Monthly Archives: June 2015

Where is your hope and faith?

It’s been almost a full week of a self-imposed sabbatical from Facebook and shockingly, the world continued to move forward.  I had no profound reason for taking the break other than I want to see how long I could go without the daily facepalms and pulling out my already thinning hairline.  Still, there were some big events this week worth discussing.  One event in particular, that I’m sure has been blowing up FB, was likely also a topic covered by pastors and preachers from pulpits all around the world this Sunday morning.  This is, of course, the 5-4 SCOTUS ruling that States could no longer prohibit homosexual couples from getting a marriage license.

Based on some of the conversations I’ve had with friends, I imagine that some Christians (and other believers of faith which prohibit such unions) are wallowing in the ruling, lamenting over the failure of the Right Wing to mobilize enough petitions or grass-roots community protests ahead of the vote.  Others may be asking how things got “so bad”, how our country founded on Judeo-Christian doctrine could allow such an abomination.  I’m sure there are others looking down their noses and pointing to the failure of Democrats or fathers or the church or the media or women’s lib or the Kardashians to blame for the current state of society.

As a Christian first, and a Libertarian second, I’m not surprised at the outcome of the ruling.  I can honestly say that I knew this day was coming sooner rather than later.  I also can say that this doesn’t change a single thing for me.  And if there are some of you out there that fit the description above, I think you need to re-evaluate where you put your faith.

KEEP CALM

I’ve written previously that the government should get out of the marriage licensing business altogether, which is a popular political viewpoint shared among Libertarians.  I still think grown, consenting adults should not be legally prevented from marrying whoever they want.  The State has no business sanctioning or prohibiting any kind of marriage.  Many Christians take my attitude as a cop-out or that I’m somehow watering down God’s law in place of Man’s law.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The difference is simply that I don’t think the State can or should try to prevent sin through its various mechanisms of coercion (fines, imprisonment, theft of property, life and liberty).  The State is not our judge.  That place of honor is reserved only for Christ.  And Christ does not need the local police, city council, state representatives, federal judges or the POTUS in order for His will to be done.

In Romans chapter 1, Paul writes about the depravity of man.  He lays out quite clearly that man has a sinful nature and that we ALL fall short of God’s holy standard.  For the unbelieving sinner, this is foolishness.  Why should I not fulfill every pleasure or desire I have without an ounce of guilt, simply because God is holy?

On this point, I don’t understand why more Christians don’t seem to grasp this simple concept that sinners are going to sin and do so boldly.  No laws, no policeman, no threats of violence or wars or imprisonment are going to stop that.  What’s even more perplexing to me is how Statist Christians try to legislate God’s law into Man’s courts thinking this will somehow redeem the lost.

More importantly, how does God deal with man’s sin?  Verses 24, 26, and 28 in Romans Chapter 1 clearly states that God “gave them up” or “gave them over” to their sinful natures (and those of you that study God’s word will know to pay particular attention to anything repeated not just once but twice).

What does this mean?  God is not shielding or preventing man from following their sinful natures.  We must choose to follow our own consciences whether we will follow our stomachs or follow Christ.  We must choose whether to guard our eyes and ears from watching questionable movies and pictures so readily available on the internet.  We must choose whether our mouths will spout profane language, and not just because states like Virginia that want to fine you if you do.

As a Christian, I understand that I’m saved by faith in Christ through grace, not by my works.  Our moral living and obedience to God’s law does not earn us salvation or God’s love.  But our desire to live in holiness it is our reaction, our realization of our salvation.  It is not the mechanism by which we are saved.

To me, it’s clear that our faith, our morals, and our standard has absolutely nothing to do with Man’s Laws.  The government does not provide a roadmap for moral living and that was never the intended purpose for it in the first place.

For those that believe that the latest SCOTUS ruling somehow damages God’s plan for marriage, I ask YOU whether you’ve pursued adulterers and divorcees with the same frothing fervor as homosexuals seeking a marriage license.  I would be willing to bet that some of the most vocal opponents to this ruling have been divorced or looked lustfully at another person or even had adulterous relationships.  What does God’s plan for marriage have to say about that?

For those Christians that are still confused, disillusioned, or losing faith in ‘Murica over this ruling, I want to encourage you to step back and remember God is sovereign.  There’s nothing that catches Him by surprise.  This ruling should likewise not change an iota of your faith.

If anything, I pray this development has opened your eyes to the realization that putting our faith in the laws of the land, or the Congress, or the President, or the Supreme Court is folly and you will ultimately be let down someday.

But instead of lamenting, as our preacher shared this morning, rejoice and have the perspective of 1 Peter 4:12-13 “12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  Similarly, as Christ preached in Matthew 5:6 and 10 “6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. . . . 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

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When can we question Romans 13?

ROMANS 13:1-7 (NKJV) —  13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

I pose this question to my Christian readers out there in light of an increasingly, unsettling trend we’re seeing every day.  Most recently, an incident took place, practically in my backyard, that’s drawing national attention concerning an overzealous (now former) cop trying to control a mob at a graduation pool part in McKinney, TX.  Nothing like the next town over making national headlines for something as ugly as this.

So I ask, are we ever to challenge authority, particularly government authority?  Do we have the moral right to do so?  Has God given us clear instruction in Romans 13 to simply trust and obey our government at all cost?  Never question the police or military or a government agency?  Just obey?

I’ve asked, and been asked, this line of questioning on social media at length.  What’s shocking to me is how quickly neo-cons, Right Wing Conservatives, and many Christians will jump to defend blanket obedience.  

Yes, obey.  Always.  Period.

It’s their knee jerk reaction when you point out things like the growing number of altercations between the Police/Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) and citizens.  Even before any facts are disseminated or witness accounts are publicized, these folks will usually approach any dispute with this line of thinking —

Did the accused obey the LEO’s instructions?  No?  Then they got what they deserved.

This line of reasoning can easily spill over then to things like our foreign policy / global police force and waging decades of endless wars.  This could be used to justify taxation of any amount, for any purpose, deemed necessary by the State.  It apparently empowers the State, and anyone acting under the umbrella authority of the State, with divine calling and justification.

If you hold that Romans 13 does in fact communicate this unquestioned obedience, let’s unpack a couple Biblical and contemporary scenarios to test it against that lens.

Consider the actions of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (aka Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego).  These were men taken captive but ultimately elevated within the king’s court.  They were blessed by God with wisdom, understanding, and prophecy.  Despite being given literally the royal treatment, they would not bow or worship anyone / anything other than God.  Did they dishonor God by disobeying their earthly rulers?  Of course not.  In fact, God blessed and protected them against fiery furnaces and a den of hungry lions.

“Yeah, that’s Old Testament”, you may be saying.  “What about something in the NT?”  Look no further than Peter and the apostles throughout the book of Acts, but particularly Peter’s response to a government decree to stop preaching the gospel of Christ (Acts 5:27-29).

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”  29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

Was Peter violating God’s ordained ruling class?  Of course not.  The point is that clearly, there are multiple examples throughout the Scriptures that hold Christians accountable to live peaceably with the governing authorities, but also to stand firm on God’s laws rather than blindly obeying the government placed in charge.  How many apostles were martyred, imprisoned and beaten for disobeying the government?

Now I’ve been told that there are NO such examples today, particularly in the comforts of the United States, of government requiring us to violate God’s law.  All our laws and rulers are legit and thus, we must obey without question.

So let’s look at the last 240 years of US History.  Our nation was born in an act of rebellion.  In 1776, we declared independence from a tyrant.  We claimed sovereign authority over our God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Not only that, but about 3 years prior, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty dumped British tea into Boston Harbor in an act of protest over taxation.

I would venture to bet that many of these neo-cons and right wingers that are pushing Total Allegiance and Obedience to the law / LEOs applauded our Declaration of Independence and the Boston Tea Party.  In fact, many of them have even taken on that name as a political group.

Speaking of allegiance, how does a professing Christian reconcile Pledging Allegiance to a Flag or to the Republic for which it stands when Scripture clearly instructs us to only pledge allegiance to Christ.  Not Christ then country.  Christ.  Period.

Can you have pride in your town, neighborhood, region or homeland?  I suppose.  Can you be thankful you live here vs. another place on earth that is not as prosperous or not as mildly tolerant of your faith?  I don’t see why not.  But pledging ALLEGIANCE?  Beware, Christians.

Exodus 20:1-6 (NKJV) —

And God spoke all these words, saying:

Look at some of the other events over the last couple centuries in the US.  Slavery and Jim Crow laws, alcohol prohibition, inter-racial marriage prohibition, conscription, welfare / medicaid, taxpayer funded Obamacare / abortions, government controlled education (including Darwinism / evolution), and even some places where Sharia Law is trying to be introduced.

If you maintain that Romans 13 does not give you the option to pick and choose when to obey and not obey the government, then you MUST submit to all of the above.  Whichever party wins the election every 2-4 years, you are pledging obedience to the law of the land.

I submit to you, fellow Christians, that we must put Romans 13 in the context of our conscience, God’s Word, and our charge to Love God and Love One Another upon which all the law hangs.  This does not give us license to simply live in total rebellion to government for our own selfish, and potentially sinful, desires.  This does, however, place a measure of responsibility on you to THINK and PRAYERFULLY consider before you simply comply or judge those that call to question immoral people, behaviors, laws, and rulers.

One post script thought.

Since beginning this post, Cpl. Eric Casebolt has chosen to resign from the McKinney police department.  Police Chief Greg made comments to the press that “the actions of Eric Casebolt are indefensible,” saying the officer was “out of control during the incident.”  “I had 12 officers on the scene and 11 of them performed according to their training.”

If the chief, who is supposedly ordained by Romans 13, comes out and denounces a crazed, psychotic rouge gun, how can there STILL be Christians running to defend him?  Does that not violate your support and allegiance to Chief Greg and the entire McKinney Police Department entrusted under his care?

Lincoln: Hero or Villain?

Challenge all the State has ever taught you.

Trying Liberty

As a disclaimer I would like to note that I am not a defender of the Confederacy, or any regime that would support slavery. My goal is to simply demonstrate how one of the most well regarded presidents made some very questionable decisions. The following questions were taken from a blog by Clyde Wilson, a professor of history at the University of South Carolina. Spoiler alert: the answer to every question is President Lincoln.

What American President launched a massive invasion of another country that posed no threat, and without a declaration of war?

What President said that he had to violate the Constitution in order to save it?

What President said he was indifferent to slavery but would use any force necessary to collect taxes?

What President sent the Army to arrest in the middle of the night thousands of private citizens for expressing their opinions? And held them…

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