Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Made Me Laugh...

Check this out:

Merry Christmas!  (After trying a couple of your own, type in "Jingle Bell Rocks")

Till death do us part...part 2

I was extremely surprised and honored that John Marcotte responded to my previous blog and had some great comments. On a more serious note, let me address some of what he said in his comment.

John's Comment 1:

We're not talking about religious marriage here -- only civil marriage.

Daniel's Response 1:

I'm guessing John is saying that his satirical proposition is not trying to attack religious marriage but rather focus on how civil marriages should be viewed.

John's Comment 2:

The fact that my measure is seen by some as ridiculous validates the idea that Prop 8 voters are only willing to sacrifice other people's rights to protect marriage -- not their own.

Daniel's Response 2:

The statement contains several fallacies. First, John has probably picked up on the fact that many people don't view the fundamental idea behind his proposition as ridiculous. So, to say that "Prop 8 voters are only willing to sacrifice other people's rights..." seems unfair and imprecise. There are lots of people who would want to buy his t-shirt if he wasn't being satirical!  I hope he appreciates the irony.  Many would LOVE to make divorce more difficult and more rare. Many believe our society is worse off because of our high divorce rates.

Second, John is using the term "right" to refer to a recognition by the government of a union that has never been recognized before. Comparing that “right” to the process of divorce, which legal codes for thousands of years have provided for, seems extremely far-fetched. This is the subject for a different post, but I think Bork and others have done a good job arguing how the historical understanding of “rights” should inform our thinking when employing that term.

In short, allowing divorce does not fundamentally alter how our culture has defined marriage. At the very least, I wish opponents of Prop 8 would acknowledge that.

John's Question 1:

Does the government make a marriage sacred?

Daniel's Answer 1:

No. (Although I don’t perform a “religious” marriage apart from the assurance that the couple has gone through the necessary requirements that state sets for their union.)

John's Question 2:

And should the government enforce one religious view of marriage over others?

Daniel's Answer 2:

Several fundamental problems to the question.

First, what would be the “one” religious view? Is John referring to Christianity?  There are many religions (and non-religious beliefs) that define marriage as a union between a man and woman.

Second, what does John mean by "religious view"? We all have something that guides us in making value judgments. Perhaps your overriding value is liberty or individual freedom. But there must be some philosophical reason behind advocating that value.

John is making the assumption that those who supported Prop 8 did so for religious means. Again, this is painting those voters with a very broad brush! John is second assuming that our underlying views of what is morally right and wrong should not shape our view of what is best for our country if they stem from religious beliefs. If I called his beliefs “religious” because of his devotion to them, does that invalidate them?

I would suggest that this conception of how laws are made is a radical departure from historic policy theory.

Let's put John’s question another way: should one group's anti-religious bias influence policy decisions? Why not? I have every expectation that a person who views the expression of Judeo-Christian values as harmful in shaping policy will vote against them. I don’t go around saying their beliefs shouldn’t affect how they vote. It’s ludicrous.

John's Comment 3:

It's an interesting debate. I enjoy reading others opinions.

Daniel's Final Response:

I want to publically thank John for his gracious tone and comments. I had no idea he would be reading the letter I sent out to the church. I view this blog as my living room and am always excited when guests pop in from far-away parts!

This goes back to what I was saying in a previous post regarding the Manhattan Declaration. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about the gospel.

Having marriage be defined as a union between one man and one woman doesn’t proclaim the gospel. It’s the right thing to do for numerous reasons, but it’s not a religious statement.

But what gay right advocates rightly recognize is that the underlying force influencing my life is my desire to glorify God. My life has been transformed by placing my faith in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation and I understand why others might find that odd. My goal is not to win an argument on the merits or dangers of gay marriage. My goal is to share the message of Jesus Christ, encouraging everyone—including the church!—to turn from hypocrisy and sin and place their trust in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Till death do us part...

This is from the BCC weekly update...

John Marcotte is a very sarcastic man.

Marcotte was an opponent of Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot proposition that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It passed and Marcotte was none too happy about it. Now he is working on getting an initiative of his own on the ballot in California next year.

His initiative is entitled the 2010 California Marriage Protection Act and it would effectively ban divorce in the state. One of the slogans of the campaign: “You said, ‘Til death do us part.’ You’re not dead yet.”

Here's a picture of a shirt for sale on his website

Remember, Marcotte is being sarcastic—and cynical. He has no desire to really ban divorce. What he is trying to do is highlight what he perceives as the hypocrisy of those who supported the traditional definition of marriage. As he told the Associate Press, “Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more.”

Two things struck me when I read about Marcotte’s efforts. First, I think he truly believes that those who supported Proposition 8 are mostly hypocrites. They say they one thing about having a high view of marriage but practice another. He is attempting to caricature the religious right as people who attempt to regulate the morality of others but fail to follow their own moral message. I pray that he is wrong.

Second, I was struck by what this proposition says about our culture. The fact that his proposition is considered so ludicrous is an ominous sign of our times. After all, no one could be serious about wanting to make divorce more difficult to achieve. In our culture, a marriage license carries no more weight than the paper on which it is written.

What should our response be as Christians? First, we must have compassion for those who have experienced the pain of divorce. Many in our church family and community have felt the pain of a marriage ripped apart. We must communicate to all our brothers and sisters in Christ that there is healing and restoration in Him.

Second, we must boldly proclaim the importance of covenant faithfulness in marriage. Let us be careful to affirm the truth of God’s Word in Genesis 2:18-15:

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Recently, the president of the seminary I attend sent out an email discussing why he signed a document entitled, "The Manhattan Declaration." I was unfamiliar with the document and so I read his blog post Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration and checked out the document.

As much as I respect Dr. Mohler and many of the other signers of the document, I think they made a mistake in signing it. My email update to the church this week describes why:

{UPDATE: One signer clarifies his position: Kevin DeYoung's blog, TeamPyro weigh in: Nineteen Questions }.

Dear Bethany Community,

I am passionately, unashamedly, and whole-heartedly pro-life. So, when someone suggested to me recently that I sign a document supporting the pro-life cause, I was prepared to do so.

As I reviewed the document, entitled “The Manhattan Declaration,” I found myself in hearty agreement with its three primary affirmations: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Not only did I find myself in agreement with its general principles, I found that many evangelical leaders whom I highly esteem had already signed it, including men who have served or are serving as presidents at each of the three seminaries I have attended.

So why did I ultimately decide not to sign it?

The Manhattan Declaration does two things that I believe undermine the gospel. First, it refers to the gospel without ever defining what it is. The reader is left to define it however he or she may choose. Second, and related, it asserts unity in Christ among the signers of the document even though some of the primary signers of the document would reject the basic truth of the gospel that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone apart from our own works.

For example, it states: "It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty.” It also uses phrases such as “we Christians,” “we believers,” and “as followers of Jesus Christ” to describe the people signing the document.

But I do not have such unity with all the signers of this document, nor is the basis of unity—the gospel of Jesus Christ—defined. While I will pursue unity with the signers in fighting for the causes enumerated, we do not have unity in Christ simply because we both use the word “Christian.” We believe radically different things concerning how a person comes to faith in Christ.

My personal conviction is that by signing this document, I would be implying that we have unity on the most important issue in the universe—an issue in which we stand on different sides of an immense chasm.

If the document had merely advocated political positions, I would have had no problem signing it. I need not agree with others on theological issues to work toward political ends. But the document made theological assertions. It therefore crosses the line from being a political document—which I could support as a Christian—to making a theological statement about the nature of the gospel that I cannot support.

How important is the gospel?

It is more important than ending abortion. It is more important than preserving a traditional understanding of marriage. Yes, it is even more important than our own lives, brothers and sisters.

No one will ever come to Christ by simply opposing abortion. No legislation defining marriage will transform a child of wrath into a child of God.

May God end abortion in our land and may He give us the grace to work with individuals from all different creeds and religions in the political process. I strive for that and pray you do as well. May God preserve us from the unraveling of traditional marriage in our culture and may He give us the joy of working with those from different faiths toward that end.

But even more importantly, May God give us the ability to boldly proclaim the Good News of His Son Jesus Christ, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved!

By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel