Responding to Gender-Based Violence [Cue 'N Ays]

I asked my students to read and react to this the other day. I’d like to make the same offer here on the blog.

The International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. It is a “faith-based organization” that requires its employees to submit a statement of faith with their application. It takes inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, and William Wilberforce, as well as Isaiah 1:17: “Seek justice, protect the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

In this Q&A, the Vice President of Government Relations answers questions about IJM’s work to combat gender-based violence. Give the Q&A a read and put your reaction to it in the comments. What do you think of IJM’s approach to this issue? I’ll give my thoughts in a follow-up post later this week.

UPDATE: Sorry about the link. It should be fixed now. Comment away.

“In This Corner…” [Cue 'N Ays]

Though I’m somewhat surprised that no one pushed back on my recent prognostication, I guess I’ll have to make do. That just means I’ll probably end up saying more provocative things in the future. I guess you could say that you asked for it. All three of you.

But before addressing possible Christian responses, I thought that the following categorization may help shed some light on why I’m reading the current decline of the West the way that I do.

Aside from biblical trinitarianism, there are two main approaches to ultimate reality: unitarianism and polytheism.

Unitarianism emphasizes the ultimate “oneness” of reality. Diversity, variety, and distinction are all frowned upon. They get in the way of obedience to the Numero Uno. Conformity and submission are the order of the day. The most obvious and prevalent unitarian religion is Islam.

Polytheism emphasizes the variety of approaches to reality. In this view, there are many roads up the mountain, many ways to heaven, etc. Imposition of any one idea is anathema to polytheists. Western multi-culturalism, which is the dominant worldview in Europe and America, is a great example of a polytheistic system.

Now obviously this distinction isn’t foolproof. For instance, most polytheistic societies do have an over-arching singularity, a unity that binds all of the disparate elements together. Hinduism has Brahman, the impersonal ultimate reality from which everything else flows. Ancient Rome was happy to have a huge pantheon, provided that worship of the Roman deities in no way interfered with the affairs of state. The current Western pantheon has Oprah.

Likewise, most unitarian religions have far more diversity than they care to admit. One only has to look at the great varieties of folk Islam found around the world to conclude that Islam is not as monolithic as Muslims would like to think.

Nevertheless, the categorization can be a helpful one. From this starting point, I then offer this premise: If Strong Unitarianism gets in a fight with Weak Polytheism, Strong Unitarianism wins. Every time. One big idea trumps a cacophony of lesser ideas, especially when the big idea also has the advantage of sheer numbers.

So, one way (and it is only a way) to read the current global scene is as a conflict between a Strong Unitarianism (Islam) and a Currently Strong but Increasingly Weakened Polytheism (the West). For the moment, the West (or at least the United States) has roused itself to combat the more barbaric of the Unitarians (radical jihadists) in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, while the US was toppling Saddam and fighting the Taliban, Europe has been slowly surrendering to the Unitarians. And the US went on and elected the Messiah of Multi-culturalism to be President.

So that’s the basic layout as I see it. Now for the $64,000 question: How do the trinitarians approach this conflict, given that a) we are in many ways responsible for the rise of the polytheists, and b) the Unitarians think that we’re on the side of the polytheists, and c) we don’t fight the way that they fight (2 Cor 10:4)?

Do Christians Always Have To Pay Their Taxes? [Cue 'N Ays]

Last week President Obama ended the Mexico City policy, a policy that had prevented U.S. taxpayer money from funding foreign organizations that perform abortions. The fallout is that now, U.S. tax dollars will pay for foreign abortions. My understanding is that Minnesota already has some form of taxpayer-funded abortions.

So here’s the question:

If the government uses taxpayer money to fund abortions, are Christians released from their obligation to pay some or all of their taxes?

Comments are most welcome.

Can Christians Ever Resist the Civil Authorities? [Cue 'N Ays]

Here‘s some background for this post. In a nutshell, Paul wrote the book of Romans (including Romans 13) around 57 A.D. The persecution under Nero did not begin until the mid-60′s A.D. Prior to this persecution, the bulk of the violence against Christians was perpetuated by Jews. In fact, Christians often sought refuge from the Jews by appealing to the Romans (see the book of Acts).

Here’s the question:

If the above information is true, how should it affect the way that we interpret and apply Romans 13? Specifically, does Romans 13 require the full obedience of Christians to civil authorities that are “a terror to good conduct” (13:3)? And if not, what circumstances would warrant resistance to the authorities?

Category Intros: Cue ‘N Ays

That’s Q&A’s for those of you who can’t read good.

One of my favorite pastimes is asking good questions and seeking good answers. And I’m a community thinker, meaning I like the give and take of a discussion. I do okay by myself, but in seeking to work through a problem in a group, I often find that things become clearer in my head and, subsequently, out of my mouth.

So in this category I’ll throw out a question. Then, for the 2 or 3 of you who actually read this blog, if you feel so inclined, you can respond with your own remanating in the comments. Then, after a sufficient amount of time, I’ll give some of my own thoughts on the question. Hopefully this will lead to more Cues, and then more Ays, and then more Cues…

So here is an opening question (and a very serious and significant one): At the moment the Israeli Defense Force is pummeling Hamas in Gaza for the continual rocket attacks that Hamas has been launching across Israel’s southern border. Estimates are that around 280 Palestinians have been killed (mostly Hamas militants, but including some civilians).

Some commentators on the left are calling the IDF’s retaliation a use of “disproportionate force.” Hamas is taking “potshots” and Israel’s responds with deadly airstrikes, resulting in the inadvertent deaths of civilians, sometimes including children and Palestinian Christians.

Supporters of Israel respond that such logic “amounts to a total rejection of the distinction between aggression and self-defense and indeed the entire concept of deterrence.” Hamas has been launching rockets into Israel from Gaza for months, seeking to kill and maim civilians. Moreover, Hamas stated goal is the obliteration of Israel, making diplomacy impossible.

So then, how should Christians think about the current situation? Is Israel justified in its airstrikes? If not, what other alternatives are available? (For a similar question from Doug Wilson, see here).