Friday, November 07, 2008

Reflecting on "A Lament for America"

This is a midway post, wedged between A Lament for America and the promised (threatened) next post, in which I mean to do more specific theologizing and strategerizing.

Here are my texts:
Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart
is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda (Proverbs 25:20)

Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13)
I spent at least a month doing my best to warn and persuade and cajole, trying to fend off this result — and now it's here. So, how to respond?

I see some fine Christian blogs and writers are jumping immediately to what I think of as the "I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords" approach. (Simpsons allusion.) They immediately are putting up "Oh-well" and "It's not the end of the world" and "Let's pray for, submit to, and support our new president!" posts.


Now, I mean to address the Biblical theology of all that in the next post on this topic, whenever my more pressing priorities permit. But for now, I just have two points:
  1. This really was a disgraceful, disastrous election
  2. Leaping immediately to theologized "Oh-wells" is a miserably poor and un-Biblical pastoral (or otherwise Christian) approach.
Starting with the second point.

You have a friend, or you pastor someone, who has been raped or robbed, or who has just had a loved one commit suicide or apostasy, or just had a spouse commit adultery.

First thing you do is to say, "Oh well, God is sovereign, the Kingdom is all that matters; so, let's just get on our knees right now and thank Him for His blessings, and pray for your rapist. Cheer up!" Right?

Sure, if you're a heartless idiot who hasn't quite read all his Bible.

Because you really don't start there. You will head there, but you're not a computer dealing with another computer. Scripture recognizes a time for mourning. It calls us to weep with those who weep, not to lecture them. Scripture mocks people who sing "Put on a Happy Face" to folks who've just taken a blow.

Look at the prophets. Who knew better than they that Israel and Judah had brought disaster on themselves through their own sin? How did they respond? In various ways, but more often than not, they wept, and lamented.

You could never characterize the prophets' response as anything approaching "Oh well." It was more "Oh God!" It was, "Oh God, no! Oh God, have mercy! Oh God, please spare!" And it was "Oh, my people! Turn back! Don't do this! Look at what is going to happen!"

So, while other (really fine, and I mean that) writers and thinkers seem to want to leap to the "Oh well" stage, I think it's a good time to take time to mourn, and to regroup.

Maybe they're just not old enough. Maybe they don't have the vision of the promise that was America, the memory of liberty within a moral framework, the potential. Look, I'm far from saying everything was ducky. But I'm saying that a lot of things were better, and better-understood, and had far better potential for good.

But I've roamed afield here. Christians can certainly differ as to their theory of government. But within those differences, any failure to estimate abortion as an inexcusable monstrosity is sub-Christian. And Obama is Captain Abortion. He represents a complete policy-defeat. If he keeps his promise, President Obama will instantly bloody the hands of all taxpayers with babies' blood. He will remove all restraints, even the most modest. Stroke of a pen, law of the land.

So all that to say: it is appropriate for Christian patriots to mourn. It is appropriate for Christian patriots to weep. It is appropriate for Christian patriots to ask, "What happened? Why? Are there transgressions to repent of, that we might find mercy?"

And those are the themes I aimed at in that post.

Meta-note. A few readers will want to pile on with "You're exaggerating!" comments. All that tells me is that you haven't been paying attention to this blog for the last month. You don't get to participate in this meta. It's for eyes-open readers who are still trying to process the hit that America just took. And if that's nobody, then I'll just sit here by myself and whistle my little tune.

Postscript: after I had completed this Betsy Markman's comment on another thread pointed me to her very similar post. It dovetails eerily closely with this one.

60 comments:

CR said...

You read my mind about rape example. I mean, do we say to a person who has just been raped brutally, "We need to give thanks to your rapist, and, oh yeah, the Bible says, honor everyone"(it actually does say honor everyone), "so, let us give thanks to God, and honor and respect your rapist."

I would also add that some of these writers are not that young though, Dan, like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan (both of whom I respect) and just this rush, to give immediate honor and respect to Obama. Would we rush to give respect and honor to someone who believed in killing a race of people? I don't think so.

I think the reality, Dan, is that we simply do not see abortion as the evil it really is. Yeah, we think it's a destruction of life, but you know, it's not like it's killing an adult.

This really is a time to mourn and lament and yes, it will take some time to regroup and digest what has happened.

DJP said...

Perhaps I should have titled my original post "Not so fast!"

(Except it wasn't actually a response to anyone; just my own thoughts.)

Stan McCullars said...

Dan, thanks for another great post on this topic. It is definitely a time for grieving.

Andrew said...

Great post.
I know what you mean about the pressure from others to instantaneously leap to the "Oh well" stage on Wednesday morning. It seems bizarre. Either they do not understand the gravity of Obama's priorities or they just assume that nothing will come of it. You know, "We survived Bill Clinton so we can survive this too". But this is a totally different situation than 1992. Different man, different promises, and much MUCH greater potential to follow through on those promises.
And in any case the "Oh well" response smacks of a kind of a gray acceptance of less than God's best.
Yeah, we'll survive an Obama presidency. But many more unborn children will not. Nor will they fare better in the years after Obama has left office.

There is indeed much to grieve over.

Can't wait to see your next post.

Michael said...

I, for one, welcome our new Doomspeaking Prophet Overlord!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

What would be your thoughts though on the end of Habakkuk (namely 3:17-19).

Wouldn't that also be an appropriate response? Though all should fail - yet I will rejoice in the LORD. Etc, etc?

I don't mean to say "Oh Well" and move on. But if I say - thought Barak Obama may ruin the country I love - my strength is in the LORD, I will rejoice in him!

Just curious is all.

CR said...

The key operative phrase there, Michael is "on the end" of Habukkuk. Did you read the whole thing especially the beginning. Habukkuk is outraged at Israel's idolatry and he basically asks the Lord, how long He was going to tolerate this, and the Lord's response is basically, don't worry, I'm going to send the Chaldeans to rip Israel from the land. Did you read his initial response Michael?

Michael said...

Whoa, CR calm down. I am not trolling or trying to start an argument. I agree with Dan for them most part. Yes I have read through Habakkuk. I've also read both sets of posts.

I was even reading Ezekiel 7 today and thought along the same lines as Dan did. I was merely asking if this is an OK response. If God sends judgment to America through Obama - how or why should I be worried? I also posed that as a legitimate question if I was wrong - then fine offer correction in gentleness and reverence.

CR said...

I didn't say you were trolling??

I was answering your question. Posts will always come off as harsher than they appear no matter how hard you try- so lighten up.

Nathan said...

Let me candid, Dan, since I know you'll get a lot of "amens" out of this post. I realize your point is not that we shouldn't honor our new leader, but that we shouldn't be there yet. You think we should still be in soul-searching mode, mourning, grieving, and not quite back on our feet yet. I realize your point is that eventually we'll be saying, "Honor the king," but we need time to mourn first.

Fine. However, you're enough of a pastor to know the speed of grief is not constant. None of us are happy about this, but we all respond to funerals differently. Some of us are blubbery wrecks right there in the pews, and for weeks afterwards. Others of us deal with grief by processing and adjusting to the new reality as quickly as possibly, and relatively dry-eyed (at least publicly).

Expecting everyone to grieve in the same way as you, at the same rate as you, and as publicly as you, ignores the fact that we're all different. Frankly, this post is like a guy blinded by tears at a funeral, staggering from person to person and berating everyone who isn't crying as hard as he is.

We're all weeping with you, Dan, but we all weep differently.

JackW said...

I agree Dan and it's a very sobering thought indeed when the focus is turned within, which happens everytime one crys out to God. I am excited about what God might be doing and what the outcome could be, but torn up by the process and fearful about how it is and will be affecting me and how I may have to respond.

It would be so much easier to just say oh well. After all, Obama was God's choice so it must be good for us, right?

Michael said...

CR - my apologies then. The internet makes things sound a lot harsher than they may be intented.

I would say wouldn't the end of Habakkuk though mirror what's going on here? Though America is an evil and sinful nation - how long O God will you stand and do nothing? Don't worry I will raise up a leader to judge America (much like bad Kings in Israel's day). Well then should the righteous respond as Habakkuk did?

Like I said - just curious is all.

RT said...

For some at least, immediate transferrence to the "Oh, well" phase is a form of denial. Dealing with the horrific reality of what actually happened will prove both complicated and unpleasant, thus it is easier to sweep the next 8 years prospectively into the dustbin of history hidden under the comforting mantle of God's providence. These same individuals, when inevitably they are confronted with the reality of the new administration's policies, will hopefully return to the struggle. They will eventually realize that the order of the phrase "Love God, honor the king" is not merely sequential.

DJP said...

Basically, I agree with and appreciate everybody, so far — CR, Michael, Jack, Andrew... just not Nathan!

Actually, Nathan, I think everything you said is well-said and very apropos. But I think you're mischaracterizing me. I've simply looked around the blogworld and seen a lot of folks (to take your analogy) rushing around the funeral to the weepers and saying, "Hey! Why so serious? Cheer up! Don't you believe in the resurrection? Your raped and mutilated murder victim loved one is in a much better place! You're being a bad witness! Now, let's see that smile!"

I'm saying Whoa. And everything else I already said in the post.

CR said...

Michael,

I would definitely agree that this election is a continuing judgment from the Lord. Many of us had prayed that he would be more longsuffering and remember mercy, but it appears, He's about had it with our nation, and rightly so.

I think we have to remember that judgment is not mere allowing floods and earthquakes and towers to fall. The absolute worst kind of judgment that the Lord could pronounce is giving people over to their desires and that's what He appeared to do with this election. More Americans believe that the government should more for them and I think the Lord is continuing to judge us for that.

Like I've said before, there is one silver lining to all this and one thing I have been able to give thanks for to the Lord and that is with all the efforts to bring out the black vote to vote for Obama, what liberals did not anticipate is black Californians voted heavily for the gay marriage ban (70-30 for). So, it appears that the Lord used the evil desires of people to vote for Obama to amend our state constitution to reverse the push by our state supreme court to push gay marriage. One of the things I have been praying for is for God to remember mercy for our state, and He has appeared to have done that. I'm am so thankful for that.

Now, we have to be cognizant of the fact that Obama can reverse everything by appointing liberal justices to the SCOTUS forcing gay marriage on the whole nation. But, I'll take what we have now.

DJP said...

RT, again, excellent points, and well-put. Thanks.

Nathan said...

Fair enough, Dan. I think we must be reading different Christian responses, since the (admittedly few) I've read haven't urged anyone to "cheer up and get over it." That, I agree, would be entirely inappropriate.

The most I've seen (to use Mohler's blog as an example) is an acknowledgment that great harm has been done, a realistic appraisal of the way forward, and a call to the biblical duty of honor for the king. Perhaps that comes across as cheery and sunshine-happy to some, or at least prematurely resigned. I don't take it that way; but again, we're all different in how we process getting kicked in the gut.

By the way, I usually try not to mischaracterize someone who carries such a big sword.

Andrew said...

RT,
Very well said! I only wish I could be as hopeful as you are when you say,

"These same individuals, when inevitably they are confronted with the reality of the new administration's policies, will hopefully return to the struggle.

I think because the genocide is being conducted behind closed doors by medical doctors, and everything is hush-hush, the "reality of the new administration's policies" will only be known to those who actively seek to know about it. The MSM isn't going to confront the us with a primetime documentary. Even if they did, most would change the channel.

Roe has been in effect since 1973and most of us barely have a grasp on what has been going on during the last 38 years. It's hard to see how even Obama's monstrous policies will change that.

I don't mean to be contrarian. I want to believe that our eyes will be opened in the near (or even far!) future. It just seems like all the denial of this contining bloody tragedy could go on forever without being realized.

Well, not forever.
*gulp*

RT said...

Andrew,

Ignorance and complacency may well prevail but I hope not. Fortunately we have folks like DJP and others stirring up a few desultory waves across the limpid waters of public opinion via the internet and I still cling to the traditional adage that "truth will out." Possibly I am also in denial!

Robert said...

For those of us who live in this country and see a coming (or present) judgment, there isn't much rejoicing. Yes, God is good and in control. But I don't think Jeremiah rejoiced at the arrival of the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem according to the Word of the Lord. In fact, I think there's a book of his response. And it's not called Rejoicings.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1

I don't want to characterize motives, but based on where I've read a lot of the happy talk, much of it (certainly not all) comes from people who want to de-emphasize and reduce Christians' involvement in politics. I wonder if that perhaps is coloring those responses as a well of telling us to move on (pun intended).

Jennifer said...

"It's for eyes-open readers who are still trying to process the hit that America just took."

This post--and CR's first comment about the rape example--has shown me where you're coming from, Dan. I agree wholeheartedly with the need to process, mourn, and grieve.

For me, the election result was less like the sudden news of a loved one's tragedy and more like the long-expected death of a loved one who's suffered from a painful terminal illness. I think of my beloved grandmother. Somehow I knew that her death would be MUCH sooner than the doctors had told us, and so I grieved and grieved SO much those last few months of her life that I didn't cry at all at her funeral--though I was certainly mourning inside. That very afternoon, I began researching all the ways I could help defeat the disease that took her life. I needed to channel my feelings into hope for others.

Some of my family members thought I was in denial, or heartless, or crazy, or whatever, because they were still in shock, so it was understandable that they couldn't grasp my own reaction to the situation.

I've experienced the past several months in the same way I experienced my grandmother's death. It's not that I'm a “heartless idiot who hasn't quite read all [her] Bible,” but, rather, that I've grieved and grieved for months, because I knew in my heart that Obama would be the next President. People in my mega-blue state told me that was just “negative thinking.” I can't explain it, I just knew it would happen, and I grieved for the children most of all.

I grieved some more in the voting booth, but when I got home and watched the returns, I didn't shed a tear. That night I prayed for the salvation of our leaders, and I rolled up my sleeves and researched more ways that I could help defeat the evil of abortion. Very similar to how I reacted to my grandmother's situation.

But that's just ME. That's how I deal with situations like these. You—and many others—have experienced this differently, and that should be respected. I'm sorry if anything that I've written has been a criticism of your right to grieve. My biggest issue--and I think that may have gotten lost in my extreme wordiness (I'm working on it)--was with how it was expressed toward fellow believers.

To use your analogy, none of the funeral attendees should be telling any of the others that their personal, emotional response is “wrong” (unless, of course, they're lashing out at others and creating unnecessary hurt). We should respect our fellow mourners and extend grace, gentleness, and companionship to them, knowing that each of us is different.

The other week, when my pastor officiated at a funeral for a teenager who'd been killed in a car accident, he exhorted us to grieve, but, through his own tears, he also exhorted us to rejoice at the knowledge that this dear young person was with Christ. Talking about hope and rejoicing right in the midst of sudden, horrific tragedy is a strange dichotomy that many of the unbelievers there couldn't grasp and seemed frustrated about. But then, many of us believers couldn't grasp it either.

It seemed insane, at the time, that while I wept, the boy's mother smiled through her own tears and told me how great our God is, how grateful she was for His goodness. I would have been face down on the floor if I were her. I would have been ANGRY that my boy died while the reckless driver of the car lived. But that's just me.

So we stood there together, obeying Romans 12:15, which you quoted in your post. She wept along with me, and I rejoiced along with her. Unbelievers thought we were crazy. We thought we were crazy, I think. It's something I know I will never fully understand until I am face-to-face with my Lord. Some of what He commands us to do makes no sense to this broken-down human being, but I'm compelled to follow Him anyway.

And I'm compelled to retire from theological blogging and commenting, I think. Sorry for using your blog as a platform for my own views.

Praying God's blessing on you today.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

I certainly can't speak for Mohler and Piper (and I'm sure they're glad that I don't), but I think some of the response is a result of the vile talk that we've seen aimed at Bush and conservatives in general over the last eight years. The debate from the left has been so caustic, mean-spirited, and vile, that any discussion of differing viewpoints, no matter how on-point it may be, is viewed suspiciously. In efforts to take the high road, some of us have probably skipped off the road into the land of make believe.

I also think that there is a subtle but important difference between lamenting and panic. You're lamenting, and I get that, and agree I with you. Some people are panicking, and panic needs to be addressed differently.

Rachael Starke said...

Staci -

That's a really helpful distinction.

And another one might be the difference between "honor" and "approve of". Big difference.

CR said...

Also, is it just me, or does this make it more difficult to swallow that Obama is claiming to be a genuine Christian. I mean, yeah, Bill Clinton was a Southern Baptist, but there was no fooling anyone, everyone knew he was a charlaton.

But it's just this wave of people who say, "wow, you can be a Christian and be pro-abortion." This would have been easier to swallow if he was an atheist. I don't know, just makes me want to vomit.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

cr - I think most people are just missing the point. I don't know if they're really saying, "Wow. You can be a Christian and be pro-abortion," but more along the lines of, "Yeah, he's pro-abortion, but he's going to work on reducing the need for abortions."

Since Dan has successfully argued against that point, I won't belabor it here.

Mesa Mike said...

> Obama is claiming to be a
> genuine Christian.

Harkening back to someone's comment (on a different subject) several months ago: Obama is a wolf in wolf's clothing claiming to be a sheep, and everybody is saying, "Wow! Cool wolf costume!"

DJP said...

Jennifer, thanks for all that. I think you understand a good deal, and we're more in agreement than not.

If you'll forgive me for giving the "funeral" analogy yet one more good wallop:

I'd say that what you objected to in me is a bit like this. We're at the funeral of a kid who was killed by a drunk driver.

Over here is a group of people with half-empty bottles of whiskey in one hand, and their car keys in the other. And they're all giggling and happy.

Next to them are some people with beer cans (less alcoholic, but still booze), not giggling, but enjoying their beers... and holding their car keys in the other hand.

And I let loose on both. For which I'm not apologizing, as I hope you understand.

And now, perhaps, we should have a funeral for the funeral analogy.

(c;

reallyrobins said...

I mourn the results of this election. I am not ready to just throw up my hands and say "oh, well". I have, however, acknowleged that the world did not come to an end.

I am not happy about the results of this election. Barack Obama has values counter to most of what I believe as a child of God. That said, I am not wailing and gnashing teeth over the results.

While I would not rush to anyone and say "cheer up", I spent a good deal of time, prior to the completion of this election cycle, reminding my fellow brothers-in-Christ that God is in control no matter the outcome. Of course, I also posted loads of information regarding Obama, and his dealings, with the encouragement to get out there and VOTE! We are not the world's sheeple, we are His sheep!

Are we in a better place after this election? Good heavens, no!

Will I respect his authority over me - yes, to the very extend that I am called by my Lord to go. Will I pray for him and his administration - you betcha! That does not, however, mean I will honor or respect the man himself - but he will be the 44th President of my country - and I do honor that. I love him as a neighbor, and pray for his salvation.

Will I change my values or the standards set before me by the Lord? No way, Jose! Will I pretend to conform? No way, again. Will I petition God to show me what I should learn from this mess? Yeppers.

I'm also praying for those who, two years from now, are holding their heads in their hands wondering what they have done!!

Thanks for the meat to chew.

CR said...

Staci: cr - I think most people are just missing the point. I don't know if they're really saying, "Wow. You can be a Christian and be pro-abortion," but more along the lines of, "Yeah, he's pro-abortion, but he's going to work on reducing the need for abortions."

Excellent point, Staci. Thanks.

Mesa Mike said...

Well, this YouTube is going around the internet today. It's from the Howard Stern show, and purports to show that people didn't vote for Obama on the basis of his politics.

It might be faked, I suppose, but if not, the interviewees were surely cherry-picked for the show, but still it's interesting.

Watch.

Gilbert said...

Dan,

I'll point the finger right at my heart and claim immaturity here.

I'm mourning, yes, but I'm also angry. Can I be angry and yet not sin? It seems to me like God, and His principles, have been thrown under a bus. People didn't heed the warnings, didn't think when they voted. People claim Christians leave their brains at the door of the church when they walked in, and yet many voted as if they left them at the door of the polling place entrance. Some talk about a delusion by God for our transgressions. All I know is 45+ million dead unborn babies had no chance, zero, to praise and worship their God. And likely, given President-elect Obama's track record, those numbers are about to get much worse.

Am I wrong here?

Gilbert said...

MM,

Mid-air collision of posts.

I don't know what to say. I'm not surprised, but if you can find 3 people who said that...

Nobody knows what they believe.
Nobody knows what to believe,
Nobody knows what the truth is.

I'm trying not to cry, and at the same time, grab someone by the neck and yell at them to wake up!

OK, frustration, anger...and I bow my head in sadness.

This is utterly evil and pathetic.
Can I just say how much I hate Satan right now?

Lieutenant Pratt said...

CR- I think God had it with this nation about 221 years ago. Anyone who thinks God has or should bless America is delusional. This nation has NEVER worshiped Him and never will. But that is what happens when you muddle theology and politics.

DJP said...

Yes, that's what Christians do. Christianity isn't a segregated hobby; it's a worldview. It isn't a muddle, when done Biblically. God isn't off in a ghetto; He regards all as His (Psalm 24:1). Because it actually is.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Lt. Pratt: "Anyone who thinks God has or should bless America is delusional."

Assuming the verity of this assertion, then I'm delusional because I do think that God has blessed America in the past.

"This nation has NEVER worshiped Him and never will."

If you mean by "nation", EVERYONE in the nation, then yes, you're quite right.

"But that is what happens when you muddle theology and politics."

This is just silly. Politics is simply applied theology.

Let's say you're an atheist politician. You're still applying your theology of No-God to your your politics.

darrellcdow said...

Well done!

This article is a fresh breath of truth after what I've been reading on other Christian sites.

DJP said...

Thanks, Darrell.

I looked for "I for one welcome our new insect overlords" on YouTube, but only found a poor quality one.

Libbie said...

I only know 'I, for one, welcome our new Dalek overlords', but I would, wouldn't I?

Tell you something. I'm in the middle of heavy real life stuff right now, but I am so blogging in my head about those that use that smug 'I am pro-life - and that means more than being just thinking abortion is wrong' and then they wheel out the healthcare/poverty/warfare thing. Because they always seem to accompany that with a side of 'I disagree with abortion, but I don't think it should be made illegal' which makes them pro-choice.

Honestly. These people picked their own label to try and highlight what they consider is their big plus point - 'choice'. They can keep their own label and not try and broaden the definition of pro-life to meaninglessness so they can have it. I am just so ticked off about that today.

DJP said...

Then you write on that, Libbie. God's given you a wonderful gift for expressing your very sharp and penetrating throughts. You do it.

And I share your contempt for the quislings, of course.

Isn't it quite like saying, "I'm pro-living-Jew... it just means a lot more than opposing the government rounding them up into concentration camps, torturing them, starving them, abusing them, and then killing them horribly. Look, I'm eating a bagel right now!"

CR said...

Libbie: Because they always seem to accompany that with a side of 'I disagree with abortion, but I don't think it should be made illegal' which makes them pro-choice.

Good points, Libbie.

In the mid 19th century, you had three groups of people: (1)those that owned slaves and believed they had a right to own them; (2)Those that did not own them for moral or whatever other reasons, but believed that a person had a right to own slaves and (3)those that didn't own them and believed it was immoral.

They didn't have terms like pro-choice for (2). There were two labels: either you were pro-slavery or anti-slavery. People who say they are pro-life and say they are against abortions but vote for pro-"choice" (i.e. pro-abortion) candidates are pro-abortion. Plain and simple. They didn't have stupid labels like pro-choice, and if you were anti-slavery, then you were REALLY anti-slavery, not like some of the pro-life people today. They believed it so dearly, that many went to war to fight for it.

That's why it sickens me to hear people say some of us are being divisive. At least we're not fighting a war or we're not in the civil rights era. Some that fought in the North and some that protested profusely in the civil rights era did so because they understood so much was at stake.

It's really sad and pathetic to see some who say they are pro-life vote the way they do, either for Obama or third party candidates or no candidate at all. I mean, we're not even asked to pick up a gun or protest like in the Civil Rights era, just VOTE. It's just so nauseating to hear and read what some are saying who call themselves, pro-life. They should be utterly embarrassed and ashamed of themselves. These are the people that would be sitting on the sidelines of the Civil War and Civil Rights era.

Fight on Libbie.

Gilbert said...

CR:

"I think the reality, Dan, is that we simply do not see abortion as the evil it really is."

Am I naive to believe that if one were shown from beginning to end on network TV...or say that film "Silent Scream"...and show some high-quality "ultrasound" video of an unborn breathing, moving its arms...

A lot of people would become pro-life?

We'll show depicted acts of murder and very cruel stuff on TV. Think an abortion hasn't been shown because it would turn many people to pro-life, and possibly repentance, and train wreck the opposition's point of view? I think you'd be right...

CR said...

Excellent point, Gilbert.

When WWII ended, the Allied forces forced the some of the German town folks near the Jewish death camps to bury some of the Jews that died there.

The doctor that performed the abortion for Silent Scream never performed abortions again. Jill Stanek, the nurse that assisted doctors to perform abortions in Chicago, couldn't bring herself to throw the baby that survived an abortion in the medical waste trash, so she held the baby in her arms for an hour before the baby died. Maybe if a few had to throw in the trash some fetuses that would aborted, maybe they would think twice of voting for Obama, or vote third party out of "principle."

I've tried forwarding B2W Ballot Box video on the dismembering of fetuses. One refused to watch, but another, believe it or not, even after watching thought it was the right thing to do, still, to convince his son and the mother of the baby to have an abortion 13 years ago.

So, excellent points, but the human heart is pretty dark, Gilbert. Might sway some, wouldn't sway others.

Lieutenant Pratt said...

CR- I'm a bit slow and have been too hasty in my responses sometimes so I took some time to chew over what you said about either being pro-life or pro-abortion. I understand the logic of what your saying but I have to disagree and here's why:

You say that if one personally opposes abortion but think other people have that right they are pro-abortion. Does that hold true in all areas of life, particularly those dealing with sinful acts? If you say yes then I suppose you would also support laws punishing adultery, bearing false witness (and I mean beyond just legal perjury), failing to honor one's parents, and coveting. If you do not then are you not pro-adultery, pro-false witness, pro-dishonoring parents, and pro-coveting?

I know you'll try to wiggle around and redirect the question but I hope you can give me an honest answer as to the differences.

Bible said...

"I would also add that some of these writers are not that young though, Dan, like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan (both of whom I respect) and just this rush, to give immediate honor and respect to Obama. Would we rush to give respect and honor to someone who believed in killing a race of people? I don't think so."


~That was my reaction too. Respect the office certainly, but wow, Kent Brockman hadn't even finished his broadcast yet. That's what led me to write this. (Many thanks to Dan for his proofreading!)

~Mark said...

Oops, sorry. That last post was mine. One of my co-bloggers was logged in and I didn't realize it.

Andrew said...

Lt,
Just wanted to say that I'm happy to see you interacting with what's actually being said and in your last comment you asked some good questions that reflect that.

Kudos!

I can answer but I don't want to interrupt your dialog with CR. He is able to articulate very well.

I'll say this: there is a reason why you (and nearly everyone else) believe that the government must punish murder (and has a duty to do so) but not coveting. Therein lies the clue to your answer as to why the government should punish abortion (but not coveting).

That's all. I'll let Carlo continue the dialog. Didn't mean to interrupt good interaction!

how weird... the blogger word verification is "prratt" I'm not making this up!

Lieutenant Pratt said...

Andrew,

I didn't ask whether the government should punish murder. My question has to do with the for/against dichotomy. If one personally hates abortion as I do but do not support constitutional amendments banning it I am labeled as being for abortion. I also do not support constitutional amendments criminalizing any other part of the moral law thus I must be pro-adultery and all those other things.

This also raises another issue regarding the moral law. If we argue that government has an obligation to legislate according to the moral law does it not have an obligation to legislate according to ALL of it?

I see where you are coming from regarding abortion. I don't understand the basis for banning same sex marriage in a secular society unless it is simply to codify God's moral law as the law of the land. Again, if that is the goal then should we not wish to codify the whole thing?

Andrew said...

Lt Pratt, you said,
"I didn't ask whether the government should punish murder. My question has to do with the for/against dichotomy."

I understood your question. I gave you 2 dots and asked you to connect them.

I guess it needs to be spelled out.

#1a You are against murder
#1b You believe the government should punish murder
#2a You are against coveting
#2b You believe the government should punish coveting

Explain why you accept 1b but reject 2b. You can answer your question with that.

Suppose I told you I was personally against murder but felt that others have a right to choose for themselves whether or not to murder. You would not accept that. That would be a deliberate choice by me to embrace murder, even if I personally didn't murder anybody.

The same reasoning applies to abortion.

Lieutenant Pratt said...

Andrew,

So what you're saying is that we're pro-life if we want the government to punish abortion providers, women who get them, etc... and we're pro-coveting because we don't want the government to punish coveters. Right?

So we disapprove of the first sin (if we advocate punishment) but we approve of the second sin (by not advocating punishment). Doesn't that make us guilty of coveting since we don't advocate punishment for it?

I think what I'm struggling with is the concept that some sins ought to be punished by the government while others should not. My understanding of the Bible is that all sin is evil and an abomination to God. Government is appointed by God to punish evil and reward good. Thus it seems that government should punish all evil without exception, right?

David Cho said...

Dan, I have a simple but sincere question for you.

You said here

I certainly don't think a Christian has to be a Republican. I just don't think he can be a Democrat.

Would you call outright it was a sin to vote for Obama, assuming that people who voted for him were as informed as you are (although how they interpreted the information before them might have been different from you)?

If so, and you found that that some in your church did vote for Obama and/or registered as Democrats, would you bring about church discipline if they refuse to repent?

CR said...

Lt Pratt: You say that if one personally opposes abortion but think other people have that right they are pro-abortion. Does that hold true in all areas of life, particularly those dealing with sinful acts? If you say yes then I suppose you would also support laws punishing adultery, bearing false witness (and I mean beyond just legal perjury), failing to honor one's parents, and coveting. If you do not then are you not pro-adultery, pro-false witness, pro-dishonoring parents, and pro-coveting?

Key things to consider here Justin. The broad principle of Romans 13 is that the governing authorities are called to be ministers of God and they are to protect human life and establish justice. Some of the other issues you mentioned are issues to be dealt by from the church, not the state.

The civil magistrate is ordained by God for ruling and maintaining order in society. It exists for the welfare of society, and it (the state) is given the power of the sword, not the church, but the state, to use legal force to administer just laws. When the government fails to be the government and protect life then it fails to be government, because that is its chief function. The government, Justin, does not exist to perform the functions of the church (like church discipline), it exists, to perform the functions of the state - to use legal force to protect human life (and property) and establish justice.

Now, we also understand, that the God who is sovereign who ordains the ends, also ordains the means. In the Caesars and monarchies (kings, queens, etc.), the Lord ordained the means through the ruling Caesars and kings and queens and obligarchies. Many of these Ceasars and monarchies throughout history, while violating the Lord's preceptive will to obey God's law, (and therefore responsible for their own actions and will be judged by them) followed God's decretive will - that all things are done for the good of those who love Him.

In our democratic republic like ours, the means are through the people. President elect Obama is the most pro-abortion and pro-infanticide election official (even more far left that Clinton and Kennedy). Obviously, it was God's decretive will for him to be president. I've already explained in other meta's one (which could be overturned by liberal judges that Obama would appoint) good that came out of it and that is in our home state, liberals worked hard in getting out the black vote for Obama, but they also voted heavily for prop 8 - banning gay marriage. It doesn't excuse people who voted for Obama. But the Lord had a purpose in all this.

So, to go back and answer your question, the Bible does allow for some pluralism in this sense, the state and church have separate and distince roles. The church is not to act as the state and the state is not to act as the church. We cannot apply this to "all" areas of life with your examples, because the government and church have particular and distince roles to perform and they must both operate within their own boundaries of spheres of authority.

On this issue of abortion, if you do not believe the government should defend the life of the unborn, then you are pro-abortion.

Lieutenant Pratt said...

CR-

The broad principle of Romans 13 is that the governing authorities are called to be ministers of God and they are to protect human life and establish justice.

I have read over Romans 13 and it seems to me that you are reading your limited preference for the scope of government into the text, practicing eisegesis if you will. The text specifically says

For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

Where do you see in this text that government ought to protect life but leave the punishment of other sins to the church? Is not all sin unjust? For example, adultery is wrongdoing against God and against the faithful partner. Should not government punish that? I'm not understanding why you place limitations on the government's power to punish wrongdoing here?

It exists for the welfare of society, and it (the state) is given the power of the sword, not the church, but the state, to use legal force to administer just laws. When the government fails to be the government and protect life then it fails to be government, because that is its chief function.

We agree in principle that government exists for the welfare of society but I think we disagree as to what constitutes the welfare of society. You say that when government fails to protect life it fails to be the government. I think we disagree about that because I cannot find such an exception in Scripture. The Bible says that government is God's avenger on wrongdoers and it seems to indicate that at all times, not just when government is protecting life.

I think one of the fundamental differences we have here is that you impose your conservative view of the role of government onto the biblical text. That means that you see government's role through a conservative lens. That's how you conclude that the protection of life is government's chief function. I think this has more to do with John Locke's theory of the social contract than it does with the Bible.

Let me explain more clear. You see government as existing for the welfare of its citizens and the major part of that welfare is to protect life and I do agree so far. Unlike you I cannot limit government to this role without biblical warrant. The text doesn't say that government fails to be government when it fails to protect life. And it doesn't say that we are only to honor and obey good government as we define good. It says to do what is good and the text defines good as obeying the government authority. There are exceptions as Christians must never go against God's will. But short of a direct command to disobey God we are to obey government authority even when we disagree.

the state and church have separate and distince roles. The church is not to act as the state and the state is not to act as the church. We cannot apply this to "all" areas of life with your examples, because the government and church have particular and distince roles to perform and they must both operate within their own boundaries of spheres of authority

Where in that text do you find this division? I agree that there should be separation of church and state roles but how do you determine which sins the state should punish and which ones the church should punish? What is the biblical reference for this? (personally, I think the church should punish all sins that are not repented of, whether the government has punished the individual or not)

f you do not believe the government should defend the life of the unborn, then you are pro-abortion.

Then you come back to this without having dealt with my contention. I understand how you elevate this issue above others though not the biblical mandate for it. You have still not explained how being personally against adultery or some other sinful behavior but not wanting government to punish it does not make you pro-adultery or whatever the issue is. You said in your initial post that one is either for or against something and that one cannot be privately against a thing but allow others to make up their own minds about that thing. I disagree though I do see the difference between abortion and adultery. What I am asking is on what biblical basis do you make your claim? The Romans 13 passage does not teach as much as you claim nor does it establish the Lockeian view you hold.

CR said...

Justin,

This is going beyond the topic of the meta. If you can provide your email on your blog, I would be happy to address the issue off the blog.

Becky, a slave of Christ said...

[Reading the meta, when it is already 51 comments long by the time I arrive at the party, can really make this brain forget its original reaction to the post. So, I am going to write this and post it now, then if I need to comment more I will. This is not a refusal to read the meta; it is entirely pragmatic; I will read those 51 as time permits. (Some are pretty long...not like mine or anything.)]

It is appropriate for Christian patriots to ask, "What happened? Why? Are there transgressions to repent of, that we might find mercy?"

It is entirely appropriate to ask that question. This whole election season has put me in mind of a sermon and book of the same title by John MacArthur, where he responded to the words that were on everyone's lips at the time, God bless America. The book is Can God Bless America? and in the first chapter, The Question No One Is Asking, Dr. MacArthur says this,

"Will God bless America? Can God bless America? Should God bless America? Or is our society on the brink of judgment rather than blessing? Are the recent catastrophes merely harbingers of something worse to come?

"Given the moral bankruptcy of modern society, it seems fair to ask such questions. Are we fit for blessing, or has our nation forfeited any claim to divine blessing? If God did bless America, what would He be saying about His holiness? What would He be saying about our morality? What would He be saying about our spiritual condition?

"Can God bless America without compromising His reputation as a holy God? That is the vital question.

"Of course, God can always do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. But when it comes to blessing, He has clearly and repeatedly set down conditions."

In the next paragraph, MacArthur says, "I don't hear anyone asking, 'God, what do we need to do to be blessed?'"

That question is similar to yours, Dan, and it gets straight to the heart of the condition our country is in today. Sadly, seven years after the attack, this nation has not moved any closer to God...rather, her policies and actions grow increasingly against Him. Clearly, the conditions God requires for blessings have not been met.

This sermon and book had a huge impact on me and I have often referred back to their subject matter in the ensuing years (and now, the audio of the sermon can be downloaded for free...which is a great blessing for all, and at Amazon this absolute treasure of a book is available for as low as one penny!) I recommend them to anyone who needs a large dose of perspective.

Concerning the reactions you have observed, Dan, I think that many people are in shock, with minds in a stunned, fog-like state. What can this mean? How can this be? What about the babies? It is almost too big to comprehend, too much to handle; it is so much easier to post something light and mindless.

I have to cling to the reality that God is in control; He is my Rock and I depend on Him. At the same time I understand that it is essential to stand and speak the truth.

Thanks once again, Dan.

CR said...

Becky,

I've read that book, and it is a good book. And I'm sure there is a refrain from some within professed Christianity hoping that the the Lord will "Bless America."

My refrain and prayer has not been may "God Bless America" (maybe it should be) but that God would remember mercy. I think he's done that for our state in CA with the passage of prop 8.

It's really hard to imagine that the Lord will really "Bless America" with less than 7% of the population being truly evangelical. In order for Him to do that, there would have to be a major revival in our nation (something we should pray for) and that's when He would start blessing us. For now, He's continuing to unleash His wrath on our nation, giving us over to our desires - affluence, sex, homosexuality, covetousness, abortions, etc.

He is remembering mercy which is why even though we are in great lament and mourning for our nation, there are these little snippets of mercy we can be thankful that He is still showing.

Lieutenant Pratt said...

How do I provide my email address on my blog? It is prattlerj at g mail dot com (I wrote it that way so those web crawling things can't get it and send me spam)

CR said...

Pratt,

Before any discussion on Abortion and the role of government I would recommend going through RC Sproul's series on abortion. Given that you and Stan McCullars go to the same church, (I know you only go to Sproul's church once a month), maybe you two can get together for coffee or something have a good discussion about it.

You can purchase the MP3 series over the Internet for a pretty cheap price at his Ligonier website. You can also get his study guide. Sproul's treatment on that subject has been pretty helpful.

Stupid Sheep said...

I suppose a question is how long do we mourn? I was nearly crying (my husband prevented me from actually shedding tears) all night, mourning, and wondering where i could get some sackcloth.

I woke up Wednesday and it was a brand new day. Time to move on because what's done is done and there is no use obsessing over something you can't change. What we can do is pray and evangelize because that is where real change happens. Pray that people who voted for him will open their eyes and we can impeach him before it's too late, or at least not re-elect him.

People think it's the end of the world, but for some reason i believe we will have at least one more great awakening or reformation before it's time to go. It may supposed to be ugly on the outside, but underground...really, this is the perfect setting.

Stan McCullars said...

Lt. Pratt,
Would you like to go out for lunch the next time your at St. Andrews Chapel? There's an Outback Steakhouse just on the other side of I-4.

I eat there often as it is one of the few restaurants in the area that caters to people with celiac sprue (I was diagnosed 19 months ago).

CR said...

Lt Pratt - I would also recommend listening to Sproul's message on 11/3/08 - "Principles for Choosing a Leader." at www.ligonier.org Apparently it's a message he recently preached on before election day.

Dan - this is a great message maybe you suggest to others on your concluding. Too bad John Piper was not as clear.

DJP said...

Carlo — thank you and amen. It's an excellent message. Would that Piper had been nearly as clear and emphatic, and had led.

Here is a direct link.