Category Archives: Christian life

The Cost of Lax Upbringing

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I’ve been re-reading the Old Testament accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah. That history can be summarized as a long series of kings who “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord,” punctuated by occasional kings who obeyed God’s commands to some degree. The best example of the latter was King Josiah, who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.”

Since Josiah was only eight years old when he succeeded to the throne, it seems likely that his upbringing by Jedidah, his mother, led to his righteous rule (his father being another of a long line of notorious idolaters). Josiah went further than any of the previous kings of Judah or Israel to cleanse his kingdom of the idolatry, cultic prostitution, and human sacrifice instituted by previous rulers and to reestablish right worship of the one true God.

What struck me the most about this history is the way the dynasty bounced back and forth between evil and good kings, all in the same family line. How could a good king arise from a long line of evil ancestors? Conversely, how could an evil king arise from a father renowned for devotion to God? The latter started with Solomon, the son of David; and continued even with the son of Josiah himself, who was fully aware of this history.

The only explanation I can come up with is that the fathers abdicated their responsibility of supervising the raising of their children, leaving the task entirely to the mothers of their sons (not necessarily their queens, since most if not all of the kings had multiple wives), or some third party. As the mothers’ principles were passed on to the sons, so those principles were revealed in the behavior of those sons when they succeeded to the throne.

While Christian parents of our time are not necessarily trying to raise rulers, we are responsible for raising Christian ladies and gentlemen for the next generation. The history of the kings of Israel and Judah provides an example of the consequences of neglecting our responsibility. Parents need to agree between themselves what principles they want to impart to their children, then both cooperate to pass on those principles. Without this, it is possible for Godly parents to raise heartbreakingly evil offspring.

 

Evangelical Environmentalists are Wrong

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A group called the Evangelical Environmental Network hit the news recently when they came out strongly against reforming the Endangered Species Act. Positioning themselves opposite the “Christian right,” they plan to spend $1 million on advertising their views.

According to a recent AP story, their view is that man poses as great a danger to the various occupants of the earth as did the Flood in Noah’s time. God’s protection of creation from the Flood took the form of the ark built by Noah. The Evangelical Environmentalists believe that protection from man’s depredations comes in the form of the Endangered Species Act. Thus, they regard attempts to reform the Act as “Congress and special interests … trying to sink the Noah’s Ark of our day…”

There are some real problems with this view. First, the threat to life on earth is exaggerated. The Flood had the potential to extinguish all human and animal life on the earth. Noah’s ark really did save the animal kingdom from annihilation. After all, it was God, with the absolute power of creation and destruction in His hands, who brought on the Flood. Man’s “flood of pollution and habitat destruction,” on the other hand, has at the most a relatively subtle effect on the earth’s life forms. According to the fossil record, extinction of plant and animal species has been going on since the beginning of time. There is no reason to expect that man can or should try to stop it now.

The Evangelical Environmentalists urge conservative Christians to “re-examine what they said were the Bible’s teachings on the environment.” Presumably they are referring to God’s instructions to man to “go forth and multiply” and to “subdue the earth.” Environmentalists have ridiculed these Biblical teachings since the beginning of their movement. I remember that it was a big joke in environmental circles when I was at Purdue in the mid-1970s. What is new is to hear “conservative” Christians talking about “re-evaluating” Scripture.

No Christians that I know of have ever advocated subduing the earth by wanton destruction of the natural world. Christians have traditionally interpreted these passages as saying that God created the earth and its various species for man’s benefit. These gifts of God ought to be respected as such, and used wisely for the greater glory of God, and for the benefit of our fellow humans. They should not be set up on a pedestal as sacred and an end in themselves.

The Evangelical Environmentalists are ignoring the very real violations of God’s law that the Endangered Species Act has brought about. Every opponent of the Act cites primarily its attack on private property rights. “Takings” of property or of the right to use one’s property are the primary weapon that the Act puts in the hands of environmentalists. The right to own property is granted by God to each of us, and placed under His protection in the Seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not steal,” and in the Ninth and Tenth Commandments prohibiting coveting. Property rights are rendered null and void when an owner is not permitted to use his property.

Any Christian who gets on the Endangered Species Act bandwagon will find himself in some strange company. The hard-core supporters of this Act are notorious for their low regard for humanity, and for their “end justifies the means” approach. Typical of their attitude toward human life is this comment from David M. Graber of the National Park Service: a particular species or a free-flowing river is of “more value — to me — than another human body, or a billion of them…Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

As for what they are willing to do to accomplish their ends, consider the spotted owl controversy. Andy Stahl of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund bragged in 1988 that the spotted owl was merely a pawn in the bigger game: “The northern spotted owl is the wildlife species of choice to act as a surrogate for old growth protection, and I’ve often thought that thank goodness the spotted owl evolved in the northwest, or we would have had to genetically engineer it.” Truth is of no consequence to these people. Christians have no business allying themselves with them.