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The “Providence” Declaration – A Response to the Manhattan Declaration

Recently, I have come under “fire” for my statement regarding not becoming a fan of (on Facebook), or not supporting the Manhattan Declaration. First, let me say that I am not really against it, however, I am not totally for it, and therefore cannot, and will not, become a “fan” of it, sign it, or support it, and here is why.

To begin, three things, I am pro-life, I do not support homosexual marriage within the Church, and I do believe in one’s right to believe in and practice what ever religious views they want. I believe in these things, not because a government, in this case the United States, tells me to, or because a religious leader – whether they be the Pope, a bishop, pastor, rabbi, imam, monk, etc – tells me to. Rather, I believe in these things because of what I believe is the Word of God, the Bible, tells me in writing. Do I believe a declaration of sorts affirming these things is wrong, no. Do I believe it is useless, no, however, I do believe it is useless to continue to make statements toward a worldly government, and governments, concerning moral issues rather than strike the root of the problem, which is the brokenness of individuals, the fallen nature of mankind. I personally do not believe a written, or spoken, declaration will change the heart of man. I will grant, it is important to declare what one believes, as well as what “we” believe, to the world and her institutions, however, in my opinion, to do so in a political arena is a waste of time. Unlike what the declaration says, I do not believe all men and women are created equal, I do not believe the world equalizes man. This is evident throughout history. Only the Father, through Christ, is the equalizer – i.e. you are no longer slave nor free, etc. To declare that all men are equal is to base that belief, not on the Bible, but a contract document of a worldly government, in this case, the Declaration of Independence. Personally, I take no spiritual food from this, or any other such document, only the Bible and the fathers of the Church from the beginning to the present. Also evident throughout history is the irrelevance, due to the politicization of Christianity from the time of Constantine the Great, that the Church faces in regards to morality as a whole. Granted, there have been times throughout the history of the Church and the world where the prophets and apostles of the faith have been able to redeem, challenge, and heal nations and governments, however, these are few and far between. Again, should the Church declare with one voice the Truth, yes, however, to me, this should be declared to the people, both the lost and the saved.

In regards to abortion, yes, I am abhorred by the daily death tolls. However, I do not see this country (United States) changing her ways. Is this because I believe that the country cannot? No, it is because I see this country, and every other one as St. Paul did, ruled by forces, powers, principalities, etc of the spiritual realm. My battle, and our battle, is not against flesh and blood… i.e. governments, laws, but the spiritual forces which influence these. How then can we stop abortions? For me, the answer does not lay with getting laws changed or getting restrictions put in place, but in loving our neighbor as Christ has loved us. It is by speaking the truth, yes, yet, we must go further than that, we must go to the people. We must go to both the women and men who find themselves in these situations, we must love, show compassion, and most importantly, offer hope, just as Christ did. Christ should not only flow through us, and show through us, but should work through us. Speeches, rallies, marches are all well and good, and yes, they are intimidating and make people uncomfortable, but Christ never strove to intimidate or make anyone uncomfortable, he strove to show the love of the Father. He did this by seeking people out and by allowing Himself to be seen. Christ always seeks out the lost, the heart broken, the troubled, etc. Instead of working in Washington D.C., we must work, even harder than we do there, in our own neighborhoods, our own streets, even at times within our own house. If people in our own churches are having abortions, why would anyone listen to us to begin with. Laws will not stop abortion, that is also evident from the beginning of time. From the early Persians, Greek, Romans, Asians, Native Americans to the modern man, laws have not stopped abortions, and they never will. Only the love of God can stop these murders.

Marriage has existed before Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It has existed in every culture since the beginning. All though most major and minor religions have “sacramentalized” marriage, marriage has gone beyond a religious institution. First, I am against the Church blessing same-sex unions as anything, however, again, worldly powers may, and will, do what ever they wish. Again, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, governments or laws, but against those spiritual forces behind them. How can we expect fallen man to behave any differently, unless of course fallen man is redeemed by Christ. As noted before, the United States declares all men are created equal – therefore, whether you are heterosexual, homosexual, or somewhere in between, you are created equal, with equal rights, freedoms and liberties. Because of this, how can we not expect this country, or any other that values the same sort of beliefs that this country does, to allow homosexual couples to have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. To expect anything less, to me, is foolish. This country was not founded as a “Christian” nation, but as the first nation of the Enlightenment. Having a “morality,” yes, but not a godly one, but one of the world. In other words, having a morality that appeared and appears to be “righteous,” but truly having those same spiritual forces we have all come to love behind it. Does it bother me that homosexual couples could have or have the same benefits and rights as my wife and I, no. What does bother me is that some Christian denominations have given in to the progressive, post modern culture and have begun blessing them. Tol me, the fight is not begin with the government at all, or its laws, but within the very bowels of our own religious institutions.

Concerning religious freedom, again, I am all for it. However, we must be careful to ensure that this is not just a “Christian” thing, but a truly religious statement. Whether someone is a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, etc, we must ensure that these people are free to worship. Again, however, this is a personal choice, not one dependent on the government. To be free to believe what one desires does not mean one is free from persecution, it means one has free will, believes, and accepts what ever is coming, whether that be open worship free from harm, or martyrdom. We, as believers in Christ, are free in Him, not because the world tells us we are, but because we willingly sacrifice ourselves – our lives, to worship and honor him, as well as spread His Truth, Gospel, and Love throughout our neighborhoods, cities, states, nation, and the world. To be free means we must accept the fact that not only will everyone not believe the way we do… even to the extent that they will not be saved, but also that the nation we live in might not always, if ever, accept us, and quite possibly may persecute us or even kill us.

We cannot become dependent on a nation to be the moral compass in our lives or in the world. There is no morality in the world, therefore there is no morality in any nation. Morality, truth and love come only from the Kingdom of God. We must not be surprised, or even outraged, when the nations of this world pass laws or speak against the commandments of God. We also cannot be ignorant of the fact that we are in constant warfare, however, we must remember that the warfare is not against flesh and blood – it is not against President Obama, his administration, congress, governors, state legislatures – but rather against those “Princes of Persia” – or the United States. Only God can win this war for us, we, in and of ourselves, face an impossibility, even worse so than the United States may face in Iraq or Afghanistan. My answer is first, pray and love. We must “clean” up our own house, spread the Gospel. We must, in my opinion, stop focusing on the politics, the laws, etc… we must live the way we are taught to live. We cannot depend on this nation, or any other nation, only on the Kingdom of God and Her King, Christ Jesus.

JZ Holloway

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7 thoughts on “The “Providence” Declaration – A Response to the Manhattan Declaration

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful response to “The Manhattan Declaration” (the Robby George, Tim George and Chuck Colson one, not the “climate” one). I am heartened that some Christians are not “Christianists” and don’t believe in using religion as a cudgel to oppress those who disagree. I am a former Roman Catholic, now a Unitarian-Universalist (it took me nearly nearly ten years after being thrown out of the Catholic Chirch because my transsexual transition was “causing a scandal in the Church,” to find a theologically acceptable spiritual home). I take my “cafeteria-Catholic” Christian theological background seriously, and I have my own response to this Manhattan Declaration at my own blog – http://www.trans-cendence.blogspot.com

    My position on abortion is largely based on sacred scripture in which it is clear to me that ensoulment occurs at “birth and breath” and that the sacrament of baptism represents a “rebirth in Christ” rather than a cleansing of “original sin” (I’ve rejected the Manichean views appended to Christianity by Augustine of Hippo and others).

    I see abortion as an issue of women’s reproductive rights, and the choice, at least during the first and second trimesters, being solely a moral decision for the woman involved, and in all cases a medical decision made in connection with her physician. On the morality of abortion, there are Malthusian moral issues that apply as much as those that involve a respect for human life (human life is a continuum, but individual human beings exist between “birth and breath” when the soul enters and “last breath” when the soul exits. I could understand a legal scientific definition that adopts a “brain life” definition that runs from myelinization (roughly the 22nd week of pregnancy) through to the cessation of higher level brain activity, provided that in the third trimester of pregnancy, the life and health of the pregnant individual takes precedence over the life and health of the fetus.

    The analogy I use is with a house. The blueprints are not a home. The foundation is not a home. The frame is not a home. The enclosure is not a home. it’s not a home when the electrical and plumbing work is done, or even when the certificate of occupancy is issued – but the house becomes a home when the family moves in and makes it a home.

    With regard to civil marriage, I believe that mentally-competent, fully-informed adult human beings who are not under a disability (i.e., are not in a current and valid marriage partnership or entity arrangement) or under duress, should be able to enter into a legally-binding marital contract or create a family-forming entity. I believe that, as with business partnerships and entities, there should be forms of marriage contract and entity formation that allow for same-sex and multiple party agreements, provided all parties qualify. (I am not interested in a multi-party marriage, but I can accept the idea that it might be morally and should be legally acceptable to others)

    On the issue of religious freedom, I believe that people should not go into lines of work that interfere with their moral beliefs. A physician who is morally opposed to abortion should not practice as an ob/gyn (except in, e.g. a Catholic hospital that does not accept any state money, and which employs and treats only members of the Catholic faith). A physician who performs in vitro fertilization should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of the sexual orientation or marital status of the patient – and if there is a moral issue, the physician should find a different specialty. A pharmacist should not be a pharmacist if she or he has a moral objection to preparing and dispensing medicine as prescribed by a physician. The Manhattan Declaration goes too far with its support of “conscience clauses” and only allows for religious feeedom for Christianists and those who agree with them. In the “public square” it is not acceptable for intolerance and bigotry, even if it is a part of one’s religious belief. The Bible may well call for witches to be stoned to death – but I don’t believe it would be appropriate for Christianist vigilantes to carry stones to a Wiccan coven in the woods to follow their beliefs, or, for that matter, refuse to employ or rent to Wiccans, or deny them medical treatment or prescription drugs, just because they have a different religion.

    Robby George’s “morality” is not scripture-based, and his version of “natural law” is not based on the diversity of nature, but is deeply rooted in his personal prejudices, rationalized and wrapped in a Christianist cloak. The moral failure of the rationalizing of the authors of this Manhattan Declaration is apparent to anyone without a beam in their eye. (For a fuller response, visit my blog.)

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