Friday, October 29, 2021

Trees over babies. . .

Listening to my car radio some mornings ago, I happened upon the local NPR station with local news.  I listened for the weather and then was distracted until a story came on about rules about trees.  It seems the whole thing came to a more public light when the NFL cut down some 20 cherry trees along Nashville's Broadway to facilitate their draft, then held in Nashville.  The city, sensing a cash cow of sorts, was more than happy to cut down the trees and, it seems, they were replanted after the cameras and parties left.  The nature lovers in Nashville took on the cause of the tree on public lands and ended up with rules about what trees can be cut and when and how they must be replaced.  Property owners are charged with maintaining the public trees in front of their property and the whole canopy of Nashville is under review.  Now, according to the news, they have set their sights on private lands.  It would be illegal to cut down certain trees, especially trees with a diameter of 30 inches or more and it would be required of builders and homeowners to plant and maintain trees to extend the canopy of Nashville into residential areas.  

A disclaimer.  I love trees.  Our house had one tree nearly thirty years ago as we closed on the property and moved into it.  Since then we have planted an abundance of ornamental and shade trees.  We have two towering pines, a towering oak, several towering maples, and a host of smaller and younger trees.  We just put in some six blue spruce along the line of our back yard.  Many of our neighbors have done the same thing.  When a neighbor's very large pecan had been hit by lightening several times and shed some of its bark and the trunk split, we were sad to lose such a mighty tree -- even though it had to go for the safety of the homes.  But on the edge of our property, I planted another tree to make up for the loss -- a young oak now some 25 feet tall.  I love the sentiment.  I do not love the laws.  My issue is not simply private property ownership.  My point is the incongruity between our protections over trees and the continuing murder of the unborn -- legally.

That is the state of morality in America.  We love trees and will protect them (climate change and all especially) but the unborn have no such protections and are routinely and legally killed at the whim of the mother.  If I might be so bold, everyone acknowledges that former Governor Andrew Cuomo's actions related to COVID and nursing homes early on in the pandemic contributed to the death of hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of New York state's elderly and most vulnerable populations.  Yet it was not this decision that forced his resignation but the accusation of inappropriate and unwelcome sexual advances upon women.  That is the state of morality in America.  Governments across the US have literally bribed people to get the COVID vaccines (cash, lotteries, gift cards, etc.) and this is considered good public policy but a goodly number of the populace considers the pregnancy centers that would offer the pregnant mother another option besides abortion and, indeed, offer her financial help with the pregnancy and raising or giving up the child for adoption, are considered unacceptable interference by the progressive point of view.  That is the state of morality in America.  It is public policy and soon public law that the gender you choose determines restroom use, where you compete in sports, and what employment and discrimination laws cover you but it is considered child abuse to withhold hormones from prepubescent youth to prevent their body from normal sexual development (determined by their genes).  That is the state of morality in America.  

Christians, this is not simply a matter for the ballot box.  It is a matter of standing up and standing out in our rejection of what passes for virtue and morality AND what the Christian life should look like.  We can complain all day long but unless we are willing to offer an alternative stronger than a simple no, we are part of the problem.  Jesus said Let your light so shine...  He is not suggesting that we are perfect people for whom sin is a little problem but He is calling us to know His Word and live under it and live it out in the world as best we are able for His sake and the sake of His kingdom.  I sometimes wonder if we as the Church are so fixated on protecting ourselves and our institutions from the government threats that we have forgotten to be lights and to shine.  Love for the unborn must be strong enough to protest on their behalf the killing that continues legally and with society's full sanction but it must also be strong enough to suffer persecution and rebuke for living according to another standard of goodness and virtue.  We do the first well enough but how well have we striven for the second?  Our witness is only words unless we are willing to repent of our own sins and work, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, with every fiber of our being to amend our sinful lives.  Sadly, too often Christians look like everyone else in the world in their daily lives.  This should not be.  We are held to a higher standard and we should be striving more toward that goal of holiness.  Fail we will but let it not be for lack of trying.  Repentance is the shape of our daily lives.  Forgiveness is not an excuse to go back to the ruts of sin in our lives.  As Jesus told the adulterous woman, "Go and sin no more."  God help us.  We need to work harder to walk worthy, as St. Paul reminds.

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