Posts Tagged integrity

A Convenient Excuse

In nearly 30 years of Christian faith, and 25 years of professional ministry, I am still amazed at the ease with which people make excuses for not actively fellowshipping with a Christian assembly.

Recently, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation ending the death penalty and commuting the 15 inmates presently on death row when the law takes effect on July 1, 2011. As justification for the move, Quinn cited potential errors in the system, also chanting the ever popular mantra of racism, citing death sentences “may be imposed on minorities and poor people more than on the wealthy, white defendants.” The AP pointed out that, although Quinn commuted the death sentences of the current 15 inmates, they will still serve life in prison with no hope of parole. “If the system can’t be guaranteed 100 percent error-free, then we shouldn’t have the system;” Quinn said, “It cannot stand.” You can read the AP article by going here.

America is one of 58 nations employing the death penalty (if we may borrow that term) according to Amnesty International, along with China, Thailand, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Japan.

Interestingly enough, Illinois death penalty inmate Gary Gauger is quoted as saying “The death penalty is a throwback to a time when society did not have the ability to hold homicidal maniacs for the rest of their lives.” To add further consolation to the families of victims killed by these inmates, Governor Quinn offered the “family of Illinois” was with them.

It would seem Americans would grow tired of being treated as less than intelligent by elitists in legislative positions. A simple review of this account reveals a number of shocking “ideals” held by these same elitists which are not commonly held by the average American. Let’s review what is really being said by this move, shall we?

Governor Quinn, in commuting 15 death sentences, has essentially pruned the judicial branch from the American system of government. In his defense, this seems to be a popular trend of late, and however wrong it may be, he is simply parroting our narcissistic culture of relativism. In one fell swoop, Governor Quinn has silenced the voice of “peers” who served as jurors over the trials of these criminals. Additionally, he has removed the penalty for such violent actions by lifting the responsibility of sentencing from our judicial branch and promptly placed it under the subjugation of the legislative branch. It must be noted the elites love to use the sliding rule of government to their advantage, making adjustments between the Judicial & Legislative branches as it suits their agenda, paying no heed to true justice or the protection of the American citizen.

A comparison of the nations which employ the death penalty is deviously cited as more than a simple comparison. It is, in fact, intended to communicate an association with non-progressive thinking. Apart from the United States, Japan is the only other “developed nation” on the list. Such an association adds punch to their position by the absurd conclusion the US judicial system is similar to that of Iran, Iraq or Thailand, and, as such, mutually exclusive to progressive thinking. Ask any of these same legislators if they would prefer to be indicted under charges in the US or one of the other 57 nations and they would not hesitate in choosing America. Why? Because, imperfect as it is, the American judicial system is still better than any other system in the world… or at least it has been until now.

Another subtle tool employed by such civil engineers is to appeal to the masses. I’m going to get on a soap box here, people, so be warned. It really fries my biscuits to hear otherwise intelligent people refer to America as a “Democracy”. Our founding fathers structured America as a Republic, not a Democracy. As a Republic, we depend upon responsible representation of American ideals in government… not the mentality of the majority ruling. Just because the majority wants something, it does not mean it is the most responsible or beneficial thing. Who really cares if more people want violent criminals locked up for life rather than face death as retribution for their crimes against humanity? It still doesn’t make it right. In such an environment, injustice reigns and no culture can stand in an environment of anarchy. I for one am growing increasingly tired of these “wards of the state” and recognize the only way of reversing this downward slope is by imposing greater penalties, not loosening the belt and providing room and board.

I do value human life, and, as such, must impress the ultimate punishment for those who do not.

The “100% Guarantee” can never be implemented in any system by man, nor should it be expected in any other area, yet it is often presented as justification for radical social changes. Similar to “throwing the baby out with the bath water”, power hungry elitists love to use this 100% concept while ignoring the facts regarding actual death penalties. Certainly, there will be mistakes made in the judicial system of criminal penalty; however, in light of the exceptionally small number of executions, they are essentially non-existent. One recent report by the Death Penalty Information Center mentions “mistakes” in their 2010 year end report, however, no citations of such mistakes are offered.

Subjective “moral standards” are neither a standard, nor moral.

Such is the appeal of the “informed” who force radical change upon the common citizen under the plea of enlightenment, tolerance, open mindedness, advancement or whatever rhetorical catch phrase is in season at the time. And, in answer to the argument against the death penalty due to “racism inherent to the system” I must say “give me a break”! No other nation in the world has provided a greater voice for minorities than the USA. This is not a skin color issue… it is a moral issue. Large numbers of minorities are presently incarcerated precisely because of the type of moral flip-flop in our culture. Groups which honor and venerate cop killers, gangstas, drug pushers and civil irresponsibility as a whole will naturally comprise the larger representation within the criminal system. It isn’t because “the man” is holding them down, and it is not exclusive to any single ethnic group.

Please do not misunderstand me to think human life, even of the criminal, is not of value. Au contraire, I do value human life, and, as such, must impress the ultimate punishment for those who do not. It is offensive to think the appeal made by such change is the nobler, honorable, moral high road of valuing human life. In fact, it is just the opposite. What is actually being said by such legislative positioning is the life of the “homicidal maniac” (to quote the aforementioned convict Gauger) is valued above the victims of his mania. The fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees “Due Process” under the law… where is the due process in this legislative move? It is truly absurd to consider such positioning would be tolerated by the American citizen. And yet, it is. Why? Because America has (in large) surrendered her values and abandoned moral standards for the sake of convenience.

Subjective “moral standards” are neither a standard, nor moral.

At this point, you may be asking “What does Illinois have to do with Christian involvement in the assembly?” Well, consider the following.

Governor Quinn’s “100%” appeal is the same ol’ worn out excuse used by the unbelieving, as well as lazy, uncommitted Christians today. Namely, “I don’t attend Church because I’ve known too many Hypocrites who go to Church.” or “I’ve been hurt” or “I’ve seen too much evil” or “I’ve known Churches who have split” and on, and on, and on they go. Are you serious? In an age of “enlightenment”, let’s employ a little logical thinking with this excuse and see how well it holds up.

  • Should you stop eating because you’ve noticed gluttony, obesity, eating disorders or waste of food?
  • Should you stop driving because you’ve seen too many people violating the law, engaged in rude behavior or driving recklessly?
  • Have you sworn never to enter a romantic relationship due to the high rate of divorce, spousal abuse or unhappiness you’ve witnessed in others?
  • Have you stopped breathing in a statement against air pollution, the possibility of airborne disease, or in taking a stand against lung disorders?
  • Should you have your teeth pulled as a protest against tooth decay, your hair pulled out in a plea against baldness and refuse to see a doctor due to medical malpractice?

Shall I continue? To appeal for the “100%” rule demands consistency in all areas.

You see, the proper response to injustice, civic unrest or anarchy is to raise the bar of responsibility, not lower it. Criminals must be punished, severely in certain cases and entirely in others for those who have, by their actions, shown no regard for human life.

Unfortunately, folks who claim to be Christian often succumb to the same tactics employed by culture in an attempt to exempt themselves from active faith. This only underscores our struggle against self, or lack of struggle as the case may be. First of all, we do not “go to Church” anymore than a fish goes swimming. We are the Church and we gather together at a building, or another meeting place. People do not “do Church”, rather… we are Church. Secondly, the contemporary concept of “Church should meet my needs” is completely bogus. God is worthy of our worship, even if we should “get” nothing out of it… the simple truth is we receive much out of true worship offered to God. Honestly, I don’t care so much about catchy songs as I do about honoring God, being challenged to spiritual growth, greater service, stronger faith and edification of someone else.

Bottom line, be honest enough with yourself to admit why you really choose not to actively assemble with the Church. It just isn’t as high of a priority as other things.

You can check out another topic along the lines of Democracy by going here.

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Sons & Daughters #3: “Sexual Connection”

There seems to be much confusion in the world about sex… on one hand, from a secular point of view, sex seems to be only animalistic or mechanical, while from the perspective of the Church there is almost complete silence on the topic. The approach of nearly every secular sex therapist or secular marriage counselor is to use lust based advice. Day time talk shows which have addressed the topic of sex encourage all sorts of lust based advice. The notorious “Dr. Ruth” encourages all sorts of people to “explore their sexuality”, which means “go out & do whatever to whomever so longs as it feels good.”

The modern Church still deals with the impact created by many misguided individuals from early Church history. In a moral knee jerk response to the prevalence of immorality in early cultures, false teachings about sex developed. Seneca, a philosopher from 4BC to AD 65 made the following observation about the culture: “I see silk clothes, if these qualify as ‘clothes,’ which do nothing to hide the body, not even the genitals … Our women have nothing left to show their lovers in the bedroom that they haven’t already revealed on the street.” Upon the introduction of Christian faith the necessity for purity & sexual integrity caused Christians to allow the pendulum to swing a little too far, shown by the teaching of Peter Lombard (AD 1100-1164) when he stated “The Holy Spirit leaves the room when a married couple has sex, even if they do it without passion to make new virgins for the kingdom of heaven.” His opinion was widely embraced by the Church which specified intercourse as a means of procreation only, not intended for pleasure. This is one of the influences upon Catholic restriction of the use of birth control. Others chimed in, ringing similar tones on this issue.

By 1894 a publication entitled “Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride” by Ruth Smythers contained this advice: “At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: give little, give seldom, and above all give grudgingly.”

So, for centuries the Church allowed the false presentation of prudish behavior equating to holiness, while the secular world ran rampant with its involvment in the fun of sexual expression coupled with the danger of no moral boundaries or guidance from the Church. No wonder the world has developed such a false impression of the Church, and believes that the Church is out of touch. Unfortunately, the Church has still remained relatively silent on the issue and has allowed powerhouses of immorality, like Planned Parenthood, to infect the minds of generations of young people. The Church needs to take a stand against such destructive, false teachings, and begin to pull our people out of the Hollywood, HBO & VH1 mentality of human sexual behavior. We can no longer sit idle by while those who advocate & participate in deviant sexual behavior influence the minds of people.

It has been said that the working definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing while expecting different results.

The Church holds the truth about sexuality and it is time that we break the silence. Our world uses people and reduces them to objects until they are no longer appealing or useful, then discards them with no regard. There are two responses from the Church which are vital to reaching people:

  • Compassionately reach out to those who are hurting & isolated because of their sexual decisions. The only hope for complete healing is the Gospel and the redemption offered by Jesus.
  • Intervene between people and sources of false teaching, like Planned Parenthood. The Church must no longer allow only one side (the destructive side) of sexuality to be taught.

It has been said that the working definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing while expecting different results. Church, we must be bold enough to abandon the passive, silent posture of the Church over the centuries and begin to reach out to the hurting, speak out to those who are listening, and live out the message of Jesus in living color.

The Church holds the truth about sexuality and it is time that we break the silence.

Since we have already covered the intimacy factor of the ‘one flesh’ relationship, as well as the need for creating & maintaining sexual integrity in the relationship, this week i will address how to strengthen the sexual connection of the relationship. We will be addressing the bold Scriptural teachings of sexual fulfillment in the one flesh relationship, and equipping singles to maintain their integrity.

Reading in preparation for the message includes:

  • Genesis 2
  • Song of Solomon 4
  • 1 Corinthians 7

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Sons & Daughters #2: “Sexual Integrity”

In my first message, I shared the three essential components to the “One Flesh” relationship from Genesis 2. Both partners in the relationship must openly & honestly assess where they are in light of these three components, which are the Intimacy component, the Sexual component and the Spiritual component. It must be noted that each of these components are necessary for a healthy, God honoring marriage, and when any component is weak or missing the marriage will suffer.

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.
22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Genesis 2:21-25, NASB’95

Paul addresses the issue of sexual immorality, which was prevalent throughout the Roman Empire, in a number of places in Scripture. The Pagan, polytheistic religions of the Romans was quite removed from the Christian monotheistic faith. One of the areas which was difficult for new converts to Christianity was the issue of morality as defined by Christ. Adding to this change in lifestyle was the ongoing influence of a sexually saturated culture which considered sex to be simply a recreational activity. The only element of religious influence on sexuality was the temple Aphrodite and the religious ‘services’ offered by the temple prostitutes (male & female) who solicited ‘offerings’ in exchange for their sexual services. One may compare the cultural environment to a live walk-through of the Internet, without the sense of anonymity created on the net. Suffice it to say, there was nothing left to the imagination in this culture.

As one can imagine, it was difficult for any Christian man to maintain sexual integrity in such an ‘in your face’ environment. Further, it would be very difficult for families to counter the influences of such a culture upon their children and young men. Demosthenes, a prominent Greek statesman and Orator, stated of this era: “Men have three women. 1 for bearing children, 1 for sexual pleasure and 1 for pursuit.” The idea of monogamy was almost completely foreign in the Roman culture, yet, Paul remained consistent in the expectation that a man was to be exclusive to one woman in terms of a marriage relationship. One cannot read the New Testament Scripture without coming to this conclusion.

Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Hebrews 13:4, NASB’95

Our culture is similar to that of the early Christians living in the Roman Empire. There are numerous avenues of temptation, some of which provide a false sense of anonymity in their participation, (like pornographic materials or online Pornography) while others are public (like prostitution or adultery). Single men are encourage to be the “stud” by engaging in numerous sexual encounters under the false understanding that their virility & masculinity is only enhanced by numerous sexual encounters. What is not often discussed is the huge emotional, and often physical, impact impressed upon the lives of those who engage in such activity. (Not to mention the terrible scars which often impede spiritual growth.) Men & women who engage in such sexual activity are opening themselves to terrible influences which can forever impact their relationship and prevent them from experiencing true sexual fulfillment.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;
28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 5:27-28, NASB’95

Sexual Integrity must be achieved & maintained in every Christian marriage. How is this possible in today’s society?

  • First, by guarding the heart. Proverbs 4:23 says to guard or watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Jesus has identified that the things we say are an expression from our heart. Reserve your emotion & attention for your spouse. Emotional infidelity and infatuation can lead to destruction of your relationship.
  • Second, by guarding the eyes. Everything that a person takes in, whether it be images or sounds, influences our thoughts and actions. Jesus placed high priority on the actions of our mind, and even stated openly that a man can commit adultery in his mind. Jesus did not say that this was like adultery, He said a man commits adultery. Participation in anything which visually or mentally stimulates lustful actions or thoughts is not acceptable for Christians.
  • Third, understand that God is not a prude. So many people are under the false impression that the world is the one who understands & creates sexual fulfillment, and that the Church (God) is a prude. Nothing can be further from the truth. every ‘restriction’ created by God is for our benefit, to prevent us from enduring sufferings and lack of fulfillment. Sexual integrity is the only means of protecting & strengthening your marriage relationship. It is not possible, even by accident, to prevent your eyes from seeing such tempting images, however, we must learn not to allow our eyes to linger upon such imagery, under risk of producing lustful thoughts, which lead to lustful actions and behaviors.
  • Finally, marriage partners must learn to be open & accountable to one another. Open, honest communication is absolutely necessary to achieve harmony, security and sexual fulfillment in a marriage. Do not operate under the false assumption that your partner knows (or should know) what you need without you expressing your needs to them. Also, do not be defensive when your spouse poses questions to you regarding your sexual integrity. This is not an assault upon you, rather, it is an opportunity for you to strengthen your integrity with them. Allow questions to be asked so that you can establish a higher degree of accountability, thus building confidence in your spouse.
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