Why I’m Not Boycotting Or Signing Petitions

pray-399613-mYears ago, I taught Bible to junior highers. Part of the requirement was to memorize Scripture, and inevitably someone would ask why. Sometimes I would pose the question: What if a foreign government swooped in and took away our Bibles. It seemed like a far-fetched possibility, but beyond my imagination was the idea that our own government might tamper with our religious freedoms.

Yet, that’s precisely what’s happening. The government, and social pressure exerted by those in position to do so. A&E, for example.

The government’s role currently centers on a portion of the Obamacare legislation that requires businesses to purchase for their employees, health insurance that would cover abortions and “morning after” pills. Any number of businesses run by people who believe the Bible speaks against taking the life of an unborn child will be forced to do something against their religious convictions or go out of business because the penalties for refusing to purchase the required coverage are prohibitive.

There are several cases before the Supreme Court that might reverse this.

So, do we sign petitions?

Or how about the Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who’s life is in danger or the Iranian-American pastor, Saeed Abedini, who was not included in the State Department’s negotiations with Iran. Do we sign petitions to get our government to take our concerns seriously, to pressure them into doing what we think is right?

Or how about the 700,000 people who are advocating a boycott of A&E on Facebook? The conglomerate dismissed the Duck Dynasty guy off the show he created as a result of his answers in a print interview. He was asked about sin and stated his belief that homosexuality falls into that category.

I think it’s reprehensible that a Christian can’t declare what the Bible declares without getting fired from his job.

But I also think it was reprehensible that Paul and Silas were thrown in jail for their faith or that Peter was, that John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, and on and on.

The thing is, the New Testament Christians didn’t turn to political or social pressure as a means to escape suffering. Rather, Peter taught specifically that suffering was cause for rejoicing and was a blessing (see 1 Peter 2 and 4). Even so, believers gathered when Peter’d been condemned to die–not to rejoice, but to pray for his release. And miraculously God answered their prayers.

In contrast, there are examples of Old Testament figures who turned away from God rather than looking to Him as the means for their rescue. King Asa of Judah comes to mind. He started out so well, but his own success puffed him up, and he determined to get out of the next scrape his own way.

God reproved him for turning to a foreign power instead of to Him:

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the LORD your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”(2 Chron. 16:7-9, emphasis mine)

So are we Christians today trying to rely on Aram rather than God? I think so.

We should be in prayer. We should ask God to intervene for us, to rescue us, to bring about revival, to use the present circumstances to shine a light on His grace and mercy.

Instead we are shining a light on our rights–rights which I pray fervently God will protect. But it is God who keeps us, not our rights. It is God who gives those rights and who takes them away, as He did the freedom of the Israelites who rejected Him.

Why would we think the Church today should not have the same admonition to trust God, not our own understanding, that the believers of old had?

Do we think we’ve become so much more capable that we can handle our problems without God? Or do we turn to God to ratify our schemes (God, give us a 100,000 more signatures).

I don’t mean to make light of this. Perhaps God is directing some people to confront our leaders. In a democracy, the people are responsible, and I think we should be speaking out, not quietly slinking into the shadows where we can practice our religion in secret. That happens in totalitarian societies. We don’t need to act as if we’re being persecuted to that extent.

We need to speak up and tell the truth–that a person getting fired for speaking his conscience, is wrong. It’s a violation of the First Amendment.

We also need to pray. If we are not looking to God when we’re under attack, when will we look to Him?

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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President Obama, Faith, And Authority

I don’t know if I can articulate my thoughts adequately in a blog post, but I’ll give it a try. I apologize ahead of time for offending people, because that seems to be the rule of the day — someone speaks their opinion and someone else gets offended; the first someone then clarifies their opinion, but in the end apologizes for it. This way I’ll take care of the apology right off the top. 😀

The opinion, offense, clarification, apology round occurred yet again last February and the first someone was Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The second someone would be those who thought it necessary to defend President Obama, because it seems Mr. Graham said he didn’t know if our President is a Christian. This offended some, in particular those who think President Obama should be taken at his word, and he says he’s a Christian.

It seems he knows quite well what Christianity is about. A year ago at the Easter Prayer Breakfast, he said in part

“But then comes … the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And we’re reminded that in that moment, [Jesus] took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection.”

I read those lines with my understanding of Scripture and nod my head. The President has it right.

But what if …

Could he mean that Jesus taking on the sins of the world brought salvation to each person in the world regardless of his faith in or rejection of Christ? Other public statements the President has said don’t rule out that possibility. In fact, they more nearly corroborate it. This for example:

“I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck — no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose — His purpose.” (From the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 6, 2009 quoted in “President Obama’s ‘theology,’ in his own words”)

Is President Obama a Christian? I don’t know. I do believe from his recent comments about the Supreme Court, however, that he sees himself as above the authority of the Constitution, and that gives me pause.

The news hasn’t done a particularly good job of following this story, I don’t think, but in a nutshell, this is the situation. President Obama made comments on Monday that can be described as pressure tactics directed at the Supreme Court, stating that it would be “unprecedented” for them to declare Obamacare unconstitutional, that this would be the hallmark of an “activist” court, something conservatives decry.

The reason conservatives stand against an activist court is because the Constitution gives Congress the right to make federal law. When the courts do so, they are usurping authority.

Is President Obama right that the court would be taking unprecedented action? Well, no, and he knows it.

The Supreme Court, for the most part, is an appellate court, meaning that it reviews the decisions of other courts. In 1803, thirteen years after the Constitution was ratified, the case of Marbury vs. Madison established what has become known as judicial review — the Supreme Court determines the constitutionality of other laws.

President Obama, with his degree from Harvard Law School and his lectures in Constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, certainly knows this.

Furthermore, Mr. Obama asserted that Obamacare was passed by “a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” when, in fact, it squeaked by in both the House and the Senate.

The health care law wasn’t passed by a “strong majority,” but rather by a small majority through a technical “reconciliation” measure in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, and a narrow vote in the House that didn’t include a single Republican supporting it. House Speaker John Boehner’s office has made a point of reminding the media of the vote — 219-212 in the House, including 34 Democrats who voted against it (from “In Obama vs. Supreme Court, Politics Knows No Bounds”)

The Los Angeles Times makes another interesting observation — even if Obamacare had passed by huge margins, the numbers would not play any part in a decision about the constitutionality of the law.

Furthermore, the implication of the remark was that the number of votes in favor of a bill was somehow relevant to its constitutionality. It’s not. Otherwise, whichever party or point of view is in the majority would be free to tyrannize the minority. (from “Obama’s Supreme Court comments off the mark”)

What troubles me, then, is this willingness on the President’s part to play above the law and above truth. If he is prone to bend the law he has sworn to uphold and politicize the truth to make his case, what does he think about God’s authority?

Don’t his actions regarding abortion indicate that he is also playing above God’s clear instruction not to kill? Can anyone who has read the Bible miss how heinous God considers child sacrifice?

They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

(Yes, yes, I know — there are also stories of bloody massacres in the Bible, but that’s got a different context. There is no wiggle room when it comes to God’s attitude about killing children in the process of worshiping a false god. Abortion is nothing less than killing babies in the process of worshiping self or freedom or a woman’s right to choose).

Part of President Obama’s remarks on Monday appealed to the human element — the fact that people’s lives will be affected. I believe he is acting in good faith. He thinks mandated health care will solve a problem, that it will help people. Just like abortion helps women with unwanted pregnancies.

The human element set over the law puts some person in the position of deciding which humans are going to be affected favorably and which adversely. It says a person, not the Law governing the land, is to decide what is right. And not the Law of God.

Published in: on April 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm  Comments (8)  
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