Sunday, August 28, 2005

My First Anniversary

(Posted simultaneously at Dadmanly)

I'll be flap doodled.

I was searching for an old post I remember from early on, and it turns out yesterday was the One Year Anniversary of my very first post on my blog.

I feel like I just graduated from blogfancy to blogolescence.

(And it coincides with a move this week from Marauding Marsupial to Large Mammal on the The Truth Laid Bare ecosystem. So I'm feeling decidedly all teenage bear cub frisky.)

Blogger shows me with 298 posts on Dadmanly; my companion site Gladmanly shows 64 posts, and Debate Space, the now dormant debate blog I share with the Liberal Avenger, shows 18 posts. So I have an average output for this past year of about 1 post per day, with an average of about 100 hits per day for the year. (Thanks Mom, but you can stop now.)

I have just over 35,000 visits, and over 50,000 page views in the portion of that year I had Site Meter installed.

As to my objectives, I'd say I met them, and then some. I've "met" some great MILBLOGGERS, such as Greyhawk (and Mrs. Greyhawk) and Mudville Gazette, Blackfive and Mustang 23, some fellow Christian Bloggers such as John at Blogotional and Ella's Dad at Ragged Edges, and even some new friends who have encouraged, such as Arthur Chrenkoff, Bill Roggio at Fourth Rail and Joe Katzman at Winds of Change. I'v even had some great, regular commenters such as Retread, RT, Kat, Papa Ray, and many others.

I'm sure as I think about it, I'll think of more, so friends, please don't feel left out.

I've written just about as much as I did as an Analyst and Reporter during my three years Active Duty in Germany, and this time, it's all unclassified. A lot more fun to write. And (hopefully), more enjoyable to read.

Here's how I introduced myself a year ago:
As if there aren't enough voices out here in the wilderness, I thought I'd try this whole blogging thing out. I don't have anything to say just now -- nor a lot of time to spend coming up with anything clever.

My intent is to weigh in from time to time on various matters military and politic, and invite response from any interested party who can abide by these simple rules:
1. Interpersonal public communication is best conducted with intelligence, rationality, and humor. (Although any one of these qualities goes a long way.)
2. Juvenile name calling and insults are immediate grounds for ignoring you altogether.
3. It's my blog, if you don't like it start your own.
4. Technology is a terrific thing, but good literature (and great writing) is eternal, regardless of the media. Try to contribute (positively).
5. I can't think of anything else. Let me know if you think of anything.

Dadmanly, New Blogger
Thanks so much to all my readers, long standing and newly arrived. I have very much enjoyed the dialogs -- even the aggravating ones -- and been very much humbled by all the terrific support and encouragement.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Christian Carnival is Up!

(A belated announcement)

Christian Carnival is up over at Wallo World. A few highlights:
Northern ‘burbs blog presents A Modern Babel, which “discusses similarities between our pride in our scientific achievements in matters of life & death and the Tower of Babel story in Gen. 11.”

Another Man’s Meat presents Pickin’ a Fight, in which the author says “a trip to the mall is all it takes to have your eyes opened to the realities of contemporary American culture.”

Ella's Dad at Ragged Edges presents Where’s The Meat? Ella's Dad writes, “As my Wife and I begin searching for a new church home here in our new locale, we’ve started noticing the messages on church marquee signs more and more.”

There's also a link to Part Two of my Eulogy For Lincoln.

Take a ride at the Carnival and be blessed!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Love the Sinner ...

I came across a very remarkable story from a young woman, a Christian, that befriended a very troubled young woman while in college. Her experiences with this woman taught her something very important about Christ, about how He would have us respond with love.

Parts of it can be very upsetting, course language is partially covered (but still apparent), and what the young woman shares is very tragic and upsetting.

But I feel led to share it, and leave it to your discretion if at this moment, or perhaps along the way, you might consider it too upsetting or graphic to continue.

My apologies in advance if I have in any way offended any of you, my good friends.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Righteousness and Faith

The second chapter of Paul’s letter to Roman believers concluded with the argument that he that would be approved of God is he that is “circumcised” inwardly, rather than outwardly. This refers to those who keep the righteous requirements of the law, whether or not they are physically circumcised, and thereby might receive praise not from men but from God.

In the third chapter, Paul continues his discussion of what constitutes righteousness, and what righteousness means to God.
God's Faithfulness

1What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.
3What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? 4Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written:
"So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge."
5But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7Someone might argue, "If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?" 8Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved. (Romans 3:1-8)
While Gentiles have been invited into God’s inheritance by faith in Jesus, Paul assures the Romans that those Jewish believers in Christ have a great advantage. God entrusted his very words with His chosen people. Yet surely there were Jews who did not have faith, but Paul asserts that only serves to highlight the perfect righteousness of God. It isn’t any aspect of God that causes us to stray, nor do our acts of disobedience in any way affect God’s faithfulness to us. For He knows our character, and our faults.

God shows His righteousness despite how we respond to Him. Paul quotes Psalms 51:4, and poses the rhetorical question, that if our unrighteousness by contrast proves God’s righteousness, shouldn’t that service to God cause Him to spare His wrath?

Ends don’t ever necessarily justify means. A positive outcome in no way proves the righteousness of what it took to get there. This is similar to Paul’s warning about tempting Grace. Once we are saved, we may be tempted to think that we can knowingly continue in sin, with the knowledge that Jesus forgave us once for all. That flouts God’s law, and may very well try God’s patience.

God’s mercy exists before and beyond any effort of our part to obey. It exists before and beyond our failures and falling short. For this is God who declares his kindnesses and tender mercies.
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Contemporary Christian artists Casting Crowns say it best in their song, Who Am I:
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are
It is not because of who we are, nor what we do for God. It is what He did with the sacrifice of His son, and His essential character.
No One is Righteous

9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
The law condemned us. None of us can live perfectly under God’s law. Under the law, even the slightest departure from the law brought condemnation. None of us by our own accord or the total of our works can stand in God’s perfect presence without the Savior being our mediator and covering for our sin.

We may be successful for a time, we may be accounted righteous by fellow men and women, but in the end our imperfections make a life lived wholly under the law worthless, without the atoning sacrifice once for all. That was the lesson of the children of Israel. And that is the point of the law, as Paul presents it, that the law condemns, convicts, “so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”

The law, and our shame in falling short, are part of the way in which God communicates His plan of salvation to those who would be His children. We must find faith, for we cannot be justified under God without it.
Righteousness Through Faith

21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:21-31)
There is a new work under the sun with the arrival of Messiah. A work foretold, a work in existence with God at the beginning of the world – “the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

Jesus had to serve as the sacrifice, or God’s justice would be unfinished. Paul here declares that God had left sins unpunished, and that the sacrifice of His Son demonstrated the necessity of His judgment, as well as the depth of His mercy in providing the sacrifice.

This is what is spoken of in Hebrews, where:
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” 19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
We need to accept our sinful state. We, like Abraham, need to confess that we fall short of the glory of God, that we none of us are righteous, that we should all be laid out like Abraham’s son Isaac. And that is when God can work salvation in His mercy, and at the same time demonstrate His perfect justice as well in requiring the sacrifice for sin, sin that is vanquished in the atoning death of His Son Jesus.

Faith that we have salvation as a gift from God confirms what would have been our penalty under true justice, and reassures us that the penalty has been paid in full once for all. And by so acknowledging, we confirm and uphold the law, that in our own power, we are incapable of fulfilling perfectly. And that is God’s greatest mercy, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Christian Carnival is Up!

This week's Christian Carnival is up over at All Kinds of Time.

My friend Lance at Ragged Edges has a heartfelt tribite to the church he's had to leave with his move, and some important information about the situation in the Sudan.

Robin Lee at Write Thinking has a wonderful and very timely piece on the Potter's Hands. I happened to be in an IM with Mrs. Dadmanly, she was sharing our uncertainties to what to do next, and I read Robin's piece. Sent it along, the Mrs. and I were both blessed tonight!

John Bambenek explains in a very thoughtful post why morality and a community-minded population is needed to maintain a free society.

And last but not least, there's a post each from Gladmanly and Dadmanly.

Stop by the Carnival, and be blessed!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Divine Evolution

Frederick Turner is on a mission, and he thinks he’s reached a point of transformation in his ongoing debate. I’m not sure the folks most heatedly in conversation with him agree, but I find his approach a refreshing one to consider.

In his continuing series of articles on Evolution, Turner has now hypothesized a synthetic framework (as in “synthesized,” rather than “ersatz”) for reconciling Evolution and Intelligence Design in Divine Evolution, up at Tech Central Station.

In addition to mentioning his colleagues at Tech Central Station, Lee Harris, James Pinkerton, and Nick Schulz, Turner mentions an ongoing dialogue at Natural History magazine.

Turner catalogs some areas in which some Intelligent Design proponents are willing to more or less accept some (theoretical) aspects of Evolution, as well as other, broader conceptions found in current astrophysical research. He cites as examples "Old-earth" Intelligent Design proponents, who “accept that the universe may have started 13 billion years ago with a Big Bang, that the Earth is at least 4 billion years old, and that "microevolution", the diversification of species into strains and breeds, can occur through selection.” Or those who are willing to accept that “different species and genera can diverge from a common ancestor,” although with the caveat that major transformations would require act of the Divine, “literally a miracle.”

Turner is hopeful that these developments in the debate may signal the readiness for a conversation, “a fruitful inquiry that includes good biological science but does not exclude the insights of other disciplines.”

Turner sees a major problem for those of us who believe in a Divine Creation, but who nevertheless aren’t ready to discount (out of hand) the findings of science:
If evolution, as 99% at least of all scientists who have studied biology agree, is quite capable of producing all the life forms of the world without outside intervention in the process, what need is there for God?
Quite. Now as a born again Christian, I have come to know first hand the reality and trustworthiness of the Word of God in the matters leading up to, prompting and confirming my conversion, and with my witness since salvation, with the many wonderful ways God reminds me of His ever-presence, and proximity. But I am a modern man, I have studied (some) science, I am prepared to concede much in evidence in the modern world that would appear to contradict both traditions and certain interpretations of Biblical text. But I strive for consistency and reconciliation, as I believe Turner does, because that is my faith, and it informs my reflections, as it must.

Turner introduces several premises upon which God can be logically intuited without contradiction, and then discusses problems with these conceptions from both the creationist and materialist perspectives. The first is what Turner states cosmologists call the "goldilocks" problem. This term captures the concept that many essential conditions for the creation of the Universe – of those observable by science – had to be “just so” (not too hot, not too cold), or “we would not be here to observe it.”

Turner discounts William Paley’s analogy for divine design based on finding a watch. Scientists now think a staggering complexity can be randomly evolved “given time, variation, selection, the marvelous versatility of the genome and proteome, and the interaction of genome with environment in embryonic and fetal development.

Turner suggests a better analogy, given the state of today’s science, one that is more compelling in suggesting design:
But if the true analogy of the watch is not the eye or the flagellum, but the initial parameters of the universe itself, all packed into the atom-sized singularity of the first moment of the Big Bang, perfectly and uniquely fitted to produce orchids and finches and sperm whales and human beings after 13 billion years, one begins to wonder. Doesn't that look a heck of a lot like design? Some cosmological physicists, in an attempt to avoid the question, now postulate an enormous number of different universes being produced at random by the big bang, nearly all of which wouldn't be fitted to produce life and mind, and the fact that we are aboard this one, which is so fitted, is not so strange. But this explanation violates the philosophical principle of Occam's razor, which is that one shouldn't make one's explanation wildly more complicated and inexplicable than what one is trying to explain. Why should the big bang be perfectly fitted to produce trillions of universes, one of which was bound to produce life? If there were trillions of big bangs, just one of which could produce universes, one of which could produce life, the same problem arises. Turtles all the way down. An uncreated creator is simpler at least, and it is not intellectual suicide to postulate one.

This is the problem for anti-design thinkers: though evolution, once it is set in motion, mightn't require further design, design certainly looks like the least implausible explanation for the beginning of the process itself.
But Turner doesn’t let the Creationist off the hook either:
What would we say about a creator who started a universe with the evident intention of producing life and intelligence, but who needed to step in every few billion years, or every few seconds, to fix the process, rewrite the program, give the actors new lines, touch up the brushstrokes of the painting, seize the conductor's baton and introduce a new melody?
Well, say the theists -- doesn't that leave us with a god who, having as the Bible says taken a holiday on the seventh day, no longer concerns himself with his creation? This, they say, is the deist position, with its uncomfortable implication that our god is a deus absconditus, an absconding god, an otiose deity, no longer interested in the world enough to bother giving us moral guidance or comfort in our mortal pain.

Turner raises yet another interesting twist in his debate, ushering in the Founders as character references for the synthesis he proposes.

The universe they envisaged, of "nature and of nature's God", as it says in our Declaration of Independence, is distinguished by its overriding quality of freedom. It's a hands-off universe, in which things do what they want, what is in their nature to want, rather than one that is micromanaged by a an external deity who forces things to happen the way he wants, concealing his manipulations as he goes, like a devious boss in an office.

There is a part of this that speaks truth to the Believer. If God controls our decisions of faith and preordains them, then are we really the agent of our own salvation? We are free to choose, and free to reject. God may know which choice we will make, but the choice is still ours.

Turner rejects the notion that such conceptions mean that God is remote and uncaring. Rather, he suggests it may be that God is all around us, all the time. That is certainly consistent with my reading of the Bible and the evidences of my Christian walk. Turner asks the question that is at the heart of his suggested synthesis:
What if God is always intimately here, at hand, in the very workings of nature itself, in the sun and moon, the ox and the ass, the human body, as Saint Francis believed? God would certainly be remote and detached if he were outside nature, and did not mess with the process of evolutionary history once begun. But if God is within nature, and the free creative evolutionary process is his very intention working itself marvelously out -- as Emerson thought -- then he would be very close indeed, maybe even uncomfortably so.
I have often thought that God created the universe in a pattern reflected in Genesis, but perhaps consistent also with what modern science attempts to pin down as biological mechanisms. What if evolution itself is an attempt to describe the manner in which God created life, in all its astonishing abundance and incredible variety?

And Turner suggests a trace of the finger of God elsewhere in contemporary models of biology:
Here is a way in which a "God of Nature" might be seen as intimately involved with our lives. We now know that nonlinear dynamical systems -- essentially, systems whose elements all cause and control each other's actions, and in which a single line of cause and effect is impossible to untangle -- have "strange attractors". Strange attractors are graphically demonstrable forms that govern the evolution of the dynamical system, but do it in a way that is not predictable. Some attractors, like the Lorenz attractor, govern lots of very different dynamical systems, from dripping faucets to the rotation of star clusters. Living organisms are highly complex dynamical systems, combining in their operation many hierarchical levels of different attractors, with a grand super-attractor that is unique to each species. That attractor can be seen at work in embryonic and fetal development and maturation, where the proteins specified by the genes self-assemble into the adult organism. A much swifter form of self-assembly, but of the same kind, takes place in the brain when the nonlinear dynamical system of the neurons, connected by continually-adjusting synaptic gates, comes up with an idea or a memory.
And in Turner’s synthesis, these same strange attractors can be consistently construed as acts of God in causing His will to be reflected in His works:
This conception might be called natural providence, and it has some appealing features from a theological point of view. Whereas classical linear cause and effect "pushes" events into happening, enforces them, attractors "pull" or invite them to happen; what happens next is only one of a number of possible outcomes for the system at that moment -- in effect, choice is built into the physical world. This view of things suggests that if there are divine intentions working themselves out, they are incarnate within nature itself. It brings the will of God into the most intimate recesses of our bodies. And yet it does not constrain belief in God -- a hugely important criterion in the Bible, at least, since we must be free to choose to believe. For we can always dismiss the whole process as merely a natural phenomenon.
As Turner concludes, he notes that his proposition in no way invalidates or conflicts with a conception of a Divine Being, and
…Is not at odds with any revelation we might have about them. What it does do is recover the immanent, or incarnate, aspects of the divine that were lost when Enlightenment theologians decided to kick God out of the physical universe.

"I am the true vine," said Jesus, "and you are the branches." The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that grows and branches into a tree; it's like a sower whose seeds have differential rates of reproduction; it's like the yeast that leavens the whole lump. These images are entirely consistent with the theory of evolution.
Illumination from Joe Katzman

Joe Katzman, responded to the Turner piece with a post at Winds of Change.
Spiritual progress can be made very complicated, but at its core it's very simple: "be and become more like G-d."
While Joe comes from a different faith tradition than I, what he shares about cultivating a direct relationship with God, and that we must assume responsibility for advancing spiritually, are entirely consistent with the imperatives of my faith as a Christian.

Joe asserts that love and responsibility are a pair of wings we need to fly:
For G-d is not just ultimate love. G-d is also ultimate responsibility. Responsibility requires knowledge, even experience. You know how your parents' decisions start to look smarter as you get older?

So connection with love, removal of ego, humility, clear perception, giving... these are all aspects of the divine.

Understanding, responsibility, learning about creation and what it means to be a creator - these, too, are aspects of the divine.

We are learning that we need both wings to fly.
Joe makes an excellent point on the critical importance of valuing and pursuing spiritual growth and observance. What takes its place if we don’t?
If we renounce the spiritual side or pledge worship to our fellow man, we get hell on earth. The 20th century was one long, eloquent demonstration. As one Jewish scholar put it "The Holocaust may make faith in G-d difficult, but it makes faith in man impossible."
Which, I think, brings us back to the limitations of a purely Scientific Man, who cannot accept the conception of an Intelligent Designer. Faith in God may be difficult, but Faith in Man (alone) is indeed impossible.

Forgiveness: Wrong, or Wronged?

(Posted concurrently at Dadmanly and Gladmanly)

I wrote the following in response to a friend, and thought I would share it with my readers.

I have learned, much of it the hard way, that all organizations have dynamics, and that people's motivations are never as clear cut as they seem to me. Everyone, myself included, can experience bouts of selfishness and complete self-interest, but many times, we are in a mix of emotions and motivations about just about anything.

Sometimes people mean us harm personally. Often, hurts are unintended. Most usually, even when we mean to hurt someone spitefully, we may not have a full or even good understanding of how hurtful our actions or words are.

I went through the twelve steps, I made up about three different moral inventories, a lot of the contents were the same, but each time there were new things to ask God forgiveness for, and new things I needed to prayerfully consider whether and how to make amends.

I have had bosses I despised, some I hated, some I did not respect, and some that I knew in my heart they were either venal, corrupt, or incapable of doing their job as well as I thought they should have. I sat in judgment, and I grew angrier and angrier, full of righteous indignation. Some of these situations were military, some involved either my employer managers or client managers or customers. (I'm a salaried employee who earns my company money through consulting assignments with other corporations or governmental agencies.)

I was on a track (it wasn't fast, but by sheer determination and assertiveness, I was on it) for senior management, and I started down a road that involved longer hours, harder trade-offs, complexity, uncertainty, greater ego battles, more competition, and LOTS more judgment of others.

Thank God, with the help of Him and the good counsel of Mrs. Dadmanly, I stepped off that track. I regret it at times -- I still don't like the decisions that are made -- but I am more rested, calmer, less stressed, I enjoy my status and stature as a subject matter expert and veteran consultant -- they defer to me a lot more now that I am not actively competing against them -- and I have to say I've found more joy and contentment, and found a manner of work and "doing my job" that allows my family time and interests to stay Number 1, 40 hours a week job and that's all.

In the Army, it's been somewhat different. I am in a leadership position, but I have superiors, and there are many situations where I must obey, and I must expect and direct my subordinates to do likewise, even if I would do differently or disagree. I mediate where I can, I soften, I try to lessen impacts of bad decisions, I will even keep up (some) resistance or at least continue to advise against courses of action where I can without jeopardizing good military order.

But I have come to realize even there, that you can allow your subordinates too much latitude, you can lose their respect, you can degrade motivation and performance, and you can sometimes even jeopardize your authority by not running a tight enough ship. I am most often the Good Cop to my CSMs Bad Cop, but I often pay the price of not having immediate obedience when I need it. Thank goodness, we haven't been in life or death situations yet, but that could happen, and the Drill Sergeant leadership model makes certain you have it when you need it, while it is sometimes forced or grudging; whereas the friendlier, more accommodating style I usually adopt can sometimes leave me vulnerable or not having full control when I need it.

Scripture makes frequent mention of slaves and masters, authority, and how we as Christians are to render proper obedience to our Masters. The modern equivalent of the Master Servant relationship is the employer and employee.

I had a Commander once who was amazingly selfish, self-centered, prideful, arrogant, hurtful, spiteful, vengeful... I could go on. But my point is, even though I felt he was totally unsuited to Command, unless and until he issued an unlawful order or crossed a line where obeying his order harmed our soldiers unnecessarily, I had to obey. It was wrong when I talked about him behind his back. It was wrong when we traded stories about what a Jack a** he was. (All human, all understandable, but as a Christian, I'm convicted that I often need to ask forgiveness for the many times I condemned him with judgment. I think I even said once, "G - D him straight to hell," God forgive me.) He was chosen and placed in that position to make those decisions, and it was not my place or job or duty to make sure his decisions were best or even advisable.

It wasn't about him, he was beset by evil, enmeshed, he dwelt in sin. It was about me. By yielding to that anger and judgment, I allowed the devil a foothold.

I need to be able to forgive even my enemies. And that helps me be the Christian witness God wants me to be.

I have found that there are those I have hurt, whose feelings I have hurt, even though I meant no harm. I have sometimes hurt people in ways I didn't know about. In the same way that I may have history that makes me very susceptible or vulnerable to certain patterns of behavior, or awakening of deeper hurts, it may be that those with whom we are in conflict with likewise have secrets or hidden scars or other circumstances or dynamics we don't know about. Doesn't make them right, but it may explain why they act or react the way they do.

I know what I know about my first wife and our failed marriage and divorce. I became a born again Christian after that, and am in a committed Christian Marriage before God with another Christian that had a similar situation, and was likewise redeemed and renewed and given a second chance on the way God intended husband and wife to bond -- not to fill the empty parts or fix what's broke -- but to be co-equals, partners, and draw closer to each other as we each draw closer to God.

I know the scars I carry from my failed marriage. I know the sins committed against me. But I also know that, because of her scars, her terrible experiences, there were ways that without meaning to I hurt her deeply in ways that I wasn't able to see at first. I needed to do what I could to make amends unless to do so would hurt that person or others. And it didn't matter that she could not come to a place to forgive me, I needed to forgive her.

I've had to do the same with family. I can't say I'm 100% all the way there yet, but I know making amends is not going to always work reconciliation, nor should it, nor can we expect forgiveness, and may even receive hostility. But we step forward in faith, we do what He would have us do, we do what we need to do for ourselves, and then turn the hurt, the wrong, the working out of our salvation over to Him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Chris Muir and Cathy Need Your Help

(Via Mudville Gazette)

Cathy, the sister of Day by Day cartoonist Chris Muir, is being treated at the Cancer Ablation Center in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The Cancer Ablation Center in Gulf Shores, Alabama. will have an ad to be aired on CNN cancer special on August 14th and 20th, but Chris is asking for our help in doing more.

For the next TEN DAYS, click on the banner (or links) as often as you can and boost their visibility in search engines.

And if you can, please pray for God to give Cathy a full recovery, and for peace and comfort for Chris and his family.

Christian Carnival is Up!

The Bloke in the Outer hosts this week's Christinan Carnival.

The Bloke organized the Carnival in a very unusual and creative way, and one that will teach most of us something we did not know. I'll let the Bloke describe it:
As we begin this week’s showcase of posts, I would like to introduce to you an ancient Chinese Christian text. It was found among scrolls discovered hidden in the caves of Dunhuang and were subsequently known as the Jesus Sutras. Very little is known about their origins, but the stories that have come to us from those who have researched them are facinating. At the very least, it has confirmed how seriously the early church took Jesus’ words to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and it sheds light in how they have interacted with peoples of remote areas and distant cultures. It also gives us hope of reaching the world with the gospel of the peace that passes all understanding. And it provides us with a glimpse of the gospel through different perspectives, thus hopefully helping us to fresher insights to the meaning of following our Lord in this world.

Within these texts is this passage which begins with the question: “What are the Four Essential Laws of Dharma?” Dharma literally means “what holds together” and can refer to teachings, principles, or precepts. The Jesus Sutras answers the question with the following four dharmas: “no wanting” (or “no desire”), “no doing” (or “no action” or “no effort”), “no piousness” (or “no virtue”), and “no truth”. As you read this week’s Christican Carnival, I invite you to do so with an attitude of learning with a view of catching a fresh glimpse of your life in the Spirit as a Christ follower.
As for the links, there are many fine entries to visit and enjoy, among them:
Ron Stewart of Northern ‘burbs blog continuing his series on marriage in The purposes of Marriage: Part III - Completion writes about how spouses complete and complement each other.

James Jordan of Points of Light provides us with some stunning visual reminders that “God does some of His best work in the early part of the day” in Up Early, comparing these images to the many Scriptural references about meeting God in the morning.

Robin of Write Thinking: Miscellaneous Musings of a Christian Novelist has provides us with a personal reflection on the question of who or what we rely upon as the source for our sense of security, intertwining her own thoughts Biblical references and themes from her own writing.

From a Penitent Blogger we have a lesson from Moses’ experience of facing the uncertainties of life and death with calm faith and trust in God’s grace and mercy in Helplessness and Anxiety.

Mark Olson at Psuedo-Polymath offers some thoughts on the struggle between modesty, spirituality, art and worship in A Good Beginning.

And of course, I have a post at the Carnival as well. Starting with a personal reflection on my own journey of faith, I examine the second part of Romans chapter 2, focusing on the initiative and priority of God’s rich love and mercy when He wrote His law onto our hearts.
Enjoy the Carnival!

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Law Upon Our Hearts

I’ve paused for a period of reflection in my walk through Paul’s letter to the Romans. I’d like to make it sound like this was my idea, like I devoted the past week and more to reflecting on what it means for the “law to be written on our hearts.”

But that would be false. I have spent the better part of two weeks struggling against God.

Not that I recognized it that way, but that’s what I was doing. I sought release and escape in my own pursuits. Under grace, I avoided any sense of responsibility or accountability for my walk, my prayer life, reading His word, honoring my commitments, or even in the things I find to distract me from the sometime loneliness and ever present ache for home.

Are the things I speak of the kind of things that would hurt or harm my family, or bring discredit to my unit or my soldiers? Not at all. In the world’s eyes, they might at best be considered sins of omission, things I might have done, no wrongs committed. But God wants us to see ourselves and our behaviors through His eyes, not the world’s.

And as I am His child and called and purchased at a very great price, I am chastened and ask humbly for His forgiveness in the name of His Son Jesus.

I stand at perhaps the most momentous crossroads of my life, when all of the chaff that was the petty concerns of the former times will be blown away. The seed, the meal, the leaven of His provision will remain. I know what it means to say that I see through the glass but darkly. There is the glimmer of His Spirit, His purposes, but to say more, to see more now, would be to guess, and perhaps to hope.

So I read today the second half of Romans Chapter 2 (verses 17-29), and God reveals more of His intent when He has written the law upon our hearts.
The Jews Guilty as the Gentiles

17 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, 18 and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. 21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. (Romans 2:17-24)
Paul speaks here powerfully of the obligation of believers to not deceive themselves. We will all of us sin and transgress, and cannot hope to redeem ourselves by merely obedience to God’s commands. Paul acknowledges that his Roman brothers and sisters are indeed “a guide to the blind, a light to those in darkness.” Paul’s instruction here is not about some failing in effort, neither a condemnation of what the Romans taught, but rather the state of their hearts.

Did Paul know of specific sins and transgressions within the Roman church? Perhaps. But he need not have, but surely recognized that the great redeeming work of salvation through the Son of God meant that the law would be written upon our hearts as believers in Him. God’s mercy radiates from the plan He had from the beginning to allow any that seek Him, to find Him. Paul warns the Romans that they risk following the example of their spiritual forefathers, the children of Israel, when by their pride they shamed their very faith, in following the letter of the law but surely not its spirit.
5 Now therefore, what have I here,” says the LORD,
“ That My people are taken away for nothing?
Those who rule over them
Make them wail,” says the LORD,
“ And My name is blasphemed continually every day.

6 Therefore My people shall know My name;
Therefore they shall know in that day
That I am He who speaks:
‘ Behold, it is I.’” (Isaiah 52:5-6)
God convicts us, we “blaspheme” through our behaviors and the many petty ways in which we ignore or trifle with His direction. We, the followers of Jesus, have been filled with His Holy Spirit, and have ready at hand the very source for the finishing of our faith, within us.
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
There is no surer trap for any of us than the sin of pride, and the blinders that can place upon our ability to rightly perceive and assess ourselves, our behavior, and most importantly, our motivations. Why do we do what we do? God warned His children not to focus so exclusively on their gifts and sacrificial obediences on the altar.
6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6).
Jesus emphasized this point, and followed it with what should be our take-away:
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)
There was at the time of Christ and the Early Church no stronger symbol of Jewish obedience to their faith and God than circumcision. From the time God commanded Abraham as a perpetual sign of covenant between God and His people (Genesis 17:1-11), the Jewish believers had been ensuring that every “male child in your generations” would be circumcised. This applied to those outsiders brought into the community of covenant.
6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:6-7)
In Genesis, God also speaks of giving to the children of Israel the lands in which they were once wanderers and strangers. God fulfilled this in a dramatic way with the conversion of Rome and the Roman Emperors, bur perhaps not in the manner the world would expect. And with what would be the conversion of much of the modern (western) world awaiting, God made clear through Paul’s ministry that what He had prepared would be “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

Paul therefore reasons with the Romans, who perhaps hold obedience to the law above all else, above the work of the Spirit upon the believer.
Circumcision of No Avail

25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:25-29)
This is the triumph and inheritance we have in our faith, that Jesus by His atoning sacrifice has allowed us to be inheritors and heirs with Him of His Father’s mercies and blessings. God had provided the better and more excellent way.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
We compromise our inheritance by vainly trying to set up and follow some rulebook for faith. We all of us can be beset by our shame. None of us are perfect. We can misunderstand His words that speak to new creation and putting sin far from us, and think that, when we sin (not if), that somehow we do not believe “strongly enough.” This leads to despair! That is the same for us, like these Romans, who might retain the old ruler of the law, both to measure the extent of our faith and to rap our own knuckles when we inevitably fall short of the grace of God.

Our own failings and spiritual impurities make us tremble and doubt the promises made that our sins have been (and will be) forgiven once for all through Jesus’ death and resurrection. That, and our very human natures resist. Are we really prepared to fully die to self and yield fully to His cleansing presence? How many of us want to “give it all,” but then hold back that area, that part, that crutch, that comfort, that is our “old way” of soothing hurt or making pain go away? So many of our “quiet” and secret sins are after, part of that life that struggles along trying to find happiness and peace.

This leads us to set formulas. We say to ourselves, “At least I give this. I do all this. At least I don’t do that – invariably connected with some comparison to a brother or neighbor and the mote in their eye. But God says, not works of your hands! Not your vain sacrifices and obediences in matter of gifts and tithes. Thos can be important, but the unmitigated Grace of God is His gift through the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus.
Purpose of the Mystery

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 3:8-9)
Through His prophets, God foretold of the time in which He would break down the barriers between the people of the Law (His People, the children of Israel) and the gentiles (everybody else).
God Redeems Jerusalem

1 Awake, awake!
Put on your strength, O Zion;
Put on your beautiful garments,
O Jerusalem, the holy city!
For the uncircumcised and the unclean
Shall no longer come to you.
2 Shake yourself from the dust, arise;
Sit down, O Jerusalem!
Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion!

3 For thus says the LORD:
“ You have sold yourselves for nothing,
And you shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah 52:1-3)
Through Isaiah, God rebuked the Israelites that they had “sold themselves for nothing,” yet would “be redeemed without money.” God promised His children a day when the “uncircumcised and unclean” would no longer come to them. The Israelites might well have hoped that this meant the end of long capitivity, or the end of war with their neighbors, but God was foretelling a time when circumcision and non-circumcision but be of no meaning. A time fulfilled with Jesus, when circumcision (obedience) would be “of the heart, in the Spirit,” and triumphantly, “from God.”

It is not in us, it is in Him. As contemporary Christian artists Casting Crowns declare in their song, Who Am I:
Not because of who I am
But because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done
But because of who You are
It is not because of who we are, any sense of position, or class, or stature. It is not because of what we do for God, some way in which we’ve earned His love and mercy.

It is entirely because of what He did with the sacrifice of His son, and His essential character of love and mercy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Teen Sex and Other Matters

(Welcome, Dadmanly Readers! This is his other blog.)

A week ago, Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit linked to a post by a Patri Friedman at Catallarchy, The Voice of Hedonism. Glenn capped his remarks by noting an “interesting discussion in the comments.”

Now I respect Glenn and his Instapundit tremendously, and along with Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette inspired me and informed me most about this strange new world of the Blog. But I have to say, The Catallarchy post and its comments was the most distressing threads of conversation I have ever come across. (Perhaps Glenn meant interesting in the sense that a train wreck can be morbidly interesting.)

I want to admit that I am reacting as a Father of daughters (now 18 and 22), and in trying to raise them responsibly, had several difficult discussion about premarital sex, the various kinds of predatory and manipulative behaviors that some individuals practice, things the watch for, lessons Mrs. Dadmanly and I had to learn the hard way. So I’ve been over a lot of this ground already, while I still have a 9 year old son at home. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I deplore and lament the philosophical approach employed by Friedman, and the amoral (note, not immoral, just the absence of morality at all) support this can receive from the gullible as noted in his many (mostly positive) comments.

The Voice of Hedonism

In the update to his original post, Friedman summarizes his argument thusly:
I am making three main arguments. The first is that restricting your children’s knowledge, in the belief that this will help them make better decisions, is both foolish and unlibertarian. The second is that teenage sex is fun, and if done safely is worth the risks. This is an argument about the particular costs and benefits of a particular choice, and thus has little to do with libertarianism, except in the basic assumption that if an activity doesn’t harm others, cost/benefit analysis is the right way to decide if its a good activity. And the third, which got relatively little discussion, is that teenagers are real people and should get to make their own choices. The last is a libertarian argument.
In the comments, many readers objected to Friedman’s equating the promotion of abstinence with promoting ignorance. Friedman rebuts:
Promoting ignorance is unlibertarian. Advising an individual on a course of action you think is in their best interests is not unlibertarian, although forcing that cource of action on them is. (I should note that “force” here is a tricky gray area. Parents shouldn’t have to pay for actions they don’t approve of, but when kids are totally financially beholden to their parents, the latter have a lot of leverage).

But I do believe that the choice to keep your kid ignorant is the exact opposite of libertarianism. It is a policy of restricting knowledge from individuals who have the capacity to use it to make better choices, because you think you know better. It is exactly what we protest in government censorship and regulation - what could be less libertarian? We aren’t talking about a baby reaching for an electric socket, we’re talking about people whose brains and bodies are almost fully developed. They may not always make good decisions - but neither do adults, and I don’t think there is a large difference.
Friedman’s philosophic core is libertarian, and he makes a deep connection between parents and government:
Both government officials and parents have their own cost/benefit analysis at heart, even when making a decision for another.
Which then leads him to the inevitable conclusion:
Parents advise, kids decide, seems like a superior policy, once the kids are reasonably old.
And further, Friedman admits that he disagrees with the ages commonly viewed as the ages of adulthood, consent, majority, or the age at which full or partial rights are vested in the individual:
What I disagree with is the choice of 18, which I think is too high, and the sudden and discontinuous nature of achieving majority. Legally, people go from kids to adults on a single day. There are good reasons for bright line rules in legal situations, but I don’t see them for parenting. Hence as your kids get older, and more capable of acting as adults, you should steadily more often let them act as adults. A 16-year old, in my opinion, should be making a lot of their own decisions (which is how my siblings and I were raised).
Friedman makes a point that there are avoidable and unavoidable costs to teen sex. He labels painful breakups, getting into committed relationships too early, and other emotional entanglements as some of the unavoidable costs. (I would add premature sexualization and susceptibility to predatory or other manipulative “relationships” to the list as well.) The rest of the costs most parents are most concerned about – sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, abrupt marriages, temptation to abort, single parenthood – Friedman views as focus based on emotion and not logical analysis. And as he views them as entirely preventable, Friedman dismisses these concerns -- in his cost benefit analysis, he drastically undervalues these costs:
My suspicion is that these risks (pregnancy in particular) are the ones we faced through most of our evolutionary history, and hence we are hard-wired to worry about them. But like many other hard-wired instincts, this is just not rational in the modern world, and we can make better choices by consciously overriding them.
And when it comes to the costs incurred by society as a whole because of teen pregnancy, Friedman states:
Some brief points, first: abstinence-based education does not decrease pregnancy rates, and second: adult pregnancy (say among poor 20-year olds) has costs too. But I do agree that this is a genuine cost imposed on society. Heck, I agree so much that I’d seriously consider a policy where people had to post bonds (or indicate assets) sufficient to raise a kid, or be put on birth control. Its no different than requiring insurance for things you might do to harm others - which seems like a reasonable policy for Ancapistan. I just don’t think its particularly unique to minors, or that less graphic sex ed actually helps.
Neat trick! First Friedman states that abstinence education doesn’t reduce teen pregnancy (as if that’s the only solution on the table). He then balances these costs against societal costs relating to adult pregnancy, which is outside of the set he has presented for his cost benefit analysis. (Think of it as a corporation that makes themselves look profitable by transferring a disproportionate amount of costs to a backwater subsidiary.)

Friedman’s conclusion is an important one, in suggesting that the issue reduces itself to the central issue of moral agency:
This is a complicated subject, and I believe the central philosophical issue is one of individualism and moral agency. Who should make decisions for an individual? When is a person old enough to make their own decisions? There is also a central practical issue, namely the costs and benefits of teenage sex, about which there seems to be widespread disagreement. As a libertarian I think this question is less important. What matters is that people should get to make their own decisions; after that we can fight about what the right decision is.
A Digression on the Abortion Debate

Friedman – and much of modern society – views abortion as a means of dramatically lowering the tangible and intangible costs of unwanted (teen or otherwise) pregnancy. This is false on several levels, and immoral beyond that. From a strictly utilitarian perspective such as Friedman’s what he doesn’t say (because it’s not his concern today) is that the calculations and cost benefit equations that allow abortion to cancel out any costs of teen pregnancy could likewise allow infanticide as a means to cancel out the costs of (unwanted) parenthood.

Abortion brings with it many tangible and intangible costs, many of the intangible ones not easily recognized by irresponsible youth in particular, and a very extreme cost to the individual whose life if terminated as a by-product of the calculation. As Americans, we might rightly shudder at the very idea of decisions of life and death being reduced to cost benefit equations, unless the individual who’s very well being rests on the decision has some part in it!

Chronically, the press and our elites so misrepresent the basic arguments for and against abortion as to make public debate impossible. We can’t agree on any premise for debate, as the various positions are distorted in the popular imagination.

Thus I found very helpful an explanation offered this past week by Edward Whalen in the National Review Online, Abortion and Justice.
Whalen identifies three competing positions on the constitutionality of abortion, as excerpted below:
1. The pro-abortion position. The first position is that the Constitution prohibits, to one degree or another, laws that protect the life of an unborn human being against her mother's desire to have her killed. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court adopted an extreme version of this "pro-abortion" position. The Court invoked the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — which provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" — to overturn the abortion laws of all 50 states. The Court ruled that the Due Process Clause prohibits protection of the lives of unborn human beings at any time through the second trimester. And even from viability until birth, the Court, under the predominant reading of Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton, requires that abortion be available whenever the abortionist determines that it would serve the mother's well-being.
As Whalen relates, a five-justice majority later ratified Roe in the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Their basis for so adjudicating:
"At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."
Whalen then presents what he sees as the second and third position:
2. The pro-life position. A second position is that the Constitution prohibits, to one degree or another, laws that permit abortion. Under this "pro-life" position, unborn human beings would be recognized as "persons" for purposes of the Due Process Clause. The argument for this position would begin with the historical fact that, prior to Roe, the American tradition long provided broad legal protection for the lives of unborn human beings from the time that those lives were understood, in light of the biological knowledge of the age, to commence. It would build on the modern advances in embryology and genetics, which establish that the life of each individual member of the species Homo sapiens begins at conception. Consistent with the American tradition, this pro-life position might allow limited exceptions for abortion — for example, where continuation of the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother.

3. The substantively neutral position. The third position is that the Constitution generally does not speak to the question of abortion. Under this substantively neutral position, American citizens would have the constitutional power to determine through their state representatives what the abortion policy in their own states would be.
For all political commentators and the press, note the commonsense semantics suggested by Whalen:
Insofar as sensible political labels might be applied to these three positions, it would seem plain that the first (pro-abortion) position would be labeled liberal (with the Roe version of that position being radical), the second (pro-life) would be labeled conservative, and the third (neutral) would be labeled moderate.
Needless to say, these are not the standard definitions employed by media in discussions of this issue.
Why do I bring this into a discussion of teen sex, and what I view as a disturbing treatise on its cost beneficial aspects? As just one example of how, when morals and any sense of moral framework are removed from a discussion, what is lost is more valuable than what is retained. By not making the issue real in any personal sense – and actively discounting or devaluing very real (albeit subjective and intangible) costs -- such arguments are like the dummy strawman, where a phony situation or state of affairs is propped up precisely so one can that much more easily knock it down.

One More Digression, from Glenn Reynolds

When Glenn originally linked to the Catallarchy post, he linked to an article he wrote for Fox News about teen sex from three years ago, Teen Sex and the Media Hype . While I am not in complete agreement with Glenn, there is enough of value in his article that I wanted to include some worthy points.

Glenn made (makes) the argument that we infantilize our children, and even infantilize ourselves as adults. I strongly concur with his assessment.
As Glenn describes it, where once teenagers were “adults-in-training,” now we have nothing better for them to do, indulged and sheltered. We took away adult responsibilities. Glenn quotes Thomas Hine writing in American Heritage, “We stopped expecting young people to be productive members of the society.”

“We have infantilized teen-agers,” Glenn asserts, “and then we act surprised that they behave immaturely.

In conclusion, Glenn suggests a different approach:
If we want teen-agers to be more adult, in their virtues as well as their vices, we should try treating them more like adults. Teen-agers should be encouraged to hold jobs in addition to going to school. (Or instead of since high school is not for everyone.)
One of the things that drive me crazy about our society and culture, large portions of both are dedicated to mitigating or eliminating the consequences of (bad) decisions.

That’s how we learn, isn’t it? If we’re protected from the consequences of our behavior, how are we to learn what behavior we may want to avoid in the future? From a parent telling me not to? I doubt it. From a parent who is honest enough to say, “these are choices I made, and these are the things that happened”? Perhaps. Silence is never going to end up being the right answer.

But to the extent that teenagers engage in adult behaviors, they absolutely need to be confronted with the realities, with the tangible and intangible “costs.” We fail them with anything less, diminish their ability to render right judgments about the world in which they make their way. And minimizing the costs of teenage sex is very much a vain and dangerous conceit.

But in seeking after pleasure with diminished perceptions of consequence, these former teens, now wiser adults, will discover where all this misguided boosterism led them. To that extent, as Friedman claims, knowledge is good. But it helps if you get it when it can do you some good.


Before I end my critique Friedman’s thesis, something else in the comments to his original post gripped my attention.

In answer to Friedman’s post, one of the commentators mentioned that she thought she might be one of the only teenage girls at her college that did not have sex with Mr. Friedman. This is hardly definitive proof that such promiscuity is the case, and could be entirely spurious, but I would suppose that if there is anything much to it, Mr. Friedman’s reputation on campus is fairly well established.

I would have no doubt that anyone who stakes out a position so willfully dedicated to unmediated libertinism is wholly in favor of teenagers having sex. It suits him, doesn’t it, and allows him to believe he lives for pleasure without any negative consequences? His benefits are all tangible, his partners’ costs are mostly intangible. On simply utilitarian grounds he can play his games and win rhetorically with the lazy logic crowd.

Morals and ethics have intrinsic value to both individuals and society, and dry appeals to logic and consequences can’t hope to compete with Peter Pan like appeals to the ecstatic. I am convinced, though, that these same “explorers” (or rather, not the explorers but their willing deck hands) who range beyond the bounds of what have been traditional guideposts for appropriate and socially constructive sexual relationships within marriage will discover who the man behind the curtain is, too late, and reap consequences in later life they can’t possibly appreciate in youth. Failure at marriage, difficulty bonding, sexual dysfunction, difficulty with intimacy.

Long term monogamous relationships cemented through committed marriage provides a strength and security young people do not naturally seek, nor realize they’ve missed until such relationships are usually no longer within their reach. No amount of statistical tabulation nor clinical assessment will measure these effects. Intangible they may be, but sometimes catastrophic in their emotional impact.

Priapus has a strong appeal, and some maidens are no doubt tempted, but it is no accident he can so easily be recognized. Call it mid-life crisis, call it sexual predation; it’s hollow, ultimately unfulfilling, and incredibly lonely.

(Linked at Basil's Blog for Lunch, part of Morning Quarters at the Indepundit, all while stuck in the Traffic Jam Outside the Beltway.)

Christian Carnival is Up!

The 81st Edition of the Christian Carnival has been
successfully posted at href="">Dunmoose
the Ageless.

Featured at this week's Carnival:

Adrian Warnock has a post in which he explains why his nine year old daughter can define love better than the Oxford Dictionaries.

Apprehension giving us Part 3 of a series on C S Lewis' Mere Christianity. Lewis discusses whether "Right" and "Wrong" are mere impulses or social conventions or are as palpable a reality as mathematical truths.

And my recent post, We have the Poor With Us Always .

Enjoy, and God Bless!