Controversy: It’s not just about chicken

Over the last couple years, there has arguably been no more contentious topic than that of homosexuals and marriage. There were propositions, proposed amendments to the constitutions, protests, boycotts, and much shouting from rooftops from both perceived “sides” of the situation.

Many of the people leaning a little more to the left side of things decry the views of those with a more conservative view of things as archaic and hopelessly out of date. A First century viewpoint on a 21st century issue.

What is typically thought of as the “Christian Right” has been particularly vilified in this regard by the mainstream media as being intolerant to a lifestyle that is now universally accepted by most people.

I wondered how true that was? What about other religions? If Christianity is the chief assailant on homosexual rights then other major religions probably support them, don’t they?

What does Islam say about homosexuality, and by extension gay marriage?

Do they support it?

Not so much. I wonder what would happen if an imam commented against gay marriage? Actually, Louis Farrakhan referred to President Obama’s public approval of gay marriage as “sanctioning what the scriptures forbid.”

Ok…what about Judaism? What does Jewish scripture have to say?

Obviously, the same thing the Christian bible does.

Where does that leave us? With the knowledge that many people of different faiths neither approve of homosexuality and hold it sinless, nor recognize homosexual “marriages” as legitimate unions.

Having said that, I know that at least most Christians that I know who do not recognize gay marriage also do not deny homosexuals in domestic partnerships should be granted the same legal rights as hetero couples who marry.

My point in all of this is not to condemn homosexuals or deny them any basic human rights. I am just pointing out that many people from many walks of life and religions share the beliefs of Christians regarding this extremely volatile issue.

No one is commenting on that. I haven’t seen anything in the clearly very biased media. What I have seen lately is an executive from a privately owned and privately governed, publicly and admittedly Christian principled company being asked a question and giving an answer that should have surprised no one.

Following that answer, this executive has been vilified to the nth degree. Boycotts have been threatened and licensing for new franchises has been threatened.

All by people screaming about tolerance at the top of their lungs, while at the same time practicing their own special brand of intolerance and prejudice.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking “come, Jesus, come” more than once.
A friend pointed out 2 Timothy 3 to me not long ago regarding the Aurora shootings, but I think it applies here, too. I’d list it below, but I’m writing this on my iPhone.

Go look it up.

Done? Ok. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me how people react to biblical values, when they’re expressed plainly.

The bible is nothing if not clear about what God calls sinful, or lawful, for that matter. Call me whatever you like.

No Easy Answers

I know this guy at work who says he always carries a gun when he’s out and about and isn’t at work (in case anyone who doesn’t know me reads this, I live in Arizona and you don’t need a permit to carry). I never really thought much about it prior to Friday morning, when I heard about what happened in Aurora. I was just a little surprised to hear carrying was legal here–I come from California.

I am fairly certain that in the days and weeks to come the media will feature passionate testimonies from proponents of the right to carry and those who hate firearms above nearly all other things. People will talk about how much our country has become the wild west, and in a sense, it has.

It’s different, though.

Many people now have so little regard for human life taking one probably seems almost mundane. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or something brought on by overexposure to and desensitization from violence through films, music, or video games.

I don’t why this person did what he did. We probably never will, at least not in a way that makes sense.

I do know that God didn’t pull the trigger. James Holmes did. He used legally obtained firearms that were clearly easy for him to get. No one knows what would have happened if he had not had such quick and easy access to guns. Perhaps he would have made a bomb of some sort (Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun, and ended up murdering over a hundred people in Oklahoma City a while back).

Inevitably, someone will recommend all guns be outlawed, or something to that effect. This will be countered by defenders of the second amendment.

And all I can think about is my friend who goes everywhere armed. Sure, not everyone is as responsible with their guns as my friend, but I can’t help but think if there’d been a couple people like him in theater 9 the outcome may have been different.

Yes, as a matter of fact I do own a couple of firearms. I have no plans to shoot anything but paper targets with them unless someone tries to harm me or my family.

Yet I wonder what I would do to protect them, and would it be the same if it were strangers in a movie theater?

Would I kill?

When I think about it like that, the answer is yes I would. If someone is willing to swap their lives for a killing, it’s probably the only way you’re going to stop them from doing it.

I think about all the dead and wounded in Aurora at the hands of this dark creature, and I think if I had the chance to do something and did not do it, I wouldn’t ever be able to forgive myself.

I think in that situation, I’d have to put the guy down as quickly as possible.

I don’t think extreme gun control is the answer.

One need only look at what’s been happening in Chicago with the ridiculous murder rate, where there are many hoops to jump through if a person desires to own a gun.

Then look at Arizona. The difference is easy to see. I am not trying to say that carrying a firearm is the answer to crime. I’m only saying that something that could potentially save a life is better than removing even that chance because of some misguided political agenda.

We are in for some tough discussions in the days ahead.

Images

I saw an image today that captivated me. Carlos Whittaker had a great post the other day referencing a picture from the People of the Second Chance website. Go read it.

Ok. If you haven’t looked at it or read the blog, it shows a kind of scruffy young man in his mid twenties looking into a mirror and carving “f—up” into his neck.

A shocking image without question. In his article, Whittaker talks a little bit about his past. He says he’s had moments where he looked in the mirror and saw that exact image.

I know what he means.

20120719-131818.jpg

That image is how I look right now, this very minute. Yet I am not defined by it. You might look at it and think it tells you something about who I am, and that is only partially true.

I look at that picture–or in a mirror for that matter–and I sometimes see the same thing the scruffy young man did. Like Whittaker, I have thought that word

F—up

and much worse about myself over the course of my life. It is only through the intercession of Christ that I know differently. His truth supersedes any lie I might believe about who I am based on how I perceive myself or how others perceive me.

I am not defined by the things I’ve done or that have been done to me.

I am defined by the life, death, and resurrection of a first century Nazarane carpenter.

So when I look in the mirror and see

F—up

Loser

Idiot

Douchebag

Or something worse, the truth is that over those images is the face of Jesus.

His image is greater than any mask we might wear for a time.

His truth is greater than any lie, greater than any label. So before I pass judgement on myself or anyone else, I need to consider the actions of Jesus, taken on my behalf.

And on the behalf of whomever I might consider passing judgement.

Sad and Confused

All I know about Syria right now is what I read in the papers and see on the news, but it seems clear there’s atrocity going on. I don’t know who’s to blame. The government says the rebels are, and the rebels say the same of the government.

Regardless, people are being slaughtered every day.

Now, I wonder what the world is going to do. I wonder what the US is going to do?

There’s been countless images of piles of bodies for months now, and at least from a layman’s point of view, it seems everyone including the US is just watching. Perhaps sending advisors.

I wonder how long it will take for the world to get tired of piles of bodies? It makes me think about wars, and rumors of wars.

Maybe the end is drawing near. I don’t know.

I do know that every time I see a dead child with a bullet hole in his/her face it makes me want to do something.

Right now all I can do is pray.

Pray for a resolution to the violence.

Pray for wisdom for my country’s leadership, and the leadership of other countries contemplating assistance to Syria in some capacity.

Pray for peace in a place that seldom sees it.

Pray for understanding on my own part. I just don’t understand this little regard for human life.

All I know is something has to happen, and quickly. This is not a war-this is wanton murder.

Aim at Heaven

You can do almost anything these days just by touching a button. We have machines that dispense coffee, and food, and DVDs. We have personal GPS devices that keep us from getting lost–no need to stop and ask for directions anymore. We talk to our mobile phones, and they talk back to us.

I could probably spend days giving a litany of technological advances over the past hundred years or so. For that matter, I’m writing this blog on my IPhone. In any case, so many of the advances we’ve made have one commonality that occurred to me last night as I was taking a shower (great place to think, by the way): they all either minimize or remove our need to interact with other human beings.

We weren’t made that way. I might joke about not liking people, but the truth is, I am a social creature. So are you.

Albert Einstein once said “It has become appallingly clear our technology has surpassed our humanity. I hope that someday, our humanity might yet surpass our technology.”

Me, too.

If you walk around any place people normally gather, you will inevitably see many of them with heads down, thumb-typing or finger flicking furiously at mobile phones, or iPads, or e-book readers.

And they aren’t talking to each other.

People will sit across a table from each other while they talk to online friends. They’ll post status updates when they get good news instead of calling someone and telling them.

We really don’t need to talk to each other anymore.

Because our technology has surpassed our humanity.

I’m not OK with that, and I’m as guilty of it as anyone.

If it were not for my astoundingly awesome and Godly wife, I would probably still be the giant a-hole I was in San Diego. She makes me a better person. She makes me want to be a better person, and fulfill God’s plan for my life.

So last night I asked myself if all the wonderful things in my life had actually made my life better. Easier? Certainly. Better? Not really…

What has made my life better?

God has, along with the helper he sent me.

Technology, wonderful as it is, is ephemeral. It’s a vapor.

If we let it sap our humanity and need for interaction with others then we are denying God, not ourselves.

We’re taking up our phones, not our crosses.

How many opportunities for ministry have we missed because we were preoccupied with something like phones, or tablet computers, or handheld games?

Let me be clear. I am no perfect Christian. I struggle with obedience, and I doubt. Sometimes I question sovereignty.

Sometimes I don’t want to interact with the people God puts in my life. I’d rather play Words, or shoot zombies.

Do those things make my life better?

No.

God does.

I need to spend more time with him and less on my phone.

I need to read less and seek out his people more.

CS Lewis said “aim at Heaven and you get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

I think as wonderful as technology is, it’s still earth. And we’re allowing it to surpass our humanity.

We need (and I include myself) to aim at Heaven. Maybe then our humanity will surpass our technology.

On Penn State, and Protecting Your Camp

I read an article on CNN this morning that was talking about the utter failure of Penn State to protect children from Jerry Sandusky when they were well aware of his fondness for raping young boys.

Apparently, the image of the school and its storied football program was much more important than the physical harm, sexual abuse, and irreversible psychological damage done to a series of boys over something like a decade.

This is so hard to get my mind around. These men knew what Sandusky had done and could potentially still do. And they did nothing. Marine and blogger “America’s Sgt Major” wrote a great piece back in 2011 just as the story was becoming nationally prominent.

Let me be as clear as I am able. As a believer, I am well aware of the measure of forgiveness dealt to me, and I am grateful for it. As a man who is a father, and is not a pedophile, I think of it like this:

If I was camping with my family and a bear was threatening the camp, I would take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of my family. If a member of my family was somehow hurt, then typically the bear would be captured and possibly destroyed.

Or you could consider what would happen to a dog that bit ten people.

Either way, the animal would no longer be a threat. The men at Penn State had a chance to prevent a lot of pain and they pissed it away out of self-preservation.

I know that as a follower of Christ I should forgive Sandusky and pray for him, that he might repent of his many sins.

I struggle with that. Some things–as a man and father–are difficult if not impossible to forgive.

Now, thankfully, Jerry Sandusky is reaping what he has sown. He is no longer a threat. And he will likely be a marked man wherever he is incarcerated.

Now I find myself thinking not that I hope he turns to Christ, but that he meets a very special friend in prison that will show him what it feels like to be a victim.

I know it’s wrong to feel that way, but I am a human being. I think of the DC Talk song “In The Light.”

This only serves to confirm my suspicion
That I’m still a man in need of a savior