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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Temptation of Tim Tebow (A penalty flag has been thrown)

"I’m throwing a penalty flag," writes Esther Fleece in the Washington Post, "The infraction? Roughing the passer. As well as millions of people worldwide, some people of faith, all people of conviction, who live by the same values the passer lives by.

The injured party? New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. The guilty party?, a Web site whose sole contribution to the greater cultural good is helping married men and women arrange secret adulterous affairs. You may have heard how Ashley Madison has offered a bounty of $1 million to anyone who can offer proof of having had sex with Tebow, the famously and unapologetically Christian athlete who has publicly declared – because the media have been rude enough to ask him the question – that he is, at age 24 and single, a virgin.
“Sports and sex (and of course, infidelity) go hand in hand,” said founder and CEO Noel Biderman in a news release. “If Mr. Tebow is indeed abstaining from adult relationships, I would encourage him to find a nice lady or two and enjoy his youth and fame as much as possible.
“We are beyond the days where pre-marital sex has a social stigma, and it is my hope that soon we will also feel the same about infidelity.”
Let’s set aside for the purposes of this discussion the crassly transparent attempt by Biderman to make a buck, or at least generate a few headlines promoting his “business,” by taking advantage of Tebow’s name and fame. Let’s focus instead on the smarmy assumption at the root of his stunt – namely, that abstinence before marriage is an impossibility and/or a silly relic from the past...." (read the rest)

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

New York Times' Columnist Ross Douthat Talks About the State of American Christianity

Interesting interview:
"In his new book “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics,” Ross Douthat, an Op-Ed columnist for The Times, writes about how Christianity lost its central place in American life through a variety of factors, among them the religion’s failed attempts to accommodate secular trends; a strong identification of the church with strictly conservative politics; a lack of great religious-inspired art; and the appeal to a “God within” that tailors spirituality to the citizens of a self-help age. I recently spoke with Mr. Douthat about the book via e-mail. Below are excerpts of the conversation.
“Bad Religion”
Does the book presume that a widespread, mainstream Christianity is necessary to have a thriving United States?
It depends what you mean by “thriving.” I’m not arguing that if we don’t all repent our sins tomorrow, we’re going to be conquered by the Chinese or collapse into a Balkans-style civil war. I’m quite confident that America will remain rich, powerful and relatively stable even if the religious trends I’m describing continue apace. But I do think that institutional Christianity has offered something important to our nation — sometimes a moral critique of our excesses, sometimes a kind of invisible mortar for our common life — that today’s heresies are unlikely to provide.
What do you mean by the words “heretics” and “heresy” in the book?
I mean expressions of religious belief that are no longer traditionally Christian, but remain deeply influenced by Christianity — and fascinated, in particular, by the figure of Jesus of Nazareth — in ways that are hard to describe as post-Christian or non-Christian or secular. It’s a loaded word, obviously, but I think it’s the best way to describe the religious landscape in America today: Diverse, fragmented, polarized, and yet Christ-haunted all the same.
Evangelicals and Catholics united with each other “in the cause of culture war.” You argue that culture war is not the best use of Christianity, but is it the strongest glue left to it?
Sometimes it seems to be. In an era of weakened religious affiliation and intensified partisanship, the zeal that’s associated with political combat can supply believers with the feeling of cohesion and common purpose that the institutional churches aren’t always able to supply. The danger here is obvious: If American Christianity is just one expression of the identity politics of conservative America, then it isn’t really much of a Christianity at all. But at the same time, it isn’t enough to say that believers should just stay away from politics entirely. Like all Americans, Christians have an obligation be engaged citizens, and to bring their beliefs to bear on the great debates in our society. If they shirked that duty, you wouldn’t just lose Jerry Falwell or Al Sharpton – you’d lose Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Luther King.
You write about current religious popular art feeling “middlebrow, garish and naïve” or “ingenuous and tacky.” How might that change, and how important is it that it does?
One of the striking things about the post-1960s era is how unimportant sacred art and architecture have become in our culture. Obviously some of that reflects the secular biases of our artists and intellectuals. But some of it reflects the straightforward failures of believers to write the novels and make the films and build the cathedrals that would testify, more eloquently than any polemic, to the Christian view of God and man. The critic Alan Jacobs observed to me once that much of what remains of highbrow Christian culture in the West is sustained not by theologians or bishops or pastors, but by poets and novelists and memoirists — C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton and W.H. Auden and Flannery O’Connor and so on. He’s right, and we need more like them."
Read the rest of John William's interview with Ross Douthat here.
Here's my perspective and what Christians can do to better engage culture.
How do you think Christians are doing? What do you think needs to change?

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Objection: We shouldn’t allow bigotry and intolerance to be enshrined in public policy by depriving gay citizens the right to marry whom they love.

Alan Shlemon continues our series: "Are we really depriving homosexuals the right to marry the person they love? Yes. But there’s nothing unusual about that. Nobody has the right to marry any person they love. Everyone has restrictions.

When you take an honest look at the marriage law, it turns out that there is nothing unfair about it. Homosexuals have the same rights and the same restrictions as heterosexuals. For example, there is no legal right granted to a heterosexual that does not apply in exactly the same way to every homosexual. Both can marry in any state. Both can marry someone of the opposite sex. Both can receive the benefits that come with legal marriage. Heterosexuals and homosexuals are treated alike.

There is also no legal restriction for homosexuals that does not also apply in exactly the same way to every heterosexual. Neither one can marry their sibling. Both are prohibited from marrying someone already married. They can’t marry a child. And neither has the freedom to marry someone of the same sex.

The marriage law applies equally to every person, whether they are homosexual or not. Everyone is treated the same.

Homosexuals cry foul, of course, because the kind of person they are legally entitled to marry is not a person they love. They believe this is a restriction that is limited to them. But it’s not. There isn’t a person in the United States that has unfettered freedom to marry anyone just because they love them. There are numerous parings of people who love each other and can’t marry.

I have a male friend who I’ve known for over a decade. We have a long-term, committed relationship. We talk every week, we make sacrifices to visit one another, and we’re there to meet each other’s needs. We’re not sexually involved, but I routinely say I love him and he says the same to me. I can’t marry him even though he’s someone I love. I’m restricted. The state won’t recognize our relationship.

Brothers and sisters usually develop strong bonds. They love one another and often have deep, meaningful relationships that can last a lifetime. Their commitment to one another is significant. But they can’t marry one another. Though they love each, they state won’t recognize their relationship. The same is true of two brothers or two sisters.

Fathers and daughters also have long-term, committed relationships. There’s a special bond between them that develops and lasts for years. I can say that the love I feel towards my daughter has a unique texture to it. It’s taught me an aspect of love that, until I had a daughter, I never experienced. There are things that I’ve done and would do for her that virtually no one else on the planet can make me do. And like many fathers and daughters, our special relationship could last half a century or more. But guess what? The state doesn’t care about us as a couple. It doesn’t matter how much we love each other. We can’t get married.

There are dozens of more examples of pairs of people who develop strong, meaningful, and long-term relationships. These people love each other, but that doesn’t mean the state is required to recognize them within the definition of marriage.

Sometimes people point out that in these examples there is no sexual activity and that’s why it’s not the same as a homosexual pair. But why does that matter? Why do we have to use our sex organs with one another to qualify for marriage? Isn’t it enough that we love each other and are committed? Making sexual activity a requirement for marriage is arbitrary.

So what do all these relationships (and many others) have in common? None of them produce the next generation. Committed male friends, siblings, and parent-child relationships don’t have kids.
There is one kind of couple that, throughout all of human history, is known to produce children: heterosexuals. Long-term, monogamous, heterosexual unions as a group and by nature produce the next generation. They create families that become the building blocks of civilization. These families are the most stable and advantageous environment for raising children. They not only stabilize society, they make society possible. That role can’t be underestimated.

Notice that I said, “As a group and by nature.” As a group, heterosexual couples have kids. There may be exceptions, but the group’s tendency is to produce children. Laws are designed to generalize for the group. “By nature” is a reference to the fact that heterosexual unions produce children by the natural function of their sexual activity. Unlike male friends, siblings, and other relationship couples, it is biologically natural for heterosexuals to produce children.

The government, that normally has a hands-off policy to most relationships, gets involved in sanctioning these long-term, heterosexual unions. It creates a group of privileges and protections for these male-female couplings because it recognizes their role in creating and stabilizing society.

But the government doesn’t get involved in any other relationship pair. It doesn’t legally sanction two male friends, siblings, or father-daughter relationships. That’s because, though there are exceptions, they don’t as a group and by nature produce the next generation. They might love each other – deeply and for a long period of time – but that is irrelevant to the government. The state has a concern to perpetuate and protect our civilization and that explains its vested interested in heterosexual unions.

So why does the government not sanction the relationship of two homosexual males? For the same reason it doesn’t sanction the relationship of male friends, siblings, or a father and daughter. Homosexual couples don’t as a group and by nature produce the next generation. Although, theoretically, homosexuals can adopt, this is the exception. Most same-sex lovers don’t pursue parenting. Furthermore, children don’t naturally result from their sexual activity.

Instead, the state must intervene and grant them children. As Jennifer Roback Morse explains, “Same-sex couples cannot have children. Someone must give them a child or at least half the genetic material to create a child. The state must detach the parental rights of the opposite-sex parent and then attach those rights to the second parent of the same-sex couple. The state must create parentage for the same-sex couple. For the opposite-sex couple, the state merely recognizes parentage.”

A common objection is that marriage can’t be about children because not all married couples have kids. First, although that’s true, every child has a mother and father and a right to know them. These children have a vested interest in the union and stability of their parents. But that’s not something they can protect. Society needs to secure that right for kids so far as we are able.

Second, even if some marriages don’t produce children, it doesn’t nullify the natural tie of marriage to procreation. The purpose of marriage remains regardless of whether married couples actualize it or not. Books are meant to be read even if they collect dust on a bookshelf.

Third, marriages create the optimal environment for raising children. Same-sex marriage intentionally creates the condition where a child is denied their mother or father or both. This is not healthy, a claim that has been long noted by researchers.

The push for same-sex marriage is not primarily about the right to marry the person you love. No one has that right because everyone – including heterosexuals – is restricted. Nor is it to secure the right to adopt children. Homosexuals could be granted every legal right and privilege of marriage, but they would still demand the right to legal marriage.

That’s because this battle is not principally about rights, but about respect. Homosexuals demand public approval for their lifestyle and relationships. As Time magazine wrote, same-sex marriage advocates, “want nothing less than full social equality, total validation—not just the right to inherit a mother-in-law’s Cadillac. As Andrew Sullivan, the (also persistently single) intellectual force behind gay marriage, has written, ‘Including homosexuals within marriage would be a means of conferring the highest form of social approval imaginable.’”[i]

Make no mistake about it. Redefining marriage will impact our culture. It won’t be today, next week, or next year. It will be in the long-term because ideas have consequences. When you sever the natural tie of marriage to procreation and no longer require that children be attached to their parents, you’re doing violence to a vital institution. Marriages start families and families produce the next generation. This is how we secure and stabilize society. That’s why you can’t take a sledgehammer to the core of civilization – the family – and expect that no harm will come."

[i] “Will Gay Marriage be Legal?” Time, 2/21/00.

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remembering the Life of Charles "Chuck" Colson

Like thousands of people all over the world, I listened to Chuck Colson's Break Point program as he engaged the issues of our day from a Christian perspective. I learned from what he said and equally important--how he said it. Chuck Colson was a hero of mine and I am sad that I will never again hear his distinctive voice lovingly contending for truth coming through my radio. I'll never forget receiving his endorsement for my book Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture last fall. I was humbled that he would take the time and deeply challenged to faithfully live up to the words he wrote: "As someone who has devoted many years of ministry to teaching Christian worldview. I am thrilled to see dynamic and faithful worldview leaders like Jonathan Morrow stepping to the fore. Think Christianly, in a compelling and accessible way, equips Christians young and old to engage the culture winsomely, intelligently, and with confidence.” Chuck Colson fought the good fight, he ran his race and has finished well. Now it's my it's our turn. May God give me the grace to invest my life in the next generation for the glory of God and may my life make just a fraction of the impact for eternity that Chuck Colson's did during his 80 years on this earth.

“One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that I don’t ever get up in the morning and wonder if what I do matters. I live every day to the fullest because I can live it through Christ and I know no matter what I do today, I’m going to do something to advance the Kingdom of God.”— Charles Colson

More on the powerful life of Chuck Colson.

A moving interview in which Chuck Colson talks about the what the good life is really all about (30 min).

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Why Are Christians So Defensive?

There are several factors. But I think lack of knowledge is a big one. Nancy Pearcey explains how this works, “Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ears to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh and judgmental. Only people who understand that Christianity is true to the real world are capable of the relaxed confidence that allows them to be open, patient, and loving toward those who differ from them."

We need to raise up a new generation of Christians who know what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters in life (1 Peter 3:15; Col. 4:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:20). Christians need a holistic vision for life that is integrated and compelling. Here is one place to start.

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Isn’t it better for a child to be adopted by a gay couple than to not be adopted at all?

Alan Shlemon is back to our tough questions series on Homosexuality. This week's question: Isn’t it better for a child to be adopted by a gay couple than to not be adopted at all?
I often hear this question loaded with two scenarios:
  • Scenario A: The child lives in an institution, is routinely neglected, given poor nutrition, and often physically and sexually abused.
  • Scenario B: The child lives with two loving women who are lesbians, who have stable jobs, live in a house, and have lots of family in the area.
  • The question: Wouldn’t it be better for the child to be adopted by the lesbians and grow up under scenario B?
Well, sure, I guess when you construct the options that way, who will argue with you? I guess the child would be better off with the lesbians. So what’s that prove? Nothing.

I could construct two scenarios in a different way. What if the lesbians didn’t have a stable relationship, couldn’t keep steady jobs, experienced domestic violence in their home, and often used drugs. The other adoptive option was a married heterosexual couple (one a doctor and the other a teacher), who lived in the same home for 18 years, and who had already adopted a child.

Given those two options, wouldn’t it be better for the child to be adopted by the heterosexual couple? Sure, but what’s that prove? That you can construct any combination of scenarios designed to prove that a certain set of people would be better parents.

But you don’t determine public policy based on the exception or extreme case. For example, there might be some instances when it’s justified to run a red light – like rushing a dying person to the emergency room – but that doesn’t mean we should make running red lights legal. That’s bad public policy.

It reminds me of Zach Wahls, the 19 year-old University of Iowa student who made an impassioned appeal for same-sex marriage and parenting to the Iowa House of Representatives. His YouTube video went viral (more than 16 million views) after he argued that his lesbian mothers did a fine job of raising him. Maybe they did, but you can’t generalize one’s person’s experience for an entire group of people. Just because two homosexuals were able to raise a healthy, well-adjusted child (assuming they did), that doesn’t mean homosexual couples – as a group – make the best parents.

Many single fathers have to raise children by themselves. They do the best they can given their circumstances. I’m sure some of these children will declare themselves – like Zach Wahls – to be just fine. But does that mean we should promote single male adoption?

The real question is whether a child who needs to be adopted is best served by a heterosexual couple or a homosexual couple – all things being equal. The question focuses on the needs of the child, not the wants of homosexuals who are politically motivated to normalize same-sex marriage and parenting.

The answer is straightforward: decades of published research in psychology, social science, and medicine demonstrate that children do best when raised by a mother and father (especially the biological parents) in a long-term marriage.[i] That’s because a mother and a father each provide a unique and important contribution to their role as parents. Children who are raised – for example – in fatherless families suffer, on average, in every measure of well-being. They have higher levels of physical and mental illness, educational difficulties, poverty, substance abuse, criminal behavior, loneliness, and physical and sexual abuse.[ii]

Homosexual adoption, by design, will deny a child either a mother or father every time. By legalizing same-sex parenting, society declares by law that mothers and fathers are interchangeable. That means a mother offers no unique contribution to a child. A man could provide all the benefits of a woman.

Besides being counterintuitive, this deprives a son or daughter the distinctive benefits of being raised by both sexes.[iii] A compassionate and moral society comes to the aid of motherless or fatherless children. We don’t intentionally design families to deny children a mother or father. But that’s the result of same-sex parenting.

Lesbian parent Rosie O’Donnell confessed to Diane Sawyer in an ABC interview that her six-year-old adopted son, Parker, said, “I want to have a daddy.” Rosie answered him, “If you were to have a daddy, you wouldn’t have me as a mommy because I’m the kind of mommy who wants another mommy.”[iv] Notice the attention is shifted from the needs of children to the wants of couples. Although Parker asked for a father, his request was trumped by Rosie’s personal desire to be a lesbian parent.

Do Rosie and her lesbian lover know how to raise Parker to become a man? Do they know how to teach him how to treat a woman or his future wife? How will they be his role model?

Glenn Stanton and Bill Maier explore this idea and the suggestion that merely two loving adults are all that’s needed to raise kids: “The two most loving mothers in the world can’t be a father to a little boy. Love can’t equip mothers to teach a little boy how to be a man. Likewise, the two most loving men can’t be a mother to a child. Love does little to help a man teach a little girl how to be a woman. Can you imagine two men guiding a young girl through her first menstrual cycle or helping her through the awkwardness of picking out her first bra? Such a situation might make for a funny television sitcom but not a very good real-life situation for a young girl.”[v] And these are just a few of the absurdities that arise when you jettison the commonsense notion that men and women are both unique and valuable in their role as parents.

Same-sex parenting doesn’t make sense and that is why it must be forced on the people by the state. Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse explains: “Marriage between men and women is a pre-political, naturally emerging social institution. Men and women come together to create children, independently of any government...By contrast, same-sex ‘marriage’ is completely a creation of the state. Same-sex couples cannot have children. Someone must give them a child or at least half the genetic material to create a child. The state must detach the parental rights of the opposite-sex parent and then attach those rights to the second parent of the same-sex couple. The state must create parentage for the same-sex couple. For the opposite-sex couple, the state merely recognizes parentage.”[vi]

The price of homosexual adoption is too high. For it to work, the state must redefine marriage, create parentage laws for homosexual couples, and deny the unique role that mothers and fathers play. In the end, children lose and we lose. Children are harmed, which in the end affects everyone in our culture. For this reason, I believe even homosexuals should oppose homosexual adoption.

[i] This is supported by multiple studies including Mary Parke, “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children?” Center for Law and Social Policy, Policy Brief, May 2003, p. 1, and Kristin Anderson Moore et al., “Marriage From a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do about It?” Child Trends Research Brief, June 2002, p. 1.
[ii] Much of this research is referenced in David Popenoe, Life Without Father (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996).
[iii] See Yale Medical School’s Dr. Kyle Pruett, Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child (New York: Free Press, 2000), 17-34.
[iv] PrimeTime Thursday, March 14, 2002.
[v] Glenn T. Stanton and Bill Maier, Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-sex Marriage and Parenting (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 71.
Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are you preaching a trivial Gospel?

"Many people are rejecting our gospel today not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial. People are looking for an integrated worldview which makes sense of all their experience."-John Stott

Preaching the simple gospel isn't as simple as it used to be. To be sure the Holy Spirit is still actively convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11). But the plausibility structures of this generation have drifted farther away from theistic categories. So our job is to help them connect the dots. Help them connect the questions they are asking with the explanatory power of the Christian worldview. That's what everyday ambassadors do. Not only is there good evidence that Christianity is true,  it also best explains our experience of reality. In my new book Think Christianly, I try to paint a vision for what that looks like at our intersection.

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Are the differences between the Gospels necessarily contradictions?

New Testament scholar Darrell Bock responds to Bart Ehrman's claim in this short video:

For more helpful videos from the Ehrman Project, click here.

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Dr. John Lennox's Video On God, Science, and Genesis

Lennox discusses ways of interpreting scripture that don't compromise its authority. "I don't want to say anything less than what scripture says, but I don't want to say anything more," says Lennox. Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and Fellow of Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Lennox has lectured on science and religion and related themes around the world.
Here is his lecture and a Q & A on 7 Days That Divide the World

Listen to his interview at ID the Future

John Lennox's Website

Check out his new book. He presents some very important distinctions and observations about the Biblical text, authority, and science.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Living Hope

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”- 1 Pet. 1:3-6

He is Risen!

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Should Christians Embrace Theistic Evolution?

There's a lot of discussion right now about this question. Is theistic evolution a good 'middle way' for the scientific minded Christian? I offer some thoughts on where to begin answering this question in this short video:

Fore more on theistic evolution, see the helpful website Faith and Evolution.

I go into more detail on how this discussion plays out in the public square and how to equip the next generation here.

Dr. Stephen Meyer was recently on Stand to Reason talking about theistic evolution. You can access that here.

Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow

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