Category archives: Legislation

Dems Slip Harmful Human Rights Provision into Russia Energy Sanction Bill

by Arielle Del Turco

March 10, 2022

Congress is rushing through critical pieces of legislation, opening the door for unrelated and harmful amendments to be attached. This is exactly what happened yesterday when the House passed the Suspending Energy Imports from Russia Act (H.R. 6968). It’s a bipartisan bill to prohibit importing energy from Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. However, House Democrats seized the opportunity to tack on a controversial amendment to a bill they knew would pass.

The unnecessary language in H.R. 6968 would modify the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act enacted in 2016. This law enables the U.S. government to place financial sanctions on foreign individuals responsible for “extrajudicial killings, torture, or other gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” This is an important law, and it is one of the most effective means by which the U.S. government can pressure officials in other countries to stop violating human rights.

However, H.R. 6968 lowers the bar from “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” to simply “serious human rights abuse.” And although the Global Magnitsky Act targeted individuals who were “responsible” for these actions, H.R. 6968 targets anyone “directly or indirectly engaged in” serious human rights abuse. On the surface, these might sound like small changes, but the effects can be far-reaching.

Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of Congress’s most stalwart human rights advocates, explained the issue on the House floor yesterday:

I’m for this bill, but there are provisions in this, one in particular, that should not be in here. Mr. Speaker, I’m the prime sponsor of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act…. Under the Act, an actionable offense occurs only when there’s a gross violation of internationally-recognized human rights, which has the meaning given to it in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Specifically, the Foreign Assistance Act includes torture, cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of a person.

H.R. 6968, however, radically strikes and replaces the current definition of what constitutes an actionable offense with language that is not defined and is being done tonight without the benefit of a hearing or due diligence. Under the new language, the president may impose sanctions on any individual if responsible for or complicit in what they call “serious human rights abuse.” Exactly what does that mean? There’s no definition. How is that phrase defined? How elastic is it? Especially when it’s not linked to any international treaty or covenant. What does “indirectly engaged” mean? How indirect? Guilt by association?

The Global Magnitsky Act got it right. It was bipartisan and it linked sanctions to internationally-recognized human rights. I hope the Senate will take a look at this. This is an egregious mistake.

We want the U.S. government to be as effective as possible when combating human rights abuses abroad. However, no one should be able to abuse mechanisms like the Global Magnitsky Act sanctions to target foreign individuals based on partisan politics or radical social agendas. As radical activists continue to redefine terms and use “human rights” to mean anything they want it to mean, it’s easy to see how H.R. 6968 could be misused.

The new language in H.R. 6968 also eliminates the five-year sunset provision of the Global Magnitsky Act. Sunset provisions give Congress the opportunity every period of years as specified to review how the sanctioning authority is being utilized and make sure it hasn’t been misused. If the Act no longer sunsets, this important oversight review would be eliminated.

Global Magnitsky Act sanctions have been used for good in the past, such as when the U.S. government sanctioned Turkish officials in the case of imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson. Just a few weeks later, Brunson was released. It’s important to maintain the integrity of the Global Magnitsky Act and ensure it is not abused by partisan agendas in the executive branch. When the Senate considers H.R. 6968, they should remove this provision.

Congressional Leadership Hijacks Ukraine Aid to Push Progressive Agenda

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

March 9, 2022

Russia’s assault on Ukraine is saturating the news, airwaves, and the public’s focus. It’s understandable that people want to help, and are helping, provide relief and aid to Ukraine. It’s also sensible for Congress to want to help. It’s for this reason (the political pressure to provide relief) that Democratic leadership in Congress wants to combine aid to Ukraine with their domestic social policy preferences in one giant stew of government spending called “the omnibus.”

There are reasons to resist simply going along with this bill.

For one, the omnibus bill contains a problematic reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress passed VAWA in 1994 to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and increase the availability of victims’ services. These are admirable aims. But when VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013, language was added (and is in the current reauthorization text) that mandates harmful gender identity ideology, maintains Planned Parenthood’s ability to obtain VAWA grants, selectively applies grant money, and could open the door to funding abortion more directly. You’ve probably heard about biological men competing in women’s sporting events on the basis of “gender identity” and how that is negatively impacting woman athletes. Under the VAWA reauthorization, battered and vulnerable women would face another threat of the same type—that of biological men who identify as women entering private spaces in women’s shelters.

The omnibus bill also turns a program designed to help women succeed financially around the globe into a “Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund.” This new program, backed by previous commitments by the Biden administration to promote gender ideology around the world, will open the door wide for the administration to push a harmful ideology in places like Eastern Europe at a time when security should be the focus. This program will also pave the way for the international abortion industry to continue erroneously promoting abortion as necessary for women’s economic empowerment.

Providing funds to Ukraine is a sensible and laudable goal, and we understand that our government also needs to be funded. However, there is a simple solution: peel off Ukraine (as the House appears to be doing) from other funding. And to completely fix the problem, cut all the substantive policy changes (like VAWA) that have been tacked on to what is supposed to be a spending bill. The current text is 2,741 pages long and has so many sections that it runs through the entire alphabet once and has to start over.

Streamlining the text (and process) along these lines will, in theory, prevent what should be a bipartisan appropriations process from turning into a fight for a partisan wish list.

Beware of False Prophets: Lessons from a “Pro-Choice Pastor” in the U.S. Senate

by David Closson

March 4, 2022

Monday night’s failed cloture vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act (or, more fittingly, the “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act”) provided an important glimpse into the worldviews of America’s two major political parties. It also elicited some revealing comments from Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), an original co-sponsor of the bill. Although his staff told me they did not have an official reason for why Warnock missed the vote, the senator himself wanted to ensure everyone knew where he stood. Hours before the vote, Warnock tweeted, “I’ve always been a pro-choice pastor, and I believe a doctor’s office is too small for a patient, their doctors, and the U.S. government. I’m a proud co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Senate should pass it as soon as possible.”

Senator Warnock’s Twitter feed routinely provides insight into how Georgia’s junior senator is thinking about various issues. Last April, Warnock (who also serves as the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta) tweeted an Easter greeting that claimed, “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” He has tweeted support for the Equality Act (legislation that would severely erode religious freedom) and previously tweeted about his support for abortion.

Although Warnock’s position is not new, his repeated claim of being a “pro-choice pastor” merits a closer look. What does it mean to be a “pro-choice pastor”? The Bible clearly teaches the personhood of the unborn, that preborn babies are made in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect. How does Warnock square the Bible’s teaching with his support for abortion? In short, he doesn’t even seem to try. In fact, since joining the Senate, he hasn’t tried to tone down his support for abortion at all. The prospect of facing voters in a very competitive state in less than a year has likewise done nothing to moderate his views. Why is that?

Well, even before joining the U.S. Senate, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (as he likes to be referred to) was staunchly pro-choice. His campaign website proudly notes, “Reverend Warnock has been an advocate for women’s health and reproductive justice his entire life and is proud to have been endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.” Moreover, Warnock is a three-time graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. As I’ve noted before, Union Seminary is theologically very liberal (for the 2021-22 academic term, students have the option to join the “Queer Caucus;” the “Seminarians for Reproductive Justice” and “Transgender Nonconforming” caucuses are inactive this semester).

Given Warnock’s liberal seminary training and membership in a political party beholden to the abortion lobby, it is no surprise that he is committed to abortion. But if it is no surprise, why is it important to draw attention to his view and public statements? Does it really matter what one liberal senator thinks about abortion? In my view, it matters a great deal because of Warnock’s role as a pastor and frequent use of the term “pro-choice pastor.”

Let me be clear. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a biblically faithful “pro-choice pastor.” Over 2,500 years ago, the prophet Isaiah addressed the people of Israel as they faced the prospect of exile because of their sin. Speaking to those who were committing intentional sin, Isaiah says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20). In Isaiah, “woe” connotes grief and consternation and is often directed at someone in grievous error. Calling something evil “good” is to invert the moral order and invite divine judgment.

This verse is relevant considering the heightened responsibility of pastors to provide sound teaching to their congregations. When giving instructions to Titus about the qualifications for pastoral ministry, Paul explained, “[A pastor] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” For Paul, one of the chief responsibilities of a pastor is teaching the Bible and rebuking those who are in error. Again, on the issue of abortion, the Bible is crystal clear (see Ex. 21:22; Ps. 139:13-16, 22:10, 51:5-6; Job 3:3; Jer. 1:4-5; Isa. 49:1; Luke 1:39-45; Gal. 1:15). Thus, a “pro-choice pastor” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Of course, there are many pro-abortion advocates who hold ministerial positions in churches around the country, but I believe the Bible’s requirement of adherence to sound doctrine disqualifies anyone from true gospel work who is fervently “pro-choice.” One simply cannot condone, support, and champion the killing of preborn children in the pulpit and satisfy the requirements for pastoral ministry laid out in the New Testament.

If this is true, what does this mean for how we should think about Reverend Warnock’s ministry? To use biblical imagery, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consider Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15-16a, where He says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” According to Jesus, false teachers will be recognized by their fruit. An obviously bad fruit is teaching that does not accord with sound doctrine. Moreover, using one’s title and position of leadership in the church to provide cover for wickedness is surely a sign of rotten fruit.

Abortion remains a significant feature in our political discourse, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will not be the final word. And although Christians must continue to pray that the Court will make the right decision and overturn Roe v. Wade, pastors and Christian leaders must remember their sacred duty to lead God’s people to think faithfully on these issues. In the Great Commission, Jesus famously commissioned His disciples to “make disciples of all nations.” He also instructed them to teach people “all that I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:19-20). Included within the “all that I have commanded you” is everything Jesus taught concerning the value and dignity of human life. Thus, rather than follow Senator Reverend Warnock’s lead, faithful undershepherds must recommit themselves to the task at hand, which is not abortion advocacy but contending for the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Senate Democrats Fail to Federally Enshrine Abortion on Demand Until Birth

by David Closson

March 3, 2022

While most of the world was preoccupied with watching Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfold, Senate Democrats forced a vote Monday night on the deceptively-titled Women’s Health Protection Act. A more fitting name for this bill would be the “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act” because it would codify Roe v. Wade’s precedent of allowing abortion throughout pregnancy. Although the bill failed to advance by a 46-48 vote, by bringing the bill to the Senate floor, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a clear message to the country about where congressional Democrats stand on abortion in the lead-up to this fall’s midterm elections.

It is a dark, dark time for women’s reproductive rights,” Schumer said before the vote to invoke cloture (i.e., end debate and proceed to voting on final passage of the bill). “We cannot simply stand by and let this happen. There is too much at stake.” Of course, Schumer knew the cloture vote would be unsuccessful. Even if he had kept his caucus together—he didn’t; Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined the Republicans in voting “no”—Schumer didn’t have the 60 votes required to invoke cloture. But the Majority Leader forced a vote anyway, keen to placate the pro-abortion lobby that is anxiously awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Thus, even though it was doomed to fail, Senator Schumer forced 94 U.S. senators—including vulnerable Democrats up for reelection, such as Mark Kelly (Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), and Catherine Cortez-Masto (Nev.)—to officially go on the record on the most extreme abortion bill ever considered by Congress. But in one sense, Schumer’s political gambit was helpful in further highlighting the worldview divide between the major political parties.

Consider the legislation itself. The bill, which previously passed the House in September on a nearly-partisan vote (Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas was the lone Democrat to vote “no”), would eliminate almost every state-level restriction on abortion. 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. Furthermore, as I’ve highlighted elsewhere, if the bill were to become law, state laws requiring informed consent, waiting periods, or counseling prior to receiving an abortion would be overturned. The bill’s prohibition on protecting unborn lives at any point prior to fetal viability (generally set at 22-24 weeks gestation) means that laws like Texas’ Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to stand for the past six months, would be invalidated.

Additionally, the post-viability clause stipulates that health care providers (i.e., abortionists) could carry out abortions after 24 weeks if they determined that the health of the mother (the bill itself uses the term “pregnant patient” to appease LGBT activists) was in danger. Because the bill does not define the terms “health” and “risk,” the health exemption could be broadly interpreted to include mental or emotional health, effectively enshrining abortion until birth into federal law.

In short, the Women’s Health Protection Act, more aptly referred to as the “Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act,” is the most pro-abortion piece of legislation ever seen at the federal level. Its existence underscores the profound worldview divide between Republicans and Democrats, who increasingly disagree on the definition of personhood. Whereas Republicans routinely vote to recognize preborn babies as human beings deserving of the protection of our nation’s laws, Democrats now regularly vote in favor of “reproductive freedom” and a “woman’s right to choose,” euphemisms for abortion. Democrats continue to champion abortion despite advances in embryology and technology that make the medical and moral case of the humanity of preborn children undeniable.

Only two congressional Democrats, Rep. Cuellar and Sen. Manchin, voted against the Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act. Democratic senators Feinstein (Calif.), Lujan (N.M.), and Warnock (Ga.) did not participate in the vote but are all original co-sponsors of the bill. Although it comes as no surprise that Democrats are almost unanimously voting in line with their party’s platform, we should not become numb to the fact that one of America’s two major political parties sees abortion as a cause that must be taken up with a religious-like zeal. Monday’s vote highlights the current political landscape on abortion and underscores how much work the pro-life movement still has to do.

Correcting the Record on Florida’s “Controversial” Legislation

by Bryan Avila , Joe Harding

February 25, 2022

It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. That’s certainly true for Florida House bills 1557 and 7, characterized as “Don’t Say Gay” and “censoring history.”

From “news” articles to “expert” commentary on Twitter, there have been so many lies about our bills that it’s now painfully obvious that hardly anyone has actually read the legislation. 

We’ve stood by as reporters parroted ridiculous phrases and false monikers from the Left as gospel without checking their source material. Newspapers and Tweeters have gotten their clicks and engagement with these exaggerated perspectives. But now it’s time to set the record straight. 

First, let’s address the fact that just about every newspaper headline has called HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You know what’s not in any of the bill text? The words “gay” and “say.” 

Do you think teachers should instruct 5 and 6-year-olds about sexual orientation and gender identity in our schools? If you said “no,” then you agree with HB 1557, which protects our youngest students from this kind of ridiculous notion. We think we represent most parents when we say that those conversations should be reserved for when parents decide to have them with their kids.

Furthermore, HB 1557 empowers parents to play an active and present role in their child’s schooling by ensuring they have access to records and a role in decisions about mental health and other services for their kids.

Likewise, we see similar lies about House Bill 7. The bill does not ignore or whitewash history, as is frequently misreported; it does the opposite. We expect important history lessons about slavery, the Holocaust, and the suffrage struggle to be taught—and our laws require it. In the bill, we even outline a vision for “Stories of Inspiration” to be told in a new curriculum, highlighting extraordinary Americans who overcame all odds, including racial and other barriers, to make history. 

Would you agree that all people are created equal and that no person is better than another solely based on race, sex, or national origin? If you said “yes,” then you agree with the values outlined in HB 7, which say those should help make up a framework for classroom instruction.

When someone is studying racism and other ugly parts of history, we should and do feel uncomfortable. But that does not mean that our kids should be instructed to feel guilt, anguish, or personal responsibility because of their race, origin, or sex for the sins of the past or of others.  

HB 7 helps prevent this from happening by providing teachers with a clear and unifying framework to teach the facts about history, current events, and more, and not divisive ideologies. 

This is not controversial stuff—81 percent of parents agree they should have a say in what their school teaches and 84 percent of principals and teachers want more family engagement. And it shouldn’t require polling data to say that everyone can agree that all people are created equal. 

Parents and school officials all need to work together to create a supportive learning environment at both school and home. These bills are intended to unify and integrate teaching and care between the student, parent, and school officials. House Bills 7 and 1557 include measures that can be universally agreed upon to provide the transparency and guidelines necessary to create the best educational environment for all of Florida’s children.

Instead of reading what is actually in the bills, many reporters and critics have relied on caustic and divisive statements of the bills’ detractors for clickbait. It’s clear we can’t trust the media to tell the truth about our legislative proposals. Both bills having passed the Florida House today, focus now turns to the Florida Senate. We encourage you to read the bills for yourself at myfloridahouse.gov

Florida House Representative Bryan Avila is a Republican lawmaker from Miami Springs and Speaker pro tempore of the Florida House. He is the sponsor of HB 7, Individual Freedoms. Florida House Representative Joe Harding is a freshman Republican lawmaker from Ocala. He is the sponsor of HB 1557, Parental Rights in Education.

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.”

Thinking Biblically About Missouri’s SAFE Act

by David Closson

February 11, 2022

Earlier this week, Missouri state representative Suzie Pollock introduced HB 2649, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. If passed, this legislation would prohibit puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and so-called gender reassignment surgeries for minors. The bill also prohibits the public funding, insurance coverage, and referral of such procedures for minors. Arkansas became the first state to pass a SAFE Act last year.

There are many reasons for Christians to support the SAFE Act. These include protecting children from experimental procedures linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and sterility. Studies have also shown that 85 percent of children experiencing feelings of distress as a result of a perceived incongruity between their psychological, self-perceived “gender identity” and their biological sex eventually come to accept their sex around or after puberty. Puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries do not help children grow out of their gender distress. Moreover, there are risks, complications, and concerns associated with gender reassignment surgery for both males and females, as the procedures involve the alteration or removal of biologically normal and functional body parts.

In addition to practical, medical, and ethical reasons to support the SAFE Act, there are also theological reasons for Christians to support the legislation. If law is inherently pedagogical, 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. Thus, although the SAFE Act focuses on protecting minor children for physiological reasons, there are theological reasons for Christians to support the underlying principles affirmed in this bill, namely, that one’s maleness or femaleness is inextricably tied to biological sex and integral to one’s personhood.

First, the most fundamental distinction between men and women relates to biology. Genetically, men have XY chromosomes; women have XX chromosomes. Thus, when a male asserts that he is a female, he asserts an objective falsehood in terms of biology and genetics. The reality of biological sex cannot be changed by so-called gender transition or reassignment surgery. Surgeries cannot change a person’s genetic blueprint, and while genital surgery may sterilize an individual, it cannot bestow the reproductive capacity of the opposite sex. In other words, a person remains in their biological sex regardless of the gender with which they choose to identify.

This difference between the sexes is taught in Scripture. Moreover, the nature of the difference (i.e., biology) is also affirmed. Genesis 1:26-27 explains God’s original design for the sexes:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

 So God created man in his own image,

    in the image of God he created him;

    male and female he created them.

In verse 26, the focus is on what the man and the woman have in common (i.e., they’re both made in God’s image and tasked with exercising dominion over the created world), but verse 27 highlights the difference (i.e., humanity’s creation as male and female). And this difference is crucial. According to the Bible, God did not create androgynous beings; He created two distinct yet complementary individuals. In other words, the creation of male and female is not accidental or incidental but central to God’s design of human beings created in His image.

Arising from the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 1:27 is the question of what constitutes the difference between the man and the woman. In other words, what is the nature of the difference?  Although increasingly disputed, most people agree that there is something different between male and female. However, it is the nature of this difference that is fiercely contested. Transgender ideology suggests that one’s self-perception determines maleness or femaleness; one’s reproductive structures are inconsequential to the discussion. According to this logic, one’s self-understanding would determine one’s so-called gender identity, but reproductive anatomy would not. But the context of Genesis 1 shows that biology cannot be divorced from maleness or femaleness; in fact, biology is the ultimate determiner of sex and gender.

The fact that biology determines sex is seen in Genesis 1:28 which says, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.’” A key component of obeying God’s direction to Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply”—often known as the creation mandate—is procreation which is only possible with two biologically and genetically sexed individuals. Neither the man nor woman could fulfill God’s charge to fill the earth alone. In context, “male and female” in Genesis 1:27 must refer to the differing ways that human bodies are organized for sexual reproduction.

The implication of this teaching is clear. Even if someone feels strongly that they are “male,” they are wrong if their perception of their sex is not in line with their biological makeup. In a fallen world where the consequences of humanity’s initial sin affect our minds as well as our bodies, what we think about ourselves can be mistaken.

In other words, if someone is struggling with gender-confused feelings, a pastor, on the authority of God’s Word, can (and should) kindly tell them that their body isn’t lying to them. A person’s maleness or femaleness isn’t socially constructed. Rather, sex is something that is revealed by God in his special design of male and female bodies.

Second, there is a social dimension to the distinction between male and female. This dimension is touched on in Genesis 2:18, 21-25 which says,

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” …. 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. 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.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This passage shows that complementarity between the sexes is embedded in God’s good creation. In verse 18, the word “helper” designates a social role for Eve within her marriage to Adam—a role that is inextricably linked to her biological sex. Adam’s creation before Eve and his charge from God designates a social role within his marriage to Eve—a role that is likewise inextricably linked to his biological sex. He is to be the leader, protector, and provider within this marriage covenant.

As ethicist Denny Burk has argued, the implication of this teaching is that God has so made the world that there is a normative connection between biological sex and the social dimension of maleness and femaleness. The social roles of the first man and woman in Genesis 2 are inextricably connected to their biological sex. The New Testament reveals that these roles are not merely descriptive of the first marriage but as normative for every subsequent marriage (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:21-33). 

Additionally, the social order of the first family presumes a normative connection between biological sex and social roles designed for that sex. It also presumes that a man understands himself to be a man and that a woman understands herself to be a woman. Self-identity and bodily identity match one another.

Finally, the Bible teaches that the difference between male and female is good. Consider Paul’s reflection on the Genesis creation account in 1 Timothy 4:4-5: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

Where does Paul get the idea that everything created by God is “good”? Paul is simply reading Genesis 1, which says that God looked at what he had made throughout the six days of creation and said that it was “good.” And when God made the first male and female bodies, he said it was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Paul affirms that what was true about male and female design before the Fall is still true after the Fall. This means that even though God’s good design in creation may be marred by the Fall and by sin, God’s good design is not erased by the Fall and by sin.

The Bible is clear that the distinction between male and female is biological and social. In the biblical worldview, the differences between male and female are also “good” because God declared them good. The responsibility of Christians is to understand and believe these truths. Pastors especially must understand the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and disciple their congregations to think faithfully about them.

The logic of the transgender movement has become so ingrained in many places around our country that even some doctors—those who have pledged to “do no harm”—are willing to perform irreversible procedures that remove perfectly healthy organs on children experiencing gender confusion.

Our cultural moment provides an opportunity for the church to speak into this confusion. And while we pray for revival, we also need to see that barring a move of God in our nation, the culture is only going to get worse and that as the Overton Window shifts on how society thinks about sexuality, it’ll only get harder and harder to pass good legislation.

In short, the urgency of the moment and the weightiness of the subject matter (protecting children) is why legislators should take advantage of the opportunities we have to pass legislation like the SAFE Act. It is also why Christians everywhere should study God’s Word on what it means to be male and female and why we should teach these truths in our churches, Christian schools, and homes.

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.

A Welcome Defeat of Assisted Suicide in Virginia

by Mary Szoch

February 4, 2022

Yesterday, the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee considered legislation legalizing assisted suicide, SB 688. Thankfully, with a vote of 7-7-1, this legislation failed. Modeled after similar bills across the country, SB 688 would have allowed a patient with a six-month terminal diagnosis to request and ingest medication for the explicit purpose of ending their own life.

Oregon was the first state to legalize assisted suicide in 1997. Since that time, nine other states and the District of Columba have also legalized it. Although proponents of assisted suicide argue it “empowers” everyone to dictate their end of life, this misguided desire for complete control has the unintended consequence of creating a culture in which certain lives are deemed unworthy of living.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, which has compiled over 20 years of data on assisted suicide, excruciating pain is not the reason most people choose assisted suicide. The top five reasons for choosing assisted suicide are the inability to engage in activities that make life enjoyable; the loss of autonomy; the loss of dignity; the feeling of being a burden on family, friends, or caregivers; and loss of control of bodily functions. These struggles are incredibly challenging, but they by no means devalue a person’s life. People facing struggles such as these need true compassion based in the willingness to share their suffering.

People with disabilities are some of assisted suicide’s strongest opponents. They recognize that every person has dignity and that many of the reasons deemed valid for ending a life are challenges people with disabilities overcome every day. Certainly, not everyone who lives with a disability has a terminal illness, but at some point, everyone who has a terminal illness will experience some form of disability. People aren’t choosing to end their lives because of their terminal illness but because of the disabilities caused by their terminal illness. Legalizing assisted suicide sends the message that a life with disabilities is not a life worth living.

In a profit-driven health care system, the odds are already stacked against people with disabilities. So states need to pass legislation protecting people with disabilities from discrimination—not legislation that allows insurance companies to choose to cover the cheapest option, lethal drugs, instead of actual care.

People with disabilities are not the only ones negatively impacted by this discriminatory practice. All people—especially minorities—who have disparate access to health care feel its effects. As Anita Cameron, minority outreach director for Not Dead Yet, said, “As long as racial disparities and disability discrimination exist in health care, assisted suicide cannot be the answer.” Sadly, in both Oregon and California, patients who would not have been terminal had they received medical care have been refused treatment and instead offered assisted suicide drugs.

Moreover, the option of assisted suicide prevents people with terminal illnesses from getting the mental health support they desperately need. Medical literature suggests that 25 to 77 percent of patients with terminal illnesses suffer from major depression. Yet, since its legalization in 1998, only four percent of patients who died through assisted suicide were referred for psychiatric evaluation. Tragically, instead of receiving the help they need, patients are offered the option to kill themselves. The assisted suicide legislation does not require family notification or the presence of a witness at the time of death. And so, those struggling with the desire to end their lives by taking the lethal drugs may simply suffer in silence until their death, with heartbroken loved ones left wondering if they could have done more.

The legalization of assisted suicide attempts to normalize and affirm the suicide of patients with terminal illnesses; however, it has the unintended consequence of normalizing and affirming suicide itself. For those suffering from suicide ideation, this has tragic consequences. The Centers for Disease Control reported a 49 percent increase in the suicide rate in Oregon from 1999-2010, as opposed to a 28 percent increase nationally.

The assisted suicide legislation proposed in Virginia disregards the value of human life and opens the door for exploitation and coercion. Pray that assisted suicide legislation would fail and for a renewed respect for the dignity of the human person—not only in Virginia but in all 50 states.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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.

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