Monthly Archives: June 2015
If Caitlyn Jenner married Rachel Dolezal, would it be an interracial same-sex marriage? For those of you living under a rock (I’m seriously thinking about joining you), Rachel Dolezal is the white lady and former leader of the Spokane NAACP who made the news recently because she self-identifies as black. Egad, just when I thought identity-bending couldn’t get any more confusing. It was bad enough when Bruce Jenner switched teams. Back in the day I had a man crush on Jenner when I was in high school because he was a cool jock. But the recent story about Dolezal choosing to be black made me wonder what the hades is going on in American society? Well, when humanity throws me for a loop, I check out the Bible for answers.
Going way back in history, the Bible says God cautioned humanity that those who did not know God or believe in God would eventually find themselves confused and off track about a variety of things in daily life. For instance, Deuteronomy 22:5 says that a man must not wear a woman’s clothes and a woman must not wear man’s clothing because such behavior is detestable in God’s opinion. The inclusion of this warning in the ancient text of the Bible tells me that Bruce-Caitlyn Jenner and the transgender community today are not breaking new ground. There has always been a demographic with a strong inclination to change their gender identity, whether society approved or not. Apparently that fact has now expanded to race, as well. Is the desire to switch teams and become a different gender or race something natural and healthy due to a genetic hiccup in the womb, or does it indicate mental illness? Is it a disability, a lapse in judgment, or a breakdown in character?
Isaiah 5:20 says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” I find it curious that a significant segment of our population today believes that radical self-transformations like those of Jenner and Dolezal are admirable, brave, and healthy. They say it is a good thing and anyone who disagrees is evil or hateful. They are saying bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. A growing segment of our population is losing the ability to discern the difference between good and evil as well as the difference between healthy and unhealthy.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” These two verses are at the root of many of our problems. We do not ask God about the way we live. That said, allow me to change direction here. What if Jenner’s decision to change gender was indeed the result of years of mental torment because he felt feminine in a masculine body? What if Jenner tried to find healing through every traditional clinical approach without success? What if Jenner asked God for help, but received none? (Yes I know it changes the dynamic if Jenner does not know God, but bear with me.) If that is the case, it is understandable why Jenner would take such drastic action as to change his gender. Given enough pain, EVERY person will try almost anything to make the pain stop. This is true of severe physical as well as mental pain. I know what some of you are thinking: God answers prayer and heals those in pain. I’m sorry, but sometimes God does not answer our every prayer and heal our body and/or mind of every ailment? The reality is that there are times when we are compelled to do whatever it takes to function without pain pushing us to the brink of jumping off a bridge.
I admit that I do not understand why God sometimes allows people to go through severe pain, and I try not to blame God. But in such situations, well, grace becomes priceless. Jenner needs our grace. As for Dolezal, I’m suspicious that her decision to change race was political or influenced by cultural forces, but ultimately I do not know her heart. Don’t get me wrong; I do not believe society should treat the decisions of Jenner and Dolezal with reckless admiration as if they are somehow leading us into a brave new world of utopian tolerance. However, extending grace and compassion to Jenner and Dolezal feels like the right thing to do.
Imagine my horror when opening the news and seeing the headline that the U.S. Justice Department, assisted by Swiss authorities, had filed corruption charges against 14 FIFA officials. (Yes that was sarcasm, because like most Americans I had no clue what FIFA was.) Anyhow, the crux of the charges in the indictment surround alleged bribes and kickbacks ($150 million worth) in exchange for votes for host countries of the World Cup and providing lucrative media and marketing rights. The World Cup is the Mecca of world of soccer. It’s where all those soccer moms and dads aspire to see their progeny compete when they grow up.
I do not know if the charges have validity, but it does remind me that the Bible has something to say about bribes. If you do a word search of “bribe” in the Bible, some common themes appear. For example, Deuteronomy 16:19 says, “Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent.” Fascinating. We in the church spend a lot of time praising God’s grace and soaking up his mercy. We easily forget — to our own peril — that our God of grace and mercy is also the God of Justice and fairness. Bribes have terrible power. Deuteronomy 16:19 warns us that bribes have the power to make even the wise impotent in their discernments. Bribes also dupe otherwise innocent people to justify unethical practices. Bribes in developed countries buy unmerited access.
Human beings are clever, too clever for our own good. In our western sophistication we take the distasteful word “bribe” and turn it into a more palatable word or phrase (a euphemism) such as an “incentive,” or a “gift,” or a “fee,” or a “contribution” . . . the possibilities are many. I once worked for a retail company where our wholesale supplier gave us what they called “premiums” for buying more of their products. The premiums came in the form of TVs, stereos, golf clubs, vacations, tickets to professional sporting events and so forth. Granted, the wholesaler did not expect us to do anything illegal, but they did expect that their premiums would buy our loyalty, even if some of their products were subpar or overpriced. The Bible warns us that bribes, in any form, are dangerous. Bribes spread like cancer throughout a society until they become standard operating procedure. And in the process they weaken trust, which is the foundation of a healthy society.
I noticed that many of the comments under online articles about the FIFA indictments came from people expressing their satisfaction that FIFA leaders were finally, after decades of illicit behavior, going to get their comeuppance (an archaic term used to describe a punishment or fate that someone deserves). While I appreciate that most people have a healthy sense of justice, the fact remains that institutions such as the U.S. Justice Department, despite its vast resources, can’t make people ethical. The law has always been inadequate at forcing people to be ethical. Only the work of God’s spirit can lift people up and heal their ethics, and even then it can take a long time with many ups and downs.
Allow me to swing this topic around to our situation here in America. We have become so sophisticated in our bribery that it can be nearly impossible to discern a bribe from a legitimate business exchange. There is no easy formula to help us navigate away from cleverly camouflaged bribes. The best I can come up with is that a legitimate business exchange would occur naturally even if the bribe was removed from the equation. A bribe gives one party an advantage over others. The person offering the bribe does not have to compete on a level playing field. Ultimately we desperately need a higher percentage of citizens who have sought and encountered Christ. Only then will people have the chance to acquire the necessary spiritual acumen to recognize and reject bribes throughout our society, though it won’t happen without resistance.
The picture to the left demonstrates the tragic irony of a world that hates Jesus. The picture shows two People magazine covers that I spotted in line at the grocery store today. The one on the left says “Goodbye Bruce, Hello Caitlyn” while the cover on the right says “The Duggars’ Dark Secrets.”
For some unknown reason, the reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting never popped up on my radar. I don’t know if the show is good or bad TV programming. But the brouhaha over Josh Duggar’s recent admission that he molested two of his sisters when he was about 14-years-old definitely caught my attention. Why? Because many people have gone apoplectic in their hatred for Josh and, it would seem, his entire Christian family. But after watching celebrities and media professionals vomit their vitriol at the Duggars, a question popped into my cranium: What if Josh had come out and said that he began to feel like a female in a male body when he was 14-years old? What if Josh said that he was confused back then and so he experimented sexually in a desperate bid to discover his sexual identity? Would his critics be so outspoken today? Would there be any criticism at all? (We all know the answer.) If only Josh had said he felt sorry for touching his sisters inappropriately but now that he is an adult he feels compelled to admit to himself and to the world that he is meant to live his life as a woman? Josh would be hailed as a hero by many of the same people currently heaping on the criticism.
Some people call the Duggars hypocrites because the Duggars supposedly tell others how to live when the Duggars had this big “secret” sin in their own family. Wow! How ironic that those who criticize the Duggars for hypocrisy would themselves be revealed as hypocrites if every detail of their childhood (and adulthood) were revealed. Let’s face it, many who castigate the Duggars are not doing so out of sensitivity and concern for Josh Duggar’s young victims. No, they do it because they hate Christians, certain forms of religion, and specifically they hate Jesus and what he represents. Also, unbelievers despise God’s moral code because it often does not align with their own. They cry hypocrite when they themselves are hypocrites. Here’s the truth: We are ALL hypocrites. Hypocrisy is part of our human nature. Any lout can spot hypocrisy among people and ideologies they loath. And more than a few can spot hypocrisy where there is none. But a wise person can also spot hypocrisy in his own camp.
I feel sorry for the folks who are dumping on the Duggars. Why? Because many of those who hate the Duggars have embraced the terminal ways of this world. Their very souls are in jeopardy and yet they believe with all their heart that they have gained the high moral ground. Their hatred for the Duggars is cut from the same cloth as the hate that ISIS has for Christians in the Middle East. The haters here just dress it up a bit nicer.