Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Here, in Norman, OK where I live, our city government spent over a million dollars to install massive speed bumps throughout neighborhoods to provide a perceivable safe place for kids to play. I say ‘perceivable’ because no kids are outside playing because speeding cars are not what threaten our children. Our neighborhoods have been robbed of kids playing outside, riding their bicycles, playing catch in the park, building forts in the wooded areas, walking to the convenient store, and learning how to live together in a free society. We’ve allowed the bad guys/gals to win by allowing pedophiles to live in our neighborhoods and terrorize our streets in perpetrating their perversions on our children again and again. Bullies have been allowed to turn into gangs that become terrorist against the freedoms of our children. Bullying has become a major problem and I don’t just mean verbal and emotional sufferings but like pedophiles, a very real physical threat of harm.
The reality is that we’ve allowed some very real terrorism to rob our children of the freedom that most adults over 40 grew up with. Fear of what might happen to our children if we let them outside without parental supervision is real. Older adults complain that kids these days set inside and play video games and watch television too much. Yet we adults are the ones who have allowed the bad guy/gal to win because we’ve become soft on punishment of those who would target the most vulnerable in society. We’ve allowed these terrorists to drive our children indoors and rob them of their freedom.
As for the pedophiles, whether you agree or not, the truth is that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. We may not want to go back to the “Old West” days but there were some things that our forefathers knew and did that provided a free society for families to raise their children in a safe environment. In the “Old West” crimes against the most vulnerable, children and women particularly, was met with swift and harsh punishment. Horse thieves, cattle rustlers, bank robbers, and murderers (those who would terrorize society) when caught met a swift and final punishment. Prisons were not overrun with offenders. Graveyards were reminders of what happens to those who preyed on the vulnerable.
Yes, I am proposing the death penalty for those who are pedophiles. If, those who would kidnap innocent children and rob them of their freedom were to meet a swift and a severe punishment of death it would deter others from doing the same. If the death penalty were carried out, pedophiles would not be registered sex offenders still terrorizing our neighborhoods looking for another opportunity to victimize a child. (In Norman, OK there are no fewer than 46 pedophiles registered with our law enforcement authority.) They would not be free to perpetrate their perversion on another child. A side benefit would be that tax dollars wouldn’t go to pay for lengthy trials and prison time with three prepared meals a day, climate controlled housing, cable television, workout rooms, education opportunities, etc.
If the bullies were dealt with swiftly and severely they would not be allowed to congregate into gangs. They would learn and be an example to others that bullying is not acceptable behavior in the society of the free. Take the bully at a young age, when their tendency to bully is manifested in the natural course of children playing, and correct him/her with swift gentle discipline. If they do not respond favorably with gentle discipline then swiftly use severe discipline. Maybe if a 10-year-old bully, who doesn’t respond to gentle discipline, spent a week or month in a juvenile detention center they would not grow up to be an adult bully who abuses his/her spouse and children. If bullies cannot control their aggressive behavior then they must be isolated away from society in prison. When a bully (for whatever reason) takes up a weapon in order to force his cruelty (such as mass murderers) on others then a swift and final penalty is appropriate.
If, we as a society began to take these legally acceptable forms of terrorism on our children seriously, our children would psychologically regain their value to society. They would not live in terror that the “boogey man” is still out there waiting to get them again. Their freedom would be restored and our neighborhoods would be alive with the laughter of children as they play outside. Society would benefit as children, who have learned to play together, grow up into adults and know how to get along with others, work together, and be good neighbors. Our society would be relieved of these legally acceptable terroristic attacks on our children.
Someone may say “that is not a very gracious response to those with psychological problems that cause him or her to be pedophiles or bullies.” My response is “I disagree, it is the most gracious response to our children that we can have.” I would not rejoice in their demise but I would support it for the betterment of society. If pedophiles and bullies had a zero tolerance in our society our children would regain a psyche of their value and the wonderment of freedom in a society that does not live in fear of these acceptable forms of terrorism.
Is it any wonder as to why children who have grown up with the tension of these forms of legal terrorism are now willing to give up more freedom in order for perceived safety? They have already had one aspect of their freedom taken from them for the perceived safety of a neighborhood with speed bumps. To give up their Second Amendment right in order to have a perceived safe environment is not that much of a stretch.
Asking people to give up some of their freedom in order to accommodate the perpetrators of crime is like putting speed bumps in neighborhoods where children no longer play outside. Perception can be the antithesis of reality.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
When reading the Pew Research Report “The Decline of Marriage And Rise of New Families” (November 18, 2010) the thought came to me concerning how we as human beings try to justify our beliefs and behavior. We either justify our beliefs based upon something outside ourselves seen as authoritative or we justify them based upon something within ourselves seen as authoritative. For instance, some people may base their beliefs on traditions, like Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof or the Pharisees and scribes Jesus scolded in Matthew 15. Other people may find authority in the law of the land. As long as it’s legal it’s okay. Still, there are others who find their source in the authority of society, like politicians who change their positions based on public polls. For the Christians, the most familiar authority found outside of us is the Bible. However, there are others who find their confidence within their own reasoning. Humanism is a discipline that sets reason, ethics, and justice found within humanity while rejecting supernatural and religious ideas as a basis of morality and decision-making. Human knowledge, wisdom, understanding, intellect, etc. gives, in and of itself, authority for behavior. In other words, we as humans can justify our behavior by simply finding its justification within ourselves. This is our (humans) default way of justifying our actions.
Although there are some encouraging trends identified in the article, reading the changes in the views of marriage and family affirms the fact that human beings are social beings and, habitually, justifies their lifestyle by adjusting their belief system. For example, is it surprising that with the increase in divorce there is an increase in its acceptance? Or, that with the increase of cohabitation there is an increase it its acceptance? How about that with the value of traditional family declining the belief in traditional family values has declined as well. This is how we justify our actions by adapting our beliefs.
It reminds me of a principal that Paul talked about. “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.” (2 Co 10:12) We as human beings have the distinct capacity to deceive ourselves and lose our understanding. To lose understanding is to lose the ability to see something as it really is. It is to be devoid of the ability of abstract thought. It is to lose the ability to see something outside of our own justification of it. To lose our understanding is to lose our true north. We lose all absolutes. If enough people start saying there are no absolutes then how will we know which way is north, what color is red, or that 2+2=4? All that is right and wrong become so blurred that it appears there is no right and wrong. As more measuring and comparing take place the more understanding is lost.
We, as a society, have lost our understanding of the importance of marriage and family to our own society. Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Popular opinion has become our authority to justify our lifestyle. When we were kids and we wanted to do something that our parents didn’t want us to do we would say something like, “but everyone is doing it.” And our parents would say something like, “if everyone were jumping off a bridge would you do it too?” Well, the truth is we probably would. Unless we have some type of authority outside ourselves that gives us a belief that is strong enough to defy the measuring and comparing of ourselves to our society we will lose our understanding. Let’s put it like this, if enough people are getting a divorce or cohabitating together would you do it to? If enough people believe that a homosexual life style is morally equal to a heterosexual lifestyle would you agree? If society says that premarital sex is okay would you see no problem with premarital sex? If fidelity in marriage were seen as old fashion and unreasonable would you agree? The proof is in the article. The societal milieu of America over the past 50 years has steadily eroded away the external authority of the Bible, which empowered people to resist the seduction of humanistic justification. That which was once seen as wrong is now seen as okay.
Unfortunately, the church in America has done little to combat the decline of marriage and the importance of family in America. As true Christianity gave way to religiosity the church lost its empowerment to facilitate change in the culture. Religious institutions have become more identified with the world than impacting the world with Biblical authority. The primary way that the church in America has tried to deal with the eroding away of Biblical authority is condemning those who fail at keeping its (the church’s) rules and regulations. Condemnation has a tendency to push people away rather than pull people in. It has a tendency to over-emphasize truth and under-emphasize grace. This produces an isolated church. The secondary way the church in America has tried to deal with a society that is moving further away from a biblical oriented milieu is to embrace the changes within the church. Some may say the church has become soft on sin. This embracing has a tendency to over-emphasize grace and under-emphasize truth. It lowers the standards to allow humanity to be okay with its sinfulness. This produces an ineffective church. In many ways the church in America has become very much like the church in Corinth during the New Testament times.
The article proves another principle that is found in Paul’s writing. “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”” (1 Co 15:33) Another report from Pew Research, “Second-Generation Americans”, among other things, looks at the differences between the beliefs of first generation immigrants and the children they raised to adulthood in America. They discover that the majority of immigrants are from either an Asian background or Hispanic background. The first generation immigrant from Asian or Hispanic countries, the ones who left the country they were raised in and came to the USA, have a much higher view of moral values than their second generation adult children who have been raised in America. The parents come to America with moral values that are typically more conservative. They raise their children with the intent of passing those moral values on. However, raising their children in the culture of America undermines the parent’s conservative moral values. Unfortunately, it appears that American society may be the bad company that corrupts good morals.
After reading this someone may ask, “Is there any hope?” The answer is, “Absolutely!” Be encouraged. God has never not been in control. (I know that is a double negative and that is bad English grammar.) Though we may not see His purpose, we can be assured that His purpose is being fulfilled. There are signs that the religiosity of the church in America is diminishing and true Christianity is on the rise. We didn’t get to this place in America overnight and it will not be reversed overnight. But it won’t be reversed at all without Christians influencing culture in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Christians living in the fullness of truth and grace speaking to their family, friends, and politicians.