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Random Acts of Violence: Is There a Culprit Being Ignored?

11 Jun


Yesterday marked another tragic day in a recent string of violent homicides in America. A student shot and killed his 14-year-old classmate at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, before taking his own life. This event comes on the heels of a violent killing in Las Vegas Sunday, a school shooting in Seattle last Thursday, the deadly attack in Isla Vista a few weeks ago, and, hitting close to home, the killing of a Norfolk Christian student and a police officer in Norfolk on Friday, May 30.

The taking of a life is always a tragedy, but what makes these killings so perplexing and devastating to us is the seemingly random nature of the crimes. In many of these recent cases, the killers seem to have no real connection to their victims. They are senseless, unprovoked random acts of violence, and innocent people are losing their lives.

What’s going on? Is our country becoming a more violent place? And what’s the solution? Do we homeschool our kids, or maybe send them to school with bulletproof backpacks? How do we fight against a random enemy who might be anyone, anywhere?

For those who believe in the 2nd Amendment, maybe we’re thinking we should give up the fight. Everyone seems to be pointing at the guns as the problem. In a discussion on Tumblr this Tuesday, President Obama again referenced guns as the problem in these shootings, saying,

“My biggest frustration is that this society hasn’t been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do damage. We’re the only developed country where this happens. And it happens weekly. Our levels of gun violence are off the charts.”

Maybe he’s right. Weary from hearing story after story of horrific violence in our country, I can practically see the weight of inaction on this issue pressing heavily on the shoulders of the family and loved ones of the victims. It’s happened again, and again, and again. Why can’t we stop it? What are we doing wrong? Perhaps he’s right, I think to myself this morning as I am hit with the news of yet another killing. Maybe we should round up the guns. Nothing else connects these random killers to one another besides their access to firearms, right?

But that’s not true at all, is it? There’s something amiss in this assessment, particularly because not all mass murders are committed with guns. In fact, between 2007 and 2011, far more people were murdered with knives or other cutting instruments than were murdered with guns. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that the cities with the most gun violence in America are actually the ones with the most stringent gun control laws (case study: Chicago). And that mass shootings most often occur in places that are “gun-free” zones or have incredibly strict gun control laws.

It’s not the guns. Despite the fact that gun sales have been on the rise in recent years, homicides and violent crimes at the hands of guns have significantly lowered. What does seem to be on the rise, though, are these random acts of violence and murder and their consequential coverage by the media. We hear little to no news of deadly crimes that occur in Chicago on a daily basis, but when there is a random killing in a school or a pizza parlor, we are inundated with the details over and over. And then everyone flocks back to the gun control argument and we find ourselves in a cyclical pattern of being angry at the unfairness of it all and frustrated at our inability to offer any real solutions.

How about we try this on for size? Tons of acts of violence in America, many of them totally random, have been committed by people who were on antidepressants or other psychotropic prescription medications. Columbine shooter Eric Harris was taking the antidepressant Luvox. The manufacturer of this drug has even admitted that during the clinical trials, one in 25 children and youth taking the medication experienced mania, “a dangerous and violence-prone mental derangement characterized by extreme excitement and delusion.” Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children in 2001 while taking Effexor, another antidepressant. Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 was taking Prozac. Adam Lanza, who murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, was on Fanapt, an anti-psychotic that was initially rejected by the FDA.

Think about it. These drugs are prescribed to alter the state of a person’s mind. And although they might “work” by making some people feel less depressed, most are labeled with a warning that side effects can cause violent or suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Since 1988, America has experienced a 400% increase in antidepressant prescribing. One in 12 Americans is now on an antidepressant. And regardless of the fact that with 30,000 Americans overdosing on prescription drugs in 2010, it became the No. 1 cause of accidental death, prescriptions continue to be doled out like candy.

And yet, no alarm bells are sounding in the direction of the pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable business in the country, bringing in billions of dollars each year by prescribing their drugs. Antipsychotics take in over $14 billion annually, making them the top-selling therapeutic prescription drugs. And also the ones with the most potential to alter a person’s state of mind in a very dangerous way.

Reports of the backgrounds of the killers in these most recent events are beginning to emerge, and the trend has tragically continued. Aaron Ybarra, who killed a Seattle Pacific University student, was being prescribed Prozac and Risperdal. It is also being reported that Elliot Rodger, the Isla Vista mass murderer, was very likely on a long track of prescription drugs throughout his childhood.

Yet we continue to shout “Guns!” And when we’re done blaming guns we talk about our inability to treat mental illness—and in a sense, we’re closer to the heart of the issue when we make this argument. But it’s not that we’re ignoring the mentally ill. It’s that we’re throwing pills at anyone who expresses any hint of abnormality—pills that are altering their minds in potentially dangerous ways—instead of actually treating them. We’re looking at a gaping wound that so obviously requires a tourniquet and instead slapping on a band-aid. A very expensive band-aid from which we are reaping an enormous profit. And then we look on like a bunch of sheep as more people die. And we shout “Guns!”

Rambling of the Day: Why Phil Robertson deserves his suspension from A&E

20 Dec

Phil Robertson

I really was going to stay away from this topic, as I don’t even watch or care about “Duck Dynasty,” but as usual, I have an opinion burning a hole in my brain so here goes.

Here’s one of the statements that’s gotten Phil Robertson, the no-nonsense, self-proclaimed Bible-thumping star of “Duck Dynasty,” into trouble with A&E:

“‘Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,’ he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: ‘Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.’” Phil Robertson, quoted by Drew Magary, GQ Magazine

Alright, alright, let’s all settle back down into our seats and take a deep breath. I’ve done the article about how Christians need to change their mindsets about gay people, and you can read that here if you’d like, so I’m not going to reiterate all that information here. I’m just going to look at this at first from A&E’s perspective as a for-profit business, and then from the viewpoint of a Christian looking at this situation from the outside (as I said, I’m not a fan of the show nor do I know anything about the stars beyond what I read in mainstream news).

The statement released by A&E Wednesday says, “His [Robertson’s] personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supports and champions of the LGBT community.”

Honestly… I don’t see why people are surprised or somehow offended by A&E’s decision. It’s their network, their image and their reputation that’s at stake if they continue to have an affiliation with someone who expresses “anti-gay” sentiments (whether Robertson’s statements are actually anti-gay or just the ranting of someone too ignorant or thoughtless to know better is left up to interpretation).

If A&E has a legitimate issue with the things said by Robertson, then they have every right to suspend him from the show on their network. Because of the show’s popularity, it’s not like this is some kind of profit-making move on their part. They’ll probably lose a good amount of viewers to outrage over the decision. However, it’s their choice to make as a network, and therefore there’s really no good reason to be incensed by their choice. (And really, if you think this guy’s career is over just because one network suspended him, get real. This show is hugely popular and someone else is bound to scoop him up.)

I’ve heard a lot of chatter about how this is all an infringement on freedom of expression, but I find that ridiculous. Robertson is free to make any kind of comments he wants, unless they directly affect national security or the welfare of society. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real-world consequences for publicly expressing a controversial opinion when you are employed by a company that doesn’t want to be affiliated with that opinion.

So for example, I work for a magazine that is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious organization. They do their best to appeal to everyone regardless of their religious beliefs. So if for some reason I decided to go on a rant about how horrible Jewish people are, and for some reason I decided to do this very openly in a publication I knew my employers at the magazine were sure to read, it is very likely I would lose my job over it. Oh, and I would deserve it. Because it doesn’t matter if I hate Jewish people (I don’t, by the way. This is an example.). Just because I have that opinion doesn’t mean that expressing it publicly—especially in a purposely degrading and lewd manner—isn’t going to cost me my career. It would, and there’s nothing about that fact that infringes upon my freedom of speech. Just because you have the right to say something does not mean that you should. You have to have the discretion to know when you’re crossing a line that might interfere with your professional life.

Moving beyond the freedom of speech argument though—the comments Robertson made are not exactly the shining beacon of Christian love and principle that some people are insinuating they are. The problem is not necessarily that Robertson believes homosexuality is a sin (read that other blog post if you want to read my opinion on that), but it’s the way in which he addresses it that I take issue with.

First of all, Robertson is not a psychologist. He has no evidence whatsoever that homosexuality “morphs out” into things like beastiality and sleeping around with tons of people. And even if he were a psychologist, that evidence does not exist. Being gay doesn’t inherently make you a slut, just as being straight doesn’t inherently make you a devoted partner (I think the divorce rate in this country can attest to that flawed logic). It’s insulting, cruel and just purely ignorant to say this of people who Robertson claims, in later statements, to love and not judge.

Another statement Robertson makes in the GQ story is this:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Oh, okay, so homosexuality is not “logical.” I don’t suppose Robertson would see anything “illogical” about his heterosexual orientation. That’s right, he wouldn’t, because that’s something that’s ingrained within him, so strongly it may as well be DNA. He feels so strongly that heterosexual sex is the only way to go that it’s like second nature to him. Congratulations, Mr. Robertson, you’ve found the secret to human sexuality—it’s second nature, it’s a vital essence of who we are, it’s so much of our identity that we can’t be separated from it. So how do you think a gay person feels when you say that his instinct not to have heterosexual relationships is “illogical”? Probably like he’s somehow less than human than you are. This is why that old ridiculous “love the sinner, hate the sin” adage has just become an eye-roller to the gay community. They don’t want or need that pity-inducing sentiment. And the idea that Robertson can go from making that degrading and unfounded assumption and then go on to say “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me” is totally hypocritical.

Now, I’m going to let up on Robertson for a minute here to say that I don’t know what’s in his heart. Maybe he just had a moment and didn’t think about the implications of what he was actually saying and how hurtful his words would be to the gay community. And perhaps he really isn’t a judgmental person (although it’s hard to believe considering what he said). But even if he’s actually a great Christian guy, making statements like these that come off as purposely demeaning to gays and in no way show the love of Jesus only does a disservice to the Christian community.

Christians get enough of a hard time that we don’t need people claiming ridiculous things in the name of our Creator that, very simply, Jesus would never have said. Disagree with me? Come on now. Quite frankly, Jesus was never sarcastic, degrading or cruel when he spoke to the broken people he chose as his followers, nor was he condescending to the hurting people who came to him for healing. He would never have said, “Hey, why do you like ass? Vagina is better.” No—Jesus stared in the face of Pharisees who tried to call him out for eating with “tax collectors and sinners,” telling them, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Rambling of the Day: Babes in gangland

28 Aug

Here’s the headline that bit me in the butt this morning: Kids brave gangland as Chicago budget cuts redraw route to school. Holy cow. So if you haven’t been paying attention, the word is Chicago is broke and had to close 50 elementary schools and lay off 2,000 teachers last month. The result is that the kids from those schools have to attend different schools this year, many of which are blocks away with walking routes that cut through multiple gang territories.

“Most of Chicago’s cuts have taken place in the predominantly poor, African-American and Latino south and west sides, which is also where the majority of the city’s record 506 murders occurred last year.” Neil Munshi, Financial Times.

So… reading this, I instantly had three big questions come to mind. 1) Why is Chicago so broke? 2) Why is Chicago so dangerous and violent? 3) HOW in the bleepity bleep bleep is hiring a bunch of citizen sentries along so-called “Safe Passage” routes going to keep kids safe?!

So why is Chicago broke? That’s pretty simple: The state of Illinois has basically been run entirely by Democrats since 2003. That’s 10 years of unrelenting progressive abuse. Like they have in Detroit, progressive policies, including an insane amount of welfare programs and unfunded union and government pensions, have left the state devastated. So why do the same people keep get elected to run Chicago? Well, according to NBC Chicago, “Illinois’ GOP has become irrelevant because of its association with the national Republican brand: white and rural, with a desire to bring religion into public life, and a belief that the government has no business telling people how many guns they can own.” Oh, yeah right. It’s amazing how much trouble conservatives get into when they try to stereotype the left, but liberals can call us Bible-thumping, gun-wielding hicks any time and it’s acceptable. Regardless, the fact that Republicans in Illinois are white and religious has nothing to do with them losing elections in the state. That’s nonsense invented to distract people from the truth: that conservatives don’t support the growth and expansion of entitlement programs and other rubbish that keep the impoverished slums of Chicago from ever improving. The same policies that sent Detroit into bankruptcy – despite massive government assistance, including the auto bailout – are plummeting Chicago’s economy to certain ruin.

Why is it so dangerous to live in Chicago? Also a fairly simple answer: Chicago is a war zone. It isn’t just any ordinary war zone, however. It’s one in which the good guys are unarmed.

“Illinois remains the only state in the country where nobody can legally carry a concealed weapon…” Charlie Vidal, policymic.

Chicago has 59 gangs divided up into 625 factions with 125,000 members. Go here to see a map of the gang territories in respect to where schools are located. It is thoroughly disturbing.

Between the unbelievable number of gang members and the drug war that includes ties to a Mexican cartel, essentially the only armed people in Chicago are criminals and police officers. If you go through a complicated process, you can legally keep a gun in your home. However, only three percent of Chicagoans who own a firearm have even completed the city’s required firearm registration. Regardless, it is unlawful for the citizens of Chicago to arm themselves on their war-torn streets. The result is that the dangerous criminals of Chicago have a monopoly on illegal weapons, and, tragically, that Chicago is now the deadliest city in America.

So we have the deadliest city in America closing 50 of its elementary schools, many of which are in the poorest, most gang-ridden and violent areas, and what is the benevolent mayor’s solution? “Safe passage” – routes to the schools manned by adults armed with, what was that again? Oh yeah, walkie talkies. For many families affected by school closings, they will be sending their children through one or more gang territories to reach their destinations. Two people were already shot along the safe passage routes the day before school began. One was a 14-year-old boy who was within a block of an elementary school.

My assessment? Chicago is run by idiots, particularly that idiot Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Emanuel, if your kids had to walk through gang territories to get to their elementary schools, would you still be gung-ho on “Safe Passage?” Would it be good enough that the adults “supervising” their passage were armed only with walkie talkies?

Chicago needs to grow some balls. Get rid of the outrageous pensions that are sucking the economy dry. Make it harder to sit pretty on welfare. Make it better to work than to get a handout. Put the lives of children ahead of stupid policy ideals like gun control. The only guns being controlled are the ones sitting in people’s homes, not being used to save lives. I want our country to look at Chicago, our own personal third world within a first world, and DO SOMETHING about it. Stop focusing on Egypt and Syria. Yes, their problems are bad, but we need to clean up our own damn house before we start interfering with other people’s problems. Obama’s drawn a red line for Syria, but where’s his red line for his own hometown?! Mr. Obama, you are so devastated by the death of one black teenager in the suburbs of Florida, but what about the deaths of countless of innocents in your old stomping grounds? Why aren’t you outraged about that?

Rambling of the Day: In defense of the defenseless

7 Jun

Excuse my hiatus, followers. I have been insanely busy with, well – life, pretty much, so I’ve barely had any time to do anything I want to do. I have had so much I’ve wanted to write about recently, so expect a lot of rambling ahead!

When the story about Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor found guilty of infanticide and murder in Philadelphia, I wanted to do a post about it. Then when another one was charged in Texas I was going to do one about both of them. And I really, really wanted to do one when they found that Chinese baby alive in a drain pipe the other week. But now that all of these things have passed, I think I have the perfect opportunity now to talk about what I am taking from all of this.

I think the abortion argument in our country, and perhaps others too, is backwards. I think we are fighting the wrong battle. One side claims it wants to save unborn children from an unfair death, and the other side claims it wants to defend a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body. Both sides lobby the political arena, as if making the act of abortion legal or illegal will somehow address the root of the problem. I don’t believe it will.

What is in the heart of a man or woman who can look their newborn infant in the eye and then flush him down the toilet? Perhaps this is not the same sickness that is in the heart of a woman who can look at an ultrasound of her third trimester pregnancy and have a late-term abortion, but I am tempted to deem them similar. How hardened does your heart have to be for you to agree with a law that says if a fetus is inside the womb at 24 weeks it can be aborted, but if it happens to come out it is suddenly a human being with the right to be saved? Not only is this completely ludicrous, but it is just plain sickening.

I have a feeling Kermit Gosnell and Douglas Karpen are merely the tip of the iceberg in this issue. The atrocities these men are accused of, including snipping the spines of newborns born alive, twisting their heads off and stabbing instruments into their heads to complete these “abortions,” are almost too gruesome to believe. Even pro-abortion activists can’t defend the actions of these murderers. Obviously activists on both sides of the abortion issue can agree that these men took things entirely too far. Even so, I have to question if there is really a moral difference – in the eyes of God, humanity, or any moral authority you may believe in – between killing that infant outside the womb and doing the same thing, often in an even more gruesome manner, to the same viable infant inside the womb.

Interestingly enough, Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, actually brought this up as part of his defense for his client during the trial. He described the disturbing details of what happens in a legal abortion, where fetuses are often dismembered, taken out of the womb in pieces, etc., in his defense of Gosnell. This seemed completely absurd to me at first, but it actually makes perfect sense.

“If McMahon can prove that abortion is gruesome and that his client was merely participating in its legal practice, then the notion that his client did nothing out of the ordinary is a bit stronger.” – Billy Hallowell, The Blaze

As someone who has had a child, mental images of born-alive infants being murdered in cold blood under the pretense of a medical procedure is disturbing enough. However, I would almost say that this other aspect of the whole ordeal is equally, if not more, upsetting to me. Activists can prance around all day long spouting rhetoric about a woman’s right to her body, ya-da ya-da till the cows come home, but at the end of the day, what does that mean? Does that mean that a woman has the right to allow a medical specialist to dismember and gruesomely terminate a life growing inside of her, weeks and weeks into the growth of her baby?

Since all of these stories have popped up I’ve watched several of the investigative videos by Live Action, the pro-life group that has gone undercover to several abortion clinics to expose the unlawful and immoral practices of those working in these clinics. I have to say I am actually surprised by the extent of the malpractice occurring in these allegedly professional clinics. If you are interested at all in this issue, you should really take a look at some of the videos. They are not graphic; the women simply go undercover into the clinics to ask the doctors and nurses questions about abortions. The responses from the medical professionals are very shocking, both from a legal and moral standpoint.

Anyway, I know I’ve gone on and on and I will try to wrap this up as concisely as possible. Gosnell’s attorney actually concluded his argument saying he thinks they should change the legal cutoff for an abortion to 16 or 17 weeks to avoid this kind of problem. Maybe he’s getting closer to figuring out what’s wrong with this whole thing, but he’s missing the point. The point isn’t about what’s deemed legal and illegal, and it’s not about the technicalities of whether the baby is in the womb or outside of it.

The point is that once you’ve conceived that baby, your decisions aren’t about your own body. They are now about the life of another human being. Planned Parenthood will tell you, when you go in for an abortion at six weeks, that your baby is nothing more than a mass of cells. I know because that’s what they told me when I almost made the worst mistake of my life. I found out later that same week that that mass of cells already had a detectable heartbeat.

The activists do have one thing right – this is about a choice. It’s not about a choice about what a woman can do with her own body. It’s a choice between life and death. It’s a choice between valuing human life and treating it as a disposable inconvenience. The technicalities of how many weeks along you can be to have the abortion, whether the fetus is inside the womb when it is terminated or outside – these are just ways of making the issue part of a political agenda instead of focusing on what it is really about: the devaluing of human life. We are becoming a cold society immune to the plight of the very weakest and most helpless among us. Those who deserve our love and care the most are not even being given the chance to take their first breath. We have to open our eyes and realize that there will indeed be consequences for the ruthless and cold-hearted manner in which we deal have dealt with our responsibilities.  We need to choose life – not because it furthers a political agenda, but because the redemption of our conscience and humanity as a society depends on it.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17, NIV

Rambling of the Day: A “collective notion” of our children

14 Apr

It’s been about a week now since I heard of the death of the inspirational and wonderful Margaret Thatcher. Her departure is a tragic loss to the world, but I’m sure the woman of iron will is loving her new home as much as she loved her country.

Obviously, I could go on and on about my love for Margaret Thatcher, but I’m not going to. I think, as a lover of freedom and a harsh critic of the idiocy of socialism, she would find this more important.

In a sick twist of irony, I heard about this ad by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on the same day I heard of Lady Thatcher’s passing. Before I say anything, just read it or listen to it, if you haven’t yet. I apologize for any ensuing stomach sickness that may result.

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children.  Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.  We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.  So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” Melissa Harris-Perry, “Lean Forward”

This is the epitome of everything I fear as a parent raising my child in a backwards society ruled by elitists who learned nothing from the failure of communism… The idea that they will dig their fingers so far into our private lives that they will have influence over our children. Honestly though, it doesn’t amaze me that this is Perry’s belief system. I’ve heard plenty of MSNBC’s rhetoric – the idea of collectivism isn’t shocking to me. What’s amazing to me is how blatant she is about it. At least when these people try to pretend to be moderate it’s less obvious how insane they are. But apparently now they have no reason to be moderate, which tells me they are confident that enough people have accepted the nanny state that they can get away with saying these kinds of things. With a spoon-fed society in place, the extreme socialist agenda has no need to hide behind the veil of being moderate.

Maybe this doesn’t bother some parents. Maybe some parents are applauding Perry, thinking – Wow, society is going to take care of my children. Perfect, less pressure on me. Maybe some people are naïve enough to buy into the idea that their children belong to whole communities – that they are other people’s responsibility as much as theirs.

I have a message for Perry, and anyone else who tries to shove this collectivist agenda down my throat. My daughter does not belong to you or to any community. I carried her for nine months, I stayed up with her night after endless night as she cried; I watched her take her first steps, heard the sweet moment when she first called me “mama.” And I can tell you with complete certainty that the “private idea that kids belong to their parents” is something you will never eek out of me, nor out of any other parent with any kind of sense of personal responsibility and love for her children. And no, this is not the assertion of a crazed, redneck freak holed off from society, bashing her kids over the head with a Bible and an American flag (seriously, I’m pretty sure that’s how the socialists tell each other conservatives act). It is simply the cry of a mother passionate about the incredible privilege she has been given to be parent of a beautiful little human being – a human being that literally came out of her. My daughter is, in every sense, a part of me. Forgive me if I feel that she is mine and not the community’s.

To those of you with kids that are still not getting it… well, first of all, maybe you should read a different blog. But no, really, let’s break this down a little further. Think about everything else we allow the government to control. Our money? Public education? Relations with other countries? Uh, hello – the DMV?!

The government can be trusted to handle very little with efficiency. It gets too big, too bureaucratic, and things get incredibly messy. Our government was never intended to have a scope that included butting into people’s private lives – and yes, raising your kids is part of that. That is not the government’s job. Nor should you want it to be! We need to stop allowing these talking heads to seduce us with the promise of having less responsibility. It is buying into such notions that runs entire nations into the ground.

Being a parent is a privilege incomparable to anything else in life. It is probably the most meaningful thing you will ever do. So do it well. Don’t allow people like this to belittle your role in your child’s life. You are, and should be, the biggest influence in your children’s lives. It is your job to see to it that they grow up right – not the state’s.

“We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the State is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the State.”  Margaret Thatcher, “The New Renaissance”

A conservative Christian’s unconventional approach to gay rights

28 Mar
Photo by Doug Wheller via Flickr

Photo by Doug Wheller via Flickr

Yeah, right, you scoff as you read this headline. There’s nothing unconventional about that. I know exactly what she’s going to say.

My liberal friend, I hope to prove you wrong.

Oh, goody, you say, as your Google search of “Christian arguments against gay marriage” somehow brought you to this blog, and now you’re wondering if I intentionally tagged this blog post wrong to trick you into coming here.

My homophobic Christian friend, I hope to speak to your heart.

This week is tantamount in the history of gay rights. The Supreme Court is hearing cases that could potentially change the course of history and the lives of gay people around the country.

And tomorrow is Good Friday – a day when I am reminded of the most incredible act of grace and compassion that has ever, and will ever, be extended to me. Through a sacrifice incomprehensible to the human mind, a scandal of unmatched proportion, a man who knew no sin endured the harshest brutality his society could issue in order to pardon the sins of his beloved people. This was compassion. This was Jesus’ message.

It’s a message Christians are called to extend to others. An undeserved extension of grace and compassion is to be our signature characteristic, setting us apart from the culture of selfishness and greed around us. But is this the message we’re sending to the gay community during this tumultuous time in their cultural history? Most importantly, if Jesus had instead come at this time and place, what would He be doing right now?

I am increasingly more disturbed listening to my favorite talk radio programs and watching my conservative representatives on TV using phraseology like, “Forcing their lifestyle on the rest of us,” “It’s their choice,” “That perversion,” “Imagine putting kids in that kind of environment.” Such commentary has overridden HIS phraseology – “Beloved, let us love one another,” “Let all that you do be done in love,” “See to it that no one misses the grace of God” – and ultimately: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Where is our compassion? Where is our grace? Where is the unconditional love we are to extend, from the grace and love we have been so undeservedly given?

We will never be anything more to the gay community than Bible-bashing rednecks if we can’t get around our severe case of homophobia that we try to play off as simply following our Biblical principles. We will never shed the stereotype of hypocrisy that shrouds the church, the “religious right” and Christian conservatives.

The saddest part about this for me is that between all the bickering, the noisemaking, the slander and the name calling, the most important element of the argument is lost in the melee – the person. The person who we are called to love, to show compassion to and extend grace to. Not the gay person. Not the person with the perversion so much more severe than the log in your own eye. Not the person unredeemable by God because of a somehow special sin that inherently renders him too far from grace to be saved. Get that person out of your head. I’m talking about the person whom God loves with a love so passionate that He sent the same Son to redeem him as He sent to redeem your perfect, sinless ass.

Let me be straight (pun… intended. Get over it.) I believe in the Bible as God’s truth and the ultimate authority in my life. I’m not saying the Bible says homosexual behaviors and the gay lifestyle are right. However, I’m removing myself from that argument right now to focus on something I wholeheartedly believe is more important than explaining to gay people why their lifestyle is or is not right. Why? Because in my Bible, Jesus explains to us what is most important. I don’t know if you caught that or not, but let me refresh your memory if you’ve forgotten. The Pharisees (these guys basically represent everything that was wrong with followers of God back in the day… aka we’re supposed to try not to resemble them. Just a thought.) try to trick Jesus into saying one of God’s laws is more important than the others by asking Him which of the Ten Commandments is the greatest. These guys can’t fathom how Jesus will get around this question, because all they know is law. They really think this is their “gotcha” moment… sound familiar? But Jesus blows them away, saying,

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

Get the point? The point is love. Love God and love others. Show compassion, show mercy, extend grace. Don’t stand outside the Supreme Court with a sign that says, “I SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.” Even if you do. That’s not demonstrating love. Let the court do what it will. Give to Caesar what’s Caesar’s. Your job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Do you think Jesus would be protesting outside the Supreme Court? I have a feeling he’d be elsewhere – breaking bread, washing feet and speaking healing into people’s lives.

Thanks to my incredible life group at Greenbrier Church, my best friend, and Andrew Marin’s book Love is an Orientation for inspiring this post.

Rambling of the Day: Social media, a modern scarlet letter

18 Mar
Photo by Ethan Marcotte via Flickr

Photo by Ethan Marcotte via Flickr

By now, most of you have heard about the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, where two high school football players have been found guilty in juvenile court for raping a 16-year-old girl. Obviously I’m highly disturbed by what these kids did, but what irks me the most about this case beyond the rape is the use of social media as an outlet to brag about the crime and humiliate the victim.

Let me be clear: by focusing on the media aspect of this instance, I am in no way trying to belittle the physical actions of these high schoolers. What they did to this 16-year-old in the physical sense is horrendous and they certainly deserve the punishment they are getting. But what they did on a separate level through the use of their technology is almost certainly going to be the more damaging crime to themselves and this young woman in the long run.

It is becoming more and more blaringly apparent that we as a generation and culture are stepping onto a new playing field with our technological advances. And it’s happening quickly – so quickly that the kids growing up in this social media/big data generation have yet to fully understand the permanency of their decisions regarding the way they are sharing their data. These kids are treating text messages and Facebook the way we would have treated passing notes in class. They are failing to see the vast consequences of what they share and how they are sharing it.

 “Digital communication is so commonplace, especially among the younger generation, that those who engage in it are often not aware that they are creating a permanent record of their impressions, opinions and beliefs which could later be used in court.” Ric Simmons, CNN

The Steubenville case is a landmark case not because of the physical crime that took place – despicable as it is, this is certainly not the first time a high schooler has been taken advantage of at a drunken party. This case is so astonishing to us because we are finally witnessing the devastating consequences of the abuse of social media. We’ve seen somewhat similar issues arise, such as what has been termed “cyber bullying,” where kids are essentially electronically torturing each other via social media. But this is different. This is a disturbing display of the viciousness of the kids of this generation – a display available for all to see. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily saying kids these days are more or less violent than they were twenty years ago before they had access to social media. However, hearing about something like this secondhand like we would have ten years ago is vastly different from actually seeing it – reading what they texted about word for word, seeing the pictures these kids took and how many people they sent them to, and finding out how many people were involved in humiliating this girl. This is brand new terrain.

The consequences of these high schoolers’ decisions will not end after they serve a few years locked up. Because of their crimes, they will be registered sex offenders – a scar that will mar their image forever. But that’s still not the end of it. Going back to the passing notes analogy – the notes they sent can’t be torn up and thrown away. Their texts and pictures will live on forever in cyber space, and there’s nothing they can do to get rid of the evidence of their foolishness.

So what do we take away from this, other than the sick feeling in our stomachs? Honestly, I don’t know exactly. The technological capabilities at our disposal are advancing more quickly than we have prepared ourselves – and our kids – for. But what do we do, then, ban them from sending pictures to their friends? Read every text message they write? I don’t think that’s the answer.

And I’m not going to propose a clear-cut answer, because I just don’t have one. Obviously this is a moral issue, but it’s more than that. It’s also an issue of what these minors have at their disposal. Sure, they’re 16 and not 8, meaning they should have the cognitive understanding that what they did was wrong. But 16 is a far cry from adulthood for a male – hell, even 18 is a far cry for many guys. We allow them to carry around these mobile devices that truly give them the capability to access any kind of information they want. If that smart phone can go online, then that kid can get onto any website in the world. I don’t care what kind of restrictions you think you put on your account – your kid can get to whatever they want to get.

Think back to when you were 16. Even if you weren’t a bad kid, it’s highly unlikely that you were totally responsible and trustworthy 100% of the time. By handing our kids these devices, we’re essentially asking them to be perfect, trustworthy individuals every hour of everyday. Really? How negligently naïve can we be?

Like I said, I’m not proposing a solution to the problem we have on our hands. I simply don’t have one. I just know that we’ve got to start thinking outside the box here, start treating our kids like what they are – kids. We’ve got to get rid of the delusional idea that their frontal lobes automatically become fully developed the day we hand them a smart phone. And we definitely have to instill in them the understanding that the things they send from their devices can’t be unsent. Once one picture, text or video is sent to as little as one other person, what happens to that item is completely out of your hands. They must understand the gravity and the permanence of their decision to send their information anywhere. As sad as this case in Steubenville is, my hope is that it helps lead us to a better understanding of how to deal with social media in a generation where almost nothing is sacred and even less is secret.

Rambling of the Day: Washington’s advice to avoid rape

21 Feb

I know I’ve stepped off my soapbox for a while, but it’s high time for a proper rambling.

Representative Salazar – how dare you tell the women you were elected to represent they don’t need guns to defend themselves from rapists. Idiot is a strong word, but they used it on Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch when this kind of insulting BS came out of their mouths, so I hope the media isn’t withholding judgment on good ol’ Salazar just because he’s from the party of women’s rights advocates. He is an idiot.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take one minute and let the Rep. educate you:

First off, let me say I am disgusted by the discussion surrounding this issue. Recently a hashtag was trending on Twitter called #LiberalTips2AvoidRape. More hilarious than the sarcastic advice given by conservative tweeters was the outrage of the liberals over our audacity for starting such a trend. Guess what the main argument was from that side? We’re blaming the victim and making an excuse for rapists to do what they do. Really now? Do you know how many women will be raped or violated in their lifetime?

One billion.

Let that number soak in a little. That’s one-third of the women on this planet that will be sexually violated against their will. So please explain to me how taking away guns will cause that number to go down. Call boxes? Whistles? “Safe zones?” Are you serious?

Making excuses for rapists. Good grief, you have got to be kidding. Let me set the record straight, to these ridiculous people who think that somehow by suggesting women learn how to defend themselves we are “defending” the rapists. Come join us in reality for just a minute. Reality where you can’t just give a rapist a good talking to or implement some new reform legislation and change the sickness that exists in his heart. As long as there is evil in this world, as long as men have evil in their hearts, you will not change this reality. We are not making excuses for the evil that is rape. We are acknowledging that it is an evil of devastating proportions, and that acknowledgment leads us to want to protect the innocent.

Here is the University of Colorado’s advice to women for preventing rape (where the Twitter hashtag trend stemmed from):

  1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
  2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead!  It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
  3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.
  4. Don’t take time to look back; just get away.
  5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
  6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
  7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
  8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
  9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
  10. Remember, every emergency situation is different.  Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.

For reasons totally up to interpretation, these tips have been removed from the website. Weird…

So, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the conservatives are the group with the backwards thinking on this. I know everyone wants to throw Republicans under the bus for being traditional and behind the times, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. These gun control laws are the insult to women. Telling a woman she doesn’t need a gun, she can just piss all over herself and scare off the idiot trying to rape her – that is the insult. Advising a woman to carry a whistle and stay in a “safe zone,” or use a call box, is the insult. The party of progressive thinking is showing an incredible lack of understanding on this subject, which is interesting because I thought they were the experts on women. I thought they were defending us in the Republican war on women. It simply amazes me that the party that wants so badly to defend a woman’s right to choose when it comes to her body takes so lightly her choice to protect that body from needing to make that choice. You can’t pick and choose how want to stand up for women. The same people that told us to vote like our lady parts depend on it have no interest in actually helping us defend those parts from violation. The selective empathy is incredible.

Apparently this is a controversial statement now, but let me make it clear: You will not stop men from being rapists. I agree that our children are increasingly troubled, especially in big cities, and that there is a serious need for reform in our young people who are growing up in this country and becoming violent people. But, I repeat, you will not stop men from being rapists. Rape is a crime that has existed forever. It is a representation of the depravity of our humanity and you will not eradicate it. Perhaps with effort we will be able to improve the situation on our streets in this country to a point where we will lower the rate of rapes… but the idea that the best way to prevent these crimes is by trying to change the rapists is absolutely bonkers. If there were a zombie apocalypse, would you try to talk down the zombies into becoming vegetarians? Or do you think maybe instead you might think about purchasing a small handgun? Hm? (See The Walking Dead for correct answer…)

I am sad for the women who are being fooled into this backward progressivism. We are smarter than this. We need to stop letting the men in Washington tell us how to protect ourselves. One billion of us will face brutality in our lifetimes. If you’re faced with someone who has every intention of hurting you, do you really want to take your chances with their advice and tell your attacker you’re menstruating? Or vomit on him in hopes it will repulse him enough to leave you alone? That’s the sound advice coming from the party of women’s rights. From the big-headed morons on Capitol Hill who have no idea what it’s like to have the sinking feel that it might be this time, this parking lot, this walk from my building to my car when it could happen. It could be my turn. This nonsense is embarrassing and insulting. Stand up for yourselves, ladies, because Washington is not going to do it for you.

Rambling of the Day: Bang, bang – time to talk guns!

23 Jan


Woohoo, it’s Second Amendment time! I’m talking about guns today, people, so get on board or get over it.

First off, I don’t own a gun. I might someday, but I don’t right now. So this rant has nothing to do with me personally wanting to retain a weapon.

Secondly, I want to dispel one argument right off the bat, because I hear it all the time and it drives me completely insane. The Second Amendment has NOTHING to do with hunting. Stop posing the argument: Why do you need more than a few bullets in your magazine to shoot a deer? There is not a single clause in the Constitution that talks about hunting. Our gun rights are not to ensure that we can hunt as we please. They are specifically there for our protection – get this – against government.

Here’s the actual text if you need to brush up:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. (Second Amendment)

Like that? A militia is necessary to the security of a free state. But what’s a militia, and why did the writers of the Bill of Rights think it necessary to the freedom of the people? A militia is defined as an irregular army – non-professional fighters who are citizens but not soldiers. Why would an irregular army of non-professional armed citizens be necessary to having a free state?

Oh, those Founders. Always thinking ahead. Maybe it’s because they realized that one of the very first steps tyrannical governments take when they want to control their populace is to come after their weapons. Maybe they realized that the quickest way to control the people and limit their freedoms is to leave them helpless to defend themselves.

Okay, so the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. But if guns are meant to protect you against the government, then why can’t you have a shoulder-launch missile or hand grenades like the military does? If you have to protect yourself against the government, who controls the military, how are you going to do that with your rifle or handgun? Okay, obviously citizens are not going to have the same level of weaponry as the military. The point is not to be armed with the same things the military is armed with – the point is to pose a threat. Meaning the government would have to think twice before forcing us out of our homes and relocating us to internment camps or what have you, because they would have to consider the fact that they have an armed populace that would not come quietly. (This is just a scenario – I don’t see internment camps in the government’s near future plans.)

Our gun rights come second in our Bill of Rights only to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and petition. The writers of our country’s earliest, most important documents knew the importance of this right. They knew that these rights were necessary to the security of a free state. Perhaps our leaders in government need to be reminded of this. Perhaps they should stop aiming their initiatives at law-abiding gun owners and crack down on enforcing laws that are already in place. Perhaps we should look at where most of the shootings happen in our country before we rush to new gun control measurements. Seems logical, right? But that would be counterproductive for the gun-grabbers in Washington. They don’t want truthful statistics, like this one:

With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns. (National Review)

And they would have to explain why Chicago, with some of the tightest gun laws in the country, isn’t the safest place in the country. They would have to question if the 513 homicides in Chicago last year alone – more than allied losses in Afghanistan – might have something to do with that. They might have to… think.

Photo: Minute_Man_Statue_Lexington_Massachusetts.jpg: w:User:Daderot

Rambling of the Day: Change begins with us

6 Jan

It has been three weeks since we heard the news of the shooting in Connecticut, and I still wake up thinking about it everyday. I get up in the middle of the night to make sure my daughter is where she is supposed to be. I get close to her face so I can hear her even breathing. I check and recheck on her. My heart sinks when I have to leave her somewhere without me.

Because the world is not safe for her. It is not just all a big playground at her disposal. The world is complicated. It is dangerous. There are people in it that would hurt her if given the chance.

These thoughts attack me in the middle of the night. They haunt me when I drop her off at preschool or leave her for an hour in the classroom at church. No matter how much I protect my child, she is not safe 100% of the time.

Many Americans are awakening to these same thoughts, and we are all searching for answers. We are looking at the data and digging up the studies in desperate hope that we can find the culprit behind the violence plaguing our nation. The president is talking about guns. In an ironic display of pseudo heroism, Hollywood actors have come out against guns. The manufacturers of violence think guns are the problem.

Anyone who knows me knows I obviously don’t blame guns for what happened in Newtown. But the left-right argument that goes something like, “It’s guns!” – “No, it’s not guns!” has reached a laughable level. These people are talking around the problem.

I’ve come to a place where I am almost resigned about it. I know that Hollywood and Washington will continue to talk around the problem. They will continue to sign petty non-effective bills into law and pat themselves on the back for their heroism. I am speaking nonpartisanly, too – no one in Washington will get to the root of the problem. They are the talking heads – the ones that assure us of their good intentions as they stuff their legislation with payoffs to their lobbyists. I have tuned out of the conversation they are having about this issue because I know what I’m going to hear even before I turn up the volume. It’s white noise, dead air, coming out of those talking heads. They won’t do their research. They won’t get to the bottom of anything.

Our culture has become violent, and it has become incredibly self-centered. We are losing our children. We are losing their attention to screens and to voices that are not our own. They are being instilled with values that we would never in a million years dream of teaching them – but there’s nothing we can do. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. We can’t stop them from seeing commercials for shows where people’s heads are being blown off. We can’t shield their eyes from magazine covers and billboards glorifying sex and degrading the sanctity of the body. We have to just live with the fact that this is our world now and this is how our children will grow up.

Oh, please. Anyone who wants to make that argument to me does not know me. They don’t know the strength and determination of good people in this country and around the world who simply will not stand for accepting the status quo. We will do our research. We’ll prove that there is a direct correlation between what our kids are being indoctrinated with through their culture and the violence that is escalating around us. And we’ll show the world that we don’t have to just accept that our kids will grow up glorifying violence and degradation. We’ll prove that we can instill in them the value that life is sacred, and that they must treat each other with respect.

Washington thinks it starts with them. They think the answer lies in passing the right gun laws – that somehow they will put fear into criminals by making their crimes more illegal. Common sense would have us all laugh at such a notion, but that’s what they think. We know better. We know it starts with us. It starts in our homes, with our kids. It starts with a conversation with the parents of our kids’ friends. It starts with mutual agreements between us about what is and is not acceptable for our children to be exposed to. It starts with us.

We can’t end violence. We can’t eliminate evil from our nation. If someone wants to hurt our children, gun laws will not stop him from doing so. But we have to do something. Our world did not become the way it is overnight. We got here so gradually that we could not have predicted fifty years ago what would be allowed on cable television. It’s not irreversible, though. The damage is not irreparable. We have to demand change – not simply from our law books, but from our culture.

Check out the website It’s a really interesting idea that has actually proven to be very successful where it has been implemented. The site also has some really useful scientific research that is definitely worth a peek. 

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