Friday, April 26, 2013

Christianity and Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life

Do I believe we're the only life in the universe?  No, I don't.  I view such an assumption to demonstrate the most profound amount of arrogance and self-conceit that one could imagine in the universe.  But how would the emergence of other intelligent life impact Christians?  The degree of opinion varies widely among those who identify as Christians.  The viewpoints vary from "intelligent life doesn't exist." to "The UFO's are demons" to "I don't care, doesn't matter to me." to "I don't know."  And I would say that the "I Don't Know" question is actually probably the most fair response I've heard on this particular question.  But here's the great thing about the Red Letters of the New Testament.  It applies to anything, anyone, any circumstance, doesn't matter who, what, or where you are from.  So, let me pain this scenario:

We discover intelligent life, that life joins us on Earth, visiting sporadically like that of an international tourist.  Do we welcome them with open arms, do we embrace them as fellow intelligent lifers of the Universe?  Do we share with them the values of our varying societies?  Yes, we do.

As Christians, we are obligated to love our neighbor.  As the Group, The Christian Left put it on a T-shirt so eloquently, Love Thy...(Insert identifying characteristic).  I think Love Thy Interplanetary Person would definitely fit alongside Love thy Gay Neighbor, Thy Immigrant Neighbor, and Thy Addicted Neighbor...and so forth.  As Gentiles, persons not born of the line of David or the Nation of Israel, we were given the right to join in the Promise of Abraham as adopted brothers and sisters.  And guess what?  So would any extraterrestrial intelligent life.

I know we're probably way off for this particular issue to be addressed, but, might as well address it now :).




Our chief mission and most important tenant in this life.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Champion of Justice

Friends, I want to speak about this last year and why I believe it's a significant series of events that has awakened and brought to pass changes in the human race that will stand for generations as a testament to the pursuit of justice.  The Lord champions causes of justice, and there are plenty of those happening this year!

Earlier this year, the issue of civil marriage was put before the people.  So many times have the religious right just preached doom and gloom of society embraces same-sex civil marriage.  And friends, nothing of the sort has happened.  I will agree that God is moving in our land, but, he's moving one person at a time, touching people whether directly or indirectly through others.  There is a reason why same-sex civil marriage became the law in Washington State and two other states.  It's because people know other people who are gay more than they did 10 years ago during the mid-2000s.  As people learned and got to know those who are gay and interacted, talked, and connected with gay couples, more people started throwing up their hands and are going "who cares...seriously."  The issue of Same-sex civil marriage is a civil law issue, an issue of justice...and if there's one thing that God rests behind are issues of justice.  He speaks about justice all throughout scripture such as Proverbs, the Gospels, and the Epistles.  I believe, friends, that God has championed the cause of Justice in our nation, and that people who strive for justice get the tail wind of the greatest judge.

The second issue that I believe where we are "slaying a great whale" of deceit is the myths of the 2nd Amendment.  The 2nd amendment has been given a status that is unheard of in any society.  Guns are an idol to some people, that they would sacrifice the safety of others just to own/keep them.  If you haven't guessed, I am openly hostile to what people CLAIM the 2nd amendment says.  The 2nd Amendment does NOT protect the private citizen to own guns...but protects the people who are part of a militia to own guns.  The item of the bill of rights that is out of date the most is the 2nd amendment. The 2nd amendment was written with the idea that we would not have a standing military, which the founders greatly objected to. We'd have a nation of reservists with their own weapon, reporting for duty during times of invasion. So logically, the 2nd amendment makes sense "A well-regulated militia, necessary for the security of a free state..." now computes. That statement's context was for the purposes of repelling foreign invasion and suppressing insurrection. Again, we have the national guard, and the US Military, and do not need the 2nd Amendment anymore. It is a relic. To interpret it as anything less than that is to ignore the words of the founders regarding it's purpose. If you don't believe me, go read "The Federalist" and that should clear that issue right up.

The Federalist #29, James Madison:

"It requires no skill in the science of war to discern that uniformity in the organization and discipline of the militia would be attended with the most beneficial effects, whenever they were called into service for the public defense. It would enable them to discharge the duties of the camp and of the field with mutual intelligence and concert an advantage of peculiar moment in the operations of an army; and it would fit them much sooner to acquire the degree of proficiency in military functions which would be essential to their usefulness. This desirable uniformity can only be accomplished by confiding the regulation of the militia to the direction of the national authority. It is, therefore, with the most evident propriety, that the plan of the convention proposes to empower the Union "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by congress."

Of the different grounds which have been taken in opposition to the plan of the convention, there is none that was so little to have been expected, or is so untenable in itself, as the one from which this particular provision has been attacked. If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the guardian of the national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty, an efficacious power over the militia, in the body to whose care the protection of the State is committed, ought, as far as possible, to take away the inducement and the pretext to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal government can command the aid of the militia in those emergencies which call for the military arm in support of the civil magistrate, it can the better dispense with the employment of a different kind of force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be obliged to recur to the latter. To render an army unnecessary, will be a more certain method of preventing its existence than a thousand prohibitions upon paper." - The Federalist #29

So, if I may be so bold, I believe this time in history is a time where myths, legends and other such "tall tales" about the laws of the land, our history, and religion are going to be discharged as obsolete.  The new generation, my generation is steadily asserting itself and it's values as the norm, and the old values are on their way out the door.  Clinging to "tradition" just because it is the way it's always been is unjustified when the rights of others are threatened.  It's time the myth of the 2nd Amendment's divinity and prominence be ended.  This isn't about me saying God is going to end "The 2nd Amendment" but, it is me saying that success tends to favor the just cause...and I think and believe that this is a just cause.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Bipartisan version of H.R. 1406

I give Republicans a "B" for effort, but it does fall a bit short, and puts too much power in the hands of employers.  So, I amended the legislation to a form which may garner far more Democratic support.

Please, read, and give feedback.

Jamie Herrera-Beutler sent an email with this issue attached to her newsletter  so I responded to her with some modifications that would make the law far more palatable:

Dear Ms. Herrera-Beutler,

As a resident of the 3rd district, I've been following the legislation, titled H.R. 1406. it's an idea that has merit, but I believe could use some tweaking.

Democrats oppose the bill because it leaves the decisions to allow time of in the hands of the Employer, and does not compensate the employees for any of the time worked over 40 hours, so I suggest this compromise that perhaps you could suggest as an Amendment.

Amend the text in Section 2(1)(A)Compensantory Time Off, from:

***"An employee may receive, in accordance with this subsection and in lieu of monetary overtime compensation, compensatory time off at a rate not less than one and one-half hours for each hour of employment for which overtime compensation is required by this section.***

to the following text:

***"An employee may receive, in accordance with this subsection and in lieu of "PAYING THE OVERTIME PORTION OF THE EMPLOYEE'S OVERTIME PAY, OR 0.5 TIMES THE RATE OF THE EMPLOYEE'S BASE PAY, compensatory time off at a rate not less than ONE HALF OF THE EMPLOYEE'S BASE PAY for each hour of employment for which overtime compensation is required by this section."***

Then in Section 2, instead of:

***No employee may receive or agree to receive compensatory time off under this subsection unless the employee has worked at least 1,000 hours for the employee’s employer during a period of continuous employment with the employer in the 12-month period before the date of agreement or receipt of compensatory time off.***

Amend the text of this section to:

***No employee may receive or agree to receive compensatory time off under this subsection unless the employee has BEEN EMPLOYED FOR A 90-DAY PERIOD AFTER THE INITIAL HIRE DATE, OR 480 hours for the employee’s employer during a period of continuous employment. (REMOVE)with the employer in the 12-month period before the date of agreement or receipt of compensatory time off.(/REMOVE)

Amend Section 2(4) by adding:

***C) Employees who use their compensatory time off for medical reasons may not be terminated, retaliated, or sanctioned against for the use of their compensatory time off with the exception of consideration related to promotions or company advancement. Employers may request written evidence of illness from a licensed medical provider if the time the employee is absent exceeds seven (7) scheduled work days. The seven (7) day period does not include days that are not explicitly scheduled in advanced with the exception of employees who are considered "on-call".

C(1) Medical Reasons is defined as any ailment or personal status which may inhibit the optimal performance or aggravate an existing injury, condition, or chronic medical problem. Such cases where the employee's absence exceeds three scheduled days, the employer has the right to request medical evidence of the condition from a medical professional.

C(2) Employees who refuse to produce a notice from their healthcare provider of their condition, given a reasonable amount of time, defined as 7 (seven) days, to obtain such proof, the employee may be subject to dismissal at the discretion of the employee's employer.***

Amend Section 2(7)(B):

(ADD)...except in cases of illness or illness of a close relative legally requiring the care of the employee, and except in cases of an emergency such as injury, death, or other similar circumstance.(/ADD)

(ADD) (B)(i) Employees fraudulently reporting illness or Emergency circumstances to their employer are subject to dismissal without notice by the employer.(/ADD)

Amend Section 3: REMEDIES:

2(f) An employer which violates section 7(s)(4) SHALL BE APPLIED A FINE OF NO LESS THAN $20,000 AND WILL BE liable to the employee affected in the amount of 3 (THREE) TIMES the rate of compensation (determined in accordance with section 7(s)(6)(A)) for each hour of compensatory time accrued by the employee and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages reduced by the amount of such rate of compensation for each hour of compensatory time used by such employee.’.



(1) The Department of Labor is hereby allocated $300 million in funds to create enforcement mechanisms among the several states, in which the state where the office or agency resides will staff the office with sufficient resources to carry out the following duties in addition to block grants to those states to fund the salaries and benefits of those employees as required by each state to staff and operate those agencies’ needs. If such agencies already exist within those states, the block grants may be used to augment those agencies as the states see fit as necessary and required.

(A) Enforcement of this act by way of an anonymous complaint system to ensure anonymity.
(B) Dispute resolution by way of either binding arbitration or representation of the employee in civil court for the recovering of lost wages and overtime compensation that has accrued.
(C) Regulatory oversight of the businesses to ensure compliance with the mandates of this legislation, up to and including record audits, employee interviews to ensure regulations regarding intimidation, and education and cooperation with the employer to maximize compliance success through healthy working relationships.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Liberals Don't Hate Capitalism

There are many times when I discuss politics with someone either personally or over some form of social media, and I often get called something like Socialist or Communist or some other "derogatory" term that basically denotes that I'm a Fascist...or in this context, controlling.  Here's why I, as a liberal person, love capitalism:

1) Capitalism equips the participants in the economy with job skills which are intrinsic across all sectors of the economy.  This means that there are skills unique to employment that are only learnable from having a job.  If we didn't have jobs, we wouldn't learn these useful skills like interpersonal interactions, customer service, communication skills unique to employment settings, and teamwork.  All these skills are necessary to ensure that workers can succeed.

2) Capitalism provides a social service to the economy.  Employment, for the last 60 years has been the origin of benefits and privileges geared towards the health and well-being of the worker and it's family.  This created incentive to remain with companies for the long term, providing for the worker's retirement, and ensuring a safe, stable, long-term employment setting.

3) Capitalism nurtures innovation through investment.  Even Karl Marx, the mastermind of Das Capital and The Communist Manifesto postulated that Capitalists' strive for efficiency and thrift, as well as competition would drive the advancement of technology.  That advancement would eventually lead to an age in humanity where man would either only have to work a little, or not at all and could work as he or she chose in a field he or she chose.  So the virtues of capitalism were not lost on Karl Marx, which further accents his very odd and unorthodox mind which was mired in contradictions such as this one.

4) Capitalism provides the resources necessary for government to function.  Employment and spending generates tax revenues for local governments.  Such resources are useful for creating systems and infrastructures which benefit all citizens regardless of their individual ability to pay for them personally.  Are are a fair number of items that Liberals believe fall in the realm of "The Commons."  Such Commons resources are things like Education, Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, Water and Air Supplies, roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure  power utilities of specific types.  The point being is that while right-wing economic thinkers and more left-leaning economic thinkers can agree on some of these, the differences between Conservative/Libertarian thought and Liberal/Moderate conservative thought is how many of these circles to include as part of the Public Commons.  The lessons of Soviet Russia were not lost on Liberals.  But bear in definition, Soviet Russian and other similar style governments are not the type of Communism that was described by Karl Marx.  Karl Marx opposed state control over information, censorship, and arbitrary cultural regulations which he believed were none of "The State's" business.  The type of governments that we observed in Communist Russia, China, and Cuba, are no less that Totalitarian Governments which had their iron grip on everything.  Capitalism isn't evil, but sometimes bad people use good things to do bad things...and that is what tarnishes the reputation of systems that have great promise to be widely popular and successful.

5) Liberals believe in capitalism that functions for everyone, not just a few, and not just the wealthy.  Liberals will long concede that capitalists provide a great service to the economy.  They provide jobs, pay wages, research technology, and nurture innovation.  However, these great benefits do not excuse abuses by the elite in our economic system.  The robbery of workers by their employers, such as Hostess, Enron, and other firms which engaged in illegal activities to rob their employees' pensions, have no place in capitalism.  Liberals, while embracing capitalism as a necessary function, will not let such practices go without a consequence and rule put in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

6)  Liberals embrace a more moderated form of capitalism.  Even Milton Friedman agreed that the court system in this nation is sorely deficient to enforce the rules on the books.  He also argued that Government is the neutral arbiter between the firm and the consumer, impartially enforcing the law when it's violated, and justly punishing whichever party is guilty of engaging in immoral or illegal activity.  He believed in stronger and more numerous courts with sharper teeth and broader powers to enforce the rules of the market place to ensure it's integrity and credibility.  We have deregulated the justice of the market to the private market itself.  Conservatives and Libertarians cling the Law of Perfect Markets, believing with unwavering fervor that the market's price is the perfect price.  Liberals also believe this, but with reservations.  Many Liberals believe that the sways and crashes of Capitalism can be destructive when a third party isn't looking over their shoulder to ensure that three things are present:  A) Access to information for both buyer and seller, B) Honest Exchanges, and C) Legal Exchanges.  If these things are not present in an economic exchange, then The Law of Perfect Markets cannot be applied.  And it also cannot be defended for a particular circumstance without those three criteria.  So Liberals don't hate the market system, the just believe in a fairer one which companies have to disclose information for the public good, health, and safety, and that companies should interact with their market participants with honest, ethics, and integrity.


The Conservative/Libertarian market thinker believes that the free-er the market, the free-er the people.  This is both correct and misleading at the same time.  The law of natural liberties, postulated by Adam Smith was dependent on mankind being just, moral, and benevolent to his fellow men.  In Adam Smith's eyes, the transfer of wealth should be intrinsic and consistent.  While he opposed government regulating wages on the grounds that it was artificial, he also conceded as well that regulation of the market to punish cheaters, thieves, and corruption was necessary and proper for government to protect the public good, and the systematic good of Capitalism itself.  Smith was a moralist as much as a capitalist.  His work, The Wealth of Nations was a baseline for a pragmatic system of government and business working collectively for the mutual benefit of society.  The focus of Adam Smith's analysis was people, and their well being.

Today's world is full of leaders in the business world who are corrupt, unkind, and outright evil.  Such individuals do not embody the system Adam Smith or other moral economists strove to create.  It was exactly those kinds of people that Adam Smith believed would destroy capitalism due to their greed.  He was against hoarding wealth and doing nothing with it.  He wanted wealthier persons to donate and give and spend on ventures that built up those who had nothing.  But a system such as this is, I believe a beautiful notion, but a relatively unrealistic one.  It would take a massive shift in social thinking and economic policy, reforms in the justice system, a government that was more populist and less geared towards business interests to enforce this system of markets as Adam Smith divined.  So the only option that is left is a system of Capitalism with a ref hovering over their shoulders that is ready to pounce on anyone who injures a market participant or steals from the capitalist.  Market Capitalism is a great force in our society, and I want it to succeed.  I just want everyone to benefit from it as well.  And to accomplish this end, we must, with unity of purpose and thought, fight for a less corrupt, less closed market which enables opportunity to flourish and grow and persist for generations to come.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Violence Begets Violence

Violence begets violence. 

Playing World of Warcraft: The Mists of Pandaria, one of the main themes of this expansion is the addressing of the horrific violence between the Horde and Alliance. Every action begets an equally strong reaction. One scene from one of the solo-player scenarios shows two leaders sniping at each other about who did what to whom for various reasons of past wrongs and both promising retribution against each other. The Pandarean leader, who is a neutral person in the conflict, silences both of them and fiercely tells them..."Only YOU can end the cycle of Violence by putting down your weapons and walking away." After they both hear his words, Lady Jaina Proudmoore, a human leader who's city was destroyed by the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, and Lor'Themar Theron, the leader of a race called "The Blood Elves", consider his words carefully and simmer down.  In a moment of clarity and civility, the two leaders dismiss themselves and their contingents from the battlefield with a slight bow and respectful acknowledgment of each other and walk away from each other in a cordial manner. 

Friends, it's time we do the same.  Retribution against anyone will not restore who has been lost and fix who has been traumatized today. Nobody deserves death out of vengeance for this travesty. If the law sees fit to condemn someone to death after a court of law hears the evidence, then that is the law's right. But vengeance is not why we seek justice.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

LGBT Marriage Rights and Why

This is why Marriage rights must be expanded.  Because of situations like in Kansas City, MO.  A Missouri hospital recently removed a man from his life-partner, who each had power of attorney over each other.  The parents had him removed anyway because the hospital did not accept or understand the legal status of the two men.  At the request of the injured man's family, the spouse of this man was removed and arrested, then the court slapped the man with a restraining order, preventing him from visiting.

The universal understanding of marriage and it's commitment and obligation is why the LGBT community fights so passionately and vehemently for those rights.  No couple wants to go through a circumstance where one or another partner is denied the right to make legal decisions, to hold the hand, or comfort, talk to, or to be unable to honor his or her marriage vows of enduring together through thick or thin.  To deny any pair those fundamental human rights is akin to torture.  It's like someone's reaching into your chest, ripping your heart and soul out, and spitting on them in front of you.  It is the worst kind of pain that one could ever feel, and the most horrendous kind of cruelty that could be thrust on any pair of joined human beings.

I don't care, that you or anyone think the Bible establishes "Biblical or Natural" marriage.  IT IS NOT RELEVANT to this debate.  We are not a theocracy, we are not a religious state.  We are a secularized Representative Democracy with clear and established roles for religion in relation to state.  Either eliminate the institution entirely, or universalize it for two people.  People of faith have no right to impose their religious beliefs on the public legal institutions of our society.  Not everybody is a Christian, it's not right to force belief by the power of the law, and the law is not our grand inquisitor charged to purge unrighteousness from the land.

Marriage Rights Now!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Biblical Argument Against LGBT Discrimination of Goods and Services

Attorney General Bob Ferguson

The State of Washington Attorney General has begun steps to sue Arlene’s Flowers & Gifts in Richland, WA for refusing to provide services to a gay couple who sought services from the florist for their marriage.  The owners, citing their religious opposition to gay marriage refused their request to provide flowers and other marriage amenities.  The couple complained to the Attorney General's office that their civil rights had been violated under Washington State Law.

Now this begs a question that I've asked forever.  Is it Christian to refuse services that you may morally disagree with?  This isn't a matter of static immorality like lying or cheating or some other form of malfeasance that causes an obvious injury to another person.  This is about an arbitrary viewpoint about a civil institution that is legal, of which it's "moral" standing is deeply questionable and highly debatable. This moral issue on the level of, "Is it moral to wear white shoes after labor day" or "It's immoral to strike your children" or the ethics of paying minimum wage vs. a livable wage.  These are arbitrary moral standards that do not provide enough legal justification for refusing to serve the needs of gay couple.  Nor is there a sufficient amount of Biblical justification as well.

The justification that is often touted by fundamentalists to refuse same-sex couples access to services or goods is argued on the grounds that such an action would result in introducing "demonic" presences or that you are tolerating "evil".  Some believe that you are encouraging a sinful lifestyle in society.  There are any number of reasons that a Christian might have for refusing to serve a gay couple or individual for that matter.  Such a viewpoint is entirely based in fear, ignorance, and hatred.  The arguments above hold no water, and they have no scriptural justification to hold them up.  Service, especially to those who perhaps do not follow Jesus is the primary mission of Jesus.  Service, compassion, and love are what we are requested and mandated to have for others regardless of faith, lifestyle, culture, or other differing norms that perhaps make them different from you.  If there was one man in the Bible who touted the virtues of tolerance, it was Jesus.  Here are some scriptures to look at:

1) Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, for this is the law and the prophets.  Matt 7:12

2) Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matt 22:36-40

3) Judge not, that you may not be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged; and with whatever measure you measure out, it shall be measured to you again. And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the splinter out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First cast the beam out of your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to cast the splinter out of your brother's eye. Matt 7:1-5

The three statements above are verses that pretty much lay down any inklings to judge someone for anything.  The argument that you can discriminate based on religious belief is as appalling as discriminating based on cultural values, or race, or gender identity, sex, whatever criteria you want to use.  The first verse, Matt 7:12 is pretty clear, if you don't want to be treated like a jerk, don't treat others like jerks.  Be kind if you want people to kind to you back.  It's a give and take kind of rule which makes sense and is profound all at the same time.  Would a married couple want to be discriminated against for being a straight married couple?  Could an Atheist tell a straight married couple, "It's against my lack of faith to provide you with my services because I object to the Christian label of marriage in civil law?"  No of course not.  So just as Atheists can't tell that to a married patron, neither can a Christian business owner tell a gay couple.  It's a morally bankrupt assertion to make, and it's a close-minded, bigoted position.

The second set of verses, Matt 22:36-40 is the exact copy of The 10 Commandments in two-statement form. How does refusing to offer services to gay couples express the command from Jesus to love your neighbor? What is loving about treating someone as though they are diseased?  The 10 Commandments don't say anything about gay couples, or any couples for that matter.  Love your neighbor as yourself not only covers the 10 Commandments, but reinforces Matt 7:12 and expands on it.  It's like the 9th Amendment of the US Constitution.  The list of rights are not the only rights, and does not exclude future unlisted rights.  The same level of argument for this scripture, Matt 22:36-40 is the same kind of statement.  Anything you can do to love your neighbor, you should do.  You may not agree with someone's sexuality, but it's not the basis to not love them, or treat them fairly.  The law should not recognize any discrimination that does not directly affect another's personal rights.  So, for example, if you decide not to offer services because you doubt the ability of the person to pay, and request payment up front, then I would argue that is a justified type of discrimination.  If you cannot fill the requested service due to limitations on your manpower and available product...that is a legitimate discrimination.  If you engaging in a service would infringe on the rights of another person, such as property rights, personal safety, or the right to due process...then this is definitely a justified discrimination.  However, just because someone is gay does not give you the legal right to deny services, nor is it religiously justified.  Its only when the legal rights of another is threatened that such a discrimination may be ethically justified.

The third verse, Matt 7:1-5 is the final scripture I reference in this discussion.  Christians are often, and sometimes deservingly so, labeled as judgmental.  Now you may ask, "aren't you doing this with this article?"  And do a degree, yes I am passing judgment on another's actions.  The degree in which I am judging is the legal and religious arguments they gave for their assertion that they are allowed to discriminate.  But in regards to judging others as people, this business had no cause to judge their choice of partner, and deny services as such.  Actions such as those are, in essence, a form of the business punishing the patron.  The business is not God, or a Judge of Morality.  If you don't approve of someone's "lifestyle", why would you feel it's right for you to punish them?
The whole point of all this article is that, as Christians, we have an obligation to love everybody equally, fairly, and justly.  It is our purpose, our mission statement, and our call.  Compassion, sympathy, empathy, service, and love should be a central part of every Christian's life.  Even if you don't agree with someone, does that mean you should love or serve them any less?  Should Christ have not healed the Leper or the blind and lame man?  Or perhaps Christ should have just let Lazarus sit in the tomb to rot (which he actually kinda did technically) and not resurrecting him.  Jesus should have recoiled away from the Samaritan Woman for being disgusting and unclean because that was the "social tradition" of the time.  But folks, guess what.  He didn't do any of those things.  He served all layers of society.  I mean for heaven's sake, he let a prostitute wash his feet with her hair.  That's not exactly a socially "shining" moment for him either.  We should not do things that we know are morally bankrupt.  As Christians, we are called to live as Christ lived, do as Christ did, and serve as Christ served.  If you don't have love...anything else you do is pointless and worthless.  Through love, and Christ, all things are possible.

Gabriel Givens holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The Evergreen State College in Political Science and History.  You can read more of Gabriel’s work at  You can follow him on twitter @gdgivens and subscribe to him at

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Apostle Paul Supports the Good that Government Can Do

So to start this piece, a bit of scripture to provide some reference.

Romans 13:1-7 (NIV)

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 

Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 

Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

So Paul has always been an interesting character in New Testament scripture. He was an apostle, though he never personally touched Jesus as the others did, he was a man of the law, and was part of the establishment in authority. Paul was also legalistic, bold, direct...however a bit on the verbose side.  He often condemned hedonism or those who indulged in excesses.  And he was a staunch opponent of government corruption, but a supporter of government.  

So, Romans 13 discusses how we should act in regards to government.  So with government, Paul calls government the servant of God.  Now this doesn't mean it's a proxy for God, but that God establishes government for your good and your well-being.  Government is the arbiter of justice, the arm which temporal authority is dispensed.  Paul was a firm believer that government served the common man...which would make sense that he opposed corrupt government.  Corrupt government, to Paul, would be deeply offensive.  If men were expected to follow the law, but the arbiters of the law were themselves corrupt, then so was the law they dispensed.  Such a catch-22 was very problematic for Paul as one whom, himself was a dispenser of the law.  

Paul's argument is about the following things:

1) Follow the law.

2) Follow the law both out of fear, but more so out of a sense of conscience.

3) By following the law, you honor God.

4) Government is established to do you good.  To serve you as a citizen.

5) Pay what the government says to pay.  If it wants 50% or 60% of your income, then pay it to them, because it is the law.  

6) Government is to be moral, ethical, and just.  Free from corruption, free from coercion, and the pinnacle of impartiality regarding the matters of men.

7) It is by God's will that government is established, and by serving government, you serve God.  That is to say it's not meaning that a particular government is "favored" by God, but that it is by government that terrestrial justice is dealt.  And also, I'm not saying that by worshiping government, you worship God, but that it honor's God when you honor the laws which a government establishes.

The anti-government, anti-authority, anti-public anything is deeply offensive when put into perspective.  Government has been unfairly demonized over the last 40 years since "The Gipper" uttered his famous statement "Government is not the solution to our problems, but the source of them."  By sacrificing more and more public institutions to the private sector, we give up what good government can do for us and place them into the whims of persons who seek to profit over what should be publicly provided for.  Schools, Jails, Sanitation, Water, Power, and other commons resources.  It's important to remember, that we must change the mindset we have regarding government, and remember that government is indeed "...Of the people, by the people, and for the people."  And if we remember that...we can take back what is indeed for the people, and reshape it into a better, stronger, more efficient broker of power, a more efficient machine which invests money into the public sector for the public good, and enables fair and equitable treatment under the law.

Gabriel Givens holds a Bachelor’s Degree from The Evergreen State College in Political Science and History.  You can read more of Gabriel’s work at  You can follow him on twitter @gdgivens and subscribe to him at

Disgruntled, Angry, and Nauseous

Ugh...feeling kinda physically ill today due to all the constantly bad news in the Media today. Makes me sick to think that I live in a nation ruled by a party that thinks it's ok to rob people, using the law to cover their actions. 

I felt inspired to share some scripture that expresses my sorrows and frustrations.

Isaiah 10:1-2

Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.

Isaiah 29:14-16

Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?

Jeremiah 22:13-14

“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his own people work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.’
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar
and decorates it in red.

Proverbs 10

10 The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise son brings joy to his father,
but a foolish son brings grief to his mother.

2 Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value,
but righteousness delivers from death.

3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry,
but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy hands make for poverty,
but diligent hands bring wealth.

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,
but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.[a]

7 The name of the righteous is used in blessings,[b]
but the name of the wicked will rot.

8 The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 Whoever winks maliciously causes grief,
and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,
but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense.

14 The wise store up knowledge,
but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.

17 Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips
and spreads slander is a fool.

19 Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,
but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
without painful toil for it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dread will overtake them;
what the righteous desire will be granted.

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,
so are sluggards to those who send them.

27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,
but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom,
but a perverse tongue will be silenced.

32 The lips of the righteous know what finds favor,
but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

Just how I'm feeling right now I guess, tired of people being jerks to other people, robbing people, stealing from them, using the law for unjust ends. Time for it to end, and to restore what belongs to others back to them.  The end of corporate theft, the end of government corruption, the end of unjust, stupid or flat out evil laws.  Time to restore a sense of civil morality and responsibility.  Time to demand accountability from others.  It'll take some strength of character, hard work, and effort from everybody who feels they're getting the raw end of the stick.  And that's most of the American Middle Class and the poor.  If you want Government to work for you, it's time to take it back, and make a stand for values that we all share.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Matthew 19 Does Not Define Traditional Marriage...

I heard today, while watching parts of The David Pakman Show, that a Navy Chaplain justified his opposition to gay marriage by saying that Christ established marriage's parameters by way of Matthew 19.  So, let's look at Matthew 19 a little more.

Some background on Matthew 19.  Matthew 19 is a query to Jesus by the Pharisees regarding marriage.  The Pharisees asked him of men could divorce their wives whenever they wanted for whatever reason.  Jesus basically responds with the explanation that men and women who are married or coupled by contracts should strive to preserve their relationship as much as possible.  That both partners should attempt to do everything possible to make sure that they stay together.  He was highlighting the significance of the marriage contract.  It was subsistence for women in this society as well as a healthy environment for child rearing.  Often when divorce happened in this time, not only was the wife divorced, but the children went with her as well.  This resulted in divorced women trying to survive with children to care for and often created a severe humanitarian problem.  Women could not own property and had very few work prospects available to them.  So the consequences of divorce were severe for women.  Jesus was speaking against men who would abandon their families to follow their...uh...desires.  To simply abandon your wife and children without just cause (such as sexual immorality) was offensive to Jesus because it created life-long problems for the wife and the children and believed that such motives were not based in love, justice, or fairness.  In a word, it was misogynistic.

So, why does Matthew 19 not support the assertion that Christ established the definition of Marriage here?

Matthew 19 is NOT Jesus defining Marriage as Man and Woman. It is Christ repeating the scriptures from Genesis 2:24. But there is no proof here that this is an explicit establishment of a social institution.  Christ is referring here to the unique relationship that marriage brings to two people. The feelings and devotion that marriage brings. Because Christ is living in an ancient society, he only knew about the concept of man and woman unions, and had no frame of reference to address to persons of the same sex engaged in exactly the same kind of environment with the same sorts of circumstances.  It's likely that Christ was referring to that specific type of union as the only one he knew. Such a reference should not be inferred as excluding committed same-sex couples, as Christ doesn't even mention it anywhere in The New Testament.  The argument claiming "Well, because there were no gay people back then." is also incorrect, as Ancient Rome and Greece both had very liberal views about relationships, sex, and fraternization.  Rome and Greece both were open and accepting of homosexuals, as much as any society from that time could be, anyway.  

The Strong's Dictionary Root (Hebrew) H802 which means "Woman" but is also interchanged with the english word WIFE in Genesis 2, is the same root used when God creates Eve and the word Woman and wife are derived from the same root. 

Later, when Christ references it, in Matt 19, we see him use the word wife, but again the words are obscure and Strong's Dictionary Root (Greek) G1135 which also means Woman, but infers wife could simply mean a woman who happens to have a man, and a man who happens to have a woman. Civil marriage in this time was a contract, usually between the groom and the father of the woman being married. So, the term wife/woman being used interchangeably could simply denote the legal status or closer-than-friendship relationship. There is no inferred spiritual significance or the like. Simply that Christ was saying in Chapter 19 of Matthew that if you abandon your wife cause you want another woman, you're being a jerk to the woman and leaving her in the dust for no good reason, which is petty and cruel. Remember, women in Greece, Rome, and Jerusalem has few rights, up to and including property rights except under the most mitigating circumstances. Christ was speaking out against the men who abandon women due to either lust, or no other good reason.

If you wish to reference the above mentioned verses, the text I used was the King James Bible with Strong's Hebrew and Greek Dictionary references which provides the root's definitions in question.  E-Sword is a great option if you want to look up the verse and roots in question.

H802 - ish-shaw', naw-sheem' meaning woman, but also interchanged with wife, adulteress.  

G1135 - goo-nay' Probably from the root of G1096; A woman, specifically a wife - Wife, Woman.