Saturday, February 20, 2016

Book Review: Tying the Knot by Rob Green

The great secret of a successful marriage is this: It is more about your love for Christ than it is about your compatibility as a couple” [143].

I’ve been waiting for a book like this for a long time. The modern-day biblically faithful church has gone a long way toward shedding the baggage of secular philosophies in its counseling ministry. Marriage counseling, and pre-marital counseling in particular, seems to be one of the remaining hold-outs. Personality profiles, tests, and such seem to occupy a greater place of importance than examining the basic commitments of the heart. Much of what is out there focuses on superficial issues, rarely penetrating all the way to the heart of what goes on between partners in a marriage.

This book finally breaks free. Rob Green has written a thoroughly Christ-centered premarital counseling book, investing the topic with the seriousness it deserves. The chapter titles demonstrate this:
  • Chapter 1: Jesus Must Be the Center of Your Life
  • Chapter 2: Love with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 3: Problem Solving with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 4: Roles and Expectations with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 5: Communication with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 6: Finances with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 7: Community with Jesus as the Center
  • Chapter 8: Intimacy with Jesus as the Center

Green does not merely tip his hat to the centrality of Christ. Each chapter fulfills the promise of developing the Christ-centered focus. Using the best of the insights of the biblical counseling movement, the author lays a solid foundation of teaching, unfolding principles that couples will be able to use for years afterwards.

The book concludes with a section for mentors that summarizes the principal points and trajectories intended in each chapter. It’s rare to find a book this good that is also so brief. I’ve finally found a pre-marital book that I’m satisfied with. This is a five-star book, and I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Don't "improve" it, REMOVE IT!

When Alexander Hamilton wrote the Federalist #17 to the people of New York on December 5, 1787, he promised them that under the proposed constitution the federal government would never interfere with the “administration of private justice between the citizens of the same State, the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature.” Hamilton thought those matters would be left to the states since they would “contribute nothing to the dignity, to the importance, or to the splendor of the national government.”

Hamilton had not a clue that by 1862 Abraham Lincoln would create the Department of Agriculture as an independent department of the federal government, and that by 1889 Grover Cleveland would give it Cabinet status. By 1914 the federal government was pouring money into all sorts of agricultural cooperative and extension programs in every county in every state in America. By 1933, the Department of Agriculture was paying farmers not to farm, a consequence of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933. Even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1936 that regulation of agriculture was a state power and not a federal one, the busy bees in the federal leviathan tried again with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, and we’ve been paying farmers not to farm ever since—currently to the tune of twenty billion dollars annually.

In 1941 an Ohio farmer, Roscoe Filburn, grew more wheat than the law allowed him to and he was fined $117.11. He took the case all the way to the Supreme Court (Wickard v. Filburn, 317 US 111) and lost because the Court shoehorned the case into a matter of interstate commerce, which the constitution does allow the federal government to regulate.

It was an awful decision. The court said that even though Filburn was growing wheat for his own animals and not selling it across state lines (not selling it at all, actually), it indirectly affected interstate commerce because Filburn was not purchasing wheat for his animals and that failure to purchase affected interstate markets. The decision opened a legal Pandora’s box, because now virtually any economic activity could be construed as affecting interstate commerce, therefore the federal government could control and regulate economic activity.

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay would be horrified to see how the Supreme Court has virtually shredded the constitution with boneheaded decisions such as these, the executive and legislative branches going along as willing conspirators.

This is the problem with the federal government: it is totally out of control, having usurped powers the constitution reserves to the states. It’s not enough to scale back these unconstitutional Cabinet departments and federal regulatory agencies—they have to be completely eliminated, the programs shut down, the workers let go, the buildings and the assets sold, the lands turned back over to the states.

The best use of the federal legislative branch would be to declare a two-year moratorium on new legislation, and spend the next two years repealing all the legislation that usurps the power and rights of the states.

Don’t let the politicians bamboozle you: we don’t need to improve these agencies and departments, we need to eliminate them. Totally. We don’t need to reduce waste, fraud and abuse—we need to surgically remove it by fully dismantling these unconstitutional cancers.

Someone might ask, “but what if we need some of these programs?” Fine. Let your state and your local government handle it, but don’t saddle the taxpayers in the other forty-nine states with your pet programs.