Author archives: Joshua Arnold

Biden’s WHO Debacle Highlights Need for More Transparency

by Joshua Arnold

May 26, 2022

Before World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was re-elected without opposition this week at the World Health Assembly, House Freedom Caucus members took the Biden administration to task for not proposing an alternative candidate. What’s worse, as they wrote in their letter, the Biden team is “now attempting to hand him more control.” Tedros first attained the office after heavy lobbying by the Chinese Communist Party, and his ties to China remained strong through the COVID pandemic. The Biden administration has proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly’s international health regulations which would strengthen the Director General’s unilateral authority. So, House Freedom Caucus members demanded the Biden administration “provide the American people with total transparency and respect for our nation’s sovereignty. Under no circumstances should you cede our government’s operational control in a public health emergency to an international body.”

The Biden administration’s problems with transparency stretch beyond their proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly to hamstring American sovereignty on public health affairs; they also can’t seem to tell the whole truth on how the COVID pandemic got started to begin with. Once again, China proves a major player.

Two professors at Columbia University—hardly voices of the fringe right—wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal, “no independent and transparent scientific scrutiny to date of the full scope of the U.S.-based evidence” has been performed on the origin of COVID-19. Professors Neil Harrison and Jeffrey Sachs explained, “the relevant U.S.-based evidence would include the following information: laboratory notebooks, virus databases, electronic media (emails, other communications), biological samples, viral sequences … and interviews … together with a full record of U.S. agency involvement in funding the research on SARS-like viruses.” They insist the U.S. intelligence community either has not made their investigation into these materials transparent or has simply “fallen far short of conducting a comprehensive investigation.” Basically, they expect the rest of us to take their word for it, something Americans object to strongly.

Harrison and Sachs lay out the mounds of evidence suggesting someone in the U.S. should have a notion about what happened in Wuhan. The “active and highly collaborative U.S.-China scientific research program” was “funded by the U.S. government,” they wrote, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Did no American officials consider the government could have been bankrolling the research of a Chinese bioweapons program? Other U.S. agents participating include EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), the Universities of North Carolina and of California at Davis, the NIH, and the USAID. These and “other research partners have failed to disclose their activities,” they complained. “The precise nature of the experiments that were conducted … remains unknown.”

Blanket denials from the NIH are no longer good enough,” Harrison and Sachs continued. “A steady trickle of disquieting information has cast a darkening cloud over the agency.” The NIH “resisted the release of important evidence” and “continued to redact materials released under FOIA [the Freedom of Information Act], including a remarkable 290-page redaction in a recent FOIA release.” Yet FOIA requests and leaked documents have slowly but steadily revealed an unflattering picture, which prompts people to ask, what else are they trying to hide?

Among the most suspicious facts uncovered so far, research proposals “make clear that the EHA-WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology]-UNC collaboration was involved in the collection of a large number of so-far undocumented SARS-like viruses [of the same type as COVID] and was engaged in their manipulation.” The insertion of a gene sequence found in COVID, but not other known viruses of the same type, “was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal.” That proposal was not funded by the agency from whom it was requested, “but we do not know whether some of the proposed work was subsequently carried out in 2018 or 2019, perhaps using another source of funding.” Harrison and Sachs said there was a “very low possibility” of such a gene sequence occurring naturally. Less scientifically, we know that high-level employees like Dr. Anthony Fauci seemed suspiciously eager to direct public scrutiny away from their publicly funded projects in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

There’s no doubt that greater transparency on the part of Chinese authorities would be enormously helpful,” the paper argued, but that doesn’t get the U.S. government completely off the hook. “We call on U.S. government scientific agencies, most notably the NIH, to support a full, independent, and transparent investigation of the origins of SARS-CoV-2.” From NIH to WHO, the Biden administration could use more transparency all around. If they would start tackling real problems instead of always aiming at the public relations problem, perhaps they could win back the trust of the American people.

Biden-Backed WHO’s Latest Power Grab Fails

by Joshua Arnold

May 24, 2022

The Biden administration’s attempt to usurp Congress’s public health authority by rewriting international law may have just encountered an untimely grave. The Biden administration submitted a number of amendments for consideration at the World Health Assembly which would bolster the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General’s pandemic authority without the consent of member states. The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body and is meeting in Geneva this week, but “the most interesting thing that happened did not happen at the assembly itself,” said Michael Alexander, co-chair of the Law and Activism Committee of the World Council for Health.

A first-year law student in the U.K.” objected to the amendments, Alexander explained on “Washington Watch.” He “asked the courts to review these amendments, and the court rejected him summarily. So he appealed. And then he got a letter from the government that said 12 of 13 international health regulation amendments have been taken off the table and will not be addressed at this Assembly, at least at this time.”

It’s unclear how or why the amendments were tabled. It seems they were considered by a working group comprised of member states, but the group is “not transparent,” Alexander said. “We don’t know who’s on it and who’s saying what,” or even how many nations are members—although there are rumors that Brazil and Russia opposed the amendments.

It’s also unclear whether their tabling was permanent. We also “don’t know how the approval process works. … The 12 amendments are off the table right now,” Alexander continued, but “maybe … they’ll come back on in a day or two, and they’ll be approved in some way that is not transparent to us. So we have good news for the moment, [but] we have to keep an eye on what’s happening there.”

What is clear is that the Biden administration is unable to advance its public health agenda without these amendments. “The United States clearly didn’t play a role” in tabling the amendments, Alexander said.

But what is the Biden administration’s agenda at the World Health Assembly? They would add duties to states like, “The State Party shall accept or reject such an offer of assistance within 48 hours and, in the case of rejection of such an offer, shall provide to WHO its rationale for the rejection, which WHO shall share with other States Parties.”

They propose changing “State Party within whose territory the public health emergency of international concern has occurred” to “relevant State Parties,” which is undefined. They propose to delete language such as “taking into account the views of the State Party concerned” and “WHO shall consult with and attempt to obtain verification from the State Party in whose territory” the public health emergency occurred.

The changes largely tend either to decrease the sovereignty of a state, increase the rights of other states to meddle in its affairs, and increase the power of WHO officials. In a letter to President Biden, Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) complained the amendments would “grant unilateral authority to declare public health emergencies of international or regional concern to the WHO’s Director General and Regional Directors, respectively. This would be an alarming transfer of U.S. sovereignty to an unelected U.N. bureaucrat.” Leftist outfits like Snopes and The Washington Post have taken great pains to dispel “conspiracy theories” about this year’s World Health Assembly, which “is usually considered a dry, technocratic event,” but they achieve nothing more than missing the main point. The very trouble they take to defend the Biden administration’s amendments demonstrate something more is going on.

The concluding notes of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t satisfy the Biden administration. Their efforts to chase down increasingly unrealistic objectives with increasingly onerous mandates ended with the virus mostly burning itself out, even while the administration was still arrayed on the losing side of multiple legal battles. Pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, and administration officials all suffered precipitous drops in credibility. It seems that the administration has finally admitted to itself what most of the country already knew—the executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally impose its desired draconian response to a public health emergency under current U.S. law.

But instead of concluding that extreme public health responses were out of bounds, the administration has tried to steal a run on the American people. The Biden administration’s proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly’s international health regulations seem calculated to force a nation’s hand on public health matters, if a global cadre can agree on the measures they should take. If the amendments were ratified, an administration could defend extreme measures during the next pandemic by protesting that they simply had to take certain actions because of international consensus.

As problematic as such surrender of sovereignty would be under any circumstances, it is even more concerning given the WHO’s pathetic response to COVID-19. “This is the same organization that parroted the narrative from the Chinese Communist Party throughout the COVID pandemic,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. First they said, “it’s not human-to-human transmission. And then they sat on [data] for so long. And they failed really at every turn, even so much that the previous administration withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization.” Alexander agreed that the WHO was “a captured organization,” dependent on giant pharmaceutical companies and rich donors. “This is not an independent, neutral bureaucratic organization, … not an organization that is looking to the common good of its members.”

In his opening address on Sunday, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asserted that the pandemic is “most certainly not over.” Alexander warned Ghebreyesus is “China’s man,” a former Marxist warlord in Ethiopia who obtained his position “with the lobbying of the Chinese.” Is that really who we want running public health here in America?

Dobbs Leak: A Leftist Pastor Takes on Abortion

by Joshua Arnold

May 9, 2022

When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19), so it’s little surprise that among all the ink spilled over the leaked Dobbs decision draft, there were at least a few shockingly poor takes.

One such take came from Leftist pastor Brandan Robertson, “God has given all human beings authority and autonomy over our own bodies. And if Roe v Wade is struck down, this will be yet another assault on women’s authority and autonomy over their own bodies.” No Psalm 139 for him. I guess consistency requires anyone ignoring “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (verse 14) to also ignore “you hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me” (verse 5) and “search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (verse 23)—not to mention the rest of the Bible.

It’s difficult to even call him a ‘Christian’ pastor,” said David Closson, Director of FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview. “At one level, yes,” we do have autonomy over our own bodies, he noted. “That’s one of the reasons I was against the vaccine mandates…. But do we have unlimited autonomy? No. And do we have the unlimited right to do something with someone else’s body? Absolutely not.”

Closson explained Robertson’s beliefs track with the worldly perspective identified by Carl Trueman in his mighty book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. That worldview lauds “being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You follow the dictates of your feelings, your emotions, your desires. And so it’s disconnected from any understanding of accountability or responsibility to God.”

The secular world says, ‘my body, my choice,’” added Joseph Backholm, host of Friday’s Worldview Conversation on “Washington Watch.” “Scripture says the opposite.” Christians are called to live as if their body belongs to Jesus, not themselves. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20), and “present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1), and “you are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). “The starting assumption is that I am submitted to Christ,” Backholm explained.

In previous eras, even non-Christians in America understood that each person is accountable to God; this assumption undergirded oath requirements for holding certain offices or testifying in court. Accountability and rights are two sides of the same coin—a coin God minted. Today, people pick and choose which parts of religion to believe (a.k.a. inventing their own), embracing rights and jettisoning responsibility. So, President Joe Biden could say (in defense of abortion), “I believe I have the rights that I have not because the government gave them to me, which you believe, but because I’m just a child of God, I exist.” Rights do come from God, remarked Closson, but “President Biden doesn’t really believe that.” If he did, he would show more fear wielding such an argument to justify denying unborn children the rights God gave them.

Robertson had another zinger, “If we are going to bend the moral arc of this nation towards God’s vision of justice and equity, we must demand that women’s rights are protected and abortion is health care.” Backholm warned that Robertson employed “buzzwords” to “generate sympathy,” and “linguistic maneuvers like that can be persuasive unless we have a framework” for understanding what the Bible actually teaches. “When that’s our framework, then we can look at somebody who’s well intentioned [but wrong]… and we can say, ‘well, maybe a nice guy, but the things that he’s saying are not true.’”

Abortion activists “have an idea of what they think justice or equity should look like,” which they “superimpose… on holy Scripture,” said Closson. “We don’t start with our own ideas of justice…. We want to go to the Bible first and foremost and ask, what is God’s idea of justice?” Someone who fixes up cars in his spare time won’t get hoodwinked by a dishonest mechanic because he knows what he’s talking about. In the same way, a Christian who studies the Bible regularly, and understands it, won’t be misled by someone trying to twist it to mean something it doesn’t.

The Bible is not a philosophical textbook” where “we go just to debate…. It’s God’s revealed word, and so we go to it for belief and obedience,” said Closson. He has authored a publication on Biblical Principles for Pro-Life Engagement that starts with what the Bible teaches, not what man’s faulty reason has invented.

Emotional manipulation… ad hominem attack… these tactics are employed so often in public policy debates,” said Backholm. But “[blessed is the man whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2-3). How firmly are you planted on God’s word?

How Christ Transforms Passover

by Joshua Arnold

April 15, 2022

Today begins the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as Passover. For Christians, today is observed as Good Friday, a less conspicuous counterpart to Resurrection Sunday which follows. However, while Christians don’t celebrate Passover, the chief festival of the Old Covenant is rich with symbolism of Christ. Why else would Paul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), proclaim, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7)?

To understand the significance of Passover for Christians, let’s look back to Exodus 12, where God ordained the first Passover. In nine plagues, God has devastated Egypt, displaying his power over the Pharoah and all the nation’s idols, but the Israelites were still in slavery. God had promised that a tenth and final plague would kill every firstborn in Egypt and compel Pharoah to finally let them go. To prepare for the tenth plague and the exodus, God gave the people instructions to observe the Feast of Passover—a strange setting for a feast. They were to “eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11), ready to begin their journey at any moment. They were to eat unleavened bread, and even purge all leaven out of their houses (Ex. 12:15). And they were to kill a yearling lamb to eat and sprinkle its blood on their doorframes (Ex 12:6-8).

The command to sprinkle a lamb’s blood may initially seem strange, but it was not without a purpose. God explained, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13). When God’s angel saw the blood, he literally passed over those Israelite houses, sparing them from judgment. They were to stay inside all night (Ex. 12:22), so that the blood-marked doorway would stand literally between them and death. It was an act of obedience and faith; they stained their doors not because the blood had magical properties, but because God had commanded it. They had to believe God’s word that he would pass over houses sprinkled with blood.

Significantly, the sign of the blood was for the people of Israel, not for God. God knows everything, including the hearts who trust in him. He needs no physical symbols to guide him. No, this sign visibly represented for the people the distinction God was making between those who believed and obeyed him, and those who did not. The form of this sign was the blood of a sacrificial lamb.

The blood also served to teach the people of Israel that God did not spare them because of their inherent goodness. Abraham had asked God, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen. 18:23). The answer to the rhetorical question is, of course not, because “God is a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11). If the Israelites were righteous, they would not have needed blood to protect them from God’s judgment.

In fact, “none is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). We, too, are guilty of sin against a holy God. We, like the Israelites, need forgiveness, and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). So, like them, we need the blood of another to stand between us and God’s just wrath. The Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly (because we are naturally inclined to deny) that we are helpless to atone for our own sins.

But there is good news! “God will provide for himself the lamb,” said Abraham (Gen. 22:8)—and God provided a lamb, both for Abraham (Gen. 22:13-14) and for us. God sent John the Baptist to testify to his Lamb. When John saw Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29).

The inspired writers of the Bible leave no doubt concerning how Jesus is like the Passover lamb. Just as the blood of a lamb “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5) stood between the Israelites and death, so Christians are “ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Jesus was crucified on “the day of Preparation of the Passover” (Jn. 19:14), the very day the Passover lamb was killed. Even Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Mat 26:63, 27:14) fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb, as Isaiah prophesied, “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). This is the passage the Ethiopian eunuch was studying when the Holy Spirit providentially guided Philip to his chariot, where we read, “Beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Jesus’ meekness, his perfection, and even the day of his death prove that he really is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb in his death (Mat. 5:17), but, before he died, he transformed the Passover into something new. At his last supper with his disciples, which was a Passover meal (Lk. 22:15), Jesus “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Just as the Passover served as a perpetual memorial of God delivering his people from Egypt (Ex. 12:14,17), so the Lord’s Supper is a perpetual remembrance for Christians of Jesus Christ delivering us from sin.

Thus, for Christians, the Lord’s Supper has replaced the Passover; the substance has replaced the symbol; the reality has replaced the shadow (Heb. 10:1). Jesus did away with the yearly calendar of sacrifices when he “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:12). Through God’s deliverance, the people of Israel left their bondage in Egypt and sojourned in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of rest. Through’s Christ’s deliverance, the people of God now leave their bondage to sin (Rom 6:18) and live in the world as sojourners (1 Pet. 2:11) until they reach God’s promised, final rest (Heb. 4:6-10).

This is our hope: to see our precious Lord Jesus with uncorrupted eyes, and to rejoice in his glorious presence for all eternity. There he is in heaven, “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Although a Lamb, he is also “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” who “has conquered” (Rev. 5:5). Our hope in him is sure, without any tinge of wavering. He will be victorious over all his enemies. As Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?

How does seeing Christ in Passover apply to a Christian’s daily life? You may remember that one feature of the Passover meal was removing leaven from the house and eating unleavened bread. The reason Moses gives for this instruction is the urgency of their exodus, “because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait” (Ex. 12:39). To this reason Paul adds another, lasting one:

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

In the passage’s context, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for tolerating incestual adultery in the church and not expelling the unrepentant sinner. Now that we are bought with the blood of Christ, we belong to him and ought to be holy as he is holy. The “old leaven” is our old sinful passions and habits, which can work through all our life, spoiling our witness. Throwing out the old leaven represents making a clean break with our old nature and living to God alone. Quoting from the Levitical law, Paul exhorts the Corinthian congregation to “purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:13). And purge the evil from your heart, too.

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Christ rose from the dead as the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20), God’s guarantee that those who trust in him will also rise when Christ returns and live with him forever. Because that is certain, we must all consider this question: is there anything in your life that you would be ashamed to do in the presence of a holy God? Now is the time to repent. Those who harden their hearts (like Pharoah) will mourn when Christ returns. Those who repent now will rejoice when Christ returns. Risen Lord Jesus, come quickly!

God’s Good Design for Marriage (Part 3): Bone of My Bones

by Joshua Arnold

March 17, 2022

This is the third part of a multi-part series on God’s good design for marriage. Read part one and part two.

It’s no secret that popular culture frowns upon Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The Bible’s view of marriage as a covenant union of one man and one woman for life has become so incomprehensible in America and throughout Western culture that it is seen as downright offensive.

Many Christians are influenced by our culture’s negative view of marriage—and not for the better.

But we don’t have to listen to the culture’s lies; we have God’s Word, which is truth. The Bible says a lot about marriage, portraying it in such glorious splendor that the world’s flashy counterfeits look dim by comparison. Every Christian can afford to spend more time tuning out the world and tuning in to God’s Word. This series aims to examine God’s good design for marriage by taking the Word of God itself as our guide.

Moses wrote Genesis for the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Genesis describes God’s promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the beginnings of God’s relationship with mankind.

In Genesis 2, Moses retells in greater detail the creation of man and woman, which he previously summarized in the first chapter. In verse 4, the words “these are the generations” signal a new section, as they do throughout the book (see Gen. 6:4, 10:1, 11:10, 11:27, 25:12, 25:19, 36:1, 36:9, 37:2). Verses 5-17 tell how God created man and placed him in the garden of Eden “to work it and keep it.” In verses 18-25, God creates the woman and brings her to the man. They are united in the covenant of marriage, established in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” That verse is key to examining the rest of Genesis 2:18-25, where Moses continues to unfold God’s glorious design for marriage.

1. A Helper Fit for Him

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Gen. 2:18-20)

The Lord God’s statement in verse 18 is “striking,” writes Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage. “It is striking not just by contrast” (God has repeatedly called “good” all he had made), “but it raises a question: how could Adam be in a ‘not good’ condition when he was in a perfect world and had, evidently, a perfect relationship with God?” Keller explains that mankind images the triune God partly through “our intense relational capacity, created and given to us by God,” which is designed to be fulfilled in relationships with other human beings. “Even in paradise, loneliness was a terrible thing,” Keller concludes. God has ordained two institutions to prevent loneliness: the family and the church. Our culture’s “loneliness epidemic” and related disorders are at least partly due to the lack or erosion of both.

But Keller’s interpretation of verse 18 is not the only compelling one. For example, Dr. Alastair Roberts writes, “The problem of man’s aloneness is not a psychological problem of loneliness, but the fact that, without assistance, humanity’s purpose cannot be achieved.” He finds this purpose in Genesis 1, “the task of filling the earth through child-bearing.” One person, particularly one man, cannot fill the earth alone.

Whatever God meant, after diagnosing the problem, God himself prescribes the solution. He provides the man “a helper fit for him.” This translation is not intended to imply that women are inherently inferior to men (“helper” could also be translated as “companion,” and “fit for” could also be translated as “corresponding to”).

Instead, “the word ‘helper’ corresponding to Adam designates a social role for Eve within her marriage to Adam—a role that is inextricably linked to her biological sex,” writes Denny Burk, president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Likewise, Burk continues, “Adam’s creation before Eve designates a social role within his marriage to Eve—a role that is inextricably linked to his biological sex. He is to be the leader, protector, and provider within this marriage covenant. And these social roles within the covenant of marriage are not only creational realities, they are also commanded in Scripture.” These distinct, biologically linked, social roles shine most brilliantly when a husband and wife use their roles to “complement” one another, achieving more together than they could alone.

Verses 19-20 prove by negation the importance of human companionship. Before God creates Eve, he parades all the animals before Adam. Adam names the animals, thus exercising dominion over them (see Gen. 1:28), but he does not find what God says he needs, “a helper fit for him.” Only other humans can provide the companionship, love, and affection necessary for biblical marriage. This is the basis of Scripture’s condemnation of bestiality (e.g., Ex. 22:19).

2. The Lord God Caused

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. (Gen. 2:21-22)

In verses 21-22, God puts Adam to sleep and makes Eve out of his rib. If we allow the Bible to interpret itself (which we should), this creation order (Adam from dust, then Eve from Adam) has a purpose and remains relevant in the church. Paul appeals to this order, “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13), and “man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man” (1 Cor. 11:8-9), as reasons for the authority, or headship, or a husband over his wife. While these Scriptures are difficult to interpret and apply, and Christians can disagree, they are also “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).

However, male headship does not mean female inferiority. Paul continues, “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Cor. 11:11-12). Nor could Adam take credit for Eve’s creation, since he slept through it, as Matthew Henry notes in his Commentary on the Whole Bible. He adds that if man was “made last of the creatures, as the best and most excellent of all, Eve’s being made after Adam, and out of him, puts an honour upon that sex, as the glory of the man, 1 Co. 11:7. If man is the head, she is the crown.”

Henry also finds meaning in God making Eve out of Adam’s rib. She was “not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

Having unilaterally prepared and provided for everything in this marriage, God then gives away the first bride; “he brought her to the man.” God procured, endorsed, and effected Adam’s marriage to Eve. Having created man and woman, he bids them be happy together in their innocence.

3. Bone of My Bones

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 2:23)

Happy, indeed, are the first newlyweds. “When the man sees the woman, he responds in poetry,” writes Keller. “At last!” is his first response. This is what he has waited for! Such rejoicing and delight God has designed for all who enter into the covenant of marriage. A husband’s joy over his wife is not only natural but normative; God commands husbands to enjoy their wives (Prov. 5:15-19, Eccl. 9:9). If men paid more attention to this command, they would escape so many temptations to lust and adultery (Prov. 5:20-23), and they would spare their wives from much heartache and sorrow. In addition to the prudential benefits, a husband’s joy over his wife also serves to image God’s joy over his people. Isaiah prophesies about Zion’s coming salvation, “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” (Isa. 62:5).

Adam continues his poem by noting that he has finally met another like himself. Not only does she, like him, have flesh and bones (so far has he advanced in anatomy in his few hours of life), but her flesh and bones came from his. This is the “helper fit for him” God promised to make. While they are alike, Adam is also the head; he names her “Woman,” much as he had previously named the animals, exercising his dominion over them. Thus, Moses finishes recounting the story of the first marriage and inserts the principle of marriage, which we examined previously, in verse 24.

4. Naked and Not Ashamed

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen. 2:25)

Verse 25 concludes this chapter by noting that the man and his wife were naked and not ashamed. That such a condition is worthy of remark implies that there is a shameful sort of nakedness. In fact, chapter 3 will explain how Adam and Eve become ashamed of their nakedness once they become conscious of their sin. It was the first time they had something worthy to conceal from critical eyes. Ever since the Fall, it has been proper for human beings to cover ourselves with clothing because of our sinful condition.

Marriage, a covenant where two persons become one flesh, is the only remaining haven in which such intimacy is still proper. Keller makes this point by contrasting marriage with illicit sexual relationships, where he says both parties feel a need to continually prove themselves. Then he says, “The legal bond of marriage, however, creates a space of security where we can open up and reveal our true selves. We can be vulnerable, no longer having to keep up facades. We don’t have to keep selling ourselves. We can lay the last layer of our defenses down and be completely naked, both physically and in every other way.” Thus, marriage provides mutual security, intimacy, and nourishment within, while presenting a united, delighted exterior—or at least so God has designed it.

God’s Good Design for Marriage (Part 2): They Shall Become One Flesh

by Joshua Arnold

February 21, 2022

This is the second part of a multi-part series on God’s good design for marriage. Read part one.

It’s no secret that popular culture frowns upon Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. In American entertainment, business, media, politics, and courts of law, the prevailing view is that marriage is an optional “extra” for romantic partners, one that quickly proves inconvenient and restrictive when it outlasts emotion. In the minds of many, marriage is an outdated artifact of obsolete social conditions and inhibits the self-expression, tolerance, and liberation expected in the 21st century. The Bible’s view of marriage as a covenant union of one man and one woman for life has become so incomprehensible in America and throughout Western culture that it is seen as downright offensive.

Many Christians are influenced by our culture’s negative view of marriage—and not for the better. But we don’t have to listen to the culture’s lies; we have God’s Word, which is truth. The Bible says a lot about marriage, portraying it in such glorious splendor that the world’s flashy counterfeits look dim by comparison. Every Christian can afford to spend more time tuning out the world and tuning in to God’s Word. This series aims to examine God’s good design for marriage by taking the Word of God itself as our guide.

This series began by looking at Genesis 1:26-31, where God created “male and female.” This second installment will examine Genesis 2:24.

Moses wrote Genesis for the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Genesis describes God’s promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the beginnings of God’s relationship with mankind.

In Genesis 2, Moses retells in greater detail the creation of man and woman on the sixth day of creation (which he had summarized in the first chapter). Moses has theological purposes for holding a microscope to God creating mankind with this second account, some of which pertain to marriage.

In Genesis 2:24, Moses summarizes the first marriage in history, explaining, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The importance of this statement for understanding God’s design for marriage is underscored in the New Testament by Jesus (Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31). Both quote this verse to support marriage.

Thus, we learn that this verse is not a cloudy line in a quaint fable, nor an archaic notion that has passed away with the old covenant. Rather, Genesis 2:24 contains a transcendent, timeless principle of God’s created order that still applies to us today. As such, this verse is worth studying carefully.

Observations

First, notice the prescriptive language in the verbs: “shall leave… and hold fast” and “shall become.” In contrast to the narrative portions of Genesis, which describe actions and events, this verse ordains the covenant of marriage. Every human being is morally accountable to this formula.

Second, the man takes the initiative in leaving his parents and holding fast to his wife. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to write, “a woman shall leave her father and her mother and hold fast to her husband.” He didn’t. In the context of Genesis 2 (which we will explore in the next part of this series), this is intentional, and it contains the seeds of both “distinctions in masculine and feminine roles” and “Adam’s headship in marriage,” as the Danvers Statement affirms. These biblical principles, which our culture hates, reflect the beauty and wisdom of God’s good design for marriage. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them.

Third, the man must leave his parents. This doesn’t mean he should desert them, for that would dishonor them (Exodus 20:12), but his relationship with his parents should change. He and his wife constitute a new and distinct family unit. A man’s wife replaces his parents as his chief relational priority. Of the many ways to apply this, perhaps the most apt for our cultural context is that men should move out of their parents’ house before they marry. A man who can’t function independently from his parents or run a household on his own isn’t fit to be married yet. To single men who are seeking a wife, get a job, get an apartment, pay some bills, and dress yourself. Show that you are responsible enough for a woman to feel safe under your leadership.

Fourth, the man must hold fast to his wife. Older translations used the word “cleave” (thus the phrase “leaving and cleaving”). Tim Keller explains in The Meaning of Marriage, “it is a Hebrew word that literally means to be glued to something.” Marriage binds together a man and woman tighter than any other natural bond. As centuries of wedding vows have acknowledged (“as long as we both shall live”), marriage is for life (see Romans 7:2). This close, intimate, exclusive relationship provides an opportunity for mutual support, encouragement, friendship, accountability, advice, and sanctification like no other human relationship. Marriage images Jesus, our “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Fifth, the man and his wife shall become one flesh. This phrase isn’t easy to explain. How, exactly, can two people become one flesh? If that seems impossible for man to achieve, it is. But Jesus helps us understand this is not God’s doing. After quoting Genesis 2:24, Jesus applies it in “a comment that explodes like thunder with the glory of marriage,” says John Piper in This Momentary Marriage. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). Piper continues, “when a couple speaks their vows, it is not a man or a woman or a pastor or parent who is the main actor—the main doer. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union.” Every marriage is a covenant, an exchange of vows before God, effected and enforced by God. Because God makes a marriage, “it is not in man’s power to destroy,” says Piper.

Conclusion

Violations of the marriage bond receive frequent and severe condemnation throughout the Bible. Jesus himself quotes Genesis 2:24, in conjunction with Genesis 1:27, to condemn divorce. Adultery is forbidden by the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). Jesus added, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). Hundreds of other Scriptures could be added to this list. The point is clear: because God has ordained marriage as part of his good design, he takes it seriously, and he has commanded us to honor it. So, we must obey his commands and honor marriage out of both “love and fear” (Deuteronomy 13:3-4).

More can be said about marriage from the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 2:24, and future parts of this series will explore it further.

But what should be crystal clear—and what all the Bible’s teachings are founded on—is that marriage is a covenantal relationship uniting a husband and wife, which is designed and achieved by God himself. Marriage is not a social construct to be cast aside on a whim but a lifelong, moral duty watched over by its holy creator, God.

Read part three.

Keeping Children SAFE From Sterilization — in Ohio and Around the Nation

by Joshua Arnold

February 18, 2022

On Thursday, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act officially began working its way through the Ohio legislature, with a first hearing in the House Committee on Families, Aging, and Human Services. One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Gary Click, testified to the committee that the SAFE Act was “common sense legislation designed to ensure that children and adolescents receive only the best and safest healthcare.”

The SAFE Act “prohibits ‘gender transition procedures’ for minors and the public funding of, insurance coverage of, or referral for such procedures,” explains a brief by Family Research Council. Such procedures are neither reversible nor evidence based, and they have severe negative side effects. The brief continues, “rather than provide the help such children and adolescents need, transgender ideology promotes radical medical interventions, including the use of drugs to block normal puberty and cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery to create the superficial appearance of conformity with the minor’s perceived ‘gender identity.’”

The unmitigated greed of the healthcare industry has led to countless children being mutilated and sterilized for life,” warned Policy Director of Ohio-based Center for Christian Virtue David Mahan. “Sadly, hospitals, schools, and even Planned Parenthood facilities across the state are pressuring families to put children on experimental and dangerous procedures.” He urged the state assembly “to take action before more children are permanently harmed.”

Legislators all around the country are introducing bills like Ohio’s SAFE Act in response to the transgender movement’s increased targeting of children. “A bill like this was not on my radar when I stepped foot into the legislature,” Click said. But each year since 2020, bills to protect children from harmful “gender transition” experiments have been introduced in over 15 states. The Arkansas legislature was the first to successfully pass the SAFE Act into law, doing so over the governor’s veto (a judge has blocked that law while a lawsuit against it proceeds through the judicial system). Currently, the SAFE Act and similar bills (34 in total) have been introduced in 17 states.

In addition to practical, medical, and ethical reasons to support the SAFE Act, there are also theological reasons for Christians to support the legislation,” explained David Closson, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at FRC. “Christians should support the passage of laws that tell the truth about the human body. And the truth about our bodies is that God made two distinct yet complementary sexes, male and female.”

Like every righteous cause, the SAFE Act faces fierce opposition. Pro-LGBT activists and their allies in the media attacked the Arkansas bill from every angle imaginable; even the nationwide behemoth 60 Minutes piled on. Proponents of the SAFE Act in other states can expect the LGBT lobby to employ similar aggressive tactics. But they shouldn’t be afraid. Despite the Left’s media blitz, the Arkansas legislature still passed the SAFE Act with a veto-proof majority. Standing up to protect children from harmful irreversible procedures takes a backbone, but it’s not impossible.

Check out FRC’s map tracking bills to protect minors from “gender transition” experimentation to see whether there is a SAFE Act or similar bill in your state. Encourage your state legislators to stand up for children. If they are already promoting these bills, encourage them to continue to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”

For more information, read FRC’s issue analysis, “Do Not Sterilize Children: Why Physiological Gender Transition Procedures for Minors Should Be Prohibited.”

Praying for a Progressive President

by Joshua Arnold

February 15, 2022

Recently, President Joe Biden signed off on a successful mission in the ongoing fight against the ISIS terrorist organization, taking out ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. According to U.S. intelligence, al-Qurayshi “helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq and also led some of the group’s global terrorist operations.” FRC’s Executive Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin explained, “this was a guy that replaced Baghdadi as the head of ISIS.”

[Biden] deserves a lot of credit for this,” Boykin added. “It was a good decision. This was a good kill.” FRC President Tony Perkins agreed. “I commend the president for taking that action to stop this ISIS leader who had been linked to several terrorist activities in recent months that killed civilians and others.” Family Research Council often criticizes President Biden’s pro-abortion agenda, his promotion of LGBT ideology, and many other policies we believe promote what is morally objectionable. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). But in authorizing this military raid, President Biden did well.

While we often disagree with President Biden’s progressive priorities, we must remember that God commands Christians to honor their rulers (Romans 13:7, 1 Peter 2:17), and even to pray for them. The clearest biblical text on this is 1 Timothy 2:1-4, which reads:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

These verses contain three reasons to pray for our rulers. First, it pleases God. This should be the aim of every Christian. If we don’t delight to do what pleases him, it calls into question whether we really love him. Second, that they might be saved. Many rulers are not Christians—both in Paul’s day and in ours. They need Jesus’ righteousness to cover their sins and save them from the wrath of God just like every other person. Third, for the sake of our own hearts, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” We are called not to anger and bitterness and outrage, but “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). That’s only possible if you “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

There is another, less discussed reason to pray for our rulers, which Paul does not address in 1 Timothy 2, but which the recent American military strike illustrates perfectly. That is, that when a nation’s rulers govern well, everyone benefits, including God’s people. For example, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). How does this prompt us to pray for rulers? To answer that question, we have to understand Jeremiah 29.

The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to counter false prophets who were promising the people a quick deliverance and return to Canaan. Jeremiah explained to the exiles that their exile would continue for 70 years before God would bring them back. Therefore, he sets forth three ways they should conduct themselves:

  • In verse 5 he says, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.” That is, work! Don’t be idle. Improve your property by your own labor.
  • In verse 6 he says, “Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” That is, don’t neglect the family. Enduring this exile and returning from it is a multi-generational project. Build relationships with your neighbors and plant deep roots.
  • And in verse 7 he says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). The Jewish exiles are commanded to seek the welfare of Babylon, their enemy and captor. Seeking the welfare of the enemy of God’s people would seem like rebellion against God if God himself had not commanded it. But God through Jeremiah explains that, during their exile, Babylon was their new home. Thus, their welfare was tied to its welfare.

How, then, could Jewish exiles with no political power (except for a few uniquely gifted persons like Daniel) seek the welfare of Babylon? God explains; they seek its welfare by praying to the Lord on its behalf. And what is praying for a nation if not also praying for its rulers? Their own welfare was tied to their prayers for rulers of Babylon.

How does this apply to us today? First, let’s remember that not everything in the Old Testament applies to new covenant believers in the same way that it did to Israelites under the old covenant, and living in the unique, God-ruled theocracy of ancient Israel. Next, let’s note that the letter in Jeremiah 29 is written not to Jews in Canaan, but to Jews in exile in Babylon. New covenant believers are exiles (1 Peter 1:1), whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Like the recipients of Jeremiah’s letter, we are living in a place that is not our home, but we are eagerly looking forward to the day when we will finally get to go home at last. Our situation is quite similar to that of the Jewish exiles in Babylon.

Of course, Christians have an additional mission. Israel under the old covenant was tasked with remaining a holy people, distinct from the surrounding nations. Christians are tasked with the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

As we wait for Jesus to return, and as we make disciples, we should also work, raise families, and seek the welfare of our nation. And that includes praying for our nation’s leaders, whether we like their policies or not. We can pray that they would rule wisely and justly and for the good of all. We can pray that they would pursue policies that allow the gospel to flourish, and that glorify God. We can pray that God would reveal himself to them that they might be saved.

God’s Good Design for Marriage (Part 1): Male and Female He Created Them

by Joshua Arnold

February 10, 2022

This is the first part of a multi-part series on God’s good design for marriage.

It’s no secret that today’s popular culture opposes Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The Christian view of marriage has become so incomprehensible in America and throughout Western culture that it is seen as downright offensive. Recent examples include American tech giant YouTube removing a John MacArthur sermon clip on transgenderism as “hate speech,” the Canadian parliament approving a new law which could criminalize preaching and teaching against homosexuality or transgenderism, and Finland’s top prosecutor prosecuting a bishop on criminal charges for publishing a booklet titled, “Male and Female He Created Them.” All that was just last month.

Many Christians are influenced by our culture’s negative view of marriage—and not for the better. But we don’t have to listen to the culture’s lies; we have God’s Word, which is truth. The Bible says a lot about marriage, portraying it in such glorious splendor that the world’s flashy counterfeits look dim by comparison. Every Christian can afford to spend more time tuning out the world and tuning in to God’s Word. That is the goal of this series: to examine God’s good design for marriage, taking as our guide the Word of God itself.

This series will begin, appropriately, in the beginning, by looking at Genesis 1:26-31. Moses wrote Genesis for the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Genesis describes God’s promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the beginnings of God’s relationship with man. In these verses, God’s creation of the world reaches its crescendo in the creation of man (that is, the race of mankind—men and women). Many Christian doctrines are grounded in these verses, but for the present, let’s consider three specific points.

1. God Created Man

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

Four times in two verses, Moses repeats that God created man. With any human creator, we readily understand that the creator has total power and authority over his creation. He made it, so he decides how it works and what purpose it serves. That is God’s relationship with man, as the frequent analogy of the potter and the clay depicts (Isaiah 29:15-16, Jeremiah 18:1-12, Romans 9:20-21). God has the sole, unquestionable authority and power to determine how mankind works and what purpose we serve. Men may not naturally like that very much, but reality does not conform itself to our desires. We are not gods.

Besides, complaining about God’s authority is foolishness because God’s purposes for mankind are far better than any we could invent for ourselves. We are created “in his own image.” An image, such as we find in a photograph or mirror, is not the thing itself, but it is “like” that thing. It bears a resemblance to it such that an observer can recognize the original in its image. In Genesis 5:3, we find similar language, “When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.” Just as a child looks like his parents, so God created man to look like God himself.

These are two ironclad reasons for the dignity of mankind and the sanctity of human life. We are created by God, so anyone who harms or criticizes another human being is harming or criticizing God’s handiwork, God’s prized possession. We bear God’s image, so anyone who harms a person is defacing an image of God’s character.

It’s fair to ask, in what way do humans bear the image of God? After all, “God is spirit” (John 4:24), so he doesn’t have a body like we do. And God is invisible (Colossians 1:15), so to say we literally look like him is nonsensical. The first answer is that, like God and unlike other creatures, we also are spirits. The second answer is that God uses metaphors of the body to describe himself in ways we can understand. In various places, the Bible speaks of God’s eyes (Genesis 6:8), ears (Psalm 18:6), mouth (Numbers 12:8), lips (Job 23:12), face (Matthew 18:10), nostrils (Isaiah 65:5), arm (Acts 13:7), hands (Hebrews 10:31), fingers (Psalm 8:3), back (Exodus 33:23), and feet (Exodus 24:10). Christians don’t understand these passages to mean that God literally possesses all these body parts. Rather, these metaphors describe God’s power in ways we can comprehend. God’s ears refer to what God hears. God’s mouth refers to what God says. Christian meditations on this question could fill libraries (here’s a summary), but, for our purposes, it’s sufficient to establish that God created mankind as an image of himself.

We also read, “male and female he created them.” This phrase helps us to interpret the rest of these verses; when it says God created “man” in his image, we can understand that the text is referring to the creation of both men and women—the entire human race. Another way to say the same thing is that the image of God in mankind is incomplete without considering both male and female. Thus, God’s relationship to his children is explained both as a father (Psalm 103:13) and as a mother (Isaiah 66:13). (This is not to say that God is feminine; God may nurture his children like a mother, but he is their Father (Isaiah 64:8). Scripture exclusively refers to God with masculine pronouns.)

Genesis teaches that men and women are both made in the image of God, and both participate in the inherent dignity of that image. Thus, Christianity has historically taught (usually in opposition to prevailing cultural norms) that men and women possess equal dignity and worth. Moreover, Christians have historically fought to protect the dignity and value of women. This is also why the transgender movement sweeping the Western world cannot be reconciled with Christian teaching. Transgender ideology teaches that gender is a social construct that can be altered and that bodies should be altered to conform to a person’s chosen identity. Christianity teaches that a person’s sex is an innate, immutable characteristic created by God to reflect his character. Thus, cosmetically altering a person’s body is defacing God’s image, lying about his character, and usurping his lordship.

Marriage is implied in this creation of male and female. John Piper writes in This Momentary Marriage, “Marriage is God’s doing because it was his design in the creation of man as male and female.” Jesus himself cites Genesis 1:26 as a prooftext for marriage (Mark 10:6, Matthew 19:4). We’ll explore this more in part two of this series on Genesis 2, where Moses explains that a man and his wife “shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

Mankind exists to portray God’s image as male and female, according to God’s created order. God has the authority to order our lives because he is our maker. But he uses that authority for our good, as we will see in our next point.

2. God Blessed Them

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

It’s challenging to interpret what Scripture means by the phrase “God blessed them.” Perhaps a rough approximation would be “God made them happy.” The verses that follow explain how, beginning with a succession of imperative verbs: “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion….” If it was unclear from “be fruitful” (the Hebrew word for “offspring” is “seed,” see Genesis 3:15), the use of the word “multiply” makes it clear that God wanted the first human couple to reproduce. Genesis 1 teaches that human reproduction was part of God’s blessing on mankind from the very beginning. And they weren’t told to merely procreate at a replacement rate; they were told to “fill the earth.” Here are two blessings for mankind from God: sex within marriage and, as a result, plenty of children (see Psalm 127:3-5). The culture may mock these truths to its own detriment, but the Bible is very clear on them.

Another part of this blessing is mankind’s role as middle magistrates. God proceeds to tell Adam and Eve to “subdue [the earth]” and “have dominion… over every living thing.” Because of the image of God they bear, they are exalted to a position of authority over the rest of creation (see Psalm 8:5-8). Notice these verbs are all imperatives. While blessings from God, these are also commands from God. Mankind has authority over all creation but is itself under God’s authority. The centurion understood this (Matthew 8:5-13), but Adam and Eve rebelled (Genesis 3:1-7). Learning to live under authority and wielding authority well are crucial aspects of a healthy marriage, as we’ll see later in this series.

3. It Was Very Good

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

The last point to consider from Genesis 1 is that everything God made, in his infallible judgment, was “very good.” That includes God’s creation of mankind as male and female in his image, the institution of marriage, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. God designed marriage, and he declared that it was very good.

Perhaps this strikes you as incredible. After all, our world is filled with sad, painful stories of people suffering from spousal abuse, parental abuse, difficult marriages, gender dysphoria, and rebellious children. How could marriage and family relationships, with all the disorder and hurt we see in them, be designed by God and declared “very good”?

First, what we witness today isn’t God’s original design. The Bible explains that our familial relationships are cursed with pain and strife (Genesis 3:16) as the result of our first parents’ rebellion against God (Genesis 3:6). Through their disobedience, sin entered the world, bringing death and suffering along with it (Romans 5:12). As a result of sin, many things God designed for pleasure (like childbearing and marriage) are now full of pain.

But as we struggle against the effects of the curse, we can still affirm that God’s design is good. As we strive to live according to God’s Word, we will come to experience the goodness of his plan. It’s a duty that is filled with pleasure and joy.

Second, God designed marriage for other reasons, which weren’t revealed in Genesis 1. Just because God’s good design for marriage has been sadly marred and warped doesn’t mean that marriage can’t still fulfill some of its good purposes. But that’s for future parts in this series to explore.

Read part two.

Progressive “Deals” Are Usually Highways Going Nowhere Quickly

by Joshua Arnold

February 7, 2022

Conservatives in Congress keep falling for the same old trick. The other side will reach across the aisle and promise to have a sincere desire for bipartisan engagement on commonsense problem-solving for the good of the American people. Conservatives will eventually take their olive branch and then, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes enthusiastically, climb on board a bus that only turns Left.

Infrastructure” Bill

The most recent example is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15 after 19 Republican senators and 13 Republican representatives voted with Democrats to pass it through both chambers (six House Democrats voted “no”). It was framed as a package to fund America’s infrastructure, an issue with bipartisan support that shouldn’t be controversial. This framing helped the bill pass a narrowly-divided Congress because everyone benefits from improved infrastructure.

But not so fast, warned The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board. A memo from Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), laid out guidelines for distributing the funds that are almost as partisan as they are tedious. The memo states:

This Policy prioritizes projects that move more people and freight by modernizing and increasing the operation efficiency of existing roads and highways over projects that expand the general purpose capacity of roads and highways. Consistent with this Policy, FHWA will implement policies and undertake actions to encourage—and where permitted by law, require—recipients of Federal highway funding to select projects that improve the condition and safety of existing transportation infrastructure within the right-of-way before advancing projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles. (emphasis added)

The main idea this stilted, bureaucratic jargon fails to conceal is this: some projects will be prioritized over others.

On the list of winners are projects that “moderniz[e]” or “increase[e] the operation efficiency,” which is code for mass transit, or as the memo states elsewhere, “new and emerging technologies like electric vehicle charging stations.” On the list of losers are “projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles,” which the WSJ editors helpfully summarized: “She means cars.” In fact, before the FHWA will dispense roadway funds to help widen that over-traveled artery you take to work each day, it will “encourage—and where permitted by law, require” your state or local government to do something like add bus stops or run light rail down the median.

Thus, the “highway” funds (“only $110 billion out of $1.2 Trillion”) from the ostensibly-bipartisan infrastructure bill will benefit urban centers, where such projects are viable, over rural areas, where cars are a necessity. Part of the rationale (stated clearly in the memo) is hostility toward fossil fuels, a luxury opinion only rich urbanites can afford to indulge. But another (unstated) part of the rationale could be the growing rural-urban, red-blue political divide; the progressives who control and staff executive agencies don’t mind rewarding their allies and punishing their opponents. The WSJ editors conclude, “don’t be surprised when federal agencies continue to steer ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure funds toward progressive priorities.”

COVID-19 Relief” Bill

Of course, very few Americans care about “highways”—at most, they will care about a highway, the one they use most often. However, the case offers a particularly striking example of standard progressive tactics.

The other major bill passed into law during President Biden’s first year in office was the American Rescue Plan Act, which also passed with bipartisan support because it was framed as a COVID-19 relief measure, although much of the $1.9 trillion spent had nothing to do with coronavirus. That bill appropriated over $450 billion without making clear that these funds cannot be used to pay for abortions or go to abortion businesses. This is on top of the over $80 million that Planned Parenthood already received from the Paycheck Protection Program through previous COVID-19 relief bills. This supposedly non-controversial, bipartisan, must-pass bill may have been the largest abortion bill Congress has passed in a decade.

Women in the Draft

Last year, Democrats in Congress tried the same trick with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA funds our military every year, so Republicans are typically in favor of it. But in 2021, gender ideologues inserted a provision that would require women to register for the Selective Service. At the last moment, a handful of Republicans made removing that provision their top priority, but it nearly became the law of the land.

Obamacare

Progressives have been using this tactic for a long time. For example, when Congress was considering the Affordable Care Act in 2011, pro-life Democrats went along with their party’s overhaul of the health care system based on the guarantee that the bill would not fund abortions, and President Obama signed an executive order to that effect. Yet, Obamacare continues to subsidize abortions through health insurance plans.

Conclusion: Don’t Give in to Fake Compromise

For conservatives in Washington, bipartisanship is often a poorly-concealed snare. Bipartisanship requires shared values, and, generally speaking, the modern progressive Left isn’t interested in compromise, consensus, or finding common ground. The progressive Left is aggressively seeking power at any cost. They want to radically transform America. And to impose unpopular ideas on a “government of the people,” they have to lie about their intentions.

Sometimes people on the Right preemptively surrender the battlefield in search of peace. For example, for years, progressives have endorsed the far-Left Equality Act, which would establish special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity and expand abortion access in federal law over and above other federally guaranteed rights such as religious freedom, women’s rights, and parental rights. Some Republicans are so alarmed by the implications of this bill that they have proposed their own, “compromise” version, titled Fairness for All. Fairness for All is essentially just the Equality Act with insufficient religious carve-outs. But this so-called “compromise” only features concessions from one side. Progressives have dug their heels in so firmly on the issue that they aren’t even pretending to care about the proposal by these few Republicans. Both the Equality Act and Fairness for All would still radically reorient American law around LGBT identity categories. If that happens, I wouldn’t put my money on the survival of religious exemptions.

The problem with compromise in today’s political climate is that progressives don’t want compromise. When they offer a “compromise,” it’s almost always in bad faith. Sometimes compromise becomes a white whale, which some Republicans chase, heedless of prudence or the reality of the situation. And when they finally get their bearings, they realize they’re miles down a highway going nowhere quickly.

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