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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Dean

Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog

By now you’ve read the scandalous comments from Hayley Geftman-Gold, a vice president and senior counsel in strategic transactions at CBS, concerning the victims of the Las Vegas Massacre. She wrote, “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs [Republicans] will ever do the right thing, I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans are often republican gun toters.”

We don’t expect that kind of cold-blooded, callousness from anyone in the aftermath of a horrific, national tragedy. While most of us don’t know any of the victims or their families, we can identify to a certain degree, because it could have happened to any one of us. We all attend large events and are potential sitting ducks. As my twenty-four-year-old daughter said, “I’ll never go to a concert again.” Of course, our hearts are rent in two, not only because precious lives were snuffed out, but because moms and dads are grieving the loss of their children; husbands and wives are grieving the loss of their soul-mates; people of all stripes and relationships have lost people they cherish. Little hurts more than the void left by the sudden death of a dearly loved individual. We can imagine ourselves in their shoes – and weep.

So, we wonder how Americans could hate fellow-Americans this deeply. And just because they have a different political opinion? It’s not really surprising though. We hear enough hatred out of the mainstream media for this kind of comment to be fairly pedestrian. It might have been shocking before Trump, but not now. At the same time, it shouldn’t be surprising to those with a biblical view of human sin and its prolific nature apart from gospel influence. It actually makes sense that some would rather see a four-year-old boy die than a gorilla when gospel influence is removed. How much more would such uninfluenced individuals wish to see a “Repug” die? Or fifty or sixty? The more the better on a worldview ignited by Hell.

One more thought comes to mind and may require a little soul-searching on the part of even some Christians. America’s government and America’s citizens following suit spend their lives demonizing their enemies, whether real, imagined, or false-flagged. In my life-time we’ve been taught to hate Germans, Japanese, Russians, Chinese, Vietnamese, North-Koreans, Iranians, Iraqis, Muslims, and as many others multiple times over. We’re taught to hate with impunity and without question. How many Christians have called for carpet-bombing a particular country or people? “Kill ‘em all” is an oft-heard phrase in American, liberal, conservative, and even Christian circles. I’ve found little sympathy in the church for those massacred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So, the sentiment expressed by Hayley Geftman-Gold is profoundly repulsive. It’s good she was fired, though hypocritical. She was only expressing what a majority in this country express on a routine basis. Enemies of all stripes are regarded as sub-human objects and evoke no sympathy. If you’re a good American, it doesn’t matter if the enemy is Russian, Iranian, or Republican. Who cares?

And only a genuine understanding of the gospel will change that.

Right about Rights

We have to get it right when it comes to rights, not only for the preservation of our rights, but for a consistent worldview that brings peace to a culture and glory to God. “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices” (Prov. 11:10).

A Christian college professor said recently that a major problem in our culture is that the right to sex is trumping all other rights. She’s close, but not quite there. For one thing, in a civil context, we should actually affirm everyone’s right to sex, or at least their right to pursue consensual sex. We certainly affirm that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sin, and that all persons are accountable to God. But we also affirm that we have no right to bind another’s conscience or infringe on their liberty.

So, the problem is not the right to sex trumping all other rights. What the college professor is trying to say is that the right to have one’s sexual proclivities affirmed by all is trumping all other rights. And she would be right about that. I may affirm one’s civil right to engage in a consensual homosexual act, but I do not have to agree that act is right or not sinful. If I am forced to say that it is in fact right, then my liberty is infringed. Just as I have no right to trample on someone else’s liberty, no one has the right to trample on mine.

There is no such right to have one’s sexual inclinations affirmed by all. Such a position is anti-liberty. It’s also anti-diversity. Diversity means that there are people with diverse opinions and lifestyles in a culture. It means I leave alone those with whom I disagree. The moment I force them to agree with me or they force me to agree with them is the moment we live in a police state. Such a state is anti-liberty and anti-diversity.

Of course, there should be no surprise when persons in the larger culture demand rights that are no rights at all and that would ultimately destroy the rights they do have. Their foolish hearts are darkened (Rom. 1:21). And that’s why we propagate the gospel; it’s the only thing that will change foolish hearts. Such change means good for them and the larger culture as well.

While our rights as Christians or individuals is not ultimate, a full-orbed biblical view of discipleship takes into account the influence of the gospel on individuals as well as whole cultures. Making disciples of all the nations means more than seeking a few converts from each nation. It means teaching those converts how to obey Christ that more disciples are made that whole people groups or nations are influenced by the gospel. We have to get this right that people might be made right with God. When that happens, in civil society, we can get right our God-given rights as well.

“I wanna start a fight, so, so what?” I’ve felt that urge before and opened up my twitter app. And that’s why I deleted my twitter account. If your right arm offends you, right? Not that every Christian should do like me. But, “pics or it didn’t happen?” Be careful. Why not “too precious for Facebook?”

But the fight thing: that’s the issue. Christians taking to Twitter to vent; or scrolling through the Facebook feed to comment on hot topics. Some feel the urge to engage. Others are reluctant. Then there are those who tell us we must engage or we’re not fulfilling our gospel responsibility. We’re contributing to the error if we don’t correct it. We’re letting truth fall to the ground if we don’t say something.

Of course we must speak the truth – advance the gospel. At the same time, sometimes being a credible witness for Christ means not mixing it up. Paul said, “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23). It’s also true that “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Prov. 26:19). Grab that German Shepherd if you want to, but God says it’s not wise.

So how do we know when to comment and when to move on? How do we know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em? And when to play ‘em for that matter? Here are a few principles.

1) Ignore the atheist or contrarian who simply loves to contradict (Prov. 26:4).

2) Don’t get into someone else’s fight (Prov. 26:19).

3) Avoid all foolish disputes (2 Tim. 2:23).

4) Don’t be argumentative (Prov. 26:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:24).

5) Don’t let your emotions drive you to comment when you shouldn’t (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

6) Realize that you’re likely to be misunderstood for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that readers can’t see your body language or hear your intonations (1 Cor. 2:14; Prov. 26:4; Col. 4:5-6).

7) Know that you’re not obligated to answer every person or every comment (Rom. 15:19-20).

8) Set aside God in your heart before you speak (1 Pet. 3:15).

9) Pick your moments; be wise and judicious as to when you speak and what you say (Col. 4:5-6).

10) When you do comment, don’t offer opinion, but root your words in Scripture (Rom. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:13). In other words, cast down arguments with biblical truth (Prov. 26:5; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:15).

11) Warn those who stubbornly refuse to listen and move on (Matt. 10:14; Acts 13:46).

12) Don’t be ugly, but build up (Eph. 4:29).

It’s not about starting a fight.

Listen to the Dean’s List and find other helpful resources at True Worldview.