It accomplishes nothing to knock over a straw man

Printed in the Herald-Times, February 5, 2018.

To the Editor:

Me: “No tax money should go to an organization that performs abortions.”

Leftists: “Tax money does not pay for abortions.”

This is what we call a “straw man,” a logical fallacy where someone sets up an argument that was never made and knocks it over. Nothing is accomplished. This dishonest tactic is meant to distract from the argument that was actually made in favor of debating an “argument” that was never made.

The argument is simple: Planned Parenthood kills babies made in the image of God, and many of us rightly see abortion as a moral abomination. Therefore, whether we are directly subsidizing that procedure or not, we do not want to fund an organization that brutally kills hundreds of innocent babies every year – or an organization (like “All Options”) that has a fund to pay for these killings.

Even worse, the number of abortions in Monroe County have skyrocketed. There were 718 abortions in Monroe County in 2014. There were 822 abortions in Monroe County in 2015, a 14% increase over 2014. There were 1016 abortions in Monroe County in 2016, a 23% increase over 2015. This makes de-funding Planned Parenthood even more important.

I am ashamed to be a Christian

When I look at how corrupt the church is today, filled with hypocrisy and idolatry, I am ashamed to be a Christian. I do not want to call myself a Christian any more, and I have often thought of how else to describe myself. Should I call myself a Believer? Perhaps I should call myself Redeemed. (I am sticking with the label “Christian” for now, because I do not want to surrender that word to hypocrites, idolaters, heretics and apostates.) It is humiliating to watch the church of Jesus Christ repeatedly beclown itself as it prostrates itself before Donald Trump and to a lesser extent the Republican Party.

There have always been heretics in the church. There have always been false teachers who lead the sheep away from the Gospel to follow whatever doctrine of demons they have come up with. There have always been cults that break away from the church of Jesus Christ to bow down to false gods and follow men who set themselves up as a false messiah. None of this is surprising and none of this is new.

What is depressing is to see men who have stood for years in defense of orthodox Christian doctrine in the public square and have condemned wicked men like disgraced ex-President Clinton immediately collapse like a house of cards and grovel before President Trump, who makes no claim of saving faith in Jesus Christ. They damn Clinton while refusing to condemn identical behavior by Trump, who is given a “mulligan.” These so-called “christians” are hypocrites and idolaters who preach heresy.

I do not know if President Trump had a one night stand with a porn star. She claims he did, and he denies it. Since I do not know what happened, I cannot condemn Trump specifically for this alleged action. I must not bear false witness. What I can do, however, is say that it is an abomination for a man to step out on his wife and commit adultery against her, especially just months after she sacrificed her body and endured the pain of childbirth to make him a father. It is wicked and God hates this sin. Let me repeat that: God hates it.

While we do not know if this particular incident is true, we do know that Trump is a very sexually immoral man. We do know that Trump has openly said he has never asked God for forgiveness for his sexual immorality. Therefore, tossing around words like “redemption” is a wicked heresy and those who say those things are betraying the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians must condemn Trump’s fornication and adultery just as we condemned Bill Clinton.

Look, this is not difficult. President Trump has been a friend of religious liberty, and we should be thankful for that. President Trump has been an enemy of abortion, the wicked slaughter of sixty million innocent babies. We absolutely should support Trump as he pursues good policy on these matters. As I have said before, I would vote for President Trump if the 2020 general election were held today. He is not a Christian, but on policy I have been very happy with President Trump.

But while Christians can in good faith support Trump politically, that does not mean he is our messiah. We can support and defend Trump when he does the right thing and is viciously attacked for it, while also making it very clear that his sexual immorality is wicked and that God hates it. We do not have to betray the Gospel and abandon orthodox Christian doctrine on sexual morality in order to support a President who has been our ally on critical matters like abortion and religious liberty.

A dark and sinister agenda against the First Amendment

The crimes allegedly committed against Sam Brinton are indeed terrible. It is not legitimate therapy to order a teenager to be “bound to a table to have ice, heat and electricity” applied to his body. Obviously that sort of thing should be illegal. The good news is that it already is illegal under our laws against assault with no need for any sort of ban on conversion therapy.

But we need to be very clear here. Brinton’s goal is not to protect teens from being physically abused. Instead, it is a dark and sinister agenda to eviscerate the First Amendment and criminalize orthodox Christian doctrine on sexual morality. The end goal is to force approval of homosexual behavior.

What a ban on conversion therapy actually does is forbid Christian pastors from counseling youths who wish to be free of unwanted sinful sexual desire. It gags their free speech to preach the Gospel against the sin of homosexuality. This devious and dishonest campaign exploits the rare cases of legitimate abuse to criminalize Christian counseling. This is un-American and clearly illegal under our Constitution.

Do not be fooled into thinking that bans on conversion therapy will be confined to private counseling. Public exhortations about sexual morality from the pulpit will also be criminalized. After all, there is little real difference between counseling and preaching when the words are the same. There is no logical reason to make a distinction between private counseling and sermons to the entire church.

But know this: Christians will break the law. We will not submit to the government’s demand that we refrain from preaching and counseling from God’s Word. You can pass all of the bans on conversion therapy that you want, and you can even repeal the First Amendment, but we will not obey unjust laws.

We need perspective on government shutdowns

There was a lot of heated debate when the federal government shut down a couple weeks ago, and during this all I could think about is how badly the debate was lacking perspective. Think about your daily life. How many times in the average week do you interact with the federal government? I am guessing not very many.

On the other hand, how many times in the average week do you interact with your city or county government? Most likely, this is every single day. This is because you drive on city streets that are plowed and salted in the winter, you have trash collected, and so forth.

Yes, a federal shutdown will be difficult for some people. There is no denying that fact and that hardship is unfortunate. But for most people, it will not matter at all. If your city government shut down for a week, though, that would be a problem. No police? No fire protection? No trash pickup? No snow removal? That is a very big deal.

While the federal government certainly has a lot of power, the government that matters most to your life is not the federal government. It is your local government. Plus, it is local government where you have the most influence. This is because the pool of voters is much smaller and your local government officials are much more accessible. I can speak at a city council meeting whenever I want. I cannot even attend Congressional hearings, much less speak at them.

Yes, the federal government is important, but our entire national political orientation needs to change. We need to spend a whole lot more time following and interacting with our local government, where we can make a difference much more easily.

Mindless political pandering

I hate it when I hear a politician saying we need to “set aside our differences,” as President Trump said last night. I hate that phrase because that means one side has to surrender. No, we do not need to set aside our differences. We have differences because we have different beliefs about how best to improve the country and solve our problems. This is mindless political pandering at its worst.

The principles of civility are not partisan

Are all Republicans individually responsible for everything President Trump does, and does Trump’s behavior automatically justify any bad behavior by the Left? The answers are simple: No and no. The premise of both questions is childish and absurd. This came to light a while ago when a friend lamented some of the language used by attendees at the Women’s March on his Facebook page. He was told that those who support Trump cannot complain about the behavior of the Left. Really?

We can all agree that President Trump is boorish and obnoxious, and uses bad language. While I am glad that we have a President who will “punch back” when attacked, I have often wished the President would “punch back” with more restraint, and refrain from a lot of the personal attacks he uses. However, no matter what you think of President Trump, civility is a standard that exists on its own. We are all responsible for our own language and behavior, whether Republican or Democrat, and no matter what our ideology may be.

Justifying Leftist incivility by pointing to Trump is a partisan form of moral relativism. Because the leader of the other political party is not civil, we can be as obscene and nasty as we want. Basically, it is the “adult” version of a little child saying “He did it toooooooooooooooooooo!! He did it toooooooooooooooooooo!!” The answer to this is simple. It is called “grow up.”

At least with genuine moral relativists, you can see that they are simply following their warped world view. This cannot even be excused as that. This is hyperpartisanship, also known as idolatry. Furthermore, nothing Trump has said publicly is nearly as obscene as some his critics have been. Finally, I cannot take someone seriously when they question Trump’s mental health while dressed up as female genitalia. Do radical feminists actually think they are convincing anyone by dressing up as a six foot tall vagina? Seriously?

Random thoughts of the day

♣ – Just because you fight against evil, does not mean your cause is just. The Soviet Union certainly fought against evil in World War II, but the brutal Communist regime murdered tens of millions of their own people. Not every fight is good against evil. Sometimes, evil fights evil. This is not difficult to understand.

♣ – The XFL is coming back. For those who don’t remember, World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon started his own football league 20 years ago. Not having failed enough the first time, McMahon wants to go back for a second helping of fail.

♣ – Basing a filter for “fake news” on a poll of Facebook users is a terrible idea, if for no other reason than the system will be abused. People will report legitimate sources as fake, and fake sources as legitimate. There will be organized campaigns to do both. How could Facebook not foresee this? Maybe that is the point…

♣ – God is not good because things are going well for us. God is good because He says that He is good, and He defines the term. His faithfulness is infinite, and His will is perfect. We, as the creation, do not have standing to challenge the Creator.

♣ – What would have happened if the Tea Party had called themselves “the resistance” in 2009-2010? Let’s be clear: That term has obvious revolutionary and violent connotations. The movement would have been over before it started and some Tea Party folks would be in prison.

♣ – The Empire Strikes Back: Why would a snowspeeder have a tow cable? What are they towing? How would a flying vehicle tow anything? Would it just be flapping in the wind while being towed?

Millennials are ruining…

I am solidly in Generation X, and I remember all of the Generation X bashing in the 1990’s. That is why I am more inclined to dismiss broad-brush criticisms of Millennials generally, especially when those criticisms are downright silly.

For example: Millennials are killing Budweiser because they aren’t buying it. They are buying other types of alcohol, and when they drink beer they generally prefer craft beers. Well, no, Millennials are not killing anything. Budweiser has clearly failed to provide a product that Millennials want and market that product to them. Blaming consumers for not buying your product is the height of entitled arrogance.

Another example, from an article I saw a little over a year ago: “Millennials don’t know what fabric softener is for.” So now are consumers not only to blame for not buying your product, they are stupid too. Brilliant marketing. Why don’t you insult their mothers while you are at it, and call them some names?

This is absurd. Like I said before, I am solidly in Generation X. I have never used fabric softener in my entire life. What gets me is the arrogance in that statement, assuming people who are not buying the product do not know what it is I found that offensive, especially since the product describes itself. Just because someone does not use something does not mean he does not know what it is.

Every generation has been bemoaned by the generations that came before them. Today it is Millennials. Baby Boomers were seen as terrible for their music and lifestyles. I am sure even “the greatest generation” took some heat at the time from the generation that won World War I. But this Millennial bashing is tedious and tiresome, especially when the whining is because they are not buying a particular product or class of products.

Finally, as I pointed out last year the age range that captures Millennials is so huge that making blanket statements about people at vastly different life stages defies logic, reason and common sense.

Federalism, the Tenth Amendment and CHIP

The first thing a conservative should ask about any piece of legislation going through Congress is this: Does the Constitution explicitly grant the federal government the authority to do this? Mitch McConnell announced on Twitter legislation funding the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be funded, and I asked that question.

So, do I hate children? No. That is silly. The question is whether the federal government has the authority to do this. After all, the Tenth Amendment reserves powers not explicitly delegated to the federal government to the states. While that amendment truthfully is not worth the paper it is written on these days, should we not at least pretend that we respect the Constitution and the rule of law enough that we actually take it seriously?

This is not to say such a program should not exist at all, but if it does it should be funded and managed entirely by state or local government, not by Washington, D.C. If federal entitlement programs were scaled back, then the states would have more leeway to raise taxes and fund these programs themselves. Plus, fifty separate programs allows more room for innovation and a program managed closer to the people is more accountable than something done by the leviathan federal government.

I was amused that the Declaration of Independence was mentioned in a reply to me, given that the founding fathers also wrote a Constitution that included the Tenth Amendment, and before that authored the Articles of Confederation with an even more limited federal government. The founders would be horrified to see the size and power of a federal government that has expanded more than it could have in their wildest imaginations.

Finally, the “hate” remark exemplifies everything that is wrong with modern political discourse. Instead of debating public policy on its merits, we have to instead attack someone’s personal character if they have a different opinion on policy than we do. Yes, I understand I am responding to something on Twitter, where a 280 character limit makes an in-depth analysis of policy all but impossible. But even within those limits, we can all do a whole lot better than we have done.