Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why Prostitution Should Not Be Legal

Note: For those concerned by the title, this post is NOT sexually explicit. It simply covers the issue of prostitution (in very general terms) from the viewpoint of inalienable rights. I do my best to remain discreet and tasteful even when discussing activities that are not.

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One of the major problems I have with some of the ideas of Libertarians is that they misunderstand inalienable rights and their application in government and society. This has led to some incorrect views on some major social issues such as recreational drugs, abortion, and prostitution. I’ll be examining some of their claims in coming posts.

In this post, I’ll examine one of the claims of the Libertarians: that prostitution (if voluntary) hurts no one and should be legal. This claim is false on both fronts. Prostitution does in fact cause harm, even when it is voluntary. It is also a violation of inalienable rights and, since government’s highest purpose is the protection of inalienable rights, it should be illegal.

First of all, prostitution violates the inalienable rights of the prostitute. This is true even if the prostitute wants to be a prostitute and wants the specific act with the specific person. As we saw in Part 1 and Part 2 of my inalienable rights series, God, as our Creator, retains rights to us. Since we are the work of His labor, we are not free to do whatever we want with our bodies. A person’s inalienable rights cannot be given up, even by the person himself, since they are really rights that God retains to His creation. For example, we cannot rightfully kill ourselves or sell ourselves into slavery, even if we wish to. Prostitution is, at its heart, a selling of the intimate self. Such a thing is not permissible, nor should it be.

Prostitution also causes physical, emotional, and spiritual harm to both parties involved. It is not a “victimless crime.” Physically, there is great risk of transmitting sexually-transmitted diseases. Many people who wish to legalize prostitution point to countries where it has been made legal and where medical evaluation and treatment are available to lessen this factor. While the precautions taken in these countries are better than nothing, they can, at best, lessen the risk. They cannot take it away completely.

Emotionally, prostitution is also harmful to both parties. To claim otherwise shows a profound misunderstanding of the nature of sex. Contrary to popular opinion, sex is not simply a physical act. Sex was designed to be a complete merging of a man and a woman in marriage to become physically, emotionally, and spiritually connected on the deepest level. The two become one. Even when used outside the bounds of marriage, sex still connects people. It has been described as “emotional superglue.” During sexual activities, the hormone oxytocin is released from the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “cuddle hormone” and it produces feelings of love, satisfaction, and attachment. It is the same hormone released when a mother cuddles and nurses her child that bonds them together. Regardless of whether two people love each other or have a marriage commitment, the same hormone is released when they engage in sexual activities together. In the absence of a committed relationship, the hormone causes only mental and emotional havoc. To have complete strangers engage in such an intimate activity short circuits the way that sex and sexual relationships are designed to work. It leaves people with a disconnect that hinders their ability to really love and bond emotionally in a marriage relationship. It may also produce feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and lack of self-esteem. Prostitution is especially damaging to women, who are more emotionally vulnerable. In essence, prostitution is simply rape that has been agreed to for a price and bears the same emotional consequences.

Another thing to consider is that, if the john is married, prostitution is also a violation of the conjugal rights of his wife. A husband and wife have a covenantal relationship such that (among other things) they have exclusive rights to each other’s sexual acts. Marriage is, by nature, sexually exclusive. It is designed to be a merging of two selves to become one. It is impossible to give yourself wholly to more than one person; each person has only one self to give. In marriage, that self is given to the spouse. Married couples no longer belong only to themselves, but belong equally to each other. Thus, prostitution steals that which rightfully belongs only to the spouse. Prostitution (of either spouse) violates the marriage relationship by attempting to give part of the self (which belongs to the spouse) to another.

Since prostitution violates inalienable rights and in some cases is a violation of conjugal rights, government should protect these rights by making prostitution illegal. However, even if prostitution violated no one’s rights, society has the right to decide that certain activities will not be allowed as long as they are not thereby violating anyone’s inalienable rights (as we saw in Part 3 of the inalienable rights series). The ability to be or use a prostitute is not an inalienable right. At best, it would be an individual liberty (although, as we saw above, it is actually a violation of inalienable rights). Thus, banning prostitution does not violate any inalienable rights. Prostitution has detrimental effects on society (such as the breakup of marriages, the spreading of sexually-transmitted disease, and the devaluation of women). A society is therefore justified in making such activities illegal without having to prove that the activity directly violates someone’s rights.

Thus we see that the arguments of those who wish to legalize prostitution are flawed. Prostitution does indeed cause harm to both the prostitute and those who use her and also brings harm to society. More importantly, however, prostitution violates the inalienable rights of the prostitute and the conjugal rights of any married participant’s spouse. All of these are good and sufficient reasons for making prostitution illegal.

The response of some Libertarians (like Ron Paul) to the issue of prostitution is to “leave it to the states.” That’s the standard Libertarian response to every issue on which they don’t want to take an actual stand. But this is not the proper response. While many issues should be handled at the state level, no government at any level has the right to allow inalienable rights to be violated.

This is an extremely important point that Libertarians have failed to distinguish. They think they are returning to the fundamental concepts of the Founding Fathers, and in some cases they are, but in this case they promote a view that is totally inconsistent with the principles on which this country was founded. Inalienable rights are only inalienable if the person cannot give them up under any circumstance. This is because God holds these rights and has not granted them to mankind. Thus, as the Founding Fathers understood this concept, inalienable rights imply that a person does not have the right to participate in certain activities – those that violate anyone’s inalienable rights (even his own). Since government’s most basic purpose is to protect inalienable rights, it is the duty of all government – federal, state, and local – to make and enforce laws that make violations of inalienable rights illegal. So if prostitution is a violation of inalienable rights (and it is), then no state or federal government has the right to legalize it.


Linked up with WLWW.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Easy Baked Chicken Strips

We love these as a lunch or supper item and they’re super easy. They turn out a little crispy on the outside and moist and tasty inside.


2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2/3 cup Sour Cream
1/2 tsp Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice (optional)
1/8 tsp Salt (optional)
1-1/2 cups Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs

Cut the chicken breasts into strips (about 6-8 per breast). In a small bowl, mix sour cream, Worchestershire sauce, lemon juice, and salt. Dip chicken strips in sour cream mixture and then coat in seasoned bread crumbs. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.




Note: Measurements are approximate. I never measure these. You can adjust them to taste.


Linked up with WLWW.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Biblical View of Alcohol

The subject of alcohol consumption has long been disputed within Christian circles. My purpose here is not to condemn anyone, but to set forth what I believe the Bible says on the subject.

First of all, some background is in order. Alcohol fermentation is a process by which sugars are converted to ethanol (alcohol), usually by yeasts (a type of fungus). Fermentation is an anaerobic process, meaning that it does not require oxygen. Sugary fluids (such as grape juice) left in an enclosed container without refrigeration will naturally ferment. Yeasts often grow on grapes or other fruits and are also found in the air, so they can begin fermentation easily even in fresh products. Once the sugars in the fluid are all converted to alcohol, the fermentation must stop. However, if there are lots of sugars in the fluid, the concentration of alcohol may get so high that it kills the yeasts before the sugars are used up. Therefore, there is a natural limit on the concentration of alcohol that can be achieved naturally through fermentation. In most cases, this limit is about 12% alcohol. Today, some special types of yeasts can be used that survive in higher alcohol concentrations up to about 20%. Higher alcohol concentrations than this are achieved by distillation, in which the alcohol is selectively evaporated, collected, and condensed back into liquid again. The first known instance of alcohol distillation was in the 12th century A.D. Thus, in Bible times, the maximum concentration of alcohol in any alcoholic drink would have been less than 20% and probably more like 12%. Even this concentration may not have been achieved naturally if the substance used in fermentation did not have sufficient amounts of sugars.

The most common alcoholic drink of Bible times was wine. Grapes were plentiful and highly prized in the region and wine was a very common drink. Since refrigeration was unknown in Bible times, all wine that wasn’t freshly squeezed would have begun to ferment. However, the alcohol concentration would have been fairly low in most cases. Only very old wine would have had high enough alcohol content to make getting drunk a realistic possibility. However, the alcohol content of wines could also be reduced or eliminated by boiling, so it would be quite possible for even old wine to have little or no alcohol.

There are several words used in the original Biblical texts to refer to wine. These are the most common Hebrew words translated as “wine” in the Old Testament:

·         Yayin – generic term used to refer to grape juice, either fermented or unfermented
·         Tirosh – freshly squeezed grape juice (unfermented); often translated as “new wine”
·         Shekar – used to refer to fermented beverages (including those not made from grapes) that were very alcoholic; usually translated as “strong drink” or “strong wine”

In the New Testament, the Greek term oinos is the most common term for wine and refers to both fermented and unfermented varieties. The adjective “new” was sometimes added to refer specifically to unfermented wine.

Note: These words can be looked up with a Strong’s concordance (Yayin = H3196, Tirosh = H8492, Shekar = H7941, Oinos = G3631).

Unfermented wine is always considered good to drink and serves as a symbol of blessing in the Bible. For example, in Genesis 27:28, Isaac blesses Jacob with these words: “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine (tirosh).

Several other passages indicate specifically that new wine is a blessing.

Deuteronomy 11:13-14:
And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine (tirosh), and thine oil.

Jeremiah 31:11-12 it says:
For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine (tirosh), and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

On the other hand, purposeful consumption of highly fermented wine is universally condemned in Scripture, as is being drunk. Proverbs 20:1 says “Wine (yayin) is a mocker, strong drink (shekar) is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Interestingly, the word translated “deceived” in this passage means to stray or be misled into doing wrong. It is also used in passages where it refers to being “ravished” by an adulterous woman. The idea here is of unwisely indulging in a wrongful desire that causes you to sin.

Strong drink is warned against in many passages as causing sin and being unwise.

Isaiah 28:7:
But they also have erred through wine (yayin), and through strong drink (shekar) are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink (shekar), they are swallowed up of wine (yayin), they are out of the way through strong drink (shekar); they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

Proverbs 31:4-5:
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine (yayin); nor for princes strong drink (shekar): Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

Proverbs 23:29-35:
Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine (yayin); they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine (yayin) when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Wine is forbidden to leaders and those dedicated to God such as priests (Leviticus 10:9), Nazarites (Numbers 6:3), kings (Proverbs 31:14), and church leadership (I Timothy 3:3, 3:8).

The only good use given in Scripture for highly fermented wine is medicinal. It may be used as a pain reliever for the very ill and dying or to treat certain ailments. Proverbs 31:6 says: “Give strong drink (shekar) unto him that is ready to perish, and wine (yayin) unto those that be of heavy hearts.” Similarly, Paul tells Timothy (in I Timothy 5:23) to “use a little wine (oinos) for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” Note that it specifically says “a little” and only for sickness.

The above passages are quite clear in their identification of fermented and unfermented drinks. Unfermented drinks are good while highly fermented ones are not wise to consume and can lead people astray. Note that “highly fermented” in Bible times was very low compared to today’s standards. Modern alcoholic drinks would all fall under the category of “strong drink” according to Biblical usage and most would be far stronger than anything available back then.

There are many passages where “wine” is used generically (yayin or oinos) and it may not be immediately clear whether fermented or unfermented wine is meant. The above clear passages help to clarify such unclear instances.

For example, considering that Jesus was our High Priest and priests were not to drink alcohol, the wine Jesus drank at the Last Supper was undoubtedly unfermented. In fact, Jesus specifically referred to the wine he drank as “fruit of the vine” to indicate that it was unfermented. Also, all leaven (yeast) and leavened products were forbidden during the Passover (Exodus 12:19) since leaven was a symbol of sin. Thus, fermented wine, as a leavened substance, would not have been used by Jesus at a Passover supper. Similarly, the wine made by Jesus at the wedding in Cana was new wine as it was noted for being the “good wine.” Since new wine is what was named as a blessing in Scripture, it was the unfermented new wine that would be considered “good” wine, and it makes sense that Jesus made new wine to bless the marriage.

Another verse that should be mentioned in this discussion is Ephesians 5:18, which says “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Many people have attempted to use this verse as license to drink alcohol so long as they do not become drunk. However, when you actually pay attention to the purpose of the verse, it becomes clear that this is not permission to indulge. The contrast in this verse is between being filled with alcohol (drunk) and being filled with the Spirit. Since the purpose of being filled with the Spirit is to modify our hearts and behaviors to become more like Christ, the contrast here is between having our behavior and mood modified by alcohol or modified by the Spirit. It’s saying that we should not use alcohol to make ourselves feel better or to change the way we behave; that need should be filled by the Holy Spirit. So how drunk is drunk? Any amount of alcohol taken for the purpose of altering your behavior or mood is contrary to the spirit of this verse.

Other issues to consider with regard to alcohol are the principle of our bodies as temples for God (thus we should avoid substances such as alcohol that may harm them) and the need to avoid anything that may cause our brother to stumble or harm our Christian witness. We are also commanded not to be controlled by anything, so anything addictive should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

In summary, unfermented wine (grape juice) is used widely in the Bible as a symbol of blessing. However, fermented beverages are warned against and should be avoided. Deliberate use of alcohol is considered unwise and very likely to lead to sin. An important thing to note here is that alcohol itself is not sinful. It is an inanimate thing and, as such, is amoral. However, the way that alcohol is used may be sinful. Anything strongly fermented enough to be able to produce alteration of behavior or allow the possibility of being drunk is condemned in Scripture. Alcohol harms the body and can lead to addiction, both of which are also good reasons to avoid it based on Biblical principles. Alcohol was permitted for valid medicinal uses (many of which, however, can now be replaced with less harmful and more effective substances). Nowhere is the idea of social drinking condoned. Consumption of highly fermented beverages (strong drink) for recreational purposes is not permitted. Since all modern alcoholic drinks would easily fall within the Biblical understanding of strong drink, they should not be consumed.

In the end, it is not alcohol that is the evil, but our wayward hearts and wrong desires. We are not to use alcohol (or any other chemical) to alter our mood and behavior. We should seek in every way to be controlled and changed by the Spirit of God, and not by any other thing.

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This is not, by any means, a comprehensive discussion of every aspect of the issue of alcohol consumption. It is a brief summary of the main points and conclusions that I have come to in studying this issue. I encourage you to do your own study. May God give you wisdom and understanding as you seek His heart.


Linked up with WLWW and Rising with the Son.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Items to Discuss Before Engagement

When my husband and I first started our relationship, we asked each other a lot of questions by email in order to get to know one another. Actually, in the spirit of full confession, I wrote up a list of questions that I emailed to him after our first date. Not exactly the most romantic overture. But it worked for us because we are both the logical, analytical type and we were both looking for a marriage partner, not just a nebulous romantic relationship. We both answered the questions from our perspective and it gave us a way to check out the important issues to make sure we were compatible before getting too emotionally involved in the relationship. Of course, we talked about many, many other things during our dating relationship, but having answered these initial questions helped make sure we were on the same page from the beginning. And to our great surprise and delight, we found we were very compatible on every item.

While I don’t necessarily recommend that everyone hand a list of questions to their romantic interest right after the first date, I do think that couples should discuss important issues fairly early in the relationship. If dating (or courtship) is for the purpose of finding a spouse (and I believe it is), then it should focus on determining compatibility first, before building emotional attachment.

Here is the slightly modified list of questions I sent Doug (which we jokingly refer to as the “million questions”). I have divided them up by topic for simplicity. They are mostly open ended because the purpose is to encourage discussion of these issues, not simply to provide a checklist. This list assumes that both the man and woman are Christians and want to have a God-honoring relationship (and possibly a marriage). Some of these questions should definitely be addressed early on in the relationship while others can wait until later. This is not a complete list of everything a couple should discuss before becoming engaged, but it serves as a framework for finding out how compatible they are on major issues. Discussing these major issues can help dating couples make wise and informed choices in their relationship. And in the long run, having compatible views on these issues will lead to a stronger, closer marriage.


Romantic Relationships

·         What does a God-honoring dating/courting relationship look like?

·         What kinds of character traits should a man look for in a wife? Or a woman look for in a husband?

·         What topics should (or should not) be discussed by two people who are trying to determine whether or not they are compatible for marriage?

·         What types of situations/behaviors should be off limits before marriage? What physical boundaries are appropriate? Should hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, or other types of physical affection be reserved strictly for marriage (and, if so, which ones)? If you and your girlfriend/boyfriend disagree on these limits, would you still honor his or her standards and abide by them?

·         What romantic relationships have you had and do you think that your relationship(s) maintained Godly purity and integrity? If so, what factors do you think were important to that success? If not, have you taken steps or made decisions to prevent similar problems in the future?

Husbands/Wives

·         What do you see as the role of the husband in a marriage? The role of the wife? Should men and women have different roles in a family? If so, how should they differ?

·         How should a man treat his wife? How should a woman treat her husband?

·         Should the husband be the leader in a marriage relationship? If so, in what areas, and what does that look like?

·         Should a woman submit to her husband? If so, what does that look like?

·         What is the purpose of marriage? What should be the focus of a marriage relationship, and how should couples endeavor to keep that focus?

·         Do you think divorce is ever an option for Christians? If so, in what circumstances? Is remarriage after divorce ever a valid option? If so, in what situations?

Children

·         Are you open to having children? If so, how many children do you want? What do you think about birth control?

·         How should children be raised? How should children be disciplined? How important is it to teach children to work? To give them a good education? To teach them to study and understand the Bible?

·         How should married couples address differences in views on how and what children should be taught?

Family Life

·         What tasks or responsibilities should be designated to the husband? To the wife? To the children?

·         Who should make the final decision if a disagreement arises? How should that decision be made?

·         Should a woman work outside the home? Should that change if/when she has children? Should a wife be expected to make some income after having children or is that the responsibility of the husband? If a wife wants to work outside the home (before or after having children), should she? If so, what types of job situations might be acceptable and what types (if any) are not?

·         What schooling options would you consider for your children? Public school? Private school? Home school? How important is your school preference to you?

·         What should be the role of media (especially entertainment) in family life? How do you decide what is and isn't appropriate to watch or listen to? Are there entertainment choices that are appropriate for adults, but not for children? If so, what criteria should be used to discern that?

Parents and Extended Family

·         What consideration should dating/courting couples give to parental (or other relative) approval and/or concerns?

·         Should a man ask a woman's father before beginning a romantic relationship with her? Before asking her to marry him? After asking her, but before marrying her?

Church

·         What are the major considerations when choosing a church to attend? Should doctrine be the only/most important concern? Should worship style (music, volume, enthusiasm) be an important consideration? What about the qualifications and reputation of the pastor and other leaders? What about programs and opportunities for ministry involvement?

·         How important is church membership? Or church involvement? Is tithing important to you?

·         If a husband and wife disagree on some doctrinal points, how should that be handled when looking for a church home? How should it be handled when raising children?


Are there any other questions that should be included here? What other topics or questions should be discussed before becoming engaged? Comment if you have additional ideas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inalienable Rights – Part 5: Some Common Misconceptions

If you’re just now joining us, you can read the rest of the inalienable rights series starting here.

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In this post, I’ll finish this series by addressing some common misconceptions about inalienable rights. If anyone has further questions, feel free to post them in the comments below. My husband and I are planning to write a book on this topic and welcome any input.

Inalienable vs. Unalienable Rights

I’ve been surprised at the number of posts online that attempt to distinguish between inalienable and unalienable rights. There is no difference. The word inalienable and the word unalienable mean exactly the same thing.

Historically speaking, the idea of a single correct spelling of a word is quite a new phenomenon. Today, English is standardized so that each word has a correct usage and spelling. However, the English language has a long and complicated history, and the process of standardizing words took a long time. Prior to the widespread use of dictionaries, there were often multiple spellings of words that could be considered correct, and people often used the one they preferred.

The prefixes in- and un- both mean “not.” Both indicate the opposite of the root word they are attached to. For instance, we say in-capable and un-attractive, meaning “not capable” and “not attractive,” respectively. There are even some cases where these two prefixes can be used interchangeably (such as inarguable and unarguable) or instances where derivations of the same word use different prefixes (such as uncivil and incivility). Thus unalienable and inalienable mean the same thing: “not able to be alienated.”

Even dictionary.com realizes that these two words have the same meaning. It gives the definition of inalienable as “not alienable; not transferable to another or capable of being repudiated: inalienable rights.” Its definition for unalienable is simply “inalienable.” Both words have the same meaning. This is a case where either prefix may be used. Jefferson used unalienable in the Declaration of Independence so there is historical significance to that spelling. I prefer the term inalienable because it is generally accepted as the more correct spelling.

Alienation of Rights vs. Infringement of Rights

Some people say that government (or some other entity) is taking away our inalienable rights. This is common usage, but is technically incorrect and leads to confusion about the nature of inalienable rights. Since inalienable rights cannot be given up, taken away, or transferred for any reason, it is impossible for government or anyone else to take away a person’s inalienable rights. They will always have their inalienable rights. However, those inalienable rights may not be properly recognized and may be infringed upon. Alienable rights – which cannot be taken away, but may be voluntarily given up or transferred to another person – can also be infringed upon. Violation of rights is referred to in the Declaration of Independence as “abuses and usurpations.”

An infringement or violation of a person’s rights occurs when an entity disregards those rights and acts in violation of them. For example, if someone steals my car (to which I have an alienable right), they have not removed my right to my car. I am still the rightful owner. Until I voluntarily sell or give the car to someone else or abandon it, the car is rightfully mine. If someone steals it, they have infringed upon my right to use my car. They are treating the car as if they had a right to it that they do not have, and they have prevented me from using my car in the way I choose. They have not, however, taken away my right to my car. Only I can do that.

In the case of inalienable rights, I cannot even give up those rights if I wished to. Thus, if someone were to murder me, they would not have removed my right to life, but simply violated it. Similarly, if government were to say that I will be sold as a slave, they would not have thereby taken away my right to liberty, but infringed upon it. My rights to life and liberty will always be mine and cannot be taken away. Infringement of rights is morally wrong. Thus, a just government will always recognize and protect the rights of the people. If government tries to infringe upon the rights of the people, it does not deny the people their rights, it merely violates them and makes itself an invalid government (at least for that action).

This distinction, of having rights violated rather than removed, is important. Inalienable rights cannot be given up or transferred under any circumstances, and alienable rights can only be given up or transferred by the person holding them. If government (or any other entity) can really take away or transfer our rights (whether alienable or inalienable) to another, then they are not really “rights” after all. They are nothing more than privileges, and we hold them only at the whim of government.

Rights vs. Privileges

Many people confuse rights with privileges. Privileges are those specific things which a person does not have an inherent right to do, but is allowed to do. A privilege is granted by permission from an authority and can be restricted or revoked by that same authority. A privilege is usually given to a select group. If a mother gives her child permission to watch television, that is a privilege. No child has a right to watch TV. It is something that may be granted to a child and can be revoked by the parent at any time.

Rights, on the other hand, cannot be taken away from the person who holds them. An inalienable right is something that a person inherently has by virtue of being human. Inalienable rights are thus universal (all people have them) and permanent (cannot be given up or taken away). Alienable rights are not universal, but unlike privileges, they cannot be revoked by another. They can only be voluntarily given up by the one who holds them. While privileges require permission, a person does not need anyone’s permission to exercise his rights.

Of course, people have the inalienable right to liberty, which means they have a right to freely choose their actions within the scope of their rights. They have the right to choose to do anything they have a right or privilege to do, without coercion. Remember, however, that the right to liberty is different than an individual liberty. Individual liberties are possible things that a person can do and each one is an alienable right, meaning that it can be voluntarily given up. When no law has made an action illegal and the action does not infringe upon anyone’s rights, the action falls within the realm of possible free choices that can be made under the right to liberty. However, when a law is made within a representative government that limits an action (and as long as that law does not violate anyone’s inalienable rights), that action has been freely given up by the person (through his representatives) and is no longer something that he has a right to freely choose to do. When an action is limited in this way and government grants permission for some people to engage in that action, it becomes a privilege.

So, for example, the choice to drive a car on public roads (which is an alienable right) has been freely given up by the citizens of the United States through laws made by their representatives. Government then grants the privilege of driving on public roads to select individuals (those who have a driver’s license) under certain circumstances (when there is car insurance on the vehicle and traffic rules are obeyed).

In summary, an inalienable right, since it cannot be given up or transferred for any reason, can never be rightfully limited by government or made a privilege. Alienable rights may be given up or transferred by the one who holds them, but cannot be removed by any other entity.

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That wraps up the inalienable rights series. However, that is certainly not the last I will write on the subject. Stay tuned for a number of posts on the applications of these concepts to various issues. In coming weeks, I will be covering the inalienable rights perspective on abortion, marriage, prostitution, illegal drugs, Supreme Court cases, current events, and many others.


The Inalienable Rights Series
Part 1: What are Inalienable Rights?
Part 2: The Source of Inalienable Rights
Part 3: Liberty in Society and Government
Part 4: Government by Consent of the Governed
Part 5: Some Common Misconceptions


Friday, April 13, 2012

Obamas Out of Touch with Working Americans

Last Friday, President Obama gave a speech during “The White House Forum on Women and the Economy” during which he explained the reason that Michelle did not stay home with their daughters, but went back to work. Their reason? “We didn't have the luxury for her not to work.”

Hold on a second…didn’t have the luxury for her not to work?! According to this news article, in 2005, when their daughters were 7 and 4, Mr. Obama was making $162,100 a year (in the U.S. Senate) and Michelle made $316,962. Their combined income at that time was more than the Presidential salary of $400,000.

But they just couldn’t afford to live on a meager $162,100. There was no help for it. Michelle wanted to stay home, but they just couldn’t make ends meet that way.

Well, now we know – there’s no reasonable way for a family of 4 to survive on $162k per year. Our most brilliant President thinks so. Those of us who have somehow managed to do this must be truly incredible people. No doubt we have horribly scarred our families by not being able to afford multiple Hawaii vacations and country club memberships. How do we ever make it without such basic necessities as caviar and designer clothing? We surely must be living below the poverty level.

Now the sad story Obama tells of how terribly they struggled and Michelle’s difficult time in balancing work and family is meant to show how they can empathize with working class Americans. See, the Obamas are just like us. They know how hard it is to struggle financially, to wonder how they will ever afford the things they truly need. They want us to know they have felt our pain. Nice try, Mr. President.

To those of us who have been able to live on one income (often less than $40,000), who really do sacrifice to have a mom who stays at home, this is laughable. The Obamas don’t understand that it’s not a matter of how much you make. It’s not a question of luxury at all. It’s a priority we make for the sake of our kids. And we also know that there is a big difference between luxuries and necessities. The number of real necessities is far smaller than the Obamas can grasp, apparently.

To those who really do lack the option to stay home, this is an insult. The Obamas may have had their reasons for Michelle to work, but lack of money wasn’t one of them. It wasn’t that they lacked the luxury for her to stay home so much as that they wouldn’t have had enough luxury for their highbrow lifestyle and tastes without Michelle’s considerable income.

This is just another example of how out of touch the first family is with working class Americans. Now, it’s fine to make money and there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy. I don’t have any problem with people having well-paying jobs. If they can make 6-figure incomes, good for them. We need them in the economy and that’s part of the American Dream – to be able to better yourself and make more money through hard work. I don’t even argue if they want to work instead of staying home with their kids. That’s their choice. But when you make that kind of money, don’t try to tell me that you understand my financial struggles or that staying home wasn’t an option for you. Don’t belittle the sacrifices my family makes by pretending to have the same problems.

President Obama tries to curry the favor (and votes) of the working class with his stories, but instead shows his total lack of understanding of how ordinary people live. It’s no wonder his administration has taken government spending to new levels of irresponsibility and given our country the greatest debt it has ever seen. No wonder they so easily mortgage our children’s future so that they can keep spending like there’s no tomorrow. No wonder they can’t seem to get a balanced budget passed (or any budget at all, for that matter). We have a man who doesn’t know how a family can possibly survive on $162k in the White House.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crepes

This is one of our favorite treats for breakfast meals or for dessert. These crepes take a little bit of preparation, but they are so worth it. Just don't count calories while eating them.







Crepes

1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 teaspoons butter, melted

Mix the milk and egg well, then mix in the flour, salt, and vanilla. Add the butter and mix well. You can refrigerate this for an hour (recommended) or cook right away. Makes 4-7 crepes (depending on thick you make them).


Filling

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup frozen whipped topping (e.g. Cool Whip)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Stir the cream cheese to make sure it is creamy and has no lumps. Add the whipped topping (you may want to set it out for a few minutes to soften first, but don’t let it completely melt) and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix well. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to stiffen.

This recipe makes a very creamy filling that is not too sweet. To top the crepes, I cut up some strawberries, add a little sugar, and let them sit awhile to make some juice.

The crepe batter, filling, and strawberries can all be prepared in advance to make breakfast easier.

Here's the filling and strawberries:



To cook the crepes, heat a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and then oil it lightly. You want the skillet hot, but not too hot, when you add the batter. Add enough batter to cover the bottom of the skillet and tilt the skillet to coat the bottom evenly if necessary.



Cook for about 5 minutes, turning once, or until both sides are lightly browned. Repeat with the rest of the batter. You won't need to oil the skillet again between crepes.



I usually place the cooked crepes on a paper towel on top of a warmed plate to keep them warm.

Once all the crepes are done, fill them with the filling and top with strawberries (or other fruit) and whipped cream. Enjoy!



You can serve the crepes as a dessert or as a side with breakfast items. Here you can see the whole breakfast with scrambled eggs and cheese, bacon, and hashbrowns.




Monday, April 9, 2012

Inalienable Rights – Part 4: Government by Consent of the Governed

To find out what inalienable rights are, read Part 1 of this series. Part 2 explains that inalienable rights can only come from a Creator. Part 3 discusses the difference between the right to liberty and individual liberties and how these apply to society and government. This post deals with the way that government obtains its power from the people.

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People often think of government as an entity that is above them – something that makes rules about what they can and cannot do and will punish them if they disobey. However, this is an incorrect view of just government.

The Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

As this foundational document states, the purpose of government is to protect inalienable rights, and government derives its power to do so through the consent of the people. These are very important concepts.

When John Locke wrote his Two Treatises of Government in the 17th century, the prevailing concept of government was known as the “divine right of kings.” This idea stated that kings were divinely appointed, being given power over their subjects by God, and that subjects were thus morally obligated to obey every command of their rulers. In contrast, John Locke and his contemporaries developed the idea of every person as equal and independent, each subject to natural law (universal principles such as inalienable rights), but not subject to each other. If people are all equal and independent, each one is then a sovereign, having control of his own choices and destiny and subject only to God. No person is higher than any other, and no one has the right to violate the rights of any person by forcing him to subject himself to another’s decrees. This idea of the people – rather than the king – as sovereign is the foundation for representative government.

In a representative government such as we have in the United States, it is recognized that the power belongs to the people. The people delegate their power to government in order to form an orderly and safe society where their rights are protected. Without government, a person has rights, but the protection of those rights is his own responsibility. So, for example, while I have the right to liberty, without government I must personally defend myself against all who would threaten to enslave me. In the same way, I must also protect my own life and property. Many people are not capable of protecting themselves in this way and may therefore hire another person to act for them. Governments are simply an application of this principle. People form governments to protect their rights through the formation and enforcement of laws. The people delegate their authority to the government, which then acts on behalf of the people. Government has no power that did not first reside with the people. Government workers, from senators to police officers to garbage collectors, are those hired to do what each individual person has the right to do, but may not have the skills to do himself. This is why government workers are often called public servants. They work for the people. This is even true of our President. The President is not royalty, but is simply a citizen that has been chosen to do the job of representing the people and enforcing the laws of the land. Such representatives in government don’t have a special status or have more rights than other people. They are simply proxies for the people, doing on their behalf what they have a right to do for themselves.

An important thing to note here is that no person has the right to violate the inalienable rights of any person (including himself), and therefore government cannot rightfully violate inalienable rights either. Since inalienable rights cannot be given up or transferred for any reason, there is no way for government to be given power over inalienable rights by the people.

Another very important thing to note is that delegating power to government does not take away the right of the people to do things for themselves. For example, while police officers are hired to protect me from those who would hurt me or take away my property, I still have the right to defend myself and my property. I didn’t give that right away; I simply hired someone to act on my behalf. I also don’t have to wait for a police officer to arrest someone who is breaking the law. The concept of a citizen’s arrest is due to the fact that every person has the right to arrest a criminal. Police officers do it most often because they are trained and hired to enforce the law, not because they have any more rights than anyone else. In the same way, the other valid powers of government are derived from the rights of the individual people and only become valid powers of government by the consent of the people (who retain those rights). This is what it means to be a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

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In Part 5, I will wrap up the inalienable rights series by discussing some common misconceptions about inalienable rights.
 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Homemade Pizza

This pizza is better than take-out and you can add as many toppings as you want.

Pizza crust:
2.5 cups warm water
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
About 7 cups of flour

Mix the warm water and yeast together and let it sit for 7 minutes to activate the yeast. Add the salt and sugar and mix well. Slowly mix in the flour to make a soft, but not sticky dough. You don't want to add too much flour or the crust will be dry.


Grease pizza pans, iron skillets, or baking stones well with olive oil. I've found that baking stones work really well for traditional crust and iron skillets make good pan pizzas.

Flour a clean surface such as a tabletop or counter and roll out crusts to desired thickness.


Once the crusts are placed on the baking stones or in pans, you can add sauce, cheese, and toppings. This recipe makes roughly enough pizza for a dozen people, but how many pizzas it makes depends a lot on how thick you make your crusts and how big your pans are. I don't usually make the whole recipe for just my husband and I. Here I have 1/4 the recipe made into 2 pan pizza crusts (8" and 10").


For the sauce, I use Ragu Old-World Style Spaghetti Sauce flavored with Meat because it's less acidic than many spaghetti sauces. Use whatever spaghetti sauce you prefer. If you want a more italian taste to your pizza, you can sprinkle the sauce with italian seasoning before adding the cheese.

Once the sauce is on, you add the cheese and other toppings. This is the fun part, especially if you have kids. You can let kids make their own pizza (on a large baking stone or in a small iron skillet) or put their own toppings on part of a larger pizza.

Mozarella is my favorite cheese for pizzas, but you can use various other types of cheese such as provolone as well. You can put toppings all the way to the edge and get rid of the "crust" all together or you can leave a margin of crust. You can also make stuffed crust by making the crust a little too large and wrapping the dough around cheese or other toppings. There are tons of various pizza toppings you can use (including some you won't find at your local take-out place). Use your favorites or experiment with new things.

To make dessert pizza, you can top the crust with any number of sweet items.  You can try some of these:
  • Butter, sugar, and cinnamon
  • Vanilla pudding and chocolate chips
  • Apple chunks (or applesauce) and crumbly streusel topping

Here are my pizzas, ready to go into the oven. I put my toppings all the way to the edge. The cheese gets crispy around the edges that way as it touches the hot pan, and I won't have any plain crust.

Once the pizzas are ready, bake them at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the crust is done. Enjoy!


Note: The pizza crust recipe can also be used to make french bread or breadsticks. When making either of these, let the dough rise for 10-20 minutes before baking. For breadsticks, you can form the dough into long, thin sticks and lay them side by side on a baking stone or cookie sheet. Brush them with garlic butter and sprinkle with italian seasoning and parmesan cheese before baking (you can also do this to the edges of pizza crusts to make them more interesting).


Linked up with WLWW.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Art of Writing Love Notes

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One of the little things a wife can do to build up her husband is to tell him how much she appreciates him. Words of Affirmation is one of the 5 love languages. Whether or not this particular love language is the primary one through which a person communicates, everyone needs to hear that they are loved and respected. This is especially true in a marriage.

Knowing that I love and respect him is very important to my husband. When we were dating, Doug and I lived about an hour and half apart so much of our communication occurred on the phone and by email. Being able to communicate what we were thinking and feeling in writing was important to the development of our relationship. We got pretty good at having discussions and sending love letters to each other by email during the week. Now that we’re married, we don’t send emails as often since we talk every day, but we do make it a point to tell each other what we appreciate about each other on a regular basis. This has become a habit that we purposely cultivated in order to help keep us close. We also take time every once in a while to write out how we feel about each other, to formalize our love and respect for each other. In some cases, it’s an email. In some cases, it’s a homemade card or a little note in my husband’s lunch. But it is always designed to remind the other person how much they are loved and appreciated.

The art of writing love notes isn’t at all hard to cultivate. It just takes a little effort and creativity. Here are some tips on making love notes memorable. I have written them from a wife’s perspective, but they can be used just as easily by husbands to their wives.

Be creative
Creativity in a love note says that you took the time to think about the other person. There’s nothing wrong with a pre-written message on a card, but it isn’t your thoughts or words. A personal note means so much more.

Say “I love you”
This one should be obvious and can work for even the briefest of notes. It should probably be included in every love note. However, because it is so obvious, it can sometimes sound stale when used alone. There are lots of variations that can make it stand out:

I love you, my darling husband.
I love my handsome man.
I love you for always.
My love for you will never die.
I love you more every day.
My heart beats with love only for you.
Don’t ever forget how much I love you.

These types of variations are much more descriptive and emotional and can help set the mood for the note.

Point out specific things that you appreciate
This one is a must, both in written notes and in everyday conversation. Taking the time to appreciate good points about your husband can mean the world to him. These statements usually begin as “I like it when…” or “I appreciate your…”

I love the way you play with your daughter.
I like your smile and the way it lights up your eyes.
I appreciate you taking out the trash so that I don’t have to.
I like it when you put your arms around me.
Your hard work in providing for our family is greatly appreciated.
I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to work out problems.
I love it when you are protective of me.
I like the way you take time to listen to me.
I love the way you make me feel when you tell me I’m beautiful.

Use terms of endearment
Using pet names or other terms of endearment can make a love note personal and special. If your husband doesn’t like the mushy ones that sound like baby talk, try some of these: 

Hero (every man wants to be a hero to his wife)
Darling
My man
Hunk
Prince Charming
Stud
My protector

Men tend to like terms of endearment that make them sound masculine.

Use lots of descriptive words
Descriptive words make a ho-hum note into a special one. Use a variety of different words to describe the way you feel about him, his characteristics that you appreciate, etc. Use words like these frequently: 

Thoughtful
Hard-working
Handsome
Supportive
Intelligent
Wonderful
Kind
Loving
Strong
Protective
Loyal 

Compliment your husband with words that describe his good characteristics. Let him know you’re his biggest fan. This helps build him up and also helps to focus your attention on his strengths as well, making it easier for you to appreciate him.

Flirt a little
A little flirtation is an important addition to any love note between husbands and wives. Tell him how much you like him to pursue you. Add a little spice with some innuendo or hints. Your husband needs to know that you value the physical side of your relationship with him. You aren’t just friends, you’re lovers as well. It doesn’t have to be graphic (especially if you can’t be sure he’ll be the only one to see it), but telling him you like his touch on your skin or can’t get enough of his kisses lets him know that you appreciate him as your mate. 

These tips are things that I’ve found useful in writing love notes to my husband. It doesn’t take a lot of time to write a short note that lets your husband know how you feel about him and it can help keep your marriage strong. If you’ve never done it, try it.


Linked up with WLWW, To Love, Honor and VacuumYes They're All Ours, God's Most Precious, Warrior Wives, and The Alabaster Jar.