Archive for the ‘Public Affairs’ Category

Wednesday afternoon I viewed the disturbing video released for the first time on Tuesday which showed the senior medical director of Planned Parenthood casually discussing over lunch the sale of intact organs from aborted babies. It sickened me to the core of my being. The graphic nature of the subject prevents me from writing about it here.

Of course, Planned Parenthood struck back immediately, claiming that the video misrepresented Dr. Deborah Nucatola as she described the procurement process of fetal organs. However, it appears that the only thing misrepresented is Planned Parenthood’s own messy response.

In his blog this week, Dr. Al Mohler wrote:

“I have no reason to believe that the video is anything less than totally credible. But, even if Planned Parenthood somehow finds a way to evade justice in terms of criminal activity, the part of the video that Planned Parenthood does not and cannot deny reveals their senior medical director (Dr. Nucatola) enjoying a conversation over a meal in which she describes tearing apart the bodies of unborn human beings in order to get the desired organ….

“When the Allied forces liberated the concentration camps of the Nazi regime, General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the ordinary German citizens of nearby towns and villages to walk through the camps and to see what they had allowed and facilitated. Eisenhower’s point was all too clear — you allowed this to happen, and you share the guilt.”

We all share in the guilt of the holocaust of abortion. Just a couple of weeks ago our church dedicated a Sunday morning to prayer for revival and spiritual awakening. We prayed for our nation in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to be stirred from its spiritual slumber and spiritual stupor. As a nation we have called good evil and evil good for so long that we are confused. Many spurn the Word of God as irrelevant.

I’m praying that the release of this video will stir more people; although, those who support abortion will likely “keep their ears stopped and their eyes closed” to the atrocities of abortion because they enjoy the profits from this horrific industry. Will you join me in praying that this video will mark an important turning point in our nation’s conscience? Mohler concluded his blog with, “The horrifying images of harvested baby hearts must lead us to our own broken hearts. A nation that allow this, will allow anything.”

World Vision logoThis past week has had its share of big news, not the least of which came from World Vision. On Monday, Christianity Today broke the story that World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman. The new policy would allow same-sex couples (I refuse to call them “married” because the Bible defines marriage as “one man and one woman”) to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities. World Vision U.S. president Richard Stearns asserted that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He hoped it would inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.

But hold on! Late Wednesday afternoon and after having weathered intense criticism from evangelical leaders, World Vision reversed its ground-breaking decision. In announcing the reversal, Stearns stated, “The last couple of days have been painful. We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision’s commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be. Rather than creating more unity, we created more division, and that was not the intent. Our board acknowledged that the policy change we made was a mistake…. We’re asking you to forgive us for that mistake.”

When I saw the first report of World Vision’s change of policy, I posted something like, “That was quick.” However, I have to ask, “Why did they think that they needed to take this step?” and “What were they thinking?” Clearly, I am grateful that World Vision board heeded the biblical correction they received from many.

I cannot remember the first time I heard this proverb, “A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.” So what can we learn from World Vision’s mistake?

First, we must take our cues from the Word of God – not from the pressures of a culture that at its core hates God. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). We cannot “pick and choose” which portions of the Bible that we will observe and which portions we will reject. If we are going to follow Christ, then we must follow Him completely.

Second, prior to making significant decisions that will affect others, we would do well to consult the counsel of strong, well-seasoned, faithful followers of Christ. Although World Vision made its decision through board deliberations, I have to question whether they sought the wise counsel of others. No doubt, they listened after the fact. However, World Vision’s actions will likely have a negative affect primarily on the less fortunate people they intend to help due to the potential loss of charitable giving. Though we may deceive ourselves by thinking that our decisions only affect us, rarely is that the case.

Married Couple

After further reflection on the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic 5-4 decision that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I have concluded that we should not have been surprised by it. By and large our secularized culture has long since adopted an Aristotelian approach to determining what is right and wrong. In other words, our society has decided that morality is individually achieved and that people get to choose for themselves what is right in their hearts. While Christians believe that God defines marriage and government recognizes it, our secularized culture believes that government defines marriage and everyone must recognize the new definition. The first approach roots in Scripture; the second roots in a prideful heart.

At the risk of offending those of the secularized mindset, and because we believe that we must root what we do in Scripture, let me offer this from the book of Proverbs, “Pride goes before destruction, and haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18) and “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor” (18:12). It’s the haughty spirit that precedes destruction and this lies behind the Court’s decision to bury DOMA.

The preamble of the U.S. Constitution states that its purpose is to secure the “blessings of liberty.” A blessing is a statement of divine favor. How can we secure godly favor in a nation for which the godly is unconstitutional? A prideful nation by definition must be a nation that rejects the idea of a blessing.

As I see it, we still have only two options. We can turn back to where we belong and embrace the whole counsel of the Word, or we watch the continuing collapse of our nation. While I’m not optimistic about our culture, I am confident that Jesus still reigns and will call people to Himself. No culture can outstrip His ultimate authority because every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord of all (see Phil. 2:10-11). I absolutely believe that gospel can turn people and nations around. Remember that the gospel exploded in the first century in places like Ephesus, Philippi, Corinth, Athens, and Rome. No one would dare characterize these cities as nice places to raise families!

This only serves to underscore that we cannot retreat into our sequestered and Christianized communes. Rather, we must live out the gospel and willingly speak up boldly and lovingly what the gospel says. We must love our neighbors – all of them, not just the ones we think deserve our love and ministry. Our love must radical – just like that of Christ, who unconditionally loved “sinners and tax collectors.” We must remember that marriage is not incidental to the gospel preaching. The Bible makes it clear that something supernatural is involved in marriage and describes it as profound mystery (see Eph. 5:32). We must not assume that people understand the gospel foundations of marriage. Many people have become confused due to a lack of attention to what the Bible says about marriage. This has led to many people giving tacit approval to cohabitation, to a culture of divorce “if things don’t work out,” and even to the idea of homosexual marriage.

marriage

Last Wednesday (June 26, 2013) the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision made rulings that evangelicals hoped would not occur but came as no real surprise based on the past forty years of the court’s actions. I want to offer some analysis for us to consider how we should respond. First, we must recognize that marriage is not merely a public good or a “culture war” political issue. Marriage is a gospel mystery as the Bible tells us (cf. Eph. 5:32). When marriage falters, the gospel is eclipsed. On the other hand, the conversation about marriage gives the church the opportunity to point to a different word, the mystery of Christ (cf. Eph. 3:4).

Second, consider this important aspect of the court’s ruling that may offer some hope. For example, the Court left intact Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Acts, which gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage performed in other states. Currently, Louisiana is one of 36 states with such laws. In other words, the right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman is preserved. The Court did not find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Third, the critical role of man-woman marriage is not diminished by the Court’s rulings. The essential need for children to have both a married mother and father is not diminished by the opinions.

What should we do?
Do not despair or become angry. Jesus taught that marriage has existed as a male/female one flesh union “from the beginning” (Matt. 19:18). Regardless of what any culture does to redefine it or minimize it, marriage will stand. Keep this mind: no government bureaucracy invented marriage and no government bureaucracy can reinvent it either.
Love your neighbors – all of them. No matter what their lifestyle may be, they are not your enemies. They are your neighbors. Remember that Jonah was sent to speak God’s message to his enemies. Your neighbors are seeking a way that seems best to them. Be kind and respect all people because they bear the image of God.
Teach biblically on the integrity of marriage. We must not assume that people understand the gospel foundations of marriage. Many people have become confused due to a lack of attention to what the Bible says about marriage. This has led to many people giving tacit approval to cohabitation, to a culture of divorce “if things don’t work out,” and even to the idea of homosexual marriage.
Take steps that our policies and procedures line up with the Scriptures. Earlier this year, I addressed this with our deacons. A team has been working on some changes to our bylaws that will specifically address these issues. No one at the time the church constitution and bylaws were adopted ever expected to need to address such matters. These changes will be discussed with our deacons at their next meeting. Hopefully, we will have something for the congregation to begin considering at the next quarterly ministry meeting.

boy-scout-1

Last week I attended the Southern Baptist Convention in Houston with Gayla, along with Tim Scott and Andrew Hackler from our church staff. We had an encouraging time interacting meeting with representatives of the International Mission Board and other ministry leaders. We celebrated the reelection of Pastor Fred Luter as president of the SBC. Of course the two-day business meeting was filled with reports from our various boards and agencies. The messengers approved twelve resolutions including ones dealing with sexual abuse of children, human trafficking, prayer for the president of the United States, and another dealing with the Boy Scouts. After several amendments to the original Boy Scout resolution were offered, debated, and approved or rejected, the messengers overwhelmingly approved the resolution that officially expressed its opposition to the Boy Scouts’ new policy regarding homosexuality.

Only this year did our church become the charter holder of Boy Scout Troop 85. Even prior to our becoming the charter holder, we made it clear that should the Boy Scouts of America turn from its historic roots in such a way that would diminish our congregation’s name or mission that we would be forced to sever the relationship.

While no decision has been made on this matter, I want to offer something to consider as we go forward. Prior to going to the convention, I met with both men from our church who have sons in Troop 85 and who serves as leaders in the troop. They understand the situation we face and understand that further changes to BSA policy could negatively affect our relationship. I asked for a greater role in the troop activities, particularly working with the leadership.

One of the amendments to the resolution offered by David Uth of FBC, Orlando, whose church has had a Boy Scout troop since 2005 so that they might influence boys and their families for the gospel, encouraged those churches that continue to sponsor Boy Scout troops to “seek to impact as many boys as possible with the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Here’s what I am asking you to do right now: pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Make yourself open to His leadership. Pray for the boys and the families involved in scouting. Pray for discernment for our congregation so that we might clearly know how we should respond.

At our quarterly congregational ministry meeting, we took a signifianct action to become the chartered organization for Boys Scout Troop 85 effective April 1. The following Sunday, February 3, we recognized the Scouts and their famiies who make up the membership of that troop in our services as part of the national “Scout Sunday.” 

Ironically, the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) announced last week that the organization will consider a policy change which, if adopted, will undermine the foundations of the organization. No doubt, the policy change comes as a reaction to intense pressure that has been placed on the BSA over the past several months, including significant corporate sponsors who have threatened to withdraw their funding.  The proposed policy change would end any national policy regarding sexual orientation and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

This move saddens me. Even the official Boy Scout Oath requires that the conduct of the group’s members and leaders remain “morally straight.” The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the BSA with its prohibition of homosexual Scout leaders. However, the BSA board appears ready to cave to the strong-arm tactics of activists who will never end their pressure. If the activists succeed in forcing this policy change, the BSA will have abandoned its place of leadership for moral integrity. Although their principled position has made the organization a target for harassment, I urge the Boys Scouts not to compromise. In the end, I fear that the BSA may bring about its own death due to a self-inflicted wound.

The BSA needs to remain true to its values and ignore the cultural and corporate pressures. Scouting leaders need to hear from us. You will likely have difficulty getting through by telephone; however, give it a try. The number in Irving, Texas, is 972-580-2000.  I have sent an email through the BSA website: http://www.scouting.org/ContactUs.aspx. We must not sit idly by and hope that somebody will do something.