Choices, rights, and privileges

I read a letter to the editor of the North Fort Myers Neighbor this morning on the subject of homosexuality, marriage, and the repeal of the “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy. The letter, from Whitney Decker, is titled “Is it wrong to love?”, and favors the continued push for normalization of homosexuality in our society.

I disagree with much of Ms. Decker’s letter, and though I could express my disagreement in a responding letter to the editor or by commenting online, I don’t know Ms. Decker, and I don’t want this to come across as a personal attack. She sounds like a reasonable and thoughtful person.

Happily, I have a blog.

Ms. Decker avows that she is a Christian and reads her Bible and can’t find any Scripture that forbids same-sex marriage. I don’t know if she is a Christian. I don’t know how much she reads her Bible. I do know that she doesn’t understand the Bible in the same way I do.

However, that is not the main thrust of her letter, and neither is it the point of this response. After using a weak and tenuous definition of love to open her opinion, she launches into her line of reasoning with this gem, “Every day, [homosexuals] are unfairly told they are not allowed the same rights as “normal” couples.”

“Rights,” she says.

Those that are trying to make homosexuality a normal and accepted lifestyle are succeeding. They have used every means possible to popularize their sentiments. We have reached the point where it is no longer surprising or shocking to see homosexuality depicted as normal on television or in movies.

Ms. Decker’s opinion is an example of the thinking that is becoming widely accepted as fact. It is thinking that is both reasonable and wrong. It’s reasonable because there is logic and reason that is used on a premise that leads to a conclusion. It’s wrong because the premise is wrong. The premise is that we are arguing about “rights.” In fact, those that are pushing for the normalization of homosexuality and any other aberrant behavior will always find it in their best interests to argue from this premise.

Quoting Ms. Decker again, “Every one, gay or straight, should have the same rights.” I agree. If we are talking about fundamental human rights, then the premise is correct. Are homosexuals human? Yes. Do homosexuals have the right to be treated as human? Yes.

However, the many other issues that come up regarding homosexuality are not “rights” issues, though popular opinion, as evidenced by Ms. Decker, would have you believe them to be so. Marriage? Adoption? Serving in the military? Those are not human rights. Those are societal privileges. Using the premise of rights to argue for the granting of privileges is nonsensical and misleading.

Should homosexuals have the privilege of serving in the military? That’s a different question than their “right” to serve. Should homosexuals have the privilege of adopting children? Should they have access to the privilege of marriage? Talk about these things from that vantage point and we can have a real discussion.

[For the record, I don’t think it is wise to allow homosexuals to have any of those privileges. It might surprise you to know that serving in the military might be the one privilege I could see homosexuals having. Giving homosexuals the privilege to marry just makes no sense.]

Every day, we are being told that we don’t have the “right” to treat a homosexual differently than a heterosexual, therefore it is wrong if we do. That’s astounding irony, isn’t it?

No one has the “right” to marry. No one has the “right” to be in the military. No one has the “right” to adopt children. No one has the “right” to be a school teacher. But when you equate the “rights” of being human with the “right” to do these other things, you have started with an incorrect premise, which leads to a false conclusion. The false conclusion we’ve been led to is that by taking away these “rights”, we are treating homosexuals poorly.

In the end, our privilege to disagree is being attacked. Once again, this is ironic. Those of us that disagree with the normalization of homosexuality are told that we can’t disagree, though even if we have the right to disagree, such disagreement is hateful and immoral and wrong, equal with being a Nazi or a anti-suffragist or slave-owner.

Thankfully, I still have the privilege of disagreeing. I still have the opportunity to say that homosexuality is wrong. Homosexuality is a lifestyle a person chooses, regardless of the inclinations of nature or nurture. A person is no more born to be a homosexual than they are born to be a carpenter or a thief. Just as no one has a right to be a carpenter, but only gains the privilege and opportunity, no one has the right to be a homosexual and to live as one. However, should they make that choice, they shouldn’t be surprised when their privileges and opportunities do not match those of people that have made the choice to live a heterosexual lifestyle.

Thank you for the privilege of sharing my thoughts.


Putting the rebels in charge

An oft-repeated poem outlines the confusion of trying to live in absolute freedom…freedom from any responsibility or rule or law or God telling you how you should live.

Creed by Steve Turner

We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin
We believe everything is OK
as long as you don’t hurt anyone
to the best of your definition of hurt,
and to the best of your knowledge.

We believe in sex before, during, and
after marriage.
We believe in the therapy of sin.
We believe that adultery is fun.
We believe that sodomy’s OK.
We believe that taboos are taboo.

We believe that everything’s getting better
despite evidence to the contrary.
The evidence must be investigated
And you can prove anything with evidence.

We believe there’s something in horoscopes
UFO’s and bent spoons.
Jesus was a good man just like Buddha,
Mohammed, and ourselves.
He was a good moral teacher though we think
His good morals were bad.

We believe that all religions are basically the same-
at least the one that we read was.
They all believe in love and goodness.
They only differ on matters of creation,
sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.

We believe that after death comes the Nothing
Because when you ask the dead what happens
they say nothing.
If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its
compulsory heaven for all
excepting perhaps
Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn

We believe in Masters and Johnson
What’s selected is average.
What’s average is normal.
What’s normal is good.

We believe in total disarmament.
We believe there are direct links between warfare and
Americans should beat their guns into tractors .
And the Russians would be sure to follow.

We believe that man is essentially good.
It’s only his behavior that lets him down.
This is the fault of society.
Society is the fault of conditions.
Conditions are the fault of society.

We believe that each man must find the truth that
is right for him.
Reality will adapt accordingly.
The universe will readjust.
History will alter.
We believe that there is no absolute truth
excepting the truth
that there is no absolute truth.

We believe in the rejection of creeds,
And the flowering of individual thought.

If chance be
the Father of all flesh,
disaster is his rainbow in the sky
and when you hear

State of Emergency!
Sniper Kills Ten!
Troops on Rampage!
Whites go Looting!
Bomb Blasts School!
It is but the sound of man
worshipping his maker.

From reading this elsewhere on the web, the last 11 lines were not in the original version, but were added later by Turner for the publication in Ravi Zacharias’ book, Can Man Live Without God?

On the other hand, if you really believe in “live-and-let-live” and that you can just believe whatever you want without needing moral absolutes, could I get change for a million?


Why many wept, but not for joy [Mc]

I did not weep for joy. But I agree with everything else that John Piper says in this video.


It’s Sunday, but Monday’s coming! [Rev]

How many similarities and differences do you see between Easter for today’s church and Easter for those that experienced the first one? Of course, the differences are many – egg hunts, sales and shopping, chocolate bunnies, to name a few.

But one of the biggest differences also leads to one of the biggest similarities.

The first Easter was rather low-key, I would imagine. Jesus’ followers were still in hiding and shock from the events of the crucifixion. Even hearing the news that Jesus was alive, there had to be disbelief, numbness, confusion – as evidenced by the conversation of the disciples traveling to Emmaus.

On the other hand, Easter in American churches is decidedly…loud. We know that it might be the only chance we have to impress those that will only enter our doors this one time, so we pull out all the stops. For many churches that means a production – a BIG production. Even several days of the big production.

And then?

That’s where there can be an important similarity. What do you do when what seems like the big finish becomes the big beginning? How do you refocus when events seem to have reached their peak, when the credits should roll and everyone should live happily ever after…and Monday comes?

For James, John, Peter and the gang, three years of preparation had led them to Jerusalem and a terrible ending. The Messiah was taken and killed. One of their group had betrayed him and their entire purpose had vanished on a cross. Then Easter morning came and the terrible ending suddenly became something else entirely.

The fatigue of wasted emotion gave way to exhilaration, then to a new reality for this small group. The Messiah HAD come, but it wasn’t what they had expected. Suddenly there was the responsibility of a continued and sustained…something. Something, that would become the Church.

It became the beginning of the most important fifty days in the life of the Church. Fifty days later, there was power in the upper room and God breaking through in the streets. It all started on a Monday.

That’s where we are, the beginning of fifty important days in the life of the Church.

The big productions came and went. The songs were sung, the big outreaches to kids and families were produced, all hands were on deck and the ships sailed. (Okay, I mix my metaphors and overdo it a bit…and tend to run-on my sentences, but hopefully you get the idea.)

And the question for all is…now what?


We’ll debrief the weekend. We’ll think about the next big event. We’ll gameplan for the summer. We’ll try to recover physically and emotionally from what we’ve used in the productions and big Easter events.

But – and I’ll guarantee this – the next fifty days will be important. By the time we get to May 31, we’ll know how Easter weekend really went. As we head into June we’ll know whether these last few days produced life or just a lot of activity.

Yes, it’s been important, and hopefully some lasting decisions have been made and new life has begun.

Yes, the tomb is empty. But Monday’s coming.

And 50 important days.



Reunion [Mc]

When I saw the name of my sister-in-law come up in the caller ID on my cell phone, I silently prayed that there would be some reason she was calling me in the middle of a Sunday night service other than the one that I knew was coming. Julie and Trudi’s dad, Holton, has been battling cancer for some time, and his condition was steadily growing worse.

Trudi was scheduled to fly to Asheville on March 5th, on what would be Holt’s 74th birthday. We knew he didn’t have much time. We didn’t know how little time he actually had.

As I made my way from the Production Suite at the church down the back stairwell, Julie confirmed what I had already guessed. Holton had peacefully passed from this life at 6:30 pm, February 22, 2009.

Trudi and Julie had been with their sister, Christi, when she had passed away 2 1/2 years ago. Her death had been unexpected, but they had been able to rush to her side to share her last few hours on earth with her. When Christi finally slipped into the arms of Christ, no one had to tell them that the end had come.

But on this night, Trudi was part of the offering counting team at church. Julie, Casey, their brother, and Holton’s wife, Jan, had been unable to reach Trudi, as the noise of the counting room drowned out the buzzing of her cell phone.

I stopped before entering the counting room, quickly called our daughter, Shae, and told her to pray for her mom. And me.

This is one of those things you dread ever having to do.

What do say? I prayed again for the right words, and gently opened the door.

Trudi was in the rear of the room, entering checks into the online deposit system. The other four members of the counting team were chatting about something. I have no idea what. I knew that the rest of the family had left messages on her cell phone, but I didn’t want Trudi to see her phone before I had a chance to get her out of the room.

“Do you have some gum?” I asked, trying to act innocent and normal. It wasn’t really working. They could tell I was a little uptight about something. I wanted to get into her purse so I could slip her phone out.

“In my purse.”

I couldn’t find the gum. I found a mint and put it into my mouth.

“Would you check my phone? I thought I heard it buzzing a while ago.” I found the gum.

“Um…yeah.” I pulled the phone out and slipped it into my pocket.

“Who called?”

“Um, it’s okay.” I’m not sure if I specifically lied, but I definitely left her with the impression that no one had called. Suddenly, I was unsure what I should do. Maybe I could just wait until we got home in thirty minutes or so.

I walked out of the room, and paced for a minute. No, I needed to get her out of the room and let her know so she could call Julie and Jan and Casey and begin the process I knew we would all go through over the next few days.

As I went back into the room, I moved over to the corner, where I knew Trudi couldn’t see me. I tried to silently let the other counters know that they needed to take over for her, then I asked if I could talk to Trudi outside.

Lots of questioning looks from everyone followed us into the hall. Church would be ending soon, and I knew I had to give her the opportunity to get out of the building first. I gave one final plea for the right words, and knew I had none. All I could do was look into her eyes.

As it turns out, those were the right words.

“What is it?” Then the realization came. “Did my dad pass away?”

Later, when I went back to the church to pick up Sam, Summer and Sawyer to take them home, we sat in the parking lot while I tried to explain what had happened.

Sad? Yes, I said. For us. But not for him. He’s happy to be free of pain. He’s happy to be whole and well. He’s happy to see Jesus face-to-face.

There were several pictures of both Holton and Christi that I had to choose from, but I ended up with this one of Holton and Christi’s son, Jason. It was labeled as being of Holton and Christi in my computer, and even though it’s Jason, not Christi, I believed it was her, because Christi always seemed to like things that weren’t “girlie” – motorcycles and cleaning off her roof come to mind.

But it’s still a great picture of Holton. This is the easy-going, down-home guy I knew. He loved to have fun. He loved his grandchildren.

I’m sure Holton and Christi are enjoying a great reunion.


Heavy [Rev]

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again [made his heart heavy].” Exodus 9:34 (NLT)

The economy is in turmoil. People are scared. The pressure is on. Some would be tempted to say that God’s judgment is at work. Others would say it’s just a normal part of life. Whatever the case, God always uses circumstances to try to get our attention.

People are looking for answers. People cry for reform and change when the pressure is on. But when the pressure is off, then what?

Greed and financial recklessness seems so out of place now. But what happens when the threat of financial collapse disappears?

Scripture…and history…tell us that greed and recklessness will return. Worse than before.

Unless there is a true change of heart. Lightened by obedience, instead of heavy with stubbornness and selfishness and sin.


Godspeed, Mr. President [Mc]

It’s really rather remarkable when you think about it.

The elder President Bush gained access to the White House in 1981 as Vice President. By extension, so did his son, George. For the eight years after, then for four years when his dad was president, George became increasingly familiar with the place.

For the last eight years, it has also been the home of his family, with Laura, their daughters, and their pets.

It must be a strange feeling tonight, the last they will spend as primary occupants. Tomorrow they will leave, and many will be gleeful and rejoice. Enemies – no less a term will do – of President and Mrs. Bush will enthusiastically try to expunge any trace of the former tenants’ presence in the place. They will trumpet “change” and “new hope” and denounce the backward and bumbling steps of those that have gone before.

I will be praying for President and Mrs. Bush. Only Divine Wisdom could tell which steps have been best and which have been faulty in the past eight years. But I am thankful that these great Americans have been leading us. I am thankful for the energy, wisdom, caution, strength, patience, generosity, and goodwill that they have used in serving our country. They have served every person in this country – rich or poor, black or white, conservative or liberal – with dignity, sincerity, and faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless you and your family in the years ahead.


My Kind of Counseling [Rev]

I saw this on Jeff Leake’s blog, The Launch Pad. He said that he was not recommending this counseling methodology…but I like it.


What Superman would be if he didn’t have to deal with kryptonite [Gator]

Tebow Skips Senior Season, Ascends Directly Into Heaven

MIAMI (SP) — Shortly after leading the Florida Gators to a national championship with a 24-14 win over Oklahoma, junior quarterback Tim Tebow announced he would skip his senior season and ascend 
directly into heaven…{Read the rest of this story here}

I guess this is meant to be a jab at the press, including the Fox announcers, ESPN announcers, CBS announcers, and every other person who has ever met Tim Tebow. I just think it’s funny, mostly because Tebow doesn’t believe all this stuff. (And I don’t think his friends and family would ever let him.)

Thanks to Bob Henley for sending this my way.

(And if you haven’t seen this video, then you probably don’t watch much sports news.)

I am Second

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link to a great new web site. Outstanding testimonies. It’s called I am Second.

My Enemy…only in a football sense

As a Gator fan I have a unwritten contract to despise everything that has to do with FSU and Georgia. They are our rivals – okay, not Georgia so much, since we own them. And there’s no way you can like your rival’s coach.

That’s easy with FSU. Yes, I know, I’ve heard it…”Not like Bobby Bowden? But he seems like such a nice, Christian man.” I don’t buy it. I don’t like him.

And Georgia’s coach? Well…rats. I can’t not like him, which is really terrible from a football perspective. After all, not only is he the head coach at Georgia, but he used to be on the staff at FSU. Trouble is, he’s genuine, a good coach, and really represents Christ well.

Was I mad at what he had his team do on the goal line last year, stomping and jumping around? No. It was a tactic which worked well…last year.

And since we throttled them last week, it’s all good.

I say all that to explain why I’m posting this video of the Georgia coach and his family. Because it’s good. And inspirational. I hope Georgia does well for the rest of the year.

What if Starbucks Marketed Like the Church

Funny and painfully true. The obvious answer is that most of us would never have heard of Starbucks if they operated the way the church does. (And, no, it’s not a bad thing to operate your church with quality and forethought.)

I’m Tim and I approve this message.

Without further ado, my thoughts on the election and how I’ll be voting a week from today…

President and Vice-President
There are 13 choices on the ballot. Make your own conclusions on that number. If I were going to vote for the person I would most like to see as President from the list, I’d choose Alan Keyes, who is running on behalf of the American Independent Party. However, with no chance to win, that would be a wasted vote.
I vote: John McCain and Sarah Palin.

District 14 Congress
Another case of wishing I could vote differently, but this is the best choice I have.
I vote: Connie Mack

Public Defender, 20th Judicial Circuit
Sole candidate.
I vote: Kathy Smith

State Representative, District 72
He seems to have done a good job in the last four years.
I vote: Paige Kreegel

I was one of 9% that didn’t vote for Mike Scott in the Republican primary. Even though he would’ve received my vote anyway, he secured it by speaking the truth at Sarah Palin’s Fort Myers’ appearance.
I vote: Mike Scott

Property Appraiser
He’s done a good job in a tough market.
I vote: Ken Wilkinson

County Commissioner, District 1
I haven’t heard or seen enough from the other candidates to remove this incumbent…yet.
I vote: Bob Janes

County Commissioner, District 3
Ray Judah seems like a fairly nice guy. I don’t know him. Les Cochran seems like a nice old guy, too. I don’t know him either. Republican incumbents usually have an edge with me, but at a county level, party isn’t as important, and Cochran is actually a Republican, too. Judah has been in office for a long, long time. So I like his experience. But such a long time in office means that future decisions will be impacted by old alliances, past choices, and wanting to defend things that you were part of.
I vote: Les Cochran

County Commissioner, District 5
I don’t know him, but I like him.
I vote: Frank Mann

Lee Memorial Health System, District 1
You can vote for 2 out of 3 in this category. Anna Clark’s whole reason for running seems to be a bad experience a relative had at Cape Hospital. Um…work that out with your lawyer, dear.
I vote: Stephen Brown and Marilyn Stout

Lee Memorial Health System, District 3
Again, we get to pick two. I’m sure these are important positions to the community, but… Lois Barrett is 84 and would seem to be past her time, but I’m not sure I like the fact that Jason Moon’s father-in-law owns an Oncology practice. Seems conflicting.
I vote: Linda Brown and Lois Barrett

Lee Memorial Health System, District 5
Vilmar Ribeiro needs to finish working on his associate’s degree.
I vote: Kerry Babb and James Green

Mosquito District, Area 1
Another office that is very important in our county, but should this really be an elected position? Even the News-Press didn’t offer an opinion on these races.” That’s what I originally wrote, then I found out that the Lee County independent taxing district for Mosquito Control is the largest of its kind in the entire United States! It has 87 full-time and 125 seasonal employees, and carries a budget of $25 million. Huh.

Larry Murphy is the incumbent and carries a good resume. James Opp’s resume seems to consist of his dad having been the director of the district for 12 years.
I vote: Larry Murphy.

Mosquito District, Area 3
According to the Naples News, Mike Ellis knows “bugs inside out.” I guess that’s a good thing. And I know nothing about Tim Gardner. Sorry, Tim. You have a good name.
I vote: Mike Ellis.

2nd District Court of Appeal
Should Judge Whatley be retained in office? Sure, why not?
I vote: Yes.

Amendment 1
This is a housekeeping amendment, seemingly unnecessary in practice, but a good thing theory.
I vote: Yes.

Amendment 2
Also a housekeeping amendment, of sorts, seemingly unnecessary in theory, but a very thing in practice.
I vote: Yes.

Amendment 3
Seems to be a good thing that should be tied with other good things to make a comprehensive policy, but let’s take what we can get.
I vote: Yes.

Amendment 4
There seem to be some positives for this, but do we have to mess with the Constitution to do it? Don’t we elect legislators to do this kind of thing? This amendment would encourage land conservation, and further limit the amount of land that can be developed. Down the road I think this will make property even harder and more expensive to acquire by the average person.
I vote: No.

Amendment 6
Seems like a good idea, but, again – does it have to be a constitutional amendment?
I vote: Yes.

Amendment 8
Gives voters flexibility in what to do with tax money.
I vote: Yes.

County Charter Amendment 1
Makes the Supervisor of Elections position a non-partisan office. Good idea.
I vote: Yes.

County Charter Amendment 2
Allows for things to by-pass County Commissioners to be put on ballot.
I vote: Yes.

[Note: Yes, the title of this post IS the same as the title of our latest episode of the ChurchDramaPodcast. This post is specifically for my daughter, Shae, who gets to vote for the very first time this fall.]

No Thank You


Do you know the guy in the picture? Probably not as well as you think you did.

I’m very disappointed with the latest “coming out”. Granted, it’s always disappointing when anyone chooses to live in a way that is contrary to the love and holiness of God. But it’s especially troubling when people who are given the special task of communicating the truth and hope of Jesus Christ walk away in self-deception.

Ray Boltz is a creative guy, and made a bunch of amazing songs, which are all still good. Unfortunately, his false assertion that his chosen lifestyle doesn’t cause a rift between him and God is cause for sadness.

(And when did he lose his hair?)

Never Be Surprised by Man’s Ability to Deceive

Having previously posted the “Healer” video, and now regretting it, here is the sad follow-up to that video. I’d like to be mad at the guy, but I pity him, and feel very sad for people hurt by this.

Which is better – to live in this life while cut off from God, or to leave this life while having full connection to God? Sort of sounds like “gain the whole world or lose your soul”, doesn’t it?