Posts in Ethics
Faux-Darwinian Ethics

After concluding that the distinguishing attributes that bifurcate "non-human animals" and "animals" (humans) are ability to reason and capacity to suffer, Dawkins and Singer determine that there is more moral reprehensibility in terminating the life of a horse than a human fetus. Singer goes on to suggests that eating meat without thought to how the livestock is reared and slaughtered is akin to Germans turning their heads as Jews were slaughtered in droves. Additionally, the gravitas for deciding whether one should eat meat should be to the same degree one decides to have an abortion. At which point, Dawkins concedes the moral high ground to Singer—as Dawkins confesses his taste for meat. As to whether a line should be drawn on grounds for ending life, both are agreed that an exact line cannot be set, and propose a continuum in its stead. Behold the Darwinian perspective—without regard to the less than sanguine thesis of Darwinian evolution, i.e., survival of the fittest—sans image of God, dominion over the earth, and an impetus for love of neighbor.

I will close with the words of the inimitable Chesterton:

Nobody has any business to use the word 'progress' unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals... For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word “progress” than we. - G.K. Chesterton, Heretics, 16.

QOTD: Peter Singer's Song of Death

From the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, Peter Singer aknowledges that once we can abandon “those doctrines about the sanctity of human life,” abortion, on the moral ground of utility, makes killing other humans not only viable but humane.

I do not deny that if one accepts abortion on the grounds provided in Chapter 6, the case for killing other human beings, in certain circumstances, is strong. As I shall try to show in this chapter, however, this is not something to be regarded with horror, and the use of the Nazi analogy is utterly misleading. On the contrary, once we abandon those doctrines about the sanctity of human life that—as we saw in Chapter 4 —collapse as soon as they are questioned, it is the refusal to accept killing that, in some cases, is horrific.

Peter Sanger, Practical Ethics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 175.

Christians Should Reject the Privatization of Faith

Secularists demand a privatization of faith when it comes to issues in the public square, unless of course, one’s religious ideology is congruent with the current ethical milieu. If people are willing to get with the times, as the secularists posit, or be conformed to this age (Rom 12:2), as Paul would describe it, then their faith is welcomed by the tolerance brigade with open arms. Not only this, but as the infamous Jerry Falwell once noted, “The structure of American society makes political issues out of moral and ethical issues.”[1] Who is allowed to determine what issues belong in the public sphere and when religious convictions are permitted to inform political stances? The answer is whoever argues the loudest, with the most force, reason, and clout. Christians are not commanded to wait for the return of their King in hiding. Instead they are called to shine in the darkness as the light of the world (Mt 5:11).

President Obama once unashamedly disclosed that it was his faith–more specifically his reflection on the golden rule (Mt 7:12)–that led to his affirmation of same-sex marriage. Here, the President, the colloquial leader of the free world, made clear that it was his religious convictions that informed his political position on the issue. Not surprisingly, the secularist does not protest, “Leave your religion at the door!” It appears that, if the conclusion reached is agreeable to the mob’s agenda, only then is one’s religious rationale permissible. If not, they are urged to restrain their faith convictions, exercising them only in private.

Undoubtedly, Christians should do a better job contextualizing their “religiously motivated” beliefs into universal values. On the other hand, they also ought to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) by giving heed to President Obama’s prophetic instruction, “If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences.”[2] Sometimes the sacred does not, will not, and cannot be ‘translated’ into the secular. Additionally, in those moments, a tolerant society must let religion take its place among the pantheon of opinions and lifestyles, and should be given as much credence as the rest.

Separation of church and state simply means that there is no state sanctioned church. But surely the remnants of a civic religion, which are still woven throughout the tapestry of this nation, are still evident (e.g. references to a Creator in the Declaration of Independence, “In God we trust” on money, “one nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance, Scripture readings and prayer at the Presidential inauguration, etc.). As Stephen Carter, an American law professor, rightly commented about the social hegemony of secularization, this modern notion of separation of church and state treats religion as merely a hobby with no social relevance.[3] The blaring reality is that it is impossible to suspend one’s religious (or non-religious) beliefs when entering into discussion that concerns the public square. Convictions of conscience are not a coat that needs to be checked in on the way into a restaurant. Beliefs are ingrained in people, and should not and cannot be separated from the lenses through which they process all reality. While the efficacy of an argument from faith may be bolstered if translated from belief into universal principle, in a democratic republic, it should not have to be.


  1. Cited in Mac Brunson and James W. Bryant, *The New Guidebook for Pastors * (Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2007), 188.  ↩

  2. Quote from a transcript of President Obama’s keynote address at the Sojourners/Call to Renewal “Building a Covenant for a New America” conference in Washington, D.C delivered on June 26, 2006: “Transcript: Obama’s 2006 Sojourners/Call to Renewal Address on Faith and Politics,” accessed May 9, 2014, http://sojo.net/blogs/2012/02/21/transcript-obamas–2006-sojournerscall-renewal-address-faith-and-politics.  ↩

  3. Cited in Dennis P. Hollinger, Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World, Kindle Edition (Baker Academic, 2002), 253.  ↩

Natural as Normal?

I've heard the rhetorical question lobbied, "When did you choose to be straight?" as a means to show that if an attraction comes about naturally, it must be normal. If it’s normal, it must be accepted. However, we would never condone or encourage people who express a growing sexual appetite for the adolescent. As a whole, I would hope, we would chastise them for such perversity, encourage them to seek counseling, and demand that they refrain from acting on these inclinations, regardless of the ostensible interest level of their counterparts. At one point, this was the same reaction given to people who expressed same-sex attraction. Such a response is now viewed as intolerant, hateful, and bigoted. Any arguments given, whether theological, anthropological, or sociological, are labelled homophobic.

If natural is normal, then why doesn’t the same rule apply for those who experience pedophilic attraction?

What right do you have to tell someone to control their instinctual and involuntary attractions? With shame you not only push them into a proverbial closet, but lock the door with the threat that if they come out they will be the ire of the public and will also be locked in actual closet-like quarters. What gives you the moral authority to label someone's inclination as “sinful”?  We 'ALL' know that sin is a social construction invented to control the behavior of the masses with guilt, shame, and fear of punishment.

Furthermore, do you even know a pedophile? All of your derogatory thoughts are built on stereotypes, horror stories on the news, and hearsay. From an article this week out of England: “'The public,’ wrote Dr Taylor, ‘generally thinks of paedophiles as sick or evil men who lurk around school playgrounds in the hope of attempting unspecified beastliness with unsuspecting innocent children.’ That, he reassured readers, was merely a ‘stereotype’, both ‘inaccurate and unhelpful’, which flew in the face of the ‘empirical realities of paedophile behavior.’”

Why not give this growing population of pedophiles a mediatorial character to serve as comic relief on a popular sitcom? One character could ask, “Why do you like twenty-eight year olds?” The pedophile could answer, “Because there are twenty of them!” [Cue laugh track]. Love is love, right? I thought you were for equality? Unless, in actuality, the message you propagate is for equality* (*some exclusions apply). Don’t be caught on the wrong side of history…

^This doesn’t feel good, does it? It’s like a pit bull who will not slacken his bite unless you kill him. The “tolerance chainsaw”, as Douglas Wilson has affectionately referred to it, is coming for us all. Everything is permissible except for dissent.

I'm not drawing a one for one parallel between the practice of homosexuality and pedophilia: the former involves the sexual engagement of two consenting adults, the latter, an adult and a minor. I am, however, drawing a parallel between same-sex attraction and pedophilic/hebephilic attraction. Can/should a person be shamed, condemned, censured, and corrected for experiencing a naturally occurring attraction?

My point being, we all have a line. As a Bible-believing Christian I have the distinct privilege of having my line infallibly drawn for me by the Creator God. Who drew yours?

 

A Word On The Exclusivity Of Our Faith

The Christian faith is exclusive. It is exclusive because its Savior is the exclusive truth, life, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6). This sort of exclusivity bucks up against the anthem of this age, which is tolerance. Yet truth is by nature intolerant of falsehood. And truth becomes dogma the instant it is disputed.[1] Truth, however, is worth fighting for. If the people of Christ, whose exclusive claim is truth, do not defend it, who will? Chesterton wrote these sobering words in his work, Orthodoxy: “We are on the road to producing a race of men too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. We are in danger of seeing philosophers who doubt the law of gravity as being a mere fancy of their own.”[2] Humanity governs its life according to truth principles. Engineers estimate the loadbearing weight of a crossbeam and build accordingly. Parents operate under the truth that soap kills the germs on their children’s hands. Doctors understand that cancer kills and any attempt of saving life depends on destroying the cancerous cells. Jesus said He was the truth. A Christian's job is to beckon the world to see this truth and govern their lives accordingly.

[1] G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, Kindle Edition, 135.

[2] Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 24.

CHRISTIANS SHOULD REJECT THE PRIVATIZATION OF FAITH
The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote entitled "The Pastor in the Public Square: Transformed or Conformed"

Secularists demand a privatization of faith when it comes to issues in the public square, unless of course, one’s religious ideology is congruent with the current ethical milieu. If people are willing to get with the times, as the secularists posit, or be conformed to this age (Rom 12:2), as Paul would describe it, then their faith is welcomed by the tolerance brigade with open arms. Not only this, but as Jerry Falwell once commented, “The structure of American society makes political issues out of moral and ethical issues.”[1] Who is allowed to determine what issues belong in the public sphere and when religious convictions are permitted to inform political stances? The answer is whoever argues the loudest, with the most force, reason, and clout. Christians are not commanded to wait for the return of their King in hiding. Instead they are called to shine in the darkness as the light of the world (Mt 5:11).

The President of the United States unashamedly disclosed that it was his faith, more specifically his reflection on the golden rule (Mt 7:12), which led him to affirm same-sex marriage. Here the President, the colloquial leader of the free world, makes clear that it was his religious convictions that single-handedly informed his political position on this issue. Not surprisingly, the secularist does not protest, “Leave your religion at the door!” It appears that, if the conclusion reached is agreeable to the secular agenda, only then is one’s religious rationale permissible. If not, they are urged to restrain their faith convictions exercising them only in private.

Undoubtedly, Christians should do a better job contextualizing their “religiously motivated” beliefs into universal values. On the other hand, they also ought to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom 13:1) by giving heed to President Obama’s prophetic instruction, “If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God's edicts, regardless of the consequences.”[2] Metaxas describes Bonhoeffer’s conscience as experiencing this kind of clarity about joining the conspiracy to murder Adolf Hitler. He wrote, “Bonhoeffer himself knew that in all of it, he was being utterly obedient to God.”[3] Bonhoeffer’s predicament is proof that sometimes the sacred does not, will not, and cannot be ‘translated’ into the secular. Additionally, in those moments, a tolerant secular society must let religion take its place among other opinions and lifestyles and should be given as much credence as the rest.

Separation of church and state simply means that there is no state sanctioned church. But surely the remnants of a civic religion, which are still woven throughout the tapestry of this nation, are still evident (e.g. references to a Creator in the Declaration of Independence, “In God we trust” on money, “one nation under God” in the pledge of allegiance, Scripture readings and prayer at the Presidential inauguration, etc.). As Stephen Carter, an American law professor, rightly commented about the social hegemony of secularization, this modern notion of separation of church and state treats religion as merely a hobby with no social relevance.[4] The blaring reality is that it is impossible to suspend one’s religious (or non-religious) beliefs when entering into discussion that concerns the public square. Convictions of conscience are not a coat that needs to be checked in on the way into a restaurant. Beliefs are ingrained in people, and should not and cannot be separated from the lenses by which they process all reality. While the efficacy of an argument from faith would be bolstered if people were able to translate their beliefs into universal principles, in a democratic republic, they should not have to.

Below are some examples of ways pastors can address social and moral issues with a prophetic voice in a manner that appeals to the reason of secular nations.

Oftentimes, secularists will make a case for same-sex marriage by saying that a child raised by two parents, no matter the gender, is better than a child being raised in a single parent home. What might a translation or contextualization of the pastor’s argument look like in regards to same-sex marriage and, subsequently, parenting? He might first note that the comparison here is not between apples and oranges but apples and car batteries. What’s not being debated is whether it is better to be raised by a single parent or two dads. What is being discussed is the blurring of gender distinctions. It is choosing ignorance for ostensible equality. It is neglecting to recognize the function and beauty of gender in the parental schema, and the different perspectives offered a child by parents of opposite gender. Additionally, it is failing to acknowledge the challenges and disadvantages of being raised by same-sex parents, such as two dads attempting to explain menstruation to their prepubescent daughter, and then instructing her on how to use a tampon. By making an argument in such a way, first the pastor teaches his church the functional lesson that God’s way is best. Second, he shows them how to maintain biblical fidelity while contextualizing their argument in order to make it amenable to reason.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, the aim of the pastor in the public square ought to be showing people that everyone has a line, the difference is that the Christian has the distinct benefit of having their line objectively and infallibly drawn for them by God Himself in His Word. From there, he can probe what determining factors, if any, influenced the drawing of the other party’s line. He ought to be firm in the fact that anyone who labels his line as hateful or bigoted, simply because it does not traverse theirs, is a polemical ad hominem and is by definition intolerant. The question, "what do you care what others do with their bodies?" is short sighted, to say the least. Such an argument suggests that humanity lives in a vacuum, where one's decisions have no adverse societal effects. This is most certainly untrue and can be readily observed in any person who showcases signs of alcoholism, gambling addiction, or pornographic addiction.

By boldly operating in this world with the standard of another, the pastor demonstrates that God’s law and true virtue, something every society realizes they need in order to promote human flourishing, are inseparable. By rejecting the relegation of faith into the private sphere of influence, the pastor can prophetically call all of God’s image bearers to recognize His rule and honor Him as King. In so doing, the pastor’s family, church, and neighbors will see that his public responsibility is inseparable from his gospel responsibilities.[5]

 

[1] Mac Brunson and James W. Bryant, The New Guidebook for Pastors (Nashville, Tenn: B&H Academic, 2007), 188.

[2] Quote from a transcript of President Obama's keynote address at the Sojourners/Call to Renewal "Building a Covenant for a New America" conference in Washington, D.C delivered on June 26, 2006: “Transcript: Obama’s 2006 Sojourners/Call to Renewal Address on Faith and Politics,” accessed May 9, 2014, http://sojo.net/blogs/2012/02/21/transcript-obamas-2006-sojournerscall-renewal-address-faith-and-politics.

[3] Metaxas, Bonhoeffer, 370.

[4] Dennis P. Hollinger, Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World, Kindle Edition (Baker Academic, 2002), 253.

[5] Albert Mohler, “‘A Theology of the Pastor in the Public Square’” (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, April 7, 2014).

What Has Been Is What Will Be...

Spurgeon640.960This selection is from an article written by Charles Spurgeon speaking out against "modern thought" in the life of British Nonconformist churches of the 19th century. Today, just like in Spurgeon's day, many denominations that seek to embrace "modern thought" or adapt to the current cultural ethic at the expense of biblical orthodoxy find themselves shrinking in size, even though the message they preach is a popular one. Why is this? Spurgeon's last line is hauntingly telling:

A new religion has been initiated which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion. being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as tho old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for Gospel preaching. 'l'he Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them!... The fact is, that many would like to unite church and stage, cards and prayer, dancing and sacraments. If we are powerless to stem this torrent, we can at least warn men of its existence, and entreat them to keep out of it. When the old faith is gone, and enthusiasm for the gospel is extinct, it is no wonder that people seek something else in the way of delight. Lacking bread, they feed on ashes; rejecting the way of the Lord, they run greedily in the path of folly.

C.H. Spurgeon, “Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade”, The Sword and the Trowel (August, 1887), 397-8, emphasis mine.

There is nothing novel about a denial of the Gospel, no matter how inclusive it becomes.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

- Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV

Are You A Thief?
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Calvin on stealing:

“[S]tealing is not simply committed with our hands, when [for example] someone is able to steal another person’s money or coins. But stealing occurs when a man possesses what isn’t his, and when we don’t attempt to protect what God has put in a person’s hands, for he wills everyone to retain what he has...Whenever we do not render to every man what rightfully belongs to him, God will always regard that iniquity a stealing.”

Calvin paints with a broad stroke to show how everyone is guilty of theft.

“Whatever the case, God will not neglect to judge as a thief anyone who has taken advantage of a simple man, or has sold him goods in an underhanded way, seeing that he has outwitted him through a fault of judgement. Anyone who also overcharges an illiterate person is equally a thief. Moreover, if an artisan makes a faulty good and the buyer cannot perceive the flaw, or especially if someone takes whatever he can and sells what unquestionably doesn’t belong to him, [justifying it on the basis] that he is dealing with a rich man who has a full purse, it’s all the same.”

Ultimately, we steal because we are discontent in our allotment from God. What is the cure for our dissatisfaction?

“The only medicine we need for healing these vices, is for us to be able to lift our eyes to heaven and say, “God is our Father, he will provide all that we need; it is he in whom we must hope for all that sustains us in this present life; in sum it is his benediction that constitutes the fountain of all wealth.”

To break God’s law is to invite His wrath on us. That is why Calvin asks,

“Is it of small consequence when he says that thieves and robbers will not enter the kingdom of God? Is this present life so dear to us that in order to get by in this world and gain a few goods we are willingly ready to provoke the wrath of God?”

He concludes with,

“Therefore, let none of us think that it is only lawful for us to guard what we have, rather, as the principle of charity exhorts us, let us see that we preserve and procure our neighbor’s property as much as our own. That is why we should not be thieves in God’s eye, nor man’s, and why the possessions that he has put in our hands are blessed by him, and why he makes us prosper, and why we should experience such a contentment that we should always aspire toward that celestial heritage, knowing that therein we shall possess the fullness of all goods in perfection.”

- Calvin, John. John Calvin’s Sermons on the Ten Commandments. Translated and edited by Benjamin W. Farley. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980. Sermons 10, 185-202.

Think About It

Here are some interesting facts on three perspectives of the pro-choice position: The Racist is Pro-Choice

The beloved feminist pioneer, Margaret Sanger, is oft quoted, "No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body." A less famous quote by the founder of Planned Parenthood is, "Eugenics is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."

To ensure we are all on the same page, eugenics is the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. If you’re wondering why this philosophy of controlled breeding sounds familiar, see Hitler in Nazi Germany. Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics: which aims to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing reproduction by those considered unfit. Sanger's eugenic policies included compulsory segregation or sterilization for the profoundly retarded.[1]

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that Blacks and Latinos represent 25% of our population, but account for 59% of all abortions. Referring to this statistic, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend.”  If you disagree, I would encourage you to try to find an abortion clinic in an affluent part of town.

The Misogynist is Pro-Choice:

Since 1971, China has aborted 336 million children, many of them forcibly.[2] Being that many Chinese families would prefer a son, China’s One Child Policy-a policy that Joe Biden applauded this past year on his trip to China- has increased the rate of abortion of females, thereby accelerating a demographic decline.

This misogynistic mindset is not simply a *them* mindset, but happens frequently here in the U.S. In May of 2012, a pro-life group called Live Action sent actors posing as pregnant women into Planned Parenthood clinics, asking a series of questions to elicit information on sex-selective abortions. If you’d like to see what they found, click here. On multiple occasions, the United States Congress has debated legislation that would outlaw the practice of sex-selective abortions. But the legislation ultimately failed to pass in the House of Representatives.

The Capitalist is Pro-Choice

This point it quite simple: Abortions cost money; spent money necessitates money gained. One might retort, most abortion clinics are non-profits. True, but government grants and funding to Planned Parenthood in the last reported year 2009-2010 was $487.4 million. Ironically, this not-for-profit organization gave $12 million to the campaign of their largest proponent, President Obama.[3] Never mind the fact that their CEO receives a salary of more than $400k a year.

It’s important to understand that while P.P. is granted non-profit status, abortions account for a majority of their profits. They parade the fact that abortions represent only 3% of services rendered. But they forget to mention that abortions generate 33% of their clinic's profits. If you would like to refute that the abortion industry is a Big Business, please see Kermit Gosnell: Philadelphia physician who made close to $1.8 million per year doing legal and late term abortions.

Don't even get me started on the political utilitarian ethic that deems it cheaper to kill a child than pay for its healthcare, food, childcare, education, etc.

While the media would like you to believe that the pro-choice position is the more sensible, progressive and tolerant one, I hope to have shown that there is a much darker side to this debate that is not likely to surface.

[1]. Porter, Nicole S.; Bothne Nancy; Leonard, Jason. Public Policy Issues Research Trends. Nova Science. 126. [2] http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=39913, Accessed June 27, 2013. [3] http://www.lifenews.com/2012/10/25/planned-parenthood-has-spent-12-million-to-re-elect-obama/. Accessed June 27, 2013.

Jesus the Divider
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An excerpt from my sermon on Mark 3:22-30: Jesus the Divider Jesus’s teachings are meant to divide and separate for the purpose of eliciting a response; and there are only two responses to the Gospel call: repent or reject. That is it

Jesus's teachings were meant to divide. But not just His teachings, He has been dividing and separating things into order since Genesis 1:

He divides/separates:

  • Heaven from Earth
  • Light from Darkness
  • Day from Night
  • Water from Dry Land
  • Creatures, according to their own kind
  • EVERY plant and tree from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Man from Woman

Our God, creator of the cosmos (Greek word for order, not the opposite which is chaos) has willfully and thoughtfully separated and divided everything to function according to its own kind, but we refuse to accept His terms! We compromise and flock to the middle.

Maybe those obscure OT laws that people are so fond of bringing up–about not planting two seeds in the same field or how it is unlawful for a man to wear a woman’s clothes– aren't as arbitrary as some would suggest, but are, instead, a testimony to the fact that since the beginning, God has separated and divided and we continually flock to the middle. 

If you don't believe me, see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-harold-koplewicz/genderless-baby_b_868056.html