Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of this blog! One year ago today, I posted my very first post answering the question "What are Inalienable Rights?" Since then I have received almost 18,000 pageviews from people all over the world. It's pretty cool to me that people all over the place are reading my thoughts.

Today is also another anniversary. Three years ago today, on top of a mountain in North Carolina, my then-boyfriend presented me with a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. It was the perfect moment. The day was beautiful - the first day of spring. We hiked up the mountain and found a special place that was isolated and had a great view. He gave me a book containing photos from our dating journey and snippets of emails we had sent to each other. It had many memories. The program from the conference where we met. The looms from our first few dates (seriously, we kept seeing weaving looms everywhere we went - it was freaky). The words to our song. Pictures from our various hikes. And at the end he wrote out a special note to me. When I got to the last page, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Of course, I said yes. And I've never regretted it for a moment.

In honor of these two anniveraries, I'm posting some of my best and most popular posts from the past year. Some of them had a lot of pageviews and some were simply ones I thought were very important. So, for a quick overview of my main posts for the past year, take a look at these:

What Are Inalienable Rights?
I've already mentioned this one above (my first post), but it starts a 5-part series on inalienable rights. Everyone should know what inalienable rights are and where they come from, so this series is some of the most important material on my blog. You can read all the other posts in the series by clicking on the links in this one.

Items to Discuss Before Engagement
This post seems especially appropriate today considering that it's the anniversary of my engagement. Here I give a list of questions that my husband and I asked each other during dating in order to determine if we were compatible for marriage. I highly recommend that all dating couples discuss these issues (among others) before becoming engaged.

Characteristics of a Biblical Dating Relationship
This is the first part of a series on Biblical dating which is still unfinished. I do intend to finish it eventually. However, the posts that are finished are all quite popular. Learn what dating should look like for a Christian and avoid some of the common pitfalls that lead relationships away from a Biblical foundation. You can get to all of the posts in the series from links on this post.

Opposite Sex Friendships After Marriage: How to Guard Your Heart
This one is the most popular post on my blog and gets lots of regular pageviews (including a lot from Google searches), which tells me a lot of people struggle with this issue.

How to Settle Disagreements Without Arguing
Assuming the Best of Your Spouse
Both of these posts deal with resolving conflict in marriage. The first one gives a plan for settling disagreements without arguing (which has worked for us, since we still haven't had an argument). The second is a newer post that deals with your view of your spouse and their motives and how that affects the way you communicate.

The Art of Writing Love Notes
Here is another of my most popular posts which gives tips on writing special and memorable love notes for your spouse. Writing a short note or a longer letter can be so encouraging to your spouse and will remind them of your love and bring you closer together.

Cohabitation is Not Practice for Marriage
This post is another one that is very popular and gets a lot of traffic from search engines. Here I give several practical reasons not to cohabitate before marriage.

Sunday School Fairy Tales (or Why the Bible Should Be Taught as History)
This post explains how the Bible should be taught to children as history instead of making it sound like fictional fairy tales. The Bible needs to be real to our kids if they are to find it believable. In this post I identify several ways that people inadvertently make the Bible sound less realistic and thus undermine the authenticity and historicity of the Bible in the eyes of others. Every sunday school teacher and parent should be aware of these pitfalls in order to avoid them.

Why the United States is a Republic
Back on a political note, this post contains a short video that explains the different forms of government and why we have a republic (not a democracy). All children should know this before they leave middle school. All voters should be able to explain this. Unfortunately, many cannot.

The Difference Between Liberalism and Conservatism
Also on a political note, this post explains the major difference between the worldviews of liberalism and conservatism. It's probably not what you think.

The Good Thing About Guns
With all of the recent controvery about gun laws, this post is very relevant. Here I argue that guns are actually good. In a world without guns, the weak are defenseless against the strong. Guns allow the physically weak to defend themselves and thus provide protection for themselves and others from those who would harm them.

Demolishing Pro-Choice Arguments
Why We Need a Secular Case Against Abortion
Both of these posts deal with abortion. The first debunks many of the popular arguments for abortion while the second explains why we should be arguing against legal abortion using science and logic rather than the Bible.

I hope you find these posts thought-provoking and helpful. Please comment or share if you find something especially noteworthy. Thanks for reading.

Linked up with NOBH, WLWWWFMW, and To Love Honor and Vacuum.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Assuming the Best of Your Spouse

One of the things that often causes friction in a marriage is when one spouse assumes the other has wrong motives. In many cases, this happens when they take what the other person has said in a way that was not intended.

Of course, all of us say things that can be taken in a different way than we intend from time to time. For example, I remember a time several years ago when my mom was trying out a new vacuum cleaner. She really liked it and exclaimed “Wow, this thing really sucks.” My brother immediately quipped “Mom, isn’t that what it’s supposed to do?” Of course, we knew what she meant, but we immediately saw the other possible meaning as well. She was referring to the suction of the vacuum and saw it as a good thing. But it would be really easy for someone to misinterpret what she said as saying that the vacuum was no good – the exact opposite of what she meant. When she said it, she didn’t even think of how it could be interpreted until we started laughing.

The same kind of thing happens to all of us. We say something slightly wrong or in a less than clear way. We use the wrong word. Or maybe we say something that is perfectly fine on the surface, but could easily be misinterpreted. Think how awkward it would be to have people always assume the worst possible interpretation of our words. Yet that often happens in a marriage.

The problem arises when one person says something and the other assumes a hurtful meaning that was never intended. We women are especially prone to assuming the worst or reading between the lines (when there might have been nothing there), although both sexes do it. This often leads to strife and hurt feelings that could have been avoided. A good many marital arguments could have been avoided entirely if not for this kind of misunderstanding.

She says that they need to sit down and look at the finances. He hears that he’s not providing properly and needs to step up. Thus, he’s defensive and wants to avoid talking about it. But she didn’t say anything of the sort and may not even have thought such a thing. She may have just wanted to have his involvement and help with an issue that she finds difficult to navigate. She should be able to count on him to work with her as a team, especially in something as important as finances. But he’s too busy hearing wrong motives and insults in her words to be the help she needs.

He says that he’d like to spend more time alone together. She hears that she’s not giving him enough sex and starts defensively talking about how busy she is all day and how he should help more with the kids and the housework. But all he was doing was sharing a need for more time with her. She is too busy being defensive (and perhaps feeling guilty) that she isn’t hearing the need of his heart.


These kinds of situations are common. At their root, they are a failure to communicate. When you assume hidden motives and interpret the other person’s words accordingly, you are effectively silencing what they are really trying to say. And usually it leads to reactions that aren’t warranted. Then the other person gets defensive while trying to explain what they meant, and they’re aggravated that you so obviously assume the worst of them when they love you and didn’t mean what you thought they meant. It can become a vicious cycle of misunderstanding and hurt feelings that tears couples apart.

In one way, it’s understandable that we get in this habit of assuming the worst. After all, in this dog-eat-dog world we live in, we can’t assume the best intentions of everyone. It would be dangerous and foolish to assume that everyone out there has only our best interest in mind. It’s easy to get a little cynical in order to protect ourselves. But if there’s anyone in the world we should be able to count on to have our backs and be on our side, it is our spouse – the one who vowed to love us forever. If our heart should be safe with anyone, it should be with our one true love. So why do we so often assume that our spouse is hiding an insult in their words or trying to hurt us? Why do we assume they have wrong motives? Why can’t we instead assume that we are misunderstanding if it seems that their words are hurtful or insulting?

When your spouse says something that sounds hurtful or accusing, the first words out of your mouth should ask for clarification. Don’t jump to conclusions and react. You should immediately assume that you heard wrong or that you are misinterpreting their words and that they didn’t mean what they said the way you took it. Remain calm and ask what they meant by that. If it turns out that they are insulting you, there’s plenty of time to get mad then. But most of the time that isn't the case. Assume the best and it will save both of you a lot of needless heartache and stress.

I’ve found that this approach works in my marriage to avoid arguments and it will work in yours. It just takes some time to train ourselves to see our spouse as a teammate and supporter rather than an opponent and to learn to ask for clarification rather than jumping to erroneous conclusions.

Linked up with Yes They're All Ours, Time-Warp Wife, To Love Honor and Vacuum, More of Him, Mom's the WordWhat Joy is MineWFMW, Messy Marriage, The Alabaster Jar, WLWW, and NOBH.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Announcement!

Well, if you're wondering why I haven't been posting much lately, there's a number of reasons. But probably the biggest one is that I've been feeling very tired and nauseous lately. Actually, I have been for the last 3 months or so.

That's because...I'm pregnant! Yes, my husband and I are expecting our second child in late August. I'm now in the beginning of the second trimester and starting to have more energy (although the nausea hasn't completely gone away).

On top of that, I've been battling some sort of cold-like virus since Christmas. I just can't seem to get rid of the cough and the congestion. I think I'm finally on the mend now, though it's not completely gone yet. My husband and daughter have also been sick. It's just been a bad winter for that kind of thing.

On top of that, we've been looking for a house. With a new baby on the way, this little bitty house that we are about to burst out of is just not going to work anymore. We now have a contract on a house and hope to move by the end of this month. I'm in a short break between searching for houses, loans, homeowner's insurance, etc and the craziness of packing and moving. I am not looking forward to that, but I am looking forward to being in our new home.

So there's a lot going on here and life had to take precedence over writing. What little energy I did have was already spoken for. Hopefully, things will get easier once we're moved in to the new place and life settles into a new routine. And just maybe, having more space, I can organize things better rather than having to pile things up everywhere. That would make life so much easier.

Stay tuned for more posts as I have time. I'm hoping to post some more on abortion and inalienable rights as well as marriage issues in the near future. And I'm sure I'll throw in some updates and commentary on the pregnancy and some new recipes as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why We Need A Secular Argument Against Abortion

Many pro-life advocates use the Bible in making their arguments. While the Bible does have a lot to say about the unborn and about the value of human life in general, the use of Biblical arguments in the discussion of abortion’s legality is often well-intentioned, but misguided.

You see, laws in this country are not based on religion. In fact, our Founding Fathers specifically planned to create a nation where religious freedom was protected. In order to do that, one must have a secular country based on logical principles, not a theocracy. 

History has shown that government based upon religion inevitably persecutes those who disagree with the religion in power. Many, if not most, of those who came to America and founded this nation came to escape religious persecution. They knew firsthand the dangers of living in a church state. They wanted to ensure freedom for all, so they set up a secular government and laid out basic principles to limit the government’s power and prevent oppression of the people. Their principles were based on the concept of inalienable rights – rights that are innate in every human being and which government cannot grant or take away. These rights include the right to life, liberty, ownership of property, religion, a fair trial, and many others – all developed from basic logical principles. And, in this country, laws are to be made by the people, but only in accordance with these principles so that no one's rights will be violated.

Of course, these logical principles are quite consistent with a Biblical worldview – and not by accident. The concept of inalienable rights, for example, comes from the view that mankind is the product of a Creator who has endowed them with these rights. Religious freedom is also consistent with the Bible. After all, even God Himself does not force Himself upon anyone, but gives all people the free choice to choose Him or not. But one cannot enforce every doctrine from the Bible in a secular society. There are things that are wrong, according to the Bible, which cannot be made law. How would one, for example, make lust or coveting illegal? And while the Bible commands us to remember the Sabbath day, one cannot enforce this on all people within a society without violating their freedom of religion. Thus, not everything that is wrong should be illegal.
How does one decide, then, what should and should not be legal in a secular society? The answer lies in applying these basic logical principles and in protecting the human rights of all the people. Thus, murder should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because such a behavior violates the inalienable right to live of the victim and because allowing such behavior is bad for society. Similarly, theft should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because theft violates the right to own property of the victim, and because theft is bad for society.
If we hope to make abortion illegal we must use these same basic principles and develop a secular argument for the rights of the unborn. It is this secular argument we MUST be making if we are to succeed. Many of us who are pro-life are Christians and have religious reasons to believe that abortion is morally wrong according to the Bible. However, that does not mean that abortion should be illegal in a secular society. We have to make the right argument if we are going to produce change.

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So here is a secular argument that abortion should be illegal.

To begin our argument we must first show that the unborn are living human beings. After all, only humans have human rights. To do that, we use science.  

Science uses criteria such as growth, responsiveness to the environment, movement, and metabolism (using food for energy) in order to distinguish life from non-life. Living things, including a single-celled human zygote, show these characteristics and non-living things do not.

So, it’s quite obvious from science that the unborn are living things. What kind of living thing depends on what the parents are. Obviously, the offspring of human parents is human. This is confirmed by the presence of distinctly human DNA and a human pattern of development. Thus, it is clear from science that the product of human sperm and egg is alive and human.

Of course, even sperm and egg cells show characteristics of being alive and they have human DNA, but they are not separate organisms. A sperm or egg cell is simply a piece of an adult human’s body that is essentially broken off and on its own (just like a skin cell can be removed from the body and stay alive for a little while). So sperm and eggs are alive, but not capable by themselves of being anything more than a piece of the body they came from. But once a sperm and egg meet, a radical event takes place that forms a completely new entity. This new cell, a zygote, has a complete and unique set of human DNA that lays out the entire plan for its whole body.

Individual cells that are part of a larger body work to grow and preserve the larger body and are not important in themselves. All that matters is that the body survives, even at the expense of some of the cells. Thus, each cell works for the goal of supporting the body, not preserving itself. Once a zygote is formed, however, this new individual now works as a separate unit toward the goal of growing, preserving, and developing himself. He no longer functions as a part of another body, but forms a new body all his own. The zygote is in fact a new individual, different from both parents, that is already either male or female and which follows the distinct pattern of human development. It just takes time for him or her to grow. But all the information for building the adult body is there from the beginning. The development of the organs and organ systems is just a matter of time, but the instructions are already in place in the zygote, as is the ability to function as a separate entity. This is all well-understood science and can be found in any introductory biology textbook.

So, it is very clear from science that a zygote is a separate, living human individual. The argument that a human zygote is not alive or is not human has already been thoroughly debunked by science.

The newer argument put forth by the pro-choice bunch is that a zygote or embryo isn’t a person (which is a question of value, not science, and thus can’t be answered by science). Basically, the pro-choicers are trying to claim that not all humans are people, which is a very dangerous thing to claim.

The million-dollar question is, if not all humans are persons, then how do we know who is a person? When does personhood begin? Some say at birth. Some say at viability. Some say when the heart begins to beat. Some say when they’re self-conscious. So who gets to decide which definition of personhood is right? And what if they’re wrong? What if they’re allowing real persons to be killed? History says that’s what happens when you try to separate personhood and humanity. We’ve used other definitions of personhood in the past – definitions that excluded some members of the human race. But every time we have claimed that some human beings were not persons, we have been wrong.

At one time, our country claimed that blacks were not persons. Thus they were enslaved and mistreated as their inalienable rights were ignored and denied. The same thing has been done throughout history. Certain groups have been denied legal personhood in order to ignore their innate rights. In Nazi Germany, for example, the Jews were not legal persons, and thus the Holocaust, in which 6 million were slaughtered, was completely legal. It’s very convenient to claim that those you wish to kill or exploit are not persons. Thus, it’s a very common rationalization when one wishes to ignore the rights of others.

Every time we have claimed that some human beings were not persons, we have been wrong. Every time. And it led to horrific results. What is happening now is that we are saying that the unborn are not persons. And, not surprisingly, their rights are being ignored and they are being slaughtered.

But it’s not logical or right to claim that a human being must be born in order to be a person any more than it is to claim that a human being must be white or male or non-Jewish in order to be a person. Logically, all humans must be persons. To deny that is to use some arbitrary criteria for what constitutes a person and thus exclude some humans from that definition. Historically, that has always been wrong and has led to terrible tragedies of justice. What needs to happen is that we recognize and protect the inalienable rights of ALL human beings, born and unborn.

In claiming that the unborn are not persons, what the pro-choice side is really arguing is that we, as a society, decide who has rights. But rights don't come from society or from government. If government grants them, then government can decide, arbitrarily, to take them away from anyone they please. This country was founded on a different proposition – a radical idea that people have innate rights that are not dependent on government. That it is fundamentally wrong for anyone, even government, to violate these rights. These are known as inalienable rights – innate rights of all humans that cannot be taken away for any reason. It is on this fact – this higher law – that our case for the rights of the unborn rests. And it was this higher law on which our Constitution was built.

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The truth is, the unborn do have inalienable rights. They are human beings with the same rights as all other human beings. And those rights should be protected in a secular society just as the rights of all other humans should be. This can be demonstrated with science and logic and can convince even those who do not believe the Bible. More importantly, this is WHY abortion should be illegal – not because the Bible says it is wrong, but because abortion is a violation of basic human rights. All people should be in favor of protecting the rights of all human beings, regardless of their religion.


Linked up with Time-Warp Wife, NOBH, WLWW, and WFMW.