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.

A brief thought experiment for Donald Trump supporters

At this point in the election cycle, I’m operating under the assumption that Donald Trump will end up as President of the United States. I’ve made my resistance to that pretty well known on other outlets (and probably this one, but I’m too lazy to check), but I’d like to offer a thought experiment for Trump supporters, to see if they’ll reason with me.

I give it a solid "maybe."
I give it a solid “maybe.”

The vast majority of Trump supporters I’ve come across are quick to make the claim that, “America is the greatest country in the world.” Other than the fact that you can’t actually prove such a statement, that’s fine to have your opinion.

However, Trump’s entire campaign slogan is, “Make America great again.”

Visual proof.
Visual proof.

According to Trump, America is not currently great at all, so how can one claim that America is the greatest in the world when there currently isn’t any greatness? That would, by default, mean that another country is the greatest, assuming there’s enough greatness to go around or that a country not called the United States is allowed to be great.

I believe that illustrates the cognitive dissonance pretty well. Correct me if I’m wrong.

No, I’m not moving from Rand Paul to Ted Cruz

Rand Paul’s announcement regarding his freshly dead presidential bid officially killed any shred of liberty within the major two parties. Many have assumed and encouraged me to jump ship to Ted Cruz. While he’s more stomach-able than the likes of Marco Rubio, Donald Trump or Ben Carson, that will not happen.

Yes, Cruz is better than all three, but here are just some reasons I can’t justify a vote for Cruz, other than that he looks like Kevin Malone from The Office.

It can't be unseen.
It can’t be unseen.

Military – I don’t care if it was a joke, anyone who jests about bombing any area so much that the sand will glow in the dark has no business command our nation’s armed forces. We’ve spent over a decade building failed nations, meddling in affairs we don’t understand and intervening in civil wars.

And what do we have to show for it?

Benghazi’s attacks were the result of arms running to ISIS, and the reason that power vacuum happened was because we illegally intervened to remove Muammar Gaddafi. ISIS came to power partially because of the power vacuum in Iraq and partially because we armed the “Syrian rebels” (I’ll give Cruz for voting against arming the rebels, but his rhetoric doesn’t lend itself to explaining the root cause of the problem). Both of those were specifically United States actions.

So now, we’re supposed to throw more of our soldiers into the Middle East as cannon fodder because we can’t figure out not to get in the middle of civil unrest? I don’t think so. He hasn’t even mentioned anything regarding the fact that constitutionally, only the Congress can declare a war, which hasn’t happened since World War II.

On top of that, Cruz and every other Republican wants to increase military spend when we’re already trillions in the hole and we have a bigger military than the next 10 countries combined and we have 662 foreign military bases in 38 countries. We already can’t nationally pay our bills; it’s irresponsible to increase the biggest part of our budget when it’s already bigger than we need for it to do its real job – national defense.

#SorryNotSorry

Fourth Amendment – Yes, Cruz kinda came out against the PATRIOT Act, as he should have, and he called for NSA reform.

What he didn’t tell you at first was that when he voted for the USA Freedom Act, it actually gave the NSA more power to collect your phone records.

Now, to Cruz’s credit, he at least opposes the indefinite detention clause in the National Defense Authorization Act, but that’s what overreaching surveillance gets you. If you want to send me to war, get a congressional declaration; if you want to search me in any way, get a warrant.

Auditing the Fed – Cruz proved himself unreliable by missing the Audit the Fed vote – which he had previously said he supported – claiming he had a campaign event in New Hampshire scheduled at the same time as the vote. Of course, his wife works for Goldman Sachs, so we couldn’t have that, right?

War on Drugs/Criminal Justice Reform – Cruz currently says marijuana is a state issue, but there’s no telling what he’ll say tomorrow. At the same time, he’s on record for saying the War on Drugs, which has led to Merica having the largest prison population in the world, is the “law of the land” and just needs happen. He also seems to be cool with the militarization of police and won’t really address the whole police brutality thing. That’s kind of become a big deal lately.

Problematic theology – Look, I get that we’re kinda international buddies with Israel, but they’re far from perfect and do some jacked up things sometimes. That didn’t stop Cruz from extolling Israel’s virtues at a conference that was supposed to be aiding Iraqi Christians in their plight with ISIS, as he started ripping on Hamas because we Americans LOVE ripping Bible verses out of context. Cruz has even said that placing an embassy in Cuba as part of our re-engagement with our neighbors to the south was a “slap in the face to Israel,” because we won’t move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I mean, at least we didn’t have a trade embargo with Israel for over half a century.

Sorry, Cuba.
Sorry, Cuba.

In short, I don’t trust Ted Cruz to support the entire Bill of Rights, nor do I trust that he won’t get us entangled in yet another asinine, pointless armed conflict, nor do I trust how he views the role of government in economics or its role in his theology.

Am I off base here? Let me know in the comments.

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.

Replace the Confederate flag in SC with real heritage and culture

It’s official. South Carolina is removing the Confederate Battle Flag from the State House grounds.

I know it’s been pretty contentious, but I think I found an alternative symbol of even deeper Southern heritage and culture.

Union Jack

 

It’s the only thing that makes sense. The original 1606 Union Jack, still in use at the the time of the Revolutionary War, would be perfect if we’re using the same logic.

“What’s the logic?” you ask. It’s painstaking, I know, but I figured the original colonizers, from whom we got our language, and who also lost a war to control this land and who also owned slaves, just like the Confederate States of America, should be honored. After all, not even half of Americans even supported the Revolution in the first place.

Surely, this would be a better move than to keep a flag up that was only put there out of resistance to the Civil Rights movement. We’d hate to make black people think we don’t like them.

AlexStephens
“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

Join me in changing your profile pictures to support our real heritage.

MLB showcases how absurd the “Support the Troops Regardless” movement has gotten

I love baseball. I love our guys in the military. Believe it or not, I like America on most days. I just don’t like when the latter two invade the former.

Sadly, Major League Baseball has pandered to the Support the Troops All the Time for Every Single Thing They Do Because They’re Obviously Superhuman crowd for several years, most notably with their goofy Stars and Stripes merchandise that’s worn on Memorial Day, Independence Day and 9/11. This year, they tipped us off to how insane the whole thing has gotten.

Derp MLB

“But what’s the problem?” You may ask. Well, there’s one big one.

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“Sorry.”

There are actually two countries represented by teams in Major League Baseball. While a lot of people think Canada is the 51st state, they’re actually their own nation.

Additionally, over 25 percent of MLB players and nearly half of minor league players were born somewhere not called the United States. Is it not strange to arbitrarily force someone from, say, Nicaragua, Colombia or Panama to celebrate the U.S. military when it’s done so much to hurt the citizens of those countries for over 100 years? Let’s also not forget that we took a third of Mexico’s land a long time ago, and our current drug policy has led directly to rampant violence and poverty in our southern neighbor. Oh, and that trade embargo against Cuba pretty much boned the citizens.

When I watch baseball, I just want to watch baseball, not participate in what amounts to propaganda to support whatever war we’re sticking our noses in next. Also of note, slapping camo on something doesn’t make it patriotic; it just makes it ugly.

We can do better than this nonsense. The “Rah, rah, ‘Merica,” crowd has to understand that we’re clearly not the world’s moral beacon and haven’t ever acted like it, so we need to stop pretending the United States government is some force for good. Furthermore, Memorial Day is about remembering fallen soldiers, not rallying the troops.

I actually thought the designs couldn’t get any worse, but here’s what teams will be wearing for Independence Day.

Screen-shot-2015-05-08-at-6.45.49-PM

Paul Lukas at Uni Watch puts this more eloquently than I can.

“Although I don’t yet know this for sure, I’m assuming that MLB will once again be donating profits from the sale of these caps to Welcome Back Veterans. That’s nice, but Independence Day is not a military holiday — it’s the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence’s ratification. So if MLB once again ties the sale of Independence Day merch to a military charity, they will be (a) misrepresenting yet another holiday, (b) once again promoting the insidious notion that support for the military and patriotism are synonymous, which is patently false, and (c) continuing the endless drumbeat of celebrating the military over and over and over again, to the near-exclusion of all other sectors of society. All of this is unacceptable. (It’s also worth noting that MLB could do all of this strictly via merchandising, without making the players wear gas station-style caps on the field.)”

Appreciate the guys who serve in the military when they do the right thing and for their willingness to get shot at, but we have to come to grips with the fact that propping up South American dictators and intervening in African civil wars doesn’t equate fighting for what little freedom we have left here or with loving the country any more.

The “freezing homeless child” video is a sham

There’s a month-old video going around that shows a kid acting like he’s homeless in New York City, and it purportedly takes over two hours for someone to even talk to him.

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

I’ll give you a minute to grab the Kleenex if you fell for it.

Now that you’re back, let’s look at just a few of the problems.

The first problem is that there are at least two cameramen. People knew this kid wasn’t homeless. Homeless kids don’t have two cameramen following them around while they have an obviously-cut-with-scissors shirt on. Remember, this is New York City, where practically everything gets filmed. They probably thought these guys were recording a new episode of Law and Order: SVU or something.

Secondly, if it was really five degrees Fahrenheit, this kid has frostbite and/or hypothermia after being out for two hours with no coat and no shoes, assuming he didn’t take a break to run inside every five minutes. It wouldn’t take much of a fluctuation in wind or temperature to really make things dangerous for this kid.

wind-chill-frostbite-chart
Good job, older brothers. You could have killed your younger sibling.

 

Of course, the tipping point is really the fact that half the in-video captions are in Comic Sans. There is literally no faster way to get people to stop taking you seriously than to use Comic Sans for something that’s supposed to be serious (This means you, English teachers.).

Comic Sans
No. I refuse.

I think it’s safe to say the “homeless kid” social experiment was just a drive for YouTube subscribers, particularly when most of this channel’s videos are pranks, and prank videos are the worst (I don’t want to watch morons making other people feel awkward.). Thanks, Internet, for the click bait.