About 15 years ago, sociologists coined the term “abusive boyfriend syndrome” to describe the increased risk to children who live in homes with an unrelated adult. According to numerous studies, these children were much more likely to be abused or even killed than children who live at home with two biological or married parents. Because of these findings, domestic violence prevention programs routinely teach parents, especially vulnerable women, that the single highest risk factor that they or their children will be abused is whether they’re living with an unrelated, unmarried adult.
God designed family in a specific way. The biological reality, that one man and one woman are required to make a child, points to the social reality, which is that children do best with a mom and a dad. This neither makes abuse inevitable for children in other arrangements, nor does it suggest that biological parents never abuse. In fact, child abuse can become tragically epidemic within certain cultures and families.
Dads are crucial. We’ve known this for a long time. For example, former president Barack Obama, despite advancing many policies that undermined the family, remained an outspoken voice on the importance of loving, involved fathers. According to all the evidence, he was partly correct. Kids need their fathers, but do best when their fathers are married to their mothers.
Of the thousands of green-clad parade-goers, marchers, and partiers today, few know about Patrick, the man for whom today’s holiday is named. Fewer still know of the man beyond the legend, who supposedly drove the snakes out of Ireland and certainly possessed an indomitable faith in Jesus Christ.
In 2006, Chuck Colson told St. Patrick’s story in a Breakpoint commentary. Here is Chuck Colson:
Protecting religious expression is vital, not just for Christians, but for everyone. Conscience rights are pre-political rights and provide the foundation on which every other liberty is built. Protecting that foundation on college campuses requires, at minimum, allowing religious student groups to meet on campus, to use allocated student funding like every other group, to choose leaders who adhere to the stated beliefs and values that define the group, and to think and speak as freely as other students.
Please, take a minute to show support for these groups and these courageous students.
Apparently, the U.K. has decided to shift its loyalties from courageously defying tyranny in the 20th century to embracing it in the 21st. Last week, a “conservative”-led British Parliament made George Orwell’s fictional accounts of “thought crime” a reality. After establishing censorship zones around abortion clinics in England and Wales, the MPs voted 299-116 to continue criminalizing even silent prayer in the vicinity of such clinics.
As a lawyer for the U.K.’s Alliance Defending Freedom put it, Today’s vote marks a watershed moment for fundamental rights and freedoms in our country. Parliament had an opportunity to reject the criminalisation of free thought, which is an absolute right, and embrace individual liberty for all. Instead, Parliament chose to endorse censorship and criminalise peaceful activities such as silent prayer and consensual conversation.
The law is no idle threat.
Among the many hymns with deep roots in the history of the Church, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded” is based on a 900-year-old poem written by theologian and mystic Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard was a towering figure in the political, intellectual, and religious life of 12th-century Europe.
In 1113, Bernard became a member of a new religious order known as the Cistercians. The group followed a strict monastic life of prayer, labor, and austerity. Two years later, he was sent by the order to found a new monastery that he named Clairvaux. Bernard quickly became one of the leading reformers in the Church of his day.
Certain ideas just won’t die, no matter how often and thoroughly they are debunked. Most of us have heard some scientist, journalist, teacher, or entertainer claim that “human beings and chimpanzees share 98-99% of our DNA.” That statistic is an example of what molecular biologist Jonathan Wells calls an “icon of evolution,” or Zombie Science. The often unstated implication of this undead statistic is that humans and chimps obviously evolved from a common ancestor, and that we are still, on a biological level, mostly the same.
In 1935, Portuguese neuroscientist Dr. Egas Moniz pioneered a new procedure to treat symptoms of psychiatric illness. Using a thin instrument, a surgeon could sever the delicate neural connections between the frontal lobe and other parts of the brain. The procedure resulted in significant changes to the patient’s behavior. Despite a mixed reception by the medical community, Moniz received a Nobel Prize in 1949.
In the ensuing decades, the practice of transorbital lobotomies was championed by American psychiatrist Dr. Walter Freeman. He operated on over 4,000 patients and remained a fierce advocate for the procedure long after it fell into disrepute. While some patients seemed to be cured of their psychiatric distress, the main effect of lobotomies was the dismantling of the patient’s personality. According to Freeman’s own numbers, about 73% of his patients remained hospitalized for life or “in a state of idle dependency.” Another 5% died during the operation. Recently in The Washington Post, columnist Megan McArdle pointed to the history of lobotomies as a cautionary tale.
A denominational leader asserted that the best thing the Church could do to handle the challenges of this cultural moment would be to "stay in its lane." That the so-called "culture wars" have been grueling, and the Church is primarily called to spread the Gospel.
On Wednesday, the recently announced Keller Center for Cultural Apologetics at The Gospel Coalition published a book excerpt authored by Pastor Josh Butler. The article described a sacred vision of the physical union of a husband and wife, arguing that not only marriage but that physical intimacy within marriage is a type (or picture) of Christ and the Church. In the process, he used terms and imagery that, without additional context, seemed shockingly graphic. The article set off a Twitter maelstrom.
As squeamish as we are about identifying which calamities, diseases, and disasters are God’s judgments for which sin, throughout the Bible, prophets, apostles, and even Christ Himself speak of judgment owed and paid out for national sins. Sometimes His judgment is portrayed as an act; other times it is portrayed as turning us over to the natural consequences of bad ideas and behavior. Either way, biblically speaking, if there is no place for divine judgment in our theology, there is something unchristian about our worldview.
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said that “Beauty will save the world.” Reflecting on those words in his 1970 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn asked, “What sort of a statement is that? … How could that be possible? When in bloodthirsty history did beauty ever save anyone from anything?”
Millions of girls with instant access to our culture’s most viral (and dangerous) behaviors and beliefs are currently manifesting the results. Their sicknesses are a clear sign that our society is sick. In order to treat them and us, we’ll have to admit how the disease spreads, admit the connection between mental illness and gender confusion, and keep them away from clinics and smartphone apps where the disease is celebrated.
ChatGPT is, to borrow a phrase, “breaking the internet.” So far, what it has produced ranges from the impressive to the hilarious. It is also forcing a series of existential crises. For example, teachers are scrambling to discern the work of their students from the work of compelling AI counterfeits. The tech industry now faces what The New York Times calls “an AI arms race,” as competitors like Google apply their own AI to search engines and ad generators. Technology has made searching for errors in code, sifting through mountains of data, and summarizing complex issues in a few paragraphs exponentially easier and more user-friendly.
If our intuitions do influence our moral decisions, even overriding our best intentions and our rationality, we’d do well to pay attention to what is shaping them. What’s legally available (or not) shapes them, and not just because people don’t want to get in trouble. Laws create conditions, such as whether we have access to certain products and advertising. Laws make some financial incentives possible, but not others. They can also normalize or stigmatize behaviors. In other words, laws play a role in fostering the habits of a people, and people tend to be formed by their habits. Laws should not enable and should never incentivize bad habits. Good habits, on the other hand, also form our moral intuitions.
Every year, the Colson Center presents the William Wilberforce Award to a Christian leader who has made a lasting difference in their sphere of influence, demonstrating the same principled courage as British abolitionist William Wilberforce. This year, at the 2023 Colson Center National Conference, we look forward to honoring Shodankeh Johnson with the award. His work as a pastor, church planter, and reformer has brought transformation in his home country of Sierra Leone.
A post-Christian society may be about to learn what Christians have always taught: Not all spiritual entities are friendly or helpful. A chilling 2018 article in The Atlantic chronicled the growing demand for official Catholic exorcists, even while practicing Catholics dwindle as a share of the population. Something is going on that psychologists can’t handle. Modern Westerners’ naïve approach to the spiritual realm — treating it as a game or a joke or a political sting — leaves them especially vulnerable to attack.
February 6 marked the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. The World Health Organization estimates more than 200 million women and girls across the globe have been subjected to this violent practice which forcibly cuts or mutilates a woman’s sexual organs as a so-called “rite of passage.” Not only is FGM a gross violation of the human rights and dignity of these girls, most of whom either do not consent to it or are not old enough to understand what’s being done to them, but it’s also incredibly dangerous.
Diverse people groups practice FGM, including, unfortunately, a few remote tribes who identify as Christian. However, far more Christians have fought the practice than committed it, including missionaries, Christian aid organizations, and many local African Christian communities. These Christians are motivated by a biblical view of humanity, that includes the inherent dignity of women and children. Nevertheless, a common accusation is that Christianity is an oppressively patriarchal religion that either subjugates women or, at least, devalues them. This accusation is almost exclusively Western and modern. The first Christians were actually criticized for teaching that women were equal in value to men, and accused of being “incestuous” for referring to fellow believers as “brothers and sisters.”
Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the 40-day period in the church calendar known as Lent, a time of preparation leading up to Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. Around the world, countless Christians will have the sign of the cross written on their foreheads in ash—what is known as the imposition of ashes – and will hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.”
In the words of 19th-century Scottish minister and author George MacDonald, To be right with God is to be right with the universe: one with the power, the love, the will of the mighty father, the cherisher of Joy, the Lord of laughter, whose are all glories, all hopes, who loves everything and hates nothing but selfishness.
Last month, in the journal Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, philosophy professor Anna Smajdor from Norway proposed that the global medical community should consider what she called “whole body gestational donation.” Women in a permanent vegetative state or who are declared brain dead could be used, she suggested, as unconscious surrogate mothers for people who, as the paper states, either “wish to have children but cannot, or prefer not to gestate.” According to Smajdor, though what she is proposing may sound shocking, it is really no different, at least not in any qualitative ethical way, from organ donation and other assisted reproductive technologies.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns seems, at least to most of us, like an extended nightmare of yesterday. However, some of the ways that our lives changed have stuck with us. For example, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans working primarily from home has tripled since 2019. Many people will never go back to full-time commuting, nor do they want to (though there are signs of a reset on the horizon).
Another change, one even more consequential for individuals and our society, is the large-scale exodus from in-person church services. According to Pew Research, though nearly all houses of worship had resumed regular, in-person services by this time last year, disappointingly few Christians had actually returned. There’s the church, there’s the steeple, open the door … but where are the people?
I’ve always loved this line from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, / The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”
What this means is that the Christian worldview is not merely something we look at in order to analyze, study, and use with non-believers. It is something we are to look through. When we do, we see the brilliance of the world God made, the beauty of it along with the truth.
Attempts to commercialize romantic love, what the Greeks called eros, is nothing new. But it’s quite clear that, in our Valentine’s Day traditions, we’ve lost the history of what was, historically, a feast day of the Church: The feast day of the third-century Christian martyr, Valentinus of Rome.
The decision late last week by the Church of England to now bless civil marriages and partnerships of same-sex couples made precisely no one happy. For those hoping to amend official church teaching, the measure fell short of legitimizing so-called gay marriage in the church. Advocates of historic church teaching and Biblical morality see this move as only the latest in the wrong direction by the Church of England, and another indictment of church leadership, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.
A former gender clinic caseworker has filed her concerns with the attorney general of Missouri and has gone public with what she saw behind clinic doors.
Rather than merely shock with a new display of creepiness, the "Unholy" Grammys performance marked the place where we’ve already been for some time.
Josephine Bakhita died on this day in 1947. She was a remarkable believer who reveled in the love of God and lived her life in service to Him, despite the years she suffered in abusive slavery. Born around the year 1869 in the troubled region of Darfur in Sudan, she was kidnapped by Arab slave traders while still a child, in about 1877. This began a horrific 12-year ordeal as a slave.
According to a story in Business Insider, one woman who gave up on her passion is now all the happier for it. Maggie Perkins taught middle and high school in both Florida and Georgia, but now works at Costco. She attributed the change from lunch boxes to big boxes, after years working in the educational world, to being unable to pay her bills and, more importantly, to sleep at night because of the stress from her job.
Her story is only one of many to describe the broad disillusionment common in education today being expressed by parents, students, taxpayers, and teachers. It also is a reminder that dream jobs can become nightmares if we become alienated from our labor.
How far would you go to rescue a child from danger? What if it were your child? What if your child was being harmed by an ideology that taught her to hate her body and question who she was?
Would the ability to have children mean that a man could actually become a woman? Setting aside for a moment the awful potential for exploitation of children involved, if science could graft the reproductive system of a female into a male body, and it could function with drugs and hormones, does that make him a woman? A mother?
Last month, according to the Congolese military, a militant group attacked a Pentecostal church, killing at least 10 and wounding scores of others. Though incidents like this are hardly new, they rarely make the news. Many in the Western world simply don’t realize how prevalent Christianity and Christian persecution are outside of Europe and North America. Plus, the creeping influence of “the critical theory mood” leaves the impression that because Christianity has been so influential in Western history, Christians must always be villains and can never be victims.
This caricature of Christianity as a sort-of tribal faith of Westerners is flawed at the core.
To be a Christian and to hold to Christian conviction about what is true about the nature and person of Jesus Christ, about human nature, and about the place of Christian conviction in the public square is to be more than out of step with the larger culture. It’s to be potentially at risk to some degree, something that Christians have faced since the beginning of the Church. It may very well be that we, too, will be forced to choose between our wellbeing in some sense and our convictions.
Too many Christians, even those who may not go as far as to call the Genesis account false, seem embarrassed by it. A purely naturalistic and neo-Darwinian account of human origins now dominates both the academy and the wider culture, and most Christians simply lack the confidence to engage the issue at all. So instead, they merely accept the claim that Genesis should be filed away under ancient creation myths with all the others.
Not only does this approach ignore the scientific doubts growing about these theories mistaken for fact and fail to take Jesus’ professed belief about the Genesis account seriously, it leaves unquestioned the assumed premise. Are the similarities between the biblical account of creation and other ancient accounts as obvious and conclusive as we are told?
Since 1938, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has followed two groups of men. One is a group of 456 boys from Boston’s most troubled families and roughest neighborhoods. The other consisted of 268 Harvard College students, chosen by a professor of hygiene specifically for their potential to become healthy, well-adjusted adults. The focus of the longitudinal study has been to discern the factors that best predict a long, healthy life.
The researchers who have followed these young men have maintained a stunning 84 percent participation rate over eight decades. They have visited homes, spoken to parents and siblings, tracked medical exams, and followed marriages and careers. The study, which is currently tracking a second generation of participants, has produced a wealth of significant data. However, in a recent article published in The Wall Street Journal, director Dr. Robert Waldinger and associate director Dr. Marc Schulz pointed to the most significant contributing factor for physical health, mental health, and longevity.
In September, the first prize at the annual Colorado State Fair art competition went to a submission entitled, “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial.” The painting was submitted by Jason Miller and depicts an ornate stage and costumed performers, washed in beautiful golden light. Miller, however, did not paint the image. Instead, he typed in a few prompts on a search bar, and an artificially intelligent art generator program, called Midjourney, did the rest.
A calling card of our cultural moment is the presumption that science is wholly on the side of the progressive sexual agenda. To question so-called “transgender medicine,” for example, especially for minors, is to be called a “science-denier.” Advocates often point to a set of Dutch studies as the scientific ground on which to build their case for childhood transgender “medicine.”
According to a CDC report released in December, the life expectancy of Americans fell by about seven months in 2021, reaching the lowest point in two decades. Although researchers expected a major drop in the wake of COVID-19, many industrialized nations are seeing signs of recovery. The U.S., however, despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, continues a trend in the wrong direction. More importantly, while COVID-19 remains a leading cause of death in the U.S., deaths from cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and drug overdoses increased over the last year.
A Christian moral vision does not reduce humanity or humans to a math equation. As ethicist and theologian Oliver O’Donovan has put it, “to love everybody in the world equally is to love nobody very much.” Rather, as Paul instructed the church at Corinth, real good is brought to the world when we each “lead the life that the Lord has assigned…” In this view, an expensive alabaster jar of perfume poured on the head of Jesus, rather than being sold to help the poor, is not wasted. A widow’s mite can have infinite value, while a multi-million-dollar collaboration of government charities that prop up dictators, corruption, and horrific evils could bring more harm than good.
From its very beginning, secular humanism has, in various ways, promised to save the world. Not only have these promises failed, but no coherent vision has even been offered of what a “saved world” would look like. Like the progressives of today, who promise progress without any fixed definition of better or worse, all that’s left is a pursuit of pleasure, to enshrine self-expression as the highest good. In other words, it was the abject failure of secular humanism that gave birth to the cynical postmodern ethos of today.
If nothing else, secular humanism is a cautionary tale for Christians who think of the Christian faith as a kind of humanist project.
Fifty years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court fabricated a so-called “right to abortion” out of thin air. This travesty of justice, which enabled the deaths of tens of millions of innocent little souls, deserves a place among the absolute worst legal decisions in American history. In fact, additional flawed moral and legal reasoning soon followed in Casey v. Planned Parenthood and Doe v. Bolton, built on Roe v. Wade’s flawed moral and legal reasoning, rendering almost all restrictions on abortion, however mild, “unconstitutional.”
By seeking and studying what God has revealed, we can make God’s thoughts our thoughts. We have, Paul wrote, the mind of Christ. We can know His design for human beings and for marriage and family, the purpose of government, the rightful end and object of worship, the significance of art and music and the place of science, and especially what has gone wrong with our world and what He’s doing to set it right. The ultimate goal is not to know things about God or even about His mighty acts in history. It is to know Him, and as Jesus put it, to love Him, with all our heart, soul, and mind.
Princeton University is considering a petition, signed by nearly 300 members of the campus community, to remove a statue of John Witherspoon. According to the petition, “paying such honor to someone who participated actively in the enslavement of human beings, and used his scholarly gifts to defend the practice, is today a distraction from the University’s mission.” In place of the statue, the petition requests an informational plaque that would describe both the positive and negative aspects of Witherspoon’s legacy.
This week marks the death of Amy Carmichael, missionary to India and defender of children. Though she died in 1951, she is a profound example of not only being faithful to the Gospel but of what being faithful to the Gospel means. Throughout history, in fact, Christians have taken the lead in defending children.
In his memorable “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., threw down the gauntlet in his great Civil Rights crusade when he refused to obey what he regarded as an immoral man-made law that did not match up with the law of God.
Throughout the biblical texts, music is also connected to prophecy and to dealing with evil spirits. Jesus and the apostles sang a hymn after the Last Supper, according to two of the Gospels. The Apostle Paul specifically associates singing with being filled with the Spirit in his epistle to the church at Ephesus. And, in John’s Revelation of what is constantly happening around the throne of God, there is lots of singing, sometimes accompanied by harps. Music also is part of the culmination of the creation story.
Our universe, even as Our Universe portrays it, compels worship, leaving us with the sense that we need to, as singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson put it, “thank someone.” Yet, in this series, created glory is acknowledged and celebrated with gorgeous animation, wildlife cinematography, and musical score, all without giving glory to the Creator behind it.
According to the BBC, doctors in Greenland inserted contraceptive devices into several thousand local women without their knowledge or consent. This was not a once-off action by a few rogue doctors. Rather, this was the result of a decades-old policy of the ruling Danish government.
Last fall, cultural observer and former BuzzFeed writer Anne Helen Petersen published an e-book about the difficulties of motherhood during the pandemic. Based on interviews with 1,000 women, her conclusions were telegraphed in the title: The Moms Are Not Alright. I think most parents would agree that parenting during a pandemic is, well, not ideal.
However, according to scholars Brad Wilcox and Wendy Wang in a recent article in The Atlantic, married mothers fared quite well during the pandemic, including indicating a greater degree of happiness than their single counterparts.
In a world in which everyone and everything is superficially connected online, where there are an estimated 30 billion more cameras than people, and where “influencer” is an actual job title, style is easily confused with substance and fame for faithfulness. It’s one of the many (and there are many!) forms of what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” Theologian J.I. Packer described it as the assumption that “the newer is the truer, only what is recent is decent, every shift of ground is a step forward, and every latest word must be hailed as the last word on its subject.”
Today could be the most significant Christian holiday that Christians know about the least. Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, was set aside in the Church calendar to remember the visitation of the Magi to the infant Jesus. The day’s name comes from a Greek word that means “manifestation.” Through these strange visitors, God’s gift of Himself to the world was first made manifest to the wider world, and we are given a glimpse of the fulfillment of God’s promise that through Israel the rest of the world would be blessed.
Attempts to bypass the need for human presence and to receive pleasure at the press of a button may seem to work for a moment. They may even earn millions of YouTube subscribers. However, in the end, we will be left lonelier than we were when we found them appealing in the first place. That should probably trigger chills, not tingles.
To be Christian, especially in this confusing cultural moment, requires the intentional cultivation of our minds. An exemplary model of someone who took this calling seriously is James Clerk Maxwell.
Not that long ago, culturally speaking, someone known throughout the world for being neighborly said some things that most likely would have gotten him fired today. And believe it or not, he said these things on public television!
Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood often performed songs he wrote to address issues that confused children or caused them to struggle. One of these songs, “Everybody’s Fancy,” was featured in numerous episodes of his hit show from 1968 to 1991. He hoped to help children love and value their bodies and to respect other children, too. Rogers was, of course, completely unaware of the modern controversies over LGBTQ identities that would soon dominate the culture, but, in several lines of the song, he expressed truths that are no longer permitted to be said out loud.
Human sexuality is not some arbitrary construct like a speed limit. It is as much a part of the fabric of life as gravity. We may deny that, but we will not avoid the pain of hitting the ground if we do.
Our culture has long struggled with the realities of sexual difference, or “gender.” While first- and second-wave feminism generally asserted that women were equal in value to men, transgenderism now asserts that women are interchangeable with men. Notice the underlying assumption: in order for men and women to have equal value, they have to be the same thing. Yielding to this fallacy has been a disaster, not just for the concept of gender, but also for the concept of human dignity. It’s as if many think there’s not enough of it to go around.
If this leaked draft opinion overturning Roe is indeed reflective of what the final decision will be, then we must do two things. First, we must thank God that this decades-long legal nightmare is over. Our efforts to protect babies and care for vulnerable women will no longer be pre-empted by an evil masquerading as an invented “right.” Second, the Court has done its job. It cannot do our job. State legislatures now have very important jobs to do, but they cannot do the jobs that we are called to: to speak the truth in love and to create a culture of life and care.
The power to name and be named is, in Scripture, uniquely granted to image bearers. Scripture is full of examples of naming children, family members, friends, lovers, enemies, and self. Today, we approach language, particularly names and pronouns, with the assumption that we, and we alone, have a right to define our own reality. This ignores how much of the world is given to us, including the relationships into which we are born and that make up much of who we will become. Identity, in other words, is not “constructed.” It is, at least to a significant degree, received. For the vast majority of people, a name is the second gift their parents will ever give them, second only to life itself.
The faithfulness that individual Christians demonstrate in their everyday lives makes a compelling case that the Christian worldview is both true and good. The Colson Center’s mission is to help Christians live faithfully to what is true and good, aligning both their personal convictions and public lives with revealed truth. It is a gift and grace of God to hear from Christians who’ve been served and helped by a Breakpoint commentary or another Colson Center ministry.
Cultural artifacts are particularly effective in making ideas seem normal. Huge advertisements at cosmetics stores like Sephora portray young men dressed provocatively in women’s clothing and covered in makeup. Boarding most Delta flights requires walking past an image of a same-sex couple cuddled up in premium economy.
Without using a single word, cultural artifacts can communicate ideas not merely about what counts as normal behavior but about what it means to be human. In essence, Sephora is telling our sons and daughters that “the way we know a boy is a girl is that he is dressed provocatively and covered in makeup.” What message does that send if not to be a woman is to be like this?
Making prison safer for everyone, including people who identify as transgender, is a goal worthy of any civilized society, one of the great causes in the life and ministry of Chuck Colson, and grounded only in Christian history. At the same time, the safety of some should never come at the expense of others, especially the most vulnerable. Just yesterday, that was common sense.
No matter our ideals, reality remains. Biology is not a social construct. Rather, it is hardwired into reality. Reality does not disappear because some alter their appearance or claim new pronouns, nor does the tendency of lawless men to victimize women change because we’ve committed ourselves to made-up new virtues such as “inclusion.” This should be especially obvious.
There’s more to the world around us than its material stuff. Much more. Meaning, revelation, and mind are behind everything we see because it was all made by God for His glory. There are no “ordinary things”—certainly not in the sense that materialists imagine.
By linking opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act to (rightly) ostracized ideas like racism, advocates, like the president, are setting the stage for leveraging hate crime legislation and other cultural tools to criminalize dissent. For those who assured us otherwise, this is a step beyond what Obergefell v. Hodges imposed. In that opinion, Justice Kennedy assured us that good people could disagree. On Tuesday, the president assured us that no good person could disagree.
In internet lingo, to “say the quiet part out loud” means to reveal one’s true intentions or motives that were supposed to remain publicly unsaid. Recently, a couple of prominent organizations that deal with children have “said the quiet part out loud” when talking about parental rights.
A feature of life today is how quickly culture changes. That can leave many Christians, even those with a strong personal faith, struggling to make the connections between what is true, real, and good and how to think about all the issues that seem to barrage us. What Christians need is a strong public faith, one that provides clarity and meaning.
Today, we do not wait for the Messiah to bring salvation. We wait for the Messiah to return, when He will reveal Himself fully as King and restorer of all creation. Like Mary’s understanding of His first coming was shaped by the larger story of God’s promises, so too our Advent disciplines and Christmas celebrations can only be properly understood in light of a bigger story. Soon enough, like Mary, we’ll burst into song at the news of Christ invading this world.
The world of high fashion is strange. Turning heads and calling it “art” is nothing new, but there are lines that even the edgiest refuse to cross. In November, the Paris-based fashion brand Balenciaga released back-to-back ad campaigns featuring blatant references to child pornography, violence, and sadomasochism. One featured a toddler holding a stuffed animal dressed in sexual clothing. In another, a child lies on a couch surrounded by wine glasses. To remove all doubt about Balenciaga’s intentions, a final photo featured a purse partially covering a printed Supreme Court opinion from United States v. Williams, a case that dealt with child pornography and the First Amendment.
Tomorrow, December 10, is the anniversary of the birth of a man regarded as the father of modern fantasy literature, someone who profoundly influenced writers such as G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis. Though the writing of pastor and author George MacDonald often lacked theological precision, his legacy includes inspiring some of the most important Christian fiction of all time. Like Tertullian and Origen, fathers of the faith whose theology veered away, at times, from orthodoxy, the bulk of MacDonald’s work has served to enliven the Christian faith of future generations.
Today, the pursuit of truth in the natural sciences is increasingly eclipsed by the tyranny of political correctness, and some frustrated scientists are crying foul. In early November, in fact, over 150 professors and scholars gathered at Stanford University to talk about the growing threats to the scientific enterprise and to academic freedom.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in 303 Creative v. Elenis, a case with significant implications for the future of conscience rights and free speech. Though graphic designer Lorie Smith never planned to take this high-profile stand for First Amendment rights, this case will determine to what extent Americans who reject the legal redefinition of marriage are able to live and work in accordance with their deeply held beliefs.
In this time of Advent, as we look back to Christ’s first coming and await His second, we should recall the prophesies that pointed to His forerunner, John the Baptist.
I hope we will always be amazed and humbled that God chooses to use the Colson Center to equip His people.
Growing anti-religious sentiment is not behind church shootings, but it is clear who is to blame for the others.
On Tuesday, the misleadingly named “Respect for Marriage Act” was passed by the Senate. Twelve Republicans and every Democrat voted yes for the bill, whose name makes it sound as if it affirms and supports marriage. In reality, however, it further enshrines a redefined understanding of marriage into law. According to this bill, marriage is nothing more than the legal affirmation of adult desires, rather than a bedrock for thriving civilizations, built on the realities of who men and women are and oriented around the needs and best interests of children. This new bill replaces the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
In recent years, Ligonier Ministries and LifeWay Research have documented the theological decline among evangelical Christians. According to the most recent edition of the survey, a stunning 43 percent of today’s evangelical Christians believe that “Jesus was a great teacher, but not God.” Like in 18th-century England, Arianism is alive and well today in our a-theological approach to faith. Neither cultural darkness nor theological apathy is new. Often at the darkest times, God chooses to renew His people and light the world.
Each and every Christian should be clear on this point: Anti-Semitism in any and all forms is a despicable evil. Last month, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye, made antisemitic remarks on social media about going “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” and while he’s apologized for those specific words, he’s not letting up on other antisemitic comments. And earlier this month, the FBI located the source of a threat to a New Jersey synagogue. These events are occurring against the backdrop of antisemitic behavior rising by a record-high 34% in 2021 from 2020 according to the Anti-Defamation League. Jews are only 2% of the American population, but the FBI has stated they account for more than half of the targeted hate crimes.
The days before and after Thanksgiving make for an odd holiday. Most Americans barely sit down to dinner before Elvis, Santa, and Mariah Carey invade their lives. Then comes the corporate fever dream known as “Black Friday,” followed by its digital sequel “Cyber Monday.” In all that time, there is precious little room left to be thankful as citizens of the wealthiest nation, or consider how to give back in light of that reality. Another tradition, however, offers the opportunity to buck the trend. Falling on November 30 this year, Giving Tuesday is a chance to celebrate the abundance so many enjoy and pass it along to others.
Our society largely fails to cultivate young men, to teach them about their fallen natures, and to morally form them to choose love over hate and courage over violence. Thus, the epidemics of addiction, aimlessness, depression, irresponsibility, perversion, selfishness, victimhood, and low expectations continue. Until we face the fact that the root of our problem lies here, the fruit will continue to be bitter. Unless we rebuild the institutions of civil society that cultivate young men—especially the family—there is no way forward.
This week marks the anniversary of both the birth (Nov. 29) and the death (Nov. 22) of C.S. Lewis, one of the most remarkable Christians of the last century. Even today, nearly 60 years after his passing, Christians of all denominations, depth, and discernment continue to learn from Lewis about the nature and substance of faith. The value of the wit and wisdom of this unexpected champion of the faith only becomes more obvious as the central message of Christianity, that “Jesus is Lord!” sounds more and more strange to late-modern ears.
Because the most dangerous ideas in this cultural moment target our kids’ identities, parents must work toward kids’ identity formation as much as intellectual or behavioral formation.
What is life for? If the answer is only our own self-actualization, there is no better to strive for or worse to avoid. But, if the answer is found in the goodness of creation and the ultimate purposes of God’s kingdom, dating has a context and a purpose, as does marriage, work, sex, friendship, procreation, and yes, singleness.
Offering death under the guise of compassion inevitably subjects human life to a medical cost-benefit analysis. States which execute their own citizens will find it impossible to not devalue them. And in a culture that advances state-sponsored death, people granted the “right to die” soon sense it is their duty to die. Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.
The questions we receive more than all others have to do with how best to respond to friends, family members, and neighbors who struggle with gender dysphoria. The rational case for humans as either male or female is strong, as are arguments from history, biology, law, and theology. However, arguments that would’ve been considered obvious not that long ago often seem to go nowhere with someone desperately reaching for answers or affirmation.
According to reports, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) is readying the misleadingly named “Respect for Marriage Act” for a vote. While the name of the bill makes it sound as if it affirms and supports marriage, it would instead redefine it in the law, this time from the federal legislature. This bill would uproot marriage, at least legally, and ground it in nothing more than abstract desires, effectively redefining it from the institution that has long offered a bedrock for civilization to thrive.
German intellect Gottfried von Leibniz is well known for his work in philosophy, particularly in relation to theology. He argued that since both reason and faith are gifts of God, the two fields, if properly understood, could not be contradictory. Leibniz also argued for what came to be called “Optimism,” the idea that any flaw of our world must also exist in others.
Throughout our nation's history, Americans have always tended to define themselves in terms of liberty. Suddenly, however, the freedom of speech has become controversial.
The American variety of democracy assumes that there are inalienable rights that cannot be infringed by popular vote. That assumption is behind the Bill of Rights, as well as Supreme Court decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, which ended segregation. If we don’t assume and commit to certain truths about the world prior to democracy, it will devolve into mob rule, something both unsustainable and unjust. If you don’t believe that, the French have a guillotine or two to sell you.
Parents do not have an absolute right to do whatever they want to their children. For example, parental rights do not justify the medical or surgical alterations of their children’s healthy bodies, upending their development and causing long-term (and maybe permanent) injury. Parental rights do not include the rights to harm children. For the same reason, parents do have the right to protect their children from harm, such as being inducted or indoctrinated against their will into a harmful ideology. The state has no business interfering with parents protecting their children from an ideology younger than smartphones.
These ever more conflicting laws bring with them a cultural reckoning. More parents will be forced to choose between their rights and state usurpation, between speaking out and remaining silent.
75% of young adults don’t know their purpose in life and that’s why almost half feel hopeless. Dr. Jeff Myers reminds us that truth exists and can be known because Jesus is truth and he has revealed himself to us.
Donald J. Johnson’s latest production Dysconnected examines the ways transgender ideology pulls young people—especially young women—apart from their bodies, families, and reality itself.
Salvation won’t arrive on Air Force One, and a perfect world won’t come through the ballot box. But a better world is possible if all our actions, political and otherwise, flow downstream from our Christian convictions, and not the other way around.
Bifurcating morality is a dead end, for individuals and entire societies. It’s foolish to think that breaking one of our words won’t lead to others or that, somehow, our society will be ruled by honor and kindness when we routinely choose (and celebrate) the opposite.
What kind of world would unfold if smart, determined people lived as if Jesus really was the source of truth? That question shapes a new book by my friend Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries. Truth Changes Everything: How People of Faith Can Transform the World in Times of Crisis is a book badly needed right now.
For Christians, there’s no more controversial day on the calendar than Halloween. So what did Chuck Colson have to say about it?
Halloween is October 31, and many Christians are wondering how and if they should celebrate the holiday.
Pain is never the point of God’s plans, any more than it is the purpose of physical exercise. Never pushing ourselves to the point that it hurts means never improving our health. In and of itself, pain is not good, but it is meaningful. Pain indicates that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Without pain, we’d never know. In the same way, breaking bad habits of the past requires pushing beyond our comfort levels, through the pain, and onward on the path to full restoration.
The thing to notice in this story is not merely the eerie religiosity, but also the way students are being encouraged to subject science to progressive moral goals, honoring oppressed cultures and embracing their ideas about healing. This is a far cry from the detached skepticism of yesteryear.
n view of the creation, Jesus answered the question about divorce, that it was only permissible (not required) in cases of sexual immorality. He also continued that some are called to be single and celibate, and that marital integrity will be hard. But it has a design. Thus, it is, for humans, a calling, not a right.
Whether married or single, the call of Christ for His people is to reject a life focused on individual self-fulfillment and instead embrace a life focused on Christ and His Kingdom. This means living out God’s design for His image bearers to be culture makers, advancing the common good, and flourishing wherever possible. This also means advancing the good news that redemption is available through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God made us to know, love, and serve Him. That is our purpose, and human beings find their deepest satisfaction when living into their purpose. A cultural myth may tell women that they will only be happy if they put themselves first and eschew their potential to bear children, but that denies central aspects of their purpose as children of God and as women. None of us will find true satisfaction by purposefully rejecting our potential to live as God made us.
Few websites have the spite, sarcasm, and general nastiness as Twitter. The platform is virtually designed to reward quick, cutting comebacks instead of substance, and “quick and cutting” can often become cruel. Sadly, Christians are often among those engaging in bad faith speech on Twitter, including against one another.
According to NPR, Planned Parenthood will soon be sending out “mobile abortion clinics,” buses outfitted to provide abortion services on wheels. Initially, the buses will only provide consultations and medication, but the hope is to offer surgical abortions by the end of next year.
Those who struggle with dysphoria need a wider community to support and help them. Specifically, they need a Church unafraid to love them and speak truth to them. Today, groups like Focus on the Family and the Restored Hope Network help connect Christians with a whole network of biblically focused counselors to seek help for a range of mental and sexual questions.
Recently, the writing of G.K. Chesterton has undergone a resurgence of popularity. His Father Brown stories have always been popular, but his theological works, such as Orthodoxy, Heretics, The Everlasting Man, and collections of his essays, are being rediscovered. It’s not hard to see why. Chesterton’s prose sparkles with wit and humor and is leavened with incisive thinking and observations about human nature.
Advocates frequently claim that transgender treatments "save lives," gender dysphoria is a permanent condition even among minors, and regret by those who undergo such treatments are minimal or non-existent. Increasingly, research suggests otherwise. More than that, many studies are showing a strong potential for lasting harm.
As the “Homelessness” project suggests, letting encampments take over entire city blocks is not compassion, least of all for those in the camps. It is, at best, abandonment, an injustice. The same goes for decriminalizing drug use, which leads to a death spiral of neighborhood crime and addiction. Instead, while enforcing the law, cities should designate “safe ground” areas with emergency shelter, even as they partner with local churches and nonprofits to deliver health and social services and long-term resources to those who need them the most.
Family is not merely a “name.” G.K. Chesterton called the family a “triangle of truisms,” with the three sides of father, mother, and child. “The love of man and woman is not an institution that can be abolished, or a contract that can be terminated,” he wrote. “It is something older than all institutions or contracts, and something that is certain to outlast them all.”
It is not uncommon in mainstream opinion writing for an author to make an absurd claim and spend several paragraphs of mental gymnastics justifying it. A more accurate label for this genre would be “ideological writing.” If the facts don’t fit, twist and turn them and pretend they do.
How can these dual loyalties, to Christ and to nation, blend? How does our earthly citizenship interact with our heavenly citizenship?
Depending on who you ask, Christian nationalism is either a grave threat to the nation and the Church or is nothing more than a label used to demonize and dismiss people of faith from the public square, and therefore no threat at all.
Since the 1990s, fatherlessness has soared while median earnings for men have declined. Boys represent 70% of all D’s and F’s given out at school and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. They spend time in juvenile detention at over five times the rate of girls. There will be, on average, two women who graduate college for every male, over the next five years. As NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway mentioned recently on Bill Maher’s show Real Time, “The most unstable nations in the world have one thing in common. They have too many lonely, broke [men].” And yet that’s exactly the type of person modern culture is producing.
Parents have every reason to demand transparency in school curriculums, even if contemporary curriculums did not assume ideologies that undermine Christian faith and values. But they do, as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has documented in its Parents Toolkit on Critical Theory. At the very least, parents should be able to opt out their kids, but they have to know when and what’s being taught in order to make the request.
Scientist Michael Faraday’s reverence for Scripture came from recognizing its moral and spiritual authority. In the absence of external authorities, many look to “the science” to fill a role it simply cannot. So, the authority passes to scientists, who claim both an objectivity and a purview they do not have.