Marriage, health and wealth – which is cause, which is effect?

Does anyone have data to say if this argument is the right way round?:

“Marriage is the greatest ‘program’ to end poverty, child abuse, child sexual abuse, school dropout, college failure, health problems, drug problems, depression, out-of-wedlock births to teenagers, reduce abortions, increase homeownership and savings…” – Ken Blackwell and Pat Fagan

They say that if people marry, they are less likely to encounters all these negative things. But is there anything to prove either that, or the opposite idea. The opposite will be:

“Child abusers, the kind of people who are school or college dropouts and/or wont encourage their (future) children to stay in school, who are ill or prone to drug problems and depression, who have nothing to save, who will waste the money of a partner rather than manage it wisely, are less likely to get married, or stay married.”

In the first idea, marriage is the cause and safety, health and wealth the effect. The married could say singles have only themselves to blame for their bad luck – they could marry and have all the same good things married people do.

In the second one, safety, (physical and mental) health and wealth causes good marriage prospects. In the first picture, the woman in the poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood could simply marry instead of having her kids out of wedlock, and everything will be better. In the second, she may be worse of with her baby’s daddy, and it could be sensible to not marry him.

 

Another reason why consent is not enough to make BDSM okay

This quote by C. K. Egbert shows why we cannot make “consent” our only standard of whether an action is moral or not:

“Let’s presuppose that we live in the world the BDSM people would like, where the “physical details really only matter in the contexts of safety [sic]…and consent…” There are several problems with the idea that we should divorce harm from wrong. The first is that there is no longer any way to conceptualize bodily integrity (including the harm of pain or suffering); consent by itself cannot differentiate between the harm of rape and the harm of a stolen pencil. Any attempt at putting limits on the violence, or adding in additional constraints, will be merely arbitrary and ad hoc.

As a result, there are no limits to the abuse men can inflict upon women (even to the point of murdering women through sexualized torture, as happened in the Cindy Gladue case). It will be even more difficult for women to prove assault or abuse (in addition to the inherent problems with proving non-consent) because it will be presumed that a woman could have consented to anything.

… The only harm that is recognized is when the woman herself sees it as a harm, and yet she is being told every day of her life (through pornography, socialization, and through our social responses to violence) that she deserves to be hurt, used, and violated. This is especially pernicious given that women already minimize and deny their experiences of abuse…

We already know how “fantasy” plays out in real life. Many men would be willing to rape using physical force or intimidation, if they think they could get away with it (if we include emotional coercion, bullying, pressuring, and manipulation, no doubt the numbers would be much higher). Thanks to increasingly violent pornography and the mainstreaming of BDSM, men are coercing women into more painful, dangerous, and violent sex acts.

“Consent”, while it is certainly a part of ethics, cannot distinguish between rape (or murder, for that matter) and a stolen pencil. Our ethics certainly need to go further than that. And it does not become okay to violate and torture a woman when you (and society) convinced her she deserves the bad treatment.

Where is God when bad things happen? How could God allow it?

It is a very old question: Where is God when bad things happen? How could God allow it? The topic even has a big name – theodicity.

Now, I have read a lot of head answers to the theodicity question. I am sure that topics like free will and the fact that humanity was made in such a way that our actions, good or bad, affect each other plays a role. I have read C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” long ago and found it good.

But this is not just a head question, it is very much a heart question. In my opinion, the apologists who treat this as only an intellectual problem miss the point. Most of their their brainy answers are probably right, but most of the askers are people with broken hearts, asking this from the heart and not the head. Continue reading

Good News Clubs and their critics, part 3: Is calling the child a sinner a way to deny his inherent worth/ intrinsic dignity?

I hate the little Red Riding Hood story. I have studied at least 40 different Little Red Riding Hood Books or volumes of collected fairytales, and the story always have the same theme: It is about a girl and grandmother getting eaten by a wolf, about vulnerable people losing against the bad guys. The message of Little Red Riding Hood is that we will always lose against the wolves preying on us. – Little Red Riding Hood Info

That is roundabout how the sites “Intrinsic Dignity” and “Good News Club Info” (what a misleading name! These sites spread negative propaganda, not objective info) look at Good News Clubs. Even though there is a wolf gobbling up a girl and old lady in the story, Little Red Riding Hood is not a story about a wolf winning. The wolf loses.

And if I put GNC teaching in a diagram form, with gold, black, red, white and green squares representing the 5 oft-repeated messages, and the other colors some less used messages, the clubs looks about like this: Continue reading

Perhaps we argue about Calvinism/ Arminianism because we don’t understand time as God does

Imagine a world that is flat like a piece of paper. Two-dimensional characters live there. They can go forwards and backwards and left and right, but not up or down. They don’t have any words for “up” or “down.”

Flat world1

 

You are standing close to the edge of their world at one corner, looking at 2 inhabitants named Pancake and Paper. You start talking to them. All they see is your waist. You describe to them your head and feet and general shape, and how your waist is at the edge of their planet. Because they don’t understand up and down, they imagine you lying down flat in their world. Pancake believe, by the explanation you gave, that your feet is closest toward them and your head furthest. Paper believe the opposite. They start arguing about your position.

Flat world

 

The problem is that Paper and Pancake don’t understand the up-down dimension you also live in.

I think the problem with Calvinism/ Arminianism can be solved in a similar way.

Time is a dimension in which we can only walk one way – forward, but can only see one way – backward. We know the past, not the future. We go towards the future, not the past. We cannot see or go to any era we choose.

But, by what is said in the Bible, God knows both past and future. He is omnipresent, and without beginning or end. As such, God was/will be present in both the past and the future. This diagram shows, in light yellow, where God sees, and where God is, in time. It shows, by contrast, a human being walking towards the future too.

god sees and is

How does this relate to the Calvinism issue? Well, according to Calvinism, God elected some people before the foundation of the world. From our human perspective, that means God chose some people – and neglegted to choose others – without them even existing yet.

But within this perspective he could have chosen us before the foundation of the world – while actually looking at us, while seeing us respond to the gospel.

Basically, Calvinists say it happens in the order of: 1) God saves you. 2) The world began. 3) You were born. 4) God worked in your heart to accept him, and you did.

Many other believers say it happens in the order of : 1) The world began. 2) You were born. 3) God worked in your heart to accept him, and you did. 4) God saves you.

But if God is not limited to our time, then he could save in His time, a time which we cannot figure out if it is first or last, the same way the Flat World inhabitants cannot figure out if your feet is closer or further than your head from them.

Most objections to Calvinism seem to be meaningless when we understand that God don’t see time as we do:

Two objections to Calvinism, and how God seeing all time and being in all time seem to answer them:

Objection 1: What is the point in evangelism, if God already decided who will be saved?* God may have decided to save Sipho and Fatima and Hans and Elma and Juan because he saw Sipho and Fatima and Hans and Elma and Juan responding to evangelism.

Objection 2: Election makes God cruel and arbitrary. Not so, if He elects while seeing and knowing, and being in, the past and present and future, if He elects those who chose Him.

My conclusion

Calvinism/ Arminianism is probably not worth debating over. There is not a right or wrong answer here. Where a belief or nonbelief in election leads to wrong actions, then it becomes a problem. But election itself, if God knows and sees past, future, and present, should not be the problem it is. It should not cause church splits.

At least this is how I see it.

______________________

Note:

*Before making the argument above, I answered “What is the point in evangelising, if God already decided who will be saved?” this way:

It matters a lot to the elect. Knowing Jesus is it’s own reward in this life, and it inspires a meaningful life of “loving others as yourself” and making a difference in other lives by the power of God. It makes a difference to the life of the elect on earth if he is saved just before dying or live his life for God. Similarly, to the elect it makes a difference how much they walk, day by day, with God. Christianity also has an effect on the lives of others among whom the Christians live – Christians introduced literacy to most languages on earth, started hospitals, etc.

So yes, the gospel do make a difference in this world -directly to those who accept it, indirectly to others – whether people can go to heaven without hearing it or not.

God the abusive boyfriend?

One new(ish) claim among Internet atheists is that the Christian God is an abusive partner.

The usual argument (at its strongest) goes about like this:

God accuses the believer of sin and “forgives” and then accuses of sin again. God expects you to sacrifice for Him. He says He is better than you and your best deeds are like filthy rags to him. He wants to be in control of your life. You have to fear him. If a human partner was like that, it would have been seen as abusive. – Terrible anti-Christian argument

The problem with the above arguments is that everything in it is completely out of context. Continue reading

Good News Clubs and their critics, part 2: A summing up of the Good News club message

Suppose you had a Ferrari that was currently not in roadworthy condition, but that could be like new if you spend $2 000 dollar on the spares needed to repair it. This car would be un-roadworthy right now, but not worthless – it will really be worth spending the money to repair the car.
The CEF message is sort of like that, except that it regards each person as the un-roadworthy or ex-un-roadworthy Ferrari, originally made very good (in God’s image!), that could be or was repaired by the price Jesus paid.
This article will be a report on the CEF message. Fans and critics of CEF alike has to agree that what is reported here is more or less what Good News Clubs teaches. The degree to which the message is good or bad could be disputed, that this is taught cannot. If you are familiar with CEF, you could skip or skim this post.
There is a message that is part of CEF teacher training and in some form part of almost every CEF lesson. CEF sums it up into a Wordless Book of 5 colors, sometimes:

Wordless-Book

The Wordless Book

Gold: God made everything, God made you. God loves you and wants you in heaven with him. God is holy. (Gold stands for a crown – God is King – or for the streets of heaven.)Dark: But you sinned and God cannot allow sin in heaven.(Dark stands for darkness in the heart)
Red: Jesus was punished for your sin on the cross. (Red is the color of blood.) He rose again from the death.
White: If you choose Jesus, your sins are forgiven, and you can be with God in heaven one day. (White is the opposite of dark)
Green: Grow as a Christian by knowing the Bible, praying, witnessing, asking God’s forgiveness when you sin again, and meeting with other believers. (Green is the color of growing grass and plants.)

Continue reading