Drawing a Line in the Sand

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During the Siege of the Alamo in 1836 when the battle seemed hopeless, William Travis the garrison commander called the Texans together. He told them it didn’t look good and if anyone wanted to leave it would be no disgrace. He then drew a line in the sand and asked that those who wished to stay step over that line. Everyman did and everyman died.

In the minds of the Texas patriots it was better to die than bend a knee to Santa Anna, or desert Travis. The author of this article ( How LGBT Pride Month Became a Religious Holiday) challenges Bible believing Christians who are bending a knee to LGBQ political correctness.

We have to understand that there is a big difference between tolerating a lifestyle in a pluralistic society and submitting to the idolatry that propels and sanctions it-that which calls and demands that evil be said to be good.

Many of the so-called mainline Christians have already caved and so have many evangelicals who should know better. The Bible often requires a line in the sand. The only question is will Christians stand with the Bible.

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A Silly Putty Bible

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Silly Putty was (and probably still is) a fun toy. You could take Silly Putty and transform it into any kind of shape you wished. You were a sculptor who was only limited by your imagination and your own interpretation of what you just created.

This is how liberal\progressive\social justice Christians view the Scriptures. It follows that liberal progressives in general view the US Constitution in the same way. Both Scripture and the Constitution are fluid in their minds and like Silly Putty can be twisted to say whatever one wishes or what the prevailing culture demands.

In the crowded field of Democratic hopefuls Pete Buttigieg is unusual. He fits into the category of a self-identified Gay Christian who recently criticized the conservative Christian VP Mike Pence on his views regarding homosexuality. Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Mike Pence was the governor of Indiana and the two know each other.

A lot could be said about this but at the end of the day the manufactured dust up is not about a Scripture debate and what Scripture actually teaches. We are long past that. Instead, what we have is a hatred for the conservative interpretation of some clear and unambigious Scripture.

The hatred stems from the fact that the Bible labels homosexuality sinful. Pence agrees as do millions of Christians who do not treat the Word of God as Silly Putty.

The hatred is directed at the conservative who affirms there is such a thing as sin. A person who affirms that homosexuality is sin as a Scripture realty is therefore a bigot. That’s the end game of the political left and obviously why Buttigieg targeted Pence someone whom he got along with rather pleasantly until he decided to run for office.

The link provided above will take you to the New York Times article about the issue with VP Pence. The reporters mobbed Mr. Pence asking him if homosexuality was a choice. In an obvious set-up Pence refused to answer.

If he said no, then what’s the problem? If he said yes then he’s a bigot. I rather admire Pence for not falling for the obvious “gotcha.” As VP he needs to avoid the leftist traps set for conservative Christians.

The only way Pete Buttigieg gets to claim it’s ok to be a Gay Christian (and married to another guy) is by treating Scripture like Silly Putty and twisting it beyond all recognition. In this, he has been assisted by his very liberal Episcopal Church-a church, that as a whole abandoned the clear teachings of Scripture long ago. It must give Buttigieg and others like him a wonderful sense of security as a church remakes what God has clearly said into something else.

The article states that Buttigieg likes to quote Scripture but doesn’t give any examples, nor did I wish to take the time to find out how and where he has done so.

My immediate reaction to reading that Buttigieg likes to quote Scripture was to go to Matthew 4.

Matthew Chapter 4 begins with the temptation by Satan of Jesus in the wilderness. Satan quotes Scripture twice (Deut. 8:3; Psa. 91:11, 12). He then offers Jesus the world if only Jesus will fall down and worship Satan.

Jesus will have none of it of course and he rebukes Satan twice and then the third time tells him to basically get lost.

There is much to unpack in the passage but at the very least it illustrates that anyone, including the king of liars can quote Scripture for his own purposes.

This is the kind of world we’ve lived in ever since. Anyone at anytime can, if they choose to do so rip Scripture from it’s context and twist it like Silly Putty to mean whatever their heart desires.

The left is relentless. They do not have a live and let live point of view any longer. Anything less than a full fledged affirmation of the whole LGBTXYZ nonsense won’t do.

I would not underestimate Buttigieg’s influence on young evangelicals whose Bible knowledge is poor or non-existent and come from churches who are afraid of hot potato issues in the first place.

Jesus told Satan he needed to worship him rather than the other way around. He did so by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13. Apparently, Jesus thought Scripture was very clear and would not allow Satan to twist it like Silly Putty for his own purposes. Nor should we when Buttigieg and others like him seek office and our votes.

Demand and Supply

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The title is not a mistake. Let me explain.

The news reported that President Trump wanted to use the money seized from El Chapo’s drug empire to fund the wall.

Various news organizations reported that El Chapo’s cartel was responsible for 100,000 deaths (murders) over the last decade and that El Chapo’s personal worth was around 17 billion in US dollars. If true, that would go a long way in funding a wall.

I wish to say at this point that I’m not against the wall. I am all for safe and legal immigration but what we have now is certainly not legal nor safe for US citizens or the masses trying to get in. If a wall helps, so be it. Ultimately a wall will not help all that much with the drugs for one simple reason.

The reason is Demand and Supply. If there is a demand someone will supply it if there is money to be made.

El Chapo was a business man-an evil one, but a business man none-the-less. Think a Mexican god-father here. What does a business do? It sells what people want. A business or a godfather makes money by supplying a particular demand.

Consider our own laws regarding prohibition. Alcohol was banned but it did nothing to curb demand. The laws may have made alcohol harder to get but bootleggers (like the Capone mob in Chicago) managed to supply the demand.

As long as Americans demand drugs there will be an El Chapo seeking to supply them. This does not exonerate an evil criminal; but it does say something about those choosing drug addiction.

Yes, I said choosing drug addiction. I would grant that addictions feel like a disease but on the other hand it’s a disease a person chooses to get (or risk getting).

The human heart is the problem. Scripture is quite clear about our propensity to sin and worship gods other than the God of the Bible (Rom. 1:18-32). Walls, fences, barriers can assist in controlling a problem or a life-dominating sin but unless the heart changes the best you can hope for is some behavioral change that may or may not stick.

This does not mean drug addicts will not need rehab; in many cases they do.

I say use El Chapo’s 14 billion to help drug addicts get off the drugs and to educate others as to what drug addiction actually looks like and how it destroys lives. My prayer is that Christians would be involved so they can point to Christ as the person’s ultimate solution to our biggest problem. That would be change that sticks.

Breaking free from that which enslaves.

The Moral Theory of Utilitarianism and New York

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Preface: There is much to be said about Governor Cuomo and the legislature of New York for passing the horrific law that allows abortion right up to the very moment of live birth. I think something of particular interest is Governor Cuomo’s professed Catholicism. Cuomo is not alone as a Democrat politician who is a professing Catholic. Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and John Kerry are others who are as radically pro-abortion as Cuomo.

It’s fair to ask what does the professed faith of these Catholics have to do with with their with their stance on abortion? How do they rationalize what their professed faith deems immoral into something they believe to be moral?

When the news of Cuomo’s actions broke I pondered the answer to the above question and remembered something about a prevailing philosophy that I had come across years ago. Understanding something about this philosophy explains how a person\politician can deem something moral while their professed faith deems the same thing immoral. It’s rather insidious really. I turned to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy for an explanation.

Did you know there was an Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy?

No? Well neither did I until I ran a search for a philosophy known as Utilitarianism.

Like other philosophies Utilitarianism is nuanced but according to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Utilitariaism is a moral theory related to Consequentialism.

How you may ask?

Utilitarianism is one of the best known and most influential moral theories. Like other forms of consequentialism, its core idea is that whether actions are morally right or wrong depends on their effects. More specifically, the only effects of actions that are relevant are the good and bad results that they produce. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Furthermore..

Utilitarians believe that the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the amount of good things (such as pleasure and happiness) in the world and decreasing the amount of bad things (such as pain and unhappiness). They reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings. Instead, utilitarians think that what makes a morality be true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human (and perhaps non-human) beings. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

If you are still with me allow me to note two things regarding Utilitarianism.

  1. Note that utilitarians reject moral codes given by supernatural beings. This explains why Cuomo and his Democrat Catholic friends can so readily reject the moral authority of God. (This obviously applies to Protestants and Jews who also reject the moral authority of God.)
  2. Utilitarianism believe what makes morality true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human beings. This further explains why Cuomo and how Catholic Democrat allies can claim abortion is a positive contribution worthy of celebrating as a moral good.

What does Utilitarianism mean in practice and decision making?

Utilitarianism is a philosophical view or theory about how we should evaluate a wide range of things that involve choices that people face. Among the things that can be evaluated are actions, laws, policies, character traits, and moral codes. Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism because it rests on the idea that it is the consequences or results of actions, laws, policies, etc. that determine whether they are good or bad, right or wrong. In general, whatever is being evaluated, we ought to choose the one that will produce the best overall results. In the language of utilitarians, we should choose the option that “maximizes utility,” i.e. that action or policy that produces the largest amount of good. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Observations: Utilitarianism is used to evaluate actions, laws, policies, character traits and moral codes. Utilitarians evaluate actions, laws, policies on the basis of overall results, that which would maximize utility, that action the produces the largest about of good. Therefore. a moral code that declares abortion as a moral wrong is not valid because in Cuomo’s mind the largest amount of good is produced by a women’s perceived right to choose, thus over turning any moral code by a supernatural being. In other words Cuomo’s professed faith has nothing to do with his politics unless it’s convenient for him which is why he is against the death penalty for murderers.

Utilitarianism appears to be a simple theory because it consists of only one evaluative principle: Do what produces the best consequences. In fact, however, the theory is complex because we cannot understand that single principle unless we know (at least) three things: a) what things are good and bad;  b) whose good (i.e. which individuals or groups) we should aim to maximize; and c) whether actions, policies, etc. are made right or wrong by their actual consequences (the results that our actions actually produce) or by their foreseeable consequences (the results that we predict will occur based on the evidence that we have). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Here the encyclopedia notes that Utilitarianism is complex because we need to know 1) what things are good and bad, (2) whose good, (individuals or groups) we should seek to maximize; and (3) whether actions, policies etc. are made right or wrong by their actual consequences or foreseeable consequences.

Once God, as found in Scripture is rejected as the moral authority something else has to emerge as the supreme moral authority. That authority is always the State, either the nation state or in this case the State of New York governed by Cuomo. The state then decides whose good should be maximized and if that means sacrificing children in the womb then so be it. The state declares it is the supreme moral authority and that abortion on demand is the resulting consequence that will maximize good for the group of women who exercise the right. The unborn do have that right and as we’ll see the unborn regardless of how long in the womb are not even persons to begin with.

Although R v W in 1973 made the same a right few states took it as far as New York and now, apparently Vermont. The moves by New York and Vermont are a reaction to a more conservative SOTUS and the states limiting abortion to under 20 weeks and the ones seeking to ban it all together. The battle revolves around who has the moral authority to declare right from wrong and both sides seek to fight it our via legislation although the conservative side recognizes the moral authority of God.

I’ll try to explain this a bit more.

Pregnant women are the group the legislation focuses on. The utilitarian believes it will promote their well being and personal happiness if they are allowed to abort their children up to the moment of delivery. There is no higher moral good than one’s well being and personal happiness utilitarianism. The consequences of an abortion will the person(s) of a problem and the legislature of New York absolves the woman of all responsibility since her action is moral in their eyes. This is precisely why you see women proudly proclaiming their abortions without apology and in some cases bragging about their abortions. This is also why some conservatives equate abortion with a sacrament and a legislature as the forgiver. Utilitarianism is a philosophy but also a practiced religion without God.

Since Utilitarianism rejects moral codes given by a supreme being the state becomes the moral authority and this is why Cuomo (a Roman Catholic) must believe it’s fine to flaunt his own church’s teaching on abortion.

I first came across the Philosophy of Utilitarianism as a formal philosophy many years ago after my wife and I had become Christians and were learning what a Christian worldview is and is not.

In my reading I discovered that Planned Parenthood’s patron saint is Margaret Sanger, a known eugenist, racist and one could argue an early utilitarian.

Sanger is not the only one and in my reading I came across an Australian utilitarian academic by the name of Peter Singer. Singer is among the most prominent utilitarians and has written many books. It would be a mistake to underestimate his influence and those like him in our culture.

Utilitarianism is popular whether a person can articulate it or not because at it’s core it caters to our natural tendencies to self-centeredness and doing “what’s best for me” and “what makes me happy.”

This is why I remember Singer in particular and have connected him to the recent actions of Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature:

In Practical Ethics, Singer argues in favour of abortion rights on the grounds that fetuses are neither rational nor self-aware, and can therefore hold no preferences. As a result, he argues that the preference of a mother to have an abortion automatically takes precedence. In sum, Singer argues that a fetus lacks personhood.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer

Similar to his argument for abortion rights, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood—”rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness”[52]—and therefore “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living”.[5

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer

Note that Singer declared that a fetus lacks personhood; therefore killing the fetus is morally sound because a fetus is not a person. If that sounds familiar it should because it defines the pro-abortion position.

Note how Singer equates the aborting of a fetus with the killing of a new born something very close to what New York has done. Singer argues that a newborn lacks the essential characteristics of personhood (the argument for abortion on demand of a fetus) and therefore it’s not equivalent to killing a person who wants to live. In other words it’s not a big deal. In fact, as I recall in reading about Singer back in the 90s he stated in an interview that he’d apply this philosophy to include toddlers (children starting to walk and talk, ages 18mo-3yrs) since they also lack the essential characteristics of personhood according to Singer.

Christians, it’s important that we are not blind-sided by the rhetoric of women’s rights and that we come to understand there is a moral theory at work. This moral theory dominates the political left (I am not saying no one on the right is a utilitarian). What I am saying the so called progressive political left is galvanized by utilitarianism where the state is the highest authority. When you take God out the picture you no longer have moral absolutes and the consequences are people like Singer and Cuomo deciding who has the essential characteristics of personhood and who has not

I am slow to play the Nazi card but in this instance it is appropriate. The Nazi state declared that disabled people lacked utility value and the proceeded to kill them off. The Nazi state further declared that Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and may others to be “subhuman” and thus lacking in personhood. The result was millions killed in the concentration camps. When the state is the highest authority all that is not only possible, but probable.

12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 6:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

 When Christians argue that abortion is satanic child sacrifice they are correct and dupes like Cuomo (representing the state) and Singer (representing the underlying moral theory) are the human agents of the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers who preside over this darkness.

Nerf Toys Evil?

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We recently came back from our annual New Years trip to a water park in the Wisconsin Dells. Our family usually celebrates Christmas there.

Our oldest grandson (age 8) received from us one of those slick NERF rifles that look a lot like a sci-fi advanced weapon system. He was and is thrilled with the gift. He spent some time knocking down aluminum cans and became quite good at it. He was also schooled in “gun safety” meaning no ambushing your little brother or sister. (For those of you ignorant of NERF ammo understand it is harmless.)

I’ve been aware for some time the left’s agenda to ban “war toys.” The ban would include everything from toy soldiers and plastic tanks to toy guns whether they be squirt guns or NERF type guns. It was no surprise to read of yet another effort on Townhall to do away with toy guns because they are suposedly dangerous.

According to the Townhall article the agenda suggests that if a child is deprived of a toy gun they will be less likely to be interested in obtaining a real one once they are older. Therefore, they will be less likely to use a gun in acts of violence. As we have seen time and time again every time there is mass shooting the gun is blamed along with the NRA because the NRA stands for the Second Amendment and the right of the citizen to bear arms.

The article compares the argument against toy guns to the argument for open borders. The left insists that open borders are not dangerous; but toy guns are. Logic and common sense have never stood in the way of a left-wing agenda.

This is the picture used to accompany the article. The girls are obviously having fun using NERF type toy guns (or squirt guns). Will banning them help the real problem?

What is a Bible believing Christian to make of this? Should Bible believing Christians buy the argument that toy guns are dangerous in the way the left argues? What is the real crux of the issue biblically speaking?

Here’s my take…

First, let us observe that when there is a mass shooting the news media is all over it. I don’t have a problem with that but it can (and usually does) obscure logical (common sense) and theological thinking because of the huge emotional trauma associated with a mass shooting. A left leaning media is quick to exploit the emotional trauma for their own ends. It just “feels right” to blame the gun and the emotional trauma gives the idea weight but little substance.

It should also be noted that rarely if ever, is a shooter characterized as someone doing a very evil act. It’s acknowledged vaguelly of course but usually explained away as mental illness and the person “was sick” in some way as if they had a disease rather than simply being hateful. (Hmmm, isn’t every unrighteous shooting a hate crime?)

The Bible believing Christian should mourn the fact that guns can be used to perpetrate evil. That has been abundantly clear throughout history. Any weapon can be used for evil as well as for good. Police are armed for good as is the military and as long as weapons are used for good (confronting evil) there should not be be a problem.

The main problem, according to Scripture (and I’d argue by simple observation) is human nature.

Wayne Grudem in his excellent volume on politics puts it like this:

A Christian worldview must include that there is a measure of moral evil (what the Bible calls sin) in the heart of every human being who lives on the face of the earth. In addition, the Bible shows that this moral evil in human beings must be defined in comparison to an external standard of right and wrong, a standard that comes not from within the human race but from God himself. This one idea, that human beings are viewed as sinful before the absolute moral standards of the one true God, has immense implications for numerous policy differences between Republicans and Democrats…

Grudem, Wayne. Politics According to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2010, (pg. 119)

How does Grudem’s biblical definition of moral evil challenge the assumption that banning war toys will result in less violence? Does fewer guns correlate with less violence given the fact that biblically speaking the real problem is the human heart and the measure of human evil that resides in it?

A Bible believing Christian that truly understands the root of the problem would also understand that banning war toys is a superficial solution that does nothing to solve the “evil within.”

While there is much more than could be said I’ll settle for this: Our culture and often times our evangelical church culture looks to blame evil on something outside of ourselves. In this case, it’s guns and\or war toys. The “something” becomes the bad guy, the demon, the evil, or the mental illness rather than our own propensity to do bad things and often horrible things. Frankly, it’s only because of the grace of God that most of us are not as bad as we could be!

The culture as a whole has turned away from God and his absolute standards so we should not be surprised to see the chaos around us. What should surprise us is evangelicals who seem to think that man is basically good and that superficial “solutions” to large problems are the answer.

As for my grandson (and his parents) I’m proud of them. I’m proud that he is being raised as a boy who will all to soon become a man and have man\husband responsibilities. Those responsibilities will be defined by the Bible and Lord willing his little heart will be changed by the gospel so that he strives to fulfill those responsibilities in a way that honors Christ and takes care of his family.

Ultimately, Jesus is the solution to the problems that ails us all. As conservative Protestants we must learn to think biblically about issues. If we don’t we will fall into the trap as the culture in general and either ignore God completely or reduce Him to some abstraction that has little to nothing to say about what really is our biggest problem (Rom 1:18-32).

Revisiting the PCUSA Seven Years Later

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The Presbyterian Church USA has long been in a theological liberal slide. The church (PCUSA) should be distinguished from the Presbyterian Church in America the conservative wing of Presbyterianism that broke away from the PCUSA about 40 years ago.

It can be confusing when two denominations have similar names and so it was recently when the PCA was confused with the PCUSA-the denomination that has officially approved on same sex marriage. The PCA worked hard to set the record straight.

In 2011 the PCUSA ordained its first gay minister.

How To Tell the Difference Between the PCA and PCUSA

When the PCA ordained it’s first gay minister I wrote this paragraph on my other blog under the blog heading, Things That Irritate Me.

You people [PCUSA] have been annoying me for quite some time. I suspect Calvin is turning in his grave when he gets the bad wind of your bad theology if you can call it that. Why don’t you say point- blank “we don’t care what the Bible says or what it means or how it applies” and get it over with rather than just killing truth an inch at a time. Go ahead and ordain gays. Anyone who cares about what Scripture says, means and applies will leave your denomination. Those that don’t, oh well.

I received the below comment from a fellow named Javier.

In reply to:

Dont be a homophobic bigot

This is how I responded to Javier.

I approved of Javier’s comment because it was sort of respectful and I do not mind respectful disagreement. When I say sort of what I mean is name calling does not lend itself to respectful dialogue but at least his comment was not a multi-paragraph tirade of name calling.

Javier assumes that because I disagree with the Presbyterian Church USA’s stance on ordaining gays I must be homophobic and a bigot to boot. To be homophobic means to be fearful of gays. I deny this. I am not fearful of gays. I disagree with the gay agenda but that does not mean I am afraid of gays. I do fear the Lord. Proverbs 1:7 says it best:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Pro. 1:7 ESV

To fear the Lord means reverence and humility before The Maker and what He says about things. I cannot approve of what The Maker disapproves. The PCUSA has chosen to redefine what The Maker approves of and disapproves of. They are free to do this of course but it amounts to either an abandonment of Scripture or as I noted a massive redefinition and twisting of Scripture. Hence my irritation.

The second name I’ve been called is “bigot.” A bigot according to dictionary.com is “a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, especially on religion, politics, or race.”

Dictionary.com adds that the word “bigot” is derogatory presumably because tolerance is the politically correct term for validating everything and anything and intolerance is the only great sin left to conquer. The term “bigot” combined with “homophobic” implies that not only am I fearful of gays but I also hate them since I am intolerant of their political agenda and/or lifestyle.

I deny that I hate gays and I maintain that it is possible to not hate someone who you disagree with. In fact, I am saddened that so much of our society now approves of what The Maker disapproves. In the long run this hurts gays not helps them. As to the word “tolerance.” I may tolerate a great many things. I tolerate high gas prices, whiny WI Public Ed, the gay lifestyle and the PCUSA’s freedom to do what ever the hec they want. What I won’t do is validate a great many things.

Validate means to substantiate; confirm, or give official sanction to. For example, I can tolerate the fact that many couples choose to live together without marriage but I cannot substantiate or confirm their choice from Scripture; therefore, I cannot give sanction to the practice. There is a big difference between tolerance and validation and I would argue that it is validation that is really at the heart of the gay political movement.

Bible-truth-9

All that to say is that my comments were more directed at the PCUSA than gays in general. Here we have a church group that used to know better than to approve of something that The Maker disapproves. Now they are validating what The Maker disapproves and ignoring what the Gospel teaches.

Church leaders are held to a higher standard if one is to believe Scripture (James 3:1) and unfortunately they appear to not believe the Scripture or understand the Gospel. 

So Javier, our disagreement is one of worldview and name-calling does nothing to foster understanding of world-views. I’ve given you a brief snap shot of where my worldview comes from and I would be curious as to what the basis of yours is?

Javier never responded nor did I expect him to. Name calling, shaming, stereo-typing, feigning outrage and screaming these days by the left make Javier’s single comment mild by comparison.

The PCA separated from the PCUSA about 40 years ago because they could no longer walk together. There are some things that require separation and redefining what the Bible teaches to conform to the prevailing culture is on of them. Fortunately, the PCUSA appears to be losing membership while the PCA is gaining.

Is it homophobia causing the exodus or is it people simply wanting to uphold the Scripture?

 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits… (Mt 7:15–16, ESV)

Link to the PCUSA affirmation of LGBQT

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

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Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s wartime leader said this: “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Yalta_Conference_(Churchill,_Roosevelt,_Stalin)_(B&W)

The “Big Three” at Yalta, 1945. The War in Europe was nearly over. A sickly Roosevelt  would die in April of 45 had given Stalin pretty much what he wanted-a big slice of eastern Europe. Churchill was not so generous but by 1945 Britain was the junior partner in the Anglo-American Alliance. It kind of reminds me of an old saying, “if you dine with the devil you better have a long spoon.”

The context of Churchill’s statement was in regards to the Anglo (and later American) alliance with Stalin’s Soviet Union. Great Britain was desperate in the war against Hitler in 1941 and needed an ally. Germany foolishly invaded Russia and an instant ally was born.

Britain and Churchill were not fans of Stalin or his communism.  Stalin killed and starved hundreds of thousands of his own people and was especially hated in the Ukraine. He had recently picked a fight with tiny Finland and most western countries including Britain favored the plucky Finns. Stalin and Hitler had recently been pals and had divided up Poland, a British ally.

So, no one actually likes Stalin but…

Churchill, always colorful and usually memorable as he could turn a phrase like few others commented on Britain’s unlikely alliance with Stalin. Churchill’s comment about making a favorable reference to the devil (Stalin) was connected with the truism “that an enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Such is war, such is politics, such are personal relationships if we are honest and such is the world stage that a government will make alliances with some rather unsavory characters including a “devil” like Joseph Stalin.

This is the kind of  dilemma the United States faces with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Iran, as most everyone knows are the bad guys. Iran hates Israel, our only democratic friend in the entire Middle East. The Iranian mullahs support terrorism (in Palestine and elsewhere) and is rather brutal to its own people when they get out of line. Just try being trans-gendered in Iran and see what happens. Iran is also anxious to get nukes-a nightmare scenario that the US tries hard to prevent.

On the other hand try being trans-gendered in Saudi Arabia and see what happens. You get my drift.

Both countries are Moslem and both are radical by degree. Iran is Shite and Saudi Arabia is Sunni. They do not get along. Iran is mostly Persian and Saudi Arabia is Arab-antagonisms go back centuries both ethnically and religiously. Given half a chance they would gladly destroy one another a Moslem on Moslem jihad.

Problem: Saudi Arabia like Israel is an American Ally but they are an ally of a different sort.  Israel shares with us a democratic process and other values. Saudi Arabia does not.

Iran is supported by Putin’s Russia and the Chi-Coms. This makes Saudi Arabia and Iran big players in international politics and while some argue that Saudi Arabia is “not as bad” as Iran is can be a bit of hair splitting.

Case in Point: Many in the West were horrified when “moderate” Saudi-Arabia obviously assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi’s “sin” was being a critic of the rulers of Saudi-Arabia even though he was Saudi as well.

1b72bfdb-f3b6-4b7f-b76e-70bee27a2169

If the shoe fits.

What few people know or knew is that Saudi Arabia like Iran is brutal. Mindy Belz of World Magazine details incident after incident, murder after murder (many of them Christians) in her excellent article titled Dealing in Realism.

Here is a revealing quote from the Belz article:

“The textbook language varies year-to-year, but adheres to core tenets [in state sponsored school curriculum]. It calls for violent punishment of non-Muslims and for putting homosexuals to death. All of Israel is ‘occupied Islamic territory’ the textbooks teach. And, ‘The Apes are the people of the Sabbath. the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.'”

And lets not forget how many of the young men (11 out of 19) were Saudi nationals when the Twin Towers came down taking thousands of lives.

With an ally like that who needs enemies?

Governments are usually pragmatic like Churchill’s WW2 Britiain and will do what works (at the time). Principle is sacrificed on the altar of expediency and what works. Since Saudi Arabia hates Iran almost as much it secretly hates the West we should not be surprised that the US response was relatively mild to the Khashoggi killing although the US did pressure it’s ally to finally own up. (Some minor official in Saudi Arabia will have to bite the bullet perhaps literally.)

So, what about the other Saudi crimes detailed in Belz’s article? Should they not trouble us? And what about the textbook issue? What are little Saudi children learning about Jews and Christians? Can not the same type of thing be found in Iranian textbooks? I’ll bet it can.

I don’t think the US is naive regarding Saudi Arabia. I think the official position is we are stuck with them and at least they have not gone nuclear (but could, and probably would like to). I’m so cynical these days that I can see one of our representatives saying something like, “can’t you be a bit more discreet when you murder a political opponent?”

What should the serious Christian think about such things? Should we go along with the notion that the enemy of our enemy is our friend or should the US sanction the Saudi’s in a similar fashion to Iran? That would be Mindy Belz’s view.

The question is should the US “punish” its ally Saudi Arabia for exhibiting the same kind of behavior that its enemy Iran is guilty of?

As always Christians should try to think through thorny questions biblically. Applying biblical principles to international politics is not an easy matter especially because neither party in the US is particularly motivated to do so. It appears to me that one party actually hates the Bible and the other is mildly disinterested but needs Christian votes. I know, aren’t I the cynical one?

I think there are a number of biblical passages that can say something about how a Christian can respond to a sticky situation like Iran and Saudi Arabia.  It’s found in Romans 13:1-7 where Paul talks about the role of civil government.

13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 13:1–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

There is a lot going on in the passage and I don’t want to write a novel so I’ll just focus on verse 4.

for he [government] is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

What might we observe here?

First we see that government (the he) is God’s servant for good and if you do wrong be afraid, because that’s why the government gets a sword.

So government is God’s servant for good. Therefore, killing a political opponent is wrong and the Saudi Arabian government is not acting like God’s servant for good. The institution of government is good but people in the government or in positions of power are often evil and unjust and God is not for an unjust government.

There are a lot of places one can take all this but the basic principle seems obvious-government is God’s servant for good, not bad. Belz’s conclusion that the US should sanction Saudi Arabia certainly lines up with the Saudi pattern of injustice.

To sanction Saudi Arabia in some kind of serious way would require taking a principled stand and I’d be surprised if either political party has the fortitude to stand on principle. It might cost us something and at the end of the day the ends justify the means.

Khashoggi’s death ordered by Saudi Crown Prince

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