Sunday, February 27, 2011

Funny Faces

Daughter #4 (Hannah) has a fun application on her little thingamajig (otherwise known an IPod Touch) that allows you to do all kinds of strange things to pictures. Face Goo, I think the app is called.

Check out these pictures of yours truly.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Is it lawful to take an oath?

In Matthew Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all…” Does this mean that a Christian should not allow himself to be put under oath as a witness in a court of law or take an oath of office? (5:33-34)

Some people have believed that Jesus here prohibits all oath-taking without exception, regardless of the subject matter and regardless of the occasion. But I think those who have come to this conclusion have not really understood Jesus’ meaning.

We find several passages in the OT in which the Lord speaks of this matter of swearing an oath in his name. He says, for instance, in Deuteronomy,
You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear” (Deut. 10:20).
There are times when taking an oath in the name of God is not only permitted, but even required, such as in a court of law when an appeal is made to God to witness the proceedings, to ensure justice, and to bring down wrath upon those who might give false testimony. To swear an oath in his name upon such an occasion is actually a way of honoring him. It is an expression of confidence that he governs the affairs of men and will in fact punish perjurers.

The same is also true with respect to vows, promises made either to the Lord or to other people, when someone obligates himself to fulfill certain commitments.
If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth (Num. 30:2; cf. Deut. 23:21-23).
What Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, then, is a summary of these passages: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ ”

What he goes on to say, “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all”, should not be understood as annulling the OT law. A little earlier Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus does not set himself up in opposition to the Law of his Father. It is unthinkable that the Father should say, “You shall swear by name,” and that the Son of the Father should say, “You shall not swear at all.” If this were the case, there would be a contradiction in the Godhead.

It should be noted that Jesus permitted himself to be put under an oath when he stood trial. When he was standing before the council, Caiaphas said, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63). To adjure means to charge under oath. Up to this point, Jesus remained silent. He didn’t answer a single charge that was brought against him. But he permitted himself to be put under oath, and he answered appropriately.

What Jesus finds fault with is the practice of flippant, needless oaths in everyday conversation. We are told by those who understand something of the times in which Jesus lived that hardly a conversation took place among the Jews where there was not some oath taken. They would swear upon every trivial occasion. This is what Jesus was condemning.

But beyond this, in their legalistic hypocrisy, they determined that there were some forms of swearing—some forms of oath-taking—that obligated a person to perform what he had promised, and others that did not. There was a great deal of convoluted reasoning behind it all, but it seems to have come down to this. If a man made an oath that referred to God, then he was obligated to keep his word; but if he did not refer to God in his oath, then he was not obligated to keep it. One could swear by heaven and earth, by the sun and moon, by the gray hairs of his father, by the grave of his dear departed mother, but if he did not refer to God in his oath, then he was free from obligation. But even here there was a lot of hair-splitting. Swearing became a clever way of lying. One could give credence to his lie by taking ever so solemn an oath, but if he did not swear with just the right formula—with just the right words—he was not bound by it.

Oaths are designed to give assurance of one’s truthfulness, and there are occasions when oath-taking is proper, as in the solemn proceedings of a court of law, the inauguration of a public official who swears to fulfill the duties of his office, in a wedding where the bride and groom pledge themselves to each other for life, etc.

There are formal occasions like these when oath-taking is proper. But the Jews often used oaths and vows simply to aide and abet their deceit. (And we are no different.)

It is in this context that Jesus says, “Make no oath at all.” There should be no need. Our word should be our bond. We should regard a simple yes or no to be as binding as the most solemn oath. This is why Jesus says that in our ordinary day-to-day conversation, we should let a simple yes or no suffice and that whatever goes beyond this proceeds from evil motives.

Friday, February 18, 2011

An assembly of petulance and sophomoric behavior

Newly elected Allen West, representing the 22nd district of Florida had some choice words for his colleagues on the left side of the isle:
Over this past week I have watched and listened to members of the House of Representatives from across the aisle.

I am appalled at their ignorance, belligerence, and dishonest rhetoric filled with empty emotional platitudes. Have they no shame in realizing that their inept, incompetent failures are the reason why we are debating this continuing resolution. They failed to pass a budget during the 111th Congress.

Have they no honor in realizing that their fiscal irresponsibility over the past four years has resulted in our standing on the precipice of a fiscal canyon from which we may not recover.

Also troubling are the events in the state of Wisconsin which mirror those that happened in Greece several months ago. We are witnessing the abject hostility of a unionized entitlement class that is being lauded by the liberal left, seemingly to include our President.

It is such a critical time for our Republic, yet there seems no visionary leadership — it is as if America stopped producing adults. I have never seen a greater assembly of petulance and sophomoric behavior as what I have witnessed this week on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Strong words from a good man. For more click here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

When an animal, why not do as an animal does?

If anyone is still in need of proof that the theory of evolution affects far more than the narrow academic discipline of biology, he can find it here. The author, a certain Jenny Block, tells us that we have a lot to learn about what is "normal" or "natural" about human sexuality by looking at the sexual behavior of animals. "As much as we've evolved, it can be easy to forget that, at the core, we're animals, too."

Not with Ms. Blockhead here to remind us. But judging from what she writes, it would be a happy thing to forget...if it were true.

Among the points she makes in her article are these:
They [animals] exhibit habits other than monogamy. They are polygamous and polygynous... Bonobos, for example, have multiple sexual partners at any given time in their life.
Well then, let's hear it for the sexually liberated Bonobos! But before we take them as an example of what is normal or natural behavior, perhaps we should consider the fact that they have also been known to eat their young. If we take them as a guide in their sexual behavior, why not in their eating habits too?

She also writes:
They [animals] are homosexual as well as heterosexual. Marine birds, mammals, monkeys, great apes, dolphins, penguins, cattle, bonobos [there they are again] and rams are just a few of the many animal species in which scientists have observed homosexual behavior.
Her conclusion: 
Humans are homesexual as well as heterosexual, obviously. And each is perfectly normal and absolutely biological.
The implications are clear. If animals do it, why not human beings?

Ms. Blockhead's piece is just one of many attempts to justify all kinds of human behavior, but especially sexual behavior (surprise!), by appealing to the animal world--and all this based on the assumption that we are nothing more than highly evolved animals.

The inversion of the created order is complete. When God created the world he created it with an order, thus:
Man - Woman
Adam and Eve  were to respond to God and exercise a godly dominion over the animal world. But in the Fall, the order was reversed. The devil used an animal (a serpent) to tempt Eve, and through her to tempt Adam, to ignore God. The new order looks like this:
Woman - Man
The devil has convinced us that we are nothing more than animals and that we should take our cues as to what is normative behavior, not from God and his law, but from the animal world.