Friday, March 27, 2015

Matthew 18, 1 Cor. 6, and Romans 13

In a previous post, I believe I've at least made a case that churches ought to use Matthew 18 for reconciliation and church discipline whenever they've got a case of one believer--member--sinning against another.  As I recall a situation from when I was young in Christ--where a known unrepentant adulterer was serving as an usher--I really have trouble imagining a case in which I would not want known sin to be confronted in this way.  We can quibble over who is the victim who ought to confront, ask whether we ought to start in verse 15 or 16, and finally pray that church leadership learns what they need to do, but if we trust church leaders and members to serve on a jury, we then ought to require them to use the same kind of discretion in church discipline.

So back to the point; in what cases would the early church have reported sins to the state, and how can we apply their logic today?  Let's start by noting that the early church would not have referred every crime against Rome to the state.  Christianity itself was legal, most believers had no access to the courts, and even if a sponsor could be found to bring the matter there, the case might end up throwing the entire church to the lions.

I would therefore guess that they would only do so if the crime was such that the risk to the church was exceeded by the risk of the criminal to society.  Let's apply that standard to the kind of cases that often scandalizes churches; where adults physically or sexually abuse children and teens.

For starters, we're not being thrown to the lions these days, and much of our civil and criminal law actually follows Biblical principles.  So we don't have the element of fear that the early church did.  We do, however, have a danger to society; the average child molester molests eight girls or up to 240 boys, creating lifelong damage that is almost as significant as killing that child.

Using the logic of the ancients, we learn that the question is not if we ought to report them, but rather when and how.   One more fact; physical and sexual abuse leaves evidence that the police can collect if we approach them in time.  They may or may not be smarter than we are, but they have the tools.

What then is our role, given that we do not face the Circus Maximus for reporting a heinous crime?  It would seem that we therefore fulfill Matthew 18 by providing an advocate for the accuser, encouraging the accuser to go before authorities, preparing them for what they will face, and supporting them during that process--while following through on the rest of the Matthew 18 process as the allegations do, or do not, wind through the courts.

The last part is key IMO, as the central point of Matthew 18 is not church discipline, but rather a ministry of reconciliation.  Instead of appealing solely to Romans 13 and casting the sinner loose and trying to patch things up later, why not use the Matthew 18 process to persuade the defendant to make things as easy as possible on the accuser by making a full confession?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rescuing the use of Matthew 18

In recent weeks, events like the opening of the GRACE report about sexual abuse at Bob Jones University have made me aware of an interesting approach to Matthew 18 made by GRACE and others; that this reconciliation process only applies to minor, personal matters between individuals in the church.  Now I'm amenable to the motivation--who wants to force the 90 pound victim to confront her (his) 250 pound assailant alone?--but simply speaking, there is a lot of trouble with this approach.  For starters, the passage simply says "if your brother sins against you"--it doesn't tell us what sins might, or might not, be included. 

Couple that with Romans 13 (which indicates a significant role for kings in justice) and 1 Corinthians 6 (which indicates that believers in Corinth weren't supposed to go to law at all), and we have a recipe for confusion if we view this through modern eyes, where we have a large and fairly adequate civil and criminal justice system.   So let's try to look at these passages through "ancient eyes". 

A good place to start with Romans 13 and 1 Cor. 6 is to remember that only Roman citizens had access to the courts.  So when 1 Corinthians 6 was read for the first time, the minority who were wealthy citizens (probably some of the deacons and elders) were singled out.  The majority--slaves and poor--would have seen Romans 13 as an example of what could be done to them more than what could be done for them, the King's authority more than a promise of justice for them.

Hence, 1 Corinthians 6 might also read rich people, don't use the courts to abuse your poorer brothers; James 2:6 says this as well.  Today, we see this a lot in civil and family law, where people use false accusations and the civil courts to stomp the less fortunate into submission.  Thankfully in criminal law, the accuser at least must persuade an independent prosecutor that charges ought to be filed!

In this light, the application of Matthew 18 is very broad--it was the only recourse that most people had.  And we are left, again, with the question of whether we force that 90 pound victim to face her 250 pound offender alone.  Should we then abandon Matthew 18?

As repulsive as the picture we've discussed is, keep in mind that if we abandon Biblical process, we then will either exonerate the guilty or blame the innocent for one reason; criminal law is not necessarily God's law.  Plus, Matthew 18 works as much for reconciliation as it does for excommunication--it's a spiritual tool not given to the government.  How do we then rescue it?

First, remember that the first meeting where the accused was aware of his sin is when the assault(s) occurred.  Hence it looks like we ought to proceed directly to Matthew 18:16, where other witnesses would be involved.

Along the same lines, Scripture enjoins men to stand in for their wives and children, and even for widows and orphans, while pronouncing a curse against those who pervert justice.  So in that light, we ought to argue that any vulnerable accuser ought to be represented when confronting the one who has abused her--by parents, husband, or other responsible person capable of handling the situation.

That then leaves a very simple question; when does a church bring in civil authorities in the Matthew 18 process?  I'll present some thoughts soon.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Controversy of the week?

Apparently, it's over whether foreskins from infant circumcisions ought to be used for plastic surgery, wrinkle treatments, and skin treatments without notifying or paying the parents (or the unsuspecting donor of course).  As a boy myself and the father of two boys, I've got to say that I think it's kinda cool that those things can help burn victims, but the flip side is that I think that those who use them for pure vanity ought to be compelled to reveal exactly what is making that face look so good.

I can imagine it as something of an anti-cougar initiative--the unsuspecting young man asks his older date how she looks so good, she'd answer....and....."CHECK PLEASE."

If Starbucks really wants to help minorities

.....then they might consider sending some of the St. Olaf and Carleton grads they've got currently working as baristas to places like Ferguson, Gary, the South Side of Chicago, and the like to start some coffee shops there that might employ minority youth.

They've got the mouth, and the pen.  Now they need to put their money where their mouth is. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

Looking for what to do?  Here you go!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pure brilliance in Minnesota

Apparently, Minnesota high schools and others are following the lead of California in allowing "transgender" students to participate in the opposite sex's sports teams, use the opposite sex's restrooms, and even shower in the opposite sex's locker rooms.  Now apart from the objections that I earlier raised to the California case, let's raise a simple concern.

Historically, restrooms and locker rooms are sex segregated because of the vulnerability that follows being partially or fully nude.  A man in the ladies' room is hence automatically assumed to be there for the wrong reasons, and thus will be removed before.....

.....he can demonstrate that he belongs on Megan's List along with 700,000 others already there.  So if a "transgender" person wonders why I don't want him using the ladies' room along with my daughters, this is why.  It's not about the "transgender" person, but about close to a million others who might use the opportunity misguided policies like this afford to take advantage of vulnerable people.

Wonder of wonders......

I sort of agree with the President's goal to reduce government greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.  But that said, I really don't get how he claims that we'd only save $18 billion per year.  Come on, cut Energy by 95%, Education by 100%, Transportation by ......I'm thinking we could save a trillion or more annually, not some piddly eighteen billion bucks. 

Maybe it has something to do with how he'd reduce energy usage vs. how I'd do it.....

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The definition of "Liberal":

person who cannot do math

How so, or what is your host ranting about this time?  Simple; our friend Mitch references the results of a Seattle initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour.  Not surprisingly, a number of restauranteurs, facing a 60% increase in wages that already take up 36% of restaurant revenues, decided that they would close their doors rather than risk their already lean (4% on average) profit margins.

The kicker, in my view, is the liberal view that "businesses would simply pay the mandated wage out of profits, raising earnings for workers".   Sorry, folks, but a 60% hike in wages from 36% of revenue can't come out of a 4% profit margin.  And therefore a lot of low wage workers in Seattle are losing their jobs, which suggests another definition for "liberal".

person who talks a lot about helping the poor while doing things that hurt them, aided and abetted by an inability to do math or understand the basics of accounting

Want to be homeschooled, young person?

If you're lucky enough to live in the Commonwealth of Virginia, apparently all you need to do is to take a maple, buckeye, oregano, or other sort of cannabis-looking leaf to school, and you will be expelled.   Yeah, next time someone tells me how smart and moral educators are, this story is coming up.

Along the same lines, the DEA apparently wants to show that they are as foolish as Virginia school administrators.  How so?  They are apparently arguing against a Utah (UTAH?) marijuana legalization initiative by warning that normal, plant eating rodents will become the killer rabbit of Caerbannog if they are exposed to the vile demon weed. 

And yeah, this calls for a couple of videos to illustrate the risks we're all exposed to these days.


And of course from Minnesota native Robert Zimmerman:


Thursday, March 12, 2015

That's what talent will get you

Back when  was a young skull full of mush (as opposed to an old skull full of mush), I remember asking my dad why Catherine Bach (Daisy from the Dukes of Hazzard, of course) insured her legs for four million dollars.  My father simply pointed out to me that she wasn't getting paid for her  acting skills.

Fast forward to today, and singer Taylor Swift is said to have insured her legs for $40 million.   Sometimes the most embarrassing confessions we make are the ones we don't realize we're making, aren't they?

I'm referring, of course, to the fact that I did indeed watch Dukes of Hazzard as a child.  Now what were you thinking?

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Interesting column on same sex "marriage"

From World Magazine.  There are a number of things that are fascinating here; despite the consensus among many psychologists and sociologists that child-rearing by same-sex couples is "about the same" as that by heterosexuals, it appears that at least a few products of such parenting are speaking up and saying "well, that's not exactly true".

Leaving open the question of what the numbers are statistically significant, what the people are saying is fairly simple; same sex parenting appears to leave a gaping hole that would ordinarily be filled by father and mother--whichever usually would complement the custodial parent in a same sex relationship, of course.  It is worth noting as well that many studies of same sex parenting compare primarily to the results of single parenting--in other words, to a model of parenting we already know contributes disproportionately to prison populations, welfare rolls, and the like.

But in my mind, this is not the kicker--we can debate, reasonably, whether same sex parenting is slightly better than single parenting due to two people being involved with greater resources, slightly worse because the relationship is unnatural, or complicated--and "complicated" is my view, as single parents also are not always adhering to Biblical mores, either.

The kicker, rather, is that it appears that a major, if not the major, contributor to same sex parenting is the divorce of heterosexual couples.  So it would appear that sexual identity is somewhat fluid, and not clearly innate--exactly what one would assume from the 1990s twins study that found that only 50% or so of the identical twins of homosexual men were themselves homosexual.

Kicker #2 is a reminder that the biggest hazard kids have is not homosexuals getting "married", but rather divorce and especially unwed parenting.  We "fundagelicals" need to keep our eyes on the ball here.  Probably the best way to help kids is to remove the incentives to divorce--taxpayer subsidies for daycare, welfare programs (including the ACA/Health Insurance Deform Act) that favor single parenting, presumption of maternal custody in child custody cases, and the like.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

It boggles the mind

Regarding the scandal regarding Hillary Clinton's tenure at the State Department, and in the Senate, not apparently involving using government emails for government business, it strikes me that if I'd told any of my employers that I'd be doing my work using an unsecured personal email, administered by someone unknown to them, and assuring them that everything was on the up and up, I'd have been walked out that day.  And if I'd by some weird chance persuaded one of my employers' IT departments to go along with my scheme, they'd be joining me as I got walked out as soon as management figured it out.  Had I tried it with one of my employers, a defense contractor, I'd have been walked out and referred for prosecution--despite the fact that I've never held a security clearance.

And Mrs. Clinton was, of course, dealing with confidential and classified information on a daily basis.  Why the entire Obama administration isn't currently incarcerated at Club Gitmo is beyond me.  No private citizen not in the special favor of the government could get away with this sort of thing.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Wisconsin doing better than Minnesota?

A common theme among Minnesota liberals is that Wisconsin economic growth is down since a Republican took the governor's office in 2011.  Well, let's take a look at that data, and let's take a look back a few decades.



All in all, it looks like the differences between Minnesota and Wisconsin in terms of economic activity really got going in 2001 or so, not 2011.  Now part of that gap can be attributed to the recession that followed the World Trade Center bombings and Wisconsin's dependence on manufacturing, but that gap seems to have widened from 2003 to 2010.  What, then, occurred in this time frame?

Answer, of course, is that liberal Jim Doyle was governor of Wisconsin while a moderately conservative man, Tim Pawlenty, was governor of Minnesota.  This is where the big gap opened up in terms of economic performance, and it demonstrates that yes, it matters when you've got adults in charge.  Or, ahem, if you don't.

And Minnesota's recent good times?  Well, it's healthcare (United Health and others are based here, as well as our little clinic here in Rochester) and education.  In other words, that $900 million Dayton put into education is going into....well, let's say it, hiring in education that may or may not indicate long term economic growth.  In other words, "juicing the statistics."

Sunday, March 01, 2015

If there was something lacking in church today.....

....the problem might be Las Brazas restaurant in downtown Mankato, Minnesota.  And how is this so?

Simple.  Las Brazas introduced a new flavor of meat for their wonderful burritos, tacos, and taco salads:  pastor.  Now they claim that it's just marinated pork--a delicious slow cooked meat with a nice mild pepper sauce, by the way--but we all know what could get into pork dishes in pre-Christian Polynesia and "Fried Green Tomatoes."



Seriously, if you're in Mankato and need a bite to eat, we heartily recommend Las Brazas for a quick bite to eat--come hungry--and we would never seriously accuse their ownership of supporting cannibalism.  If you're not near Mankato, here's a recipe and a history.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sermon illustrations I'd rather not hear

....yet have regrettably heard too often.  They belong to the genre of "sappy story that will guilt you into good works" (or not), and two of the worst are (a) the story of the little boy who is going to give blood to his sister and thinks they're going to drain him and (b) the story of the bridge operator forced by circumstances to crush his own son in the machinery to save a train full of passengers.

Now one would hope that "guilt you into good works" would die for that reason alone, as the good works only last as long as the guilt does--maybe a few days, really.  But no such luck, and hence we need to appeal to the question of whether the stories are true.

And they almost certainly are not, sad to say, and we really ought to spot this more readily.  For both stories, we can start with the fact that there is no journalistic record of either event--are we to believe that such a "good story" went unreported?

Regarding the first, the story is generally told that the child is "wheeled" into the room, and that the tube goes from donor to recipient.  Now speaking as a guy with 15 gallon pins, it's not how it's done--never has been and never will be. You never take from a child because he'd need a transfusion afterwards, and since you only need to match blood type and Rh factor, you don't need a tight donor match like you do for kidneys, hearts, and such.  You never need a family match for a blood transfusion.  It's also important that the person walk to the donation, because if he can't, you've got to assume that he's not healthy enough to donate.

Plus, you need to test the blood for disease, measure how much you've taken, and finally you need some pressure to carry the blood from the bag to the recipient, typically about 100mm Hg or a rise of about 1 meter.  That's why transfusion blood goes on the same stand with the other IV solutions.  You can't just put a tube between two people and hope all goes well. 

The second story is as much nonsense as the first for a very simple factor; it is the bridge operator who signals that the line is clear after he closes the bridge.  So if he sees someone in the machinery, he does nothing, the signal remains red, the train stops, and no one gets hurt.  And if a train should ignore the signals, there is nothing the operator can do because closing the bridge takes minutes.  It's been this way since the 19th century--it's why you will to this day see a telegraph line beside many railroad tracks.

Hopefully this will help some dear brothers and sisters in Christ take a stand against emotional blackmail as a sermon tool.