Monday, April 4, 2016
Those who claim to be "transgender" (the new language for transvestites and cross-dressers) have tremendous soul pain -- a separate discussion. But when does pain translate into lawlessness, and thus harm the whole social order?
One central biblical ethic is the power of informed choice, rooted in Genesis 2. Here, informed choice is only possible as rooted in a true definition of terms -- good versus evil, freedom versus slavery, life versus death.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade, which "legalized" human abortion, refused to consider the definition of biological human life.
From 2004 to 2015, Goodridge, Kerrigan and Obergefell, in "legalizing" same-sex marriage, refused to define any biological or fixed identity for homosexuality.
And now, new "transgender" laws refuse to define male and female, making such definitions momentarily subjective, thus endangering women and girls as cross-dressing males use women's public restrooms.
False definitions of terms now govern.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:8, the antichrist is defined as "the lawless one." When lawlessness assaults the nature of male and female, and the covenant of marriage, social collapse beckons. How close are we?
The church first needs to repent for her own sins before we can grasp a redemptive vision.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
In every presidential election cycle, the abortion debate surfaces, but where is the competency in addressing it?
Presently, we have a hypothetical contrast posed if abortions were made illegal. Namely, should a woman be punished by the law for having an abortion? Or should it be the doctor who performs the abortion who is held liable?
Both scenarios miss the deeper question.
Namely, what drives a woman to seek an abortion? Simply, it is male chauvinism at the deepest level. The vast majority of abortions are the result of a man getting a woman pregnant, then refusing responsibility to her, and to their child.
Roe v. Wade will not be overturned until the voting public embraces this reality. In the meantime, I propose a simple law:
A man who gets a woman pregnant is legally responsible for the well-being of both woman and child.
An honest debate needs to happen in grasping the possible ramifications of such a law, and in the process, both women and their unborn gain deserved esteem.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
In the March 25 post, I introduced a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also found at 2016libertyamendment.org.
We face a debate over how to respond to the immigration of Muslim populations which may include those bent on jihad. Do we minimize such a risk under the guise of blanket immigration for those fleeing jihad, on the one hand? Or do we seek to ban all Muslim immigrants, on the other?
Neither extreme will do, if we honor the biblical ethics and religious liberty which undergird the U.S. Constitution.
This proposed amendment merely ratifies what is already constitutional. But in today's social order where biblical and constitutional illiteracy abounds, it is appropriate a) to restate it clearly so as b) to also encourage honest public debate.
Religious, political and economic liberty applies to all people equally. But there a caveat. Namely, unless we affirm a two-way freedom of association and identity in these zones of liberty (freedom to join or leave), it is all hollow.
And thus, by definition, any group of persons who seeks to restrict these liberties, for themselves or others, rejects what it means to be an American.
Since Islam is historically a one-way religion that does not grant full and equal religious, political and economic liberty among Muslims and especially non-Muslims, this is a special problem.
How do we proceed? And especially, in view of those many Muslim Americans who cherish the liberties they have in this nation?
Friday, March 25, 2016
In this extended series, I want to engage in some patient thinking. I believe informed choice on any matter is not possible apart from a true definition of terms, and it is such definitions I pursue.
Also, up front, I ask all Muslim persons who are interested: Am I being honest in representing Islam on its own terms?
Islam is historically a one-way religion. Whether a person is born, converts or is forced into Islam, he or she is not permitted to leave.
Yet too, Muslim persons, like all of us, are wired for full human liberty, in religious, political and economic terms. This is at the root of the aborted "Arab Spring" (apart from some tentative success in Tunisia) -- a desire for freedom.
In the face of ISIS and other threats of Islamic jihad against the West, here is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that can give great protection. And similar language can be contextualized for other nations.
All citizens, visitors and other persons living in the United States, or its territories, must affirm the following:
“I affirm that all persons living within the jurisdictions of the United States of America have full religious, political and economic liberty under the rule of law.
“I thus affirm that all such persons are free to change their religious, political and/or economic affiliations as they see fit, free from any forms of coercion.”
I will look at this further in my next post.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
If a political candidate could honestly make the following four simple promises, what would be the response of a) political insiders, b) political outsiders and especially, c) the voting public?
1. Cut law by 99 percent.
2. Cut taxes by 50 percent.
3. Cut ISIS by 100 percent.
4. Thus, set the economy ablaze.
These are all possible as rooted in the Gospel, and I will unpack these realities in future blogs.
Friday, June 26, 2015
In the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing human abortion, dissenting justice Byron White called it an exercise in "raw judicial power."
In today's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, dissenting justice Antonin Scalia called it a "judicial putsch" (overthrow).
In both cases, these supposed "rights" were invented apart from Constitutional law. This means we are no longer a nation of laws, but of a nation where the human wills of certain elitists are imposed on the rest of us.
Does it matter? From antiquity we have the biblical understanding of human freedom under the rule of law, and governed by King Yahweh. In Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture, we have kings who call themselves gods, and impose slavery on the non-elites of society. The "state" is god.
In the biblical profile of Sodom and Gomorrah, social and sexual anarchy lead to the state becoming god, no dissent is permitted, and the poor and needy get trampled.
In the Roman Empire, Caesar was eventually lifted to the status of a god, where Tiberius was the "son of the divine Augustus." The self-proclaimed son of god. So when the true Son of God appears, the greatest contest of the ages comes to pass. Thus, for early Christians to call Jesus Lord was to oppose Caesar as lord, and thus the persecutions began.
We are now a nation that has forsaken its heritage of unalienable rights given by the Creator, and replaced it with the state as god.
The trajectory now in the United States is to remove the religious liberty of all people who dissent from the state as god, including those of us who say no to human abortion, say no to same-sex marriage, and say no to state enforced healthcare that cheapens real care and costs us much more.
And just like Nazi Germany where the church was squeezed into compliance -- save a few brave souls who resisted like Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- the next assault will especially be against pastors, churches and Christians who do not yield to the state as god. Support homosexuality, ordain homosexual clergy and perform same-sex marriages or lose your tax exemption ...
Sunday, April 19, 2015
As same-sex marriage is set to revisit the United States Supreme Court, a question has already been raised by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Namely, is political and legal opposition to same-sex marriage rooted in an “animus” against homosexual persons qua homosexual persons?
Sadly, there is a reality within the church and culture of such animus, and this has only served to disembowel the constitutional argument for the social goodness of one man and one woman in marriage. This animus is usually the exception, but its presence is poisonous.
In the fall of 2002, I was baptized into this animus reality as I addressed a forum at Boston University on the topic: “Is Same-Sex Marriage Good for the Nation?’ My interlocutor was Arline Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. We had not met before, and I arrived at the auditorium first. When she entered the room, with a number of followers behind her, I stepped forward, reached out my hand to shake hers, and with a smile said, “A pleasure to meet you.”
As I did so, her followers all reared back in surprise, which is say (as I interpreted the moment), they expected me to be a “homophobe” and were not prepared for genuine humanity and hospitality.
Arline led off the evening and said up front that every other person she had debated on this subject “had palpably hated me, but not so tonight with John Rankin.” I was surprised, and even more so later when she also said, “John, we know that you love us.” I never used the word love, but certainly showed respect for her equal humanity, and sought to listen well.
After a forum some years later, Arline gave me a hug, and in an email said to me: “John, you are a true gentleman and a thoughtful advocate.” She also gave me permission to publish and attribute these words. This from the woman who successfully led the lobbying movement for the nation’s first “gay rights” bill in Massachusetts in 1989, and again in 2005, led the lobbying effort for the first in the nation same-sex marriage law.
In my post-graduate studies at Harvard Divinity School in the 1980s, I was once took a class in feminist ethics. During lunch, early in the term, three women classmates approached me as I was sitting in the refectory. One of them introduced herself along with her two friends, and she said, “You know John, for an evangelical, you’re a nice guy.”
She continued, and introduced a topic de novo. She noted that the three of them were lesbian, and every lesbian they knew had been the victim of “physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse” by some man in her early years. This was new information to me. And why, I still wonder, were they sharing this testimony with me?
I remember praying in my spirit as I heard these words, Dear God above, has the church ever heard this? Or do we merely pass judgment on those who are homosexual and move on?
In 2003 I shared this story at a huge turnout before the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut State Legislature, broadcast live on CT-N. The topic was pending legislation on same-sex marriage, and as I relayed this story briefly in my testimony, the whole room was filled with groans so cacophonous I could hardly hear myself speak. A friend in the audience later told me that all the groans were from women wearing same-sex marriage stickers, and that they held their breaths until I was done with that segment.
I was neither questioned nor challenged by anyone there, nor subsequently. It was something to get past for those in charge. What I did, unknowingly, was to speak a pain that dares not speak its name – and to speak it with unfeigned human care for those who have suffered. This reality has deep resonation among the male homosexual population as well.
I have addressed this and related topics in many other settings such as the University of Rhode Island, Yale, Wesleyan, New York University, Syracuse, Harvard, the University of New Hampshire, Smith, the Chautauqua Institution, a homosexual restaurant, churches of various theological persuasions, many personal conversations with avowed homosexual persons, Trinity, Dartmouth, Brown and the University of Hartford. As well, at the behest of an ad hoc meeting of fellow ministers, I was the scribe for The Ministers Affirmation on Marriage in the Hartford Courant: “Yes to Man and Woman in Marriage: No to Same-Sex Marriage.” It never elicited any public critique, as first 200, then 700 ministers and Christian leaders signed it. I even once debated the infamous and late Fred Phelps of “godhatesfags.com,” itemizing fourteen ways in which he made an idol out of hate.
Yet all the while, in my proactive theology and politics, I argue that one man and one woman in marriage is sine qua non for a healthy civil order, and that same-sex marriage undermines this foundation. This is in ways that almost no one discusses, and why I have submitted an Amicus Curae before the Supreme Court posing seven questions – where the well-being of all people equally is the goal.
Here are the questions:
1] Is there any written source for unalienable rights in the United States apart from the Creator identified in Genesis 1-2?
2] Is marriage itself an unalienable right – one that all people can demand for themselves – or is it an option under liberty?
3] How does the Creator define human sexuality?
4] Are same-sex marriage advocates thus forcing a choice between unalienable and ultimate rights given by the Creator, on the one hand, versus basic and penultimate rights defined by human authority, on the other?
5] And if so, are same-sex marriage advocates decoupling the Declaration of Independence from the United States Constitution and civil law?
6] Can same-sex marriage advocates give any example in human history where a homosexual ethos has advanced the well-being of the larger social order?
7] Is homosexuality a fixed or immutable trait? In Goodridge, re Marriage Cases and in Kerrigan, no scientific basis for a supposed genetic or social determinism for homosexual identity was even attempted. And I have seen none attempted otherwise. Apart from clear evidence of a “fixed or immutable trait,” Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, relative to defining a “suspect” or civil rights class status, is not met for homosexual persons qua self-identified homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a civil rights class in U.S. law.
Before the Court can make any ruling, I believe these questions must be addressed and answered.
On my website, www.teii.org, at the Marriage or Pansexuality icon, there are nearly 70 articles that explore this plus much more cognate territory. I invite those in the church to consider a question: To what extent does male irresponsibility despise and abandon boys and girls into an ersatz human sexuality, one that teems with sexually transmitted diseases, abortion and early death? And for those so abandoned, as they find homes among communities of shared suffering, what would we have done had we suffered such violation, and sans a true grasp of the Gospel?
The harshest language Jesus ever used was in calling some of the hypocritical elite “sons of hell.” Any man who betrays true manhood, and does sexual violence to others, along with the hatred of a Fred Phelps, are clear examples I know where such judgment is merited.
I also invite those who disagree with me in any capacity, inside the church or outside, to pose their most rigorous questions.
Jesus removes the condemnation from a manipulated woman caught in the act of adultery, and then calls her to leave her life of broken trust (my language for the most biblically comprehensive definition of “sin”). And he gives the power of his Holy Spirit to all those who want to heed his words. I have a friend, a Unitarian minister, whose church has welcomed many avowedly homosexual persons. And yet, he made a remarkable statement to me once in a public conversation. Namely, though in his counseling with many of them, he affirmed them in their homosexual identities, but saw no resulting improvement in their psychological and physical health across the years. There are far deeper painful relational realities at play. Does legalized same-sex marriage cause any remedy for such human suffering, or only give imprimatur to deepening broken trust?
If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, the church bears great responsibility. Broken relationships will continue to multiply and the social order will continue to crumble on many fronts. I pray otherwise, but we in the church must be proactive and not reactive in our grasp of the Gospel. And if same-sex marriage does not become federal law, our calling remains equally the same.