Friday, September 28, 2018

The Legitimacy Behind a "Me Too" Movement, and Why This One Has Lost It

I didn’t want to write this. I really hoped this movement would stay on the rails of legitimacy. There was a problem that has left a lot of scars in its wake.

Source: ABC News
The concept of a Me Too movement is not a bad one. It encourages women to find support, and offer it as well, and encourages them to speak out against the perpetrators. And yes, I as a large, gun-toting man will probably never experience sexual assault, at least not in its traditional definition.

The most I can offer is my sympathy and support. I have a lot of close female friends, and I would be devastated if anything happened to them, let alone the effect on them. I can’t overstate the sickness of sexual assault. I think rape should still be a capital offense.

I say all that because I do not want to be mistaken as simply dismissing this movement or this issue. But for God’s sake, we have to be fair.

There are two ways that this Me Too movement has gone off the rails, despite all the potential. I’ll cover the less timely one first.

The Dilution of the Definition of Sexual Assault

The “one in five women” mantra has been trumpeted by the Party of Bill Clinton to score points in elections. But it’s from a survey that covered two campuses with a sample size of less than 6,000, which though it might seem large is not a large enough sample size to deduce something about such a large group. There was a low survey participation of those the researchers tried to survey, and it included questions “about events that you think (but are not certain) happened.” Never did it ask directly if someone had been raped.

That’s not to say there’s no problem. But the survey is consistent with the watering down of the meaning of sexual assault. “If you think you might have had sex while you were drunk, we’ll call it rape.”

There have been many tragic stories that have come out of this movement. One that sticks with me is the story of one of my favorite women’s basketball players. We’ve seen countless victims of men like Harvey Weinstein and Larry Nassar.

WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart, whose heart-wrenching Me Too story was
featured in the Players' Tribune. Source: Players' Tribune
I don’t speak for those victims, but I think it does them a disservice to cast the net so wide. Sexual harassment is terrible, but it isn’t rape. Being touched inappropriately is just as bad or worse, but it isn’t rape. Again, it doesn’t mean there’s no problem or that lesser things aren’t bad too, but we can’t expand the definition of sexual assault so wide that it isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. And yes, that is ultimately on those that choose to take it less seriously, but diluting its meaning opens the door for those problems.

Destruction of Due Process

Speaking of opening doors, this one has been opened with a bulldozer. I can’t and won’t deny that throughout history rape has not been taken seriously, and in some circles still isn’t. Hence why a Me Too movement that doesn’t go rogue is not a bad thing.

I am not going to trash Dr. Ford or any other accusers of Brett Kavanaugh. I am not going to stake a claim that he is for sure innocent of those accusations. That is because, outside of a handful of people, no one knows.

But that’s not what we’re hearing. “If she says it, it happened.” “Believe the victims.” We’ve lost our heads. We’re willing to drag a man through the mud on the word of a woman who has a fuzzy memory of 35 years ago.

Harvey Weinstein and some of his victims. Source: Malay Mail
And I don’t even like Brett Kavanaugh. I don’t think he was a good choice. I would have rather seen Amy Coney Barrett (and try accusing her of sexual assault). It would be somewhat amusing if Kavanaugh was denied and Barrett took his place, a much more known quantity on some key issues.

But I don’t want to see that happen by someone being railroaded. There are reasons that would make me lean towards Kavanaugh being innocent. The timing is impeccable; after 35 years and weeks after President Trump’s announcement, now we get an accusation. Perhaps it took that long for the Democrats to dig someone up who knew Kavanaugh when he did some dumb stuff as a teenager. And it is not lost on me that this is the swing vote. Justice Gorsuch replaced another conservative justice. This time it’s Justice Kennedy, who has consistently voted in favor of “reproductive rights,” the affectionate term for dismembering human beings. As we’ve seen over years in the news and as I’ve seen personally, liberals pull out all the stops in defense of the blessed sacrament of the progressive church. What is one man’s reputation when killing babies is at stake?

So I lean that way, but I don’t know. None of the Democrats on Capital Hill or any other liberals do either, but that won’t stop them. And frankly, the conservatives don’t either. It’s a dangerous thing to shut down a woman’s accusations without investigating them. And it’s also a dangerous thing to presume a man’s guilt, and take it further by letting nothing sway you otherwise. Any of us are vulnerable when the standard of proof is nonexistent.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Source:
This is where blindly believing an accuser gets us. VanDyke Perry served 11 years in prison for rape and Gregory Counts 26 for being wrongfully convicted or rape. Clifford Jones served almost 30 before being exonerated. Lawrence McKinney served 31. The list could go on, and those were with “due process.” These are wild accusations. It’s a motif of To Kill a Mockingbird. The Party of prisoners’ rights is the one telling us to have unconditioned trust in accusations. People accuse others of things they didn’t do all the time. It’s dangerous to simply believe it. And it costs some people an awful lot.

I’m trying to be reasonable and sensitive here, though I’m sure people are still angry. That’s the society we live in. It’s easier to silence opposition than to answer it. But I thought it important enough to say something that I wrote this outside of my usual two-week pattern I keep to avoid devoting too much time away from studies and ministry.

I’m not saying sexual assault isn’t an issue. I’m not saying we shouldn’t listen to women who say they are victims. I am saying that we shouldn’t make other victims. Because if Dr. Ford and others are lying, Brett Kavanaugh and his family are the only victims. Every man falsely accused and assumed guilty is a victim.

We have to keep our heads. I think the premise behind the Me Too movement is important.

But this one has gotten it wrong.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Miscarriages Are Not the Same as Abortions, and It's a Pitiful and Appalling Claim to Make

It’s one of the most hideous analogies I hear from a group that has mastered hideous analogies.

“Why are you so upset about abortion? Embryos die in miscarriages all the time.”

“Abortion,” in its denotation, is in fact a neutral word. And a miscarriage is a “spontaneous abortion.” But, of course, that’s not what is meant. Most people aren’t familiar with those terms.

No, this is an apples-to-oranges comparison of two tragedies in which the result is ultimately the same, but the culpability and preventability is drastically different.

One is a natural loss of a child that often leaves parents feeling helpless. The other “empowers” a mother by allowing her to hire a hit man to butcher her child.

Harsh words, I am aware, but I don’t think we do the preborn, or the women who might make the same mistake too many others have, any favors by making our descriptions of abortion PG.

An abortion is, typically, a willing choice. Sometimes it is coerced, and those women are just as much the victim. Abortion being a choice does not mean there aren’t complicated and sometimes tragic circumstances around that choice. It does not mean that a parent is fully informed. It does not mean that post-abortive women, or women considering abortion, should be demonized. But it does mean that there is a fundamental difference between the choice of abortion and the uncontrollable event of a miscarriage.

A miscarriage is equally as tragic; it is the loss of a child. But it is unpreventable. There is no willing choice. It just happens.

It is sickening to take advantage of women who suffer such a loss by using their circumstance as a justification for abortion. They did not have a choice. Most wouldn’t have made the choice. But, that’s what the pro-abortion side does. It uses rape victims to try to justify the other 99 percent of abortions. It uses indigent women to try to justify all abortions. The side that champions women’s equality uses the most tragic circumstances women face in an attempt to bolster their arguments. Sadly, many take the bait.

This article is not written out of judgment of women who have aborted, but out of advocacy for the women that have miscarried. I know some of these women. Their loss of their child is not to be lumped in with the often-willing murder of a child in a fruitless attempt to justify the latter.

Some people are killed accidentally when they are hit by a car, so we should be okay with running down pedestrians in crosswalks.

A garden in memory of children lost to miscarriage and
women who have experienced it, at the
National Memorialfor the Unborn in Chattanooga, Tennessee
The unpreventable deaths of individuals does not justify the intentional death of individuals. Such a claim sounds absolutely mindless in any other scenario. People die of disease, so we should intentionally infect others. People fall off cliffs, so we should be fine with throwing others off cliffs. People die in their sleep, so we shouldn’t have a problem smothering them with pillows. It doesn’t make sense in any other context. Yet for some reason, we’ll justify the intentional killing of the preborn by saying, “Sometimes they die naturally, too.”

One wonders how much thought is actually put into these arguments. To salvage my view of humanity, I hope not much. It is a pretty sad argument to have thought about for any length of time. From anti-abortion outreach on the streets, I have seen people jump through several totally different justifications for abortion in a matter of minutes, so it’s certainly plausible. When you start with the premise of abortion being morally justifiable, you’ll come up with anything to convince yourself.

Abortion takes a unique individual who, for all we know, would have been carried to term. It takes that individual, and by someone’s choice and an abortionist’s hands, rips her apart. It may be done with a vacuum and curette. It may be done by the abortionist grabbing body parts, twisting them to break them off, and pulling the child out piece by piece, putting her back together to make sure he didn’t miss anything. It may be done through medication, killing her and inducing labor to deliver a dead child. It’s barbaric. It’s sickening. And it is justified in the most barbaric and sickening ways.

A miscarriage is a natural but tragic process. But that has little bearing on how the parents feel afterwards. They did nothing wrong. Sure, the end result of both abortion and miscarriages is the death of a child, but the processes that lead to that awful result are worlds apart.

They’re not the same. It’s insensitive, pitiful, and appalling to say they are.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Limited Atonement: The Crumbling of Calvinist Doctrine

I once had a Calvinist friend admit to me that the most difficult point of his beliefs to support is Limited Atonement. In my own study I can see why, with the mountain of scriptural evidence against it.

Calvinists might point to Jesus “laying down His life for the sheep,” as if Jesus said anything about salvation only extending to the sheep. Jesus dying for the church does not mean that He also didn’t die for the rest of the world. Anyone can become a part of the church. Anyone can become a part of the flock. But only those who choose this will be saved—by their own doing. We have to examine the totality of scripture on atonement, rather than searching for phrasing that might make our case plausible. Limited Atonement seems more like it has to be there for predestination, from a Reformed perspective, to make any sense, even though there does not seem to be sufficient proof.

Indeed, when the Limited Atonement block is removed, the entire tower crumbles. If Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, then He partially died in vain because He had already predestined certain people to not believe. If He did not die for the sins of the whole world, then there is a lot of scripture that must be explained, or explained away.

I understand that a four-point Calvinist rejects limited atonement. However, I still believe the concept weakens their foundation. If Jesus did die for the sins of the whole world, but only extended salvation to some, part of the sin He took on was pointless. The argument could be made that it was even from a free will perspective, because Jesus knew that not everyone would be saved. However, Christ’s work on the cross was the divine equivalent of a tennis serve—Jesus put the ball in our court, and we choose what to do with it. God made a way for every individual to know Him, and He did so by dying for the sins of the whole world. The cross makes it possible for all to freely choose. If God was doing the choosing ahead of time, it would not make sense to put Jesus through the additional agony of all the sins of people who God had no intention of extending an offer of grace to.

The concept of the “whole world” is wrapped up in the Greek word kosmon. Its use in the New Testament repeatedly points to the inclusion of everyone:
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. –John 16:33b 
God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? –Romans 3:6 
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: –Romans 5:12 
By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. –Hebrews 11:7
Has Jesus only overcome part of the world? Will God only judge part of the world? Did sin pass upon only part of the world? Did God only judge part of the world in the flood?

So when we see the following passage, using the same Greek word, we should be confident that there are no caveats or exclusions:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:14-17
Jesus came to save the entire world by dying for the entire world, not just the “elect.”

The symbolism of the serpent is also important. Jesus likens Himself to the bronze serpent in the wilderness:
And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. –Numbers 21:6-9
The point of the serpent was to save people from death. “Every one” who would otherwise die can look to it. “Any man.” Jesus’s death was symbolized by a deliverance available to everyone.

The idea of the death of Christ being for everyone is also outright stated:
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe. –I Timothy 4:9-10
Just as Jesus dying for the sheep doesn’t negate that He died for the whole world, Jesus being the Savior “specially of those that believe” does not negate that He is the “Savior of all men.”
For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. –Romans 11:30-32 
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world [kosmon] unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. –II Corinthians 5:19 
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. –I John 2:1-2
John is talking to Christians and says that Jesus isn't just the propitiation for us (Christians), but also for the whole world.

I can’t say where the belief in Limited Atonement originated; I haven’t studied to unraveling of Reformed theology. But I can be confident in saying it is not from a proper interpretation of scripture. Calvinism paints God with attributes contrary to His Word, and it faces its biggest hill in trying to prove that Jesus died for some, not all.

If we can’t prove Limited Atonement, the logical foundation of Calvinism crumbles. If Christ died for all, then He partially died in vain, as He took the punishment for the sins of billions of people who God had already set aside for destruction “before the foundation of the world.” If Jesus died for us all and opened the door to salvation for us all, then predestination, as Reformed theology believes it, is unbiblical.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. –Revelation 22:17