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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Will we seek God?

By the time this column is published, the midterm elections of 2014 will be almost over. There will doubtlessly be runoffs to determine the eventual winner in some states, and the television and broadcast stations in those states will reap continued political advertising dollars. For most Americans, however, the never-ending political season will transition towards 2016.

And on and on it goes. Winners and losers, victory parties and concession speeches, but what will really change?

Some friends on occasion declare that voting is useless—nothing ever changes. Things just seem to go from bad to worse. I certainly understand the sentiment. What we need to do, according to one friend, is to vote against every incumbent. That reminds me more of a child’s temper tantrum than a substantive solution.

Our problem is not with our politicians; it is with humanity. Humans are not good by nature. As the apostle reminds us, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10–11 [ESV]). We have politicians who promote evil legislation, legislation allowing the taking of an unborn child’s life, institutionalizing same-sex “marriage,” establishing state-sponsored gambling, etc. These politicians, however, were not spontaneously generated. Neither did they forcibly take their offices. They were duly elected by the American people, most of whom are unrighteous, do not understand, and do not seek God.

We live in a fallen world, a world that is at root unrighteous. The secularists and liberal “Christians” would have us believe that humans are basically good. The Bible reveals what we experience: humans are not basically good. We are basically self-centered, self-promoting, self-indulging, and self-concerned. All sin, so it seems, has self at the center.

While we can grumble about our fellow citizens, the question is whether we ourselves seek God. This is not to say that elections are unimportant and we should bail out of our civic responsibility to vote for the best candidates on the ballot. It is to remind of us what the basic issues are, and the basic issues begin with us.

Our country’s woes are not centered upon our president’s politically convenient “evolving” on the issue of same-sex “marriage” or his insistence of a woman’s right to an abortion. While the promotion of depravity by our broadcast media and the legitimizing of almost every form of depravity by one of our major political parties are unhelpful to the state of our nation, these are not our fundamental problems. These things are simply the result of our problem. We as a people have rejected God. We will not have him reign over us.

And yet our responsibility as Christians is not to change the hearts of others. We are impotent to do that. The Holy Spirit alone can change hearts. We can and should evangelize others, pointing out that sin is self-destructive, both in time and in eternity. We should point people to our crucified and holy Savior. We can and should pray that God would be pleased to saved our families and friends and neighbors.

Also, we should try to help our unbelieving neighbors understand how sinful actions harm our people. This is a “common-grace” aspect to our being good neighbors. Non-Christians can grasp that things which contribute to the breakup of the family do great harm to one’s society.

The reality, however, is that real change begins with us. Have we repented of our sins and believed upon Christ? Do we desire his presence? Do we yearn to know him? Do we follow his Word? Do we ourselves seek God? “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7 [ESV]).

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A thoughtful post entitled “The Role of Law: It is reasonable and necessary for society to outlaw certain ‘choices'” on abort73.com takes issue with the commonly accepted mantra that abortion is simply a matter of a woman’s choice.

The fundamental role of every government is to provide security for its citizens and to maintain public order. This cannot be done without legislating against certain choices. Even in free countries, citizens are not free to choose in any absolute sense. Some choices are lawful and some are not, which is why it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be “free to choose”.

This, of course, has not stopped people from building their defense of abortion on the abstract defense of choice. You’ll hear things like, “This is a free country…You can’t legislate morality… My body, my choice!” In fact, many abortion-rights advocates will openly admit that abortion is “bad”, only to turn around and argue that women must be free to make their own decisions, even if they’re bad ones. On the surface that might sound noble. You’re giving people a choice. You’re letting them decide what’s right for themselves, even giving them the freedom to fall.

The problem is, there is a big difference between a “bad” decision and a “criminal” decision. Getting sunburned is a bad decision. Burning your neighbor’s house down is a criminal decision. Refusing to study for a big test is bad. Refusing to stop when there is a pedestrian in the street is criminal. The law generally leaves people the legal freedom to make bad choices, but the law must do all it can to prohibit criminal choices.

Read the rest of this post here.

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In its May 18 issue, the New York Times reported that Richard Blumenthal, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, made a bogus claim about his prior military service.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

As is now widely known, Mr. Blumenthal never served in Vietnam, received several deferments to avoid the draft, and was able to get into the Marine Reserves in 1970 when his last deferment appeared to be in jeopardy. Confronted with the fact that his speech was betrayed by his record, Mr. Blumenthal responded like a politician.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Blumenthal said at a packed news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

The bottom line is that Mr. Blumenthal has been put on public display as a liar, and he continues to lie. He claims to “take full responsibility” but characterizes his statements about service in Vietnam as “a few misplaced words.” And he says defiantly, “I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

Mr. Blumenthal encapsulates the fallen condition of humans. He is a sinner but fails fully to acknowledge he is a sinner. He makes mistakes, in his view, but does not intentionally lie. Yet there is no way around it—when what a person claims is contradicted by what he has done, he has lied. Taking full responsibility would be to admit the lie, repenting of it and seeking forgiveness.

This is a lesson in truth-telling for all of us, and the Bible warns us of eternal, not merely temporal, consequences of being a liar:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8 [ESV]).

And the Bible shows us that Christ alone is the hope for repentant sinners:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11 [ESV]).

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Racism and the church

There are things in life that I have trouble understanding. I don’t understand why Hollywood celebrities are called before Congress as expert witnesses concerning environmental issues. I don’t understand why folks who don’t like winter sing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” I don’t understand why men can’t pick their clothes up off the floor (or should that be “little boys in men’s bodies”?).

Something I really have trouble understanding is how folks can say they love Christ while at the same time disdaining others simply because those “others” are of another ethnicity or skin color.

I was struck by this last year during South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary. It seems that the Clintons decided surreptitiously to make Barack Obama’s race an issue. Black South Carolinians took umbrage at the attacks and voted overwhelmingly for the candidate of their skin color. White South Carolinians basically voted likewise, dividing their votes between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

Please understand that I did not have a dog in that fight. As far as I’m concerned, not one of the three is worthy of the presidency of the United States. All three are pro-abortion, and that one factor disqualifies them from my vote. By the way, Republican Rudy Giuliani was likewise disqualified because of his pro-abortion standing.

Unfortunately, the same racism which characterized the Democratic primary is too often seen in our churches, both white and black. How can a person really be a Christian and disdain another person because his skin is a different color? I can hear someone say something like, “Well, you’re not old enough to remember how it used to be.” I have two responses. First, how things “used to be” is rarely how things really were. We all observe the past through biased lenses. Second, how things “used to be” is at most how things used to be. Whatever it was does not make it right. Besides, this is now, not then.

The gospel of Jesus Christ stands in opposition to racism, whether it is white against black, black against white, black or white against Hispanic, or whatever. If it is really true that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28), then most certainly there are to be no divisions based upon any ethnicity or color of skin.

God looks not at the color of our skin or the bent of our culture but at the condition of our heart. Outside of Christ, every heart is the same color, filled with depravity. In Christ, the believer is counted perfectly righteous.

Theologian Michael Horton maintains: “The prophets remind us repeatedly of the vision of the latter days, with the nations streaming to Zion, bearing their gifts for the great celebration. As a foretaste of that festival, each gathering of the Lord’s people should reflect as much as possible the diversity of gifts that serve the unity of the body.” (“Grace, Race, and Catholicity,” Modern Reformation, Jan./Feb. 2008, 21).

Horton is right. There will be no preferences in heaven—whether race or age or sex or social status or whatever. Only because of man’s depravity are there any on earth.

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