Friday, September 14, 2012

Poor Deliverance

"I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor."

-Dorothy Day,
co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement


"When you feel all alone, the Light is still comforting you."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Chinocoreleon asks:
If Christians worship the same God, why can they not put their theological differences aside and cooperate actively with each other?

Because when a religion focuses on "belief", then they tend to consider intellectual assent to be central. If the intellect is central, then the doctrine becomes more and more specific over time. The Protestant Reformation caused a stretching of this (after wars and centuries), but the habit of narrowly defining doctrine is a habit that is hard to break.

Many Christians feel that doctrine has become a burden, and it must be lightened. However, now the question becomes WHICH doctrines should be considered less significant? That's the stage Christianity is going though now, and it is a difficult process. Suppose someone took your most prized values and said, "That's not so important." It just doesn't feel good.

But it is true that Christians need to work together.  The kingdom of God should be changing the world, and as long as we are separated into different buildings, different ideologies and different organizational groups, we will not work together to do what is important: feed the poor, love the outcast, heal the sick, and show Jesus' love to all.  

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Chic-fil-a Is Not To Blame (Nor the Liberals)

The whole "liberal"/"conservative" name calling, bashing, narrow-mindedly-assuming-their-opinion posing is a load of BS. I just saw a blog my friend posted and it basically said that anyone who stood with Chic-fil-a is of Satan. That's insane.

Often I am labeled as "liberal" because I'm anti-war and I give my life to serve the homeless. Other people consider me conservative because I think the bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin and abortion is the killing of an innocent human being.

 I'm not though. I am trying my best to stand with Jesus. And standing with Jesus means that at times you will stand against the conservative position and sometimes against the liberal position.

 It doesn't have anything to do with using other people's money, because both political positions do that-- they just disagree about what to do with the money, what the purpose of government is. 

I don't care what the government does with its billions of dollars. I care about what God's people do with their billions of dollars.

It is a crime for any church to spend money on themselves and not on the poor, the helpless and the oppressed, whether it is war victims, the homeless, the unborn, or homosexual victims of hate crime.

So many people point at the Catholic church as hypocrites in this regard. They are only the biggest offenders because they they've been around longer than any of us. But any church that has a building that has a room empty five days a week and does not use that space for the poor and oppressed at least some of that time is doing the same thing.

Not every church is disobedient to Jesus, but almost. If Jesus were here, he would shut down almost all churches and use the buildings to house the homeless, feed the hungry, educate the ignorant and provide a house of love to all who are unloved.

We have no right to point at Chic-fil-a, or liberals, or another denomination or our neighbors or our internet friends. If we are not spending our time helping the needy, whichever needy we are called to help, using our resources to help them, then we need to look at ourselves and shut up about anyone else.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Counter Protest Mania!

Below are a group of my favorite counter protesters against the Westboro Baptist Church.  If you don't know who WBC is, they are the "God Hates Fags" people.  What a lie.  God loves fags.  And lesbians.  And the homeless.  And the military.  And drunks.  And Republicans.  And Democrats.  And white people, black people, Asian people, native people, immigrant people.  And even you, WBC!  

Two from the Comic-con:

I love this one: 

 An awesome young person counter protester:

And my favorite counter protester:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Need of Silence

There are two things that are essential ingredients to a happy, productive life: love and silence.

We must give and receive love, which can keep us very busy.  But we must balance out our love with silence.

In silence is prayer, it is rest, it is renewal, it is peace.

More often than not, we can find both God and ourselves in the silence.  For those full of fear or anxiety or guilt or doubt or pain, silence is frightening.  But it is still essential because without silence we cannot properly process and move past these issues.

In order for silence to do it's work, we must trust the Spirit in the silence.  Trust that the Spirit will heal us, and will empower us to keep living.  Trust that if we listen, the Spirit will speak.  

And in an age of the internet and iPods and social networks, silence is hard to achieve.  There are so many things we "need" to do.  And our minds are so busy.  We need to stop and allow our minds to rest and allow the Spirit to do some work for us.  So, at times, we desperately need to shut our computers off, take our headphones out, get in the shower and turn on the water.

I like to occasionally go to a monastery and take a few days of silence (Trappist monasteries are good for that, and many have lodging for men and women). 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Limitations of Science

The question was asked, "Can we know anything?"

An answer was given: "Try research.  Science knows things.

And I got to thinking:

We can know certain things through research or experimentation. But all knowledge based on someone else's experimentation is ultimately reliant on trust in their methods and practice. 

And even then a good conclusion to a good experiment has many caveats and limitations: "This is true in this case, but possibly not true in general." Thus the actual knowledge of any given study is narrow at best. 

And then, if we were only to base our practical knowledge on what is proven in experimentation, then we'd have a hard time eating breakfast because different studies show different things in relation to the nutrition of eggs.

It seems to me, most of the time, life is just about thinking and assuming, not knowing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reading v. Watching Movies

Some people consider reading to be superior over watching movies, no matter what you are reading, or what you are watching.

There is a point to be made here.  Any kind of reading, even trashy novels, improves one's writing skills.  One's spelling improves, the likelihood of writing well increases.  To watch movies is a passive action.

However, if one is watching a good movie, like reading a good book, it opens your eyes to look at reality in a different way, to see things from another's perspective, to open our minds to a historical context, to introduce us to a new culture or a new experience that we might never have otherwise had.  Even if that experience is partly fictional, it invigorates our minds to a deeper understanding and compassion to what others have been through.  And a movie can give you that visceral experience without the length of a book.

So I guess it depends on what kind of book you are reading and what kind of movie you are watching.  And it depends on what kind of education you value.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


A recent study has found that religious people, in general, have less compassion than others who are not religious.  NPR article  This is odd, since it has already been shown that religious people tend to give more to charity than the non-religious. Study by Stanford

What does this mean?  First of all, that the religious give more out of duty rather than compassion.  It would be interesting to try to get the numbers that religious and secular people give to charities to the poor or give to political causes or one's own religious community.  It also means that duty is a more effective means of motivating giving rather than compassion.

For Christians, however, why should this be?  There is something terribly wrong with this.  Some Christians say, "The important thing is that we are giving, not the motivation for giving."  At least when I first posted the original study and concluded something was wrong, that was the response I got.  Obedience to the command of giving is what is important, not the motivation behind it.

I strongly disagree.  For a number of reasons.

First of all, to give out of duty means that giving is significant, not where we give.  Most Christians feel that it is sufficient to give to their church and their church primarily gives that money to staff salaries and property maintenance and growth.  Because there is little concern about compassion, little of the money actually goes where Jesus says it goes.  He never said, "Sell your possessions and give to the church."  The apostles didn't take the sacrifice of the people and give themselves good salaries, nor did they build any buildings.  Rather, they used the far majority of their funds creating programs for the poor.  (Acts 4-5)  The poor is where the majority of Christian funds should be given.  There is nothing wrong with salaries ("The worker is worth his hire") or buildings necessarily, but if the staff and buildings aren't used for the benefit of the poor, then we are disobeying Jesus command.  Thus, neglecting our true duty.

Secondly, we are supposed to have the character of God.  This isn't taught much in Christian churches, (sadly), but there is a strong theme in the NT about having the character of God. "Be imitators of God and walk in love" (Eph 5:1) "Love your enemies so you may be sons of your Father in heaven for he is kind to the ungrateful." (Matthew 5:42-43)

And most Christians do know that we are supposed to imitate Jesus.  And one of the main characteristics of Jesus is compassion for those in need.  "He had compassion on them." (Just in Matthew: 9:36; 14:14;  15:32; 20:34).  Jesus spent all of his time teaching and meeting people's needs.  He really had no other ministry.
If the church of Jesus has rejected compassion as their main motivation, but duty, they are no longer sons of God, who is "gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in merciful faithfulness."  Instead, we are slaves.  The slave does the duty of the Master because they must.  It is the son of the Master that sees his duty as being like the Master.

We all have a certain amount of empathy.  Without it, we cannot learn, we cannot live in societies or communities.  And we have the ability to exercise our compassion.  If we refuse to grow our compassion, we refuse to become like God, thus we are refusing to be children of God.   Yes, we can give out of duty, but then we remain slaves.

God deliver us from our limited moral vision.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


A basic principle of life is "You reap what you sow." Whatever you did in your past life, that is what you will gain in your present and future life. 

If I sowed well and have a huge, wonderful garden, and I see my neighbor who didn't sow well and he and his family are starving-- what does it say about me if I look at him and say "You should have sown better", without giving him from my bounty? It means I am without compassion. 

I'd rather hang out with the generous people who treat others "unfairly".  Like Jesus.

"She travels outside of karma"

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who Goes To Hell?

    • Gordon asks: 
      Does GOD send people to hell?? are we obligated to GOD?? A tree is just a tree. It didn't ask to be a tree, it just is.

      God appointed all humanity to rule over the earth. We have chosen to live in the ways of Satan's judgment and to be hateful and apathetic to the needy. So we deserve what we get.

      The repentant in Jesus, the merciful and suffering will be with the Lord for all eternity, living their second chance at life.

      The hypocritical, the destroyer of the innocent, and the "lawless" will spend eternity in hell. They deserve to be there, not because they are sinners, but because they are taking other people down with them.

      What about other people? Those who tried their best, but they continued to sin? What about those who sinned their whole lives but thought it was good? What about people who lived decent lives but didn't believe in God? We don't know. The Bible doesn't say. There is a hint in Matt 25 that says that the merciful to the poor who don't know God might get in anyway. There is also a possibility that some would just no longer exist. But in the end, we don't know.

      As far as what you were saying "God made us and we can't be blamed for how we are made." I think you misunderstood how God made us. He made us all to be powerful, almost god-like in our powers of decision making and control over our environment. God is sovereign, and in His power He has made US sovereign.

      This doesn't mean that we aren't weak. God knows we are desperately weak. We often do things that we shouldn't have done, and do things that we deeply regret. And what God asks most of us is to regret what our weakness has made us do, and to do all we can to repent of it. God doesn't ask us to change overnight, although that would be great. God doesn't ask us to change our nature.

      God does ask us to do a few things in our weakness, however:

      1. He asks us to regret. To weep and mourn over our sin.
      2. He asks us to reduce and eliminate harm to others. He will not excuse us if we hurt an innocent.
      3. He asks us to work on changing our lives so we don't sin. We may fail, but there is credit in the attempt.
      4. He asks us not to judge others, because we are sinners just as they are.

      In the end, we have to trust that God is just and loving and will give us not what we deserve, but what we and the universe needs.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Religion and Love

Here is a report by the NY Daily News about a divorced couple who can't agree about when to have their children baptized.  What is the logical choice?  Take it to court, of course!

The mother of the two young children baptized the kids without the father's consent, where it is assumed that she knew he would find the action unacceptable.  (She supports early baptism, while he affirms the anabaptist ideal of waiting until the children has full knowledge of what they are committing to).  So he takes her to court, and she will possibly be put in jail for this action because she violated the courts order that the religious upbringing of the children must be made with the knowledge (if not necessarily approval) of the father.

Legally, it makes some sense.  Under Jesus' law, this is insane.  Having a secular court arbitrate in religious decisions is crazy.  Heck, having a court arbitrate in personal matters is insane.

But the legal system has nothing to do with Jesus' standards of love.  Is it loving to put the mother of your children in jail because she disagrees with you about baptism?  Absolutely not.  Does it display love for the children to have their mother put in jail because of something they did?  What does that communicate to the children?  That they have driven their parents apart again.

This is why Jesus said in Matthew 12 that our laws and religious beliefs need to be subjected to mercy.  Every time we make a judgment, it should be put to the test of love: is it loving to force David and his men to go hungry because they weren't supposed to eat that bread?  Is it loving for the disciples to be judged for plucking grain in the field on the Sabbath?

Is it loving?  Does it show mercy?  If our religion can't abide by this principle, then throw the religion out, it's worthless.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The Red Tent: A Review

You might think it strange for me to say, but I love the Bible.  I know, I'm a pastor, so I'm supposed to love the Bible, but I am surprised at how few pastors really appreciate the Bible.  Most Christian teachers scour the Bible for their own points of view, or review it quickly for their sermons, or for proof texts.  But I think the Bible is full of not only ancient wisdom, but of some of the best stories ever.  That's one of the main reasons the Bible survived at all, you know, because so many of the stories are unforgettable.  Not only are they memorable, along the lines of Grimm or Hans Christian Anderson, they are short and easy to repeat.  You can just read them aloud in a completely different language and you can get a sense of their impact.

But there are some issues that are problematic with the Bible.  Not only those who claim more for the texts than the texts themselves allow, but also a matter of perspective.  There are only three stories that are told from a woman's point of view-- a spare book named Ruth, the story of Samuel's birth and a thinly told story of Jesus' resurrection.  All the rest of the Bible is told from a male point of view.  Yes, at times women are included, but more often than not, women are treated as possessions of men, with not even their names passed on.  There are certain heroes who are women: Sarah, Esther, Deborah, Abigail, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, Tabitha.  But these stories are told from the wrong side of the ancient sexual veil, and their hearts aren't revealed, only actions.

Anita Diamant has written a book which breaks down that veil.  One of the most ugly, deeply disturbing stories of the Bible is found in Genesis, about Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, taken by a local prince who was taken vengeance upon by her brothers Levi and Simeon.  But what was her perspective?  And what about the four wives of Jacob, how do they see their co-marriage, their children, their husband's sometimes strange actions?  Daimant does a marvelous job of taking the Bible text and reading between the lines to understand the woman's perspective.  She not only understands the ancient women, but also their pagan perspective, so their stories are not given through the Yahwist's perspective.  The novel is raw, emotional and strangely joyful for all the ugliness of the original stories.  

Even if you aren't a fan of the Bible, if you like historical fiction in any form, this is a keeper.  It is powerful and dramatic.  In a sense, it might be better without knowledge of the stories of Genesis, because they can impact you better.  5/5

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Statistics Always Tell The Truth

54 percent of all pastors admit looking at porn.  

If you are a pastor, then, you have a more than 1 in 2 chance of being a porn addict.  

Therefore, if you are a pastor, you need to stop being a hypocrite!

A Modern Version of the Ten Commandments?

A British pastor, J. John, has released a video called Just10 which gives a new version of the Ten Commandments.  His version creates positive affirmations instead of negative "shall nots".  So "Thou shalt not steal" becomes "Prosper with a clear conscience", "Do not commit adultery" becomes "Affair-proof your marriage" and "Honor your father and mother" becomes "Keep the peace with your parents."

Some have complained about not needing a "modern" version of the ten commandments.  Some have called it "taking away from God's word" and others have said that it is unnecessary to have a new version of the ten commandments as the old one works fine.

While I agree that a new ten commandments is unnecessary, I would disagree as to the purpose of this new ten commandments.  The fact is, we create "modern" versions of Scriptures all the time.  They are called translations.  Every translation is a slightly different interpretation of the Scriptures, and we have been doing this for thousands of years.  Why switch from Latin to English?  And the Greek Orthodox would wonder why we switched from Greek in the first place-- Latin is just too "modern" for them.

The fact is, re-translating and reinterpreting Scripture is a practice we find in Scripture itself.  Ezra interprets the Scripture when he told the told the Judeans to divorce their foreign wives.  The earlier Scriptures say not to marry Canaanites but it doesn't say what to do once you have married a Canaanite, and Ezra seems to ignore the fact that Tamar (wife of Judah) and Ruth were both foreign wives-- ancestors of the very people he was commanding.  Ezra was facing a crisis and he re-interpreted the Scripture to fit that crisis.

This practice, of course, continues on in the New Testament.  Jesus re-interprets Moses' law in Matthew 5 to fit the law as interpreted by "Love your neighbor as yourself".  Paul, in Galatians 3, re-interprets the story of Sarah and Hagar to speak to the law and grace.

There are two ways of interpreting.  One is changing the words of Scripture and still calling it Scripture.  The Living Bible is that kind of translation, as is The Message.  Another way we can interpret is to apply, but recognize that our application is not necessarily "God-breathed".  I believe that J. John is actually attempting to apply the ten commandments, not to claim that his version is a translation.  This is what every pastor does in every sermon, so this shouldn't be so surprising.

And even if he did call this a new translation, and we strongly disagreed with it, then what should we do?  We should speak to his translation.  As a translation, I would certainly disagree with "Affair proof your relationship", because that changes the meaning and intent of the original.  However, I could find nothing wrong with the translation "Don't screw around on your spouse" because it accurately reflects the original meaning of the text.

As an application of the seventh commandment, however, I don't really have an objection to "affair proof your relationship", and it isn't much different than Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's book Kosher Adultery: Seduce and Sin with Your Spouse.  It's clever and a way to think about the command in a different way.  Nothing wrong with that. We shouldn't limit new interpretations, but they should initiate discussion as to whether they reflect the original intent or not.

As for the individual who said that he quotes the ten commandments all the time and hasn't had to update them, does he really quote all four verses of the Sabbath commandment?  And does he quote that we shouldn't be coveting another's male and female slaves?  If you leave it out, then you are guilty of "modernizing" Scripture.

This is based on an article by The Christian Post

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


When Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations, he first wrote the Theory of Moral Sentiments, about how society works by empathy.  Economics is supposed to be based on compassion, on concern for one's fellow man.  If economics is based on greed, then even the greedy find that they have starved to death.

It is time to revolt against greed, wherever it is found.  Beginning in our own hearts.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Lenten Meditation

Christine Sine has  called for Lenten meditations on the theme, "What do we hunger or thirst for?"  Here is my reflection:

O God, I am parched.

I am barely able to move, my need is so deep. Yes, I move in the world, I eat, I drink, I converse.  But my body is hollow; my soul is mourning its loss.  My God, why have you forsaken us? I already know there is no hope on earth for us.

Why are the needy forsaken?  Why do children pick through garbage for food?  Why do the simple have no one to support them?  Babies hanging on empty breasts; wraith souls brutally violated; men wandering: hearthless, hopeless, frenzied, friendless.  They cry to you, and pour their hearts to you and they are silenced by death, even while living.  Why are the weak only granted more weakness?  Why are the mourning gifted ever more sorrow?

And the powerful obtain more power.  “Look at my sorrow, observe my need,” say those who horde the resources of this world as a toddler who insists that the whole of the world is his own plaything.  They offer a drop of water to the desperate and keep an ocean to themselves, never declaring “enough.”  Why do the sightless insist that compassion is fruitless?  Why do the powerful harden their hearts to the helpless?  

My God, how do you remain silent?  How does heaven remain barred, allowing the foolishly satisfied to claim that all is right in the world?  I am starving from your silence.  The god-speakers (but not do-gooders) insist that there is peace, peace, yet they do not step outside of their golden palaces long enough to see the sickness, poverty and death.  How long will you allow them to speak of your kingdom already come when destruction, despair and disdain reign?  How long will you allow them to speak of the miracle of democracy and capitalism, when billions of souls are the cost upon which the society is built? How dare you remain silent! Damn their blasphemies! Entwine their pseudo-god-speak with a millstone and cast them into the deepest lake of fire!

How dare you?  How dare you allow these dealers of synthetic theology speak while you remain silent?  How dare you allow generation after generation fall while the fat and sassy build themselves up, using your name so casually, so faithlessly?  Have you no pride? 

But I… my feet come close to stumbling. How easy it is to see a world entombed, and to fail to see the coming consummation.  Yours is the power.  Yours is the glory.  Yours is the kingdom.  If only I could enter into your patience.  It is so hard to welcome long suffering when children shiver in the cold and are beaten into becoming the next generation of evil-doers.  It is difficult to wait. 

I know, Lord.  I know you have given me everything good.  I know that your heart is with the needy.  You understand that when your sorrows overwhelm you it is hard to be grateful. You have experienced all of our temptations. I am not thankless, my Father.  But we are in need of restoration and resurrection.  No economic system, no governmental ideal will grant it to us.  Only your love. 

We are so parched, my Lord.  Satisfy us with your love.  Let mercy flood this world, until we drown in it.  Allow your compassion to cover our heads, until we cease struggling in its watery depths.  Let us finally rest.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If Jesus Was Involved in American Politics...

My sources tell me that this is a picture of Jesus healing a centurion's ear. But it looks like Jesus got fed up of "turning the other cheek" and decided to give some back.

Certainly that's how most of the American church reacts when they are exposed to anything they find offensive. Like the fact a Democrat is in the White House.  

Jesus Heals Today

If the gospels are true and Jesus arose from the dead, he also said that we could do greater works than he did when he was here.  Some of the works are great works of compassion-- feeding and healing millions more than He did through feeding programs, hospitals and through great effort and compassionate wisdom.

But Jesus hasn't stopped working.  He can, and does, heal today.

This doesn't mean that to see a doctor is a lack of faith.  Jesus is happy to have us help each other and use what knowledge and resources we have to help the needy.  But like the woman who saw many doctors and then came to Jesus, we will not be denied by Jesus.

Many who are ill, who have not obtained help by any-- go to Jesus.  He can and will heal.  He won't heal everyone, it is true.  Some of us need to continue in our weakness.  But others will be healed.

I had a terrible gallstone at one point, in which I would be in pain for hours, unable to get out of bed. I couldn't pay for a doctor. A group of healers prayed for me, and I was healed, the pain never returned.

A couple years later, I had another terrible pain.  I was told by a doctor friend to go immediately to the hospital.  They ended up taking out my appendix, which was on the verge of bursting.  Then they paid for all the bills because I was poor.

Then I had a severe hormone imbalance, causing diabetes and muscle atrophy and the inability to deal with stress.  I have prayed against it.  I have sought doctor's help.  I have struggled with many symptoms and severe depression because of it.  But it didn't go away.  Thanks to medication, it is reduced, but until I am healed from it (which may never happen in this life), I still deal with bad days.

Jesus worked in all these circumstances.  In the first he healed me, just as he did in days of old.  In the second, he used compassionate people to get me to the hospital and heal me and to have mercy on my inability to pay.  In the third, I was told, as Paul, "My strength is made perfect through weakness" and I had to live with the consequences.  But I receive daily grace to deal with it and to do Jesus' work despite it.

Jesus works in all circumstances, but we must ask and we must rely on Him, no matter what.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Outline of a Christian Existence

Gordon asked: "What is the ideal Christian life?"

Wow.  What a question.  Gordon never goes for the little ones, like the meaning of dispensationalism.   Anyway, here is my answer:

First of all, we have to know what you mean by a "Christian life". Do you mean a life in a church, do you mean a social Christian or do you mean a follower of Jesus? All of these have different requirements. 

Because you are asking me, and not a priest or an average religious religious person, I'm going to give you the follower of Jesus answer.

The "follower" of Jesus is one who acknowledges that Jesus is their King, even if he is King of no one else they know (even if others call themselves Christians). To have someone as a king, means that we give that person the respect of a king (worship), we obey that person when they give us laws or commands, and we rely on that person when we are in need of help. So, in general, the Christian life looks like this: Honoring Jesus, Obeying Jesus and Relying on Jesus.

Honoring is pretty much about giving the proper praise of the king. This can be done individually, in families or in community. It can be done through chanting, singing, praise, prayer or and number of other things. The Christian church has been wonderful about providing a variety of ways of honoring their Lord.

Relying on Jesus means we turn to Him when we are in trouble or in need of wisdom. This means we pray, we seek God, we rely on His provision and are grateful for His provision when it comes. Prayer and thanks.

The longest one is obedience, and this is the one that many Christians disagree about. Well, I guess they disagree about everything, but on the other two, the basics are agreed upon. Some Christians think that obedience doesn't come into it at all. They will tell you that you can ignore what Jesus said. Others will tell you that you need to listen to this teacher or this church authority. However, if Jesus and Jesus alone is our king, it is best to listen to him directly, if you have that opportunity.

So what is obedience to Jesus? Loving, of course. In fact, Jesus said, that if anyone tells you to not love in the name of the law, you have every right to disobey that law and to act out in love instead. 

We also need to be pure. This means not doing things that offend God, like sexual immorality or hate speech, or faithlessness.

We also need to be humble. This doesn't mean having a lowly frame of mind, but allowing ourselves to be humiliated by others or by taking on humiliating tasks, especially if they assist other people. It does not mean surrendering your possessions, but making sure you surrender them in a way that shows love for someone else. It doesn't mean punishing yourself, but allowing yourself to be punished if an authority insists upon it. 

In the end, obedience is following the principles of Jesus, which is following the same principles Jesus lived out himself.