Government and Society

And Eat It Too

I think our public school education has begun to fail us, because there are far too many people throwing phrases such as “civil rights” and “Jim Crow” around like a modern painter slings his color.  Doesn’t matter where it goes as long as it sticks…even if it’s not to the canvas.

You see, a proper understanding of pre-civil rights America would cause you to realize that segregation was enforced by the government on private citizens and businesses disallowing them to operate their business as they saw fit.  The white, racist shop owners in Atlanta get a bad rap and they should.  But the moral and ethical man next door could have desired to allow a man of a different race into his establishment and the Feds had every right say, “No way, Dan!” (His name definitely wouldn’t have been José).  This sinful madness came to a stop with the Civil Rights Act and it should have.  Meaning…

If I were a restaurant owner in pre-civil rights America, you bet your patoot I’d be serving people of every race, color, creed, religion, and ethnicity.  I would fight tooth and nail for my right to do it and face the consequences coming to me from the Feds.

But that’s not where the problems stopped.  Today, in the name of Civil Rights (of which our current issue is neither), we are seeing the exact opposite enforced, yet again, on private business owners.  Instead of telling them who they can’t serve, the Feds are telling them who they must serve.  This is the current madness that needs to stop.  Meaning…

If I were a photographer in New Mexico, you bet your patoot I’d be turning down homo weddings and “two-men-and-a-baby family” shoots.  I would fight tooth and nail for my right to do it and face the consequences coming to me from the Feds.

Because the only thing that’s the same between this time and that time…the only similarity between the first situation and the second is the government telling me, a private business owner, for whom I can and cannot provide a service.  But look at it this way, if five star restaurants want serve people based on whether or not men wear jackets to dinner, then they should be able toIf Joey wants his customers to speak English, he should be able to demand that.  And for years the government hasn’t said boo to either one of them.  So, it should then follow that if Rick and his racist uncle don’t want to sell bait or tackle to anyone who ain’t white like them, they should be able to.  All of these issues are the problem of a private business owner not the government.  They are the ones losing  with these policies, because, as someone wise once said, “Everybody’s money is the same color.”

Inherent to liberty is the right to say no and the right to refuse.  If this is the “sweet Land of Liberty” then surely I have the right to say no to certain things.  I have the right to say no when someone wants to enter my house without a warrant.  You have the right to say no when someone tells you to stop practicing your religion or that you must adopt theirs.  And private business owners have the right to say no when they don’t want to offer a service to someone.

The problem in both of these situations is Federal government overreach, but instead of intimidating us into racial discrimination, this time they are compelling us into a violation of conscience.  It’s government sponsored coercion and an assault on the liberties of all people, not just Christians.

Let me put it this way

“Does the proprietor of a business for the public have the right to decline service to someone because that someone’s behavior is offensive to them, although perfectly legal?”

Seriously contemplate the answer to this question before reading the next portion…  YES or NO?

 

“[Then what about a] web designer who wants to decline his services to a men-only golf club? A printer of business cards who did not want to serve Gosnell prior to his arrest? A graphic designer in Nevada who does not want to design any newspaper ads for the Moonlight Bunny Ranch?”

What about requiring a Jewish party store owner to order 500 swastika plates, cups, napkins, and streamers for the Neo-Nazi rally? Or requiring a advertising agent married to an abusive alcoholic to design a billboard for the local bar her husband frequents? …or requiring a Christian to bake a cake with two grooms on it?

For those of you who answered “no” to the above question, based on the principles that are currently being established by the gumm’int, what justification do you have for telling any of the above business owners they have right to refuse service without sounding schizophrenic?

Because you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

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With a Capital T and that Rhymes with P

The modern evangelical church in America has trouble.  Yeah we got trouble. Right here in River City…with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for…

Pessimism.  (Sorry. That part didn’t rhyme.)

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“Pessimism – a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future”

One of the problems that the modern evangelical church in America is facing is what I call “eschatological pessimism” [Eschatological – of or relating to or dealing with or regarding the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world; Pessimism – a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future].  I find most American Christians are disillusioned by the “culture wars” and believe strongly that the world we live in right now is pretty bad and it’s because for the past few hundred years, someone has been slowly turning up the “suck” leaving us to ask, “Why is it so hot in here and how did we get in this handbasket?” Because of this “pessimillenialism,” (a term coined by author Gary North) Christians often resort to our own means to “save the culture” before it just goes from bad to worse.  At a more basic level, this pessimillenialism leads us to trust our own means to save the world rather than God’s.  It’s an idolatrous spirit that causes us to think we know better than God.  This fundamental lack of trust in God has left American Christians with nowhere to turn but the ballot box.  In the past 50+ years, Christians have resorted to politicizing our faith as opposed to proclaiming it.  I see two obvious reasons for this phenomenon.  The first is pessimillienialism and squishy, scared evangelly-goo-ism, as I just mentioned.  The second is, believe it or not, is…it’s easier.  Pessimism is easier.  Trusting ourselves is easier.  Getting someone you agree with elected or a policy you believe in passed is easier.  And we have bought into our own lie.  We’re smoking our own supply.  Think about it…Do you really believe that the only way God can save America is if we have a Christian in the White House?  Do you really believe only way God can save America is if we get prayer back in schools?  Do you really believe the only way God can save America is if we teach intelligent design in science class?  J.B. Phillips has an aptly titled book that I think fits here.  Your God is too small.

You see, I think God has outlined a very different course for human history and I believe a robust understanding of that course will inevitably impact our decisions politically and otherwise.  What I see in Scripture is that Christ’s coming will mean that the knowledge of the glory of the LORD shall cover the earth as the water covers the sea (Hab. 2:14; Ps. 22:27; Isa. 11:9) and the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD will accomplish this (Zech. 4:6) by the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:13-14).  The Gospel of Jesus is the only thing that will bring peace, unity, comfort, joy, and everything else right down the line.  I don’t think any evangelical Christian would disagree with that final sentence or any of what I just stated, come to think of it.  But when it comes to the theology of our hands, we believe something very very different.  We don’t believe the Spirit of God and the Gospel of Jesus to be that effective, so we must resort to alternative methods.

Contrary to the overwhelming pessimism in modern evangelicalism, I am an eschatological optimist.  A postmillennialist to be precise.  I recognize that postmillienialists don’t have a corner on the market of optimism, but we do own a heck of a lot of stocks.  Then again, Spurgeon was an “optimillenialist” though he was thoroughly premillienialist.  So there’s that.

So what am I getting at with all this?  Dr. Ravi Zacharias says it well.

“Wherever religion becomes politicized, that religion is on its way out.  In any part of the world where it was politicized, Christianity has been buried.  There is more faith in China today for Christ than there is in Germany or Sweden or France… What I think is important is not that Bible become the ‘textbook of Congress.’  It’s unrealistic in a pluralistic society because the heart of humanity is corrupt.”

Christians need to be reminded of how to play the long game.  We’ve been playing the short game for so long thinking that the game is almost over only to realize it’s only the bottom of the 2nd.  Playing the short game is easy.  Make Christianity the national religion and everyone will eventually conform.  Playing the long game is much harder and requires more reliance on the Spirit of God.  And when he changes hearts, minds, and lives, the decision cannot be overturned in 4 years when a new group of politicians walks in to Warsh-ington.

Holding all that in your mind, look at what Paul says about why Christ set us free.  “For freedom Christ set you free.” (Gal. 5:1)  Christians, then, should be people who love freedom and liberty.  Not only that, but they should fully and implicitly trust the Spirit of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ for it is what set them free.

In a truly free society, there would not only be a free, honest, and honorable exchange of goods but also of ideas.  All faiths and all religions and all perspectives and all worldviews can come and dialogue in the marketplace of ideas.  When Christians become pessimistic, we begin to lose faith in the Spirit of God and the Gospel of Jesus to change hearts and minds and lives.  So we resort to politicizing our religion to death.

However, Christians should be the biggest champions and proponents of the free expression of religion in the marketplace of ideas and not just of ours only, but of all religions.  What are we afraid of?  If Jesus is who he said he was (and he is) and can do what he said he could do (and he can) then why try to legislate the worship of Jesus alone?  Yet, evangelicals get our feelings hurt when the 10 Commandments statue is taken out of a state or county courthouse (even though it’s pretty clear violation of the First Amendment).  So we fight and bicker and argue that the country is going to Hell and that’s why we need to have the 10 Commandments in the courthouse.  We make such a big stink that it stays.  And along come the Satanists ready to build their statue.  And the Christians blow a gasket and use the same arguments against this statue that lawmakers used against ours not 15 minutes earlier.  It’s all or none here folks.  If it’s not a violation of the First Amendment for you, it’s not for them.  Then all the evangelicals around the country are affirmed in our pessismism and the vicious cycle continues.  One more example?  Just for kicks?  Christians have championed putting prayer back in schools since…it was taken out.  So here’s my scenario.  Let’s say someone in Congress finally listens to you (this is the most unrealistic part of this analogy) and they pass a law permitting prayer in schools, but it can only be the Shema or all of the Salat or the Gayatri Mantra.  You cool now, bro?  Well why not?  We have prayer back in schools.  You can see how in our pessimism, Christians resort to politicizing our religion, but if another religion would try to do the same, we would flip out.

Take it one step further.  Should the word “God” really be in our pledge of allegiance  (Should we even recite the pledge of allegiance?  We’ll save that one for another time…) or on our currency?  Put yourself in the shoes of the atheist.  The last thing they are going to want to do is listen to you shove your religion down their throat in the same way you would be offended if “In Allah We Trust” was written on your money and your kids had to pledge, “One nation, under Shiva…”

Do I believe the United States is “under God?”  Yes.  And because I believe that, I want the people of the United States to get a heavy dose of the Spirit of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ because that is the only thing that will change our hearts and minds and lives.  If you are wondering if we should try to politicize that message and trust in our own might and our own power instead the Spirit and the Gospel, all you need to do is look at Europe to see the result.  What this really all comes down to is how much you trust God’s Spirit and the Gospel of Jesus to effect real change.  If it really does what we say it can do from the pulpit on Sunday (and it does) then let’s act like in on Monday.

So go to your voting booths.  Go to your polling places.  Cast your votes to the glory of God.  But when you do remember this.  There never has been and never will be a savior on Capitol Hill and the more we look for one there, the more we over look the one on Calvary’s Hill…the only one who can make a real difference.

God, The Church, and Grammar

So as it turns out, different words have different functions.  Who knew.  And despite the best efforts of my English teachers and Schoolhouse Rock, I still have no idea what a gerund is, though it is fun to say.

(I never did understand why they showed us those Schoolhouse Rock movies and never tested us on the songs.  I would have aced it!  “Conjunction-junction what’s your function!” But I digress).  It occurred to me as I read a few blogs and Facebook posts about God and His Church that maybe I wasn’t the only one getting some sleep during my grammar lessons.  God and grammar?  Yes.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this was something that had been nagging at the back of my mind every time I read a Facebook debate.

Transitive Verb: A verb expressing a doable activity (like kick, want, paint, write, eat, clean, etc.) that must have a direct object, something or someone who receives the action of the verb. [Examples: Sam kicked Jim. Kicked = transitive verb; Jim= direct object. Joshua wants a cookie from Emily. Wants = transitive verb; cookie = direct object]

INtransitive Verb: Conversely, an intransitive verb (like arrive, go, lie, sneeze, sit, die, etc.) does not need a direct object receiving the action. [Examples: We arrived at the classroom door. Arrived = intransitive verb. James went to campus. Went = intransitive verb]

Often when we talk about God and His Church we unknowingly use transitive verbs and as important as those verbs are, what is equally is important is the object receiving the action.  If you are being reasonable, you can see that there is no good quality or bad quality to be found in a transitive verb.  Reread the examples above.  ‘Kick’ is not good or bad.  Everyone would agree.  But when we use cultural buzzwords everything changes.  We all know that love is good and hate is bad, don’t we?  Errrr.  Wrong.  Love is not good and hate is not bad.  These are transitive verbs with no object.  Acceptance is not good and exclusivity is not bad.  Again…transitive verbs without an object.  Everything hinges on the direct object receiving the action.  Loving your spouse is righteous and good.  Loving mass genocide is evil and wrong.  Notice…same verb.  If we want to be more like God our Father, we will make sure that the right verbs match up with the right objects meaning there are things we should love (Matt. 22:37-39), things we should hate (Prov. 6:16-19, 8:13), things we should accept (Acts 2:41), and things we should exclude (Ps. 119:118).

I hear so often that we, as Christians, should love and that we shouldn’t hate.  The begging questions are obvious. “Should love…what?”  “Shouldn’t hate…what?”

I read on blogs and Facebook that God wants Christians to be accepting and welcoming, not exclusive and elitist.  You may read that and want to respond with a hearty “Amen!”  But, as of yet, you don’t know what you’re “amen-ing.”  What makes exclusive bad?  If our churches are being exclusive about, say, communion on the grounds of…how well you can roller skate, then, I agree, being exclusive is evil and wrong.  However, if our churches are being exclusive about communion on the grounds of repentance of sin and trusting in Jesus alone for salvation, then, I disagree, being exclusive is righteous and Biblical.  On the flip side of all this, what makes accepting good?  The question must be asked, “Accepting of what and why?”

We must not fall into the cultural trap of assuming that these verbs are either positive or negative when separated from the object.  These terms are meaningless by themselves.  Great care must be taken when we speak and write especially when it’s in relation to God and His Bride, the Church.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect and I had to do (too much) research on the small bit of grammar in this post. What can I say?  I went to public school.