Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Are You a "Bad Guy?"

Do you ever feel like you are the bad guy?  No, you don't wear a black hat.  No, you do not threaten your children.  In fact, you treat your children with love and are an encouragement to them.  You pay your taxes - not always without grumbling, but you pay them nonetheless.  You respect your neighbor's property.  You respect those in authority over you.  Yet, somehow you get the feeling that you are the bad guy? 


Well, according to some "experts" if you are a white, Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual male, then you are the bad guy.  I had one of the men in my Wednesday morning Leadership-Discipleship Group share the following article with me.  It was titled, "Ohio State course reprimands while heterosexual masculinity."  The article was written by Amanda Tidwell.  It was published by "The College Fix."  Allow me to share some excerpts from the article:


"A class taught this spring at Ohio State University will review a parade of reasons why white heterosexual masculinity is allegedly problematic, tackling the topic from the constructs of racial issues, bullying, pop culture, societal expectations and much more, according to its syllabus. 


"The course, 'Be a Man!  Masculinities, Race and Nation,' includes a variety of readings to that end, including its required textbook, "Dude, You're a Fag!" by C.J. Pascoe, which analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process, but sexual one."  (Other books were cited as being used, but I am embarrassed to even list those titles). 


"The course is ultimately presented as a study in 'feminist masculinity' that seeks to explain how ideas about masculinity 'simultaneously harm yet privilege' men, the syllabus states.  It also aims to explain how 'beliefs regarding masculinity serve to justify certain kinds of violence by men against others, and violence against particular groups of men.' 


"The course was created and is taught by Jonathan Branfman.  Branfman is a doctoral candidate in Ohio State's Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a recent recipient of a 2017-18 Presidential Fellowship, the most prestigious award given to students by the OSU Graduate School, according to the department's website. 


"Branfman is also author of the new children's book 'You Be You!" intended for 7- to 12-year-olds that gives parents a 'simple and accessible way' to introduce children to gender and sexual identity 'in hopes of decreasing stigmas associated with the LGBTQ community,' the Lantern campus newspaper reports."


Okay, at least according to one professor at Ohio State University, I am a "bad guy" because I am a white heterosexual male.  That "badness" has nothing to do with who I am as a person.  It has nothing to do with what I believe about anything.  If I take this course will I be enabled to get over my "badness?" 


Allow me to share a second article, written by Todd Starnes this past January 10.  It can be found at www.townhall.com/columnists/toddstarnes/2018/01/10/universitys-white-racism-course-sounds-like-blame-the-white-guy-101.  "Students at Florida Gulf Coast University can take all sorts of enriching classes - from gender studies to social justice.  But a class on white racism is causing all sorts of campus chaos and charges of reverse racism.  The university calls it 'White Racism.'  But I call it, 'Blame the White Man 101.'


The class, taught  by Professor Ted Thornhill, 'will interrogate the concept of race; examine the racist ideologies, laws, policies, and practices that have operated for hundreds of years to maintain white racial domination over those racialized as non-white.'  The New York Daily News reports students will also have the opportunity 'to discuss ways to challenge white racism and white supremacy toward promoting an anti-racist society where whiteness is not tied to greater life chances.'"


It seems to me that the premise behind this class is that it is "bad" to be white.  I read of another university professor who challenges her students to imagine that they were not white - what would they be thinking?  But, I have to admit that it is hard for me to do that because I am white.  I am a male.  I am a heterosexual male.  And, to make the problem even more intense, I am a conservative, Bible-believing Christian.  According to many, I am the classic example of the "perfect bad guy." 


Friends, it seems to be that we are bordered on the edges of insanity these days.  You see, whether a person is good or bad is not dependent upon his skin color.  It is not dependent upon a person's gender.  According to the Bible a person's ultimate goodness or badness is totally dependent upon that person's relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  The prophet Isaiah says that all our good deeds are as filthy rags before the holiness of God (Isaiah 64:6).  The Apostle Paul says that our salvation is not dependent upon our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9). 


I wonder how Ohio State University and Florida Gulf Coast University would react if someone were to ask them about a class on "The Final Solution to Man's Ultimate Problem - Sin."  I am guessing there would not be any takers.   

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Life Has Value Because of God

Last week I received an article, written by Todd Starnes, that aroused my anger once again.  The article was published at Townhall and was titled, "Shocking! College Student Argues in Favor of Killing Newborn Babies."  (www.townhall.com/columhnists/toddstarnes/2018/01/06/shocking-college-student-argues-in-favor-of-killing-newborn-babies.)


Allow me to share a portion of this article with you.  "From the University of Tennessee-Knoxville comes word of a shocking video of a student arguing in favor of infanticide - killing babies up to two-years-old.  The video was filmed by Students for Life of America on the campus of Tennessee's flagship taxpayer-funded university.  'The idea that someone could support infanticide is incredibly disturbing.  Yet, it reflects the kinds of attitudes our staff members and students can face on a daily basis on high school and college campuses,' Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins said. 


"Brenna Lewis, SLA's Appalachian regional coordinator, recorded one of the encounters in early December with a young man who said he had no problem with aborting two-year old babies.  'The face of the matter is without communication, we have no way of knowing if you are sentient or not,' the unidentified student said.  'It's no different than this tree.  It's alive, but is it sentient?  I don't know.  I cannot communicate with it.'


"But what if the baby is two-years old?  'Can the two year old talk to me?  In some instances I'm fairly certain that is,' the student said.  'But generally speaking the child still has the inability to communicate.  And until we determine that as such at what point does sentience become an issue.  We can't really debate whether or not that is the situation or not.'"


Now, as shocking as that thought is, here is what really angered me.  "In 2015 the Washington Times reported on a controversy surrounding a statement allegedly written by a Princeton University professor on his faculty page: 'Newborn human babies have no sense of their own existence over time.  So killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.  That doesn't mean that it is not almost always a terrible thing to do.  It is, but that is because most infants are loved and cherished by their parents, and to kill an infant is usually to do a great wrong to its parents."


The prevailing philosophy behind such thoughts is utilitarianism.  Life has value only if it can contribute to the betterment and advancement of society.  If we legally allow for the murder of a child within the womb because it has insignificance, then why not the murder of a child who, aside from the love he/she might receive from his/her parents and other extended family, certainly has communicated no significance to the larger social structure.  He cannot communicate with clarity of speech.  She cannot create.  Why should the precious resources of earth be used to feed and cloth someone who has yet to contribute anything productive to society?  This is the heartbeat of utilitarianism. 


But, why stop there?  What about those who are elderly and can no longer contribute to society as they once did?  Why should they be allowed to continue to live?  Perhaps we should allow for their murder as well.  Why should we continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide medical treatment or nursing care for someone who is just a "has-been" and can no longer be productive?  If all we have is the spirit of utilitarianism, then those questions must be answered in the affirmative. 


But, babies do have value.  Two-year olds do have value.  Those in the nursing homes across America do have value.  They have value in the eyes of God.  There was and is a special purpose for their being here.  This month where we remember one of the worst decisions the United States Supreme Court has ever made - Roe v. Wad, in January 1973.  We remember a certain passage of Scripture that reinforces the value of all in the eyes of God.  It is Psalm 139:13-16 where we read these words: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My name was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."


What an incredible text!  You and I have been wonderfully made by God.  Perfect we are not!  Some of us have poor eyesight.  Some of us have poor hearing.  Some of us have congenital diseases that prevent a normalcy of life.  But, you are as God has designed you to be!  You are special.  And God has a purpose for you.  Sometimes we know that purpose.  Samson knew what his purpose was.  The man born blind discovered what his purpose was.  You will discover what your purpose is.  God created you to be more than a mere servant of society.  God created you to be an instrument to receive God's blessings and an instrument through whom God's blessings can flow to others. 


Jesus spoke of our significance when He said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart form the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29-31).  I am so special that God knows the number of hairs on my head!  By the way, He has to subtract a few from that count each morning.  But if God is concerned about your hairs, don't you think that He is also very concerned about every aspect of who you are?  Of course He is! 


For the utilitarian philosopher to say that it is okay to kill a two-year old because she is not sentient certainly is not what Jesus would say.  All life has value.  That utilitarian student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville simply has it wrong.  The Princeton University Professor simply has it wrong.  Jesus Christ has it right.































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018: A Look Into Its Many Questions

The New Year has started with much of the nation in the icy grips of Old Man Winter.  Here in Minnesota, we were greeted with a minus 20 degrees on New Year's Eve morning as we headed off to church.  We are now in week three of subzero nights and single digit highs.  Folks in Dallas are worried about frozen pipes and those on the East Coast are bracing for what meteorologists are calling a "bomb cyclone."  Not sure what it is, but it doesn't sound very good.  Only about 70 days until the official start of spring!


Political unrest is settling over the nation of Iran.  Scenes there today remind us of those that occurred back in 2009.  The economy in Iran is in shambles.  There is a clamoring among the middle class for freedoms from the tyrannical restraints placed upon them by a dictatorial, sharia-driven ayatollah and his administration.  Could this be the beginning of another Arab Spring?  Will the Western world, particularly the United States, sit and watch as they did in 2009, or will they become actively involved in helping those who are desiring a change in Iran?  Can you begin to imagine what the world would be like if there was a regime change in Iran?  Perhaps the entire Middle East would take a deep breath.  If there is a regime change, what would Russia's response be?  We have witnessed a closely-knit relationship between Tehran and Moscow of the past few years.  The situation in Iran could be one of the early seminal moments in 2018.  So, keep you eyes focused upon that region of the world.


The war of words between North Korea and the United States continues into 2018.  So far, North Korea has not launched any missiles.  Yet intelligence sources are declaring that North Korea is developing both chemical and biological weapons that could be attached to a warhead and delivered by a missile.  A recent defector from North Korea was discovered to have antibodies in his system for anthrax, a well-known biological agent.  Just yesterday North Korea issued an invitation to South Korea to have discussions along the border.  How sincere is this invitation?  Is it just a stalling action on the part of North Korea to take international pressure off its weapons program?  How involved will the United States get if such discussions do in fact occur?  And, here is a very interesting question: What will happen in North Korea if there is a regime change in Iran?  Stay tuned as this story about North Korea will be an important one for 2018.


Another area of focus in 2018 will be Europe with its wrestling over how to deal with an immigration crisis that has been created over the past decade or so.  I was just reading this morning that the crime rate in England is at an all-time high and most of it is attributed to the large number of refugees in England.  Last year we witnessed violent scenes in France and in Germany.  Hungary has threatened to build a wall around itself to stop the influx of refugees.  Coupled with that is the increased incidences of anti-Semitism that is flooding Europe.  The stability within Europe is shaky and one wonders at the future of the European Union.  I can assure you that I will be focusing time on Europe this year.


And, of course there is the political climate here in America this year.  Mid-term elections occur in November, but lines are already being drawn.  Current members of both the House and Senate are announcing retirements.  The media is strongly anti-administration.  The #MeToo movement has exposed some of the corruption within the political system.  How influential will that movement be in the upcoming elections?  And the investigations by the Special Counsel and by Congress concerning the 2016 election continue to drag on - seemingly without an end in sight.  Will the impact of the recently passed tax reform legislation influence the attitude of people as elections near?  Will people be swayed by the prolonged media-driven negativity or by the positivity driven by job creations, continued stock-market peaks, and more take-home pay? 


There will be the continued pressure for the acceptance of immoral practices in 2018.  Bathroom usage will be debated in school-board rooms, in legislative chambers, and in courtrooms across America.  Those businesses who take a stand opposing same-sex marriage will soon find that the weight of popular opinion and of legal recourse are against them.  2017 saw the rise of the issue of transgenderism and gender-confusion.  One can only imagine what issue will take center stage in 2018.


And, finally, for those of us who hold to the return of Christ, there is that ultimate question: Will 2018 be the year that the trumpet blows and Jesus returns for His Bride?  Of all the questions to be pondered in 2018, I have to admit this is the most exciting one.  How we pray with the Apostle John, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus."  But we know that, until the trumpet does blow, we have a great work to be done to share with an increasingly spiritually darkened world that there is hope in Christ.  That there is forgiveness in Christ.  That there is love in Christ.  That there is joy in Christ. 


The New Year has arrived.  It is time for followers of Jesus Christ to awaken out of our slumber and to begin to take a stand for Christ and His Kingdom.