Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Gospel, first, always

Jean P. Purcell 

Noah Webster (1758 – 1843 ) is a well-known American historical figure remembered for his significant contributions to American letters - including spelling books and his word dictionary, as well as literary criticism, political writings, journalism, and reviews. 

 He is rarely, however, mentioned as a deep-thinking Christian believer. I wonder how many people have heard that he was. I recently realized his Christian calling when I read a letter he wrote to a friend in Boston, dated 1809. It has gripped my attention for many days. It is called "The Peculiar Doctrines of the Gospel, Explained and Defended." It is about the preeminence of the Gospel.

Noah Webster was troubled by the first place churches were giving to the doing of good works. The Gospel had, if you read his text, almost been laid aside. The same mistake causes concern among some of us today.

Webster provided a convincing case for us who are of churches, to urge re-assessment today, and in strong, unapologetic words. Webster described a creed based on good works as "...a rock on which perhaps more intelligent men are shipwrecked than on any other." 

Such a creed, he stated, is overturned by this one defect: "that no man destitute of a principle of holiness, or a supreme love and regard to his Maker, can perform the moral duties, in the manner which the laws of God require."

He explained why man's motives if "destitute of a principle of holiness, or a supreme love and regard to his Maker cannot be pure; they cannot spring from the right source; nor will any man, without a higher principle than a mere regard to social happiness, ever be able to perform all the moral duties with steadiness and uniformity." 

Those words immediately remind of Jesus' answer to what is the greatest commandment: 

"...The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

He continued, "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

The Lord answered (Mark 12: 29-31; also Matthew 22, Luke 10) as it is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5), which a scribe or lawyer of the day would have known, "love the Lord thy God." 

The Christian's chief aim is to follow and obey that command, to love the Lord our God fully, with all that we are. We set our eyes firmly on this goal of love for the Lord. His love for His world, as shown in its utmost in the fullness of time in Jesus, the Son, gives all that is good for this world and for its people, who are created by God. All that is good follows from such love. The Source of the spark and the fire of love and life never changes. He is love. 

Also by Noah Webster, The Value of the Bible and excellence of the Christian religion

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Week in Review: Rainbow Union, First Ghoul Award, Quote of the Week

Jean P. Purcell

Week's End
 My post at week's end was a tough one to get right, and I jumped too soon to publish it. However, some readers read around the disorganization and got the point. I corrected the problems. 

This post about history, marriage and rainbow union is in final form: New name for new status of same-gender unions 

Ghoul Award
The report of Planned Parenthood harvesting organs of unborn children earns Planned Parenthood (PP) a Ghoul Award because of the company's continued social and medical ethics violations.
  (Disturbing information on video) I found to be morbidly chilling the the video of a cool PP rep talking over her lunch and red wine about doing abortions with care to preserve organs for body harvesting* - -whether to "crush (the infant body) above or crush (the infant body) below."   

*Ed. Note: Such euphemisms need to be discarded.

Quote of the Week
James Willingham, writing about the Bible: 

"...a process is now beginning to take place which will restore the freedoms, the depth of thought, the wherewithal to deal with the incomprehensible future now rushing upon us, and all because the intellectual book is coming back into view among the people of this land."

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New name for new status of same-gender unions

Jean P. Purcell
Religion, History > Marriage

Marriage is to be held in honor  - Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is a unique term for a unique life union--male and female. In Genesis, the first book of the Tanakh, God revealed a plan to be realized through His creation. It would come through two, the first male and female. They were to become "one flesh" in a true "fit," an intimate biological and social relationship designed and equipped for procreation. This word of God established marriage, original human and biological complementarity, two genders obviously and functionally different.

In the book of Hebrews, thought to have been written about 70 AD, the Greek word pronounced gamos, and equivalent to English word marriage, was used, among earliest references to marriage. Over time, civilizations developed. As tribes and nations (States) formed in the West, there were religious leaders who abused power, affecting multitudes. The "separation of church and state" became a goal so that the Church could not dictate to a nation how or where or if to worship God; and the State could not dictate to the Church about its freedom of religion.

International laws later borrowed from ancient biblical records regarding marriage. However, in time secular States, and their courts, decided to mess with that. Although the word marriage in English was used as early as the 13th century to define the sacred covenant union, wedding, within the Church, the State saw benefits in taking authority over weddings and marriage, and it eventually had to be State-approved or registered. The Church (representing religion) would be required to participate under the State's laws affecting religion. 

The tables were turning.

In 1653, under Oliver Cromwell's leadership (Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, 1654-1658), the State did a remarkable thing: "During the Nominated Assembly or ‘Barebones Parliament’ of 1653, ...the conducting of marriages was taken away from the clergy altogether ..." (History of Parliament - emphasis added).

Marriage union contracts had to be authorized through justices of the peace.

Jump forward 300-plus years to the U.S. in the summer of 2015, where four of the seven justices of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) erased marriage as it was created to be. They ruled to change its foundational identity.

It seemed that four Supreme Court justices thumbed their noses, figuratively speaking, at  sacred texts, covenants, records, history, and tradition. SCOTUS ruled a restructuring and a redefinition of marriage. To many inside and outside the Church, this seemed no less odd than redefining the heart to include the spine, ignoring science; because to include same-gender unions as marriage is to ignore biology.

This monumental event, this claim to remake what marriage is by passing a law, this delusion that what marriage is and how it works on basic levels can be changed...the ruling ignores the obvious: marriage always assumes the physical/biological ability to procreate, due to the obvious male-female physical differences; that always is the case, barring medical problems. (Hence, fierce contraception debates.) To include under marriage those legal unions that, by type, are incapable of procreation within the union is to go outside the meaning and function of marriage.

So here is what should happen now, given that marriage is between male and female:

A new term should be created for now-legal same-gender unions.    

The precedent arose on the summer evening, 2015, of the Supreme Court ruling. In LaFayette Park, across from the White House, same-gender and transgender people celebrated in front of a White House display of full rainbow lighting across the White House facade.

The LBGT community symbol is the rainbow. With the rainbow union victory by four on the Supreme Court, rainbow union gained a legal standing. That standing was what same-gender union proponents and supporters celebrated in front of the rainbow-lit White House the evening of the SCOTUS ruling.  

Marriage is a specifically and distinctly man-woman union. It is not rainbow-identified or -symbolized. Marriage does not disparage singleness; it does not judge the divorced; it does not judge anyone. Marriage is the term theologically and historically for the male-female life covenant.            

Rainbow unions need their own name that distinguishes them from man-woman unions, marriage.  

From Genesis 1: 27, 28: 
   So God created man in his own image...; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it....

Related: Changes in Marriage Law, 19th Century

Comments invited.

Friday, July 03, 2015

If Marriage were the Apple. . .

 My View Today

A few days ago I wrote here about the pendulum swing of public views. In Wait for It. Wait for It. . . I held that change will swing back. I also said that those who want change in different cases will need to work for it with others. I don't expect to see a change in the recent U.S. Supreme Court's majority (though not a complete one) marriage redefinition.

In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health et al., Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, joined Chief Justice Roberts in favor of Obergefell et al., same-gender marriage. Dissenting were Justices Scalia, Alito, and Thomas.

In David Post's column June 29, 2015 in The Washington Post, he discussed problems with the Supreme Court making the decision. He wrote that while pleased with the law's change, he was "considerably less delighted that we arrived there because 5 Justices of the Supreme Court have so decided the matter." That may be the basis of any future court cases.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier asked former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson about his view on the  SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision favoring redefinition of marriage. Mr. Olson  stated his agreement with the ruling and said that a legal denial of marriage to anyone of one's choice would be equal to denying equal, unsegregated education.

The two are incomparable. Marriage, from the beginning, has been a male-female covenant blessed by God and a bond of multi-generational families; public education is an institution intended to benefit people alone and in community. Both marriage and education are important, yet they are in no basic way the same in function, purpose, history or meaning.

This is one of the problems with arguments on either side of this issue: mixing apples and oranges in reasoning. Mr. Olson's argument has a problem in that it is based on the proverbial apples and oranges flaw--two unlike things being treated as alike and equal: marriage the apple, education the orange.

Since I first posted this commentary, there has begun an investigation into reports that the largest and wealthiest abortion-providing U.S. organization has been harvesting body parts of unborn children for sale for use...research, organ transplant, other.  To what shall that be compared? With what arguments and comparisons will some in media and medicine deny, explain away, or...wait for it...defend or try to justify what is alleged in this case?

Related reading: New Name for Same-Sex Unions