Monday, August 18, 2014

My Philosophy on (Romantic) Relationships

There are many formulas and rules set up nowadays for the forming of new relationships, whether one is part of the dating or the courting culture. But the lists of endless rules and man-made notions seem to be mainly based on man's interpretation of what is best, rather than looking to the Scripture. 

Yes, it is true that there are social guidelines which one would do well to follow as well - for instance, make sure you are polite and have good manners - but these are not things which should be required by a third party, nor should they be treated as if they are on par with God's Word.

We see from the Bible several obvious principles regarding romance:
  • Marry whomever you wish, (Num 36:6, 1 Cor 7:39) except,
  • Don't marry a non-Christian.(2 Cor 6:14)
  • It's more than okay to remain single.(1 Cor 7:8, 25-28, 37-40)
  • Follow God's rules for remaining pure. (1 Cor 7:1)
AAAANNND, despite what many Christians believe, that's about all we have specifically related to getting married.  Obviously, there are some other texts instructing husbands and wives on how to interact, but the scope of this post is the pre-marital stage.

Of course, there are countless other passages in Scripture which indirectly relate to the formation of any relationship, including one with a future spouse.  There are hundreds of verses and concepts which could be addressed here, such as:
  • Honesty, 
  • edifying communication, 
  • keeping God first in one's life,
  • praying without ceasing,
  • being long-suffering, 
  • forgiving others...etc, etc.
...the list is endless, but a Christian ought to be quite familiar with these concepts, and I don't think I need to try to list them.  These are verses that every Christian ought to follow all the time, not just when involved in a romantic-type relationship.

Then, there are common-sense guidelines which ought to be obvious (whether stated or not) to most people.  For instance:
  • Marry someone you want to spend the rest of your life with, 
  • be accountable to others, 
  • accept advice, 
  • don't continue the relationship if you know you won't marry this person, 
  • seek counsel, 
  • make sure you know this person inside and out before you commit to marrying them,
...and so on.  In other words, don't be stupid.  God gave you a brain, He gave you His Word, He gives us common sense.  We don't need to be walking around helplessly confused just because another human hasn't provided us with a hard-and-fast list of exactly what every element of your relationship process ought to look like.

Finally, it is worthwhile noting that the two (adults!) involved in this relationship should be the ones calling the shots about what their romance actually looks like.  If they want to spend most of their time together in the presence of their families and they call this "courtship", that's fine.  If they desire to be able to go out together interact one-on-one on "dates", that's okay too.  How, when, where, and who they communicate with is up to them. 

In other words: There are principles, which are set forth and enforced by God.  Then there are practical and common sense issues, which have their own natural consequences.  Finally, there is the matter of preference, which can be decided by the couple.  Note that none of these require the presence of a third-party human authority.

Every person is different.  They have different intellects, different ideas of what is humorous, different passions, different families, different backgrounds, different levels of sanctification, different dreams for the future, different ages, different locations, different ways of communicating, different hobbies, different resources... you get the picture.  To try to make a one-size-fits-all formula for how to find the "right one" is laughably ridiculous. 

Many teachers nowadays assert that there must be another earthly human involved making sure that the two involved in the relationship are following all the rules, whether they be God's rules or man's rules.  They do their best to assure us that this will cause the least amount of pain, and that this is God's best plan.  But is it, really?

If a couple violates God's rules or acts stupidly, they will be answerable to the Lord about that, and will likely have earthly consequences to their foolishness or outright disobedience.  To make them answerable to man, however, (even if it gives us a feeling of security because we can see mankind) is to usurp God's position.  God will not demand from us an account of other people's actions, but merely our own.  To make ourselves accountable for others messes up this principle big time, and is not excusable.

Furthermore, every person on earth is going to have a slightly different notion of what is best in a specific situation.  To place a fellow human (who will not be affected by his decisions in a position of power) over two people, (whose entire lives will be affected) assuming that they cannot be responsible before God by themselves, is not wise or logical.  Furthermore, even if this authority figure has identical beliefs as the two in the relationship regarding all possible worldview issues, this does not factor in personality differences and such.  Some issues which are vitally important to said authority figure might be regarded as trivial by the others, and endless discussions regarding this matter might result in vexation and frustration.

If two people are so unable to handle themselves that they require the physical presence and restraint of a human authority to make all their decisions with or for them, then they probably ought to wait several years until they are more mature and able to handle such a relationship.  Shockingly enough, they will not have the "luxury" of a third party telling them what to do after they get married, and they need to know that they can make wise and Godly choices before they enter into a lifelong commitment.

Man has a tendency to want to shield himself and others from any possible unpleasantness by setting up man-made governments and authorities.  Whether it be in politics, in churches, or in the family, the result is the same - a crippled authority structure ends up trying to fill God's role, and those under that person's authority find themselves smothered and unable to follow God's leading in their lives.  While there are certainly proper rules for government in the state, in churches, and in families, this government needs to be limited to its proper jurisdiction, rather than trying to usurp the throne of God.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I Want To, But Cannot, Vote For Ben Carson

 Just the other day I saw an article announcing that, though he cautioned his supporters not to be too optimistic, Ben Carson is forming a political action committee and may run for president come 2016. Given the amount of attention he received after his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, and then again after his speech at CPAC, this really isn't terribly surprising.

About two years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, "Why I Will Not Vote Romney".  That was an easy post to write in many ways, given that I did not like Romney at all.  He obviously had no backbone, his integrity was lacking in every way I could see, and he was generally distasteful to anyone who loves liberty or freedom or America or principle or honesty or... you get the picture.

Writing about why I cannot vote for Ben Carson (should he run) isn't so easy.  I would love to have Mr. Carson as a neighbor, friend, or doctor.  I've seen the movie "Gifted Hands" which details much of his life thus far, and having the story climax even beyond neurosurgeon to that of President of the United State would be absolutely epic.

Furthermore, I've read Ben Carson's book, America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great, and I agree with a good amount of the common sense presented therein.  So far as I can tell, Carson is an honest man, a man of integrity, and one who I would trust to do his best job in in any situation.  He has character suitable for leadership.  Unfortunately, he does not (thus far) have a thorough enough understanding of what Constitutional government looks like, and this is why I cannot at this present time support any political venture he makes.

Firstly, his view on the 2nd Amendment is sadly lacking.  He stating when speaking to Glenn Beck that location should help to determine whether or not people should have access to firearms, that guns (semi-automatics were specified) should be limited in urban areas.  Obviously, this does not show either a proper respect for or understanding of the amendment.  Our right to bear arms is not allowed to be prohibited by government, and the ability to own weapons does not encourage, but prohibits crime.

If he personally felt that it would be foolish for himself to own a semi-automatic in a busy neighborhood and decided against it, that would be more than okay.  Should he caution his family and friends, informing them about the perceived danger of such a thing, that would also be more than okay.  But once one takes such opinions and perspectives into the realm of legislation, imposing them on others, that opinion is not at all okay.

Furthermore, while he has a lot of common-sense opinions on how governmental-aid programs ought to be restructured in a more practical manner, he fails to realize that they are not allowed in a Constitutional government.  For instance, in his book America the Beautiful he states:
"Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and our food stamp program, among others, are all socialist-leaning programs that help provide our nation with a social safety net.  Their growth, however, must be controlled, and self-sufficiency must be the goal of our society.  The masses should not depend solely upon these social programs; instead, they should be encouraged early in life to make provisions for themselves and their families well into the future."
But it is not the job of the civil servant to make sure that Grandma saves her retirement money wisely, or that Johnny has health insurance, or that Susy can buy food.  This ought to be the job of private charitable institutions, of churches, of individual persons, and of any other willing organization.  Government does not uphold society; government keeps the harmony by acting on behalf of an injured party as well as making sure the citizens are defended from other countries which would do it harm.

Should Ben Carson begin a charitable institution with the guidelines and common sense he has written about, I am sure it would be quite successful.  Actually, he does already help fund academic excellence with the Carson Scholars Fund, and I'm sure that that is set up in a very practical and truly beneficial way.

In fact, his scholars fund demonstrates just what I am talking about. I personally have huge qualms about public education, and I would not at all wish to see my tax dollars funding students in those schools.  I'd much rather find some way to make all schools become community schools (funded by those who benefit from them, run by those in the community, and in no way connected to the government) or home schools.

However, if Dr. Carson chooses to set up his own private organization to help those in public schools, good for him!  How he spends him money is up to him, and the fact that he is doing so to help others is commendable.... so long as it remains a private institution, funded by voluntary contributions rather than taxes (which obviously aren't voluntary contributions).

Should Dr. Carson come to a better realization of what the role and functions of government are, and should he, like Ron Paul, advocate common sense AND a Constitutional government, I would be more than thrilled to throw my full support behind him.  As it is, despite the fact that he has much common sense, he does not understand what equitable legislation is; his application of common sense is flawed, and it will not truly benefit America.

I'm really tempted to send him a copy of Bastiat's book, The Law...