Wrong Side of History or the Right Side of Eternity

Wrong side of historyOn Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court began to hear oral arguments for two huge gay marriage cases involving the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and California’s gay marriage ban. The court’s decision even to consider same-sex marriage symbolizes just how much America has evolved on gay rights in an unbelievably short period of time.

Many politicians, athletes, celebrities, and even some recognized “Christian” leaders have come out in support of same-sex marriage. Rob Portman became the first GOP politician to support same-sex marriage, others followed. Other famous people like Hillary Clinton Bill Clinton Laura Bush Dick Chaney, Barack Obama, even the controversial Christian leader Rob Bell have all come out in support of same-sex marriage ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision.

One common theme you hear from same-sex supporters is that you will be on the wrong side of history if you support traditional marriage, one man to one woman. They equate it with the civil rights movement in the 60s and how stupid the people who supported segregation (Jim Crow laws) look today. Almost everyone feels the threat of the stigma that you will look like an idiot if you choose “the wrong side of history.”

On the radar but not receiving much attention

Right in the midst this escalating debate something happened in the state of Colorado that received little notice. I think it shines a light on the greater issue at stake here from God’s perspective. It not only shows a main source of the problem but it clearly takes it it beyond the “being on the wrong side of history” to the bigger issue of “being on the wrong side of eternity!”

In March 2013 the Democratic-controlled Senate of Colorado gave final approval to a bill to remove what supporters say is an outdated 19-century statute. One of the headlines of a Denver newspaper states it as “Colorado may legalize adultery.” It is a bill to repeal the crime of adultery from Colorado’s books. Democratic bill sponsors say it is an outdated 19-century statute. The bill also would repeal the rarely-used law of contributing to “sexual immorality” by providing a place for sexual activity outside of marriage, such as a hotel room etc. Bill sponsors say the bill is about keeping government out of people’s bedrooms.

Wrong Side of History or The Wrong Side of Eternity

I lived through the sexual revolution of the 60s which was a move to do away with what was perceived as the repressive, confining, and archaic sexual morals from the Victorian era. Any boundaries for sexual activity (such as marriage) were attacked and removed. It was a time to explore sexual freedom in order to find fulfillment.

I also remember the 70s when sex education came into our public high school. It was fueled by the sexual revolution of the 60s and I was excited (as an unbeliever) to hear what the sex-ed class was about. My friends and I quickly discerned that it was designed to introduce safe sexual practices that were amoral (outside the scope or boundary of morality). We thought it was cool that they were going to teach us how to have sex without the hassle of marriage being a part of it.

At the same time (the 60s and 70s) states began to adopt no fault divorce laws and the idea of sexual expression being confined to traditional marriage began to lose its hold on our culture. This shows us an important key that should be troublesome for God’s people. Sexual expression in the context of traditional marriage between a man and a woman is no longer to be a confining issue.

As we look over the fruit of the last 50 years we need to ask a question that my friend Dave Limmer often ask “Well how’s that working for you?” Anyone objectively and honestly studying our culture over the past 50 years would conclude that making sex outside of marriage legitimate has not greatly helped anything. It has only contributed to pain, brokenness, betrayal, poverty, and more and more children being raised without the security of their mother and father being present.

Besides all of those types of issues that are easily measurable by researchers and sociologist, we have the greater issues of God’s design.  If I have to choose between being on the wrong side of history or the wrong side of eternity I will choose the wrong side of history every time.  God is very clear that His design for sex in within the boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman.  This is the context that He designed sexual expression to find it’s highest fulfillment.  To  hold these standards isn’t hate (even though people can seek to impose them in a hateful way).  It actually is love that wants people to live “on the right side of eternity.”

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators (sex between unmarried people) nor idolaters, nor adulterers (sex with someone outside of who you are married to) nor effeminate, nor homosexuals (same-sex sexual activity) , 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

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Giving Precedent to Feelings over Reality

Kids need parentsEvery snowflake is unique.  You are a unique snowflake and there will never be another like you, filled with unlimited abilities and potential.  Doesn’t that make you feel good about yourself.  While there is truth to the snowflake examples, we must be careful that our feelings about our potential should also have a connection to reality.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA released it’s annual survey of thousands of college freshmen earlier this year. Over 9 million students have taken the survey over the past 47 years, and the data stretches back to 1966.  This year’s version continued to reveal some troubling trends. It appears that college students in the US continue to think they’re brilliant “snowflakes” more than ever before, but their reality continues to not match their feelings.

The survey asks college freshmen to compare themselves to their peers. Since the 60s, there have been dramatically more students who rate themselves as above average in the areas of academic ability, drive to achieve, mathematical ability, self-confidence, etc.  While students think they’re more gifted than their peers in many areas, objective test scores actually show that  areas such as writing skills and mathematics have declined in the past few decades.  Psychologist such as Jean Twenge have labeled this phenomenon among our youth as “ambition inflation,” which might be leading to the post-college depression of the Prozac Age.

This coincides with the continued troubling research from our American educational system that reveals American students performing poorly in various academic skills compared to the rest of the world, while  performing very high in their positive feelings about their abilities in those same areas.  Something in how we are educating is causing students to develop a false security based on their feelings that is not matching the reality of their abilities.  In other words we are producing students who are feeling good about performing poorly.

Is it always wrong to feel bad about something that is bad?

I wrote in a previous post (“God’s answer to an orphaned generation”) about a new ad campaign in New York City initiated by Mayor Bloomberg that has stirred up quite a bit of controversy.  The campaign,  that attempts to discourage out of wedlock teen pregnancy,  posts a series of provocative ads on subways and bus shelters. The ads attempt to shock boys and girls into thinking about the consequences of having children out-of-wedlock.

“Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years,” large text says next to one baby boy. A yellow slash serves as a footnote: “Think being a teen parent won’t cost you? NY state law requires a parent to pay child support until a child is 21.”  Another ad features a little girl who says, “Honestly Mom, chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”  In smaller type, it adds, “90 percent of teen parents don’t marry each other.”

The campaign is targeting teen pregnancy but there is also a larger public problem of out-of-wedlock births, The number of children born out of wedlock is staggering.  Out of 120,000 live births in New York City in 2010, more than 54,000 were born out of wedlock.  The city’s track record is worse than the national average 45% compared to the national rate of 41%.  While only 12% of the out-of-wedlock total came from teens, most came when the mother is between ages 20-29.

The overwhelming amount of research in the past several years, even decades, clearly reveals that children raised without both parents suffer greater challenges than those who are.  Children raised without both parents tend to do worse in school, are more likely to commit crimes, and be poor.  They often pass the disadvantages to another generation by having their own children outside of marriage.  Research in prisons reveal that the vast majority of inmates did not have a father figure in the picture when they were raised.  This is the reality.

Many in the media are lashing out against the ad campaign.  They feel it creates a stigma on single mothers that shames them.  Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC issues a scathing challenge to Mayor Bloomberg in what she perceives to be “shaming” teenage mothers.  She says nothing about the epidemic of children born out of wedlock in New York and the challenges there.

While feelings of shame are usually not positive we must be careful about a bigger picture.  To not be able to warn people of something that is ultimately harmful both personally and to society, because someone may feel bad about it, is part of a bigger problem.  Positive feelings should have a connection to a reality.  Negative feelings should also have a connection to reality.  When they disconnected from reality it is a form of deception that is never a good thing.

Is it possible that we should feel bad about something that is bad?  Yes, I know as snowflakes we have abilities to overcome bad things, but there are still bad things.  Shouldn’t we be able to warn others about them?  The Bible is full of warnings about bad things so people avoid them.  It also contains a warning about. calling something good that is really bad.  Feeling good about what is bad is not a desirable state for individuals or cultures

Isaiah 5:20 NASB  Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

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Dazed and Confused “has God said?”

Has God saidAs we serve the Lord among His people we have often been in, or  encountered people in a state of bewilderment who make statements such as,  “I just don’t know what the Lord is trying to say to me, or what He wants me to do; I am really confused right now; I can’t hear God.”

As we walk in Biblical fellowship with one another we often encounter those who are struggling with confusion.  Our desire is to both comfort them, but also help them move forward in Jesus.  We want to help them turn confusion into faith.

Our enemy is a master of sowing confusion and speculation in our lives.  It is a main scheme he uses to trip us up.

2 Corinthians 2:11  11  so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

This is what he did to Eve in the garden.  He got her to question what God had told her by asking “has God said?” Once he got her to question what God had already said, it was easy to get her to take a step in the wrong direction with a wrong motive, “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God” (freedom from her current state).  Gen  3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”…5  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..”

When we encounter confusion and questioning God’s direction, or the ability to hear it, we need to understand what is usually behind it.  Nine times out of ten the main underlying issue is more about the current difficulty rather than the future direction.  Often the real issue is “I don’t like my circumstances, this is hard, and I am stressed/exhausted.” These real issues can be clothed in “I am confused or am having a hard time hearing God’s direction.”  One question to ask is when did He change it?

Often in such circumstances people want some sort of new direction from God while they are ignoring what He has already said.  The most important issue is whether we are living by what He has already said, both in His word and in the direction He has already given.  People who find themselves confused about “not hearing direction from God” are usually neglecting to pursue what He has already said.  In most cases it is more an issue of endurance than needing to receive a new direction from God.  This is why the Bible says so much about endurance Hebrews 12:1-7 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…7 It is for discipline that you endure.

Example from the Past

This is what happened to the children of Israel after God delivered them from Egypt and sent them toward the promised land.  They encountered various difficulties, some of which were very unpleasant, and began to question God’s direction.  They became confused in the difficulty and entertained another direction.   Numbers 14:3-4 “Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”  4  So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

When we encounter difficult circumstances lets not fall prey to the “schemes of the devil” and become confused about a different direction rather than being faithful to what God has already said.

 

 

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God’s Answer to an Orphaned Generation

Kids need parentsA new ad campaign in New York City that attempts to discourage teen pregnancy is getting headlines recently.  The number of children born out of wedlock is staggering.  Out of 120,000 live births in New York City in 2010, more than 54,000 were born out of wedlock.  The city’s track record is worse than the national average 45% compared to the national rate of 41%.

New York is plastering a series of provocative ads on subways and bus shelters. The ads attempt to shock boys and girls into thinking about the consequences of making babies too early in life.

“Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years,” large text says next to one baby boy. A yellow slash serves as a footnote: “Think being a teen parent won’t cost you? NY state law requires a parent to pay child support until a child is 21.”

Another ad features a little girl who says, “Honestly Mom, chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?”  In smaller type, it adds, “90 percent of teen parents don’t marry each other.”

Children raised without both parents do worse in school, are more likely to commit crimes and be poor. They often pass the disadvantages to another generation by having their own children outside of marriage.  The ad campaign in targeting teen pregnancies but it is really a nation wide problem beyond teens.  In 2010, births by unmarried teen mothers represent only 12% of the out-of-wedlock total.  Most come when the mother is between ages 20-29.

Designed For Family

All the efforts and research point to the Biblical/Creation fact that mankind was designed for family.  Things work best in a family context.  Where did this design come from?  It begins with God.  God has always been a Diving Family, Father, Son, and Spirit dwelling together in perfect family unity.  Before the world was ever created God existed in family with the Godhead as well as the other heavenly beings.  It was perfect family bliss until an unfortunate issue came up that disrupted it.   Satan, out of discontentment with his place in God’s family, led a rebellion, born out of pride that came into his heart, resulting in his removal  from his place in God’s family.  He became the first orphan from family and used his power to create an “anti-family subculture” based on lies, hatred, and torment.  (Isaiah 14:11-16,  Ezekiel 28:13-20,  Revelation 12:7-11)

God, in His desire to fill the earth with His glory, created the earth and mankind in His image.  When God created them He declared in Gen 1:26-27 “Let Us, make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…male and female He created them.”  A central feature of that image was the design to live in family, with Him and each other.

Just like he did before mankind was created, Satan tempted Eve with the same discontentment he had fallen to.  As Adam and Eve sinned, Satan sowed his dysfunction and destruction into family.  Every since then he has been working to destroy and distort the image of family and create as many orphans as possible.  He cannot touch God but he works to distort and eliminate God’s image of family wherever he can.

Cain and his brother Abel were the first siblings that were born into family that had the corruption of sin.  Cain manifested one of the frequent aspects of this corruption, jealousy toward his brother.  He ended up acting on it and killed him. The jealousy was bad but the consequences were worse.  God pronounced a judgment that would mark his life, and mankind in general, if nothing is done to reverse it.  Genesis 4:10-14… (11) “Now you are cursed from the ground…(12) “When you cultivate the ground, it will no longer yield its strength to you; you will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth.”(MSG You’ll be a homeless wanderer on Earth).  Cain would not be able to find complete satisfaction in his work, and he will continually look for family connections but they will be elusive to him.  He became a spiritual orphan.

When people succumb to sin they tend to drift toward the curse of Cain, even though they instinctively try to escape it.  They hunger to belong in secure, family relationships, to escape any feeling of being a “homeless wanderer” (which can be defined as an orphan).   Everyone wants family even though it is elusive to many because of sin corrupting it.

In the Bible orphans are those children who are fatherless.  People without a proper male parent.  If you were fatherless in Biblical times life would be harsh, you would lose home, rights, livestock, and you would be subject to mistreatment by others who would take advantage of you.  The same is true spiritually speaking for orphans today.

Thank God He moves to reverse the curse of being an orphan.  He places His house right in the midst of a orphaned generation.   Psalms 68:5-6  A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.  (6)  God makes a home for the lonely (orphaned)..

Through Christ we can be reconciled to our Heavenly Father, and become joined to His family (the church).  The Family in heaven, joined to His family on earth, work to reverse the disruption the enemy has brought on family and demonstrate God’s answer to an orphaned generation.

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