Thoughts on Social Justice – Part 1

The fundamental reason for my hesitation around anything termed “Social Justice” is that it’s rarely clear whose flag we’re flying under.

The urge to help those in need of help is always admirable, but it presupposes a belief system that quantifies the need and the help.

One man’s beliefs lead him to believe those suffering from perverse sexual urges need to be taught about Law and Grace and the joy of salvation, and then commanded to wage all-out war with those temptations.

Another man’s beliefs lead him to affirm that man’s perversions because that removes the need for war, and peace means bliss. (As does ignorance)

For social justice to achieve any meaningful result, it must be based on a standard external to and unsullied by our biases. Otherwise our justice is only validated by the fact that some of us who are alive are more vocal than others, and those are two requirements that can change very quickly.

In other words, for social justice to achieve any meaningful result, it must be based on God’s justice. God as Creator and eternal embodies justice and it is impossible to step into a justice greater than Him.

Any version of social justice formed from the minds of those who hate God’s justice can only achieve success in the sense that a man hurling hot dogs off the Empire State Building will at times feed the homeless. In the meantime, lots of brain damage occurs and a general mess is made of the whole effort.

Having accepted this, then, it would be absurd for Christians to – in the interest of helping – operate with a concept of social justice whose great thinkers hate the God with whom the Christian presumably associates himself. At best Christians operating under the auspices of un-Godly social justice theories are paving a road toward a fiery place with a smile in their hearts.

At worst, they’re just showing their real thoughts on this God they claim.

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Top marks for a poor performance

This is a great quote addressing the “I’m basically a good person” sort of mentality pervasive in our current culture.

“Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—“kindness” or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy. . . . The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty.”

– “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis

Indoctrination and madness

This story.

When the Supreme Court decides to legalize gay ceremonies in all states, it will be perhaps the most destructive decision they have made since Roe v. Wade.

Not content with only killing millions of babies who are inconvenient for their sexual appetite, now they turn to corrupt and pervert those who survived the first attack. One can almost hear the back-room conversations: “If these children MUST be born, let’s make sure they’re enslaved to the same appetites we are”

This article made me angry. It also made me grieve.

She is lost, and she is dragging with her hundreds, even thousands of children, pulling them from God – and in the end, His Truth will win anyway. She cannot defeat God- she can only rage at Him uselessly…

Last week a friend posted about parents who are letting their daughter dress like a boy and pretending that she is a boy at 5 years old. One of the comments from someone on his list was that “They never had a daughter.”

I mean…

The utter madness. But it comes down to this:
Stop perverting and approving of perversion to hide your own sins and rage against God. Please. Or at least stop abusing the next generation by assaulting them with your lies.

Evangelism: A series of verses

A call to evangelize: Ezekiel 3: 18-19 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.”

And wisdom: 1 Peter 5:8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

And comfort: Romans 8: 38-39 “…I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 (all too) common responses to the call:

1. Exodus 4: 10 “Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

2. Proverbs 26: 13 – The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road!
A lion is in the open square!”

A reminder and a rebuke:

Exodus 4:11-12 “The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

Isaiah 51: 12-13 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies
And of the son of man who is made like grass,
That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth,
That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor,
As he makes ready to destroy?”

A Commission:

Matthew 28: 19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

If this isn’t motivating for Christians to fight harder…

From “Fidelity” by Doug Wilson:

“In the sixties, that time of sexual infantilism, we were frequently urged to make love, not war. The assumption was that lovemaking was a peaceful activity, regardless of who you were in the hay with. But James tells us where war comes from – warring desires” (James 4:1-7)

“Sexual revolutions must necessarily end in blood. And to consider the truth of this we do not need to look off in the distance at all the trouble caused by Helen of Troy. James tells us that men war and fight because of lust. On whom they make war may vary, but the result is the same. The sexual laxity of our nation, to take an example close to home, has resulted to date in over 40 million abortions… in short, millions of men thought that someone else’s life was a reasonable price to pay for the pleasure of getting off. When lust is inflamed and encouraged, as it is in our nation, it cannot be detached from conflict that comes to blood.”

Impossible Goals, Amazing Grace

One of the greatest problems with rehabilitative programs which are based not on God and His Word but rather on science and its word is that they do not require the impossible of their patients. The modern man’s pursuit is toward what feels good – a pursuit of self-approval instead of a pursuit of God’s approval. If someone feels guilty for doing something – or rather, failing to not do something – the response now seems to be that they really didn’t need to fight it in the first place, and why are they trying so hard? It’s cruel to expect them to wage such a war…

I submit that if we do not require of ourselves impossible standards of righteousness, we can never really comprehend the Grace that saves us.

Christ reminds us in the New Testament of the 2 fundamental impossible laws God requires us to follow:
1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37, 39)

It is through the impossibility of fulfilling these commandments that we are awakened to grace (Romans 7). We are supposed to discover our incapability – our wretchedness – through striving for the impossible. Once we discover that, we can finally gasp with relief as we hear that “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1)

If we do not strive to fulfill the Law we cannot discover that it is truly impossible to fulfill the Law. If we have not discovered our incapability of fulfilling the Law, then we will have no appreciation when someone comes along and tells us that, if we will follow them, they will fulfill it for us. It would be like building a house for yourself – believing that you have all the knowledge and experience necessary to do so – only to have someone come along halfway through the project demanding that you let them take over, and by the way you’re doing it all wrong.

Of course it’s offensive. Who are they to tell you that what you’re doing is wrong. You’re already an expert – it all came naturally to you, really – so you’re just fine on your own. And anyway, some of the houses in their village look pretty rough (never mind those daily renovations).

But of course, you ARE doing it all wrong. Not only are your hands broken so that you can’t hold the hammer straight, but you don’t have any materials and the 3 pieces of wood you have fashioned into a rough shack are rotting and the wind makes them lean dangerously.

As C.S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”

The battle is supposed to be impossible (see Eph. 6:12) so that we understand that only Christ can accomplish the victory.

Yet we constantly commit the cruel error of lowering the standard of righteousness to a more reachable goal. We do this most of all for ourselves, of course, but the low standards we set personally will continue out to cover the rest of society insofar as they through application to the masses allow us to feel justified.

(Not that we lower ALL standards of course…we’ll still feel perfectly superior when you fall short of the standards of righteousness which we have no trouble maintaining)

The effect of this lowering of standards – whether because we lust after a sin or simply feel too tired to deal with it anymore (but still, only WE can deal with it) – is that we cheapen grace until it seems a poor gift and hardly worth our thanks. The inevitable end proceeding from such low standards and cheapened grace is that, like in the metaphor above, we end up resenting the Master who is trying to change what we’re doing.

The final result? A seared conscience – a total failure of discernment towards what is right and what is wrong – which can only lead us to destruction.

Unless, of course, Grace saves us from it.

Summary:
If you tell someone they can not or should not fight against the sins with which they struggle, or that they need not fight so hard, or that we’re really not supposed to be THAT good, then (short of God’s intervening grace) they will believe you. And they, being so led, will not strive toward righteousness but will eventually strive away from it.

Application:
If you have temptations and desires which the Bible forbids, you must wage an all-out war and expend yourself fully against it, so that you will learn that you require Christ to win for you, so that you will love Him and experience the Joy of His salvation, so that you will embrace the Spirit and His sanctifying work in you…
So that you will finally become better.

You may not fall short.

No matter how hard it is.
No matter how good that sin feels.
No matter those who tell you its natural.

Fight. Fail. Flee to God.

Win.

Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” -Jonathan Edwards.

Love your neighbor as yourself: Why I cannot affirm gay marriage.

For Christians, being against the false concept of gay marriage is a simple matter of love. Do we love the lost, or do we hate them?

I can no more support and affirm your choice to live according to sinful sexual urges than I could support and affirm:
“being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.(Romans 1: 29-32)

Truly, I could no more affirm your giving into all the sinful temptations assaulting you than I can affirm myself doing the same.
I hate my sins. Therefore must I also hate yours.

To support and affirm homosexuality as a lifestyle is the same as supporting and affirming any other sin as wholesome and healthy in the eyes of God, and to do so is to be arrogant:

1 Corinthians 5:2 “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.”

And to do so would be utmost hatred:

Hebrews 12: 8 “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

We dare not pretend to be Christians filled with the forgiveness and the love of God who saved us from OUR sins and yet not reach out also to save others who are lost.

Jonah3:10 – 4:2
10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
4:1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”

Therefore though the mortification of the old man is painful; though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; though the true calling of God will be as difficult for you to face as it often is for me…I must also hold you to it. I must chase you from your former self with all my ability, and toward the eternal Joy of our faithful Lord and Savior.

For, “Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Prov. 27:5)

I must hold you to the same standard to which I hold myself, knowing that  “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” (1 Tim. 1: 15).

I do so with no fear, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

But rather with concern for your souls and with the best I can muster of the abundant love which God has showered upon me, knowing that the promises which the Lord has given to me He is also faithful to give to you.

Flee your sins. 
Wage the war. 
It will hurt. 
Christ will win.

Christ HAS won!

Bastards or Sons?

The lies of our culture as regards nearly everything can be boiled down to one thing:

They do not understand love.

So then if our first response is hate, we fail because we are only speaking the language we hear from them, instead of bringing the new message they need.
(Proverbs 26:4 “Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Or you will also be like him.”)

Since they do not know Love, the situation becomes more complicated: What they see as love is hate, and what they see as hate is (sometimes) real Love.

Thus, to use the godless world’s language, we must “hate them”…righteously.
(Prov. 26:5 “Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.”)

We must be willing to lead/push them into the painful process of putting to death the old man (“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous” -Heb. 12:11a) with all true love and the hope of God’s grace that will outfit them with the glorious new man (“nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” – Heb. 12:11b)

The world desires to be and to produce bastards (Heb. 12:8 (KJV) but we are sons of God and our great commission is to bring new children into the Family.

We may not only do this biologically.

Ruminations on Responsibility

If something causes you to sin…you still committed the sin.

A gun, a bottle of alcohol, a social media account, a casino, a shopping mall, a video game console – these are all things, and they are things which can be used positively or negatively.

To blame the things for your sin is to avoid dealing with the fact of the sin itself. In the end, YOU did not do all that could be done to avoid the thing. Recognize it, own it, repent of it, go to God for mercy – and by God’s grace, grow!

Mind you, there are complicating factors whenever the case involves 2 human actors instead of 1 human actor and 1 inanimate object. For instance, in the modesty debate. While it is fundamentally a man’s problem for looking at a woman wrong – he failed, he gave in, he did not lead properly, and as a leader he bears the first responsibility in his failure – the difference between seeing a modestly dressed woman and an immodestly dressed woman is more akin to the difference between a bottle of whiskey being 2 blocks away at a bar, and a bottle of whiskey being handed to him. To put it (hopefully more clearly) – a bottle of whiskey does not offend by simply existing, but if it were capable of action and assaulted you with its smell, it would have fault.

For men the issue of modesty is one of leadership, of self-control, of love. For women the issue of modesty is one of support, of not being a stumbling block, and of love.

There is unfortunately a common thought among guys now that “if so-and-so got accosted by a guy, it was because she was immodestly dressed.”

No. That is a lie, and if you think it’s true, you are not a Christian leader yet.

That is the poorest excuse of a man too weak, too pitiful, too cowardly to assume his role as a leader. Her responsibility only carries to the extent of what you see – how you respond is entirely 100% your fault, and you bear the full weight of the guilt. You failed. Man up.

Quotes on Change: Today or Tomorrow?

I’ve come across an abundance of quotes about change in the past couple of years from some of the well-known and less-known Christian authors in history. These are a couple of the more convicting and striking quotes I’ve come across:

Quote 1: Here’s one from a contemporary of Augustine – Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 A.D.):

“Sorrow on me, beloved! that I unapt and reluctant in my will abide, and behold, winter hath come upon me, and the infinite tempest hath found me naked and spoiled and with no perfecting of good in me. I marvel at myself. O my beloved, how daily I default and daily do repent. I build up for an hour and an hour overthrows what I have built.

At evening I say, tomorrow I will repent, but when morning comes, joyous I waste the day. Again at evening I say, I shall keep vigil all night and I shall entreat the Lord to have mercy on my sins. But when the night is come, I am full of sleep.”

Quote 2: One of my favorite quotes from Augustine’s Confessions:

“I flung myself down on the ground somehow under a fig tree and gave way to tears; they streamed and flooded from my eyes, “an acceptable sacrifice to you,”  (ref: Ps. 51) and I kept saying to you, perhaps not in these words but with this meaning: “And you, O Lord, how long? How long, Lord; will you be angry forever? Remember not our former iniquities” (Ps. 6:3, 79:5). For I felt that they still held me fast. In misery I exclaimed: ‘How long, how long shall I continue to say: ‘tomorrow and tomorrow’? Why not now? Why not this very hour put an end to my uncleanness?'”

These quotes remind me of the words of Joel 2:12 – “‘Yet even now,‘ declares the Lord, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.’ Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil.”

In addition the words of Hebrews in chapter 3 exhort us to the immediacy of change and of encouraging others to righteousness as well:

12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,”

Though “today” brings an abundance of sins we will commit, we know for an absolute truth that God has forgiven all our sins – even those we run to tomorrow – because of His Son Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. He is willing to save, and He has promised and constantly reminded us through Word and Sacraments of the definite value of His covenant.

But remember the warning of James chapter 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works?” Change must be real, and real change must be painful and transformative. Putting to death the deeds of the flesh is supposed to be really painful. Transformation is supposed to be realized, as Charles Spurgeon points out with this quote:

Quote 3: “If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.”

This also means that you should be anxious to get out of the company of others who are like your former self – not that you should avoid all the godless for, as Paul says, “then you would have to go out of the world”, but certainly avoid those who seek to keep you in their schemes (Proverbs 1:8-19)

Most importantly, change must be begun “Today and Today” (and today and today and…you get the idea) for our entire lives, keeping in mind the comforting command of Christ in Matthew 6:  34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Quote 4: “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
Corrie ten Boom

And as always, do all this remembering Hebrews 12:14-16:
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”