Archive for the ‘98-Current Events’ Category

Dred Scott and Roe v. Wade: The Question is The Same

What is life? What rights are common to all men? What is property? Are universal truths always true while lies even with social support only true for a temporary space of time? These are the questions that troubled me all day on Saturday.

This morning, I was watching the powerful movie, Twelve Years A Slave, and the repeated phrase of the plantation owner was that a slave was property. That right of property superseded any human rights of a slave. The slave was seen as no better than a barn or the nails that it held it together. No better than the crops from the field. There were laws throughout the South that treated blacks as nothing less than property.


According to theories of John Locke, the great political theorist of the Renaissance, man has a right to enjoy the rights of life and liberty and property and this right is not granted by government but by the nature of universe. Lockean theory was the backbone of the cry for revolutions in Europe and the revolution here in the US. Black slaves were seen as property and slave owners fully believed that they had an inalienable right to use their own property as they saw fit. This position was so pervasive that it was an issue in drafting the Constitution of the country. Laws and court cases upheld the theory of property all throughout the South and it made its way all to the Supreme Court. In the infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling of 1857. Dred Scott was a slave who escaped into a slave-free state (Illinois) and who subsequently sued for his freedom.


In the Supreme Court’s decision, the choice to own slaves was an individual decision, a private matter for each citizen to struggle with apart from interference by the state. If a person, in an act of conscience, chose not to keep slaves, that was his own decision, but he could not force that choice on others. Every person had a private right to choose. Dred Scott, as a slave, was declared chattel–human property. He was a possession of his owner, and the owner had a right to do whatever he wanted with his assets. Three of the justices held that even a Negro who had descended from slaves had no rights as an American citizen and thus no standing in the court. It took an amendment to the constitution, ratified by the majority of states in December 1865, that finally gave black slaves equal standing under the law. It is now commonly accepted that all men and women, regardless of color, have a natural right to freedom and it is not subject to laws or governments. It is an inalienable right. It’s taken 100s of years, a civil war, a civil rights movement, and civil rights law to guarantee that we all know this – that no man is property, no man should be seen as subhuman, no man should have his right to life be contingent upon another’s view of that life, that no man should have his right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness abridged. It is a natural human right.


That was the profound thing that struck me this morning in watching this powerful movie for a second time in my life. Watching this movie for a second time (saw it first on DVD about a year ago) was kind of like reading a Bible passage that you have read a thousand times and glossed over it but this 1001st time, it hits you like a brick to the head. That was the thing that I felt like a ton of bricks watching this movie today. It just came to me. It was one of those Holy Spirit things, I guess.


The ton of bricks was the archaic view of blacks as property is seen as an aberration now but we are perpetuating the view with the current legality of abortion as supported by a Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade in 1972.  I know some who might read this and say, how can you compare slavery and abortion…but hear me out, please. In that Supreme Court case, part of its justification for the legality of abortion was that the Court established that the word “person” as used in the due process clause and in other provisions of the Constitution did not include the unborn, and therefore the unborn lacked federal constitutional protection. The court stated that the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action” includes “a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy” and that “[t]his right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”


What it boils down to is that which is not life is property. When life is considered property then you can do with it what you please. We have the right to enjoy property as we wish. If a person is not considered a person, then what are they? Our nation once saw negroes as not better than the swing on your front porch – to do with what you pleased. As property they had no rights. No more than a lamppost has rights in the court of law. Under Roe v. Wade, a fetus has no legal standing in the court of law. A fetus is not considered a person who has the whole avail of privileges guaranteed citizens under the laws and constitution of our country. Fetuses have the same lack of constitutional rights as negroes prior to the long history of constitutional amendments and laws that won their rightful place beside other persons of our country. Under the reckoning of Roe v. Wade, it had the same impact of the Dred Scott decision of the same court, the Supreme Court of our land.


If it is not life, then it must be property. Roe v. Wade hinged on the issue of viability. In the court’s eyes, a fetus is not viable as an independent human life until after the first trimester of pregnancy. However, like with slavery, because something is legally defined as right, it does not make it a universal truth (the old legal vs. moral issue). If we do not define a human life as viable life, it is then, in a legal sense, property to do with as you please. We once saw negroes as property to do with as we pleased. It was guaranteed by the Supreme Court of the land. That did not make it universally and morally right. In fact that it was so morally wrong that ultimately the law of the land was changed and an amendment to the Constitution was added to guarantee the rights of all citizens to be seen as equal to and have the same rights as all other citizens.


It comes down to what is not considered life is and must be considered property. Under Roe v. Wade, a fetus has to be considered the property of the mother who carries the fetus in her womb. The Christian view is that life begins at conception. That point at which an egg is fertilized and it amazingly begins the reproductive process. Saying that life does begins at a later point under the argument of viability is just mincing words and timeliness. Regardless of whether a fetus is viable, it is life. It is multiplying. It is growing. Unless we stop it growing through abortion, it will become viable. That’s why the courts had to establish the point of viability arbitrarily to allow abortion to be legal. In order for abortion to be legal, there be room to consider a fetus property and thus strip away any constitutional rights guaranteed to all that which is not considered property.


Therefore, there is a great similarity between the basis for legalized slavery (my property to do with as I wish) and the basis for legalized abortion (my body my choice). We must blind ourselves to blacks being human beings with a right to life and liberty to make slavery legal. We must also blind ourselves to what life is and when it starts. Saying it starts at specified date is just legal definition. Legal definition does not always match moral definition.


That which is not life is property. When will be come to realize that we have been as wrong about when life begins as we were about whether a human being can be considered property and not really a valid human life. Can we quit the legal dancing just as we did in the days of slavery and as we are doing now with abortion and see life as life. Not a choice. Not a piece of property. Life is life and it deserve liberty and to be considered a person under the eyes of the law, just as God sees us as persons from the moment of conception, the unique individuals that we all are, and just as God sees all of us as children no matter the color of our skin.

There was a great line from one of my favorite shows, “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and one of its spinoff movies, “First Contact”, where Captain Jean Luc Picard and visitor, Lily Sloane, are discussing the need to self-destruct the Enterprise to prevent the Borg from taking over the Enterprise deck by deck. If the Enterprise was “assimilated” by the Borg, the future of Earth would be in peril.

The Borg were a mutant cyborg race (each one part human, part robotic machine) that was, one planet at a time, conquering the galaxy. They not only use warfare to conquer planets but they “assimilated” the residents of each planet into their collective called The Borg. All personal individuality was erased when a person was assimilated into the Borg (each one was made into this part human, part robotic machine) and plugged into the collective consciousness of the race. Dissension was unknown. All Borg thought alike and crushed and assimilated those whose goals in life were in opposition to the Borg’s goals.

So, when Lily suggests that the only course of action was to sacrifice the Enterprise via self-destruction, Picard famously says,

“NO! NOOOOOOOOO!!! We’ve made too many compromises already, too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again! The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!”

That last sentence resonates with me today as we sift through the ashes of Election Day 2016. It has come and gone and one thing is quite clear to me. Small town America found its voice and said, “This far…no further!” Even I had made this election about the lesser of two evils, but that really was not what this election was about. It was about “this far and no further!”

Many of the media pundits are calling this a shocking upset where Donald Trump actually did win the election. I don’t think that it really is. You could see this coming for the last eight years and Donald Trump had enough celebrity cache to offset the Clinton political machine. Another Republican nominee may have had more experience and been more polished but would have been wasted by Clinton. It was Trump’s celebrity and brashness that turned out the vote in record numbers – most likely will surpass the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election as to the percentage of registered voters who turned out. With that massive number of usually disaffected voters NOT staying home, Trump won the election. That is where Clinton underestimated Trump was in his ability to get normally disaffected suburban and rural Americas re-energized for the process and turn out they did!

First, the media pundits have called this a victory of rural America over urban America saying that we will not be left behind or have our issues short-shrifted. I think that they have got it partly right but I think that this election was about values and rights. Trump was just the vehicle that was the possible solution the majority of Americans in most states. I am not sure that most people who voted for Donald Trump truly are not ardent supporters of Mr. Trump. He was the horse that was there for non-urban conservative America to ride. The majority of Americans are concerned about the values of our country and about the curtailing of our civil rights in many areas of life. That was why Trump won. Americans have had this growing feeling for the better part of a decade now that the values that made America great in the past were disappearing in the name of equality and inclusion. They felt too that anyone who opposed the prevailing liberalism that is or was or still may be taking over our country was considered out of step with the new liberalism and were considered old-fashioned and backwards. Last night, small town America struck back.

Most Americans oppose the attack on marriage in its traditional form that has been coming from a liberal judiciary that seems hellbent on making itself a legislative branch. Most Americans oppose the liberal agenda of the Democratic Party as championed by Hillary Clinton. These liberal values have taken and is taking America down a path most Americans don’t want to go. Sure, Americans want everyone to be treated equally but not at the expense of conservative values and family. Last night, small town America struck back. Small town America had reached its breaking point by last night with the liberal agenda that concentrates itself in large urban areas. We don’t want to have to explain behaviors of those with liberal views to our children. Small town America fed up with what they believe is the moral slide of our country (to that compared to the Roman Empire) and came out in droves yesterday to take our country back. Trump was just the horse that was available to ride. Hillary represented to small town America that which it does not want to become. Nothing comparable to this has happened since the election of Andrew Jackson back in the 1820s. Politicians and those on the left who have been pushing the “anything should be acceptable” morality on America should take note of this concept and adjust accordingly. America believes in equality but not at the expense of morality. Small town America spoke these words at the ballot boxes yesterday and Trump was the horse available to ride.

Second, the media pundits see this as some ethnic divide that has been created in America where it is white America vs. everyone else. I don’t believe that either. Last night’s results were about the belief that we have now developed a ruling class of professional politicians who are more about self-preservation that they are about doing what is right and best for America. Many Americans feel that politicians today listen to only those who make the biggest fuss. The quiet America (husband, wife, two kids, a dog, a cat, one or two wage earners, a mortgage and two cars) is easily ignored. Many Americans feel that well-financed political action groups have been the loudest and have molded American policy for more than a decade. They feel that this state of affairs has led us down a path toward a ruling elite that determines what is best for our country and not the general populace. Hillary Clinton is the lightening rod of the perception of the ruling elite forcing their liberal policies down the throat of quiet America. There is also a perception that this ruling elite uses their wealth and power to play loose with rules of society and get away with that which ensures their power and wealth. This is a real and palpable feeling among Americans. Trump tapped into that sentiment and quiet America gained its voice in this horse that was available to ride (who was simply speaking what they thought). Small town America struck back at the ballot box yesterday.
Third, yesterday was the culmination of years of building resentment stemming from belief that our civil rights are being chopped away slowly but surely in an effort to ensure equality for all. Religious beliefs against condoning homosexual unions was being subverted under equal protection rhetoric. The Oregon bakers who had to pay fines for refusing to participate in the celebration of a gay wedding because of their Christian faith, the ministers being required to submit sermons to the government for review of their anti-gay references, were igniting sparks in a smoldering cauldron of discontent in small town America, after years and years of quiet compromise. Rights to express Judeo-Christian values in our daily lives has been under attack for years. Quietly small town America accepted it because it felt it would be ridiculed and it did not have a collective voice. All that resentment toward the liberalist elite’s agenda (seemingly reinforced by the liberal media) where alternative lifestyles were glorified and paraded in front of us was building and building. The smoldering fire became a bursting flame right here in our area. Just travel up Interstate 85 to nearby Charlotte, NC. And, you will find the place that pushed small town America over the edge. It was the transgender ordinance that made small town America made enough to turn out in full force yesterday. Not specifically because of the transgender ordinance but rather it representing the final straw of putting up with the liberal agenda. It was the final straw

It comes back to Charlotte. The city passed an ordinance about allowing transgenders use the bathroom that they identify themselves with emotionally/physiologically rather than being forced to use bathrooms that aligned with their birth gender. Small town North Carolina found that distasteful and deviant and through their state legislators in Raleigh voiced their concerns. At the state level, the legislature nullified the ordinance by passing what has become known as the “bathroom bill.” Rights to privacy were being trumped by rights to what was perceived as “created equality” rather than innate equality. Rights to security and safety were being overshadowed by the newest liberal cause de jour. Anyone who disagreed with this created right was called out-of-step with the new world order. And, of course, all of liberal America wanting to be seen as “with it” jumped on the bandwagon of hatred for North Carolina from musical artists to the NCAA to the ACC and imposed a de facto boycott on North Carolina. Quiet America, small town America, found all of this distasteful to its central values of conservative family values. Yesterday, small town America struck back. Yesterday, small town America said enough is enough. Small town America said to liberal, urban America that it wants to be able to express its Judeo-Christian values in the public square and not be silenced or hushed or have its freedoms abridged so that the fringes of society can express theirs. Last night, democracy spoke – the majority spoke. It has been boiling up for a decade or more and small town America spoke her voice.

So, to me, this election was not so much about Trump or Hillary. It was about small town America saying that this was the line in the sand and we shall go no farther. It was about small town America getting its voice and saying we can no longer watch our country travel a road that it did not want to go down. Trump won because he was the horse running in that lane. He tapped into the great dissatisfaction with the moral landscape of our country felt by a majority of Americans. He tapped into the dissatisfaction with the emergence of a ruling elite who seemingly can get away with anything. He tapped into the dissatisfaction with a judiciary creating law to satisfy the rights of a few while abridging the rights and values of the many. This election was not so much about a Trump victory as it was about small town America finding its voice and exercising it. This far, they said, and no further.

Numbers 8:5-26 (Part 3)

The Levites Dedicated


Have you ever really thought about what abortion really is? It is sacrificing a human being for the sins of another. Sure, there are those who say that we should allow abortions because there those who are victims of rape or incest. Such pregnancies arrived at in such a manner account for 1% of all abortions according to an October 1989 article in the New York Times. This issue is an ethical one for Christians for this one percent of cases. How do you justify being against abortion in such cases? First, it begs the assumption that all of these “1% women” are going to unanimously want abortions.  For example, it is commonly assumed that rape victims who become pregnant would naturally want abortions. But in the only major study of pregnant rape victims ever done, Dr. Sandra Mahkorn found that 75 to 85 percent chose against abortion (Mahkorn, “Pregnancy and Sexual Assault,” The Psychological Aspects of Abortion, eds. Mall & Watts, (Washington, D.C., University Publications of America, 1979) 55-69.) This evidence alone should cause people to pause and reflect on the presumption that abortion is wanted or even best for sexual assault victims. According to David Rearden, Ph.D.’s article “Rape, Incest & Abortion: Searching Beyond the Myths”, he says the following:


Several reasons are given for not aborting. First, approximately 70 percent of all women believe abortion is immoral, even though many also feel it should be a legal choice for others. Approximately the same percentage of pregnant rape victims believe abortion would be just another act of violence perpetrated against their bodies and their children.


Second, some believe that their child’s life may have some intrinsic meaning or purpose which they do not yet understand. This child was brought into their lives by a horrible, repulsive act. But perhaps God, or fate, will use the child for some greater purpose. Good can come from evil.


Third, victims of assault often become introspective. Their sense of the value of life and respect for others is heightened. They have been victimized, and the thought that they in turn might victimize their own innocent child through abortion is repulsive.


Fourth, at least at a subconscious level, the victim may sense that if she can get through the pregnancy, she will have conquered the rape. By giving birth, she can reclaim some of her lost self-esteem. Giving birth, especially when conception was not desired, is a totally selfless act, a generous act, a display of courage, strength and honor. It is proof that she is better than the rapist. While he was selfish, she can be generous. While he was destroying, she can be nurturing.


So, in justifying the immorality of 99% of abortions, we use the 1%’ers to make them OK. However, the overwhelming majority of abortions are simply to cover up sexual immorality and to avoid the responsibility that often goes along with sexual intercourse. It is making a child pay for the sexual promiscuity of two people (the woman AND the man involved). This is not just a woman thing. It has to do with both sexual partners who typically have had sex outside the marriage covenant and do not want the responsibilities that come with sex. The child of such episodes of unrestrained sex is sacrificed on the altar of sexual freedom. The child is offered up as a victim to release us from the real problem in our society of the devaluation of sex to physical exercise rather than the joy of a man and woman inside the marriage covenant. And, this writer, is not some bitter old Christian man who is against sexual promiscuity because I wish I could have had all that fun. Although I have never been involved in abortion or ever involved in a pregnancy outside of marriage, it is only by the grace of God that I didn’t. I am a statistic of the sexual promiscuity of our age. It is only through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit where I progressively am convicted of each of the sins that previously justified and must repent of them. As Christ followers, the Holy Spirit battles with our flesh to reveal to us the sins that we did not realize were sins or battle with our flesh to convince us that we must give up our pet sins – those stubborn sins that we refuse to see as sins initially and those that we doggedly hold on to. It is only through the Holy Spirit that I now see my sexual past as shameful and not as a point of pride as to the number of notches on my belt.


So, abortion is an optional form of birth control in our society when all of our other forms of birth control did not work. We sacrifice life for a life. We sacrifice a child with growing and multiplying cells because men and women desire sex without restraint. An innocent child is sacrificed for our sexual desire for sex with no consequences. We are offering up beating hearts of unborn children for our sexual sins. When I look at my first grandchild and see the amazing miracle that is life as it expressed in a young baby and knowing that she was once life inside my daughter’s belly, how grieved is God each time a life of a baby is snuffed out through abortion. I thank God for the beautiful innocence of my grandchild who was conceived by a husband and wife inside the marriage covenant. I thank God for that innocent little life. She already has personality at 6 days old. She is a unique child of God that will bring gifts and talents to the world that God deems necessary. Even after only 6 days, it pains me to think of that life not being lived.


We may look back on the Old Testament sacrificial system and see it as the brutal killing of animals for the sins of the people of Israel and see it in in other ancient societies as an archaic practice to appease imagined but unreal gods. However, in the name of sexual sin, are we not doing the same thing today and calling it the right to choose. What right are we choosing? Are we not offering up innocent lives for our sins?


For some reason today, the Holy Spirit lead me to think about how in an immoral way we are offering up innocent lives to cover up sexual sin in abortion. However, that can be contrasted with God’s prescribed way for us to publicly recognize or sin in the sin offerings of the Old Testament. Abortion is a sacrifice of innocent life to cover up sin whereas the sin offerings were a public way to admit sin and repent of it. Abortion allows us to continue sinning whereas the sin offering was the way to repentance before the Lord and turn away from sin. The sin offerings were a prelude to the innocent life that was sacrificed for our sin in the once and final sacrifice on the cross by Jesus Christ.


Let’s read the full passage together and then let’s concentrate on vv. 8-9 for today after we have read through it:


5 The Lord said to Moses: 6 “Take the Levites from among all the Israelites and make them ceremonially clean. 7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves. 8 Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of the finest flour mixed with olive oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering.[a] 9 Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. 10 You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. 11 Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.


12 “Then the Levites are to lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, using one for a sin offering to the Lord and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites. 13 Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the Lord. 14 In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.


15 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the tent of meeting. 16 They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman. 17 Every firstborn male in Israel, whether human or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. 18 And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. 19 From among all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the tent of meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”


20 Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the Lord and made atonement for them to purify them. 22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the tent of meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.


23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”


It is the sin offering that the Isrealites offered up to the Lord as us realizing that we committed a sin. We recognize our sin and we want the Lord to know that we know it and that we are condemned by it. The sin offerings were God’s allowed way for us to make ourselves right with him. A life of an innocent animal was offered up in our place. The Israelite knew that it should be he that should have been punished not the innocent animal. There was humility that came with that realization. Humility was also in the fact that I publicly recognized my sin before God and before the nation of Israel. I admitted that I sinned against God and against the fabric of Israelite society. It was a prelude to the once and final sacrifice at the cross of Jesus Christ that ended and concluded the Old Testament sacrificial system.


In Jesus Christ, we have a life that was sacrificed before God to atone for our sins. It was not a one person for one sin sacrifice. He was the Son of God who took on the wrath of a perfect and just God for the sins of all mankind for all time. All we have to do is express to God with our mouths that we are sinners who are destined for our deserved fate in hell in the absence of Jesus Christ. All we have to do is believe and express that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that we are made right through Him, the Son of God. His sacrifice for our eternal lives. His sacrificial death gives us life. We must admit that we have sinned and stand before all those will hear and say I am a sinner and it is only through Jesus’ sacrificial death that I have life. Jesus’ death is the last sacrifice. No more sacrificial death for atonement and to give new life is necessary. He finished it forever.


That is the thing that makes the OT sacrificial system that ended at the cross with Jesus different. It was a death for the purpose of our repentance. It is a line in the sand that we accept and turn away from our sins. We are made perfect in Christ’s covering for our sins and thus allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and convict us of our fleshly sins and desires and to make us holy and righteous as time progresses toward that day we are perfected in heaven.


Abortion though is the opposite of that. It is covering up sin. It takes away the consequences of sin but there is no conviction. It allows us to continue our sinning. It is the sacrifice of an innocent life so that we can continue sinning. The OT sacrifices that ended with Jesus was God’s avenue for us to recognize that we are indeed sinners and that we are destined for punishment and consequences not only in this life but in the life eternal. We must recognize our sins to take advantage of the sacrifice of Christ. We must say we are sinners to be covered by this sacrifice.


In saying that I am against abortion, though does not mean that I bomb abortion clinics or protest outside them. It means that I praise God for the woman who goes through with her pregnancy and brings new life into this world and I help her in any way that I can. It means that I pray for those who have had abortions and are dealing with the devastating emotional consequences of said abortions to come to our fellowship of believers and lead her to the cross where she will find grace just as we all have. Let us love those who have unwanted pregnancies and those who have aborted them. God has grace for them through Jesus Christ. They can bring their sins to the cross and find repentance and joy in Jesus Christ there.


I pity those whose eyes have not been opened and pray for them too. May the eyes of those who see abortion as a birth control choice be opened to the truth that they are sacrificing children at the altar of sexual freedom and justifying it as revolutionary freedom for women. May their eyes be opened to their sacrifices at the wrong altar.


Amen and Amen.

Matthew 26:57-68 (Part 1)

Caiaphas Questions Jesus


The more things change; the more they stay the same is an old saying. The reason that it is an old saying, meaning that it has been around a long time, is because it is truth. Truth tends to stand the test of time. And so it is with old sayings. The more things change; the more they stay the same. In today’s passage, there is a rush to judgment, a rush to justify one’s opinion, and you will do anything to support it. Even non-believers who know the Jesus story condemn the hastiness, the kangaroo court atmosphere of the trail at Caiaphas’ house. However, are we not doing the same today in our political correctness. One of the recent events that baffles me is how my once rock ‘n’ roll idol, Bruce Springsteen, has decided to cancel a concert in the state of North Carolina, Greensboro to be exact, because of the state’s decision to pass a law that overturns the ordinance of the City of Charlotte allowing transgender individuals to use the public bathrooms of their choice. I was blown away by Bruce’s decision to stand with such a law. Bruce has always been the working man’s rock and roller. He sang about things that mattered to the common man, unemployment, making ends meet, marital issues, working for the man, and so on. He was the balladeer of the common man’s struggles in a world that glorifies riches. Yet, here he is so many years later, where the common man has made him a rich man and has made him rich for a very long time, supporting something that is so completely against the nature of the common that it shows how distant Bruce has actually become from the people he has championed over the years. Here, in one statement made to the press via press release, not in person, he claims that he stands with those who identify themselves with those who identify themselves as female when anatomically male and as male when anatomically female. I believe that Bruce has rushed to judgment over the state of North Carolina. He sits remotely in his Rumson, New Jersey estate and has made up his mind without trying to understand the situation.


He is willing to sell out North Carolina to please the intolerant tolerance of our nation. We are so afraid of offending anyone in this country that we have become intolerant of anyone disagrees with the anything goes mentality of the world. Bruce is so enamored with the chic-ness of the LGBT movement and how everyone is jumping on that bandwagon that he has sold his soul to appease them. There are so many instances such as this where the chic-ness of the LGBT movement is like a tidal wave that people jump on and ride without really even knowing what they are protesting against. They just know that it’s cool to protest against this thing and they do it. It’s mob mentality. And that is so far from the Bruce that I used to know and idolize that it just shows how out of touch with his real fan base that he really is. Let one Bruce say he is not going to do concerts in North Carolina and every other act joins in the protest because…well because everybody else is doing it. Didn’t our parents teach us not to jump off a bridge just because all our friends were doing it. As this tidal wave against North Carolina gains momentum, can we not be our parents once again and say stop. Don’t jump off the bridge just because all your entertainment industry buddies are. Think about what you are throwing your support behind and protesting against first. Bruce, what if your daughter, Jessica Rae, is attacked by sexual predator in a women’s bathroom because there was so much pressure on North Carolina to allow transgender men to use women’s bathrooms. What if it was Jessica? How would you feel then? Protecting the rights of transgenders is fine but in so doing we open the door for all kinds of weird perversion of sexual predators. What if it was your daughter, Bruce? What if it were your daughter? Rush to judgment can lead us down paths we do not want to go in the end. Bruce is joing the mob mentality here and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Don’t get me wrong, I think that transgenders deserve our compassion and love, but I do not think that this behavior should be celebrated and certified. The risks of doing so are far greater than the benefits. Sometimes we have to limit our freedoms to ensure the safety of the entire society. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, to quote Spock.


That is what I think about when I think about this hasty trial of Jesus. The minds were made up. There was rush to judgment. If does not matter to the priests that Jesus was in truth the Messiah. They just wanted to preserve their system. They did not want to hear what Jesus had to say. It was mob mentality. It was a tidal wave gaining momentum. It was jump on this bandwagon with us because we want what we want and it does not matter what the truth is, really. When we think of how things gain momentum without thought and without facts and without personally investigating things today, let’s read the passage for today, Matthew 26:57-68:


57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.


59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.


Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’”


62 Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 63 But Jesus remained silent.


The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”


64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”[a]


65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What do you think?”


“He is worthy of death,” they answered.


67 Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him 68 and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”


Jesus was railroaded. Plain and simple. It did not matter what He said or did that night. He was going to be convicted and sentenced to death somehow, some way. I bet there were those there that night that were members of the high council, the Sandhedrin, as it was called, that felt like Jesus was right in saying what He said. There were those there that I bet felt like Jesus was the Messiah. But the mob mentality took over. They were afraid to speak out for fear of being singled out and maybe suffering the same fate as Jesus. That’s why Jesus’ disciples deserted Him. That’s why the cooler heads in the Sanhedrin said nothing and kept quiet. When the tidal wave gains momentum most of us don’t want to be the one to stand up and say, “This is wrong and I do not care what happens to me for standing up for what is right and what is biblical!” The more things change, the more they stay the same. Mob mentality rules. Nazi Germany was the same way. If you spoke up against the party line, you were marginalized, set aside, imprisoned, or killed. That may not be happening in the United States now but the power of the intolerance of tolerance can be and overwhelming social tide. This same thing. This same mentality happened to our Savior. No one would speak up against the high priest. No one would stand by Jesus’ side. No one was willing to say I believe Jesus is the Messiah – which is the truth. Those who wanted Him dead did not care about the truth. They just wanted Him silenced so they could get their way.


Would you and I have stood up for Jesus or would we have stood idly by and just joined the tidal wave against Jesus? Are you willing today to stand up, stand out and stand against that which is against bibilical principles or do we cave in to public pressure, peer pressure. Are you willing to stand up for what is right. Or are we quiet? Do we take our beliefs out into the streets and make the rubber meet the road when it comes to what we believe in. Or are we silent and let the mob take over. We complain about how our world is running away from Christ but we complain from inside our houses. We need to get out in the streets, run for office, vote, make a difference. Stand up and stand out. Stand against the tide. It did not happen that night with the Sanhedrin and does not happen now.


The more things change…the more they stay the same.

Have you ever had one of those dreams where something bad is about to happen to you or to someone you know, love, and/or care about? It’s usually where you or someone you care about is about to be attacked by a monster, a killer, you know. You start to scream as you attempt to get the words out with all your might no sound comes out or it’s just a grunt! You know those dreams! We have all had them. That’s the analogy that has repeatedly played out in my mind over the past several weeks and particularly since the South Carolina Republican Primary last weekend. I want to scream but the words can’t be heard. That gutteral sounds of a bad dream where you want to shout and scream but nothing comes out. That’s where I am right now…

As many of you know, I try my best not to step into controversial subjects on social media and typically withhold my response to things until I have prayed about it thoroughly and have soul searched endlessly. For it is my intent when I blog on my blog page or post on Facebook not to create situations that would prevent me from sharing the gospel in the way that God has gifted me which is in my writing. The ultimate goal of my writing is to bring people closer to Christ not drive them away. Yet, at the same time, I never desire to water down the Christian faith just to match what the culture is thinking. It is a fine line. It is a tight rope.

However, like with the redefinition of marriage by the Supreme Court or with the shootings in Charleston, I felt compelled to write and write in a way that reveals gospel truth. Today is one of those times where I feel compelled to speak with my writing. It is one of those things where you don’t want to write but God moves your heart in such a way that you cannot be comfortable unless you do. Today, I must speak. I cannot keep silent any longer and I have grieved over this for the last 24 hours since the final debate of the Republican candidates last night. I must speak and will not be comfortable until I get this out.

I may anger some with this statement but Donald Trump cannot win the Republican nomination. Plain and simple. There, I have said it out loud. Not just the gutteral sounds of a bad dream. It was not long ago some friends of mine went to McAdenville, NC to see the Christmas lights. One of the group saw a kid out in the cold weather with no pants on running around one of the decorated yards of that town known regionally for decorating itself in amazing ways for Christmas. This particular night in the schizophrenic weather of the Piedmont of North and South Carolina during the winter was on its bad behavior and it was brutally cold. As my friends drove by this house, one of my more sensitive friends saw this kid running around the yard of this house in the cold night with no pants just a t-shirt and his superhero underpants. She was trying to get the words out to everyone else in the car. But in the emergency of the moment, the only words that would quickly come out was a scream of “Paaaaannnnttts!” That’s how I feel about this mass hysteria that seems to be enamoring our fellow Republicans and the nation in general with Donald Trump. I want to scream but all that is coming out is “paaaaannnnnnttttsssss!” This man cannot win the nomination. I am not saying that he does not have the sway of public opinion and does not have the votes to win the nomination. He does and he probably will. But for the health of our nation and the future of our nation, he cannot win. I beg you to pray incessantly that he does not.

First off, he is style and no substance. Repeatedly, last night he was pressed on issues of importance to our nation. And, he would not give a position. He simply panders to that which is popular. His positions are predicated by that which will bring him the “ratings” that he covets.  He even said as much in the debate last night. He said the reason that CNN had him there was for the ratings. He is Bill Clinton on steroids. A Trump nomination and a Trump presidency will be saying one thing one day because it polls better and something else on another day because it polls better. He’s about the win and not what comes after. He has no solid convictions about anything. He is a tramp rather than Trump. He will do whatever makes his ratings better. His only position is to pander to the anger that is out there about our government. But on no occasion does he offer how to solve it. He reminds of that classic scene from the movie, “The American President”, where Michael Douglas’ character, Andrew Shepard, gave the speech that every man of principle holding the office of President wish they could give. In that scene, Andrew Shepard is in a heated election year race with an opponent played by Richard Dreyfuss whose name is Bob Rumson. In that speech, he says that Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving America’s problems. He is more interested in making you afraid of it and telling you who to blame for it. He goes on to say, “that my friends is how you win elections.” No truer words have been spoken. Sometimes cinema is prophetic of real life. Donald Trump is Bob Rumson. He does not care in the least of how to solve America’s problems. He just wants to get elected. It’s a game. It’s a prize. It’s another mountain to climb. Style. No substance. Just give me the prize. No clue. No positions. Just make America afraid and blame someone for it. Haven’t we had eight years of that already. Haven’t we had a generation of that already. Love him or hate him, Ronald Reagan was the president of a generation. He had solid positions. He had convictions. In this era that we are moving into, we need a Ronald Reagan kind of President. Not once during last night’s debate did he come across with any meaningful dialogue about any serious issues. All he did was make flippant remarks, remarks that were contradictory within the same breath (see his comments on Israel), and bash the other leading candidates. Style. No substance. Make you long for the picket fences of the 1950’s but no clue on what to do.

Second, he is enamored with himself in ways that go beyond egomania. Everything he said last night was about himself and bragging on himself. He is so enamored with himself that he will say anything to make himself look good. His comments about awards from Israel. His comments about how successful he has been. It was all about him. He was there for the ratings he said. Toasting his own popularity. There have been movies about political candidates who had nothing to say but were just trying to appease their own ego. It is playing out before our eyes and THIS is real. Donald Trump would be a President who looks out only for that which will ensure his popularity and feed his ego. It would not matter what the right thing to do is, it would only matter that which massages his ego. Is that not scary in the least to anyone….”paaaaannnnnntsssss!”

Third, he claims he is a Christian. Thanks, Donald. You makin’ us look good now! Donald Trump may well be a Christian but we are told to judge fellow Christians by the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us:

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

There are none of these fruits in Donald Trump’s life. Just look at his demeanor and his words. His sour face throughout the debate belies a man who is seeking something that he cannot buy and cannot find. He has no joy. He seeks grandeur. He has no peace. He tries to destroy anyone who appears to be the least amount of threat to him. He was tired of the debate by the end and the name calling came out. Loser. Basket case. He has no goodness in him. He is all about the Donald. He said in Iowa that he has never asked for forgiveness from God. He simply tries to make thing right. He is performance driven because He does not know Jesus Christ. He has not sought forgiveness from God because He does not see any need. God is a business deal to him where he can negotiate his way out of any issues. He may well be Christian but the fruits of the spirit belie that statement. He would sell his soul to Satan if it meant closing the deal and making his own name great. I pray for him to find Christ so that he can truly claim the title of Christian. I just do not see it from who he is just right now. I won’t even go into who he has been in his past. Just looking at how he comports himself in this moment in time, I just don’t see the fruits. He is self-centered. He blames everyone but himself. He changes his position to suit the moment. He has no fruit…..Paaaaaannnnntttttsssss!

I call all Christians to see this situation as important. The opposition is offering us utopian socialism, which of course has proven to be a disaster everywhere it has been implemented. Just ask Cuba. You don’t see people lining up in Florida to go to Cuba. It’s the other way around. People from Cuba risk life and limb often to get away from the utopia of socialist Cuba. We must unite behind the candidates within the Republican Party that will actually be good for America, that will defend the Constitution, that will make the tough choices that need to be made. Not just what makes them look good. Not just getting the prize but really working at the job. Do we really want a world where Donald Trump is a viable candidate. Paannnntsss….gutteral scream…make the words come out….Scream….paaannnnnntsssss!

Matthew 16:5-12
The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

For those of us who are die-hard Clemson fans, the touchdown on the kickoff return by Alabama did not come entirely as a surprise. For all the good things that have happened on offense and defense during the Tigers run to the championship, special teams have been where we have held our breath, particularly kick-off coverage. Every time, Clemson kicked off this year, we fans prayed that the kickoff would go deep into the end zone so that there would be no return. Why? Because, if the Tigers had a fatal flaw this year it was kickoff coverage. Twice before the championship game, we had given up two touchdowns on kickoff returns and we had given up several high yardage returns during the year. Although they covered well for most of the kickoffs Monday night, the weakness was bound to be exposed. The Tigers could have survived all the other mistakes made in Monday night’s game, but this season-long weakness was the one thing that was the dagger to the heart. In championship games that are tightly contested as Monday’s game was, if you have a flaw as team if will come out and it will cause you to lose. Without that kickoff return for a touchdown, Clemson may have had the opportunity to climb back into the game the way they were moving the ball on offense. The kickoff return just made the mountain too big given the time remaining the game. The fatal flaw all season ultimately undoes a championship season. It is like back in the day in the 80’s and 90’s, University of Houston and University of Nevada-Las Vegas had some of the greatest college basketball teams ever assembled but they could have won more championships than they did because each had one fatal flaw to their games – foul shooting. Each of those teams could make you look like a little league basketball team when they played you, but if you could get them into a tight game where foul shots matters, they would lose. Fatal flaws of sports team. Blind spots that prevent us from being all that we can be. It is these minor things that can become major things when are allowed to go unchecked. If I fault the Tiger coaches for anything this year, it was the lack of improvement in kickoff coverage over the course of the season. All other areas of the team improved a great deal over the course of the season but not this one and it became the difference between 14-1 and 15-0.

The reason that I use my favorite college football team as an illustration again today because their weak spot got exposed and it caused them to lose. Are we often not the same way when it comes to sins that we enjoy and refuse to repent of? They did not have college football back in days of Jesus’ earthly ministry so he used the metaphor of yeast and dough, something we can still relate to today. Just a little bit of yeast changes dough into the basis for bread. Just a little bit of dough will permeate through the dough and make it into something that we can bake and call bread. Jesus seized the discussion of bread to make a point to us all. Let’s read Matthew 16:5-12 together:


5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Clemson’s poor kickoff coverage and yeast in dough reminds of unchecked things that can turn into bigger things. Sin is that way for us. The religious elite of the first century Jewish society were more concerned with appearances of religious compliance than they were about seeking after God. They would rather keep a good public image than seek holiness. They were greedy men who lusted after power. Their faith became about what people see on the outside rather than what’s in the heart. They would shun people for not keeping in compliance with the letter of God’s law rather than seeking to teach people about holiness. This attitude thus permeated throughout society. If you broke the religious regulations, you were shunned. Once a sinner always a sinner. There was no forgiveness or compassion. It all started at the top with the religious leaders. They were not seeking after God’s heart so the Jewish faith became about rules and not about relationship with God. The law was intended to point us to our need for repentance before God and to seek his forgiveness for our flaws. It had become a mallet to beat people into despair with in the hands of the religious elite. Their sins of pride, arrogance, and greed became the yeast that permeated the dough of Jewish society.

Are not our own sins that way, especially the ones that we want to keep on participating in? We hide them in our dough. But our unrepented and active sins that go unchecked can become greater and greater problems to us that consume us. Just think of the person who entertains lust in his heart for a woman who is not his wife. He entertains it and enjoys the thoughts and fantasies. They become a preoccupation. The thoughts lead to flirting. Flirting leads to touching. Touching leads to kissing and you get the picture. It all started with entertaining the sin in the mind. The same is true with other sins as well. Greed starts out small. Say a salesmen starts becoming preoccupied with getting all he can get in life so it starts with fudging on an expense report. If that goes well, lying to a client is deemed ok. Until one day, this salesmen can’t remember what telling the truth feels like. Lying has become such a part of his life that he feels no remorse ever for telling a lie to make more money. And, then, there’s the just a little porn is ok guy. A little fantasy becomes an obsession over time and leads a man to think of women differently and even pursue immoral sexual relationships through porn-related websites and ultimately loses his wife and kids over porn. These are just a couple of examples of how a sin can start small and if you want to keep on participating in it, you keep it hidden. Who is it hurting anyway? But, the sin when unconfessed and worked on to overcome can become bigger and bigger parts of our lives until they consume our whole existence. The enjoyment of the sin and the covering it up become our reason for being. Sin is like yeast. It can start small but ultimately can consume us if it goes unchecked. It changes us from what we were into something totally different. It can cause our life to come crashing down when we allow it to fester and permeate our lives. The maintenance of the sin becomes the most important thing in our lives and ultimately becomes our god instead of God himself. Justification, concealment, preoccupation, all of it gets in the way of our relationship with God.

What is your pet sin? What is mine? What is that one thing that can potentially bring our world crashing down? What is that fatal flaw? What sins are we not confessing because we want to continue to enjoy them? What is getting in the way of your relationship with God through unrepentant sin? What is that fatal flaw that you refuse to admit? What is your Clemson special teams? That one thing that you are not working on because you don’t think it matters because the rest of your life is so good? The Tigers’ fatal flaw was discounting kickoff coverage teams as important because the offense and defense were as good as any out there. They never placed importance on analyzing the flaws in the kickoff coverage team even they were meticulous about details everywhere else. It was a blind spot. What is yours? What is going to prevent you from having a full and complete relationship with God? What is going to prevent you from being a champion of God? What is preventing you and me from being and seeking holiness before God? What are our pet sins that we do not want to give up?

Let us take some time over the next month or so to really examine who we are and the sins we entertain. Let us examine our areas of life that we do not pay attention to as being fatal flaws. I remember after the NC State game where Clemson gave up a touchdown on a kickoff return and had several returns that were bigger than they should’ve been, the message boards of Clemson football were full of comments that this kickoff coverage problem would come back to bite us one day and cause us to lose a ball game. It did and it was on the biggest stage – the national championship game. Yet, throughout the season, the Tigers seemed never to make any improvement in preventing one or more big returns each game. There was turning of a blind eye to the flaws. What sin do you justify? What sin do I ignore? What sin have we left unchecked? We are to seek holiness by being more like Christ each day. We cannot be holy when we have sins that we are not examining. We cannot be holy if we are not looking for each spiritual flaw we have and confessing it and working on it. Holiness is honesty about our flaws. Holiness is confession. Holiness is seeking God’s help in overcoming our flaws. Holiness is seeking to please God as the primary motivation of our lives and if that means looking at our flaws honestly and committing them to God and praying for His help in cleaning our closets out. Let us be willing to identify where we have unrepented sins and lay them before God in honesty and being the journey to holiness.

Amen and Amen.

Democracy is tough stuff. Christianity is tough stuff.

I have been reading posts today that people say they are ashamed of South Carolina for allowing the KKK to have a rally in Columbia today. By no means to I support the agenda or the beliefs of the KKK, ok, so let’s get that straight.

But isn’t allowing them a permit to hold a rally where they express their putrid, warped view of life the very meaning of democracy. In a democracy, we do not pick and choose what voices can be heard. All voices can be heard and that must be preserved. Even if what a person has to say is so completely offensive to me, I must in a democracy allow him to say it. When government gets into the business of deciding what voices can be heard and which ones cannot we are on a slippery slope toward totalitarianism. Democracy is hard.

Andrew Shepard, the fictional president in the movie, the American President, said it best in his final speech of the movie when he said,

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”

When we silence voices that do not agree with us, when we quiet the voices that are not popular, then we lose democracy. I do not agree with the KKK so I do not listen to their rhetoric. I do not agree with the KKK because of my Christian beliefs so I will not participate in one of their rallies. Their views even though cloaked at times in Christian rhetoric is clearly against Scripture where from the beginning of the Bible it indicates that each of us is made in God’s image. As a result, all humans regardless of race or religion or any other segregator that we devise is equally valuable in the eyes of our Creator. Clearly, the KKK does not get it. I do not agree with the KKK so I do not support candidates who have ties to the KKK. But to say the government is in the business of saying this group is OK but that one is not, then we no longer have a democracy. Reflect back to Andrew Shepard’s key speech component above.

What does this mean for me as a Christian? What does it mean for a Christian to live in a democracy? We should be thankful and should defend the democracy in which we live. Democracy is the form of government that Christians have yearned for through the centuries. In a democracy, we are free to express our beliefs and not be hindered by the government in living out our beliefs. That yearning is the very reason that Christian men established this country. The reason that Christian men established this country in the manner that they did is because it was considered an imperative that every person has a voice. Every person having a voice, having value as a result, is a reflection of each of us being made in God’s image. Even those whose beliefs are not aligned with Scripture still have value. They were made in God’s image. They have a voice. If we shut their voice down, we ensure that we cannot share the gospel. We ensure that we don’t make disciples. Even KKK members are made in God’s image. That is what the families of the Emmanuel 9 demostrated to us all. All of us sinners are made in God’s image. Let us never forget that. Do we write them off because they unrepentantly thwart and use the Word of God in ways that are obviously inconsistent with a consistent and true God? No, we do not.

We are all children of God even when we are shaking our fist at Him. To say that one does not deserve a voice ensures that they will continue to hold on to the beliefs that they hold. Democracy is the essence of God. He gives us free will. He gives us the democracy to shake our fist at Him. It is our job as Christians to point people to Jesus Christ. He condemned hyprocrisy of those who feigned allegiance to God but he never condemned those who did not truly understand and know God. He sat down with them and ate with them. He talked with them. He then showed them the truth of the gospel. How can you ever change the heart of Klan member if you write them off as pigs? How can you ever change the hearts of anyone who disagrees with you if you don’t encounter them with kindness? Changing hearts takes getting to know people. Changing hearts takes us going beyond just those who walk in lock step with us.

Therein lies the congruence of Christianity and democracy. Democracy demands that all voices be allowed to speak even when those views are radically different from our own. Christianity demands that we love people whose views are radically different from ours. Maybe we should modify fictional President Andrew Shepherd’s words,

“Christianity isn’t easy. Being a Christ follower is advanced humility. You’ve gotta want people to find Christ bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want everyone to be a Christ follower? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which is obviously against His Word while you have spent a lifetime living by it.”

For democracy to survive, we must allow all voices to be heard even those that are diametrically opposed to what I believe in. In democracy, what is best for the nation results from those open discussions of diametrically opposed ideas. In democracy, the common good comes from recognizing that other’s opinions must be dealt with. When we silence those we have ideas that are not mainstream, are not the idea of the generation, are not the favored opinion, we divorce ourselves from democracy.

For Christianity to survive, we must not throw away those whose beliefs are fist shaking in God’s face. We must recognize they are children of God. We must recognize they are God’s creation. We must recognize that we cannot write them off. We must recognize that their soul is more important than their current views. We must recognize the common good is more people finding Jesus Christ. We must not silence their opinion. We were once in total rebellion against God before we met Jesus. We must accomplish God’s mission not ours. We must love them into finding Jesus.

Democracy is tough stuff. Being a Christ follower is tough stuff.

As you know, unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, the Supreme Court of the United States of America issued its ruling on same-sex marriage earlier this week. I have not spoken publicly on this issue yet because I have been really trying to process my thoughts on this issue. My thoughts boil down to a couple of points. First, I have real concerns about the liberty of our society going forward when the Supreme Court our land steps out beyond its boundaries as the arbiter and interpreter of laws in relationship to the Constitution. Second, there is the issue that the rulings of the Supreme Court do not square with Scripture regardless of the spin that some place upon it. Finally, as Christ followers, we must approach this new world with an eye for pointing people to Christ, the same Christ that opened our eyes to our lifestyles that grieved the heart of God.

The first issue that I have been wrestling with in response to the Court’s ruling is that the Court made law this week instead of just interpreting it. Along those lines as well, did they interpret the Constitution correctly? I do not claim to be a constitutional law expert but there are some basic principles that I understand. I am a judicial conservative when it comes to the Constitution. In my opinion, we cannot make it say what it does not say just to solve a social problem. There are two linchpins on which this ruling rests. Those are the 10th Amendment and the 14th Amendment. Those arguing in front of the Court to preserve laws on the books argued under the 10th Amendment that the people of our country in causing this amendment to be added to the Constitution that there was a fear that the US central government could overstep its bounds if its powers were not specifically enumerated and limited to those that were enumerated. Progressively though over the past 150 years or so, the power of the 10th Amendment has slowly been eroding away by the courts, Congress and the Executive branches of government. Our Federal government has more power now than ever envisioned by the founders of our country. This week’s ruling again expands the power of the Federal government. The 10th Amendment expressly stated that those powers not specifically enumerated in the Constitution as belong to the central government were not to be its powers. Anything specifically stated as a power of the central government was specifically stated to be a power of the states and/or the people. I challenge anyone to find in the Constitution that the power of defining marriage as one of the powers of the central government. It has long been the purview of the individual states to regulate civil matters such as marriage, property, law enforcement, and other such matters that are so voluminous in nature that it would be impractical for the central government to process in a timely fashion. Therefore, one of the primary issues here to me is where does the boundary of what is federal and what is state end. That is one the scary aspects of this ruling is that it takes away another power from the states. Slowly but surely, every power granted to the states will be taken away so as to ensure that specific groups are protected. That is one of clear indications of the ruling is that the courts and the federal, central government is increasing taking away the power of individual states. Should not have these state laws have been invalidated by the Court and sent back to the states to be rewritten in such a way that is compliant with the Constitution. No, the courts decided to define for us what the law is. There was no remand order. Now, the real issue is where does the power of the central government end. The Federal government ripped a gaping hole in the 10th Amendment this week. The path that we are now on makes the need for state governments almost a waste of money and time. This is not what the framers of the Constitution envisioned. They so feared an all powerful central government that has every power imaginable that they fled to United States to free themselves from the tyranny of an all powerful central government. To enforce this ruling of the Court, even more power will be accorded to the central government. The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. This should be alarming to the average citizen of this country regardless of whether you see this issue as a spiritual or a secular one. Our country was founded on limited federal government. As Joey Tribianni once said to Chandler Bing on Friends when Chandler had kissed Joey’s girlfriend, “you are so far beyond the line on this one that the line is a dot to you!” We are so far beyond the line of limited federal government the 10th Amendment is completely gutted. It is a dot in our rear view mirror.

Those who argue for the legality of same-sex marriage before the Court made their arguments under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. This Amendment features the “due process of law” and “equal protection under the law” clauses under which so many issues have been argued before the Court. Proponents of same-sex marriage before the Court argued that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in the states that disallow it deprived them of the pursuit of life, liberty and property guaranteed by the post-Civil War enacted 14th Amendment. This amendment is the linchpin prevents persons from being denied access to rights under state law to declare laws that are in controversion to the amendment can be struck down. Brown vs. Board of Education that ended segregated public education was argued under this law among other landmark cases. In each of these previous landmark decisions, the arguments were to allow persons similarly situated to have the same rights under the law or that laws should be equally applied to all persons. The application of this due process and equal protection under the law is the troubling issue here. In cases of segregation, there was clear view a black man and a white man, a Native American and a white man, an Asian and a white man similarly situated should have the same rights and the same protection under the law. This concept is clear and unquestioned. The cases argued before the court were to ensure that all persons had access to rights. The issue of marriage seems more of a privilege than a right fundamental to the pursuit of life, liberty and property. Unmarried persons do not have any less protection under the law than married citizens. In case I was not married, I would still have guarantees of my ability to pursue life, liberty and property. The lack of marriage would not prevent me for enjoying equal protection under the law. Laws have not been enacted that prevent me from exercising my full rights as a citizen of a state or this country just because I am unmarried compared to married citizens. If I am unmarried, there are no laws that prevent me from passing on inheritance, voting, accessing basic human services, adopting a child and so on. Marriage, along these lines, does not appear to be an inalienable human liberty. It was not considered the purview of governments at all until the 16th century. Therefore, it was not considered something that had to be guaranteed by the government until some 500 or so years ago. It was always prior to that time considered to be the purview of the church. Marriage was a spiritual institution and not a government one. Our government was founded on the basis of ensuring that there are rights common to all mankind for all time that must be guaranteed. Marriage does not appear then to be a governmentally protected inalienable human right that must be protected by the government

Therefore, marriage at its very core is a spiritual issue. It is a God-ordained institution. According to Scripture, it is clear that marriage is reserved for the male-female relationship. According to Mike Riccardi, in the online magazine, The Cripplegate, in an article entitled, “Is it True That Jesus Never Addressed Homosexuality?”, Ricardi states,

“In Matthew 19, He [Jesus] goes out of His way to make this point in order to underscore that marriage, by its very nature, is a divinely-ordained institution—that the originator of marriage is the Creator Himself. He makes this point, which would otherwise seem superfluous, in order to make it clear that that divinely-ordained institution exists only between one man and one woman. God created man as male and female, and then brought them together in one flesh as the husband-wife relationship illustrates the complementarity and unity-in-diversity that characterizes God’s own nature as one Being who eternally exists in three Persons.” To legitimize marriage outside these boundaries is against God’s plan for marriage. To claim otherwise, one must rewrite Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 6:7-11, Paul says some controversial words in light of the recent ruling from the Supreme Court. Paul says,

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Paul speaks of sin and these are examples of sin. Each one of us fits into one of these categories. We probably can fit into multiple categories. The one that jumps out at us in today’s world is the one about practicing homosexuality. We are told today that it is not a sin. It is an alternative lifestyle. It is now acceptable behavior. We often hear the argument that we are no longer under the law of the Old Testament and therefore homosexuality is acceptable behavior in the post-Crucifixion world in which we live. Therefore, the 39 books of the Old Testament can be ignored. Bam. Over half the Bible thrown out the window. We, too, then have to throw Paul’s writings out too because he mentions homosexuality as being a sin. They argue that Paul created his own theology and Jesus never said anything about homosexuality being wrong. In order to get to the Bible being acceptable to homosexual lifestyles, we must get rid of 90% of the Bible. The direct quotes of Jesus Christ (the red letter words in many Bibles) comprise about 10% of the total words in the entire Bible. Jesus may not have expressly stated that homosexuality was a sin but his ministry was among the Jews for the most part and as such it was commonly accepted that such lifestyles were against Scripture. He had no need to preach to the choir. There was common agreement.

Further, Jesus himself said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Paul’s theology is based on the fact that the law points us to our need for Jesus. We are all condemned by our sins. Therefore, we need Jesus’ grace through his death on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins that makes us right with God. God’s timeless truth is inconvenient to those who are reveling in their sin whether it be homosexuals, adulterers, thieves, slanderers, liars, cheaters, murderers, etc. When we refuse to call our favorite sin a sin, we begin rationalizing away God’s truth. We parce down the Bible to only the parts that we think are agreeable to the lifestyle that we desire to lead. We, thus, say that we are higher than God. We become our own gods. We define truth for ourselves. There down the slippery slope we go until all behaviors are acceptable because I myself determine what is right and wrong. No need for God ultimately. To revel in sin and call it not sin does not make it any less sin in the eyes of our Creator who is truth. We can go as far as to say He does not exist but that does not mean that He doesn’t! We are all sinners.

I have focused on homosexuality here because it is the hot button topic of our day. We hear it declared in public squares that it is no longer a sin. It is now given public validation in the highest court of our land. We are mistaken. It is a sin. Plain and simple. To refuse to see it as such is to ignore virtually all of God’s Word. If being forced to choose between the ever lowering morality of man vs. the timeless moral absolutes of God’s Word, I will choose God’s Word.

However, before you lynch me at the tree of today’s intolerant tolerance, let us remind ourselves that practicing homosexuality is part of a laundry list of behaviors that if unrepentantly practiced will exclude us from the kingdom of God. The adulterer who continually has sex outside of his marriage and has no remorse or repentance in his soul is just as condemned as anyone else before God. Our society is continually scarred by adulterous behavior. Broken homes. Single parent families. Multiple stepdads and stepmoms. Kids with different last names than their mothers. Baby daddies instead of fathers. Women with no regard for the treasure that they carry and who give it away like cheap dime store candy. And that’s just sexual sin. Murder is rampant in our society. Lying reaches the highest levels as we spin the world to be what makes us all look the best. Greed is on display constantly where charitable causes and churches struggle to make ends meet but yet we do not think twice about financing $50,000 vehicles and $500,000 homes that we cannot afford. The vacation industry is booming as we seek to indulge ourselves rather than helping the homeless. Alcohol sales are at an all-time high as we seek to numb our souls. Alcoholism equally is at an all-time high. Courts are full nowadays with claims of cheating. There are more lawyers per capita on the planet now than there ever has been as we seek to blame others for stupid mistakes that we make. At least with the homosexual contingent, they have spent time parcing down the Bible to justify the rightness of their cause so that they can continue to enjoy their sin without any guilt. The rest of us simply ignore biblical truth when we continue flagrantly to enjoy our sins. Unrepentant. Blatantly ignoring the Word of God. When it comes to the sin(s) that we do not want to give up, we simply ignore what the Bible says. Many quit reading the Bible altogether because of the conviction that it will bring concerning our pet sins. To say that homosexuality is the demon of all sins is incorrect for we are all sinners. The only way that we can justify homosexuality is to rip pages out of the Bible and move on to live that lifestyle unrepentantly. The only way to justify any sin that we wish to not give up is to rip pages out of the Bible. The only way to justify our flagrant disregard for our pet behavior that is against God’s Word is to out and out ignore it. In this age, it is easy for Christians to overlook or tolerate some immoral behaviors as greed and call it the pursuit of the American Dream. It is easy to ignore drunkenness and call it having a good time while remaining outraged at murder, theft, and homosexuality. All of it is sin. There is no one sin that is greater than another. All sin, one sin condemns us before our Maker.

It is this realization that changes the game. It is the law that exposes our utter failure to live holy lives before a holy God. We are condemned. We are all of us bound for hell without intervention from a loving but just God. He so wants us to avoid final judgment to hell that He sent His Son to be the sacrificial lamb for our sins. Through His substitutionary sacrifice, our sins are forgiven. That which on our own will condemn us to hell is washed away. The slate is cleaned. The only requirement for this cleansing of sin’s stain and sin’s sentence to hell is to repent from our sins and turn away from them. We must call out to Jesus Christ to deliver us from our own evil. When we profess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to die for our sins and proclaim Him to be the Lord over our lives, He will send the Holy Spirit of God to live and dwell in our souls. We must give over control of our desires, wants, and needs to a holy God through the action of the Holy Spirit in our souls. When we see what we were before and what we are now in Christ, that should change our perspective on how we must react to those who are actively practicing lifestyles of any kind that are in direct opposition to Scripture. We were there ourselves before we met Jesus Christ.

We are must be careful to point out that the lifestyles are in opposition to Scripture rather than making the person a demon. We were once unrepentant sinners ourselves until someone took the time to get to know us and talk to us about our life in comparison to Scripture. On the hot button issue of homosexuality, we must not fear them, ridicule them, or demonize them. We cannot make this sin any greater than any other sin. We cannot praise the unrepentant display of greed, a sin, while demonizing those who unrepentantly practice homosexuality. Their lives can be transformed just as ours were. The church should be a haven for forgiveness and healing for repentant homosexuals without compromising our stance on the unrepentant practice of homosexuality. We are all being transformed from the emptiness of sin into the fullness of life in Jesus Christ.

Even murderers such as Dillon Roof can be transformed by the healing power of forgiveness in repentance before Jesus Christ. None are too far gone that repentance and reaching out to Jesus Christ cannot save. We saw true Christ followers offer the forgiveness of a Savior to man who had just killed their family members. Murderers, rapists, homosexuals, sexually promiscuous men and women, drug addicts, greedy people, adulterers, idol worshipers, all those who actively participate in sins that are in opposition to Scripture should be treated no differently that the Emanuel AME church parishioners treated Dillon Roof. When they expect condemnation from us, we offer them Jesus Christ. Paul says,

“Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God!”

Let us be that church. Transformed people reaching out to unrepentant sinners and helping them see their sins for what they are…in love, not hate. Transforming with love not hate. Not accepting lifestyles that are in opposition to Scripture but realizing that we once raised our fist at God too so that we come from a position of love rather than judgment or hate. Prayer instead of protest. Engagement rather than ivory tower condemnation. Leading with Jesus rather than our opinion.

I am not usually one to comment immediately on news stories of the day with knee jerk posts. And, this post itself is not a knee jerk reaction to what is going on right now in Baltimore. It comes watching events such as this unfold repeatedly throughout the past couple of years. This post is to point out and praise the people of South Carolina in light of Ferguson, MO and in light of Baltimore, MD. Recently, we had a white cop who shot and killed a black man on video right here in South Carolina. The expectation because of recent similar events in other parts of the United States was that North Charleston, SC would explode in rioting just as these other cities have. However, the powder keg explosion never happened here. Say, what you will about South Carolina and maybe your perceptions of its backwardness if you are from some other part of the country. However, our people, both black and white, are both practical and rooted in the Christian faith.

We are a practical people. Just look back at integration in the 1970s. There was no violence here. It was tense but it was quiet. South Carolinians are practical people, black and white. We work. We believe, both black and white, that it is better to work than depend on the government. We work to provide for our families. We work to make a better life. To destroy property without personal cause seems strange to us. We realize that we are hurting no one but ourselves when we behave as Northerners do. We are too busy about making a living for our families than to descend into anarchy and then have to pick up the pieces later. In South Carolina, we, both black and white, have come to learn that our history is our teacher. The old South Carolina and its ways caused us great poverty and strife. Race relations are not perfect here, but we are practical people, both black and white. Our history is ugly and we vow to never be that South Carolina again. South Carolina is about work and making a living. South Carolina is about industry and raising the standard of living of all South Carolinians. We learned along time ago that if every man has a job, all of our boats are lifted. That’s why North Charleston did not explode. Yes, there were protests in North Charleston and that is our right as citizens to express our opinions right or wrong. That is the fundamental right of all citizens of South Carolina and our nation. The response by North Charleston residents was measured and appropriate. I can express my rage at police brutality without committing violence myself. I praise the community leaders of North Charleston for handling this in the practical way that South Carolinians approach life. Say what you will about South Carolina but we will not be rebuilding North Charleston for years to come.

We are a people rooted in the Christian faith. In our Christian values, truth is valued. On the surface the North Charleston shooting appears to be murder. However, the people of South Carolina are considering more than just what was scene on the video. The truth is that there was a reason that the man ran from the simple traffic stop in North Charleston. Honest people don’t run. Sure, the use of force appears to have been misguided. However, the people of South Carolina, both black and white, are waiting for the truth to come out. And the truth will come out. The cop involved has already been charged with murder and I expect that his use of force compared to the crime and compared to the fact that his life was not in danger will result in a conviction on this charge. But North Charleston did not explode. There is hope in the faith in Jesus Christ. There is the belief that life will get better. There is the belief that the truth will come out in the end. We wait for the judicial process to take its course. This is why North Charleston did not explode.

Think about it. There is truth in the words above. Say what you will about South Carolina but we, black and white, value where South Carolina is going and not where it has been. South Carolina is about opportunity. South Carolina is about work leading to a better life for all. South Carolina is about practicality. South Carolina is about if you burn it down you just have to come back later and rebuild it. We know that from history. South Carolina is my home. I have lived all my life here except for three years in California. I would live no place else. When I compare the reaction in North Charleston to the reactions in Ferguson and Baltimore, it confirms that I have the right place to call home. It is the state I was born in. It is the state that I am unashamed to say I am from there. It is the state that I am very proud of right now. It is South Carolina.

As we’ve already seen in God’s complementary design of man and woman for marriage (chapter 6), this prohibition also includes sex between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. On this the Bible is explicit. Right before prohibiting sex with animals, the Old Testament reads, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18: 22, NIV). Someone might say, “But that’s just Old Testament law, which also includes prohibitions against eating pork (see Leviticus 11: 7). Does that mean Southern barbecue is also sin?” This may sound like a good argument until we realize the clear and critical distinctions between different types of laws in Leviticus. Some of the laws are civil in nature, and they specifically pertain to the government of ancient Israel in a way that they do not necessarily pertain to governments today. Other laws are ceremonial, prescribing particular sacrifices, offerings, and festivals for God’s people under the old covenant . These civil and ceremonial laws applied specifically to Jewish people in the Old Testament, and we know this because these laws are not reiterated for all people in the New Testament. However, various moral laws (such as prohibitions against stealing and lying, for example) are explicitly reiterated in the New Testament. [67] These laws, based upon God’s character, clearly apply to all people for all time. [68] We know that moral laws include prohibitions not only against stealing and lying, but also against homosexual activity because when we get to the New Testament, Jesus himself teaches that the only God-honoring alternative to marriage between a man and a woman is singleness (see Matthew 19: 10-12). Moreover, the New Testament describes “dishonorable passions” with the example of women who “exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature” and men who “likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, . . . committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1: 26-27). God is clear in his Word that homosexual activity is prohibited. [69]


Each of the Bible’s sexual prohibitions is encapsulated in the all-encompassing command “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6: 18). These words were written to a church in the sex-crazed city of Corinth, where singles were sexually involved before marriage, husbands and wives were sexually involved outside of marriage, homosexuality was condoned, and prostitution was common. (Not much has changed in two thousand years.) So to the church in that culture and to the church in our culture, God says, “Flee from sexual immorality—any and all sexual thinking, looking, desiring, touching , speaking, and acting outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Don’t rationalize it, and don’t reason with it— run from it. Flee it as fast as you can.” God says this for his glory. And God says this for our good. But we don’t believe God on this one. None of us do. By this point it should be clear that the Bible doesn’t speak simply against adultery or homosexuality but against multiple manifestations of sexual immorality in every single one of our lives.

Let me confess the obvious before I go any further. I represent the class of people responsible for the vast majority of sexual immorality in the world today: male heterosexuals. It is heterosexual men who fund the pornography and prostitution industries in the world, and I’m convinced it’s the lack of loving leadership and selfless sacrifice in heterosexual husbands and dads that has caused the majority of sexual confusion across our culture.

I emphasize this because when my initial questions about my gay family member drove me to the gospel, I was immediately convicted not about sexual sin in his life but about sexual sin in my life. My purpose in even addressing the issue of sexual immorality is not to rail against the dominance of sexual sin in the culture around us but to expose the depth of sexual sin that lies within us. I and every reader of this book are guilty at multiple levels of sexual thought, desire, speech, and deed outside of marriage between a husband and a wife. None of us are innocent of sexual immorality , and none of us are immune to it.

The gospel tells us why this is so. We all possess a heart of pride that is inclined to turn away from God (see Genesis 8: 21). One of the most significant passages on sexual immorality in the Bible starts, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. . . . Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity , to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves” (Romans 1: 21, 24). These potent verses diagnose dark hearts as the root of sinful desires. In our hearts, we all have a sinful tendency to turn aside from God’s ways to our wants. This tendency has an inevitable effect on our sexuality . Note the fascinating connection made by these Scriptures. When we spurn praising God in our hearts, we are prone to sexual impurity in our lives. To make matters worse, we were born this way. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, every single person born of a man and a woman has inherited this sinful heart. We may all have different biological heritages, but we all share one common spiritual inheritance: sin (see Psalm 51; Romans 5: 12-21). This is important to remember, because not one of us can or should say, “God wouldn’t allow me (or someone else) to be born with a bent toward a particular sexual sin.” Instead, the Bible is clear: every one of us is born with a bent toward sexual sin. But just because we have that bent doesn’t mean we must act upon it. We live in a culture that assumes a natural explanation implies a moral obligation . If you were born with a desire, then it’s essential to your nature to carry it out . This is one reason why our contemporary discussion of sexuality is wrongly framed as an issue of civil rights. Even in the virtual absence of scientific evidence that proves homosexual desire is linked to DNA, the emerging cultural morality is now willing to elevate personal desires to the level of highest moral authority so that people have a “right” to fulfill their sexual desires however they prefer. Furthermore, it is now argued that to deny people that “right” is akin to racism. According to popular opinion, just as we must not discriminate between black and white people, we should not differentiate between heterosexual and homosexual preferences. We live in a day when saying that heterosexual or homosexual activity is immoral is equivalent to saying a white or black person is inferior. But this line of thought is fundamentally flawed, for it denies the obvious distinction between ethnic identity and sexual activity. Ethnic identity is a morally neutral attribute . Black or white is not an issue of right or wrong, and any attempt to say otherwise should be opposed (as we will explore in the next chapter). However, sexual activity is a morally chosen behavior. To be sure, similar to how we have different skin colors, we may possess different dispositions toward certain sexual behaviors. But where our ethnic makeup is not determined by a moral choice or contrary to a moral command, our sexual behavior is a moral decision , and just because we are inclined to certain behaviors does not make such behaviors right.

Platt, David (2015-02-03). Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography (pp. 162-163, 164-167). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.