Trump won. Now what?

I woke up this morning at 4:30 with a sinus headache. After medicating, I made the mistake of checking my phone notifications, so I’m now writing a blog at the earliest time of day ever, ever.

It seems Donald Trump won the election. That surprised me.

I'm just as confused as anybody right now.
I’m just as confused as anybody right now.

But you know what didn’t surprise me? Liberty definitely didn’t win. Instead, our president-elect has campaigned against the First, Fourth, Eighth and 14th Amendments. I honestly don’t know how anyone can expect him to keep a campaign promise when he can’t even keep a promise to a wife.

However, I’m going to make good on my word when Trump is officially installed as POTUS: Honor the emperor (which, ironically enough, some have actually called him that). The main question is how we move forward from this, particularly when he didn’t exactly win a landslide and the age demographics skewed heavily toward older people voting for Trump. We’re currently just as divided as before.

That said, here are some basic pointers for Trump supporters, particularly Christian Trump supporters, in the wake of the election.

  1. Don’t gloat. – Seriously. Don’t do it. You’ll only make things worse.
  2. Be consistent. – The fact that Republicans have a majority in all of the federal government shouldn’t mean that you buy whole hog into everything they do.
  3. Don’t expect the government to improve your life or spread the Gospel. – I hope I don’t have to elaborate further.

I still feel the need to elaborate on the third point. Governments don’t improve lives, pretty much ever. I fully expect that after Trump’s first term, abortion will still be legal, we’ll still be in perpetual, illegal, undeclared warfare; and that our civil liberties will be even worse off than they are now, mainly because the Religious Right has bought into the notion that all is well as long as the GOP is in charge. This should not be. If we were in a post-Christian culture literally yesterday, that didn’t change overnight.

Honestly, I hope that Trump implements policies that benefit the entirety of our populace. I’ll support him when he does, but I’ll also – with gentleness and respect – strongly oppose him and speak up against bad policies. I challenge and invite you to do the same.

Regardless of the election results, honor the emperor

Tomorrow, the United States of America will finally have an election in what has to have been the nastiest, most vilifying campaign ever.

Come January, we’ll likely install as our chief executive a criminally dishonest woman who basically leads the death cult known as the pro-abortion movement, would throw us into a pointless war with Russia and helped her husband turn the White House into a brothel.

hillary-clinton-laughing

Or we’ll swear in an unrepentant serial adulterer who can’t keep a promise to a wife, a man who brags about sexual assault, who says he’d force the military to commit war crimes, makes fun of disabled people, might be pro-life or pro-choice (literally depending on what hour it is), and would engage in economic protectionism that would result in almost everything costing more. Whoever is elected is sure to implement liberty destroying authoritarian policies that will likely leave the United States in a worse place than before.

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners

So what should Christians do about it?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

But Hillary murders babies, and Trump is practically Hitler.

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17

Over and over again, the Bible tells us to basically not freak out over earthly governments. People are depraved. Governments are comprised of people. Therefore, governments will be corrupt. At the same time, God uses governments to render punishment for evil in the world, to promote good and to accomplish his own purposes. Keep in mind that that these biblical passages were written while nearly every Christian was under the subjugation of the Roman empire, and Rome wasn’t always so nice to the church.

They had a bad time.
They had a bad time.

That doesn’t mean that biblical writers never have criticisms of those in authorities. Jesus called the Pharisees snakes and sons of the devil. Paul called the Pharisees a bunch of “whitewashed walls.” Depending on your eschatology, John may have called Nero “the Great Beast.” So, yes, there’s a time for blunt truth.

At the same time, 1 Peter 3 tells us to make our defense of the Gospel “with gentleness and respect,” and Colossians 4 says our words should “always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” 2 Timothy 2 commands us to not be quarrelsome, and 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us not to be easily alarmed. I have absolutely failed at living up to those commands.

But commands with no root are ultimately self-help with a little Jesus added. The foundation of all these is the Gospel itself. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is adamant about his rights (which, yes, we have as Christians) but that giving up those rights in order to save some to the Gospel is far more important. Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen when necessary and used his Jewish heritage as an example, but his focus wasn’t to Make Jerusalem Great Again or to change the empire through political means. Check out how respectful he was in Acts 26. He knew that the only meaningful change in the world is when hearts are changed via the Gospel. When we call out national sin or governmental corruption, we should do so with their salvific interests in mind. It’s not so much about us being awesome and them being wrong and fixing it but about seeking their repentance and ultimate faith in God.

Before Jesus left the earth, he told his disciples that all authority had been given to him. I don’t know about your exegetical methods, but I’m fairly sure that “all” there means “all.” As in, Jesus is sovereign over this election. Jesus is sovereign over whether or not you’ll make it to the polls safely tomorrow. Jesus is sovereign over those some who would be saved that Paul was talking about. Jesus is so sovereign that he shuts up those who criticize him and that every knee will bow at the simple mention of his name.

It doesn’t stop there, however, because when God adopted us into his family, we became heirs with Jesus, so the universe is already ours through Christ anyway. Why would we freak out over four piddly years worth of rule in a temporary nation, when our citizenship isn’t ultimately of this world in the first place?

Sure, vote tomorrow based on your conscience. Someone will win, and I have strong negative feelings about both likely candidates, but don’t put your faith in the office of the presidency or in power of the United States of America or in the very existence of the United States of America. Put your faith in Jesus, because he’s in control of the whole thing anyway.

Stop freaking out about how America does Christmas

Just like all the decorations, we couldn’t even get to Thanksgiving before Christians started losing it over how American companies are treating Christmas.

Like clockwork, professional douche rocket Joshua Feuerstein needed to be angry about something, so he naturally went to Starbucks and “pranked” (Read: told them his name was something stupid. Don’t ever do that to food service employees.) them into writing “Merry Christmas” on his coffee cup.

Have a watch, if you must.

Other than the fact that he’s a Oneness heretic (see here), Feuerstein is only hurting the Christian cause when he posts these things. Instead of encouraging loving our neighbor as ourselves, we have to get pissed off because an overpriced coffee shop won’t specifically mention our holiday.

Except they totally do.

XmasBlend
Oops.

On top of that, if they’re not celebrating Jesus, they’re not actually celebrating Christmas in the first place, so why do you care if they greet you with that?

All things done without faith are sin, so even if they do wish us a happy Christmas or Easter or whatever, they’re actually still sinning because they’re not doing that to the glory of God (It’s interesting what happens when you take the Bible seriously.). Maybe we should be more interested in the state of their souls and share the news about Jesus with them instead of whether they give some vacuous lip service. Why do you even give half a shit if someone “Keeps the Christ in Christmas” if they’re going straight to hell anyway (Side note: If you care more that I used a certain word than the fact that it’s true, we have an even bigger problem.)?

While we’re at it and being super blunt, if you’re more concerned with whether someone gives props to your holiday than if they’re cool with God, how am I to know that you’re not going straight to hell? Jesus told us to go make disciples and that people would know us by our love for one another and the world. In a culture that continually validates these types of PR stunts, I’m tempted to think that American Christianity is leaving out the whole Jesus part of Christianity.

Seriously, if we need a coffee chain or a government or a school board or a sports team or a fast food employee with a neck beard to be our ambassadors for Christ and to validate our beliefs, we need to reevaluate our relationship with God.

So, what do we do instead?

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” – Hebrews 12:14-15

We’ve already been defiled by becoming culturally bitter and being intentionally pissed off at everything, but that’s what grace is for. It’s on us (while relying on God) to be peace to the world.

Also, look at the enormity of verse 15.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.

This implies that your life should be so peaceful and holy and soaked with grace that every action should be directed toward pointing people to the cross. Feuerstein points people to himself; that’s exactly what makes him such an asshole. He doesn’t understand that the war isn’t with flesh and blood and political stances.

feuerstein-pastor-guns
He also looks like Kevin James and Fred Durst made a baby together.

I feel like I’m turning this into a DirecTV commercial, but don’t be like this guy. Don’t share his videos. He’s an antichrist and a wolf in sheep’s clothing who doesn’t know the grace of God.

Turn this guy’s Internet popularity on its head by proclaiming the real Gospel about how God sent Jesus to atone for our idiocy.

Dear North Greenville University, it’s time to come clean

Note: I’ve been approached by several people regarding the legality and liability surrounding the situation. I get that. There are so many regulations that it’s pretty tough to keep track of them, particularly when you approach any kind of moral decision. I believe, however, that this has gone far beyond legality and is a Gospel issue at its heart. If NGU had simply said, “Epting is gone,” and then this came out, I honestly wouldn’t care. Instead, as far as I can tell, they fabricated a story to make themselves look better. I still have all the respect in the world for my old professors and friends at NGU, and I realize that there are multiple stances and sides to the story. This is just my take on what has come out so far.

Note 2: I’ve been approached with details alleging that Epting actually didn’t have an affair with the woman in the below video, and that this is actually the result of sexual harassment and led to a lawsuit. In the interest of not jumbling my entire blog, I’ve left the original text intact, so keep in mind that while we may be looking at a victim of sin as opposed to two people in mutual sin, the dishonesty involved at the institutional level is still the same. The school could still have been forthright with what actually happened while protecting the identity of the victim.

Dear North Greenville University,

Please come clean.

This isn’t the first time that’s needed to happen.

I graduated from NGU in 2009, was the sports editor for the Skyliner for three years and pissed off a lot of people. I’ve come clean with many. I know I get a little too edgy sometimes.

But this is beyond a personality flaw. You lied to us for months.

You told us Dr. Jimmy Epting was taking a sabbatical for the Spring 2015 semester and retiring due to health issues. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

And instead of actually owning up to a cover up, we were treated to a sidestepping press release:

North Greenville University’s leaders are expected to lead Christ-centered lives and abide by all campus policies and procedures. The administration and faculty on campus today reflect our legal, moral and ethical expectations. We take our responsibilities as leaders of a Christian institution seriously and hold each member of our community to the highest of standards.  

As an institution, our promise is to combine an academic environment with a Christ-like lifestyle and provide students with opportunities for spiritual growth, academic training and Christian service. 

We will continue to focus our efforts on celebrating the start of the academic year with our students and ask that we be allowed to focus on the traditions of our campus and our bright future as a community.

There’s still no acknowledgement of the institutional dishonesty that’s gone on for at least eight months now. There’s no acknowledgement of the black eye you just gave the church.

That. Is. Garbage.

But here’s the good news. Jesus died for that.

Jesus died for your lies. Jesus died for Dr. Epting’s adultery. Jesus died for your taking his name in vain when you say that “Christ makes the difference” while living like a clean perception and donors actually make the difference.

ngu2_header
It makes for a sweet flannelgraph though.

It would have sucked for your PR to admit that your president had an extramarital affair and got the boot, but what sucks more is that you covered it up for nearly a year and told everyone that Dr. Jimmy, fried chicken and grits and hugs and all, was sick. What you didn’t tell us was that this was a spiritual sickness.

Understand, I’m not trying to damn you all to hell on the spot. I deserve that just as much as you. It’s actually not even about you.

It’s about the Gospel.

You claim to represent the God of the Universe, the one who chose to save us before the foundation of said Universe because he knew we were too jacked up to do it ourselves.

This means that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

This also means that if you confess and repent, God is faithful and will forgive you, since this is covered by Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.

Even further, that would mean God would be using this to conform you to the image of Jesus. Those whom God predestined to be conformed to Jesus, he also called and justified and glorified.

It keeps getting better, because I know that you’re terrified of looking like crappy Christians, particularly in the rigidity so many associate with Southern Baptist Convention. That whole Good News thing you talk about in chapel twice a week has that covered.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For your own sake, for the sake of your students, for the sake of your alumni and (most importantly) for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Come clean with this. If you don’t, this will haunt you and fracture your trust with most everybody forever.

But if you do, sure, you might lose some donors, but they aren’t the ones who justify you or intercede at the right hand of God for you, nor can they separate you from the love of God. All they do is give you money, and you can’t serve two masters.

God has your back. Please just come clean.

The Indiana “religious freedom” law is bad, but not for the reason you think

Everyone is flipping out today over the new religious freedom act signed into law in Indiana by Governor Mike Pence. Literally everyone of those people is missing the point. Everyone.

Everyone.

Truly, the left’s panning of this law is both comical and hypocritical. For the people who claim to be all about tolerance, they’re advocating forcing people to do things against their religious beliefs. The obvious cause of this is things like Christian bakers not wanting to endorse a gay marriage, Christian lodge owners being screwed by the government for turning down a gay wedding ceremony, or any combination of the florists, bridal shops, photographers, or T-shirt makers who have been legally boned for not wanting to celebrate homosexuality.

What the left is calling the “victims” in these case is missing is Freedom of Association and Freedom of Religion, also known in the United States as the First Amendment. If I sell a guitar on Craigslist, I can sell it to whoever I want. If a potential buyer says they’ll just destroy the guitar or kill someone with it or use it in an explicitly Satanic band and I decide that makes me uncomfortable, I can refuse to sell him my goods and/or services. That’s okay; he can go elsewhere.

The same applies with a cake. As a Christian who has actually read the Bible, I believe it would be wrong for me to endorse a gay marriage by supplying much of anything for the celebration. I would not sell them the cake, because it would violate my convictions. Likewise, a gay baker shouldn’t be forced to sell a cake to anyone, just like anybody can refuse service to anyone for any reason.

Immediately, people will scream how it’s not fair. Get over yourself and let the free market sort out your offense. If it’s truly an egregious offense, people will care and boycott a business. If not, then whatever. Go somewhere else or learn how to make it yourself.

swanson

Here’s an example that literally no one can say is wrong. A vegan cake shop would never, ever bake a cake for someone with bacon on it, no matter how hard they protested. Why? Because they’re vegan. And while they’re missing out on the best food on earth, that’s their right as a business owner. Bacon makes him uncomfortable, so he declines the business. End of story.

The basic premise of this bill is that you need to stop using the government to regulate others’ actions when you don’t get your way. If someone declines you service, nut up and move on. Don’t pitch a tantrum like a toddler.

Stop it.

 

But after 450 words, I digress. This new law is still garbage for one reason. I’ll copy and paste from Indiana’s own summary:

“Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation.”

For something touted so much by conservatives, this actually increases government. They can still tell you what to do whenever they feel like it.

So we’re no better off.

What is XXX Church thinking?

I got an email last night from XXX Church, the Christian-run website that helps people battling porn addiction. I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten an email more 1) relying on click bait or 2) as big of a low blow as this one. Here’s the subject.

Subject

 

At first glance with the first couple of sentences, it looks like XXX Church founder Craig Gross is about to drop a major bombshell about Mark Driscoll and the dissolution of Mars Hill Church. Junk’s about to get real. Of course, as a Driscoll fan who was fairly torn up about the whole Mars Hill situation, I had to open it.

Body 1

Does this not seem like a gossipy bait and switch to anyone? “Hey, guys. Driscoll is awesome and so was the Resurgence, but HOLY CRAP did they blow it. Buy my stuff.” Then I got another email.

Body 2

Note: Gross didn’t apologize for the dickishness of his email and tactics; he apologized in case we were caught off guard. The other guy involved in this posted an apology, whether it’s genuine or not may or may not be debatable, but at least he made one. Gross, on the other hand, has only attempted to throw people under the bus.

XXX Church and X3 Watch have done some great things, but Gross needs to come clean and admit that he screwed up. I’m not about to call for a boycott or for Gross to step down or anything like that, but, boy, does this leave a craptastic taste in my mouth.

Marriage is not a right

There’s this little debate going on about marriage in South Carolina today. Something about marriage rights.

I recently got married.

Really, I did.

I’m by no means an expert on this whole marriage thing, but I can tell you one thing: I didn’t have the right to get married.

This will sound asinine to many. Of course, I had the right to marry whoever I wanted. This is America. But that’s not how marriage works.

Marriage is not a right. Rights belong to individuals; marriage by definition must involve two people.

When I proposed to my now wife in April, she could have turned me down. When we asked our preacher if he would do the counseling and ceremony, he could have told us to take a hike or refused on grounds that we weren’t good for each other (That should happen more often.). The venues we used for said celebration could have been booked or not felt like having wedding related things that day or time. We could also have never been able to get to the county offices to get a license, and if we did, the judge could still have refused for various reasons.

Rights are also inalienable, regardless of what a government says. No one can rightly force you to adhere to a religion you don’t believe, nor can they rightly go through all your crap without cause. Rights aren’t dependent on what year it is or on getting a piece of paper from someone whose salary is derived from the forced redistribution of the citizenry’s incomes.

However, there are cases when one can have a marriage rightfully terminated, namely in the case of divorce over unrepentant adultery.

My wife didn’t have to assent to my marriage request. I couldn’t legally stop her if she left. I have no right to be married. If anything, I gave up rights in order to be married, because my marriage is ultimately not about me.

Let the record show that even as a theologically conservative Christian, I’ve gone this entire blog without bringing up biblical passages addressing the complimentarian nature of marriage, which would have made this blog easier.

Nevertheless, the point stands that marriage is not a right for anyone. It can rightfully be refused to you, and your feelings on a subject or biological rumblings don’t get to define what it is.

I’d like to know your reactions to this, but keep it civil.