Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tolerance and Double Standards

In May 2013, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery owned/operated by the Klein family and located in Gresham, Oregon, was forced to close its business. This was the end result of a series of unfortunate events that all started when the bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple due to the Kleins’ Christian convictions. What ensued was a truly stunning travesty in American culture. The lesbian couple filed a complaint with the state of Oregon and the story went viral. It was covered by numerous media outlets. Then, a concerted boycott was orchestrated whereby other wedding vendors were threatened if they dared to do business with Sweet Cakes. Since weddings are what carried their business financially, the bakery had to close its doors. But that is not where the story ends. The owners moved the business to their home to try to continue to feed their family of five children. However, the aggressive boycott campaign insidiously followed them all the way to their family residence.

Is this what tolerance looks like? Does anyone truly believe good-willed Christians deserve to be treated this way? I thought we were supposed to "live and let live." How hard would it have been for this particular couple to just buy a cake somewhere else? Does the "punishment" fit the "crime" here? Is the Klein family not entitled to their Constitutionally protected religious views and convictions? Are they not entitled to run their business how they choose as long as it is within reason? What if the inverse were true? What if Christians aggressively boycotted gay-owned businesses just because they were gay and/or expressed their views about homosexuality? What if a gay-owned bakery was famous for baking cakes for gay ceremonies? Would a concerted boycott by those who disagree be viewed as tolerant? If not, then how is the assault on the Kleins any different? Proverbs 20:10 says, "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord." In other words, God hates double standards. Shouldn't we all? In fact, tolerance and double standards can't rationally coexist in the same sentence.

The truth is that it is the activist gay community that is largely intolerant today. Sure, churches preach from pulpits what God told us in His Word. There are only a handful of churches that are extremely obnoxious, but they don’t represent the majority. The vast majority of Christians are reasonable and don’t actively boycott and harass homosexuals. Sadly, the same can’t be said of a majority of activist homosexuals and their advocates. If we are all to follow a certain playbook on tolerance in public actions, shouldn’t we all do so? Are groups tolerant if they boycott Christians, but Christians are intolerant if they do the same?

In America, business owners have every right to deny business to any patron for religious reasons as long as it is reasonable. No business, especially a sole proprietorship, can be required to serve patrons who ask them to violate their religious beliefs. That is discrimination on the part of religious people, but that is not unhealthy or illegal discrimination. And, before you are tempted to criticize the word “discrimination,” remember that homosexuals were certainly discriminating against the Kleins and in a far more damaging fashion than being denied a cake. It is not a crime to discriminate especially for religious reasons. That is what the Constitution specifically protects. It is also not a crime for groups to launch a sophisticated boycott. However, it is hypocritical for groups to boycott in the name of tolerance. In fact, as pro-homosexual communities continue their rampant assaults upon Christians and the Church, they prove the very point that they claim to oppose.

For those attacking the church for discrimination, isn’t boycotting a business to the point of closure discrimination? For those attacking Christians because their beliefs are contrary to yours, isn’t that the same as Christians discriminating against homosexuals? Why do you have the right to discriminate and attack Christians, but Christians don’t have the right to discriminate based upon their religious beliefs and practices? If attacking homosexuals is an act of hatred, isn't attacking Christians an act of hatred? For those preaching tolerance, how is attacking Christians for being intolerant, tolerant? If being tolerant is worthy of attacking, shouldn’t you be also attacking yourselves?

If you want true guidelines on tolerance in the Klein situation, here it is: if a business that is owned and run by religious people reasonably abstains from serving a patron because that patron is asking them to violate their religious beliefs, that patron should simply (and easily) find another vendor. That’s it. That is what it means to "live and let live." Otherwise, to condone the discrimination and persecution against Christians is equivalent to discrimination and persecution against homosexuals. Imagine a country where Christians are not allowed to be devout to their beliefs as they run their businesses for fear of persecution, reprisal, boycott and bankruptcy. 

Sadly, this is far from an isolated case. Today, the Obama administration is actively suing Hobby Lobby, another Christian owned and operated company, because they refuse to pay for contraception under Obamacare in violation of their Constitutional rights. What's worse in that case is that Obama is out of one side of his mouth handing out Obamacare exemptions to himself, labor unions and his cronies. Then out of the other side of his mouth he is denying an exemption to Hobby Lobby and suing them for their religious beliefs. Is there any more clear example of a double standard? Aren't all of these examples the very things that pro-homosexual groups should be against? While we are on the subject, the only difference between the rights of Christians and the rights of homosexuals is that the rights of the Christians are explicitly spelled out in the Constitution (and are being violated) and the rights that activist homosexuals are militantly advocating are not.

All of that said, the Klein story has a silver lining. In spite of what has happened to them, the Kleins have graciously shown no ill will towards their harassers. They are at peace with what has happened. And, the ordeal has increased their faith. They took a stand . . . a righteous stand. And, they paid dearly for it. Every Christian should be prepared to graciously follow their powerful example and do the same.

Sadly, this is where America is headed. Our destination is intolerance of religion, unless that religion glorifies homosexuality, abortion and hedonism. Our destination, therefore, is a new "tolerance" characterized by a double standard that tolerates wrong and is intolerant of right. How’s that for sadly and dangerously ironic?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who Needs Jesus?

On September 11, 2013, Pope Francis wrote an open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. He said, “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience . . . Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.” Keep in mind that this was an open letter written by the Pope. Therefore, these words were consciously crafted.

If the Pope has Biblical conviction about what he said, then I have a few questions that are begged by his positions. If atheists don’t need Jesus, then who needs Jesus? If you can get to heaven without believing then why was Jesus crucified? If Jesus took the punishment for all of our sin, but we can circumvent His sacrifice, then what is the point of His sacrifice? If we can circumvent punishment then who needs a sacrifice? When Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” was He lying? This is an attempt, intentional or not, by a fallen man to diminish the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I even go as far as to say that this is an abject denial of scripture. There is no revelation by man that supersedes scripture. Notice how the Pope did not even offer one verse to back up his claims. That is because there is none.

On a side note, he even got the definition of sin wrong. Sin is not when you disobey your conscience. Sin is when you disobey God. Our conscience is not our God. Conscience is what our fallen flesh received when we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Our flesh was still fallen even after receiving a conscience. In fact, our conscience is far from perfect. Our conscience can be seared (1Timothy 4:2). Therefore, while our conscience is helpful, it is not failsafe. It is possible to obey your conscience and still sin. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So to give anyone hope based upon obeying their conscience is woefully false hope.

The Pope would be well served by taking heed of Galatians 1:6-10 where Paul wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Let’s apply this passage to the Pope’s assertions in the form of some pointed questions:

  • Isn’t the Pope “deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel”?
  • Isn’t the Pope acting as “some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ”?
  • Isn’t the Pope preaching here “a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you”?
  • Isn’t Paul declaring for someone who does that, “let him be accursed”? For emphasis, Paul went out of his way to repeat this warning, which Paul rarely does in his many writings.
  • Isn’t the Pope “seeking the approval of man”?
  • Isn’t the Pope “trying to please man”?
  • When the Pope does that, in doing so isn’t he “not [being] a servant of Christ”?

When anyone claims to be speaking for God, but attempts to diminish the Gospel of Jesus, he has lied to himself and to those he seeks to influence. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we as followers of Christ are called to defend. That is the sole thing that we are to risk our lives for. The Gospel is what we are supposed to represent and proclaim. And, by us the Gospel must never be diminished. The Pope is a man and he has shown himself to be fallible and to misrepresent the Gospel of Jesus. Therefore, what if my conscience is screaming at me to denounce the Pope’s words? Well, I’m just obeying my conscience, so he should have no problem with it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Abortion & The Ultimate Identity Theft

Identity theft has become a prevalent crime problem in the US over the past few decades. According to the US Bureau of Justice statistics, in 2010, 7% of US households experienced identity theft. In 2003 the estimated cost of damages to businesses and consumers was approximately $52.6 billion. Identity theft is a form of using the name or identity of another person in order to access resources to the benefit of the perpetrator.  This problem is probably not going away any time soon because identity theft, like most crime problems, is a moral problem first. For that reason it is nothing new.

While the term “identity theft” was first coined in 1964, the practice dates back even to the time of Jacob. In Genesis 27 we see one of the earliest references to identity theft. This chapter records how Jacob disguised himself and used the name and identity of his brother, Esau, in order to access Esau’s blessing from their blind father, Isaac. This was probably not the first time this type of thing happened inside God’s family and it won’t be the last. In fact, in churches today, there is a rampant practice of the worst kind of identity theft, which is the theft of God’s identity.

God foresaw this and addressed it in the third of His 10 Commandments as recorded in Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” The Hebrew word for “vain” is “shav,” which means emptiness, falsehood, and worthlessness. It is the root from which we get the word, vanity. Most people in the church seem to narrowly define taking God’s name in vain as strictly referring to saying, “Oh my God” or abusing His name as foul language. However, ancient Hebrew custom would show us that this command is meant to address so much more than that.

In ancient Israel, the Jews took this command so seriously, that they refused to write God’s name, Yahweh, without removing the vowels as “YHWH.” And, when a false prophet claimed to speak in the name of God, but was found to be false, he was stoned to death. These are the types of examples that shed light on what God was referring to in His command. Especially the latter example is one of using God’s name for personal vanity. Yes, it is not advisable to use God’s name flippantly or for cursing. But, the worst way to use God’s name in vain is to broadcast to others that you represent God and then distort God’s own words to mean something that He clearly never said or meant to say. This is even more grotesque when a church or an individual stands to gain from the practice. This is using God’s name in and for vanity.

Over the past several years, I have been shocked and dismayed by the number of “churches” and “Christians” who claim they represent God while defending the things that God most hates. Out of one side of a given pastor’s mouth come selected words from the Bible. And out of the other side of the mouth, that same pastor defends abortion on demand. I have even read church websites that publish long position statements for how they arrived at such a distorted defense. Of course, in their long statements, there is very little scripture referenced but excessive human reasoning. How can a church or Christian support such distortions of God’s name? How is it even remotely possible that they are speaking for God? I submit to you that they are not.

Solomon is well-known as the wisest man that ever lived besides Jesus Himself. In Solomon’s Ecclesiastes 11:5 he wrote the profound words, “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” We know from modern science that bones typically begin forming in week nine of the pregnancy when the baby is still smaller than a prune. While the world debates when life begins, God is the only one who has the ultimate right to choose. Life is borne of spirit. And, from the mouth of God Himself through the instrument of Solomon, God revealed that it is He who adds spirit to the bones of a child in the womb. Solomon is basically revealing that there is no more clear display of our lack of understanding God than when we exhibit a lack of understanding the source of life in the womb. Solomon is saying that our knowledge of God’s work is directly correlative with our knowledge of His creation in the womb.

If you want a front row seat to watching God’s hand actually and literally creating, watch a sonogram. The creation and re-creation of man is God’s greatest work. Therefore, babies being formed in the womb is the hands-on work of God Himself. To deny this most obvious display of breathtaking magnificence is the absolute depth of depravity. If anyone or any church attempts to deny the work of God in the womb to any extent (including rationalizing abortion on demand), they stand opposed to the knowledge of the God of the Bible. And, if any church publicly attempts to preach in the name of God, but denies the work of God to any degree in defense of abortion on demand, they are most guilty of taking God’s name in vain. They do not know the work of the very God they claim to know. And they make such perverted claims in pursuit of vanity.

Sacrificing children always leads to complete downfall. And, America has sacrificed over 50 million. How can we judge ancient kings who threw just a few of their babies into sacrificial fires when we have forfeited the moral high ground to them? The enemy of God always seeks to undo what God does. Killing life that God is hand crafting in the womb under our watchful eyes is a blatant attempt to undo God’s work. This is an act of violent vanity in league with God’s enemy. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

It is ironic that the US Supreme Court fabricated the right to kill unborn children into the Constitution by means of inserting it into the totally unrelated “Privacy Clause.” This was judicial activism where unelected people write laws without the consent or representation of the governed. But, this judicial activism can attempt all they wish to expand the right to privacy as far as sanctioning the killing of unborn children. But, nobody can expand our privacy from God because there is no such thing. Nothing we do can be kept secret from His eyes, especially behind the disguise of a pulpit.

To this end, I have some closing remarks by way of scripture to those who claim the name of God yet deny to any extent His work in the womb. Solomon closed out Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 by saying, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Paul similarly addressed the church that he founded in Corinth when it started also using God’s name in vain. In 2 Corinthians 10:18 Paul said, “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” Churches and Christians today who defend abortion on demand to any extent would be better served by repentance. They should repent from worshiping political correctness in exchange for the vanity of expanding their congregations, all at the expense of God’s identity. And Paul closed out his address in 2 Corinthians 11:12-15, “And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

Take heed to the words of God!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Neanderthals Were Not So “Neanderthal”

Geico is a leading insurance company that owes much of its popularity to its clever commercials. Of course their most popular commercial icon is the talking gecko lizard. And, probably their second most popular icon is the offended caveman. The cavemen characters were even launched into an unsuccessful television sitcom. The tag line of the caveman commercials is that switching to Geico is "So easy a caveman can do it.” The commercials usually feature one or more cavemen in a modern day setting conducting their lives as intelligent humans. Then, when they see the advertisement with this tagline, they become visibly offended. These commercials are funny. But, unintentionally, they are displaying a truth that is becoming more and more supported by emerging archaeological evidence.

It is widely believed in scientific circles that Neanderthals (technical name for what we often refer to as cavemen) were a subspecies of humans characterized by primitive lack of intelligence. It is also widely believed that they arose and started their decline towards extinction before the rise of modern humans. This belief is so far reaching that even in our present culture, the noun Neanderthal has been converted into an adjective used to ridicule people for being ignorant, even in commercials. But, does available evidence match up with this widely held belief?

In a paper published in August 2013, by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers outlined their discovery of four fragments of bone made by Neanderthals in southwestern France that were apparently used as lissoirs, or smoothers, for making animal hides tougher and more water resistant. Similar tools are being used by leather workers today. Contrary to widely held beliefs, this discovery provides “evidence that Neanderthals may have independently made specialized bone tools.” The paper went on to admit that the find “confirms that there is still much we don't know about them.” Rachel Wood, an archaeologist and researcher in radiocarbon dating at the Australian National University, added, “It’s adding to a growing body of research, that’s growing quite rapidly at the moment, that’s showing that Neanderthals are capable and did produce tools ... in a way that is much more similar to modern humans.”

Scientists are forced to begin asking new questions about whether and for how long Neanderthals and modern humans co-existed. This find confounds the widely held beliefs about the timing of emergence of Neanderthals, their level of intelligence, and the timing of their extinction.

In a prior post (X-Men and The Missing Link) I outlined Dr. Jack Cuozzo’s analysis of all known Neanderthal skulls. Not only did Cuozzo find these skulls to be human, but he is the only one to note that one of the skulls even has a tooth that had apparently been sharpened by tools. This coupled with the evidence from this recent publication consistently point to the same twofold conclusion. First, there is no conclusive evidence that Neanderthals were subhuman. Second, all of the evidence that does exist suggests that Neanderthals were in fact intelligent humans. Contrary conclusions are speculation or fiction without evidentiary proof.

So why is this fiction allowed to persist even in scientific circles in spite of the evidence? That is because the scientific community at large swears allegiance to a biased agenda over The Scientific Method. The facts as we are learning are inconvenient for a community largely Hell-bent on denying the existence of God. In spite of constant claims that God is not physically available to study, they still have a constant fixation to make denying conclusions about Him. The belief that Neanderthals are ignorant sub-humans fits the agenda of their religion of human emergence by means of Godless evolution. Ironically, this conclusion is also not physically available to study. But, there is a huge problem with their agenda. The evidence opposes it. The proverbial Geico cavemen have every right to be offended because they are being lied about.

Ephesians 4:17-18 says, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” It is hardness of heart that leads to blinding ignorance. And, it is the truest form of ignorance to “ignore” facts in order to propagate a fictional agenda. Isn’t it ironic that the very community that “ignores” archaeological facts about Neanderthals are usually the first to label Christians as ignorant?

In conclusion, I ask, in light of the growing body of evidence supporting the true intelligence of Neanderthals, should we expect mass revisions to our biology text books? Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath for that.