Category Archives: Morality

Another Ignorant Meme

Memes are created by the dozens everyday.  I have no idea what makes one meme go viral while others sit and rot.  But I’m convinced the anti-religious ones that go viral must do one of two things:

  1. Commit serious exegetical errors that Average Joe Christian cannot counter because the church sucks at apologetics.
  2. Commit a serious category error that Average Joe American won’t notice because he’s too busy watching horrid shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians and not busy enough learning how to think critically.

This meme goes in the second group.  I would like to point out that it is exactly the same category error discussed with the Scumbag God meme: a failure to distinguish between “kill” and “murder.”

“Kill” is a broad term that refers to the taking of lives.  Murder, on the other hand, is the unlawful taking of a life.  All murder is killing, but not all killing is murder.  For example, the following “kills” are lawful:

  1. Hunting
  2. Trapping
  3. Euthanizing sick/injured animals
  4. Butchering animals for food/by-products
  5. Killing enemy combatants
  6. Capital punishment
  7. Self-defense
  8. Defense of another who is immediate, life-threatening danger
  9. Killing a person who presents an immediate threat to the community but not directly to you (police officers only)

No comment on the fairness of those kills, but they are considered lawful in that if you clean a fish, kill an enemy soldier, shoot a horse with a broken leg, or kill to protect your child you won’t face prison time.

Murder represents a case where you killed unlawfully.  For example, if you caught your wife in bed with another guy, then beat that guy’s head in with a sharpened stick, you’re going to jail.  I’m sure that the jury would sympathize with you, mostly because there’s at least one hotheaded, possessive S.O.B. of a juror who would have done the same thing.

But that doesn’t change the legality of your action.  You still killed without a justifiable reason.  And that makes it murder.  (In the above example, if you had no “cool-down” period, it would likely be charged as manslaughter, but my point still stands that the killing is unlawful.)

Capital punishment is the right of the state, agree or disagree with it, it is still a justifiable killing.  As is killing an enemy soldier in combat; soldiers know what they’re getting in to and they know they are risking their lives when they enter the armed forces.  Same as any police officer or government Special Agent.

So, you can be pro-life, pro-war, and pro-death penalty while not earning the brand of hypocrite.  Some might say that this is special pleading, but it isn’t because I’ve shown the one exception to special pleading — the principle of relevant difference.  Lawful killing of enemy combatants and convicted murderers/traitors is vastly different than murdering a baby in the womb.

Okay, I jumped the gun a bit.  I haven’t actually proven that abortion is murder.  And that’s not my aim.  My aim is to show that not all killing is unlawful, and therefore this meme commits a serious category error.

And now, having squashed another ignorant meme, I shall enjoy a piece of Victory Gum…

Another Facebook Meme that Should be Destroyed

Wow.  Just wow.  So many things wrong with this graphic.  So many problems and inconsistencies of thought. . . .  So many half-truths and misrepresentations. . . .

Let’s just start left and travel right.  A word of warning — this is longer than my average blog post because it covers a variety of topics related to same-sex marriage.  It’s approaching 1800 words and I cut quite a bit of material out.  Be warned as you travel below the fold. . . . Read the rest of this entry

Misguided Questions About Marriage

The Facebook page Liberal Logic 101 posted the meme at the right as a satirical point about how loose definitions sometimes become in the liberal camp.

For the record, I don’t know either person and I have no idea why they matter to this picture (beyond an educated guess).  Neither looks the race claimed, but I’m guessing each claims that race.

The idea, of course, is that the liberal has a loose sense of boundaries within a category.  Marriage and race both mean something, and the liberal (says the meme’s creator) is distorting these meanings.  One commenter summed it up nicely for the liberals who missed the point in the comments:

I think the point is that they are taking a set definition and turning it on its head. A dog is not a cat no matter how much you may want it to be. Words have definitions. You can create new words to describe things, but you cant change current definitions or they become meaningless. Imagine cops trying to find a criminal described as black when he is clearly caucasion [sic].

But, there’s a further problem with the mindset of the liberal as it pertains to marriage belied by the following questions, asked by a particular commenter:

Does the definition of marriage define the relationship between you and your spouse? How will it change your marriage if gays marry? Will you divorce your spouse if gays marry? Are you guided by hatred or by love?

A question of my own: What word appears in every single question?

Answer: Some form of “you.”

Yes, the focus for the commenter is how this affects you.

But marriage isn’t defined by how its redefinition would affect any specific individual.  Marriage is marriage, nothing more or less.  There is an ontology to “marriage;” it is the joining of a man and a woman so the two become one.  Each gender needs the complimentary characteristics of the other to be whole.

The commenter’s rhetorical questions were meant to show the conservative that he has nothing to fear by letting gays marry each other, for it won’t affect him an iota.  But this is the wrong way to think.

Marriage is a divine institution, ordained by God.  It isn’t our social construction to be played with as times change.  It is to be conformed to God’s expectations — not society’s.

Just like race has a clear and unarguable meaning (not something we can define as we please), so does marriage.  We cannot take anything that is ordered in a sense by its ontology and turn it into something that pleases us.  No matter how you try to define the words, a marriage will join the genders into one.  It cannot join members of the same sex.

Answering the Contrarian, part 2: How not to Evangleize

In this article, a netizen going by “the Contrarian” presents a seriously distorted view of the gospel.  After that, he helpfully tells us Christians how not to evangelize him:

Don’t come to me telling me that you are different from ‘other’ christians, and that you represent a god of love, and that you are peaceful, intelligent and worthy of having your beliefs propagated into the legal and education system of the land. You are the very definition of a fundamentalist, and like the proverbial village idiot; you cannot see what is wrong with you, or why others think you’re nuts. !

First, I’d proudly say I’m different from other Christians.  For example:

  • I never say “Oh my God!” as an expletive.  One of the Christians I work with at a youth ministry co-op, however, uses it liberally.
  • My pastor has, in three different sermons, condemned the TV show The Big Bang Theory as something no Christian should watch.  I, however, watch it almost every night.
  • I’ve condemned gay marriage on this blog numerous times in the past.  However, I know of committed Christians who are openly homosexual.
  • I believe God is absolutely sovereign, and has planned and purposed reality to a certain end.  However, open theists (like John Sanders) believe that God has done no such thing; and in fact cannot predict the actions of humans by virtue of our free agency.

I’d never say that I represent a God of love.  The God I represent is love.

I’m peaceful.  Prove otherwise.

I’m intelligent.  People who know me know that I’m the kind of person who knows a little bit about almost everything.

As for having my beliefs propagated into the legal system, I’m afraid that many of them already are:

  1. Social programs (especially Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security) take care of “Honor your father and mother” (Ex 20:12) and they also pay homage to Deuteronomy 15:7-9.
  2. Murder (Ex 20:13) is a capital crime in most states.
  3. Theft of any sort is illegal (Ex 20:15).
  4. Perjury, obstruction of justice, and other sorts of misdirection while investigating or prosecuting a criminal case are all illegal (Ex 20:16).

Other examples could be found, but I think I’ve made my point.

Now to be charitable to the Contrarian, he’s likely referring to proposed laws to eliminate gay marriage, or laws that interfere with him buying liquor on Sundays.  He thinks that such laws are religious nonsense and have no place in a secular society.  Worse, he thinks these laws are self-evident religious nonsense; that everyone should take his word for it because “it’s obvious.”

To wit, I’d like for him to find “No alcohol sales on Sunday” in the Bible.  It isn’t there.  The only so-called blue laws still on the books are sales of alcoholic beverages, probably retained out of tradition and convenience.

You can’t legislate morality, and the Bible isn’t written with the assumption that you can.  In fact, most of the New Testament assumes the law of the land will be hostile to Christian practice — a tide that is headed this way in the United States, especially where our practice forbids gay marriage.

I agree with anyone who says gay marriage is a non-issue.  It shouldn’t be an issue at all, because it is not marriage.  Marriage is always between a man and a woman.  Variations exist (one man, many women; one woman, many men; varying numbers of men and women), but both genders always participate.

As to my beliefs being placed in the education system of the land, why not?  The atheist beliefs already are, and with quite a lot of force.  Why can mine not be shown as an alternative?  We can give fair time to other religions as well — I’m okay with that because I believe that truth always wins out.

What is the atheist scared of?  If what he offers is truth, will that not win out?  Or does the atheist think when offered a choice between religious myth and scientific truth, that religious myth always wins and society will remain unenlightened?

If so, maybe religious “myth” is true, because it is winning out!

Moving on, the Contrarian writes:

Don’t come here claiming that you are a ‘good’ or a ‘real’ christian. The better and more real a christian you are, the more inhuman, amoral, sick and twisted you are. You are a bloodthirsty beast with an inflated ego because you think your skydaddy is real and will vindicate you shortly. Dream on! If that is what sustains you, if that is what gives you purpose, then nothing in this physical world is violent, torturous, absolute, sick and offensive enough to satiate your wicked mind and your black heart!

I’m not good.  None of us are.  That’s the reason we need a Savior.  I’m not even a good Christian!  I fail all the time.

The Contrarian is going to have to expound on why a “better and more real” Christian is “inhuman, amoral, sick, and twisted.”  I don’t see it that way.  The marks of the Christian, according to the apostle Paul, are:

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:10-21)

That’s “inhuman, amoral, sick, and twisted”?  If the Contrarian’s ideal person behaves the opposite of that, then I don’t want to live in his world.

Of course, all the best bloodthirsty beasts with inflated egos try to outdo everyone showing honor, bless people who persecute them, overcome evil with good, and live peaceable with everyone as much as it depends on them.  That is why people call them “bloodthirsty beasts” — because they are so peaceable with others and easy to get along with.

The Contrarian says, “I’ll take the exploding dot and the swamp water into humans story any day!”  Why?  Simple: it makes him the star.  In this story, there is no good or evil.  He is a slave to his nature, as he would be in Christianity, but that nature is neither good nor evil because it cannot be (by definition).  Therefore, he doesn’t have to face judgment for being who he is.

Theism isn’t the crutch.  Atheism is — atheism is comfortable because there is no ultimate accountability.  Which brings us back to my (apparently sick, in the Contrarian’s eyes) belief that God is real and will vindicate me shortly.

Vindicate me for what, exactly?

The world has wronged God, not me.  He will vindicate himself and take his wrath on the wicked — those who persist in their unbelief in his Son.  I deserve every bit of that wrath as well, but I have been protected by the blood of my Savior.  It’s nothing I did to get to heaven.  And I will not rejoice over the lost.

If this is the Contrarian’s understanding of the gospel, then no wonder he’s an atheist.  That’s as distorted as it gets.  He needs to buckle back down and read that Book he despises so much.  Only this time, maybe he should take the time to understand it.

Randomness from Yahoo! Answers, part 3

To let people know that I’m here and still blogging, I have taken on the top three results from Yahoo! Answers on the search phrase “Does God exist?”  The third question, from user Iason Ouabache, “How does the fact that I exist prove that there is a God?”

In another question someone said “the fact that you exist proves that there is a God”. And then he called me silly. How does my existence prove that God exists? And how does this prove that the specific Christian god exists? Doesn’t my existence just prove that I exist?

Right, Iason, the fact that you exist proves only that you exist.  However, it raises the question of why you exist.

Think of reality as a box that contains us.  We can’t see beyond the borders of the box.  We can only see what’s inside the box.  However, outside the box is a whole world of possibilities that we can’t see with our eyes, but can perceive with our mind by looking at what we see in the box.

We can know what is outside the box by looking at what is inside the box.

Put another way, we are imprisoned in Plato’s Cave.  We are chained, looking at a cold, gray wall that has dancing shadows on it.  We can figure out a lot about the shadows, and a little bit about what causes the shadows, by studying the shadows.

Now let’s say that someone breaks his chains and is able to walk outside Plato’s Cave.  Suddenly, he sees for himself the majesty of reality.  He sees what was causing the shadows on the wall, those imperfect copies of reality, as reality.  His first instinct is to go back in the cave and free as many people as possible.

Alas, most people are content to stare at the wall.

I call those people “naturalists.”  They don’t think anything is casting the shadows; they think that the shadows are all that exist.

Naturalists are only looking inside that box we talked about earlier.  They do not consider that which we cannot prove — the elements outside the box that are hinted (copied or shadowed) by items we find in the box.  They don’t even think that these “shadows” hint at anything.

Surmising what is outside the box by looking at what is inside the box is the branch of philosophy known as metaphysicsOur thoughts on metaphysics shape our thoughts on the natural world.

You, as a human being, and your inherent worth and intricate design flow from God.  You are not evidence of God, but you are a hint that he is there — one hint among many in the created world.

What happens without God?  Since our metaphysics shape our thoughts of the natural world, the thoughts of the theist differ wildly from the thoughts of the atheist.  And, I might add, the thoughts of the atheist (though perfectly logical based on his metaphysics, or lack thereof) are outright disturbing.

  1. The notion of “inherent worth as a human being” is tossed out the window.  We are one animal among many, we just so happen to be smart and self-aware.  But, there’s no reason that we shouldn’t behave as animals.  Sexuality, therefore, shouldn’t be a slave to morality.  The animals have sex with whomever they want, whenever they want.
  2. Building on the first, morality itself is invalid.  Morality is a universal idea, abstract in nature, and that would exist outside the box.  Nothing exists outside the box.  All we have are particulars — the ever-changing ethics of various societies.  When the theist refers to rape or torture or abortion as issues of morality, that’s nonsense.  There are no morals, for nothing exists outside the box.  Therefore, any of those things (yes, even rape) could be considered ethically valid in the right circumstances.  [Don’t believe me?  Peter Singer justifies cold-blooded murder here.]
  3. The idea of design becomes ludicrous.  If there were a designer, there would be no design flaws like an appendix or a tail bone or a hanging scrotum that incapacitates the person kicked in it.  Offensive body odor?  Gone.  Hair and toenails?  Not necessary.  These “flaws” are not viewed as the best possible trade-offs, rather as evidence of evolution by natural selection.

So, what are we to do here?  As Schaeffer pointed out, nothing finite is of value without an infinite reference point.  We are finite, and therefore have no inherent worth or value unless we have something infinite to point at.  That means starting with God is the only valid starting point.  Starting with naturalism in the absence of God leads to chaos and immorality.

The REAL Christian Delusion

[Christians] need to wake up from the illusion that the America we now live in – not the America of our nostalgia or imagination or best ideals, but the real America we live in here and now – is somehow friendly to our faith. What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV. And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.

— Archbishop Charles Chaput

Beatitudes, part 5: Blessed are the Merciful

The first four Beatitudes identify felt needs as virtues:  the poor, the mourning, the meek, and the hungry.  The next three identify states of character as virtues.

The first is mercy; the merciful will receive mercy.

Some people think that mercy is not meting out a deserved punishment.  Not so.  Mercy is more akin to gratitude.  “Lord, have mercy,” is better understood as “Lord, continue to be gracious with us.”  That’s why the KJV renders “mercy” as “loving-kindness.”

This has to do with the honor-shame society of the Bible and the satisfaction of personal debts.  Taking the high road with people who owe you something is a virtue that God loves (see Mt 6:15-15; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:35; Eph 4:32).

Jesus told the story of a wealthy landowner who demanded payment of a huge debt from one of his servants (see Mt 18:23-35).  The servant didn’t have it, so the landowner forgave the debt completely.  Later, that same servant demanded payment of a far smaller debt from a fellow servant.  When the second servant couldn’t comply, the first had him thrown into prison.  The landowner then ordered the first service imprisoned.  Jesus said that if we do not forgive the debts of others, then God will not forgive the one we have with him.

Forgiving others, having mercy on the undeserving are all rooted in God’s character.  The real idea of Christianity is to transform us, no to leave us to enjoy the pleasures of this world.  We are adopted as sons of God, and he does so to mold us into the image of his Son.  Therefore, having mercy on others as God has had mercy on us is a sign of that transformation.

Beatitudes, part 3: Blessed are the Meek

The Beatitudes celebrate as virtues that which we would not necessarily consider virtues.  The poor in spirit inherit heaven.  The mourning will be comforted.

The meek shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:5).

What is “meek?”  It is the Greek word πραυσ, which gives us a sense of humility, teachability, and gentleness.  According to the NET Bible:

Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. (Isa 41:17, Lu 18:1-8)

The NET Bible tells us what πραυσ is not:

Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will. (Ga 5:23)

Some may consider this uncritical obedience to a tyrant, but that isn’t it at all.  It’s better to think of this as surrender to a perfectly good higher power — and the one who so surrenders already accepts that God is perfectly good.

The existence of God is self-evident from nature (see Rom 1), but the goodness of God is not.  God’s eternal power and divine nature are clearly perceived in that which is made; however, it takes a special revelation (the Bible) to reveal the perfect goodness of God.  This means that the meek person that has surrendered his will to God’s own has already done the investigation necessary to conclude that God is worth surrendering to.

This Beatitude also calls to mind many verses of inheritance (Ps 37:9, 11, 22, 29, 34; Is 60:21), but none are as obviously tied to this verse as Psalm 25.  Let’s take a snip:

Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.  He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.  All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.  Who is the man who fears the Lord?  Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.  His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. (Ps 25:8-13)

Notice the theme of surrendering, in humility, to one who is perfectly good and will unerringly guide the sinner on the correct path.  This is the sort of person who will inherit the earth, the one who recognizes his separation from God and then depends on God for his righteousness rather than his own empty works.

What a Glorious Choice!

It is January 22, the anniversary of the worst Supreme Court decision ever — the decision granting a woman the right to kill her unborn baby in the womb as a matter convenience.  This day is used by NARAL to celebrate this grotesque choice, and they encourage bloggers and tweeters to  talk about the woman’s right to “choose.”

But what are these women really getting to “choose?”

Abortion advocates say that this “choice” advances the cause of womankind and empowers the woman with freedom over her own body.  She is no longer a slave, she doesn’t have to be forced to surrender her vital organs to sustain something she may not have wanted in the first place.

So, those who hold the unopposed power of life and death over another human being are justified in using that power to kill someone who is a mere inconvenience?

Let’s get real.  As much as the pro-abortion crowd likes to belly-ache about situations like rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother, few abortions are actually performed for those reasons.  Most abortions are performed for convenience.  An unexpected pregnancy might be detrimental to the plans of the woman and/or man who would be the parents of the resulting child, so they kill the child.  It’s as simple as that.

Or the child is the wrong sex.

Or the child has a deformity or has the markers for a mental handicap.

This means that most women who have abortions are doing so out of selfish reasons.

An old episode of He-man and the Masters of the Universe illustrated this exact situation, with fantasy elements (of course).  In this episode, Skeletor (the villain) has learned the location of the Starseed.  This artifact is a piece of the singularity that resulted in the Big Bang — and whoever possesses it has the power of God.  Total omniscience along with omnipotence.

Let’s see what happens when He-man and Skeletor battle to possess it:

Do you agree that He-man made the correct decision?

Holding the power of life and death over another person in your hand and not using it is far more powerful than using it.  In the cartoon here, as well as in real life, holding someone’s life in your hands and ending it is always an evil act.

Reality check for my fellow pro-lifers: Our side makes a big deal about electing only pro-life officials to Congress or the Presidency, over getting the right mix of Justices in the Supreme Court to overthrow Roe v. Wade.  The government isn’t where we are going to win the battle, nor where we are going to make the greatest impact.  It is with this power of choice.

The powerful testament to He-man’s character in that clip comes from the fact that he has the power to obliterate Skeletor, but he chooses not to.  For all his evil scheming, Skeletor surely deserves nothing less than annihilation.  However, He-man chooses to preserve Skeletor’s life — and when faced with the chance to kill his greatest enemy he reacts with mercy and forgiveness.

As Zodac points out, He-man’s refusal to use the power of the universe for selfish gain demonstrated his goodness.

Pregnancy is a responsibility handed to the pregnant woman by God, and abortion is the coward’s way to duck that responsibility.  How much of a testament to a woman’s character would it be if she were in dire straits, became pregnant, had the option of aborting the child, yet still chose life for her unborn child?

The battle for abortion won’t be won in sweeping, preventative legislation.  It will be won in the trenches with individual women, one choice by life-affirming choice at a time.

Scripture Saturday: Who Conceives Evil? (Ps 7:14)

Recently a commenter going by Patrick asked me, regarding this article, if it mattered whether God created calamity or evil.  He wondered if that was just semantics.

Well, no, it isn’t just semantics.  Evil here means “moral evil.”  If God created moral evil, then he cannot be good by any definition of the term.  A perfectly good God could not look back on his creation and say it was “good” if he had created moral evil.

On the other hand, “calamity” is neither this nor that.  It’s a force of nature, neutral.  In the hands of a righteous God, argues Clay Jones, calamity is a powerful call to repentance.

So for this Scripture Saturday Sunday (better late than never, right?), I wanted to take a peek at Psalm 7 to determine just who creates “moral evil.”  The answer is in verse 14:

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies.

This verse describes a potentiality — the potential to sin.  It all begins with the will to evil; a desire to commit mischief and that gives birth to lies.  James, the brother of our Lord, explains it this way:

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (Jms 1:15)

So the desire is our own, not the fault of God.  The desire, having taken root, produces the sin.  Sin, fully realized, is death.  That’s why God takes all of this so seriously — and why we should, too!  But, alas, Francis Schaeffer was right to observe “. . . that none of us in our generation feels as guilty about sin as we should or as our forefathers did.”