“It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). He provides everything for our bodies; therefore, we are His. “They all wait for You to give them their food in due season” (Psalm 104:27). Above all, He has redeemed us – including our bodies in the resurrection – out of our sin & death into Christ’s righteousness & life. Therefore, we – including our bodies – are His.
Since the Supreme Court’s Dobb decision overturned Roe, abortion is front and center in state and national politics. Abortion advocates forcefully assert that women are now denied a civil right as well as essential health care. The reasoning behind this assertion is that the fetus is part of a woman’s body and under her exclusive jurisdiction. “My body, my choice” is the refrain. I am aware of the insistence that we speak of “pregnant person” instead of “woman”. This is irrational and I will not do it.
A fetus in a woman’s body is not like a kidney or other organ that has always been part of her. Her well-being does not depend on the fetus. She can live with the fetus or without it. The fetus is something new that will be in her body for a time but then will naturally depart from her. The fetus is not like a tumor or other growth that may threaten the health and even the life of a woman and needs to be destroyed. In the vast majority of cases, the fetus does not threaten the health or life of a woman. It does put significant demands on her, but she ordinarily can continue with her activities much as before the fetus showed up. The fetus is unlike both a kidney and a tumor in that it is the result of the arrival of an element from a body that is not hers joining an element of a body that is hers and becoming a body that is neither of theirs with its own distinctive human DNA and its own form and function very early on. The fetus is not part of a woman’s body. It is in her body but it is the body of a distinctly personal human being and therefore has its own rights that must be defended along with the woman’s. The fetus is not her body and therefore it is not her choice.
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By Barry Cooper — 11 months ago
Read Revelation chapters 21 and 22, and you’ll see that at the heart of heaven is a wedding. The love story that began in Genesis chapter 1 reaches its climax. The promise God made to Abraham, that He would draw to Himself a multiethnic group from every different social class and background, from across every era of history—this is where we see it finally fulfilled.
In 2014, a group of artists and musicians in the United Kingdom asked thousands of people one question and based a live show on the answers. The question was, What is your happiest memory?
As you might imagine, there were lots of first dates, first dances, first loves, first houses. Memories of weddings. Memories of births—lots of births, apparently. Then there were memories of glorious holidays, and memories of precious faces—the faces of loved ones now lost.
And as they collected these memories of happiness, the creators of the show noticed three things.
The first was that less than 1 percent of these happy memories had anything to do with material things.
Secondly, the memories were nearly always about relationships of one kind or another. Family or friends or lovers.
They discovered the third thing when they fed all the happy memories into a database and looked for recurring words and phrases. The word that came up most often was the word “home.”
So anyway, they put the show on; they toured it all round the U.K. And when the director was interviewed afterwards, he said that the performances were extraordinary—like a cross between a wedding and a wake. It was a celebration, but it was mixed with sadness—sadness, because of course these were memories of happiness. The happiness had gone; it had faded into nostalgia.
What was left was a longing for relationship, and a longing for home.
Why do we have these desires? Could it be that we were made for another world, one in which these longings are fully and finally satisfied?
We were. Open up Revelation chapters 21 and 22, and you’ll catch a stunning glimpse of the world you were made for.
By Jonathon Van Maren — 1 month ago
As parents push back, school boards are being forced to buckle. The lesson here is simply: To change the culture, we must engage it. That means voting in local elections. It means going to school board meetings. It means not remaining silent when these things are happening in our communities. Because when parents to speak up—when they do insist on change—we see change happening, from Arkansas to the United Kingdom. Be encouraged—and get active.
With a seemingly constant firehose of bad news, it is genuinely important to mark our cultural victories. It is true that the LGBT movement has both infiltrated and taken control of the public school system, from the contents of the curriculum to the celebration of “Pride Month.” But it is also true that the growing parental rights movement has created an effective backlash and is steadily accruing victories.
Earlier this month, for example, the Rice Lake School Board passed a policy mandating that parents must be made aware of any student who changes their name as part of “transitioning” genders. Over the past several years, we’ve seen many examples of schools assisting children in “social transitioning” (or worse) without telling the parents. The rationale for this has been the insistence of LGBT activists that parents pose a danger to their children, and that these changes should be hidden from them.
In fact, several transgender activists actually protested the board meeting, saying that the policy was “discriminatory” and that it made students unsafe. Parents pushing for the policy stated that it was essential for them to know what is going on with their children. “Parents have to be informed of or grant permission to literally anything else,” one noted at the meeting.
Parents also scored a victory in Conway, Arkansas, where the school board approved policies that trans activists predictably oppose.
By Greg Koukl — 10 months ago
There is a difference between CRT as an explanatory paradigm (remember, the “T” stands for “Theory”) and racism as a reality. Classically understood, racism is a kind of group bigotry. CRT, by contrast, looks at power structures in cultures to explain why that bigotry and the inequity it causes exist and how they operate within social structures. It may be that CRT fails as a theory when closely examined. That does not mean racism doesn’t exist, though, but only that CRT does not describe the dynamic of racial oppression well.
The newspaper headline read, “Critical Race Theory Coming to a School Near You?” The paper was The Conejo Guardian,1 the monthly publication of Conejo Valley—the quiet, diminutive basin where I make my home in southern California, just beyond the teeth of the LA sprawl.
The article was a warning.
Critical race theory (CRT) is coming to a school near you—to your high schools, to your middle schools, even to your elementary schools (the universities have already been thick with CRT for years).
Critical race theory is coming to your public schools, and to your private schools,2 and has even stolen into some of your Christian schools and churches.3 And it’s coming to your workplace, too (if it hasn’t already), in the form of “inclusion” or “diversity” training.4 And, generally, it’s not optional—in school or on the job.
The indoctrination rapidly penetrating all levels of society is controversial, contentious, and divisive—aggressively pitting one group of people against another. It’s also thoroughly political, with the current federal government championing CRT—and legislatively backing it—lock, stock, and barrel.5
Regarding the aggressive education efforts in California (and in other parts of the country where CRT is penetrating the educational system), Anna Mussmann warns in The Federalist:
Parents need to understand that behind the waterfall of vocabulary is a militant ideology. When kids are taught to subject all of life to “critical consciousness” in order to find the “oppressor” and the “oppressed” everywhere and at all times, they are taught that the only ultimate meaning in life is power.6
As with other efforts with a totalitarian impulse, disagreement is not welcome. Dissenters are frequently treated with disrespect, harassed, and bullied:
Critical race theorists want students to accept the assumption that anyone who fails to swallow these rules wholeheartedly is a tool of oppression. Ultimately, it’s a highly effective way of preventing dialogue and pitting students against students.7
The attraction of CRT for people of conscience is its emphasis on “social justice” as an answer to racism. But CRT isn’t your parents’ (or your grandparents’) civil rights movement.
Not MLK’s Civil Rights
I was a senior in high school when Martin Luther King was murdered. It’s a vivid memory for me, as are the civil rights efforts of that time. The movement was a flashpoint for change in a long, ugly, brutal chapter in the American experiment, a test to see if the noble ideals of the Founding Fathers and of the Declaration of Independence would be enjoyed, finally, by all Americans.
That is how Martin Luther King Jr. understood civil rights, since he referred to those documents frequently. As a preacher from a long line of preachers, he also based his stand on Scripture. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he cited the Bible liberally.
In King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” address delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, he envisioned a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
This famous line reflected a commonsense, liberal (in the best sense), and biblical ethical principle. The most important element uniting every human being—more significant than any differences that divide us—has nothing to do with any incidental physical characteristic. What ought to unite us is our shared and noble humanity.
“Now is the time,” King said, “to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.” He based his dream—his vision of a just America for every human being—on the reality that we are all brothers fashioned in the image of God.
Frederick Douglass, the eminent 19th-century black abolitionist, wrote these words to his former slave master in September 1848:
I entertain no malice towards you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other. I am your fellow man, but not your slave.8
Note Douglass’s moral kinship with King. A licensed preacher, Douglass understood that the theological “solid rock” of any appeal to racial justice was that we are each other’s “fellow man,” equally precious in God’s eyes. We are also, I will add, all equally broken at the foot of the Cross.
Keep these two things in mind—our universal intrinsic value as one race of human brothers and our universal moral guilt—as we explore the hazardous world of CRT. They are central to everything we need to know when dealing biblically not only with racism, but with all forms of human oppression. They trade on the notion that genuine justice is always grounded in truth, not in power.
King’s principal thrust during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s was undoing segregation—whether on buses (the bus boycotts and the “Freedom Riders”), at lunch counters (Greensboro, North Carolina sit-ins), in public schools (Little Rock Central High School), and in higher education (the University of Mississippi).
Those days are over.
Today’s fight against racism lacks King’s noble intention to judge people by their character. In fact, rather than de-racializing our country, the current effort is to re-racialize it. Segregation is everywhere now—in graduations, in classrooms, in clubs, in adoptions—systematically endorsed and promoted by the new anti-racism movement.
There’s one significant difference, though. People of color are not the ones disqualified, disenfranchised, or demonized now. Rather, the ones currently disqualified, disenfranchised, and demonized by CRT advocates are white people. And males. And “hetero-normative” people. And “cisgendernormative” people. And, of course, Christians.9
The consequences are already tragic. At the moment, racial tensions are the highest they’ve been in the 21st century and continue to intensify.
Ask yourself this question. Regardless of your race, or color, or national or ethnic origin, do you feel, as a result of the events of the last 15-18 months, more comfortable amid the ethnic diversity of your community or less comfortable? The trend does not bode well.
What is going on?
A sage once observed, “When words lose their meanings, people lose their lives.” Proverbs 18:21 instructs us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” In short, words matter.
In 1984, George Orwell’s 1949 classic (and oddly prescient) dystopian vision of future totalitarianism, the manipulation of language is a powerful tool of distortion and deception. Orwell calls it “Newspeak” and “doublethink”—deceptive vocabulary that the citizens of Oceania were socialized by peer pressure to adopt. Some refer to it as “doublespeak”—clever efforts to purposefully distort, obscure, and euphemize ideas, masking their otherwise objectionable, unappealing, or even vile qualities. Orwell’s Animal Farm slogan, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” is a case in point.
In both works, Orwell was lampooning Soviet totalitarianism. Journalist Rod Dreher reminds us of “the Marxist habit of falsifying language, hollowing out familiar words and replacing them with a new, highly ideological meaning.”10
The Third Reich did it, too. Segments of the population who were “impaired” were described in German as “Lebensunwertes Leben,”11 literally, “life unworthy of life.” Thoroughly cleansing the European continent of Jews was called the “Final Solution.”
There is a lesson here for us that we have not learned well, especially the younger adults in our communities: beware of deceptive political euphemisms.
In its current course towards totalitarianism, the Left has shown itself a master at manipulating language. “Antifa,” for example, despite its members’ fascistic behavior, stands for “anti-fascist.” Who could argue with that? The noble name “Black Lives Matter” makes the organization virtually unassailable regardless of its views. “Social justice” is, well, justice, isn’t it?
“Liberals today,” Dreher observes, “deploy neutral sounding, or even positive, words like dialogue and tolerance to disarm and ultimately defeat unaware conservatives.”12
The manipulation of language is characteristic of totalitarian movements. This is especially true with the retooling of “connotation” words—words like “tolerance” or “racism” that have a certain feel to them. Their rhetorical force remains even when the words themselves are subtly redefined and pressed into service for different ends.
To that point, a significant shift has taken place between the civil rights language of the 1960s and the rhetoric of today’s “anti-racism” and “anti-white supremacist” CRT movement. That shift in language also signals a shift in substance.
The operative words sixty years ago were bigotry, racism, prejudice, discrimination, and segregation. Each had a particular meaning, a commonsense definition that resonated with ordinary moral intuitions. Each was connected to the others in a series of cascading vices terminating in terrible injustice: treating our human brothers made in the image of God in a way that denied their inherent dignity and value.
Bigotry was the first step, which Webster’s dictionary defined in 1965 as an individual character flaw of “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself”13 (“intolerance” here means “unwilling to grant equal freedom and protection especially in religious matters or other social, political, or professional rights”14). Bigotry festers into an unreasonable contempt or even hatred for members of a group based solely on amoral qualities or characteristics like skin color, ethnicity, or gender.
Bigotry is an ugly vice in individuals—a kind of personal pride or arrogance, an I’m-better-than-you conceit—but it’s deeply dangerous on a wider cultural scale, where it often develops into racism.
Racism was a familiar term in the 20th century—indeed, it was national policy for two great powers—Germany and Japan—that dragged the world into global war. It’s “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” (emphasis added).
In racism, then, one “race” is above the rest—Aryans and Japanese, to give two classical examples—being superior (allegedly) in extrinsic capabilities, and therefore having superior intrinsic value. All others are inferior.
Racism is bigotry writ large. It is deeply vile and degrading, denying the intrinsic value of every human being based on irrelevant extrinsic differences between groups of human beings.
The sense of racial superiority in racism becomes the breeding ground for prejudice, a “preconceived judgment . . . without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge . . . an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, or [a] race.”
Prejudice is evil because it ascribes vice to others based on factors unrelated to anything genuinely moral. A Jew, for example, was “pre-judged” as vermin in the Third Reich simply because he was Jewish, completely unrelated to any individual vice. In America, blacks were demeaned, judged by the color of their skin rather than by the content of their character—the antithesis of King’s dream.
Racial prejudice inevitably results in discrimination against those groups considered ethnically inferior. The root concept merely means “to distinguish between” and could be a virtue or a vice. Practiced properly, discrimination is benign (consider the thoughtful “discriminating” person). It’s an evil, though, when one discriminates “to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit.” This is invidious discrimination—an arbitrary and irrational bias that disenfranchises whole groups of people without legitimate justification.
Segregation, the “separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group,” is an application of invidious discrimination and the final consequence in this chain of civil rights abuses. It is racism in action, bigotry in practice. “Whites Only” policies of the early 1960s and before, for example, regulated patronage in restaurants, seating on buses, the use of bathrooms, and access to housing and education according to whether one was white or black. These are just a few of the disgraceful discriminatory practices of the time.
Bigotry, racism, prejudice, discrimination, and segregation made up the chain of social inequities that civil rights activists addressed in the 1960s. Individual bigotry led to corporate racism that resulted in a generalized prejudice against blacks. The result was illicit discrimination against them, not treating them equally under the law. Instead, they suffered the indecency of segregation.
Breaking that chain was the program of a bygone era of civil rights activism. That quest for racial justice is now behind us, and a new quest has replaced it, one bearing little moral kinship to the noble efforts of the past. Many of the original words remain, but they have been invested with new meanings and endowed with new values.
Notes1. The Conejo Guardian, May 2021.2. city-journal.org/the-miseducation-of-americas-elites.3. firstthings.com/article/2021/02/evangelicals-and-race-theory.4. heritage.org/civil-rights/report/critical-race-theory-the-new-intolerance-and-its-grip-america.5. https://spectator.us/topic/biden-critical-race-theory-schools-department-education.6. https://thefederalist.com/2021/04/05/californias-ethnic-studies-opens-door-to-critical-race-theory-indoctrination-throughout-public-schools.7. Ibid.8. watchtheyard.com/history/fredrick-douglas-letter-to-slave-master-auld.9. https://christopherrufo.com/revenge-of-the-gods.10. Rod Dreher, Live Not by Lies (Sentinel, 2020), 119.11. Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors—Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide (Basic Books/Harper Collins, 1986), 21.12. Dreher, 119.13. All definitions in quotes are from Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, 1965. I’ve used an older source not influenced by current rhetorical trends.14. The current postmodern understanding of intolerance is significantly different. See str.org/w/the-intolerance-of-tolerance.