Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Get a Degree without Drowning in Debt

The student loan system in this country is terrible. It's a bad system that doesn't give most people a good return for their investment and often traps them in crippling debt. It’s not designed to help students, but to help the colleges have a steady stream of new students paying tuition, whether or not they can afford it, and whether or not they receive a good return on their investment. Don’t get sucked in to the student loan vortex.

If you want to go to college and get a good value for your money, you have to do these things. None of them are optional.

1) Study a subject that will get you a job. A majority of majors in the university will leave you unemployed and deep in debt too. Study STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), not humanities, English, or social science. The latter fields are simply not worth the money to study at a university because they don’t yield good job prospects. Unless you are independently wealthy and have nothing better to do with your money, you’re better off to just study these things in your spare time by checking out books at your local library. Paying a college to teach them to you is not a good use of money.

2) Only go to college if you have reason to believe you are good enough at academics to finish your degree with a decent GPA. Unfortunately, many colleges are all too willing to accept unqualified applicants who can't do the work and will fail. If you don't finish the degree, you've wasted your time and money.

3) Make studying a priority during your college years. College is far too expensive to waste your time partying and acting like an adolescent. If you're going to pay for a college education, use it wisely and actually educate yourself. Make getting good grades, gaining knowledge, and making connections who will give you a good recommendation a priority.

4) Avoid student loans as much as possible. Instead, work as much as you can and apply for scholarships and grants. Go to a cheaper school, if necessary, or sit out a semester and work full time to earn the money. And if you do take out student loans, at least work part time so that you aren’t putting all your current living expenses into loans in addition to tuition.

5) Remember that the proper amount of student loans is zero and any non-zero amount must be justified by careful study and number-crunching to make sure it is worth it. Your future is at stake. In my experience, the only time student loans are an acceptable investment is when you’re going into a high paying field (think doctor, lawyer, or engineer), have very high graduation and employment potential (good grades and some work experience), and your realistic (not idealistic) future income will be sufficient to pay for your total student loans in less than 10 years while also allowing you to cover all your living expenses. You have to crunch the numbers and make sure the investment, including the interest you will pay, is worth it in better job prospects and pay than you could achieve without the degree. You can’t rely on the system to check this for you. They are all too happy to mortgage your future for a degree you can’t afford and that won’t get you a job.

For more on this topic, check out this excellent video from Prager University on the subject of student loans and how they are bad for students.

It is possible to go to college and get a degree that will prepare you for a job and to do it without drowning yourself in debt. I did it. I graduated with a Master's degree in Biology, with a 4.0 GPA throughout, with no debt, and got a job right out of college. But I’m the exception. You can’t just do what everyone else is doing and expect things to work out well for you. You have to be smart and informed or you’re likely to end up an unhappy statistic, paying down enormous debt on a degree you never use.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soul Mates or Sole Mates?

The idea that there's just one person out there who completes you, is your other half, and with whom a close and intimate relationship is easy and effortless is a secular idea (and a false one), not a Biblical one. Too many people are looking for a soul mate instead of putting the hard work into making the relationship they have work.

Don't worry about whether you and your spouse are soul mates. When you get married, that person becomes your sole mate, and it is God's will that you make that relationship the best it can be.

Of course, some couples find it easier than others to understand one another and get along. And it can be easy to think that someone else has the perfect marriage when they seem to make it work so effortlessly. In some cases, this is due to personality types that are low drama. In most cases, however, it is because those people who seem to have it so good have merely developed good character and habits that make marriage easier and make good communication a regular part of their everyday routine. They figured out behaviors that make life smoother and worked to make them habits.

Here are some good habits to develop in your marriage:

  • Show gratitude for everyday things like taking out the trash, going to work, doing laundry, or making meals

  • Express physical affection (hugs, cuddling, kisses, holding hands) every day and not just during sex or date nights

  • Take time to talk regularly about something that isn't logistics like doctor's appointments or what the kids are doing in school

  • Do little things for each other like getting a glass of water or making a favorite meal without being asked, and do them frequently

  • Consult with each other before making changes, inviting people over, or making large purchases

  • Be careful to speak positively, both to the spouse and about the spouse to others

  • Learn to communicate effectively by listening well and speaking respectfully

  • Resolve conflict calmly and rationally, without arguing or accusations or manipulation

  • See yourselves as teammates and have each other's back

So, whether your marriage is an easy or hard one, whether you finish each other’s sentences or can hardly understand each other, you can make your marriage a close and happy and God-glorifying one. You don’t have to instantly and effortlessly click to build a great marriage.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Problem with "Values-Free" Sex-Ed

One of the common talking points of the left is that abstinence-only sexual education “doesn’t work.” This is their justification for the current sex-ed programs in public schools. But are they right? Is abstinence-only sex-ed ineffective? Should we be teaching kids more about sex? Are there problems with the current system?

If your idea of abstinence-only education is to only tell kids "don't have sex" and that's it, then that’s a poor plan. But if you follow up teaching abstinence with reasons why abstinence is good (like protecting yourself from heartbreak, disease, and unexpected pregnancy, making your future marriage more likely to succeed, reducing your chances of living in poverty, pleasing God, etc.) and strategies for refraining from sex (like not spending time alone with your boyfriend or girlfriend near a bed, seeking accountability, etc.), then abstinence education can be very effective.

For the most part, people who belittle teaching kids abstinence assume that it’s going to be the first case where you just tell them to say no. But that is (mostly) a strawman. Very few people believe we should leave sex-ed at just the instruction to avoid it until marriage. Most agree that children should be taught more and expect that reasons and strategies will be included in the discussion. So the criticism of abstinence-only education is flawed. It's really a good choice if it is done right.

If the alternative to abstinence-only education was merely teaching them about different forms of protection and contraception, but still holding up abstinence before marriage as the norm and the goal to strive for, then I wouldn't necessarily be against it.

However, the sex-ed given in most schools these days is known as "values-free" sex-ed, which means they don't place any value on morality at all, even though sexuality is inherently a moral topic. On top of that, they blatantly teach that having sex as a teen (or even a pre-teen) is completely normal and fine, and don't teach the dangers inherent in having sex outside marriage (which go far beyond STDs and pregnancy). There is no condom that will protect against a broken heart. There is no way to have sex without making an emotional connection, despite the common teaching to the contrary. There is no protective measure to prevent premarital sex from causing fallout in future relationships and marriages. So even if you're teaching kids to use a condom every time, you're not really keeping them safe.

What's more, the emphasis on how to have sex "safely" (which is a misnomer when applied to sex outside marriage) and on making it cool and normal teaches kids that if they aren't having sex, there must be something wrong with them. And thus they're getting pressure from the school system, in addition to their boyfriend or girlfriend and peers, to have sex before they are prepared for it. And even for those already inclined to have sex, telling them it's perfectly okay isn't doing them any favors. They ought to be learning to develop self-control - the kind of thing that will help them out in their future life and marriage - rather than being told to just give in to their urges.

So, no, just telling them not to have sex isn't sufficient. But "values-free" sex-ed is even worse. The kind of sex-ed that teaches children to be promiscuous, to see sex as something to be "safe" from, to see babies as a danger to avoid, and to consider unexpected pregnancies as a crisis to be fixed by killing their unborn children is not only immoral, but it's not best for our children by any measure.

An education that is lacking in a moral foundation is inherently flawed and incomplete. And anyway, how exactly can you teach about a subject like sex, that is inherently bound up with morality (in pretty much every religion, by the way), without discussing morals?

If you teach that sex should be saved for marriage, everyone realizes that such a position involves morality. But the thing is, if you teach that when to have sex is up to each individual child to decide when they feel ready for it and give no other conditions for engaging in sex, that's a moral stance too (an immoral position, to be precise). It's not neutral! That’s not values-free sex-ed. It’s sex-ed that teaches the wrong values.

So if we're going to say that public schools should take no stance on the morality of sex, it should be completely silent on the topic and give only the biological details of human reproduction in science class. Teaching kids how to put on a condom or how to perform oral sex or teaching that sex is fine whenever they feel ready for it is not keeping morals and values out of the classroom.

I should also point out that if we're going to make schools the realm of facts, as has been suggested, then it is only right to include all the facts. And the fact is that sex places children in danger of a number of things beyond STDs and pregnancy.

Children should, at the very least, be given all of the information if we're going to turn them loose with no moral guidance. They should be told about the effects of oxytocin that will emotionally bond them to their sex partners. They should be told about the heartache that comes from having sex with someone who leaves you. They should be told that having multiple sex partners makes their future relationships and marriages prone to breaking up. They should be told that they can become jaded and unable to love freely due to being hurt too many times by having sex without a marriage commitment. They should be told that having a baby before they get married greatly increases their chances of living in poverty and that contraception fails regularly. They should be told that using porn can interfere with their ability to make love to a real person. They should be told that having anonymous sex can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

But with all the current rage for giving kids all the facts about how to perform all kinds of sexual acts and how to take pills and wear devices to protect them from disease and pregnancy, no one is telling them about the risks involved to their emotions and relationships and mental health, much less to their eternal soul.

So what is really happening when we tell children to have sex whenever they feel like it without telling them all of the facts is that we aren't actually educating them at all. We're indoctrinating them. We're actively teaching them promiscuity with no regard for the damage we are doing. That’s what modern “values-free” sex-ed does. And it’s not okay. We can do better for our children.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Here's What's Wrong with the Kim Davis Incarceration

There are so many things wrong with the Kim Davis incarceration that it is mind-boggling.

1) There shouldn't have been a Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage in the first place because the Constitution simply does not say anything at all about marriage. The 5 justices in the majority opinion just made it up because they wanted it to be true. Everybody knows that, including the leftists.

2) Just because 5 justices on the Supreme Court say something is Constitutional doesn't make it Constitutional. We all need to get away from the idea that they are the final authority on what is and is not Constitutional. The Founding Fathers would be ashamed of us.

Here is what Thomas Jefferson had to say about the matter:

"You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps....
Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves."

3) Even if marriage were a matter that mankind could decide for themselves (instead of a God-ordained institution), the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to decide marriage policy for the states since that power has never been granted to the federal government. The Constitution clearly states that all powers not granted specifically to the federal government are held by the states or by the people. The people grant government its power. The real power lies with the people. And until the people formally and specifically grant a power to the federal government, the federal government has no power in that area. This is definitely the case with marriage. The federal government has never been granted the power to define marriage by the people and thus it has no jurisdiction. For the federal government to try to seize that power by judicial fiat is unconstitutional and tyrannical.

4) Because the Supreme Court cannot legislate, no ruling of theirs is a law. Thus, Kim Davis has broken no law by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On the contrary, she has upheld the actual law, which in her case is the Constitution of Kentucky, which defines marriage as the union of a man and woman. Even the people who agree with Kim are saying she broke the law for good reason. Pay attention, people. She didn't break any laws. She followed the law. It's all the other county clerks in the state who are not following the law out of a misguided belief that the Supreme Court has the right to make law and to dictate to the states what they will do in a matter on which the federal government has no jurisdiction.

5) So, for the reasons above, Kim Davis should be lauded as the one person actually following the law. She certainly shouldn't be punished in any way. But even if she were failing in her duties as a public servant, putting her in jail is not the proper response. The proper response is to impeach her. She is an elected official, and when elected officials fail to uphold their duties, the people should impeach them or vote them out. It's not like she broke some actual law by stealing or murdering that has written law against it that defines the penalty for the crime. So by what statute is she being placed in jail? None whatsoever. Her only "crime" if there was one, was in being bad at her job and that is something that would properly be corrected (if there were a flaw) by removing her from office. There is no basis whatsoever for imprisoning her.

6) Even if Kim Davis had broken a law and was rightfully imprisoned, there is absolutely no reason to deny her bail. She's not accused of any kind of violence. And even suspected murderers and rapists get out on bail. It's not like she's so wealthy or well-connected that they fear she's a flight risk and will go somewhere she can't be extradited. So there's no reason whatsoever to deny bail. It's pure animus. It's persecution of one society sees as unworthy of equal rights solely for her unpopular views.

The points above are just some of the more blatant problems with the case. If any one of the items above had been properly understood and properly handled, this wouldn't be happening. The fact that it is happening is evidence that we have greatly lost our way as a country, that we the people are not holding government properly accountable, that most people do not understand the basis for just government, and that we have allowed persecution of an individual and violation of her rights because her views and actions are not politically-correct. May God have mercy on us. And may the people learn from this case, rise up, and never let it happen again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Backwards Thinking of Reverse Injustice

Our society is infected with the idea that past injustices or unfairness must be made up for by being unjust in reverse - to the group that was "privileged" before. They apply special treatment to blacks, to women, and even to poor people under the belief that they will somehow right the universe by being discriminatory to all the right groups.

In race relations, the application of this viewpoint is to punish whites and to give special treatment to minorities, but especially blacks since they had it the worst in the past. So bad behavior, including criminal behavior, by blacks is overlooked or excused, whites are assumed guilty until proven innocent (assuming you could ever prove it to everyone's satisfaction), and everyone is encouraged to give preferential treatment to blacks. This is the guiding principle of Affirmative Action. This is why white cop against black criminal is always viewed as bad white cop against innocent black citizen. Regardless of the actual facts of any individual situation, the important thing is to penalize whites and reward blacks to make up for the evils of the past.

Radical feminism is just the application of this principle to gender. Men must be treated as second class and women must be given special advantages and special power to make up for the past. If women in the past were consigned to the home, with little or no choice on the matter, then women must right the world by all leaving the home and working like men in the workforce. If women in the past had very little say over sex and had to give it up to their husbands on command, then women now must always hold control over sex and have it only when they feel like it. Liberation, they call it. If women in the past rarely went to college, then colleges today must actively recruit women and give more degrees to them. If men are graduating from college less and less now and holding fewer and fewer high-paying jobs, it isn't a sign of a problem; it's a sign of progress now that that those awful men are finally getting what they deserve. This is the radical feminist viewpoint and it's all about revenge for the past (or the perceived past).

The no-fault divorce laws came from this idea too. Most women had little or no option to divorce back in the day. So no fault-divorce laws, which are used far more often by women than men, allowed women to throw off unwanted marriages whenever they wanted. It's all about equality, you see. But by "equality" they mean injustice the other way.

This is also the real justification for abortion as well. Since women in the past were sometimes used as breeders, forced to bear the children of their husbands or rapists, then women today must have recourse to avoid bearing children they do not want - even at the price of the unborn child's life. Abortion is thought to be a right - not because there is actually any right to kill unwanted children, but because the idea that pregnancy will "force" women to have to bear a child is unthinkable to them.

Unilateral divorce and abortion are tools of the radical feminist movement because the alternative to these things is that women might be still tied to the roles of the past - roles like "wife" or "mother." In order to make up for the fact that some women were tied to these things against their will, they want to do away with these norms altogether.

The same sort of backwards "justice" happens with respect to socioeconomic status in our society. Much of the wealth redistribution mindset owes to the erroneous idea that economic wealth has been unfairly distributed and thus that the world must be righted by punishing the wealthy and giving special treatment to the poor. They even call it "social justice." It's not about what people earn through their hard work. That's irrelevant, they say. It's all about the inequality of outcome and how unfair it is. They don't really want to do away with poverty. What they really want is for the rich to be in poverty and for the poor to be made wealthy - for the wealthy to work and work and get nothing while the poor sit back and receive all the benefits of the work of others. When that happens, they will finally feel that it is all evened out and the universe is balanced.

This mindset of injustice to the "privileged" to make up for the past really sums up much of the liberal position and its individual stances on different issues. However, people with this faulty mindset would do well to remember that two wrongs don't make a right. More discrimination and unfairness won't undo the past or make up for it and only serve to further the evil. Reverse injustice is still injustice.

What we should be striving for is real equality and justice, not an unbalance back in the opposite direction. The liberal mindset just creates a whole new group of oppressors and furthers the vicious cycle of injustice. Let's not become the evil we decry in the past. Let's advocate true fairness and justice for everyone equally.

Monday, August 10, 2015

For the Trump Supporters

For those defending Trump, I fully realize that the gender card is overplayed and I hate that so many people use the "war on women" nonsense to criticize pro-lifers and republicans. I'm opposed to political correctness. I'm opposed to apologizing every time someone gets offended. I'm opposed to the cowardly and shameful use of slogans and euphemisms instead of articulate, factual arguments that is so prevalent among liberals and even many supposed conservatives. I'm sick of it too. Boy, am I sick of it!

However, there are people who do actually show real disrespect toward others, who run roughshod over everyone who disagrees with them, who are crass and rude and vulgar, who are self-serving and self-absorbed. We used to call people like this boors. It's a useful word. It ought not to be used where it doesn't fit and it ought not to be used against people we merely disagree with. However, there are times when it does actually fit. Donald Trump is a prime example.

In our distaste for political correctness and spin and tiptoeing around the issues, let's not go to the other extreme of accepting and applauding boorish behavior. In our search for truth and honesty, let us not excuse those who "speak their minds" in a hurtful and demeaning way that is simply not necessary or praiseworthy. It is quite possible to speak truth with kindness and tact and boldness too. Let's support people who do that, even if they don't get quite as much of the spotlight for doing it.

Of course, all that assumes that Donald Trump IS speaking truth. That is true in a couple cases. However, more often it is not. Trump has taken just about every position there is at some point in time, so he's bound to have said a couple things that were correct once or twice. Let's not get too excited that someone who changes positions so frequently actually hit on the right answer a couple of times. That's not really such an accomplishment. Guessing will get you a few right answers, but it doesn't mean you'll pass the test. And when it comes to showing consistency, integrity, and an understanding of conservative principles, Trump fails miserably.

So don't fall for the hype and the hair and the showboating. Don't pick a candidate on style over substance, as the Obama voters did. Evaluate candidates on their proven record, their consistency, and their principles, not on their ability to sling insults and not back down. It's better for our country and our children if you pick a candidate with your brain and not your emotions.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Should Christians Just Share Their Testimony?

A lot of Christians like to think that sharing their testimony is the best form of witnessing because "people can't argue with it." I have not found that to be the case. People may not be able to argue with someone's subjective personal experience, which might make the conversation easier on the sharer. But I don't see why people should believe it just because someone claims to have had a personal experience. 

I mean, there are plenty of people who tell their personal experience of why Mormonism is true or about how they saw aliens in a space ship, but that doesn't make me believe them. You have to be able to provide evidence, not just that Christianity works for you, but that it is actually true. Otherwise people are going to tell you (or think in their minds, even if they don't say it) that they're glad you're so happy, but they just don't think it's right for them.

The other problem that happens when you only tell your personal testimony is that you risk teaching people that Christianity is just an opinion - something that works for you. A lot of people think choosing a religion is a lot like choosing a favorite ice cream flavor. Everybody has a little bit different taste, so just pick the one you like. When you only give your personal experience, you are telling them that you like Christianity and maybe they should try it, but you aren't telling them why it's the ONLY way. It's of no more importance to them than you telling them you like one brand of something better than another and suggesting they try your brand. That's the way people see it when you only give subjective, personal experience - as a statement of your preference and maybe a recommendation, but not as objective truth.

But when you give that impression - that Christianity is just your favorite flavor of religion - you aren't actually sharing the gospel. The gospel is radical and exclusive. Christianity claims to be the ONLY way, not just one way of many. And that claim to be objective truth requires evidence. God doesn't want people to just "try" Christianity - going to church, being a good person, saying prayers. He wants them to believe it to be actually true. He wants them to believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved from the sin that is killing them spiritually and to place their trust in Christ alone for salvation. That's the gospel. Anything less is selling Jesus short and doing no favors to those we are speaking to.

Of course, we don't have to share the entire gospel with every person in every conversation we have. Most of the time, we won't have the opportunity to tell the whole thing. But we do have a responsibility to do what we can to leave them with some evidence that makes them question some aspect of their false worldview or have a better understanding of the Christian worldview. We have a responsibility to speak of Christianity as objective and knowable truth, not just our subjective preference, whether our conversation is long or short.

There is also a proper time to share our personal testimony. That should certainly be a part of what we do as Christians. However, it should not be the only thing we do or even the main thing we do. There is much more to the gospel than our personal experience of it. And Christianity is much more than simply what works for us. It is truth, not mere preference.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

For Women Whose Husbands Are Withdrawing From Church

Many Christian wives with Christian husbands are concerned because their husbands are withdrawing from church and refusing to attend or to be involved. The number one reason that men are becoming disillusioned with church is that the church has become highly feminized. Worship services often focus on emotional things like singing praise songs and sermons are often more of a pep talk or Christian psychology instead of deep doctrine. And, above all, faith is very commonly spoken of in terms of how you feel rather than reasons and evidence.

Most men instinctively withdraw from Christianity that is focused on feelings. They don't want Jesus to be their boyfriend. They don't want to sing mushy love songs to Jesus or talk about their feelings about God. So a worship service that seems like just feeling happy thoughts about Jesus is going to grate and, over time, push them away.

The answer to getting men involved and passionate about church is apologetics. Apologetics is the study of the reasons and evidence for the Christian faith. It's based on facts, not feelings. And men will engage with a Christianity focused on believing something they have evidence for and then going on a mission to change the world (or at least their corner of it).

For more information on men withdrawing from emotional church activities and engaging with apologetics, take a look at this article.

My suggestions for wives whose husbands who are withdrawing from church or other Christian activities are these.

1) Buy some good apologetics books and read them and offer them to your husband. I would start with Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. Not only does it provide good evidence that makes a compelling case for the resurrection, but it's written by a man who is a cold case homicide detective and who doesn't talk about feelings and emotions, just facts.

Other good apologetics books include How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, Reasonable Faith and On Guard by William Lane Craig, Is God A Moral Monster by Paul Copan, Tactics by Greg Koukl, Christian Apologetics by Doug Groothuis, and Love God With All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland.

2) See if you can find another church that places less emphasis on feelings and that has some sort of apologetics ministry. It is difficult to change churches, but if another church would be a better fit for your family by engaging your husband, it will be well-worth moving to another church.

3) Learn some apologetics yourself and share what you're learning with your husband. Even if your husband isn't interested, at first, in going to church, talking about evidence for Christianity and asking him what he thinks about it can help tremendously. If you can build his faith (and your own) with the evidence for the Christian faith, that's an important step.

4) Stop talking about church and Christianity in terms of feelings. Talk about what God's word says. Talk about what's right and wrong. Talk about how we know the Bible is true and about the evidence for the resurrection. Talk about the history of the church and the persecution that people have withstood in order to hold on to what they knew to be true. But stop talking about how church makes you feel good or how much you "love" Jesus. No doubt church does make you feel good and no doubt you do love Jesus, but talking about Christianity in those terms will not help with your husband.

5) If you do devotions as a family, make them more evidence-based and read the tougher, less fluffy portions regularly. Don't just read the happy, emotional parts of the Bible. Don't read devotions like you would a fairy tale. Read about David slaying Goliath because of his faith in God. Read Hebrews 11 about all the heroes of the faith who stood firm in the face of danger and would not give up. Read Paul's exhortation to fight the fight and run the race to the finish. Read about the armor of God.

If you're really brave, read the grittier, less comfortable passages. For example, read Numbers 25 in which Phinehas saw that a man of Israel was having sex with a heathen and leading the children of Israel to sin and that God was punishing them with a plague, and so he ran the man and the woman through with a javelin and saved the lives of his people. Yep, that's right. The hero saved the day by impaling a man and woman in the act of having immoral sex.

You don't usually hear that kind of stuff on Sunday mornings at church, but the Bible and the Christian faith are not all about happy feelings. Make sure your family devotions give a balanced and accurate view of what the Bible teaches and what the Christian faith is all about. Ask the hard questions about God's character, even in the Old Testament.


If you want to encourage your man to engage with Christianity, don't have a surface-level faith. Have a rigorous one that dives deep into the hard topics and that won't shrink from uncomfortable subjects. Be on a mission to discover God and serve Him as your commanding officer and share that vision with those around you - especially your husband. That is exciting to men. And really, it's exciting to everyone.

We women may often find the more emotional parts of modern churches more comfortable and inviting, but Christianity is about more than just being comfortable and having happy feelings about God while we're on our way to heaven. This earth is a battle ground for the souls of mankind. Sitting comfortably in our pews and singing praise songs, while certainly useful in some ways, does not equip us to fight the spiritual battles around us. Apologetics does. And for the warriors among us - our men - it is vital that they understand the mission and get on board with it. We women need to do our part to encourage them to fight for right and stand for truth, not just to sit happily in the pews every week.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why Are So Many "Christians" Supporting Same-Sex Marriage?

There have been a number of supposedly Christian leaders who have come out in favor of same-sex marriage recently. This has really been an on-going phenomenon, but only recently have we seen many from the evangelical camp jumping on the bandwagon to redefine marriage and to claim that homosexuality is not sin.

In most cases, the rationale given for the switch is something about people who have unchangeable same-sex attraction and shouldn't be hated or that Jesus would be more understanding of the desires people have.

The problem with this issue is that nobody takes the time to differentiate between same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual acts. It isn't necessarily a sin to be attracted to the same sex. It can be caused by sin, for sure. People who get into certain kinds of sin will just get deeper and deeper in until it affects their desires more and more to make them want to sin in even more harmful ways. But I do think some people were abused or confused about sexuality and thus have feelings of attraction to the same sex through no fault of their own.

The problem is when people lump the attraction in with the sin of acting on that attraction. Temptation is not sin. Having a feeling of attraction towards someone of the same sex is a temptation. When that thought is indulged in, it becomes lust, which is a sin. When it becomes acted upon in a same-sex act, it is sin. But merely having the attraction is not necessarily sinful.

The homosexual activists have been very clever at trying to remove the distinction between the desire and the action. They call all people who have same-sex attraction "homosexuals" - whether or not they actually engage in homosexual acts. With only one label for the desire and the action, they confuse the issue greatly in several ways.

1) They set up homosexuality as a way of being instead of a temptation to sin. This not-so-subtly encourages people with these attractions to sin because the idea is that if this is the way you are, you should indulge.

2) They pretend that people cannot deny their desires and should not deny them. The idea that someone could have a desire to do something and choose not do it is a foreign concept to them. Even crazier, in their minds, is trying to fight it on a continual basis for a lifetime. Their message is that if you have a desire, you must act on it - it's just who you are.

3) They make homosexuality sound like a special case where the usual rules about morality don't apply. After all, if it's just an in-built desire, how could we so mean as to say that it's wrong or that those people shouldn't be able to "love" like we can? They want it to sound like an exception to Christianity morality that isn't covered in the Bible because people back then didn't understand that some people are just made differently.

4) They cause people to identify with their sin rather than with Christ. Someone saying they are a homosexual is no different than someone saying they are a liar or an adulterer or a thief. But most people don't go around calling themselves these labels or using them to justify their sin. Can you imagine a perpetual liar claiming that being a liar is just who they are and you should accept them that way and not try to change them and that Jesus would be okay with it because they've been that way as long as they can remember? But people do exactly that sort of thing with homosexuality because they have confused the desire with the action and because they call it a "lifestyle" instead of just a sin. In so doing, people indulging a same-sex desire now see their sin as inherent part of them rather than a cancer that will destroy them spiritually.

5) They confuse Christians who might not be very informed on the issue into supporting homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Because same-sex attraction often begins at a fairly young age and because it is very difficult for many with same-sex attraction to eliminate those attractions, many people have believed that it is a "natural" thing that people cannot help. I do think many with same-sex attraction can be helped, but it is difficult and many will continue to struggle in this area. But because people conflate the attraction and the action, their acceptance of a deep-seated attraction in some people that may not be their fault often leads to an acceptance of the actions as being not their fault either - or perhaps not being a fault at all.

Thus, because we have conflated temptation with sinful actions in this area, we have allowed many to become confused and to fail to call sin sin or to uphold Biblical morality.

Of course, such people should have known better. They should have been studying deeper. They should have been distinguishing truth instead of falling for the smoke and mirrors. They should have been standing on what the Bible says instead of giving in to peer pressure and political-correctness. So, yes, they are at fault.

But given the society-wide and cleverly-marketed deception, it's not exactly surprising that so many have believed a lie. We haven't done a good enough job combatting the lies about homosexuality in the culture and now they have wormed their way into so many churches and hearts. We forgot that defending the faith means not only standing firm in our own convictions, but destroying the deceptions that would lead others astray. We have to do better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marriage and the Needs of Children for a Mother and Father

In my last blog post, I pointed out some of the reasons that government should protect traditional marriage and not redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. On that post, I received a comment stating that studies have shown that children raised in same-sex households are not negatively affected by it. However, this assertion is false.

Yes, a few studies have shown no difference between homosexual parenting and heterosexual parenting. However, several studies have found a difference (see here and here and here). Importantly, many of the smaller, non-random, or self-reported studies have shown no difference while larger, randomized, or more objective studies have shown significant differences in child outcomes with different kinds of parenting. Also, some studies which showed no difference compared homosexual parents to single mothers, not to married biological parents. The emerging picture from the studies is that the best environment for children is a home with their married biological mother and father. That's what the science says. And social scientists are beginning to stand behind these findings more and more, in spite of their unpopularity in the culture at large.

New studies about domestic partner violence are also painting a far less flattering picture of same-sex relationships than are portrayed in the media. We know already that households with lots of violence are bad for children, but now we are seeing that same-sex relationships are more prone to violence than heterosexual relationships. And because of faulty cultural beliefs about same sex relationships, many victims are suffering in silence.

Not only that, but many people raised in same-sex households are speaking up about how it negatively affected them and supporting traditional marriage as being best for children. Take a look here, here, and here, for example.

However, even without this extensive data, it is evident that same-sex parenting inherently, as part of the design, deprives a child of one or more of his biological parents. Obviously, if children are born into a male-female marriage and then divorce occurs and the custodial parent "marries" a same-sex partner, this is just one way for children to be raised in a same-sex household. In such cases it is obvious that the child is being purposely denied a biological parent.

But children conceived through sperm or egg donation are also being deprived of a relationship with a biological parent. The studies are showing that this has a marked impact on these children. Many such children have testified that they always longed to know their absent parent, that it has harmed them psychologically, and that being donor-conceived is, in many ways, worse than the death of a parent. Children who lose a parent to death have had a tragic loss. But children whose parent was paid to go away and not be a part of the child's life not only have that same tragic loss, but will always wrestle with the heart-rending question of "Why didn't they want me?"

If we, as a culture, raise same-sex relationships to the level of marriage, we are saying to these children in same-sex households that they are not deprived in any way when they objectively are. Such a position claims that children being raised without one of their biological parents is just as good as children being raised with both of their biological parents. That is patently absurd.

In fact, same-sex marriage not only does away with biological parenting as the norm, but it tells children that they don't even need a parent of each sex. At least when children are adopted by a husband and wife they have a male role model and a female role model so that they can understand the differences between men and women and learn to relate to both of them. Studies show that men and women parent differently and children need both. We have studies showing the necessity of mothers for a child's development (see here and here). We also have studies showing how vital fathers are to development (see here, here, here and here). Lacking a mother or a father objectively puts children at a disadvantage - whether that occurs through single-parenting or through same-sex parenting.

In order to claim that same-sex parenting is equal to mother-father parenting, you must claim that a mother adds nothing to a child's life that cannot be supplied by a man and that a father adds nothing to a child's life that cannot be supplied by a woman. That is simply false. It not only runs counter to everything we know about the impact of mothers and fathers on a child's development from the research, but it contradicts our own experience and intuition as well.

In addition to all these things, studies have shown that same-sex relationships are far less stable than male-female marriages. Thus, children raised in same-sex households are far more likely to experience the break-up of their family and all the upheaval and trauma that entails.

From all these studies, we can see that children need their biological mother and father living with them, in a stable relationship with each other that provides a good, non-violent environment for raising children. This is the ideal. Adoption or foster care isn't ideal and everyone knows it, but we have to do what we can for existing children who have been unavoidably separated from one or more of their natural parents. But, unlike adoption, same-sex marriage and parenting elevates what is clearly not the ideal - a child deprived of one or more biological parents - and makes it legally equal to the actual ideal of married biological parents raising their children. In doing so, it erases the cultural understanding of that real ideal and systematically and inherently deprives children of a parent on purpose - not merely due to a tragedy.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why Government Should Protect Traditional Marriage

The problem with the same-sex marriage debate is that nobody (or almost nobody) is making the right argument.

On one side of the issue we have those who advocate for same-sex marriage, claiming that heterosexuals have the right to marry whoever they want and homosexuals should be allowed that also, out of fairness. On the other side you have people saying that homosexuality is a sin and thus should not be allowed. Both sides are making flawed arguments.

The problem with claiming that homosexuality is a sin is that whether or not it is a sin is irrelevant to making law. We live in a secular country, not a theocracy, and we don’t make everything that is wrong illegal – nor should we. Coveting, lust, and not remembering the Sabbath are sins, but I think we all agree that making and enforcing laws against these things would be bad. 

In this country, laws are based on the concept of inalienable rights (also known as human rights or natural rights) – rights that all people have by virtue of being human and which government cannot grant or take away. These principles of inalienable rights are consistent with Christianity, but can stand alone as a justification that all people can agree with. What’s more, they offer an objective means of determining how government should be involved in making law about various issues. 

Before we get into the arguments about same-sex marriage, we need to understand how government handles different behaviors and why. There are only 3 ways that government can treat behaviors. It can prohibit them, permit them, or promote them. 

Because the highest purpose of government is the protection of inalienable rights, government should NOT prohibit behaviors that the people have an inalienable right to engage in. For example, we have the inalienable right to bear arms and thus government should not prohibit gun ownership. Government prohibition of something the people have a right to do creates an unjust law that itself violates inalienable rights. 

On the other hand, government SHOULD prohibit behaviors that violate the rights of others. So, for instance, government must make murder and theft illegal because these behaviors violate inalienable rights. Any violation of inalienable rights should be prohibited by law in order to protect those rights.

However, there are many behaviors that are not a direct violation of inalienable rights. In such cases, government's main purpose (its secondary purpose, if you will) is the good of society. Thus, behaviors which are definitely bad for society should be prohibited while behaviors which are definitely good for society should be promoted. For example, driving very fast in a car may not always violate the inalienable rights of others (it only does if you hurt them or their property), but it is bad for society for people to be driving recklessly, so driving too fast is prohibited. On the other hand, government promotes giving to charity by providing tax incentives for doing so. Of course, it is necessary for the people to consent to any laws that limit their freedom through their representatives in government. But these are good laws that the people can pass on themselves for the good of society as long as the laws do not violate anyone's inalienable rights. 

The default government position for behaviors is to simply permit them. Before a behavior can be prohibited, it is necessary to prove one of two things. You either have to prove that the behavior violates someone's rights OR you have to prove that it is bad for society and that prohibiting it does not violate anyone's rights. You can't just decide to prohibit something for no good reason or you violate the right to liberty.  

Similarly, before you can promote a behavior you must prove that it is good for society and that it does not violate anyone's rights. You can't just go around promoting behaviors without good reason or you are not protecting the interests of society as a whole. 

So that's the background. The question is, what is government's role with regard to different kinds of human relationships? Which behaviors should be prohibited? Which should be promoted? Which should be simply permitted? 

Certainly some types of sexual relationships should be prohibited. Pedophilia, for example, is prohibited because it is harmful to children (and therefore society) and because it violates the inalienable rights of children (who cannot consent to sex). 

Traditional marriage between a man and a woman has been promoted by government since the beginning because it is good for society. A traditional marriage is procreative, producing the next generation of citizens, and also forms a stable environment in which to raise those children, making them more likely to be good and responsible citizens. Thus, stable marriages are in society's best interest and government promotes this ideal by recognizing and protecting the marriage relationship and by providing economic incentives (such as tax breaks) to encourage people to marry and raise children in stable homes. It's an investment in the future. 

In addition to producing the next generation, marriage forms both an economic and a social unit and provides benefits to society in this way as well. Economically, marriage is a wealth-building institution. Married people make more and save more than singles and children of married couples are far less likely to be poor. Socially, marriage is good for all parties – men, women, and children. Married men live longer and are happier and healthier than unmarried men. Women who are married and children who live with their married parents are far less likely to be abused. Children of married couples are more likely to do well in school. These are just a few of the many advantages of marriage to the individuals and to society as a whole. 

By contrast, homosexual relationships do not provide these benefits to society. No logical conservative is advocating that we prohibit same-sex relationships between consenting adults. We don't cart people off to jail for engaging in consensual homosexual acts, nor do we want to. However, because same-sex relationships have not been shown to be a good for society, the proper role of government with respect to same-sex relationships is to simply permit them. Until same-sex relationships can be shown to have the same benefits to society as traditional marriage, we should not promote them.  

Of course, some claim that same-sex couples have a right to marry. The problem with this claim is that there is no such right to marry whoever one wants. If there was such a right, then it would apply to many more than just homosexuals. Pedophiles who want to marry young children, zoophiles who want to marry animals, those who wish to marry close relatives, and those who want to marry multiple people would all have a “right” to do so if there is a right to marry whoever one wishes. I think we all agree that this is not the case. Civilization has always placed restrictions on marriage and it always will. The only question is what the proper restrictions are. 

The thing is, marriage means much more than just two people that love each other or who want to commit to one another. Marriage is a natural unit based on the biology of human reproduction and, most importantly, the needs of children for care and stability. Only a union of a man and a woman can produce children naturally. Every child has just one biological mother and one biological father. And since both parents have equal responsibility for their child’s care, it is only natural that parents would form permanent unions in order to share that care and provide the stable home the child needs. Thus, every society on earth has figured out how to have marriages as individuals form a marriage relationship with another person of the opposite sex in order to raise a family together. There are lots of kinds of sexual relationships (committed or not), but only the permanent, exclusive, and comprehensive union of a man and woman produces a natural family unit. 

Because the natural family is a natural unit, it has natural rights and responsibilities of its own that government should recognize in order to protect those rights. One of those rights, for example, is the right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children. If there is no such thing as a natural family with its own natural rights, then there is no such thing as parental rights. In such a case, every man, woman, and child is an individual ward of the state and has no natural family ties. This would also mean that parents bring up their children only by permission of government, which may be revoked at any time. In a society that is increasingly denying the existence of the natural family, it is no wonder that parental rights are also under attack.

One of the responsibilities of the natural family is that parents care for their children, providing food, shelter, love, and education. One of the advantages of this arrangement is that both the mother and the father bring different strengths to the parenting table which are both needed by the child. When one is missing, the child will be disadvantaged. 

In addition to these profound reasons that marriage between a man and a woman is important to promote, there is the extremely important issue of children’s rights. One of the rights of children is to be cared for by their parents. Every child deserves to know and live with their biological mother and father. They also deserve to know where they came from and have a sense of their family history. Obviously, in an imperfect world, this doesn’t always happen, but it is an ideal worth holding up and encouraging in our society. That is why promoting traditional marriage is important in order to help as many children as possible to have this ideal in their lives. 

But not only does a same-sex “marriage” not provide this ideal to a child, it actively undermines this ideal by encoding in law that children have no right to both of their parents and that children don’t need both a mother and a father. Thus, not only are children raised in same-sex household purposely deprived of either a mother or a father, but they are being told by the law and by society that they aren’t lacking anything - they have two parents, after all, and there is nothing about those parents’ genders that matters to their upbringing. But this is quite untrue. Children need and deserve both their mother and their father. Thus, same-sex marriage denies children their rightful parents inherently, as part of the design, not merely as a response to unavoidable circumstances as adoption does. And thus elevating same-sex relationships to the status of marriage unavoidably violates the rights of children and should not be made law. 

In conclusion, it is because of the many benefits of traditional marriage to society as well as its intrinsic natural rights that government protects and encourages marriage. Same-sex relationships do not have the same status as marriage because they are intrinsically different relationships. Homosexual relationships are not a natural unit and can produce no children. They thus have no claim to the natural rights that marriage has. Since same-sex unions have not been shown to provide the benefits to society that marriage does, they are not and should not be encouraged the way marriage is. 

Most importantly, in order to protect the rights of children to their mother and father, we must not pretend that same-sex relationships are marriages. We must not encode a vision of the family in our laws that denies children one of their parents as an inherent part of the design. We must uphold the ideal of a married mother and father for every child.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Strengths of Men

A women's group I'm a part of recently asked the members what they would like to change about men. Well, different people have different ideas about what men's main flaws are. But I don't think I would change anything about a man's nature. God made men and women with different strengths for a reason. We need each other, and our different strengths are an asset, not a flaw.

One of the main things people claim is "lacking" in men is the ability to multi-task well. But this isn't a flaw. It's part of the design. Men weren't designed to be women with different plumbing (contrary to feminist thinking). They were designed to be men, and that involves several traits that differ from women's strengths. Multi-tasking is certainly one of these traits on which men and women differ, on average. But it's actually a good thing.

Women are good at multi-tasking because we're designed to watch multiple children while cleaning the house and making meals and this requires being able to keep up with multiple things at once. Yet being good at multi-tasking also means that we women have a harder time focusing on a task that requires in-depth concentration. Men have this ability, which they need in order to focus on the major task of providing for the family. This also helps them set goals for the family and not get distracted from those goals, but to pursue them with perseverance. Focus not only helps prevent distraction, but it also helps keep priorities in line. The jobs that men do generally require greater focus. Not being able to multi-task well actually aids them in this.

In fact, we shouldn't see men's nature as one in which multi-tasking is lacking, but one in which focus is better. It's a trade off. Men and women tend to be at opposite sides of the spectrum, but balance each other so that both get done in a marriage.

Similarly, men might be less focused on cleanliness, but that's actually a good thing considering what men are often needed to do. Can you imagine, if a gunman broke into your house, what might happen if your husband was distracted with thoughts that shooting him will mess up the furniture? Or what if hunters spent a lot of time keeping clean instead of making themselves invisible to their game and tracking it until they could bring home meat for the family? Even just ordinary things in modern-day life like fixing a broken down vehicle require men to get their hands dirty and get the job done, and being able to ignore cleanliness issues helps them do that.

I know I wonder sometimes how my husband can get himself elbow-deep in grease fixing our truck like he does, but I sure am glad he can because we need a vehicle that runs, and I sure can't fix it. Men might sometimes need women to remind them to clean up when it's time to, but men also need to remind women sometimes that being clean at every moment isn't the purpose of life. Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty.

Some view a lack of emotion in men as a bad thing. Yet sometimes we women let our emotions cloud our judgment. We do need our emotions in order to be the nurturers of the home and to aid in taking care of children. Women also have the issue of hormones, which make us fertile, yet make our emotions erratic and difficult to control at times. Being more emotional is not always a good thing. It has its downsides too.

Having less emotion in a man makes him better at focusing on goals and not having judgment clouded by issues which are not a priority or that don't affect what we should do. Men also have the task of going to work every day, no matter how they feel about it, because it needs to be done. Not being unduly burdened with emotions can be a good thing at such times.

Even aggression, which some people view as a "flaw" of men, is actually a necessary thing for protecting the family. Men are the stronger ones and need to have a certain amount of aggression in order to protect those they love from danger and even to deter others from trying to harm them in the first place. Men fight our wars, kill animals to bring home meat, and face danger on many fronts. They are also able to stand for the cause of justice and fight for right precisely because they have the aggression to stand up instead of cowering or worrying about what others will think.

These traits have always been strengths of men and things we women need and rely upon, even when we don't always understand or appreciate them.
Of course, the strengths of men can be twisted into bad and even evil actions. But so can the strengths of women. Sin affects us all. So the only thing we should want to remove from anyone - male or female - is their sin. Not their God-given strengths. Those strengths we should take care to appreciate, even (or perhaps, especially) when they're different from our own.

Linked up with Wifey Wednesday.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

No-Crust Buttermilk Pie

This pie is SO easy and so delicious. It's a little bit like custard, but not as egg-y and a little more buttery. And because it has no crust, you just mix the ingredients together, pour into a pie pan, and bake. It only takes about 5 minutes of prep. No fuss, no stress. Just homemade goodness.

4 eggs, beaten
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1-1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup baking mix (e.g. Bisquick)
7 tablespoons butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. What I do is put the eggs in a bowl and beat them, then add everything else and whisk it good. I don't even need a mixer.

Also, if you don't have buttermilk, just put 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a measuring cup and add plain milk until it reaches the 1-1/3 cup line. Then let it sit for 5 minutes. That's a quick and easy way of making buttermilk.

Pour the mixture into a 9-inch greased pie plate. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top should also be golden brown.

That's it. It's so easy. Now all you have to do is enjoy it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, and the Problem of Liberal Rhetoric

Many people don't notice this, but liberals always speak of people by the group they belong to - African Americans, gays, whites, Hispanics, women, poor people, etc. They talk about the rights of people as a function of belonging to a group - gay rights, women's rights, etc. They don't speak of people as just people in general. The liberals are not color blind. Far from it. They are keenly aware of race and gender and other group statuses because they are the ones promoting separate factions and pitting groups against each other for their own ends. If you don't believe me, just listen to them sometime. They can hardly talk about anything without making it all about special groups. And in the irony of ironies, they have somehow managed to convince a lot of people that it's the conservatives who are racist and sexist.

Liberals don't really care about gays or women or children or poor people. They just want votes and to be thought inclusive and tolerant. It's all part of their image. But they don't actually want to help anyone or stop hatred. In fact, they're very good at promoting hatred (especially against Christianity and conservatism) and drumming it up where it doesn't exist. They survive on the hatred and misunderstanding between groups. They want the country splintered into different groups that all have grudges against each other. That way, they can pretend to commiserate with all the separate groups and promise them help in exchange for votes and money. They need people to be riled up and upset so that they can swoop down with their promises of change and trade people a "government solution" in exchange for their freedom.

How do we know liberals don’t really want to help? Because they don’t actually help. Liberal policies don’t produce good results. They don’t cure poverty or stop racism or protect rights. Their policies are carefully crafted to look good on the surface, but not stop the evils of society, because it is the existence of those evils that keeps everyone coming back to liberals for “solutions.” To cover this failure of their policies, liberals are very good at turning the conversation away from the actual results of their policies and talking instead about all their good motives.

On the other hand, the conservative emphasis on freedom and personal responsibility and equal rights for all does help reduce poverty and racism and treats people as equals, but without taking freedom or money away from one group to give it to another. Conservatives don’t have to whine and pander to special interest groups and tell them all how terrible they have it to get votes. So we have no interest in keeping people down or making them hate one another. We want people prosperous and free, not dependent on us. A healthy, free, and productive society is better for everyone. A society of separate factions that hate each other is bad for everyone – except liberal politicians.

Conservatives, unlike liberals, see people as just people. We realize they belong to different groups, but conservatives see the humanity of other people first. We recognize our similarities as being more important than our differences. And so the idea of special gay rights or women's rights or minority rights are a foreign concept to us. All human beings have the same rights by virtue of being human. Rights don't come from group membership. There are no special rights that some groups have and others don't. We conservatives aren't for gay rights or women's rights or any other special rights based on group status, but not because we're against gays or women or blacks or any group (as liberals like to claim). We're against these special rights precisely because we see all people as being inherently equal. There are only human rights, and all humans have them.