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News

What if speeding tickets were paid to charities?

As Kuyper said, “There is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’" And that applies to photo radar too.

*****

In Colorado efforts are underway to put a very unusual initiative on the ballot that, if passed, would require fines issued by the government no longer go to the government. Instead, if a citizen gets a speeding ticket, a parking ticket, or a fine for smoking, he would pay it by making a donation to any registered charity (though, presumably, he wouldn’t get a charitable receipt). That might have some charities excited, but that’s really beside the point. The ballot initiative’s organizers aren’t as concerned with where the money would go, as they are with where the money wouldn’t go anymore. To say it another way, the goal of the initiative is to take away any incentive the government has to, as FEE.org’s Jay Stooksberry put it, “fine and collect” rather than “serve and protect.” This initiative comes after the media reported some Colorado municipalities were funding a large part of their budget via fines. The most extreme example was the small town of Mountain View, population 518, whose 10 police officers issued 3,624 traffic tickets in 2014. In 2013 traffic fines raised over $600,000 for the town, which accounted for more than half the municipal budget. It’s hard to find such egregious examples in Canada, but here too this strange incentive is in place. So, for example, Edmonton’s Anthony Henday Drive is a ring road around the city with smooth wide lanes, and no stoplights. The speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour, but even the city’s police chief Rod Knecht thinks the limit could be raised to 110 km/h without any serious safety concerns. So why doesn’t the city do it? We can’t read minds so we don’t know. But the city does have a financial incentive not to raise the limit: the revenue from the thousands of photo radar speeding tickets issued on this stretch of road each year. Some might not see the problem. So what if the city makes a little money from the fines it issues? Do we really think they will be corrupted by such sums? There are two issues here: does such a system encourage corruption, and whether it does or not, how does the public perceive it? Consider what we would think if a judge received the money from all the fines he issued. Every time he found someone guilty, he’d make money, and the bigger the fine, the bigger the judge’s bank account. Would the public perceive such a judge as being impartial? Or would they question his every decision? The judge might still be impartial – such a system doesn’t require corruption, it only encourages it – but that’s not how he would be perceived. The man behind Colorado’s ballot initiative describes himself as a libertarian, and it’s not clear whether he is a Christian. But his proposal lines up well with what we see Paul doing in 2 Cor. 8:20-21. There, the apostle, when he was entrusted with money from the churches to Jerusalem, outlines steps he was taking to prevent even suspicions of wrongdoing. He wanted to ensure that there would be no way his actions could be misperceived. This ballot initiative is a great way of addressing the perception that photo radar, jay walking tickets, red light cameras, and other fines are simply “cash cows” for government. Law enforcement should be about protection and justice, and we should do all we can to ensure that it also perceived that way. That's why such an initiative would help foster respect for our officers and government. Of course, if you and your lead foot have just been caught exceeding the posted limit then there is a very different way you can foster respect for those in authority: you've done the crime so don't complain about the officer issuing the fine. Or, to put it in more biblical terms: you shouldn't concern yourself with any perceived speck in their eyes when you've got that log to deal with in your own.

News

Crass comedian challenges pro-choice allies…and pro-lifers too

Louis C.K. is a vulgar, blasphemous and very pro-abortion comedian whose latest comedy special is certain to have upset many of his pro-abortion allies. He opened the show with ten minutes about how abortion was either like “defecating” (i.e. an unimportant removal of something from the body) or “murdering a baby.” He mocked that complete lack of logic behind Hillary Clinton’s “safe, legal, and rare” abortion stance. "Why rare if it should be legal? If it should be legal, it’s… … If it should be rare, it’s murdering babies." To finish the segment he gave two arguments for why, while abortion is “100% killing a baby” it should still be allowed: “I don’t think life is important.” “abortion is the last line of defense against people in the species.” Both arguments don’t dispute the humanity of the unborn; both simply devalue all life – if these justify abortion, they justify killing anyone. From the laughs it was clear his audience wasn't shocked. Of course, abortion advocates couldn't have been pleased. They don’t want abortion presented so clearly; they want to hide what this “choice” really involves. Interestingly C.K both defended and challenged pro-lifers, arguing that if someone thinks abortion is killing a baby that “means you should be holding a sign in front of the place.” He told his audience: "People hate abortion protesters. 'Oh, they’re so shrill and awful.' They think babies are being murdered – what are they supposed to be like? 'Uh, that’s not cool. I don’t wanna be a about it, though. I don’t want to ruin their day as they murder several babies all the time.'" Now, we could question why isn’t C.K. – who acknowledges abortion is “totally the killing of a baby” – out protesting in front of Planned Parenthood? But we shouldn’t be surprised when the world isn’t consistent. The better question is, what about us?...

News

Porn and the smartphone: parents should be freaking out

In a May 2 piece in the American Conservative, journalist Rod Dreher said that when he goes to speak at Christian colleges, the professors, staffers and campus ministers he’s talks with tell him that “pornography is a massive problem.” How massive? “A campus minister who works with young undergraduates headed for professional ministry told me that every single one of the men he mentors has a porn addiction. Every. Single. One.” Parents who grew up with the Internet might think they understand the temptation their kids face. But this, the smartphone generation, is facing something new. While their parents could put their desktop computer in a public place, our children now have a portal, in their jeans pockets, that allows them access to porn everywhere and always. Dreher’s solution? It’s not as simple as any one thing. But he doesn’t like smartphones. What concerns me most of all right now is the horrifying complicity of conservative, even conservative Christian, parents in the spiritual, moral, and emotional ruin of their children and of their moral ecology because they, the parents, are too…afraid to say no, my kids will not have a smartphone, I don’t care what they and society think of me. Now Dreher isn’t advocating an anti-technology lifestyle. He knows we can’t just bubble-wrap our kids and ban them from the Internet for the first 18 years of their life. If we did, then, when they move out and get their first smartphone, it won’t be much better for them than if we just handed one to them at age 10. So no bubble-wrap, and no technology bans. But we also shouldn’t hand our children tools without first figuring out if they have the character and knowledge to use them properly. We wouldn’t hand our son or daughter a chainsaw without some lessons and precautions and it isn’t hyperbole to say we should be much more cautious about handing them a smartphone. After all, the chainsaw can only hurt or kill them; pornography can enslave them. To conclude his piece Dreher shared a conversation he had with a two readers who lead a Christian school. He told these men about how, in the article he was writing, he wanted to help parents understand just how “serious this situation is regarding kids, porn and smartphones” but that he didn’t “want to freak them out.” “Freak them out,” he was told, “They need to be freaked out.”...

News

New "Anne" of Green Gables TV series doesn't improve on the old

In March, CBC Television debuted a new TV series based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The show, titled Anne, received rave reviews from some quarters, getting a remarkable 8.3/10 on the movie database site IMDb.com But many parents are not so enthused. The series has unwanted adult fare, such as in Episode 3, when Anne Shirley delivers sex education to her classmates, explaining that fellow student Prissy Andrews and the teacher, Mr. Phillips, are having “intimate relations,” and therefore, “must be making a baby.” She goes on to further educate her classmates, saying that all men have “a pet mouse in the front pocket of their pants,” and that “when the woman has made the mouse's acquaintance and pets it, babies are made.” Clearly CBC is attempting to incorporate some humor into the TV series, but parents are upset with the questions their children are raising because of this episode. Considering that the original Anne of Green Gables book is clean and suitable for young children, as is the original movie, one would expect that this remake would be the same. But no. Later on in the same episode Anne is described as someone who should be pitied for knowing what no child should have to know. One parent offered up on an ironic thank-you to CBC, via Facebook, for “telling my children something no child should have to know.” What CBC should’ve known is something Christians have known for centuries: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place” (Ephesians 5:4a)....

News

Brad Trost's missed opportunity is ours too

Conservative Party leadership candidate Brad Trost caught some heat recently, from the party's interim leader Rona Ambrose, after he sent out an email to his leadership campaign supporter promising he would never walk in a gay pride parade. Ambrose responded the next day, saying she was upset at his comments, and she was proud to be the first Conservative Party leader to walk in such a parade. Now, Trost’s email got people talking, but it was also a missed opportunity because it was so very brief. It gave no explanation as to why it isn't a good thing to march in these parades. Of course, we know the reason he didn't go into detail. He really couldn't explain further unless he was willing to talk about sin, which would have gotten him into even more trouble. But there really are only two reasons to oppose gay pride parades. The first is because they take pride in something God condemns – homosexual activity. They celebrate sin. And since sin separates us from God, this is not something we should be putting our stamp of approval on – we are hurting homosexuals when we do so. There are also the right-now consequences of homosexual activity that shorten lifespans, lead to far higher rates of suicide, and result in higher rates of cancer, depression, drug use and an array of other health concerns. So the first reason to oppose gay pride parades is out of love for the participants. The second is bigotry. This is the "they're different than us – ewwwh!" response. It's not attractive, and with good reason. This treats homosexuals not as fellow Image-bearers of God, who share our same need for redemption, but rather as something lesser. We should acknowledge Trost's courage in taking a stand that no other politician seems willing to do anymore. But we shouldn't overlook the manner in which he has taken this stand. Here's his complete email message: In 2009, when a former Minister of the Conservative Government announced $400,000 in funding for Toronto's "gay pride" week, I led the Conservative Caucus in opposing this announcement and went on the record with my opposition to any such funding. I have not marched in any "gay pride" parade. Further, I will NOT march in any "gay pride" parade as Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, nor will I march in or FUND any “gay pride” event of any kind as Prime Minister. Then, in a follow-up, a Trost staffer, Mike Patton, released a video via Twitter (which seemed to have been taken down but is now back up here) which he began by saying: “In case you haven’t noticed, Brad’s not entirely comfortable with the whole gay thing.” Patton noted that while Trost is "not a big fan of the gay lifestyle" his problem here was the tax dollars going to these parades, and that they weren't living up to community standards. So how does this come off? Does it come off as concerned and loving? Or does it sound more like reason #2? Now here’s our key question: why doesn’t it sound good? It’s what God wants. It’s the right answer. So why – even in our ears – does it sound so wrong? Because it is standing there on its lonesome, with no real support and no justification. Tax dollars wasted? Well, when we consider the number of people involved at the parade, and how we spend money on events that have far smaller attendance, why is this such a big deal? And violating community standards? Can we even argue that's true nowadays? So it seems like Trost’s opinion and nothing more. While liberal politicians will reference God – last month California governor Jerry Brown argued it wasn’t Christian to build a wall on the border – we seem scared to do so. But something inevitable happens when we try to defend a biblical position without presenting biblical reasons. Then, because we have no firm foundation, we really have no firm argument. We’ve seen this happen in the gender debate, where Christians are more eager to talk about bathrooms than that God created two genders. In the abortion debate, rather than talking about the humanity of the unborn – how they like all of us are made in God’s image – Christians find themselves defending the right to free speech. Instead of arguing for the unborn, we’ll get distracted into arguing that we should be allowed to argue for the unborn. Then, when the attacks come, we’re not being attacked for defending God’s Word, and His position. No, we’re attacked for all sorts of side issues that don’t really matter. And when we’re attacked for bigotry, it's because we’ve presented God’s thoughts as if they are only our own personal opinions. Of course, getting attacked for bigotry is likely to happen no matter what we say. But how much better it would be if this attack came while we were being winsome and loving, rather than while we were keeping close-mouthed about what God has to say. Brad Trost is a remarkable man. He has spoken up for the unborn when others Leadership candidates have not dared do so. Trost has helped get the plight of the unborn back in the public eye, and in doing so has forced even some of the pro-abortion candidates to make some small concessions that could help the unborn. So my point here is not to beat up on Brad Trost. He has more courage than 10 ordinary men. But on this issue, he has taken a stand but offered no real defense. We can hardly fault the media for portraying this as simple bigotry – this is the only narrative they know, and Trost hasn’t given them any other. So why criticize a brave man? Only because this type of partial stand – standing for God’s Truth without saying His Name – is a failing we all share. And in seeing how Trost’s public stand has been received, we can see how any defense of God’s truth that doesn’t actually stand on God as its foundation, is going to come off as far from godly and far from good. The fact is we all need to be braver. The world doesn’t want to hear from God, but they need to. So we all need to speak about Him more, not less. We need to offer a clear witness to the world, not just in politics but over the back fence. When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4...

News

How should Christians celebrate the good Donald Trump has done?

Within the first two weeks of being inaugurated, President Donald Trump has: Signed off on the “Mexico City Policy” which bans federal funds from going to any groups that facilitate abortions overseas. Questioned the mainstream media as to why they don’t cover the annual, and massive, March for Life, which then embarrassed them into covering it this year Sent his Vice President to speak at the March for Life, who also, the night before, hosted a reception for 40 pro-lifers leaders in the White House. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also spoke at the March where she declared the right to life “is a right, it is not a privilege, it’s not a choice. It is God-given.” Tweeted The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching --- you have my full support! Nominated a Supreme Court justice that seems truly conservative (the judge, Neils Gorsuch, co-authored a book on euthanasia in which he wrote “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”) So what are Christians to make of the new President of the United States? This is night and day from what we could have expected with a President Hilary Clinton! And yet this is the same man who has show himself to be: Petty – a favorite pastime is coming up with silly insulting names for his opponents, like “Lyin Ted” and “Little Marco” Vulgar – with appearances in Playboy, and on the Howard Stern show, and a recording of him talking about sexually assaulting women A proud adulterer – in his autobiography he brags about the married women he has bedded So can we celebrate the good he does? Or is that, in the eyes of the world, going to too closely align us with him, and mar our Christian witness when he ends up doing something petty, vulgar, or faithless? To know how to act we need to recognize Trump for who he is. As Pastor Douglas Wilson has noted, the best biblical comparison is Jehu (2 Kings 9-10) who was used by God to punish Jezebel and Ahab’s house: was an instrument in the hand of God…At the same time, all was not entirely well. “But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin – that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and Dan (2 Kings 10:29).” In the same way, Donald Trump, in these actions for the unborn, has most certainly been an instrument of the Lord. But that doesn’t mean he is a follower. It doesn’t mean we have to go all in for him. Pastor Wilson writes: Political factions want everything to be a simple binary choice on the human level. You either are all in for Jezebel or all in for Jehu. What Scripture invites us to is qualified support, or perhaps qualified disapproval. So and so was a good king, but did not remove the high places. Jehu removed much that needed to be removed, but God brought judgment on him later because he did not do all that needed to be done. Our foundational allegiance is to God and His ways, and is not to be wholly given over to any man. There has been a lot to celebrate in the opening two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, so celebrate we should. But rather than focus on the man, let’s focus on what God has done through this man. When we give God the glory, no one will be confused about where our loyalties lie....

News

Conscience protection – maybe now the Left will understand

Normally it can be quiet a coup to design a dress for the US First Lady, but in the weeks leading up to the inauguration designer Sophie Theallet, who had previously dress Michelle Obama asked her fellow designers to boycott the next First Lady, Melania Trump. Theallet issued a open letter on Twitter in which she said: I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by. I encourage my fellow designers to do the same. Other designers, including Marc Jacobs joined her boycott. Most media outlets reported these boycotts either without commentary, or with a generally positive slant. And any who believe in freedom of conscience should support their right to deny their services for this political event. They oppose Trump, and so they don’t want to have any role in making him, or his wife, look good. Finally, something we can agree on – no one should be forced against their conscience to participate in something they think is evil. But now the Left has to remember to treat others as it wants to be treated. If designers shouldn’t be forced into into participating in Donald Trump’s inauguration, then Christian bakers shouldn’t have to violate their consciences, and participate in same-sex weddings they oppose....

News

The push for boys to get HPV vaccination hits BC

Grade 6 student Nelson Roy thought it just wasn’t right that girls in his Vancouver school were getting the HPV vaccine for free, and the boys were not. So he and his twin brother Elliot did just what you’d expect rambunctious, rabble-rousing modern boys to do: they lodged a human rights complaint. Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been associated with a number of cancers, but the vaccination program was originally focused on preventing just one of those – cervical cancer – which is why the vaccine was offered only to girls. But because other cancers, including ones men can get too, are also linked to HPV, six other provinces (including Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba) are already making the vaccine available to both girls and boys for free. According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, a third of girls across the province aren’t choosing to be vaccinated. Should our girls, and now our boys, be among them? What should we as parents do? HPV is a sexual transmitted disease, so a Christian couple that lives a faithful monogamous life is in no danger of getting HPV. When we consider that all vaccines come with some sort of risk (though that is normally outweighed by the benefit) what we have here is a situation in which faithful Christian who get the vaccine are needlessly being exposed to a risk, and getting no benefit. This is not a vaccine we need. Now as parents we might wonder, What if my boy or girl ends up marrying someone who hasn’t been sexually pure? Then they would be at risk, so shouldn’t we get the vaccine?” If someone marries after living a sexually sinful life they may have already contracted HPV, and then it could make sense for their spouse to get the HPV vaccine. But if they face that situation, our son or daughter can then, as an adult, make the decision to take the vaccine – it has been proven effective up until age 26 (and may be effective beyond that, but studies haven’t yet been done). So there is no still no need to get it as a child. As parents we might also wonder, “What if my boy or girl ends up being sexually impure? Shouldn’t we vaccinate them to protect them, just in case?” None of us are perfect parents, and we don’t have perfect children, so yes, our children may sin sexually. That said, should we be readying our children for sin? In Romans 13:14 Paul says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” It doesn’t seem as if we’re supposed to prepare our children so that they can enjoy sin with fewer repercussions. No doubt our doctors are going to continue to promote the HPV vaccine for our girls, and now encourage it for our boys too. But this is one vaccine we don’t need....

News

Context matters

It's getting shorter and shorter – the way Christians used to misquote this passage was: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That already obscured the meaning of what Paul was saying - in the context we can see this isn't about me being able to do anything, but about Christ enabling Paul to endure suffering. "I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:11b-13 Now at Christian bookstores you can find a T-shirt that makes it even shorter, leaving us with just "I can do all things." Of course, there is one benefit to this further abbreviation – in dropping mention of Christ the manufacturers have made the underlying thought behind their t-shirt very clear: this is all about me, me, me.  ...

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