The Words we Have Abused and Misused to our Own Peril-

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint~ Proverbs 17:27a NIV

 I am a staunch defender of free speech.

 Free speech is ultimately the underpinning of every other human freedom. No one really has the freedom to do much of anything if they cannot first discuss what they want to do freely and without fear of retaliation.

 That said,

 I have developed some very real preferences as to when, how and where others exercise their right to say what they want to say, especially if they are determined to say something moronic, crude or ignorant.

 I have grown particularly weary of creative uses of the F-bomb. I am not a fan of the current trend of augmenting the F-word with suffixes such as -tard, nugget, weasel, blossom, weed or -ity. Neither do I advocate the adding of prefixes to said word, especially other swear words.

 Truth-be-told I would prefer that we keep the use of any and all F-bombs to a minimum in public spaces. It’s not that I wish to stifle creativity or prevent folks from conceiving new ways of using old words. It’s just that I support the old-school notion that free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to be a foul-mouthed turd in front of someone else’s preschooler.

 There are other words I object to simply because I am sick to death of hearing them used incorrectly. I am not talking about the standard grammar-cop kind of stuff some folks get bent out of shape over. How one chooses to use words like their, there and they’re is entirely their business. That being said, I do reserve the right to silently mock anyone who uses those words incorrectly.

 My issue is with words that are used by people who have no idea what those words actually mean.

 Take for example the word “fascist”.

 Historically speaking a fascist is simply a socialist who also squashes free speech, regulates the public and private behavior of citizens, and eliminates any religious expression that does not directly support the interests of the state. Fascists will punish anyone who is unwilling to conform to standards set by the state.

 For the record, politely declining to bake a cake for a gay wedding does not make one a fascist. Although, to be fair it could be argued that a government that would penalize someone for not baking a cake for a gay wedding has clearly stepped over the line into fascism.

 Nazi is another word that makes me crazy.

 Nazi’s are for all intents and purposes just extraordinarily bigoted and brutal fascists. Contrary to popular belief, those who believe in rigorous immigration standards and border enforcement are not Nazi’s. They are just people who believe in borders and the rule of law. It is silly to classify anyone as a Nazi unless they are advocating for or committing actual acts of genocide.

 People who don’t agree with a particular set of political views are not Nazis and fascists. They are just people who have a different set of views.  It is not nice, wise or morally justifiable to demonize someone simply because they see the world differently than you do.

 That’s what Nazi’s and fascists do.

 Another peeve of mine is when folks overuse a perfectly good word. The word “offended” is a perfect example of a good word gone bad due to overuse. Not a day goes by that I don’t overhear someone sniveling about how offended they happen to be.

 The list of things I find offensive these days is nearly endless. On any given day I am offended at least a dozen times. You know what happens when I am offended?

 Nothing.

 I don’t demonstrate, cry, set things on fire or demand a puppy to cuddle (even though I love puppies). I don’t do any of those things because I am an adult and I figured out a long time ago that offended-ness is the price we pay to live in democracy where people have the freedom to make choices about what they do and believe.

 When we overuse, misuse or abuse a word that word loses it’s meaning as well as its shock value. Words like Nazi, fascist, and even offended are powerful words that ought to shock us when we hear them. When we stop being shocked by words like Nazi and fascist we may find ourselves unable to recognize an actual fascist or Nazi when they knock down our door and take our freedom.  

 

 

 

Where We Went Wrong With the Millennial Generation

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things~ 1st Corinthians 13:11 NKJV

 Over the last dozen or so years a countless number of articles and blog posts have been written on the subject of the Millennial generation and their well-documented indifference towards organized religion in general and Christianity in particular.

 Most writers focus almost entirely on solving the immediate spiritual crisis. Concerned parties want to reach the eighty percent who have wandered from the faith, before the entire generation is irrevocably lost to secularism, humanism, and atheism. I truly care about reaching the millennial generation on a spiritual level. However, I believe its every bit as imperative we understand how we got into this mess in first place.

 History is always critically important.

 Unless we know where we went wrong in a particular area we will be doomed to repeat the same stupid mistake until we die. Sadly, a countless number of blunders were made with the millennial generation. Parents, schools and churches all carry a share of the blame.

It all began with how my generation was raised.

Few in my generation were ever told we were special or smart when we were kids. This was true even when we did things that were genuinely special or smart. We were seldom permitted to voice our opinions or encouraged to share our thoughts. It was NEVER okay to contradict an adult. So when we became parents we did what Americans do when they encounter a wrong.

 We overcompensated.

 We told our kids a hundred times a day that they were smarter, more special and better informed than any children in the history of forever. If they pooped we threw a party, complete with M&M’s and party hats. If they shared an opinion, we celebrated that opinion no matter how irrational or poorly thought-out it happened to be. We insisted every kid get a trophy and made certain no child ever felt less than AWESOME about his or her academic or athletic abilities, regardless of actual ability.

 Educators were quick to focus on feelings rather than facts and hop on to the self-esteem bandwagon. Discipline went out of fashion and subjects like history were taught from an extremely one-sided perspective. Kids were rarely expected to examine both sides of an issue nor were they taught to judge historical figures actions and attitudes in the context of the time period they lived in. Absurd viewpoints were rarely, if ever challenged in academic settings.

 Churches and youth ministries focused on having fun, forming relationships and making kids feel good about themselves. Learning the Bible was dropped in favor of “service projects” and “doing life together”. The whole notion of sin was marginalized. Youth ministries focused on transforming children not yet out of puberty, including some who exhibited no indications of salvation into “leaders” who would “reach their generation for Jesus”. Do not judge, lest you be judged (Matthew 7:1) was the one Bible verse every high school student memorized.

 The end result of this collective madness has been devastating to our culture.

 Many millennials never let go of childish ideas about life and reality. It’s appallingly common for grown people to think that feelings are more important than facts and that if you believe something to be true then it must be. Many become anxious and overwrought when a flaw is pointed out in their thinking or when a viewpoint that differs from their own is presented. That is why we now have “safe spaces” on college campuses and in workplaces, to shield people from words or ideas that make them uncomfortable.

 Sigh.  

 The most tragic consequences of our folly have manifested themselves in the realm of the spiritual. Many millennials believe that if a Bible verse FEELS wrong to them then the Bible got it wrong on that subject. Because teenagers were placed in positions of spiritual leadership long before they were actually converted, acquired any wisdom or knew much of anything about the Bible; many are prideful and will not tolerate correction, even when the correction comes directly out of the Bible.

 Sadly, that is the root reason many millennials have left the church to “work out their own spiritual experience”. They simply cannot tolerate the fact that there is a higher authority than them, be it God or the Bible.

 We must change the way we look at life, God, parenting, and the nature of reality. It’s time to put away childish thoughts about such things and think like adults, this is especially true for Christians.

 It is time to acknowledge some basic truths: facts are more important than feelings, believing something does not make it true and only children shield themselves from ideas that challenge their thinking or hurt their feelings. While we’re at it we need to get back to the understanding that God is real and due to His position as Creator and Sustainer of all things He really does have a fundamental right to tell us what to do.

 Before it’s too late.

When Feelings Run the Show

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long~ Psalm 25:4-5 NIV

 There was a time in the not-so-distant-past when facts mattered and feelings were considered immaterial to most discussions. Those days are in the rear-view. Few people care about facts anymore. Even in the very rare cases where logic and reason are allowed entrance onto the debate stage, the facts nearly always take a backseat to whatever emotion is driving the aforementioned argument.

 Feelings have become the god we worship.                        

 This truth is most clearly revealed in the whole transgender bathroom debate. The kerfuffle over who gets to pee where is not really about fairness; if it were, we would be done discussing it already. Nor is it about men dressed convincingly as women using women’s bathrooms.

 Like it or not, that sort of thing has been going on for as long as there have been bathrooms in public places and most folks have been none the wiser. Contrary what the LBGTQ community would have the world believe, conservatives do not routinely do “parts” checks or demand to see birth certificates at the doors of public toilets.

 The real issue at hand is a small minority of men who do not routinely dress as women who claim there are times when they suddenly “feel” like women and should therefore be treated like women. These men are demanding the right to enter women’s restrooms whenever that feeling happens to strike them. According their supporters the “needs” of those men outweigh the rights of everyone else.

 The notion that men ought to be permitted to use any restroom they wish based on something that simply cannot be proven (feelings) is clearly absurd and obviously rife with potential for abuse. However, the brave few left clinging to reason are losing this debate. Not because the truth isn’t evident or because the facts aren’t compelling; but rather because the debate is being framed around feelings rather than facts or common sense.

 Sadly, the proclivity to allow feelings to drive every argument is not restricted to men who wish to have access to women’s bathrooms. Feelings rule the day in all sorts of different situations and it seems everybody is hopping on the feelings bandwagon.

 Decisions are made, marriages dissolved, political opinions shaped, and votes cast. Not based on promises made, facts examined or the painstaking vetting of views, but rather on the basis of how we feel about those things. Commitment, character of the individual and reason all take a backseat to feelings.

 Feeling statements are oftentimes cleverly disguised as “I don’t think” declarations. Usually an “I don’t think” declaration will follow the delivery of an irrefutable, but unpleasant fact or the teaching of an exceptionally clear but hard Bible passage. The hearer will scrunch their brow, take a deep breath and state, in a very serious tone “I don’t think a loving God would ______________” or “I don’t think _______________ is actually true”. “I don’t think” declarations rarely involve any deep thought; rather they reveal the hearers’ feelings about the fact stated.

 When facts are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant, society quickly devolves into the messy muddle described in the book of Judges: in those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes~ Judges 21:25. The only discernable difference between our time and theirs is that we do have a king, we are led by feelings and feelings are proving to be more tyrannical than any human leader.

 The American public and even those in the Church have been conditioned over the course of several decades to buy the lies that a hurt feeling is every bit as serious as a broken bone and perception is reality. The truth is that hurt feelings do hurt. Sometimes they hurt a lot.

 However, a hurt feeling only causes permanent damage if we allow the hurt to take root and grow into bitterness. Perceptions are essentially just feelings with a fancy title and should never be treated as facts and it’s a dangerous form of lunacy to kowtow to anything as capricious as a feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing Doesn’t Make it Real

 Buy the truth and do not sell it— wisdom, instruction and insight as well~ Proverbs 23:23

 I have irrefutable proof that the lunacy of our age is increasing at an alarming rate. 

 The evidence arrived via a news story on the latest issue to vex an Illinois school district. The federal government is threatening to withhold six million dollars in funding from district schools. Officials ran afoul of the federal authorities when they announced the decision to refuse to allow a high school boy (who lives as a girl) to shower and change in the girl’s locker room.

 It would be tough to accuse this particular school district of discriminating against anyone. The boy is allowed to wear girls’ clothing. He is called by a female name of his own choosing and he plays basketball on the girls’ team. The boy has been given full access to all of the girl’s restrooms and the school paid for the construction of a private changing room for him, located inside the girls’ locker room.

 The district asserts that the decision to deny the boy further access to the girl’s locker room was made only after they received complaints from students and parents. Evidently a few regressive Neanderthals balked at the notion of permitting a boy (who is still has his boy parts) to shower and change alongside the girls.

 I chose this example not because I wanted to write a screed against transgender people, but rather because it illustrates an increasingly common scenario where someone has chosen to believe something that is demonstrably untrue and then demands that everyone else get on board with their game of make-believe.

 It is simply a fact that a man cannot be trapped inside a female body or vice-versa. Those scenarios make for great movies but are biological impossibilities. A man might wish desperately that he had been born a woman or a woman might wish she had been born a man. I have nothing but compassion for men and women who struggle with those feelings. I have no doubt that those feelings are real and very painful. However, wishing something were true cannot turn a feeling into a fact.

 This issue is not restricted to gender. Some suppose that identifying strongly with the struggles and customs of a particular race somehow transforms the reality of their ethnic heritage. Others have come to believe that feeling they are in an “unsafe” environment causes them to be in actual mortal danger. Some believe that being exposed to offensive words or ideas is a form of rape. Many wish college education were free and have decided that their wishes can magically alter economic reality. Countless people truly believe that their feelings determine what is real.

 It is typical for children to go through a phase where they believe something to be true that is clearly false (I had a child who insisted she really was Winnie-the-Pooh). How a parent chooses to deal with their child’s fantasies behind closed doors is their own business. However, it is clearly wrong for individuals, the media, church leaders, parents, schools or the federal government to force the rest of society to kowtow to the fanciful wishing of a small minority.

We all need to grow up at some point. One aspect of growing-up is facing realities we don’t like. White people cannot really be black. Words, even mean words are not a form of rape (and saying so belittles the horror of rape). Feeling unsafe does not necessarily mean you are in danger. Gender is not “fluid” and money does not appear out of thin air. These are all irrefutable truths that need to be confronted head on.

 Jesus says this about truth:

 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free~ John 8:32

 Jesus wants people to embrace truth, not because He’s mean but rather because He knows that embracing truth really does set us free. Jesus wants people everywhere to know and understand the truth about life, God and our own sinful state and how our sinfulness affects our view of reality. Truth frees sinful people from the self-imposed oppression that is a consequence of living life captive to our feelings.

 The most critical truth in this world is that God made us to be in relationship with Him. Relationship with God gives us the grace, strength and wisdom we need to live life as it really is, not the way we wish it was.

 

 

 

 

 

When the Human Heart Hardens and the Conscience is Seared

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death~ Proverbs 14:27

 News commentators call it the “coarsening of society;” some prefer to call it the “cheapening of life.” The label one chooses is irrelevant. The real issue is that “it” is going on all around us.

 Arbitrary acts of violence, the euthanizing of the old and sick, sexually active twelve-year-olds, no-fault divorce, pornography, child abuse, human trafficking, and legalized drugs all point to a culture that has lost its moral footing in every measurable sense. I concluded a few years back that I have pretty much seen it all, and there is nothing left in this world that could possibly shock me.

 Then the Planned Parenthood tapes were released.

 The first two videos were objectively speaking, appalling. The videos feature Planned Parenthood doctors casually laughing, joking and sipping wine with someone posing as a fetal tissue buyer. The cheery banter is punctuated with some rather disturbing exchanges concerning abortion techniques and some callous haggling over what ought to be the going rate for aborted body parts.

 The third installment makes the first two videos look like suitable preschool programming. The third video shows a doctor, a technician, and a “fetal tissue buyer” standing over the aborted remains of a child referred to only as “ the 11.6” (eleven weeks and six days into pregnancy). The tech points out all the fetus’ intact parts including a liver, heart and hands to the “fetal tissue buyer”. The video ends when the doctor and tech agree that the clinic should be compensated for each intact body part rather than simply receiving a single payment for each aborted fetus.

 As troubling as they are, the ghoulish practices of Planned Parenthood are simply symptoms of a deeper and much more vexing issue. Human trafficking, child abuse, drug use, pornography, euthanasia, random acts of violence, along with abortion and the profiteering around the abortion industry all stem from one common and widespread cause. Something the Bible refers to as the hardening of the human heart and the searing of the conscience (Ephesians 4:18, 1st Timothy 4:2).

 The human heart is a spiritually delicate and fragile thing. Most folks are born with a natural bent toward revering the Creator and with a measure of empathy towards others. That is not to say that people are born morally perfect, they are not. However, most young children hurt when other people hurt, love God (unless taught otherwise) and desperately want to make God happy. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that the law of God and the truth of God’s existence are written on the human heart (Romans 2:14-16).

 Hearts become hardened and consciences become seared as we resist and disobey God. The more we violate what we instinctively know to be true, the easier it becomes to descend further into immoral behavior. If the progression continues our priorities become hopelessly confused and eventually evil will seem good and good will appear to be evil (Isaiah 5:20).

 This is where we are at as a culture.

Folks get more wound-up over a dentist from Minnesota killing a lion in Zimbabwe than they do over the deaths of millions of preborn humans. No one is concerned that adolescents are having their sexual attitudes shaped by the vilest forms of pornography imaginable. But everyone gets their knickers in a knot if there is even the slightest hint of sexism coming from some silly article in a women’s magazine.

 Christians cannot stop the slide into moral oblivion in the lives of others. We are not called to police the behavior of non-believers. We are commanded to consider how our actions and attitudes affect all people.

 Christians who view pornography financially support and validate an industry that exploits women and sometimes even children, enslaves millions, and creates a market for prostitution. When Christians divorce because they “just aren’t happy anymore,” we cheapen a sacred ceremony and make it considerably easier for others to do the same. When we mimic the sexual standards of the unsaved we give license to others and increase the odds of compounding our sin of immorality with the sin of abortion. When we snicker at sinful behavior we minimize and mock the sacrifice Christ made for that sin.

 Being a Christian is about more than having our sins forgiven and getting to spend eternity in heaven. Being a Christian is about more than being nice and loving people. Being a Christian is about doing all of life God’s way, all the time. God’s way is rarely easy.

 God calls us to a life of holiness, selflessness, genuine goodness, and social distinctiveness. When all of us who call ourselves Christians choose the narrow path we are called to, then, and only then, will we become the preserving and sanctifying influence our world so obviously needs right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Girl

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live~ Deuteronomy 30:19

 Recently Pope Francis shed his image as the hip, happening Pope when he came out with a bold, rabble-rousing declaration condemning recreational drug legalization. Pope Francis could not have been more unequivocal in his condemnation of drug legalization. His message stated in part…

 “The problem of drug use is not solved with more drugs.”

 He went on to clarify…

 “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem.”

 The blogosphere went wild with disapproval over the Pope’s archaic notions. The haters were out in full force, overjoyed to have an occasion to bash the Pope, organized religion, and anyone ridiculous enough to believe in God. There were some weary attempts at defending the use of marijuana made by pointing out that alcohol is legal and widely used (I, for one fail to see how one is connected to the other).

 Then there were the gloomy souls who seemed sincerely baffled that a Christian leader who appears to be as left-leaning and cool as Pope Francis could be opposed to recreational drug use. But by far the most common sentiment asserted by those who hope to legalize drugs was the tired line that has rapidly become the rallying cry of a civilization that is rotting from within:

 “People should be able to do whatever they want with their own bodies!”

 As I read page after page of comments extolling the virtues of personal sovereignty and unlimited freedom, I couldn’t help but think of the little girl who lives upstairs in the room that used to be my office.

 She’s a precious little thing.

 She has long, dark blonde hair, wonderfully expressive hazel eyes, and a mischievous smile. She adores animals and is currently campaigning hard for a hamster that she intends to name Sir Edward Fluff Ball. She loves to swim in our pool and likes craft projects. Her favorite color changes almost daily.

 She is the daughter of a relative, the offspring of two people who sincerely believed that they had the right to do whatever they wanted with their own bodies. A few years ago her Mother died from choices she made with her own body. 

 Moving in with us was tough on her in the beginning, but she is becoming a bit more comfortable in our home all the time. Although they are much older, she enjoys hanging out with our kids. She and my husband share a love of the silly and absurd that is bringing them together. She and I have connected over decorating her room and a mutual love of stories. Her growing bond with our family does not keep her from crying sometimes because she misses her Mom and yearns to live with her Dad.

 She is a bright and imaginative girl.

She reads above grade level and performs well in school. Unfortunately, she struggles more than most kids her age with impulse-control issues, remembering things and telling time. On nights when sleep evades me I worry that her problems are more than childish immaturity. My gut tells me her issues may very well be the outcome of choices her Mother made with her own body while she was pregnant.

 Her story is far from unique.

There are millions of little girls and boys just like her. Children who are the human fallout of arrogant and foolish choices their parents have made with their own bodies. Children who are plagued by nightmares, children who struggle to connect with their peers, children who long for an ordinary life with their biological parents.

Children who cry themselves to sleep at night.

 The vast majority of those children do not have the advantages she has. Most are not as naturally bright as she is. Nor do they have extended families that are able and willing to pick up the slack for parents who are busy making choices that prevent them from parenting their children properly.

 Those children are fated to become cogs in the wheel of an apathetic, overburdened public system. A system that lacks the human element necessary to help children mature to adulthood in a healthy way.

A system we all pay for.

 Sadly, societies reap what they sow as surely as individuals do. I fear the harvest we will reap in the coming years with these kids, as we loudly and arrogantly demand the right to do whatever we want with our own bodies.

 In an ideal world, we would not need laws to govern what individuals can and can’t do with their own bodies. In an ideal world, people would make unselfish, rational choices with their bodies. In an ideal world all people would agree that an individual’s right to make choices should end at the place where those choices begin to negatively affect others. In an ideal world, there would not be any children like the little girl who lives upstairs in the room that used to be my office.