Evolution and Violence

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Ever since Charles Darwin published “Origin of Species” in 1859, we have been taught that people evolved from lower forms of, well, something. After slithering around in the primordial ooze for millions upon millions of years, eventually our ancestors crawled up on dry ground and started climbing trees, becoming monkeys in the process. Some untold millions of years ago, we decided not to be like those any longer and started to chart our own course in the world, which hasn’t been the same since. This (or some variation of it) has been taught in the State schools for generations and millions upon millions of children have grown up believing this hogwash. My apologies to the hogs!

Think about it this way. If we are taught from the get-go that we are animals, nothing more than animals, and no better nor different than animals, the odds are pretty good that we’re going to act like animals. The question to ask, then, is how do animals act? From the ones I’ve been around and the National Geographic shows I’ve seen on television, I’d say that they are only concerned with four things–food, water, sex, and survival, all of which are tied up in a neat little bundle. Animals everywhere, at all times, fit into this description. You can protest all you want about how your pampered French poodle is different, but I know and can say with certainty that if it gets loose outside by some miracle, within five minutes it will revert back to being a dog and start looking for the nastiest, dirtiest pile of “whatever” to roll in. Regardless of how much it loves you, it is still a dog and will act that way, given the chance.

Animals usually kill other animals for food. Occasionally they kill them during battles to decide which one will get the girl. Sometimes self-defense enters into the picture and once in a while one will go mad with rabies and infect other animals with the disease, resulting in death. I have even seen cats catch mice and play with them for sport before finally issuing the “coup de grace”. This is completely natural for them and cannot be considered as wrong or evil because they are acting instinctively and don’t know any better.

Man, however, is a different story. Regardless as to the origin of man, whether we arrived on the scene via evolution, space aliens, God, or some other means, man knows the difference between right and wrong. One major reason man has survived and prospered over the millennia is because we have known what we could and could not do to our fellow man, and have suppressed the urges that would have killed us off if given free rein! It is because we control ourselves and our “natural” instincts that man has grown stronger, smarter, and more dominant.

Where in the world did this self-control come from? Animals don’t have it. Monkeys, from which we’re supposedly descended, don’t have it. If our “ancestors” didn’t have it and we didn’t receive it from them, then where and how did humans get it? Either we learned it on our own by sheer accident over umpteen millions of years and umpteen billions of failed attempts to get it right, or else it was given to us by someone else, far older and wiser, from outside the species.

Contrary to the evolutionary theory, man was created by God. From the very beginning, God gave man (and man alone) the ability to distinguish between right and wrong behavior. Man was made in God’s Image, animals weren’t. Man knows, animals don’t. It’s that simple. It’s not rocket science, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know without even thinking about it that some things are just plain wrong.

Considering the fact that we’ve been “educated” for over 150 years in Darwinianism and that we’ve been “enlightened” to the idea that God is dead, never existed, or has been removed from Our Presence, is it any wonder that some people act like animals? Perhaps, though, I should rephrase that because animals don’t decide one day to run amuck and kill dozens, scores, hundreds, thousands, or millions of their own species the same way that man does. People alone kill other people without any reason because they want to, not because of self-defense or to gain access to fertile females and the food cache, but simply because they have a desire to. This is evil and it is the suppression of that evil which creates safety and security within society.

Why should we be surprised that Adam Lanza decided one day to kill twenty-seven people, including himself? Why should we react in horror because Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb which destroyed a Federal building and the lives of 168 people in Oklahoma City? Why should we expect that someone like Hitler, Stalin, or Mao would restrain themselves instead of murdering up to 100 million of their fellow men? What’s the big ruckus about abortion on demand anyway, which has resulted in the deaths of upwards of 60 million unborn human beings in the United States alone since January 22nd, 1973. Hey, we’re all just acting out our natural instincts aren’t we, and besides, there really is no right or wrong. Truth is relative. We’re all dead in the long run. Fact is, some of us are dead in the short run, like maybe only five or six years worth as in the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School or less than nine months if you’re brutally ripped from your mother’s womb.

Fact is, as long as we cheapen human life by comparing ourselves to animals and slime, we are going to experience the cheapening of the value of human life. Today, in the minds of many, human life is worthless and some even insist that we need to cleanse the planet of most of the “parasites”, not meaning, of course, the ones who will do the “cleansing”. Of course! The ones who want others to die don’t want to be killed themselves. According to them, someone else has to die so that they can live.

Amazingly, someone else thought of that a long, long time ago, even before the world was created. The Bible tells us that God planned, predestined, and worked it out in history that Jesus Christ would die physically so that we, sinful human beings, could live spiritually. We live today because He died and was resurrected. We don’t live to ourselves, though, because as redeemed, born-again persons made in the Image of God, we have to live with each other peacefully. We restrain ourselves with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit in order to show and model the love that God has shown and modeled for us.

The further we remove ourselves from this model and this love, the more our society self-destructs. It can be seen everywhere across the entire world. If we want to get off the path of gratuitous, self-serving, mindless violence, death, and destruction that modern man seems to be hell-bent on racing down, we have got to come back to the Truth, that man is made in God’s Image, that there are consequences of our individual and collective evil actions, and that we must forsake and abandon them–before it’s too late for us.

God is, according to His Word, a fair judge and more than willing to give us time to change, but His patience does not last forever. Sooner or later, He will act on behalf of righteousness. It would be far better for us if we were to alter our course before that happens.

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Eating My Words

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In the post below, In the Wake of Massacre, I made certain predictions about what this country would not be facing as we move forward in our national grief. I must admit, with great pleasure, that I have been completely wrong about at least two of those–our insatiable appetite for violence and the heinous crime of abortion.

I said that we would probably not hear much about the pervasive and murderous violence in our society, especially that which emanates from Hollywood in the form of movies and TV shows, and video game producers. I also said that we would probably not discuss the violent horror known as abortion on demand in connection with the mindless violence of the Newtown shootings. I was wrong on both counts. In fact, from what I have seen on the Internet and (sparsely) on the broadcast news, these issues have been brought up and are being vigorously debated. This makes me quite happy about the future of our country.

I am not alone. Many others are thinking along the same lines. Like Elijah, I realize that there are others “out there somewhere” who hold to the same beliefs and convictions as I do and that God has not left me alone or without support. I will never know how many others of like-mind there are, it is enough to know that they are there and working for the same God and cause as I am. May His Will prevail!

This would be an appropriate time to quote Tiny Tim. “God bless us, every one!” And a very blessed Christmas to all of you.

P.S. I have included a link to an article, “Guns, Mental Illness, and Newtown”, in the Wall Street Journal which I recommend. Check it out. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323723104578185271857424036.html

In the Wake of Massacre

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In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT, where 27 people (20 of them between the ages of 5 and 10) were killed, there is one prominent question. Why? Why did this happen? It seems that no one has any answers except the same old tried and truly failed, but they are easy to find if you look in the right place.

It is certain that there will be an immediate increase in the clamor over incidents of this nature. President Obama has said that there will be “meaningful action”; presumably he meant tighter and more restrictive gun control. Many other leaders have also joined in, with the consensus seeming to be that we can’t avoid talking about it anymore, but have to come to grips with the issue.

There will also be a renewed focus on the “mental” condition of the people who commit these types of criminal acts. We will probably be subjected to scores of “experts” who will expound their favorite theories as to why someone acts this way and what we must do to serve as a counterbalance to their unsocial behavior.

My guess is that the “culprits” in this act of violent barbarity will be these two strawmen. They are convenient and many people will use the emotion of the moment to try to get what they want from the situation. Besides, if we can make these the scapegoats, then we have no real incentive to explore the deeper causes of violent behavior. Oh, yes, there are deeper causes and we must face them squarely.

First, I predict there will be very little discussion about violent and murderous video games, television shows, and movies to which young men are subjected to from the very beginning of their lives. We will not talk about how someone growing up with digital murder finally decides to try it out in real life to see how it feels or to vent a lifetime of built-up rage. After all, there is no proof that playing with matches ever causes someone to light a forest fire or burn a house down. Besides, we all like to indulge. Don’t we?

Second, there will be no connection between this shooting and the undisputed fact that every year millions upon millions of small, helpless children under the age of nine months are legally killed before they are born. Some will protest that these are two completely separate issues and that it is unfair to even try to pair them. Violence is as violence does, however, and a young man who hears about women regularly ripping their unborn children out of their wombs might very well think that he should be excused if he joined in the carnage.

Third, there will be absolutely no mention made about the way that our young men and women go overseas into small towns and cities and slaughter hundreds and thousands of innocents. Absolutely none! If there is one sacred cow which cannot be sacrificed on the altar of Exceptional Americanism in the name of maintaining our lifestyle and making some people fantastically rich, it is our military, the most powerful killing machine in the history of the world. Why is it perfectly acceptable to shoot, bomb, and incinerate millions upon millions of innocents abroad, yet be completely repelled and outraged when it happens here?

America has become a violent place. Violence permeates every seam, nook, and cranny of our culture. It is everywhere and there is virtually no escape from it. We watch it on TV or the movie screen, play games with it on X-Box, practice it during abortions, promote it with our political views, cheer and applaud our military or the men and women who perform on WWE,  and myriad other ways. We are America and we are violent. We love violence. We thrive on violence. We are to blame. We are all guilty. Our society is made up of individuals and a very large part of those individuals, a very large part indeed, are violent. It is time for us to admit that “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

What are solutions to prevent school shootings like this one? Longer prison terms for violent offenders? Tighter restrictions on gun ownership? Turning legitimate gun owners into pariahs and criminals? Blaming someone’s mental condition because he broke? Blaming society? These will probably be tried and will not work any better than they did in the past. What, then? I can think of three answers, one which will be rejected outright, one which is actually happening now behind the scenes, and one which must happen but will be resisted as long as possible. Respectively, they are:

This will go nowhere. Every school district in the country ought to purchase a high-powered, high-quality pistol for all of its teachers and administration, teach them how to use the firearms, and require them to be carried while on school property. They ought to issue body armor for all their personnel. Armed, trained, and ready educators could have easily shot this young man right at the start and eliminated virtually all of the heartache he caused. Instead they cowered in closets and under desks. It would have been so easy. It will not happen.

The one solution which has some legs would be for parents to realize that the government can’t protect their children any better than they can educate them. Parents should take the initiative in this and immediately pull their children out of these “indoctrination centers” and put the responsibility for the education of their children squarely where it belongs—on their own shoulders. There is serious movement in this direction.

What must be done is to admit as a nation that we have failed, that we have sinned before God Almighty, and that we need to make a change of direction away from the appalling nightmare we are in. We need to start, as a nation and society, to become outraged by violence, any kind of violence, and start demanding that perpetrators, whoever they might be, are severely punished. We need to start asking forgiveness from God and allow His Holy Spirit to begin working in our own hearts, our hearts first of all, and then those of the people around us. We need to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and that we must submit our murderous desires to His rule in every area of our lives. This, too, will not happen, at least on an official level, but it should. There is no better answer.

Newborn Babies, Hardened Hearts

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 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (NIV, Psalms 51:5)

 “Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. (Amplified, Psalms 51:5)

     Sin has a grip on us from the very beginning. We are born into this world as sinners. There is no getting around that. Anyone who tries to deny that has never been around a newborn baby.

     Babies are completely dependent on someone else for their health, sustenance, and welfare, but at the same time, they are also completely selfish. When they are hungry they demand to be fed and they don’t care how inconvenient or costly it might be to anyone else. When they need a diaper change, they proclaim it and demand attention. They are only concerned with their own needs, wants, and desires.

     This attitude changes as they grow older. As babies are trained, they begin to understand that they must overrule their own wants and desires for the good of someone else. Over time they progressively overcome the hold that selfishness has on their life and eventually, if they live long enough and wish to, they can become quite unselfish. This is a gradual process and all of us experience it to some degree or another,  but it is never fully completed while we are in this life. As long as we are alive, we will have to struggle against that selfish, sinful nature.

     The issue which must be resolved is not whether we were born that way, but what we do about it. Everyone has to confront this. It cannot be avoided, although people everywhere try and then make excuses to justify their behavior. “I was born that way.” “There is a gene which predisposes me to act in this way.” “The Devil made me do it.” I have heard these (and many more) with respect to alcoholism, homosexuality, and mental disorders, among others, but life is not fatalistic. Instead, we are supposed to exercise control over the way we think and to change the way we think when confronted with the truth. The simple truth is, however, that giving in to our “true nature” or “preconditions” is a sin in itself and is completely and totally repugnant and abhorrent to God. It is not the sin nature which is the culprit here so much as it is our stubborn, willful refusal to confess it as such and abandon it forever. We just do not want to.

     God is fair. “…God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons.” (Amplified, Acts 10:34) I will go even further. God does not show any partiality toward sin. Any sin is enough to keep us out of His presence, any sin at all and He does not care about the situation or circumstances which caused us to sin. It does not matter to God at all that we were born sinners. He expects and demands that we overcome our sin and become like He is, holy and righteous. “But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all (emphasis added) your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (Amplified Bible, 1 Peter 1:15, 16, Lev. 11:44)

     We are to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who lived in a state of holiness without sin, without ever allowing sin to rule him in any area of his life. This seems impossible to us, but the Bible clearly explains it this way and then directly orders us to strive toward that goal ourselves. We do not have the option of living sinfully, we are told to change. The problem is that, unlike Jesus who sought to be submitted to God in everything, there are many, many areas of our lives which we don’t want to let go of. We want to maintain control. We want to be our own masters. We want everyone else to satisfy our needs. We want, we want, we want…!!! We continue on like newborn babies, always screaming and crying because our needs and desires aren’t met and we never get beyond that nor reach the fullness and potential of the destiny that God wishes to give us.

     Unlike babies, however (who don’t know any better), we are fully and consciously aware that we are sinners and knowingly choose to act that way. A baby acts instinctively whenever it is hungry or needs a diaper changed. We are deliberate in our demands. “I know what I want and I want it now! Right now and I don’t care who has to suffer or be inconvenienced for it!! Just give it to me!!!” We scream when our “needs” aren’t met. We kick when we don’t get what we want. We stir up a fuss and ruckus in order to satisfy our selfish desire, but we do it out of a self-conscious and deliberate awareness that we are wrong and that God has declared our heart attitude and, therefore our actions, sinful.

     What is the answer to this problem? 1 Corinthians 10:13 explains it quite well. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

     There are at least four things here to touch on. 

          1. You are not unique. Your situation is nothing that someone else has not already experienced. Quit preening. Quit belly aching.

          2. Satan has nothing new. He has already exhausted his bag of tricks. Once you’ve seen it, you will recognize it when it hits you later. Furthermore, you will know what to do when you do see it again.

3. There is a way out of any temptation, but you must be willing to take it. If you are not willing, you will never escape its clutches and bonds.

4. If you are willing and truly want to overcome temptation, God is there to help you. He is faithful to keep His end of the deal, but you have to hold up your end. There is no other way.

Rights and Metamorphosis

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I am 54 years old. I grew up in a conservative, Republican family which shaped my values and thoughts during my early years. When I became old enough to think for myself, I started to shed many of those and adopt my own. I don’t think like I used to and, even today, find myself questioning some things which I used to hold dear.

I have always been a fervent supporter of the right of free speech, the right to own a gun, the right to assemble, the right to not associate with others I don’t want to, the right to live wherever I do want to, etc. Probably the vast, vast majority of people, especially conservative Republicans, would agree with that stance.  In fact, I became actively involved with the Libertarian Party during the 1980 presidential election and actually ran for State Representative two years later. This was directly related to my view that no one, including God, should be able to tell me what I could or could not do and I was more than willing to put my money (and time) where my mouth was.  I was my own man, my own master, and I lived that way for years.

In the early 1990’s, I surrendered my life initially to God, grudgingly and out of a position of utter desperation. I hated it and resisted the pull of the Holy Spirit until I couldn’t hold out any longer. Since that time, I have been slowly and gradually been giving over control to Him.

Eventually, there came a tipping point where I could not hold back any more and simply gave up trying to be my own boss. I had been moving in that direction for some time and was finding it easier and easier to submit to God’s will. The final shift happened quite recently, starting with the compound fracturing of my left leg in two places, just above the ankle. This immediately put me flat on my back for a number of weeks, at least three, during which I didn’t stand up at all except to go to the bathroom.

I can still remember (and will never forget) the moment that my resistance to God turned the corner for good. I was lying on the sofa with my leg propped up, contemplating my situation, considering my options, and just generally trying to make sense of where I was. I began to talk with God about this and was quite shocked at His immediate and forceful response. “I can break you any time I want, just like a dead stick.” Clear as a bell. His exact words. I am not making this up!

My immediate response was, “Whoa, I give up!” (not necessarily my exact words, but the meaning was clear), and there has never been any question about my life’s direction ever since. I know Who is Boss and even though I argue from time to time, in the end, I have to admit I’m wrong and need to change course.

What does all this have to do with a discussion of “rights”? Everything, it seems, because I have come to a realization that I have no rights at all. I only have what God gives me and when He takes it away, it does no good to fight about it. What has developed in its place, in my philosophical worldview, is the understanding that, while I don’t have any rights, I do have responsibilities which I am supposed to perform.

Rights, as we know them today in America, are really only limited freedoms which someone has decided to grant us. Freedom of press, freedom to own guns, freedom to marry, et al., are simply concepts which we may enjoy, but which can be taken away just as easily as they were granted. Don’t believe me? Think about anything, anything at all, which you hold close to your heart. Is it truly yours? Can it be taken out of your grasp? If it can, it is not yours at all, but belongs to someone else more powerful than you. Even your life is not your own, you will give it up in the end. Instead, everything that we view as “ours” is entrusted to us to use in a spirit of stewardship. This is not to be confused with ownership. We have no rights, we do have responsibilities. Ultimately, everything we have been given, every responsibility we have belongs to God and we have to answer to Him for the way we use them.

Where does this leave us on the issues of human rights, then? Should we even think about the “right” to keep and bear arms? Should we work to keep our freedoms and maintain our legal right? My answer is and always will be an unequivocal, “Yes, absolutely!” I have a responsibility before God to protect myself and my family from outside aggression. If that responsibility involves the use of guns, then I am obligated to act that way and wouldn’t even hesitate if it became necessary. No one, absolutely no one at all, has the lawful authority to tell me I can’t. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if there is ever a conflict between conforming to legislation which requires me to give up my gun and being faithful to my responsibility to protect my family, I will take the tack of the apostles–“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Furthermore, when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He didn’t even blink. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart AND love your neighbor as yourself.” If I have a responsibility to use firearms to protect my family, then so too does my neighbor and I have no authority to tell him that he can’t. Taken a little farther along, this means that I do not have the authority to elect a Congressman or President who will tell him for me. I can’t support any type of legislation that would restrict, regulate, or prohibit my neighbor’s ability to carry out his responsibility to God.

I am responsible to God alone for my life and actions. God is the one who calls the shots and the only option I have is to submit or refuse to cooperate. I will do what I can to resist the “gun grab” by the State and its minions and lackeys, but if the day comes when I am arrested, charged with a crime, prosecuted, convicted, and punished for refusing to abide by a man-made law which prohibits personal gun ownership, then so be it. I will accept that as God’s Will for me at that time and will make the most of it for His glory.

My rights do not concern me anymore.

Guns, Stuff, and Life

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      I have owned a lot of guns in my life, rifles, shotguns, pistols. I have fired an enormous amount of ammunition through those guns. I have carried weapons on my person defensively. I have studied gunsmithing and completed a correspondence course in it, for which I received a certificate. I like guns.

      Today, I have none. Not one. I do not own a single gun of any kind. It is possible that I may never again own or possess one. Why? What has changed?

     My wife has a different view towards guns.  She hates them. She has never owned a gun. As far as I know, she has never fired one.  When the kids were little and there was the possibility that one of them could be hurt, there was valid reason for not having one in the house. Today that isn’t relevant. They are grown and gone off into their own world. I could take the easy way out by saying it is because of her attitude, but I won’t.  There’s not a chance that I’m going to blame her because of the situation. It’s not her fault. If I did that, I would be admitting that she wears the pants, rules the roost, and tells me what I can have or not have, which is simply not true. She doesn’t do that. If I truly had an overwhelming passion to possess a gun, she might not like it and might express her view forcefully, but in the end would acquiesce to my desire. Shoot (no pun intended), the way our society is self-destructing, it is entirely possible that she might come to me one day and ask me to get a gun so that we had a means of protecting our home against violent offenders of our security and privacy.

      No, there are other reasons why I don’t have or own guns. The only one I’m interested in mentioning here is that God has stripped and is stripping away all my self-defense mechanisms. He is teaching me to trust Him completely for my safety and security. Guns aren’t the only thing being stripped away, but they are part of the process. The fact is that I have gone through a long, hard, sometimes torturous lifetime of relaxing my grip and allowing God to have full control of my being. I won’t say that my guns were given up when my cold, dead fingers were pried away from them, but I will say that my fingers were certainly pried off, one at a time, and it was a very painful experience.

      Most of my other possessions have been removed in the same way. Virtually everything I have ever “owned” has been taken away in one fashion or another, usually in the form of making bad decisions in the heat and emotion of the moment. Today, I live in a small log cabin (rented, not owned) which is adequate for my needs, but would be considered sub-standard by most other Americans. I have an F-150 (13 years old, still in reasonably good shape), a work trailer, the computer I am writing this article on, a few pieces of furniture, enough clothes to keep me covered and warm, some small hand tools, a very small bank account, a few other miscellaneous items, and a dog who lives with me, but isn’t really mine. Altogether, the value of everything (including the dog) probably wouldn’t be more than a few thousand dollars. This is the sum total of 54 years of accumulating possessions for myself.

      However, my needs are met. I have adequate food, wood stored up for the winter, good water available by simply opening a spigot. My income is not substantial, but the bills are paid each month. I am able to afford small luxuries like coffee at Starbucks whenever I want or to take Cindy out for dinner once in a while. I am able to give to others of my time and ability, sometimes money, on occasion.  These are things which could be taken away from me at any time, except that wherever I am and in whatever situation I find myself, I will always be able to give to someone else out of my time and ability, not necessarily money.

      In addition, I have spent my life learning, absorbing knowledge, and educating myself. I have an incredible amount of talent and natural ability, some of which has been developed to one degree or another. Some hasn’t been discovered yet. I have an enormous potential to affect and shape my world, much of which has been wasted by selfish, stubborn, stupid living. I have a great ability to beneficially affect the lives of the people I connect with, whether they are close or far away, whether I know them or not. These are things which cannot and will not be taken away from me until the day I die or become comatose.

      I also am learning what peace is. I am starting to understand love. Happiness is beginning to well up in my soul. My relationship with God is no longer being blocked by the things, material or otherwise, which I used to call mine. There are still times when I trip up and fall or have to hurdle some obstacle in my path, but these times and obstacles are becoming fewer, smaller, and farther apart. I believe that, finally, I am beginning to see the Light and am starting to understand what life is all about. My life, which is not mine, is being lived progressively less for myself and increasingly more for the glory of Jesus the Christ, whose Spirit lives within me and constantly and daily guides me toward the Truth. I can now stand with John Baptist who wrote 2000 years ago, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

      Would I trade what I have now for what I have lost? Ha! Not a chance! Not a chance!!

Orders are Orders! Obey or Else!

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Orders are orders! Anyone who has ever been in the military can attest to this statement. Military personnel are taught from the very beginning that an order is to be obeyed without question, without regard for personal safety or conscience. “Do as you are told, or else! Move, dammit!” When a person’s life is in danger, this may be a good avenue to follow. Certainly, soldiers in the army do learn to trust their superior officers and expect that they will do what is right and necessary to protect those under their command. It is also a fact that blatant, widespread disregard for orders would result in a breakdown in the chain of command, causing havoc throughout the entire system.

Sometimes, however, personnel do disobey or disregard orders for one reason or another. This usually results in a swift and serious inquiry into the matter, with those declared guilty punished severely. Court-martials of those charged with infractions are not for the faint of heart, with good reason. Order must be maintained and orders must be followed.

Is there ever a time or circumstance where an order may lawfully be disobeyed or disregarded? Theoretically this is possible, but in reality it hardly ever happens. Generally, we don’t hear about it. One time, however, it did and changed the life a of man and his family so dramatically they were never the same. Documentation of this can be seen in Acts 16: 16-34.

The Apostle Paul and his associate Silas had been thrown into a prison under lock and key. Prisons in those days were brutal places where many of the prisoners did not come out alive or, if they did, were severely physically and emotionally wounded. The guards in this case were probably Romans since Phillipi, the city where this happened, was a Roman colony. They were responsible to see that none of the prisoners escaped and kept guard at the potential cost of their lives. It was highly imperative that no prisoner under their watch, absolutely no one, ever got out except at the order of an official who had authority to grant freedom.

The keeper of the jail knew this. In fact, he knew this so well that when he found out the earthquake had broken the cells open and the prisoners were free, he didn’t wait for the “court martial” to pronounce judgment. He understood that he was a dead man and he drew his sword intending to make the realization into a fact. Immediate suicide by his own sword was preferable to a protracted inquiry and execution by someone else.

On finding out, however, that the prisoners had not escaped and that his life was not forfeit, he acted completely contrary to custom and to orders. He had been told, literally commanded by the magistrates, “keep them securely”, but verse 34 says that he brought them into his house, feeding them, and tending to their wounds. This cannot be seen as keeping them securely by any stretch of imagination. To say that he “kept them secure” by bringing them into his house is nothing more than trying to make the most of a bad argument. The fact is that he set them free. He gave them liberty against orders to keep them imprisoned. He deliberately disobeyed what his superiors had instructed him to do and acted in another manner altogether.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that he didn’t question his orders or try to rationalize his action to anyone. He simply acted. He knew that God was orchestrating the situation and that his duty was to a power far, far superior to the town magistrates. He knew what was right, knew what he had to do, and did it. Because of this, the Bible tells us that his entire family was saved and baptized. I will go so far as to say that because of his actions, the episode was written down and recorded as a remembrance and lesson for future generations.

History is full of accounts of men and women who stood up to authorities and defied their orders. There is a case of this mentioned earlier in Acts where the apostles had been commanded by the Jewish authorities not to speak about Jesus or to preach the gospel in His name. What was their response? They continued on regardless, boldly talking to anyone who would listen. They did not allow fear of retribution or punishment to stop them from doing what they knew they should. This resulted in their imprisonment which would have probably been followed by severe punishment, except that God miraculously released them.

Ultimately, the apostles were brought before the council during which the high priest asked them whether or not they had been told to refrain from their message. Immediately, they answered him with these words, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Basically, what Peter and the other apostles were saying was that even though the authorities ordered them to speak and act in a certain way, if it went against what God ordered them to say and do, they would disobey and disregard the orders of the authorities. No ifs, ands, or buts!

Is there ever a time when a person is to disobey a direct order from an authority above him? Can a member of the military ever refuse to carry out an order which he knows is contrary to the orders given to him by God? The answer is and must be an emphatic, unequivocal, unwavering “Yes, absolutely!” How far would the Nazis in Hitler’s Germany have gotten if the individual persons involved had refused to slaughter and incinerate their families, friends, and neighbors? Would the Comanches at Sand Creek have been massacred if Colonel Chivington’s soldiers had refused to fire repeatedly at point blank range into the defenseless tipis?

What does this mean for someone who is not a military man? What about those of us who are Christian and doing our best to live our lives in a godly manner? What if the Supreme Court decides that it is not legal anymore to protest or to speak out against abortions? What if we are prohibited from “preaching” against the homosexual lifestyle? What if we are told to spy on our neighbors and to turn them in if we think that they are doing something subversive, knowing that doing so means we probably will never see them again? What if…? What if…?

The question for us is something we need to answer in our own hearts and it is something which should be settled before any scenario like those above ever happens, if they happen at all which is not certain. Regardless, unless we know what our answer is and how we will respond, we will probably be caught in a state of fear, ambivalence, and non-action. We need to have it fixed in our own minds, souls, and spirits that when we have to make a decision between what man says and what God says, our answer is going to be the same as Peter’s—“We must obey God!”

As the social, political, and financial structures of the world deteriorate and fall apart, the conflict between man’s edicts and God’s Word grows more and more pronounced and visible. It is very possible that some of us will have to make a choice between following orders and acting in disobedience to God or following orders and defying man’s authority. We may come to the point where obeying God means the loss of everything we hold dear, up to and including our lives. This is not new, however, because many of the apostles, including Paul, were murdered because they simply would not be quiet and accept the status quo. Would we have that much courage? It’s something we should think about. The times, they are a-changing, and we may have the opportunity to find out.

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