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Friday, August 28, 2015

Ambiguity Is Persuasion's Best Friend

In July, in the Exchange, a blog run by Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer posted an article citing a study about American support for Israel (click here for the article). The study was from Lifeway, a research group that conducts studies to help advise churches regarding today's issues. We should note that Stetzer is both the author of this Christianity Today blogpost and the executive director of Lifeway

The study used two surveys and concerned itself with American attitudes regarding Israel. The context for the Christianity Today blogpost was the nuclear deal with Iran. The research cited included survey data from Americans including self-identified evangelical and fundamentalist as well as senior pastors/ministers/priests (click here to see the section on methodology).

The study found that support for Israel's statehood correlated positively with both education and one's belief in, what must be a specific view of, prophecy--from Lifeway's description of the study. Interspersed in the Christianity Today blogpost were quotes from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. But what was absent were quotes from any Iranian leader.

With regards to the title of the article, 80% of American Evangelicals support Israel's statehood as opposed to 46% of Americans who do the same. Now while the Lifeway article on which the Christianity Today blogpost was based gave some specifics about who was surveyed, as far as I can tell, the exact question asked of the participants was not released. In other words, what did the participants mean by saying they support Israel's statehood. For some of my fellow evangelicals and fundamentalists, that statement means supporting Israel in all of its foreign policies towards its neighbors including the Palestinians--please note that rarely does a person or nation treat a neighbor the way that Israel treats the Palestinians. For others, supporting Israel's statehood could merely mean merely supporting Israel's right to exist. That latter support may not include supporting all of Israel's foreign policies. 

And in light of the blogpost's use of Netanyahu quotes, we should note the following about the circumstances in which Israel has found itself. Netanyahu has been publicly saying that Iran is on the brink or or was just a few years away from developing nuclear weapons since 1992 (click here).  We should also note that as a member of the Treaty On The Non-Proliferation Of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Iran has every right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes which means that all members have the right to produce low enriched uranium. Thus, Iran having the capacity to low enriched uranium is both legal and does not imply any present or future threat to any nation. We should also note that Israel, on the other hand, is suspected of by most in the world as having hundreds of nuclear weapons.

Before commenting on the significance of the survey results cited by this Christianity Today blogpost, we should note some other background information on both the participants and those who conducted the study. The Lifeway article used in the blogpost cites Lifeway Research Vice President as saying that of all literature, the Bible has had the greatest influence on America. The same article reports that from previous Lifeway research, around 48% of Americans believe that there exists a unique relationship between God and Israel today while less than 53%  believe the same about God and America. However the same article states that close to 70% of Evangelicals believe that today's Israel exists because of Bible prophecy.

And one more bit of background information, and this was not part of the Lifeway report, the predominant eschatological (a.k.a., study of the endtimes) theology in America is Dispensationalism. Here we should know that Dispensationalism sees today's Israel as having a special relationship with God and is in existence because of Bible prophecy.

With all of that background information, what are we to make of this Christianity Today blogpost? Does having such support from the majority of American Evangelicals imply anything good or bad about the state of Israel and its policies. Does that support imply that we should support Israel? The answer to the last two questions is 'NO!' What the blogpost is reporting is the results of a couple of surveys conducted on people with certain predispositions toward certain attitudes and ways of interpreting the world. And what complicates the meaning of the survey results even more is the ambiguity of the question asked. What does it mean to support Israel's statehood. Again, does it mean that the people saying they supported Israel's statehood agree and promote all of its foreign policies? Or does it mean mean that the participants merely believed that the state of Israel?

See, the blogpost article vaguely suggests that we should support Israel especially in all of its foreign policies. The quotes from Netanyahu at the beginning as well as the specifics on how Evangelicals see Israel in the light of the Bible indicates such an interpretation. And when we add those points to the high percentage of Evangelicals who support Israel's statehood along with the culture of the company doing the research,  it seems pretty conclusive that the purpose of the blogpost is encourage support for Israel's foreign policies.

But the same evidence used to suspect that the blogpost was promoting a certain agenda can also sabotage the purpose of the article. What is lost here is objectivity. And when we add that to vague support for Israel's statehood can be, there is no significant information in terms of how we should think about Israel and its policies provided by this Christianity Today blogpost.





Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 26, 2015

Aug 19

This comment was rejected because the comments for this article were closed the day after it was posted with only two comment being published with the article. In fact, comments were closed between the time I accessed the article and the time I attempted to post the comment.

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on survey that found 25% of Americans would not vote for an evangelical Christian for President. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

This article suffers from two problems. The first problem is that it is inciting us not quite panic over the possibility that we Christians will be significantly marginalized in society well before there are a sufficient number of signs indicating that will happen.

The second problem is that while anticipating the labeling of Christians by nonChristians as being 'toxic' and irredeemable 'sign-waivers,' the writer here does not ask us what we might have done to contribute to that perception. Is it possible that our opposition same-sex marriage in society has unnecessarily contributed to nonbelievers having a negative perception of us? Or perhaps others are unnecessarily wary  of us because we have favored war, opposed environmental protection, or supported market fundamentalism? For while we are blind to how others see the effects of those practices and policies, others are not.

Christians may be marginalized in the future and we may not. But if we are, we shouldn't assume that the marginalization is all the unbelievers' fault. The more we are marginalized, the more we should be driven to stare even more closely into the mirror lest we remain unaware of providing unnecessary stumbling blocks to those outside the faith.

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Aug 21

To Patrick Persnak and his review of a book by Chilton Williamson about the promise and death of democracy. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.


The biggest threat to broad statements like
 

Even when support for democracy undermines allies and facilitates the rise to power of anti-Western parties—that is, even when it seems to work contrary to the national interest—American administrations tend to stay faithful to promoting democracy

is an inductive approach to history. An inductive approach would first gather numerous examples and seek to group them in order to sense out of them. So when we look at the history of US interventions either before or after WW II, would we summarize history in a way that would agree with the statement made by the writer of this review of Williamson's book about the failure of democracy, Patrick Bersnak?

I don't think history supports Bersnak's statement here because since WW II, William Blum has noted that America has intervented in the democratic process of over 30 nations and in other than democratic process in close to 20 other nations. And what the evidence seems to support is that the US favors strong leaders in other countries who are friendly to American business and/or strategic interests. Some examples that support this last claim include Iran in '53, Guatemala in '54, Greece in '67, Chile in '73, Central America during the 80s, Venezuela in 2002, and, most recently Honduras. Even our efforts to foster democracy in Iraq are questionable since the first America military leader to have suggested elections was immediately replaced, democracy was basically given into because of the activism of the Iraqi people, and Bush's administration tried to force a SOFA that favored American businesses on the Iraqi people. Would Bush have invaded Iraq had Saddam Hussein not invaded Kuwait? Nobody knows. What we do know is that both American and European businesses, with the help of the American gov't, did business with Hussein's Iraq including selling material that could be used in developing WMDs before the invasion of Kuwait. We could also cite our aiding Egypt's strongman gov'ts from Mubarak to el-Sisi.

Does this mean that the US has never aided democratic movements in other countries? No. Milosevic could testify to that. But for the most part, democracy has not been an issue in our choice of foreign leaders to support.

Now this brings us to the rest of the article which basically supports a partial democracy. By partial democracy, I am referring to the rule by a subset of the people in a given nation. Sometimes that subset revolves around ethnicity as we see in Israel. Marx favored a partial democracy based on economic class as the answer to the oppressive rule of the bourgeoisie in various nations. What is ironic is that where those nations being ruled over were democracies, they were partial democracies based on economic class.

Most of the founding fathers of our nation were afraid not just of a direct democracy, but of letting all classes of people having the right to vote. In talking about what would happen in England should this occur, James Madison expressed the fear that agrarian reform would take place. Thus, he successfully argued for a Senate that was insulated from the demands of the people.

And as, according to Bersnak, Williamson keenly asks if people of lower economic classes could exercise the appropriate self-discipline to vote against programs that would benefit them, we might want to ask if those in the upper class, for whom Williamson's democracy is meant, would exercise the appropriate self-discipline to vote for tax supported programs that would help the less fortunate.

We should note that immediately after The Constitution was ratified, approximately 5% of the people could vote. We should also note that the writing of The Constitution was in response to widespread dissent and Shays Rebellion. Thus, the writing of The Constitution was to strengthen the Federal gov't so it could better respond to similar rebellions in the future. Thus, The Constitution was written to help maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power.

And see, that's what Bersnak  and Williamson seem to support when they favor a class-based partial democracy where the upper class rules. Such could be seen as a more efficient democracy. Unfortunately, because democracy is meant for the rule of all of the people, efficiency is not the best criteria for measuring the strength of a democracy. And all of that is regardless of what Tocqueville, who thought that British society was the superior society in the world, or Williamson or even Bersnak said or did not say about democracy.

Finally, it is not difficult to agree with Williamson about the mortality of political regimes. But we learn nothing beneficial if we do not follow up the death of a political regime without conducting an autopsy. And perhaps when it is time to perform an autopsy on America's democracy, how Martin Luther King Jr once described America society might receive at least some credit for the death. King stated that our society is thing-oriented, not person oriented. This could be seen in how we place a higher priority on gadgets, profits and property rights than on people
.

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Aug 25

To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing a video clip of a philosophy professor asking whether it is moral for others, either individuals or the government, to force us to donate causes.  The purpose of this blogpost is to show the difference between taxation and charity. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Maybe the question we should ask is how much do questions like the ones posed by the philosophy professor model life. For are the subjects comparable when we switch from the question is it wrong for others to force you to give to is it wrong for the government to force you to give? How does an individual peer compare with a representative gov't in terms of having the right to coerce me to do anything? To not consider the comparability of an individual peer with a representative gov't is to oversimplify the issue.

We could look at this question from the Scriptures. Those living in OT Israel and Judah were coerced into  giving to the poor in both individual and collective ways. In fact, to not follow those ways would be to practice injustice against those in need. The threat of God's punishment was the force doing the coercion.
In the NT, the threat of eternal punishment supplies the coercion in the parable of the sheep and the goats.

But furthermore, though  this question is probably meant toward helping groups of those who are vulnerable such as recipients of welfare, let's apply the question to another target. Is it moral for the gov't to force us to support wars or a particular kind of military we oppose?

Now let's return to the question as applied to charity: Is it moral for the gov't to force me to give to support food stamps or welfare? And this question is especially pertinent for those Christians who feel that only the Church should help the poor. Well, if gov't is not allowed to help those in need because that would include coercing citizens into giving, how is the gov't representing those who are in need or should the gov't only represent those who have made it in life? And in light of what we saw mentioned above from the Bible, how Biblical is it for the gov't to ignore those in need?   




 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mr. President, What Big Ears You Have

I'm afraid that our nation's only hope no longer rests at all in its elections, but rests in an unprecedented event that would occur between election day in 2016 and Inauguration Day of 2017. Sometime between those two days we need a big bad wolf to commandeer the White House and to lay waiting in the Lincoln Bedroom, disguised as President Obama of course, for the next President elect to arrive. And when that person arrives and gets around to asking the wolf what big ears he has. The wolf can answer: 'The better to hear everyone with.' And with that, the big bad wolf can lock the President elect up with Obama and take over the President's elect 4 year term. And after those 4 years, we can decide on whether we should either keep the big bad wolf as President or let Obama and the President elect come out of the closet.

The moral of this story is that the qualities we most need in our next President and all other elected officials is that of wanting and being able to listen. But here, I am not just referring to having a President putting up with listening to us people moan and groan. Included with that is for the next President to listen to us as we provide at least half of the solutions to our nation's problems.

See, every election we say we want change. We say that we want our nation back. But it beats the heck out of us to figure out who has our nation in the first place and we are too ignorant of history to really know who had it in the first place. And while saying we want change, we still vote in the 2 major parties despite their track record and their dependence on others who are monetarily well-endowed. 

We also say that we want America to be great again. But at what point in our history has America been great without relying significantly on exploiting others? Do we really want to exploit more people to be great when we are in denial of those whom we have already abused and taken advantage of? So how can anyone take us seriously when we say the things we do? 

If our nation was really honest with itself, we would admit the following about what we want with every election. We want to elect officials whom we can ignore until the next election.  For some of us that means that we want our elected officials do not get in the way of our own pursuits in life, many of which are trivial. For others of us it means that we want our elected officials to make it look like they are helping those whom we don't want to touch. 

Of course there are those who want to get as much out of the government as they can. The worst offenders here are the financial elites. They don't fit the voters described above because they don't ignore those whose elections they've paid for. And so we vote for authoritarians to get our wish. Why authoritarians? Because it takes authoritarians to run government without our input and guidance. And if you look at the current field, it is, without exception, filled with authoritarians.

The idea of greater citizen participation was one of the two main messages of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). Certainly OWS wanted to draw attention to the misdeeds of the 1%. But just as much if not more than that was the idea that we wanted more citizens to take an active role in our democracy noting here that democracy is more than just voting every x number of years. The reduction of democracy to just voting is probably one of the biggest reasons why we have the kind of government we have now and that is regardless of the political party in power.

So what we really need from any future President is that he/she would demand that we, the citizens, persistently participate in government in ways in addition to voting. Those candidates who do not call on us to do so are mere authoritarians who are, because of the complexity of the job, ill-equiped to approach the job that way. 

And if we want government to change, we have to change ourselves first. We can no longer vote for the candidates whom we think we can ignore until the next election. We must demand that our next President, as well as all of our other elected officials, include us not just in the identification of problems, but in the finding of solutions. To not change to that means that we could confine ourselves to our own individual pursuits, but it also includes living in a nation on the decline led by a government that exists to serve itself. And that means that eventually, we will not the choices we have today.







Monday, August 24, 2015

ONIM For August 24, 2015

Christian News

World News

Pick(s) Of The Litter



Friday, August 21, 2015

A Tale Of Two Conservative Church Types

Writing for the Reformed African American Network, Dylan Justus (no bio available) writes a short piece designed to identify and then unite two kinds of conservative churches: Fundamental and Missional (click here for the article). We should immediately note that a Fundamental church is not a Fundamentalist church. While the former church is defined by how it relates to the world, the latter concerns itself with basic tenets of the Christian faith.

A Fundamental church is one that waits for the world to come to it for it to share the Gospel. In contrast to that, a Missional church goes out to meet sinners where they are. The crux of the difference, Justus correctly asserts is not in the content of what they preach, but in how each church believes one should interact with culture while sharing the Gospel with others. While a Fundamental church believes in as much separation as possible from the current culture in order to be pure by being as different from it as possible, a Missional church seeks to use culture to bring the Gospel to people. 

Justus' concern is to show that both kinds of churches preach the same gospel and he does an adequate job at doing that. However, Justus stops there and that is like having the stereotypical experience of eating a Chinese meal: one is hungry an hour later.

Being a Missional person who worships in a Fundamental church, I would like to complete one side of the comparison between these church types. And the focus of my comments will be on both structural in nature and how the risk each kind of church faces is addressed by Jesus' parables.

We will start with the Fundamental churches. Here we should note that Fundamental churches , in order to avoid being contaminated by the surrounding culture, wait for sinners to come to them. And in waiting for sinners to come to them, the memberships of these churches tend to be socially and politically homogeneous and thus the growth of these churches will be limited not by any offense found in the Gospel, but by demographics and the social and political standards held by the established members of the church. Such churches not only becomes places of worship, they become social and political club for its members as they provide a safe place to meet. 

But the above is not the biggest threat that Fundamental churches face. By waiting for people in society to come to the church, these churches, in essence, turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to many in society who are either crying out for help and/or being oppressed. In particular, these churches ignore those who are victims of groups and systems. At this point, the parable of the Good Samaritan should come to mind (click here for the parable). Why? It is because they have, unlike the Good Samaritan himself, ignored those individuals or groups who are left robbed and beaten by groups and the systems that maintain the status quo. And Fundamental churches do this by refusing to interact with society's structures. Here we should note that is not that  Fundmental churches never teach the Good Samaritan parable. It is that their applications of the parable are always based on the individual who has been hurt by other individuals, it never applies to those hurt by groups or systems.

The unwillingness of some conservative churches to speak out against slavery and Jim Crow in the past shows how Fundamental churches can act as the priest or the Levite did from the parable. Each had religious reasons for not helping the man beaten and robbed. Likewise, members of Fundamental churches have their religious reasons for why they do not help those who have been beaten and robbed because of the status quo. These religious reasons include not finding specific commands or examples in the New Testament telling us to help such victims and because needs caused by such suffering are physical needs, not spiritual/salvation ones. Because they fail to ask Martin Luther King's question of what will happen to the individuals or groups of people who have been beaten and robbed by the rulers of society and its systems if the Church does not help them, they fail to be the neighbor to these people and thus fail to love their neighbor as they should.

Though the days slavery and Jim Crow are over, racism still rears its ugly head especially amongst the ranks of some law enforcement officers. Have the Fundamental churches spoken out against the continued racism? In addition, we have abuses committed by the the upper economic classes on the rest of society as partially documented by Occupy Wall Street's Declaration Of The Occupation Of New York City (click here for the declaration). Have the Fundamental churches both spoken out against those abuses and ministered to the victims? See, by limiting the implementation of the Good Samaritan parable to individuals helping individuals, these churches, as corporate bodies, have told their members to do something they are unwilling to do themselves: that is help those they find by the wayside who have been victimized. Rather than helping, the Fundamental churches are waiting for such victims to attend church services with hopes that these attendees will join. Such is a very serious indictment on the Fundamental churches. It is serious because such can cause the religiosity of Fundamental churches to be similar to that of the scribes and pharisees of Jesus' day. And just like those scribes and pharisees, they have religious excuses for withdrawing from society. They don't wish to be corrupted by helping those in need.

On the other hand, the Missional churches sometimes live out the fears that the Fundamental churches harbor. That is, Missional churches can be so involved putting out society's fires that instead of using firefighting as a way of introducing and living the Gospel, they replace the preaching of the Gospel with putting out of these fires. The parable of the four soils illustrates this problem (click here for the parable). In particular, Missional churches run the risk of becoming the seeds that fall among the thorns (vs 14). For the people these seeds represent lose faith because of their concerns with their earthly lives.

I've seen more than one follower of Christ fall to the structural risk faced by the Missional churches. And what is most tragic is that the actual physical good these former believers do blinds them from the dangers of self-righteousness and the belief that they no longer need to believe in Christ for salvation.

So what we have in the end is something we can add to what Justus saw should unify the Fundamental and Missional churches. For not only are they united by the Gospel they preach, they are united by their need for one another. For as the Fundamental churches can remind the Missional churches not to lose its focus on faith in Christ for for the forgiveness of sins, the Missional churches can help the Fundamental churches to better fulfill the command to love their neighbors in society and thus avoid settling for the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees.





Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For August 19, 2015

The comment below was published because it was awaiting moderation. It wass listed here because of the length of time in which it has been awaiting moderation. This comment has now been published.



Aug 11

 To David Robertson and his blogpost podcast covering a number of issues such as Turkey, prostitution, and immigration. This appeared in Theweeflea blog.

Whether the discussion was on Turkey, prostitution, or immigration, this is the first program I’ve heard where conservative voices were not just echoing the concerns of those on the Left, but looking at the solutions from a similar perspective.

This might not seem true especially regarding the piece on Amnesty International and prostitution because many on the Left see the sex industry as a matter of freedom. But there are voices on the Left that have condemned that position and who favor the solution suggested in this program that we criminalize the purchase of sex rather than the selling of it.

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Aug 17

To R. Scott Clark and his short blogpost quote lamenting how court decisions requiring businesses to provide goods and services to bi-sexual party is the end of religious liberty. This appeared in Heidelblog.

How is it that preventing discrimination proves that the sky of religious liberties is falling? The same court principles that dismantled Jim Crow, which some used religious beliefs and the Bible to defend, are being applied to protect the those from the LGBT community from being discriminated against and marginalized.

For those who see these court decisions as a blow to religious liberties, let me ask the following question: Are you still free to attend the church of your choice and to use your religion to publicly protest these court decisions? If so, why complain that those from the LGBT community are now free to pay for goods and services from any business they choose to patronize?


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Aug 18

To Marc Vander Maas and his blogpost consisting of a podcast interview of Samuel Gregg on economic liberty. This appeared on the Acton blog.


The logic used to so pair economic and religious liberties is rather manipulative. To cite China first tries to prove the association by example and fails to consider what other variables could be involved, besides economic freedom, in the increase in religious interest there. One might consider another example where the market is much freer than that in China and see where religious interest is decreasing. This is occurring in America. And the reduction in religious interest also has been waning more in other free market societies such as in European countries. So if the correlation between economic freedom and religious interest seems to be inconsistent, how can a follow up to correlation, that is a cause and effect relationship, be established?
Describing the conversation as being manipulative can also be said of the distinction made between self-interest and selfishness, the relationship between work/risk and rewards, and envy. For example, selfishness was defined as being irrational in overemphasizing the importance of a desired object while self interest is rational. But isn't the importance of an object relative according to the person desiring it? More importantly, though, isn't selfishness related to self-interest so that rather than associating selfishness with an object, we should measure in terms of the degree self interest plays in determining our priorities and making decisions?

Likewise, note the association made between those who work the hardest or take the biggest risk with who deserves the most wealth.  Currently in our economy, wages have either stagnated or decreased per the skill level of many jobs. In addition, wages can be, and have been, reduced simply by increasing the supply of labor and those who control that are those with wealth. But note how work and risk are put on the same level. Those making the most money are not necessarily those who have risked it all by starting up their own business, but it is made by those who risk what they have by playing stock market. And one of the ways to increase the reward shareholders receive from their stock holdings in a publicly owned company is to freeze or decrease the wages that many of the workers of that company  make, And please note that the only time a publicly owned company receives money from the sale of stocks is from the sale of originally issued stocks.
Finally, envy is tied with the desire to redistribute wealth. But here, the redistribution of wealth has a similar role as the revision of history. Its fairness depends on the accuracy used in the beginning. It is not wrong to revise history when the original version was slanted. Likewise, redistributing wealth is fair when the original distribution of wealth was unfair. And whether the original distribution of wealth was unfair depends on how fairly the role of each person involved is valued and on how well were the interdependencies factored into the original distribution of wealth. Interdependencies include factors outside the company that contribute to its wealth. Physical and social infrastructures contribute to the wealth of companies. So does the quality of the society in which a company exists. And the question becomes whether the original distribution of wealth is fairly paying for the support it has received from the outside.

Those who assume that the original distribution of wealth was fair seem to be the ones who claim envy is behind the call for the redistribution of wealth. Rarely to the same people admit that the hoarding of wealth by the wealthy can be fueled by envy or related vices as well. And usually it is the same group that values risk over work and believes that labor depends more on capital than capital depends on labor. And here we should note the work of Thomas Piketty who has observed that more and more wealth is being inherited than earned.
Other points could be addressed, but it is enough to stop here. We should note that the more economic liberty is paired with religious liberty, the more likely that the association is because it is mamon that is being worshiped and served rather than God.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost lamenting the percentage of people who would elect a socialist as President. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Aren't we being a little selective when we only accuse those who have less of being envious? Isn't it possible that some who have hoarded wealth have done so out of envy of their peers? And what is wrong with the redistribution of wealth if the original distribution was unfair? Also, are people like Sanders objecting to the lack of income equality or to the degree of income and wealth disparity?

Finally, before putting electing a Socialist in such a bad light, wouldn't it be more informative to educate readers on the different kinds of socialist approaches and on one of the basic tenets of Socialism: workers' control of production.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Just When I Thought It Was Over

I started Friday's review blogpost with the happy announcement that Christian blogs have now moved on from how same-sex marriage is causing the sky of religious liberties to fall to talking about both Planned Parenthood's regard for the unborn and the issue of abortion (click here). And as soon that blogpost was published on this site I saw at least two prominent Christian blogs return back to the issue of how same-sex marriage is at war against my, and that of all my fellow religiously conservative Christians, religious liberties. And I continue to see articles that declare to me that we are in the midst of a culture war with those who wish to oppress us and force us to submit to them. Thus, we should note here that this conflict is being opportunistically portrayed by some Christian bloggers and leaders as a war.

Why the portrayal and terminology? After all, the only religious liberties being challenged are those that would allow us conservative Christians to discriminate against those from the LGBT community as some use to discriminate against Blacks during Jim Crow. We should note here that some of those who defended such discrimination used religion and the Bible to defend their beliefs and actions. So why are those who are advancing marriage equality or culture itself being described as being at war with us conservative Christians?

First, let's clear up any confusion for those reading this blog for the first time. The stance on same-sex marriage taken by this blog is that because the Church is suppose to use the Scriptures as its final authority for how it conducts itself and what it teaches, same-sex marriage should NOT be allowed in the Church. But when we are talking about same-sex marriage in society, we should note that the scope of concerns and rule of law widens significantly because society consists of both Christians and nonChristians. Plus, the idea of a democracy is that society is shared between equals despite the numbers. Finally, we should note how many from the LGBT community have significantly contributed both to our personal lives and to society. Thus, this blog fully supports marriage equality in society because the key issue when it comes to same-sex marriage and society revolves around how we will share society with others, especially those who are different from us. And the position of this blog has always been that because we should share society with others as equals, same-sex marriage must be legal in society and those of use religiously conservative Christians should defend this marriage equality.

So why the war talk about culture and same-sex marriage from my fellow religiously conservative Christians? Perhaps if we were to borrow a reason often used by governments that are pursuing military wars, we might get at least a partial answer. Perhaps one of the most often used reasons for stirring people up to support a war comes from a Herman Goering quote uttered at Nuremburg:
 Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.

Thus, from what we can gather from Goering is that leaders talk about war in ways that give reasons for their followers to become more loyal and obedient. For, as how wars are marketed by the leaders, it is only through that increased loyalty and obedience can these leaders gain the necessary power to provide the protection the people need.

Could it be that some Christian leaders are following the same formula that Goering spelled out at Nuremburg? The answer is definitely 'YES!' But does that mean every Christian leader who describes us religiously conservative Christians as being locked in a culture war doing so opportunistically? The answer is definitely 'NO!' Here, for those who are interested, we need to learn to distinguish those who are opportunistically looking to increase their power over others from those who perceive a culture war for other reasons? For some leaders, they're being too old school prevents them from interpreting the significant changes in culture in any other way than as a war. They are in cultural shock. There are other reasons why other Christian leaders are describing us as being in a culture war as well.

So, while we are looking out for those Christian leaders who would opportunistically use the cultural crisis Christians are now experiencing in order to solidify their hold on others, we cannot presume that that is the case for any Christian leader who describes our conflict with same-sex marriage and those in the LGBT community as being a war. Rather, we need to take the time and effort to carefully read and listen to these conservative Christian leaders before making a determination instead of rushing to judgment.