ethics


I normally don’t write about what I see in movies, but after watching “Food Inc.” at Cine Theatre in downtown Athens, GA, I have to write about this one.  As a follower of Jesus I am convicted about how relatively little thought I have given to the subject of food, particularly where it comes from and who is part of the process.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about it at all, my wife and I had started buying organic milk and vegetables in recent months.  But I had not put all the pieces together, and this movie was a big step toward seeing the bigger picture.

If you don’t know me, it is important that you know that I am a carnivore extraordinaire!  When the film said that the average American eats over 200 pounds of meat a year, I said, “YES!”.   I generally make it a point to eat meat at least once a day and rarely go without.  I love to grill!  Some of you are right with me and others of you are probably revolted at my carnivorous appetite.  But those are the facts about me…and now on with the issues at hand.

After watching “Food Inc.” I am convinced that this issue is not a preference issue, but rather it is an ethical issue.  And for those who are followers of Jesus our Christian ethics must examine this important area of life.  Why?  Because we all eat – and many of us do so multiple times a day.  And all of this eating means that many people and animals are directly affected by the choices we and businesses make.

Of course the main issue is on the people side of things.  My conclusion is that people are heavily exploited when it comes to food.  Not just a few people, but masses of people.  Migrant workers are particularly exploited by the system.  I’m left just being angry about this part of the equation.  The source of the anger is compassion.  Remember how Jesus looked out at the masses with compassion.  Before going into other elements let me just say that if you don’t have compassion for humanity then you aren’t very much like Jesus.  If you are not burdened for the people and nations of the world, then you aren’t very much like Jesus.  You need to ask him for a new heart, new eyes, and new ears, so that you may see as He sees, and be compassionate as He is!

Here are the issues:

How does my food consumption affect the lives of other humans?  Can I change my eating habits in a way that helps people?

Should there be standards for how animals are raised and killed for food?  Does the Bible have anything to say about this?

How can I make those I feed safer based on how I buy food?

What should my perspective be on laws concerning immigration, the patenting of life, farm bills, and safety as related to the food industry?

Are there certain companies I should avoid buying from or owning stock in?

What other difficult issues come into play?

I’ll do my best to give some direction or at least point us to those who have a good direction on these issues.

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more about “How To Get Out Of Debt . . .“, posted with vodpod

I think you will enjoy this funny video even if it hits a little close to home.  After viewing it you may want to read a well written article on the subject by Craig Blomberg…“Biblical Economic Stimulus Plan”

I’m also fascinated by what the Bible says about debt and think it would be great if we had a bunch of believers who would lend without interest like they did in Old Testament days.  Think of how much more money we would be free to give if we didn’t pay interest on home loans.

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Before the election, there was much debate in Christian circles of who to vote for and what system of ethics should be used in coming to a conclusion.  Abortion was a hot button topic but not as hot as normal.  It was different this time as many true followers of Jesus and many psuedo-Christians moved the abortion issue down on the priority list.

I really believe that most bought into the illusion that the issue was a non-issue and that there wouldn’t be any real ramifications…I mean Roe v. Wade was not overturned in the last 8 years by the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment…so why should it be a deciding factor?  What I believe many failed to realize is that the issue is far more reaching then Roe v. Wade.  It has to do with Executive Orders and smaller laws and probably a bit down the road FOCA.

Today, the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Obama has started down the road he has consistently said he would take.  On his third day of office and his second day of business he used his executive power to overturn the “Mexico City Policy”.  When the policy was in tact federal tax funds only went to organizations that “neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations.”

Our federal tax dollars will now be given to organizations that promote and perform abortions in countries around the world.  My understanding is that tax dollars still cannot be used for the actual procedure, but it can be used to support the overall operation of the organization and promotion of abortion; thereby, freeing up other money the organization has to actually perform the procedure  In short, money that was given to organizations to save lives, prevent and cure disease, and feed the hungry will be diverted to other organizations who will promote abortion and end life.

Please know that my heart has not changed in my love for both the unborn children and women who have had abortions.  If you have read my previous posts on the subject or talked to me personally I think you know my heart.  It is always painful to write about this subject, and I don’t write this post as an I told you so.  It is simply a reminder that our first ethical responsibility in loving other humans is the protection of life itself.  If your ethical priorities have been out of order I beg you to put them where they belong.  In this matter, on this day, justice was not done, and the innocent were not protected.  It is a sad day for the world and “the cloud of witnesses” to its sadness is great indeed.

I am still praying for President Obama, and I hope that you will continue to as well.  I Timothy 2.

From Romans chapter one verse eighteen through chapter three Paul makes his case for the sinfulness of man and God’s righteousness in condemning sin.  He begins with showing the guilt of those who blatantly deny God and then he shows the guilt of the moralists and religious people.  Remember that Paul has already claimed that they only way to be made just in God’s sight is by having faith in the Gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Romans 1:1-18-32  The wrath of God against ungodliness

I.  The reasons for God’s wrath against humans (1:18-23)

A.  Humans suppress the truth about God (1:18-20)

  1. the knowledge of God is within humans
  2. the evidence of God’s design is all around us

Paul makes the claim that the general truth about God is obvious to humans but that most humans do not want to know about God. Therefore, they suppress what they know in their hearts and what they perceive with their minds.  The denial of God must be fortified on two fronts – the heart and the head. Human’s selfishness (the desire to do one’s own thing) is of great use is suppressing what the heart knows about God.  On an intellectual level the truth of being accountable to one’s creator is slapped down by denying anything was created in the first place.  If we are here by chance then at most I have to answer to my society, but in all reality my goal is to please myself.  Despite the abundant evidence all around us of God’s design the reality is rejected and the self-blinding goes deeper and deeper.

B.  Humans alter the truth about God (1:21-23)

  1. Professing to be wise they became fools
  2. Made God into an image – depicted by corruptible things

The fool has said in his hear there is no God (Psalm 53:1).  In particular the fool denies the true and living God.  He makes his own god(s) to his own specifications.  He often worships the creation or even himself via humanism and materialism.  He sets the rules of his life to his own liking and he makes or picks god(s) to match.

God is rightly angry at such things, but we should be so thankful that while God’s holiness demands the condemnation of sin, God’s love desires the redemption of you and me!

(In Part 2, we will look at God’s response to human’s suppression of the truth.)

I have been intrigued by this subject for a while because it is a major social trend.  Many people view cohabitation as a trial run for marriage to see if they are compatible. About 10% of couples in the USA claim to fall into the cohabitation category (a higher number have attempted cohabitation with marriage being a future option) but in many European countries the percentage of those currently cohabiting much higher – in the 15% to 30% range.  The USA is currently headed in a clear direction toward more people cohabiting as a precursor to marriage or an alternative to marriage.

Cohabitation is another issue that can be difficult to write about because many people have done this or are doing this. One of my primary reasons for writing this is to help people avoid pain.  I have approached the subject from both a Biblical and statistical perspective.  Obviously the Bible is quite clear on the issue (see Hebrews 13:4 and II Timothy 2:22 below), but I was shocked at the degree to which the statistical data backs up what the Bible teaches.

If you take 100 couples who are practicing cohabitation, 5 to 10 of them will cohabitate for longer than 10 without breaking up and without marrying, 45 of them will have a “premarital divorce” – meaning that their relationship will not make it to the marriage ceremony.  Of the 45 who do marry, 33 of them will get a divorce (almost 75%)!  This leaves 12 couples out of 100 that have survived cohabitation and will still be married after 10 years.  If you include the higher estimate of 10 for couples that maintain cohabitation for longer than 10 years without marrying, then you have 22 out of 100 couples that are still together 10 years later.*

Based on those numbers, I think all would agree that the odds do not favor cohabitation.  We can also clearly state that 40 to 50 % of all marriages end in divorce.  So just getting married is not the solution. According to Michael McManus who wrote a book on the subject, premarital sex is also a huge factor. They took 233 couples who agreed to stop having sex until their honeymoon and went through premarital counseling.  A decade later only 7 of those couples were divorced or separated.  Overall the Church has been very slack in this area and the statistics prove the consequences with the divorce rate of church service attenders being about the same as the general population.  Church leaders need to set people up to win by speaking the truth in love and setting clear expectations.

Problems with cohabitation:

1.  It does not work because you cannot practice permanence.

2.  “Pre-marital divorce” is often as painful as regular divorce.

How to put yourself in a position to win:

1.  Do not have premarital sex, or if you are sexually active then stop having premarital sex.

2.  Do not cohabitate, or if you are cohabitating then move out.

3.  Get premarital counseling that is not “fluff”.  You need to do this with someone or a couple who will tell you if they think it is a bad idea for the two of you to get married.  The counseling should be very practical and talk openly about subjects that you will face in your marriage: sex, money, communication, future plans, thoughts on kids etc…

4.  Included in the counseling have a marriage inventory taken so you can see compatibility or the lack thereof.

5.  Be involved in a Bible teaching church and in that church have REAL relationships where you have honest and serious communication.**

What if we were cohabiters and/or had pre-marital sex?  Does that mean our marriage is doomed?

Absolutely not!  The grace of God is sufficient and available.  In every marriage the couple should keep an eye on their relationship.  If your marriage is becoming frayed then asking a married couple you respect to be a mentor couple can be a great idea.  Marriage counseling may be necessary for some.  It is better to admit weakness now then to go through divorce later.  

* Michael McManus “Living Together: Myths, Risks, and Answers”

** In many churches these types of topics are very difficult to approach because the church is either legalistic making it almost impossible for people to be honest about their struggles.  Or the church is carnal and has no standards and expectation for behavior; therefore, sin is overlooked or even promoted. In both cases gossip often ruins the day.  Church leaders must insist on a loving, gracious, honest, and confidential environment if we are to make real progress in these areas where losing has become the norm.

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure…”

II Timothy 2:22, “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

God is not being mean when He gives us these imperatives.  He really does know what is best for us!

Definition that will be helpful as you read:  Racism is racial prejudice with a heart full of malice.

One of the most important things that has happened in this election is the acknowledgement of the progress that has been made in the area of race.  Now this does not mean racism is no longer a problem.  I believe that many, many votes on both sides were cast with race being the primary consideration.  A multitude of times every day race still plays a factor in actions, attitudes, and words.  I wish it was something that would just completely be a non-issue, but because of humans’ sin nature, I do not believe it is something we collectively will get over until the return of Jesus.  However, we can give thanks as great progress has been made!

Though many are not racists everyone on our planet carries racial prejudice with them like an old, dirty, t-shirt that was meant to be thrown away a hundred times but still keeps getting worn – often hidden under a shirt that is nicer to look at.  It is important to understand in your own heart how much racial prejudice you have and what you are attempting to do about it.  One of the things I am most proud about my grandfather (a hard working southern dairy farmer now passed) is how he knew the culture he grew up in was wrong, he knew his own tendencies toward racial prejudice, and he allowed the Holy Spirit to work in his heart.

I’m sure all of us have experienced racial prejudice to one degree or another.  We usually take great note of the unfavorable kind, and normally don’t even realize the favorable kind is even occuring.  If I am on the basketball court and feel that I am not given a fair opportunity because I am white, I get ticked off.  When I get pulled over and a white cop gives me a warning, I rarely think, “I wonder if he only gave me a warning because I am white?  What if I was black?  Would I have gotten a ticket then?”  No, I just take a deep breath and go.

I think people often miss the element of anti-racism/anti-prejudice teaching as they read the Scriptures.  The Good Samaritan, the woman at the well, and the need to care for widows in Acts chapter six are all examples.  If you are aware of this when you read, I am confident you will find many other instances.  May we seek to do with away with any sin of racism and racial prejudice and seek to have the heart of God on the subject.  “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7b).  Do I even need to mention, “Love your neighbor as yourself?”  Racism and racial prejudice just are not compatible with being a follower of Jesus.

We should be very thankful for the work of William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others who lined up with the heart of God on this issue. They all were sinners and had their shortcomings, but in this area they each had an important role to play.  Thank God they pressed on in the face of extreme odds and opposition.  May that be a lesson to us in this and in every area of social justice, to keep pressing forward.

A prayer:  “Dear Father in Heaven,  I thank you for your love for all the people groups.  I thank you that your Son Jesus died for each one.  Help me to see as you see and to have the heart that you have for all people.  Help me not to judge a man or a woman by the color of their skin, but rather to have discernment as to their relationship with You.  Whether the person needs the Gospel of Jesus, prayer, or love and fellowship, help me to see it that I may act and speak according to their need.  Lord please protect those who would be subject to racial violence today.  Lord please help your people to have the right heart and to love and to act in love.  In Jesus Name! Amen!”

Psalm 139:13
“For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother’s wom
b.”

The following article is only intended to convey my personal conviction as someone who is endeavoring to follow Jesus and to have His way of thinking permeate my way of thinking in all areas of life.  It is with compassion, tears, and love that I broach the very difficult and painful subject of abortion.  I am aware that what is written here will cause pain and controversy for some people I love very much, and this makes me write with great care.  Please also know for the past 10 years I have endeavored to keep serious political thoughts only to myself and those very close to me.  The reason for this is because political discussions and issues often get in the way of much more important conversations about the Good News of Jesus and the teachings of the Scriptures.  Politics can cause clouds that hinder people from seeing and hearing the most important truths of God’s Word.  

On this subject, speaking the truth in love is extremely important, as many believers and unbelievers are scarred by their choices made in the past and have deep wounds.  We must be sensitive to them when we speak about this subject like we would about the subject of divorce, and sensitive if the conversation comes up in a group or even a blog such as this. At the same time followers of Jesus cannot be silent on the subject as we have a responsibility to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I have lost sleep and shed tears over this subject lately, much of it over the hardness of my own heart and the silence of my voice. My prayer is that this writing will be more helpful than it is hurtful, and that God will protect, comfort, and teach each reader according to their need. 

I see more and more christians who are touting a pro-abortion candidate as “a gift of God’s grace for our country” and “America’s Messiah”. I disagree with this because of the candidate’s stance on abortion.  His record is very consistent that he is pro-abortion.  There can be no debate about that fact. And there can be no debate about the importance of this subject in this election.

Here is a quote from Obama from the presidential debate on October 15, 2008. It is from the transcript so it is word for word.  The context is about the appointment of new Supreme Court Justices.

“And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance.”

Can a christian in good conscience know that abortion is morally wrong, know that a Presidential candidate is pro-abortion, and state, “I want him to be my president, and I will vote for him.”?

The arguments I have heard for yes are the following:

1.  There are many subjects under the umbrella of social justice and abortion is just one of them.  Since I agree with a pro-abortion candidate on the majority of them I will just have to disagree with him on that one. He still has my vote.

My objection:  There are many subjects under the umbrella of social justice and some have greater weight than others.  The subjects concerning the protection of innocent life are more important than those that pursue happiness.  Can we state that we love our neighbor as ourselves (including our unborn ones) and promote the campaign of someone who will not seek their protection?  Because one in five pregnancies ends in abortion worldwide, we cannot think of this matter as a secondary issue.  Can we afford for the most powerful person in the world to be wrong on this matter?

2.  Neither party intends to change anything about the situation so the subject of abortion doesn’t matter.

My objection:  A battle that should be fought but is not will always be lost.  I cannot state 100% that a pro-life candidate will appoint the correct Supreme court justices to overturn Roe versus Wade, but we are guaranteed that pro-abortion candidate’s nominees will keep the status quo.  A pro-abortion candidate winning insures that nothing on this subject in America will have the potential to change for a very long time.  

3.  What about all the innocent people in Iraq who have died since the war started?  Why are you picking the unborn over them?

My objection:  The death of any innocent person is awful.  We must remember that Iraq’s former dictator was responsible for the death of large numbers of his own people, the paid rape of hundreds if not thousands of women, and the mass murdering of a people group.  Regardless of what we should have done in the past we must deal with the reality that we are there at the present.  Even if the pro-abortion candidate is 100% correct on Iraq and the pro-life candidate is 100% wrong…the number of human lives at stake is not even close. According to the World Health Organization 43 million abortions occurred world-wide in 2003.

In closing, followers of Jesus should be pro-adoption, pro-education, pro-helping the poor, and pro-life.  The subject of life trumps all others, and we must protect the innocent.  I do not see anyway around the argument that if the pro-abortion candidate wins, then a vote for him in this election makes one complicit in every abortion in our country from when the new judges are appointed until Roe versus Wade is overturned*.

Christians may due to their conscience about other subjects say that they will not vote for the lessor of two evils and will abstain from voting, but I cannot agree with the thinking of christians who promote a pro-abortion candidate as a great agent for hope and change.  

Finally, I am thankful for the grace of God which is sufficient for all things.  Let us love and have our hope solely in One Person – Jesus Christ!  Please also know that I am open to calm, civil, and loving discussion about this or most any other subject.**

———–

* I do not believe that we are complicit with every act the person we vote for commits for 2 reasons: 

1.   We cannot see the future and are ignorant of the sins people will commit in the future. 

2.  I reiterate that different issues have different moral weights, and we are sometimes forced to pick between them.  If certain bad things happen because of my vote for the pro-life candidate I am not automatically complicit with them because I was forced to make my decision based on the greater moral issue. 

I do believe we are complicit when we know the actions someone will commit are morally wrong and it carries great moral weight (like slavery and abortion) and we vote for that person anyway.  Under those circumstances, I don’t see a way to avoid complicity.   

** Due to the sensitive nature of this topic.  I will be diligent and thoughtful about which comments are approved and not approved for public viewing.  If I do not approve your comment I will endeavor to send you a private email.

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