Archive for June 2017

Defining Natural Rights   1 comment

As I concentrate on rewriting for my next book, I thought I’d give a friend a little airtime. This is Part 2 of a series, so follow his links to start at the beginning. Lela

Source: Defining Natural Rights

Defining Natural Rights

[NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts intended to work out the principles of Natural Law. It builds off of the posts that have come before it.  If you have not already read Free Will: the First Principle of Natural Law, I strongly suggest that you do so before reading this post, as this post is a continuation of the former.  I also ask that you understand, while this is not technically a formal argument, neither is it a casual argument.  Thus, it is not necessarily the easiest thing to read, but then, this is because I am trying to explain some difficult concepts in a manner as easily understood as I know how.  I trust that you will bear with me.  In return, I will break the whole into smaller, more easily digested posts.]

Image result for image of natural rightsNow that we have established that the first principle of Natural Law is our free will, we need to develop our definition of a Natural Right.  As a matter of habit, where matters of definition are concerned, I start by citing the definition of a natural:

Definition of NATURAL

2a : being in accordance with or determined by nature

b : having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature

5: implanted or being as if implanted by nature : seemingly inborn natural talent for art>

7: having a specified character by nature natural athlete>

b : formulated by human reason alone rather than revelation <natural religion> <natural rights>

Next, the definition of right:

Definition of RIGHT

1: qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval

2: something to which one has a just claim: as

a : the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled rights> right to decide>

3: something that one may properly claim as due right>

Now, using these two definitions, let us define a Natural Right.  First, we exist in corporeal form, and as such, are subject to the laws of physics as they govern mater in this universe.  Thus, whatever form we take is a matter of what we call nature.  Second, as our free will is a part of our total make up, and is – at least in some way – connected to or dependent upon our corporeal form, it is a matter of nature that we have free will.  And as our free will is unique to each of us – indeed, it defines us as individuals.  We cannot be separated from our will for, without it, we cease to be.  It is inalienable to who we are.  Therefore, we can say that our free will is a natural part of our being.  So, in every sense, our free will meets the definition of “natural:” both because it is a natural part of this universe, and because it is inalienable to who we are as individuals.

Next, as our free will is unique to ourselves, it is not subject to control by any outside influence — unless we allow it (in which case, it would still be an act of free will: the act of  surrendering to that outside control).  Our will is the very essence of who we are, and as we are given free will by our Creator, this imparts a just claim to control over our will.  We are sovereign over our will.  Thus, we have a right in our free will.  And since that will is a natural part of this world and who we are, we can say we have a Natural Right to our will.  What’s more, again, because our will is a gift from our Creator, our claim to our will cannot be said to be greater or less than the claim anyone else has to their own will.  Nor can they make a just claim to ours.  We are all equal in our claim to our will.  Jefferson explained it this way:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And thus, we have our definition of a Natural Right:

A Natural Right is that to which one has a natural and just claim as a function of their being – both in physical existence, and in will.

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Posted June 30, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

  1 comment

So Rick has been gone for a month on a medical mission to Tanzania, which shows his really lousy timing. And I don’t feel qualified (enough) to analyze the Senate’s new-ish health insurance bill without my doctor-expert. But he found connectivity a few days ago and sent me his thoughts on the subject.

It’s disappointing that big places of Obamacare are left in place and Rick believes the current “repeal” legislation will merely slow the death spiral and not arrest it, but he notes that, for the most part, this is really a Medicaid reformation bill and that is definitely much needed. Block granting Medicaid to the states would improve quality of care and reduce overall costs. We’ve had 20 years of welfare reform to bolster the idea that states do it better than the federal government does.

Critics are savaging this idea, implying that “deep cuts” will hurt the quality of care. Some of them are even engaging in inflamatory and highly inaccurate rhetoric about people dying because of cutbacks. The problem with this is that nobody is proposing to cut Medicaid. Republicans are merely proposing to limit annual spending increases. But just like when Sarah Palin refused to allow the Alaska budget to grow chasing higher oil prices, in the upside-down world of Washington DC budgeting, this counts a “cut”.

The Washington Post contributes to this falsehood with a column explicitly designed to argue that the program is being cut.

…the Senate proposal includes significant cuts to Medaid spending…the Senate bill is more reliant on Medicaid cuts than even the House bill…spending on the program would decline in 2026 by 26 percent…That’s a decrease of over $770 billion on Medicaid over the next 10 years. …By 2026, the federal government would cut 1 of every 4 dollars it spends on Medicaid.

A New York Timesarticle even had a remarkably inaccurate headline as it shares out the dishonest rhetoric, especially in the first few paragraphs.

Senate Republicans…took a major step…, unveiling a bill to make deep cuts in Medicaid… The Senate measure…would also slice billions of dollars from Medicaid, a program that serves one in five Americans… The Senate bill would also cap overall federal spending on Medicaid: States would receive a per-beneficiary allotment of money. …State officials and health policy experts predict that many people would be dropped from Medicaid because states would not fill the fiscal hole left by the loss of federal money.

Here’s a chart showing the truth. The data come directly from the Congressional Budget Office.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, it’s not a cut if spending rises from $393 billion to $464 billion.

Federal outlays on the program will climb by about 2 percent annually.

If opponents of reform want the program to grow faster in order to achieve different goals, that’s fine (everybody is allowed an opinion), but they should be honest about the numbers.

Of course, there is more than math involved here. There’s also policy.

The Wall Street Journal recently opined on the important goal of giving state policymakers the power and responsibility to manage the program. The bottom line is that recent waivers have been highly successful.

…center-right and even liberal states have spent more than a decade improving a program originally meant for poor women and children and the disabled. Even as ObamaCare changed Medicaid and exploded enrollment, these reforms are working… The modern era of Medicaid reform began in 2007, when Governor Mitch Daniels signed the Healthy Indiana Plan that introduced consumer-directed insurance options, including Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). Two years later, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri applied for a Medicaid block grant that gives states a fixed sum of money in return for Washington’s regulatory forbearance. Both programs were designed to improve the incentives to manage costs and increase upward mobility so fewer people need Medicaid. Over the first three years, the Rhode Island waiver saved some $100 million in local funds and overall spending fell about $3 billion below the $12 billion cap. The fixed federal spending limit encouraged the state to innovate, such as reducing hospital admissions for chronic diseases or transitioning the frail elderly to community care from nursing homes. The waiver has continued to pay dividends under Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo. …This reform honor roll could continue: the 21 states that have moved more than 75% of all beneficiaries to managed care, Colorado’s pediatric “medical homes” program, Texas’s Medicaid waiver to devolve control to localities from the Austin bureaucracy.

By contrast, the current system in states that have not moved toward block granting is not successful. It doesn’t even generate better health, notwithstanding hundreds of billions of dollars of annual spending. Both Rick and I have worked in the medical field intersecting Medicaid and we’ve both seen how badly it works. Medicaid is what single-payer health insurance looks like and it isn’t pretty.

Avik Roy explained this perverse result in Forbes back in 2013.

Piles of studies have shown that people on Medicaid have health outcomes that are no better, and often worse, than those with no insurance at all. …authors of the Oregon study published their updated, two-year results, finding that Medicaid “generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes.” The result calls into question the $450 billion a year we spend on Medicaid… And all of that, despite the fact that the study had many biasing factors working in Medicaid’s favor: most notably, the fact that Oregon’s Medicaid program pays doctors better; and also that the Medicaid enrollees were sicker, and therefore more likely to benefit from medical care than the control arm.

First, there are no Medicaid cuts, as the left is asserting, and second, Medicaid as currently operating, does such a poor job that it doesn’t have any effect on health outcomes. If the GOP actually did cut the program, it is entirely likely that people would actually get better care with no insurance at all. But that is not what is being proposed. The administration of Medicaid would move to the states, which was a highly successful improvement to welfare programs in the 1990s and is now working in a handful of states for Medicaid.

So whatever you’re hearing in the news is not news … it’s propaganda, created by those who don’t want to lose their power to control the lives of others.

Free Will: the First Principle of Natural Law   Leave a comment

This is actually from a friend’s blog. He did this series a couple of years ago and I reblogged it then, but something reminded me of it recently, so I thought I would rerun it. I’m in the midst of rewriting and these are good thoughts to entertain as we head toward Independence Day. Lela

Source: Free Will: the First Principle of Natural Law

Free Will: the First Principle of Natural Law

[NOTE: This will be the first of a series of posts intended to work out the principles of Natural Law.  It will draw from the body of works and understandings of those who have come before me, but it is largely the result of my own effort to work out the principles that govern human behavior.  Unless I cite another source, I am asserting that all parts of the extended argument which will follow are my own.  If I happen to argue something that parallels or agrees with something from another source, I can assure you, it is only because that source and I were on the same path and, should there be such convergences (and I already know there are), it only serves to validate our common conclusion(s): that there does exist a Natural Law to human interaction in this universe; that it can be discovered through human reason; and that is establishes a universal moral code by which we ought to live.]

Image result for image of free willMany people have started from the assumption that we own our life, but while I agree with this assumption, I disagree that it is the first principle of Natural Law.  As I look to history, study human nature and even the holy books of all the world’s major religions, I find there is a central theme running through every one of them: that man has free will.  There are those who would argue we cannot know this, but they are wrong.  We can know this because we each think.  This is part of the brilliance of Descartes’ simple phrase:

“I think, therefore I am.”

Not only does that phrase prove we exist, it proves we exist as individuals, and that we have free will.

No one forced Descartes to think those words; he did that of his own free will.  Nor did the random happenstance of this universe cause him to think those words.  While it may be fashionable in some intellectual circles to believe that everything that has or will ever happen was pre-ordained by the circumstances of the universe at the first moment it was born, logic dictates that this cannot possibly be the case of our reality.  If it were, then how could we ever imagine something that has no basis in any reality?  This is a difficult concept to understand, but it is one we must examine because it is the most common avenue of attack for those who seek to deny the existence of free will.

The logical point here is easy to state, but not so easy to comprehend.  If you are nothing but a collection of matter and you are hopelessly bound to do whatever the forces acting upon you from the first instant of time dictate you must do, then how can you imagine something that does not, has never and can never exist in this universe?  A perfect example would be the world of Harry Potter.  Magic does not exist in this world, yet, a human imagined something that does not and cannot exist.  Logically, this is impossible – unless you have free will.  It is a logical extension of another philosophical principle: that which is finite cannot imagine or understand the concept of infinite.  If you think about it, this is the primary difference between us and the animals: we know there is a past, present and future.  We can even understand that which is infinite.  The fact that you are reading and understanding these words is proof of this as the logic governing the English language is infinite.  It existed before this universe began and will exist even after this universe ends.  So, what all of this means is that we do – in fact – have free will and it can be demonstrated through reason.

There is another aspect of free will that will help bolster my argument.  The ability to create is a function of free will.  If we look at our example of harry Potter again, that story is not only a creation, but an example of free will.  If we were just matter doing what physics dictates, then there would be no way for us to imagine anything outside the actual existence of this universe.  The best we could do would be to re-arrange the things we see in our universe, but little more.  And though we might call this “creation,” a re-arranging is all it would actually be: putting that which already is together in different ways.  It would not actually be a “creation.”  But Harry Potter goes totally outside everything we know of this universe and the laws that govern it and truly creates a new world, a world that lives only in our imaginations.  That is an act of free will.  This then means that the idea we are just matter going through the motions dictated by the universe is a creation, which affirms the existence of free will.

There is one more aspect of human existence that speaks to the existence of free will.  Humans can not only discover and learn to understand the laws that govern this universe; we can harness them to serve our desires.  That not only demonstrates that we have the ability to understand the infinite, but that we have free will.  Desire, itself, is a manifestation of our will, as are the actions we take to satisfy that desire.  So, when you turn on your computer to read this post, you benefit from man’s ability to understand, harness and manipulate the principles governing electromagnetism (among other things).  At once, this demonstrates the ability to understand the infinite, to manipulate natural laws, to create and – ultimately – free will.  Everything about our existence speaks to the fact that we have free will.

Now for the most important aspect of free will.  It is free will.  That means you control what you think and believe.  While outside forces may influence you, ultimately, you are the only one who can control your thoughts and your beliefs – your heart.  You make or break yourself depending upon how strong you are.  If you would rather go along to get along, you can be easily controlled – but that was still your choice.  However, if you are strongly rooted in what you believe, you may resist attempts to control you unto death, and many have done just that.  And that – again – speaks to the existence of free will, for how could the universe dictate self-destruction?  It cannot.  That would take an act of free will by a being capable of acting outside of the universes laws of physics.  In other words, it would require a being with free will.

Finally, for those of faith who may be reading his, there is one more point I would make.  In most religions of which I am aware, the Creator grants us free will.  Now, do not misunderstand: I am not saying the Creator is not sovereign over all things, because He is.  If He were not, then He couldn’t be the Creator.  But even though He is sovereign, He has still granted us free will.   It has to be that free will is the one thing the Creator has given us over which He has chosen not to exercise complete control.  He can take our wealth, health, freedom – even our lives.  But He has chosen to allow us free will.   If this were not the case, we could not worship Him; we could not love Him; we couldn’t even reject Him or refuse to believe in Him because all of those things require free will.

Therefore, the first principle upon which all Natural Law must rest is that of free will.

Posted June 29, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Interview with Loredana Gasparotto   Leave a comment

Today’s interview is with Loredana Gasparotto. Loredana is my first interview with a film maker and screen writer. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself.
Loredana Gasparotto PictureMy name is Loredana Gasparotto. I was born and raised in a small, medieval and enchanting Italian town called Bassano Del Grappa. Bassano is a beautiful place
full of history and beauty, however it always felt too small, like a pair of tight
shoes.

The land I longed for was far, far away: it was America. As I landed in NYC at the end of 1999, I felt immediately at home. I’ve been living in NY for the past 17 years and it’s been a long, intricate and adventurous journey that took me to write Pentimento, my first feature film. This long life journey brought me to recognize and completely accept who I am: I am an artist. But what does it mean being an artist in America, the land of opportunities?

PENTIMENTO Trailer

Well, being true to yourself and your art in America, where conformity and success
are measured in terms of popularity and money is a true challenge. My questions
were and still are: is it finding buyers for my art what makes me a true artist? Or
does it turn me into a salesperson and a product instead of an artist? I realized that I
had to set aside all those marketing values. They did not belong to me and I did not
belong to them. Being an artist for me is the freedom to be myself. Free to search
and free to fail without the worry of being liked by “consumers”.

I wrote Pentimento with those ideals in mind. It might sounds heroic, but its’s a
continuous struggle. And why did I become a “writer”? Something that I never
liked in the first place? Because I had to. I had to write my own ideas in order to
turn them into moving images, in order to tell stories through filmmaking.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I was forced to learn to write to make movies. I had to accept that it was a
necessary step in order to communicate my ideas and produce them into film.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

Initially I wrote scripts following the process my teacher taught me, which is to
begin writing a film treatment first.

Well, let me tell you: it probably works if you have to pitch your idea to a studio
executive, but I don’t think it’s the most creative nor the most fulfilling way to
write. I personally follow the Sylvester Stallone’s method, lol: Write and just write
until you get the first draft of the script done! I thought it was ridiculous at first, but
it works! I finished the first draft of my second feature in 2 days ( however, I had
been thinking about it for 10 years� ) I just let the protagonist go on her journey
without any judgments. It was a fun and wild ride� loved it!

Loredana Self-Portrait

What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

Well I would think that my favorite genre is thriller and comedy. I believe these are
the two genre I am drawn to by default. Most of the stories and scenes I write are
scary or bizarre.
What are you passionate about?

Pentimento PosterI am passionate about honesty and originality. I watch tons of films and TV shows.
When I see something that stands out I am the happiest and more excited person
ever!

 

What is something you cannot live without?
Music, films, the sun, coffee, my iMac, my iPhone, my bike and sleep. Love to
sleep! �

 

 

Where do you get the inspiration for your films?

I get my inspiration from life. I came across so many weird things and crazy
people, that I can say with all honestly: life is much weirder than fiction.

Pentimento Preview

 

Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing
and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?

Weirdly enough, I keep repeating the action of having the main characters looking
outside windows. What’s up with that? I have that in all my movies! Definitely a
cycle that needs to be broken. Dream sequences are also a biggie. Seriously. All my
movies have dream sequences. I don’t even plan to create them consciously. I just
put them in . I think it probably has to do with my night dreams. I have crazy
intense dreams basically every night. So I guess I tend to recreate my daily life
dynamics. Usually all my characters become conscious through a bizarre dream
experience. Almost like a prophetic or paranormal perceptions.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

I did try to write stories following an outline, but it never really worked for me. I
mean it always forced the story and it was not an organic progression. When I
began following my characters instead, everything fell into place. As I follow
them, the story creates itself.

 

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?
I usually don’t begin a story with that in mind. Usually the beginning is just about
the journey of the character. However, I believe it’s the ending of the story that
defines its message. How is the heroine/hero’s journey going to end? Would she or
he find what they were looking for or not? The ending will define the moral of the
story as well as the philosophical views of the writer.

 

What do you want the readers to think or feel after watching in your films?

I’d like them to leave with a new prospective on how stories can be told and about
how life could be. I’d like them to be surprised.

 

What influenced your decision to self-produce?

Well, as a first time feature film director I had a super tough time finding investors
to make the film.

I searched for a very long time. I wrote proposals, met people etc… However, it is
extremely difficult to find individuals who’ll dare to invest in your ideas without
the guarantee of financial gain. And of course the film business is very
unpredictable. We can’t ever really predict what will be a hit or a flop. At the end,
I realized I had to invest my own money.With that, comes the pros and cons.
One of the major cons is that the production value of the film is not as
sophisticated as the one of a multimillion dollar production. Also the production
and post production phases are incredibly longer.

However you have enormous freedom to create. And I truly believe that my best
ideas came out of this process.

Creativity is the daughter of scarcity. If I’d had access to all the tools I wished for, I
wouldn’t have had to squeeze my brain to come up with new creative ways to solve a
problem.

I truly believe that Pentimento is a unique film because I was forced to invent
solutions to all the productions issues I encountered. I’m actually very please with
that.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-producing?

It’s definitely the creative control and originality that comes with it.

 

Who designed your posters?

I actually made the choice to do it myself. I was inspired by the posters of Wong
kar Wai’s film posters like Fallen Angels and Chunking Express.

I decided to utilize the technique of mashup to create an original poster, by the
way still in the making. I utilized this technique for my previous art work. I think
it’s a good fit for the film.

 

What sort of research do you do for your films?
Research is one of my favorite aspects of writing. I learn so much in the process.
For my second feature I am researching a varieties of topics from insights on the
NYC real estate market to various species of NYC BUGS. From Saint Francis, the
magic flute and Snow White to dumpsters recycle. Did you know that dumpster
recycling in NY is the new Trend? So much fun!

 

How do people interested in your work find you?

https://www.facebook.com/LoredanaGasparottoArt/

https://www.facebook.com/Pentimentofilm/

Liberty Conundrum   Leave a comment

Freedom can be a tricky concept because it tends to mean different things to different people. No-one really thinks that everyone should be free to do whatever they please. To everyone, “freedom” means freedom to do those things that don’t sufficiently harm others. There’s also an element of freedom from constraint imposed by particular actors ( such as government using the threat of legal action) and not other actors (such as churches using moral or spiritual sanctions). Church attendance is voluntary and portable. Government edict is neither.

Image result for image of freedomOf course, that brings us to the subject of harm. In a moral sense, what constitutes “harm”? Does paying someone a low wage for their work count as harming them? How about discriminating against them in various transactions? Interfering with their business relations? Libeling them? Having sex with their spouses? Revealing information about them that they view as private?

In a practical sense, causes “harm”? Does legal private gun possession really cause more crime and injury than would be present if guns were prohibited?

Ooo, that brings us to the question of when can avoiding some kinds of harm justify restrictions on people’s freedom? When can some behavior — e.g., the distribution of guns or alcohol — be properly restricted when the distribution is not itself harmful, but makes it possible for third parties to act harmfully?

Well-intentioned people can answer these questions differently depending on their individual points of view.

 

Abraham Lincoln asked these questions in his Address at a Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, April 18, 1864:

The world has never had a good definition of liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in need of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.

With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty.

It’s a useful reminder that “liberty” in the abstract is not self-defining. Most rhetoric that simply refers to “liberty” — whether in the context of slavery, where Lincoln said this, or abortion rights, or national sovereignty, and so on — rests on the question of the proper definition of people’s rights; and it’s that definition that cuts to the heart of the debate.

Many questions can’t be resolved by just talking about “liberty” or “not imposition one’s beliefs on others” in the abstract. If liberty means freedom to do things that don’t violate the rights of others, the important questions are

  • what constitutes those “rights”
  • what counts as violation,
  • who counts as “others”

At that point, you have to take the discussion of liberty out of the abstract and look at in reality.

Posted June 27, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 26th June   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

This week we’re writing about what advice has stuck with us for a long time, and who gave us that advice.

Nothing was ever sugar-coated for me as a child. My mother Dot, with her typical East End tell-it-like-it-is attitude, drummed the following advice into me from a very early age:

‘Never get old and fat, because first you’ll see ’em with one stick, then you’ll see ’em with two sticks, and then you won’t see ’em at all, so everything in moderation.’

As a child this always gave me a terrible mental image of an unfortunate whale-like, wrinkled person stuck and floundering in an armchair like a flapping fish.

Up until the age of about 12 or 13 when I was given pocket money, sweets were rationed to one small bag on Saturdays only.  If Dot saw me trying to take more than 3 biscuits, then the tin would be quickly whipped away and…

View original post 257 more words

Posted June 26, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Advice Well Received   2 comments

What Advice Has Stuck With You For A Long Time? And Who Gave You That Advice?
Did someone give you some great advice at a certain time in your life? Think back to that time and write down the advice as you remember it.

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So last week, I alluded to a period in my marriage that was not easy. I didn’t go into detail because I wanted to use it for this week’s blog hop article.

Image result for image of christian adviceBrad doesn’t make a secret that he’s a recovering alcoholic. We have a rule where we try not to bring up things from decades ago to shove in each other’s faces today, but I have to sort of do that to make this blog post make sense. I’m doing this with his permission.

Relapse happens with alcoholics, but recovery is not guaranteed. About 22 years ago, Brad went off the rails and I decided that for the sake of our daughter and myself, but also for Brad’s sake, he couldn’t be with us for a while. This coincided with the younger adults of our church choosing to dis-fellowship Brad until he straightened up. As a friend of ours put it, “If you show up at our door asking me to drive you to an AA meeting, I’m all in, but if it’s for anything else … don’t bother.” That might sound cruel, but Brad now credits those people as some of his best friends.

My choice to make an ultimatum (get help or lose us) came from advice I received at Alanon, but how I did it was entirely based on advice from my friend Theresa.

Theresa had been a missionary’s wife who discovered that her husband was sexually abusing their sons. By the time of my crisis, she’d been divorced from her husband for 25 years. She’d never remarried, which I had always assumed was because she had so many kids, but when my decision became public knowledge in the church, she came to me to give me some time-honored advice from a modern perspective.

I HATED that we were moving toward divorce (and at that time, it didn’t look like there would be another outcome). I knew that divorce outside of the exemption for desertion of a Christian spouse by a non-Christian spouse or adultery was not Biblically allowed. It bothered me that I was deliberately sinning. But Theresa explained things to me in a different way.

 7:10 To the married I give this command – not Ibut the Lord 8  – a wife should not divorce a husband 7:11 (but if she does, let her remain unmarriedor be reconciled to her husband), and a husband should not divorce his wife.  1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Take a really good look at that clause in verse 11. Theresa chose to remove herself and her children from a damaging situation. She divorced her creeper husband. More power to her. We should never seek divorce lightly. “Irreconcilable differences” is a trivial excuse to end a covenant relationship sealed before God, but some marriages are not salvageable for deeper reasons than he leaves the toilet seat up or he watches football all weekend. There are husbands who beat their wives (and women who abuse their husbands). There are spouses who gamble away every dime and others who drink it away. Alcohol shuts down important centers of the brain having to do with reliability, self-control and judgment. Brad was doing things that needed to stop and he just couldn’t see that through the amber haze he was shrouding his mind in. I needed to keep a roof over our daughter’s head and I couldn’t afford his habits any longer. I provided him with a way back to us before I closed the door on him. But it looked like he wasn’t going to take that lifeline and I felt guilty that I was disobeying God by divorcing my husband.

Image result for image of christian adviceAnd then Theresa showed me this one little clause and my perspective changed.

“If you leave (for a good reason), remain unmarried or be reconciled.”

When Theresa left her husband, she did so to protect her children. He remarried (and there’s tales to tell about that one), but Theresa never did. She understood that she was still bound by the covenant they had both made before God. She was certain that (we’ll call him) John was a Christian, so his remarriage didn’t absolve her of her covenantal responsibility. She remained unmarried as an act of honoring God’s standards.

God blessed her by the way. Jobs fell out of the sky for this woman and her younger children, who had escaped their father’s predations by her choices, turned out to be wonderfully committed Christians who married wonderfully committed Christians. Some of her older children worked through their issues and are adults to be proud of. She was a respected elder in our church and among Christians throughout the state. And, she was happy, surrounded by grandchildren, financially secure, knowing she had obeyed her God to the very best of her ability.

Of course, I was at the other end of that decision. Divorcing without committing a sin wasn’t my only object in view. I had made that choice in hopes of driving Brad to a healthy choice. Would I still be there if he made it? How long was I willing to wait?

If I was going to remain “unmarried”, I could wait until God gave me other instructions. I could still have friends and a life. I didn’t have to grieve or fret about being alone because my relationship with Jesus would fill the voids. I could accept God’s will for my life and live that life.

I didn’t have to adjust to long-term singleness. Brad entered sobriety several months later, although he chose for us to remain physically separated for several more months because he didn’t want to put our daughter through a roller coaster ride while he got his head screwed on straight again. It also gave us time to enact the other part of Theresa’s advice.

Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. It sucks when someone hurts you. It sucks more when you hold a grudge. It sucks for you more than it sucks for the person you’re angry at. Theresa never reconciled with John … more power to her … but she forgave him. She prayed for him. She wished him well. In the 1970s, there were no laws against what he’d done to their sons, but she did what she could to protect people from him. She managed to prevent at least one woman from marrying him by telling her about his past. Then he moved out of state and back in those days, it was impossible to intervene long distance. When she heard he remarried, she prayed for that woman and the children she was bringing into that marriage. She prayed every day for them, I suspect until her death just a few years ago. She never forgot, but she did forgive. She wasn’t bitter. Her daughters are friends of mine and they say that she taught them a great deal about what it takes to sustain a marriage that doesn’t have a sexual predator as a partner.

When Brad and I were working out how to reconcile, we discussed that forgiveness thing a lot. It’s not something either one of us grew up seeing modeled. His parents have been married five times between them. My mother would bring up decades-old hurts whenever she was mad. When two people get married, they have to deal with each other’s baggage. We rely on an old Amish tradition. When a person repents of sin in the Amish community, they have to do it in front of the whole community, but once they do it, there is a prohibition from ever bringing it up again. The Amish will actually discipline the person who breaks that rule. Brad and I try to practice that at all times … which still means occasionally having to bite our tongues. Every now and then one of us will say “You’re not being very Amish”, which serves to remind us that the past is dead and we need to leave it buried. That’s usually enough to make us laugh and knock it off.

Not only do we do this for those unfortunate months way back when, but we try to practice it as an ongoing discipline.

To boil Theresa’s advice down:

  • Remember, you two Christians made an unbreakable contract with God for your marriage. You can walk away legally, but God won’t. (This applies only to Christians married to Christians, btw.)
  • You can divorce, if you have a good reason, and provided you’re prepared to reconcile or remain single.
  • Regardless of the outcome, forgive. Don’t leave that anger hanging in your past so that it ruins your future. Forgiveness is not necessarily for the person who did wrong. It’s for you, so you don’t have to live with all that pain.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. Because God created us to have free will, there are times when He can’t fix something that really needs fixing. Trust that He’ll be with you even when things don’t turn out the way that you want, and … because He’s there with you … you can be happy even when other people think you shouldn’t be.
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