Saturday, December 20, 2014

Good Words, and from a Conservative, No Less (5)

My response to this email.
So there it is, I guess.
It is time for just governments to call upon the true God for help, and then to use the sword to suppress real evil, to defend the righteous, and to demand unconditional surrender. And if little ones get dashed upon the rocks in the process, well that is the price that is paid for defying the living God.
No just war crap.
No limited objectives: we have the right to rule the world.
No absolute last resort: just assume the enemy is implacable and fire away.
No weighing of benefits against cost: what we do on Sunday mornings is so precious that it’s worth any price, even if those who pay the price are those we are supposed to evangelize, those of whom Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.” (At the rate American children are spurning Jesus, maybe the best way to get them to go to Jesus would be to kill them en masse.)
And no limit of the means of violence to what is discriminate or proportional: kill and maim them now and for generations to come, and not only them, but people wherever the dust of what used to be their cities drifts to.
I hold no illusions about my ability to live under an oppressive government. If I bitch as much about Uncle Sam as I do, I can be sure I’d bitch under ISIS. Either that or I’d be such a chicken I’d shut up so my lifespan wouldn’t be measured in seconds. And while beheading is better than many ways to die, I dare not boast that I’d be anything but a simpering maggot when my turn at the chopping block came.
More importantly, contrary to the impression I have given my interlocutor, I do believe that there is a time for war and a time to kill. It is on that basis that my question for the American evangelical community, and specifically for the elders of my church, for more than a decade has been this: “Is this the time for war? Is this the time to kill? God forbids us to kill invaders in our own houses if the sun is up (Ex 22:2-3). By what logic do we slaughter innocents overseas in the name of protecting ourselves? Is there good reason to believe that Uncle Sam has been lying to us?”
I think I’ve gotten all the answer I’m going to get.
But I can’t shut up. I close with this:
I actually think that if the back of this ideology is broken - if its adherents can be shown that the god in whom they trust is actually weak and ineffective, unable to save them and unable to accomplish his purposes in this world, that they will be more inclined to turn to the true and living God.
Is that how it worked for the hippies? When we found out that “all you need is love” was a lie, how many of us came to Christ? How many Democrats, whose policies have given us unaffordable health care and ghettos seething with hate, are turning to Christ? How many Republicans are turning to Christ now that one of their staunchest defenders says their party is no different from the Democrats? For that matter, how many conservatives are turning to Christ on the basis of Christian support for the wars period?
Showing Joe or Ahmad that his god is bankrupt isn’t enough. He needs to see an alternative. We need to build that alternative, and we can’t do it if we’re going to cast our lot in with Uncle Sam.
No man can serve two masters: you can’t serve God and Uncle Sam. You can thank God for Uncle Sam when he does something that both is just and benefits people, and you can certainly thank God that Uncle Sam isn’t as bad as some local deities. But that’s entirely different from loving him (except as an enemy) and trusting him and casting your lot in with him. Every penny and every second that he takes is money and time taken from Jesus.
Do you want to educate children? Stop voting taxes for anti-Christian schools and instead start Christian schools and educational co-ops.
Do you want to heal the sick? Stop voting for candidates who promise to do it through the state and join Christian health care cooperatives.
Do you want to keep everyone from common criminals to ISIS at bay? Buy an arsenal and get your friends and trustworthy neighbors to do the same. Make sure you all know how to use weapons so your three-year-olds don’t kill themselves. Join like-minded people in networks that will pursue peace when it’s the time for peace, who will wage war when it’s time to wage war, and who will be willing to die when it’s the time to die.
I think it’s rather obvious that the presidents and Congressmen who have given us ISIS cannot be trusted to do justice or love mercy, let alone to walk humbly with God. Nor can the people who elected them. The sooner we stop considering them our fellow countrymen and start considering them enemies to be loved into the kingdom that is our true country, the better. If our love is to be more than words, we need time, money, and heart. We need as much of all three as we can get, which means we give as little to Uncle Sam as we can get away with.

Good Words, and from a Conservative, No Less (4)

My interlocutor's response to this email.
Not all who do evil in the world do it because violence has been done against them. Sometimes they do it because of ideology. For me this evil is ideologically driven and is indiscriminately perpetrated against all who disagree with them, whether Americans, Europeans, Australians, Africans, and even their own fellow countrymen (including children) who don't hold to their unique views. The idea that all of the bloodshed perpetrated by this like-minded group is the direct result of America's sins does not hold up. The idea that if America just stops acting violently then everyone will get along seems naive to me in light of the fact that violence against those who do not share the views of this group is built into their world view. There is no negotiating with an ideology that has at its core the idea that Christians and Jews must be subdued/eliminated and that makes conversion to Christ an offense punishable by death. The idea of a free society in which everyone gets to practice his or her own religion without fear and repression is not in their vocabulary. I could not practice my faith in their country, but they are free to practice theirs here. That says something to me. That is worth defending. At least it is to me. And those who would seek to do away with this way of life (because that is their goal) should be resisted and defeated. 

The golden rule is a way of life, it is not a peace-making technique. Frankly if I were beheading children because they believed in Christ, I should expect the civil authorities to execute justice upon me - to do unto me as I have done unto others. There are good guys in the world. There are those who are more righteous than others, those who stand for what is good and right. To put everyone in the same boat so that no one ever has the right to hold someone else accountable is very cynical. Whether you like it or not God has given the sword to the civil authorities for a reason, and it's not for the purpose of pursuing biblical peacemaking. Yes the authorities can use that sword in wrong ways, and when that happens they must be held accountable. The answer to the abuse of power is not to take all power away from government, but to put people in positions of power who hold to what is good, and right, and true. The alternative is to just give license to those who want to take away from me my freedom to serve Christ (and also my life). But that's not right. It is not just. It does not comply with the rule of the King of kings, and so it is the obligation of earthly governments to do something about it. And if they don't they will have to answer to Christ who gave them the sword for the very purpose of protecting and defending the righteous.

We are talking here about an ideology that is not only anti-freedom, but anti-Christian. It is not that it just has ideas that are different from America and from Christianity, it has ideas that would mean the end of America and Christianity. Those who have the power and rightful authority of the sword should not allow this to propagate. It is a dangerous and threatening ideology that needs to be forcefully repressed. The horse and mule must be controlled by bit and bridle. Regrettably the U.S. did not exercise enough force in shaping the governments established in these countries once their secular dictators were toppled. It gave the religious groups that were previously held at bay by harsh and authoritarian rule to now flourish and to seize power. The result is that Christians are worse off now than they were under the dictators. The genie needs to be put back in the bottle. These people don't want a free society - a society in which there is freedom for Christians and Jews. And so it should not be left up to them to decide in some sort of "democratic" process. People should not be allowed to democratically choose evil.  Instead a free society should be demanded of them and if necessary, imposed upon them. But because of political correctness and hand-wringing over past sins, I don't think that the U.S. government has the will to do what it would actually take to reverse things, and that is something that will continue to haunt us as a nation for a long time to come.

I actually think that if the back of this ideology is broken - if its adherents can be shown that the god in whom they trust is actually weak and ineffective, unable to save them and unable to accomplish his purposes in this world, that they will be more inclined to turn to the true and living God. So, no, I don't see that biblical peacemaking is what is called for here. That would be casting pearls before swine. Those who would practice it would be laughed at and would lose their heads, and no peace would be gained for their trouble, and no one would be drawn to Christ. It is time for just governments to call upon the true God for help, and then to use the sword to suppress real evil, to defend the righteous, and to demand unconditional surrender. And if little ones get dashed upon the rocks in the process, well that is the price that is paid for defying the living God. I pray that God would raise up godly and fearless leaders who are willing to do what needs to be done in these perilous times.

Good Words, and from a Conservative, No Less (3)

My response to this email.

Twelve years ago we had a Republican president and a Republicanj Congress that did a pretty thorough job of exactly what you say here you want. Click here to see what else they did.

The weapons your heroes used were so effective against the women who survived them that the Iraqi minister of health recommended that people in the affected areas not have children at all because the rate of birth defects was so high.

I would submit that any reasonable person whose family or friends were blessed with these children and who connected Christianity in any way with what happened to them would be well within his rights to consider Christians bad neighbors and do everything in his power to get those Christians to convert, leave, or die.

I remember hearing of no evangelical Christian going to Kuwait in the name of Jesus before Desert Storm to save the babies from being thrown out of the incubators. I do know that a Republican administration told Saddam it was no biggie if he invaded Kuwait to begin with, and their friends in the arms industry made gigabucks (not to mention winning a publicity landslide) out of Desert Storm.

I've heard of no evangelical Christian going to either Washington or Baghdad in the name of Jesus to stop the deaths (500/week) from the Clinton sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, but I've seen a Clinton administration official tell the world that they knew what they were doing and considered it worth it.

I've read the fatwa Osama issued in 1998 declaring jihad against the US government, not the American people, but I have never heard of an evangelical Christian going in the name of Jesus to try to put Ken Sande's principles into practice in conversation with him.

And, of course, after 9/11, instead of suggesting that Americans look at the beam in their own eye before taking out the mote in the Muslim world's eye, Mr. Evangelicalism Himself, Billy Graham, simply told us to pull together as a nation.

Maybe the reason jihadists don't respond to anything but dominant force is that that's all they ever get from our side. And no, I don't think the billions in "humanitarian aid" we've sent there over the years counts: the purpose of bread and circuses here and abroad is to keep the slaves from revolting, and everything that didn't go to bread and circuses over there was taken from the pockets of middle-class Americans (as was the bread-and-circuses budget) and put in the pockets of rich, compliant foreigners. The people over there who aren't in the crony loops hate the US puppets, and ISIS has a golden opportunity to provide an alternative. (Being a state -- in fact, as the powers that be ordained of God in much of Syria and Iraq -- they will fail, but not for lack of opportunity to punish those who do evil and commend those who do right, as Peter's epistle has it.)

Conservatives and liberals, among others, know no language but brute force. It's how you fight prostituion, pornography, homosexuality, substance abuse, loss of income from unemployment and retirement, illiteracy, disease, hunger, racism, and just about everything else. The result has been the bloodiest century in the history of the world, and the carnage shows no sign of ending. What will it take to get you to question your presuppositions and consider putting Romans 13 in the context of the Golden Rule and 1 Samuel 8 instead of vice versa?

The main article in the American Conservative sounds a warning that patriotic conservatives regard us Christians with suspicion. I don't know about you, but I think that if Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Paul Wolfowitz, Zbigniew Brzezinsky, Donald Rumsfeld. Barack Obama, Janet Yellen, and the rest of the establishment who walk the corridors of power no matter who's in office had the opportunity to shut the churches tomorrow, they'd take it. If I were Satan I would want the evangelical community to forfeit the moral high ground by going along with their barbarity as long as they don't close churches. Once no one who would otherwise defend us wants to have anything to do with us, they'll close the churches and that will be that.

Well, no it won't. A few weeks ago [the preacher at my church] read from the pulpit the testimony of a Syrian Christian suffering from the blowback from the war we started. God will use people like that Syrian Christian to do the work of evangelizing the nations we passed up the opportunity to do so we could feed Uncle Sam so we wouldn't have to have testimonies like his. We will reap what we've sown. "Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, a full measure.

Take another good long look at those pictures. Those may be our great-grandchildren..

Good Words, and from a Conservative, No Less (2)

A response received to my email.

Someone has to protect Christians from the likes of the militants in the Middle East. That's what civil governments under God are supposed to do, and that's why God gave them the sword. I wish the civilians in charge had given our military the green light to do the job decisively instead of just creating vacuums for more militants to fill. My own thinking is that supporting a military that is going after bad guys and oppressors of Christians is putting God first since God has appointed them to be an "avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer" (Rom 13:4). If these people aren't wrongdoers then I don't know who is. Now is the time to quash this before they grow stronger and bolder. The US is not the kingdom of God, but God clearly uses secular nations to accomplish his justice. Esther appealed to the king and the enemies of God's people were wiped out. As a country we have in this situation the money and the power to do the right thing. It's not only in our interest as a country, it is the right and just thing. Our fault as a nation has been that we have been too delicate, respectful, and politically correct toward an enemy that only responds to dominant force. God will hold civil authorities accountable for failing to live up to their charge as God's "servants" and "ministers." I would like to see the US government live up to it's God-given calling and do something about this true evil in our world. I'm with Boykin. I believe what we are fighting against is demonic. My prayer is that God will be gracious and in this instance deliver us from the evil one who would like nothing better than to use a false religion to slaughter those who follow Jesus not only in the US, but everywhere else in the world as well. May God give our leaders the courage to do what is right.

Good Words, and from a Conservative, No Less (1)

The next few posts will be of an email exchage I had with a respected Christian leader.

From the comments at
If you cannot put country before God, then you shouldn’t be in the military. Serving in the military is the ultimate service to one’s country. In that situation, you have to put country before everything, including God. If you can’t make that commitment, then don’t join.
I couldn't have put it better myself. I can't see Jesus disagreeing.

While I guess the author of the main article is on board with the mission of the US government in general, and probably also even the current wars, he doesn't seem to have a clue about the Cross. What bothers me is not only that there is nothing about evangelical support for the war that makes him want to know about the heart of the evangelical message, it also seems like he is utterly opposed to "dare to be a Daniel" devotion to God. (If it was just one guy, I wouldn't care, but I'm assuming that he's preaching to a sizable choir.)

If a conservative disparages Christian commitment to the military and the relentless evangelical enthusiasm for the current wars -- even if they have in mind pop-dispensationalists, not Reformed types (or is he that far off?) -- what must the liberals think? How would either one consider evangelical claims that the wars are about protecting Christian freedoms? How eager are they to have their misconceptions corrected?

Should this prompt some self-examination on the part of pro-war US evangelicals?

Since I didn't know it, I guess I'm heartened to read that American soldiers are giving out Bibles in Afghanistan. Papua New Guineans thought that Bibles provided the best paper for roll-your-own cigarettes. "My wife was collateral damage, but hey, look at all this nifty cigarette paper!"

Too bad the distribution of Bibles runs afoul of the laws of the powers that be, ordained of God:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Getting Sex and Drugs Backward

What’s worse for a Christian to do: have sex outside of marriage, or snort cocaine?
I know. Snorting cocaine. Know how I know? Which carries the stiffer penalty in our culture?
We do jail people who snort cocaine and smoke pot, at least if we can get our hands on them before they or their parents become politicians, but do we jail people who have sex outside of marriage? More importantly, should we jail them?
If we jail druggies but not “sexies,” aren’t we straining out gnats and swallowing camels?
The Bible says that because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we should keep them pure (1 Cor 6:19), specifically free from sexual immorality. I’ve heard Christians apply that verse to alcohol and (other) drugs, saying that intoxicants of any form defile the temple of the Holy Spirit. I’ve even heard it used to justify jailing unbelievers, people whose bodies are most definitely not at present any kind of temple of the Holy Spirit, for trafficking in (i.e., producing, possessing, or using) intoxicants.
But I’m not so sure that extension is permissible. The preceding verse reads, “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18), implying that sinning against one’s own body is somehow worse than sinning “outside the body.” Sexual immorality is in a class by itself. The Bible condemns intoxication from Genesis to Revelation, but intoxication is still a sin “outside the body,” according to at least a strict reading of 1 Cor 6:18.
Murder and theft are also sins “outside the body,” and the Bible certainly prescribes that murderers and thieves be dealt with, howbeit not by incarceration, so being an outside-the-body sin does not per se keep trafficking in intoxicants from being a crime.
So what does the Bible, which prescribes what to do with idolators, murderers, thieves, rapists, adulterers, women who are menstruating, and men who have seminal emissions—we’re not talking about a document that skirts issues great or small—tell us to do with people who grow, produce, sell, buy, possess, or consume intoxicants?
I’m waiting.
You don’t see anything, do you?
But I do! Look at Isa 55:1: “Buy wine.” Look at Deut 14:26: “Spend the money for … wine or strong drink.” Yes, my friend, you read it here first: what the Bible tells us to do with those who traffic in intoxicants is to patronize them!
Are we to become intoxicated? No. Does consuming intoxicants by definition lead to intoxication? Apparently not.
But what about “gateway drugs”? Aren’t they dangerous?
There has never been a more popular gateway drug than alcohol. Today in the United States “three-fourths of all adults drink alcohol, and 6% of them are alcoholics”; that means that 8 percent of those who drink regularly are addicted. “About 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana.” If marijuana is so addictive it needs to be interdicted, I wonder where the line is between it and alcohol. Where does Scripture put it?
You don’t see it either, do you?
I also wonder how many of those addicted to marijuana are also addicted to alcohol. In other words, could the problem be the person and not the substance? Could some people just be inclined to overuse whatever allows them to escape the emptiness in their lives? Can anyone say “video games”?
Which brings us back to sex.
I’ve never smoked pot, but I know of at least one US president and I know personally three bigwigs at my church who say they smoked pot when they were younger. Look at where they are today! It would seem that one can smoke a few joints, put it behind you, and get on with life.
What about extramarital sex? Can you just put it behind you? Or is it more likely to poison the relationship between you and your cohort, between you both and your eventual spouses, and between you and other members of the opposite sex with whom you could otherwise enjoy enjoyable innocent relationships?
I’m not excited about my kids smoking pot. I’d rather not hear about them consuming alcohol unless we’re enjoying a glass at the time. But I’d much rather hear them say they got stoned and learned their lesson and will never do it again than to hear that they had a sexual affair that they now regret.
And I sure as hell have no desire to see them in jail for what amounts to being stupid. The War on Drugs is an unbiblical, unconstitutional war on freedom. It’s time for Christians to end their support for it.