Tag Archive for: Biblical Worldview

The Faults in ‘No-Fault’ Divorce

Jesus rejoiced in the institution of marriage. “He Who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Note the phrases: “hold fast … one flesh … what God has joined … not separate.” Marriage is, in God’s good plan, unitive and permanent, a covenant made to last. While Jesus made an exception for infidelity, God’s word makes clear that marriage is composed of a relationship that is to be as secure as our salvation in Christ. Indeed, marriage is a picture of the union of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

In our culture, this beautiful union has been tarnished by the availability of penalty-free dissolution. On July 6, 1969, the state of California enacted the nation’s first “no-fault” divorce law. As the state’s judicial branch website explains, this means “no one has to prove someone did something wrong to cause the divorce (this is called no fault divorce). You can get a divorce even if the other person doesn’t want one.” This measure became law under the signature of then-governor Ronald Reagan, who later told his son Michael that signing it was “one of the worst mistakes of his political career.”

In 2010, New York became the last state to enact a no-fault divorce law; today, all 50 have some form of the law on the books. Making no-fault divorce available and inexpensive is like offering a child an endless supply of ice cream and soda: Given human fallenness, something accessible that is also seen as desirable will be common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2021 there were 1,985,000 marriages in the United States and almost 690,000 divorces — almost exactly 35% of those who tied the knot.

In total, about half of first-time marriages end in divorce; subsequent marriages end at an even higher percentage. While the causes vary widely, ultimately no-fault divorce is a precipitating factor.

It has also become common. As National Review journalist Madeleine Kearns observes, we now have “widespread acceptance of ‘no fault divorce,’ the idea that marriage, like a car, sometimes spontaneously breaks down, becoming more hassle than it’s worth.” A disturbing but accurate metaphor. “The nation saw a spike in divorce rates following the enactment of no-fault divorce laws,” writes The Daily Signal’s Daniel Davis. “Between 1960 and 1980, the divorce rate more than doubled and remained relatively steady into the 1990s.”

At the same time, consider research by the University of Virginia’s Dr. Bradford Wilcox, who heads the National Marriage Project, that “active conservative Protestants,” or Evangelicals, “who attend church regularly are actually 35% less likely to divorce than those who have no religious preferences.” Also, in 2018, Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program published research collected over 14 years showing that “regular religious service attendance is associated with 50% lower divorce rates in later life.” So, while it’s good news that among regular churchgoers the divorce rate is lower, it is still high. And the costs of divorce for the couples involved, their children, and the culture at large are wide and deep. The scars left, especially on children, are large and enduring.

Christians need to pursue Christ-honoring marriages and there are many resources to help them; some can be found at FRC.org. With that said, while personal character is not the province of government, both Scripture and the Constitution emphasize the need to restrain the excesses of human fallenness. Penalizing adverse and destructive behavior is necessary for individuals and communities, even nations, to enjoy a high measure of stability and security. Along with this, nothing strengthens the foundation of any society more than healthy, robust families. So, what can government do, for the good of everyone, to create a cultural environment in which faithful marriage is encouraged?

Policies that bolster marriage are helpful. For example, the home mortgage deduction, the adoption tax credit, and the charitable tax deduction are among those that enable families to better pay their bills. But things like the so-called “Respect for Marriage Act,” which essentially said that marriage is whatever any state says it is, and no-fault divorce take away from whatever else government gives.

What is not helpful is a national policy in which divorce-at-will, or with modest qualifications, is now more the norm than not. Revising state divorce policy is a tough challenge; model legislation (which includes exceptions for such things as spousal abuse and abandonment) provides guidance but has yet to be enacted. It’s hard to curb people’s desire for an easy-out.

Perhaps the most effective remedy is for believers to model the kinds of marriages Jesus envisioned. As Christian men and women demonstrate the beauty of the lifelong, exclusive, covenantal commitment He taught, the attractiveness of the one-flesh union might well make marriage more attractive.

A final note: Theologically, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce. There is always at least one party morally responsible for violating something God never intended to be dissolved.

AUTHOR

Rob Schwarzwalder

Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University’s Honors College.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

I Am Non-Man, Hear Me Roar

There’s an old proverb that says there are two kinds of people in the world: men, and non-men.

Except there’s no such proverb. Such thinking can only come from the academic crème de la crème at one of America’s elite universities. Enter Johns Hopkins University’s “LGBTQ Glossary.” The glossary purported to be, “an introduction to the community, and […] not the definitive answer as to how everyone understands these terms.” Did you get that? It’s a list of definitions that are not definitive. Welcome to college, folks — where hell hath no fury as a non-man scorned.

Controversy ensued when this definition was highlighted by critics on Twitter:

Lesbian [sexual orientation]: A non-man attracted to non-men. While past definitions refer to ‘lesbian’ as a woman who is emotionally, romantically, and/or sexually attracted to other women, this updated definition includes non-binary people who may also identify with the label.

If you’re scratching your head a bit, you’re not alone. As “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling keenly observed:

“Man: no definition needed.

Non-man (formerly known as woman): a being definable only by reference to the male. An absence, a vacuum where there’s no man-ness.”

While it’s true that men the world over have difficulty understanding women, defining them only in the context of men might not be the best approach. As often happens when gaffes get too much attention, Johns Hopkins — at the time of this writing — must be rethinking things. They took down the entire glossary, and replaced it with this statement:

“Upon becoming aware of the language in question, we have begun working to determine the origin and context of the glossary’s definitions. We have removed the page from our website while we gather more information.”

Oops. In other words, they apparently had no idea where these non-definitive definitions came from — they simply posted them on their website. To Johns Hopkins’s credit, they didn’t double-down on absurdity — at least not yet. A day later, they revised the page yet again, saying:

“While the glossary is a resource posted on the website of the Johns Hopkins University Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI); the definitions were not reviewed or approved by ODI leadership and the language in question has been removed pending review.”

Someone (if they ever find who did this!) is likely to get re-educated in a bad way. However the university’s diversity and inclusion episode eventually rewrites the glossary, it’s clear that what was briefly a cultural battle over pronouns has abandoned the “pro” and now moved squarely to the nouns. Are verbs next on the chopping block?

Absurdities like this could easily be overlooked but for the fact that really educated people are really thinking that the best way to describe a woman is a “non-man.” Never mind that it’s a term that could encompass almost anything. Would a serpent qualify as a non-man? Check. Would a forbidden fruit qualify? You bet.

Man’s first recorded words in the Bible are of appreciation for the woman God had made:

“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Gen 2:23, ESV)

The woman was certainly “not him,” but that was far from a defining characteristic. While Supreme Court justices may have difficulty defining women, the Bible’s unfolding definition paints a picture of a being created in God’s image and a display of his glory. Contrast that with Hopkins’s definition that’s merely a breath away from calling women “nonpersons.”

There’s a long history of dehumanization in the world, and it never turns out well. This clumsy glossary dehumanizes and erases women, but those of us who are “non-women” should be just as concerned. The never-ending redefinition of terms and relabeling of people ultimately devours even those who are doing the redefining. To be sure, no one is man enough or non-man enough to withstand the all-consuming nature of this lie.

For those of us who know the truth, we have an opportunity to counter the madness with the stark simplicity of the biblical worldview. God created us in his image. Male and female he created us. It’s simple, it’s true, and it reflects the reality of God’s order. And a God who orders things deserves to be listened to. And thankfully, he has spoken to us in his word through his son, who was born of a woman and grew up a man (nothing non- about either of them).

A step toward the man Jesus offers us the hope of new creation for both man and woman. “Behold, I am making all things new.” To be defined by him is our only hope. His is the only glossary in which we will find humanity, both man and woman. Non-men need not apply.

AUTHOR

Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Radical LGBT ‘Pride’ Is Full of Extreme Violence

Over the last several years, the United States has seen a disturbing uptick in K-12 schools protecting the instigators of assault against other students in the name of solidarity with the LGBT community. Children are being abused in school bathrooms, and leftist school administrators and the liberal media are covering it up because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

We are living in a world where political agendas are often placed ahead of protecting innocent youth in their places of education. Just last week, Fox News reported the account of a 15-year-old girl from Oklahoma who was attacked and beaten by a 17-year-old male who identified as transgender in the girls’ bathroom.

The trans-identifying male not only violated the young girl but also violated state law, which directs students to use the bathroom designated by the gender on their birth certificate. The school was quick to defend its position, even though the male student had been targeting the girl previously, to the point of being searched by police for weapons. The girl had told school administrators that the trans-identifying student was in fact a male, but the school later claimed in a statement that it had no previous reason to believe the abuser was a male. Lawyers for the girl have pushed back, stating the school did know and are responsible for failing to pursue the matter.

Because of the school’s failure to investigate multiple red flags and comply with state law, a young girl was brutally beaten in the bathroom. In March, a school in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin came under fire when three 14-year-old girls complained to school administrators that an 18-year-old male student who identified as a transgender entered the communal shower in the girls’ locker room and exposed himself.

The school did not notify its Title IX coordinator, nor did it launch an investigation into the incident. According to a local report, the adult male had not been in the PE class with girls and they were surprised to see him in the locker room. The girls asserted they were aware the male identified as transgender and were uncomfortable with his presence, but they received no protection. According to the girls’ account, the male entered the shower space after them and proceeded to disrobe, exposing his male genitalia and commenting, “I’m trans, by the way.”

Regardless of how some folks feel about the issue of transitioning genders, everyone should recognize the moral and legal problems of a biological adult male exposing himself to underage girls. And, in this case, the emotional problems associated with it happening against their will. Protecting indecency and sexual abuse isn’t progressive, it’s regressive. For centuries, women and allies have been fighting for equal opportunities and equal protections. Permitting and protecting sex abusers and pedophiles (by definition) is a dangerous, illegal, and disgusting slope.

There are countless examples of young girls and boys being assaulted in places that would have traditionally been protected, such as changing rooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms. Instead of ensuring the safety of young girls, schools are allowing boys to enter private spaces and create an increased risk of harm and sexual abuse. All children should be protected from sexual aggression but instead, it’s often adult administrators who are protecting the assailants rather than the victims. Girls in particular are being beaten, sexually assaulted, and even raped in school bathroom stalls.

And what are schools doing? Preserving the abuser and delegitimizing the victims. Schools frequently and intentionally withhold the assault of minors from parents, and many of them are failing to comply with state and federal reporting laws. Why? To protect the supposed “minority” LGBT-identifying students who are perpetuating the violence.

And it isn’t just happening in our schools — there is an entire movement within the LGBT community that is promoting violence as a means of revenge. Just two months ago, a trans-identifying woman entered a Christian elementary school and opened fire, slaughtering three nine-year-old children and three staff members. Leading up to the shooting, a “Trans Day of Vengeance” had been planned. Following the shooting, a group called the Trans Revolutionary Action Network issued a statement JUSTIFYING the actions of the shooter, stating that “hate has consequences.”

This was met by support from other LGBT community members and allies, essentially asserting that the so-called suffering of trans-identifying individuals is bound to cause violence.

And the Covenant School shooter is not an outlier. In November 2022, an LGBT night club in Colorado Springs was attacked by a male who identified as non-binary. In Denver, a school was attacked by a gunman who identified as transgender, leaving one student killed and another eight seriously injured.

As Christians, we should not be surprised by the increased violence coming from individuals who refuse to recognize or fear God. And while they blame others, the truth is that rejection of God results in greater depravity. Solomon, the wisest man the world has ever known, described it perfectly: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence” (Proverbs 4:14-17 NASB).

Leftist politicians and media have contributed to the radicalization of the LGBT movement. The ever-increasing instances of privacy violations, violent assaults, and death resulting from the outrage of the LGBT community cannot and should not be tolerated.

Accepting the beliefs of a person is one thing, condoning immoral behavior or violence is entirely different. Something must be done to stop the radicalization of LGBT individuals and to protect children in schools. Let’s begin by allowing God and morality to be taught and embraced by our culture. Obviously, this will require the church to be more intentional at fulfilling Christ’s call to be “salt and light.” Then, we must enforce laws that protect people from violent individuals, and stop children from being exposed to sexualized material or people against their will — and then purposefully hiding the details from their parents.

We are on the verge of losing the next generation. It’s time for biblical morality, common sense, and legal ramifications to be reintroduced to our culture. Let’s protect our children.

AUTHOR

Jody Hice

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Reclaiming the Biblical Rainbow

Whether you’re browsing through a clothing aisle of Target or taking a walk through your neighborhood — especially during the month of June — it’s likely you’ll run into a symbol plastered on t-shirts or waving on flags: the rainbow. What do you immediately associate with the bold colors of red, orange, yellow, green, indigo, and violet? Most would likely say LGBTQ Pride. It is easily identifiable due to the infiltration of Pride merchandise in stores, schools, and neighborhoods.

Within the last 50 years, LGBTQ+ culture has adopted the symbol to represent sexual identity, and it has become a staple in the Pride movement. The materialized association we make between the God-ordained rainbow with a so-called “pride” for sexual identity has become normalized as the symbol is often paired with the image of a same-sex couple or phrases like “love is love.”

How did this association come about? Who decided on the counterfeit rainbow as the staple image to represent the LGBTQ community?

The answer lies in the late 1970s when San Francisco artist and drag performer Gilbert Baker was asked to create a symbol representing the gay community. The Department of Mental Health claims that, “Baker collaborated with his friend Lynn Segerblom” to “design” the rainbow flag. The only difference from their design and God’s was two more colors: hot pink and turquoise. Although these two colors have since been removed — and other renditions of the flag continue to occur regularly — the design made its debut at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco in 1978.

According to History.com, “The most commonly used image for the burgeoning gay rights movement was the pink triangle,” a symbol that was pinned to people who identified as homosexual during World War II by Nazis. “Using a symbol with such a dark and painful past was never an option for Baker,” so instead he chose the rainbow as it was “meant to represent togetherness.” Each color maintained a significance: hot pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, turquoise for magic and art, indigo for serenity, and violet for spirit.

Since his creation of the rainbow Pride flag, Gilbert has been recognized by political leaders and praised for the strides he made in the movement. In 2016, former President Barack Obama presented Baker with a hand-dyed rainbow flag. Baker spent the remainder of his life “push[ing] boundaries and gender norms,” until his death in 2017.

With June being the designated “Pride Month,” the LGBTQ community and supporters push the sale of as much rainbow gear as possible. In preparation for the month, conservative leaders have spoken up, calling people to take the rainbow symbol back.

“The rainbow is and always will be a sign of the covenant God made with his people,” wrote conservative author and influencer David Harris. “The woke mob may try to twist its meaning, but we won’t let their foolishness prevail. It’s time to reclaim the rainbow for His purpose!!”

Similarly, pro-life advocate and author Abby Johnson posted some “reminders” on her social media page, encouraging her followers to remember the rainbow’s true meaning.

“I will not stop enjoying rainbows just because man has decided to attempt to usurp it,” she wrote. “God defines marriage because He created it. We don’t get to argue with Him about it or throw a tantrum. He made marriage, He gets to set the terms. It’s between a man and a woman.”

Why are these conservative leaders calling for people to take the rainbow back? What is so significant about different wavelengths of light striking water droplets, resulting in seven colors forming an arch? Let’s go back to some of the earliest days of creation to answer this question.

In Genesis 6, we are told that as the human population grew, so did their wickedness. Humans were so corrupt, that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5). It says the Lord regretted creating humans. Within just five chapters of creation’s origin story, God went from nodding in approval and calling his people good to feeling remorseful over his creation. When Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, sin entered the world and with it came separation from God: an unbearable consequence that all people deserve.

From the beginning of time, fleshly desires took over the human race and people turned their back on God. So, God sent a great flood in order to “put an end to all people” (Genesis 6:13), except for one family, headed by a man named Noah, who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). The fate of the human race fell to the obedience of this one man.

As the story that we learned in Sunday school goes, God ordered Noah to build an ark and spared him and his family from the flood. In Genesis 9:11, He establishes a promise, saying, “Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” To seal this promise, God explained the significance of the symbol of his covenant.

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth” (Genesis 9:13-16).

From these few verses, we learn that in God’s mercy, he decided to give humanity a second chance to live in harmony with him, and he set a reminder in the sky.

If the original meaning of the rainbow was meant to represent God’s promise to never wipe out his people with a flood again, how come it is now associated with sexual orientation and gender fluidity? Doesn’t it seem ironic that a movement rooted in sexual anarchy — which stands in opposition to the Word of God — uses a biblical symbol to represent its anti-biblical ideology?

Baker designed a version of the rainbow as the LGBTQ symbol “because he saw flags as the most powerful symbol of pride.” As Christians, the rainbow represents something completely different and much more sacred: a symbol of hope. Hope of an everlasting life with a Just and Merciful Creator, despite our temporary and wretched state. As author of “God’s Covenant with the Earth” Peter Harris pointed out, “God’s covenant with Noah was a commitment to maintain the inherent relationship between Creator and creation.” Nothing can separate us from his love. There is room for forgiveness, and our nation must fight for a story of redemption.

As Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement Joseph Backholm put it, “It seems significant that the LGBT rainbow is a counterfeit of a real rainbow because everything about the sexual revolution is a counterfeit of good things God created. Satan has always been in the habit of taking good things and modifying them slightly so they have similarities to good things but are not good things.”

As we walk through the month of June, let us heed the instruction Peter wrote to God’s elect and remember to stand firm in our faith and convictions. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

AUTHOR

Abigail Olsson

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

10 Things for Christians to Remember during Pride Month

We all know it’s coming and in various ways we are bracing for it. You’ll be navigating workplaces, city streets, social media feeds, and corporate events celebrating it. The first thing to understand is that “Pride month” does not mean the same thing to everyone.

For many, Pride month is seen as a month of inclusivity and tolerance where people are seen and reminded that they matter. In significant ways, these are values that Christians share. But there’s so much more to it.

The message of Pride is not that you matter because you are created in the image of God, a message Christians not only agree with but started. No, Pride is a declaration of independence against nature and nature’s God. It is a claim that we can do whatever we want and no one can stop us. Live your truth. Live authentically.

In addition, for many, the symbolism has come to represent oppression, intolerance, and hate. The rainbow flag, which has now become much more than a rainbow, represents a movement that is pushing speech codes, that has closed businesses, and harassed people because they did not share a commitment to the sexual revolution or would not affirm that men can become women and get pregnant.

It’s interesting that Pride month falls right in the middle of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. On Memorial Day, we celebrate those who gave their lives for our freedom. On the Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence from tyranny and those who pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor so we could live as free people. Our nation, and those who died for it, get one day. But the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence get an entire month. If that doesn’t seem right, it’s not.

But let’s not get angry or panic. How do we think soberly, act biblically, and maintain our joy as we wade through this month-long celebration of sin?

Here are a few things to remember.

1. Pride celebrations are not new.

Although pride parades down the streets of America’s cities are a relatively recent development, people making a declaration of independence from God is so old it is almost cliché.

In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:2-3). However, Eve, with Satan’s help, convinced herself that doing things her way would help her become like God. Perhaps she decided she was spiritual, not religious.

She observed that the tree was good for food, that it was a delight to the eyes, and that it was desirable to make one wise (Genesis 3:6). She convinced herself that her rebellion would not be rebellion at all but virtue. She had followed the old rules long enough and found them to be stifling of her individuality. She was ready to chart a new path and live her truth and even convinced her husband to join her celebration. They may have even felt a sense of pride as they freed themselves from the bondage of God’s rules.

Basically, Adam and Eve started these parades and we’ve all participated in various ways and with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

2. You can love the way God wants you to or the way the world wants you to, but not both.

Much will be said about love this month. T-shirts, memes, and parade signs will declare that “love is love” and that “love wins.” Whether Christians can agree with these sentiments depends on how “love” is defined. Proponents of the sexual revolution would have us believe that we show love for someone by affirming identities, indulging desires, and encouraging each other to “live your truth.” But God’s definition of love is very different.

Scripture reminds us that “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). But then it goes on to remind us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). This crucial verse is where God’s understanding of love and the world’s understanding of love diverge. God’s love forbids the celebration of things God does not celebrate. The world’s understanding of love requires it.

This means that a Christian’s unwillingness to celebrate Pride month will be seen by the world as an act of hate and by God as an act of love. Christians must choose whose definition of love they will accept.

3. No one is beyond the love or reach of Jesus.

While Christians are right to separate themselves from celebrations of sin, we should be equally careful to avoid a different but equally bad kind of pride — self-righteousness. If Christians have any goodness within ourselves, we do not deserve the credit. After all, “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Rather than a sense of self-righteousness, Jesus modeled how our hearts should respond to people who are lost:

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38).

When we see crowds who are lost, we should be moved to compassion, not self-righteousness.

4. Don’t be afraid.

This month, some will encounter a city street lined with rainbow flags or unwittingly expose their child to sexual revolutionary propaganda on “Blues Clues” and be prone to despair. Don’t despair.

Fear is never from God. (2 Timothy 1:7). Whatever situation you are dealing with, God is not surprised by it, nor is it beyond His control. However, He knows we are prone to worry, which is why Peter encourages us to cast all our anxieties on him (1 Peter 5:7). The same God who formed the mountains and put the planets into orbit is aware of the situation and handling it.

The good news is that our moments of weakness are the moments God does His best work in us. While the culture takes pride in their independence from God, we should boast in our dependence:

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Maybe we should start our own pride parade; it would be kind of the same but also very different.

5. Being a Christian is supposed to feel weird.

One of the challenges of Pride month is that Christians often feel different. Most of us would prefer not to feel different. We want to blend in and be noticed only for how nice we are to people. But when someone at work is going from office to office asking people if they want a rainbow sticker for their window, the only way to blend in is to conform. So now you feel different.

But that’s how it’s supposed to feel. This is not our home. “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). We aren’t supposed to do or love the same things as the world around us. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If being a Christian makes you feel different than other people, good. You are different. The real problem would be if you never felt different.

6. Don’t give an inch.

It’s possible to avoid feeling different, just do what everyone else is doing. Just provide your preferred pronouns or tolerate a rainbow flag in your office window. Other times, all you must do is keep your mouth shut. But don’t do it. The path of compromise only seems easy, but it’s not. After all, “The fear of man is a snare. But whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

It’s easy to rationalize seemingly small compromises. All Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego needed to do to avoid being thrown into a furnace was bow (Daniel 3). Surely, God would understand that they weren’t actually worshipping the idol. Right? They could have easily told themselves they needed to stay alive and maintain a good relationship with the king who had shown them so much trust. After all, God couldn’t use them if they were dead. But remember, it’s not you who is going to do the work, it’s God. God did change the heart of the King, but he did not use their influence, he used their obedience. Give Him your obedience.

7. Remember what you’re saying “YES” to.

During Pride month, Christians are required to say no to some things. We can’t participate in sin (Ephesians 5:11) nor can we celebrate evil (1 Corinthians 13:6). So you may be accused of being “anti” everything. These are moments it’s helpful to remember that anytime you say “no” to one thing its because you’re saying “yes” to something else. Something better.

When we say “no” to doing whatever you want sexually, it’s because we are saying “yes” to virtue, discipline, delayed gratification, and the satisfaction and intimacy that comes from forming relationships God’s way. When we say “no” to the idea that boys can become girls, we are saying “yes” to finding our created purpose. When we say “no” to surrogacy so that a child can be placed with two dads, it’s because we are saying “yes” to each child being known and loved by both their parents. When we say “no” to bad ideas, it’s because we’re saying “yes” to better ideas. Every time.

8. Pray for those who curse you.

One reason Christians shouldn’t be surprised when we are misunderstood or mistreated is because Jesus spent significant time telling us what to do when it happens. “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). Our responsibility is not to avoid every conflict, but to respond to it correctly when it happens.

That means we have to pray for those who treat us poorly. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27). Praying for those who treat us poorly helps us love people, even if they don’t love us back. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46) This is the goal of every day of every month. Pride month changes nothing, it just gives us more opportunities to love people the way Jesus does.

9. Pride comes before a fall.

It’s ironic that those who started “Pride” events used the term “pride” to describe them. They named their entire movement after one of the seven deadly sins; a sin that Proverbs assures us is the prelude to our destruction: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). It is almost as if God was looking to make it obvious what was actually happening here. Just as we would be wise to avoid celebrating “Wrath Month” or a “Lust Parade,” Christians should be wary of celebrating pride. After all, we know what happens next.

10. God will have the last word.

In Daniel chapter 5, Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, throws a party while an invading army is gathering around the city. He was so confident that the walls that had protected him his whole life would continue to protect him that he mocked an invading army by inviting his military to party rather than prepare for battle. Belshazzar was very confident, or at least he wanted to project confidence. Then God interrupted his party.

In a scene that gives us the phrase “the writing on the wall” the hand of God showed up and wrote a message on the wall. The interesting thing about the message is that Belshazzar was not able to read it, after all, he summoned Daniel to interpret it for him. Nevertheless, “the king’s face grew pale, and his thoughts alarmed him; and his hip joints went slack, and his knees began knocking together.” What we see here is what happens when fake power meets real power. The world is filled with people who have some form of cultural or political power, but when they are confronted with real power, their confidence disappears immediately.

Pride month is fake power celebrating its fake power, and it will survive only until God decides He has had enough. And that moment is coming. Our job is to make sure we’re doing what we can to remind people where the real power is and that opposing Him will never be a good decision — which is the opposite of pride.

AUTHOR

Joseph Backholm

Joseph Backholm is Senior Fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

With New Wave of Legislation, States Aim to Reintroduce Biblical Values to Schools

As concerns over rising crime and the mental health of minors continue to climb, a new wave of legislation aimed at reintroducing America’s youth to biblical values in school is surging.

In Texas, bills have been introduced that would require that the Ten Commandments be posted in public school classrooms and for schools to be free to hire or accept volunteer chaplains to perform services including mental health support, suicide prevention, and other services.

In Kentucky, a measure was advanced in the state House that would protect the “private religious expression” of teachers. Specific actions protected for school employees under the bill include engaging in religious discussion, sharing religious material with other employees, forming prayer groups with other employees, sponsoring a student religious club, wearing religious clothing or jewelry, and decorating their desks and personal spaces with religious items.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law a bill that allows schools to say a prayer over the public address system before athletic events.

In Louisiana, a bill that would offer public school students in grades 9-12 a voluntary course on the Bible is currently before the state legislature. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Valarie Hodges (R), joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Monday to discuss the legislation and the increasing openness of her fellow lawmakers to share their faith.

“[T]here were very few people who would openly profess their faith [in years past],” she noted. “Now I would say the majority of people in this legislature are not ashamed to say they’re Christians. They’re not ashamed to stand up for their faith. And it’s past time. It’s way past time that we do that. When prayer was removed out of schools and the Bible was removed, I think people are seeing the end result of that, that it’s not good.”

Hodges went on to emphasize why a course on the Bible is important for today’s public school students.

“The Bible is the most published book in the world, and it contains 6,000 years of history,” she explained. “My bill … authorizes teaching the Bible as literature and history. And what better book could we get our history from? It’s got the most history [of any book] in the world. … [O]ur laws that we have in the United States, our culture, art, so much is encapsulated in the Bible. … My bill [is a] first step [so] we can get the Bible into the hands of students to actually understand what [it] is about.”

Hodges further highlighted how a large swath of America’s youth have little knowledge of the Bible’s historical importance in America’s founding.

“Even our Declaration of Independence [in] the preamble is talking about a creator and acknowledges the creator. … I heard a statistic [that] 90% of teenagers have never read the Bible in this new generation that we have. And so they don’t have a reference point of, ‘What creator are we talking about?’ Our Founding Fathers were referencing the Bible.”

The Louisiana lawmaker additionally contended that a removal of biblical principles from public schools has led to an increase in societal lawlessness.

“When you look at the statistics on crime before the 1960s, it was nothing like it is now,” Hodges argued. “I think there’s a plausible explanation that can be found. … Where do we get our morality from? We get our morality from the Bible. … I was talking to a group last night. We were talking about the murder rates, the crime rates, homelessness, and all this that we’re seeing. Well, we used to teach that stealing is a sin. And we’re not right now. … [If you say] that things are ‘immoral’ — you get laughed at if you use that word anymore. But I think it’s becoming apparent that there is a crisis of morality in our nation. And we’ve got to restore that.”

Hodges expressed hope that her legislation will serve as a model in order to help clear up misconceptions about the idea of the separation of church and state.

“I really hope to see schools adopting this and teachers teaching this because there’s been a lot of confusion in the schools that I’ve [visited when] talking to teachers. … So that was one of the impetuses for me — filing the bill is to clear up any confusion. The Supreme Court ruled that schools can teach the Bible in public schools and private schools. I’m hoping this bill … will clear up any confusion and encourage schools to adopt this course and teachers to teach it.”

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Less Religion, More Evangelism!

new study indicates that Americans are becoming less religious. Without getting into the causes of this phenomenon or critiquing the study itself, let’s simply accept that we are living in an era in which Christianity is an increasingly less robust force in the lives of millions of our fellow countrymen.

So, now what? Evangelicals would be gravely mistaken to wring their hands and mourn for the good old days. Secularism is upon us, and with it, not only apathy toward Christianity but, among some, overt hostility to it. How are we going to respond?

At least some of the answers are as old as the Book of Acts. The Roman world was, in some important ways, quite like ours. Power, pleasure, and plenty were as much or more the gods of that ancient age as the statues representing Greco-Roman deities. Sexual profligacy was an accepted norm. Entertainment, often horrifyingly violent, was culturally pervasive. The elites saw themselves as the chosen few to whom the common people owed servility.

It was into this culture that the good news of God becoming man in the person of a Jewish laborer from a small province along the eastern Mediterranean coast transformed first a handful of His followers and then took root throughout the Empire like seed on fertile soil. The New Testament mentions 33 distinct churches, which no doubt is an incomplete list.

What did the early Christians do that enabled them to advance the truth of a crucified and risen Savior so persuasively? What follows is not a comprehensive list, but points to some truths worth considering.

First, they talked about it. The whole body of New Testament literature speaks to the fact that the early believers told others about Jesus. This was not always easy; Paul’s statement, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16) indicates that evangelism had its challenges. But nonetheless, by the end of the first century, the gospel went forward not only in the Roman Empire but as far south as what is now Ethiopia and as far east as India.

We should be like those first Christ-followers. Gracious but purposeful conversations about Who Christ is and what He has done should be our stock-in-trade. There is so much material on evangelism available freely on the web, in bookstores and churches, in Bible studies and fellowship groups, that all who understand the necessity of sharing their faith can learn to do this well. And: while practice may not mean perfect, it can sure bolster one’s confidence and hone his or her presentation.

Second, the early Christians recognized that while they were in the culture of their time, they were not of it. For generations, being a Christian in America has not been unpleasant. While some derision comes with even tepid faith in Jesus, Evangelicals could exist within the mainstream of our society with only the occasional ripple of discomfort.

No longer. The refusal of the early Christians to offer a sacrifice to the Emperor resulted in the allegiance to Jesus being a capital crime. We’re not there yet, but when even someone as temperate as the late Tim Keller is denied recognition by Princeton Seminary — once the bastion of Reformed faith in America — because of his orthodox stance on human sexuality, we know times have changed.

American Evangelicals need to come to grips with the fact that the gospel is offensive (Galatians 5:11). We tell people they are sinners, that they face eternal judgment unless they repent and believe in Christ alone, and that practices God’s Word says are evil cannot be rationalized as acceptable. So, between the inherent offense of the cross and the antagonism of our culture, we have to decide that this world is not our home.

Third, it is absolutely imperative that our churches teach our youth (a) the essentials of Christian faith, (b) why these essentials are vital, and (c) that following them faithfully leads to a flourishing life.

Sound doctrine is the heart of Christianity. It’s not a matter of the rote memorization of some arcane Bible facts, but the internalization of living truth that alters our perspectives, priorities, and understanding of all that is right and good. For example, when we talk about Jesus’ death on the cross and use terms like “atonement” and “propitiation,” we’re not employing theological terms to impress and humiliate. Understood correctly, words like these brighten our minds and deepen our hearts and souls because they help us know God better.

Anyone can learn basic theology, not to foster intellectual pride but to represent God and His Word well. A good study Bible is a great place to start.

A less religious America is a field ripe for spiritual harvest. Let’s get to work.

AUTHOR

Rob Schwarzwalder

Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University’s Honors College.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

The Body Reveals the Person: Moving Beyond Sexual Identity Obsession

American culture has become obsessed with sexual identity confusion. This obsession has affected almost every aspect of public life, from sports (in a multitude of ways) to retail companies to beer. It has become such an obsession that a massive swath of corporate America will soon transform their branding into the symbol of this obsession for an entire month.

Most importantly, this obsession has diminished our souls and the very essence of what it means to be human. We are currently about a decade into this culture-wide phenomenon. Lest we settle into seeing this situation as the new normal, it’s important to keep front and center how tragic this sexual identity obsession truly is — it presents a grave misunderstanding of the body and a diminishment of life’s highest goods. We desperately need a way forward out of obsession and into true freedom.

A single verse in the first chapter of the first book of the Bible reveals the essence of human life: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

From this verse comes a limitless well of truth from which to draw. A groundbreaking understanding of this truth began to develop in 1979, when Pope John Paul II began delivering a series of 129 individual addresses that would later collectively become known as the “Theology of the Body.” The central idea of this theology can be summed up here: “The body, in fact, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and the divine.” In other words, the body reveals not only the physical person but also the image of the invisible God, as stated in Genesis.

John Paul further declared that “[the body] was created to transfer in the visible reality of the world the invisible mystery hidden since time immemorial in God, and thus be a sign of it.” In other words, the maleness and femaleness of the human person are indissoluble aspects of God that He chose to reveal through the created body.

Indeed, our maleness and femaleness go to the very core of who we are — every cell of our bodies possess either a male or female pair of chromosomes. But the goodness of our bodies goes far beyond merely the physical aspect, as beautiful as that is. We have been created out of an outpouring of generous love of the Trinity and have been adopted through Christ (Romans 8:14-17) as sons and daughters. Our bodies ultimately reveal that we are male sons and female daughters of a loving Father.

All that God has created is infused — filled to the brim — with meaning. This is why we can marvel at the intricacy of a flower, or the truth held in a beautiful painting, or the incomparable goodness of a delicious meal. So too are our bodies filled with immeasurable meaning.

Therefore, when we “identify” as a sex other than what we are, or as “non-binary,” or as some other sexual identity, we are selling ourselves far short of our maleness or femaleness. Our chosen “identity” becomes vacant and stripped of meaning, and we render ourselves androgynous. Rather, it is in and through our male and female bodies that we experience the world around us, and most importantly, our relationship with God our Father.

It is in this way that our bodies and all of visible creation point to the invisible reality of God. When we fully realize the boundless potential of our embodied male and female souls, we will be set free of confusion about our sexual identity, knowing that we have been loved into existence just as we are — in the image of God.

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Most Churchgoers Are Optimistic, Take Pride in Their Church: Poll

Although U.S. church attendance has fallen to historic lows, the faithful still congregating have found a new source of optimism and pride in America’s sanctuaries, a new poll finds.

Though fewer Americans darken a church door or believe in God, nearly all those who do say they believe their faith has a bright future and have few qualms identifying with their church in the public square. The left-leaning Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) interviewed 5,872 people last April through August, asking them about their religious views and participation. The results, published May 16 in a study titled “Religion and Congregations in a Time of Social and Political Upheaval,” reported a mix of results that nearly all came out positive for those who stay in church.

Although 82% of church-goers say they are optimistic about the future of their church, evangelicals and members of numerically small groups such as Eastern Orthodox Christians are most likely to say they are “very optimistic” that the Christian faith will see brighter days.

“On one hand, it makes sense that those who attend church have more confidence in the future of the church. They continue to attend, because they’re happy about it. But that’s probably not all that’s going on here,” Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. “It’s much easier to criticize people you have a safe distance from,” and “the bad news often gets the headlines,” Backholm told TWS — a problem that can only be solved by “consistent engagement with the church.”

“The closer you are, the more likely it is that you’ll see the lives being changed by the gospel,” he said.

Those who regularly attend worship services also seem to exude generosity. Many believe their church is in good financial shape, although the report found that “Republican churchgoers (38%) are notably more likely than Democratic (33%) and independent (33%) churchgoers to say their church is better off financially than other churches.”

For regular congregants, their faith becomes a cherished part of their personality, giving them a sense of belonging and well-being. Nearly all church attendees (89%) told PRRI they are proud to be associated with their church. Again, evangelicals and members of smaller Christian denominations proved most likely to say they feel pride “completely” and have no reservations about publicly claiming their church affiliation. They are also more likely to be content with their current church leadership when compared with Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants.

The sense of identity and belonging is but one benefit of church attendance, polls have found. Americans who believe in God and highly value marriage are more likely to be “very happy” than agnostics, atheists, or isolated individuals, according to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll taken in March. Only 12% of Americans say they are “very happy,” but 68% of the most joyful citizens say they believe in God.

But church attendance has become an increasingly endangered activity in progressively secular America, PRRI and numerous other studies have confirmed.

About half of all Americans firmly believe in God, according to NORC’s 2022 General Social Survey, which was released on May 17. As a result, many parents raise their children without “saying night[ly] prayers, morning prayers, taking their kids to church,” Thomas Groome, a professor in Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, told The Hill.

The new report confirmed the ongoing trend of religious disaffiliation. PRRI found that white Christians made up 42% of the U.S. population in 2022, down from 72% in 1990. Christians from other ethnicities make up 25% of the U.S. population. One in four Americans now belongs to the religiously unaffiliated, or “Nones,” while 6% of the population adheres to a non-Christian religion.

Confusingly, one in five Americans (19%) professes to be “a follower of the teachings or practices of more than one religion,” adopting syncretism as a guiding philosophy. Non-Christians, Hispanic Catholics, and white mainline Protestants were most likely to fall into that category.

The decreasing number of believers creates a decline in the importance of religion in American society. One in every six Americans (16%) say their religion is “the most important thing in their lives.” White evangelicals are the most likely to put faith first (42%), followed by black Protestants (38%), and other Christians (37%).

The poll also found a major reversal in church, synagogue, or mosque attendance happened during the post-COVID era: In 2019, a majority of Americans attended services at least once a few times a year. But by 2022 most Americans (57%) said they attend religious services “seldom” or “never,” up from 45% just four years ago.

Empty pews are feeding the nation’s “epidemic of loneliness and isolation,” said Biden administration Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in a government advisory released earlier this month. Persistent loneliness, Murthy wrote, had the same impact on physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day — but attending the church of your choice each Sunday morning may help improve people’s well-being.

“Religious or faith-based groups can be a source for regular social contact, serve as a community of support, provide meaning and purpose, create a sense of belonging around shared values and beliefs, and are associated with reduced risk-taking behaviors,” Murthy said. “As a consequence of” the “decline in participation” by Americans in church worship services, “individuals’ health may be undermined.”

While belief and church attendance are down, PRRI still detects vibrancy and activity below the surface. The number of people who converted to their current faith or denominational membership increased by five points in one year, up to 24% in 2022. Non-Christians and evangelicals were least likely to convert away from their own faith background.

They may be rejoicing in their newfound faith — or experiencing a host of well-attested benefits, especially for the most isolated, such as elderly women.

Eliezer Schnall, an assistant professor at Yeshiva University, interviewed 92,539 post-menopausal women and found those who attend church were 56% more likely to have an optimistic life outlook and were 27% less likely to be depressed than those who do not.

The women, many of whom were elderly or alone, reported experiencing multiple kinds of help from their church membership: “emotional support and informational support,” by speaking with a pastor, priest, or rabbi about challenging life issues; “tangible support,” such as finding someone to help them attend to household chores; and “affectionate support” and “positive interaction” with other people.

The 2012 study, published in the Journal of Religion and Public Health, also examined the idea of “social strain”: the notion that people who attend church services receive benefits only with deeper costs.

Schnall asked the women, all of whom were over age 50, whether people important to them “get on your nerves,” “ask too much of you,” or “try to get you to do things that you do not want to do.”

“We did not find that those who attend religious services where characterized by additional social strain,” Schnall told CNN.

Christians do not gather to experience health, wealth, and happiness, Backholm emphasized: They come based on God’s commandments to render thanks, praise, and worship to Jesus Christ. “Our engagement with the local church is first an act of obedience, but the benefit of obedience is that it makes our life better,” Backholm told TWS. “We’ll be happy when we’re connected in community to other people and serving others, and we’ll make others happier, as well.”

“As always, we end up being the greatest beneficiaries of our obedience.”

AUTHOR

Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Less Religion, More Evangelism!

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Hey Creativity, My Name’s AI: Is Artificial Intelligence Coming for Artistic Expression?

“A year or two back if you’d asked me whether graphic design was a safe job, I’d have said, yes, it was [a] pretty safe job — anything in the creative industries is a pretty safe job from racing against the machines. But now, actually, I would be somewhat worried if I was a graphic designer.”

That’s Toby Walsh, a professor of AI at the University of New South Wales. Like Walsh, many creatives are wondering how artificial intelligence and artistic expression will converge, given the explosion of AI art generators like Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and Dall-E. Will intelligent technology mark the end of the creative industry, or will this become a whole new ground of exploration?

According to Rob Salkowitz, the time of the artist is running out.

Salkowitz, a senior contributor for Forbes, predicts that special effects, animation design, and even illustration and graphic design will soon be generated by AI. In his article on AI and art jobs, Salkowitz writes that these art tools are posing concerns for the industry and could easily become a “dagger to the throats of hundreds of thousands of commercial artists.” Similarly, artist Sebastian Errazuriz took to Instagram with this message, “Which artists will be the first to be replaced by artificial intelligence? Unfortunately, if you’re an illustrator — that’s you. … It takes a human about five hours to make a decent illustration to be published; it takes the computer five seconds.”

And AI pictures aren’t shabby, either. San Francisco-based illustrator Karla Ortiz points out that while there is work to be done in AI art, the results are adequate. Companies focused on quantity over quality, or with little room for a graphics budget, will turn to these inexpensive alternatives, cutting demand for entry-level designers. “Because the end result is ‘good enough,’” Ortiz says, “I think we could see a lot of loss of entry level and less visible jobs. This would affect not just illustrators, but photographers, graphic designers, models, or pretty much any job that requires visuals. That could all potentially be outsourced to AI.”

While AI is setting off alarms in the creative world, others are embracing the change. Jess Campitiello, a Digital Communications Specialist at Cornell Tech, argues that generative AI can help creatives by saving time during the conceptual stage. Artists can share AI thumbnails with clients instead of taking time to sketch ideas. Others see AI art tools as a way to artistically empower the average person. Still others, like Refik Anadol, view artificial intelligence as a way to experiment with new forms of art.

Anadol describes himself as a pioneer in the aesthetics of machine intelligence. He believes AI and technology can be assets to art, not competitors. “Quantum Memories,” one of Anadol’s convergent pieces of art and tech, combined over 200 million nature-related images and processed them through quantum computing and algorithms. The result: a giant LED screen of constantly fluid abstractions, an interactive experience based on audience movement and positions in real-time. For Andol, artificial intelligence opens new possibilities for all types of artistic techniques.

In history, the emergence of any new technology leads to the destruction of some jobs and the creation of others. The same holds true for artificial intelligence. While some anticipate the elimination of whole portions of the creative workforce, others are more optimistic. Regardless of how bleak the future is for the industry, AI can never replace creativity.

Why? AI is not intrinsically creative. The art generators depend on human sources both for the artistic direction and source material. True creativity is not the sum of inputs and outputs but a reflection of God’s character.

In the first verses of Genesis, God acts as the supreme Creator. He thoughtfully delineates the order of his creation, taking delight in the work of his hands. In the Scriptures, God is compared to a potter and designer or architect (Isaiah 64:8; Hebrews 11:10). The plans for the tabernacle, with precise instruction on material types, colors, and design elements further reveals God’s attention to detail. The Creator gifted some of his artistic ability to humanity (Exodus 36:2). Only humans can creatively turn thoughts, experiences, and emotions into formats that others can appreciate and enjoy.

Toby Walsh gives pertinent insight. “Art is more than just making images that are realistic. It’s about asking questions, and addressing aspects of the human condition, whether that’s about falling in love and losing loved ones and human mortality and all of the troubling questions that art helps us to think about. Machines aren’t going to speak to us in the same way that artists speak to us because they don’t share our humanity.”

Even if the convergence of AI means the end of the art industry, creativity won’t die. Creativity is a special gift from the Creator, one that AI can never harness.

AUTHOR

Hannah Tu

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Christian Nationalism?’ Texas Legislation Would Require Ten Commandments Be Posted in Schools

Critics are calling a Texas bill that would require the Ten Commandments to be posted in public school classrooms an example of “Christian nationalism.” But the bill’s sponsors say the legislation is needed to help remind students of America’s biblical foundations.

In April, S.B. 1515 passed the Texas Senate with a vote of 17-12; the bill is now headed to the state’s House of Representatives.

“[The bill] will remind students all across Texas of the importance of the fundamental foundation of America,” Texas State Senator Phil King (R), the bill’s sponsor, said during an April committee hearing.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) expressed further support of the legislation along with another bill requiring there be allotted time for students and employees to pray and read the Bible if they choose. “Allowing the Ten Commandments and prayer back into our public schools is one step we can take to make sure that all Texans have the right to freely express their sincerely held religious beliefs,” he said in a statement, adding that the bills “will enable our students to become better Texans.”

King went on to assert that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to uphold Coach Joe Kennedy’s right to pray on the field after high school football games in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District signaled that it would also uphold S.B. 1515 if it became law. This outcome remains uncertain in light of a previous Supreme Court ruling in Stone v. Graham (1980), which held that a Kentucky statute requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms was unconstitutional due to it violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Critics such as Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman say that the Texas legislation amounts to a “new frontier of Christian nationalism,” claiming that the so-called philosophy “rejects our legal and cultural tradition of religious pluralism.”

But as mass shootingssuicides, and mental health issues continue to mount in the U.S., observers fear that a lack of clearly defined principles to live by in the public square will only lead to further societal chaos.

“What we are seeing culturally is a predictable result of a secularizing culture,” Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm told The Washington Stand. “Government schools, claiming to be neutral, are teaching children to understand the world without consideration of the one who created the world. This predictably leads to growing depression and suicide because there is nowhere to turn when we lose control. It also leads to increasingly lawlessness, because there is no one to be accountable to.”

Still, Backholm, who serves as FRC’s senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement, expressed reservations about the legal ramifications of mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

“As a legal matter, if a state allows the Ten Commandments, they would be obligated to allow other religious displays and messages I might not want my kids exposed to,” he observed. The rise of “After School Satan Clubs” indeed has some experts worried about what kinds of beliefs could make their way into schools once a legal foothold is achieved.

“That’s why this situation also shows the necessity of universal school choice,” Backholm continued. “No parent should be forced by government to have their child indoctrinated in a worldview they do not share. By giving parents control over where their child is educated, parents have control over how their child is educated — and no one has to fight over the Ten Commandments in school. The only reason this is even controversial is because people are stuck in public schools, so people who have no shared values are fighting over space the government mandates we share. It’s a recipe for conflict, so we are seeing conflict.”

“So yes, we need reminders that we are accountable and we are not alone, but government should not be the source of our theology,” Backholm concluded.

AUTHOR

Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘They Will Try to Bully You’: Lawmakers Exit the Democratic Party

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘There’s a Remedy for Our Nation — and That Remedy Is Not Gun Control’: Congressman

Waves of grief continue to break over Texas, as the tight-knit Allen community comes to grip with the weekend’s senseless shooting. As the names and pictures of Saturday’s victims were released by police, hearts across the country shattered at the news that two families had lost multiple loved ones. A six-year-old boy, orphaned by the death of his parents and brother, is all that remains of the Cho family. Other moms and dads reeled at the horror of losing two elementary-aged daughters as the Mendozas did. After Nashville, Louisville, and so many other devastating tragedies this spring, people are desperate for answers. When will it end — and what can we possibly do to stop it?

Congressman Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), who had a front-row seat for the overwhelming sorrow that followed The Covenant School killings in March told “Washington Watch” guest host Jody Hice that he stepped off the House floor after those murders and said, “This country needs a revival.” As a result, he pointed out, “I was mocked by the national media and across the country — and maybe across the globe, I don’t know. But I still stand by that.”

As usual, Hice said, the Left is “trying to blame the instruments of death.” “So they’re going after the guns. But as Christians,” he pointed out, “we know that evil exists in our world. We know that there’s a remedy for our nation — and that remedy is not going to be found simply in gun control. We’ve got to go to the heart of the issue, which is the heart of mankind — mankind which has turned away from the Lord.”

While Democrats like Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez blame Republicans — “We’re living in a Texas nightmare, and it’s a nightmare that [the GOP] created” — the reality, Hice insists, is that guns have been around “for hundreds of years.” “It’s just now that we’re seeing a change, a surge in violence. So it’s not the guns.”

Burchett agreed. “Well, it’s an easy scapegoat,” he pointed out. “… And it’s an election year coming up, [and] they have a weak candidate [in Joe Biden]. So [gun control is] what they’re going to go for. … [I]t’s symbolism. It’s what sells. And … these murders are just horrible.” But, he went on, “We lose 100 people a day in automobile accidents every 39 minutes. We lose somebody to a drunk driver. Yet nobody’s wanting to take alcohol or cars away from people. And so, to me it’s pretty telling about what’s going on.”

When Americans look at what happened in Brownsville, Texas on Sunday, “a man with murder in his heart [used] his vehicle to attack others,” Hice said. “[But] there are no cries to do away with SUVs, right?”

That’s because, as Bishop Charles Flowers said later, “You cannot legislate righteousness. Policies don’t change the heart of a person,” he insisted on “Washington Watch.” “But policies do set the environment in which either evil or righteousness flourish. And with respect to the right to bear arms, that is the responsibility that you and I have been given — not by men, but by God — to protect that which belongs to us.”

It’s important to remember, Flowers said, “The gun itself has never shot anybody.” It’s in someone’s hands. “And the person who has their hands on that weapon is either more or less likely to use it based on what kind of environment … that is around them.”

“Every lost life, of course, is a sad situation in any case,” he emphasized. “But it’s not the possession of guns that do[es] it. I believe in responsible gun ownership. [But if] you put the guns in the hands of somebody that … [will] aid them in their already twisted behavior, you don’t do that. That doesn’t make good sense. But at the same time, [you also don’t] pull that right and responsibility from everybody else who would rightfully use the weapons.”

As Hice mentioned, this is a “heart” problem, and that heart is molded by several so many factors. “We have this outcry to get rid of guns. Why is there no outcry to restore the family, to restore morality? Why this misguided blame for an issue that they’re trying to address with a Band-Aid rather than get to the heart of it?”

Flowers said the answer, at least from the Democrats’ perspective, is simple. “Gun control is part of a larger agenda, and that agenda is to disarm the citizens so that another power can come in and massively control the citizenship. A broken family assists that agenda, so they can’t tout the strength of a strengthening family, because it is counterproductive to what the end goal is.”

But there is hope, he insists, and it starts with prayer and action. “Pray, he says in Second Chronicles: ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek his face and turn from their wicked ways …’ Turning is a prerequisite,” Flowers pointed out. “… ‘Then will I hear from heaven. I’ll forgive their sins, and I’ll heal their land.’ Secondly, don’t let passivity gulf you up like the vicious monster that it is. We have to begin to act — and act out our morals in the social environment.”

AUTHOR

Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Who Told You That You Were Naked? Verification and the Blue Check Vacation

If one didn’t know any better, one might think this was the day Don McClean sang about when he said it was the day the music died. Instead of saying “Bye, bye Miss American Pie,” we were all saying our farewells to the last vestige of a twenty-first century caste system: the venerable Twitter Blue Check.

Twitter head Elon Musk removed all legacy verification badges from user profiles, usually in the form of a blue check mark that signaled authenticity. Now anyone on the social media app (not just the notable and notorious) may have a blue check mark if they pay the $8 monthly fee to Twitter.

This move left many once-blue celebrities finding themselves naked and ashamed. Certified celebrity Alyssa Milano warned of the rampant impersonation that might ensue:

“So by revoking my blue check mark because I wouldn’t pay some arbitrary fee, someone can just be me and say a bunch of bul. l… Does that mean Twitter and

@elonmusk are liable for defamation or identity theft or fraud?”

Others, like “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander, had had enough already, and signaled the end of must-see-TV:

“Ok everyone. Twitter has removed my verification. I will no longer be posting on this app. Anyone who posts as me is an imposter. I wish you all well.”

Apparently, Twitter turned out to be the complete opposite of what Alexander expected it to be. Will the real B-list celebrity please stand up?

Bestselling author Stephen King, who has been critical of Musk’s plan to charge the $8 fee, was shocked to see that his blue check was still there:

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t.

My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t.”

Apparently, Musk has some penchant for charity and comped King’s account.

It’s true, I don’t fully understand this agony. I’ll never know the pain of losing my verification. On my own Twitter account, where I seldom tweet anything, I have never been counted among the vaunted verified aristocracy. Perhaps my snark at all this is due to envy. Regardless, the playing field in this particular social imaginary has been leveled. The social media bourgeoisie can still be bourgeoise if they pay the proletarian fee.

Whether the vacation of blue checks is right or wrong makes less difference than what this whole episode reveals about where our world is. It isn’t only Twitter celebrities that demand verification. It’s everywhere, stamped in our cultural clay. In recent years, especially here in the nation’s capital, it was vaccine passports and masks that served as verification that you weren’t a non-person. We still don’t leave the house without our driver’s license (even though we’ve still paid the fees and taken the tests even if the card is not on us). And have you ever tried to prove your identity to the DMV without bringing your electric bill that’s addressed to you? It’s enough to make us all doubt ourselves unless we have adequate documentation.

In Genesis 3, after the man and the woman had eaten the fruit and realized that they didn’t have any clothes on, they made garments from fig leaves — the couture of the day. Then when God came calling:

“…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Genesis 3:8–11, ESV)

Fig leaves make for poor clothing and serve even worse as a cover for our true natures. And perhaps celebrities and nobodies alike put a little too much trust in an icon of blue pixels to validate their standing. As exhibitionist as our world is today, most of us still don’t like being disrobed and left naked, and nakedness is at the heart of this pseudo controversy over a social media company’s labeling system. Too many have allowed artificial verification to be woven into their identities.

To verify something means to make certain that it’s true. Blue check or not, the last time I checked we were all created in the image of God. And that imago dei reflects the truth most brightly when it’s clothed not in a fig leaf, not in a blue check, but in the red blood of Jesus. Paul wrote to the Romans, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

As they roam around in search of newfound verification, our disaffected checkless celebrities would do well to find that freedom of being brought to nothing. We all would do so well — and that’s verifiable.

AUTHOR

Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Society-Wide Lack of Restraint a Cause of Mass Shootings: Mohler

Only two weeks after the Covenant School shooting in Nashville, another mass murderer killed six people and wounded nine at a shooting at Old National Bank in Louisville, Ky. The incident was “absolutely horrifying and frightening,” Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Theological Seminary in Louisville, said on “Washington Watch,” but that should make it a call to action for Christians.

Mohler, whose predecessor’s son-in-law died in the Louisville shooting, diagnosed the tragedy as a symptom of “restraint being lifted off” of American society; “you see it just about in every dimension of life.” “Washington Watch” guest host Jody Hice said that “it seems like almost daily something like this is taking place,” these “extreme acts of violence taking place across the country.”

“There’s only one explanation for this, and that is premeditated violence carried out with a murderous rampage. There is no other factor here,” said Mohler. He warned against the attempts of secular society to reduce a mass shooter’s moral culpability to either socioeconomic factors or mental infirmity; neither explanation, he argued, applied in this case. “Many people want to reduce all sin and wrongdoing, even criminal behavior to some kind of socioeconomic explanation,” he added. “That’s basically all a secular society has.”

But Mohler said the real root cause is the same affliction we all suffer from. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” said the Lord through Jeremiah (17:9). “If it turns out someone says this is ‘just this’ or ‘just that,’ I think we as Christians know that is not plausible,” Mohler summarized.

“As we’re watching more of these events take place all across the country,” Hice agreed, “we can’t blame it all on guns. We can’t blame it all on mental issues. There is a heart issue that must at some point be addressed.”

“When you look at … both the Old and the New Testaments, there’s plenty of evidence to the fact that one of God’s great gifts to humanity is restraint. And when those restraints are taken off of a society, horrible things happen,” Mohler continued. “When you look at the entire structure of biblical morality and biblical law, if you begin to unravel things over here, the unraveling is going to take place over [t]here as well.”

After recounting how a Sodom-esque crime unraveled into civil war, the book of Judges concludes, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). David’s last words poetically celebrate restraining authority, “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth” (2 Samuel 23:3-4). Paul wrote, “Rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain” (Romans 13:3-4).

For decades, Americans “have been unraveling the entire moral fiber, the moral structure of Western civilization … that’s based upon very clear biblical principles of morality,” Mohler went on. “Eventually, you end up with people who basically demonstrate what it looks like for a restraint to be gone, for inhibitions to be gone, and for people to follow example after example of horrifying behavior. … If God’s restraining grace is taken away from a society, the list of horrible things happening just continues.”

Mohler insisted the “break down of order and … restraint” is “not just in terms of giant crimes,” but it “gets all the way down to the way parents deal with children, the way that the schools deal with students. … Frankly, you look at America’s major cities, [and] you don’t see much restraint about anything.” Paul warned that “in the last days … people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Mohler said the digital revolution and especially social media was instrumental in creating the conditions for people to cast off restraint. “It used to be that people were told, ‘think before you say something. Take responsibility for your words. Don’t say anything you don’t want to live with the rest of your life,’” he said. But now, “it’s an unmitigated … just sheer express. It is just absolute, uncontrolled, rampag[ing] emotion.”

Hice agreed, “It’s so easy just to throw out emotions” on social media. “And that certainly is fuel to the fire of extremism and whatever other isms we want to talk about.”

Given the societal ills we face, “we do not have a toolkit of policies with which to respond to this,” explained Mohler. “We as Christians understand that there is no solution for the basic problem of the human heart that comes from within ourselves, or that can be arranged by society. … Policies and laws? They can suppress, to some extent, the full expression of human evil. But the problem is in the heart and the only solution for the problem in the heart is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, “what we have is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Mohler said. “The gospel of Jesus Christ is first and foremost about how sinners are saved from our sin through the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and the full justification of sins that comes to those who, by faith, come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.”

This means that “we have to return to first principles biblically,” Mohler argued. “We as Christians don’t have anywhere else to go anyway. The Christian church doesn’t have some kind of ‘policy exit’ from theology. … The New Testament gives us our agenda, that is, to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to build godly families, to build churches, and through that, to help bear witness to Christ.”

“But the larger society benefits by the presence of Christians and by the influence of Christianity,” Mohler added, because Christians “also have the sure biblical knowledge that the way you build a civilization is with healthy marriages based in a mother and a father and a husband and a wife who love each other and are devoted to each other; having children and raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; building a society, a civilization based upon consistency with God’s law and God’s command; and seeking human flourishing in such a way that we know can only come by obedience to the Word of God and can only come by God blessing and providing restraint and protection.”

“As we look at a more radically secularizing society, it’s not just a challenge to us evangelistically,” said Mohler.” It’s a challenge to us just with the breakdown we see in the order around us.” Proverbs states, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (29:18).

“The answer for Christians has to come back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and our eager witness to the fact that there is no rescue from sin but Jesus,” Mohler concluded. For this purpose, even the apostle Paul said his powers were insufficient apart from the power of God, “not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

In keeping with Paul’s recognition of his own weakness, Mohler urged Christians to pray. “Our priority,” he said, “has to be to pray that God’s grace and mercy will be evident, especially in a situation such as this, and that Christ’s people will be deployed as agents of grace … that Christian parents will teach their children, Christian pastors will teach their congregations, and all of us will together learn by the spirit and the word what it means to be faithful Christians in such a difficult age.”

“God put us here in this time by his sovereignty for a purpose,” said Mohler. “Let’s pray we’ll be faithful to that purpose.”

AUTHOR

Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: The GOP Should Look To New Solutions To Win Over Blue-State Voters Concerned About Crime And Mass Shootings

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©2023 Family Research Council


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Good Friday and The War for Our Souls

The name of this holiday is always jarring to me.

Good Friday, the day we observe the crucifixion of Jesus, first leaps upon our senses as everything bad. An illegal trial gone wrong; a miscarriage of justice; extreme acts of violence; an innocent man stricken, smitten, and afflicted. Not only that, but there’s also the loss of hope, the triumph and cruelty of the mob, and a people sent into hiding. It’s bad, it’s evil, and it’s everything nefarious rolled into one.

We only know Good Friday as good through the lens of Sunday’s resurrection. That’s why pausing too long on Good Friday is dangerous for our souls. God in his mercy moved the focal point of the fullness of time from Friday to Sunday. If we lag too long on Friday, we miss the movement of resurrection. If it all ends on Friday, our souls are stunted, and Friday is not good. The only hope for our souls lies on Sunday with Friday behind it.

Followers of Jesus remind ourselves of this movement year after year because by it our souls have been saved. And therefore we celebrate Christ’s death — a celebration of mourning that, with resurrection, turns into jubilation. The celebration is continuous because our memories are not. At minimum, we need this yearly reminder of what God has done for us in Christ. We needed it in the years following Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension, and we need it in 2023.

Especially in 2023.

There is, of course, nothing new under the sun. Anything novel today has been seen before in one fashion or another. But still, 2023 has its unique challenges for Christians. There is a certain type of war being waged for our souls, and here in America, to say it’s under a microscope would be an understatement. It’s under the floodlights, and it’s by no means subtle.

Back in the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden said in his nomination speech at the Democratic National Convention, “This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America.” Even the Trump campaign picked up on this language, producing a video mocking the rhetoric while asking people to give to their own campaign in order to “save America’s soul.” More recently, President Biden upped the ante on our nation’s soul during his infamous September 2022 speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Backdropped by ominous red lighting, a strangely imposing looking Biden railed:

“I ran for President because I believed we were in a battle for the soul of this nation. I still believe that to be true. I believe the soul is the breath, the life, and the essence of who we are. The soul is what makes us ‘us.’

The soul of America is defined by the sacred proposition that all are created equal in the image of God. That all are entitled to be treated with decency, dignity, and respect. That all deserve justice and a shot at lives of prosperity and consequence. And that democracy — democracy must be defended, for democracy makes all these things possible. Folks, and it’s up to us.”

The president made mention of “soul” eight times in that speech. And he’s continued to use the word gratuitously. In recent days declaring the Transgender Day of Visibility, he proclaimed, “Transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul.” Make no mistake, while he may have grown up in suburban Pennsylvania, Joe Biden is most definitely a soul man.

Whether or not it’s Biden himself or one of his aides who is behind this overtly theological doctrine of the soul, it’s certainly a teaching at odds with the Bible’s concept of the soul. For Biden, “democracy makes all these things possible.” Contrast that with Paul: “For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16, ESV).

For Biden, transgender Americans shape our nation’s soul. The Bible’s view of shaping comes from a radically different frame: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29, ESV).

We who follow Christ in America must live in Biden’s world, but we must not live as students of his doctrine. We live as expatriates, as citizens of a kingdom that is far away, but that is also already present but not yet fully realized.

On Good Friday, Jesus was crowned by his captors with a garland of thorns. But what was meant as mockery served as a coronation. King Jesus ascended not a throne there in Jerusalem, but a cross. Jesus’s substitutionary death for his people revealed that the battle for souls was far more than a battle for what makes us “us.” As the late John R.W. Stott, in his classic work “The Cross of Christ” observed, “What God in Christ has done through the cross is to rescue us, disclose himself and overcome evil.”

The good news of Good Friday is that this battle — this war — is ultimately one-sided. Victory for souls is won on the cross of Christ and only on the cross of Christ. And we as combatants in this battle must be captured by the cross to have any hope of Sunday’s resurrection. The alternative leaves us stranded on Friday, and that’s anything but good.

AUTHOR

Jared Bridges

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.


The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.