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The Day After

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

When I got home last night after teaching a class at the little college just over the mountain from my home, a glance at the television set told me that the votes had been counted and that Barack Obama would be the 44th president of the United States.

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama.  I couldn’t in good conscience pull the lever for a man that advocates abortion and promotes homosexual lifestyles.  I disagree with the idea that the answer to America’s economic woes is to spread the wealth around.  I’m nervous about Mr. Obama’s lack of experience and the path that he took to get to where he is today.

However, I believe in democracy.  America voted yesterday, and a transfer of power is coming January 20th not by force or tyranny, but by the will of the people.  That is the way it ought to be.

John Adams said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”  I’m not sure what he meant by that, but perhaps he feared that America would forget what life was like under Great Britain when they were not free.  A democracy commits suicide when it quits believing in itself and refuses to accept the results of a general election.  If we let that happen, America dies.

Even Christians who are opposed to the liberal social agenda can find something to appreciate in an Obama presidency.  Barack Obama is this country’s first black president.  Forty years ago the idea of a black president was unthinkable.  Obama’s presidency is a sign that we’ve entered a post-racial age.  This has come not a day too early.  Christians worship a God who does not respect persons, one who created all men equal, as the Declaration of Independence explains.  Barack Obama may not end the sin of abortion or homosexuality, but maybe he symbolizes the end of a great sin that is often overlooked in our churches–the sin of racism.

This morning I was driving along, enjoying the beautiful fall foliage, when my eye caught a McCain-Palin sign, above which someone had posted another, larger sign with bold black lettering that read, “Don’t Blame Me!”  I don’t know who lives in the house where this sign is posted, but whoever he is, he needs to step back from politics and take a deep breath.

I’m reminded of a poem by Yeats:

How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?

There’s more to life than politics.  We may have a new president come January, and he will certainly wield an influence over this country, but our lives will continue for the most part the way they always have.  We still have our careers and the bills and the kids’ homework and errands to run.  There will be weekends with friends, holidays with family, and church services with brothers and sisters in Christ.

For Christians there is a higher mission.  Obama ran on change, but the political arena changes little.  The gospel is God’s power for change.  Now that the election is over, let’s refocus and do our work as ambassadors for Christ.

Punishment

Monday, April 7th, 2008

In my Ethics class, I teach my students that punishment involves the following five elements.

  1. Punishment must involve pain, harm, or some other consequence normally considered unpleasant.
  2. The punishment must be administered for an offense against a law or rule.
  3. The punishment must be administered to someone who has been judged guilty of an offense.
  4. The punishment must be imposed by someone other than the offender.
  5. The punishment must be imposed by rightful authority (Olen and Barry, Applying Ethics, 320-231).

During a Q&A session in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Barack Obama responded to a woman’s plea to “stop these abortions.” After giving the typical Democratic response that we have to trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, he elaborated on his belief that sex education ought to be taught in public schools.

Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.

What did he mean by “punished with a baby”? Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but as far as I know, he hasn’t retracted his words. It appears that Senator Obama really does think of some pregnancies as punishment, which means he believes a baby is “harm” inflicted on a guilty person by a rightful authority.
Is he saying babies bring “harm” to their mothers? Does he mean that irresponsible, premarital sex is morally wrong? Does he defer to God, the rightful authority who “inflicts” women with pregnancies? All these conclusions are based on the textbook meaning of the word “punishment” in the context of his statements in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps this is yet another election-year gaffe. But one ought to be more careful when he is addressing a subject as sensitive as abortion. Words mean things, and I believe Senator Obama’s words reveal a moral deficiency, not only in his own thinking but also in one of the major platforms of the Democratic party. For those who promote abortion as a woman’s right, pregnancy is punishment; babies are painful consequences of bad behavior.
I prefer David’s outlook–they are gifts from God (Ps. 127:3-5). No Democrat or Republican is going to change my mind on that.