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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Los Angeles Bible Training School Banquet

It is a gift to be able to serve God in any capacity. It is measureless privilege to be able to serve God by teaching the Bible. God has blessed me to teach in several prominent Christian schools (Biola University, the Master's College), but my favorite place to teach is at the historic Los Angeles Bible Training School. I am humbled by its rich history. I am inspired by the great faculty that has gone before me. I am passionately motivated to come along and serve the student body who like me have a burden for the urban community.

The preaching, fellowship, and testimonies were great like always. And Naomi and I enjoyed our annual banquet date-night away from our die-hard battered charged six kids. Enjoy the pictures below from this year's banquet where Dr. Alex Montoya was the keynote speaker.

President Paul Felix, Dr. George Moore, Me, Dr. Alex Montoya, Chancellor Dr. Alonzo Levert, Dr. Les Lofquit.

Naomi & Me

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did African-Americans’ Yes Vote on 8 Repudiate King’s Dream?

A nation will be as strong as its laws are wise. America’s legal system, without credible dispute, was founded on a biblically based system of law. That foundation has served to help make America one of the greatest nations in the history of the world. Americans are as wealthy, healthy, generous, strong, educated, compassionate, and, yes, tolerant as any people who have ever walked the face of the earth. Central to producing such a great nation has been a normative structured family of two people, one male and one female, given the task of raising each succeeding generation. As a nation, this has been the Judeo-Christian family value by which we have prospered.

Admittedly, America, the place where every person is said to possess the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has not always lived up to its lofty aspirations. As an African-American, Langston Hughes spoke for many of his brothers and sisters when he said, “America was never America to me.” But praise God that because of the brave efforts of many Americans of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the terrible legacy of overt institutionalized racism has been dying a slow death for many years now. The testament to this cultural transformation is November 4th 2008, when Americans of all stripes elected the first African-American President.

Yet on the same night when African-Americans danced in the streets all across America, celebrating the mortal blow delivered to institutionalized discrimination, many homosexuals accused them of being a principal party in institutionalizing another form of discrimination. Gay activist Wayne Besen wrote, "There is something particularly galling and repugnant about people who have felt the sting of discrimination, turn around and step on another minority. What happened at the ballot box feels like a personal betrayal and the hijacking of history." He poignantly added, “Let's not pretend that the repudiation of Martin Luther King Jr's dream by African American voters did not hurt more than, say, rejection by white evangelicals. It did.” While I can empathize with his deep disappointment and even anguish, my response to his rationale is, wow! The basis of his charge is that on the same night many African Americans voted overwhelmingly for Obama, 70% of them voted yes for a traditional one man one woman definition of marriage in California. African Americans were the key voting block responsible for the passage of prop 8.

Besen deduced that African Americans voted to “take away a gay person's right to marry primarily based on a book -- the Bible.” He also believed that the less educated a person was (regardless of their ethnicity) the more apt they would be to vote yes on 8. I actually agree in part with his analysis as to why African Americans voted yes on 8. The secularization of our education system by the Left makes it so that the more education a person receives, the more secular their value system is likely to become. I am not advocating that people stop going to school. I am noting how radically Left our educational system has moved from the Christian foundation of nearly all of our Ivy League schools and our collective education system. For example, no on 8 proponents used an expensive TV ad campaign to persuade voters that they didn’t have an agenda to introduce a homosexual lifestyle in our schools. The catch is that, at least in part, the campaign was paid for with a million dollar donation from the California Teachers Association. Why? They realize what everyone knows—that people just don’t wake up thinking there is no difference between having a mother and a father and being raised by two intimately involved women or two romantically engaged men. You have to undergo a substantial amount of re-education to believe that. Besen openly admitted that the future strategy for same sex marriage advocates must involve re-educating people to embrace a secular worldview rather than a Judeo-Christian one. So I agree with Besen that the Bible played a key role in informing the decision for many African Americans to vote yes on 8. There is a much higher church attendance among African Americans as a group than other ethnic groups in the US, and, therefore, African Americans are much more inclined to embrace a biblical definition of marriage instead of a secular one. Read Besen’s article “Proposition 8 and Race” particularly his “solutions to ponder” section.

The point with which I profoundly disagree with many prop 8 opponents is that they imply a significant number of African Americans voted yes on 8 because they read the measure incorrectly. For sure the nearly 40 million dollars that prop 8 opponents spent to confuse voters affected many people. However, the equal amount spent by proponents of 8 clarified the issues for African Americans. Once in the polling booths, folks didn’t have a problem understanding the 14 words on prop 8. They clearly understood them and the nearly countless negative implications a no vote meant for Californians and our nation as a whole. What many African Americans and everyone else who voted yes on 8 were thinking is, Where would we stop if we legally defined minority status based upon sexual desires, and granted those groups civil rights? Wouldn’t we have to classify bi-sexuals as a minority group and redefine marriage again? Wouldn’t we have to define polygamists as a minority group and redefine marriage again? And wouldn’t we have to grant incestuous partners civil rights to marry? That’s to say nothing of what would happen if we adopted a gender-neutral worldview? Which bathrooms would people go in? Would teachers tell little elementary school girls they could marry each other when they said that boys were yucky? Don’t all little kids think that the opposite sex is yucky? If a great number of kids grew up embracing the no on 8 secular worldview, then how would we produce a new workforce to outpace our nation’s mortality rate? Far from erroneously marking yes instead of no, many African Americans thought the issues through quite well and decided to thoroughly reject the notion that what someone chooses to do in their bedroom should be the basis of granting them minority status accompanied with civil rights to redefine the ancient tradition of marriage. If it is not obvious that man and woman are designed differently to come together in a complimentary way in marriage for the survival of human society, then everyone had their right to vote “no” on 8. As law abiding people, it should seem that at this point all Californians should honor the twice stated will of the people and all of human history which has defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Last, let me emphatically state that voting yes on 8 in no way makes someone an unloving, hate mongering, unreasoning, intolerant religious bigot, “a hijacker of history,” or a repudiator of King's Dream. A person can vote yes on 8 and affirm one of the greatest truths in the Bible, John 3:16, which explains how God so loved all sinners that He gave His unique Son to die so that those who are actually guilty of death could experience His love and forgiveness. The apostle Paul writes:
  • Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
God doesn’t force people to find their joy in obeying His ways. And US government doesn’t force its citizens to vote to affirm the desires of any one group. We can all choose or vote according to our conscience.

Most Americans used to proudly sing "God Bless America." Despite her many failings, America as a nation has in significant ways acknowledged God’s ways. And in doing so has validated in her experience God's blessings. But of course Americans can choose to reject God and choose secular ways of thinking. And more and more often America is choosing to do that. The consequences of these choices would have to be the subject of another blog (cf. Romans 1:18-32). While we wait to see if the California Supreme Court justices will once again overrule the will of the people and rule that sexual preference constitutes a minority group with the civil right to redefine marriage, let me affirm as a Christian I am proud that so many of my African American brothers and sisters voted yes on prop 8. The witness of history testifies and the Bible confirms that they made the wiser choice on prop 8 on November 4th. And wise laws make a nation stronger for all of its citizens, even those who disagree.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What President-Elect Obama’s Victory Says about Racism?

It says a lot, and it says a lot of good things to Americans and particularly to African Americans. Like millions of Americans I sat glued in front of my television last night. With grumblings from my 6 kids ranging from 3-12 at my side, I made them join my wife and me as I told them that they were witnessing one of the most significant events in American history.

White Europeans arrived on these shores of America in 1607, and in 1619 the first slave ship transporting Africans as cargo arrived. And for the next 250 years America’s new immigrants would be subjected to some of the most inhumane treatments that any peoples have ever suffered on the face of the earth. Then what appeared briefly as a glimmer of hope in 1865—with the Emancipation Proclamation—was quickly put out by the nightriders, enforcing the cruel Jim Crow segregation laws that institutionalized racism for the next 100 years.

But over and against the filibustering democratic congress, Civil Right laws were passed in 1965, ushering in the beginning of the end of the nightmare of American institutionalized racism. However, change takes time and persevering until it comes takes courage. The hatred inflicted upon African descendants for three hundred and fifty years made two Americas—separate and very unequal. Racism created one America for African Americans and another for everyone else. Over the centuries that passed from 1619, the cultural divide between these two Americas grew deep and wide.

Few expected the social conditioning of racism accumulated for nearly four centuries to evaporate overnight. Few assumed the deep emotional scars inflicted upon the psyche of African Americans would be healed in days, weeks, or months. Few thought that the weightiness of the collective guilt of hate crimes perpetrated by many (but not all) White Americans would disappear as a result of one vote. Everyone looking realistically for the day when America would live up to its ideal of judging people based upon the content of their character rather than the color of their skin knew that the journey to equal treatment of African Americans would take years and even decades.

I was born in January 1964, at the dawning of the first rays of hope that America would be America for African Americans too. I am among the first African descendants of America who possessed all the rights of other Americans. I didn’t have to ride on the back of buses like my mother. I was never told that because I was black I wasn’t smart enough to have a job like my father. My children have never been sold away like my great great great grandmother’s or my wife raped by a white man. I do not fear hooded night-riders pulling my son out of my home, beating him, burning him, and then hanging him for disrespecting a white woman. I am among the first of African descendants in America whose success will be determined by embracing the American spirit of determination and hard work rather than having to accept failure because I lacked white privilege.

As an African American conservative, I differ with President Barak Obama on a long list of substantial issues. But on this fundamental issue relating to racism I enthusiastically agree: For decades America has not been static in dealing with its racist past, as Reverend Wright and others have supposed. Instead, it has made steady and significant progress. Because of Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, I went to the school of my choice, as did President Elect Obama, as well as many other African Americans. Because of the continual death of racism, America would have elected its first Republican African American president 13 years ago had Colin Powell chosen to run. The proof that America’s break from its past didn’t happen last night is last night itself. With worldviews informing them that the economy, national security, social issues, or abortion were of primary concern, millions and millions of Americans voted for a certain candidate they believed embraced their concerns. Unlike Americans generations ago, the great majority of Americans who voted for or against an African American candidate didn’t consider his skin color as a determinative factor. The post slavery, post Jim Crow Law, post civil rights generation of Americans have a radically different outlook on race and racism than our fore-parents.

Is racism in America completely dead? Of course not, and it never will be. So long as people are sinners and different, some will choose to sin by elevating their differences over others. All ethnic groups will experience this evil. But racism as an institutional evil perpetrated by Whites primarily against African Americans is a relic of the past. If this were not true, then we would not be celebrating this first black President-elect today.

The task now, and my prayer is, that for my African American brothers and sisters, (1) we take steps to consciously help close the door to a painful chapter in America’s history, (2) we stop fighting the ghost of past white-only forms of racism, and (3) we take the responsibility upon ourselves to work with White and other Americans.

And for my Christian brothers and sisters, we must affirm that God has only made one race—the human race—and we need to model for the rest of America the task of bridging the cultural divide caused by four centuries of racism. This is a critical hour for our nation and the world. If you, like I, believe that the church plays the most critical role in the revival of our nation or its demise, then we must embrace the task of uniting the church, for together we’ll stand or divided we’ll all fall.

Robert S. Scott, Sr. is the pastor-teacher of Los Angeles Community Bible Church and general editor of Secret Sex Wars: A Battle Cry for Purity

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