Friday, August 14, 2015

No Ten Commandments... No Medicaid

It has been sad to note the increasing intolerance to religion in our country, particularly toward Christianity. The state of Oklahoma is currently embattled in a desperate attempt to keep a granite statue of the Ten Commandments on their state house grounds. Their state supreme court ruled the statue as being unconstitutional because it is using state money to benefit a religion. The decision is currently being challenged, but the outcome of the Ten Commandments is still uncertain. There could be many non-religious arguments made to keep the statue on site, not the least of which is the fact that the Ten Commandments has been a basis of law for cultures for millenia and therefore has historical significance, but I wish to take this issue right to the heart of the state vs. religion issue.

Those who would argue for a separation of church and state and freedom of religion have effectively moved beyond these premises and now are pushing for freedom "from" religion. It is not enough to ensure the government will never endorse a Christian denomination (the issue at stake in the letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists where the phrase "wall of separation of church and state" is actually found), but now we must make sure that government is completely washed of religion. No influence whatsoever. This seems to be what liberals want: to have no intersection between religion (particularly Christian religion) and the state. The first amendment to the Constitution states that, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The basic language used and the intent it represents means that the government will never establish a country-wide denomination (as had been done in England over which bloody wars had been fought just 100 years earlier) or religion that it requires people to adhere to or participate in. It also promises that people will be able to practice their religion freely, without the government censuring their pulpits or disbanding their churches (again, as had been done in England earlier). However, this protection of the people was never meant to be license for the government or special interest groups to reduce the people's right to express their religion in all spheres of life, including government and politics. The very concept of no religion or no God actually is a religion they are trying to push down our throats. It is atheism.

In fact, liberals don't want us to repress our religion. They may think they do, but if they really stopped and thought through the full implications of what they push for, they would realize their attack on religion is ridiculous. They want religious people to take office and to make decisions based upon their religious beliefs. They really do. They may rant that this is not so, but it is. They may say to "leave religion out of it," but I guarantee that this is not what they want. The very idea that they have a voice and a right to be heard is a religious one. It is a Christian one, I would argue. The Christian religion states that all mankind were made in God's image and therefore have value. If a person has value then what they say must have value as well. Therefore, it is important that a government not restrict free speech. OK liberals, no religion, then you have no right to speak. Also flowing out of the idea that all men were created in God's image is the idea that all men are created equal. If all are in God's image, then no one kind of person is better or superior to another. This is a Christian idea. Racial issues find their solution in Christianity. OK liberals, no religion, then which ever ethnic group can battle their way to the top has every right to dominate the others. Another big issue is the idea of giving. I don't know about you, but the naturally giving person is the exception, not the rule of society. Most people have what they have and do not give much thought to the needy child or the aging population. There is not a line of people waiting to give money at every soup kitchen or homeless shelter. That is not something we just naturally do, but religion informs us about the need to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. All the major religions speak of the importance of giving. Most assign it as a duty. Christianity teaches that giving should not be from a duty but from a cheerful or willing spirit. It is the religious nature of our country that has taught us to care for those in need. OK liberals, no religion, then no medicare or medicaid, food stamps, or any other government aid. Liberals, if they are honest, do not want people or politicians to leave their religion in their homes or places of worship. They want us to exercise our religion and to express it politically.

We as a country need to be very careful what we ask for. If we truly want a country devoid of the influence of the Ten Commandments in our politics, we very well may get such a country. I don't know about you, but I do not want to live some place where human life, speech, and need among others are completely ignored and suppressed.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Images of God in the Making

This post originally occurred as a comment here:

Let me first get out of the way the fact that any woman who is going to die or is in incredible risk of dying because of their current pregnancy should have the pregnancy terminated. I think every action should be taken to save both the mother and the unborn child, but when one has to be chosen, sadly the little one will have to go on into eternity. I think this is most consistent with God’s love of life in Scripture.

That being said, we have a fundamentally wrong view of life in general. What are we here for? To have a good, happy, successful life, free of hardship and suffering? Is that the point? To make sure we get our best life now? Are we supposed to make sure that no tragedies or hardships ever come our way, and if they do, make sure and do everything you can to get rid of them? NO! An absolute NO!

What did Jesus say about this life? “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. “After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14:21-22. Right now, during this life, we should expect it to be hard. We should expect suffering. We should not be seeking to have our best life now. That is for the next life. Suffering now; best life later. People speak of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy or even a tragic pregnancy as a hard thing and so that is a legitimate reason to terminate it. Before we even get to the fact that we are talking about babies, let’s put this “hard” thing in context. What about other people who are suffering who cannot abort their hardship? What about the soldier who had his legs blown up and subsequently amputated? Where is his right to terminate his lameness? What about the patient diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and only has months to live? Do they get the right to terminate their doomsday? What about the little girl whose daddy committed suicide when she was only 11? Does she get to terminate her dad-less and question-stained life of suffering? The point is everyone suffers, at least at some point in their life. Many of them have no legitimate way of alleviating their suffering. I am not saying that we should abstain from alleviating suffering when we can. That was a huge part of Jesus’ ministry, and we would do well to mimic it. However, a situation that is perceived as hard and as “suffering” does not automatically qualify it as a situation that should be terminated. Sometimes, God in His eternal plan, calls us to suffer without the suffering being taken away.

So the question comes up: should an unwanted, unplanned, or even tragic pregnancy be terminated because it is hard, a form of suffering? I think the Biblical answer is no. “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. “As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” Genesis 9:5-7. This passage teaches that God takes life very seriously. He takes seriously the life of animals, and the life of man. Why is the life of man so important? Because he is made in the image of God. God’s image is so important that not only should it not be killed, but it should be propagated in the world.

So when it comes to abortion, when it comes to that hard pregnancy, what would God say about ending the formation of His image?

For the unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, please, do not let yourself begin to think negatively about the image of God being formed in the womb. While it may truly be hard or inconvenient, or possibly embarrassing, please do not group yourself in the suffering of those who truly suffer and cannot do a thing about it. For those people who have been raped, this truly is a much harder matter, and while I may have been less gentle in my words previously, let me now say with all the gentleness and sympathy I can muster: I am so sorry for your suffering, for you truly have been wronged and have some serious consequences in your life that were not of your choosing. My heart goes out to you, and my wish for you like the lame soldier or the stage 4 cancer patient is that this hard thing might be taken away from you. Yet, even in this hard thing, God has said that to those who love Him, all things work out together for good, even this little life in you that you did not ask for. That little child did not choose this either, but the child is still there, being formed into the image of God. Do we even in this situation destroy that image in the making? Again, if we are talking about a child that has been raped and the pregnancy is putting her life in danger, then that child who is in the image of God must be protected. But in other cases, the worst tragedy that we could think of may result in the beginning of life. Just like in other horrible tragedies that God brings good out of, could this not also be the same? Even that little life is innocent and should be protected. It’s an image of God in the making.

Abortion is not a complicated issue. It only becomes so when we have elevated our personal plan for happiness over God’s plan for our life, and the life of a child, an image of God in the making.