Saturday, April 20, 2019

To Build Or Feed? (Why God Allows A Quick Rebuilding Of Notre Dame Than Alleviating Poverty?)


           We were not only shocked to see the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral engulfed in flames, but we were also shocked to see the speed at which donors pledged money to rebuild this cathedral. “Within hours of the fire that destroyed much of the cathedral on Monday, donors pledged more than $1 billion to restore the Parisian icon to its former glory,” reports The Washington Post.1

            The New York Times relays the just anger of those who recognize the evil disparity in rebuilding iconic structures over feeding the millions who remain in utter poverty, “But the spectacle of billionaires trying to one-up one another quickly intensified resentments over inequality that have flared during the Yellow Vest movement, just as President Emmanuel Macron was looking to transform the calamity into a new era of national unity…

            “Can you imagine, 100 million, 200 million in one click!” said Philippe Martinez, the head of the militant CGT labor union. “It really shows the inequalities in this country.”

            “If they’re able to give dozens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame,” he added, “they should stop telling us that there is no money to pay for social inequalities.”

            Ollivier Pourriol, a French philosopher and novelist, summed up the sentiment more drolly.

            “Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame and proposes that they do the same thing with Les Misérables,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to another one of Hugo’s famous novels, about the lives of the poor.”2

            Yes, this anger is indeed appropriate.

            What’s the big need to rebuild an iconic structure when more than a million lives are in danger of dying because of the acute poverty they are in?  

            Well, this is precisely the world that we live in. The optics of rebuilding an iconic structure seems more significant than the optics of rehabilitation of the millions who lack the basic necessities of life.

            Regrettably, we even err in the optics!

            The frenzied response of the donors to the rebuilding of Notre Dame has ignited anger towards God in the minds of some who seek the truth amidst the multitude of hypocrisies in this world. The question they ask is this, ‘Why does God allow a quick rebuilding of an iconic structure rather than alleviating poverty?’

            An answer that does not multiply causes beyond necessity does justice to Occam’s razor. Let’s then strive for such an answer.

            First, be cognizant of the hypocrisy of importing God into this theme. When we zealously reject God while we kill our unborn babies (cf. Pro-Choice movement), why do we itch to import God in the rebuilding of Notre Dame?

            Let this remain a rhetorical question.  

            Second, everyone in whose mind this question resides knows we are not living in a theocratic society. We are neither ruled by God directly nor by priests claiming a divine commission. Given this reality, why do we even strive to import God into the decision-making process of a man? Or are we alluding that these billionaires are absolutely devout and godly that they look to the Triune God for every business decision?

            Let this also remain a rhetorical question.

            Third, what is God’s role in such situations as rebuilding Notre Dame? God has created us as free creatures. We are free to do this or that.

            God did not coerce the billionaires to donate a portion of their wealth towards rebuilding Notre Dame. Of this, we can be sure.  

            In fact, I posit godlessness to be the driving force that motivated these billionaires to pledge their millions.

            In our dispensation, we are cognizant of God’s mind with respect to such predicaments. If a godly man is presented an option to either feed the poor or build an extravagant structure (rather unnecessary) that would only serve as a good optics for that city or society, the godly man would inevitably choose to feed the poor.

            The Bible remarkably associates God’s final judgment to our care for the needy and the poor in our society:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25: 31-46, NIV)

            This passage, significantly, reveals that it’s not that those who feed the poor and care for the needy are made righteous in God’s presence. But it is the righteous (those who are already righteous by virtue of their belief and discipleship in Christ) that genuinely feed the poor and care for the needy.

            Therefore, every righteous believer of the Triune God would zealously strive to alleviate the suffering of God’s people than building extravagant structures that gratify the carnal passions of a secular man.

            So to conclude, if God is the active ruler of every wealthy person, poverty would have been extinct years ago. However, since God does not violate the freewill HE has offered to man, HE allows the man to decide on every matter. So man has the freedom to decide on every matter either by being obedient to God or by casting God out of his decision making purview.

            The rebuilding of Notre Dame is a recent instance of man’s decision that reveals the extent of his allegiance to the Triune God. 

Endnotes:

1https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/billionaires-raced-to-pledge-money-to-rebuild-notre-dame-then-came-the-backlash/2019/04/18/7133f9a2-617c-11e9-bf24-db4b9fb62aa2_story.html?fbclid=IwAR3xi__SeXPM57L2_Ft8X1NSlghAL3mAsa2tQyeP5wT_cU_6VF6yFlRhOds&utm_term=.36b8775f8d5d

2https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/europe/yellow-vest-notre-dame-fire-donations.html

Websites last accessed on 20th April 2019.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Consent Condoms & Consensual Sex


            The New York Post recently reported the latest development in the realm of sexual ethics – the “consent condom.” The article states, “This new “consent condom” is a hands-on experience.

            Tulipán, an Argentinian sex toy company, has created a new rubber that requires four hands to open — ensuring that both parties are equally involved in the decision to have sex.

            How it works: All four corners of the packaging must be pressed at the same time to open it.

            These origami-style contraceptive containers read, “If it’s not a yes, it’s a no.”

            Tulipán won’t officially launch the new prophylactic until later this year. Until then, the company is handing them out at bars in Buenos Aires for couples to test — and hyping them on social media, of course.”1

            The consent condom is obviously predicated on ‘consent’ – the current sexual ethic that governs the sexual behavior of the impetuous and the naïve.

            According to Christian apologist, Sean McDowell (in his article entitled THE NEW “CONSENT CONDOM” IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES) this latest development reveals the failure of the sexual revolution:2

Creating a "Consent Condom" is certainly a savvy marketing move that will draw attention to their brand and may contribute to the conversation about reducing sexual assault (although it is questionable how much it will really help).
The point of this blog is not about the company and its marketing efforts, but to ask a deeper question: What does the creation of a “Consent Condom” reveal about the current sexual ethic?
Consent Condoms and Modern Sex
The first point is obvious: The new sexual ethic is consent. As long as it is consensual, any sexual behavior between adults is permissible. Former behavior that was considered shameful, such as pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexual behavior, and so on, is now considered permissible if there is consent.
Failure of the Sexual Revolution
The second point regarding the “Consent Condom” is that it reveals the failure of the sexual revolution. That’s right. It shows that the promises of the sexual revolution are vacuous.
We were promised free love. We were promised freedom from sexual repression. We were promised increased mental and sexual health for individuals and society.
According to Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce, proponents of the sexual revolution promised that “sexual liberation” would lead to the transformation of human nature:
 “Through absolute, unlimited sexual freedom, man will free himself of neurosis and become fully capable of work and initiative. His psychological structure will be changed, and he will also be freed from military and aggressive tendencies, and from sadist fantasies.”
Transformed Human Nature
Interestingly, Del Noce notes that proponents of the sexual revolution promised it would lead to people being less aggressive and freed from sexual fantasies. It's hard to imagine how anyone could argue this is the case.
Honestly, are we seeing a decrease in sexual aggressiveness? Are we seeing an increase in sexual self-control?
Quite obviously the opposite is the case. Rather than seeing less aggression, we are having a national conversation about the reality of sexual aggression (hence the need for the new condom). Rather than seeing more mental self-control, we are experiencing the pornification of society.
The fact that someone invented a “Consent Condom” shows how far we have come. It was designed to start the conversation about sexual assault, and it might do so. But in doing so, it also reveals something much deeper about the modern sexual ethic and the failure of the sexual revolution.

            Furthermore, let us revisit the theme of consensus being the justifying factor for sex outside the precincts of monogamous heterosexual marriage. I had debunked consensual sex with respect to homosexuality from the perspective of natural law in an earlier blog of mine entitled, Does Consensual and Harmless Sexual Intercourse Legitimize Homosexuality? That reasoning is not limited to homosexuality but can be used against any form of consensual sex. Here’s an excerpt:3

Much acclaimed theologian of the Catholic church, Thomas Aquinas, bases his doctrine on natural law. Natural law “does not refer to the laws of nature, the laws that science aims to describe. According to natural law moral theory, the moral standards that govern human behavior are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings and the nature of the world… St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, identifies the rational nature of human beings as that which defines moral law: "the rule and measure of human acts is the reason, which is the first principle of human acts" (Aquinas, ST I-II, Q.90, A.I). On this common view, since human beings are by nature rational beings, it is morally appropriate that they should behave in a way that conforms to their rational nature. Thus, Aquinas derives the moral law from the nature of human beings (thus, "natural law").”2
So now I prefer to approach the theme of gay sex being consensual and harmless from the perspective of natural law…
(1)  The nature or essence of every biological organ, according to natural law theory, involves its purposes (or final causes). So the purpose of the eyeball is to make us see. Similarly, sexual intercourse also has its own purpose, which is to procreate (bear children).
But I have heard arguments that the final cause or the purpose of sexual intercourse is the pleasure. This is wrong! Pleasure cannot be a purpose for sexual intercourse.
Think about eating. You may argue that eating is pleasurable, but the biological point of eating is not to give pleasure, but to offer the body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and survive. The pleasure of eating is nature’s way of getting us to eat.
As Professor Edward Feser states, “So, the final cause of sex is procreation, and the final cause of sexual pleasure is to get us to indulge in sex, so that we’ll thereby procreate…Notice also that nature makes it very difficult to indulge in sex without procreation. There is no prophylactic sheathe issued with a penis at birth, and no diaphragm issued with a vagina. It takes some effort to come up with these devices, and even then, in the form in which they existed for most of human history they were not terribly effective.”3
(2) Natural law theory states that an action or a behavior, even if it does not harm anyone else, need not be acceptable or need not be the normal way of living life.
The life of an alcoholic is not acceptable, even if he/she does not harm anyone. Similarly, a person – inclined to molest children (even if he has not molested children) – who masturbates to pictures of naked children is living a sick life. Such a person is not living the way a normal human ought to live.
Therefore, gay sex cannot be justified even if it were harmless.
(3) In the same manner, consensus cannot be a legitimate reason for an action/behavior. Gay people cannot argue that consensual sex is always righteous.
Consensual sex cannot be righteous always. A pedophile cannot argue that he had sex with a child because the child consented. A parent cannot claim that he/she had sex with his/her child (minor or major) because the child agreed to have sex with the parent. In a marriage, consensus between the husband and the wife to have sex with others outside the marriage does not justify their affairs.
I will summarize now:
A. According to natural law theory, the main purpose of sex is procreation through the sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Thus gay sex cannot be natural, but it is an abnormal activity/behavior.
B. For reasons mentioned in (2) and (3), consensual and harmless sex cannot justify gay sex.
But remember that this question was popularized by the renowned atheist, Richard Dawkins, and his fellow New Atheists. If you are an atheist, you can do just about anything and everything because you are your own authority (cf. relative morality and subjective truth claims). The problem with your position is that if you justify homosexuality, you should also, by the very same logic, endorse/accept bestiality, adultery, polyamory, incest, pedophilia etc.
I have only one request to you if you are an atheist; please do not yield to your subjective desires, for they can absolutely mislead you. Ask God in utter sincerity, by assuming HIS presence, to reveal HIMSELF to you, and HE will indeed do so.
If you are a Christian and if you are still unable to understand that a consensual and a harmless sex cannot justify homosexuality, then please communicate with your pastor or your church elder. Else please contact me. (My contact information is available on this website.)
Therefore, the notion that gay sex is acceptable if it is consensual and harmless is invalid and a false assertion.

            To conclude, consensual sex cannot justify any form of sex outside a monogamous heterosexual marriage.

Endnotes:

1https://nypost.com/2019/04/04/this-consent-condom-takes-four-hands-to-open/

2https://seanmcdowell.org/blog/the-new-consent-condom-is-a-sign-of-the-times

3https://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2018/06/does-consensual-and-harmless-sexual.html

Websites last accessed on 15th April 2019.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Persecution Of Christians Highest In Modern History

            Christian persecution is at an all-time high, according to a report in Faithwire. An article entitled A Staggering 11 Christians Are Killed Every Single Day for Simply Believing in Jesus reports the following:1

When we talk about Christian persecution, it is easy to get lost in the vast array of facts and figures. We say we know that, across the world, many people are dying for their faith in Jesus, but do we truly understand the scale of it? New data taken from the latest Open Doors World Watch List indicate that some 11 Christians are martyred for their faith every single day.
The shockingly high death toll was taken from the top 50 countries ranked on this year’s World Watch List and demonstrates the incredible level of religious persecution that continues to plague the planet.
“Today, in the 21st century, we are living in a time when persecution against Christian believers is the highest in modern history,” the persecution watchdog explained in an update. “The Christian persecution we read about in Scripture and history books is not a thing of the past.”
The top five
Currently, the top five most dangerous countries in which to live as a Christian are:
1.      North Korea
2.      Afghanistan
3.      Somalia
4.      Libya
5.      Pakistan
As is the case in all of these countries, Christians remain in grave danger for simply choosing to believe in Christ. In North Korea, believers are forced into dangerous underground congregations, the discovery of which can result in persecution, arrest and even execution.
In Afghanistan, Christianity is completely outlawed, with the country’s constitution asserting Islam as the state religion. Open Doors notes that to “convert to a faith outside Islam is tantamount to treason because it’s seen as a betrayal of family, tribe and country,” adding that “very often, there is only one possible outcome for exposed and caught Christians: death.”
Pakistan has made headlines in recent years due to the protracted case brought against Christian mother Asia Bibi. Bibi, who has five children, was convicted under the country’s notorious blasphemy laws over a decade ago, and was swiftly sentenced to death. However, last October Bibi was acquitted by the Supreme Court in an unprecedented ruling that gave hope to many within the marginalized faith community.
Latest on Asia Bibi
Despite her acquittal almost six months ago, Bibi is still being held at an undisclosed location in Pakistan.
In the latest development, the head of an Irish human rights charity has personally urged the Pakistani authorities to do more in order to secure the release of Bibi and ensure her safe passage to Canada, where she has been granted asylum.
            Newsweek cites the study by Aid to the Church in Need 2 to emphasize that Christian persecution is worse than any time in history. Here’s an excerpt:3

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.
The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times. 
“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution,” the report said.
The report examined the plight of Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey over the period lasting from 2015 until 2017. The research showed that in that time, Christians suffered crimes against humanity, and some were hanged or crucified. The report found that Saudi Arabia was the only country where the situation for Christians did not get worse, and that was only because the situation couldn’t get any worse than it already was.
            In its report ‘World Watch List 2019,’ Open Doors, an organization that serves persecuted Christians worldwide, lists 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be a Christian. Listed below are those 50 countries:4

1. North Korea
11. Syria
21. Central African Republic

31. Jordan

41. Russian Federation

2. Afghanistan
12. Nigeria
22. Algeria

32. Nepal

42. Malaysia

3. Somalia
13. Iraq
23. Turkmenistan

33. Bhutan

43. Kuwait

4. Libya
14. Maldives
24. Mali

34. Kazakhstan

44. Oman

5. Pakistan
15. Saudi Arabia
25. Mauritania

35. Morocco

45. United Arab Emirates

6. Sudan
16. Egypt
26. Turkey

36. Brunei

46. Sri Lanka

7. Eritrea
17. Uzbekistan
27. China

37. Tunisia

47. Colombia

8. Yemen
18. Myanmar
28. Ethiopia

38. Qatar

48. Bangladesh

9. Iran
19. Laos
29. Tajikistan

39. Mexico

49. Palestinian Territories

10. India
20. Vietnam
30. Indonesia
40. Kenya

50. Azerbaijan

            























          This report also reveals an increase in persecution in India and China, “For the first time since the start of the World Watch List, India has entered the top 10. Additionally, China jumped 16 spots, from 43 to 27. Each of these countries is home to more than a billion people, so these trends are distressing. Hindu nationalists in India continue to attack Christians with what seems like no consequences, and in China, the increased power of the government and the rule of Xi Jinping continue to make open worship difficult in some parts of the country.”5

            The Bible teaches us that the persecuted are blessed, in a spiritual sense (cf. Matthew 5:10-11; Luke 6:22). However, it goes without saying, that Christians, who live a more secure and safe life as a Christian, ought to not only pray for those who are persecuted but also provide for their material needs.

            Let the grace of giving define our Christian life. Thus may we love each other as to how we love ourselves.

Endnotes:

1https://www.faithwire.com/2019/03/14/a-staggering-11-christians-are-killed-every-single-day-for-simply-believing-in-jesus/

2A pontifical foundation that focuses on assisting the Church wherever it is persecuted, oppressed or in material need

3https://www.newsweek.com/christian-persecution-genocide-worse-ever-770462

4https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

5https://www.opendoorsusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/WWL2019_FullBooklet.pdf


Websites last accessed on 31st March 2019.