Content Muster #1

I will occasionally share here clusters of 3-10 pieces of content I find interesting, helpful to building up believers, or helpful to believers and secularists to help both understand secularism. Sharing content here does not mean I affirm everything being said in each article, but do believe they are helpful for provoking thought. I do take full responsibility for my commentary.

The New York Times: “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance”

Commentary: A progressive reflects on how progressives discriminate against conservatives.

The Gospel Coalition: “Five Principles of the New Sexual Morality

Commentary: many Christians claim that secularism’s approval of homosexual practice will result also in an approval of pedophilia. According to this article, that is a straw man argument. In a contractual view of sexual ethics, which seems to be the view secularism is adopting, homosexual practice between consenting adults is OK whereas pedophilia is wrong.

The Washington Post: “As a psychiatrist, I diagnose mental illness. Also, I help spot demonic possession.”

Commentary: It is possible to be a rational professional inhabiting secularism and believe in demons and the supernatural.

First Things: “A Subjective Definition of ‘Death’ Would Unleash Great Evil

Commentary: Radical self-autonomy denies the objective biological realities of male and female. Will radical self-autonomy go so far as to deny the objective realities of life and death? Could a man self-identify as “dead” so he could collect his own life-insurance policy?

The Federalist:“Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s ‘Rationalia’ Would Be A Terrible Country

Commentary: scientism is a philosophy masquerading as “science.” All science rests on philosophical presuppositions. We are either self-aware, or unaware, of how philosophy and science interact with one another.

Why Love is not Lust

“…And God separated the light from the darkness.” ~Genesis 1:4

From the very beginning of the Bible, God is a God who makes distinctions and separations. The Bible presents a binary view of reality: there is truth, falsehood; good, evil; righteousness, unrighteousness; light, darkness.

This binary view of reality is not something unique to the Old Testament. God in the New Testament makes distinctions as well:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality…” (Galatians 5:19).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” (Galatians 5:22).

According to the Bible, love is not sexual immorality; love is not lust; and lust is not the deep erotic passion between a husband and wife celebrated in Song of Solomon. Love and red-hot sexual attraction in marriage are good and lovely. Lust and sexual immorality are evil.

As Western culture becomes more influenced by pagan One-ism, we will see these boundaries blurred, melded, and obscured:

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The Brave New World has an orgy-porgy.

According to pagan One-ism, lust is love. The biblical separation between love and lust has been melded and obscured.

The average person objects at this point: lust isn’t a big deal. But let me explain it this way: if adultery is the lie that God cheats on people He loves, lust is the lie that God would even think about it. Lust is something horrifying and evil that strikes at the very heart of God’s character: His love, purity, holiness, covenant faithfulness, and His commitment to keep His promises in thought and in action.

Love is not lust.

 

If it Feels Right…

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
-Colossians 2:8, ESV

This post is the first in a series in which I hope to interact with philosophers, especially modern and postmodern. The first I will pick is John Stuart Mill.

John Stuart Mill had a sad childhood, learning Greek and Latin classics he didn’t understand when he should have been playing outside with friends.  John Stuart Mill was probably not the first Utilitarian, but the first to popularize it. The most destructive aspect of his philosophy is the belief that

Good = Pleasure
Evil    = Pain.

We see how tremendously influential his ideas are with statements like, “If it feels right, it is right.” The problem is, sometimes evil is pleasurable, and sometimes doing the right thing will cause you pain. If you follow Mill’s philosophy, you will do evil things, convinced they are good because they are pleasurable.

Mill’s philosophy has influenced us in more subtle ways. Consider an extreme example first, and then a more subtle. One woman has an abortion and says it was a good experience. Another woman who has never had an abortion says abortion’s bad. Our culture will find the first woman’s testimony to be more credible precisely because we have deeply imbibed Mill’s philosophy. Mill’s philosophy leads us to believe that someone with an existential experience doing evil has a more credible, more legitimate experience. Of course, Jesus, who was sinless (which means He never had an existential experience doing evil) nevertheless speaks with authority on things like lust, anger, and greed in the Sermon on the Mount. If Mill’s philosophy is true, the sinless Christ cannot speak with any authority about evil things like lust, anger, and greed. Now consider a more subtle example. Consider one man who has sex outside of marriage, gets married, remains faithful in marriage, then says his sex outside of marriage was bad. Then consider a second man who has never had sex say sex outside of marriage is bad. Our culture will hold the testimony of the first man to be “more legitimate” because of his existential experience doing evil.

But the truth is, you don’t need to commit murder before you decide whether murder is good or bad. You should know murder is wrong, and then not do it. You can and should learn the difference between good and evil without an existential experience doing evil.

And what if John Stuart Mill’s view of pleasure isn’t pleasurable enough? What if the gospel offers something better? What if joy, pleasure, righteousness, pain, suffering, and glory can be mingled together? They can. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1, 2, ESV, emphasis mine).”

The Kirk and Gagnon Debate

Professors Kirk and Gagnon debated on the same-sex controversy and whether LGBTs should be allowed maintain their current lifestyle and have church membership.

Professor Kirk made an interesting argument. He claimed that the Holy Spirit is forming his beliefs that LGBTs should be given church membership and be allowed to maintain their current lifestyle, but there is a serious problem with this. Let’s take a look. When the apostles met to understand God’s will for the inclusion of Gentiles into the body of God’s people, they had this to say:

“For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
Acts 15:28-29, ESV

When the Gentiles were included in the body of believers, the Holy Spirit directed both 1) their inclusion and 2) that they should abstain from sexual immorality. Here is the problem with Kirk’s position: In order to maintain the position that the Holy Spirit approves of sexual immorality, he has to maintain that God the Holy Spirit is wrong in Acts 15:28-29. Um…not a place I want to go.

The culture is screaming at you right now that you must approve of someone’s sexual immorality to love them. The Pharisees are screaming at you that you must be doctrinally sound to the point of being unkind to LGBTs. The culture and Pharisaism are neither satisfying, only going deeper into truth, love, and obedience, so two truths: love does not rejoice at wrongdoing (1 Corinthians 13:6), and sinners loved to hang out with Jesus (Luke 15:1). They were probably amazed that someone so holy could be so kind. Jesus said of himself, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Be patient and kind to whomever you meet. Point them to Jesus’ cleansing work on the cross for sinners and encourage them to repent. That’s being like Jesus.

Lust and sexual immorality do not come from the Holy Spirit of God (Galatians 5:19), which should convict the culture. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control come from the Holy Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22, 23), which should convict Pharisees in the church.

Sexual Immorality and Jesus

In the golden calf incident, we see that sexual immorality and idols go hand-in-hand. But what was particularly dastardly was the Israelites didn’t just worship the golden calf, they called the golden calf their “Lord.” They claimed their false god was the real God so they could indulge in sexual immorality. Wherever you see sexual immorality justified in the name of Jesus, know that is a false Christ.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”
-Jesus, Matthew 15:19

“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.”
-Jesus, Matthew 24:5

The Bicycle of Science

A young man decides to ride a bike to work instead of a fossil-fuel-guzzling, carbon-dioxide-spewing vehicle. “I’m going to save the world from global warming,” he thinks smugly to himself. He thinks because he is saving the world he is entitled to special privileges. Laws, after all, are appropriate for servants, for women, for children, but obviously were never intended for the exceptional. He takes a shortcut across a crowded highway, screaming at the vehicles, “I’m saving the world. You’re not. You’re destroying the world. Get out of my way.” He causes a 52-car pileup and multiple fatalities, but he bikes away smug: he’s saving the world after all. Science is like a bicycle, but many of its modern riders are lawless and proud. They’re proud of committing infanticide because it’s with technologically-advanced, sterilized instruments.

Abortion: Twenty-Two Theses

1) From the moment of conception, a baby has its own unique DNA and is therefore a human being with inalienable rights.

2) Science is not in consensus with regard to current abortion-on-demand practice. Plenty of scientists believe that human life begins at conception.

3) A baby is distinct from and dependent on his or her mother’s body. A baby is not his or her mother’s body. A baby is not a cancer or a lump of tissue.

4) The most vulnerable people, even those who are dependent upon outside sources for survival, are worthy of our compassion and consideration: the poor, the homeless, the sick, widows, orphans, and unborn children have inherent dignity and value apart from their ability to fend for themselves or contribute to society.

5)  There are such things as immoral laws. Slavery was once legal but was still immoral. “Abortion is legal” is an illegitimate argument if abortion is immoral. We must distinguish between legality and morality in our thinking since the two concepts are not automatically in agreement.

6) Women’s Rights and personal autonomy are important, but not absolutes. Men cannot appeal to Men’s Rights to rape women because there are moral laws that transcend Women’s Rights, Men’s Rights, and personal autonomy.

7) If a fetus is a person, abortion is murder. If a fetus is a non-person, the conversation can shift to Women’s Rights and personal autonomy. If a fetus is a person, Women’s Rights and personal autonomy are smokescreen arguments to cover up evil.

8) Approximately 1% of abortions are incest- or rape-related. Laws should be made to govern 99% of the cases, and then exceptions should be considered. Exceptions should not determine laws.

9) Even then, abortion doesn’t make the heartbreak of rape or incest any better. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sentencing an unborn child to death for the crime of a rapist is the worst sort of injustice.

10) Families and churches should love vulnerable mothers with self-sacrificial, practical compassion.

11) If a fetus is a person, cleanliness is an illegitimate argument. It makes no difference if you murder someone with a rock or with sterilized steel instruments.

12) The standard libertarian argument (I would never do X, but I want other people to have the right to do X) only applies for morally good or morally neutral principles. “I would never murder anyone, but I want other people to have the right to murder others” is destructive moral reasoning.

13) “Abortion should be a choice made between a woman and her doctor without government interference.” Personal autonomy is not an absolute. See #7.

14) “Stay out of her business. Sexuality is only a private affair.” No. Sexuality has public consequences. Child support laws are just and reflect the reality that there is no separating sexuality, economics, and public policy. Planned Parenthood is funded by taxpayer dollars and is a public matter.

15) “You’re not allowed to talk about this because you don’t have a personal experience or because you’re a man” is not an argument, but an attempt to demean and belittle an opponent. In a murder trial, people who had a personal experience of the murder are not allowed to sit on the jury. Why? Because a personal experience clouds judgment. People who have had personal experiences should be heard as witnesses whose experiences are important, but not allowed to sit as jury or judge. All people are allowed to speak on this issue of abortion because men, women, and babies have a shared humanity.

16) Satan is committed to destroying or defacing the image of God in humanity. One of his tactics is a redefinition of words that results in dehumanization.

17) History is replete with examples. “That slave is not a person, but my property, therefore I can do as I please. That Jew is not a person, but a beast, therefore I can do as I please. That baby is not a person, but a lump of tissue, therefore I can do as I please.” The powerful play word games so that persons are redefined as non-persons, and power is then exercised for selfish desire.

18) Therefore, we as an American people, are like the Pharisees who believed they would never murder the prophets as their fathers did, who turned around the next moment and did what was worse: murdering the Son of God. We are guilty of historical blindness and forgetfulness, railing against the evils of the past while neglecting the worse evil of our own day. 12.5 million blacks crossed the Middle Passage over 300 years. 13 million black babies have been aborted in the 40 years since Roe v. Wade. Per unit time, we take away the rights of 10 times as many blacks as our slave-owning ancestors did. To rail against American slavery without speaking against the greater evil of our own day is cheap zeal, straining out a camel of the past while swallowing the larger camel of the present.

19) We, as an American people, are Pharisees who strain out gnats and swallow camels. We look for single-cell alien life on meteorites while slaughtering single-cell human life in our own wombs.

20) Abortion and Molech worship both involve murdering a child and throwing it in the flame to secure prosperity, careers, and money. Americans don’t believe in demons, but we sure act like it.

21) America needs to cease and repent of this evil of abortion, or the blood of the unborn will cry out from the ground as witness against us. There will be justice on the earth.

22) Christ was murdered on the cross to forgive sin. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:16-21).