“O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.”
– King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition
“If I were the prince of darkness I’d want to engulf the whole world in darkness…. I’d subvert the churches first. I’d begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, “Do as you please.”
“To the young I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that man created God, instead of the other way around. I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is square….”
“And then I’d get organized. I’d educate authors on how to make lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I’d peddle narcotics…“If I were the devil I’d soon have families that war with themselves, churches that war with themselves and nations that war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flame.“If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects and neglect to discipline emotions—just let those run wild…“Within a decade I’d have prisons overflowing, I’d have judges promoting pornography. Soon I could evict God from the courthouse, and then the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money….“If I were the devil I’d take from those who have, and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious…. In other words, if I were the devil I’d keep on doing on what he’s doing.
“Paul Harvey, good day. ” [Here is his video: If I Were the Devil]
That warning was heard and read across America decades ago. But our nation ignored it! Now we face unthinkable consequences. It reminds me of an occult children’s book used in public schools back in the nineties called The Dark is Rising. Indeed, it is! And the spreading darkness is clouding minds and blinding people — both to the pressing evils and to God’s saving love. Even before the social revolution of the sixties, our media establishmentand transformational schools were steering the war on God’s Word and ways. Soon mystical thrills replaced Truth and certainty, while strange beliefs and corrupting values fed the minds of the masses. Few of our youth would resist the depravity.
We may be shocked by the recent news reports about Colorado’s latest mass killing spree. But it could happen anywhere. Remember, America’s moral compass has been crumbling for a long time!
Matt Barber articulated what many of us felt as the news reports spread. His article, Our culture of death and the Batman shooting, summarized it well:
“…in the early morning hours of July 20, 2012, a deranged, fame-starved gunman shot dead at least 12 innocent people and wounded scores more at a midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ a Batman sequel…. Please join mein the coming hours, days and weeks in, yes, praying for the victims, their families and the state of our lost union….One of the victims killed was a 3-month-old baby. Another was 6.”
Barber’s article includes a link to an earlier article that clears away the fog that hides much of today’s cultural evil. Written in 2008 by British reviewer Jenny McCartney, the title alone is sobering: “Our attitude to violence is beyond a joke as new Batman film, The Dark Knight, shows.” Her warning shows us how far we have fallen:
“If I were 10 years old, would I be badgering my parents to take me to see the [2008 version] Batman film, The Dark Knight? You bet I would. It’s the latest and biggest release in the superhero genre …
“If I were the parent who relented and took a 10-year-old child to see The Dark Knight, would I be sorry? Once again, you bet I would. It’s different from other superhero films…. But the greatest surprise of all …has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.
“…the film begins with a heist carried out by men in sinister clown masks. As each clown completes a task, another shoots him point-blank in the head…. A man’s face is filleted by a knife, and another’s is burned half off. A man’s eye is slammed into a pencil. A bomb can be seen crudely stitched inside another man’s stomach, which subsequently explodes. A trussed-up man is bound to a chair and set alight atop a pile of banknotes.
“A plainly terrorised child is threatened at gunpoint by a man with a melted face. It is all intensely realistic. Oh but don’t worry, folks: there isn’t any nudity….
“It’s all a comic-book fantasy, and comic books are well known for their surreal, cartoonish bursts of violence. But the director, Christopher Nolan… has tried instead to make the violence and fear as believable as possible, and in this he has succeeded.
“The Dark Knight, however, has been rated 12A by the British Board of Film Classification, which means that although the BBFC believes it is best suited to children aged 12 and over, any under-12 can see it provided he or she is accompanied by an adult….
“Casino Royale (2006), the most recent James Bond film, was also given a 12A certificate: young boys in particular are attracted to Bond…. But Casino Royale… was in fact a new kind of Bond film, shot like a realistic action thriller. Parents and their open-mouthed children found themselves watching a scene in which a bloodied Bond, stripped naked and tied to a chair, is tortured by having his genitals beaten with a length of rope.
“A friend of mine was somewhat dismayed afterwards to witness his two young boys, aged nine and seven, diligently re-enacting the torture scene with an outsize teddy bear strapped to a chair and a flail constructed from a knotted dressing-gown cord….
“… there is some distinction between violence which is clearly fantastical in origin, such as that in Harry Potter, and that which is realistic and sadistic in tone, such as that in The Dark Knight. The former might well bother younger children afterwards… but the latter is more likely to taint their fundamental vision of the world and adult norms of behaviour.The intensity of violence in The Dark Knight is a grimly logical progression from the sort of distilled brutality that has rapidly become the norm in films rated 15 and 18: the only difference is that now small children are permitted to watch it, too.
“…Quentin Tarantino was the edgy enfant terrible of Hollywood. Now he is a member of its establishment, encouraging younger, mainstream ‘torture porn‘ directors …to push the boundaries of explicit, ingenious cruelty ever further….
“‘… in the US, where any film critic who expresses measured dislike of The Dark Knight faces hundreds of intensely hostile online responses. The more violent the source of entertainment, the more vitriolic its fans grow in defence of it: there is a whiff of the enraged mob at Tyburn, furious at anyone who attacks its right to thrilling, primal pleasures….’
Are we facing the end of civil discourse in America? Could factual debates soon fade from the public square? Will irrational rage and spreading violence quench our voices and destroy our freedom?
I’m tempted to say yes, but I don’t really know the answers. Yet, I am confident that we can trust my sovereign Shepherd and King to lead us. No matter what happens in coming years, He will surely guard His sheep and care for His people! What a joy to be part of His family!
Romans 8:35-39 New International Version (NIV)
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a]
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our Spiritual Warfare Series:
Part 7: Good or Evil – Who Wins?Part 10: A Devious Plot for a Blinded NationPart 11: Marching toward Global Solidarity
Dear Corporate America,
I haven’t written to you in a while. At least not since my television broke down, my toaster developed a taste for human flesh and my phone company ran away with my phone number to Mexico.
Rachel Maddow says we’re both on the right and are really close together. But then again Rachel Maddow also says the Republican Party drinks the blood of small children. So she can be a little factually challenged on occasion.
Still I’m on the right and you’re occasionally sort of, but not really, on the right. I support lower taxes. So do you. At least for yourself. I support deregulation. You only support deregulation when it suits your narrow interests, but not when it lets smaller businesses and freelancers compete against you.
What you seem to want is a country with low taxes, your preferred forms of deregulation and the population of Mexico.
These things are not compatible. Mexico is currently governed by the Institutional Revolutionary Party; a member of the Socialist International. It has a multi-generational teachers’ union whose members pass on their jobs to their children and whose riots have to be put down by armed force.
When it comes to ease of doing business, the United States is ranked 4th, Mexico is ranked 48th, coming in ahead of Kazakhstan. A Comparmex report showed that companies spend 10% of their revenue on bribes.
Is this what you really want for America?
Your lobbies and associations keep pushing for amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens even while your companies keep fleeing California.
If you don’t like doing business in California, which is turning into the American version of Mexico, why do you want to turn the rest of America into California?
You keep talking about how we need “immigration reform” to be more globally competitive. Are there superpower rivals desperately trying to import 12 million people whose great dream is to put their entire families on social welfare? Are there Chinese recruiting agents showing up at the border to urge the DREAMERS clambering over the fence to try Shanghai instead?
I understand why you would rather pay a Pakistani or Chinese programmer on an H-1B visa half of what you would pay a talented American programmer. And that’s your choice. And paying fifty bucks for the full version of that programmer’s work, instead of ten times as much on your licensed edition based on a program once created by American programmers but reassembled into an update by H-1B employees until it has more bugs than features, is mine.
That’s how the free market works.
But while those H1-B employees will forward all your confidential information back to Chinese intelligence and occasionally set off bombs while shouting Allah Akbar, they don’t threaten your ability to do business.
Sure one of your execs might be flying on the plane that goes down in a burst of exploding underwear and next month a bunch of programs that look suspiciously like yours will come flying out of Zhong Guan Cun undercutting your international market share. And the next time you’re negotiating with a Chinese company, they’ll just happen to have access to all of your corporation’s emails.
But you can live with that. Can you really live with full amnesty and the consequences of destroying the Republican Party as little more than a protest vote in a Socialist International America?
You spent the last election whining about how hard it is to do business in America under the Democratic Party. You hate ObamaCare, despite promoting it, and then you do everything in your power to make Democratic Party rule permanent through amnesty.
I’m not a psychiatrist and it would be hard for me to get all of Corporate America onto a couch for a session, but it seems to me that you’re suffering from a severe bout of schizophrenia.
You want workers who will take low pay without complaining about working conditions. And you can get that with illegal aliens who don’t speak the language and don’t know their rights, until they hook up with community organizations backed by the entire Democratic Party and then you’re up to your neck in lawsuits and minimum wage bills.
At which point you’ll threaten to move to Mexico or China… to escape a problem that you caused.
Maybe I’m misjudging you, but I don’t think you really want an open economy where deregulation cuts out the government bureaucracy and makes it possible for both workers and corporations to do business on better terms.
I think that Mexico is exactly what you want. Sometimes in business you have to take yes for an answer. And I think that in this case yes is the answer.
You want a closed system where there is no competition and cronyism is the only way things get done, where the corporate taxes are a bit lower, but the difference is more than made up by bribes, a society sharply divided between the vast armies of the unprotesting poor who are resigned to their fate and a small wealthy elite that enjoys its superiority in ways that it can’t on this side of the border.
You don’t really want to build things. You want to keep other people from building them while you enjoy a monopoly on the things that someone innovative built twenty years ago before he was forced to leave the country.
Paul Ryan is your boy and few other politicians represent the complete disconnect between the economic and immigration policies of your kind better than him. Ryan wants to cut social benefits and legalize 12 million illegal immigrants. He wants to cut money for the “takers” and add million more takers to the voting rolls to ensure that any legislative changes he makes will vanish in a wink.
So what does Paul Ryan really want? Does he want to cut spending more or does he want amnesty more? He’s willing to sacrifice his budgets for amnesty, but not amnesty for his budgets.
Ryan may spout nonsense about how this generation of “family-oriented” illegal aliens will start lots of business and keep social security afloat, and how they, in a complete reversal of history, will be all for cutting social spending and voting Republican. But I doubt that he or McCain or anyone else is stupid enough to believe that nonsense.
Given a choice between America, the Republican Party and Amnesty, they’re willing to sacrifice America and the Republican Party, not to mention Conservatism, on the altar of Amnesty.
The real question is why. Not why Ryan is choosing such a course, but why his backers who claim to want legislative reforms and economic freedom are pursuing an aggressive and well-funded course that will ensure that America will never have any more economic freedom than can be bought by a bribe or a family connection? Why are the people who claim to be concerned about our debt and our unsustainable spending determined to take both up to eleven?
Maybe we’re all part of the problem. Maybe as a society we’re no longer capable of producing leaders capable of thinking in terms of long term consequences. We want what we want and we want it now.
Corporate America has decided that it needs cheap labor now and the tens of millions of unemployed and unskilled Americans don’t do. In the long run, amnesty will make America all but impossible to do business in for any company that doesn’t have General Electric, Duke Energy or Tesla in its name. But in the long run, the sun may go nova. That’s how people like that think.
Maybe it’s as simple as pumping and dumping America, cashing in on a few years of cheap labor and then heading somewhere else and profiting from selling the last remnants of the collapsing economy to Qatar or Saudi Arabia. It appears to be happening in Europe. Why not America?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism in the same way that I’m for democracy. As Churchill said, it’s the worst possible system except for all the alternatives.
Capitalism, like Democracy or Wikipedia, isn’t innately good, it’s just better because it’s decentralized and that allows people to pursue their own dreams, agendas and anything else they like. The sum total of this crowdsourced wonderland is sometimes good, sometimes bad, often in-between, but on average better than any tyranny of politics, economics or articles on breeds of armadillo would be.
Democracy gave us Barack Obama. Capitalism gave us GE. Wikipedia lists a blue armadillo that doesn’t exist in nature. All these flaws remind us that crowdsourcing is imperfect. It doesn’t give us good results. It gives us better results.
But dear Corporate America, despite what Rachel Maddow says, I kind of like you. You make decent toasters. Or at least you design decent toasters that China makes. And if you ever decided to dump the Green energy labels, the abstract art and the million dollar donations to gay rights groups and turn into the monstrous cryptofascist conspiracy that liberals claim you are, we might get somewhere.
But we both know that’s not going to happen.
You’re not conservative. You’re certainly not right-wing. There are exceptions, but they’re not the rule. Like most of our elites, you’re liberal. At best you’re occasionally libertarian, but in a limited way. You’re all for opening up the borders, but you’re all for requiring businesses to get permits if they’re in a competing line of work. And you feel guilty, about ice caps, black kids in the inner city and all the other stuff that comes in your mail.
But don’t feel too bad, Corporate America. You’re not uniquely awful. You’re just part of a society whose best and brightest have lost their way and whose proud and prosperous have spent too much time listening to them.
In a decaying society, you have learned to grab what you can without believing that the society and the nation are worth protecting as more than sources of loot. In your comfort zone, the transnational idea has come to seem plausible and the world and its many nations seem infinitely redundant to you. If America doesn’t work out, try China or Mexico or Qatar or Singapore.
That comfort zone in which you can thrive on transnational fantasies while still vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard is brought to you by a Pax Americana. The peace of the American mercantile empire that your forebears put into place with sailing ships and armed men enables you to sell and buy across the globe, to jump in a jet plane and pop from airport to airport and from luxury hotel to luxury hotel.
All this is not the fulfillment of some Tom Friedmanesque fantasy about the inevitablity of globalism and the flattening of the world. It’s not a new era of history. It’s the last days of a peaceful empire that made your wealth and power possible. And that you are destroying the same way that the Romans destroyed theirs.
Yes, for a time you will have your estates in Gaul and compliant barbarians who will clean your floors and look after your kids at cut rate prices. The wine will be plentiful and the circuses shocking. And one day you will wake up and discover that your grandchildren have become barbarians, that the civilization you knew is gone and the virtues that made your way of life possible are gone with it.
I won’t preach to you about sacrifice.I’ll leave that to Elizabeth Warren and her ilk who will bleed you for every cent you have unless you pay her off first. I will tell you that actions have consequences and not just of the class action lawsuit kind. Power is not the same thing as control. That’s not only a lesson that Obama must learn. It’s a lesson that you must learn as well.
To build a thing, you must know what it is you are building, you must test the structure, practice with the tools and make it real. Destroying a thing is easier. All you have to do is tear down what works and replace it with a slipshod structure made out of poor materials and tools you don’t know how to use as cheaply as possible.
That’s what your amnesty push will do to America. And when it’s done, when America is California and California is Mexico and organized crime is indistinguishable from government and the only way to do business is with a handful of bribes, then you really will have built that.
On that day, there will be no Tea Party to save you and no Republican Party left to defend you.
You will flee to Singapore or China or Africa, only to realize that you are no longer a wealthy American, but the citizen of a fallen empire without protection in a world where the old rules made by the Pax Americana no longer apply. When the last bribes have been squeezed out of you and your company has been taken over and looted by the son of some government official, perhaps you will finally come to know the worth of the civilization you so foolishly destroyed.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure my DVD player no longer works.
We made three fundamental mistakes in our dealings with Islam. First, we assumed that the only politically acceptable answer was also the right answer. This is the most common mistake that politicians make.
Second, we established a construct of a moderate and extreme Islam that reflected how we saw it from the outside. This construct had no theological relationship to any actual belief or movement within Islam. Had we made the division into modern and fundamentalist, we would at least have been using words that meant something. Instead we used moderate and extreme in a military sense to mean hostile and friendly or neutral. But as a Vietnam era president and military command should have known, in a guerrilla war not everyone who isn’t shooting at you is friendly or even neutral.
Our construct was black and white with few shades of gray. But the Muslim world is all shades of gray. The absolute choice we wanted them to make, “you’re either with us or with the terrorists”, was foreign to their culture and their way of life. Multiple layers of contradictory relationships and alliances are the norm in the region. You expect to betray and be betrayed, much as you expect to cheat and be cheated while bartering for a carpet at the souk. In a region where coalitions of Fascists, Communists and Islamists are doable, contradictions don’t exist, all alliances are expedient and built on an expected betrayal. The rise of Islam itself was built on broken peace treaties. So it is no wonder then that in response to Bush’s call, they chose both us and the terrorists. Appeasing America and the Islamists at the same time was their version of the politically safe middle ground, the path of least resistance and the only acceptable option.
And the more we prattled about the peacefulness of Islam, the more we looked like we could be easily appeased with a few gestures. And so it was the Islamists who were more threatening, who got the benefit of of their appeasement. We had asked Muslim countries for an alliance with no mixed allegiances, in a region where only kin could ask or count on such an arrangement. And we are not their kin, neither by blood and certainly not by religion. While we insisted that all people were the same, this was a statement of our belief, not theirs. And they did not believe that we believed it either.
Rather than learning what the Muslim world was, we had already decided what we wanted it to be. But our perspective was a foreign one. They might pander to it, but they would never dictate their own beliefs by it. We might talk of a moderate or extreme Islam, but that is our idea, not theirs. There is more than one form of Islam, they are not defined by their extremism or moderation. Nor by their approach toward violence. No more than we are.
Muslim theology is violent, because violence has always been a tool of its expansion. When we ask Muslims to disassociate themselves from violence, we are really asking them to disassociate themselves from Islam. And this they will not do. They will contextually condemn some acts of terror, depending on the identity of the perpetrators and the targets, and the impact of the acts on the nation and ideology of the Muslim or Muslims in question. But they will dub other acts of terrorist as valid resistance. The differences are not moral, but contextual.
The Muslim world is a gray zone full of alliances written on sand where every principle can be bent at need, but is dominated by a religion that pretends to be morally absolute. This is an inherent contradiction. And like most moral conflicts it is resolved through self-deception. Our absolute standards have no meaning when applied to the Muslim world. They have moral force, but little practical relevance.
Islamic moderation is not theology, but pragmatism. Its fanatics are the most trustworthy, and its pragmatists the least trustworthy. We have put our faith in the moderation of the pragmatists, but confusing pragmatism with moderate beliefs, morals or friendship is no better than lapping at the sand of a mirage and calling it water.
Our third and final mistake was to believe that we held all or most of the cards, and were free to give away as many of them as we wanted to. But the more we thought we were calling the shots, the more we were shot at. Because we were not in control. The political, religious and armed conflicts we were engaged in were being fought on their terms, not ours. They began the war. They decided when to initiate the violence or call a halt to it. Their violence set the tone, we tried to defuse it. Our attempts to promote moderation in the Muslim world were reactive. It is the bomber who has the initiative once he chooses to act. And so we tried to teach the bombers not to bomb, while the bombers taught us to appease them.
When a psychiatrist rewards rats for finishing a maze, is it the psychiatrist who is training the rats to finish mazes, or the rats who are training him to give them cheese. The answer to that question hinges on who controls the experiment. While we thought that we were experimenting on the Muslim world to make them more moderate, they were actually experimenting on us to teach us to appease them.
While we were trying to force the Muslim world into our maze with two openings, one labeled ‘extreme’ and one labeled ‘moderate’, they were really moving us into their meta-maze with two openings, ‘death’ or ‘appeasement’. Our plan was to keep forcing them to choose the moderate openings in order to moderate them and break them of any attachment to terrorism. But our chief method for moving them there was appeasement. Once we got bogged down in Iraq, appeasement became our only method. While we thought that we were leading them to the moderate opening in our maze by appeasing them, they were leading us to the appeasement opening in their maze.
The rats turned out to be training the psychiatrist and they have done an excellent job of it. The Muslim world is more Anti-American than it was 10 years ago, while we are more pro-Muslim. Each time they finish the moderate maze and assure us how peaceful Islam is, we gift them with the cheese of appeasement. Rather than teaching them to be moderate using the reward of our appeasement, they have taught us to appease them using the reward of their faked moderation. Like tourists at the souk, we have been cheated badly by laying out good money for a fake rug. But worse than that we have been turned into rats in their maze, rushing to appease them in the hopes that they will reward us by being moderate.
Pavlov demonstrated that once you teach dogs to associate a ringing bell with a meal, they will salivate when you ring the bell even when there is no food. So too rats will keep running the maze even when there is no cheese. So too governments continue appeasing Islam, even when the promised cheese of moderation fails to yield any significant changes on the ground. A plot broken up here or there. Or even a mosque that opens its doors to the FBI or Scotland Yard is enough for them. But is it the FBI that is teaching Muslims to be more cooperative, or Muslims who are teaching the FBI to be more accommodating. Who is the psychiatrist and who is the rat?
By initiating violence, the Muslim world turned us into their rats. We reacted to their stimuli as we desperately looked for a way out of their maze of violence. Except when we took the initiative by attacking them– the locus of control was always in their hands. And even when we did take their initiative, it was still in response to their violence. We were still making war on their terms. Trying to work with them, reform them, reach them and appease them. We were running the maze and still are. Starving to death still searching for the cheese which isn’t there.
All this drives the flywheel of appeasement round and round. The more we turn it, the worse the violence becomes. The capacity for terrorism made Muslims prominent. They have become ticking time bombs we are driven to defuse. We shower the Muslim world with respect, money, political power and every possible thing that might keep them from killing us. It is absolutely vital in the minds of our leaders that we make them like us so that they won’t kill us. Which means that it actually is in their interest to kill us. Rather than rewarding them for their moderation, we are actually rewarding them for their extremism.
The more we appease them, the more violent they become. And the more we habituate ourselves to appeasement, the harder it is for us to stop. Our worst mistake in dealing with the Muslim world was to habituate ourselves to the appeasement solution. To make it a reflex action. American politicians chose it as their path of least resistance between complete surrender and all out war as their safe way through the maze. They rationalized it as a wedge strategy to split the minority of extremists who wanted a superislamic state from the majority who wanted peace and prosperity. By embracing Islam, we would reform it. The majority of Muslims would choose peace and prosperity, and ally with us to isolate the extremists. Then we would use the wedge strategy to split the extremists into the moderate extremists and the extreme extremists. Using the carrot of foreign aid and close ties to the United States and the stick of military intervention, we would force the terrorist groups and their state backers to choose either the carrot or the stick.
But it was the Muslim world which was forcing us to choose between their carrot and their stick. The carrot was a positive relationship with the Muslim world, the stick was a negative relationship. And since 2001 we have been chasing the carrot, while getting whacked over the head with the stick. Some of the politicians have realized that there is no carrot, only the stick. For these ‘New Realists’ avoiding the stick or at least minimizing the force of its blows has become the new carrot.
If we’re good little infidels, we’ll only have 5 terrorist attacks a year instead of 10. We’ll have 100 rapes instead of 200 if all wear our burqas. And even that is another illusion. The Muslim world cannot control its own violence, only channel it. There is no off switch. Only pipes that they can use to funnel it our direction. They cannot offer us peace. It is not within their power. Only by directing their own violence inward could they do this. And that is obviously not in their interest. Only by forcefully demonstrating that the violence is absolutely not in their interest, will we ever put a stop to it. And to do that we would have to pose more of a threat to them, than their own people do. Appeasement is the worst possible way to go about doing that.
With our first mistake, we limited our options to one single course of action. With our second mistake, we guided that course of action based on a construct that had no relationship to the reality of the Muslim world. With our third and final mistake, that course of action was hijacked and used to manipulate our behavior, causing us to repeat the same disastrous course of action over and over again. The more we did it, the more it seemed like the only possible course of action. And our only way to check whether we were succeeding or failing was a misguided construct that could not measure what we needed it to.
In real world terms, this is equivalent to driving the wrong way, using a map from the wrong country and repeating the same course over and over again, because rather than realizing that something must be wrong, we just look at the map and assume that if we repeat the course enough times, we will reach our destination. Even when we no longer seem to know what the destination is because we have become so used to going in circles that the circle has come to seem like our destination.
Like most mistakes that are based on a process that was wrong from the beginning, we can only begin to fix it by going back to the first broken train of logic, the first error in understanding. Only then will we be able to break the loop and begin anew.
Author: Chip Brogden
Machines are used to do repetitive or difficult work more quickly and efficiently, giving people more leisure and free time to pursue something besides work.
Once upon a time a group of people saw that a machine was needed to make something hard and difficult more easily done. They put their heads together and came up with a handy little machine called “Religion.”
The Religion Machine would make life easier for everyone they said. With the Machine, we don’t have to waste precious time relating to a real God Who loves us. The machine would take these complex processes and break them down into a simple three-step process that anyone could follow, reducing God to a faceless, personless ideology of good works. The result would be a mass-production of religious people who all spoke, thought, acted, and believed the same way.
Things went very well for a while. The Religion Machine worked just like it was supposed to. Churches were built, movements were started, crusades were held, programs were implemented. The inventors congratulated themselves on making Religion so efficient.
But you and I know that machines require a lot of maintenance. Parts have to be replaced. People wanted the Religion Machine to be bigger, better, and faster each year. Research and development expense was incurred, testing expenses, raw materials and warehousing. The Religion Machine had to have qualified people to work on it, qualified people to run it, qualified people to supervise the people who run it, and so on.
With all the improvements and modifications to the original design, the Religion Machine got so big that they had to house it someplace; now they had factory overhead: the property, the specialized plant equipment, the electrical and water requirements, more work crews, the support staff, the management, still more parts, upgrades, routine maintenance, all the hidden costs associated with keeping the Machine running.
No one knew just how big the Religion Machine would get. The inventors would have never dreamed that their little invention would one day turn into a big business, but it did. People picked up their families and moved to live and work close to the Machine. There’s money there, a chance to get ahead, a chance to settle down, a nice place to raise their kids. The Machine is a boost to the local economy because it produces jobs and goods. It’s in everyone’s interest to keep the Machine running along.
The people took great pride in their work. Take a drive with them to any part of the country and they would point to the impressive array of expensive church buildings, sprawling seminaries, and mega-church outreach centers. “We helped put that one together,” they’d say. “Thank God for the Religion Machine! How did we get along without it before?”
But there’s another side to the story. Oh, the work is simple enough. “Do what you’re told. Push this button, pull that lever, flip that switch.” Keep producing, keep the Machine running. But there’s a human toll being exacted on the people who are running the Machine. Just another cog in the wheel, they begin to stop thinking for themselves; they depend on the supervisors to tell them what to do. They go home tired day after day (their busiest day is Sunday). They always work overtime and their family life is non-existent. Even when they’re home they think about work. Production is the name of the game; keep the Machine running no matter what; produce more with less.
People always get injured on the job. It’s hot, dirty work. And noisy. The Machine makes so much noise that all the workers eventually develop acute hearing loss. The light is so dim that the employees have become very narrow-eyed and squinty, not able to withstand bright light. But somehow the security that comes from getting paid each week is more important than the side-effects. So the work goes on.
Besides, where else could they go? What else could they do? Financial commitments based on that paycheck have been made: houses mortgaged, cars financed, durable goods charged. If the Machine stops running, the paychecks stop coming, and it means bankruptcy for the workers and the community. So on and on it goes.
Every once in awhile a pay raise comes. Some live long enough to retire, but most of the workers die young from stress, are injured on the job and permanently disabled, or have nervous breakdowns. But no matter what, the Machine kept running.
Then the unexpected happened.
The Religion Machine used a synthetic, man-made oil for fuel to keep it running.
The oil ran out. The Machine ground to a halt.
The workers were in a panic. No more fuel? How would the Machine run? What about their job? What about their paycheck? Who would take care of their families?
“What about natural oil?” someone asked. No that wouldn’t work. They tried that years ago. Genuine oil would not run the Religion Machine.
The supervisors cursed and swore. How could they get the Machine running again?
There was only one thing left to do.
The doors were locked, and the gates closed tight. Armed security gathered the workers together and had them form a line leading up to the top of the combustion chamber, the fiery inferno which fueled the Religion Machine.
One by one they were cast into the fuel tank. The Machine sparked and began to hum again.
“More people! We need more people over here!” Like lambs being led to the slaughter, the deaf, dumb, and blind workers were pushed over the precipice to be used as fuel for the Religion Machine. Next it was their wives, husbands, children, parents, brothers, sisters, all thrown alive and screaming into the Machine. The houses and cars, the clothing and jewelry, the furniture and possessions were all confiscated and dumped into to the Religion Machine to add more fuel for it to run.
At last everything that could be used for fuel had been used. It would not be enough, and it had all been in vain. Once again the Religion Machine ground to a halt, and no one was around to start it up again. The supervisors went out into the community to try and recruit new workers, but after hearing what had happened to the last shift no one would take the job.
Today those supervisors are dead and gone. The Religion Machine was dismantled by the townspeople, the parts scattered to the four winds, never to be assembled again.
The problem with the Religion Machine was that it started out as a neat invention designed to help people, but it wound up hurting them. The Machine was made for man, but soon man lived for the Machine and became dependent upon it.
Once upon a time another group of people saw that a machine was needed to make something hard and difficult more easily done and give them more leisure time. They were even more talented, technologically advanced, and affluent than the first group of inventors. So they put their heads together and came up with a handy little machine called “American Christianity”…
Author: Ben Rast
Source: Contender Ministries – August 23, 2005
Though the doctrine of the Trinity is quite biblical, many Christians find themselves unable to adequately answer the attacks on this doctrine by other monotheistic religions such as Islam and Judaism, as well as polytheistic and henotheistic religions such as Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (henotheism is the belief in multiple gods, but the worship of only one). Few Christian doctrines are attacked so viciously as the doctrine of the Trinity. This aspect of the nature of God is awe-inspiring and wonderful. As Christians, we should be prepared to explain it to unbelievers and to defend it against attacks. As you will see, most arguments against the Trinity are weak and unable to stand up to biblical scrutiny or an appeal to logic. If you witness to a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or a Muslim, some of these arguments are likely to come up, and it’s vitally important that you are able to give an answer (1 Peter 3:15), demolish these arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5), and contend for the faith (Jude 3,4).
I have covered the biblical supports for the triune nature of God in a previous article, “A Comprehensive Biblical Defense of the Trinity.” If you have not read that article, I encourage you to do so before moving on to this one. In it, I provide biblical proof for the following points:
1. There is only one God
2. The Father is God
3. Jesus is God
4. The Holy Spirit is God
5. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons.
Before addressing the most common objections, it’s important to make sure that we are starting with an accurate definition of the Trinity. Many who oppose the Trinity do so with a faulty understanding of the definition. Simply put, the doctrine of the Trinity states that there is one true God, and within that God there are three co-equal and co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each Person of the Trinity is distinct from the other, but all three comprise one God. Various heresies arise when this definition is distorted, and I covered some of them in the previous article. Now that we start from a common definition, let’s turn ourselves to some common objections.
1. The word “Trinity” isn’t found anywhere in the Bible!
True enough, the word “Trinity” isn’t found in the Bible. A similar argument is used by theological modernists who assert that the term “homosexual” is a modern word that didn’t exist at the time the Bible was written, therefore the Bible can’t condemn homosexuality. I think most people will agree that the Bible STILL condemns homosexuality, even thought this particular English word wasn’t used in the Greek or Hebrew texts. Interestingly, the word “pornography” is similarly absent from Scripture, but we are still able to view the biblical teachings on sexual morality, coupled with Jesus’ teaching that a man who looks at a woman with lust commits adultery with her in his heart to recognize that pornography is sinful. The word “theocracy” is not found in the Bible, but the concept can be found there. The absence of a word does not preclude its teaching in Scripture.
Critics also argue that no single verse of Scripture clearly teaches the doctrine of the Trinity. While many single verses provide excellent evidence for the triune nature of God (see the previous article), it is true that this doctrine is not capsulated in a single verse or passage of Scripture. The Bible is not titled, “Christian Doctrine for Dummies.” It is sometimes necessary to look at the teachings of Scripture as a whole. When we allow ourselves to do that, we can see that the Trinity is quite Scriptural.
2. The Trinity doctrine is confusing, and God is not the author of confusion.
1 Corinthians 14:33 in the NIV states in part, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” In the spurious New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the verse similarly states, “For God is [a God], not of disorder, but of peace.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons will frequently cite this verse when arguing against the Trinity. After all, the concept of a triune God can be confusing. They argue that such a confusing doctrine must come from Satan, since God is not a God of confusion or disorder. Yet such an argument is illogical. That humans cannot fully understand the nature of God simply means that we are finite created beings who do not possess the mind of God. The Bible is clear that such confusions are to be expected:
– “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” – Isaiah 55:8-9
– “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” – Romans 11:33
– “Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12
Many aspects of God’s nature are hard, if not impossible, for the human mind to comprehend. For example, infinite concepts give me a headache. If I try to comprehend the concept of an infinite sum, I get a headache. If I try to really comprehend the eternal nature of God (without a beginning or an end), I get a headache. My finite human mind simply cannot comprehend eternity beyond the vague concept. I’m not alone in this either. While Jehovah’s Witnesses will use the confusion argument against the Trinity, they contradict themselves in other areas. In the Watchtower publication Reasoning from the Scriptures, they acknowledge this confusion after citing Psalm 90:2, referencing God’s eternal nature: “Is that reasonable? Our minds cannot fully comprehend it. But that is not a sound reason for rejecting it.” 
As is so often the case in arguments by cultists and heretics, they have divorced 1 Corinthians 14:33 from its context to use it in the fashion they desire. It is vital that we read Scripture in context to gain a proper understanding of it. Let’s put this verse back in its appropriate context, including verses 26-33, 39-40:
“What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace….Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.”
When placed in context, we can see that this passage is talking about how our worship should be orderly. Paul is trying to put the gifts of tongues and prophecy into their proper usage and eliminate the confusion that can result in a service when these gifts are used improperly. Just as there is no discord within God, so there should be no discord or confusion in our worship of God. Putting Scripture in context allows us to read it the way the authors (and the Ultimate Author) intended us to do so.
3. The Trinity is a pagan concept adopted by Christianity.
This is one of the most common arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity. I’ve heard it expressed often by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Usually, the person using this argument has no evidence to back up this assertion, but on rare occasions they do. Unfortunately, it is equally rare that a Christian is prepared to “demolish” this argument. It can be done easily by an appeal to facts and logic.
The argument typically is expressed that certain pagan cultures, such as the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, developed a Trinitarian belief in places far removed from the birthplace of Christianity and predating it by thousands of years. Therefore, it’s logical to conclude that these pagan doctrines were introduced into Christianity hundreds of years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, this isn’t exactly true.
The Babylonians and Assyrians did NOT develop a Trinitarian theological dogma. Rather, they believed in triads of gods who headed up a council of other gods. In other words, whereas the doctrine of the Trinity teaches that ONE GOD is comprised of three co-equal and co-eternal persons, the Babylonians and Assyrians believed that three separate gods formed a leadership over other gods. In this, their beliefs more closely resemble the polytheistic/henotheistic beliefs of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Mormon doctrine holds that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three separate gods in leadership over this world. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah God created Jesus – a lesser god, and that the Holy Spirit is simply Jehovah’s active force in this world. These beliefs are closer to the ancient pagan beliefs than is the Trinity doctrine, which is strictly monotheistic. Moreover, the separation of early Christian development from these pagan beliefs with respect to time and geography make it highly unlikely that the pagan beliefs played any role in the Church’s clarification of the Trinity doctrine as found in the Athanasian Creed. This creed reads, in part, “This is what the catholic faith teaches: we worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity. Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have one divinity, equal glory, and coeternal majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and the Holy Spirit is. The Father is uncreated, the Son is uncreated, and the Holy Spirit is uncreated. The Father is boundless, the Son is boundless, and the Holy Spirit is boundless. The Father is eternal, the Son is eternal, and the Holy Spirit is eternal. Nevertheless, there are not three eternal beings, but one eternal being. So there are not three uncreated beings, nor three boundless beings, but one uncreated being and one boundless being. Likewise, the Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. Yet there are not three omnipotent beings, but one omnipotent being. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. However, there are not three gods, but one God.” It should be noted that “catholic” in the early centuries was used to describe universal and orthodox Christianity long before the Roman Catholic Church existed as such. The creed continues in this manner. Athanasius did not fabricate this. Rather, he summarized the teaching of Scripture.
Association based on similarities is faulty logic. Pagans (and indeed practically all ancient cultures on earth) have a legend concerning a global flood. Does this negate the truthfulness of the global flood described in Genesis? Does this mean the Genesis account was “borrowed”? Of course not. The ubiquity of the flood story actually buttresses its truthfulness, even though other cultures don’t have all the details correct. Furthermore, some pagan cultures have a “messiah” legend that has similarities to the gospel. However, there are also differences in these stories. We can take joy in the fact that these legends haven’t the accuracy of the Bible as verified historically and archaeologically. Similarities don’t impart guilt. Therefore, similar pagan doctrines in triads of gods are not the same as the Trinitarian doctrine of Christianity, and it is baseless to assume that the Trinity was “borrowed” from paganism. It’s simply not true.
4. Jesus calls the Father, “the only true God,” therefore Jesus cannot be God.
This is an interesting argument often raised by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. This argument, as we will see, is self-defeating for them. This argument refers to Jesus’ words to the Father in John 17:3, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Critics argue that the Father cannot be the “only true God” if Jesus and the Holy Spirit can also claim to be God. The thinking is illogical. First, Jesus’ words do not exclude the Son and Holy Spirit from also being the only true God. They DO exclude Jesus and the Holy Spirit from being separate gods. In other words, if the Father is the only true God, then Jesus cannot also be a true God and the Holy Spirit cannot also be a true God (distinguishing them as separate gods rather than simply separate persons). If we understand the true nature of the Trinity, we can acknowledge that the Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal and co-eternal persons that comprise the one true God, and John 17:3 does not counter that. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons believe that Jesus is a separate god, and Mormons believe that the Holy Spirit is yet another god. In the Mormon New World Translation, John 1:1 states, “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god” (emphasis added). Mormonism’s founding prophet taught, “In the beginning, the head of the gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it.” Now if a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness wants to claim that this verse teaches that the Father alone is the only true God, then Jesus and the Holy Spirit must be false gods. If that is true, the teachings of the LDS prophets and the New World Translation must be wrong.
5. Jesus prayed to God in the garden, so Jesus can’t be God.
This statement has needlessly stumped some Christians, though not for long. It is a misleading generality to say, “Jesus prayed to God.” To be more precise, we should say that Jesus (The Son) prayed to The Father in the garden. While it is true that there is only one God, it is equally true that God exists as three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. During His earthly ministry and being subject to a mortal body, Jesus willingly endured the limitations of man. As such, it should come as no surprise that He communicated with The Father through prayer! This does nothing to diminish the deity of Jesus Christ or to contradict the monotheistic nature of God.
6. The Bible says that God is ONE!
This argument, which attempts to disprove the triune nature of God based on unity, is based largely on two verses:
Deuteronomy 6:4 in the New World Translation says, “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” We’ve gone into detail in other articles about the fact that “Jehovah” is not a word that appears in the Bible, but is rather a modification of Yahweh. One way to read the last phrase with some of the Hebrew intact is “Yahweh (Jehovah) our elohim is one Yahweh (Jehovah). The Hebrew words themselves are “Yahweh elohim echad Yahweh.” The NIV footnote for this verse lists a few possible ways to translate this verse based on its grammatical construct. Echad means “one” or “only”. Because of the construct, this verse could be translated as it is above, or as “The LORD our God is one LORD,” “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one,” or “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” I think the best of these translations can be assessed by observing the context of the passage. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses had just presented the Israelites with the Ten Commandments. One sin that marked these people was their habit of turning to idolatry (golden calf ring a bell?). As we read down in chapter 6, we see that this is still the focus and concern at this point. In verses 14-16 we read, “Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land. Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah.” This is a very clear exhortation for the Israelites to abandon their worship of multiple “gods.” Therefore, the most reasonable way of interpreting Deuteronomy 6:4 is “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” This establishes that only Yahweh is the true God. All other “gods” are false and must be rejected. Deuteronomy 6:4 does not exclude God from being triune in nature. Mark 12:29 is simply a recitation of Deuteronomy 6:4 with the intent of that verse intact – we have one and ONLY one God!
Yahweh is our elohim, Yahweh alone. In my previous article on the Trinity, I established Scripturally that not only is the Father Yahweh, but Jesus is also Yahweh. Similarly, the deity of the Holy Spirit reveals He is also Yahweh. In this article and the previous one, I have addressed some of the most common objections to the doctrine of the Trinity. The teaching of the Word of God is clear. There is one God. God exists in three co-equal and co-eternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these three are rightfully called God, yet each is distinct from the other. The absence of one convenient summary of this truth in Scripture does not negate its truthfulness, nor does it mean this truth is not found in Scripture. God has revealed this wonderful truth to us through His Word. The question is, are we listening?
1. Reasoning from the Scriptures (Brooklyn: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1989), p. 148.
2. Joseph Smith, Jr., The King Follett Discourse (Salt Lake City: Joseph Lyon & Associates, 1963), p. 9.
Sermon Text: Malachi 2:10-16
The book of Malachi is a very sobering one because it deals with subject matter that is very close to our hearts. Chapter 2 verses 10-16 raises the spectre of divorce, but not in the secular world, where we expect it, and where it is glibly accepted as part of life, but in the church, amongst the faithful.
Not only is Malachi raising a very thorny issue in the church, but tragically he is pointing out that it is a major phenomenon within the leadership — the priests of Israel. These were the men who were supposed to be leading by example, but were treating their marriages as a disposal throwaway commodity. They were divorcing their wives without any concern for the effect on them or their children or the people they were allegedly serving, or indeed how it offended God. Marriage was being trivialised, as it is today.
This is illustrated for us in the humorous story told by Chuck Swindoll in his book “Growing deep in the Christian life”. A lady wanted to marry four different men in her lifetime. She saw each one would help her with four things she needed most. First she wanted to marry a banker. Second a movie star and then a clergyman and finally a funeral director.
When asked why she thought this was necessary she answered, “One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go.”
As humorous as that is we can all bear testimony to the devastation of divorce in our families, as well as the enormous upheaval it has caused. Back in chapter one it began with the burden. Malachi was deeply troubled by what he saw happening amongst the priests and the people and their incredible indifference towards spiritual matters. The priests and the people had grown cold in their love of and devotion to God and as a direct result, this spiritual demise had a trickle down effect. First it was their love (attitude towards) of God. This was illustrated in their polluted offerings. Then it was their love of God’s word in the beginning of chapter 2. This in turn affects their love for each other and in particular their love for their wives.
Just recently I read an article relating to research done in churches in the USA. George Barna’s research discovered the depth of the acceptance of divorce in the Christian church when he came up with the amazing fact that the divorce rate in so called Christian churches in America was fractionally higher than the national average of 1 in 2.
Interestingly the same article carried a most encouraging statistic related by George Gallop, another Christian statistician that couples who pray together four times or more a week, have a divorce rate of 1 in 1052. In terms of the secular world this is a negligible result, but it clearly illustrates the impact of a right relationship with God on our marriages.
Sadly due to this lack of relationship many marriages are being torn apart by selfishness, self-centredness, egos run amuck, lack of responsibility and the notion that obedience to our wedding vows are only optional, instead of binding, except in the most dire of circumstances. Even then God ultimately is seeking healing of the relationship both to Him and each other.
These seven verses can be broken up into three key thoughts as to why God hates divorce. By the way, it is not often that God uses the word hate. It connotes a very strong dislike for divorce because:
1. Divorce is treachery, verses 10, 11, 14-16.
2. Divorce is a travesty verses 11-12 and
3. Divorce is a trauma.
1. Five times God uses the word treachery or similar. The Hebrew word is bagad and means to act covertly, fraudulently, secretly, deceptively, to cheat or betray to afflict to spoil or to offend. So you can see it is a very strong term.
Recently I was lying in bed with my wife Carolyn and we were chatting about our relationship. I can honestly say that I love my wife more today than ever, because Christian love is a dynamic. As I was chatting I was taken by the thought that Carolyn knew more about me than anyone else, except God of course. As we have grown in our love for each other it has been like a flower coming into full bloom.
Then as we continued our discussion I said to Carolyn that to open up to someone like her was a joy, but at the same time I became very aware that to do so meant making oneself incredibly vulnerable. You see I come from a family that has experienced enormous upheaval. Some 35 years ago my mum and dad split up thus laying down a subliminal pattern that was to have incredible consequences. Mum was married 3 times, then my eldest sister and younger sister married twice.
Once we deal treacherously with our wives/ husbands it has a far higher cost than we can even begin to imagine. To divorce is to profane the sanctity of the marriage institution. The word profane in the original Hebrew further illustrates just how deeply God feels when two Christians, who are described as one flesh in Genesis 2:24 are divorced. The Hebrew word is chalal, which means to defile, pollute, and prostitute to make common or to break. Ultimately it means a desecration of something which is holy, which is set apart for God’s glory. That is what marriage means to God.
2. However, the treachery of Israel deepens into travesty in verses 11-12 when they add to the sin of divorce the sin of intermarriage to pagan women, who worship what seems to be anything but the true and living God. God describes it as an abomination which has the primary meaning of doing something which is morally disgusting. This takes on incredible significance when Malachi declares that the marriage institution is something that was not only created by God, but also loved by God, verse 11. When divorce happens in the Christian church it can often be traced back to one or the other drifting from their spiritual moorings. Speaking to a pastor recently I asked him how many of the couples he councils for marriage problems had stopped reading their Bibles and praying? He estimated that 90-95% fitted that category. The depth of that spiritual drift can be clearly seen when the priests and the people saw nothing wrong with divorce and even worse nothing wrong with being unequally yoked. We have become so complacent in our reverence for God’s wonderful gift of marriage. It’s a bit like the unhappy spouse who said to the marriage counsellor:
I was looking for an ideal
Then it became an ordeal
Now I want a new deal”
Unfortunately for far too many Christians this new deal involves marrying non-Christians. It involves being unequally yoked. The New Testament passage on this is 2 Cor. 6:11-18. In the context of this passage the unequal yoke picture not only includes marriage, but business, wrong friendships, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, syncretistic ecumenism etc.
Note however, the stark contrasts that Paul draws on. Firstly Paul draws from Deut 22:10 that an ox and a donkey should not plow together. Why? Because they differ in shape, size and mentality. Thus Paul strings 4 contrasts together to bring home to us the danger and futility of being unequally yoked. What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? One is motivated and lives by the power of God, whilst the other is motivated by the world, the flesh and the devil.
What communion has light with darkness? They are opposites just as righteousness and lawlessness are. Those unsaved prefer darkness to light. John 3:19, And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
And what accord has Christ with Belial? Answer — none. Satan wants to usurp the authority of God in your life and mine. Often the way he does it is to get you unequally yoked in marriage, business or friendships.
The church that my wife and family and I are in membership is a good church and certainly committed to the Word of God. However, not long after we arrived we met a lady and her daughter. This lady was divorced, but had recently become a Christian. Not long after she met a man who was not a Christian. Soon she was very much involved with him. He apparently made some profession of faith. Soon after they were married. Problems arose when this man began to seek God for healing for a long-term ailment that he had had, but became somewhat upset when it didn’t happen on cue. He then sought healing in all sorts of inappropriate non-Christian ways and places.
Anger and frustration began to surface in this man’s life and he stopped going to church. It became apparent that his alleged commitment to Christ was not genuine. His wife continued to attend church intermittently, until she stopped altogether. That same scenario repeats itself again and again in churches all over the nation.
This so often happens when the Lord’s people doubt the love of God as Israel did in chapter 4. Once we begin to doubt the Lord it opens the way for all sorts of temptations from the devil.
What accord has a believer with an unbeliever? Once again motivation is important, but also desires come into it as well. If as a believer you are walking with God then your desire will be to please God in all that you do, say and think. For the unbeliever the opposite is true.
What agreement does the temple of God have with idols? The classic illustration of this is Solomon in 1 Kings 11. Verses 1-3 says But King Solomon loved many foreign women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites, from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. For surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods. Solomon clung to these in love’.
Then in verse 4 we read the telling results of Solomon’s disobedience. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not loyal to the Lord, his God, as was the heart of his father David.
Note the consequences didn’t reveal themselves immediately. This has the effect of us thinking that what we have done is acceptable before God or indeed that we have managed to get off scot-free. Also note that when we compromise the Word of God we become the devil’s willing agents. Who would have thought this to be true of King Solomon? — but it was.
Verse 6, Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not fully follow the Lord, as did his father David.
3. Thirdly we see the awful trauma of divorce in verses 13-16. The action of the priests wrongly, sinfully divorcing their wives rendered their worship unacceptable. Divorce not only separates us from our wives, but it separates us from God and our ability to effectively worship God. However, these priests saw no problem with divorcing their wives, but also saw no problem with the impact it had on their relationship with God.
There is a word of warning for those of us, who are leaders and how we conduct ourselves in our marriages and families. Leaders need to recognise that their congregation is a mirror image of their leadership. If leadership is weak, lacking in spiritual integrity, that is exactly what will be produced in your church. If you have leadership that models godliness, commitment to the Word of God, prayer, evangelism etc it will be clearly reflected in your church.
The priests of Israel were modelling totally unbiblical behaviour in divorcing their innocent wives. Tragically the people picked up their trivial lax attitude and ran with it. The men were betraying the wife of their youth. Betraying the love, commitment and companionship of their wives.
Obviously this raises the whole trauma of divorce and Malachi, and ultimately God is using key words to bring home to any person the enormous cost of divorce. Some years ago I read an article by Jerry B Jenkins in Moody Monthly magazine on the subjects of fidelity and divorce. One of the key points he raised was the issue of the cost of divorce to the individuals involved. One of the clear realities that came through to me was that most men or women do not count the cost.
Jenkins challenged men in particular to count the cost of infidelity and divorce. One of the costs was loss of companionship. Someone we have involved in and them in us over a number of years. Companionship speaks of intimacy.
Billy Rose told a story about a man who, after twenty years of marriage, decided to divorce his wife. In preparing for the financial settlement, he began to rummage through his old cheque butts. As he glanced through them, one after another stirred up memories of a long forgotten past. The cheque to the hotel where he and his wife had spent their honeymoon; the cheque for their first car, the cheque for the hospital bill for their first daughter’s birth, the cheque for the $2000 down payment on their first home.
As he continued looking, it all got a bit much for him, so he pushed all the paperwork aside and reached for the phone and rang his wife. He told her that they had invested too much in each other just to throw it all away. So he asked her if they could start afresh. Which they did, I’m assuming.
This man inadvertently began to count the cost of dissolving his marriage, and losing not only his wife but faithful companion. Jenkin’s article went on to list a number of other key areas of loss. For example divorce often meant loss of family, job, friends, church family and fellowship, finances, home, stability, health etc.
Verse 15 then brings up another vital concern of the Lord. He wants Christian parents to bring up godly offspring. Divorce can have a devastating impact on our children. Just recently a good friend of mine related to me the sad story of the breakdown of his son’s marriage. It has been a particularly acrimonious split on the wife’s behalf, but his son has wanted to reconcile.
As I spoke to him he related how the grandchildren had recently visited and when it came time to leave they hugged him and didn’t want to let go. It was clear they were very unhappy and feeling very sad and insecure.
One day my middle daughter Micah came home from school and asked me just out of the blue, “Dad are you and Mum going to be divorced?” I responded by saying ‘no’ and queried why she had asked me. She related that one of her friends at school had experienced her mum and dad break-up. It clearly concerned Micah.
Upon further discussion with my friend he went on to relate how his son’s two eldest children had gone off the rails because the familiar secure moorings of family and marriage had been ruptured and they were like a rudder-less boat out on a vast ocean.
Then In verse 16 the trauma of divorce is pictured for us in the words, For the Lord God of Israel says, that He hates divorce. Why? For it covers one’s garment with violence. Violence once again is a strong word. The Hebrew word is chamac, meaning oppression, wickedness, wrong, cruelty, false injustice, damage.
When I made this observation I inserted a list of things that experience violence as a result of divorce. God took me back first of all to Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Then we read in Matt. 19:5, 6 the words of Jesus, “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate.”
To separate two people that have become one flesh requires a severing, a cutting apart. Some time ago I remember coming across two pieces of pine joined together with liquid nails. I vaguely remember trying to separate them, however, it proved tougher than I had expected. Eventually I succeeded but I didn’t get them apart without damaging both pieces, such was the effect and quality of the glue. What God joins together takes some getting apart, but the tools of neglect, selfishness, greed, jealousy, competition, cruelty, abuse and arrogance, can do the job, but create enormous violence.
Other forms of violence are the betrayal of trust in a marriage, and in a family. This often goes hand in hand with deep emotional and physical trauma. When my eldest brother’s first marriage came to grief, he was deeply emotionally affected, and for weeks suffered physically dropping over a stone, oops, 6 kilos in weight.
It goes without saying that divorce is enacting a huge violence on the church with its associated impact on the church testimony. Divorce also enacts a huge violence on society. Family trees have become so distorted, and serve as a picture of the lives affected by divorce.
So God sounds the warning bell to Israel in verse 16. So take heed to your spirit…. He is sounding the warning bell to the church today, “take heed.” We are facing the consequences of diluting our biblical stance on divorce. Like Israel we are glibly accepting what God calls an abomination. Let’s not devalue what God calls a “holy institution”.
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival