Children’s Rights… everywhere except here

Remember that I’m musing here, not preaching. The purpose of this blog, at least some of the time, is simply to incite discussion. That’s surely the case this time….

I’m driving up the writing cabin to work on my book project, listening to NPR as I park on the interstate during the end of rush hour. It’s here, about 30 miles north of Seattle, that I learn that November 19 is the 20th anniversary of “Convention on the Rights of the Child”, which is a UN declaration that seeks to hold nations accountable for providing fundamental rights to children. Child slavery, sexual exploitation, access to education, are a few of the named elements.

I didn’t even know about this Convention until I heard this piece. “Every nation in the UN has signed on” I hear. Then, before I have a chance to feel good, the commentator adds: “except two.” Then, while I’m wondering what kind of nations could possibly say no, I hear this: “The United States and Somalia are the only nations that have refused to ratify the convention.”

This morning, I decide to do a little research, and discover the following:

1. We’re in the company of a nation with one of the worst human rights records on the planets. That’s the fact. In my opinion, that we’re standing alone with Somalia should, at the very least, cause a little humble introspection. Maybe we should reconsider our position.

2. I discover that the US helped write the language for the charter, so isn’t necessarily opposed to the principles. Instead, there seems to be questions about whether the US would be sacrificing it’s sovereignty by allowing itself to be held accountable to other nations. My response: Isn’t this true of any treaty, signed at any time, with any nation? I know we sign other treaties, and certainly expect other nations to bow to our will (have you heard of our insistence that Iran release its nuclear waste? It’s in the news and their response is that this demand threatens their sovereignty). Do we expect others to sacrifice their sovereignty for the common good while we’re unwilling to do so? The sovereignty issue seems to me to be a ruse, though I’m open to further light.

3. Then I read this: Ratification of the UNCRC by the United States would require the U.S. governments to appear before the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, a panel of child rights experts from around the world, every 5 years to explain their implementation of such issues as universal health insurance for all American children, currently a human right in all other western industrialized nation (Wikipedia). “Hmmm” I say to myself. “It appears that today’s news about health care has collided with a twenty year old refusal to ratify this treaty. Of course we can’t ratify it. If we did, we’d need to obey it. If we obeyed it, we’d need to make sure every child has access to health care. And that, as we’ve all come to learn, is something that lots of Americans don’t want.  Of course we’d never say it that way – we’d talk about how our system’s the best in the world, praise free markets, and point out our government’s failure to deliver mail without losing money.  But blow away the smoke and people opposed to public health care are forced to this:  if a child has no coverage, parents should need to choose between bankruptcy and care, if that’s even an option.  For many, of course, they just won’t go… until they go to emergency room with pneumonia – and by then it will be too late.  Deaths of children due to lack of health insurance number around 17000 a year according to conservative US News and World Report.

We Christians love protecting life in the womb. But as soon as you’re born, you’re on your own, or so it seems from my chair, as I observe the pro-life position. I’m pro-life myself, but happen to believe that it extends a bit further than a child’s day of birth, happen to believe, with the UN charter, that this child, who did nothing to inherit his/her parents wise or foolish choices, ought to have a chance to live by having education, water, and yes… even health care.

“Socialism!!” The cry is in my ears before I’ve even finished typing, let alone posting. So we, and our good friends in Somalia, refuse to sign the treaty, to which I say this:

“Happy Birthday Children’s Rights. I’m glad most of the world gets it. I hope someday we will too.”

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Kevin

    It’s interesting to spend some time reading the arguments of those who currently oppose the treaty. Groups like Parentalrights.org and Focus on the Family seem to view the promotion of rights for children as deleterious to the rights of parents, and ultimately destructive to the family. This is both frustrating and fascinating, since much of the treaty is aimed at bolstering and sustaining families in the midst of crisis, stating explicitly that “the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community.” How much more explicitly protective can you get?

    It seems to me that we are less concerned about protecting the children’s right to grow up in a nurturing and supporting family than we are about protecting the parent’s right to spank.

  • http://www.welcometomarriedlife.com Krista

    Somehow I knew about this treaty and that the US wouldn’t sign it. I think there is more fear that things will change in the rest of the world (in the future) and then we will have to be accountable to them for the things we wish to do in our own country. Kind of like the division of states and central government.
    While I don’t agree with the treaty in it’s entirety I definitely think you’re on to something with how Christians treat unborn babies versus after they are born. Maybe if we were willing to give up the option for premium health care and using every last possible treatment to save ourselves more children could have a reasonable quality of life. It begins to sound like rationing, but really it’s just that some people can afford it and some can’t… should universal health care be a right or is it a privilege?

  • http://www.ultranurd.net Nicolas Ward

    I was pretty depressed hearing the US/Somalia line, I think on BBC World last night as I was going to bed. It’s not so much being grouped with their record, but supposedly being the pinnacle of world democracy and being grouped with a country that has been in anarchy, with no functional central government, for almost two decades.

    I have a similar feeling about our ranking on human trafficking indices.

    Off topic, I have at times, perhaps insensitively, joked about how some of the Randites and anarcho-capitalists I know might find Somalia a great place to set up shop. No taxes! No regulation! Etc.

  • Nathan

    Re: “Happy Birthday Children’s Rights. I’m glad most of the world gets it. I hope someday we will too.”

    Really Richard? There’s a world of difference between signing a UN document and reality. I know for a fact that Uzbekistan has signed this document and has made no effort to comply. Children are wrapping up the cotton harvest as we speak. (http://www.registan.net/?s=cotton) They’re also one of many nations that has signed the UN’s universal bill of rights with one hand while severely persecuting religious freedom and freedom of the press. (http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?query=uzbekistan&religion=all&country=all&results=10)

    At least the United States is operating on some level of integrity on the issue of health care for children, as dissagreable as this all is. Of course kids should get the care they need. I don’t think the insurance companies need to be invited to the party, however. Instead of garunteing (requiring) insurance, wouldn’t it be better if we could just plain afford health care in the first place?

    • Kevin

      Do we more heavily weigh the execution of those who have ventured and failed over those who have abstained entirely? Sure, there are those for whom these treaties are worth less than the paper their printed on, but should that prevent the United States from agreeing on the fundamental premise of those treaties? It seems that what your proposing is an evaluation of the efficacy of a governing body and its ability to oversee and regulate the affairs of its constituent members–which is a worthwhile discussion, don’t get me wrong–but I read RD’s post as an examination of our intent as a nation. After reading through the articles in the fifteen or so pages of the document, I can’t imagine how we as a nation would agree only to the optional protocols (child soldiers and child prostitution/pornography). Not only is healthcare a minor issue within the document, but it is also wholly unspecific about how such care should be administered, just that it should be available.

  • raincitypastor

    good points Nathan… my only response, and it’s not a complete one, is to say that when people point to our failures to live up to our ideals of ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ for all our citizens, we appeal to our ideals as the reference point. What’s the harm in holding up an ideal here rather than refusing to do so? It’s a question… really.

    • Linda

      Why would a Christian, who lives in the USA be more concerned about America’s ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, than God’s glory and God’s will?

      Under CRC children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

      Christians are commanded to raise their children to know the one true God of the Bible, CRC would hinder that.

  • Ken

    My question would be, what does upholding an ideal mean to someone else that thinks the ideal a joke? I am very serious about that. When the other party involved truly cares nothing about the ideal in question, why submit to their judgment? Live up to the ideal, do not be held captive by it. Put this in the context of God’s Kingdom in relation to Satan’s. Does Satan care, really care about God’s ideals? Isn’t he simply an accuser?

    We can all admit to shortcomings within our society. However, let’s be honest about that and not worry about the accusations of other societies. Instead let us work to build the best framework for all human rights this age will allow without tying our hands behind our backs to take lashings from those who wish only to accuse. Sadly the majority of the UN is made up of thugs and posers. To submit to the judgment of such a body would be downright dangerous for all human rights. Signing such a treaty would mean we would probably hold ourselves to it, while much of the rest of the world snickered at our naive submissiveness and went right about their business as usual, oppressing the downtrodden.

    This is my continuing frustration with those that insist on accusing our nation of failure both here and abroad. This nation more than any other in the history of mankind has been a liberator from tyranny. I know we have failed many times. There are always failures. Just consider where our world might be without the commitment our nation has had to freedom (i.e. human rights) over the last century. I thank God for the opportunity, resources and willingness we have beyond all other nations to reach out to those in need.

  • Roy

    “Signing such a treaty would mean we would probably hold ourselves to it, while much of the rest of the world snickered at our naive submissiveness and went right about their business as usual, oppressing the downtrodden.”

    Wow. And I thought I was cynical.

    • Roy

      Oops – that was meant for Ken

    • Ken

      Cynical? Say what? These are simple truths that for the life of me I cannot understand why so many choose blindness. I am not cynical at all in that I believe we are blessed to be in a great nation with incredible possibilities. Yet there is a rising tide to turn back that potential and surrender to the powers of this world. I desire the freedom to continue to serve God as best His Body the Church may do so. Abdicating that responsibility and opportunity to powers and authorities outside of the Kingdom is a sad surrender to the rulers of this age. I genuinely fear for believers who put their hope in men and his institutions.

  • D

    Just to add a little fact to the discussion –and on the topic Nathan seemed to be alluding to, I work in pediatric healthcare and I have watched far too many children be arbitrarily discharged from services because insurance has deemed what is necessary for them to recover from trauma, brain sugery, cancer, etc. Often, this is before the child has learned to walk again. There is no effort to truly take care of these children. Later in their lives, these children will also face denial from insurance companies due to their “pre-existing condition” and they will pay higher premiums if they are able to gain insurance at all.

    In addition, our hospital receives approximately $8 per hour of therapeutic services give to that child’s rehabilitation. The “affording” healthcare is taking the profit out of it, and I can guarantee you that the providers are not those making a profit.

    In a group who believe in the Jesus who healed those who asked in faith, and a God who said he is for the jews and the gentiles, how can we look at another person and tell them they don’t “deserve” the same health care we have -based on occupation or any standards?? On what basis do you and I deserve health care?? Would Jesus deny healing based on the same judgements we do? I thank GOD the cross was not only for those we deem worthy.

    • Nathan

      This is what I’m interested in – what would healthcare centered on the Kingdom look like? What kind of alternative stuctures could Jesus followers put together to address all of this?

      • http://khanya.wordpress.com/ Steve

        A few months ago a group of us had a synchroblog on this topic, and you can see some of the posts listed here.

        You can also Google for “anargyri” or “unmercenary doctors” to see some Christian responses.

  • Wendi Putzke

    Richard! I so miss your sermons and your insights. I just read this post and it is the BEST post EVER! Okay, I know those are strong words… But, I have been trying to articulate for years why I feel so strongly about socialized health care, especially for children and you did it in so few paragraphs! I had no idea about this treaty, but as soon as I read we were in the company of Somalia, I felt sick knowing their history with women and children.
    Thank you so much for posting!

  • Linda

    Ten things you need to know about the structure of the CRC:

    •It is a treaty which creates binding rules of law. It is no mere statement of altruism.1.
    •Its effect would be binding on American families, courts, and policy-makers.2.
    •Children of other nations would not be impacted or helped in any direct way by our ratification.3.
    •The CRC would automatically override almost all American laws on children and families because of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause in Article VI.4.
    •The CRC has some elements that are self-executing, while others would require implementing legislation. Federal courts would have the power to determine which provisions were self-executing.5.
    •The courts would have the power to directly enforce the provisions that are self-executing.6.
    •Congress would have the power to directly legislate on all subjects necessary to comply with the treaty. This would constitute the most massive shift of power from the states to the federal government in American history.7.
    •A committee of 18 experts from other nations, sitting in Geneva, has the authority to issue official interpretations of the treaty which are entitled to binding weight in American courts and legislatures. This effectively transfers ultimate authority for all policies in this area to this foreign committee.8.
    •Under international law, the treaty overrides even our Constitution.9.
    •Reservations, declarations, or understandings intended to modify our duty to comply with this treaty will be void if they are determined to be inconsistent with the object and purpose of the treaty.10.

    Ten things you need to know about the substance of the CRC:

    •Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.13.
    •The best interest of the child principle would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.14.
    •A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.15.
    •According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.16.
    •Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.17.
    •Christian schools that refuse to teach “alternative worldviews” and teach that Christianity is the only true religion “fly in the face of article 29″ of the treaty.18.
    •Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.19.
    •Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.20. •Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.11.•A murderer aged 17 years and 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.12.

    For more information go to http://www.parentalrights.org

    • Kevin

      There is a lot of information here, Linda, but I can’t see if and where you’ve made any kind of assertion about what all of this means to you. Are the ten things that we’re to know about the CRC good or bad? Is it wrong for children to decide what they will believe, or to have a voice within the family? Is it wrong for children to have leisure time, to be exposed to different worldviews? Is it wrong for children to take charge of their sexuality or to not be spanked?

      • Linda

        A Christian if they have all the facts about the CRC should be against it. I am not in favor of CRC because it erodes parental rights.

      • Linda

        Kevin – stop listening to the devil’s lies, CRC is one of them…

      • Kevin

        Linda, contrary to what you might think, I have not been listening to any lies, from the devil or otherwise. What I have done is read through the CRC from start to finish (even the boring protocol) and what I have read is a document which fundamentally promotes not only the rights of children to be raised in harmonious and healthy homes, but the rights of parents to be actively involved in this process, as well. Parents are regarded with the utmost respect and acknowledged for the vital role that they play in the a child’s development. Furthermore, the document goes to some lengths to insure and protect the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, so long as their methods don’t infringe upon or diminish the rights of their children.

        Linda, I am a Christian in good conscience, and I support the CRC, finding in it no flaw so great that it could not be amended (Article 50).

        By the way, thanks for the Keith Green; I find that I’m becoming a fan.

      • Linda

        Kevin you are believing the devil’s lies, like the current one going around “that it takes a village to raise a child”, CRC promotes this lie. Children are best raised by their parents, God Himself says so.

      • Kevin

        Again, Linda, you are getting ahead of yourself: I have had no interactions with the Devil. I have tried to emphasize the fact that the CRC promotes not only the fundamental importance of children being raised by their parents but stresses accountability between families, as well. You don’t seem willing to engage in dialog around that fact, nor provide any kind of substantial argument to the contrary. At this point, it seems that the basis of your understanding on this issue is fear, and there is nothing that I can say to convince you otherwise.

      • Linda

        Parents cannot force their children to truly believe in one religion over another religion, but they have the right to raise them in whatever religion they want. The children can practice whatever religion they want after they are grown and leave the parents.

        The Bible says that children are not to take charge of their sexuality and they are to be spanked. It is wrong to not take God’s word seriously.

      • Glenda

        She’s right, you know. If you don’t spank children they turn into little demons. Don’t even get me started on getting them wet or feeding them after midnight…

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Hey Kevin,

        Linda is right, man, because she’s based her view on the Bible. What do you think of this verse? Is God immoral?

        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2021:18-21&version=NIV

        What about this one?

        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+13:24&version=NIV

        What about this one?

        http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy%2031:10-13&version=NIV

        Sounds like child abuse and theocratic intolerance, if taken according to the CRC! I’ve got a blog on the way (you can see my site by clicking on my name) about the CRC and its anti-Biblical stances, as well as the stuff Linda mentioned (although mine isn’t as extensive as hers). I mean, we can argue about this stuff all we want, but if God really is the God of the universe, we need to listen to what he says, not just debate about the merits of function.

        -J

    • http://khanya.wordpress.com/ Steve

      Instead of assertions about this document, it might be better to see the document itself.

  • Linda

    • Hannah

      Hi Linda, you said that the quote “it takes a village to raise a family” is a lie? Do you think that having other caring adults besides the parents in a kids life is a bad thing? I think parents like to think they are everything that their kid needs and at times that is true but as kids grow older they need indepedence and other adults, such as youth pastors, mentors, family friends and more can be for their kids what there parents can’t always be. Of course parents should play the main role in teaching and discipline but to think ther need nothing besides you is pretty selfish and ignorant. There is even tons of research that shows the more caring supportive adults a kid has in their life the they are more likely to be healthy and to stay away from dangorous activities like drugs or sex or violence. So while I agree that parents play a massive role in raising a family the idea that it takes a community to raise a child is not a lie from the devil. In fact I would say with all due respect that raising your kids alone without any community is a lie from the devil.

      • Linda

        “Village” really means the government, when that phrase is used.

      • Hannah

        Every context I can find on that saying refers to community or society and not the government. I think most people agree that the government should not raise children.

  • Ken

    Thank you, Linda for the background on the CRC. That was my point exactly in saying we would be held to someone else’s ideals. What most fascinates me about this discussion is how readily parents are willing to abdicate their position to government, whether our own or an international one. I remember a message in church some years ago where the speaker said, “I’m from North Carolina. Down in the South kids didn’t grow up, they were raised.” I have never understood those who wish to give an equal vote to their children. They’re not ready for so many decisions in life simply because they don’t have the life experience and reference points they will when they are older. God has given believers no higher calling than to RAISE their children. But then there is a growing movement in our nation to surrender so many of our duties in life that perhaps this should not surprise us after all.

    • Kevin

      Ken, even after viewing the above video you still held to someone else’s ideals. Those that produced this video have a very specific agenda, but their opinions inaccurately represent the contents, powers, and scope of the CRC. In no way does the document ask that parents abdicate their rights, nor does it promote the presence of government within the family or grant any government such power. This video and the above information, although listing some of the contents of the CRC, are incredibly narrow in their focus and the conclusions drawn pervert the intention of the document. The CRC was drafted not to infringe upon the rights of American citizens but to protect the rights of those who are explicitly denied them, lacking not only the right to “grow up” but to be “raised”, as well. Those at ParentalRights.org are welcome to their own opinions and agendas, but I urge you to read the document yourself. No is called to surrender their duties; they are called to a higher level of accountability.

    • http://gdargan.blogspot.com Geoff

      Actually, you’re incorrect. God’s highest calling, given by Jesus, is to “follow me”. (Jesus speaking) Raising children is an important responsibility, but it is not the believer’s highest calling.

      • Linda

        What does it mean to “follow Jesus”, does it mean to give parent’s God-given responsibilty to raise their children to the government? No, it does not. CRC gives the government too much authority to abuse the right of parents. Under CRC children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.

  • http://gdargan.blogspot.com Geoff

    Here’s an idea… instead of arguing about the details of the CRC, how about the U.S. just gives health care to all its children, since we apparently care so much about children? Oh, I know, I know…. it’s c-o-m-p-l-i-c-a-t-e-d….

  • http://khanya.wordpress.com/ Steve

    The recent Australian apology for its recent child trafficking with Britain shows how ignoring children’s rights destroys family life.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Hey brother Dahlstrom! Did you actually read the declaration? It’s one of the most anti-Biblical, anti-Christian things ever drafted. If God’s theocratic Israel were around today, they would have been severely persecuted by the UN, as any Christian household bound by this declaration is today. You might as well throw the book of Proverbs out the window, because it’s the antithesis of half the document.

    I know you have good intentions here, but I think you made the wrong choice. And by the way, I’ve got a blog on the way about it.

  • raincitypastor

    Thanks all… for the thoughtful comments. Jeremy asked if I’d actually read the document and the answer is no. As I said at the beginning… I was merely ‘musing’… I think this has been a good discussion.

    As I’ve shared at other times, this isn’t a teaching blog, though I times I reserve the right to declare definitively. I teach on Sundays and elsewhere. Instead it’s ‘musings’… thinking out loud and offering a platform for discussion. My basis for posting at all was pondering why we haven’t signed this document… and wondering if it had something to do with the requirement that health care be provided for all children as a fundamental right.

  • Ken

    Oh I’ve been duped. Where did you ever say anything like… oh there it is right in the first line! *Smiles* Passions sure run deep whenever social issues are touched upon by believers these days. Perhaps we have discovered another one of those paradoxes, Richard.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Hey brother Dahlstrom!

    I finally finished my research on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I’ve got to tell you that I think you’ve made a very silly error in supporting it. I think if you’d read a little more into the CRC, you probably wouldn’t have posted this blog =) As such: haha!

    Here’s what I found in my research.

    http://americanclarity.com/2009/11/27/how-the-un-disguises-totalitarian-evil-as-childrens-rights/

    Hope this scares the pants off ya, as it should. I don’t think any Christian person could possibly agree with half the statutes set forth in the CRC, and I know you made an honest mistake. Anyway, hope all’s well!

    • Kevin

      I don’t think RD made any kind of silly error or mistake, honest or otherwise, and–for all the fear and slanderous hyperbole of your arguments–I agree with him. I am a follower of Christ and I see a vision of the Kingdom of God in the efforts of that document.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Of course you would accuse my arguments as being fear-based: I am arguing against a court enforceable treaty, which dictates how families should be run. A major problem with your statement is that liberals–like you–spend a lot of time arguing that their opponents are utilizing fear, when all arguments against new laws are ALWAYS based upon the law’s possible negative ramifications (also known as “fear of what would happen”). As such, the suggestion that “fear” is not a valid response to overreaching liberal legislation is absurd, as your rejection of my statement has to do with the fact that I am providing a counter-argument. Why don’t you come up with something more specific, like how I got the details wrong (which I didn’t, and proved so by providing links and page numbers) or how I’m being illogical. That might make more sense.

        Second, pardon me for saying this, but supporting laws which allow children to explore their sexuality (as you said above) sounds incredibly perverted. What kind of Christian says that?

        The Bible clearly states that sexuality is only to be explored within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman, children are to respect their parents under the promise of a long life, and that the kingdom of God is going to be run by Jesus–the enemy of the Devil and the most intolerant of sin. It was Jesus who gave the law through Moses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and I don’t remember anything in the old or new testament about banning spanking or giving children freedom of religion/speech/sexuality/assembly. Suggesting the kingdom of God will be like this is incredibly demonic.

        In fact–if you are indeed a Christian–you must search the Bible and eventually find that it contains exactly the opposite of what you proposed. Unless of course you don’t actually believe the Bible is the word of God.

    • http://khanya.wordpress.com/ Steve

      There have been plenty of comment to say that it is “evil”, and these are substantiated, not by reference to the document itself, but to other comments saying that it is evil.

      How about referring to a web site where we can read the actual Declaration?

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        See it for yourself, dude. I didn’t mention this earlier, but article 13 actually keeps parents from banning offensive music from their home. Haha!

        http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm

  • Kevin

    You have a good question, Jeremy: what kind of Christian am I? Although it may be your perception that I am a liberal-pervert-heretic-demoniac, I am none of these, and I remain thankfully undefined by the ways in which I am perceived. The point of my comment was to address your consternation over the type of Christian that could support the CRC, and to invite you to consider that those who follow Christ and support this document are not mistaken nor have they been mislead; they are simply not you. What kind of Christian am I? Simply, I am a different sort than yourself, and–however unique and distinct I may be as a manifestation of God’s created will–I am your brother through the presence and power of the Spirit. We worship the same God and we read the same scriptures but we read them through different eyes, different minds, different hearts.

  • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

    Yeah, maybe I was a bit rough with the language, as I’m sure if we were face-to-face I would have been a bit softer.

    The point I’m trying to get across is that Jesus is a real person who made real statements, and although He died for you and for me, and our sins have been “nailed to the cross” as Paul would say, He gave us a very clear record of His personality and the kinds of things He favors and disfavors. Because of this, we can be pretty sure that Jesus isn’t a moral postmodernist, and He certainly doesn’t favor children exploring their sexuality or being “liberated” from their parents. Just because Jesus saves doesn’t make everything we do morally upright, and we should at the very least care about this.

    You say that you are a follower of Jesus. But being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that we both think He is cool and that we like some of His statements: it means taking His leadership–ALL His real statements, in the Old Testament and the New–as the word of God, admitting He is right, loving the things He loves, and hating the things He hates. You seem to have discarded much of His character not on grounds of ignorance, but out of disobedience. At the very least I have to call you on it so that you don’t lead others astray, and I have to ask you to repent.

    I have to be honest with you because our spiritual nature is not a joke: Jesus is not a joke, sin is not a joke, and the things you spoke of are directly mentioned in the Bible–through Christ’s own revelations–as being sinful. While I am no perfect man (only saved by grace), ignoring the fact that you misapplied God’s character to something He spoke VERY negatively of and then had to die for would have been too morally bankrupt for any Christian to consider doing. So while I’m not asking you to be perfect, I’m asking you to look at the word itself and make a decision about whether or not you will at least agree with Him. We all owe Him that.

    As such, I hope you are my brother, but to be honest this conversation leaves me feeling like you’re more concerned with your feelings than what Jesus Himself said. In my personal opinion, something is seriously fishy here.

    • Kevin

      Thanks for giving what feels like a well thought out reply, Jeremy. Much like you, I also believe that Jesus was a real person, having a distinct historical context and a distinct place within the chain of causality, and I take his teaching and instruction very seriously. I take him so seriously that, more than Solomon or any Old Testament sage, I ponder what Jesus meant when he asked of his own mother “Who are my mother and my brothers…whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt. 12:46-50; Mk. 3:31-35; Lk. 8:19-21). Obviously, there is in his words that same spiritual connection which we previously spoke of, that all who do the will of God are united in a familial bond, but I wonder if there is something deeper in Christ’s words. Was Christ proposing a different vision for family structures than what we have known before or since, one which is not defined by precedent or even blood but by heart and spirit? This question does not mean that I discard or ignore any passage of scripture, no matter how minute or obscure, nor does it mean that I am actively disobeying God’s will. It means that the movement of the Spirit is informing my understanding of family in new ways and that I do not yet fully comprehend the character of God or of God’s Kingdom (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). Such interactions with the Spirit could be considered feelings rather than reason, but the words of Christ hang like a limp sail unless blown and buffeted by the winds of the Spirit, and I feel those winds moving me in ways I cannot understand (John 3:8).

      Also, as an aside, having worked for several years in the seafood industry, I know well from experience that those who go fishing–either for men or mackerel–often smell of fish.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        Kevin, I’m glad to know that you carefully consider the words of Jesus and His implications. However, when taking Jesus’ statement about the family into question, I think the most important thing His followers can do it take it in context. Especially when such radical new directions could be taken in light of His statement.

        The first thing we should ask ourselves is the following: since family are those who do the will of God, what is “doing the will of God?” The Scriptures clearly show that doing the will of God is having faith in The Son, meaning that we accept His condemnation of our sin, His sacrifice for our sin, and His words and teachings as absolute and uncontradictory truth. It means that we accept His claim on Godhood.

        So then if we must accept the will of God, we have to accept that the entire Bible is His: it is His revelation throughout the course of time. When He commanded us to love one another, He stated that the application of love was defined through the law and the prophets, not in spite of them (Matthew 22:34-40). Reversing the order, if someone asks you how to define the law and the prophets, they are God’s command to love one another. Thus if someone asks you to love someone, you cannot love someone outside the moral boundaries set forth in the old testament: allowing fornication is not loving someone, discarding familial standards is not loving someone, abandoning corporal discipline is not loving someone, and not training a child to fear God is the ultimate act of not loving them. If any action defined as “love” contradicts Christ’s old testament commandments, it cannot be loving. Our emotionally-based dismissal of sins is therefore not loving, no matter how we feel about it.

        Now, you are correct when you say the kingdom of heaven will be structurally different than what we have here on earth, and I agree. In heaven people will not be married nor given in marriage, but will be like the angels (Matthew 22:23-32); we will no longer be sons and daughter of each other, but rather sons and daughters of the Most High, and brothers and sisters with one another. For the meantime, though, we have Christ’s law of love, and that law of love is defined by taking care of each other within specific familial boundaries and heirarchy He already set for us. We thus understand that although the earthly son will one day become a heavenly brother, they both have very strictly defined responsibilities and moral applications of their statuses. Understanding your relationship with Christ does not relieve children of their respect toward their parents, or relieve wives of their duty and respect toward their husbands; rather, it strengthens these positions.

        Without these boundaries we find ourselves lost in a sea of emotions and opinions, wondering how we screwed up and why our churches and families are falling apart. We wonder where justice and charity and mercy begin and end, and when to confront a sinning brother as stated in Matthew 18:15-17. Luckily for us, Christ is not the author of confusion.

        And that brings me to my next point: the Holy Spirit is like a spotlight, as it brings glory and attention and detail to the character and supreme righteousness of Christ (John 16:5-15). It does not shatter old doctrines, but rather highlights Him and His words. It does not restructure morality, it deepens a sense and respect of it. If we’re not careful to honor the word of God, we can end up like any of the Holy Spirit cults like Mormonism, in which the “burning of the bosom” takes precedence over both Biblical understanding and the very character of Christ. This is how the Devil gets us: through carefully placed lies and emotions. He is not a fool, and He’s been doing this a long time; we must remain on guard. If the “Holy Spirit” tells you to abandon a moral standard Christ already set for us, we can be absolutely sure we are not being spoken to by Him.

        Anyway, I’ll be praying for ya, buddy. I hope this letter finds you well :)

      • Kevin

        I appreciate the effort that you put into this, Jeremy; I can feel a genuine regard for our dialog. I can also now see that you and I are coming at this from drastically different angles on nearly every level of this debate. For all of our differences, though, we seem to be hinged around the same point, and that is devotion and submission to God. I don’t fully understand your positions or how it is that you came by them, but I do recognize them as honest, earnest, and true. Even though I do not feel as though I can share in that same position, I do feel like I can trust you to be at my flank, and I at yours. I would much rather be in ardent disagreement with someone who brings their whole self to the debate than those that come at it obliquely, venturing little and clinging to the perimeter. Well met, Jeremy.

      • http://www.americanclarity.com Jeremy

        That’s very kind of you, Kevin, and I must assure you that you are by no means my enemy, though we disagree (Ephesians 6:12). That title is reserved for the Devil, and you are clearly not him, although I have to admit that I’m completely puzzled by your response.

        I gave you the source of my stances: they were from Jesus. I explained to you in no uncertain terms–using scripture–how He is God, how He defined love as the sum of the law and prophets, how He as God is the author of the law and prophets, and how He designated familial roles to us through the law and the prophets. As a person who claims to follow Christ, the proper response from you would be to try and show how what I explained isn’t what He meant; not necessarily to validate both our stances as equally useful to the cause of Christ, as they are almost polar opposites, and one of us is clearly wrong and promoting something no less than heresy (though we are hopefully both saved by grace).

        But once again, you are not the enemy here, and I’m glad you have the same stance toward me. At the very least, I hope this conversation has brought a little light into someone else’s life :)

      • Kevin

        Jeremy, I want to respond here, but I think I’ll take it over to RD’s new post and tie it in there. I see you over there…

  • Ken

    Kevin,

    I would make the assumption that to you the US Constitution is also a living and breathing document, needing to be revisited and reinterpreted as time passes and man evolves (for lack of a better word). Therein lies the very core of the progressive mindset. Everything is open for a new revelation and interpretation to suit the present age. Therein also lies the extreme danger of which we should all rightly be on guard. Perhaps the most ironic of all this current rhetoric is how there has been a shift away from the moral majority attempting to reform the political scene to the progressives pushing for the governmental solution to life’s problems. And yet this is not really so strange in that it is simply once again men trying to usurp God’s position of both authority and resolution of this world’s brokenness person by person. I might point out that Jesus did not spend His time on earth pushing for Rome to save mankind by providing better health coverage or stopping slavery, war and oppression. Indeed His message was not to the power structure of His age then any more than to our age now. This world will pass despite all the efforts of man. Glory to God for His salvation. Let us stay focused on that prize.

    • Kevin

      Ken, it would be a great assumption and supreme condescension to unnecessarily superimpose progressive notions upon my thoughts and values. In order to avoid similar assumptions, I’ll pose to you a question: what is your position in all of this? What is at stake? Perhaps I’ve got you confused, here, but it seems that you are of two minds. Earlier you praised this country for being a “liberator from tyranny” and a bulwark of human rights, taking a position of strong advocacy and standing up for its many successes despite its various failures; here, you seem to be comparing this country to first-century Rome, standing apart from it and its people. Can this nation not be a hope in this world, regardless of what Christ did or did not say? Although Christ’s message failed to fall in explicit terms on the issues of governmentally regulated health care, the point of this conversation is about a very specific and very present issue which pertains to that very matter. Yes, this world will pass despite all of our efforts, but in the same manner will glory be given to God. Whether or not me make the choice, we are being given the opportunity to participate in God’s plan of redemption that is the vision of the Kingdom of God, the inheritors of which are precisely the children of this world (Mt. 19:14).

  • Ken

    How come liberals and progressives are seldom comfortable when they’re identified as such? If it looks like a duck…

    • Kevin

      Perhaps because they are reacting the in the same manner as anyone who has had a label injudiciously placed upon them, or perhaps because such labels are so rarely given out of love but rather a will to objectify, and out of a desire to assuage the discomfort of the one doing the giving.

      • Ken

        Injudicious? Objectifying? I really struggle having a discussion with anyone that isn’t comfortable in who they are.
        Why are you choosing to deny connection to those with whom you agree? Your statements and positions are clearly from the progressive camp. If it is unfair to say so… well then there can be no real conversation. I know who I am and where I stand and it’s pretty solid ground. Label me as you wish, it doesn’t shake my foundations or dissuade me from dialog. I hope your positions lead you in a good direction in life, but I find few people like you that have a truly positive outlook for the present or the future. It is a dark world we live in, but I see the light in it now and know with certainty that God alone is responsible for that light and all future hope.

  • Kevin

    Ken, I am very comfortable with who I am, and who I am seems to still be relatively unknown to you and will remain so as long as you rely on your assumptions. As far as your being shaken or dissuaded from the dialog, your response to my questioning your position on this matter was to posit a rhetorical question about the mindset of liberals and progressives. If you want to be involved in a dialog, then by all means be involved, but bring an opinion for pity’s sake.

  • http://khanya.wordpress.com/ Steve

    For those who find the assertions and counter assertions in the comments confusing, it is better to read the actual text of the Convention on the Rights of the Child than some of the opinions that have been expressed in some of the comments.


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