It’s Only Terror If It’s Unknown


The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror in Literature

It didn’t take long after the news broke about a militia taking over a government compound for my Facebook Newsfeed to light up with people calling BS on the stark differences in how this situation is being covered (or not covered) by media. 

Here are some things to think about:

This group is being described as a militia. They believe they are doing the work of God and have taken over a government area. 

When groups of middle eastern descent are described as the one above, we call them “radicalized extremists.” 

But this militia is not of Middle Eastern descent. They’re white farmers. They’re Christians. They remind us of our crazy Uncle So And So. They are familiar and, therefore, are a militia.

We, as a society, are geared toward white men (Don’t even try to deny it. Theirs is the default perspective of western history, religion, politics for the last 500 years. We can’t change it til we own it). Because we think we know white guys so well, a militia in Oregon doesn’t seem so scary. 

Farmers with rifles talking about patriotism and freedom. Yeah, we know those guys.

But here’s the thing to remember: in Saudia Arabia, Osama bin Ladin was once someone’s crazy uncle. 

Radicalized extremists are the same the world ’round. But these guys are our radicalized extremists. We know what to expect, so it’s no big deal.

But here’s the problem for all of us who are still relatively offended by the term “white privilege;” when we don’t respond to the white guys with guns the same way we would respond to minorities with guns, we’re displaying our privilege for the world to see.

This isn’t a topic I normally write about, but race relations have become the topic of conversation in our culture the last couple of years. I was once one of those idealistic “progressives” who believed wholeheartedly that we were a post-racist culture. One of those “I have black friends and my sister is black!” sort of defenders of white openmindedness. The continued popularity of Donald Trump’s hate-fueled campaign confirms that we are not post-racism at all.

And so the question remains, “What should we do?” I believe the answer lies in how you identify we

We as believers must acknowledge the role that fear of the unknown plays in our prejudices and convictions. Whether that unknown is another race, culture, or religion, simply admitting we don’t know is genuinely the first step to learning about others. It’s tough to learn about black America when you still steadfastly hold to the line “There’s only one America!” To say that is to deny the rich heritage of those who have come together to make America.

This country was never about eradicating other cultures for the sake of a new one. This country was founded on the exact opposite premise; that people should be able to bring their beliefs and their dreams with them in order to live them out freely. Those who say coming to America means converting to Christianity and speaking only English have missed the beauty of the Grand Experiement. 

So this event brings me back to a belief I’ve firmly held for years; the way to combat fear is to know. If you’re fearful of Muslims, get to know a few. If you struggle with showing compassion to the LGBT community, be vulnerable and ask a gay co-worker if you could ask them some questions. If you are afraid of the gun toting religious “patriots” currently committing treason in Oregon, peruse some Facebook pages and read up on what they stand for.

Demonstrate empathy. Give people the benefit of the doubt. And be consistent. Not all black protestors are thugs and not all thugs are black protestors. Not all Muslims are radicalized extremists and not all radicalized extremists are Muslims. Do a little less stereotyping and take the time to get to know people and their stories on an individual basis.

How do we loosen the grip that fear currently holds on our nation? Simply put, know and be known. 

Christians, Gay Marriage and a REAL marriage revolution


18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. Genesis 2

Evangelicals have gathered in huge numbers today in Washington, DC, to rally and protest, making their opinion known on the issue of whether or not the state should recognize same-sex marriages.

Once upon a time, marriage was about a covenant between a man, a woman, and God. The records were kept in the church, documentation in the family Bible. But during the time that the lines between church and state were blurred (think pre-Reformation, so we’re talking a LONG time ago), the state took over keeping up with marriage, and it’s been a legal contract ever since.

I don’t agree with same-sex relationships because I do believe that they do not fall in line with God’s designed purpose for intimate, sexual relationships.

However, I also disagree with Christians who protest the government’s ruling on marriage (which they claim is ordained by God, not the state) but still enjoy the tax, insurance, retirement and other benefits of a state recognized marriage.

Here’s a revolutionary thought: if believers seriously are against the changes the government is making concerning marriage, stop participating in government recognized marriages.

Return to church recognized, covenantal marriages. When the government goes against God, remove yourself from the government sponsored activity.

It will be a hardship. We will no longer enjoy the benefits the government offers people who join into a legal marriage.

But isn’t sacrifice expected when we stand in our moral beliefs?

So here’s my challenge: Count the cost of protesting or supporting the government’s definition of marriage, which is an understanding that marriage is a legally bound partnership between two consenting people. If we agree with that reductionist view of marriage, then we have NO RIGHT to protest the government withholding those rights from any couple seeking them.

If, however, we believe marriage is a sacred, lifetime covenant between one man, one woman, and God, then why do we allow the government to be involved in the first place?

If you are so strongly against the government redefining marriage, then stop participating in government acknowledged marriages and deal with the sacrifices made because of that stand.

Not a popular stance, and I’m certain I’ll take fire from both sides of the debate, but brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to speak out against an institution (the government) from which we benefit.

My friend Kim just made a beautiful point: our government is not bound to biblical standards, but as Christians, we are. We are not a theocracy, and cannot expect those who do not hold to our religious morals to abide by them.

God ordained governments to protect our right to practice our faith, not to enforce our faith. So if our government today chooses to enforce a law which you believe goes against biblical law, then stop participating in that government sanctioned activity.

File for legal divorce and ask your pastor for a church blessed covenant. Sacrifice the benefits of government sanctioned marriage and embrace community accountability and support.

Teach about the sanctity of marriage, the seriousness of the commitment.

Talk young people out of entering marriage until they understand the commitment they are making.

Talk married couples out of divorcing because they have made that covenant commitment.

(UPDATE: The above statement in NO way means that I condone staying in an unsafe situation in which abuse is taking place in a marriage. In an ideal situation, red flags of possible abuse would be revealed in the pre-marital time and the person would either be discipled to repentance or the marriage would not occur in the first place. If you are currently in an abusive relationship, get out of immediate danger, tell someone. Tell until someone believes you and empowers you to act. God NEVER condones the abuse of His children.)

Do those things, then get back to me about why you desire to withhold government sanctioned financial benefits from same-sex couples, some of whom have been in relationships longer than many heterosexual Christian marriages.

Let’s get marriage right in the Church again before we start critiquing how the world does it.

UPDATE: I’ve had some ask for clarification on my statements above, thinking I’ve meant Christians should isolate themselves from the world or remove ourselves from the political realm altogether.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a history and Poli. Sci. junkie and ENCOURAGE Christians to be involved in the public square.

But on this particular issue, we as believers may need to find a way to signify a distinct difference in our understanding of marriage and the Gov’t’s.

I wrote his on another site yesterday and thought it might be helpful to include here:

The current definition of legal marriage as observed by the gov’t and God’s covenant standard are already so completely different, God wouldn’t recognize our gov’t’s view of marriage.

I say we separate marriage and legal unions. Once, they were assumed the same thing, but they are no longer in our society. Make covenant marriage the business of the church and if people want to add a gov’t sanctioned legal contract, then so be it.

On the other hand, if people wish a legal acknowledgment of their relationship w/o caring for a church commitment, then let them have a legal union alone.

When man’s law deviates from God’s law, as Christians, we stand more accountable to God.

Civil union and covenant marriage should be two separate things; let the state deal with the legal issues and let religious institutions deal with the sacred union before God as necessary. We should no longer assume the two are the same.

Cooperation without Conformity


I’ve had a lot of people in the last couple of days ask me why I have such a problem with the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. As an isolated, political event, I don’t really have a problem with it. Yesterday showed that an interestingly diverse group of people can rally around a common ideal (free speech) and draw attention to social ills in a peaceful manner.

But yesterday wasn’t a single, isolated event. In fact, there’s no such thing as a single, isolated event. All events have a cause and an effect, and my concern lies within the big picture of which the CFA Appreciation Day is a part.

Using our political freedoms to exercise our faith can be a tangled, complicated mess. It’s a mess worth making, but we must be careful not to confuse faith and politics. CFA Day was a political statement, and the support was shown, by Christians, for a brother in Christ. For many, it was both a political AND a faith statement. And that’s ok.

But here’s the thing to recognize: Organized boycotts and support events tend to accelerate and polarize. The cycle becomes a cold war of revenge, and that’s an attitude and action of the world, not of Christ.

Let’s just look at the CFA Day as an example:

1. Dan Cathy makes a statement about his support of biblical marriage.

A Christian using his American right of free speech.

2. Gay activists take offense and decide to boycott Chick-fil-a.

A political/social rights group using their American right of free speech.

3. A couple of politicians declare that Chick-Fil-A will not receive any more building permits in their cities.

Politicians abusing their political power in an attempt to legislate their personal opinions.

4. Even the most liberal of newspapers and political commentators denounce the decisions of politicians and lawsuits are filed claiming the blocks on permits are illegal.

The American systems of free speech and the courts work! Freedom and democracy survive to live another day.

It could have stopped there. But instead of decelerating the situation, backing away, watching and seeing how things worked out, an Appreciation Day was announced. The situation is instead accelerated. Here’s where the problem begins.
Yesterday could have been a great day of unity and support and fun, and from what I understand, that’s exactly what it was for most people.

But for some, that’s not enough, and their political idolatry bent has been exposed. Yesterday wasn’t just about supporting a brother in Christ; it was about one upping the “enemy.” This morning, Mike Huckabee didn’t post a “Thanks for Supporting Free Speech and Dan Cathy” post on his Facebook page.

He posted this:

Talk about loving support of a brother in Christ. Looks more like an arrogant “We win, you lose” baiting of an enemy on the playground. Might as well have stuck his tongue out at the political left.

This is political gamesmanship, not Christian humility and brotherly support. Do not confuse the two.

Before I go further, let me be clear that this is not a personal attack on Mike Huckabee, nor is it a political attack from a ticked off liberal. I’m a card-carrying Republican, supporter of small government and personal responsibility. And in this case, personal responsibility means engaging others in a responsible and Christ-honoring manner.

Back to the post:
Since a politician made a political move, no one should be surprised that the left has responded in kind.

There’s a Same Sex Kiss In planned at Chick-fil-a restaurants on Friday.

Where does it stop?

Apparently not here.

Because now, instead of Christians participating in a worldly system in a Christianly manner, some Christians are adopting worldly systems to express moral displeasure with businesses.

And when it comes to boycotts, we don’t fare well. In fact, it usually just brings mockery to the name of Christ. Remember the Disney boycott declared by the SBC? Million Moms against JC Penny’s when they named Ellen as their spokesperson? Some are now threatening to boycott AMAZON.

When we play the the world’s game, the world doesn’t back down, graciously accept defeat and walk away. The world reacts and further accelerates the situation. As believers, will we continue to play the game, further polarizing people, trying to only do business only with those who believe just like us?

As believers we should use the systems put in place by God for our benefit and for us to benefit others without falling into the ugly and broken portions of the system. Government is ordained by God for our good and can be used for the good of all. Political gamesmanship is a negative use of government and Christians should have no part of it.

When Israel was in captivity in a foreign land, God gave them strict instructions to be active participants in the culture in which they lived. He told them to build houses, plant gardens, do business.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:4-7

And they were to do this, cooperate with the people of Babylon to build a mutually beneficial culture, without conforming to the behavior and beliefs of the Babylonians. They were to be in the world, but not of the world.

As believers in the political realm, we should do the same. We can cooperate without conforming.

Think that is an impossible goal?

There’s a tiny island off the coast of Tunisia that proves you wrong. I used to show this short video to my geography classes as a conversation starter to discuss the ways that government and culture enable us to peacefully cooperate with those who disagree with us without conforming to their religious or cultural beliefs.

We could all learn a lesson from Djerba Island.

Chick-fil-a Gate, Or why the rest of the world no longer takes us seriously


I have spent my life loving and studying world history. The passing of time shows the growth and decline of incredible societies, and it is always amazing to me that humanity is able to overcome and thrive in spite of the horrific actions we take against one another.

My love of all things historical and political has made this political season a particularly interesting and painful one to watch. The issues of free speech and religious liberty are at the forefront of debate, and it is painfully apparent that America has lost its ability to debate and protest well.

To gain a better global and historical perspective of the battles for free speech and religious liberty, please consider the following:

How People Have Historically Demonstrated for Free Speech:


The Federalist Papers, America, 1788.


Tiananmen Square, China, 1989


Arab Spring, North Africa, 2010.

How Americans Demonstrate for Free Speech:


Mike Huckabee’s Facebook Page, 2012.


http://www.someecards.com, 2012.

How Christians Have Historically Responded to Religious Oppression:


William Tyndale, 1536.


Puritans, 17th Century


The Middle East, 2010.

How American Christians Have Responded to Religious Oppression:


Mike Huckabee’s Facebook Page


Pat Dollard’s blog, captioned “Happy Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day: Stand Up To Anti-Christian, Anti-Chicken, Heterophobic Bigots”

Freedom of Speech and Religious Liberty are worth fighting for. People should absolutely do what they can, where they are to show their support for both. It is commendable that people have shown up to encourage a brother in Christ and to support his right as an American to state his religious beliefs without negative political backlash.

But do not be fooled into thinking anything beyond encouragement and support has been accomplished.

Keep in mind that we are “fighting” for free speech and religious liberty.

At a fast food restaurant.

Some people stood in line two hours today to show their support of free speech and religious liberty by eating chicken. According to starvation.net, 3,600 people worldwide died of starvation in those two hours.

Surely we (as in Americans, ALL Americans) can keep this in a right global and historical perspective.

So where do we go from here? Do we mistake the support or boycott of Chick-fil-a for activism and change, or do use this as a launchpad to actually address the concerns raised?

Would Jesus Appreciate Chick-Fil-A?


“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” ~ Jesus, Luke 14:12-14

I have to be honest. The whole “Appreciate Chick-fil-a Day” that’s planned for this coming Wednesday isn’t sitting well with me. I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why I have a problem with it, but I think it may be a collection of things.

For starters, anyone who has ever been to a Chick-fil-a at lunch knows that they are not lacking appreciation. Lines are typically out the door to Dine-In and around the building to Drive-thru. We love Chick-fil-a, and they know it.

The fervor with which most are supporting the event gives away that their heart is more speaking out against homosexuality than it is speaking for our First Amendment rights to free speech. Whether it is the intent or not, the whole thing just feels like an “us vs. them” spectacle.

I haven’t said much of anything about the Chick-fil-a kerfuffle. I just haven’t been able to put words to my heart.

But tonight I heard Tony Merida bring a message from the Word about meals and hospitality, and it impressed upon me an urgent need to ask people to consider carefully your decision on Wednesday.

In the Gospels, the method of ministry Jesus used was breaking bread with people. Tony said that you can trace Jesus’ path through Luke, and He is either on His way to a meal, at a meal, or leaving a meal. He met people at the dinner table, and we should, too.

In the verses above, Jesus tells his host that the next time he has a party, he needs to invite the marginalized of his society. Those that Jesus describes, the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, are those that the Pharisees had declared unclean, unfit to worship with them. They are on the outskirts, they are the marginalized. They are “those people.” Jesus ate with both the Pharisees and with “those people.”

He ate with the Pharisees to call out their sin.

He ate with sinners to call them out of their sin.

The Pharisees rejected Him, but the sinners loved Him.

One thing I’m sure Jesus would never have done was go to a meal specifically held to remind “those people” just how marginalized they are. Jesus invited the marginalized to dine with Him. The lost around you are going to expect you to be one of “those Christians” on Wednesday. They will expect you to exclude them and go with all the other Christians to Eat More Chikn together.

Perhaps a better way of showing Christ to a watching world will be to do the exact opposite of what “everyone else” will be doing on Wednesday. Instead of taking a conservative/Republican/evangelical stance about the Great Chicken Debate, stoop in humble service and meet a marginalized person where they are.

On Wednesday, take Jesus to those who are not invited to Chick-fil-a.

Invite an unbelieving co-worker to join you for lunch. Let them pick the place and you pick up the check. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in their life.

Take lunch to a shut-in member of your church. Heck, go buy Chick-fil-a for you both and then spend some time in fellowship with someone who knows what it means to be lonely.

Prove to your gay co-worker you’re not one of “those Christians.” Eat lunch with him or her and don’t attempt to convert them to heterosexuality.

Hang out with some homeless people. Spend time at cancer treatment unit. Or an AIDS support center.

If you really want to support the good work Chick-fil-a does with their camps and college scholarships and marriage retreats, take the money you would have spent on your meal and donate it directly to the Winshape Foundation.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:1-2

Instead of counting yourself in the number of good First Amendment-supporting Christians, just consider counting yourself in the company of Jesus. Receive sinners and eat with them. It will speak volumes to those who already know what the church thinks of them. Show them instead what Jesus thinks of them. I think He may care more about who we eat with than where we eat.