Harry Reeder on sexual reckoning: Our conscience tells us ‘something’s wrong here’ even while our culture promotes sin


 

 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I’d like to take you to a number of stories today. I’m going to highlight it with a story out of The Washington Examiner.

Of course, our listeners are probably, no doubt, familiar with the situation with Roy Moore down in Alabama and the accusations about him dating underage girls. Now we have Al Franken in the news and his situation, groping an individual on a Middle East USO Tour for our military.

Now, The Washington Examiner is reporting an individual by the name of Bill O’Neil, who is an Ohio Supreme Court justice and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and last weekend he came out on Facebook and said, “Hey, I’m going to save my political opposition some research time. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that I’ve had illicit affairs with over 50 beautiful women.” There was a lot of pushback and he offered an apology.

The odd thing about this is an individual would have been ashamed about this behavior just a few years ago, but now we have a gubernatorial candidate that, in a sense, he’s bragging about it.

DR. REEDER: Tom, this cascade – what did one commentator say – it’s raining evil men in the culture who are doing these things, but the fact is there’s clearly this bubbling up – almost shouting out, now – sexual orgy cultural behavior patterns that all of us feel a right revulsion to.

From a Biblical world and life view, I want to point out three things.

It is very clear that, while this is throughout the culture, notice where all of these reports are coming from: They’re coming from the seats of political power in our governments, state and federal. And the second arena from which they’re coming is the entertainment celebrity culture.

Our forebears understood this from their Christian world and life view: Those positions have power and prominence and prestige.

And, whenever you begin to accumulate power and prominence and prestige and you do not put in a structure in your life to hold you accountable and to keep your life transparent, the power, the money, the prestige and the prominence begins to almost numb your brain to sensibilities and you begin to think whatever you want, you deserve. Your appetites can be gratified in any way you want them to be gratified.

Therefore, we’re in a culture where the powerful and the prominent have been running rampant with a thinly veiled façade over the top of their behavior and now it is coming out.

Secondly, we are in a culture that has fostered that. Recently, Hugh Hefner died and all of the accolades came out. Well, what is the “Hefner Playboy Culture?” One of self-gratification and self-absorption and a predominant attention is given to gratification of one’s sexual desires with the result that women are objectified, marital boundaries are erased and sexual ethics are destroyed.

We then embrace, in the name of self-gratification, the “Hefner Playboy Culture,” now we’re getting the results of it. Back during the Clinton episode and the Monica Lewinsky affair in the Oval Office and the things that took place, instead of dealing with them and addressing them for what they were, we absorbed them into the culture, making certain practices the norm in the culture and certain considerations that the prominent and the powerful get a wink and a nod.

That’s even been built into the culture of our Senate and they do not actually exist under the same consequences of sexual harassment laws that the rest of the population – they have their own set – and they even have an ability to pay off any settlements using taxpayer money so they have no personal liabilities in those areas.

Here is the celebrity culture of Hollywood, here is the powerful culture of government and it is no accident that that acts almost like an anesthesia and a stimulant at one and the same time for behavior like this because there is no salt and light being spoken to it with clarity.

The prophetic ministry of the people of God and the lifestyle of the people of God, instead of standing distinct and calling people to a way of life that honors what God has created to be sacred, such as sexuality within the bounds of marriage and marriage, itself, as sacred, the church has lost its voice and has lost its impact.

The third thing I want to mention, the only ethic our culture now embraces concerning sexual behavior is the ethic of consent and that is erased very easily.

The reason this is bothering everybody is that, in our God-given conscience, even though our conscience is not an infallible guide – God’s word is an infallible guide – but our conscience tells us something’s wrong here.

Romans 1 describes the pagan lifestyle of sexual immorality, sexual perversion and social approval of it and then it makes the comment, “Even though they do these things,” – they know the sinfulness of these things – “and the work of the law is written on their hearts.”

In other words, the Ten Commandments and all of their sanctities – the sanctity of God, the sanctity of worship, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of work, the sanctity of sex– all of those are covered in the Ten Commandments – and the work of that, the ethics of God’s law, deep down inside, we know that that is what is right and what we’re doing is wrong.

Therefore, what you’re seeing is a culture now in revulsion against the very thing that promotes it. And there’s a revulsion, why? The revulsion is there because the work of the law is upon our heart and we know this is not right. There’s something wrong here, but it’s not only wrong because of its effect upon the victims, it’s wrong because it’s wrong.

Because it’s wrong, it will have deleterious effects, it will bring destruction to the culture and it will bring a sense of vileness and a feeling of filth that just pervades everything. And, inside, our conscience is saying, “This isn’t right,” but, at the same time, in our rebellion against God, we promote it and the powerful and the prominent, they have the avenue to do what they want whenever they want it with a thinly veiled cover over top of it.

And then, when this erupts out of it, we know it’s wrong, and we know why it’s there and we know that there’s really only one answer and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Victims can be reclaimed, violators can be brought to repentance and a Savior can save us not only from the penalty of our sins, but the power and the practice of our sins.

We have to keep speaking prophetically into the public square. We have to keep promoting that which is good and right for public policy if we love our neighbors.

I am being propelled back to the Great Commission of making disciples and of evangelizing and discipling so that men and women of God know how to speak truth into the culture and, more importantly, will embrace truth in their life so there’s something different about them.

And, because of that difference, they become salt and light and this evil becomes restrained and the antidote to evil, which is the power and the grace of God in Christ, is proclaimed.

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, you’ve laid out an accurate sequence of how we’ve had this cascading, as you’ve said, of the sexual sin. Can we see a cascading of righteousness?

DR. REEDER: To use the cascade metaphor, then we just desperately need a Heaven-sent revival. If that happens, what you will then see – can I use another metaphor – you’ll see an artisan well.

You know, Tom, when you and I get together in Greenville and do some taping, we slip over to the golf course. When I had my dreams of golf at East Carolina, we would play that golf course, and I think it’s the 14th hole is that artisan well that just keeps bubbling up, and we would drink from it and how refreshing it was. Now, 40 years later, I go there and, instead of that water bubbling up and running off, they have captured it and now there is a beautiful lake that just keeps getting filled with this artisan water.

And that’s what I’d like to see in my country and throughout the whole world, is the cascading down of the rain captured into the hearts of the church of Jesus Christ bubbling up and filling the world with the truth.

Tom, I love a passage in Acts Chapter 5 when Peter and John are arrested and the charge is this: “You have filled all of Jerusalem with this Gospel of Jesus Christ.” That’s what I would love to happen again with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

6 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

7 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn