Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If I Die

            As you may already know, I’m going to London to study abroad over winter break. It’s an exciting opportunity, one I’m looking forward to, but I need to clear a few things up first.
            There is risk involved in any trip to a major world city. First, I have the flights there and back. Four times taking off, four times landing. There’s being in the middle of a city hated by terrorists and with people hated by terrorists. There have been beheadings in London and bombs set off in London. There’s always a risk. There is strict gun control in the city; not even the police carry them. So if someone broke that law, we would be fairly helpless.
            Don’t misunderstand, I have no plans to die in the near future. But life is uncertain.
            The trip insurance includes costs of flying my body back. My grandmother is worried. My mother is convinced that I will perish. The risk of death is very low, and probably not much higher than when I am in the U.S. But it is always there. It is with such uncertainty that I prepare.
            If I die, I want you to know a few things in my absence.
            If I die, know that I love you. This isn’t directed to anyone specific. A general “I love you” directed towards many specific people. To my family, even when we butt heads. To my friends from my hometown and home church, I may not always keep up with you, but I have not forgotten you guys. To those I’ve met in various college ventures: those at the BCM and in NRTL, my neighbors in my dorm, the random people I come into contact with and build a relationship with. To those at my adopted church, and those at Created Equal. The love that God shows me has taught me how to love. Though I can’t ever love like Him, I see the sacrifice His love produced, and I in turn give that to you.
            If I die, know that I care about you. I know I’m sarcastic, awkward and occasionally creepy. If I didn’t know you well enough, I wouldn’t act the way I do. I do it because I’m comfortable with you. And I care about what’s going on in your life. I can sense when something’s bothering you, and it pains me when something pains you.
            If I die, know that you’ve had an impact on me. If you’re reading this, you have probably affected me in some way. I hope that I have affected you.
            If I die, know that it is not an accident that we knew each other. I believe God has put every individual in my life for a reason. If I didn’t see you as worth knowing, I wouldn’t take the time. I want you in my life.
            If I die, know that I have never allowed differences to separate us. You know I have strong opinions and beliefs. I believe truth is narrowly defined and live by it the best I can. If you’re a Christian or not a Christian, I love you. If you’re liberal or conservative or somewhere else, I love you. If you’re straight or gay, I love you. Though I may not agree with you or the way you live your life in some aspects, I care about you.
            If I die, know that it is for a purpose. If it’s an accident or whether I’m murdered for my faith, God has allowed it for the furtherance of His work. It’s not just Him choosing, I’ve given myself up to be used in what capacity He wants to use me. I don’t know that I’m to the point of saying that I’m willing to die if that is how God can best use me, but I’m striving to get there. That is sacrificial, biblical Christianity. But know that I will be in a far better place, and I’m hoping to see you again some day.
            If I die, know that I want you to experience what I have. I knew where Jesus was for a long time but never found Him. Perhaps you knew me before then, I can’t forget it. Jesus has made a difference in my life, and He will in any life that lets Him in. There is nothing short of Him or added to Him that makes life worth living. At least give it a shot, check out Christianity and see if it’s the real thing.
            If I die, donate the little money I have to something meaningful. Donate it to stop oppression: abortion, sex trafficking, and the like. Be sure the organizations are Christ-driven and proclaimers of the true gospel- that Jesus alone saves us. He is Who can truly deliver from oppression.
            If I die, post the blog articles I’ve written. The instructions are in my desk at NKU.
            If I die, don’t make my funeral too sorrowful. Preach the gospel and tell some of the ridiculous stories I’ve managed to be a part of. Know I’m better off where I am.
            Oh, and of course, cheer on my Franklin and NKU teams.
            Hopefully I’ll see you upon my return. That’s my plan and what likely will happen. But since seemingly unfair things happen, it never hurts to be cautious.
            If I haven’t mentioned it enough, I love you all and am thankful that you have been a part of my life. Relationships are what make life great, and I’ve been blessed to be around great people.

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. –Job 19:25-27

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Answer to the Original Cyberfeminist

            You're probably asking a perfectly reasonable question. What is a cyberfeminist? I asked the same when I first heard it.
            I read a book recently for a Philosophy class entitled The Dialectic of Sex: A Case for Feminist Revolution. The author is a woman by the name of Shulamith Firestone. I could already see where this was going, and the photo of the hippie-as-you-can-get writer further confirmed the anticipation. We were instructed to “resist commentary” in our exam essay, and I was so disappointed that I decided to make my own critique public.
            Let me first say that, as much as I disagreed with Firestone, she made a few valid points. There is a large portion of men that use women as a means to their own ends, be it sex, bragging rights, or defining their “manhood”, rather than treating women as an end themselves. And the first part of her chapter (ch. 6) on love and romance was an accurate assessment for the most part. While true love is not impossible to find as she claims, it is very difficult, as many relationships are made and continued because of the benefit to the individual, rather than the love for an individual that causes you to be willing to sacrifice for them (“charity”, as seen in I Corinthians 13, if you use a Bible that translates accurately). But apart from this, Firestone shamelessly shows off her radical feminist views.
            It begins with Firestone’s presuppositions. I don’t know if she had a bad experience with a man as a child (not a sarcastic comment, it has happened) or if her parents were failures, but she has a very perverted view of society and the people within it. First, women can do no wrong. Not even the most minuscule portion of blame for the problems of society, many of which are not problems to someone who is not a feminist, can be laid on females. They are the victims in this scenario, and if you don’t think so, you are clearly sexist and are fueling the fire of patriarchy.
            Second, men can do no right. Men are solely interested in power. Anything they do in business, or relationships, or evil religion is done to have power. Within relationships, of course, power comes in the form of sex. This is the sole interest of every man, and apparently is supposed to be the way relationships should operate. Firestone believes that love, the kind of vulnerable love that most would consider the way love should be, was created by men to make women dependent on them. Their dependence, of course, leads to sex. Men are incapable of love, she claims. The nuclear family, schools, and hierarchies have this in common: they were created by men to oppress women and children.
            Third, male domination can be seen anywhere, no matter what happens. Because outside of victimization, people like Firestone have no livelihood. Nuclear family? Male domination. Businesses? Male domination. Matriarchy? Male domination. (No, seriously, it’s just a step to patriarchy and oppression. Women are worshiped by men and are manipulated to be okay with their position (in power?).)
            To boil it down, like any good feminist, Firestone would not be satisfied. No matter what strides are made, no matter how equal things are, the victimization card must be played. A person that claims to want equality gets it, and then acts like it doesn’t exist so she doesn’t become obsolete. This comes as little surprise from a movement who hasn’t known what it wants since women gained suffrage in 1920.
            When you have the worldview of “…God has long-been pronounced dead but has a funny way of reviving himself,” you tend to have some pretty outlandish ideas. (For the 400 years of the intertestimonial period, I’m sure there were those that said the same thing. Then came Jesus.)
            Just what is outlandish? Women are created unequal in Firestone’s eyes. Perhaps “evolved” unequal would be a better word. Thanks Evolution. It is certainly in the interest of a “revolutionary” claiming that women have value to drink the Kool-Aid of a theory that tells us no one has value. Firestone claims that the ability to bear children is oppressive to women. I’m sure, somehow, this is the fault of men. She sees physiological differences between men and women as a liability to women. Call me crazy, but I find that they should be accepted if not celebrated. This means we can love. We can carry on the human race. A good part of women want to be able to bear children, counting it as a privilege. Some would do about anything to have the opportunity. Not to say that a pregnancy is easy, but certainly not oppressive. Coming from a radical feminist that believes a nuclear family is oppressive to a child but the dismembering of a child in the womb is a woman’s choice (with no legal input from the oppressive man), again, this should not come as a bolt from the blue.
            Allow me to introduce a radical idea. Women are equal by their nature of being human. Because I believe all humans are created in the image of God and are therefore equal. It doesn’t take a feminist to realize that. It doesn’t take refusing to shave our armpits or turning lesbian or using illicit drugs for a woman to know that she is equal. Playing the victim doesn’t empower you.
Firestone believes the key to equality for women lies in technology (hence "cyberfeminism"), where things like artificial wombs will free them from the oppression that is their physiology. Women don’t need technology or government intervention or the “right” to kill their child to be equal. To say that they do is to say that they are not currently equal. Saying they need help to be level with men is already saying that they are inferior. Women don’t need anything to “make” them equal because they are already equal. We must be careful not to confuse differences with inequality. There are obvious differences, physically, emotionally, even mentally, between males and females. They have different strengths and weaknesses, maybe even some different roles, but these differences do not make them unequal. These differences make them compliments. Isn’t it funny how God designs these things? I’m just glad we were able to revive Him.
          Saying that women are monogamous, then subsequently saying that a “man goes out and screws ten women” to prove his lack of commitment to his wife isn’t doing you any favors. What of the ten women? Are they all monogamous? Eleven women for every one man? There seems to be a lot of leftover women. Or perhaps women in relationships are monogamous, but for every one of them there are ten single ones that aren’t. Which is then saying that women are not really monogamous.
          To fully grasp the depths of Firestone’s depravity, her last chapter must be read, laying out her demands for a full societal feminist revolution. I will briefly discuss them.
          Her first demand is to “free women from reproductive tyranny” by using technology to eliminate childbirth, or at least make men share the load of child-rearing. As part of this, nuclear families must be destroyed, as monogamous relationships are not natural, and nuclear families are oppressive to women and children. Instead of “ownership” of children by parents, children will be communally raised.
          While I believe men should participate in raising their children, as a whole this runs completely contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the family, the one our society has accepted from the beginning. A full-frontal assault on the family has already been going on for a while. Will we idly sit by and watch it happen, or will we step up?
          The second is a demand for “cybernetic socialism” (you can’t make this stuff up) that will offer political autonomy for women and children. Your child over there in the corner eating crayons and throwing Hot Wheels? He should be voting.
          The third is like unto the second: complete integration of women and children in society. In case that’s too broad, Firestone includes the need to destroy anything that segregates women and children from society: schools, nuclear families, and children’s games, toys, and activities. While I believe many children are babied too long and not allowed to mature, there is a need for a childhood and a period of innocence. Firestone wants communal families and a system like the aristocracy of old had. Children should fully be treated like adults. Schools should be more like apprenticeships. This again all stems from the idea that the family is oppressive to women and children- which we are not told when it occurred nor how exactly it is oppressive.
          It gets better. Firestone’s last demand is for sexual freedom for women and children. Firestone points to poor blacks (the equality activist called black women “whores” earlier in the book) as a decent model, as they are much more in touch with their sexuality, having sex with who they want when they want. Stuffy, old-fashioned white people look down on such behavior. (Why there is a racial distinction drawn, I am uncertain.) Communal living means communal sex. A single household could consist of an 80 year-old man, a 40 year-old woman, an 18 year-old male and his 16 year-old sister, and a four year-old girl, and they all should be able to have sex with any other person. Apparently, sexual and physical development should have no bearing on society setting loose a grown man on a little girl (or a little boy). Don’t tell me it’s a mutual thing; children are not mature enough to reasonably make such a decision. The incest taboo, of course created by male domination, must go as well. Parents, who as we learned early should play a minimal role in their children’s lives, are now able to freely have sex with them.
          Seem wrong to you? It should. As I’ve learned, this is the radical feminist demand (those same ones that used eight year-old girls to say the f-word when talking about feminist myths) for our society. Will we accept the direction they’re still trying to take us, or call them out for what they are?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Takeaways from Ferguson

            Let's try to look at this as color-blind as we claim to be. A "meek" man who would "flee from danger", as his family said, robs a convenience store and assaults a clerk. He and his friend are walking down the middle of the street with stolen goods when a police officer tells them to move because they are blocking traffic. The young man allegedly, as accounts and the bruises on the officer testify, charged and “punched and scratched (the officer) repeatedly, leaving swelling on his face and cuts on his neck” (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/11/24/never-before-seen-photo-of-officer-darren-wilsons-face-after-ferguson-shooting-released-as-part-of-grand-jury-evidence/). The officer is able to grab his handgun and shoot the 6'4", almost 300 lb. man. I would consider this reasonable self-defense. Now the kicker: the officer is white and the man he killed is black. Why does this change the self-defense case? I don't know. We have to move past assuming that because a white man kills a black man, it is automatically a racially-motivated murder. Things are usually much more complicated than that. If this would have been a white man killed, we wouldn't be seeing this on the news for an extended length of time, three months of riots that are still escalating, and so much rhetoric and ink spilled on the subject. Are we really looking at this objectively, or letting racial hysteria enter in?
            This isn’t a statement about black people or white people or race in general. This is a cut-and-dry criminal investigation that concluded with the obvious decision to not charge a police officer who killed a man in self-defense. But the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world, and of course the president, have to fuel the fire with their assumed racism. Blacks kill blacks and whites kill whites at much higher rates than one race kills another. And blacks kill whites twice as often, percentage-wise, as whites kill blacks. And just because a person of one race murders a person of another race doesn’t mean that the motive was racism.
            This is not about racism. I am not saying that there isn’t racism in the world. I’m not saying there aren’t killings and police brutality done due to race. But we can’t jump to an immediate conclusion that something is. Please tell me we are better than that as a society. I fear we aren’t.
            Doubtless a radical race-baiter would call me racist for daring to suggest that there could have been another motive besides race. His family said he was gentle. And the neighbors of the man who hid women’s bodies in his house in Cleveland thought he was okay too. Anyone can be blinded by their love for someone, but true character will eventually show. Robbery and assault don’t speak well of one’s character.
            Listen here, folks. I have more black friends than I could count. I have friends of all different backgrounds and minority statuses. I don’t care. Are there differences between us? Yes! And it would be boring if there wasn’t. But that doesn’t predispose us to hate each other and live in a cloud of mistrust. This nation has a history of racism, but that doesn’t mean we have to cling to it in the present. There are whites and blacks alike who want to, because of intolerance or victim-playing, but I think a lot of us see through that.
            It starts in the leadership of the black community. A man like Martin Luther King, Jr. is rolling in his grave. He didn’t preach hatred of whites, or mistrust simply because of race. That’s exactly what the white racists were guilty of. He preached unity and brotherhood. Many black leaders today don’t want the integration men like MLKJ fought for. Take Oprah berating Raven Simone for wanting to be called “American” instead of “African-American”. Blacks are just as much American as I am. I don’t call myself a European-American. Our ancestors have been here for the same amount of time. These “leaders” want to hold on to the race card and racial distinction for times of desired use.
            It starts with the leadership. And it starts with families teaching their children respect, and honor, and virtue, so kids, white black or whatever, don’t end up on streets robbing stores. What the common themes behind stories like Michael Brown’s is the failure in the family, the black community leadership, and society for failing them and allowing them to be in that position. That’s not an excuse for them. If you’re old enough to be robbing a store you’re old enough to know better. But kids are being put out into the world without proper instruction. This should be the takeaway from these stories. “How can we as a community and society avoid letting kids slip through the cracks?” Not, “How we can blame the police or white people?”
            As a friend of mine said: “Not all cops are bad. Not all black people are criminals. Not all white people are racist. Stop Labeling.”
            Will we ever see a day when people, black, white or otherwise, “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”?

            As for an immediate answer, just ask the city of Ferguson.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pope Francis: What will he say next?

If you are Catholic, this will probably offend you. It is not my goal to offend, but to speak the truth. But as "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (I Cor. 1:18), it will undoubtedly offend some. Look beyond pride and weigh what will be said.

            Pope Francis is no stranger to controversy. There are a number of unanswered questions from his time in Argentina during the Dirty War. Some produce evidence that he delivered two priests to the Fascist government. At the very least, he stood by without speaking out or helping those being targeted.
            The pope who has denied he is a Marxist stated this in one speech:

I do not hesitate to state, as did my predecessors, that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world's peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society…

The pontiff believes the Catholic church should be a “poor church for the poor”. The small detail omitted was the estimated $10 billion to $15 billion the Vatican has invested in divers places. The Holy See’s chief accountant in 2003 stated, “The Vatican's real estate is worth about 700 million euro ($1.21 billion), not including its priceless art treasures.” A cardinal’s finery can run over $20,000, and their luxury is dwarfed by the pope’s clothing. These men took vows of poverty at one time. I am reminded of what Revelation 18 says about the fall of Babylon:

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow…And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought…

            Fireworks have been sent off by comments about homosexuals:

If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby. The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one…Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community…Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?

            The word “welcoming” was quickly changed to “providing for”, but the meaning in Italian was not lost. His push that “people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed with respect and delicacy” as well as the divorced into the church was defeated at the synod. The pontiff warned the Catholic church of being too rigid and inflexible on such issues. This would have violated the Catechism, but he hasn’t seemed to take much issue with that.
            Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American, was again demoted recently by Pope Francis. The former archbishop of St. Louis has been openly critical of the pope’s indoctrinate approach, saying there is a sense the Catholic church is like a “ship without a rudder”. Burke has long been audibly against giving communion to politicians who support abortion. Burke isn’t the only American who takes issue with the pope; Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput said his administration has been one of “confusion” and “confusion is of the devil”.
            Lately, the pope weighed in on the origin of humans and the universe:

When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so…He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment…God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities. Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.

            Sadly, this position is not a new one among popes. Pope Pius XII in 1950 said the Big Bang did not contradict Catholic doctrine, a sentiment echoed by Pope John Paul II. Coming from a church that used to persecute people for saying the world is round, this shouldn’t come as a major surprise.
            My Bible says something like this:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…And God said, Let there be light: and there was light…And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so…And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so…And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so…

You get the idea. But let’s not forget about us:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1)

            He’s right, God is no magician. No magician can touch that power, can fashion everything so perfectly, to set everything in order. It takes something much more wise and powerful and intelligent than evolution or a Big Bang to create this.
            Now anyone who knows the Bible knows that there were various social classes in Israel. As God chooses to give some wealth (Ecc. 5:19) and tells the church to take care of the poor, these are of God. God gives some wealth to be a blessing to His ministry, which includes taking care of the poor, who must rely on God and whose faith is then built up by being in poverty. Taking care of the needy is the church’s job and charity’s job, not the government’s.
            To stand and say this as the leader of the Catholic church is the epitome of hypocrisy. The Vatican City is gaudy in its splendor and wealth. The pope’s outfit is worth more than most in the world make in a year. To call himself poor and simple is to call the White House a modest cottage. I understand the minimal salaries of priests over a parish, but at the top there is plenty of wealth to go around. (But it doesn’t, for that is apparently the government’s duty.)
            The Bible is also clear on its stance on homosexuality. I don’t think this is the issue at hand; the pope still believes homosexuality is sin. Now as a born-again Christian, I believe that it is not whether one is involved in a certain sin that gives them a relationship with God, but their stance in Christ. There can be homosexual Christians because salvation doesn’t depend on this issue. But those who are Christians will flee from sin.
            I actually agree with the pontiff in that we should not judge homosexuals. The media makes like he is the first “Christian” who has ever said this, when the alternative is being a hateful Christian who believes the same thing. I take issue in that he believes there is a role for homosexuals in the church. ANY sin, if perpetually done without regret or belief it is wrong, should disqualify someone from having a role in the church. Church (true church) is a place for sinners to come and repent, but a sinner cannot lead other sinners. (The word “sinner” here being used for being involved continually in sin.)
            As for Evolution, the idea is never mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps it’s somewhere in the Apocrypha, but not in the cannon of scripture. (Perhaps it is somewhere nestled in with purgatory, rehearsed prayers, intercession of the dead and indulgences.) Right off, God is established as the Supreme Creator who created the world through His wisdom and power, from nothing. No Big Bang spoken of, no evolving of humans. None of it. (If proof is needed for why Creation is the correct model, read the extensive body of evidence accumulated: http://joetrammell.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-case-for-biblical-creation-and-young.html.)
            All of this makes sense to someone who looks to the Bible alone for their doctrine, or sola scriptura, as the Catholic church says us silly Protestants believe (“Protestant” incorporating very diverse beliefs yet used as a catch-all). Such a radical idea is this use of the Bible alone:

Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by Scripture alone") is the Protestant Christian doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.

Where would this come from?

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. –II Timothy 3:14-17

Hmm, so it’s the holy scriptures that shows us the way of salvation and how to be capable of good works. Paul writes this to Timothy warning him to continue what he’s been taught from the scriptures because “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Such as telling us that following traditions of church teaching that have no biblical basis are necessary for a relationship with God.
            In fact, the Bible clearly takes position against that:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. –Colossians 2:8

And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. –I Peter 1:17-21

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. –Matthew 15:9

            The Bible teaches that we are not redeemed with “vain conversation (actions) received by tradition from your fathers”, but with Christ’s blood; by HIM we believe in God. Teaching the commandments of men as doctrine is vain worship.
            The stances of Pope Francis, some of which are not only unbiblical but against Catholic teaching as well, is of no matter to the believer. To the Catholic, it begs a number of questions. When does the leadership of a pope end and the authority of God’s Word begin? If the pope teaches something unbiblical, is he or the Bible right? If God leads the cardinals to choose the pope, what was going on?
            I believe God did lead the cardinals to choose this pope, because it opens doors. What if tradition does conflict with what God commands in the Bible? Who made these traditions? Men. Even the greatest spiritual men have faults, are imperfect. God is not only Holy, but promises that His Word will not pass away (Luke 21:33), and furthermore tells us that He has exalted it even above His name (Ps. 138:2). God makes no such promises on the words of men, instead saying that there will be false teachers only getting more frequent and worse as time goes on.
            The Catholic church claims it is infallible (and so am I, because I said so). This is based on the belief that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”. The true church, the blood-bought children of God, will not be touched by Hell, because God has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins…” (Col. 1:13-14). God will not allow His children to parish (something else the Bible is clear on and will be expounded in a later post). When did this infallibility begin? Paying enough money will take away time from purgatory, as will following Pope Francis on Twitter. The former was one more thing that resulted in the Protestant Reformation. The money rolled in as parishioners were deceived into believing their money was buying God’s favor.
            Believing the Catholic church’s infallibility means condoning the Papal Inquisitions, the second greatest genocide in A.D. times. Between 50,000,000 and 75,000,000 people were murdered in gruesome ways over a span of several centuries for dissenting Catholic beliefs. While I disagree with many on areas of religion, I am not fearful of them to cause me to order their deaths. If something is right and true, it doesn’t need to violently offend against those who are not violent. Alas, these order came from the top, proving to us that Pope Francis is certainly not the first pope with questionable judgment:

Anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with Church dogma must be burned without pity. –Pope Innocent III

            Head Inquisitors were appointed by popes with orders from the Council of Harbonne not to regard any husband for his wife or parent for helpless child. The Council of Toulouse adopted canons to make the inquisition permanent, much to the chagrin of Catholics who attempt to say the murder and torture didn’t come from the church leadership. Innocent IV ordered the creation of torture chambers, which produced some of the most infamous devices in history: the Rack, the Stocks, the Pear, the Wheel, the Head Crusher, the Breast-Ripper, etc. all inscribed with “Glory Be To God”. The victims of this were of all ages, social classes and sexes, although women seemed to have a soft spot with Inquisitors and Catholic leaders:

Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman. –Clement of Alexandria

Woman is a temple built upon a sewer. –Boethius

To embrace a woman is to embrace a sack of manure... –Odo of Cluny

[N]othing [deficient] or defective should have been produced in the first establishment of things; so woman ought not to have been produced then. –Thomas Aquinus (implying that God made a mistake in creation)

Inquisitors assumed their sexual arousal was the fault of the women in bondage, and would fall upon their breasts and genitals with hot irons and plyers. The Archbishop of Treves burned 108 women and two men.

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman...I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. –“Saint” Augustine

            If this behavior is infallible, then I want nothing to do with Christianity. If it is of sinful, evil mankind, then we see the need for a Savior.
            Contrary perhaps to popular belief, I have a lot in common with Catholics. I have worked beside many faithful individuals in the pro-life movement. But I cannot believe the traditions of men are equal to the words of God.
            The choice is laid out before us. Do we obey the words of a man? Do we follow the renderings of councils of the past? Do we obey the legalistic rules of religion and its questionable past? Or will we deal directly with God and the Word He has given, without going through a middle-man or middle-church? Will we choose to look beyond how we have been raised and seek out truth, even if it conflicts with what we've been taught?
            Born-again Christians don’t need a thick Catechism of rules in how to live. As we continue on in our Christian walk God continues to change us more to be like Jesus. His Word provides the guidelines He has set out, and it tells us how we can be reconciled to God. We don’t need a church to redeem us or to confess our sins to. It is Christ alone who redeems and He alone who intercedes for us. The Catholic church didn’t sacrifice itself, taking my sin and my punishment for my sin. Jesus did. Salvation isn’t wrapped up in ritual or church membership, but in the One who has already won the victory.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. –Galatians 2:21

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. -Acts 5:29

Saturday, November 1, 2014

That sounds bad. Let's rename it!

            As the great philosopher Red Green spoke about in one of his segments, things always sound better when they are substituted for another word. “You’re not cheap, you’re cautious.” This is something I’ve noticed over the past few years with liberals and libertarians alike. (Economically, these two vary greatly. On social issues, however, they are uncomfortably cozy.) Things that are clearly wrong to anyone with an attached conscience can simply be reworded to appeal to the masses of sheep.
            You may occasionally hear the word “abortion”, but even that has some negative connotation. Why address the issue itself when we can follow a red herring? It’s not an issue of life, it’s “women’s rights”. The proper term would be “dismembering of a human being”, but that doesn’t have a very happy tone to it. It’s much more convenient to use “termination of a pregnancy”. The fetus isn’t human, it is just a “clump of cells”, or if you are a bit more depraved, a “parasite”. Abortion advocate lingo is lengthy; read a pro-choice argument and the bases will be covered.
            “Sin” has been changed to “marriage equality”. Unnatural, ungodly sexual relations are now “hereditary”. Bullying of those who disagree with you is “tolerance”; telling someone out of love that we are all sinners is “intolerance”.
            Robbing from successful people to build an underclass of people who will reciprocate with votes is “redistribution of wealth”.
            A more extensive but certainly not complete liberal-to-English translation:

“I believe in a woman’s right to choose.”
-I believe a woman should not be able to choose her health care provider or if she wants to be a homemaker, but should be able to choose to kill her child.

“Bush lied, kids died.”
-We believe a man who was sent on a trip to Africa by his wife, and lied saying that he was sent by the vice president and CIA, who then lied that there was no uranium bought by Iraq, because we are against wars with Islam.

“Bill Clinton balanced the budget.”
-Besides his affairs, Clinton redirected money from Social Security to make it seem that the budget had a predicted surplus.

“Stay out of my uterus.”
-…unless you are an abortionist.

“We need to make our schools safe.”
-We insist that guns be taken from all citizens, for reasons you can’t ask about.

“You deny science.”
-I believe that, well, assume a particle, and it exploded to create the universe. Then, assume genetic material. It formed a cell from some goo. Then that through random mutations, of which we haven’t found any evidence of in fossils, it started to create more complex organisms. Then eventually, humans are here.

“George Bush”
-When anything Obama does that is questionable is brought up, W. is to blame.

“You’re just racist.”
-I’ve run out of things to say, but don’t want you to win the argument.

“Ronald Reagan was a Fascist.”
-Anyone who lowers taxes, defeats Communism, is anti-abortion, and a Christian cannot be a good person.

“Save the environment.”
-Looking at the last 30 years of data, a warming pattern has been noticed. Though before that a cooling pattern was seen, we insist temperatures will continue to rise, so we need more regulations.

“Climate change”
-I couldn’t decide if the Earth was getting warmer or colder, so naturally any natural phenomenon is due to emissions.

“Go green.”
Buy our expensive stuff. No, I insist.

“Equal opportunity”
-We have it now, but we need to make sure the results for everyone are the same as well.

“Affordable health care”
-For twenty percent of America. Everyone else, we can’t guarantee anything.

“Separation of church and state”
-We wanted to institute our own statist religion, so we created this to keep all the others out.

“Islam is a peaceful religion.”
-I understand the Quran like I understand the Bible.

“Stop patriarchy”
-I believe women should be given special privileges to put them ahead of men.

“Marriage equality”
-Heterosexuals, homosexuals, pedophiles, and zoophiles are all equal

“If homosexuality is wrong, why do you trim your beard or not still stone people?”
-I lost every book of the Bible but Leviticus.

-You are entitled to your opinion, as long as it is mine.

“America is an evil nation.”
-I am using my constitutional free speech rights to trash this country.

“You want to go back to back alley abortions.”
-You want to take away millions in campaign donations.

“We’ll have to raise taxes.”
-I’m taking more of your money and redistributing it to someone who will vote for me.

“You cling to your guns and religion.”
-You’re not who I want Americans to be like.

“Coming out is a very brave thing.”
-But by the time I’m done, it’ll be normal.

“Unfair attack”
-You shouldn’t have quoted me in context.

“Tell me what’s on Fox News tonight.”
-Though the last study done [http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=207] showed liberals outnumber conservatives four-to-one in the media, I trust the ones that tell me what I want to hear such as CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times.

“Keep the government out of my body.”
-The government can interfere with my body every way except for telling me I can’t kill my child.

-A man who is pro-life

            Just the latest entry into the already extensive liberal-to-English translator involves the issue of physician-assisted suicide. Now generally, we consider to be suicide a bad thing, something that we would do anything to stop a friend from doing. But with the help of one who has taken an oath to do no harm (they must have went to school with abortionists), suddenly suicide is not only permissible but commendable.
            Now I understand, whether you choose to recognize I do, that fatal illnesses are horrible things. So don’t mistake my opposition for euthanasia for a heartless attitude towards those that are suffering.
            The ultimate goal for suffering is to ease it- to stop the suffering. Now this may be a difficult concept to understand for a liberal or libertarian that support the slaying of preborn humans, but this goal is to do what we can to end suffering. Suicide does not end the suffering, but the sufferer.
            See, in their usual fashion, liberals/libertarians have realized that the proper term, “euthanasia”, has developed a negative connotation. And its actual meaning, having someone else kill yourself for you, cannot do to advance their culture of death. Hence terms like “dying with dignity”. There is nothing dignified about killing oneself. This term implies that someone who hangs on and fights for as long as they can is undignified, while giving up and taking poison is “dignified”. What a backwards society.
            The insistence is that the suffering will end. But this creates an insurmountable obstacle. Because apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ, the sufferer will pass on to an eternity in Hell (“intolerance” comments in three…) where they will forever endure prodigiously more suffering. If one does have a relationship with Jesus, then they know that suicide is the wrong answer, but instead they are to use whatever remains of their lives to glorify God. There is no fear of suffering because what waits after is better than what we can imagine.
            Even apart from religion, a foreign lens I am still adjusting to looking through in my writings, suicide makes little sense, maybe even less sense. If this life was all we had, why not allow it to continue for as long as possible? Is not some life better than no life? If the goal is to carry on our names, why throw in the towel early? (Unless, of course, fame is the goal, as it is one of the locomotives for the Brittany Maynard case.)
            We’re trying to teach kids that suicide is not the answer, then praising someone who chooses it. Anyone reminded of the “certain circumstances” belief for abortion.
            Bottom line, none of us can know when we will die. Even someone with a date set can die before then. We all can have plans, but as the Bible says, we ought not to take tomorrow for granted, because we’re not guaranteed it. But we ought to value all human life, from the moment of fertilization to the moment of death. That includes valuing our own lives that we have been given.
            There was a woman slated to willingly have someone take her life today. Amazingly enough, she decided to put it off for a while because she is still laughing and enjoying time with family and friends. But how could she possibly get anything out of life with a terminal illness?!
            There are deep issues surrounding this case and euthanasia in general. It is a conversation worth having, as many other social issues are.

            But let’s avoid that. When you don’t have any defense to your actions and beliefs, you rename them and point fingers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Hypersexualization of Breast Cancer Awareness

            I think few people would argue that awareness of cancer and attempting to find a cure are very good things. Necessary things. But that does not mean that the way in which it is done is necessarily good.
            You may know my beliefs on Susan G. Komen. I don’t care for them. Any organization who gives more money to its fundraising than to finding a cure for the disease it represents loses my respect. (No wonder they took “for the Cure” off of their name.) Add in its support for Planned Parenthood, and you can bank that I’ll never support that particular organization. But this isn’t about Susan G. Komen.
            It’s also interesting to note the significantly greater amount of funding that Breast Cancer research receives than any other form of cancer, even those that have a much higher death rate. But this isn’t about uneven funding.
            Lest you take me wrong, I am fully supportive of cancer research, Breast Cancer included. My grandma is a survivor of Breast Cancer, and I’ve known others who have died from the disease. Rather, I’m attacking a specific section of Breast Cancer Awareness that I find not only alarming and disgusting, but counterproductive to the cause and disrespectful to the patients.
            Has anyone else noticed how hypersexualized Breast Cancer Awareness has become?
            It started somewhat harmless, relatively speaking. Wristbands that read “I <3 Boobies” and bumper stick that say “Save the Tatas”. I don’t care for them. I don’t see the point to them. Let’s replace the official, appropriate name for this particular body part with street slang. That’s respectful to the women (and handful of men) that are battling Breast Cancer.
            Because here’s the deal: We’ve taken the focus away from the disease itself. Rather than seeing it as a bad thing that happens to one-eighth of all women, something that has to be caught early and fought, that always has a chance to come back, with a focus on the body part it affects.
            We get it. Guys like breasts. For whatever attractive quality they have, there tends to be a focus on them. As if it wasn’t obvious, we’ve tailored this cause and way too much else to reflect that. Part of it, I believe, stems from the hook-up/pornography institution that has been growing in our society. Rather than actually caring about women, men are taught, through peers and family members and any sort of media, that women are simply a means to our ends. Using women leads to things like this, where rather than worrying about women suffering we’re worried about them losing their “boobies” and hence something to gawk at.
            But it only starts there.
            Now, I’ll admit, researching what I didn’t already know to write this post was a bit uncomfortable. But it simply further affirmed what I have long thought.
            We’re focusing on the sexual arousal quality of breasts rather than the struggle of the women afflicted with Breast Cancer. Not only is this immature, it’s quite unfair to the almost 300,000 diagnoses of the cancer every year.
            It doesn’t take much of a search to find this garbage. I like the idea of Volley for the Cure, with high school volleyball focusing on Breast Cancer for a game. Its adult counterpart, “Boobyball”, not so much. So this isn’t really volleyball, rather it’s a half-glam half-burlesque showcase of female bodies. While the story behind it is admirable, it sexualizes something that has no need to be sexualized.
            Of course, there’s No Bra Day. Though there is no official date, the unofficial holiday seems to at least take place during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This one is pretty self-explaining. Women are encouraged to leave their bras at home and “set the tatas free”. Again, taking Breast Cancer a few steps lower into the blurring line of “awareness”. (To be fair to them and to show my support, I did participate again this year.)
            Let’s clear this up: Do we value a woman’s breasts over her actual life? No woman wants to have a mastectomy, but at this point in our medical advancement, sometimes it is what is necessary or safest for a woman with Breast Cancer. Slogans like “Save Second Base” make is seem like a mastectomy isn’t an option, because it’s important, either for guys’ arousal or for a woman to feel attractive, that she have her natural breasts. Putting such an emphasis on these body parts shames women who can no longer have them. We’re telling them that we aren’t really worried about them, but about their chest. How shallow.
            But just when we thought we couldn’t sledge further downward, alas. We further find young, topless women representing a disease whose average diagnosed woman is in her 60s (not at all to say that younger women are not diagnosed). The “CoppaFeel!” campaign in the UK puts pictures of bare breasts on billboards along with a word the woman used to describe her breasts. Take, for example, the word “Squidgy”, whatever it means. What, in the name of all things holy, this has to do with Breast Cancer is a question that needs to be asked.
            But lest we think our neighbors across the pond are the only creeps, there are a plethora of examples in the U.S. An online pornography site offered to donate one cent for every 30 video views. Thankfully, Susan G. Komen came through by rejecting the offer and telling the site not to use its name. Author of Pink Ribbon Blues, Gayle Sulik, had this to say:

I don't see the porn site to be much different from the 'Feel your boobies' T-shirts. It sexually objectifies women, trivializes breast cancer . . . and uses the objectified woman as window dressing for the profit-making machine.

I haven’t read her book, but I feel like it would be a good one.
            Perhaps the crown jewel of objectification of women in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness would be the YouTube account “Simple Pickup”. To spare you from looking them up, this is a group of perverts who give tips on how to have a one-night stand with the woman you choose. One of their particularly disturbing videos is titled “Motorboating for Breast Cancer Research”. For those ignorant of the term “motorboating”, I’ll look to the almighty Urban Dictionary to define. I apologize for any offense:

The placement of one's face, specifically the mouth, into the area between a well-endowed woman's breasts, followed by a rapid shaking of the face in a side-to-side motion accompanied by yelling. The resulting sound that is created sounds similar to an outboard boat motor.

This was done to dozens of random women found on the streets. I sincerely hope no girls I know would succumb to such pressure. But when a camera is put in your face and you are told, “It’s for a good cause!” it doesn’t make things easier. These degenerates donated about $7000 to Breast Cancer research which, for the nation’s collective conscience I am thankful for, was returned after the backlash received. Simple Pickup, naturally, made a rebuttal video in which they said that a “small minority of haters”, thanks to their “personal problems”, “literally just lost $7000”. Not the most intellectual argument supporting their cause, but it will have to do.
            Guest columnist for cleveland.com Mariah Wilson, whose mother had Breast Cancer, summed it up this way:

The removal of breasts is no longer a woman's burden to bear, but a man's loss. Grieving has turned into a grievance of a loss of sexual pleasure, not a loss of identity for a woman.

            To reiterate, I am not against Breast Cancer research or awareness. Contrarily, I believe it is important. What I am against is the marginalizing of a serious disease by people who care nothing about the victims and all about their pleasure. Anyone who claims to care about Breast Cancer victims should feel the same. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"I have the right not to see dead babies."

            Do we?
            Should there be some ordinance, or at least a respect, that prevents us from being subjected to such pictures? Do we have the right not to be confronted with hot-button issues?
            The right to not have to see graphic images, found in the same article of the Constitution as the right to privacy and separation of church and state, is one treasured by a number of individuals. It is a good thing we can forfeit this right when convenient, or else it would be difficult for these individuals to partake of R-rated movies and M-rated video games.
            Why is this right tied so closely to the right to privacy and the separation of church of state? Besides the first two being nonexistent as the third is, figments of creative legislation from the bench, they are also used to justify the same thing.
            The right to privacy makes it legal for a couple to choose to use abortifacient birth control; it also gives a mother the sole control over the life or death of her unborn child. The separation of church and state is justification to pro-choice proponents who believe, as backed up by Secular Pro-Life, Pro-Life Humanists, and other non-religious pro-life groups, that abortion is opposed solely on religious grounds; hence abortion must not be abated or halted because Christians happen to be against it.
            In a similar way, the right not to be confronted with photos of abortion’s aftermath are opposed; the first amendment should and must be compromised for our personal comfort.
            During World War II, there were doubtless German citizens who were made aware of the atrocities in concentration camps, and said, “I don’t want to see that. It doesn’t directly affect me, and I shouldn’t have my day interrupted by such problems.”
            Doubtless during the 1960s, there were people who saw the police brutality on blacks broadcasted on the news, and thought they shouldn’t have to see it.
            The citizens in Turkey probably said the same thing when confronted with the Armenian Genocide.
            When we turn on the TV and see starving children or abused animals, do we say, “I have a right not to see that”? Probably some do. But many understand the purpose- until we see the problem, until faces are put to the numbers, we don’t fully understand the suffering and the need for it to stop.
            Hence the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Hence the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. Hence the Tsitsernakaberd memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, and the like museums being built in national capitals across the world. In these museums, we find photos of the atrocities that happened. So we better understand them. So we don’t forget them. So they won’t happen.
            This is why Martin Luther King, Jr. made sure brutal attacks on black people made it to television, newspapers, and magazines. He stated, "America will never reject racism until America sees racism." His niece, Alveda King, coined the quote by saying, "America will never reject abortion until America sees abortion."
            We can charade all we want and say that presenting facts is enough. Facts are vital, but facts will not make you stop like a startling picture will. We can hear all the facts we want, but until we see what they mean, what the result is, they may never sink in. Or at least not move us to act. And that goes for anything.
            Those who say, “I shouldn’t have to have my day interrupted with pictures of dead babies”, are often the epitome of hypocrisy. Those who are pro-choice and say this, tell us, “Yeah it looks like a baby, but I think it should be allowed. I just don’t want to see it.”
            Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see graphic images either. Some are unnecessary. But some are most necessary. The very fact that we turn away from it is our God-given consciences telling us there is something wrong with it.
            But instead of saying, “There is something wrong with that, and I’m going to do something about it,” we say, “There is something wrong with you showing me that, and I’m going to do something about it.” We lash out at the messenger rather than receive the message. We are angry about being confronted with abortion rather than being angry with abortion itself.
            What is the problem? If a fetus is an inferior being, or not alive at all, as pro-choice advocates claim, why is there something wrong with seeing the images? We’re just showing you a clump of dead cells. A surgical procedure.
            But something inside says that is wrong, says we don’t want to see that. But the action itself will attempt to be justified.
            Dare I say that, when a genocide is happening, we do not have the right to go about our daily lives as if nothing is happening? I dare to say it.
            There were three groups of German citizens during the Holocaust. There were those who knew what was going on and refused to do anything. There were those who were not informed, through choice or not. And there were those who were aware of the horrors and did what they could to stop it, because it was wrong and they knew it. The Resistance.
            When the Resistance tries to warn you that there are atrocities, you have the right to turn away, remaining willfully ignorant of what is going on. You can even become outraged with them. God will judge all our actions in the end.
            But don’t ruin it for those who will have the character to stand up and stand out. There are many, and they are many in disregard of what you choose to believe, whose eyes will be opened for the first time to such evil. They will look, they will reason, and they will choose to believe it is wrong. At least their hearts will be pricked. Some will even ask what they can do to prevent it. Because our consciences tell us that that dismembered fetus on the board isn’t just tissue. It is as human as us.
            Just like the Armenians. Just like the Jews. Just like the blacks.

            Some of us don’t want to be ignorant.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Life Saved

            Just when you despair, God comes through again.
            Yesterday was the latest outreach I’ve done with Created Equal. It’s always hardest to do it on my own campus with people I know. I still have people that won’t talk to me from seeing me at the spring outreach.
            I am not naturally outgoing; I’ve forced myself over time to be. Add that to speaking about a hot-button issue using graphic images, and it’s a pressure cooker.
            I enjoy (perhaps based on the nature of the work “enjoy” is not the most appropriate word) doing outreaches with this organization, but every time I go out I have to build up confidence to share my beliefs with others. It’s just that more difficult when I’m constantly seeing people I know. That’s not to say these feelings are right, but that’s the reality of it.
            I was getting dirty looks before I even made it to outreach simply because I was wearing the shirt. As I stood around the display, people I knew shook their heads at me, or gave a disappointed look and went on. A few shared their disdain and ran off before I could say anything. A few others actually talked.
            I had friends who are admittedly pro-choice share their disgust with the images of victims. Why if abortion is permissible are the pictures of “murdered children” so grotesque shall be a question I’ll likely never have answered.
            I can accept it, but it’s unfortunate that people are intolerant enough to ignore you because you aren’t as “tolerant” as them.
            I’m not trying to gain your pity, just trying to show that even the monster “abortion people” are human too. Anyway, it’s about to get good.
            As I went back to a slightly more normal activity, eating, I thought about this situation. I honestly didn’t want any human contact because I had lost yet more faith in humanity. It didn’t make sense (it never does, but it hit me harder). I wondered, if I was that worried about others’ thoughts about me, I’m not sure I’m cut out for pro-life work.
            This sentiment followed me back to my dorm room. I had (and still have) homework to do, but I just felt like sleeping. I turned on my tablet and went to read a couple chapters in the Bible. When I came back and looked at my tablet, I had innumerable notifications. One was a message from a friend which seemed like it had something to do with pro-life work. I saved it until last.
            It turned out that it had been sent that morning, while I was in my first class. It read:

“Joe! this girl i know posted a thing on facebook about her considering an abortion! i'm talking to her about it! you should just send her a message or something and tell her about it! you know way more about it and how to tell people why not too than i do!”

            This is like every pro-life worker’s dream. I had made sure to get up in the morning and spend time in prayer for the day, but I didn’t think this would happen. My friend included a link to her Facebook, so I went to it and thoughtfully wrote out a message to her:

“Hey! I'm a friend of [my friend], and he contacted me because he was concerned about you, because you said you were considering abortion. I work in the pro-life movement, and I've met women that have had abortions. There are very few that don't regret their abortions. It can leave a woman with guilt and sometimes physical complications. I could tell multiple stories about women who have died having an abortion. I don't stand in judgment of you at all, and I know what you're going through is difficult. But the fact that you are pregnant makes you a mother already. Abortion takes your child's life- a child who will grow up to be a young adult just like you. And it will likely leave you with emotional scars. There is a better way than abortion. If you keep your child, I can give you the information for a local pregnancy center that will provide free ultrasounds and supplies. If you choose adoption, there are many willing couples that would love to raise him or her. But I plead with you, do not choose abortion. If you have any questions or need any help, feel free to contact [my friend] or me.”

            I had no idea what to expect, what my friend had already said, or if I would ever hear back. But I just sat there in some deep prayer. I told God that I could pray for His will to be done, but His will is clearly stated that “children are an heritage from the Lord” and that He would not have them to die at the hands of an abortionist. This seems almost as if I am wagging my finger at God, but this sort of boldness in prayer is spoken of in Hebrews 4. I asked the group of Justice Riders that I’ve met through Created Equal for their prayer as well.
            I proceeded with what I needed to do, posting pictures of outreach and other various business. I believe I was messing around on an app (now explaining why I still have homework to do) when the young woman messaged me back:

“Im keeping my baby girl”

A simple sentence, but one that made the entire day worth it. We continued for a short dialogue:

Me: Awesome, I am so glad to hear that! Let me know if you need any help, there's a pregnancy center just down US 27 from NKU.
Her: ok thank you and can u tell [my friend] thank you for helping me on so many things please
Me: For sure! God bless
Her: thank you so much you and [my friend] ! just thank you
Me: Absolutely. I'm glad I was able to contact you.
Her: haha yea

            I don’t know how much affect I had on her decision. I believe my friend had more, and she may well have made the decision before I ever spoke to her. Bottom line, God deserves all the glory. He brought her to my friend, and into contact with me. He got me involved with an organization that has trained me in the pro-life position. And here it has culminated into a life saved. And He brought it in a moment of discouragement on this very subject.
            I stood up and just praised God for awhile.
            I realized again why I love doing this, despite the opposition faced. Why it is all worth it, why I’ve been doing this for the past seven months, and why I want to continue is because of things like this. Why it is so important. Why I know we’re on the winning side.

            A crisis pregnancy led to the saving of my soul, though I know I don’t deserve it. Satan throws difficulty in the way, tries to turn me from the path by showing me my past. I look to his future. Mine, by the grace of God, is better than his. I’ve seen yet one more time that God’s work on Earth is far from over, and His work with me isn’t either.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Fallacy of Self-Esteem: Where do we find our Worth?

            There’s an epidemic in the world today, and it is affecting Christendom just as much as the rest of the world.
            Self-esteem. Self-worth.
            Society touts these terms, placing great emphasis on them. Hence, the masses of sheep that make it up buy into this trash.
            What’s wrong with valuing yourself?
            There is a distinct difference between considering one’s life worth something and considering oneself perfect the way they are. The former is a correct view. The latter is a dangerous one.
            When we are told to have high self-esteem and self-worth, we are fooling ourselves into a false worldview. God gives us all life, and we have been created in His image. That gives us all value. But we must not confuse this value as to have an excuse to be prideful and unchanging.
            “This is who I am, and no one is going to change me.” How prideful and how misled! We need to look at the biblical view of humanity. It’s pretty bleak. The Bible says that we have “all gone out of the way” and “together become unprofitable”. That “there is none that doeth good”, that “there is no fear of God before their eyes”. Read Romans 3. Read Romans 1 while you’re at it.
            Isaiah says our righteousness, the very best we have to offer God, is like filthy rags. Or to be more specific as to the meaning of that word, menstrual rags. This isn’t shock treatment. This is what the Bible says about us.
            The problem with self-esteem is that we create an elevated view of ourselves. We begin to think that we are lacking nothing- that we’re just fine the way we are. But that view, however harmless is seems, runs contrary to the truth of God’s Word. We’re not “just fine”. We’re not “perfect”. We’re not even “good”. We are evil to the core, because sin is evil to the core and we have a sin nature from beginning to end.
            It’s not a popular view, because it involves people realizing they need work. Humans are naturally prideful; don’t tell us we need to change.
            When our satisfaction is based on how we view ourselves, which we are told can change (otherwise there would be no need for a self-esteem movement; the entire thing is based on changing your view of yourself), people are left in some serious trouble. Whenever someone feels sad or worthless, their “self-esteem” goes down. Their worth is based on how they are feeling at the time.
            Please don’t misunderstand me. Depression in some cases is caused by physical imbalances. It makes it difficult for those affected to come out of it. But I believe sometimes an individual chooses to be sad. Yes, there are bad things that happen to them, as they do to everyone. But instead of trying to find joy, they allow themselves to fall into the trap of “depression”, where those who don’t want to feel happy are destined to end up.
            It is comparable to ADD or ADHD. There are some people that truly have more trouble concentrating than others. But there are other kids that simply are not disciplined by their parents, and could be snapped out of it and get taken off medication if only they got a good whipping every once in a while. So do not skew what I am saying. I am not referring to chemical imbalances, but to a choice that every person faces: whether they will be joyful regardless of circumstances or be miserable because things aren’t going their way.
            True, you can always choose to feel better, but we are often taught that we can’t control how we feel. I many times feel upset when things don’t go the way I wanted, but I get back up and choose to take joy in life. But depression, like ADHD, is so emphasized in our society, not to mention its profitability to pharmaceutical companies, some see it as an option. It’s a pity party of one, trying to gain steam and bring others in.
            Depression can further slip into a selfish action called “suicide”, where an individual decides to make a permanent “solution” to their temporary problems. There are some mental disorders, prescription drugs, and brain damage that can cause people to go this far. Yet other times, it is simply seeing no other option. This is awful that a person would come to such as conclusion, but it is also misled.
            This is what we have seen once again with someone who we would think had it pretty good. I liked Robin Williams just fine. But I have trouble celebrating someone who took their own life. What message does this send to others considering suicide? "Kill yourself, and society will weep for you and you'll get all sorts of attention." It's not at all that suicide isn't sad, but it's a selfish act. No consideration to friends and family. It's similar to giving murderers a lot of attention. People crave the spotlight, and many are willing to do ANYTHING to get there.
            Which is why I have a problem with memorializing someone who commits suicide. It is why I have a problem putting an empty chair in a graduation ceremony to honor someone who chose to kill himself. I’m sure many readers are considering me quite heartless right now. But suicide has personally affected me. I had a friend in high school who chose that route. Yes, it is sad, but it is foolish. It is a shame that people find that as the only route to end their hurt, and to get people to notice along the way.
            Why selfish? He didn’t care enough about his friends, teachers, and people that cared for him to know how they would feel. He didn’t care about what he could have contributed to society. He didn’t care enough about his own mother to think that he was the closest person to her in his life. He didn’t care that it was her that would find him with his head splattered over the wall.
            I believe God creates us all with different weaknesses. For some it might be depression and self-worth. For others, perhaps alcohol, drugs, or lust. Why would He do this? Because His “strength is made perfect in weakness”. Hence why Paul chose to “glory in mine infirmities”. Because we cannot defeat this issue on our own, we are forced to lean on God or fail. God is more than capable of overcoming these problems.
            Back to the original point. Self-esteem causes problems, but there is a worse problem. The Bible is clear that we cannot save ourselves, that we are not good enough. Yet there is a popular belief, even held among many Christians, that we are good enough. There is NOTHING that makes us good enough.
            Then how do we value ourselves? Our value comes not from our actions, but from our position. Christians should know better than to promote a self-love affair. What we should promote is a Savior who loves us despite our evil and loved us enough to take all that sin upon Himself and die for us. When we accept Christ’s gift and make Him our Savior, the Bible tells us that we are made joint-heirs with Him. We are made God’s children. Even though the only thing our undeserving selves should get is Hell, we are allowed not only to be spared of that but to be seated at God’s table. If you’re looking for self-worth, that is where you find it.

            We can rely on money, but it has been seen that often the unhappiest people are the wealthiest people. We can look to others, but they shift like the sands of the desert. We can look inside ourselves, but all we’ll find is how worthless we are alone. The way to gain that worth, even that immortality, that humans crave, is to run to the God who considers us worthy. Society's view will lead you to vacillation and destruction. God's view is the key to living a life of purpose.