If these two go, even this diehard Tiger fan, may have to find someone else to root for unto October.
If these two go, even this diehard Tiger fan, may have to find someone else to root for unto October.
BY STEVE DUNN
It’s the evening of the Fourth of July. My wife and I have just finished watching A Capital Fourth a semi-tradition for us. Now we are watching a live fireworks show via another channel–a magnificent display over New York Harbor. I have just heard the words sung of what is my favorite “patriotic” hymn by Samuel Frederick Smith.
My country tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
I am glad to be an American . Besides it’s sheer beauty, no nation on this earth has done more to proclaim the cause in the world nor sacrificed more to obtain or preserve the freedom of other peoples. It has afforded me a place to live that allows me to worship and serve God in magnificent ways. It has been a beacon of hope to the persecuted, oppressed, and disadvantaged of the world.
But I am concerned for my nation as well. We have become a nation without a moral compass–and we are adrift in the seas of the dangerous times in which we live.
I am tolerant person but I have always understood tolerance as meaning respecting the right of another to be the person they believe their conscience requires them to be. Now tolerance means acceptance of who that is as being right, i.e. agreeing that there is nothing wrong with what they do or what they believe.
Our common social contract has come to be defined not by an objective standard of right and wrong to which we are all accountable. It is now defined by what political correctness declares to be the right thing today. And that standard of political correctness does not respect anyone’s right to respectfully disagree.
There is much debate over whether or not we are a Christian nation or if we have ever been one. If you define Christian by the peculiar wedding of biblical morality with cultural convenience, then I would say we have had more of a civil religion than a biblical one. The Bible clearly stands against the materialistic greed that has been characterized as success, the enslavement of people of other races, the use of power that clearly contradicts the teachings of Jesus Christ, racial prejudice that spawned Jim Crow and the Klan. That list goes on.
Not all of our founding Fathers were Christians, but not all of them were the cynical secularists that the modern day secular liberal likes to claim. And it is clear from history that wherever they stood on the religious spectrum, they believed that those “inalienable rights” were to be grounded in the basic moral teachings of our Judeao-Christian roots,
William Penn wrote these words in the formative years of our nation: “Those who will not be governed by God, will be ruled by tyrants. ”
But his are not the only words from our beginnings as a nation. From George Washington:
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.”
—The Writings of Washington, pp. 342-343.
From John Adams, who signed the Declaration of Independence and served 2nd President of the US:
2nd U.S. President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence
“Suppose a nation in some distant Region should take the Bible for their only law Book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God … What a Eutopia, what a Paradise would this region be.”
—Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, Vol. III, p. 9.
John Hancock, the first of sign the Declaration of Independence:
“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.”
—History of the United States of America, Vol. II, p. 229.
FOR MORE GO TO MARY FAIRCHILD
I pray that my nation, our nation, would once again claim its moral foundations so that we could truly insure the common good.
© 2015 by Stephen L Dunn
Permission is given to reprint this post as long as it is not included in material that is for sale, that it is reproduced in its entirety including the copyright notice, and that a link is provided to this blog.
BY STEVE DUNN
On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court made a decision that is the equivalent of a moral earthquake. They declared by a 5-4 vote that same sex marriage was a right protected by the Constitution of the United States. It is an event that to many is a disastrous event for which our nation will further erode the already tenuous moral fabric of America. But to many it is a moral victory affirming a way of life that they consider both healthy and desirable. I stand on the side of those who consider this decision to be a sign of our moral failure. The fact that the decision had the slimmest of majorities should give us a clue as to how unwise and potentially dangerous this decision may prove to be.
Most of us who pay careful attention to the moral character of our nation saw this one coming. We also knew that there was nothing that we could do to stop it. We are already praying for the impact of what we believe will be ultimately prove to be unwise. Marriage, already an endangered institution, will not be strengthened. I believe that many people and families and our nation itself will be hurt by this decision. I agree with Russell Moore, writing in The Washington Post: “The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep.”
I will not elaborate on all my reasons. I suspect they would simply fuel what will become an even more nasty cultural debate. For now it is the law of the land. As a minister, nothing in the decision compels me to unite same sex couples. Marriage in the US is still a civil matter as the law goes, and I would give up my professional right to preside over those unions rather to participate in a legal process that deprived me of the right to act in a manner consistent with my biblically-informed conscience.
In the meantime, I will continue to love my neighbor regardless of their sexual orientation. I will treat them with gentleness and respect–which God commands me to do. But I will continue to affirm that I believe that marriage is intended to be between a man and a woman–and that to be healthy we must live by God’s design for this institution. And I will continue to teach that marriage is so sacred that it should involve the mutual submission under the love of Christ that makes such things as spousal abuse or abandonment or no-fault divorce something to be rejected in all ideas of marriage.
I will not engage in the falsehood of affirming a lifestyle that I believe to be contrary to God’s design because loving and respecting someone does not mean that I agree and approve with everyone’s personal decisions and values. That’s a destructive lie that political correctness would impose on all of us–a lie that often proves destructive to anyone that the guardians of political correctness deems to have less rights than the rest of the citizenry.
But let me repeat–I will not treat a lost battle in the culture war as an excuse to stop showing the unconditional love of the One who loves me conditionally to any person–straight or otherwise.
And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
In our performance-based, in your face, never let them see you sweat world–too often our both our position and success life depends on where you live, or Tex Sample says, “The wisdom in which you chose your parents.”
Although I am not an irresponsible,”everyone owes me something” person that hides behind a victim status; I am grateful that my ultimate worth does not depend on me. I depend on the One whose death and life and resurrection makes me worthy.
I resonate with and rest in the truth that the Apostle Paul spoke to the Church at Ephesus: “…For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” – Ephesians 2.8-10
One of my favorite singing groups testifies to it as well:
photo-karl merton ferron, Baltimore Sun
BY STEPHEN DUNN
This photo grabbed my attention this week. It was of a protestor in Baltimore responding the persons of the 300 Man March movement that had come to the city to try to be a “neutral force” in helping the anger and violence of Baltimore to subside. It was a sentiment shared by the citizens of that city that had been victimized by the riots on the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, apparently at the hands of officers of the Baltimore Police Force. It was shared by the black mayor of Baltimore who invoked a rigid curfew to control the violence. It was shared by the families of the 100 police officers who been attacked and injured while trying to protect the citizenry.
It was not shared, I suspect, by those of many races, who will continue to use this tragic event to further divide us and to use the misfortune of this city to advance their hateful and self-serving aims.
That Freddie Gray had died because of the criminal conduct of some officers seems pretty certain at this time. And if everything is proven in a court of law, these men in blue will become men in orange as they enter prison. But we should not forget that Freddie Gray’s criminal record reveals him to be a societal predator that undermines the well-being of any city. Still, he did not deserve to die as he did. He is hardly, however a martyr.
I believe that this man’s shirt should be our first goal. To stop murdering one another, stop preying on one another, stop hating one another because of our personal philosophies and prejudices. To stop trying hold onto the past as an excuse for despising our brothers.
I know that the issues are complicated, but resorting to violence unleashes hatred not healing–and we all suffer.
Long ago the Prophet Isaiah gave us wise counsel: …”Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, – Isaiah 1:17-18 And the end game of that effort: forgiveness and healing.