Chattanooga: A Polluted City

Chattanooga: A Polluted City

I remember first moving to Chattanooga when I was 18.  Excited to move south, I was eager to complete my college education and then launch out into the real world.  

Having grown up in Madrid, Spain, I was accustomed to pollution, given Madrid’s awful track record in the 1960’s and ’70’s.  But despite this, one of the first things I noticed as I settled into my new home city in Tennessee was its own pollution.  It was just a decade earlier when Chattanooga had been declared to have the worst air pollution in America, and there was no avoiding the dirt, filth and smog.

But nearly forty years later, one of Chattanooga’s claim to fame is the way in which it acknowledged its worst standing in America.  As the #1 polluted city, Chattanooga put a plan in place to tackle the scourge for which it had become known.  Government officials, agencies, businesses, and civic leaders all came together to lead in confronting the literal cloud that hung over them.  Today Chattanooga is known for its vibrant and rejuvenated downtown and is now regularly acknowledged for the beautiful city it has become.  

But in spite of the pride Chattanoogans have for the city we all love, there is another pollution that is much more serious than the smog and dirt that permeated our air just a few decades ago.

I was recently reading in the Bible in Numbers 35:33 (in the Old Testament) and I came across this astonishing statement:  “Murder pollutes the land.”  Stop for just a moment and let that statement sink in.  I wonder how many of us have ever truly considered the impact that a murder has on a city, or nation?  

Of course, murders happen everywhere.  But in some places murders happen in more frequency.  Chattanooga is one of those places.  Sadly, in 2016, Chattanooga ranked as the #9 most dangerous cities in America for crime (in the under 200,000 population category).  Much of the reason the city known for conquering its air pollution problem, sank to a #9 ranking in crime, is due to its increasing murder rate.  

If murder pollutes the land, then Chattanooga is being polluted at an ever increasing rate.  But unlike the air pollution of the 60’s and 70’s, the impact of murder is a permanent one.  The loss of a life is perhaps the worst kind of tragedy that one can experience.  The families, friends, neighbors and co-workers of a murder victim are forever changed.  

Americans are known for our interest in cleaning up our environment, protecting our natural resources, and generally tackling problems until we find their solution.  But to date, the pollution of murder in Chattanooga is not seen as a crisis for our city.  And until it is, or until we begin to recognize that murder is polluting our land, I fear we will continue to see this scourge poisoning our lives and that of our fellow citizens.  

I have come to realize this truth over the years: “That on which we focus we excel.”

To date, Chattanooga has offered much lip service to tackling the scourge of murder in our midst, but the focus has been lacking.  And by focus, I mean across the board, from all corners of our community.  The underlying factors that brought us to a #9 rating did not happen overnight, anymore than sinking to the worst air polluted city in America did.  And just like reversing our air pollution took a multi-disciplinary approach, likewise, saving lives by reducing our murders will require the same.  Government officials, agencies, courts, business leaders, churches and individuals must all come together to lead in finding the solutions.  And we must continue to do so until the solutions work. Unless or until we do, the pollution of our city will continue, and likely worsen.

In the second half of the verse in Numbers we read this:  “No sacrifice except the execution of the murderer can purify the land from murder.”  While it may sound insensitive or old fashion to some, the truth is that prompt and commensurate punishment is a strong deterrent to crime.  So when it comes to the taking of life, the way to purify the land from this pollution is to execute the one who took the life.  This is harsh, but this is justice.  And this is God’s remedy.

Finally, I have learned that what we see on the outside flows from what is in the inside.  The murders and other crimes we continue to see proliferated through our city and nation are merely a symptom of what is inside us.  Until we clean up the pollution inside our own lives, we will never clean up the pollution of murder, as hard as we try.

So what about it Chattanoogans?  Or for that matter Americans, since murder happens across this land.  It’s time to step up and tackle the pollution of murder in our midst.

“…for murder pollutes the land.”

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

The Impact of Broken Families on our Economy

If you’re 50 years old or older, you might remember an era when Home Economics class was a normal part of school curriculum. While boys were attending Shop Class, the girls were busy in Home Ec, learning about sewing and cooking. It was good practical info that many girls used later in life as they began their own families.  

Today though, the term Home Economics has a very different meaning, as presented in the book,Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure by Nick Schulz.  In the book, Schulz lays out a detailed and documented analysis of the deterioration of the American family over the last five decades.  The statistics are not only alarming but undoubtedly have contributed to much of the social breakdown we have seen in our nation since 1960, as well as rising government budgets.

Consider these troubling statistics, comparing 1960 to today, which sadly, in every instance, represent human lives:

*  Fewer people are marrying.
*  Those who do marry will marry later and divorce more frequently
*  Births to unmarried mothers have climbed dramatically. In 1960 they were just 5%. Today the number exceeds 40%. And in the black community, out of wedlock births account for 70% of all newborns.
*  The percent of children raised by single parents in 1960 was 9%; today it is more than 25%.
*  Married family households earn 40% more than single parent households.
*  Only 5% of married family households are considered poor vs 30% for single parent households.
*  Poor children are two times as likely to climb the economic ladder if their parents are continuously married versus the children of broken or single parent homes.
*  According to the Brookings Institute, if young people finish high school, get a job, and marry before having children, their chance at landing in poverty is only 2%.  But if these factors are not in place, three-fourths of young people will enter poverty.

Of course, politicians, social scientists, and many media pundits can quote these statistics at length.  But the problem isn’t knowing these numbers, but rather quantifying them, and then identifying real solutions to address this undeniable national crisis.

AMERICA’S FOUNDATION

As we think about our nation’s abundance, and the extraordinary success we have had over our 200+ year history, there is little doubt that our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, extraordinary documents, contributed to our nation’s greatness. But I would suggest that they do not singularly account for our exceptionalism.  

Foundational to these two documents was our Judeo-Christian values, and in particular the Family — an institution that undergirds any thriving society.  

Recall that “In the beginning…” when God created the heavens and earth, He created man and woman, and He told them to be fruitful, multiply, and become one flesh.  And several thousand years later, Jesus, the Creator, entered our world as Jesus, the Redeemer, and He affirmed the institution of the Family when He shared these words, in Matthew 19:4-9:

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

So God established marriage and the family, consisting of one man plus one woman and their children (which sadly today we must now define what a family is).  In addition to the Family, God also ordained the Government & Church.  But the fundamental building block of any society and nation is the Family.  Because of this, we  can conclude that “as the family goes, so goes the nation,” establishing a correlation between the strength of the family and the strength of a nation’s economy.

FISCAL IMPACT

There are two numbers that create a direct correlation between the decline of the family and our nation’s fiscal woes.  They are:

$757,000,000
$112,000,000,000

These two numbers come directly from a study entitled “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” that was issued in 2008 using data from 2006.  That report, conservative in its estimates, found that the cost of family fragmentation for ONE YEAR in Tennessee was $757 million and nationally was $112 billion. Even using these 10 year old numbers, we can calculate a 10 year cost to taxpayers of over $1 trillion for family fragmentation in America.  

Are you shocked? Don’t be. Note this quote from the report that attempts to identify the far reaching impact of a broken home:

“Divorce and unwed childbearing create substantial public costs, paid by taxpayers. Higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty among both adults and children bring with them higher taxpayer costs in diverse forms: more welfare expenditure; increased remedial and special education expenses; higher day-care subsidies; additional child-support collection costs; a range of increased direct court administration costs incurred in regulating post-divorce or unwed families; higher foster care and child protection services; increased Medicaid and Medicare costs; increasingly expensive and harsh crime-control measures to compensate for formerly private regulation of adolescent and young-adult behaviors; and many other similar costs.”

As I was doing some research on this topic, I came across a statement from former Hamilton County Sessions Court Judge, the late Bob Moon (in Chattanooga, TN).  Note his highly relevant remarks from several years ago:

 Government will never solve the inner origins of crime, or gangs or reverse the complex origins of the problems. The primary source of the problems is the family and inside the homes where government cannot go or control without a search warrant or responding to a crime after the fact.  In fact, the closest that government usually gets inside of the home for assistance is a sustenance check or food stamps in the mailbox.

Government can do some things and some programs are commendable, but in the big picture, gangs and juvenile violence can only be reduced by committed and responsible parents, teachers and our community working consistently together.  

The focus should not be just on money, programs, gang czars, summits and speeches.  The focus should be the one that mothers, fathers, teachers and community leaders should be placing on themselves individually.

Marcus Aurelius succinctly stated that “All great nations fall from within before they fall from without.

FAILED PROGRAMS

In the past, our ancestors utilized various ineffective approaches to treat diseases and injuries. In particular, blood-letting used to be a common medical practice. The idea was that by cutting a patient and releasing amounts of their blood they could heal the individual, believing they were “bleeding” a person to health. But after 2,000 years, the practice of blood-letting was finally abandoned. It likely killed many more patients than it ever healed.  Yet, it was the commonly accepted practice.

Fast forward to 2017. For over 50 years now, we have seen the American family continue to decline while rates continue to skyrocket for births out of wedlock, percent of children in single homes, percent of children in poverty, divorce rates and more. Yet, bureaucrats, social scientists and entire political parties, believe government programs can fix the problem. But these programs seldom if ever focus on the root of the problem.  Instead they seek to put a bandaid on a festering wound.  

It’s time to try something new rather than continuing to bleed red ink in our state and federal budgets. Taxpayers have a right, and an obligation, to weigh in on family policies since they are footing the bill to the tune of a Trillion Dollars per decade when marriages fail.

So what should our response be? Should we only be concerned with this issue because it affects our wallet via our taxes?  Or are there bigger reasons to motivate us?  Can we reverse the dangerous and destructive trend that we are seeing as it relates to the Family in America?

SOLUTIONS

I think so and here are just a few quick ideas.  While they may seem small, remember that every structure is built upon a solid foundation that is made up of individual bricks.  And there is not one of those bricks that is not important.  So consider these ideas:

Marriage —  Is your marriage strong and will you commit to keeping it strong? When you said your vows, “in sickness or health, for better or worse, ’til death do us part” did you mean them? Will you vow to never abandon your marriage… and children?  Will you allow your marriage to demonstrate to others what the family should look like… and what Christ can do in your relationship if you are a Christian?

Encourage others in their marriages.  Come alongside other couples, particularly if they are young and struggling. Show them the way to work through the bumps that we all have along the way.

Don’t buy into the false narrative that the family doesn’t impact our economy.  The fact is, our families drive our economy. Broken families equal a broken economy. Be willing to speak out when the opportunity arises.  

Embrace programs that are really making a difference in the inner city, where the marital statistics are at a red-alert level. One such program in Chattanooga is the Y-Cap program, that my friend Joe Smith and his son Andy have given thousands of hours to.  Their inner city boxing program comes alongside the most vulnerable children and broken homes to provide tutoring, mentoring and life skills.  Additionally, they train young boys in the art of boxing.  In fact, one of their shining examples, Ryan Martin, just fought his first fight in Madison Square Gardens on HBO last week and successfully defended his WBC Continental Americas title.  And he credits Joe and Andy Smith for much of his success. This is the kind of program that truly makes a difference in the lives of boys and girls who are otherwise destined for a life of poverty and likely crime.

Be willing to educate your friends and family on the two numbers that were shared in this article, since they likely have no clue about the dramatic costs of broken families on our budgets:
     $757 million: the annual cost of family fragmentation in Tennessee
     $112 billion:  the annual cost of family fragmentation in America

Challenge your church to step up to support the family, particularly broken ones.  Too often government will assume what the church has abandoned.  And for many years, the role of the church, as pointed out in James 1:27 has been lost: “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”  We have an epidemic of orphans and widows, via our single-parent homes where daddy has gone AWOL.  Sadly the church has gone AWOL as well.  So are we surprised that big government is waiting to step in with their big government programs, that are certainly capable of running up a big tab, but are incapable of producing permanent good results?

Remember, government is seldom neutral.  If it is, it won’t be for long.  So government is fully engaged in this issue.  But do they have the solution?  My belief is they do not.  So unless you speak up, the failed solutions of the last decades will continue to be the failed ones of the future.

Ultimately, there is no political solution for a spiritual problem.  And this is at the heart of this issue.  What God created as a spiritual union, cannot be replaced with government programs.  So the only genuine solution will occur when we see hearts transformed in America.  And as they are, and they are turned back to God, only then will we see the family restored, and our nation made great again.

“If the foundations are destroyed…”

Assembly Lines, Government Schools & the Loss of Our Republic

Assembly Lines, Government Schools & the Loss of Our Republic

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart” is a verse from Proverbs that is often repeated in Christian circles.

The fact is, most of my life I have subscribed to the hope this verse offers in raising one’s children.  Of course, I have considered the truth of this verse from the vantage point of the values that I believe to be true and worthy of living. But it dawned on me recently, as I was meditating on this passage, that this truth applies equally to those who do not share a conservative ideology or values.

So a child, trained up in values that are the antithesis of conservative, Judeo-Christian values, which I will refer to as liberal progressive values, will also generally not depart from those values when he or she moves into adulthood.

Assembly Lines

In a factory, assembly lines are used to create a product.  At the start of the assembly line, what commences as a heap of parts with little recognizable form, begins to take shape the further they travel down the conveyor belt.  Along the way, various assemblers interact with the parts as they pass through their stations. Each encounter leaves an indelible mark on the product being formed.  Ultimately, when the parts reaches the end of the assembly line, the predetermined process yields the desired result and the finished product has the marks of its assemblers, as programmed by the designer, embedded into its “DNA.” 

Progressives understand the concept of an assembly line and they’ve mastered it to perfection, beginning many decades ago, as it relates to the education system in America.

Our government-run educational institutions in America, more aptly referred to as “government schools,” is one of the greatest outward manifestations in our nation of the truth of the verse, “train up a child…”  For years now, a liberal progressive mindset that opposes traditional Judeo-Christian ethics, has dominated not only K-12 but also higher education as well.  The most obvious instance of the demarcation of this anti-biblical philosophy came when both the Bible and prayer were removed from our public schools in the early 1960’s.  

According to a study by David Barton entitled America: To Pray or Not to Pray, the removal of an absolute moral standard by which our children were educated for the first 150+ years of our nation, has led to a deterioration in a host of categories including the number of single parent households, divorce rates, violent crime, SAT scores, premarital sex, pregnancies for unwed girls, STD’s, and more.  

The statistics are a damning indictment of the liberal progressive philosophy that has permeated our educational system.  And the extensive degeneration of our culture, morals, family, respect for one another, and more, is largely attributable to the relativistic, amoral philosophy that has been ingrained into the minds and hearts of multiple generations.  As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out” and there is no doubt that the liberal progressive philosophy that removes God from the equation, can only be described as garbage, or better yet, poison.

The Loss of our Republic

Our Founding Fathers understood the importance of a proper education in the maintaining of our Republic and Liberty itself.  But their views were at odds with not only an errant 1960’s Supreme Court that banned prayer and Bible reading in government schools, but also with liberal progressives who have been intent on undermining the foundational values upon which our nation was built.  Our Founding Fathers spoke extensively about the impact religion and morals have on the individual and the ultimate survival of our Republic, but here are just three examples:

“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion.  Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.  Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”  Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration of Independence)

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams (signer of Declaration of Independence and 2nd President)

“The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government, and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”  Noah Webster (author of first Dictionary and American Speller, a book that taught children on subjects of morality and American government)

Celebrating Donald Trump

While half of America is hopeful and celebrating the election of Donald Trump, the other half is hopeless, frustrated, angry and in some instances even revolting against Trump’s Presidency.  But regardless of your view of Trump, there is a larger truth hanging in the balance.  Unless there is a change in the philosophy driving the conveyor belt that continues to churn out a secular humanist product, year after year, from our government schools, our Republic faces little hope.  Remember, the liberal progressive ideology is controlling the young fertile minds of our future voters for a minimum of twelve years.  And as our verse reminds us, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart.”

Control the children, control the future.  So unless those controlling the assembly line and the ideology training our children are changed, there is little hope for our Republic and Liberty itself.

The Utter Selfishness of Radical Feminists

The Utter Selfishness of Radical Feminists

This last weekend, as tens of thousands of radical feminists marched in cities around the nation, their vulgar and “nasty” remarks received prime coverage by a media eager to feature their heinous and godless tirades. Their despicable comments were beamed to homes and mobile devices everywhere.

The profane shouts and signs of these self-oppressed radicals, declared their bodies were their own, and that government should keep its hands and policies off of their sacred reproductive organs.  With clenched fists to the sky, these women affirmed to the world, and even to God Himself, that their bodies were sacrosanct, and that NO ONE, could, should, or would diminish their “women’s rights!”

But what struck me was the utter selfishness of these radical feminists.  It was on full display for anyone honest enough to acknowledge their despicable self-absorption. As a godless media deified them, these radicals felt no shame in their self-exaltation. 

Lost in all the rancor, protests, profanity and threats though, were the feminists’ lies. Also missing was one glaring truth.

The radical feminist’s message could not be more aptly illustrated than with these tragic feminists’ attitudes (where “My” is the feminist and “her” is the innocent child in the womb):

    “My body supersedes her life…”

            “My career displaces her future…”

                    “My freedom destroys her existence…”

This selfish, morally debased, and evil philosophy is what permeates the radical feminist movement.  These feminists’ rabid torrents of anger are the antithesis of what God designed and ordained in the beginning.

Sadly, the vile beliefs of these rabid feminists assault the tender sweetness of those that are disparaged in the debate.  The innocence of these children emanate from:  

The smoothness of her soft, untainted features and delicate skin.
The sweet sounds of his new lungs as he inhales the breath of life for the first time.
The tenderness of her astonished cries as she leaves the warmth and security of her mother’s womb.
The fragility of that little child, who only desires the love and care of the one who chose to conceive him.
The very image of God, implanted in her DNA.

But tragically, the little ones whom Jesus blessed as “the least of these” are the very ones that tens of thousands of angry, abusive, blustering feminists will continue to condemn to a trash bag, incinerator or some Frankenstein-type “health-care experiment.”

What has been merely a “choice” to millions over the last 34 years since Roe vs Wade, has been a tragic death sentence for more than 55 million innocent children.  It is a scourge of a nation that has turned its back on what God loves.

As Jesus hung on the cross, presenting His innocent life as a sacrifice for all, His death was the ultimate example of selflessness. He gave His perfect, sinless life in death, in order to offer life to all of sinful mankind.  

Tragically though, the polar opposite of that selfless sacrifice by Jesus, is the abhorrent selfishness that is exemplified by radical feminists. In the name of choice, they will continue to demand “reproductive rights” and “equality”— their unacknowledged code words for snuffing out the lives of those they deem unworthy of life.  

Over the course of one week, the despicable acts and philosophy of the pro-death feminists will be juxtaposed with the peaceful and loving throngs of pro-life supporters, who will march this Friday, seeking merely to bring an end to the murderous act that was legalized by Roe v Wade in 1973.  There could be no greater contrast in the messages of these two groups than the feminists versus those who are pro-life. 

And there is no greater disparity between life and death, as God reminds all of mankind:

“I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

May our nation, and our people come to our senses and move diligently to protect the most innocent and fragile, and in so doing, may we find the mercy and grace that only a sovereign and forgiving God can extend.  

Drowning in Fear?  How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

Drowning in Fear? How to Find Peace in the Midst of an Electoral Storm

were-going-to-drown

Has Campaign 2016 left you feeling like you are about to drown in a barrage of fear and moral corruption?  Have you experienced any of these emotions over the last few months?  Angst? Anger? Worry? Uncertainty? Nervousness? Fear?

As I’ve engaged in political discourse, I have seen these emotions permeating the discussions.  It’s clear that Americans are experiencing an extreme degree of angst.  The level of fear that is expressed by conservatives, republicans, independents, and democrats seems to be off the charts.  

Our future appears to have been boiled down to the choice that will prevail on November 8th.  While there are monumental factors at stake that are driving the choices Americans will make at the ballot box, there have been other seminal moments for our nation.

If you think back over your life, you can no doubt identify times when your future was dire and bleak.  Similarly, while our nation’s homeland has faced a relatively tranquil and prosperous series of decades, there have been periods in our history when citizens wondered if the Republic would survive.

I’m reminded of a passage in the gospels where the disciples were fearing for their lives.  The story is found in Matthew 8 and highlights one day in the life of Jesus.  Throughout that day, Jesus healed a leper, a paralytic child, a feverish lady, cast out a demon, and healed dozens of others.  At the end of this “day in the life of Jesus” where the miraculous became almost commonplace, Jesus led his disciples into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. 

Shortly after Jesus and the disciples embarked on the journey, a violent storm encompassed their boat.  The disciples, terrified by the tempest that surrounded them, and the waves that were crashing inside the boat, yelled out in utter hopelessness, to a sleeping Jesus.

“Lord, save us!  We’re going to drown!”

Consider exactly what the disciples were revealing with those chilling words.  First, they had completely forgotten what they had just witnessed earlier in the day, when Jesus performed miracle after miracle, reflecting His complete dominion over the physical and spiritual.  Second, consider that this supernatural Man had led them directly into the boat.  While they were unaware of what lay ahead, Jesus fully understood what that dark night held for them.  Finally, while Jesus knew there was a storm directly in their path, He also knew that the storm was not the object of that night.  Rather, a lesson that the disciples needed to experience and learn, was precisely what Jesus had in mind.

So Jesus awoke to the disciples’ screams of fear, panic, and hopelessness.  He saw it in their eyes, heard it in their voices, and fully understood their emotions.  But, He did not immediately deliver them from their greatest fears.  Rather, as the waves were swirling around their knees, Jesus questioned:

“Why are you fearful?”

Did the disciples not understand what the purpose of the last twelve hours had been?  Did they not remember that Jesus was the Son of God?  Did they fail to comprehend that He delivered dozens from physical and spiritual oppression?  Did they not realize the most obvious reality, that Jesus was in the boat with them?  Could they perish with the Son of God at their side?

Yet they so easily forgot, just as we so often do.  But notice Jesus’ next words.

“O you of little faith.”

The disciples had within minutes lost their trust in the very Creator of the universe; the God-man who had called them to follow Him, and told them things about themselves that only God could have know; the Nazarene who they were seeing live a perfect life, who had turned water into wine, healed the sick and lame, brought words to the lips of the mute, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.

Yet, fear gripped the disciples and they lost their faith.  And what was drowned out that night by the storms that swirled around them was not their physical lives, but more importantly their spiritual faith.  

But then, despite the fear and lack of faith by the disciples, we read these words:

“Then Jesus arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

If Jesus can halt physical storms can He not conquer the storms in your life, and our nation?  Of course He can.  And although there are clear biblical principles that instruct us to not simply sit back and do nothing, we also learn from Matthew 8 that what we are often lacking is faith.

Faith that believes. 

Faith that trusts.

And, as we learn in the book of James, faith that is revealed by our works, for we read that “faith without works is dead.”

Remember that “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  The same Jesus that saved His disciples from drowning that stormy night, is the same One who is fully aware of the storms in your life, and our nation.  But will you and I acknowledge, trust, and follow Him, not just on November 8th, but more importantly on November 9th and forward?

In just a few days our nation will enter a new era.  It could be a very stormy and tumultuous period.  So we have two choices.  Will we turn to the ultimate answer for a stormy future and return to the only One who can guide us through these storms?  Or will we trudge on, in fear, disunity and hopelessness?    

Politicians, their Parties and ideological movements are not our hope.  There is only one Hope: Jesus Christ.  Let’s turn to Him as we climb into the boat that will traverse a Clinton or Trump Presidency.  It’s going to get rough, but we know that God Himself will never leave us nor forsake us.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

Mark

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

If You Reject Hillary & Trump Here are Some Options

reject-hillary-trump-options-final

In my post earlier this week, I attempted to make the case for what happens when one votes for the lesser evil and how that ultimately results in a continued race to the bottom of the barrel.  If this year’s election proves anything, it should affirm that truth, with a couple of candidates who may be amongst the most depraved and immoral ones in our nation’s history. 

In the same article, I also attempted to lay the groundwork for why the Bible affirms that when confronted with evil, of any kind or in any setting, the Christian is called to reject it, have no fellowship with it, and to even expose it.  I often hear the response, “well, we’re not electing a pastor in chief” to which I respond, “ok, but where in scripture does it limit our rejection of evil to simply when we are selecting a pastor?

That said, if you’re reading this post, then I assume you may either 1) be curious about more of my rants and ramblings,  2) you truly are interested in exploring your options because you find both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton unfit to serve as President of the United States, or 3) you want to see just how crazy I am.

Consider these statistics about the feelings of Americans:

  • 57% of Americans believe a 3rd Party is needed (up from 46% in 2012) and 51% of Republicans agree, according to Gallup.
  • 33% of Americans believe Hillary Clinton would be a good/great President while 25% believe the same about Donald Trump.  Gallup
  • Trust in political leaders is at an all time low, with just 42% of Americans having a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust.  Gallup

Given these numbers, it’s highly likely that we will see a record number of voters either stay home, vote only the down ballot, or vote third party or independent.  

So in the chart at the bottom of this post, I have attempted to layout just a few of the other “credible” alternatives that are available for those interested.   While I started with a larger slate, as I continued my research I narrowed it greatly.  I have presented the positions on key issues from these final candidates primarily from their websites and/or platforms.  But in a case or two I have gone to the internet to quote their positions from interviews they have given.  If you want to see the more than 400 Presidential candidates, you can find them here.  

Wasting Your Vote

I am told by some that voting for a candidate other than the Republican or Democrat means you just wasted your vote.  There are several responses to that perspective but first, if you follow that logic, then voting for any loser was a wasted vote.  So if my vote for a candidate who did not win is a waste, then it must stand to reason if you vote for Trump and he loses then your vote is a waste as well.  Furthermore, under that line of reasoning, if you voted for Romney four years ago, or even your local dog catcher (if he lost), you wasted your vote as well.  That hardly makes sense. 

I would never assert your vote is a waste, regardless of who you voted for.  I may disagree, but it’s rather presumptuous of me to assert that your vote, cast from your personal values and beliefs, is a waste.  That’s the height of mocking and belittling someone’s deeply held convictions and a very arrogant attitude to assert that someone else must vote as you believe.  In fact, it may border on the kind of elections that Saddam Hussein would have expected you to participate in.  Vote as he demands or else!

But let me move to a different angle.  While as Americans we are conditioned to win, voting should not be about just winning.  Fundamentally it should be about expressing your values.  Where those values can align with a candidate and actually win, that is the best outcome for you and your values.  But when one wholeheartedly sacrifices those values, particularly when those values are deep, fundamental and non-negotiable, one’s character is diminished, and ultimately the character of the nation devolves.  Many of our founding fathers spoke about voting and I think their views are worth being reminded of.  I’ve included a few below:

Founding Fathers on Voting

Noah Webster

In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate.  Look to his character. When a citizen gives his suffrage [vote] to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.”

Samuel Adams

Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.

Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust be men of unexceptionable characters. The public cannot be too curious concerning the character of public men.

John Witherspoon

Those who wish well to the State ought to choose to places of trust men of inward principle, justified by exemplary conversation. . . .And the people in general ought to have regard to the moral character of those whom they invest with authority either in the legislative, executive, or judicial branches.

James Garfield

Now more than ever the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . If the next centennial does not find us a great nation . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Frederick Douglass

I have one great political idea. .  .  That idea is an old one. It is widely and generally assented to; nevertheless, it is very generally trampled upon and disregarded. The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

What’s at Stake

I am fully aware of what is at stake in this election.  As someone who has been on the front lines of the battle for our Constitutional Republic politically and culturally for the last decade, I can recite very succinctly the threats that are posed to you, me and our nation.  The loss of religious liberty.  The loss of the second amendment.  The loss of free speech.  The further encroachment on civil liberties and property rights. The increasing attack on Life and Marriage.  The further opening of our borders and national sovereignty.  Increasing terrorism.  And more and more.  

Yes, our nation hangs in the balance.  But as bad as that is, or perhaps because it is so bad, I must turn to God and His Word for instruction and direction.  And if one is willing to study, search and dig, it’s not only amazing, but encouraging to find how much is in the Word of God that speaks to the very issues we are facing.  Truthfully, doing so will give you peace in the midst of this Cat 4 storm we appear to be in.

One story in the Old Testament stands out in particular, that is no doubt familiar to you.  Recall the three Hebrew young men, millennials perhaps, living in the Babylonian empire as captives.  They were faced with a dire choice.  That choice was not on par with losing their right to bear arms, or their freedom of speech, or even simply religious liberty.  It was actually much, much worse.  They were threatened with the loss of their very lives in a fiery furnace if they refused to obey the king.  And yet, read their response:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

While these exemplary young men knew their God could save them, they also understood He might not.  But they trusted Him with their lives nonetheless.  And God delivered them.

So this is the question I ponder:  Is it to much for me to do something lesser and trust God with my nation? 

Biblical References

Let me close with some references from the ultimate source for me, God’s Word.  For right or wrong, my default is to seek God’s views on all matters of life. Given that He created it all, and we are navigating through His world, I subscribe to the notion that one should look to the owners manual for instruction.  For me, that owners manual is the Bible.  As you read the passages below, I encourage you to continue to seek God in prayer, asking Him to make your decision clear.  He promises to do so, if we will ask, and when He does, you will gain a supernatural peace.

“Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness…”  Exodus 18:21

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”  Daniel 2:21

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  John 14:27

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, have a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Peter 3:1-5

“Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”  I Thessalonians 5:21-22

“And why not say, Let us do evil that good may come?”  Romans 3:8

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  I Corinthians 10:31

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  Proverbs 29:25

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

My Vote

I have had a number of readers ask me about who I plan to vote for so I will share that openly.  While I am in agreement with many of the positions for each of the candidates below, I have some non-negotiable values as well.  And given those non-negotiables, two of the candidates disqualified themselves for me.  So the individual I plan to cast my vote for, barring any other “new information” that might come to light, is Darrell Castle with the Constitution Party.  The Party’s website is extensive with a strong and very detailed description of their views on all of the salient issues of our day.  And while there are a couple I may not agree with wholeheartedly, on the fundamentals for me, the Constitution Party is solid.  (In Tennessee where I live I will have to write-in the name Darrell Castle as may be the case in your state as well.)

Finally, consider the down ballot as you go to the polls, regardless of your Presidential pick.  At the end of the day, the many lesser positions can have a profound impact on our lives as well, particularly in your local community.  So I encourage you to apply the same standard to those other choices as you diligently and prayerfully make your selections.

As indicated in my previous article, I welcome your thoughts, critiques, and feedback. This continues to be a learning and growth process for me so your perspective is always valued and respected.

Mark

NOTE:  Chart below works best on computer or to view on your phone click here.