Thursday, October 30, 2014
This October 31, many Memphians will be out celebrating what is today referred to as Halloween. In many regards, Halloween is considered a major holiday in the US, perhaps surpassing Thanksgiving and coming in behind Christmas, which is the number one celebrated holiday. But is Halloween a holiday that should be celebrated, particularly among Christians? According to one website, Wiccans see this as one of their eight major holidays, so how should Christians respond?
According to Dictionary.com, the name Halloween is derived from All Saint’s Day even though the Christian holiday doesn’t have any resemblance to the holiday celebrated today. In fact, it is more likely based on the Celtic New Year, which at that time celebrated the dead arising for one night, among other things.
There are several aspects regarding Halloween that should raise “red flags” among Christian believers. However, it is a matter of disagreement even within the Christian community about whether Christians in general should be involved in the holiday or not. While some arguments “for” participation may have merit, there is one aspect of the argument that is completely left out and will be discussed later.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
It appears that in the era of political correctness the error of believing “everything should be equal” is creating a breakdown in society and creating a lot of confusion. While being treated the same on some level is a noble thought, the reality is that we’re not all the same. On that premise, Matt Walsh wrote a very good blog post explaining why there is no such thing as marriage equality. And there is a lot of truth to that.
There are a lot of reasons why we’re not the same or should be treated the same. In society’s twisted logic, equality seems to trump every rational reason for the order of nature and nature’s law. Physically, emotionally, and psychologically men and women are different. Yet society would stipulate that equality must exist in order to promote fairness in every facet of life. While there are many things that men and women can do that are the same and can be considered equal, there are significant differences in the dynamics of the genders that can be and should be appreciated. Men, if they take on their proper roles as fathers in the family, impact their children in their psychological well-being and social behavior that cannot be substituted by only having a mother present. They are also vitally important in how they eventually relate to God the Father. Moreover, women are extremely important in the influence of their children’s lives as they promote stability, academic success, and emotional and psychological health, to name a few. Again, these are attributes and benefits that cannot be substituted if only a father were present in the children’s lives.
Certainly there are many other examples that can be given to illustrate the point that equality, or fairness, is not always the wisest course of action. Yet governments often use this tactic of equality to advance their agenda. In this day and age, people are increasingly falling prey to the idea that wealth ought to be equal. For example, there is a class of people who get an education, work hard, take risks, and are ultimately successful. They are thereby rewarded with wealth and a higher standard of living. However, there is a different class of people who don’t work as hard or put in nearly enough effort; but, because of envy toward the rich, they feel slighted somehow. So, in order to bring about this idea of equality, society pushes the government to create laws and policies that effectively force wealth redistribution. Some may see this idea, which is termed Socialism, as a good thing; many others do not.
Equality sounds like a good idea on the surface. In many ways, equality works if it’s appropriate. If a woman works at the same job and does the same work at the same level as a man, she should receive equal pay. There are applications in life that this principle can be proven fair and effective. However, life isn’t always fair and is usually beyond our control. Consider how a young man who is healthy, exercises, and eats right. This person is then diagnosed with cancer. The cancer is so extreme, such as stage IV type cancer, this guy only has six months to live. Within three or four months, he is given in to the disease and dies. Now, another person comes along who does nothing to take care of herself. She sits around all day eating junk food and is physically non-active. She is soon discovered to have stage IV type cancer as well. However, because of aggressive treatments her cancer is caught in time and it goes into remission. If life were fair and everyone were treated equal, it would stand to reason that the woman should have died as well. That would be fair.
To be certain, differences exist in nature, and by association in the affairs of man, that we should not only accept but appreciate. It’s a world in which God created. And if the world is viewed through a Biblical perspective, it’s much easier to appreciate and understand. To further illustrate this point, we could examine fairness from God’s perspective. Take, for example, our rebellious nature and how we have sinned against God. Do we really want God to give us exactly what we deserve, what is fair and equitable? In Scripture, Romans 3:10-18 tell us that there is no one righteous; in fact, we’re all worthless because there is no one who does good. This is significant because following these verses is another passage, Romans 3:23, that tells us that we all have sinned. Now follow this thought over to Romans 6:23, where Scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death. Fairness dictates that we all should die.
Ponder the previous point that we have all sinned and should die. Understand that there is nothing inherently good about any one of us. We sin and we do things that are abhorrent to God, our Creator. God, being the Creator, is also Judge over heaven and earth. He decides our beginning and our end. And it is His judgment that to sin is to deserve death. This death is not just physical death but spiritual death. Since being with God is eternal life, being separated from God is eternal death. That’s what is at stake. The Bible talks about how this kind of death, or in other words going to hell, is what we deserve. So while we’re contemplating this idea of equality, let’s face the fact that with all things being fair or equal, what we deserve is God’s wrath.
Now consider the notion that instead of dooming mankind to eternal hell and separation from Him, which the Bible describes as torment, God instead formulates a plan to save us. As Judge, He determines that mankind is guilty. But in the process of penalizing us for our sins, as a merciful and gracious Redeemer, He determines there is a way for us to be justified and reconciled back to Him. From the beginning of time, blood has had significance regarding life; as in life giving. In the Old Testament, to offer pure, unblemished sacrifices with bulls and goats and such was a symbolic way to show that blood was a substantial aspect in atoning for sins. What God did was go above and beyond to show His love for us by offering as a sacrifice His one, and only Son. Jesus was the ultimate, perfect, spotless Lamb of God. Jesus’s blood that was shed on the cross effectively washed away our sin once and for all. So, in referencing the other part of Romans 6:23, God’s Word tells us that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Interestingly, Jesus who was perfect and sinless was offered up as a sacrifice for our sins. We sinned and Jesus paid the price. Do you see the irony here? Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What exactly is fair about that? Do we demand equality and fair treatment in regards to our sin? Do we want to demand fairness in order to receive what we deserve, God’s wrath? Or do we dare believe that we can cry out for mercy and receive His forgiveness, thus avoid our “due wages.”
The unfair treatment of Jesus is an example of why this post is titled, “What’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander.” Who would volunteer to say that they want to receive the same torture, punishment, ridicule, and execution on the cross that Jesus endured that led to His death? Who would want to experience the most horrific death imaginable, and then have the weight of their sins placed on their shoulders and die a spiritual death? Jesus endured spiritual death and, as a result, was separated from God the Father for a period of time; who would want to experience that for even a millisecond?
There’s another reason why we shouldn't think that since something works for one person that it should be the same for everybody. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes something about this regarding the treatment of believers within the church. He tells us that among believers we shouldn’t assume that we’re all the same in terms of maturity and spiritual development. Instead of arguing that we should act as if we’re all equal, Paul assumes that the more mature Christian should take the responsibility of caring for and being sensitive to the less mature believer.
Maybe what Paul is talking about in Romans is not necessarily only about maturity. It’s more about caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what spiritual path we’re on. Consider what Paul has to say in these passages:
13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.
What Paul tells us in these passages is that the Lord God has provided everything to us for our enjoyment. Don’t misunderstand this statement. What God has provided for us to enjoy, man has taken and perverted it in many ways. So, for example, drinking a beverage from the fruit of the vine is something considered good initially. However, man found a way to take something good and use it in excess and therefore become drunk and influenced by wine. That is not good and is not an example of what Paul would say is acceptable behavior.
What, then, is Paul talking about? Let’s take the example of wine as an illustration. As Christians, is it wrong for us to consume alcoholic beverages, such as wine? One could argue that it perfectly acceptable, according to Paul’s statement. But what if there’s another believer that takes issue with it? That believer may have experiences in his or her family history that the thought of consuming alcohol causes problems spiritually and may cause him or her to stumble. Paul would exhort the Christian that finds alcohol acceptable to refrain from drinking if it causes division or other problems within the church. What Paul says is that we should make every effort to be at peace with each other and do what is edifying for the church’s spiritual growth and development.
As Christians, let’s not get caught up in the world’s ways of doing things. Political correctness seems to be the driving, and dividing mechanism that governs how the culture conducts itself. But instead of thinking what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, let’s think instead of what we can do or say that will benefit others and bring about their edification. It’s far better to be deprived of something, and even endure unfairness for a while, if in the end love wins out and promotes healthy relationships among the brethren. Hopefully, this kind of attitude and approach will help someone along their spiritual journey and draw them closer to Christ.
Equality is not everything. Unless, of course, you’re one of those who wants to be fair and get what you deserve. Who out there is standing in line for God’s wrath?