Category Archives: Christian fellowship

Do you own your body and your life?

I want to tread carefully here not because I’m afraid of being controversial but because some of the things I will write can be easily misconstrued. The events over the last few weeks have really been heavy on my heart. Fortunately, I’ve been so busy with work and family that I haven’t had a chance to really think about it until now.

In particular, two events come to mind – the tragic suicide of Robin Williams and the death of 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. I haven’t done an exhaustive search of all the details in either case but if you are on any kind of social media network, you’ve undoubtedly seen something about both. At the time I’m writing this, there’s been a huge amount of uproar in how people are reacting to both events. Like a self-sustaining neutron bomb, it’s reached the point where people are reacting to people’s reactions (which is, I guess, exactly what I’m doing).

In both instances, someone died. Williams apparently committed suicide after a long bout with addiction, depression, and I’ve even heard he was battling physical disability with Parkinson’s. Brown was shot and killed by a police officer after being questioned, potentially as a convenient store robbery suspect.

As I had mentioned, the circumstances around both deaths have caused a lot of people to draw lines in the proverbial sand. Camps are popping up on all sides and there’s no shortage of outrage. Some are sympathetic to Robin’s choice to end his own life while others are condemning him to hell for doing so. I’ve read some say Williams somehow embodies the left-wing political ideology just because of the fact that he was depressed despite his riches and fame (as if rich and famous right-wing conservatives never suffer from depression or take their own lives). Some are calling his death a choice. Others say he had no choice.

Many are standing firm with the Ferguson police force and justifying any use of force as a result of non-compliance. Others are using this as an opportunity to riot and loot. Some are pointing out that racism is alive and well in 2014. Others are saying economic disparity is the villain here. Some are calling for the demilitarization of local law enforcement and stricter requirements for the use of deadly force. Others are saying we need to arm police even more and give them greater flexibility to use force in order to “keep the peace”. Details of the timeline of events keep coming out calling into question whether the officer who killed Brown was acting in self-defense or whether Brown was caught on video robbing the store just minutes before.

This all made me think about life and death and ask –

Do you own your own body and your life?

For now, I’m not talking about our possessions like our homes, cars, and property. I mean literally our physical bodies and the life force / spirit that indwells it.

We don’t have any control over the circumstances of our own births. No one asked me if I wanted to be born. But as for how I will die, do I have any say in the matter?

The concept of ownership probably requires clarification. Amazingly, our preacher Lyndon Shook, who is going through the 1st chapter of the book of Colossians, spoke on this very topic last Sunday. This week, Lyndon focused on Col 1:16, speaking of Jesus Christ, – “16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

What Paul is saying to us in this letter to the church in Colossae is that Christ owns everything and everyone because He created everything / everyone. Period. Now, some atheist libertarian friends of mine may reject being owned because it violates free will. My response would be that you can choose to deny His authority and ownership of you, but it doesn’t change the fact. My children may grow up someday and want to disassociate themselves from me. Doesn’t change the fact that biologically speaking, they are my offspring.

So how are we to react and live in light of the fact that nothing, not even our own lives, are truly our property? Does our lack of ownership abdicate any responsibility for how we use it? Absolutely not. The consistent theme throughout history from Creation to the coming of Revelations is that we all have responsibilities and accountability for the things with which we have been entrusted. True, we don’t own our bodies. But Christ has given them to us to use for His glory.

While I may have limited authority / use of my own body in light of Christ’s ultimate ownership of me, there’s no way I would support the notion that someone other than Christ has superseding authority to my life over me. That makes absolutely no sense. No state, no government, no agency, no mercenary, no thug with a whip, no employer, doctor or scholar has rights over my life before me and after Christ.

For this reason, almost to an extreme, I oppose the use of deadly force. I won’t go so far to say I’m a pacifist, but the more I age, the more likely I am to reject killing someone over a violation of an arbitrary law. I certainly don’t understand how theft of any kind can justify taking someone’s life. I further don’t understand how we, as Americans, have grown increasingly complacent with people just doing their job which may result in killing someone.

I’m not justifying criminals. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be punished. My point is that we need to seriously scrutinize any further use of deadly force as a society.

(I’ve already addressed one reader’s questioning God’s commanding His armies to kill His enemies, so I won’t repeat that here.)

Before I go any further and write about suicide, let me state this because I have no idea of all the people that read my blog.

No matter how bad things look, no matter how much you think no one will miss you if you were gone, no matter how many times you’ve tried and failed to live your life right – your life is precious and worth keeping.

I know some pro-life Christians, which I consider myself to be, have issues with suicide. I can understand that given the verse above and the acknowledgement of Christ’s ownership of each of us — that taking one’s own life could be seen as a blatant attempt to reject His authority to end our lives naturally and according to His time. To that argument, I have no rebuttal.

The question is – what are the consequences? If you are a professing Christian, if you have accepted Christ as your savior, if you are suffering some kind of emotional or physical ailment and have little hope for relief, if you’ve had just about enough of the growing darkness in this world and how horrible some people can be to each other, and you just want it to end so that you can live the rest of eternity in His glory – will He reject you as a result? I don’t see that in the Scriptures.

As a youth and even a young adult, I’ve thought about suicide. There were times I had just about given up. Not that I gave up hope and faith in Christ or that His sacrifice was sufficient once and for all. I’d given up on finding anything in this life that was important enough to delay meeting my Savior.

I will, however, say that as I’ve aged, got married to the love of my life and started to raise a family, and more importantly, as I’ve matured in my faith and walk with Christ, I now have a better appreciation for Philippians 4:4-13.

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Meditate on These Things

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippian Generosity

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I, too, continue to learn to be content. It’s a peace that surpasses all worldly understanding. That doesn’t mean that life is easy. Every day is a struggle. Every day I’m faced with the harshness that this life can bring. For those without hope, life itself can be a heavy burden. I can still empathize with those who just want their suffering or pain to end.

I hope and pray that if you are reading this and you are at that point in your life, you will ask the Lord Jesus to give you His peace. He is faithful and He is good. There are still good people in this life. There are friendships and causes for which our suffering will seem small by comparison.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the Lord.” — Psalm 104:33-34

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Do Results Matter or Are Good Intentions Enough?

As a preview to my next post, I’m curious what some of my readers think about this topic. I have a pretty diverse group of people reading my blog from Libertarians / Anarchists to Conservative Christians and even a few Socialist / Liberals.

So what do you think? Do the Ends justify the Means or do the Means justify the End?

What happens when you discover your good intentions are not yielding the results you were hoping to see?

What if your assumptions were totally wrong to begin with? Hindsight is 20/20, so I’m not talking about re-writing history. I’m asking in general, if you have a plan and start to see your plan backfire, what do you do?

What if you thought God was leading you down a path and suddenly, it appears this was not the right decision. Was it all for naught?

More to come . . .

Readership is up 233%!

I’m not exactly sure what prompted it, but my followers count has jumped to 14 up from 6 in just a week. (That’s not including those that use the RSS feed). I’m humbled, to be certain, that total strangers out there would care what I have to say. Oftentimes, I wonder if I’m actually making a difference by writing. I hope it causes you to wrestle with your morals – to either question and re-evaluate or else to holdfast and serve as confirmation.

As a Christian, I have certainty in the reason for my belief. But what’s wonderful and mysterious is how God chooses to reveal truth to me each and every day. As I mature in faith, my hope is that I recognize just how much God has done for a sinner like me and to extend that Grace to those around me. Matthew 18:23-35 (NKJV)

The Limits of Personal Liberty

Here’s a very interesting topic posed by Julie Borowski on Facebook:

Status Update

By Julie Borowski

Judging from previous discussions, I would say most people on this page are pro-drug legalization and pro-life. They believe people should be able to put whatever they want into their own bodies, no matter how dangerous. They also believe that pregnancy involves at least two bodies– the mother and the baby. So, here goes: should a pregnant women be allowed to use cocaine? Or is she violating someone else’s rights (non-aggression principle)?

 

I was so interested in her post and the comments that followed because it cuts right to heart of several topics of debate around Liberty all at once. It’s also perfectly timed as I’ve been engaged in a heated debate with some of my friends over the, now defunct, AZ 1062 Bill to ‘allow’ business owners to control who they will do business with, even if that may open the doors to discrimination. I say ‘allow’ in quotes because I think this is a faulty starting point. I believe this is a natural right to begin with (the right to choose who to transact business with and under what terms) and any infringement on that right would require legislation / force — one of many reasons why I didn’t support passing the bill. In other words, it’s directionally correct, but misses the mark on application. But, I digress.

On Julie’s topic, there are so many emotions that get stirred up. I don’t think anyone can read it without some strong initial opinions. But if you take a step back and calm yourself down, let’s try to look at this from a number of different angles. The first is the pro-life basis. You have to believe that an unborn is a viable being and thus would have rights equal to the born. Unless we can agree on this point, the rest of the case won’t make any sense. It’s just a matter of whether drugs should be legal / illegal. More on that point in a minute.

I believe strongly, as many libertarians do, that an unborn is viable, has thoughts / feels pain / and can visibly show signs of a will to live. There are many libertarians that, however, believe life begins at birth and that unborns don’t have rights. From a spiritual aspect, I believe the unborn have a soul and spirit. So to me, whether the child is born or unborn, whether we’re talking gestation of 5 weeks vs. 5 years from birth, it’s the same comparison.

On the topic of drug legalization. I’ve posted many thoughts on this blog and Facebook that the prohibition of ANY kind of drug, alcohol, narcotic, chemical, or substance is not only impractical, but it also violates our natural right to freedom of choice. Most of my critics will immediately assume I encourage the use of all these substances, for recreation or otherwise. There’s a big difference, in my mind, between encouraging use vs. being opposed to state-run prohibition. Again, if you are a reader of mine, none of this should come as a surprise.

Now we get to the meat of the quandary. What are we, as a society of individuals, to do with the case at hand? On the one side, you have the rights of the mother-to-be which include her rights to get high, overeat, drink coffee or alcohol, drive recklessly, watch violent movies, . . . you get the idea. . . . VS. the rights of the baby to be born healthy and the likely addiction to cocaine being force-fed through her mother.

Ultimately, this topic leads us to consider the Limits of Personal Liberty because within this debate, someone’s personal freedom will have to be curtailed. I’ve been accused of holding personal liberty as some moral absolute, without exception, which I have on more than one occasion dispelled. I believe there are instances where personal liberty must have limits. Clearly, this should be one of those examples of an exception to the rule, no? Well, let’s think about that a moment.

First, there’s the impracticality aspect of prohibition. We’ve already established that the threat of prison, confiscation of property, or even the loss of your life by some overzealous DEA agent storming down your door with guns blazing is not an adequate deterrent to use drugs. Our jails are bursting from overpopulation of non-violent, victimless ‘criminals’ wanting to get high.

Secondly, there’s the question of where to draw the line. Certainly, the same case for the harm a pregnant mother using cocaine can cause on her unborn child can be argued for mothers that smoke cigarettes, eat too much fast food, don’t get enough prenatal vitamins, drink too much caffeine, or even go skydiving.

But then there is the issue of the baby’s rights. Does a child have the right to be born free from addiction or the health consequences that follow? Can an unborn speak his claim on these rights and does your ability to voice your opposition have any weight on the decision?

Though I’ll admit I haven’t done extensive research or deep thinking on the topic, here’s what immediately comes to my mind.

How do we balance each person’s rights? If you’re familiar with concepts of liberty, one frequently quoted principle is the Non-Aggression Principle as Julie had alluded to. The NAP basically states that any use of or threat of using physical force against an individual – with the exception of self-defense – is illegitimate. Many libertarians, though not all, use the NAP as the basis for which to develop most of their philosophy. On this basis, you have subsequent philosophies that grow into the proper role of government, the balance of one’s rights against another’s, and can even lead one to the conclusion that ANY form of government that is not totally based on voluntary participation is illegitimate.

For me, the jury is still out on whether the NAP is the basis for my philosophy of Liberty or whether it happens to be a resulting coincidence. They are definitely related somehow. On that note, I would say the only legitimate limitations of Personal Liberty would be similar to what John Stuart Mill had written about the harm principle – “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others”.

The Criticisms of the NAP on the MISES wiki is a very good summary of some of the most common arguments against (and counter-arguments still supporting) the NAP. As it relates to the case in hand, I think the strongest case for limiting personal liberty (on behalf of protecting the unborn baby) would fall under the Consequentialist or utilitarian criticism or what I’ll just call the ‘greater good’. In many ways, the arguments made against my stance on businesses being allowed to discriminate could be categorized into this ‘greater good’ bucket.

I will have to admit that this case is not easy for me to lay out in black and white. As I started out in this post, there’s obviously a lot of emotion that can (and should) be weighed in thinking about this. The one thing I will add from my personal philosophy, which is not absolute and is always changing the more I learn and experience and God reveals to me, is that ultimately, 1) God will hold each of us accountable for our own actions and that 2) He can do anything according to His good and perfect will.

That’s not meant to sound fatalistic or like a cop out. I truly believe that God can save babies meant for abortion, that He can use a baby born addicted to crack for His glory, that He can miraculously bring an addict to her knees to get clean and rely on His power and might.

So what do I think about the limits on Personal Liberty? I think we, as a society of individuals, must also show compassion and mercy and love for our mothers that would disregard the health of her unborn child to feed her addiction before we are so quick to jump on how best to punish her. I think we need to embrace and support babies that are born with health issues to mothers that can’t or won’t care for them, regardless of whether it’s from a perceived known or unknown cause.

Jesus was once questioned whether it was a blind man’s parents or himself that had sinned and caused his blindness. His answer? Neither. He was born blind so that the works of God could be revealed in him.

There is so much in this world that we cannot control. We cannot even control everything that directly impacts us. But ultimately, I believe each one of us has to give an account for the choices and decisions that each of us made concerning those few things under our jurisdictions. Give your brother and sister their God given rights and responsibilities to reap what they sow. Respect personal liberty, not as an axiom standing on its own, but as you would have done to yourself.

Can Christians be Libertarians?

Wow!  Can’t believe it’s been 10 months since I last posted here.  I’ve been doing a lot of my ranting on Facebook, so I guess that’s satisfied my need to vent.

In between all of my rants for liberty, I’m often faced with the charge that I’m more Libertarian than Christian, that somehow the two can’t coexist.  If I don’t support:

  • keeping gay marriage illegal,
  • incarcerating pot smokers or dealers,
  • having Creationism taught in public schools,
  • the growing police state (eg. if you have nothing to hide, you wouldn’t be so worried about them / have you read Romans 13?),
  • pledging allegiance to a flag,
  • restricting hate speech against Christians / encouraging hate speech against Muslims,
  • Israel’s right to ___ unconditionally

then apparently, I’m choosing Liberty over the Bible.

There’s actually a FB group called “Christian libertarians (New)” which I read every now and then.  There are some good ideas and discussions posted, but sometimes it turns into this “I’m more Christian / Libertarian than you” bickering back and forth which I get enough of already elsewhere.

So where does that leave me?  It’s actually not very complicated, but because we’re all walking around with our own preconceived notions and labels, most of the conversations I have are spent re-defining terms for the average Joe Christian.

Take for example Marijuana.  In most States, it’s completely illegal to use, sell, possess, or produce.  In some, it’s legal for “medicinal” purposes.  In Colorado, it’s totally legal, though the production / distribution is now regulated.  Now, do I believe the use of pot is heretical?  I’m not convinced.  Yes, scripture tells us to be of sound judgement and sober in spirit.  To that end, I think it’s “lawful, but not profitable”.

But when it comes to Liberty and my Faith, the one thing I come back to time and again is that the STATE in no way, shape, or form will determine for me what is righteousness according to God’s Word.  Think about how laws are written in this country.  Basically, a handful of politically connected, influential and powerful organizations bribe their way into Legislators’ pocketbooks to get the laws they want passed.  Even if democracy (read: Mob Rule) worked the way your 8th grade civics books taught you, do you believe God’s Law will stand up to a 51% popular vote?

Does God need the STATE to enforce / establish His laws?  Do you believe the STATE speaks on His behalf?

Being a student of Economics, I can also tell you that the universal truth of STATE legislation is that all the good intentions leading up to a law will have unforeseen / unintended consequences that either negate the original goal, make matters worse, and will ultimately remove choice from individuals.  Is the goal of Christians (that rally for larger STATE protections) to ultimately remove any possibility of choosing to sin in this world?  If we pass just the right laws, will we all live in perfect holiness?  How did that work out for the Old Testament Israelites?

(Grrr.  I had written a couple more paragraphs, but I’ve somehow lost them.  Here’s my attempt to re-write)

If you’ve read any of my previous posts here or on FB, you know that I believe the Bible is God’s inerrant and complete Word.  I also believe that every man and woman must take responsibility for the choices he makes, bear the consequences and rewards, and someday give an account for his life.

You can’t force me into heaven by taking away the availability of drugs, alcohol, violent movies, short shorts, or girly magazines.  You can’t keep me from sinning by locking me up, taking away all my possessions or threatening me with violence.

We, as Christians, need to show the world Christ.  We need to do it without the use of force.  When we use any kind of force, we are sending a message of works-based salvation.  GOD’S Law will convict the soul and reveal the need for Salvation.  It is then that Christ’s free gift of redemption can be shared.