Category Archives: Christianity and politics
Is the state of the culture a report card for the church?
I think I first heard Kevin DeYoung and John Piper ask and answer that question. They both concluded “no.” I think I agree with them. There is no direct relationship between the effectiveness of the church and the broader unbelieving culture.
Yet, it seems most Christians tend to assume a relationship. If the church was doing _____ then the culture wouldn’t ______. Because the church is weak in _____ the society is experiencing ______.
Many Christians too readily draw these kinds of conclusions. I think it’s well-intended. What Christian doesn’t want to see the church have a lasting positive impact on their society?
But I’m concerned that this thinking, especially among preachers and pastors, might be contributing to some unhealthiness in the church. I don’t know if I’m right about this, so you all chime in with your perspective. But it seems to me that some well-meaning leaders who use the state of “the culture” as a report card for the church sometimes end up hurting the church.
The church hurt comes from an overcompensation. My wife has chronic shoulder pain. It probably got started when our children were young and needed rear-facing car seats. She would very often stretch and contort her shoulder to reach and adjust a pacifier or pick up some toy that fell in the back seat. Pretty soon she had sharp pains in her shoulder. Being an excellent doctor but not a very good patient, she refused to …
This past week featured two annual remembrances in much of the evangelical world: “Sanctity of Life Sunday” and the Martin Luther King, Jr. public holiday. Some churches, like Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, have long made the two days a period of intense focus on the protection of life and racial reconciliation.
It’s an important juxtaposition orchestrated by divine providence. If Dr. King were known for anything it would be the protection of human life and dignity. We think of him as the great Civil Rights captain marching his troops to justice. But in every step of his march was the firm conviction that all men are made in the image of God and created equal. Had he not held that more foundational belief, along with a deeply biblical conception of love, it would be difficult to imagine so sturdy a fight for equality and inclusion. Those twin commitments have rightly made him an American hero, an icon representing the best of American ideals.
So, it’s worth asking: What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think about abortion?
There are many who will no doubt pronounce with unwavering certainty that, “Dr. King would have….” Some will say so with all the moral authority that comes from having “knew Dr. King” or “marched with Martin.”
To be clear, abortion came later, a few years after Dr. King’s murder. So, Dr. King himself never spoke publicly to the issue. Any “definite” pronouncements are most assuredly speculations and extrapolations.
But if he were consistent with his principles of love …
This is a guest post by Joani, devoted wife and mother of five adventuresome boys aged 7-16. A former homeschooling mom, she now serves as Assistant Director/Client Services Director at East Texas Pregnancy Help Center and studies at Liberty University. She is eternally grateful for her Saviour who redeemed her life. She is as kind a woman you will ever meet, and she also plays a mean violin! In this post she continues to evaluate different ways of speaking about abortion. You can read her first post here.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22)
We all can recount in our own individual lives memories of past suffering. Deep hurts. The type of hurt that makes you desperate to see a light somewhere, the pain that makes you wonder if you will ever recover, and the anguish that gives you sleepless nights…. and the taunting belief that you’ll never feel “ok” again. My friend sat before me, tears streaming down her cheeks. A choice stared her in the face bleakly, as she struggled to cope with what seemed impossible. Alone. Scarred. Betrayed. Now here she sat, left with an unplanned pregnancy, heartbreak, and a life deteriorating disease. The choice was actually, dare I breathe again? Memories flooded my mind as a reminder of emotions that I had experienced with my own crisis pregnancy that actually brought me to the doors of an …
Recently I’ve attempted to argue that in our discourse about homosexuality we need to return the discussion to the basic description of the acts themselves. I’ve suggested that on two grounds, one fairly implicit, the other stated explicitly. Implicit in my previous posts was the assumption that the entire premise of homosexuality as social identity needs to be questioned. I didn’t develop this thought, but it was working in my description of how the public conversation about homosexuality turned so quickly and decisively. The more explicit statement was that we need to turn the conversation to the sex acts themselves because the success of the pro-homosexuality campaign depends on our not considering those things actively.
This week a couple of pieces make those points far more eloquently and helpfully than I could ever do.
Understanding the Perception and Rhetoric
The first comes from a New Yorker profile of Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the DOMA case. At one point in the interview, the discussion turns toward rhetorical strategy and public perception. Here’s the relevant bit:
When selecting the ideal plaintiff, one experienced movement attorney told me, “Women are better than men, post-sexual is better than young.” From the Bible onward, two men having intercourse has been viewed as more disturbing to the social order than two women doing whatever it is that lesbians do. For people to embrace same-sex marriage, they needed to focus on the universal desire for romantic love and committed intimacy. Contemplating the difference between gay people and straight people made it acceptable to treat their relationships unequally, …
You know you’re suffering from jet lag when the entire family is wide awake at 2am watching Pokiemon and playing video games. We all have that “wish I could sleep but I’ve given up” look on our faces. And school and office hours are fast approaching.
For my part, I’ve decided to tidy up a few loose ends from the trip to New Zealand, Australia and Zambia. I’ve downloaded some photos, unpacked a couple of bags, and now I’m trying to sort a few remaining thoughts from the trip. First up, I want to finish reflections on homosexuality and the terms of our public discourse about it. Now, part of me doesn’t want to return to this at all. But another part continued to reflect on things and, interestingly enough, each point along our trip featured some major news story on the subject. So, unable to escape the issue, I’m choosing in this post to pull a couple further reflections together.
What Zambia Teaches Us about Moral Approaches to Homosexuality and Law
First stop: Zambia. It’s actually the third stop in our trip and surprisingly a third stop with some major news item related to homosexuality and gay rights. I was surprised to note during my stay in Zambia an article in one of Lusaka’s newspapers describing an ongoing criminal case regarding homosexual acts. The article appeared on the front page beneath the fold. Two men faced criminal sanction for allegedly offering and engaging in homosexual acts. Zambian law forbids such acts under …
I’ve managed to provoke a wide range of responses and emotions in my recent post on homosexual behavior and the human conscience. The response isn’t altogether surprising. It’s representative of the climate and world we live in. As many evangelical leaders have pointed out, we’re at the point now where there’s no longer any dispassionate position on homosexuality. You can mention it once in 20 years like Louie Gigglio, or you can be a former homosexual who only sings and preaches the grace of Christ like Donnie McClurkin, and you will find yourself vilified for opposing this behavior. It’s a time for God’s people to be full of grace and truth, sacrificing neither and proclaiming both.
I’m now in southern Africa, where internet connections and data speed are at great premium. So I’m trying to respond to some of the issues raised in the comments thread before disappearing from social media for about two weeks. I don’t want anyone to think I’ve shouted “fire!” in a crowded theater only to run away without giving an account. But this will have to briefly suffice before beginning ministry here in Africa.
The Original Argument in Brief
Since a number of people misrepresented or misinterpreted me and my post, I thought it would be helpful to state the argument in brief. No one commented on the lengthy discussion of how the rhetorical campaign for “gay rights” developed. Rather, most everyone focused on my call to speak in ways that address the human conscience. Here’s an …
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our stay in New Zealand. In fact, the two weeks have been too brief. We didn’t have opportunity to visit the South Island with its breathtaking peaks and scenes. We couldn’t even see the entire North Island. But what we saw–Rangatoto, the glow worm caves, Hobbiton, and the Lord’s churches–all blessed us tremendously. So with some sadness, we leave Middle Earth for the land down under.
As we travel, another event compounds our sadness. Today New Zealand legalizes so-called “gay marriage.” Network news stations on airport televisions feature celebrations at various government buildings. Topless men wave rainbow flags. Two men deep kissing. Groups of same-sex couples cheer. Interviewees speak of their elation and their desire to have others recognize their “love.” It’s a scene reminiscent of others in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Landing in Australia, I learned that Katy Perry has “blasted” Australian politician Tony Abbot for calling “gay marriage” the “fashion of the moment,” while Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promises that if re-elected he will introduce a “gay marriage” bill in his first 100 days. It seems this issue cannot be easily escaped.
As I’ve listened to comments on both sides of the issue, my mind wanders back about ten years ago. That’s when I think the tide changed in public sentiment and the ages-long tradition of heterosexual marriage “lost” the battle.
How Elites in Private Board Rooms Changed the Conversation
Ten years ago a number of states passed various forms of legislation to protect traditional …
It’s almost too risky to join the chorus of reactions in the wake of the Zimmerman trial. It seems everyone has an opinion–most strongly held and some volatile.
Some voices loudly declare justice has been thwarted. Some other voices quietly doubt the injustice is as great as claimed. These latter voices tend not to speak up for fear of being labeled and harangued. Christian voices make excellent appeals to Scripture, to forgiveness, prayer and a host of other spiritual virtues–all of which can sound hollow to unsatisfied viewers hungering for justice, for a verdict that seems to affirm Black life and exonerates the country of its racist past.
Words fail us. World-renown columnist Nicholas Kristoff tweeted pictures in place of prose:
— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) July 14, 2013
I suppose it’s twitter’s version of that powerfully moving closing argument in “A Time to Kill.”
President Obama offered prose instead of policy:
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen …
This is a guest post by Joani, wife of Dr. Hunter Burchett and mother of five adventuresome boys aged 7-16. A former homeschooling mom, she now serves as Assistant Director/Client Services Director at East Texas Pregnancy Help Center and studies at Liberty University. She is eternally grateful for her Saviour who redeemed her life. She is as kind a woman you will ever meet, and she also plays a mean violin!
I’ve written my own views on this issue here. When Joani shared similar concerns as a front line worker in a women’s clinic, I invited her to share with others. I hope it’s helpful to the cause and helpful in our relationships with the hurting.
With recent media coverage bringing to light some of the atrocities and crimes of abortion providers such as the Gosnell clinic, there has been a surge of articles comparing slavery to abortion. This concerns me… are we borrowing someone else’s suffering to make a point for another? Is this empathetic? What exactly are we communicating to hearts with these comparisons? What is the heart of Christ? I’ve daily had an increasing heavy heart each time I read a new article, and finally halted my reading to put my own thoughts together.
I’ve read more than a few disconcerting quotes lately, including: “Ever so slightly, the old South actually treated slaves better than liberals treat babies today” and “Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.” Working in a …
When our discussion first started, we were both surprised at how well it went, and both of us are very grateful to God, and to one another, for this great blessing. We have also been grateful to the readers and commenters who participated in this discussion in the same spirit, praying with us, and laboring to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3).
We wanted to bring our discussion to some sort of formal close, and so this is it. As we understand it, our points of agreement are:
1. Mankind is one in Adam, which means we share a common humanity, and a common slavery to sin. We together believe that mankind cannot come together in a true unity until they do so in the second Adam, the only one who is capable of overcoming the sorts of things that divide us.
2. We both believe that racism is a grievous sin, and we believe that it is a sin that has the practical effect of undercutting the gospel. Jesus came to cast down the middle wall of partition, not only between Jew and Gentile, but also to cast down any other walls that exist between any other races, nationalities, tribes, or tongues. Worthy is the Lamb, for only He could do this. But even He had to do it with the price of His own blood (Rev. 7:9).
3. The logic of the gospel is jubilee logic. This means that the messianic promises all looked forward …