No More Excuses

Looting.  Rioting.  Arson.  Assault with Intent to Kill a Peace Officer.

These and many other things are occurring nightly in Ferguson, Missouri.  I understand the desire for justice and how the reluctance of police to release everything they know as they know it can feed into our imagination’s need to fill-in-the-blanks with our own prejudices.

18 year old man, 6’4″, 300 lbs, lies dead in the street of multiple gun shot wounds.  A police officer admits pulling the trigger and claims it was in self-defense.  It just happens that the dead man is black and the police officer is white.  A thorough crime scene investigation is conducted at the scene of the shooting and then the rumors begin (thanks to another 18 year old man who happened to be at the scene – more on him in a minute).

The white cop had it out for the black guy.  Racism! 

He executed him!

And that’s how the ball got rolling.  Our imaginations are powerful things.  When we don’t know the full story, we can imagine many plausible instances to fill-in-the-blanks of what we don’t know.  This is how conspiracy theories begin. 

I will admit that I understand the desire for justice. I want justice in every instance.

If the officer did in fact act wrongly – either by escalating a normal confrontation unnecessarily or by acting in malice, then he deserves to face a judge and jury.  However, if the officer acted correctly in defense of his life against a larger, aggressive man bull-rushing him after fighting him moments earlier, then his use of lethal force to end a threat to his life is fully justified under the color of law.   You see, more facts have come out since the initial few days that further complicate this situation for the deceased. 

He was walking home after roughing up a shop clerk of a local convenience store after stealing a box of Swisher Sweets (thin cigars used to conceal marijuana and allow it to be smoked in public as “blunts” with plausible deniability).  What began as shoplifting turned into robbery when he was confronted and physically assaulted the shop clerk.  He then began walking home in the middle of the street, evidence of his crime in hand, with his accomplice (the aforementioned man above).  They were acting in a manner that obstructed traffic and in a manner that could cause a traffic accident that would harm someone else or themselves by walking down the middle of the street. 

While the officer involved had not yet heard of the robbery moments before, these two individuals had no way of knowing that.  The deceased likely believed that he was about to be arrested for his crime.  As a thoughtful person, consider that the deceased may have decided in that moment to resist arrest thinking himself larger and stronger and able to do to the smaller officer what he had down to the shop clerk moments before.  That mindset could have been the primary cause of everything that then occurred culminating in the gunshots fired that ended the incident.

The situation has been used by race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to further highlight their purported platforms and to keep themselves relevant in the eyes of the nation.  The situation has been exacerbated by the national news media through endless reporting, speculation, and glamorization of violent acts through their broadcasts of such to the world.  The situation has been used by anarchists, criminals, and looters in order to provide cover for their actions within Ferguson.  Buildings have been burned to the ground.  People have been shot.  The police have suffered repeated assaults via bottles, rocks, molotov cocktails, and many other forms of abuse. 

And the politicians, legal authorities, and law enforcement officers in charge have excused this behavior by saying that there are rifts in the community that have been exposed by this situation.

What?  Let me explain.

I am not going to render judgment on the officer or the deceased actions and neither should anyone without all of the facts, yet the calls for justice have been used as an excuse for illegal, harmful behavior and that has highlighted the bigger problem that has been exposed in this instance.

What is white guilt?  White guilt is the faulty belief that white people, regardless of their economic circumstances, have more privileges due to their skin color.  This belief, paired with the equally race-based belief that black people have less privileges and are subject to greater fear, scrutiny, and suspicion in every instance when compared with someone with a paler skin tone, have led many to pardon the behavior of the protestors and rioters in Ferguson.  Those beliefs though are far more insidious than that.  These beliefs permeate the very fabric of society from race-preferential college selection, scholarships, government employment applications, and general societal attitudes toward African-Americans. 

Are we so racist to believe that blacks cannot pull themselves up on their own?  Are they inferior to whites or other skin tones because they happen to be a darker shade?  Are we doing African-Americans any favors by saying that they only have to be 75% as good as whites in order to get a job or get into college?  Are we promoting cultural evolution or are we segmenting that portion of the population and giving them an excuse to not improve by rewarding below-average behavior? 

Were Italians given an excuse for mafia behavior in the early 20th century?  They had just emigrated from Italy due to the Italian Civil War. 

Were the Irish given an excuse for their drunkenness and brawling after having fled Ireland due to a terrible famine and centuries of British occupation?

I could go on and on asking the same question of every race, creed, and color of people that has come to the shores of America.  Chinese?  Japanese?  Arabs?  Vietnamese?   Every type of person regardless of color, nationality, or religion has faced discrimination in these United States.  We are not perfect, but we always are seeking to improve in order to forge a more perfect union.  Until the press for affirmative action and the lowering of standards for blacks, the impetus to strive for better was there for that entire community, but in an effort to socially engineer full integration due to the falsehood that is white guilt our society has told the entire black community that they are not good enough or smart enough to “make it” without our help. 

I will say it again – because of a perceived advantage by whites over blacks within our society, whites have had pity on blacks and lowered the standards that are expected of everyone else in order for this class of people because it’s supposedly impossible for them to do anything with their lives without a subsidized advantage.

That is racist and it must stop right this very minute or we will never kill and bury racism within our society.

The excuses that white America makes enables the behaviors that led to the rioting in Ferguson and it generates a standard below that which the average American is expected to meet. 

Until we encourage a truly level playing field where all are equally expected to behave there will be no justice because the black community will not clean itself up.  Without an incentive to do better, why should they?

It worked pretty damn well for the Irish-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Greek-Americans, Hungarian-Americans, Polish-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Lebanese-Americans, Syrian-Americans, Korean-Americans, and Cuban-Americans.  Every group faces prejudice and setbacks, but rose to the challenge presented by this country to contribute greatly and become part of the whole because our standards for them were not lowered.  It is time to do the same and it should start in Ferguson.

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Symptom

I recently got into a long conversation with someone regarding a stance that I published on this blog.

The conversation was enlightening for me in one way, and not in the way that the other participant anticipated.  They were hoping to either trap me in a rhetorical loop or get me to recant my position by being unable to defend it aside from the Bible.  I refused to play that game as there is only One Truth and why should I deny it in order to win a rhetorical argument?

That entire episode and my reflections on it have encouraged me to write a little further on the topic of sin.  In that conversation, we were focused on the political hot-button topic of gay marriage.  Gay marriage as a topic of conversation is merely a symptom of an all-consuming sickness that this world is suffering from – sin.

Sin is not a fun thing to talk about.  Sin is an infection that we are all born with.  Whether you want it or not, sin is there.  It is rooted in man’s fall from our created state and has been the root cause of every moment of heartbreak, malice, vice, and destruction in our collective history.

The fundamental truth that we need to recognize in order to fully understand grace and mercy is that we are fully incapable of correcting the infection of sin.  It is insidious and amazingly survivable.

There are many avenues that people take in trying to cope with their infected state.

Some deny it and live as if they are perfectly normal.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

Some try to equate or rhetorically minimize their sin by either pointing out the sin in someone else’s life as worse than their own, or by using someone else’s sin as an excuse for their own shortcomings.  The problem is that sin is sin.  Small or big – the blackness on your soul from sin is impossible for God not to see.

Your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.

Isaiah 59:2

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
    you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.

Habakkuk 1:13

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Matthew 7:3

Or perhaps the sinner disagrees with the correctness of the translation or of the validity of the scriptures themselves – disagreeing that their sin is not prohibited based on language, societal, or cultural differences.

For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1:21

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

2 Timothy 3:16

Others will just, with full knowledge of their state of sin, refuse to change, or believe themselves as being honest about their sin state by flaunting it rather than abrogating themselves of it.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13

So what will it be?  Own up to your sin?  Refuse to assist your brother in committing a sin that may cause him future pain as he goes through the agony of the infection that sin truly is?

Just as I should avoid sin in my own life and invite Christ and the Spirit to purge me of those fleshly desires, should I not also do everything in my power to help my brother to do the same even if they are still horribly infected with sin?  Is it not my responsibility to teach, rebuke, correct, and train up in righteousness as Paul instructed Timothy and as I cited above?

So, to those that would say that I or anyone else firmly planting our feet and saying that we will not concede an inch to the infection of sin as being bigots, or old-fashioned, or bible-thumping?  How dare I!

How dare I stand with the Law?

How dare I be willing to stand with Christ and overturn the money tables with Him?

How dare I look at the woman at the well and love her, but tell her to stop sinning?

How dare I speak the Truth?

Is it love if you give in to sin and allow it to continue unimpeded in this world?

Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Romans 14:22

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

Romans 6

 

 

 

Boys and Girls

With the recent decision by the Pentagon to allow women to be placed in front line combat units, I have been chewing on what I wanted to write regarding it for weeks now.

First, let me state that I firmly believe that women are just as capable as men of defending their lives in the face of danger.  Thank you Samuel Colt, John Browning, and the many other pioneers of modern firearm design for bridging the strength and mass gap through applied science and ingenuity.

Second, let me state that I firmly believe that the idea of placing women in front line combat units will be met with disaster.  Disaster in the combat unit integrity, mobility, combat effectiveness, casualty rates, and cohesiveness because women are not as fast or strong as men in nearly every case.  Disaster in readiness as women have been proven to break down faster under the stresses of forward deployment than men and require many times more the number of medical evacuations from the battlefield from noncombat injuries and medical conditions. Disaster culturally as the protected status of women will be forced to change to accommodate this politically-motivated maneuver.

Paula Bolyard did a great job digging into this issue.  I recommend reading her article Raising Boys Who Grow Up to Be Men Who Go to Combat With Women.

 

Coexistence

Can light coexist with dark?

Can nonviolent men coexist with violent men?

Can truth coexist with falsehood?

Can good coexist with evil?

In every case, the answer is no.  One side must cave in as these polar opposites can not coexist, just as oil and water can never be blended together.  For a long time, the falsehood of this bumper sticker has been like a thorn in my side.  I have known how malicious this is to the Truth, yet I have not said a thing.  How dare I not stand up for the Truth when it is under such a profound attack?  I am ashamed that I did not do so at first, but I am done sitting back and watching the world come apart at the seams.

Is it truly possible for the following religions to coexist as the bumper sticker proclaims?  Islam’s Star and Crescent, Judaism’s Star of David, Wicca’s Pentacle, Taoism Yin and Yang, and Christianity’s Cross are all present.  Is it truly possible for any of those religions to come together under a banner of peace?  The only two that have done so are Judaism and Christianity due to their shared history and value system.

Can Islam which has the shahada, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, ever reconcile with any of the others?  The shahada states “There is no god but god, Muhammad is the messenger of god.”

Can Judaism with it’s core tenets ever accept Islam or any other religion except that which is prophesied with the coming of the Messiah?

Can Christianity coexist with any other religion when Christ Himself states “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)?

Moreover, even the peaceful religion of Taoism cannot coexist with Islam, Christianity or Judaism, all of which are monotheistic.  Taoism is multitheistic, which means that it believes in a number of gods both major and minor.

So the bumper sticker’s advocated mindset is one of willful disregard for all of these religions. It advocates that they all drop central tenets of their religions in order to “coexist.”

The writer of this blog did a decent breakdown of the tensions inherent in this idea of “coexistence.”

Let’s break it down. We’ll call each worldview by the letter it’s supposed to represent. So:

  • C = Islam
  • O = Pacifism
  • E = “Gender equality” (=the LGBT agenda)
  • X = Judaism
  • I = Wicca / Pagan / Bah’ai
  • S =Taoism / Confucianism
  • T = Christianity

And let’s assume a very broad definition of “coexist”: living together without calling for the destruction of each other. Here are the problems with that:

  • C wants to kill E, X, T, and (by implication) O. If they achieved the world they wanted, I and S would also no longer exist.
  • O doesn’t allow for effective resistance or defeat of C.
  • E stands in direct opposition to C, X, and T, and accuses those who speak against them of hate speech. Also, they’re trying to edge X and T out of public schools in favor of their own agenda. (They’re afraid C will be offended, so they get less trouble.) E is actually very, very intolerant.
  • X’s existence is threatened not only by C but also by O, who invariably supports C over X.
  • I and S are statistically insignificant and are mainly on there to complete the bumper sticker.
  • T is who the bumper sticker is really arguing against, but poses no physical threat to any of the others.

Historically, T has brought about more tolerance- “coexistence” if you will- than any other movement. But the kind of “coexistence” the people who make this sticker envision is one where at least X and T are completely marginalized.

These tensions will not just go away with some wishful thinking.  These belief systems are fundamentally at odds with each other and to pretend otherwise is a falsehood and despicable in terms of actually finding true peace.

As Christians, what are we to do?  How can we coexist in a world that is completely at odds with us?  Do we lay down and tell the world that we’ll go along to get along or do we refuse to compromise?

Do not conform to the pattern of this world

Romans 12:2

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Romans 12:9

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it so perfectly when he wrote a letter, much like the Apostle Paul, from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Do you want to coexist with the world or do you want to exist as God Himself intended, unblemished and purified by the blood of Christ?

You cannot do both.

 

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