Monday, October 31, 2011


Voice of the Martyrs ( is a ministry to the persecuted church worldwide.  On the second page of their November newsletter, is an editorial by the director, Tom White, accompanied by a picture of a man being baptized in what appears to be an oil drum.  In the editorial, Mr. White mentions that some readers are troubled by pictures of believers being baptized in bath tubs or other unusual places.  He notes that one reader even said that these were not “proper” baptisms.

Mr. White, of course, defends these practices by telling the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-29, and explaining the difficulties believers have in many closed countries, where they often must be baptized in secret.

I couldn’t help but recall the many baptisms I have performed and the various venues used:  a galvanized horse trough, a river, a lake, a swimming pool; a hot tub and, of course, a “proper” baptistry in a church building.

Then there were all the various styles and locations where I have served or partaken of the Lord’s Supper:  a loaf of French bread and paper cups of grape juice served outdoors, a loaf of home-made matzo and Mogen David (Kosher) wine in a single crystal goblet served in our home and, of course, those little tiny wafers with grape juice in little tiny cups, served in a church building.

And all of this in a free country where I didn’t have to worry about being arrested for my activity.  (Well, I have been cautioned a few times by friends and then there was that time a policeman just dropped in to our Bible study to check us out.)

What is it that troubles these well-meaning folks about unusual worship activity?  What is it that, to them, constitutes proper practice?  I’m not sure, but I have my suspicions.

I believe, first of all, that they have a narrow understanding of what it is to “do church.”  To many, church is a particular physical location, a building.  Or perhaps it is seen as an organization, a properly incorporated group of people, with all the proper officers and papers.  Any churchy looking activity conducted outside of these parameters is suspect.  Now, I’m not faulting organization or buildings, but God’s church is, or should be active everywhere.  We who know Christ are the church.

And I also believe that many believers are not “world Christians.”  They’ve never seen the church in action in other lands; they’ve never gotten to know believers from other lands.  They’ve never really seen how God is working among those “from every nation and tribes and peoples and tongues” (Revelation 7:9).  And He works in very different ways!

I believe we all have a tendency to feel comfortable in our box and to feel that everyone else ought to feel as comfortable as we are, in the same box.  And (even though it seems a bit blasphemous), we feel that God should be quite comfortable there too!  And as Donald McCullough said (­The Trivialization of God, page 32), “…then it’s a very short step to believing that God would not feel at home anywhere else.”

Jesus didn’t talk about a box; but He did speak of wineskins (Luke 5:37, 38 – also Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22).  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the new wine will burst the wineskins and will be spilled out, and the wineskins will be destroyed.  But new wine should be put in new wineskins.”

Jesus, of course, was speaking of the custom of making wine in fresh waterproof leather bags.  As the grape juice fermented and put off gas, the leather would stretch.  An old dried, used skin would have no give and thus would burst.  Apparently this was not an unusual occurrence.  We can perhaps imagine Jesus as a boy, laughing at the explosion.

Jesus, I believe, was telling his hearers that the old Judaism with its practices was defunct, that the New Covenant, with Him as Messiah could not be poured back into an old dried up religion.

I feel that there is also an application for us today.  Following Jesus should always be a fresh experience, but we want to restrict it in our old dried up customs.  We can’t understand “new wine.”  Luke 5:39 adds an interesting comment of Jesus:  “And no one drinking old wine wants new; for he says, ‘the old is good!’”

But sometimes the new is better!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


In the October 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times, is an op-ed article entitled, “America:  With God on our side,” written by Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University.
To those of us who were around in the 60’s it is, of course, reminiscent of that Bob Dylan tune with a similar title.

Bacevich reminds us that “despite a Constitution that mandates the separation of church and state, religion and politics have become inseparable.”  He goes on to describe how presidential candidates, no matter their party affiliation “regularly press God into service.”  America, they claim, has been uniquely chosen by God.

As the first illustration of his thesis, he quotes from a speech by Mitt Romney.  Romney asserts that America must, with its military might be the leader of the world, both economically and militarily and claims “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers.”

Bacevich goes on to assure us that Romney’s claims are not unique, that “No leading contender for the Republican nomination will challenge” Romney’s positions.  Whoever receives the Republican nomination will claim that President Obama does not hold this view.  And President Obama will of course, argue that he does.

The article asserts (correctly) that both the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) and the New Testament writings “provide no evidence to support this proposition.”  No, he claims that instead “the American Bible contains a de facto Third Testament.”

Bacevich appears to be asserting that this is a 21st century phenomenon, although, I’m sure he would agree that the origins of this idea go much farther back to before the beginnings of our nation.  The present lineup of Republican candidates did not invent the idea of America as somehow uniquely chosen of God.

I’ve heard this “doctrine” all of my life and like most of my contemporaries raised during WWII, I accepted it as fact.  I was taught of America’s exceptionalism in school; as Dylan says “…the history books tell it, they tell it so well…”   When I became a Christian and a member of a fundamentalist church, I found that this “doctrine” was held as strongly as the doctrine of inerrancy, even the doctrine of the atonement.  I would probably have agreed with Romney’s statement, “I will never, ever apologize for America.”

I suppose that America’s “civil religion” will always be with us, even though it leads to uncivil politics.  It’s nothing new.  All the great empires of ancient history had theirs.  Many nations today have theirs, even so-called “secular states.”

But it seems to me ironic that the people of the nation that invented the concept of religious freedom should hold so tenaciously to a religion that demands total allegiance from its national leaders.

And it seems more than ironic that those who claim the uniqueness of their religion, who claim that Jesus Christ is the only Way and that all other religious claims are false, should cling to another religion.  And one that demands our loyalty, apparently an even greater loyalty, than our loyalty to Jesus Christ.

I want to be clear.  I love my country.  I consider myself a loyal citizen of the USA.  But must that love of country translate to a syncretism of my faith in Christ with a religious faith in America?

I guess that I’ll never be elected President.  :^(

Perhaps the question should be rephrased, “Is America on God’s side?”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


The subject of Capital Punishment has been much in the news lately.  Trials and executions have been prominent, as well as questions raised in Presidential debates.  I have even mentioned it a number of times in this blog and have even said on another blog that I planned on attempting a thorough biblical study on the subject.  I have yet to do so, though I am collecting and researching and discussing with my wife Uni.  I believe that she was the one who brought up this story.

Anyway, before going into a lot of other biblical passages, it might be good to ask “What would Jesus do?” or in this case, “What did Jesus do?”  Thought I could (and plan to) analyze Jesus’ sayings that are relevant, it just might be a good idea to look at a story where Jesus actually is called on to adjudicate a case involving Capital Punishment.

John 8:2-11:
2)  And early in the morning, He arrived again in the temple, and all the people were coming to Him, and He sat down and was teaching them.

3)  And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, made her stand in the midst, 4) and said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, right in the act!  5)  Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So then what do you say?”  6)  They were saying this testing Him so that they’d have something to accuse Him of.

But Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger.  7)  Now when they kept on asking Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one among you who is without sin should be the first to throw a stone at her,” 8) and He stooped back down and continued writing on the ground.

9)  And when they heard this, they began to leave, one by one, beginning with the oldest ones and He was left alone, with the woman standing there.

10)  And Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they?  Did no one condemn you?”

11)  And she said, “No one Lord.”

And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you!  Go your way and from now on, sin nor more!”

Before I make any comments on the story itself, I feel that I must give a few notes about some technical difficulties.  If you, the reader, are uninterested in these, you may skip them without a loss of understanding.

·        First, this passage (John 7:53-8:11) is not found in most of the earliest Greek manuscripts of John’s Gospel, as well as other early versions.  Some manuscripts have it in other places in chapter 7 or at the end of John’s Gospel; others have it in Luke’s Gospel after 21:38.  Its style and vocabulary differ quite a bit from the rest of John (I discovered this as a first-year Greek student, reading through John.), and it seems to interrupt the general flow of the narrative.  So there is near unanimous agreement among scholars that it is not part of John’s original Gospel.
·        Yet, as one scholar put it, “…the account has all the earmarks of historical veracity.”  That, plus the fact that it is included in some ancient manuscripts causes many to believe it is authentic.  A few have even supposed that it was deliberately “expunged … because it was liable to be understood in a sense too indulgent to adultery.”
·        I will accept and treat it as a true story, a genuine part of God’s Word, even if it wasn’t written by John.  Besides all the above, it gives us a picture of Jesus similar to those we find elsewhere in the Gospels – His tenderness toward women, His disdain for the religious leaders of His day, His ability to get out of the traps set for Him, and especially, His demonstration of grace and forgiveness within a context of Legalism.

Now back to our story:

The Gospel writers tell many stories of confrontations such as this, between Jesus and the religious leaders.  It would seem that He took their constant questioning as a matter of course, and even seemed to enjoy it.  He always won in these verbal battles, sometimes turning their questions back on them, other times tearing into their false teachings and motives, but nearly always using the disputes as “teaching moments.”

But this incident was different.  Here, Jesus is not simply being tested with a goal of trapping Him in His words.  Here He is being challenged to make a life or death decision.  Nowhere else are we told of an incident where He is urged to decide the fate of another human being.

I believe we can see His opponents’ aims pretty clearly:  if Jesus decides to exercise compassion toward the woman, He will clearly (to them) have defied the demands of their God-given Law.  This could be used as evidence against Him in their plot to have Him legally put to death.  If He decided against the woman, He would be going against all He had taught.  He would no longer be “a friend of sinners.”

Their actions were, of course, based on the Law as found in Deuteronomy 22:22-24 (also see Leviticus 20:10):
22)  If a man is found lying with another man’s wife, both of them must die – the man who lay with the woman, and the woman.  Thus you will sweep away the evil from Israel.

23)  If there is a young woman who is a virgin, engaged to a man and a man finds here in town and lies with her, 24) you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death.  (The word “engaged” here is inadequate.  Under the Law a couple was as good as married when the bride price was paid, even though they were not to cohabit for up to a year.)

However, there are some serious questions about their prosecution of the case.  Where is the man?  The Law appears to put the major portion of the blame on the man.  “If a man …”  It takes two to commit this act.  In fact, there were some cases where the man alone was to be prosecuted – see Deuteronomy 22:24-27.  I have my suspicions as to where the man was.

And there’s another question:  Where are the witnesses?  A capital case required two or more witnesses.

There are many theories regarding Jesus’ writing on the ground and what He was writing.  Some think He was listing the sins of the accusers, but there is no indication of this in the text.  Some think He was writing His decision down as a judge would do.  The King James has “… as though He heard them not,” at the end of verse 6, which is apparently only found in a few late manuscripts.  I believe that expresses it well.  Jesus was simply doodling!  He was showing His disinterest and disdain, while they kept on pestering.

Finally He gave His decision, which appears to be a guilty verdict.  His words in verse 7 are among the most quoted words of Jesus, usually, however, in a situation where the one who quotes is defending or justifying his or her own behavior.  But what did Jesus mean by this?  Perhaps another passage regarding Capital Punishment can shed some light on His words.

Deuteronomy 17:6, 7:
6)  On the testimony of two witnesses or three witnesses the condemned shall die; he must not die on the testimony of one witness.  7)  The hand of the witnesses must be the first to put him to death, then afterward the hand of all the people.  Thus you will sweep away the evil from your midst.

Thought I can’t say for sure, I believe that the male partner was standing right there among the woman’s prosecutors.  And Jesus knew it.  This was a setup.  One or more of them had apparently engaged in sex with this poor woman (who was not allowed to testify in her own defense) in order to trap Jesus in a dilemma.  Her life was of no importance to them.

This would mean that the witnesses themselves were her guilty sex partners.  Yet, according to the Law, they were to cast the first stones.  Jesus was not demanding complete sinlessness of her executioners, He was saying that they must not be guilty of the same crime.  He put them in a Catch 22 situation.  He had turned the tables and they could not carry out the sentence.

Jesus gave this woman words of grace and forgiveness.  His words “sin no more” would imply that He knew she was guilty.

So what does all of this have to do with our 21st century views on Capital Punishment?

We could argue that this case is in no way relevant to current thinking.  Adultery is not a capital offense today and no one is trying to make it into one (at least not to my knowledge).  Capital Punishment today is reserved for murderers and a few others who commit horrible crimes.  Certainly Jesus would behave differently toward a murderer, wouldn’t He?

But Jesus lived under the Law of Moses which required death for adultery.  And He knew this woman was guilty.  Didn’t respect for the Law require Him to support his Law?  Was Jesus not a “law-and-order” supporter?

I don’t believe we can argue that because this was a lesser crime than murder Jesus could slack off on enforcement.  “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4).  Jesus wasn’t simply cutting the woman some slack – He was pronouncing her free of condemnation.  He was setting her free from the condemnation of the Law.

Jesus died for that woman’s sins.  He died for the sins of the condemned man hanging on the cross next to Him.  He died for my sin.  He died to cancel the debt we owed God and the condemnation God’s Law pronounced.

And it should be noticed that in this case, He went beyond teaching that we must personally forgive, He was pronouncing forgiveness from criminal law.

I don’t know exactly how this should affect our attitudes toward the laws of our land.  But it should affect them in some way.  It should certainly lead us away from cheering the death of a criminal, no matter how heinous the crime.  It should lead us to seek to be imitators of Christ, even in this area.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


“… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” -- U. S. Constitution, Article VI

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, introduced Texas Governor Rick Perry at the Values Voters Summit this past Friday.  But he said a couple of things that got commentators, both on the right and on the left, in a tizzy.

“Mitt Romney’s a good moral person, but he’s not a Christian.  Mormonism is not Christian.  It has always been considered a cult by the mainstream of Christianity.”  “Rick Perry is a proven leader.  He is a true conservative, and he is a genuine follower of Jesus Christ.

In an interview afterward, Jeffress told reporters, “In my estimation, Mormonism is a cult.  And it would give credence to a cult to have a Mormon candidate.  I believe that Mitt Romney is a good moral person, has a wonderful family, but that’s not what makes you a Christian.”

We hear a lot of tsk-tsking on the left, a lot of amening on the right and a lot of confusion on both sides, as well as in the middle.  So here are my thoughts.

I have to say, that I do not find the Rev. Jeffress’ statements about Mr. Romney nearly as offensive as his statements about Mr. Perry.

Many evangelicals hold to a definition of a cult as follows (See:  WHAT IS A CULT?):
·         It has as its authority, the Bible plus some other authority which is often claimed to be divinely inspired (such as The Book of Mormon, Science and Health and Key to the Scriptures, etc.).
·         Its doctrine holds to a low view of who Jesus Christ is (A god rather than God, a glorified man, etc.).
·         It is exclusive and holds that there is no salvation outside the group.

While Mormonism has attempted to become “inclusive” it certainly qualifies in the first two points above.  But it has also grown so large as to be more of a religion on its own right than a cult.  After all, in the first century, Christianity itself was considered a cult.  This is not to say that a Mormon cannot be “saved.”  The requirement for eternal salvation is given in the Scripture as faith in Jesus Christ.  How much erroneous doctrine does that allow us?

But is this really relevant to Mr. Romney’s qualification for President?  Apparently our Founding Fathers felt that this was a non-issue, if I understand Article VI of our Constitution as quoted above.  We do not need to make Mr. Romney a Christian in order to qualify him for President.

And as to Mr. Perry’s alleged Christian faith, I have a number of questions:
·         How can I know for sure he really is a Christian?  Talk is cheap and profession is easy.
·         How does this faith qualify him to be the leader of the free world any more than a Mormon, a Muslim, any non-Christian or even an atheist?

Every one of our Presidents has either personally claimed to be a Christian or was painted as such by enthusiastic followers.  Some were good Presidents and some were real losers.  There seems to be little correlation between their performance and their faith.  Of course, their opponents have always been quick to question or deny the reality of their faith.

I believe it’s about time we quit trying to amalgamate Christianity and politics.  It’s time we started endorsing and supporting those who are people of integrity and who are qualified for the office.  And it would seem to me that a candidate who claimed to be “a genuine follower of Jesus Christ” would not need the endorsement of religious leaders.  He or she would show the reality of their faith by their integrity and their actions.

Note:  The above remarks do not constitute an endorsement of either of the candidates mentioned.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Preach left a comment on the previous post:  “I learned my scales and chords with a little saying ... EBGDAE ... or Every Bible Gets Dusted At Easter.  I used that with my guitar playing because of those that "cherry picked."  A pericope here, a verse there.  I thought hmmmm ...  shouldn't that Bible look a bit more worn than that, or did he/she have to buy a new one?  Great read sir!  Me personally, I do not enjoy the ride on the extreme wings.  Too far is too far, right or left.  I like it in the plane, the extremist can have the wings.”

Thanks, Preach.  I always appreciate your comments.  They keep my thinking stirred up and force me to keep on thinking.

I especially appreciated your analogy about the plane.  A similar one that I heard and have used myself is, “If you keep falling off the ______ side of the horse, your tendency is to lean the other way.  But be careful; if you lean too far, you can fall off the ______ side!”  (Usually the words “right” and “left” are inserted, but I deliberately left them out.)

I am personally uncomfortable with contrasting categories like “right/left” or “conservative/liberal.”  They’re political!  Of course, we have many other political categories, but they almost all tend to divide us.  Some are those we use of ourselves, while others are those we use on those who disagree with us.  What bothers me as a follower of Christ is that we who claim His name use them to divide ourselves.

We are already divided theologically (Calvinist/Arminian, charismatic/cessationist) and denominationally (Baptist/Methodist/Catholic); why must we be divided politically as well?  And from what I have observed, politics is where we are most divided.

Divisions between God’s people, of course, are nothing new.  Probably the most notorious are the schisms in the church at Corinth, mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.  They were divided into at least four different parties.  And they apparently weren’t divided over doctrine or politics or ethics or anything of importance.  They were divided over preachers!

Note what Paul says in verse 12: “Now I say this, that each of you is saying, ‘I’m of Paul!’ – ‘but ‘I’m of Apollos!’ – ‘but I’m of Cephas!’ – ‘but I’m of Christ!!’”

We can feel his indignation as he barrages them with rhetorical questions:  “Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

I would love to just stay in the plane, or not have to be in danger of falling off the horse, and I would like to believe that’s where I am.  I suspect that’s where the party in Corinth who said, “I’m of Christ” thought they were!  But when I see the direction that much of the church is going, I have to lean in the other direction.  Perhaps “tug” would be a better word than “lean.”

Much of the evangelical wing of the church is totally identified with the Republican Party.  Republican “values” are seen as the same as “Christian values” or “family values.”  Republican candidates must identify themselves as “Christian.”  And they adopt stances and make speeches that sound an awful lot like fire-and-brimstone preachers.

As I said in my previous post, I agree with many moral positions taken by my literalist/conservative friends.  But I have to say that I do not agree with most of them.  And I must say that those positions that I agree with are not held consistently by them.  For instance:

Their “pro-life” stance.  I agree that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life.  But how can one oppose this taking of life and be pro-war, pro-death penalty?  How can one see a need for government to prevent the death of the unborn, but oppose government care for the born?

Their stance on homosexuality.  I agree that the Bible teaches that homosexual sex is sin and I question whether there actually can be such a thing as “gay marriage.”  But how can one be so vehemently opposed to this one type of sexual sin and ignore the others – many of which are part of the lifestyle of many favored political leaders.  And the hatred expressed toward homosexuals.  Didn’t Christ die for all our sins?  Isn’t His grace available for all sinners?  Do we need government regulation of our sexual behavior but not our economic behavior?

And then, of course, there are those political positions taken by the right that are completely unbiblical, especially the favoring of the rich over the poor.  Whether it’s called “trickle-down economics” or we refer to the rich as “job creators,” it seems totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus, Paul and James, as well as the Old Testament prophets.

I recognize that the left has its faults and there are plenty.  I don’t want to fall off that side of the horse either.  I believe that we who follow Jesus Christ must build our ethical systems and moral codes on the Scriptures.  We must seek to live our lives by them.  And we need to be careful not to identify too closely with any political system.  Rather we should bring all political systems under the scrutiny of the Word. 

I realize that the last paragraph of my previous post should have begun, “So my challenge to my conservative and liberal friends …”

Thanks again, Preach!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I was pleasantly surprised (or should I say, blown away?) by an article that appeared in the October 2011 issue of Christianity Today.  The title was, “A Left-Leaning Text” and the note below the title said, “Survey surprise:  Frequent Bible reading can turn you liberal (in some ways)".  The author is Aaron B. Franzen, a graduate student in sociology at Baylor University.  The data used is from the 2007 Baylor Religion Survey and we are assured that the research is undergoing peer review.

In my 74+ years on this earth, I have managed to accumulate a large number of beliefs and opinions, many of which have been modified, or in some cases, thrown out.  And I am always happy when I read or hear someone who agrees with me.  Especially when they have survey or poll data to back them up!  And this was one such case.

I actually remember coming to the conclusion, at least 40 years ago, that a “conservative” (i.e., literal) interpretation of the Bible should lead to a “liberal” application of its truths.  I quickly learned, however, that I dare not share this opinion with any but Uni and a few other close friends and family members.  (Although, readers of this blog may have had their suspicions.)

But now this article/survey has freed me to come out of my liberal closet.  There are others like me.  I am not alone!

The article refers to previous polls, such as Gallup, which asked Americans how literally they took the Bible.  The conclusions usually found that the more literally one holds the Bible, the more they were apt to be moral and political conservatives.

As one who holds the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God, I have for a long time been troubled by this finding.  While I agree with many moral positions taken by my literalist/conservative friends, I have found myself at odds with most of their political conservatism.

But now this new survey seems to imply that the pollsters may have been asking the wrong question.  The new question has to do with whether those polled actually READ the Bible.  And when this is the question, the results are surprisingly different.  As the author tells us, “…, reading the Bible more often has some liberalizing effects – or at least makes the reader more prone to agree with liberals on certain issues.”

And it apparently makes little difference who those readers are:  their denominational, theological or political views or even their views on biblical literalism (although they do see the Bible as authoritative).

This article goes on to describe “liberal” views held by those who read the Bible.  The readers were rated on a 5-point scale as to how frequently they read the Bible.  The more frequently they read the Bible, the more liberally they hold these views.

Some of the views mentioned:
·        Decreased support for the Patriot Act.
·        Criminal justice – less support for harsher punishment and the death penalty.
·        “More likely … to believe that religion and science are compatible.”
·        “Social and economic justice.”
·        “Reduced consumption as a part of ethical living.”

The article attempts some explanation for this phenomenon.  Why does the Bible push the reader “leftward”?

One explanation the author offers “is that readers tend to have expectations of the text prior to reading it.”  I’ll agree with that.  He goes on to say that “many people think they know what’s in it before they open it up.  But once they start reading it on their own they are bound to be surprised by something.”

I’d say a problem may be that many do not bother to open it up.  They feel they already know what’s in it, so why bother?  Their preacher or teacher, or some author, has already explained it.  Those other people have done all the hard work; I don’t need to.  There’s a big difference between believing in the literalness of the Bible and applying it literally in my life.

Look at all the nice clean new looking Bibles carried into church.  How do they stay so clean?

And then there is how people read the Bible.  For many (including literalists) it’s simply a how-to book; but even here it’s easier to read other books that tell me what the Bible says or means, than to read the Bible itself.

Another explanation given is that frequent Bible readers “… tend to read it devotionally, looking for ways in which Scripture is speaking directly to them.”  I’ll go along with that!  In fact, I’ll add that I believe much of what the Bible convicts us of occurs by osmosis.  By simply reading the text over and over, its concepts penetrate our thinking.  (I’m sure the Holy Spirit has something to do with the process.)

I can think of a lovely woman whose old worn King James Bible lies open on her kitchen table next to her ash tray, and also a few others I know who are like her.

So my challenge to my conservative friends is simply:  Read your Bible.  Then read it again.  Don’t cherry pick it.  Look for its repeated themes:  moral, ethical, political (?).  What obligations does it place on you?  You may not agree with all I’ve said, but hopefully you’ll understand where I’m coming from.