Friday, April 30, 2010

Thoughts on the immigration issue

     Tempers are flaring as both sides debate the recent Arizona law passed and signed into law to address the kidnappings, sex slave trade, drug trafficking, and other matters spilling in from Mexico through the porous border, resulting in Phoenix having more than one kidnapping a day in 2009. Caught in the middle are the illegal immigrants who flee to the USA to escape the danger and poverty that is an unalterable way of life for those born into the permanent underclass of Mexico. Well educated and upper class Mexicans are not nearly so interested in living in the USA.
      I spent the last week of April 2010 attending a seminar I had sought to attend for a number of years, where I met and conversed with a number of veteran military, intelligence, and law enforcement operatives who had served in Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo, under both the American and the United Nations flags. During the breaks between the lectures on the principles of interviewing and interrogating (not the same philosophy as tactical interrogations where lifesaving information needs to be extracted from unwilling sources quickly), I learned some things from several well-seasoned veterans of the drug wars and other conflicts. They are unanimously contemptuous of elected and appointed officials on both sides of every conflict the USA is involved in, and are convinced that the financial gains realized on both sides of the various conflicts virtually guarantees they will not be allowed to end anytime soon. Too much money, and power, is yet to be made.
     The greatest tragedy, of course, has to do with those caught in the middle. In every conflict it is the little guy, the poor, the uneducated, those who do not wield power and are not related to those who wield power. They are the ones who suffer. They are the ones who are pushed out of Mexico by danger and starvation (Why would anyone risk illegally entering the USA if it was not to escape greater danger at home?) They are the ones many of our fellow Americans, frightened that we are losing our American way of life, aim their anger at . . . mistakenly. To be sure, no nation in history has survived the penetration of its borders from unwanted outsiders, be it China when invaded by the Mongols or Rome when invaded by the Huns, Germanic tribes, etc. Therefore, the concern is a valid one, though I am persuaded anger and frustration is more properly directed somewhere else.
      The immigration issue is a political issue, unlike that of the Huns and Mongols and others. Peggy Noonan is correct, in my opinion, when she blames both American political parties for not attempting to resolve the matter, though she does not go far enough. The immigration problem is related to both the cultural push from Mexico and the cultural pull here in the United States, and no answer that ignores Mexico can be adequate. Mexico is a perpetually corrupt society, never having benefited from a culture heritage altered by the Protestant Reformation. Our country is becoming corrupt, as we left behind the effects the Protestant Reformation had on those who founded this nation. For the sake of the poor and frightened who seek safety and freedom by leaving Mexico, we must close our borders to stop the influx.
     Must we close the border because the illegals are evil, wicked, mean, and nasty? No. Though they are a drag on our society, it is not for that reason we must deny them access. Access must be denied because only when they cannot come here will their discontent result in real solutions to Mexico's perpetual corruption. Our own Revolution was the result of immigrants (Pilgrims) going where they could go (leaving England and coming here), and then finding there was nowhere else to go without pulling up roots (which they were unwilling to do a second time). They had to either revolt against unjust rule by the British crown or submit. Mexicans, on the other hand, have three choices; to submit to the corrupt government and violent criminals, to revolt and make things better, or to enter the USA. Until we deny them the third option they will not take the second option, the only option that will benefit everyone in Mexico in the long run and preserve a United States that still resembles the country our fathers founded.
     Though blame can presently be placed directly on politicians of all stripes on both sides of the border, as well as criminals both inside and outside of government on both sides of the border, it did not begin with those corrupt and wicked men. It began with common and everyday citizens of the United States. Let me explain: People my age mowed lawns to earn money as kids, and worked as bag boys in grocery stores. We washed cars and performed odd jobs in the summer. We bussed tables in local eateries and worked party time in hotels and at resorts. Such jobs are now held by immigrants. Why? Because U. S. citizens murdered so many of their unborn children that an economic vacuum developed that became the Yankee side of the push-pull immigration force. Remember, it has always been bad in Mexico. There has always been a push from south of the border, but it was not until women began aborting their children that an economic pull was created by the void of fewer and fewer young people available to bus tables, pump gas, bell hop luggage, and care for lawns.
     No country that murders her own unborn children has a right to survive. Closing our border will help Mexicans by provoking them to demand better from their politicians. However, unless our people stop killing our unborn, and start having children again, there is no hope for us as a nation. It is all about sin in the end, is it not? Americans killed and are killing their kids and are now threatened by people from the south who are not murdering their children. Our country, like most of Europe and Japan and China, has become a nation of murderers. Such countries have no right to survive. Citizens of such countries are in need of heartfelt repentance.
     What will I personally do about the immigrant issue? I will confess to God the sins of my people. I will become more and more angry at those responsible for the conditions (past and present) that made this problem. And I will both love and befriend the little guys caught in the middle, who seek only safety and security for their loved ones. If they live close enough, I will invite them to church and hope they stay.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sexual Consequences

     The cover of the May 3, 2010 issue of Time magazine reminds us that it was fifty years ago that the US Food and Drug Administration approved a new oral contraceptive, that is known today as The Pill. What did The Pill enable women to do that they had not been able to do before? The first prescription medication ever created for people who were not sick, The Pill divorced sexual activity from one of its most significant consequences . . . the possibility of pregnancy.
     There have always been consequences associated with sexual activity. I once heard an epidemiologist state on the radio that a virgin who has sex with someone who has sex with someone else who has only had sex one previous time (but with someone who is promiscuous) has effectively had sex with Los Angeles County (where I live). That opens sexual activity to a mind boggling set of consequences. However, sexually transmitted diseases are usually private concerns and typically do not result in public humiliation, as was the case with pregnancy for a girl or woman who was not married.
     The Pill made it possible for the first time for two people to know that the likelihood of public consequences for sexual activity was very unlikely. The rest is history. However, there is an aspect of this entire scenario that I have not seen anyone draw attention to, the whole matter of consequences.
     Think about it for a moment: God is a God of consequences. He created this universe to be a realm of consequences. In the physical universe, every action results in an equal and opposite reaction, the Law of the Conservation of Momentum. In the moral universe, there is the Law of Sowing and Reaping, which some people paraphrase with the words, "What goes around comes around." The Bible version, however, states, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap," Galatians 6.7. Thus, God has always guaranteed consequences, with The Pill being a scientific and medical attempt to thwart the consequences of sexual conduct known as pregnancy, leading to the birth of children.
     The Pill has no effect on any of the bacterial or viral consequences associated with sexual activity. The Pill only greatly minimizes the conceptions that sometimes result from sexual activity. Thus, while God designed sexual activity to be the pleasurable communion of husbands and wives in their marriage bed, The Pill made it "safer" for people not married, as well as people who are married, to divorce sex from the most beneficial aspect so pleasurable an activity . . . children.
     Is that a good thing? Is it in mankind's long term benefit for us to convince ourselves that our decisions and subsequent actions can be divorced from consequences? An article I read some months ago bears on this discussion. It was stated that one previously unanticipated consequence of The Pill was the desensitization of a woman's sense of smell, whereby on an unconscious level she could smell the man she was close to. The article when on to say that a woman's sense of smell served to provide an olfactory analysis of male pheromones, with a man who smelled good to a woman being a man whose genetic material was different from her own, providing a measure of safety against the possibility of genetic inbreeding. Thus, a woman could marry a man she met while taking The Pill, but would find him undesirable once she stopped taking The Pill to fulfill her desire to have children by him. A woman who met and married a man she had never slept with (therefore, having not taken The Pill) would not face the possibility, since her sense of smell had not been chemically neutralized to the smell of the man she was considering for marriage.
     Does all of this make as much sense to you as it does to me? God has created a universe, both physical and moral, in which there are consequences. Try as much as you want, you will not succeed in eliminating consequences, you will only change them, sometimes with unpredictable results.
     Should a Christian consider taking The Pill? I do not think so, but that question can be dealt with on another occasion. Let me close with this: I think it is best left to God to decide when conception occurs, and I think it is impudent for anyone to think he or she is better qualified to make that determination than God. When you engage in sex (with your spouse) be ready to take what comes from the communion God has blessed you with. If you are not ready for children you are certainly not ready for marriage. And if you are not ready for marriage you are certainly not ready for sex.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spanking A Predictor of Violent Behavior?

     The May 3 issue of Time magazine reports that a multiyear study concludes that spanking kids makes them more aggressive later on. The study is wrong.
     The book of Proverbs repeatedly show the importance of spanking - Proverbs 13.24: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes." 14.3: "In the mouth of the foolish is the rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them." 22.8: "He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail." 22.15: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." 23.13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with a rod, he shall not die." 23.14: "Thou shalt beat him with a rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
     The rod administered by a concerned parent's hand represents authority. Spankings should be administered with a rod and not with any other instrument, certainly not with the hand. When a parent wields a rod with authority to spank a child for rebellion or foolish behavior, at least three long term benefits result when parents properly follow up such chastisement with tender love and firm instruction: First, chastisement by a parent wielding authority delegated by God reveals reveals to a child the kind of chastisement God administers to His own children, which is motivated by a loving concern for future behavior (Heb. 12.5-11). Second, spanking a child to tearful sorrow is profoundly beneficial in showing the high price of sin and as a method to bring a surrender of the child's will to the parent's wishes. Third, spanking a child shows the power of an authority figure to a youngster that will foster respect for authority as maturity and experience is gained.
     When I leave my study and observe the outside world in which few parents know how to correct their children, I have all the evidence I need in support of the Biblical approach to correcting children who refuse to respond to reason. I pity poor kids who throw tantrums at the checkout stand of the grocery store when they don't get what they want. I sincerely wish their moms and dads had the gumption and the love to swim against the current trends by giving them a good spanking. I am so thankful my parents spanked me. I needed them.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


     The Apostle Paul's reply to the Corinthian's questions about matters related to sexual fulfillment and marriage categorizes Christians into two groups, those who are sexually experienced being dealt with at the beginning of First Corinthians chapter seven and those who are inexperienced (virgins) being addressed at the end. Because of their different experiences, the issues the two groups must confront are not precisely the same, something not fully grasped by many Christians. What is clear and must be accepted as God's will is that, #1, it is not wrong to marry, and, #2, it is wrong to commit fornication, always. Therefore, it is legitimate for a Christian to marry if, in his estimation of his own situation as accountable to God, he must marry to avoid committing fornication. As well, since Paul declares that "it is better to marry than burn" (1 Cor 7.9) it should also be recognized that it is appropriate for a Christian to conclude that the time to marry is now if his passions convince him that he risks falling into sin by not marrying.
     I am persuaded that there are principles found in the Bible that can be adhered to in an effort to secure a mate for life. I advocate courtship. However, I am also persuaded that someone who is sexually experienced as a result of a previous marriage or having committed fornication prior to conversion faces purity challenges a virgin does not always appreciate. Marriage is clearly stated by the Apostle to be a real solution to the temptation to commit sexual sin, and marriage is preferable to burning. That should settle the matter for some people concerning the timing and the necessity of marriage. As a Baptist pastor who embraces the Baptist distinctive of the priesthood of the believer and the competency of the Christian in his dealings with God, it is my privilege to bow to the judgment of a Christian who chooses to marry in order to avoid committing sin.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Risk Management

In Galatians 6.1, the Apostle Paul instructs church members concerning the proper way to involve themselves when they witness an event, or series of events, that suggest a serious matter is occurring or is about to occur in the life of another member:  "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."  Since every church member is already engaged in spiritual conflict at various levels of intensity, it must be considered what additional conflict will result (and at what level of intensity) should you speak to that other Christian concerning his fault.  This risk assessment is rarely performed by believers, with some so risk averse that they never speak to what they see, and others never assessing risk but always speaking boldly where no man should speak.  To be sure, we are to bear one another's burdens, Galatians 6.2.  However, some burdens are simply too great to bear considering your present maturity and spiritual strength, especially if you are not successfully bearing your own burdens, Galatians 6.5.  Much grace is needed to live this Christian life.  Thankfully, great grace is available. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Invisible God

The Bible indicates in three places that God is invisible. The Bible also records Jesus declaring that "No man hath seen God at any time." What benefits to mankind is this attribute of God, being beyond the perceptions of His creatures (at least, beyond the perceptions of His human creatures)? I can think of several: First, if the seraphim (angels) hid their eyes from the brightness of His glory (Is 6.2), it must be that we cannot see Him and live. Second, since God is not normally perceived by the senses He is dealt with by faith, which pleases Him (He 11.6). Third, God's natural revelation of Himself through creation testifies of His greatness and His glory (Ps 19.1-4), leading those with the eyes to see to seek greater knowledge of Him. Thus, the atheist would claim there is no God, though the reality is that the invisible God has not, or not yet, chosen to reveal Himself to the atheist beyond His natural revelation of Himself in the sky above or the earth beneath. What a frightening thing to ponder, that One of such majesty and glory might not choose to reveal Himself to someone, leaving him in the smug cockiness of his ignorance to suffer the fate he deserves.