Monthly Archives: May 2013

Throwing Away My Life

For years my kids have been trying to get me to clean the clutter out of our house and garage. That is no easy task because for years the garage has been the dumping ground for everything. The garage is completely filled, wall to wall and floor to ceiling. The kids would say things like, “let’s just get a dumpster and dump everything”. So now the day has come kids are going to use the two car garage for their business. So now there is a dumpster in the driveway.
I have always resented the idea of others wanting to throw away my stuff, but this has been much harder than I ever imagined. I had to throw away the toys that were part of my children’s growing up years. We should have played together so much more, but now those days are gone.
I ran across stupid overpriced little souvenirs that my children cried for and I resented buying. Now they bring back memories of family outings, vacations and days at amendment parks. And there are other mementoes, like the tee shirts that Beckie and I bought when we were newly married. There is no reason to keep them; they will never fit again, but it is so painful to just throw them away as if they are meaningless trash.
There were the books on parenting and the books I read with my kids. There were many other books that helped to form my values. They have become the passions of my life and their writers are my heroes.
I began to go through papers and notebooks. I ran across old school assignment. I had no trouble remembering the struggles I had in doing the assignments, or in some cases not doing them. I realized that each of these assignments had formed my opinions and developed my methods of reasoning. There were English writing assignments. There was a notebook from my college Logic Class. There was a report card where I received my only “F” ever. Through that class I learned a hard lesson that there are some teachers that have expectations and due dates for assignments and they will hold you accountable; a good lesson for life. I found old art projects where I explored and developed my creative side.
I came across many personal notebooks filled with ideas, thoughts, dreams, and goals. In some cases I had written out fairly elaborate business plans with detailed schedules for the business development. Some of those ideas have been on the back burner for more than 30 years. With other ideas the window of opportunity has been closed and the opportunity lost forever. Many of the dreams and goals were set aside to focus on other things. But most of these have died a slow death of laziness, procrastination and neglect.
So one by one I take the moments of my past, the times that are gone and will never come again, and I throw them in the trash. I take the things that have formed me into who I am, and throw them away. The papers that are my hopes, plans, ambitions and dreams are going in the dumpster.
I am throwing my life away.

Is Same Sex Marriage a Civil Right? Part One

To answer this question we must first answer a number of other questions like:
• What is a civil right?
• How do we decide what is a civil right and what is not?
• Who gets the final say as to what is a civil right and what is not?
Question #1 What is a civil right?
We throw around terms like “rights”, “freedom”, “human rights”, “liberty”, and “civil rights” thinking that we understand the terms and that everyone else understands them the same way we do. Often we think that we can declare we have a right and somehow it must be so; and everyone must fall in line and defend our “right”. Well it is not that easy.
All kinds of people assert that they have some “right”. There is the right to life, the right to choose, the right to privacy, property rights, reproductive rights, the right to health care, States rights, right to an education, animal rights, parental rights, the right to a fair trial, the right to just compensation; the list goes on and on. Everyone is claiming some type of right and often they are competing rights. Sometimes they are contradictory rights. .
I think we can agree that there are competing “rights” and someone declaring a right does not automatically give them that right.
So what is a civil right? I didn’t look in the dictionary because people use the term all of the time without looking it up, and to different people it means different things. Let’s break it down. Civil is the root of civilization or civilized. It applies to the city or a group of people or citizens. We talk about civil government, which is the government that rules the city or a group of people. So in one sense we could say that a civil right is one given to us by the government, but that is not accurate. We would call that a legal right. We use the term civil right to mean something different. Often we mean a right that all citizens should have whether or not the government has written a law to protect that right. Often in saying it is a civil right we are saying, ‘there should be a law’. We are saying that there is a set of rights that should be common to all citizens.
We are also saying that the government does not establish these rights. These are based on a standard outside of the government and a good government will acknowledge and protect these rights.
Question #2 How do we decide what is a civil right and what is not?
We already established that there are clear disagreements among people as to what things are civil rights and what are not. We also established that the standard for civil rights comes from outside of the government and that a good government will acknowledge and protect civil rights. So how do we decide what qualifies as a civil right and what doesn’t? It would be easy if we could sit down and clearly discuss and explore all of the different view points on a particular issue and everyone would come to an agreement, but that is not how the world works. Even calm intelligent honorable men and women disagree on key issues. It gets even worse when the unreasonable, loudmouth, fools with a personal gripe want to contribute to the discussion (and these people exist on both sides of any issue). So what are our options?
1. Consensus
As mentioned above, reaching a consensus on any issue in America is nearly impossible. Consensus is seldom if ever reached. Usually it is more like a cease fire. One side or the other finally tires of the whole debate; they give-in, temporarily, in hopes of getting on to other things. “Consensus” does not mean that there is whole hearted agreement. Is consensus a valid base on which to decide on civil rights? The advertising statement that, ‘100 million Americans can’t be wrong’ is false. 100 million Americans can be wrong. In fact it is possible that all Americans can be wrong. More than once a unanimous jury has convicted an innocent man.
2. Democratic Process
There is the democratic method. We discuss and debate the issue, and campaign passionately for our side and then we take a vote. The majority wins and the issue is settled. This is supposed to be the American way, the Democratic way. We even enter into wars to make the world safe for democracy.
The truth is we are not really in love with democracy. It’s OK when our side wins but we really don’t like the idea of just overpowering the losing side. And we really hate democracy when our side loses. In California Proposition 8 passed by majority vote, establishing marriage as between one man and one woman, the opposition took it to court to have the democratic process overturned. A vote doesn’t settle an issue it just kicks off the campaign to overturn the vote or bring it to another vote when public sympathies are more favorable.
In our soul we all know that truth is not democratic. Just because the majority of people believe something to be true, doesn’t make it true. Just because the majority of people vote to say something is a civil right doesn’t make is a civil right, it makes it a legal right and that is all.
3. Compromise
In a compromise each side gets some of the things they want, and they agree to peacefully coexist based on the agreement. Again we find that compromise may or may not fully define and protect a civil right. Often a compromise simply sends one or both sides back to promoting their agenda, hoping to gain more ground in the next fight and the next “compromise”. It’s a bit like a football game. The offensive team drives the ball forward, and the defensive team resists. The ball is downed and each team goes into a huddle and plans the next play. Again they push against each other until they reach a new “compromise”. Generally the team that attacks the most aggressively gains ground.
In the Gay Rights debate we have moved from questions of, “Should the government protect homosexuals from discrimination in housing and employment?” to “Should same sex couples be able to register as domestic partners guaranteeing them may of the same rights as married couples”; now the question is “Should same sex marriage be a civil right?”
4. Might Makes Right
In the musical “Camelot”, King Arthur is living in a society in which the person with the most power gets to determine what is right. When challenged, an issue is decided in a tournament or on the field of battle. The victor is determined to be right.
King Arthur proposes a different, more civilized approach where Noble men gather together at a round table and discuss issues and come to agreement. As the musical progresses everything is going well until immorality, corruption and cover-ups come into the kingdom, along with sins of the past. The situation deteriorates until civilization crumbles into violent conflict. All of the methods above have a tendency to decay and deteriorate until it is a pure power struggle. The group that is the most passionate about their cause and is willing to fight hard for it will continue to gain ground. Those that will bring to bear the most money, influence and power will prevail. They will hold as much ground as their power will allow. The pendulum will swing the other way when another group brings money, power and influence to push it back.
5. Common Acceptance of a Higher Objective Standard
If we go back to the first part of this article we discover that the whole idea of a Civil Rights rests on the idea that there is a standard of right and wrong that is above and outside of the law and personal opinion. We also assume that this is a standard that doesn’t change. Every method discussed above is subject to personal or public opinion and every one of them can change and move.
The existence of a Higher Objective Standard assumes that there is a giver and enforcer of that standard. This is a description of God.

Note: at this point some of the readers are bristling and gritting their teeth. If you are one of those, I ask that you take a deep breath and relax. Stop gritting your teeth and read the rest of the article with and open mind. Only a fool decides an issue without considering all the evidence.

God is above all. He is moral, pure and right. He is the judge of all. He has the right and the power to enforce His perfect will. He demands and deserves to be followed. This is not a new idea. It is a solidly American concept. When the American Colonies were in conflict with Great Britain, we asserted that we had certain rights and that the might of Britain did not make them right. We made the claim that “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.” This statement says that there is a higher objective standard of rights and that all governments and men no matter their power are subject to this higher authority. A good government will protect and defend these standards and a bad government will fail to protect and defend these standards. A bad government will establish its own standards that contradict the standards of God.
Note that the 5th option is the only one that meets our idea of a civil right. At the same time there are many people that bristle at the idea of God. They especially don’t like the idea of a God that will dictate for them standards of right and wrong. They don’t like the idea that there is someone to which they must be subject. At the same time they want an external objective standard of right and wrong. This is what I call a double-cross. They want two things that are contradictory. You can’t have it both ways. Even though the 5th option is the only one that works philosophically, on a practical level we still need to work with all of the other options. For the 5th option to work fully it demands consensus. We will not have consensus as to the existence of God, what His standards are, and our obligation to follow His standards. So we will still deal with the democratic process. We will still have compromises and power struggles.
Question #3 Who gets to decide?
This question is actually to questions:
Who has the authority to decide?
Who has the power to decide or enforce the decision?
Who has the authority to decide?
If we fully accept the conclusions of the discussion above then there is only one person with the authority to decide. That person is God. He has the authority due to His position as creator, and His moral authority as the only one that is pure, holy and just.
Who has the power to enforce the decision?
I bring this up because at some level it still boils down to a question of might. Might, may not make right but might does determine what happens, right or wrong. Who has the power to enforce a decision? The ultimate answer is God. God is all powerful and only He can ultimately enforce a decision.
That sounds good but we know that what we see in the world is not always good and right. We see a lot of evil. That is because even though God has the right and the power to enforce the good He also allows us free will and self-determination. Sometimes people confuse God’s allowing us freewill with Him giving us permission to do our own thing. God never gives permission to do wrong. God describes this aspect of His character in terms of patience. He warns that we should not mistake His patience for His approval. He is very irritated by our wrongdoing and someday His patience will wear out and we will feel the wrath of His judgment.
Who has the power to enforce? God does and He will. This understanding has led to civilized societies. It is this healthy respect, honor, worship and FEAR of God that has led individuals to adopt and strive for high moral values and has led societies to adopt law and protect rights that are in line with God’s standards.
In the meantime, based on our freewill, we are often caught in a power struggle to make and enforce decisions, right or wrong.
The end of part one
Part Two will take a look at God and His standards as they apply to same sex marriage.

Is Same Sex Marriage a Civil Right? Part Two

In part one we discussed: What is a civil right? How do we decide and who gets to decide? If you have not read part one yet, stop now and go read it.
In Part One we determined that civil rights come from God. In Part Two we will deal with:
Who is God?
How can we know His standards?
What are His standards as they apply to same sex marriage?
Who is God?
Well I have taken on a big question here but I will attempt to answer this question in as concise a manner as possible. Let’s begin with a definition. In Part One we defined God as the giver of absolute rights. We said that He holds this authority based on His position as creator. We also stated that He is, holy in that He is above all. He is sovereign in that He rules absolutely. He is righteous, just and morally pure. We also said that He is all powerful and able to enforce His standards.
These are clearly definitions that match the God of the Bible; but before we go there let’s examine some other questions.
Are there any other possible sources of absolute rights without God?
Does an absolute rights giver point to the God of the Bible or is there another god or source that meets the definition.
Are there any other possible sources of absolute rights without God?
In Part One we looked at four ways of determining civil rights from a human source; none of them matched our definition of a civil right. So the source must be outside of humanity; so what other possible sources are there? I can think of three:
1. Animal or an animal
2. Extra Terrestrials
3. A Universal Spirit as is taught in a number of Eastern religions, the New Age movement and a few other places.
4. God
Animals
Animals meet the requirement of being non-human so they must be addressed. Do they meet any other requirement? Are they superior to humans or have authority over humans? Nearly all people would say it is the other way around. Humans are superior to animals. I think we can safely throw out animals as a possibility.
Aliens/Extra-Terrestrials
I think there is enough question as to their existence that it would be difficult to see them as a source. In addition there is no evidence that aliens have attempted to communicate to us a standard of civil rights. Just like animals there is the problem of their claim to authority over us.
Universal Spirit
This concept is taught in many eastern religions, we have also seen it in many places in American culture. The example that most Americans are familiar with is in the movie, Star Wars. In the movie the Jedi Knights believe there is a universal force that governs all of the workings of the universe. This universal spirit is in everyone and everything. The force must be held in balance.
This is a fascinating concept but can a universal spirit communicate a standard of civil rights? If it did you would expect that it would automatically be understood by everyone and we would be in total agreement. Communication probably is not the right word. Communication takes place between persons. Individuals communicate with other individuals. We use words, music, body language and a host of other methods. A universal spirit lacks personhood it is a force or a common spirit. There would be no communication only a general feeling, impression of force but not communication as we know it. A universal spirit passes the test of having a claim of authority and power. What it lacks is personhood and clear absolute communication. I think on a practical level it fails completely. It places us back into the framework of humans deciding.
God
Once again the process of elimination takes us to one conclusion. The only reasonable source for civil rights is God. He is a single source with authority and the power.
Does an absolute rights giver point to the God of the Bible or is there another god or source that meets the definition.
What are the attributes that a God which gives civil rights must have?
• He must have authority over mankind
The God of the Bible has this attribute as the creator of men; (there are a number of other reasons that He has authority over us, but we will not go into them now).
Are there any other gods which meet this requirement? Yes. The God of the Jews meets this requirement, but He is the same God. The god of Islam also meets this requirement. I am sure that a number of other gods also meet this requirement.
• He must be Holy
By Holy I mean that He is separate from us, and that separateness makes him from us. If we are unable to determine civil rights for ourselves then God must be separate from us.
Do any other gods meet this requirement? Yes
• He must be just, righteous and pure
We assume that a civil right is a statement of something that is just, right and pure. If that is true then the giver of these rights must also be just, right and pure.
The God of the Bible meets this requirement but do other gods meet this requirement? Well now the list gets much shorter. Most other gods rule purely based on their power and authority; the concept is m ight makes right.
• He must communicate His standards to mankind
It does no good to have a standard of civil rights if it is not communicated. Yes, it could be that there is a standard for civil rights that is not shared with us. If that is true then there is no point in us discussing this any further. For us to claim that there are civil rights assumes that these rights can be known by everyone.
The God of the Bible meets this requirement; the Bible gives a detailed list of civil laws and a number of other instructions for living. Other gods really do fall short on this issue.
• He must have the power and ability to enforce His Laws
I suppose that God could reveal a list of civil rights and then do nothing to enforce them. In large part God delegates His authority to reward good and punish evil to governments, but He also holds these people accountable for doing His will (see the article on this site titled “The Purpose of Government”). Ultimately we will all stand before God on judgment day and give an account of what we have done with what God has given us. God will also judge people and nations in this present life.
Does the God of the Bible have this attribute? Yes; in fact He not only has this power and ability but the Bible also give an explanation of His working in the world that is consistent with what we experience. Do other gods have this attribute? Yes, but there are significant issues with how this works out in our daily life.
Does the Bible teach that same sex marriage is a civil right?
Once again we cannot answer this question without answering a number of other questions first.
Does the Bible deal with the issue of same sex marriage?
The answer is no; at least not directly. Same sex marriage is not mentioned in the Bible. The Bible always assumes that marriage is between a man and a woman. Sometimes it is between one man and multiple women, but it is never between a man and a man, a woman and a woman or a woman and multiple men.
This observation by itself is not enough to confidently exclude the possibility of same sex marriage. The lack of comment does not equate to a negative comment or condemnation.
To explore this further we must look at the link between sex and marriage. In the Bible, in tradition and in law there has always been a link between sex and marriage. According to the Bible Marriage is a holy institution and sex was to be exclusively between a husband and wife. Sex outside of the marital union was punishable by fines or even execution. There are many reasons for this and I will go into it much more deeply in a future article entitled “Holy Matrimony”. For most of the history of the United States, our laws mirrored those found in the Old Testament. Over the past 50 years or so many states have departed from God’s standard and have decriminalized fornication, adultery, sodomy and other formerly illegal sexual acts. In spite of this distancing sex from marriage the tie culturally and legally is still strong. Most people still feel that being sexually unfaithful to your spouse is wrong. Most states still view the sexual act as consummating a marriage. Up until that time a marriage may be voided through annulment. In the same sex marriage debate the rhetoric is about two individuals who love each other should have the right to marry, inferred in that reasoning is that these two people are sexually intimate with one another. The argument for marriage is not based on love alone it is based on love and sexual intimacy. People who love each other don’t get married. Rather people who love each other and want to be sexually intimate marry one another. It must be understood that marriage is just as much about sex as it is about love, maybe even more. People are quick to divorce over sexual infidelity but it takes them a long time to rationalize a divorce based on a lack of love.
So if sex is central to marriage then what does the Bible say about homosexual behavior. The Bible clearly condemns homosexual sex as an abomination in Leviticus 18. (Read the whole chapter for context).
Leviticus 18:22
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
It is considered sever enough that it is punishable by death in Leviticus 20. (Read the whole chapter for context).
Leviticus20:13
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
At this point I must diverge and at least comment on the fact that, the Bible does not single out homosexual sex as the only kind of condemned sexual behavior. It is among a list of other behaviors that are also condemned. This article is about same sex marriage so I will limit our discussion to the topic at hand. It is clear that the Bible teaches that sex between two men or sex between two women is a sin. God never gives us the right to sin. We have free will that is the ability. So God give us the free will to sin but along with making the choice to sin is the choice to deal with the ramifications of our sin. Those ramifications include the natural consequences along with God’s judgment. In Romans chapter 1 homosexual sex is the natural progression of a people who have abandoned following God and turned to their own lusts. It says that they exchange the truth for a lie. Another passage that condemns homosexual sex is:
Romans 1:24-27 NKJV (read 18-27 for context)
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is evidence of His judgment on a group of cities deeply involved in homosexual activities. Read the account in Genesis 18:16 through 19:29
Note that these condemnations are found in both the Old and New Testaments. They are listed among other sinful behaviors that are also condemned. In addition to condemning the behavior there is a condemnation of those who approve of such things.
So in answer to the question, “Does the Bible teach that same sex marriage is a civil right?” The answer is squarely no. The Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin. No marriage could be founded on sinful behavior. Not only that; but a society that would place their stamp of approval on same sex marriage would be condemned by God.
Conclusion
We have now walked through a discussion that addressed, what is a civil right? How do we decide? Who gets to decide? That led us to God as the giver of civil rights. Further exploration has led us to conclude that the God of the Bible is the only one who meets the qualifications in any practical manner. We also concluded that sex is an integral component of marriage. Finally we found that the God of the Bible condemns homosexual sex as an abomination and a sin. He also condemns those who approve of such things. Understanding all of these things we must conclude that marriage based on a sinful act cannot be a civil right. Our final conclusion is that Same Sex Marriage is not a Civil Right.
Closing Comments
I realize that some people feel trapped by their sexual desires and feel powerless to live any other way. They want desperately to be accepted into mainstream society and valued as people. My goal is not to verbally assault any individual or group. This blog site is dedicated to presenting a Christian World View and I will stay true to that calling without apology and without compromise, to do anything less would be dishonoring to God.
There are people that want same sex marriage to be a civil right no matter what. For them any argument against same sex marriage will be dismissed without consideration. They pursue political, legislative or judicial rulings to make same sex marriage a civil right. They will use whatever means necessary legal or illegal to accomplish their goal. If they succeed they will have created a new “civil right” so to speak. In reality they will have obtained a new legal right, one that has never existed before in America. What they will have succeeded in doing is establishing the philosophical precedence that the government is the bestower of rights. As such we will have opened ourselves up to political and governmental tyranny. We will cease to be one nation under God. We will be one nation under government. If the government can give rights then the government can take them away and we are all venerable to swaying political and social trends. We have surrendered any claim to a higher moral authority and we deteriorate in to a constant battle where might makes right.