Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AN EVANGELICAL VOTERS GUIDE-SIX WEEKS OUT


A VOTERS GUIDE FOR THINKING EVANGELICALS


A lot of heat, and very little light is about to be shed in the next six weeks when it comes to political races, and we have already seen some truly surprising things happen. Who would every believe George Bush would propose a massive bailout for Wall Street malfesance and bad financial practices? Not me. And now that we have Presidential debates starting this Friday evening, its time once more to trot out my voter guide-- with some revisions

Our current national economic crisis gives us an opportunity to reassess the whole issue of Christian aligning themselves with a particular political party, rather than evaluating candidates on an issue by issue, or candidate by candidate basis. We ought to be evaluating each candidate on their own merits, not on the basis of their current party affiliation. This of course requires more thought, instead of just pushing the straight party ticket button in the polling booth. Christians should be good citizens and be more thoughtful about who they vote for. They shouldn’t just listen to this or that Evangelical leader’s endorsements, even if it is someone like James Dobson or Pat Robertson who have considerable political clout.


In this particular post I want to suggest a series of steps Evangelicals should take in approaching next November’s elections. Some have to do with basic Christian obligation as a citizen of this country who appreciates the freedom and democracy we have, and then some of them have to do with critical thinking about issues and candidates.


DO YOUR HOMEWORK—There is really no excuse for laziness when it comes to being an informed voter, especially when we now have such a wealth of information online, and through other viable sources of news about candidates. Do not use the ‘cop out’ of ‘they’re all just the same’, or ‘no politicians are trustworthy’ or ‘I don’t have time for this’. If you have time to enjoy the freedoms you have in this country, then you certainly have time to become an informed voter. Period.

PLAN ON VOTING, EVEN IF YOU ARE FRUSTRATED—The percentage of Christians who could vote but don’t is high, much too high, and the end result of such bad behavior is that we often get exactly what we’ve voted for--- Nothing! Or at least, nothing good. Do not let the fact that at this juncture there may seem to be no obvious candidate for a truly conservative Christian to vote for, for this office or that, deter you. There is better and there is worse, and you’d better figure out which is which, or what we will get is worse. This is particularly an urgent matter since in the last eight years things have certainly gotten worse economically and it terms of our relationships both with our allies and enemies. The politics of fear is trumping the politics of faith and sound reasoning repeatedly, and this leads to disastrous results in the long run for our country-- both economically and militarily.

DO NOT BE A ONE ISSUE VOTER-- However passionate you may be about a particular issue, lets say abortion, you should never, never vote for someone simply on the basis of a single ethical issue. Never. Did, I mention not ever. Why not?

Because there are a plethora of inter-related important issues that affect our lives, and our Christian existence, and if you privilege only one such issue, you are likely to make a mistake in evaluating candidates. It is fine to allow a stance on one issue to be the tipping point such that you favor candidate A over candidate B, when otherwise it’s pretty much of a wash, but there should be no shibboleth. One illustration will have to do.

In a crucial election during the time of the cold war, and with heightened tensions with Cuba. Kennedy ran vs. Nixon. Many people did not vote for Kennedy, simply because he was a Catholic, and we had not had a Catholic President previously. There were even stupid and ill-considered inflammatory remarks made about how if Kennedy got elected, the country would be subject to the influence of the Pope in some objectionable ways. Thank goodness such benighted ideas did not determine the outcome of the election. Kennedy was the right man at the time, and he helped diffuse the Cuban missile crisis. We need to learn some lessons from the political past lest we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.


From here on, in this post, I will be talking about matters that pertain to critical thinking on the issues.

THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH CHARACTER SHOULD WEIGH IN WHO YOU VOTE FOR---

Life is complex, and so are ethical issues. One of the things you need to decide is whether it is more important to you what kind of person you vote for, in terms of character, or what the stances are of the person you are voting for. Sometimes we have elected well-meaning good Christian folks who couldn’t govern their way out of a paper bag. Sometimes we have elected very effective politicians, who nevertheless raised some issues for us because of their stances on particular issues. In a perfect world we could wish for candidates who are both skilled as public servants and have impeccable character.

Unfortunately, this all too often not the case, especially because of the way our political process now works with PAC money and lobbyists and numerous other unhealthy factors determining who actually can be viable candidates for a major office. In the situation we are in, how much should the candidate’s agreement with me on my list of hot button issues weigh in my decision? How much should their apparent character weigh? What do you do if it’s hard to tell? These are important questions. Personally I would rather have a politician skilled in the art of compromise (which is of the essence of modern democracy and policy making) who is of generally good character, but with whom I may disagree with on this issue or another, than a devout but unexperienced and unskilled Christian person. Let me use an analogy.

Would you rather have a surgeon operating on you in a life threatening situation who is a devout Christian, but not all that skillful and experienced in getting the job done right, or would you rather have a surgeon who has an impeccable record in regard to doing his job well, a stellar record of good outcomes when he applied his skills but whom you had some ethical disagreements? I personally would want surgeon B, if there had to be a choice.


PRIORITIZE WHAT YOU IN GOOD CONSCIENCE THINK ARE THE MOST CRUCIAL ISSUES—AND EVALUATE THE CANDIDATES ON THE BASIS OF THOSE PRIORITIES.---


Obviously, this list of vital issues is a moving target which will change in some cases, as our country’s situation changes. I wouldn’t think anyone would be weighing where the current crop of candidates stand on the Spanish-American war many moons ago! I would strongly urge Evangelicals not to limit their list to just personal ethical issues, such as matters of sexual ethics, abortion, and the like. These are very important, but as thinking Evangelicals you also need to weigh where candidates stand on various aspects of foreign policy—the trade deficit, the war in Iraq, or economic relationships with China and other third world countries, the position of the candidate on Darfur, the issue of nuclear regulation (in North Korea, Iran etc.), our relationship with crucial Muslim countries where we have a stake but are not embroiled in military action currently—Turkey, Pakistan, etc. In other words, we need to be global Christians, and think globally, especially if our first commitment is, as it should be, to the worldwide body of Christ and the worldwide spread of the Gospel.


BE SMART ENOUGH TO SEE WHEN A CANDIDATE IS NOT BEING HONEST OR FORTH-RIGHT ABOUT HIS OR HER VIEWS

Obfuscation and fuzziness has of course become a political art form, and sometimes this is because the potential emperor has no clothes, or hasn’t thought through the issues themselves. The last thing we need in our current situation is politicians who make it up as they go along, or show signs of constantly shifting their views, depending on which way the political wind blows.


DON’T JUST VOTE ON GUT INSTINCT. THINK, EVALUATE, DISCUSS, PRAY BEFORE PULLING THE LEVER.

I wish I could tell you that the above outlined process of discernment was easy, but it is not. And there will be ambiguities, and you will have to make some judgment calls. You have to accept that you may well make some mistakes, and all the more is this likely to be the case when there is no clear front-runner that an Evangelical Christian of any stripe might think was someone one ought obviously to vote for.


Over the course of the coming six weeks, pay attention to the ads, watch a few of the debates, read up on the candidates web sites, watch the primaries, and be prepared. It would be a great tragedy if only a minority of Christians voted in the next election who are eligible, and the country continued its downward slide as a result. The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ could be changed to ‘you get what you do or don’t vote for’.

Remember the old adage—all it takes for something bad to happen, or continue happening, is for good people to stand idly by and let that transpire.

170 comments:

AG said...

ben, well said. i think that voting is more complex than simply asking "who is anti abortion"? and then saying "they get my vote"! even though everything else they stand for is terrible.
I hope that the USA really think hard about who they vote for cause frankly the last two times caused the rest of us around the world to lose our loved ones in war and see our economy take a bit of a dive. Last time it saw international relations with the USA ake a terrible tun for the worst and say millions of people become homeless.
Please voters, vote on more than just the abortion issue, vote with an informed (from your own research, not one taken from the media) view.
Please as someon who is not form the USA or live in the USA i ask you to take some of the thoughts of Ben in the post into consideration, it REALLY will make a difference.
All the best guys
AG

Brett R said...

Voting for the party has some merit, especially for a legislative position. If I vote for a dem that is pro-life, and generally more conservative, they will still vote with the liberal dems 95% on parliamentary issues, which is what tends to shape the legislation.

square-rigger said...

Another issue: should you vote for a third party that may be most ideal but a longshot? Or should you "vote for the lesser of two evils" in a contest where your vote has more weight?

I've voted third party since I was old enough in '92. But my vote wouldn't have swayed the outcome in my heavily Republican district.

Ben Witherington said...

Since the overall popular vote matters, even if one lives in a district which is strongly some other affiliation than yours, your vote still matters. If one really believes in a third party candidate, then one should certainly vote for them.

BW3

Vitamin Z said...

Would we not say that if a candidate held certain beliefs they would potentially be morally disqualified? Can we not think of examples where one issue would mean a certain candidate would not get our vote no matter what?

z

mayoder said...

(for the record, I'm not sure if any of this is going through)

Ben...I appreciate your comments on the subject of voting and it is a good guide to use for those who do vote. However, I always cringe a little bit when someone says, or at least gives the perception, that as a Christian we MUST vote or that if we enjoy our freedoms then we must indulge in them with our ability to vote. Or lines like, "if you don't vote then you can't complain about the results(not in this post but in many others). I could talk about the absurdity of that, but I will refrain.

The reason I cringe is because I do not vote, not out of laziness or the view that they are all the same, but because of religious beliefs that have grown out of many years of prayer and meditation on the subject matter. Although i would consider myself an Evangelical, I am also someone who holds many Anabaptist beliefs as well. Now many of you will scream at me or shake your head at and try to theologically justify why I should vote...and that's fine...I've had the dialogue thousands of times with people and I'd be happy to have it again with anyone. It all boils down to a fundamental theological difference in how we view the world, the Church, and the Churches place in the world.

I just think in the future we need to take this argument out of the realm of "you must vote" into the realm of "if you vote" in giving posts like this.

charles ray loudermilk said...

I don't need the five steps Mr. W. I can say for sure that infanticide is not something I find hopeful and change worthy in a candidate. If a baby is born alive from a botched abortion, Mr. change says to let it bleed it out. How's that for a single issue for true "religion" as James states: to help widows and orphans ("the least of these") in their distress. I'd say someone hacking away at a preborn baby is distressing... Trying to be intellectually/politically correct is not for the followers of Yeshua, we are to be light in darkness, and Mr hope is not even a low wattage LED. As Mr hope 4 change goes about strutting his false gospel outtakes, I read here to really look into the issues! We are to be salt and light, not spoiled rotten americans who need $1 dollar gas and all the ice cream you can eat! More to life than our bank accounts and our standing with how much the world likes us... Yeshua said the world will hate you, because it hated me first. Think people, Think.

Marc Axelrod said...

Excellent post! This is a very good guide!

Brian said...

Ben,

I would strongly urge people to consider another option regarding our current "economic crisis". This is a definite downturn that has been heightened by poor oversight from all or our elected officials. At the same time it is part of an economic cycle. We were due for a bear and we got one. Unfortunately, it came at the same time we were dealing with banks lending money haphazardly.

I wholeheartedly appreciate your encouragement to consider who and how we vote. Thanks for your prophetic voice. I also like your singing voice!

crystal said...

Great post. Think I'll quote you :)

Ben Witherington said...

Charles I am afraid that stereotypes of liberals and conservatives won't do.

I've known a lot of them myself, and I have found that many of them are 'conservative' on one issue, and not on another because they weigh the issues on their merits.

And I have also found that folks of both sorts often are profoundly motivated by the Bible.

Perhaps you are talking about godless left wingers, but we aren't dealing with those sorts of folks in this Presidential election on either side of the issue.

I would suggest you read Stephen Mansfield 's fine book The Faith of Barak Obama. Especially to be commended is the chapter comparing the faith of Obama with that of Bush, McCain, and Hilary.

Blessings,

BW3

RjL said...

Ben, would I be able to reproduce this in a hard copy format, with proper reference?

Ben Witherington said...

Sure rjl--- you are welcome to it.

Several of you have probed whether there would be a single issue that could determine someone's vote. I suppose it is possible, but not with these two presidential candidates, so I don't think using previous possibilities (e.g. Hitler's anti-Semitism) helps us much.

Just for the record, as Obama said at Saddleback, he is definitely not pro-abortion, he does however believe in guidance and in the mother's right to decide the matter. I disagree with this view, but it is clear enough he has thought through the matter carefully, and as he says sees abortion as something we should work to eliminate.

BW3

Brett R said...

____________________________________________________________________
Just for the record, as Obama said at Saddleback, he is definitely not pro-abortion, he does however believe in guidance and in the mother's right to decide the matter. I disagree with this view, but it is clear enough he has thought through the matter carefully, and as he says sees abortion as something we should work to eliminate. ____________________________________________________________________

Dr Witherington,

I can’t believe you buy into this logic. Why would he want to it acceptable to let the mother decide the matter if in fact abortion is homicide? Does he think some murder should be legal? If it isn’t murder, why is it unethical?

Hey may have though this through, but this position is hardly well thought out.

Brandon V. said...

Ben, I love pretty much all of the stuff you write. My pastor on campus, and spiritual director, raved about Asbury to me for four years. I hope someday to meet you. I've been reading for a while without commenting, but I did feel the need to bring light to something, specifically the issue of "one-issue" voting. As a recent college-grad and Catholic-convert, the issue of abortion has been powering ahead forcefully on the train tracks of my mind. You directly stated that we Christians should never be "one-issue" voters. The detractors would obviously point to the Hitler scenario. Adolf had great plans and promises for nationalism, unity, healthcare, and the school system; plans which would surely appeal to us even in this current election. But he also was a blunt advocate of murder. It would be completely asinine to pair Obama's with Hitler. But one has to ask the question: Is killing an adult Jew based on race different than killing a baby based on age? My heart sinks when I hear that one-third of my generation has been killed through abortion. Obama has the highest pro-abortion marks of any Senator. He was given an A+ rating on Planned Parenthood's scale, again the highest in all the Senate. He claimed that "when I become President, the first thing I will do as President is to sign the Freedom of Choice act" which essentially would lift all bans on abortion. Three times he voted down a ban on partial birth abortions in his state, which is one of the most disturbing things I've ever heard described (Google that, and try to imagine that it was performed on you or on your spouse).

Abortion isn't even the only "one-issue" that should prevent one from voting for a candidate. If a candidate's policies were aligned 100% with your views, yet he was an proud advocate of rape in all situations, and suggested that all legislation banning it should be reversed, could you vote for him? Murder is beyond even that. All other issues should be in the periphery of not only Christians but humans; if one doesn't even have the right to live, who cares about any other issues? As a Christian, I must say that while voting for McCain may lead my country into war, while it may lead to my country's economy falling into deeper chaos, and while our energy situation may sink into even more dependence and wars, like a writer once said, "I count it all as loss" to have the chance to save the life of even one person. What American benefits, amenities, and national successes are we willing to forgo to prevent the choice to kill someone?

Elnwood said...

Hi Ben,

I disagree with your statement that Obama "is definitely not pro-abortion." He repeatedly spoke against born-alive legislation and even voted against a bill that was nearly identical to one that passed the U.S. Senate 98-0, thus showing him more pro-abortion than just about any other politican.

If Obama is not pro-abortion, then I don't think anybody really fits your definition of "pro-abortion."

With regards to a single issue determining a vote, you wrote "I suppose it is possible, but not with these two presidential candidates, so I don't think using previous possibilities (e.g. Hitler's anti-Semitism) helps us much." Personally, I beg to differ. As Rick Warren said, to many evangelicals, that there are 40 million Americans that have been murdered in the womb is like a Holocaust.

AG said...

Charles,
There is a difference between being salt and light and being a heartles, uncompassionate, selfish, arrogant christian.

Once again in typical fahsion we have people pipe their heads up and blow the abortion trumpet like it is the ONLY thing God cares about in ALL of the world.
Yes it is an issues. Is it the MAIN issue? no.
I suspect you never met or talked with a woman who has had an abortion because of falling pregnant after being raped?
I suspect Charles has never had to council someone who has to make a choice between dying themselves or aborting their baby?
Ill bet Charles and many other who hold so strong on this issue have never spoken with woman who has aids who have aborted their unborn babies so that they do not get brought into the world already having the virus and the heart ache it causes them.
Its easy to sit on our Chrisian high horse and choose our leader on one issue while wiping our hands of any other responsibility. Its a lot harder to acknowledge our sinful world and our own sinful atitudes. Its alot harder for us to get alongside the very people we 'despise', who are homeless and drug addicts or in so peoples views those who have had abortions. It is alot harder to be salt and light to these people and their stories than it is to sit in our church or behind the computer monitor and blow our trumpet about infantcide and abortion as God's ONLY issue.
I am anti abortion but i pro choice for woman. This is issue is far more complex than a tic or a cross for a political leader or potential leader.
anway this is not my blog so i will leave it there...
peace to you all and Lord help us in all we do.

Ben Witherington said...

The baby in a mother's woman is not an independent person until near the time for delivery. By this I mean it is totally dependent on the mother. To say that there are never any lesser of two evils choices when it comes to the mother and her child is simply false. If the life of the mother is genuinely in danger are you really saying she should not have the right to choose to terminate the pregnancy if her husband and other children are begging her to do so? I should hope not. But the choice in such a personal decision should be in the hand of that person. And a reasonable case can be made for women who have been raped or a victim of incest should have some sort of choice in the matter as well. In other words, even I as a totally pro-life person get a little tired of the moral outrage of those who don't take a balanced approach in valuing the sacred worth of the mother equally with the unborn child. Were it my wife whose life was clearly on the line, I would of course pray that both might be saved, but if that was impossible for sure, I would certainly want my wife to choose to go on living.

My point is simply this--- the issue of abortion should NEVER be isolated from the other ethical issues that are related to it, especially the issues of the ethical way to treat an endangered mother's life, or a rape victim's life etc.

Blessings,

Ben W.

AG said...

what frustrates me on this issue is the lack of WOMAN commenting. You see it is easy for us shovanistic men to claim rights over a womans body, however if the tides were turned upon us how differently we would respond. It is easy to think that we 'own' woman because our sinful ways make us think we are better than the opposite sex. This is not how God originally created humanity. We need to be careful not to think we as men have the right to choose what woman do with their bodies, and vice versa, we have never been able to have babies and dare i say most likely in the near future never will.
To al of us men here on this response, answer this question to me honestly, dont fudge around it: "If your wife was bashed and raped by several men and became pregnant, would you in good concience demand your wife not have an abortion but give birth to that baby and raise and love it it wwthout prejudice and would you in good concience demand your wife live through the trauma of looking into the babies eyes and seeing her attackers?" Lets make this abortion issue personal...you see i dont agree with abortion but i agree with giving woman choice for this very reason, you take away choice and you deny woman the most basic of human rights and that is control over their own body.
anyway answer away those who dare to be honest males. I for one would never impose that demands over my wifes body, ever.

AG said...

i just read your last post ben and sorry about the double up...but hooray to your post, i agree with you!
Peace my friends

RogueScholar said...

Ben, I think your post is well-worded and timely. I will say the major negative issue I have with Obama is due to his espousal of a right to abortion on demand, even termination after an unsuccessful abortion attempt when the child could have survived outside the womb.

I think most of your readers realize that the issues are not so black and white when the mother was raped, her own life is in jeopardy, etc. So I think you're chasing a red herring on that point (I refer to your latest comment at 4:25pm). Obama, however, promotes abortion on demand. This is the real issue for many conservatives. Three times he voted against a partial-birth abortion ban in Illinois. He introduced no exception clauses for extreme cases. He simply voted against it. It does not appear he has done much to eliminate abortion at all, Ben. He merely talks about it.

How a person views human life at its most fundamental level says a lot about that person and is bound to influence their decisions on public policy.

RS

Ben Witherington said...

Thanks for this Rogue. I think you are right to critique Obama's record on that score. I agree on that point.

But I do not agree with isolating the issue of abortion from the related ethical issues, including what I will call woman care. My point is that I don't think the Law should tell a woman she can't have an abortion under ANY circumstances. I think it should be between the woman, her doctor and God to decide when an extreme situation is involved. I agree that no one should have an inalienable right to terminate their pregnancy on flimsy grounds and for purely selfish reasons. But emergencies like this should be personally managed, not government managed.

BW3

RogueScholar said...

Ben,

Very true. I in no way intended to suggest that abortion should be isolated from the rest of the issues. I think you qualified my statement nicely on that point.

In any case, I am thankful this election is at least prompting some conservative Christians to think more holistically. I hope your even-handed post receives a very wide readership

RS

Brett R said...

Ag said:

___________________________________

what frustrates me on this issue is the lack of WOMAN commenting. You see it is easy for us shovanistic men to claim rights over a womans body, however if the tides were turned upon us how differently we would respond.
__________________________________

This is disgusting. Us evil men aren't claiming ownership to anything but the responsibility to protect human life.

Carrie Ann said...

Thank you, Dr. Witherington. I wish I would have read this my freshmen year at Asbury during the 2004 election.

AG said...

brett r,

Responsibility to protect life at the cost of the basic human rights of every human being - to choose what happens to their body? is that really our responsibility as males in this issue?...i mean really?

What is disgusting brett is how narrow minded people have become in this issue. If the roles were reversed i am sure we wouldn't be so vigorous or narrow minded to protect human life would we 'at all costs'. Lets be honest for a change instead of hiding behind the issue.
This is an issue that is more than simply standing up for a 'righteous cause' (as many claim it to be).
I strongly DISAGREE with abortion, however, i MUST remain open and allow woman to have a choice to what happens to their body if for no other reasons then for the ones i have listed above in other comments. If i take away that right than i no longer value the humanity of another person, if i take away their right to permit or stop what does or does not happen with their body than something is a miss.
anyway...back to thew whole point again, which was about the USA elections...of which i am not a resident or citezen.
I was asking that christians get off the Abortion issue as the ONLY issue to think about with a candidate and begin to think through the bigger picture.

I believe sin at the Fall has shaped the ineqality we have between male and female, maybe we should begin to reclaim some of that back and begin to act in ways that values both sexes equally.
anyway enough for now....peace to you all.

milka & jay said...

Thanks for the balanced advice. I could not in good conscience vote for Obama because of his stance on abortion among a few other issues. I could not vote for McCain because of his stance on what is just a holy oil war. (talk about the blood of the innocents) Even though many say that I am wasting my vote on a third party candidate, I can find at least a couple of them that give me the confidence to be able to vote my true conscience on most of the issues. If all the Evangelical voters would do the same, I really believe it would positively revolutionize our political situation in this country

Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries said...

Ben thanks for the balanced advice. Personally I consider abortion the only single issue that carries more weight than any other single issue, but we do need an overall view. the following are my most recent thoughts. (887)SAMUEL 4 CONTINUED- Okay, let’s finish it up. In this chapter we see an important historical event, the capture of the Ark of the Covenant [the box that held the 10 commandments, not Noah’s Ark!] The children of Israel fight with the Philistines and take a loss of 4 thousand men. They go back to camp and regroup. They decide to take the Ark of God and involve it with human warfare. A big mistake! This speaks of the sad history of the crusades and other mistaken ideas of ‘holy war’. God does not involve himself in mans efforts of domination thru power. So the Philistines hear that the Ark is in the battle and they fear. ‘Oh my God, this is the God of Israel who defeated the Egyptians’. They knew the history of Israel and how the God of Israel was great. The battle rages and Israel takes a greater loss of 30 thousand men. Plus the Ark is captured and the two sons of Eli are killed. The runner runs back to Shiloh [the headquarters of the Ark, where the tabernacle of Moses still stood] and brings the terrible news to Eli [the high priest]. Eli hears about the Arks capture and falls back and breaks his neck and dies. One of the daughters in law to Eli goes into labor and delivers a boy. She names him Ichabod, which means God's glory has departed. She did this because the Ark was taken. The Ark represented Gods glory and presence among the people. It seems as if Israel began to treat it in an idolatrous way. Sort of like what happened with the brass serpent that Moses made in the wilderness. God has to step in and rebuke his people when they mistake the true worship of God with religious objects. The history of the Christian church has been divided over this for centuries. You can have religious art, it should not become a thing of worship. The iconoclast controversy of the Catholic and Orthodox churches have gone to extremes on both sides. At times believers would go into the ‘churches’ and destroy all the religious art they found. Others would hold to a view of icons [religious paintings] and statues that would seem to cross the line in areas of worship. I remember hearing a story about a prophet who stood up in a church meeting and said ‘thus saith the Lord, I have judged this church and people. My glory is no longer here. I have written ‘Michelob’ on your door posts’. Well, after he sat down he realized he mistook the word ‘Michelob [beer]’ for 'Ichabod’. He then stood up again and said ‘Thus saith the Lord, I meant to say Ichabod’.

(888)SAMUEL 5- The Philistines take the Ark back to their cities and every city the Ark is taken to experiences judgment. They get ‘tumors’ [hemorrhoids!] and rats. At one point they put the Ark in the ‘house of Dagon’ [a false idol. A fish head type thing with a human body] and the next morning their idol is found lying at the feet of the Ark. They set him up again and low and behold, the next morning the fish god is found at the foot of the Ark with his head and hands chopped off! Hey, if your god started as a fish and turned into a stump, then it’s time for a new god! Eventually they decide to send the Ark back to Israel. Let’s do a little history at this point. The Ark of God is the box that contained the 10 commandments. God had Moses make a box to put the tablets in [the 2 tablets that the commandments were written on]. The reason destruction will happen to those who ‘peak in the Ark’ is because the cover of the Ark was called ‘the Mercy seat’. This was the place where the high priest would make a yearly atonement [the Day of Atonement] for the sins of the people. The sacrificial blood was placed on the cover to be for a covering of sin. The Ten Commandments represented Gods Holy character, and the only way he could dwell with the people was on the basis of this atoning blood [a type of Christ]. When you remove the cover [the mercy seat] in essence you are causing the absolute righteousness of God to come into contact with the absolute sinfulness of man. That’s why those who peak in it are destroyed. Now the Ark was originally carried around with the tabernacle system in the wilderness. A sort of movable tent that was set up and taken down as God willed. A mobile piece of furniture. When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land it was placed in Shiloh. After it’s capture and return [which we will read about in the coming chapters] it will eventually be placed in the city of Jerusalem under King David’s rule. This tent that David puts it in is referred to as ‘David’s tabernacle/tent’. It will be a type of the new covenant ministry of Jesus. The tent of David will have no tabernacle structure like Moses tabernacle in Shiloh. There will be no veil or holy of holies or any other impediment to God’s presence. All you have is the Ark and the mercy seat. This showing us that in Jesus priesthood [typified by David’s kingly/priestly ministry] all you need is Jesus atonement and Gods glory. All have equal access to God, not just the priestly class [or another way to put it is all are priests!]. So as we progress thru these books keep your eyes open to the prophetic pictures that are being painted by the Spirit. All scripture testifies of Christ. He is the underlying figure that the Spirit is continually pointing to.

Ben Witherington said...

Since as Paul says whatever you can't do in faith , is sin for you, you are quite right. We must all vote our consciences.

BW3

Brett R said...

Ag,

My responses preceded with an **

brett r,

Responsibility to protect life at the cost of the basic human rights of every human being - to choose what happens to their body? is that really our responsibility as males in this issue?...i mean really?

**If what happens in their body could be murder, then yes. If you can explain how it is not murder, then maybe not. At least the government has the responsibility to protect innocent human life, doesn’t it?

What is disgusting brett is how narrow minded people have become in this issue. If the roles were reversed i am sure we wouldn't be so vigorous or narrow minded to protect human life would we 'at all costs'. Lets be honest for a change instead of hiding behind the issue.

**My position is not to protect human life at all cost, but that innocent human life would be protected by the law. Is that unreasonable?

This is an issue that is more than simply standing up for a 'righteous cause' (as many claim it to be).
I strongly DISAGREE with abortion, however, i MUST remain open and allow woman to have a choice to what happens to their body if for no other reasons then for the ones i have listed above in other comments. If i take away that right than i no longer value the humanity of another person, if i take away their right to permit or stop what does or does not happen with their body than something is a miss.
anyway...back to thew whole point again, which was about the USA elections...of which i am not a resident or citezen.
I was asking that christians get off the Abortion issue as the ONLY issue to think about with a candidate and begin to think through the bigger picture.

**Who said I think it is the only issue?

I believe sin at the Fall has shaped the ineqality we have between male and female, maybe we should begin to reclaim some of that back and begin to act in ways that values both sexes equally.
anyway enough for now....peace to you all.

**You may believe what you wish, but Paul considered that the order of creation as well as the fall, was the cause of the inequity:

But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:12-15)

Don said...

The question to ask if who does one think will make the best decisions as Prez in the next 4 years.

For myself, I vote anti-pessimal, I look at the top 2 candidates and vote AGAINST the one that I assess is the worst.

Bob A. said...

This article provides some excellent advice, especially to those who have previously been one-issue voters. One question I ask myself as a Christian is, will the world be a better place if one candidate wins rather than the other? We need to look at both candidates' history and voting records to see in which way each is different or each is the same as our current president. Another question I ask myself is, has the world become a better place after eight years with the same folks in charge? (Some more cynical people might say, the same foxes in charge of the henhouse.) That's just my starting point. THEN I can look at individual issues, such as abortion, and ask myself, are there more underprivileged, desperate people today than there were eight years ago? If yes, would there be a greater number or a lesser number of people likely to choose abortion due to their feelings of desperation? What about the economy? Energy? Our guardianship of the environment? Our loss of jobs? Our educational system? Unfair trade practices? An endless war that does not appear to have had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks?

Don Yeager said...

Ben, you said...
"Would you rather have a surgeon operating on you in a life threatening situation who is a devout Christian, but not all that skillful and experienced in getting the job done right, or would you rather have a surgeon who has an impeccable record in regard to doing his job well, a stellar record of good outcomes when he applied his skills but whom you had some ethical disagreements? I personally would want surgeon B, if there had to be a choice."

What if that same surgeon served on the Ethics Committee of the hospital? There his/her ethics/values would definitely make a difference in perhaps deciding matters of life and death. In a sense, the President not only helps shape the policy of the USA, but our moral climate as well. I have a hard time choosing one over the other and hope that the President shares both my values and my views on policy a majority of the time.

I also think we get confused when we base our vote on issues over which the POTUS has little or no control.

Mark Daniels said...

Ben:
I really like this, especially the counsel to not be one-issue voters.

As one with more than a passing interest in politics and our country, last year I wrote a series of posts on how Christians might think about the 2008 election. Their purpose was not to suggest a specific agenda, but, a bit like what you've done here, to provide a prism through which people might look at the 2008 presidential election.

The links are below. (Feel free to delete this comment if it seems too much like those "Want to do a link exchange?" advertisements.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

By the way, my son is a graduate of Asbury College, where he had a Biology Lab under your wife, Ann.

Again, this was a good, thoughtful post.

Mark Daniels

charles ray loudermilk said...

wow ag... such insight.. you sound exactly like the person you were describing. I know exactly where I stand on truth and I know exactly how I treat the people the GOD of Heaven and earth puts before me, with the love and compassion Yeshua has shown me.

You speak such broad sweeping emotional strokes, about killing babies... can you tell me the actual percentage of the over 50 MILLION convenience driven destruction of lives since roe v. wade were due to incest, rape or fear of death to the mother? I'm sure you know its beneath 5% of all the killings of babies.

Its funny how your so right and no one can refute your infinite knowledge on the terms of killing babies, get off your religious high horse. As I see it most legislation against abortion for convenience allows these few exceptions of rape, incest, or fear of death due to pregnancy.

Please don't be so arrogant in the future to assume to know someone. I've sat with a young lady begging her not to view the child living within her as a mistake that must be destroyed because it will ruin her life and her boyfriend will leave her. No, I've seen these things up close.. maybe I haven't sat with someone whose life has been ripped apart because of rape..but I would in a moments notice... its quite obvious I stand against your true agenda of abortion on demand.

your statement "I'm anti-abortion but pro choice" Have you ever heard not to be double minded.. I see you like a wave being tossed about without direction. Get some conviction, if you like babies in the womb to be killed, just because... then stand by it. Don't preach platitudes to me, I know what I believe, and I beg and plead with those who are facing the choice of killing an unborn child. I'll love them no matter what.

K. R. Carson said...

Such great advice. My undergrad alma mater, George Fox University, is under a bit of heat for an incident that some idiot did on campus this week relating to Obama. I was on Obama's website today because I wanted to see if by chance there was any info there. There wasn't, that I could find, but in the process, I found a link that refuted many of the smears that have been said about him and I sent the link to a friend who had posted a link on Facebook that bad-mouthed Obama regarding an Illinois abortion bill. It is so important to do research and I wish way more people would do it. So frustrating.

Great chapel, by the way, today. If you were Quaker, I may have shouted out, "That Friend speaks my mind!" but instead I only thought it with a lower case "f." :)

Krissi C.

K. R. Carson said...

ag, you wanted to hear the perspective from a woman, so as a woman, I will respond regarding the issue of abortion. I am just one person and am in no way speaking for all women, so bear that in mind.

As a woman, I can not imagine what could bring a woman to even consider abortion. By that I don't mean there is no circumstance, because obviously there is since it happens. What I mean by that is if circumstances are so bad or feel so out of control that someone would consider it an option, I know that from my own life experiences, I will not be able to even comprehend how horrendous that must feel for the woman. This is not a decision a woman would take lightly, and yet whether pro-life people mean to or not, that is how many treat it. I will state for the record that I am pro-life. I do not believe, barring health and rape issues (of which I have not made an opinion yet), that abortion is an appropriate response. But, even though I can't see that I would ever make such a decision, what right does anyone have to judge me if my circumstances are such that I'm even thinking about it? I marvel in horror that many pro-lifers are so bent on stopping the decision that we fail to care what the original situation was and try to do something from that stand point. I once heard Vice-President for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals, Richard Cizik, say that if we reduced poverty by 10%, the rate of abortion would go down by 30%. We need to stop attacking the issue from the outside and start unraveling the knots from the inside. I don't believe a woman should choose abortion, but I don't believe that with no understanding of her situation, I should make that decision for her. There are better ways than telling them they don't have the option, the biggest of which is to give her no reason to want or feel the need to choose it. As the church, I wonder what are we doing to relieve this problem?

K.R.C.

Elnwood said...

AG, you wrote:
"I strongly DISAGREE with abortion, however, i MUST remain open and allow woman to have a choice to what happens to their body if for no other reasons then for the ones i have listed above in other comments."

So, say your teenage daughter decides she hates God, she hates her cheating boyfriend, and says she wants to commit suicide. It's her body, right? It's her life, right? We counsel her against it, but if that's her choice, she should be allowed to do it under the law, right?

Wrong. Human life is the most precious thing. Any doctor knows that by law, and by their oath, they have to take suicide threats seriously and prevent it at all costs.

And yet we let teenage daughters get abortions, and in my home state, they can do it without their parents knowing. What a tragedy.

The Reverend of Rock and Roll said...

Hmmm....after reading this, it occurs to me that I have no choice but to vote for BW3.

While I do not expect you to name me Vice Pres, it would be nice to be named official "Pub-Theologian of State".

Thank you in advance, and God Bless America.

Mark Hunsaker said...

BW3,

I greatly value your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, they are a treasure trough for learning.

However, this discussion about single-issue voting seems to miss an important point. Just looking at it logically, I think we would all agree that there are things that would disqualify a candidate.

If abortion is, in fact, the cessation of a human person's life, then no justification for that action is adequate.

If, however, abortion is not the destruction of a human person, then no justification is needed.

As such, our conclusion about these premeses can lead us to disqualify a candidate who is in favor of allowing anyone to choose to destroy human persons on demand, just as we might disqualify a candidate for being a racist or being a thief.

Some thoughts to consider,
Mark Hunsaker

José Solano said...

“My point is simply this--- the issue of abortion should NEVER be isolated from the other ethical issues that are related to it, especially the issues of the ethical way to treat an endangered mother's life, or a rape victim's life etc.” (Ben)

I think we have a real ethical dilemma when we weigh saving the mother’s life or the child’s life. That dilemma exists when we have a mother and a one-month old baby and you can only save one or the other or if allowing the mother to die means certain death for the baby also.

But the rape situation is entirely different because the innocent child can be put up for adoption. We cannot justify murdering the innocent child because the mother has been deeply wounded. We must do what we can to counsel the mother and let her remember that the child is innocent.

Still, of the 40 to 45,000,000 babies that have been snuffed out since Roe vs. Wade was thrust upon humanity by a few individuals, without any Constitutional foundation whatsoever, the epitome of judicial fiat, how many of these children have been slaughtered to save the mother’s life or because of rape? Have we lost all sense of proportion?

And will Obama say, “All right, I’ll support abortion only to save the life of the mother or in the case of rape victims? Hell no! As has been stated here already, Obama favors the euphemism of “a women’s right to choose” in all of the flimsiest situations. And of course, there is really no “right” to murder and there never has been in Christian thinking. The great biblical image of the slaughter of innocents comes from Herod, the most despicable of biblical figures. But the slaughter taking place today might make Herod blush.

This is certainly a sufficient single issue to reject Obama. But of course Obama is no pacifist. Let no one be deluded into imagining that Obama is less bellicose than McCain. He has been simply briefed to transfer the war effort to other fronts, Afghanistan, as he needs to do some saber rattling to show how tough he is and that he will not let down the military industrial complex. The difference will be merely a preference on how to prosecute war and in what arena. The same billions of dollars will flow into that military industrial complex as have flowed from other Democrat presidents.

And then there is that other important issue that has somehow not yet been mentioned, the defense of marriage. Obama plans to eliminate the DOMA and he will do nothing to support marriage amendments to assure that marriage can be only between a man and a woman. We know where McCain/Palin stand on this issue also.

Now Dr. Witherington, you say “I think it [abortion] should be between the woman, her doctor and God to decide when an extreme situation is involved.” But Dr. Witherington, God has already spoken on this matter and all too frequently neither the woman nor the doctor are listening, which leads me to another statement of yours, “We must all vote our consciences.” The only problem here is that when we commit and justify unconscionable acts we generally cannot find our conscience. I simply love that Pinocchio movie where Pinocchio under varied intense influences and temptations simply cannot hear Jiminy Cricket.

Perhaps later I’ll comment on the importance of having wholesome symbols in the White House.

Blessings.

José Solano said...

PS: Actually Dr. Witherington, your thoughts on abortion are much closer to McCain than the radical extreme of Obama. It is McCain who makes exception for saving the life of the mother, for rape and for incest. But let me ask you, would you like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned? McCain would.

AG said...

bob a,
thanks for talking sense mate...much appreciated... i am glad someone is trying to look at the issues as a whole in making a decision...power to you.

Bob A. said...

Thank you, ag, for your comment. I've noticed that many who have posted comments are still stuck in a one-issue box when it comes to voting, which sort of negates the entire article. One person even writes that he supports McCain for McCain's pro-life position because it's important to save just one life. Yet this commentator also suggests that McCain is a war-monger who will get us into future wars (I agree), and I can't help but question how the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in war equals the potential "one life saved" from one less abortion. Pardon me, folks, if I just don't get it. (Here's an urgent footnote. What follows is a link to an article about how Israel planned to bomb Iran and Bush stopped the plan. Now what would President "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" McCain do, do you suppose? http://tinyurl.com/3uct9m )

charles ray loudermilk said...

bob a, not only are not making sense your going on such lovely platitudes.. as a similar non-reality professor ag does.

You look at every other side of a situation except the one that can actually be dealt with. 5

50,000,000 human lives have been: dissolved, cut up and vacuumed, skull cut open and brains exhumed... should i state more truth?

This is what needs to be stopped... and it can be stopped. The partial birth abortion ban was finally signed into law, after years of liberal dems refusing to sign it.

Poverty is a never ending struggle, Yeshua Himself said the poor you will ALWAYS have...do you believe him or not. We will not eradicate injustice in the world.. it is not for us to do. Yes, we must try as much as possible to fight injustice...

but how can you honestly claim to care about injustice when the single most horrific injustice is perpetrated every single day in your own neighborhood!

JESUS made it clear that children are the least of these... they are helpless without us.

JD Walters said...

If the preservation of physical human life were the overriding supreme good against which all other moral action is to be evaluated, then God would never have ordered the Israelites to violently conquer Canaan (or engage in any war for that matter) and He would never have allowed His beloved Son to die for the sins of the world. I don't buy the atheist rant that God is an abortionist for killing His own Son but I do think it's worth pondering what exactly God's ultimate aims are for human life in this epoch. Certainly it's not (primarily) material comfort and health, because many believers and nonbelievers suffer from all kinds of diseases and accidents all the time.

My point in all this is that I can't understand the people who think of abortion as the greatest moral evil of our time, crying loudly for it to be defined as murder and judging people, legislative platforms and governments solely by this one issue.

Folks, there are bigger fish to fry. If the next president cannot salvage our economy there will be suffering and destitution on a scale that makes individual abortions of barely conscious babies pale by comparison. If the next president cannot work with world leaders to diffuse extremism in the Middle East and promote international cooperation, Iran might cut off 40% of our oil supply and THEN you'll get a true glimpse of financial armageddon. If the next president does not steer our infrastructure towards renewables, overhaul of the electricity grid and repair of bridges, roads and other vital resource arteries we will remain addicted to oil, the climate will change so drastically that large portions of the United States may become unsuitable for human life and the United States may be crippled economically for lack of means of mass transportation of goods and services.

I agree with the point that Hitler made all sorts of promises for restoring economic prosperity and political dominance, but it came with a genocidal price tag. BUT in a situation like the United States where we have two main candidates who are Christian, a political system that is (at least in theory) transparent and open to many different inputs (including a large and effective evangelical lobby on issues like abortion), I feel more confident that I can vote based on the issues that matter most to America as a democratic nation (and without attention to which the USA may well become a permanent part of the history books due to massive government debt, crumbling financial institutions, addiction to oil and a host of other maladies), and have abortion be an issue that can be dealt with later on down the line.

This is a tragic, sinful world we live in, folks. Inevitably there will be battles lost as well as battles won on this side of glory. Choose them carefully, especially if you consider yourselves to be both Christians and citizens of the USA. Single-issue voters, SNAP OUT OF IT. To repeat, unless urgent attention is given to our political, economic, financial and infrastructural malaise, we won't have a functioning country in which to conduct debates about issues such as abortion.

A passage to ponder on the issue of God's priorities:

...you shall say to Pharaoh, "Thus says the LORD: Israel is my firstborn son. I said to you, 'Let my son go that he may worship me.' But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son." (Exodus 4:22-23)

(The LORD was willing to kill all the firstborn of Egypt, many of whom were doubtless just young infants, to accomplish another goal)

Laurie said...

I think Christians are approaching the abortion issue the wrong way. The answer to the travesty of abortion is to bring women into the kingdom of the Son of God, not to impose law. Even if abortion were outlawed tomorrow, thousands would seek abortion anyway.

I notice a distinct lack of emphasis in the New Testament or early church on changing society in any way other than through the transformation of individual lives. The Epistle of Barnabas instructs new converts in the ethics of the "way of light", saying "You [now that you're a follower of Christ] shall cherish your sons and daughters . . . You shall not abort the unborn child in order to avoid the duties of parenthood, nor murder infants, but rejoice in every child as a gift from God." (Epistle of Barnabas, 19). Of course abortion and infanticide were rampant in the Greco-Roman world (read The Rise of Christianity by R. Stark). The early Christians didn't hesitate to call it a sin, but their emphasis and effort was in teaching believers the way of holiness, not trying to change the behavior of the world around them.

I know we live under different governance than the early Christians. We have a vote and a voice. But I can't help but think the apostle Paul would puzzle at our efforts to bring the world into conformity with the Christian ethical ideal when they have not yet come to know Christ.

AG said...

jd walters,
thanks for a great comment i appreciate the sense you make.

KR Carson,
Thanks for a womans perspective, you communicate what i have had trouble doing. It was refreshing and well put and thankyou.

I work in situations where i am constantly surrounded by homeless people and people who 'suffer' and don't have the easy choices most of us on this blog get. Yeah sure its easy to think i am trying to sound all knowing and arrogant, that is far from the truth. I ask the questions to us all because its easy to say do this or do that, but when you work with people i ork with day in and day out who must face physical violance and have heroin addiction and often dont even know where they have been the last 2-3 days of their life, you cant deliver pat answer and inforce morality on their lives. Sure you can sit here Jose and claim a woman should go through an entire pregnancy and then have the baby for adoption...however that is just plain ignorance in my opinion. Jose, you may want to find another site to promote your candidate i am sure the republican party could use another 'soldier' for their campaign :o)
Jose its not about numbers its about the freedom to choose what happens to a womans body. Quoting numbers means nothing, its about fundamentals not figures.
The people on the bottom of the food chain don't have the resources of counciling others do they dont have the same ability to think through things because of long term drug uses effects...some of the people i have worked with have been raped and aborted, simply saying ill help them get over it plain ignorant. The teenage girl who has become pregnant at 13 years old who i have worked with who is in and out of foster care homes, how is she supposed to raise a child at her age? yeah sure, say it can be adopted out but is that really all thats possible so we can wipe our hands of it?
hmmmm....call me what you like people i have been called worse! :o)
i dont claim to be the only one right...but i do hope that at the very least my stance has caued some on here to re-think some of the deepr more complex issues.

To charles loudermilk it must be hard being such a goose...i am sure you make alot of friends for Jesus with that tone...where i come from you sound like a typical 'American' :)
Peace to you all

Bob A. said...

Charles Ray seems to think that I'm sprouting platitudes because I've made it clear that I'm not voting on one issue, his issue, abortion. I can't help but wonder if Charles Ray voted for George W. Bush, twice perhaps, and exactly what he wound up with in exchange for that vote. I contend that well over a million babies have been aborted every year since 2000. I also contend that hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in an unnecessary war in Iraq that our country was lied into and had nothing whatsoever to do with the 9/11 attacks. If Bush's actions are examples of pro-life in action, then I'm unimpressed. And finally, I contend that John McCain is not going to be an improvement over President Bush and that abortion will continue unimpeded. At the same time, we will have to deal with a new war in Iran, which will cause, of course, a return to the draft as in Vietnam days. Also, in case no one has noticed, eight years of Bush's economic policies and lack of regulation has caused our economy to tank. Having said all this, Charles Ray and other one-issue voters should vote for whatever issue is important to them, but a serious look at the last eight years and the current state of this country isn't such a bad idea. Perhaps, Ben Withington's original article was meant as a wake-up call, but some folks just aren't hearing the alarm.

Crossroads ABF said...

Wow, God is for abortion. Now I've heard it all.

Cyber Monday said...

very interesting insight. thanks
jay
cyber monday

Jill said...

AHHH! all you people and your abortion issues! i am totally against abortion but it got to the point where i couldnt even read the rest of the posts! JUST BECAUSE YOU VOTE FOR A PERSON WHO IS PRO-LIFE DOESNT MEAN THEY CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE ABORTION ISSUE WHEN THEY MAKE IT TO OFFICE!! President Bush is pro-life and are there still abortions going on? yes. are women still getting abortions when they are in third trimester? yes. has Bush done anything to stop it? NO. so, case in point...YOU CAN NOT VOTE SOMEONE IN BASED ON JUST ONE ISSUE! its not responsible!

also, i would like to point out that most people that are pro-life (or at least the most that i know) are also for the death penalty! what kind of sense does that make! they are both murder! McCain may be pro-life, but he is also for the death penalty, and that makes NO SENSE to me whatsoever.

Hey Ben, my husband and i are close friends of Darryl Schafer here in MO. i met you when you came to talk about dispensationalism at SBU and it rocked my world and now i tell and encourage people to really find the truth about it. i pretty much rock their world when i tell them, but it opened my eyes to really look into things on my own! thank you so much for that!

José Solano said...

Well, let me try one more time for the sake of perhaps some of the readers wading through many irrational comments.

I must remind some that Obama is not the messiah. He does not walk on water and he cannot resolve all of our planet’s ills. No one can do that. We await the coming of Christ to resolve the incorrigibly sinful state of humanity. I do think that Obama would do some things better than McCain, perhaps in the areas of health and education.

The state of the economy is as much caused by the Democrats in Congress as the Republicans, as it is by the average citizen who spends as if there is no tomorrow and goes deeply into debt and eventual bankruptcy. And it is particularly the responsibility of the lending institutions that freely practice usury and just about give away credit cards and loans to people that can hardly afford to repay them.

There is some effort at a bipartisan approach to resolve this problem but I do not trust politicians in general as most can be swayed by powerful lobbyists. Neither do I believe that the war questions are decided by individuals, not even the president of the US, the so-called commander-in-chief. There is that astoundingly powerful military industrial complex and the multinational corporations that ultimately determine issues of war and world hegemony. No matter who enters the White House these powers will call the shots, literally. There is no way that a president is going to stand up to the joint chiefs of staff and the powerful executives and say “no” when they advocate a course of action.

Where we may have an opportunity to bring about change through a president is in the areas that do not involve significant amounts of money. One tremendously significant category that does not involve much money or world domination conflicts is the wanton slaughter of children that is taking place today, some 45,000,000 and counting by the thousands daily. This is unquestionably the greatest travesty of our times for which I pray there will one day be Nuremburg style trials or at least reconciliation trials as we’ve had in South Africa. For sure I do expect an inevitable Judgment time.

One presidential candidate supports a woman’s “right” to murder her baby, the other opposes it. McCain wishes to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Obama wants it applied to the nth degree. We need one or two more judges in the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade. If Obama gets in forget it, and forget the other non-money issue of marriage being only between a man and a woman.

Let’s protect generations of children from being snuffed out and protect the venerable institution of marriage first and then we can address other problems with a smooth talking Democrat or a more awkward Republican, whatever. If we lose these two big issues we will not have another opportunity for at least a generation, if ever, as Obama stacks the Supreme Court. We leave our children an even more confused world.

Maranatha.

Tiffany said...

Those of you beating the "anti-abortion drum" are using a lot of energy to justify not thinking when all Dr. W asked you to do was think.

There has been a pro-life administration, complete with very conservative Supreme Court justices in place for the last 8 years, and before you blame a Democratically controlled Congress, they've only been there for 2 years. Yes, there were 8 years of Clinton before that (but with a Republican congress for most of it), but before that there were 12 years of Republican rule.

The president has VERY LITTLE to do with overturning Roe v. Wade.

Abortion is a symptom, not the problem. Pro-lifers are trying to put a band-aid on a bullet hole by approaching this from a political perspective. Love women, meet needs, minimize the need for abortion. It's much easier to shout than to journey with a woman and a child.

If you're going to be pro-life, you have to be whole-life. You want all the babies to be born but then they're on their own after that. I don't see that as taking care of the least of these.

Josh said...

God gives us a choice & we call that perfection.

Bob A. said...

Tiffany, I agree with you completely. If I favor pro-life, I favor pro-quality-of-life even more. We've had 12 years of Republican control. Even 2 years of Democratic control of Congress haven't helped the situation much, since Democrats don't have enough votes yet to matter, especially with a president who vetos (and a candidate, McCain, who opposes) a bill that would have insured 10 million uninsured children. A philosophy of trickle-down economics, laisser-faire capitalism, and deregulation of our financial institutions, combined with a neocon theory of premptive war (the Bush doctrine) has reduced the quality of life dramatically, drained our resources to the tune of 10 billion a month in a country we have no right being in, not to mention the cost in life, and has had disastrous effects upon the quality of life in our own country. Our economy is completely busted, our infrastructure is falling apart, our jobs are shipping overseas (and countries are getting tax breaks to ship them abroad, with the support of McCain), our employment levels are sky high, people are having their homes foreclosed in the hundred thousands, our educational system ranks low among industrialized nations, our lack of universal health care insurance is resulting in the personal bankruptcy of many hundred-thousands, and people who vote solely on one issue, abortion, don't seem to realize that desperate women are more likely to commit desperate acts when their quality of life is nil. I contend that under a John McCain presidency, we can expect more wars, more economic woes, no health insurance for the 47 million-and-rising who have none, and far more abortions than we've had even under Bush (, which I calculate is about 11 million). It's no secret that 3/4 of women who have abortions claim economic hardship. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that when the economy plummets, the abortion rate goes up. When a candidate claims he's pro-life, but his voting record indicates that he's anti-quality-of-life except for the wealthiest, those who vote for him probably get what they deserve. (And what they get are MORE abortions and that's just the tip of the iceberg.) I suggest that after eight years of Bush, such voters have learned absolutely nothing, not even that they've been suckered.

Crossroads ABF said...

First of all the Supreme Court is hardly made up of "very conservative" justices, nor has it been in the recent past. Perhaps you're (Tiffany) confused by the fact that some of the less than conservative judges were actually appointed by Replicans. They are not, however, conservative in their practice. Those I'm speaking of are Justices Kennedy (appointed by by Reagan), Stevens (appointed by Ford), & Souter (appointed by Bush 41). Kennedy is somewhat of a wildcard which gives this court balance and if nothing else, unpredictability. Clinton appointees Ginsburg & Breyer are pro-choice. Then you have four who are reliably pro-life in Roberts, Alito, Scalia, & Thomas. Therefore, you're looking at a lot of 5-4 decisions with Kennedy being the key.

You say Bush has done nothing to overturn Roe, and I bring you Chief Justice John Roberts & Samuel Alito, both Bush 43 appointees & both appear to be reliably pro-life. Please forgive them for not having been able to overturn Roe since their confirmations, but Roberts has only been on the court for 3 years & Alito for 2.

Regarding McCain & Obama and their role in this, McCain voted to confirm Roberts & Alito. Obama did not. Rick Warren asked for each candidate's ommissions from the existing Supreme Court, and while it's no surprise Obama would not have nominated Scalia & Thomas, both are reliably pro-life. And given the fact that the next president will almost assuredly nominate one new justice & possibly two, McCain or Obama will have plenty to do with how the high court sees these types of cases going forward.

On another somewhat related note, I'm confused by the posters who think the government should be held accountable & relied upon for all sorts of things like the economy, healthcare, & education, but not the protection of the unborn. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't agree more that we as Christians should help in a lot of other areas besides politics that tend to influence the decision to have an abortion, but it disturbs me that some posters feel as though abortion is not an issue at all for politics or judges.

José Solano said...

"Tiffany, I agree with you completely. If I favor pro-life, I favor pro-quality-of-life even more." (bob a.)

I know that this is meant to sound like a clever intelligent statement but I must say that it is the ultimate of inanities. What quality of life can 45,000,000 babies have whose lives have been callously terminated in the very womb where they had the ideal quality of life? What quality of life can we offer mothers bearing children if we condone their desire to exterminate them?

The logic of such an inane comment must say that we are to snuff out every poor child on earth because you don’t think they have a good quality of life. This is exactly the kind of thinking Hitler proposed when he began to exterminate all those whom he thought had an inferior or corrosive quality of life; the retarded, the handicapped, the Jews, the Gypsies, the Poles, etc. Of course you had no idea of what your comment implies.

You are telling us that we are to wait till we can eliminate poverty and stop wars before we take immediate action to protect the children. Why must you tolerate the snuffing out of babies to improve the quality of life? “. . . You have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good. . . .”

This is not going away and your Obama messiah can do nothing to change it. What he can and will do is encourage the continued slaughter of the innocent, undermine the institution of marriage and promote perverse lifestyles. So as you focus on the so-called “quality of life,” for which there is not a shred of objective evidence that it will improve under an ultra liberal Democrat president, do reconsider: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” It is the supporters of the culture of death and depravity that we as Christians must be opposing. That's what's poisoning the quality of life for the living and for the aborted.

As for your trying to pin the present economic problems on one party I suggest you reread my last email. Your demonizing effort would have us believe that all of the world’s woes were caused by Bush, that McCain would continue that course and that Obama heralds the parousia that will do away with war and poverty. We’ve got to get real and rational when we vote.

Peace.

charles ray loudermilk said...

Bob a. tiffiany and ag. Its quite obvious where you stand. You will not stand for the life of those that are absolutely without power to defend themselves.

I hear fear over "economics" and the drumbeat of fear for mass destruction and people dieing in the streets from starvation. Reminds me of when your media claims tens of thousands are dead in new orleans...didn't quite turn out the way the left had hoped for..

You say: "President bush has done nothing to change abortion, and thousand of women will get abortions even if its ourlawed.." Please, President Bush signed the PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN the first time it came to his desk!!!! 8 Years your beloved bubba REFUSED!!! Can you grasp the truth? Obama thinks legislation that allows a living child from a botched abortion to "DIE". Open your eyes! Anyone with that kind of soul cannot possibly want anything truly for the good of others if He cannot first start with those that have nothing to offer back! Oh wait, perhaps you are that kind of person?

I'm not one issue, however, I prioritize what is the most important, and spending 80 billion a year on pets, or spending 21.4 billion on ICE CREAM is something we can live without. I think our economy can stand to absorb some recesses... and if our quality of life being reduced means no more ice cream..i can live without it, can you? 65% of american adults are obese, why?

Because we have way too much and abuse it.

Let's get more Judges in that can finally deal with the disjustice of roe v wade. It is NOT a constitutional right to kill your baby. It is not a privacy right to kill your baby. Talk to the teenagers who threw their baby into a dumpster.

Does anyone take the words of Yeshua seriously?

charles ray loudermilk said...

Its funny Jose, I don't think anyone read a wise word you wrote.

Hey Ben, what do you think of the clarity that Jose presents as an answer to the voters guide?

Bob A. said...

Jose Solano says that my comments are "inane" when I say that I favor "pro-quality of life" more than "pro-life." (Silly me for wishing to look at a larger picture that actually AFFECTS the abortion rate!) He misses my point completely when I suggest that abortions have, if anything, INCREASED during the Bush years as a result of our falling economy, job loss, etc., and these are reasons actually mentioned by women who have had abortions.

Then he twists my words to suggest that if I don't vote for a candidate with a "pro-life" stance, meaning McCain, this would be, in essence, no different than my recommending extermination of those currently alive but with a poor quality of life, as Hitler exterminated mental defectives, Jews, Gypsies, Poles, etc. (He neglected to mention homosexuals. No doubt an oversight.) Apparently, such logic as Jose demonstrates is NOT inane! Go figure.

And just because I recommend a presidential candidate, Obama, who will work to improve quality of life so that LESS abortions are actually performed puts me on an equal footing with Hitler? At least, this is very logical in Jose's mind.

Crossroads' comments, on the other hand, get to the real meat of the matter, which is the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. He rightfully points out that Bush did manage to get both Roberts and Alito onto the Supreme Court, which was certainly a victory for pro-life advocates. So score one for Bush.

Crossroads knows that Roe v. Wade will not be overturned unless there are enough socially conservative justices on the Supreme Court, which is true. Therefore, Crossroads is presumably another one-issue voter who is voting for McCain because McCain has promised to nominate replacements like Roberts or Alito.

Sounds good, BUT I see several hitches to this argument, even though it makes perfect logical sense as presented.

The first hitch is that Congress will be much more Democratic than it was when Alito and Roberts were nominated to the Court. Congress will be more Democratic than it was even after the 2006 elections. Thus, a President McCain might nominate another Roberts, as he has promised, but he's not going to wind up with another Roberts. Should we then vote based on the candidate's good intentions?

The second hitch is that even if McCain WERE able to get another Roberts onto the Supreme Court and Roe v Wade WERE overturned, it would not mean that abortion was overturned throughout the U.S. at all, since the issue would revert back to individual states. And so, abortion would be overturned in more heavily pro-life states. Those women determined to have abortions would travel to more pro-choice states. (The poorest women might resort to wire hangers and backstreet abortionists, as they did prior to Roe v. Wade, which no doubt would increase mortality.)

So, once again, I suggest that Christians look at the entire picture when voting, rather than this one issue, as if it's the ONLY issue, for reasons I've stated in earlier posts, and for reasons stated by Ben Witherington in his original article.

Ben Witherington said...

Charles:

In general, I often agree with Jose, but I think that of course all of us are selective in the way we observe the priorities of the Gospel. So, while those of you who know me, know I am a strong opponent of abortion, I tend to stress for those who over-emphasize the abortion issue that there is an inconsistency in being pro-life for the unborn, and not being pro-life for the born!

Consider for example, the issue of Darfur and the ethnic cleansing there. We are dealing just as much with the issue of the horrible butchering of innocent life of men women and children in that case, as in the case of abortion. Where is the moral outrage amongst Evangelical anti-abortion advocates about that?

The silence is often deafening, especially when the Gospel and the Bible in general has so much to say quite specifically about protecting widows and orphans and the poor and disenfranchised, but offers us not a single verse clearly urging us to defend the life of the unborn (although that is a necessary implication of a true pro-life ethic that considers every life sacred).

In short, I don't like placing the emphasis in our ethical discussions where the Bible does not place it, and I especially don't like the inconsistency of many anti-abortion advocates who are Johnny one note, and do not see the connections between this issue and other life issues involving war or capital punishment.

Jose does in fact have some thoughtful things to say on various of these issues--and clearly he has thought them through, which is why I am happy to post his thoughts here.

Blessings,

BW3

Brett R said...

BWIII said:


Consider for example, the issue of Darfur and the ethnic cleansing there. We are dealing just as much with the issue of the horrible butchering of innocent life of men women and children in that case, as in the case of abortion. Where is the moral outrage amongst Evangelical anti-abortion advocates about that?
_________________________________

There is plenty of moral outrage, but abortion is perpetrated within our own borders, and allowed by our own government. That is a big difference. Besides, if you are a pacifist as you, I don't know what you can do except to offer aide. I'm not even sure that Just War Theory would dictate intervention.

But, I'm not sure why everybody throws these peripheral issues out there. And the whole idea that it is can't morally protect innocent life unless it also plans to provide for the same is repugnant. Its a talking point of the Christian left that others spew without thought.

Brett R said...

and if our quality of life being reduced means no more ice cream..i can live without it, can you?

Now I am offended. :-)

charles ray loudermilk said...

man o man bob a.

You just don't get it. Has socialism or marxism ever worked? Check Nkorea, cuba, vietnam, Soviet Union... It will not work here either! You liberals think that you'll make everyone economically equal through legislation and inturn become the socialist pig autocrats that stalin and his bunch were and that kimjongill is today. barry is just that, a socialist.

And Ben... how can we possibly help anyone, including darfur when the beam of, legislated to law infanticide on demand, protrudes so far out of our eyes we can see a dang thing! We need to solve the evils in our own house before we can go around telling other people what to do. Should there not be outrage on what is happening in Darfur.. Of course there should be, and there is, however, a small minority even knows it exists.. and what can you or me physically do about it? The only way I know is continue supporting world vision and the work they physically do in Darfur. Let's not look everywhere in the world that needs cleaning up and neglect the very home we live in.

Crossroads ABF said...

Bob,

1. I am far, far from a one-issue voter in my support for McCain. I agree with him on a whole host of issues, but the topic at hand is abortion, and interestingly enough, it gets the most play from those who want to appear objective & thoughtful in discussing their problem with one-issue voters. Those who dismiss one-issue voters who vote based on protecting the unborn might as well just tell these voters to vote for the Democrat, or at least that's how it comes off.

2. You also presume too much in your assessment of how congress might look under McCain & are even more presumptive in when the next president might get his first crack at appointing a new justice. I also have a hard time understanding why you think electing Obama will help many issues the court will deal with.

3. Your incredible assumptions as to what would happen if Roe were to be overturned are a bit over the top, don't you think? I mean one reason so many poor people supposedly died during Katrina is that they weren't able to travel out of the region, and you expect me to believe that poor women wanting an abortion will just head out of town to get one? A bit of a stretch I'd say.

4. I've still not heard a compelling argument why we should so heavily rely on our elected officials to improve the economy, the educational system, & healthcare while going laissez-faire on protecting the unborn.

5. I prayed extensively last night for wisdom regarding this election & for our leaders, and I am committing to praying more regularly for our elected officials no matter which party they are in going forward. I hope we can all do that as well. Many of you are likely doing a better job of it than I have been.

Bob A. said...

First to Charles Ray:

I'm afraid that I can't educate you here as to the differences between socialism and Maxism. Wikipedia might help. As to your question, "Has socialism or marxism ever worked?" I will respond by saying that most European nations are socialistic (NOT Marxist) and they function much better than our nation does. And they provide 100% health care to their citizens as well. I'm a liberal, and I don't happen to know any Marxists. Do you? (The only Marxist example that works, because it's on a small scale, is the Israeli kibbutz.) As for Obama, the last I heard he was a capitalist, but he certainly favors such ideas as universal health care, which is a socialistic concept that I support as well. I also support social security, which is another socialistic concept. (Even the U.S. Post Office is an example of socialism that works.) Also, if you hadn't noticed, we're going to wind up bailing out Wall Street, but then, that's one of the peculiarities of the American form of socialism under Republicans. It's called Socialism for the Wealthy. So are multi-million dollar tax benefits for the wealthy and the corporations, who ship our jobs overseas, and for the oil companies who are making record-breaking profits.

To Crossroads:

Your first point is interesting. Let me present my own view of one-issue voters and how they relate to the Republican Party (RP). Since Reagan in particular, the RP has represented the economic interest of America's most wealthy individuals and corporations, 1 to 2% in terms of population. Reaganomics is the belief that if the top of the economic food chain is taken care of, then money will trickle down to everyone else. (This doesn't always work, if you've been paying attention to the news lately. There's a new link in the food chain, and, unfortunately, we're it.)

But I digress. The problem for Reagan (or more precisely, for Lee Atwater, who was his Karl Rove) was this -- if your party represents the economic interests of the top 1%, how do you get everyone else to vote for you? The brilliant answer was to form coalitions of people with specific interests and to cater to those interests as a part of your platform. As long as these interests didn't injure the economic priorities, there would be no problems (except, as we've seen with illegal immigration that has split the RP). There were many different coalitions. Some were NRA members. Some were Goldwater economic conservatives. Some were neocons. And some, for the purpose of our discussion, were evangelicals or what is often referred to as social conservatives. This is when the marriage between Republicans, whose main concern was the very wealthy, and Christian evangelicals came about. Originally, Christians didn't get much more than lip service. However, over the years, thanks in part to certain televangelists, most notably Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson, the Christian coalition part of the RP became stronger and demanded more for their vote. More and more evangelical politicians were elected, which strengthened the coalition even further. However, the RP economic agenda to benefit the wealthy was still the major governing influence, but the RP found that giving Christians the things they wanted didn't economically detract from the wealthy and these corporations. I suspect that Jesus would have considered this a strange marriage indeed between the money-lenders and the believers. And so, the rich became richer, and the poor became poorer. The economic gap between the haves and have-nots hasn't been this great since the 1920s. Thanks to right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter, Christians also became wedded to laissez-faire capitalism as well, even if the European style of socialism is actually more in keeping with Jesus's teachings regarding the poor. Even health care, which is considered a right as far as the rest of the civilized world is concerned, remains a privilege in America, in which the insurance companies and the lobbyists are the major beneficiaries. I contend that after eight years of Bush, a divorce between Christians and the RP is a necessity. We've seen corruption on a grand scale (Abramoff and associates), the worst of cronyism (Katrina, the Justice Department), the shredding of our Constitution (torture, rendition, secret prisons outside the U.S., Gitmo, spying on American citizens, etc.), hypocritical proponents of family values (David Vitter, Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, etc.), a neocon agenda of unnecessary, preemptive war (Iraq), and, finally, the utter collapse of our economy. I also contend that John McCain has voted with President Bush 90% of the time and has been an outspoken advocate of complete deregulation. (He's also voted against an increase in the minimal wage 19 times, which some Christians, myself included, find offensive.)

As for your second point, I myself wonder sometimes what Obama can do to solve the mess that Bush has made (and that McCain has collaborated in). But more of the same doesn't strike me as the right answer. And yet, as I look around, I wonder if the Second Coming of Christ is what's called for to solve everything that's gone wrong. Still, I'm willing to give Obama a shot, since a real change is needed. (If you wanted to know Obama's specific positions on numerous issues, simply visit his website.) As for abortion, Obama is personally against it, would advocate for adoption, but would also wish to create an environment where the middle class and the poorer class are less desperate than they are in Bush's and McCain's America and less likely to choose abortion as an option.

3. I'm not sure what you find lacking in my assumptions regarding what would happen if Roe were overturned. I already stated that the poorest women would or could not travel to other states, but would possibly resort to backstreet abortions, and other pre-Roe methods of abortion, which, in some instances, would prove lethal. It's the middle class women who would travel to pro-life states, where abortion was still legal. (And just because they can travel to a neighboring state doesn't mean they're well off economically either.)

Your fourth point simply creates an either/or situation. The government shouldn't be concerned with fixing our schools or our economy or our health care as long as abortions are legal and easily obtainable? You're suggesting that if one thing is laissez-fair, it stands to reason ever other social problem should be as well?

I agree with your fifth point that we should pray for wisdom and guidance and try to be supportive of our elected officials, whether they are the ones we voted for or not. One thing you may have noticed about the Bush years is that politics have never been so divisive, bitter, and partisan (at least, not in my lifetime, and I'm no spring chicken). You might also pray for understanding about why this has been so and what the politics of divisiveness really means.

José Solano said...

I tend to agree with you almost completely Dr. Witherington and I learn a great deal from you, especially as you seek to balance left and right with such excellent posts as that of James Howell quoting John Howard Yoder. I certainly agree with you that while many “Evangelicals” are vehemently crying out against abortion there is a deafening silence with regard to the immeasurable suffering in many parts of the world.

Though I may be an abject sinner I say without hesitation that I am as pro-life for the child in the womb as I am for any other child, in Darfur, Somalia or in the ghettos where I was raised. As probably many of us do, I live with the daily guilt that I fail to do enough. I suffer over whether to buy tickets to see La Traviata, sponsor wonderful Gregorian chanters to sing at a local church or send donations to the Mennonite Disaster Service and MCC. And so I contribute to all of them while I pay for my daughters’ piano lessons, etc.

Now, we must remember that the US may well have the highest “quality of life” on earth and yet it has the highest level of infanticide on earth. There is no correlation between poverty and infanticide except where infanticide has been condoned, justified and pushed by Planned Parenthood and the ultra liberal Obama camp. They go into the ghettos and convince the poor and the poorly educated to slaughter their babies while the wealthier middle and upper middleclass see it as a convenience to get rid of any babies their irresponsible lifestyles may have produced.

Again, we are talking about some 45,000,000 real people and each one as valuable before God as your children and my children. The total death toll in Darfur may reach 400,000. Get a sense of proportion. Do the arithmetic.

Our best chance to defeat Roe vs Wade is to defeat Obama.

I’m still thinking about commenting on the significance of wholesome symbols in the White House but it’s late and I must get some rest.

Peace.

Crossroads ABF said...

Bob, I have to laugh at the talking points, but thank you for finally at least proving my point that when you advocate against one-issue voting your goal is to see Christians vote for the Democrat. I appreciate the candor!

I also appreciate your reiteration of the origins of the "Moral Majority", but I've read Cal Thomas' "Blinded By Might" so I'm well aware of the unhealthy wedding. I don't, however, believe the intent of that book was to get Christians to vote Democrat, as I suspect Cal Thomas won't vote for Obama this go-round, but the book has much merit in my view. He states over & over in it that Christians shouldn't remove themselves from politics, nor should they refrain from using political means. It's just that they should do the hard work type things you have mentioned moreso than the political to change hearts. I couldn't agree more, and from what I can tell, you agree with this too.

I do have a question though: Do Republicans have the lobby on building coalitions? Are they the only ones beholden to "special interests"? This type of thing always makes me laugh. Let's be honest, both sides have their pet groups.

I won't go through your laundry list of issues for the sake of time.

I do think it's a bit naive of you to believe that Obama is "personally" pro-life. His record on the born alive act is attrocious. It makes me sick to think about it literally. Babies born despite the attempt to abort them placed in a utility room alone to die. And one of Obama's concessions on this was to propose a special room decorated nicely with a rocker & even a camera so that a family picture could be taken either before or after the baby perishes. Instead of voting to approve the bill, Obama has said that he was uncomfortable with the wording for fear that it might be used against Roe.

You don't think overturning Roe would decrease abortions at the highest rate possible? That's what it sounds like when you tell us about the back alley & the joy rides some will take to states where abortion is legal.

It's not an either or proposition regarding the government's responsibilities. It's just that you & I have very different views on what the priorities of government should be.

I think you're a bit blind to suggest that the origin of the divisiveness of the past 8 years lies with President Bush. Read any number of newspapers, watch the Dems on C-SPAN, you'll see why you perceive the divisiveness to be so high. My point is, it's not all Bush's fault for that. Hatred is a better word. The hatred of our president from so many wing nuts out there is the origin of much of the divisiveness.

It's been eventful.

Bob A. said...

To Crossroads:

You raise a number of issues, but first, let me give you a little idea of my background so that you will better understand where I'm coming from when I talk about my being an advocate for quality-of-life.

Although I'm retired now, I was previously a caseworker for Children and Youth in mainly an inner city environment. My job was to investigate allegations of child abuse, and, in many instances, to share my investigations with the police. On a daily basis, I dealt with horrendous physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and even murder. (There was much emotional abuse as well, but that's one type of abuse that's nearly impossible to prove legally.) I've seen hardened police officers break down and cry as they looked at photos of murdered children. I think I can speak for similar caseworkers across the nation when I say that we didn't have the luxury of crying if we expected to do our jobs effectively. Needless to say, this work has a lot of burn-out victims.

Thus, I come to this debate with a completely different perspective from you. In many of the cases I dealt with, the children would have been better off if they had been aborted rather than born, later to be tortured, beaten, and murdered. Or had their brains nearly bashed out and then survived with severe mental and physical handicaps.

Thus, as a Christian, I tend to be much more concerned with what happens following birth than what happens a month or two after conception.

Since you appear to be married to McCain and the Republican Party, allow me the right to be married to Obama and the Democratic Party. Doesn't that seem fair? After all, you are also suggesting that one-issue voters, those who are pro-life, are invariably voting for McCain, are you not? However, I will refrain from laughing at YOUR talking points, since I've read them before and heard them before.

In response to your question, Democrats also build coalitions (although I think Republicans have done a better job of it as far as winning elections go, at least, up until this election.) But as seen in the 2006 election results, Democrats have been reaching out to more conservative voters than they did in the past. Thus, there's a larger Democratic umbrella than there used to be, which now includes both pro-choice and pro-life advocates, among other issues.

As a Christian, if you put some of the hot-button social conservative issues aside temporarily, particularly abortion, the Democratic Party has done a great deal more to help the poor and the middle classes than the Republicans have done. Social Security, Welfare for those who need it, Medicare and Medicaid are just a few examples. Many of the new conservative Democrats are solidly pro-life (as is my own Democratic Senator). If evangelical Christians object to the pro-choice platform, they might accomplish much more from within than from without. Instead, they continue to be married to the party of privilege, your party, and accept this party's edicts on trickle-down economics as if they were somehow Jesus's words on the Mount. They listen to right-wing pundits, like Rush Limbaugh who throw them some occasional scraps, and buy into such nonsense as single-payer health care is an evil, socialistic thing, despite the fact that 29 other industrialized nations offer their citizens this right as opposed to this privilege. Some of the comments on this forum deal with the so-called evils of liberalism, when one of the major tenets of this "evil" liberalism is to help the needy and the poor. Which party, do you think, Jesus would have belonged to?

Brett R said...

Bob,

By your logic, why don't we do means testing on all pregnant women, and offer to kill any of fetus that is at serious risk.

Also, why do you confuse the duty of the Church to care for the poor with the duties of the government?

Brett R said...

OOPS! My last comment should have said that are at risk, not is.

José Solano said...

Bob a., I cannot respond for Crossroads but I can comment on your general assumptions. I do recognize that you sincerely just don’t get it. That number again is around 45,000,000 babies! Did I say 45,000,000 babies? And a great many of these babies have been “tortured, beaten, and murdered.” Actually they have all been murdered. They have been dismembered and had their brains crushed. You apparently don’t want to focus on this holocaust. I can understand this. It is shudderingly sinister spectacle to ponder in detail.

But as you detail some of the things you have witnessed as a caseworker it is important that you gain a better understanding of what happens to the children in the womb and so read and look carefully: . . . . Well, I changed my mind. I was going to link to photos of aborted babies but it was too painful for me. You can easily find them on line if you wish, and I think you should.

I will share with you this site on Dr. Alveda King’s observations: http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=36566 which supports what I stated earlier. It also compliments this commentary by Eduardo Verástegui
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=13886 (The video is in Spanish but you can read the summary.) We minorities who understand the ghetto life from experience well understand the machinations of Planned Parenthood with respect to minorities and the poor in general.

A final repetition. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat and everyone in my family has been a Democrat. The first time I voted for a Republican president was when I realized how high the stakes were to have family protectors on the Supreme Court. We obtained those through Bush's appointments and we expect others from McCain. These are lifelong appointments but presidents may come and go every four year. If we defeat Obama the Democrats may at last get the picture and offer candidates that do not identify with the culture of death and depravity. Then I can happily go back to supporting Democrats.

Peace.

Bob A. said...

Sorry, Brett, but your so-called logic seems non-existent, if that's the most insightful remark you can come up with. Perhaps, if we elected politicians who cared about the conditions of the poor and actually worked to improve them, there wouldn't be as many desperate, frustrated, often impoverished parents to perform acts of desperation on their children.

Bob A. said...

Jose, I don't speak Spanish, but I've already seen video clips from Parsley or Hagee (I can't remember which) on the alleged horrors of Planned Parenthood. By all means, vote your issue if that's what you feel God would want you to do. I've simply presented my own opinion, and you are certainly entitled to yours.

Brett R said...

Bob,

Granted it was hyperbole, but you did say they would be better of aborted, and that is why you don't vote on abortion. You are implying that you prefer abortion to birth.

I'm sure you don't believe that, but that is the implication.

Josh said...

What verses support the assertion that Jesus wanted his teachings applied by His followers in their religious (church) but not in their civic (government) roles? I've heard this quite a bit but am hazy on the details of the Biblical support.

Ben Witherington said...

Josh, so far as I can see none of Jesus' followers had any governmental roles. Even Levi left behind being a tax collector and followerd Jesus. The early Christians did not participate in Roman government or the military not least because of the pagan religious factors involved in it. But more importantly Mt. 5 is clear, as is the larger context. Jesus' ethic is for his disciples--- not to be applied willy nilly to everyone. Why? Because it is an ethic which presupposes faith in God, empowerment by the Spirit and an ongoing relationship with Jesus. In short it is an ethic for believers. The fact that modern Christians have no problem playing civic roles, even roles that violate Biblical ethical principles says more about their inability to integrate their behavior and roles with the Biblical ethic than anything else.

BW3

Ben Witherington said...

Josh, so far as I can see none of Jesus' followers had any governmental roles. Even Levi left behind being a tax collector and followerd Jesus. The early Christians did not participate in Roman government or the military not least because of the pagan religious factors involved in it. But more importantly Mt. 5 is clear, as is the larger context. Jesus' ethic is for his disciples--- not to be applied willy nilly to everyone. Why? Because it is an ethic which presupposes faith in God, empowerment by the Spirit and an ongoing relationship with Jesus. In short it is an ethic for believers. The fact that modern Christians have no problem playing civic roles, even roles that violate Biblical ethical principles says more about their inability to integrate their behavior and roles with the Biblical ethic than anything else.

BW3

Brett R said...

Josh, I think you are mischaracterizing my position.

My point is that the Church is called to take care of the poor, not the government. In a secular Republic, there is big difference.

Otherwise, our government should also be in charge of taking care of ecclessicastical matters such as heresy trials. That has been done before.

Brett R said...

BW3,

What about the Centurion?

Did the tax collectors had to leave their jobs in order to be followers? Could they not just be honest?

Josh said...

Ben, thanks for the clarification. Would it be wrong then for a Christian to promote His teachings (towards the poor & sick & war & violent & money launderers, etc) being espoused & valued by non-Christian people? It seems odd to say that a gov't body that espouses His teachings is not something that should be supported. Is the idea to value gov't as a model for the Bible's portrait of God as ultimate authority (i.e. freedom of choice to do the right thing, not legislation that prohibits anything "evil," a la Taliban-style)?

Josh said...

Brett, Jesus taught that taking of the poor is good. Ben suggests His teaching was clearly intended as a value (or "good thing") for His follower, but not necessarily for the state's laws. So, did Jesus offer any guidance as to what WOULD be good for the state to do in regards to poverty? If not, would it be reasonable for a Christian to extend it being good for the church AND for the state to care for the poor (not because Jesus said it should be but because of a lack of specific teaching otherwise)?

Ben Witherington said...

Brett if by the centurion you mean the one in Acts 10, the answer is yes, he would have had to lay down his weapons to be a full-fledged Christian because a centurion was required each morning to worship the regimental patron deity. As for the centurion beneath the cross, as the Lukan account of this makes clear, he was not making a Christian confession, he was affirming that Jesus died a noble death and that it was unjust what happened to him for he was a righteous man.

BW3

Brett R said...

Thanks BW3,

That sounds somewhat novel to me.

It is indicated that the Centurion had faith; was it a mere temporal faith, a real seed of faith, or what?

Ben Witherington said...

Again, if you are talking about the centurion under the cross, it is not said that he had Christian faith. For a pagan to call someone a Son of God is something they could say about an emperor, a prophet, a healer, and a host of other people they admired. There were no Christians at this point in human history anyway, if by Christian you mean someone who believed in the death and res. of the Lord. So you need to look at that story from a historical point of view. What could the centurion have meant at that point time? Luke says he meant "surely this was a righteous man". I take that to be correct.

BW3

Ben Witherington said...

Josh the only advice Jesus offered was how his followers should relate to the government (pay taxes, non-resistance), he does not prescribe any policies for the said government. Undoubtedly Jesus was against oppression in any form by anyone, but he was more than a little busy bringing in the Kingdom to worry with legislation for secular kingdoms that are passing away, like ours.

BW3

Josh said...

Jesus was too busy to worry about kingdoms made up of people for whom he loved enough to die in their stead? Whom His followers are inevitably a part of?

Ben Witherington said...

Jesus had his own principles, kingdom, and priorities-- see his speech to Pilate about his kingdom not being of this world, whilst being in it. As the Bible says reform should begin with the house of God, not with secular governments, and so Jesus offers an in house ethic. This does not mean we should not care about matters of state. It does mean that they are entirely secondary for Christians.

BW3

Brett R said...

Brett, Jesus taught that taking of the poor is good. Ben suggests His teaching was clearly intended as a value (or "good thing") for His follower, but not necessarily for the state's laws. So, did Jesus offer any guidance as to what WOULD be good for the state to do in regards to poverty? If not, would it be reasonable for a Christian to extend it being good for the church AND for the state to care for the poor (not because Jesus said it should be but because of a lack of specific teaching otherwise)?

Josh, I think you have a point in some respect, but I think you are missing my point. There are things that the government should do (enforce justice, protect citizens, etc), and there are things that are left for the realm of the Church (discipleship, doctrine, care of the poor). The times that we have mixed these up have usually not been good.

Also, I happen to believe policies such as the great society tend to be bad for the poor overall as they make charity into entitlements. OTOH, certainly the government shouldn't favor the rich as it often does (bailout).

I don't want to get into a whole economics argument here, but I think it should be clear that protecting innocent life if higher on the priority list for the government than is taking care of the poor. Clearly, that is the governments responsibility.

Brett R said...

There were no Christians at this point in human history anyway, if by Christian you mean someone who believed in the death and res. of the Lord. So you need to look at that story from a historical point of view. What could the centurion have meant at that point time? Luke says he meant "surely this was a righteous man". I take that to be correct.L
--BW3


BW3,

I can go along with your exegesis on this matter, although I'm not sure if I agree (or if I am qualified to disagree). My current understanding is of a reformed Presbyterian, so we probably have a different view on how the covenants are joined. You are right there were no "Christians" in the sense that there would be after Christ's reserection, but all believers are joined in Christ.

1 Cor 10:1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Bob A. said...

Brett, it's a fallacy to suggest that if one thing is true under certain circumstances, it must therefore be true under all circumstances. Therefore, if I state that children who have murdered after birth might have been better off not to have been born, it doesn't follow that ALL children are better off not to have been born. Although I am personally against abortion (, meaning, if I were a woman, I would never abort or think of aborting a fetus), I vote based on a lot of other issues, as I have already expressed in other posts.

Brett R said...

Therefore, if I state that children who have murdered after birth might have been better off not to have been born, it doesn't follow that ALL children are better off not to have been born.

That's why I said there would be a mean's test.

Why wouldn't you have an abortion? Why are you personally against it?

Bob A. said...

Brett, in answer to your question, why wouldn't I have an abortion (if I were a woman)? the answer is simple, if perhaps selfish. Due to some possible genetic flaws, my grandmother had insisted that my mother abort me, although my mother obviously refused. However, my grandmother could be overpowering, and I imagine nagged my mother relentlessly on this issue. (The genetic flaws in question were to come out later in an older sibling, not me.) It's also ironic that I became my grandmother's favorite grandchild. If there's some moral to this story, be my guest in figuring it out.

Brett R said...


Brett, in answer to your question, why wouldn't I have an abortion (if I were a woman)? the answer is simple, if perhaps selfish. Due to some possible genetic flaws, my grandmother had insisted that my mother abort me, although my mother obviously refused. However, my grandmother could be overpowering, and I imagine nagged my mother relentlessly on this issue. (The genetic flaws in question were to come out later in an older sibling, not me.) It's also ironic that I became my grandmother's favorite grandchild. If there's some moral to this story, be my guest in figuring it out.


Wow, now that is some testimony. LOL

Glad to hear you made it out alive!

I still don't understand why you are against abortion though?

Bob A. said...

Brett, try to stay focused. I just gave you my reason, selfish though it was. Thus, you can call my reason an emotional response to abortion, based on my being near-aborted, rather than a philosophical or biblical one. But I'm not about to get into a pro-abortion or anti-abortion debate, which deviates from the topic at hand: whether one is a single-issue voter or votes based on many issues. However you yourself decide to vote, I respect your decision, and I simply request the same respect in return.

Brett R said...

Brett, try to stay focused. I just gave you my reason, selfish though it was. Thus, you can call my reason an emotional response to abortion, based on my being near-aborted, rather than a philosophical or biblical one. But I'm not about to get into a pro-abortion or anti-abortion debate, which deviates from the topic at hand: whether one is a single-issue voter or votes based on many issues. However you yourself decide to vote, I respect your decision, and I simply request the same respect in return.

Fair enough, but when you criticize "one-issue" voters, you tried to say that you were against abortion. By your standard, anyone could be against abortion.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have respect for a position that would allow the legal slaughter of innocent life. Sorry.

Bob A. said...

To Brett: That probably explains why you're a one-issue voter, not to mention that you're intolerant of anyone else's point of view or that anything else but abortion matters. And apparently, you're not alone in that view. It seems Dr. Witherington's article was a complete waste of his time, as far as you're concerned.

Brett R said...

To Brett: That probably explains why you're a one-issue voter, not to mention that you're intolerant of anyone else's point of view or that anything else but abortion matters. And apparently, you're not alone in that view. It seems Dr. Witherington's article was a complete waste of his time, as far as you're concerned.

Bob,

I'm not a one issue voter (never said that I was), and I might not even consider abortion the most important issue (its one of them). If I were a one voter issue, I would not have supported Rudy G in the primaries (which I did).

Yes, I'm intolerant of the slaughter of innocents.

Bob A. said...

You're NOT a one-issue voter? Then kindly inform us what other issues besides abortion you're voting on and why you feel your candidate, John McCain, I presume, is the better person for the job.

Crossroads ABF said...

Brett,

Some of our enlightened can't seem to figure out how anyone could support McCain on any grounds except for the fact that he is pro-life & that we are simpletons incapable of viewing the whole picture. I didn't say it before, but I truly don't know any one-issue voters who are Evangelicals. Now granted, that is circumstantial, and I'm not trying to say one-issue voters don't exist, but I think the condescension toward one-issue voters (wherever they are) is rarely an attempt to "make sure people are thinking everything through".

Bob A. said...

To Brett: And, of course, Rudy Giuliani had strongly pro-choice record. So I'm still curious to know what issues you are voting on.

Brett R said...

To Brett: And, of course, Rudy Giuliani had strongly pro-choice record. So I'm still curious to know what issues you are voting on.

Bob, I didn't like the field at all, but I believe Rudy when he said he would pick conservative justices (or he would at least try).

My biggest issues were good executive leadership(which we have lacked), free trade (I'm strongly for it), reasonable immigration reform (more open and regulated borders as opposed to closed and unregulated borders we have now), and foreign policy. Abortion is a big issue for me, but only in that it can disqualify a candidate. Giuliani was close in my view, but given the other candidates, I was hoping for him. Having said that, I voted for McCain in the Texas primary between him and Huckabee as I don't like the Huckster as a Presidential candidate. Paul, Huckabee and McCain were the only ones still running at the time.

You think I am a one issue voter because you have painted a caricature of me.

If you don't hold that abortion is murder, then I can see why you wouldn't agree with me. OTOH, I would hope that you could understand that those that hold to the Abortion being murder (it is) are intolerant of it. Certainly, you would be intollerant of the idea that or murdering five-year olds if their mother didn't want them.

You seem to be making the argument that the protection of innocent life isn't that important as you having said that a fetus is or isn't innocent life. But, I'm not real sure as you have been too busy with the ad-hom.

Bob A. said...

To Crossroads: Well, if you look over these posts, what are some of the other issues raised by those who say they're voting for McCain based on his pro-life stance. (By the way, when we look at McCain's lack of much interest in religion, some of us might regard his pro-life stance as a pander for votes. Obama, on the other hand, attends church regularly and has written extensively about his religious experience.) As for the one-issue voters, I'm only going by what I've read in these posts. If I've missed something, I apologize. Please correct me and let me know what these other vital issues are.

José Solano said...

"If I've missed something, I apologize." Bob a.

The defense of marriage! I said it before clearly. For the sake of not confounding the meaning of marriage, to maintain the DOMA and to help pass marriage protection amendments we must vote for McCain/Palin.

Apology accepted.

Crossroads ABF said...

Bob, take a poll. See what the others who like McCain see in him. I bet you will be surprised. Jose mentioned marriage. That's a different issue than abortion. Brett just mentioned a ton of issues. I don't feel like justifying my vote for him any further because in my view, the choice between the two candidates is that clear.

You're the first pro-Obama person I've seen bring up Obama's church attendance in a long time. Has he found a new church since he stood up for, and then when it was no longer politically expedient to do so, stomped on, his former pastor?

Brett R said...

Obama, on the other hand, attends church regularly and has written extensively about his religious experience.)

While I can accept that Obama is a Christian, and that McCain may not be, I will vote for the person that I think can best execute justice in the land.

Notice I didn't vote for Huckabee, and I think he is a solid Christian. I almost never vote for populists.

AG said...

crossroads,
that is a low blow...how can obama be responsible for what his pastor does or does not do? come on...if you cannot accept regular church attendence as at least in part a sign of ones committment to christ then goodness we have lost the plot...yeah sure his pastor may have been a goose...but that does not mean Obama follows his views.
Fair go, judge other as you judge yourself...guess you have never found yourself in a bad situation have you crossroads?

Bob A. said...

To Jose and Crossroads: Although I am a widower now, I had a long, fulfilling marriage and never believed that my marriage required any "defense." I find DOMA repugnant, bigoted, and homophobic, and can't wait until it goes the way of the DoDo.

In fact, I highly admire Brad and Angelina for refusing to marry one another until every gay person in America has that same right.

I know this may come as a great shock, but seriously, guys, I know plenty of other Christians who feel as I do. I'm sorry if in your eyes that makes us less than Christians, but it's my personal belief that Jesus was a bit more inclusive and less judgmental than you are.

Crossroads ABF said...

AG, I disagree. My question is legitimate since Bob brought up Obama's church attendance & decided with no proof whatsoever that McCain's "little interest in religion but pro-life stance" is somehow pandering for votes. Talk about a baseless low blow. Here we have a professing Christian who is pro-choice (Obama), and his stance is legitimate. Then we have a pro-life candidate whose interest in faith is admittedly somewhat hazy, but his stance is one of pandering.

For the record, I didn't bring up church attendance or faith at all, and I'm frankly surprised that someone would. It's ironic in a way.

José Solano said...

Well bob a., that's it. You've let it all out now.

With all due respect for you as a person, your thinking about Christian ethics is thoroughly confused and so your choice of Obama is fully understandable.

Homosexual conduct by Christian standards is simply an abomination. A homosexual “marriage” is an oxymoron and a biological impossibility. It undermines all marriage by making a mockery of marriage. For an excellent think tank on this issue I highly recommend my blog the Opine Editorials: http://opine-editorials.blogspot.com

Peace.

Bob A. said...

To Jose: By YOUR "Christian" standards, homosexuality is an abomination, but there are quite a few liberal Christian churches that are inclusive of everybody. (Ditto for Jewish congregations.)

I've actually studied the Old Testament, where this alleged "abomination" is first mentioned, as you know. First of all, the Old Testament evolved over time, and the Jewish religion went through many changes between the earlier books and the time of the prophets. For example, take, "I am the Lord Thy God; Thou Shalt have no other gods before me." Originally, this meant exactly what it says, because the concept of universality or "one God only" didn't exist and only came into being at the time of the Prophets. Originally, this first Commandment meant that there's only one God that counts for MY people, and you'd better not worship any of those other ones. This indicates that a religion's development is within an historical context and that it can actually change as mores and beliefs evolve over hundreds of years.

Additionally, the anti-homosexual laws in Leviticus were written by several different people. In one version, homosexuals were to be put to death. In a second version, homosexuals were to be exiled from the community. (Of course, both of these laws only applied to male homosexuals, since females were little better than chattel, and what they did together really wasn't relevant, as long as they were obedient to their husbands.)

The anti-homosexual laws were just one small part of a larger section of laws that dealt with wasting one's seed. In an historical context, the Jewish people were a relatively small group that was constantly at war with its neighbors. If a man lived to 30, he was doing very well.

Consequently, it was a duty for the early Jews to have as many children as possible and any sexual act that wasted one's seed or sperm was strongly forbidden.

When folks such as yourself go after homosexuals, you are, quite frankly, cherry-picking your way through the Bible. The most famous story about wasting one's seed is the story of Onan, who was struck dead by God for spilling his seed on the ground. This meant that he was using what's known as the withdrawal method of birth control, but Onan's story has also been used to point out the evils of masturbation, which also result in wasting seed and not bearing children.

Thus, are you as vehement in your condemnation of Christians who practice any form of birth control or who masturbate as you are of homosexuals? (If you are, whatever church congregation you belong to must be very small indeed.) Who knows? Maybe even YOU, Jose, are guilty of having wasted your seed at one time or another.

The point is this. Underpopulation is no longer the problem it was in early Jewish times.

Since you're cherry-picking anyway, you might choose to ignore the Old Testament completely and point to the sayings of Paul in Romans. If you use that line of attack, don't forget that Jesus was long dead by the time Paul came around and that Jesus himself never uttered a single word against homosexuals.

My major argument still holds. Religion evolves as times evolve. And you either condemn ALL acts that waste seed or you don't.

José Solano said...

My dear Bob a.,

Your attempt to justify homosexual conduct by bizarre misinterpretations and distortions of Scripture is so ludicrous that I can hardly begin to respond. I will allow Dr. Witherington to respond to some of your claims if he wishes. As it is clear that you have thoroughly bought into contemporary rationalizations and fabrications that would deny how detestable homosexual conduct was in Scripture, in ancient Israel and in the teaching of the early Christian church, I highly recommend that you read Dr. James B. De Young’s work: Homosexuality, Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law.

I will say that you thoroughly confound the fact that we are sinners who may do any number of sinful acts with the justification of sin. As Christians we may be abortionists, polygamists, adulterers, etc., but the major problem for ourselves and for society arises when we seek to justify our sins rather than confess them. It is a sin whether you commit adultery in your mind or through your physical actions, and both require repentance.

Now, if homosexuals wish to live in sin we cannot under the laws of our democratic nation prevent this any more than if you wish to engage in orgies can it be prevented. But, to call that sexually aberrant relationship “marriage”, which by definition requires that complementarity of the sexes that offers the possibility of responsible procreation, is simply to insult and mock the institution of marriage.

And this is where the line is drawn in our present culture war. Will we allow the deconstruction of marriage and the ongoing slaughter of the innocents or work to stop it? The best way to stop it, in my opinion, is to vote for McCain/Palin.

Bob A. said...

To Jose: In other words, you're still cherry-picking as you choose homosexuality as one of the major sins of the Bible. You have provided not a shred of evidence to suggest that anything I wrote is invalid. (As earlier televangelists like Falwell and Robertson figured out, it was far easier to fill their coffers by pointing judgmental fingers at a minority group that did NOT include their viewers than to point fingers at these same viewers for their own "seed-wasting" sins. But since you're darn proud of your bigotries, let's move on.

Let's progress to the sanctity of marriage. As you may be aware, Barack Obama (MY candidate) just celebrated his 16th anniversary to his ONE-and-ONLY wife, Michelle.

Now let's take a look at the sanctity of marriage issue in regard to YOUR candidate, John McCain. In 1965, John married a model named Carol Shepp, a truly beautiful woman who might be referred to as "trophy wife." In December, 1969, while John was a prisoner in Vietnam, Carol was involved in a serious car accident. Overnight, her physical beauty was gone forever. When John returned from Vietnam, he was unfaithful to Carol with a number of women. However, it wasn't until John met Cindy Lou Hensley, a beautiful and extremely rich beer distributorship heiress, in April, 1979, that John got seriously involved with another gorgeous woman. TEN MONTHS of FORNICATION and ADULTERY later, in February, 1980, Carol agreed to give John a divorce so that he might marry the lovely Cindy.

So much for the "sanctity" of marriage. (Oh, and in case you ever bother to actually read the Ten Commandments, you might discover that homosexuality is NOT one of the BIG TEN, but ADULTERY is.)

Doug said...

Full disclosure:

Like an earlier poster, I do not vote. I do not believe that Christians should vote. I support neither McCain nor Obama. With that said, I find the wedding of the religious right to the Republican party utterly repugnant.

To Crossroads ABF - You raised the following question: “Has he found a new church since he stood up for, and then when it was no longer politically expedient to do so, stomped on, his former pastor?” This is rich. The religious right should feel no shortage of shame over its roll in this matter, yet you still question. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for him. Your question proves the point. By the way, it was never politically expedient, even when Obama showed his loyalty. And his motivations for finally doing so are not known to me, as they apparently are to you. Perhaps he wanted to spare his church further scrutiny and criticism from the spotlight the media and the religious right were placing on it? I can’t say, can you?

To Brett R – You consider it a big difference that abortion is perpetrated within our own borders, and allowed by our government as opposed to Darfur. I find it distasteful to qualify the importance of a life issue on the geographical location of the lives being lost. You are unaware of what a pacifist could offer other than aid and aren’t sure Darfur would qualify for military intervention under just war theory. I suppose our hands are tied? Instead of Darfur let me ask you about Iraq. Is this a just war in your mind? Or does it not matter because it isn’t within our borders even if we are the perpetrators? Someone who voted for Bush in 2004 would seem to have innocent Iraqi blood on their hands, if we follow through with some of the hyperbole posted here.

To bob a. – Your view on homosexuality here seems entirely lacking. While your Old Testament view may have merit (I can’t say as I haven’t thought about it or researched it enough), your view of Paul is entirely without. Are you suggesting we should disregard everything except what Jesus said? If he didn’t say explicitly that something is wrong then it should be accepted? Does the faith evolve such that eventually contradicts itself? I can’t go to these places with you, and I hope there aren’t many who do. Is Jesus inclusive? Jesus said the road was narrow and few would make it. Is he tolerant? No, but He is loving. He would hang out with a prostitute, tax-collector, or worse, but He certainly didn’t condone their behavior.

For those who keep referencing Obama’s poor voting record in regards to infanticide, your eagerness to abuse Obama on the issue is maligned by your apparent ignorance of the complexity of the issue. The Illinois’ bills were all definition bills. None of them would have impacted actual practice. Regardless of how a life comes into this world, botched abortion or not, doctors are required by law to try and save the baby if it can possibly live, whether artificially or on its own. Please explain to me how the proposed bill would have saved any more “born alive” babies. Show me one example where this occurred legally that the bill would have prevented. Before accusing someone of infanticide I assume that each of you has already thoroughly performed this type of research, so it should be fairly simple. I know you would not malign the man without the evidence to back up your claim. Obama’s stated concern, as I understand it, was with protecting the right of a woman to choose abortion, and he felt that the bill was an attempt to undermine this from a legal perspective. This is far different from supporting infanticide.

I find the discussion of whether people here are one issue voters quite peculiar. BW3 provides a post suggesting that one should weigh all the issues. Multiple respondents seem to suggest that one issue, abortion, is so weighty that it tips the scales. Then these respondents, excepting Jose who apparently has two weighty issues, feel offended when people suggest that they are one issue voters. The after the fact addition of other issues on the side of the scale with abortion doesn’t seem, to me at least, to present a broad consideration of the issues. I would be more impressed if someone simply owned up to their view, if indeed I am reading it correctly, and say that this one issue is so important that outweighs all else. Jose seems to do this with his two weighty issues. But, impressing me truly isn’t important. Being intellectually honest is, though.

It certainly seems to be a reasonable position to say that one or two issues outweigh all else. I would like to hear, though, how it is that someone can vote for a candidate who supports Republican policies: the further enabling of the oppression of the poor by the rich; the increased expansion of preventative war resulting in lost innocent lives and injuries; the continued use of torture; the dismantling of welfare programs for the poor? The list goes on. As already pointed out many times, a list can easily be formed for the Democrats policies as well. But it goes both ways. If the church pushes for the government to implement policies and laws consistent with the kingdom, then it should be consistent in doing so. If some issues are of much greater weight than others, then there should be some sign that the other issues have been considered and weighed.

Also, to those who vote for McCain/Palin, I have a simple honest inquiry. From the moment Palin came onto the national scene she was presented as a gift to the moral majority. Her faith, as with Bush, has been mentioned multiple times by her and is an identifiable part of her campaign. From the moment of her first speech she told multiple lies and has continued her prolific lying ever since. This is easily demonstrated should anyone need proof. How do you feel about voting for a candidate such as this? How will her possible vice presidency impact the church given its foundation on her faith and her lies? How do you factor this into your process?

Ummm… I believe I have rambled here and my written filibuster is more than I care to reread. I only hope it is coherent.

Shalom,
Doug

Brett R said...


To Brett R – You consider it a big difference that abortion is perpetrated within our own borders, and allowed by our government as opposed to Darfur. I find it distasteful to qualify the importance of a life issue on the geographical location of the lives being lost. You are unaware of what a pacifist could offer other than aid and aren’t sure Darfur would qualify for military intervention under just war theory. I suppose our hands are tied? Instead of Darfur let me ask you about Iraq. Is this a just war in your mind? Or does it not matter because it isn’t within our borders even if we are the perpetrators? Someone who voted for Bush in 2004 would seem to have innocent Iraqi blood on their hands, if we follow through with some of the hyperbole posted here.
-Doug


Doug,

Please don't misunderstand me, I do think this issue is as important abortion, but it is not something our Government has nearly as much influence over. The fact that it is happening doesn't mean we cannot campaign to make abortion illegal.

I'm not sure if our hands are tied or not, but I'm not sure if our actions would help or hurt.

Iraq - not sure that it has a bearing on this issue, but I will give you my opinion.

If it was to build democracy, then it was not just. If was because of WMDs, it might have been a just war, especially since they have consistently broken every treaty they signed. There has been a lack of discussion of jus as Bellum on all sides. OTHO, they weren't really a sovereign country as the military was not allowed to go anywhere they wanted, nor were they allowed to fly anywhere they would like (we could shoot them down by treaty).

Doug said...

Brett R,

If I remember correctly the question was why there was no moral outrage over Darfur. You responded that abortion was allowed by our government and within our borders. I brought up Iraq because it is within our purview.

On the issue of it being a just war, I find your response to be a little troubling. Regardless of the stated reason this is not a just war. It is widely acknowledged that an entirely new policy was put into practice when we attacked Iraq. It is generally referred to as the Bush Doctrine. It is a policy of preventative war. It is widely recognized that if someone is threatening you with a gun and you shoot and kill them that you have done so in self-defense. Try telling the court that you shot someone because you thought they might go get a gun and after doing so they might try to kill you. You will be in jail. It is impossible to justify this war on any of the basis given. War waged on this basis cannot possibly meet the “last resort” criteria.

Iraq is an issue that our government has control over. And votes for Bush have extended the occupation and resulted in more deaths. McCain has endorsed the policy and made public comments regarding the same towards Iraq. He even sang a little song about it. Palin professed support as well.

I’m not sure how to take your comment that they weren’t a sovereign country since we waged a war against them for the express purpose of defending our economic interest and then forced them into a treaty whereby we could shoot their jets down should they decide to fly them. It is war waged regardless of this is it not?

There is a lack of discussion of jus ad bellum precisely because the very people who purport to want a culture of life are disingenuous in their claims. A culture of life would at the least require a strong resistance to the waging of any war and downright outrage over this one. If there was a culture of life there would be plenty of discussion of jus ad bellum within the church. If there were a culture of life the morality of the death penalty would be front and center as well. I realize that this is anecdotal, but I live in the Bible belt and do not know a single Christian who can provide coherent, consistent responses to these questions (outside of contacts at seminary, and most of them are professors). And they certainly aren’t considered to be important on the national level. Does the religious right truly support a culture of life? If they do, I can’t tell it. Perhaps the slogan pro-birth would be more appropriate.

Shalom,
Doug

Bob A. said...

To Doug: You write, "He [Jesus] would hang out with a prostitute, tax-collector, or worse, but He certainly didn’t condone their behavior."

But unless I'm mistaken, he also said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and "Judge not, lest ye be judged."

The sort of Christians who have turned homosexuality into a major issue are playing at being God when it comes to judging others, are they not? They also, as you rightly point out, frequently vote for the political party that dedicates itself to the well-being of the wealthy and privileged, certainly not to the poor and middle classes. And after eight years of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, they're still doing it.

As for Paul, there is much modern theological debate that many of the 13 letters were not even written by him. But assuming that they were, which is a large assumption, Paul urges slaves to be obedient to their masters (a major justification for pre-Civil War slavery), for women to be subordinate to men, for women to remain silent in church, that sexual behavior is a concession to weakness, and that it's better to stay single, as Paul was, but if one has problems regarding lust, it's better to marry than to burn. Paul's theological doctrines have often replaced Jesus's teachings for many fundamentalists, even while such doctrines frequently have little if anything to do with Jesus's teachings. There are many Christians who regard Paul as a social and sexual conservative and choose not to worship him as they do Jesus. I am one of these.

Brett R said...

I’m not sure how to take your comment that they weren’t a sovereign country since we waged a war against them for the express purpose of defending our economic interest and then forced them into a treaty whereby we could shoot their jets down should they decide to fly them. It is war waged regardless of this is it not?

My point is that they lost their sovereignty in the first Gulf war, and violated their treaties before the second.

I believe that it is possible that a preemptive strike could be just. For example, if a country is threatening to exterminate you and developing the weapons to do so. I'm not saying that this is the situation in Iraq, but believe that preemptive war could be just.

I don't want to debate Iraq as I am not really sure if Iraq is just or not, and I the answer at this point is merely academic. I'm pretty sure it wasn't a good idea.

Coherence on the culture of life?

Protect innocent life, which means abortion is illegal, war should be on just grounds alone, and the death penalty can be used to punish the guilty in order to protect the innocent. You don't have to agree, but protecting innocent life is coherent.

You are probably right on the reasons for the lack of discussion, but the left doesn't discuss it either. Perhaps they are Pacifist or perhaps they just don't care.

Yes, that was anecdotal, and not very helpful.

Still the shear number of abortions and the innocence of the victims would outweigh the debates on just war. In fact, by the logic here, if any pro-choicer is harping about the war, I should be able to say, "how can you gripe about the war when there are over 1 Million babies being slaughtered every year." Of course, I don't buy into that fallacy. Wrong is wrong.

PS - if someone is threatening you with a gun, you DO have the right to take their life. You don't have to wait for them to shoot. Your example would actually support the idea of preemptive war.

Brett R said...

Well, there you go Bob...

Of course the Gospels weren't written BY Christ, so you could probably cast those out to.

At least we know your true colors. That is denying the canon of scripture.

Doug said...

Brett R,

I understand your point about sovereignty and treaties, but am unsure how you intend to relate that to just war. I am also unsure how you missed the point on preventive war. I specifically stated that it is commonly accepted that if you shoot someone who is threatening you with a weapon you have done so in self-defense. The danger was imminent and of course they don’t have to shoot you first. I agree completely that a preemptive war as you describe it could meet just war criteria. That isn’t what happened in Iraq. We attacked because they might get weapons and they might decide to point them at us and they might try to hurt us one day. Very different! I know you say you don’t want to talk about Iraq, but I think you need to understand that isn’t only academic. Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. Furthermore, lack of understanding of these subjects got us into this mess the last time; you should be prepared for the next time.

I don’t find you philosophy on culture of life, as you present it here, coherent and consistent. First, your gloss of the subject lacks depth. Second, your concept of “innocent life” needs a lot more explaining. Is mine an innocent life? Is yours? What does this mean theologically? Third, you are apparently making some assumptions that are unknown to anyone who reads this.

On the death penalty you must be assuming that only the guilty are actually executed since you don’t deal at all with an innocent person being wrongly executed. But, the execution of innocent people (innocent means not guilty of the crime for which they are being executed in this context) is a well documented fact. Is it worth murdering innocent people so that we can kill some guilty ones? If so, how does this jive with your culture of life?

How do you develop your view that abortion is wrong? It isn’t stated as such Biblically. I am unaware of any passage that could be used directly without bringing in further complications, but perhaps you know of one. Is it always wrong, or is it okay for rape and incest? Why is there sanctity to life? Why does it have value? Is it intrinsic? All of this matters for the issue of consistency. I want to know how you can reason that abortion is wrong, but war and the death penalty can rock on?

In your brief culture of life war should be on just grounds only. How does this compare to Jesus’ example of taking up His cross? Doesn’t war result in a magnificent loss of “innocent” life?

From what I know now I am tempted to lump you in with everyone else I know who professes a culture of life, but I hold out hope that you might teach me something here on BW3’s blog. :)

Ummm… who cares if the left doesn’t discuss it? Should the church refuse to do its job because the left isn’t doing it for them? I’m not left. I am a pacifist. And my point was that the religious right doesn’t care, thereby making the culture of life nothing more than rhetoric. That boats got holes in it and you’d better start bailing water before it’s too late!

Are we doing the pointless number comparison? You pulled your fuzzy statistics out, so let’s go with it. In 2005 1.2 million babies were aborted in the US. Since many states have trigger laws in place making abortions fully legal in the event Roe is overturned, the effort to elect a President at all costs who will appoint judges that might, but not necessarily, overturn Roe will not likely result in a large decrease of abortions. So the numbers comparison isn’t as simple as you want to suggest.

I’m not a pro-choicer. I’m not left. I don’t buy into the fallacy either. Wrong is wrong. That’s why I don’t understand how you can be so disinterested in the morality of the Iraq war and so gung-ho on abortion! Again, the reason for the lack of discussion on the war is because the “culture of life” is only a slogan! And sanctity of life only makes people feel good and holy about their position. I cannot tell where anyone is applying this philosophy in a manner that is both coherent and consistent. (Obviously there are some who do.)

My anecdotal evidence may have been anecdotal (obviously), but I know a lot of people and constantly talk about these issues wherever I go, thereby losing most of my “friends” :(. None of them aside from those already mentioned, and no one I have discussed this with recently, has said or shown me anything to change my mind.

My second written filibuster has come to an end.

Shalom,
Doug

Bob A. said...

To Brett: First of all, Doug's comments to you in his last post are right on the money. Your alleged ignorance concerning Iraq is a joke, unless you've been living in a cave.

And secondly, you appear to think in fallacies, if at all. Your false logic is that if I don't accept much of what Paul said or is alleged to have said, it follows that I must reject the entire New Testament because the gospels weren't written as an autobiography by Jesus. In short, if I don't accept Paul, then Jesus must go out the window.

With that type of ludicrous "logic," it's little wonder you support the political party of rendition, kidnapping, secret prisons, and torture -- and that's just for starters. Also, the party of Gitmo, the erosion of civil rights, the spying on American citizens, Abu Ghraib. Also, the party of cronyism (Katrina) and corruption (the Abramoff scandals), manipulation of the media (the Valerie Plame affair, Jeff Gannon, etc.) and alleged "family values" (Foley, Haggard, Vitter). Also, the lies that got us into the premptive war in Iraq, including the completely false connection between Iraq and 9/11, and the intentional lies concerning WMD.

Doug said...

bob a.,

I certainly do not agree with your treatment of Pauline epistles. I recognize that Paul did not write them all, but this does not trouble me as to their canonicity. BW3 could more properly address this issue, but I’m pretty sure he has already in one of his books, or could easily refer you to a good resource.

I don’t think Christians who have turned homosexuality into a “major issue” are playing God, but I do think they are revealing a prejudice and engaging in persecution. I’ll explain that in a moment and certainly don’t mean to apply it to all, and I certainly have no insight into the people posting here.

Let’s go ahead and set aside all but the gospels. I think Matthew 7:1 must be one of the most misappropriated verses in the Bible. Let’s be clear about what it doesn’t say before we talk about what it does say. It doesn’t say that “you won’t be judged by God if you don’t judge others.” It doesn’t say “do not judge” or that “you shouldn’t judge.” In fact, judging is presupposed in the very next verse (cf. Mt 7:6; 7:15-20; 16:6). 7:2 informs verse 1 and tells us that fair judgments should be made.

Christians are not stepping on God’s toes when they judge, but they may be judging in a manner that isn’t fair. In fact, I think this is often the case. Without assuming too much about commenters here, whom I don’t know, I’ll talk in general terms using a stereotype informed by people I actually do know down here in the buckle of the belt.

Before I can get too far into this I must offer up what I find to be a fairly strong indictment of homosexuality. Throughout the Bible God (God in OT, Jesus in NT) uses the motif of marriage to describe His relationship with the people of God. The people are His bride. The motif assumes a marriage between a man and a woman as the model. This is not the only instance of this type of thing being done. In our lives we model these things and should appropriately model this relationship as a part of our witness. I certainly don’t think my poorly explained reasoning stands alone since I don’t discount the Pauline epistles. But, I do find relevance in it. I would love to hear BW3’s thoughts on this, as I’m sure he could do more justice to it or set me straight. :)

Jose mentioned the defense of marriage act, with which you vociferously disagree. I could care less about it, but I am concerned about the way people who push it reflect on the church. However, I generally find the “do this at all costs approach” to be what Matthew 7:1-5 was actually discussing. Christians tend to demonize homosexuality in a way that they do not do with other sins. They do this by singling it out. The defense of marriage act will do nothing to lower the divorce rate or prevent adultery. Perhaps divorce proceedings resulting from adultery could weigh more heavily in favor of the person whose spouse was unfaithful, the one who didn’t breach the contract. But who’s outraged over the divorce rate? Who’s pushing for national laws to save marriage from this epidemic? No one, so far as I can tell. A sermon mentioning homosexuality is resolute, but divorce is treated in a more understanding and forgiving fashion. Sure it’s wrong, but since half, or more than half, of the adult congregation has had one it is understood as a reasonable offense; an unfortunate side-effect of the human condition. Eradicate homosexuality and treat homosexuals differently, but always act loving towards divorcees and understanding about their difficulties? If the cognitive argument is similar, the emotive argument certainly is not. Marriage seems to need defending from the group trying to protect it as well.

And this is where I see the second problem. Many Christians are very concerned with the national laws concerning homosexual marriage. But I see no outcry about the divorce rate inside the church! This just doesn’t make sense to me. What sanctity of marriage is there when the church is divorcing at the same or greater rate than the secular world? How can the church possibly be more judgmental about the laws of a secular institution than the conduct of the church? Though you don’t like the Pauline texts, 1 Corinthians 5 seems to say something to us regarding the judging of those inside and outside of the church. Purity of the people of God is a common theme in the Bible. Is purity of the secular world?

So, no, I can’t see how they are possibly playing God. But, I do find the inequitable treatment disconcerting.

Full disclosure:
I find homosexuality to be a sin, and do not find any arguments against this thinking to be compelling. I have several friends and at least one family member who are homosexuals. None of them are Christian. I respect them and appreciate them, I do not hide that I disagree with their choice (I believe it’s a choice, though not in any useful way).

P.S.
The sanctity of my marriage doesn’t need defending from the federal government or homosexuals. They cannot do a single thing to degrade it. My marriage is sanctified because of my relationship with Christ, my wife’s relationship with Christ, and the role faith plays in our marriage. How can this possibly be impugned by any secular activity?

Shalom,
Doug

Crossroads ABF said...

Bob wrote:

"With that type of ludicrous "logic," it's little wonder you support the political party of rendition, kidnapping, secret prisons, and torture -- and that's just for starters. Also, the party of Gitmo, the erosion of civil rights, the spying on American citizens, Abu Ghraib. Also, the party of cronyism (Katrina) and corruption (the Abramoff scandals), manipulation of the media (the Valerie Plame affair, Jeff Gannon, etc.) and alleged "family values" (Foley, Haggard, Vitter). Also, the lies that got us into the premptive war in Iraq, including the completely false connection between Iraq and 9/11, and the intentional lies concerning WMD."

All I can say is LOL! Too many ridiculously overstated untruths to even begin to respond. Open your eyes. You have some audacity to lecture others on buying into a particular political side.

Doug wrote:

"To Crossroads ABF - You raised the following question: “Has he found a new church since he stood up for, and then when it was no longer politically expedient to do so, stomped on, his former pastor?” This is rich. The religious right should feel no shortage of shame over its roll in this matter, yet you still question. It was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for him. Your question proves the point. By the way, it was never politically expedient, even when Obama showed his loyalty. And his motivations for finally doing so are not known to me, as they apparently are to you. Perhaps he wanted to spare his church further scrutiny and criticism from the spotlight the media and the religious right were placing on it? I can’t say, can you?"

Why is it the religious right's fault that Obama's pastor made ridiculous remarks thus making a difficult ordeal for Obama in how to handle this relationship? Also, are you aware that Rev Wright predicted--and Obama agreed--that Obama would likely have to distance himself from Rev Wright if he made an attempt at gaining the presidency quite some time before he actually did? Was this because the entire country is comprised of the religious right or just an up & coming bloc of the Democratic Party? LOL Again, this is great comedy, but the topper is that you somehow believe that Obama didn't distance himself from this guy for political means. If he actually distanced himself from Wright because of sincere outrage over the remarks, why didn't he do it sooner, such as shortly after 9/11 when Wright made similarly ridiculous remarks? Here's a summary:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/29/politics/main4056166.shtml

I think we can all agree that CBS is no vehicle of the religious right.

I'm not aware of the lies you speak of with regard to Palin. Please expound.

Bob A. said...

To Crossroads:

To my litany of crimes and abuse regarding Bush, Cheney, and Co., you respond with:
"All I can say is LOL! Too many ridiculously overstated untruths to even begin to respond. Open your eyes. You have some audacity to lecture others on buying into a particular political side."

Do you think that sadly pathetic comment gets you off the hook from actually pointing out in what way my comments are "ridiculously overstated untruths"? Guess again.

No. You'd much rather see a continuation of these policies with a man who offers no plans other than Bush's and his imbecilic sidekick, who is painfully unfit for one of the highest positions in the land. (Palin: “Say it ain’t so, Joe! There you go pointing backwards again ... Now, doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?”)

And God help US!

Bob A. said...

To Doug:

Although I may not agree with you on a number of issues, you have taken the time to respond with thoughtfulness and care, and I do respect you for that far more than some of the other contributors.

I don't know if you're a student of history at all, but one of the major rationales for the institution of slavery in this country were the words by Paul on this subject. Personally, I wouldn't wish to own slaves and I don't take Paul's words on that issue any more seriously than I would his views regarding the subservience of women or of homosexuality.

As you've probably figured out, I'm not a fundamentalist and don't accept the Bible in a completely literal way. As for the New Testament, I have no problem at all with throwing out the bath water if I can keep the baby. Thus, I try to pay far closer attention to the words ascribed to Jesus than to the dictates of Paul that I disagree with. If that makes me a heretic to some, then I plead guilty.

I agree with a lot of what you've said in regard to marriage as it is described in both the Old Testament and the New. You have also pointed out quite rightfully that instead of many churches dealing with such issues as high divorce rates, they would rather point fingers at an easy scapegoat, those gay and lesbian people who would like to get married themselves, and to have the same 1000+ federal benefits that any other married couples in this country can enjoy. It's simply a matter of legal equality and has nothing to do with your religion or mine.

May I remind you that marriage is both a church ritual as well as a civil or legal ceremony. It may be one or the other or both. The act of securing a marriage license is a civil act, not a religious one. Your marriage (as was mine) was sanctified because it was performed in a church and requires no defense. No church is required to perform any marriage ceremony if it goes against the teachings of that church. If your particular church regards homosexuality as a sin, then it should never perform a marriage ceremony for two gay people, and your church is protected legally from doing so.

However, gay people should have just as much right to marry as you or I have in either a civil ceremony or in a church or synagogue, one that is inclusive and doesn't regard them as sinners. This is simply a matter of equality. This doesn't detract from your marriage. Nor does it detract from the belief system of your particular church.

Also, I disagree with the prevailing notion among certain Christian groups that homosexuality is a choice. Who would choose to be scapegoated and scorned, called derogatory names, lose one's job, home, or family, or be beaten up or murdered? There are a lot of teenagers living on the streets of major cities who were kicked out of their homes when it was discovered that they were gay. Many of these kids came from so-called Christian families, and now they're reduced to prostitution and stealing and whatever it takes to survive. The suicide rate for gay teenagers is FOUR TIMES higher than the suicide rate for straight teenagers. Does that indicate a choice to you?

I can't speak for you, but I never chose to be straight or to be sexually attracted to the woman who became my wife. No, it was never a choice, but luckily for me and for you, it turned out that we were part of the majority in this regard. We had it lucky and we had it easy. People are either straight or gay or bisexual. It isn't a choice, and if you asked your gay family member or friends, they would tell you as much. (You also point out that none of the gay people you know are Christian. What a surprise! Would you voluntarily subscribe to a religion that stated you should be stoned to death for being what you are?)

But I'm glad to see that you understand the scapegoating for what it is and also point out how often churches look the other way when it comes to divorce within their own congregations. If you ever read religious-based marital guides of a century ago, you would see that the authors' emphasis was on developing one's own moral character, not worrying about the moral character of everyone else. As I've written before, I believe that televangelists have turned that idea on its head to secure more donations for their coffers. Isn't it so much easier for us to click our gums at the sins of others than to deal with our own?

Crossroads ABF said...

Bob, I can't take seriously anyone who believes not less than a few of the charges you threw out there. I do, however, promise to pray for Obama if he wins.

Doug, I could not agree more with you regarding the Church's treatment of homosexual sin vs. its treatment of heterosexual sin.

Bob A. said...

To Crossroads --

I think all of us are going to have to pray fervently for whoever wins the election, if you think about the state of this country and the economy. I fear our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may be paying the most for the past eight years.

If you pay attention to the polls (and especially to the polls in battleground states), the election is certainly trending Obama's way, with a month to go.

José Solano said...

Hello Doug,

You ask a lot of good questions. Allow me to ask you a couple. Would you like to see Roe vs. Wade overturned? It’s the same question I asked Dr. Witherington. Would you like DOMA to remain in place? Would you like to see laws allowing homosexuals to marry overturned?

Some of my dear Mennonite brothers and sisters do not vote. I respect their decision but I do know that many Amish who do not vote went out to vote for Bush just because of the marriage and abortion issues.

I personally believe that not voting in crucial elections is an anachronism left over from a time when there was no opportunity to vote and Christians wanted to remain separated from the worldly operations.

Voting for me is no different from speaking your mind to bring about a change. When you speak your mind on a blog or write an article you are essentially casting a vote. Both are political expressions that seek to bring about some change. It is a decision that one makes to approve or wish for something to happen.

I have served on numerous boards and things would not happen unless we voted, even though I may abstain on partricular issues. Even the elders in many Christian churches are voted in and then the elders vote on all sorts of decisions. Perhaps in your church they draw straws. I could respect that also.

Let me assure you also that I strongly object to what has been happening to marriage in general and I bring that up in the church Bible classes that I teach. I fully agree with you that the churches need to be doing a much better job in addressing the enormous problem of divorce and not condoning the huge number of rather frivolous divorces. The only biblical grounds that I see for divorce is adultery but even when there is adultery reconciliation would be best. We at the Opine Editorials are all pushing for the revocation of “no fault divorce” at the very least and our motto is “Defending marriage on the firm ground of reason and respect for human dignity.”

What is happening with homosexuals being given the term and privileges of "marriage" is that they make a mockery of marriage even if they do not directly undermine my marriage. It is the children who are confused by these practices as marriage loses its meaning and purpose. It is the children who will be taught in schools that there is nothing wrong with homosexual practices and the nonsense that people of the same sex can actually form a “marriage.”

I certainly try to be consistent in my efforts to not justify sin in any form.

Peace.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

I think you should concentrate on your own sins rather than the sins of others.

I'm glad my kids are already grown because I'd hate the idea of their going to any Bible class in which you taught homophobia as part of the curriculum.

There is nothing original about any of your "talking points" and they've all been sprouted before by the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, or Rod Parsley. Fortunately, there's a new, younger breed of Evangelicals, such as Jay Bakker, who don't think as you do (and I doubt would vote as you do, either).

Here's an article by Jay Bakker, whose view of Christianity as a loving, inclusive religion I find admirable:
http://tinyurl.com/wlprf

Brett R said...

Doug has left a new comment on the post "AN EVANGELICAL VOTERS GUIDE-SIX WEEKS OUT":

My comments preceeded with a *.

I understand your point about sovereignty and treaties, but am unsure how you intend to relate that to just war.

*For arguments sake, lets assume Iraq I was a just war. If the nation of Iraq broken major treaties as a result of this war, Iraq II could perhaps be a just war partially on these grounds.

I am also unsure how you missed the point on preventive war. I specifically stated that it is commonly accepted that if you shoot someone who is threatening you with a weapon you have done so in self-defense. The danger was imminent and of course they don’t have to shoot you first. I agree completely that a preemptive war as you describe it could meet just war criteria. That isn’t what happened in Iraq. We attacked because they might get weapons and they might decide to point them at us and they might try to hurt us one day. Very different! I know you say you don’t want to talk about Iraq, but I think you need to understand that isn’t only academic. Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. Furthermore, lack of understanding of these subjects got us into this mess the last time; you should be prepared for the next time.

*Doug, I fear you might be right, and that is why I have not said Iraq is or isn’t a just war. There were threats from Sadam and co, especially through intelligence channels, so there might be a case to be made. I’m not just blowing this off, but I really don’t know the answer. The fact that you do either tells me that you know much more than I am privy to or that you are willing to make such a declaration without knowing all of the facts.

I don’t find you philosophy on culture of life, as you present it here, coherent and consistent. First, your gloss of the subject lacks depth. Second, your concept of “innocent life” needs a lot more explaining. Is mine an innocent life? Is yours? What does this mean theologically? Third, you are apparently making some assumptions that are unknown to anyone who reads this.

*I am not talking about anthropology here (i.e. Original Sin) as all men are born guilty, but rather I am saying that there is a concept of justice found throughout the bible where no man has the right to take the life of another man without just cause.

On the death penalty you must be assuming that only the guilty are actually executed since you don’t deal at all with an innocent person being wrongly executed. But, the execution of innocent people (innocent means not guilty of the crime for which they are being executed in this context) is a well documented fact. Is it worth murdering innocent people so that we can kill some guilty ones? If so, how does this jive with your culture of life?


*I’m not assuming that any more than did God when he instituted it in the OT, and in fact a system that protects innocent victims as well as the innocent accused is important. I certainly think that our system and use of the death penalty is debatable.


How do you develop your view that abortion is wrong? It isn’t stated as such Biblically. I am unaware of any passage that could be used directly without bringing in further complications, but perhaps you know of one. Is it always wrong, or is it okay for rape and incest? Why is there sanctity to life? Why does it have value? Is it intrinsic? All of this matters for the issue of consistency. I want to know how you can reason that abortion is wrong, but war and the death penalty can rock on?

*It’s a very simple case in my view;

Minor Premise – It is murder to take the life of a human person without just cause against said person.
Major Premise - A fetus is a human Person.
Conclusion – It is murder to take the life of a fetus. (Murder should be an usually is universally illegal)

IMO, the only real argument is over my major premise, and I will concede that I could be wrong, but I would also assert that we should err on the side of the fetus being a human person since the rights lost in doing so are much less severe than those suffered by a fetus.
What fascinates me is that many Christians on the left will not take argument with my Major premise, but rather make arguments based on situation ethics. What they are often doing, is making a logical argument on why murder should be permitted by the government. Look at Bob’s argument; he thinks that some would be better off dead. That absolutely appalls me.

In your brief culture of life war should be on just grounds only. How does this compare to Jesus’ example of taking up His cross? Doesn’t war result in a magnificent loss of “innocent” life?

*From what I know now I am tempted to lump you in with everyone else I know who professes a culture of life, but I hold out hope that you might teach me something here on BW3’s blog. :)

*Doug, feel free to tag and bag as you would like. I don’t think it will really bother me that much.

Ummm… who cares if the left doesn’t discuss it? Should the church refuse to do its job because the left isn’t doing it for them? I’m not left. I am a pacifist. And my point was that the religious right doesn’t care, thereby making the culture of life nothing more than rhetoric. That boats got holes in it and you’d better start bailing water before it’s too late!

*If you are a pacifist, then why would you want to discuss Jus Ad Bellum? They are absolutly incompatible with each other. Why do I care? I need someone to discuss it with. Otherwise, I’m just talking.

Are we doing the pointless number comparison? You pulled your fuzzy statistics out, so let’s go with it. In 2005 1.2 million babies were aborted in the US. Since many states have trigger laws in place making abortions fully legal in the event Roe is overturned, the effort to elect a President at all costs who will appoint judges that might, but not necessarily, overturn Roe will not likely result in a large decrease of abortions. So the numbers comparison isn’t as simple as you want to suggest.

*I don’t see my original comment, but my point is that it is a crime of more aggravation.

I’m not a pro-choicer. I’m not left. I don’t buy into the fallacy either. Wrong is wrong. That’s why I don’t understand how you can be so disinterested in the morality of the Iraq war and so gung-ho on abortion!

*Who said I am disinterested? I am very interested in this discussion, and neither party is having the discussion. Do you think the Democratic Party has a more coherent foreign policy than the Republican? If Obama is elected, it will not make much of a difference in how Iraq is finished, and time has told us that both parties like to get into wars they shouldn’t (remember Vietnam?) Besides, getting out of Iraq now would do no one except for Al Queda any favors.

Again, the reason for the lack of discussion on the war is because the “culture of life” is only a slogan! And sanctity of life only makes people feel good and holy about their position. I cannot tell where anyone is applying this philosophy in a manner that is both coherent and consistent. (Obviously there are some who do.)

*Yes Doug, I have just been chanting slogans. Its really easy to dismiss those you disagree when you have a created some sort of caricaturized straw man.

My anecdotal evidence may have been anecdotal (obviously), but I know a lot of people and constantly talk about these issues wherever I go, thereby losing most of my “friends” :(. None of them aside from those already mentioned, and no one I have discussed this with recently, has said or shown me anything to change my mind.

My second written filibuster has come to an end.

*Doug, most on the right, left, and center have no idea what they believe or why they believe it. If you want to prove that I am among those, then you are writing to me for pride alone for what do I have to offer in this discussion? OTOH, there is a time for simplicity as tyranny is often found in the complexity of an argument.

Brett R said...

Here's an article by Jay Bakker, whose view of Christianity as a loving, inclusive religion I find admirable:
http://tinyurl.com/wlprf


And great Bible scholars are they.

Brett R said...

OOPS, forgot about this comment Doug:

In your brief culture of life war should be on just grounds only. How does this compare to Jesus’ example of taking up His cross? Doesn’t war result in a magnificent loss of “innocent” life?

I guess I assumed you understood Jus Ad Bellum since that is what we were discussing. If you disagree with this theory, then please tell me where Augustine went wrong with his exegesis, logic, or understanding? Or, would you rather reinvent the wheel?

BTW, I don't use the phrase "culture of life", so don't call it mine. :)

Bob A. said...

To Brett:

You wrote to Doug the following:
"Look at Bob’s argument; he thinks that some would be better off dead. That absolutely appalls me."

Kindly don't take my statements out of context and make them appear to be what they're not. As you may recall (or have conveniently forgotten), I made the above statement solely in reference to infants and young children who were murdered, or tortured and then murdered, by their parents.

Doug can answer for himself, but, frankly, your statements regarding Iraq are completely revisionist and false. We did NOT attack Iraq because "they might get weapons and they might decide to point them at us and they might try to hurt us one day." (By such a standard, we would now be bombing the hell out of Russia, or in Bush terms, "shocking and awing" them.) We were lyingly told by Bush and Cheney that Iraq DID have WMD and WOULD attack us. Then, when evidence of this lie was exposed in the NYT by Joe Wilson, Cheney arranged for his wife Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, to be outed in retaliation. There are some, like myself, who regard the outing of an American spy to be treason, especially if other American spies of her acquaintance are endangered as a result.

We were also told by Dick Cheney that Saddam Hussein was somehow connected to the 9/11 attacks, another outrageous lie. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were sworn enemies. Bin Laden is a Sunni Moslem. Saddam was a Shia. Additionally, Saddam's government was secular whereas Bin Laden wishes to restore Sharia Law throughout the Middle East. Each man would have gladly killed the other, given half a chance.

Brett R said...

You wrote to Doug the following:
"Look at Bob’s argument; he thinks that some would be better off dead. That absolutely appalls me."

Kindly don't take my statements out of context and make them appear to be what they're not. As you may recall (or have conveniently forgotten), I made the above statement solely in reference to infants and young children who were murdered, or tortured and then murdered, by their parents.


Bob, that was the essential crux of your argument. You said that you had seen so many abused Children, that they would have been better off dead; thus you lack of opposition to abortion. Sorry Bob, that is what you said. Why don’t you restate why you don’t believe abortion should be illegal?


Doug can answer for himself, but, frankly, your statements regarding Iraq are completely revisionist and false. We did NOT attack Iraq because "they might get weapons and they might decide to point them at us and they might try to hurt us one day." (By such a standard, we would now be bombing the hell out of Russia, or in Bush terms, "shocking and awing" them.) We were lyingly told by Bush and Cheney that Iraq DID have WMD and WOULD attack us. Then, when evidence of this lie was exposed in the NYT by Joe Wilson, Cheney arranged for his wife Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, to be outed in retaliation. There are some, like myself, who regard the outing of an American spy to be treason, especially if other American spies of her acquaintance are endangered as a result.

Bob your attempt to quote me was a characterization of what I believed by Doug. I never said that. Go read my comments again. My comments were preceded with a *.

I agree that WMDs were in the end, a false notion for going to war. On the other hand, there is evidence that Bush and much of his administration (i.e. Powell) believed it to be so. The problem is that Chaney and Rumsfeld pressured George Tenet (Clinton Appointment) to make the case, which he said was a slam dunk. I am not defending the Bush administrations decision to go to war, as I think it was a misguided one (one guided by ideology of those such as Wolfowitz). My point was merely that there could be a good case for a just war based on the evidence that was presented by Colin Powell to the UN.

Brett R said...

(By such a standard, we would now be bombing the hell out of Russia, or in Bush terms, "shocking and awing" them.)

Have any of you anti-War guys read anything on Just War?

We would never bomb Russia as it is a war we really couldn't win.

For a war to be just according to Just War, a war must have a just cause, be waged by a legitimate authority, have a right intention, a high probability of success, be a last resort, and be proportional to the evil.

I will restate that my point is that this war appeared to be a Just war, or at least that it was debatable. At this point, debating this is merely academic as the question now is what do we do now? We are no longer occupying an enemy, but rather a tentative ally that would like to see us leave, but would like Al Queda to be gone even more.

I think raging at the war at this point is but nonsense. And, for a Pacifist to say it is an unjust war is but the ontology of a pacifist with all wars, including any possible intervention in Darfur.

Bob A. said...

To Brett:

Would you kindly stop distorting and reinterpreting what I wrote? Here is what I wrote verbatim. (Commentators here are not so stupid they can't read.)

Bob: "In many of the cases I dealt with, the children would have been better off if they had been aborted rather than born, later to be tortured, beaten, and murdered."

As to my comment regarding the Iraq War, you are correct -- I goofed -- in quoting what Doug had said rather than what you had said. However, if my attribution of the quote was incorrect, my response regarding how we were intentionally lied into invading Iraq itself was dead on target.

As an addendum to what you yourself are stating in your last post, I believe Colin Powell was suckered by Cheney, and was intentionally fed false information when he made his speech at the U.N. The so-called evidence that Powell parroted was exactly what Joe Wilson then exposed as false in the NYT, which is why Cheney attempted to discredit Wilson by outing Wilson's wife as a spy. In other words, Cheney already knew that the content of Powell's speech was a lie. This lie was used as a justification to go to war. This lie was also repeated by Bush his State of the Union address that year. (Many other nations did not fall for this BS, which is why we did not have the number of allies we had in the First Gulf War.) The war was still preemptive in that Saddam could not have possibly harmed the U.S. mainland and had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. Granted, Saddam was a rotten dictator, but fundamentally, we went to war over oil, and the neocons' philosophy of regime-change.

So, what exactly has the Iraq War accomplished? By destroying one predator, we enabled two others. Iraq was the natural enemy of Iran under Saddam. By getting rid of Saddam and creating chaos in Iraq, we allowed Iran to become the dominant power in the Middle East, where formerly Saddam had kept Iran in check. And thus, Iran has meddled in the affairs of Lebanon and Syria and caused Israel incredible grief, all of which could have been avoided.

In addition, the U.S. graciously got rid of Osama bin Laden's major enemy in the region as well, thus allowing Al Qaeda to get a stronghold in Iraq for the first time. (Under Saddam, Al Qaeda would not have survived a day.) We turned a molehill into a mountain, and John McCain supported the Bush-Cheney plan every inch of the way EXCEPT that about three years into the war, McCain had sense enough to object to Rumsfeld's rotten handling of the occupation, even though he never actually called for Rumsfeld's firing.

A third result of the Iraq War was to take our eyes off the prize -- the capture of bin Laden and the destruction of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. This amazing blunder has allowed the resurgence of the Taliban, and the proliferation of Al Qaeda. Again, McCain supported Bush-Cheney completely in this placing of Afghanistan on the back burner, with McCain actually stated that we could "muddle through" in Afghanistan.

So what's to be done now? Vote for a candidate, McCain, who also predicted along with Tenet, that the war would be over in no time. It was actually McCain and not George Bush who announced, "Mission Accomplished," even though that banner was seen behind Bush. As for McCain, he has no plan of getting us out of Iraq. He vaguely talks about the Iraqi government becoming empowered, but has no actual strategy to accomplish this. McCain has claimed that the "surge" has been a great success, but if it's such a great success, why do we have more troops in Iraq now (150,000) than we did BEFORE the surge. Where is the reconciliation within the Iraqi government? Why are we spending 10-12 billion dollars a month in Iraq? (Had we not gone into this disastrous war, we could have used the money spent to pay for health care for every American man, woman, and child.)

The solution is a planned withdrawal, as Obama has stated. This is also what the Iraqi government itself has requested. Even Bush is talking about a "time horizon," which is Bush lingo for "timeline." Thus, everyone BUT John McCain is talking about getting out. We need to concentrate instead on the forgotten war where bin Laden and Al Qaeda actually are.

Brett R said...

Bob,

McCain was wrong on the war, and Obama was wrong on the surge (yes he was).

Because of the surge, the next president will be able to concentrate on Afgan. and Pakistan, without too much fear of Iraq becoming Al Quedastan.

But neither you and I know 80% of what is really going on anyway.

I agree with you on Chaney and Rumsfeld, but this goes to show you that we need a good and strong executive in the White house. Bush mostly ignored Rice, Powell, and the military commanders early on. A good executive could have used Chaney and Rumsfeld to his advantage.

Who will be a better executive? We have no way of knowing in my view. I think Giuliani would have been a good executive.

Crossroads ABF said...

Again, Bob, your credibility on any subject is severely hampered by the ridiculous notion that you believe Bush actually lied us into the war in Iraq. I do find it funny though that so many of Bush's critics find him to be an imbecile on the one hand while simultaneously making him out to be some sort of mastermind capable of duping a whole heck of a lot of congress into going to war in Iraq.

Bush's doctrine was one of preemption has you have accurately stated, and by this doctrine, Iraq was a logical war. You can disagree with this doctrine all you want, and I don't have a problem with it, but the continual "Bush lied, kids died" rhetoric is embarrassing.

Also, Bob, what do you think about Obama taking yet another foreign policy cue from McCain recently in saying withdrawal from Iraq will be "conditions-based"? That's a far cry from his original mission to get out immediately (a preposterous & grossly irresponsible idea that the left bought hook, line & sinker).

Bob A. said...

To Crossroads:

If I've said anything untrue regarding how we were lied into the war, kindly provide evidence to show I'm wrong.

As for Bush's intelligence or lack thereof, I strongly suspect that Cheney and other neocons were calling the shots, and Bush was going along for the ride. But whoever ultimately is responsible for the lies, the buck stops with Bush, since he is the Commander in Chief.

Just in case you missed the last presidential debate, Obama repeated that our troops would be withdrawn in 16 months, a plan supported by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The only person against a timeline is your candidate, McCain.

To Brett:

I think Giuliani would have been a lousy president, but a better one than McCain.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, the point of the surge was to lessen the violence so that the Iraqi government could enact needed legislation, including among other things the sharing of oil revenues and providing its own security to the country. Even so, I think that our paying off local chieftans to turn betray Al Qaeda in Iraq probably had greater impact than the surge itself. Our troops did their job beautifully. The Iraqi government did not do its job. Therefore, we have about 10,000 more troops in Iraq now than we did prior to the start of the surge. So kindly inform me how the surge has been a such a success if we have 150,000 troops still there with no plans to leave (at least, not until Obama takes office). John McCain can't explain this; so maybe you can. I'm all ears.

And once more I point out, Al Qaeda would never have gotten a toehold in Iraq if Bush, Cheney, and Co. hadn't gotten us into this misbegotten war in the first place.

Brett R said...

So kindly inform me how the surge has been a such a success if we have 150,000 troops still there with no plans to leave (at least, not until Obama takes office). John McCain can't explain this; so maybe you can. I'm all ears.


This is according to almost every military expert that I have heard. I don’t admit to being that knowledgeable about military affairs, but the consensus seems to be that it has worked. Of course, there are other things we have done also. The violence has dramatically decreased, that is for sure.

You sure seem to know alot about military affairs? What is your expertise?

Obama may give a time line, but his policy will be just as subject to the conditions on the ground. He is not going to remake our military nor our foreign policy in a day. He will continue the current administrations policies with a few tweaks here and there.

Bob A. said...

To Brett:

I'm hardly a military expert, but I AM a news junkie. I read about three major newspapers a day, plus numerous articles, plus watch CNN and MSNBC on a regular basis.

You answered my questions with waffle. I asked you what McCain's plans for getting us out of Iraq are. You didn't answer. (Actually, you couldn't answer because he has none.) And I asked you how has the surge worked if we still have 150,000 troops in Iraq. You didn't answer, other than to say that the violence is down. Yes, it is down. And so?

What Obama intends to do is NOT to continue with the Bush-McCain agenda. He will withdraw one or two battalions per month. This will force Iraq to step up to the plate, knowing that we're not going to be holding their hands forever (, not at $10-12 billion a month).

Here's a right-wing comparison for you. Think of Iraq as a person on welfare, who is perfectly capable of working but is too lazy to get a job. When he's told that his welfare benefits will be discontinued at a certain time, and he is offered a number of job positions, he generally will take one. But should you change your mind and keep on giving him money, he will, of course, continue to take it. Now, wasn't that simple?

Iraq has been warned in advance and knows what it must do once Bush is out of office.

Brett R said...

You answered my questions with waffle. I asked you what McCain's plans for getting us out of Iraq are. You didn't answer. (Actually, you couldn't answer because he has none.) And I asked you how has the surge worked if we still have 150,000 troops in Iraq. You didn't answer, other than to say that the violence is down. Yes, it is down. And so?

Well, he has said it is not a good idea to tell our enemies when we will leave. Otherwise, they will just wait until then, and redeploy against Iraq.

Bob A. said...

Right. As I said, McCain has no plan for us to leave. Other than for McCain to say that he doesn't want to provide the enemy with a timeline hardly constitutes a plan.

Since the Prime Minister of Iraq wants us to leave (and it's HIS country, not ours), and since the Bush Administration wants a "horizon line," which is a "timeline" to English-speaking people, and since Obama has a plan to leave, I and the majority of America will go with Obama.

Nor have you answered how the surge has been such a success if we still need 150,000 troops in Iraq.

But don't feel bad. You can't provide answers because McCain has not provided any answers. Nor have his surrogates. I hope you watch the second presidential debate tonight. Should McCain talk about Iraq, listen very carefully for specifics. I can almost guarantee you won't hear any, other than his assurance that "the surge has worked." Listen for his plans regarding anything else, while you're at it.

Doug said...

bob a.,



In a recent response to Brett R you misappropriated my words to him, which you have recognized. I will respond to your comment, though. Your reasoning is wrong. I gave an apt and fair description of preventative war and the Bush doctrine. This is also a fair description of the rationale for the attack on Iraq. The lies and the distortions of the administration in lead up to the Iraq war are well documented. It is also quite possible that they (Bush, Cheney, others in the administration) believed that Iraq was a real threat. But that doesn’t change the fact that they told and repeated numerous lies in order to garner public and congressional support. However, the key is imminence. Iraq was not an imminent threat. Even if we accept the lies of the administration, Iraq was not presented as having the capability to attack the US immediately. That is why the “yellow cake” lie was necessary. Had they been presented as an imminent threat the “yellow cake” lie would have been superfluous. Regardless of this, the administration’s justification for attack was an anticipatory measure and not because of an imminent threat. It does not matter what the average American may or may not have believed. This policy was officially delineated in September of 2002 prior to the March 2003 Iraq invasion. The case that Colin Powell made to the U.N was that an anticipatory attack was necessary. Had Iraq had the capability and been pointing that capability at us and threatening to use it, none of these steps would have been necessary.



Yes. We were told that Iraq had WMD. No, we were not told that they could actually strike us with the WMD nor were we told that was a plan in place to do so. Yes, by employing the Bush Doctrine of preventative war we could start “bombing the hell out of Russia.” Not that we would already be doing so, but we could. It doesn’t mandate that you do this in all cases; it only states that it is acceptable by redefining a traditional understanding of self-defense.



I stand by my illustration as an accurate description of this policy and the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq.



I also stand by your assertion that the administration engaged in a campaign of lies and deceptions, but I don’t find these two things to be mutually exclusive.

Shalom,
Doug

Doug said...

Jose,



Let me start by saying that Roe does not need to be overturned in order to make abortions illegal. Overturning Roe won’t make abortions illegal. It is not clear that overturning Roe would even reduce the number of abortions. Roe decided that a woman has a right to privacy, to make medical decisions without interference from the state. The right to privacy, often seen as a decision of judicial activism, is not something to which I fundamentally object. The judges’ position was that a fetus had no constitutional standing as a human and did not consider the issue of when humanness begins. From my perspective you are asking the wrong question. You should be asking if I want abortion to be illegal. That isn’t something either party is offering at the presidential level.



I would prefer that there be no need of such laws as those that would ban abortion and define marriage as between a man and a woman. I cannot condone any law or laws that allow abortions and same-sex marriages. In my view, abortion is only acceptable when it must be done to save the life of the mother, and only as a last resort. I find views allowing for incest and rape to be ethically and morally untenable. However, I do not think Christians should vote in order to overturn Roe, uphold DOMA, and overturn same-sex marriage laws. I think this is fundamentally the wrong approach and will ultimately fail.



Even if I were inclined to vote, I think the focus on these two issues is misguided as other issues are also of great importance. I believe Christians could rightfully conclude that a vote for either candidate is the correct choice. I believe that votes cast on the basis of these two issues without an honest assessment of all issues, a serious amount of time spent researching and studying, is a vote cast in error. I believe that most people I know, and most of them religious right leadership, should not vote due to their ignorance. I believe that the passion with which people vote on these issues is rarely matched in between elections and this makes their motives ring false. I also believe that the right conclusion is that we should not vote at all.



I also don’t think homosexual marriages “mock” marriage, or that marriage needs defending. They do, however, twist the created order (perhaps a battle of semantics). Marriage has already lost meaning and purpose. Consider how many children in the church grow up in split families. My children will not be confused by homosexual practices or marriages. But they will be respectful of humanity and loving towards others regardless. They will learn that God does not approve of such things, but that God does love everyone. They will learn to apply their judgments without prejudice.



I am not familiar with either Amish or Mennonite theology with regards to voting. As such, I cannot comment on what they do. Voting on a board or in a church is only superficially similar to voting in political elections. Similarly, even if the object of each is to effect change speaking your mind in no way compares to voting. One attempts to transform the mind and heart while the other attempts to establish laws and regulations. We must attempt to differentiate between the secular and church when discussing these issues. The purity of the people of God demands that the church uphold some standard of righteousness. We are called to exemplify, to be, the kingdom in the here and now. The call of the kingdom is by the power and example of Christ which lives in His body. It is a call to join, not simply to conform. The church is demanding the secular world match its standards when the church’s standards are impossibly lax compared to the example that has been set for us. Before getting too carried away with marshaling the nation we need to be more introspective and marshal ourselves. God’s plan for reconciliation, after all, is through the people of God and not by a human government. Voting as you suggest is merely speaking Caesar’s language, and Caesar operates much differently than God no matter what form Caesar takes. Did democracy simply provide an opportunity to vote or did it invite Christians to participate in the power struggle?

Shalom,
Doug

Doug said...

Brett R,



I have simply numbered my comments since the conversation is too disjointed now to form one coherent answer.



1) Okay. Let’s assume Iraq I was just. I think suggesting Iraq II is just on the basis of broken treaties would not seem to conform to the notion of proportionality or just cause. Which broken treaty endangered innocent lives? How does the destruction of war weigh against that? Trying to backdoor into a just war by pointing to treaties simply turns the notion of what just war is intended to do on its head. I’m done assuming. Iraq I was not just. These are unjust wars fought unjustly.



2) With regards to Iraq and the events leading to it I wouldn’t say that I know more than you are privy to, but I would say that I simply know more. (I don’t mean this as an insult, I’m sure there are many subjects where you know more.) I have been trying to suggest that lack of knowledge on the subject exemplifies the problem. (Again, don’t take it personally since I don’t know you personally. I only know the words written in response to this one blog entry. But, it is apparent that this is a wide spread problem within the church.)



3) You state that “there is a concept of justice found throughout the Bible where no man has the right to take the life of another man without just cause.” I disagree with this. More to the point, if you find this to be a consistent point throughout the Bible then should we not adopt all the laws which deemed death a just punishment? Should we stone adulteresses? What about other laws that Jesus didn’t address? I find that the Bible tells me I don’t have the right to take the life of another human. I believe in progressive revelation that climaxes in the incarnation. Pre-flood peoples avenged murder 77 times. Post-flood laws allowed eye for an eye. Post-Christ peoples live the kingdom. Jesus actually demonstrates this progressiveness on the issue of divorce when he states that Moses allowed divorce because the people’s hearts were hard. But Jesus reveals the fullness of God’s will. Did God advocate systems that murder innocent people, or did he allow systems of justice such as this due to the beckoning of His people? If this sense of justice is consistent throughout the Bible why did Jesus not live according to it? Furthermore, the death penalty does noting to protect innocent people since life imprisonment is an option and since innocent people do die as a result of its implementation.



4) I think your major premise (a fetus is a human person) is inconclusive. The next step is to define “human.” Can you come up with a definition that captures what we know as human beginning with the earliest stages in the womb? It must include all humans and exclude all else. I don’t believe this can be done, but would love to be proven wrong. I must confess, I think your argument is an extremely useful secular argument that could certainly be used to curtail second and third trimester abortions, and possibly some first trimester abortions. But I can’t see how you would cover all first trimester abortions. I do agree that this argument should be persuasive to ban some abortions where you can get people to agree on when human begins. There are no situations in which this is palatable save the choice between mother and fetus.



5) Christian Pacifism and jus ad bellum are not incompatible. The pacifist tradition holds that there are legitimate reasons a nation might wage war, though the pacifist would not participate.



6) In questioning your numbers on abortions performed in the U.S. I was trying to demonstrate that the number of abortions performed is different from the number of abortions that won’t be performed because you elect a president who appoint a judge that that helps SCOTUS overturn Roe. Overturning Roe will not make abortion illegal; only slightly more difficult to get depending on where you live. Therefore, when weighing your vote you must weigh the number of innocent people killed in unjust wars against the possibility of a small reduction in the number of abortions. The comparison is not simple. Furthermore, your statement that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans with regards to military use is simply false. The Bush Doctrine is all the evidence needed to sustain this assertion.



8) I don’t wish to prove or disprove that you are among those who are ignorant of the rationale for their beliefs. If you are ignorant, I wish to spur you to think about reasons for them. If not, I wish to discuss it and I hope that both of us may benefit from the discussion.



9) I think Augustine was often wrong. I do understand jus ad bellum. That should be fairly plain to you by now. The point of my comments, in context, is that a pro-life view should be very suspicious and resistant of war, at the very least. From the posts here, of which there are many, it is impossible to tell that anyone has thought about this in regards to their pro-life voting. In the part of my post you question I was trying to demonstrate that your views as stated are not reconciled. What does it mean to have just wars and still support a culture of life? I know the slogan isn’t yours. :) But it aptly describes the movement, does it not?



10) Again, debating how we got to Iraq is not pointless. Those who ignore history will repeat it. Unless you think it can’t happen again then it obviously has value. I think it is more revealing about how Christians approach politics and therefore has value on that basis, too.



11) In response to your response to bob a. regarding bombing Russia: the comment about bombing Russia had nothing to do with just war as you imply when you ask if any of the “anti-war guys” have read anything on just war. He was responding to my description of Bush’s policy. Under Bush’s policy we could attack Russia. It is a policy of preventative war. If we believed Russia to be a future threat to us we can take anticipatory action in our own defense. It has nothing to do with just war! That’s the primary reason the Iraq war is unjust!



12) Whether or not Bush and his administration believed Iraq had WMDs is a red herring. It has nothing to do with the issue of whether the war was just. I suppose they probably did think that Iraq was dangerous, I don’t know. But I do know that they engaged in a campaign of lies and deception to garner support for it. That, too, doesn’t necessarily make it unjust, though it clouds the issue and makes right intention difficult to meet. Iraq was not presented as an imminent threat. War was not the last resort available. These two facts are all we need.

Brett R, I have appreciated the back and forth and I fear that discussions in this medium often lead to hard feelings. So know that I have none towards you, my brother in Christ.

Shalom,
Doug

Brett R said...


Brett R, I have appreciated the back and forth and I fear that discussions in this medium often lead to hard feelings. So know that I have none towards you, my brother in Christ.


Likewise Doug. However, I may be some time in addressing your answers.

Bob A. said...

Doug, I do agree with you that there never was any imminent threat from Iraq, and from this perspective alone, the war in Iraq was unjust.

To make this war seem more palatable to the American public, we were also lied to regarding an alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, which simply didn't exist. (If it had existed, the "eye for an eye" concept could have been called into play as some type of justification. But this, like the "yellow cake" lie was just one more lie heaped upon the American public.) The following article neatly packages how the lies were used (but there are many other sites that do the same):
http://projects.publicintegrity.org/WarCard/

In addition, the Bush Administration has used the news media to provide false information to the public. One of its methods was to use as spokesmen a group of retired generals as so-called "military experts" (who had secret relationships with military contractors and who were personally profiting from the war): http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?_r=1&ex=1366344000&en=196b27df83cc255c&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

Many Christians have, unfortunately, swallowed these and other lies hook, line, and sinker and are ignorant to this day regarding what actually took place in this dishonestly hyped war.

Bob

José Solano said...

I think it is important to develop a more realistic understanding of how most governments operate. They lie and then they lie again and, then they lie some more. We must not be so naïve as to think it’s only one person or another, one party or another that has a monopoly on lying. They are as barefaced liars as Bill Clinton proclaiming to the entire nation, “I did not have sex with that woman” or Lyndon Johnson fabricating an excuse to wage war on Vietnam with the pretense that a US destroyer was attacked in the Bay of Tonkin.

They lie and from the military and world domination perspective they have to lie. Pre-emptive strikes or simply attacks to control a particular area occur quite regularly. The invasions of Panama or Grenada were simply unilateral decisions made without any direct threat to the US. And of course all of the take-overs and coups in the “banana republics” and in so many different countries throughout the world were illegal and complete rationalizing lies. Think Nicaragua and Chile and I’m sure you can name many more.

The justification of a just war today is really no longer tenable. By the standards of the Sermon on the Mount it has never been tenable. By Catholic tenets it is hardly tenable today because of the enormous “collateral” damage that is inflicted. (See paragraph 2309 of the Catechism.) We remember jokingly at home when my wife seeing a mosquito land on our baby daughter’s head reacted suddenly by giving the mosquito and pretty hard smack. Of course our baby would have preferred another approach.

More on other comments that have been made hopefully later.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

To put this simply, Bill Clinton's oral sex with an intern hardly equals the death and destruction of the Iraq War, the resultant rise of Iran, and the resurgence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Get a grip.

And the beginning of the Vietnamese conflict is far more complex than you make it out to be and actually goes back to the start of the Cold War and the fear of communism spreading. However, you are on more solid ground with the escalation of this war due to the lie told by Lyndon Johnson in regard to the Gulf of Tonken incident. You might recall that despite the good that Lyndon Johnson did in the civil rights arena, his legacy was forever tarnished as a result of the war, just as George W. Bush's will be with his war.

Is your point that heads of state lie an excuse to vote for John McCain, a major Iraq War supporter and Bush cheerleader?

In the last debate, you'll recall that McCain said how when he looked into Putin's eyes, he saw K.G.B.

If you really want to understand how thoroughly corrupt McCain really is, his involvement with Keating was mere child's play. The following article explains in detail McCain's own strange connection to the Kremlin and Putin. Enjoy!:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081020/ames_berman

José Solano said...

Bob a. Let me make this simple. They lie and then they lie again and again. Thank you for your intriguing cloak and dagger story. It perfectly exemplifies what I have been saying about the power of the multinational corporations and the military industrial complex. I’m not going to play tit for tat on how conniving the Democrats are in comparison with the Republicans. I’ve already provided illustrations of Democratic leadership deceptions and the list can be lengthened enormously.

The big money issues and the questions of world hegemony are not in the hands of individual politicians. I grant you that Obama’s lack of experience leaves his resume rather empty of wheeling and dealing operations favoring varied powerful individuals and companies but his recent saber-rattling rhetoric exposes that he is already conniving with the powers to deliver death and destruction to varied parts of the globe. He has developed a rationale to deliver it more in Afghanistan and Pakistan after continuing the war in Iraq for another 16 months, after which he can easily say that conditions have changed and the US needs to stay another year, etc.

One may rationalize that defeating Roe vs Wade makes little or no difference and that states have already enacted laws protecting a woman’s desire to murder her baby but the fact of 45,000,000 slaughtered children is undeniable.

We must work to overturn Roe and then we must work to overturn any state laws that legitimize infanticide. We must resist at all cost the diabolical drag on our resolve to overturn these infanticide decisions, a drag that stems from the insinuations of defeatist complacency or compromise with evil. “Oh, gee we can’t do any good by voting against infanticide. Let’s just work to tell them about Jesus Christ (a story confounded by hundreds of denominations). We should take no action till the world accepts Jesus Christ.” Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. Would we be doing this if mothers were granted permission to drown their six-month-old babies? “Oh, lets not vote against that. Let’s just tell them about Jesus Christ.” Preposterous.

There is no hindrance to preaching and practicing the teaching of Jesus Christ while simultaneously working to bring about greater good in the world. This is no either-or situation. Indeed, one’s effort to bring about greater good is inseparable from the preaching and practice. You discover the truth of Jesus Christ and then you take action to bring God’s goodness into the world because in a world where God’s goodness is recognized there is a far greater openness to accept God Himself and the redemptive work of His Son Jesus.

And this is completely different from merely trying to bring about good without the Person of Jesus Christ as the center of one’s life.

In a world filled with the justification of death and depravity the essential message of Jesus Christ is easily smothered in the masses. And of course, the millions of babies themselves are smothered. The grace of God may yet irresistibly break through in particular individuals but the confusion fomented by government encouragement of infanticide, family fragmentation and marriage mockery deafens untold millions from hearing the word of God.

One final word for now. Mock, adj., “not authentic or real, but without the intention to deceive.” A same-sex “marriage” is not objectively authentic or real regardless of any government’s claim that it is, anymore than a cat is a dog because some government should so say. For a marriage to be authentic it must have complementarity of the sexes which gives it the possibly to responsibly procreate. If society is to call a same-sex relationship “marriage” then we would need to find another name for what marriage really is.

For the children, for family and for marriage the obvious choice is McCain/Palin.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

I suppose that in terms of voting, each of us must decide how much evil we're willing to tolerate in terms of what good we think can be accomplished, regarding pro-life or any other issue. To me, Christians have been particularly gullible in supporting a certain party and certain candidates who are far more interested in a warped political philosophy of trickle-down economics, unbridled greed, complete deregulation, and free trade with no strings. Like Senator David Vitter, they'll provide lip service as to their "strong family values" while in private, cheat on their wives and crawl around wearing diapers in whorehouses for rather bizarre sexual kicks. (As you are aware, I can provide many similar examples of those professing "family values," upon request.)

I admit that when you are dealing with a lot of people in Washington, there is going to be corruption within both parties, but in our present era, the majority of that corruption has been centered in one party, the party that has been in power the longest. As you know, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But having said that, the platform of the Democratic Party actually provides more than just lip service in helping the poor and middle classes. (If you happened to watch the two presidential debates thus far, you never heard your candidate even mention the middle class or the poor even once.) Let the political parties be known by their deeds rather than just their words. The difference between John McCain's health care plan, which only benefits the insurance companies and Barack Obama's health care plan, which mainly benefits the people, is just one glaring example.

This difference in priorities between the parties affects the economic well-being of the nation and the individual economic well-being. Economic policies actually filter down to such issues as pro-life. "Pro-life" does not exist in a vacuum. During the Clinton Administration, the number of abortions declined by 34%. During the Bush Adminstration, the number of abortions increased by 14%. I tend to be more pragmatic about such things. I'm also pragmatic about what can or cannot be accomplished under a particular leader's policies. But one needs to look at the effects regarding everything going on in regard to the economy, to jobs, to education, to the environment, and to technical advancement, and not just one issue divorced from all the above. Which woman is more likely to have an abortion? The woman who feels economically secure or the woman who feels economically desperate?

As for marriage, I'm pragmatic about that as well. "Marriage" is a word, for starters. "Marriage" within a religious setting, of course, means (or should mean) a great deal more, and that has been previously discussed.

But "marriage" as a civil ceremony also exists, in which two people choose to marry before a justice of the peace, with no religious significance whatsoever. Even if you don't happen to approve of such a marriage as a strictly civil ceremony, or legal ceremony, such ceremonies have nonetheless existed for hundreds of years, and that's not going to change, whether such marriages are between a man and a woman, or two women, or two men.

By YOUR definition of marriage, ONLY a church marriage between a man and a woman in hopes of procreation should be valid. (There are many heterosexual couples who marry in churches who never wish to have children, and by your definition, their marriage is a mockery as well.) In fact, every marriage, straight or gay, that doesn't fit your narrow definition is a "mockery" of marriage. (I should just add in passing that a number of states have legally forbidden ANY type of civil ceremony between gay people, and not just marriage.)

Since we happen to live in a country that is not a theocracy, and where there is a legal separation of church and state, a separation meant to protect the church from being dictated to by other churches or non-churches with different dogmas or philosophies, this separation is doubtless a good thing. Many religious groups, as you are aware, came to this country as a result of religious persecution in their original countries.

From what I'm reading in your post, you would wish to impose your religious views upon everyone else. If I were a Jew or a Moslem or a Buddhist or a Hindu or an atheist or even a different denomination of Christian from you, I would find that both appalling and scary.

José Solano said...

Bob a. It is clear that you have bought into all of the radical left’s fundamentalist and irrational propaganda about marriage, abortion, and the entire support system for the culture of death and depravity. I have no illusions of possibly changing your mind as that I believe would require the intervention of a higher power. But for the sake of any passing reader I will say a few things that may help objectively cut through the confusions.

That was not my definition of marriage, in the sense that I invented it. That has been the sine qua non of marriage universally since time immemorial. It is the reason that the institution of marriage came into being and it precedes the institution itself. Except for perhaps some very tiny pockets of confused people, essentially divorced from their larger society, a same-sex “marriage” has never existed until our very recent sexual confusions. Marriage was formed through the union of men and women always and in all places, in all religions and where there was no religion. It is foundational to the human regenerative/procreative experience. Society blessed these unions because they had the possibility of bringing new human beings into the family and the society and society wanted to protect these families.

Even in the period in ancient Greek society, in which homosexuality was rampant with almost all males engaging in it, never did they ever imagine that a marriage could be formed by two men. Sexual complementarity was always foundational to any marriage.

The idea of getting married and deciding not to have children is very recent, but neither that nor infertility can be made a test for marriage because people can change their minds and you cannot be invading people’s privacy to determine if they are fertile, and the infertile can become fertile at times.

Not only is a same-sex “marriage” an absurdity but the entire relationship of two men or two women having sex with each is a biological absurdity and often extremely harmful. Anal intercourse is the cause of all sorts of deceases, not just AIDS, and people are not being warned about this simply because of the fear of opposing political “correctness.” Under no circumstances should such activities be encouraged. I applaud those states that have not encouraged homosexual relationships by providing them with any form of recognition, benefits or privileges.

None of this reasoning has anything to do with religious views per se or living in a “theocracy.” You simply do not understand what the rational and universal opposition to homosexual practices is. It is only your fantasy that imagines I ever said or thought that only a particular “church marriage” should be recognized. There is simple objective criteria for marriage and people of all faiths or no faith can marry. But a same-sex “marriage” is simply an impossibility.

Though you are willing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples by some inconsistent reasoning you insist on limiting the license to “two women, or two men” or one man and one woman. “. . . That’s not going to change.” But, whilst homosexual marriages have historically never existed, polygamous marriages have always existed. Would you deny them the same licenses that you offer to homosexuals who cannot objectively form a marriage?

I’ll tell you how this should be approached if you can reconcile your apparent contradiction. How liberal and tolerant can you get? Is there any combination of sexual relationship to which you would not grant a marriage license? How do you justify a double standard?

In the meantime dear passing reader, remember to vote for McCain/Palin to support marriage, babies and family. The other issues pale in comparison and are not fully under their control to change.

“What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

You do not have a single, original comment to offer on your subjective defense of heterosexual marriage only, other than its traditional aspects.

I can easily check out James Dobson's site or WorldNetDaily or numerous other sites to see the same arguments put forward the same way regarding "traditional" marriage.

By all means, vote the corrupt people of your choice, and both of them are totally corrupt, no matter how many "family values" they preach to the gullible and the bigoted. The following article concisely shows both homosexual marriage and unions, mainly in ancient times, but with some modern examples as well, since Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and South Africa already recognize gay marriage, and many others recognize gay civil unions. These include Croatia, Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Sweden. Others will soon follow:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_same-sex_unions

You can foam at the mouth about it all you want, and you may thump your bible until your hands are raw, and you may spout your hatred of gay people in your Bible classes, but it will happen in this country as well, mainly because it's a civil liberty (and may be a religious service but ONLY if the couple chooses), and it's fair and equitable. Gay folks, from what I understand, pay taxes, too, just as you and I do.

Currently gay civil unions are legal in Vermont, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. Gay partnerships, similar to civil unions, are also legal in Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts and California, and, as of today, in Connecticut. That's 16% of the U.S., without my counting D.C. More will follow in our lifetimes, so deal with it.

In the early part of the 20th Century, many states had anti-miscegenation laws that forbade marriage between people of different races. Had you lived in those times, I don't doubt you would have been endorsing those laws as well, using biblical scripture to make your argument.

José Solano said...

So, there you have it dear passing reader. That’s what you can expect if Obama gets into office, the complete deconstruction of marriage and the indoctrination of all children in public schools to affirm the homosexual way of life, the relentless expansion of the culture of death and depravity.

It can be totally stopped with pro-life judges in the Supreme Court. It is the judges who are ruling by fiat and imposing this on America. Connecticut just went under with a 4-3 Supreme Court imposition of same-sex marriage. The Portugal legislature rejected it by a huge majority. Thank God. It’s the people versus the judges all over. Nowhere on earth have the people voted for same-sex marriage. But with sufficient indoctrination this may well happen.

We need to pass all the amendments protecting marriage and we need McCain/Palin to slow down the deconstruction process being pushed by the radical left. God help us.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

I'm afraid your homophobia is going to have to be put on hold.

If the election were held today, Obama and Biden would be the winners. And the polls are trending toward them even more every day. They already have enough EC votes to put them over the top.

Alaska's legislative committee decision concerning Sarah Palin's abuse of power isn't going to help any either.

Even McCain himself is getting dismayed by how sleazy his own campaign has gotten regarding the Obama smears, a factor that has dropped him even more in popularity. (Even conservative icon Bill Buckley's son, Christopher, has endorsed Obama today.)

In short, those Christians who are loving and inclusive, along with the majority of Americans, are going to be the winners, and those who feed on hatred and divisiveness are going to be the losers. I'm sure you and your kind will do your best on November 4th, but it's not going to help. Sorry, Jose, but the fat lady is already doing her vocal exercises.

José Solano said...

I have no illusions about our nation not falling deeper into the culture of death and depravity. I have fortunately found some sanctuary for my family in a lovely rural area overlooking the ocean. From our living room we enjoy a 180-degree vista of the Pacific Ocean.

We are involved in multiple civic works from church to school to arts. I chair our local arts association and bring to our community great art forms from Gregorian chant to gamelan, from Checkov plays to chamber music. We are truly blessed with a wholesome family friendly community far from what some are now calling the “culture of shamelessness.” We have no cable or television stations but do play select videos. For tonight we have Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman for the family.

Perhaps you don’t realize that Obama and Biden share what you call my “homophobia.” They too have explicitly stated that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Dr. Witherington believes the same thing. So basically Bob a. you are way out there with the radical, depraved and confused left.

Obama/Biden will not work to overturn Roe vs. Wade but that can’t get any worse than it is now with the wholesale slaughtering of children. I pray they may not work very hard to undermine marriage since, like me, they claim the complementarity of the sexes is required to form a marriage, and they may not even get the votes to overturn DOMA. Remember, DOMA is Clinton’s bill. But it will certainly be risky with them in power. Biden is a Catholic and denying him the Eucharist might help bring him around.

As for the 4-3 judicial fiat decree in Connecticut, it may backfire and help bring down the California 4-3 judicial fiat decree as people realize that these judges must be reigned in by the power of the people through the passage of their marriage amendment. In Florida passage of the marriage protection amendment is not as crucial since they already have laws banning same-sex marriage.

But, whatever happens my family and I are fairly well insulated, thank God. What I’m concerned about is all those millions of children in the schools who will be confused by the moral turpitude promulgated by homosexualists in their relentless child indoctrination efforts. And they work so hard to indoctrinate children so that may derive societal affirmation of their depraved practices which their own consciences can never fully accept. It is a truly lamentable situation. We must pray for them.

Peace.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

It would be difficult, I think, for any politician to win a presidential election in America if they came out in favor of gay marriage. However, both Obama and Biden have promised to see that DOMA is overturned. They have both stated that gay marriage is a states' issue. Also, they have both declared that homosexuals shall legally have the same civil rights as all other Americans, even if this means "separate but equal" (meaning "civil unions" rather than marriage). This would include the 1000+ federal financial benefits that are currently restricted to heterosexual couples only, which are currently excluded in regard to gay couples who are married or have civil unions in the states I mentioned earlier. In short, neither Obama or Biden share your rabid homophobia.

I'm glad you're living in isolation on the Pacific coast (particularly since your vote for McCain and Palin will be useless in solidly blue states). I live in a battleground state, so my vote for Obama and Biden will actually mean something.

I hope you enjoyed "Tales of Hoffmann." I love it, too. (I've seen it performed live with Placido Domingo.) There's something we have in common.

José Solano said...

Actually another thing we have in common is that we both recognize that Obama and Biden are really liars and hypocrites on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. They are closeted same-sex marriage and abortion proponents because as you note: “It would be difficult . . . for any politician to win a presidential election in America if they came out in favor of gay marriage.”

Now there is something very interesting in your statement. You recognize by this how great is the opposition to same-sex marriage in our nation and that Obama/Biden stoop to deceive the people if they would be president/VP.

You actually would have to indict the vast majority of inhabitants on earth throughout all time with that nonsense term “homophobe”, invented by homosexualists merely to insult people who recognize the absurdity of homosexual practices.

We are also in agreement that Obama/Biden will work to overturn the DOMA.

That’s precisely why pro-life people who care for marriage and family must vote for McCain/Palin. No one would imagine they are liars on these issues.

Although you go to great lengths to demonize McCain/Palin the fact is that there will be no significant difference on the great money issues of our nation regardless of who gets in.

This thread has run long enough and as it has fallen below the “radar screen” hardly anyone is reading.

You are free to have the last word. Try to avoid more ad hominems.

I wish you peace and God’s abundant mercy.

Bob A. said...

To Jose:

For starters, your claim that "homophobe" was invented by "homosexualists" is completely false. George Weinberg invented the term "homophobe" for one of his books back in 1972. He is a psychologist, married to the same charming woman for many decades, and completely heterosexual.

We've seen statistically in this nation that younger people are far more open to homosexual marriage than are older people, and, thus, as older people die off, and younger people are born, the statistics are continually changing in favor of gay unions, whether you like it or not. Although it is still true that a significant majority of Americans oppose gay marriage per se, I believe that many are against the term "marriage" as applied to gay unions. However, when Americans are given three choices, the result is different: 32 percent of American voters say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry while 33 percent support civil unions for same-sex couples and 29 percent say there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples. Additionally, voters oppose 56 - 38 percent amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. And by a 49 - 45 percent margin, voters nationwide say their states should not attempt to ban same-sex marriage. (These statistics are taken from the most recent Quinnipiac poll taken in mid-July 2008.) A morderate majority of Democrats support gay marriage, while a vast
majority of Republicans are opposed. Consequently, you're in the correct party, if that is your major issue.

In 1996, a study was done at the University of Georgia that showed how 80% of homophobic men were themselves closet homosexuals to some degree (54% strongly so, and 26% moderately so. Only 20% of these homophobic men were completely heterosexual). These men were attached to a plethysmograph (known as a "peter meter"), which measures the circumference of the penis as a gauge of sexual arousal. They were then shown X-rated videos of males together and their penile responses were noted. (I thought I'd throw in this little tidbit for the enlightenment of those who know homophobic men.)


It's hardly a news item that Obama is in favor of getting rid of DOMA. But since you don't have a TV, you probably don't know that this issue came up at one of the Democratic primary debates, and ALL the candidates said that they would work to overturn DOMA, including Hillary Clinton, whose husband first signed it into law. Thus, Obama and Biden are not lying about their position, which has always been that gay marriage should be a states' issue only.

It's true that in 2004, Republicans successfully used the gay marriage issue to get core Evangelical voters to put George W. Bush back in the White House. This plan was created by Karl Rove, whose beloved gay stepfather was dying at the time Rove enacted this strategy.

After eight years of Bush, however, the majority of our population has had enough. Under Republican rule, the economy has tanked, people can no longer obtain credit, we've been involved in an illegal war in Iraq, bin Laden is still at large, our infrastructure has deteriorated, climate change has been ignored in order to make rich oil corporations richer, New Orleans is still on its knees, our civil liberties have been eroded and Americans have been illegally spied upon, the rest of the world has condemned the Bush Administration for rendition practices of kidnapping and torturing prisoners in secret prisons. The list is endless. In my humble opinion, your desire to vote another four years of the Bush agenda (since McCain-Palin offer nothing different in terms of actual plans) simply based on alleged "family values" is unrealistic. Fortunately, the majority of Americans are sadder but wiser than they were four years ago.

hisgrace said...

Do you fear God.You would tell hundreds upon thousands of people to vote for someone who is ok with abortion as as long as there are other issues you can agree on?I would run from your church because I don't want to be there when the lightning bolt hits it.I bet you do not publish this quote.That's OK.It is between you and God anyway.

Ben Witherington said...

Let me ask you something 'His grace'. Do you fear God? If you support the war in Iraq, then clearly there is some doubt about that since God says Vengeance is his, not ours. I am not telling anyone who to vote for. I am telling them the factors, as Christians we should consider in doing so. And just for the record, Obama is not 'in favor' of abortion, so you need to do a little more study.

Thanks

BW3

Doug said...

BW3:"Let me ask you something 'His grace'."

Dr. Witherington, you simply haven't learned, as I have, that abortion is the only atrocity that matters. All other atrocities may simply be ignored. ;)

Shalom,
Doug

Brett R said...

Doug,

You said:

Dr. Witherington, you simply haven't learned, as I have, that abortion is the only atrocity that matters. All other atrocities may simply be ignored. ;)

Doug, why are the actions of the third Reich held in such disregard when in fact they killed far less innocents than did the war against Russia? I can see your logic applied to the Third Reich.

Your attempt at moral equivalency here seems as a scoff at the evils of abortion. Are you on blogs condemning those that speak about Iraq or even Darfur because they don't speak out against Abortion? I certainly hope so, but your criticism seems to be for anyone against abortion.

Do you not see the difference between the legalized slaughter of human beings with a war from a legitimate governmental authority against a what is very clearly an evil regime. Is the US in Iraq for the express purposes of murdering innocents? It seems to me that we have tried to avoid the killing of innocents as much as possible. Even if the War against Iraq is unjust, it is far less so than the slaughter of over a million babies per year.

Our country allows for the slaughter of over 1 million babies per year. And all you can do is point to other countries?

Is abortion not a plank in our eye?

Brett R said...

I want to say one more thing.

For you guys that say you are against Abortion, but don't have the scruples to stand against the practice itself for fear of ignoring some other evil; please get the he** out of the way of those that would stand against this atrocity, and at least let those that are willing fight against this injustice. Maybe these ARE some of the same people fighting against the genocide in Eastern Europe and in Darfur.

Brett R said...

And just for the record, Obama is not 'in favor' of abortion, so you need to do a little more study.


Perhaps he doesn't favor abortion (actions speak louder than words), but he does favor its complete legalization (in any stage) as well as the forcing the taxpayers to fund it.

But as a pacifist, you must just through your arms up as this is a moral equivalent to war.

I guarantee you that 20 million Russians would not have died if we would have just let Germany dominate Europe.

This is a great example on why Pacifism is a pretty much useless... Standing up to evil is totally incoherant to a pacifists. Rather, we must just worship power as it is currently manifested.

charles ray loudermilk said...

Last year, presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., made a promise to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act," he said.

The so-called Freedom of Choice Act could wipe away every state law limiting abortion, undoing decades of legal work, research and educational successes.

Wake up. Why is my FIRST issue that I look upon to vote for about killing babies... maybe because it is wrong...and 45 million babies is more than any war casualty count.

He wants to cancel any states regulation of killing babies.. up to the 9th month.. Yeah, cut up the baby in the womb and take it out piece by peice..or burn it with saline then take it out..or partial delivery of just the head..cut a hole and vacuum the brain out..

Is that the President you want. Doesn't seem to have to much hope in compassion for the least of these, nor does OBAMA have any change for better life.. this is obivious.

You say I'm ONE ISSUE...no I"M FIRST ISSUE!

charles ray loudermilk said...

Hey ben

I'm really confused... I thought the government was given the sword...romans 13? Yeah I know chapter 12 tells us how to love our neighbor... but does that love include allowing violent evil actions against the "innocent" to go unchecked? Allow Hitler to kill as many Jewish, Christians and Lithuanians as he wanted in any horrific way that he wanted? He only got to 11 million... however liberals and planned parenthood have made it to 45 million...

Is it not comparable? Maybe we shouldn't have fought in WW2 or WW1 for that matter...

Who says support for the war in Iraq is venegence? I see no act of personal vindication in this war..I see UN resolutions that were broken for 8+years and the consequential actions to remove a horrible regime in a very volatile area of the world carried out.. I see the sons of saddam unable to carry out their rape room sessions... and saddam unable to execute people in plastic shredding machines.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/thunderer/article1120757.ece

Jon said...

Dr. Witherington, I recently posted the comment below on a related but older thread of your site and see now that it seems to be inactive in comparison with this thread. Would you be willing to post it here, too, in hopes that it might offer some worthwhile morsels for thought in this heated debate?

May I make three brief comments for consideration by Dr. Witherington and other participants here?

1. Perhaps it is time to retire concern about the life of the mother as a serious issue in the debate about abortion politics since very few Americans support a ban in these extreme situations – varying statistics I have seen for EVANGELICALS indicate a low of 6% to a high of no more than 15% oppose such an exception. Also, statistics suggest the health of the mother is the main reason given for having an abortion in only 4% of cases.

2. Isn’t the juxtaposition of abortion with the death penalty a pretty typical but ultimately unsatisfying argument? Are the persons whose lives will be taken – in other words, an indisputably innocent baby and a convicted criminal – really the same? Is the “choice” that is made really so similar: a woman who decides to end her baby’s life because she isn’t ready, has too little money, is single or has enough children already (these compose the overwhelming majority of cases) vs. the state, which conducts a complicated and lengthy trial in which a person charged with heinous crimes is permitted to present a defense and finally is judged by a jury of peers? Not to mention the subsequent appeals process.

3. “Pro-choice is not the same as pro-abortion.” This statement seems closely related to the positions of folks like formerly pro-life government official Douglas Kmiec, who says he supports Mr. Obama because the candidate is definitely pro-choice but truly wants to make abortion rare. Like others on this blog thread, I sometimes tire of the never-ending struggle over this painful topic and wish it would go away, but I must say that I saw the issue specifically for this election in a new light upon reading the article at the link below by Robert George, a Princeton professor of legal philosophy who also happens to hold a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. This is a level of extremism I cannot look away from.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/
viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=
2008.10.14_George_Robert_Obama%
27s%20Abortion%20Extremism_.xml

Or go to this link http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/ and seek the George articles in the middle.

Thank you for hearing me out.