John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander

Lessons From the Soviets about Sexual Morality

History is full of examples of societies that tamper with God’s design for marriage, sex, and the family. It’s no coincidence that en vogue progressive ideas today, ideas with distinct roots in cultural Marxism, also decry marriage and the family as oppressive institutions that should be reimagined and sexual morality as outdated and even harmful.  

The Soviet Union was well known for rejecting so-called “bourgeois” morality in ways that led to rejecting reality. Economically this meant squashing human self-interest in favor of state control.  So, basic modern commodities like cars and plumbing could take years for the average Russian to secure. Marxist-inspired agricultural science rejected “Western” science and led to the deaths of millions as crops were planted in the dead of winter, too close together, and without pesticides in the mistaken belief that they could be “educated” to take on more beneficial traits.   
In the 1920s, Revolutionary Russia rejected “bourgeois” sexual morality by attacking the institution of marriage and the nuclear family. 
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed the nuclear family was, like religion, just another means of keeping the working class oppressed. According to the Marxist dialectic version of history, prehistoric humanity lived in a state of free love, and the nuclear family only emerged to protect the property rights of the rich through inheritance, keep workers content with less, and enslave women to the home.   
Engels, who spent a lot of time in Manchester’s red-light district, was more specific than Marx in his condemnations of the family.  
He wrote, “[W]ith every great revolutionary movement the question of ‘free love’ comes to the foreground.” Together, Marx and Engels attacked “bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed co-relation of parent and child.” In their view, family was a social construct that stood in the way of revolutionary progress.   
When Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they put these anti-family theories into practice. In 1918, the Soviets issued decrees “on the abolition of marriage” and “on civil partnership, children and ownership.” Marriage could be declared without the involvement of the state, and divorce could be obtained just as easily. As one Russian journalist summarized, “Divorce was a matter of choice.”   
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The Problem with So-Called “Antiracism”

Those who are in Christ, no matter which tongue or tribe or nation or language they represent, are reconciled to their Creator and thus, to each other. Only Christianity can anchor this beautiful vision of the human condition on solid ground, and it has incredible implications for individuals and nations, for people and for social structures. 

In a recent piece in The Atlantic, Tyler Austin Harper, a black professor from Bates College, argued that so-called “anti-racism” has gone too far.
In their righteous crusade against the bad color-blindness of policies such as race-neutral college admissions, these contemporary anti-racists have also jettisoned the kind of good color-blindness that holds that we are more than our race, and that we should conduct our social life according to that idealized principle. Rather than balance a critique of color-blind law and policy with a continuing embrace of interpersonal color-blindness as a social etiquette, contemporary anti-racists throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The term “anti-racist” came from a recent explosion of writing such as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist, and it carries enormous ideological implications. According to Kendi, “One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’”
For figures like Kendi and DiAngelo, anti-racism isn’t just the commitment to combat racism wherever we happen to see it, it’s the commitment to see racism everywhere, entrenched in the heart of society and present in all its aspects. Even more, to be “anti-racist” requires the adoption of a very narrow set of policy prescriptions, all of which come from an increasingly left side of the political world.
In this world, white people must move from a position of “neutrality” to actively “centering” race in all their discourse. Only then can “whiteness” and “implicit bias” be identified, admitted, and confessed. In practice, Harper warns, this only obliterates any distinctions between “structural” racism, a term referring to racial injustices embedded in wider society, and the interpersonal interactions with people of different races.
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Having the Street Smarts to Talk about God

In ‘Street Smarts’, Koukl teaches the kinds of questions that are most effective while also providing sample conversations on the most common topics, which is another very important contribution of this book. In addition to answering the misconceptions about faith that people often have—from God’s existence to the divinity of Jesus—Street Smarts helps believers engage others on the moral and social issues at the center of our cultural discourse, such as abortion and gender and the many topics related to human sexuality. Koukl provides the questions, the talking points, and the examples that can open up significant conversations, invite skeptics in, and challenge presuppositions. In the process, Christians will develop confidence in what is true.

For over 30 years, my friend Greg Koukl has taught Christians how to engage with people across worldview lines by asking questions. His first book Tactics has equipped thousands of Christians to communicate with wisdom and passion. This month, Koukl is releasing a follow-up to that book, entitled Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Christianity’s Toughest Challenges. 
Among the goals of the book is to make evangelism a less intimidating and more successful endeavor: 
There are few things that cause more nagging guilt for Christians than sharing their faith. They feel guilt because they don’t witness enough. They don’t witness enough because they’re scared. And they’re scared for good reason. Sharing the gospel and defending it—apologetics—often feels like navigating a minefield these days. For most of us, engaging others on spiritual matters does not come easy, especially when people are hostile. 
Koukl helpfully distinguishes what he calls “harvesting,” and “gardening.” Because God brings the harvest, our goal is simply faithfulness to what is true about the world and about people. According to John’s Gospel, some Christians harvest and others sow, so “that sower and reaper may rejoice together.”  
A singular focus only on “harvesting,” Koukl argues, leads to a number of problems. For example, the very important “gardeners” are encouraged to sit out the evangelism process, in favor of the “harvesters.” This is often the case when Christians fail to understand the power of the cultural forces shaping the worldview of non-believers, one reason our Gospel seeds seem to only bounce off “hard soil.” Christians, therefore, must also commit to “spadework,” or digging up the faulty preconceptions about life, God, and humanity that people hold, often unknowingly. One great way to do this “spadework” is by asking questions.  
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“Live Your Truth” and Other Lies

Another commonly repeated, highly consequential lie is that there’s such a thing as “your truth” and “my truth”: Christian, your truth doesn’t exist. Your truth won’t bring hope or save anyone. … The Cross is the answer to every lie that tells me I can find everything I need inside myself. … The Cross is not just a symbol of salvation. It’s a place of rest. 

In her new book, author and apologist Alisa Childers targets the lies that often masquerade as cultural proverbs today. In Live Your Truth and Other Lies: Exposing Popular Deceptions That Make Us Anxious, Exhausted, and Self-Obsessed, Childers offers just what the title promises. She exposes the bad ideas at the center of slogans we hear all the time. You can receive a copy of the book with a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month. Just go to 
Though the mantras that dominate our world can seem harmless, they are not. “Our culture,” Childers writes,  
is brimming with slogans that promise peace, fulfillment, freedom, empowerment, and hope. These messages have become such an integral component of our American consciousness that many people don’t even think to question them. … The problem? They are lies. 
In fact, Childers argues, slogans like “You are enough,” “authenticity is everything,” “Put yourself first,” “It’s all about love,” or “God just wants you to be happy,” commonly redefine words like love and hate and happy. What’s left is a modern-day “tower of Babel” (or “Babble”) situation where those with the most social media followers are granted authority and assumed to have expertise on life and how to live it.  
At the root of these destructive slogans is a view of the self. For example, Childers cites Glennon Doyle, whose New York Times No. 1 best seller Untamed centers around her decision to leave her husband for a woman she saw at a local zoo, all while quoting Carl Jung: “There is no greater burden on a child than the unlived life of a parent.”  
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Americans’ Values Are Changing

Christians, connected to the true Vine, can show the better way, loving our neighbors (even when we are hated) and loving truth. In a world starving for the right values, God gives our lives true value.  The world is valuable because God created it and Christ died to save it. May God grant us the courage to live like this is true.  

A recent survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and The University of Chicago found that Americans are, in huge numbers, pulling back from the values that once defined them. Over the last 25 years, the percentage of Americans who described “Patriotism” as either “important” or “very important” fell from 70% to 38%. Those who valued “Religion” fell from 62% to 39%, “Having Children” from 59% to 30%, and “Community Involvement” from 47% to 27%. Even the percentage of Americans valuing “Tolerance for Others” dropped from 80% to just 58%.  Only one value out of ten listed increased: “Money,” from 31% to 43%.  
Bill McInturff is an expert involved with previous iterations of this survey. He told The Wall Street Journal, “Perhaps the toll of our political division, Covid and the lowest economic confidence in decades is having a startling effect on our core values.’’  While economic affairs affect what people consider to be important, this is reversing the proverbial cart and horse. Corrupt societies can be prosperous, but only for a time. Eventually, low trust, rampant injustice, and civic division have consequences. Throughout history, economic crisis has not created a moral vacuum: It reveals it. 
If there is no moral design to reality, or for humanity in particular, what people value is inconsequential. In such a world, there is nothing to be pursued outside of individual expression, which is assumed to lead to happiness and human flourishing. Who cares if people do not value communities, countries, or tolerance? It is the inherent determination of individuals, the pursuit of what they want the most, that will inevitably guide them. We can only follow our own impulses and desires.  
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Department of Education to Remove Protections for Religious Campus Groups

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. 

In February, the U.S. Department of Education announced its intention to rescind the “Free Inquiry Rule,” established in 2020 by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. According to the rule, universities that receive federal funding cannot deny any right, benefit, or privilege to student organizations simply because they are religious in nature. The common-sense rule was designed to fix the increasingly common practice of campus authorities unjustly pressuring and discriminating against religious student groups. 
For example, during the 2014-15 academic year, the California State University system withdrew recognition from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because it required its leaders to hold Christian beliefs. In fact, according to a Christian Legal Society fact sheet, similar incidents occurred at the University of Arizona, University of Northern Colorado, the University of Florida, University of Georgia, Boise State University, University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and others. One religious organization with multiple chapters was also forced to seek legal counsel regarding its presence at 16 different public colleges and universities in the last four years.  
In 2021, a Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was denied funding to invite a Christian philosopher for a lecture unless it included “another spokesperson with a different ideological perspective.” In a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, Ratio Christi argued that the university failed to follow this policy with other groups, but instead spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars in student fees each year to pay for speakers … on topics like sexual orientation, gender identity, reproductive justice, social justice, police reform, and political activism.”  
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Tis the Season for Christology: How the Hymns of Christmas Teach Right Doctrine

Christmas announces His lordship over all creation. His life, obedience, death, and resurrection ensure that the darkness will end, and that He is the light that comes into the world and reveals the truth about everything. In this and every season, there is hope. This invites us to sing along and share these truths with a world in darkness. 

Recently, my colleague Kasey Leander sat down with Dr. Andrew Newell of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, to discuss the Christmas hymn, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Originally published in 1739, the song is a treasure of orthodox Christology, something just as needed today as it was in the 18th century.
As Newell explained, England at that time was beset with theological challenges. After a profound cultural upheaval during the previous century, the Church of England had replaced much of its theological vigor with a more stagnant faith, one that de-emphasized doctrine in favor of “reasonable religion,” outward works, and Enlightenment thinking. Largely missing was a commitment to the notion that Christianity was actually true, and thus required of Christians personal conviction, repentance, and transformation.  
Likewise, heresies such as Arianism, the false religion centered around the idea that Jesus was not God incarnate but merely a created being, had gained new traction. In fact, Charles Wesley thought Arianism a big enough threat to directly counter, when he compared it to the “wormwood” of Revelation 8:10-11: 
How has he shed his baleful power,  
Wasted the earth, and peopled hell,  
While millions drink the Arian lie 
And yet, in the midst of this bleak scene, revival was stirring, which could be seen in central Europe among the Moravian Christians, across the Atlantic with Jonathan Edwards, and at Oxford University in the “Holy Club” founded by George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, and others. In England, members of the Holy Club preached, wrote hymns, and published sermons. When church doors were closed on them, they met in open fields. 
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Loving Our Neighbors, Telling the Truth about Identity and Gender

James calls followers of Christ to be, “gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Silence might be easier…however, we must take the posture of engaging the issues—not avoiding them—and especially of engaging people with truth and love as Christ did. 

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. 
The number of Americans who report personally knowing someone who struggles with gender dysphoria now approaches 50%. Thus, Christians should be prepared, as best as we can, for these scenarios which we are now more likely to encounter than not. When unprepared, too many Christians simply go quiet, and in the process, go along with transgender ideology—not because they believe it but because rocking the boat seems too risky. Rather than truly loving our neighbors, something admittedly difficult, we instead choose the easier path of not offending and only affirming. We then name that path “love,” but it’s neither loving nor true.  
The story of Holy Scripture, in each of its four chapters, contextualizes what is true about every person, including the created reality of sexual distinction. First, that God created and values our bodies, which are made male and female for His purposes. Second, the Fall, while validating the pain and discomfort that many people feel within their own bodies, dispels the idea that what we feel should be accepted as true. In fact, it may be false, confused, and harmful.  Third, that Christ is making all things new through His life, obedience, death, and resurrection, all of which came by God Himself taking on a human body. Fourth, one day the pain of dysphoria will be fully healed when our faith becomes sight. 
The topic of transgenderism requires, first and foremost, theological clarity. Children must hear, over and over, God’s design for sexuality and the body articulated. If they haven’t heard it, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn how many struggle in silence.   
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Dating is Broken

Purpose does not guarantee success, of course, but it can define a life of faithfulness and meaning, whatever our place in life and whatever obstacles we face. Like everything else, all of our human relationships are touched by the Fall. But our purpose as human beings, given by God in creation, remains. Christ’s redemptive work stretches as wide as creation to all of our relationships.  

According to Michal Leibowitz in an opinion piece for The New York Times, “Dating is broken.”  
When Pew Research surveyed those in the dating scene, 67% of respondents answered that their dating life was not going well. Though 25% percent said it was easy to find a date, the rest reported finding it either very or somewhat difficult. And, those are just the results among those who are actively dating. About half of single Americans, by contrast, have stopped looking. 
Meanwhile, the number of single people in the U.S. is at an all-time high, with nearly 1 in 3 U.S. households representing someone living alone. Though many gladly opt for the single life, others feel trapped by social trends they didn’t invent, either caught in a cycle of short-term relationships or starved for options in a world that doesn’t seem to share their values.  
Technology is a major factor behind the significant changes in all human relationships. After Tinder turned 10 years old this year, journalist Catherine Pearson offered what she called, “a moment of collective reflection about how apps have reshaped not just dating culture, but also the emotional lives of longtime users.” One young woman told Pearson that she’s “over it all: the swiping, the monotonous getting-to-know-you conversations and the self-doubt that creeps in when [matches fizzle].” (That’s leaving aside issues of harassment and abuse, something more than 60% of women say they’ve experienced on a dating site.)  
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Cheating in Sports and the Rest of Life

This phenomenon applies to sports as much as to marriage, to international economics as much as to personal finance, to lawmaking as much as to law keeping, to policing as much as to criminal activity. Technology may help us better detect cheating, but it won’t produce humans who won’t try. If we think otherwise, it’s because our worldview is cheating us.  

Recently, five-time world chess champion Magnus Carlsen resigned a match with 19-year-old Hans Niemann and accused his opponent of cheating. His allegations have since been substantiated. In professional poker, a relative newcomer was accused of cheating in a game in which she won over $260,000. The CRLG, the world’s largest competitive Irish dancing organization, just launched a widespread investigation of cheating, which included offering sexual favors for presiding judges. And in a video gone viral, over 8 lbs. of lead weights were removed from the bellies of Ohio walleyes caught in a professional fishing tournament. 
The string of cheating scandals points to a reality of the human condition after the Fall, a reality that spans time and place and cultures and even sports, ranging from the popular to the less than popular. At the Olympic Games of 388 B.C., the 98th Olympic games, a boxer named Eupolus of Thessaly bribed three opponents to throw the match. In response, the Greeks raised statues of Zeus along the route to the competition, with lightning bolts raised to punish those who would bribe or cheat their way to victory. The irony, of course, is that Zeus, “the Oath Giver” was a notorious oath breaker, cheating again and again on his wife Hera. And lest we pick on professional fishing, we should remember NFL’s “Deflategate” and the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. 
What is odd about our time and place is the outrage over lead weights in dead fish and yet our simultaneous shrugs over affairs, open marriages, and no-fault divorce. A recent YouGov poll found that roughly a quarter of Americans were interested in an open relationship. According to Gallup polling, though the divorce rate has actually dipped in recent years, the social acceptability of divorce is at an all-time high. 
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