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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For November 9, 2016

 Either Nov 4 or 5

To David Robertson and his Nov 4 response to my Nov 4 comment. In his comment, Robertson claimed that I was completely unable to describe what equality is. The original blogpost was about vendors refusing to provide service to a same-sex wedding. This appeared in the Wee Flea blog

your notes are both clarifying and confusing. They are clarifying in terms of your penchant for making negative personal remarks about me. They are confusing because as much as you say I don't answer your questions, I already have. You asked what I mean by equality. IN one of previous notes, I defined equality for the LGBT community in society. I wrote the following on November 3:

So why do you have a problem with what equality means? Take the SSM issue for example. Wouldn’t equality mean that those from the LGBT community would have the same rights as those who are heterosexual: the right to work and live as they want just as heterosexuals have the right to work and live as they want. And part of living as they want would be the right to marry the person of their choice just as heterosexuals can.

I was very specific regarding what it would take to enable those in the LGBT community to experience equality in society.  So how can you say that I haven't answered your question about equality?

Establishing equality for a group depends on where their rights are not being recognized. During the Jim Crow era in the States, establishing equality meant something else because they didn't suffer inequality in the same way that the LGBT community does today. For Blacks back then, having the unencumbered right to vote and run for office along with the right to eat, work, live, and go to school where they desired was establishing equality for them. In other words, having the same rights and opportunities that all other groups have constitutes being equal. And that point should be clear from how I described what would make those from the LGBT community equal in society today.

Then how is my understanding of marriage bizarre? Viewing marriage as a complete union between two people is bizarre?

Remember that marriage in both of our countries is an institution for all in society. And society consists of both Christians and nonChristians. And the answer to your question about two brothers, a question I anticipated, is obvious from my previous answer. But what you want is a single source, like the Scriptures, that authoritatively tell us what we can and cannot do. And this is one of the key differences between us. That while I recognize the authority structures taught in the Scriptures, IMO, you seem to go beyond that and embrace an authoritarianism that does not know when to turn off the authority switch and work with others as equals in determining what laws we should pass and what kind of society we should have. In the meantime, you seem to be trying to paint the LGBT community and their practices as a threat to society which merits sanctions against at least some of their practices. Have you ever considered that the part of what Romans 1 teaches us is that homosexuality, though it is not normal in terms of how God designed us to be, could be normal among unbelievers? And if it is normal in terms of what we expect because man has fallen into sin, why are we trying so hard to suppress so many things through law.

Have you ever worked with any homosexuals or had close personal friendships with any? I have and that is regardless of the fact that they know what I believe the Bible says about homosexuality. In fact, some of those friends of mine and I have discussed it and we can because they know that I respect them as equals. They also know that we can because I very much appreciate their contributions to society, to my family, and to my own life.

Other than that, the counterexamples your bring up work only if one selectively employs equality. Your counterexaple of stealing does just that. It leaves out what was said about equality being measured in terms of opportunities and rights and focuses solely on possessions. Your bringing up polygamy and incest forgets the feasibility  and equality problems the former poses and the health and equality problems the latter poses. And this is despite the fact that I already addressed those points.

The real key issue here is that of authority and its use or abuse. It seems that you believe that we cannot relate to nonChristians as equals when it comes to sharing society with them. It seems that you believe that Christians must impose Biblical laws and principles on nonChristian members of society lest things become unmanageable. Unfortunately, Church history does not give Christians much evidence to support their right to have authority over nonChristians in society. Our past, and even current persecution, of the LGBT community shows why we should not rule over them. Our own intramural wars, colonialism, and empires give ample testimony as to why we should not rule over nonChristians. And yet, you want Christians to use the Bible to rule over nonChristians in society through the laws government passes.

And while we discuss these things, you continue to make negative personal remarks about me. And I am trying to think why ministers would assume the right to speak that way to me when we are all like the publican from the parable of the two men praying. Just as your negative personal remarks provide obstacles for me to take you seriously, Christians' efforts to control and impose their religious views on nonChristians through legislation make it very difficult for many of them to want to listen to the preaching of the Gospel.


Nov 7

To Joe Carter and his blogpost containing 12 recommendations for the Religious Right. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Recommendations #2, 4, 5, 6,10, 11, and 12 are very good suggestions. However, there will be disagreement on how to implement some of those recommendations. For example, does religious liberty for all include the inclusion of those who do not have a BIblical view of sex who want to participate in SSM or its exclusion? Doesn't legally prohibiting SSM because of what the Scriptures say about sex and marriage deny the religious liberties of those who don't hold to the Biblical view?

As for recommendation #7, the rejection of theocracy is not equal to the prevention of some kind of supremacy for Christians over the rest in society. And when we have some kind of supremacy, we don't fully have religious liberty. For liberty - equality = privilege. And the absence of theocracy does not equal the absence of supremacy especially when we measure supremacy on a continuum. The absence of theocracy simply means that there is no complete control over society by Christians. Paternalism is another way by which Christians seek to control over society. For with paternalism, Christians insist that the Biblical statements on a given individual issue be made law because of what is good for society. So Christians are trying to exercise a measure of control over society for society's sake. Again, the SSM issue comes to play here. One of the reasons why many Christians opposed SSM was because they believed that traditional marriage is essential for human flourishing and that society was not big enough for both traditional and same-sex marriages.

Or another way by which Christian paternalism can be exercised is for the government to grant special privileges and resources for the Church in order for the Church to take care of more and more of those who are in need. That means that instead of the government pitching in to help those people, it should bless the Church both financially and with political power so that the Church can have the resources to do the job.The Church, in essence, becomes the government's social service military force except that the Church does not take orders from the state. It is a way of making Christianity predominant in society without insisting on a theocracy. We should also note that after a certain threshold, the more the Church tries to replace the government in helping those in need, the louder the Church says that the government is not to represent all of its citizens, especially those citizens who are vulnerable.

As for recommendations #4 & 8, should we refuse to put those who have other political ideologies on trial or try to dethrone those conservatives who denigrate the character of either liberals or leftists? Should we do the same to liberals and leftists who try to do the same? If we are going to have a democracy, then we need to readily listen to and work with people from all sides otherwise we will be seeking control over them rather than sharing power with them.

As for recommendation #9, since politics and culture are so intertwined, it is too difficult to say that one should care more about the one or the other. It is the case that both culture affects politics and politics affects culture.

In short, those of us who are religiously conservative Christians, regardless of whether we are politically conservative, have a penchant for authoritarianism. That is because the Bible legitimately uses authority structures as a framework for so many of our relationships. As a result, we may not be able to turn off that authority switch when dealing with society. Just because we are not pushing for a theocracy doesn't mean that we are not seeking to have authority others in some way, shape, or form. Those who cannot turn off that authority switch probably embrace to some degree authoritarianism. And the problem with embracing authoritarianism, is that we have little patience with those who do not fall in line with our agenda.

A real democracy for a pluralistic society requires democratic processes as well as democratic state of being. That democratic state of being includes a preference to share power than to seize it. That state includes a concern for and solidarity with those who live in the margins of society so that we are not just pressing our own demands, we are pressing their demands as well. A true democracy is the sum of democratic processes and a democratic state of being. The latter can never be achieved without the former and the former without the latter simply results in the hijacking of democracy whether the hijacker is an individual, a small group, or the majority of people.


To Mark Howard and his blogpost on politics in America and the Church in Iran. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website

We should note the similarity between the effects of the Shah's rule over Iran with that of those who seized power after the revolution. That similarity can be called guilt by association. Whereby Christianity suffered significant setbacks with the rise of the revolution but is now growing, so too many Muslims suffered much because of the Shah's westernizing of Iran and that led to acceptance of Ayatollah Khomeini back in 1979.

In addition, just as the pendulum swung in one direction under the Shah, how far the pendulum is swinging now is due to how far it was pushed before.

Both points here must be remembered when trying to understand Iran's current state of affairs as well as how we should work for change in all nations including our own.


To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost about bringing back child labor but doing so without without the abuses of the past. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Kids as young as 16 already work. To allow children under 16 to work is to increase the supply of labor in the job market where the median age and average educational level for low skilled jobs have been rising. Of course, one of the accommodations for allowing younger children to work would be to establish an even lower minimum wage for them. Yes, that serves the interests of some corporations, but what does it do for the overall family income in which economic hopelessness is on the rise because of the loss of adequate paying low skilled jobs?

In addition, as one who taught college, I saw the conflict many students faced between putting in enough hours of work to pay their bills and putting in enough hours in their studies to get a true education. All too many times, the latter suffered significantly because of the former. Should we do the same on a wide scale with children who are younger than 16?


Nov 8

To Joe Carter and his blogpost evaluating the different approaches to voting from a Christian perspective. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

What needs commenting on is the quote from Jeremiah. For unlike the exiled Jews in Babylon, we American Christians have an earthly citizenship in America. And thus, we bear a responsibility for both America's prosperity and how it obtains that prosperity. So it seems to me that we shouldn't just pray and work for our prosperity, we should pray and work for justice so that our welfare doesn't come at the expense of the welfare of others either here or abroad.

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