Tag Archives: Fidelity

William Lane Craig explains how Christianity explains evil and suffering

A long journey through the night
A long journey through the night

A lot of people in the West complain too much about any little suffering they have to experience. But sometimes, when a very harsh suffering is felt by someone who has tried to follow Jesus, an explanation is necessary. I found something very good on the Reasonable Faith web site, written by Dr. William Lane Craig.

He makes the following points:

  1. We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur.
  2. The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil.
  3. Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable.

I’ve written before about point #1, in which Dr. Craig’s describes the limitations of human knowledge that make it hard for us to know for certain that a specific evil or suffering does not have a good reason for God to allow it. And I’ve written about #3, in which Dr. Craig makes some arguments for God’s existence. But #2 might be new to some of you, so let’s look at that.

He makes four sub points in section 2 about Christian doctrines that make the existence of evil and suffering more reasonable.

  • 2. a)The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.
  • 2. b) Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.
  • 2. c) The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life. 
  • 2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

My favorite one is 2. a), so let’s look at that one. He says:

2. a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which maybe utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness in this world, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?

You know, I always get confused when I see Christians trying to follow the script of the world and trying to make themselves feel good with consumer purchases, travel, fun experiences, showing off to others, etc. When I read the story of Jesus, it’s pretty clear that the normal Christian life, if the person is following Jesus at all, is about suffering the disapproval and opposition of non-Christians while you remain faithful and obedient to God. Today, there’s probably no better example of this than defending unborn children from adult selfishness. Although, defending born children from selfish adults who seek to deprive children of their biological mother and father is pretty bad, too. Nobody is going to like you for restricting their fun (i.e. – abortion, divorce, adultery, homosexuality, etc.), but being willing to take the heat from non-Christians for the sake of promoting what God thinks is right is true Christianity. It’s what Jesus would do.

Anyway, the one I’ve been thinking about more lately is 2. d), where Dr. Craig writes this:

2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. To know God, the source of infinite goodness and love, is an incomparable good, the fulfillment of human existence. The sufferings of this life cannot even be compared to it. Thus, the person who knows God, no matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still say, “God is good to me,” simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, an incomparable good.

I sometimes feel pretty stressed out about Americans who were born in conservative states, raised by two married Christian parents, attended Christian schools and youth groups, and then abandoned their faith for atheism as soon as they hit college. It really bothers me how people who had all these advantages turned their backs on God, and they’re ungrateful for all their blessings. They show no curiosity about God – they don’t want to know him. But when you read the gospels to see what Jesus has to say about these sorts of people, it’s very comforting. He really sees the problem, and he is on the side of the little guy who has to struggle to be faithful and obedient to God. The Bible has nothing to say to people who are able to feel happy and successful apart from God. It speaks to people who are struggling to follow God. Even when things are difficult, Jesus speaks to the problem of being an alien and a stranger in a world that turns its back on him.

Let’s check in on Britain’s first married gay couple and see how they’re doing

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

A long time ago in 2011, I wrote a long article looking at the research about same-sex relationships. The research said that sexual relationships between men were more likely to be unstable, promiscuous, and involve domestic violence. Also, it said that same-sex relationships harm children, not just because of the instability but because of the loss of relationships with biological parents.

So let’s take a look at one famous very wealthy gay couple from the UK, and see if we find any evidence of this in their story.

This article is from the UK Daily Mail:

Britain’s first gay fathers have ended their 32-year relationship after one of them fell ‘head over heels’ in love with their daughter’s boyfriend.

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 50, is now living with the husband he is currently divorcing as well as their five children and his new boyfriend, 25-year-old Scott Hutchison.

Mr Huchison, who has always been openly bisexual, has previously dated Mr Drewitt-Barlow’s 19-year-old daughter, Saffron.

Mr. Drewitt-Barlow’s current “husband” is named Tony, and he is 55 years old.

The family, originally from Essex, now live in Florida. The children refer to Tony as ‘Dad’, Mr Drewitt-Barlow as ‘Daddy’ and Mr Hutchison as ‘stepdad’.

The shocking move comes two years after Saffron and Mr Hutchison reportedly planned to have their own twins using a surrogate. The pair claim their relationship was never sexual.

[…]Mr Drewitt-Barlow and his husband Tony became the UK’s first gay fathers in 1999 when a surrogate gave birth to twins Saffron and Aspen.

[…]Twins Saffron and Aspen will be 20 next month and were conceived using donor eggs from Tracie McCune before being carried in surrogate Rosalind Bellamy.

Each husband is father to one of the twins, so although they were born at the same time they are in fact half-siblings.

However, Aspen does have an identical twin, 16-year-old Orlando.

The embryo which Aspen came from split in two while it was in the lab and Orlando was frozen for four years before being put into the womb of another surrogate, Donna.

Donna acted as surrogate again for the couple’s second set of twins – who were born nine years ago.

The eggs were from a Brazilian model that Mr Drewitt-Barlow spotted on a catwalk and paid £35,000.

[…]The pair, who are now worth £40million, went on to have five children using other surrogates and egg donors.

They fought in court for their right to be on their children’s birth certificates as father and father and became the first gay couple allowed to do so.

In 2006 they became civil partners and got married as soon as it was legal in the UK in 2014.

Although they don’t seem to be doing very well at commitment, fidelity, children’s needs before adult selfishness department, they nevertheless wanted to move forward from re-defining marriage to eliminate complementary sexes to eliminating religious liberty:

The couple, who previously challenged churches’ right to opt out of gay weddings, also caused controversy by supporting gender selection and hand-picking beautiful egg donors.

My original 2011 article mentioned how expanding gay rights in other countries had let to the elimination of real rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and so on. And I cited a lot of articles from countries that were showing these problems.

Right now, we are seeing how aspects of marriage which used to be seen as central to the marriage enterprise (chastity, permanent commitment, sexual exclusivity, parenting by biological mother and father, etc.) are disappearing as society accepts that happiness-focused marriage as practiced by gay activists is the same as the old commitment-fidelity-children’s-rights marriage. When you lump what gay activists are doing in marriage in with what used to be considered marriage before no-fault divorce and before same-sex marriage, you understand that what marriage means is changing to include behaviors that were viewed as different from natural marriage.

Christians used to believe that marriage was a life-long commitment to self-sacrificially love their spouse, no matter what troubles were encountered, and no matter how they felt. Marriage was not seen as an engine for producing feelings of happiness. Marriage was about being a disciple of Christ, pursuing holiness, and fighting the world to deliver your spouse to Jesus, with a life demonstrated effective allegiance to Christ. Even non-Christians were aware of this vision of marriage, and it influenced how they approached marriage.

But what is it about now? Happiness:

The couple began to drift apart as their sex life dwindled and Mr Drewitt-Barlow’s snoring forced the pair into separate beds.

Husband Tony also suffered from cancer in 2006 and suffered bad health for the last three years because of treatment related to it.

While his is now in remission, it was his hospital admission for osteoradionecrosis in his jaw that sent Mr Drewitt-Barlow into the arms of Scott – who had been his PA for seven years.

Happiness is the goal for marriage once marriage has drifted away from the example of Christ’s self-sacrificial love for his bride, the church. And happiness does not last. Commitment does.

Here are some sample wedding vows from back when Christianity was taken seriously as something that had authority over feelings. Take a look at what marriage vows used to say about marriage. It was all about commitment, and gender-specific obligations tailored to the particular needs of the man and the woman.

We don’t have that any more, because a bunch of feelings-driven people in the church decided that it was more important for Christians to feel good and look good to non-Christians, than to study how to defend the truth-claims of the Bible on controversial issues like sex and marriage.

William Lane Craig explains how Christianity explains evil and suffering

A long journey through the night
A long journey through the night

A lot of people in the West complain too much about any little suffering they have to experience. But sometimes, when a very harsh suffering is felt by someone who has tried to follow Jesus, an explanation is necessary. I found something very good on the Reasonable Faith web site, written by Dr. William Lane Craig.

He makes the following points:

  1. We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur.
  2. The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil.
  3. Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable.

I’ve written before about point #1, in which Dr. Craig’s describes the limitations of human knowledge that make it hard for us to know for certain that a specific evil or suffering does not have a good reason for God to allow it. And I’ve written about #3, in which Dr. Craig makes some arguments for God’s existence. But #2 might be new to some of you, so let’s look at that.

He makes four sub points in section 2 about Christian doctrines that make the existence of evil and suffering more reasonable.

  • 2. a)The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.
  • 2. b) Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.
  • 2. c) The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life. 
  • 2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

My favorite one is 2. a), so let’s look at that one. He says:

2. a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which maybe utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness in this world, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?

You know, I always get confused when I see Christians trying to follow the script of the world and trying to make themselves feel good with consumer purchases, travel, fun experiences, showing off to others, etc. When I read the story of Jesus, it’s pretty clear that the normal Christian life, if the person is following Jesus at all, is about suffering the disapproval and opposition of non-Christians while you remain faithful and obedient to God. Today, there’s probably no better example of this than defending unborn children from adult selfishness. Although, defending born children from selfish adults who seek to deprive children of their biological mother and father is pretty bad, too. Nobody is going to like you for restricting their fun (i.e. – abortion, divorce, adultery, homosexuality, etc.), but being willing to take the heat from non-Christians for the sake of promoting what God thinks is right is true Christianity. It’s what Jesus would do.

Anyway, the one I’ve been thinking about more lately is 2. d), where Dr. Craig writes this:

2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. To know God, the source of infinite goodness and love, is an incomparable good, the fulfillment of human existence. The sufferings of this life cannot even be compared to it. Thus, the person who knows God, no matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still say, “God is good to me,” simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, an incomparable good.

I sometimes feel pretty stressed out about Americans who were born in conservative states, raised by two married Christian parents, attended Christian schools and youth groups, and then abandoned their faith for atheism as soon as they hit college. It really bothers me how people who had all these advantages turned their backs on God, and they’re ungrateful for all their blessings. They show no curiosity about God – they don’t want to know him. But when you read the gospels to see what Jesus has to say about these sorts of people, it’s very comforting. He really sees the problem, and he is on the side of the little guy who has to struggle to be faithful and obedient to God. The Bible has nothing to say to people who are able to feel happy and successful apart from God. It speaks to people who are struggling to follow God. Even when things are difficult, Jesus speaks to the problem of being an alien and a stranger in a world that turns its back on him.

Should a husband take special measures to assure his wife of his fidelity to her?

Painting: "St. George and the Dragon", by Paolo Uccello (~1456)
Painting: “St. George and the Dragon”, by Paolo Uccello (~1456)

I wanted to re-post this story about Mike Pence and his rule about never being alone with another woman, because I have been thinking about the importance of Christian convictions in the process of relationships. Specifically, the importance of a man being a Christian, and understanding the world well enough to make a plan that achieves the results that he sets out to achieve.

Here is the story reported in The Stream:

It sounds like Vice President Mike Pence really loves his wife and really values his marriage.

Yesterday The Washington Post ran a sweet profile of second lady Karen Pence noting her meek, steady influence on her husband. Interviews with friends and colleagues revealed that Mrs. Pence is a prayer warrior. She’s also passionate about art therapy and works to help military families.

But Karen Pence’s quiet power was not what set off a million talking heads on Twitter. No, it was the matter-of-fact statement that Mike and Karen Pence abide by a version of the Billy Graham Rule. In a 2002 interview, then-congressman Pence said he doesn’t drink without his wife present, nor does he dine alone with other women.

This common-sense rule stands out in a town like DC, where many, many marriages have fallen apart because of affairs.

Indeed.

Regular readers of my blog know that I almost always take the side of men against young, unmarried women who have been influenced by feminism. But that doesn’t mean that I think that men who find a good woman and then commit to her in marriage should do as they please. Not only do I approve of what Pence is doing for his wife, but I consider his actions essential and required for any husband. At the very least, every Christian husband has to come to some sort of understanding with his wife about how he intends to protect her from infidelity. And he needs to be realistic about the role that alcohol plays, as well as peer-pressure and opportunity. In a place like Washington, D.C. it becomes even more of a necessity to have these discussions. Every husband who claims to be a follower of Jesus has a responsibility to be a provider, a protector and a leader on moral and spiritual issues. Part of that protector role is protecting his wife from infidelity. Since he is the leader, he needs to have a plan to make sure that neither husband nor wife is exposed to temptation beyond what either can resist.

But look at how people on the secular left responded to the Pence rule: they claimed that Pence was “sexist” and that he could never allow any woman to occupy a position of authority with this rule – even though he had a female lieutenant governor while keeping to this rule.

Newsbusters reports:

Some on the left went crazy, criticizing the VP’s respectful stance as old-fashioned, demeaning to women, or even sharia-esque.

“Pence’s rule doesn’t honor his wife,” MTV News Senior National Correspondent Jamil Smith tweeted. “It uses antiquated ideas about gender and public scorn to place new responsibility upon her shoulders.”

Slate contributor Heather Schwedel accused the politician of holding “a pretty radically retrograde mindset” that views women “primarily as sexual temptations.” Schwedel also quoted formerly evangelical journalist Elizabeth Spiers, who ridiculously wondered if “Pence could argue that he shouldn’t have to hire women on a religious freedom basis.”

Linking to Schwedel’s piece, TeenVogue writer Lily Herman revealed her complete misunderstanding of the VP’s practice. “Mike Pence basically doesn’t interact with women,” she tweeted.

Others made illogical attempts to prove Pence’s hypocrisy.

[…]“Sincere question. How is this different from extreme repressive interpretations of Islam (“Sharia Law!”) mocked by people like Mike Pence,” queried NYT contributor Xeni Jardin.

St. Louis Post columnist Aisha Sultan agreed, commenting: “He’s waaay more Muslim than Obama ever was.”

Mollie Z. reported on even more secular leftist screeching at The Federalist, and she commented:

Infidelity destroys intimacy, happiness, and marriages themselves. But it happens because of the strong temptation that exists every day for most healthy people. When marriages end, the associated costs are financial, emotional, and physical. Divorce tends to be hard on men, women, and children. It harms economic and health outcomes for children, and decreases women’s standard of living over the course of their lifetimes. Guarding against it is smart.

[…]If divorce rates weren’t sky-high and if infidelity weren’t a problem faced by millions of couples, mocking Pence for the means by which he keeps his marriage intact might make more sense. Heck, if the human condition weren’t such that we all find it difficult to do the right thing, the mockery also might make sense.

As it is, Pence’s smart tactics for avoiding the kind of marital failure that could destroy him, his wife, their family, and the lives of those around them is to be commended and celebrated.

I think I know what it is that is animating people to mock Pence’s thoughtful plan. It’s not mockery that is just coming from the secular left, either. The fundamental thing that Pence is doing is this: he is making a plan to achieve the result he wants, and then following through on the plan. The plan does not allow him to play fast and loose with boundaries. He has to exercise self-control well before he is faced with an impossible situation. He has to give up on some freedom and exercise self-control in order to draw a line well before he comes to the line that he cannot cross. In short, Pence has made a plan on his own that is not Biblical, but that will help him to achieve the goal that the Bible sets for him: do not commit adultery.

I think that there are people on the secular left AND on the religious right alike who don’t want to give up any freedom, nor make any plan. They just want to pursue pleasure and be driven by their feelings. They don’t want to say no to anything or have any self-control. This is a problem I see in secular leftists and low-grade feelings-based Christians, too. Naturally, secular leftists lack moral wisdom enough to exercise self-control, that’s a given. But what happens to people on the religious right is that they want to punt to the Bible, and piety and feelings to such an extent that they are destroyed by their own foolishness. Because the Bible only specifies goals, lazy Christians often lean too much on God, refusing to think that there is any wisdom elsewhere that could make the achievement of Biblical goals easier.

That’s why you see a lot of young Christians getting into trouble. If you have a goal to achieve for your Boss, you have to make a plan to achieve it. You can’t just follow your feelings and then blame everyone else when you fail. You can’t do what you feel like doing, refusing to exercise self-denial and self-control throughout a plan, then complain that you didn’t achieve the goal. No one does well on an exam if they don’t come to class, do the homework, and study for the exam.

What about results?

What about the approach of secular leftist women who attack Pence? What kind of men do they choose, and do these men produce results like Pence and Pence’s rule do?

This splendid article from The Stream explores the decisions of the radical feminists, noting that Democrat women pick men like Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton.

It concludes:

What feminists really claim to want from men is a milder version of Jenner: Someone who suppresses, beats down, and denies what it means to be a man. Who internalizes the guilt that feminism sprays men with like a firehose. And yet who (like Jenner) is somehow still attracted to women. A tame man, a damaged man, a man who is no threat at all.

At least that’s what feminists think they want. In fact, they’re probably secretly more attracted to Clinton. They’d be better off with Pence. What they’ll end up with is Weiner.

Who said that there’s no justice in the world?

What we are seeing today is a generation of people inside and outside the church who laugh at moral rules like chastity. Instead of choosing chaste partners and being intelligent about settle moral boundaries, they think that they can achieve the same outcome (lifelong married love) with their own made-up “morality”. When you look around at the great crises of our time: abortion, divorce, single motherhood, you can clearly see that each begins with a decision to take what makes me feel good and disregard moral rules. Naturally, the people who break the rules never imagine that they will not get the same lifelong, married love that the rule-followers get. But of course, it doesn’t work like that. What the rule-breakers really get is Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner. They fail the exam because they refused to prepare for it.

William Lane Craig explains how Christianity explains evil and suffering

A long journey through the night
A long journey through the night

A lot of people in the West complain too much about any little suffering they have to experience. But sometimes, when a very harsh suffering is felt by someone who has tried to follow Jesus, an explanation is necessary. I found something very good on the Reasonable Faith web site, written by Dr. William Lane Craig.

He makes the following points:

  1. We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur.
  2. The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil.
  3. Relative to the full scope of the evidence, God’s existence is probable.

I’ve written before about point #1, in which Dr. Craig’s describes the limitations of human knowledge that make it hard for us to know for certain that a specific evil or suffering does not have a good reason for God to allow it. And I’ve written about #3, in which Dr. Craig makes some arguments for God’s existence. But #2 might be new to some of you, so let’s look at that.

He makes four sub points in section 2 about Christian doctrines that make the existence of evil and suffering more reasonable.

  • 2. a)The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.
  • 2. b) Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.
  • 2. c) The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life. 
  • 2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

My favorite one is 2. a), so let’s look at that one. He says:

2. a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which maybe utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness in this world, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?

You know, I always get confused when I see Christians trying to follow the script of the world and trying to make themselves feel good with consumer purchases, travel, fun experiences, showing off to others, etc. When I read the story of Jesus, it’s pretty clear that the normal Christian life, if the person is following Jesus at all, is about suffering the disapproval and opposition of non-Christians while you remain faithful and obedient to God. Today, there’s probably no better example of this than defending unborn children from adult selfishness. Although, defending born children from selfish adults who seek to deprive children of their biological mother and father is pretty bad, too. Nobody is going to like you for restricting their fun (i.e. – abortion, divorce, adultery, homosexuality, etc.), but being willing to take the heat from non-Christians for the sake of promoting what God thinks is right is true Christianity. It’s what Jesus would do.

Anyway, the one I’ve been thinking about more lately is 2. d), where Dr. Craig writes this:

2. d) The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. To know God, the source of infinite goodness and love, is an incomparable good, the fulfillment of human existence. The sufferings of this life cannot even be compared to it. Thus, the person who knows God, no matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still say, “God is good to me,” simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, an incomparable good.

I sometimes feel pretty stressed out about Americans who were born in conservative states, raised by two married Christian parents, attended Christian schools and youth groups, and then abandoned their faith for atheism as soon as they hit college. It really bothers me how people who had all these advantages turned their backs on God, and they’re ungrateful for all their blessings. They show no curiosity about God – they don’t want to know him. But when you read the gospels to see what Jesus has to say about these sorts of people, it’s very comforting. He really sees the problem, and he is on the side of the little guy who has to struggle to be faithful and obedient to God. The Bible has nothing to say to people who are able to feel happy and successful apart from God. It speaks to people who are struggling to follow God. Even when things are difficult, Jesus speaks to the problem of being an alien and a stranger in a world that turns its back on him.