Sticks and Stones…

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I try to keep these posts related to the word of God and to steer away from political or social issues. Yet, politics and society are also something that is very closely related to what is happening on a spiritual level. With that in mind, I really need to get this off my chest.

Let’s talk about Rosanne Barr and what happened with her.

For those that may not be aware, Rosanne is a comedienne who had a hit show in the 1980’s as the wife in a blue-collar family with politically incorrect ideals. She was outspoken and a strong feminist. Recently ABC television has re-booted her show to demonstrate that they are willing to put on more conservative shows, being labelled as a liberal network. Rosanne recently “tweeted” about a past government official that had undertones of a possibly racist comment. She was immediately fired and her show cancelled.

The liberal front applauds this action, and the conservatives ask why ABC states that those racist and improper comments are not part of their corporate culture, yet have failed to apologize for the stingers and insults they have hurled at the Conservative politicians and the President.

Before I talk about this I want to say something clearly and unequivocally: racism is wrong. Hatred is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. I do not believe that anyone should use racist language or hateful accusations against another.

I also believe that when someone accuses another person of something, until that accusation is proven to be true the person accused is innocent. When two or more people have an issue both sides should be given an equal chance to give their side of the story and mediation should be the first choice. Neither of these things happen anymore in this country.

I have seen and also been the victim of unfair and unjustified accusations in the workplace and also where I have volunteered. I once corrected someone I was mentoring as a Docent at the Philadelphia Zoo who was giving bad information during a training session.  I was NOT nasty or mean- I simply told her she needed to study up more.  She went off and cried about it and another woman heard her and asked what was wrong. I don’t know what was said between them, but the one who interfered was not present at the training and did not hear what I said to the trainee, yet she complained about me and next thing I knew I was told I couldn’t be a mentor anymore, or even teach classes to the trainees. Another time I was accused of sexual harassment at the place I worked and told I would have to take a sexual harassment test and sign a letter acknowledging the claim. I asked who accused me and what did I do and was told they wouldn’t tell me. I refused to do what they said without knowing why, and filed my own complaint. When the facts came out it was discovered that the investigation was totally one-sided and that the person who accused me was not even an employee. The person was in the public cafeteria and overheard someone else talking about a joke they THINK I may have told someone else. The eavesdropper thought that the joke MIGHT be upsetting to someone and complained to HR. HR ran with this and immediately created a sexual harassment case out of nothing more than hearsay from someone who wasn’t an employee and was invading someone else’s private conversation! I was totally innocent, never found out who said what or if I even was really the person they were talking about. Yet, my reputation was damaged.

More recently in the public and corporate world Starbucks had two Black men arrested for loitering and ended up shutting down all their stores to hold anti-bias training.  Dove, H&M and Old Navy corporations have all apologized for what employees have (or may have) done to upset people of different races. Netflix fired Kevin Spacey on allegations of sexual improprieties. Again- not after he was found guilty in a court of law, but just because someone accused him. Maybe he is guilty, maybe not, but this country is based upon the idea that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

At least, it used to be that way.

Looking at this from a spiritual view, I see the enemy at work in these actions. What I see happening is that we are becoming an overly sensitive nation of victims where free speech is becoming illegal. If I say something that even has a hint of being politically incorrect it is immediately flagged as bigoted, sexist or racist and I am wrong. It doesn’t matter if it was purposefully nasty or an accidental slip of the tongue. In today’s world whoever complains first, wins. Investigations don’t mean getting both sides of the story anymore. Today investigations mean asking the accuser what happened and seeing if anyone else will confirm it, then telling the accused they are wrong. And because of this immediate finding of guilt, even if later it’s discovered to have been a mistake it won’t matter to the accused because that person’s reputation is now permanently stained.

The way to take charge of a nation is to remove its freedoms; one of the most important freedoms is that of free thought and free speech. Now, don’t go off on a tangent and think I am saying anyone can say anything about anybody. I am not saying that. What I am saying is that when people are being treated unfairly and there is immediate and sever reaction (not action but RE-action) to statements they make, it gets to the point where everyone will be afraid to say anything against anyone else for fear of being persecuted.

Yes, I said persecuted and I meant it. Rosanne Barr is not a favorite of mine, but to be treated the way she was is (to me) a form of persecution- guilty without opportunity to repent. And when she did repent, she was not forgiven. Even though the person who she sinned against has said it was something she is not going to be upset about, those who weren’t even subject to the “slammer” are still unforgiving. As if they were the ones who were hurt.

They weren’t hurt but they are afraid.  Afraid of social media coming against them. The REAL reason they are afraid is this: they don’t want to lose money! They are willing to lose the show’s income in the short run to avoid losing sponsors in the long run. And the sponsors are afraid of losing customers (money) if they are associated with a show that had a star say something wrong. Even though what that person said was not part of the show or had anything to do with the network or its sponsors.

Can you see where this leads? By having a nation of self-centered and emotionally weak people, the enemy will be able to manipulate the national lack of confidence and victim-mindset to create an environment of fear. It is wrong to say bad things about people based on their sex, race or religion, but I see this over-sensitivity and over-reaction becoming something that the enemy will use to expand upon to the point where people will be afraid to speak out at all. Then when the enemy speaks against Messiah, no one will argue. When he speaks against the Lord, no one will dare stand up to him for fear of being called racist or possibly losing their job. And when the enemy proclaims himself as the one we should be worshiping, no one will stand against him for fear that they will be ostracized and persecuted.

This is what I see happening and I hope that some of you out there reading this can also see what I am seeing. These events may seem like nothing more than social and political mishaps, but it is really the spiritual battle we have been warned about.

When I was a child we used to say, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Today we say: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words are now a Felony.” 

The time is now when the enemy of God will try to take over the world and the best way to make people do what you want is to take away their courage to stand against you. If you can make people afraid to speak out against someone for fear of being labelled in a non-socially acceptable way, you are half-way to total control.

Yeshua says in Matthew 17:15-20 that we can tell who someone is by their fruits. For me, if someone says something that demonstrates they are racist or sexist, their own words convict them and we should just ignore them. Again, I am not saying to be racist or bigoted is acceptable and if someone is doing something that is harmful, physically, to another they should be punished. But if someone’s speech and opinion just shows how stupid they are, ignore them.  Let them have their opinion and allow them to show themselves to be what they are. When David was cursed at by Shimei the Benjamite as he fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 6:13) David ignored him. Proverbs says that a soft word can turn fierce anger and we are told not to return evil for evil but to wait upon the Lord. These are all biblical examples of being strong enough, emotionally and spiritually to ignore what isn’t important.

I do not like people being nasty to each other, but we are humans and that is part of what we are. I see it constantly even in discussion groups composed of Believers.  It isn’t good but it is what it is and it isn’t going away until the Olam Haba (world to come), so let’s stop being so sensitive and just get on with the important stuff.

The day that we can’t voice an opinion without being persecuted for it is the day we are no longer free.

God is not tolerant

Here comes another “Dear Amy” (you’re off the hook today, Abby) letter that represents how misunderstood God-fearing people are in the world today.

In short, a child of Atheists is upset because her friend, a child of Christians, told her they can’t be friends because the Christian parents believe the Atheist girl will be a bad influence. Amy is very sympathetic to the Atheist child and complimentary to the parents (who wrote the letter) saying this is a great opportunity to teach their daughter about tolerance and intolerance.

And you know what? Amy is right. The Christian’s are intolerant. In fact, God is intolerant. God says so, more than once:

Ezekiel 44:23“They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”

Leviticus 19:19– “Keep my decrees. “Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”

2 Corinthians 6:14“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

These are repeated, in one way or another, throughout the Tanakh and New Covenant writings. God wants His people to be holy, which means, literally, separated. You can’t be separated from the unholy when you are playing with and living with and (yes, even this) working with the unholy.

When Bilam was unable to curse the Israelites (Numbers, Chapter 22) he got around that by suggesting to the Moabite king to have the women get “friendly” with the Israelite men, and by doing so they will influence them to begin to worship the Semitic gods of the Moabites.

And it worked.

Tolerance in today’s world is more than tolerance- it is passive acceptance. According to Dictionary.com (if you want to get a worldly opinion, go to the Internet, right?) tolerance is:

a fair, objective, and permissive (bold added by me) attitude toward those whose opinions,beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry

There is a much more ancient definition, one I found using an historic, out-dated form of research called “looking it up in the Webster’s dictionary”:

to put up with; to recognize and respect the opinions and rights of others; to endure

There is a difference between tolerating something and accepting something as “right.” If someone living next to me is loud and un-neighborly, I think that is a very wrong way to act but I can tolerate them. But, if they are selling drugs I cannot tolerate that and must report them to the police. There is a level where tolerance becomes intolerance, meaning (simply) that I will not accept that behavior and will do what I can to either change it or get away from it.

Intolerance doesn’t mean bigotry, but today these two words are treated as synonyms.

God is intolerant of non-Believers. God says we are to be separated and holy, kept from that which is unclean and sinful. Yet, we are to be a light to the nations and Yeshua says no one lights a lamp and places it under a basket. So what does that mean? Are we to be tolerant? Should we intermix with sinners? Is God saying to stay to ourselves, become communal hermits from the world? If we do that, if we remain separated from the world, how can we be a light to the world?

We must be intermingling with the unholy, we must bring light to the darkness, we must be in the midst of the unclean to bring the cleanliness of God’s deliverance to them.

What we must be careful not to do is become influenced by the world.  We are commanded to be holy, for God is holy, and we are commanded to make Disciples. How can we make Disciples or show our light to the world if we are separated and apart from the world?

It is a conundrum, to be sure.

God tests our faith- we see that throughout the Bible. Abraham and Isaac, Jonah, Gideon, Kefa (Peter) walking on the water to Yeshua…all of these are tests of faith that God performed not to find out for Himself but to show us, ourselves, the level of our own faithfulness. Testing of faith is something we do for our benefit and the benefit of those watching us, and don’t think for an instant you aren’t being watched by the non-Believers! They are watching us like a hawk looking for a rabbit, and that predator-prey relationship is exactly what it is like. Non-Believers look for any excuse to show that God-fearing people are intolerant (as the world describes it, meaning bigoted and racist) in order to discredit God.

They do not understand what it means to be holy, and (frankly) they don’t care- they don’t want to be holy, and when you don’t want to be something you make that something look as unwanted and undesirable as you can.

We are to be intolerant of sin, but we are also to love the sinner. Love the sinner, hate the sin, and we can do both. To a Believer, tolerance should be accepting that others are different and they have that God-given right to be. God gave us all free will so we can choose to love Him from our desire to do so. Consequently, we also have the right and freedom to reject Him. That is all part of what God has given each and every one of us, and as people of God we should respect and honor what God has done and not condemn it.

Basically, we are to be holy and show the world what that means. We need to get dirty, we need to soil ourselves with fleshly exposure and we need to walk into the midst of Hell to see what souls we can save: we always have the blood of Messiah to cleanse us. I am not saying we should sin, just that we should allow ourselves to be exposed to the sin of others in order to bring them out of their sin.

Truth is, you can’t work with fish all day and not come home smelling of fish.

If you think that isn’t right, then ask yourself why did Yeshua strip off His righteousness and give up His divine spiritual being to become a flesh and blood human? He took off His divinity and put on the mantle of disgusting, earthly flesh, with all it’s stench and filth, and wore it while acting perfectly holy. His light shone through His flesh and taught us all that it is possible to be light, to be holy and to be God-fearing while in the world.

Both Yochanan and Shaul (John and Paul) tell us that although we are in the world, we are not part of it. We are separated, but we are also present: we are separated from the world spiritually but we are still in the world physically, so we need to show those in the flesh the way to join us in the spirit.

You can’t do that by being physically apart from the others.

I think the Christian family is doing what they think is right, but they are wrong. They should trust in God, and if the faith of their children is strong enough, then the Christian child should be allowed to play with the Atheist child as a means to deliver the light into the darkness.  In fact, the Atheist child should be invited into their home and welcomed to show what the love of God means in the real world.

We are the messengers of God, and the symbols of His kingdom; you can’t deliver a message to someone unless you talk to them.

 

Intolerance is Not Bigotry

Once again, thank you Ask Amy for ideas and inspiration.

She was answering a letter from a man who was shocked that a recent friend , who is a Christian, was against homosexuality. Amy answered that his friend is intolerant and Christians are taught to be that way (she didn’t say that outright, but she strongly implied it), yet she was tolerant by stating that the writer of the letter could learn to allow other people their opinion.

So the “Christian” with a politically incorrect belief is intolerant (i.e., hateful) and this man can be honorable by accepting that from him. The man who allows the Christian to be intolerant is correct, and the Christian is just pain wrong.

Intolerance is not hatred or bigotry. The difference (for me, at least- you may agree or not) is that bigots and racists hate people for what they are, whereas a true Believer will hate the things the person does but loves the person.

An intolerant person is someone who, according to Mr. Webster, is “not willing to allow or accept something“; there is also a second definition that says an intolerant person is one who is “unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.

Let’s take a look at some of the intolerant people throughout history: God, Moses, the Prophets, Yeshua (Jesus), many of the kings of old (they’re examples of the bad type of intolerance because they would just kill people who had different opinions), people who never prostituted their ideals or accepted less than what they knew to be right (Edison, Ford, Gates, Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, to name a few.)

Intolerance isn’t the problem: it’s what we are intolerant of that is the true indicator of whether we are upholding ideals or being bigoted.

I do not agree with many of the ‘socially acceptable’ things people do.  I base this not on my personal feelings as much as on what I believe God tells us we should do, and what He says we should not do. In fact, I am intolerant of myself at times because (if I may paraphrase what that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus said when he wrote the letter to the Messianic Jews in Rome) I often do what I don’t want to do and do not do that which I would rather be doing

I am not a good example of doing what is right, but I am a good example of someone trying to do what is right.

Am I intolerant? You bet I am! I am intolerant: not of people, but of sin, and I am intolerant of those that define sin by what they want it to be and not by what God says it is.

The enemy wants us to be tolerant and to accept what everyone wants to do. When we do that, we have no scruples, no measurable level of right verse wrong. When we allow that everyone has the right to do what they want, we don’t have individual freedom- we have total anarchy. And, whether it is a legal anarchy, political anarchy, or spiritual anarchy, it is the perfect environment for the enemy to just step in and take over. Today when someone is “tolerant” they are not just expected to allow others the right to their opinion, but they are expected, indeed required, to give up their own right to their opinion.

If I believe <fill in the blank> is wrong, then I am intolerant. It doesn’t hold true so much if I fill that blank in with, oh, say….murder, or rape, or arson, or a legally defined criminal act. If I fill it in with something religious or godly, say adultery, or idolatry, or homosexuality, or lying, or even blasphemy, then I am probably going to be “called onto the carpet” for it.

That’s OK with me- I will stand for what God says and if He says don’t stand for sin, then I won’t stand for sin. I won’t allow sin to go unchallenged, and I won’t accept the evil I see just so that I can be considered “tolerant” by others.

Hate the sin but love the sinner. That’s a hard thing to do, but isn’t it the only thing that separates Believers from bigots?

However, don’t expect the world to see that very important difference because it doesn’t want to, so be true to God and to yourself, and don’t worry about the others.

After all, if they tell you you are wrong for believing what you do, doesn’t that makes them just as intolerant as you are?