Saturday, June 27, 2015
Friday, June 26, 2015
Among other things, that makes power a test of character. Many people can't be trusted with power. Give them power, and they can't resist the temptation to abuse their authority.
- Opposite-sex relationships still promote the unity of the genders in a way that same-sex relationships don't. Since the genders are so different, and their living together in harmony is so important, we have good reason to acknowledge a distinction between a relationship that's so effective in uniting the genders and a relationship that isn't.
- Opposite-sex relationships still have a potential that same-sex relationships don't have to produce biological offspring. Even if an opposite-sex couple is undecided about whether to have children, has decided not to have any, or is infertile, the potential for having children remains. We occasionally hear of a woman in her sixties or seventies having a child, though that's rare. Given how important biological offspring are to a society (e.g., the problems we're seeing in parts of the world with low birth rates), the potential for offspring is important even if a couple doesn't currently expect to have any children. And drawing the line at gender differences (distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex couples) would be a more efficient way to handle this issue than doing something like running fertility tests on every couple or trying to figure out an age limit for marriage.
- Opposite-sex relationships provide a significantly different environment in which to raise children. I deny that the differences between men and women are only anatomical, but, even if they were, that distinction alone would give us sufficient reason to distinguish between opposite-sex and same-sex parenting. It's more effective to teach children how to live with their own anatomy and how to live with somebody of the other gender in the setting of opposite-sex parenting. And if you believe that gender differences go beyond anatomy, as you should, this distinction between opposite-sex and same-sex parenting becomes even more significant.
- We have good religious grounds for distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. See our material in the archives here on the evidence for Christianity, for example. That evidence gives individuals, families, churches, etc. good reason to think that same-sex marriage is unethical. Even at a governmental level, religious considerations should be taken into account. Our system of government is founded on the religious notion that we're endowed by our Creator with rights. We print "In God We Trust" on our currency, open sessions of government with prayer, etc. To turn around and suggest that we can't have any religious motives for doing what we do at a state level would be irrational and inconsistent. Even where people don't explicitly articulate a religious motive, they often have one. Even political liberals often oppose racism, support helping the poor, oppose the death penalty, etc. on a religious basis. Voters frequently vote with religious motives, and the idea that legislators don't do the same is implausible. Religious motivation has been part of our political system from the start. The more secular modern definitions of separation of church and state are just that: modern definitions that are competing with other definitions, including ones that are older and more reasonable. If you want an argument that Christians should oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriage on religious grounds, see Robert Gagnon's material, for example.
A lot of the criticism I'm seeing of this decision would cut against many apologetical arguments for the consistency of scripture, undermining the principle of "scripture interprets scripture" and such. It's as if it's impossible for something to look like it means something on the surface but really mean something else, where you can tell it by looking elsewhere in the document to see what the overall intent was. That point can be observed even in original public meaning, as long as the principle of charity is in operation to guide how we interpret the public meaning. We don't have to turn to intent derived from looking at external documents to get such a thing.
It's a separate question, of course, whether their arguments for interpreting things this way are correct, but much of the rancor I'm seeing from conservatives against the Roberts opinion would seem to me to undercut some of the better apologetical arguments defending scripture from the charge of contradiction (ones that are eminently reasonable when you take a whole book into account but seem unlikely if you only look at one verse, say).
The ambiguity argument was a different one. The claim there was that the text could be read either way but that they can choose to interpret it in the way that leads to the best consequences if it's genuinely ambiguous. They chose not to go that way.
What they instead said is that, in context in terms of what the rest of the law says, the best interpretation of this one particular line is that it doesn't mean what the surface meaning would lead you to expect if taken by itself.
That's an error in interpreting the rest of the act, i.e. the particular reasoning in the opinion, not an argument against the type of reasoning being done here, which is what many conservatives are unwisely giving without thinking of how terrible it would be to apply that kind of criticism across the board.
The other problem I have is that it's not clear the act is even consistent. Roberts did take them to task for how badly it's written, how the closed-door sessions, multiple authors, and limited ability for members to read it before voting makes it a bad law even apart from what it requires. I'm not sure he appreciates how bad, thought, because there's a plausible argument that it's not ambiguous between the two readings but is just plain inconsistent because it outright asserts both conflicting readings.
In such conditions, judges have been known to make a call to remove a contradiction, usually relying on some kind of revealed intent, but I don't think that works here, because you have Gruber and the other architects saying one thing and the others who were totally unaware of what he act did who added other stuff that conflicted with it, and there just isn't one original intent. That's much more plausible to me than the one-meaning Roberts view, the ambiguity view that they rejected, or the one-meaning but other-interpretation view of the dissent.
The human heart is amazingly complex. Even this otherwise exquisitely designed model of the heart doesn't fully capture what's known about the heart. It's certainly still worth watching though. (Along similar lines, some might be interested in Dr. Howard Glicksman's continuing series on the human body over at EN&V. I presume his series will be turned into a book someday.)
Thursday, June 25, 2015
21 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. 2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ 6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever (Exod 21:1-6).
BTW, "love" in this passage doesn't mean "affection." Rather, it's ANE legal jargon for declaring one's allegiance.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
A double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (Jas 1:8).
In 1995, on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination publicly repented of its roots in the defense of slavery.
We the living cannot repent on behalf of those who are dead, but we can repent for the legacy that we would otherwise perpetuate and extend by silence.
So far as I can tell, no one ever confronted the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with the brutal reality of what they were doing, believing, and teaching in this regard.
We cannot change the past, but we must learn from it.
There is no way to confront the dead with their heresies, but there is no way to avoid the reckoning that we must make, and the repentance that must be our own.
But the ideology that was represented in Dylann Roof’s reported words as he killed and in the photographs and evidence found on his Internet postings is not limited to a small fringe.
The main “color line,” as Frederick Douglass called it in 1881, has always been black and white in America.
Boyce and Broadus were chaplains in the Confederate army.
Even knowing the name of Solomon, however, many Christians do not realize that in 1 Kings 11, Solomon has turned away from the LORD. Because of that, we often miss an important story that shows once again that Libertarian Free Will cannot adequately explain what we read in Scripture while compatibilism does. Let us read the following:
And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:9-13, ESV).And to further declare that this will happen, we read later on in the same chapter that the prophet Ahijah speaks to Jeroboam, a servant (see verse 26) of Solomon:
Then Ahijah laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, “Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes...’” (1 Kings 11:30-31, ESV).So we have two passages indicating that this will happen. Sure enough, in the next chapter, we read:
And when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. There was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Judah only. (1 Kings 12:20, ESV).Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, ended up being king of only Judah (and the remnants of Benjamin) while the ten other tribes formed their own nation under Solomon's servant, Jeroboam. But how did these events come about? We can see the primary cause is because Rehoboam did not listen to the people:
And when all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, “What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel! Look now to your own house, David.” So Israel went to their tents (1 Kings 12:16, ESV).But even before that, we read about the ultimate cause:
"So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word, which the Lord spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat" (1 Kings 12:15, ESV).Did you catch that? Rehoboam's refusal to listen to the people "was a turn of affairs brought about by the Lord that he might fulfill his word." And if that wasn't confirmation enough, when Rehoboam decided to go to war against Jeroboam, God said to the prophet Shemaiah:
“Say to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, You shall not go up or fight against your relatives the people of Israel. Every man return to his home, for this thing is from me’” (1 Kings 12:23-24, ESV).Now consider these turn of events and trace the causality back. The kingdom was divided because Rehoboam didn't listen to the people, but God also clearly states multiple times that it is He who brought about those turn of events. God specifically says that Rehoboam didn't listen because God intended to fulfill His word. And not only that, but God's word was declared to Solomon about Solomon's actions, not to Rehoboam nor because of anything Rehoboam had done.
Now, if Libertarian Free Will is true, none of that makes sense. God did not tell Solomon, "Because you have sinned, I foresee that a consequence is that your son will choose of his own Libertarian Free Will not to listen to the people, and thus you will lose your kingdom." No, God said: "I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant." God declares that He will act. This is not something that just unfolds as a consequence of Solomon's sin. God engineers it.
But notice that Rehoboam didn't act contrary to his own will either. We read: "But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him" (1 Kings 12:8, ESV). Rehoboam abandoned the counsel. He chose to do what the young men had said instead of the old counselors who knew better. There is no mention of coercion here, nor is there any indication that Rehoboam ever said, "God, it isn't fair that you made me do this." Rehoboam clearly did as he wished. He was not compelled against his will.
Thus we see that the Bible clearly teaches both that Rehoboam acted as he willed and that his actions were precisely what God determined would happen to fulfill His word. That only makes sense in compatibilism, for this clearly just is man's freedom and God's determining working compatibly. And in fact, this gives a concrete illustration of the statement from the Westminster Confession of Faith: "God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established" (3:1).
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them…
Confederate apologists could never square that circle. Either freedom for all or freedom for none.