Category Archives: Commentary

Happy Independence Day 2015!

The Stars and Stripes
The Stars and Stripes

The Declaration of Independence

Here’s the complete text of the Declaration of Independence here.

And now let’s take a look at an article at The Federalist which talks about what the Declaration of Independence tells us about the character of America.

It says:

The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, was “intended to be an expression of the American mind.” Although not intended as such, it was also an expression of the American character. Woven throughout the text are insights into the minds and virtues of those Lincoln called the “once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors” who fought for the independence we still enjoy.

This aspect of the Declaration of Independence receives scant attention from scholars and citizens, yet it must be understood. The theory of government elaborated in that text presupposes the existence of citizens who know how to govern themselves and are willing to assert their rights. The American character is the unstated premise of the argument, without which the theory, though still true, doesn’t work in practice.

So, what’s the American character?

What sets us Americans apart is that we do not merely declare for liberty. We staunchly stand for it. To be an American is not only to know that you are born free, it is to have the courage to defend your freedom. This admirable aspect of the American character is evident in the fifth grievance the Declaration levels against the king.

It reads: “He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.” The king acted as monarchs are wont to do. Our forefathers, although they were subjects, did not take his abuses passively. They resisted—with manly firmness.

Today, King George III is long gone. Our representative houses are no longer dissolved at will (although they have unconstitutionally been declared to be in recess). Our rights, however, are still encroached upon, whether by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Environmental Protection Agency. Thankfully, courageous Americans still push back, like the Green family, who challenged Obamacare’s abortifacient mandate, or the Sacketts, who fought the EPA’s effective seizure of their property.

No charter of liberties or Constitution—not even one handed down by God himself—could ever, on its own, protect the rights of the people. James Madison, the father of our own Constitution, was not so foolish as to place his trust in mere “parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power.”

In Federalist No. 57, Madison takes up the question of “what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society?” His answer: “the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

The 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence set the example for their fellow countrymen and for future generations. They did not simply proclaim the universal rights of man. They also pledged “to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” And they meant it. Twelve served as combat commanders during the Revolutionary War. Five were captured and imprisoned by the British. Seventeen lost part of their fortunes.

America is not a country for servile men and women. We not only have a right to be free, but a duty to be free. For “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” Free as we are, we have no liberty to choose despotism—even if it is sugarcoated, as it is today, with material comfort and license.

[…]Two centuries later, the American character endures, battered and bruised though it may be. It has been corroded by the Progressive faith in government, the sixties ethos of “if it feels good, do it,” and the mindlessness and vulgarity of pop culture. But we can still readily discern among many Americans the habits of mind and the virtues of a free people. For this, we should be grateful on this Fourth of July.

To love liberty means to be willing to stand up for liberty, and that can mean something as simple as 1) not voting for bigger government just because they are handing out money to you and 2) not voting for bigger government because they are letting you do immoral things.

Standing up for liberty means standing up for your own personal responsibility. It means looking primarily to yourself for earning a living. It means choosing to behave morally so that you don’t create a situation where you need the government to bail you out of your own immoral decisions with someone else’s money.

The drowning stranger illustration challenges atheistic morality

Learning about right and wrong, good and evil
Learning about right and wrong, good and evil

This is by Matt from Well Spent Journey blog.

Excerpt:

Here’s a thought experiment.

_____

Imagine that you’re a healthy, athletic, 20-year-old male. It’s the morning after a thunderstorm, and you’re standing on the banks of a flooded, violently churning river.

You notice an object floating downstream.

As it moves closer, you suddenly realize that this object is a person. The head breaks the surface, and you see a panic-stricken elderly woman gasping for air. You’ve never met her before, but vaguely recognize her as an impoverished widow from a neighboring village.

You look around for help, but there’s no one in sight. You have only seconds to decide whether or not to jump in after her – recognizing that doing so will put your own life in significant peril.

_____

Is it rational for you to risk your life to save this stranger? Is it morally good to do so?

For the Christian, both of these questions can be answered with an emphatic “yes”.

The Christian is called to emulate the example set forth by Jesus, who not only risked, but sacrificed his life for the sake of others. The Christian believes that the soul is eternal, and that one’s existence doesn’t come to an abrupt end with death.  Additionally, he can point to the examples of countless Christian martyrs who have willingly sacrificed their own lives.

For the secular humanist, the answers to these questions are much more subjective. When I previously asked 23 self-identifying atheists, “Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?” only 4 of them responded with an unqualified “yes”.

Biologically speaking, the young man in our scenario has nothing to gain by jumping after the drowning woman. Since she’s poor and elderly, there are no conceivable financial or reproductive advantages involved. Evolutionary biologists often speak of “benefit to the tribe” as a motivation for self-sacrifice…yet the young man’s community would certainly place greater practical value on his life than that of a widow from a neighboring village.

Secular humanists argue that people are capable of making ethical decisions without any deity to serve as Moral Lawgiver. On a day-to-day basis, this is undeniably true. We all have non-religious friends and neighbors who live extremely moral and admirable lives.

In the scenario above, however, secular ethics break down. The secular humanist might recognize, intuitively, that diving into the river is a morally good action. But he has no rational basis for saying so. The young man’s decision is between empathy for a stranger (on the one hand) and utilitarian self-interest & community-interest (on the other).

In the end, there can be no binding moral imperatives in the absence of a Moral Lawgiver. If the young man decides to sit back and watch the woman drown, the secular humanist cannot criticize him. He’s only acting rationally.

When I read this, I was of one of the questions from one of my earliest posts, where I list a dozen interview questions to ask atheists. His question is very much like one of my questions. You may like the others in my list, as well.

It seems to me that on atheism, the only answer you can give for why you would do the right thing is “because it makes me happy”. And as we see with abortion – 56 million unborn children dead – it very often doesn’t make atheists happy to save someone else’s life. Not if it means any infringement on their own happiness. Every time an atheist votes Democrat, they are voting to declare that people who get in their way should not be saved. And atheists (the “nones”, anyway) are one of the largest Democrat voting blocs. According to the 2012 Secular Census, 97% of secularists deny that unborn children have a right to life. And the 2013 Gallup poll found that “nones”, people with no religion, are most likely to be pro-abortion. (Note that “nones” are not necessarily atheists, they may have some beliefs, but they are not observant). It’s not rational to inconvenience yourself to save others on atheism. You have one life to live, be happy, survival of the fittest.

What to do if your husband has lost interest in going to church

Theology that hits the spot
Theology that hits the spot

Lindsay, from Lindsay’s Logic, has written a fine post on how to get men interested in the church.

She writes:

Many Christian wives with Christian husbands are concerned because their husbands are withdrawing from church and refusing to attend or to be involved. The number one reason that men are becoming disillusioned with church is that the church has become highly feminized. Worship services often focus on emotional things like singing praise songs and sermons are often more of a pep talk or Christian psychology instead of deep doctrine. And, above all, faith is very commonly spoken of in terms of how you feel rather than reasons and evidence.

Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don’t want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don’t want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.

The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It’s based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).

The rest of her post deals with specific recommendations, and I will only excerpt one below:

4) Stop talking about church and Christianity in terms of feelings. Talk about what God’s word says. Talk about what’s right and wrong. Talk about how we know the Bible is true and about the evidence for the resurrection. Talk about the history of the church and the persecution that people have withstood in order to hold on to what they knew to be true. But stop talking about how church makes you feel good or how much you “love” Jesus. No doubt church does make you feel good and no doubt you do love Jesus, but talking about Christianity in those terms will not help with your husband.

The most important thing to understand about getting men interested in the church is that men are men. We are not interested in most of the things that women go to church for. We don’t like singing much, we don’t like praying as much (we would rather fix everything ourselves, and so praying is like a last resort), and we mostly read the Bible to find out who God is, so that we can make practical plans in real life to achieve real-world results. We don’t read it to feel anything, we just want to find something useful to do from it. Sometimes, Christians want to make Christianity about happy feelings and getting along. Men aren’t like that. We actually like confronting people and debating with them. If you look at Jesus in the temple, or Paul going to synagogues and marketplaces to debate with people, that’s what men want to do. Don’t try to make us go to churches where debates about moral issues, politics and apologetics are not happening, we don’t want to go.

We don’t want to be preached at by fideists, we want everything presented to us as a set of alternatives to debate about. We don’t want to be told what to believe, we want to be told what reasons and evidence there is to think that certain beliefs are true. We don’t want you to wallow around crying about losers, we want to be presented with winners, people who made a difference by achieving something heroic through adversity. And we don’t want to think of God as our creepy stalker / lover, we want to think about God as our battle-hardened commanding officer. We want to know how we can sacrifice our self-interest in order to achieve practical results. We want to train for battle, and then win. So stop trying to make us into girls, and then maybe we’ll be interested in church. This isn’t hard to understand, muppets, you just have to think of things from a perspective other than your own.

By the way, if you are a man reading this, for goodness sake, start learning apologetics and listen to Wayne Grudem lectures on ethics and public policy. You have been greatly mistreated by the church, it turns out that Christianity is not boring or impractical at all, it is only like that in feminized churches, where emotional nonsense dominates.

How will gay marriage affect my marriage?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

In this post, I will get 500 words to summarize why pro-marriage men will be less likely to marry because of the successes of the gay rights movement. Then super-wife Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic gets 500 words to respond to me.

First, I’ll quote from Robert Gagnon to set up the problem:

Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory “bigots” and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations.

As individuals, people of faith will be aggressively indoctrinated, fined, denied advancement, fired, intimidated, and subjected to ceaseless verbal abuse in public and private schools, at institutions of higher learning, at places of employment in public and private sectors, and throughout the main communication organs of the media and entertainment industry. Their institutions and businesses will be set on a collision course with the state: denied government funding, contracts, and loans; denied accreditation and tax-exempt status; and subjected to government harassment.

Here’s why Christian men should be cautious about marrying after the SCOTUS ruling:

  1. Qualified professionals are losing their jobs, and are unable to find work, after being “outed” to their employers for making pro-marriage donations or by writing pro-marriage books, or by just expressing disagreement with homosexuality, even with NO evidence of any actual discrimination in the workplace.
  2. Donation records are being used to punish pro-marriage people. Remember how a gay activist within the IRS leaked all the names of pro-marriage donors to the Huffington Post? The IRS admitted fault, but pro-marriage donors could be exposed to severe consequences, including boycotts, coercion, business closures, death threatsvandalism, beatings and even domestic terrorism. Mark Steyn is not accepting donations for his own legal defense because of the IRS leak of pro-marriage donors. Maine is also seeking the names of pro-marriage donors. There’s a definite effort to punish people who donate to pro-marriage causes.
  3. Christian-owned businesses who decline to participate in same-sex weddings are being punished by state attorney generals with lengthy trials and six-figure fines.
  4. Powerful gay rights organizations continue to attack people who support marriage, e.g. – Human Rights Campaign, ACLU, etc. The arrest of the co-founder of the HRC shows where these groups might be headed next.
  5. According to exit polls, unmarried women voted for Obama by a margin of 70%-29% in 2008. Young, unmarried women were 77% in favor of Obama, according to exit polls. This indicates support for Democrat positions like no-fault divorce and gay marriage. It indicates opposition to free speech, conscience protections and religious liberty. Men see traditional marriage as an exclusive commitment with obligations, and favor moral boundaries to protect children, so they vote Republican.
  6. Most young, unmarried Christian women I talk to are not studying to learn how to defend marriage on their own, or speaking out about it. They are not able to help you defend marriage, it’s not important to them.
  7. Young, unmarried women do not want the responsibility of having to produce children who will grow up to be ADF lawyers or Supreme Court Justices, who could do something about gay marriage. They want the marriage to be fun and to make them feel happy.
  8. I am actually seeing young, unmarried Christian women dating non-Christians, having premarital sex with non-Christians, co-habitating with non-Christians, marrying non-Christians, having abortions from non-Christians, and even having out-of-wedlock children with non-Christians. If a woman cannot control her own feelings, she will not be able to help you defend marriage as a permanent commitment that overrides ever-changing feelings.
  9. The national debt has more than doubled since the Democrats took over the House and Senate in 2007 – from 8 to 18.5 trillion. Debt means higher taxes, inflation, or both. Either way, marriage and children are going to be much harder to support financially in the future. You can do more to defend marriage by concentrating your money on defending marriage, rather than splitting  your money between marriage expenses and defending marriage.
  10. Bigger government undermines men as leaders of the home. For example, a judge overruled a father for grounding his daughter for posting sexy photos online. And again, another judge ruled a man as an unfit parent for denying his son fast food. Bigger government means more intrusion into the home, which undermines the transmission of Christian values and disciplining of children.  You won’t have the freedom to lead your family to do pro-marriage things. It’s better to just defend marriage on your own, instead of getting married and having kids to model marriage to others.

So for these reasons, it’s best for a man to not marry, and remain free to defend marriage on his own instead. Being responsible for a wife and children puts pressure on a man to keep silent, because he is always thinking that he could lose his job, his business, or worse. Better to stay single, and be free to speak out without fear of failing to provide for his family.

Here is Lindsay’s response:

If all a man can find are the kind of women that Wintery Knight describes – self-focused, voting for liberals, thinking marriage places no obligations upon them, wishing to pursue fun and thrills, etc. – then men should not marry them. However, not all women are like that. With churches becoming ever more feelings-based and feminized, it is difficult to find a good woman (or man) to marry. I do not contest that. But difficult and impossible are not the same thing.

Marriage, even in our evil times, remains a wonderful gift from God and one of the best ways to influence our culture through the ability to work as a team for the kingdom of God and through having and raising children who will make a difference. One of the main ways we are called to grow the church is through biological growth. Christians should be having and raising children in the faith. We cannot let the evils in our culture make us retreat from the work of raising godly children to further the kingdom of God and to move Christianity forward into the next generation. If we stop marrying and having children, we will seriously hinder God’s work here on earth and Christianity will die out apart from the converts we can make. But making converts, though important, is often far more difficult than raising one’s own children to know what is right from the start.

I think a lot of people underestimate the difference that can be made by having children and raising them in one’s faith. Take a look at the Muslims to see how effective this can be. Muslims do make converts, but the bulk of Islam’s political and religious influence is made by Muslims outbreeding their opponents and raising children who firmly adhere to Islamic faith. Europeans are suffering a dearth of babies, with fertility well below replacement value. Meanwhile, Muslims are rapidly multiplying. The Muslims in Europe are quickly taking over the culture – primarily by having at least double the number of children that native Europeans do.

What if Christians would stop falling for the lies of the world that children are a burden and a liability and see children as the blessings and assets that the Bible teaches they are? What if Christians would have twice as many children as the godless liberals and raise them with a rigorous and comprehensive Biblical worldview that they could defend with reason and evidence? If we did that, we would change our culture and the world.

The church has gotten too soft. We’ve let a little opposition shut us up. We’ve allowed the values of the world for money and power and convenience and fitting in to strip us of our influence and voice. We’ve tried to be like the world, just with Jesus added in. And that’s precisely why we are failing to make a difference. We need a renewal of our thinking to value what God values and to live counter-culturally. Seeking a good marriage and raising godly children is an important part of making a difference for Christ, and one we cannot neglect if we hope to spread Christianity and influence our culture.

Of course, it is vitally important that, if we marry, we marry well. If a Christian marries someone who cares more for the world and its values than pleasing God and advancing the Christian faith, that is a bad choice. If there are no good spousal candidates available, the best choice is serving God through celibacy and making a difference in other ways. But we should not give up on God’s institution of marriage simply because it is difficult and because the world is now against us. It has been far harder on Christians in the past and they still managed to marry and raise children, even in the face of dire persecution and sometimes death. If we give up at the mere threat of losing a job or being mocked, we let the opposition win without even a fight.

Let us know who is more convincing in the comments.

This woman’s husband left her for his business partner and took her kids

A striking story from the Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved—the life we had built together—was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs—and those of our two young children—no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

Try as I might to save our marriage, there was no stopping my husband. Our divorce was not settled in mediation or with lawyers. No, it went all the way to trial. My husband wanted primary custody of our children. His entire case can be summed up in one sentence: “I am gay, and I deserve my rights.” It worked: the judge gave him practically everything he wanted. At one point, he even told my husband, “If you had asked for more, I would have given it to you.”

I truly believe that judge was legislating from the bench, disregarding the facts of our particular case and simply using us—using our children— to help influence future cases. In our society, LGBT citizens are seen as marginalized victims who must be protected at all costs, even if it means stripping rights from others. By ignoring the injustice committed against me and my children, the judge seemed to think that he was correcting a larger injustice.

[…]At the time of the first ceremony, the marriage was not recognized by our state, our nation, or our church. And my ex-husband’s new marriage, like the majority of male-male relationships, is an “open,” non-exclusive relationship. This sends a clear message to our children: what you feel trumps all laws, promises, and higher authorities. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want—and it doesn’t matter who you hurt along the way.

[…]Our two young children were willfully and intentionally thrust into a world of strife and combative beliefs, lifestyles, and values, all in the name of “gay rights.” Their father moved into his new partner’s condo, which is in a complex inhabited by sixteen gay men. One of the men has a 19-year-old male prostitute who comes to service him. Another man, who functions as the father figure of this community, is in his late sixties and has a boyfriend in his twenties. My children are brought to gay parties where they are the only children and where only alcoholic beverages are served. They are taken to transgender baseball games, gay rights fundraisers, and LGBT film festivals.

Both of my children face identity issues, just like other children. Yet there are certain deep and unique problems that they will face as a direct result of my former husband’s actions. My son is now a maturing teen, and he is very interested in girls. But how will he learn how to deal with that interest when he is surrounded by men who seek sexual gratification from other men? How will he learn to treat girls with care and respect when his father has rejected them and devalues them? How will he embrace his developing masculinity without seeing his father live out authentic manhood by treating his wife and family with love, honoring his marriage vows even when it’s hard?

My daughter suffers too. She needs a dad who will encourage her to embrace her femininity and beauty, but these qualities are parodied and distorted in her father’s world. Her dad wears make-up and sex bondage straps for Halloween. She is often exposed to men dressing as women. The walls in his condo are adorned with large framed pictures of women in provocative positions. What is my little girl to believe about her own femininity and beauty? Her father should be protecting her sexuality. Instead, he is warping it.

Without the guidance of both their mother and their father, how can my children navigate their developing identities and sexuality? I ache to see my children struggle, desperately trying to make sense of their world.

When I was younger and considering marriage, I thought a lot about no-fault divorce and how I would feel about my wife leaving me because she wanted to find herself in Europe, or something. I thought about the feminist judge who would give her custody of our children, and force me to pay alimony and child support. Marriage did not seem like a good risk to me then. I guess part of me always thought that feminists would be the only bad guys in this sexual revolution, and men and children were the victims of feminist selfishness. But this woman’s story really makes me realize how women can be just as much the victims of judicial activism as any man was under no-fault divorce laws. That story she told about the activist judge just made my blood run cold. What must that have been like for her, to lose custody of her kids and have them put into the “gay lifestyle” Grindr-style environment? My heart goes out to her.

Previously, I blogged about Dawn Stefanowicz‘s story of growing up with a gay father.