Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism & the Christian Faith

The United States once again finds herself at a crossroads.   The lines have been drawn.  The shots have been fired.  The culture war seems to rage on endlessly.  Left vs. right.  Liberal vs. Conservative.  Secular vs. Christian.  These are some of the most difficult and muddy issues to delve into.  But an answer must be found.  A solution must be possible, right?  

What's really happening here in our country?  What's the reason?  Is there any way out of this predicament?  

I find myself on the conservative Christian side of this present culture war.  Yet only ten years ago I was very much a dedicated liberal non-religious individual.  I've seen the battle from both sides.  

The culture war is very troubling to me.  It keeps me up at night.  I read about it on social media, and get aggravated.  I feel the weight of it.  The burden of it is heavy. And I fear for the future of the great nation I call home.

The United States has always been a diverse bunch of misfits and heroes.  Many of the founders were Christians with seminary degrees.  Still others were agnostic or atheist, deeply interested in philosophy, science, and invention.  The diversity has grown as millions have migrated to the USA.  The United States has prospered a great deal from diversity.  

In the history of the United States there have been philosophical enlightenments as well as great awakenings and temperance movements.  It seems to me that the current liberal side of the culture war is a development from the American enlightenment and scientific breakthroughs of the United States.  And it seems to me that the current conservative side of the culture war is a product of the great awakenings and temperance movements within the United States.  The interesting thing is that from a perspective of being on both sides of the culture war, one notices that each side tends to function in keeping the other side honest.   

Women were oppressed in the United States in the past.  Slavery and prejudice were tolerated by the public for many years throughout the history of the USA.  The family has at times been oppressive to children.  And yes, those holding to LGBT sexual preferences were treated shamefully by many who held to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Yet those same teachings said "Love thy neighbor, and pray for those who persecute you" (Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:44).  Even more shamefully still, Priests were found to have sexually abused children.  Yet Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them" (Luke 18:16).  Thank God that liberals, progressives, and some conservatives have had the courage to decry loudly these tragic injustices.  

Yet in the past 10 years in this country we've seen the coin flipped the other way.  Christianity is openly mocked in the academic institutions of the United States.  Religion is considered to be, well, always bad and always oppressive.  Those holding to conservative Christian views are often decried as bigots, homophobes, and racists in the public square.  Opposition is silenced.  Secular humanism is the new ethic.  LGBT is pure and good, traditional views are considered corrupt and always suspect.  Those supporting traditional marriage are bullied and forced to resign from their jobs, or forced to close their businesses.  Sex is fine before, during, and after marriage, because well, we say so.  Modernity has replaced all the backwards views of religious fanatics, and we have converted many of the Christians to our sexual views, and the hold outs won't last much longer under the onslaught of science, modernity, and sanity!  Many such statements were made in a recent New York Times article.

The latest manifestation of the culture war is the Indiana controversy over a religious liberty bill passed by the state legislature.  The LGBT community lead by George Takei assaulted the state of Indiana over the religious liberties bill which they said could be used to turn away homosexuals from local businesses.  George Takei called for a boycott of no less than the entire state of Indiana over the religious liberty bill.  Later Charles Barkley chimed in calling for the NCAA to move out of Indiana permanently.  Arkansas passed a bill shortly after, and once again the call went out to boycott another state.  Yet 20 other states have bills passed quite similar to the bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  No cries have gone out to boycott businesses in those states though.  

Conservative newspapers, online and otherwise came out explaining how other states have similar laws on the books.  Then liberal newspapers came out and explained why Indiana's bill is different.  Still other conservative newspapers explained why those liberal newspapers are wrong, and that the difference is marginal.  

I read an article written by Hans Fiene a Lutheran minister explaining that the current mass support for gay marriage is the millennial generation embracing a revolutionary cause that requires no effort or sacrifice to embrace.  He called it Selma envy.   Click here to read that article.  

The situation developed further when a small family owned pizzeria was forced to close it's doors.  The owners went into hiding, all from the onslaught of LGBT activists threatening them and blasting them for a rather mild interview with a local media outlet in which they said they would probably not cater for a gay wedding.  Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, a supporter of gay marriage wrote an article titled "Should Mom-and-Pops that forgo Gay weddings be Destroyed?" in which he indicated that LGBT activists shutting down business owners is not an ethical approach to achieve their ends. 

The liberal solution to these issues, like gay marriage, women's rights, racism, and so on is for the bullied to become the bully.  But that cannot be the solution.  It only leads to culture war.  Both sides of this debate don't seem to understand that we need each other.  We check and balance one another.  We keep each other honest.  

Yet I'm a conservative Christian.  I won't stand by and allow the United States to crumble under the weight of a new bullying majority.  But let's table that for a minute.  The real question is very basic: Is homosexuality wrong?  Or is it dangerous and/or harmful to society?

The Bible says homosexuality is wrong (Romans 1:24-27).  But let's table that too for the moment.  What does the science say?  What do the studies say?  According to Mayo clinic, those engaging in homosexuality activity are at greater risk for diseases like AIDS.  Sexual intercourse through the rectum can be damaging over time, because simply, it wasn't designed for sexual use.  Long term irritation of the bowels can lead to cancer and chronic irritation.  (further statistics on medical concerns regarding homosexuality).

Of course people are outraged when you bring up those facts.  Then come the ad hominem attacks.  They call you a bigot, homophobe, racist, sexist, and so on.  People will attack personally when they don't have a counter argument for your arguments.  Don't insult me, give me a good counter argument.  

Is homosexuality socially destructive?  The raw facts say that it is.  But once again, the gay activists will raise the noise, and try to bully people into silence.  Why don't they deal with the arguments?  Why does the US government need to endorse an activity that is medically dangerous and socially destructive?  I just don't understand it.  Yet the current Supreme Court seems to ignore the Constitution time and again, and rubber stamp such destructive behavior as legal and acceptable.  Should the government encourage destructive behavior?  Of course not.  Yet that's what is happening.  Click here to watch a video where author Frank Turek breaks down the issue of gay marriage and it's ramifications for society.  

Religious liberty is an extremely important issue.  Christians and non-Christians a like need to stand up for freedom of religion.  Freedom of religion is inexorably linked to personal liberty, and Libertarians ought to remember that as well.  

Those in the LGBT community should be treated with dignity and respect.  All people should be treated with dignity, love, and respect.  The Bible commands all Christians to love their neighbors.  Love and respect is vital.  But we as Christians have the freedom to disagree with gay marriage, while still loving and respecting those on the other side.  Love does not mean "I agree with your views on everything."  Love means we can disagree respectfully, and still love and tolerate one another.  But don't let anyone sell you on the idea that you must hate or fear them if you don't agree with their views on sexuality.  Yet that is the lie being perpetrated.  That somehow my support for traditional marriage makes me a bigot or a monster.  Most certainly, that is a total fabrication.  People are very afraid to stand up on this issue of marriage, because the LGBT community has gotten very hostile.  As much as they call for tolerance, they seem to be a very intolerant bunch.  This group seems to try to claim the moral high ground, yet their actions make it clear that they do not have the moral high ground.  Yet many Christians seem to concede to that, because the call of being a "bigot" is such a severe claim.  Of course it's total nonsense.  Ad hominem once again, the science and psychology indicates that homosexuality is detrimental to society and the individual.  Yet I'm the bigot.  If a bigot is someone intolerant of another's beliefs, then many in the LGBT community are guilty of being bigoted toward religious faith and traditional marriage views.  

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” -Rick Warren

Why should Christians care?  This is an issue by which all people of faith are being attacked.  Religious liberty is under attack.  It's a divisive issue by which all Christianity is dismissed as backwards and false.  And some Christians are caving to pressure, and endorsing gay marriage.  Recently a liberal branch of the Presbyterian church embraced gay marriage.  That makes it a very important issue for the people of the United States.  

Yet I would say that the gay marriage issue is a symptom of a greater problem.  The problem is that we have religion being taught in our public schools today.  What you say?  How can that be you say?  Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  Unproven beliefs are taught in all public schools.  A total worldview based on presuppositions and unproven beliefs is being taught in public schools, a religion: the religion of naturalism.  

The underpinning is simple: Everything in reality must be described within the natural world, natural terms.  If something doesn't fit that construct, it's disregarded.  

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." -Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist) 

No spiritual views may be taught, no possibility of intelligent design may be mentioned.  Creationist scientific interpretations are rejected in favor of naturalistic interpretations of the data.  

The underlying philosophy in the United States seems to be that religious views must be excluded from all areas of society.  That is insanity, given a historical perspective of the United States.  The nation was founded for the governance of a religious society.  The religion was not forced, yet the hints were placed everywhere.  The society was considered functioning "under God."  The ten commandments were placed on buildings.  And there was nothing wrong with that.  No one was being forced.  Maybe a few were "offended" but then fine, let them be offended!  The government may make reference to those ideas because they are universal.  The government of the USA was designed for the governance of a religious people, and the Constitution was considered useless to govern anyone but a religious people.  By making reference to biblical beliefs the government was not endorsing those beliefs, but they were vital to the framework of the nation.  It showed that religious views were universal, reasonable, and logical.  In fact many of our laws are based on those moral beliefs, the belief that the universe is a moral place.  When a homosexual decries religious people for their "bigoted" attitude, that individual is assuming that he or she lives in a universe governed by objective morality.  Where did that belief come from?  The Judeo-Christian worldview.  There will never be a theocracy in the United States.  We don't want or need one.  But detaching all society from any mention of the Bible or the Christian worldview will lead to the destruction of society itself.  By forcing naturalism on the US population through the public school system, well, we have seen the results.  Each generation of young people becomes progressively more and more depraved.  As a result less and less people are willing to be a law unto themselves, so more and more laws must be put on the books to protect people from each other.  Or as the philosopher G.K. Chesterton put it,“If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.”  So more and more, the United States becomes a police state governed by innumerable laws.  There are so many vague and oddly stated laws on the books in the United States that it's estimated that the average American commits three felonies a day without even realizing it.  Click here to learn more about the problem of authoritarian governance.  

Is it any wonder that Congress, the presidency, and the Supreme Court have become so corrupt?  When the Judeo-Christian ethic is jettisoned, where does the ethic come from?  Personal opinion?  The corruption in business and banking is destroying the United States.  Those same businesses and banks then get their hands into the political process, and we have our present state: a Congress with billions of dollars flowing into it from special interest groups.  There are 11,500 lobbyists at work in Washington D.C.  Very simply, the mass bribery is destroying the economy, and eroding trust in the government process.  Much of the corruption being seen can be attributed to the secularization of American society.  

The logical outworking of naturalism, or darwinism, is a society of dog eat dog.  There is no reason for moral behavior, one must find a way to scam or conquer the others and spread their DNA as far and wide as possible, correct?  Most certainly that is the case.  Secular humanism really has no reason behind it, it is simply borrowing the Christian ethic and redressing it with secular language.  (Michael Ramsden's a noted apologist expounds on the grounding of naturalism in an excellent presentation on living the faith.  Click here to view/read that.)

It's best stated by atheist Professor John Gray in his book Straw Dogs: "Modern humanism is the faith that through science humankind can know the truth — and so be set free. But if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true this is impossible. The human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth. To think otherwise is to resurrect the pre-Darwinian error that humans are different from all other animals.  The idea of humanity taking charge of its destiny makes sense only if we ascribe consciousness and purpose to the species; but Darwin’s discovery was that species are only currents in the drift of genes. The idea that humanity can shape its future assumes that it is exempt from this truth." (Ibid., 4)

I've often said, and not exclusively in jest: If one studies religion at a major university (Harvard, Princeton, Yale) aren't they in fact studying pre-suppositional secular humanism?  The arrogance and presumption of these religion departments is astounding in their approach to the scriptures of the Bible.  They approach it with intense skepticism, ruling out any possibility of the supernatural, approaching scriptures with the eyes of naturalism, excluding any possibility that the scriptures might mean what they say, and instead declare their own superiority over the scriptures, altering them to be interpreted through the lense of ascribing all meaning and worldview within those scriptures to local culture and mythos.  Their approach is such an absurd act of unmitigated gall the casual observer might as well call it egotistical blasphemy.  Oh the irony, that schools like Harvard now turn out "Secular Humanist Chaplains."  What, I wonder, are they standing on?  According to the atheist Prof. John Gray, they stand on nothing less than the Judeo-Christian ethic, stripped of Christian terms and redressed with humanist philosophy.  

When the public schools indoctrinate children into naturalism, is it any wonder that the United States is becoming a post-Christian culture?  All the power of the Christian churches across the USA cannot fight that kind of indoctrination.  Is it any wonder then, given the public schools, that universities (many started by Christians) now unquestioningly adhere to the Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian view of reality?  The final piece of this worst case scenario is the mainstream media, radically secular, dedicated to mocking the church and the Christian faith: the television, internet, and print news media.  Included is Hollywood, and day time television, filled to the brim with every manner of depravity, temptation, violence, and sexual sin.  These three keys: public schools, universities, and the media, matched with the corrupt US Congress and Supreme Court leave the Christian majority disarmed and facing a radically shifting paradigm.

These three strongholds must, must, must be retaken by US Christians: the public school, the university system, and the mainstream media.  Otherwise in 100 years Christianity will be a myth in the United States.  Why?  Because all of those institutions manufacture the minds of young people.  And young people are the key to the future.  Hitler himself said give me their minds before their 7, and they'll be Nazi's until they die. Well the naturalists have claimed the minds of young people.  The result has been horrendous.  There are many statistics.  One telling statistic is that since Bible's were banned from public schools the suicide rate among teenagers has tripled.  Let that sink in for a few minutes.   

When you think about it.. everything in our society is false. People stare at screens in their living rooms, screens at work, screens in their pockets. Society exterminates unwanted children by the millions in clinics. Child sacrifice is legal, sacrificed to selfishness and "sexual freedom." Banks and corporations run Congress. Bombs drop in the middle east. Minimum wage keeps the poor getting poorer and corporate subsidies keep the rich always getting richer. Christianity is mocked, self worshiping "spirituality" is encouraged. Lies are everywhere. Temptation for food, alcohol, prestige, and sex are constantly blasted from the media outlets. Children are trained in naturalism indoctrination centers they call "public schools." No Bibles, and no praying allowed in public schools (though they were allowed there for hundreds of years prior.) The Supreme court says gay marriage is fine, despite the clear science indicating that the practice is medically dangerous and socially harmful. Hospitals (originally started by Christians) have become secular money making machines for the medical industrial complex. Universities (originally started by Christians) are now largely training grounds for Darwinist, Marxist, Freudian ideologies that mock and denigrate people of faith and appose liberty, democracy, and free thought. Hollywood, Disney, and the mainstream media feed the population depravity, and make sin seem cool while good is portrayed as boring. The number one cause of death in the USA is heart disease, and obesity, cancer, and diabetes are skyrocketing due to the processed, genetically modified, chemical filled food that Americans eat. Yet liberal sociologists, philosophers, and critics indicate that everything is fine, and anyone who follows Jesus Christ is a fool for believing in all that nonsense about love, hope, truth, forgiveness, grace, and God-forbid, hope after the grave.

“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.” - Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society

Yet the way back is simple.  If Jesus Christ is real, then we must follow him out loud in truth and we will prevail against the greatest enemy.  If Jesus Christ is not real, then we will fail.  Since Jesus Christ is in fact really God, and alive today, the only way we can fail is if we fail to stand for what we believe in at this critical time in history.  So what can you do?  Speak up to your friends. Speak up on social media.  Get educated on the issues.  Join a political action group.  Support groups like Liberty Institute, Campaign for Liberty, and Alliance defending Freedom.  Write your local newspapers.  Spread the word.  Get active on these issues.  And we can save the United States.  Not by destroying those of naturalist conclusions, but by living love and standing by our convictions.   

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