Month Archives: August 2017

The Battle for Truth and Love

by Marcus Harris

August 30, 2017

If one were to question the moral fortitude of current Christians in America, one might conclude that a generation of Christians would rather be culturally acceptable than identify with the commandments of Jesus.

According to a survey conducted by the American Culture and Faith Institute, conservative pastors are reticent to speak about cultural issues for fear of appearing political and losing congregants. While many Christians around the world are courageously living in the midst of vile persecution for the sake of a faith they consider worth dying for, the American church has become sheepishly acquiescent to the demands for moral equivalency for the lifestyles of those who lack moral clarity. As the church, we have allowed the culture to define truth and love for us, and this has been a great detriment not only to our witness in the world, but to our own families. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a spiritual battle to define and live out the meaning of truth and love.

Research has shown that with every subsequent generation, those who call themselves followers of Jesus continue to convert to the gospel of moral relativism. As a culture, we now value achieving self-fulfillment by any means necessary, even if those means are destructive. Even though a majority of Christians would agree that God is the author of moral truth, many actually believe that truth is relative to one’s experiences and life circumstances.

Look no further than the growing acceptance of radical sexual autonomy among mainline protestant denominations and millennials to see how far we have fallen from the biblical standard of truth and love. Even though the Bible is clear about sin and its consequences, many Christians seem more concerned with appearing “judgmental” and “unloving” rather than calling people out of darkness into light. Ultimately, we need to repent and come back to the essence of what truth and love really entail.

Simply put, Jesus is truth and love. You cannot have one without the other. He is the Lion and the Lamb. We either receive all of Him or none of Him at all. We cannot pick and choose which facets of Jesus’ nature we want to keep to fit our desires. The truth that has been established by God is eternal and will never bend to culture. It is the greatest story of love ever displayed. The truth is that God in his mercy sent Jesus to save us from our sins so that we may be holy and blameless before Him. The truth is that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that all who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The fact of the matter is this: it is not very loving of us to give credence to sinful proclivities from which Jesus died to save the world. Those of us who have children know this to be fundamentally true. We would never, in the name of love, allow our children to run out onto a busy highway just because they believed it was their prerogative. The church in America must develop a backbone like the early church possessed, and speak the truth in love and grace. There is a battle being waged, and it is imperative that we let our love for God and His commandments shape how we think and live. As ambassadors of Christ, we have been called to be distinct and to call the world to reconciliation with God. It is only in a reconciled relationship with God that the world will find true freedom and the highest ideal of fulfillment.

Ways to Help Texas Flood Victims

by FRC

August 29, 2017

 

The scale of flooding that has inundated Houston and the surrounding region of Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is shocking. As Christians, we are called to help those in need, first through prayer, and second through charitable work if we are able.

Here is a list of reputable organizations to donate to that are currently on the ground providing much needed aid:

Science vs. Science on USDA Nominee’s Views of “LGBT Behavior” and “Choice”

by Peter Sprigg

August 28, 2017

The Left is going after another of President Trump’s nominees to an executive branch post—Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., who has been tapped to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics.

When his nomination was announced last month, the chief focus of the administration’s critics was that Mr. Clovis is “not a scientist,” yet is being nominated to be the Department of Agriculture’s “chief scientist.” He was also attacked for being a “skeptic” on the issue of “climate change” science.

Critics focused on Clovis’ background as a radio talk show host and an unsuccessful political candidate—glossing over the fact that he has both an MBA and a Ph.D. in Public Administration, and had been a professor of economics at two different colleges (thus checking off both the “Education” and “Economics” parts of the job for which he has been nominated).

Recently, however, Mr. Clovis came under further attack for something seemingly unrelated to agriculture—namely, his position on homosexuality. Critics mined his radio commentaries for remarks they considered controversial—such as slippery slope arguments regarding the consequences of redefining “marriage” to include same-sex unions.

However, one critique caught my eye in particular. Writer Gary Legum, in an opinion piece in the Independent Journal Review, said the following (quoting in turn a CNN article about Clovis):

On the other hand, while Clovis might not believe the issue of a biological basis for sexual attraction is settled, people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about it:

[Quote] Clovis has repeatedly argued that the science on homosexuality is unsettled and that “LGBT behavior” is a choice. The American Psychological Association has said that while there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” [End quote]

Let’s first look at the CNN quote. Although presented in such a way as to imply that there is a contradiction between Clovis’ view and the ostensibly “expert” opinion of the APA, there is actually no difference between them. Clovis’ view that “the science on homosexuality is unsettled” and the APA’s view that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation” are different ways of saying the exact same thing.

In reality, it is Mr. Legum’s declaration that “people with scientific and medical training are fairly sure about” there being “a biological basis for sexual attraction” that is directly contradicted by the APA’s statement that “there is no scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation.”

The “choice” issue requires a more careful examination. The APA is quoted as saying that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” This is entirely true—if you use the first definition of “sexual orientation” that is offered in the APA document being quoted: “Sexual orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions [emphasis added] to men, women or both sexes.”

Mr. Clovis, however, did not refer to LGBT “attractions”—he referred quite explicitly to “LGBT behavior.” “Attractions” are internal, subjective, and psychological; “behavior” is external, objective, and physical. They are not the same thing at all.

The APA document does go on, however:

Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions.

This statement is entirely consistent with an understanding that I have tried to communicate for years, which is that “sexual orientation” is not one thing, but rather is an umbrella term that, depending on the context, can be used in reference to several different things—such as, in the APA’s terminology, “attractions,” “behaviors,” “sense of identity,” and “membership in a community.”

To speak clearly about “sexual orientation,” it is necessary to address each of these elements of it individually, since they are quite different from each other. This is particularly the case if we are discussing the role of “choice” in a person’s “sexual orientation.” “Identity” involves at least some element of choice, especially if we consider one’s public self-identification to be part of it. “Membership in a community” would appear to involve an even greater level of choice.

And one’s sexual behaviors—outside of a context of sexual abuse or exploitation—must be considered almost entirely a matter of “choice.” To say otherwise would be to imply that those with same-sex attractions are in the grip of an irresistible compulsion—which would be far more insulting than to say that they (like all of us) are capable of choosing their sexual behavior.

So when the APA says that “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation,” they are in that context referring to people’s sexual attractions, which indeed are not a “choice.” (Note: To say that same-sex attractions are not a choice, however, is not to say that they are innate. If—as many believe—they result from psychological and developmental forces or experiences in childhood or adolescence, then that would mean they are neither chosen nor inborn.)

I take no position here on Mr. Clovis’ general qualifications to serve in the Department of Agriculture. However, in clearly distinguishing “LGBT behavior” from same-sex attractions, while noting accurately that scientists cannot definitively point to one universal cause of such attractions, Mr. Clovis has actually shown a greater understanding of the science on homosexuality than have his critics.

International Religious Freedom in 2016: Still Work to Be Done

by Travis Weber

August 24, 2017

Last week, the State Department released its report assessing religious freedom around the world during 2016.

Many of the usual suspects we think of when addressing religious freedom violations overseas were covered by the report, and continue to reveal their religious freedom violations:

  • Iran continues to imprison people for “insulting the prophet” and “enmity against God” – both of which can merit the death penalty.
  • Within Syria, ISIS “killed dozens through public executions, crucifixions, and beheadings of men, women, and children on charges of apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, and cursing God.” Within Iraq, the group continued to “commit individual and mass killings, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, random detentions and mass abductions, torture, abduction and forced conversion of non-Muslim male children, and the enslavement and sex trafficking of women and girls from minority religious communities.”
  • Saudi Arabia still outlaws all religions except Islam from being publicly practiced, even criminalizing “any attempt to cast doubt on the fundamentals of Islam.” The government there has continued to enforce a comprehensive anti-religious freedom legal regime, including imprisoning people for blasphemy and apostasy.
  • China continues to reportedly detain and harass both registered and nonregistered religious groups in the country.

Yet new religious freedom problems have also emerged in recent years, and in places not traditionally associated with religious freedom violations – like Western Europe. They are also documented in the report:

  • In the United Kingdom, a university “expelled a Christian graduate student after he expressed his opposition to gay marriage on social media because of his Christian beliefs.”
  • Elsewhere in Europe, such as France, attacks against Jews, Muslims, and Christians because of their religion have continued to occur.

We should specifically take note of the expelled U.K. graduate student, for the same forces opposed to a religious belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman are the same forces operating in the United States and elsewhere around the world. As we increasingly face domestic religious freedom problems related to this issue, this example is a reminder that we must guard the same religious freedom at home which we fight for around the world. Neither can be taken for granted.

The 2016 report is a valuable resource for assessing the state of religious freedom around the globe. It isn’t perfect – it aims a bit too broadly at times, commenting on matters such as speeches directed at immigration policy in Europe, or, for instance, an investigation into alleged tax fraud in the Muslim community in Denmark. These are not substantive religious freedom violations, and including them in such a report diminishes real religious freedom problems such as imprisonment for sharing one’s faith. Reasonable people will disagree over the precise role of religion in democracies, and a religious freedom violation does not occur every time someone remarks on the role of religion in a larger social controversy.

All in all, the report is a valuable tool to continue to address religious freedom shortcomings worldwide. While this can be done in several ways, one very helpful step would be to incorporate the issue more broadly into our foreign policy. With the appointment of Governor Brownback as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, we have an opportunity to do just that – and more – as we look ahead with the new foreign policy of the Trump administration.

Why Is Iceland “Eradicating” People With Down Syndrome?

by Daniel Hart

August 16, 2017

Yesterday, an article appeared on CBS News stating that “few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland.” It turns out that Iceland has made prenatal screening for Down syndrome an enormously commonplace occurrence for pregnant mothers, which has resulted in “close to 100 percent” of them choosing to abort their babies.

It’s telling that the authors of the article chose to phrase this situation by saying Iceland has come close to “eradicating Down syndrome births,” as if this were akin to the country eradicating a disease like malaria.

One has to wonder, who convinced Iceland that people with Down syndrome are such a big problem that they must be completely eliminated from the entire country? According to Helga Sol Olafsdottir, an Icelandic hospital worker, “[w]e ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family.”

As it turns out, just the opposite is true. A full 99 percent of people with Down syndrome say they are happy with their lives, while 97 percent “like who they are.” In addition, “[99] percent of parents said they loved their child with DS and 97 percent were proud of them,” and “96 percent [of siblings] indicated that they had affection toward their sibling with DS, with 94 percent of older siblings expressing feelings of pride.”

Seeing proof of this is as simple as doing a quick YouTube search for “down syndrome,” which produces dozens of examples that explode the anti-Downs prejudice that killing them before birth will “prevent suffering.” Here is a tiny sampling of how those with Downs are not only flourishing, but are bringing joy to all those around them:

Instead of “eradicating” a perceived health problem, Icelanders are unwittingly eradicating joy, happiness, and innocence from their midst.

Social Conservative Review - August 15, 2017

by Daniel Hart

August 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

For the first time since the 1930’s, the overall life expectancy rate in America has declined. Why? Because the suicide rate is increasing all over the country.

There are a multitude of factors that have contributed to this increase. However, all of these factors can be boiled down to one primary cause: despair.

From where is this increasing level of despair coming from? I would argue that one of the primary causes for increasing despair is increasing unbelief in God. The Pew Research Center reports that 23 percent of Americans currently describe themselves as “nones,” or those who consider themselves either atheist, agnostic, or “nothing in particular.” This number has been steadily rising since at least 1972, when “nones” made up seven percent of the population. In just the last 10 years, this number has jumped eight percent, from 15 to 23 percent.

It has been statistically verified that those who attend religious services are far less likely to commit suicide: In a study of 89,000 people “between 1996 and 2010, those who attended any religious service once a week or more were five times less likely to commit suicide.” In another study, “of the 6,999 Catholic women who attended Mass more than once a week, none committed suicide” (emphasis mine).

Without a belief system built on divine revelation, human beings will form their own belief systems around whatever suits them. The secular world is more than happy to fill this demand for what to believe—we are constantly bombarded by the news media and popular entertainment about what we should believe is right and wrong, what is good and evil, what is tolerant and intolerant, what constitutes equality and inequality, etc. If we don’t have religious belief that provides a moral framework grounded in absolute truths, we put ourselves in the risky position of having to ultimately trust in human beings for the ultimate answers. The inevitable culmination of purely human thinking is despair, because we are and never can be ends in ourselves. As discussed previously, we know where despair can eventually lead.

Christ reveals an infinitely better way: divinely revealed truth. In Matthew 16:23, he rebukes human thinking: “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” As Christians, we must do all we can to turn back the tide of unbelief that is steadily rising in America, trusting not in the ways of man, but in the ways of God.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Sanctuary Cities’ Aren’t Brave. They’re Obstructing Law Enforcement. – Ken Blackwell

When We Choose Love Over Fear, God Stretches Our Hearts – Dan Hart

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions is bringing the hammer down on leaksKen Blackwell

The Decay of Liberty and the Rule of Law in 21st Century AmericaPeter Johnston

Human Sexuality and the Goodness of MarriageClara Ramos and Shania Burch

Iran Heightens Its Crackdown On ChristiansDan Hart

Attention Millennials: True Religious Freedom May Make You Feel UncomfortableMary Beasley

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Religious Liberty Protection Kit for Students and Teachers – First Liberty

Cake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious LibertyNathanael Blake, The Federalist

The Threat of Free Speech in the UniversityRoger Scruton, Ethics & Public Policy Center

Christian wins the right to refuse to photograph homosexual ‘weddings’Peter LaBarbera, LifeSiteNews

The Continuing Threat to Religious LibertyRyan T. Anderson, National Review

Googling Moral PurityR.R. Reno, First Things

No One Expects The Google Inquisition, But It’s ComingRobert Tracinski, The Federalist

Prayer Walks draw protest in Mississippi school districtRon Maxey, USA Today

Wyoming Judge Appeals To Nation’s Highest Court After Losing Job For Being A ChristianJonathan Lange, The Federalist

International Religious Freedom

Pray for the persecuted church in Sudan and South SudanEthics & Religious Liberty Commission

Iran Punishes Religious Minorities with Lengthier SentencesElisabeth Doherty, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative

Saving Christians From GenocideWilliam Doino Jr., First Things

Christian Persecution in India Hits Record High in First Half of 2017Anugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

Liu Xiaobo’s Stern WarningJianli Yang, National Review

 

Life

Abortion

American Abortion, American Freedom – Miles Smith, Public Discourse

More than half of women getting abortions also use contraceptionEmma Court, New York Post

Why Life Is WinningJeanne Mancini, Heritage Foundation

Pro-Life Laws Do Not Lead to Poor Public HealthMichael J. New, National Review

Google And Facebook Co-Sponsoring Protest Of Pro-Life Women’s Health Care ClinicPeter Hasson, The Daily Caller

What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearingJulian Quinones and Arijeta Lajka, CBS News

Adoption

The Changing Face of Adoption in the United StatesNicholas Zill, Family Studies

The other Russia story we need to talk about is adoptionMary Vought, USA Today

Mom Walks in Door with Adopted Baby in Arms. Moment Daughters See Her, They’re Brought to TearsCarolyn Marie, Liftable

Bioethics

Hospital tries to force baby off life support, parents won’t give up fightClaire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

Euthanasia Used for 4.5 Percent of Deaths in the NetherlandsMaria Cheng, AP

Stop Assisted-Suicide Opioid AbuseWesley J. Smith, First Things

A Tale of Two Sams: You Should Not Actively Euthanize Your BabyAaron D. Cobb, Public Discourse

Explainer: American scientists “edit” human embryosJoe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Please don’t edit me outRebecca Cokley, The Washington Post

FDA warns doctor not to promote ‘three-parent’ fertilization procedureLianne Laurence, LifeSiteNews

Obamacare

How Obamacare Is Eroding Private InsuranceJarrett Stepman, The Daily Signal

Thousands Visit Free Clinics In Barns And Fields: ‘We’re The Middle Class, And We’re HereChris Togneri, The Federalist

This is How You Make Health Care AffordableJay Bowen, The Stream

Here Are 7 Implications of Ending Obamacare’s Cost-Sharing Reduction PaymentsEdmund Haislmaier, The Daily Signal

 

Family

Economics/Education

When It Comes to Helping People, Facts Don’t Care About Your Intentions – Jacob Roth, The Daily Signal

How Should American Christians Help the Poor at Home? – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

4 Reasons To Pick A College That Doesn’t Want To Destroy Your Principles – Chandler Lasch, The Federalist

Why Men Are the New College Minority – Jon Marcus, The Atlantic

Play Hard. Work Maybe? – Melissa Langsam Braunstein, Family Studies

Marriage

Half of those thinking of divorce reconsider a year laterCBC News

America Abandons Marriage at Its Own PerilJerry Newcombe, The Christian Post

Parenting Is Not a “Job,” and Marriage Is Not “Work”Jonathan Malesic, New Republic

This incredible medical breakthrough could save the lives of millions of preborn babiesCassy Fiano, Live Action

Faith/Character/Culture

Religion and Politics at the Dinner Table: Challenging the Old Maxim – Christopher W. Love, Public Discourse

Serving God and a woman in need at the WalmartPatty Knap, Aleteia

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?Jean M. Twenge, The Atlantic

I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of ThronesKevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition

Does Conscience Point Towards the Existence of God?Matt Nelson, Word On Fire

Guys Need BrosBryan Stoudt, Desiring God

What Having a Ton of Kids Has Taught MeJared Zimmerer, Word On Fire

On Fields of PraiseRobert Royal, The Catholic Thing

The Great Wall of Cotton: Why We Hit Snooze on GodGreg Morse, Desiring God

Don’t Let Politics Turn America Into Another CharlottesvilleDavid Harsanyi, The Federalist

Human Sexuality

Study finds more Americans are approving of polygamyCatholic News Agency

Talking about sex with your kids: 5 things I’m learningJohn Powell, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Examining the History of Sexual Exploitation and the Fight to Eradicate ItMadeleine Ayers, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Gender Expert’: Boy Won’t Play With Trucks. Let’s Make Him A Girl. – Hank Berrien, The Daily Wire

This debate is about gender dysphoria, not transgender military service – Jamie Shupe, MercatorNet

Why Are Lesbian Teens Having Two To Seven Times As Many Babies As Their Heterosexual Peers? – Glenn T. Stanton, The Federalist

Human Trafficking

Senators: Alter Internet laws to hold Backpage liable for sex traffickingAamer Madhani, USA Today

At Las Vegas’s Mayweather-McGregor Fight, Human Trafficking May Happen Right In Front Of You – Vinciane Ngomsi, The Federalist

Pornography

Why Both Sides of the Aisle Can Agree that Pornography is a Public Health Crisis – Dawn Hawkins, Huffington Post

Human Sexuality and the Goodness of Marriage

by Clara Ramos and Shania Burch

August 10, 2017

The place and value of sex is a complex issue in modern American culture. The view of sex as the intimate union between a man and woman brought together by marriage under God has largely been lost. It has been replaced by an entitled inclination toward convenience and conceding to a desire for the instant gratification of sexual and emotional fulfillment.

Being a part of a culture engulfed in endless choices, including the choice to have sex at any point in life regardless of the type of relationship between the partners, makes it necessary for Christians to bear witness to God’s intention for human sexuality. Using the guidance of the Bible, early Church fathers, and Christian scholars, Christians can promote God’s will for sexual intimacy as the exclusive and supreme physical act of unity between a man and woman who are drawn together under Him in marriage.

The Modern View of Sex

Contemporary Americans place utmost importance in their happiness and freedom of choice. What often defines happiness, according to Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, is summarized by the acronym PERMA: pleasure, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments. Many seek their purpose, freedom, and sources of fulfillment in their activities, contribution to their environment, and ability to enjoy such pleasures as food, sex, and material comforts.

From the Christian perspective, true freedom is attained by dedicating one’s life to the glorification of God and living in liberation from sin. Paul the Apostle verifies this by asserting that man should glorify God in body and spirit and flee from sins, such as sexual immorality, in order to uphold God’s sacred gift that is the human body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). In the modern view, however, individuals tend to perceive their sexuality as a part of their humanness that demands and deserves total autonomy, and, as a result, use it to exercise their freedom of choice and self-expression.

Robert Buffington and his colleagues expand upon the value of sexual freedom in their book, A Global History of Human Sexuality: The Modern Era, by highlighting the way in which the fight for sexual freedom has become a major political issue in contemporary culture. Due to the strongly Western ideal of liberty, sexuality has become yet another aspect of life that can be expressed at the discretion of the individual and supported by advocates within mainstream culture who believe that one’s sexual identity can be self-created.

The Implications of the Modern View of Sex

The values of modern Americans show that what is deemed to be most important is the idea of choice. Choosing to be involved in relationships, to engage in one’s community, and to enjoy pleasure in proper ways are important for human flourishing, but they are often overemphasized. When we concede to the desire for personal happiness in this way, we distance ourselves from God and move closer to a false self-identity that dictates our choices. Aspects of sexual freedom, such as freedom from sex trafficking and gender-based bullying, are certainly important; but placing sexuality at the center of one’s identity and using it without discretion degrades God’s purpose for human sexuality.

In contemporary culture, sex is no longer the act of a man and woman united under God, engaging in sexual unity to raise a godly generation; rather, it is an act of personal choice and freedom where reproduction is often seen as an undesirable consequence.

Christians know that true freedom is not anchored in a sexual identity, but in an identity in Christ (Colossians 3:3). Christians have the opportunity to share with others that God’s intention for human sexuality is an exclusive act of union that follows, rather than precedes, deep, God-centered love. Genesis 1:24 demonstrates that kind of love by stating that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh,” making it clear that God first created men and women, then united them in one flesh by the goodness of marriage.

The Goodness of Marriage

Marriage is a profound mystery, one that God has planned from the beginning of time. When God created Adam, He gave him the task to name and rule over all the animals of the field and of the air; yet, God saw that Adam was lonely and had “not found a helper like himself” (Genesis 2:20). The beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and all living creatures brought a sense of joy and delight to him, but were not and could not be a fulfilling match for him.

So God created woman from the rib of Adam and brought her into Adam’s sight. He exclaimed, “This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman” (Genesis 2:23). God blessed this first marriage, saying “increase and multiply,” (Genesis 1:28) for they were to become the models of marriage for humanity as the first parents in complimentary union.

The Trinity and Marriage

Marriage is true, good, and beautiful because it resembles the oneness of the three divine Persons of the Trinity. The perfect bond and oneness of the Blessed Trinity makes them inseparable; this also occurs in the sacrament of matrimony when the marital bond of husband and wife is sealed by God.

Sam Allberry further reflects that “by virtue of their marital union, man and wife are able to arrive at a kind of oneness that can reflect the oneness of God the Trinity.” This oneness is possible by the gifts that proceed from the Trinity and should reflect in marriage: totality, unity, and fidelity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:

…the characteristic traits of marriage are: totality, by which the spouse gives themselves to each other mutually in every aspect of their person, physical and spiritual; unity, which makes them “one flesh” (Gen 2:24); indissolubility and fidelity which the definitive mutual giving of self requires; the fruitfulness to which this naturally opens itself.

Marriage also images the Trinity by way of the Holy Spirit, which is the fruit of the Father and the Son’s reciprocal love. In the same way, a child is the fruit of the husband and wife’s love.

These traits seem to have faded away in modern society. The totality of marriage has been degraded to merely pleasure and selfishness. Pornography has objectified women and men by taking the sexual act out of its proper context within marriage, thereby debasing it by taking away its inherent beauty and unity. This perversion of marital fidelity and privacy, which continues to grow with an ever-increasing number of porn websites and a consuming public that justifies its consumption through a relativistic mindset, prevents the world from seeing the goodness and dignity of marriage.

The Purpose of Marriage

God’s oneness, which only He can give, can be seen in the creation of man when God made woman from the rib of Adam, her husband. God did not take a foot or a strand of hair from Adam to create Eve. No: He took a rib to show man the equal dignity of male and female. Matthew Henry expands upon this: “[T]he woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

The purpose of marriage is not, as John Chrysostom puts it, for “indecency and laughter,” but “for the sake of begetting offspring and in the fidelity of chastity” (Augustine). Chrysostom understood that the unique beauty of marriage will dissipate in the swamps of infidelity. Thus, marriage is and can only be between one man and one woman. Anything other than this is contrary to God’s plan. Its purpose is unitive and fruitful, and glows in the eyes of God. It is precious and holy, for it has the potential to bring into this world another human being that is capable of knowing God.

The nature of marriage is ordained for “the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” Yet, God’s merciful love and compassion not only enriches the fertile womb, but exceeds in bounty to marriages that have gone through the hardships of infertility and miscarriage, thus making marriage not only procreative in nature, but also unitive. God’s love ensures that experiencing these great trials can still bear the fruit of unitive marital love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church plainly states: “Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.” This shows the infinite goodness and love of God, whose love makes “the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity, [the] image of God.”

Clara Ramos and Shania Burch are students at Regent University.

Iran Heightens Its Crackdown On Christians

by Daniel Hart

August 8, 2017

The Wilberforce Initiative is reporting that Iran is targeting Christians, re-sentencing them to lengthier jail times despite having already served their sentences. According to the report, Ebrahim Firouzi, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, was re-sentenced to five additional years for trumped-up charges of “forming a group for disrupting national security” based on “the same evidence used in the previous court case for which he had already served his prison sentence.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has reported an uptick in arrests and imprisonments in the last four years of those who are a part of religious minorities in Iran. In the last month alone, “12 Christians have been sentenced to lengthy prison confinement for 10 years or more because of their faith,” according to World Watch Monitor.

Iran is a country of some 80 million predominantly Muslim inhabitants, of which only one percent are religious minorities. This includes about 300,000 Christians, some of whom are Armenian Christians who are considered to be born Christian and are generally not bothered by the Iranian regime. In a country that is over 99 percent Muslim, it is considered a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity, which can carry a death sentence.

With President Trump considering his options on how to pull out of the rashly devised Obama-era nuclear deal, it is also highly important for him to consider the tragic plight of Christians and other persecuted minorities who are languishing in Iranian prisons simply because of exercising their God-given right to freely follow their consciences.

Attention Millennials: True Religious Freedom May Make You Feel Uncomfortable

by Mary Beasley

August 4, 2017

Millennials have been lauded for being one of the most open-minded of generations, accepting and tolerant of a variety of perspectives. Millennials pride themselves on being an exceptionally diverse generation—racially, ethnically, sexually, politically, culturally… the list goes on. The linchpin for diversity is acceptance. More than ever, millennials pride themselves on being particularly tolerant and accepting.

However, the real-world consequence to this much-heralded virtue of tolerance is, ironically, intolerance. Tolerance without limits becomes moral destruction. Tolerance with limits… can that be called “tolerance” at all?

Tolerance” can only be taken so far, until one is forced to become intolerant to intolerance itself. So, millennials have a problem. Tolerance seems to be an impossible standard to uphold, unless one is advocating for complete political and cultural anarchy. Tolerance, to its end, upholds no standards.

A recent survey found that millennials do believe religious freedom is important—remember, tolerance is the name of the game. However, it seems that millennials tend to draw a boundary between society and the self. Many millennials see religious freedom as an “individual” priority, not as a social priority. And over half of millennials agree that religion is only personal and should not play a role in society.

So, millennials appear to be “tolerant.” Religious freedom seems like a decent idea to them. In practice, however, tolerance of religious freedom can only go so far. As it turns out, many millennials are confused and apprehensive about something called the “free exercise clause.” The Constitution does not simply establish the freedom to hold religious belief as a certain inalienable right, it upholds the exercise of religion as an inalienable right.

Apparently, the free exercise clause has made the millennial generation uncomfortable, who see religious freedom as an individual value becoming a societal problem when it is put into actual exercise.

For millennials, it seems, the values of the self are prioritized over the values of society, a line defined by political correctness. When religious freedom is strictly a right of the individual, it doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable nuisance—unless it is defined as a societal right. If this were the case (and it is, as defined by the Constitution), then the rights of society would impinge on the rights of the individual. This becomes a real problem if individual rights are prioritized. This kind of thinking views authentic religious freedom in society as a problem, because it could make the individual feel uncomfortable.

In order to keep the individual prioritized, political correctness has become essential. Political correctness defines the standards for keeping all individuals in a comfortable, trigger-free zone.

But what is true religious freedom, and what does it require in practice?

The Founding Fathers knew that the idea of religious freedom cannot be understood merely at the level of a belief. Religion is a belief, but belief itself necessitates action. The “free exercise” clause is therefore essential not only for the individual, but for the proper understanding of what religious belief requires.

Giving people the “right” to religious freedom does not bestow true freedom unless there is also a freedom to act. Any person who associates themselves with a religion or a belief system knows that true devotion requires action. What is the point of believing that killing another human being is immoral unless it is put into daily practice? The decision to believe is not enough. True devotion is carried out in daily life, requiring the commitment and sacrifice of the individual.

This is the cost of commitment to faith. Jesus Christ radically defines this commitment as a sacrifice of the individual. He was honest with his disciples about the cost when he said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (from The Cost of Discipleship). True commitment to faith is radical. It is completely selfless, requiring man to die to himself. This commitment goes far beyond a mere intellectual exercise; it requires the full sacrifice of an individual’s life—every piece and part.

Thus, it is not only unlawful to argue that individuals should revoke their right to exercise freedom of religion, it is also illogical. To assume that religious people can “contain” this commitment as a purely intellectual pursuit inside the four walls of a church is to misunderstand the nature of religious belief. Societies are formed by individuals, many of whom infuse religious practices into their daily lives. They naturally affect, influence, and inspire those around them. Therefore, religion cannot be displaced from the actions of the individual just as the individual cannot be displaced from society. Therefore, religion cannot be contained from society.

One of the millennial generation’s biggest misconceptions is that the individual is above society. In reality, individuals are pieces of a larger community. Ironically, it would seem, the millennial generation’s insistence on “tolerance” ends up suppressing individuals who are deemed “intolerant.” The individual, however, cannot be contained. The individual is called to be a part of something greater. Could it be that the essence of the individual is sacrifice? The individual’s sacrifice is directed to a greater purpose: society itself. The exercise of religious freedom is not solely for the good of the individual, but for the good of society. This will be an uncomfortable but vital lesson for millennials to learn as they renew our society.

Social Conservative Review - August 1, 2017

by Daniel Hart

August 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

In an age when assisted suicide has been deemed acceptable public policy, it becomes necessary for Christians to unapologetically stand up for the dignity and worth of every human being, no matter what stage of life they are in or what occupation they have.

In the professional world, it’s easy to view jobs through the prism of worldly prestige and monetary worth—a film actor in Hollywood is seen as a much more important person than the cashier behind the counter at a grocery store. As Christians, however, we see these two jobs as equal in dignity and value, because God makes no distinction in worth between them. The actor is called to use his or her skills to further truth, goodness, and beauty through the art form of their acting abilities, thereby imparting new and cathartic insights about the mysteries of existence to the public. In a different but no less valuable way, the grocery store cashier is called to further truth, goodness, and beauty by being knowledgeable, kind, and helpful to his or her customers, thereby creating a life-giving and positive experience to every individual they serve.

Analogously, all people, no matter how old or young, have a role to play in furthering the kingdom of God on earth. As Chris Hazell has written, we discover our role primarily by living in community with others. One of the great tragedies of modern times is the increased isolation that many in our society live in. What we often fail to understand is that instead of taking away our freedom and autonomy, living in community with others actually strengthens our sense of self. God created us for communion, declaring that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). In the above referenced article, Hazel relates a beautiful quote from Henri J.M. Nouwen: “That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone - a unique, special place.”

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Trump’s right: Transgender patriotism isn’t the issue — military readiness isTony Perkins

Why We Were Right to Pray for President TrumpTony Perkins

6 Ways Governor Brownback Can Prioritize International Religious FreedomTravis Weber

11 Reasons Why Assisted Suicide Must EndDan Hart

Backpage.com and Human Trafficking: What is Christian America’s Response?Mary Beasley

No, Rev. Barber, Prayer for a President Is Not “Heresy”Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Free to Believe”

Bible verse plaque displayed at Tennessee police department to be movedFox News

Police officer disciplined for refusing to call a ‘transgender’ man a womanFr. Mark Hodges, LifeSiteNews

Lesbian mom asks Christian judge to recuse himself from her divorce case citing his stance against homosexualityMegan Cerullo, NY Daily News

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

FRC Speaker Series: Four Objections to Religious Liberty… and some Possible Answers! with Michael Stokes Paulsen

A Demagogic Bully – Mark Pulliam, City Journal

Indiana school district kowtows to atheist group, promises to end graduation prayersTré Goins-Phillips, TheBlaze

Ultra-Rich Gay Activist On Targeting Christians: It’s Time To ‘Punish The Wicked’Bre Payton, The Federalist

Students sue school for hushing pro-life speechBonnie Pritchett, WORLD

Conservative Students More Afraid to Speak Up on Campus Than Liberals, Study FindsMichael Gryboski, The Christian Post

Christie Signs Bill Requiring NJ Schools Use Preferred Pronouns for Transgender KidsRob Shimshock, The Daily Signal

State Directs Schools To ‘Segregate’ Students Uncomfortable With Transgender BathroomsAmanda Prestigiacomo, The Daily Wire

Millennials approve of religious freedom as a choice, but don’t know what it meansScott Taylor, Deseret News

International Religious Freedom

8 Churches Close in Baghdad Amid Shrinking Iraqi Christian Population – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

China’s Censorship Powers Are Bigger And More Dangerous Than You Know – Helen Raleigh, The Federalist

Spanish Cathedral Targeted for Reversing the ReconquistaMatthew E. Bunson, National Catholic Register

Pakistani Christians Fear Rise in Persecution After Ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz SharifAnugrah Kumar, The Christian Post

Google’s New Hate Speech Algorithm Has a Problem With JewsLiel Leibovitz, Tablet

4 Surprising Facts About ISISJoshua Pease, Open Doors

Military Religious Freedom

Why Trump Keeping Trans People From The Military Is A Good Decision – Walt Heyer, The Federalist

 

Life

Abortion

Hawaii pro-life centers sue over abortion promotion lawSamantha Gobba, WORLD

An Effective Weapon to Reach Pro-Abortion AdvocatesPatti Armstrong, National Catholic Register

Melinda Gates Commits $375 Million to Global Family Planning to Counter Trump’s Pro-Life PolicyDr. Susan Berry, Breitbart

Why ‘Sidewalk Counselors’ Are Crucial to the Pro-Life MovementPatty Knap, National Catholic Register

I was told abortion would make my life more complete. But it left the biggest hole in my heart…Bettina di Fiore, LifeSiteNews

Pregnancy Center Saves LA Babies from AbortionJim Graves, National Catholic Register

Dem campaign chief vows no litmus test on abortionBen Kamisar and Reid Wilson, The Hill

Kentucky Could Be The First Abortion Free-State By 2018Jeremiah Keenan, The Federalist

Adoption

Adoption: The good and hard lessonsMicah and Tracy Fries, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Why Christians Are Abandoning the OrphanageSarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Christianity Today

How you can learn to love your birth momAshton Morgan, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Bioethics

Republicans in Congress attempt to repeal D.C. assisted suicide lawEmma Kinery, USA Today

How Much Longer Do We Have? Living by Faith While Our Son Is DyingAllison Muedder, Desiring God

Charlie Gard Dies After Life Support is Switched Off: Mother Says “Our Beautiful Boy is Gone” – Steven Ertelt, LifeNews

Charlie Gard’s Case Delivers Déjà Vu Of Twentieth-Century EugenicsCaroline D’Agati, The Federalist

Scientists Kill Unborn Children in Human Genetic Engineering ExperimentsWesley Smith, LifeNews

Mother says adult, disabled daughter traumatized by doctor’s suggestion of assisted suicideJohn Burger, Aleteia

What Charlie Gard Has Taught UsMichael Brown, Townhall

Obamacare

41-Year-Old Father: ‘Obamacare Won’t Pay For My Back Surgery, But It Will Pay For Opioids’ – John Daniel Davidson, The Federalist

Congress Needs to Go Right Back to Work on Health Care Reform – Robert Moffit, The Daily Signal

Bipartisan Group: We Need To Break The Law To Make Obamacare Too Big To FailChristopher Jacobs, The Federalist

 

Family

Economics/Education

Why Melinda Gates Is Wrong About Contraception – John Clark, National Catholic Register

Capitalism and the Quest for Community – Brian Jones, Public Discourse

The American Dream Is in CrisisJ.D. Vance, The Daily Signal

Dodd-Frank Has Held Down the US Economy for Too Long – Rep. Jeb Hensarling, The Daily Signal

Our Cultural Waterloo – Carl R. Trueman, First Things

Conservatives are increasingly hostile to higher ed. Who can blame them? – Noah Rothman, USA Today

This Is the Way the College ‘Bubble’ Ends – Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Marriage

Long marriage, beautiful lifeCaryn Rivadeneira, Aleteia

Establishing the facts about family breakdown transforming the debate about marriageHarry Benson, Marriage Foundation

Paper, silver and gold: How marriage shapes usTom Hoopes, Aleteia

The Children of Divorce Speak OutRachel Lu, Crisis

Staying Married Is Not About Staying in LoveJohn Piper, Desiring God

Young men giving up on marriage: ‘Women aren’t women anymore’Hilary White, LifeSiteNews

Marriage MattersW. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

FRC Speaker Series: Not a Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth with Dr. Everett Piper

Game Of Thrones’ Is The Ugliest Show On Television. That’s Why We Love ItTitus Techera, The Federalist

Children are Never a BurdenMattias A. Caro, Ethika Politika

Limping Along the Way of Truth – Word On Fire

The Democrats’ Anthropological Field Trip to Study AmericansKyle Smith, National Review

Podcast: Race and human flourishing; Embracing diversity for the good of all peopleGlenn Packiam, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Crude Language, Coarse Culture: We Need to Do BetterRob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Human Sexuality

Why Premarital Sex Is Wrong – Nathan Smith, Public Discourse

Sen. Patty Murray Calls For Resignation of Trump Official Over Accurate Campus Rape CommentsJoy Pullmann, The Federalist

I felt really humiliated:’ Teen blasts school district’s transgender bathroom policyMatt Miller, PennLive

Activist Mommy Starts ‘Operation Pull Teen Vogue’ After Mag Peddles Sexual Perversion to MinorsCharlene Aaron, CBN News

Trump Cuts Wildly Ineffective Teen Pregnancy Program, Media Flip OutMollie Hemingway, The Federalist

Sex Robots Are (Almost) Here. How Will We Respond?Jay Richards, The Stream

How Embedding Women With Contraception May Keep Them In PovertyElizabeth Bauer, The Federalist

Human Trafficking

FRC Speaker Series: The Battle for Humanity: How Conservatives Can Fight Human Trafficking with Rep. Ann Wagner

Pornography

Twelve Days of Action: Half-Way Through This Year’s Dirty Dozen List – Ben Forsgren, National Center On Sexual Exploitation

You’d Be Surprised to Hear What Porn Is Doing to Sex – Gail Dines and Liz Walker, Verily

After 10 Years, My Partner Won His Struggle With Porn Addiction – Fight The New Drug

July 2017 «

» September 2017

Archives