Japan – March 2011

(Originally posted on 3/16/2011)

Would that we all weep for those in Japan.  In the midst of incredible political turmoil all over the middle east and in Africa, another unpredictable and incomprehensible blow is delivered.  I watched through tears as young children held up signs in large warehouse-like buildings where displaced people were being kept that said (in English), “Help Us!!!”  Satellite images show absolute devastation in certain areas.  Children seperated from their parents, thousands of dead washing up on the beaches in the rubble, other thousands without homes, millions without power, and an immanent nuclear threat casting its enormous shadow over the watching world.

I humbled myself as I watched it on the flat screen TV in my air conditioned break room at Target while eating my string cheese.  It made me want to scream.  Pain upon pain and most of us are only left to watch.  Would you pray?  Please?  Oh, that God would not allow this catastrophe to be the last word, but that he would pour out His Spirit upon those people; that this event would be an opportunity.  If nothing else, tear your clothes, and hurt for these people.  Would it be as though we were the ones sitting in the mud on a rock with no shirt and no family to speak of anymore; as though we had no home to go to and no warm meal waiting in the other room.  And worse, maybe no hope of heaven or God or a theological framework with which to help us understand this catastrophe.  Would we not just go back to life without letting this blow be felt here in rich America.

How to react to these kinds of events is confusing.  Honestly, I don’t know what to do, but here are a few thoughts: (1) I do believe that sincere prayer is a healthy response.  Pray that God would move.  That he would turn this massively painful event into a glorious gospel story.  “Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:38).  Pray that the world would see the absurdity of seeking a haven here on this earth and look to a transcendent, more perfect, place on which to set their hope.  That we would have a sense of the brevity of life and be taught to number our days (James 4:14).  (2) To let ourselves experience the sorrow of the event and enter into the pain of those effected.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).  “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled…Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).  (3) To seek opportunity to relieve suffering in whatever capacity we are able.  “Bear one another’s burdens and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).  Bearing burdens of all kinds is one primary way we love God and our neighbor.  Most likely few of us can physically do anything to relieve the suffering of the Japanese, but why not your grandmother or your next door neighbor?  This event should move us toward the principle of compassion on all men, not only towards the Japanese. (4) To expectantly look for Christ’s return.  Jesus said many of the signs accompanying his return may look much like these we are seeing in Japan: “There will be signs…on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves…” (Lk. 21:25).  Peter exhorts us to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).  Events like these should make us all ache for Jesus to come back and make it all right again.  Indeed, these events are evidence of the very earth’s longing to see its Master come again and end the curse and make all things new (Rom. 8:19-22).  Moreover, be alert!  Do not forget the foolish virgins who fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom and were thus shut out of the wedding feast (Matt. 25:1-13).  (5) To fear the severity of God.  The Bible is very clear that all things are ordered by God (Exod. 4:11; Job 38; Ps. 115:3; Lament. 3:38; Rom. 11:33-36; ), this event in Japan is no different.  Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God who does what he will with the nations.  Let us be sure that we are in the faith, lest tomorrow we perish apart from him (Eph. 5:16; Heb. 3:12-13).  Each day is a gift of grace; the door remains open for all to enter in, but it will not be so forever.  Trust Christ today and flee the wrath that is coming.  He has gone to prepare a place for all those who trust him, away from the things that destroy in this world and in the presence of our loving heavenly Father.

Lecrae has written a song entitled “Far Away” dealing with the suffering in Japan.  Please check it out.

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Ron Paul’s Economic-Foreign Policy

ECONOMIC POLICY

One common misconception about things is that foreign policy and economic policy are mutually exclusive, or, maybe more moderately stated, that they have little overlap.  A part of this blog entry will be concerned with trying to demonstrate how they do indeed overlap.  In short, we cannot talk about Ron Paul’s foreign policy without at least a light touch on his economic policy.

This connection is absolutely crucial.  For those of us who are concerned about having a strong military presence, like Dr. Paul is, we must think soundly about these matters.  Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters points out in this interview, that the basis to a strong military is not just “toys” but a strong economy.

The relationship of economic policy and foreign policy

Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., in the foreword to Ron Paul’s book A Foreign Policy of Freedom writes:

Ron Paul has always believed that foreign and domestic policy should be conducted according to the same principles. Government should be restrained from intervening at home or abroad because its actions fail to achieve their stated aims, create more harm than good, shrink the liberty of the people, and violate rights.[1]

I have heard many people say that they like everything about Ron Paul, especially his fiscal conservatism and proposed budget cuts.  Then comes the all-to-common line: “But I just think his foreign policy is crazy.”  What I have come to realize after reading and listening to a lot of Ron Paul’s thinking is that such a dichotomy is artificial and impossible to make.  

There are a number of economic issues that have a great deal to do with foreign policy.  Ron Paul mentions a few of them in one of his books:

It’s obvious that foreign intervention cannot be separated from economic concerns about deficits, inflation, and taxes. Currently we see a trend toward world government, globalism, managed trade, and an institutionalized world financial system based on purely fiat money. This system is controlled by the industrial-banking-political elite.[2]

Economic policy and foreign policy go very much together.  For Ron Paul, a policy of intervention, whether foreign or domestic is a flawed policy.  He said on the floor Congress on July 14th, 1982:

I am convinced the American people no longer endorse foreign adventurism and believe that our best interests are secured by a policy of armed neutrality.  This was the policy of our government from its founding until 1917.  It is only in the 20th Century that interventionism has been accepted as a foreign policy, with the obvious consequences of unprecedented world wars and the loss of enormous numbers of American lives on foreign soil. Our experiment with foreign policy interventionism has failed, just as our experience with domestic economic interventionism has failed.[3]

Most obviously, foreign policy relates to economic policy simply because it is a line item in our national budget.  What is more, it is a massive part of our national spending.

Government spending and national debt

It’s no secret, our national debt is out of control.  In his “Texas Straight Talk” on February 27 of this year, Ron Paul says: “Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee has pointed out that our per capita government debt is already larger than Greece’s.  Per person, our government owes over $49,000 compared to $38,937 per Greek citizen.  Our debt has just reached 101% of our Gross Domestic Product.”

Yet, Congress plans to spend even more in 2013, and much of it on foreign wars…

Recently, Ron Paul in one of his weekly online updates said: “Our total spending on overseas adventurism and nation building equals more than the next 13 highest spending countries in the world combined.  Even if we were to slash our military budget by half, we would still be the world’s dominant military power by far.”

In this video Paul says that we have nearly 1000 locations of military presence across the globe!  Iran is completely surrounded by nearly 50 US bases![4]  Our national debt is up nearly 4 trillion dollars because of our expenditures in the Middle East region alone, Paul says (click here to get a feel for how much money that actually is).

But our international endeavors have a great effect on the spending of other nations too.  To put it crudely, we drag a great many nations into all international affairs, including our “preemptive” conflicts.  For example, following 9/11 Bush convinced eighteen other nations, including Britain, Russia, Germany, and France, to contribute troops to the campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.[5]  The global cost for such campaigns is outrageous.

While the issue of our national budget is a popular topic in Washington today evidenced by the Tea Party movement which began in 2009, little is being done.  Little is being done, in large part, because there is an obsession with overseas projects.  No serious cuts are proposed for the fiscal year of 2013 either.  The budget calls for unprecedented spending and continued annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion…  Conservatives have rightly been alarmed.  However, many of those same conservatives complain that the budget still does not devote enough to overseas projects![6]

How much is enough?

We owe nearly 1 trillion dollars to the Chinese alone and several trillion more to other nations.  Paul says that we are in a worse condition right now than we were during the Depression, because today all our wealth is based on debt.  He says, “This is bigger than anything in the history of the world; never in history has a world economy been run on a total fiat currency…and has horrendous mal-investment that has to be liquidated.”  (Click here, beginning at 7:40.)

Budget Cuts

One article I read notes that the problems we are dealing with in our country and across the world are inherent to the structure of our economic policy, and Ron Paul discusses the issue some here.  If the problem is going to be fixed something drastic must be done.  Mere cuts into proposed increases will not suffice, which, strictly speaking, are not cuts.

Ron Paul is the only candidate proposing changes that are real cuts; he is the only candidate who has a plan to stop the irresponsible spending of our government.  His intention is to cut 1 trillion dollars from the budget immediately.  His commitment to budget cuts runs deep; He would not exempt himself from such cuts.  For example: “The federal workforce would be reduced by 10 percent, and the president’s pay would be cut from $400,000 to $39,336 — a level that the Paul document notes is ‘approximately equal to the median personal income of the American worker.’”[7]  Read this article to get a feel for some of his proposed cuts.

Really, the bottom line is that we must get back to a truly conservative view of the role of government.  Our problems cannot and will not be solved by more government or by simply printing more money out of thin air.  One of the great lies of the Depression Era in the U.S. was that FDR’s big government spending programs are what got us out of the Depression.  Nothing could be further from the truth:

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “History it written by the victors.”  There’s no better example of that than the enduring myth that Franklin Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression.  After Herbert Hoover created the Great Recession by abandoning conservatism in 1929, FDR’s big-government policies transformed the Great Recession into the Great Depression and kept millions of Americans in need until we started mobilizing for World War II in 1939.  Recent scholarship makes a convincing case that big government is what kept the economy from recovering, but liberals contained enough channels of communication—in media and academia—that most voters never heard the truth about the Great Depression for more than fifty years.[8]

Some suggest that it was the war that got us out of The Great Depression in the 30’s and early 40’s.  The logic goes, then, we should keep going to war in order to stimulate the economy.  Ron Paul, suggests, in contrast to many others, that it was the fact that the people came home and the government cut taxes that enabled the economy to get rolling again, not the war.

The residual costs of overseas wars

There are all kinds of costs associated with the wars overseas that few people consider.  In the last decade, there have been nearly 8500 American troops killed in overseas wars.  Over 40,000 have been wounded, needing amputations and such.  Hundreds of thousands have come back begging for help to the veteran’s administration with brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  There is an epidemic of suicide going on right now among veterans because of the unparalleled amount of stress our vets are under; some say, more than ever before.  One in every five suicides is now by a veteran of foreign wars.  Most likely because the number of hours that our vets are spending overseas in nearly 10 times that of previous wars!

Veterans love Ron Paul.  They marched on the White House on President’s Day to show their support for him.  This video shows glimpses of that march with thousands of veterans shouting “President Paul!”  Our troops are tired of this American imperialistic, special-interest-motivated, foreign policy that is bankrupting our nation and leaving the lives of thousands of American families in ruins.

And one has to think of the damage done to many countries infrastructure and the costs associated with that.  America has little experience dealing infrastructure damage as the result of war, but we sure like to make others deal with it.  In 2008 an article was written entitled “Five Years of Occupation, Iraq Destroyed.”  That title says enough.  But here’s a quote from the article written by a first-hand observer: “Five years of occupation have destroyed Iraq as a country. Baghdad is today a collection of hostile Sunni and Shia ghettoes divided by high concrete walls.”[9]  America’s occupation of Iraq is largely responsible for such wreckage.

Such incalculable damage does not leave a favorable taste towards the U.S. in the mouths of many of these peoples.  Military experts have openly said that if Ron Paul were President we would have a lot more friends around the world.

One is led to think that the reason so many Americans like to go to war is because it’s not their sons and daughters or dads or uncles or pastors or classmates dying; it’s not their backyard getting blown to pieces; it’s not their local grocery store that is getting pumped full of concrete and rebar.  Would we be willing to wage these wars on our own turf?  Some counts have recorded upwards of 115,000 civilians that have been killed in the Iraq war alone!  And in the Iran-Iraq conflict from 1980-1988 in which the U.S. government was playing both sides (5:30), nearly 500,000 Iranians died.  One writer asserts that this war “set Iraq back at least fifty years in its development…”[10]  Such consequences are just the tip of the ice-berg.

War is one of the most horrific realities of our human existence.  Few of us can comprehend the devastation war exacts on a people and a nation, esp. when those wars are fought at home.

Currently, as far as I’m aware, we are bogged down in five major global conflicts.  And of course, if nothing changes, it is likely that we will go to war with Iran too.  Special-ops are believed to be in over 100 nations running covert operations like the highly publicized one in which Osama bin Laden was killed.[11]  One writer remarks:

To quote the words of Michel De Montaigne, we are “drunk with malice”.  We are addicted to war.  To violence.  To bloodshed.  To greed.  To hatred.  Our leaders believe that we can bludgeon the world into obedience.  There is no question that can be posed, no query submitted, to which Washington cannot answer with bombs, missiles, tanks, guns and mechanized death.[12]

The cost of all of this collectively is outrageous, and what is worse, few if any were even necessary.  And, in demonstration of our continuing move away from our founding documents, none were declared in a constitutional manner.

The psychological effects of debt

And what about the psychological effects of debt on our society? For those of you who have had debt hanging over your head or an unpaid bill looming on the horizon (which is most likely all of you), you are well aware of the effect if can have on every aspect of your life.  The negative effects of debt are well documented.  Many of us know people who have been through a divorce because of money issues and maybe some of us know someone who has committed suicide because of it.  Murder happens all the time because of money.  All sorts of health issues result from debt; no doubt that debt has put an even greater strain on our healthcare system.  I know from personal experience as do many others.  Anxiety has put me in the ER on at least one occasion.  The connection is real.  How much more then will the continual mounting of national debt (mostly because of overseas spending) continue to wreak havoc on our national conscience?

A tactic for greater control

Ron Paul shrewdly notes that there is a deep underlying motive behind much of our governments foreign policy—money and power.  He writes:

Of course, government has no incentive to discover the problems created by its wards because the wars themselves enhance the power of the government, bring in more revenue, provide a good excuse for bureaucratic expansion and violations of liberties, and keep the population whipped up in ta state of fear and thereby easier to control.[13]

He even suspects that the government has little desire to even win all the wars that pursues such as the war on communism, drugs, poverty or others.  The goal he suspects is only to make the problem worse. In making the problem worse the government has greater reason and excuse to grab at more power.[14]  I have heard him recently suggest that this is likely the goal of Obamacare—to bankrupt insurance companies so that the government will have to step in and take them over.  In Freedom and Federalism, Morley quotes Adolf Hitler as having said: “a powerful national government may encroach considerably upon the liberties of individuals as well as of the different States, and assume the responsibility for it, without weakening the Empire Idea, if only every citizen recognizes such measures as means for making his nation greater.”[15]  How many times have we heard the mantra: “We just need to do this to make our country more secure,” or “to promote what our ‘great nation’ has in other parts of the world…”  Such slogans can be a subtle form of dangerous nationalism of the same breed as what Adolf Hitler possessed…

What makes much of our overseas projects additionally absurd is the simple fact that there is virtually nobody in the world that could do us any kind of considerable damage if they were to attack us.  Our military is astronomically larger than that of almost every other nation on the globe.  In an October 11, 2007 interview with The Washington Post, Paul said,

“There’s nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today… we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we’re acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapons.”[16]

One could argue that The Patriot Act is an extension of this paranoia aroused by the government.  It was first signed into law by George W. Bush in October of 2001, largely in response to the attacks of 9/11.  What appeared to be a temporary arrangement was recently drawn out.  “On May 26, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a four-year extension of three key provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records (the “library records provision“), and conducting surveillance of “lone wolves” — individuals suspected of terrorist-related activities not linked to terrorist groups.”[17]  This Act has, in effect, nullified the 4th amendment; the government is feeding of the fear of the people.  Which of our personal liberties will be stolen next?  Will they march onto your property tomorrow and take your home because of some kind of suspicious activity or because you are doing something they don’t like?  When rights like those in the 4th amendment are thrown out, the door is flung wide open for all sorts of tyranny.

And we can’t forget Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) either.  This Act was just another attempt by the government to expand their power, this time through regulation of the internet.  Although it was taken off the floor in Congress, if something doesn’t change, you can put money on it that it will be reintroduced again and again and again until it gets through.

And what about The National Defense Authorization Act in 2012?  E.D. Kain, a contributor of Forbes writes:

The National Defense Authorization Act greatly expands the power and scope of the federal government to fight the War on Terror, including codifying into law the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial. Under the new law the US military has the power to carry out domestic anti-terrorism operations on US soil.[18]

Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today writes:

Every year we pass a National Defense Authorization Act.  Each year, it has something hidden in it, secret tax breaks for big party contributors, pork barrel projects but this year we have gone too far.  This year’s bill officially recreates the equivalent of the East German or North Korean police state here at home, as usual, “to protect us from terrorism.”[19]

The logical consequence of overseas intervention

As Duff said, “This year they have gone too far.”  That’s exactly the point.  Government doesn’t steal your liberty in one massive swoop.  They take it gradually through government expansion of power.  All of the various things mentioned above are just more evidence of it the government’s attempt to expand its power—all in the name of “fighting terrorism” and “national defense.” 

Sheldon S. Wolin, a political philosopher who has written extensively on political science and numerous essays on Augustine, Richard Hooker, David Hume, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Max Weber, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Mark and John Dewey, has sounded the warning regarding the absurd overseas projects of the American government.  Chris Hedges writes:

Wolin argues that a failure to dismantle our overextended imperial projects, coupled with the economic collapse, is likely to result in a full-blown inverted imperialism.  He said that without “radical and drastic remedies” the response to mounting discontent and social unrest will probably lead to greater state control and repression.  There will be, he warned, a huge “expansion of government power.”[20]

But this is the logical consequence of all our overseas intrusion or “intervention” into the affairs of other nations—it will inevitably lead to the intrusion of the affairs of the citizens of our own…  This is yet another reason why we have to push for the government to STOP its absurd foreign policy of intervention. 

Thomas Jefferson once said in his Inaugural address in 1801, “Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.”  Such a motto is the only solid path to a sound economy and a strong national security.  Ron Paul is the only candidate out there right now who takes the above issues seriously; he is the champion of our constitution and of our personal liberties.  Let’s put an end to this absurd overseas interventionism which is crippling our economy, the lives of thousands of Americans and other people groups, and is leading to global paranoia and stress.  If you have not already, support the message of liberty not only for Americans but for all peoples by voting for Ron Paul in 2012.


[1] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship (Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, 2007), i.

[2] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom, vi.

[3] Paul, A Foreign Policy of Freedom, 16.

[4] It is no wonder they feel pressured and antagonized by the U.S!  I will deal with Iran in detail in a later entry.

[5] Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2011), 585.

[6] Quoted off a post on http://www.ronpaul.com/ on 2.21.12.

[8] Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America (New York: Threshold, 2011), 65.

[10] Richard Downes, In Search of Iraq: Baghdad in Babylon (Boston: Gemma, 2009), 108.

[13] Paul, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011), 287.

[14] Paul, Liberty Defined, 287-288.

[15] As quoted in Ron Paul, The Revolution: A Manifesto (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008), 30.

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Ron Paul and the Renewal of True Conservatism

I am a big Ron Paul fan.  But that hasn’t always been the case.  I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the guy until somewhat recently when some friends of mine began to open up about their political views.  I knew I was fed up with Washington but couldn’t put my finger on why…  At least not until I began to study the views of Senator Ron Paul.

Increasingly discouraged

I have been increasingly discouraged by the partisan politicking that has characterized our government for too long now; constant blaming, name calling, and demagoguery.  The two parties pit themselves against one another as two boxers in a ring.  For example, Obama told Hispanic voters that Republicans are his “enemies,” and that Hispanics should join him to “punish our enemies.”[1]  Really?  Enemies?  And you see similar stuff coming from the right too.

I have often wondered if our governmental system is flawed altogether.  What I have learned is that our leaders have been steering the ship off its intended course; it’s not that we have a different ship, but that we are taking that ship down a canal of very dangerous waters and one that is, as I see it, destined to end up like the Titanic.

Many of the ships passengers have begun to wake up and realize that our captains from both parties have fallen asleep at the wheel or had one too many drinks.  I agree with Sarah Palin who says that “There’s plenty of blame to go around for how we got here.  Americans know in their hearts both parties are at fault.  Both parties contributed to the overspending and government growth that is robbing our children [and us] of their future… No wonder millions of Americans are up in arms…”[2]  The Tea Party movement is a manifestation of “voter rage against corruption and ineffectiveness in both parties.”[3]

Many of these outraged people have found a measure of hope in Ron Paul’s message and a literal revolution is taking place across the nation, especially on college campuses (this revolution is even impacting the Republican Party).  Many of these enthusiastic followers, including myself, do not agree with every point of Paul’s ideology.  There is some controversy swirling around about some of his decisions, especially his earmarking (though he defends himself, adequately, I think, here).  But even some of those who criticize him say “I’m sure many of these earmarks have a logical rationale behind them” (so basically, it’s nit-picking).[4]

His position on various social issues like abortion and gay marriage are not popular with many young folk (he is pro-life and has a traditional view of marriage), but because of his deep commitment to liberty, many of those same young people are willing and able to vote for him.  Here’s a short clip, and here’s another, where he talks a little about “voluntary” contracts that shows why both social conservatives like myself and social liberals can happily vote for him without any compromise and without going against conscience.  In fact, in some of the most “liberal” states, like Washington, Paul has received a great deal of support.  Supporters of Paul see the beauty of his views on personal liberty in a way that other candidates seem not to.  Both parties are undeniably guilty of growing government power and intruding on personal liberty.  Under Paul as President, this trend would be greatly hindered, and maybe in time, reversed altogether.

Conservatism is not what it was

Many are unaware, as I was for a long time, that the meaning of “conservative” has morphed quite a bit in the last few decades.  Christians especially are amiss on this.  Most of my Christians friends call themselves “conservatives.”  What they mean by this, usually, is that they are pro-life and have a traditional view of marriage.  Most of them are against a large welfare state and are supportive of the foreign wars we are currently involved in.  What most of them do not realize is that the term “conservative” has not traditionally meant those things.

D. G. Hart would in fact go as far as to say that the idea of what most evangelicals today call “conservatism” is in fact incompatible with political conservatism.  This is because evangelical ideas about conservatism is really more like “moral idealism.”  He explains in his wonderful work From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism:

The faith and piety of evangelical Protestantism have no direct or obvious tie to political conservatism.  To insist upon a conversion experience or new birth, to regard the Bible as the sole source of truth, [etc.]… these evangelical attributes are hardly foundational for an account of a good, ordered, and free society.  Actually, political historians from the ethno-cultural school have detected parallels between the revivals and reforms of the Second Great Awakening (1810-1850) and the understanding of the U.S. that first the Whig and then the Republican parties embraced.  Unlike Democrats of the time, who advocated a limited, populist government that did not legislate social behavior but rather gave room for the expression of self-interest and local autonomy, Republicans trusted government to enact laws based on eternal truths that would nurture virtuous citizens and build a righteous society.  Generally speaking, since 1830 Anglo-American Protestants who supported revivals have been more comfortable with a state that promotes Christian norms as national standards than with a political order that cultivates religious diversity and the integrity of mediation institutions.

In fact, at bottom, evangelical moral idealism may actually be at odds with political conservatism, as odd as that may sound.  If conservatism were simply about public morality and virtues, then the habit of pundits and scholars referring to born-again Protestants as “social conservatives” would make sense.[5]

So… what’s the problem with that?  D.G. Hart says it well:

Evangelicals’ moral idealism was alien to American conservatism.  In fact, a moral idealism divorced from prior political or philosophical considerations leads inevitably to the kind of radicalism and social engineering that conservatives have historically opposed.[6]

In other words, what many “conservatives” today mean when they call themselves conservative actually has little or nothing to do with the traditional ideas of political conservatism, and, what is worse, actually militates against the principles this nation was founded upon.  That’s a big deal, and few people, in my circles, are aware of this crucial distinction.

Thankfully, however, there are many out there who are beginning to wake up to the idea of personal liberty and stop choking the world around them on their ideas about how someone’s life should be lived.  They realize it’s not right (in a free society) for the government to force you to spend your money a certain way, or to marry certain people, or to regulate what you put in your body.  To do so is contrary to personal liberty.  What is ironic is that many of these conservatives despise Islamic regimes in the Middle East who insist that women wear the hijab, kill their citizens for committing adultery, prohibit the use of radio and satellites, and enforce curfews.  But how is that any different in principle, from some of the regulations that both liberals and conservatives are pushing for here in America?  It is terribly inconsistent of us to be critical of the oppression we see overseas when many of us are pushing for similar kinds of legislation which go against the consciences of millions of Americans?  We will look at this more in a later entry.

Something has to change or our country will look very much like the cruel and oppressive regimes we see in other parts of the worlds.

And something is changing.  There is a revolution taking place here in America.

This explains why Ron Paul chose the title The Revolution (2008) for his recent book; a philosophical revolution is taking place about what the role of government should be.

I gladly welcome it.

Many say, Paul can’t win.  Bologna (see 4:20).  The media continues to perpetuate this fallacy.  Polls show that Paul in fact does better against Obama than any other candidate.

Some have complained to me that if Ron Paul is elected President he won’t be able to get anything done.  This is a legitimate concern, but one that I think is a bit presumptuous, for this reason: Very few new political ideas originate within Congress.  Most political change is spawned at the grassroots level.  The reason Ron Paul is so popular right now is because of a grassroots movement.  The attitudes of people are changing about the role of government, and eventually that will be reflected in the Congress—it’s already received a great deal of attention.  Paul explains more here (3:00).

Paul is not the ultimate answer

Let me say up front that I emphatically do not believe Ron Paul can solve all of our nation’s problems—no politics or politician could ever hope to achieve such a grandiose task.  I appreciate Voddie Baucham’s article in which he defends his reasons for supporting Ron Paul.  He opens this way:

Let me say ahead of time that I do not believe that politics will save America. Nor do I believe there are any perfect candidates. There never have been, and there never will be. Moreover, it is not my goal to answer every objection to the Paul candidacy as I know that there are those who, for various reasons, will not be persuaded, and more importantly, that’s not my job. My goal here is to offer insight in to my own reasoning as I wade through another political season and make a personal choice.[7]

That is the point of this article.  I am defending a personal choice as it specifically relates to foreign policy.  There are a number of issues that I think run through people’s minds when they think of this issue, so I have tried to address them below.  Of course, as Baucham pointed out, not everything can be addressed.  I may choose to do additional entries later on depending on people’s comments, objections, etc.

Above all, please know that I am attempting to be irenic.  Politics is a touchy subject.  If you are in any way offended by what I say, I hope that is a result of the material itself and not the way it was presented.  I am fallible and will not likely do justice to the value of the content.  I do not claim to be a political expert.  I am a student, willing to learn and willing to be corrected.  Writing helps me think through things, that is a part of why I blog.

I don’t believe you have to be an expert in order for your opinion to be relevant and helpful.  That is the beauty of the freedoms of speech we enjoy in this country.  Of course, one of my concerns is that those very freedoms are in serious danger.

My humble desire and the main goal of these posts is that it might help a few people see that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is not nearly as “crazy” as so many out there seem to think.

INTRODUCTION

For those of you who are new to Ron Paul, here is a video of one of his speeches that captures the heart of his policies and philosophy.  Or, you can just go to his campaign website, or to his official government site.

My mentor and friend Bob Thompson, a pastor in Hickory, NC, recently commented in a sermon on what the promises of the average American politician sound like today:

Somewhere between amusing and annoying is the unspoken message that a human candidate and his party can lead us to Utopia in four years while his opponents are sure to lead us straight to a national hell.[8]

One aspect I have greatly appreciated about Ron Paul is that he has not made such politically charged promises to the people.  He has openly admitted that the results of his policies will be painful at first.  He compares it to a drug addict in withdrawal.  Ending the Fed, bringing our troops home, eliminating various bureaucracies in the government, severe tax reform and other issues will likely hit most of us hard at first.  But either way, he says, “it’s going to get a lot worse” (7:40).  The American people have been drugged up on a system of government that is doomed to fail sooner or later, so bringing people off of this “drug” will not be easy at first.

At the same time, however, Paul has been quite bold in admitting that if something is not done about the direction of our government, especially as it pertains to our overseas and economic policies, we are headed for disaster.  The scariest prospect of all is that our economy will collapse and we will have total government take over.

History is as close to an infallible source of knowledge in this respect as we will get.  It has happened before and if something doesn’t change it will happen here.  Hedges writes: “Democratic states and republics, including ancient Athens and Rome, that refuse to curb imperial expansion eviscerate their political systems.”[9]  Wolin writes: “Imperial politics represents the conquest of domestic politics and the latter’s conversion into a crucial element of inverted totalitarianism.”  Inverted totalitarianism, is basically when the government becomes the servant of large corporations and special interests: “First, whereas in Nazi Germany the state dominated economic actors, in inverted totalitarianism, corporations through political contributions and lobbying, dominate the Superpower, with the government acting as the servant of large corporations. This isn’t considered corruption, but ‘normal’.”[10]

In fact, we are already seeing it (more on this later).  If it comes to that personal liberties will be a remnant of the past…

In such a confusing, veiled, and corrupt political environment as we have here in America today, Paul’s humble, yet bold attitude about his positions and our nation’s problems have been a breath of fresh air for many.  Sometimes Paul’s conduct is so honest and straightforward he stands out like a sore thumb.  He is the only unscripted candidate.  Many politicians in the current run for the nomination have exposed their questionable motives and intentions because they are not speaking from the heart.  Here’s one good example.

Ron Paul supporters are undoubtedly the most passionate of all the current candidates running for President this year.  The reasons for this are many, but most uniformly, his supporters stand with Ron Paul so passionately because he is a man of principle who has predicted many of the problems we are dealing with right now and stood firmly by his convictions for the last 30 years.  Check out this, this, this or this video for a taste of the enthusiasm of his followers.  The enthusiasm of his following is unlike any other candidate out there.  Chris Matthews has pointed out the contrast between the Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich campaigns in contrast to that of Ron Paul.  The enthusiasm is contagious and palpable because Ron Paul is “the only one who is saying what he actually believes.”

Okay, that being said, moving on to Paul’s foreign policy.

If you are not familiar with Ron Paul’s position on national defense and foreign policy, click here for a quick rundown for the basics of his stance.

The typical retort I hear from those I talk about these matters with is that electing Ron Paul would endanger America.  Glenn Beck is a good example.  While he endorses Ron Paul he takes a strong stance against his foreign policy, claiming that it would “endanger America.”  This is a standard argument that I’ve heard over and over again.  Many have portrayed Paul as “isolationist” and anti-military, and anti-Israel.  For some, such accusations are nothing more than pejorative statements that do not take into account the whole of Paul’s political views.    Click here for a transcription of a short interview in which Ron Paul deals with some of these accusations.  Part of the problem is that few people understand the distinction between military spending and defense spending.  Here and here are good places to go for a quick blurb on that.

I suspect the main reason for these comments (coming from “conservatives”) is that it is virtually unheard of these days to find a “conservative” who wants to stop going to war; it doesn’t line up with the status quo.

In today’s America, conservatives love to invade countries and flex our muscles, even at the expense of our economy, our lives, and in total violation of the very principles of liberty our nation was founded on.  In this regard, most Republicans have turned out to be largely inconsistent.  Paul exposes the massive shift in Republican thinking in his response to one of the questions in a debate last year.  They push a political package that says small government on the label, but once you open it up, big, intrusive government is what you find (one thinks of the war on drugs, regulation of marriage, aggressive foreign policy, etc.).  No wonder Ron Paul looks foolish to so many—he’s the only one standing up for our constitution’s idea of foreign war.  In 2008 he was the only candidate in the Presidential race who voted against the Iraq Resolution (2002).  You can read his address to Congress on the matter here.

No other candidate wanted to end the Iraq war and as far as I can tell, all of them want a war with Iran (which would be absolutely disastrous, but I’ll get to that in a later section).

One interesting point, in closing this section, is how many across the globe do not have the same fears as some Americans regarding Ron Paul’s foreign policy.  Many, in fact, are ardent supports of his.  This video captures some of this.  You would think that if the nuclear threat was as real as many American politicians would like you to believe, or if our missions were as legitimate as they claim, other nations would reflect those fears… But, by and large, you don’t.  In fact, those of our own who are actually in (or have been in) foreign nations, support Paul far and above any other candidate, including Barak Obama!

That speaks volumes.


[1] Ken Blackwell and Ken Klukowski, Resurgent: How Constitutional Conservatism Can Save America (New York: Threshold, 2011), 32.

[2] Sarah Palin, “Commonsense Constitutional Conservatism,” in America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), 261.

[3] Blackwell and Klukowski, Resurgent, 25.

[5] D.G. Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 15.

[6] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 15-16.

[8] Robert M. Thompson, “Kingdom Stories.”  Preached on February 5th, 2012 at Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory, North Carolina.

[9] Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (New York: Nation Books, 2009), 147.

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Lady Gaga: Born This Way

(Originally posted on 5/24/11)

Lady Gaga was on “The View” yesterday for an interview.  She was speaking about her new album entitled “Born This Way.”  Her responses to questions and her own thoughts about it were very interesting.  She said the album was inspired by the message of her fans.  In her words, her goal was to make herself and the album “a vehicle for their message.”  The back cover captures this with a picture of lady Gaga’s body melded with a motorcycle–she wants to let the message of her fans “ride” on her popularity and influence.  What is this message?  “Celebration, self-love and self-worship,” she says.

When asked to describe what she was about in one sentence she said: “Be yourself, be proud, love yourself, because you were born this way.”

Lady Gaga is Catholic.  She prays to her deceased aunt before every show.  Her Father’s sister died at a young age.  She wears a gold version of her birth certificate around her neck so that she may vicariously live through Gaga.  On The View she also had a large cross dangling from her black weave.

Forbes Magazine’s “Celebrity Power List” ranked Lady Gaga as the world’s most powerful celebrity for 2011.  Oprah fell to #2.  You can read about it at http://www.usmagazine.com/.  The View showed clips of her crying before a show speaking to one of her make-up people saying that she still felt like a loser.  Gaga was bullied in middle school and high school and says that much of that pain still lingers with her.  “It is so hard,” she says, some days to get up and “be this superstar.”  She has to “pick herself up” and be who her “fans need her to be.”  Gaga admits she has been scarred by life; she is open about her insecurities and her weaknesses.  She recognizes that many of her fans are fragile… just like her.  This motivates her and drives her message of kindness and self-appreciation.

I have respect for Lady Gaga.  I appreciate her willingness to be open with some of her struggles.  She recognizes human frailty and doesn’t seek to cover it up.  She doesn’t seem to be obsessed like so many with hiding her faults.

Honestly, on this point, she has something to teach most of us Christians.  So many of us think being Christian is about being right or about being strong.

Maybe this is why Gaga feels comfortable enough to go on national TV with a large crucifix dangling from her weave while lauding the idea of self-worship and see no contradiction.  But all of this seems to imply that the cross is an emblem of self; or an accessory that makes self look good…  Where did she get such an idea?

I would dare to say that she got the idea from Christians.  Somehow our portrayal of the cross to our culture has given the impression that the cross exalts men; that the cross does not show contempt for our evil but that it beautifies it.  The cross has become a testimony to the worth of man and not the greatness of God.  We have failed to live in weakness, self-denial, and repentance.  We have not agonized over our sins, our failures and labored to put self away as we should.

Many Christians in Americahave defined love as being made much of.  We feel loved when others applaud us, recognize us, and do things that make us feel important and great.  This poor definition we have even twisted to somehow describe God’s love so that many of us now believe that God must make much of us in order to love us;[1] we believe that God must celebrate who we are and how we were born in order to truly love us.  And this is what the cross has come to symbolize!  For most American’s, the cross is a symbol of the greatness and value and worth of humanity.

However, the man who died upon the cross that so many of us wear around our necks did not see it that way.  For him, the cross did not speak to the greatness of man’s worth, but to the greatness of man’s sin and rebellion against his creator.  It was a monument to human bondage, helplessness, and depravity.  Man’s evil was so gross and dominating that his only hope was to be re-born; to be “born again.”  Jesus did not come to celebrate how man was born (as so many in our culture suppose) but to tell him that if he was not born again he would never even see theKingdomofGod.  The cross was God’s way of making this possible.

The cross is not an emblem that should move us to celebrate how we were born, it is an emblem of the brutal death we all deserve to die.  The cross defines God’s love as his working to change us so that we might enjoy celebrating and making much of Him forever and ever. [2]  When we look upon the cross we should see God’s infinite love and mercy extended to sinners, saving them from themselves, freeing them from the inability to value God as He is.  When Isaac Watts penned the hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross” in 1707, he did not think it to be a monument to human worth but a glorious testimony to the great love of God in freeing sinners from their sin and shame:

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,

Spreads o’er His body on the tree;

Then I am dead to all the globe,

And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.


[1]Piper, John: Sermons from John Piper (2000-2007).Minneapolis : Desiring God, 2007

[2]Piper, John: Sermons from John Piper (2000-2007).Minneapolis : Desiring God, 2007

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Two Analogies of the Immanent Trinity

For those of you who are practicing or aspiring theologians, this post is for you (of course, we are all theologians to one degree or another).  I just finished a paper on Jonathan Edwards’s doctrine of the Trinity.  The history of the doctrine of the Trinity in general is quite fascinating.  Over the years, because of its mysteriousness, there has been hesitation about making human analogy to describe the Immanent Trinity (referring to God’s eternal existence and the internal relationships between the Three).  On one level Christians believe that the finite world of material objects cannot possibly begin to capture the depth of mystery of the infinite and transcendent Triune God.  However, the Bible also teaches that God made the heavens and the earth to proclaim his glory (Ps. 19:1-2) and man in his own image and therefore something of God may be seen and understood through what he has been made (Rom. 1:19-20).  Moreover, the incarnation, proved that God can reveal himself clearly through the finite material world.   So all of creation is stamped with the mark of its creator (and the creator stamped with the marks of his creation!).  Theologians have wrestled with these tensions over the centuries.  Two human analogies have emerged above others to describe the Immanent Trinity, though some would say that the dichotomy that has been drawn between the two is somewhat artificial.  I have pasted an excerpt from my recent paper that briefly touches on these two analogies:

The council of Nicea (325) was the first official formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity.  This council affirmed, without much elaboration or discussion about the technical meaning of the terms they employed, that Jesus Christ was “of the same substance” with the Father; that he was God himself.  And later, a council atConstantinople(381) further added that the Holy Spirit too was of the same substance as God.  They wrote that God is “one in substance, distinguished in three persons.”  Both the Greek Eastern and the Latin Western churches embraced both of these brief explications on God’s unity and threeness, while differing on which part to emphasize.

Much scholarship has in recent years suggested that the Eastern church likes to stress the distinctions among the three more than the unity while the Latin West, most notably exemplified by Augustine, has preferred to emphasize the divine unity.[1]  However, other scholars have suggested that these divisions are artificial.  Lewis Ayres suggests that instead of ascribing “clear and fundamental differences between Augustine and the Cappadocians en bloc” we should perhaps, until more extensive study is done, view the theologies “of the three Cappadocians…and that of Augustine as differing and yet overlapping options within the overall matrix of Pro-Nicene theology.”[2] The debate continues, but for better or worse, the two hemispheres are generally seen as have different emphases and as such have acquired different referents.  The Eastern vein was branded “Social” and the Western “Psychological.”  The former vein, beginning with the idea of “threeness” saw a family or “society” of persons in relationship with one another as a helpful analogy of the Godhead.  Though the social vein, as articulated by some such as Gregory of Nazianzus, maintains the idea of “begottenness” and “procession,” it strictly rejects the notion of the Son as the “idea” of God and the Spirit as the “act” or “love” of God as articulated by Augustine and later by Edwards himself.  There is a unity among the three as expressed by Gregory of Nyssa, and no direct intention of tri-theism or modalism of which the Cappadocian Fathers have been accused, especially Basil of Caesarea.[3]  The main point to note here however is that the social vein does not assume that the three persons of the Trinity are “distinct substances or subjects,” though they are still considered “distinct centers of consciousness that are related in their mutual recognition and love of one another.”[4]

The latter vein, following Augustine (354-430), in many respects still holds much in common with the Cappadocian, Eastern tradition.  Two major differences are, (1) the concept of filioque (“through the Son”),[5] which refers to the means of the Spirit’s procession, and (2), the paradigmatic analogy used to speak of the Trinity: the mind or soul of man.  Some critics, pointing to Augustine’s favorite Trinitarian illustration, say that he is guilty of integrating Neoplatonic concepts of divine unity into his thought.[6]  Augustine, studying the creation account in Genesis, formed his “soul” analogy.” Harrison writes: “Since it is man’s capacity for self-awareness, reason and love which sets him apart from the rest of creation, and places him closest to his creator, it is here that Augustine locates the image of God in man.”[7]  Augustine believed that without self-examination we would never arrive at an informed understanding of the Trinity.[8]  These essential properties of the mind (self-awareness, reason, and love) revealed the “processions” of the three within the one God.

Some have suggested the that the social explication of the doctrine was in effort to give expression to some practical aspects of the Christian gospel, namely, the complete divinity, person, and work of Jesus Christ.  While, on the other hand, the psychological model was in effort to give expression to theoretical interests of the Christian message pertaining to the logos in John 1 and God’s relationship to the world.[9] However, it is the opinion of the author that this kind of dichotomy is artificial and not necessary because there need be no separation between the “theoretical” trinity and the “practical” trinity.  That Edwards was acquainted with both traditions and that he saw no necessary dichotomy between them becomes manifest in his discussion on the inseparable connections of the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity.[10]



[1] Sang Hyun Lee, “The Doctrine of the Trinity,” in Vol. 21 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale, 2003), 3-4.

[2] Lewis Ayers, “The Cappadocians,” in Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. Allan D. Fitzgerald (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1999), 123.

[3] See J. H. Srawley, “Cappadocian Theology,” in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. James Hastings (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1911), 3:214.

[4] Stephen H. Daniel, “Postmodern Concepts of God and Edwards’s Trinitarian Ontology,” in Edwards in Our Time: Jonathan Edwards and the Shaping of American Religion, eds. Sang Hyun Lee and Allen C. Guelzo (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1999), 54.

[5] See Ayers, “The Cappadocians,” 123.

[6] Pauw sees this clearly in the whole of the Reformed tradition.  See The Supreme Harmony of All: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 59-69.  Also see O. Kirn, “Doctrine of the Trinity,” in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson  (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1912), 20.  Kim writes: “Augustine’s interest in reducing the prominence of personality in favor of simplicity or unity was his Neoplatonism… [His] view diverges from [others] in that it rests not upon a theory of succession but of eternal coexistence and of mutual immanence, as shown by his choice of illustrations.”

[7] Carol Harrison, Augustine: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (Oxford:OxfordUniversity Press, 2000), 44.

[8] Rowan Williams, “De Trinitate,” in Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, ed. Allan D. Fitzgerald (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1999), 846.

[9]  See W. Fulton, “Trinity,” in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1922), 12:460.

[10] Lee writes: “Edwards was well versed in the Western church’s teachings on the Trinity through the writings of Reformed scholastics such as Francis Turretin and Peter Van Mastricht and Puritan writes like William Ames.  But Edwards was also acquainted with the Eastern tradition through the writings of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth and, indirectly, Gregory of Nyssa himself” (Discourse, Works, 21.4).

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Crying For Caylee But Not the Unborn

(Originally posted on 7/6/11)

Along with many of you, I have been watching some of the coverage on the Casey Anthony trial.

One thing that has shocked me about it all is the fact that thousands of people have been so passionately engrossed over Caylee Anthony’s death.  The program I watched last night called this two-year old, “the child that won a nation’s heart.”  Repeatedly they showed clips of a large group of people outside the court-house chanting “justice for Caylee, justice for Caylee!”

Does anyone else smell the hypocrisy here?

Our nation, from 1973 up through 2008, according to the “Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life” has aborted 50,766,331 babies.[1]  In the year 2000, there were only 23 countries in the entire world that had populations that were higher than that number.[2]  To put it in perspective, there were 21.875 million people who claimed to be citizens of Australia in 2009.  So where is the outcry for these 50 million Caylee Anthony-to-be’s?  Where are the tears over the millions and millions of defenseless persons who have been intentionally put to death by their mothers?

Thousands and thousands of people are enraged over the “not-guilty” verdict delivered this week.  The jury found Casey not guilty primarily because there were too many questions regarding how she was killed or how she died–it was uncertain.  However, no abortion is surrounded with such uncertainty; there is no cloud of confusion that mystifies the events making them hard to understand.  A woman simply chooses to do away with her baby.  Period.  There is no discussion about who did it or how they were killed as in the Casey Anthony trial.  Yet, somehow, thousands of Americans are enraged over the much more gray situation being discussed in a courthouse in downtown Orlando.

Why?  Honestly, I can’t say…  I do know, however, that when I heard the verdict my first instinct was to call it into question.  I doubted their judgment.  I doubted our judicial system.  After talking some with my wife and brewing on it a little while I realized my own arrogance and sinful tendency to assume and cast judgment.  Do any of us really think we know better than those jurors who sat in that room for 40 something days and listened to all the evidence and all the arguments?  We listen to a 30 second sound-bite and think we have it nailed.  Who are we?  I want to be better about putting my hand over my mouth when I don’t know all the information.

Moreover, we all need to take the brick out of our own eye before we try and remove the piece of saw dust in our neighbor’s eye.  It’s all too easy for all of us to point out the “error” of another while we sip on our sweet tea and hold the remote in our recliner.  We all think that we would never do such a thing or that if we were in that situation ourselves we would choose a different course of action.  But what about our heinous abortion record?

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), could teach us a lesson on this point.  He wrote as one of his resolutions (#8):

“Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”

Edwards knew his Bible.  He knew that we all have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and that none can boast before God (Rom. 3:19; 1 Cor. 1:29).  The Bible says that all of our feet are quick to shed blood, that none are righteous, and that our throats are an open grave (Rom. 3:10-18).  We have all gone astray (Isa. 53:6) and without God all of our acts are as filth, even those we deem “good” (Isa. 64:6).  So before we throw a stone at the lady none of us know, would her actions only humble us as people wearing the same flesh as her and who share the same predicament before a holy God…  And let us all humbly ask ourselves whether we are any better.

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The Sex Wars

It is no secret.  Sex is a BIG deal in our culture today.  You can’t live in America today without having sex of some kind thrown in your face.  It is everywhere.

Peter Kreeft in his book How to Win the Culture War argues that Christians will never win the world without winning the battle over sex.[1]  At bottom, Kreeft argues that this war is not about politics…it is a spiritual war.  This became clear to Kreeft during a conversation with one of his professors at Boston College years ago.  In the book he re-plays the conversation with this openly gay professor.  Near the end he gets the professor to admit that homosexuality was, effectively, his religion.

After telling the rest of the story Kreeft says “One of the things I learned was that we cannot win the culture war unless we win the sex war, because sex is the effective religion of our culture, and religion is the strongest force in the world, the strongest motivation there is.”[2]  He contends that sex and religion is such a strong cocktail because it changes “not just lives, but life—life itself—at its origin.”[3]

So, abortion is about sex.  Our views on abortion are merely a by-product of our thinking about sex.  “Nothing less than a false religion could so overcome the natural moral law and nature’s deep instinct of motherhood.”[4]  I agree.  And all of this flies in the face of so much talk of neo-Darwinists today who claim we are the product of nature and nothing more.  Well, if one of nature’s most fundamental “instincts” is survival, why are so many mom’s killing their children?  Isn’t that counterproductive?  I could understand the argument if maybe one mom here or there decided to abort her baby, just like maybe one animal here or there managed to commit suicide somehow (or eat it’s children).  But how do you explain over 50 million American women aborting their children in the last 30 years?  When was the last time you saw 50 million monkeys jump off a cliff or throw their babies into a fire?  And that’s just in America!  There are millions and millions of other babies worldwide that have been murdered by their mothers.  Maybe this is another clue that the American war that is raging over sex is profoundly spiritual in nature.

Kreeft gives a few guiding principles to help Christians who are wondering what to do about it all.  I thought they were insightful.  For the faint of heart, keep in mind, his book is not the most politically correct one out there!:

(1)    Be realistic.  Don’t expect the victims of the sexual revolution to be objective and rational.  You are challenging their god.  You are waging spiritual warfare.  You are condemning their ecstasy.

(2)    Always put the negatives (no to sins) in the context of the positives (yes to sinners).

(3)    Make clear (first of all to yourself) the reason sex is holy: like conversion and like the Eucharist, it brings God himself to earth.  Conception is a divine act, a miracle.

(4)    Recognize and affirm the presence of genuine human love even in sinful relationships.  Human motives are usually mixed, and very unholy things are sometimes done with almost holy intentions or with intentions in which charity and cupidity, love and lust, are closely and confusedly intertwined, like cancer cells and healthy cells.

(5)    Use your imagination.  Remember, “there but for the grace of God go I.”  Suppose you were confused and victimized by a sexual perversion…Invoke the Golden Rule: What would you most deeply want the Church to do for you?  You would want the Church to deliver you, certainly, rather than either simply condemning or simply condoning your perversion.  But how?  What kind of deliverance?  Decide this, then “go and do likewise” (Lk. 10:37).

(6)    Make heroic sacrifices for the spiritually poor, the enslaved.  Be a humble and anonymous hero of purity and chastity.  Sacrifice your ”freedom of thought” first of all.  “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  In other words, “Don’t even think about it,” or about yourself.  Do it simply for the love of God and God’s lost children.[5]

 


[1] It is not my personal conviction that Christians will ever “win” the culture war.  Christians have always and will always be hated by worldly culture (John 15:18-19; 16:33; Gal. 1:10; 1 Jn. 3:13).  Fundamentally, Christ’s claims are against the world’s claims.  The two cannot be reconciled.  However, I value Kreeft’s book greatly and think his points extremely relevant for today because Christians do need to be concerned with engaging the world and lovingly responding to the challenges posed to them and the church.  Paul says “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).  But he also became all things to all men so that by all means he might save some (1 Cor. 9:22).  One must enter into the world’s hurt, brokenness, and irrationality and meet it head on there.  We must engage the world in conversation, dialogue and meaningful relationship in order to “destroy” its arguments and win some for Christ.

[2] Peter Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis (Downers Grove: IVP, 2002), 95.

[3] Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War, 88.

[4] Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War, 96.

[5] Kreeft, How to Win the Culture War, 97-98.

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