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Friday, January 29, 2016

It’s Time for Christians to Go to Jail over Marriage

Over two months prior to the Supreme Court of the United States forcing the legalization of a perverse redefinition of marriage on the whole of the country, I declared that when it comes to the foundation of every lasting culture the world over, the oldest institution in the history of humanity, and one of the earliest truths revealed by God, we can NEVER surrender.

As Churchill inspires us, we must fight the tyrannical menace that is the modern homosexual agenda, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. We must fight strong to the end, we must fight for the churches, we must fight for the chapels, and we must fight for the children. We shall fight in the media, we shall fight in the legislatures, and we shall fight in the courts. And if necessary, as Dr. Martin Luther King inspires us, we must go to jail.

The courts have ruled, thus some may ask, “Why break the law?” As King revealed in his letter from the Birmingham jail, “[T]here are two types of laws: There are just and there are unjust laws.” And we agree with Dr. King, who agreed with Saint Augustine that, “An unjust law is no law at all.”

Dr. King also reminds us of the difference:
A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.
If a law forcing a nation to accept as normal men having sex with men and women having sex with women is not a violation of natural law, then nothing is. If a law forcing a nation to accept a perverse redefinition of marriage is not a violation of natural law, then nothing is.

We should go forth with the same boldness and surety as did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who, though faced with the fires of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, refused to bow down to his golden idol. The biblical account of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego recorded in the book of Daniel are great examples of a faith that run counter to the culture—even the legal code of the culture, and even when it means facing the harshest of consequences. Though such faith is required in many parts of the world today, few Americans have ever had to make life or death decisions because of whom or how they worship.

However, as most sentient Americans now well know, as they refuse to bow to the homosexual agenda, some Americans are facing massive fines, the threat of lawsuits, the threat of having their businesses shut down, the loss of their jobs, death threats, and so on. Fines and other financial penalties seem to be the current favorite weapon of those targeting the individuals or businesses who are determined to hold to the biblical view of marriage. In every case of which I’m aware, when facing fines, generous Americans, through various “crowd-funding” efforts, have literally bailed out their like-minded brothers and sisters. It is time for this to stop.

I’m not saying that there’s anything immoral about helping someone pay an unjust fine. However, paying these fines, through whatever means, sends the wrong message. What’s more, in many cases it lines the pockets of those who stand behind these immoral laws.

I’m a public school teacher in a conservative state (Georgia), in one of the most conservative congressional districts in the country (GA-9). As I’ve said before, I will NEVER affirm homosexual relationships as normal and healthy, and I will continue to take all opportunities to live and tell the truth on marriage and sexuality. Currently, I cannot imagine a scenario where my positions on marriage and sexuality would result in criminal consequences, including a fine. However, how many of us just a few years ago thought the idea of legalized same-sex “marriage” absurd?

How many of us were told that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enough to protect states from a forced (and perverse) redefinition of marriage? In fact, barely a decade ago, some conservatives, including the author of DOMA himself—then Georgia Representative Bob Barr—told us that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one women was unnecessary. It’s likely that many of us who now think ourselves safe from the menacing reach of the homosexual agenda will soon find ourselves in the position of the bakers, photographers, florists, and the like, who have been targeted by those seeking revenge upon Americans seen as standing in the way of sexual “progress.”

I now go on the record: If fined I will not pay it, and I will allow no one else to pay it for me. In other words, I will go to jail. In the spirit of John Bunyan: I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of the truth.

What’s more, I call upon all defenders of the truth on marriage and sexuality to take the same positions. As Dr. King taught us, we must obey God rather than man. And as Dr. King reminds us, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.’ It was ‘illegal’ to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.”

In today’s America, there are few things more “antireligious” than same-sex “marriage.”

Copyright 2015, 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

Friday, January 22, 2016

America Shouldn’t Gamble With Donald Trump

(See also: "God, Conservatism, and Donald Trump.")

As many of you probably well know, for over 17 years now, my wife Michelle and I have been on an unusual financial journey. (In case you haven’t heard, we’ve penned a book on the matter.) In short, about 17 years ago we committed to living our lives completely debt free. We built our home without a mortgage. We haven’t had a car loan in 16 years. Our four children attend a private Christian academy. All this, and we’ve never made more than $100,000 in any single year. We budget. We save. We invest. And we never gamble. Ever. We’ve never even purchased a lottery ticket. (Even when the payout is north of $1 billion.)

We consider ourselves financial disciples of the late-great Larry Burkett. The greatest lesson he taught us is the principle of stewardship. In fact, stewardship is the most important financial principle taught in Scripture. The Bible reveals that none of us really “owns” anything. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” We are merely stewards, or managers, of God’s property. Until we come to grips with this, we can never truly understand money and wealth.

If nothing else, gambling is poor stewardship. However, Larry had a lot more to say on the matter. Larry notes that, whatever the reason one gambles (an attempt to supplement or replace income, as entertainment, because of compulsion), all gamblers are guilty of the same thing: materialism. What’s more, gambling is “the ultimate in ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes since it fits all the criteria: Participants are encouraged to risk money they usually can't afford to lose; they know little or nothing about what they are doing; they're forced to make hasty decisions; and the idea operates on the ‘greater sucker’ theory. (That is, when you dump money into a slot machine, you believe there was a greater sucker who risked money and then quit just before the big jackpot.)”

On whether gambling is a sin, Larry writes, “In the strictest sense, gambling is a sin as much as false weights and measures. Enticing someone to gain money at the certain loss of another violates virtually every principle Christ taught. It not only breeds selfishness, greed and covetousness, but, in fact, promotes them: ‘For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things’ (Phil. 3:18,19).”

As we are now just days away from the beginning of the primary season, the practice of gambling has weighed on my mind more than usual. I’m no more tempted by it than usual, but the fact that one of the leading candidates for President of the United States has made a significant portion of his billion dollar fortune from casinos is indeed a troubling matter.

Donald Trump has been involved in multiple casino ventures in his lengthy financial career, and though he has made tens-of-millions of dollars from casinos, his investors have not been so lucky. In 1990 Trump opened the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City with typical Trump showmanship. (As the Boston Globe describes, “Trump strode onto a stage as ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blared on loudspeakers. He rubbed a giant replica of Aladdin’s lamp and a genie appeared on a large video screen, promising the young casino mogul, ‘Your dream is our command.’”) One year later the casino was $3 billion in debt and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Trump has had four bankruptcies related to his casinos.

On Trump, Phillip Sternberg, a former Trump investor who was part of a committee appointed by shareholders to negotiate with Trump during one of his bankruptcies, said “He’s the biggest [jerk] I’ve ever known…There’s nothing nice I can say about him. He hurt so many people. He bankrupted families that were two-and three-generation electricians, plumbers.” This is quite ironic for a man that many see as the hero for the American working class, and a savior of the U.S. economy.

Trump’s unscrupulous ties to casino gambling alone should be enough to give any conservative serious pause when considering him as a presidential candidate. However, there is also the matter of his three marriages, his adultery, his previous support for abortion (even partial-birth abortion), his glaring ignorance of basic Christian doctrines and practices, and so on. (Matt Walsh chronicles many of Trump’s moral shortcomings here.) In other words, for most of his life, Trump has lived out well his “New York values.”

Trump’s tough comments on immigration have perhaps drawn him the most enthusiastic support. However, tough talk (something at which Trump seems to excel) is cheap. How can we trust that he will do what he says? Even the shallowest of political observers knows well that Washington, D.C. is one of the most difficult places in the world to remain a principled person. The temptations for corruption are rampant. What is there in Trump’s life that tells us that once he gets to D.C. he will act according to conservative principles? Nearly nothing.

On gambling and the government, Larry Burkett wrote, “When governments resort to enticing citizens to gamble to raise funds, we know the state of our society.” What does it say about our society if we elect a casino mogul as President of the United States?

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Woe to You, President Obama

In the spirit of Matthew 23 and Luke 11:

After Islamic terrorists shot up San Bernardino, President Obama stood before the American people to discuss his plans for guns. Knowing the President as we do, few were surprised.

Now then, when it comes to guns and violence, in a supposedly “real and relatable moment,” outwardly Obama weeps in public, but his politics is filled with bloodshed and wickedness. You foolish liberals! Did not the One who made the citizens of San Bernardino, the school children at Newtown, and the soldiers at Fort Hood, also make those in the womb? Are not the most innocent and defenseless among us worthy of protection?

You sit in the highest office in the land, President Obama, and many must do most everything you tell them. But they must not do as you do, for you do not practice what you preach. Whether Obamacare, taxes, your gun-control efforts, and the like, you put heavy burdens on the shoulders of American citizens, and you see a child in the womb as a “punishment.” You do many things merely for men to see. You make long speeches and seek important seats all over the world.

Woe to you, President Obama, because you have been educated at some of the highest institutions of learning in the world, and have taught constitutional law, yet you neglect true justice, and the love and law of God. You love your legacy so much that you will say almost anything to get your legislation passed.

Woe to you President Obama, teacher of constitutional law, you hypocrite! You travel over land and sea seeking solutions to problems that don’t exist. Yet, as the real problems of our culture loom large and clear, you ignore the Truth and go your own way.

Woe to you, blind liberal fools! You say that gender is however one wants to define it, yet you support the right to kill children in the womb based on their gender. You say the science that looks to the past—Darwinian evolution—and the science that looks to the future—man-made global warming—is clear and “settled,” yet, in the present, you ignore what is right before your eyes. You shed tears for dead children, yet support their slaughter in the womb.

Woe to you, liberal law makers, you hypocrites! You love to give away other people’s money, but you are not very generous with your own. In order to win elections, you promise to make things “free” (healthcare, education, child care, and the like), all the while piling up trillions of dollars in debt. You shed tears for dead children, yet you ignore that this is debt that our children, and grand-children, and great grand-children will have to repay.

Woe to You, President Obama, teacher of constitutional law. You claim to know the law, yet you wish to redefine the oldest institution in the history of humanity, and you ignore one of the earliest truths revealed by God. You shed tears for dead children, yet you undermine the institution so important to the wellbeing of all children.

Woe to You, President Obama, teacher of constitutional law. You appoint judges who pervert the eternal and unchangeable laws of the One true Law Giver.

Woe to You, President Obama, teacher of constitutional law. You ignore, or attempt to rewrite the law that our forefathers labored so diligently to give us. You work in the shadows of their memorials, yet you trample their legacy of liberty and justice for all.

Woe to You, President Obama, you hypocrite! You shed tears for the victims of gun violence, yet you did not cry for Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other Americans killed in Benghazi, Libya. On the contrary, you and your administration lied about the events surrounding the attack.

Woe to you, President Obama! Did you cry for the hundreds of victims of gun violence this past year from your home state of Illinois? Where are your tears for the tens-of-thousands of Middle Eastern Christians who are victims of violent Islamic extremism? Did you cry for the victims of Islamic extremism in Paris? Do you weep for the young girls kidnapped and made sex-slaves by violent Islamic extremists in Africa?

Woe to you, President Obama! You condemn the Crusades from centuries ago, yet you ignore the violent and oppressive nature of modern Islam. As millions the world over suffer and die under the wicked oppression of Islam, you refuse even to utter the word “Islamic” when describing the most violent and extreme cases.

Oh America, America, how long will we languish under the lies of liberalism? How long has our Creator longed to provide us refuge under his wings? We say, “In God We Trust,” but as we live our lives, far too many of us look to our own knowledge, wisdom, and power. We say we are free, but we have become slaves to sin and unrighteousness. We refuse to repent, and instead attempt to redefine sin. For America to be truly great, Americans must get off of the throne of our lives and give way to Him who reigns forever and ever.

Copyright 2016, 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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Roger Fitzpatrick is (again) Challenging Doug Collins in GA-9

Today, Roger Fitzpatrick (full disclosure: my wife's uncle) announced that he is going to challenge Republican Representative Doug Collins in Georgia's ninth congressional district. Collins is finishing up his second term in congress. Four years ago, Fitzpatrick ran against Collins in the republican primary for the newly formed GA-9. Mr. Fitzpatrick is again going to challenge Mr. Collins in the republican primary.

When asked about why he's decided to challenge Collins in the republican primary, Fitzpatrick said, "He's voting with establishment, he's voting with leadership and that's not what we sent him up there to do."

Roger is a strong Christian constitutional conservative. He's a former marine, and a retired middle school teacher and elementary school principal. He formerly served as president of the Lanier Tea Party Patriots, and currently serves on the White County school board. Win or lose, our district will be better off because of his candidacy.

"Brother Let Me Be Your Shelter"

"Brother" has been one of my favorite songs for months. It's by the Christian group "Needtobreathe." Lead vocals are performed by brothers Bear (named for football legend "Bear Bryant") and Bo Rinehart. Below is the official video, which includes vocals by Gavin DeGraw. Below that is an interesting acoustic version of the same song.

The acoustic version: