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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sad Consequences of “Shacking Up”

“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)”

As I wrote a few years ago, I believe that at the foundation of any great nation there must be a healthy view of and a great respect for traditional (biblical) marriage. Strong and healthy marriages lead to strong and healthy families. Strong and healthy families lead to strong and healthy communities. Strong and healthy communities lead to strong and healthy churches, schools, businesses, governments, and so on. Each of these institutions lies at the heart of any great nation.

Recently that Hollywood scholar Cameron Diaz gave us an illustration of the secular/godless worldview on marriage: “I do [think marriage is dead]. I think we have to make our own rules. I don’t think we should live our lives in relationships based off old traditions that don’t suit our world any longer.”

When it comes to redefining marriage, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, gay marriage. As tragic as gay marriage is, however, I believe that our culture is faced with a greater problem on the marriage front: cohabitation—or to put it more plainly, “shacking up”—or to put it more spiritually, “living in sin.”

The current generation in America is shunning marriage for cohabitation at an unprecedented rate. According to the 2010 edition of the State of Our Unions report by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values, “The number of unmarried couples has increased dramatically over the past five decades. Most younger Americans now spend some time living together outside of marriage, and nonmarital cohabitation precedes most new marriages.”

According to the report, between 1960 and 2009, cohabitating couples in the U.S. increased more than fifteen-fold. Also, “About a quarter of unmarried women age 25 to 39 are currently living with a partner, and an additional quarter have lived with a partner at some time in the past. More than 60 percent of first marriages are now preceded by living together, compared to virtually none 50 years ago.”

Now, those of the worldview of Miss Diaz might ask, “so what? Why shouldn’t we make our own rules?” As is often the case, when we go our own way, ignoring the wisdom of the One who made us, there are tragic consequences. According to a recent federal study, the Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, children living with their mother and her boyfriend are about 11 times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused than children living with their married biological parents.

Likewise, children living with their mother and her boyfriend are six times more likely to be physically, emotionally, or educationally neglected than children living with their married biological parents. In other words, according to W. Bradford Wilcox, “one of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself is in a home that includes an unrelated male boyfriend — especially when that boyfriend is left to care for a child by himself.”

According to the study, children who live with their cohabitating biological parents don’t fare much better. In these circumstances, children are more than four times more likely to be sexually, physically, or emotionally abused and they are three times more likely to be physically, emotionally, or educationally neglected than children living with their married biological parents. Again, according to Wilcox, “a child is not much safer when she is living in a home with her parents if her parents' relationship does not enjoy the legal, social and moral status and guidance that marriage confers on relationships.”

Also according to the study, not only does cohabitation do little to prepare couples for marriage (which is often the excuse for cohabitating), but “a substantial body of evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.”

The solution to this travesty goes far beyond simply uttering “I do.” However, the solution does begin with a simple step of recognizing that marriage is not a man-made institution that we are free to redefine using “our own rules”—at least not without devastating consequences.

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Arabs Spring While Freedom Falls

As the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt spread across the Middle East, for months now we have heard the triumphant cries celebrating this “democratic” movement dubbed the “Arab Spring.” “We did our part,” declared the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman. “We killed Bin Laden with a bullet. Now the Arab and Muslim people have a chance to do their part — kill Bin Ladenism with a ballot — that is, with real elections, with real constitutions, real political parties and real progressive politics.”

However, as the “Arab Spring” burns across the Middle East—to Libya, Yemen, Syria, et al—it now seems that far too many Arabs are ready to trade one kind of tyranny for another. For example, in the first vote after Egypt’s Mubarak stepped down, the Egyptian people—by a whopping 78% to 22% margin—voted to give the Muslim Brotherhood dominant political power in the new parliament.

This should come as little surprise. Last June's Pew survey of Egyptians showed 59 percent backed Islamists, and, even more discouraging, 84 percent supported executing Muslims who change their religion. Thus, it seems that many Muslims have yet to understand the basic, most foundational tenet of liberty: there is no freedom without religious freedom.

Therefore, with religious freedom virtually nonexistent in nations where Islam dominates, it should also come as little surprise that of the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as rated by the Economists Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy, none are full democracies, while 35 are authoritarian regimes (dictatorships). Of the Index’s 10 most authoritarian regimes, 7 of them are members of the OIC.

Clearly, by and large, Islam is an enforced religion. This begs the question, why do these Muslims fear religious freedom?

Renowned Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias (www.rzim.org) recalls a tense interview with the “number three man in the Islamic world, the chief Mullah in Jerusalem,” where Zacharias pointed out that the Koran actually says that there is no compulsion in religion. The Mullah agreed. Zacharias then said, “Are you telling me that a Muslim under you should be free to convert from Islam to Christianity?” The Mullah angrily disagreed.

“You are fooling with words,” Zacharias noted. “If there is no compulsion in religion, then there should be freedom to disbelieve it as well as believe it.” In other words, there is compulsion under Islam. Zacharias concluded, “Islam is not the fastest growing religion in the world. It is the fastest growing enforced religion in the world. If you take the foot off of the necks of the people in Iran, and some of these other countries, tens of thousands of young, so-called Muslim men and women, will make their turn to Christ.”

Thus, we see practically no religious freedom under Islam, and nearly no desire for it. Before applauding the “Arab Spring,” pundits on both sides would have done well to take note of this.

In opposing the bloody French Revolution, Edmund Burke (considered by many the father of modern conservatism) noted that, “When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong principle at work…but we ought to suspend our judgment until the first effervescence is a little subsided…until we see something deeper than the agitation of a troubled and frothy surface…

“I should therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty of France, until I was informed how it had been combined with government; with public force; with the discipline and obedience of armies;…with morality and religion;…with peace and order; with civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are good things too; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: We ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.”

In other words, as George Will recently put it, “Before we congratulate people on their freedom, we should see what use they make of it.” There should be zero congratulations of democracy in the Middle East until religious freedom is received.

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Obama Rode Bush's Cottails to Bin Laden

In the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death, many on the left have rushed to congratulate and extol President Obama for this momentous act of justice. Liberal pundit David Corn declared that Dick Cheney owes Obama an apology. He also noted that Cheney “and other conservatives who denigrated Obama's devotion to national security have lost a much-valued possession: the Obama-is-weak-on-defense card.”

Writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Cynthia Tucker boldly anointed Obama with the “walks softly [and] carries a big stick” slogan. Lamenting the attacks against Obama as being weak on national security, she noted that, “The death of Osama bin Laden, in a raid executed under Obama’s explicit leadership, ought to quell that sort of foolish talk permanently.”

After bin Laden’s death, democratic consultant Bob Shrum pronounced the Obama presidency “renewed and transformed.” He went on to assert triumphantly that, “On the eve of big decisions about the debt ceiling and the budget, the president has new strength and credibility — and his Republican opponents and 2012 rivals have a stature gap that was always real but is now apparent.

“The gap will only widen as the gripping insider story of the nine-month saga of the mission to get Osama is told and retold. Not since the 13 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis has there been a story of leadership equal to this in drama and appeal. The best sellers are already on the way.” Wow.

The anonymous left-wing blog posters were bolder still. A young New York entrepreneur even created “Obama got Osama” t-shirts, reportedly making $120,000 in two hours. It was as if Obama, channeling his inner “force,” had fired a proton torpedo and singlehandedly destroyed the Death Star, saving us all from the evil Empire. (If Dick Cheney is Darth Vader, I suppose Obama can be Luke Skywalker.)

We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, remember, “Yes we can!” and “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!” and “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal?”

However, when one actually examines the facts behind the downfall of bin Laden, President Obama does not come across quite so heroic. As John Yoo points out, “In the war on terror, it is easy to pull the trigger—it is hard to figure out where to aim.” It turns out that Obama didn’t need “proton torpedoes;” all he needed were the military and intelligence architecture laid down by the Bush administration.

I’m talking about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (Gitmo), enhanced interrogations, wiretapping, the Navy SEALs who are part of the Joint Special Operations Command, and so on. In other words, as Michael Barone notes, “For years we heard supposedly enlightened people excoriate our leaders for torture, lawlessness, unilateralism—the list goes on and on. Now the president they have wanted has used the tactics and methods they excoriated to get bin Laden.”

Oh, the irony. To get to what is almost certainly the high point of his presidency, Obama had to channel his inner George Bush—and liberals across the country are fawning all over him for it!

Remember Obama’s promise to close Gitmo? Remember the change in the “War on Terror” semantics incorporated by Obama’s national security team? The “Global War on Terror” became “Overseas Contingency Operation;” “enemy combatants” ceased to exist; and even the word “terrorist” was awkwardly avoided. I mean, Obama’s administration not only rejected Bush era policies, they didn’t even want the same terminology. But now Obama is the greatest thing since Eisenhower.

Don’t get me wrong. Obama deserves some credit for delivering the final blow in bringing Osama to justice. However, when drawing conclusions on Obama’s foreign policy and military strengths and successes, one must consider all of his actions and not an isolated success that was possible only because of the efforts of the previous administration.

Copyright 2011, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com