Monday, August 26, 2013

Masturbation: A Christian Perspective in Sexual Ethics.


Singleness, uncertain sexual identity, birth control, homosexuality and same sex marriages, masturbation, pornography, adultery, premarital sex…the list will extend when one considers ‘sexual ethics.’ I pray these words will offer an insight into these topics, so to positively impact our thoughts and practices.

Before venturing into more complicated topics, let me attempt to provide insight into certain fringe topics such as masturbation. The greatest question regarding masturbation in a Christian mind is: Is masturbation a sin?

Some approach masturbation with hostility and teach it to be a sin. This is legitimate from within a perspective but with certain presuppositions. It is important to learn that the Bible does not explicitly teach masturbation as a sin. Thus, one cannot explicitly teach that masturbation is a sin that does not glorify God in all circumstances.

If the Bible does not talk about masturbation directly, does it talk indirectly? The ‘sin of Onan’ (Genesis 38: 8-10), an indirect teaching, is generally used to reckon masturbation as a sin. But the narrative in Genesis is not about masturbation; instead it is about the refusal of Onan to fulfill his obligation as a kinsman redeemer. Scott Rae states that this passage refers to “…coitus interruptus, not masturbation.” 1 Hence, one cannot use the narrative of Onan to resolve the credibility of masturbation.

Now then, can we emphatically assert masturbation to be a sinless deed in all contexts? No! Straight forward conclusion is inadvisable, as one need to think whether the act of masturbation is performed in stark isolation or with a leading and/or accompaniment. Sexual stimulants lead and aid the act. An urge (natural or situational), of the mind or body, or sexually explicit content (e.g. porn), could lead to masturbation. A sexual fantasy could accompany masturbation. The spiritual legitimacy of the stimulant(s) leading to, and the entity (immoral sexual fantasy) accompanying, needs to be thought about (cf. Ephesians 5:3; 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 et al.).

 ‘Little’ leads to ‘excess.’ The Bible teaches that Satan is the father of lies (John 8: 44). The devil is well capable of leading a naïve soul into the practice of masturbation from an occasional into an excessive event, which will affect his regular routine - work, study or personal relationships. Masturbation is potentially addictive, and any addiction is a sin against God. Thus, one should be cognizant of the fact that that which is seemingly valid (e.g. masturbation) could be a potential spiritual detriment. If one is addicted to masturbation, he/she should seek God’s help through fervent prayer and fasting.

Since the Bible does not state masturbation to be inherently wrong, Scott Rae advocates the acceptability of masturbation under certain conditions. He says, “…thus for example, if it is done with one’s spouse and done apart from lust or sinful fantasy, it can be acceptable.” 2 Thus, there is a definite acceptable context for masturbation.

Those who emphatically assert masturbation to be a sinful deed will be in a dilemma under certain medical situations. What if the medical laboratory requires a Christian to offer his sperm samples for ‘in vitro fertilization’ or ‘gamete intrafallopian transfer?’ In such instances, wouldn’t it be ridiculous to advise a Christian against masturbation?

Outside of medical requirements, situations within the covenant of marriage could necessitate masturbation (e.g. impossibility of sexual intercourse between couples during pregnancy or post-menopause etc.) with the spouse as a partner in the act. In such instances, masturbation cannot be ruled as sin. Of course, masturbation is a sin, even in the context of marriage, if performed while fantasizing about a person other than the spouse. Thus, there are contexts under which masturbation becomes a sinful deed and those where it doesn’t. But once again, we need to realize that masturbation without associated lust or fantasies is not a sin.

If the Christian teaching directly or indirectly deems masturbation as a sin, thereby advising Christians against masturbation, then there is a possibility that a Christian who strives not to masturbate fall prey to another sexual sin. Let me elaborate. Imagine a church elder advising a young Christian against masturbation. This young person now strives hard not to masturbate. But if his / her sexual urge continues to grow, there could be a situation of desperation. It would then be shameful if this person solicits illegal sex, a definite sin, while striving hard to avoid masturbation, which if performed without lust, is not a sin.

Thus, it is worthwhile to think through the teachings of Christians who do not take a hostile approach to masturbation. Richard Higginson quotes Jack Dominian (a Catholic psychiatrist specialized in the area of sex and marriage), “Masturbation is an event to be neither encouraged nor associated with dire warnings. It is a transient activity in the life of the adolescent on the way to reaching and achieving sexual intercourse in marriage…Whatever its form, it should be associated with affirmative feelings about sex and seen as nature’s and God’s way to reveal by stages the full plan of sexual activity. Insofar as it introduces young people to the mystery of sex, masturbation should not be surrounded by negativity, inhibition, and/or guilt. Rather, it should be treated as a means to an end, the end being adult sexuality situated in love.” 3

Therefore, I summarize as follows:

(1) Masturbation is a sin against God if performed with any immoral thoughts or deeds.

(2) The act of masturbation, in stark isolation without any immoral association, is not a sin.

(3) Therefore, masturbation, though not to be encouraged, is acceptable in certain contexts: medical situations, marriage etc.

(4) Christian teaching should not be universally hostile to masturbation. (If a person seeks deliverance from masturbation, then he/she should not be condemned at any cost, but prayerfully, gently and lovingly guided away from that addiction.)

(5) Addiction to masturbation can potentially injure one’s regular routines. The primary solution for de-addiction from masturbation is prayer and fasting.
         
       The good Lord will always lead and guide those who earnestly seek HIM. May we always seek HIM alone. Amen.

References:
1 Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p289, 2009.

2  Ibid., p290.

3 Richard Higginson, Dilemmas: A Christian Approach to Moral Decision-Making, p114-115, 1988.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Death, Suicide and Euthanasia.


Until I experienced God through HIS Word and deed, I was fearful, apprehensive and didn’t desire death. But when I believed in Christ and became aware of the glorious life that awaited me, the fear of death vanished. Today, I welcome death anytime, for when I die I will be with my God forever. The fear of death is dead in my life (cf. Psalm 23: 4; Romans 8: 38-39; 2 Corinthians 5: 8; Philippians 1: 21-23), for death is the gateway to a glorious eternity with God.

While I was discussing with a very dear brother about the torment of evil and expectation of a joyous life, we hoped that the Lord’s second coming is imminent, for evil will be annihilated when HE returns in all HIS glory and splendor. So, death can be viewed as a transition from the evil world to a joyous eternity in heaven. If death doesn’t facilitate this glorious transition, then one hopes that the Lord would arrive soon to deliver us from evil and pain. If one fails to desire death from the perspective of a glorious eternal coexistence with God, the existential reality of evil could motivate the frail to die, as an escape mechanism from the pain of suffering.1

This is the predicament of a suffering man who loses all his means and hope to live on earth. He desires death through suicide as a means of exiting the world of evil and torment. But, is suicide acceptable?

Imagine a world renowned artist painting before a large audience. He finishes the spectacular work of art, and the audience is fascinated. Following are two scenarios: in the first, the artist unexpectedly shreds the painting to pieces! The audience is greatly saddened. In the second scenario, after the art is painted, a man from the audience unexpectedly grabs the art and shreds it. This man is detained by the police.

In both scenarios, the fascinating piece of art is lost. In the first scenario, the art is shredded by the owner. None can complain, but for the fact that the world lost a precious work. In the second scenario, a man shreds the art without the owner’s consent. This being theft and destruction, the culprit is nabbed by the police.

The above illustration serves as an analogy of our life. God is the artist and our life is HIS art. God, being the creator and sustainer, is the owner of every life. As in the scenario of the artist shredding his art, there could be, at most, a feeble concern, when the creator God, the owner of every life, chooses to eliminate that very life HE created. However, if anyone else eliminates that life (through suicide or murder), he is an unauthorized eliminator, for he rebels against God (the owner of life), who alone possesses all authority to eliminate the very life that HE created.

I say this at length to affirm that suicide is a sin against God. God makes and takes life. HE has the sole authority over every life. When man commits suicide, he dethrones God, and sins against HIM. Aquinas teaches that suicide is a sin on account of three violations – nature and self love, community, and God. He states that our freewill (inclination to commit suicide) should submit to God’s authority, who alone can decide our exit from this world.2

Having said this, I believe that a Christian who commits suicide is not hell bound, since we are saved by grace through faith. My rationale for this fact has been presented in my blog, “Way to Heaven? Not By Works!” A man who commits suicide violates God’s will and expedites his journey to the other side of eternity. Therefore, a believer in Christ should not commit suicide, instead he should trust in God for deliverance during moments of excruciating pain.

“The timing and manner of a person’s death belongs ultimately to God (Eccl. 3: 1-2; Heb 9: 27),” writes Scott Rae. 3Although death is considered an enemy (1 Corinthians 15: 55-56), for Christians, death is a vanquished enemy. God gives everyone who believes in Christ, the victory through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. Thus, it is mandatory that death not be resisted or expedited.

Let us look at physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia.4 If a man is dying and his prognosis hopeless with any further treatment determined as medically futile, in general, he could be allowed to die. However, considering that man’s death is in God’s hands, removal of life support that leads to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia could be problematic. Not every decision to terminate life need be morally acceptable. For example, removing the ventilator that provides breathing support to a recovering patient would be unethical. Thus, we need to think through physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, because our moral choices would either abide by or abate the moral values that protect the sanctity and dignity of life - the dying included.

One can posit the validity of euthanasia from the realm of mercy - as a justified end to needless suffering. But medical alternates are: to sedate the patient to sleep (unconscious state) or to relieve pain (which could even hasten the death of a patient, but as an unintended act).

Scott Rae states that euthanasia could be advocated from, among others, the perspectives of ‘utility’ – avoidance of a high cost medical care, and ‘Personal Autonomy’ – one can decide when to die as one can decide when to marry. ‘Utility’ can be questioned from the ill-advised future possibility of coercing a terminally ill patient to consent to euthanasia, and ‘Personal Autonomy’ can be disputed citing the fact that an individual has no absolute right over his life. (This theme has been discussed in my previous blog on abortion).

Scott emphasizes that the opponents of euthanasia conclude that euthanasia and assisted suicide amounts to killing an innocent person. Since elimination of life is God’s prerogative, they reinforce that human beings cannot play God by eliminating human life. But this argument will not be accepted by atheists, who do not believe in God. The opponents of euthanasia also emphasize the redemptive value of suffering (suffering equips a believer to comfort others who suffer). If suffering is good for one’s life, then one can argue against every medical care that eases suffering. But why shouldn’t medicine alleviate unnecessary suffering? A better reasoning against the redemptive value of suffering is the proximity of suffering to death. If suffering leads to death, then the suffering one cannot positively impact the one suffering. So the redemptive value of suffering diminishes.5

To conclude, all possible medical treatment should be offered to the dying if the treatment can potentially save him. But, postponing death is not the only solution because every life is valuable irrespective of its quality. The development of medical technology could extend one’s life span, but one should be cautious to not use expensive medical resources on treatment that is futile. Medical treatment should be withdrawn when it is no longer helpful to a dying patient or when the treatment is more burdensome than being helpful to him. “Even though death is rightly to be resisted through reasonable medical means, the Christian’s eternal destiny is beyond death. In that sense, death for a Christian is by definition a “good death” because it ushers him or her into God’s presence in eternal life,” says Scott Rae. 

May the strength and wisdom of God prevail upon those contemplating suicide and those applying medical treatment in seriously ill patients. May HIS pleasing and perfect will be done in each life. Amen.

Notes and References:

1 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Human Life as a Journey to God - 29.4, p208.

2 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Living in the World – Moral Virtue - 64.6, p391.

3 Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p218, 2009.

4 Euthanasia is often termed, ‘mercy killing.’ It is a direct and intentional effort of a medical professional (e.g. through lethal injection of drugs) to help a dying patient die. (Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p214.)

5 Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p224-234, 2009.

(6) Thoughts pertaining to Physician Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia have been extracted from Scott Rae’s work, ‘Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics,’ barring sporadic interposals of my thoughts.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Dilemma of Abortion.


Some situations we may face regarding abortion are: a decision to abort or to teach / advise or express an opinion. Whatever the case may be, our fundamentals on abortion should be architected on solid foundation.

Two positions exist in the abortion debate: pro-life (anti-abortion) and pro-choice (accepting abortion). The pro-life position argues that the unborn is a person (human being with life), hence should not be killed. The pro-choice groups have posited many arguments favoring abortion with one central assumption - that the unborn is not a full person. A few important pro-choice arguments are presented here:

1. The woman has the right to choose:

If the woman can choose what she wants to do, then by the same logic one should not condemn drugs, prostitution, suicide or the likes. Simply speaking, if a person can do what he wants, then all actions against one’s own body should be permissible. But we do not have an absolute claim over our own body! For example, a prostitute cannot justify her profession under the guise of poverty, a married man cannot solicit a prostitute for the sake of his pleasure, and a person cannot abuse his body through illegal drugs. Similarly, the woman has no absolute right over her body to make any choice.

Moreover, the fetus is not a part of the woman’s body, as a hand or an eye is a part. The fetus is attached to the mother through an umbilical cord, but is not a native part of her body. The fetus, in many cases, has a separate gender identity (male). Thus, it is unnormative to include a differently gendered part (fetus) as a native part of the woman. Only through a denial of its own identity can the fetus be considered a part of a woman’s body. This is a confusingly ridiculous proposition. Since the fetus is not an innate part of woman’s body, she loses her right to do what she wants.

2. The woman should not be forced to continue her pregnancy from rape or incest:

This is an emotionally compelling argument for a woman’s right to choose abortion. This argument posits justice to the woman for she cannot be punished with a child due to imposed pregnancy (lack of consensual sex). But justice is applicable to the fetus too! If the woman should not be penalized on account of imposed pregnancy, how can the fetus be penalized with death over the sin of his/her father? Furthermore, it would be more difficult to verify the rape claim of a woman seeking abortion. Thus, this argument tilts in favor of pro-life or shall we say that the pro-choice lacks strength in this argument.

3. The woman should not be forced to deliver severely handicapped children:

As in the previous situation, the woman lacks the fundamental right to choose abortion. If killing a severely deformed fetus is valid, then killing a severely deformed or a handicapped child is also valid. Just as no one would accept to killing a severely handicapped child (because of his personhood), the unborn fetus cannot be killed because of its personhood.

Personhood of the Fetus:

If the fetus is inanimate and not a person (with life), then discarding it is not a concern. After all, discarding something without life is tantamount to shredding a paper to bits or dumping garbage. But, if the fetus has life, then discarding it is tantamount to killing a child that cannot defend itself - a serious sin.1

If the fetus has life, then it is a person with full human rights. But the contention is to determine the time during gestation when the fetus becomes a person. Pro-choice groups often delineate an arbitrary distinction between the fetus being a human being and the fetus being a person. But, the fetus does not undergo a change in its essence during its gestation, and even into adulthood. Moreover, science is yet to discover the time when actual personhood begins in the fetus. If that be the case, one should err on the side of life, for one should not risk the life of a fetus for it could well be a person. As Scott Rae writes, “uncertainty about the status of the fetus justifies caution, not abortion.”2 

Pro-choice groups have posited several breaks during the gestation of the fetus for the time of the beginning of its personhood to justify the killing of the unborn. ‘Viability,’ ‘Onset of brain activity,’ Sentience,’ ‘Quickening,’ ‘Implantation,’ and ‘Birth’ are these stages. But none of these breaks are empirically sufficient to justify the killing of the fetus.3 Scott Rae presents a compelling case for the personhood of the fetus from the time of conception:

 (A) An adult human being is the end result of the continuous growth of the organism from conception (this premise has hardly any debate).

(B) From conception to adulthood, this development has no break that is relevant to the essential nature of the fetus (this is the debatable premise, but…all proposed breaks do not have a bearing on the nature of the fetus).

(C) Therefore, one is a human person from the point of conception onward (this conclusion follows from the above two premises).4

The fetus has a unique and a separate genetic identity from conception. It possesses all capacities to mature into a full adult, thus the fetus is a full human being. The full personhood of the fetus compels the mother to bear all responsibility for the wellness of the fetus. Any failure on the part of the mother incriminates her.

Is abortion a sin? What does the Bible teach?

(1) God is actively involved in the creation and sustenance of the fetus from conception (Jeremiah 1: 5; Isaiah 49: 1; Psalm 139: 13-16).

(2) Bible uses the terms ‘conception’ and ‘birth’ interchangeably (Job 3:3; Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 49: 1; Psalm 51: 5), implying the fetus as a person from birth. In fact, Psalm 51: 5 states a continuity of personal identity (as a sinner) from conception to birth. The Greek term for baby, ‘brephos’ is applied to a child in the womb (Luke 1: 41-44) and a new born baby (Luke 2: 16), for Christ’s incarnation was recognized from the time of conception. 

Thus, it is evident that the Bible affirms the personhood of the fetus from conception, and that God is actively involved in fashioning the fetus from conception. HE knows us even before our conception. If man kills the fetus, then it’s not only equivalent to killing a full human being, but it’s also equivalent to rebelling against God’s design of a human from conception (cf. Exodus 20: 13). Man sins when he rebels against God. Since abortion is a sin against God, man should not abort his unborn baby.

But what about a medical situation that forces us to choose either the life of the mother or baby? If the doctor can save only one life, which is either that of the mother or the baby, what should be our choice? The dilemma here is not pro-life or pro-choice, but a combination of both – either the life of the mother or the baby. This is not a simple predicament. However, if all factors being normal (e.g. mother can resume healthy life); I would choose the mother over baby. My reasoning is that the baby requires the mother for a normal life. If the mother dies, the baby cannot live a normal life (the baby would be raised without mother’s presence and love). However, the mother can resume a normal life at a certain point in time. Hence, my choice is for the mother to live, on the basis of normalcy. But this isn’t an easy decision.5

What about embryonic stem cell research? Any research that kills or damages the embryo, even for a greater good - a potential research to save life in future - remains unacceptable. Just as a terrorist is condemned for believing that killing another will promote his or his people’s wellness, any scientific research should be unacceptable if it involves killing. 

Therefore, since the fetus is a person, it is the duty of the parents and the society to protect and save the unborn. Amen.  


Notes and References:

(1) This essay is largely an extract from Scott Rae’s work, ‘Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics,’ barring sporadic interposals of my thoughts. 

1 We will not try to comprehend in detail the apparent contradiction in the Bible that portrays God as a cruel being desiring to kill the infants and children (Numbers 31: 17; 1 Samuel 15: 3; Psalm 135: 8, 136: 10, 137: 9 et al.). The Pro-choice groups use these verses to validate their claim. But, these verses ought to be seen in their context of judgment. Moreover, it is only the giver of life who has the sole authority to take away that life. If you are employed in an organization, your managing authority has the sole power to fire you, not anyone else in the organization. The rebelling man who does not subjugate himself to God’s authority will always doubt and question God.

2 Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p139, 2009.

3 “Viability” is a point in time when the fetus can live on its own outside the womb. Medical technology constantly pushes viability back to the earlier stages of pregnancy, hence viability keeps changing. Viability also changes from fetus to fetus, and place to place (high technology America to rural India). But the fact remains that there is no link between the fetus’ ability to survive independently outside the womb and its personhood (essence). Thus, viability is more a referral to fetus’ location and dependency than its essence (personhood).
If death is a cessation of all of brain’s activity, then one could rationally state that life begins when the brain begins to function, which approximately is at about 45 days into the pregnancy. But the crucial distinction is that the brain of a dead man is irreversibly dead – it cannot be revived. On the other hand, the fetus prior to 45 days possesses the latent (dormant) capability to develop into a full-fledged brain. In other words, the fetus with a latent brain activity is essentially different from a dead man whose brain can never regain activity. Thus, any pro-choice argument pertaining to the brain’s activity would be unconvincing.
Likewise one can argue that the fetus gains personhood during ‘sentience’ (point when fetus experiences sensations) or ‘quickening’ (when the mother feels fetus’ movement) or ‘implantation’ (embryo establishes its presence in the womb by producing signals or hormones) or ‘birth’ (birth of baby). But we can reasonably and rationally argue that the personhood of the fetus remains independent of these stages. For example, ‘birth’ signifies a change in location of the fetus from within the womb to the outside. But, change in location (from within the womb to its outside) does not change the personhood of the fetus. Since the beginning of personhood remains inconclusive during these stages, we can reasonably and rationally argue that the fetus has full personhood from the moment of conception.

4 Scott B. Rae, Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics, 3rd Ed, p142, 2009.

5 For more information on choosing mother’s life over the fetus, you could read Richard Higginson’s work, Dilemmas: A Christian Approach to Moral Decision Making, p190, 1988. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Trashed for not Walking the Talk!


Love, in my opinion, is an overrated emotion with an underrated performance, at least in Christendom. If it weren’t, surely there wouldn’t be as many divisions in the church of Jesus Christ.

In his work ‘Four Loves,’ C.S Lewis mentions two forms of love: Gift-Love and Need-Love. He describes them as, “The typical example of Gift-love would be that love which moves a man to work and plan and save for the future well-being of his family which he will die without sharing or seeing; of the second, that which sends a lonely or frightened child to its mother's arms.” God’s love is Gift-Love. HE lacks nothing, so HE expects nothing from anyone for HIS satisfaction. Man’s love can be either of these, depending on a given situation. However, we fail at times and it is that failure I want to highlight, but with a prayer for an enriched Christ-like life in yours and mine.

When those unaware of biblical truths know and teach love, shouldn’t Christians, by virtue of our supernatural transformation (cf. John 3:5-8) and knowledge of Bible’s lofty standards, pave way for the world to love? How genuine or Christ-like is christian love? Pardon me if this hurts; I have often seen the Lord Jesus Christ in the love of a non-christian than a christian.

The heart of love of some christians is, ‘if you love me, I will love you; if you hate me, I will hate you.’ Or, ‘if you do what I say, I will love you; if you rebel, I will hate you.’ Aren’t these thoughts similar to, ‘if you gratify me, I will gratify you’ or ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?’ Yes, love is involved in these acts, but hate is equally involved due to selfishness.

A powerfully creative human mind can manufacture fascinating rationale to un-love or trash another (I use the term ‘un-love,’ for ‘hate’ may be too hard an antonym to ‘love’ in this context). Let me elaborate. We live in the digital realm - email, twitter, facebook et al - where one can quite easily trash a friend. One instance of trashing, an expression of scorn, is un-friending on facebook. Of course there are other novel ways to express our scorn.

A holy rationale for trashing a friend could be that he isn’t walking his talk (practicing what he preaches). Let me dwell in this subject for a few moments of your time.

When we accuse a friend for not walking his talk, we make certain presuppositions. Common knowledge states that misunderstanding frequently arises through controversial situations. One presupposition in accusation is superior knowledge of all aspects of the controversial situation. Another presupposition is superior knowledge of the theme of accusation (anger, misappropriation of finances, adultery etc.), especially the biblical interpretation. If the unceremonial trashing has occurred while the controversial situation was under way and none implicated conclusively in the controversy, the trasher presupposes a superior predictive knowledge of the character of the trashed. In a nutshell, the trasher claims superior knowledge of his friend’s walk, talk, and the theology of it all. But that’s not it, when one trashes another for hypocrisy; the one who trashes claims a holier life devoid of hypocrisy.

While worldly and spiritual maturity, discernment and wisdom lead to superior knowledge, one should be wise and diligent to exercise judgment over another, especially in the event of destroying or interrupting a relationship. Any incorrect move on the part of a trasher will position him in the realm of having sinned against the second greatest commandment of God, which is to love the other as oneself. A spiritual man can judge another (cf. 1 Corinthians 2: 15, NIV), but as we know the spiritual man is entirely reliant upon the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2: 9-10, NIV). When a christian decides to trash a friend for the sake of apparent or actual hypocrisy, he claims revelation from God about hypocrisy. Thus, in trashing he invokes God’s presence and judgment upon himself. A mighty ramification to an unnecessary action!

Look at this from another perspective. Why should Christians choose un-loving /trashing as the only way to confront relationships? Is it not possible to dialogue? If the dialogue gets rough and shoddy, is it impossible to continue to love, rather than un-love or trash the person? Eventually, ‘un-loving’ morphs into ‘hatred.’ This is a dangerous situation for man, let alone Christianity.

This verse always renders me speechless, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB; emphasis mine). The holy God loved me when I was constantly and consciously abusing HIM. Can u digest this? When we are overwhelmed by God’s love, why can’t we love one another with HIS love, especially when we claim that God lives in us? God allows man to depart from HIS presence only when man chooses to reject HIM through unbelief. However, if a man seeks and believes in God, then God, by no means, will reject or trash man from HIS presence.

My response to rejection is not to disturb those who reject me. If a friend disbelieves me, then I would rather stay away from him, instead of trying my best to prove my credibility. This by no means implies that my door is closed. My door is always open to the one who rejects me, but I neither have the patience nor strength to run after him to prove my credibility. Of course we can dialogue, I am there to talk, or if you prove my guilt, I will willingly apologize. But I am much rigid if I am faultless in that particular context.

Ravi Zacharias narrates how Sammy Dagger, a Lebanese evangelist, was instrumental in leading Franklin Graham (Rev. Billy Graham’s son) to Christ.1 Rev. Billy Graham led multitudes to the Lord, but his own son was led to the Lord by another evangelist. Does this imply a failure of the acclaimed evangelist? Do we interpret that Rev. Billy Graham’s walk of his talk was inconsistent that he was unable to lead his own son (who was witness to Rev. Billy’s private life) to the Lord? I definitely do not think so! No situation is adequate or justifiable to trash another.

Walking the talk is pivotal to a christian life, for belief determines behavior, and behavior is the manifestation of belief. However, one can always find sin in another’s life, which would render his walk imperfect. This is precisely why we are called to mind our own business before we mind another’s business. Alternatively, we are called to remove the log from our eye before we help remove the speck from our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3, NASB). Let us remember that Christ states that we have a LOG in our eye whereas our brother has only a SPECK in his eye. Our sins are much worse in comparison to our brother’s.

Let us be mindful of walking our talk, and be right in God’s eyes, before we trash others for their apparent or actual inconsistencies. Trashing should be removed from the vocabulary of a Christian. Love should replace trash and its synonyms.

If you have been trashed or forsaken by your friend, then let the wonderful words of the hymn, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus,’ comfort, encourage and direct you:

“Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there.”

Our friends may trash us, but Christ will always heal and will never ever trash or reject the one who seeks and believes in HIM. Amen.

Over the next few weeks, I will endeavor to dwell on topics such as abortion, embryonic stem cell research, reproductive technologies, biotechnology and human cloning, euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, sexual ethics, war et al. Christian response to these subjects would be the theme of these blogs.

References:

1“Sammy Dagger was instrumental in bringing Franklin Graham back to the Lord, the son of Billy. Franklin was in Beruit, a loser and a lost, hanging around with a life completely confused, and Sammy was instrumental in bringing Franklin to Christ, and Sammy didn't even know who Billy Graham was.”
(http://www.hlrse.net/Qwerty/transcriptions/RZIM_IsThereNotACause/RZIM_IsThereNotACause_Transcript_20111213-2105.txt )