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The secular culture of the United States has mocked Christianity for as long as I can remember. I viewed part of a film from the middle of the 20th Century a few years ago where the actors were ridiculing the Salvation Army. Long ago, cartoons in newspapers lampooned crazy, wild-haired men on sidewalks carrying signs that proclaimed, “The end is near.” The unbelieving culture has scorned those who strive to be morally good. Perhaps some of the readers here may remember the derisive phrase “Goody Two Shoes.” Christians are portrayed as joyless fun-killers, weirdly religious, obedient to ridiculous rules, believing non-sensical myths, and sexually repressed. Recently, secular media was astonished that the Vice President of the United States would not have a meal alone with another woman because he held to the biblical view that Christians should “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).1 Puritans and fundamentalists have even been portrayed as evil, condemning legalists, patriarchally dominating women to their diminution or destruction in one way or another.

Now, however, after decades of sexual revolution and giving full throat to the meme “Love the one you’re with,” a line from the Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young song, post-Christian society is seeing the downside of “sexual freedom.” Women have discovered that free sex is not really free at all, realizing they experience strong and connective emotions after intercourse, unlike men. A “roll in the hay” is not just a freebie from which you go home, take a shower, go to sleep, and then head off to work the next day, rejoicing in your female liberation and contribution to the death of Puritanical “purity.” No, you have proved the biblical truth, “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, ‘The two will become one flesh’” (1 Corinthians 6:16).2 I don’t mean to imply that all women who have sex outside of marriage are prostitutes, but if a man and a prostitute become one flesh by having intercourse, it would obviously be true of any male and female.

So, in the face of a reality that shouldn’t exist by their liberated lights, pressured by the tears and shame of women who have been taken advantage of and abused, the non-Christian culture is on patrol. It has become the moral police. The cultural watchers are the New American Puritans. However, they are confused guardians with a patched-together law book. They ridiculed Vice President Pence for his rule on dining with women but condemn powerful men who take advantage of women when alone with them. Men cannot treat women like sexual objects as they once did, but women are free to dress, perform, and be photographed as sex objects in various stages of immodest undress. Adultery is kind of okay, depending on whether the spouse “deserves” it or not. Sex before marriage is not only almost universal, but necessary. Child molestation is still on the outs. The sin of homosexuality is not only to be accepted but celebrated. It’s a confused, hypocritical mess.

It’s ironic, is it not, that those who reject Christianity outright are now trying to enforce by human means some of Christianity’s moral laws. They have become like those whom they detest, embracing a death-dealing legalism. But this hate-filled, unmerciful New Puritanism offers no remedy. It has no room for forgiveness, mercy, or grace. If you have broken the New Puritanism’s legalistic religion, you are scum. The religious watchers are behaving in the same the way for which they have demonized Puritans. It is a religion that leads only to condemnation and shame. You are shunned.

This is where Christians rejoice in Jesus. Many of us have committed sins that the New Puritanism condemns. Unlike them, we have a God who shows mercy. Forgiveness. Not only these, but holiness, the righteousness of God Almighty Himself. For free. With no condemnation. Thank You, Lord God. Thank You, Jesus. Your grace and mercy astound us.

 

1The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

2All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, unless otherwise noted.

Gif courtesy Bing images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We hear it every time. After a monstrous shooting event in the United States, the pundits question why, and the experts attempt explanations. Why did the shooter want to kill his fellow classmates? What motivated him? Was he an outcast? Was he bullied? Why did the shooter want to kill the people in the church/mosque/dance hall? Did he hate gays? Did he hate Muslims? Did he hate Christians? What were his politics? Was it a mental health issue?

Something must be done, we are told. We must have new legislation about mental health. We need more rules. Offering thoughts and prayers means nothing, some are now saying. On this point, I agree. Sending “thoughts and prayers” statements are strange. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the victims’ families.” How does one do that? Aren’t prayers supposed to be directed to God?

I think both the Christian reader and I understand the why of all these discussions. Lost, in-the-dark people without God are trying to discover practical solutions to stop people from killing people. They have hope, it seems, that murderous evil can be stifled or eradicated by something humans do. They think the answers can be found in legislation, psychology, or both. This is understandable, of course. What other options do they have? But they have not found an answer. Mass shootings continue. The experts have no solutions because they are looking in every direction except the one that is necessary.

For decades, Christians have been shouting that the degradation of the United States’ culture has occurred because God has been taken out of schools and the government. “What do you expect to happen when you kick God out?” (As if God could be “kicked out” of anywhere.) I don’t agree with them and have not, for these several decades. Praying in school or at government events means very little if people don’t even know the One they are praying to. For unbelievers, such prayers are meaningless—just a cultural tradition. Such traditions have a certain power, but not a very strong one, as we have seen. The Christian culture of the United States is fast disappearing. This has been a good thing, I thought, because people would then see the difference between Christian tradition and the reality of a relationship with God. Realizing that insufficiency, they would turn to Him.

I have been wrong. They have not seen that obvious truth.

It is at this point, however, that I would like to bring up a question, and I am not the first to do so. Sixty years ago, give or take, no one even thought about taking a gun to school and killing classmates or to a dance venue and slaughtering people. I can testify with certainty that such a thought never crossed my mind, and it was never part of the conversations with my friends. Those older than I say the same of their generation.

So, what has changed? Is it because we don’t let kids read Bibles in the classroom any more or pray publicly at some government meetings? Does that make sense to you? Seriously. What has changed in sixty years?

Here is my answer, and I find no joy in offering it: The one who restrains is being taken out of the way, and no amount of jawing about how to stop mass killings or passing legislation is going to stop it.

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:7–8). 1

Let me be quick to add that I have no idea what this taking “out of the way” will look like as it unfolds in its fullness, and I will not offer even the hint of a timetable. In the New Testament, lawlessness has the same meaning as sinfulness. And although this article has focused on the change in lawless violence in the U.S., I could just as easily have focused on the deterioration of other moral laws. Murdering millions of babies. The proliferation of “free” sex and sex outside of marriage. Gender confusion or identity or whatever one chooses to call it. However, most of those in our now-secularized culture do not consider these activities lawless; no, to the contrary, they are needed. How many times have I shaken my head and said, “This is so bizarre. I just can’t comprehend it. Are people really, truly crazy now?”

God is withdrawing His hand of restraint from the United States. People act the way they do in our day because what restrained them before does not restrain them now. Individuals are being given over to their true, sinful nature without inhibition—which is what they have wanted. What lies ahead—inevitably—is the revealing of the man of lawlessness, the man of sin. Very few will be distressed by this. No, he will be welcomed. People will rejoice.

He will fit right in.

Christians, pray that the Lord will have mercy upon the United States of America

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com.

 

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An article in USA Today, dated 3/6/2019 is titled, “Is Vice President Mike Pence a decent guy? Critics say LGBTQ stance, Trump loyalty raise doubts.”1 We are informed that Vice President Mike Pence, a Christian, is not a decent man, according to Elizabeth Warren and Cynthia Nixon, because he believes that homosexuality and trans-sexuality are wrong, and traditional marriage is right.

So, what is the origin of this decency standard? How did these people come to this conclusion, this judgment?

They just made it up. They concocted a boiling, moralistic brew from the current cultural standards in the United States. This standard does not exist in many countries throughout the world. Do these cultural arbiters of what is right and wrong think Muslims, who also consider homosexuality to be wrong, are not decent people? I should think so, unless this decency law applies only to Christians.

Which, to tell you a well-known secret, it does.

And here, all along, I thought that I was a pretty decent fellow.

Guess not.

But let’s get biblical here. Because, in truth, I am not a decent fellow. I am a sinner. Residing in my fallen nature are all manner of hideous sins of which I have been forgiven. It is an astounding truth that the author of this blog post, along with many of its readers, have not only been forgiven, but have become what God identifies as saints—holy ones. Not only saints, but actual sons of the Creator of all things, Almighty God, our Father.

What a stunning thing. Christians inherit this wondrous relationship through the grace and mercy of God alone, a status of which Maureen Groppe, the journalist at USA Today, has no comprehension. No, she has invented, along with Cynthia Nixon, Elizabeth Warren and others, a decency standard, a new set of commandments to replace commandments that have held for some four thousand years. Somehow, they are now qualified to write moral law and to be our judges. However, the moral “decency” they promote is condemned by the Christian God. In truth, it is called an abomination, a disgusting thing. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22).2 And Jesus, in His teaching about divorce, made it clear that marriage is only between a man and a woman, just like it was in the beginning. “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4–6).

This rewriting of God’s moral law is the present landscape in the United States. Non-Christians, rejecting the Lord’s moral laws, invent their own and condemn others who do not hold those same self-created laws with them.

Good is called evil. Evil is called good. But, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

These people have no light in them at all. What they think is light is, instead, darkness.

Come to Jesus, Elizabeth Warren. Reject darkness. Embrace forgiveness and grace.

Please join me in praying for Ms. Warren and others that the Lord will be merciful to them and bring them to repentance and the knowledge of Himself.

 

1https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/07/vice-president-mike-pence-nice-guy/3071635002/

2All Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 

 

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When Laurie and I lived in Mexico, we met a fellow from Germany. He was bright and witty, and we enjoyed talking with him. I don’t remember how, but somewhere the conversation turned more serious, and Christianity came up. He rejected it out of hand, and then as we parted on the sidewalk, he said, “Be human.”

This is the moral worldview of the West. I think. Because I’m not sure they or I know what “be human” means. Perhaps it’s something like Google’s new motto: “Do the right thing.”

But what does “be human” or “do the right thing” mean? What is human? What is right? What is wrong?

“Being human” and “doing the right thing” means signing on to the post-Christian worldview that takes God’s moral law and selects the ones you like and dismisses the ones you don’t. But this way of thinking is absent a center if one thinks it through.

Please allow me to explain.

Most Westerners believe evolution is a fact, not a theory. I know for sure that the scientists at NASA do. They have announced recently (again, I think) that the “basic building blocks for life” have been found on Mars. They will be sending up a probe to drill into the Martian surface in an attempt to discover life. Therefore, intelligent scientists—much more intelligent that I am—truly believe that life spontaneously comes into existence if the “basic building blocks” are there. Add a little carbon, a little water, a little oxygen, nitrogen, and other stuff, and—poof—you’re good. But may this relatively science-ignorant man ask a very basic question? If life just spontaneously comes into existence—time plus chance plus building blocks—why can’t scientists create it here? Sincerely, I’m baffled. You are going to spend billions of dollars to send a drilling probe to Mars to find life that just “happened,” when you cannot create it here, with intelligence and technology at work? I don’t get it.

Nevertheless, if we truly are just “stardust,” random blobs of goop that evolved from some unknown, spontaneous—what shall we call it—combination of things; if we are the tree and the flower and the star and the leopard and the frog and the chimp, what does it matter what we do? Why do right and wrong matter? Who cares what evolved blobs of goop do to other blobs of goop? Are we concerned when bacteria die? Worms? Parasites? Are we concerned when an alpha predator, like a lion, destroys and eats its young? Or when it kills an antelope? No, we are not because, despite our solid belief in evolution, we know lions are different than we. If we awake in a house that is on fire, would we rescue our dog or cat or fish or gerbil before our own children? No. We know we are not all just time plus chance, but somehow there is a disconnect between reality and belief. Thus, while condemning Christianity as outdated or anti-science or superstitious or weird, Western unbelievers hold to its values.

Well, some of those values. For example, we believe rape is wrong but not pre-marital sex. (Please note that a recent poll stated that only 28% of Christians believe pre-marital sex is a sin. Welcome to the church that has been compromised by worldly values.)

Incest is wrong and even illegal but why? Are we worried when apes do this?

Why is bestiality wrong and illegal? Hey, those animals are just stardust, time, plus chance like we are. Eat, drink, be merry and bestial, for tomorrow we die. Whatever—we are all just star dusty blobs of goop. Have sex with whatever blob you wish. What difference does it make?

How about adultery? Well, it is generally frowned upon, unless, of course, love strikes in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Then it’s—understandable. They’re in love! Everybody—well, all random blobs of goop, should be loved.

Poor, lonely, goopy blobs.

Scripture says that everyone on earth knows God exists: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20). But because we do not give thanks to Him or honor Him, our hearts become darkened. Therefore, God gives us over to dishonorable passions, impurity, and debased minds (Romans 1:21-28). 1

This is the current state of the West. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at the madness we witness.

However, before the Christian reader yields to self-righteous, we must confess that all of us are subject to this God-forgetfulness as well. You and I both know that we fail very often to honor God in our lives and to give thanks. The only difference between the Christian and the unbeliever is God’s gracious revelation of Himself to us. We are to shed the light we have been given —forgiven, nasty sinners that we are—into the darkness, so people who are bound up in the same nasty sins we were can come out of depressing darkness into the light. To live forever. To be set free from sin’s bondage. To find meaning in life. To be God’s sons and daughters. To be co-heirs with Jesus.

It is a difficult battle. I understand. The West has strongly rejected what I just wrote. But that doesn’t make void its truth. And there is only one true truth, and it resides in the Lord God Almighty, Creator of all things and Savior to all.

 

1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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