Last week’s Supreme Court decision that invented a constitutional right for homosexuals to marry has stirred a host of emotions within the hearts of Christians. They include anger at the country’s rejection of godliness, anxiety about the fate of religious freedom, and frustration over the weak faith of brethren who have embraced the misleading “God is love” gospel of appeasement.
These feelings are understandable and even righteous. But they are volatile and if not kept in check, they could explode into sinful attitudes and behavior, whether in the immediate aftermath of the ruling or as its consequences become evident. The ruling also may weaken the resolve of some Christians to accept the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality as truth — and to share that truth with others who need to hear it.
In other words, the spiritual fallout of the ruling could be as great as the political and cultural impact. Five justices on the Supreme Court did not directly change the spiritual reality in America in that no one suddenly started practicing homosexuality because of their votes. But Satan clearly is using the decision as a wedge to tempt God’s people into committing sins that are just as eternally destructive as homosexuality. He may have been on the prowl for our souls all along.
We Christians need to prepare our minds accordingly as the age of gay marriage becomes fully realized in the United States. Here are some relevant biblical truths:
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (I Cor. 6:13). To some extent, it’s too late for saints to be on the alert against deceptions about homosexuality. Advocates have achieved their long-term goal of overhauling the views of straight America. The “massive, silent cultural revolution” they led has been so successful that today more Americans believe homosexuality is moral than those who believed divorce was in 2001. This includes many people who claim to be Christians. The pressure to conform to this cultural norm will be even greater thanks to the Supreme Court’s endorsement of gay marriage. To stand firm in such circumstances, we must don the full armor of God and be ready to engage in spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-18).
“We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In speaking for the Supreme Court’s majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said people whose faith prevents them from condoning same-sex marriage have the right under the First Amendment to teach those principles. But in separate dissenting opinions, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito warned that the ruling offers “no comfort” to Christians, who can expect to be vilified if they show themselves “unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.” So far Roberts and Alito appear to have a better grasp of political reality. Believers are being punished for refusing to bake cakes, take photos, provide flowers or rent facilities for same-sex wedding ceremonies and even to perform such ceremonies. The Supreme Court hasn’t given Christians any reason to hope that will change. Last year the court refused to reconsider a ruling against a photographer. It appears likely that Christians will be forced to choose between obeying God or men when it comes to gay marriage. The apostles Peter and John, who went to jail for preaching “the whole message of this Life” and then defied the authorities who told them to stop talking about Jesus (Acts 4:13-22, 5:27-39), serve as shining examples of how to respond when faced with that dilemma.
“Whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Rom. 13:2). When no conflict exists between the gospel and the government, Christians must obey men in order to obey God. Down the road, that may mean paying more taxes. The Supreme Court decision already has triggered talk of eliminating the tax exemptions that churches have enjoyed for decades. Such a policy could have far-reaching budgetary consequences for congregations. As U.S. citizens, we Christians certainly have the right to defend tax exemptions with as much political force as we can muster, knowing that indirectly they have helped spread the gospel in America and abroad. But if we ultimately lose, we must render to Uncle Sam what is his (Mark 12:13-17). (We also must not let any changes in the tax code influence our cheerful, selfless financial support of the gospel, II Cor. 9:7.) Enemies of Christ undoubtedly will look for other ways to hinder the church in its mission and get the government to go along with them. Whenever that happens, saints must honestly assess whether the demands are unrighteous or merely unjust and respond as guided by God’s Word.
Filed under: Culture and Government and News & Politics and Religion
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Both the quote and the photo are courtesy of the same White House, seven years apart.
Interpret it as you will. I see freedom of religion and freedom of speech on display. Let’s hope both First Amendment values are equally welcome in the America of the future.
Filed under: Government and News & Politics and Photography and Religion
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You may think it’s impossible to forget how to ride a bike, but this video proves otherwise. It is an amazing demonstration of how the brain works. I don’t quite understand it — but that makes it even more amazing.
A Facebook friend who watched the video said the bike made at least two changes in the brain’s how-to-ride-a-bike algorithm — the second being that the change in the handlebars forces the rider to put most of this weight back on the seat rather than leaning forward.
“If you lean into the turn with pressure on the bars, you will push the front wheel in the wrong direction,” he said. “So, it is not just about left-right; it’s about a bike that is in fact impossible to ride with a normal position. You have to have almost 100 percent of your weight on the seat.
That may well be, but it doesn’t make the experiment any less fascinating to me. The fact that every person who tries to ride the backward bike fails is the most impressive to me. If science class had been this interesting, I might have gravitated toward it as a field of study instead of journalism.
Filed under: Culture and Education and Human Interest and Video
Here are the first few paragraphs to spark your interest:
Check out the full coverage at Medium.
Filed under: History and Military and News & Politics and Photography and Video
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Back in the good old days, when potheads existed on the fringe of society, no one paid much attention to the pet names they gave their various drug concoctions. But now that marijuana has gone mainstream in 23 states and the District of Columbia, their sales gimmicks may start to matter.
A case in point: Girl Scout Cookies.
To the 2 million Girl Scouts and 800,000 adults who lead the troops, not to mention the millions of people who binge eat the sugary snacks, Girl Scout Cookies is the umbrella brand name for Do-si-dos, Tagalongs, Thin Mints and all the rest. Girl Scouts of the United States of America has been selling the cookies for decades, both to raise money and teach girls how to be entrepreneurs.
But to marijuana lovers, Girl Scout Cookies means something entirely different. I won’t get into the pharmacological specifics here, but the gist of it is that Girl Scout Cookies is a strain of Mary Jane that hit the market in California back in 2010 and quickly became popular. It has won multiple awards within the marijuana community.
I learned all of that this week when news broke of the first marijuana vending machine. The machine’s promo for “Girl Scout Cookies” jumped out at me and made me curious. It also caught the attention of the first customer, who bought one gram of Girl Scout Cookies for $15.
The question is what the Girl Scouts organization thinks of its signature brand being associated with a hallucinogenic drug. One scout caused a stir last year when she sold cookies outside a marijuana pot shop in California, but the new vending machines raise the stakes to a whole new level, one of intellectual property rights.
The head of American Green, the company that owns the machines, seemed surprised and defensive when a radio reporter grilled him about the legality of selling pot as Girl Scout Cookies. Stephen Shearin’s responses included:
But now that the vending machines are getting national attention, the real Girl Scouts are taking the apparent copyright infringement seriously. A spokesman told the station, “Girl Scouts of the USA is aware of our trademark being misappropriated. We take these trademark misappropriations seriously and, when applicable, will send a cease and desist.”
Filed under: Advertising and Business and Culture and News & Politics
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When a snowstorm hit Bound Brook, N.J., this week, a couple of enterprising young men bounded from their warm homes into the streets to try to make some money by shoveling snow.
It’s the kind of energy we see all too rarely these days among teenagers who prefer soft bean bags and video games to hard labor, and it should be celebrated. Instead, a police encounter ensued when a grumpy, get-off-my-sidewalk citizen complained.
The police could have ignored this citizen and let the teenage boys serve their neighborhood, even if for a fee. Instead, Police Chief Michael Jannone made excuses for the stop when another citizen publicly chastised the police for intervening.
At first he said officers stopped the snow-shovelers because they were outside during dangerous weather. That lame defense wouldn’t fly once the boys told a different story. Then Jannone trotted out the tired and phony cliche I called out a couple of weeks ago: “We don’t make the laws, but we have to uphold them.”
Hogwash! Police never have and never will enforce every law on the books. And a good time for them to exercise discretion not to enforce a law is when an obnoxious citizen complains about harmless behavior like asking to shovel snow.
Anyone with common sense knows that anti-solicitation laws are aimed at door-knocking salesmen, not the young entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. The better police response would have been to ignore — and perhaps even scold — the whiner who deemed snow-shoveling to be a matter worthy of taxpayer-funded police intervention.
Filed under: Business and Culture and Government and News & Politics
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The for-profit company King Inc., which represents the family of the civil rights leader whose legacy America remembers today, has been enforcing its legal rights to his speeches and images so strictly that his story isn’t being told as widely as it could be otherwise. National Review told the story a couple of weeks ago in the context of the new movie “Selma.”
King’s heirs are so adamant about licensing his powerful words that they demanded $20,000 from the personal lawyer and speechwriter who copyrighted King’s “dream” speech. And the foundation behind the memorial to King in Washington, D.C., had to remove his name from its own in order to avoid fees and further delays in building the memorial.
I support the right of MLK’s heirs to seek reasonable licensing fees for commercial uses of King’s intellectual property, such as in the movie “Selma.” But imposing fees on a nonprofit that built a memorial to honor him is ridiculous. The same goes for suing news organizations and documentary creators who tell King’s story.
King Inc. has the law on its side in most cases, but the money-grubbing behavior of King’s heirs undermines his legacy. Former King ally Bill Rutherford said MLK “must be spinning in his grave” because his family is selling the vision that King gave the world for free.
The actions of his heirs also expose the greatest flaw of copyright protection. Thanks in large part to Disney, which has lobbied hard and often to keep exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse, copyright terms today last more than 100 years in some cases.
Unfortunately, those terms are likely to keep getting longer with millions of dollars at stake.
Filed under: Government and History and Media and News & Politics and People
Lawbreakers caught in the act of petty offenses often try to shift blame from themselves to the law enforcers who bust them.
“Don’t the cops have anything better to do than hassle me for going 5 miles an hour over the speed limit?” they might say. Or, “Shouldn’t the police be investigating drug dealers instead of stopping otherwise law-abiding citizens for jaywalking?”
Such refrains are either naïve for assuming that all officers have the same duties or, more likely, they are dishonest attempts at dodging responsibility. In either case, law enforcers don’t take these defenses seriously, nor should they.
Unfortunately, police officers are not immune to such flawed logic themselves. Dare to question the wisdom of when they use force and how much of it, and you’ll likely hear something like this: “We don’t make the laws; we just enforce them.”
That was one argument offered in defense of New York officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose use of a chokehold allegedly caused Eric Garner’s death on July 17.
Pantaleo’s critics said he used excessive force in taking down a man for the minor crime of selling loose cigarettes on the street, and he should have been indicted for it. Fellow law enforcers said Pantaleo had no choice but to enforce the law as he did against a man who was resisting arrest.
Law enforcers who spout such lines are being disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. The idea that they enforce all laws equally in every situation is laughable.
Think back to the speeding example. Officers do not always enforce the letter of those laws. Police discretion helped me avoid a ticket in my hometown last year after two officers busted me for speeding. I was guilty and never questioned the charge but received a friendly verbal warning.
When I recounted that story to a friend who is a deputy sheriff, noting that I was surprised to get a break because my car was licensed in another state, he confirmed that some policemen do indeed prefer to ticket speeders with out-of-state tags. That practice doesn’t exactly square with the rhetoric that “we just enforce the laws.”
The police make excuses like that when they are on the defensive. Any other time, they readily admit that exercising discretion is part of the job.
Filed under: Culture and Government and News & Politics and People and Video
Back in 1995 during the heyday of the war on Big Tobacco, anti-smoking groups created what they thought was a clever marketing campaign. They contrasted the powerful warning labels for cigarettes in other countries with the weaker labels here in the United States.
To illustrate the point, the clueless crusaders sent sample labels to every member of Congress and to journalists like me. There was just one problem: The labels were on actual packs of cigarettes. Activists who had dedicated their lives to kicking tobacco’s butts had become charity tobacco distributors for a day. Free smokes for everyone!
That irony came to mind today when I saw this “public service announcement” against guns:
“What the ad-makers are encouraging is highly illegal and invites danger,” The Daily Caller noted in describing the ad. “The boy would be guilty of weapons theft, illegal concealed carry and carrying a weapon on school property.”
That last point is the most outrageous when you think about the senseless zero-tolerance atmosphere that anti-gun zealots have inspired in public schools. Children can’t even use their fingers to simulate gun play or shape a pastry to look like a gun without being punished severely.
Who’s the ad wizard who thought it would be a good idea to tell students to sneak actual weapons, and presumably loaded ones, onto school property?!
That’s actually a rhetorical question. Her name is Rejina Sincic, and she is standing by her creation, to the point of calling people “cowards” for not sharing it. Thousands of YouTube viewers have voted the video down, compared with a handful who actually like it, yet she still can’t see the hypocrisy of it all.
That’s what happens when you’re blinded by a superiority complex.
Update, Dec. 27: The backlash against her video, including the Hit & Run blog calling it “the worst anti-gun PSA of all time,” prompted Sincic to make private her original upload, which I had embedded here, and block all comments about the new version, which is now embedded above.
Filed under: Advertising and Culture and Education and Hunting & Guns and Video
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I penned these words 15 years ago after a national tragedy. I’m sharing them now because they remain relevant, albeit to another tragedy:
This time around, the myth involves a suspected criminal rather than an innocent victim, but it still won’t die. The myth is that Michael Brown was surrendering with his hands up and said “don’t shoot” when Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot him to death. Sensational coverage of the Aug. 9 shooting has fueled that myth ever since, and it is now considered unassailable gospel truth in some quarters.
Those quarters include, most notably, the National Football League stadium in the metropolis where the shooting occurred and Capitol Hill. The hands-up gesture is the rallying cry of Brown’s defenders, be they part of an official group like Hands Up United, talking heads in the media or the outraged masses on Twitter.
Or, in the words of protester Taylor Gruenloh: “Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry. It’s just a metaphor.”
But eloquent protests to the contrary, the truth does matter. Metaphors that perpetuate lies — whether they involve a young, white girl like Cassie Bernall or a young, black man like Michael Brown — breed cynicism and thus deepen the wounds they aim to heal.
That’s why Charles Barkley, a black man and former professional athlete who can identify with both Brown and five St. Louis Rams who thrust their hands in the air on Sunday, lashed out at irresponsible journalists who help spread deceitful metaphors. “I can’t believe anything I hear on television anymore,” he said. “And, that’s why I don’t like talking about race issues with the media anymore because they love this stuff and lead people to jump to conclusions.”
Sports writer John Walters cut to the chase in a Newsweek column: “The grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, failed to indict one police officer; the proliferation of hands up, don’t shoot indicts all of them. To get justice, you must start with the truth.”
Filed under: Culture and Media and News & Politics and People and Sports
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