Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Election 2016: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

This is the most difficult election to watch unfold in my memory. I don’t say this because of the nastiness of the election, because every election that I can recall was nasty. I share this observation because this year I am observing far too many people willing to forsake wisdom that most if not all people would agree is universally sound. Even more difficult is to observe this in the outward expressions of those I call “brother” and “sister” – Christians. How many of us have done any of the following?:

  • Hurled personal insults or epithets at candidates and/or their followers
  • Hurled condemning judgments and condemnations at fellow believers
  • Subscribed to politically shallow sound bites from the left
  • Valued words over actions
  • Argued for theocracy
  • Supported pro-abortion platforms
  • Jumped on narrow bandwagons characterized by hashtags

Christians, we are better than this. But, the most subtle of the above infractions that troubles me to the point of writing this post, is the one in the middle of that list. Christians (and non-Christians) are falling for the absurdity of valuing words far above actions. Isn’t that the epitome of political correctness? Isn’t that the essence of actual incorrectness? It has always been true that actions speak louder than words. In fact, 1 John 3:18 says, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” That is pretty clear – talk is cheap. In fact, it would probably be very difficult to find one person who would disagree with the axiom that actions speak louder than words … until the topic of this election arises.

So here we are – the nominees are practically settled. The battle is as narrowed as it can be. And, on what basis are we evaluating these finalists? We are largely evaluating them based upon what they say and ignoring what they actually do. For the most part, we are valuing words over actions. Too many of us will either overtly curse Donald Trump or align with those who do simply on the basis of what he has said (or in some cases on what we have been deceived into believing he said even though he didn’t). Meanwhile, we don’t apply the same standards in actions (or in words) against Hillary Clinton. For example, which is worse, that Trump called Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” (which we don’t defend) or that Clinton enabled her husband as a sexual predator to forcefully violate many women, even in the White House, followed by her helping him destroy their characters in public? Do you see the contrast? Is there really any comparison whatsoever? On a side note, isn’t it hypocrisy for us to hurl curses at Trump or his followers while decrying Trump for hurling curses? Should curses even be in the Christian vocabulary? I digress. Allow me to share more of the contrasting valuing of words over actions in 2016:

  • We curse Trump for dehumanizing “anchor babies” by referring to them as “anchor babies”, while Clinton dehumanizes unborn babies to literal brutal killings after nine months of gestation in everything she does on the subject
  • We curse Trump for racist comments (even though they are not actually racist), while the policies of Clinton (and Obama) have damaged racial minorities more than any others before them
  • We curse Trump for bombastic and narcissistic rhetoric, while we ignore Clinton for actually lying to the American people in covering up deaths of Americans that they failed to protect, even to the faces of the families of the fallen
  • We curse Trump for talking disrespectfully to the media, while we ignore Clinton and Obama ignoring the will of the people and denying their Constitutional right to political speech (e.g., denying Tea Party non-profits tax-exempt status)
  • We curse Trump for speaking in a manner that disrespects the law, while we ignore Clinton for actually breaking the law by committing felonies against Congress requiring an FBI criminal investigation
  • We curse Trump for being honest about donating to politicians for business favors, while we ignore that Clinton actually increased her wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars while in office on the other side of the table
  • We curse Trump for saying things that offend other countries, while we ignore Clinton literally selling out American interests to those countries
  • We curse Trump for saying things that play into the fictitious “war on women”, while Clinton takes multi-million dollar donations from countries that openly enslave women and treat women like cattle followed by her defense of those countries
  • We curse Trump for publicly dismissing the handful of bankruptcies among the many companies he has successfully built, while ignoring how the policies of Clinton and Obama are bankrupting our entire nation as a whole
  • We curse Trump for deflecting questions about his tax returns, while ignoring Clinton destroying literally tons of evidence relevant to the FBI criminal investigation of her felonies
  • We curse Trump for saying difficult truths about Islam, while ignoring the fact that Clinton/Obama policies have fueled more Islamic terrorism than ever before, including the formation of ISIS and the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban

That is just a sampling of the many ways that we have allowed ourselves to get sucked into the lie of ignoring actions and inactions over words. But, alas it seems to only matter what she says. As long as she says the right things, then she can have blood on her hands. Leftists for far too long have been able to get away with a complete lack of results, even horrific failure, of their policies as long as they say the right things. But, which is worse, to say something or to do something? Which is worse to say a harsh word towards a woman or to actually do something that physically damages women? For example, Clinton has taken tens of millions of dollars from countries who require that a woman have four eye witnesses to prove a charge of rape, a policy against which Clinton is silent? I sarcastically wonder why. Then again, I don’t care why – I care more that her actions are that corrupt. Corrupt action is far, far worse than corrupt speech.

As a result of falling for the lie of valuing what is said over what is done, we are also falling into the trap of the ever-false “lesser of two evils” argument. Allow me to explain. Since we are ignoring actual criminal actions and blood on the hands of Clinton, and we are more than equally valuing harsh words from Trump only, we have made marginally equal the value of the evil of Trump’s speech compared to the evil of Clinton’s actions. In other words, by falling for the “lesser of two evils” lie, we have agreed that Trump is only marginally less evil than Clinton. That is hogwash because in every way actions actually do speak far more and carry far more weight of consequences than words ever will. The corruption that Clinton has committed in actions make the speech of Trump look like errant songs from a choir boy. We thereby trick ourselves as Christians into avoiding the lesser of two evils and either not voting or voting for a more evil platform. In apologetics, this is just another form of the logical fallacy of “Argument to the Man.” We dismiss actual values in exchange for excessive character assassinations. This is a fallacy because every candidate is evil. The lesser of two evils is an overused cliché that has been falsely applied to every election between fallen human beings in memory. It was used with Romney, McCain, Bush and every Republican Presidential candidate in my recollection - even Reagan. But, all of them are evil to very real extents. In fact, it is probably virtually impossible to begin to consider running for President without some unhealthy dose of narcissism. In fact, which is more audacious, narcissism based upon success as a Chief Executive, or narcissism based upon a political career purely the product of being married to a former President?

Instead of falling for this trap, we should focus on actions and platforms over words. This is why we have platforms, parties, separation of powers and checks and balances. Isn’t focusing more on platforms common sense anyway (a.k.a. the issues)? For example, it is amazing to see how many Christians run from the “immorality” of Trump towards Gary Johnson, candidate from the Libertarian Party. But, Johnson is probably the most pro-abortion, pro-legalization of drugs candidate running. I’m not implying it is wrong to vote for him. I am implying that if morality of platform is our guide, that is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Are these other platforms less evil than Trump’s words? Rather, since all candidates are evil, pay closer attention to the platforms against which we all, including Congress, can hold each candidate accountable. That is not choosing the lesser of two evils. That is choosing the most qualified and accomplished executive with a platform that more truly aligns with what we individually value. Doing so is not morally wrong. By the way, it is also not morally wrong to vote for a fourth candidate whose testimony and platform aligns with your values and convictions. This post is less about encouraging anyone to vote for one candidate and more about checking our behaviors for integrity as we do. Surely, you can vote for a candidate without cursing someone else. In fact, since the nominees are determined, openly cursing Trump while refusing to equally treat Clinton, is the equivalent of campaigning for Clinton - which is the least noble cause. Regardless, shouldn’t our speech and actions be more characterized by what we are for than by what we are against?

By the way, there are Biblical examples of actions speaking louder than words where God actually seems to choose what we would today errantly refer to as the lesser of two evils. Probably the most famous is in Matthew 21, Jesus is confronted by the Chief Priests and Elders challenging his authority. After using brilliant apologetic techniques of answering questions with questions, Jesus shared with them and the crowd a revealing parable. Jesus said, “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.” How were the words by each son valued in comparison to their actions? Doesn't Jesus value actions over words? This example does not defend a candidate, but it does display for us clearly that actions do speak louder than words. It matters lesser what the candidates say than what the candidates have done, are doing, and what their platforms intend to do. Isn’t that the way we should approach every politician?

In conclusion, these principles of wisdom are also very real and true in our walk and speech as Christians. Our actions should speak louder than our words. People should see what we believe not just by what we say, but more by how our actions prove what we say - love. This year, as we march towards November’s ballot box, we should behave in every way, especially publicly, in a manner that likewise honors this Biblical principle of wisdom.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

For Orlando - The Ultimate Dishonor of the Dead

It is referred to as “The Trial of the Century.” The official name of the 1995 case that earned that nickname was the “People of the State of California vs Orenthal James Simpson” (a.k.a. the O.J. Simpson murder trial). It became known as the trial of the century because it was the most famous trial in terms of ratings, followers and the polarizing infamy of the verdict. It was also infamous for another reason – it was just another beginning to yet another sad end. You see, everyone knew that O.J. Simpson was guilty of murdering Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The evidence was overwhelming. But the jury deliberated only four hours and declared O.J. Simpson “not guilty.” The trial's fame thereby made it a landmark beginning of the end of impartial justice and impartial media. It was also the beginning of the end of honoring dead victims.

The ultimate dishonor of those that are killed is when the known killer is declared innocent. Can you think of something more dishonoring to the victims and their families? For example, in the civil trial that followed the murder trial, O.J. Simpson was found responsible for the killings and the families were awarded large monetary damages. But, following the monetary award, in the words of Ron Goldman’s father, “The jury decision of last Tuesday [“not guilty”] was the only decision important to us …The money is not an issue. It never has been. It's holding the man who killed my son and Nicole responsible.” When we experience a tragedy of violent proportions, after we have had the time to mourn, it is crucially important to soberly honor the murdered by holding the murderer fully accountable. That begins by declaring the guilty, “guilty.” But, when we look clearly in the face of the guilty and boldly declare them “innocent” or attempt to transfer guilt to a party that is not even remotely at fault, that is the ultimate dishonor to the murdered.

And, this is the dishonor that we are witnessing in the horrific wake of the Orlando terrorist attack at the Pulse night club. What is guilty in this case is something other than what we seem to be holding accountable. The 49 dead were not killed by the Second Amendment. They were not killed by easy access to guns. They were not even technically killed by an AR-15. And they were certainly not killed by a hostile environment created by homophobic Christians. Yet, those are the wrongly convicted things that seem to dominate the vast majority of our condemning speech. But, evil is always at the hands of humans, not things, not laws and not fictitious environments. By convicting wrongly, we are failing to rightly declare the guilt and motives of the truly deserving party – militant Islam.

Instead, political correctness rules on a mighty throne and demands that we bow and dare not utter the proverbial identity of the proverbial killer lest we be defamed as racist (even though religion is not a race). Politicians seek to take political advantage and find compromise on hasty gun control laws. They seek to close the infamous (yet fictional) “gun show loophole.” They seek to restrict actually explicit Constitutional rights in favor of those that don’t even exist. They seek to castigate the ease of buying weapons when in fact buying weapons is not as easy as is being screamed. The shooter in this case passed all background checks in spite of being on FBI’s watch list (and he did not buy his non-AR-15 at a gun show). Side-note: if the FBI can’t even protect us from a terrorist on their watch list, how can we naively believe that our government can screen Muslim refugees? I digress. Ironically, those at the highest levels of the political left in this country were quick to say that naming militant Islam would not have prevented this crime. By that same logic, passing the legislation that they seek to pass would also not have prevented this crime. But, alas, bad logic apparently can only be applied against one side free from accountability. Lastly, the victims were certainly not killed by a hateful environment created by Christians. All of the above are examples of refusing to declare clear guilt upon the clearly guilty – militant Islam. Sadly, when we seek to blame all the things that actually had little to do with the crime and refuse to actually name the central and blatantly guilty party, we become shamefully guilty of the ultimate dishonor of the victims. And punishing the innocent is further enabling more carnage by the guilty.

I know what is racing through your mind - you probably hear that voice in your head pleading or sarcastically repeating, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Well, there is a time for peace and a time for war. When those in your religion are committing terrorist acts in the name of your religion, being peaceful/silent is actually incorrigible. Silence in the wake of terror is complicit and truly unacceptable. That is precisely how Nazism was so effective in brutally murdering millions of innocent minorities – because the moderate or peaceful Nazis were too cowardly to speak out or were actually silently affirming the atrocities. Well, if you won’t hold militant Islam to account in this case, then it is you who should be ashamed, not those who truly identify it. The silent Muslims are part of the problem. Silence is not acceptably peaceful because it dishonors the victims. In fact, this brand of silence must be confronted.

For example, when so called “Christians” were bombing abortion clinics in the late 1990s, Christians had every right to deny that the bombers were part of Christianity. What if Christians were silent then? What if our leaders and the media failed to identify the bombers as Christians? What if we ignored their motives? But, none of that happened. Instead, the vast, vast majority of the rest of us Christians stood up, condemned the bombings as horrific murder and helped all parties oppose and prevent them from happening again. Together with non-Christians, we did not blame weapons or other religions. We were not complicit. But, why are “moderate” Muslims not condemning the attacks today? Muslims remain largely silent, partly because those in power do their bidding for them, including protecting their silence from public scrutiny. But, at best this bidding dishonors the dead. How many more Christians, homosexuals, women, Americans and Europeans must be brutally slaughtered, raped and tortured before we wake up and deal with a very clear and present danger?

Lastly Christian, never forget that this same dynamic is on parallel display in the very origin of our Christian Faith - the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, it would have been easy, yet wrong, to cast blame at the Romans, the Jews, or even the invention of the cross. That would be wrong because the guilty party was me. My sins nailed Him there. And, yours did as well. To claim anything other dishonors the One who died for that very reason.

In conclusion, in Isaiah 5:20 God says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Translation: God, the ultimate Avenger, will judge and execute justice upon those who call the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent. Christian, in light of that verse and everything else we know about God’s nature, in view of this horrific terrorist attack in Orlando, you should watch your words and thoughts very carefully. Do all that you can to refrain from calling evil “good” and good “evil.” Speak truth even if it offends. Call evil “evil”. The victims deserve so much better than the current deception with which they are being insulted. They deserve our love and prayers in addition to holding the guilty accountable. After all, God does not call “woe” upon anyone lightly. He always means what He says ... and executes it.

You can purchase the book "Reason If You Will - How To Answer Questions Regarding Faith" by clicking HERE. Profits go to Camp Bahamas. You can also follow @ReasonIfYouWill on Twitter.