Why you should watch The Free Speech Apocalypse

For my money, when it comes to our current cultural moment—that crowning moment of Western Civilization when a United States Presidential administration orders that a teenage boy be allowed to shower with the schoolgirls because on that particular day he’s singing the old Shania Twain song with a little extra umf: Man, I feel like a woman—no one understands, analyzes, knows the hidden plays, and articulates the strategies better than Doug Wilson, a pastor in Idaho. I’m both not hesitant at all and a little hesitant to say this. I’m not hesitant at all because it is true. I’m a little hesitant because a few good folks, allergic to hard truths and plain talk as they are, break out in hives every time Wilson writes the word sodomy, and though I’m working hard at ruining my reputation, I still care a little. If you think it is nonsensical and a violation of the law of noncontradiction to be both hesitant and not hesitant at the same time, congratulations! You are among the few in America who can still be reasoned with.

As such, I want to recommend to you The Free Speech Apocalypse, Wilson’s new documentary. The film is fundamentally a cultural commentary on the intolerance movement among American liberals, exposing its contradictions, strategies, and hilarity. And by hilarity I mean it’s so lame it’s kind of funny. The organizing narrative thread centers on a series of lectures entitled Sexual By Design, given by Wilson a few years ago at Indiana University. Let’s just say that a lot of the students who showed up were less than thrilled with Wilson’s beliefs regarding human sexuality. And if they had been content to just be less than thrilled, the event could not have been used for a movie. Instead, they employed the power moves of the Left to try to shout him down and shut him up; Wilson needed 20 police officers to ensure his safety…for giving a lecture…on a public university campus. That’s why the film is called The Free Speech Apocalypse. The First Amendment is crashing hard.

Here are four reasons you should watch the film:

  1. To know what is happening and what is coming. The fact of Donald Trump’s viability as a presidential candidate is evidence of a collective frustration with political correctness and speech sensitivity. Yet, I’m still not sure most of us realize the extent to which free speech is under threat and how the Left is maneuvering to castrate public discourse in America. Nowhere is this more evident than our universities, where coddled students now require trigger warnings, safe spaces, and counseling any time someone poses an idea that doesn’t give them warm fuzzies. Just this week, Yale students lost their collective wits when a university official wrote an email suggesting that students were capable of handling controversial Halloween costumes like adults. Demands for apologies and resignations ensued. These same students will occupy places of cultural and political influence in the future. We need to be aware and prepared for what’s coming.
  2. To see the hidden strategies. When playing defense in football, it’s good to know that not every time the quarterback looks like he’s handing the ball to the running back is it an actual handoff. Sometimes he runs a bootleg and throws downfield to the tight end for a touchdown. The point is that we need to be aware of what our opponents are actually doing. This film exposes several tactics including: raw power by victimhood, demands for apologies as a means to gain power, and shouting in order to silence. No arguments, just rage and hurt feelings.
  3. To be, quite literally, encouraged. The crying need of the hour is for those who love Jesus and the good, the beautiful, and the true to be full of courage. This film calls believers to courage. We do not have to surrender the dictionary. We are free to recognize the liberal worldview as bankrupt and lame. We do not need their permission to think, speak, or even to disobey their own unlawful laws. We should have the courage to insist on that fact that truth is fixed and words have meanings. We need the courage to resist their demands for apologies.
  4. To see the great Gospel need of our day. What we see in this film is Romans 1 type of stuff. We are seeing inventors of evil. We are seeing those that not only practice evil, but give approval to those that do (and incidentally, they are demanding that we give approval to what they do, which is kind of their whole point). These kinkosexual revolutionaries are deep into the suppression of the knowledge of God. This kind only goes out by prayer. Viewing this film has the potential to tempt you toward anger. Rather, we should look with pity and love at the enslaved. Do we still need to fight? Absolutely. But let us remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood—even if the flesh and blood is dancing half-naked with a rainbow boa necklace in a gay pride parade—but against principalities and powers and the Devil himself. Culture and politics are downstream from religion. So we must fight the battle primarily in people’s hearts with the Word of Christ, the Gospel. The battle is spiritual so let us use spiritual means. Of course, let us not also forget that when the New Testament speaks of people being filled with the Spirit—which would make that person spiritual—the event that follows is usually that person proclaiming Christ boldly and casting down idols with words that would land you in sensitivity training and an on-air apology today. So this is not unrelated to the film’s central premise. Still, we should keep in mind that repentance and faith are gifts from God. Let us pray accordingly.

If I had to name one criticism of the film it would be that regular readers of Wilson’s blog would not necessarily encounter any new ideas. He’s written most of this stuff already. Still, the ideas are helpful and wise enough to hear again, in living color, with lots of extra scenes and commentary from a few others. For those that are not regular readers, after they get done saying I’ve never thought of it like that before, but that’s brilliant, I think they’ll stop by Blog and Mablog a bit more often.

I’ll end this review with my favorite quote from the movie. “If you’ve ever exercised your First Amendment right of free speech, thank a Christian. We invented it.”

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When you open your Bible

Lord willing, tomorrow morning—or at some point in the day—you will open your Bible to read. Or at least you want to. Or plan to. Or think you should. For many of you, this reading will be a source of delight and spiritual edification. For many others, your daily Bible reading is a duty that hangs like thick fog, devoid of all joy and expectation. It feels like drudgery. Just get this done so you can open Facebook without guilt. This post is for the latter group. I want you to be filled with wonder at the very idea of the Bible.

When you open your Bible to read, you are reading the very words of God. I know it sounds familiar, but just think about what that means. We are talking about the God who thought up snow-capped mountains, deep-raging seas, lizards, and the ant colony. The God who gave us flowers and bees and declared they should work together to give us honey. The God who dreamed up birthday cake. The God who went to great lengths to create a world under water that few humans will ever glimpse with their own eyes. The God who spoke galaxies into existence so far away that no human will ever glimpse them with their own eyes in this life. The God who decreed the ecosystem of insects in the Amazon. The God who decides whether today’s clouds are puffy or flat or shaped like an elephant.

We are talking about the God who is Lord over all things. He has raised up great men like Moses, Constantine, and George Washington. He adorned women of valor like Ruth, Mary, and Lottie Moon. He stealthily planted quiet men and women of honor and dignity in obscure places—visit your church’s senior adult Sunday School class to meet these heroes. Kings and presidents and dictators and Congress are alike streams of water in his hands. All of history’s kingdoms, democracies, republics, and federations are under his thumb. No civilization has or will ever escape his gaze—and none would want to.

And this God wrote a book.

He wrote a book and gave it to us. He gave it to us in our own language. He gave it to us for our own good. For no higher good exists than to know this God. The means by which we may know him are the sixty-six collected books of Holy Scripture.

If God had not spoken, if he had not written a book, if he had not revealed himself to us, we would not know him. Sure, we could look at the sunset over the water, the Amazon insects, or the heights the Alps and know that God exists; we could know that he is creative, powerful, and deserving of our thanks. But from nature alone we could never know that he is a Trinity, that the Father has a Son. We could not know that this Son took on humanity and offered himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for all men. That he was raised from the dead to be the first fruits of the future resurrection of all who believe and, indeed, the whole creation. No, he had to write a book to reveal these things. The wonder is that he did so. We certainly do not deserve this book.

But here we have it. Deep mysteries of the universe, ancient wisdom, practical instruction for daily life, comfort for seasons of suffering, and a telescopic look into the eternal future are all at your fingertips: atop your nightstand, at your desk, on your smartphone. You have been given access to an eternal library. History, biography, poetry, songbook, pithy quote book, sermon collection, personal letter, and apocalypse. These have been given to you for your good, instruction, and knowledge—your knowledge of this God who loves, creates, speaks, governs, writes.

So, duty? Drudgery? Drudgery?! Oh, wake up sleeper. You have the very words of God.

North Greenville and the Inexhaustible Mercies of Christ

So I promised to land the plane on writing about the North Greenville University situation. Unfortunately for those passengers on board, haggard as they are from gate changes, delays, and recycled oxygen, this plane has been circling above the runway for several weeks as I’ve engaged in private conversations and been on the road traveling.

I intended on ending my comments by applying the inexhaustible mercies of Christ to this unfortunate turn of events in Tigerville. However, I must first plead for the mercies of Christ to deal with the plank in my own fingertips.

The short version is that in my first post—How North Greenville Got the Gospel Wrong—I sinned by assuming motives that I had no way of knowing. I assumed and charged that the Board of Trustees acted deceptively in order to cover up for the former President, the school, and to guard against losing any donors for an embarrassing situation. I did not heed the wisdom of Proverbs 18:17—“the one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

I am thankful for subsequent conversations with those in the NGU community that revealed a bit of the other side of the story. As I now understand it, the Board acted in order to secure the President’s departure with as little damage as possible, particularly any legal damage. I have since written to a couple of Board members, the interim president, and some faculty members to express my apology. I offer the same apology to you. I am sorry for making accusations in this space that, to my knowledge, were false.

In this situation I think it is important to understand the difference between something being covered up and a “cover-up.” In the first instance, legitimate reasons exist for not disclosing certain information. In the second instance, involved parties come together in order to suppress information for illegitimate reasons. The details of the President’s departure were covered up, no doubt. But I have seen no specific evidence of an orchestrated “cover-up.” Rather, the hand that the President dealt the Board and university administration was incredibly difficult and complicated. There were no easy decisions. We don’t necessarily have to agree with or endorse every way the Board handled the situation—I don’t—but that does not necessitate that their manner was sinful. I was unloving to assume the worst of their actions and motives. I have repented of this sin.

All of this brings us to the point I wanted to make initially, which is this. The worst situations give opportunity to showcase the inexhaustible mercies of Christ. I hate that I sinned against the Board in my initial post. I hate the sins of the former President, whatever they were—and we do not know the details nor extent of what all went on. I hate that relevant information was covered up (in the first sense of that usage, see above). I hate that mistakes were made. I hate that brothers and sisters in Christ have been hurt.

But Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Therefore, all these sins can be removed and cast out from us as far as the east is from the west. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, which means that he died in the first place, taking our sins with him and burying them in the grave forever. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and my crimson stain of accusation is white like fresh-fallen snow. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and Dr. Epting can repent and rest. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and every last Board, faculty, and staff member, every student, and every alumni can walk in the bright light unashamed, with head held high—because that’s where we see Jesus, killed for our transgressions and raised for our justification.

I love how Spurgeon counseled those wrestling with great sins:

“Great as are thy sins, the blood of Christ is greater still. Thy sins are like great mountains, but the blood of Christ is like Noah’s flood; twenty cubits upwards shall this blood prevail, and the top of the mountains of thy sin shall be covered.”

Kevin DeYoung tweeted this out recently: “No matter how big the mistake, there is bigger grace for those who repent.”

So that is the call to all of us: repent and receive. Repent of sin. Receive mercy. Receive grace. Has your tongue sinned against a neighbor? Repent and receive. Have you drank from cisterns not your own? Repent and receive. Are you a liar, a thief, a gossip, a fornicator, an idolater, a tyrant? Repent and receive. Are you angry, full of malice, sexually unclean, jealous, divisive? Repent and receive.

The resurrected Christ bids sinners to come. Come and repent. Come and receive. Receive the inexhaustible mercy and the unfathomable grace.

On optimists, pessimists, and patriots

Last week I published a little post on the current controversy surrounding my alma mater, North Greenville University. My take—that NGU got the Gospel wrong—resonated with a lot of people and ruffled the feathers of a few others. Then there were the ones who thought I was being played in the hand of Satan. In other news, I love the Internet!

I wrote that post, critical as it was, as a friend of the university, not a foe. Let me riff off of Chesterton to explain what I mean.

In chapter five of Orthodoxy, Chesterton writes of optimists, pessimists, and patriots. He is talking about places, countries, and the universe, but I want to apply it to our discussion of North Greenville University. Chesterton described two curious men running around during his childhood, the optimist and the pessimist. To the optimist, everything was right and nothing was wrong. To the pessimist, everything was wrong and nothing was right. The optimist “thought everything good, except the pessimist, and [the] pessimist found everything bad, except himself.” The problem for both men was their detachment from the thing in question; they each lacked both loyalty and love.

He goes on to use Pimlico, a small area in central London, as an example:

“Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing–say Pimlico. If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne or the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico: in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico: for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be fore somebody to love Pimlico: to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles.”

The man who loved Pimlico was a patriot. The patriot loves Pimlico for no reason, therefore nothing can make him cease to love Pimlico. He is enough of a pessimist to change the dreadful place and enough of an optimist to think it worth changing.

So what does this have to do with North Greenville? In our discussions of the current situation we need to know if we are optimists, pessimists, or patriots. To the optimist, nothing NGU does is ever wrong. These are the connoisseurs of Kool-Aid who have never once looked the least bit sideways at anything at NGU. If North Greenville does it, it is good. If you criticize it, you are bad. That the university is in the sty it is currently wallowing in is due to having too many optimists in chairs that should have been occupied by patriots.

To the pessimist, nothing NGU does is ever right. This group is represented by the disgruntled ex-students who got expelled and now bash NGU on Facebook every chance they get. Also included are the hyper-secularist jihadis who drink craft beer in the West End and make themselves feel better about life by rejoicing in the calamity of Christians. The pessimist would have been shouting profanity from the rooftops even if the trustees would have dealt openly with the President’s departure the very hour they learned of the alleged misconduct. Nothing will ever satisfy the pessimist.

According to Chesterton, the problem with the pessimist is not that he chastises, but that he does not love what he chastises; he has no primary loyalty to it. The problem with the optimist is that, “wishing to defend the honour of this world, [he] will defend the indefensible. … He will be less inclined to the reform of things; more inclined to a sort of front-bench official answer to all attacks, soothing every one with assurances. He will not wash the world, but whitewash the world. “

When a patriot looks at North Greenville he sees both glory and grime, not one or the other. He is like the guy who knows how good egg rolls go with chili-cheeseburgers and he knows that he will smell like the Thai and I for three days. He loves the university whether or not it appears glorious and he loves it in spite of the grime.

When I wrote How North Greenville Got the Gospel Wrong, I wrote as a patriot. I did not write because I want NGU to be hated, but because I want NGU to be holy. Not because NGU is bad, but because it is good. Not because I don’t care about the university, but because I most certainly do care.

The pessimist will not like that I care. The optimist will not like the way that I care.

So to the pessimist I say: I love North Greenville. I love the longtime, faithful professors who have served students for decades, taking little pay and many headaches. I love the staff who understand their work as a calling from the Lord. I love the coaches with whom I worked for three years—they care about wins and they care about souls. I love the students who have gone out into every domain of society under the Lordship of Jesus. And yes, we have our quirks—those tacky painted PVC-pipe fences and the no-crossing-the-curb-at-the-girls-dorm rules and the twelve names on every building, just to name a few—but they are our quirks. Worse, we have our sins. But let us not crucify the university. Let’s crucify the sins. And forgive them.

To the optimist I say: the manner in which the President’s departure was handled was—by all appearances and what is publicly known—well below board. He was given a hero’s farewell and six-months pay and no one was the wiser to the accusations leveled against him and the real reasons surrounding his retirement. We were all led to believe—though no one with two wits about them actually believed it—that the President had, of his own accord, decided to fade quietly into the night. This was the latest episode in the culture of unaccountability at NGU. We are children of the light and should not abide such shade.

However, I am very appreciative of the current move toward greater transparency. I am genuinely grateful that university officials are meeting with various constituencies to explain the university’s actions. I pray that these conversations are fruitful and forthcoming and move the university toward healing. But I am going to be listening with one eyebrow raised so high it will appear that it is trying to high-five my cowlick. These are the exact same individuals who went on radio silence for eight months. And now they are going to spill the beans on themselves? Color me skeptical. I mean, when you hold all the information, it is quite easy to paint a soothing picture—in this case one of those creekside mountain churches by Thomas Kinkade, but without the spooky ghost-glow emanating from the inside. When you own all the paints you can hide those creepy orange hues in the corner of the attic in a box labeled “legal reasons.”

Chesterton’s patriot hated Pimlico enough to change it and loved it enough to think it worth changing. North Greenville is worth changing. Let’s start with a culture of accountability and transparency. Let’s start that with a full explanation of last January.


I will conclude (for the time being) my thoughts on the current situation at NGU later this week with a post titled: North Greenville and the Inexhaustible Mercies of Christ.

 

How North Greenville Got the Gospel Wrong

**Update: There has been some confusion as to whom I am referring by using the general term “North Greenville” in the below post. In no way do I mean to implicate the faithful faculty, staff, students, and alumni in any cover-up. Rather, the Board of Trustees acted as head of the institution and in its name. As the head, their actions affected and represented the rest of the body. But there are many Gospel-loving folks working and studying at NGU who should not be lumped into the same category. I’ve left the post as it originally was, but keep in mind that by “North Greenville” I mean the “trustees” or the “institution proper,” in its official actions.**

One week ago a video surfaced showing the former President of my alma mater, North Greenville University, caught in a vacation home alone with a female university employee revealing what is at the very least an inappropriate relationship.

Last January, just prior to the spring semester, the university’s Board of Trustees suddenly announced that Dr. Jimmy Epting would take a sabbatical through the spring and retire at the end of the school year. The interim president cited health concerns as “the catalyst” for this decision. Later in the semester the university held a special chapel service to honor Epting and his years of service to the university. During the service Epting gave a farewell address, in which he reportedly remarked that God was just leading him in a new direction, and sang with his Gospel group, the President’s Quartet.

No hint of the President’s sin was ever mentioned until someone uploaded the incriminating video on August 26.

North Greenville is a South Carolina Baptist institution that prides itself on being the place where “Christ Makes the Difference.” And our Lord Jesus has made quite a difference in many lives through this university, including my own. I hold two degrees from the school and worked in the athletic department for three years. I should also point out that I have known the President’s family since I was in middle school. I grew up playing basketball with his two sons. His sweet wife has been a good friend to my mother and has never been anything but kind to me. So I write this post not as a foe of the university, but as a friend.

North Greenville got the Gospel wrong. 

To use Eden as an analogy, the President’s sin was that of eating the fruit. He believed the lie and the Liar. He wanted what was not for the taking and disobeyed our Lord in order to take it. He broke covenant and he broke trust.

The university’s sin was the sin of making clothes out of fig leaves. Much like Adam and Eve tried to cover the shame of their sin in the Garden, North Greenville leadership tried to cover up its hero’s sin and shame, hiding behind garments made out of “health concerns,” “new challenges,” and “it’s time.”

How did North Greenville get the Gospel wrong?

The Gospel confesses sin—that is, it says the same about sin that God does. North Greenville hid sin. It pretended it wasn’t there. It said nothing of it.

The Gospel tells the truth because God is truth. North Greenville leadership flat-out lied.

The Gospel has nothing to do with darkness, but runs to the light. North Greenville, when confronted with its leader’s disqualifying sin, walked into darkness with him and became complicit. The university became complicit when it covered up the President’s sin and the reason for his retirement and led the university to celebrate the man whom they knew had sinned grievously and not yet publicly confessed and repented. (And yes, the nature of his office and the sin require a public confession and repentance).

The Gospel trusts God to save. North Greenville tried to save itself. Even if we assume the best motives of the trustees—that they were in good faith trying to spare the university the pain of a public scandal and the potential for donations to drop off—the trustees were trusting in lies to save them instead of our Lord Jesus.

The Gospel says you cannot love God and money. North Greenville—in its effort to not obstruct the donor flow—chose to love money.

In the Gospel, it is God who justifies. North Greenville tried to justify itself. The Gospel says that we are loved and accepted because of Jesus. North Greenville said we are loved and accepted because we are (or appear to be) moral and upright.

The Gospel covers shame permanently with the blood of Christ. North Greenville temporarily covered its shame with wordplay, spin, and outright deception.

North Greenville has been used of God by preaching the Gospel far and wide. Sadly, in this situation, North Greenville did not believe the Gospel. It did not believe that only the blood of Jesus covers sin. It did not believe that if we confess our sin that Jesus is faithful and just to forgive our sin. It did not believe that there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus and that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. It believed the Liar.

In so doing, the university has thrown sludge upon the name of Christ.

It has also blackened its own eye. It has opened itself up to charges of high hypocrisy; it has expelled so many students over the years for much lesser offenses, but covered up (alleged) adultery in the Administration building.

North Greenville should stop hiding, stop spinning, and come clean. South Carolina Baptists are a gracious people; we have been forgiven our own grievous sins by our Lord Jesus. God is a gracious God who forgives stiff-necked people.

For the name of Christ, North Greenville should once again believe the Gospel, confess its sin, and walk in the light.

 

There is no self-justification

It wasn’t too long ago that the Internet was all aflame with #TakeItDown ranting and ravings—and even a few sane pieces—regarding the Confederate flag flying on the Statehouse grounds of my home state of South Carolina. As you’ll notice from the link above, I count myself among the sane voices who argued for the its removal. My Dad, a legislator, however, voted against removing the flag. And I was quite proud of him.

Why would I, who argued for removing the flag be proud of my Dad for voting against it? It’s quite simple actually. I wanted it removed because I thought it had been hijacked by obvious racists in the Jim Crow era. Instead it was removed in a hysteria of, what another SC legislator rightly called, a politically correct cultural cleansing, a manufactured crisis, an instance of our state being “manipulated to categorically condemn our ancestors to prove our own self worth.” This assessment is evidenced by the political shenanigans in the SC House (read about them at the above link), including a fast tracked bill, backing from Democrats to buy $400,000 of South Carolina-made Confederate rifles, the Speaker going back on the compromise bill he requested, and Governor Nikki Haley manipulating the GOP caucus with tears. Add to that digging up Confederate bones, vandalizing Civil War monuments, and taking the Dukes of Hazard off TV and what we had was not a step toward racial healing, but manufactured hysteria for the manipulation of racial tensions to make ourselves feel better (and to advance the political careers of some). I don’t mean that there were not righteous reasons for removing the flag or that all the people arguing for its removal were unrighteous. Rather, we were either used or ignored or both.

But that’s been over a month ago. Old news by today’s standards. What does that have to do with today, you ask.

Well, in his essay Dangers of National Repentance, C.S. Lewis warns young intellectuals about the dangers of repenting for the sins of other ages and that the “communal sins which they should be told to repent are those of their own age and class.” Lewis argues that in repenting on behalf of those from other ages we often violate the law of charity. We say “we” instead of “they”—even though “we” may not have even been born yet—and since penitents are not to be kind or give the benefit of the doubt to our own sins, we attribute the worst of motives to our neighbors. All the while, we are not repenting of the sins of our own age—the sins currently being committed.

And this is the point of this post. Right after we had whipped up a sufficient amount of self-righteousness by condemning the entire antebellum South for its racism, God gave us the Planned Parenthood debacle. At the precise moment that we wanted to feel good about ourselves for our humanitarianism, for our racial healing, for our progress, God held up a mirror.

And we saw blood on our hands.

We saw that we kill, on average, almost a million babies per year.

We saw that we have killed 13 million African-American children in a generation, more than the total number of slaves that crossed the Atlantic over the course of 300 years.

We saw that we fund an industrial abortion mill with $500 million of taxpayer money per year.

We saw that we customize abortions to spare certain organs because they are valuable.

We saw that we dismember babies and sell them for parts, with or without the consent of the child’s mother.

We saw that some babies are born alive and either killed or left to die, then shipped off for a higher price for being “intact.”

These are our current sins. Planned Parenthood is the current Middle Passage. Planned Parenthood is the current Plantation. Abortion is the current lynching. Our ancestors denied slaves of personhood because they were economically useful on the farm. Planned Parenthood denies babies of personhood because their livers and hearts are economically useful in the lab.

The point is that we cannot prove our own self-worth. We cannot earn our own salvation, no matter how loud we yell or how many tears we cry. There is no self-justification.

But God, in His kindness, has revealed to us our culture’s heinous sin—the killing and trafficking of our own children—so that we may repent and find salvation in the only place it is to be found: the Son, Jesus Christ.

He can wash away the blood.

What’s a pro-life expat to do?

When the Obergefell decision dropped in late June and same-sex mirage was legalized in all 50 states with all the Constitutional reasoning of a poorly composed love poem by Justice Kennedy, I, being six thousand miles away, felt a bit helpless. Or maybe useless is a better word. Not completely useless, but useless to this particular cause. This decision was a new calamity: codified, normalized, institutionalized sodomy*. I could see the impending religious liberty implications. And many people, judging by Facebook, were without a moral compass to guide them in these days.

I felt like my country was under attack. And I was not there.

I wanted to be there. I wanted to help rebuild marriage and family among the ruins. I wanted to be a part of a truly counter-cultural movement. But to be counter-culture isn’t simply a matter of being against the culture—I can do that from here—but rather it is to build an alternate, better culture. Building a culture involves building churches, families, and schools. It involves creating movies, music, and books. It is a particular way of seeing the world and a corresponding particular way of living in it.

But I was in the northeast corner of Turkey.

Then, a few weeks later the #PPSellsBabyParts debacle hit. It was a story unlike any other. It brought physical discomfort and nausea. It brought mental distraction—it’s hard to think of much else. And it brought spiritual anguish. “How long, O Lord?”

The Planned Parenthood baby organ trafficking story also brought excitement. For the first time in 40+ years the pro-life movement has momentum. The fact that the videos show the barbarism involved in the abortion industry from the mouths of Planned Parenthood doctors and executives themselves is simply fantastic. The videos released by the Center for Medical Progress put the Left having to defend something that is quite indefensible. They have to do it every week as the CMP continues its slow leak.  And so, our nation stands at a pivotal moment. We can make like cartoon monkeys and see no evil or we can stand like men and slay the abortion giant. It is an exciting moment.

But still. I’m not there, I’m here. I’m in that little corner of Turkey with my own responsibilities, my own family, and my own life that are separated from America by more than a continent and an ocean. I want to be present and faithful here. I want to help my fellow countrymen there. What is a pro-life an expat to do?

Praise God and give thanks.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. All circumstances must include those circumstances in which infants are dismembered and then sold for profit, subsidized by the U.S taxpayer. So what are we to give thanks for? We should thank and praise God that he is holy and righteous and full of wisdom. He knows how to handle this situation. He will bring this and all things to a righteous end. We should thank and praise God for this opportunity to rid our nation of a great evil. We should thank and praise God for the courageous work done over the last three years by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. We should thank and praise God for technology—the cameras used to record the videos, YouTube to spread the videos, and social media to talk about the videos and inform others. We have much to be thankful for.

Pray.

I may be six thousand miles away from the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, but prayer is not location-dependent. The expat can pray for the pro-life cause from the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula, the tallest building in Shanghai, the Black Sea coast of Turkey, or anywhere in between. We should pray for the protection of unborn human people. We should pray for the well-being and care of pregnant women, especially those in incredibly difficult relational and/or economic circumstances. We should pray for healing for those women who have aborted their sons and daughters. We should pray for those men who wanted sex, but no responsibility; who drove or forced their lady to stop the heartbeat of her baby. We should pray that men, instead, would love, lead, and protect their wives and children as God has called them.

We should pray that Cecile Richards, Deborah Nucatola, and the other women featured on these videos, as well as the thousands of Planned Parenthood, StemExpress, and other abortion industry employees to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus. Their sin is great, but Christ’s mercy is greater still. But if they will not repent, if their hearts remain hard, then we should pray that God will bring their plans to nothing; that their table would be a snare before them, their eyes darkened, that God would pour out his indignation upon them, and make their camp a desolation (Psalm 69).

But whatever, we do, we must pray. The industrial abortion mill in America is demonic. This one only comes out by prayer.

Engage online.

Earlier I said we should thank God for technology. We should also be good stewards of it. For better or worse, much of our national conversation takes place on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. As we have seen with other stories, once the masses on social media get sufficiently riled up, those with decision-making authority listen and act. This tactic is often used unrighteously for unrighteous ends. But that doesn’t mean that hashtag activism cannot be used righteously for good. In fact, I believe it to be a Christian duty—for any Christian that uses social media regularly—to engage in this fight against abortion by engaging online. Silence is tacit approval. Thankfully, for the expat, this is something we can do. We have Internet access (or how else would you be reading this post?). We have, presumably, fingers to type. We can hit “like” and “share” and “retweet” without too much time investment.

It is amazing to me how many people in the United States still are unaware or severely misinformed about the whole Planned Parenthood scandal. It is up to pro-lifers to keep this issue on the front-burner. One way to do this is to keep it trending on social media. To do that we must post aggressively and use the same hashtags (#PPSellsBabyParts, #DefundPP, and #ProLifeSummer are a few of the most popular). Also, we must not get distracted by the start of college football season.

The larger goal is to make abortion illegal in the United States. But the short-term goal, the one currently within reach, is to defund Planned Parenthood from its $500 million in taxpayer-funded federal aid. This goal is imminently achievable. But we need politicians and corporations to feel the heat (click here for help in pressuring politicians and here for the same for corporations). Now is the time to turn up the pressure on them. Relentlessly. This is something we expats can participate in.

Be faithful where you are.

Expat friend, God has flung you around the world for his good purposes. Be faithful with that task, whatever it is. Engage in this fight with whatever margin and capacity you have. But do not be derelict in your duties to your current city. Love those neighbors well. Be faithful there.

Be pro-life where you are. Contexts and circumstances vary and, thus, so do available and appropriate actions. But at the very least you can talk about the value and dignity of life, of being created in the image of God. You can advocate for protecting life.

Part of being faithful where you are is trusting God with those he has put on the frontline of this fight in the U.S. This story has been going on for a month now. This is the first blog post I’ve written, partly because we were traveling or sick or busy. But also because I realized that there are more capable voices than mine writing many very helpful articles. Additionally, there are saints and heroes working in pregnancy support centers all around the country. There are faithful pro-life advocates on Capitol Hill. God has his troops in place. Trust him. Trust them.


What else can expats do to engage the fight against abortion? What other tensions do expats experience when trouble brews in their home countries?


*see here for a helpful defense for using the word “sodomy” and for a distinction between same-sex attraction and same-sex practice

#HateWinsToo

The point of this little post is to point out that all the #LoveWins pixie dust that whirled furiously around the Interwebs over the weekend was rather like cotton candy for dinner: all the kids love it, but it’s short on substance and disintegrates with nothing more than a little bit of warm spit. You know, kind of like the argumentation of Supreme Court majority opinions.

Saying Love Wins actually doesn’t say very much. We don’t know if something good or bad just happened. We don’t have enough information, yet. What or whom are you loving?

Both love and hate need direct objects. Grammar matters.

I like this little experiment I heard once:

1. I love _________.

2. I hate _________.

If you fill in the first blank with puppies, that is good. But if you fill in the blank with slitting puppies’ throats, then that is bad. I can’t imagine seeing the following tweet: I love slitting puppies’ throats! #LoveWins. I can’t imagine the Instagram photo of the White House lit up in red for the blood of headless poodles, tagged #lovewins.

If you fill in the second blank with black people, then that is obviously bad. But if you fill it in with human sex trafficking, then your hate wins. You should hate human sex trafficking.

So both love and hate come from God. God loves and God hates. More precisely, God loves some things and God hates other things. The trick is to love the people and things God loves and to hate the things God hates. We call this wisdom.

So, yes, love does win. And so does hate. Why? Because God wins.

 

7 Ways to Respond to SCOTUS

So the Supreme Court took it upon itself to attempt a redefinition of marriage, leaving a heap of Constitutional ashes in its wake. I expect rulings on square circles, dry water, and well-lit darkness to come down the pike soon. These are other things, like SSM, that cannot actually exist.

In the meantime, I suggest seven things American Christians can do right now in response:

1. Pray. God has not left us alone. He is still a refuge and strength. And he bids us to come and pray. Pray for repentance. Pray that many would turn to Him. Pray for grace and strength for Christians in an ever-increasing hostile culture. Pray that His Kingdom come.

2. Give Thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 commands us to give thanks in all circumstances. “All circumstances” would include those circumstances in which five blacked-robed Nazgul condemned the good sense of every civilization in the history of the world up to 15 years ago. So give thanks that God is still on the throne. That Jesus actually is Lord. That marriage, in fact, cannot be redefined. That you get to live in such circumstances where you can clearly proclaim the distinctiveness of Christ. That God has given to us real marriage—that would be between one man and one woman, for life—to illustrate the glory of Christ and His Church. That God brings all kinds of rebellious sinners near by the blood of Christ. To be clear, “all kinds of rebellious sinners” includes both the gayest of gay pride marchers and me (and you). And, being the chief of sinners, for this I shall give thanks.

3. Rejoice. Count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds (James 1:2). When others revile you, rejoice and be glad (Matthew 5:12). Rejoice that you are saved. Rejoice that God is holy and will see all things to a righteous end. Rejoice that the Gospel speeds on and triumphs. That Jesus will defeat every foe along the way, including Secularism, Erotic Libertarianism, and, finally, Death itself (1 Corinthians 15:26). Jesus wins. Rejoice.

4. Dissent, defy, disobey, and laugh. Godly Christian men should have at least one moment today where they give a good horse laugh at the Supreme Court. As Justice Roberts asked of his court, just who do they think they are? Additionally, we will have many a moment in the days to come to dissent, defy, and disobey such Constitutional tomfoolery and recklessness. This would be a good time to get a good handle on what Romans 13 does and does not require. The first battleground is language. We should defy and disobey the current culture-makers by refusing to go along with their definitions and language: I will not call this marriage.

5. Weep. After we have had a good laugh at the folly of our cultural kingpins, we should weep. The end of these shenanigans will be brokenness, heartbreak, and familial and communal wreckage. Nothing will be left untouched. Real lives, real Image-bearers will be broken, battered, and shattered. They are being lied to, led astray, and enticed by a handful of fairy-dust promises that cannot be delivered. The whole thing is sad and I am not one itty bitty bit happy about it. Let all God’s people weep with those who will inevitably weep.

6. Tell someone about Jesus. The only remedy for sin is Jesus. People need Jesus. People hear about Jesus from other people. Be that person for as many other people as possible. Replacing Justice Kennedy with Justice Limbaugh will not save our countrymen. Replacing their god—Orgasmic Liberty For All!—with the real God—Father, Son, and Spirit—will save them forever.

7. Kiss your wife. A faithful Christian man should go home and tenderly take his wife in his arms, tell her he loves her, and lay a whopper of a kiss on her lips. Celebrate real marriage by celebrating your marriage.

As pasty white as a busted can of biscuits

So I gave a little opinionation here about why I think my home state of South Carolina should remove the Confederate flag from its Statehouse grounds and followed it up here with a suggestion on how to frame the narrative in light of the deep-seated honor-shame element of Southern culture. As might be expected the post struck something of a nerve—some kind folks liked it, while for others it, well, got on those struck nerves.

Today, I want to offer something of a follow-up, a potluck potpourri of arguments and clarifications.

1. It is a rather awkward feeling to be in a dark alley with a gang of known thugs fighting and to find yourself siding with the thugs. You better make sure that you really are against what your fighting against. Such is the situation I find myself in as I argue for the removal of the Confederate flag from the SC Statehouse grounds.

But I must interrupt myself for a brief clarification. If you interpreted my being on the same side as a bunch of thugs in the Confederate flag controversy as a symptom of me being racist, then I want to point out two things. First, shame on you for thinking only black people can be thugs. The reason that racism radar of yours is beeping so loudly is because you are holding near the left side of your own chest. Second, the particular thugs I have in mind here are almost all as pasty white and lumpy as a busted can of biscuits. By this I mean the government-issued soft-despot Leftists that want to control all the definitions and parlay any real or perceived hurt feelings—especially if race is involved—into a further step of the march to tyranny.

So it is odd to be on their side. But it turns out that we’re not the only ones in this alley scuffle. There is another bad guy—let’s call him Racism—who has been disturbing the peace for long enough and some of the good citizens have decided to join up to rid him from the neighborhood. He put up a fight and that’s why we are in the back alley. I may be fighting on the same side as the Pasty Thugs, but I am doing so from different motivations; and I am really fighting with the good citizens.

So this is my defense. Yes, there are some media and political agitators who lack decorum and good sense in equal measure, who are howling for the flag to be removed from Statehouse grounds. I neither like nor appreciate nor welcome them. But, in this instance, they are actually right in what they are howling about. To return to my story: if we’d never elected that bad guy Racism as mayor and then let him retire in our quaint little town, then the thugs never would have had an opportunity to use something righteous toward unrighteous ends.

2. I just said that removing the Confederate flag was the right thing to do. I guess I should make my argument:

  • Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Obeying Jesus is always right.
  • The Confederate flag is unquestionably tied to racism. It is not only tied to racism, but it has undeniably been used widely, prominently, and significantly for racist causes.
  • The essence of racism is neighbor hate, not neighbor love.
  • At the heart of love is self-sacrifice—counting the interests of others as more important than your own and preferring the one loved even at great expense to yourself. An example of such neighbor love would be to sacrifice the public honoring of my forefathers with a particular flag in order to remove the public honoring of that flag that also represents past and present hate to my living neighbors.
  • We have a higher duty to love and honor our living neighbors than we do to honor our dead ancestors.
  • Removing the Confederate flag from a place of official honor is a way to love our African-American neighbors.
  • Therefore, removing the flag is a way of obeying Jesus.
  • Therefore, removing the flag is the right thing to do.

And if it is the right thing to do, then we should do it. In fact, if it is the right thing to do then we should have already done it.

3. By far the most popular argument that I’ve seen from my fellow citizens is the It’s our heritage! It’s our history! We must honor it! argument. I find this argument rather watered-down whiskey because the historical period they are defending (the antebellum South) is not the most relevant historical period to the issue in question. The 1960s anti-Civil Rights movement and the preceding Jim Crow era is the more relevant historical period for at least two reasons. First, that is the context in which the Confederate flag first flew atop the Statehouse. We went without officially honoring the Confederate flag for 100 years before it was hoisted up in protest of our racist dragon-skin first being ripped off. Second, that is the period where some of our still-alive-today black neighbors suffered racism; the most widespread symbol of such racism was the Confederate flag. The sins of the 1960s, being more recent, they are felt more acutely today than the sins of the 1860s. The Jim Crow era saw officially sanctioned and protected racism, segregation, and violence. Can somebody please explain to me what was honorable about that?

The use of the flag during anti-Civil Rights movement (and afterward) tainted the flag beyond repair. Not even Daisy Duke atop the General Lee can rehabilitate it.

4. I am under no delusion that removing the flag from Statehouse grounds will end racism. Racism is in the hearts of sinners. The only way to stop racism is to start worshipping Jesus. But I do believe symbols matter and that removing this particular symbol is an act of neighbor love.

But I don’t think we should stop at removing the flag in our efforts against racism as if that were the end goal. I think white churches need to stop firing pastors when they reach out to the black kids in the nearby neighborhood. I think our government needs to stop its war on urban men and rewarding fatherlessness. I think black presidents need to quit honoring eugenicists who wanted to weed out inferior races. And I think we should talk about the disproportionate numbers of black babies we dismember each year, under the full protection of the Constitution. And when I say “talk,” I mean talk out loud, using audible English words, in public, even on the cable news shows.

And if you don’t extend neighbor love to those African-Americans that are currently being slaughtered, if you only rally around the Officially-Approved Causes that require only minimal courage, if you are silent about today’s evils, then we shall count you among the Pasty Thugs.