Tag Archives: marriage

DAVOS, BYZANTIUM AND RUSSIA

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“Median income today is lower than it was a quarter century ago,” according to economist Joseph Stiglitz, interviewed by CNN’s Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.   The two men were discussing the charity Oxfam’s statement this week that said the top 1% now have as much wealth as all the rest of us put together. According to Mr. Stiglitz, this is due to government policies in the US and other western nations in the last 25 years.   His prediction for the coming year was quite gloomy.

John Defterios, CNN Emerging Markets Editor, reminded people that the global economy has 7-8 year “cycles.”  Whereas many are saying we just came out of a cycle following the 2008 collapse, we are in fact ending one cycle and moving into another.

The 7-year cycle will be a familiar concept to any Bible scholars who understand the Old Testament financial cycle, based around the seven-year land Sabbath.  Debt, both governmental and private, is now at an all time high and threatens the global economy, which is nothing more than a house of cards.   Increasingly needed is a biblical Jubilee Year, where all debts are cancelled and we start over.  God’s plan was for a Jubilee Year every fifty years, after seven land Sabbaths had been completed.

Leviticus, chapter 25, explains this financial plan.  The instruction was that all debts be cancelled and that people return to their ancestral land and start again.  We no longer live in an agricultural economy, but the principle can be applied.   The vast majority of people worldwide are now in debt to one degree or another, while the 1% gets richer and richer.  Eventually, there will be an explosion with revolutions everywhere, unless something is done to cancel the debt.

Don’t hold your breath — governments and banks are not likely to let that happen.   Until they have to, that is!

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Meanwhile, I found Leonardo DiCaprio’s statement that “oil should stay in the ground” rather intriguing.  If conservationists get their way, how will he fly his personal plane?  He may have money to burn but it’s not a good jet fuel!

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I’m finishing The End of Byzantium, the book by Jonathan Harris I mentioned in a previous post.   Constantinople, the capital of what had been the greatest power in Christendom, fell to the Muslim Turks in May, 1453.  The fall sent shock waves throughout Europe.  The next 250 years was to be dominated by the threat from the Ottoman Empire, which did not completely end until the collapse of the empire less than a century ago.   This was the last caliphate.

There are lessons to be learned from Byzantium.

There was great division at the top among the various leaders.   We have this today with the presidential candidates, each one looking for his or her own advantage, regardless of what damage may be done to the country.  That was the same in Byzantium amongst the ruling class.

Secondly, some of the wealthy elite did well from their connections with the Turks, mostly in trade, but also donations to co-operate with the Turks.  Reading this, I was mindful of the Clinton Foundation receiving donations from Middle Eastern leaders, a conflict of interest for sure.

Thirdly, Byzantium was weakened financially, losing its trading advantage to other nations.   The Republics of Venice and Genoa had become the banking centers by the time of the fall of Constaninople.

A fourth point of great interest was that once the capital fell, it wasn’t long before the rest followed.   Could this happen in the US?  Of course it could.  If terrorists could deliver crushing blows to both Washington DC (the political capital) and New York City (the financial capital), the rest of the country would follow.

I should add that although I would have preferred life under the Byzantine Emperor to life under the Ottoman Sultan, the former was hardly Christian and thoroughly deserved its fate.  That’s another lesson for us today – the West deserves its fate, which it has brought upon itself.

A further lesson from Byzantium is the truth of Daniel 2:21, that God is behind the rise and fall of nations.  “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings.”  In this case, Constantine XI, the last Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, was overthrown by Mehmed II, the Sultan at the head of the Ottoman Empire.

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Talking of Washington DC, the news yesterday was dominated by the threat of a severe snow-storm bringing the city to its knees.  It still hasn’t started, at 10am Friday morning, but could come any time.  MSNBC stated that, every time there’s a severe snow-storm: “230,000 federal government workers sit idle.”

Since when did this have anything to do with snow???

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Back to Turkey and the Middle East.  Up to this point, Islamic terrorism has been perpetrated by Sunni Muslims.  With the end of sanctions on Iran and the release of hundreds of millions of dollars being held by western banks, Iran could also be in the terrorist business.  Shia Islam could be an even bigger threat than Sunni.

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Still in the Middle East, more German Jews are moving to Israel as a result of increased anti-semitism in Germany.   Headlines can be misleading.  The anti-semitism does not come from German Germans, but from Muslim immigrants.  But it still makes life in Germany worrying and unpleasant.

The influx of migrants has affected many European countries.  Sweden is now being called the “rape capital of the world.”  Swedish women have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped.   Reports say that gangs of young Middle Eastern men grope, sexually assault, and rape women.   Where are the women and children we were being shown on nightly television a few months ago?  It turns out that 80% of migrants were young men, who left their families behind in war-torn Syria and other countries.   The outcome is not surprising.

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An article by Boyd D. Cathey contains the following, in defense of President Putin:

In support of his goals, Putin has championed Russian laws that:  (1) have practically outlawed abortion in Russia (no abortions after the 12th week, and before that time in limited cases, and also the end of financial support for abortions, reversing a previous Soviet policy); (2) clamp down on homosexuality and homosexual propaganda –absolutely no homosexual propaganda in Russian schools, no public displays of homosexuality, with legal penalties imposed for violating these laws; (3) strongly support traditional marriage, especially religious marriage, with financial aid to married couples having more than two children; (4) have established compulsory religious instruction in all Russian schools (including instruction in different Christian confessions, in different regions of the country); (4) implement a policy instituting chaplaincy in Russian military regiments (and religious institutions now assist in helping military families); (5) have made religious holidays now official Russian state holidays; (6) have instituted a nationwide program of rebuilding churches that were destroyed by the Communists (the most notable being the historic Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow); and (7) officially support the Russian film industry in producing conservative religious and patriotic movies— interestingly, the most popular film in Russia in 2009 was the movie “Admiral,” a very favorable biopic of the leader of the White Russian counter-revolutionary, Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, who was executed by the Communists in 1920.  The film was supported by the Russian cultural ministry.”

Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, Russia has built 26,000 new Christian churches.   As the writer points out, Russians are returning to (traditional) Christianity at the same time that Americans are turning progressively against it, embracing secular and anti-Christian values.

Thirty years after Ronald Reagan, we see a Christian Russia opposed to a post-Christian America (President Obama’s description of the country).   No wonder people are confused – the world has been turned upside down in our lifetimes!

Further evidence follows below:

jobs

TO HELL WE MUST GO

Hell

Williamston and Okemos are two cities that are a part of the Greater Lansing area, where we live.  Whereas we live on the west side of Lansing, they are east and south-east respectively.

I’ve just finished reading a short book on a particularly gruesome murder that took place in Williamston in 1897.   The book told the story of a man who came home for lunch (dinner as it was then), to find his mother’s head on his dinner plate.  His wife had gone crazy and killed her mother-in-law.

The murder is not as interesting as the detailed descriptions of life in Lansing at the time, almost 120 years ago.   In 1897 many people could still remember when the city of Lansing was chosen as the state capital.   The city was served by a number of railway lines, none of which exist now.

What was particularly interesting to me was the fact that the murderer was charged, tried and sentenced within six days.  Yes, six days!   What a contrast to today, where a trial may take more than a year, sentencing months and punishment is often delayed for years. Will Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ever actually be put to death?   His victims died instantly!

Reading the book, I was reminded of the scripture in Ecclesiastes 8:11 which says:  “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

It’s no wonder that we are seeing more crimes of violence when our legal system is a joke.  The system has little to do with justice.

Another legal issue came up in the book.  Again, the contrast with today is quite marked.

The murderer was sentenced to life in an asylum.   She died about eighteen months later from tuberculosis.

Her husband, meanwhile, turns up again in the historical record, three years after the murder.   He was found co-habiting with a woman in Okemos, a few miles away.  They were both charged with “lewd and lascivious behavior.”  He was sentenced to ten months and she got eight.  That’s curious in itself.   I’m sure they were both equally to blame, so, therefore, why were their sentences different? But they both went to jail.

America today, with less than 5% of the world’s population, has 25% of the world’s prisoners.   Can you imagine what our prisons would be like if all those co-habiting were sentenced to a jail term?   If biblical commands were upheld in our communities, we would need a lot more jails and prisons for long-term offenders.

I was reminded of this last Friday when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.  Can you imagine what the village elders would have done in 1900 Okemos if they had found two men co-habiting?

It shows how far we have come as a country.   And not just us, other western nations are the same.

Many Christians interpret the latest Supreme Court decision as a sign that the end of the age cannot be far off, that just as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah when they were beyond being saved, that the US and other nations must face the same.   A number of conservatives said that the decision was a blow to marriage.

But the fact is that Friday’s decision is just the latest blow to marriage.

Marriage laws were progressively weakened throughout the twentieth century and churches said nothing.   In 1971 no-fault divorce became the law across the country, a decision that, arguably, did more harm to traditional marriage than any decision before or since.

The lives of millions of innocent children have suffered needlessly because of this change to the law, which reflected increased selfishness in our society.

Just two years later, abortion became legal.   This decision led to the murders of almost 60 million children in the United States alone.

Same-sex marriage is certainly not approved of in the scriptures. Nor are adultery and fornication, yet churches turn a blind eye to both, or punish them less severely.

The Apostle Paul treated them equally in I Corinthians 6:9.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived.  Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,  nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.   And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  (verses 9-11)

Clearly, Paul here condemns fornication, adultery and sodomy equally.

If churches had done the same in recent decades, they might not be in the mess they are in now with regard to same-sex relationships.

If churches are to have any credibility at all on moral issues, they need to condemn these sexual sins EQUALLY.   That’s the only way they will be able to turn away same-sex couples who request a church wedding.   Churches need a statement of belief that upholds a biblically sanctioned marriage and only a biblically sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman who have chosen chastity until marriage and are committed to fidelity afterwards.   Divorced church members should be directed toward a civil marriage, not a church wedding.

If churches don’t do this, they are, in effect saying that one sin is worse than the other, just like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.  In today’s western world that will open them up to charges of discrimination and intolerance.

One final thought before we leave this subject.

The book on the 1897 murder was titled:  “To hell I must go.”  The title came from the murderess herself.  She kept saying that when the police came to arrest her.

When it comes to the morals of the last fifty years, it’s more a case of “to hell we must go.”   Our society is falling apart as a result of our national sins.  Lax laws have destroyed the family.   The latest change to the law is just another nail in the coffin.  Still to come, inevitably, are polygamy, incest, pedophilia, and bestiality.   In England, they have already stopped prosecuting the latter.

It won’t end until we suffer the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah.   We will, but it may be some time yet and more changes are still to come.