Here are voices of the ungodly.
29 March 2019
Here are voices of the ungodly.
God gives us free will to choose to sin or not to sin, women should get that same free will when it comes to abortions.
With the recent changes in New York laws, there's been quite a bit of buzz around the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate. Specifically, I've noticed a lot of pro-life supporters using religion to justify their political stance.
Well, I am a Christian and while I personally find abortion to be immoral for any reason other than serious risk, but I also do not and will not support the pro-life agenda.
Think about it this way: If you go all the way to the beginning the Bible, to the story of Adam and Eve, you'll notice something specific. God told them not to eat the forbidden fruit, but he didn't make it impossible for them to eat it. He warned them that there would be consequences if they did but again did not make it impossible to eat it.
Adam and Eve both had free will. They were allowed to make their own choice. God never took away our free will. He wants us to choose him and to choose to follow His Word. Not being obligated to, not be forced to, not be coerced to, not be guilted to. He WANTS us to choose.
The fact is that we all sin. We all make less than stellar decisions from time to time. It's not my job as a Christian to force other people to make the same decisions that I would make.
It also not my job to pass judgment for making a decision that I think is wrong. At the end of the day, I don't get to make that judgment call. God does. I'm not standing next to God helping him decide who goes to hell and who doesn't. And neither are you.
As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Notice how there aren't any stipulations in that statement. It doesn't say "love your neighbor only if they do everything I think they should." It doesn't say "love your neighbor unless they've had an abortion. If they've done that, then feel free to hate them."
It just says to love our neighbors. We are called to love them through the highs and the lows, the good and the bad.
God gives us the ability to choose. Who are we to take that right away from anyone else?
... because staying spiritual after Christmas can be a struggle.
During Christmas time and at the end of the year people get really excited for the season of giving. It's a time where you see family and visit people a lot, but most of all give gifts. However after the "season of giving" passes and a lot of the excitement is gone, what happens to us spiritually? Do we give up and wait to next Christmas to thank God for all the challenges and accomplishments he has given us among other things, check-in every now and then, become inspired to get involved in a campus ministry or church? What is the next step and why can't we be present all the time instead of just for the holidays?
With the encouraging distraction of gift-giving through television, I feel giving and receiving gifts is the top priority instead of worshiping God during the holiday season. Some of us may be grounded in faith exclusively for the holiday season, year-round, sometimes, or not at all.
For the people that are confused about being spiritual or religious of any kind, I'm with ya. Until this year, I've lived my whole life thinking I was so "righteous" and "religious" when really that's not true at all. I've always identified as a Christian and went to church on and off my whole life, but no one ever explained to me what being a Christian or religious really meant. Or for the most important part, how to grow my faith.
While growing up in a Presbyterian church, all I wanted to know was how to grow my faith and sadly I felt I never got the answer to that question. All I received and learned from those years was: yes we're all sinners, we're only human, and random historical sermons from The Bible(yes I know it's the holy book but I'm not learning if growing your faith isn't mentioned or applied). After four years of hearing the same message, I left my church. I realized faith is never a competition and always about acceptance and purpose.
After feeling disconnected from a church for months, I felt tired and explored a couple of campus ministries during my first semester of college and stopped because they weren't the right fit. However, while attending these church groups, I learned more about how to grow my faith more in months than in the years of childhood going to a church of my parents choice. Leaving discouraged, I regret not motivating myself to find the right campus ministry for me but have spring semester to fix it.
My point is that we all have the opportunity to fix our religious issues anytime. Whether it is talking to someone who is involved in a church, has been connected in their faith for a long time, or puts God first always, someone will give you guidance on what to do. There's no need for embarrassment or shame about not being religious, but instead being honest with yourself on how and how much you want to improve. It's impossible for everyone to be a spiritual or at least a Christian. But if we at least try a little, it will make a world of difference.
The publicly shamed are deprived of being viewed as human beings, but rather punching bags for holier-than-thou outsiders to feel virtuous about themselves.
"I learned many things in prison that were terrible to learn, but I learnt some good lessons that I needed."
Oscar Wilde wrote the above quote to his friend Carlos Blacker, who escaped England for France in 1890 after being falsely accused of being a card cheat. Wilde himself, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, was accused and imprisoned for "acts of gross indecency," essentially for having homosexual relationships with multiple men.
Blacker and Wilde were two men who are described by Helen Andrews of First Things as "history's martyrs to shame," as both British men were publicly smeared and accused of crimes and had their reputations ruined, and were subsequently exiled from their homes. The charges against Oscar Wilde were true while the charges against Blacker were false, but it did not make any difference in the two men's experiences in public shaming and condemnation.
Fittingly, in a lesser known historical fact, in 1898, Wilde and Blacker provided critical information in exposing the French military officer who communicated French military secrets to the German embassy. The officer was named Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, but, in a scandal fraught with antisemitism, was pinned on a young Jewish officer named Alfred Dreyfus. I cannot help but see that Wilde and Blacker may have empathized with Dreyfus as they themselves were once publicly condemned, shamed, and crucified men who went through hell and back.
"Of all history's martyrs to shame, the one whose example consoled me most was Oscar Wilde. He is remembered today as a gay rights pioneer, but, in the letters he wrote after his release from prison, he never rails against the injustice of the law that put him away," wrote Helen Andrews of First Things.
Andrews herself had been publicly shamed in her conservative circles: her ex-boyfriend, Todd Seavey, went into a 4-minute rant about her personal failings. "He accused me of opposing Obamacare on the grounds that it would diminish human suffering, which allegedly I preferred to increase...of being a sadistic and scheming heartbreaker in my personal life...he made an impassioned case that I was a sociopath."
Andrews would later find it difficult to be employed - anywhere. A simple Google search of her name would yield a video on C-SPAN of Todd's tirade against her that depicted her as a sociopath. The next couple years of her life would be nothing short of hell, and Todd, for his credit, didn't hold up much better during this time. He, too, had trouble getting a job and had many aspects of his life ruined. When Helen Andrews re-connected with Todd and asked him if he would do things any differently, he said he has become a big proponent of handling things internally and privately.
"In the future, if I get married, if my wife stabs me, you won't hear me shouting in public about it."
According to Andrews, in her essay about public shaming and "shame storms," no one cares about the truth, which was why the experiences of Oscar Wilde and Carlos Blacker were so similar. "There is no content to a shame storm. It is mindless by its very nature. It is indifferent to truth, even in cases where the truth could possibly be determined."
To be shamed, for both of them, felt like a tsunami hitting a home. In the words of Todd, "at a certain point you have to say, 'I'm just gonna stand here and hold this piece of plywood and see what's left standing when it's over.'"
The publicly shamed are deprived of being viewed as human beings, but rather punching bags for holier-than-thou outsiders to feel virtuous about themselves. The publicly shamed are fundamentally misunderstood, in situations where they are condemned so strongly that no one wants to listen or give them a chance. The publicly shamed have been given up on so many times and have so many knives in their backs that trust issues, betrayal, and devastation are no longer occasional events, but seemingly everyday occurrences.
Let it be known that almost everyone has, at some point, publicly shamed someone else. I certainly know that I have. It feels good. It gives you a dopamine rush. It divides your world into a black-and-white spectacle, where there is only, in the words of Katie Roiphe, the "flawless and the fallen, the morally correct and the damned." Who doesn't want to see themselves as one of the flawless and morally correct? Roiphe continues to say that "inherent in this performance of moral purity is the idea of judging other people before learning (or bothering to learn) all the facts." It feels great to live in the simple world of good and evil, rather than in the convoluted and complicated world where every single person is profoundly good, yet profoundly flawed.
Roiphe herself details how she felt in an instance where she herself engaged in publicly shaming, with a friend, a mutual acquaintance of theirs that had been accused of sexual assault: "the outrage grew and expanded and exhilarated us...I felt as though I were joining a club, felt a warming sense of social justice, felt that this was a weighty, important thing we were engaging in."
It should come as no surprise, then, that those who are publicly shamed the hardest are so devastated they often turn to suicide: OJ Simpson threatened to kill himself in a young Kim Kardashian's bedroom at the beginning of his infamous trial. Writer and professor Steven Galloway was put on round-the-clock suicide watch for two and a half years after being publicly accused of sexual assault and wrongfully suspended by his university. Producer Jill Messick, who was outed as a "Harvey Weinstein enabler", committed suicide shortly afterwards.
The gist of the article is not as simple as "public shaming ruins lives." Intense public shaming puts lives off course and changes them drastically, but many people have weathered these "shame storms" and come out of them intact, if not better and more compassionate people. These are the narratives we have often neglected and looked past, and ones I now seek to find.
Oscar Wilde, a fellow martyr to shame, found spiritualism and faith amidst his own public shaming. He himself stopped worrying whether the law that produced the charge against him was right or wrong, as that worrying did nothing for him.
"The truth that Wilde came to understand, which he shared with his fellow exile, was that they should accept their chastening in a spirit of gratitude. Nothing had been taken from them that would not be restored a hundredfold if they allowed their experience to do its redemptive work."
In De Profundis , Oscar Wilde saw his sufferings as an occasion for self-realization, and caused him to look deeper in himself for the answers he looked for. Wilde realized that every part of his life in prison had to be transformed into "a spiritual experience," a form of transfiguring his own suffering into beauty. "For the secret to life is suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything," Wilde wrote in this work.
Essentially, that is what Jesus Christ does, isn't it? The Gospels are a story of Christ making himself into a work of art through the transfiguration of his life's sufferings in the ministry. Christianity was revolutionary in that it did not condemn sinners, especially ones who were publicly shamed. We are all sinners, but the sin itself is not what is holy, but the transfiguration of it is, according to Wilde. That transfiguration leads us to see the unworthiness of living on our own, and instead see the "sordid necessity of living for others." In light of his own suffering, Oscar Wilde started to empathize with others that also suffered, and look no further than his aid of Alfred Dreyfus as an example.
That public shaming can be used as fuel and fire for our own transfigurations to become more like Christ. In theological circles, this is called the sanctification. As he was dying, Oscar Wilde converted to Catholicism.
But I find the most redeeming part, if I were to one day be publicly shamed in a devastating manner, to be the ability to empathize with other people who have suffered the grueling reality of walking through life with a heavy scarlet letter on their chest. The company Jesus often kept included the dregs of society: tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. The publicly shamed, whether righteously or unjustly, fall into that category of modern-day society. But the tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners were the ones that followed and found Christ because they were the ones that needed a savior the most.
Now, I am not advocating that every person publicly shamed and condemned become a born-again Christian like Oscar Wilde, but the point stands: you are not the same person. You cannot live the same life. That person and that life have been demolished by an excruciatingly painful experience, but that experience is the silver lining to be transfigured into something different, something greater. That transfigured identity is different for every person.
The root words of compassion are the Latin words for "with" and "suffering," so to have compassion for another person is "to suffer with" that person. What greater way to suffer with someone than to have gone through a similarly painful experience?
It is good and proper to say that Christians ought to be people of love, but the divine command to be loving is emphatically not a command to love all things, especially not sin.
Though my heart is imperfect and indeed is still sick with immorality, there exists therein by the sheer grace and compassionate workings of God a bitter, white-hot hatred for sin. I hate the sin left in my mind and in my heart. I hate that my reasoning and my feeling is still imperfect. I hate that I feel things, desire things, and even value things that are opposed to God and His absolute perfection. I hate my sin. I hate others' sin. I passionately hate sin. Period.
But why? Aren't we as Christians called to be loving folks? Decent people who lead kind, merciful lives in a world that is falling apart and in need of some relational sunshine? Why so much talk of hatred and unfavorable disposition?
I cannot possibly give every possible reason, but here is a long list of reasons to hate sin:
1. Sin grieves God's heart, transgresses His law, spits in His face, and disrespects His glory.
2. Sin is both immoral and illegal as it concerns God, our King.
3. Sin enslaves every person and will kill them unless God saves them by His sovereign grace.
4. Sin keeps our minds from the attainment of real wisdom.
5. Sin is the reason why people go to Hell.
6. Sin keeps us from enjoying God as we should always do and should desire to do.
7. Sin is the reason for broken relationships, friendships, marriages, and families.
8. Sin is the reason for oppression in the world and in the spiritual realm.
9. Sin tramples the glory of God underfoot and makes Him seem uninteresting and boring.
10. Sin is opposed to genuine, pure love.
11. Sin is the mirage that boasts of being conducive to the joy we need to have, but it is a sorry, disgusting, mirage that doesn't come through on so much as a single promise it makes.
12. Sin is the perversion of the good commandments and flawless design of God.
13. Sin falls extremely short of what it boasts of. It boasts of giving happiness but leads to emptiness and eternal damnation and torment in Hell.
14. Sin more resembles the demonic realm than the heavenly.
15. Sin is the reason why human suffering and death exist in the world.
16. Sin is the reason for addiction to substances, to alcohol, and pornography.
17. Sin leads us to believe we are good, blinding us to our massive legal guilt before God that keeps us condemned.
18. Sin makes the cross, which is so important words cannot rightly describe it, seem as if it doesn't have any real significance.
19. Sin pushes false teachings about God and His Word.
20. Sin perpetrates blatant, damnable heresies about what God has revealed, distorting the message and murdering people spiritually every day.
21. Sin makes us think we can work our way to having God's approval.
22. Sin compels men to add rituals, good works, law-keeping, and other addendums to the Gospel, claiming them as being necessary for salvation and leading to death rather than the life that was promised.
23. Sin makes us trust in ourselves and in our own wisdom instead of God and His perfect sovereignty.
24. Sin is a bloodthirsty enemy in our own hearts, what Scripture calls "the flesh," a vile cultural and kind of sociological enemy all around us, what Scripture calls "the world," and a twisted demonic enemy that desires that we perish forever, who Scripture calls "the devil."
25. Sin makes us hate God, whose infinite dignity and perfect, unalloyed glory makes Him totally unworthy of our hateful disposition and lack of religious enthusiasm.
26. Sin leads us to reason that we have the authority to define good and evil for ourselves.
27. Sin is the reason for divorce, abuse, sexual deviance, and abortion.
28. Sin is the source of all selfishness, pride, moral filthiness, and relational darkness that exists in the world.
29. Sin alienates men and women from their Creator who made them for the purpose of enjoying Him forever and delighting in His wonder and glory.
30. Sin is the reason why we lust after and objectify each other instead of loving and respecting each other.
31. Sin is the reason why we must lock our doors at night and be afraid to unlock them during the day.
32. Sin is why we are disconnected and alone.
33. Sin hates us and desires nothing that is of godly, holy, pure origin.
34. Sin makes men behave like animals in heat rather than like people with rational, emotional souls.
35. Sin leads men to worship the sun, moon, and stars rather than recognizing their nature as artful creations of God that display His wisdom and glory and ought to lead to deeper worship of Him, not them.
36. Sin makes us content in fake Christianity that lacks repentance and faith in Jesus as our Lord, Savior, and Treasure.
37. Sin makes us think we can do whatever we want with the Bible and treat it like our own word instead of the Word of God.
38. Sin tells us to worry and even climb the walls in panic before we'll even give thought to humble, faithful prayer to God.
39. Sin ripped our beloved Jesus apart, spat on Him, shamed Him, stripped Him naked, and nailed Him to the cross.
40. Sin killed our most beloved treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ.
41. Sin crushed and butchered Jesus.
I could go on and on in such a list. The Christian who has been redeemed by the electrifying, amazing, knock-your-socks-off grace of God should possess within his or her heart a hatred of sin that burns with incredible heat and intensity.
Rather than liking sin and wanting as much of it as can be imaginably obtained in this life, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Almighty God and who are in a saving relationship of union with Jesus Christ should hate sin and be in continual possession of the serious desire to see the sin that remains in them crumble and topple over as God becomes increasingly beautiful to them.
When Jesus died on the cross for your sin and my sin, He did many things on our behalf. He paid off every last bit of our massive legal debt that we owed before God. He suffered the full penalty that we deserved to suffer for our sin, absorbing the curse and the wrath of God justly poured out. He died our death penalty. He paid our bride price with His infinitely valuable blood. He redeemed us, purchasing us for a new life, good works, and total freedom. He claimed victory over sin, death, and Satan. He gave Himself as a purifying, atoning sacrifice for sinners.
There are numerous motifs at play at the cross, but all of them portray our sin as our worst problem, the wrath of God aimed at sinners for their horrid offenses committed against Him, Jesus stepping in our place and doing what is necessary, and as a result us being reconciled to God. Jesus won, sin lost, and we being united to Jesus by faith live and reign and are open to rejoice now and forever in the divine, heavenly joy that we were created to experience in God.Friends, let us hate sin with all we've got because we love God with all we've got and count Him as our supreme treasure, most satisfying pleasure, and best friend.
These two words are the call for all of us. These two little words can change our lives forever if we let them. Jesus wants these words to speak to us in two ways. He is calling us towards Him but also calling us away from other things that are standing in between us and God.
Cling to Him. Be clingy! This is the only time I will ever say to be clingy because this is the only time being clingy will work. Jesus is the one person who can handle your clinginess and you can't crush with your expectations. We can lay down all of our burdens at God's feet and He will take care of us. No one else in the world can do that.
We need to step away from things that stand in between us and God. This one is hard. For many college students, finding the balance between going out with friends but still following Jesus wholeheartedly is nearly impossible. It's also hard to not compare yourself to others in this aspect and others. I sometimes catch myself silently judging others thinking "well at least I went to church Sunday" or "at least I didn't party three nights in a row." This mindset is easy to fall back on to make yourself feel better but it shouldn't.
We are all sinners.
Every single one of us messes up. No matter how big or small the sin is, it is all equal in God's eyes. We are all sinners that we need Him to save. Quite often, we know we mess up but try to deny it. Or we try to fix it ourselves and self medicate. The problem with this is that we can't do anything alone. We need to go to Jesus.
We need to follow Jesus, no matter what. Not IF this happens, or AFTER this time in my life, or WHEN Jesus does this. No matter what. I promise you that it will be worth it. Choosing to follow Jesus and leaving behind the things that don't really matter, has truly changed my life forever.