The "Charity, Freedom, and Diversity Party"---who are you trying to fool?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

New political party in the Netherlands
By now you've probably heard about the political group in the Netherlands that calls itself the "Charity, Freedom, and Diversity Party." What they stand for is pedophilia. What they are clamoring for is to lower the age of consensual sex from 16 to 12 immediately and eventually eliminate an age limit altogether. They are also asking the Dutch parliament to make it legal for television stations to broadcast hard core pornography during the day. Furthermore, they want to legalize public nudity and bestiality. In addition, they believe that everyone should get to ride the trains for free. Oh yes, and they oppose cruelty to animals.

According to a recent poll, 82% of the citizens of the Netherlands believe that their government should do something to stop the new party, while 67% agree that promoting pedophilia should be illegal. This suggests that most Hollanders are as shocked and outraged as the rest of us.

Grotesque misnomer
I see no need to become indignant and vitriolic about what is obviously a publicity stunt by an insignificant special-interest group. But when I heard about this incident, I was troubled by their choice of a name. Does pedophilia sound to you like charity and freedom? Is it really diversity?

Definitive examination
The original meaning of "charity" (from the Latin, caritas) was love or affection. The King James Version's rendering of 1 Corinthians 13:13 comes to mind: "Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, but the greatest of these is charity." More recently, the word has come to mean, according to Webster, "the provision of help or relief to the poor; something that is given to help the needy."

Freedom is defined as "the condition of being free of restraints; liberty of the person from slavery, oppression, or incarceration." Diversity's definition is "the fact or quality of being diverse; difference; a point or respect in which things differ."

Self-imposed victimization
By choosing these terms to denote their cause, the pedophiliacs seem to be focusing our attention on them as recipients of our charity, beneficiaries of freedom we allow them, and the objects of our tolerance of their divergence from our norms. Their name is a plea, as if they are crying, "Accept us for who we are and what we do, in the name of charity, freedom, diversity."

Most political parties seek to focus on what they propose to do to benefit humanity (whether they ever do is another issue). Even the Communist Party uses its name to point to a principle they see as positive, the enforced sharing of capital and labor. But this party does not offer anything positive beyond their "chicken in every pot" promise of free train tickets and happy, healthy animals.

Nothing on sex with minors?
The Bible has nothing specifically to say about pedophilia. It does address it indirectly when it limits the sexual relationship to marriage. Paul says, "Because of sexual immoralities (the Greek words here, tas porneias are plural), let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband." (1 Corinthians 7:2, see verses 1-5). Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24: "A man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Mark 4:7-8; Matthew 19:5). These passages do not say, "...and be joined to a child...."

The state's interest
In both the Netherlands, the United States, and other countries, governments have a clear interest in the welfare of children. Laws against pedophilia are designed to protect children from sexual deviants, and the prohibitions serve as a barrier (though not an insurmountable one) that urges pedophiliacs to restrain themselves from harming the children they prey upon. These laws at the very least communicate to the pedophiliac, we think you have a problem. If you will not restrain yourself, we will restrain you, both for your own sake, for this behavior is psychologically destructive, and for the present and future of our children.

Plausible lying
We live in a culture in which we are bombarded with hundreds of commercial messages every day. As Dorothy Sayers described the advertising industry in her 1933 mystery novel, Murder Must Advertise, advertising consists of constantly telling plausible lies. Should we be surprised that unpopular, even repugnant causes label themselves with titles that mislead us, quell our indignation, and justify what is wrong?

I can only ask, are the children involved receiving charity? Do they have freedom, freedom to be innocent, freedom from manipulation and abuse? Isn't there a point when diversity morphs into perversity? Or is perversity itself about to be redefined out of existence?

All too common technique
The same kind of plausible lying takes place in other movements attempting societal re-engineering, including those promoting homosexual lifestyles, seeking the abolition of monogamy, defending abortion on demand, doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia, etc. Plausible lying also frequently takes place in the halls of our governments. They go to war, impose tariffs, destroy ecosystems, defend torture and wrongful imprisonment, prop up shady businesses, and so on, trying to hide a multitude of sins beneath a blizzard of plausible lies. And yes, it occurs in churches as well, justifying bloated budgets, explaining away hasty pastoral departures, defending fizzled programs.

When we examine what a group stands for and stands against, we have to allow for the possibility that this kind of marketing is taking place. Rather that gulping down everything dished out to us, we should nibble tentatively, unsure how much we can believe. Knowing how often this happens, we should be quick to ask, "Who do you think you are fooling?"

True charity, freedom, diversity
Christians, at least, have a polestar by which they can assess everything: Jesus Christ and the inspired Word of God. But we also can be deceived by lies that sound plausible.

What God wants of us is deeper thinking and greater caring. Our hearts must ache for the children involved with pedophiliacs. It must also ache for the perpetrators themselves. But compassion cannot condone pedophilia in the name of tolerance. It can't condone something destructive to everyone involved; that would not be charity.

Christian compassion must run deep enough to envision freedom--a true freedom that escapes old habits and patterns of thinking, that seeks new approaches to control entrenched urges. Compassion, true compassion, must be deep enough and strong enough to say, diversity, as praiseworthy as it usually is when applied to ethnicity, race, and class, needs limits for it to retain its value. Otherwise, 'diversity,' like 'charity,' and 'freedom,' becomes just one more plausible lie.

Steve Singleton,
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Are you carrying around a land mine?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Midnight blow-up
An explosion rocked a quiet neighborhood in McKinney, Texas, around midnight on Monday in May. A team of experts from Dyess Air Force Base destroyed a land mine in the backyard of a home on Westmoreland Drive.

McKinney code enforcement inspectors had discovered the device, a World War II-era land mine. Police called in the Plano bomb squad, who in turn called in the Air Force. "It was a training device, but it still had some inherent danger in it," said McKinney police Sergeant Steve Riley.

Family artifact
The family had found the mine in an Arizona field and had been moving it from house to house for 10 years. They didn't know it was still capable of exploding. Jesse Guzman, son in the family, said, "[I was] scared, shaken. I didn't know nothing about it. I didn't know what it was."

Spiritual land mine
The Bible in James 1:13-15 describes the process that leads from temptation to death. We encounter a temptation, which our own evil desires respond to. Those desires, once conceived, grow until they give birth to sin. Sin then starts to grow, until, at maturity, it kills our spiritual connection with God.

The point is to short-circuit this process as early as possible. Allowing it to continue unresisted is like taking a live land mine with you wherever you move your household.

Discharge the charge
How do we interrupt the desire-sin-death process? The same biblical writer offers help.

  • Recognize God is good and as our Father, gives us good gifts (James 1:17-18).

  • Prepare your heart to receive His gifts (James 1:19-21). This means you have to resolve to get rid of whatever would crowd God out of your life. He specifically mentions "moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent." Then, develop an attitude of humility, realizing your need for the spiritual life God wants to plant in you through His Word. (This means you carefully and constantly read the Bible.) As this spiritual seed grows toward maturity in your heart, it is able to save you because it brings your into contact with Jesus Christ, the only possible Savior.

  • Be willing to see yourself as God sees you (James 1:22-25). God's Word is like a spiritual mirror, revealing the beauty or ugliness of your heart. The promise is that if you will look intently into the Word and continue to do so, God will bless what you do.

  • Take action, both negatively and positively (James 1:26-27). Allowing God's Word to grow in your heart will bring changes in your life, in particular with regard to how you talk, how you treat people who are needy, and how you respond to new temptations. If you are willing to take action in these areas, the Word is taking root.

Or else!
Get rid of the bomb you are carrying around inside before it blows up, destroying both you and those you love around you. After all of the devastation and loss, what good will it do to confess, "I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know what it was"?

Steve Singleton,
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