Author archives: Nathan Oppman

The Importance of Christian Culture

by Nathan Oppman

September 23, 2014

When confronting groups like ISIS or Hamas, it is often difficult for the West to understand the grotesque violence and reckless hatred that these groups promote toward those with whom they disagree. These groups do not wish to negotiate or reason. They wish to conquer and rule. On the one hand, the West has seen the all-too familiar horrors of despotic regimes such as those in 20th century Russia and Germany. It has also witnessed the tight grip of control maintained in such places as North Korea and China. All of these places have been the locations of mass executions and violence against peaceful citizens. Since most of these atrocities occurred far from the U.S. it can be difficult to come to terms with the reality that so many innocent people were killed. It was difficult to grasp the horrific Holocaust against the Jews or to understand the rigor of the Soviet GULAG system until eyewitness accounts became widely available. The Islamists doing so much harm in Iraq are evil but not unique. In Sudan, Islamists threatened to kill a woman, Meriam Ibrahim, simply because she refused to renounce her Christian faith. The Islamist culture is one of fear and death. Liberating Western (Christian) beliefs such as the dignity of every person, freedom of religion, and the good of peace are all undermined in Islamist theology.

Western culture has a great many flaws but much of its underlying philosophy is still providing a foundation for peace and prosperity today. Pretending that all cultures are equal or that Western culture is no different than any other culture undermines observable truth. It is easy to sit at home and play armchair philosophical quarterback or to theorize that economic concerns are driving violence but the thousands who die in the name of Islam in the Middle East don’t have such a luxury. Sometimes, a wake-up call is needed. If you would like to see a woman who experienced the cruelty of Islam and is a clear demonstration of the difference between cultures, please plan to attend the Values Voter Summit Gala honoring Meriam Ibrahim. Her story reminds us that the truth is worth fighting for and that some evils can’t be ignored with political rhetoric. May this woman shock our sedated Western mindset with the reality that there is a battle for truth taking place in cultures around the world. One side battles for a culture where a woman and child are seen as a mortal enemy for their beliefs. The other fights for a culture where that same woman is honored for her beliefs. In this cultural war with the lives of so many at stake may truth win, may freedom reign.

Persecuted: Would You Remain Silent?

by Nathan Oppman

July 15, 2014

This week, a movie will be released about persecution coming to modern day America, the persecution of Christians. Not for failing to renounce a belief but for failing to go along with a pluralist law that asks all religion to set aside their differences under the guise of anti-terrorism. I encourage you to go see this movie and consider its implications for the future of America. (Note: it is not for children and includes some violent images). Here is a synopsis of the plot from the movie’s website:

The new movie Persecuted opening in July 2014 depicts evangelist John Luther as the last obstacle in the way of sweeping religious reform. When a Senator frames Luther for the murder of an innocent teenage girl, an unprecedented era of persecution is unleashed. An evangelist turned fugitive, Luther’s mission brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that will threaten the entire Christian community in America.

America has long had a tradition of religious freedom for individuals. It is difficult to imagine a world of persecution in America, such as what is being experienced regularly by Christians in the Middle East or by those in Communist dictatorships such as North Korea. Perhaps, we will never see such persecution. But that does not mean we won’t see persecution. The one thing that is hardly tolerated in America is stating that something is wrong. We must be politically correct.

Political correctness is not only annoying, it is dangerous. Orwell once said that “freedom was the ability to say that 2+2=4.” If a man can no longer speak the truth, he is no longer free. John Luther was told to stop speaking the truth or risk everything. When faced with such a choice, would you be silent?

Common Core Support Cools

by Nathan Oppman

June 26, 2014

Common Core support among those with school age kids is rapidly declining. Government bureaucrats have long made the argument that they can better educate children than parents can. It appears that parents in America disagree. Nearly everyone agrees that getting a quality education is important but there is a sharp disagreement between those who believe the state should direct educational activities and those who believe parents should direct the education of their children. Look for soon-to-be-released details on an upcoming Common Core event hosted by FRC and featuring some of the key players in this national discussion.

Values and Culture

by Nathan Oppman

June 2, 2014

Having a common culture is important for any nation. More importantly, having a culture with the right values is paramount to a nation’s success. Each year FRC highlights the importance of values at its annual Values Voter Summit.

Recent stories in of kidnapping in Nigeria and persecution of a mother and child Sudan remind us to be thankful that our cultural heritage is one of religious freedom and rule of law. But disturbing social trends such as promiscuous sexual behavior and a disregard for religious freedom threaten our historic moral culture. Many in America realize that to preserve our historic culture we must rededicate ourselves to the Judeo-Christian culture that has brought blessing.

If you are concerned about the threat to America’s culture and about our values as a nation please check sign up for FRC’s annual Values Voter Summit and check out the videos from the recent Watchmen on the Wall conference held in Washington D.C. and inspiring pastors from around the country to reclaim ground and restore righteousness in our nation.

Asking the Questions of Youth

by Nathan Oppman

May 22, 2014

Have you ever been around when a child was awkwardly honest? You know, when they say things like, “I need to go potty” in the middle of a church service, or when they ask why someone else’s child in the checkout line is “acting naughty?” Children are really good at stating the obvious.

For me, recently teaching a class of students ages 11-14 was an informative experience. I was reminded of the black-and-white way in which children ask questions. We were having a discussion about rights and a student began talking about the right to keep and bear arms. I asked the class a question that my college-aged interns and graduate students almost always fail to answer: What is the most important question when talking about gun rights and the Second Amendment?

One bright young lady piped up within seconds and asked, “What is a right?” I was impressed. She had asked the correct question.

In the many classes I have taught on public policy, almost no one can figure out the most basic questions. When I ask the question, “what is a right,” very few can answer. I am sometimes surprised at how often we talk about something we can’t define. The term “rights” is ubiquitous in American culture yet few can define what a right is. I have a simple one sentence definition of a right that I believe clearly explains it but I will save that for another time. Of greater concern to me is that we don’t bother to ask questions.

We have a culture that accepts and advocates for things it does not understand. If we are not trained in careful thinking we are prone to accept anything that comes along and sounds nice. When it comes to marriage too many have used the term “equality” not understanding what it means. When it comes to life to many have used the term “choice” not realizing what the choice is. When it comes to economics too many have shouted for “fairness” without ever defining the term. All of these terms require definition to have a discussion, yet try to ask anyone to define them and you will be filibustered or ignored in most cases. It would do us good to look to our youth and unashamedly ask the questions that we work so hard to avoid.

Be Wary of Uniform Education Measurements

by Nathan Oppman

March 18, 2014

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal cited the challenge of measuring college success. As college debt increases, it will likely become more important to acquire tangible measure of collegiate success. Some members of Congress and the Department of Education have weighed in with new ways to measure college outcomes.

The problem with establishing uniform measurements is that education is multi-faceted. Getting a job is not necessarily an indication of academic success. College is not designed to be a job training center, but to give students a greater understanding of the world. Education is valuable beyond the workforce in such areas as voting, training children, and morality. If a degree does not directly lead to a job, then it is not necessarily wasted. If going to college leads to a job, it does not mean the education was exceptional.

It is important to accurately assess the many benefits that college education can provide. But we should be assessing those benefits at the local level and should seek to discourage any government imposed national measurements. From No Child Left Behind to Common Core, we have learned that we must be wary of our government’s involvement in education. Keep an eye open for national collegiate success measurements and tell the federal government to keep out of the classroom.

Renewing Love on Valentine’s Day

by Nathan Oppman

February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day is full of romance and love for many Americans and it is a beautiful thing. The thought of that special person can send sparks flying. Hearts, roses, and chocolates abound. Young love blossoms. Sadly, these scenes of romance are often a façade for a culture obsessed with an emotional high rather than a selfless love. When the day ends the beauty of the emotional romance is gone, replaced by the ugly reality of shallow relationships. Real romance is not a state of eternal bliss but a commitment to love, sacrificing for the good of the other. How can we hold onto love beyond that February 14th feeling? With so few cultural factors that encourage true romance and love it is helpful to use the Valentine’s Day holiday as a reminder of what love truly looks like. I could give a hundred reasons why marriage is good for you, but those are simply side benefits to following God’s plan for love. Here are three things every Christian husband should do this Valentine’s Day to renew a lasting love and romance:

  1. Remember that you are to love your wife like Christ loved the church. Enough to bleed for her and enough to die for her. Enough to be separated from His Heavenly Father and to become sin for her. I am to love my wife when she sins against me. I am to nurture her, cherish her, and care for her. I am to spend myself for her because I love her and because Christ showed me how.
  2. Remember that my love for her is not conditional on feelings. Feelings are fickle. They change but my love for my wife can shine brighter even when feelings wane. Choosing to love often brings feelings with it but feelings are not the gauge of love. I want my wife to know that “for better or for worse” wasn’t just a cliché phrase but a life-long promise.
  3. Remember to do her good. It can be easy to do good to your significant other while dating. But after a few years of marriage, it may require a little effort. Thinking of ways to do her good involves not just gifts but understanding her needs on both a personal and spiritual level. Bearing your spouse’s burdens can be a challenging and fulfilling task, but it is well worth the effort.

I love my wife. She loves me. I still consider myself a newlywed even though I have been married for well over two years. We still act like romantics, we still hold hands. I still kiss her every morning when I leave for work and she greets me with a kiss when I come home. But these are not the deeds that lead to love they are expressions of it. I have chosen to love my wife. Loving my wife, regardless of feelings, with a desire to do her good at all times is a difficult task. But it is a task I have been commanded to pursue and one I promised, on my wedding day, to perform until death. Along with the chocolate and the kisses, may we all renew our commitment to make the rest of “‘til death do us part” a beautiful thing.

The Malthusians Return

by Nathan Oppman

October 16, 2013

The tired old argument has returned. People are going to end the planet. The oceans will rise, the land will burn, and aliens will invade. Ok, there are no predictions of an alien invasion … yet. So what is the solution to these problems? Get rid of those pesky people. After all if there were no people, then they would not be destroying earth by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Of course, limiting the population of earth through encouraging women to have fewer kids would be devastating to economic growth and development. People have been making predictions about the end of the world for a long time. There is one factor common to all of them— they have failed to happen.

Instead of encouraging anti-human, anti-family policies, we should encourage healthy families where God is honored and lifelong marriage is the norm. While we are unlikely to be affected by global warming, we are already being affected by family breakdown. On almost every social measure the breakdown of committed marriages has devastating consequences. We should be focused on the real man-made problem of family destruction. If we don’t fix the family the future will indeed be bleak.

And one more thing, I did a quick internet search while writing this article; an alien invasion could be a result of global warming according to some!

Their Blood Cries Out

by Nathan Oppman

September 30, 2013

Washington Post opinion writer Colbert King has noted the lack of concern surrounding the heartbreaking recent attacks on Christians in Nigeria and other places in the developing world.  In the name of Islam, members of groups such as Boko Haram have mercilessly attacked innocents for the crime of following Jesus or simply not knowing the name of Mohammed’s mother.

King is no conservative, but he is a man of conscience who is disgusted by his journalist colleagues’ failure to report the massive and persistent attacks professing Christians experience in country after country. It is not in vogue to talk about Christians dying.  To the contrary, even our National Park Service has gone out of their way to note the supposedly wonderful position that Islam grants to women.

The blood of martyrs spills across the globe daily. Any kind of religious persecution, including that which is directed against Muslims (often by other Muslims).

Too often, the face of the Islamic martyr is that of a deceived young man pulling the trigger of a gun in the face of innocents at a mall. The face of the Christian martyr is that of men, women, and children fleeing a bloodthirsty hate. Suicide bombers kill so regularly across the Muslim world that it barely passes for news. Often their target is Christians. King Théoden in the Lord of the Rings trilogy asked the question “What can men do against such reckless hate?”  For LOTR aficionados the reply from Aragorn is one of the epic lines in the movie “Ride out and meet them.” Aragorn quickly adds, not for death and glory, but “for your people.

Death is not something that should be lauded. Muslim “martyrs” around the world are murdering in the name of Islam. They seek death and glory. We as Christians must be aware of our “people” who are dying, advocate and pray for them and support groups ministering to them. As we face the evil of a lost world let us remember our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us stand up for them in every way possible. But let us not forget the Scriptural injunction to pray for our enemies. Pray for those who are evil, that the great Gospel of Christ may penetrate the lost souls of these ravaging lions and turn them into lambs of Christ.

Food Stamps and Stewardship

by Nathan Oppman

August 23, 2013

In a few months there will once again be the usual chatter regarding the debt ceiling, fiscal cliffs, and heightened rhetoric as interest groups vie for Federal money. The debates often center around the dollars with little to no regard for the actual problems those dollars are supposed to solve.

Consider “food stamps” which now come in the form of a debit card. If one has a debate about whether or not the hungry should be fed, virtually all of us agree that they should. We may disagree on who is actually in need and how they should best receive aid, but we agree that they should be fed. Advocates for increasing federal spending on food aid will argue that the economy has caused many more people to be without jobs and that these people need help. If a policy maker even so much as mentions cutting a dime from such programs he will be immediately vilified by many as “uncompassionate” at best, or “evil” at worst.

My own experience argues for a cautious approach, and why we need to be able to have discussions that go beyond mere rhetoric.

At a previous job, our rear parking lot was near some woods that were often filled with homeless people. They frequently came to us for water and my colleagues and I spoke with many of them on a semi-regular basis. Some of them were genuinely needy, while others stated that they liked being homeless because they were free from responsibility. Many of them had cell phones; all were well-clothed.

Over time I noticed a significant number of them asking for one of my employees. When they asked for him, they did so usually with an appearance of deep concern and seemed to want to see him immediately. I soon discovered the sad reason for their urgency. My employee would take their food stamp debit cards and exchange them at something like a 50% rate for booze. In other words for a $200 card my employee would buy roughly $100 in alcohol for the homeless and then use the card to purchase groceries for himself or others. This system was very efficient and profitable for all parties involved. The homeless were able to continue their habit using government funds and my employee was able to make a 50% return on investment for his trouble.

You may think this kind of thing is rare or hard to do. It is not. This “ring” of fraud is operated largely in the open and there was very little that could be done to stop it. If I were a legislator and suggested there is waste and fraud in the food stamp program, I would be labeled as uncaring.

For the record, I believe strongly in giving to charity and regularly give a portion of my income away. But I also believe in responsibility and stewardship. God has called us to love our neighbors and give to the needy while at the same time wisely managing what he has given us.

It is a wonderful thing that Americans care for the poor, and Christians have a special duty to help them. However, we should not allow that care to cause us to be blind to systematic abuses that actually hurt those the system is intended to help. Love demands that we provide for those around us, but wisdom demands that we not give to those who wantonly throw away what we are entrusting to them. Good stewardship requires honesty and honesty requires us to admit that good intentions are not enough.

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