Respecting The Paint

yellow stripes roadAccording to the United States Department of Transportation there are almost 247 million registered motor vehicles navigating over 5 million miles of roadway in America. That’s an average of 50 cars per mile.

I willfully try not to think about these numbers, nor the caliber or condition of individuals operating these motor vehicles, while I am on the road. The next time you take a trip across town try not to think about the hundreds of careless, teenaged, distracted, medicated and inebriated drivers piloting tons of high speeding steel all around you and in oncoming lanes!

Considering all this most American drivers wouldn’t dare venture into this potential tumult of vehicular chaos. Amazingly however, we do, every day, and with great confidence.

We’ve come to know, through experience, that driving a car is not as dangerous as it sounds or potentially could be.

The U.S. Department of Transportation confirms that finding by reporting a mere 1.75 million vehicle collisions each year. Though the number itself is large it amounts to less than 1% of all vehicles on the road and fails to fulfill the previously discussed potential for mayhem.

The truly amazing thing, is that all this is made possible by paint. On very few roads in America and on most highways there are little to no barriers preventing vehicles from colliding into each other much less keeping them from erratic and reckless behavior. The only thing maintaining order and preventing chaos on the interstates, highways and Main Streets of The United States are six inch stripes of yellow and white paint.

The rules of the road are among the few remaining absolutes western civilization still respects. We’ve been taught from the beginning of our driving careers to respect the rules of the road and, if all drivers would do so, it will guarantee safety as we travel. Previously cited Department of Transportation statistics demonstrate that the majority of American drivers respect the paint.

Recently the state highway passing through our town was repaved with expected government speed and efficiency. There were a few days, as they were completing the project, when there were no stripes on the fresh asphalt. Yet there were no accidents or collisions during those few days. It wasn’t that the road was less driven or easier to navigate. It was actually more difficult to drive that highway because it was reduced to one lane in many places. In the absence of stripes however, drivers knew where the lines should be and piloted their vehicles accordingly.

There was a time in western thought that the lines and stripes of God’s law and order were the prevalent worldview. Even in their absence we could act accordingly. No longer is this true. We’ve lost the ability to navigate life with even a remembrance of where the lines were and what they meant. We no longer respect God or His order as worthy of our consideration.

We’re expected to take for granted that reason and logic have stepped into the discussion and proven God to be an unreliable theory. The prevailing notion today is that science has laid to rest the naive simplicity of faith in God.
As a result of our cultures rejection of God we’ve become thoroughly secular. We allow no room for the sacred in our culture or families and we reject moral absolutes choosing rather to embrace moral relativism. The only time we allow for moral absolutes is when we perceive an injustice against ourselves and only then will we claim there to be anything morally definite.

We accept the notion that there is no objective moral standard nor a moral lawgiver that any man is required to live by until an athlete or an actor violates his contract, uses narcotics or is caught in a lie and then we are incredulous! There is no such thing as a moral compass until a state governor commits adultery, misappropriates funds, or lies under oath and then we find ourselves asserting once again that there indeed is a moral order to life that we must follow.

We have lived as if there were no stripes on the road and then, when chaos follows, we scratch our heads and wonder aloud, “what’s wrong with the world?”. We are paying a high price for rejecting God.

I believe the analogy of a striped road is a good example of the inequity that exists in popular thought towards God. Our practice betrays our logic.

Why do we obey the rules of the road? Because a book told us we should? What does that book know about where I’m going and how I’m going to get there? It was written by men who are nothing like me and printed years ago by people that don’t understand how I drive and where I need to go.

Times have changed! We have GPS now, backup cameras and parking assist controls. We don’t need to be burdened with our grandfathers’ outdated ideas of how to pilot a vehicle. That may have been what they needed to safely drive their old Studebakers and trucks but we don’t live in that world anymore.

Furthermore, how do I know I can trust the men who striped the roads themselves? Are they not men, capable of mistakes and failures? I don’t think I want to submit myself to some random officials anachronistic idea of how and where I should drive. I’ll drive where ever and how ever I want to drive.

While any clear thinking individual would find these lines of thinking laughable, not to mention reckless, we employ the same faulty logic and vacant objections towards faith in God.

When a drunk driver speeds all over town, running red lights and stop signs and eventually slams into a school bus killing several children we are shocked and horrified. Yet when we ignore the principles God has established to maintain blessing and health in our life we see no connection between our behavior and its result.

Marriage is not held sacred, life is treated cheaply, we abuse our bodies with drugs and alcohol, we maintain carnal and selfish lifestyles, subsidize poverty, avoiding God, His Word and His order and then shake our fist at God when things go wrong and blame Him for all the evil in the world. We’ve ignored the stripes He painted and then claim the disaster that’s come from our reckless behavior proves God can’t be real, good or both.

In short, we’ve asked God to let us do whatever we want and then we blame Him for the consequences or worse, claim the results prove His vacancy. We deny the viability of faith in God based, not upon experience or reason but rather, upon the choices and actions of men.

Those who have faith in God and in His Word have been plagued for centuries by questions meant to erode their faith through reason and logic. Some call themselves atheists, some agnostic others simply adopt the benign term “skeptic”.

Whatever they may be called, their questions have been around as long as faith has been professed. A faith in God and the Holy Bible as His Word does not allow room for indifference or neutrality. The demands and claims of the Bible concerning God and His laws require action and response. It is my belief that most people who deny God do so, not because of some logical or rational exercise, but rather because they are simply not willing not respond to the call of scripture.

Reason does not stand in the way of faith. In fact, now more than ever before, philosophy and the sciences point with increasing uniformity to a world that is complex, orderly and bears the fingerprint of a designer. From the anthropic principle to the fine tuning of the cosmological constants such as gravity, our world resonates with the echoes of a designer. It’s as if every blade of grass and drop of water is preaching, “There is a God!”

It was the Apostle Paul who said, “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). He went on to say that once they knew God yet did not honor Him their hearts were darkened and “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22).

Our society mocks faith in Christ and the Holy Bible as God’s divinely inspired Word as illegitimate and unfounded while at the same time expressing blind faith in the world that surrounds us every day.

I learned many interesting things in the two and a half years I worked as a pharmacy technician. One of the most commercially successful pain relievers on the market is acetaminophen, often branded as Tylenol. It was approved for use in 1951 but remarkably, after over 60 years of use the “mechanism of action remains unknown”. We know that acetaminophen works, we simply do not know how. Yet our ignorance of exactly how this drug works has not hindered us from taking it or giving it to our children. We’ve found it works when we use it so we trust our experience more than the argument.

We trust a chemical into our bodies that the people who produce it and regulate it admit they do not know exactly how it works. Yet when asked to trust centuries of experience and reliability in the laws of God we become incredulous.

Our logic is failing and we know it. We have reasoned our way out of God’s order and consequently the benefits it brings.

I believe we have reached a time in history when this is becoming increasingly clear. The way we’ve been living isn’t working. We’re ready for a change. The question is, do we have good reason to believe?

Why is it okay to engage in every imaginable alternative lifestyle and count all belief systems and ideologies valid and acceptable except Christianity? Why is Christianity singled out as the only insufferable faith?

If pain is such a problem in human existence how is there so much goodness in the world? How can we even understand evil without the existence of God?

Why do so many people have a problem with Christianity in specific? How does the atheist account for Christianity’s survival through the centuries?

What about the believer’s personal testimony? Are all people of faith guilty of perjury by default or is there any merit to their testimony? Have we reached a point, intellectually and spiritually, where we must rethink everything we know?

We’ve driven on unstriped roads for too long. I believe these questions, among others, are worthy of our consideration. I believe if we ask enough questions we will eventually find that we do indeed have reason to believe.

Neglecting The Familar

emptychair I won. I’ve finally won something on e-bay!

I won a cd for $1.49.

The cd was released in 1991. It was around the time that cd players became more affordable and more artists released their music on cd’s. I was 10 and remember getting our first CD player. It was the size of a small coffee table but it was magic.

Digital audio was still a relatively new technology and so production companies often printed instructions for how to care for the cd on the cd case insert.

I was amazed at the instructions that were given.

Always hold the cd by the edges.

When not in the cd payer always return the cd to its case.

If a fingerprint should get on the underside of the disc only wipe it off with a soft, dust/lint free cloth and always wipe in a straight line away from the center of the disc.

The instructions for care were followed by the promise, “If you care for your compact disc in this manner it should provide you with a lifetime of listening pleasure.”

As I read those instructions I mentally balanced them with the way an average person actually handles a cd.

I’ve got about three just laying loose in the floor of my minivan at this moment!

When we are not using them as a coaster for our drink we throw them around, pile them on top of each other (not in their cases), and wipe the pizza sauce off the underside with the back of our shirt (well, at least I do).

As our familiarity grows our care lessens.

This seems to be true of most things.

Consider the first year of marriage versus the 10th. If she gets a cold in the 1st year you’re rushing to the emergency room. If she gets a cold in the 10th year you’re buying a box of Kleenex so she doesn’t get anything in the casserole.

When I bought my first new car I babied it. No fast food. Wipe your feet. Routine maintenance, wash and wax. No driving fast or hitting bumps. Park at the back of the parking lot so some junker won’t scratch the paint.

After about 3 months that all starts to fade.

Before 1 year is up there’s fries under the floormats, pop stains in the cup holder and cd’s lodged in the seats.

When I first got my laptop I kept a lint free cloth between the keyboard and screen whenever I closed it. I always set it on a laptop fan base to keep the internal hardware cool and prevent damage.

Not anymore.

As our familiarity grows our care and attention lessens.

We become so familiar with things that we cease to genuinely care for them and appreciate their value. We take them for granted and neglect the care they properly deserve.

I sure hope this hasn’t also become true of my walk with God.

We must pray that, as we learn more about Him and walk daily with Him, that we don’t begin to neglect the simple disciplines that led us to Him in the beginning. Prayer, fasting, the reading of Scripture, corporate worship and giving. Simple disciplines that not only create but maintain an appropriate reverence and appreciation for who He is and all He is worthy to receive of us.

What an ironic tragedy it would be for God to be so near to us for so long that He would become familiar and we neglect His presence.

Perpetual Adolesence

20131205-011158.jpg It is certainly an unfortunate tragedy that Paul Walker’s life ended so young and we all naturally sympathize with his family and friends who lost a loved one and a family member.

However, I would surmise that if Paul Walker was given a second chance he would challenge all of us to never act as equally reckless as he and his friend were this past weekend.

He leaves behind a daughter and a message. Perpetual adolescence must end.

Whatever you idolize will determine what you also demonize. Our culture idolizes reckless adolescent behavior and so we demonize responsible adult behavior.

I realize my comments will most likely be misunderstood and this will be an unpopular post. Nevertheless, I feel like it needs to be said. Real men don’t risk their lives for an adolescent thrill. They put the needs of their children, wives and families ahead of their own adolescent drive towards selfish, reckless behavior.

You’ll not hear the media comment in this regard. The message we hear from Hollywood, the music industry, and the magazine aisle is that we should pursue self gratification and adventure at any cost. The ultimate evil to be avoided is not selfish, reckless behavior but boring, monotonous, adult behavior.

Our culture celebrates the adolescent. Television reality shows like The Bachelor and Big Brother, sitcoms like Two and a Half Men and How I Met your mother, as well as the litany of reckless and indulgent films offered to us by Hollywood every year, have indoctrinated us to believe that the worst day of a man’s life is the day he has to grow up.

I’m sure, if he were somehow able to comment, Mr Walker would choose to do things differently that day. He, I’m sure, would have chosen watching his teenage daughter grow into an adult and someday walking her down an aisle over the momentary thrill of high speeds on a California highway.

The Scriptures weigh in on this subject. 1Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

That’s good advice.

When you become a man it is time for adolescence to end. Men should not remain boys because when they do everyone around them suffers.

One of the leading indicators of potential incarceration is a fatherless home. One of the leading causes of poverty is fatherless homes. 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home [Fulton County GA jail populations, TX Department of Corrections, 1992], 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census].

Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999].

What’s the point?

The point is, while we celebrate the antics and thrills of the perpetually adolescent men surrounding us, we are encouraging one of the most destructive behaviors, not only to ourselves and our families, but to society.

As a culture, we’ve celebrated selfish, reckless behavior in men and enabled men to vacate their responsibilities to the children they create and the women they pursue.

Every little boy, every little girl, every mother, every wife, and every city needs men who have put aside childish things and have learned how to behave and take responsibility like a man.

The truth is that marriage to a woman often beckons men to a higher calling then they would naturally be inclined to achieve. As unfortunate as it is, the reality just might be, if Paul Walker had been married to his daughters mother, he most likely would have been more inclined to request that the driver of the speeding Porsche Carrera slowdown, if nothing else, for his wife and daughters sake.

In a culture of celebrated feminism and the idolization of the adolescent, there needs to be a clear call from the church for men to put aside perpetual adolescence and begin to behave responsibly, maturely and in an adult manner.

We need less boys and more men.

What Makes A Life

baby mobileIf there’s one thing the main stream media (MSM) loves it’s a juicy tale. Give us a celebrity divorce, a baby daddy, a hostage, some good old fashioned money laundering, adultery or murder. We’ll even take a cruise ship full of poop and make it a sensation!

However, something strange has happened the last few weeks. A man by the name of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, is accused of some of the most horrific crimes I’ve ever read. Crimes so awful I will not list their details here. Suffice it to say the nickname his office has gained, “House of Horrors”, is appropriate. Yet the MSM says nothing.

The details are horrific. Horrific. I certainly understand the desire to avoid willingly letting oneself being awash in these atrocious details. But to ignore it completely is indicative of, at the very least, a bias and an a priori position regarding abortion. In her opinion piece for USA Today, which you can read here at your own discretion,  Kirsten Powers points out the near total media silence on the details and trial of Kermit Gosnell. It makes the claim seem true that if the facts contend with the MSM narrative of any given issue then their response is to simply ignore the facts.

My contention is that the media has not ignored this story because it inaccurately or unfairly depicts the abortion industry but because it all too accurately displays what abortion looks like and what it really is. The murder of babies.

Many pro-abortion activists have used a series of philosophical arguments to advocate for the legality of abortion. Let’s examine them.

Self-Awareness: One individual told me that the difference is self-awareness. His contention was that self-awareness is what makes us fully human and grants us the person hood that is so morally sacred and protected by the laws of the United States. Since an embryo has no self-awareness (that we’re aware of) then it has no person hood or value to protect. It can be removed, like a tumor, at the will of its host. Considering the claim that the capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings leaves me with more questions.

When we are asleep we are not self aware. Do we lose person hood when we are asleep? Or maybe when we’re comatose? Are individuals that are impaired, suffering from dementia or other neurological disorders void of person hood? Of course not. Even if they lack immediate self-awareness the potential is there for self-awareness and that is what makes us a human being as opposed to every other living thing on the planet. Our intrinsic humanity in design.

Self-Awareness is no more a reason to advocate for abortion than sleep is. Though an embryo may not be aware yet of its fingers, toes or heartbeat it retains the potential, if uninterrupted, to acquire that self-awareness of person hood and that is what makes it fully human and fully deserving of the sacred right to life.

Size: They’re so small. Not even .25 of an inch until the sixth week. Pro-abortion advocates would say that there is no moral problem with eliminating something the size of a pea.

Using this logic we can conclude that larger people have more rights than smaller people. Embryos are smaller than newborns and toddlers are smaller than adults. My wife is smaller than me. Does that grant me more rights to person hood than her? Of course not. Size has no bearing whatsoever on whether it is morally or rationally acceptable to end a life. Size doesn’t equal value. If that were true than men, which are generally larger in size than women, have more rights as a person than women.

Furthermore, at 12 weeks, the average fetus weighs half an ounce, is 2 inches long and has almost all vital systems fully formed. At 16 weeks it weighs up to four ounces, is up to 5 inches long, has eyebrows, lashes, teeth and hair filling in. At 22 weeks the average size is 10 inches, weighing 12 ounces, the face is fully formed, gender is visible, the baby can hear and taste. It may be small but so is my sister. Size has no bearing on the person hood or value of a life.

Level of development: While it is true that a baby in gestation is less developed than a newborn it has no bearing on their person hood or the adults they’ll one day become. The only difference is a few days. Every living human was one day a fetus in gestation. It is the human process through which we must all travel. If anything, it is indicative of our humanity.

There is no moral or rational reason level of development should be relevant in determining person hood. A three year-old girl is less developed than a teenager. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? A newborn is far less developed than an adult male. Is David Beckham more of a person and endued with more rights than a newborn? Of course not.

What about those who never fully develop certain abilities or physical systems? What about the boy born without eyes or hands? What about the little girl born without legs? Is she somehow less of a person because she is not as developed as others? Do they have less of a right to life?

Acknowledging limited levels of development, instead of allowing, should actually deter from any pro-abortion position as it indicates the humanity and person hood of a body. If left uninterrupted it has the potential to fully develop into a self-aware human being. The key word there is, “uninterrupted”.

Environment: Some say as long as it is in the womb it’s not a person yet and it can be “terminated”. This to me is some of the most egregious logic used to defend abortion.

A mother’s womb should be the safest place in the world. Instead, the awful truth is, it has become as dangerous, particularly to African-American babies, as the most violent inner city in the nation. As Scott Klusendorf said here:

Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

We don’t gain or lose rights or person hood based upon where we are. Using location, and most of all the womb, to defend abortion is mind-boggling to me. A person outside the womb is a person in the womb. Just because we can’t see a baby in the womb does not mean it’s not a baby until it’s born. Environment has no moral or rational bearing on person hood.

Degree of Dependency: Some say that because the fetus depends completely on the mother for it’s survival it is the mother’s choice to keep or terminate the pregnancy. There are two problems with this reasoning.

First, it places the value of a human life on whether someone wants it alive or not. Why then not make murder legal? If a pregnant woman is assaulted and loses the child she is carrying the courts can charge homicide because the mother wanted the child. How then, if a mother chooses abortion, is it not also murder? Simply because she didn’t want it? An individuals worth to another individual has no bearing on it’s person hood, value or intrinsic humanity.

Secondly, it makes the degree of dependence one has on forces outside of itself the test of person hood. If that is the case then the handicapped, injured, comatose and those with medical afflictions have lost their person hood. Again, Scott Klusendorf weighs in:

If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

Simply put, our level of dependence on forces outside ourselves does not reasonably determine our humanity, person hood or intrinsic value.

We may have different levels of self-awareness, differing sizes, location and levels of development but we are all human and all endowed by our creator with a right to life and person hood. I believe God is the giver of life and as such no man has the right to take it in the womb.

So what makes a life?

When a man and a woman conceive a child in the woman’s womb, from the moment of conception, morally, rationally and most of all Biblically, that is a child. Some may choose to call it an embryo, a zygote or a fetus. That’s fine. But it’s a baby and it’s a person and it has a right to live as much as anyone outside a womb.

The awful truth, and the story our culture is desperately trying to avoid, is that abortion ends a life and there is no good reason.

Marriage

wedding ringsI enjoy many aspects of the ministry but I particularly enjoy weddings. It’s not just because I like cake. I like what weddings represent. Weddings are hopeful and idealistic. They point to promise, covenant and faith for tomorrow. They acknowledge God, our devotion to one another and our place in community. Weddings are testimonies that people still believe in each other and the possibility of better things and I appreciate that.

Weddings are a grand declaration that we still believe in one another. We believe in better things and better days. That, even when our world is very, very ugly and we’re tempted to despair of it, we still have reason to smile. Weddings are days when families get together to celebrate and consecrate a new union that testifies of faith, hope and love. I like cake, but I really like weddings.

Marriages are entered into every day by the hundreds yet it is greater than a cultural event. Though marriage is administered by law it is more than a legal contract. Though it is respected by society it is more than a civil union. Marriage is, above all else, a sacred covenant, instituted by God, upheld by His law, blessed by His hand and is to be honored by all men.

It is on purpose that weddings take place in a church, with a minister officiating, the reading of scripture, prayer, sacred vows and celebration. Marriage is a sacred covenant and the presence of God is necessary for it to be a success.

The first miracle Jesus ever performed was at a wedding when he turned the water into wine both honoring the wedding with his presence and blessing it with the miraculous. We read the story in the book of John 2:1-2: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.” That’s a good call to make.

Call Jesus into your marriage. Invite him to be seated at every table, the guest in every room and the counselor in every decision. It is on purpose that weddings take place at a church, with prayer, the reading of scripture and a minister officiating. Marriages need the presence of God and take faith. Faith in each another, faith in your marriage, and faith for the future.

Scripture teaches that a husband ought to love his wife and give himself for her as Christ gave himself for the church. It also teaches that the wife ought to love her husband and be faithful to him in all things and that by honoring God’s law, and by forsaking all others and their individual fortunes, the two will become what the Bible calls, “one flesh”. Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman, for life.

Covenant. That’s an old fashioned word meaning an unbreakable promise. That’s the hope and the beauty of marriage. It’s built on a promise. It’s not built on emotion or transitory feelings. It’s not built on our worthiness or charm. It will not be the weakness or the strength of a Bride and Groom’s character that will determine the outcome of their marriage. It will be their faithfulness to their promise. Your character may fail but your marriage doesn’t have to. Even if integrity is found lacking a marriage can still survive if the bride and groom simply keep their promise.

It is this promise that will keep them together, grow their family, bless their home and protect their children. It is this promise that will bless their community through them. Marriage is the most valuable promise you can make and the most important to keep.

The Definition of Marriage

girl & boyThis week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments over the definition of marriage in the United States. This is a political and social cauldron that has been brewing for decades and now heads to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Some would ask what all the trouble is about. If you love someone shouldn’t you be allowed to marry them? While on its face that seems a simple and justifiable position it posits some irrational assumptions. The same logic can be used to defend polygamous marriages, sibling marriage and virtually any other “marriage” one could conceive. Essentially marriage will lose its definition if same-sex marriage is deemed a culturally acceptable marriage.

Furthermore, as a Christian, same-sex marriage is also unthinkable because I believe the Bible is the definitive objective moral standard that all people should adhere to and the Bible defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. The state does not confer the right to marriage. Marriage is a religious institution, defined and designed by God into the essence of nature, that the state recognizes for its social, cultural and economic benefits.

Marriages are entered into every day by the hundreds yet it is greater than a cultural event. Though marriage is administered by law it is more than a legal contract. Though it is respected by society it is more than a civil union. Marriage is, above all else, a sacred covenant, instituted by God, upheld by His law, blessed by His hand and is to be honored by all men.

Blogger Mike McManus offers some interesting statistics here regarding same sex marriage:

Gays are not interested in marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to adopt gay marriage in 2004. However, there’ve been only 12,000 same-sex unions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4% of men are gay and 1% of women are lesbian. Thus, of the state’s 3.3 million males, there are [potentially] 132,000 gay men, plus 33,000 lesbians. Only 14% of the 165,000 have “married” and 86% chose not to do so…[indicating] most are not interested in marriage.

Why should the definition of marriage be changed when less than a tenth of 2% of the population wants to force that change? In all 30 states that have added constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman, traditional marriage has always been upheld by referenda, even in California.

Children need a mother and father. The healthiest children are those reared by a married mother and father. “Marriage is the union of a husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mom and dad,” says Maggie Gallagher, President of National Organization for Marriage.

Homosexual men are 4% of the population but account for half of all new HIV infections and 85% of syphilis cases. According to the CDC, men having sex with men (MSM) account for 48% of the one million people living with HIV, (532,000), 53% of new HIV infections (28,700). MSM are the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections have been increasing since the early 1990s.

Gay men live 20 years shorter lives than heterosexuals, according to the only epidemiological study to date. A tenth of sexually active teens are experimenting with same-sex unions, reports a New York City study, published in the journal Pediatrics. Why encourage more teens to experiment with this destructive life style?

In summary, unlike heterosexual marriage in which fidelity is the norm for four out of five couples, promiscuity is the norm for homosexuals, even those in committed relationships. Only a tenth of gays marry if given the legal opportunity to do so. Most are not interested in marrying.

If they aren’t interested, why force a change in the definition of marriage to benefit a tenth of 2% of the population? It will only encourage more sexual experimentation among young people with tragic consequences. They will live 20 years shorter lives.

For children to thrive, they need to grow up in homes with a married mother and father. In his 1828 American Dictionary, Noah Webster defined marriage as the “act of uniting a man and a woman for life,” because marriage “was instituted …for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

Pastor and Author Kevin DeYoung offers this insight from his blog post, A Few Things to Consider Before Supporting Gay Marriage at The Gospel Coalition.

A pundit on the radio opined that opposing gay marriage is “Neanderthal” because he believes, “people should be able to marry whoever they want.” This was a well known talking head giving voice to a sentiment shared all across this fruited plain. On college campuses, around dining room tables, and in not a few of our churches, gay marriage marches on by the simple logic that says: what business do we have telling people who they can or can’t marry?

As impressive as the argument sounds–barreling down at us with the strong force of moral superiority and the implicit charge of intolerance–the logic is less than meets the eye.

Let’s think about what is not at stake in our culture’s debate over gay marriage.

  • The state is not threatening to criminalize homosexual behavior. Though many Americans believe the behavior is wrong (and until fairly recently homosexual acts were against the law in some states), the debate at present is not about whether homosexuality is legal or not. No one questions that it is.
  • The state is not going to prohibit homosexuals from committing themselves to each other in public ceremonies or religious celebrations.
  • The state is not going to legislate whether two adults can live together or profess love for one another.

The issue is not about controlling “what people do in their bedrooms” or “who they can love.” The issue is about what sort of union the state will recognize as “marriage” and confer all the benefits thereof. The state doesn’t tell us who we can be friends with or who we can live with. You can have one friend or three friends or a hundred. You can live with your sister, your mother, your dog, or your buddy from work. You can celebrate your relationship with your grandma or your college roommate however you want. But none of these relationships–no matter how special–are marriages. The state’s refusal to recognize these relationships as “marriage” does not keep us from pursuing them, enjoying them, or counting them as significant.

The debate is often cast as freedom (those who support anyone marrying anyone) versus oppression (those who want to tell you who you can marry). Conservatives are losing the debate because that’s the narrative being told in a thousand television episodes, in a thousand songs, and by an increasing number of politicians and educators. But in the long run, the triumph of gay marriage (should it triumph as a cultural and legal reality) will mean the restriction of freedoms for millions of Americans.

This will happen in obvious ways at first–by ostracizing those who disagree, by bullying with political correctness, and by trampling on religious liberty. Surely, Christians must realize that no matter how many caveats we issue, not matter how much we nuance our stance, no matter how much we encourage or show compassion for homosexuals, it will not be enough to ward off the charges of hatred and homophobia. We will have many opportunities in the years ahead to walk in the steps of Jesus who when reviled, did not revile in return, and when he suffered, did not threaten but continued to entrust himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).

But gay marriage will challenge our freedoms in others way too. It’s not just Evangelicals, traditional Catholics, and Mormons who will be threatened. Once the government gains new powers, it rarely relinquishes them. There will be a soft tyranny that grows as the power of the state increases, a growth that is intrinsic to the  notion of gay marriage itself.

Marriage a Pre-Political Institution

In the traditional view, marriage is what it is. It’s the union of one man and one woman. That’s what marriage is, before the state calls it as such or confers any benefits on it. Marriage, in the traditional view, is a pre-political institution. The state doesn’t determine what defines marriage; it only recognizes marriage and privileges it in certain ways. So “gay marriage” is actually “so-called marriage” because the state does not have the authority to redefine a pre-political reality.

In the revisionist view, by contrast, there is no is to marriage. To be fair, some advocates of gay marriage would say monogamy is still essential to marriage. That is, the one person-one person relationship, for some revisionists, still constitutes the essence of marriage. But many supporters would not make this claim. In fact, many are open that their end goal to abolish all bourgeois marriage. Even the ones that do promote monogamy find it hard to maintain logical consistency. If monogamy is what marriage is, then can a brother and sister be married? What about an acquaintance you meet on the internet with no intention of ever meeting in person? Can these two be married? Surely, the revisionist won’t want to say sexual intimacy is what makes marriage marriage. For then they too would be in the business of telling adults who they can and can’t marry. If your love isn’t sexual it doesn’t count.

And by what logic should marriage be restricted to two persons? Already in California a three-parent law is in the works. Multiple-person marriages will not be far behind. Why can’t three people be married? Or four or fifteen? And why should exclusivity have anything to do with it? Surely, we don’t want to stop adults from being married to whomever they want, even if they want to be married to six people at the same time.

This may sound like extreme reductio ad absurdum, but the premise behind these examples is already well on its way to being established. Once you argue that we have no right to refuse marriage to those who want their relationships to be defined as marriage, you’ve sold the definitional farm. You’ve effectively denied that marriage has any essence of its own. Marriage is whatever the state wants it to be.

What an irony: the many young people (and a growing number of young Christians) who support gay marriage on libertarian grounds are actually ceding to the state a vast amount of heretofore unknown power. No longer is marriage recognized as a pre-political entity which exists independent of the state. Now the state defines marriage and authorizes its existence.

Divine Design and the Common Good

One of the reasons gay marriage enjoys increasing support is because it doesn’t appear to harm anyone. The only threat, is seems, comes from those who defend traditional marriage and wish to force their morality on others. Our culture is fickle. It says “live and let live” when it comes to the most powerful human bonds and the most enduring institutions, but it insists on protecting the “other” with fundamentalist zeal when it comes to trans fat, cigarettes, and carbon emissions.

The unspoken secret, however, is that homosexual behavior is not harmless. Homosexuals are at a far greater risk for diseases like syphilis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea, HPV, and gay bowel syndrome. The high rate of these diseases is due both to widespread promiscuity in the gay community and the nature of anal and oral intercourse itself. Homosexual relationships are usually portrayed as a slight variation on the traditional “norm” of husband-wife monogamy. But monogamy is much less common among homosexual relationships, and even for those who value monogamy the definition of fidelity is much looser.

Gay marriage will also be harmful for our society. We must consider why the state has, for all these years, bothered to recognize marriage in the first place. What’s the big deal? Why not let people have whatever relationships they choose and call it whatever they want? Why go to the trouble of sanctioning a specific relationship and giving it a unique legal standing? The reason is because the state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement which has a mother and a father raising the children that came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together. Hundreds of studies confirm both of these statements (though we all can think of individual exceptions I’m sure). Gay marriage assumes that marriage is re-definable and the moving parts replaceable.

By recognizing gay unions as marriage, just like the husband-wife relationship we’ve always called marriage, the state is engaging in (or at least codifying) a massive re-engineering of our social life. It assumes the indistinguishability of gender in parenting, the relative unimportance of procreation in marriage, and the near infinite flexibility as to what sorts of structures and habits lead to human flourishing.

It may seem Neanderthal to think the state should not confer the rights and privileges of “marriage” upon whomever it chooses by whatever definition it pleases, but give it time. Experiments in sexual freedom have a tendency to blow up in the laboratory of real life. Would anyone say the family is stronger today because of the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce laws? Human nature and divine design are not set aside as easily as our laws and traditions.

Pray for our nation and pray for our culture. Sin has an infectious ability to corrupt everything it touches. For the spiritual health of our cities, our nation and our families we must defend the Biblical definition of marriage and continue to be salt and light by exampling in our lives what God’s ideal plan for the family looks like and by living in the blessing of Biblical marriage.

Born This Way

churchcemeteryIt seems as if the only thing the mainstream media and non-Christians know about Christianity is that we believe homosexuality is sin. It seems to be the first question always asked by an interviewer who has a moment with an Evangelical Pastor.

Pastor Rick Warren was interviewed on CNN recently by Piers Morgan and then again by a reporter from the Huffington Post concerning his new book and specifically his views on homosexuality. You can see the video here or scroll below.

 

 

The interviewer brings up a commonly asked question in regards to this issue. Why would God make someone with a desire that He would then call sin? The question posits a couple interesting theories. First, that God is the source of all of our desires and passions and second that possessing a desire alone is indicative of its legitimacy. The problem is, both conclusions are wrong.

An understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ instructs us in this regard. We are born into a fallen world with an active sin nature. It is natural to the hearts of all men and women to sin, that is, to violate the will, law and nature of God. Secondly, simply having a desire or passion speaks nothing to its legitimacy.

All sex outside of marriage is sin, whether its hetero or homo, and marriage can only be Biblically defined as between one man and one woman. The canard that, “Why would God create me with a passion He doesn’t want me to fulfill” is ludicrous. The fact that one has a desire they’re driven to gratify is immaterial to its acceptability.

Some men are born with inclinations to steal, lie, commit adultery, and all other sorts of evil. Why would God create them, driven to rape or cheat on our spouse let’s say, if He didn’t intend for them to fulfill it?

The Gospel tells us!

They’re right. We were all born this way. Born to sin, to lie, to steal, to pervert nature, to be unfaithful and to hate. We were born with a nature that would oppress and abuse if given the chance. Our natural inclinations and desires are inherently sinful and challenge God’s laws. We all, heterosexual & homosexual, need to be born again to get a new set of passions and desires, be filled with the Spirit and to align our natural passions with the Word of God.

Lady Gaga can sing, “I was born this way” all day long but it does not legitimate or excuse the presence of sin. We need to repent. We need to be born again. We need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.