Archive | Culture

Another Abortion Outrage

Today’s Washington Post reports that there is a new prenatal testing procedure that will allow doctors to determine in the first trimester whether a baby has down syndrome. The outrage consists in how this knowledge is routinely used.

Screening women before the second trimester allows those who might opt to terminate a pregnancy to make that decision when doctors say an abortion is safer and less traumatic (source).

Aborting babies who have defects has become a routine occurrence in our society. Yet it is a practice that almost no one wants to talk about.

Ironically, the Washington Post ran one of the most compelling essays against this practice just a couple of weeks ago. In “The Abortion Debate No One Wants To Have,” former Washington Post reporter Patricia E. Bauer writes a stirring account of how her daughter Margaret has enriched her family’s life. Margaret has down syndrome. Bauer writes:

Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband’s eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law’s sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is — feisty and zesty and full of life — not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.

What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I’d like to think that it’s time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I’m not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here’s one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what’s driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby; it’s also about a woman’s right to choose which baby she wants to have (source).

I don’t think I have anything to add to Bauer’s remarks. She has said it all.

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Texas Passes Ban on Gay “Marriage”

The Associated Press reports that early election returns in Texas indicate that the amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman has passed. The good news is that the amendment also outlaws civil unions and any other arrangement that resembles marriage. Here’s how the new amendment reads:

(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.

(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage (source).

This amendment not only constitutionally prohibits Texas from “marrying” and conferring civil unions on homosexual couples, it also prohibits recognizing such “unions” even if they are granted in other states. That means that there won’t be any grounds for a challenge in court if a “married” homosexual couple moves in from out of state.

I am really happy about this result. It’s better for this issue to be decided by the people of Texas than by judges.

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Interview for ABC News Dallas

The interview aired last night on the 10 o’clock news (see previous post). I had been wondering how my comments would come across once they were edited to fit into the report. Having seen it, I have to say that it could have been worse. They have me reading the scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9) to the effect that the “unrighteous” will not inherit the kingdom of God. But they didn’t include the part about the Gospel being for all kinds of sinners. Nevertheless, it’s always a good thing to be able to read scripture, so I can’t complain.

If you want to watch the video, click here: Watch Video.

If you want to read the story, click here: Read Report.

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Interview for the Gospel

The reporter who conducted the interview was Gary Reaves (pictured right).

I got called on today to represent Criswell College in an interview with a local news program (Channel 8, ABC-Dallas) about the upcoming vote on whether to amend the Texas constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. I only had about an hour or so to prepare for the interview. So I began reading stories from several different newspapers and news sources and tried to brush up on the state of the political debate.

I read websites sponsored by interest groups for the amendment and others that are against the amendment. I was well-prepared to discuss reasons why an amendment to the constitution is needed and why existing state laws defining marriage are not likely to stand. I was also prepared to talk about one interest group’s recent attempt to distort what the amendment is really about, a group that has caused quite a stir here in Dallas (read about it here). Thus, my expectation was that the reporter would want me to talk about the amendment and the upcoming vote.

So I was very surprised when the reporter told me that what he really wanted to know was what the New Testament says about homosexual marriage. He had heard from others that while the Old Testament condemns homosexual marriage, the New Testament does not speak to it specifically. He just wanted me to explain what the Bible really says. So much for politics! That was fine with me. Politics is not my area of expertise anyway.

Obviously for a short interview, I needed to be selective. So I opened my bible to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” –NASB

I explained that Paul very explicitly addresses both halves of the homosexual relationship. The word translated “effeminate” refers to the passive actor in a homosexual encounter, while the word “homosexual” refers to the active partner. I don’t think Paul could have been any clearer that both comprise behavior that is antithetical to the Kingdom. Needless to say, this text was clear evidence that the New Testament in no way sanctions homosexuality, much less any kind of a homosexual “marriage.”

I also noted how Paul told the Corinthians, “and such were some of you”—meaning that some of the Corinthian Christians themselves had been homosexuals and that God had saved them and delivered them from their sin. Thus, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. There is no special class of sinners (including homosexuals) that are outside of the saving reach of the Gospel. Jesus came for such as these.

We did talk a little bit about the amendment, and I’m not sure what little snippet they’ll use in the interview. My preference is that if they have to choose, they would choose the gospel part, not the political part. After all, while I do support the amendment and think that it would be good for Texas, I don’t pretend that any amendment, legislation, or political remedy will make anyone fit for the Kingdom of God. The only one who does that is the crucified and risen King Jesus. That indeed is news worth broadcasting.

(Update: The report did not air on November 3. Someone in the Channel 8 news room just told me that it will air at 5pm on Sunday, November 6.)

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CNN Is ‘Dead Wrong’

I am watching in disbelief as “CNN Presents” narrates a misleading account of how the U.S. entered into the Iraq War. Basically, they are alleging that the President built a case for war based “substantially” on faulty intelligence.

President Bush’s case for pre-emptive war against Iraq was based substantially on evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. But a presidential commission described the pre-war intelligence as “dead wrong.” CNN Presents pieces together the chain of events that led to the faulty intelligence (source). Continue Reading →

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Waco pastor killed, electrocuted in baptism accident


By Greg Warner

University Baptist Church pastors, (left to right), Kyle Lake, senior pastor; Ben Dudley, community pastor, and David Crowder, music and arts pastor; lead worship. (Photo by Duane A. Laverty/Waco Tribune-Herald)

WACO, Texas (ABP) — Kyle Lake, pastor of the innovative University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, was killed by electrocution Oct. 30 while performing a baptism during a worship service.

Lake, whose age was not immediately known, had been pastor of the church for more than four years. The congregation, made up mostly of Baylor University students, is best known as the home church of worship leader and songwriter David Crowder.

Lake and a baptismal candidate reportedly were in the baptistry when the accident occurred, reportedly caused by a microphone. Lake was taken to a nearby hospital by paramedics. He was pronounced dead at 11:30 a.m., according to the church’s website. The baptismal candidate reportedly was not seriously injured.

Lake and his wife, Jen, have a daughter and twin sons. Lake is the author of two books, Understanding God’s Will and [Re]Understanding Prayer.

University Baptist was founded in 1995 by Crowder and Chris Seay, an author and now pastor in Houston. The Waco congregation, which attracts about 600 worshipers each week, is known not only for Crowder’s music but for its emphasis on the arts and multimedia worship.

A special service for prayer and counseling of UBC members was held at nearby First Baptist Church in Waco Sunday night, Oct. 30. Funeral details were not available.

Source: Associated Baptist Press

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A Postmortem on the Miers Nomination

A Triumph of Principle over Politics

In church life, it is an accepted axiom that “a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” In other words, a lack of spiritual substance in the pew is often a symptom of something that’s wrong in the pulpit. In the same way, conservative critics of Harriet Miers saw a nominee whose conservative bona fides could not be verified by her record. In the last several weeks, her misty record has looked more and more like a fog in the nominee.

Just this week Miers’s speeches from the 1990’s have revealed a nominee who sounds more like a libertarian than a conservative. Addressing the Executive Women of Dallas in 1993 she said, “The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s [sic] right to decide for herself whether she will have an abortion” (source). “Criminalizing abortions” is not the rhetoric of conservatism, and conservative opponents of Miers’s nomination have found this speech in particular to be “misty” to say the least.

This is not to say that conservatives have been clamoring all this time for a nominee who would be a rank political hack. As a matter of fact, the protest from the president’s base has not been that Harriet Miers lacks qualifications as a political or religious conservative. Indeed, the record has shown that she is both a loyal adviser to a very conservative President and an openly Evangelical Christian. But this was not the kind of conservatism that the base was looking for in a nominee.

What the president’s base has most desired in a nominee is not merely political or religious conservatism, but an open and identifiable commitment to judicial conservatism. That is, a thoroughgoing dedication to interpreting the United States Constitution according to the framers original intent. For this reason, Marvin Olasky’s reflections on this nomination are relevant: “I really want an originalist. If I could be assured that an atheist would be an originalist, that would be fine with me. If an evangelical nominee wanted to put in the Constitution what’s not there, I’d oppose him or her.”

In the absence of clear evidence of Miers’s commitment to originalism, to have allowed this nomination to go forward merely on the word of the President may have kept a political coalition together, but it would not have served the cause of conservative judicial reform. That is why the withdrawal of this nomination represents more than anything else the triumph of principle over politics.

The administration put the hard sell on the base (including evangelical Christians) to support this nomination. Their arguments, however, were not based on any clear record of Miers’s conservative judicial philosophy, but on the trust that conservatives should have in the President’s ability to make sound judicial appointments. In other words, the President asked his base to believe him and to stay loyal to him even though there really was nothing else for them to go on.

Christians who want to maintain a prophetic voice in the public square cannot make this kind of a faith commitment to any politician. This is not to say that President Bush is not trustworthy. As a matter of fact, I happen to think that he is. I am in the main a staunch supporter of President Bush in large part because of his proven commitment to appointing judicial conservatives to the federal bench. Nevertheless loyalty to principle must always trump loyalty to politicians. When the two come into conflict, the only way for Christians to remain salt and light is to let principle win out—no matter who the politician is.

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“The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have”

Patricia E. Bauer with her husband, Edward Muller, and their children, Margaret and Johnny Muller, in June at Margaret’s high school graduation in Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Christina Overland

Patricia E. Bauer, former Washington Post reporter and bureau chief, writes a stunningly pro-life Op-Ed today titled “The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have.” The article discusses whether it is right to abort a baby simply because pre-natal testing confirms that the baby has a disability. In Bauer’s case, the issue is intensely personal because she is raising a daughter named Margaret who has Down syndrome. She writes this about her daughter:

Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband’s eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law’s sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is — feisty and zesty and full of life — not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.

What I don’t understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I’d like to think that it’s time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I’m not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here’s one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what’s driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman’s right to choose whether to have a baby; it’s also about a woman’s right to choose which baby she wants to have.

This is a great Op-Ed. I hope you make time to read the whole thing.

1

Flu Pandemic: The Biggest Story in the News

As far as I’m concerned, the story about a possible flu pandemic is the biggest story in the news right now.

The Wall Street Journal has run an insightful Op-Ed on the topic today titled “Reasons to Be Fearful: We are ill-prepared for a flu pandemic” by Henry I. Miller. Last week, Charles Krauthammer wrote a chilling piece on the subject in the Washington Post titled “A Flu Hope, Or Horror?”

The common flu kills about 1% of those who contract it each year. The so-called “Bird Flu” kills 50%. If this particular flu virus mutates such that it can move from human to human with efficiency, then there could be a worldwide plague of epic proportions. One article that I read estimated that over a million people would die in the United States alone.

Some scientists are claiming that it is very likely to mutate so that it can transmit efficiently from human to human, but other scientists are less certain. Some scientists think that “Bird Flu” will be resistant to drugs like Tamiflu, others aren’t so sure.

One thing is for sure. We all need to be paying close attention to this story.

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