About Me

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I am an IT professional (a.k.a. Geek) and I desire to glorify God in all that I do and say. I like to read, write, and think about morality and worldview as they apply to public policy. In person I have an active and somewhat sardonic sense of humor. In print I repress this trait and try to avoid saying anything that could give offense when not offered with a broad grin. I strive to be genuine in my dealings with everyone and to be frank, straightforward, and kind to friend and foe alike. I believe that the defense of truth is too important to be waged with anger or malice, but when "speaking the truth in love" neither must we shrink from it.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mandatory Guilt: Why Conscientious Abstention Must be Stamped Out

The fugitive slave act of 1850 stipulated, among other items, that law enforcement must assist in apprehending and re-enslaving escaped slaves. There was no exemption for those who could not do so in good conscience. In fact the legislation was principally intended to force unwilling participation in the practice of slavery. Those who chose to disobey were punished with fines. By forcing participation in the practice of slavery the act attempted to ensure that the utterly intolerable moral condemnations of the practice would cease. Participation was pivotal. Abstention was unthinkable.

Recent court cases have seen Christian bakers, florists, and photographers coming under attack for refusing to participate in an institution which they object to for moral reasons. Their quiet condemnation is unbearable to homosexuals who appear to be actively seeking out Christians so that they can punish them for keeping their consciences intact. Complete moral silence is their aim because they cannot bear to hear or know that anyone thinks that anything that they are doing is wrong. Christian, bakers, florists, and photographers must be made to participate in homosexual weddings not because homosexuals can’t find others to perform these functions, but precisely because, as Christians, they are compelled to object to doing so. If the last internal qualms of homosexuals are ever to be finally suppressed, then it is necessary to first soil and besmirch the consciences of those who echo those qualms.

As I write, the supreme court is deciding whether Christian-owned companies can be forced to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients which they object to for moral reasons. Abortion supporters are tired of hearing that abortion is wrong and they aim to ostracize and financially destroy every CEO who doesn’t feel as they do. Descension and moral abstention cannot be allowed because that would constitute a mute condemnation and condemnation is intolerable. Christian business owners must be forced to pay for things that they cannot buy in good conscience, not because those things are costly or cannot be acquired by employees who want them, but precisely because the employers in question cannot pay for them in good conscience. If mothers are ever to become callous enough to kill their own children without a pang, then it is necessary to make sure that no one may object to the practice. In order to get to that point, everyone needs to participate.

That’s why conscientious abstention cannot be allowed. That’s why it must be stamped out. When no voice is raised against these practices, when we’ve convinced everyone that they are right, when we’ve silenced all disagreement, maybe then we’ll be able to convince ourselves too.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Being Wronged: Forgiveness and The Big Picture

A lasting and mutually amicable relationship must be based on truth. By "truth" I mean a mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what is true about the relationship, its status, and what, from the history of that relationship, one party may reasonably expect from the other. Without it there can be nothing more than a superficial show-relationship with all the trappings and none of the meaning.

We are not commanded to forgive when forgiveness has not been asked. This should not be treated as license to hold a grudge, but rather as a statement about the nature of what it means to forgive. To say "I forgive you" is to affirm that you accept and acknowledge the repentance of someone who has wronged you. That repentance, of course, implies that the repentant acknowledge wrongdoing. Therefore, it is quite impossible to accept repentance which has not been offered. Until it is, the relationship cannot be reinstated as it was.

Moreover continued refusal to acknowledge wrong is Biblical grounds for the termination of all interaction. This does not mean rendering evil for evil or wishing evil upon those who have wronged you. We should always be willing to embrace those who have wronged us the minute they confess their wrong and ask for our forgiveness. Nor should this forgiveness be contingent upon the other party's ability to make good what his or her wrongdoing may have cost us. Particularly in cases of betrayal, this is not possible. (Though I suppose true repentance would be accompanied by a desire to do so.)

Forgiveness, then, should be offered with genuine joy that the offending party has been won over. We should rejoice to see this spiritual fruit and not begrudge letting go of our claims. Though really, any "claims" that we might think we have ought to be deeded over to God in the first place. He ordained it and he will make it right in his good time.

This brings me to my final point. Sometimes God allows bad people to do bad things to those who are displeasing to him. Time after time God used the cruelty of Israel's wicked neighbors to judge Israel for her sins. What's interesting is that God later would judge these nations because of what they had done to Israel. They were wrong in the cruel things that they did, but God was just in using them to judge Israel for what Israel herself had done. I think God uses cruel people for his purposes today just as He did back then. So if someone has wronged you, it might be a good time to sit up and pay attention to what God is trying to get across to you. I don't know about you, but I sure wouldn't want for Him to have to do it again.

If you're reading this, I sincerely hope you found it helpful. They say that a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a very wise man learns from other people's mistakes.

If it's too late to be very wise, I hope I can at least be wise.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Truth and Faithful No-Names: What We Can Learn from "Great" Men Who Fell.

Recently the conservative Christian world has been abuzz with reports of moral failings at top leadership levels. I'm not here to comment on the degree of truthfulness I attribute to these reports. Suffice it so say that I've heard enough to make me say "ouch."

Now what? What do we do with this? What can we take away from it? Well, for starters, let's retreat back to what we know for sure. The Bible is true. And, wicked men sometimes preach truth from the Bible, (as noted by the apostle Paul).

Guess what? The Bible is still true.

The truth that these men brought out is still the truth. Truth does not stand or fall on the personal failings of its actual or professed adherents. It stands or falls on God's holy word. May I humbly put it to you that If you are relying on a man to tell you what to believe you are going to the wrong place? We have God's written word and we must use it for ourselves. Of course Biblical teaching can be a wonderful thing, but we ought to be checking what we hear against what we read no matter how lowly and un-knowledgeable we are. Is this arrogance? Well, the apostle Paul actually commended the Church at Beria for fact checking his teachings against God's word. Shouldn't we do the same?

This brings me to what I feel is the most tragic part of these developments. I see so many people discarding Biblical truth because somebody who did something bad taught it to them. It is as if the only reason they ever believed it was because a man once told them it was true. Friends, the Bible didn't change because some man turned out to be a disappointment. What was true then is still true now, and no less binding on us.

Equally disheartening is the fact that some have pointed to Biblical doctrine as being the cause of these failings among leadership. But, look where you will, you will find no article of Biblical doctrine that sanctions what these men are accused of doing. The problem was never doctrine, the problem is a heart issue and the solution is not to equate the doctrine with the shortcomings of the men who taught it, but to evaluate it on it's own merits against the rubric of the God's word. For this reason, to automatically dismiss all of these conservative leaders' teachings as legalism is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The chief example of this sort of thinking is the view that the Biblical doctrine of patriarchy somehow sets men up for moral failings. Oh, how opponents of the Bible's teachings on male leadership are having a heyday with that sulfur-scented lie. The devil would love nothing more than to have us reject the truth because he can bring down one of its proponents.

So why do things like this happen? Maybe because we were never meant to place so much upon one man. To idolize, to set on high, and to outsource our thinking to one man is just as harmful to him as it is to us. But since he is only one man, the biggest part of the tragedy, when he succumbs to pride and lust, is the damage that it does to those who held him in high esteem. This is true not only because of the direct effects of disappointment, but because it provides opportunity for Biblical truth to be maligned by those who never wanted to obey it in the first place.

The kingdom of God is not advanced by "great" men. The kingdom of God is advanced by the humble foot soldier who preforms his or her God-given duties day-in and day-out. You won't notice these people automatically - they don't stick out. They aren't flashy and they don't seek leadership for its own sake. They may never have jobs that the world considers significant and they probably won't receive the kind of admiration that the "great" people do. They don't mind. That wasn't what they were working for anyway. If the church was God's sports team, it wouldn't be carried on the shoulders of a few superstars who scored all the points. It would be made up of a bunch of no-names who played their hearts out and gave it everything they had no matter what position the coach placed them in. If one of them went down another would step up to take his place without missing a beat. This is the kind of player who consistently wins games - not the divas - not the superstars. This is the kind of Christian we should all aspire to be.

This, then, is what we should take away from the issue no matter what conclusion we come to about what a given Christian leader did or didn't do. God help us to be faithful no-names.