Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How Can You Tell A Conservative From a Liberal?

PEOPLE OFTEN ASK, what is the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative? When all the vehemence is boiled down, how are their worldviews different? It is a good question, and the answer might surprise you. 

It is not their belief, or lack of belief, in God. Many conservatives are atheists, and many liberals are theists. Nancy Pelosi is a professing Roman Catholic, but atheist George Will, noted columnist, is a well-respected conservative.  

The difference between a political conservative and a political liberal is not their belief about God. It is their conviction about human nature, what theologians call our anthropologyAre people basically good, or basically selfish, acquisitive, and narcissistic? That is the question. In his book, A Conflict in Vision, economist Thomas Sowell, not a Christian, argues this point persuasively. So does a recent YouTube video by Prager University. 

Here is the great irony. The more confidence we have in the goodness of human nature the more evil we will become. The opposite is also true. The less confidence we have in human nature, the more virtuous we will generally become. Think about these examples. 

Your belief on human nature will govern your approach to child rearing. If you think children are inherently selfish and self-centered, you will discipline them. If not, you will despise corporeal punishment. Your parenting style will be permissive. Your children will mature with their narcissism in full flower. The evidence of their sinful nature is overwhelming. Children don't need to be taught to be evil. They are naturally evil. They need to be taught virtue, and if they are not taught virtue, they won't be virtuous. 

Personal Responsibility
Your belief about human nature will determine your approach to personal responsibility. Are people fundamentally responsible for the choices they make in life? If the heart is fundamentally self-centered, then I am responsible for the bad choices I make.  But, if I am fundamentally good my problems and successes cannot be the result of my heart disposition. My environment, something outside of me, i.e. parenting, education, social status, neighborhood, etc., must be the problem. The latter view is called "Environmentalism." I am not responsible. My environment is. 

If our environment is the problem then government intervention is the solution. Billions will be spent on anti-poverty programs, education, etc. 

But, if you believe that people are basically self-centered and selfish, then no amount of environmental change will help. A change of heart is the only solution, and hearts only change through strong families, religion, and parenting. This is why conservatives generally push for strong families and limited government. 

Police and Military
Your belief about human nature will shape your convictions about the role of military and law enforcement. If people are basically good, we need limited law enforcement. If people are basically good we don't need to fear China or Iran. Their attitude towards us will surely be benevolent. We can trust them to keep their agreements.  We do not need a strong military. 

But, if people are basically covetous, dishonest, and selfish, we need a strong military. Our foes cannot be trusted. We know from history that the best way to preserve peace is to convince our potential foes that an attack on the U.S. will be their undoing. That is why "Peace through Strength" is the conservative motto. 

Your belief about human nature will determine your economic theory. Capitalism is the economic system for sinners. It harnesses the human lust for material gain and makes it serve the common good. Because people are basically lazy and dishonest, the capitalist realizes that it cannot help those who will not try to help themselves. Even Jesus said, the poor you will always have with you.

Socialism is the economic system for idealists. Believing that people are basically good, the liberal believes it can pass out government checks and people will not abuse the system. Believing that people are basically good ,the liberal believes government can penalize the productive with onerous taxes and they will still produce. 

Bottom Line 
Because of their belief in the goodness of human nature, liberals tend to be Utopian. They believe that, if we just try hard enough, we can create the perfect society. Communism was Utopian. The last century alone should convince us that utopianism is a terrible error. With this view of human nature Stalin slaughtered somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 million Russians. "You need to break a few eggs to make an omlette" was his famous rationalization. 

Similarly  Mao Zedong, attempting to create a social utopia in China, butchered somewhere between 60 and 80 million Chinese. 

Isn't it amazing that these men could be so patently evil themselves, and still believe that people are basically good?  "The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can understand it?" Our capacity for self-deception is astounding. 

The Bible is realistic . It does not flatter us. This is why most conservatives are Believers. "And the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen 6:5). "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:12). The less confidence we have in human nature the more virtuous we will become. The ultimate change of heart that brings true virtue is conversion to Christ. For our good and the good of our children, let us humble ourselves, and confess our sins, so that we can grow in moral goodness. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Idolatry Is the Mother of Addiction

A PHYSICAL PLEASURE, pursued for ultimate satisfaction, will almost always morph into an addiction. Why? Because worldly pleasures cannot provide ultimate satisfaction. In vain, we squeeze them for just a little bit more, but they increasingly disappoint.

Only God can provide ultimate satisfaction, ultimate meaning, and ultimate happiness.  When we ascribe "ultimacy" to anything created (a relationship, asset, experience, accomplishment) we deify it. If we fail to repent, God may give us up to the idol. Then, convinced that the material blessing can do what only God can do. we become addicted.God wants us addicted to himself, not one of his legitimate earthly pleasures.

This is the case with sex. When practiced within marriage, as a way to serve our spouse, it can be a great source of joy. It is fulfilling the purpose for which God created it. But when pursued as an end in itself, its failure to satisfy will cause us to squeeze it for greater and greater thrills.  Sexual addiction is the result. Sex as God intended it has now morphed into sado-masochism, wife swapping, etc.. Because sex can never satisfy, no sexual pleasure is ever good enough. This is why pornography is so addicting. It might start with a Playboy centerfold, progress to total nudity, then heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, rape scenes, then bestiality, etc. etc. The joy and satisfaction that God intended for sex in marriage is gone. We are in bondage. We are miserable. We are addicted and we don't know the way out.

This is also true of material things. Food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and cell phones are God's good gifts, but when we expect something material to give ultimate security, or meaning, nothing is ever "enough." "He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

John Rockefeller was, in today's currency, worth 500 billion. The richest man in the world today is only worth 100 billion. When Rockefeller was asked, "How much is enough?" His answer was predictable. "Just a little  more."

The same principle applies to fame and success. By age 30 Tom Brady had already won three super-bowls. In a Sixty Minutes interview he transparently asked, "Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me?" We admire Brady for his transparent honesty. However, the answer is simple. Only God can satisfy! Three Super Bowl rings will only satisfy one who understands that only God can provide ultimate satisfaction.

If you are addicted to sex, money, fame or whatever, there will be a deep, gnawing restlessness. The way to freedom is simple. Repent and look to the proper Source of all happiness and fulfillment. The restlessness will die. Heart-contentment will increasingly reign. You will discover the truth of Augustine's famous statement. "Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you."

Here is the bottom line. Sex, fame, food, and worldly glory only satisfy when we don't expect them to. Therefore, terminate the pain of addiction with repentance. Addict yourself to God. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ABORTION Has A Long History

THIS MONTH IS THE 45th ANNIVERSARY of the Supreme Court decision, Roe V Wade, that "found" a "right" to abortion in the constitution. Since the decision approximately 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S. As we mourn  this event, it is important to remember that abortion is a sin with a long history. It is an earthly manifestation of the spiritual warfare that rages about us daily.

Jesus told his disciples that the Devil "was a murderer from the beginning" (Jn. 8:44).
Satan hates humanity, and he aims his hatred at the most vulnerable amongst us, our children. This has been his pattern for millennia.

Think of Deuteronomy 12:31 written over 3,000 years ago. Moses warned Israel not to worship the god's of the other nations. "They even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods." The Moabites, Ammonites, Canaanites, and Phoenicians all engaged in the abhorrent practice of infant sacrifice. They sacrificed their children to their gods. Since these people were unknowing members of Satan's Kingdom (Jn. 12:31), the Devil was the ultimate author of this practice. He was the god to whom they sacrificed.

The Canaanites worshiped Baal, and infant sacrifice was its cornerstone  In The Expositors Bible, F. W. Farrar quotes an ancient eyewitness. "Children were sacrificed by being put in a leather bag and flung down from the top of the temple, with the shocking expression that ‘they were calves, not children." Another eyewitness in 8th century B.C. Carthage watched in horror as mothers threw their infants into a gigantic bonfire built to receive this, their most costly offering. 

An infant offered to Baal 
The contrast is astounding. Our father in heaven is about protecting and nurturing children at all stages of development.  "You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech [or Baal]...I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 18:21). In addition, the sixth commandment prohibits murder. This includes the murder of infants at any stage of development. Because the practice of infanticide was murder, it was a capital crime. The penalty was death by stoning (Lev. 20:1).

The same dark spirit behind the ancient practice of infanticide motivates today's practice of abortion. Abortion is just the modern version of the Devil's ancient work. Like the Canaanites,we also sacrifice our children  to our gods, but the ,motives are selfish. The pregnant mother doesn't want the bother and hassle. Or she is determined to let nothing obstruct her career ambition, so she just eliminates the "obstruction." In the modern world, it's all about me.

In addition, Satan works through the massive abortion industrial complex, ready and willing to provide the abortion, motivated by nothing but money.

However, there is Good News. The ultimate expression of this unseen spiritual war against children occurred in the New Testament. The Devil manipulated the Jews and the Romans to slaughter the ultimate Child of the ultimate Parent, Jesus Christ. Meanwhile God proved that he was wiser than Satan. Through death God's child destroyed the Devil and his work. Jesus took  the capital punishment that every Believing parent,who once engaged in abortion, deserves. Here is the most amazing love. Jesus took the death penalty in our place.

How should we respond? First, we should hate infanticide, and its modern expression, abortion, as God hates it. Second, if you have been involved in an abortion, God wants you to run to the gospel. Receive God's free love and forgiveness. God offers it to you at Christ's infinite expense. God loves you so much that his Son took the death penalty in your place. Third, "keep yourself in the love of God" (Jude 21). Wash away the guilt and stain of this sin with God's inexhaustible love. Do it regularly. Do it daily. God will be delighted.