Michael B Linton

Sunday, February 14, 2016

An Unexpected Love for Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day 2016. Significant others have been flowered, chocolated, and ballooned, all at the behest of florists, chocolatiers, and balloonists. My lovely bride has no real concern for Valentine's Day. Should I get her something, she'll be pleased, but it isn't expected in my home. She prefers the thoughtfulness and surprise of flowers when I've been gone on a trip to the manufactured and planned presentation every February. However, this isn't a post about the uselessness of this made-up holiday, though I believe I could produce one so compelling, you'd never again deign to spend your evenings of February 13th skedaddling from one Walmart to another in search of the last crappy card.

Nor will I Jesus-juke the holiday. Certainly, the only true love is that offered by God in the person of Jesus Christ. Absolutely, the church father for which the non-holiday is named would cringe at the sappy sentimentalism for which his name has been used. But why would I want to steal food from the mouths of Hallmark's president's children? Enjoy your fun, if you see fit to participate.

However, one can't approach this holiday without at least the thought of love crossing one's mind. And the love that crossed my mind is one that truly surprised me, though I don't know why. It's my love for our adopted beauties, the Twinadoes.

J3's adoption was final in July of 2014 and J4's was final in August of 2015, so this is the first Valentine's Day with both of them fully ours. Etta and I regularly look at them, marvel at their beauty, and wonder aloud how we got them. We question whether they could truly be ours and if no one will come to get them to take them to their "real" parents. It's all part of the marvel of adoption, I suppose. We have no true fears of any of this, but it boggles the mind some days that they are actually ours.

Then, in the midst of all that, I'm struck by how much love I have for them. I'm a fairly nice guy, mind you, working on loving people and all that. I also knew coming into this that I would probably love them. What I don't think I was prepared for was how quickly and completely I could love them. I know this isn't the case for all adoptive parents, that some find it more difficult than others, but this has been my experience. And it has blown me away.

I can't imagine life without them, but that's not even the half of it. They are my son and daughter, as surely as J1 and J2 are. Other than a slight difference in skin tone, I don't see any distinction between the four of them. My love is complete, as much as a human father's love can be, and I am floored by it.

The fact is, I loved them before they were ours, and I don't just mean when they were foster children in our home with an uncertain future. I mean before I knew them, I loved them. It was a decision we made when we entered the process - we didn't wait until children had been placed with us. It was a willful decision on our part.

But it was much more than that. This was divinely orchestrated. I don't think I can take too much credit for loving them. This is the calling God placed on our lives and, when he placed the calling, he placed the love. God told us to foster and adopt children, but what we didn't understand is that God told us to foster and adopt 'our' children. That's what we did. That's why we love them so.

They're ours and they always have been. And we can't believe how much we love them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why I Will Not Be Voting for Donald Trump

This is not the most flattering picture of Donald Trump, but it is representative of the image I get when I think of him. This is one of the many reasons I can't vote for Donald Trump.

Let me say that I am angry about the direction of our country. The legalization of gay marriage; the failure and fiasco that is Obamacare; the disdain that President Obama has for our country; the fact that Planned Parenthood is not indicted for selling baby parts, but the man who showed that they were IS indicted; Christian refugees are turned away; and a myriad other issues. However, there is a big difference between allowing that anger to motivate a calculated, Christian response and allowing that anger to motivate an irrational, violent reaction. I'm afraid, given his comments over the past year, we can expect more of the latter, rather than the former, from Mr. Trump.

Here is a man that uses Twitter as a font of venom. Just a quick perusal shows tweets calling people stupid or dumb. He regularly uses such mature tactics as calling people ugly. He often will say something rude or crass (plain-spoken, right?), but then have to backtrack the next day, saying he didn't mean what he said. Megyn Kelley knows about that one. The sort of garbage that has come from him is unbecoming of a human, much less a president.

Then there is his ego. I'm thoroughly convinced that he thinks he should be president simply because he is Donald Trump. Why else would most of campaign promises end with "because I'll make them"? We currently have a president with more ego than ability, and that hasn't worked so well for the country. To run for president, one admittedly has to have an extreme amount of confidence, but even with confidence there can be humility. Trump can't spell humility.

I don't think Trump is good for families: up until a few months ago he supported Planned Parenthood. Suddenly he's very against it, but we have no real proof of that change. I don't think Trump is good for foreign policy. You can't dismiss a fellow world leader because you don't like her looks. Statecraft is about the art of the negotiation, in most instances. You can't just yell "you're fired" when you don't get your way. I don't think Trump is good for the economy. He supports government bailouts and his extremely liberal use of bankruptcies (read: business failures) is a source of great concern. I don't think Trump is good for religious liberty. America cannot turn against an entire religion because some, even many, of that religion use it for evil. If the government can spy on a mosque with no cause, they can spy on a church with no cause. And really, given our government's track-record under Obama, who is seen as more subversive, Christians or Muslims? Regardless, freedom of religion is unalienable, even if that religion says hateful things about others. I don't think Trump is good for immigration. Certainly, something needs to be done, but promising a wall and that Mexico will pay for it isn't a real plan.

And finally there's his complete lack of morals, shown often in his Twitter attacks and campaign promises, but even more glaring in his personal history. No, no person is perfect. Yes, I voted for a Mormon, someone I do not believe will go to heaven because they are a part of an non-Christian cult. But at least he had morals. Trump has been married three times. He owns strip clubs. He says he doesn't need forgiveness, because he's never done anything that bad. (Um, all have sinned and fall short of the glory or God. --Romans 8:28) He's crass. He's rude. He's crude. And I prefer a candidate like what the Southern Baptist Convention resolved we should support: one with moral character. When Bill Clinton was president, we said character mattered. Apparently, many Evangelicals have changed their mind. (I'm looking at you Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell, Jr.)

From my perspective, Donald Trump sees Money as god, and Donald Trump is its prophet. We can do much better, Christians. We have to, for our own credibility and the gospel we claim to represent.

**Spoiler alert: should my choice for president be between the Democrat candidate and Donald Trump, I'm very likely to vote third candidate. Because, based on their histories, what's the difference between the two anyway?