Devil’s Advocate

I try to be an equal opportunity devil’s advocate. Let me know where I fail.

Reflections on religious studies.

To people who don’t want anyone to challenge their Christianity:

Having people ask questions should cause you to seek answers and thereby strengthen your faith. Are you not supposed to be always ready to give an answer as to why you believe (I Peter 3:15)? No reasonable person should expect you to have all the answers but when you keep seeking answers, you can live your life with what you do understand, accept the rest, and answer better next time.


To the Christians who do not want to try to convert others:

Are you not commanded to tell the Gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20)? Some Christians have created a bad taste in the mouths of the world by being aggressive, overbearing… domineering. Doesn’t Jesus’ example tell you to see others with love, compassion, and with the desire for them know the truth? If you or your message is not received, shut up and leave it alone (my paraphrase of Matthew 10:14). It is not your job to hound them. Maybe God will send them someone else.


To the atheist and the Satanist:

Where does your morality come from? The Satanist says, “and do no harm.” I have heard this phrase from Wiccans too. Why not harm anyone? If there is no higher power, why shouldn’t we just do whatever it takes to get what we want despite stepping on the backs of others to get it, other than the actions being illegal. I have heard atheists say that banding together for the common good was a survival mechanism. This banding together may have helped us fight against predators and to hunt food, but in the main, it helped us develop an us versus them mentality. It made us stronger to fight against other humans in competition for territory and food. If there is no higher power to fear, then the only thing to fear, (besides fear itself,) is other people. Might makes right. The same survival mechanism that brought us together was the catalyst for bigger wars.


Another general point:

Our worldview must make philosophical sense. For example, If I believe that Christianity is true, then Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Taoism cannot be true. They cannot all be true. One truth for me and another truth for you is illogical and philosophically unsound. We would never accept this sort of reasoning in politics, business, or science. When we say that something is true for you but not for me, we are really saying something else.


Truth is not very important so it’s okay if people believe a falsehood.

This leads down some rocky roads because this worldview does not affect only religion; it bleeds over into what we expect of government, personal relationships, and other areas.


We don’t care enough about others to discourse on truth.

For those of us who profess Christianity, numbers two and three are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. We should care about all people, even those who mock us for our faith.


We aren’t sure in our own minds that what we believe is true.

When questions come up that we can’t answer, It’s time to study to show ourselves approved 2 Timothy 2:15.



Please respond. Do you disagree? Is my logic sound? Let me know. I’m asking for it.

I can understand voting for Donald Trump

I voted sticker

We may be less inclined than usual to wear the proud sticker this November

I can understand voting for Donald Trump… if you are xenophobic. The world can be a scary place. You might go to watch a friend’s child in a play in Knoxville, and a man with a shotgun might come in and start shooting. It happens. OR, you might be dropping off your child at daycare in the federal building where you work in Oklahoma City and a truck bomb goes off, creating a crater thirty feet wide and eight feet deep, an earthquake that registered a 3.0 on the Richter scale, and could be heard and felt fifty-five miles away. It happens. OR you might have to work for the IRS in Austin and a suicide pilot flies into your building. It happens. Maybe Mr. Trump can stop these things from happening. After all, he wants to close our borders. But wait… these incidents, and there are others, were perpetrated by white natural born citizens of the United States so that would not have helped.


I can understand voting for Donald Trump… if you are so angry with American politics that absolutely anything will be better than what we have now. It couldn’t possibly get any worse. You may think that at least he will do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong.

I can understand voting for Donald Trump if ethics, integrity, thoughtfulness, and consistency are not important to you or if you disagree with the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal and have certain unalienable rights.


I expect my President to be qualified for the office, to understand the Constitution, to possess true leadership ability (a tyrant is not a leader), and not to be vulgar, offensive, or coarse. I expect my President to understand that people on both sides of an issue can have legitimate reasons for thinking as they do and be able to develop ways to bring them together.

Voting for Donald Trump

I cannot understand a parent voting for Donald Trump.

Is this a man we want our children to emulate?

A President is an example to our children whether we intend it or not. How can we teach them that it is wrong to belittle, bully, and trash others when he is doing it? What is a President Trump going to contribute to the moral fiber of our society? It hasn’t been so long ago that we were pounding President Bill Clinton for having an extra-marital affair. What has happened to us that we are now willing to put a man in office that is more concerned with the size of his hands than with the practicability of his policies. Christian women, how would you feel if your husband spoke to you or about you the way this man speaks to and about women?



I cannot understand a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ voting for Donald Trump.

picture of Donald Trump


Blessed [favored by God] are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.


Does Jesus’ teaching mean nothing to us? Does it no longer hold any sway over our behavior? I’m not talking about the behavior of the general population; I’m talking about the behavior of the people who are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world. Where in the Bible does it say that if our opposition is pressing in, that we may ignore what Jesus says and do what it takes to get our way?

loose cannon – n – a person who cannot be controlled and who does or says things that cause problems, embarrassment, etc., for others: a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing


Donald Trump is a loose cannon. We don’t really know what he will do when he gets into office. When the proverbial stuff hits the fan, it will settle and certainly run downhill. If the world is lucky, the citizens of the United States will be the only ones affected, and it will be our fault. It won’t be Mr. Trump’s. He’s just being who he is. We can’t blame the dog for killing the chickens when we let him into the hen house.

We are not being who we are, God’s people, purchased at a great price to be His representatives on earth, set apart as different because of our love and compassion for the world. We are being something ugly and fearful.

It will be ALL. OUR. FAULT.



Do character, kindness, and morality still matter? This article by Randy Alcorn is long. Count the paragraphs as you scroll down and start at number 12. Imagine having a guest for dinner with your family…


RFRA is not Christian versus Gay

RFRAThe Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is not Christian versus Gay. I have said before that regardless of anyone’s feelings the morality of gay marriage, I feel that it would be unconstitutional to deny the LGBT population that right. However, matters of conscience can be tricky things and should not be ignored. For my own (and hopefully your) edification, I would like to give a brief history of the law and discuss Christian reactions to it that have come across my Facebook feed.

The original RFRA was passed in 1993 by Congress, unanimously in the house and 97-3 in the Senate. It states, “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” So even if a law was not intentionally a burden to the free practice of religion, it could still be a burden and thus would be illegal. The exception to the rule would be if it were unavoidable for the furthering of a compelling government interest. Compelling government interests are things that refer to public good, law and order, and constitutionality. A friend of mine explained it to me like this.

The upshot is that if the government unduly interferes in the religious practice of a person (the law above was passed in response to the Employment Division v Smith, in which a couple of Native American men were denied employment based on their use of peyote in long-standing religious rituals) that person or those persons have the right to sue for damages. It makes an exception for government “interests” or activities that we expect the government to enforce or uphold, regardless of religious beliefs.

There was an instance in which a Muslim man in prison wasn’t permitted to wear a beard, although his religion required him to have a beard at least half an inch long. There were exceptions for medical reasons but not for religious reasons. In that instance, because it didn’t interfere with the compelling interest of the government, which was to keep him in prison for the duration of his sentence, it was considered a violation of RFRA. If he had argued that he should be released so that he could make a pilgrimage to Mecca, that would have been ignored as it went counter to the government’s compelling interest to keep him incarcerated for the duration of his sentence.

This applied only to violations by the Federal government. Thirty-one states now have RFRA protections either by legislation or by state court decisions. From the Washing Post blog of April 1:

“These state RFRAs were enacted in response to Supreme Court decisions that had nothing to do with gay rights or same-sex marriage,” explained University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock in an e-mail. “And the state court decisions interpreting their state constitutions arose in all sorts of contexts, mostly far removed from gay rights or same-sex marriage. There were cases about Amish buggies, hunting moose for native Alaskan funeral rituals, an attempt to take a church building by eminent domain, landmark laws that prohibited churches from modifying their buildings – all sorts of diverse conflicts between religious practice and pervasive regulation.”

Why is there such an uproar about Indiana? Indiana, unlike most other states, allowed any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion,” and any individual could assert a violation whether or not any government entity was a party to the proceeding. This was seen as a license to refuse service to members of the LGBT. community. There has been such a backlash against Indiana and their law that they hastily passed an amendment. In Mike Pence’s own words on April 2:

Hoosiers deserve to know, that even with this legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enhances protections for every church, non-profit religious organization or society, religious school, rabbi, priest, preacher, minister or pastor in the review of government action where their religious liberty is infringed. The law also enhances protection in religious liberty cases for groups of individuals and businesses in conscience decisions that do not involve provision of goods and services, employment and housing.


Crisis in Conscience

Comments on a Facebook Christian page showed that these Christians had no problem with serving gay customers in a store or selling them a birthday cake. But they feel that coercing them to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, however, is forcing them to participate in an event which they believe to be wrong. Serving gays in general is not the problem but the specific event. One person said,

I have asked a gay friend, “What if gay bakers were asked to make cupcakes for an anti-gay marriage rally? Should they be compelled to serve that event?” When the shoe is on the other foot it makes sense to them (sometimes). My friend replied that the gay bakers should in fact “comply,” but it I think it gave him some good perspective. They would obviously be serving an event they disagree with, and I wouldn’t want them to be compelled to do such a thing. Honestly, i can’t even believe we have to ask these questions; it seems so obvious to me that one should not have to burden one’s conscience that way, especially when there are alternative providers willing to serve such an event.

Randall Smith wrote a good post commenting that there is a difference between having to tolerate things with which you disagree; it is another entirely to force someone to participate in those things. This can create a crisis in conscience.

Another person pointed out a potential hypocrisy wondering how many Christian businesses refuse to serve bachelor parties or baby showers for unwed cohabitants. On another page, a Christian commenter took this one step further and said that because no one refused to serve these events, to refuse to serve a gay wedding was blatant and purposeful discrimination. Some expressed reservations about giving special powers of refusal to certain jobs or vocations: pastor vs wedding planner. Some took the capitalistic approach.

I’m of the opinion that businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone they please for any reason they like.
“Are those the new Jordans?”
“No soup for you!”
Can’t believe is even a debate.
If you think the business owner’s a bigot… don’t hire them.

I would like everyone to understand that while there are undoubtedly some Christians who are bigots and discriminatory, that is not the norm. Many of the comments talked about how to go about acting in love without compromising the conscience. We have differences of opinion but can discuss them with civility. People have different experiences and histories that affect their consciences and how they think about political and cultural issues. Our country should maintain the right of every citizen to act or not act, on matters of conscience. RFRA isn’t just for Christians.

I had copied the legal summary of the RFRA law onto my FB status and asked, “What does this mean exactly?” I got the following comment.

This law allows idiot, ill-informed, bigoted Religion and Faith Needers to exercise their right to be just that without any hope of litigation and or restitution. It allows discriminatory practices, legal snow-blowing as well as Character Assassination if it fits within the religious framework of the defendant. It’s a right to be insane without any actual consequences. It’s the first step in a violation of Church and State Separation, and I told you it was coming. It’s like Med-Fair, only the idiots here who dress up are supposed to be taken seriously when it comes to your rights as an American Citizen and not a citizen of a Theocracy. It’s Nazi and It’s Christian in its inception. Welcome to the world that Faith (STUPIDITY) can provide.

“Religious” people do not have a monopoly on hate and vitriol.


Satisfy My Thirsty Soul

September 5, 2012

 Dear Barbara,

One of my assignments in the assignments in the Satisfy My Thirsty Soul Bible study is to write a letter to a friend describing what God has taught me about worship.

I don’t know about worship, but I have learned that I am not a restful soul. Wheneverpicture of book cover I sit down for my quiet time, I always think of other things I should be doing. The obvious thing is that they are NOT what I should be doing at all. I should be composing my mind to worship and to hear what God has to say. When I keep my grandson, I think of what I could be doing on the family business. When all is quiet, I read a fiction book and don’t work on the business at all. I do not sit still long enough (even though my body is actually still, my mind isn’t) for God to tell me what He wants me to do that day. I keep saying I should set aside an hour every morning and spend the entire hour in God’s presence so that my quiet time/Bible study is not just something to cross off my To-Do list. I have been trying to do this for two years!

What I really liked about this book are the chapter names in part two.

I bow my life.I bow my words.I bow my attitude.I bow my work. (My work is my mom, my grandson, and our business, in that order. My husband takes care of himself.)

Laborare est orareOrare est laborare(This is a fine point that almost everyone misses.)

I bow my times of waiting.I bow my pain.I bow my will.Drawn into His presence


All of the above, both the positive and the negative, belong to God.

It has been a good study even though I have not been able to incorporate it all into my life. It is supposed to be a 12-week study but I cannot apply that fast.

Have I actually learned anything? Can’t tell it by me.



**note–It has been almost two and a half years. I have set aside that hour every day and I sit for it. Still working on the composing of the mind though. I am slow at application. I should go through it again.

Does anyone else have this problem?

The book is Satisfy My Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow, published by NavPress 2007.

The many ways of not fitting in

three blue birds together with one red bird to the side

image by Sean Lynn

I met a woman last night. I will call her Elena. She and her husband had been married for 44 years when he left her. He told her that he never should have married her and that marriage and children were just a facade so that he could rise in business and society. He had to do it because in 1967, if you wanted to get anywhere, you didn’t come out of the closet. For 44 years she had been nothing but a facade. Her grown children have abandoned her because they blame her for his leaving, evidently not believing what she says he told her when he left.

There are so many ways of not fitting in. Elena cried. She had been through a divorce recovery program, she volunteers and keeps busy but is still so alone. She told us that a person can be around lots of other people and still be alone. She wants to find a church where she will fit in. People have said horrible things to her because she is divorced. She has been a Christian all of her adult life and can find nowhere to fit. She wanted our prayers that she would find a place.

We had some conversation and then our leader said, “We hope you will come back to join us.”

We watched a video and the leader closed with prayer. Right at the “amen,” Elena jumped up and left quickly. I followed after her calling her name out in the hall.

“Will you come back?” I asked.

“No, I will not be back. Thank you, but I will not be back.” She hadn’t even stopped walking to answer; she was out the door before I could take a breath.

I think too slowly. I let her go. Should I have followed up? Should I have chased her down to say, I care. Talk to me? What did we say wrong? What did we do? Was it the video? Whatever it was, it was repelling. She couldn’t wait to get out.

There are so many ways of not fitting in. When I was a teenager, I went to church all the time but was not totally accepted because at school, I ran around with non-Christian wild kids. Those non-Christian wild kids thought of me as the prude, the virgin, the religious one but they accepted me for what I was and I enjoyed those years immensely. I was never quite as comfortable with the church crowd. I didn’t really fit in either place.

My grandmother always told me, “You are judged by the company you keep.”

“Well, you shouldn’t be!” I would yell back at her in my head, (never out loud.)

There are so many ways of not fitting in. How many Christians do not attend church because churches are filled with husbands, wives, children, and they do not wish to attend alone or they fear that they will be judged because their family does not come?

There are so many ways not to fit. How do we react when someone at church or Bible study expresses a view that does not fit with the mainline view, religious or political,  of the group? Here is one person who has had a good experience,, but I know many who haven’t.

There are those that deny God, Christ, and religion of any sort and no amount of goodness, inner beauty, peace, or love will change their view. Regardless, Christians are the face of Christ on earth. What others see in us should be attractive, not repelling.

Elena, we failed you, but wherever you are and wherever you go next, I will be praying for you and I am so sorry.


*For something else to consider, see this anonymous post regarding church, by a young adult with Aspergers.