Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Promises, Promises

Thanks to Amazon Kindle's tons of free books that are available, I've been reading Martin Luther's Commentary on Genesis, which has been fairly fascinating.

In the story of Cain and Abel, Luther addressed a question that I have had for a long time. "If Cain was sentenced to roam, then why is it that he founded the first city?"

Luther compared Adam's being cast out of the Garden to when Cain was cast out. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, they had the promise of the Messiah and the promise of God's protection. Cain was not given that. He was not given a direction to go. He could go east, west, north, south. He could work hard to prosper, and have no promise that it would benefit him. He was cast away from his family, never to see them again, and no promise about his progeny and what would become of them.

So while Cain founded the first city, there was no promise that it would prosper and continue to prosper. There was no promise that his children would survive, and in fact, every descendant he had was destroyed in The Flood. Cain did not have God's blessing on what would come.

There were two things that God promised, though. If someone killed Cain, he would be severely punished, and that Cain would have a wife. Luther states that this was done for two reasons. It was an act of mercy that gave time for Cain to repent. It was also an act of "uncovenanted mercy" for the sake of the elect, so that those who were his descendents who were elect could be saved. Cain was meant to have children who would come to faith. After all, Seth's descendants would come into contact and even marry some of the descendants of Cain's, and hear the Word of God proclaimed.

There are two kinds of promises, Luther explains. The first, legal promises, depend on our own works. When God tells the Children of Israel that they will prosper as long as they keep His commandments, that is a legal promise. This also explains why God seems so "temperamental" and can change His mind when prophets beg God to stay his judgement and not destroy the people whenever He threatens to. God has every right to destroy the Israelites when they depart from His will at any time He wants, but He also can hold back and wait to see if they continue to rebel against His will.

The question "If thou doest well, shall not thy countenance be lifted up?" in Genesis 4:7, that is said to Cain is also of this type. And Luther points out that moral nations do tend to prosper and have better order than immoral nations. As Lutherans, we don't like to say "God sent this hurricane because of our wickedness" and in a sinful world, that is correct, we really cant judge whether or not an individual act is a punishment for wickedness. But on the whole, a nation that behaves well, prospers. Empires that fall into wickedness tend to decline.

But there is another type of promise, the promise of grace. These have no threats of what will happen if our end is not kept. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," "I will write the law in their inward parts, in their heart will I write it: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." are examples of promises of grace. Because He made these promises that were in no way dependent upon our works, He will keep them under any and all circumstances.

Adam had promises of grace. Cain also should've had that promise, a life that was guided by God that would also lead to the eventual birth of the Savior of mankind. But Cain killed his brother and refused to repent, refused to come to God for mercy. So Cain's direction would not be guided by God or blessed by God. That is what made Cain a vagabond and a wanderer.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Rights of Our Daughters

President Obama has stated that today, the 39th Anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion across the United States is part of the work to “continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

Here's the innate problem, where we as a culture have messed up completely: Somewhere along the line, we've decided that the key to happiness has become what we do for a living, and that the dream of dreams is to have the job we want. One of the first questions we ask kids as we encounter them, the question we ask to get to know them is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" And we don't mean a husband or a wife, a mother or a father. Those are kind of taken for granted. We'll probably all do that, and because of birth control, we'll do that when it is most convenient for us. And if our husband or wife gets in the way of the dream for a career, or they want more time and consideration than our career will afford them, then we can divorce them. If our kids need someone to look out for them, we have daycare.

We don't raise our sons to view the role of husband to be the most important and desired. We don't raise our daughters to prize the role of wife and to put it first.

As a culture, marriage and parenthood are accessories to a good life, and that good life comes from the job. Personal meaning and self-worth come from the job. And the weird thing is, the receptionist who makes $9.00 an hour thinks this as much as the CEO who makes a million a year. And as Pastor Christopher Gillespie asks so eloquently today, " Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? "

Raising children is rough, and it certainly can get in the way of reaching our personal dreams of wealth, career, and freedom. But in the end, if the primary value is that our true purpose is found within our family, and that being a husband or a wife is where our prime focus is, and when men have the same concept of responsibility to family and self-sacrifice, then their dreams are second to providing for the family as well.

When marriage is out of the picture in relationship to children, it does all fall on the woman. And when sex, rather than marriage is valued, then it all falls down and it becomes okay to kill another human being, worse yet, one's own children, in order to reach your own personal dream.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romney's Constitution Question

I'm not a Mitt Romney apologist, but he's come under fire for this statement here....

But the criticism is entirely unfair. He was being trapped.

In 2003, Rick Santorum came under criticism because he disagreed with the 1965 Supreme Court decision of Griswald vs. Connecticut. This case has been used to argue that homosexuality, abortion, polygamy, etc. are constitutional, because the Court determined that there is an extended right to privacy in the Constitution. However, originally, the case was about the state of Connecticut's right to ban the sale of contraceptives. Back in 1965, a lot of states banned this. As Romney stated, there isn't a state out there now that even wants to ban the sale of contraceptives. With socialized medicine and welfare, it is a lot cheaper to prevent the birth of a child than to provide medical care and food for that child.

However, Romney is in a dubious place. As a former Mormon bishop, if he says no, states do not have this right, he risks ticking off the Mormon church, whose theology encourages large families. If he says yes, in principle, he alienates almost everyone else who believes that sexuality without procreation is a human right.

Romney made a dodge of the issue, which really is a complete non-issue. A rather clumsy dodge, but a dodge all the same. He wasn't saying that he didn't know the Constitution, but that he was passing it off on someone else, since it was clearly a stupid question. But I believe (and I am not sure) that Romney's health care program provided for birth control.

However, what this makes clear is that the media is gearing up on a full-court press on Santorum, and they are attempting to determine what others are going to say on this matter.