Every Time Every Human Speaks

The times I’ve been charged with “teaching Christianity in a public school” make me laugh a little bit.

It’s as though administrators, principals, parents, and students think that Christians have some sort of other belief system, apart from their own, that is worthy of alienation. Of course, we know this is simply the world loving the darkness more than the light, because their deeds are evil (John 1). And we were once in the darkness, too.

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But the whole “stop talking about religion in public” is nonsense for another reason: every time every human being speaks, we are speaking our own belief system. For one person to tell another, “Don’t talk about your beliefs,” is to act like the speaker has no beliefs. But the truth is that we all speak our beliefs, every moment of every day.

To tell a Christian to drop the Bible is like telling a postmodern to stop speaking about scientism, neo-Marxism, or relativism. The postmodern literally cannot stop. It’s what she believes in.

We can talk about “separation of church and state” nonsense all day long, but it will never happen because it is a false dichotomy. Every time every human speaks, he speaks his worldview. Just be honest with each other, and lay those beliefs on the table.

Each of us has a belief system. None of them, on the basis of our own faith, is more or less true than another. In other words, nothing is absolutely true just because I believe it. Instead, all beliefs, and their systems, stand or fall based on their historical, internal, and supernatural veracity. And the Bible is the only one that passes any of the three (and all three at that!).

Thus, biblical faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only worldview that has full historical, internal, and supernatural truth. It stands beneath no other worldview, but it supreme above them all – because Jesus is supreme.

When we talk to those in the kingdom of the darkness, we must love them enough to care for their very souls. The first step is laying our beliefs on the table, explaining them, and asking the unbeliever to do the same. Only then can we have honest conversation that is out of the darkness and into the light.

Dear Exhale, Abortion Isn’t Peacemaking

Steve Peacock over at WND reports that pro-choice “pro-voice” group Exhale is touring the country telling “hopeful” stories about murderous “mothers” who are “brave” enough to speak.

My open challenge to Exhale is this: visit the site and discuss with me how you can call abortion “peacemaking.” Your pledge reads:

I am pro-voice.

I believe open, honest, vulnerable storytelling is a powerful and radical act of courage that can change the world in the midst of hostility, attacks, and demonization.

I trust that connecting through diverse personal experiences can humanize toxic conflicts and reveal complexity hidden within “us vs. them” divisions.

I pledge to be pro-voice in my everyday life by listening openly, speaking personally, connecting respectfully, taking leadership, and building community around polarized issues and stigmatized experiences.

I’m honored to follow a long and powerful line of peacemakers.

Lots of observations are in order:

  1. “I am pro-voice” is a euphemism for “I support the butchering of children.”
  2. “Radical act of courage” is straight-faced hypocrisy by people who sacrificed their own children for their selfish desires. The strong executing the weak is never considered “courage.”
  3. Pro-lifers are not the ones making ” ‘us vs. them’ divisions.” Pro-choicers are the ones tearing babies limb from limb.
  4. “Listening openly” in this context means nothing more than “condoning weepy-faced murder.”
  5. I almost can’t believe you wrote about any “long and powerful line of peacemakers.” How again is abortion “peacemaking”? Who is at peace? Is Exhale trying to help serial killers be at peace with their scream-less victims and their screaming consciences? And are you proud of this?

For reference, I stand and have always stood on this simple logical breakdown:

Premise #1: Murder is always wrong.
Premise #2: An unborn child is a full human being.
Premise #3: Abortion ends the life of an unborn child.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is always wrong.

Feel free, Exhale “Pro-Voice,” to disagree. But do so along logical principles. Are you “brave” enough to tell us your logical principles?

Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

You Can’t Teach Critical Thinking if You Don’t Believe Anything

Or, “The Great Lie of American Secularism”

“Critical thinking,” everyone says, is a buzzword in education these days. Conference speakers, school administrators, parents, and political leaders all kick the dust around it. Yet true critical thinking remains an enigma. Why?

Because you can’t teach critical thinking if you don’t believe anything.

The logic is simple:

  • Premise 1: Critical thinking is the set of thinking skills involving synthesis, analysis, creation, and evaluation.
  • Premise 2: Each of these skills require a set of definite criteria, i.e. stated beliefs.
  • Premise 3: American secularism devalues any defined criteria, and, in fact, provides none of its own.
  • Conclusion: Secularists can’t teach critical thinking.

If you find these statements controversial, or have never thought of the implications of your own beliefs, take a moment to break these thoughts down.

Critical Thinking Defined (Premise #1)
The first premise isn’t controversial – it’s a simple definition of critical thinking, or “higher-order” thinking skills. Philosophers and educators have agreed on these for thousands of years. The pyramid of thinking skills goes up from knowledge to comprehension to application to synthesis/analysis to creation to evaluation.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills, in other words, are the development and deepening of acquired knowledge with direction in its development. By definition, the skills have to go somewhere. Understanding this, premise 1 stands.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills Require Beliefs (Premise #2)
Premise 2 is where I may lose some people, and where the crux of my argument lies. Beliefs not only help critical thinking, they essentially enable it. There is no true “critical thinking” that cannot take apart knowledge and put it back together within an external control, a worldview.

Remember, the meaning of “integrity” is soundness, wholeness, honesty of life. The key question is, “What is the principle with which we will synthesize and analyze?” Secularists have no principle but themselves, who are ever changing as the weather (remind anyone of Jude 1:12-13?). Thus, true synthesis and analysis are impossible without coherent worldview principles.

In mathematics, breaking down numbers into parts, equations, or proofs requires a controlling principle, i.e. the soundness of our number system. Without this, analysis and synthesis fail in numbers, as in the rest of life.

When it comes to the skills of creativity, we live in a strange culture. To American secularists, “creativity” is its own value, apart from beliefs and morality. Historically, beauty has been valued for its conformity to truth. In a truth-less culture like ours, however, a painting or motion picture or song is called “good” without any baseline meaning for the word “good” itself. As Al Mohler has observed, however, character terms like morality and integrity “lack all content if they aren’t specifically tied to worldview convictions.” Thus, teachers who teach creativity without conviction are like well-wishers who send sailors off in on a voyage to nowhere, saying, “Have a great journey!”

Now we can see where the highest critical thinking skill, evaluation, will go. Without worldview, evaluation also fails. If all the steps before it have flown apart at the seams, we should not expect evaluation to succeed. Evaluation is the culmination of study and thought. Without beliefs, both those preceding skills and the end result are impossible. To put it another way, how are we to evaluate if we have nothing to evaluate against?

American Secularism Believes Nothing (Premise #3)
Of course, it is impossible to believe nothing. Everyone has a worldview. But here we mean, “nothing positively defined outside ourselves.” We truly believe we are the measure of all things. The universe’s buck stops with us. We ought  to command the waves, the wind, the seas, and the stock markets – and we’re mystified when we can’t.

Because of our radical individualism, we believe that no truth exists outside of ourselves. If enough of us agree on something, that can become a cultural “truth,” but that “truth” fails when it face a “truth” from another culture. Again, the war of little “truths” proves that we believe in no Truth at all, only what works for us until culture or personal discernment proves otherwise.

Every secularist has a worldview, but the sine qua non of the secular worldview is that truth doesn’t exist.

Secularists Can’t Teach Critical Thinking
If premises 1, 2, and 3 are true, the conclusion is that belief-less secularists can’t teach belief-dependent critical thinking. Critical thinking is a bundle of skills that depends not only on raw knowledge, but on a coherent worldview – an integrity of thought – that enables and propels honestly critical thinking.

Further, thinking that only aims to support self (the primary secular principle) can never be truly critical, because critical thinking requires the critical evaluation of ourselves. We are the ones who must finally be evaluated, not merely do the evaluating. Without self-evaluation, all of our learning becomes an exercise in narcissism, hypocrisy, and vanity.

Even more, for critical thinking to reach its true end, we must evaluate ourselves now – because we will one day be evaluated by God, according to His perfectly coherent, perfectly true worldview.

Legal Principles Have Universal Applications

[This post is fifth in a series on Francis J. Beckwith’s seminal paper, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.” Part 1 is called, “The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade;” Part 2, “Novel Inventions of Abortion Law;” Part 3, “19th Century Anti-Abortion Law;” and Part 4, “Is the Unborn a 14th Amendment Person?“]

Second, though Texas cited no cases in which the unborn are declared Fourteenth Amendment persons, at least one federal court case did: Steinberg v. Brown. It is unknown as to why Blackmun cited Steinberg but failed to include the following, which would undoubtedly destroy his majority opinion:

It seems clear, however, that the legal conclusion in Griswold as to the rights of individuals to determine without governmental interference whether or not to enter into the process of procreation cannot be extended to cover those situations wherein, voluntarily or involuntarily, the preliminaries have ended, and a new life has begun. Once human life has commenced, the constitutional protections found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments impose upon the state the duty of safeguarding it.

“Once human life has commenced, the constitutional protections found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments impose upon the state the duty of safeguarding it.” As Beckwith observes, this shouldn’t have been controversial: “A legal principle has universal application.” He offers the examples of anti-burglary laws written before the advent of computers and freedom of religion laws written before a new faith was invented. Both would apply to new knowledge or situations without changing the nature of the laws.

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

19th Century Anti-Abortion Law

[I’ve been blogging through Francis J. Beckwith’s seminal article, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.” Part 1 is called, “The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade,” and Part 2, “Novel Inventions of Abortion Law.” ]

Then Beckwith further analyzes in two sections below:

A. Were Anti-Abortion Laws Meant to Protect the Unborn?

Beckwith begins, “Blackmun was wrong about the primary purpose of theanti-abortion laws. Although protecting the pregnant woman was an important purpose of these statutes, there is no doubt that their primary purpose was to protect the unborn from  harm,” (p.46).

Beckwith then quotes James S. Witherspoon’s research to show that twelve different legal commonalities between nineteenth centurty anti-abortion statutes at the state level prove this very same point: “the primary purpose of nineteenth-century antiabortion statutes was to protect the lives of unborn children is clearly shown by the terms of the statutes themselves.” Here are the twelve elements, to be understood “individually and collectively”:

  1. The laws’ punishment for attempted abortion increased if it caused the child’s death.
  2. The laws gave the same range of punishment for child-killing in an abortion as for mother-killing in an abortion.
  3. The laws called attempted abortion and other child-killing acts “manslaughter.
  4. These laws prohibited all abortions, except those necessary to save the mother’s life.
  5. These statutes called the fetus a “child.”
  6. These laws called the unborn child a “person.”
  7. These statutes categorize abortion with homicide, related offenses, and offenses against born children.
  8. The laws gave abortions severe punishments.
  9. These laws treated mother-killing abortions as “manslaughter” rather than “murder,” as they were at the common law level.
  10. The laws required that the abortion be attempted on a woman who was indeed pregnant.
  11. The laws required that the abortion be intended to “destroy the child.”
  12. The laws incriminated the woman’s participation in her own abortion.

Taken together, these commonalities prove that Justice Blackmun and the majority Court of Roe ignored the legal evidence and lied about their research.

Novel Inventions of Abortion Law

[In Part 2 of 7, we’ll look at the next section of Francis J. Beckwith’s paper, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.”]

Beckwith’s second large section is titled:

II. How the Court Found a Right to Abortion

The wording here is choice: the Supreme Court of the United States had to prod, dig, and search to produce a “right to abortion” in their Roe decision. Here’s why: the Court had to eliminate two huge impediments to interpreting the “right to privacy” for birth control from from the Griswold case to include abortion (see p.42). Those two impediments were the long-standing, near-omnipresent US laws protecting the unborn and the constitutional rights given the unborn under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Therefore, in order to legalize abortion, the SCOTUS had to prove that such a “right to privacy” does include abortion and that the unborn is not a person under the Fourteenth Amendment. Blackmun started with ideologically misreading the history behind anti-abortion law:

  • Justice Blackmun differed on the purpose of prior anti-abortion laws: “According to Blackmun, the purpose of these laws, almost all of which were passed in the nineteenth century, was not to protect prenatal life, but rather, to protect the pregnant woman from a dangerous medical procedure,” (p.44).
  • Blackmun reframed common law history in his own terms: “Blackmun argues that under the common law’s framework, prior to the enactment of statutory abortion regulations, abortion was permissible prior to quickening and was at most a misdemeanor after quickening. Therefore, Justice Blackmun claims that because abortion is now a relatively safe procedure, there is no longer a reason for its prohibition. Consequently, Justice Blackmun asserts that given the right of privacy, and given the abortion liberty at common law, the Constitution must protect a right to abortion,” (p.44).
  • Blackmun changed the timeline: Though the Roe majority decision outlines historical laws concerning abortion, “Blackmun’s historical chronology is ‘simply wrong,’ because [contrary to his own timeline, ed.] twenty-six of the thirty-six states had already banned abortion by the time the Civil War had ended,” (p.45).
  • Blackmun was later exposed: “Justice Blackmun’s history (excluding his discussion of contemporary professional groups: AMA, APHA, andABA) is so flawed that it has inspired the production of scores of scholarly works, which are nearly unanimous in concluding that Justice Blackmun’s “history” is untrustworthy and essentially worthless,” (p.45).

US Supreme Court convention requires that judges research and consider prior case law, particularly those that set legal precedent, before handing down their own decisions. In this case, Blackmun and the majority judges co-opted a clear history of anti-abortion laws at the state level, as we will see next time.

    The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade

    [Introductory note: Back in 2003, Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University, wrote a full-on expose of the Supreme Court’s supremely flawed reasoning in Roe v. Wade, entitled, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.” After reading and notating the paper, I am offering a seven-part series outlining his main arguments with further commentary. I’m no law expert, but a simple course in logic (or understanding the basic logical fallacies) is all we need to see the lies beneath the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.]

    The Fear of the Lord and the Facts of Abortion

    Long ago, the fear of the Lord and good sense told me that US abortion law was on shaky ground at best. Even middle schoolers – yes, twelve-year-olds – know it’s wrong to kill an unborn child. How is it that the grown-ups are so much smarter and get it wrong? Because we as a country no longer fear the Lord.

    To prove the shaky ground is actually no ground at all (and illustrate the fact that our country no longer fears the Lord), Francis Beckwith has done us all a service. His 2003 paper, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law” is a logical expose of the Supreme Court’s fallacious, misleading logic and outright lies in interpreting constitutional law.

    That alone is enough to read the entire 36-page essay, but here’s a taste of Beckwith’s darkness-exposing analysis:

    The current law in the United States, except for in a few states, does not restrict a woman from procuring an abortion for practically any reason she deems fit during the entire nine months of pregnancy. That may come as quite a shock to many readers, but that is in fact the state of the current law (p.38).

    Beckwith uses the same command of current and past abortion law to untangle several gnarled issues, outlined below:

    I. What the Court Actually Concluded in Roe

    In this section, Beckwith quotes the Roe decision extensively and exposes Justice Harry Blackmun’s argument piece by piece:

    • “Therefore, Roe does nothing to prevent a state from allowing unrestricted abortions for the entire nine months of pregnancy,” (p.39).
    • “Thus, reproductive liberty, according to this reading of Roe, should be seen as a limited freedom established within the nexus of three parties: the pregnant woman, the unborn, and the state. The woman’s liberty trumps both the value of the unborn and the interests of the state except when the unborn reaches viability,” (p.39).
    • “[Justice Blackmun’s] framework has resulted in abortion on demand,” (p.39).
    • “Blackmun’s choice of viability as the point at which the state has a compelling interest in protecting prenatal life is based on a fallacious argument,” (p.40).
    • “The Supreme Court so broadly defined health in  Roe’s companion decision, Doe v. Bolton (1973), that
      for all intents and purposes, Roe allows for abortion on demand. In Bolton, the Court ruled that health must be taken in its broadest possible medical context and must be defined ‘in light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial,  and  the  woman’s  age—relevant  to  the  well  being  of  the  patient’ because ‘[a]ll these factors relate to health,’ ” (p.40).
    • The 1983 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concluded the same, stating that that “no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the  United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of her pregnancy,” (p.40).
    • Furthermore, the Court (as Gosnell and Planned Parenthood events have proven) left the interpretation of the viability of the fetus open to mean whatever “meaningful life” may mean, determined “exclusively by the pregnant woman,” (p.42).

    In other words, because Blackmun did little to protect the rights of the unborn over against the rights of an abortion-hungry mother, his regime has (rather logically) resulted in abortion-on-demand as the modern status quo.

    Next time, we’ll dive into part 2, “How the Court Found a Right to Abortion,” and it’s really more like they invented it.

    The Disgraceful, Cowardly Media

    Why are the major media outlets in the US afraid to report on the multiple child murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell? Kirsten Powers writes that they’ve lost their sense of human justice:

    You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

    The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

    Which is to say, the media cares more about cash and reputation than the truth.

    Victoria’s Secret Hates Women

    Saying something like this (i.e., getting to the heart of the issue) is important in a contentious situation like this because it gets to the heart of the issue. Victoria’s Secret, proprietor of intimate women’s clothing, is now marketing a line of underwear for teens and preteens. Teaching women to find their self-worth in looks is deceptive and vain (Prov. 31:30), but now training teens to dress like whores and prostitutes? Pure hatred.

    Seem a little strong? Track with me. Victoria’s Secret hates women because:

    1. Marketing to teen girls is demeaning. First and foremost, a woman’s worth is more than a sexual mirage. Personhood is given by God, never defined or ultimately masked by clothes or relationships or sexual acts. A girl’s personhood is of utmost value; we must honor her from conception to death.
    2. Marketing to teen girls is insubordinate. If Victoria’s Secret though what they were doing was right, they should at least have the decency (which they don’t) to speak to a young woman’s parents about her private wear. Are you going to let a lingerie-clad lady show up at your door and peddle to your daughter? Didn’t think so.
    3. Marketing to teen girls is dirty. In Leviticus, God presents to us over and over the idea that sin is “unclean.” It’s why we call certain things “dirty.” If you don’t want to read a description of something, or see it, or think about it because that would sicken your soul, it’s dirty.
    4. Marketing to teen girls is pedophiliac. Yep, we need to go here, because, otherwise, when will it end? Will we stand by and let Victoria’s Secret enlist our kindergarteners in their ad campaigns? As mom Amy Gerwing writes, “In this age when female sex trafficking is becoming a wide-spread crisis, is it really responsible for Victoria’s Secret to entice our impressionable young girls with this ‘come hither’ message?”

    The last one sums it up: Victoria’s Secret markets slutty underwear to young girls because they love cash more than purity, thus encouraging the world to see these future ladies as the same lustful playthings as their underwear.

    More than Mirrored Men

    Amidst all the feminist tussle, the beauties of sexual distinction have been lost. What makes manhood and womanhood beautiful in harmony is their respective distinctions in contrast. Not light vs. darkness but shade, color, hue, melody, harmony, and contrasting blend. Think more “summer sunset over the Appalachians” and less “tornado rips apart entire town.”

    Therefore, we must recover the beauties of sexual distinction. What makes men “men,” so strong, trailblazing, and fearless? What makes women “women,” so wise, beautiful, and gentle? It may be hard to explain, but the truth is canyons deeper than egalitarian dogma.

    Women, we may say, are more than mirrored men. They not the same, and they’re not mean to be.

    Take character traits, for instance. Women are strong, yes. Trailblazing, yes. Fearless, yes. And yet, all so and more in their own, very not-masculine way. They don’t mirror men, but add something that would otherwise be lost.

    To put it another way, the world would be a much uglier, smellier place without women. There would be far less concern for aesthetic beauty, style, fragrance, color, and light. Men would have a reduced interest (not no interest, though) in deeper interpersonal questions.  Houses might more often remain painted in hospital white, decorated with movie posters and sports figurines. Most everyone would drive pick-up trucks.

    Many of these examples are simplified, but the point remains that women are more, far more, than mirrored men.

    As a culture, we reduce the personhood of a woman when we insist that she must be the same as a man. We ought to say emphatically that she must not be the same as a man. She is not made to be his mirror, but his glory, his helper, his well-fitted mate and gift and love.

    Hiding Behind Conservatism

    On “Christian” Cowardice, the Lukewarm “Church,” and False Converts

    In my state, we’re in the midst of a popular vote on whether or not we should exclusively define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Several professing “Christians” have posted statements like this:

    • “Love is love is love.”
    • “Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love each other?”
    • “Legal marriage and spiritual marriage are two different, unrelated things.”
    • “I’m not sure this law should be in the state constitution.”

    What troubles me more than the muddled thought processes behind such statements is the fact that they reveal an ignorance of the whole of Scripture. Such words have yanked passages out of context, used them in ways God never intended, and thrown them aside.

    Such issues shine spotlights on our supposedly converted Christians and evangelical churches. If someone has no concern for God’s Word as He wrote it, is that person converted at all? Has he truly been transferred from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son? Wouldn’t it show in the way he looks at the world?

    A converted man would he care more for people’s souls than for the supposed pillars of conservatism. A converted man would stand up against evil, even when everyone else stood against him. A converted man would preach this gospel, live this gospel, and die for this gospel.

    “Hold on, that seems harsh.” Is it? When professing Christians cajole, contort, and apologize to get around God’s Word, do they really love God?

    The way that Christians respond publicly to abortion and marriage will be one true test of our faith. Do we believe God’s Word or do we care more for other man-centered issues? Do we fear God or man? Indeed, who is our God?

    Are You a Christian Coward? Am I?

    A quick scan of Scripture’s calls to boldness in the gospel quickly reveals that the swath of American Christianity just doesn’t measure up:

    • Boldness is one distinguishing mark of righteousness: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion,” (Proverbs 28:1).
    • The early church prayed first for boldness following persecution: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,” (Acts 4:29).
    • God answers this prayer immediately by sending His Spirit: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness,” (Acts 4:31).
    • Because of the resurrection of Christ, Paul boldly fought with wild beasts at Ephesus: “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?” (1 Corinthians 15:32).
    • In Christ, we have bold access to the Father: “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him,” (Ephesians 3:12).
    • Christians are meant to preach the gospel boldly: “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear,” (Philippians 1:14).
    • Again: Paul was “proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance,” (Acts 28:31).

    Recently, my state had a much-discussed vote on a marriage amendment, and, though I won’t be discussing that amendment directly here, it did shed some light on a particular subject. Many Christians are afraid (read: opposite of bold), sinfully afraid, to speak out against sin.

    Jesus was bold. He told sinners they were vipers, children of Satan, lost, rebels, worse than prostitutes, and the like. And many sinners didn’t like that. By their will, that’s why He got killed. He was bold, too, in death and resurrection.

    Because He’s risen, we’re called to be bold lions, not cowards. So let us ask ourselves, maybe for the first time, “Am I a Christian coward?”:

    1. Do I take every opportunity to preach the good news, when people lead me to it (in season) and when they don’t (out of season)? If not, why not? We may find that our reasons are couched in fear: fear of losing friends, fear of losing popularity (worship of fame), fear of the government, fear of exalting God’s Word over other words, and the like.
    2. When I do speak the gospel, do I emphasize sin, righteousness, judgment, and hell, before I even get to the cross? If not, it could be that I am too afraid of those “negative” topics and their potential effects on my hearers.
    3. Do I speak boldly when someone is sinning boldly? (Think here of public child abuse, misogyny, abusive speech, stealing, reviling God’s Word, and the like.) The Bible says that the righteous rebuke the wicked. Do you?
    4. Do I speak publicly on moral issues? This doesn’t mean we become Bible-thumping hate-mongers. It means that our country is constantly discussing moral issues, particularly two at this time, marriage and abortion, and we have a social and moral mandate for God’s glory to speak His Word. Do you do it?

    To the degree that we do these things, our hearts are trusting in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Him, we become bold, gracious, gospel-dependent, and alive.

    To the degree that we do not do these things, God says we are cowards, afraid to trust in Christ and valuing our own sinful culture over the riches of the God of heaven.

    God forgive us and help us.

    Ignoring the Marriage Context is Evil

    Susan Baer, in the poorly-titled “A Family Learns the True Meaning of the Vow ‘In Sickness and in Health’” from The Washington Post on January 5, 2012, tells the true story of a woman (Page) who divorced her mentally ill husband (Robert) to marry an old high school sweetheart (Allan). A key section:

    Allan felt uneasy at first, guilty about befriending a man [Robert] with limited cognition while starting up a romance with his wife [Page].

    Page tiptoed into the subject of dating with Robert, telling him that she and Allan were beginning to be more than just friends, and asking if he understood and was comfortable with that. Robert told her it was fine. “He’s a really nice guy,” Page says he told her…

    Page felt 30 again but was racked with guilt. “I believed my vows so strongly that they just kept ringing in my ears.”

    She consulted her minister, who told her that by continuing to take care of Robert, she was still honoring those vows.

    A few observations are in order:

    1. Allan felt “uneasy” and “guilty” about befriending Robert because he was committing adultery against him. No wonder. No amount of “I’m ok, you’re ok” from Page or their minister (see below) can take away the guilt one feels before God’s law.
    2. Page also “tiptoed into the subject of dating with Robert” because she was committing adultery against him. The fact that her husband misunderstood the context of their marriage bears no weight of the intrinsic meaning of their marriage.
    3. “What God has joined together, let no man separate” applies to husband and wife, too. Or do we think too little of verses like Matthew 19:6? Yes, our own sins and weaknesses are the reason we need such vows.
    4. Page’s minister ought to be fired. Whoever this “minister” is, he wickedly ignored the context of Robert and Page’s marriage vows. Those vows are taken as husband and wife, not as nurse and patient, not as mother and overgrown child, not as friend and friend – as husband and wife. A minister who understands this not ought not advise others, au revoir.
    5. The WP trumpets a lie. Apparently, WP and author Baer want to applaud Page for her courage to “stick with” her former husband and yet “find happiness” with  her new one. In pursuit of that self-congratulatory end, they controvert the meaning of marriage.

    Which brings us to some final thoughts:

    • Remarriage, part deux: What happens when Allan, Page’s new husband, becomes mentally ill or disabled? Will she divorce him, continue to care for both him and Robert, and marry a third man? Which one will be her children’s father then?
    • The media and the meaning of marriage: How soon will The WP and other confused media outlets begin reporting on simple divorces that end happily? How long will it take us to see that they have an agenda in promoting divorce, broken families, and unhappiness?
    • An offense against God: The most important person in any discussion is God. When will we see that, when we seek to redefine what God has already spoken, we are shaking our tiny, childish fists in the face of the Almighty? Do we really expect to be “ok” when we mock His ways?

    May the Lord Jesus give us grace to listen here, learn, and repent.

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