“Why Not?”
(Dangerous Dreaming)

“Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not.” ~

George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), Irish playwright.

This statement is dangerously unwise. It feels great to dream of an ideal world and lament its absence but effective leaders resist this temptation preferring to focus on reality.

G.B. Shaw (quoted above) was a devout Fabian socialist. He advocated equal pay to everyone and condemned private land ownership as “theft.” He righteously called non-vegetarians “cannibals” despite the fact that he believed in eugenics for humans. Arguing for a scientifically planned society, Shaw called for the development of deadly but “humane” gas for exterminating undesirables who are “not pulling their weight in the social boat.” His defenders claim such statements were satiric irony, but such was never made clear. No wonder he supported one of history’s greatest (and deadliest) dreamers—Joseph Stalin. As an avowed atheist, Shaw advocated the self as “God.” He was also known for many affairs with married women.

In today’s pleasure-pursuing, luxury-loving culture, Americans don’t like to think in terms of limitation. We want to have it all. We enrich and elect those who promise we can. We are addicted to dreaming. Magic Johnson concluded his autobiography with the following invitation: “Whatever your dream is, go for it.”


I am not ready to tell this to the thugs, liars, cheats, exploiters, oppressors and con-artists of the world. They dream too and their dreams become our nightmares. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and other tyrants went confidently in the direction of their dreams and lived the lives they imagined. No! All dreams should be subject to moral scrutiny and refined by reality.

Remember President Obama’s election victory speech in January, 2009? He proclaimed:

    I am absolutely certain, that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation.

Absolutely certain? The fans went wild.

President Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, have been based on how he thinks the world should operate rather than on reality. Every major promise he made to pass the “Affordable Care Act” did not come to pass in reality, but I’m sure he wanted them to be true when he made them. He thinks our enemies simply need to be convinced that we mean well. This, he dreams, will minimize their resentment toward us and curtail their ambition in the world.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian forces just overran yet another Ukrainian military base unopposed. Responding with mere words, President Obama told a Dutch newspaper, “The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War.”

“Should have?” Sorry sir, but it didn’t.

He continued, “As I’ve said, the future of Ukraine ought to be decided by the people of Ukraine.”

“Ought to be?”

Our president’s naiveté is not safe for the free world. Mere words can get a candidate elected easy enough in America, but they cannot make him into a leader.

President Obama is the antithesis of George Washington. Our first president resolved to see and deal with things as they were in reality rather than how he desired or dreamed them to be. Leaders pay greater attention to actions than to words or intentions. On December 15, 1779, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army wrote:

    A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it. (Letter to Major-General John Sullivan)

As president in 1795, Washington wrote the following to Edmund Randolph: “There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” All leaders pay lip service to this pursuit but Washington actually ran that course.

Finally, check out the following quip attributed to comedian George Carlin:

    Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.


Photo Credit
Obama’s Speech

The Monster!
(Eleven years in Hell)

My title was easy but my subtitle had competition. Here were the other options:

“Blame anything but yourself”
“The helpless addict defense”
“Depravity or disease?”
“Language Matters!”
“Sin or sickness?”

On August 1, 2013, the Cleveland kidnapper (rapist and baby-murderer too) who held three women captive for over a decade, told the court, “These people are trying to paint me as a monster. I’m not a monster. I’m sick.”

He thinks self-pity sells.

“I have an addiction,” he continued, “just like an alcoholic has an addiction. Alcoholics cannot control this addiction. That’s why I could not control my addiction.”

Wait. For over a decade, this monster was in TOTAL control of three other human beings. Everything they saw, smelled, tasted, touched and heard was under his complete control. Yet he had no “control” over himself and his alleged “addiction”?

Sorry, but I’m not that stupid.

The Cleveland kidnapper (who shall remain nameless) lured his first victim into his clutches with the promise of a puppy for her son. Two more victims were targeted and captured. He chained them down in dark rooms, boarded the windows from the inside and deployed multiple locks on heavy doors.

A decade disappeared. But he was helpless, right?


Dead wrong.

Expletive-deleted wrong!

I don’t buy the dehumanizing notion that we have no control over our attitudes, compulsions, actions or even our addictions. I realize every case and heart is different. Also, there may be some physiological or external factors adding to one’s struggle, but they do not trump free moral agency in human beings, nor should they minimize moral accountability in society. No man made in God’s image is “born” to rape. It’s a choice.

Blaming anything or anyone but yourself always creates a monster. Human depravity thrives on self-pity. Innovative excuses for sin abound to those unwilling to come clean and take the blame. Some can fool everyone but God.

This monster in Cleveland blamed his “addiction” (not himself) for his behavior. Then he blamed others for his addiction, including some relatives and the authorities. He cited pornography as a factor. Then he claimed the sex was consensual, saying, “We had a lot of harmony that went on in that home.”

Language matters, people! It was a prison, not a “home.” It was predation, not “harmony.” It was total control, not mutual “consent.” It was willful sin, not “addiction.” He is not just “sick,” he is evil.

While we are at it:

  • Abortion is not just a “choice.”
  • Adultery and pedophilia are not “love.”
  • Terrorists are not merely “militants” or “gunmen.”
  • Illegal aliens are not “guests.”
  • Tax-hikes are not “investments.”
  • People who disagree with you are not always “bigots.”
  • Rapists are not “unplanned lovers.”
  • Sexual harassers are not just “huggers” (as one alleged abuser labeled himself)

In the same courtroom with the monster, one of his victims gave voice to her solace. She bravely said, “I spent eleven years in hell. Now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all that happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”

It’s not often these days that such talk of hell gets traction. That’s probably because few of us have spent eleven years in isolation and in chains being raped and tortured by an “addict.” Nevertheless (I love that word), I hope she can discover deeper levels of peace over time and that bitterness will have no hold on her. It sounds like she’s choosing to overcome her victimhood and re-claim some control.

Why is it that those with the best excuses available rarely use them?

It is morally monstrous to enslave human beings for selfish and abusive purposes. Nevertheless (there’s that word again), God’s mercy is available to those who truly repent, inside and out. God once transformed a ravaging monster named Saul into Saint Paul, the missionary! If the Cleveland kidnapper ends up in hell, it will not be because he sinned. We all do that. It will be because he cherished his sins, blamed everyone but himself and carried his “helpless addict” defense all the way to God.

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
(Psalm 66:18).

A Pretty Pass

“Things have come to a pretty pass . . . when religion is allowed to invade public life.”
Lord Melbourne (1779 – 1841)

Okay, who was Lord Melbourne and why didn’t he want religion in politics?

His given name was William Lamb, born in 1779 to an aristocratic Whig family in London. As a young man, he knew such “romantic radicals” as Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. His wife took up a public affair with the “mad, bad and dangerous” Lord Byron (her description), the talk of Britain in 1812. His wife and father died in 1828, the same year William inherited the title, “2nd Viscount Melbourne.”

After 25 years as a backbencher in the House of Commons, Lord Melbourne served as Britain’s Prime Minister from 1834 to 1841. In 1836, after a blackmail attempt failed, he was accused of an affair with the socialite wife of a fellow politician. He survived the scandal but allegedly did not stop seeing the woman. In 1837, he became a political mentor for Queen Victoria when she first came to the throne at age 18.

As a politician, Lord Melbourne often opposed reform and usually sought the middle ground. Compromise was his hallmark. A champion of the status quo, his most famous dictum in politics was, “Why not leave it alone?” Perhaps his rocky and radical Romantic youth is what made him a die-hard moderate in politics.

By contrast, William Wilberforce (1759 – 1833) was a passionate and principled reformer. In Parliament, he led a campaign to end England’s slave trade that took a quarter century to complete with the Slave Trade Act of 1807. It took another quarter century to end legalized slavery itself with the Slave Abolition Act of 1833. Wilberforce died three days after his lifelong mission was accomplished. With few allies, he fought both public indifference and moneyed opposition to end slavery. Despite many set-backs over nearly fifty years, his determination and patience paid off.

It all started in 1785 when Wilberforce experienced a life-changing conversion to evangelical Christianity. As a new Christian, he questioned whether he should remain in public life. An evangelical Anglican rector named John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”) encouraged him to remain. Wilberforce’s faith transformed his priorities and made him a political force to be reckoned with. First, his personal life was transformed. He began to spend less money on himself and more on others, including the needy and various mission and educational causes. In public life, he established the Society for the Suppression of Vice, created a free colony in Sierra Leone, West Africa, founded the Church Mission Society and worked to prevent cruelty to animals—all in addition to his ongoing fight to emancipate slaves. His Christian faith stood as the foundation for all this, making him a statesman-saint and a role model for putting faith into action in both the private and public arenas of his day.

It was during Wilberforce’s campaign against the slave trade that Lord Melbourne took to the floor of Parliament and said, “Things have come to a pretty pass . . . when religion is allowed to invade public life.”

Over 200 years later, author and Prison Ministry leader Chuck Colson offered his perspective on tLord Melbourne’s quote above, saying, “Thank God religion did invade public life, because it brought an end to slavery.”

Religion invaded public political life again over a century later with the work and words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968). The “Lord Melbournes” of the 20th century again complained. They wondered what right do preachers have to participate in politics? Thankfully, King stepped up, although he paid dearly for it.

In Western politics on both sides of the pond today, there are many more Melbournes than Wilberforces. In America, there is no shortage of politicians, professors, pundits, preachers and thought leaders who frequently and loudly voice dismay over the invasion of religion into public life. This serves to protect many ongoing forms of corruption and injustice, like the ongoing erosion of the family, the dramatic rise in out-of-wedlock births, the institutionalization of abortion (including born-alive “abortions”) and the willful decomposition of marriage itself. The “moderate” Lord Melbournes of today relish the marginalization of faith from public life.

America’s founders made their conviction clear that politics needs religion a lot more than religion needs politics. They knew better than to legislate this relationship but they saw clearly the indispensable value of faith, freely expressed and practiced in public. Not all Christians are called into public life, but those who are stand on solid constitutional, moral and scriptural ground (which I plan to explore in a future blog post).

An invasion of faith and love into public life would be a “pretty pass” we can celebrate.

Loving Sinners: Part Two
(The Same-Sex Wedding Dilemma)

(See part one here)

Jesus was more than willing to eat with sinners. The apostle Paul was the same way, although he drew the line against associating with “a so-called brother” who remained immoral and unrepentant (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

Jesus was also willing to tell sinners to repent. This call constituted His main challenge to humanity as a teacher.

Matthew remembered the gist of Jesus’ message this way: “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:17). But let’s let Jesus speak for Himself:

  • It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:31-32).
  • But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:5).
  • [There] will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7).

Jesus, who never sinned, was kind and loving to sinners. Yet, he hated sin with a passion. He was especially outraged with those who caused children to sin. He understood what sin did to people He loved. On several occasions, He recalled God’s judgment on Sodom as entirely just. He warned of even worse judgment for those who refuse to repent (see Matthew 11:20-24).

Charles H. Spurgeon, the 19th century “prince of preachers,” understood Jesus’ love for sinners. He preached:

    Christ came to bring healing to those who are spiritually sick—you say that you are perfectly well, so you must go your own way and Christ will go in another direction—towards sinners.

A good physician would never base a prescription for a sick person on a desire to be liked or to make the patient feel better about himself. Good doctors don’t tell patients to simply follow their whims or take whatever medicine tastes good. Spiritually speaking, nothing tastes worse than repentance. And nothing prevented Jesus, the Great Physician, from His prescription for sick sinners to repent. Refusing this charge is like hiding from the good shepherd who longs to find us and carry us home.

Repentance means to change one’s mind and turn from sin. It transforms both our inner orientation and our outer lifestyle. It is incompatible with a conscious identification with our temptations or sins. Defining yourself by your sin or your inclinations to sin is the polar opposite of repenting.

Those who define themselves as homosexual need Jesus. In Him, they would see love for the sinner and hatred for the sin. We all see this simultaneous love and hatred in the cross. Jesus would eat with sinners but never put his carpentry skills to use to build an altar for idolatry or a sanctuary for sin. He would never call adultery “love,” or celebrate a same-sex or polyamorous marriage. The apostle John made it clear that “[Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5), not to join forces with sin. He spent time with tax-collectors but never participated in their theft. Instead, he insisted on repentance.

Should a homosexual musician or photographer be forced to provide her services to the Westboro Baptist Church where gay hatred ruins rampant? Of course not. Why not respect the same right of refusal for Christians who oppose same-sex marriage?

Christians who refuse involvement in same-sex “weddings,” either as ministers, musicians, photographers, bakers or otherwise, are standing tall with Jesus. However, cultural and political pressure is increasingly depriving Christians of their legal right to say “no” to something they deem sinful. Even the National Football League recently threatened to punish Arizona if their governor allowed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to pass. Nevertheless (I love that word), Christians honor God above legality, money and political correctness. No politician, CEO, professor, celebrity or journalist can force a real Christian to join in with sin.

They cannot stop us from loving sinners either.