Larry Farlow

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Equality versus Justice?

Equality vs Justice

You may have seen this picture floating around Facebook or Twitter. Every time I’ve seen it posted it receives a bevy of positive comments and “likes.” But is it an accurate representation of justice? Most attempts to boil down complex issues to a bumper sticker or a meme fall short and this is no exception. There’s too much we don’t know about the scenario. I think by answering a couple of questions, we can show this is not a good example of injustice being rectified:

Where did the boys get the boxes?

How did the box redistribution happen?

First of all, where did the boys get the boxes? This matters. Resources don’t just appear out of thin air. Did they earn them (or buy them with their earnings)? Did someone give them to them? Were they already there? If the boys worked to earn the boxes, how is it unjust for them each to have what they worked for? Say they earn the equivalent of a box an hour at some job and each boy worked an hour – then each boy has received justice, what he was owed. If someone gave them the boxes how is it unjust for each of them to have what their benefactor provided at no charge? If the box fairy wanted one or more of them to have an extra box he could have provided that but he was under no obligation to do so since the boys did nothing to earn them in the first place. Finally, if the boxes were already there, again, the boys did nothing to earn them. None of them had a claim on any of the boxes, much less more than one of them. The boxes belong to someone else so they, in fact, have no rights to them at all.

Secondly, how did the box redistribution happen? Did the boys decide among themselves to share the boxes? Did someone force them to redistribute them? If the boys decided among themselves to share the boxes that’s great, but that’s not justice, that’s charity. Justice is giving what is owed, generosity is not. Forced generosity is an oxymoron. I pay taxes every year not because I have compassion for the federal government or am generous towards a bloated bureaucracy but because if I don’t they’ll put me in jail. Which brings us to the other possibility. If the boys were forced by someone bigger or stronger than themselves to redistribute the boxes that’s not only not justice, it is injustice. And depending on how the boys got the boxes, it might also be theft or extortion.

Bottom line, all the boys wanted to see the game but they did not all have the resources to do so. That’s not injustice. That’s just life. Not having enough boxes to see the game is no different than not having enough money to buy a ticket to see it. Is it unjust if one of the boys has enough money for more than one ticket but chooses not to give the extra money to his friend who is short of funds? Of course not. He may be ungenerous or stingy for not buying his friend a ticket (or he may just need that money for something else) but he’s not being unjust.

It’s great when we do things for our fellow man, sharing with them out of the abundance of the blessings God gives us. We should do that. However, let’s not confuse that with justice. Justice is getting what is owed me. If I work 40 hours for an employer who promised to pay me for those 40 hours, justice is getting what I earned at the end of the week. If I rob a liquor store at gunpoint, justice is the judge meting out the sentence I’m owed for that crime. However, in the normal course of life, I’m never entitled to the fruit of someone else’s labor. Again, I’m not saying it’s not right and good to share our resources with one another. But if we insist that equality of outcome be the measurement of a just society (which is what this meme is suggesting), we need to realize the only way that can be achieved is through forced redistribution, usually at the hands of government. And history has shown us that never works as promised unless the promise is that most people will be equally poor.

One final thought:

How is it just for three kids to see the game for free when everyone on the other side of the fence had to buy a ticket? These boys have cheated the players (if they’re being paid), cheated the owners of the ballpark and cheated their fellow citizens who spent hard-earned money to buy a ticket.

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The Real “Naked Truth”

Truth has fallen on hard times in recent decades. If there is one thing people in our culture want more than anything else it is to live in any way they choose – yet experience no adverse consequences for doing so. However, while we can choose to live in a way that ignores truth, we cannot choose to be free from the consequences of doing so.

I was reminded of this disconnect with regard to sex when I read a poignant article called “My ‘Naked’ Truth.” It is the account of a 59 year old woman who was rejected as a sex partner by the 55 year old man she met on the internet, and had known only a short while, because he thought her body was not attractive enough.

The woman rightly pegged the guy as a shallow jerk but what’s missing is a recognition of her own beliefs that contributed to the disappointing outcome. Sex, as does all of  God’s creation, has a purpose. Sexual intercourse is designed to be the ultimate expression of intimacy between a man and a woman and as such is reserved for the commitment of marriage. It is more than just a physical act, it is an act of both physical and spiritual oneness.  Phil Ryken describes it this way:

Sexual intercourse is the covenant cement that is designed to unite one man and one woman for life. But when sex is shared with the wrong person, at the wrong time, or for the wrong purpose, the wrong things get attached. After the bodies uncouple, souls are torn apart, and the best and deepest intimacy is squandered.

This woman was expecting to find the same oneness, acceptance, and intimacy in sex with a virtual stranger as can be found in sex with a life-long committed partner. It simply does not work that way. It is no accident that the biblical euphemism for sexual intercourse is “to know” the person. Sex, however, is the culmination of knowing someone, not the method of knowing someone.

This woman’s expectation that her short-term uncommitted boyfriend treasure her and be intimate with her in every sense of that word – in short, act like her husband – was just as misplaced and shallow as his expectation that his sex partners all be young and nubile.

God’s design for marriage, sex, everything is perfect. When pursued within the boundaries set by our Creator, sex is a wonderful thing. However, when we use it however we want, God’s design be damned, we should not expect to reap the benefits associated with its proper use. Truth can be ignored but the consequences of doing so cannot.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. – Galatians 6:7



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Does God Orchestrate All Things that Come to Pass?

Does God Orchestrate All Things that Come to Pass?

Does God orchestrate all events? By that I mean all events, not just the “biggies.” No Christian I know suggests God did not orchestrate things like the Flood, The Plagues of Egypt the birth of Christ, the crucifixion of Christ, etc. However, many balk at the idea that He orchestrates everything, even the mundane events of life for His purposes.

However, the Bible is fairly bursting with not only the teaching that God orchestrates all events but with examples of Him doing so. One such example is in I Samuel, chapter 9.

Just prior to this chapter, Israel’s last judge, Samuel, has become old. He’s put his sons in charge and they are corrupt as Eli’s sons had been a generation earlier. As a result of this and the people’s hardness of heart, they ask Samuel to give them a king so they can be ruled like the nations around them.

God tells Samuel to warn the people what that will mean for them but instructs him to give them what they want. We then come to chapter nine.

Several donkeys of a well-to-do man named Kish have run away. Kish instructs his son Saul and one of his servants to go look for them. Saul and the servant set out but have no luck finding them. They go from town to town, province to province, but no donkeys. Finally when they reach the district of Zuph, Saul suggests to the servant that they turn back. He’s concerned that his father will stop worrying about the donkeys and begin worrying about them if they stay gone much longer.

However, the servant just happens to know that there is a prophet in the town they are near. He suggests they consult with the “man of God” and see if he can help find the donkeys. Saul agrees.

As a result of all these events they are walking along the road exactly when and where God had revealed to Samuel he would find God’s chosen king for Israel.

Why did the donkeys run away? Why did Saul’s father send his son and not just some servants to look for the donkeys? Why did he choose this particular servant to go with Saul? Why did they take the route they took to look for the donkeys? Why did the servant suggest they check with the “man of God,” rather than just accede to his master’s wishes?

One one level the answer is because of the volition of the creatures, whether donkeys or men. They made real choices within time and space. But, on another level we must say because God orchestrated the events to happen just as they did. No differently than He orchestrated the birth of Christ and death of Christ at just the right times (Galatians 4:4, Romans 5:6). We don’t understand how those things work together – how men and women make real choices for which they are responsible yet all things that come to pass are the plan and purpose of God. But, the Bible consistently teaches both are true (see also Acts 2:23).

So does God orchestrate all things? Yes, and I’m thankful He does. If it were otherwise, we’d be at the mercy of the decisions of the creation rather than of the Creator and in whose hands would you rather rest?

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Presbyterian Church (USA) & the Golden Calf

Exodus chapter 32 is surely one of the saddest chapters in the Old Testament.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) & the Golden Calf

Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicolas Poussin c. 1711

God has done a mighty work on behalf of His people Israel. He’s freed them from slavery in Egypt through a series of miraculous events. He’s led them through the Red Sea on dry land and destroyed the army of Pharaoh. He’s led them into the desert as a pillar of fire by night and a column of  smoke by day. He’s fed and cared for them as His children.

But more important than all that, He’s condescended to communicate with them through His mediator, Moses. He’s given them His law and promised to be their God if they will serve and obey Him.

Now, Moses and Joshua have been called by the LORD to go up Mt. Sinai and receive further instructions from Him and the people of God have been called to faithfully wait.

Of course we know what happened. They did not want to wait on the one true God. They created a god of their own – one who would act the way they wanted him to act and let them act the way they wanted to act. So at the prompting of Aaron, their spiritual leader, they removed the gold earrings given them by the Egyptians and used them to create a false god, a golden calf, and began to worship it.

This week the delegates to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) removed their gold earrings and presented them to their leaders who fashioned them into an idol and proclaimed “These are your gods O PCUSA.” By a 3 to 1 margin, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to allow Presbyterian pastors [sic] to perform what they are calling same-sex marriages – essentially thumbing their nose at the creation ordinance of marriage set up by God at the beginning of time and reinforced by Christ in the New Testament.

Like the people of Israel in the desert, the PCUSA wants a god who will jump through their hoops. One who will always agree with them and let them live any way they want to live. Since the one true God is not like that, they did what people have done from the beginning of time, they fashioned a god for themselves who would act the way they want him / her / it to act.

Jeremiah speaks of this:

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water. – Jeremiah 2:13

Our lives in this world are not always  easy. Sanctification is a long and difficult process. But we are called to say “no” to our ungodly desires, no matter what they are, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives as we wait for the Lord’s return (Titus 2:11-14).  Homosexuality is by no means an unforgivable sin. But it is a sin. Paul makes it clear in I Corinthians 6:9-11 that there were members of the church there who had repented of homosexuality (and many other sins) and were now washed, sanctified and justified before the Lord.

By telling people they can have their sin and God too, the PCUSA is speaking “peace when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). They are leaving people under the wrath of God in order to worship at the altar of political correctness and cultural relevance.  Under the banner of inclusiveness, they are excluding people from the Kingdom of God just as the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day (Matthew 23:13).

I pray they will repent before it is too late, both for them and for those they are leading to destruction.





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Good For Thee But Not For Me

You may have heard about New York mayor de Blasio’s crusade against the city’s charter schools. People are rightfully outraged at his willingness to sacrifice the education of some of New York’s poorest children to pay back supporters in the teacher unions. This, they say, is yet another example of liberal hypocrisy. The left talks about wanting to help children but when they have an opportunity to really do so, they place ideology ahead of helping. And I agree with that assessment.

However, there’s another aspect of this story you don’t hear about: the complicity of the parents. It took me about thirty seconds to find the most recent New York mayoral election results on line from the New York Times. Look at the results by demographic and you find de Blasio received over 96% of the black vote and over 90% of the hispanic vote. Black voters especially have been voting as a bloc for leftist progressive candidates for the last forty years.  So, in a very real sense, they’ve brought this on themselves.

You see, the funny thing about progressives is they eventually get around to everybody. You may be voting for them to stick it to the man today but tomorrow you’re the one getting stuck. The mindset that demands equality of outcome regardless of merit, which drives things like affirmative action schemes, is now being applied to black children in charter schools – and their parents don’t like it when it impacts them.  Sadly, after 50 years of government programs that have not only not helped black people but made things worse for them, especially in the inner cities, black voters continue to support candidates who portray them as victims and assure them that success is just one more government program or redistribution scheme away.

I predict de Blasio will close the charter schools. Why shouldn’t he if that benefits him politically with the labor unions? He knows that at the next election he will still receive a super-majority of the black and hispanic vote if he’s got that “D” by his name.

For more on this situation, take a look at the video below. It puts a little girl’s face on this tragedy. I don’t know who Alise’s mother voted for, or if she voted at all in the mayoral election. But, I do know that well over 90% of the men and women in Alise’s neighborhood who did vote, helped to put her and her mother in this predicament.


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World Vision Jumps the Shark

UPDATE: World Vision in the US has reversed this policy as of March 26, 2014.

It’s one of those things that caused me to do a double take. The headline was “World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in World Vision Jumps the SharkSame-Sex Marriages.” Had I stumbled on one of those news parody sites like The Onion? No, this was on Christianity Today and the headline was real. Heretofore Christian ministry World Vision was seriously making the case that the best way forward for their ministry is to drop the requirement that those hired by the ministry must exercise their sexuality only within the bounds of a biblical marriage.

Their reason? Because, according to president Richard Stearns the issue of homosexual “marriage” is:

…tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity.

He goes on to claim this issue is no different than mode of baptism or women in church leadership, issues on which many denominations differ but on which World Vision has chosen not to take a stand. He claims it’s an issue of church unity – implying of course that those who take a biblical stand on the issue are contributing to disunity. This unity at all costs approach is what decimated the liberal mainline denominations in the United States over the last hundred years and I predict it will similarly impact World Vision.

But the kicker was this:

We are absolutely resolute about every employee being followers of Jesus Christ. We are not wavering on that.

Clearly then, in Stearns’ view, one can be a Christian while living in open and unrepentant sin. There is no other way to read that. He sees no conflict between a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and being proud of one’s sin, of flaunting it, of calling the God of the universe who designed sex and marriage, a liar.

So what’s driving this nonsense? My first thought was that they are cowards unwilling to take a stand on a difficult issue, but I think it’s worse than that. This is an issue of pride and self-importance.

Here’s the bottom line from one of their board members:

It’s a matter of trying to decide what the core mission of the organization is…

As with so many other para-church organizations over the years, their mission has become paramount, eclipsing the mission given to the church and to Christians. They see themselves and their organization as indispensable and the truth of scripture as dispensable in service to their cause.

Christian, if you give to World Vision, I urge you to stop. If your church supports them, I urge you to urge them to stop. This is a gospel issue. Either Christ calls us to die to self, repent of our sin and follow Him or He does not. World Vision says for those in bondage to homosexuality He does not. But the Scriptures disagree (I Corinthians 6:9-11) as do countless Christians down through the ages. Therefore, we should not support an organization that claims to be Christian but is committed to putting their personal agenda ahead of truth and of speaking the words of life to lost men and women. It’s as simple as that.





Socialism’s Dirty Little Secret

It is not self-sustaining.

As Margaret Thatcher said “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Like cancer, socialism needs a host.

In a revealing article called “Cuba Could be Venezuela’s Biggest Loser” from NBC news, Silvana Ordonez says:

Without Venezuela and its oil and subsidies, “industrial production, trade, transport, agriculture, and the whole economy would be affected dramatically. Medieval nights of the ’90s would return, with blackouts of up to 14 hours in some areas…

In other words, as Venezuela becomes more like Cuba, it becomes unable to be the socialist island’s host, propping them up with subsidies previously produced by a more capitalist economy.

In the United States, the host is the US taxpayer. However, as Thatcher’s quote reminds us, there’s a point at which the host is used up. As with cancer, when enough of the healthy cells have been consumed, the body dies. Given that  70% of all US government spending is now wealth transfer payments, I fear we are getting close to that point.

The laws of economics continue to hold sway, ideology notwithstanding. Universal socialism is an impossibility. For once everyone is socialist, there’ll be no one left to pay the tab.


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