Tag: politics

Your Value? Mother Knows Best

We all know the phrase mother knows best. Most of us remember it as a tactic used to convince us to listen to their mothers, but for Beto O’Rourke and his supporters, it is also their approach to abortion. In a recent campaign event, the 2020 Presidential candidate fielded a question from a member of the audience regarding late-term abortion. The individual asked the former congressman whether his life had any value on the day prior to his birth in 1989. This question was a direct reference to O’Rourke’s opinion expressed during a previous campaign event in Ohio, during which he stated his favor for third trimester abortions.

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Why Legalism Can’t Be the Answer

Recently, I had a conversation with someone who explained their frustration at the amount of churches in America continuing to push a legalistic view of Christianity instead of applying theology to real life. She wasn’t against the need for discipleship, accountability and holding to biblical principles of morality, but rather the constant focus on enforcement of these principles through rule making. I couldn’t agree more. What came to mind was the phrase, “I don’t smoke and I don’t chew and I don’t go with girls that do.” It is a phrase which focuses on behavior, not the heart and fails to recognize the complexities involved in moral decision making within the modern society. If Christians are going to face the issues of today, a legalistic approach will simply not suffice.

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Vote for Conscience Sake

The news coming from last night’s election campaign brought forth either sentiments of disappointment or joyous celebration for conservative Americans, as they became aware of Ted Cruz’s decision to suspend his campaign; leaving Donald Trump as the front-runner candidate to become the Republican party nominee.  Those who did not support Trump are now faced with a decision regarding who they should support in the national election, especially given the two candidates will likely be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Yet, unlike in previous election cycles there are now Christian leaders, some of whom I deeply respect, who are encouraging Christians to either restrain from voting at all in the Presidential election on November 4th or to vote instead for a third party candidate.

What does it say that we have now shifted from merely guiding Christians to examine specific positions of a candidate according to a biblical worldview, to now telling them which candidate they should or should not vote for in the Presidential election?  Even if you were to agree that such a practice is justified, why did Christian leaders wait until Ted Cruz departed the race before suddenly making it known that he was apparently the evangelical Christian candidate?  Is choosing not to vote or voting for a third party candidate a more biblical decision?  For those encouraging a third party candidate, how are we to believe that this unknown candidate would hold to a biblical worldview or even be guaranteed a victory?

It is well known and accepted by many people that a third party candidate victory in a Presidential election is statistically improbable and typically results in a victory for the party opposite of which the person most closely aligns.  In the case of this year’s election, a third party candidate which most closely aligns with conservative values will inevitably lead to a Hillary Clinton victory.  Perhaps this is an outcome you have considered and are content to accept knowing you supported someone in good conscience instead of merely a party line vote.
Allow me postulate that a Hillary Clinton victory will inevitably lead to an even greater increase in the erosion and intentional dismantling of religious liberty.  Mr. Trump certainly does not embrace a biblical worldview, but is it possible to conceive of a Clinton victory as the better alternative, because that is exactly what you will have if Trump fails to win the election in November.  Although Trump may endorse the pro-gay movement in certain areas, Hillary not only endorses it, but will aggressively push it down the throats of Christians by forcing religious institutions to conform or be shutdown.  Hillary aggressively supports the right of a woman to murder her unborn child in the womb, while Trump has indicated a shift in his position to no longer support abortion.  How could such a high priority issue for Christians suddenly become one in which we are willing to now choose Clinton, an avowed abortion rights supporter, to continue stretching the boundaries of abortion by not voting for the one candidate who could defeat her in the election?  Would it not be worthwhile to suspend our disagreement with Trump on other issues in oder to gain a small victory by having a President who does not support the murder of a child.

The impacts of the Obamacare bill, which will especially be realized this year, will continue to contribute to the decline of the U.S. economy under a Clinton administration because only Trump has offered to repeal this bill.  Even if you do not believe all of Trump’s economic plans align with conservative principles, it cannot be argued that they are much closer than Hillary’s socialist, Keynesian position.  Do we not as Christians believe that a strong, economy which enables human flourishing is beneficial for mankind?  Which candidate is more likely to support policies which enable the economy to return to it’s former luster?

Trump is determined to improve the condition of U.S. veterans who have given so much to our country, while Hillary has proven she could care less about the military let alone the veterans who have served.  Although many people may not consider the vast, world-wide influence of the U.S. military, it represents the most powerful military force in the history of the world.  As someone who has worked at the senior level of the Department of Defense throughout the Obama administration, the military is unable to survive another administration which has eroded the very principles which have allowed it to sustain such a globally recognized position.

The next President of the United States will likely have the opportunity to select new Federal judges to include several who will sit on the Supreme Court and have vast influence on our nation for the next few decades.  Even if you do not agree that Trump would make a good decision, is it possible that his decisions might prove to be a better alternative to Hillary?

This is not an endorsement of Trump over any other GOP candidate, that ship has sailed.  Rather, it is an endorsement of some semblance of conservatism against the guarantee of socialism.  It is an endorsement of some religious liberty over no religious liberty; or should we say no Christian liberty since Hillary certainly supports liberty for other religions.  If the argument is that Trump does not support religious liberty to the same degree as other candidates such as Cruz or Rubio, then perhaps we should make it clear that Trump is also not out to intentionally destroy it like Hillary.  Even if we agree that Trump’s policies may lead to a decline in religious liberty, which is certainly open for debate, he has not made it a mission to force conformance to the homosexual agenda like Obama has done and Clinton will inevitable continue.

As already stated, there is no hope for a third party candidate victory, so if your decision is to either vote for an unknown candidate or not vote at all, then understand you are voting for Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States and we can say goodbye to any religious freedom we may have left.  It may be difficult to vote for Trump in good conscience, but how will your conscience feel when you watch religious liberty deliberately be dismantled by Hillary, knowing you could have prevented it?

The Draft: A Woman’s Right?

Last week marked the twelve year anniversary of the opening of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., honoring the more than 16 million men and women who served during the war.  When I walk the halls of the Pentagon each day there are memorials which surround me to honor not only men, but women who have honorably served to defend our nation.  In the center of Arlington National Cemetery there is an entire memorial dedicated to the women of our Armed Services.  There can be no doubt that over the past century women have shared in the rich heritage of military service.  Yet, the one element which has always distinguished these women from other woman, has been their freedom to exercise a choice in deciding to serve our country in this capacity.  Since 1917, when women were first allowed to join the U.S. Armed Services, this opportunity has always been a decision not made under compulsion, but under free will.

Yet, all of this could change within the next month if a bill which recently passed the House Armed Services Committee is approved by Congress and signed into law by the President.  Just as all male U.S. citizens are required on their 18th birthday to register for Selective Service, this bill would mandate all women to also register; making them legally bound to participate in the draft process in the event it was ever required.  It invokes the inevitable question regarding whether women should be required to register for the draft and if so why have they never been forced to do so in the past.  Before answering that question, consider for a moment the intent of the draft and the conditions under which it would likely be instituted. It is essentially the forced supplementing of a shortfall in military personnel, typically combat troops, who will be required to serve on the front lines of a battlefield. Although it could be rightly argued that warfare has changed since the draft was executed in WWII and the Vietnam War, the fundamental purpose is to fill a gap in combat operations.

So as we consider this issue it must be understood that fundamentally, an extension of the draft to include women, is the endorsement of forcibly committing young women to the front lines of a combat area.  Put another way, it is also the belief that not only men, but women have a duty to protect the homeland of America.  That is not an argument about whether a woman is physically capable of defending our nation, but rather a question of obligation.  In the event of a draft, there is little distinction made between the strong and the weak, the small and the large, because every man in this country is viewed as having an obligation to fight and if need be die, for the protection of this country.  Is this an obligation which should be shared with the women living in this country?

While there is certainly a legitimate argument that our military consists of jobs with non-combative roles, the fundamental justification for this law is to demonstrate equality across genders in America.  So in the event of a draft, how could it be argued that women would only be given non-combative roles, while the men are being sent to fight and die on the front lines.  Who would conduct the selection process to determine who serves in combat and who does not.  If the basis for this requirement is gender equality, then the integrity of the program mandates an equal dispersion of genders.

The Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, recently opened all combat careers to any gender, but this the issue of the draft is a much different debate then permitting women to apply for service in combat roles.  Instead, the more urgent issue is whether women should be mandated to serve on the front lines.  Consider for a moment the practical impacts of enforcing such a law on the young women of America.  The preponderance of single parents in this country are mothers, although we certainly should not discredit single fathers who share similar circumstances.  Can we envision a young, single mother being forced to leave her children out of a duty to fight for her country or would we argue that there are enough men to take her place.  Imagine a mother and a father both being drafted at the same time; required to leave behind a family for someone else to care for.  Even if there are exceptions, who decides which one stays and which one leaves?  If the father volunteers what is to prevent the draft board from selecting his wife instead under the banner of equality.  Could a husband imagine sending his wife off to war while remaining at home with the children?

What does it say about a culture that we are adamantly supportive about providing women adequate time to care for their children through maternity leave, nursing areas in the workplace and flexible work schedules, but are unwilling to admit that there just might be some fundamental differences between the roles of men and women.  Isn’t it interesting that many child custody cases in divorce court decide to award primary custody to the mother on the basis of studies which identify maternal care as a key element in the development of a child.  While the death of any parent in a family with young children is heartbreaking, there is something about the death of a mother who leaves behind young children which grips and moves us in a way which cannot easily be understood.  There is a reason for the metaphor, “just as a mother cares for her child” because the imagery epitomizes our understanding of love, nurture and care.  Is this really just antiquated imagery from a bygone culture dominated by male chauvinism or is it perhaps rooted in a human nature designed by God and not meant to be suppressed?  If it was not the result of God’s design then why would Peter write, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life” (1 Pt 3:7).

As Christians we need to think carefully about what the Scripture teaches about the role of women and ask ourselves some serious questions about this topic while we still have the opportunity to influence the decision.  Would you send your wife to war?  How about your daughters?  Or try this one, would you send your mother to war; to fight and to die?  Don’t be so quick to correlate permitting a woman’s freedom to serve in a combat job and forcing them into one.  In the event of a draft, women will still have the freedom to join the military if they so desire.  The draft is ultimately about freedom, but only in this way; through the suspension of an individual’s freedom in order to fulfill the duty to protect America’s freedom.  This decision isn’t about granting women’s rights, it is about taking away a woman’s right to have her freedom’s protected.

Understanding the First Presidential Debate

With the Presidential elections just over a year away, the political landscape will soon be dominated by debates, speeches, interviews and campaign advertisements. The first of many debates occurred last night and offered much to be desired when one considers the meaning of the word debate. At best it was an exhibition of talking points and buzz word. While there is a sense of disappointment in the moderators for not creating an environment which afforded the candidates an opportunity to engage in necessary, in-depth deliberations, nonetheless it is not an event which should be completely undervalued or dismissed; especially given the extensive number of candidates now bidding for the Republican ticket. There are several noteworthy points which we should take away from this first debate.

In terms of what the debate provided us, it is probably best to identify it as merely a preview of the contending candidates which confirmed what most people likely already knew about each opponent. It provided what one might expect from a forum where candidates were limited to a one minute response. Yet, despite the limited response time we can often learn a great deal about someone when they are required to respond to potentially difficult, comprehensive questions within the constraints of short period of time. There is significance in observing the reactions of the candidates, each of whom are contending for a position which routinely encounters situations requiring immediate, decisive responses, sometimes leading to expansive ramifications for the country. This debate may not have provided us with a better understanding of how these candidates intend to fulfill their campaign commitments, but it did provide the viewer with a big picture overview of their overall demeanor and posture in a high-stakes environment.

While last night did not necessarily produce any winners or losers, it did reveal those who are able to articulate their convictions about a particular topic outside of the standard Republican Party talking points and phrases. In a party specific debate, the goal of a candidate should not be to articulate their similarities to the other candidates, but rather the distinctive marks which separate their approach to the topics. Those who were able to progress the conversation beyond the one liner phrases and buzz words which already define the Republican Party presented themselves as ones who will be worthwhile to watch in future debates, especially when provided ample time to articulate the issues in greater detail.

When we consider the overall structure of this debate itself, it is interesting to note the rationale behind the decision of Fox News to limit the debate to a two hour time block with only a one minute response time per candidate. Yet, what must be understood is that like every other cable news network, Fox News is competing for viewers, which requires a programing structure capable of accomplishing this goal. Therefore, we can only assume that the producers considered these time limits to be the breaking point for a large majority of their targeted audience. Yet, this does not represent a critique of the news networks so much as it does on the American culture and the ever shrinking attention span of Americans when it comes to significant matters such as the political scene. For many Americans the idea of watching a two hour discussion, even about issues which affect them daily, seems overly daunting especially on a Thursday evening during prime time television. It is inconceivable that anyone would think twice about watching a three hour football game, a two hour movie or an all-day marathon of Downton Abbey, but somehow spending two hours listening to a debate between people, a group from which many will one day select their next leader, seems uninteresting. The limitation of one minute responses could be associated with the goal of the moderators to cover a wide range of topics with the seventeen candidates within the short two hour window of time, but it could also be the result of a culture which seems disinterested in topics which cannot be reduced to a 144 character Twitter feed.

The Christian worldview understands that each person will one day give an account for how we spend our time, our resources and even how we voted in an election. We realize in voting for candidates that there will never be the perfect candidate, nor do we expect that the best candidate will be an individual who holds completely to our own worldview, but what is important is that we make the best choice based on our knowledge of the individual. A decision which comes not based on what anyone or any group would have us to believe is the best candidate, but rather one which is based on our own evaluation and assessment of the facts. To do this means that we must spend time to understand these issues which will be at the forefront of the campaigns and make an informed decision to vote for the person most capable of leading America in the right direction.