Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Intolerance wears many faces these days

Last week Carrie Prejean, also known as Miss California, lost the Miss U.S.A. pageant because she committed the unthinkable crime--at least in Hollywood--of giving an honest answer to the politically charged topic of gay marriage.
"In my family, I … believe marriage should be between a man and a woman," she said. "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Prejean's answer was neither hateful nor intolerant, but for these words she has been subjected to a litany of media backlash. Perez Hilton, the celebrity blogger judge that asked the question has gone on nothing less than a smear campaign on his blog site. Even Donald Trump, one of the owners of the pageant, said her answer "probably did cost her the crown." It seems that Hollywood media is tolerant to everyone except for those who agree with the majority of the Americans, including--ironically--California, that the definition of marriage that has been around since the beginning of human history should remain intact.

What's happened to Carrie Prejean over the past week has been nothing less than a media lynching for failing to toe the cultural elite party line. It's intolerance. Plain and simple. I'm sure that many of my politically conservative evangelical friends are upset--and for good reason. So am I. But let's get real for a minute. Without minimizing Prejean's pain (nor her heroism for standing up for her beliefs), it's likely that the former Miss California will get a hefty book deal out of this and will be a favorite in the evangelical speaking circuit for a long time to come. Meanwhile, over the past week, two eleven-year-old boys have hung themselves because of the merciless taunting by their peers for the perception that they were "gay."

These two situations are vastly different in degree, but they're not so different in kind. On the one hand, we have a woman that expressed a religious belief with political implications and the agents of intolerance splashed the blogosphere with hate speech. On the other hand, we have two dead boys because their perceived sexuality painted them as the other in the eyes of many.

For the record, there's no evidence that Carl Joseph Walker- Hoover or Jaheem Herrera were actually gay, but not that it should matter. Just as racial bullying is socially taboo nowadays, so should sexual orientation bullying, but too often school officials look the other way when a child is bullied over perceived sexual orientation. Unless we want more young boys hanging themselves, this is going to have to change--and Christians should be leading the way in this effort.

Sadly, it seems that Christian leadership is lacking these days. Nowhere is the culture war more evident than in the two mostly highly visible faces of American Christianity--the liberal face and the conservative face. While most theologically liberal Christians would likely side with the Hollywood-blogger-induced smear campaign against Carrie Prejean, theologically conservative Christians are some of the worst perpetrators of hate speech against gay people--just ask any gay person.

Here is where the problem lies. On both sides of the so-called culture war the definition of tolerance has been lost. Both sides seem to think that the word "tolerate" equals "condone." But the very definition of tolerance assumes genuine differences in beliefs and practices. Jesus was the most tolerant man to ever live. His entire life and ministry was characterized by pursuing genuine table fellowship with tax collectors, prostitutes, and drunkards, but that doesn't mean that Jesus condoned extortion, prostitution, and drunkenness. Jesus didn't condone their lifestyle, but He did affirm their humanity. For Jesus, every human being was--and is--infinitely valuable.

If Carry Prejean is a true Christian, and I have no reason to believe that she is not, then now would be the perfect time for her to speak up on behalf of young boys and girls across the nation harassed by bullies at school because of their perceived sexual orientation. Carry Prejean has a national platform. Tens of thousands of elementary and middle school children across the nation do not. They suffer in silence. It's time that the world sees real Christianity looks like. While the body count rises, the clock keeps ticking.

Perhaps Carrie Prejean will respond. Maybe she won't. It's likely that Carry Prejean will never even see this article. So if we don't see an anti-bully campaign from the former Miss California, let's not hold that against her, because the important thing is not how Carrie Prejean will respond. The important thing is how will you and I respond?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How not to become a political junkie

My name is Aaron Taylor and I must confess that lately I've become a bit of a political junkie. Part of this is justifiable--at least to me--because I'm an author that writes about peace and social justice issues from a Christian perspective and if I'm going to be interviewed on radio or television (something that will happen within the next few months) then it would do me some good to know what I'm talking about. Even with this in mind, a daily diet of blogs, websites, magazines, and cable-news can be a bit stifling spiritually, so I think I've come up with a solution.

For my fellow junkies, here is what I recommend.

When you watch the evening news or read your favorite blog, turn what you are watching and reading into a prayer. This allows you to talk to God and to be a part of the action at the same time. Over the past few weeks I've prayed for the crisis in Darfur, victims of gun violence here in the U.S., wisdom for the president to turn around our struggling economy, the safe return of a captain held hostage by Somali pirates (a prayer answered!), and just about everything else in between.

When it comes to choosing between prayer and grumbling, which response is more likely to move heaven, shake the earth, and draw us closer to God?

If you said the latter, then I hate to break the news to you, you've become a political junkie and there's only one thing you can do to change your situation.

Repent!

A moving story

Here is a link to a great story I thought my readers would enjoy. I'd love to comment but I don't want to spoil the ending.

Enjoy!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A right way and a wrong way to help Jews

Below is an e-mail update I received from Terry McIntosh, a missionary to both Israelis and Palestinians. I want you to notice my response and his reply to my response.

Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics recently released data that showed there were 117,000 Jewish births in Israel in 2008.

The number of abortions in Israel for the same year is estimated to be over 40,000.

Thus in 2008, of the approximately 160,000 pregnancies in Israel, 120,000 led to births and 40,000 (one in four) ended in abortion.

We have long wanted to contribute to the cause of preserving life, but have not due to lack of additonal funding for the project. We have decided that lack should not stop us from being a part of saving Jewish lives, and are now committed to getting involved. We will work through an established and trusted pro-life community.

Gifts for this cause will be handled as usual. Otherwise, we will do what we can with what God provides in the general fund.

God bless you more each day.
Terry and Susan

Terry McIntosh Ministries, Inc. PO Box 766 Paducah, KY 42002 USA
www.usajourney.us


Here was my reply:


Terry,

Thank you for this. I'm glad you didn't throw the racial element in
this letter. I've read similar statistics by other pro-life Jewish
ministries, but then they throw in the "we have to keep the nation
Jewish" element by citing birthrates of Arab children. So what they
are really saying is we have to save these Jewish babies so that Arab
babies don't outnumber them, a very overt form of racism in my book.

Thank you for staying focus on true life issues.

Aaron


Below is Terry's reply to what I wrote:


Thanks, Aaron. Yes, our only thought is the preservation of life, not politics. The Christian need to support Israel politically does overbalance in almost every area. If the motive is political, I question if God honors it at all.

May I share your input with others so that we can be clear about it to everyone?

Terry


I wrote Terry back with the reply absolutely!

In my upcoming book "Alone with a Jihadist: A Biblical Response to Holy War" I take aim at Christians that support an agenda of racial superiority of Jews in Israel over and against their Arab brothers and sisters. I know in advance that many Christians are going to label me an "anti-semite" because of my opposition to Christian Zionism (a movement that seeks to help Jews reclaim the Biblical promised land by supporting the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and helping Jews return to Israel), but nothing can be further from the truth.

The fact is there is a right way and a wrong way to help Jews in Israel. The right way is to treat Jews like people, not like pawns in an apocalyptic chess match. The wrong way is to aid and abet a racist ideology that seeks to dominate and subjugate another people without giving attention to the real needs (both physical and spiritual) of the Jewish people.

Terry is doing it the right way.

May others follow his example.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Two Muslims come to Christ in Senegal--through stories!!

Dear friends,

Last week Rhiannon and I were in Hemet, California honing our skills as Bible story tellers. I was with Rhiannon for the first two days of the workshop and then I flew to Eugene Oregon to promote my book "Alone with a Jihadist" at the Society for Pentecostal Studies annual conference. When I returned to California, I was happy to hear that Rhiannon had shared a story and led a small group discussion. This was a big step for Rhiannon and from what I hear, she did an excellent job with the story of the floating ax head (II Kings 6:1-7). Way to go Rhiannon!

As one of the co-instructors, I got the chance to share the story of Mary and Martha to the entire group (Luke 10:38-42). Afterwards, a man came up to me and said, "I want to tell you that you did an excellent job presenting that story. And I ought to know. I have 62 education credentials!" I know that the power was not in my presenting, but in the story itself.

Another quick testimony: There was a man at the workshop who came from a church background that de-emphasized the miraculous for today. Growing up he was taught that Jesus did miracles only because He wanted to prove to people that He was God, not because of any particular desire on His part to heal sick people. But when the man heard the story about the one leper that Jesus healed (Mark 1:40-45) he noticed that the story says Jesus was "moved with compassion." It was then that he realized Jesus healed people because of His compassion, not just to prove to people His deity. So he decided to be like the leper in the story and He prayed to Jesus, "Lord, if you are willing, I know that you can heal my back." At that moment the man was instantly healed and he was able to bend over like he couldn't do before.

Isn't it amazing how one story in the Bible can undo an entire lifetime of wrong teaching?

Let me give you another example. This one really hit home for me. For those of you that have been following our ministry for a while you know about Jean Pierre, our disciple in Senegal. Jean Pierre has been working very hard as an evangelist in his nation, often traveling from village to village and sowing the gospel through whatever resources that are available (our ministry supports him on a monthly basis). Two weeks ago, Jean Pierre told me that he and a colleague were going to be traveling to two different villages to share the gospel together. I suggested that they share the story of Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11) and the story about Jesus coming to his disciples in the middle of the night walking on water (Mark 6:45-52). Well, just last week Jean Pierre wrote to me and told me that 5 people came to Christ from hearing these two stories. And two of them were Muslims! And then two days ago I talked with Jean Pierre on Skype and he told me that one of the men that received Christ is already sharing his testimony about God's love to his friends and his family.

Friends, this is real fruit, and I want to see more stories like this happening around the world. Henry Blackaby, a noted Bible teacher, says that when it comes to discerning the will of God for our lives and ministries,the best thing to do is to find out where God is working and join Him! Clearly God is working in the oral Bible story movement, and I honestly think that we're barely scratching the surface for what He wants to do. Which is why I'll be co-teaching another workshop at the end of this month in Lake Charles, Louisiana, traveling to Nigeria in July to teach missionaries working throughout all of West Africa, and then making a trip to Haiti (date not yet set) and another trip back to Senegal in October.

I'm also working on a model for radio and television, but that's in the very early stages right now. I've been working with Dorothy Miller, one of the most respected leaders of the oral Bible story movement worldwide. Dorothy has been working with me one on one to hone my skills and, to be quite honest, it's been very frustrating. I'm the kind of guy that likes to jump head first into things (ready, shoot, aim!) and Dorothy is a perfectionist to the nth degree--which is exactly what I need. I know that I'm going to need a lot of practice before I can take this to the airwaves, so between Dorothy's meticulous mentoring, your prayers, and some patience and perseverance on my part, I believe it can happen.

Thank you for your continued love and support.

Aaron

P.S. Some of you may have noticed that our Great Commission Society website is down. I'm creating a world-class website, (which will be found at www.aarondtaylor.com when its up and running) that will incorporate the details of the Great Commission Society ministry. For now, if you'd like to make a donation to our ministry you can send it to

Great Commission Society
P.O. Box 400
Arnold, Mo 63010

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A milestone--I baked my first cake

Tomorrow is Rhiannon's birthday. She'll be 33. Ever since we've been married Rhiannon has vowed to teach me how to cook. When Rhiannon was a little girl, she made a list of what she wanted in a husband. The list was strikingly specific. She even requested someone with brown hair and blue eyes. It's a little odd that I happen to meet every one of the items on her list except for one, which is a love for cooking (and/or baking).

I don't know why I've never taken this up. Perhaps it's because the few times in my life I've tried to cook or bake, they turned out to be disasters. I guess I'm still a little traumatized by the time when I had to bake something for my fifth grade class. I chose monkey bread thinking it would be easy. There was just one little problem with the monkey bread I made.

I accidentally replaced sugar with salt.

Ooops!!!

That was embarrassing.

Tomorrow we'll be going to Fuddruckers to celebrate Rhiannon's birthday with a few of our friends.

It will be the historic debut of my world class baking.

Please pray.