“MOM AND POP”

TWO-KINGDOM PAPERS

“a Christian public philosophy for life for the average joe and josephine”

  “MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE                            
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

Why Standing For Life Matters for Us All

A few months ago, my daughter and I went to the Newseum here in Washington D.C. There in the museum was a remnant of the fallen Berlin Wall between that divided East Germany from West Germany, and the sobering reality of the freedoms Communism removed from its own citizens. In the museum, there were also exhibits related to the Holocaust, haunting movies of man’s inhumanity to man. I remember the moderator’s challenge to “look at these things intently, really look, don’t turn away, so that such things might never happen again. Those are sobering words.

The challenge of those exhibits matters if we look with open eyes at the inhumanities in our own midst. With the concerns raised in the past weeks about the effects of policy on children, it should cause our country to look clearly at the enduring “child holocaust” that continues to happen in America. Thousands of children are killed each day, mostly as a matter of convenience for the sexual practices of consenting adults. Movies like “Silent Scream” and other gruesome pictures that try to demonstrate what happens in such clinics each day are summarily dismissed with calls to “look away” as if there’s nothing here. With science clearly demonstrating that the fetus is a child at conception, one that can feel pain at the 20th week or even before, funding the destruction of the most helpless among us is an enduring public scandal. And then there are reports like the one attached by LIVEACTION called Aiding Abusers – Planned Parenthood’s coverup of Child Sexual Abuse, 2018 It shows that an industry which provides abortions is motivated even to abuse its patients when it affects the bottom line.

Such things matter to us all because a culture that willfully destroys the most vulnerable in its midst eventually develops a coarseness and an inhumanity that can destroy the culture itself. If civility, humaneness, and peace matter for us, we need to “look intently” at abortion anew.

In 1994, Mother Theresa spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in our Nation’s Capitol, saying, 

The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child - a direct killing of the innocent child - murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?... By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world…..Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching the people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.[1]

Giving abortion a “hard look” leads us to stand for life because the sanctity of life matters for all.

 


 

 

 

“MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

The Sanctity of Life and the Institution of the Family!

There’s a disturbing trend in the European and American Western cultures. It’s the virtual dissolution of the family as an institution (See Ted Malloch’s, The Tragedy of the European Family @ undefined). While we are having discussions (or lack thereof) about relationship “fairness” for all, about no-fault divorce and serial monogamy with impunity, the actual building block of society is being ridiculed and ravaged with enormous consequences. In this month of looking at “life issues,” there’s none more important than the institution of the family as a unit that was meant to protect and foster life. From a biblical perspective, marriage is not only a sacred bond between a man and a woman for life (Matthew 19:6), it is a necessary foundation for a healthy society (whether people believe in its sanctity or not). When the notion of “family as an institution” erodes, there is more crime, more societal unrest, more poverty, and more vulnerability for those who need the loving protection and guidance of a father, a mother, brothers, and sisters, as well as an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who love them. That’s more to marriage than a mere relationship; a healthy, institutional view of marriage is fundamental to a healthy society.

Here’s another weighty thought: while it is true that the Bible proclaims such a view of family, it is not unusual to find this attitude about family even in cultures that do not affirm the Bible’s authority. That shouldn’t surprise us. The Commandment to honor one’s father and mother (Exodus 20:12) is intrinsic in virtually every culture around the world because it is intrinsic to the hearts of human beings created by God (see Romans 2:14-15). Again, that’s why it’s disturbing to see the cultural trends undermining marriage in Western cultures, societies that at one-time honored marriage as an institution, not merely a relationship. Sadly, the most vulnerable, especially children, are the first casualties in this short-sighted re-imagining of marriage and the family.

Malloch’s article identifies a disturbing undercurrent in all of this. The family dissolution is not happenstance.  It is part of a movement to empower the State in the most basic relationships of society, that of marriage and children. Just think back to the debates about marriage in the last few years where many have proffered the notion of the government’s role in establishing relationship “fairness.” People have spoken of the government granting civil rights to all; you know, the way that they do for a man and a woman. But that idea is completely backward from the way that the State should engage us in our relationships. The State doesn’t grant us civil rights. Those are granted to us by our Creator. In fact, the State’s natural impulse is to limit people’s rights for its own power. That’s just how power, especially political power, works in the world. So, what’s the role of the State in marriage? In a proper role regarding marriage, the State would limit its involvement to those areas where it had a vested interest. For example, in “marriage,” it limits the rights of a man and woman (i.e., makes them sign the contract called “marriage”) purely due to the physiological reality that such a relationship could produce a child. And children need their parents (more than the State) to raise them, educate them, protect them, and love them. That’s what is under attack today. That’s the issue on the table and there are societal consequences when the State usurps its role as a defender of God-given rights and starts defining what our rights are, even defining what healthy relationships are for all.

The next time that you see issues of community violence, poverty, or illiteracy come up, ask yourself, “Why all these solutions from the State?” “Why aren’t they talking about strengthening the family as an institution instead?” They should be, because when families are strong, life is valued, children are nurtured, and society is blessed. Defending traditional marriage is not merely a discussion about relationships. It’s a discussion about a healthy society, one that values life in all of its vulnerabilities.

 

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 “MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

If Politics Can’t Solve Our Problems, then What Will?

During times like Advent and Lent, those who engage the culture from a Two-Kingdom perspective[1] are fully aware that human efforts, whether political, economic, philosophic, or even religious, are incapable of bringing the fulfillment in life that humans crave and even strive for. Senator Ben Sasse wrote a persuasive opinion article last month in the Wall Street Journal that described the issue in even more stark terms. It was entitled, “Politics Can’t Solve Our Political Problems.” (See the full article at undefined) But, here’s the problem for many today: if politics can’t even solve political problems, then how can it solve the deeps divisions and problems that exist between the people groups of our culture, or people in personal relationships that matter? If politics, even faithfully practiced, is thus incapable, then what is?

Unfortunately, the first reaction to our human “incapacity” is to deny that it exists. Just do a google search on the responses to Sasse’s article. Such a search will find many critics. Some actually accuse him of being lax in his work, uncaring for those who struggle. They assert that “if he would just put his political power to work,” all the problems of poverty, crime, insecurity, and humanity’s lack of fulfilment would just go away. Such views are unfortunate. As they say, “Me thinks that they protest too much.” Even amidst the technological, economic, and social changes of the last 100 years, one can see human depravity and brokenness throughout.

So, for those of us who are confident that Sasse is “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) about our human, political limitations, what prevents us from being pessimistically negative about these same issues? Simply this: God is at work in this world to preserve and to save! That’s the Advent message which still matters today. That’s a message that has public-cultural ramifications, as well as personal-spiritual ones. The Bible proclaims that God is at work in the world to preserve and to save. But those works are radically different. One is temporal and limited (Left-hand Kingdom rule); the other is eternal and limitless (Right-hand Kingdom rule). The first happens as God works through the vocations of even sinful people to preserve culture, to keep the peace, to keep things relatively civil and just. The second happens as He works through the perfect work of His Son, the Christmas child, to save each person in this world as a gift.

Sasse reminds us that our work, whether in politics, business, or other forms of public service, is important, but it can’t deal with the ultimate heart and soul issues that still plague us at the end of the day. He calls us to something more. His answer, “The good news is it’s fixable, but it requires friendship, it requires more attention to place and family and shared vocation and work and neighborhood and worshiping communities.”[2]

A Two-Kingdom focus says more. It would value his list, but it would emphasize the last phrase of his answer as the most important of all. In fact, the ultimate solutions is not even the actions of the “worshipping communities,” but the actions of the One who is to be worshipped. God’s preserving work and God’s gracious saving work in the world help us look honestly at the work we can do. They also enable us to rejoice in the work that only God can do to heal the deep brokenness in every human heart. That perspective can go a long way in dealing with the issues that are before us today like never before.

 

  


 

 

“MOM AND POP PAPERS” ON TWO-KINGDOMS – A CHRISTIAN, PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY FOR LIFE
Copyright © 2018 Gregory P. Seltz

No Higher Authority? The Epicentral Question of the Culture War.

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary for President Bill Clinton, said, 

The true battle (of the 21st Century) will be between the modern society and the anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is a mere preparation for existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma; Terrorism will disrupt and destroy lives. But, it is not the greatest danger that we face.”[3]

From where I stand, those appear quite clearly to be fighting words, right? It would seem that Mr. Reich has drawn a line in the sand, defining an “us versus them” reality. He even maligns those who disagree with him, calling them “anti-modernists,” whatever that means. By the way, I realize that he believes wholeheartedly in what he is saying.  But any time you label your ideological components as “anti” your view, that’s not a debate or a dialogue; “them’s fighting words!”

So, as Christians, why fight? Or should I ask, “Why fight back?” Why battle? Isn’t this a “turn the other cheek moment” which may be necessary for sharing the Gospel? Isn’t our humility our greatest asset in these debates? Yes, and no. It is true that our proclamation of the truth is from the position of humility, not arrogance. It is true that our sharing of the faith is willing to endure all kinds of false caricatures and abuse. But, when it comes to the moral and ethical fundamentals of the society in which one lives, one should never abandon the battle for what that actually truth is. When Reich speaks of those who owe their identity and allegiance to some higher authority, he is not just demeaning Christianity, but all who see the very moral structure of the world as a gift of God. While Christians proclaim a unique message of

 

[1] Two-Kingdom cultural engagement emphasizes that God is at work in the world these two different ways: First,  through the vocations of all people, believers and non, to preserve this sinful world; second, through the person and work of His Son, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ to save the world and to proclaim that forgiveness, life, and salvation as a unique gift of faith to all who believe. God at work in two distinct ways, to preserve and to save! Believers are to seek to follow His lead then in both arenas of God’s rule.

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[3] Ramesh Ponnuru, “Robert Reich’s Religion Problem,”  National Review Online, July 6, 2004