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WONDERS AND SIGNS

September 7, 2008 - Ray Hall (Archive)
Certain purveyors of the Christian Faith often use naturally occurring events as signs and wonders from God. Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Oral Roberts and Pat Robertson at one time or another affirmed their standing with God by declaring earthquakes, floods and disease as signs of God’s wrath. Sometimes, however, they really seem to misread the signs. Consider John Hagee’s remarks on Hurricane Katrina: “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that." [NPR Fresh Air, 9/18/06] (Note: Sorry--I left this off my posting earlier today.)

Acts 2:22: “Ye men if Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders and signs…”

Mark 16:20: “And they went forth and preached everywhere, confirming the Lord with signs….”

Once after I had preached a sermon about how we can defile the temple of God by continuing to do things that harm the body, a congregate and heavy smoker approached me and angrily demanded to know where in the Bible was it mentioned that cigarettes were sinful?

I told him that he was correct; the Bible didn’t mention anything about cigarettes being sinful. That message, I told him was written right on the pack. He had missed one of the signs.

I mention this because the conservatives that drive the Republican Party were first to introduce the “family values” argument, shorthand for “fundamentalist Christian values,” into the political arena. Peculiar as it is, many Republicans are not fundamentalist Christian and many intellectual conservative scholars are not even believers, but the Republican faithful remain silent and embrace a winning wedge issue. I don’t know if many people caught it, but the holiest of the Holy Roller groups, James Dobson’s group, produced a video encouraging prayers for rains of biblical proportions that would wash out Barack Obama’s Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. Oddly enough, it was the Republican Party convention that was truncated by the weather. Was a biblical sign ignored, or was another hurricane hitting New Orleans just another weather phenomenon during the opening of the Republican convention?

Are there any doubts that the Holy Rolling right would have prayed for plagues of Mosaic proportions upon the Clintons if Chelsea Clinton had become pregnant in the White House? It was only after the pending Palin marriage was announced and absent the usual “abstinence only” abominations that the Holier than Thou crowd quickly closed ranks with the McCain campaign and decreed situation normal. The couple was dutifully paraded before the cameras and introduced as “high school sweethearts” despite the glaring signs that a teenage marriage might not be the wisest course.

The most common characteristic of youthful marriages is the fact that they have a higher failure rate than any other age group. The Center for Law and Social Policy reports that “compared to girls who marry later, teenage brides have less schooling, less independence, and less experience of life and work.” Studies also show that teenage brides are more likely to suffer abuse and live in poverty. Was a biblical sign ignored, or were two teenagers unprepared to cope with raging teenage hormones that a high school sexual education class might have provided? Did the parents really have the best interests of their daughter in mind by embracing this marriage?

However, the story of the Palin girl and the Republican Party Platform that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman (the anti-gay marriage plank) reminds me that Republicans seem more concerned with the ritual of marriage than the quality of marriage.

Ironically enough, only two prominent Republicans have spoken out against a member of the rightly religious. Barry Goldwater criticized Jerry Falwell for his opposition to the appointment of Sandra Day O’Conner to the Supreme Court. John McCain had harsh words for Falwell during the 2000 campaign, but he later repented. While I am sermonizing allow me to close with the following passages: Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders…”

Matthew 11:20: “Then he began to unbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not…”

 
 

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