Category Archives: life liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Pro-life: I Don’t Think That Means What You Think It Means…

My wife and I are pro-life to the core. It started with our intentional decision to hold sex until marriage, then to marry and have children that we would love and raise into adulthood, in the fear and admonition of the Lord. It extended to prayers for those considering abortion, and donations to our local crisis pregnancy center, Birth Choice in Jackson, TN.
One day in late July or early August 2013, Julie said, “We need to see how we can be more involved in pro-life work.” So I sent an email to the info email address for Tennessee Right To Life, which led to a meeting in very short order, followed by us dedicating the next year and 2 months to campaigning for pro-life Amendment 1. This state constitution amendment, which took 11 years to be approved for referendum and 3 additional years to appear on the ballot, erased a “right to abortion” that had been unilaterally decided by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000.
The amendment passed, and our State’s children and families are safer for it.
We Conservatives are often mischaracterized as being pro-birth, not pro-life. The reason for that is that we do not support big government initiatives that tank the economy, reduce wages, and promote dependence. Some of my earliest memories are of going with my mother to nursing homes and ministering to our elders on a monthly, sometimes weekly, basis. I learned to respect them and value their lives. I grew to join the ministry and become a counselor to at-risk young people. I counsel suicidal youth, many with severe mental health problems. Their lives matter, every last one of them.
The things government does, particularly at the state and local levels, have real-world impact on how families are able to provide for themselves. Declaring everyone “covered” at great cost to consumers and insurance companies does not mean payment will be made when you go to the doctor. I know people who found that out the hard way. My parents have changed insurers 3 times, and the out-of-paycheck amount for my group policy at work has gone up drastically. This impacts the lives of adults and children.
The price of gas and groceries impacts life on a daily basis, and both are about to go up in Tennessee, thanks to a fuel tax increase. They say it’s a net tax decrease, but it isn’t. We have been consigned to hardship, the likes of which we won’t fully know for a while, to make a slush fund a lot more slushy for politicians and special interests.
I believe with all my being that a person should not be discriminated against and marked for annihilation based on his or her age, development, location, or level of dependence on others. That’s what abortion does. I believe that people should have the freedom to secure their liberty and pursue happiness to the fullest extent, with minimum interference, in the greatest land on Earth. This is a place where charity and opportunity abound, where one may mess up, try again, and succeed. That is the Conservative viewpoint: cradle to grave, everyone should have opportunity, no one should have their rights infringed.
This land, however, also is now a land in which entitlement is out the roof and respect for the law and for others has tanked.
Allow me to ask- how is it that, especially in Tennessee, we have so many pro-birth elected employees, but so few who are actually pro-life? They want to make it harder to protect our homes, earn our livings, run our businesses, have vital services like healthcare, and drive up the costs of education, while claiming to be pro-life. I don’t think so. I know we can do better; I pray that we do.

What does “Conservative” Mean When We Talk About Tennessee’s Gas Tax Issue?

I can’t help but return to this quote time and again as I put together thoughts on conservative principles of government:

To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed… Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive. Justice Clarence Thomas

The Declaration of Independence declares our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Preamble to our U.S. Constitution states one of its purposes is promoting “the general welfare.” Interestingly, someone in a public forum once tried to pin that phrase to welfare in the sense of government providing things for people, rather than it meaning a general sense of wellbeing for every citizen.

These documents are essential, and each of them gives principles before fleshing out the manner in which those principles would be enacted. Whatever your principles are, you will act on those principles. And if the principles you profess are not backed up by your actions, then you must not actually believe the words that you are speaking.

In the gas tax increase debate that has been raging on in Tennessee, there is unanimous consent that our transportation infrastructure must be maintained to a high degree without incurring new debt. The two sides of the debate at this time each have their own merits, but there is a fundamental problem with one of those sides- the side that believes in our current state, it is perfectly fine to increase taxes.

We all agree to give up a portion of our rights necessary to create a limited government. Paying taxes is how you and I give up a portion of our pursuit of happiness in order to fund certain government functions that are declared necessary in the Constitution. Roads are among them as a matter of insuring the general welfare.. We expect our portion of a declared natural right to be used wisely and appropriately, and that any additional portion of our rights the government would seek to take would be well justified.

Such is not the case with the gas tax increase.

Many alternatives to raising taxes have been offered. They were all declined.
The government overtaxes the citizens to the tune of almost a billion dollars per year. But this is sacred money, not to be spent on roads, in the eyes of many in the statehouse.

The Senate approved an amended bill that lowers the amount of the tax increase, phases the increase in over the next 3 years, and cuts other taxes deeper than originally proposed. Whereas the Governor’s original IMPROVE Act was billed as “revenue neutral,” This amended bill is touted as “more-than-revenue-neutral,” because the cuts purportedly outweigh the increase on the gas tax.

Naturally, any reasonable person should get right in line behind this plan. But there is a problem. Government and her politicians are always looking out for themselves. It is only by the power of the people that government works for us. Revenue neutral is being presented to mean you and I pay less. What it really means is that the government takes in less.

The original IMPROVE Act was revenue neutral in spite of the fact that the increased cost of transporting groceries would be passed on to you and me. The IMPROVEd Act still lines the coffers of government, and as has been showed to be the case, can and will be used however they see fit.

It’s all our money until it gets into their hands. Then it’s all their money. The sacred money philosophy only goes one way, when they refuse to spend money we have already paid in that is not allocated in any budget, becoming a slush fund for university buildings that will not be named after you, me, or anyone we’re likely to know.

A tax decrease is warranted. Another tax increase is not. Tying the two together is tyrannical. It’s DC-meets-Tennessee. Clean up the corruption? Stop slushing the fruits of our happiness pursuits to float pet projects? Ok, then let’s talk. I don’t expect it to happen, and neither should you. Let’s keep talking in terms of liberty and principles of self-government, and let’s not stop telling our elected employees that we have drawn the line on what they can take.

Community organizers have their place. But the White House isn’t the place.

(image via townhall.com)

Because this is what happens when a community organizer is in the White House. Immigration is treated as an issue of social justice and not a policy issue with implications that impact American lives.

Community organizers are used to making statements about things they know very little about in order to get a desired reaction from the public. But that doesn’t work so well when you are are in a position of power such that making such ignorant statements may set your country back into the early 20th century.

Community organizers can ignore the clear and present dangers of radical Islam in the name of diversity and understanding. But American Presidents cannot, not without devastating effects.

I’m just an American citizen stating his opinion. But I am an American citizen who knows first-hand the way a social justice warrior, community organizing-type works, and who knows, as we all should know by now, why that type of person is not well-suited to ensure the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” of nearly 320 million people. “Hactivism” has no place, popularity contests have no place, and winning for your side has no place in the presidency. Because your side is supposed to be the American people, and when the American people lose, the president loses. Who is going to welcome Obama as a hero after he is done redefining American society for people who largely don’t want to see it changed?

Individual Right as Intolerance?

I was initially shocked and concerned when I read this tweet from a well-respected minister.

Same-sex marriage opponents who have jobs in all social fields are about to suffer huge consequences.

I am, after all, in a social field, a proponent of marriage, and an Apostolic minister.

Then I read the article attached to it. I am appalled at such action taken against an employee who supports individuals’ rights to have a voice in government, regardless of the issue or her feelings about the issue. This one statement really struck me:

McCaskill, who is deaf, used sign language at a press conference to express her dismay at the bullying. She noted the irony of the school suspending its chief diversity officer for expressing a diverse opinion: “I am dismayed that Gallaudet University is still a university of intolerance, a university that manages by intimidation, a university that allows bullying among faculty, staff, and students.”

“…suspending it’s chief diversity officer for expressing a diverse opinion.” That says it all to me concerning the state of the current society, where any expression of tolerance for the sake of tolerance seems to necessarily and fundamentally be a statement of intolerence. Try to wrap your head around that one.

If I must affirm my personal beliefs to my employer, whether it is my employers business or not, and face consequences for the same, so be it. I believe in marriage as it only has ever been- a holy union between one man and one woman. Because some things are not open to interpretation. Principles based on the Bible are not up for interpretation to me. If someone else believes differently, that is up to them. If I wish someone else to come to my belief, I can’t and won’t insult them, bully them, or label them. I’ll talk to them, listen to them, and explain my belief to them, to the extent they wish to hear. Then I will live by my beliefs and teach my children to do the same.

But if you want me to change, do me the same courtesy. You undermine your own purpose and my individual rights by becoming what you suppose to condemn- intolerant.

The Making of Strong Moral Boundaries

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Clarity- moral boundaries are first of all personal. So establishing strong personal boundaries has little to do with the beliefs of others. What you will accept and allow; what you are willing to do; how you determine to behave in certain circumstances; what you will teach your children: these are the things established by strong moral boundaries. They are individual.

The reason that making these boundaries is so important to me is that in an age of relativism, we are encouraged to not stand so strongly on personal morality, but to accept every way as valid. We are told that we have to accept ideas that we do not have to accept. And that if we personally reject ideals and philosophies that conflict with our sense of morals, then we are intolerant. None of this is true.

Strong families must stand on a strong foundation. And parents that are empowered to determine what they believe and teach their children are the best authority to establish this foundation.

The making of strong moral boundaries:
Strong moral boundaries are rooted in universal truth. Do you believe in right and wrong? Or is it all relative to different points of view? On morality, there has to be established what is right, and what is wrong. Even if you have to say to yourself, “They may not think this is right/wrong, but I believe it is.”

They recognize the right of others to disagree and live differently, without caving to those other views/ways.

They stand the test of time. Not to say that people do not change, but a strong moral belief by-and-large remains the same.

They actually dictate your behaviors and choices. Otherwise, they mean very little. I think this is a huge reason children choose to leave the morals parent have tried to instill verbally- they are not demonstrated daily.

Tension exists between a person’s moral boundaries and the world around them from time to time. The mistake is in thinking that tension is bad. It isn’t. If you are serious about your beliefs and think that they are right, you will influence great change by living with the tension in daily life with the right attitude, and maintaining the integrity of your moral boundaries. Your children will be more likely to adopt those same values.

Finally- value people as much as you value your morals. Don’t agree with their beliefs if they conflict with yours- but believe in them. That’s the cure for intolerance.

Moral boundaries- where do you stand? Where is the tension right now? What are the struggles? His bless you in your effort to do right!

Mourning the Loss of Moral Boundaries

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Assumption- if you have a strong sense of right and wrong, a code of morality, based in objective, universal truth (as you understand it and believe it), then you are biased.

Along with the former assumption- if you decide to speak out about it, you are intolerant.

There seems to be no middle ground. I think that has to do with politics being so entwined with morality these days- and politics, by definition, is about the two extremes of any view. Otherwise it would be called “centritics” or “middlitics.”

As a nation, I believe that at one time personal morality, those aspects of belief that tend toward people living together peaceably with respect for other’s rights, was encouraged. I feel like that was the case for a couple of reasons:
1. The basis of our national morality was that everyone is created equal with inalienable rights.
2. Everyone that came to America, from her colonial founding until now, has come seeking the freedom to live in accordance with their conscience without fear of punishment or reprisal.

Given our freedom of speech, we can each talk about our personal beliefs. And we each have the freedom to listen or to tune out. I feel that if you believe something strongly then you want others to know what you know, or at least to hear your case for it. But that does not translate to bias, discrimination, or intolerance.

This post, for me, is exactly what the title says- mourning. The next one, as in the past posts in this series, will be about making strong moral boundaries.

How has the diminishing of personal boundaries affected you?

How It All Stacks Up

Government- help secure and maintain my civil liberties and protect me from those things that would disrupt the general peace within the nation, state, county, and city or municipality in which I live.

Business- provide me with a product or service that benefits my life and that of my family at a reasonable cost based on the market value.  In so doing, provide opportunities for gainful employment and financial investment.  Add value to my community.

Community- live as people that want to work together for a clean, wholesome, safe place to work, play, and belong.  Solve problems and meet needs that are specific to our area and the resident individuals and families.

Church- be the body of Christ, the place where the Spirit of Christ resides and the work of Christ is done according to the Bible.  Attend to the spiritual needs of grace, salvation, righteousness, and holiness.  Take the proper position of helping individuals and families in need.

Family- love, care for, and teach children the ways of God, the needs of society, and the skills of living and working, through the work of loving parents and other relatives.  Promote the values and ethics that create responsible adults, who will be the leaders, business owners, fathers, mothers, and citizens of tomorrow.  Provide the material and financial needs of those in the household.

Self- be responsible to God for making the right decisions that make a difference in this world and the one to come.

Starting at the top of the stack and working down, none of these entities can solve problems or meet needs that are designated to the one below it.  Each can only provide the opportunity for the ones below it by staying in its proper place.

We live in a world, however, in which government, business, and the community are touted as having society’s answers.  These three only are valuable when the self, family, and church are strong.  The answers to some of the toughest problems in our society are closer to the home and the heart than we think.