Can’t Pray for A Secularist and Can’t Vote for A Mormon?

Election season seems to bring out the best (sic) in those who profess Christ.

I’ve heard variations of the two following statements:

“I can hardly bring myself to even pray for Obama because of his secular…..”

or

“I can hardly bring myself to vote for Romney because of his Mormon….”

To hold either view, one would have to ignore the thrust of Paul’s argument in Romans 13:1-7. Namely, that God is sovereign over even overtly pagan rulers and He has brought about their rule for our own protection and provision. Whether we like it or not, the one who is in “authority is a servant for your good.”

Ancient Roman reign brought about a terror and totalitarianism that modern American politics has little or no context for. For 250 years Americans haven’t known what is like to be occupied by a foreign nation, much less a nation that ruled according by the whims and fancies of psycho Caesars like Nero or Diocletian. The Roman Christians Paul wrote to were a generation away from being burnt at the stakes and ripped apart by lions for national sport.

And Paul says subject yourselves to…them?!

The overriding issue of the ancient Jews was that an alien Roman bully had conquered and enslaved God’s chosen nation of Israel. And yet the ministry of Jesus virtually ignores that great elephant altogether to focus on loving the scum of society and confronting the hypocrisy of religiolites.

Now.

We are fortunate to live in a First Amendment driven democratic government where free speech is largely valued. If re-elected, I can disagree (vehemently) with the president’s policies on abortion without fear of a Communist shakedown on my family and I. If elected, I can disagree (vehemently) with Romney’s religious leanings without fear of a Mormon Illuminati attack on my personal liberties.

Whomever is elected this year, I can continue to speak out against the infanticide of abortion and the cult of Mormonism in reference to our respective president at the time. Roman Christians of old and Chinese Christians of new could not even imagine such a sacred privilege being thrust upon them. The individual privilege of voting and speaking for or against chief governmental leaders keeps this American experiment ticking.  But with that privilege comes great responsibility. Not to necessarily cast our lots with right or left leaning ideologues, but to vote in a way that both laments and rejoices at such a right.

Yes, I say to both lament and rejoice as a way to honor our right to vote.

We should lament because our only choices on this side of eternity are between two flaw-filled sinful men. Men who will always over promise and under deliver. Men who will say every word and make every action according to a careful diabolical political theory. Men who may have the very best of intentions, yet will undoubtedly fail at bringing the soaring hope of peace and prosperity their rhetoric guarantees.

We should expect as much from, well, men.

Do vote. But vote with a hint of lament and longing gripping your soul.

And we may rightly rejoice as we vote too.

Rejoice that we have an eternal hope in the gospel of Christ Jesus. His is an eternal righteous reign with no end, not a term of four/eight lackluster years (Isaiah 9:7). We haven’t chosen Christ in an election of false promises, He has chosen us with the permanently sealed promise of his own Spirit and blood (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Many men have assumed the office of president. As a subject of another kingdom you must pray for the man who ends up holding that office, even moreso if he doesn’t pray to the one true God revealed in Scripture. And as a responsible and conscientious citizen of a free nation you should vote for the best flawed man available, whether or not he holds your biblical view of God.

But Jesus is the only King.

He is working out his rule and reign within the hearts of His true subjects here on earth (Luke 17:21). This paradoxical rule will not be denied no matter the election results. His Kingdom is here already. So Rejoice! His Kingdom is not here yet. So Lament! Voting may be a small way to honor His Kingdom. But the best way to advance it is by an unwavering commitment to the King’s final commission to us:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Bryan Daniels

This Is My 100th Blog Post (And Confetti Explodes)!

According to my WordPress site stats this is my 100th published post for “Chief of the Least.” (Thank you, Thank you, no really stop applauding maniacally) My first published post was October 22nd of last year. In under 11 months, I’ve averaged a little less than 10 posts per month. I’ll take this awe-inspiring crowning achievement to briefly reminisce over a few posts and nuggets of knowledge I have gained in this process.

Here are the top 3 most viewed posts of all time on the site:

1. “Rob Bell: Does Universalism Really Win in The End?”

2. “White Guys Who Listen To Christian Rap and The Girl Named World”

3. “Call of Duty: A Call To Biblical Manhood”

Here are the top 3 most commented on posts all time (admittedly, many of these comments are mine!):

1. “Sister Wives: Neither Nice Nor Biblical”

2. “‘Tis The VBS Season: No Sinner’s Prayer Required”

3. “How Christ Came To Me: And How I Ended Up In The Back Of A Cop Car”

Staying somewhat consistent and disciplined with writing has been a challenging and edifying experience. Here is what I have learned about maintaining a personal blog the past year:

1. Don’t count the stats

I know in the previous section I did just this. But I am talking about obsessive exhaustive bookkeeper type tabs on your blog stats. You will not miss much in a day or even a week if you fail to visit your site stats, especially if you are just getting started. Frequently checking your stats could be the vehicle that steers you away from maintaining your blog. Here’s why: You just spent dozens of minutes ; ) of your valuable time creating a post that will cure cancer and bequeath world happiness…and only two people have viewed it since Tuesday. Bummer.

Internet traffic doesn’t just magically appear in droves until you start putting up consistent content over a period of time. Maintain a blog for the enjoyment of it, not to get a platform or get a message “out there.”

2. Be consistent

You will never compete with Tim Challies, so don’t try. If you attempt to you will get burned out. Though my blogging activity has waned as of recent, during the height of my production last summer I was still only averaging 2.68723 posts a week. Consistency is a key to earn faithful readers. Frequent blog visitors should be able to visit your site 2-3 times a month and every time see some fresh content.

You’re not in a race with those brilliant and prolific Pyromaniacs, you’re on your own journey at your own disciplined pace.

3. Be concise

I’m a sucker for flowery rhetoric. But a blog format is not the place to wax poetically. Internet visitors usually just scan blogs for useful content and rarely ever sit and chew on what they have read. I’m guilty of writing a whole paragraph what could be said in one simple sentence. I rarely get diarrhea of the mouth but I frequently get diarrhea of the type-pad. A post much more over 500 words will induce ADD fuzziness in the most committed readers.

Targeted simplicity is the key to communicating any given message. Ernest Hemingway would have been a successful blogger.

4. Be uniquely personal

If people want to dig deep into lofty theological musings or political commentary they already have their trusted sources. John Piper and John MacArthur have the reformed theological market on lock and will represent biblical Christianity much more succinctly and profoundly than I every could. Don’t get into the habit of saying what an ESV Commentary has already said. Readers would much rather know what your uniquely personal take is on family, culture, church and life in general.

How does God relate to me at home when the babies are screaming, the wife is flustered and I have a million papers to grade for school? Inquiring readers would rather know that than some regurgitated thoughts I have borrowed about the hypostatic union.

Visitors want a refreshing read with real unique perspectives on the actualities of life, not a theological treatise from a random internet source. If you are having a good day, bad day, or blah day let your readers know.

Those main four points are what I have gleaned thus far from my rookie blog experience.

I’m looking forward to what God has in store for this blog in the next year. If you are a frequent lurker, reader, or commenter, thank you for letting “Chief of the Least” be a small part of your life!

Bryan Daniels

Sister Wives: Neither Nice Nor Biblical

Kody Brown, of the reality TV show “Sister Wives,” is a glutton for punishment. Most men have a hard enough time keeping one woman pleased. But estrogenic attacks, menopausal mercilessness, and wedding dress drama are multiplied by four for Brown.

How did this guy get 4 wives? The hair my friend.

The TLC hit show “Sister Wives”, about a polygamous family living in Utah, has become a cultural phenomenon. Along with four sister wives, the family boasts 16 total children.

The Browns are fundamentalist Mormons. Though the mainstream modern Mormon Church formally rejects the polygamous lifestyle, it is a matter of record that the founding patriarchs and early followers of the LDS church were polygamous. Joseph Smith and his followers exercised what they considered their biblical freedom.

That is what happens when wild personal revelations become the standard for interpreting the bible, and not careful thoughtful exegesis of the text.

Just because the Bible mentions a sin does not mean it permits it. The Bible is a very frank historical record of the total spectrum of human sinfulness. Adultery, homosexuality, greed, pride and a litany of sins are shown in Scripture through many living illustrations.

All of these stark realities are simply descriptive of life as it is, not prescriptive, or commanded, ways of living.

In the bible, polygamy is never shown in a positive light. In the very beginning, we see one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) as the pre-eminent model for mankind (Genesis 2:18).

The first biblical character to be a polygamist, Lamech, was considered to be an evil man (Genesis 4:19-24). Polygamy was the beginning of the end of wise Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 11:4). The disaster of polygamy is illustrated by Lamech and Adah and Zillah in Genesis 4:19–24, Esau and Mahalath and other wives in Genesis 28:6–9, and Jacob and Leah and Rachel in Genesis 29:15–30. Even though some godly patriarchs took on polygamous lifestyles, never once was their decision considered good or godly.

In the New Testament, godly leadership must be men who are committed to only one woman in marriage (1 Timothy 3:2, 12).

Women of Scripture who are involved in polygamous marriages are frequently shown to be insecure, jealous, and untrusting in their relationships. This was the tragic case with Abram, Sarai and Hagaar, and also Jacob, Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29:15-30).

In the show, this seems to be the case with Meri, who was the first and is the only legally married wife to Kody Brown. Meri is honest about her misgivings and struggles with the “plural” lifestyle. Throughout the first season she is a tumultuous bundle of conflicting emotions. She takes the marriage of Kody to Robyn harder than any of the other wives, even though she was the driving force in setting the two up.

Even after living roughly twenty years within the plural marriage she signed up for, she is still wounded afresh by Kody’s insistence of adding to their family. She rightly feels insufficient, abandoned, and even cheated on. Far from loving her as Christ loved the church, Kody is treating her (probably unintentionally) emotionally as a passing afterthought.

The older wives joke they are glad that Kody finally got himself a younger “trophy wife” in Robyn. The nervous laughter betrays their angst. Robyn is younger, prettier and skinnier than the other wives. Instead of the man being ashamed of his mistress, polygamy brings her home and makes her a part of the family.

“Sister Wives” brings to light some incredibly provocative relational dynamics. And to the family’s credit, they handle most of it with a spirit of cordiality and sensitivity to one another. These are nice people who have chosen to put themselves into an untenable circumstance for the sake of religion.

As nice and as Christian as the family may seem, polygamy is neither nice to women nor is it biblically Christian.

I could make a compelling case for polygamy being cruel to men also. But, then again, some men, like Kody Brown, are just gluttons for punishment.

Bryan Daniels