Monday, November 26, 2012

Love is a Verb

I ran into an old friend of mine the other day—a friend who, after many years, had achieved a successful career as a scientist.  (I am taking pains not to include too much identifying information.)

What with both of us having been active in Christian activities as youth, our conversation invariably turned to some of our experiences in our younger days.  Then, somewhat hesitantly, my friend told me he had stopped believing in God.

Frankly, I was not terribly surprised, given the trajectory of his life in recent years, which had drifted farther and farther away from God and the church, and, along the way, included divorcing his wife and marrying a woman twenty years younger.  It is the old, old story.

If you have ever spoken with some of the leading "new atheists" such as Richard Dawkins or the late Christopher Hitchens, they have been known to concede (in their more candid moments), that a part of their rejection of Christianity is a rejection of the moral claims that believing in God places on one's life.  This fits a pattern that I have seen time and time again as I have talked with people about Christian faith.

It happens like this:  Over time, one comes to realize that if God exists, and especially if he has spoken to us in the Bible, then there are things he has told us to do that (gasp!) infringe on our personal autonomy.  Often this realization happens on a subconscious level.   And so, subconsciously, one begins to find the notion of God's existence and of the truth claims of the Bible to be, for lack of a better word, distasteful.  Consequently, people in this situation begin to use their intellects to find objections—excuses for not believing what they have already decided they don't want to believe.  

For example, when God says, "do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth," or when he says, "I  hate divorce... because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence,” (Malachi 2:15-16) or when he commands us to "rejoice in the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:18), there is a moral claim being made so that, if I believe in God and believe the Bible to be his Word, then, yes, my personal choices are being directed and my autonomy is being limited.

But—and this is where skeptics miss the boat—God's commands are not aimed at robbing us of our freedom or denying us pleasure; in fact, quite the opposite is true.  God wants men and women to have loving, lifelong companionship.  He wants children to have stable and loving families where they can be brought up "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  He wants families that endure over generations and are the building blocks of a society and a people who love and honor him.

Feminists (among others) need to recognize that divorce is not liberation and marriage is not slavery (at least it should not be, if is lived according to God's intention).  God's injunction, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Galatians 5:22) comes within the context of all of us "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (5:21) and is balanced by the injunction, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her" (5:25).

When God commands husbands to love their wives or all of us to love one another, he doesn't mean for us to do so if we feel like it.  But neither is he telling us to do something objectionable, or contrary to reason or nature.  He is telling us, (in the words of the currently popular song by John Mayer) that love is a verb.  As with Anselm's faith seeking understanding ("I believe in order that I might know"), love is something we do in order that we might feel, not something we are supposed to wait to feel before we do.  But love is something that, once we do it, can have (in the words of the old prayer book) innumerable benefits—for ourselves, for each other, and for the whole human race.

All this is merely one more illustration of the fact that God loves us and that his commands are for our good and for our joy.   As the Psalmist says,
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple; 
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward  (Psalm 19:7-11).
"In keeping them there is great reward."  There is a transcendent dimension to life that the skeptics will never know unless they come to believe in God and trust in his Word.   It is only when we have faith that we know the experience of the Psalmist as he prays to God,
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).
Heavenly Father, for all those we know and love, grant that they might come to know you as you are revealed in your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Updated: What can we expect for America in a second Obama term?

The Economy

It is hard to believe, but Americans have been suffering the weakest economic recovery in the history of our country.  Annual GDP growth is actually slower than the recovery in the Great Depression from 1934 to 1940.  President Obama's next term means we should expect more of the same.  Obama's desire to increase taxes and regulations will drive investment out of the US to other countries.

During President Obama's second term, the economy should continue to limp along.  Even if we can get back up to a 2 percent growth rate, it would leave us well below the average 3.1 percent growth rate that the US had between 1965 and 2007.

Government Regulations

A massive wave of regulations has been kept on hold until after the election so as not to cause Obama any political problems before the election.  These regulations will drive up the cost of utilities, energy, health care, housing, and consumer goods, thereby further weakening the economy and increasing unemployment.

Foreign Policy and Defense

Last March, President Obama told then Russian President Medvedev to wait until after the election when he would have to run for re-election again and would be freer to do what he wants to do with regard to unilateral missile disarmament.  More revelations will undoubtedly come out about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi.  It is apparent that Pres. Obama would rather put an American in jail for a video than admit terrorism still exists in the middle east.  So we can expect the Obama administration to continue to apologize for the United States, and to weaken our defense and our standing in the world.

Government Spending and Debt

If you believe that government spending is the way to create growth, you will be happy with what will happen over the next four years.  Obama doesn't believe in tax incentives for those who can actually get the US economy growing again.  He would rather penalize the most productive Americans for working hard and taking risks in order to succeed.  This means that the US will slip further behind the rest of the world.

Runaway government spending under Obama has doubled the national debt to more than $16 trillion.  In the next four years, the impact that this debt has on the value of the dollar will hit home with painful, maybe even disastrous consequences.  This election was the United States' last chance to avoid becoming the next Spain or Greece. 


This election was the only way the United States had of effectively preventing the implementation of the government takeover of healthcare known as Obamacare.  Increased regulation, increased costs, and a decline in the once great system of healthcare and innovation in medical science that this country was known for are what we have to look forward to.

Religious Freedom

The contempt that the Obama administration showed for the Roman Catholic Church and any religious person who is opposed to abortion during the implementation of the Health and Human Services mandate is echoed in the increased hatred (yes, that's not too strong a word) his supporters have for people of faith, especially conservative Christians.  As the selfishness and lawlessness of the anti-religious left increases, buoyed by their success in this election, we can expect further infringement on religious freedom.


My greatest fear going into this election was that American had not suffered enough to realize the bankruptcy of the liberal/socialist ideology that the Obama administration represents.  In the next four years the country will come to see and regret what has happened in giving this administration another term.  Things will need to be turned around in the mid-term elections of 2014 and the presidential election in 2016.  I only hope it won't be too late--but I am afraid perhaps it already is.

Addendum:  Our only hope in all this is a revival or spiritual awakening among faithful Christians that gives the Church new unity, boldness, and power in accomplishing its mission, and that turns the hearts of the people of this country to repentance.  It is incumbent on Christians to pray and work as never before.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Apple, Inc. akin to religion? Studies suggest yes

From here:
For years, observers have noted the similarities between Apple, Inc. and religious cults.  Origin myth?  Check.  Faithful masses?  Just walk by an Apple store when the iPad Mini goes on sale later this week.

“A stranger observing one of the launches could probably be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled into a religious revival meeting,” anthropologist Kirsten Bell, told Tech News Daily this past week.  Bell reviewed several Apple product launch videos for Tech News prior to the iPad Mini launch event last week.


A BBC documentary series that aired last year cited a scientific study that seems to confirm this link.  In the study, neuroscientists analyzed the brain activity of an Apple devotee and discovered that Apple stimulates “the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith.”
Read it all.