as if he was saying to the religious population, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” Simply put, you aren’t intellectual enough to enter this conversation—you must defer to us.

This is precisely what has happened here. If you view homosexual behavior as immoral, “You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” What does this imply? It implies a standard to which something is compared (weight), and an intelligent being to adjudicate the data (judge). Today, the left has become both the one who adjudicates the data, and the dictator of the particular epistemological method by which to weigh the ‘rightness’ of any particular issue. They know how the scale works, how to read it, and what the acceptable limits for weight are! They only demand that you fund it.

If you aren’t in the priestly class, you have no say. You are labeled as part of the underclass—not even able to participate in the discussion.

Isn’t it interesting that—to justify their arguments they have to appeal to the very thing they reject? It is as if secular man says, “You are wrong because you hold to an Either/Or position when it comes to moral theory. You hold to a Right/Wrong system.”   They go on to say, “We believe that in adjudicating moral theory, we must use a Both/And system. You can be both this and that—and be virtuous.” Do you see what has been done here? They are saying, “EITHER you use the BOTH/AND…….OR nothing else.” They exercise the Either/Or logic to support their Both/And system. Trust me, even existentially, they use the Either/Or. When they cross the street, it is either the bus or them—not both.


 

On a more serious note, I think it is sad that we find ourselves in the position we are in. It is as if we as a culture have our feet planted in mid-air. Many who hold to this view would also affirm Darwinian Theory as unequivocal fact. Species have developed through a random process of natural selection. Life has emerged because of natural selection and variation. The question I have is, “If we are determined biologically to think the way we do and act the way we do (as Darwinian theory demands),” how can you judge me for holding to a position that I am biologically determined to hold?” If free will is in fact an illusion (as Darwinism points out as well as modern scholars like Professor John Gray), how can you criticize me for holding to my view since I didn’t come to hold it based on any arguments, evidence, or data—but purely because of biological programming?

Do you see what I mean when I say secular man sees all ideas as equal, but people as elite? Ideas, say the Darwinists, enter us through our biological development—we have no choice. If we have no choice, then we have no rational way to adjudicate what is right—because after all, we just hold to them without choosing to hold to them. The way the left gets around this is to say, “Ah…but there is a certain class of people who are elite. Because of this, we will subscribe as a society to their ideas. They determine “right” for the rest of us.”

This is precisely what has happened here.

I think the way we need to deal with this as Christians is very delicate, and difficult.

We need to insist on our view being heard—and do so in a spirit of love. Secondly, we need to show the secular man that there is a difference between who we are and what we do. I am who I am. I am not what I do. Why would anyone want their identity to be framed around their particular sexual proclivity? How much more animalistic can you get. And trust me—none of these folks on the left want to believe that they are no different than a coyote. We are human beings. There is more to us than our sexuality.

I think we also need to understand that it takes time. Do you know that there have been studies done on the deceased brains of homosexual men? Do you know what they found? They found that a certain part of the brain was more developed than is found in heterosexual men. Do you know the same is true for people addicted to pornography? A certain part of the brain is more developed. What does this tell us? It says that if someone has this part of the brain developed, it could take a minimum of 7 years to reverse the growth to that part of the brain. Why do you think pornography is made free on the internet? Once they get young males to look at the pornographic images, the brain begins to grow—soon enough, they will be neurologically addicted to this. Just like any other muscle, it must be stimulated constantly or it will atrophy—in which case they will feel the effects. I say that to say this: Short of God performing a miracle like turning a withered hand to healthy—even if someone who is homosexual comes to know Christ—we CANNOT expect this to change overnight. They have had a change in brain. We must be mindful here.

That being said, I think we need to be mindful that judgment in itself isn’t wrong. First of all, Paul urges us in Galatians to live a life that looks and tastes a certain way. He tells us to have a singular fruit with plural taste. The fruits of the spirit. We should live a life that basically says, “Bite me–see what I taste like–you will be hooked.” Now, if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t look or taste like this fruit, we are to challenge them. For the sinner, we are to judge them as well.

 


 

 

The question we need to ask ourselves is: Do we love other people?  If we do, we must understand that true love only exists in the presence of judgment, not without.

For example, in Pride and Prejudice, the affluent Mr Darcy fell in love with Elizabeth Bennet. Not able to hold his emotions any longer, Mr Darcy confessed to Elizabeth with these honest and befuddling words:

 “Miss Elizabeth. I have struggled in vain and I can bear it not longer… I came to Rosings with the single object of seeing you… I had to see you. I have fought against my better judgment, my family’s expectations, the inferiority of your birth by rank and circumstance. All these things I am willing to put aside and ask you to end my agony.”

After Mr. Darcy made his confession, Elizabeth responded in perplex, “I don’t understand.” How could she since Mr Darcy said that he has ‘fought against his better judgment’? Should not Mr. Darcy proclaim her beauty and goodness instead?

And to answer Elizabeth’s perplexity, Mr. Darcy mouthed the simple words of, “I love you” because that is what true love means! True love only exists when we are fully aware of the person’s weaknesses, yet we choose to love them. That is why two persons grow deeper in love with each other in marriage because both sides knew the inferiorities of both sides, yet they still love each other. “True love only exists in the presence of judgment.”


 

I think we must also urge that instead of tolerance, we will give people respect. I can respect someone greatly and still vehemently disagree with them. I cannot do this with tolerance. If I tolerate someone, I am really not respecting them.


 

Finally, I think we need to be insistent on what the qualifications for salvation are. They have nothing to do with our actions, sexuality, merit, or how much good we do in society. It is solely based upon our acceptance of grace. If you ask a person of the left, “What must a person do to go to heaven?” Many will say—“well—be good.” In fact I know many secular people who put Christians to shame in being good. Here is the problem—if only the good are going to heaven, and God alone is good—then who is going to heaven? God and no one else. Your and my application to join the trinity has been rejected. We fail to meet minimum entry requirements!

Our going to heaven has nothing to do with our goodness, but with the goodness of Christ. We are all sinful—regardless of sexual proclivity. We are all fallen, depraved and unworthy. Malcolm Muggeridge said, “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable fact, and at the same time the most intellectually resisted reality.” We are fallen. We have no hope. Consider this quote from Oliver Sack’s Awakenings:

“For all of us have a basic, intuitive feeling that once we were whole and well; at ease, at peace, at home in the world; totally united with the grounds of our being; and that then we lost this primal, happy, innocent state, and fell into our present sickness and suffering. We had something of infinite beauty and preciousness- and we lost it; we spend our lives searching for what we have lost.”

Now, that is from an agnostic medical doctor. After billions and billions of dollars of research and numerous psychological and scientific findings—we are stuck at Genesis 3.

 

Remember what I said about Mr. Darcy? “True love only exists in the presence of judgment?”  Likewise, that is how God loves us too. Despite His full awareness of our downfall, weaknesses, ugliness, and failures that lie bare before Him, God still choose to love us unconditionally.


BUT:  In love, judgment must still be served

The solution comes by way of Christ. We are guilty—we have indeed sinned. We are separated from God, and we are guilty. God is completely just, yet he is completely merciful. Now—if you think about it—this is a challenge for God: To be completely just and also completely merciful. As humans we extend mercy at the expense of justice, and we extend justice at the expense of mercy. We cannot have it both ways. We are guilty before a just God. What does he do? Well, he exercises both his mercy and justice. How? Through His son Jesus on the cross. He inflicts justice through Christ, therefore, giving us mercy. The debt must be paid. When justice is removed from a civilization, all hope is lost. God is fully just. He is fully merciful. God does not extend mercy to you and me at the expense of justice—but rather—through it—on the cross—through his son Jesus Christ.

As I think about the voluminous cry for equality—I can’t help but notice that we are already equal. We are sinful—and we need saving.

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Weight and sin.

Persisting Liturgy

Over the past nine or so weeks, the Student Ministry has been walking through Hebrews. If you have never extensively studied this book on your own, I highly recommend it. It is a little deep, even for this partial-seminary trained youth minister, but God’s Word is living and still speaks to us. Think the Gospels are the only books dealing with Jesus? Think again! 

Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience, so the author [unknown], uses their knowledge to show how much better Jesus is. There are references to the Old Testament found throughout the book. He compares Jesus to the things they held highest: Moses, Angels, even the Law. Here is the part that ties this all together for me. 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let…

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Some Thoughts On a “Multicultural” Education

Nearly every graduate from prestigious American universities and even the Ivy Leagues that I know—can tell you unequivocally that “evolution is a fact;” but they cannot tell you the difference between smooth evolutionary process and punctuated equilibrium theory. They are proud of the fact that they can say with confidence that Homer wrote the Odyssey, that Aquinas lived in the Middle Ages, and that Max Weber’s name begins with a “V” sound. Despite this, most of them aren’t sure if the Renaissance came before the Reformation; they couldn’t tell you what was going on in Britain during the French Revolution; they couldn’t tell you what was happening in China during the Enlightenment; and they certainly look bewildered if you ask them why the American founders favored a representative democracy over the kind of direct democracy that the Athenians had. Allan Bloom is right when he concludes in The Closing of the American Mind, that ‘educated’ Americans aren’t educated at all.

Do you know folks who argue for the virtue and necessity of a multicultural education? Maybe they proclaim the need for “diversity.” Diversity is a biological fact—it has nothing to do with ideology. Look—I am all for multiculturalism in schools. Let’s teach Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese—let’s read the Qur’an in the original Arabic. Let’s study the Vedas. Let us read the Analects by Confucius. Let’s study policy in India. I think we should teach the Tale of Genji, and the Gitanjali—and so forth. Why not? I think we should expose our students to what Matthew Arnold called, “The best that has been thought and said.” What is the problem? This isn’t what multiculturalism is today.

Instead, we get something else. What is assigned today is I, Rigoberta Menchu. Why? Because it is about a Marxist Feminist from Guatemala who experiences oppression travels through the Southern United States. Now, I am not underestimating the importance of Guatemalan Marxist feminism as a global theme, but is this really the best output of Latin culture? Does this even represent the culture of Guatemala? Menchu claims on page 4 that she is a victim of “quadruple discrimination.” She is a person of color, and therefore, oppressed by racism. She is a woman, and therefore, oppressed by sexism. She is Latin American, and therefore, oppressed by Americans. Finally, she is of Indian extraction, and she is oppressed by the people of Spanish descent within Latin America.

This explains the appeal of the book to liberal academics:  She is not representative of the great works of Latin America—but she is representative of the politics of the Stanford or Ivy League faculty lounge. Now what I love is that one academic when pressed on the merit of the historical accuracy of this book actually said, “Even if Rigoberta Menchu did make stuff up, her memory must have been distorted by years of oppression.”

Now, I believe this book should belong in the liberal arts curriculum. It should be taught in courses that survey celebrated literary hoaxes.

What about multicultural education today? Well, today there will be no study of India, Asia, or, Middle Eastern culture. Why? Because they don’t typically treat women, gays, or atheists well. They tend to have a zero tolerance on those groups. You will be surprised to see that non-Western cultures, though they have produced many works worthy of study, are usually classics that contain the same “unenlightened views of minorities and women” that multiculturalists deplore in the West. For example, the Qur’an has a clear doctrine of male superiority. Further, the Tale of Genji, is a story of hierarchy and ritual life in the court—this is far removed from Western egalitarianism. Finally—take the Indian classics—the Vedas and the Bhagvad Gita: These are rejections of materialism, atheism, and the separation of church and state.

The reason true multiculturalism won’t be studied is because they are politically incorrect. So the liberal academics pass over these representative works and focus on marginal and isolated works that are carefully selected to cater to Western liberal prejudices about the non-Western world.

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