Making the Case for Polygamy

By Dr. Mark Denison — In just a few days, the United States Supreme Court will decide on the legality of same sex marriage. While gays and lesbians can marry in 36 states, the cases of The United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry have made their way up through appellate courts to the desks of nine men and women, the final arbiters. On one side we have James Esseks, who leads the effort for the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is the beginning of the end game on the freedom to marry,” said Esseks. On the other side we have Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. Perkins said, “The U.S. Supreme Court now has the opportunity to issue a long-overdue ruling to restore the freedom of the people to uphold marriage in their state laws as the union of a man and a woman.” Cases from Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky have pushed the Court into a corner. All four states say this is a states’ rights issue. The Supreme Court has heard the arguments and now stands on the precipice of one of the most significant cultural decisions of our generation.

Politicians such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have “evolved” on this issue. Once outspoken opponents of same-sex marriage, their positions have changed, shockingly, at the very time that Gallup reports a record high number of Americans, sixty percent, now support same sex marriage. For 239 years, America has defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. For the first 95 percent of their lives, Obama and Clinton agreed. But at just the very moment the tide of public opinion switched, so did they. This, of course, is mere coincidence. But I stray from my theme. I am for consistency. So I am happy to lead the charge to legalize polygamy. Its time has come. Let’s review. Polygamy is already legal in 50 countries, making up 25% of the world. But in this country, bigots such as Abraham Lincoln have stood in the way for too long. The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act was signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Lincoln. In 1890 the LDS Church (Mormons) finally caved to the mood of the people as they formally abolished the practice for their followers.

But I want to take a stand. Just 20 years ago, only 27 percent supported same sex marriage. And today, about ten percent support the legalization of polygamy. Here’s my prediction. The day Gallup reports that number has topped 50 percent, we will see key political “leaders” evolve on that position, as well. And why shouldn’t they? Two years ago, Harry Cheadle suggested, “After gay marriage is legalized, polygamy will be next – and then bestiality and legal unions between lawn mowers and volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.” And why not? I mean, who are we to tell a man how many wives he can have? If the Biblical model of marriage is to be trashed because we have “evolved” in our views, why not take it to the next level? I can understand the case for same sex marriage, though I reject it patently. But what I can’t understand is how one can support same sex marriage while rejecting polygamy.

There is only one explanation for any political leader to “evolve” on one form of unbiblical shift in 239 years of American history while not shifting on the other. For 86 years of American history, polygamy was legal, while same sex marriage wasn’t. But now, the Supreme Court is on the verge of adopting the view of most Americans and key national leaders. The moment public opinion changes, so do these “leaders.” And I’ll bet you the second Gallup announces that 50.1 percent of Americans approve of polygamy, these same “leaders” will magically “evolve” in their views again. For those of you who support same sex marriage, why wait? How can you support same sex marriage but not polygamy? Who are you to tell three consenting adults they can’t enter into this relationship if they want to? If you wish to be intellectually honest, you have only two choices. Either reject both same sex marriage and polygamy, or support both. “Evolving” is for wimps. So if you are among the sixty percent who support same sex marriage, take a stand for your fellow Americans who have been persecuted since the days of President Lincoln. You are the change we’ve been waiting for. Speak out for polygamy, the great civil rights issue of our day. The best case for polygamy is same sex marriage.

Woman Defends Tom Brady In Her Own Obituary

By Dr. Mark Denison — They are the three issues that threaten civilization: world hunger, unrest in the Middle East, and “deflate-gate.” I can’t help with the first two, but let’s talk – one last time – about Tom Brady and “deflate-gate.” The footballs were deflated for the big AFC title game. The question America collectively asks is, “What did he know and when did he know it?” Millions have come to Brady’s defense. But count Patricia M. Shong, of Auburn, Massachusetts, as his chief apologist. Ms. Shong went further in her defense of her favorite player than even Brady has gone himself. She defended Brady in her obituary. That’s right – her obituary!

Here’s what happened. The 72-year-old woman knew she was dying, so she wrote her own obit, to be published after her death. It reads, in part, “Ms. Shong enjoyed scrapbooking, weekly card night, and spending time with family. And she would like to set the record straight. Brady is innocent!” Well, there you go. Case settled. I never had the privilege of knowing Ms. Shong, but I have one observation. I’m guessing that anyone who was so passionate in defending her football hero as to publish it as part of her own obituary didn’t wait until she died to defend her man. I’m sure she got in the face of every Brady critic and consistently stood up for her beliefs. But it was her last words that carried the most weight. Last words matter most.

I remember the last words my dad said to me, six days before he died. I remember the last words my mother said to me, seconds before slipping away. Last words matter. Let’s consider the last words of the man whose words still echo through the corridor of time. I’m talking about a man who never wrote a book, never owned a business, and never gave more than one recorded public address. He is a man who never traveled sixty miles from where he was born, never visited a large city, and never conducted a single media interview. He came from meager beginnings and died a meager death. He never married and had no children. He died in his early 30s and was laid to rest in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. But he is still the most quoted man who ever lived. But it is his last words I leave with you today. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  

Jesus’ last words were not to a magistrate or world leader. His words were not given to family or lifelong friends. His words were not given to the masses or offered for public discourse. Jesus’ final, most important words were offered to his closest followers. You see, Jesus’ goal was not to impress, but influence. And he knew that the best way to change the world was not by impressing the masses, but to charge a few radicals with the task of sharing the Good News. That strategy is still in place today. Last words matter. May thee last words of the King of kings and Lord of lords affect us, challenge us, and change us. Believers, we have our marching orders. It’s time to go to work.

Shooting in Waco

By Dr. Mark Denison — A Sunday meeting between five rival biker gangs seeking to settle their differences at a Waco Twin Peaks restaurant turned into a brawl that escalated to gunfire, leaving nine dead, 18 taken to hospitals, and 170 booked by local police. Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton said all involved were gang members. What began as a meeting to discuss their issues quickly escalated to a fistfight, then involved knives, chains, and firearms. The scene that resulted was “the most gruesome crime scene I’ve ever seen in my 34 years of law enforcement,” Swanton said. Witnesses reported hearing 100 rounds fired from 30 guns. Here’s where it gets interesting. Swanton said that over the past few months the police were aware of rival biker gangs causing issues at the Twin Peaks restaurant. “We have attempted to work with the local management of Twin Peaks to get that cut back, to no avail,” said Swanton. “They have not been of much assistance to us.” Jay Patel, operating partner of the Twin Peaks Waco franchise, posted a statement on Facebook saying, “We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts.” He told local media, “Our management team has had ongoing and positive communications with the police.” But Swanton said the management has not cooperated with authorities in addressing concerns about the gangs and called Patel’s statement a “fabrication.” Further investigation into the incident seems to confirm the police version of the story.

Lessons abound. My focus will be on the meeting the gangs set for the purpose of settling their differences. While their intent may have been good, they made one mistake. They failed to leave their knives, chains, and guns at home. While they wanted peace, they brought weapons to the negotiating table. I’ve learned a few things about conflict management through the years. Hurting people hurt people. The issue is never the issue. The list goes on. But I’ve also learned that when we pursue God’s Plan A with our own Plan B in our hip pocket, we are not all in with Plan A. And when God’s Plan A becomes difficult to carry out, we do what we know. We fall back on our own Plan B, so familiar to us. Life brings challenges. It is possible that you will never be in a biker gang. But life still brings challenges. And life brings conflicts. I bet, if you tried really hard, you can think of someone with whom you are in conflict right now. God’s Plan A is clear – go to that person in gentleness and prayer. Confess your own shortcomings. Go in peace with forgiveness already granted. Leave your Plan B at home. The lesson of Waco is the lesson of all human conflict. When we settle our differences our own way, carnage results. God has a better plan.

Tiger Woods – Lindsey Vonn Breakup

By Dr. Mark Denison — Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn announced the end of their relationship last week. The legendary golfer and skier had been dating for three years. Vonn announced, “After nearly three years together, Tiger and I have mutually decided to end our relationship. I will always cherish the memories that we’ve created together. He and his beautiful family will always hold a special place in my heart.” That sounded benign enough. But is there more to the story? When you look up “the man who had it all” in the dictionary, you will find Tiger Woods’ picture there. He has won 79 PGA tournaments, including 14 majors. His net worth is $600 million. He was married to swimsuit model Elin Nordegren, and has two gorgeous kids. But all that came unraveled under mysterious circumstances outside the couple’s home in Windermere, Florida when he drove his SUV into a fire hydrant November 27, 2009. Tiger later admitted to serial infidelities and sought treatment for sex addiction. He moved to Jupiter Island, Florida, where he shares custody of Sam and Charlie, ages eight and six. Having completed treatment for his addiction and committed to Lindsey, Tiger’s world was coming back together, if not his golf game. Then Tiger and Lindsey “mutually agreed” to break up. Tiger has admitted to sleepless nights since. He is not happy. And several media outlets, including ABC News, have reported there is more to the story. Woods was playing in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego in February. After 12 rounds he withdrew with back pain. That night, he was spotted with another woman and eventually admitted this relapse to Lindsey under the stress of the story becoming public. A friend of the couple said Woods “had a relapse in the sex department. Lindsey found out about women again, always while he’s on the road. Just like when he was with Elin.” I’m sure more of this story will soon come out. Sorting fact from fiction won’t be easy. But finding lessons from the Woods-Vonn breakup is. When hearing of such an event, the easy thing to do is joke about Tiger, criticize him, and mock him. After all, how can a man with $600 million, a gorgeous wife (and now girlfriend) toss it all away for a “faceless, nameless woman” (as described by the family friend)? Let me offer some humble advice. First, don’t criticize another person until you have your life 100 percent on track. (In other words, don’t criticize another person). Second, recognize the only perfect people are the ones you haven’t met yet. Third, addictions are real. Some psychiatrists estimate there are 150 legitimate addictions, and the average person has 1.3 of them. Fourth, the sin of Tiger Woods is not that he is addicted to sex. I’m sure he did not choose this addiction. The sin is not getting satisfactory help with it. If the stories are true, Tiger is among the high number of addicts who relapse, estimated at 90 percent by some studies. Fifth, the battle is not won in a day, a week, or even a year. There is no easy fix or pill to take. Recovery is hard work, and success is found only in the crucible of daily commitment and reliance on a loving God. Sixth, your addiction does not define you, nor does it make God love you less. And seventh, some addictions are good, such as serving God. Paul praised some believers who “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15). Why does the media go nuts when a star falls? Because we hunger for that kind of stuff. When others fall, we feel better about ourselves. Sure, it’s easy to judge Tiger Woods for his infidelity and addictions. It’s easy to criticize him for throwing it all away for a brief thrill. It’s easy to discuss his faults, and those of others. Celebrities like Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen, Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, Gary Hart, Matthew Perry, and Lindsay Lohan are easy targets. It would be easy to criticize those who died at the hand of their addictions and/or drugs, such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, Judy Garland, Whitney Houston, and Janis Joplin. Nothing would be easier than to criticize Tiger Woods as he suffers in the depths of his addictions and depression. And I will be the first to pile on. Just as soon as I have everything 100 percent right in my own life. Until then, I’ll let someone else throw the first stone.

Tom Brady Suspension – Is It Fair?

By Dr. Mark Denison — Four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady has been suspended for four games by the NFL, in punishment for “Deflategate.” Additionally, the Patriots were fined $1 million, lost two draft picks, and two equipment managers were suspended indefinitely. Was the suspension fair? Why did Brady do it? Did Brady do it? In the history of NFL suspensions we find names such as Ray Rice, who beat his fiancé, Adrian Peterson, who beat his son, and Michael Vick, who sponsored dog fighting. Does Tom Brady belong in this group? Let’s go back to December 17, 1925, the date of pro football’s first suspension. The player was Art Folz, quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals. In what became known as the Cardinals-Badgers Scandal, Folz paid his old high school football team to replace the Milwaukee Badgers in the Cardinals-Badgers game, so his Cardinals team would have an easy win, positioning them to unseat the defending champions, the Pottsville Maroons. Folz won the game, but lost his career to a lifetime ban.

But Tom Brady doesn’t belong in a list that includes Rice, Peterson, Vick, and Folz, does he? Certainly don’t mention him in the same breath as Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Lance Armstrong. But the NFL found that it was “more likely than not” that Brady instructed the equipment personnel to deflate the balls to a preferred level, and that he did it more than once. What are the lessons of Tom Brady? I see three. First, we are never satisfied. Brady already had three Super Bowl titles and two Super Bowl MVP awards. He was already considered one of the very best to play the game. He already had the fame, fortune, and family. His worth is estimated at $120 million and he makes $27 million a year. As for the game in question, they were playing the Indianapolis Colts for the AFC title. The Patriots were huge favorites, and went on to win, 45-7. They didn’t need to cheat. But we are never satisfied. History is littered with people who had it all, but for whom “it all” wasn’t quite enough. Second, we learn that actions have consequences. That is a law of the universe. We need look no further than David and Bathsheba. We get to choose our actions, but we don’t get to choose our consequences. Brady’s defenders argue that he wasn’t guilty, that all evidence was circumstantial. They miss the point. Actions have consequences. Clearly, the balls were underinflated. Clearly, that benefited the Patriots. Clearly, someone did that. And clearly, the balls were under the supervision of Tom Brady all week. (Each quarterback receives twelve balls to work with the week of the coming game.) The buck stopped with him. Someone had to be held accountable. If Brady did not personally order the balls to be deflated (an unlikely scenario according to league officials), he supervised those who did. Actions have consequences. Third, the problem is always the cover-up. Before the NFL suspended Brady, they made him an offer. They invited him to talk to them and explain his side of it. They asked to see his emails and text messages to the men handling the balls. They even allowed him to decide which emails and texts to share with them. He declined all offers. The league officials came to a pretty logical conclusion. Mr. Brady can face a four-game suspension and $1 million fine, or he can show us the clear evidence that completely exonerates him. He decided it was in his best interest to hide that information. He decided the texts and emails were more valuable than $1 million. To them, that sounded like a cover-up. It’s hard to read it any other way.

Either Brady had incriminating information he chose not to share, or he wanted to bless the NFL with $1 million of Patriots’ money. Clearly, this appeared to be a cover-up to league officials. It is still too early to tell if the suspension will stand. Brady can protest this, an arbitrator can be brought in, and the penalties may be lessened or even eliminated. But the lessons will still stand. You don’t have to be an NFL star and multi-millionaire to learn these lessons. They go to the heart of who we are. When we rely on the things this world has to offer, we never have enough. Actions have consequences. The cover-up is always the worst thing. Whether you are a fan of Tom Brady or thought we was the brother of Marcia Brady, let this be a learning point. Life is a lot better when we can learn from the mistakes of others before we make them ourselves.

Walmart’s Answer to 2,200 Laid Off Workers: No Chocolate

By Dr. Mark Denison — Walmart abruptly laid off 2,200 workers in five stores in early April. Executives for Walmart say the issues are bad plumbing and needed upgrades. They plan to reopen the stores in six months. But don’t feel sorry for the employees. Walmart notified the workers of the impending layoff a full two hours before it occurred. So, the workers had plenty of time – two hours – to find a new career. But Walmart went even further than that. Each employee was given a handout offering “stress management tips” in view of their sudden joblessness. The handout specifically advised them to avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and chocolate. “Care for yourself by eating well, exercising, and resting when needed,” the memo suggested. And they were encouraged to seek help from a professional counselor to help them through their transition. Finally, the workers were warned that “difficulty sleeping, nightmares, flashbacks, and feelings of being ‘hyper-alert’ are common and will likely diminish in time.”

Walmart is to be commended for offering a full two hours of notice of the layoffs. And they are to be praised for offering wise counsel. But no chocolate? Are you kidding me? In a time of crisis (losing one’s job would qualify) we need more chocolate, not less! Counseling and rest and caffeine avoidance are all fine. But no chocolate? Now let’s get serious. The average American worker will have seven jobs in the next 15 years. That means a lot of stress. And in times of stress, we turn to a quick fix. That is where chocolate comes in. But Jesus taught us that what matters is not what goes into a man, but what comes out (Mark 7). Chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine offer a quick fix in times of need. But if you want a permanent fix, try the One who said, “I have come to give you life, and life more abundantly.” As much as it pains me to admit it, chocolate is not the permanent fix we need in times of crisis. Walmart prepared a paper for those being laid off, in their time of need. God produced a better manual. It’s called the Bible. And it offers promises greater than what even chocolate can provide.

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

By Dr. Mark Denison — Tomorrow’s huge fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is being billed as “The Fight of the Century.” These all-time great boxers have dominated their sport for over a decade. Fans around the world have been waiting for this for years. I will confess that I will be watching, along with millions of others. It cost $100 to see the fight on pay-per-view. But I’m okay with that because a friend is paying the money and I’m just bringing the chips. Who will win the big fight? More on that in a bit. For those of you who are over 50, you will remember there was another “Fight of the Century” 44 years ago. On March 8, 1971 Muhammad Ali challenged Joe Frazier for the heavyweight championship of the world. Let’s consider the “Tale of the Tape” in comparing the two fights. In this comparison, you will get your answer to who will win tomorrow’s fight. Ali and Frazier were each paid $2.5 million. Mayweather and Pacquiao will take home $200 million and $150 million. If you paid for the Ali-Frazier fight, it cost you $5. If you pay for tomorrow’s fight, it will cost you $100 (unless you bring chips to a buddy’s house). You could sit ringside at the 1971 fight for $150. Tomorrow’s ticket will set you back $10,000. The first “Fight of the Century” had a gate of $1.5 million and grossed $50 million. Tomorrow’s “Fight of the Century” will have a gate of $74 million and gross $400 million.

So, who will win the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight? Mayweather and Pacquiao! That was easy! If they paid me $200 million to get into the ring, I’d do it in a second. And then I’d go to the canvass the next second, and the bank the second after that. Think about it. These guys will make more money in one night than the average worker makes in 4,000 years. But there is one very big drawback. Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Why is that? Because the more we think we can take care of ourselves, the less we tend to lean on God. I find great peace in knowing I have everything I need and that the God who cares for the sparrows also cares for me. I don’t need $200 million. But I’ll still watch the fight. After all, we may not have another “Fight of the Century” for another 10-15 years.

Bible Verse for June

PSALM 33:12-14, 16 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man . . . The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.”