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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Yesterday a senate committee in Richmond voted in favor of Virginia ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.Yes, I am speaking of your grandmother’s ERA.The deadline Congress set for states to ratify the amendment has long since passed—nearly three decades ago. Proponents couldn’t convince enough states that it was a good idea within the deadline, and since then five states have withdrawn their ratification.The issue is officially moot. But proponents hope they can convince enough states to go through the motions anyway, and then convince a lawless judge to ignore the deadline.The Left loves lawless judges.Women deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. We can all agree on that. But the ERA won’t deliver these things—in fact, it will undermine them.The same lawless judges who might ignore ratification deadlines could also employ the ERA to eliminate the recognition of male and female. But that puts men in women’s shelters and prisons. It puts men in women’s bathrooms and showers. It puts men in women’s sports.We don’t need that kind of help.The ERA is not only anti-woman, but anti-children—especially the most vulnerable waiting to be born. Proponents say the ERA is not about abortion. But look at what they do: Every time a state considers ERA language that is abortion-neutral, they kill it. That’s because abortion is at the heart of the ERA.Women deserve safe spaces, privacy, and a level playing field. Children deserve a fighting chance to be born.When the Virginia Senate takes up the measure in the days ahead, they should waste no time in putting to rest this bad, old idea.
An addendum to last Friday's themeby Phil JohnsonDo you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. -James 4:4cripture forbids believers to imbibe the world's values (cf. 1 John 2:6; Romans 8:5-6; Matthew 6:19-21) or set their affections on things of the earth rather than on heavenly things (cf. Colossians 3:2; 1 John 2:15; Matthew 16:23). Christians do not belong to this world. We are not beholden to the world. We cannot legitimately court the world's admiration or approval. And it is wrong to think otherwise. Jesus told His disciples, "If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:9).That truth is ignored or rejected by multitudes of twenty-first-century evangelical Christians who wrongly believe that if the church does not first win the world's friendship and admiration, we have no hope of reaching anyone for Christ. Some of today's largest and most influential churches even take surveys to find out the desires and ambitions of unbelievers in their communities. They then plan their Sunday services accordingly, putting on a performance that caters to what people say they desire.Popular televangelists follow a cruder version of the same strategy, promising people health, prosperity, and riches in return for money. They are today's equivalent of the medieval indulgence-sellers. These religious charlatans make their appeal blatantly and directly to "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life"-the same carnal cravings that 1 John 2:16 says are "not of the Father but . . . of the world." Churches are full of people who are sinfully obsessed with the whims and entertainments of this world. They are desperate to keep up with various worldly fads and secular celebrities. They wrongly believe that if they embrace the icons of pop culture, the world will also embrace them and therefore be more open to Christ. So they wear the badges of worldly fashions; they echo the key elements of worldly wisdom; and they immerse themselves in worldly amusements. They cultivate an unhealthy appetite for attention, popularity, and worldly approval, convincing themselves that this is a valid evangelistic strategy.Even in the highest echelons of evangelical academia certain scholars seem driven by an unhealthy yearning for academic renown. They become so desperate to win the admiration of their counterparts in the secular academy that they willingly compromise the truth and sometimes even apostatize completely.The wish to be noticed and admired by other people is itself a carnal, illegitimate lust. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because, "They [did] all their deeds to be seen by others" (Matthew 23:5). They made a show of public piety to give the impression they were holier than anyone else.Like the Pharisees, today's stylish evangelicals fancy the praise and recognition of other people. But unlike the Pharisees, most of them want to be noticed for being hip, not holy.It dishonors Christ when Christians try to fit into the fraternity of those who hate Him. Scripture is very clear about this: "Friendship with the world is enmity with God."According to Jesus, the only business the Holy Spirit has with the world outside the church is to "convict [unbelievers] concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). Those are precisely the themes that are typically omitted when churches become too interested in winning the world's approval.The church must get back to preaching the gospel, remembering that the message of the cross, when faithfully preached, is by God's own design "a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). The gospel alone is "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16). Christians should not be ashamed to proclaim it.It's true that if we are faithful, many in the world will view us with contempt as enemies-and we must be prepared for that. "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). The world put Christ to death, and He said, "A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).Furthermore, our Lord Himself didn't shy away in shame or retaliate in anger. Indeed, "to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. . . . When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).Phil's signatureFrom 95 Theses for a New Reformation: For the Church on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, edited by Aaron B. Hebbard (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2017), 144-45.
Important developments in the church and the world (as they appeared in our November issue).China: Government targets house churches, online ministriesAuthorities closed one of Beijing’s largest house churches, Zion, after it refused to install surveillance cameras with facial recognition. Meanwhile, more than 250 Chinese church leaders signed an open letter protesting the erosion of their religious freedoms in real life and online. The latest: a proposed ban on the online sharing of prayer, Bible reading, baptism, communion, and other religious activities. If the draft rules are finalized as expected, religious websites will have six months to comply.Evangelicals argue against refugee reductionA maximum of 30,000 refugees will be allowed to resettle in the United States next fiscal year. The new ceiling imposed by the Trump administration marks a dramatic decrease from the current 45,000-person cap. The Evangelical Immigration Table—including the presidents of the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention—challenged the reduction, stating: “Cuts to our refugee admission program affect all persecuted religious minorities, but these cuts significantly impact our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.” The number of persecuted Christians who made it into America fell this year by more than 30 percent.Reparative therapy ban unexpectedly droppedThis spring, California assemblyman Evan Low introduced legislation that would have designated paid “conversion therapy” services as a fraudulent business practice. Low’s measure seemed set to pass after it moved through both of the Golden State’s legislative chambers. But at the last minute, Low quashed his own bill after meeting ...Continue reading...
The magazine Psychology Today is hardly a hotbed of social conservatism. Nor is its contributor Samuel Veissière, Ph.D. campaigning against transgender ideology or identities. But merely by treating some parents’ concern about their transgender-identified children with respect, he has managed to produce one of the more remarkable short pieces on the transgender issue that I have seen in some time.Veissière, a professor at Canada’s prestigious McGill University, is “an interdisciplinary anthropologist and cognitive scientist.” On November 28, he posted a piece on the Psychology Today website reporting on an academic article about certain youth (especially girls) who identify as transgender, published by Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University.Veissière summarized Littman’s conclusions:Littman raises cautions about encouraging young people’s desire to transition in all instances. From the cases reviewed in her study, she concluded that what she terms “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) appears to be a novel condition that emerges from cohort and contagion effects and novel social pressures. . . .(Neither Veissière, nor critics of Littman’s reliance on parental reports, cited what I consider some of the study’s most shocking revelations. Littman explains that “online advice . . . instructs individuals how to deceive parents, doctors, and therapists to obtain hormones quickly.” Apparently advice of the same nature exists for anorexics, who are given “‘anorexic tricks’ . . . for deceiving parents and doctors so that individuals may continue their weight-loss activities.” There is even a scientific term for this—it’s called “deviancy training,” which is “the process whereby attitudes and behaviors associated with problem behaviors are promoted with positive reinforcement by peers.”)Veissière added these observations from his own discipline:The notion reported by parents that the ROGD appears to be "scripted" is also telling. Medical anthropologists describe the process of outsourcing negative feelings to cultural narratives and systems of beliefs as “idioms of distress.” . . . When extreme forms of distress and coping arise through novel social pressures and spread through implicit imitation, strange epidemics of “mass psychogenic illnesses” have been documented.The latter remark reminded me of a brilliant turn of phrase by writer Rachel Lu in a 2016 piece in The Federalist. Although she applied it to the larger LGBT movement in general, it may be particularly appropriate to the transgender movement, and especially to “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.”Lu wrote:It will be remembered not as a Selma moment, but as a Salem moment: a period of collective insanity.That is, it will not be remembered as a triumph of civil rights, like the 1965 march on Selma, Alabama. Instead, it is more like the collective mass hysteria—implausible accusations of “witchcraft” against ordinary citizens—that led to the Salem witch trials in 17th-century Massachusetts.A day later, Veissière was back with another blog post, noting, “Some readers pointed out that I did not mention the controversy and significant public backlash that ensued after the study was first published in August 2018.”Universities routinely publicize the academic work published by their faculty members, and Brown University did so with Littman’s article on August 22. The school was immediately attacked by transgender activists, who did not like the implications of Littman’s article—and on August 27, Brown removed the item describing her research from their website (the article itself remained, and still remains, available from the journal PLOS ONE).This craven capitulation to political correctness led to a backlash of its own, with commentators ranging from my colleague Cathy Ruse to a former Dean of Harvard Medical School criticizing Brown for jeopardizing academic freedom.Brown denied this charge, but Veissière did not seem convinced:As it stands, the dominant and politically correct view of transgender identity being broadcast on university campuses — a view which, in a general sense, is linked to a culture of absolute validation and accommodations of people’s feelings and preferences — leaves very little room, if any, for alternative perspectives to be presented and discussed. All that is merely background for a third, more reflective piece that Veissière posted on December 2.In it, Veissière points out, as clearly and concisely as I’ve seen done anywhere, the logical contradiction at the heart of today’s gender ideology:As a very wise person put it to me, it is difficult to understand what views of gender are being called for in this new culture. On the one hand, gender is fluid, neutral, and doesn’t matter, or it isn’t a thing at all outside of false beliefs and oppressive constructs. On the other hand, gender matters so much that people will conceal, remove, or reshape their body parts to be recognized as one gender or the other. [Emphasis in the original.]Veissière makes a comment on “impulses” that could be considered a critique of the entire LGBT movement. He points out, “Impulses, which make us act on visceral needs, are always sincere. But they are rarely wise.”He illustrates the point with an example from his own youth: “In my adolescence, I committed vandalism in schools in the name of a noble fight against racism and colonial history.” However, he now admits, he knew little about either history or racism. “What I needed then was limits. Finding the right limits is as hard a project as finding the right impulses . . . [emphasis in the original].”In the reaction to his original posts, Veissière was challenged by individuals who identify as transgender—and as victimized and powerless:A “healthy debate” exists for you, but not for me. For you, this is your field of study. For me and people like me, you are one of many, many people we have to justify ourselves to.While admitting an obligation to feel empathy for the trials of those who identify as transgender, Veissière skillfully turns the point back on them:The most difficult act of compassion for those who feel comforted in the feeling that they are powerless is to gain a perspective on the vulnerability of those they perceive to be in positions of ‘power.’ . . . If you are young, powerless and angry, imagine if you will what it is like to be a manager, doctor, or professor in the age of social media, when . . . it takes a single dissatisfaction and a single email, tweet or Facebook post — a single act of anger — to annihilate your career, social, family, and financial life in a day.This is the nightmare scenario into which Lisa Littman of Brown found herself immersed.Veissière points out that the entire culture is being indoctrinated with a view of “gender” that is designed to make life easier for the tiny minority that are gender non-conforming—even though the vast majority of people (over 99 percent) still identify their “gender” with their biological sex at birth. He alludes obliquely to the harm this may cause to the majority, noting that this “odd reversal of the . . . Tyranny of the Minority”—instilling “the historical[ly] novel, highly confusing notion that gender is made up”—has results that are “terribly confusing for most, and increasingly destabilizing for the many.”We at Family Research Council disagree with the fundamental assertion of the transgender movement that a person’s psychological “gender identity” should ever be given precedence over the person’s biological sex in determining someone’s public identity as male or female. Veissière does not take that position. He affirms the (estimated) millions who identify as transgender by saying, “Denying such a large group the right to be gendered on their terms would indubitably be unjust,” and he adds generally that support for gender non-conforming teens “is a good, progressive move to help a very small group of people live healthy lives [emphasis in the original].”But when it comes to the parents of such teens (the subjects of Littman’s study), Veissière cites “an old adage:”Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.Veissière notes that efforts to “prepare the road” instead are likely to fail—thus hurting children in the long run:With this wise proposition, comes the recognition that encouraging youth to act on all their fears and desires does not prepare them well for the challenges of a world that will always come with unpredictability, and the competing needs of people with different fears and desires. The more we give each child the road they want, the more we set them up for failure and conflict with other children, who in turn want to be given a different road.Although anything but “absolute validation and accommodations of people’s feelings and preferences” has suddenly become heresy, Veissière is courageous enough to endorse parental rights by declaring that regardless of “the road [children] want,”[T]he responsibility is on their caregivers — not the children — to help them figure out, slowly and wisely, whether this is the best choice for them.I might add, it is the duty of public officials to make sure parents remain free to fulfill that sacred responsibility.
With around 500 out of 3,700 Christian applications approved since 2016 law, is government's progress on legalizing worship sites slow or steady?Egyptian Christians now have an additional 168 legal church buildings.On November 30, a cabinet committee approved the requests of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic churches to formally register facilities long functioning as centers of worship.Prior to a new law passed in August 2016, churches faced an arduous task to secure recognition by the government. Local authorities could delay or deny paperwork for licenses, often on security grounds to placate objections by neighborhood Muslims.CT previously reported how that law was not without controversy, but that it was designed to streamline the process, allow for judicial review, and transfer final approval from Egypt’s president to local governors.The law also established a committee to review church requests to license existing church facilities. Consisting of the prime minister and the ministers of justice, housing, antiquities, and others, it officially convened in January 2017.A total of 3,730 requests were submitted for approval, pending review of structural soundness and compliance with local regulations. The first batch of 53 church buildings was approved back in February.According to the government, the current decree brings the total number of approvals by the committee to 508.“I am pleased,” said Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. “The process has been slow in the beginning, but I think going forward it will be better.”Zaki is optimistic, believing the government is gaining steam and taking seriously its obligations under the law. Churches also are becoming more familiar with the required procedures.Egypt’s Protestants have submitted requests to license 1,070 church buildings, he ...Continue reading...
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