In 4 min. or less, Alan answers questions about abortion, pornography, and pride.
- Does the “all dead children go to heaven” doctrine inadvertently make abortion agreeable? Wouldn’t murder give them Eternity?
- Should Christians push to make pornography on the internet (with consenting adults) illegal or should we keep the current laws?
- Is it prideful for Christians to say they are proud of something or someone?
Melinda: Hello there, I’m Melinda the Enforcer. This is #STRask, STR’s short podcast. Excuse me, I’m still getting over a little bit of a cough so every once in a while when I start talking I sort of end up choking. I’m here not with Greg Koukl, who is yet again away fishing, I’m here with Alan Shlemon.
Alan: How’s it going?
Melinda: Pretty well. Nice to have you here. Do you like fishing?
Alan: I think I would enjoy it. I don’t normally do it.
Melinda: That’s good.
Alan: I was just taken up to a fishing place recently, but I actually went up and decided to do photography and hiking instead.
Melinda: I was going to say, you’re a photographer and you like to take pictures of birds.
Alan: Yeah, I was actually just at Summit. Some of the people there that work at Summit have access to a fishing place, a private fishing place for trout. They took me there, but there was a bald eagle’s nest. I hiked up the mountain and was able to get some really great shots of some of the juvenile bald eagles in their nests. It was really great.
Melinda: That’s cool, if people friend you on Facebook they can see your pictures when you post them.
Alan: Yeah and on Instagram. Obviously, Instagram is more geared towards photos, but yeah, I put all my images there and on Flickr.
Melinda: You were just recently in Europe and you taught in Albania.
Alan: Yeah, I was just in Albania, the first country in the world to be declared atheist by its constitution. That was a very interesting experience to see the effects of communism.
Melinda: They’re still recovering from it.
Alan: They’re still recovering from it, yeah.
Melinda: Not just their economy, but the effects on the population, the culture.
Alan: Yeah, it’s like the church just began in like 1991 or just at that point they realized hey, you know what, we have religious yearnings and spiritual yearnings. Of course, there’s been remnants of the church there and of other religions before that, but obviously with communism it really stamped it out, discouraged it and kicked people out or killed them, who knows what. The population of believers at least amongst the protestant evangelicals is maybe 12,000, 15,000 max in the entire country, which is like the size of my church.
Melinda: Yeah, that’s true mega churches in southern...
Alan: Right, so it’s very...it’s had a huge impact on that population. They’re growing. What’s weird is the church itself is very young in terms of age. The church that I preached at on the Sunday I was there, probably 80 to 90 percent of them were in their 20s and 30s; it was strange. People in their 40s, 50s and 60s were really uncommon.
Melinda: Interesting and on your way there, you had what you called a stopover in England. All the pictures you posted on Facebook and all the places you went sure looked more like a vacation as opposed to a stopover to me.
Alan: It was a couple nights.
Melinda: A mini vacation in England.
Alan: Part of it was to acclimate too because, as soon as I arrived in Albania, I was preaching the very next morning. We wanted to acclimate because I was with a couple of other people who were speaking at some universities.
Melinda: The time zones and stuff.
Alan: Yeah, we spent the two nights in England to lay over and to acclimate to the time. Then when we went over to Albania the next morning, I started.
Melinda: Much easier, I know sometimes like when you’ve been down to New Zealand with Thinking Matters, you guys basically get off the plane and Rodney - I was just thinking within like two hours or something.
Alan: I know, we love Rodney, but man he puts us to work. You get a whatever 13-hour flight, you land, and you’re teaching. The day I flew back to the States, I was speaking on the south island of New Zealand. I was teaching there, then I flew to the north island, then I flew to Los Angeles, then I drove all the way to San Diego, it was a brutal day.
Melinda: It was a long day. Okay, well let’s get going on the questions. You know how this works. People send us their questions on Twitter using #STRask. Then I pose them to whoever happens to wander into the studio every week, and they get four minutes or less to answer. First question comes from CRBates1. Does the “all the dead children go to heaven” doctrine inadvertently make abortion agreeable? Wouldn’t murder give them eternity?
Alan: The quick answer is no because abortion is wrong in itself. Abortion is a serious moral wrong because it kills an innocent human being. Just because, even if it’s the case - and I know there’s probably Christians who have different views on this question, whether children, babies, and, in this case, the unborn are killed, do they go to heaven? Even if you say yes, they do go to heaven, which of course would be good, it would not make killing them a moral good. The scriptures are clear that killing an innocent human being without proper justification is wrong. I can’t go rob a bank to get money so I can give it to charity. Yeah, giving to charity is a good but you don’t use an evil means to achieve a good end. I’d say no.
Melinda: Okay, good. Next question comes from blackhorse1. Should Christians push to make pornography on the internet with consenting adults illegal or should we keep the current laws?
Alan: Yeah, the question about the legality of pornography here is a public policy question, a public policy issue. You have to consider, are there public policy concerns with it. For example, when I look at same-sex marriage, I would say well this is also a public policy issue, so we need to raise public policy concerns with it in order for anyone to even consider hearing us. With same-sex marriage I do believe it is a public policy problem in a sense that we know that every time you have same sex-marriage and a child is involved it will deny a child either their mother or their father or both. I think same-sex marriage harms children.
For that reason it harms the common good, it harms culture, it harms people. That’s why I voted for example against same-sex marriage when it was up for a vote in California back in 2008. This is kind of a similar question. I think obviously pornography is permitted and it’s plentiful on the internet and elsewhere. My concern with pornography amongst many, if from a public policy perspective, is that it harms people. It harms people in our culture. It exploits women, it harms women and a whole bunch of other things related to that. For that reason, yeah, I’m morally opposed to it aside from the question of personal consumption, of course, we would say from a Christian standpoint it’s wrong. I don’t think we should make or attempt to make every sin prohibited by law.
For example, we talked about again going back to same-sex marriage, should we allow men to have sex with other men in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Well of course we would say that biblically-speaking that’s a moral wrong, it’s a sin. I don’t think it’s practical or worth spending our energy trying to make that illegal because then you’re going to have to have incredible amounts of resources devoted to the police trying to peer into people’s bedrooms. Not that it’d be exactly that way, but whatever, it would be practically impossible.
I’m generally okay with the idea that we should, the government should, largely stay out of people’s bedrooms. When it comes to pornography, the problem is that by allowing pornography to continue it creates this massive industry, which in turn encourages more people to take up participating in the pornography. That in itself, I think, harms women and people. I think that we should be opposed to it. I think if it comes up for a vote, I would vote against it, but I also don’t know how much we should take our time trying to fight something like that. It’s hard to imagine pornography would ever be overturned.
Melinda: Yeah. It’s almost putting the genie back in the bottle; it’s hard to imagine.
Melinda: That’s why when people are very quick to sometimes want to legalize certain things and, actually, even like same sex marriage, how quickly in the end it sort of came about, a lot of us will say, well, wait a minute, let’s take some time to consider what the possible outcomes could be because once you let that genie out, it’s probably not going back in.
Alan: Yeah, once you give people certain rights or entitlements, it’s really hard to take them away then. While, if a law came up, I would vote against pornography of course, I don’t know how much energy and time we should spend trying to fight that. I think we should probably try to get people to accept the gospel and then hopefully be convicted by personal use of it. At least in the church, from what I hear, from my friends who study this question, pornography is a massive problem. That, to me, is where a lot of energy needs to be spent right now. Again, if a law comes up, say, hey, we should reduce how much pornography is out there or whatever, or some kind of law that limits it, I’d be for that and I’d be against it, yeah.
Melinda: I know pornography has been justified legally as being protected under the first amendment. I think actually the majority of it falls under the commerce clause because it’s actually business.
Melinda: They’re not just giving this, a lot of it’s not just being given away. It’s a huge money making thing. Here in southern California with the valley, it’s a big industry. Even in Los Angeles we’ve had things on the ballot having to do with safe sex because it is such a big industry in Los Angeles. It’s like I can’t believe we have to vote on some of these things. This is actually commerce and therefore it can be, it should, I think it properly should and can be in principle regulated by the government like you said. Practically speaking, at this point, whether it can be is a whole different question.
Alan: Right but that’s why I think I’d be opposed to it or be opposed to pornography and for a law that prohibits it or limits it because, by having it a commerce issue, then it creates incentive and there’s people are interested in participating in it because it’s means of income and all these things. I wouldn’t want to promote that. If I have an opportunity to inhibit it I would.
Melinda: I know Josh McDowell the last several years has been doing a lot of work, research in trying to make the church aware of the pervasiveness and the harm of pornography. People want to get a lot of information. I think he’s got something new coming out in a few months. He commissioned a new study and he’s got a new book or some other resources coming out but Josh McDowell.com or Josh.com I think is his website. I just heard him talking about it a little bit last week.
Alan: Sean, his son, also does a lot of speaking on that as well.
Melinda: Yeah, they’ve worked together on that.
Alan: It’s definitely needed.
Melinda: Two points that Josh made last week listening to him talk about it is first of all, every single pastor should be aware of this and talking about at church because guaranteed there’s somebody in every church and more than one person in every church involved in pornography. Secondly, he said from early stages we have, the church and parents, have to be talking about a positive model of what healthy sexuality and marriage and relationships look like so that kids - you know, it’s like we talked about, a lot of other cases, kids have a picture of what’s good and beautiful and true so they can spot the fraud and the thing that corrupts it, pornography.
Alan: Yeah, absolutely.
Melinda: Okay next question. Is it prideful for Christians to say they are proud of something or someone?
Alan: You know when I hear that question I think of saying something like I’m really proud of my son for doing x. I think it depends on a number of things and how you define prideful to say I’m proud of something. For example, as I was thinking about the question, I was recalling a recent event where my son and I - my whole family, actually - we were with some people that we don’t know well, but we were with them in the car. My son had behaved, well, let’s just say poorly. I don’t want to say exactly what he did.
It was really embarrassing for us as a family and it was uncomfortable for the people that we were with because they don’t know us and you don’t want someone else’s kid just doing and saying inappropriate things. After the day was over, just as we were leaving, now my son had cooled off by the end of the day. Nevertheless as we started to leave, my son on his own, said to them, said to this family that we didn’t know very well, he said, hey, you know what, I just want to say I’m sorry for the way I was at the beginning of the day. That was a big deal, again probably a lot of you don’t know my son. That was a big deal because typically my son is resistant to acknowledging he’s done wrong and saying I’m sorry. He on his own did that. I later on told him, I was really proud of you.
The woman actually emailed us and said, hey, I just want to let you know we were really proud that your son said that. That was really big of him. When I say that I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong, I’m happy and pleased to see that my son made a good decision. Now are there situations where pride could be a sin cause clearly pride is a sin in the bible, of course, there’s definitely places. I think maybe a couple examples would be one where we believe that we are fully responsible. Well, if I was to say it’s all because of me, I’m the one who has created my son to be this way, which I know is not the case.
Melinda: You’re going to take the blame too?
Alan: Yeah, I know that’s right there’s certainly a lot of things that he’s done that I know, that are bad that he’s picked up from me. If you’re going to take pride for something, you better take the responsibility for all the bad things. I think if that’s the case or in the case where we see God’s worked to have your pride disqualify or downplay the work that God’s done in something, I think that could be problematic. I think if we have a certain amount of pride about something that prohibits us from then turning to God for help because we believe that we can do this on our own efforts, I think that can be also sinful and problematic. There’s clearly examples where pride or being proud of something could be sinful and problematic. I don’t think every case is. I think just thinking about the example where my son did that and for me to be, hey, I’m really proud of you, and to say that to him and to feel that way, I don’t think there’s anything illegitimate about that.
Melinda: Years ago back in the 80s, Greg had a sermon he did called humble and proud of it.
Alan: Yeah, I remember.
Melinda: I wondered if you’d remember that. He refers to, basically makes the point that pride is not automatically a sin. Pride and humility are not necessarily incompatible together because - I don’t remember which passage it is, but Paul at some point is talking about his humility and draws attention to it and says I wish you could all be humble like me. Obviously, he’s drawing attention to himself as an example of humility. I completely agree with you. I think arrogance and pride hide in us in a lot of ways that we’re not aware of. It’s not automatically bad.
Alan: Sure, yeah, and I don’t want to downplay how serious it can be. Clearly...
Melinda: Exactly, no, no, I don’t think you are at all.
Alan: Satan obviously was guilty of pride, which we don’t want to be like Satan, WWSD, what would Satan do. He’d be prideful and he’s reject God and say I want to be the head honcho of heaven.
Melinda: I think, I just think for our own, for appropriate self-worth, I think pride from our parents is really an important thing. I think about how often my parents through my adulthood told me they were proud of me for particular things. I have to say, sometimes especially I got older, I knew it. My mother would say something like I’m proud of you, like yeah. Since they’re both, neither of my parents are here anymore I actually think about that a lot. I’m just really thankful they told me that because I think it did give me the right amount of confidence. I think it’s important for kids to know that from their parents.
Alan: Yeah, I totally agree.
Melinda: Yeah, all right well thanks, Alan, we appreciate your wisdom and insight. That’s it for this episode. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask, usually two episodes every week. Coming up fourth of July there’s going to be one episode and one episode sometime in July cause Greg’s also gone. For the time being we’ve got Alan and so we’re going to have two episodes this week with Alan. Check back on Thursday for the second episode. I’m Melinda the Enforcer will Alan Shlemon for Stand to Reason.