The Blessed Path

The Light from Asia

While most Americans have their political thoughts focused on the Presidential campaigns, or are trying to forget them by pretending to care about sports they otherwise didn’t know existed before the Olympics, something very big happened over thAhoke weekend. Some 10,000 miles away in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, a Christian church held a conference on politics.  The Christian Faith, Democracy and Prosperous Nation conference was significant for multiple reasons, but the biggest was one of the guest speakers they hosted and the speech that he gave.  Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, affectionately known as Ahok, is the Governor of Jakarta.  What makes Ahok unique is that he is the first ever Christian governor serving in Indonesia.  While there is a lot of background information that is fascinating in how he reached this position, the short version is: God has had favor on him. God has clearly honored the 20+ years of fasting and prayer that the Christian church in Indonesia has been dedicated to.  Not only is Ahok bold in his testimony, but he has proven to govern Jakarta with the wisdom and integrity that prove his faith is what guides him in governing.  He has earned a reputation for being unrelenting in fighting corruption and practical when dealing with the problems facing Jakarta.  I share this as both an encouragement and admonition.  May we rejoice and pray for our brothers in Asia.  May we be prepared for decades of fasting while being ruled by wicked. Below is an excerpt of his speech from an attendee of the event.

Speech given by Ahok:

In being in politics, my Reformed Christian faith is what influenced me. At first I did not know who Calvin was, I only knew about Pastor Stephen Tong. When I was serving as a Representative in the House Parliament in Belitung, I had plenty of opportunity to watch Stephen Tong’s sermons. I also participated in a seminar by him, there, Pastor Tong always said, “After you complete this seminar, you must all return to your own church, ok?”_ I am also not a member of the GRII church.

I read a book by Calvin in 2009, and I compared Calvin’s teachings to Pastor Tong’s, to see if pastor Tong is making stuff up or not. According to Calvin it is most difficult to serve as a public official (civil magistrate), because they are supposed to be a model in the public eye.

Initially, in my heart I did not feel encouraged to go into politics because I am a Chinese descendant in a large Chinese church that the congregation do not like and do not want to be involved in politics.

There is one Bible verse that I hold in governing:

Proverbs 29:4  (NKJV) “The king establishes the land by justice,
But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”

As a human being, I can falter, and that is why I need God at my side.

In the past, I was offered to be Governor of Babylon by way of bribes, but then my wife said “It’s up to you, do you want to be a disciple of Jesus or a disciple of Barabas?”
At the end, I did not become governor of Babylon, but I did become the Governor of Jakarta.

In 2012, actually, I wanted to return to Babylon. But God showed me His will, I felt several times God strongly showing me what I should do.   One of them when I read the book by Calvin it says, our duty is to become a showcase, showing the transformation of reformation of God to the society, showing the glory of God through our actions and Jakarta is a good showcase in Indonesia, as the capital, Jakarta is a big city, the city is right for God to display His work.

The Bible also speaks about the official task of the civil magistrate is to provide social justice for the people and not social assistance.

I agree when Pastor Tong said that the foundation of a democratic government that is true, is what John Calvin speaks about. Real democracy is applied with the foundation of the law of love and justice from God’s Word.

In the Book by Calvin, when beggars beg for money to the church, they are not given money, but they are sent to work. That is social justice, not social assistance. Social justice means self-responsibility.  People who are lacking must be helped, but we also have to remain firm.

I also once said _ “You who are poor need to realize your position” _. In the “Rusun case” (where Ahok provided government apartment housing to homeless so they don’t live in the streets – a program to clean up the city), if you are caught selling your housing to someone else, it will definitely upset me and you will be expelled from the program, we must be firm. It does not mean that if you are poor and you do not know your place, you demand and blackmail the State for assistance in the name of human rights. Point number 5 of “Pancasila” (the Indonesian Ideology) speaks about social justice, not social assistance. Social assistance will only damage people and make them unproductive.

Paul (in the Bible) also said, “He who does not work, does not eat.”
Democracy without True faith, will be anarchist and chauvinist.

There is this story about my son who was going to face an exam in high school.

I asked, “What subject is the exam tomorrow?”

My son answered, “Bahasa Indonesia” language.

“Then now, you should study Physics instead of Language,” I said.

“Papa, the exam on language, how is it you tell me to study physics?”

“If your teacher did not tell you what subject is the exam tomorrow, what would you study?”

“I will learn everything, language, physics, mathematics, etc. to be ready.”_

“If in school, we always know what the exam is tomorrow so we can prepare and can learn. You can be smart in school, yes. But because we already know what we will face during the exam. Then how can we be smart in life? Life is like an exam, the difference is, we do not know what exam God gives us tomorrow, we do not know what problems we face. Every moment of our life is a test, without knowing what subject. That is why we should be thankful we have the Bible. The Bible is what we have to hold on to prepare for “exams” in life.  That is why I read my Bible every morning, to prepare for life exams.”

Many times God has made it clear His will to me through God’s Word. Spiritual experiences can be in various forms, and each person is different. I used to struggle when finished my bachelor’s degree,  I wanted to be a pastor and further into theological school. But my dad in Belitung was very broke, I am the oldest son . I wrestled and asked the Lord if I should become a minister or a businessman. One day, while at a church youth event, on the event handout, there is a verse written:

1 Timothy 5: 8 (NKJV) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

After reading it I felt that rhema of God, I immediately decided to return to Belitung to be a businessman. I want to be a businessman whose characteristics is just like a pastor.

*Question and answer session*
Q: Why did you choose the path of political party and not the independent path?

A: I want to mention, I believe in God’s providence.

Through the independent path, if I win, I will immediately become a superhero in Indonesia. If I win this way then I will destroy all political parties. I’ll be the first man in Indonesia who could win an election without political parties. I will be a great man.  Wiranto and Surya Paloh, said to me, “If no party support you, and you win, it is  finished for all political parties.”

Politics is perception. If Ahok can not go forward because of KPU (the election committee), people would say _ “Too bad, if Ahok move forward,  we will have an advanced Jakarta.”  Pillar of our democracy is the political parties. We should correct the way of the political parties and not do away with the political parties.

My vision is in accordance with my Christian faith: my goal is the building up of people (reconstruction of society). I was struggling for this, and this time the Lord answered through President Jokowi. Mr.Jokowi really know me. When I met with him, he asked, “Have you understood the risk of not being selected if you are going through an independent path?”  I answered, “My wife and I believe, if I do not selected, it means this is the end , our task of our service to the community, we end our service honorably.” Then Mr.Jokowi answered with a very smooth, very meaningful way, “Mr. Governor,  my wife had four months of stress when I wanted to be president.”  More or less, what he is saying is, “Don’t listen to your wife in this case.”

Finally I decided to take the path of political parties, and many people were disappointed, they judge I am inconsistent. I also wrestled, like David in the Psalms, I also pray to God in my quiet times.  I said to God, “I’m embarrassed God, just yesterday I confidently said in front of the crowd that I will progress to go through independent path, but now I actually joined a political party.  People are saying I am inconsistent.” And the Lord spoke to me, God answered when I read Isaiah 60. I feel the verses were addressed to me,

Isiah 60:1-4 (NKJV)

“Arise, shine;
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.

“Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.

I told God, “I feel like I’m buying rice and is exchanged with a potato, Lord ”

But the Lord answered me Isaiah 60:17-22

“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
18 Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.

19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
20 Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
21 Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
22 A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”

I am even more firmly that it is the right thing to go through political party path. Political parties have been willing to support me with my condition and little money etc. By using this path, I just finished a peacemaker. If I use an independent path, going feud between political parties, others will blame other political parties who supported me. God also reminded me to be humble. If I go forward as a candidate by an independent path, then I have a higher position in the public eye compared to other candidates who weresubmitted from political parties. But now, if I go ahead with a political party, then my position is equal to candidates of other political parties, it is fair. God wants to remind me not to rely on my own ability. Now I do not care about people trying to tell me I was being inconsistent, etc., which I believe my purpose of running is according to my Christian faith.  God is the one guiding me.

Art Sisneros

Faux Resistance from Texas

In the wake of the recent Supreme Court rulings, I have noticed a lot of buzz about the government leaders in Texas, Governor Abbot and Attorney General Paxton.  I have heard of their courage for standing up in defiance of our overlords in Washington.  As one who has been paying attentioresistance to kingn to what happens in Austin, I do not believe this is the case, at least not yet.  Their language has changed a little (not nearly enough), but their policy has not.  The courage to defend the people of Texas against the wicked tyrant known as the Supreme Court apparently didn’t get the memo that now is the time.  Paxton’s own words right after the Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, the same sex “marriage” case, betray the rumors about Texas.  In his opinion (found here) he wrote,

The United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law..” and

“​Pursuant to the Court’s flawed ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an injunction against the enforcement of Texas marriage laws that define marriage as one man and one woman and therefore those laws currently are enjoined from being enforced by county clerks and justices of the peace. There is not, however, a court order in place in Texas to issue any particular license whatsoever – only the flawed direction by the U.S. Supreme Court on Constitutionality and applicable state laws.”

​It is clear the Attorney General believes the Court has stepped outside of the confines of the law in this case.  That should be enough for him to defy their ruling.  He doesn’t though.  The best he can do is to recommend those that may be forced to issue licenses or perform weddings to refuse on the basis of personal religious conviction.  That and get a good lawyer.

“It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious belief.”​

The proper action would have been for him to employ interposition as defined in the “lesser magistrate doctrine.”  For those unfamiliar with this doctrine I recommend Matt Trewhella’s article.  He explains,

“The lesser magistrate doctrine states that when a higher-ranking civil authority makes unjust or immoral laws, policies, or court opinions, the lower or lesser-ranking civil authority has the God-given right and duty not to obey the higher authority. If necessary, the lower authority may even actively resist the superior authority.

The interposition of the lower magistrates is not subjective or lawless. There are only three reasons for open defiance to the higher civil authority. First, they are to oppose and resist any laws or edicts from the higher authority that contravene — violate, oppose, or contradict — the law or Word of God. Second, they are to protect the person and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction from any unjust or immoral laws or actions by the higher authority. Third, they are not to implement any laws or decrees made by the higher authority that violate the U.S. Constitution or their state constitution–and if necessary, resist them.”

The recent ruling of the Supreme Court in this particular case violate every one of these principles.  The lower magistrates in Texas know it.  They are not prepared or willing to do what they ought.  As Matt plainly stated they should “refuse to implement any federal court opinion that tramples the state’s constitution and imposes homosexual marriage upon the people. Unfortunately, all of the governors who have had their state’s constitutions trampled have hidden behind the common lie of the lower authorities, namely: ‘A federal court has ruled; we must obey.”  

So where does this all leave us?  We live in a unique time in our country.  Many of the issues that the progressives and “conservative” statists have been cooperatively working on for decades are finally coming to fruition.   This has culminated into an obnoxious amount of influence that a handful of people hold over the rest of this nation.  All of this leads us to ask, how long will the people take it?  When will the people rise up?  And, what exactly can they do about it?  To be able to accurately identify when the people have reached their maximum level of allowable tyranny, we need to understand the first thing they do when they are upset.  We need to look for a marker.  They will first turn to the politicians they elected.  Some will call, some will write, and the serious ones make their way to the offices of their magistrates.  They demand to be heard and expect their rulers to change things.  We can know that enough people are starting to do this, when the language of the politicians change.  If he thinks enough people are upset enough to change politicians, his actions will match his new found language.  He will rise up with the people.

When the government leaders in Texas become lesser magistrates standing up to National Government, then we will know they mean business.  When they defiantly stand up to the rulings of the SCOTUS and nullifying laws that contradict the Texas Constitution, then all the buzz will be newsworthy.  When they start interposing on behalf of their lower magistrates and citizens, then we can know the people and their officials have had enough.  Until then it is all sound bites, press releases, and meaningless bills intended to quiet the noise.  In other words, business as usual.

Criminalization of the Creation

Monday and Tuesday of this week some friends and I went to Austin to visit the Texas Legislature while they were in session.  We had the opportunity to meet with some of the best State Representatives in Texas, get a glimpse of the behind the scenes of the Texas Supreme Court, and visit House Committee hearings.  We purposed to testify before the Public Health committee to speak on behalf of decriminalization of medical marijuana.  Unfortunately, the bill we were testifying for was bumped and didn’t get a hearing until late Tuesday evening long after we were headed home.  It was a great experience I plan to repeat often.  Below is my testimony that I never got speak.  It is intentionally short because of the 2 minutes time limit.
___MARIJUANA_2_LA-600x427_________
My name is Art Sisneros and I am speaking in favor of Texas House Bill HB837.  First I would to thank you all for allowing us the time to come and testify before this  committee.  As a citizen of this state, I appreciate the  opportunity to be a part of this process.  As I Christian, I  firmly believe that God ordains all things that happen  including allowing each of you to serve currently as state representatives in the great state of TX and particularly as members of this committee.  Being that He is the one that has put you in office, I ask you to consider the possibility that you will be held accountable to Him, even more than your constituency, for the work that you do here.
As one who bears the name of Christ, I believe we are to turn to the Bible to decide what is right and wrong, what is sinful and what is criminal.  Regarding marijuana, the Bible is clear in the creation account found in Genesis 1:12, “And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” As the Creator, He made everything for a reason and to serve a purpose.  While many people may take something that God has made declared as good and misuse it in a harmful way.  This doesn’t mean that it suddenly becomes a bad thing.  Marijuana is often used in harmful and sinful ways, but that doesn’t cancel God’s purpose for it.  It doesn’t make it bad.  To the contrary we live in a time when we have evidence of many good and proper uses for it today.  We have this plant that God has put here for us to use to help sick and hurting people, often children, but unfortunately the law prevents us from using it without taking great legal risks.  I ask, why?  What have we become that our fears drive us to setting policy that literally prevents hurting people from finding relief in a natural plant?  This doesn’t make any sense. Do we really want to be a society that makes criminals out of those that are seeking relief for themselves or their children?

 

It is in this light, that I ask you to vote in favor of moving this legislation out of this committee and to the House floor.  I ask you to do the right thing so you can stand with a clean conscience knowing that you have set aside political posturing in order allow those citizens that in this state to find relief in that which God has created for our good.  Thank you!

Tyranny in the Name of Safety

The Texas Legislature is currently in full swing. Today the Texas House voted on HB80. House Bill 80 highlights a problem that extends far beyond the text of the proposed law. HB80 is a bill that seeks to criminalize using a cell phone to “text, email, instant message, or other form of electronic data retrieval or electronic data communication” while driving.  
Texting and talking while driving
Proponents of this bill advocate for it in the name of safety. Who would be opposed to safety? I believe seeking out the safety of others is my obligation as a Christian. It is what it means to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” In fact, the theological tradition that I belong to states in our foundational catechism that our duty is to “preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes,… and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any.” This would certainly include safe driving habits like not texting or emailing while driving. The problem is that this is my personal obligation to my neighbors according to God’s Law. It is not the obligation of our civil government to criminalize unsafe actions by individuals.  
 
The purpose of our civil government is to punish legitimate crimes. Legitimate crimes require victims, not potential victims. This bill and those representatives that voted for it are making a criminal act where there is no victim. This is ​a ​slippery slope to slide down. Where will it stop? Do we next make it a crime to put on make-up while driving? What about adjusting your car radio? What about loud discussions by passengers and especially kids? There is an unending list of distractions that we could outlaw in the name of “safety.” The real problem here lies in their jurisdictional overreach. The Texas House, including my Rep. John Otto, believe they have the ability to prevent crimes from happening and thus save potential victims. They believe they can legislate safe behavior by decreeing from on high how we should think and act. This is nothing more than prideful arrogance. Bills like these reveal their ignorance or willful disobedience to their limited roles as civil magistrates.  Tyranny in the name of safety is unacceptable.
 
We should not only reject their decrees, but let them know we will no longer be silent while they seek to regulate every aspect of our lives. Our obligation to our neighbors is decreed from a much higher authority than Austin​, TX​.  They ought to pay a lot more attention to theirs from the same authority. Punish legitimate crimes with victims. Nothing more, nothing less.

Loving the Kids: School Bonds or Bondage

We have officially entered into a change of seasons.  If you are like me you can appreciate almost everything that comes with fall; from the cooler weather, to the anticipation of the holidays, or to thosebeloved November elections….hey, I said almost.  As much as I hate to admit it even the political cycle seems to return every fall.  Sadly, it doesn’t matter who wins for nothing seems to change.  After some reflection about what difference any investment of my precious time was making, I decided this year to pay closer attention to local politics.  For me, this meant focusing my attention on what was happening from Liberty to Austin, TX.  Changing Washington is beyond me and probably beyond changing outside of an act of Providence.  It is in this mindset that I recently stumbled across the wickedness of a school bond that will be on our local ballot in November.  This bond is not only fiscally ignorant, but morally evil.  Lest you think I am being too harsh in my opinion of this bond allow me to make my case.    

First we need to ask, “what exactly is a bond?” According to Wikipedia, “a bond is an instrument of indebtedness of the bond issuer to the holders. Thus a bond is a form of loan: the holder of the bond is the lender (creditor), the issuer of the bond is the borrower (debtor), and the coupon is the interest.”[1]  In short, a bond is a loan or new debt.  In this case, the bond being sought after is the school district seeking to borrow money they do not have on behalf of the citizens upon the promise of future taxation.  Allow that statement to sink in for a minute.  The fact that most school districts regularly take advantage of bond debt should not cloud our understanding to the dangerous nature of taking on new debt.  Any household, business or community that wants to financially survive would be wise to consider the full implications of taking a loan before making their decision.  A few questions to ask might include: what do we need so urgently that we must take a loan to get?  What is it going to cost us?  Do we have the ability to repay this loan?  What happens if we can’t afford to repay it?  For Dayton ISD the urgent needs include 6 lighted tennis courts, concrete parking for buses, a new auditorium, a new practice gym, and a roof for the rodeo arena, etc.[2]   This particular loan for the citizens of the small rural community of Dayton, TX is to the tune of $87 million.  Once the interest is accounted for the total debt climbs up to neighborhood of $150 million.  Apparently the “community advisors” for Dayton ISD either didn’t ask these questions or came up with answers not based in reality.   Either way, they were led to the conclusion that this was indeed a wise decision for the community to get this loan.  One has to wonder if these folks would make the same decision on a personal level if it was exclusively their money being spent.  Would they personally take a loan to pay for lighted tennis courts?  Not likely.  So why do they think this community should?  One answer they give is because of the projected future growth.  What happens in the likely scenario[3] that the projected growth doesn’t reach their expectations?  Will the debt be forgiven? No!  The taxpayers and businesses of this rural community will be faced with a financial train wreck that is unavoidable.  They’ll be forced to split the bill.                

 Aside from being an unwise decision it is also an immoral one.[4]  While the Bible does allow for debt under certain circumstances, it is always to be done God’s way.  This means following the restrictions and limitations He has put in place when taking on debt.  Taking a loan is a voluntary act of submission that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As Proverbs 22 states, “the borrower is the servant to the lender.”[5]  To voluntarily take on debt is to make oneself a servant or slave to the debt and debt holder.   Paul said to the slave “if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.”[6] The inspired Word of God is clear that when there is a choice between economic freedom or slavery we ought to choose freedom.  God never expects His people to go into debt for their desires.  Extreme debt should only to be taken on in an extreme need.  I am confident in my assertion that tennis courts do not fall into the category of extreme need, but are rather a desire.  Another limitation on debt is: it must be a voluntary act.  It can never be forced on people that don’t want it.  How anyone could think that God would be pleased with people forcing their neighbors to take a loan is beyond me.  The fact that a local pastor would advocate such a position reveals his poor understanding of scripture.  To forcibly take something from your neighbor that he is unwilling to give is theft.  It is a violation of the 8th commandment.  For any group of people to vote to take other people’s money for their own purposes is simply theft by mob.  It is disregarding Christ’s command to “love our neighbor as ourselves”[7]  Sure it may be legal, but it is against God’s law and therefore is wrong.  The legality of abortion never made it the right thing to do.  This debt is not being sought on behalf of the school board, but instead on behalf of the taxpayers and their children.  Remember our description from earlier, “the bond loan being asked is the school district borrowing money they do not have on behalf of the citizens upon the promise of future taxation.” 

What about the children?  Do we not have a moral obligation to our children?  Yes, actually we do and this bondage is not it.  The Bible states that “a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”[8]  Those that are pushing for this debt are literally leaving an inheritance of economic slavery to the kids all while doing it in the name of “for the kids.”  Shouldn’t we love our children?  Of course, but one has to ask, “what does that look like?”  Romans 13:8 says we are to “owe nothing to any man, but to love one another.”  Here is a two fold instruction.  First owe nothing (i.e; avoid debt) with the exception of love.  What is love?  The passage continues, “for he that loves another, has fulfilled the Law.”  To love is to keep God’s law in regards to your neighbor or your children.  To break God’s law by forcing debt upon them, robbing their inheritance, stealing their future income, and inheriting to them an economic slavery is anything but love.  It is in fact a wicked act.  

Will the people of this community consider this debt in light of God’s Word?  I truly hope so, but if their pastors don’t know better they probably don’t either.  We will try our best to change minds, but chances are things will remain the same until people return to God’s Word as the true source of all knowledge and wisdom.  I look forward to that season with a greater anticipation than I do towards fall.                                    


[3] 2003-2013 has shown decrease in population by 1.8 %

[4] As a Christian I base all morality on the Bible

[5] Proverbs 22:7

[6] 1 Corinthians 7:21

[7] Matthew 22:39

[8] Proverbs 13:22

Disqualified Civil Rulers

The last few months have been an awakening of sorts for me in a variety of ways. In early January, the primary election season in Texas began to kick into second gear.  It was at this point I began to become awakened to how much, dare I say it, evil was in my midst.  As a Christian, I knew I was to be a light to the world.  What was new to me, however, was the realm in which I was entering into, to shine my light.  I was venturing into the realm of politics.  Fully aware of the adage “politics is dirty”, I knew there was truth to it.  What I did not know was the source, depth, and acceptance of this “dirtiness”.  I say “dirtiness” but that actually is not the right word.  Dirt doesn’t sin.  It isn’t incompetent, dishonest or corrupt in practice.  Many of those in or seeking places of power are much worse.  They are, in fact, engaged in evil.

Lest you think I am over exaggerating, allow me to explain. Evil is, by definition, that which is immoral or wicked. In other words, evil is that which is contrary to righteousness, justice or truth. Now evil can be manifested in a variety of forms and degrees.  It can be diabolical, which leads to mass murder and such.  We immediately conjure up images in our heads of Stalin, Hitler or even millions of aborted fetuses.  This type of evil is usually obvious to spot or rather it should be.  But there is a much more subtle form of evil, the kind that masks itself under the guise of good.  This is the form employed far more frequently in my local political scene.  The corruption, lawlessness, and depravity that are seemingly on every level to one degree or another are nothing short of well… evil.  “This is politics”, you say, “of course there is corruption in politics.”  Yes, but the most surprising and offensive part of this corruption is that it is coming from the very people who claim to be “unashamed of their Christian faith” or even “the conscience” of their party, and on and on, ad nauseam.

Here are just a few examples though plenty more could be listed.

– The County Clerk requiring filings that the law does not require.  I’m not sure if it’s incompetence or otherwise, but it took under 30 minutes of research to discover the law.  Upon bringing this to the clerk’s attention, she persisted in “adding to” the law by continuing to require more than the law states.

– Republican Party Chairman intimidating my wife and kids at the polling places because she was promoting his opponent.  She was harshly warned of a supposed rule (not a violation of any law) that had been continuously broken by all the other candidates while she was complying with the rule 100%.  It was a passive aggressive intimidation move, plain and simple.

– US Senatorial Candidate and current US Representative, Steve Stockman, using manipulative polling, deceitful surveys, fake newspapers, crony endorsements, and several possible ethics violations all in his quest for another office.  This is documented here and here and here.

– A grassroots organization claiming to be the “conscience of the party” and the group standing up for “principles” decides to honor their endorsement of Rep. Stockman.  They did so even after becoming aware of his shenanigans and sleazy political schemes.  Apparently their “principles” include overlooking deception for a good old fashion back-scratching session.  After all, the ends always justify the means, right?

I know this to be the “standard operating procedures” for political campaigning, but that does not make it right.  Not only do these candidates reveal their hypocrisy, but they have actually disqualified themselves, Biblically, from the very offices they are seeking.  The Bible gives specific instructions when electing men as civil magistrates.  According to Exodus 18:21 it says you shall “look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of the thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”  Note these simple requirements carefully.

1. Able men (competence)

2. Godly men (righteous character)

3. Trustworthiness (honesty)

4. Men who hate a bribe (i.e. not for sale)

We could stop right here and have enough to condemn most of the candidates that are seeking political office. However, the Bible has much more to say about our civil rulers.  When giving a clear explanation of the purpose for civil government and its rulers[1], Paul refers to civil rulers as “a minister of God to you for good.”[2]  Civil rulers (i.e. legislators, judges, etc) are ministers.  There is an important principle here that we need to understand.  We expect a certain quality of character in our ministers.  We should expect the same in our civil rulers for they are also ministers of a different jurisdiction.  We don’t though.  We expect them to cheat, lie, steal, and everything else that is contrary to righteousness.  What we ought to expect of them are the same qualifications that the Bible expects of ministers and deacons.  We should expect them to be above reproach, temperate, prudent, respectable, dignified, not double-tongued or greedy and so forth.[3]  God has a certain standard for men that serve in this ministerial role of civil ruler, however small or large.  Notice the qualifications are focused far more on character and worldview than on pedigree or privilege.  We should do the same.

While I don’t expect any candidates to remove themselves from any races or even offices, there is one thing we can do.  We can start raising the standards on the quality of men we are willing to put in positions of power.  We can find those candidates that are qualified and offer them our support.  We can dedicate our time, money, and energies to getting these men in office.  We can and must have the courage to call out those that have disqualified themselves.  We must be willing to call evil, “evil.”  We must refuse to vote for the “lesser of two evils” just because they are our friends, in our party, or benefit us the most.  We must stop sacrificing our principles on the altar of pragmatism.

This may lead some to the all too common conclusion that “Christians shouldn’t be involved in politics.”  This is the wrong conclusion.  What we must remember is that light is far more powerful than the darkness.  Light overcomes darkness.  What we need are more brave men willing to step down into darkness in order to expose it.  We must be willing to get our hands dirty and keep our souls clean before God and men.


[1] Romans 13:1-6

[2] Romans 13:4

[3] 1 Timothy 3:1-10

Preserving Life, Obeying Law

It was several months when I first ventured out into one of the most hostile places in the country.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I generally do not go seek after confrontation.  It was, however, inevitable at this place.  It was only a matter of time before I would be challenged on everything I believe.  I knew it would not be easy.  I knew there would be some opposition to my presence.  I had no clue as to how much… or by whom.  To be honest, the only reason I was even there was due to some mixture of obligation and peer pressure.  That would change very soon. This is an issue that until recently, I confess, I hadn’t thought much about.  I am speaking of the ever polemic discussion on abortion.  There can be no better example of how one’s worldview matters than at the doors of an abortion center. (I refuse to call them clinics.)

It is to be expected in a culture that hates God for there to be a great chasm between how the unbelievers and Christians will respond to this topic.  This is no surprise.  We would expect those that have no respect for the Author of life to have very little respect for life itself.  There are plenty of these people that frequent the abortuaries around the country.  Many hate God.  They will tell you so with an evil smirk on their face.  They are not the focus of this post.  Ours is an examination of the Christian culture.  It is introspective.  How are we, as Christians, to think about this issue?  What are we to do?  More importantly, how does the Bible present the issue of abortion?  I suspect most Christians are like I was, and think very little about this issue.  Now having been involved in this ministry and discussing my experience with many professed Christians, I have noticed some common attitudes towards abortion.  Most would agree with me, in principle, that abortion is wrong.  They might even agree that abortion is murder.  However after I press the issue a bit, I am likely to get a response that will fall into one of two categories.

Exceptions

The first, and most common, response I noticed was the need to allow for exceptions.  They would always preface this with an agreement that abortion was wrong.  That would be quickly followed by a plea that “we can’t be so firm in all cases.”  It is always in the name of compassion.  The most common reason for allowing an exception is the case of rape.  It seems so uncompassionate and cold to force a rape victim to have her assailant’s child.  We, rightly, look at these women who have gone through some traumatic experience with sympathy.  We want them to heal quickly.  We want them to move past this violation that has been forced upon them.  We can’t understand how they can heal with the constant reminder of a child.  We feel compassion as to how these children will be raised.  This leads us to another common reason for allowing exceptions.  We think it is compassionate and wise to consider what kind of childhood the baby would have.  We assume that if a mother is considering an abortion, she isn’t ready to be a parent.  If she isn’t ready, what kind of mother would she make if she did have the baby? It isn’t fair for the child to grow up in a family that doesn’t want him, is it?  We think of all the cases of physical abuse, emotional abuse, poverty, etc.  We don’t want to see children live that kind of life, so we allow for exceptions in our own heart.  It is the compassionate thing to do, we think.  There is one argument for exceptions that doesn’t even have a hint of compassion.  It is the case that we should allow for exceptions because the children will probably end up dependant on the state.  Since the state can’t afford many more dependants, we need to allow for abortions to save the state and those funding it.  This is by far the most offensive reason I have heard.  Sadly, I have heard it though.

Excuses

The second type of response is generally an excuse from being involved.  These are the people that agree abortion is murder.  They know it is wrong.  This is a large majority of the Christian culture.  They know it is wrong, but it remains distant.  They remain silent.  There is no reason for them to get involved because they personally would never have an abortion.  They are against it, but it doesn’t really affect them.  They think they have done their duty when they voted for a “pro-life” candidate for political office.  They stand in support of Crisis Pregnancy Centers.  Perhaps they even send them a nice donation once a year.  They fool themselves into thinking that they are involved in the fight.  I can sympathize with this position.  Whatever the reason may be, we provide excuses from being personally involved in any significant way.  We vote Republican and assume our duty is over.  We may rationalize why we aren’t doing more, but the truth is we don’t want to do any more.

This is the sad state of our Christian culture.  We have come to a point where we are so self-centered that we just don’t care about an issue unless it invades our personal life.  We stand ready to be bold and make a statement to the world in defense of Chick-fil-A, but too busy to be bothered by the slaughtering of innocent babies.  I think it is safe to say, we have blindly wandered down the path to destruction.  We have allowed our friends, our culture and, yes, even our pastors to determine what is and what isn’t worth fighting for.  They ignore abortion and we don’t mind.  If we want to live a life blessed by God, we MUST return to the Bible.  We must return to the Law of God.  We must examine what God’s Law has to say about abortion.

Law

As it turns out, the Bible has much to say about the issue of abortion.  We will only look at four principles that can help guide us.  They should help us to start thinking more Biblically.  The 1st principle can be found in the Ten Commandments.  In Exodus 20:13, we find the sixth commandment,. “You shall not murder.”  It seems clear enough.  God is against murder.  It is wrong to murder according to His standard of righteousness and justice.  No Christian I know would advocate in favor of murder, but this only begs the question.  Is abortion murder?  Thankfully, God gives us examples on how to apply the Sixth Commandment.

 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”[1]

Here God gives a law covering the case of accidental abortion (murder).  A pregnant mother and her baby are unintentionally harmed by a man, who was in the midst of a fight.  He is held liable.  RJ Rushdoony points out several important implications of this text.  “First….the text cites, not a case of deliberate abortion but a case of accidental abortion.  If the penalty for even an accidental case is so severe, it is obvious that a deliberately induced abortion is very strongly forbidden.  Second, the penalty for even an accidental abortion is death.  If a man…unintentionally bumps a pregnant woman and causes her to abort, must suffer the death penalty, how much more so any person who intentionally induces an abortion?  Third, even if no injury results to either the mother or the fetus, the man in the case is liable to a fine and, in fact, must be fined.  Clearly, the law strongly protects the pregnant woman and her fetus.  Fourth, since even a mother bird with eggs or young is covered by law (Deut. 22:6-7), clearly any tampering with the fact of birth is a serious matter: to destroy life is forbidden except where required or permitted by God’s law.”[2]  This law makes it clear that to harm an unborn baby is an assault on the baby.  Anyone who inflicts such harm is guilty of a crime.  They must be punished in proportion to their crime.  The Bible is clear that abortion is indeed murder, for the same penalty is required for a case of accidental abortion as that for intentional murder.  Both are capital crimes.  This is the 2nd principle: abortion is murder.

Application

The first, and most obvious, application of this law is that God’s forbids us to participate in the practice of abortion.  He condemns all forms of abortion, even the accident.  The Christian who goes to get an abortion does so in rebellion to God and His Word.

The second application is that God expects His people to actively oppose abortion in their midst.  In order to understand the full weight and duty of this second application, we must understand a crucial principle for applying God’s Law.  It is the two-fold nature of the law.  “The proper meaning of the law involves both the negative and the positive application.”[3]  Where a sinful act is forbidden, the opposite righteous act is required.  For example, God not only gave laws of restriction between the Israelites, but He gave laws requiring an innocent bystander to get involved when he could render aid, even when it meant helping his enemy.

 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him.  If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”[4]

It was a sin for the Israelite to pretend he didn’t see.  He wasn’t given the authority to ignore it. God required that he actively pursue righteousness.  In short, he was obligated to help.  Jesus reiterated this with the parable of the Good Samaritan.  God’s law commands that we not only “not do the negative”, but we must also “do the opposing positive.”  This is an important truth that has been lost in our day.  Men in the past understood this.  Calvin once said that we aren’t “satisfying God’s Law by merely abstaining for doing injury to others.  The opposite affirmation is also to be understood; else it would not be… consistent.”[5]  Or as the Westminster divines put it in the Westminster Larger Catechism;

 “That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded…”[6]

It is not enough to avoid the sin of abortion.  The duty to preserve and defend life is also commanded.  This is the 4th principle.  We haven’t fulfilled our obligation to the law if haven’t done all that is in our power to protect innocent life.  Solomon in the book of Proverbs puts it this way:

 “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.  If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will He not repay man according to his work?”[7]

As one pastor notes, “We are commanded to do what is necessary and what is Biblical to “rescue” and “deliver” them from their oppressors.  If the civil government or we as citizens, stand by in apathy or fear when the defenseless are being harmed and do nothing, when we can do something, we too are guilty of breaking the 6th Commandment, being accomplices to their oppression and violence.  He Who weighs the heart and Who will render to all what is due them on Judgement Day accepts no excuses.”[8]

An understanding of these 4 principles should be enough for us to examine our hearts and see if we are closer to the culture than we are to Biblical law.

1. You shall not murder.

2. Abortion is murder.

3. The Law requires a 2-fold application, forbid the negative and commanded positive.

4. The 6th Commandment requires that we preserve life.

If we want to walk down the blessed path of obedience to God’s law, then we have to ask ourselves some tough questions.  What have we personally done to preserve life?  Why are we so silent on this issue?  Why don’t we care more about this?  How are we going to change?  I’ll close with one suggestion.  Pray about how God wants to use you to preserve life.  He does want to.  He has commanded it of us.  If we are to be blessed we must obey, even if it means being uncomfortable.

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord!” Psalm 119:1


[1] Exodus 21:22-25, ESV

[2] RJ Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p263-264

[3] Ibid,

[4] Exodus 23:4,5 ESV

[5] Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law Vol. 1, p219

[6] Westminster Larger Catechism, Q99, principle 4

[7] Proverb 24:11-12, ESV

[8] Morecraft, Authentic Christianity Vol. 4, p640-641

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