February 16, 2016

North Korea Does Wonderful Things

by Jordan Standridge

Kim Jong-Il really loved the people of North Korea. In an incredible documentary called “Inside North Korea” he shows how he cares about the health of his people so much that when they were suffering from poor vision and even blindness, he hired famous cataract surgeon Sanduk Ruit to come in and provide free eye surgery for many North Koreans.

Of course I hope you realize how stupid the title of this post is. The documentary does an incredible job of revealing how crazy this situation is. The people are suffering from blindness because of malnutrition – malnutrition caused by the evil North Korean regime. Maybe the most fascinating part of the documentary is when the people see for the first time post-surgery. None of them thank Dr. Ruit, but each and every one of the “healed” begins praising Kim Jong-Il.  You could even call it worship. One man even declared his desire to please Jong-Il by killing as many Americans as he could.

trump and clintonThe fact of the matter is that North Korea does not do wonderful things, it does evil things, and saying that it does wonderful things not only is laughable but it is to ignore and lie about common sense. And this is why I am so disgusted with Donald Trump’s answer about Planned Parenthood. When challenged by Cruz on the fact that he supports Planned Parenthood he said, “Planned Parenthood does wonderful things, but not when It comes to abortion”. That is the equivalent of saying that Kim Jong-Il did wonderful things, but not when it came to human rights. Of course no one knows why and when Trump changed his views on abortion, but he once stated that he was extremely pro-choice.

I hear some of the ISIS people really spend a lot of time with their children, taking care of them and making sure their needs are met.  They also spend time training them to murder infidels so I wouldn’t call those things wonderful. Of course a company will try to expand its business in order to make more and more money. But the idea that planned parenthood does wonderful things not only is impossible but I think it reveals the fact that the candidate that said those words, is not going to fight for the end of abortion and is most definitely not pro-life. Planned parenthood is evil not only because it is anti-life, but as we have already seen it is completely anti-woman.

When sin entered the world all humans beings inherited a sin nature, and part of this sin nature causes us all to think more highly of ourselves, to be blinded about how much evil we are actually capable of and is already in our hearts. Trump’s statement is a reminder about the depravity of man. So many people struggle with believing that man is completely evil. Instead thinking that we are a mixed bag of some bad things and many wonderful things.

The Bible simply doesn’t allow for some type of scenario where a human being could be seen as good in any way, shape, or form, in fact, the Bible says that you can’t serve both God and Mammon, it’s one or the other. There is no in-between. Paul, after listing all his accomplishments and good deeds in Philippians chapter 3 states that he exchanged them all for Christ. He was willing to call them filthy rags.  He was willing to admit that they actually condemned him further since he was trusting in them to save him.

The fact of the matter is that not only is man not good in any way, shape of form, but our hearts are desperately wicked and capable of any sin under the sun (Jeremiah 17:9). I think that this is a reminder for Christians to stop minimizing the evil of man but rather to embrace what Scripture says about man’s state apart from Christ; that we have no righteousness (Romans 3:10) that there is no one who does good (Romans 3:11), that there is no one who seeks after God (Romans 3:12) that apart from regeneration we’re blind (2 Corinthians 4:4) and following our father the devil (Ephesians 2:3). There is no need for us to go out of our way and state how wonderful we are, but rather, like the humble tax collector, we would see ourselves for what we truly are, sinners, incapable of doing good, and incapable of pleasing God on our own.

I don’t know why I’m so interested in this election. Perhaps it is because I live so close to Washington D.C., or more likely the issue of the murder of babies in the womb has been on my mind a lot lately. I watched the debate with much interest since we lost a Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia who perhaps was the one who was most outspoken against abortion. The pro-life cause took a big blow with the death of Scalia. And if you are anything like me you saw his death as a huge disappointment. And yet it is important to remember that our hope does not rest in any human being but in our sovereign God who controls every human’s breath, and despite the world’s best efforts is currently and will forever sit on the only throne that matters.

donald trumpThat said, we continue to live in this lost world, and with our eyes fixed on Christ, we must continue to evangelize the lost. We must continue to be salt and light which means we influence our neighbors by speaking out against evil and by voting. I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for, that is not my intention in this post.  What I will tell you is that you should hate abortion with a passion, not because it’s a worse sin than others, but we have to remember that not only is it a sin that is not punished by our current government it is one that is encouraged, like segregation was for so many years, and that’s what makes it more evil than the rest, and why it should be the main focus of Christians when they check a box in the voting booth.

We could talk about the irony of Trump calling any human being a “nasty guy” or his constant use of profane language, or probably a million of other things, but I honestly couldn’t care less about those things right now, perhaps someone could even convince me that if Trump gets the nomination I should vote for him, but my concern is for the Christian who thinks that by voting for Trump they are voting pro-life and from my point of view nothing could be farther from the truth. So just as NK doesn’t do wonderful things, neither does PP, and anyone agreeing with this line of thinking either is delusional and completely oblivious to reality or trying to steal votes from easily gullible people.

Jordan Standridge

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Jordan is a pastoral associate at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA, where he leads the college ministry. He is also the founder of The Foundry Bible Immersion. You can find his personal blog at surrender.us.
  • Georgi

    Maybe Americans should start first to look on the evil things they are doing, before writing a post about a country we don’t know much about (apart our Propaganda). Looks like they are evil, right, but our “evilness” was just put in a different “light”, and it’s not better.

    • Jordan Standridge

      Hey Georgi, if you are trying to convince me that America is evil, you can save your breath because I already agree with that. If you are trying to convince me that North Korea isn’t then I think that we may have a different definition of evil.

  • Andrew

    I completely agree with your warning about voting for Trump. But your post assumes (I think incorrectly) that voting for president will somehow influence abortion’s legality/illegality. Previous evangelicals warned us to not be so gullible (see Cal Thomas’ and Ed Dobson’s book “Blinded by Might”). Dobson/Thomas expected Reagan to, as promised, do away with legal abortion – but he had no such intention. As younger evangelicals, we must not fail to learn this lesson from our forefathers. To put the matter bluntly: it is false to assume that voting is a meaningful political act for Christians. Might it not be better to see the whole discussion about “who to vote for” as a temptation to turn away from the real political tasks that Scripture explicitly requires of us (i.e., going to church; giving money to construct ‘women’s care centers’ in poor neighbourhoods; taking lower salaries to be a nurse/doctor in a lower income area; marching at PP clinics to offer support for mothers tempted to abort; etc.)?

    • Jordan Standridge

      Thanks for your comment Andrew. Thanks for the opportunity to clarify, I would say that God doesn’t need us in any of this and can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. I think you would agree though that if we had 9 Scalia’s on the supreme court for the last 40 years, that abortion would probably be illegal today right? By the way, don’t take this post “as a warning about voting for Trump” all I am saying is, to the many Christians who think that by voting for Trump they are voting pro-life, I think nothing could be farther from the truth.

    • Daniel Leake

      I would encourage you to research the executive actions Obama took on his first day in office (and conversely those George W. Bush took on his first day). Bush ended billions in funding for overseas abortions on day 1, and Obama reinstated that funding on day 1. So to say that the person occupying the White House has no effect on abortion is factually false. Further, no one could have predicted what has happened on the Supreme Court these last 30-40 years. As Jordan points out, abortion could just as easily be illegal if the supreme court had more ‘originalist’ judges (at least it could be illegal in most states).

      It is frustrating that this common refrain about elections not affecting abortion fails to account for the fact that supreme court nominations are for life (while presidents for at most 8 years), no one knows when a vacancy will occur (i.e. Scalia dying a couple days ago), and no one knows when court cases will be brought that pertain to particular issues. Further, the veto power of the president has absolutely affected whether or not the congress will take up issues pertaining to abortion. Once again, to say that the president has no impact on this betrays a fairly superficial understanding of the process.

      • Andrew

        Many thanks for these two thoughtful responses. Jordan: those like Ed Dobson & Cal Thomas who were involved in founding the moral majority discovered that they were “used” by the democratic system, and I was simply registering that your post did not anywhere show an awareness of this possibility. (Btw, have you read “Blinded by Might”?) I think we need to pay attention to political acts that the Scripture expressly talks about (giving to the poor, attending church, etc.) rather than trying to argue that our vote can somehow be a meaningful political act in the Christian sense. Daniel: I have a question for you. Would it be more effective to put PP out of business by providing better pro-life medical care in poor neighbourhoods…or to throw our emotion/energy into presidential politics with the hopes of electing supreme court justices that declare their work illegal?

        • Jeff Schlottmann

          I’m just curious…why would no abortion mean no healthcare for women? Is the killing of babies the only kind of healthcare that women want (according to abortion advocates)? That always seems to be the argument (if you take away abortion, you take away women’s healthcare). There is a women health clinic that my wife used to go to. It wasn’t an abortion clinic. It was just a medical facility for women, no matter their financial status. I’m pretty sure that if planned parenthood got shut down, women will still be able to find medical treatment.

        • Daniel Leake

          Hey Andrew. I appreciate your interaction as well. Now to my strong opinions:)

          It’s pretty arbitrary to say that votes don’t matter before the Lord. They matter as much as anything matters; that is, in proportion to their significance (which is pretty subjective). If votes don’t matter, then do you follow the logical conclusion that living under a dictator is the same as living under a democratic-republic? If you do see a difference, then you fundamentally agree with the ‘principal’ that votes do matter, though we may disagree on the ‘extent’ to which any particular vote matters.

          I had a Bible study with some friends at ChickFilA this morning. I would not have been able to do this in public in a large percentage of the world. Votes matter!

          What you’ve done on the PP issue is changed the subject. You’re asking “Would it be more effective?” That question is appropriate at some point along the discussion, but the conclusion to it is almost always speculative in nature. For example, is it more effective to try and reason with a fool, or to ignore him? According to Proverbs, it depends.

          In the case of PP, why keep from taking an action that will work, just because another action may be more “effective”? As a relevant example, here in Texas we recently mandated that abortionists have rounding privileges at hospitals within a certain mileage. This effectively closed all but 6 or so abortion clinics in the state. Wouldn’t it be more “effective” to simply make abortion illegal? Sure, but it won’t happen. We took the action we could. Further, isn’t closing abortion clinics more effective than standing outside one and trying to share the gospel with people going inside? Who’s to say? Why not just do what you can?

          I reject the idea that just because you could do something more “effective”, means you should never do something less “effective”. This thinking is internally inconsistent and will lead one to some pretty strange conclusions. Rather, let us do whatever we are able to, and pray that God uses it.

          Regarding the issue of access to healthcare by poor women, I decreasingly feel compelled to argue this because it seems like such an absurd argument. Everyone in this country has access to a base level of healthcare. It is just plain false that PP is needed to provide this access. They don’t even provide a meaningful percentage of healthcare in this country (outside of abortion). Furthermore, if murder is bad, then how much “healthcare for the poor” offsets this evil?

          • Andrew

            Jeff & Daniel: thank you so much for your thoughtful responses. I’m being reminded of good things through your comments and am finding it a helpful exchange. The following comments relate only to abortion, but we could carry out such a discussion on any number of other pressing issues.

            Jeff, my understanding is that in many poor communities (I’ve heard it’s > 100), PP is the only option for women’s healthcare. Do you think that is right? If so, shouldn’t we as evangelicals see it as our FIRST priority to put a pro-life medical care option for poor women in every such neighbourhood? The presence of pro-life clinics would effectively end abortion and would provide care for the poor women. But isn’t pro-life healthcare to poor women needed, whether abortion is legal or illegal?

            Daniel: Two quick questions. First, I hear you arguing that our only responsibility to poor, single pregnant mothers is to make it illegal for them to kill/abort their babies. Have I heard you right? I would strongly disagree that Obamacare now fulfills our responsibility to impoverished pregnant women. Second, I hear in your comments a general optimism that presidential candidates will do what they have promised. I mentioned above that the founders of the Moral Majority discovered that Reagan could have decisively ended abortion. As a mentor of mind once said, love believes all things, but love need not be naive. So how do we keep from being naive? [My answer to these two questions: 1) yes, Scripture requires more of us than stopping them from killing/aborting – we have a responsibility to provide pro-life healthcare; 2) we shift our hopes from the efficacy of “voting conservative” to local efforts through our churches to care spiritually & physically for poor mothers.]

          • Alex

            Andrew, I find it interesting that in one part of your comment you commend us to believe that “love need not be naive.” But earlier you said that “the presence of pro-life clinics would effectively end abortion.” If you think that the reason mothers abort their children is a lack of care options, I believe that is naive. Of to put it more plainly, does the lack of pro-life healthcare options lead women to seek treatment at PP? Yes. Is PP likely to encourage women to seek abortion at their clinic? Yes. But even with readily available healthcare options, women who are seeking an abortion will still choose the facility that affords that opportunity.

            I think your heart is in the right place regarding the desire to supplant PP facilities with pro-life facilities. (One might wonder if the reverse ratio would already exist in poor communities if elected officials removed federal funding from PP.) But I think your order of operations is misplaced. When I was in the Marine Corps, we were taught the basic lifesaving steps in first aid: stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound, treat for shock. The idea was that it didn’t matter if you were doing an excellent job of bandaging the broken hand, if the guys was bleeding to death from his leg. Address the immediate, urgent concern first, and then transition to the next step. The first lifesaving step in the abortion fight is to stop the bleeding by making abortion on demand illegal and ending PP.

          • Andrew

            Alex, you make a tremendous point. I overstated my point. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I am grateful for blogs like this where a comment thread can sharpen my thinking.

            After reflection, I would now say that providing healthcare for impoverished mothers-to-be would probably end most abortions. I do sense that I have a more optimistic view of the morality of poor people than do my correspondents above – that is, I do tend to assume that most mothers-to-be are aborting not because they believe it is a good thing but because they cannot imagine a future in which they would be able to provide a humane life for their little one. Your comment made realize that there are some out there as well who abort PURELY for selfish reasons – you are, of course, correct that in such cases, only a law will be a sufficient to barricade such abortions. That far more poor women abort than middle-class women informs my presumption that providing pro-life healthcare to the poor would greatly reduce abortions.

            But I’m afraid I can’t share your optimism that making abortion illegal via the “supreme court” would somehow lead to the magical appearance of pro-life healthcare for impoverished women. I think we actually have to pay for healthcare for poor folks out of our own pockets. I see this to be a Christian duty.

            I love your analogy of providing lifesaving medical care. In your use of the analogy, the urgent thing is the legality of abortion. By contrast, I would say that the “immediate, urgent concern” is twofold: unborn babies AND their mothers. I’m always amazed that it takes some arm-twisting to get fellow conservative evangelicals to say that these two things must go together. Isn’t it the case that if we care about the unborn baby, we will care about him/her 10 minutes after their birth? And isn’t such care best provided by supporting the baby’s mother? If we only focus on the legal aspect, aren’t we in risk of failing to care for the child who is now alive?

            So, two questions for you: 1) Do you share my hope that providing pro-life healthcare to poor women would reduce abortions? 2) Do you share my view that we would need to advocate and pay for such healthcare, even if abortion is made illegal by the “supreme court”?

          • Alex

            Great comment. I love it. Thanks for the sincere dialogue.

            I might preface my response by saying, my lack of optimism about decreasing the number of abortions absent a changing of the law, is not predicated upon my inherent lack of trust in the “morality of poor people,” as much as it is based upon my inherent lack of trust in sinful people.

            In response to your two questions:
            1. I do share your hope that providing pro-life healthcare to impoverished areas would reduce abortions. It is certainly true that when the only option for pre-natal care is PP, a disproportionate number of women end up pursuing abortion. It is almost as if the saleswomen (I mean caregivers) at PP are actively presenting abortion as an upcharge (I mean solution) to the women who come.

            2. I do share your view that we need to advocate and pay for such healthcare, even if (and especially if) abortion is made illegal by the Supreme Court. Pro-life health clinics do not spring up out of thin air, they are created through the hard work and support of dedicatd men and women. We cannot pretend to be pro-life and then fail to “put our money where our mouth is.”

            Having said that, I would argue that perhaps one of the reasons why it is so difficult, currently, to operate pro-life healthcare facilities is because they are competing against a government subsidized PP, who maliciously promote on-demand abortion as a revenue stream not available to pro-life clinics. Let me take my analogy this direction: if I was a corn farmer, who refused to sell my crops for high fructose corn syrup on a moral ground. I would be hard pressed to operate a financially soluble farm against massive industrial farms who receive both federal subsidies and income from HFCS sales. It is, in large part, no different for the abortion industry.

            I believe that if we were to end federal subsidies to PP, and remove on-demand abortion as a legal revenue stream, women would recognize that the “care” provided by PP is inadequate and laughable. The resultant opportunity for pro-life healthcare clinics to thrive would be amazing.

            And I stand by the idea that the first priority is making abortion illegal.

          • Andrew

            Cool – thx for the correspondence alex. I do understand where you are coming from, though it strikes me as calloused to the plight of the poor. It’s so easy for us to say “abortion is wrong” but it is so hard for a poor woman to do what is right in some of these situations. I do wish that you and others would let the national politics unfold as they may – and instead channel all that pro-life energy into fighting for healthcare for poor women at a local level. I’ll leave it off here, as I think we’ve both laid out our positions and hopefully taken something fresh away from the interaction (I have: specifically, I really appreciate you pointing out to me that inconsistency in my thinking).

          • Alex

            Thank you for the kind words. May I also just mention that just as we cannot pretend that pro-life healthcare facilities will be successful unless we become involved and participate; so also will pro-life legislation require our involvement and participation. They are both good pursuits; they both help the most disenfranchised among us; and they both protect life. I intend to provide my support to both in as much measure as I have available. That includes supporting candidates politically, and giving time and resources locally.

          • Jason

            Some officials haven’t just stopped at funding only one side of the discussion either: http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/11/new-california-forces-pro-life-pregnancy-centers-to-advertise-abortions/

  • GinaRD

    I tweeted something just like this yesterday morning (comparing PP to NK)! Jinx! 🙂

  • fundamentals

    You stepped in it today, Jordan. You can present the truth of God’s Word without mentioning political candidates.

    • Daniel Leake

      Hello “fundamentals”. It’s interesting you mention that Jordan ‘can’ present the truth without mentioning political candidates. The fact is that he ‘could’, but he didn’t. And you would be hard-pressed to find any Biblical reason this is a problem.

      It is curious to me that people often say we need to bring Biblical issues to bear on our culture and on our lives, but not in regards to politics. First, why carve out that area as different? Second, where is the line between politics and everything else? Murder was certainly not considered ‘political’ before Roe v. Wade, but now it is. Same with homosexuality. Righteousness and evil don’t somehow become different when they get politicized.

      Perhaps you’re just saying its ok to be ‘political’ so long as you don’t mention candidates, but that seems pretty silly. That would be like saying we can stand against false teaching, but should never mention the false teachers. There is no consistent argument to be made there.

      • fundamentals

        Wisdom, Daniel, is what it boils down to.

        • Daniel Leake

          I respect that “Fundamentals” and I trust that is truly your conviction. I guess I simply find comment sections to lose their value when people question tone and ‘wisdom’ over substance. It seems, in a small way, to be disrespectful of the time and effort Jordan put into the post to not engage on the material, but simply to say that he shouldn’t mention candidates names (which is a personal preference and not demanding of a rebuke). And it doesn’t further discussion on the material Jordan was attempting to highlight. But now I’m distracting from the substance, so I’ll leave it there:)

  • Jason

    While he certainly has an understanding of “good works” that is at odds with scripture, it’s not enough to say that an organization shouldn’t be supported unless it only performs the Bible’s criteria for good works (done only by Christ through people of faith[Galatians 2:20]). By that criteria, every man made organization shouldn’t be supported in any manner by believers. We thought boycotting Starbucks was extreme!

    Ben Carson, on The View, already properly addressed the argument that Trump raises now. There are other organizations with far less sordid histories that provide the same beneficial services, and with far more medically qualified personnel. So why do we keep sinking funds into and making special exemptions for the worst option just so it can keep running? Because there’s a lot more going on here than wanting low income health care.

  • Did it really take Saturday night to convince people that Trump isn’t pro-life?

  • Ira Pistos

    In my opinion, he makes mockery of the word of God.
    In my opinion he is dangerous to anyone who thinks he represents Christianity.
    I don’t want to bad mouth the man, I think his public comments speak for themselves.
    If you’ll allow, Id like to strongly urge Christians not to vote for him.

  • alexguggenheim

    Your assertion that the Bible does not allow for a human to be viewed as good in anyway is a common overreach by Calvinist influenced teachers but I suspect will be tempered as you go along in your further studies and teaching.
    What it does teach is that with respect to God we cannot be “good” or merit righteousness. However, with respect to man, that is horizontally, there are ample places where goodness is attributed to man via the context of morality and ethics.
    As to voting for Trump. You should understand that voting in the general election is about more than the nominee but an entire administration. And while Trump has shortcomings they are far less and consequential than the potential of either Democrat nominee.
    Trump isn’t promising spiritual renewal nor should we expect it. He and all the GOP want to preserve freedom and security for this nation’s citizens which has eroded under Obama.
    If you wish to strengthen the Democrat party by weakening the eventual GOP nominee were it Trump, by not voting, may your conscience before God be at peace. Mine wouldn’t.

    • Karl Heitman

      //”However, with respect to man, that is horizontally, there are ample places where goodness is attributed to man via the context of morality and ethics.”//

      Friend, I don’t know where you learned Calvinism, but Calvinists do not disagree with this statement. One example being that “goodness” is a fruit of the Spirit.

      • alexguggenheim

        You’ve troubled yourself for no reason. I can only surmise you got so caught up in defending Calvinism you didn’t pay attention to the context of my statement.
        It was not a rebuttal to “Calvinism” but to a claim by the author of the article.

        • Karl Heitman

          No trouble at all. Let me restate your entire first paragraph to provide the context:

          //”Your assertion that the Bible does not allow for a human to be viewed as good in anyway is a common overreach by Calvinist influenced teachers but I suspect will be tempered as you go along in your further studies and teaching. What it [the Bible?] does teach is that with respect to God we cannot be “good” or merit righteousness. However, with respect to man, that is horizontally, there are ample places [in the Bible?] where goodness is attributed to man via the context of morality and ethics.”//

          What was your point in this paragraph, if not to try to refute Jordan’s—as you put it—Calvinist influence?

          • alexguggenheim

            My point was obvious, rebutting Jordon’s assertion. My noting its source of influence was just that, influence not context.

  • rob999

    If I follow Calvin’s advice, I’m having difficulty in casting a vote.

    “And ye peoples, to whom God gave the liberty to
    choose your own magistrates, see to it, that ye do not forfeit this
    favor, by electing to the positions of highest honor, rascals and
    enemies of God.”- J. Calvin

    • alexguggenheim

      May I suggest you not pledge allegiance to Calvin lest we find ourselves burning heretics.

      • Fibber MaGee

        What is your issue with Calvin?

        • alexguggenheim

          Rather broad question for a comment section. Maybe you can narrow your aim.

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