Gun violence: what changed?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Gun 007

Like most people, I am concerned about the increasing murder rate. This is especially disturbing when murders taking place in schools, theaters, shopping malls, public transportation, etc., even in places that used to be low crime areas.

What happened? Why now? What changed? Guns have not become more accessible. If anything, gun restrictions have increased, even in the U. S. A., which has a “right to bear arms” written into its constitution.

What really changed? Could it be the lower value we place on life, legalizing the murder of unborn children and calling it “women’s health care”? Surely the blood of the holocaust of babies killed in the United States alone cries out to God day and night. Or is it a rise in mental instability caused by glorification of sexual sin in our culture? Or a complete loss of our moral compasses by worshiping idols of our own design instead of the true living and loving God?

If someone has no murder in his heart, he won’t use a gun, knife, poison, or any other means to murder someone. If someone has murder in his heart, any weapon, legal or illegal, can be used to kill people. If it makes you feel better, crusade in vain against guns. Or collect them. Whatever. That isn’t the issue. The issue is a matter of the heart and spiritual health. When someone is full of God’s love, they don’t go around committing murder. They follow God’s law, because they genuinely love God and love their neighbors.

Remember the Ten Commandments? They are good for society.

 

What is Marriage, anyway?

Sunday, 19 July 2015
Maggie & James wedding photo by Sean McGrath

Maggie & James wedding photo by Sean McGrath

One problem with discussions of “marriage” today is that people can’t agree on what that word means, usually because they disagree with God’s idea of what Marriage is. There are those who promote all kinds of relationships as being equivalent to marriage. Why? Probably because they want the tax and insurance benefits of civil marriage without a real marriage, or because they wish to mock God and his people. Or maybe it is a vain attempt to get rid of the guilt associated with those forms of sin that are destroy true marriage.

I believe that the Holy Bible is a totally relevant book that reveals God’s plan for mankind, so I’ll start looking there.

“Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.”—Genesis 1:24

This again you do: you cover Yahweh’s altar with tears, with weeping, and with sighing, because he doesn’t regard the offering any more, neither receives it with good will at your hand. Yet you say, ‘Why?’ Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant. Did he not make you one, although he had the residue of the Spirit? Why one? He sought godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce”, says Yahweh, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with violence!” says Yahweh of Armies. “Therefore pay attention to your spirit, that you don’t be unfaithful.”—Malachi 2:13-16

“Haven’t you read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?’ So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, don’t let man tear apart.”—Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. He who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”—Jesus in Luke 16:18

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled; but God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.—Hebrews 13:4

Now concerning the things about which you wrote to me: it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But, because of sexual immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband give his wife the affection owed her,* and likewise also the wife her husband. The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband. Likewise also the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife. Don’t deprive one another, unless it is by consent for a season, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and may be together again, that Satan doesn’t tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
But this I say by way of concession, not of commandment. Yet I wish that all men were like me. However each man has his own gift from God, one of this kind, and another of that kind. But I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they remain even as I am. But if they don’t have self-control, let them marry. For it’s better to marry than to burn. But to the married I command—not I, but the Lord—that the wife not leave her husband (but if she departs, let her remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband not leave his wife.
But to the rest I—not the Lord—say, if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she is content to live with him, let him not leave her. The woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he is content to live with her, let her not leave her husband. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbeliever departs, let there be separation. The brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us in peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? Only, as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called each, so let him walk. So I command in all the assemblies.—1 Corinthians 7:1-17
There is more in the Holy Bible, but this should help you start to see that:
  • Marriage is between a man and a woman.
  • Marriage is instituted by God, and it is He who joins the couple together.
  • Marriage is a life-long covenant.
  • Marriage is a place to conceive and nurture godly children.
  • Marriage is the only proper context for sexual unions.
  • Marriage is not something to be entered into lightly, and certainly not something to terminate at will.
  • Marriage involves love, respect, and commitment.

So what does government have to do with God’s definition of marriage? I have read the Holy Bible cover-to-cover many times, and I can’t find any link, there. That is just a legal and cultural aspect of marriage that varies from place to place and time to time. God’s definition of marriage remains. No human legislature, court, or vote can change it.

WE WIN!

Friday, 17 July 2015
Crucifix in Marburg

You can’t crucify Jesus again.

Did you hear that government officials of various nations are defying God, redefining marriage, and calling His people bigots when they don’t agree?

Guess what? It doesn’t actually change the nature of Christian marriage when the Supreme Court of the U. S. A. or Canada says marriage can include unions forbidden by God. It doesn’t detract from my freedom to believe in God. It doesn’t change the way we value true marriage and family. It doesn’t change the love God has for all of us, no matter what sins we have committed.

What it does change is the future of those who defy God, unless they also repent and follow Jesus Christ. Do you hear laughter from Heaven? Has it occurred to anyone just how sadly funny the thought of defying God is? Stand clear, because the Supreme Judge of the Universe has so much power that He can afford to delay His judgement because of His mercy and love. Just don’t think that judgement will never come on those who reject Him and His Son.

There is still time to accept God’s free gift of forgiveness and eternal life. This offer is open to all, no matter what sins you may have committed, be they worshiping false gods, stealing, coveting what isn’t yours, murder, abortion, hatred, sexual immorality, lust, or whatever you have done. You know it is wrong because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and no change of human law can take the conviction and guilt away. There is a cure for sin, though, and it is in the sacrifice Jesus Christ made of Himself on the cross. He took the full punishment for all of our sin. All we have to do is accept that forgiveness, turn from our wicked ways, and follow Him. When we do, Father God will forgive us, help us to walk in His ways, and restore our joy and peace.

It is a process. There is opposition– sometimes deadly opposition, but no human can kill your spirit.

Rejoice! We win! Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and so will we who follow Him!

Freedom Requires Boundaries

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The Ukarumpa Fence

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
— first Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.

We celebrate freedom in the USA on the 4th of July. We celebrate freedom from the tyranny of a distant monarch who dictated what the official religion was, and persecuted those who differed slightly in their beliefs and practices in the worship of God. We celebrate freedom expressed in our constitution’s Bill of Rights.

But freedom is not free. It is very costly to maintain and defend. It also requires boundaries. There must be limits on my freedom if you are to also enjoy the same freedom I enjoy, and vice versa. I am free to speak and write, and so are you, but we are not free to deceive, seriously endanger, or kill people with our words. Words can be powerful forces for good in showing love and compassion. Words can also harm people, incite riots, start wars, and cause the fall of mankind. The first recorded sin in the Holy Bible consists totally of words. The serpent lied to Eve and told her that God was trying to withhold good from her and her husband rather than keep them away from an evil danger. The next sin, of course, was when the woman and man acted on those words and disobeyed God, resulting in a shorter lifespan for all mankind. That was long ago, but consider how words can harm in the present. False testimony in court could condemn an innocent person to prison or even death. An illegal or unwise command in the military could do grievous lethal harm. Of course, even the much more common and less severe taunting of a verbal bully is not the sort of thing we defend freedom of speech for.

So what is it about freedom of religion and freedom of speech that so many have died to defend?

  • Honest free speech and a free and honest press is the best defense against an abusive government, especially in a democracy.
  • Honest debate in the public arena helps people to resolve differences and come to peaceful solutions to problems.
  • We desire freedom to worship God in the way that we believe most pleases Him.
  • We want everyone in our country (and really, the world) to have these same rights for them to be effective.

So why must there be limits on free speech and freedom of religion? It is simple, really. There is more than one person in the universe. We live with other people in families, communities, and nations. Your freedom of speech ends where mine begins and vice versa. I should not compel you to say anything you don’t actually believe and vice versa. For example, you cannot compel me to proclaim that Mohammed is God’s prophet or kill me if I don’t. That may be exactly what your religion demands you do to me, but that would rob me of my freedom to believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Father God and to only proclaim what I believe is true. Likewise, I refuse to try to force anyone to believe in Jesus Christ, but I will do my level best to tell the Truth as I understand it, fully believing that God is well able to reward those who follow Him and reserves serious wrath and torment for those who keep rejecting Him and His love. It must be out of love.

You cannot compel me to say that a homosexual union is the same as a real marriage between one man and one woman. I will not say so on a cake, on a marriage license, in expression of my talents as a photographer, in my art, in print, or verbally. I believe that is contrary to God’s law. Likewise, I cannot compel my homosexual friends to confess that they are deceived and that God really meant what He said in the Holy Bible in any of those forums. This is the sort of freedom we have. To the extent that you violate the boundaries, you lose freedom yourself as well as taking it from others.

I have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. And I do. There is a higher law that is not in conflict with the U. S. Constitution. It is God’s law. Check it out. See the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 and the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12:

Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

The myth of separation of Church and State

Monday, 29 June 2015

Charleston SC steeple 3There are some who believe that “separation of Church and State” is in the Constitution of the United States of America. It is almost there in the clause that prohibits the Federal government from making any law that establishes a religion or prohibits free exercise of religion. This clause addressed real concerns of abuses that had actually happened where a state-sponsored denomination would oppress other denominations, using the power of the state against them. I say “almost” because this clause in the Constitution is certainly not interpreted by all the same way. It is actually more clear as a Baptist doctrine with ties to Thomas Jefferson. I see those things clearly, but why do I call separation of Church and State a myth?

First, for clarity, I’m talking about the Church that is a collection of all people who follow Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and seeking to please Father God. These people honor the Holy Bible as being inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, and thus authoritative and trustworthy. I’m not talking about the other definitions of “church” that refer to buildings, corporations, and fully human institutions. I’m not talking about other religions as being part of the Church, in spite of the fact that they, too, enjoy freedom to worship God as they see fit, provided that worship doesn’t include things like killing, stealing, and other anti-social and harmful behavior. The Church I’m speaking of includes a very diverse group comprising many denominations, races, nationalities, languages, cultures, and traditions. The Church meets in cathedrals, mud huts, buildings, homes, tents, open air—wherever. The Church engages in activities promoting social good, feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute, and promoting righteousness and peace. The Church works regular jobs of all kinds: growing food, buying and selling, manufacturing, providing necessary services—whatever honest occupations there are. The Church is involved in all levels of government, because there are believers in Jesus Christ involved in government. The Church is involved in education, defense, police and other emergency services. The Church is involved in healing, both in natural ways through the practice of medical care and supernatural ways through prayer and faith in God.

The Church cannot be entirely separated from a society, even with the use of deadly force. Governments in Albania, North Korea, and other places have tried and failed, because they can only attack the visible buildings, institutions, and people they know about. They can cause a great deal of pain and suffering in the effort, and reduce the number of Christians living among them, but persecution also strengthens the Church. It weeds out the uncommitted and puts the convictions of those who really believe in Jesus Christ on display to the degree that others become convinced of the Truth every time someone is martyred.

The best we can do in government is to refrain from interfering in Church matters, such as interfering in free speech and freedom of action on social issues such as abortion, marriage and family, social justice, and how to love all people without condoning, supporting, or celebrating sin. The best we can do as individuals who believe in Jesus Christ is to comply with the law of the land except where those laws contradict God’s higher law—and do so in love.


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