12/12/09

Liberal Lie: Prohibition was a Failure

Prohibition Worked!: Legalizing Drugs by Rewriting History
By: Jonathan Harris

In the current debate to legalize marijuana and other drugs, the argument is given by social libertarians that, "after all, alcohol and cigarettes are legal!" I suppose if two society rotting items are considered permissible the flood gates should swing wide upon right? I mean, we're all about freedom here in America right? I've watched many liberal/libertarians debate this topic, both on television, and in person, and I think I can honestly say, some good points are brought up. Namely, that the constitution delegates the states as responsible for handling what substances are legal, not the Federal government, and that the items themselves are not evil, but rather the people who abuse them. No qualms there with a Biblical worldview, in fact much the opposite. Biblically speaking, there is precedent for checks and balances in the form of local authority, and certainly the idea that man is evil is all through the Scripture (not substances being evil). However, I loose marijuana advocates when they start saying, "You shouldn't legislate morality!" and, "People are just going to do it anyway" From an atheistic stand point, these arguments seem consistent, but that's about the only worldview that they seem consistent in. Every decision we make is moral, whether it's putting in a stop light to save human life or charging a tax to pay for defense. The question is, who's morality is being legislated? God's or man's? The idea that people are going to get their hands on marijuana either way may or may not be true. The level of usage would certainly rise if it were legalized just like every other evil practice which has been legalized (i.e. abortions sky-rocketed after roe v. wade). But even if it didn't rise, why should the government seek to put its stamp of approval on the practice? If everyone was going to murder any way, we should just make murder legal right? I've heard the argument that, "Well, guns are used to kill people but we believe in the 2nd amendment, therefore the negative effects of marijuana should not dissuade us from legalizing it." Nice rhetoric, but no cigar. Guns are useful for defense and hunting. They save lives. Just because some people misuse them doesn't mean we make them illegal. Marijuana however has only one use: Getting high. We already universally allow the use of "marinol" (medical marijuana that's ingested, not smoked) in the hospitals, but why would we want everyone on the street having free access to it? There's no legitimate use! (I wrote a paper on marijuana's negative societal effects a couple years ago. You can read it here.) The biggest problem I have with those who advocate the legalization of marijuana are those who use the argument that "Prohibition didn't work either!" Oh really? History has been so rewritten in recent years, we're all like zombies trained to repeat the mantra, "Prohibition was a failure, prohibition was a failure." Let's see if this is really the case. Below I have linked three articles. Please, take a look at them, especially if you believe that prohibition didn't work. The way we think about prohibition will shape the way we think about narcotics.

Actually, Prohibition was a Success - NY Times 1989

Prohibition had its Pluses - Albany Times Union 1990


Prohibition Worked - Chicago Sun Times 1988

11/15/09

Twilight: A Passion of Deviance

When Classic Romanticism meets Human Depravity
By: Jonathan Harris

“Substance;” it’s the cry of our day. It’s what journeys are made of, conversations obsessed with, dreams haunted by, and fantasies transformed into. It’s the all-encompassing satisfaction, the never-ending gratification, the “thing” that makes everything else worth it. Scientific inquiry could only probe so far, religious devotion so deep, and hedonism so long, before their adherents became depressed in the shadow of futility. Particulars were never capable of pointing the way to absolutes, yet stubbornly man insists on futility. Every historical period has adopted a philosophical approach attempting a framework for capturing and holding substance. Today the spirit of romanticism reigns supreme. A type of mystical fate, portrayed by art, reflects what satisfies the soul. Drawing on pre-Christian orders of darkness, paganism has once again dawned as one aspect of our humanistic answer. Being recast on the canvas of romanticism, the darkness can now be called “light,” being pleasant to the senses, delightful to the eyes, and comforting to the pride of life. The Twilight saga is just the latest installment in a long line of such developments. Attempting to paint the ancient creatures of demonic cultures as the good guys is not something Christians should take lightly. The very action of drinking blood (whether animal or human) dates back to ancient soothsaying practices in direct violation of the Bible (Gen. 9:4, Acts 15:29). More importantly perhaps, Twilight’s emphasis on individualism and emotional euphoria as the absolute substance poses a troubling threat to the outlook of its young audience. Let’s take a look at what the first movie “Twilight” presents in contrast to Biblical principles.

It should be obvious to anyone with any familiarity with the Twilight saga, that Belle and Edward are “in Love.” Belle exclaims that she is “irrevocably in Love” after an extremely short but involved relationship. Does she even know what love is after two dates and a couple "hellos" (let alone Twilight's young audience)? With both characters moving at lightning speed toward intimacy, it should come as no surprise that hormones, and not a renewed mind, make all the decisions. Edward is seen as the mature, morally upright (to contrast him with those who would rape Belle), and passionate teenager, with one real weakness: Belle. He is observed to possess a great deal of restraint, but confesses, “I don’t have the strength to stay away from you anymore (referring to Belle),” and, “you are my personal brand of heroin.” Of course, any young female would be overjoyed to be a boys only weakness, and Belle capitalizes on Edward’s dilemma making physical advances to temp him into “giving in.” The film’s feminist sub-theme portrays Belle as initiating the relationship, and even encouraging another girl in the film to act likewise, rendering the way Belle and Edward meet to be in violation of the way Christ pursues the Church. Christian proponents of Twilight like to claim, “There is no sex,” I think a word is left out: “shown.” Edward thirsts for Belle’s blood, and “It is the idea of killing the girl that becomes the metaphor for consummating the sex.”1 Belle and Edward get as close as they possibly can, flirting with the idea of consummating their “love.” “every touch between Bella and Edward is electric, clearly with a sensual undertone.2” Edward likes watching Bella sleep (without her knowledge) finding her condition “interesting,” and on one occasion in the film spends the entire night holding her as she sleeps (with her knowledge). Aside from being unrealistic, this should send at the very minimum a red flag to parents and youth leaders concerned about what their children are reading. Edward seems to substitute the words "flirt with," instead of, "flee" when it comes to youthful lusts. This relationship goes beyond attraction. The entire film focuses on a young girl’s obsession with intimacy, both physical and emotional, to the exclusion of all other impulses. The will to be human is lost when Belle unceasingly begs to loose her soul (something Edward believes will send her to hell with him) through becoming a vampire herself. The longing for a parental relationship is destroyed as she lies, manipulates, and ignores (sometimes upon Edward’s direction) her concerned parents in order to share her intimate thoughts with her boyfriend. Her high school acquaintances, though trying to reach out and be friendly, are often times ignored as well. The picture of love here is not a Biblical self-sacrificial one. It’s a “what-can-I-get”exclusivity. Adolescent girls are taught that positive rewards come to fruition when wise council is not sought in favor of trusting one’s heart. Twilight teaches that when your in love no one else really matters. Belle’s whole life has one object, and that’s a young man whose personality, while unrealistically cute (think metro, CW, 25 in high school, never got dirty in his life type of guy), is shadowed by a selfish character.

“Edward knows, and says, that Bella would be better off without him, but that he can't bear to be without her. . . Real love would release Bella, knowing that her fascination for Edward will probably lead to her death. But love in Twilight is not real love. It's selfish. Edward interacts with Bella because it's what makes him feel good, not what is best for her. Additionally, Bella knows that Edward would be better off without her. When he's with her, he constantly has to fight his urges. Sometimes it's almost impossible. Someone who really loved him, selflessly, would leave him or make him leave her for his own sake. Instead, Bella does what she wants to do, for her own sake, and stays with him.”2


Even if Belle was perceptive enough to analyze Edward’s obvious motives, it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference. After Edward told her that he was a “murderer” (the implication being that he had, in the past, killed humans for their blood), Belles response was a lack of concern. Both parties idolize each other making their world extremely narrow and small.

Set against the backdrop of dreary Forks Washington, the misty air and dark landscape seem to flirt with our desire to interact with the wild. The changing weather is contrasted with the deep measure of substance Belle finds in the midst of her tumultuous life. Her lust for Edward provides her with stability. She freely confesses to him her desire to become a vampire and live with him forever, even though she realizes the implication is losing her soul. Love at all costs is the message, and our generation has latched onto it. The only problem is, true love is not self-serving, but God honoring. This is the only love that offers stability and substance. The flame of romance is a thousand times stronger when it goes much deeper than looks and personality. When the heart of two individuals is sown together by the chords of ministry, the humility of character, and the desire to serve God, true passion emerges. Mystery and curiosity are not supporting features to a healthy relationship, but rather clarity and understanding. Substance is only found in Jesus Christ. If the premises of Twilight are accepted by the Church, we will not have to spread our message to the world, because they will have already given it to us.

For more information on Twilight from a Christian perspective, check out Albert Mohler (Southern Baptist Theological President) Radio, CCM magazine, Revelife, and CBN.


1. AlbertMohler.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2009. .

2. "The Twilight Worldview-My Perspective on Edward, Bella and the Movie/Book | revelife." Revelife | Christian Community for the Heart, Mind, and Soul. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.  


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A Follow Up
Emotional Pornography

This isn't meant to be another anti-Twilight posting, or a warning to those who enjoy the Twilight Saga, any more than it is an anti-romantic fantasy and pornography article. I've already done a great deal in voicing what I believe the dangerous inconsistencies are for those who enjoy Twilight yet also believe in Biblical Truth, however, I never thought of the point the article below makes until now. It's a brilliant observation, and yet so obvious! Please take a minute to read it. Let me know your thoughts. The church should really at the very least consider what it says.

Visionary Daughters

10/24/09

Refuting Skeptics Epistemologically

Luring the Indians out of the Woods
By: Jonathan Harris

Epistemology can be defined as the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity. Essentially, it is the philosophical theory of knowledge. How is it that we can make a claim to know certain things and not others? What is knowledge? How do we obtain knowledge? How do we know if our knowledge is true? What is truth? All these questions, have to do with epistemology. This is an important field of study for us as Christians, because we are met with challenges from skeptics within this realm all the time, sometimes without even noticing it. Before we develop a Christian epistemology, I’d like to start out by introducing you to the tenets of skeptical epistemology. This will provide a contrast that will enable us to have a great confidence in our faith as well as to learn how to rationally give good reasons for a Christian position while rejecting all others.

Skepticism

Today in our society, it seems like everyone is preconditioned with a certain degree of skepticism. Not all skepticism is necessarily anti-Christian, but as a philosophical system it is quite contrary to our religious faith. For instance, it is good to be skeptical about questionable truth claims made by individuals who possess ulterior motives. A good example would be the global warming phenomenon. When we examine those who are promoting cap and trade and the kyoto protocol, etc. it becomes clear that most of the faithful followers are also opposed to capitalism. Now, it doesn’t follow logically that those supporters necessarily are supporting carbon offset legislation “just” because they want to destroy capitalism, but it is wise to be skeptical about their motives and look into the matter further. So ripping down all forms of skepticism is not what I want to do. In fact, Paul commended the Bereans for searching the Scriptures to see if he himself was being accurate. That’s a healthy form of skepticism. But when it comes to knowing truth, and forming a philosophical foundation, skepticism is weak, but unfortunately very popular, and very hard to argue against for someone who hasn’t been introduced to philosophy yet.

Itinerant Skepticism


Let me give you an example of what a philosophy teacher who holds to skepticism might say to you the first day of class. The professor may ask, “How do you know what’s true.” A well-intentioned student will usually raise his hand and say, “I know what’s true because my senses tell me what’s true.” The professor might further inquire, “Why do your senses tell you what’s true?” The student may say, “Senses tell me what’s true because their designed to,” in which case the professor will incessantly ask, “Why?” Either at the point of this question, or else a few questions down the road, the student will quickly realize that he’s in a trap, and shamefully sit down upon the realization that the professor has the ability to keep asking the question, “why?” until the answers run out. This is a bullying technique used by skeptics to shake the faith of anyone who believes that they can know truth. Unfortunately, as you can see, the professor isn’t offering an alternative view on truth, he’s merely taking potshots at the student. The professor’s philosophical views are hidden, and therefore safe, while the student’s views are out in the open and under attack. The professor’s approach is called itinerant skepticism which is the idea the question, “What is truth?” will always yield an infinite regress if pursued. An easy way to counter someone who uses this argument is to put the burden of proof back on them. You could say, “Why should I answer your question.” If they don’t give you an answer to that, then you can say, “Well, until you give me an answer I’m not giving you one.” If they do answer your question, then you can say, “Why?” For example, if the student said, “We are designed,” and the professor said, “Why?” the student could say, “Why should I entertain your question.” The professor may say, “Because I want to know what truth is,” to which the student can respond by saying, “Why?” You see, the proponent of such an idea defeats his own criteria for knowing truth, by merely begging the question.

Extreme Skepticism

Extreme Skepticism maintains that logic is unattainable. In other words, we can’t know any category of truth. Truth may exist, but there’s no criteria by which to verify it. This position is a logical fallacy. You see, the statement “Truth cannot be known” requires a statement of truth. It’s self-refuting. If I said, “Every sentence in the English language has less than three words in it,” I would be refuting my very argument by my very argument. Saying that truth cannot be known means that you must know some truth. This is easy to see. When someone makes this statement simply reply, “Do you know that?” If they say know than they don’t believe their own statement, if they say yes than they don’t believe their own statement.

Soft Skepticism

Soft Skepticism is a position which says, “Truth can’t be known, but I’m not sure I know that.” They believe it is questionable as to whether the very statement they build their worldview on can be known by them. If you asked a soft skeptic whether he knew that truth can’t be known, he would say, “No,” but rather that he “thinks” he knows. If you ask him whether he knows that he thinks he knows, he would say that he thinks he thinks he knows. Pretty soon you would have an infinite regress. This means, the person isn’t even clear on what their position is. If he thinks he thinks he thinks that skepticism is true, then he doesn’t really have a belief. You can’t reasonably doubt anything unless you know something.

Global vs. Local Skeptics

A Global skeptic applies his skepticism across the board. He would say, “It is doubtful (or impossible) that we can know truth in any area.” Local skeptics on the other hand believe some areas contain knowable facts, while other areas are impossible to know. This view is predominant in academia. They believe that in the area of science and mathematics truth can be accounted for, however, in the area of ethics, philosophy, and religion nothing can be known. What they don’t realize is that every academic pursuit is connected with other academic pursuits. For instance, the evidence for Jesus Christ’s resurrection alone touches the fields of history, religion, philosophy, psychology, science, and mathematics. Many will ignore historical testimony and psychological evidence simply on the basis that Christ’s resurrection is a religious issue which can be true for some and not others.

Skeptical Arguments

There are two basic arguments that skeptics use. The first is called the possibility of error, and the second is called the problem of the criterion. A skeptic might ask, “Have your senses ever fooled you?” or, “Has your memory ever been wrong?” The obvious answer to such a question is yes. Our senses can fool us. Optical allusions and magician’s tricks fool us all the time. The skeptic will quickly assert, based on this testimony, that nothing therefore can be known. The problem with this first argument is that he uses our senses to disprove the reliability of our senses. Yet another self-refuting statement. He maintains that since we can examine something with our senses to find out that our senses were fooled, therefore we can never trust our senses. Unfortunately, the skeptic is trusting in his senses in order to make such a claim. The criterion argument is an attack on the criteria for knowing anything. It states that one cannot know truth without a criteria for such knowledge. In other words, there exists no standard by which truth can be measured. This is another statement that blows up on itself because there is no criteria for the claim that there are no criteria.

Theories of Knowledge

Methodism

Methodism (not the denomination) states that before I can know anything I have to have a criterion that answers the question how I know it. There are two things we need in order to claim any statement as being true. You have to know some criterion that tells you how you know something is true, and you also need something that indicates whether the thing which is true actually satisfies your criterion. So basically, you have to answer how you know something before you can know it. The problem with this view is- if I have to have some criterion for knowing something, I have to have a criterion for my criterion. This turns into an infinite regress invalidating the entire theory.

Skepticism

This view is addressed at length earlier in this piece, but for all practical purposes, it is the idea that we don’t know anything.

Particularism

Particularism is the idea that human beings start out as “knowers.” There are some things which are just self-evident. Natural law is a product of particularism. There are certain things we know without having to know how it is we know them. We accept the fact that we were programmed (in the Theistic view) with a conscience and a sense of certain truths. Self-awareness, mathematical knowledge, and moral knowledge all are examples of things human beings “know” apart from any of the five senses and are inherent within us. This is the view of Scripture. Those without the law being a “law unto themselves” as Romans states has this idea in mind. A Christian can take this model a step further and state, “Since we innately know certain things such as our being designed, it is logical to conclude that our senses are meant for their intended purposes.” Therefore our senses become tools by which to examine the world accurately because they had their origin in a Being of logic, rationality, and order.

Debating Skeptics

Skeptics and particularists are always debating about the burden of proof. The skeptic always wants to say, “Prove you know that!” While the particularist says, “Prove I can’t know it!” A skeptic may say, “Prove you went to work this morning.” The correct answer from the particularist would be, “I can’t prove to you one hundred percent that I went, but you cannot give me a good reason to think I didn’t. In fact, all the criterion indicates that I did go. Unless you can give me a good argument proving that either I have misread my criterion or that my criterion were wrong, why should I listen to you?” The skeptic may state, “Because I want to show you that you can’t know whether you went to work.” The particularist then can say, “Prove you want to show me whether or not I went to work.” Hopefully, such a statement will show the ludicrous nature of the skeptic’s proposal. The skeptic thinks that knowledge requires a level of absolute certainty, which is really the motivation for even asking the question in the first place. The particularist should focus on rebutting the skeptic, instead of refuting him in such cases. Refutation requires proving the other person wrong. Rebutting instead states that the opposing side hasn’t shown that they are right. So in regards to the example above, acknowledging the fact that there may exist good reasons for thinking you didn’t go to work (called an epistemological “if”), the skeptic hasn’t presented any of them.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line in this discussion is that every philosophical system has axioms which it uses to work off of. Not even skeptics drive their cars on the right side of the road because they believe they will get killed. In practical day to day life those claiming they can’t know seem sure to know an awful lot. Whenever dealing with someone who is a skeptic it’s important that we answer a fool according to his folly which means calling out his self refuting claims. We can have confidence that our Christian Faith is accurate.

10/20/09

Leviticus and the Goodness of God

Can God be Good and Promote "Bad" Things?
By: Jonathan Harris

Have you ever heard this before? “The God of the Old Testament was a tyrant!” or, “God didn’t demonstrate love until the coming of Christ.” Such phrases are common to hear especially among atheists and agnostics who use such statements as justifications for their own beliefs. If God is good, why did he require the death penalty for blasphemy, sexual deviance (homosexuality is the first mentioned usually), and cursing parents (Lev. 20 and 24)? In the same token, God seemed to put his stamp of approval on slavery (Lev. 27). After stating these facts, the skeptic is quick to argue that such a God should be resisted instead of served. In essence, they start evangelizing for their cause, encouraging Christians to join their moralistic ranks. While briefly looking at such passages it can be rather disturbing, especially when they are isolated from their historical and grammatical contexts. So how should a Christian deal with these passages, especially when evangelizing?

About a year ago I had verses from Leviticus thrown at me twice in the course of evangelizing, as if the person I was witnessing to would come to Christ if only it weren’t for such “blatant” contradictions in God’s character. My reaction was to try to answer as best I could in a brief manner the arguments being espoused, but to quickly get back to the main points of the Gospel so as to avoid a complete rabbit trail. One individual I talked to went online to the “Skeptic’s Bible” and showed me Leviticus 20:9 which states in KJV:

“And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.”

Seeming completely unjustifiable that God would first of all condone slavery, and secondly punish a slave girl because she was “raped” (as he put it) by an Israelite, I found myself in one of those “gotcha” moments. Fortunately, he showed me the verse, and when he did I was able to immediately look it up in other translations, none of which stated that the slave-girl was punished. For instance, the ESV states:

“If a man lies sexually with a woman who is a slave, assigned to another man and not yet ransomed or given her freedom, a distinction shall be made. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free.”

The passage goes on to state how the man is to make recompense. So where did the “They” come from in the second version? Well, plain and simply, the KJV in some places (rarely) will call upon mistranslated Gk. texts, and add additions made since the time of the original writing. This doesn’t mean the Bible has contradictions, it just means that the Bible is in Greek and it takes some work sometimes to go back to the original manuscripts to establish authorial intent. Since every single translation other than the KJV, agreed with the ESV’s approach, I simply explained that he wasn’t using the best translation. After this the young man was kind enough to allow me the privilege of sharing the Gospel with him. Below I have compiled an issue by issue answer key to those who will attempt to sidetrack a witnessing encounter because of an issue in Leviticus. Be aware that some of this material will have to be quickly condensed when you’re put on the spot, but it is necessary to as briefly as I can, explain as much as I can, in order for their to be complete understanding so that we can fulfill the mandate of 1st Pet. 3:15.

Slavery

This one’s a skeptic’s favorite topic to throw out there, especially in my experience, however there are so many misconceptions regarding the concept of slavery it can be hard to know where to begin. The atheist will say, “Christ lived among a nation of slaves, and never spoke against the practice,” or, “Paul commands Philemon to go back to his master.” Both statements are true, and it would be highly unwise for us as believers to try to somehow state that slavery is sinful or unbiblical. Instead, we should focus on what God’s intentions regarding slavery were, and how they weren’t remotely met in what we think of as American slavery. Let’s examine the misconceptions skeptics have when it comes to the practice of slavery. Firstly, there’s the mis-characterization in the skeptics mind of what American slavery was like. Being a grandson of the Southland it can be tempting for me to start giving a history lecture when someone starts talking about how great Lincoln was, and how evil the South was for wanting to own slaves because they believed in the Bible. If you’re at all like me, I would simply suggest ignoring this point altogether, especially on a witnessing encounter. It’s not immediately important and doesn’t pertain to the Gospel, at least directly. The second misconception a skeptic holds usually is regarding slavery in the ancient world and its historical context. I would highly suggest making this misconception the one on which to make your stand. You can do so by:

  1. Explaining that racism and slavery are two entirely different concepts. Most people immediately think about a Southern white male incessantly beating a poor helpless African American to near death whenever the word slavery is mentioned. Biblical slavery however, is not based on race, it is based on economic standing (see Ex. 21:2-6; Deut. 15:12-18). Hebrews would sell themselves into slavery for the purpose of obtaining livelihood (our equivalent of declaring bankruptcy). Also, criminals would become slaves as a way to pay for their crimes (our equivalent of community service). Therefore, it was voluntary.
  2. Stressing that “kidnaping” was not an option. Contrary to what New England’s “middle passage”slave ship captains did (or for that matter the tribes in Africa who were the actual ones to capture opposing tribes and sell them for rum on the coast), the Israelites were never to go out and capture slaves. In fact in Exodus 21:16, the death penalty was instituted for those who engaged in such practices.
  3. Emphasizing the limits placed on slavery. Most people think that slaves were routinely beaten to death, overworked, and treated as the scum of the earth. However, this was not the case in ancient Israel. Hebrew slaves were freed after six years (Ex. 21:2), All slaves were freed on the year of Jubilee ( Free slaves were released with a handsome payment (Deut. 15:12-15), slaves were given responsibilities such as having families (Ex. 21:3-4), runaway slaves from other cultures curious about Israel’s God were not to be returned (Deuteronomy 23:15-16), excessive punishment was forbidden (Ex. 21:26-27; Lev. 24:17), foreign slaves could become proselytes (Lev. 22:10-11), slaves could share inheritances (Prov. 17:2), slaves were to rest on the Sabbath, and female slaves were to be protected (Exodus 21:4-11).
You can conclude by saying that, “Slavery was part of an economic system just like socialism, communism, or capitalism. There are bad aspects to every economic system because people are sinful and refuse to do things the way God has told them to. Have you been disobedient to God?”

Another way to wrap up a discussion on slavery is to state, “I’m a slave of Christ, the Bible says you’re a slave to sin. The question is which master do you want?”

Either way, It’s important to get back on track, and sidestep such smokescreens, because that’s all they are, excuses.

Corporal Punishment for Backtalk?

I remember when the Dutchess Christian Fellowship held its viewing of Ben Stein’s “Expelled,” a skeptic afterward brought up Leviticus 20:9 which states:

“If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother, his bloodguiltiness is upon him.”

He quickly pointed out that God could not be moral if He called for such harsh treatment (I suppose he had never heard of damnation in hell for all sin?). Of course, this is a ludicrous statement, because without God there is no moral transcendent standard by which to judge anything. If morality is based in man or culture, than Adolph Hitler was a pretty good guy (a point Ben Stein made in his documentary). Either way such a passage sounds harsh to the ear of any modern American. I believe there are three points by which we can dismantle such confusion however, and get back on track.

  1. “Curses” is an action. What’s being described here is not something said in a moment of indiscretion or, “I curse you mom,” in a nonchalant way. It’s carries more than that. The Darby and YLT translations translate the Hebrew word to be “revileth.” The connotation is acting in a manner which opposes honoring father and mother (the 5th commandment). One commentator stated that physical abuse was the issue being raised here. Either way, this is more than repeating words, it is a heartfelt action.
  2. Children haven’t always been this way. Looking around our nation, it would be easy to say, “Every child would be dead if we followed this rule.” However, in ancient Israel, where there was more respect and discipline, children would have been aware of such a command and well behaved. The things children do today (screaming at the top of their lungs in Stop and Shop) wouldn’t have even happened fifty years ago let alone under a Theocracy.
  3. God’s standards are higher than ours. If something seems unfair to us, but fair to God, guess who’s standard wins? That’s right, Gods. He hates sin so much he will send us all to hell for any one of them if we do not repent and receive His Son’s precious gift. Have you received it?
Homosexuality

Leviticus 20:13 states: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”

Homosexuals love to cherry pick this verse and compare it to the Levitical prohibitions against mixed fabrics and non kosher foods. They’ll say, “Hey isn’t this in the same book that the laws against other ridiculous things are found?” This would be a great time to explain the difference between ethical, civil, and ceremonial laws. To the Christian, God’s moral (ethical) laws are to be followed, namely because they reveal God’s standard of righteousness, and we desire to please Him. They are repeated in the New Testament (yes, even prohibitions against homosexuality: see 1 Cor 6:9), and abundantly clear throughout the old. Because of the New Covenant we don’t have to obey civil and ceremonial laws since we are no longer under them. We no longer live under a Theocracy as the ancient Israelites did. Christ fulfilled the sacrificial system, and no longer reigns over Israel in the same manner that He use to in a Theocracy (though He will again someday). Today we are to remain separate from the world by the “renewing of our mind” (Rom. 12), not by wearing un-mixed fabrics. Ask the homosexual, has your mind been renewed? And get back on track with sharing the Gospel.

I hope this is useful for those who may have run into problems such as these while sharing their faith, or being attacked for being a Christian. It is my prayer that such issues will not deter you from your primary duty which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I realize there are a couple other issues Skeptics like to bring up from the Old Testament, namely the conquering of the Canaanites in Numbers, and Darwinian Evolution in Genesis, and I will try to deal with those as well in another post. For now, this will have to suffice as a defense of Leviticus. God Bless.

10/7/09

I Bring You...The "Back to School Guide"

If you are in a class, or thinking of going to a class which has neo-evolutionary thought, you need to take a look at this "guide" on what to, and what not to do.


http://www.evolutionnews.org/BacktoSchoolGuide_Sept2009_FN.pdf

9/25/09

Same-Sex Marriage: Libertarian vs. Evangelical

Yesterday, I was watching Katie Couric's interview with Glenn Beck from a couple days ago. While I thought Glenn did an excellent job during most of the interview, there was one brief moment which caused me to feel a bit troubled. Katie brought the topic of same-sex marriage up to illustrate that there was one issue in which both President Obama and Glenn Beck agreed. Initially I thought, “Oh good. Glenn agrees with the President that marriage should be between a man and a woman.” However that’s not what Glenn said. He said the issue of marriage should be left up to the states. I still thought to myself, “That’s not too bad. I could see an argument for that. I would disagree because of my interpretation of the constitution, but that’s ok.” Then Glenn proceeded to say something that kind of surprised me. He essentially stated that it wasn’t his business if “gays” got married. That didn’t sound like the Glenn I use to listen to the radio. I knew he had been shifting to a more libertarian mind-set, but I didn’t know it had gone that far. He even said that the government’s job was not to impose morality, yet he believes in national security and punishing murderers. Isn’t that a form of imposing morality? In Romans, Paul maintained that the governments responsibility is the protection of its people. If that is true, would that not include moral protections? Should prostitution be legalized by our states? What about narcotics? These are great questions to ask and debate, because they are important. They get at the root of what we believe government should be doing, and they also prepare us for when non-Christians ask our opinion on different subjects. While I find myself agreeing with libertarians on many issues because they are supported by Biblical principles, I find that when it comes to “social conservatism” I feel as if I’m speaking with an atheist. Without delving deeper into the many issues that encompass “social justice,” let’s examine one issue from a libertarian perspective, and then a Christian perspective. That issue is marriage.
Without boring you with all the details that you can find in other posts on this website on the subject (such as statistics, Scripture, etc.), let’s boil this issue down to the bear minimum. Libertarians approach marriage with this philosophy-

The government shouldn’t get involved. It’s an individual choice. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry.

Christians approach the issue like this-

Marriage was established by God. God says marriage is between a man and woman. Homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry.

In order to reconcile these two opposing views we would have to harmonize a Christian view on God and a Libertarian view on government, and what their relationships are. To be more precise in relation to this issue specifically, the question is, “Who gets to define marriage, God or government?” “And if it’s God, then does the government have to abide by God’s rule?” To answer the first question, from a Christian perspective- “God.” “Why?” Because he instituted the concept of marriage from the beginning. Marriage is His creation, not governments. Therefore to say that two homosexuals (or 3 or 4...) can get married is utterly irrational. When someone says, “Homosexuals can get married if they want,” it’s like saying, “Men can nurse babies if they want.” Both are impossible because God has set up natural law to work according to His design. In other words, “Gay Marriage” is an oxymoron. Now, what about the second question? Is the government required to second God’s motion so to speak? Well, let’s examine what happens if the government opposes God’s mandates. If the Department of Education (yes I know it’s unconstitutional, calm down!) said that it was ok for children to learn that gravity would pull them up if they jumped off a tall building, would that be in accordance with God’s natural design? Of course not. Would it be wrong scientifically? Yes! Would is cause ethical harm? Yes! A teacher who professes that should be charged with manslaughter (if his/her advise is taken). A parallel to this is already in existence. I was taught at public college that being sexually promiscuous is accepted, and that’s its more healthy to be homosexual than heterosexual. If this advise is followed it will lead to harm (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually). But if the government’s job, according to Romans, is to protect its people, then how is it doing its job by willfully placing a stamp of approval on the actions of those who wander outside of God’s moral boundaries? So the answer to the second question is “Yes,” government does have a responsibility to recognize God’s rules. Inalienable rights are arguably the flip side of Biblical mandates. “Though Shalt Not Kill” translates into the inalienable right “Life.” “Liberty” and “Happiness” go right along with the other commandments that restrict mankind’s relationship with himself. If universal truths are replaced by falsehoods, we have dethroned God and put man in His place, which is where we are heading even deeper. When it comes to moral issues, Humanism and Libertarianism are twin sisters.

9/16/09

The Necessary-Sufficient Factor: Combating an Atheist Fallacy

By: Jonathan Harris

Last semester the Christian Fellowship held an event at Dutchess Community College promoting Ben Stein’s latest documentary, “Expelled-No Intelligence Allowed.” The point of the viewing was to inspire discussions between committed Darwinists and Theists whether they were part of the student body or faculty on campus. Of course an even bigger objective was to gain a hearing for the Gospel within this discussion as a Christian world-view was presented. During the post-film open-forum styled discussion, one of the staunch Darwinists who was present (and being extremely rude with his comments throughout the whole entire film I might add), decided to attack a particular point made in the film, that point being the Darwin-Hitler relationship. For those who haven’t seen the film, Ben Stein makes a connection between Darwin and Hitler, as do the experts he interviews. It is pointed out that Hitler thought he was progressing evolution through the mass murder of several million Jews. They were inferior, or so he thought, therefore society would evolve better without their presence. In Hitler’s mind, he was doing the world a favor. Anyway, this particular gentlemen had a problem with this depiction of Darwinism. He stated that, “Christians during the inquisition and crusades did their evil deeds in the name of religion, whereas Hitler did what he did in spite of his belief in Darwinism.” In other words, Darwin didn’t inspire Hitler to kill Jews, therefore the whole connection Ben Stein forwarded was without merit. Of course, there was much emotion associated with his response as he proceeded to blame Christians for the world's ills. Besides the fact that his whole manner of argument was bait and switch (i.e. making a statement and then switching the subject to another attack before reconciling the first issue), there was an even bigger problem with his logic, and the logic of many atheists. It is called the Necessary-Sufficient factor. Let me give a brief illustration:

Statement:

“In order to be in New York, you must be in the United States.”

It follows logically therefore that:

“If you’re not in the United States, you’re not in New York.”

However, it would be wrong to say,

“If your not in New York, you’re not in the United States.”

The logical term for the above fallacy is, “false contrapositive.” It confuses what’s necessary, and what’s sufficient in the relationship. It is necessary to be in the United States in order to be in New York, and it is sufficient to be in New York in order to claim that you’re in the United States, however, it’s wrong to say that it’s necessary to be in New York to be in the United States. Why? Because you could be in another state and still be in the U.S.. It doesn’t have to be New York. Akin to this simple example is the relationship between Darwin and Hitler:

Statement (made by Ben Stein):

"Since he believed evolution, Hitler thought his actions were justified"

We could also say:

"Hitler would not have thought his actions were justified, if he did not believe in evolution"

However, we couldn’t say:

"If he didn't believe in evolution, Hitler would not have thought his actions justified."

Why? Because, evolution was a sufficient reason for Hitler to kill, but not a necessary one. There may have been other reasons for Hitler to kill people, but evolution was a sufficient justification he employed. Not everyone who believes in evolution, will be a mass murderer. The Atheist loves to take a sufficient statement and make it necessary, or a necessary statement and make it sufficient. Let me give you another example:

Christian: “I do good things, because it pleases Christ.”
Atheist: “You don’t have to be a Christian to do good works, Atheists do them too.”

What the Atheist says may be true, but he confused the Christian’s statement that it is “sufficient” to be a Christian in order to do good works with what is “necessary to be a Christian...etc.”

Be on the lookout for little tricks like this. Professors and “skeptical” students will use them all the time.

7/8/09

The Politically Incorrect Guide to "Intifadah"

By: Jonathan Harris

The word intifadah literally means, “shaking off” and refers specifically to, “an uprising by Palestinian Arabs (in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) against Israel in the late 1980s and again in 2000.”(The Free Dictionary) The first intifadah began in 1987 as a result of violent outbreaks and misinformation. From December 6th to 9th, unrest progressively broke out in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, starting with the murder of an Israeli in Gaza who was merely shopping. The next day, four residents of the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza were killed in a car accident. However, rumors started that Israelis had killed the four “Palestinians.” On December 9th, a Palestinian boy was killed by an Israeli solder, after the boy had attacked an army patrol with a Molotov cocktail (a glass bottle containing fuel with a source of ignition). As a result of this incident, mass rioting broke out in Jabalya. “Between December 9, 1987, and the signing of the Oslo accords (September 13, 1993), 160 Israelis were killed, including 100 civilians. Thousands more were injured.” (Al-Hamishmar) In fact, the rioting reached such radical proportions, that Palestinians started fighting among themselves as well. Initially, most of the Palestinian casualties were the result of clashes with Israeli forces, but that quickly changed as the chaos worsened. From 1990 to 1992, more Palestinians were killed by fellow Palestinians than Palestinians killed by Israelis. (Near East Report) The PLO itself tried to call an ending to the violence precisely for this reason. The NY Times reported in 1991 that, “When many Palestinians heard a knock at the door late at night they were relieved to find an Israeli soldier rather than a masked Palestinian standing outside.” Starting on December 13th of 1993, the violence fizzled out to lower levels when the Declaration of Principles was signed between the Palestinian and Israeli authorities. The goal of the Declaration were, “To establish a Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority. . . for the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. . .” In return, the PLO formerly renounced terrorism during the Oslo accords that same year.

Violence broke out again however in 2000 during the second intifada. While there has been much misinformation claiming that prime minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the temple mount sparked violence, the Mitchell Report has stated, “The Sharon visit did not cause the ‘Al-Aksa Intifada.’” The day before Sharon’s visit, “an Israeli soldier was killed at the Netzarim Junction. The next day in the West Bank. . . a Palestinian police officer. . . opened fire and killed his Israeli counterpart.” (Bard) On September 29th, the Palestinian Authority closed schools and organized riots at the Temple Mount. On the 30th, during Rosh Hashanah, thousands of Arabs began throwing rocks at Jews busy praying. The violence spread to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “In October 2000, Palestinian mobs destroyed a Jewish shrine in Nablus – Joseph’s Tomb – tearing up and burning Jewish prayer books. They stoned worshipers at the Western Wall, and attacked Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem with firebombs and automatic weapons.” (Bard) During the span of the second Intifada, more than twice the amount of Israeli citizens died as ration to Israeli soldiers according to the IDF. Despite Sharon’s efforts to stop the fighting, Arafat would not make any concessions. Edward Walker, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for
Near East Affairs, stated in 2001 that, ““In contrast [to Ariel Sharon's concrete steps to ease the economic hardship of the Palestinians] we've seen absolutely no response from Arafat to our urgings to him to now bring the violence to a stop. . . he has called for the continuation of the intifada” (Jerusalem Post)

The intifadahs have done nothing but cause harm to both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Former Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen even stated, “I think now that the intifada in its entirety was a mistake and it should not have continued....”(Jordan) The international community has been losing patience over Palestine’s violence, and the credibility of the PO is all but destroyed. The Gaza Strip and West Bank, both have demonstrated their failure at self-government, and it remains to be seen what the next step will be.

The Truth About the "6-Day" and "Yom Kippur" Wars

. . . And What Both Tell Us About The Arab/Israeli Conflict
By: Jonathan Harris

To say that the “1967” and the “Yom Kippur” events were two separate wars, can be misleading. In reality, both cases were two battles in the same war. The same players (Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) and motivations were present in both.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lybia, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Lebanon, and Jordan all participated in conjunction with the traditional Arab forces during the Yom Kippur “War,” the majority of them committing troops. Clearly, something other than geographical location, and economic benefit was motivating the Arab world to make war. Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal nailed this point when he stated in the November 17th in 1972 edition of the Beirut Daily Star that, “All countries should wage war against the Zionists, who are there to destroy all human organizations and to destroy civilization and the work which good people are trying to do.” The cause of both wars ultimately was anti-Semitism. King Hussein of Jordan expressed this anti-Israeli unity when he announced in May of 1967 that, “The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel...to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations.” (Leibler:60) Earlier in 1964, Nassar of Egypt expressed a congruent belief when he stated, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents.” (Harkabi:27) Popular myth indicates that the Arabs were merely trying to “liberate” the Palestinians. From the way in which they speak however, even using the term “wipe of the map,” as Nassar said, it should be clear that something much larger than “liberation” was at play.

It should come as no surprise that both wars were defensive on the part of Israel. There is no dispute that Israel was not the aggressor when in 1973. The 1967 war, though preemptive, was also defensive. Nassar’s quote above took place merely six days before Israel attacked Egypt, during which time “Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel.” (Herzog:149) Israel’s only option was to strike first, utilizing the element of surprise, or become annihilated by the overwhelming superior forces.
Another interesting comparison has to do with the United Nations. It is interesting to look back on both conflicts and realize that the UN seemed to throw its support to the Arabs.When Nassar ordered the UN Security Force which had been stationed in the Sinai Peninsula since 1956 to withdraw, they completely followed his order, even though the General Assembly was never called. In addition, the Egyptian blockade of the Straits of Tiran was in direct violation of the “Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone” which was adopted by the UN in 1958. Why did the United Nations allow Egypt to break International law without voicing opposition? The only opposition came when Israel started to prevail. In the same way, the Yom Kippur War revealed a greater timidness. It wasn’t until the day that Israel was in a position to wipe out Egypt’s army that the UN called for a cease-fire. Thus, when Israel was losing, the UN did nothing.

The 1967 War saw a three-fold expansion in Israel’s size, and then a subsequent reduction when it was time for treaties to be signed. Clearly, Israel was willing to trade land for peace when it, “returned all of the Sinai to Egypt, territory claimed by Jordan was returned to the Hashemite Kingdom, and nearly all of the Gaza Strip and more than 40 percent of the West Bank was given to the Palestinians to establish the Palestinian Authority.” (Bard) Unfortunately, this did not settle the problem, because the same nations attacked Israel again in 1973. Similarly, Israel “gave up the passes and oil fields it had won from Egypt in 1973, in return for Egypt’s good word that war was not the answer.” (Goldschimidt :356)

A Brief Background to the Arab/Israeli Conflict

By: Jonathan Harris

Naturally, the beginning of tension between the Syrians (“Palestinians”) and Israelis dates back to ancient times, however the modern conflict can best be examined in a concise way by starting at the first Zionist congress in Basel in 1897. The conference was the result of a culmination of decades of awareness regarding Jewish persecution. Among the goals of the Zionists was the promotion the colonization of Palestine by Jewish farmers and industrial workers. The subsequent immigration (hastened by the Balfour Declaration) to Palestine from Jews in Europe is often attributed as the “problem” that kicked off the Arab-Israeli conflict. While this is partially true, in the sense that there was an orchestrated plan to return more Jews back to Israel, this reading of history is somewhat backwards. In truth, it was Islamic anti-Semitism and British apathy that caused most of the tension. Although the Arab standard of living increased between the World Wars as a result of Jewish development, little gratitude was extended. Such terrorists as Haj Amin el-Husseini organized fedayeen riots to intimidate Jewish settlers, and curtail Jewish immigration. His tactics worked. In 1920, Husseini started a riot in Jerusalem against the Jews, to which the British reaction was withdrawing its police force. Jewish shops were looted and destroyed. After Husseini’s arrest, he was subsequently pardoned by the British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel and appointed to the position of “Grand Mufti.” The Arab riots of 1921 and 1929 inspired the Passfield White Paper which blamed the Jews for their “immigration, land purchase, and settlement policies.” (Halpern: 201) Subsequently, the British placed even more restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases. Even though over 90% of the land allotted to Jewish immigrants from 1880 to 1947 was purchased by the Jews themselves, and even though the restricted Jewish immigration dwarfed the unrestricted Arab immigration between 1915 and 1922, Muslims aggressively promoted the idea that Israel was “stealing their land.” In April of 1936, the Syrian commander of the Arab Liberation Army, Fawzi al-Qawukji, conducted a violent campaign against the Jews, killing and wounding over 300 people. In response, the British conducted the Peel Commission. The commission’s conclusion was that the food shortage (which was the supposed outbreak) was “due less to the amount of land acquired by Jews than to the increase in the Arab population.” (Palestine Royal Commission Report: 242) To solve the growing rift, plans such as the “The White Paper” in 1939 were issued for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state. The Arabs of course rejected any plan which also set up a Jewish state (even though the Arab minority living in Jewish areas was offered representation in the government).



The next development came in 1942 with the creation of the “Biltmore Program,” sponsored by American Zionists who openly demanded a Jewish state in Palestine. The Jewish resistance began to mount, culminating in the bombing of the King David Hotel (to destroy the documents) where the British Criminal Investigation was stationed. The anti-British (not anti-Arab) bombing was in retaliation for the seizure of secret documents from the Jewish Agency and the arrest of 2,500 Jews across Palestine. Though the Hotel was called multiple times by Irgun as an evacuation warning, the threat was not taken seriously and 91 people were killed, 15 Jews among them. The Arabs quickly added this incident to their repertoire of Israeli atrocities.

In 1947 the Palestinian Partition Plan was adopted by the United Nations, forming the nation of Israel in the areas dominated by Jews. Britain subsequently withdrew, and multiple Arab nations attacked the new country. Of course, Israel miraculously defeated Her enemies, expanded her border, and fights still today for Her survival among the Middle Eastern Islamic nations.

Zionism: Imperialist Tyrrany or Reasonable Settlement?

By: Jonathan Harris

Zionism is the term used to describe those who believe that the Jewish people possess a special right to claim specifically Israel as their national homeland. Although there have been plans proposed to create Jewish states in other parts of the world, such as Theodor Herzl’s Uganda proposal, such plans have been temporary (and unsuccessful) measures meant to be means to an end, that end being the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. Modern Zionists base their claim to Israel on four major premises:

1. The Jewish people settled and developed Israel. Before the time of major Jewish immigration (even though there were still many Jews who traced their lineage back to ancient times living in Palestine) Palestine was an arid third-world part of the planet for all intensive purposes. In 1867, on a trip in Palestine, Mark Twain observed, “...[a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds-a silent mournful expanse....” (Twain) It wasn’t until Jewish immigration that the economic situation started to turn around. Sherif Hussein noted that, “The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants.” (Katz: 128) The native Palestinians left this depressed area, but the non-native Jews fled to it.

2. The international community recognized the Jewish claim to Israel. The United Nations is responsible for the partitioning of Palestine as a Jewish State. The originator of international support was Great Britain which in 1917 released the Balfour Declaration, recognizing the “historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine.”

3. Jewish land gains resulted from defensive wars. Whether it’s the War of 1948, The Six Day War, or War of Attrition, etc., Israel has always been provoked into a defensive position which simultaneously resulted in expanded borders (even though the international community has convinced Israel to give up much of its holdings for “peace.”)

4. Abraham’s seed was promised Israel by God. To take religion out of the equation would be a catastrophic mistake when referring to Arab-Israeli relations. The Jewish nation is the oldest surviving people group to possess a historically verifiable claim to inhabiting Palestine, and it was Jehovah who gave them their claim.

Zionism’s roots date back to the mid-late 1800s. A German socialist, Moses Hess, wrote Rome and Jerusalem in 1862 advocating Jewish socialism in the land of Israel. Leon Pinksker authored Auto-Emancipation in 1882 as a statement regarding the persecution of Jews in Russia. Pinksker’s solution to both the Czarist and international persecution was a Jewish state in Palestine. His book prompted an activist movement that started in Russia and spread. Zionist groups started forming, and the first aliya took place. The first international Zionist Congress, prompted by Theodor Herzl’s book Der Judenstaat (1896) took place in 1897. During the conference, the goals of Zionism were established. Throughout the rest of history, up to the official formation of Israel, persecutions in mainly European nations sent Jewish settlers to Palestine, joining their kindred natives, and reestablishing themselves. It may surprise some that at first, intellectual Arabs were welcoming to Zionist goals. During the First Arab Congress held in Paris in June 1913, the President of the Congress, Abd-ul-Hamid Yahrawi, stated that, “All of us, both Muslims and Christians, have the best of feelings toward the Jews. . . and we regard them as Syrians who were forced to leave the country at one time but whose hearts always beat together with ours.” (Cohen: 97) Yahrawi went on to highlight the benefits of Jewish immigration to Palestine. Therefore, it can be states that there were in fact Arab Zionists!
Zionism inspired settlement, development, and democracy in the Middle East. Contrary to popular belief, the Zionists were not concerned with driving the Syrian (Palestinians) out. Chaim Weizmann’s commissions to Palestine and Syria in 1918 and 1921 (and all subsequent efforts) were designed to foster a mutual understanding between the Arabs and Jews. Unfortunately, though the efforts seemed successful at first, Arab nations quickly opposed the plan.

6/30/09

Misconceptions Regarding Israel

Israel is important to evangelicals, because we know that Israel has a unique status. The Jewish people are God's chosen people. The next question someone unfamiliar with the Bible will probably ask is, "chosen for what?" The answer is: Chosen to be a light to the nations of the earth. Israel was to be God's witness to other people groups, testifying to God's plan of salvation through faith. Unfortunately, this was an unfulfilled command, and God delegated this responsibility to the church (which includes both Jews and Gentiles) but that doesn't mean that God still doesn't have a plan for His people. Prophecy is clear. Israel will receive the Messiah in totality at a later point in human history, and will testify to God's redemption plan through Jesus Christ. The new heaven's city is called "New Jerusalem." I could go on, but these points represent the basic understanding evangelicals have concerning the status of Israel. Of course, in our day and age, Israel, as a nation, is under attack; both from Islamic fundamentalists, and Liberals. Foreign policy is important when referring to Israeli relations. How does the U.S. view Israel? The Bible says that those who "bless" Israel shall be blessed, and those who curse Israel, shall be cursed. For the most part, we have blessed Israel by supporting them. But will we continue this trend? Misinformation is rampant concerning the history of the Jewish state. It's frightening, concerning, and important to set the record straight at every opportunity. I know, because I just took a course entitled "History of the Middle East." I thought I'd be getting something objective. I was wrong. Both of my coursebooks were extremely bias. Israel was lied about, while the "Palestinians" as they are called, were the heroes of the day. Many in the course were affected by this presentation, and took anti-Israel stands as a result. I was a voice of opposition, but only one voice. We need more to stand up for historical accuracy, Biblical integrity, and the nation of Israel. I have committed myself to posting some of the papers I wrote for my course (over the next week), so that everyone can glean from my personal research on the subject of Israel, and whether it has a right to exist. In closing, I urge you to be in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem, as Psalm 122:6 urges. Thank You.

-Jonathan Harris

6/15/09

Is Homosexuality Innate?

-Jonathan Harris

Ever heard someone say, "Homosexuals were born that way!?" Such a person usually goes on to say that same-sex marriage is a civil right, and that anyone who opposes their "marriages" is one and the same with a Klan member during the 1960s. Their whole thesis is based upon one thing: That homosexuality is innate. Well, new research says that's not the case. Even though it should be obvious that homosexuality isn't innate -- I mean, I've met former homosexuals, but I've never met a former black person for example. Despite the obvious "duh" liberals should notice, scientific proof is now also available. I encourage everyone to check out what the APA is now saying.

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=528376

6/13/09

Same-Sex Marriage DOES Affect Society

Results That Go Beyond Statistics
by: Jonathan Harris

I was appalled. A prom turned into a "love-fest" for transgenders, cross-dressers, and homosexuals? (Click here to find out what's happening in Massachusetts) I can't think of a passage that fits the situation in Boston better than Romans 1:22-32. The advocates of same-sex marriage have claimed, for quite some time, that legalizing the practice would have no effect on society and those who believe in "traditional marriage;" it would merely give rights such as "hospital visitation rights" to same-sex couples. They are clearly WRONG. The state of Massachusetts has slid farther than I thought was possible in such a short time. Middle School children claiming to be transgender lovers? Where are they getting this at such a young age, if not from the schools sponsoring such aberrant practices. The bigger issue here is that the state is mandating how a child should be raised, and not the parents. It is clear that when the state puts its stamp of approval on sin, the child believes it to be so. God help our society, and bless the states that have stood for traditional marriage.

The face of the 21st century is rearing its ugly head...

6/10/09

What Bill O'Reilly Taught Me

Passionate Civility
By: Jonathan Harris

After watching a clip tonight of Bill O'Reilly exchanging heated words with some liberal guy (frankly I don't remember his name) defending a position quite contrary to Bill's, I realized something-- Bill and his guests have an interesting habit. Of course, I've seen this sort of behavior many times before, but tonight I really grasped something new.

Two, can have a spirited debate, while at the same time remaining civil.

This struck me as significant. I mean, think about it. O'Reilly is the highest rated show on cable news, and yet he exhibits what is thought to be one of the most undesirable qualities in the extreme. He's controversial! Some, who have redefined the word, would also assert that his show is rather "offensive." Offensive or not, it's interesting that after a debate ends, both parties generally share a laugh, shake hands, and crack a couple smiles, as if they shared peanut butter sandwiches in their kindergarten years or something. It's obvious that both O'Reilly and (pick any of them) virtually all his liberal guests are very "intolerant" (by the modern definition) of each other's positions; yet they can still remain civil on a personal level. While I am not in favor of the "harsh answers" or shouting fits, there's something beneficial there. Namely: We don't have to agree to get along. As a Christian, who has heard numerous times of my intolerance precisely for my lack of consensus on a certain topic, it's good to see that a large part of the culture (O'Reilly viewers) understand that agreement and friendship can be on two separate plains. This is something many Christian's need to learn as well. (Yes, I'm referring to all those who get bent out of shape every time someone disagrees with you on speaking in tongues, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, or eschatology.) This is one talking point, Christians can factor into their lives. Thanks Bill.


6/9/09

Let's Get Practical: Gay Marriage

It’s one thing to form an opinion on a controversial subject, it’s another thing to come to that opinion through hours of study and rational debate, and it’s quite another to actually do something about your convictions. This third element seems to be the hardest component, yet it is the most important. It is through confrontation with people and positions that individuals change their minds, and hearts are ultimately won.

I had the opportunity today to attend a “Stand For Marriage” rally sponsored by New Yorker’s For Constitutional Freedom in Albany. A “gay” marriage proposal bill had already passed the NY State Assembly, and was on its way to another branch of the unicameral legislature, the NY State Senate. Traditionally controlled by Republicans, the senate fell to democrats in the 2008 election. Since governor Patterson has declared his support for the measure, it appeared that the bill stood a reasonable chance of being enacted into law. Of course yesterday, in a surprising move, the Senate was turned back over to Republican control, after an astonishing coalition of thirty Republicans and two pro-family Democrats (forming a majority). Despite this glimmer of hope, some of those formerly against same-sex marriage in the senate, proclaimed that they were on the “sidelines,” or refrained to comment when asked about their stance. Two of those in these categories were Republicans. If the “gay” marriage bill was to come up for a vote, the tally would still be awfully close, which was part of the reason I was in Albany today.

Starting at around 10:30 AM we met at the capital steps. A couple thousand were in attendance. We then listened as various pro-family speakers, such as Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, and a number of representatives and pastors, fired the crowed up. Of course, showing our support in large numbers is great, but actually “DOING” something in support of the noble position we were heralding was far more important. At around 12:30 a small group of us (there were various small groups all around the capital praying and meeting with senators), visited various offices to give senator’s staff literature, as well as to pray on their behalf. Many seemed astonished that we wanted to pray for them right there, but the majority seemed grateful after the “Amen,” thanking us for our visit. All in all, it was a success. We took an actual STAND for what was right, as opposed to merely talking about it with those of like-mind. My hope is that you can find the courage to do the same. Find out what organizations stand for Biblical principles in your area by contacting the American Family Association.
-Jonathan Harris

6/7/09

Making the Case For Life

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky, recently delivered an excellent interview with Scott Klusendorf, author of "The Case for Life." Klusendorf's goal in writing this book was to take philosophical arguments validating the legitimate innate intrinsic value of embryonic life, and put them in accessible layman's terms. I highly recommend taking a listen to this important interview. It will honestly greatly enhance your ability to intellectually defend a pro-life position.

Audio Interview: Making the Case For Life

Klusendorf's website

-Jonathan Harris

5/13/09

Let’s Get Practical!

Host an Apologetics Event!
-Jonathan Harris

This is the commencement of our new monthly, “Let’s Get Practical” section. In this portion of our blog you will find ideas, helpful hints, and proven methods, of promoting Biblical and Conservative ideas in your environment. Whether it’s talking to friends, confronting professors, or just living your day to day life, this segment will reinforce what being an assertive Christian in a secular world can look like.

This month, I want to talk to you about what I believe is an effective way to reach the “skeptics,” “atheists,” and “secularists” who inhabit your college campus. Though many initial mistakes were made, the first time I ever hosted an event at my college to further a Christian worldview, was back in 2007. I entitled it “Answering Christianity.” (See anything unusual so far? Yeah me too, I’m not sure why I called it Answering Christianity? I should have called it “Christian Answers Forum”, or “Answering the Skeptics of Christianity,” or something other than what it was called!) Anyway, this event was sponsored through a group I was apart of called Campus Christian Fellowship. We rented a lecture hall, got some speakers (two pastors and a biologist), and lugged out our literature material to distribute. For a couple weeks I, and members of my campus organization walked around campus posting fliers and promoting our event. When it came time for the day of the forum we had about 30 people. Many stayed and talked afterward, and many asked for more information about Christianity. It was great to have an event in which the Gospel was declared, and skeptics could see that Christians weren’t the “idiots” professors had made us out to be. The event was held again a year later, and probably will continue to be held on the campus of Dutchess Community College for years to come. Below is a video of our first time doing it! I encourage all Christians on secular campuses to figure out ways that they can spread Christian beliefs for the promotion of critical thinking, and most of all, the furtherance of the Gospel.

5/11/09

What is Marriage?

Discovering a Definition from the “Bottom-Up.”
By: Jonathan Harris

Geometrical Definitions

While in my second year of highschool, I was exposed to a subdivision of arithmetic known as geometry. To my adolescent horror, I would be responsible for constructing various “proofs” based upon postulates, on a daily basis . For those who don’t know, postulates are statements assumed to be true derived from definitions. While I considered the work to be tedious, grueling, and nothing short of slave labor, I later understood the value in my hours of study. I had discovered that behind every mathematical formula existed a postulate(s), and behind every postulate stood a definition(s). A few years later in physics lab, during my first full semester of college, I experienced first-hand verification for the mathematical formulas I had discovered in geometry. I realized that although definitions were technically “unproven,” they were legitimately true because they corresponded to reality. Natural law had set the guidelines for definitions, and to avoid confusion, etymology had given us the terms used to designate them. For instance, in the English language, the term “ line,” can be defined as the “shortest distance between two points.” Based on this definition, it is reasonable to postulate that two lines can intersect at only one point. The building blocks of the most complex mathematical formulas are therefore derived from reasonable assumptions considered to be “self-evident.”

Self-Evident Truths

It is with this basic understanding of natural law, that Thomas Jefferson affirmed the concept of “inalienable rights” in our Declaration of Independence. Of course, natural revelation is only one aspect of God’s disclosure to mankind. There’s also what Theologians call “special revelation” in the form of the Bible. Utilizing both Divine sources, it is without question, possible to systematically set the parameters for an authentic definition of marriage.

For the last decade, conservatives have parroted the “majority” argument in favor of traditional marriage. This “top-down” approach is essentially “upside-down” in regards to the proper way in which to deduce a conclusion about anything. Unfortunately, as a result, most conservatives haven’t been exposed to a basic “bottom-up”reasoning system for holding to heterosexual marriage. A bottom up approach starts with premises, just as a mathematical definition starts with presuppositions about the natural world (that it’s orderly, etc.).

Premise 1- The Universe is Designed. (Natural Revelation)

A System of Mechanisms

Every system in the material word fulfills a basic function. Most functions are simple to realize. The water cycle, photosynthesis, and even tiny bacterial flagellum, demonstrate that something or someone’s intentions are being carried out on a daily basis. When it comes to human beings, it is obvious that reproduction is the result of a sexual practice in which two individuals of opposite genders mate. Inside this reproduction mechanism, is a pleasurable natural incentive. Sexually parallel differentiated organs are part of the blueprint every male and female are born with. Intuition dictates that these specialized organs, natural incentives, and resultant byproducts are the result of a correctly functioning mechanism intended to produce offspring. Once progeny are born, they come into the world in a rather “feeble” state. There exists no natural arrangement by which babies can care for themselves. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the development of sexual organs within human beings occurs within specific time parameters; starting at the commencement of the period in which he or she will be fully capable of caring for offspring. Natural law has also dictated a basic arrangement in which offspring are to be cared for.

Observing the System

In Walt Larimore’s, MD book “His Brain, Her Brain: How Divinely Designed Differences Can Strengthen Your Marriage,” a case is made that men and women have a mutually beneficial relationship based upon the difference granted them by nature. In, “The Differences Between Men's and Women's Brains,” Whitney Hopler summarizes some of the key points made by Dr. Walt.

“Male and female brains are dramatically different anatomically, chemically, hormonally, and physiologically. Those differences cause fundamentally different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving.”

Such differences include the fact that, “Men are wired to provide financially for their families, while women are wired to provide the emotional security of a peaceful home.” When speaking about the differences between male and female brains, Hopler writes:

“The male brain is highly systemized, with a high ability to compartmentalize, a low ability to multitask, a high ability to control emotions, a low relational orientation, a high project orientation, a high ability to “zone out,” a tendency to act first and think later when faced with stress, an aggressive response to risk, and a tendency to compete with other males. The female brain is highly empathetic, with a low ability to compartmentalize, a high ability to multitask, a low ability to control emotions, a relational orientation, a low project orientation, a low ability to “zone out,” a tendency to think and feel before acting in response to stress, a cautious response to risk, and a tendency to cooperate with other females.”

These differences have a profound impact on communication, sexual activity, and nearly every aspect associated with a relationship between two humans of the opposite gender. Dr. Larimore’s conclusion is that natural differences, when coupled with humility, serve to strengthen relationships.

Biological science has verified many of these observed natural differences. In the sub-field of biochemistry it has been established that women produce the hormone oxytocin during labor and lactation. It was discovered that both men and women also secrete this hormone during sex, relaxation, massage, touch, warmth, and light pressure on all parts of the body. This particular hormone drives the "tend and befriend" emotions under stress mediating maternal behavior, facilitating bonding, and actually allows adult pair bonding. This is thought to increase the survival of the individual and her offspring. Men, on the other hand, due to a different set of hormones, react to stress with the emotions associated with the more aggressive “fight or flight” mentality. Testosterone is also known to negate the effects of oxytocin. A study done using prairie Voles (a monogamous rodent) showed that oxytocin also reinforces monogamy The presence of this hormone is one of the reasons women tend to be monogamous. This is also just one example of how biologically, women are hardwired for the care of offspring.

In the book “Why Marriage Matters,” Glenn T Stanton examines research by the APP concerning children in non-traditional environments. Stanton states:

“We find that when children grow up any time without their biological mother or father, that they face serious declines in a whole host of important well-being measures. Kids who grow up with both biological parents tend to do better in every important measure of well-being.”

It ought not to seem “unnatural” that since the beginning of recorded history, the “family” unit has existed, and ensured the survival of proceeding generations. Nature has mandated the function of producing offspring solely to heterosexuals; in addition, creation has revealed a preference for monogamous heterosexuals in the function of nurturing offspring.

Pat Buchanan unapologetically declared this verifiable premise on the April 16th edition of MSNBC’s Hardball.

Chris Matthews: “. . . don’t we have cases where there’s civil decisions about marriage that depart from church doctrine?”
Pat Buchanan: “I’m not talking about church doctrine, I’m talking about natural law Chris. The law of human nature, which is designed by God. . .you can redefine it and say what it is, but that’s playing ‘let’s pretend’. . .A relationship between a man and a woman for the procreation of children is natural.”

Premise 2- The God of the Bible is Its Designer. (Special Revelation)

Biblical Authority

The Bible has proven itself authentic in every area in which a test can be performed. Historically, scientifically, prophetically, textually, and applicably, the Bible has stood the test of time, meeting every qualification required to satisfy the status of “truth.” Hundreds of fulfilled prophesies, scientific truths proclaimed thousands of years before science discovered them, and martyrs who went to their deaths refusing to deny the miraculous, are just the drop in the bucket of mounting evidence for Biblical authority. However, it is not because of evidence that the Bible is true; rather, evidence exists because the Bible is true. Assuming that the Bible is true, let us examine what the God of the universe says about the institution of marriage.

Marriage and the Bible

Quoting from Genesis, the Apostle Matthew records Jesus Himself explaining the institution of marriage.

“And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh’? ‘Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’” - Matthew 19:4-6

The union of man and woman is therefore an institution which God himself sanctions. Therefore, no governmental or religious institution can change God’s decree; all they can do is either recognize or repudiated what is already established. It should be obvious that the union which took place between the first man and woman was a universal blueprint for a all of mankind. Neither Adam, nor Eve had parents, however it was from their juncture that God declared:

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” - Gen. 2:24

The previous verses indicate the “cause” for which marriage is established.

“And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place. And the Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. And the man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." - Genesis 2:20-23

Women are therefore “suitable” helpers. But what “help” was woman supposed to assist man in accomplishing?

And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." - Genesis 1:28

One of the very first commands in Scripture (sometimes referred to as the “Adamic Dispensation”) requires a heterosexual relationship. The command to produce children, and rule over creation, is still in effect today. This command to be fertile goes beyond merely the production of children. It also encompasses training them.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephes. 6:1-4

The survival and success of offspring depends very much on the parent’s example and instruction. Another important purpose for marriage can be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. - Ephes. 5:22-31

Many modern critics of the Bible tend to focus in on, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands,” forgetting to read the passage in context. Paul is postulating a parallel comparison to be made between the relationship between Christ and the Church, and between husbands and wives. Even the non-Christian marriage demonstrates a picture of the love Christ has for His church, when he loves his wife.


“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”- Hebrews 13:4

We can see from this passage that God holds marriage in a place of “honor.” It is a sanctioned institution for the purpose of procreation, conservation of creation, and a picture of the relationship Christ has with His church.

(Since the purpose of this article is to define what marriage is, and not to examine homosexual practices, we will not go into any of the natural or biblical consequences or punishments reserved for a sexually deviant lifestyle.)

Conclusion: It’s What He Said!

Based upon these premises, it can clearly be seen that there exits an institution arranged by nature and sanctioned by God, for the intention of producing and raising children, being good stewards of the earth, and mirroring the relationship that Christ has with His church. This institution has, throughout the human experience, been designated by different names. In English, the name is “marriage.” The1828 edition of Webster’s dictionary, describes marriage as:

“a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

This universally accepted term for marriage, has only met challenges in recent times. The current edition of Webster’s Dictionary describes marriage as:

“(1): the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2): the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage

The adjustment for same-sex relationships aside, what basis is being cited as having the authority to define what marriage is? In the 1828 edition, God set the terms. In the current edition, man sets the terms by means of “law.” Of course, if the two premises described in this article are true, then a horrible error has occurred. Man has replaced God as the authority.

To me, definitions are important. Without them we couldn’t communicate. The Pythagorean Theorem would be impossible to prove if there was no consensus on what a line truly was. If one person said a line was a curve in between two points, and another said it was the shortest distance between two points, very different outcomes would become prominent when it came time to apply these definitions. Applying this concept to marriage, Alan Keyes brilliantly stated in a 2004 debate with Barack Obama

“If you are saying that that’s (referring to same-sex unions) a marriage, you are saying that marriage can exist in principle apart from procreation. You have changed its definition in such a way as in fact to destroy the necessity for the institution, since the only reason it has existed in human societies and civilizations was to regulate from a social point of view, the obligations and responsibilities attendant upon procreation.”

No matter how human beings try to twist words around, the universal facts will always remain – both lines, and marriages, are straight institutions. Changing the definition of the word, won’t change the self-evident law of nature, or that of nature’s God. We can, as a people, either affirm what is true, or stick our heads in the sand in rebellion.
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