Author archives: David Closson

Unconscionable: New Bill Proves Democrats Are Okay With Abortion Up Until Birth

by David Closson

September 28, 2021

Hyperbole is common stock and trade in the world of politics. Legislators from both parties cry foul and feign outrage over each other’s policies and proposals so routinely that it is difficult to know when a bill or law is actually deserving of such strong criticism. However, on Friday, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives passed an abortion expansion bill that deserves the full attention of the American people. This bill is so morally bankrupt that the hackneyed terms used to express political outrage, such as “extreme” and “radical,” fail to capture the gravity of the bill’s implications.

The deceptively titled Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755) would eliminate almost every state-level restriction on abortion and codify Roe v. Wade into law. Additionally, the bill would weaken conscience protections for medical professionals, jeopardize prohibitions on taxpayer funding for abortion, enshrine late-term abortion into law, strike down commonsense pro-life laws, and equate the death of unborn children with routine medical procedures. The bill passed 218-211 with Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas as the lone Democrat joining every Republican in voting “no.”

People from all points of the political spectrum could agree that H.R. 3755 is too extreme because it ignores the will of the American people and runs roughshod over many commonsense precautions meant to protect the health of women seeking abortions.

Before looking at the specifics of the bill, it is worth noting that the United States is already outside the mainstream when it comes to abortion. Currently, the U.S. is one of seven nations (including China and North Korea) that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, it is worth considering that 65 percent of Americans think states should have the power to make their own abortion laws, and 80 percent say abortion should be illegal in the third trimester, according to recent polling. House Democrats ignored all these factors and proceeded to pass a “women’s health” bill that could be more aptly named the “Abortion on Demand Act.”

What’s in the Bill?

The stated purpose of H.R. 3755 is to “permit health care providers to provide abortion services without limitations or requirements that single out the provision of abortion services.” According to the bill, a law or statute that “impedes access to abortion services” cannot stand. Thus, if H.R. 3755 were to become federal law, state laws requiring informed consent, waiting periods, or counseling prior to receiving an abortion would be overturned.

Significantly, H.R. 3755 places a prohibition on limiting abortion at any point prior to fetal viability (typically 24 weeks). This provision would invalidate laws like Texas’ Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed to stand. Although H.R. 3755 uses the language of viability, it does not define it, meaning abortionists are empowered to make the ultimate determination (see Section 3(7)).

Perhaps one of the most notable provisions of H.R. 3755 is a post-viability health clause. If in the “good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health,” abortion is allowed. Notably, “health” and “risk” are not defined in the bill. Because the bill directs courts to “liberally construe” the bill to “effectuate the purposes of the Act,” the health exemption could allow for a broad interpretation that could include mental or emotional health. The practical effect of the health provision is enshrining abortion until birth into federal law.

Additionally, H.R. 3755 blocks laws that prevent “abortion services via telemedicine,” meaning mail-order chemical abortion pills would be legal and could become widespread. Removing the requirement for in-person interaction with a medical professional in order to be prescribed abortion pills would further isolate victims of sexual abuse and sex trafficking from those trained to identify and help them. Furthermore, the bill prohibits states from restricting “a particular abortion procedure,” meaning dismemberment abortions that cause fetal pain and other procedures would be legal.

The Real “Misogyny” of Abortion – The Death of Baby Girls

Finally, there is an intrinsic falsehood in the messaging of H.R. 3755, the most aggressive abortion bill in American history. Although it is titled the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” the bill does nothing to protect women’s health. Despite a promise earlier this year to “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familiar relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral,” Democrats re-discovered the term “women” just in time to pass this bill. However, in a nod to their commitment to “intersectionality,” they couldn’t resist slipping in a sort of apology for even using the term “women.” Section 2 (a)(8) notes:

The terms ‘‘woman’’ and ‘‘women’’ are used in this bill to reflect the identity of the majority of people targeted and affected by restrictions on abortion services, and to address squarely the targeted restrictions on abortion, which are rooted in misogyny. However, access to abortion services is critical to the health of every person capable of becoming pregnant. This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others—who are unjustly harmed by restrictions on abortion services.

Putting aside the tortured logic that “every person capable of becoming pregnant” is protected by the bill, it is the height of absurdity to claim that restrictions on abortion are rooted in “misogyny.” Commonsense restrictions on abortion could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of baby girls each year, some of whom are aborted on the basis of their sex or for other discriminatory reasons. But H.R. 3755 (in section 4 (a)(11)) strikes down laws that would prohibit abortion acquired on the basis of the baby’s sex. Sex-selection abortion disproportionately affects girls around the world, so claims that abortion restrictions are rooted in misogyny are preposterous.

Pray for the Senate Vote

In section 2, the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act states, “Abortion is essential health care and one of the safest medical procedures in the United States.” This is a morally indefensible statement. Abortion is not health care; it is the intentional killing of an unborn child. Abortion is not safe for the babies who are killed or the mothers who undergo abortion procedures and have to live with the physical and emotional scars, not to mention the mothers who die due to abortion complications. As the nation anticipates the upcoming Senate vote, those who recognize the sanctity of human life must pray for justice and morally upright thinking for the senators who hold the fate of the unborn in their hands.

How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

by David Closson

September 27, 2021

After months of promising that his administration would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden has changed course. Earlier this month, the president issued an executive order requiring millions of federal employees to either get the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. Shortly after the executive order, the president handed down another mandate, requiring all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate their workers be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. The new regulation is supposed to be drafted and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Understandably, many Americans are frustrated by the president’s about-face on mandating vaccines. Vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans alike are concerned about what kind of precedent such a sweeping executive order could set. Those who do not want a COVID-19 vaccine are concerned about how the mandate will personally affect them. As I explained in a previous article, there are serious legal, constitutional, moral, and conscience concerns related to the president’s vaccine mandate. Thus, it is no surprise that many people are asking about exemptions.

Ever since the president’s announcement, the question of religious exemptions has been the subject of a lot of discussion, especially within churches and the Christian community. If there are no clear biblical admonitions against receiving a vaccine, are there any grounds for a religious exemption?

On the legality of such requests, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an influential Christian legal non-profit that defends religious freedom in the courts, provides the following advice

You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural, or political, but not religious, concerns. Many people have medical or other concerns which do not rise to the level of an actual religious belief. A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.

As ADF points out, many objections to vaccines are not religious in nature. Many Christians objecting to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are doing so based on medical, personal, or political concerns. But there is another category of objections—“conscience objections”—which are related to religious objections. Like religious beliefs, conscience claims are deeply personal and connected to the core of a person. Christians believe our conscience is a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. One of the roles of our conscience is to convict us when we do something wrong. Our sense of guilt or shame following a wrong action comes from our conscience.

Christians believe that willfully acting against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems relevant when the action involves something as personal as injecting a vaccine into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). Believers are called to be stewards of their bodies, and this stewardship should be exercised in line with one’s conscience.

These reflections are important when considering the propriety of requesting a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate. Nothing in the Bible forbids Christians from getting vaccinated. Yet others in the Christian community will object to getting vaccinated—whether on conscience, religious, or other grounds. Because Christians believe it is sinful to do anything that goes against one’s conscience and it is wrong to force anyone to do what they think is morally wrong, it is appropriate to respect and accommodate those who have legitimate, morally informed reasons for requesting an exemption.

Finally, those seeking an exemption would do well to examine their hearts and motivations for seeking an exemption. As Christians, our actions should be carried out in faith and with a clear conscience. Additionally, pastors should consider only submitting vaccine exemption requests on behalf of members of their congregation. This provides a level of accountability to the process and keeps insincere appeals and possible abuse in check.

Keeping these principles in mind, what follows is an example letter that can be submitted by one’s pastor as part of a request for an exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Those consulting this model letter should feel free to modify it to ensure it accurately reflects the sincerely-held beliefs of the individual requesting the exemption. Please also be aware that such a letter from one’s pastor is not legally required to initiate a request for a religious exemption but can nevertheless be submitted by those who wish to do so.

Example Letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of [Church Member] as [he/she] is requesting to be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine mandated by [his/her] employer. After this mandate was announced, [Church Member] requested to meet with me and discuss how [he/she] should respond as a committed Christian and member of [Name of Church].

It is true that, thus far, Christians have come to varying conclusions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, with many deciding to take it while others have not. Although Christians haven’t all come to the same conclusion about the vaccine, what they all share is a biblically informed belief that every single person is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Part of being created in God’s image is to be endowed with a conscience, a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. A role of our conscience is to convict us when we do something wrong. Our conscience inflicts distress, in the form of remorse, whenever we violate what we believe is a morally appropriate course of action.

Significantly, Christians believe that to willfully act against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems especially pertinent when the action involves something as personal as injecting something into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). In other words, Christians believe it is sinful to do something that goes against their conscience and therefore morally wrong to force anyone to do something against their conscience. Christians believe sincere conscience objections should be respected and that no one should be forced to do something they believe is morally impermissible.

[Church Member’s] request for a religious conscience exemption to the COVD-19 vaccine is influenced by the church’s historic teaching on abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of unborn children in the womb). Fetal cell lines were used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and fetal cell lines were used in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Passages from the Bible—including Exodus 21:22-25, Psalm 51:5-6; 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5, and Luke 1:39-45—affirm the personhood of the unborn. [Church Member] believes in the sanctity of the unborn and that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine would be a violation of [his/her] conscience, which prohibits [him/her] from even a remote complicity with the sin of abortion.

I can affirm that [Church Member] is acting in accordance with [his/her] sincerely-held religious beliefs in requesting a religious exemption. As [Church Member’s] pastor, I affirm that I have spoken with and prayed with [Church Member] about [his/her] request for an exemption. I can affirm that [he/she] is simply trying to follow [his/her] conscience. Therefore, during these difficult times, I prayerfully request that [Church Member’s] employer honors and respects [his/her] request for a religious exemption, just as I hope it would honor the beliefs of its other employees of faith who conscientiously object to receiving the vaccine.

Sincerely,

[Pastor’s Name]

[Church Name]

For further information on exemption requests and information on legal assistance, visit PrayVoteStand.org/vaccine.

How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

by David Closson

September 20, 2021

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced new executive action concerning COVID-19 vaccines. According to the president’s plan, all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. The new mandate follows a recent mandate that all federal employees receive the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. The new regulation is supposed to be drafted and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (although some think this is without legal authority). Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

How should Christians respond to President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate? Specifically, how should Christians think about religious exemptions and accommodations? Admittedly, these are complex questions on which many biblically grounded Christians differ. But given the scope and far-reaching consequences for civil liberties, conscience rights, religious freedom, and the ability of families to make health decisions, these questions deserve careful consideration and reflection.

Legal Concerns

First, there are serious concerns that President Biden’s vaccine mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. No federal statute or constitutional provision expressly gives the president the authority to impose a sweeping vaccine mandate on private businesses and their employees in this manner, and the Biden administration has an extremely questionable reading of the statute they claim gives him this authority. Some states have already threatened to sue.

At the very least, Christians should be aware of the legal and constitutional concerns related to the president’s order. Once the new rule goes into effect, the mandate might not withstand the likely barrage of lawsuits challenging its legality.

Role of Government

Second, questions about the legality and constitutionality of President Biden’s vaccine mandate should prompt Christians to think about the proper role of government. The Bible teaches that government has been ordained by God. According to Paul, “Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom. 13:2, ESV). In the United States, the primary governing authority is the U.S. Constitution. This means that when a president or any government official pursues a policy that oversteps their prescribed realm of authority, they are acting unlawfully. Of course, when our elected officials issue directives within their rightful scope of authority, Christians are bound to comply, so long as obeying does not require us to sin against God, a Christian’s highest authority (Acts 5:29).  

But do we have an obligation to automatically and always obey the government? Similarly, how should Christians respond if a mandate or law is not illegal, but they personally don’t like the law or find it inconvenient? For example, what’s the proper Christian response if the government were to mandate a weekly exercise routine or require its citizens to wear pink hats on Thursday?  On these questions, Christians should be humble and willing to learn from one another. We should also endeavor to think biblically about the role and purpose of government. 

One helpful way to think biblically about the role of government is through the concept of sphere sovereignty, a philosophy of society developed by Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). According to Kuyper, life is divided into distinct, autonomous jurisdictions such as the state, family, church, and the individual. Although these spheres interact and may even overlap at points, there are clear lines of demarcation related to sovereignty that should not be crossed. For Kuyper, the state is empowered with limited oversight responsibility over the other spheres. However, the state’s authority is derivative, and dependent on God. Thus, the state must never attempt to monopolize power. Moreover, the state should respect the sovereignty of the individual. The state may intervene when a dispute arises between individuals and other spheres, but the state must never assume an outsized role and take over the tasks of society.

In short, sphere sovereignty is a model of diffused power that Kuyper believed was rooted in the structure of nature. Because authority is distributed across society’s vast array of institutions, no single entity or sphere accumulates ultimate sovereignty. Consequently, God’s position as supreme sovereign is preserved. Kuyper’s reflections are helpful when applied to the role of government. In fact, Kuyper’s thought follows the logic of Romans 13 which teaches that the state exists to punish evildoers and exact God’s wrath on those who do wrong (v. 4). Romans 13 does not teach that Christians should uncritically comply with the state no matter what is being demanded. As theologian Thomas Schreiner explains, “[Romans 13] is a general exhortation that delineates what is usually the case: people should normally obey the governing authorities.” In other words, the God-delegated purpose of the governing authorities is to punish evildoers and reward those who do good.

An implication of these principles is that when the government goes beyond its prescribed limits, it is acting unjustly and loses legitimacy. Applying the logic of sphere sovereignty to the vaccine mandate, the government does not have the authority to force us to inject a substance into our bodies that we do not consent to. This is outside the government’s jurisdiction, so it is appropriate for individuals to be wary about forced vaccination. The issue of bodily integrity is important, and Christians should be very concerned when the government oversteps its jurisdiction into the realm of the family and individual.

Of course, it is important to note that this appeal to bodily integrity is different than the popular but logically flawed pro-abortion slogan “my body, my choice.” For one, abortion deals with two bodies: the mothers’ and her child’s. The mother and child are two separate people; they are genetically distinct. Abortion violently destroys the body of the unborn child and interrupts the natural process of pregnancy, permanently severing the relationship between mother and child.

Political Concerns

Third, there are relevant political considerations related to the president’s mandate. In short, if Joe Biden can enact a mandate as broad and sweeping as this one, is there a mandate that this president or a future president can’t hand down in the name of public health? What’s the limit to what the president can compel American families and private companies to do? As it stands, the president’s mandate would affect about 100 million people. This fact alone necessitates careful consideration of the scope of presidential authority and power.

It is worth noting that the president’s directive is far more extreme than the orders handed down by Democrat governors and mayors. Throughout the pandemic, Democrat leaders have embraced measures such as mask mandates, lockdowns, and school closures. But the president’s mandate goes even further. In fact, Biden’s heavy-handed action threatens to increase vaccine hesitancy rather than persuade the unvaccinated to comply with the order.

Conscience Concerns

Fourth, questions about religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate have prompted debate in the wider society, including among Christians. Notably, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids Christians from getting vaccinated. Many Christians, citing verses like Philippians 2:4 (“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”), have cheerfully received COVID-19 vaccines out of a desire to protect not only their own health but also the health of their loved ones and neighbors. Meanwhile, other believers have reservations or sincerely held conscience objections to receiving the vaccine, believing it is morally impermissible or not right for them.

If there are no clear biblical admonitions against receiving a vaccine, are there any grounds for a religious exemption? On this question, Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential Christian legal group, provides the following advice:

You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural, or political, but not religious, concerns. Many people have medical or other concerns which do not rise to the level of an actual religious belief. A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.

While the objections of some Christians to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are rooted in medical, personal, and political concerns, the concerns of others qualify for what might be called “conscience objections.” Like religious beliefs, conscience claims are deeply personal and connected to the core of a person. Now, when talking about conscience, as with anything, it is important to define our terms. In short, Christians believe conscience is a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. Our conscience convicts us when we do something wrong. A rightly functioning conscience inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, shame, or remorse, whenever we violate what we believe is a morally appropriate course of action.

Significantly, Christians believe that to willfully act against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems especially pertinent when the action involves something as personal as injecting something into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). In other words, Christians believe it is sinful to do something that goes against their conscience; therefore, it is morally wrong to force anyone to do something that violates their conscience. In the context of the vaccine mandate, it seems appropriate to honor and respect those who have legitimate, morally informed reasons for receiving or not receiving a vaccine.

Abortion Concerns

Fifth, when it comes to religious freedom concerns and the vaccine, concern about complicity with abortion has been raised. On this front, it is worth noting that for 2,000 years, Christians have been clear on their convictions about abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of unborn children in the womb). According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, fetal cell lines were used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and fetal cell lines were used in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines (but not in the vaccines themselves). Passages from the Bible—including Exodus 21:22-25; Psalm 51:5-6, 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5; and Luke 1:39-45—affirm the personhood of the unborn. Many who believe in the sanctity of life sincerely believe it is inappropriate to have even the slightest connection with abortion, even if that connection is remote. For that reason, some have chosen to forego a vaccine while many other pro-life Americans have chosen to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the latter’s use of fetal cell lines in its development and production.

Finally, as a general note, when abortion-derived cell lines are used in the development, production, or testing of vaccines, the Christian community—including those who chose to get vaccines—should express disapproval about the continued use of these cell lines and request that laboratories and pharmaceutical companies not use these cell lines in the future.

Final Reflections

In short, President Biden’s vaccine mandate has proven to be divisive and frustrating to millions of Americans. After months of promising that his administration would not mandate vaccines, Biden has done an about-face. (As recently as July, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about vaccine mandates and responded, “Can we mandate vaccines across the country? No. That’s not a role that the federal government, I think, even has the power to make.”) Many Americans are understandably outraged. As those called to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), Christians cannot respond to the vaccine mandate simply out of emotion but must think carefully and biblically about the announcement. Legal challenges will determine whether the order is constitutional and therefore enforceable.

But beyond the specifics of the mandate, Christians should think biblically about the role and authority of government as well as the propriety and wisdom of appealing to religious freedom exemptions. Religious freedom is a precious right afforded to those who live in this country and should never be abused. Although some Christians think it is unwise to appeal to religious freedom exemptions when the Bible does not prohibit vaccines, it is nonetheless the case that millions of Christians believe taking a COVID-19 vaccine is not the right decision for their health or have sincere conscience objections to being forced to do something they deem even remotely connected to an immoral practice such as abortion. Therefore, rather than bully, cajole, or coerce our fellow Americans, it seems prudent to respect each other’s religious beliefs, consciences, and moral convictions concerning vaccines.

A Closer Look at FRC’s Viral Tweet: The Bible Really Is Pro-Life (Part 1)

by David Closson

September 8, 2021

Last Friday, FRC posted a tweet that stated: “The Bible is ardently and unequivocally pro-life.” For an organization whose mission is to “advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview,” tweeting support for the Bible’s pro-life ethic was hardly controversial—or at least it shouldn’t have been. But given the renewed tension over abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow a Texas pro-life law to go into effect, passions have been stirred, and antagonism toward pro-life Christians has reached a fever pitch.

As evidence that the abortion lobby and its supporters are livid over the Supreme Court’s decision, consider the reaction to FRC’s tweet. In just three days, FRC’s tweet generated 18 million impressions, 200,000 engagements, 7,000 retweets, and 17,000 replies, nearly all of which were negative. Several replies to FRC’s tweet generated tens of thousands of engagements from Twitter users as well. Clearly, claiming the Bible is pro-life struck a nerve for many people.

I’ve explained elsewhere that the Bible teaches a pro-life ethic. I’ve also argued at length that the Bible affirms the personhood of the unborn and that Christians have opposed abortion for 2,000 years. However, some of the impassioned critiques about the Bible’s teaching on life, abortion, and God’s character offered in response to FRC’s viral tweet merit a response.

Claim: “The Bible says life begins with breath.”

By far, the most common objection to FRC’s tweet is that the Bible teaches that life begins with breath. According to this argument, abortion is morally neutral (and thus permissible) because it ends the life of a preborn child before he or she has taken their first breath. Supporters of this position cite Genesis 2:7, which says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man become a living creature” (ESV).

In context, Genesis 2:7 does not teach that life begins with Adam’s first breath. In fact, the passage says nothing about Adam breathing (although it can be assumed Adam began breathing after receiving life). According to the passage, God forms and breathes into non-living matter, and Adam becomes a living being. Adam’s creation is unique; he is personally formed by God and given life as a fully adult man. It may appear almost too obvious to need pointing out, but how God gave Adam life is different from how every other person subsequently born receives life. Following God’s creation of Eve, the normal biological process of reproduction is the means for creating new life. In other words, the special circumstances of Adam’s creation—including God’s breathing into him the breath of life—are not paradigmatic or representative of how the rest of humanity comes into existence. After our first parents, no one received “the breath of life” directly from God in the same way.

Additionally, for critics who insist the Bible teaches that life begins with Adam’s first breath, it is worth noting that the unborn are “breathing” in the sense that they receive the oxygen they need for their cells to function. As Amy Hall explains, “Just because an unborn child is not an adult and doesn’t take in oxygen the way an adult does, that doesn’t mean he isn’t receiving the oxygen he needs to live; and it certainly doesn’t mean he isn’t a live human being.” Adam began breathing through his mouth after receiving life because that is how a person at that stage of development takes in oxygen.

Claim: “Unborn children do not receive their souls until birth.”

Another critique leveled against pro-life Christians is the claim that unborn children do not receive their souls until birth. However, this is an argument from silence. What the Bible does teach is that unborn babies are fully human. For example, in Luke 1, John the Baptist “leaps for joy” upon hearing Mary’s voice. While in utero, John is acknowledging Jesus and beginning his work as a forerunner of the Christ. Moreover, John is said to be filled with the Holy Spirit in utero. In the same passage, prenatal Jesus is not seen as an impersonal, non-moral entity; rather, He is rightly honored as Lord by both Elizabeth and her unborn baby. In other words, both unborn babies are seen as full persons.

In short, embryology has advanced to the point where no one disputes that a newly formed zygote (fertilized egg) has its own genetic composition and is therefore a biologically unique individual. Moral standing, i.e., personhood, cannot be based on a quality or status that emerges or is achieved at some point after conception. Most characteristics like intelligence exist on a quantitative scale. It is more than ethically tenuous to assign personhood based on subjective criteria. Rather, personhood should be based on biology and genetics, which support the position that life begins at conception. This view is consistent with the Bible’s teaching about the personhood of the unborn (Psalm 139, Luke 1, etc.).

Claim: “In the book of Exodus, the Bible teaches that unborn children have less value than women.”

The misconception that the Bible teaches unborn children have less value than their mothers is based on a faulty reading of Exodus 21:22-25, which says:

When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Some claim that the statement “but there is no harm” only refers to the woman, but this assumption does not make logical sense in the context of the full passage. This law clearly lays out the penalties for harming a pregnant woman and her unborn child. The context is a situation where two men are fighting and accidentally hit a pregnant woman. If a woman is hit and premature birth results, but there is no harm to the woman or child, the man at fault will incur a fine. But if there is harm to either the woman or child, the penalty is the application of the law of retaliation (lex talionis), whereby a punishment resembles the offense committed in kind and degree. This means that both mother and child are afforded equal protection under the law.

Notably, the application of lex talionis in this situation is unique. Under similar circumstances—where someone unintentionally caused the death of another person—the penalty was not “life for life.” Rather, the person at fault could flee to a city of refuge where they had to wait until the death of the high priest. Commenting on this passage, theologian Wayne Grudem observes, “This means that God established for Israel a law code that placed a higher value on protecting the life of a pregnant woman and her unborn child than the life of anyone else in Israelite society.” Thus, rather than teaching that unborn children have less value than women, Exodus provides protections for mothers and their unborn children.

Stay tuned for part 2.

The Tragic Irony of Simone Biles’ Support for Abortion

by David Closson

August 13, 2021

Simone Biles is in the news once again. After winning two Olympic medals in Tokyo and initiating an important conversation about athletes and mental health, the gymnast used her social media platform on Monday to express support for abortion. Given Biles’ Catholic faith and personal experience in the foster care system, her comments reveal an important disconnect in the gymnasts’ worldview that is worth discussing.

Biles became a household name in 2016 following her performance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where she won four gold medals and became only the second American female gymnast to win both the individual all-around and the team gold at the same Olympiad. She won two more medals last week in Tokyo, cementing her legacy as one of the best gymnasts in the history of the sport. With a career total of seven Olympic and 25 World Championship medals, Biles is now one of the most decorated gymnasts of all time.

While Biles’ athletic success was one of the storylines from the 32nd Olympiad, her decision to withdraw from some of her events for the sake of her mental health garnered even more attention. Commentators, health professionals, and other athletes praised Biles, and her decision sparked an important conversation about mental health.

An Instagram Uproar

Like many popular athletes, Biles has amassed a large following on social media. She recently asked her 6.9 million Instagram followers to submit their “unpopular opinions.” Initial topics were light-hearted, and Biles weighed in on questions ranging from ketchup to the singer Beyoncé. However, the tone shifted when a fan submitted their opinion that “abortion is wrong.”

In response, Biles wrote, “I already know this is going to start the biggest argument & may even lose followers BUT. I’m very much pro-choice. Your body. your choice.” She proceeded to talk about the foster care system, noting, “Also for everyone gonna say ‘just put it up for adoption’ it’s not that easy & coming from someone who was in the foster care system TRUST me foster care system is broken & it’s TOUGH. especially on the kids & young adults who age out & adoption is expensive … im just saying.”

Not surprisingly, Biles’ comments received a lot of attention. Within hours, Planned Parenthood affiliates praised the gymnast and thanked her for an “incredible post.” Meanwhile, pro-life leaders lamented Biles’ comments. Lila Rose tweeted, “Incredibly sad and awful. To have overcome a broken system as triumphantly as she has—yet wish death for other kids [because] they may face foster care is beyond fathoming.” Biles responded to the initial pushback, clarifying in a tweet, “I did NOT say I support to abort rather than to put [children] through the foster care system. What I did imply is that you should not control some elses body/decision.”

Biles’ Life Story Reminds Us That Every Life is Precious

From a worldview standpoint, there are a few important points to note. First, Biles’ personal experience in the foster care system informs how she thinks about these issues. Everyone has a worldview—i.e., the lens through which you see, understand, and interpret your world—and Biles’ worldview has been molded in part by her formative years. As has been well-documented, Biles’ biological mother struggled with drugs and alcohol, and Simone and her siblings were in and out of foster care for about three years. Adopted by her grandparents when she was six, Biles was raised by them and encouraged to pursue gymnastics. Significantly, she never forgot her early upbringing and has used her platform to encourage children in foster care and worked with sponsors to provide clothes and school supplies for at-risk children.

Given her personal story, Biles should have plenty of reasons to be pro-life. She overcame great odds to become one of the most decorated Olympic athletes of all time. Yes, America’s foster care system has its challenges and adoption can be traumatic. No one questions that life dealt Simone Biles a difficult hand. It is true that many children in her position struggle for the rest of their lives. But one of the reasons Biles’ story has inspired so many is that she overcame the challenges dealt to her.

And yet, tragically, Biles has embraced the popular slogan, “My body, my choice.” However, as pro-life advocates have pointed out, a woman’s autonomy over her own body does not include the right to end the life of another innocent human being, even if that human being is temporarily dependent on her. Any sound argument for bodily autonomy cannot ignore the rights of preborn children who have their own bodies which merit respect and protection.

Furthermore, aborting the children of women in poverty or crisis does nothing to fix imperfections in the foster care and adoption process. All it does is create victims by ending the life of an innocent child and scarring a woman physically and/or psychologically.

Second, Biles is a practicing Roman Catholic. She grew up attending mass with her parents, travels with her rosary, and made it a practice to light a candle to St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes, before big events. Although many professing Catholics hold positions on moral issues contrary to Catholic social teaching (Catholic politicians such as President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are outspoken supporters of abortion), it is important to remember that the Roman Catholic Church itself is firmly opposed to abortion. In fact, in 2016, Pope Francis said, “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life.” In the words of the Catholic Catechism, “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” In short, support for abortion is out of step with the Church; faithful Christians ought to know, support, and champion the Church’s teaching on life.

Finally, Biles is right that the foster care system is broken. She’s right that the system is “tough,” especially for older children and those who “age out.” She’s also right that adoption is unnecessarily expensive. However, a pro-life ethic consistent with the gymnast’s faith requires an all-of-the-above approach. Policymakers and church leaders should work together to reform the foster care system. Adoption should be easier and less expensive. But ending the life of an innocent human being is not the answer. Everyone should be given the same chance that Biles was given; everyone deserves an opportunity at life and an opportunity to pursue their dreams. Even amid the most challenging circumstances, human life is precious and deserves protection.

An Opportunity for Prayer, Study, and Witness

Christians observing the latest news cycle featuring the Olympic gymnast should do a few things. First, they should pray for Simone Biles. She has been under a lot of scrutiny over the past five years, both due to her amazing athletic ability and her advocacy for sexual abuse survivors like herself. This scrutiny only intensified when she temporarily withdrew from competition during the Tokyo Olympics in order to focus on her mental health. Even if we disagree with Biles on abortion, Christians should recognize that she is a fellow image-bearer who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Second, Christians should study what the Bible teaches on abortion. Increasingly, some who identify as Christian claim the Bible is fine with abortion, or at least indifferent. Often, this view is argued from a place of ignorance. Thus, it is important for Christians to know what the Bible teaches about the value and dignity of all human life—born and unborn. Parents especially should teach their children a pro-life ethic informed by the Bible’s teaching on life.

Finally, Christians should strive to live out a pro-life ethic in all areas of their life. From conception to natural death, life is sacred. For those of us who follow Christ, this truth ought to inform how we treat people, the types of policies and politicians we support, and how we communicate our beliefs.

Does 1 Corinthians 6:9 Really Condemn Homosexual Sex?

by David Closson , Jaelyn Morgan

August 4, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

What if the word ‘homosexual’ was never meant to be in the Bible?” That is the question the new documentary 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted a Culture is dedicated to answering.

The documentary explores the linguistic history of the word “homosexual” and its appearance in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, first published on February 11, 1946. In short, the film seeks to show that the RSV’s use of the term “homosexuals” instead of “sexual perverts” is an inaccurate translation of the Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai. (It is worth noting that although recent editions of the RSV have reverted to using “sexual perverts,” many other translations still translate it as “homosexuals.”) According to the documentary, homosexual sex is biblically permissible, and the RSV’s “mistranslation” has influenced subsequent English translations of the Bible, resulting in Western society believing that “sexual and gender minorities must choose between their faith and their identity.”

The filmmakers insist 1946 is “not an attack on Christianity or the Bible” but rather “a quest to discover biblical truth and honor God’s Word.” However well-intentioned the film might be, its ultimate claim does not stand up to linguistic and historical critique. 1946 undermines biblical sexual ethics under the guise of honest hermeneutics.

Evaluating the “Mistranslation” Allegation

Alan Shlemon from the Christian apologetics ministry Stand to Reason writes that, despite 1946’s captivating premise where power-hungry white men oppress “sexual minorities” through Bible translation, “Even if the film’s claims are true, it doesn’t matter. The entire documentary is a non sequitur.”

There are many reasons the film 1946 fails to be intellectually compelling, including:

  • subsequent Bible translators did not use the RSV’s English translation unchecked;
  • the prohibition of homosexual sex is found elsewhere in the Bible and is well-attested throughout church history, not just since 1946; and
  • one young seminary student, whom the film follows, would not have had the expertise to truly dispute the RSV translation committee.

Despite these realities, the documentary is often cited as proof that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality and that the church should re-examine its view on sexual ethics.  

To address the film’s claim that same-sex relations are not prohibited in the Bible, we will answer three questions:

  1. What do the allegedly mistranslated words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 mean?
  2. What is the biblical sexual ethic?
  3. Why is the biblical sexual ethic good news for everyone?

By answering these questions, Christians can refute the radical claim that the Bible permits homosexual sex with knowledge, clarity, grace, and love.

1. What Do the Allegedly Mistranslated Words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 Mean?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (ESV, emphasis added)

The contested phrase translated “men who practice homosexuality” comes from the Greek “ο¿τε μαλακο¿ ο¿τε ¿ρσενοκο¿ται,” transliterated as oute malakoi oute arsenokoitai. The phrase oute…oute means “neither…nor,” so the verse is saying “neither _____  nor _____ … will inherit the kingdom of God.” So, we must fill in the blanks. What do malakoi and arsenokoitai mean? 

In his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon explains that the term malakoi can carry a variety of meanings depending on the author and context. Often it meant “soft” or “effeminate.” In ancient usage, malakos could range from those who had a penchant for “soft” or decadent living, to those averse to the rigor of a philosopher’s life, to the passive partner in homosexual intercourse. Thus, while at first glance it might seem challenging to know exactly how Paul is using the term in this passage, context is key. Based on the context of 1 Corinthians 6:9—a list of unrepentant sins displayed by those who will not inherit the kingdom of God—and Jewish understanding of the term at the time, Paul’s intent is clear. As Gagnon summarizes, “In 1 Cor. 6:9, malakoi should be understood as the passive partners in homosexual intercourse” (p. 312).

So, if Paul’s use of malakoi referred to the passive partner in homosexual sex, what about the active partner? To address this question, Paul uses the term arsenokoitai, a compound word formed by combining arsen (“male”) and koites (“bed”), the same words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (passages which clearly prohibit homosexual relations). This word has a decidedly narrower meaning than malakoi. In fact, a survey of ancient literature shows arsenokoitai always refers to men having sexual intercourse with other males. As Gagnon points out, this is true of the earliest attestations of arsenokoitai after the New Testament, including the Sibylline Oracles (2.73), Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies (5.26.22-23), and Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel (6.10.25). According to Gagnon, Paul’s use of arsenokoites instead of paiderastes shows that he was not just discussing the practice of pederasty (a man having sexual intercourse with a boy), but also a man who was the active partner engaging in sexual intercourse with another adult male (p. 325). In summary, based on the historical and literary contexts of the terms and the literary context of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, malakoi and arsenokoitai clearly refer to passive and active partners in homosexual sex.

2. What Is the Biblical Sexual Ethic?

The mere suggestion that Scripture might not prohibit homosexual sex is understandably tantalizing, for many reasons. At one point or another, we have all wished that one of the sinful behaviors prohibited by the Bible was permissible in our specific case. These activities, although condemned by the Bible, nonetheless appeal to our hearts.

Tragically, we have inherited our penchant for forbidden things from our first parents. When Adam and Eve attempted to “become like God” by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden, the consequences of their disobedience to God affected not only themselves but all their offspring (Gen. 2:17, 3:16-19). One consequence is that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). Even if we feel in our hearts that something is right, that thing could very well be wrong. Proverbs 3:5-8 cautions us:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,     
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,     
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;     
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh     
and refreshment to your bones. (Emphasis added)

Sadly, humanity’s struggle with God’s design and intention for sexual desire is yet another consequence of the fall.

The Bible’s sexual ethic is clear. From the beginning, God intended sexual desire to motivate men and women to enter into the sacred covenant relationship of marriage, which is reserved for one man and one woman and is intended to be for life (Gen. 1:27, 2:24). Jesus confirmed the creation design for marriage when He condemned divorce (Mark 10:6-9). According to Scripture, the proper context for sexual activity is within the marriage covenant. All sexual conduct outside of marriage is prohibited, including impurity (Gal. 5:19, Eph 5:3, Col. 3:5), illicit heterosexual relations (1 Cor 6:18, Col. 3:5, 1 Thess. 4:3-5, Heb. 13:4), and homosexual relations (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Jude 1:7).

As Family Research Council’s Biblical Principles for Human Sexuality explains, church history reveals one unified position about sexual ethics—that of strict condemnation of any type of sexual activity outside of marriage. It was only after the sexual revolution of the 1960s that some American churches—those that had previously embraced theological liberalism—changed their interpretation of the Bible and began to approve of homosexual sex and same-sex marriage.

3. Why Is the Biblical Sexual Ethic Good News for Everyone?

The Bible’s high standard for sexual ethics can seem unattainable, causing us to despair. But the Bible brings good news of redemption and promises salvation to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are given victory over sin and receive power from God to flee temptation. That is why Paul urges the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality” later in the same passage of 1 Corinthians 6 (1 Cor. 6:18). He was urging them to walk in the freedom that Christ had already won for them!

When 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is read in context, we learn that it is a passage of hope, not condemnation. Paul writes:

[D]o you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11, emphasis added)

In the last sentence, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the new life they have received in Christ! Even though some of them had previously lived immoral lives, the blood of Christ’s sacrifice had washed them, sanctified them, and brought them into a right relationship with God. The Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics is good news because it reveals God’s design and plan for marriage, relationships, and sexuality. It is even better news for those of us who struggle with sexual sin because, through “participation in the spirit” (Phil. 2:1), we can “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 NIV).

In Matthew 11, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (v. 28). Throughout the centuries, millions of us who follow Jesus have found comfort in this precious promise. For those who grapple most acutely with the burdens of living in a sexually broken world, Jesus’ promise of rest still stands. Amid life’s most trying struggles, trust Him with your hopes, desires, fears, and questions. Jesus is faithful, trustworthy, and true (1 Thess. 5:24, Rev. 19:11). He completely saves those who believe and empowers us to live the life our loving God designed us to live.

What Christians Need to Know About the Case that Could Overturn Roe and Casey

by David Closson , Joy Zavalick

July 28, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Most Americans are familiar with Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. Many Americans, however, have not yet heard of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, an upcoming Supreme Court case that could overturn Roe and likely return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states.

What should Americans, and especially Christians, know about Dobbs? Is it possible that Roe v. Wade could be overturned? These and other questions are important to consider as the Supreme Court prepares to reconsider its abortion jurisprudence.

Context

Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, there have been an estimated 62 million abortions in the United States. The Roe decision created abortion rights on the basis of a supposed right to privacy provided by the Fourteenth Amendment. Under Roe, the Court initially established a trimester system and prevented states from restricting abortion in the first trimester. An accompanying case, Doe v. Bolton, made it almost impossible to restrict abortion in the later trimesters as well.

In 1992, the Supreme Court revisited Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. It replaced the trimester system with the standard that states cannot impose an “undue burden” on pre-viability abortion. Although infants were once thought to reach viability at 28 weeks, modern medicine has determined that children can survive outside of the womb beginning around 22 weeks, thus moving the point of viability to earlier in gestation than it had been understood to be at the time of Roe.

Mississippi’s Law

In 2018, Mississippi passed the Gestational Age Act (known as HB 1510), which prohibits elective abortions post-15 weeks gestation. The law points out that America is out-of-step with international norms regarding abortion:

The United States is one (1) of only seven (7) nations in the world that permits nontherapeutic or elective abortion-on-demand after the twentieth week of gestation. In fact, fully seventy-five percent (75%) of all nations do not permit abortion after twelve (12) weeks’ gestation, except (in most instances) to save the life and to preserve the physical health of the mother.

On the same day that the Gestational Age Act was signed into law, Dr. Sacheen Carr-Ellis filed suit on behalf of Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only abortion facility in Mississippi.

A district court evaluated the Gestational Age Act and declared it to be unconstitutional on the basis that the point of a baby’s viability outside the womb was the earliest point at which the state could implement a legislative ban to protect fetal life. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mississippi’s law directly challenges the abortion jurisprudence of Roe and Casey, and its brief in the case calls upon the Court to overturn these two decisions, stating, “…[N]othing in constitutional text, structure, history, or tradition supports a right to abortion.”

If Roe and Casey were overturned, the question of abortion’s legality would likely fall to the states. Twenty-one states currently have laws that would immediately come into effect and restrict abortion in some manner if Roe and Casey were overturned. Ten of those states have “trigger laws” that would immediately ban all or nearly all abortions.

Christian Reflections

The Bible teaches that all people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It also affirms the personhood of the unborn. Consequently, abortion is morally incompatible with these truths.

Probably the most well-known articulation of the Bible’s affirmation of the unborn is found in Psalm 139, where David refers to his unborn self as being fully individual, not an impersonal fetus with no moral value:

For you [God] formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Ps. 139:13-16)

The prophet Jeremiah provides a high view of human life in the womb:

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:4-5)

Notably, the prophet is “consecrated” and “appointed” to his vocation while in utero. God explains to Jeremiah that He “formed” and “knew” him prior to this birth. The passage reveals that God had a personal relationship with the unborn prophet, similar to how He relates to him as an adult.

Other pro-life passages include Isaiah 49:1b, Luke 1:39-45, Psalm 51:5-6, Job 3:3, Judges 13:3-5, and Genesis 25:22-23.

Christians should care about the Dobbs case because it poses a serious legal challenge to a deadly practice that is incompatible with Christian ethics—abortion. We urge you to follow activity related to the Dobbs case and join us in praying that the U.S. Supreme Court would act to defend life.

For a more in-depth survey of what the Bible has to say about abortion and the personhood of the unborn, we invite you to read FRC’s helpful resource Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement. For more information on what would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned, we invite you to read our explainer on this consequential case.

The Duty of Parents in Education

by David Closson

July 15, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

As the nation emerges from the set of political, health, and economic crises it has wrestled with over the past year, and as children head back to school in the fall, a battle is heating up: the fight for America’s schools.

Recognizing the growing battles within education, the Associated Press published an article last Friday titled “Tears, politics, and money: School boards become battle zones.” The article highlights debates in school board meetings across the country over new curriculum, how racism and American history will be taught, mask mandates, and transgender issues. How some of these fiercely debated questions are resolved will affect the trajectory of our schools and, ultimately, our nation.

Christian parents face questions even more fundamental than any of these. Namely, what is their responsibility when it comes to their children’s education? And does it matter if said education reflects a biblical worldview?

A quality education is a good thing to desire for one’s children. Desiring good things for one’s children is not a uniquely Christian trait; it is a human one—a reflection of the heavenly Father earthly parents are meant to resemble. Jesus was addressing a large crowd when he said:

Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mat. 7:9-11, ESV)

Desiring a quality education for one’s children is not a uniquely Christian trait, but Christian parents ought to combine this excellent desire with another one—that their children would learn to embrace a biblical worldview.

The process of building a biblical worldview begins in the home. However, this process is also either helped or hurt by what happens in the classroom. A person’s worldview is not merely shaped by how they spend their Sundays or whether they learn good habits and spiritual disciplines. It is also shaped when they are being taught history, science, literature, and math. Therefore, Christian parents should care deeply about what their children are being taught and who is teaching their children. Children’s worldviews are constantly being shaped, and not necessarily by a biblical one.

Let’s briefly consider the state of worldview in America. According to George Barna’s America’s Worldview Inventory, a person’s worldview (the lens through which they see and understand the world) is solidified by age 13. Although someone’s worldview may change or adjust throughout their life, the overwhelming majority of Americans have their worldview in place before high school, with little to no change afterward. Barna’s research shows that today only six percent of American adults hold a biblical worldview. Even more troubling is the finding that only 21 percent of those who regularly attend evangelical churches have a biblical worldview (despite 81 percent thinking they do).

Christian parents must consider these numbers. Simply put, most Americans—including those who attend church—do not have a biblical worldview. This means that most of our children’s educators are not teaching from a perspective informed by biblical truth. Even those with good intentions will not be able to help our children see how Scripture answers the most fundamental questions we face.

God has clearly outlined parents’ responsibility for their children. When Moses was passing down the law of God to the people of Israel at Mount Siani, God commanded parents:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deut. 6:6-7)

By issuing these commands to parents, God made them ultimately responsible for educating and instilling a biblical worldview in their children. For a variety of reasons, parents may choose to delegate some of this responsibility. If and when they do, they should be careful to do so wisely.

For some parents, ensuring their children are taught a biblical worldview might mean homeschooling them. For other parents, it might mean finding a Christian school that instructs its students from a biblical worldview and enrolling their children there. And for others, it could mean being intentionally involved in the local public school system. This involvement might look like discussing and supplementing the public school curriculum at home with your children, attending school board meetings and speaking up when appropriate, running for and serving on the school board, or even working as a teacher or principal. Regardless of what form it takes, Christian parents should be intentionally involved in their children’s education.

Active parental involvement in the education of their children is a theme found throughout Scripture. For example, parents are advised to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). The apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Furthermore, the apostle John embodied the attitude all Christian parents and teachers ought to have when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).

Whether parents choose to homeschool their children, enroll them in private school, or send them to public school, they have a responsibility to raise their children in the Lord and will be held accountable for how they steward the blessing of children (Jesus gives a sobering warning in Matthew 18:5-6). What are our children learning? More importantly, what kind of people are they becoming because of their education? What virtues are they learning to cherish and embody? These considerations are at the heart of discipling our children because what happens in the classroom does not stay in the classroom—it shapes hearts and minds. Christian parents must be active participants in their children’s education as an act of obedience to God and out of love for both God and their children.

Olympics Foreshadow Bleak Future for Women’s Sports

by David Closson , Molly Carman

July 9, 2021

In the lead-up to this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, participating nations are holding tryouts to determine who will represent them at the 32nd Olympiad. Some of these tryouts have generated controversy, such as when American hammer-thrower Gwen Berry turned her back on the American flag during the anthem. However, the most controversial story to emerge from the tryouts so far is New Zealand’s decision to include Laurel Hubbard on the women’s weightlifting team. Hubbard, a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman, will compete against female athletes at the Olympics.

The Olympics are not the only sporting event where female athletes are having to compete against biological males. For example, for the past few years, high school girls in Connecticut have competed against (and lost to) biological males in track and field. Even though a handful of states have passed legislation to preserve women and girls’ sports, most Americans remain unaware of the threat gender identity ideology poses to the future of women’s athletics.

How should Christians think about and respond to storylines relating to transgenderism and the Olympic Games (and sports in general)?

First, we must recognize that the underlying issue is a rejection of reality and a denial of truth.  Allowing biologically male athletes to compete in women’s sports denies important truths for the sake of supporting personal experiences and beliefs that are not grounded in reality.

Truth aligns with reality. We can know that truth exists because the evidence is all around us. Take for example the simple mathematical equation 2+2=4. Not only is there an answer to the equation, but it is knowable—we can comprehend the answer because it logically follows. Furthermore, the answer is objective—it doesn’t matter if you want 2+2 to equal something different, the correct answer will only ever be 4. The answer is also absolute—it will not change through time or space, 2+2 will always equal 4. Finally, truth is exclusive—all other answers are wrong, no matter what.

Although we may not always know the answer, that doesn’t mean that the answer does not exist or that we should make up our own answer. Declaring 2+2=5 is wrong, regardless of how much we wish it to be true or how sincere we are in making the declaration. It is wrong for athletics to accommodate a person’s declaration that they are female when they are biologically male, even if the declarer is sincere. Research demonstrates that biological males have a significant, physical advantage over biological women, even if they have taken hormones to suppress their testosterone.

Second, we must remember that Christians are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Our culture has told us that love accommodates, applauds, and supports individual desires over objective reality. Despite what our culture says, the Bible tells us love “rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). It is through graciously speaking the truth that we best love our neighbor. As Creator, God is the ultimate standard of truth (John 8:26, 17:17) and He defines what is good (Psalm 25:8, Luke 18:19). God desires Shalom for the world, where things are the way they ought to be.

Tragically, things are not how they ought to be. The world is broken due to sin (Gen. 3). Because of this brokenness, our subjective personal experiences or desires can conflict with the truth. Without a standard of truth, our experiences can deceive and mislead us. When Jesus declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), He was showing us that He is the objective standard of truth around which we should order our lives.

Truth can be controversial and unpopular at times, but that does not make it any less true. Because we live in a broken world, we will face challenging and heartbreaking situations. As Christians, we can take comfort that our experiences do not have the final word, our pain is never wasted, and our struggles have a purpose (Rom. 8:18-30). Without knowledge of the truth, we will not know how to respond to our experiences or process them well. So, let us live in truth and exhort those around us to abide in Christ’s word, for then we will “know the truth” and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).

Does the Bible Really Condemn Abortion?

by David Closson

June 30, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

Editor’s Note: Instances of “Church” with a capital “C” refer to the Roman Catholic Church. Instances of “church” with a lowercase “c” refer to Christians at large.

In recent weeks, the topic of abortion and the church has returned to the news. This perennial issue has reemerged due to the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops’ decision to draft a document on the Eucharist. The controversy over this document is caused by the possibility that one section may reiterate the Catholic teaching that those who manifestly oppose Church doctrine on grave matters, such as abortion, should refrain from receiving the sacrament of Communion. Since the announcement of this upcoming document, news media personalities, politicians, and commentators have weighed in, debating the political and pastoral implications of denying Communion to lawmakers whose actions demonstrate their opposition to Catholic doctrine.

Many are questioning whether churches should enact church discipline against politicians implicated in the sin of abortion. I agree with Andrew Walker, who argues they should. Church leaders have an obligation to call to account those under their spiritual authority, especially those who are highhandedly flouting church teachings in the public square.

Questions related to church discipline and eucharistic coherence are serious, and it will be interesting to see what the bishops decide later this year. But it is worth noting that abortion is once again in the news and at the center of America’s cultural wars. Moreover, in reporting and conversations about the bishops’ forthcoming guidance, the Christian view on life is again being debated. Because of this, it is important to underscore the church’s consistent teaching on abortion, which is rooted in Scripture.

Some commentators have claimed that the Bible’s pro-life ethic is not clear, and neither is organized Christianity’s. In his widely circulated New York Times op-ed, historian Garry Wills, a Catholic widely known for his opposition to Catholic doctrine, claims the Catholic Church abandoned efforts “to connect abortion with Scripture” decades ago. According to Wills, “The Catholic Church no longer claims that opposition to abortion is scriptural.” Elsewhere in the piece, he argues that Pope Francis is “on the side” of women who “have had abortions and still consider themselves Catholics.” In reality, though, the Catholic Church has not abandoned efforts to connect abortion with Scripture. In fact, it has done the complete opposite.

The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are clear about Christianity’s historical position on abortion. For example, the Catechism explains in Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 5, line 2271:

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.

The following line of the Catechism adds:

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.

Citing first and second-century church documents and church fathers such as Tertullian, the Catechism shows the consistent teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on abortion.

Moreover, contrary to Wills’ suggestion that Pope Francis is softening his position on abortion, the current pontiff said in an Apostolic Letter in 2016:

I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father.

Additionally, in 2007, the Episcopal Council of Latin American Bishops—of which Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, was a part—produced a document which explained that “eucharistic coherence” necessitated barring public officials who support abortion from taking Communion. In the key paragraph, the bishops wrote:

We must adhere to “eucharistic coherence,” that is, be conscious that they cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.

The Bible itself is unambiguous in its teaching on the sanctity of life. Contrary to Wills’ claim, opposition to abortion is deeply rooted in Scripture and is why Christians have opposed abortion for 2,000 years. For example, in one of the most well-known pro-life passages in the Bible, King David describes himself in utero:

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16, ESV)

Worth noting is how David refers to his unborn life as fully personal. The entity in his mother’s womb was not an impersonal fetus with no moral value; it was David, whom God was forming and knitting together. Moreover, the personhood of the unborn child is highlighted with David’s repeated use of the personal pronouns “I” and “my.”

Another Scripture passage that affirms the personhood of the unborn is Luke 1, the narrative of Elizabeth and Mary meeting while pregnant with John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, respectively. A few details of this passage reveal a remarkable affirmation of the sanctity of unborn life. For example, upon hearing Mary’s voice, John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb. John’s response is an emotion that can only be ascribed to a person. Second, Elizabeth refers to Mary as the “mother of my Lord” at a time when most women do not even know they are pregnant (Mary may have been pregnant for less than a month when she visited Elizabeth). Significantly, Jesus, in His embryonic state, is recognized as Elizabeth’s “Lord.” Third, Elizabeth refers to her unborn baby with the same Greek word used for children after they are born. Finally, both Elizabeth and the unborn John are said to be “filled with the Holy Spirit,” meaning their reactions are appropriate and a fitting response to being in the presence of Jesus as a full person. These details point to the reality that Jesus’ incarnation began at His conception rather than His birth.

In short, the Bible is clear on abortion. From cover to cover, the Bible affirms the personhood of the unborn, which is why Christians have opposed abortion for 2,000 years. This is also why arguments denying the Bible’s teaching on the subject are simply not persuasive. Thus, any attempts to bully or intimidate Catholic bishops who believe they should enforce Catholic teaching with disciplinary action should be condemned. As Andrew Walker has argued, “To purport to be a Catholic while denying the sum and substance of so much Catholic moral teaching undermines the credibility that one’s faith bears any resemblance to its doctrine.” As Christians, we must adhere to Scripture and be unwavering in our convictions, applying the teachings of God’s words to every area of life, from the womb to natural death.

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