Archive for May 5, 2012
Tags: George Washington University Law School, Jonathan Turley, New York Times, North Carolina, Ralph Nader, Same-sex marriage, Stanley Kurtz, United States
Many of the nation’s leading newspapers serve as advocacy agents for the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Leading this charge for some time, The New York Timesregularly promotes same-sex marriage in its editorials and news coverage. Even so, the paper’s latest editorial serves as a display of how the argument for homosexual marriage is often pressed with what can only be described as undisguised intellectual dishonesty.
In “Bigotry on the Ballot,” the paper editorialized against Amendment One, the effort to amend the constitution of North Carolina in order to preclude the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. That question will be put before the voters of North Carolina on May 8, and the result will be an important signal of where the nation now stands on the question. No similar effort has yet failed when put before the voters of a state, but polls indicate that the vote in North Carolina may be close.
“North Carolina already has a law barring same-sex marriage, but the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature is not satisfied. It devised a measure to enshrine this obvious discrimination in the State Constitution and placed it on the ballot of the state’s May 8 primary election — a test of tolerance versus bigotry that ought to be watched closely nationwide.”
The paper has every right to editorialize as it chooses, and an editorial against Amendment One is no surprise to any informed reader of that paper. But look closely at the language used. The effort to limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman is described as “obvious discrimination.”
That is meant to insinuate that the effort is therefore wrong, and even immoral. But that is just not intellectually honest. Discrimination — even “obvious discrimination” — is not necessarily wrong at all. Indeed, any sane society discriminates at virtually every turn, as do individuals. The law is itself an instrument of comprehensive discrimination. We classify some crimes as misdemeanors and others as felonies. We allow some persons to teach in our schools, but not others. We recognize certain persons as citizens, but not others.
Often, we discriminate on moral terms. No sane person would ask a convicted child molester to be a baby sitter. No sane society would elect a known embezzler as state treasurer. These acts of discrimination are necessary and morally right.
The real question is whether discrimination is right or wrong, justified or without justification. Calling any law “obvious discrimination” is not yet an argument. What the editors mean, we can presume, is that the proper line of discrimination should be drawn elsewhere, but this is not what the editorial states. In order to make this argument, the editors would have to summon the courage to define how the law should properly discriminate in defining marriage. No such courage is apparent.
As a matter of fact, when the editors do acknowledge that the law must define marriage in some way, they offer an even more egregious example of intellectual dishonesty.
Consider this sentence:
“Opponents of marriage equality have never been able to show any evidence that any harm is caused to heterosexual marriages by granting all American adults the right to marry as they choose — because there is no such evidence.”
The editors demand “evidence” that heterosexual marriages will be harmed by the legalization of same-sex marriage, but this is an evasion. Legalizing same-sex marriage redefines marriage as an institution, leading to a fundamental redefinition of society. Opponents of same-sex marriage believe that such a redefinition, in itself, is a harm to the entire society.
The larger problem with this sentence from the editors is the argument that the nation should grant “all American adults the right to marry as they choose.”
I do not believe for a moment that the editors of The New York Times mean what they said — at least I hope not. The editorial is aiming for a conclusive argument, but the editors have made an argument I doubt they can own or sustain.
All American adults should have the right to marry as they choose? All? This means the legalization of polygamy and incest. Proponents of same-sex marriage respond to such assertions with anger and vitriol, but they cannot deny that polygamy is a very real issue and that at least some American adults have demanded a right to marry their closest relations.
“Advocacy of legalized polygamy is growing. A network of grass-roots organizations seeking legal recognition for group marriage already exists. The cause of legalized group marriage is championed by a powerful faction of family law specialists. Influential legal bodies in both the United States and Canada have presented radical programs of marital reform. Some of these quasi-governmental proposals go so far as to suggest the abolition of marriage.”
We are living in an age marked by what philosopher John Haldane calls “erotic entitlements.” Those promoting these entitlements now demand marriage as the ultimate recognition and normalization of their relationships.
The New York Times has the right to press the case for same-sex marriage, but it does bear the responsibility to make its arguments with intellectual honesty. Just where would the paper draw the lines of rightful discrimination in marriage law, and for how long will it be willing to hold those lines?
Tags: Christ, First Epistle of John, God, Jesus, John, Mary, Sin, Stuart Townend
I’ll never forget meeting Nathan and Connie. With five sons, they loved the Lord and were busy going about His work. Suddenly, their world was decimated by an unthinkable tragedy. The three oldest boys were driving home from Wal-Mart when a drunk driver crossed the centerline, hitting them head-on. All three were killed as a result of the accident—snatched away in a cruel, horrible moment.
Connie told me that though the accident had happened three years ago, the pain was still fresh. “To this day, it’s wrenching,” she said. But then she continued, “I’ve often wondered if that’s how Mary felt when she looked at the excruciating and publicly humiliating death of Jesus as He hung on the cross.”
It’s a sobering thought. We have sung of the cross, put it on our steeples and on chains around our necks. But if we are not careful, we grow accustomed to the thought of the cross, forgetting the very real pain, real sorrow, and loss that it represents. And while we think of Mary’s agony and the torment of the cross for Jesus, I wonder if the pain wasn’t deepest in the heart of God. Think of the heartache for the One who willingly sent His only Son! No one knew more deeply what the crushing weight and torture of the sins of the world—your sins and my sins—would be like as they were embedded into the soul of the Savior. Think of how God must have felt in that moment.
The apostle John knew full well what that moment looked like. He was there at the foot of the cross, and from Christ’s words on the cross it seems apparent that he was an eyewitness to the grief of Mary (John 19:26). Years later he would describe this moment as the supreme expression of love. “This is love,” John writes, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
The marvel is not that we would love God or choose to offer our lives to Him. It is that He would choose to love us and offer His only Son on our behalf! He willingly endured that pain to bring us back into relationship with Him. This alone—even if God never did anything else for us—should stimulate our hearts to live in grateful love and adoration toward Him for the rest of our lives. The thought of this indescribable love should constantly remind us that we, though undeserving and unlovable in His sight, have been blessed beyond measure and loved like no one else could love us!
I love the words to the hymn penned by Stuart Townend (who clearly has not grown accustomed to impact of the cross):
How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Holy One, bring many sons to glory.
Keeping the cross in mind with all of its heavy, yet joyful, implications may just be the most important thing we do in life!
- Take a few minutes to read John 19, then turn back to 1 John 4:17-21. How do you think John’s experience as an eyewitness of the crucifixion affected his instruction in his epistle?
- One of John’s key instructions in the book of 1 John is that, because God loved us, we must love each other. In what ways can you better love others today because of God’s love for you?
- Perhaps you are experiencing some pain as a parent—a son or daughter who is not walking with Christ, a rift in a relationship with one of your children, a child’s extended illness, or the tragic loss of a child. Please know that you can bring that pain openly and honestly before the Father, who experienced it firsthand, and receive grace and help in your time of need.
Tags: Babel, Bible, Book of Ezekiel, Captivity (animal), God, Lord, Penuel, Psalm
There is no commentator of the Scriptures half so valuable as a captivity. The old Psalms have quavered for us with a new pathos as we sat by our “Babel‘s stream,” and have sounded for us with new joy as we found our captivity turned as the streams in the South.
The man who has seen much affliction will not readily part with his copy of the Word of God. Another book may seem to others to be identical with his own; but it is not the same to him, for over his old and tear-stained Bible he has written, in characters which are visible to no eyes but his own, the record of his experiences, and ever and anon he comes on Bethel pillars or Elim palms, which are to him the memorials of some critical chapter in his history.
If we are to receive benefit from our captivity we must accept the situation and turn it to the best possible account. Fretting over that from which we have been removed or which has been taken away from us, will not make things better, but it will prevent us from improving those which remain. The bond is only tightened by our stretching it to the uttermost.
The impatient horse which will not quietly endure his halter only strangles himself in his stall. The high-mettled animal that is restive in the yoke only galls his shoulders; and every one will understand the difference between the restless starling of which Sterne has written, breaking its wings against the bars of the cage, and crying, “I can’t get out, I can’t get out,” and the docile canary that sits upon its perch and sings as if it would outrival the lark soaring to heaven’s gate.
No calamity can be to us an unmixed evil if we carry it in direct and fervent prayer to God, for even as one in taking shelter from the rain beneath a tree may find on its branches fruit which he looked not for, so we in fleeing for refuge beneath the shadow of God’s wing, will always find more in God than we had seen or known before.
It is thus through our trials and afflictions that God gives us fresh revelations of Himself; and the Jabbok ford leads to Peniel, where, as the result of our wrestling, we “see God face to face,” and our lives are preserved. Take this to thyself, O captive, and He will give thee “songs in the night,” and turn for thee “the shadow of death into the morning.” –William Taylor
“Submission to the divine will is the softest pillow on which to recline.”
“It filled the room, and it filled my life,
With a glory of source unseen;
It made me calm in the midst of strife,
And in winter my heart was green.
And the birds of promise sang on the tree
When the storm was breaking on land and sea.”
Tags: Amen., God, Jerusalem, Jesus, Lord, Mountain, Psalm, Sierra Nevada
“You’re surrounded!” This phrase brings back memories of my childhood. On Saturday afternoons, I’d watch cop-and-robber movies on our black-and-white Motorola television. Inevitably, at some point the criminals would be holed up in some battered-down building. The cops would yell: “Come out with your hands up! You’re surrounded!” Being surrounded wasn’t a good thing for bad guys.
Psalm 125 uses the image of being surrounded in an opposite sense. The psalmist envisions Jerusalem circled with mountains, seeing in that image a picture of God’s presence and protection: “Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, both now and forever” (125:2). In this case, the announced “You’re surrounded!” is good news. It means: “You are surrounded by God. He will protect you. He will always be with you. You are safe because you are surrounded.”
I know how it feels to be surrounded by mountains. One of my favorite places in the world lies in the Sierra Nevada range of California. Little Lakes Valley is ringed with soaring, snow-capped peaks. In this valley, one feels enveloped in the strength and beauty of the mountains, a moving reminder of God’s own strength and beauty. (For more about Little Lakes Valley and a picture, check my blog today).
Do you need to feel surrounded by God today? Do you need reassurance of his presence and strength? Do you need to know that God will protect you, that your life is in his mighty, tender hands? Remember, even as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, including you.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When have you felt surrounded by God’s loving presence? What difference might it make in your life if you were to live with the assurance of God’s consistent protection? What helps you to feel “surrounded” by God?
PRAYER: O Lord, thank you for the promise of Psalm 125, and for the image of being surrounded by you even as Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains. What a reassuring and comforting picture!
Help me, Lord, to live each day with confidence in you. May I know that you are surrounding me, even when circumstances make me feel vulnerable and unsafe. Help me to trust in your presence and protection.
I think of people in my life who need to know that you are surrounding them today. So I bring before you…[fill in your own names]. May they feel secure in your presence.
I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Tags: Christ, Christian, David, God, holyspirit, Moses, Scriptures, Truth
Believing the “Unvisualizable”
Unbelief is so prevalent that I do not wish to say anything that might be interpreted as excusing it, but for all our being so slow to believe I still think that sometimes we blame ourselves for unbelief when our trouble is nothing more than inability to visualize. There are some truths set forth in the Scriptures that place a great strain upon our minds. Divine revelation assures us that certain things are true which imagination will simply not grasp. We believe them but we cannot see them in the mind’s eye. It may be pointed out here that the ease with which we grasp a truth is sure to be in exact proportion to its externality as distinguished from its internality. Biblical history, for instance, because it is all objective and external, is no problem to belief. We are sure we believe whatever is written about Moses or David or Peter because we have no trouble “seeing” it taking place, while such truths as regeneration or the divine indwelling cannot be visualized and so are more difficult for us to handle. This we should recognize as psychological, not spiritual, and stop chiding ourselves for something we have not done.