Dr. Herb Titus is a Harvard-educated constituional law scholar. His blog post below (from two years ago) is electrifying. Read it:
Dr. Herb Titus is a Harvard-educated constituional law scholar. His blog post below (from two years ago) is electrifying. Read it:
Friday morning, up and down the sidewalk.
Beads, beads, rote prayers, signs.
These are the little waves slapping softly, relentless, against the rocks.
Erode, erode, wear it down.
Sometimes a conversation with a scared girl on the way in,
Pushed by mother or boyfriend towards a decision as final as Judgment Day.
On a blue moon, one changes her mind. The mother cries.
The scale tips. One gets to live.
Most times it’s in and out: two go in, one comes out;
But even the survivor is victim, of the most heartless con
Ever run in this earth.
At the turn of the year, resolutions are in vogue. Lose weight, stop smoking, achieve certain business and financial goals, advance the bucket list, become a better husband/father,wife/mother, pipefitter, first baseman...and so it goes. By February most resolutions are on the ash heap of history.
I have a few personal intentions and desires for this year. For now I'll keep them to myself. But I have one for the church- that is, the body of believers in Christ, the fellowship of the redeemed from all denominations - that I would like to share.
I pray for the Body of Christ in the United States of America to receive the gift of repentance this year. What, you may say...I've already repented of my sins and received Christ as my Savior. And when I do stumble, I confess my sins to the Lord and receive His forgiveness and cleansing according to 1 John 1:9. And I would agree that this is true and necessary and good. But there is more, far more from a corporate perspective.
Those of us who follow Christ believe that He is the answer for individuals, that every man or woman who will receive Him in the free pardon and forgiveness of sins becomes His child and holds the promise of eternal life. The Body of Christ to which I refer is made up of multitudes of individuals who have done just that, and who are marching up to the eternal Zion step by step.
But if Jesus Himself is the answer for individuals, then what is the answer for societies, for nations and cultures? Jesus aswered that question very early in His public ministry on earth in delivering the iconic Sermon on the Mount, when He addressed His followers and said, "Ye are the salt of the earth...Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt then was more than a flavoring; it was the principal preservative and disinfectant. And the word translated "earth" is GE (using our alphabet), which additionally means "soil", "country" and "land." I believe it is no stretch to posit that Jesus intended His followers to be the corporate answer to societal ills, just as He Himself is the answer for individuals. He meant for the Body of Christ to be the preservative, disinfectant and flavoring of their societies and to be the counterweight to dysfunction and darkness in the world.
I've made it pretty clear in previous posts that I regard abortion as our great national sin, as the principal millstone around our national neck that is dragging us down into ruin as a nation. God's favor towards us these days is moving though a very narrow pipeline indeed. And if the church was designed to be God's answer to national and societal ills, where is the church on abortion? The answer is that the church is asleep at the switch (with apologies to the Catholics: they, almost entirely by themselves, have carried the water on abortion opposition. Evangelicals love to say they hate abortion, but it seldom goes any further than that).
We have beaten 2 Chronicles 7:14 to death, but seem not to hear what it is saying: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray ,and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (emphasis added). We still seem to think that it's up to the abortionists and Planned Parenthood executives and ghoulish HHS secretaries to experience a change of heart and put an end to the grisly work of dismembering babies, while we watch from a distance, arms folded, nodding approvingly as they come to the light. As long as this attitude prevails, so will abortion on demand in the United States of America. If my people...
So what does the Body of Christ need to repent of? The answer is this: a sin of omission so egregious that it must not escape our notice another day. The fact that this abomination continues day by day is a reproach to the church in its salt and light function. Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:13, "...Salt is good, but if the salt has lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men..." The church of today is in danger of becoming saltless salt, and as such, will be marginalized by society (isn't this happening now?), and ultimately kicked to the curb as historically in other nations. I've been reading up on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German preacher and martyr who was one of the minority of Christians in that nation who stood against Hitler. Reading what the Lutheran church went along with then tests one's credulity: I found myself thinking, if I didn't know that this already happened, I would think it couldn't happen.
God's answer is always, at bottom, spiritual. When the organ He has set in place to address societal problems fails to address them, then they are dealt with in an earthly, flesh-driven way. Charles Finney, the great revivalist of the nineteenth century, who was also a committed anti-slavery activist, said after the Civil War that the testimony of the church against slavery came too late to avert the war. Since the church didn't show up, it was addressed man's way: in a devastaing war in which 600,000 young men in a nation of only twenty-five million people, died, and countless others were maimed.
So where do we start? By repenting, every one of us, for what the church, comprised of all of us, has NOT done, that is, be a witness against a grievous evil. We should repent every day this holocaust continues. And then by praying. If we begin with repentance and prayer, all of us, then the Lord will surely reveal what comes next, for each of us, in this great fight.
This past Thursday the Centers For Disease Control released a statement in which they said essentially that they, and most of the medical establishment, had long been wrong about salt. In a stunning turnabout, they suggested that there is no real health benefit to the individual in reducing salt intake but that, quite to the contrary, people need salt, maybe two or three teaspoons of it daily.
Jesus of Nazareth made a similar point nearly two millenia ago, saying "Salt is good..." (Mark 9:50). He further developed the salt theme in the Sermon on the Mount, as follows: "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." (Matthew 5:13).
What was Jesus talking about? One can't answer that without considering how salt was used in ancient times. In addition to flavoring, it was the principal disinfectant and preservative. "Rubbing salt into the wound" is today a lament of insult added to injury, but back in the day it was a necessary prophylaxis against infection. And it you wanted to keep some meat or fish around for a while, it needed salt curing.
The Greek word translated "earth" in that verse is (using our alphabet) is GE, which also means "land" or "nation". And this is what I believe Jesus had in mind: that His followers were to be the preservative and disinfectant of their nation. It is no stretch to attribute the great blessedness of the United States throughout its history to the salting influence of the church in its midst. Tocqueville was spot on when he wrote that "America is great because America is good", and when he attributed the goodness/greatness of the nation to the fire from its pulpits. Periodically there have been widespread revivals which have had far-reaching civil as well as spiritual consequences. The First Great Awakening that began in the 1730's brought the colonists, who were somewhat adrift, back into a vibrant spirituality as well as a public and private morality. It may additionally have stirred the pot in the direction of independence. The Second Great Awakening, roughly a century later, was another national spirtual revival. Periodically since then there have been outbreaks here and there, none of them national in scope.
Today we, the evangelical church, mourn and lament our diminishing influence. We wring our hands over the abomination of abortion and the travesty of same-sex "marriage", and other moral and social ills. We sometimes chafe at the stripping away of what we deem our historic right to inform the culture, and feel that the culture is "out to get us" (yes, it is), and that we are being persecuted and maligned for our beliefs (if you read your Bible, what would surprise you about that?).
But it becomes increasingly and agonizingly clear that the problem is within. "We have met the enemy, and he is us", to quote the old Pogo strip. Here is my premise and my lament: we, the church in America, have become the poster children for the taste-challenged salt of Jesus' analogy. And when salt loses its flavor, as the Lord noted, there is nothing that can salt salt. At that point, He noted with divine precision and prescience, the salt is literally thrown out, and walked on by men.
What better describes the status of the church in America today, than "cast out, and...trodden under foot of men"? If you are a believer who agrees with this description of the position of the Body of Christ in America today, then you should also take to heart the reason Jesus gave for our being in that state: that is, that we've lost our taste.
Have we been the preservative in our nation? The answer may not be a simple yes or no. God's judgment, although appearing incrementally in recent years, has not yet been seen in anything like its fullness that has doomed previous civilzations. There are yet many in the land who "have not bowed unto Baal" (1 Kings 19:18), and who do cry out in intercession for this nation, and I think that is why the U.S.A. is still standing among the nations of the earth. God was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men. Undortunately there weren't ten, and Sodom was destroyed. The preservative function of the salt Christians is to cry day and night for the nation, that God would not only spare us His hand of judgment but would revive us again. God told Ezekiel, tragically, "...I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them..." (Ezekiel 22:30-31).
Have we functioned as disinfectant in the land? The Apostle Paul urged the Ephesian church to "...have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11) When an individual believer sticks his head out in the line of fire to call out some sinful behavior, he is nearly decapitated. What if the whole church stood against these things? But we are preoccupied with our own private concerns, we are passive, uninterested. Would Roe v Wade have happened in the midst of a culture leavened by the salt and light influence of a vibrant church? We have learned that Supreme Court decisions, ostensibly apolitical, are in reality quite poltiical, as witness the Roberts capitulation on the Affordable Care Act. Would the Roe majority have made up bogus new rights woven from the fabric of "emanations from penumbra" if the moral and spiritual climate of the nation had been different?
One more thing about the disinfectant mandate of the church. It is impossible for an entity such as the church to position itself as a moral arbitor of anything when said entity is riddled with public sex scandals, financial shenanigans, child abuse and other wretchedness. Cast out, and trodden under foot of men.
And what about flavoring? Have we made life in Christ attractive and desirable? Do we model Him to the world around us? Do we create a thirst for Jesus? Or do we inspire that which hypocrisy always inspires: revulsion?
We don't need to fear that the hookers and druggies and LGBTers and gangbangers and extortionists and crooked politicians are going to bring down the nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 sets forth a very simple formula for national renewal (emphasis added): "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." My brother and sister in the Lord, the fate of America is on us. Let us seek Him for revival in the land before it is too late.
A couple of additional thoughts on same-sex marriage:
1. Rand Paul, among others, has expressed hope that the Supreme Court will basically kick the matter of SSM back to the states, which is where in his view such decisions should be made. That sounds fine in principle, but in practice is nothing short of ridiculous, in that the very case currently before the Supremes resulted from a state's having made that very determination. Proposition 8 was that most democratic of initiatives, a referendum, wherein the people of California roundly rejected the oxymoronic same-sex "marriage." But wait...a federal judge, a self-identified homosexual named Vaughn Walker, voided the people's judgment. It's a commonplace occurrence today: a state passes a bill or a referendum, and, in our inverted system of today, a federal judge unilaterally subverts the will of the people. Our Constitution is still in place, but the practical fact is that federalism today is dead as a doornail. Maybe we could use a man like Andrew Jackson, who famously said of the Chief Justice of the United States, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it." (Note: in citing this quotation, I advance no opinion about the Worcester v. Georgia case; my point is that President Jackson, rightly or wrongly in this case, made a stand on a separation-of-powers basis, unlike, say, Governor Mitt Romney when the Mass. Supreme Court strong-armed the Legislature into creating an SSM bill.)
2. The question is often asked today, "What harm could same-sex marriage do to the rest of society?" The overarching answer is that moral corruption weakens any society. "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34) Homosexuality in itself is a moral failing, that is, a sin. But for a nation to codify and solemnize the sodomy and try to stretch God's institution of marriage to include it is an affront to the Creator, and to the American people. But in addition there are any number of roads the bullies in the SSM movement will go down in order to cram their quirks into every nook and cranny of American life. As pastor, I can easily envision coming demands that conservative Bible-based churches perform same-sex "marriages." This will of course be under the banner of the tortured, stretched and abused (and certainly by now in its reach unrecognizable to its authors) Fourteenth Amendment. When the churches refuse, they will be stripped of their tax-exempt status, thereby completely undermining the financial base of evangelical churches, and leaving only the politically correct, complying "churches" to enjoy the advantage. What makes you think that it wouldn't happen? Is it your confidence in the government's respect for First Amendment freedom of religion? Tell that to today's Catholic institutions, whose enumerated Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion doesn't seem to amount to a hill of beans in today's political and judicial climate.
Today some two thousand (2,000) nascent women will lose their lives in the killing fields of the RWOW (Real War On Women). Suctioned, dismembered, burned with saline, having their spinal cords severed, you name it. They won't make the Six 0'clock News (or the News at Eleven). There won't be any body bags flown home from the war theater, no taps blown, no honor guard, no flags folded and handed to grieving survivors. There is no monument with names. No posthumous medals are awarded. In many cases a drab stained dumpster is their Arlington.
In the parallel universe that is the habitat of our national media, there is another, more pressing War on Women, one in which privileged coeds at elite universities are crushed by the necessity of purchasing their own birth control pills and devices. Hunted by a relentless and patriarchal right-wing syndicate, they lurk in shadowy hideouts strategizing how next to further the fight against those who would coldheartedly refuse to finance strangers' abortions. Some of these intrepid women have found the courage to speak at political conventions and fearlessly expose the brutality of those who would suppress their reproductive liberty by withholding the funding of it. Others stick to the more low-profile but essential daily grind of undermining churches and American traditions and expanding moral parameters.
The media know and understand their duty. It would be easy for the public to minimize the plight of the offended coeds and their constituents, and perhaps to give an inordinate amount of emotional sway to those dead babies. These warriors of the microphone and keyboard are vigilant to balance the picture by framing the individual struggles of the repro-militants, and to keep the terminated products of conception in the background. After all, who ever knew them? What contribution could they ever make now? Besides, the optics are bad. Very bad. Which is why the media are careful to protect the American public and the prospective abortion clientele by helping to smother each of the enemies' repeated attempts to foist such inflammatory requirements as mandatory sonograms onto a vulnerable public.
I know that 1.3 million dead babies a year sounds bad. So does fifty-four million since 1973, when the Supreme Court heroically wrested control of the issue. And 600,000 dead baby girls per year could be construed as some kind of real war on women. That would be very unsettling to the public. So you know why there has to be a potemkin war on women, created as a public service campaign to save the Republic from a potential nervous breakdown.
I grow weary of the constant drip-drip of the same-sex marriage campaign. It dominates the media, and in my view has generated more utter nonsense than any other topic within recent memory. But today I feel I must add my take to the general clamor.
I guess the trigger for this post today is having read (again) that President Obama, once having based his opposition to SSM on his Christian faith, is now supporting it, based on- you guessed it- his Christian faith. What he says now is that the overriding message from the Savior here is that one should treat others as he himself wants to be treated. My first response to that is to agree (I discovered long ago that arguing with Jesus is the ultimate excercise in futility), and to say, amen. The way the Golden Rule plays out with me, though, is that the way I would want to be treated is that if you knew that some behavior in which I was engaging threatened to condemn me to an unspeakably wretched eternity, you would tell me so.
Not so President Obama, and his comrade-in-confusion, one Emanuel Cleaver, a U.S. Congressman from Missouri, who as a pastor is supposedly conversant with the Scriptures. He likes to go on about how the Scriptural prohibitions against homosexuality are found in the Old Testament, the "Hebrew Testament" as he likes to call it, and not in the New, or "Christian" Testament. I want to say of course that whatever in the Old Testament that is not explicitly obviated in the New (as is the case with animal sacrifices and dietary laws, for example, just to name a few) is still in play. But I'll pass on that and say that the New Testament can take care of itself when it comes to condemning homsexuality without any help from its older brother. Just reading Romans 1:21-28 will leave a mark if you believe that intrasex play is okay with the Lord.
But let's be more specific. We are talking more narrowly of same-sex marriage. One of the canards being perpetrated on this today is that Jesus Himself never said anything that specificially undermines the idea of SSM. Here I would beg to differ. Jesus actually, in His own words, completely ruled out same-sex unions. Here it is, in Matthew 19:4-5: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this cause (emphasis mine) shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?" For this cause: because God made them male and female, therefore a man leaves his parents and joins his wife, and they, in God's economy, become one. Jesus is also quoted saying the same thing in Mark 10:6-8. How do theological experts like Obama and Cleaver (and all the others who try to perpetrate this con) miss that? I mean, Jesus absolutely pulled the plug on SSM here.
Oh, and while I'm at it: there is also an appeal made these days to the Founders' principles of liberty and equality in making the argument for SSM. But does anybody really believe that the Founding Fathers had any notion that their efforts would support something like same-sex marriage? In their day, it's likely that no one even contemplated such a thing as a man marrying a man or a woman a woman. But I think we could extrapolate from a few statements and anecdotes that they would not have favored such a novel idea.
There was a lieutenant in Washington's army named Frederick Enslin, who was accused of attempted sodomy with another soldier. He was convicted at court martial, and sentenced to be dishonorably discharged. Washington's secretary wrote, "His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such infamous Crimes orders Lt. Enslin to drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning."
Thomas Jefferson once proposed to the Virginia Legislature that the punishment for sodomy be castration. I need to inject here that I favor no form of punishment or harassment of homosexuals, but I am making the point that neither the Bible nor the Founders who gave us our Constitution contemplated any such foolishness as same-sex marriage.
John Adams famously said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." My guess is that ol' John Adams, were he here today, would not be filing any amicus briefs in favor of same-sex marriage.
It seems everyone is weighing in on the unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut. Dozens are living through the worst nightmare known to humankind: the loss of a child. There are no words for those who are walking through this darkest and longest of nights. Some thoughts:
They say there’s a war on women. They say it may have swung the presidential election, or at least helped.
They say that women want their access to birth control untouched, and they want it paid for, by you and by me and by the Catholic Church among others. Oh, and don’t touch their abortions. It’s clear to me now that what women want most today is the unfettered right to kill their babies before those babies can mess up their lives. I know this because I watched as one of the political parties’ convention went wall-to-wall abortion. And I know this because there was no response from the other side. They must not have had a compelling answer. Or maybe they were afraid. They lost.
I grew up with a different idea about women. Old corny stuff. Would June Cleaver ever have considered aborting the Beav? Back in the day, it wasn’t on our radar screen. Of course I hadn’t yet learned about fearless pioneers like Margaret Sanger with her forward-looking Negro Project and other eugenics launches. The early American feminists, among them Susan B. Anthony, vehemently opposed abortion, noting that it was a practice, driven by men, that would deprive women of what was uniquely theirs. But a whole new thing began to percolate through the soil of modern-day feminism, and babies became bullets in the war on women.
I have a confession to make. I don’t see women who abort their babies as murderers, or as sinners greater than I. I believe that when a woman leaves the premises of an abortion provider, two people have been victimized. The main difference is that only one gets to walk out. And even that’s not always the case. But I can understand why a woman would not want her choices restricted by others. An unexpected or unwanted pregnancy can be a desperate time.
The more I thought on this war on women business, the more uncomfortable it made me. Since I oppose abortion on moral grounds, was I helping to prosecute this war?
Recently I became curious about something. I checked and found out that in all the wars the U.S. has ever fought, beginning with the American Revolution, we have lost some 1.3 million dead. That’s a lot of sons and brothers and husbands and fathers. If you think that’s too many (and I do), consider that since the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, we have lost that many Americans to abortion every year. The total is 50 million and counting. You don’t have to be a geneticist to figure that 25 million or more of them would have become women. When you start talking 25 million dead baby girls, it sure sounds like you’re talking about… a real war on women.
Somebody needs to speak up about the real war on women. There is One Who has already spoken: “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
Sometime this morning a commentator on my car radio ushered me across a personal tipping point concerning the semantics of the same-sex marriage issue, and of the whole public debate about homosexuality. I'm mad as you-know-what, and I'm not going to take it anymore. I guess I'd heard the word "homophobic" one time too many, and buzzer of sorts went off inside me.
The left has long pursued the strategy of gaining control of the semantics as early as possible in any public debate. Pro-abortion is pro-choice. Pro-life is anti-choice. Conservatives are members of the radical right who vote for fringe candidates. And so on.
According to the current media style book (which hasn't been challenged effectively from the right), there are only two positions one may hold concerning homosexuality and its related issues: one is either pro-gay (by the way, "gay" used to be a perfectly good word, and I never use it to describe the sad homosexual life) or homophobic.
This is where I get off. I'm not homophobic, and neither are most of the others who attempt to resist the runaway freight train known as "gay rights" (a term that ignores the fact that homosexuals have all the same rights as everyone else). When one is "phobic" about something, that means he is afraid of it. So the only two recognized positions in this debate are (a) I'm in favor of everything homosexuals want; or (b) I am afraid of them. I would like to stake out a new ground here. I am neither in favor of things like same-sex marriage nor afraid of homosexuals and their unhappy practices. Nor do I carry personal animus against individual homosexuals or wish them ill (it would be nice to see them return the favor). What I am is- gasp - opposed to the sin of homosexuality on moral and religious, yes, Biblical grounds. So I am introducing a new term into the discussion, one I dream would someday replace the inaccurate and loaded term "homophobic." I hereby declare myself homo-averse.
As a homo-averse man, I decry the practice of homosexuality, and oppose special rights for those who engage in it, including the oxymoronic "same-sex marraige." I do however, affirm the worth and personhood of everyone who is in that lifestyle, recognizing that every homosexual is a man or woman for whom Jesus died.
The President of the United States last week introduced a tortured, confusing and cynically political defense of the proposition that same-sex couples should be allowed to "marry." He astonishingly cited his Christian faith as a basis for his position, loosely referencing the Lord's Golden Rule, that one should treat others as he himself would want to be treated. I don't know about you, but I would like someone to treat me kindly by telling me the truth about something when the consequence of not knowing it could be a miserable eternity.
So here, my homosexual friend, is what Jesus really said about same-sex marriage: "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. For this cause (emphasis mine) shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh?" (Matthew 19:4-5; parallel passage Mark 10:6-7). For this reason, the reason that He made them male and female, God instituted marriage. Marriage is God's idea, and while the state has a role in codifying marriage, no man or government has the authority to redefine what God has created. It's all about male and female.
The homosexual may feel then that he has nowhere to go in Biblical Christianity. But the Lord's mission on earth is nothing if not redemptive. When I say I am homo-averse, I mean that I am averse to the practice, not to the people. There is an old Christian saw - "Hate the sin, love the sinner" - that is not explicitly stated in a citable verse, but that is an accurate summation of the Christian's proper stance. In a seminal passage (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), the Apostle Paul begins by writing, "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators..." He then lays out a shopping list of sins, including homosexuality, that will keep one out of heaven. But then comes the redemptive part: "...And such were some of you: but (emphases mine) ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Wonderful. He reminds the Corinthian church folks that they had also been lost, but they had been redeemed.
So take up the homo-averse brother on the offer to come to Christ. One might say that Jesus is the most homo-averse of all in terms of the practice, but he is the least averse of all to you, the man or woman. His surpassing love for you was demonstrated as His life-blood spilled out on the ground under a violent Roman cross nearly two thousand years ago. A few millenia later, He still awaits your call. Invite Him in. He can take your life and make something amazing out of it.