Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Isn't it always the case?

It's hard to be too critical of Rob Portman. Believe me, I've tried, but our language just lacks the words to adequately describe such spineless amoral treacherous cowardly hatred towards one's own son and country.

Recently, Senator Portman (DIABLO - Democrat in all but label only) of OH! IO! became the most prominent Republican to publicly support forcing us to pretend that serial sodomy is marriage. This is not exactly shocking. The GOP's cave on this issue was as predictable as the inevitable failure - yet again, they're pandering for votes with an "us too!" strategy that never works. If people want to vote for amoral juveniles who refuse to say 'No!' to any spending, desire, or behavior (and they apparently do, based on last November), why would they vote for the imitators rather than the real thing? It never works, and this time will be no exception. So that aspect isn't particularly interesting - been there, done that.

What is actually interesting is his story about how he changed his mind on this issue. His son is gay, so he decided to work for his son to get what he wants. That's it. No painstaking research or careful analysis of the arguments (or argument - the other side is nothing more than emotional venting). One day he's opposed, then his son says he's gay, and suddenly it must be OK! It's such weaksauce that even some devoted pro-sodomite liberals have said that while they're glad he came to the wrong conclusion, his reasoning is so dangerously poor it renders him unfit for office (on that part, we can agree). He holds one position until he thinks the other side will benefit his family, then he instantly changes sides? Horrible, regardless of the issue.

And yet, even his story shouldn't come as a surprise to Christians, because we've heard it so many times before. Since I first noticed it, I've looked for it whenever a prominent Christian endorses homosexuality, and so far it's been there every time. The thing that got each of them to re-think their position was knowing someone - a close friend or relative - who 'came out' as gay. The reasoning then goes like this:

1) The Bible is unambiguous - sexual perversity, including homosexuality, is sin.
2) But friend/relative/famous person is such a nice guy!
3) If he's doing it, it can't possibly be sin, right?
4) Therefore, either by some incredible hermeneutical gymnastics, the clear teachings of scripture actually mean the opposite of what they say. Or more directly, God must just be wrong.

And so it goes. God's authoritative word and his opinions collide - and like Adam, he concludes that God just doesn't know as much as his creation. And so rather than corageously loving our friend, we rationalize for him, and make him feel good, accepted, affirmed, proud, about persisting in his sin as it continues to destroy his soul.

And make no mistake - homosexuality is only one sin where we do this. In fact, if we didn't do this for ourselves, we wouldn't sin. Every sin is an occasion when we decide we know better than God. Mercifully, God forgives us in Christ, and grants repentance, often through the means of a friend who loves us enough to tell us the truth. It's hard to imagine worse hatred than affirming someone in his sin. Let us surround ourselves with people who truly love us, and truly love those around us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thoughts on the Conquest of Canaan

Reading through Joshua, and commentary on it from here. Commenting on the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land and the total destruction of its inhabitants, Hamilton writes:

"If one follows the inner logic of the theology of the Bible, the destruction of the peoples of the land is not unjust. Because of their wickedness (Deut. 9:5), Yahweh commands Israel to place them under the ban lest their idolatry be contagious (20:16-18). Just as Yahweh making himself known was the most significant thing about the destruction of Egypt, so also the demonstration of Yahweh's holiness is the most significant thing about the ban on the Canaanites. The conquest will be seen as a brutal, uncivilized, merciless atrocity only if we reject what the first five chapters of Joshua proclaim: that Yahweh is glorifying himself in the salvation of Israel wrought through the judgment they visit on the peoples of the land. Yahweh is showing astonishing mercy to Israel, and he is not clearing the guilty of the land (cf. Ex. 34:6-7)." (kindle location 3350; see also this from Fred Butler)

I want to make two comments, and y'all can discuss amongst yourselves.
1) If the Torah is true, then (per the above quote) we shouldn't object to the conquest of Canaan.
2) If it's not true, then we really shouldn't object to the conquest of Canaan.


Monday, March 11, 2013

Amazing Faith - Joshua

Had another post started, struggling to tie it all up. In the meantime, I finished reading the Pentateuch and was struck again by the incredible faith displayed by Joshua. I'm not talking about when he and Caleb were the only two spies who believed God about conquering Canaan, or even about his remaining in the tent of meeting even after Moses had left. No, I'm talking about the ridiculous faith he showed at the end of Deuteronomy, as he prepares to assume the reigns of leadership from Moses.

Israel has been delivered from slavery in Egypt and led to the Promised Land. After disobeying and refusing to take it as God ordered, they were punished by wandering in the desert for 40 years until everyone old enough to have participated in the rebellion was dead. Now they have come back to the banks of the Jordan, and Moses is about to die. The last few days of his life are spent declaring the glory of God, reminding Israel of all God has done on their behalf (and their faithless response), encouraging them to faithfully obey, and reciting the terms of the covenant God has made with them.

At the climax of this presentation (recorded as the book of Deuteronomy), the covenant is renewed between God and this new generation of Israelites. Moses gives a lengthy list of blessings they will receive for faithful obedience, and a more than thrice as long list of curses they will bring on themselves if they disobey. Those curses are incredibly nasty; most of us cannot fathom being so desperate for food that women would hide newborn children and afterbirth so they can eat them and not share with their families. We can't imagine the sheer horror of being in a nation where these curses are being brought to pass.

As we keep reading, we see that these curses are not just theoretical; they will come upon Israel. They do not have hearts to obey; a future generation will see the smoking remains of Israel like Sodom; Moses prophesies about how they will be restored after these curses have driven them from the land. It is beyond doubt that at some unspecified time, Israel will disobey so badly that God will bring these horrifying curses on them, and these Israelites are totally capable of bringing it about.

In the midst of this, Joshua is commissioned to lead these people. The people who are guaranteed to bring about God's wrath as surely as Sodom and Gomorrah. Even in his commissioning, God again declares that Israel will disobey and be punished!

And Joshua took the job. No hesitation. No complaints. No questioning or bargaining or begging for God to choose someone else. God said to do it, and Joshua obeyed.

Joshua had no promise that these curses wouldn't come in his lifetime. God promised success in the conquest of the land, and that's all. He had no guarantee that he would be exempt or that he would not live to see the destruction of his beloved people. For all Joshua knew, they were going to conquer the land, turn to idols, and be cursed and conquered five years later. He knew without a doubt that the people he nation he was about to lead would suffer beyond imagination, the only question was when it would all happen.

And he obeyed God without hesitation, even knowing this was in the future. That is faith.

Contrast his attitude with the purpose-driven voice of God sunstandstillsmallvoice vision casting movement so prevalent today. Obedience always leads to blessing and victory and glorious fulfillment and utopian self-actualization and blah blah blah. The idea that obeying God might lead to suffering - or that we can obey but our loved ones will still suffer - never seems to cross the minds of today's evanjellybean gurus. Much of the popular teaching sounds as if God owes us rewards here and now for good behavior, as though we would not need to obey if the outcome wasn't as good as we desired.

Obeying God is always, by definition, the best thing to do. Even if it means temporary suffering, a better course could not even be imagined. Joshua provides a great example, one we would be wise to follow.