Tag Archives: equality

Racism at Books-A-Million (I Dare you To read This)

I don’t have to give a disclaimer.  I only do it to establish a common decency.  I do not identify with either the Alt Right or the New Left.  I despise Antifa as well as the David Dukes of the world.  I consider the KKK to be pond scum (that gives pond scum and insult).  I have little use for anyone who judges another person based on their skin color.  I teach my children that all human beings are created in the image of God.

I insistently teach my children that all human beings are created in the image of God. Blacks and Whites are equal.  We are all equally valued by God.

We do not talk about white pride in our home, although we are proud of our identity.    We are proud Americans.  Why wouldn’t we be?  America is great.  It is the greatest nation on Earth.  We talk often about American exceptionalism.  We talk about the uniqueness of America and her citizens.  Black people, brown people, white people, and a variety of others are all indissolubly linked to the making of our country. We celebrate that.

We celebrate that, unapologetically.

Because we celebrate our diverse origins and identity as Americans, we celebrate the Negro Spirituals and the fact that a true glimpse of divine beauty can emerge from horror, as well as the music of Tin Pan Alley, Motown, New Orleans, Chicago, California, and Nashville.

We love the Beach Boys, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and the Temptations.

I firmly believe that racism must be taught.  My children do not see any difference at all, in people, outside of appearance, between a Black and a White person.  My son, when given an opportunity to choose a baby doll, chose one skinh black sin.  He sleeps with him every night.  I didn’t teach him that.

I didn’t teach him that.

That being said, I was forced this week to bring up issues of race with my 6-year old daughter.

In what should have been a benign trip to Books-a-Million, my daughter and I overheard the words, “Donald Trump…hate…murder…racist..blacks.”   I had to fight the urge to set this utterly and undignifiedly uninformed employee straight, but I composed myself.  I could tell that my daughter carefully regarded these words, and then found herself taken aback.  It caused for her, a moment of cognitive dissonance.  She knows that in our home, all races are equal.  She knows that her Mom and Dad are both, NOT RACISTS.  She also knows that her Mom and Dad would not vote for a racist.  She knows that her Mom and Dad DID vote for Donald Trump.

I let it go.  Unfortunately, I could tell that my daughter carefully regarded these words and then found herself taken aback.  It caused for her, a moment of cognitive dissonance.  She knows that in our home, all races are equal.  She knows that her Mom and Dad are both, NOT RACISTS.  She also knows that her Mom and Dad would not vote for a racist.

But here is the clincher:  She knows that her Mom and Dad DID vote for Donald Trump.

Uh Oh!

Now, she is reasonable.  She can tell good from bad.  She’s young but shrewd.  She is well trained.  She has heard Trump on television.  She has heard my wife and I talk about him—often positively. Despite being 6, she has a pretty firm grasp on who this guy is.

Back to Books-A-Million:   After the comments she heard from the employee sipping on his Starbucks, typing on his iPhone, and wailing about corporate greed; next came the coup de grace:  She handed me a book she found that portrayed President Trump as a starfish with a sphincter for a mouth.  Out of his mouth (crevice) blew flatulence with words superimposed over a poof of smoke representing his breath.  She knew it was Trump because of the orange tint and the hair (clearly).  She asked me why he was shaped this way.

 

I explained to her, “Some people do not like PRESIDENT TRUMP.”  Then, she asked me in response to the comments about hate and murder she had heard.  “Daddy, why did they say those things about Donald Trump?”  I don’t know if it was cognitive or not, but she paired the hate she heard from the employee, with the parody and pictures she found in the book.  Most Ivy League students couldn’t perform such a feat.

Most Ivy League students couldn’t perform such a feat.

Call me a racist if you want, but here is what I told her: “Baby, some people are so bent on calling things stupid or racist, that they resort to calling people who they disagree with stupid or  racist—even if they aren’t stupid or racist.  They have been so effectively programed (by activists and politicians who benefit financially from stirring up racial conflagration) that they see it as a good deed to call these people these things.  To them, anything that doesn’t match what they have been programmed to think makes a light go off that says “Racist!  Racist! Racists!  Stupid! Stupid!  Stupid!”

I explained to her that I believe that the earth is millions of years old, but that I reject Darwinian theory.  I reject the view that says bacteria became bugs, bugs became animals, and animals became humans.  I reject it outright.  I told her, that among my peers, I am seen as anti-science (stupid).  I explained that the word stupid is invoked because Darwinian theory has a number of weaknesses that they cannot account for.  So, in defense of their view, they hurl the word “Stupid!”  I explained to her that the cries of Racism are simliar.

I went on to explain to her that racism is horrible.  I explained past and PRESENT slavery to her and told her about the history of America and its role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and its role in ending it.  When I finished, I told her, “These racial programmers do not want racism to disappear.” Jesse Jackson has no intention of helping to ERADICATE racism.

Do you doubt me?  Are you kidding me?  If racism were to disappear tomorrow, there would go Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton’s meal ticket.  There is lots of money to be made in agitating grievances.

FOLLOW THE MONEY.

I will take it a step further:  If most blacks in this country were persuaded to believe that most whites wish for them nothing but success (which is the truth), the Democratic Party would go extinct.  Gone.  Nonexistent—like the dodo bird.

But I am brought now to an uncomfortable question:  Can the racial divide in this country be healed?   I think the answer is “Yes.”  I am optimistic.  I think it will take a swallowing of pride on both sides, white and black.  It will take admitting that slavery, though horrific, did cause horror and untold pain for blacks (the very ancestors of our friends).  On the other side, I think it will take blacks admitting that no matter how bad slavery was, and how horrific their forbears were treated, that whites today have no responsibility (it wasn’t us…it was our forebears).

For better or worse, we are both here, on this soil.  We are both Americans.  We both salute the same flag, and bleed the same Patriot red.   Whites have died for the freedom of blacks, and blacks for the freedom of whites.  Can we not celebrate that?!

I am a proud Southerner, but I apologize for what my ancestors may have done—or may not have done.   This doesn’t mean I disavow my ancestors or my heritage.  I am proud to be from the South, on my Father’s side.  On my Mothers side, I am proud to be from the North.  There were anti-slavery soldiers, both black and white,  on both sides.  I celebrate that! What it means is that I acknowledge that man by his very nature is flawed.  My ancestors were no different.

When we realize that MAN that man by his very nature is flawed, we see the reality of the whole situation.  My ancestors were no different–they were flawed.  Sinners.  Many of my Ancestors were victims of The Norman Conquest, the Irish Potato Famine, Decline of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Napoleonic and Czarist adventurism, and gratuitous insults and speculations about the intelligence of Europeans of Polish descent.Despite this fact, I live my life.  I am proud to be an American.

Despite this fact, I live my life.  I am proud to be an American.  God has shown ME grace.  For that I am thankful.  I wish to share it with others, no matter the color.

Perhaps you can as well.

 

 

 

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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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Happiness, The Christian Faith, and Why We Insist on Hurting Ourselves

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Would you say that purpose of the Christian life to ultimately achieve happiness?  Is God ultimately concerned with making us happy?  Think about it like this:  Many Christians will say, “I was unhappy, but when I came to Jesus He brought me joy.” Or, “I have found happiness because I have found Christ.”  I have even heard, “Come to Jesus if you want to find happiness.”  These statements aren’t bad in and of themselves, but, the purpose of following Jesus isn’t to make ourselves happy.  They are means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.  C.S. Lewis, the English writer once quipped that a man can be made happy by alcoholic beverage; he doesn’t need God for this.  If our only reason for coming to God is to find happiness, this is a worship that is based in hedonism.  If we are fixed ultimately on serving ourselves, this is a form of idolatry.

Could you imagine this situation?

Let’s supposing, I have been away for a while on a trip, and when I come home, I stop at a local floral store.  I buy my wife her favorite arrangement of flowers, a card, and chocolates.  On my way home I call a babysitter unbeknownst to my wife and arrange for them to watch our child so that we can go out to dinner upon my return home.  When I arrive home, I knock on the door—and when my wife opens the door, I say nothing.  Instead, I just present the flowers to her.  Her response will be something like, “John, you shouldn’t have!”  She will respond immediately out of happiness.  My reply to this would be, “I know I didn’t have to, but I love seeing you happy. I know how happy flowers make you, so I wanted to get them for you.”  Guys, if you are single—and you haven’t employed this level of gesture, this could be a clue as to your singleness!

Now, let’s consider it this way:

What if I stopped at the floral shop—arranged for dinner—came home—presented the flowers—but this time, I added this:  “I got you these flowers because I know it makes you happy.  I am happy when I see you happy.  In fact, I have arranged for a babysitter so that you and I can go out to eat tonight and spend an evening alone.  There is no one else I would rather be with tonight than you.”

What if her response to my proposal was: “No one you would rather be with?!  Why are you always thinking about yourself?  You are so selfish!”

This is absurd.  I could almost guarantee you that if you employed the same rhetoric and action that we saw in the second example, you would not get that response.

Why?

It is the nature of love to delight one’s self in the joy of the other.  My gleaning of happiness out of the happiness of my wife is not an act of selfishness.  This is the nature of love.  There is a distinction between loving to do something and loving to have something done for you.  If our service to God is done because we delight ourselves in God, we will truly be happy.  If we only find happiness in what He will do for us, the moment His will doesn’t match up with our plan, we will feel estranged.  If our entire faith is based on our own happiness, it will not weather any storms.

So if our happiness doesn’t come from gratification through God serving us, it must come from us serving God—willingly.

Serving is a key theme of Jesus’ own ministry.  The Bible says in Mark 10 that

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

He delighted himself in the joy of the Father.  Look at this:  The Son served the Father.  In the Son serving the Father, He delighted Himself in the joy of the Father.  What was the joy of the father?  That his creation could be freed from sin.

Happiness is an elusive thing when it is an end in itself.  You may be aware of the current state of global financial markets and all that have surrounded economic collapses in the West.  Do you know at the root level why this has happened?  Simply, because people are making myopic choices—or they make choices that are only based on short-term fulfillment.

Think about it—people do what they do because they think it will make them happy.  If someone does what they do because they think it will make them miserable, I think you should seek help for them.  Look—happiness is superficial and temporary at best when it is based on finding things in this world that are meaningful.

Are you familiar with Joseph Stalin?  A story is told by his daughter about when he was the Russian dictator.  Someone asked him once, how he could ensure people would follow him once he had employed all his cruelness on them.  To this, he replied with calling for a chicken.  He took the chicken and plucked out all of its feathers and then returned it to the ground.  He then threw bread crumbs on the ground and the chicken came to his feet and began to eat.  Stalin told the questioner that if you are the source of food for those whom you torture, they will never leave your feet, despite the mistreatment.  Are we any different today?  Now, granted we don’t have Joseph Stalin, but we do have a tormentor.  Sin is anything that we do that deviates from God’s purpose in our lives.  The word sin in the Bible doesn’t only refer to evil things we do, but it also describes a power that can control us and take us captive.  Satan torments us, yet, because we desire our idea of happiness, we are willing to follow him.  How is this analysis incorrect?  It’s not.

Our idea of happiness is completely wrong.  When we desire happiness, at the expense of doing God’s will, we are not seeking happiness.  Instead, we are seeking misery.  Who knowingly does this?  This is myopic choice.  You know, if you look at a modern economy textbook today, it doesn’t seem to say that the idea of a rational consumer exists.  On the contrary, it will say that all consumers today are myopic in nature.  This says a lot.

I was at a hair salon once, and the lady cutting my hair was the owner—I knew this because at one point, she turned to the lady next to her and said, “business is good, but there has to be more to life than that.”  Now—I am a sort of evangelist, and I love apologetics.  This doesn’t mean that I evangelize people and then apologize to them for doing it.  On the contrary it means, I give evidences or reasons for my faith.  This was a golden moment.  I caught her eye in the mirror and said, “If you ask me, we aren’t made happy in life by what we acquire, but instead, by what we appreciate.”  She put down her scissors and walked off.  She came back and produced a notepad and a pen and said, “You couldn’t say that again could you?”  So I repeated myself.  She wrote it down frantically.  As she was writing I went on—I said, “The problem that most people have is not that they have nothing to be grateful for, but instead they live their lives as if they have no one to be grateful to.”  She put down the scissors again and asked me to repeat it.  Now—this turned into an hour-long haircut!  I don’t have an hour-long hairstyle, I just have hair.  This was very interesting.

I then asked her if she had every loved someone but wasn’t able to express it.  She replied in the affirmative and told me how trapped that made her feel.  I went on to share with her what C.S. Lewis says about that very thing.  I told her once we are able to share that love with the other, it liberates us from our own monotony.  She agreed.  We then talked about sin and how it consumes us.  She asked me an interesting question—she said, “Im pregnant.  The problem I have is, how do I bring a baby into such an evil world?”  I told her that she had raised a great question—but then stealing a line from Ravi Zacharias, I said, “You are right when you point out the evil outside, but what about the evil inside you?”  She again affirmed that she was aware of this but didn’t know what to do about it.  She said to me, “Its like I know what I do is wrong, but I do it anyways.  I want to do right, but I can’t.  I just seem trapped in myself.  I need someone else to help me.”  I looked at her in the mirror and exclaimed, “You are saying you need a—savior?”  No lie—she looked at me and said, “oooh that’s a good one.  Savior.  I like that.”  I mean, face it—we don’t go around saying words like savior a lot.  unless you have grown up in the church, when will you use this word?

I then went on to talk to her about God and how he hates sin.  I told her that there will be a time when God will judge the world—and that the ultimate question is what have we done with our sin.  She seemed perplexed.  She asked how we could be rid of sin, if we are trapped by it.  I then told her about Jesus and how God was fully merciful but yet fully just.  I told her about how Jesus paid the penalty of death that we deserved—and has provided a way for us to be free from sin.  Our conversation ended with me saying, “You cant sit on the fence forever.  You have to decide, what are you doing to do with Jesus?”

Now—I went back 2 weeks later.  I have never had hair this short in my life.  As soon as I walked in, she said, “John, I will cut your hair!”  So she sat me down, and put an apron on me.  She asked me, “Do you remember our conversation?”  I told her that I could vaguely remember it.  She then said something interesting:  She said, “I went straight home and told my husband everything you said.”  I thought to myself, “Oh this is interesting—yikes.”  I asked her what he said in reply.  At this, her face dropped.  She said, “He told me I was preaching at him!”

Of course she was.  He gets home from a long day at work and sits down at the table.  She produces a notepad and proceeds to say:

“You know that in life you aren’t made happy by what you acquire, but what you appreciate.  It isn’t that you have nothing to be grateful for, but you live your life as if you have no one to be grateful to.  The reason you feel trapped is because you are incapable of expressing love.  You are both enslaved to and engaged in evil.  The only way that you can get out of this evil existence is to find Jesus.  If you don’t find him, there will be a judgment and you will have to pay for your sin.  I ask you, what will you do with Jesus?”  

Why did she respond graciously, but he responded closed off?  Simply put, because she was asking questions.  He wasn’t.

A fish doesn’t know it is wet, but it is.  You and I don’t realize we are dry, but we are.  People who are apart from God do not understand the concept of happiness in a Christian sense.  It is an idea that is totally alien to them.  They are engaged in sin, and they do not know it.

It is interesting—I read a book a while back by this guy who is the Chichele Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford. To be honest with you, the reason I read it was because I wanted to be able to say, “I read a book by the Chichele Professor of Economic History at Oxford.” That title alone was worth reading the book!

The book is called The Challenge of Affluence. In it, he basically says that the perpetual flow of new rewards in our Western affluent economy undermines our capacities to actually enjoy them.

In other words, when you don’t have a lot of money, you are limited by scarcity. You can’t do everything you want. You can’t buy everything you want. You can’t do it. Scarcity is a natural regulator.  However, in affluence, scarcity becomes scarce. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want to.  The rub is, no matter what psychometric study you use—and they are all uniform—it doesn’t seem to matter—they all agree: In the presence of affluence, Happiness seems to decrease.

In affluence, the things that naturally limit us, disciple us, and train us, are taken away. The danger is we indulge in everything, we take pleasure in nothing—and we get caught running on a hedonic treadmill.  It seems as if we are running faster and faster to get the same amount of pleasure, and every amount of pleasure that we get must become more extreme just to meet our need for our increased tolerance for pleasure. This pattern becomes self-destructive and some individuals at the top actually lose it altogether from time to time as a result.

In the face of plenty, the well-off increase their satisfaction, not by increasing their consumption but by limiting it—not by increasing the pace, but by slowing it down.

The kind of moral command God has given us for life, provides that very framework.

Now, the thing to realize is this: breaking that framework doesn’t make us happy. There may be a short-term lift, but a long-term problem is bound to follow.  We may experience what seems to be a short-term feeling of happiness, but in the long run—we will eventually lose out.

Now—economists talk about a principle called Myopic Choice. If you look at economics—most models rest upon the ‘premise’ that basically says that the study of economics could be modeled in terms of rational consumers. Milton Friedman, the brilliant economist, said that a rational consumer is someone who is ‘aware of their motives, options, goods before then, and the consequences.’  You could call this being bilaterally and voluntarily informed. The problem is–if you pick up an economy text today in a university, it will basically imply that there is no such thing as a rational consumer. It will say we make only myopic choices.  A myopic choice means we know our choices are bad, but we make them anyways.  We know that printing money is not wise, but we do it regardless.  We know raising a debt limit is fatuous, but we do it.  The short-term gain outweighs the price of the long-term reward.

Why do you think we sin? We are convinced that the short-term pleasure outweighs the price of the long-term reward. “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure.” It isn’t our pain that lets us down. It is our constant drive toward pleasure that destroys us.

When we break God’s moral law–we get hurt.  We hurt ourselves while proving His law in the process.

Do you know why many people are so unhappy and experience so much hurt in their lives rather than happiness?  Simply ,because they are trying to do the impossible.  They are trying to break God’s moral law.  It  is impossible.

If I asked you to put a cape on, draw a red ‘S’ on you chest and go to the top of a tall building and jump off—would you break the law of gravity?  No.  You would break something else while proving the law of gravity in the process.  It is in this same way we are unable to break God’s moral law.  When we try—we get hurt—and we hurt those around us.  Do you remember what happened to Jonah when he tried to run from God?  Not only did he get hurt, but the innocent sailors around him got hurt as well.  God has warned us—if you continue to live like this, you will break yourself—yet we do it anyways.  Myopic choice.

So, where does happiness come in?  We have to understand that happiness isn’t about us.  Happiness comes from God—and it is a derivative of our willingness to serve Him.  When we learn to disconnect ourselves and our desires from our definition of happiness, happiness will take on an entirely new definition.  It isn’t about us anymore—but it becomes about God.  When we delight ourselves in God, there is no greater measure of happiness available.

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Does Sin Exist?

We live in period of history in which nothing is wrong, well except to claim unequivocally that there is such a thing as wrong.  We live in a society that that feels that nothing is off limits, well except the idea that there are things that are off limits.  We happen to live in a world that dogmatically asserts that what we do is what we are wired to do.  That is, in the words of Richard Dawkins, it is our DNA that dictates what we do, “and we just dance to its music.”  We have moved a long way from Flip Wilson’s, “The devil made me do it.”  Now, we are prisoners of our own material body.  My DNA made me do it!

Before you you go believing this rubbish, let me just plant a word of doubt and skepticism in your mind (and yes you can be skeptical of the self styled freethinking skeptics).  When someone says that you are pre-wired to behave a certain way based on your DNA or molecular makeup, what they are saying is:  You are determined.  Determinism is the view that there is no free will and that we are captive to time, matter, and chance.  In a sense, it is the belief that Darwinian evolution is in business, and it will do what it likes–including controlling your behavior and thoughts.  Here is the problem.  If one holds to determinism, by definition, they did not come to hold this view based on weighing the pro’s and con’s for the argument.  They weren’t persuaded rationally to believe that determinism is true.  Instead, determinism would purport that they just hold the view because they were determined to do so.  If we are determined to do the things we do and believe the things we believe, how can we rationally affirm anything?  How can determinism be rationally affirmed if we are predetermined to believe it?

Don’t buy this stuff. Well, that is, if you are determined not to buy it, don’t buy it.  If you are determined to buy it, you have no choice. (please sense the sarcasm)

 


 

Now, the more interesting question is,does sin exist? Is man by nature good, or is man evil? These are questions that must be answered.  And trust me, regardless what worldview a person holds–whether they are a theist, atheist–whatever–they have a position on these issues.

Consider a story:

“Two brothers were notorious around town for being as crooked in their business dealings as they could possibly be. That notwithstanding, they continued to progress from wealth to greater wealth until suddenly one of the brothers died. The surviving brother found himself in search of a minister who would be willing to put the finishing touches to the funeral. He finally made an offer to a minister that was hard for him to refuse. “I will pay you a great sum, he said, “if you will just do me one favor. In eulogizing my brother, I want you to call him a ‘saint,’ and if you do, I will give you a handsome reward.” The minister, a shrewd pragmatist, agreed to comply. Why not? The money could help put a new roof on the church.

When the funeral service began, the sanctuary was filled by all the important business associates who had been swindled through the years by these two brothers. Unaware of the deal that had been made for the eulogy, they were expecting to be vindicated by the public exposure of the man’s character.

At last the much-awaited moment arrived, and the minister spoke. “The man you see in the coffin was a vile and debauched individual. He was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a manipulator, a reprobate, and a hedonist. He destroyed the fortunes, careers, and lives of countless people in this city, some of whom are here today. This man did every dirty, rotten, unconscionable thing you can think of. But compared to his brother here, he was a saint.”

Every group of students I tell this joke to laugh out loud.  Why?  What is it about this story that resonates with all who hear it, regardless of cultural background or place of birth? Why can a stadium of people hear this story through their respective linguistic interpreter, and all at once let out a seismic roar of laughter at the punch line? The answer is quite simple. We are all aware of what man can be at his worst. We know the evil that resides within all of us and what it can do if allowed to prevail. If this was not a common understanding, there would be no laughter. Am I wrong?

I am reminded of the great English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who wrote in the first volume of his two-volume biography, a story that dealt with sin.

Working as a journalist in India, he left his residence one evening to go to a nearby river for a swim. As he entered the water, across the river he saw an Indian woman from the nearby village who had come to have her bath. Muggeridge impulsively felt the allurement of the moment, and temptation stormed into his mind. He had lived with this kind of struggle for years but had somehow fought it off in honor of his commitment to his wife, Kitty. On this occasion, however, he wondered if he could cross the line of marital fidelity. He struggled just for a moment and then swam furiously toward the woman, literally trying to outdistance his conscience. His mind fed him the fantasy that stolen waters would be sweet, and he swam the harder for it. Now he was just two or three feet away from her, and as he emerged from the water, any emotion that may have gripped him paled into insignificance when compared with the devastation that shattered him as he looked at her.  Muggeridge writes:

“She came to the river and took off her clothes and stood naked, her brown body just caught by the sun.  I suddenly went mad.  There came to me that dryness in the back of my throat; that feeling of cruelty and strength and wild unreasonableness which is called passion.  I darted with all the force of swimming I had to where she was, and then nearly fainted for she was old and hideous and her feet were deformed and turned inwards and her skin was wrinkled and, worst of all, she was a leper.  You have never seen a leper I suppose; until you have seen one you do not know the worst that human ugliness can be.  This creature grinned at me, showing a toothless mask, and the next thing I knew was that I was swimming along in my old way in the middle of the stream—yet trembling…It was the kind of lesson I needed.  When I think of lust now I think of this lecherous woman.” 

The experience left Muggeridge trembling and muttering under his breath, “What a dirty lecherous woman!” But then the rude shock of it dawned upon him—it was not the woman who was lecherous; it was his own heart.  He was the lecher.

Muggeridge himself admitted the real shock that morning was not the leper, as mind-banding as that would be. Rather, it was the condition of his own heart, dark, with appetites overpowering his weak will. He writes,

“If only I could paint, I’d make a wonderful picture of a passionate boy running after that and call it: ‘The lusts of the flesh.’”

Muggeridge, who was himself a latecomer to the faith, would go one to say,

“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”

Are instances like this reserved for the elite caste of the most lecherous and morally repugnant individuals in society? Hardly. Think back to the great figures we know from the Bible. David, a man after God’s own heart. He let sin overcome him and it let to lust, immorality, deceit, murder, prevarication, and dishonor. Why? All because of sin that was not dealt with properly. Think of King Saul. Perhaps Saul is a man who could have been the greatest King to ever live. What was his problem? Pride. He could not stand the fact that David had slain the giant, and as a result the songs were being sung about him, and not himself. This sin led to problems. Remember Jonah? His sin of disobedience didn’t only affect him, it affected all of the other men on board the ship!  If you remember, it took the pagan captain of the ship to get Jonah to pray to God!  You know things are messed up when sin takes control of your life to the point that unbelievers are willing to ask YOU to try God out.

I was once talking to a woman about the Christian view of the world, and she admitted,

“Being a woman about to give birth, I do wonder to myself how anyone could bring a baby into such an evil world.”

I responded to her,

“You are right about the evil out there, but what about the evil in us–in you?”

You know, the Bible refers to sin not only as being something that we do, but also as a power that controls and consumes us.  It isn’t that we do sinful things, but rather, that we are sinful.

Sin is a problem!

 


 

Fast forward to our modern age. Sin has become a problem “no more.” Sin is now seen by the postmodernists, liberals, and relativists as merely a concoction and archaic holdover from fundamental Christian dogmas.  Jacques Derrida, Michael Foucault, and their ilk will tell you there there is no absolute truth (though didn’t they just state an absolute in making their claim?). There is no absolute truth; so, how could there be something called sin?  It was Foucault who noted,

‘To die for the love of boys: what could be more beautiful?’

and,

‘all the rest of my life I’ve been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys.’

 

Isnt it a shame that a man could admit these things, but his biographer only refer to them as the “passions of Foucault?”  This isn’t passion, this is depravity.

 

This refusal of sin as a reality affects more than just sexual freedom, however.

C.E.M. Joad once noted that

“It is because we rejected the doctrine of original sin that we on the [political] Left were always being disappointed”

Unfortunately for the Left,  this is right (pun intended).  Why is it that we can erect all-powerful legislation and control the lives of all citizens, yet still stand in complete shock when something tragic happens at the hands of human beings?  I posit that it doesn’t matter how many laws are instituted.  If man doesn’t realize that sin is real, and that evil is a reality, then I agree with Dr. Johnson who lamented:

“All the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from their crimes.”

 

I think G.K. Chesterton can teach us a few things when it comes to this issue of objective sin.  First of all, objective morals do exist.  Chesterton once noted that,

“Though we may differ over whether or not abortion is virtuous, we all agree that they should be performed with sterilized instruments.”

That quote may seem a bit harsh, but think about it.  Two people may disagree over the virtue of abortion–that is to say, whether it is right or wrong.  What they do not disagree over is the medical necessity of universal precautions.  Why are precautions universal if there werent a moral mandate to take care of the patient because–well–life matters?

This is the essence of the medical mistake.

G.K. Chesterton taught us that in medicine we all agree on what a well person is, but disagree on what sick is. In social and political theory however, we agree on what a malady looks like, but tear our eyes out over what a well-functioning society looks like.  The problem is, politicians and social critics continually use medical terminology to talk about social issues–“The health care situation in this country is sick.  It needs to be reformed.”  OR  “The country is sick–vote for my policies, and we can return it to health.”  This is a fallacy says Chesterton.  How can they talk about what ‘well’ is in absolute terms, if the idea of well is the most disputed issue in all of academia?  Only in medicine can this terminology be used.   It is a fact that a man may have pain in his leg and walk into a hospital, and due to medical necessity, come out with one leg less. Never will that man walk into a hospital and in a moment of creative rapture, walk out of the hospital, having being given one leg more.

Absolutes do exit.  Wrong exits.  Good exists.  We just refuse to say what it is.

I believe that Oliver Sacks, an M.D. who is no Christian said it best in his blockbuster book, 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; and one day, perhaps, we will suddenly find it. And this will be the miracle, the millennium !”

Did you understand that?  Isn’t that interesting?  Billions of dollars have been spent on research–and here we are–stuck at Genesis 3.

Along those lines, here is an interesting quote from the renowned professor of psychology; and one time president of the American Psychological Association, Hobart Mowrer. This man was also an atheist who took his own life in his seventies:

“For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch making. But at length we have discovered that to be free in this sense, that is, to have the excuse of being sick rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost… In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity, and with neurotics, themselves, we find ourselves asking, “Who am I, what is my deepest destiny, what does living mean?”

What is the solution?  The modern man has a solution for what the archaic man calls sin. That solution is education.  Notice that the boundaries of this debate are enforced by the self styled intellectual caste.  Is this really the way things should be?  Wasn’t Oliver Wendell Holmes correct when he stated, “The life of the law is logic not experience”?

Contrary to the beliefs of modern utopianists, education does not change the way people behave. This has been exemplified by various instances of white collar crime where ivy league university graduates are the ones committing the crimes. What then is the difference between the common street criminal and the thoroughly educated high class criminal? Method and magnitude! The common street criminal will employ crude weapons to steal a car from the other end of town. The educated criminal will employ his academic degrees to gain prominence and steal millions of dollars from the corporation that he runs. The uneducated criminal will break into a house and rape a woman. The educated criminal will use position and power to rape a nation.

As D.L. Moody put it,

“If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track.”

It is a snobbish assumption that the ignorant are the dangerous criminals. The most dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. All education does is to make the criminal more sophisticated.

The only solution to sin can be found in the person of Christ. Listen to what an the avowed skeptic, E.H. Lecky had to say on the matter:

“It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has not been only the highest pattern of virtue, but also the strongest incentive to its practice; and has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortions of moralists.”

G.K. Chesterton said that original sin is as “practical as potatoes.” We may try to deny it, overlook it, or re-describe it, but the fact remains. We are capable of many kinds of evil. The diseases of the body are not nearly as hideous and grotesque as the diseases of the soul.

It is not merely external behaviors that vex our souls, but our internal intentions as well. Jesus explained this clearly when he said that if we lust after a woman we commit adultery with her in our hearts; that if we are unforgiving of our brother, it is like murdering him. Jesus brings ethics from the social sphere to the personal one by showing how intentions can be just as wicked as actions.

Have we taken stock of our soul recently? Have we sensed the nuances of evil in our own hearts? We need to stand guard today, and every day, with humility that we are capable of terrible evil. And at the same time, we need to avoid those things that draw us into it. Sin starts at the heart level and works its way outward.

Comparatively, leprosy on the body is not nearly as ugly as the pockmarks of sin on the soul. The good news is that Christ has broken the power of both and asks us to begin eternity now by building a soul in this world appropriate for our glorified body in the next.

How do we find the answers?  What worldview gives us a hope? Ravi Zacharias gives us an interesting method:

First, there are 3 tests that a worldview must pass.  It must be:  1)Logically consistent (its teachings cannot be self-contradictory), 2)Empirically Adequate (its teachings must match with what we see in reality, 3) experientially relevant (its teaching must speak directly to how we actually live our lives.

Second, each worldview must address the following four ultimate questions:  1)Origin (where do the universe and human beings come from?), 2)Meaning (What is the meaning or purpose of life?), 3) Morality (how do we know what is right and what is wrong?), 4) Destiny (What happens to us after we die?)

Third, there are five academic disciplines that must be employed to comprehensively study a worldview:  1) Theology (the study of God), 2)Metaphysics (the study of what is ultimately real), 3)Epistemology (the study of how we can know things), 4) Ethics (the study of moral right and wrong), 5) Anthropology (the study of what and who humans are).

You will find that only a worldview based upon God and through a relationship with the person of Christ will one view hold up to this test.  But, don’t take my word for it.  Do your own work.  Try it.

Joseph Damien was a missionary in the 19th century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.  Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived our before them.  But even he did not know the price he would pay.  One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot.  It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation.  Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot.  No feeling whatsoever.

Damien immediately diagnosed the problem.  As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line.  He normally began every sermon with, “my fellow believers.”  But this morning he began with, “My fellow lepers.”

In a greater measure, Jesus came into the world knowing what it would cost Him.  He bore in His pure being the marks of evil, that we might be made pure.  “For this I came into the world,” he said (John 18:37).

The gospel points to the person of Christ who went to the cross, not just to transform the Jeffrey Dahmers and the money-grabbers behind the scenes, but to renew even those whose self-righteousness blinds them to their own need.  It wasn’t just the prodigal who squandered the fathers love, it was also the older brother—for he was so close to the fathers love the whole time.

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