Why Won’t I Speak Up Against Abortion?

 

Abortion is not an option it’s a travesty. I know it, and you know it. Heck, even liberal activists and politicians know it, choosing, rather, to suppress it. After all, dollars make sense, right?

But why do I avoid the subject? Why not join in with the rest of my brothers and sisters in publicly exposing this injustice for what it really is: murder.

It’s not because I’m insensitive, or just flat out don’t care.

It’s because I’m ashamed.

It’s because I’m a murderer.

Before the Gospel of Jesus Christ arrested my heart, I was involved sexually with a young woman who had loved me endlessly. She would do anything for me. As our relationship progressed, so I began to take more advantage of her.

I didn’t want her hand in marriage; I wanted to trample over her purity for the pleasure of my own pride, because that’s what I thought it meant to be a man. Sexual activity and performance was directly tied to my identity as a man. I wanted to enjoy the pleasures of manhood, without assuming the responsibility of manhood.

The end-result? Four counts of cowardly murder against innocent little lives, which never stood a chance and never got to hope or dream… or breath.

I am a murderer.

That’s a hard pill to swallow.

And with every assault against abortion on social media, in our churches, and on freeway billboards, I am reminded of my past shameful actions.

But that’s not the Gospel I received from the Word of Christ. And that’s not who I am today, thanks be to God.

But it got me thinking. Maybe I am desensitized to the horrors of abortion, and its negative implications on our society at large. And what about those young men and women who are growing up in a similar context as once did I, impoverished and hopeless, struggling to survive this thing we call “life”? For babies having babies from broken homes, it’s scary. Without having a father to show us how to be a father, we run from fatherhood, out of fear of failing and becoming just like the father we never had.

The truth of the matter is that we can sign a thousand petitions and argue our points into legislation, but unless we address the root of it all, the problem will remain.

So, I ask the question: what can we do?

Maybe we can begin by paying better attention to our children, and being intentional in identifying the fatherless so that we, the fathers of this generation, can do a better job at showing our young boys what it looks like to be a man.

Show our young men what it looks and feels like to walk a woman down the aisle rather than dropping her off at an abortion clinic, while cowering in the comfort of drugs and alcohol, never really escaping the look of horror and devastation that swept across her face, as you left her to be stripped of the life growing within her (a look–forgiven or not–that I will never forget). Taking a part of her, as well.

So we can show our young girls their worth, and what sort of qualities and characteristics they should be looking for when it comes time to identify that future husband.

So we can teach young men and women alike, that sex is not a game, but a molding of the souls, an intimate oneness to be enjoyed by husband and wife, with the intention of bearing a child, raising a child, and finally, sending a young man or woman to go, and do likewise.

Pro-creation is essential to our existence, and an integral part of who God has created us to be, in His likeness, as creators, also.

God created us to create, not to destroy.

But again, I pose the question: how did we, as a society, get to the point where which we can call murder an “option”? And how can we, as Christians, combat this assault against the image of God, through more than just grassroots efforts? Is there a reason why most Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics are located in and near impoverished communities? How, in our own little world and in our own little way, can we help?

Think about it. Pray bout it. Do something about it.

 

 

I’d Bake Them a Cake, and Eat Some Too: Religious Freedom, Gay Rights, and the Man in the Middle

635635829040203317-2-ReligiousFreedomThere’s been a lot of fuss surrounding Indiana’s recent enactment of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Following the legislation, liberals and progressives came out of the woodworks to go toe-to-toe with conservatives—especially conservative evangelicals. Rallying around the call for tolerance—which is a two-way street, by the way—liberals cite Christians as supporting such laws for the sole purpose of combating the LGBT community and same-sex marriage initiative. My first reaction was that of a man caught in the middle; compelled by love, but captive to the inspired and authoritative word of God.

To set the record straight, I am convinced that homosexuality is a sin, and separates us from God, much like any other sin, including that of pride, adultery, idolatry, and gossip. Sin is sin, and ultimately results in eternal separation from the God who created us to know Him and to be known by Him (Isa. 59:2, Rom. 5:12; 6:23). We are created in His image (Gen. 1:26-28), and marriage, according to His image, is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:23-25). Clearly, the language of God’s Word provides gender distinctiveness to highlight the very uniqueness of God’s image. Any relational union apart from God’s intended design is a deviation from His creative purposes and, ergo, a distorted and disorderly representation of God Himself (Rom. 1:22-23; 3:23). Furthermore, over 2,000 years of church history affirms our contemporary understanding that homosexuality is a sin that has never been acceptable among believers (and, more often than not, most cultures).

Since we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me go on to say that I believe that evangelicals do tend to place an unhealthy emphasis on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, without reiterating the detriment of other sinful behaviors as well. True, the reason that homosexuality is often pointed out is because it seems to be one of the only sins that has been popularized as “normal” and “okay,” while other sins are clearly condemned by believers and unbelievers alike. Even among gay couples, adultery and lying and murder are all considered to be wrong, while, homosexuality, is not. This is why Paul pinpoints homosexuality—commonly referred to as “unnatural”—as the supreme example of self-worship and godlessness (Rom. 1:18-32). Homosexuality represents the epitome of distorted and disorderly worship. Nevertheless, the more we impress upon others the weight of sin, without following up with the hope of Christ, we start to look more like the Pharisees and Sadducees whom Jesus condemned, rather than the Christ Himself who came in grace and truth. Sure, my evangelical friends are right in their assertions, but we must not allow ourselves to live by the letter of the law, while neglecting the spirit of the law—namely, the law of Christ.

This past Thanksgiving, my wife and I had an opportunity to make (courtesy of Kroger) and share a meal with our neighbors. The gay couple downstairs—who are well aware of our conservative beliefs—came over and we talked, and laughed, and got to know one another, over some good ‘ole Cajun-infused turkey. We seized the moment to love people, and have table fellowship (a very intimate occasion in biblical times) with those who are very different from us, but, then again, maybe not so different. Sure, they are living in sin—but so were we (and yet, even still, sin abounds).

One of the most beautiful conjunctions in the Bible is the word “but.” In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul names off a laundry list of sins, including homosexuality, following up with an emphatic “and such were some of you!” “But,” Paul says, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This, my friends, ought to be the chief-motivation behind every Christian endeavor: that we were sinners, and Christ saved us! We did not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, no, but rather, Christ Himself snatched us from the grip of death and breathed life into our sinful souls, covering us with His everlasting love and mercy.

Therefore, we must make every effort to show the same grace, and speak the same truth, in love, to those who—though may look and believe different from us—suffer from the same sinful condition that we do.

So, though I would not preside over a gay wedding, much like I would not preside over an unbeliever’s wedding (without being honest, in love, of course), I would bake them a cake. In fact, not only would I bake them a cake, but I’d stop by and share a slice with them as well. That’s my religious liberty. After all, you never know when you may have, not only an opportunity to reflect the love of Christ, but to share the love of Christ as well. And how did Jesus share His love for sinners? He ate with them, He healed them, He protected them and gave to them—He gave Himself, for them and for us. But Jesus also left us sinners with a solemn warning that we must heed: “[Now that you know the truth,] go, and sin no more” (John 5:1-15, 8:3-11).

The Joyless Joys of Godlessness

Jobless man

I ought to be satisfied by now. You would assume that after years of filling in the ________’s of my heart’s desires, that they would have ultimately produced a joy that quenched the inner thirsting of my soul. Yet, here I am. Still wanting. Still dissatisfied with my 9-to-5 little prison.

Still, unhappily married while staring at Jezebel’s digital screen of pornographic false-promises, hoping to find solace through the sensations of extra-marital sex while, still, yearning.

It’s like I am running a marathon on a treadmill, expecting to get somewhere.

I work harder, and longer, so I can buy more stuff, and yet even when I have more stuff, I hardly enjoy it.

Sound familiar?

What’s missing? What’s missing from this mirage called “life”?

If my senses were created to dance in delight, by nature, then my Creator has created me to enjoy the world wherein He has placed me.

But how?

Him. He is the answer to every delight. 

For every good and perfect gift comes from Him[1] and it is by Him and through Him that we are created to share in the goodness of His splendor. To be partakers of that which He considers joyful: His creation.

Life, without Him, makes no sense. Apart from God we are abnormal creatures, deceived into believing in a happily-ever-after apart from God, that only God can every truly provide. After all, without Him, there wouldn’t even be happiness at all. God created happiness.

Sex without God is good. But sex with God—framed within His intended marital-design—is better. Food without God is good, but a steak eaten to the glory of God, is better.

In life, you find happiness, but true and everlasting joy only comes from God.

If a life separated from God is devoid of the Spirit, and the fruit produced by the Spirit is joy[2], then a godless man is a joyless man. The joyless joy of a godless man is only temporary pleasure, followed by the weightiness of eternal dissatisfaction (Hell—and separation from God).

But the joy produced by the Spirit, is a joy inaugurated by the joy of our heavenly Father, who found pleasure—or, joy—in crushing His one and only Son, for His glory, and for our salvation.[3] And, make no mistake; there is joy in His salvation![4]

God has redeemed us to enjoy Him and the life that He has given to us. Only in Christ, can there be found a “fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.”[5]

The life lived, in Christ, magnifies the joy of our existence, and liberates us to enjoy the treasures of this world, both in this life, and on into the next, where the new Heavens and the new Earth will consummate our everlasting joy in Him and all that He has created.

[1] James 1:17

[2] Galatians 5:22

[3] Isaiah 53:10

[4] Psalm 51:12

[5] Psalm 16:11

Breaking the Chains: A Christian’s Struggle With the Effects of Sexual Abuse

breaking-the-chains“If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you.”

These words are still as fresh in my mind as the feeling I felt from the barrel of a .22 derringer pressed against my neck. That night marked a series of evenings that would leave me laying in tears—and sometimes blood—violated and ravaged by someone I looked up to. Someone I trusted.

If you have ever been molested, raped, or sexually abused, then you can understand the mixture of emotions I felt. You can understand going through life, hoping to wake-up from a nightmare that never seemed to end.

And while I am not an expert in the study of psychology or counseling, I am an expert in the painful effects of molestation. I’ve lived with the effects of sexual abuse for over twenty years, and while the power of God allows me to experience freedom and a heart that forgives, the long-term impact that the abuse has had on my life has been devastating.

Sexual abuse affects so many areas of our lives, from the physical to the metaphysical, that simply telling someone what had been done, is not enough. Confronting your abuser, and telling someone what they did to you is only the beginning of a lifetime of dealing with the pangs of molestation.

Here are two of the most evident ways in which being sexually abused has impacted my own life. And while I do not intend for this to be an exhaustive treatment on the subject, my hope is that it will shed some insight into how sexual abuse affects its victims, and a couple of practical ways in which the Christian may begin to experience freedom.

Identity

If you were a growing young boy at the time of your abuse, like I was, and your abuser was another male, you have undoubtedly experienced identity issues. Perhaps you were asking yourself whether or not you were now “gay” as a result of your abuse. Or, like me, out of disgust at the very thought of being violated by another man, you decided to sleep with as many girls possible in order to prove your manhood, leading into a lifetime of homophobia and sexual immorality.

Or maybe there were times when you became aroused as a natural reaction to stimulation and, thus, minimized the fault of the attacker. Because, after all, you enjoyed it right?

For years—and, at times, even now—I’ve lived my life trying to prove I am a man. I’ve let my abuser have control over my identity as a man. In fact, his subconscious control over my life had inevitably fostered control issues within, which aimed to “take back” my life from my abuser through always trying to control my situations, circumstances, and relationships. Yet, be that as it may, I had no control. I was lost and broken. He told me I was at fault, so I was at fault. He told me I was the one that was sick and twisted, and so, I was sick and twisted. He told me that I was insufficient to please anybody, and so, I was. I lived for far too long believing these things about myself.

But God did not create me to be viewed in any of the ways in which my attacker viewed me. God created me (and you) in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). I am a man, because God created me as a man, and no one has the right to redefine that which God has created.

God did not create us to be violated, to be used like lifeless instruments of gratification for the purposes of serving man’s sick and twisted sinful desires. When we experience the trauma of sexual abuse, we are experiencing the depravity of man, not the will or the purposes of God.

What you’ve done or what has been done to you, should never serve as the basis for understanding your identity. You must never let the sinfulness of mankind affect that who you are, in Christ. You are a son or daughter of the living God, fearfully and wonderfully made—a new creature. Find yourself in Him, and you will begin to find yourself liberated from the effects of your abuse.

Relationally

When I started having children of my own, I was afraid. Not because I felt that I might abuse them too, but because the way in which my abuse has shaped the way I view boundaries.

Honestly, for years I was uncomfortable being naked and exposed around anyone, much less my own bride. Second to that, came the fear of performing what we would consider “normal” parental duties, like teaching your children to use the potty, or giving them a bath. Any of those things reminded me of my abuse. In the same sense, I didn’t want to violate my children’s boundaries. This, however, produced an unhealthy effect in the way in which I parented. I needed to move beyond having my attacker in view, and love and lead my children in a way that was healthy and fatherly.

This leads back to our identity. Our identity as sons or daughters of our God the Father, gives us a sense of what it looks like to be loving parents to our own children. To father and and mother in grace and truth, warmth and compassion, from the example set fourth from our own Father, who is in Heaven.

Yet perhaps the most devastating sense in which my abuse has affected me relationally, is in the area of trust.

All I have to do is try and count my closest friends, and this is where I will fail miserably. In fact, I have no close friends. Sure, I have plenty of Facebook friends that will occasionally post a “Happy Birthday” message on my wall and maybe “like” a status here or there, but I have had no real lasting friendships. Neither am I close with any of my family members, besides my immediate family of course.

When I look at how I have failed in relationships, I see, not only the result of a broken childhood, but also the result of my abuse, once again holding the reigns of my life in the palm of its hand. Not only has it affected friendships, but it has also infected my marriage.

While I was dating my now-bride, I ended up breaking up with her at least five times. I was constantly trying to find ways to end the relationship, to keep her at a distance—I didn’t want to let anyone in. But she kept pursuing, and loved me, despite my unhealthy attitude towards relationships. This, in turn, has had a profound impact on the way in which I now view trust and love working together.

It’s easy to distrust people, especially in light of being sexually abused. Our trust has been supremely violated; often times by those closest to us. Our view of people has been marred. But rather than building up a wall of distrust around us, and keeping ourselves from establishing healthy relationships, we must learn to trust, with the same love that God has shown us. God will not leave us nor forsake us—He is our God, whom we can trust, and depend upon.

Sure, trust is taking risks, but the benefits of it allow us to begin to see the world through the lenses of love, rather than viewing everyone as the one who betrayed our trust, and hurt us deeply. We mustn’t play the victim the rest of our lives, because then it becomes an excuse, and a means of escaping reality and responsibility. Not everyone will hurt us the way in which we’ve been hurt. In fact, you’ll be surprised at the amount of love you’ll experience from the church, family, and friends, when you begin to tear down that wall of distrust, and allow trust to be established and rooted in love.

Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (emphasis mine). Here, it is our own understanding that leads us away from the very gifts that God has given us in family and friendships, in life itself. We must trust that God will lead us into true and lasting relationships that will allow us to be built up and encouraged in love and life with Him.

Conclusion

Have you forgiven your abuser? If not, I invite you to experience the freedom that comes from forgiving those who have wronged us. We don’t forgive merely because we are told, but because we know that all people have wronged God and others, in some shape or form. Even us. And just as Christ came to die for our sins, and offer us the gift of life, so has He died for them, extending to them the same forgiveness and everlasting life with Him. When you forgive your abuser, you are also freeing yourself from the power of sin over your life—freeing yourself from the control that your abuse has had over you for so many years. You are being found in the grace of God, and becoming the man or woman that God has created you to be—a reflection of His own love and mercy.

Finally, when you allow your identity, found in the image of God, to shape your relationships with others, you learn to be a forgiving people, a trusting people, a people who can live together, in love, and grow together, in Christ.