“The U.S. Customs may search your laptop and copy your hard drive when you cross the border, according to their policy. They may do this even if they have no particularized suspicion of wrongdoing on your part.” (via No Warrant Necessary to Seize Your Laptop | Freedom to Tinker.)
I’m linking to this particular article for only one reason. I’ve considered writing about this for a little while now, but this quote was the catalyst:
bq. Scenes like this make me proud to be American.
Popular sentiment, this one. And I suppose that’s ok. America is, after all, a nation known for its freedoms and liberties. It’s the very reason this country was established, so that people could worship there God/gods (or not) however they see fit, so that people could be free to live their lives however they want – within certain limitations, of course.
I’ll be honest, though. This sort of thing does not make me proud. It does, in fact, make me feel physically nauseated. As a Christian, I do have a moral problem with homosexuality. I do think that homosexuals have the right to live their lives how they want, even to marry, if they wish. That’s part of what this nation is about, after all. But I’ve stated my opinions on the moral and legal nature of this issue before, so this is nothing new coming from me. Morally, I object, but legally I think they have the right.
Physically, though, the thought of two men having sex, even just kissing, makes my stomach clench, makes me feel like vomiting. Even were I to come to a place where I believed that homosexuality was an ok thing on a moral level (never gonna happen), I would still have this physical reaction to the idea.
It makes me wonder. All these people who are pro-gay, who say they are so proud to be an American when they see things like this, in particular the ones who are very heterosexual, do they feel any sort of physical reaction when they think about it? Or do they simply not think about it enough to allow such reactions to rise up? Would they look at their _lack_ of reaction and say that it is a good thing, that it is a sign of progress, of… evolution toward a better, more welcoming world for all? I don’t know because I’ve never seen anyone address this side of this topic.
I’m just grossed out by the thought. It’s part of what adds fodder to my belief that homosexuality is _not_, in fact, natural or normal, that is really just a perversion of the human nature, of the way things are supposed to be. And holding it up under even the evolutionary microscope (which I also believe to be complete bunk), it still doesn’t make sense because it threatens the preservation of the species.
But people want their personal freedoms, but more importantly people don’t like to be told they’re wrong, let alone have to fight against their ‘natural’ ((Read: sinful)) urges. Rather, they embrace them and tout them as the next best thing, the next logical step in the evolution of mankind.
Whatever. I just know that I think it’s wrong, and the gay pride movement is one of the last things I would ever hold up to show my pride in being American.
Take it for what it’s worth.
Sometimes, finding consistency and balance in various aspects of my personal worldview isn’t easy. For instance, I believe that homosexuality is wrong, that it is sin, and that it should be avoided and abstained from by even the most blatant of homosexual-leaning individuals. Yet, I believe in the freedoms espoused by our country’s laws and ideals, and as such I believe that it is allowable for homosexuals to live their lives as they see fit, so long as they do not, in the process, attempt to steal or destroy the rights of those not like them.
I also believe that it is a waste of time and resources, not to mention a detriment to the testimony of Christians everywhere, to pursue a course of legal action that will bar homosexuals from gaining the rights to marry and tap into those resources reserved for married heterosexual couples. I am not convinced that this is the proper (or most effective) approach to ministering God’s love to the homosexual community since legal action generally only fosters anger and resentment against God’s people (a resentment that, admittedly, the Christian community has brought upon itself).
These questions, then, beget still other questions – where do we draw the line, or should the line even be drawn? For instance, if we allow homosexuals to marry and gain benefits that are reserved for married couples, per the freedoms of this nation in which we live, do we then also allow them to adopt children (since homosexuals are biologically unable to produce children on their own)? If we acknowledge that homosexuality is wrong, that it is sinful, are we then justified in allowing them to raise children, particularly since we have already established a precedent of allowances in permitting marriage and benefits rights?
Add to this another value – I believe that allowing the government to dictate and regulate every part ((Or simply too many parts)) of our lives is a very bad thing, as it restricts so many of the very freedoms we hold dear. Should the government even be involved in this process, should it take a special interest here by disallowing certain freedoms because one group ((i.e. Christians, in this case)) has fears and concerns? My primary concern in allowing homosexuals to adopt is not necessarily that these children will grow to themselves become homosexual, since at least part of homosexual leanings can be attributed to biology and physiology ((Though certainly not all, since there is a definite link between homosexuality and disillusionment with the opposite gender or a need for an absence parental figure)), or that they will be psychologically handicapped or confused as a result of being raised by same-sex parents, since it can be argued that many children coming out of abusive, heterosexual homes are also extremely screwed up.
My concern is that children coming out of homosexual homes will already be conditioned to view homosexuality as every bit as acceptable as heterosexuality. I don’t have a problem with them being tolerant of homosexuals having relationships and getting married ((Again, I believe homosexuals have that right in this country)), but I wonder if they will ever come to recognize that homosexuality is actually wrong. How will children raised in such homes handle the tension should they come to accept Christ as their Savior and learn what the Bible has to say about homosexuality? Suddenly, they are faced with the knowledge that homosexuality is sin and the conflict that their parents are living in sin.
I suppose, though, that this would likely be not much different than those children faced with a parent who has had an affair, who is abusive, who has divorced, who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or any of a dozen other vices. Maybe the problems would be no more severe; they would just be problems of a different nature, problems that the Christian community would have to adapt to in order to face head-on, to face with the power to heal. Homosexuals who are allowed to adopt would give children with no homes a place to live, albeit one that might be less than ideal. ((But doesn’t that happen everyday already?))
I’m still not sure that I endorse homosexual adoption. It’s a process that I am still working through in my own head, and I am very open to feedback and opinions from others on this issue. Where does the line between personal freedom and the welfare of the majority fall? My own concerns in allowing homosexuals to adopt is for the welfare of the children involved. Unfortunately, this is still such a new issue that there is very little long-term research available to describe what the effects of such practices might be. In the meantime, I do urge Christians to be patient and compassionate, because as we have seen in so many other places, becoming angry and hateful and spiteful does absolutely nothing to help the situation. The world is changing around us almost faster than we can keep up, but the pre-eminence of Christ is still able to effect healing and change on a powerful, widespread scale that should be humbling to us all. We should remember that and tap into before considering any actions that might prove harmful to the cause of Christ.
There is a tension inherent in holding the belief that morals are absolute but in recognizing that one cannot force once’s value system on everyone else. Specifically, I hold to the notion that moral standards are absolute — they do not change over time. The same moral standards that were right and good yesterday are still right and good today. At the same time, I also believe that there is room, within reason, for personal freedom for one to choose what morals they believe are right and good and to live by them. That is part of what America and democracy are about, allowing people to live as they will. I live by the ideal that people should live by what is right and good and be held accountible to that standard. Yet, I am stuck with the reality that not everyone agrees on what is right and good, and so the definitions of such are going to vary from person to person. It is also not within my right to make anyone accept or embrace my own beliefs. I can possibly persuade others that I am right, and then teach them to live by the system that I embrace, but I can only do so after they are convinced that it is the right way to live.
I would say that morals are both subjective and objective — subjective insofar as nearly everyone will have, at the least, subtly different notions of what is right and good and just, objective insofar as I believe that there is one, and only one, code of morals that is actually right and true. Some people believe that the standard for morality can only be found within oneself, that one can only discover their personal value system by working it out for themselves, since there is no other true and stable source for such truth. Other people believe in God (or a god or gods) as the source for the standard of morality, looking beyond the fluid system of their own mind and heart to something they consider to be stable and much more permanent and unchanging. For the religious this is not so difficult to believe, but for the non-religious and the atheist, this is a difficult pill to swallow. One must first be convinced of the existence of a God before one can believe that He could serve as the standard for morality.
Morality only becomes out-of-date because men themselves change, and when men, who serve as their own moral standards, change so then must their moral systems. We have seen many such changes over the past couple of hundred years since this nation’s founding, a greater acceptance of a wider range of behavior. This has, in many cases, been a good thing, but in others it has been a very bad thing. Where such changes have been good, in my observation, are in those places where the conservative (read, ‘legalistic’) right has relinquished their militant hold on beliefs that are actually very judgmental and hateful and, for the religious, have no basis in Scripture. Where such changes have been bad are in those areas where the liberal left has been more ‘tolerant’ of traditionally deviant behaviors that have, in so many cases, caused so much heartache. But such behavior has been allowed to exist, within legal limits, in the name of freedom and permitting people to build, or destroy, their lives as they see fit.
Of course for me, this creates a tension. I hold to this standard of morality that has been defined by the God I serve, a standard that, when lived by as described in Scripture, provides nothing but joy and peace and healthy living. I want others to know this standard, to live by it, and experience the joy of a lifestyle that shuns self-destructive behaviors, that gives respect to all men, and that embraces only those things that are good and right. Some Christians wish the same, but in such a way as to become forceful and offensive in trying to make other people believe as they do. When they are rebuffed again and again, frustration naturally crops up, leading to anger and bitterness and hatred. These Christians forget, in their anger, that they are called to reject these feelings; instead, they allow themselves to be controlled by them. Much damage is done in the name of Christ, as a result, further adding to my own tension (and I am not alone in this, I am sure), as I work to persuade others of my own viewpoint while working both against destructive Christians and antagonistic unbelievers. (There are also still a great many of the aforementioned legalistic Christians who, while I share some of their beliefs, carry many hateful rules and regulations that I believe are very unbiblical. More tension.)
Tension is part of life, part of the nature of the human condition, part of what it means to be a community of people who live together in relative peace but who sometimes hold very different beliefs. It is only for me to share my beliefs with others in a way that is bold and confident, yet respectful and peaceful. If I can convince others that God exists and that His way of doing things really is best, then glory be given to Him. If I cannot then I can do nothing more than continue to boldly proclaim the tried-and-true beliefs that serve as the guiding light in my life.
bq. I guess IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m really just that uncomfortable around guns.
I think this demonstrates the difference between being raised around guns and not. Having been raised with guns in my home, I have a healthy respect for such weapons. I know the kind of damage they can do, and so careless handling of a gun would be the furthest thing from my mind. And when I can watch most of my high school peers handle guns safely, fellows who most people might think are on the somewhat lower end of the gene-pool, then I think just about anyone could handle one safely. Just because criminals, who are habitually careless with firearms, abuse their use does not mean that the rest of us should be denied our rights to possess and carry if we so choose. It’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater to ban firearms for everyone. If you’re not comfortable with them, don’t use them. But don’t tell those of us who _can_ handle guns safely that we can’t exercise our rights to carry and hunt and protect ourselves.
Christianity is a faith, I believe, that functions in the background. Or at least it should. The Christian faith is a personal one. It functions as the relationship of individual to Deity, but it is also a function of individual to individual. The most effective dissemination of the Gospel has always been on a one-to-one basis. Granted, God has blessed many great evangelists over the years with widespread ministries, leading hundreds and thousands to Christ at a time. But I think the numbers would show that the greatest spread of the Word has been through personal relationships with each other, with letting the Christian lifestyle speak volumes, with communicating our hope in casual conversation. When Christians take the Gospel to the public arena, particularly the political arena, the message somehow gets tainted and stilted. In that realm emotions like fear flavor the good news in a way that is often harmful because political-religious concerns involve protecting the right to worship. That fear drives that political action, and what starts as a movement to protect freedom of worship almost turns into a blanket action to forcefully establish a state religion, something that the founding fathers were very careful to protect against. (Of course, there are also those who use their beliefs to foster an attitude of superiority, who allow that attitude to breed anger, hatred, and bitterness, but those are the individuals that need to be separated from the whole because they clearly do not aid the Body. They are the cancer that brings the Body down and should removed.)
Christianity is a faith that operates best in the background. Our faith should be visible, but not obnoxiously so. Our faith should be presented with love and compassion but also with patience and understanding, two virtues that I think are all too often forgotten or ignored. No one can be forced to believe in Christ or in God, yet the practice of our faith should be compelling and awe-inspiring. This is why it is so important to develop active relationships with other people — with other Christians for the strengthening of our faith and the renewal of our spirits, and with unbelievers so that we may demonstrate with our lives and testify with our lips the power of the hope that is in us. Let us relate our hope to others and build the Kingdom one life at a time.
I’ve had quite a bit of discussion with a number of individuals over this issue in recent months, and as a result I’ve had to think quite bit about the Christian stance on the legalization of gay
marriage. I’ve heard it said that the government has the right and the duty to make homosexuality illegal, which would also effectively take care of the issue of gay marriage. But as I’ve come to think about it more and more, I have to disagree.
The United States represents freedom. It was founded with the basis of providing a land where its citizens could practice their own beliefs without fear of persecution. To that end, I believe that homosexuals have the right to practice their lifestyle, even though such a lifestyle is clearly defined as sin in the Bible. Furthermore, the principles of the Bible only apply to those who are followers of Jehovah God; they have absolutely no bearing on unbelievers, and we cannot expect unbelievers to behave like believers. Therefore, we as Christians have no right to force our beliefs on others through legal means.
I’ve heard it said by many, “Your rights end where mine begin.” I’ve come to see this statement as being very reasonable. Ultimately, homosexuality affects only the people involved in the
lifestyle (though this is not, of course, strictly true, considering the emotional and psychological effects this can have on close friends and family). Whether Joe and Jake are in a relationship does not affect me, nor does their decision to get married. It doesn’t affect my ability to have a heterosexual relationship or my ability to get married, start a family, have a job, get medical benefits, etc. I may disagree with their choice of lifestyle, but given that they are not Christians, I cannot expect them to live like Christians.
Tim Wilkins states that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality — it is righteousness. Ergo, the way to change homosexuals is not to force heterosexuality on them via legal means but to win them to Christ, Who then has the power to show them their sin and to change their lives. I, for one, agree and see this idea as further support for the notion that we as Christians have no business making
homosexuality or gay marriage illegal. The logical end of this is that, if we are going to make homosexuality and gay marriage illegal in this country, then we also need to outlaw every other sin (thereby destroying the very freedoms this nation represents). The problem with this notion should be obvious — it would be taking us back to the days of the Old Testament and the Law, forcing Pharisaical lifestyles, and effectively negating the work of Christ.
I do think that there are ways for Christians to be involved and effective in politics, but I think we need to choose our legal battles a little more wisely. Certain issues should be overlooked,
whereas others should have more attention paid to them.
I’ve also posted this on my forum, which is actually where the topic originated. I would much prefer you to leave your thoughts on my forum (though I’ve re-enabled comments here) in order to keep the thread of discussion together. I definitely hope to hear from some you on this topic, as I know it is currently a very touchy one in our culture right now.
Here’s another definition:
|fundamentalism [fəndəmentəlɪzəm, fəndəmenəlɪzəm]|
|the interpretation of every word in the sacred texts as literal truth|
I mentioned in my previous post how the word ‘evangelical’ gets thrown around by the general populace as something of a curse word (and again, here, based on the definition above, I would consider myself a fundamentalist). I was reminded today that the word ‘fundamentalist’ gets the same treatment. (See this thread and this quote — “ Yeah, the parallels between recent fundamentalist Christian pushes for legislation on private matters on behalf of society and hisba are reasonable to draw…” — for examples.)
There are two reasons, I think, why this is the case. The first is that we, as Christians, continually face the scorn of the world for our “close-minded” and unbending beliefs. Christ told us that we would be hated and persecuted by the world for our beliefs, and I think that, to some extent, we are seeing that in daily life. However, I don’t want to focus on this reason, primarily because there is nothing we can do about it except face it with grace, patience, and
compassion, sharing our beliefs with all who will listen. Rather, I want to focus on a second reason why the word ‘fundamental’ has become such a bitter taste in the mouths of our peers.
It seems to me that both the words ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamental’ carry as much political significance as they do religious. To a point I think there is a place for this, but by the same token, I think we also have to ask ourselves how political we should be. What I mean is this — I have watched Christians and politicians alike push for legislation that essentially forces our religious beliefs on the nation at large, and I have come to believe that maybe that’s not such
a good thing. For example, take the Terry Schiavo case. I’m all for the preservation of and the right to life. What troubles me is this recent move by the Congress to subvert the judicial system by making a law that is specific to Terry alone (at least as I understand it). As much as I would love to see Terry’s family win this case, I’m not convinced that this kind of special treatment is helpful, especially when other significant issues are being ignored. And what I’m hearing from certain corners is that this is yet another move by ‘fundamentalist Christians’ to exert their will upon the public, and the tone is one of anger, hatred, and bitterness. This does not help us to share the Gospel.
I’m not saying, though, that Christians should not be involved in politics. Quite the contrary, actually. I believe that Christians should be very active in politics, but that we should choose
our involvements wisely. One place that I personally refuse to back down is on the subject of abortion. I truly believe that abortion of all forms should be illegal because of the number of human lives lost each and every year. I know that in taking this stance, I am labelled cynically as ‘evangelical’ and ‘fundamentalist’, but it’s a ‘burden’ I’m willing to bear and carry because I believe it is truly right and good. (Frankly, I see it as more of an ethical issue than religious one.) There are some places, though, that I must part ways with others of like faith because I believe theirs is an abuse of the system.
There is a statement that I have heard come up in many political/religious discussions regarding personal and civil rights. The statement goes something like this: “Your rights end where mine begin.” Now, just because this statement orginated from an unbeliever does not necessarily mean that it is incorrect. It’s something that I have taken with a grain of salt, but the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to agree with it. (At the very least, I’ve yet to think of a single exception to that rule.) Here’s my rationale: The United States was founded upon the rights of every man to worship God as he sees fit (even if it means not worshipping God at all). To that end, our laws have been established in such a way as to give every man free reign within reasonable limits) to do so. When one religious movement or another attempts to insert legislation to force certain religious beliefs on everyone else, that threatens those rights inherent to the foundation of this great nation. This is why I think sometimes churches and Christians are wrong to push for particular bills and laws. It seems to me that fundamental
Christianity should be involved in politics only to the point of preserving the basic civil rights upon which this country was founded. Leave the role of winning souls to Christ to the church,
to evangelism, to individual encounters with real, live people. We aren’t going to win the Kingdom through politics. We can only do that by showing personal compassion and love to those around us.
I realize that post these posts may seem a little bit radical, and I welcome discussion on them. Please feel free to post comments here, but I have also posted them at Open Dialogue, so I would definitely welcome further, in depth discussion there.
Update: Based on Joel’s comment, I opted to do a little further research, and here’s what I found:
A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism.
- often Fundamentalism
An organized, militant Evangelical movement originating in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in opposition to Protestant Liberalism and secularism, insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture.
- Adherence to the theology of this movement.
- often Fundamentalism
fun’daÃ‚Â·men‘talÃ‚Â·ist adj. & n.
A group protesting Ã¢â‚¬Å“modernistÃ¢â‚¬Â tendencies in the churches circulated a 12-volume publication called The Fundamentals (1909Ã¢â‚¬â€œ12), in which five points of doctrine were set forth as
fundamental: the Virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Jesus, the infallibility of the Scriptures, the substitutional atonement, and the physical second coming of Christ.
And from here (backing up what Joel stated):
“Fundamentalist” is a term that is frequently bandied about in the news media these days. Unfortunately, this term has been used so casually in describing anyone who seems to hold some sort of traditional religious belief-be they a Bible Baptist TV preacher, a Hasidic rabbi, a Mormon housewife, or a soldier of the Islamic Jihad-that the word has become nearly useless.
And you can read more here.
I think I prefer the ‘five points’ definition over the original one cited above. There’s a whole lot more interesting stuff to read at each of those sites.
I read an editorial in the Ball State student-published newspaper this morning. The author of the column basically said that George W. Bush wants to add an amendment to the Constitution that will permanently fix homosexuals as second-class citizens by limiting their rights and freedoms. This, again, is an example of the fact that the world just does not understand. This proposed amendment has absolutely nothing to do with freedoms or rights. It does, however, have everything to do with morality, with right and wrong. Homosexuality is wrong, pure and simple. And it is imperative that an amendment be written and passed because of the liberal courts that are abusing the legal system and violating state laws that ban homosexual marriages.
On a similar note, I just wish people would stand up and pay as much attention to other issues of morality as they have to this one, issues like adultery, gambling, alcohol abuse, pornography, etc. But those things have all become part of the status quo, part of the norm, and I think that, given enough time, homosexual marriage may pass into the realm of the humdrum-everyday occurrences, without an amendment.
So, some Christians (I don’t really know how many) think it’s better to not get involved in the political arena because we have a more important work, that being to win souls to Christ. Yet, I have to disagree with the notion of non-involvment. It seems to me that part of our responsibility as stewards is to be involved in every arena as much as possible in order to have the greatest influence possible. Granted, our most important work is that of the Kingdom. The eternal state of man’s soul is of utmost importance, and we should be striving in everything we do to see others added to the Family.
We have a great freedom to move about and worship as we wish in this country, something few other countries can claim. Persecution is rampant across the globe, and there is greater insurgency of persecution arising here in the US, as well. And guess where that persecution originates? Politics! Many of the liberals in power have been trying to pass legislation to limit the religious freedom of Christians. The Ten Commandments dispute in Alabama is a prime example of this. And without strong, moral Christians in politics to take a strong stance against these would-be persecutors, our very freedoms might be stripped from us, freedoms that were hard-won at the foundation of this country, freedoms that were bled on by our men who fought and died for a freedom that they so dearly held to and believed in. We Christians (and conservatives) tend to be way too quiet about things, preferring to hope that the other side will see reason, come to their sense, and change their ways. Well, I have news for you, they haven’t, and they won’t. So, we have to stand strong and fight against them in order to hang on to and win back the freedoms that allow us to worship and speak freely about our faith.
I have a deep respect for the men in Congress and in local government who stand strong against their liberal, intolerant peers, as well as for the talk-show hosts who keep us informed of what we are not being told. Support these men who stand up for what is right, and exercise your voice in the voting booth each and every opportunity you have. It is our right as US citizens, as well as our responsibility as Christians.