Monday, July 25, 2011

The Moral Decline of America - Are We Already Over the Edge?

Awhile back, Glenn Beck made a statement that offended conservatives. He said that same-sex marriage would never destroy America. How could this unrelenting attack on marriage not be the final nail in the coffin of the family? How could it not bring down God's wrath on us? Yet, Beck is right. Same-sex marriage isn't the reason for God's wrtath, but the result. Let me explain.

Same-sex marriage will not bring down God's wrath on America, because it is already upon us. In Romans 1:18, Paul writes chilling words, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness." Paul further explains that God Himself placed within each of us a God-consciousness, a conscience perhaps; plus God has revealed Himself abundantly in nature. So no man has an excuse for not recognizing God.

If this knowledge of God is suppressed, God's wrath comes upon us. Oh, not in the Sodom and Gomorrah way, but God simply lets us destroy ourselves. As the old saying goes, God gives us enough rope to hang ourselves, and we do. There's enough evidence to lead anyone to God, but men reject Him and suppress that knowledge. Therefore, God gives them over to their own sinful passions to reap the awful consequences of thier sin.

The rest of the chapter in Romonas elaborates the consequences, and they might not be what you would expect. Romans 1:24-29 says, "Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies amongst themselves. . . for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men, committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."

The point is these evils manifest the wrath of God. Is is Galatians 6:7, "God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." George Mason, Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention, said, "As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be punished in this. By the inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence [God] punishes national sin by national clamaities."

As a society, have we suppressed knowledge of God? Absolutely, and with predictable consequences. We officially did as a nation in 1963 in Abbington versus Schempp when the Supreme Court first repudiated the Bible and its teaching in public affairs by banning Bible reading in public schools (then banning prayer the following year). Since then, there have been scores of cases overturning long standing practices stemming from God's law.

It is so prevalent now, that Arleen Ocasio, director of the Houston National Cemetary, tried to ban using the names of "God" or Jesus" at funerals, or saying "God bless you" to grieving families. She thought the ban was consistent with national policies.

There is a self imposed absence of God in public America. The results? Quoting historian David Barton, "As a result of the reversals, the United States is now number one in the world in violent crime, divorce, ilegal drug use; number one in the industrial world in teenage pregnancies; and number one in the industrial world in illiteracy. We have always been a world leader; however, since 1962-63, we have begun to lead the world in many of the wrong categories."

Back in the 80s, William Bennett, former Secretary of Education and Drug Czar, chronicled the decline by listing the changes since 1963 in "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators." Violent crime increased 560%. Illigitimate births increased 419%. Divorces were up 400%. Child abuse increased 340%. Teenage suicide was up 200%. S.A.T. scores dropped 80% in spite of massive funding. These trends are frightening. Our country went over a cliff morally. The destruction of the traditiional family continues with disatrous consequences.

This is the wrath of God upon us. Truly we live in a decadent society, but as Cal Thomas noted, "Our major social problems are not the cause of our decadence. They are the reflection of it." Our decadence reflects our attitude about God and His Word. We have repudiated His Word as a nation, so God has given us up to do whatever we please. This is destroying us!

Let's reverse this. Rebecca Hagelin writes, "Unless we are willing to stand. . . our children may grow up in a society slowly crumbling under the weight of its own pervrrsity."

Friday, July 8, 2011


Credit where credit is due, I say. So today, even before challenging the church, I give credit to those who again push same-sex marriage. Even though I oppose your agenda with every fiber of my being, I take my hat off to you for a number of reasons.

I do so first for the way you stick to it. Your unwillingness to give up in the face of repeated defeats is impressive. Ann Coulter says that there is never a permanent victory over a liberal. She's right. You keep trying and trying, and you've even won some victories, especially through the courts imposing your "new morality" on a few states.

That's why, following your legislative victory in New York allowing same-sex marriage, I expected you to begin the petition drive here in Maine again within the week. No matter that the voters in 2009 rejected same-sex marriage by a hefty 53 to 47 percent margin, or the fact that every time people get to vote you lose, I knew you would try again. Sure enough, last Thursday, June 7Th, you began your petition drive to get the issue on the ballot again in 2012.

Now on Wednesday,August 17th, the Maine Secretary of State approved language for your citizen's initiative. You are off and running. The political battle is on again.

We in the church can learn from you. We finish a battle then get back to our normal lives, usually exhausted. I doubt that Bishop Malone or Pastor Bob Emrich feel up to spearheading another protracted political fight. Nor are the people of Maine. Marc Mutty of the Portland diocese of the Roman Catholic Church said,
"The people of this state rejected same-sex marriage in November of 2009 and should not be put through what will likely be another diivisive, drawn out campaign."
You know that. Yet, as the church, WE MUST AGAIN MOBILIZE to defend Biblical marriage. We need your ability to stick-to-it.

My hat is also off to your public relations campaign. Almost daily your cheerleaders in the Bangor Daily News make absurd claims with no references to sources. Claims that 10 to 15% of the population are homosexual when any legitimate survey can find only about 2%. Claims there is a gay gene in the DNA code predetermining homosexuality, when no gene can ever be identified. Claims that children are just as well off with two aprents of the same sex in spite of many studies to the contrary.

And, of course, equating your behavioral choice to the racial struggle for equality was a stroke of genius. Who can be against equality, right? Even your name, Equality Maine, makes it hard to resist. And that allows you to tell us we are on the wrong side of the moral issue, and call us homophobes and hate-mongers if we oppose your so-called equality. Yet, the real issue isn't equality, but morality, and same-sex marriage is simply, morally wrong. Michael Youssef claims, "Every issue is a moral issue." This one certainly is.

You've claimed your cause is similar to the court case of Loving versus Virginia. Virginia law made it a crime for Mildred and Richard Loving to marry because they were an interracial couple. However, they were fighting for the right to become a traditional marriage between one man and one woman, not trying to redefine the very definition of marriage. When the Supreme Court upheld their right in June of 1967, they ruled in favor of traditional marriage, not against it. I'm surproised that the black community isn't up in arms over the way you try to make your case equilivilent to thiers.

The Supreme Court understood then that the essential public purpose of marriage was to bind one male and one female together and to the children their sexual activity might produce, knowing that children do better in a home with a mother and a father. That is still true and the reason traditional, Biblical marriage is worth defending.

Same-sex marriage disconnects marriage from its most basic purpose. Quoting Jeff Jacoby,
"Marriage - male female marriage - is indispensable to human welfare. That is why it has existed in virtually every known human society. And why it cannot, and will not, be permanently redefined."
Thousands of years of collected wisdom shouldn't be thrown overboard, and no society until now has ever established same-sex marriage.

I also take my hat off to you for your effective use of questionable polling data. As they say, figures don't lie, but liars figure. Polling data can be fertile ground for liars. We repeatedly hear nowadays that a majority of people approve same-sex marriage. Really? If you say something over and over and over again, it doesn't make it so. When the Alliance Defense Fund and Public Opinion Strategies conducted a scientific national poll from May 16Th through 19Th of this year, they got entirely different results. They found that 62%, a solid majority in any body's reckoning, believed that, "marriage should be defined as a union between one man and one woman." These findings line up well with the actual results when voters go to the polls.

People, we need to think right. Proverbs 1:7 says,
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge , but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
Without beginning with the fear of the Lord, it's amazing where our human reasoning will take us - yes, even to calling thoise standing for Biblical morality bigoted hate-mongers while demanding a complete remaking of the definition of marriage. Now we see Isaiah 5:20 lived out before our eyes. It says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil." We cannot stand by and allow them to stand moralitiy on its head.

Now to address the church (and all who believe traditional marriage is worth defending), I quote the hymn of William P. Merrill,
"Rise up, O church of God! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of Kings."

We can win this battle again. Thirty two states have put marriage protection on the ballot, and all thirty two have won. In the ten states of the south where people have voted, traditional marriage won by an average of 71.44%. Even in Ohio, in 2004 they passed a state constituional amendment by 62% protecting marriage. We've alredy won once in Maine.

Back in 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe versus Wade that unborn babies could be deprived of their right to life and be killed in the womb, the church mostly remained silent. In their generation, they abdicated the fight over the biggest moral issue of their day. Same-sex marriage is the biggest moral issue of our day. Don't let our children and grandchildren have to ask us why we sat out the fight, if we lose anther great battle. This battle can be won. It will be, if we rise up and get to work.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Should We Think About Gambling?

Gambling was back in the news this week making the front page of the Bangor Daily News on Thursday. Governor LePage is reported as threatening to veto a bill (L.D. 1418) allowing blackjack, poker, and other table games at Hollywood Slots in Bangor.

In 2003, voters approved Hollywood Slots to operate about 1,500 slot machines.
The new bill would allow them to compete with the voter approved casino being built in Oxford County. This bill along with others proposing new racinos in Calais, Biddeford, and Lewiston are making their way through the process in Augusta.

What should we think about this issue? Since these bills require voter referendum, it is a political issue up for debate. Since it is also a moral issue, I urge the churches to actively enter this debate.

Surprisingly, the church is relatively silent on the issue. The church was not always silent. An unknown preacher in second century North Africa preached, "Gambling is like the devil's hunting sphere and those who play the dice are wounded with an irresistible allurement. . . The gambling board is the devil's snare and the enemy's trap which indices greed but in actuality brings utter ruin."

St. Augustine said, "The devil invented gambling." John Calvin caused gambling to be outlawed in Geneva. Martin Luther said, "Money won by gambling is not won without self-seeking and sin."

In the early years of our country, gambling was widespread. However, when the evangelical church raised her voice, the blight was rolled back. By 1884, legal gambling had disappeared from America. It wasn't until 1964 that New Hampshire discovered the lottery as a cash cow, and government sponsored gambling came back into favor. Now 37 states prey on the poorest if their citizens with lotteries, and there are some 500 casinos across the the land. It's time the church raised her voice again.

There are Biblical reasons to oppose gambling. I won't take time to make a full case, but here is a sampling of reasons. George Washington stated, "Gambling is the child of avarice, or greed, the brother of iniquity and the father of mischief." That's Biblical. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, "Take heed and beware of every form of greed, for one's life doesn not consist of the things he possesses."

Furthermore, since gambling seeks to make a killing at the expense of someone else, it violates the second great commandment. Jesus told us that,second only to loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Quoting Pastor John MacArthur,
"The success of gambling is based on certain sins. If these sins didn't exist, gambling wouldn't either. The sins that support gambling are materialism, greed, discontent, expoitaion, laziness, distrust of God's provision, disdain for the virtues of labor, irresponsible stewardship, and indifference to those in need."

The devastation that gambling does to society should also be a reason for the church to raise her voice. 500 billion dolalrs is legally wagered every year in America. If you add in illegal gambling, the total raises to an estimated one trillion dollars. There are approximately ten million compulsive gamblers, more than the number of alcoholics. With that much money involved and that many compulsive gamblers, trouble is surely brewing. And it is.

By 1995, studies indicated that 95% of Americans gambled, 82% played the lottery, 75% played slot machines, 50% bet on dogs or horses, 44% bet on cards, 34% played bingo, and 74% frequented casinos. We spend more on gambling that on music, movies, and all other entertainment combined, and more than we spend on all professional sports combined. That's only what is spent legally. People earning less than $10,000 annually buy more lottery tickets than any other income groupo.

Atlantic City shows what happens to a city that allows gambling. It's population shrank 20% since 1976. Crime is up 380%. The police force has doubled. Half of the 2,100 businesses have closed. Four of the past six mayors have been indicted for corruption. According to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, casino gambling is a magnet for street crime. 40% of white collar crime is caused by compulsive gambling. We haven't even talked about the devastation that gambling causes in the homes of compulsive gamblers.

God said in Genesis 3:19. "By the seat of your brow you shall eat bread." Proverbs 12:11 says, "He who till his land shall be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding." God has ordained a method of gaining wealth. It is called work. Gambling offers the fantasy of getting rich without work. It is just that - a fantasy.

Gambling is not good for our community. With gambling, no new wealth is created. Wealth is simply transferred from the hands of the many to the hands of the few. Gambling produces nothing. It adds nothing to the larger economy. Instead, it harms most those who can least afford it. Quoting MacArthur, "It is a plague on our culture (and every culture where it has been legalized), and Christians should not be silent or neutral about it."