The Cost of Forgiveness

To forgive is to take upon yourself the pain of the offense and to desire that your offender be spared the pain of guilt.

Forgiveness always costs the forgiver.

Forgiving costs the one who was offended. Our example is Jesus, who took all the pain and humiliation for all of our offenses, and spared us the guilt. He was totally blameless; we are the offenders. He suffered for our crimes and shielded us from the consequences.

“Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.” Timothy Keller

For us, forgiveness is almost incomprehensible. True forgiveness requires something of us beyond our natural human capacity. Even to conceive of real forgiveness, we need the help of God’s example, and the empowerment of His presence within us.

The Wrong Side of History

Re-posting from awhile ago.

Let’s not be on the wrong side of history. I say this because I like to hope that some future people who descend from us will have rediscovered the moral compass, learned to honor objective justice, found the Truth. If so, they will look back at us and be appalled at our indolence, our indifference in the face of genocidal baby slaughter.

There can be no escape for us as a people.  Multiplied millions of murdered children cannot go unanswered by the conscience of any possible belief system. Only an utter nihilist could deny that the scales will ultimately be balanced and we will be found wanting. A universe which assigns no meaning and passes no judgment upon endless human carnage is an absurd nightmare.

The activities of Planned Parenthood are completely indefensible. If we cannot purge this corporate atrocity from our society, we do not deserve to call ourselves civilized, moral, or even good humans.

I do realize that all abortions are not chosen in as careless a manner as PP advocates that they should be. It may be, for many women, that all available medical advice was to terminate and try again. They may have grieved terribly over having to lose a child they wanted…Or they may have aborted for more elective reasons but felt unaccountably uncomfortable about it after. I realize that there are many women who were urged to abort for what seemed like unarguable reasons.

That’s the problem. If the default of our society  is to err on the side of death in order to solve our problems, and women are confronted with life-and-death decisions when they are at their most vulnerable…death becomes the predetermined result.

Then all those women, as well as their children, become victims of opportunistic corporate interests, and the aggrandizement of relentless political interests. The best and most well-meaning solution that such a society can offer is death as panacea.

Such a value system is inadequate to meet the needs of real life. In real life, unexpected stuff happens, lives are in danger, less than perfect decisions have to be made. If the overarching goal in the face of the unexpected is to get back to our comfort and our plans, no matter what the damage, those decisions will be brutal.

We need cultural change. We need to be honest enough to admit what is clearly before us.  We need to value Truth. We need to be willing to call evil, evil; and good, good.  We need to be a culture which values all human life and devalues none.

When difficult situations come, as they will, our impulse ought to be an honest search for a solution which protects and honors all involved. Our default should not be death for the defenseless ones.

Truth and One Application

Truth matters absolutely. The nature of truth requires that I value truth before my own preferences. Truths are true no matter that I ignore or disagree with them.

Here is a simple truth on a particular subject. Human life has intrinsic value and meaning. Its Creator and Designer has clearly expressed this truth, in both word and action. *

Here is a conclusion which I draw from that truth: if you are a supporter of legal abortion or Planned Parenthood, you are making a truth claim against the intrinsic value of all human beings.

You are claiming that human beings receive their value extrinsically; that we each are granted value from another party outside of ourselves. You are claiming that value is granted by an outside entity according its own standard.

You are a defender of the belief that some people are valuable, and that other people are not valuable. Which means that human lives are not valuable in themselves.

Indeed you are claiming that no human being is intrinsically valuable.

Not the unborn fetus, not you, not me, not anyone.

This won’t be news to those pro-abortion supporters who are honest or who rise above the virtue-signaling level of activism. They will say that  the unborn have no rights that we are bound to respect. Dred Scott meet Hillary Clinton.

And so, you and I are living in a world in which we each receive our value from something outside of ourselves. I have some limited power to assert that I matter; some people are better at convincing others of their value than other people are; some people have no power at all. Compare a charismatic sociopath to a disabled newborn–who wins?

One who negates the value given by the Creator of all things is in a difficult place when asked to justify human life in an objective way.

People who are thoughtful believers in Jesus Christ have a fundamental understanding that every single human being who was ever conceived has intrinsic and equal value. That value is not subjectively granted or acquired.

You who are pro-choice believe you’re virtuous because you care about the rights of women so much that you assert that they have an absolute right to societal approval and public funding of their abortions. Even while this right is exercised at the cost of many millions of human lives.

I believe it is virtuous to value the lives of all women and all unborn, that they all have intrinsic value, that they all have the right to life that has been given by their Creator; and that when we deprive any of that life, we violate an eternal law. We deny an eternal truth.

But let’s put aside the divine element for a second, as you would have it.

You pit one life against the other.  You must do that if you believe that value is conferred rather than already present. Whose rights win the contest? is your context. You believe in a zero-sum proposition: one has value or the other does, and we must choose. But what is your solution if both have equal value that we must honor?

And since there is no absolute or objective conferrer of value, who will we respect as worthy to grant worth to us? This is a question you cannot dismiss. Someone will come along and claim that right, and assert the power we’ve given him. We’ve seen that movie many times, and the results are always tragic, ugly, and anything but virtuous.

  • God stating that human beings have value:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans 13: 8-10

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Psalm 127

“Cursed be anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.” And all the people shall say, “Amen.”  Deut 27:25

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139: 13

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3-4

 

Why The Resurrection Matters

From Elihu’s Corner: what Easter is all about.

Elihu's Corner

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore…

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Some Disorganized Parenting Advice, For What It’s Worth

I agree with J. Budziszewski when he says that love is the commitment of the will to the true good of another person. We are called to love our children, so that means we’re to be committed to what’s truly good for them.

Principle #1: When you are responsible for someone’s well-being, your efforts may not be understood or appreciated by the object of your efforts. Or: your kids are still childish, so they might not get what you’re doing for them. Or: if your kids think you’re great and nice all the time, you probably aren’t doing the parent thing right.

When you are a mom or a dad, the overarching long term goal is to cultivate and maintain healthy relationship with your kids–for life. Love, love, love them. And the reason you do this is to guide the young people toward the development of their own loving relationships–in healthy, purposeful, functional adulthood–because you’re committed to their long-term good.

Your best efforts, on your side of the relationship, should promote harmony, health and happiness. But a lot of your time as a parent is spent doing things for your kids which they don’t like and don’t understand.

Like discipline. Human beings start out helpless, self-oriented and without any self-control whatsoever. As we develop, we gradually acquire more and more other-awareness, impulse control and independence. But we need help. Does anyone deny this (she asks, remembering blog conversations in which a consensus even on this was not reached)?

One of the first things to make understood, after your child reaches an age of accountability, is that there is a line. The line is what your child must not cross without expecting to receive unpleasant consequences. Your message: these items are not tolerated and are not negotiable. If you cross that line, I will enact consequences which are designed to be just unpleasant enough to deter you from doing that item again.

Let us not substitute virtue-signaling for realistic discernment concerning what form those consequences should take. Know your child, know your own limits, and with humility do what is really best for your children. I don’t ascribe to a rigid formula here. People are all the same, but also people are very different.

When your child has truly repented of that thing and wants forgiveness (which is how you know the discipline actually worked),  he will receive it immediately , along with happy and healthy restoration of your relationship and a warm hug. Thing will be completely forgiven and he will never be reminded of it again.

Principle #2: If your kid doesn’t repent, your correction didn’t correct. He hasn’t learned anything yet.

Non-toleration should be reserved for acts of true intentional disobedience or rebellion, or acts of malicious intent, and other items which you will designate yourself. In our house, striking or physically hurting a sibling was one act which was under the no tolerance rule.

Non-tolerated items must include acts which would be dangerous to the child, such as running into the street before the age of learning to cross safely, or playing with the stove or the electrical sockets.

Childish mistakes and impulsive foolishness should be teaching opportunities.

Principle #3: All consequences must only be performed while you, the parent, are calm and cool, and always with the goal of quick restoration and the long-term goal of teaching the child to have self-discipline.

One of the embedded premises in your correction is that you are the authority. It makes a lot of us uncomfortable to assume that role but it is one of the difficult things which we do for our child’s benefit. You do your child no favors to teach him that there isn’t anyone to whom he is accountable, or that there is no one whose moral standing can be trusted. If the person who is teaching him the difference between right and wrong isn’t a moral authority to be trusted, then it’s not too difficult for him to decide that right and wrong are subjective opinions.

Principle #4: You must own the role of unqualified authority to your child. This role is not a thing that you lead with; it is to be a premise underlying your pleasant and affectionate parenting. But it must be real when the rubber meets the road. For the sake of your child, you cannot be inconsistent here.

The line is important. All kinds of kids from all kinds of raising  might rebel one day. But the kids who grew up with a line and an authority understand the context better. They know who and what they’re dissing and do it with some understanding. It’s possible that they will think through their choices, with the critical thinking skills you have taught them, and that they will find their way back, as thinking persons with an understood moral paradigm.

Kids who grew up without a moral authority in their lives, who found it hard to understand what was expected of them, with an amorphous moral context, will rebel mindlessly, emotionally driven by they know not what, with no purpose. They are truly blind and lost in their rebellion, and that makes it so much harder for them to find their own way back to responsible maturity.

What else would I tell parental-advice-seekers, if I were to be asked?

Thicken your skin and cultivate peace in your spirit. When you are holding the line against some unwise course your kid wants to take, do not expect back-up from other adults. Expect to stand alone. The world is chock-full of bad advice for you and your kid.

Principle #5: Being a conscientious parent is not for the faint of heart.

Everything you have in you will be stretched and challenged. I’m not referring to obvious items like patience and physical stamina but your integrity, your self-esteem, your emotional stamina and your convictions or lack thereof.

When you have toddlers or several children under, say, eight, you think life’s as challenging as it can get. Oh you poor fool.

Sometimes I wish I had a house FULL of toddlers. It would be easier.

Those little people grow up and become self-directed young adults whom you can no longer contain in your home, who don’t have bedtimes, who drive automobiles, who can go here and there and do whatever they choose for goodness sakes. Whom you can no longer control. And you become a mere advisor–that is, if you’re blessed and fortunate enough to have young adults who choose to listen to you at all.

And no, you can’t guarantee that by how well you parent them. That’s just the point. They become people with free will. Hopefully the seeds of your good teaching fell on fertile ground and your mistakes were forgotten; but even if so, we can never guarantee clear critical thinking and mature forgiveness.

Anything can happen with human beings! They can decide to cut you out of their lives even though you loved them, provided for them, watched over them every minute of their lives and cared about their future more than anyone, including their current drinking buddies.

Principle #6: Expect your older teens and young adults to hurt you more than anyone else will ever be able to.

Even when you and your young people are on the same side, they can hit you right where it hurts just exactly when you were expecting reciprocal consideration. When thought you were doing all the right stuff. That’s why intimate relationships are so risky–we can love powerfully, we can hate powerfully, and we feel both most from those we love and trust.

When your toddler hates you, you can laugh it off. But when your 20 year old only speaks to you to ridicule you, that hurts a lot. You’ve cultivated a vulnerable relationship with this thinking person who is making a decision to dismiss you. So it’s helpful to remember he still has a lot of growing up to do, i.e. think of him as a toddler. That frontal lobe isn’t complete til about 25.

Those teens and twenties don’t have a lock on their self-control yet. Especially since the young in our culture never stop hearing that it’s suspect to control themselves, and that their emotions are Absolute Truth.

Principle #7: Watching quietly while your children make their own decisions is a lifelong commitment to worry and impotence, or it is a lifelong commitment to hope and fervent prayer. Your choice.

Hopefully your young will make wise decisions. Sometimes they won’t. Sometimes it’s a good time for you to say something. Sometimes it is a good time to be quiet even though you have the answer. Sometimes you don’t know how there can even be an answer. I have it on good authority that knowing the difference is an art I have not mastered.

Principle #8:  As a parent, you never arrive at a place where you can look back and say, “There–I did it and I’m satisfied with the job I did.” It’s a task for life, and you have to keep ahead of the learning curve for life.

 

 

Marriage is Enormously Beneficial No Matter How You Come to It

It’s Possible: Gays and Lesbians Can Have Happy Marriages by Doug Mainwaring

Striking down man-woman marriage laws on the basis of constitutional discrimination would thus send a message to the same-sex attracted that there is only one choice for them, that man-woman marriage is unattainable, that they are acting against their nature for desiring it, and that pursuing it will be dangerous for them, their spouses, and their children.

But the opposite is true. The man-woman definition of marriage is not an insult; it is an ensign, beckoning to anyone—regardless of sexual orientation—that the union of a man and a woman is of unique significance in light of its procreative power and complementary capacity.

The man-woman definition of marriage—conjugal, complementary marriage—is an ensign not because it is just a good idea, or the best among many. It is a bright ensign because it is the truth, undeniably displayed in nature and in each of our physical beings. We are made male and female, as complements to each other. And when male and female come together, they unite as one flesh. When two males or two females attempt to join together sexually, they remain two males or two females. To base marriage solely on romantic or sexual interests requires averting our minds from easily discernible truth.