Christmas: Promise and Purpose December 19, 2013Posted by Daniel Downs in Christmas, family, marriage.
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By Daniel Downs
Christmas is a multifaceted story about real events wrapped in two narratives. The two narratives are found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Like a new train and its track, these two narratives are part of one colorfully packaged gift given to humanity by God. Together they show the meaning of Christmas.
Some scholars and teachers rightly say the reason for the season is God’s love, peace, and forgiveness of sin.
The first gospel begins with teen pregnancy. Yes, it’s true the Hebrew word translated virgin actually means young woman or teen girl. It’s equally true that in ancient Jewish culture teenage girls were expected to marry and then bear children. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies were as unlawful as immoral. The social stigmatism would have been as illiberal as Scarlet Letter puritanism. Just as a barren wife, a young unwed mother would have experienced the discriminating scorn of a religious society. Therefore, it is reasonable to interpret the transliterated Hebrew word almah as virgin (Mt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14).
Rabbinical literature originating in Babylonia portrays young Mary as mistress of a Roman soldier. Whether because of sinful consent, seduction or rape, Mary’s pregnancy was conceived by rabbis opposed to the gospel message as adulterated sin. The Palestinian view, as scholars call it, is considerably different. It lacked any negative diatribes against Mary or her son. Just as the Palestinian Talmud reflects its local context, the two gospel narratives were rooted in local events and daily life in Judea and Samaria.
We also will find the meaning of Christmas grounded in the same geographical, cultural, ideological, and historical situation of then current events.
While reading our two narrative gifts, two bright themes twinkle like lights reflecting off shinny wrappings. Those themes are promise and purpose. As if sitting prominently under a Christmas tree, the two themes are wrapped with bright colorful interpretations of unfolding events. Those events appear to be fulfillment of promises made by God through even more ancient prophets. As such, they reveal as well as affirm the purpose of God.
For example, the gospel of Matthew begins the story of Jesus’ birth with marriage. “Mary has been betrothed to Joseph…her husband (1:18, 19). In ancient Jewish culture, engagement was regarded as the beginning of a marriage. While Joseph was thinking about divorcing her, an angel told him to keep his wife because her pregnancy was God’s doing (1:19-20). Why would God do such a thing? The angel continued telling Joseph that Mary’s son would save his people. At that time, most Israelis were expecting a Messiah that would deliver them from the oppressive rule of the Roman Empire and puppet kings like Herod. That was not God’s purpose. Jesus was adopted and formed in the womb of Joseph’s virgin wife to save his people from their sins (1:20-21). This was seen by ancient writers like Matthew as fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (1:20-21; Isa. 7:14). As evident in writings like Psalms of Solomon, 1 Enoch, and Dead Sea Scrolls, the Messiah of David would represent the holy presence of God and lead all Jews into sinless living. In fact some believed the law would pass away when the true Messiah began to reign. For the law not to be needed meant all had to live holy lives at all times. Being capable of doing so meant the Messiah had to be as holy and sinless as those he would make holy or sinless. That is what the name “Immanuel” or “God with us” meant to those same ancient people.
If we trace the biblical history of God’s redemption, God chooses marriage and family as part of the means to its end.
The purpose of marriage is narrated in Genesis (2:18-25). After their moral crime, Adam and Eve were given a promised future in which God’s purpose would continue. Adam and Eve would create a society of families who would make God’s creation productive and who would overcome temptation and immorality (Gen. 3). It was for married society that God offered the first animal sacrifice in order to cover the naked guilt and shame of the first traditionally married couple. The clothing also served to minimize temptation (Gen. 3:21-23). Nevertheless, sibling rivalry and sexual perversion motivated by jealousy and lust followed (Gen. 4:1-24). One result was the rise of the first walled urban city, according to archaeology. Beginning with Adam’s grandson, the descendants of Adam began seeking God’s redemption (Gen. 4:25-26). Why? Because human decadence also continued until it dominated society. This was followed with the family of Noah being saved from the flood as well as the continuation the covenant of redemption that began with Adam (Gen. 6-8 & 9-10). The fulfillment of God’s redemptive purpose was given greater specificity with the family of Abraham. Through this family, God promised to bless the entire world (Gen. 12-17). At the same time, the sterile couple, Abraham and Sarah, was promised a son, Isaac, through whom the promise would be fulfilled in history (Gen. 15, 18). Yet, the promise was The same could be said about the family of David and the promised Messiah (2 Sa. 7:12-16; Rom. 1:1-4). Not only through a specific descendant of David would Israel’s redemption be realized but all people across the globe would have access to it as well. With the virgin birth of Jesus, the promised redemption began to be fulfilled.
As we have seen, God chose a young married couple to bring His adopted son into the world. The fact that an angel visibly announced God’s adoptive purpose for Jesus’ life before his conception gave them a solemn mission of parenting. Their purpose was to raise God’s son to fulfill his life purpose—the salvation of Israel as well as rule of the kingdom (Lk. 1: 32-33). All of this was affirmed first by the priestly shepherds who were told by a host of angels that the salvation this new born King would bring was for all people (Lk. 2:10-14). Further affirmation came at Jesus’ dedication by the temple priest Simeon (Lk. 2:21-32). Simeon again affirmed that Jesus was salvation for both Jews and gentiles according to Isaiah 49:5-6. Finally, the ambassadors of Parthia, the Magi, came escorted by a military regiment to pay homage to the newly born Messiah (Mt. 2:1-6). Consequently, Mary and Joseph were parents with a holy mission to deliver God’s gift of salvation holy and sinless for both Israel and the world. They had godly relatives and friends as well as a culture defined by God’s word (however tainted by sin and the influence of Rome’s presence) to assist them.
This was God’s Christmas gift to all people for all times. Jesus’ parents wrapped him in a Hanukkah candle wick because God wanted all people to see that His son is true light of the world (Lk. 2:12-14). While his destiny was to suffer the shame and judgment for all sins of all people on the cross and in hell, God saw the fulfillment of his redemptive purpose advance toward final fulfillment (Isa. 53). Having fully satisfied divine justice, God raised His son from hell, from death’s tomb, and from the rejection of ignorant men. And, by lifting His son up to His side in heaven, the light of His peace, grace, and holy life forever shines for all to behold and embrace. God’s just forgiveness, His presence and empowerment, and His acceptance are continually held out by our gentle risen Shepherd and Lord Jesus. The gift only has to be received and lived. When all parents and their children do, society will finally realize the common good of God’s will. Then peace will then reign on earth.
Networks Ignore Push for Repeal of DOMA October 7, 2009Posted by Daniel Downs in Barak Obama, Democrats, family, gay politics, marriage, media bias, Nancy Pelosi, news, politics.
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Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced a new threat to traditional marriage on September 15 – a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
News of Nadler’s plan to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act broke late last week, but ABC, CBS and NBC all failed to report this latest push for forced acceptance of same-sex marriage. Although the health care reform debate has gobbled up media attention for weeks, the networks’ silence on the fundamental issue of how the federal government defines marriage is odd.
Nadler’s bill would overturn the 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
A September 15 press release issued by Nadler’s office claimed the bill has 91 original co-sponsors. Nadler stated in the release, “With a President who is committed to repealing DOMA and a broad, diverse coalition of Americans on our side, we now have a real opportunity to remove from the books this obnoxious and ugly law.”
Not all Democrats agreed with Nadler. The Washington Blade reported on September 11 that Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts is not supporting Nadler’s effort to overturn DOMA. “It’s not anything that’s achievable in the near term,” Frank said. The New York Times reported September 15 that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “also indicated this year that repealing the law would not be a top priority.”
ABC, CBS and NBC failed to take interest in the story, even with the added twist of intra-party (and even intra-administration) division over the bill. None of the networks have discussed this issue since President Obama’s inauguration, despite his repeated calls during the 2008 campaign to repeal DOMA and despite a 54-page brief filed in support of DOMA by his Justice Department in June.
The brief, filed in the California case Smelt v. United States that challenged DOMA, outraged gay rights activists because, as reported by the Washington Post, it “appeared to equate same-sex marriage with incest and pedophilia” and the lawyers referred to marriage between a man and a woman as “the traditional and universally recognized form.”
Importance of DOMA
DOMA did not simply define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It banned the federal recognition of same-sex marriages. It also protects states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages that took place in other states.
“DOMA is the only federal law that protects marriage as the union of husband and wife, and guarantees voters in Georgia or Wisconsin that a handful of judges in Massachusetts will not be able to impose gay marriage on their state,” noted Maggie Gallagher, president and founder of the National Organization for Marriage.
Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, focused his criticism of Nadler’s efforts on the issue of states’ rights.
“People in state after state have made it clear that they do not want either Congress or activist judges tampering with the time-honored institution of marriage,” he stated in a September 15 press release. “People who care about the institution of marriage and care about their own state’s Tenth Amendment right to decide this issue for themselves should be outraged at this frontal assault on the cornerstone of American society and on the democratic process itself.”
Not Ignored in Print
While the networks have ignored DOMA, the editorial boards of The Washington Post and The New York Times urged the administration to overturn the law as soon as possible.
The Justice Department brief filed in June that supported DOMA inspired the Times’ Frank Rich to write on June 28, “Obama’s inaction on gay civil rights is striking. So is his utterly uncharacteristic inarticulateness. The Justice Department brief defending DOMA has spoken louder for this president than any of his own words on the subject.”
James Kirchick, assistant editor of the New Republic and a contributing writer to the Advocate, questioned Obama’s commitment to same-sex marriage. “When it comes to same-sex marriage, the movement can’t count on support from the current president,” Kirchick wrote. “Obama’s stance on gay marriage is virtually indistinguishable from that of John McCain,” he later charged.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart gave Obama more cover in his June 21 editorial. “The first substantive comment on gay and lesbian equality since he took office was the Justice Department’s noxious brief in Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer v United States of America, and it fueled suspicion that the president was backpedaling on his promises.” Capehart later urged gays and lesbians to look to Congress to achieve their “big victories, such as the repeal of DOMA and the ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy.”
On August 18, the Post reported that “the Obama administration distanced itself” from the Justice Department’s June brief regarding DOMA.
A follow-up brief filed August 17 in the Smelt v. United States case did not contain the language that had inflamed gay rights activists. But as reported by the Post, “Senior trial counsel W. Scott Simpson embraced findings by researchers and prominent medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association, in saying ‘that children raised by gay and lesbian parents are as likely to be well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”
DOMA, the administration’s defense of it and the subsequent backing away from the defense, were not discussed on ABC, CBS, or NBC..
The networks habitually refused to cover DOMA-related news, as indicated by this year’s lack of coverage and also their refusal to report Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s firm 2008 statement of support for the repeal of DOMA.
This of course, is not to say that the networks refuse to cover news related to gay rights. Networks promoted same-sex marriage through the constant airing of Prop 8 protest footage in the days following the 2008 election.
ABC, CBS and NBC committed a grave disservice to the American public by refusing to cover the issue of DOMA. The repeal of such a law has serious implications for society and culture.
Networks repeatedly proved their liberal bias. But at least in that, viewers knew something occurred and had the opportunity to seek out supplemental information. In the case of DOMA, viewers most likely haven’t realized the very definition of traditional marriage is at stake.
By Colleen Raezler, Culture & Media Institute
Source: Culture Links e-Newsletter, September 15, 2009
The fight for Rights of Parents in America August 19, 2009Posted by Daniel Downs in children, family, news, parental rights, politics, United Nations.
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On August 19th, the Campaign to Secure Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child plans a major rally in Washington, DC to advance their strategy to replace pro-parent American law with contrary international law. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but their event is being held on Bill Clinton’s birthday.
As you can see, the internationalists are planning to discuss and advance their plans for fund-raising. In the recent past I attended one of their planning meetings held in the US Senate. No expense was spared, bringing in law professors and other experts from around the world to provide this briefing to Senate staffers. This meeting was funded by a grant from a major American foundation.
The Obama Administration and the Senate and House leadership have been practicing legislation by ambush. They bring up an issue and push for quick ratification of their radical agenda. The internationalist community is counting on this strategy to eradicate traditional parental rights without giving American families the time to figure out what is going on.
This is a simple reality. If we do not build our network to defeat the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child before they launch their efforts, we will not have the time to get the organization and supporters in place.
Parentalrights.org has achieved remarkable success with a fraction of the budget possessed by the other side. We have employed a group of Patrick Henry College students over the summer to be able to organize grassroots efforts to help pass the Parental Rights Amendment.
These students have been tremendously successful. Not only have we seen the number of co-sponsors in the House move all the way to 114 representatives, but they have helped to organize face-to-face meetings between our supporters and 119+ additional members of Congress.
At the end of the day the most important effort is at the grassroots level. More parents, grandparents, and individuals are needed to win the fight for the rights of parents and families. To learn more, visit the Parental Rights.org website.
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By Gary Palmer
Beginning with the very unpopular stimulus bill followed by an almost equally unpopular massive energy tax in the form of the cap-and-trade bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, President Obama has seen his approval rating steadily decline to the point that his rating is now lower than President Bush’s was at the same point of their presidencies.
As of this writing, the latest Rasmussen presidential index poll shows Obama with a substantial negative rating. The presidential approval index is calculated by subtracting the percentage of people who strongly disapprove of the job he is doing – 40 percent – from the percentage of people who strongly approve – 28 percent – leaving a negative approval index of 12 percent. Overall, only 48 percent say they at least somewhat approve of Obama’s performance while 51 percent say they at least somewhat disapprove.
Other polls are also reflecting the change in the public’s attitude toward Obama, and essentially toward all Democrats in Congress, especially in regard to their efforts to nationalize health care in America.
The fact that the public is solidly against the bill at this point in the debate is important because the public does not yet fully comprehend the entire impact of the legislation. Obama and the Democrats insist their bill will lower costs while still providing everyone with access to the best technology and best-trained doctors and best-equipped hospitals. They argue that nothing will change in our health system except that costs will come down and everyone, regardless of age, income or citizenship, will have access to high quality health care.
Like magic, utopia will arrive in the form of a government-run health care system and we will all be part of one big, healthy, happy family … except of course, our elderly who will be encouraged by a government counselor to help save money by simply signing an agreement to avoid life-saving medical help.
According to an analysis by Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, pages 425-430 of the current version of the health care bill contain provisions for government counseling for end-of-life planning such as Advanced Death Care Planning, government consulting on living wills and durable power of attorney, government-approved end-of-life resources, approved end-of-life treatments, approved orders for end-of-life planning and approved doctors for end-of-life orders.
If the health care reform bill passes, elderly citizens could endure long waits for treatment and access to medical equipment and be excluded from receiving some treatments and technology altogether because of their age. Elderly patients in Canada and Great Britain have been routinely put at the end of the line for expensive medical care. In the minds of the bureaucrats who control access to health care in those countries, the life expectancy and quality of life relative to younger patients does not justify the expense of treating elderly patients.
Because health care costs are extremely high for older people, Obama has targeted late-life care as an area where spending can be reduced to help cover the costs of this massive government takeover of health care. He talked about this recently in the context of his grandmother who received a hip replacement even though she was terminally ill with cancer.
Obama said this is where we get into some very difficult moral issues because late-life health care and care for the chronically ill is very expensive. He said, “… the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out there.” When asked how we should deal with it, Obama explained that “… you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance.” That guidance will be authorized by the mandates found in the pages of the massive health care bill.
Despite liberal promises of a health care utopia, the majority of Americans know better. Americans know from the experiences of the people of Canada and Great Britain that government-run health care will cost us trillions of dollars resulting in massive economy-crippling tax increases and lower quality service.
Four months ago, public opinion seemed to indicate this president could do no wrong. But as so often happens with politicians, Obama has overreached in his efforts to remake America as the polls show public disapproval of his agenda growing almost daily. Just over 15 months from now, the public’s opinion on socialized health care and the whole liberal agenda may very well be evident in the only poll that matters, the one that is taken on Election Day.
Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.
Spanking is now a criminal act according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child July 22, 2009Posted by Daniel Downs in capital punishment, children, Constitution, family, freedom, international treaty, law, Left, news, parental rights, politics, United Nations.
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Parents spanking their own children for breaking the rules and for other harmful behaviors may soon become illegal. According to the Parental Rights organization, [t]he United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was adopted by the UN in 1989. Since then, only two members nations, the United States and Somalia, have yet to ratify the treaty. This treaty is interpreted to mean parents’ corrective spanking of their children for bad behavior is a form of torture and abuse that must end. The result is that the Committee on the Rights of the Child – a panel of 18 UN “experts” gathered in Geneva, Switzerland – decided on their own that they should tell the entire world how to raise their kids. The CRC’s prohibition of spanking in the home will become the Supreme Law of the Land if Americans allow the U.S. Senate to ratify it. If ratified, spanking will be considered a criminal act. Every parent, who still practices the biblical injunction ‘to spare the rod spoils the child,” will become a criminal. Good parents will lose the freedom to raise their children as they deem best and they will loose their children. (Go to Parental Rights website to learn more.)
It is true other forms of punishment can be effective in correcting children’s bad behavior. Taking away the freedom to play, eat favorite foods, watch favorite programs, communicating with friends, using the car, and the like can be effective in enforcing the rules and moral laws.
Those methods do not always work. And, the younger the child is the less likely they will be.
Spanking, in fact, produces more long-term benefits to both the child and society. Spanking is a form of punishment usually intended to teach children that bad behavior has painful consequences. People whose behavior lands them in prison know the meaning of painful consequences. Living in a society condoning bad behavior also results in painful consequences of at least two types. One is the result from doing wrongful behaviors. Bodily injuries, disease, guilt or shame, rejection or alienation, and the like are consequences of doing wrong in a permissive culture. Another is the reciprocation of others, which compounds the consequences. A recent example of this is the murder of the late term abortion practitioner George Tiller. The ultimate consequence of moral crimes (sin, unethical behavior, etc.), however, is death. Death is the separation of individuals from a mutually beneficial working relationship. A long healthy marriage exemplifies such relationships. Divorce is a form of death. Abortion often results in the death of unborn child and parent. Ultimately, as prison is hell on earth so is life after death for those whose moral crimes end in the eternal punishment biblical religion calls hell. Many a revived clinically dead patient have told practicing doctors about going beyond barred gates into a place the Bible calls hell.
I have heard men honor their fathers for what seemed at the time very cruel punishment. The benefits of those harsh spankings produced the fruit of self-discipline hat made it possible for them to achieve their goals and enjoy their lives. This simply means that the Biblical injunction is true: Withholding painful punishment for wrongs done spoils the child so he or she may never enjoy the benefits of a moral and productive life. It also supports the widely known problem with leaders of the UN and their legal conventions–moral corruption. Evil doing brats often grow up to be evil doing adults.
That is another reason why America does not need the secular left’s God and Christianity hating wisdom. Nor does America need them dictating to us about how to raise children, how to live, how to practice religion, or how to make and spend our money. As a matter of fact, America would be much better off without them attempting to spend all of our hard earned income on their global imperial agendas like universal health care, education, or economic development. They have ruined enough of the American culture and economy; we do not need them to destroy the family too.
Source: Xenia Citizen Journal.
No fun to be involuntarily fatherless on Father’s Day June 20, 2009Posted by Daniel Downs in children, family, gay politics, medical science, secularism.
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From Norwegian national newspaper “Aftenposten” on May 22, 2009:
Translated into English
I grew up having a sperm cell as a father and can tell lesbians and the adventurous that it has not been fun at all. One is and remains a person without a history and without an answer when the topic of fathers is mentioned, and that is often! It is easier to refer to an adoption or a death. But a father without a name! I can promise you that it hurts! It will never be cool. Neither will it ever be “common.”
Even a desired and loved child has a need for parents of both sexes. Life itself has convinced me that living with a mother and a father makes one mature for the choices one must make as a young adult, make in love for a person of the opposite sex. I regard anonymous sperm donation as a psychological experiment I that I would never impose on anyone.
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World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs said he was “appalled but not surprised” by today’s ruling of the Iowa Supreme Court, in effect legislating gay marriage in the state.
Jacobs commented: “The rationale for this ruling is that limiting marriage to a man and a woman is a violation of equal protection for homosexual couples who want to marry, hence unconstitutional.”
“But if not allowing same-sex couples to marry is unconstitutional, what about a brother and sister, or a man and three women who want to marry? On the basis of today’s ruling, aren’t they also denied equal protection under the law by not being allowed to marry?” Jacobs asked.
“Clearly, the ‘equal protection’ argument is a ruse by a court determined to force its social views on the people of Iowa.” Jacobs charged. “Otherwise, it would have ruled that any two people, or group of people, have an equal-protection right to marry in the state.”
The Iowa Supreme Court ruling affirms a 2007 decision of Iowa District Court Judge Robert Hanson.
World Congress of Families International Secretary Allan Carlson, a renowned scholar of the family, was deposed in the Iowa court case. Carlson’s testimony was ruled not admissible in the summary judgment from Judge Hanson. Hanson stated, “Despite Carlson’s impressive academic credentials, the court does not believe he possesses the knowledge or expertise to answer the specific questions propounded to him [specifically, the consequences of marriage for children].”
In a summary of his “Relevant Opinions” (submitted to the court to establish his qualifications as an expert witness), Carlson said of children raised by their married natural parents: “They are less likely to be physically, sexually, or mentally abused, to use illegal drugs, to be involved in the juvenile justice system, to become wards of the state, or to attempt suicide. Marriage law has privileged the sexual relation of man to woman because of these positive effects on children, which have also made valuable contributions to society.”
Carlson was born in Iowa and is the author of more than 10 published books on marriage and family, including “Conjugal America: On the Public Purposes of Marriage” (2006) and “The Natural Family: Bulwark of Liberty” (2008).
World Congress of Families is an international gathering of pro-family leaders, scholars, parliamentarians and activists held every two years. World Congress of Families V will be held in Amsterdam, August 10-12, 2009. For more information on World Congress of Families, go to http://www.worldcongress.org.