Tag archives: Culture

How Should Christians Think About “Wokeness”?

by Molly Carman

July 22, 2021

Since its beginnings in the first century, the church has faced varied resistance from the surrounding culture and challenges to the gospel. Recently, a new challenge has emerged: “wokeness,” or the state of being “woke.” Merriam-Webster identifies “woke” as a slang term meaning being “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” On the surface, wokeness might sound like seeking justice and showing concern for the weak and oppressed—things the Bible urges us to do (Isa. 1:17, Micah 6:8). However, wokeness often embraces theories and ideologies inconsistent with or even hostile to the Bible. Many well-intentioned Christians—out of a desire to be compassionate, accepting, and loving—are succumbing to cultural pressure to conform to woke ideology, likely unaware of its unbiblical tendencies.

To help Christians think biblically about wokeness, Owen Strachan, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview, has written a new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement is Hijacking the Gospel. In the book, Strachan walks through the history of woke ideology and examines its consequences in American culture and the church. He also consults Scripture to give Christians advice for responding to the woke movement.

Wokeness in the Culture and the Church

The first two chapters of Christianity and Wokeness examine how woke ideology is entering the culture and, more consequentially, the church. According to Strachan, “wokeness” means to be “awake” and in tune with the prevailing zeitgeist. Critical Race Theory (CRT), which sees society as an intentional system of power structures meant to oppress others based on their skin color, is currently the most well-known example of woke ideology. CRT purports that “White Privilege” is at the root of social justice issues and must be eradicated. 

The 21st century American church has been both passively and actively incorporating woke ideology into their institutions and practices. Strachan observes that some Christians have started apologizing for and repenting of their “whiteness.” Often these actions are prefaced with the proposal that we should change the gospel to fit with woke ideology so that brothers and sisters of color will be more comfortable in the church. While true racial reconciliation is an important outworking of the gospel (Eph. 2), wokeness changes the gospel by teaching that white people are never able to fully repent for their actions because they are inherently racist by nature of being white. But the gospel says all have sinned, and everyone can be fully redeemed through the work of Christ. With its different view of sin and redemption, wokeness undermines the gospel. This is why Strachan argues, “[W]okeness is not a prism by which we discover truths we couldn’t see in a Christian worldview. Wokeness is a different system entirely than Christianity. It is, in fact, ‘a different gospel.’ But it is not just that. In the final evaluation, wokeness is not just not the Gospel. Wokeness is anti-Gospel.”

Why is Wokeness an Ungodly System?

In chapters three and four, Strachan outlines his concern with the theological and cultural implications of CRT and woke ideology. First, he encourages believers to guard their hearts and minds, noting the apostle Paul’s admonition not to be taken captive by false philosophies (Col. 2:8). Strachan argues that wokeness represents a man-centered gospel that takes others captive through legalism rather than setting them free in the grace of Christ. In other words, wokeness says that only your works can save you—but you can never actually accumulate enough works to satisfy its requirements. Ultimately, this philosophy promises so much, only to abandon its followers in the end.

Furthermore, Strachan provides guidance for responding to unbiblical ideologies. According to Strachan, wokeness calls into question the sovereignty of God and contradicts Scripture by saying that the root of all evil is “whiteness.” But, as Strachan explains, “[in] biblical terms, ‘white’ skin is not our biggest problem. Sin is.” He goes on to say, “If you have been convicted and demeaned for your skin color or heritage (whatever each may be), you have been wronged.” Woke ideology turns humans against one another, and results in individuals being judged by the color of their skin and status in society rather than the content of their character or their status in the eyes of God.

The Bible and Ethnicity

Because questions of race and ethnicity are so closely tied to woke ideology and CRT, chapter five and six provide an in-depth study of what the Old and New Testament have to say about our identity as human beings. Strachan explains how Genesis teaches that all humans are equally part of one human race. Although we may have different skin tones, languages, or ethnicities that distinguish us, we are all human beings who are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).

Further, the doctrine of the fall—not CRT—explains the fractured relationships present in humanity. It is not the differences between our skin colors that make us misunderstand, betray, and abuse one another but the sin that infects us all. One tragic consequence of the fall is the sin of racism, which is one way that humans wrongly show partiality. God is not elitist and shows no partiality to anyone, as the apostle Paul frequently discusses in his letters (Rom. 2:11, 10:12; Gal. 2:6, Eph. 6:9). The New Testament also demonstrates how everyone can be united and reconciled in Christ through the gospel message (Eph. 2:14-18, 2 Cor. 5:16-21). God desires that, ultimately, every tribe, tongue, and language be untied in Christ to form the household of God (Eph. 2:19; Rev. 5:9-10, 7:9, 21:3). As Strachan explains, “Distinctiveness is no bad thing and is, in truth, a gift and blessing of God—but unity will be our song in all the ages to come.”

The Response to Wokeness

The final chapter of Strachan’s book considers the reality of American history, specifically slavery and the civil rights movement. He concludes with recommendations for how Christians can respond to woke ideology in a biblical way, reminding his readers: “We cannot fall silent. We cannot stand by as people around us are taken captive by wokeness or any ungodly ideology.”

Although Christians ought to recognize racism’s sinfulness and the necessity of repentance for racist thoughts, actions, and attitudes, they should also recognize that certain groups of people are not inherently racist simply because of the color of their skin. Strachan concludes, “Wokeness is advancing far too quickly to treat this matter lightly, or to assume that these issues will simply ‘go away.’” He reminds his readers, “No—they will not go away. As we have argued throughout the book, strongholds and false ideologies must be destroyed, not ignored or treated with a softshoe approach.”

May we all heed this timely warning and put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17) to stand firm against all unbiblical ideologies in our day and proclaim the gospel of truth.

Owen Strachan’s recent interview about his new book on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins can be viewed here.

Opposing Modern History’s Most Persistent Bad Idea: 5 Ways Marxism Is Influencing Us Today

by Owen Strachan

July 21, 2021

Karl Marx’s ideas continue to be popular, despite the fact that a 100 million body count and an unmatched catalogue of misery follows them like a funeral procession wherever they go. Like the NFL coach who has only failed wherever he’s gone yet somehow keeps getting jobs, Marx’s ideas never work but remain perennially popular for the young and the naive. This is sadly true today; we can clearly identify how a Marxist framework is influencing our society, and decidedly for the worse. 

As I do in greater depth in my brand-new book, Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel—and the Way to Stop It, I want to show in this short piece how neo-Marxist ideas are harming us all. Here are five key neo-Marxist formulations that are influencing us today.

1. “You are an oppressor if you are white.”

Marx structured all of society in terms of two groups: “every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes,” he and Engels wrote in The Communist Manifesto. He applied this theory economically, but today, his paradigm has been appropriated by some sociologists in their attempts to explain racial conflict. According to Critical Race Theory (CRT), white people are structurally oppressors of people of color. Having white skin means you’re automatically part of a movement of oppression. This vision of “white” people, racial Marxism, means neo-Marxism is truly neo-racism.

2. “You are oppressed if you are a person of color.”

According to CRT, people of color are fundamentally oppressed by white people. People of color do not live in a fair and prosperous order; they live in an environment framed by “white supremacy.” Robin DiAngelo defines such a culture as one “that positions white people and all that is associated with them (whiteness) as ideal.” According to woke voices, this condition terrorizes people of color, leaving them without agency, without justice, and without hope. Instead of teaching people that their freedom and destiny are in the hands of “white” oppressors, we do better to teach them to reject such a view, and take agency in their own life. Can “white” people wrong others? Absolutely. Is every “white” person a “white supremacist”? Absolutely not. 

3. “The way forward is revolution.”

Marxism talks a big game about lifting people out of squalor. But none of its tenets actually dignify the individual. Instead, Marxism denies the uniqueness of the individual, making them a mere pawn in a broader societal battle, one that ultimately causes only more suffering for the people it supposedly strengthens. The brutal forms of societal change that Marxism specializes in were on vital display last summer, when under the banner of social justice, Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and many swept-up citizens destroyed businesses, ruined neighborhoods, and caused numerous deaths. No gentle new order, this. But what else would we expect of a Marx-influenced movement?

4. “I know who you are without knowing you.”

Marxism trains people to think they know others without knowing them. If you see a white person, you know who they are, according to wokeness. You know they’re privileged; you know they’re guilty of “white fragility”; you know they’re an oppressor, even though they may well try to deny it. Racial Marxism is just like economic Marxism: it tells us we know people without knowing them. But this is baseless. In order to know someone, you need to learn about them as an individual and figure out what makes them tick. You can’t run a stereotype scan on them. You need to treat them like an actual human being, which the humane system of redemptive Christianity not only allows for but encourages.

5. “We can achieve utopia in this life.”

This is truly the primary reason why Marxism continues to recur despite its abysmal track record. People are suckers for a utopian vision. As I make clear in Christianity and Wokeness, we all feel pulled to one in some sense, even though Christians should know that this world is not going to become perfect outside of divine agency. Nonetheless, Marx’s ideals, like leftist “progressivism” more broadly, hook fresh generations of catch all the same. People in the West continually believe, in fresh cycles, that Marx’s ideas will surely work this time around. That mythic boost never happens, however. Violence and bloodshed invariably explode, and yet this formulation continues to get traction in each generation. It is a repeat performance as comedic as it is tragic.

In sum, Marx’s vision looks so promising to so many. But it is far better to realize that Marx’s utopia is not possible. It would be a much better idea to accept a world in which one must make and accept “tradeoffs” rather than casting about for a perfect cure-all to every problem that ails us. If we could get people off the drug of paradisical statism, we would help them tremendously, queueing them up to appreciate the free market, free speech, free governments, and a free church. In yet simpler terms, we would liberate them—at least for now—from the clutches of history’s most persistent bad idea: Marxism. 

Owen Strachan’s recent interview about his new book on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins can be viewed here.

Owen Strachan is a Senior Fellow for FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview. A graduate of Bowdoin College, Dr. Strachan is the author of Christianity and Wokeness: How the Social Justice Movement Is Hijacking the Gospel—and the Way to Stop It, Provost of Grace Bible Theological Seminary, and host of The Antithesis podcast.

How Unmet Expectations Destroy our Faith

by Joseph Backholm

July 21, 2021

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

If you are married, there’s a good chance you did some premarital counseling that included conversations about what to expect in marriage. These conversations hopefully encompassed much more than who is going to mow the lawn and manage the money. Ideally, these conversations fostered an understanding of what “in good times and bad” actually means. In marriage, as in all relationships, disappointment often results when our expectations don’t match reality.

The Christian life isn’t all that different. Many people turn to God because of problems they hope He can fix. Some of us are like the so-called “foxhole Christian” who promises to “live for God” if He will spare our lives and help us survive the battle. Of course, God can meet us in our moments of biggest need, but if we surrender to God because of what He might do for us (instead of what He has already done for us) we run the risk of our expectations not matching reality.

If we expect that serving God will make our lives easier, what happens when serving God makes life harder? Could this help explain why some Christians are walking away from their faith? Here is some research I detailed in a recent publication:

America is becoming less religious and has been for a while. In just the last decade, the number of people claiming to be Christian has declined 12 percent—from 77 percent to 65 percent. Not only is America less Christian as a percentage, the total number of professing Christians has declined from 176 million in 2009 to 167 million in 2019, even as the population increased by 23 million.

Further:

The fastest growing religious category in America is the “nones”—those who claim to have no religion at all. Over the last decade, the number of Protestants declined 15 percent and the number of Catholics declined 12 percent, while the “nones” grew 70 percent—from 12 percent of the population to 17 percent in 2019. That’s an additional 30 million people who now claim no religious faith. Of those, 78 percent grew up in the church. The church is losing its own kids.

Cultural shifts never have just one cause, but it’s worth considering whether people leave the church because, as with many marriages, their expectations didn’t match reality.

When we become Christians, we take sides in a spiritual war that has been raging on this planet since Adam and Eve first sinned. Taking sides in a war—particularly a spiritual one—has consequences. Although this might seem obvious, it is often not highlighted when the gospel is presented.

Of course, submitting our lives to Christ does fix our biggest problem: our sin. But many people are unaware of what their biggest problem is, and in many cases, people are more interested in solving their financial, social, or marital problems than their damnation problem. It’s easy to be more interested in the gifts than the Giver, but from God’s perspective, He is the prize: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Mat. 6:33).

The Christian life is filled with joy (Ps. 16:11), but the joy of the Christian life is counterintuitive to the world’s ideas about joy. Even our suffering can be a source of joy: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2, NKJV). 

In fact, we are blessed at the moments when life might seem most challenging, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake and the gospel” (Mat. 5:11). Being misunderstood and mistreated can not only be a source of joy but evidence that we are doing exactly what Jesus wants us to do: “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mat. 5:12).

If we come to Jesus because the Lamb is worthy of His reward, we will never be disappointed. If we come to Jesus because we were hoping He could fix a few things, it could be unsettling if our lives become temporarily more difficult.

The reward of the Christian life is not the absence of pain. In fact, becoming a Christian may introduce even more pain and persecution into your life. But one of the rewards of following Jesus is seeing that our pain—even our deepest hurt and suffering—is temporary and that what awaits us on the other side of the pain is more than worth it. This was the apostle Paul’s point when he said, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18). Moreover, as Christians, we gain the perspective that God is at work in our sufferings and uses them to conform us into the people He wants us to be.

Many Christians did not sign up expecting a war. For many, once being a Christian became more of a liability rather than an asset (culturally speaking), they sought a discharge from the service. If we come to Jesus more focused on this life than the next, it’s possible we’ll be disappointed. Based on the numbers, many people are.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of July 11)

by Family Research Council

July 16, 2021

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

1. Update: The Boy Scouts: A Case Study in Compromise

After 100 years of teaching future presidents, explorers, and civil rights leaders to follow their moral compass, it’s been sobering to watch the Boy Scouts lose their own bearings. And yet, the unhappy ending for one of America’s proudest traditions was easy to predict once the organization started chasing the approval of critics it could never win.

2. Update: ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m Here to Vaccinate’

Most people were shocked when the president wanted to go door-to-door with his vaccine campaign—but that’s only the half of it. According to a Pentagon spokesman, the White House is also planning to go barracks to barracks—requiring the men and women of our voluntary military to surrender their freedom and take an unproven shot some of them don’t want.

3. Blog: How to Respond to Your Friend Who Is Leaving the Faith

Many Christians are taught how to share the gospel with non-Christians, but what’s often not taught is how to respond when those who were raised within the church, have heard the truth, and even perhaps once believed in the gospel walk away from the faith. How can Christians respond to our friends’ situations and choices with grace, humility, and compassion?

4. Blog: How California’s New Sex Ed Program Will Harm Kids

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” As Christians, we are called to raise our children with biblical truths and morals. However, the public education system is implementing curricula that teach children beliefs that go directly against biblical truths and create long lasting psychological problems for children.

5. Washington WatchCraig Parshall, Mo Brooks, Meg Kilgannon

Tony was joined by Craig L. Parshall, attorney for the American Center for Law and Justice, to discuss President Biden’s executive order on Big Tech. Mo Brooks, U.S. Representative for Alabama, talked about the implications of a mandatory COVID vaccine for the U.S. military. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s senior fellow for education studies, gave an update on Chicago Public Schools’ new sex education policy.

6. Washington Watch: Andy Harris, David Curry, Grace Chao, Andrew Brunson

Tony was joined by Andy Harris, U.S. Representative for Maryland, to discuss the situation in Cuba among other topics. David Curry, President and CEO of Open Doors USA, shared Open Doors’ recent report on religious liberty in India. Grace Gao, Daughter of Gao Zhisheng, shared her story of the Chinese government targeting her father, who has been missing for the past four years. And, Andrew Brunson, FRC’s Special Advisor for International Religious Freedom, gave highlights from this week’s IRF Summit 2021.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: America’s Crime Wave

On this edition of Pray Vote Stand, Tony Perkins was joined by Rep. Mary Miller, Wiley Thompson, and Pastor Phil Hotsenpiller to discuss and pray about the rise in crime around the country and what we, the church, can do.

California’s Latest Travel Ban Should Be a Teachable Moment for Conservatives

by Damon Sidur , Gabby Wiggins

July 16, 2021

On June 28, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that California will add five more states to its travel ban. State-funded travel will no longer be permitted to states on this list because they passed bills that California considers “discriminatory.”

The number of states on California’s anti-travel list has been growing over the years and has now reached a total of 17, with this new addition of Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The ban will have an impact on public school trips, universities, teacher conferences, and any other business that public employees of the state of California may need to attend around the country.

Bonta justified the additions to the travel ban by claiming the moral high ground. “The states [banned] are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ community,” Bonta’s office explained in a press release. However, these laws are necessary to (1) preserve fair competition in women’s sports by requiring that athletes who identify as transgender participate in sports according to their biological sex, and (2) to prevent youth from making drastic, permanent life-altering decisions (like taking puberty blocking drugs) until they reach adulthood, such as Arkansas’ SAFE Act.

The first travel ban from California was introduced in 2017. Then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra signed into law Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibited a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that has so-called “discriminatory” laws against gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation. The first state it applied to was Oklahoma.

Oklahoma had signed into law Senate Bill 1140, which allowed private foster care/adoption agencies to use their own discretion when placing children into homes. For religious organizations, it meant that they could continue to place children only into families with a mother and a father. Neither adoption nor foster care by those identifying as LGBTQ is banned in Oklahoma; the bill simply upholds that private organizations are allowed to operate in accordance with their beliefs. However, according to advocates of the LGBTQ cause, SB 1140  discriminated against those identifying as LGBTQ. Allie Shin, the External Affairs Director of ACLU Oklahoma, stated that “Rather than stand up to religious fanaticism, the Governor has chosen to reinforce the delusions of those who confuse discrimination with liberty.” Shortly after, California enacted AB1887.

However, Becerra didn’t stop at just Oklahoma. Over the course of the next several years, he signed laws prohibiting state-funded travel to Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. All of these states have passed laws similar to Oklahoma’s or that fall under the category of LGBTQ issues.

Blocking state-funded travel to a third of the country comes with consequential economic impacts. Lisa Hermes, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in McKinney, Texas, said that “the state could lose out on as much as $1 billion dollars of economic impact if the NCAA canceled its events currently slated to take place in Texas — such as the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game set for Houston and the 2023 Women’s Final Four in Dallas.” In Louisville, Kentucky, the city lost over $2 million in revenue after two companies canceled events they were going to hold there. Even Nashville, which is a left-leaning city, was impacted after the American Counseling Association canceled a meeting they had scheduled, which would have brought 3,000 visitors to the state (and business to hotels and restaurants to boot) and would have brought in $4 million worth of tax revenue.

While these new bans by California are obviously more harmful than helpful, they are also a dangerous example of the level that the Left will stoop to in order to make a large statement. It’s hard to argue against the fact that by shutting down state-funded travel to 17 states, California’s stances on issues like transgenderism are getting lots of attention. This travel ban is one of many ways that the Left is forcing culture to align with their agenda. There’s also issues like the MLB moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia because of pressure from the Left.

With all of this happening in the culture around us, what is our role as Christians and conservatives? The Left is following through on what they say they’re going to do, and it’s having an economic impact. How should we respond? We need to follow through on our beliefs as well and use God’s word as the basis for our decisions and actions. As Christians, we need to firmly take a stand not just with our words, but with our actions by using our hard-earned money to make an economic impact for biblical values just as the Left is making an economic impact with their policies. As believers, we can do this by supporting companies and organizations that align with our biblical values.

Gabby Wiggins is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

The Duty of Parents in Education

by David Closson

July 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How California’s New Sex Ed Program Will Harm Kids

by Sophia Lorey

July 14, 2021

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” As Christians, we are called to raise our children with biblical truths and morals. However, the public education system is challenging this mission by implementing curricula that teach children beliefs that go directly against biblical truths. Not only is public education introducing lessons that go against what Christians believe, it is also creating long lasting psychological problems for children.

Sex education is nothing new to the public school system, though how it is being taught has changed immensely. Federally funded sex education began with good intentions by focusing on adults. After World War I, the government began an education program out of concern over so many soldiers returning home with STDs. However, a century later, the approach and depth of what is being taught to children is unrecognizable to how it began and has become quite disturbing.

There is a direct link to children being introduced or shown sexual content and increased mental health problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APA)’s Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.” Research done by the APA also reveals that when girls are introduced to sexualized images at such a young age, it can result in self-image problems, eating disorders, and shame when it comes to their own body, and it affects boys as well. Exposure to sexual content for adolescents can lead to attitude changes about sex and gender, sexual activity progressively beginning at a younger age, and a rise in sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. According to American Academy of Pediatrics:

More than 100 studies have revealed links between young people’s exposure to objectifying content and their objectification of women or self-objectification. Those exposed to objectifying portrayals are more tolerant of or in agreement with sexual harassment, adversarial sexual beliefs, rape myths, child sex abuse myths, and interpersonal violence than participants without this exposure and experience greater body dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety, and disordered eating beliefs.

One of the most egregious examples of harmful sex education being implemented happened recently in California. In the fall of 2015, the California Healthy Youth Act – AB 329 was passed in the state legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. This bill was proposed with the intention to “strengthen” sex education in California. According to the ACLU, it will “update and strengthen existing requirements for HIV prevention education and sexual health education to ensure that students receive education that is accurate, comprehensive, and inclusive.” However, this positive description is far from accurate.

There are five main goals to AB 329 that the California Department of Education lists. These goals include encouraging children to see sexuality as a normal part of human development, discussing gender identity and sexual orientation, and providing educators with clear tools and guidance. At first glance, these goals do not seem overtly harmful, yet they do not show the true nature of the curriculum that is provided and demanded to be taught.

The sex ed curriculum promoted by AB 329 welcomes and encourages sexual activity for minors (p. 6), teaches children how to obtain birth control (p. 17), and gives instructions on how to get an abortion without consent from a parent (p. 18). The curriculum also provides external resources to indecent websites for students to “explore” even more sexual content on their own. AB 329 also includes lessons on how people can explore different sexual orientations and includes instruction about gender expression and identity.

This new sex education recommended curriculum is going to expose children to photographs, videos, and lessons that are way too explicit for their age. Students will be shown and taught a curriculum that normalizes sexual activity by minors and takes away their innocence. It will also interrupt how a parent chooses to teach their child about sex without regard to their religious or moral beliefs. What AB 329 has implemented in K-12 public education directly challenges and goes against religious and moral beliefs that a family may hold.

AB 329 became law in January of 2016, though the State Board of Education did not adopt the framework until 2019. The new sex education was going to be implemented into schools in 2020, but due to school closures because of COVID-19, the curriculum was put on a pause until students return in person this year. It will not be long until we see the negative effects this curriculum will have on society, specifically the innocence of children.

It is time for parents to become informed and fight for the innocence of their children as AB 329 takes effect. Now that California has taken on this new sexual education curriculum, it will not be long before other states follow. As Christians, it is important now more than ever that we pray for the education system, get involved, and fight for our children.

Sophia Lorey is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

How to Respond to Your Friend Who Is Leaving the Faith

by Molly Carman

July 13, 2021

In its annual American Worldview Inventory report, the Cultural Research Center announced the results of a nationwide survey that revealed, among other things, that only six percent of American adults hold a biblical worldview—an all-time low. For some, this statistic might be just another number. But for others, this statistic is deeply discouraging because it is indicative of their friends and family leaving the Christian faith.

Many Christians are taught how to share the gospel with non-Christians, but what’s often not taught is how to respond when those who were raised within the church, have heard the truth, and even perhaps once believed in the gospel walk away from the faith. Individuals may choose to leave Christianity for a variety of reasons, perhaps because of a painful experience (e.g., a church split or being a victim of abuse), doubts left unanswered (or feeling rejected when their doubts are voiced), or a sin they want to participate in. No matter the reason, Christians need to respond to our friends’ situations and choices with grace, humility, and compassion.

Here are four steps you can take when responding to a friend who has announced they are leaving the faith.

1. Listen and Learn

Listen to what your friend has to say. James wrote, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (1:19). If your friend is willing to share their reasoning for leaving the faith, it is best to hear them out rather than berating them or getting defensive. Choosing to leave the Christian faith is no small decision, one your friend has most likely wrestled with in private. Your friend’s heart will likely grow harder towards Christianity if you respond to their decision with hostility and rebuke.

Listening will also provide you with an opportunity to learn any areas in which your discipleship of them or fellowship with them as believers may have fallen short. Do not assume that you already know why your friend is making this choice. If they are willing to confide in you, be fully present and listen to their story.

2. Ask Questions

After your friend has confided in you, you can ask questions. Some of the best questions to start with are:

  • What has led to this decision?
  • What has been hard?
  • What has been good?
  • Tell me more about that.
  • What do you need right now?

By asking thoughtful questions, you can learn how your friend has been processing, thinking, and reasoning through this choice. Your job in these conversations is not to be right, win a debate, or convince your friend to change their mind. Instead, your job is to seek to understand how they came to their conclusions. Leaving the faith is a serious choice, and we must take our friends seriously and choose our words judiciously: “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (Prov. 21:23).

3. Offer Encouragement

Offer encouragement to your friend. That is to say, do not encourage them to leave the faith. Instead, encourage them by letting them know that they are not alone in struggling with their faith.

Being a Christian comes at a price. Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). He also said that the world would hate and despise those who love and follow Him (John 18:15-25). Being a Christian also does not mean never struggling with sin or having doubts. In Romans 7, Paul describes the struggle with sin that Christians will continue to have.

We should reassure those who are thinking of leaving the faith that it is okay to have doubts, falter, struggle with sin, or be weary or afraid. Be careful not to puff yourself up (1 Cor. 8:1). Instead, show your friend empathy, remembering that you are a human as well. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ask God for the words to say to encourage your friend.

4. Pray

Finally, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Only God can change your friend’s heart and mind. It is God who turns the heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezk. 36:26). Pray to have the self-control to listen, the wisdom to ask good questions and seek understanding, and the love and courage necessary to uplift your friend and speak life into their situation if invited. Do not give unsolicited advice but keep that door open and pray that the words of your mouth would be pleasing to God (Ps. 19:14). Pray for your friend’s healing and renewed trust. Pray that God would reveal Himself to your friend and that they would respond and not reject the truth. Also, invite other Christians to pray with you for those you know who are leaving the faith.

Our hearts should break for those who are discouraged, scared, or disillusioned and are considering leaving the faith. We must continuously build one another up in Christ:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Heb. 10:23-25)

The Church’s Central Role in Public Health

by Damon Sidur , Sophia Lorey

July 12, 2021

In March 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, church doors were closed—most voluntarily in response to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation—for the sake of public health and the unknown. Unfortunately, in retrospect, we are learning that closing churches for extended periods hurt public health in some ways, even as it protected it in others. Studies by the CDC now show that depression and suicide rose dramatically for teens and young adults, an age demographic considered to be at lower risk from COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, churches that had closed their doors voluntarily remained closed by state and local government mandates, with the aim of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and hopefully saving lives. Although most pastors willingly cooperated at first, it was not long until they began to see the negative repercussions of a prolonged closure, and many decided to reopen in spite of government mandates.

As the media pushed their round-the-clock coverage of COVID-19 deaths, they failed to address another health crisis facing the United States: death by suicide. Due to isolation, loss of jobs, fear, and other factors, depression, anxiety, and suicide rates skyrocketed in 2020, especially in teens and young adults. CDC Director Robert Redfield discussed in a Buck Institute webinar that suicides and drug overdoses have surpassed the death rate for COVID-19 among high school students. However, it was not just high school students that were being affected. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that:

substance use and suicidal ideation are particularly pronounced for young adults, with 25% reporting they started or increased substance use during the pandemic (compared to 13% of all adults), and 26% reporting serious thoughts of suicide (compared to 11% of all adults).

In May of 2019, 11 percent of adults 18 and over suffered from symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder, according to the CDC. In May of 2020, this number tripled as the CDC reported 34.52 percent of adults 18 and over suffered from symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic created a secondary crisis that the church could do little to help resolve while being shut down.

In a world full of hopelessness, the Bible offers genuine hope. Churches across America provide this hope by preaching the Word of God while also providing peace, community, encouragement, and so much more. Yet, their doors were closed during the pandemic, hampering their ability to fellowship and to serve. Theologically speaking, this is why Hebrews 10:25 commands us to gather for corporate worship: “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” As the pandemic and the mandatory closures stretched on, there was a need for churches to be open, and many pastors saw this and began to take a stand.

Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills addressed the increasing mental health issues as the church doors remained closed. On May 5, 2020, in a message directed towards all pastors in California, Hibbs observed that although churches can reach an immense amount of people online, “our local community has been spiritually starving.” He also underscored how the church needs to be a community again and be together now more than ever to provide prayer and hope for all those struggling. Opening his church in May of 2020 was difficult for Hibbs, as he defied California Governor Gavin Newsom’s restrictions, which were unjustly singling out churches and burdening them more extensively than their secular counterparts.

However, the response to the reopening of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills was overwhelming. His congregation grew quickly by the thousands, drawing people desperate for hope and Christ during the nationwide shutdown. While reaching people online was possible and important, our souls yearn for an in-person community. It is now clear that forcing churches to close for so long has had unintended consequences.

Thankfully, in February 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the complaints of California churches like Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena that claimed they were being unjustly discriminated against, lifting the state government’s ban on indoor worship.

While the world focused on the physical health crisis created by COVID-19, many overlooked the mental and spiritual health crisis it also created. In God’s gracious provision to His followers, He gave us the church. If the pandemic has taught us anything, surely it is that gathering for corporate worship and fellowship with other believers is essential—and a privilege we should never take for granted.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

Sophia Lorey is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of July 4)

by Family Research Council

July 9, 2021

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

1. Update: Celebrating America’s Birthday

When was America born? Was it when Jamestown was settled in 1607? When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620? When the 13 colonies won the War of Independence from Great Britain in 1781? Today, revisionist historians and new progressive models claim that America was born when African slaves arrived in Virginia in 1619.

2. Update: Squad Dems: A Fourth to Be Reckoned With

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) recently used the anniversary of America’s Independence to push the 1619 Project’s false narrative of American history, claiming America is racist. But, with an elected a black president in 2008, vice president in 2020, and many members of Congress, including Cori Bush herself, can one really believe that claim?

3. Blog: This Independence Day, Let’s Recommit to Embracing Virtue

Independence Day is a time to reflect on our Founding Fathers—brave men who boldly set out to form a great nation committed to the truth that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Though our Founding Fathers were not all Christians, they all understood the essential need for virtue.

4. Blog: Britney Spears and Uyghur Women Share a Terrible Burden

A recent special hearing regarding the Britney Spears conservatorship revealed shocking details about how the famous pop star has endured forced contraception. No one should be subjected to forced sterilization, even a temporary kind via an IUD. Sadly, Britney isn’t the only person suffering this fate today. The Chinese government is forcing this upon Uyghur Muslim women.

5. Washington WatchLisa McClain, Kristen Waggoner, John Bursch, Meg Kilgannon

Tony was joined by Lisa McClain, U.S. Representative for Michigan, who called out President Biden for refusing to take responsibility after he pulled U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Alliance Defending Freedom’s Kristen Waggoner lamented the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review the court decision against floral artist Barronelle Stutzman. Also with ADF, John Bursch joined to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of protecting the privacy of donors to nonprofits. And, FRC’s Meg Kilgannon discussed over 5,000 teachers pledging to push Critical Race Theory (CRT) in their classrooms.

6. Washington Watch: Greg Steube, Sam Brownback, Lea Patterson, Dan Bishop

Tony was joined by Greg Steube, U.S. Representative for Florida, to discuss attempts to hold Big Tech accountable. Sam Brownback, former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, previewed next week’s International Religious Freedom Summit. First Liberty Institute’s Lea Patterson applauded the IRS for reversing its decision to deny a religious organization tax-exempt status for their “Bible teachings.” And, Dan Bishop, U.S. Representative for North Carolina, urged parents to fight back against critical race theory in school curriculum.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Hope for the Persecuted

Around the globe, it’s never been more dangerous to be open about one’s faith. Ambassador Sam Brownback, Congressman Frank Wolf, and Pastor Steve Berger join Pray Vote Stand for a special look at what believers around the world are facing, and ways you can help those far away from wherever you stand.

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