Take a Stand on Your Knees

Modern American Christians are emotionally and spiritually soft. We believe that society is persecuting us when stores greet us with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. We feel as though society is after us when a baker is fined and put out of business for not baking a cake for a same-sex wedding. Sure, this is a departure from past traditions, but is this religious persecution?

Is the government burning our churches down during a worship service? Are sales of Bibles illegal? Are any of us afraid to tell our co-workers about our Christianity because they might tell the authorities? Are we being stoned to death in the streets because we prayed in a public space?

There are Christians around the world who literally put their lives on the line to share their faith; and they still do it. We are afraid to ask our colleagues to church because they might stop inviting us over to watch the football game next week.

What happens when someone uses a racial slur among our friends and family? The person using the epithet is chastised, punished, probably even fired. Their reputation is devastated as they are labeled a racist for life. They need not even speak the offensive term to a person of color. The effects are the same.

A similar fate awaits those who use an anti-LGBT slur.

But what happens when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain in front of a Christian? Nothing. Society finds no offense. This is to be expected. However, should Christians not do something or say something about being offended? Are we so afraid to be sanctioned by peers BECAUSE of our faith that we, like Peter, deny Christ in public?

Race and sexual orientation, at least as a means of discrimination, has only been a thing for about 170 years. Christianity, as a means of discrimination, has been around for 2,000 years. Our savior was crucified. His closest disciples were tortured, killed, and exiled. Our religion was born from suffering in the name of love and salvation. Our history is filled with being enslaved and slaughtered. Our forefathers were fed to lions in the Colosseum. Our martyrs have been beheaded, burned at the stake, placed into iron maidens, flogged, drawn and quartered, and faced the worst punishments that human beings have ever devised.

We have as much right to be offended when Christ’s name is used as a joke or a swear as any race has when someone uses a slur.

We have as much right to be offended when society bashes our God and our beliefs as any sexual orientation has when someone refuses to bake them a cake.

No. Not as much. More.

We know that Christianity is losing its influence. We know that society respects us less and less. I think a big part of the reason is how we respond. We take offense and whine. We take to Facebook to complain or we might file an anti-discrimination lawsuit. What would happen if we actually took a stand, or a knee, in the moment?

Philippians 2:10 says, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Imagine the testimony we might have if when someone uses the Lord’s name in vain, we take this verse literally and take a knee and profess our faith. How the LORD would smile upon us at such a powerful display of faith.

Colin Kaepernick lost his job for taking a knee over police brutality. Would you be willing risk your career for God?

How much strength would we show if we were able to muster some fortitude in the face of adversity, rather than slinking away into the shadows? Maybe someone watching us take a stand (or knee) is a Christian who shares our apprehension, but is inspired by our displays of courage. Maybe our colleagues would begin to treat us with as much respect as they do minorities. Maybe someone would see us living our faith and come to salvation.

Christianity is not a joke. Our Savior is not a punchline. Our LORD is not to be mocked. Our God is the creator of the universe. He will punish the unjust and unsaved. He is coming to judge and destroy the world as we know it.

And we allow people we associate with to insult us and our God without mustering one ounce of character. Until we do, we will continue to lose our society. Even if we do not go as far as to literally get on our knees when someone utters the name of our Savior, the least we can do is say “I’m sorry, but I do not appreciate your using the name of my Lord in that way.”

It’s not much, but it’s more than we do now.

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Reductio ad Racism

A reductionist fallacy occurs when we take an incredibly complex issue and reduce it to one factor while ignoring other possible factors.

Race is almost always cited as being one of, and often the most, significant factors for arrests, sentencing, and incarcerations. However, I believe that this is due to lack of imagination on behalf of researchers. Race is often presented as a causal factor – because someone is black, they are more likely to be targeted by police or policies and end up incarcerated. However, there are other intervening variables.

According to the Cato Institute, native born blacks have the highest incarceration rate of all racial and ethnic groups (4.21%). However, black legal immigrants have an incarceration rate of 0.57%, which is lower than Hispanic and “other” (mostly Middle-Eastern) races. This is a massive difference, and is the largest difference between native and immigrant incarceration rates between any racial and ethnic group. If blacks from Africa have such a relatively low incarceration rate compared to native blacks, can we really attribute the discrepancy in incarceration rates to only race?
We again discuss race as it relates to poverty and crime, but we refuse to admit that poverty may be the more important variable. Blacks make up 34% of the prison population (while only 13% of the total population), while whites (67% of the total population) make up 30% of prisons. Blacks also have a poverty rate of 22% compared to 9% for whites. We MUST consider that the reason why black incarceration rates are so much higher than white incarceration rates, is because there is a much higher rate of blacks in poverty than whites.

When we tease poverty out, rates of violence, arrests, and incarceration are virtually identical. According to the BJS, “Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) have rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).” If poverty is an equalizer, then race cannot be the primary factor.

There’s also the argument of geography. Crime is generally higher in urban areas. There is a higher concentration of blacks in urban areas. Again, when comparing overall crime rates by race, we should consider that most blacks live in crime areas than whites, but that does not mean that whites living in urban areas are committing a lower rate of crime. In most crime data used to make an argument about race, urban blacks (the majority of blacks) are essentially compared to suburban and rural whites (where they are the majority). Geography is the lost variable that I have rarely, if ever, seen considered. Perhaps research exists, but I have not seen it.

Of course, culture, as always, is ignored. American black culture, African culture, rich culture, WASP culture, Hispanic culture, Japanese culture, Asian culture, redneck culture, etc. are all different. They often have different dreams and aspirations, as well as opportunities. Their beliefs, values, and social norms are determined within the group and are difficult to change. There are plenty of examples of people moving from one sub-culture to another within a more dominant one. Assimilation rates differ, and the desire to assimilate is different among various cultures.

The argument is much more nuanced than the racial disparity proponents want to admit, and we would be hard pressed to find a plethora of data out there that dives into these nuances. It’s easier to employ the reduction fallacy, especially when it constantly remains unchecked. Political correctness and the fear of being labeled a racist stifles any further investigation.

Future research should acknowledge that racial categories are not monolithic. I doubt that will happen, because it goes against the narrative of race being the most determinate status in the history of everything.

Miracles or A Series of (Un)Fortunate Events

Something miraculous happened to me in the last month.

If you do not believe in God, you will see a series of interesting coincidences, but I would ask you to consider the chances of each of these occurring at all then compound the exponential chances of the entire series.

  1. Last May, I got into a pretty bad car accident. I was, for the first time, confronted by my own mortality.
  2. Last September, I applied for life insurance for the first time. All went well.
  3. Last November, I lost my healthcare. I stopped taking my gout medication and have not seen a doctor since.
  4. About a month ago, I was informed that I missed a payment on my life insurance, and my plan was cancelled. When I called to get reinstated, they told me I could get a better deal if I just applied for a new policy. I did, and had to submit new blood lab work.
  5. Two weeks ago, after my 8-hour comprehensive exam, my vision became dangerously bad. I thought it was eye strain from staring at the computer for so long. Over the next week, I found myself needing a nap every morning although I slept 8 hours a night. I also began to drink a gallon of water every day, and my thirst seemed unquenchable. I urinated every hour, even though the night. I knew something nefarious was going on.
  6. Last Monday, I received notice that my life insurance application was rejected. I saw my labs and found that my glucose levels were pretty high. I believe I have developed Type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar, blurred vision, increased thirst, increased frequency of urination, and exhaustion are all signs that I missed.
  7. I immediately cut sugar from my diet. Since then, I have reversed every single symptom. My vision is back. I’ve stopped heading to the bathroom every hour, even though I still drink a gallon of water every day. I’ve stopped wanting to take naps. I’ve also lost 20 pounds in the last three weeks, but now I feel the pounds are coming off for the right reason.

Do you see the miracle, as I do? Or do you see a series of interesting, but otherwise unrelated events?

I never would have applied for life insurance if not for the car accident. I wouldn’t have had to reapply for life insurance if I didn’t accidentally miss that payment. Having no health insurance, I never would have had blood work done. Because it was for a life insurance policy, the blood work was free. If I did not have the blood work done, I never would have realized that I needed to fix my blood sugar. I may have let diabetes continue to develop into a much more serious issue than what I suffered.

I’d still be unable to see. I’d still be on a dangerous road to complications that I would not be able to afford to treat without health insurance. I believe that God intervened in this instance to provide answers and wake me up before things got worse. If not for the series of “coincidences”, I would be on a path to self-destruction through my diet.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Yes, I may be Monday morning quarterbacking. Yes, this may be a series of random and unrelated events and I am just reading too much into it.

However, what are the chances? If one link in this chain did not happen, I would not be healthier right now. If the bad things, like the car accident and losing life insurance had not happened, I would be shoving Easter candy in my face and killing myself.

We often take bad things for granted. As Christians, we often think that everything is supposed to go well for us. However, when God tells us “all things work together for good”, He means ALL things; good and bad. The outcome of ALL things is good. I suffered some pretty severe pain last year, but now I am motivated to live a healthy lifestyle for the first time. I took my health for granted, and I will never do so again. It took pain, suffering, and some pretty devastating news for it to happen, but the outcome will be a positive one.

Christians, please do not take God for granted. Do not mistake comfort for His condoning of our lifestyles.

Non-Christians, please consider that some coincidental events can actually be miracles. Do not dismiss miracles in your own lives. It is possible that God may be putting you in a place that may be useful for His purposes, even though you do not believe in Him.

This story is just one of many such miracles that I have experienced in my lifetime. I would be happy to write about some of the more incredible series of events that most people would take for granted, but I’ve realized are miraculous.

It’s all part of my testimony. I think more Christians need to be cognizant of their own miracles and properly attribute them to God. Miracles happen all the time. They happen to all of us as the Holy Spirit works through us to affect change in our lives and use us all for the glory of God.