Thursday, December 29, 2016

Should Christians Use Tax Write-Offs?

People have the option of writing donations to nonprofits off their taxes. To qualify for write-offs in April, donations must be made by December 31. With this deadline approaching, it is appropriate to address the controversial topic of Christians using tax write-offs. The position I will defend in this post is that tax write-offs not only can ethically be used, but should be used. This is not a biblically-based argument, but rather one of sagaciousness.

There are many with the conviction that they should not write off donations to Christian organizations, especially tithes to churches, because this creates a selfish incentive to giving. Of course, if the motivation to tithe and donate is not tax write-offs, then it really doesn’t matter, anyway. It is completely possible to have pure motivations for giving while also taking advantage of laws that allow that amount to not be taxed.

If individuals are worried that tax write-offs will make their sacrifice less of a sacrifice, there is a simple solution. Tithe on the benefits, or give the amount saved to charities and churches as well.

The government has given us the ability to increase the funds to churches and Christian nonprofits without costing us anything extra. This isn’t avoiding sacrifice—it’s common sense.

I am not against using savings from tax write-offs for worthy things like paying bills or decreasing debts. With this I have no problem. But for those that do have the conviction that giving should be sacrifice, sagaciousness dictates that the write-offs still be used.

Let’s use a hypothetical couple to see what I mean. Let’s say that there is a couple with a combined annual income of $90,000. They tithe $9000, give another $9000 to the church for missions and other special projects, and donate $5000 to other Christian nonprofits.

$90,000 – $23,000 = $67,000

So now, instead of paying taxes on $90,000, this couple is paying taxes on only $67,000. So, let’s calculate their federal income taxes (using the estimated 2016 income tax brackets from the Tax Foundation):

The first bracket is 10% on the first $18,550 made.

$18,550 * .1 = $1855

The next bracket is 15% after the $18,550 up to $75,300, but since the taxed income is $67,000, it is up to $67,000:

$67,000 – $18,550 = $48,450 * .15 = $7267.50

So, the couple, using write-offs, pays $9122.50 in federal income tax.

Now, let’s say the couple decides not to take the tax write-offs:

They still pay the $1855:

$18,550 * .1 = $1855

Now, instead of the second bracket going up to $67,000, it goes up to the full $75,300:

$75,300 – $18,550 = $56,750 * .15 = $8512.50

Then, the couple actually moves up into the next bracket ($75,300 to $151,900) for the remainder of their income, which is taxed at 25%:

$90,000 – $75,300 = $14,700 * .25 = $3675

So, without the write-offs, the couple pays $14,042.50 in federal income tax.

This hypothetical couple can save $4920 simply by writing off their $23,000 in donations to nonprofits.

Now, as mentioned before, some people may not be comfortable with using tithes and donations to save money on their taxes. But, may I submit, that the savings from tax write-offs be given to nonprofits as well?

The hypothetical couple is essentially given $4920 from the federal government for giving to nonprofits. If they want to continue that sacrifice, they can donate that $4920 to their church or to a Christian nonprofit as well. That’s free money they received because of what they’ve already given. It especially helps that they avoid the 25% bracket.

It simply doesn’t make sense to leave that money on the table when it can be used for good. All you do is transfer the money from the federal government to Christian nonprofits. That’s an obvious deal to take. For the hypothetical couple, that’s almost $5000 more in the hands of their church or other nonprofits, with no extra expense.

So, if you want to truly sacrifice, I commend you. Just take advantage of federal laws and give that extra money to churches and Christian organizations.

Crunch the numbers yourself, and see how much more money you can give.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hannibal Lecter: Good Deeds Don't Make People Good

I’ve recently gotten into the “psychological horror/thriller” movie genre, for reasons unbeknownst to me. I enjoy films that keep one on the edge of his seat with intricate plots and intense scenes, not just through gore upon gore.

Hannibal Lecter
I was brought to the brilliant series surrounding “Hannibal Lecter”, a cannibalistic serial killer, through a bridge. Yes, you read that right. I was traveling to West Virginia to watch NKU’s women’s soccer team in my university’s first ever Division I tournament game. On my Google account, I keep interesting landmarks and abandoned places marked, so in case I’m ever headed a certain direction, I can visit them. Just five minutes off the highway was the Bellaire Toll Bridge, which spans the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia. It has been abandoned 25 years, but is still a site. It’s massive, rusting, and has been sentenced to death by the Coast Guard, who really is powerless to force its demolition, since it is privately owned.

The bridge is shown in the film as the iconic structure of its namesake—Bellaire, Ohio—and Bellaire is the setting of the climax of Silence of the Lambs, which was filmed shortly before the bridge was closed. And so it was that I decided to check out the series.

Though Silence of the Lambs is the second book in Tom Harris’s novel series, it was the first movie. Later, Red Dragon (the first book), Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising were brought to the screen. As I mentioned before, the movies are brilliant and live up to their critical acclaim. Silence of the Lambs swept the Academy Awards.

I will warn you that this post does contain spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the first three movies (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal) but plan to do so (and you should), watch them first before reading this. There are also brief, graphic descriptions of some of Lector’s crimes, as well as one photo.
The Bellaire Toll Bridge in what the movie calls "Belvedere"

The ending of Hannibal legitimately moved me. It was not at all an emotion I expected to feel at the end of a psychological horror movie. Clarice Starling, an FBI Special Agent whose first assignment—while still in the Academy, no less—was to pick Lecter’s brain to help solve the “Buffalo Bill” case in Silence of the Lambs, has now been pursuing Lecter for much of the movie. In Silence of the Lambs, Lecter escapes from prison and becomes dormant in Italy. After a number of years, he becomes active again after his only surviving victim gets word of his whereabouts, offering the victim the chance to kill Lecter. This vengeance has been the main focus of the victim ever since he was left deformed and paralyzed. With Lecter killing once again, and the scent of a letter written by him helping to track him down, Starling turns her focus toward him.

Throughout the movie, Starling’s career is in jeopardy because of a botched drug sting that she tried to call off, but the local police refused to listen. Heat is placed on her by a superior, Paul Krendler, who had propositioned her years ago, and still desired an adulterous relationship. Starling’s refusal is costing her position as her name is dragged through the mud.

For some reason, Lecter had taken a liking to Starling; it was the only reason he talked to her in the first place. Normally, he was uncooperative with everyone. Even though Starling is suspended, she traces the kidnapped Lecter to the property of his victim, who is planning to feed him to vicious boars. Starling, seeking proper justice, puts a stop to it, but is shot in the process. She had cut Lecter loose from his restraints, and he carries her away to Krendler’s lake house. There, he removes the bullet and stitches the wound, slowly nursing her back to health.

Lecter had mentioned in a phone call with Starling that he might harm the people who are trying to harm her. When Krendler arrives for a weekend in his lake house, he is greeted by Lecter, who uses chloroform to incapacitate him. Starling wakes up a little sooner than Lecter anticipated, and she comes downstairs to find Krendler seated at the dining table and Lecter cooking. Krendler is drugged to the point that he is unaware of the danger he is in and cannot feel any pain.

Lecter removes Krendler’s hat, revealing a perforation at the top of his head. Lecter then cuts through this and removes the top of Krendler’s head, revealing Krendler’s brain. Starling begins to weep; though weak, she is aware of what is happening. Lecter begins to talk to Starling about the human brain (he was a well-known psychologist) and proceeds to cut a piece from Krendler’s, which he then cooks in the skillet and feeds to Krendler. Starling gags and continues to weep. Despite Krendler’s wrongdoing towards her, she attempts multiple times to save him. This speaks volumes about Starling, who is risking her life to save a scumbag superior from a serial killer, though she is too weak to be the least bit effective against Lecter. Finally, Lecter pushes her against the fridge, opens the freezer, traps Starling’s hair in the door, and closes it and breaks the handle. He lightly threatens her, knowing the he has a few minutes before he has to make a getaway, as Starling had called the police before she walked downstairs.

Starling, though, is so dedicated to ridding the world of Lecter’s presence that she handcuffs herself to him. For the first time in any movie, Lecter starts to worry. Starling refuses to unlock the handcuffs, which leads Lecter to grab a knife from the counter.

“Above or below the wrist?” he asks.

Starling says nothing.

“This is really going to hurt, you know.”

Lecter swings the knife, and we see Starling look away and scream.

In the next scene, Lecter is making a getaway in a boat as Starling runs down the wooded hill toward the lake in pursuit. The police come around to the back of the property, where they yell at Starling to stop and identify herself.

Starling identifies herself as she raises her arms, revealing two perfectly-healthy hands attached to her arms.

The next scene is Lecter on a plane, where he is trying to eat a meal with one hand. His other arm is in a sling.

The astonishing reality that Lecter cut off his own hand to free himself rather than Starling’s, who had been the one to handcuff him, is brought into its full perspective by examining just who Lecter is.
We really don’t get a great view of Lecter’s grisly deeds in Red Dragon, except at the beginning. The opening scene is Lecter watching an orchestral performance. A number of the members of the orchestra come to Lecter’s home afterwards for dinner. They express their grief that one of their members could not be there, as he was missing.

One guest asks, “What is this divine-looking amuse bouche?”

“If I tell you, I’m afraid you won’t even try it,” he replied.

Lecter had murdered the man and fed him to his fellow orchestra members.

Later, an FBI agent who had been working with Lecter to catch a serial killer (that turned out to be Lecter himself) stops by. He was beginning to suspect Lecter, and Lecter catches onto this. Lecter tries to kill him, but is also wounded in the process. Lecter is captured and imprisoned. Years later, as this agent works to capture the “Red Dragon”, Lecter sends the killer the agent’s address, where the agent and his family are nearly killed.

More is learned about Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, but not much of this is seen. Lecter escapes from prison after he is moved to another state; this was part of his deal with a senator to help the FBI catch the senator’s daughter, who was being held by “Buffalo Bill”. Naturally, Lecter lies to them. The police force in Tennessee doesn’t take Lecter seriously enough. He had a key hidden in his mouth, which he uses to uncuff himself and handcuff one of the two officers watching him while they feed him. He proceeds to bite off the other officer’s tongue and bludgeon him to death, spraying the cage he was being held in with blood. This officer is gutted by Lecter and hung up on the cage, which is the first thing seen by all the other officers when they come up to investigate. To escape, Lecter used his mind, not force. He killed the other officer and dumped him in the elevator shaft, but not before cutting off his face and taking his uniform. Lecter put on the uniform and the officer’s face, and posed as him lying injured on the ground. When he was placed in an ambulance, he killed the doctor and driver and got away.

Lecter receives a lot of attention in Hannibal. This is where some of his grisly crimes are displayed. Starling watches security footage of his attack on a nurse, where he bit off her tongue and beat her. This got him moved to maximum security. She pulls up pictures of some of his victims. One was pinned to a wall with three stakes. While in Italy, he lacerates a man’s stomach before hanging him from a building, and his entrails spill onto the street. A man working for his only surviving victim attempts to find Lecter, and Lecter cuts his throat, nearly decapitating him.

Throughout these movies, even though Lecter at times is an almost likeable character, the viewer gets a good idea of how evil a person he is. By the time Hannibal ends, his murder count is almost at 20.
That makes the ending of Hannibal that much more remarkable. All these murders, and yet he shows great care for Clarice Starling. He saves her life. He launches a vendetta against the man that was wronging her. And, even when she tries to kill him multiple times and prevents his escape, he chooses to cut off his own hand rather than harm her. Such incredible acts of, well, love from a brutal serial killer.

I’m not someone that goes looking for theological concepts in secular media, but occasionally I notice some. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That might not be too hard for even non-Christians to believe. Few are the people that will not admit that, at some point, they have done something wrong, even if they don’t agree on everything that is wrong. But the Bible doesn’t stop at telling us that people do wrong. It gives us the very nature of mankind. It isn’t good:

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” –Romans 3:9-12

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” –Romans 3:19

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come…” –Romans 5:12-14

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” –Psalm 51:5
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” –Jeremiah 17:9

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” –Isaiah 64:6-7

It’s not just that we do wrong, it’s that we are naturally wrongdoers. We don’t just sin, we are naturally sinners. Our bad deeds are caused by our bad nature.
Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs

This is where a fundamental line is drawn between religions, or between the religious and nonreligious. Many want to believe that people are naturally good, and sometimes do bad things. Some religions teach this. But true Christianity teaches exactly the opposite. People are naturally evil, and they sometimes do good things. Hannibal Lecter maimed himself to avoid harming Clarice Starling, but that didn’t change his nature, nor did it remove his guilt.

The worldview Christians must take is that the world is naturally a bad place. Admittedly, this will lead to skepticism, which I consider necessary to wise and safe living. But it does not have to lead to cynicism. I’ll explain why shortly.

In the Old Testament law, it is repeated many times that touching something unclean made a clean person unclean, and they had to purify themselves. Never can someone clean touch something unclean and make that thing clean. Things default to unclean and impure. That’s the world we live in. That is what the curse of sin, caused by Adam and Eve and passed down to every other human who ever lived (save Jesus Christ), has done.

Looking at a good deed and seeing a Hannibal Lecter is not a bad thing. Recognizing this is critical. The first part of the gospel, and a very overlooked part of the gospel, is the recognition by man that man’s nature is evil. No amount of touching acts changes that we are people guilty of very serious and bad deeds. Moving displays of compassion do not make up for our bad actions. Instead, our bad actions taint our good deeds, just like how uncleanness transferred to cleanness and made it, too, unclean.

This sounds unnecessarily harsh because we have been conditioned to see the good in people. And people do a lot of good things. I do not take away from Hannibal Lecter what he did to help Clarice Starling. It was a beautiful display that truly, deeply moved me, like few movies ever have. We can look all around us and see such actions in real life.

At the same time, however, Hannibal Lecter was a barbaric, psychotic serial killer. It would be dangerous to overlook that. And it is dangerous to overlook our own sin natures.

True justice would have Hannibal Lecter executed for his crimes. God, who is a righteous judge, should not be expected to overlook our sin because we also do good things. Justice demands that evil is punished, and that condemns us all. This realization is the fertile ground in which the gospel takes root:

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” –Ephesians 5:8-14

The Bible commands Christians to expose sin. This essentially means that we are to take the evil that is done in darkness and drag it out into the light, revealing it for what it really is. The result of exposing sin to the light is that the heart in which it dwelt becomes light. Christ gives light only when an individual realizes that what they are doing is dark. In order for the gospel to be effective, we must expose people’s sin. This, as the Bible says, is to be done in a gentle and loving manner, but it must be done.

If someone doesn’t think they are doing wrong, or thinks that their wrongdoing is just a break in their positive behavioral pattern, they won’t realize their need for the gospel. Why do they need saving? They’re adequate on their own.

But the Bible says otherwise. No one is adequate except for Jesus Christ. And it is only through Him that we can be granted the adequacy we do not deserve.

That’s why, even in having the correct view of mankind, we don’t have to become cynical. There is hope. In every passage I quoted earlier, I edited them to show only the sin nature of man. But in every passage, there is also hope:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” –Romans 3:21-26

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” –Romans 5:15-21

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” –Psalm 51:7-10

“Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.” –Jeremiah 17:14

“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.” –Isaiah 64:8-9

When it comes to our sin natures, there is always another side. Jesus came to Earth and lived without sin, but died to take the punishment for our sin, and now we don’t have to face God’s justice for our sin.

Yes, just like Hannibal Lecter, our good deeds to not make up for our natural evil. The gospel starts with our recognition that we need it.

Jesus, though, took the death sentence for our sin. When sin is brought to the light, healing and restoration can begin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves: Trump Will Not Help The Pro-Life Movement

There is a delusion that has swept across Christendom in recent months.

The nomination of Donald Trump by the Republican Party is the epitome of the phrase, “Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” If we vote for Trump, we compromise on numerous principles. If we don’t, Hillary Clinton is the only other realistic alternative.

Some pro-life Christians (as if there is another kind) are up in arms against those that refuse to vote for a despicable human being because he “isn’t her”. The case they make is that the singular reason as to why we should abandon our principles and vote for Donald Trump is because he will help the pro-life movement with his appointments to the Supreme Court.

It’s laughable.

First of all, what kind of position do we find ourselves in when we are voting only based on Supreme Court appointments? The Supreme Court should be an afterthought in our selection of a president. But the SCOTUS has been out of control for decades. It’s why abortion is federally legal in the first place. This entity that was created to check the other branches and be balanced by the other branches is now creating laws based on no substantial precedent in the Constitution it is supposed to uphold. Individuals can be fined if they don’t purchase health insurance and homosexuals can marry, and innocent humans can be ripped apart as long as they aren’t too old. There is already a serious problem that will not be solved by a wild-card candidate.

Accepting the importance of the Supreme Court, it’s still a desperate leap to think that Donald Trump will deliver.

Trump and his good friends, the Clintons
“We could lose the Court for decades.”

Let’s be real. The Court will not be lost when Hillary Clinton is elected president. The Court was lost on July 18 when Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. Relying on him to save the day is a desperate grasp at hope that is simply not there.

If it sounds like I’m being negative, you’re right.

There is nothing on Donald Trump’s shady record that is any indication that he will appoint pro-life justices.

“But he said he would.” Yes, and Hillary Clinton said she supports the second amendment. Both are pathological liars that will say anything to have power.

Let’s examine what Donald Trump has said about abortion and the abortion industry.

Trump was a frim abortion supporter until, as far as we know, 2011. He changed his mind and became “pro-life” because of stories from friends about the children they decided not to abort. I value these kinds of stories, but in and of themselves they aren’t enough. This is weak reasoning as to why someone is against abortion. What if those children turned out to be monsters? Anyone who has studied pro-life apologetics knows this is a functionalist view. If one’s support of abortion changes because of how people at risk of abortion turn out, then one is rooting the value of people in what they do rather than their inherent worth as human beings. To reiterate, these stories are important and are evidence to the pro-life case, but these alone do not supply a proper pro-life view. Human life is valuable for being human life. Period.

This past January, Trump muddied the waters of his pro-life stance by stating that he believed abortion should be banned at some point during pregnancy except for the cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. (Life of the mother cases are extremely rare anymore due to modern medical technology.)

This should send up immediate red flags for pro-life individuals. No one denies the awful circumstances of rape and incest, or any other reasons for having an abortion. But circumstances do not change our value. A fetus at eight weeks’ gestation who was conceived in rape is equally as innocent and deserving of life as a fetus at eight weeks’ gestation who was conceived purposefully. The sins of a father should not forfeit the rights of the child.

This is not something I have to tell Christians. They know this. Yet somehow, some of them are voting for Donald Trump.

In February, when Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio finally opened fire on Trump in a legendary last stand, both went after him for his compliments towards Planned Parenthood. To Trump’s credit, he stood his ground in praise of the organization, saying, “…But millions and millions of women—cervical cancer, breast cancer—are helped by Planned Parenthood.” He did change his mind and said that they should be defunded, yet stuck to the myth that they do breast cancer screenings—after Cecile Richards had to state under oath that they do not. He is recklessly uninformed on this issue. But we are to trust him with it?
What if she was conceived in rape? Pro-life Trump supporters
are justifying her death by voting for someone who justifies
her death.

There have been several times that Trump has reiterated his “caveat” approach to abortion, such as this statement LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AGO:

“The primary responsibility of the federal government is to protect the rights of its citizens. Life is the most fundamental right. The federal government should not diminish this right by denying its’ protection. I am opposed to abortion except for rape, incest and life of the mother. I oppose the use of government funds to pay for abortions.”

Life is a fundamental right—unless there are tough circumstances surrounding a pregnancy. With Trump, there always seems to be a “but”, and not just the ones he’s groped without permission.

Or there was the interview with Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin that revealed even more:

Trump: I'm pro-life, but with the caveats. It's life of the mother, incest, and rape.

Halperin: Say a woman is pregnant, and it's not in any of those exception categories and she chooses to have an abortion.
She is at eight weeks gestation. Is she young enough to legally
kill, Mr. Trump? What say you, pro-life Trump supporters?

Trump: It depends when.

Halperin: Let's say, early in her pregnancy.

Trump: Mark, it's very simple. Pro-life.

Not only does Trump refuse to budge on what is already a publicly pro-choice stance, he then gives up more ground by stating an ambiguous, “It depends when,” implying to any person—save those who have not already committed to him out of a delusional hope—that he does support abortion in other circumstances at least some of the time. Then, he digs a deeper hole by refusing to even answer the question about abortion early in a pregnancy.

This sounds like a man who is trying to win over Christian voters by acting like something he’s not. And by God if it isn’t working!

We’re too busy making excuses for his behavior and beliefs to bother to realize he isn’t going to do a blessed thing to help the pro-life movement. Or are we just clinging to a hope that isn’t there?

Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a registered Democrat, said “women have to be able to choose” abortion, “because they're the...ones that are going to decide to bring up that child or not.”

What’s the significance of Flynn’s statement? Trump was considering him as his running mate.

Even in the final debate, Trump danced around a simple and pointed question posed by moderator Chris Wallace: Do you want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade?
Another institution I lost my remaining respect for

“If that would happen because I am pro-life, and I will be appointing pro-life judges, I would think that that will go back to the individual states.”

The fact that Trump has to reiterate “I am pro-life” is telling.

Dissatisfied with this lack of response, Wallace asked again.

“If we put another two or perhaps three justices on that’s really what’s going to be—that will happen. It’ll happen automatically in my opinion because I am putting pro-life justices on the court,” Trump replied.

As The New York Times’ Anna North said:

“Donald Trump is generally only too willing to opine on topics about which he knows nothing. But there’s one topic on which he is uncharacteristically muckle-mouthed: abortion.”

Does it not alarm us that a man who never fails to offer his opinion, regardless of how half-baked it is, tip-toes around abortion? Even the question about the very reason we are supposed to throw out our convictions to vote for Trump—the future of the Supreme Court—goes unanswered!

It is completely ridiculous to vote for Trump with the expectation that he will deliver quality Supreme Court appointments. The Bible says in Matthew 7, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” How quickly we abandon such lessons to grope for a savior in the presidential election.

A vote for Donald Trump does not help the pro-life movement in the slightest. I’m not going to sugar-coat this: either way, we will have new pro-abortion Supreme Court justices.

Honestly, I’m disgusted by the number of Christians who have believed a lie—rather, created the lie—and are willing to vote for a pro-choice candidate. People and organizations are losing their credibility as followers of Christ. You all tell me that voting for Hillary Clinton is voting for legalized abortion. The facts are in, people: Donald Trump supports abortion. YOU are voting for legalized abortion by voting for Trump. You can't suddenly change the rules of the game to suit you.

The fact that we are so easily ready to abandon our convictions in the name of stopping Hillary Clinton means that she has already won. She doesn't have to take away our rights to practice our beliefs. We're already sacrificing them. This is exactly what she wants, and she hasn't had to do any of the work.

The presidency is lost. The Supreme Court is lost. But our mission to change minds about abortion and evangelize our culture does not have to be. Yet those, too, are being lost in a futile attempt to gain the first two. Who will take a Christian seriously who votes for a man such as Donald Trump? Who will take the pro-life movement seriously when so many choose to vote for a pro-choice presidential candidate?

I won’t, and I fall into both categories. Imagine how it all looks to those on the outside.

If we’re damned already, we might as well stick to our principles. They’re all we have left.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sick of the Two-Party System? Stop Voting for It.

I hear it pretty regularly. There are problems with a “two-party system”. Not enough choices. Not matched up closely enough with individual ideals.

I get it. And I largely agree. Obviously, look no further than the current presidential election to see that a two-party system has major flaws.

But do you know who is to blame? You.

That’s right, you. There is some sort of mania that American society suffers from that makes them think the two-party system is set in stone. I hate to break it to you, but there is nothing that is holding us back from having more political parties. Sure, there are the local laws about having the same number of Republicans and Democrats on a committee or in a polling place, but it’s not like those are huge barriers. No, the biggest barrier to having more competitive political parties is us.

Jill Stein (left) of the Green Party and Gary Johnson (right) of
the Libertarian Party
See, the Constitution says nothing at all about political parties, much less how many there have to be. James Madison, in Federalist #10, said that political parties are virtually unavoidable due to the differing beliefs of people. He and the other Federalists thought that such factions were dangerous, and therefore believed that the best way to avoid abuse of power and corruption was to have many political parties. That way, each one would be too weak to have the ability to crush the other parties.

And that’s exactly what we haven’t done.

For a while, there were sometimes three or four major parties. But after the Whigs fell apart, it’s basically been Democrats and Republicans. And it’s been that way for so long that citizens think those are the only choices, and throw around all the balderdash that a third-party vote is a vote for the “other guy”. Let’s do some quick math:

Let’s say I vote for Donald Trump. This is what that looks like in terms of net votes:

Donald Trump – 1   Hillary Clinton – 0

Now let’s say I vote for Clinton (and am subsequently institutionalized):

Donald Trump – 0   Hillary Clinton – 1

So far, the vote for one candidate means that there is a vote for that candidate, and not a vote for the other candidate. So far, so good. But now let’s say I vote for Evan McMullin, an independent that is very competitive in his home state of Utah:

Donald Trump – 0   Hillary Clinton – 0   Evan McMullin – 1

So what I’m told is that a vote for McMullin is a vote for Clinton. But it seems like that the “1” is by McMullin’s name, not Clinton’s. It seems like I’ve been lied to. See, with the second one, I give Hillary Clinton a net of one vote over Trump. In the third, there is no net vote of Clinton over Trump because I didn’t vote for Clinton.

So enough of the awful math skills, please.

People have been so conditioned to an either/or mentality that they can’t bear the thought of voting for anyone else. Now, I sympathize with those that abhor Donald Trump but think that voting for him is the best we can do. I’ve debated it. In 2012, I was six months too young to vote, but I would have voted for Mitt Romney. I’m not a big fan of his, but he was good enough in comparison to Barack Obama that I would have decided to vote for him anyway.

I’ve never been 100% against Trump. I largely agree with him on immigration as well as other issues, and I do believe he is a better option than Clinton.

But good enough? I can’t say that. There are too many things wrong even with Trump. When I see two people unfit for a position, my tendency is not to try and choose the least worst. It’s to look elsewhere.

So if I’m dissatisfied with both the Republican and Democratic candidates, should I feel obligated to vote for one of them anyway? I’d say no.
Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party

I realize the fact that even Gary Johnson would be a longshot to win the presidential race, and he would have to win at least one state. Jill Stein is even lower, and Darrell Castle lower still. So yes, I understand that the president in 2017 will almost certainly be Trump or Clinton. But that is beside the point.

The point is that I refuse to justify the Republican Party’s bad judgment by voting for its candidate. I’m not going to vote for a ticket simply because it is the Party’s nominee. I don’t care if I am a registered Republican. If the Trump Train is chugging full speed over a cliff, I’m jumping off and taking my chances.

A vote for a third-party candidate voices our dissatisfaction with the two candidates we have been handed. It sends a message. That’s why I am encouraging dissatisfied voters to still vote rather than refuse to vote. A large number of votes towards smaller parties will tell Republicans and Democrats that we won’t cave to their terrible choices.

And maybe, just maybe, in the future there will continue to be more people that support third parties that align with their ideals. And maybe, just maybe, other parties will begin to compete with the big two.

But that will never happen unless we take the first step of voting for people that have “no chance”. Competitive parties aren’t developed overnight.
Evan McCullin and vice-presidential nominee Mindy Finn

So my encouragement to those of you that are dissatisfied with the options before you—as I know many of you are—is to find a candidate that actually aligns with your beliefs and would not make a mockery of the office, and vote for him or her. Then sit back and watch the major parties squirm. Your vote is very important, not a “throw-away”. Don’t be bullied by people who agreed with you three months ago but now consider you illogical. Stand your ground despite those caving around you.

If I stick to my principles, I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump, and certainly not Clinton. I’ve been asked how as a Christian I cannot vote for Trump to stop Clinton. I would counter: how can someone as a Christian compromise on so many principles in the name of preventing someone else from winning the election? I answer to God for how I vote, and one day I would have to explain to Him why I voted for a pro-choice Planned Parenthood admirer that boasts about extramarital affairs and sexual assaults while childishly hiding behind supporters to defend his degrading comments about women and Twitter arguments with gold-star parents. I don’t think “well he’s better than her” will cut it on that day. I’d rather fight a “losing battle” than choose an evil side. If you can stomach voting for Trump, I won’t think less of you, but don’t go criticizing Christians that can’t. We are losing our credibility by defending indefensible things and excusing the behavior of a man simply because we’ve made up our minds that we have to vote for him because he’s not someone else.

There are other options.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

If I have a daughter, I want to raise her to be empowered, not a Feminist.

I heard a sad cliché from a now former friend of mine a while back: “I hope you never have a daughter with what you believe about women.” The same had told me before how much of a gentleman I am. What caused the ugly shift? What crime did I commit? Claiming the wage gap myth is in fact a myth.

This is not even fun to refute anymore. When we compare all salaries of women and men, yes, there is a wage gap. But more men are in higher-paying careers than women, which means there is either more education/training involved or more physical risk involved. Compare within the same career, and factor in experience which women lose if they take maternity leave or leave their job (as they sometimes do; there is nothing wrong with that, but it explains the discrepancy), and the wage gap disappears. Simple. Why would any profit-seeking business hire a man when a woman can do the same work for $.77 on the dollar, or $.66, or whatever, depending on who’s claiming it? Businesses would hire women for cheaper labor and avoid men unless necessary. Economics. I have girls agreeing with me on this subject and making light of it. But if a woman wants to feel oppressed, she will. And if a man wants to bow to her and kiss up, he’ll believe it.

This isn’t just about the wage gap myth. This is the culture kids are being brought up in. Apparently, if I have a daughter, I’ll oppress her. I don’t know because I don’t have kids. But I know if I ever do have a daughter, I want to raise her to be empowered, not to act like a victim. Fighting oppression is great, as long as it’s there.

But here’s the deal: women in America aren’t oppressed anymore. There is no wage gap. I would be doing my daughter a disservice to teach her that she is treated unfairly and allow her to devote some of her life to fighting a nonexistent enemy. I would not be a good father if I taught her that men are the problem and prevent women from reaching their potential. She would grow up resenting me and her brothers and any other male in her life.

It would be bad parenting to tell my daughter she can go wherever she wants and that she should do it unarmed in the name of equality, knowing that she is being put at risk. It is wrong not to teach her how to defend herself and to avoid situations that make her an easy target because it should be a man’s job to control himself. We can teach men not to rape and teach women how to avoid the ones that don't listen; they aren’t mutually exclusive.

It is foolish to tell my daughter that modesty is of no importance.

It is unfair to teach her that every man in her life wants to rape her because “it’s the culture”. I once contradicted a feminist who responded to a tweet of mine and was subsequently called a rapist.

Imagine how rude my daughter would be as she scolds a man for holding the door for her because she is capable of opening it herself.

How evil it would be to teach her that her ability to bring life into the world is oppressive and the best way to gain equality is to pay someone to dismember her child?

What a double-standard to say that women are equal but to say that she needs affirmative action or abortion to be equal. I believe women are equal by their very nature of being human; they don’t need anything to make them so.

How dare she claim that a man should have no say in his child’s future but should have to pay child support if she chooses not to kill her child.

See, I don’t think chivalry or research is the problem. Feminism is. Teaching our daughters to be victims is not empowerment. It is oppression. Lying to her will only make her delusional, not strong. If I have a daughter, I want her to be empowered by knowing that she is equal and teaching her to live in peace with men. Victimization is empowerment only to those who have sipped from the cup of feminist ideology. Differing roles in society do not make individuals unequal. Accurate information will empower my daughter -- not belief in lies.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"God Hates Fags", and other Tall Tales

Every once in a while, traveling preachers make their way to NKU.

I’m not inherently against street preaching; in fact, I’ve seen it have effects in places. Society seems to be paying less and less attention to it, but it is still a relevant thing.

I’ve seen men like Ray Comfort and Tom Short win people to Christ through their witness in public places, including college campuses.

The traveling preachers I speak of are not these men.

These are men that like to stir up controversy for the sake of stirring up controversy. These are men that claim Christianity but show no fruit. These are men that seem to many of us incapable of compassion or love.

It places born-again Christians on campus in a precarious position. We can’t deny that there is some truth in what these men say, though shrouded in vitriol. It is true that there is sin in the world, and that people are guilty of some terrible sin. They tend to focus on sexual sin, be it homosexuality, pre-marital sex, or pornography. They call these things wrong, and they are correct. They are also correct in stating that God will punish sin.

These men, though, run afoul in three areas, and in this way preach something other than the true gospel.

First, they largely deny their own sin. As I said before, God hates sin, and the Bible paints a pretty bleak picture of the natural state of man:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” –Romans 3:10-19

So yeah, we are in a pretty bad spot. But pay attention to one of the principles in this passage. Read it again with this emphasis:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” –Romans 3:10-19

That means every person is guilty of sin and naturally under God’s judgment. Everyone.

Second, God hates no one. He hates sin. But He loves people, more than we could love people or love ourselves:

“But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” –Ezekiel 18:21-23

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” –II Peter 3:9

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” –John 3:16-17

Finally, these men completely miss the redemptive part of the gospel. And if you miss that, you’ve missed the gospel entirely. More on that soon.

You may think I only came here to lambast these traveling preachers. No, it is equally disappointing to watch the reaction to them. The intellectual dishonesty on college campuses, mine included, is absurd. We all know these men are not representative of Christians. They aren’t fooling anyone.
And yet there are people who will come not to listen, but only combat these preachers, giving them the exact fuel they need. I hear few good arguments against the words of these men. It usually consists of the go-to liberal tactic of producing as much shock as possible. Yelling something that includes the word “vagina” or making out with someone of the same sex is not an argument.

Close-minded street preachers attract close-minded students.

They know these men aren’t like most Christians. They get their free coffee from Vine & Branches and free pancakes from the BCM. They have the door held for them by Christians. They receive smiles from Christians. They work on projects with Christians. They play intramurals with Christians. Why then do they make the mistake of lumping us all together?


These students desperately want to believe that Christians are hateful bigots who disapprove of their lifestyles. They could talk to 200 Christians who show them love. But you get two men who say they are Christians but speak as though they aren’t, and, “See! I knew Christians were hateful bigots!” Somehow the ramblings of deranged preachers justify a sinful lifestyle. Anything they can latch onto to prove what they’ve already decided is true.

I would be remissed if I did not also point out the intellectual dishonesty of fellow students in light of the actual bigots.

And Christians will flock to apologize for the behavior of these men, as if we somehow are to blame. I’m not in the habit of apologizing for things with which I have nothing to do. “Sorry that America killed your father in a drone strike. I promise we’re not all like that.” These men aren’t fooling anyone into believing they are Christian; they just offer an excuse to affirm sin.

I have nothing against stating that they are not Christians, but I have no control over their behavior.

Here’s the practical part. We as Christians can explain to people that Christians are not hateful, and that these men are not representative of us. But the only true way to prove our love is not through words, but action. Leave people in no doubt that we are God’s people. Let them see the love of God manifest in us through the way we interact with them. Explanations only go so far. How we act is what will bring those explanations credibility.

I said earlier that these traveling preachers completely miss the doctrine of redemption. It is true: man is sinful, and sin leads to spiritual death. And death means eternity in Hell:

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” –John 3:18

“For the wages of sin is death…” –Romans 6:23a

Think of it this way: God is a judge. He has created laws. Breaking laws earns punishment. We are falling short daily of the perfect standard God has set. We missed the mark, and that earns condemnation.

The awesome part, and the part these street preachers are suppressing, is that there is an alternate route. What if I told you there was a way for God’s justice to be satisfied AND a way for us to avoid God’s condemnation?

Enter Jesus Christ.

Jesus died a propitiatory death:

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” –I John 2:2

That means that when Jesus died on the cross, He took the sin of the entire world upon Him and bore God’s wrath for sin. That’s why, if you read accounts of the crucifixion, the Earth goes dark in the middle of the day, and after three hours Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” This punishment propitiated, or satisfied, God’s wrath.

So now we have a way to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus’ sacrifice. No longer must we live under condemnation. Jesus was condemned and rose again to cover our sin.

And that is totally missed by these traveling preachers. Yes, God condemns sin. But no, He does not hate individuals and He has not simply left us hopeless with no way to escape our sin:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” –I Corinthians 6:9-11

God is in the business of changing lives.

So weigh the teachings of the Bible carefully against the teachings of bigoted preachers. I think you’ll find they don’t match up. Then consider that humbling reality that God became human to die for you so that you would have a way out of condemnation and into eternal life.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Rationale for the Deployment of Atomic Weapons to End World War II

It’s sad to see how little people think through their positions on some issues. Whether it’s gun control (expecting criminals to obey laws), refugee resettlement (knowing we can’t vet the people coming from countries with a strong terrorist presence yet demanding we allow them entrance anyway), or in this case, a historical ethical dilemma, no one seems to consider the issues past the surface level.

I don’t often study the morality or sensibleness of history’s decisions. I tend to learn about them objectively and accept that they have already occurred. However, being one of a dwindling number of people that thinks nationalism isn’t sinful and it’s okay to love America, I’ve begun to look more at her history. It’s far from perfect, I admit, with things such as slavery, Native American resettlement, Japanese internment, Jim Crow laws, abortion, and other injustices. But that doesn’t mean that every decision that initially appears questionable was a bad one.

Among my considerations is the use of two atomic bombs against Japan at the end (coincidence, I’m sure) of World War II. This particular event has ignited controversy, but I believe it was completely justified. With Victory over Japan Day tomorrow, I thought it fitting to examine the ethical dilemma of deploying atomic weapons to end the war.

President Truman
The use of the atomic bombs has a unique historical context. While in other situations this might not have been necessary, in the case of that particular enemy and that particular war, it was entirely fitting. Most, including myself, would not desire such an outcome, but making a sweeping statement on the immorality of the deployment of atomic weapons while offering no consideration of the specific reality faced in 1945 shows historical ignorance or intellectual dishonesty. There was a rationale behind this decision.

Take note that this in no way disrespects the Japan of today and its culture. It is no longer a militaristic empire. This also does not trivialize atomic weapons. They are very serious and any decision to use them needs clear reasoning. While I do not foresee a day when there are no atomic/nuclear weapons, I have no desire to ever see them used again. As the reader will see, the particular use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, unfortunately, the least deadly scenario.

Several important details justify Harry Truman’s choice to use the new weapon:

1.      Japan was the aggressor, not America.
The Arizona burns in Pearl Harbor. Over 1000 men died
on the ship.

Does this alone justify using the atomic bombs? No, I don’t think it does. But it is important to bear this in mind. The U.S. avoided World War II for over two years, when much of Europe, North Africa, and East Asia was caught up in it. What brought the United States into the war was a massive surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that was planned years in advance. (The U.S. had sold old bomb shells to Japan for scrap metal to be melted down a number of years before the attack. One that was unexploded was found in a sunken battleship. Japan was collecting them to make improvised bombs to drop on ships in the Harbor.) The loss of over 2400 people (including 68 civilians) that day brought America into the war. It was Japan’s desire to fight us, not the other way around. We simply finished what they started.

2.      Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military and industrial cities, and the target areas were military and industrial.

Hiroshima was the headquarters of a number of military armies and divisions, including the Second General Army that was in control of the defense of southern Japan. Over 40,000 military members were stationed there. (Half of these were killed by the bomb, further showing that this was not simply aimed at civilians.) Hiroshima also had a large military stockpile. The city was a key shipping port, a communication center, and an assembly area for troops.
A factory in Hiroshima destroyed by the atomic bomb

Nagasaki was a huge seaport and was home to many important wartime industries: “ordnance, ships, military equipment, and other war materials. The four largest companies in the city were Mitsubishi Shipyards, Electrical Shipyards, Arms Plant, and Steel and Arms Works, which employed about 90% of the city's labor force, and accounted for 90% of the city's industry.” (Source: Wikipedia)

The Musashi and Yamato, Japanese battleships that were the
two most powerful battleships ever built. The Musashi was
converted in Nagasaki's Mitsubishi Shipyards.
The primary target of these two bombs was not civilians. Their deaths were an effect, not the primary goal. This was not an act of genocide. This was a blow to the industry of the Japanese war machine by crippling seaports, destroying factories, and killing the workers that kept the military going. These cities weren’t chosen based on their populations and the structure of their buildings. They were chosen based on their military value. Most of the people in these cities, especially Nagasaki, were more than simply civilians. They were the people supplying the Japanese empire with munitions and equipment by working in the factories of these industrial cities. To crush the Japanese military, their supply chain had to be cut off, just as it was in so many other cities by conventional bombs.

3.      The culture of Japan taught the people to never surrender.

The United States wanted the maximum psychological impact possible to break Japan’s will to fight. This was a nearly impossible task.

This is the key point to understanding why the atomic bombs were necessary. The Japanese attitude towards surrender explains why Truman decided on such an extreme measure.

Japanese corpses after an unsuccessful Bonzai Charge
Up until the August 1945 surrender, only one Japanese military unit had surrendered (a starving battalion in New Guinea). Soldiers were taught a perverted form of the Samurai Bushido Code that believed it was a disgrace to surrender. Reports from Iwo Jima, as stated in Flags of our Fathers, stated there were mass suicides in the tunnels of the island. If the Japanese did not win, they would die trying. This is true of the reports of other battles. The Japanese soldiers would continue to fight regardless of the odds until they were all gone. It’s why – out of 22,000 Japanese on Iwo Jima – all but 216 died.

This was also engrained in the civilians of Japan. As the U.S. closed in on Saipan, Emperor Hirohito himself decreed that citizens should commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the American army. He feared that if the Japanese people saw the generous treatment by the Americans, they would defect. They were promised a privileged place in the afterlife in return for their deaths. One thousand people at Saipan committed suicide, many by jumping off the now infamous “Suicide Cliff”, when they knew the battle was lost. When the Soviets invaded Manchuria, the Japanese army killed its own citizens as it retreated. There truly was a “victory or death” mentality forced not only on the military, but even on innocent civilians. Japan’s citizens would have been much better off in the care of the Allies rather than be pawns in the twisted mania known as the Japanese “fighting spirit”.

Japanese Prime Minister Kantarō Suzuki had a military-dominated cabinet, and all but one favored continuing the war in 1945. Mind you, this is after a prediction that Japan’s back would be broken by American air and sea superiority. This was after over 60 square miles of Tokyo were destroyed by bombs and incendiary bombs, and a number of other military targets had been hit as well, killing hundreds of thousands. The incendiary bombing of Tokyo killed more than both atomic bombs combined. Even with this grim outlook, the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War publicly held to that they would continue. Japan had never surrendered or lost a war.
Japanese civilians jump to their deaths in Saipan.

Privately, the Supreme Council sought a conditional surrender that would allow their emperor to stay on the throne and the empire to keep some of its territories it had acquired in brutal fashion, among other things. Rightly so, the Allies were not about to meet these demands.

With such obstinate military leaders, the situation was not like that of Europe’s. Italy and Germany surrendered when they knew they were defeated and didn’t allow any more military or civilians to be killed after they reached these conclusions. Japan, though, knew it was hopeless but fought anyway. Atomic bombs allowed a powerful weapon to wage psychological warfare through the terror it unleashed. Only drastic measures could provoke Japan into surrendering rather than annihilating itself.

If there is any further doubt as to the morality of this action, the final reason should be of benefit.

4.      An invasion of Japan would have had many times more casualties than what the atomic bombs caused.

Remember when I mentioned the obstinacy of the Japanese? The empire had recruited 28 million citizens – every man between 12 and 65 and every woman between 12 and 45 – to defend the homeland in case of invasion. These citizens were to be used as a “second defense line” to wage a war of attrition against Allied invaders. This militia would carry on the fight and finally resort to guerilla warfare.
The planned invasion of the Japanese mainland

In the few places the “Volunteer Fighting Corp” was used in battle, such as the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, they were slaughtered. Weapons were scarce, so the Japanese civilians were taught to fight with whatever they could get. Molotov cocktails, swords, knives, pole weapons, antique firearms, clubs, truncheons, even sharpened bamboo sticks. Primitive weapons of fighting amateurs would hardly have matched the trained military power of the Allied forces. Millions of Japanese would have been killed had there been an invasion. If it were up to the military leaders, the Allies would have to kill all 28 million to secure victory.

Even with the firepower advantage, the Allies still would have faced the remaining strength of the Japanese forces. What was left of their navy, air corps, and army would have met America and co. on Japanese home turf. It was expected that the Allies would suffer a million casualties.

Hmm. Two hundred thousand people of the enemy, or a million of our own people. Tough choice.
Add to it the fact that thousands of American prisoners of war would have been executed had the Allies invaded the Japanese mainland. The price to pay was far too high for the U.S., so another option was explored.

Destruction in Hiroshima
This was war, and in war nations take care of their own people before they take care of their enemy. In our culture that demands the Western world take in thousands of refugees with unknown backgrounds, clearly many don’t understand the protective role of the federal government for its own citizens. But in 1945, Harry Truman was very conscious of it. The United States and the other Allied nations wanted to avoid an invasion because they knew, with the “never surrender” attitude of the Japanese empire’s culture, that it would be a bloodbath. They didn’t want to sacrifice more men than was necessary. The atomic bombs provided a means to avoid that conflict. And, whether they intended to or not, they saved millions of Japanese lives in the process.

Finally, Emperor Hirohito stepped in and stopped the futile stand of the military leaders. In the understatement of the war, he said to his citizens (the first time they’d heard his voice), “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage.” He feared the “ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation.” “Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable…”
The mushroom cloud over Nagasaki

Only when the emperor was dangled over the precipice of oblivion did he decide that they must “endure the unendurable” and surrender. This was not a light decision, keeping in mind all that he had allowed Japan to go through. Incendiary bombs didn’t work. Plans for a massive invasion didn’t work. The crushing of his powerful navy didn’t work. There very well might have been nothing else that could have broken the backs of the maniacal Japanese “fighting spirit” other than the mysterious new bombs that could do damage like no other, and the threat of more falling on Japan’s cities. 

Perhaps in most other situations this would have been needless. But with the understanding of Japan’s position and the mounting costs to Allied and Axis powers alike, the use of atomic bombs was not only justified – it was the most ethical course of action.