Some thoughts on gay marriage

I have a few questions for those who favor legalizing gay marriages.

Question 1: On what grounds to we base our definition of marriage? In fact, what is the definition of marriage that allows for gay marriage? Currently, it is defined as “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife,” or ” the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” If this changes, why should it change? The reason I ask this is because if the definition is arbitrary and dependent upon time and culture, then how do we prevent future changes that allow polygamy and animal marriages and such? I know it is an extreme, but so I often I hear that it should change because it should be about two people who love each other. But if that is the sole reason, how can we likewise prohibit polygamy, since they could love each other to, right? And according to the same logic used to allow gay marriages (fairness and equality), how can we deny them this “right?” The problem is that the logic that allows gay marriage is a slippery slope. If we are consistent, then we can’t deny any type of marriage, no matter what it consists of.

Question 2: In what way are gay people not treated equally in regards to the right to marry? Nobody is saying that they can’t marry. They have the same right to marriage that I do, and that is to marry someone of the opposite sex. It’s the fact that they do not like the restrictions that limits who you can marry. That right has not been taken away from anyone, so quit saying that it is. Look at it this way, you are offered a job, and you have the choice to accept it or not. But you prefer another job, but one that is not hiring. Can you really say that the situation is not fair because you want the other job but it’s not being offered to you? I understand that these are two different issues, but we all agree that the job situation is not unfair, and in the same way, you are given a right, you just want a different right because you don’t like the one that is offered.

 

Final question: What is the purpose of marriage? Current research is not conclusive either way in regards to how children brought up in same sex households are affected. If it can be shown that it affects them negatively, and be shown that both sexes involved in their lives as parents is better for them, would this sway you to think differently?

If the purpose of marriage is to allow for the nurturing and furthering of families and bringing in new life to the world, then clearly same sex couples have no part in it. They can’t bring new life themselves, and I believe that a same sex household is not the ideal way for a child to grow up. This is the same reason that I do not like single parent homes and wish it upon no one. It is not the ideal. Yes, it happens sometimes. Dad’s leave, mom’s ask for divorces, people die. It’s unavoidable. But I strongly disagree with people being allowed to adopt and have children through artificial means of any sort when they are not married to someone of the opposite sex. This is not at all to say that one who comes from any of these families is illegitimate or lesser or to put seen differently or even that they won’t turn out better for it. There are always exceptions. But just as we do not encourage people to drive without seat belts because in %1 of accidents or what have you not wearing one saved someone’s life, we should not encourage behavior that tends to be detrimental in any way. It’s sad that people could be so selfish as to potentially harm another human being, especially one such as sacred and unique as a child. For me, that is unacceptable.

 

Would love to hear thoughts on this, for or against, religious or non-religious,


Our Expectations of God: They May Be Off… Way Off

A short time ago I finished a book by Phillip Yancy called Disappointment With God. It was a great book, and one that I recommend to anybody, but particularly those who have/are in difficult times.

One of the main points of the book was to address why we can be disappointed with God, as the title may suggest. He does this by answering three questions: Is God unfair? Is He silent? Is He hidden? Instead of answering these questions and giving an explanation, as we so often do, he takes a different route. he addresses why we are asking these questions in the first place. In asking these things, we clearly have presuppositions in regards to how God should be and how He should act. If we think He is unfair, clearly we think He should be fair. If He is silent, clearly we think that He should speak. And if He is hidden, clearly we think that He should make his appearance known.

Typically, the answer to these questions revolve around philosophy and theology. using wordy responses and scripture references to show that He is fair, is not silent, and is not hidden. But to what use? For those experiencing things that raise these questions, they certainly seem to be legitimate questions. It’s more of a “Why is God not being fair now, why is He not speaking to me, and why do I not feel Him?” You can’t use the answers that we most often give to the original questions and expect people to say, “Oh, that makes sense. Ok. I’ll move on because that eases my pain.”

By addressing our presuppositions about God, we can see why His reality is not matching our expectations of how things should be.

If there are a few things that we can learn from the Bible and human history, they are that God has tried multiple methods of trying to reach out to us, and most have failed. This is not to say that God failed, but rather that we failed Him. He even knew they would fail, but tried anyway. For example, He led the Israelites out of Egypt, into a desert where He fed them every day in a miraculous way, “resided” in a tent and could be felt, and then led them into the Promised Land despite heavy opposition. Did the people continuously praise Him and act according to His will? Not by any means. They complained about the food they were provided, they doubted that they could take the Promised Land despite the fact that they had seen Him part a sea and cause the Plagues. He then tried prophets instead of interacting personally, and what happened? They were killed and hated. Then came the kings, who also failed. And finally the success of Christ. But if He knew that Christ was the answer all along, why try these other, pointless options, destined to fail?

I think He did it to show us that they fail. He wanted to be able to say, when people asked why He wasn’t making Himself clear as day, or not speaking directly to them, that it doesn’t work and that He has tried it before. He is able to say that He has spoken to people and they didn’t listen. In fact, He came down Himself as a person, a human, and we killed Him. Fortunately for us, that was the whole plan. But it still showed us that God is there, and that He does care, and that we need to trust Him.

Jesus suffered not only for us, but also with us. God wanted to be able to say, “I know the pain that you feel. I know what emotional and physical pain as a human is like. I have been there, and I made it through, so can you. Follow my example.” What a God we have that He would exhaust all options so that we could have no excuse, and then He suffered in our place and can say that and mean that, and we can know that in the end, God wins.


Definition of Science: What can be an explanation?

In listening to a podcast today, I was getting more and more frustrated. It was two Christians discussing the origin of life. One kept saying that intelligent design was a science stopper and that minds should not be an explanation for anything in science.

I find this to be ludicrous. If it is the case, because it is certainly at least possibly true, then your definition and limits of science are science stoppers themselves. How can you have such things that would potentially give you necessarily false answers. For if it could be true that there are agent causations(which there certainly appears to be and all other fields permit them, just not biology and physics), then you are operating on a concept that necessarily prevents you from finding the true explanation.

I don’t understand why this is so common, and why some of the smartest people in the world think this way. Agents cause things. We know this from experience. How can you then rule that out simply because it is “science” and not something else? If you are limiting yourself from particular explanations because they are “unscientific,” then you have a faulty concept of what science is, because science is suppose to study reality, and the things that take place in it and effect it. If there is a dimension of this that you leave out, you the are no longer doing honest and open science and are bound to have false answers.


Jesus was Human… So are we: Don’t forget that. He didn’t push His God button.

SO I will start off with two links to pages by N.T. Wright on Jesus self-identity and self-awareness that will shed some light on where I will go in this post.

Jesus’ Self-Understanding

JESUS AND THE IDENTITY OF GOD

And then I will post this link as well, which is another source for this post:

God Button: The Mind of Christ

I shall try to combine an analysis for the two together.

The first point is that we need to remember that Jesus was a HUMAN. So often we lose sight of this, and put Him in this “other” category so that a)we feel we can no longer relate to him, or b)so that we can rationalize why we mess up and sin and He didn’t. Both are dangerous, and both should be forbidden. Yes, Jesus was God, but His humanity was equally important. It had to be a human that lived a perfect life in order for our sins to be pardoned. It had to be someone who dealt with the same things we deal with, but win them all. It had to be a human so that we could relate in times of need, and turn to Him as a perfect example rather than an idealized concept of how things could be if we were God too.

The reason why I think that these three messages relate is because it all comes down to one thing: Jesus was human. It does not deny His God aspect of Himself, but it refines it. Jesus temptation, if anything, was probably greater than anything we face today. He was put in situations where pressing His “God-button”would have alleviated a lot of things, whether for Himself, or, perhaps more interestingly, for others. He easily could have taken Himself off the cross, in some ways proving His divine power. But in doing so, the necessary sacrifice would have been spoiled. he could have restored the city of Jerusalem to power, but knew His spiritual mission was far more important. How often do we live like this? I think one of the major problems in today’s world is that people think that preventing and fixing problems is what makes someone a good person. To a degree, it is. But there is so much more. Physical support is good, but nothing compared to spiritual support. How often do we focus on people’s physical needs above their spiritual needs?

This is not to say that we should not meet physical needs, but in doing so, there is supposed to be more to it than just that.

I think Jesus life shows how to handle this. He didn’t succumb to the worldly pressure to meet physical needs, but was more concerned with spiritual things.

Back to Jesus and how He saw Himself. It would make sense, that in being completely human, He would have His doubts and questions. We all do as humans, and it would be crazy to set Him apart and think that He didn’t as well. For me, this is a major comfort. He persevered through His doubts and held steadfast in the faith, even when He felt rejected. He may have been unsure of Himself even at times, as we all are, but trusted in the Father and the Spirit to work through Him and provide and win in the end. This is something we all need to learn. This dependency upon God. It is such a danger in setting Jesus apart too far away from us, and lose out on this hope that we can be like Him.

I think that fact that the name “Christian” means “little Christ” is so perfect. I mean, how often do we call ourselves that but not think about it? It has come to mean a follower of Jesus, a God-fearing person, but has lost it’s original meaning, which was to follow in His footsteps. In the name itself, it is assumed that we can be like Him. We can’t be God, but we can trust God and utilize the Holy Spirit in the way that Christ did, and in that sense be like Him. I think this is what we are called to do.

I think our issues have multiple origins. The fact that we put halos around His head in pictures, that we have portraits of Him hung up in some churches. We set Him up high, which is good, but too high to reach. That was the problem of the Old Testament. God was too big and impersonal to be reached and trusted in in the manner that He wanted. Which is why He sent His Son, and the Holy Spirit. They were to be the personal, reachable aspects of Himself. In setting them so far above us, we miss out on some of the greatest aspects of their existence. Our relation to them, both in the typical relationship status, but also in how we compare to Christ. He was human, we are human. If we miss out on this, we miss out on a giant reason for why God did things the way He did. It was more than about just saving us, it was about redeeming us, and helping us live the way we were meant to live. If we don’t think of it like this, we are rejecting our greatest ally and advocate in life, and making it that much harder on ourselves.

Jesus was a human. Jesus was God. We are human, and not God. But in His humanity, we can relate to Him much more closely than we often think. Don’t succumb to this pressure. Yes, He was perfect, but He was perfect to show you how it was to be done, and that it was possible. Don’t reject His example.


On the other side of the road…

I recently listened to a sermon on the Good Samaritan… something we talk about far too often it may seem, something we all think we know about. It’s typically told in order for us to see that everybody we come across is a “neighbor” and what it means to be a good Christian is to help out those in need, no matter who they are or their relation to us. And that’s not a bad message. But this focuses solely on what the Good Samaritan did, and I think, after hearing this particular sermon, that there is more to the story.

No, I’m not saying don’t walk alone on dangerous roads because you might get jumped, though that is true. Rather, it’s much more general. Something I had never thought about were the people who passed the man in need of help. They were good people too, well-respected people with important things to do. Not just that, but if they helped this man, they probably could not do their important things since they would be ritually unclean, and performing rituals was their job. You see, we had a priest and a Levite. Men of the temple. They had Godly business to attend to. It wasn’t as though they merely didn’t want to help, maybe they did but had other obligations. And not just selfish obligations, but stuff that served God…

A friend needs to talk, but we have prior obligations, it would be rude to ditch the other thing for your friend, though, since that came first. And a true friend would understand this and not want to interrupt your prior event. You have a softball game Saturday night, a playoff game, and someone from church asks if you can teach a class because they won’t be able to be there. If you don’t go to the game, your team will have to forfeit because they won’t have enough players. You have to politely, yet regretfully, decline because your team is counting on you.

These scenarios are have quite a bit in common. These aren’t just excuses, these are real reasons, legitimate. We are torn, but in the end stick with the plan. Deviating would be too risky, and it would disappoint too many people.

But yet these are the things that Jesus was criticizing, right? He was showing how Godly people, who were trying to be Godly, had their priorities messed up. We aren’t told what this Samaritan was doing, or where he was heading. I wish we were, because I have a feeling he had somewhere important to be too. And he put that on hold, and attended to this man.

How often have we done this? I wish I could say more. I am guilty of it, and I’m sure you are too at some time or another. We have things that we think are important, and yet Jesus is telling us that we have our priorities messed up.

We are walking on the other side of the road.

Part of this is about avoiding the issue to begin with. When we see something that will be trying or difficult, we often make our way around it, trying to pay it as little attention as possible as not to force us to actually make a decision. That way, we don’t feel bad, and can rationalize that we just didn’t see it or it was out of the way. This seems to me to be what the priest and Levite did. They recognized something that was going to call them to act, to make a decision, yet they avoided it, but for God’s sake.

I think there are 3 points being made here. The first is direct, and that is that everybody is our neighbor, since that was the original question that was to be answered. But I think there was a point to the people and situation that we often miss not being in the culture. Anybody listening would have known that the priest and Levite were on their way to the temple. They had duties to fulfill that the people counted on. So Jesus was flipping this on it’s head. It seems clear that this is a point since Jesus makes it other places as well. People are more important than “godliness.” I’ve heard something similar before, “business is not godliness.” People are more important than doing “things,” even if “important.” People are what God is after anyways, not a clean church, not a great sermon, not an well-said prayer. These things mean nothing if not intended to bring people to God.

The preacher emphasized this. He called us not to “walk on the other side of the road.” Calling us not to avoid stuff if at all possible, and to rationalize our actions.

How often do you walk on the other side of the road? At work? At school? Even at home? Can you say that you have dropped what you were doing, though seemingly important, to help someone in need?

If yes, keep up the good work. If no, work on it. It’s important. People matter more to God than anything else, it should be the same for us as well.


Where does God fit into my life?

This past week has been full of awesome thoughts in regards to faith and action and such. Our church has been going through the book of James, discussing a lot of the basic practical applications for a Christian. This past week reminded me of a great video I saw a few years back. The sermon was about submitting to God, while the video was about where God fit into our lives. But they were extremely related in their practice.

First, the sermon merely reflected what it meant to submit to God, which seems so obvious to us, yet so hard to actually do. The whole “Your will be done” idea, not my will. The video was something that merely popped into my head in the middle of the sermon that had a similar effect on me in remembrance as it did the first time. It’s a short animated clip of a boy who has the most awesome house ever, a mansion, with so many cool things inside. One day, he sees a giant ninja statue, and just has to have it, knowing that his house will always seem incomplete without it. He tries to get it in, but it just won’t fit. He can’t find a way to get it in. Instead of giving up his hopes of having it in his house, he decides that this statue is so important, that he will destroy his house and rebuild it around the statue. This is submission to God.

If it isn’t clear, which it didn’t stand out right away for me the first time, or at least not the huge impact it has had on me since, let me explain. God is the ninja statue, not in an idolic sense, but merely in an metaphorical sense. God doesn’t just fit neatly into our lives, it just doesn’t work that way. It’s a “nice” theory, to adapt a lifestyle that has God in it along with other things, since family and work and friends are important too, and they need attention and space as well. But in practice, it leads to a mere nominal Christianity, one that isn’t very Christian at all when you compare it to the “Christianity” that Jesus was asking of us. I put this in quotes because it’s not about the religion or the things that we do. In fact, this was part of the sermon that I thought fit so well into this. Doing the right things just simply isn’t enough.

This requires some more explanation as well. We were left with a question to ponder when it comes to making decisions, “Is this consistent with my call to be a disciple of Christ?” Everything goes through this filter that we say, do, etc. This is where the video comes back in. The tearing down of the house was the radical change that is required for a Christian in their lives. Everything changes. Rather than having some God in one’s life, their life should be built around God. Everything is for Him.

And then comes Steven Curtis Chapman, one of my favorite music artists. He recently released a song called “Do Everything.” The chorus goes like this:

Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

It’s this idea that we should go about every aspect of our lives for God. Eating in thanks, working in praise, doing homework for His glory, playing sports to honor Him, everything. You can’t be a Christian and do these things for yourself, and only go to church or pray for God. It’s a life for God, not a moment or part of your day for God.

So tear down your “nice” houses and rebuild around God. If you find this hard, pray for it. You can’t do it on your own. You need God’s help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

God doesn’t fit in my life, your life. We fit in Him.


Lack of “Child abuse” is why there is a trend to deny Hell. So spank your kids… for God

This may seem crazy at first, but let me explain. By “child abuse” in the title, I simply mean good, old-fashioned child rearing. You know, that crazy one that actually involved punishing bad behavior? Yeah, that. But how in the world would this play into people becoming unorthodox? Let’s take a look…

Psychologists and the like today tend to say that spanking a child is bad and can lead to them being abusive when they are older and mal-developed. I tend to disagree, but I’m no expert I guess. Apparently looking around at behavior exhibited by Gen Y that wasn’t reared what I call properly compared to that of the behavior of Gen X and prior isn’t enough to show these “experts” that they are wrong and that if anything it leads to children being defiant, stuck up SOBs. Yeah, I said it. 50 years ago, no kid would have ever dreamed of calling his mother an inappropriate name because he knew mom would slap him in the face, make him eat soap, and then wait til dad got home, and that was worse. Now, not only is it not uncommon, but I’m surprised if I go to the mall or grocery and I DON’T see it happen. But for some reason the parent takes it in stride and simply gives them a verbal warning, followed by more name calling and back talking from the child, and yet another verbal warning ensues. Effective, eh? Not really. Now that is just one example, and while I don’t have any hard and fast studies to quote here, I reckon that crime in the teen age group as well as behavior and grades in school have dropped as well, and while there may be more than one factor for these, I would bet quite a bit that how children are raised has affected this.

But where does orthodoxy and belief in Hell come in? How about right here. What the child ends up believing is that punishment is evil, and that a parent should never hit a child, and if they do, that’s abuse, and EVIL. What this leads to is the belief that God surely couldn’t punish people if He loves them, right? That’s evil and unloving, and God is supposed to be benevolent and all loving. So while the problem of evil doesn’t concern us quite as much, because this is within the Christian camp and they affirm God exists, and whereas in the problem of evil, we know evil exists and can’t simply deny that to get around the problem, here, we don’t have “evidence” of Hell. Teaching that punishment, that justice, is evil is ludicrous. Its almost as if we are taught that only the REALLY bad people deserve punishment. So murderers and rapists and terrorists, right? But the idea of justice isn’t just that great people get great things and horrendous people get horrendous things, but that decent people get decent things, not so great people get not so great things, etc. You get what you deserve, you reap what you show, you get out what you put in. And this is across the board, and not just for extremes. Otherwise the petty thief shouldn’t be punished because he’s not THAT bad.

This is the world infiltrating Christianity. Let me explain a bit more. In Christianity, a little sin is a big sin. One sin, and you are no longer perfect. It doesn’t matter whether you raped and murdered a child, or whether you disobeyed your parents when they asked you to help clean the dishes. They both separate you from God. That’s the nature of sin. This is not to say that the degree of sin is unimportant in the end, because I think it is since God is perfectly just. But just as a petty thief gets punished some, and a murderer gets punished more, hopefully in a somewhat proportional manner, I would think something along those lines would occur when it comes to sin as well, though I do not have the knowledge to say how it actually works, but I trust that it does. But either way, there is in fact punishment even for menial sins if they are not repented of. Its one and done in God’s eyes if you are outside of Christ. Christ is the only second chance.

And we can also play up emotions to make people think that Hell surely doesn’t exist. Rob Bell likes to do this, he asks if we really think God won’t win in the end, that He won’t get what He wants. Its easy to think that of course He will, He is God. But what Bell doesn’t tell you is that God doesn’t want sin now, or ever, and by giving us free will, He already has relinquished getting completely what He wants because He wants us to choose. And if I choose and God doesn’t, that argument fails.

Certainly nobody likes the idea of Hell and nobody wishes it upon another. But I don’t like that fire causes pain, or that gas costs $4 a gallon, or tests in school, or etc., but that doesn’t mean that that is not the case and that I am better off acting as if they are not the case, because all that would get me would be burned, in prison, and flunked. And in the case of Hell, its eternal, and not something I can possibly fix. Jesus/God said it was real, and that is enough for me. I don’t have to go there to believe in it. So by teaching kids that they should not be punished for bad behavior in the home, that they should not be punished in school, that things should be changed so that they can succeed, they start to think that that is how the world is. It isn’t. God doesn’t change for me. I change for Him. Hell isn’t designed for me and He doesn’t want me there, but I get to choose. If I don’t change, well…

Proper child rearing, therefore, not only leads to better behavior and more respect of others, it will lead to more orthodox beliefs in things like Hell and justice. So spank your kids… for God. It will do them good.