Culture

Young Pro-Marriage Conservatives Undaunted by the Battle Ahead


Eric Teetsel and The Manhatten Declaration ARP Church Anthony R Locke

They hear that their cause is lost, that demographics and the march of history have doomed their campaign to keep marriage only between a man and a woman. But the young conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage – unlike most of their generation – remain undaunted.

They identify themselves as part of the “pro-marriage movement” and see themselves at the beginning of a long political struggle, much like the battle over abortion. If they can begin shifting the terms of the debate away from gay rights and toward the meaning of marriage, they say, they have a chance to survive short-term defeats.

“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”

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To put it another way, opponents of same-sex marriage say they must argue in favor of traditional marriage, not against gay people or gay rights. “It’s really a broader defense of marriage and a stronger marriage culture,” said Will Haun, 26, a lawyer and member of the Federalist Society.

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Which Politician Stood Before 65 Mill Viewers and Labeled Our National Debt Immoral? — Revelation 11:15-19


When Lot was in front of the people of Sodom, he weakened the message of the Bible so that the people would leave him and his family alone.

Churches do the same thing today. We have lowered our rhetoric against sin.

During the last presidential debate, one of the candidates said that our national debt was immoral. Even good Churches don’t talk about morality.

Maybe this is why there isn’t much persecution of believers in America.

We have stopped saying what God told us to say for our own comfort sake.

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Why I Am Participating in Pulpit Freedom Sunday — Wayne Grudem


This Sunday I have agreed to join nearly 1,500 pastors nationwide and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom. In my sermon, I plan to recommend that people vote for one presidential candidate and one political party that I will name. We will then all send our sermons to the IRS.

This action is in violation of the 1954 “Johnson Amendment” to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing any candidate by name. But in our nation, a higher law than the IRS code is the Constitution, which forbids laws “abridging freedom of speech” or “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion (First Amendment).

If you participated, please tell us how your sermon was received in the comment section below.

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California Makes It Illegal to Try and Convert Gays Under the Age of 18


Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he had signed SB 1172 which prohibits sexual orientation change efforts for anyone under 18.

Conservative religious groups and some Republicans have argued that banning conversion therapy would hinder parents’ right to provide psychological care for children experiencing gender confusion.

The Encino, Calif.-based National Association for Research and Therapy on Homosexuality said in August that the bill was a case of “legislative overreach,” and Lieu’s claims of harm to children were based on politics, not research.

The effect of the law, in brief, makes it illegal to try and convert any gay person under the age of 18 if your goal is to free them from the sin of homosexuality.

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The Powerful Legacy of William Tyndale


A hundred years ago a comet made of frozen gas entered our atmosphere and made impact in Russia, in a swampy forest in western Siberia. When an ice comet travels through Earth’s atmosphere, the friction melts and atomizes the frozen gas into a trail of flammable vapor that spreads from the Earth’s crust all the way back to the highest parts of our stratosphere. When the explosion happens on the surface of the earth, the fire ball has the potential to reach thousands of miles high with the explosive power of a thousand atomic bombs.

The shock wave from that explosion flattened 80 million trees over 800 square miles. The center of the impact left all the trees standing straight up with no branches.

The fireball stretched back into the outer atmosphere, as high as there is burnable oxygen to ignite the trial of gas left in the wake of the comet’s path. This produced so much light that a day later Londoners could read their newspapers under the night sky.

The comet struck at 7:17 am on June 30, 1908. Just over a hundred years ago.

But the energy from that event pales in significance to another explosion that happened 500 years ago in London, an explosion of light that set the world ablaze, and still shines today. That light is the glory of the Son of God shining forth from the pages of Holy Writ. That light wasn’t shining very well for a thousand years before Tyndale.

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The Deep Things of Satan . . . in the Church of Thyatira


Christians in Thyatira felt pressure from the trade guilds. We would call them Unions.

Imagine yourself living in Chicago as an electrician. If you are willing to join a Union and vote for the local politicians then you’re fine.

But let’s say you’re a Tea Party radical and a conservative political activist. Could you get employment as an electrician in Chicago?

The Unions in Thyatira were teaching immoral and corrupting values. Each guild worshipped a deity who promised financial success and good health.

Worship was like a Mardi Gras Party. The guilds sponsored immoral festivals like what you might see in Rio de Janeiro. Union members were expected to participate or possibly lose their benefits.

Christians faced a huge dilemma. They could attend these festivals and eat the meat offered to the idols, or boycott the festivals and damage their careers. Some Christians did speak out and call the society to repentance. Others, within the church, argued that participation was fine. Jesus calls these church people Jezebels.

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Can We Negotiate a Ceasefire with Satan? — Revelation 2:12-17


Abraham Kuyper said that, “There is not a square inch in heaven or on earth or under the earth in which there is peace between Christ and Satan.”

Jesus said that Satan lived in Pergamum. Does Satan dwell in your town?

You can tell be answering this question — “Do your neighbors publicly express their animosity toward God without shame?”

Is homosexuality celebrated? Are cults and witchcraft treated as acceptable religious options? Does the culture treat abortion as a morally neutral decision? Is living together without the benefit of marriage considered moral? Is pornographic material readily available?

How much animosity against God can citizens flaunt without being shunned? Can people be publically sinful and not become social outcasts?

Answering these questions will measure the level at which Satan is allowed to feel at home within your own community.

Do you help Satan feel comfortable by going along to get along? Have you lost your saltiness? Have you negotiated a ceasefire with Satan to protect your own skin? Jesus calls this the error of Balaam.

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In Defense of Marriage — Focus on the Family


Dear Friend,

I have some bad news to report. Just yesterday, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston declared that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The federal definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman has applied to all federal laws, regulations and benefits since 1996. This lawsuit involves claims from same-sex couples demanding federal benefits that are reserved for heterosexual couples.

Essentially, the appellate court said the federal government—and by extension, the taxpayers in all 50 states—must subsidize whatever types of arrangements a state may choose to call “marriage.”

Think about that for minute. In the 1800s, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of Congress to forbid polygamy in any territory wishing to apply for statehood. But the federal appeals court in Boston today ignored that history and declared Congress has no interest in keeping the definition of marriage the same as it has been for thousands of years.
 

Also visit the Heritage Foundation’s BLOG Roll on the Defense of Marriage.

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Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! — Banned by the UK Government


The man who believes he can help gay people turn straight

Dr Mike Davidson, a Christian campaigner with a homosexual past, says others, too, can reject what he calls a sin.

“We don’t consider it a disease,” says Davidson, who works under the banner of the Core Issues Trust. “There are plenty of people who work in a therapeutic context to achieve life goals. There are some people who have tried gay; it doesn’t work for them. It’s not mixing with their life circumstances. They want to move out of it. They deserve to receive professional help that is well trained, well regulated and ethical. That’s what we are trying to achieve.”

The Mayor of London has just banned advertisements that Davidson and his allies planned to put on the sides of buses, declaring: “Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it!” They were meant to mirror a campaign by the gay rights group Stonewall, but Boris Johnson pulled the ads after taking offence at the suggestion he saw within them.

“It is clearly offensive to suggest that being gay is an illness that someone can recover from,” said Johnson, who feared “a backlash so intense it would not have been in the interests of Christian people in this city”.

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Faith, Freedom, and the First Amendment: The Guarantee of Religious Liberty


Freedom of religion is at the heart of the American understanding of liberty. Under our constitutional order, the free exercise of religion is not a mere matter of toleration but an inalienable natural right.

As George Washington explained in his famous letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport: “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.” There are, of course, some limits to the free exercise of religion. Citizens cannot invoke the First Amendment to break general laws (although exemptions may be granted).

But within the confines of the law, all citizens have the same right of conscience. This essay is adapted from The Heritage Guide to the Constitution for a series providing constitutional guidance for lawmakers.

Visit the Heritage Foundation to learn more

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Briefly Noted: Is Facebook Making Us Lonely, Distracted, and Narcissistic?


In his recent article in The Atlantic, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?,” Stephen Marche suggests that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media might actually be making us more lonely (and more narcissistic, to boot).[1] Marche argues, “Social Media–from Facebook to Twitter–have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggest that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)–and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.” (p. 60)

Marche begins with the story of the death of a former B-movie star whose dead body was not discovered in her house until a year after her death (even though she had thousands of Facebook “friends”) in order to illustrate the ironic effects of Facebook on our souls and society. For Marche greater social media “connection” actually leads to greater “disconnection.” The public and shared nature of Facebook ironically can turn people more in on themselves.

I think that social media can make us more distracted and less reflective. We find it difficult to read, to reflect, to pray, or to do anything else that requires sustained attention, precisely because we are assaulted by emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook updates. We have got to find some way to carve out time in our lives for deeply human activities such as reading, contemplation, prayer, and conversation.

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More Scripture-Twisting on the Campaign Trail?


Raise your hand if you’re offended by politicians and church leaders using the Bible like a wax nose. On the left bank, there is the well-worn battery of references to Jesus and the rich young ruler, the command to “render unto Caesar,” and the last judgment where the sheep and goats are separated.

As the Washington Post poses the question: “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ In a time of economic turmoil and record poverty levels, are tax cuts for the wealthy moral?” Regular “On Faith” columnist and former seminary president Susan Brooks Thistlewaite is ready with an answer—and verses to back it up. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “‘Sell all that you own and distribute the money.’

But the young man, ‘who was very rich,’ turned away. Jesus’ comment? ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’ (Luke 18: 21-25).” “All too true,” Ms. Thistlewaite sighs with all the self-satisfaction of someone who thinks she’s not the rich young ruler. “It’s also easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a bill with the rich paying their fair share of taxes to get through Congress. Not gonna happen.”

According to a recent Pew Study, Americans think that there has been too much about religion in the political campaign. And no wonder.

It’s no time for Christians to back away from concern for the common good, bringing their deepest convictions to bear just as others do.

However, the trading of Bible verses ripped from their covenantal context and intention is a sure way to trivialize God’s Word in our society, in our churches, and in our own lives.

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Can We Ask Our Children to Pay Our Debt and Still Call Ourselves The Greatest Generation?


Every time Christians elect politicians willing to spend more in taxes than we collect, we cosign our good names to the generational theft from future generations. This is a great sin.

What is the role of the Church? We need to preach against stealing.

Is our national debt really stealing? It is no different than taking a credit card out in our child’s name. If we borrow for our own comforts, and borrow more than we can every hope to pay back, then we are shifting the responsibility for that debt to them. Regardless of our good intentions, that’s white collar crime.

The Greatest Generation will be known, by future generations, as the Morally Bankrupt Generation. We are borrowing money to give charity (Welfare, Medicaid and Food Stamps) on the backs of our grand-children. It will be known as the Greatest Crime in a Thousand Years.

Nehemiah tells us how to fix it if we are willing to get involved.

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Did God Pollute the Environment by Creating Oil?


There are voices within our culture trying to remove the label “GOOD” from the creation.

Many things that God called good, they call bad.

Oil is a good example. We are not committing a sin by unlocking the energy within the creation. God placed it there for us to find and use.

We are not sinful for cutting down trees to make paper or build homes.

The Biblical model of the family is not a curse on women. The Ten commandments are not an infringement on liberty or free speech.

We must not adopt the world’s negative view toward God’s amazing gifts.

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Cal Thomas: Politics Reveal GOD GAP and Clergy isn't helping close it


by Cal Thomas

There have been many “gaps” in modern politics. There is the gender gap, the generation gap and now the God gap, which is the gulf between people who take God’s instructions seriously and those who don’t. Which side of the gap you’re on could influence your vote.

The God gap is growing wider.

I asked Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum about this. In a telephone interview with me, Santorum, whose rhetoric is loaded with religious and cultural language, said, “While (such language) may be upsetting to some, there’s a hunger out there for talking about what’s true.”

How, then, would he explain a recent New York Times story that reported for the first time in our history, that “more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.” Santorum acknowledged, “I’m probably talking to Republican audiences, so it’s a little different. I’m not talking to the general audience at this point. Marriage is on the decline. The culture is changing.”

The problem for presidential candidates — and for President Obama, who occasionally appeals to Scripture to justify his policies — is that fewer people are listening to the voice of God, or to voices claiming to speak for Him.

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Forget the Money, Follow the Sacredness

By JONATHAN HAIDT In the film version of “All the President’s Men,” when Robert Redford, playing the journalist Bob Woodward, is struggling to unravel the Watergate conspiracy, an anonymous source advises him to “follow the money.” It’s a good rule of thumb for understanding the behavior of politicians. But following the money leads you astray…

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Social Security is Destroying America's Family Culture

Written by Marvin Olasky Parents worked hard to provide for their children. When the parents could no longer work, the children provided for them. That was social security through the centuries. Given the vagaries of life it wasn’t always secure, but in general it worked—and when it did not, extended families, churches, and charitable ministries…

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Kids Fight to Hold Bible Study During School Recess: Appeals Court Set to Rule on Battle over the Good Book

By Jack Minor An attorney for a then-4th-grader who was prohibited by school officials from holding a Bible study with his friends at recess time says an appeals court will be hearing the case to clear up misunderstandings – and even misrepresentations – about the situation. Jonathan Scruggs, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund,…

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Banks foreclosing on churches in record numbers


By Tim Reid

Banks are foreclosing on America’s churches in record numbers as lenders increasingly lose patience with religious facilities that have defaulted on their mortgages, according to new data.

The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance.

Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, with 90 percent of those sales coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure, according to the real estate information company CoStar Group.

In 2011, 138 churches were sold by banks, an annual record, with no sign that these religious foreclosures are abating, according to CoStar. That compares to just 24 sales in 2008 and only a handful in the decade before.

The church foreclosures have hit all denominations across America, black and white, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches.

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Faith-Based Movies Make More Money Than Liberal Movies

by Billy Hallowell Hollywood films are often filled with sex, profanity and plenty of elements that serve as negative influences on the young people who may view them. That being said, a constant argument for these inclusions is that they are needed to sell tickets and to spark DVD sales. After all, “the people” want this…

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Two Centuries of Religious Freedom Rolled Back

Since 1791, when the Bill of Rights was formally adopted, America has enjoyed the legal protection of religious freedom, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Today, 221 years later, centuries of progress in the protection of religious and other liberties is at risk of being rolled back in one fell swoop. The culprit: Obamacare. As we all know, President…

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The Blood of Religious Liberty Enabled Freedom of Speech

Written by Geoffrey P . Hunt Saturday, 03 March 2012 It is religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and the right to assemble in order to practice community religious tenets that preceded and framed free speech everywhere else and anchored the First Amendment. Without religious liberty, the foundations under the First Amendment would collapse. Around the…

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When the Accounts Are Called: A Christian Understanding of Gambling

Written by Albert Mohler Sunday, 26 February 2012 Gambling corrupts the culture, polluting everything it touches. Recent scandals in college basketball are proof positive that gambling is not a problem limited to casinos and horse tracks. Ominously, industry executives see great promise in the development of on-line gambling over the Internet, bringing gambling to every…

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Debt doomsday more imminent?

By: Seung Min Kim February 24, 2012 The federal government could hit the debt ceiling sooner than expected — and possibly around the November election — according to a report out Friday. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill had hoped that last summer’s deal to end the nasty fight over lifting the debt ceiling would ensure the issue wouldn’t resurface…

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The Jeremy Lin Problem

By DAVID BROOKS Jeremy Lin is anomalous in all sorts of ways. He’s a Harvard grad in the N.B.A., an Asian-American man in professional sports. But we shouldn’t neglect the biggest anomaly. He’s a religious person in professional sports. We’ve become accustomed to the faith-driven athlete and coach, from Billy Sunday to Tim Tebow. But…

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Country Singers and Psalmists Sing Sad Songs

Written by William H. Smith Monday, 20 February 2012 Here is where sad songs come it, particularly country ones. They tell you that your misery has company and is understood: “Once upon a time there was tomorrow, but that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.” The news on depression is somewhat depressing. The popular story, and the…

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The First Principles of Rick Santorum

By MOLLY WORTHEN Eric Gay/Associated PressRick Santorum prayed before speaking at Oral Roberts University on Thursday. Last month, when prominent evangelical pastors and political activists emerged from their Texas powwow to announce that they had anointed Rick Santorum as their standard-bearer, the blogosphere pronounced the endorsement too little, too late, and kept all sights firmly on…

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ARP Views on Abortion

We believe that the Scriptures clearly and plainly testifies to the infinite worth of human life by virtue of man having been created in the image and likeness of God, and that decisions about life and death are God’s prerogatives and not man’s, and that even in the case of rare exceptions such as judgments…

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A Sanctity of Human Life Sunday Prayer

Rev. Matt Miller   As your church celebrates Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we recall a special prayer from one of our ARP ministers whose wife was pregnant when he delivered his January 2011 sermon and this prayer. Rev. Matt Miller (Greenville (SC)ARP Church) and his wife, Lindsay, are now the parents of a beautiful…

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