Saturday, November 24, 2007

Loving God and Loving our Neighbors -- a Balance?

Many things in life, particularly the Christian life, are represented as needing balance. Extremes, sometimes dangerous, are on both sides. In many areas this is probably true.

Our love for God is not one of those areas.

The basic commandment is to "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." James emphasizes the need to "keep himself unspotted from the world." Jesus says we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him.

These are not words of moderation or balance.

So, what are we to do? Go become monks and nuns so we can pray more? Create our own sub-society and minimize our interaction with those around us?

Some Christians and religious people have thought so, but that is not the call God has given us. Right next to the instruction to love God supremely usually comes the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. That involves a lot of interaction with those around us. We don't love our neighbors by tossing some Gospel literature over the fence once in a while. We don't love those hurting from the destructive lifestyles popular in our culture by giving them a "God bless you", "be thou warmed and filled" and going our way.

Neither do we love others by promoting or excusing their sin. The doctor who cares about his patient will tell him to do what he needs to to be more healthy -- stop smoking, lose weight, exercise ... whatever it is. He who loves someone in sin will tell him he needs to be saved from it!

Many groups have promoted either purity or love of others as though the two were in opposition. But the same God who thundered from Sinai "Thou shalt have no other gods" gave the commandment "Love thy neighbor". The same Jesus who drove the polluters from the temple showed compassion to the poorest and brought salvation to the worst.

Some of Christ's followers have also learned to excel in both aspects of love. They have demonstrated that loving God as we should leads us to love our neighbors as we should.

J Hudson Taylor loved the Chinese more than almost anyone of his time. But he loved God supremely. Jim Elliot loved the Aucas, not because they were a likable set of people, but because he loved God. Francis of Assissi could lead his followers to do good among the peasants because, somewhere back in that monastery, he learned to really love God.

The brightest lights in any dark place are those who love God with the greatest purity. Let us let our light shine that men may glorify our Father. We do that by loving others while we keep ourselves unspotted.

I am not endorsing all aspects of any of the organizations with which the Christians I have cited were affiliated. Certainly not the Roman Church of which Francis, made a saint by Christ's blood and not the Pope's decree, was a part. Francis was an early reformer and a shining light within that organization. When I worship in heaven with him, whatever points he still didn't get right won't be so important any more.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Excellent editorial on sexualization of culture for girls

Carol Platt Liebau has an excellent article at When is our nation going to wake up and protect our girls? Perhaps when we start protecting the unborn. From her article:

Recent reports of a policy allowing 11- to 13-year-old students at King Middle School in Portland, Maine to receive contraceptives without parental consent elicited a storm of press coverage and shock on the part of everyday Americans, given the students' youth. Just last week, a news story from Ohio reported that three girls, two 13 years old and one who is 14, were having sex with as many as fourteen boys and men, even as the CDC announced that one million cases of Chlamydia were found in the U.S. last year -- the highest ever reported for any sexually transmitted disease. All the stories are only the latest symptom of an underlying cultural pathology – one that relies on the silence and timidity of responsible adults in order to flourish.

Societies, like parents, get the behavior they expect from their children. Given the messages transmitted by our popular culture, it’s hardly surprising that even middle schoolers would conclude that developing a sex life is not only acceptable, but almost expected of them. American society has come far from the days when parents, clergy and the culture stood together to encourage young women, in particular, to resist sexual behavior that could have lifelong negative repercussions for them. Then, sexual modesty was honored, even in the breach; today, when it comes to sex, the cultural mandate is to “just do it” – and most of the time, that mandate goes unchallenged.

Continue reading Liebau's editorial at

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