Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The battle for Same Sex Marriage

         Tuesday and Wednesday of this week SCOTUS (the Supreme Court Of The United States) will hear arguments for and against same sex marriage. The two cases before the courts are California's Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).  This is perhaps one of the most important cases this court has heard in a decade or more. This trial has the potential to be the Roe v. Wade of my generation. I hope and pray that the Supreme Court will have the wisdom to reject redefining marriage.
         It seems that the pro-homosexual marriage groups have done a good job at swaying some public opinion to their side by equating same sex marriage with the civil rights movement. From their perspective this is a smart move, because it gets results. However, from my perspective I see this as just another lie. The same sex marriage movement is not a civil rights issue. This is clearly seen in states where very strong civil union laws are passed that grant same sex civil unions all the same legal rights and privileges, because these laws do not satisfy the same sex marriage agenda. The phrase "civil rights" implies an issue that is about rights. This argument is mostly over wording/labels. They want the word marriage redefined to included same sex couples. This is just totally uncalled for. Homosexuals deserve to be treated like human beings and to have legal rights, but that doesn't mean that words have to be redefined to accommodate their desires.
       If I sell oranges and I perceive that oranges sales are down due to placement and treatment, I may lobby to put oranges on equal footing with apples, but to ask that the word apple be redefined to include oranges so that I can place my product in the apple section is just not warranted. This would be like the civil rights movement not just requesting equal treatment/status for blacks and minorities, but also pushing to have the color white redefined to include the color black.
       Regarding this trial (and our culture), I fear the worst, but hope for the best.

Is same sex marriage truly the next step in the "civil rights" movement? I think the answer is no. This article talks about this concept some:

Hypocrisy in the Black Church? A Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Friday, March 15, 2013

What is liberty?

         There is a lot of confusion out there about what liberty is and what a libertarian is. I hope to share with you in this article my perspective on what true liberty is. Like any good concept in our culture, that are always people who claim to be a part of something, but do not hold true to the ideals it espouses. Some people will even claim to be a participant in a good concept, but act in the exact opposite way of what true participants should act.
        Then there are people who do not like liberty or libertarian views so they mistakenly or purposefully convince the culture to associate negative terms with liberty. This is essentially name calling or poor interpretation done so to further an agenda.

    So how do I define liberty? Lets start with a definition of liberty from the Merriam-Webster dictionary (online). Here is what definition number one (the definition relevant to this topic) says:

1) the quality or state of being free:
a : the power to do as one pleases
b : freedom from physical restraint
c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control
d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges
e : the power of choice

Most of these definitions do a decent job of describing my view of liberty, however, definition "a" does a horrible job.

   It is important to realize that true liberty is difficult to define with a single short phrase. I see liberty as a more complex concept that combines definitions b,c,d, e, and some additional attributes. Liberty should be and, in my opinion, must be defined and interpreted within a framework. Often people with the wrong idea about what liberty is have acquired that view by trying to define liberty as definition "a"  describes and then expanding it to the extreme. The phrase "the power to do as one pleases" is significantly different than "the power to do as one pleases, as long as it is responsible, just, honorable, and reasonable". Taking the first phrase to the extreme is where labels like "anarchy" and "marxism" come from. However, these labels are incorrect and irresponsible when they are applied to liberty. If liberty was truly anarchy or marxism, then we would not need the word liberty!! The second phrase maybe not be perfect either, but liberty is a complex concept.

     Liberty is perhaps easiest to discuss when placed in an appropriate context. Liberty in the United States of America is about admitting that the government authority has a limit and that individual authority has a limit. In America individual liberties are often destroyed or discarded when government powers abuse their authority and over step their proper limits. When an individual denies that their authority has limits, and they state or act as if they should be able to do as they please no matter what, then they are enacting anarchy not liberty. Liberty ceases to be liberty when you remove it from a proper framework and disregard all limits.

     Now that you understand the difference between anarchy and liberty, who defines the proper limits of liberty? This is a questions which people have written volumes of text about. Many people see this question as requiring a lengthy answer. My worldview has a clear framework and clear limits, because I am a Christ follower and I try to conform to the standards and limits of the Bible. The US declaration of indepence says it well:

 "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

    Since the creator has given us liberty, we must exercise proper responsibility when using our liberty, otherwise we abuse the concept and it becomes something entirely different.

What is a Christ Follower?

            Christian is an over used term often applied by a person to themselves or to others without much thought. The conditions necessary to be labeled or to label one's self a Christian are very minimal.  Therefore a new term, Christ Follower, is starting to gain some ground among authentic Christians who want to use a more accurate term to describe themselves.  The term "Christian" is a noun where as "Christ Follower" is a verb. It may not be a verb according to your english teacher, but the term Christ Follower implies action. You can be a Christian by applying certain views, values, or attributes to yourself, but to be a Christ Follower you have to be actively pursing a lifestyle that is more like Jesus Christ and less like your old, sinful self.
           It does not mean you are perfect, or that you are shouting Bible verses on the street. It does mean that you will not knowingly tolerate any part of your life being out of the bounds of a biblical view for very long. In other words, a self-labeled Christian may be satisfied to have some parts of their life conform to biblical standards and other parts not, but a Christ Follower admits that certain parts of their life do not conform to biblical standards and they begin (and continue) a journey to bring that area of their life into line with God's views.
           Many people, leaders, and politicians claim to be a Christian (or maybe even claim to be a Christ Follower), but they are not followers of Christ unless they are actively becoming more like Jesus Christ. If they hold unbiblical core values (or proudly proclaim unbiblical values) for extended periods of time with no intent to change them, then they are stating with their actions that they do not want to be like Christ. This by definition excludes them from a proper definition of a Christ Follower or of a truly authentic Christian.
         What are the values that I refer to in the previous paragraph when I say, "core values?"   I do not dictate the core values of a biblical worldview or of Jesus Christ. However, I would assert that a proper interpretation of the Bible would includes these core values, to name just a few:

- Believing that the Bible is the true word of God
- That the universe was created by God
- Trust in Jesus Christ as savior and LORD
- Accepting the trinity as true
- That God created the basic family unit (marriage) to be a union of one man and one woman
- That murder is wrong and sinful (including unborn babies)
- Acceptance of the 10 commandments (including the one just mentioned)
- any many more that I should have listed...........

             It is important to note that you do not have to immediately accept all these things as true to be a Christian or a Christ Follower. However, you should (and I would argue must) consider what the bible says on each of these areas and settle for nothing less than having the same view of these issues as Jesus Christ himself. If you accept any view in these areas that does not match the view of Jesus Christ (read the Bible), then you are not actively seeking to live a lifestyle more like Jesus Christ.