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Trip Lee, “It coulda been me”

Trip Lee has written a new song expressing how he feels about the recent tragedies in Ferguson and New York (listen above). In short, these events have left him thinking, “It could’ve been me.” No matter what your feelings are about the non-indictments in these particular cases, what Trip is talking about here is absolutely essential. For me at least, hearing such stories over the last two years from brothers like Trip, Voddie, Thabiti, and others has transformed my view of the African American experience. Don’t miss this.

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Toward breaking the impasse in our discussion of Ferguson

In the wake of the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, I’ve seen thoughtful commentators trying their best to do two things. On the one hand, they want to listen carefully to our African American neighbors who experience racial prejudice in their interface with law enforcement and with the criminal justice system. They want to give due regard to systemic racial inequality that still exists in our country. On the other hand, they also want to be fair in their evaluation of Michael Brown’s death and how his death relates to the overall racial disparity in our criminal justice system.

This has been a difficult balance to strike in the wake of events in Ferguson. Some have insisted that Michael Brown’s death is “Exhibit A” of the larger systemic issues in our country. Furthermore, they insist that failure to treat Brown’s death as an exemplar of those issues is a failure of racial sensitivity. And herein is the impasse: Not that people deny the existence of larger systemic issues, but that the shooting of Michael Brown must be viewed as an example of it. Emotions run high as all the pathos of our nation’s original sin come to the surface in these kinds of discussions. And that is why the discussion is so difficult. That is also why evangelicals have even found themselves divided on the matter.

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A few thoughts on Ferguson

I’m reluctant to say anything, so I will say very little. Here are my thoughts on the morning after.

1. We still have race issues in this country. As President Obama said last night, we’ve made progress, but we have by no means arrived. It is an enormous grief that African Americans feel so regularly alienated by police and by the criminal justice system more broadly. It is a great sadness that black fathers have to have sobering conversations with their sons about encountering the police without getting shot—a conversation I never had with my father. As a people, we are not yet what we should be. It does no one any good to deny that. Again, as the President said last night,

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The Pope affirms the “Complementarity” of Marriage

Six videos have been released in conjunction with the Vatican’s colloquium on complementarity—an event being held now in Rome. I have not yet seen all six, but I have viewed the first one (see above). It is really well done. In fact, I would say that this is a must-watch video. It bears an international, timeless perspective on the fundamental “complementarity” of marriage—that is, that marriage is fundamentally a heterosexual union. It includes testimonials from N. T. Wright, Peter Kreeft, and many others.

I think that this video is expressing what Pope Francis himself declared today in his opening remarks to the colloquium. In a translation provided by the Vatican News website, the Pope affirms that marriage is irreducibly heterosexual in its nature. You can read his remarks here.

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Federal Appeals Court upholds laws banning gay marriage

From Robert Barnes at The Washington Post:

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states Thursday afternoon, creating a split among the nation’s appeals courts that almost surely means the Supreme Court must take up the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The panel ruled 2 to 1 that while gay marriage is almost inevitable, in the words of U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, it should be settled through the democratic process and not the judiciary. The decision overturned rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, and makes it the first appeals court to uphold state bans since the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

I expect Barnes’s report to be updating here. Here’s is a link to the 6th Circuit’s decision.

This is big news. This is the kind of conflict among federal courts that the Supreme Court has to step in and resolve. If SCOTUS stays on their current trajectory, they could issue a decision that would make gay marriage legal in all 50 states. Stay tuned.

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What does the “Republican wave” mean for social conservatives?

I am not a political scientist nor the son of a political scientist. So feel free to take the following reflections with the appropriate grain of salt and not as the definitive analysis of last night’s election results. Having said that, I think it might be helpful to think about what the “Republican wave” means for social conservatives.

I am a social conservative, which for me means that I put a high value on public policies relating to the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and religious liberty. These aren’t the only things I care about, but they are on the top shelf for me. What does last night mean for public policy on those issues? What does it mean for the party that is typically associated with advancing those issues? Continue Reading →

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Do you have confidence in Christ that can handle Ebola?

My heart sank when I heard the news this morning about Thomas Eric Duncan. He was the first Ebola victim discovered in the United States, and he passed away earlier today. I don’t know much about Duncan at all, but I do know this. He travelled to the United States late last month after having contact with Ebola in Liberia. The disease overcame him after he arrived in Dallas, Texas. His condition became so desperate that his family members could no longer have video conferences with him. The sight of him was too unsettling for them. He died alone in an isolation ward this morning. Continue Reading →

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Gay marriage not to be constitutional right this term

The New York Times reports that the Supreme Court has denied cert in all five pending same-sex marriage cases. There are two immediate implications of this—an upside and a downside:

(1) Downside: Same-sex marriage will now go forward in five states—Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. This should increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24. By deciding not to review these cases, the Supreme Court has let stand bad rulings from lower courts that usurp authority from the people by striking down good laws. This is not good and will likely have far-reaching effects over time.

(2) Upside: Gay marriage will not become a constitutional right this term. Many of us were predicting that the Supreme Court would take up one of these cases. Given the court’s decision in Windsor, it is very clear how they would have ruled if the issue would have come before the court again. Observers expected gay marriage to become a constitutional right across the country this June. But that is not going to happen—at least not right now. The issue will continue to be fought in the lower courts and in the states.

This is big news, and the upside is definitely significant. Still, SCOTUS at best has only delayed the inevitable. Legal same-sex marriage in all 50 states—including a constitutional right to SSM—is a fait accompli at this point. It’s like watching water roll down the windshield. You can debate what track the water will take to get there, but it’s going to get there one way or the other.

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Should we celebrate killing to cover up an affair?

I’ve often been struck by the way Matthew’s genealogy highlights King David’s infamy: “to Jesse was born David the king. And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah” (Matthew 1:6). Bathsheba’s entire identity is swallowed up by David’s sin. Unlike the other three women in the list, her name is not even mentioned. She is called “the wife of Uriah”—as if Matthew wishes to invoke all the horror of David’s murderous cover-up that led to his marriage to Uriah’s wife. It is a sadness in the account, not a celebration. Continue Reading →

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