Dear Abby

Yes, I wrote a letter to Dear Abby today! Yes, I get easily distracted from the stuff I should be doing… sorry everyone!

“Dear Abby:

For the heck of it, I sometimes read your column. Often, of course, the letters have to do with the marriage relationship. You say on your website that you are trying to apply “Common Sense” to people’s problems, but I have been unsuccessful in determining the consistent “thread” or principle(s) behind your advice concerning marriage.

Sometimes I think you base your advice on the values and beliefs of the person writing. Then other times you make statements that seem to indicate you have certain basic values that you encourage people to stick to.

Could you please share with your readers your principles? And yes, that might include a description of what marriage actually is, it’s definition, (and no, I am NOT just trying to make a political hay over this) – and the privileges and responsibilities of the marriage partner.

When a person publicizes oneself as someone who gives advice, it seems to me you should be pretty explicit about where you are “coming from”. Don’t you agree?”

Let the Good Times Roll!

Here is a letter I just sent in to the Scranton “TIMES-Tribune”:

        I do subscribe to the Scranton Times-Tribune. Often times I wonder why. The media is not perfect and we can and do find many faults with it. However, it is very necessary to give credit where credit is due. I want to say a very hearty Thank You to The Times Tribune for its work on revealing the travesty of corruption taking place here in NEPA – the latest example being with the NEIU and Mr. Fred Rosetti. It makes me remember my exciting High School journalism class where we learned how to ask the right questions and were taught that good reporting can make an important and positive difference to society. I appreciate our local newspaper today because I know how fragile the future of the news industry is with the advent of the “free” internet news and the decline of paid news agencies. I wonder if people are recognizing that without subscribers and a healthy news industry this kind of investigative reporting that has influence over a wide portion of the population will most certainly be lost.
        So let’s hear a hurrah for good, fair, and hard nosed local news reporters who will never bow to sensationalization or “Yellow Journalism”, but who are dedicated to making a positive difference to our community by uncovering the truth and holding all our citizens accountable to the laws of the land and the promises they make. And don’t forget to buy your newspaper!

Wikileaks: Is Openness is Always Best?

The Wikileaks phenomenon is raising an important issue that we deal with every day of our lives. Today there is this idea floating around that being completely open about everything is always the best! There is a certain logic to this idea. It makes sense because half truths, lies, and secrets mean that there must be something nefarious going on. Why should anyone do anything that should be kept a secret? If you are going to do something – it had better be able to stand the scrutiny of others.

This is an example of what is so frustrating about living in a broken world. There really SHOULDN’T be secrets! We SHOULDN’T do anything other than the truly righteous acts which should stand up to the scrutiny of others. And we SHOULDN’T say anything about anyone behind their backs that we wouldn’t say in their presence.

But the reality is that because we live in a sinful world where communications and intentions are always misconstrued and the devil is always out to sow hatred and enemies at every turn, it is really important to know that there are times in which it is quite necessary to keep information from others. This goes for personal as well as international relationships.

There are many problems with this of course. What is the difference between lying and just not saying anything, or telling half the truth and not the whole truth? How much of our lives do we learn to live as an outright lie? The scripture warns against the deceiver. And does one’s INTENTIONS solve our problem? Is it true that if we have a good intention or a good end that we have permission to lie and deceive towards it? Do the ends justify the means?

In so many ways, no matter what we do, we end up in deep trouble and mired in sin. Often we are reduced to “Sinning Boldly” and trusting in the fabulous Grace of our Lord to overcome and forgive our sin. Life is often a choice between two evils. In this Advent time we Christians earnestly yearn for the Second Coming of the Lord and the end of all this madness and compromise of every good thing of God.

I suppose as we stumble our way through life – constantly coming face to face with decisions about what to say and not say, we most certainly want to do whatever we can to be honest and truthful in all things. Obviously if we ARE righteous in all our doings and think with the Christ-like mind we will certainly be faced with many fewer circumstances where we feel compelled to keep anything secret.

Finally, it is TRULY precious to know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is very generous to us in sharing his heart of compassion and love for us as fallen humans. And as scripture states: God cannot lie about it! (Although yes, He does keep some things from us, this is only because we are INCAPABLE of conceiving the full mind of God.) The amazing thing is that we don’t have to spy and steal to know the heart of God. He has revealed it to us plainly in His Word that we might know His salvation! It is too bad we somehow like to keep this beautiful news a secret – as if we might be categorized as Julian Assange and have all the nations hunting us down if we leak it out!

Go ahead! Leak it! Tell the truth and nothing but the truth! Jesus is born! Jesus died! Jesus lives! In Him you can love and live – forever!

Let’s Talk About “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The Pentagon has finally come forward with their report which recommends the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. Of course it was, for a long time, a foregone conclusion and I have no doubts that the policy will be repealed and that gays will be able to serve in the military openly. And after thinking through the whole issue I don’t really have a problem with it – if the study is honest in its assessment that it won’t make that much of a difference in the effectiveness of the military.

However, my main concern is not that the Pentagon should decide that gays can serve openly in the military, but that a Federal Court determined about a month ago that the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was unconstitutional and ordered that it be struck down. The scary thing for us as churches is that we have the prospect of a court someday saying to us that we cannot “discriminate” as a Christian church against, say for instance, an openly gay individual who desires to be ordained.

If you think about it, the word “discriminate” is not really a bad word. Of course, some kinds of discrimination are wrong (the scriptures say specifically, for example, that discrimination against the poor is wrong.)  The fact is that we discriminate ALL THE TIME – and often for good reason! When you chose your spouse you were most certainly discriminatory. Children are not allowed to drive. Illegal immigrants can’t collect social security. If you are overweight and have a bum leg the army is likely to discriminate against you and say you can’t serve your country – no matter how much you want to. Not many would think of these discriminations as being unfair.

But the issue of “gay rights” in the military illustrates this incredible problem that we have in determining appropriate discrimination in our society – especially when it comes to these controversial “moral” issues of the day. The real question is WHO should make these discriminations – and upon what basis? Are the Courts to make these judgments? Or elected governments? Is the basis for those judgments the Bible or popular opinion – or just practicality? Should we as Christians really expect that the government would prop up a biblical worldview in its governance – especially when most of its citizens don’t agree with it? But what of the courts? Should they have power to dictate to institutions who they must hire for a particular job? It is a hard thing to come to good answers!

And so we come to the church – a church that does indeed PLAINLY discriminate against individuals who, according to the judgment of God in the scriptures, act contrary to His will. With Jesus-modeled kindness and compassion, recognizing that we are ALL sinners, we are to witness to the truth in love. We are called to discriminate in our church between those who openly and purposefully sin against the Lord (and this, of course, extends to other issues besides the gay lifestyle), and those who do not.

Supposedly we have this treasure called ‘religious freedom” in this country which would allow us as a church to continue to discriminate according to our faith and conviction. Let us pray that we can keep it!