Unbridled Sexuality A Little Pedophilia Never Hurt Anyone, Right?

Where is the new sexuality heading? (Hint: What’s  the natural conclusion of postmodern ideology?)

unbounded sexuality the legacy of DarwinThe postmodern world begins its ascent onto the world scene by denying the concept of a metanarrative (an assertion which is itself a metanarrative, of course). Thus, postmodernism rejects the claims of Darwinian ideology as well as Judeo-Christian theism. The application of postmodernism in the area of human sexuality means there is no essentialism, there is no design or purpose in our sexuality; postmoderns argue we are born without sexual identity.

Postmodernism’s ideal sexuality is androgyny, literally “male and female in one.” The sexual order of creation is replaced with an indeterminate uncertainty. In the creation order, lower forms of life such as paramecium and amoebas are androgynous. Higher forms of life have greater design, complexity, and differentiation. But the modern and postmodern worldviews deny a transcendent Creator, therefore there is no transcendent order, no transcendent sexuality. Feminine or masculine nature, in this view, are merely social constructs. Many moderns reject transcendent sexuality; postmoderns take it even further, arguing that there is not even a sexuality of male and female. To move culture in this direction, the postmoderns have eliminated the language of biology—i.e. “sex”—for the socially constructed term “gender.”

Solomon observed that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Today’s “postmodernism” is the ancient pre-Christian paganism. In today’s language it is the new (neo)-paganism. In the past it was the Jews and the Christians who snatched human sexuality from pagan culture. Prior to Judeo-Christian monotheism, the world was largely animistic. Mother Nature and her creatures were worshipped.

The ethics that derived from paganism assigned little or no moral constraint to human sexuality. In fact if there was an ethic at all, it was license.  People could have multiple partners. They could engage with the same sex. Pedophilia (sex with children) was normal in some societies as was bestiality (sex with other mammals). If moderns retain any abhorrence to bestiality and pedophilia it is because of the memory of the radical nature of human sexuality – one man and one woman in a covenantal marriage – brought to the world by the Jews and the Christians. As Judeo-Christian theism becomes a distant memory in the West, human sexuality is again devolving toward pagan practices.

Postmoderns have influenced the language of sexuality. It may be fair to say they are winning the vocabulary battle. Having denied transcendent masculine and feminine, now they are trying to deny biological facts. Doctors and midwives are still delivering girls and boys, but postmoderns want to eliminate even that distinction. They deny biology and are anti-science.

As the culture devolved from the higher transcendent realities of Judeo-Christian theism to the smaller world of Darwinism, with its rejection of transcendent reality, two words have gained prominence: lesbian (L) and gay (G).

In the twilight of transcendent sexuality—i.e., love that is more than mere biology—a brand-new concept appeared—that some people are born with a propensity to sexual relations/romance with persons of their same sex. “LG” was formed and quickly became fashionable. The behavior was not new. Ancient pagan cultures practiced homosexuality … and many other behaviors that were not considered deviant in that society until the rise of the Judeo-Christian worldview. As reality took hold, the covenantal, one man-one woman marriage became the “gold standard” for human sexuality and the nature of the family. Now, something has changed; a concept of homosexuality as an identity, and the societal recognition of such, has taken root.

Pagan sexuality is the new normal

But the new normal is not merely “LG.” The new normal now taking shape is pagan sexuality.

As the modern world gave way to neo-pagan illusion, the language of “gender” replaced the language of “sex.” This opened the door to use language to determine who and what we are. “Homosexual” became “gay,” and in a stroke, a practice forbidden by human nature, by virtually all societies, and by the scriptures of both Jews and Christians, was unencumbered with judgmental overtones. In the postmodern framework of no-holds-barred, indeterminate human sexuality, gender is boundless. You may be anything you want to be, you may do anything you want to do, with full impunity.

Michel Foucault (1926-1984) is the godfather of androgyny. Foucault denied both the transcendence of Judeo-Christian theism, and the metanarrative of Darwinism. Both affirm the notion of objective truth. Monotheists worship the God from whom all objective truth derives. Evolutionists live off the memory of the Judeo-Christian worldview that the universe is ordered and rational man has the ability to discover the laws and order in the universe. Or to put this differently, evolutionary theory that life has come about from non-life by chance, leaves no room for the necessary assumptions needed for science. But Foucault goes further, denying objective truth altogether. Truth is subjective; we make truth for ourselves by the words we use. “Truth” is a social construct.

Thus, for Foucault, sexuality is elastic. In his radical work on Queer Theory, Foucault argues that one’s sexual and gender identity is a personal construct. Foucault calls the body an “inscribed surface of events” (Foucault, 1984: 83). Postmodern feminist Pippa Brush writes, “The body becomes plastic, inscribed with gender and cultural standards. … The constitution of the body rests in its inscription; the body becomes the text which is written upon it and from which it is indistinguishable ….”

Foucault floated an idea. And ideas often take root in a society. They move from the theoretical and philosophical, through culture, into institutions, such as legal codes, and then into the common life of the community. As we have written elsewhere, this shift in the legal code culminated when Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority in Planned Parenthood vs Casey (1992), stated that the fundamental principle of our liberty was “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” This phrase invented a new principle, the right of each individual to define themselves before the law.

Historically we may look at the simple flow of sexual history this way:

– In creation, God establishes the one man-one woman covenantal relationship and the children born out of this relationship as the foundation for societies.

– When human beings rebelled against God, they no longer knew who they were. In fact, they lost any sense of the creation order. As they worship pagan-animistic gods, their sexual preferences and practices changed. There were no moral boundaries on sexuality. Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pedophilia, and bestiality became the new normal.

– The Jews and later their Christian cousins re-established the biblical “gold standard” for human sexuality. They were, to use Dennis Prager’s term, “deviant from the pagan norm.” It was the Jews and the Christians that restored to the world the creation purpose of sexuality and family that tamed the passions of pagan sexuality and allowed for the development of Western culture.

– Now in the postChristian and postmodern era of Neo-Paganism, we are losing our ontological identity (of creation) for a new social-constructed identity. Gender is elastic and now boundless pagan  sexual behavior is becoming the norm again.

… to be continued

– Darrow Miller with Gary Brumbelow

  
Posted in Culture, Ethics, Family, Imago Dei, Morality | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Phoenix Christians Stand in the Gap in Love

anti-Muslim protest gave Christians opportunity to show loveLast week, a protest in front of a mosque in Phoenix made local and international news as the media reported a clash between about 250 heavily armed protesters and an equal number of counter-protesters.

A lesser reported aspect of the story is the Church’s presence in the midst of this demonstration: With fewer than 24 hours’ notice, more than 150 Christians from dozens of Phoenix-area churches assembled to form a peaceful line between the protesters and the mosque in what they called the “Love Your Neighbor Rally.”

“We wanted to demonstrate the pattern of the cross–being compelled by the love of Christ to put ourselves in harm’s way for the sake of the other (Phil 2:6-11, Col. 1:24),” says Jim Mullins, one of the leaders of this rally and a pastor at Redemption Church who has spent years building bridges between Christian and Muslim leaders in Phoenix.

The night before the protest, Jim shared a meal with the president of the mosque, asking how Christians could help keep the peace in a protest expected to spark violence. The president said he welcomed the Church at the mosque as a presence of peace; he suggested quietly standing on the sidewalk between the mosque and protesters.

Love Your Neighbor

Opposite the protesters and intermixed with people of various faiths, atheists, and even inciteful anarchists, Christians stood quietly and confidently, holding signs with Bible verses, praying aloud, handing water to people on both sides of the police line, and engaging in calm discussion about the presence of Islam in their community.

On the hottest day of the year in the desert, tempers ran high and the potential for violence was real, but self governance, the capable Phoenix Police Department, the steady presence of the Church and the omnipotent grace of God made for an event that ended quietly.

“By the end of the night, there wasn’t one shot fired, one punch thrown, or one single arrest,” says Jim. “We called on the Prince of Peace for the welfare of the city (Jer. 29:7), and he heard our prayers.”

Read the full account from Jim’s perspective here.

– Mary Kaech

Mary-KaechMary was one of the Christians who stood in harm’s way; she wrote the above account after participating in the “Love Your Neighbor” Rally.

Mary serves as the manager of communications and support systems at the Disciple Nations Alliance. Her background includes five years at Food for the Hungry in a variety of roles from field reporting and photography to accounting for U.S. government grants. Mary earned a master’s degree at Arizona State University in social and cultural pedagogy and has a particular passion for refugees–helping resettled refugees flourish in their new homes. Mary lives with her husband, Mark, in Phoenix.

  
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Gordon College: Culture Wars Arrive on the Christian Campus

For some years now, people who hold to the Judeo-Christian faith have represented a set of ideas and ideals significantly different—diametrically opposed, in fact—from those embraced by atheistic humanists. Society has labeled this conflicting vision as the “culture wars.” It has largely been a conflict between the church and secular society.

Now the culture wars are coming to the church itself in a generational conflict between the millennials and their elders.

This clash is being manifest at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. Gordon is one of the country’s leading evangelical liberal arts colleges in the country.

D_Michael_Lindsay_portraitRecently D. Michael Lindsay, the college president, was a signatory to a letter from other Christian leaders to President Barack Obama. The letter was seeking exemption for an upcoming executive order from the president barring discrimination against the LBGT community. Lindsay perceived that the order could violate the school’s freedom of religion and conscience and thus signed the letter. He grounded his argument in the “right of faith-based institutions to set and adhere to standards which derive from our shared framework of faith.”

That’s when the generational conflict began. Many Gordon students wrote a letter of protest, denouncing Lindsay’s call for a religious exemption. They suspected the college of looking for a way to discriminate against the LGBT community. They wrote, “There is a distinction between allowing for freedom in the expression of religious beliefs and allowing the practice of discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The students contended that the letter President Lindsay signed did not “accurately reflect the diverse perspectives of the individuals affiliated with and represented by the Christian leaders who signed it.”

Go here to read more on this.

This protest came in spite of the positions clearly described (and presumably agreed to by the students) in the 2014-2015 Student Handbook. Consider the following excerpts:

As a Christian community, [Gordon College] seeks to maintain itself by fostering those ideals and standards that are consistent with a Christian worldview. These ideals and standards are broadly moral; they would be characteristic of any community that was self-consciously Christian. …

Gordon College strives to maintain its identity as a Christian academic community of students, faculty and staff. The College expects that all members of the College community:

1. Call themselves Christian by virtue of the grace of God and their personal commitment to Jesus Christ

2. Recognize the Bible to be the Word of God and, hence, fully authoritative in matters of faith and conduct …

Important to an understanding of all behavioral standards is the Christian’s obligation to separate himself from worldliness (Romans 12:2, I John 2:15). “Worldliness” is a subtle issue involving uncritical conformity to the prevailing spirit of the age. One’s disposition concerning such matters as materialism, secularism, isolationism, security, success, injustice, hedonism and moral relativism must stand in perpetual review. …

The following behavioral expectations are binding on all members of the Gordon community. 1. Those acts which are expressly forbidden in Scripture, including but not limited to blasphemy, profanity, dishonesty, theft, drunkenness, sexual relations outside marriage, and homosexual practice, will not be tolerated in the lives of Gordon community members, either on or off campus.

Why this disconnect between the evangelical millennials and their parent’s generation (represented by the school’s leaders)?

Consider the findings of a recent survey, the “2014 State of Dating in America,” on the attitudes of Christian young people:

  • 61% would have sex before marriage
  • 56% approve of cohabitation
  • 59% said it doesn’t matter who is the primary family breadwinner
  • 34% said it’s OK to marry someone who isn’t a Christian

These attitudes reflect the impact of contemporary culture on Christian millennials. Many of them are shaped more by modern and post-modern culture than they are by the Bible, their family or their church.

Such attitudes actually play out in sexual behavior. According to a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 80% of self-identified evangelical millennials have had pre-marital sex.

I am convinced that people profess atheism for moral reasons, not metaphysical reasons. God has revealed himself through creation. Everywhere we look in the created order, we see the fingerprints of the Creator. Paul argues in Romans 1 that this is so clear that human beings are “without excuse.” The Greek word is anapologetos. We see the root of apologetics there, preceded by the negating prefix an. In other words, to deny God’s existence in the face of the evidence is to take a position that “cannot be defended.”

So how is it that anybody professes to be an atheist? Again, not for metaphysical reasons, but for moral reasons! People want to follow their animal instincts. They want license to do whatever they want without guilt. Such an arrangement is only possible in a universe without a moral order, a universe without God!

Atheists are atheists for moral reasons. They deny God for the sake of sexual freedom. Aldous Huxley, English philosopher, writer, and author of the classis Brave New World, is one of the few atheists with enough integrity to be transparent in this regard. In Confessions of a Professional Free-Thinker, he wrote

I had reasons not to want the world to have meaning, and as a result I assumed the world had no meaning, and I was readily able to find satisfactory grounds for this assumption … for me, as it undoubtedly was for most of my generation, the philosophy of meaninglessness was an instrument of liberation from a certain moral system. We were opposed to morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom [emphasis added].

Huxley is arguing that his generation wanted sexual freedom. A moral system would interfere with that license. To be free from a moral universe, they had to posit a world without meaning and thus a world without God. In short, it can be argued that atheists are atheists for moral reasons.

Which brings me back to the matter of evangelical-millennial support for the LGBT agenda. Why are they taking this position? Is it to justify their own sexual license? Does the postmodern mindset of sexual self-definition provide young evangelicals space for their own immorality? They dispute the moral standard of their own professed faith by supporting the LGBT lifestyle. Do they do this to rationalize their sin?

Whatever the case, millennial evangelicals are distancing themselves from the historic, Biblical understanding of covenantal marriage and the Bible’s breathtaking understanding of human sexuality. In doing so, the cultural wars have now come to the church.

  • Darrow Miller
  
Posted in Culture, Current events, Morality | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

COMPASSION: The Noun That Used to Be a Verb

RethinkingCoverFrontThree years ago we started a series of blog posts on the subject of social justice. The term was (and still is) popular among many younger Christ followers, but not everyone has a good grasp on its biblical roots.

Our posts on the subject attracted considerable attention, for which we are thankful. The upshot was the publication of Darrow’s latest book, Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion, released just last month (May 2015). It’s available from Amazon.

After reading the following post (first published in Oct 2012) you may want to order the book!

COMPASSION: The Noun That Used to Be a Verb

Compassion doesn’t mean what it used to. Not in Western cultures, at least.

One hundred fifty years ago compassion was a verb. The term meant “to compassionate, i.e., to join with in passion.”[1]  Today, compassion is a noun. It has been reduced to an emotion, a synonym for pity.

As the word changed, so did the practice. At one time, people suffered together with the poor. Today, we feel guilty and write checks.

These changes are rooted in a worldview shift, from Judeo-Christian theism to secular humanism. This is the first of a short series of posts dedicated to recovering the scriptural understanding of social justice. We will study the biblical treasure trove–in both testaments–of concepts related to compassion. (You will note that we use compassion and social justice interchangeably.)

If you follow Darrow Miller and Friends, you know the importance we place on words. We in the DNA have a love for God’s word, thus we value examining the OT Hebrew and NT Greek terms behind an English word. Because the issue of social justice is so important today it is wise to understand how the word is rooted in biblical compassion.

A study of the biblical words translated “compassion” reveals three key ideas:

First, compassion springs from the heart of God. When God first describes himself to humans, he says, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6 NIV). Without God’s intervention, the world would not know compassion, only the Darwinian animal nature of “red in tooth and claw.”

Second, compassion manifests itself in God’s steadfast love and in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Here we see Christ suffering together with us and for our salvation.

Third, compassion is to be the hallmark of God’s people. Social justice is not an afterthought of the Christian life … it is the forethought. Christians are to be unique people, participating in Christ’s suffering, drawing alongside and suffering together with the broken and bleeding in their communities by sharing their life, time, talent, and treasure.

The diagram below captures the nexus (connected series) of biblical terms translated compassion.

You will note that our English word “compassion” translates three words or word families in Hebrew and two in Greek. Of these, two OT word families have their NT equivalents (see the green and tan globes that straddle the line between NT and OT). These refer to God’s lovingkindness and God’s mercy.

These words reveal the treasure of biblical compassion. We will first consider the Old Testament concept of  חָמַל (ḥā∙mǎl) – to “treat with tenderness.” Then we will study the OT-NT couplets: first the “God of mercy” –  the Hebrew rahamîm and the Greek oiktirmos, and second “God’s loving kindness” the Hebrew hesed and the Greek eleos. Then we will turn to “the compassion of Christ” (the Greek family of words splanchnizomai) and “the suffering servants” (the Greek family of pascho.)

Our first example of the word compassion is the Hebrew word חָמַל (ḥā∙mǎl).  The word is used 45 times in the OT. One example appears in the story of Moses’ birth. Pharaoh was fearful of the growing number of Hebrew slaves. To stem the growing tide of Hebrews he ordered their midwives to kill all newborn Hebrew boys. But the midwives feared God more than they feared Pharaoh and often hid the male infants.

When Moses was born, his mother hid him for three months. She then put him in a papyrus basket and set him in the reeds along the bank of the Nile. In God’s providence, “the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it.  When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

Pharaoh’s daughter demonstrated the meaning of חָמַל (ḥā∙mǎl): “show mercy on, spare, take pity on, i.e., show kindness to one in an unfavorable, difficult, or dangerous situation, and so help or deliver in some manner; to treat with tenderness; to have compassion.”

Hā∙mǎl is an emotional response that results in action. Pharaoh’s daughter did not simply feel sorry for this Hebrew baby who had been condemned to death by her father. She acted, perhaps risking her own life to have compassion on the baby Moses. She showed mercy.

compassion modeled by Corrie Ten BoomAs did the “righteous Gentiles” who sheltered Jews in their own homes during WWII in Germany. Sometimes their compassion cost them their lives in Hitler’s concentration camps. An example of the compassion of the righteous Gentiles is found in the story of Corrie ten Boom in the book and movie The Hiding Place.

Paul Rusesanagina modeled compassionAnother, less-known example of biblical compassion is that of Paul Rusesanagina, manager of the Sabena Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda. Rusesanagina provided shelter and protection for 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees to keep them from being killed by the Interahamwe Militia ravaging Rwanda.  His story is told in the movie Hotel Rwanda.

These are examples of ḥā∙mǎl  writ large. There are millions of smaller acts of showing mercy around the world every day.

– Darrow Miller with Gary Brumbelow



[1]           Gertrude Himmelfarb, Poverty and Compassion, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1991), page 3.

 

  
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Is Social Justice About Equality or Equity?

RethinkingCoverFrontThe following post, first published in Feb 2012, is our all-time #2 most popular. The level of reader interest encouraged us to continue to write on the subject of social justice. The culmination of that process is the publication of Darrow’s latest book, Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion, just released this month (May 2015).

Read the post to see what the fuss is all about … you’ll probably want to order the book. 

 

Is Social Justice About Equality or Equity?

Is equality the proper objective in a free society? The goal of some in the social justice discussion is for people to be equal. What does this mean and what does it entail?

equality the goal of social justice?The U.S. Declaration of Independence sets the high-water mark for any civilization: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

First, note that we are equal, not because we are the same, but because we are created by God. Young or old, male or female, black or white, rich or poor, healthy or infirm, to be human is to be made in the image of God. This fact establishes that before God and our fellowman, each person has dignity and honor and is due respect from their neighbors and society. Being made in the image of God, each person has certain rights granted by God, unalienable rights – they cannot be conferred nor taken away by the state or any human being or institution. These rights include the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (and happiness is found when we live within the framework of the laws of liberty, established at the creation of the world).

But, aside from equality in dignity and worth, human beings are not born the same. The law of individuality makes it clear that every human is unique – one of a kind. In billions of snowflakes, no two are alike. So also, no two human beings are alike. Even identical twins are not truly identical.

Some people were made to play basketball. I can hardly dribble. Some have been born to sing opera; I only sing in the shower. We are tall and short, male and female, brown and black, gifted in languages, math, science, music and the arts, sports and oratory. From a myriad of possibilities, each person is made one of a kind. God loves diversity.

Human beings are equal and diverse at the same time. Human beings, like the Godhead, have unity without uniformity and diversity without superiority.

Equality and equity are very different.

Equity assumes the diverse, unique individuality of each person. While people are different, they are to be treated equally before the law; they are treated fairly. The uniqueness or diversity of people is a cause for celebration, not discrimination. Equity means equal rights and responsibilities and equality before the law, for all citizens. This is a product of freedom.  The goal is equity among diverse peoples.

Equality, in contrast, assumes sameness, uniformity, interchangeability. Some advocate for an equal starting place – a level playing field for every citizen;  others argue for equal outcomes – everyone has the same in the end. The uniqueness of individuals is often despised. The goal of equality is to make diverse people all the same.

It’s easy to see the absurdity of this philosophy. Equality means I should be put on the starting lineup of the Los Angeles Lakers. And, at the end of the season, my team should have the same win-loss record as all the other teams in the league.

Equality, pushed to its natural conclusion, would divide an insulin dose equally between a healthy child and the diabetic child. Equity, on the other hand, gives the diabetic child all the insulin.

Social justice seeks equity, not equality

Because people are born unique, there will always be diverse starting places and outcomes. The only alternative is tyranny, as C.S. Lewis imagines a demon’s instruction in Screwtape Proposes a Toast:

The moral is plain.  Allow no preeminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser or better or more famous or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level: all slaves, all ciphers, and all nobodies. All equals.

This was the outcome of the Communist experiment in the Soviet Union and China and the direction of all utopian experiments. People dressed the same, acted the same, and thought the same under penalty of death for any deviation.

Equity seeks fairness for diverse people, equality seeks numerically equal outcomes for different people. Equality, in the sense of similar outcomes, contradicts the basic concept of individuality and human uniqueness. All humans equal before the law leads to freedom, while material equality of outcome promotes tyranny.

Social justice as God intended seeks equity, not equality, for her citizens.

–          Darrow Miller


  
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Sisi: the Man of Peace for Islam?

Egyptian President Sisi

“Abdel Fattah el-Sisi” by Kremlin.ru.

Earlier this year we wrote about the hope that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi may be a man of peace. That idea was based on a couple of historical developments:

  • On New Year’s Day 2015, Sisi spoke at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered the world’s leading center for Islamic studies. He was addressing religious scholars celebrating the birthday of the prophet Mohammed. His words were a rousing call for the reformation of Islam. (For example, “It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing, and destruction for the rest of the world.”)
  • Then on January 8th, Christmas Day in the Coptic Church, Sisi made a surprise visit to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral—the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope. Before the church and its pope, Tawadros II, Sisi brought greetings during the Christmas Eve Mass. This act was unprecedented in modern Egyptian history.

Now it appears President Sisi is following his words with deeds. On April 22, Jamie Dettmer wrote an article for Voice of America titled “Egypt Reforms School Textbooks to Counter Extremism.”

Egypt’s Ministry of Education is removing from primary and secondary school curricula some religious texts and passages on historical Islamic figures including Saladin, the 12th century Muslim ruler who confronted the Crusaders and is widely viewed as an iconic hero in the Arab world.

The changes to primary and secondary school curricula, being touted by government ministers as a bid to counter radical Islamic ideologies, is provoking the ire of Islamists in the country … .

But the country’s education ministry says, “Some of the material was inciting violence and was first entered into the curriculum during the Muslim Brotherhood’s era.” Officials say the censoring of material used to encourage violence is part of a larger ideological battle the government is determined to wage against Islamic extremism.

Sisi is building on what happened in Tahrir Square

“Tahrir Square – February 9, 2011″ by Jonathan Rashad

Four-and-one-half years ago, some young Egyptians initiated the Egyptian version of the Arab Spring in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. They were a new generation of youth who longed for freedom, longed to express themselves openly. Their cry for freedom did not turn out as they had hoped; it was hijacked by the militant Muslim Brotherhood. But perhaps President Sisi and his Cabinet leaders will succeed where the students failed. Perhaps these changes will lead to a more liberal and pluralistic society.

Let us pray for Egypt, for President Sisi, and for the men and women of that nation who long to live free.

  • Darrow Miller

Related posts:

Can A Military Dictator Be A Man of Peace?

Culture and Religion: Can a Christian Worship Jesus in the Mosque?

What Do Martin Luther and the Arab Spring Have in Common?

  
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Women Made the Transformation Possible

Earlier we have written about the Mennonites of Paraguay’s Gran Chaco. Here’s another part of this mostly untold, remarkable story: the work of the women.

women among Mennonites made Gran Chaco transformation possibleThe unlikely success of this community of immigrants, their transformation of that hostile land, was made possible by the women. Often they were not honored or respected as their humanity deserved. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the transformation of the Chaco would have failed had it been left to the men only.

The Mennonites came as refugees to this most desolate land in Paraguay. But, like the Hebrews who escaped slavery in Egypt, they came with a God-given vision to live as free people in their land of promise. The men and the women shared the vision for the land; they shared responsibility for the fulfillment of that vision as well.

In any society the family is the fundamental institution. This was no less so among the Mennonite colonies. Any pioneering effort includes immense hardships; the women were the glue that kept the families together and on track.

Part of the contribution was their work to maintain the community’s unique cultural and religious identity. It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, given the hostility of the environment and the lack of physical resources, for a modern-day narcissist to succeed in bringing flourishing to such a waste land. But the wives, mothers and grandmothers helped. They conveyed the cultural stories of this unique people. They called their children to be faithful to the God who had, for so many generations, been faithful to the followers of Menno Simon. Theirs was a unique tradition, rooted in “the radical wing” of the Reformation.

In addition to their culture-keeping role, the women were involved in every aspect of the pioneering life. It was women who did the lion’s share of home construction. They made the bricks that became the walls of their houses. They plastered those walls and put on the roofs.

The women also played a major role in food production. They worked in the fields, planting, cultivating and harvesting the life-giving crops that would sustain them through the winter and help provide whatever limited cash the family had. They were responsible for the summer vegetable gardens that provided the much-needed nutrition to keep the hardworking community alive.

In addition to building, planting and harvesting, each wife and mother had the primary responsibility to steward her household. It was her task to prepare the meals and allocate the limited food supply so the family could survive the long winter between harvests. In these pioneering days of toil, sickness and death, often the only food remaining by the end of winter were some beans, flour, and the occasional egg for protein.

In addition, there was no “maternity leave” when the baby was born. The Mennonite women continued to work through their pregnancy and while nursing their babies.

Alongside their husbands the women suffered greatly from the hard work and harshness of the conditions. And often the women carried an additional burden: the domineering attitudes and unjust treatment of the men in the community. This pioneer suffering built a quality into the women of the colonies that allowed the families and communities to survive and eventually prosper. Edgar Stoesz writes that “… it was the quiet, behind-the-scene strength of women that made life in the colonies possible.”

These families, refugees of war and oppression in their home countries, were pioneers in a new and strange land. They were frontiersmen and women, trailblazers in a new and harsh environment that none of them had ever experienced. It was a joint responsibility, female and male, to fulfill the cultural mandate and their God-given vision to turn a waste land into a garden.

In a lonely and trying existence, the women proved resourceful and courageous

Besides the mothers and grandmothers, another group of women contributed to the heritage of the colonies: single women, both unmarried and widows. As an example, in 1947, 950 women and 444 men arrived in the colonies. What would be the experience of these women who came without husbands?

While for many it was a lonely and trying existence, the women proved resourceful and courageous. They formed women’s villages where they proved both self-sufficient and collaborative, supporting each other as females naturally do. They worked together to survive and contribute to the growth of the larger communities.

As the colonies achieved self-sufficiency, with all the services needed to operate, many women left their homes to receive training outside the community and then returned with their newly gained skills as healthcare professionals, teachers, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the colonies and in the church.

Edgar Stoesz honestly summarizes the impact of women in the Mennonite colonies: “Women had an indispensable if under-recognized role in this rich history. By today’s standards, pioneer women were terribly restricted, but they were loved and appreciated.”

This is not a man’s world, it is not a woman’s world, it is God’s world. He delegated responsibility for governance of the world to imago Dei humans, both male and female. He tasked both female and male with the purpose of helping all of creation thrive and flourish – including, or especially, human life.

Neither can do this alone. This is a “together” task. To succeed, men and women must value one another’s God-given dignity, protect one another in every way, and support the special gifts and unique contribution of their counterpart. When this happens in community, a slice of heaven on earth is not only possible but realizable.

However, it is too easy for men to be thoughtless, to disregard the God-given dignity and worth of their female counterparts. For the women of the Mennonite Colonies this was too often the case. But it is safe to say that the contribution of women allowed the colonies to survive and thrive. Perhaps today they are receiving the recognition they are due.

  • Darrow Miller

Related posts:

 

  
Posted in Cultural Mandate, Development, Economic Development, Women | Leave a comment

Why is the US Government Exporting Sexual Identity Politics?

sexual identity exported by USWe’ve written here before on sexual colonialism, the advancement of a libertine sexual ethic by the United States on nations around the world.

Our good friend Bob Osburn of The Wilberforce Academy just posted on this as well:

Every time I travel internationally (as I did recently to Northeast India), I’m also alerted to how others perceive US foreign policy.  To see our government through others’ eyes does not contradict my patriotism as a US citizen, but makes me much more aware of how our policies can be perceived to harm or help others.

For example, one very troubling issue in US foreign policy concerns our State Department’s aggressive advocacy of the rights of gays and lesbians.  Without question, homosexuals deserve fair and just treatment as fellow image-bearers of God.  But US government policy, especially in view of the current administration’s open advocacy of same-sex marriage in the US, alienates and offends those abroad who may otherwise share our national commitments.  Through their eyes, our call for treating homosexuals with dignity is a call to welcome immoral behavior and gay marriage. (Read Bob’s entire article.)

Bob links to a February 23, 2015 press statement from Secretary of State John Kerry in which he says:  “Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally.”

At the core?

I’m quite sure most Americans don’t realize that their government has made the promotion of a secular, libertine sexual ethic so central to its mission globally. Bob is exactly right. While leaders in our government may frame this as “defending and promoting basic human rights,” those in the receiving side of these policies in other nations often  see it as a form of sexual colonialism—the imposition of a Western, secularized understanding of sexual identity on their societies.

– Scott Allen

  
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Can We Say No? Are We Still Free?

Just Say No

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Remember the “Just Say No” campaign? It was First Lady Nancy Reagan’s project in the 80s and 90s to “discourage children from engaging in illegal recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying no. Eventually, the scope of the campaign expanded to cover violence and premarital sex as well as drug use.”

Mrs. Reagan’s campaign encouraged children to say No. Twenty years later, the current situation begs a question: Can we still say No?

Here’s a corresponding question: Are we still free?  Those two questions are closely related: the ability to say No marks the bounds of our liberty.

At the creation God made us free moral agents. That freedom meant the ability to say No, even to God! We were given the power, as imago Dei humans, to make real moral choices and, as a corollary, to take responsibility for those choices. Alas, our representative head in Eden invoked the ability and said No to God himself. And with that act, evil entered the world.

Of course in one sense we lost our freedom with that act of rebellion. In the fall, enslavement became our default. If we do not say No to our sinful impulses—lust, greed, hatred, revenge, pornography, drugs, idolatry—we become enslaved to those thoughts and behaviors. Only when we say No to our appetites are we free.

British statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) wisely said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites …. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere … . It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

We have written before on the importance of saying “No” to evil and the promotion of evil in civil society. We need to say No to our own personal vices, we need to say No to the culture, and sometimes we need to say No to a corrupt government. The Christian’s arsenal for engaging in cultures of corruption and injustice includes civil disobedience.

In these days there is a fierce attempt to eliminate our freedom to say No. And if we can no longer say No, we will no longer be free.

Author and political commentator Tony Katz, writing for the online forum Townhall, calls our attention to the movement in America to eliminate our freedom to say No. In his provocative piece on RFRA he writes:

“You cannot say “No” in America.

The act of saying, “No” – No, I can’t make that cake for you. It goes against my religious beliefs. No, I can’t take those photographs. I don’t feel comfortable doing that. No, I can’t provide you service X,Y, or Z because I disagree with it – is no longer allowed in America….

The ability to say “No” is the difference between a free person and a slave. Slavery offers no chance for choice, and no ability to make decisions. Being told what to think – under direct threat of violence – is slavery. Can there be any doubt?

If a person is unable to say “No,” how, then, are they free?”

May we be people who think independently!  May we be people who say Yes to that which is good, true and beautiful. And may we be citizens who exercise our God-given freedom.

Let us say No to those things that enslave us personally and those things that enslave our culture. As the apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

  • Darrow Miller and Gary Brumbelow
  
Posted in Culture, Current events, Freedom | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

FGM: Coming to a Community Near You?

“Women have no need for their genitalia …” “…unless you are a whore.”

Those words were allegedly found in a pamphlet promoting sharia law in Britain. The article making the allegation, with this stark announcement, was sent to me by a friend named Ana who works in Southern Europe with trafficked women from North Africa. She knows firsthand the plight of abused women.

A global war is underway against women. It is rooted in various forms of sexist culture. One front of this war is the murder of 200,000,000 women. These females have been killed—before birth, at birth and during life—simply because they were female. We have written about this here and here. Another front of this war is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

FGM map

Globally 125,000,000 girls and and young women, mostly from 30 countries in North Africa and the Middle East where female circumcision is prevalent, have suffered this degrading, life-altering and life-threatening procedure. And as people emigrate from these areas to other parts of the world, the practice is seeded globally. The practice is growing in Britain, in Europe, and has begun to enter the United States.

FGM is growing in Britain and Europe and entering the US

While there are four basic categories of FGM, generally speaking it involves the removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy) and is often followed by the sewing up of the vulva in such a way as to prevent intercourse without disturbing the flow of urine and menstrual blood. This is seldom, if ever, done for medical purposes. Most often this hideous surgery is done in primitive conditions, using razor blades, common knives or broken glass.

Aissa, now a midwife working in London, tells the story of the day when she was six years old and her baby sister was one. They, along with many other young girls, were circumcised in her native country of Mali, West Africa. She writes of the experience: “After the pain, it was screaming that I’ll never forget. It wasn’t just mine and my sister’s screams, there were so many other girls there- all being cut. I’ve never heard screams like that again, and I don’t think I ever will.”

For more on Aissa’s experience read the article sent by my friend Ana.

FGM is a manifestation of sexist culture where men consider themselves superior to women. The imposition of FGM, though usually performed by women, is overseen by the shadowed presence of the “superior male.” Most are performed on children, girls from infancy to 15 years old. There is no health/medical necessity for this procedure; it is purely cultural. At its root are cultural practices that predate Islam.

FGM ratesBut the prevalence of FGM occurs in predominantly Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East. While not necessarily rooted in the Quran, it is practiced and sanctioned in Muslim countries. The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law “Umdat al-Salik” by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (1302–1367) seems to offer sanction for the practice among devoted Muslims: “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris (this is called Hufaad).”

FGM is largely a cultural practice and thus justified as tradition: “Everyone does it!” It is considered necessary preparation for a young girl to become a “good woman,” ready to marry and have children. The removal of the clitoris is said to reduce the woman’s desire for sex, to inhibit sexual pleasure, and thus increase the chances that she will arrive at her wedding bed as a virgin. In some cases the clitorectomy is accompanied by sewing up the vulva in such a way as to prevent intercourse before marriage. In many cultures, the clitoris is considered “unclean” and “male.” For a woman to be “clean” and “beautiful” for her husband, the offensive body part must be cut off.

As refugee and immigrant populations come to Europe, England and the United States, they are bringing their practice of FGM with them.

FGM was outlawed in Great Britain in 1985, but not a single case has been prosecuted

In Britain, FGM is growing, as are efforts to enforce sharia law, from ethnic communities outwards. It is estimated that 66,000 girls have been mutilated in Britain. In one London hospital, 4,000 girls and women have been hospitalized since 2009 as a result of FGM. The real figures for FGM are not known because the tight communities where the crime is practiced keep it under cover. Currently FGM is practiced in larger British cities that have large ethnic communities of refugees and first-generation immigrants from cultures that practice FGM.

In 1985, a law was passed in Great Britain outlawing FGM and preventing British residents and citizens from traveling to a country where FGM is legal to have their daughters circumcised. Not one case of FGM has been prosecuted.

How can this be? Where are the national leaders who should be speaking out against this? Where are the religious leaders advocating for the recognition of the dignity of women? Why are leaders  not confronting this issue with the attention it demands? Could it possibly be that they are afraid to speak? Could it be that their consciences have been silenced by the fear of violence from radical Muslims and the pressure of cultural relativism, yes, even hatred exhibited by fundamentalist atheists? Have they walked into the same trap as the city council and police in Rotherham, where 1,400 girls as young as 11 were gang raped and groomed for being sold as wives to Muslim men by Muslim men?

A global war against women rages. It manifests itself in unspeakable gendercide, FGM, and sex trafficking, as well as “simpler” forms of violence and intimidation against women. When will it stop? Where are those willing to stand up on behalf of women in their communities and wherever FGM exists in the world?

Let us be the generation that take the motto “never again” seriously.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of the hope of the resurrection, we have no need to fear death. So let us live with courage! Let us be willing to pay a price to stand up for the rights of the innocent and against the evil that presses ever more tightly against our lives and culture.

  • Darrow Miller

See these posts:

Gendercide: The War on Baby Girls

On My Birth There Was No Singing: Gendercide in India

One Courageous Response to Gendercide – The War Against Females, Part 1 of 2

One Courageous Response to Gendercide – The War Against Females, Part 2 of 2

 

 

 

  
Posted in Current events, Islam, Women | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment