I've tried to read most of this discussion back to front - so if this has been posted earlier my apologies. There seems to be a perception that the majority of the people who are religious hate homosexuals or that they are afraid homosexuality will "rub off on them". There are certainly those who do feel this way, but I think they are the minority. As with most minorities who are vocal, they get the press and tend to make everyone feel the whole is like the part. I am pretty certain that God doesn't approve of their attitudes of the heart toward homosexuals. "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." comes to mind. I don't cast many stones. But His following admonition of "Go and sin no more" is frequently lost in the debate. Everyone makes mistakes. You shouldn't keep on making the same ones though. This particular group of people want that right.
Personally, I have never understood why God made some of the rules He did. The thing is, God doesn't care what I think about any particular sin issue. The only thing that matters in the end is what He thinks. He's been clear on this issue, recorded in both Testaments. So when it comes to the various branches of Christianity, I fail to understand why they are making some diversification and inclusive choices that they are making. The world will always count the cost of sin and do what it wants. The church is expected to try to live up to God's standards. It seems that lately, in the spirit of inclusiveness, we are lowering our standards to those of the world. There - stone cast.
God's isn't a popular opinion. Many of His rules aren't. But as I said, it really doesn't matter. Now, if you don't believe God exists, you don't care what He says. If you've seen His power at work first hand and know that He is real, you do care what He says. I'm in the latter group. Most here are in the former group - to read their comments.
Most of the laws attempting to exclude sexual orientation in discrimination aren't being promulgated for IBM and the like. Companies like this already have a diverse work force and policies in place to prevent any discrimination. They are not the issue.
These laws are being proposed, specifically to protect extremely small businesses - frequently sole proprietor style businesses - that might be 100% Christian in employment (1 or 2 people working there). A Christian shouldn't be hostile to anyone, but by the same token, if they are absolutely sure that God will condemn unrepentant sinners to Hell, they also should not be expected to make it easier for people to go there. It isn't that they don't care. In fact - it is just the opposite. They do care and don't want any part of sanctioning a lifestyle that they feel will doom the people involved to eternal punishment.
You are right that it isn't their business how their bedrooms are decorated. You're right that they might not have any reasonable say in whether a given marriage happens or not (although God's blessings toward a nation have frequently been based on how close or far away the people are from Him which does broaden these sin issues out to affect everyone - regardless of how limited the scope you feel a particular sin's effects to be). But Christian business owners or employees should be able to say "I don't want to participate" without fear of lawsuit or getting fired.
That is true for the owner of the facilities handling the wedding, the religious official performing at the wedding, the owner of the facilities handling the reception (if at the church), or those who provide food, music, or photography services for those involved. It only becomes their business when asked to participate in an event they believe God declares to be wrong. I am using the context of a wedding specifically because that is one of the few places where being homosexual in public is obvious. It really isn't in many other public venues that I can think of where a business would be involved. Maybe a dance studio. I'm hard pressed to think of many other places where a sexual orientation distinction would be obvious.
I suspect that even with protections in place, there will be Christians who will help out because they want to not be seen as being judgmental or know they would be hypocritical if they refused. But those who do want to refuse, should be able to do so. It is rare that there is only one caterer, one photographer, or one venue in town for a given event.
Unfortunately, it all does get back to believing in God. Even a modern day Elijah wouldn't have much luck trying to convince the world that God is - but it sure would be impressive! After the judgments start pouring out during the tribulation, Elijah and Enoch (my opinion anyway) are going to try from Jerusalem. They'll eventually be killed and resurrected after three days. Many will be saved in those last days - but what a price the world will pay.
That merely sets a penalty for a particular civil offense. It does not condone the offense. Don't forget the marriage and no divorce clauses in the same passage you quoted. It wasn't a simple matter of paying off the father. You are correct that most Christians don't have a clue what the Bible says, particularly the Old Testament.
Before Christ's death, souls were relegated to torment or paradise compartments of sheol - see Jesus comments about the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:20 and following). When Christ won his victory on the cross, he took the righteous souls to heaven (Eph. 4:8-10). After Christ's resurrection, the souls of the righteous who die go to heaven. At the 'rapture', the bodies of the dead whose souls are in heaven are transformed into some glorified body and reunited to the soul. Post rapture, the bodies and souls of those few who accept Christ and then die in the tribulation go straight to heaven (Re. 6:9-11). The wicked dead's souls remain in the torment compartment of sheol until the great white throne judgment when their bodies will be transformed to an eternal state, united with their soul, and judged for their refusal to accept Christ or God and then sent to eternal torment (Re. 20:11-15).
Souls are in the domain of God. Man's programming will never 'create' a soul. It may, someday, mimic a soul, and if so, I'd prefer it mimic the soul of Jesus rather than some other souls the world has known. But regardless of it's ability to do so, it isn't and will never be an eternal soul.
Sadly, television shows like Star Trek with their transporters and Stargate Atlantis with the wraith beaming technology have been around for years promoting the ability of aliens to cause people to disappear.
At least initially, this is likely to be promoted by the non-Christian governments that are left (either fully intact or mostly intact) as the most plausible explanation for what happened to Christians during the rapture (if that is your reference).
Only after the advent of more of the tribulation will it become obvious what happened to anyone who cares to look. The angel proclaiming the Gospel message to everyone left and warning them against following the anti-Christ will help.
Even then, most will reject the clear fulfillment of the prophecy uttered some 2,000+ years previously.
- It is unlikely that a journalist would be around to witness the miracle, much less record it for posterity. Not to say it couldn't happen, but the chances are low. That isn't meant to denigrate the religious status of journalists - just chances are that given the limited number of journalists and miracles - both being at the same place and the same time would be expected to be a rare event.
- For it to be widely broadcast, it would have to get past local editors and the chain of command both up and down multiple news organizations. I'm not of the opinion that God is in control of many of those chains of command, so I suspect that it would be suppressed. Not a blatant "We don't do religious stuff". Just a "That really isn't as important a news item as this... broadcast this instead." Or "You weren't there when it happened so it could be made up. Let's not damage our sterling reputation with our audience just in case it was faked." subtle sort of dismissal.
- News is served to a public that is increasingly against religion. It is less likely to be published for that reason as well.
- Many places where miracles are occurring are in more remote parts of the world where there just isn't as much reporting going on. As touched on elsewhere in the responses, people in developed countries are largely relying on science and medicine because it is available. Those in remote parts don't have that option so they have to rely on miracles. To be clear - I'm not a fan of people saying they got a miracle if they've been under a doctor's care (chemo, aspirin and other things mentioned). It is useful when doctors have diagnosed a problem and a healing occurs before treatment has started. I know of two events of this nature that occurred locally - one at our church and one at another. But they aren't scientifically repeatable things, so the skeptics dismiss them.
- Finally, the Christians themselves aren't very interested in spreading the word. You'd think they would be, but in reality, nobody wants to be bothered or questioned or made to stand out for their faith much anymore. So those who are likely to witness miracles don't bother. They're tired of dealing with the skeptics and adopt an attitude of "If the miracles of the Bible didn't convince them of God's existence, why bother telling about this one." They figure that the miracles will be posted on the net by the organizations (and they are) so if somebody wants to look, they can. Why go the extra step and get involved yourself if its just going to lead to grief? Nobody wants to be persecuted.
Miracles still occur. It's just that too many skeptics are busy taking pictures, flying places and getting their news from secular TV's talking heads to notice.
All you have to do is do a search for miracles on one of the major Christian denominational websites. I just did one on the Assemblies of God website. You'll get many references to modern day miracles. Since you weren't present at any of them, you'll still have to take these modern day accounts on faith, just like the historical accounts in the Bible, but they haven't stopped occurring - and they have modern day witnesses of them who you could talk with if you were really interested.
I am pro vaccination. My point is that relegating non vaccinated kids to home school will not help the "herd" as kids interact outside of school.
The only solution I can see is to provide better information to parents who don't want to vaccinate their kids on the details of the diseases they prevent so they have better information.
I suspect you will find few private schools or day cares that don't have similar vaccination requirements.
Still, outright bans on attending school without vaccinations should not be the rule. The "herd" effect works there, just as well as anywhere else. If you have a high enough percentage who are vaccinated, you're probably OK. It's not like just restricting someone from attending public school is going to fix the problem with non-vaccinated kids. Those who are home-schooled or who might possibly attend private schools where there are reduced vaccination requirements will still interact with other kids - whether in stores, movie theaters, sports events or teams, concerts, dances, or just around the neighborhood.
My dad had polio before the vaccine was available, so I'm very much pro vaccination for anything possible. The problem is that in the United States, the effects of most of these diseases that we vaccinate against are out of the memory of the collective. Perhaps each new parent who wishes to forgo vaccination without a sound medical reason should be required by their child's doctor to watch a historical video showing the effects of these diseases in the past to help them understand just what is at stake so they are fully informed of the risks.
The school systems should also listen to the doctors. Our child's doctor recommends all vaccinations, but his preference was to wait until a later age for the chickenpox vaccine as its long term protection was still not clear. The school system required an earlier vaccination - so it won. I'm not sure that they had any medical reason for their policy. I would expect it was just - it's available - make them have it (school district bureaucracy being what it is). Only time will tell which was right.
It's all relative. You'd have to slow down at 75 or 65 at times too.
The distances between cities in MT and WY make all electric cars impractical for high speed interstate travel at their current ranges, regardless of speed of travel.
Evidence for the supernatural is present, both in historical records and events witnessed by those who are looking for evidence today. If you choose to believe neither the recorded history nor to seek out current events that might illuminate truth, I'm sorry for you. At the youth convention last week, one of the kids at the church was healed of a knee problem that had been plaguing her for years. No more abnormal movement and clicking when squatting down and now able to run without problems.
God exists. His promises can be depended upon. In the end, He will administer His justice. Forever is a long time.
Of all your bullet points, the only one that has any hint of truth is "The wealthy can call up government officials and get stuff done, the poor can't."
Everything else is - well - I just don't know what to call it. The poor don't benefit from transportation? Where do you think the things they buy come from? Very few poor have enough space to grow or raise their own food, just to state an obvious problem with that. The poor don't care if their house burns down? Wow. I just don't know what to say to that. The poor don't benefit from police? The rich hire their own private security. It is the non-rich that receive almost all the benefit from the police.
I care very much about right and wrong, thank you. Fair means that everyone has the same chance to do well. I do agree with you there. My proposal doesn't affect that at all either. All it does is guarantee that if you do the work and do well, you get to keep the fruits of your labor. Everybody does. Those just starting, and those who are well established. Believe me - those just starting will see far more benefit to that than somebody who has inherited billions. I don't expect to inherit much, if anything, from my parents. When I invest money that I have earned, and been taxed on, it would be really nice to not have another chunk of it confiscated. If I worked hard, went to college, didn't spend tons of money on wine, women, and song, then why should I have to continue to pay more taxes when money I have earned is put to work and makes more? Things like that are just as unfair as the entitlement social system you espouse.
I haven't talked about the government outlays much at all. I'm not saying that we should not help the poor. I'm not saying we should shred their safety nets and send them to poor houses. I am saying that governments at all levels are spending more than they are taking in and that needs to be balanced and at a much lower level. Whether social or military or other spending is reduced to make that possible is a completely separate discussion and doesn't impact how the government collects its revenue at all.
I also care very much about the future of the country, and firmly fear that the future is dire for my children with the rampant spending and entitlements that are being doled out. It is rapidly reaching the point where the percentage of people who vote and are beholden to the government will cross 50% (if not there already) and they'll be able to vote in people who will promise them more and more till we all go up in flames. The spending has to be reduced some way. This may not be the best way, but unless you can show me a better way to put the brakes to it with some of your favored tax plans, I'll stick with mine.
There isn't enough money scattered among all the rich of the world to cover the cost of the federal government for much of a year's operation - even if you take it all. There is no fairness to saying it is ok to confiscate one person's money over another person. That is simply wrong. The concept that the rich benefit more than the poor from government is wrong on its face. There may not be 100% equality, but it is far from being skewed to the extent you think it is.
Yes, I have. The numbers are large, but only under the assumption that nothing changes - that life in government goes on as usual. Since my family is bigger than 4, it would be particularly bad for me. My point is that the only way to change usual is to actually go to something like this.
Everything being bandied about where the politicians can carve out exceptions for the favored or pick consumptive rates based on how it would affect them will fail. I firmly believe that at every level of government, the spending would be reduced and reduced quickly and dramatically. That may mean that park and museum entrance fees would go up. It might mean that we give less money away to allies. It might really mean that we stop being the world's policemen (at least on our dime). None of these things would be particularly bad in my opinion. There would definitely be costs for service where there weren't before, but I happen to approve of people who use services being the ones paying for them.
Reducing prices (via eliminating corporate and sales taxes) would also mean that you'd have more money to work with.
I do agree that the transition would be huge. But ultimately, it would work. If government didn't change, there'd be a revolution much the same as when we broke off from England. Whether that is coming anyway is anybody's guess.
You forgot a simple head tax. One head tax based on your place of residence (or split among localities if you have more than one residence over the tax period based on time spent at each). There'd be one of these for city, county, state, and federal paid once a year. Pay one each quarter so they aren't all due at once. No other taxes other than severance taxes and perhaps excise taxes. No vehicle license taxes, no boat taxes, no property taxes, no sales taxes. Nothing else. No corporate income taxes. They really don't matter anyway as far as the corporation is concerned. They're charged off in the price of the products sold or the company goes broke. Every company in the food chain marks the taxes of the lower company in the food chain up to achieve a desired profit margin so they're especially bad. Just make sure that the taxes they no longer have to pay are taken out of the pricing structure as the taxed round of goods are sold. Apply the head tax without any age limit and make parents responsible for their kids taxes till they get to voting age.
Adjust each rate once a year to cover the expected budget for next year and how you did the year before and in some cases to try to reduce the existing debt to saner levels over some predetermined time period. Takes care of eliminating a lot of law, a lot of law breakers, and a lot of law enforcers in one fell swoop. No more grey transactions. No more figuring out ways to hide money. No real good way to cheat (although there might have to be a way to track the homeless or people living in motels or hotels or RV or campsites while working - still easier than the shelves of IRS regulations we have now.) Apply it to everyone permanently in the country (legally or illegally). It's foreigner friendly since foreign tourists wouldn't have to pay sales taxes.
Everything else is just hand waving and hoping. Until everyone - and I mean everyone - is paying for the government and its services, so they will have some incentive to actually elect good people to office who won't run the (fill in the blank for the level of government) into the ground by spending more than they are taking in and will reign in their over use of government services, we're doomed.
The more social engineering that people try to do to this basic premise, the worse off we all as a whole get. If you don't believe it, just look at the US real time debt clock. The founding fathers had it right.
Is it tough on big families? Yes it is. Is it tough on the poor? Yes it is. But it is absolutely fair. And for the record - I feel neither poor nor rich, but I do have a big family, and I'd still support it.