Tuesday, November 25, 2008

De-Harmonious

In the "Please Tell Me This Isn't True" department, this Wall Street Journal story is downright scary and sad. The Christian match-maker, eHarmony.com has lost a lawsuit brought by a homosexual activist meant to force the service to cater to homosexuals ...
A settlement Wednesday between eHarmony Inc. and the New Jersey attorney general requires the online heterosexual dating service to also cater to homosexuals, raising questions about whether other services that target a niche clientele could be forced to expand their business models.

The settlement stemmed from a complaint, filed with the New Jersey attorney general's office by a gay match seeker in 2005, that eHarmony had violated his rights under the state's discrimination law by not offering a same-sex dating service. In 2007, the attorney general found probable cause that eHarmony had violated the state's Law Against Discrimination.

As part of the agreement, the Pasadena, Calif.-based company will develop and market Compatible Partners, a Web dating service for same-sex couples, and will allow the site's first 10,000 users to register free. EHarmony will also pay $50,000 to the attorney general's office and $5,000 to the man who first brought the case.
That was on Wednesday in New Jersey. On Thursday, in California, a second judge ruled that a class action lawsuit could proceed for the very same reason. In reaction to these announcements, Chemistry.com (another homosexual matching service) offered the following statement:
Unfortunately, those searching for non-judgmental love still won't be able to visit eHarmony to find it, and will instead be ushered off to an entirely separate site ... "It's a shame that Dr. Neil Clark Warren's (founder of eHarmony.com) sudden acceptance came at the forced hand of the legal system," said Thomas Enraght-Moony, CEO. "Since its inception, Chemistry.com has lived by the mantra of 'Come as You Are,' an open-minded philosophy that permeates the brand and encourages anyone and everyone to find that indescribable feeling of falling in love."
First, the scary part ... Why would Chemistry.com find it "unfortunate" that e-Harmony had to be forced to set up "an entirely separate site"? Because they'll have new competition? Maybe, but I don't think so. These homosexual activists are not motivated by competition or equality. Don't be fooled.

These folks are motivated by the forced imposition of their view on you and me. They will not stop until you and I have publicly accepted their moral choices as being legitimate.

As Michelle Maulkin points out:
Don't like what eHarmony sells? Go somewhere else. There are thousands upon thousands of dating sites on the Internet that cater to gays, lesbians, Jews, Muslims, Trekkies, runners, you name it. No matter. In the name of tolerance, McKinley refused to tolerate eHarmony's right to operate a lawful business that didn't give him what he wanted.
Make no mistake, these folks don't care about equal rights anymore. Their aim is to bring the full force of the law and government down on your head until you capitulate. That's what is scary.

What's sad is that eHarmony capitulated.

I understand that it was a business decision for eHarmony to cave to this homosexual shakedown. It was going to cost them a lot of money to continue to fight this out in court. And, quite frankly, winning in court is a dubious prospect these days where these kinds of issues are concerned. But, in my opinion, the stakes involved warranted a sacrificial fight. It is not just that eHarmony agreed to setup a separate website and payout money. There is more, much more, to the settlement:
-- eHarmony, Inc. will post photos of same-sex couples in the "Diversity" section of its website as successful relationships are created using the company's same-sex matching service. In addition, eHarmony, Inc. will include photos of same-sex couples, as well as individual same-sex users, in advertising materials used to promote its same-sex matching services;

-- eHarmony, Inc. will revise anti-discrimination statements placed on company websites, in company handbooks and other company publications to make plain that it does not discriminate on the basis of "sexual orientation";

-- the company has committed to advertising and public relations/ marketing dedicated to its same-sex matching service, and will retain a media consultant experienced in promoting the "fair, accurate and inclusive" representation of gay and lesbian people in the media to determine the most effective way of reaching the gay and lesbian communities.
In other words, their agreement amounts to condoning wholesale acceptance of the homosexual agenda. Neil Clark Warren is an outspoken Evangelical Christian whose website targets the Christian community. For that reason alone eHarmony should have kept up the fight. And make no mistake, it is a fight.

This is not to condone mistreatment of homosexuals. Far from it. We are commanded to demonstrate love and kindness toward all human beings, regardless of their moral choices. Indeed we are called to be more forgiving, and less judgmental, of those who are not believers. But that doesn't mean we cannot judge what is right and wrong.

As I said, the homosexual activists mentioned here are not out for equal treatment. As Michelle Maulkin points out above, they already have that. They can list themselves on any homosexual-friendly internet matchmaker site they wish. But that's not good enough for them. They want to force all such organizations -- most especially those that overtly represent the Christian faith -- to bow to their demands. This is no different than in California, where homosexuals can enter into "domestic partnerships" and gain all the rights of married couples. That isn't good enough. They tried to force the issue and demand that the the institution of marriage, which has existed for thousands of years in every culture around the world, be completely redefined to include same-sex couples. When the voters approved Proposition 8, thereby upholding society's definition of marriage and denying them that label, the homosexuals rioted in the streets.

Obviously, this is not the final battle that will be fought in this component of the culture war. But it is a bad precedent to set. This is not about the Bible's view on homosexuality. That is not debatable (though many try to debate it). This is about what has made societies viable and healthy for thousands of years of human history. This is about overturning what makes societies work by redefining the building block of those societies -- the nuclear family. Make no mistake, it is most definitely not about equal rights. It is about the imposition of special recognition for those who deny the way the world is meant to work.

This week a small skirmish in a larger battle was lost. We need to stay awake and listen for the next attack. The enemies of the natural order are chipping away at the foundation of what it means to be human -- and we are lending them the chisel.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Speaking of The Gospels

To follow up on my last post, a friend sent me a link to a great synopsis of the issues surrounding the oral tradition I mentioned. It is actually one in a series of 15 articles regarding the "Historical Reliability of the Gospels." If you have any interest in these things, or if you have been asked about them and couldn't find an answer, I would suggest this as a great starting point. From here you can sift through the other related articles

Enjoy ...

The Gospel Traditions: Melt In Your Mouth?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Archeology Verifies The Bible (Again)

I try to highlight new finds that support the claims of the Bible whenever I run across them. [By the way, many thanks to those of you who have forwarded me articles etc. that serve that purpose. I greatly appreciate it] But honestly, especially when you consider scientific evidence that is consistent with the Biblical worldview, it is almost impossible to keep up with them.

The best place to keep informed of the scientific data is at Reasons To Believe's website. Hugh Ross, Fuz Rana, Jeff Zweerink, Dave Rogstad, and Ken Samples (the RTB Scholar team), or one of their invited guests, update this site every day with new scientific evidence. Yes, that's right, I said every day. They call this feature Today's New Reason To Believe (TNRTB) and, quite frankly, I am appalled that I haven't ever mentioned it on here before. If you've got a lot of time on your hands, they have an archive of past articles that you can check out or search for topics that may specifically interest you. You can link to the archive HERE.

That said, I wanted to offer a couple of other stories that are not scientifically related. The first concerns an archaeological find in south Jerusalem.
An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he believes is the oldest known Hebrew inscription on a 3,000-year-old pottery shard -- a find that suggests Biblical accounts of the ancient Israelite kingdom of David could have been based on written texts ... He said the relic is strong evidence that the ancient Israelites were literate and could chronicle events centuries before the Bible was written. This could suggest that some of the Bible's accounts were based on written records as well as oral traditions -- adding credence to arguments that the Biblical account of history is more than myth.
Another take on this same story is HERE.
archaeologists digging in Israel at the site where David is believed to have slain Goliath have unearthed evidence that may give credence to the biblical story.
This one is interesting because many maintain that the Biblical history we have now is nothing more than fairy tales that were passed down via the "telephone game" and are therefore unreliable. Not so.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Talk Is Cheap"

Sam DillardSomeone once said that "what you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you say." I have always heard that line issued in the pejorative about someone who talks a good game but is possessed of a failed character. It isn't often that we run into someone whose character works the other way. Sam Dillard is just such a person. He was not a man of many words. He didn't try to impress anyone with his knowledge or status. But his character spoke volumes. He just tried to walk the walk. And he was awfully good at walking.

In 1977 Sam Dillard walked out of Evangel University and onto the playing fields of Cincinnati Christian High School where he, without any previous soccer experience, became the soccer coach. Thirty-one years later, Sam won yet another award for his coaching prowess in the the Miami Valley Conference. "True to form, he accepts that award in front of all these league peers of his, and instead of talking about himself or his season, the only thing he talked about was God," [CCS Superintendent] Dan Bragg said. "He was all about administering and discipling kids. Soccer was just something he did. He wanted to make sure kids grew up with character and discipline and became better people for being part of his program."

That is an understatement.

You could often see Sam Dillard's lips moving when he did the "Sammy Shuffle" around the soccer field. But Sam wasn't talking to himself. He was praying.

You could often see Sam Dillard speechless after a big game -- speechless because he couldn't make himself talk through the flood of emotion he was experiencing. Sam wasn't sad for having lost, and he wasn't elated for having won, he was speechless for being so honored as to serve Christ through the medium of sports -- for making young men good athletes but, more importantly, good men.

You could often hear Sam Dillard giving motivational speeches to his teams. But he wasn't motivating them toward athletic honors or achievement -- he was motivating them to put Christ at the center of everything they did. If they did that, he told them, they would win the game of life. Sports was just an add-on.

You can read about those he touched here but let me summarize: Three of my sons played soccer for this man and none of them will ever forget the impact he made on their lives. They don't call me "sir," but they did call Sam that, and that is just fine with me. I can't think of anyone else for whom I would be more honored to yield that respect. Sam Dillard inspired young men to do more than they ever imagined, to impact their world in all the ways that really matter, and to go out and turn that world upside down. If anyone could motivate them to do that, it was Sam.

This year, the Varsity Soccer team had practice shirts made up that said, "Talk is cheap." It's not an original saying of course, but the story behind having that saying put on their shirts came from Sam's interpretation of Proverbs 14:23:

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Sam worked his teams hard for only one reason: He wanted them to earn the respect and riches of a life that reflects the character of Christ. There is only one right way to do that and it doesn't come by just talking about it. It comes through a life well lived -- a life like Sam Dillard's.

Rest in Peace, Sir.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This Is What We're Up Against

"I think I feel more sorry for the dogs ..."

"I can't vote for someone who hunts."

These are two quotes I've heard recently that I simply cannot get out of my head. When we say that we are engaged in a battle of ideas, I can't imagine anything that could demonstrate how the average person thinks than these. I will explain them below but please hear me before I do. One of these quotes comes as a response to an issue that is near and dear to my heart and that I have commented on recently. The other has a political element to it and comes from someone with whom I completely disagree politically. But please understand that I couldn't care less about my charitable priorities with the first, or my political differences with the second.

All I want to point out is the thinking behind the quotes ... what brought these folks to say the words they said. Maybe I'm warped, or maybe I'm the one who doesn't understand the way things are, but I have to say that I cannot comprehend how someone's mind could utter thoughts like these. Here goes ...

"I think I feel more sorry for the dogs ..."

Two of my most recent posts revolved around our recent family trip to Monterrey, Mexico with Back-2-Back Ministries (here and here). On our last work day down there, we went to a place the Back-2-Back staff call Rio 3. Rio 3 is a neighborhood (for lack of a better word) situated near a mostly dry river bed. In reality it amounts to a refugee camp inhabited by those the government cannot support and wants out of the city. These people are allowed to "squat" in this area on land that was previously used as a landfill. The place is a garbage dump ... and it smells like one. Mangy, diseased dogs with their ribs plainly in sight roamed slowly around the streets. The "homes" of these poor people are made mostly of the trash and scraps of things they can cobble together into some form of shelter. There are plywood, cardboard and corrugated steel shacks. They have bricks and cinder blocks (and in one case we saw, a toilet) sitting on the roof -- if they have a roof -- to hold it down. There is no way to sufficiently describe the filth and poverty of this place.

The church we worked in there was like a light to moths for the people who lived in Rio 3. Children and their mothers (notably, not a single man showed up) came running for a Sunday afternoon celebration. They sang, ate and received school supplies that most of us would never give a second thought -- and thanked us as if we had given them bars of gold. They were so thankful, and seemingly so content, living in a place that was so disgusting, it was hard to believe what we were seeing. So, without boring you with all the details, the entire scene brought many of us to tears.

On the way home a few of us floated the idea of organizing some sort of fundraising project to help provide service equipment that would go to help serve these kids and the others from the orphanages Back-2-Back supports. Then, a week or so ago, my wife approached a professional who we thought might be able to assist us with that project (I am purposefully being vague about the details so as not to identify the person or the "service" I am referring to here). When Mary told the story of these kids, the first quote above was the response she got: "I think I feel more sorry for the dogs ..."

"I can't vote for someone who hunts."

This one I owe to a recent radio podcast with Greg Koukl of Stand To Reason (you can go here to listen for yourself -- the relevant discussion is near the middle of the first hour of the 10/27/2008 show). In summary, Greg relates the story of a woman who overheard the conversation he and his wife were having about the Presidential election and Barack Obama's position on the abortion issue -- that he was the only Illinois Senator who voted against a measure that would have protected the life of a baby who survived an abortion attempt. President-elect Obama thought the baby deserved no such protection. A woman heard this and said that she was voting for Obama:

Greg: "Really? What accomplishments of Senator Obama do you think qualify him to be the most powerful man in the world?"

Woman: "Well, I never thought of it that way."

Greg: "Are you pro-life?" (he asked this because this was the topic she had overheard that drew her into the conversation)

Woman: (pause) ... "Yes."

Greg: "Do you realize what his record is on the issue?"

Woman: "I can't vote for someone who hunts."

Now, forget the politics, the qualification issue and the candidate involved. It doesn't matter who it is. Just look at the thinking methodology. Who is the woman referring to when she utters the quote in question?

Since she has claimed to be voting for Obama, she must be referring to his opposition. John McCain may or may not hunt, I have no idea. It wouldn't surprise me if he did. But who is notable for her hunting proclivities? Sarah Palin, of course -- the Republican Vice Presidential candidate. The upshot is that this supposed pro-lifer is voting for a presidential candidate who is so extremely pro-abortion he defends and supports literal infanticide. Yet she is voting for him because the vice presidential candidate of the other party likes to hunt wild animals.

I really don't know how to approach those who think like these people. How do you use rational arguments to engage in a discussion of any issue with people whose minds are rigged this way? And make no mistake, there are millions of them.The enormity of the problem discourages me sometimes.

Please don't miss my point. I am not so arrogant as to think that anyone who disagrees with me is just plain moronic. That is not the point at all. What is so discouraging to me is the way people think about what I consider some of the most basic and important issues of our, or any, time: the dignity and value of human life. Why is it worth protecting? Why should we value it at all? We can never agree on the answers to such questions if we don't even know how to go about considering them.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Crossing Borders: Considering What The Other Hand Is Doing

I want to offer an insight that my friend Jim Betscher shared with us during our recent trip to Monterrey, Mexico. Jim is an incredible guy. After visiting the Back-2-Back Ministry several times with his daughter, he was so moved by the enormity of the mission there, and so enamored with the staff and kids there, that he sold his house and moved to Monterrey to work full time. Jim has been there for over 2 years now and cannot stop himself from telling anyone who will listen how much he loves what he does.

During one of our conversations, Jim made what I thought was a stunningly astute observation about how differently the Mexican and American churches approach the plight of the poor.

First, the missionary workers in Mexico have observed that it is like pulling teeth to solicit aid from the local churches in Monterrey. The church there (in general) seems blissfully unaware of this. Either that or they are unwilling to get involved with the poor that are so obviously living among them. It is not like they are hard to see. They are everywhere. And maybe that is the problem. There are so many poor, living in such atrocious conditions, that the enormity of the problem may seem overwhelming. It is easier to just pretend it doesn't exist.

At the same time, those in the American church spend incredible resources to not only give financially to the causes of the poor in Mexico, but to travel there and get personally involved in the work themselves. Jim is amazed by the contrast. The Mexican church is unconcerned or uninvolved (as is the Mexican government, but that's another story), while the American church pours countless resources into the effort.

But, if you are an American, don't pat yourself on the back too quickly.

Jim's second observation, after having witnessed what goes on with these orphan kids for several years now, is his amazement at how the Mexican believers are completely reliant on God for everything they have and do. These are people who sometimes wake up to an empty cupboard or go to bed without any possessions but the clothes on their backs. Yet they never seem to complain. They are completely convinced that "God will provide," and He does -- repeatedly. Sometimes the provision simply comes through the compassionate service of those who support Back-2-Back, but other times the provision is nothing less than miraculous. Jim and others can tell stories that will give you chills. And they can tell you those stories over and over again.

Meanwhile, in the American church, relying on God seems to be a novel, if not disappearing idea. We are so self-sufficient, so bountifully showered with material possessions, that we forget from whom those blessings flow. And I don't mean to speak too generally because I most assuredly count myself among those who reflect this attitude. We regularly throw away food and other essential items that anyone in the Mexican communities we visited would count as blessed abundance.

So while it is commendable that we Americans are known to be so generous an example for helping others around the world, we could also use some work in remembering how blessed we really are to able to do so.

Just something for all of us to consider ...

And while you're at it, I would encourage anyone who reads this to consider helping Jim and the Back-2-Back Ministry do what they do so well. You can do so HERE!