Category Archives: Morals

The Climate Change Pope, Part 3

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I’ve spent a couple blog posts giving the background on why I believe the Pope is wrong about climate change.   Let me start this post by stating my areas of agreement with the Pope.

  1. I am not deligitimizing the overall, general issue of stewardship of God’s creation.     I am not suggesting the Pope has no authority in this area, nor that he should be silent about these concerns.   I am not even saying that the Pope has no right to an opinion on whether or not human-caused global warming (or climate change) is real.    He, as does every person, has a right to an opinion.    As Pope, he has the obligation to instruct the faithful.   More generally speaking, it is proper and correct to challenge all of us as to whether or not we are striking the proper balance between respect for human rights and progress and respect for God’s creation.
  2. There should be many things that we see that should not be particularly debatable as either a good thing or a bad thing in the realm of stewardship of the earth.   Dumping of toxins, breaking the law, leaving a plastic bottle in the woods – some are clearly more serious than others, but all are wrong.   The Pope is correct to suggest that knowingly doing something that is harmful to the planet is sinful.    This statement is not Gaia-worship, it is a simple acknowledgment that we have a responsibility we need to take seriously to keep this planet as healthy as possible, because God made it good, and also because it’s in our best interest to do so.    No matter how pro-capitalism one might be, this should not be debatable.
  3. Consumerism is a somewhat strange word, but we should all be able to agree that, while the economic system is not inherently problematic, the human conditions of jealousy and greed are.   You can point to any economic system ever put in place anywhere, and you will have one thing in common:   greedy people will find a way to take advantage of other people, and will exploit the system to their gain.    I personally believe that the Pope is often a bit too hard on capitalism, as if the system itself is flawed.    Compared to any other system devised, I actually thing it produces the most superior of moral outcomes – you earn what you deserve (generally speaking) and it forces allocation of resources in the most efficient way for a thriving economy, which benefits everybody.     Clearly, there are shortfalls, as will be the case with every system, and we continue to try to create the perfect variant of a social-capitalistic system, which will never happen.   But having said all that, it is certainly worth noting the personal pitfalls of this system.   Capitalism does offer the opportunity for great wealth.   That’s not bad, but is the question is why is that wealth being pursued?     It’s one thing if natural interests or a great idea that can add to the quality of life of others is the reason for the pursuit.    It’s also another thing if an opportunity exists to make your life better without sacrificing other good things (God, family, etc.).   It’s quite another if the drive is purely materialistic, and the time and effort is sacrificing time and energy on more idealistic pursuits.   This is where capitalism, while not bad in and of itself, can be a source of temptation for those who may have a personal weakness in the area of covetousness or greed.    This goes hand-n-hand, then, with the stewardship of creation.   Most Corporations are good, all of which are filled with working people – I hate the generalization of all Corporations as somehow innately evil. This doesn’t mean that greed cannot infect the principal owners/board members of an organization.    As Christians, we can both believe in the goodness of capitalism while speaking out against environmental injustices when they happen.
  4. There are grey areas in the area of stewardship that can be legitimately debated.    Is it immoral to build a factory that will employ people who will be able to provide for their families if it means the endangered snail darter will be at serious risk?    Is it immoral to shutter the entire project, causing community disruptions, lost jobs, and so forth because of an overscrupulous view of stewardship?    Good and honest people will disagree on the moral high ground here.   Perhaps there is a middle ground that makes sense.    One thing is almost certain – not everyone will agree, and it’s almost impossible to say that one side is sinning and the other is not.

So, I think the Pope makes many great points, and challenges us to make sure we are not letting politics steer our religious or moral obligations.    However, where I do take issue is moving from the moral directives to a much more specific proclamation of what our obligations are as a world community, as governments, and as individuals in response to the threat of human-caused climate change.

It is one thing to take a position that dumping a known toxin into a river is a sinful action, and it is quite another to suggest that driving a car is a sin if the option of a bus is available.   If the moral instruction is based on a belief that fossil fuel use is causing destructive warming, it is understandable why that instruction takes place.   But if that underlying premise is false, then the moral instruction is also false.    Put differently, if I do not accept the science-based premise that leads to a particular moral instruction on the basis of that scientific premise – not on simply obstinate grounds, but on grounds of experience and research and (to the extent possible) unbiased human reasoning – then am I obligated to accept the moral instruction that is a response to the flawed scientific premise?    This is different from just saying “I studied the Bible and I don’t believe in Purgatory.”    That is not a scientific question that leads to a religious doctrine.   So, I am not saying that whatever I don’t accept I don’t need to listen to.  In fact, I accept that the moral issue of stewardship is an obligation on my part.   It is the specific nature of this issue that I have a problem with.

One may simply ask, “What’s the big deal?”    Well, it is a big deal, actually.    If the Pope gives moral authority to governments, the UN, and other secular organizations on this issue, it sets the stage for a much more aggressive response with the justification that the Vatican is on board.   I think the Pope, in his own way, has this vision of the goodness of they types of choices that will be made – people just decide to buy fewer things, drive less, think about the environment more, and participate less in the types of things that will drive climate change.   Governments will do reasonable things that benefit everyone.

There is good there, and the good things are the things we should do anyway, irrespective of climate change.   But going beyond personal choices, everything else is problematic even if the theory is correct.   And if the theory is wrong, then everything else is horribly flawed. Governments will tax – inefficient, and a displacement of resources that can help people.   Governments will regulate and restrict production, will deviate resources to unnecessary and expensive areas, and will be an overall drag on growth and incomes.   But far worse will be the continuation and escalation of social engineering:   (a) abortion on demand will continue, be promoted as a good, and will escalate in the areas of the world where it has yet to gain a foothold; (b) people will be encouraged to outright “fear” having children, further encouraging use of contraception,  (c) personal property rights and use of property will continue to be diminished and attacked, and (d) marriage will continue to devolve into an institution of self-happiness rather than as an institution of rearing the next generation.

Now, the Pope doesn’t want fewer children via an increase in abortion and contraception.   And he would condemn that approach.   But the secular world doesn’t care what the Pope thinks, except when he thinks something they can use to advance their agenda.   While it should not be the case that the Pope should never speak pastorally or on social justice issues due to the risk of progressives selectively choosing the words of his they want to use for their purposes, neither should the Pope dismiss or ignore the fact that this reality exists.   He should understand the consequences of his instruction, and at the very least make it clear that when he speaks of these things, he condemns absolutely a number of the human “solutions” or agendas around this issue.

He should, in my opinion, also not speak so absolutely about the truth of climate change as a result of human activity, but instead focus more generally on environmental stewardship and our moral responsibility.

A Heartbeat Away

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In an interesting look at the up, downs, simplicities, and complexities in advancing a Pro-Life agenda, looking at what has recently happened in Ohio makes for interesting debate.

On the one hand, an “incrementalist” view is favored in some segments of the Pro-Life community.   Depending on the lens with which one looks, this is either a horrible compromise or a solid strategic way of making progress that has more of a permanent foothold.   It can be best viewed as trying to meet the public where they are willing to be on this issue in a way that changes opinions, hearts, and minds with far less risk of a sudden backlash.    The downside, of course, is that it is a compromise.   A strategic vision is in place that tries to assess the reality around us, work within that reality, accepting that abortion is still the law of the land, while continuing to poke and prod, slowly and incrementally changing where that acceptable line is.    One consideration is public backlash and the other is an assessment of court rulings.   The fear on the judicial side is that a negative ruling sets things back and erodes prospects for future progress.

There are other segments in the pro-life community that take a more simplistic and pure view – that we should push for everything we can whenever we can, and setbacks be damned.   This really is a play of principle in a lot of cases – it is known that certain laws that are passed will not only be challenged in court, but will also almost certainly be declared unconstitutional under the current make-up of the federal courts, particularly SCOTUS, and that precedents aren’t on the side of drastic changes.

Both sides have a solid argument.   From a purist perspective, one cannot accept something that is intrinsically evil.   There is nothing wrong with incremental changes when that is your only option, but to reject more dramatic action when made available is very problematic, regardless of the claims that this is in the long run a better strategic approach towards attaining more permanent and significant change.

The incrementalist view has good intentions, and perhaps has strategic merit.  I think it is wrong to consider these persons as “not really” pro-life.   I think it’s more that they are scared to death of losing whatever it is they have gained to date, and the fact that they fear negative court decisions and public backlash.

While I think we need to remain charitable with respect to what labels we assign to the different camps, and I think it’s worth understanding the perspectives, I think there is also a time where we need to look inward and ask the question about the fundamental message we are giving by the stance we are taking.

So, back to the Ohio example.   The Ohio state legislature passed a fetal heartbeat bill that disallowed abortions after a heartbeat is detected.   This effectively limits abortions to the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy.    At the same time there was a different bill that simply limited abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, with no considerations for technical viability, detected heartbeats, etc.   Governor Kasich signed the 20-week bill into law, and vetoed the fetal heartbeat bill.

The explanation given by Kasich, and it should be noted that this was supported by Ohio Right to Life, is that similar attempts to restrict abortion at this level invited defeat in the courts, so signing this would have set up lengthy and expensive court battles.   The President of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, went so far as to say “By endorsing the 20-week ban in lieu of the heartbeat approach, Gov. Kasich provided strong pro-life leadership to finally engage a winnable battle with the federal judiciary while saving countless babies.”

I think the heart is generally in the right place, but I also think this approach is flawed in a number of respects.    First of all, Ohio already had a viability law in place.   Every life counts, but the relative increase in babies saved with this restriction will not be countless.    This is a very incremental improvement.    Standing alone, it is welcomed, and is a good thing.    Considering this a huge step forward is really not factually correct.    This is still allowing abortions for nearly the first 5 months of pregnancy.   Five months is still a long time of risk for a baby in the womb.    Further, health exceptions are still firmly in place.

The other issue I have is that he didn’t have to choose one or the other.   He could have signed both.    So, making the argument that he signed one in lieu of the other is erroneous.   He signed one and vetoed the other, pure and simple.   Had both been signed, and the more restrictive law found to be unconstitutional, then the other would still be in place.   This was a punt.

I appreciate the incremental gains we’ve made.   But I think there is also such a thing as overanalyzing things in order to get to a certain end.    There are times where a strategic approach to achieve the best end is not problematic.   An example was the Presidential Election.   If one firmly believed that there were truly only two options, then voting for the least imperfect candidate is not an immoral thing to do, nor does it compromise your principles.    This is not an incremental decision.   It’s a binary one.   But this is not true of the pro-life issue.

We are obligated to communicate the entire reason we are pro-life.   It’s murder.   It’s immoral.   The baby is a human being.    The womb should be safe.    Like the election decision, if the choice is between a slight restriction and no restriction then you take the slight restriction.   You are not immoral because you sign a ban after 20 weeks that still allows abortion in the first 20 weeks if the only other choice is that the status quo is 24 weeks.    But rejecting a more restrictive law for strategic reasons goes beyond a binary decision.    Especially with the Supreme Court in flux, and the fact that nobody can predict the future, to somehow state with certainty that this is a loser is probably not the best position to take to begin with.   But even if it is, there is a very real moral question involved here.    Why in the world is it not in our DNA to fight as hard as we can for an injustice to be corrected?    Why aren’t we willing to die on that hill?    Even if the courts shoot us down, why do we care?    I do understand there is a resource issue – but millions of people will support these expenses.

I have had people who are not pro-life ask me in the past that if we think abortion is essentially the killing of an innocent human being, then why are there exceptions for rape and incest?    The question was not necessarily meant to support the idea that they want us to fight for a comprehensive abortion ban, but it is an honest confusion about the message we are sending as a pro-life community.    If it’s a person, then why are we agreeing to certain lines of differentiation in treatment?    If they are confused by that, then how much more confusing is the message (real or perceived) that we are OK with abortions up to a certain number of weeks, but not after?    And that we’re willing to draw one line, but not another?

The danger here is also something I’ve heard:  that pro-lifers don’t really want this issue to be ever completely won, because it takes away the life issue in the political conversation.    I don’t believe this to be true for most people, but I do think the incrementalist approach feeds into that perception.   It’s confusing and contradictory in many ways, and the only actual way to explain it is in terms of politics and strategy.    This is problematic as far as messaging goes, any way you slice it.

Sadly, there may also be some truth to that perception.    I think a lot of politicians are nominally pro-life, but it is not what they would consider to be a crtical issue.    They would never personally have an abortion, and being pro-life is a winning issue for their particular constituents.    Small progress is a win, and they can tout it as progress.   But they have no stomach for any political fallout on this issue at all, so they would never support harsh steps even if they could be had, because it makes it more of an issue and could be politically damaging.

I don’t know if Kasich is in the “nominal” category, or if he truly believes he just did the best thing to get where we need to do and would be willing to go further if he feels it would be upheld.   But his approach is most definitely incremental, and for the good it does for some babies, it pulls the plug on a potentially much greater opportunity.    But that would be bold.   And who needs that?

The Vaccination Question, finding the Trail to the Moral High Ground

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Part of being a Catholic is to weigh whether or not any action you take or don’t take in the course of life has not only an explicit moral element, but also an implicit one.    For example, if I work honestly and effectively at my job, the most direct measure of morality of that action is that I am doing what I am called to do at that moment, that I am not being lazy, and that I am using my God-given abilities.    The implicit moral element is that I am not harming my employer financially (at least not purposely, assuming I am doing my job correctly).   If my inaction at work costs the company an account, this is an ancillary result of my laziness.   Harm has been done.

The debate about vaccinations is an interesting one.  On the one hand, there are a lot of opinions that people have regarding vaccines and most people who arrive on one side or the other believe that people who arrive at different conclusions are wrong.    I am not writing this piece to debate whether or not vaccines are perfectly safe and effective.   Full disclosure – we do not vaccinate our children.    This decision was not taken lightly.    However, I am also not against others determining that they feel perfectly comfortable making the decision that vaccines are a safe and effective option for their own children.

My wife and I are quite informed on both sides of the issue.   We recognize there are certain risks in not vaccinating our kids.  We also recognize the risks in vaccinating our kids.   It also bothers me that there seems to be an almost overzealous view of the real risk of contracting many of the things we are vaccinated for.   To be sure, the descriptions are scary.    But the probabilities of contracting these things multiplied by the probabilities that the worst of the consequences, to be perfectly frank, are not.   So it seems to be a reasonable question as to whether or not the certain action of jamming a needle into my kid’s arm and injecting a foreign substance has ramifications that outweigh the probability of harm done from what I am protecting them against.   At least I find this a reasonable question.   But to my chagrin, many do not find it reasonable at all.    According to more and more voices in government and otherwise, not vaccinating is akin to child abuse.   It’s a bizarre idea in my mind to take this leap in logic, but it’s definitely the vibe one gets in not-so-subtle ways when simply trying to do what’s best for your family.

I get it.   I have not immunized my kid against, say, measles.    It is a somewhat uncomfortable choice, but it is an informed one.   But yes, the day could come where my kid contracts measles, and all the world will glare at me and shake a finger as if to say “I told you so.”   Now, as is more likely the case, none of my kids ever contract measles, all will be ignored, or at most I’ll be considered “lucky.”    And in the small chance my kid gets measles, the very highly probably scenario is that it will really suck for a while, and then the kid will recover, and then he or she will have the full immunity that comes with contracting the illness.

I’m not glib about it, and I am not going to spend pages explaining why we made this decision.   But I will address the “community” aspect of this.   It’s a legitimate concern, and one worthy of consideration from a moral point of view.    The argument is this:   because I did not vaccinate my kids, I put other people at risk.   The people at risk, in particular, are those who have weakened immune systems who cannot get vaccinations and others who received vaccinations in the past, but for whatever reason the vaccine has lost its effectiveness.  Doesn’t the moral high ground imply that all of us should vaccinate our otherwise healthy kids?

There’s a very simple answer to this, in my opinion:   No.

I am not saying that this is not worth thinking about.   And if someone comes to a different conclusion on this moral question, then as a matter of conscience go ahead and get your kids vaccinated even if you otherwise would not.

But I do not believe this is the moral high ground.   We are never asked by our Church to do anything to ourselves or to others (in this case, our kids) that causes harm even if it is done with the idea of helping others.    Yes, it’s true that we are asked to sacrifice for others, and in some cases lay down our lives for others.  And perhaps I can even buy the argument that I should willingly vaccinate myself if it really helps others.    But I would never harm, hurt, or kill my own child to save someone else.     As a parent I am first and foremost called to defend and protect my family.   Period.

OK, OK.   I know the immediate response:   But you aren’t harming them!   You’re helping them!    You’re an idiot!

An idiot I may be, but again I am not writing this to get into the pro-vaccine/anti-vaccine debate with all the government propaganda and the anti-big-pharm propaganda and contradicting studies that either side can use to make their point.   I am just saying that some of us have decided – whether you accept it or not or like it or not – that we see more harm than good in injecting vaccines into our children.   Whether harm or potential harm is real or perceived, whether we’re wrong or right, whether we’re idiots or geniuses, in the end we are doing what we believe is in the best interests of our children.   And they are my primary concern.

Now, this doesn’t mean we just don’t care about anyone else.   But it does mean, perfectly honestly, that your appeal to me to do the “moral” thing by inflicting what I perceive to be harm on my child so that your child can be safer is not going to fly.    This isn’t meant to be harsh, it’s just reality:   why would I place your child’s interests above mine?    I wouldn’t, and that’s a perfectly reasonable position.

The other part of this that makes this a bit of an empty appeal, in my opinion, is that my kids are simply very unlikely to (a) get this disease and (b) run into an at-risk person while a communicable state.    Could it happen?   Yeah, I guess it could.    But again, the probabilities are very low, and do not outweigh the certainty of getting vaccinated.

Having said all that, the moral question is certainly not an inappropriate thing to ponder.    But please, people.   Casting final judgment on someone who arrives at a different conclusion than you, either on the vaccine question itself or on the morality of making the decision to not vaccinate, is not helpful.    Nor is it doctrinally certain.    It is a point of view, and nothing more.

One final point I’d like to make isn’t around the moral question, but is with respect to our freedoms and liberties.    We Americans speak a lot of how we’re the land of the free and home of the brave.   But we are also pretty quick to punt the whole liberty thing away in exchange for feelings of safety and security, and we seem willing to impose things upon others in return for our own safety and security.    While there are many examples of this, the vaccine issue is a prime example.   The tyranny of the majority can be a scary thing, especially when the government itself openly encourages citizens to shame, ridicule, and outright bully other citizens to do something these other citizens are not comfortable doing, or are opposed to doing.     It should not even matter the reasons for it (why should a moral objection be excused but a decision based on information not be?).    On this issue, I have experienced first-hand the comments that are supposed to guilt me into changing my mind, the insults around how uninformed I am, and little acceptance that my right as a parent should supersede their own concerns about what that means for their kids.   I can only imagine the founding fathers’ reactions to the scenario where the government mandates the injection of anything into the bodies of individuals, including children, against the will of those individuals and children’s parents.    It’s actually pathetic, in my opinion, that so many feel perfectly fine with the idea of mandatory vaccination, showing no feeling of concern at all for the feelings and opinions of others.    How is that the moral high ground?

This issue should continue to be discussed amicably, and people should be informed fully of both supporting studies as well as an honest presentation of risks of side effects and studies that aren’t all favorable.   Give people all the facts and let them make their own decisions.   That is the moral high ground.

What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.

Male and Female He Created Them

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It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of creation.   Aside from all the theology of it all, God created us to procreate.   The mechanism by which He did this was to create man and woman.   This is not just true of the human race, but of all living creation, save certain exceptions that are either single-cell organisms or random things God seems to have created just because He can and enjoys messing with us a little bit.

Yes, it’s true that certain elements of creation are either non-gender (bacteria, for example) and propagate through cell division, or are hermaphrodites (both male and female) and reproduce all by themselves through some sort of kinky process I don’t really care to dwell on.   But there is one common characteristic that every aspect of reproducing creation shares:  the way you reproduce is the way you’re designed, and the way it’s meant to be.

Man, of course, is our focus here.   We are made in the image and likeness of God.   It may seem strange that God the Father, a Spirit and neither solely masculine nor feminine, created us as male and female.   But we need to keep in mind that our image and likeness is our spiritual nature.  God has no body, so there can be no physical form at all that would be a perfect reflection of God.    Further, God is not just the Father, but the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It has long been theologically accepted that the family is a reflection of the Trinity.  While the Trinity’s oneness is spiritual and not physical, our humanity requires a way to commune with each other physically in order to physically propagate.  The Holy Spirit is the result of the love between Father and Son, while our children are the result of the love between mother and father.

One thing that has been apparent from the beginning of the first moment of man’s existence is that the devil realizes that the best way to undermine God, to mock God, to pull people away from God, is to attack humanity precisely where we most reflect God’s design for us, and most reflect His very essence.

People have often pointed to “End Times” study – such as in Revelation – and noted that there seems to be a false prophet (mockery of John the Baptist) who precedes the Antichrist (mockery of Christ).   The Family is, of course, attacked continuously throughout all of salvation history.

One thing that has also been easy to see throughout all of history is the attack on the procreative aspect of sexuality.   Whether we are talking about sex outside of marriage, or sex for pure pleasure, or contraception, or homosexuality – when the procreative act takes place without the procreative aspect of it willfully and purposefully in play, then this is an attack and a mockery of the very love between Father and Son that produces the third Person of the Trinity eternally.   It’s a mockery, then, of the Trinity itself.

This has always been a human struggle, and in different times these things ebb and flow and rise and fall.   It is probably worse in our time than it has ever been, but it is not a new attack.   The attack just seems to be more successful in its acceptance and effectiveness in drawing people into error and away from God.

However, we are now seeing an attack that I believe is unprecedented in all of world history.   It is an attack on the very existence of human being being male or female.    It is so absurd on its surface that it is easy to not take it seriously.   And quite frankly, we shouldn’t even be having a debate about it.   It’s is self-evident that we are male and female.   But it shows how easily duped we humans are, particularly among the supposed intellectual elite – that this is even something we are now discussing.

The deception is insanely diabolical.   Homosexuality is problematic, but it does not by its nature deny the gender of the person, whether male or female.    Even someone who feels like they are a man trapped in a woman’s body or vice-versa is recognizing that there is such a distinction – male and female.

I am talking about people who are now believing, and convincing others to believe, that they are neither male nor are they female.   They dismiss gender as “binary.”

This may at first be viewed with a bit of eye-rolling and easy to dismiss.  Quite honestly, I am not sure I even heard of the concept as non-binary genderism until a year or two ago. But we ignore this heresy at our peril.   This is more than an attack on family, it is more than a mockery of the Trinity, it is more than any of the previous confusions in the realm of human sexuality and family.  This is new, and it is an attack on the very nature of humanity itself.   It is the utmost mockery of the human person, and of God’s design, and of God.

It is already the case that Canada is considering the passage of – and very well may pass – a bill that will make it a criminal offense to address a person by the pronouns “he” or “she” in lieu of “they.”    I’m not making this up.     Within the last year or two – really as soon as the Supreme Court OK’d same-sex marriage – the entire issue of transgenderism reached a fever pitch, and transgenderism evolved in meaning from a man feeling like he needs to become a woman and going through some action or process to make that happen, to now being able to just say he’s a woman because he feels that way regardless of his biological design, to being no such thing as a man or a woman.   We are all just non-binary creatures who have no business calling ourselves one thing or another because it offends the sensibilities of those around us who don’t accept that we are one thing or another.

This is such a devious attack on human nature by the devil that I don’t think any one at any time ever saw it coming.    I have read countless accounts – fictional and predictive – of what the world would become as we near the End Times or Chastisement or whatever.    Most of those accounts properly foresaw a world falling away from God, becoming more selfish and violent, increases in sexual perversions, and so on.    I never recall seeing anyone accurately forecast that a good chunk of humanity would devolve to a state where we utterly ignore our physical attributes and refuse to recognize our gender, and further that this group would gain acceptance and relevance to the point where governments would promote this idea, outlaw opposing views, and completely turn the argument around and call all those who oppose it from the very simple arguments of observation, reason, and logic immoral bigots.

It’s quite mad, and it’s the world we live in.

We all know, in the end, that God has His ultimate victory over the Devil.   We may or may not see that in our lifetime, but one wonders how long we can sustain such a path of utter disregard for humanity.   The one remaining step to absolute perdition seems to be laws that criminalize the belief that humans are any different than plants or animals.   We’ve seen people argue this in the past, and they’ve been dismissed as the lunatics that they are.    But we may soon see the day where they are no longer dismissed, but accepted and celebrated, and their ideas legislated in some form or fashion.

If I were God, I likely would have wiped us out long ago.   Thankfully for all of us, I am not God (despite what the Relativists think).   But the only way for Him to gain the ultimate victory here on earth can’t be pretty for anyone.

 

Relativism is Not New

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Someone I love dearly is a friend on Facebook, but I have to admit that I sometimes lose sleep and appetite over the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made, the agenda he proclaims, and what he posts.

In response to a post he made recently, which suggests that unconditional love means “accepting who he is” without question (which in his mind means celebrating his lifestyle, his choices, everything he believes, and so on) I responded accordingly:

“Unconditional love is some things and it is not other things.   By definition it means we are loved regardless of what we do, say, think, and believe.   It means we are loved whether we love God back or we neglect God and focus only on ourselves.   What it does not mean is that love is only love if we accept as true what another says, does, and believes.”

The response was frustrating, but unsurprising.   I’m going to dissect it piece by piece.

“My innate disagreement with your definition of unconditional love is that it is conditional.”

OK.  Got that?   This is why argument is futile.   Take something, turn it upside down, establish that as a premise, and all arguments flow from there.   The issue is that the premise here is poppycock.    It completely renders all subsequent arguments absurd.   And yet, this is his mindset.   How can unconditional love mean anything other than the fact that I (or God, or anyone) will love you no matter what.   You may be right, you may be wrong, you may be wonderful, you may be obnoxious…   but I love you anyway.

“…that stems from our idea of what the idea of “God” means.”

God is not an idea.   God is real.    It is true that we develop our own ideas of what the reality of God is.    So I kinda sorta maybe get what he’s saying here.   But I think he falls short of admitting the reality of an actual God, and I think he has succumbed to the idea of “God” actually being equivalent to “the idea of God.”

“In my eyes, as the very experience of God (which is love) in action, every single one of us are all true in what we say, do, and believe.”

This sounds wonderful.   It’s also nonsense.   It is pure relativism and it is amazing to me that anyone in his or her right mind can actually believe this.   The entire concept of all of us being all true in everything logically collapses on itself the moment I say I disagree with his statement.    If I disagree with him, then it means I don’t believe that we are all true in what we say, do, and believe.   Which either means I’m right about that or I’m wrong.   but according to him, I can’t be wrong, so I might be right.   But then that makes him wrong.   It’s an unwinnable position of paradox that is utterly simple to dismantle using lessons learned on Day One of logic class.

“That is what makes unconditional love – which really is a redundant term, if you break it down, because love cannot be conditional – so important.”

I’m not exactly sure what everyone being all true has to do with love being unconditional, but I will grant that real love is probably redundant with unconditional love.   I still think the term has explanatory merit.

“It allows all things to exist as they are.”

I really don’t get this line.   All things exist as they are regardless of whether I love you or hate you.   But whatever.

“It allows us to recognize the God essence of the perfection in what one another says, does, and believes, understanding that on the level of truth in which that being exists, it is perfect, it is “right,” and it is good.”

So, do you understand that?   Yeah…  me neither.    He does like to get all flowery with the language, and it is a Facebook response, so it probably was just a flowage of thought and words.   But, I think I can boil it down simply to the following:   Everyone has the essence of God, which makes us perfect, which makes us right in everything.   Which, of course, is utter nonsense.   But how do you go about convincing someone that they epitomize the perfection of God that they are wrong?   This is one problem with relativism – it defies all logic, but once embraced, there is no logical offense against it.

“Whether or not what another says, does, and believes rings true for another God essence makes no difference as to its “rightness,” because God does not evaluate itself based on the polarities of “right” and “wrong,” as love automatically transcends both polarities in the act of being expressed to a place where all beings’ choices are beautiful and perfect for them.”

Sigh.   It’s actually amazing to me, but in a sad way.   There is no acknowledgment here of an actual God.   Everything is an idea of God, a God essence.   The statement that “God does not evaluate itself” is actually true, but he is not talking about the being of God judging Himself.   He is talking about us all being God, which means we can’t judge each other, because we are all God and we can’t judge God.    I’ll be honest, this actually makes me a bit queasy when I really think about it.

“By loving unconditionally, we allow all perspectives to exist and evolve into their highest form.   Mandates of “right” and “wrong” pervert this allowance by judging what is good and bad, inducing guilt and fear, which is not God, which is not love.    Judgment, or condition, only indicates a lack of God in the being who is judging, not the one being judged.”

And here we go.   There is no right or wrong.    To judge anything at all induces guilt and fear.   And what does that mean?   It means that if you judge any thing at all – not a judgment of the soul or of a person’s salvation, but even anything they do or say – anything at all – then you are NOT God.

This is insane.

You may wonder how I responded.   I didn’t.   First of all, this person is family.   It’s a peacekeeping response by me to not respond.   Second of all, I know with certainty that he believes my view on things to be archaic.   He will not listen to me.   My job at this point is to pray that someone comes into his life that will help him realize this erroneous and dangerous path that he’s on.    He receives so much support from others when he posts that I am worried it won’t happen, but with God all things are possible.

Now, why did I mention that relativism is nothing new?

It’s because I am pretty sure he thinks that what he believes about God – or the God essence, or idea, or whatever the hell he believes – is a progressive idea.   It’s an evolution of thought.  It’s an evolution into self-divinity.

This is the oldest heresy.   It’s vanity and pride, and it’s the very first sin.   Satan tempted Adam and Eve by appealing to the very idea that by eating the fruit they will have the knowledge of God.   They bought into it and ate the apple, or apricot, or pear, or pomegranate or whatever that forbidden fruit happened to be.

So the flowery language and appearance of deep thought aside, relativism is more ancient and archaic than Catholicism is.

So,all you Relativists, put that in your pipe and smoke it.