Category archives: Religion & Culture

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of October 24)

by Family Research Council

October 29, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: How the White House Will Steal Christmas

The Grinch may have stiff competition in President Biden. Retailers, industry leaders, and labor groups aren’t sending their requests to the North Pole—they are sending them to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, asking the president to push pause on the deadline for workers to comply with the COVID vaccine mandate, which has been set for December 8.

2. Update: Biden’s Department of Injustice and Intimidation

The Loudoun County School Board may be in the market for a new superintendent. According to emails, not only did Scott Ziegler know about the sexual assault by a boy in a girls’ restroom, he alerted the board to it that same day—which, for people keeping track, was three weeks before he publicly told parents there’d been “no incidents” related to gender neutral bathrooms.

3. Blog: Thinking Biblically About Politics in Church

Churches should have greater freedom and flexibility constitutionally, and they should carefully and prayerfully consider how to steward their freedom well. Christians should engage politically, but that engagement must be done biblically, which is why churches (and particularly pastors) need to be wise and discerning, especially during election season.

4. Blog: Homemaking Is a Sacred Calling, Despite What Society Says

Recently, two hearings took place in the U.S. Senate to review the legality and the morality of the Texas Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8). The hearings made clear that pro-abortion Democrats think that a woman must have the ability to choose abortion to truly be free and equal. Implicit in their arguments was a belief that women who choose homemaking over a career are somehow unequal in this country.

5. Washington Watch: Haris Alic, Chuck Holton, Pat Fallon, Ben Carson

Tony Perkins was joined by Haris Alic, reporter for the Washington Times, who shared the latest on the reconciliation bill. Pat Fallon, U.S. Representative for Texas, discussed the State Department admitting there are 363 Americans trapped in Afghanistan. Chuck Holton, freelance reporter for CBN News, gave an update on the caravans heading for the U.S.-Mexico border and 52 Al-Qaeda suspects who were captured heading towards the United States. And, Dr. Ben Carson, Founder and Chairman of the American Cornerstone Institute, talked about his Little Patriots initiative and new children’s book “Why America Matters.”

6. Washington Watch: Michael Ginsberg, Randy Weber, Meg Kilgannon, Jim Inhofe, Sam BrownbackGordon Chang

Tony Perkins was joined by Michael Ginsberg, Congressional correspondent at the Daily Caller, who shared the latest on the reconciliation bill negotiations taking place in the U.S. Senate. Randy Weber, U.S. Representative for Texas, talked about business groups asking the Biden administration to delay the upcoming COVID vaccine mandates. Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, gave an update on what’s happening in Loudoun County after a student was found guilty of sexual assault in a school bathroom. Jim Inhofe, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, discussed his letter to the Pentagon urging a suspension of the vaccine mandate on servicemembers. Sam Brownback, former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, reacted to the military coup in Sudan and the implications on religious freedom. And, Gordon Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War, discussed the Biden administration’s policy toward Taiwan and President Biden’s plan to attend the G20 Summit in Rome.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: A Nation Bordering on Lawlessness

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Rep. Mary Miller, Dr. Dave Brat, and Pastor Jorge Tovar to take a deeper look at the border crisis. We’ve witnessed heartbreaking scenes along the southern border and the Biden administration’s refusal to act is making things worse. Join us as we pray for solutions that balance charity with our commitment to law and order.

Homemaking Is a Sacred Calling, Despite What Society Says

by Amelia Arthur

October 27, 2021

Over the last several decades and especially the last few weeks, a woman’s “freedom of choice” has been a common phrase heard on Capitol Hill. However, what is usually implied by this phrase is the freedom to end the life of an innocent unborn child. Recently, two hearings took place in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Reform Committee to review the legality and the morality of the Texas Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8). These hearings also provided another platform for Democrats to push their radical abortion policies.

Pro-abortion Democrats in both chambers argued that the only way for a woman to truly be free and equal in this country is to have the ability to abort her child if she so chooses. In fact, implicit in what many of the Democratic witnesses and the Democrat members of Congress have suggested is that women who choose homemaking and childrearing over a career are somehow unequal in this country. What happened to that “empowering” phrase, “freedom of choice”? Why are women who are called to be stay-at-home mothers being demeaned for making this choice?

As an engaged woman preparing for marriage, I was deeply frustrated with the comments suggesting that what I feel called to do will make me unequal to other women. My calling is always first and foremost to serve God. When I get married, it will also be my calling to serve my husband. Should the Lord bless me with children, it will also be my calling to serve them. But according to the Democrats, choosing to prioritize those things before my career will make me unequal because I will allegedly be less able to contribute to the economy, to society, and to politics.

However, Proverbs 31:10-31 shows that the contemporary disdain directed toward homemakers is vastly different from the vision presented in Scripture.

Verses 13, 14, 16, 18, and 24 describe how the “woman who fears the LORD” can be involved in the economy. For example, “she considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard” and “she perceives that her merchandise is profitable,” so “she makes linen garments and sells them.” Verses 20 and 26 describe her roles in society as she helps the needy and teaches with kindness. In this passage, the “woman who fears the LORD” does her husband good, and he trusts her. The support she provides her husband enables him to focus on his duties while also having an honorable character so he can “sit among the elders of the land.” The “woman who fears the LORD is to be praised” because she bears good fruit and points the people in her sphere of influence to fear the Lord. This bearing of good fruit can happen wherever God has placed her, with whatever marital status, children, or occupation she does or does not have.

Ultimately, ministering and pouring into others is what matters in life. Our achievements and career aspirations will fade away, but the relationships we build with fellow image-bearers (Gen. 1:27) have eternal significance. C. S. Lewis describes this reality in The Weight of Glory:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

Motherhood and homemaking should never be seen as a demeaning calling. I have women in my family who have been called to be stay-at-home mothers and others who have been called to motherhood while continuing to work outside the home. These women face different challenges, but they all selflessly care for their children with the goal of honoring God and fulfilling whatever calling God has placed on their lives.

A families’ spiritual condition is ultimately more important than any vocational position we may acquire. We are instructed to “look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). In short, women, whether you are called to work in the workplace or raise your children in the home or balance a combination of both, you are called to be faithful. And despite what our society says to women called to serve exclusively in the home, your work of raising and discipling the next generation has eternal implications. This is a sacred calling; don’t believe lies that tell a different story by demeaning your work.

Amelia Arthur is a Policy and Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

Enes Kanter Brings Much-Needed Courage to the NBA

by Arielle Del Turco

October 25, 2021

Courage is an increasingly rare trait in American professional sports. But Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics is choosing to rise above the cowardice that seems to have infiltrated most of the NBA and is taking on the world’s most powerful authoritarian regime, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Kanter took to social media last week to raise awareness about one of the Chinese government’s lesser-known brutal crackdowns happening in the remote region of Tibet.

In a video on Twitter, Kanter said, “My message for the Chinese government is ‘free Tibet.’ Tibet belongs to Tibetans.” He spoke these words while wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of the Dalai Lama. That same image is illegal to display even in private homes in Tibet.

Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent,” Kanter continued. The reality is, he pointed out, that the Chinese government has put an entire region under lockdown. Tibetans can’t learn about Tibetan culture. Their movement is restricted. And they have no religious freedom.

Chinese troops first invaded Tibet in 1950, shortly after Mao Zedong came to power. During the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government sought to destroy the culture and religious beliefs that made Tibet unique. For over 70 years, this has caused a great deal of suffering for Tibetans, especially those who want to retain their Tibetan Buddhist religious beliefs.

The battle against brutal dictators isn’t merely political for Kanter—it’s personal. Kanter was raised in Turkey but spoke out against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s thuggish regime, which is known for assaulting critics, repressing democracy, and wrongfully detaining innocent people.

Kanter’s outspokenness has cost him. Turkey revoked his passport. He cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest by Turkish authorities. He was even disinvited to participate in a kid’s basketball camp after a Turkish consulate threatened the New York mosque at which the camp was being held.

Erdogan is a notorious bully, much like China’s thin-skinned leaders. So, Kanter was likely prepared when the Chinese government blocked Celtics NBA games from airing in China in response to his comments about Tibet.

To bring his advocacy to the basketball court, Kanter asked Badiucao, a Chinese cartoonist, to design a pair of shoes that read “Free Tibet” and feature imagery representing the Tibetan plight. Badiucao told The Washington Post, “It surprised me, indeed, because of the potential risks that Enes is taking for this project. To act and support people not from your country, it’s a profound and rare character.” Kanter planned to wear the shoes in a game last week, but coaches did not put him in the game.

The NBA has a history of cowardice when it comes to China. When Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey posted a single tweet supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors, Chinese broadcasters immediately threatened to cut ties. Under pressure, Morey retracted his statement, and the Houston Rockets and the NBA distanced themselves from Morey’s tweet.

But Kanter is no Morey. Instead of backing down, Kanter is expanding his human rights advocacy in China beyond Tibet. Last Friday, he posted another video to Twitter explaining the situation that Uyghur Muslims face in Xinjiang.

There is a genocide happening right now,” Kanter said. “Torture, rape, forced abortions and sterilizations, family separations, arbitrary detentions, concentration camps, political reeducation, forced labor. This is all happening right now to more than 1.8 million Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region in northwestern China.” In the same video, Kanter also called out the leaders of Muslim-majority countries for being silent about the Chinese government’s genocide.

Kanter’s message to Chinese leadership is simple: “Close down the slave labor camps and free the Uyghur people. Stop the genocide now.”

The possible consequences for Kanter’s bold words remain to be seen. It’s not easy for professional athletes to go up against the Chinese government and the enormous Chinese market. It takes courage, something Kanter has in spades.

While it’s common for professional athletes to promote woke social campaigns, few pay attention to the many ongoing human rights crises around the world. Tibetans, Uyghurs, and other oppressed peoples are desperate for the world to know their plight and speak up on their behalf. Kanter is a hero for doing exactly that.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of October 17)

by Family Research Council

October 25, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: The Great American (Vaccine) Purge

Democrats have a new strategy to enhance the security of Americans: fire those who provide it. Recently, the U.S. Navy became the latest branch of the military to announce it will discharge sailors who don’t meet their definition of “fully vaccinated” by November 28. As the deadline looms nearer, the military is now forced to deal with the reality that many service members will not comply.

2. Update: Republicans Beat the Buzzer with Girls’ Sports Win

Plenty of parents have been fed up with Joe Biden’s fixation on letting boys into girls’ private spaces. But after the rape of one teenage girl in Loudoun County schools and the sexual assault of another, even fewer states are buying the line that the Left’s radical transgender policies don’t hurt anyone. If anything, it made states like Texas even more motivated to keep the two sexes separate.

3. Blog: How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced new executive action concerning COVID-19 vaccines. According to the president’s plan, all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

4. Blog: How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

Revelations of radical activism by a teacher in California with an Antifa flag in his classroom and marking student’s papers using stamps with images of communist leaders roiled Sacramento area parents. In a shocking and at times profane 12-minute video, Inderkum High School AP Government teacher Gabriel Gipe explained that he has “180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries.”

5. Washington Watch: Steve Daines, Chad Wolf, Mat Staver, Connor Semelsberger

Tony Perkins was joined by Steve Daines, U.S. Senator from Montana, who gave an update on negotiations over the reconciliation bill and the removal of the Hyde amendment in the Labor, Health and Human Services Senate bill. Chad Wolf, of the America First Policy Institute, talked about what’s happening at the southern border with arrests soaring to an all-time high. Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, discussed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denying the emergency injunction pending appeal on behalf of more than 2,000 Maine health care workers. And, Connor Semelsberger, FRC’s Director of Federal Affairs for Life and Human Dignity, unpacked what’s really in the reconciliation bill’s Green New Deal.

6. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Edward Graham, Mike Berry, Bob Fu

Washington Watch’s guest host, Joseph Backholm, was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, discussed reports of China’s advanced space capability, the threats that China poses to U.S. national security, and the Democrats $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. Edward Graham, of Samaritan’s Purse, gave an update on the U.S. missionaries who were kidnapped by a notorious Haitian gang. Mike Berry, of First Liberty Institute, shared that Navy SEALs seeking religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate are facing harassment and intimidation. And, Bob Fu, Founder and President of China Aid Association and FRC’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, discussed the U.S. rejoining the UN Human Rights Council and China shutting down Bible apps and Christian WeChat accounts as new crackdown policies go into effect.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Biden’s Anti-Family Budget Buster

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Rep. Bob Good, Connor Semelsberger, and Pastor Gary Keesee to discuss the threat Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act poses to life, families, children, and our future as a nation. Listen as they unpack the top harms of the most expensive bill EVER considered by Congress and join us as we pray for men and women to rise up and stop it!

Thinking Biblically About Politics in Church

by David Closson

October 22, 2021

In the lead-up to next month’s gubernatorial election in Virginia, more than 300 churches are planning to show a pre-recorded campaign video featuring Vice President Kamala Harris in their morning worship service. In the video—which will be shown in predominantly African American churches—Harris encourages congregants to vote for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s former governor, who is in a tight and closely-watched race with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.

In the video, Harris says, “In 2020, more Virginians voted than ever before. And because you did, you helped send President Joe Biden and me to the White House. This year, I know that you will send Terry McAuliffe back to Richmond.” The vice president concludes her message by outlining why she believes congregants should vote for McAuliffe and asking them to vote after church.

Although CNN reported on the campaign advertisement this past weekend, coverage of churches’ plans to show the video was relatively sparse. But besides some social media discussion that questioned the propriety of playing campaign videos during a church service, the story appears to have faded from the news. However, the incident raises some important questions regarding churches and campaigns that Christians and especially pastors should consider. 

First, Harris’ campaign video likely runs afoul of the Johnson Amendment to the IRS code. According to IRS regulations, churches are not allowed to engage in direct political campaign activity. Under the section “Charities, Churches and Politics” on their website, the IRS explains

Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

To be clear, FRC is on record opposing the Johnson Amendment’s application to a pastor’s sermons because no government entity has the right to censor speech, whether in or out of the pulpit. That is almost certainly a violation of the First Amendment, but the IRS has not brought an enforcement action against a church sufficient to produce a successful constitutional challenge in court. 

However, it is ironic that after months of issuing dire warnings about “Christian Nationalism” and the dangers of conflating religion and politics, the left is now actively engaging in the very campaign tactics they decry when practiced by those on the right. In fact, it is the height of hypocrisy to fuss about the “separation of church and state” and say conservative pastors should not engage the political process when they promote a campaign-style video designed to drum up support for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in churches.

But the controversy over the Harris video raises important questions: to what extent and in what ways is it appropriate for churches to engage in politics? How should pastors guide their congregations through elections? Before answering these questions, it is helpful to recall some truths about the church. 

Theologian Gregg Allison defines the church as the “people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.” While the universal church consists of every Christian since Pentecost, local churches, led by elders and deacons, “possess and pursue purity and unity, exercise church disciple, develop strong connections with other churches, and celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” In other words, a local church is a congregation of believers who have covenanted together and are committed to the regular means of grace, including the regular preaching and teaching of Scripture, observance of the ordinances, and fellowship.

In terms of purpose, the church exists to fulfill several important spiritual purposes. Theologian Wayne Grudem breaks down these purposes in terms of ministry to God, ministry to believers, and ministry to the world. First, when it comes to God, the church’s purpose is to worship him. Second, the church has an obligation to nurture the faith of its members and build them up in maturity (Col. 1:28). This primarily occurs through the regular preaching and teaching of the Bible. Third, churches are called to evangelize the lost and engage in mercy ministry (such as helping the poor and needy).

Although most people (including many Christians) are not accustomed to thinking deeply about the church, it is crucial for Christians to think biblically about the church. To this end, Scripture employs several helpful metaphors and images to describe the church. The church is a “family” (1 Tim. 5:1-2, Eph. 3:14), branches on a vine (John 15:5), an olive tree (Rom. 11:17-24), and a building (1 Cor. 3:9). Paul refers to the church as the “bride of Christ” (Eph. 5:32, 2 Cor. 11:2). The “body of Christ” is another familiar metaphor that Paul uses to express the close relationship between believers in the church and their relationship with Christ (Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 2:19). Paul, while addressing the Ephesian elders, cautioned, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). For Paul, the church is the most significant reality on earth because Jesus purchased it with His own blood. Accordingly, those tasked with its leadership must recognize the weighty responsibility entrusted to them.

In short, because the church is the blood-bought bride of God tasked with the responsibility of bearing witness to the saving news of the gospel, I believe churches should carefully scrutinize how much time is spent on topics outside the worship of God and the equipping of the saints through the word of God. Of course, this does not mean that churches or church leaders should withdraw from politics. Far from it. While “politics” carries with it a certain image, the word, properly understood, actually gets at how groups of humans organize their affairs. In this sense, politics is intimately connected to community—how we relate to other people—and is inextricable from the concept of loving one’s neighbor, which Christians are called to do. Further, politics implicates issues of moral importance to all Christians.

As I’ve explained in “Biblical Principles for Political Engagement,” voting is a matter of stewardship, and Christians should seek to vote in a way that honors God and advances the wellbeing of their neighbor. For pastors, there is additional responsibility. I believe churches ought to actively ensure that their members are educated on the issues. Pastors should preach expositionally through books of the Bible, ensuring they preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. Preaching through Scripture will have the effect of informing the conscience of congregations and help church members think faithfully about a host of public policy issues. Moreover, I think it is appropriate for churches to encourage good voting stewardship by conducting voter registration drives and distributing voter guides among their members.  

Of course, wisdom and discernment are needed when it comes to how pastors think about politics and disciple their people. Conservative pastors should be aware of the potential for hypocrisy when liberals criticize them for engaging in politics while playing campaign-style videos in their own churches. Yet regardless of their individual judgments, pastors should be free to speak. The First Amendment protects speech, and the Johnson Amendment and IRS guidance have historically had a chilling and stifling effect on pastors’ speech. 

At the end of the day, even though churches should have greater freedom and flexibility constitutionally, they should carefully and prayerfully consider how to steward their freedom well. Christians should engage politically, but that engagement must be done biblically, which is why churches (and particularly pastors) need to be wise and discerning, especially during election season.

Your Heart Was Made For Love

by Mikayla Simpson

October 19, 2021

Deep down, we all want to love people well. We can’t help it. We are made to worship and made to love, but sometimes the way we choose to prioritize our loves isn’t how it was meant to be. Without realizing it, our well-intentioned affection for people or things can turn into idolatry. Idolatry is dangerous because as we worship and love someone or something that cannot fill the wholeness in our hearts, we are left unsatisfied. We feel this emptiness because we are made for more.

Since the Fall of Man, Things Are Not as They Should Be

G. K. Chesterton once said, “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything.” Because we have a sinful nature, we do not worship God as we should. Instead, we seek after the things of the world, expecting them to satisfy us. We open our arms to broken things, expecting them to fill us. As we draw out of these broken wells that “can hold no water,” our thirst remains unquenched (Jer. 2:13). Sometimes, we choose to worship the creature we can touch rather than the Creator who is above. In doing so, we abandon our greatest love (Rom. 1:22-24, Rev. 2:4) and craft gods out of good gifts. At face value, these gifts are not necessarily bad things to love, but our affections become distorted and disordered when God is not our first love.

In Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols, Brad Bigney defines an idol as “anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.” Loving isn’t wrong; in fact, God created us with a great capacity to love, but loving anything more than God is idolatrous. This disloyalty flies blatantly in the face of God, saddens Him, and is sin. For He has said, “have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2). Idols are poor gods that too often take and use us. They don’t treat us well, and they promise pleasure that they can’t deliver on, leaving us guilty, alone, and always wanting more. Bigney puts it well when he says that “sin is what we do when we’re not satisfied in God.” When we become impatient or discontent, we turn to sin, worshiping idols mistakenly believing that they are more reliable than God.

Identifying Personal Idols

Idols are the hidden matters of the heart. To identify these matters of the heart, Bigney offers a few questions to help us identify our idols:

  1. Am I willing to sin to get this?
  2. Am I willing to sin if I think I’m going to lose this?
  3. Do I turn to this as a refuge and comfort instead of going to God?
  4. What are your goals, expectations, and intentions?
  5. What would make you happy?
  6. What do you see as your rights?
  7. What do you fear?
  8. When you are pressured or tense, where do you turn?

It can be tempting to rely on our own understanding because there is a way that seems right to us but is actually very wrong (Prov. 14:12). That’s why we need the Lord—who searches out the heart and tests the mind (Jer. 17:10)—to weigh our hearts and direct our steps (Prov. 16:9, 21:2).

Ask the Lord to show you your sin, then let His Word reveal the hidden matters of your heart. Inviting Him into this gutting process will expose and dethrone the idols in your life. Let this intimate surgery carve out the festering loves that keep you from drawing closer to God. Press His words into the hollow places that these idols leave behind. Let the words pierce you. Let them fill you. Allow God’s Word to dwell in you richly. He is the One who gives us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk. 11:19). Bigney encourages his readers engaging in this soulful surgery to remember to “glance at your heart but gaze at Christ.” We should examine the chasms and crevices of our hearts but ultimately set our eyes on Christ to renew our hearts.

We Only Fulfill Our Purpose When We Worship God

Apart from God, we will never be satisfied. The fourth-century theologian Augustine correctly observed, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they can find their rest in you.” As God exposes our heart, His Spirit renews and transforms our heart by realigning our desires with His will so that we do not live by our natural desires but instead can walk in the newness of life. When we walk in step with the Spirit, we are transformed.

God wants the good life for His children, and apart from Him, we have no good thing (Ps. 16:2, 63:3-4). We were formed for God that we would praise Him and bring Him glory (Is. 43:21). In fact, we cannot do better than God’s best for us because His very presence quenches our soul with a fullness of joy and pleasure that never comes to an end (Ps. 16:11).

But in order to know that fullness of joy, we must come. We must seek. And we must worship Him. James says, “Draw near to the Lord and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The extent of our surrender to God is the extent of our satisfaction. He is the greatest pleasure and highest treasure. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we must search out our hearts to determine what we must surrender, then actively remove the idols that hinder us from worshiping Christ as our highest treasure.

No one else in all the earth is like God. As Isaiah notes, He “stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them like a tent to dwell in” (Is. 40:22). The One who created the galaxies and stars and calls them by name knows our names and came to earth to die and redeem us so He could bring us closer to Himself. He is the One our hearts long to worship. But if He is not our first love, we will always be empty. So, love Him. Worship Him. Your heart was made for this.

Mikayla Simpson interned with the Center for Biblical Worldview.

What To Believe About Issues Jesus Didn’t Discuss

by Joseph Backholm

October 15, 2021

A favorite argument of those trying to push the boundaries of Christian ethics is an argument from silence. It usually goes something like this: “Jesus never talked about [insert issue], so that means He doesn’t care.” 

However, arguments from silence are a type of logical fallacy. The lack of evidence for something does not mean the gaps in our knowledge should be filled with assumptions. Furthermore, every parent who has heard their child say, “You didn’t see me do it,” understands that those who depend most heavily on a lack of proof might not be prioritizing the truth.

When it comes to the Christian life, arguments from silence are more than just sloppy thinking. They might also be evidence of a heart that is more interested in getting its own way than trying to live God’s way.

Fundamental to the gospel is the idea of submission. Paul expressed this attitude when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20, ESV).

When we justify our morally questionable decisions with an argument from silence, we put the cart before the horse. Our goal should not be to do whatever we want until someone says, “No,” but to affirmatively look for ways to honor God with our lives. 

Instead of asking, “Is it okay if I do this?” we should be asking, “Does God want me to do this?”

The first instinct of a life surrendered to God is to find out what He wants, not to see if we can justify doing what we want. As Christians, everything we do should be viewed through the lens of honoring God. As Paul said, “[W]hatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).

The instinct to see what we can get away with is evidence that we don’t always want God to be in charge. We want Him to supervise and provide help when needed, but mostly we want Him to help us have fun. In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis described that view of God in this way:  

We want, in fact, not so much a father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.”

The God of the Bible demands daily submission for His glory and our pleasure because He loves us and understands that our sinful desires promise joy and satisfaction but deliver neither. 

Even Jesus, who is fully God and an equal member of the Trinity, was primarily focused on what God the Father wanted Him to do. As Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19).

It is folly to build our moral view of the world around what Jesus did not talk explicitly about. After all, Jesus didn’t say anything specifically about sexual assault or flying planes into skyscrapers, yet we can still know what God thinks about them. As Christians, our desire should be to think biblically about everything. Even though the Bible doesn’t provide explicit instructions on every issue or question we may encounter in life, the answers are not difficult to find if we actually want to find them.  

When considering what Jesus said and thinks, our attitude makes all the difference. Any time we find ourselves saying, “Jesus didn’t say you can’t…” is a good time to take inventory of our motives and make sure that we are really wanting what God wants and not merely trying to justify doing what we want.

Image: Carl Heinrich Bloch, “Sermon on the Mount” (1877)

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 26)

by Family Research Council

October 1, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

After months of promising that his administration would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring millions of federal employees to either get the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. Shortly after the executive order, the president handed down another mandate, requiring all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate their workers be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation.

2. Update: House Dems United in Death

People say it’s hard to find consensus in Washington, but Democrats have found plenty on one issue: abortion. At least in the House, the idea of middle ground has vanished. When it comes to the taking of innocent life, the battlelines are clear: Republicans are 100-percent opposed, and all but one Democrat is in favor.

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

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives recently 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.

4. Blog: Radical Progressive Ideology Has Become Normalized in Schools. It’s Time to Act.

Revelations of radical activism by a teacher in California with an Antifa flag in his classroom and marking student’s papers using stamps with images of communist leaders roiled Sacramento area parents. In a shocking and at times profane 12 minute video, Inderkum High School AP Government teacher Gabriel Gipe explained that he has “180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries.”

5. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Michael Burgess, Robert Cahaly, William Lee

Tony Perkins was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, who discussed the Pentagon leadership’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee over the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the atrocities that have followed. Michael Burgess, U.S. Representative for Texas, gave an update on the debt ceiling debate and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s push for massive spending bills. The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly shared the findings of a poll showing a 65 percent majority believe Americans who refuse the vaccine should not lose their jobs. And, William “Dean” Lee, retired Vice Admiral of the United States Coast Guard, shared his thoughts on the military vaccine mandates and the leaked documents showing how Coast Guard chaplains are being used to enforce the mandate.

6. Washington Watch: Ron Estes, Mike Berry, Jerry Boykin, Arielle Del Turco, Meg Kilgannon

Tony Perkins was joined by Ron Estes, U.S. Representative for Kansas, to talk about the massive spending votes in the House of Representatives. Mike Berry, with First Liberty Institute, discussed leaked documents showing the Coast Guard plans to grill service members about their religious beliefs over religious vaccine exemptions. Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, shared how imposing a vaccine mandate on the military will harm recruiting and retention. Arielle Del Turco, FRC’s Assistant Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, talked about the recent March for Martyrs in Washington, D.C. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, discussed the graphic material a Fairfax High School mother found in school library books and what happened when she read them during a Fairfax County School Board meeting.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Biden’s Mandates and Your Freedom

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Christopher Ferrara, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Jennifer Bridges, and Pastor Jack Hibbs to discuss and pray over what America soon might look like if President Biden’s vaccine mandate is not stopped.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of September 19)

by Family Research Council

September 24, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Update: President’s Prison Rule Cells Out Women

Joe Biden may be headed for the beach, but don’t expect it to be a vacation from his problems. When the president got on the plane this afternoon, the White House was frantically trying to clean up another mess of Biden’s making—this time on the southern border. In Del Rio, Texas, where more than 10,000 migrants are wading in the water on the U.S.-Mexico border.

2. Update: Pentagon Can’t Camouflage True Vaccine Agenda

Trapped in a sinkhole of Left-wing radicalism, our troops are so busy fighting climate change, white supremacy, conservative “extremism,” and COVID to deal with America’s real enemies. Now, as if the embarrassment of Afghanistan and a feeble commander-in-chief weren’t enough, the president says he’s ready to fire anyone who won’t get the vaccine.

3. Blog: How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced an executive action that all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

4. Blog: Google Finds Innovative New Method of Exploitation

After a four-month runtime on the internet, Google has banned all of Live Action’s advertisements about the abortion pill reversal treatment. Google’s attempt at censoring Live Action is sadly unsurprising given the tendency of Big Tech companies to cater to the whims of the abortion lobby.

5. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Pete Ricketts, Mike Berry, Chad Robichaux

Tony Perkins was joined by Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, to discuss what’s happening at the southern border. Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska, explained how he is fighting President Biden’s vaccine mandates. Mike Berry, Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, decried the Department of Defense’s requirement that military members must receive the COVID vaccine or face removal. And, Chad Robichaux, Founder of the Mighty Oaks Foundation, shared the latest on evacuations and the state of Afghanistan.

6. Washington Watch: John Joyce, Mo Brooks, Dave Yost, Travis Weber

Tony Perkins was joined by John Joyce, U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania, who gave an update on the reconciliation bill. Mo Brooks, U.S. Representative for Alabama, responded to reports that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley made secret calls with his Chinese counterpart, circumventing President Trump. Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, talked about how state attorney generals are fighting back against federal vaccine mandates. And, Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs, shared the results of a survey on fairness for all.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: America’s Foreign Policy: The State of Faith & Freedom

On this episode of Pray Vote Stand you’ll get a closer look at President Biden’s foreign policy record and what the consequences may be at home and abroad.

What is the “Gospel”? A Deeper Look at the Historical and Literary Context Behind the Good News

by Jaelyn Morgan

September 24, 2021

When Jesus began His ministry, He proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). As Christians, our goal is to follow Christ completely. To obey Him, we must understand what He meant by the “gospel” and how it relates to the kingdom of God.

The Gospel Is Good News

The English word “gospel” comes from an Old English word godspel (god meaning “good” and spel meaning “story” or “message”). This was an English translation of the Latin bona annuntiatio, which in turn was a translation of the Greek word euangelion (“good tidings”). In ancient times, an euangelion was a royal proclamation of military victory or ascension to a throne. If a kingdom had military victory over their enemies in battle, a messenger would run back to the capital and proclaim the euangelion to the people waiting inside in the city’s walls. Essentially, the word “gospel” means “good news” and has historical connotations of a royal, victorious proclamation of one kingdom overtaking another.

The Gospel Announces God’s Kingdom

Having learned what euangelion meant in Jesus’ historical context, we must now consider the biblical, or literary, context of “good news.” In Isaiah 52:7 and 10 (emphasis mine), we read:

How beautiful upon the mountains

    are the feet of him who brings good news,

who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,

    who publishes salvation,

    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

…The Lord has bared his holy arm

    before the eyes of all the nations,

and all the ends of the earth shall see

    the salvation of our God.

This prophetic passage foretold that the good news—or the gospel—would be a proclamation of happiness announcing the reign of Zion’s God and an international salvation that would reach “all the ends of the earth.” As Jesus later explained, His kingdom, the kingdom of God, “is not of this world” (John 18:36). By calling Himself the “Son of Man,” He connected His Kingdom to Daniel’s prophecy about the Son of Man’s kingdom, which would neither pass away nor be destroyed (Dan. 7:14). This new kingdom would be unlike any kingdom people have seen before. Not only would it be multiethnic, multi-national, multilingual, and everlasting (Isa. 56:8, Dan. 7:13, Rev. 7:9); it would transform the whole world under a King who would reign for eternity (Rev. 11:15).

Every kingdom needs a king. The Bible declares that the king whom God has appointed over His kingdom is Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sinless life and atoning death, God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…And he put all things under his feet…” (Eph. 1:20-22). When Jesus proclaimed, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” He was heralding the incoming of God’s long-awaited kingdom as its King!

The Gospel Invites Us to Join God’s Kingdom

The proclamation of God’s kingdom and its king, Jesus, is good news for everyone because all are invited to partake in its glory. Just as every kingdom has a king, every kingdom has citizens. Citizens of God’s kingdom need to receive eternal life because God’s kingdom is everlasting (Ps. 145:13, Dan. 7:14). God has given us everything we need to become part of His kingdom. In fact, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus]” (1 John 5:11). When we believe in Jesus, we receive eternal life and our citizenship is in heaven (John 3:36, Phil. 3:20). Jesus proclaimed, “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) to tell us that, by these actions, we can become citizens of the kingdom of God!

So, what does the Bible mean by “repent”? The original Greek word translated as “repent” is metanoeo, meaning “to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent.” The immediate context of Mark’s gospel reveals that repentance is changing one’s mind about something in order to act in faith (Mark 1:4, 15; 6:12). Hence, it is a new mindset that results in new action. The rest of Scripture affirms this understanding of repentance. Thus, in Jesus’s call to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15), “to repent” means more than just changing one’s mind; it means accepting the gospel message, turning away from sin, and turning toward King Jesus for a new way of life.

Shortly after Jesus was resurrected and returned to heaven, the apostle Peter addressed a crowd in Jerusalem, proclaiming the euangelion and the need to repent:

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when [the crowd] heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:36-42).

The Gospel Freely Justifies Us

The gospel is not only good news about the victorious kingdom of God but also the personal good news that sinful men and women can become members of God’s kingdom and be reconciled to a holy God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ! Each of us is personally invited to become citizens of God’s kingdom. We can become part of God’s kingdom when we accept Jesus as the king that He already is and trust in Him for a right standing before God. Jesus purifies anyone who believes in Him so they can have a right standing before God and be part of God’s people (1 John 3:3, Titus 2:14).

Justification (i.e., right standing before God) is given to us by God through Jesus Christ for free. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 3:21-26, justification from God is a gift:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested…through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith…It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

As sinners, we did not have a hope in the world. But then God sent Jesus, who willingly died on the cross, for our sins, in our place. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). This is amazing news! When there was no way, God made a way. When our sin prevented us from having a right relationship with Him, God sent Jesus. Because of God’s graciousness toward us, we are invited to “repent and believe in the gospel” and become part of God’s eternal kingdom, His people, and His family.

The Gospel Gives Us an Urgent Choice

The biblical gospel gives us an ultimatum. We can continue in our sinful state, trying (and failing) to get into heaven by our own merit, or we can accept the good news. If we repent of our old ways and place our faith in Jesus Christ as our new Savior and King, we are saved from God’s wrath against sin and saved into God’s eternal kingdom!

By sending Jesus to us, God showed that He loved us. Jesus, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10), can be our friend, savior, and king. What will you decide? As 2 Corinthians 6:2 reminds us, do not waste another day, for “now is the favorable time” and “behold, now is the day of salvation”!

NEXT STEPS

  1. How Can I Be Saved?
  2. I Am a Christian, Now What?
  3. What Is the Christian Life?
  4. Why Should I Go to Church?

Jaelyn Morgan interned for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

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