Author archives: Daniel Hart

Let’s Make Evangelism Part of Our Everyday Lives

by Daniel Hart

August 30, 2019

As believers in Christ, how much is evangelism part of our everyday lives?

It’s a question that I have been asking myself a lot lately, especially in light of yet another discouraging poll that was released this past Sunday showing that over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who see religion and having children as “very important” is in steep decline (from 62 to 48 percent for religion and from 59 to 43 percent for having children).

The same poll also shows a substantial difference in the outlook of Millennial/Gen-Zers (ages 18-38) and the Boomers/Silent Generation (ages 55-91), who see patriotism, belief in God, and having children as “very important” at substantially higher rates than the younger generation. This does not bode well for the future of our country.

Overall, the poll found that Americans are increasingly angry, anxious, and unsatisfied. As believers called to witness to the gospel, we clearly have our work cut out for us.

Plentiful Harvest, Few Laborers

Whenever I come across fresh evidence like this of our country’s increasing godlessness and indifference to family life, I often think about Christ’s words in Matthew’s gospel: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).

They were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Isn’t that an incredibly fitting description of our culture right now? Christ’s next words haunt me no matter how many times I read them: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” There are so many souls out there who are lost, who are yearning for God without fully realizing what this hunger in their souls is for. Are we laboring amongst the plentiful harvest of these shepherdless sheep?

As believers, it’s easy to settle into a comfortable pattern in our faith lives. We find great solace and satisfaction in sharing our faith with our families, close friends, and church communities, as we should. While it’s true that a primary evangelistic responsibility is to pass the faith on to our children and to refuel our needy souls in our churches every week, it’s also true that many believers live their lives as though that is where their call to witness ends, myself included. What Jesus is calling us to is something even more far-reaching: to see the world as our mission field.

An Isolated and Lonely Culture

So how should we evangelize today’s culture? Should we stand on street corners with megaphones and loudly proclaim Christ while handing out leaflets?

I would argue that for most of us, this type of impersonal evangelism is not what we are called to. I believe we are called to a much more personal type of witness, one that focuses on individual connection and invitation during one-on-one interactions that happen in everyday life.

Why? Consider this: in one of the most astonishing studies released in recent memory, it was found that 46 percent of Americans reported “feeling lonely sometimes or always,” with 43 percent “feeling isolated from others, and the same number report[ed] feeling they lack companionship and their relationships lack meaning.”

Let’s let this sink in for a moment. Almost half of America is saying that they do not have meaningful relationships and often feel lonely and isolated. Now recall what the first study I discussed in the opening paragraphs found: fewer and fewer Americans consider raising a family and faith to be important. But families and faith communities are two of the biggest means by which people find true companionship and meaning in their lives, and thereby avoid loneliness!

Tragically, a large portion of the American populace does not appear to see the connection between what they value most in life and how those values affect their wellbeing. They are shunning society’s most fundamental institutions that provide authentic community and a sense of identity and belonging. Just how integral is family to this sense of identity? As Mary Eberstadt has written:

Up until the middle of the twentieth century (and barring the frequent foreshortening of life by disease or nature) human expectations remained largely the same throughout the ages: that one would grow up to have children and a family; that parents and siblings and extended family would remain one’s primal community; and that, conversely, it was a tragedy not to be part of a family.

As for faith, psychology professor Clay Routledge recently summed up his and his colleague’s findings about its unique importance:

Religion isn’t just like any organization or group that affords people the opportunity to socialize. Religion promotes a deeper feeling of mattering by teaching adherents that they have social duties to family, friends, and even strangers. Religious faith is an invisible thread that weaves individuals together into moral communities.

And yet, fewer and fewer Americans are seeing the value of family and faith. Is it any wonder that so many in our society are feeling increasingly isolated and alone?

The Essential Importance of Connection and Invitation

It is abundantly clear from all of this that there is a plentiful harvest of people in our culture who need to be reached out to. To reiterate: I would argue that the most effective way to evangelize a godless, lonely, and disconnected culture is to focus on personal connection and invitation in our interactions with people in our everyday lives.

So what does this look like?

Connection. For an introvert like me, I start getting nervous when I think about “reaching out” more. I’m the kind of person who, depending on the day, finds it quite difficult to merely ask a cashier at a store how their day is going. But these kinds of friendly interactions must be the starting points in our mission as believers to spread the gospel. A friendly “How is your day going?” to a grocery store clerk, fellow airplane passenger, or homeless person on the street can easily turn into a genuine connection if the moment is right. But unless we initiate this connection, we will never know if an evangelism opportunity could arise from it. 

Even if one of these everyday encounters does not result in a genuine connection being made, we can simply say, “God bless you” as we depart from the person we are engaging. These simple parting words are a way not only to impart a blessing on them, but also to emphasize the fact that we are Christian and that our good will is ultimately derived from our faith.

We should be especially open to opportunities for connection at our places of employment. Besides our homes, there is no place that we spend more time at than our jobs. The more time we spend at work with our coworkers, the more of a rapport we establish with them. This natural familiarity we develop with our coworkers can lead to an increased trust and openness with each other, which can then lead to excellent opportunities for evangelism.

We should also remember certain populations of people who are especially prone to isolation, particularly the elderly and those in prison. One in three seniors report feeling lonely, which underscores the need for us to visit our local assisted living facilities, where many elderly often do not have loved ones to spend quality time with. We should also spend time to discern if we have a calling for prison ministry. Organizations like Prison Fellowship provide great information and opportunities to minister to this often-forgotten population.

Invitation. Once we have established a connection with someone, we cannot afford to leave it at that. As we are seeing, our culture is starving for authentic community. This means we must extend an invitation to those we have connected with to continue the conversation, at a minimum. Depending on what we feel called to in a given situation, this could mean exchanging personal contact information, extending an invitation to our home for a shared meal, or inviting them to our church.

As Rod Dreher has written, evangelism in our time cannot be separate from discipleship. When we help those we witness to learn how to be faithful by continually inviting them into our own homes and faith communities, we not only build up their faith but also enrich our own families and communities with the fresh perspectives of newcomers.

We Are Not Called to Be Successful, But Faithful

During our journeys of witness, we will often feel like failures. In fact, we will probably not be able to see any lasting impact from most of our attempts to evangelize during our lifetimes. But this doesn’t matter. The Lord is simply calling us to be laborers in the harvest—He will take care of the rest.

In the end, evangelism is simply the act of showing love for our neighbor. Consider the words of Augustine, the mighty father of the early church, who described how Ambrose, a bishop, witnessed to him in his Confessions: “I began to love him at first not as a teacher of the truth … but simply as a man who was kind and generous to me.”

Excessive Smartphone Use is Dehumanizing Us

by Daniel Hart

August 23, 2019

Much has been written about how our society’s addiction to our smartphones, particularly among young people, is worsening our quality of life. I’ve lost count of the number of stories I’ve read about how our culture seems to have tiny attention spans due to social media addiction and about how kids these days don’t make eye contact anymore due to the smartphones that seem to be physically attached to their hands.

Recently, a friend described to me how during an orientation session for his new job, he sat next to two twenty-something fellow new hires who spent the entire time on their smartphones, only occasionally looking up at their supervisor who was giving the orientation.

While worrisome anecdotal stories like these abound, hard data is now emerging that only confirms these fears. In a sobering article at Family Life, Clay Routledge cites recent studies that show that extensive time spent on smartphones is leading to a host of alarming deficiencies in basic human relationships and interactions:

For example, in a field experiment, researchers found that having cellphones present during a meal with family or friends decreased enjoyment of that social experience. Another experiment that involved pairs of college students waiting together with or without their cellphones found that those who were phoneless were far more likely to smile at and interact with one another than those with cellphones. And one study found that having college students severely limit their daily social media use over a three-week period decreased both loneliness and depression. In short, a growing body of experimental research is providing empirical evidence that cellphones distract us from fully experiencing the real world.

Of particular concern are new findings that show that excessive smartphone use is negatively affecting the very fabric of family life. Routledge referenced another recent experiment involving parents and their interactions with their children at a museum in which “[t]he researchers found that parents in the high-use condition [of smartphones], compared to those in the low-use condition, reported feeling less attentive and less socially connected, and reported lower meaning in life while with their children at the museum.”

Perhaps most frightening is a Pew survey cited by Routledge:

Regarding smartphones and family life specifically, a Pew survey found that around half of teenagers say their parents are distracted by their phones when they are trying to talk to them, and over 70% of parents report that their teenagers are distracted when they are trying to have a conversation with them.

When screen addiction worsens even the most basic form of relational activity—talking to our family members—you know we have a serious problem. What Routledge alludes to, and what FRC has emphasized for years, is that family provides the most basic form of meaning in a person’s life through the love they receive, which in turn forms our core sense of self-worth. When this most fundamental source of meaning in our lives is compromised through the breakdown of familial communication and relationships, bad things happen.

A convincing argument has been made that the release of the iPhone in 2007 marked the beginning of a disturbing trend of mental health crisis in the post-Millennial generation. Indeed, a glut of mental health problems have sharply risen among young people since then, including rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.

Less Screen Time, More Fulfillment

There’s no question that smartphones, tablets, and other internet-enabled portable devices have enhanced our lives in many ways. But as with any technology (or any worldly good, for that matter), believers know that moderation is key. In order to form healthy habits of technology use, we must see smartphones for what they are: a tool, not a necessity.

The primary way we can avoid smartphone addiction for our children and future generations is to limit the amount of time they spend looking at screens. How do we do this? Simply put, if they are out of sight, they are out of mind. If we diligently cultivate our homes as a place where learning and authentic leisure are the primary focus, the need for screens will rarely arise. This can also set an expectation of healthy use of screens that can enhance family life, like for communal viewing of movies or sporting events, for example.

At a certain point in a child’s life, they will see that their peers have smartphones, and they will naturally want to fit in. But if we raise our children with the understanding that they do not need a smartphone, and instead grow up with an expectation that they can work for and earn money to buy one at the age that they can get a job, they will be more likely to see smartphones not as necessities but as tools.

With this healthy perspective from a young age, it is far less likely that kids will form a smartphone addiction when they are older and have free access to them. As the emerging data suggests, and as we inherently know deep down, we are happier and more fulfilled when we spend less time engaging a screen and more time engaging each other.

Hollywood, The Hunt, and the Need for Self-Restraint

by Daniel Hart

August 16, 2019

Does Hollywood actually possess some amount of self-restraint? In the wake of the horrifying mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, Universal Pictures announced that it would “cancel” the release of The Hunt, a movie about people who are politically liberal hunting down and killing other people who are politically conservative (who later get revenge by killing the liberals in return). The film’s original title was Red State Vs. Blue State.

But wait. Universal is actually reserving the right to release the film at a later date, presumably when the public outcry over the film has subsided. So much for self-restraint.

Artistry Flourishes Within Boundaries

It would be very interesting to be a fly on the wall in the room where executives at Universal decided to go ahead and finance a movie like The Hunt. Out of all the movie scripts to choose from, out of all the historical and creative subject matter that could have been crafted into a compelling film, Universal decided that a movie about people murdering other people for sport based on their political views was the one to make.

It appears that the general principle that guides Hollywood these days is that if a movie script is predicted to make money at the box office, it should be made, no matter what the actual content of the movie is. The excuse that Hollywood often uses is “creative license,” where any idea—no matter how twisted and debased—can be made into a movie. This is not only deeply disturbing, morally offensive, and degrading to society, it’s also not a good recipe for a well-crafted movie with any redeemable merit.

During most of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1920 – 1960), there was a code of guidelines (called the “Motion Picture Production Code”) that filmmakers followed regarding the content of their movies, which included rules for how sensitive subject matters like sex or murder could be portrayed. The code included a number of antiquated rules such as a prohibition against scenes of childbirth, but for the most part, the rules merely guarded against the positive portrayal of gratuitous sex, violence, drug use, and other obvious societal evils.

Did this code end up suppressing the creativity and artistry of Hollywood? Quite the contrary. During this period, Hollywood produced what are considered to be some of the greatest and most iconic films of all time, including Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, On the Waterfront, It Happened One Night, From Here to Eternity, Double Indemnity, Vertigo, Ben-Hur, and It’s a Wonderful Life, to name just a few.

I’m not suggesting that we should return to this kind of official content censorship being enforced on all films. I’m merely pointing out that filmmakers can make great movies while still practicing self-restraint in what they choose to put on film.

Evil is the Result of Unrestrained “Freedom”

Somewhere along the line, probably in the late 60’s, many filmmakers stopped believing that they had any responsibility for what they exposed the public to. In times past, particularly during the aforementioned Golden Age of Hollywood, there was an understood expectation that a movie would always have some kind of redeeming value for society. In other words, a film could deal with extremely serious and even disturbing subject matter, but in the end, there was always some kind of insight gained about the human condition that was edifying for the audience. There was an implicit understanding that the whole point of art itself is to portray inherent truths about the nature of humanity and existence in new, imaginative, and enriching ways.

This is in stark contrast to what many movies and TV shows do today. In the name of “realism” and “free expression,” murders are shown in full and unnecessary gratuitous detail, sex scenes and nudity are clearly used for titillation instead of suggestion, and vile profanity and blasphemy is spewed unflinchingly and continuously without a second thought. All of this is often included in modern films and shows without any thought to how it might negatively affect the minds and behaviors of the viewing public.

But something much more insidious and disturbing is now happening. With movies like The Hunt, we are seeing humanity’s darkest and most evil tendencies being dredged up from the depths of our basest subconscious imaginings and being made into a movie. In other words, our darkest and most evil human instincts are being expertly filmed and acted out by Hollywood’s professional directors, cinematographers, and actors and being presented to society for public consumption.

When creative license is left to its own totally unrestrained devices, this is often the result. In a society where mass shootings happen with disturbing regularity and where the coarsening of our public discourse and behavior continues unabated, making major motion pictures like The Hunt for wide release is, in a psychological sense, akin to dumping a bucket of red meat next to a pasture of sheep in the countryside where wolves are known to prowl. While I’m sure that the filmmakers of The Hunt didn’t make the movie to intentionally incite violence, do they not care about the movie contributing to a coarsening of our culture toward increased hatred and violence? Did they not think of its potential danger to inspire deranged individuals to commit violence and murder?

3 Steps to Take for Believing Viewers

As believers, we should pray often for the filmmaking and television industry, that all filmmakers, actors, and writers be given a basic sense of self-restraint. These people know in their heart of hearts that it is wrong to make movies like The Hunt, but they do it anyways to get a cheap thrill or to concede to financial and societal pressures. We must pray that their consciences guide them to make movies and TV shows that have redeemable value for society.

Second, we must put our resources where our own hearts are by supporting the aspiring artists in our own believing communities to enter the film and television industries and make a difference for true artistry that celebrates the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Third, we must carefully discern which movies we go to see at the theater and which movies and TV shows we choose to watch on platforms like Netflix and Amazon. These companies are carefully analyzing which kinds of movies and shows are the most popular so that they can make more content like them and consequently make more money. Our decisions to only watch movies and shows that have redeemable value are important in showing the industry that people actually want to see movies that have something valuable to say about the human condition instead of being mindlessly entertained by gratuitously graphic garbage.

The Heart of a Father

by Daniel Hart

June 14, 2019

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

When my firstborn son was a few months old, it was clear that he was not gaining weight like he should be from breastfeeding due to an undiagnosed condition. My wife and I felt helpless and were wracked with constant worry. As a father, I felt desperate, and longed to do anything in my power to help my suffering child. By God’s grace, we were eventually able to find the professional help we needed through lactation consultation, and our baby began a healthy weight gain.

I am reminded of this time when reading of desperate fathers in the Gospels who, at their wits end, lay their suffering children at Christ’s feet, begging Him to help them. Although my own experience pales in comparison to the severity of the problems these biblical fathers faced, I can still identify with a father like Jairus frantically elbowing his way through the crowd and throwing himself before Jesus, beseeching Him to help his dying daughter (Mark 5:23-43). Or the father with the demon-possessed son, who kneels before Jesus and implores Him, “Lord, have mercy on my son…” (Matthew 17:15-18).

I can picture the sweat on the brows of these fathers as they strenuously assert themselves for the sake of their children. With all their options exhausted, they make one last ditch attempt—some would have said foolhardy attempt—to save their offspring at the feet of Jesus. How does He respond?

Jesus, in full union with His Father, reveals the true nature of God the Father’s heart in His response: mercy, compassion, and healing. We read that at the moment He speaks the word of healing, the afflicted are indeed healed: “…the boy was cured instantly” (Matthew 17:18); “And immediately the girl got up and walked” (Mark 5:42). What’s more, physical healing is just the beginning of God’s tender care for the welfare of His children.

Caring for Our Children’s Spiritual Welfare

Christ does not stop at mere physical healing; His mercy extends to great concern for our spiritual health as well. When the father of the possessed child pleads with Jesus to heal his son, Christ’s first response is to teach him the power of belief: “All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). And for those who ask for the Spirit, Christ assures us that God cannot help but give more than merely “good” gifts: “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

In the same way, fathers who have a full understanding of love are just as concerned about their children’s spiritual welfare as for their physical health. As I try to teach my 2 ½-year-old son his prayers and speak to him about the love of God, I often find myself wondering about what kind of faith he will have by the time he leaves the house. Becoming a father has given me an expanded appreciation for all those fathers out there who worry about their sons and daughters losing their faith after they have struck out on their own or are in college. While I know it’s second nature for a parent to worry about their children, I also know that all God needs is an open soul, not a wise or mature one—He will fill that openness with His grace.

Indeed, a father’s longing for his children’s physical and spiritual health is an image of the purest longing that God has for us.

We Need a Renewed Emphasis on Fatherly Compassion

Having a father who passed the love of God on to me, and knowing that I will strive to do all I can to pass this faith on to my own children, my heart aches for those who have not had a father in their lives who has shown love to them. I have personally known those who have been deprived of the love of their fathers and have seen the spiritual wounds that this profound absence can cause.

Tragically, there are many in our society who have difficulty relating to God as the merciful and healing Father that He is because of the lack of a loving earthly father in their own lives, whether from outright absence or from emotional/physical neglect or abuse that they experienced from their fathers.

This lamentable state of affairs gives Christian fathers all the more motivation to exemplify and live out the true heart of our heavenly Father. Much has been said and written about how fathers must be strong leaders and firm maintainers of discipline in their families. This is certainly true, but it only tells half the story of the true heart of God the Father, and therefore the heart that all fathers must strive for.

The tender care that Christ manifested through His merciful and healing touch and through beautiful parables like the prodigal son (Luke 15) are stirring examples of what a truly loving father must be: a clear reflection of God the Father’s tenderness, mercy, and compassion—guiding and nurturing his children towards discipleship in God’s kingdom. This requires what may seem on the surface to be a paradox: Fathers must have the manly courage to be vulnerably compassionate with their children in order to more fully exemplify the compassionate love of our heavenly Father.

A Full Heart

One of the first instincts of a father is to provide for the physical needs of his children. This is natural and good—it clearly fits our nature as men. Vulnerability and tender care for the spiritual needs of our children may not come as naturally to us, but it is just as important. In order to impart the full heart of God to our children, we must be willing to stretch ourselves and exemplify both physical and spiritual nourishment to our children, just as our Heavenly Father gives abundantly to all who ask Him (Luke 11:11-13).

This Father’s Day, may we all find true rest and comfort in the healing and merciful embrace of our true Father in heaven, who unreservedly pours out His fatherly mercy, healing power, and grace to all His children each day.

The Christ-like Sacrifice of Motherhood

by Daniel Hart

May 10, 2019

There are many things we can thank our mothers for this Mother’s Day, but there is one aspect of motherhood that is unique and unrivaled in the human experience that deserves special recognition: the bodily sacrifice that mothers make on behalf of us, their children.

This act of self-sacrifice is so profound in its generosity that it mirrors the ultimate sacrifice that any human being can offer: to lay down their lives for another. Therefore, motherhood can be seen as a beautiful imitation of Christ’s bodily sacrifice for us. In Luke 22:19, He stated the nature of this sacrifice plainly: “This is my body, which is given for you.”

We see this play out naturally of its own accord when a woman becomes pregnant. From the moment of conception, her body literally becomes the home of another human being. In accepting this role, a woman gives her body over to make a series of awe-inspiring sacrifices for her child.

During pregnancy, our mothers increase their blood volume by up to 50 percent. They increase their own lifeblood to give us life, reflecting Christ pouring out His own blood to give us eternal life (1 John 1:7).

Our mothers grow an entirely new organ within themselves—the placenta—to provide our developing bodies with oxygen and nutrients to sustain our own growth. This mirrors how God gives us a new heart when we give ourselves to him (Ezekiel 36:26) and how our hearts are reborn in the Spirit through Christ (John 3:3-5).

Most sacrificially of all, our mother’s bodies are permanently changed in a number of ways as a result of gestating and birthing our own bodies. This reflects the permanency of the wounds that Christ suffered during His passion and death when He appeared to Thomas after His resurrection: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (John 20:27).

In these physical ways during pregnancy and birth and in the countless ways that our mothers sacrifice themselves for our sake throughout our lives, motherhood truly is a divine and life-giving calling that reflects the very inner life and heart of God, made manifest through His Son Jesus.

On this Mother’s Day, let us reflect on and thank our mothers for the profound and generous sacrifices they have made for us and continue to make, from the moment of our conception to the present day.

9-Year-Old Reminds Us All of the Power of Prayer

by Daniel Hart

April 24, 2019

Love one another.” (John 13:34)

This pivotal verse from the 13th chapter of John’s gospel is the theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2nd. It is an especially fitting theme at this moment in time in our nation, when our political differences threaten to tear our country apart at the seams. It’s a theme that is the very heart of Christianity, the central commandment that Christ gave to his disciples and followers—to love.

But what is love? In these days of confusion, when many feel entitled to their own truths, it is critical to define our terms. The Christian definition of love is to will the good of the other. This often means that we uphold beliefs that are not only deeply unpopular, but are even considered “hateful” and “bigoted”. Nevertheless, we sincerely believe that true love requires that we uphold them for the ultimate good of everyone. Simply put, if we believe that our beliefs are the Truth, then they are not merely true just for Christians but for all people.

While Christians must be unwavering in our belief of the Truth, we also must be pragmatic and reasonable in our relationships with non-believers and our political opponents. How do we even begin to go about convincing the world of the Truth? The beautiful thing about Christianity is that convincing people through our words and actions is only one tool we have in our arsenal. In the faith life, it quickly becomes clear that successfully evangelizing others is far beyond our own power. In reality, the most effective tool of evangelization is prayer (1 John 5:14). But too often, we Christians de-emphasize prayer in favor of what seems like more direct action, like shouting from the rooftops of social media.

Sometimes it takes the wisdom of children to remind us of the fundamental importance of prayer. Take Jack, a 9-year-old boy from New York. After Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the most extreme state abortion expansion bill in the country in his home state, Jack decided he wanted to do something about it. With the help of his father, he started the website ConvertCuomo, which asks believers to commit to pray for Gov. Cuomo’s conversion by submitting a prayer pledge on the site.

For Jack, who comes from a strong Catholic upbringing, the “ConvertCuomo” project was an especially personal one. Gov. Cuomo, who is himself Catholic, went so far as to order One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit up in pink in order to celebrate his signing into law of the most radical state abortion expansion bill ever to be enacted in the U.S.“My mom and dad told me that he passed this bill and other things and it made me really upset,” Jack said. “So I wanted to think of something to do to stop abortion.”

As Jack recognizes, it is especially important to pray for those in authority like Gov. Cuomo who claim to be Catholic yet strongly support policies that his own faith teaches is a “grave offense” against moral law.

I pray two Our Fathers for Governor Cuomo every day,” Jack says, “sometimes three.”

Jack is keying in on an important truth for believers. If we want our political opponents and non-believers to have personal conversions of heart, praying for their conversion is the most loving thing we can do for them.

Let us join Jack’s prayer initiative and take up the vital task of loving one another through prayer.

Social Conservative Review - April 3, 2019

by Daniel Hart

April 3, 2019

Dear Friends,

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

This concise and amusing quote is a wonderful reminder of the state we find ourselves in when we wake up every morning: another chance at a do-over—an opportunity to do more good than we were able to do the day before. It’s also a great theme to begin this new season of spring, a time when God is renewing his Creation with fresh growth.

It’s a time when God seems to be asking us: Will you try to make the same effort I am making when I give you a new day and a new season? Even though My Way is difficult, will you show Me your love by trying Christianity anew?

For believers, God’s invitation to Himself never grows old, and it’s always beautifully refreshing, just like the budding of a spring flower. We know that every time we go to Him through prayer and good deeds, the thirst in our souls is quenched once again, just as it always is when we are feeling spiritually parched.

As Chesterton observed, though, this is difficult to put into practice. Our fallen human natures gnash their teeth against the pleading of our consciences. The darkness we see in our culture and the world today paints a stark portrait of a collective disregard and dismissal of the challenge of Christianity. The easiness of short-term pleasures and self-centered tendencies rule the day, leaving in its wake a noxious mix of rising anxiety, depression, and suicide.

In this new season, let us once again take up the difficult task of trying our Faith. For we know that by entering through the narrow gate instead of the wide one (Matthew 7:13), we will find true peace, consolation, and forgiveness from the one true Source of all Goodness, and the courage to spread this Truth to a world in desperate need of it.

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 Media

Issue Analysis: Evidence Shows Sexual Orientation Can Change: Debunking the Myth of “Immutability” – Peter Sprigg

Speaker Series: The Natural Law: What it is and Why it Still Matters to Policymaking – Professor R.J. Snell

Fight Over Infanticide Is Just Beginning – Tony Perkins

The Church in a Culture of Conflict – Tony Perkins

Shall we finally end birth day abortions? – Patrina Mosley

Gender X’ wages war on reality – Pete Sprigg

Let’s Celebrate the ‘Love Chromosome’ On World Down Syndrome Day – Patrina Mosley

Can a New Establishment Clause Jurisprudence Succeed in Protecting Religious Minorities Where Lemon Has Failed? – Alexandra McPhee

Crosses in Need of a Lucky Clover (or a Good Supreme Court Decision) – Alexandra McPhee

Biden, Pence and the Left’s ‘Decency’ Standard – David Closson

Consumers Beware: PayPal has weaponized financial system with its ties to SPLC – Tony Perkins

Should the Peace Cross even be before the Supreme Court? – Alexandra McPhee

Are walls ‘an immorality?’ Not according to the Bible – Chris Gacek

Book Review: Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination – David Closson

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Just the Facts – Patrina Mosley and Connor Semelsberger

Half of Americans Don’t Fully Know What Their First Amendment Freedoms Are – Alexandra McPhee

FDA Orders Abortions by Mail to Cease – Patrina Mosley

Basic Human Decency Starts with Protecting Babies on Their Birthday – Caleb Seals

Women Naturally Embrace Motherhood, And That’s Just Fine – Alyson Gritter

What the Rise of the “Anti-Hero” in Entertainment Says About Our Culture – Kim Lilienthal

Women: Achieving Balance from the One Who Gives Us Worth – Patrina Mosley

The Art of Disagreement – Travis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Equality Act Accelerates Anti-Christian Bias – Andrew T. Walker, The Gospel Coalition

Judeo-Christian Group Sues Michigan for ‘Orwellian’ Witch Hunt Based on SPLC Labels – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Confessions of a Hater – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Feds side with church in lawsuit against St. Ignace – Melissa Nann Burke, USA Today

Black Christian Disinvited from Cornell Debate Because She Believes in Traditional Marriage – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Yale Law School Yanks Stipends From Students Who Work For Christian Firms – Aaron Haviland, The Federalist

International Religious Freedom

11 Christians Killed Every Day for Their Decision To Follow Jesus – Lindy Lowry, Open Doors USA

India: Evangelical network reports increase of Christian persecution in 2019 – Samuel Smith, The Christian Post

Christchurch shootings: 49 dead in New Zealand mosque attacks – BBC

Christians in Kazakhstan Fined for Praying Without Permission – Steve Warren, CBN News

Taiwan to donate US$1 million to U.S. Religious Freedom Fund – Focus Taiwan

This Chinese Christian Was Charged With Trying to Subvert the State – Ian Johnson, The New York Times

Military Religious Freedom

Religious Liberty Law Firm to New Hampshire VA Hospital: You’re Right, the Bible Donated by WWII Vet/POW Can Stay – First Liberty Institute

 

Life

Abortion

Why your church needs to welcome post-abortive women – Joane Wrenn with Mamie Edmonston, Care Net

Alabama judge allows teen to sue on behalf of aborted fetus – Caleb Parke, Fox News

The Reason Democrats Voted Against Care For Babies Who Survive Abortion Is Worse Than You Think – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

New Mexico Defeats Radical Bill to Legalize Abortions Up to Birth – Micaiah Bilger, LifeNews

CA Democrat Pushes Plan that Could Put Planned Parenthood’s Number on Every Student ID – Christian Ellis, CBN News

How The Obama Presidency Normalized Abortion Extremism – David Harsanyi, The Federalist

NBC’s This is Us Airs Incredible Pro-Life Episode – Heather Creekmore, Care Net

Adoption

Adoption perspectives: A birth mom, adoptive mom, and daughter share their story – Lindsay Nicolet and Brittany Salmon, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Bioethics

Alzheimer’s, human dignity, and church that’s truly pro-life – Todd E. Brady, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Experts gather in Rome to fight ‘barbaric’ use of aborted babies in vaccines – Diane Montagna, LifeSiteNews

How Assisted Suicide Creates A Cascade Of Death After It Becomes Legal – Georgi Boorman, The Federalist

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy: ‘I Look Forward to Signing’ Assisted Suicide Bill – Susan Berry, Breitbart

 

Family

Marriage

How to Overcome In-Law Problems – Deb DeArmond, Focus on the Family

When Religious Couples Pray – Mark H. Butler and Hannah R. Herring, Family Studies

Parenting

Maintaining Your Marriage During the Parenting Years – Arlene Pellicane, Focus on the Family

We Were Parents – Nathanael Blake, Public Discourse

Economics/Education

Podcast: Why nonworking men are unhappiest in America – Carol Graham and Fred Dews, Brookings Institution

Girls Have Always Been Better at School. Now It Matters More. – Justin Fox, Bloomberg

New Moms Don’t Need Day Care, They Need Flexible Employers – Margot Cleveland, The Federalist

Toddlers and Seniors Together: The Benefits of Intergenerational Care – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

Ivy-League Schools Wither – Victor Davis Hanson, National Review

There’s Rampant Academic Fraud – Walter E. Williams, The Daily Signal

Trump set to sign executive order on campus free speech – Michael Stratford, Politico

Faith/Character/Culture

What Makes for a Spiritually Vibrant Household? – Barna

Dear David Frum: U.S. Population Growth Is Not A Problem, It’s A Solution – Lyman Stone, The Federalist

YouTube Revolution – John Waters, First Things

The Mental Health Crisis Among America’s Youth is Real—and Staggering – Jean Twenge, Family Studies

Female Athletes Fear Criticizing Trans Women in Sports Because ‘It’s Not PC,’ Olympian Says – Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media

Christians Need to Recover Fasting – Dcn. David Stavarz, Word on Fire

The Meaning of Meaninglessness – Scott Beauchamp, Public Discourse

An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge – Rosalind Picard, Christianity Today

Human Sexuality

I Was America’s First ‘Nonbinary’ Person. It Was All a Sham. – Jamie Shupe, The Daily Signal

Trans Men Erase Women – Charlotte Allen, First Things

Equality Act’ would turn back the clock for women – Kristen Waggoner, The Hill

Trans Through A Teacher’s Eyes – Rod Dreyer, The American Conservative

Teachers’ Union President, Transgender Advocate Push LGBTQ Agenda on Kindergartners – Susan Berry, Breitbart

Hispanic Parents Face Condescension, Spite As They Fight California’s New Sex Ed Curriculum – Kira Davis, Townhall

Human Trafficking

How Sex Traffickers Use Social Media To Contact, Recruit, And Sell Children For Sex – Fight the New Drug

Pornography

Humanly Speaking: Aristotle, the First Amendment, and the Jurisprudence of Pornography – Adam M. Carrington, Public Discourse

It’s What He Does Online That Matters Most: Gaming, Porn, and Relationship Quality – Jeffrey Dew, Family Studies

What Can Drug-Addicted Doctors Teach Porn-Addicted Pastors? – John Doyel, Christianity Today

Social Conservative Review - March 1, 2019

by Daniel Hart

March 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

Sometimes, in the course of our lives, we have to draw a line. For us here at FRC and for millions of people across the country, one of those times happens to be now.

As I’m sure you are aware, the U.S. Senate recently voted down a measure that would have introduced criminal penalties for letting a baby that has already been born after a botched abortion die. Yes, you read that right. There are currently no laws in our country that make it a criminal offense to commit infanticide after a botched abortion. Since 2002, the CDC has reported that a baby has been born after a failed abortion at least 143 times, and this number is almost certainly a vast underestimate because this data was only gathered from a handful of states that allowed the data to be gathered in the first place. 

Let’s contemplate this just for a moment: 143 baby boys and girls, squirming and crying for the tiniest bit of human compassion, left to die cold and alone in a storage closet.

As a country, we now find ourselves at a red line. Will we allow infanticide to continue unpunished, or will we make it a crime? For us here at FRC, we are drawing this red line. We will not let this issue slide. We are making it clear that we as a human race must, at the barest of minimums, care for a baby that has just been born. It’s almost unthinkable that we even have to take this stand, but we do.

So what are we going to do? First, we are going to make it clear to Congress what they are actually doing by not voting the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act into law. They are robbing brand-new babies of their very lives by not keeping them warm and feeding them. Therefore, we have started the End Birth Day Abortion campaign. With your help, we will send thousands and thousands of baby hats to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to show her that all babies deserve to be given a hat to keep them warm and a life to live.

This campaign is just the beginning of FRC’s efforts to see that all infanticide is made illegal. Let us pray for and continue to work for a culture that sees every human life in the same way that our Creator does: intrinsically worthwhile, unique, irreplaceable, and infinitely lovable, from conception to natural death.

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 Media

FRC Speaker Series: How Members of Congress are Standing up to the Radical Abortion Agenda – Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.)

Avoid the ‘Twinkie diet’ in your prayer life: Do THIS to help you deal with depressing news headlines – Tony Perkins

Northam’s Real Offense to African-Americans – Patrina Mosley

Of Crosses and Totem Poles – Alexandra McPhee

Boys Competing Against Girls Steal Another Win – Cathy Ruse

The Influence of Social Media on Politics – Peyton Holliday

Education Reform: 6 Ways to Help Students Flourish – Zachary Rogers

3 Arguments Pro-Lifers Must Make in Standing for Life in 2019 – Hugh Phillips

Fighting Religious Persecution with Mustard Seeds – Caleb Seals

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

Why Religious Freedom Matters – Alan Sears, Townhall

Supreme Court to hear First Amendment case over cross memorial – Clyde Hughes, UPI

Covington High student’s legal team sues Washington Post – Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News

A Concentrated Effort’: GOP Rep Says Some Dems Trying to Strike ‘So Help Me God’ From Committee Oaths – Fox News

International Religious Freedom

Tiny Kaifeng Jewish Community Faces Orwellian Future – Lela Gilbert, The Jerusalem Post

Syrian Christians: Survivors in a great war – Mindy Belz, WORLD

No one is telling me when I can leave’, Asia Bibi speaks from protective custody – Alex Williams, Premier

In Cuba, Church Leaders Report Communist Intimidation Ahead of Vote on New Constitution – Patrick Goodenough, CNS News

Brownback says Pakistan willing to improve religious freedom record – Herald Malaysia

3 ways to pray for Haiti – Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Military Religious Freedom

Bible at center of dispute over display at Manchester VA Medical Center – Andy Hershberger, WMUR9

 

Life

Abortion

How Is Abortion After Birth Not News? – L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, CNS News

New poll finds “dramatic shift” on abortion attitudes – Alayna Treene, Axios

Planned Parenthood Operates Over Half of U.S. Abortion Clinics – Emily Ward, CNS News

Abortion: A Biblical, Biological, and Philosophical Refutation – Matt Dawson, Answers in Genesis

Leading Public-Health Groups Oppose Ban on Infanticide – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Most of the Planned Parenthood Officials Caught in CMP Videos have Since Resigned – Joshua Denton, California Family Council

Undercover Video of Abortion Clinic Destroys Claim That Late-Term Abortions Are Medically Necessary – Emily Jones, CBN News

Tim Kaine Suggests He’ll Oppose Ban on Infanticide – Alexandra DeSanctis, National Review

Dems are so attached to abortion, they can’t see that voters don’t want what they’re selling – Laura Ingraham, Fox News

Adoption

Christian adoption agency fights New York’s ultimatum to accept LGBTQ doctrine or close its doors – Martin M. Barillas, LifeSiteNews

Kinston teen businessman selling t-shirts to support adoption – WITN

 

Family

Marriage

Millennial Couples Are Trending Away from This Thing That’s Good for Your Marriage – Kelsey T. Chun, Verily

What Advice Would You Give Newly Married John Piper? – John Piper, Desiring God

Dear Husband, Our Marriage Wins When We Face Our Life Together – Samantha Krieger, HerViewFromHome

Parenting

The Left’s Literal Nanny State – Heather Wilhelm, National Review

Are Sundays Good for Babies? – Megan Hill, The Gospel Coalition

How to teach your children to handle peer pressure – Joe Carter, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Economics/Education

Future of homeschooling: Less religious, more regulated? – Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post

New Research: Women Earn Less Not Because Of Sexism, But Because They Prefer To Raise Their Own Kids – Lyman Stone, The Federalist

Elizabeth Warren’s Misguided Child-Care Plan – Carrie Lukas, National Review

Federal Early Childhood Education, Care Don’t Benefit Kids. Here Are the Facts. – Lindsey Burke, The Daily Signal

State lawmakers target homeschoolers for intrusive in-house visits without cause – Lisa Bourne, LifeSiteNews

Drug Use on College Campuses Today – Walter Keenan and David Cohen, InpatientDrugRehab.org

Harrison Ford’s Climate Horror Story – L. Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, CNS News

Faith/Character/Culture

Research Reveals ‘Belonging to a Church Is a Crucial Element’ for Longer and Happier Lives – Christian Ellis, CBN News

The Theme That Pervades Our Top 40 Hits – Alexandra Davis, Verily

Avoiding Difficult People Is Not Christlike Love – Maria Baer, The Gospel Coalition

Courteous but Cowardly: Today’s Tolerant Atheism – Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., Public Discourse

Most U.S. Teens See Anxiety and Depression as a Major Problem Among Their Peers – Juliana Menasce Horowitz and Nikki Graf, Pew Research Center

Make ‘Christian’ Engagement with the Arts More … Christian – Brett McCracken, The Gospel Coalition

Stephen Hawking’s Accidental Apologetic – Bill Brown, BreakPoint

Human Sexuality

Four Ways to Fight Sexual Sin – Sam Allberry, Desiring God

Are We All “Cat Persons” Now? How Modern Dating Destroys Intimacy – Nathan Schlueter and Elizabeth Schlueter, Public Discourse

Relentless mom overthrows LGBT agenda at her kids’ schoolLifeSiteNews

Female High Schooler Speaks Out After Losing Championship To Two Transgender Sprinters – Amanda Prestigiacomo, The Daily Wire

Pornography

How We Finally Won the Battle Against Pornography – Michelle Stumbo, Focus on the Family

Sex is not the problem, THIS is: How to avoid the dangerous road of addiction – Paul David Tripp, Fox News

Social Conservative Review - February 15, 2019

by Daniel Hart

February 15, 2019

Dear Friends,

In recent weeks, as the Democratic Party further entrenches itself in the support of late-term abortion to the point of infanticide, I have often found myself feeling angry and disgusted toward these elected officials who seem so lacking in basic human decency. (If these politicians were standing in the room where a late-term abortion was taking place or where a baby was literally born alive after a failed abortion, would they still hold the same view? One has to wonder…)

During such highly-charged emotional times in public life that we are currently in, I’ve found it very easy to demonize and dehumanize these pro-abortion elected officials in my own mind. We human beings have a tendency to condemn without a second thought, and condemnation can quickly become personal. You’ve probably heard it many times before, but it bears repeating: we must condemn actions, not people. But there’s something else we must do as pro-life Christians that goes beyond condemnation of actions, and it’s more important: prayer. Our Savior Himself commanded it: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Are we praying every day for Andrew Cuomo, for Ralph Northam, for Nancy Pelosi, for Chuck Schumer, for all other elected officials who publicly support abortion, that they will have a change of heart? As Christians, prayer must be our very first impulse whenever we face any kind of challenge, or before we do anything at all, for that matter (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we feel powerless to affect change for good, prayer gives us peace of mind to know that we are doing something. For we know that God listens to and answers our prayers (1 Peter 3:12).

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 Media

Issue Brief: Rebels Without a Clause: When Senators Run Roughshod Over the “No Religious Test” Clause of the U.S. Constitution – Alexandra McPhee

Issue Analysis: Department of Defense on Why Those with “Gender Dysphoria” Are Disqualified from Military Service – Peter Sprigg

A Christian War Memorial in No Way Violates the Establishment Clause – Alexandra McPhee

When Free Exercise Comes at a Price – Alexandra McPhee

What a Title IX Proposal Means for Religious Liberty – Alexandra McPhee

Democratic Congresswoman Condemns Religious Bigotry, Standing up to Her Party in a Rare Act of Courage – David Closson

Chris Pratt’s Bible-inspired diet highlights a discipline from a spiritual dimension – Tony Perkins

New York and Planned Parenthood, a eugenic match made in Heaven – Patrina Mosley

The Conscience of A Nation: Defeating Democrat Extremism – Ken Blackwell

Targeting of Karen Pence is wake-up call to all Christians – Travis Weber

FRC Speaker Series: Religious Freedom, Trade Talks, and China

FRC Speaker Series: Should We Pull Our Kids Out of Public School?

FRC Speaker Series: The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives – Jennifer Roback Morse

Party of “Tolerance” is Intolerant to American’s Views on Late-Term Abortion – Patrina Mosley

3 Things to Remember About the Importance of Marriage This Valentine’s Day – Hugh Phillips

Will Women’s Restrooms Be Ruled Obsolete? – Peter Sprigg

Contributors to Sexual Exploitation are Called Out – Patrina Mosley

Return to the Constitution: Judicial Activism or Originalism? – Zachary Rogers

The Cost of Sending Your Kids to Public School Just Might Be Their Souls – Cathy Ruse

10 Nominees Have Faced Unconstitutional Religious Tests in Less Than 2 Years – Alexandra McPhee

Marriage Gives Love a Canvas to Paint On – Dan Hart

President Trump’s Pro-Life Proclamation – David Closson

The Pro-Infanticide Party – David Closson

Hotel Trans: Check In Any Time, But Never Leave – Cathy Ruse

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

The Ever-Present Totalitarian Temptation – George Weigel, First Things

Vermont discriminates against students of religious high schools, lawsuit claims – Jess Aloe, Burlington Free Press

Jewish Therapist Sues New York City Over Law Banning Faith-Based LGBT Counseling – Joshua Nelson, The Daily Signal

Judge says Tampa ban on conversion therapy may violate therapists’ free speech rights – Avery Anapol, The Hill

International Religious Freedom

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Dismisses Challenge to Asia Bibi Blasphemy Acquittal – Hannah Brockhaus, National Catholic Register

Asia Bibi stuck in Pakistan, frustrated and afraid amid threats – Brandon Showalter, The Christian Post

Philippine Church Bombing Kills 20 After Vote for Muslim Governance – Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today

N. Korean Christians keep faith underground amid crackdowns – Hyung-Jin Kim, AP

Military Religious Freedom

Americans Tell Atheists: Keep Your Hands Off Our War Memorials – ToddStarnes.com

 

Life

Abortion

OB/GYNs, Nurses Speak Out Against NY Abortion Law: It Is Never Necessary to Kill Baby for Health, Life of Mother – Heather Clark, Christian News

Planned Parenthood Made $245 Million Last Year Killing Babies in Abortions – Lauretta Brown, LifeNews

Vermont Abortion Bill Goes Further than Virginia and New York’s – Wesley J. Smith, National Review

New York, Abortion, and a Short Route to Chaos – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on Fire

Bookstore Owner Makes Viral Statement About New York Abortion Law – Mary Margaret Olohan, The Daily Caller

Infanticide Becomes Justifiable – Wesley J. Smith, First Things

Abortion’s Devastating Impact Upon Black Americans – Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

Adoption

Mothers Are Killing Babies Who Could Fill The Empty Arms Of Millions Of Loving Couples – Adam Mill, The Federalist

 

Family

Marriage

How Can Marriage Be Good for Mental Health? – David Levine, U.S. News & World Report

Giving Up Good Things for the Best Things in Marriage – Selena Frederick, Focus on the Family

Resources for Building a Marriage that Lasts – Alysse ElHage, Family Studies

How We Saved Our Marriage in the Final HourHer View From Home

A Finance Guide for Married Couples – Phillip Holmes, The Gospel Coalition

Don’t Put Your Hope in Date Night – Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler, The Gospel Coalition

More Tips to Promote a Strong Marriage – Jim Graves, National Catholic Register

My Husband Isn’t Romantic, But He’s Still Mr. Right – Jenny Albers, Her View From Home

Parenting

Dad—A Girl’s First and Most Influential Love – Timothy Rarick, Family Studies

Parental Involvement: How Much Is Too Much? – Child Trends

What It’s Like When the Kids Grow Up: A Conversation Between Two Moms – Carolyn Lankford and Anna Meade Harris, rooted

Webinar: The Unique Contributions Of Fathers To Their Children’s Development – Institute for Research on Poverty

Economics/Education

Despite Government Shutdown, Job Growth Soars in January – Timothy Doescher, The Daily Signal

The “Green New Deal” Would Only Crush People’s Spirit – Rob Schwarzwalder, The Stream

Faith/Character/Culture

Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence – Alex Berenson, Imprimis

The Internet and Satan’s Game – Bishop Robert Barron, Word on Fire

You Don’t Have to Have a Well-Formed Opinion on Everything – Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

Psychology as Indoctrination: Girls Rule, Boys Drool? – Leonard Sax, Family Studies

Are Smartphones and Social Media Hurting Our Kids? – Charles Fain Lehman, Family Studies

A Different Kind of Love – Nancy Flory, The Stream

Human Sexuality

The Left is Shunning Liberals With Concerns About Transgender Agenda – Ryan Anderson, The Stream

Pressure to conform – Jamie Dean, WORLD

True love waits: Suggestions for a more holistic purity culture – Alex Ward, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Cohabitation Doesn’t Compare: Marriage, Cohabitation, and Relationship Quality – W. Bradford Wilcox, Family Studies

6 ways pastors can care for victims of sexual abuse – Trillia Newbell, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Human Trafficking

How to Spot Sex Trafficking; Super Bowl Sunday and Beyond – Tiffany Powell, National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Nevada Has the Highest Rates of an Illegal Sex Trade in the Nation – National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Pornography

What kids aren’t telling parents about porn on social media – Gail Dines, The Boston Globe

Seeing is (Not) Believing: How Viewing Pornography Shapes the Religious Lives of Young Americans – Samuel L. Perry and George M. Hayward, Social Forces

Want To Connect More Deeply With Other People? Consider Quitting Porn – Fight the New Drug

Marriage Gives Love a Canvas to Paint On

by Daniel Hart

February 8, 2019

This week is National Marriage Week, so it’s a great time to reflect on the beauty and fundamental importance of marriage.

Over the last few decades, a plethora of social science has come out about how marriage is highly beneficial for the health and well-being of men, women, children, and society in almost every way.

Whether our culture admits it or not, all of these studies merely confirm what we already know deep down to be true. All of us are born with an innate intuition that there is something primal and essential about marriage that goes to the core of who we are as human beings. Even liberal Hollywood stars have an instinctive sense that there is something distinctive and vital about marriage. Liam Hemsworth, who recently married Miley Cyrus after a 10-year on-and-off again relationship, observed: “We’ve been together for a long time and it felt like it was the right time to do it…Not much about the relationship changes [after marriage], but you kind of have… the husband and wife thing, it’s great. I’m loving it.”

Children do too. When a child grows up with a single parent, there will inevitably be a day when that child asks of their own accord, “Where is my Dad?” or “Where is my Mom?” This primordial question about our origins points directly toward what marriage is: the binding, natural, covenantal vow that our Creator designed to keep men and women, mothers and fathers—and therefore society itself—bonded together. When something is missing from this bond, we know it to our core, even as children.

Sadly, the influence of culture has caused many to ignore their intuition, and as a result, marriage is now widely seen as at worst constraining and at best optional. Many now ask, “Why should I bother to get married?” The cultural ubiquity and acceptance of cohabitation, contraception, and divorce has made marriage seem irrelevant in the minds of many.

There’s one simple answer to this question: love. We were created by Love itself (1 John 4:9), we came into the world through an act of love, and our purpose as human beings is to love. Simply put, marriage gives our capacity for love a canvas to paint on, a canvas that is formed by the vow that we make to our beloved. Day in and day out, that canvas is right there in front of us—our spouses and our children—waiting to be loved. And as the years stretch on and we recommit ourselves to our vow on a daily basis, God continually infuses us with His grace, stretching that canvas ever larger and our hearts ever wider, making all things new with each sunrise.

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