FRC Blog

Tony Perkins and Jerry Boykin at the United Nations

by FRC Media Office

April 20, 2015

On Friday, April 18, 2015 FRC President Tony Perkins and Executive Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin spoke at the United Nations about the global persecution of Christians. In the video below, their segment begins at the 1:40:45 mark:

The Persecution of Christians Globally: A Threat to International Peace and Security

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March for Marriage on Saturday, April 25th

by Leanna Baumer

April 20, 2015

With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of state marriage laws on Tuesday, April 28th, supporters of natural marriage plan to gather in Washington, D.C. on April 25th to rally and pray for the Court. Saturday’s “March for Marriage” will begin at noon in front of the U.S. Capitol and finish at the steps of the Supreme Court. Schedule, map, and speakers can all be viewed here.

2015 March for Marriage

For the past two years, state and federal courts have dealt with the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2013 United States v. Windsor decision, mostly choosing to ignore the limits of the holding and instead imposing judicial redefinitions of marriage on states where voters have previously chosen to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman. (FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg has written previously regarding Windsor’s narrow outcome). This spring, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to correct the course of lower courts and reaffirm its previous declarations that marriage policy “[b]y history and tradition” has been “treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”

Given the profound costs to the rule of law, federalism, and First Amendment freedoms that will result from a judicial redefinition of marriage imposed on all fifty states, the Supreme Court would be wise to leave to the democratic process a policy question nowhere answered in the U.S. Constitution. Indeed, when polled earlier this year by WPA Opinion Research, that’s precisely the outcome 61% of Americans said they wanted to see. Saturday’s March for Marriage will offer thousands of Americans the public opportunity to remind the country and the Court that marriage has profound public importance and deserves the careful definition and debate that can only occur in the democratic process.

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Hate, Love, Truth, and Homosexuality

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 16, 2015

Hate is sin.

Hate is disobedience to God. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15).

To rage against, physically or verbally abuse, belittle, or diminish the humanity of homosexuals is hateful.

To disagree is not hateful.

To stand for truth is not hateful.

To make arguments about human sexuality and marriage from sociological and demographic data is not hateful.

To object to the legal redefinition of marriage is not hateful.

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Yom Hashoah Holocaust Remembrance Day

by Robert Morrison

April 16, 2015

Stand by. The White House will shortly post a statement on www.whitehouse.gov by President Obama on Holocaust Remembrance Day. We feel confident they will do so. Or, perhaps, it will be posted on the State Department website at www.state.gov. Any minute now.

To underscore the importance of America’s relation to a free and democratic Israel, FRC President Tony Perkins will be leading a trip to the Holy Land this fall. You can find details here.

In the meantime, we might read this short but convincing statement from our good neighbor to the North.

April 16, 2015

Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day:

Yom HaShoah is a day to commemorate the six million innocent Jewish men, women and children who were systematically murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

On this day, Canadians across the country reflect on the unique horror of the Holocaust, pay tribute to the innocent victims, honour the brave survivors, and recognize the righteous individuals who risked their lives to save others, in many cases strangers to them.

The Holocaust was one of the darkest chapters in human history. It is essential that we never forget the lessons it taught us and that we continue to educate future generations about the damaging effects of anti-Semitism.

That is why our Government is committed to Holocaust remembrance and education both here in Canada and abroad. Here at home, we support organizations that combat anti-Semitism and racial hatred in all its forms and promote Holocaust remembrance and education, including through the building of a national Holocaust Monument in Ottawa.

In the international arena, our Government has taken a lead role in promoting Holocaust awareness and in the global fight against the persistent scourge of anti-Semitism, including the new anti-Semitism that masks direct attacks on the Jewish people by disproportionately singling out the State of Israel for censure. In 2011, Canada was the first country to sign the Ottawa Protocol on Combating Anti-Semitism, and, in 2013-2014, Canada chaired the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – an organization with which we continue to work closely as an active member country.

On this day, I encourage all Canadians to participate in a Holocaust remembrance ceremony to honour both the victims and the survivors, and to join in efforts to combat all forms of anti-Semitism. Let us all commit to ‘never again’.”

Our leader Barack Obama’s first telephone call as President in January 2009 was placed to PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas’ Ph.D. dissertation was written at Moscow State University in the days of the USSR. It denied the Holocaust.

It is therefore especially important that our Commander-in-Chief should acknowledge this day.

As we await the White House Statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day,

it might be valuable to watch this video. It shows how Israelis observe this day.

Along with millions of Americans, FRC welcomes efforts to bring peace through strength to the Middle East

And let us also remember today, especially, to pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

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His Truth is Marching On April 15, 1865

by Robert Morrison

April 16, 2015

My friend Jacob Rudolfsson from Sweden joined me this morning with roughly a thousand people outside Ford’s Theater in Washington.

We had come for an early morning tribute. Today is the 150th Anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination. Doctors who rushed to the Presidential Box that night in the theater knew the stricken leader could not survive a trip back to the White House, so they ordered him to be carried across the street. They placed him in the back room of the Petersen House. They had to position the 6’4” Lincoln diagonally on the bed for his final hours.

At 7:22 am on Saturday, April 15, 1865, he was pronounced dead. Today, the church bells of Washington tolled at that hour. It was after that long death vigil that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton uttered his most famous words:

Now he belongs to the ages.”

The Secretary of War had spent the night in the Petersen House. “Mars,” as Lincoln playfully called his sternly efficient military Supremo, had briskly taken command of the deathwatch. He gave orders all night. He had to. No one knew how far the plot extended.

The keepers of the death watch in the Petersen House soon learned that Sec. of State William H. Seward had also been attacked that bloody night. One of the co-conspirators, a muscular young giant of a man, had pushed past soldiers and family members to enter Seward’s sickroom.

The cagey Seward, an experienced New York politico, was recovering from a near-fatal carriage accident and was savagely hacked that night. Only the metal and leather brace on his neck saved him from death.

John Wilkes Booth was a major actor of his day. He had starred in many roles on stage and was known for his athleticism. He was to demonstrate his style when he shot the President and then leaped to the stage. But he did not plan on catching his spur on the bunting draped on the Presidential Box. Hitting the stage at an angle, he broke his ankle.

Still, he held up his bloody dagger and yelled: “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” Thus ever to Tyrants is Virginia’s state motto. When reports of Booth’s actions circulated, many people throughout the North naturally thought Booth might have been part of a Virginia-based conspiracy.

Booth had used his dagger to slash at Major Henry enrHenryRathbone. The army officer was the escort for Miss Clara Harris that evening. She was the daughter of a U.S. Senator.

Several other couples had declined the President’s invitation to join him and Mrs. Lincoln in the reserved box for that Friday performance of “Our American Cousin.” Had all of the invited ones accepted, there might have been no way for Booth to enter the crowded box.

Booth could have shot the President almost any day. Lincoln had seen his elder brother Edwin Booth perform various Shakespeare plays. Had John Wilkes Booth simply presented a calling card to the White House Head Usher, he might well have been admitted to the President’s office. He then could have shot Lincoln at his desk.

But John Wilkes Booth craved an audience for his evil deed. James Swanson was also one of the speakers at this morning’s event. He related the story of the assassination in his excellent book, Manhunt. Booth the actor hid out in the Maryland woods for days. Injured and in pain, hungry, hunted, Booth nonetheless demanded newspapers. He wanted to read his “reviews.” He was shocked to find himself condemned North and South.

Today, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell spoke appreciatively of the American people—all of the people—whom Lincoln served and loved. Crowded together on Tenth Street, we witnessed a military band. They were outfitted in Union blue uniforms of the Civil War.

They played song after song on period instruments. The tunes echoed the heritage of faith and freedom that Americans in 1865 unashamedly sang and shared. “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” “The Old Hundredth (Praise God from whom All Blessings Flow),” “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” and “America (My Country `Tis of Thee”). These great tunes alternated with lesser known songs of the era.

It was especially moving to see the window washers stop in their labors on the upper floors of the buildings that now overshadow Ford’s Theater and the Petersen House. They were watching the scene below with interest. Some of them might not have understood the English being spoken, but they knew they were a part of this history, too. After all, Lincoln’s dying hours were spent in the home of the Petersens, immigrants from Germany.

Perhaps the most powerful moment was when Jacob and I joined the assembly to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” It’s worth reading the lyrics to understand how our history cannot be understood without reference to the cause for which Abraham Lincoln and hundreds of thousands of others fought and died:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword,

His truth is marching on.

Jacob’s presence reminds me of the universal appeal of Lincoln’s ideals. Last week, attendees at the Lincoln Cottage heard a discussion of the new Don Doyle book, The Cause of All Nations. That work emphasizes the international implications of our American Civil War.

To conclude this morning’s Lincoln Observance, bagpipers in kilts skirled “Amazing Grace.” At least one New York regiment in the Civil War had been uniformed as Scots Highlanders. And what was “Amazing Grace” if not the ex-slaver John Newton’s expression of repentance for his regretted past and his joy at his redemption by Jesus Christ? Once blind, he now can see.

Without the freedom to speak and to pray, to sing and to witness, how could America have survived that terrible fiery trial? And without our flag of freedom, why should the world care about America?

If this column has been helpful, Family Research Council recommends ‘We Have Long Remembered,’ a 2013 at FRC lecture by Prof. Daniel Dreisbach on the enduring greatness of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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Marriage and Conscience Act critic reveals his own hypocrisy and desire to discriminate

by Travis Weber

April 14, 2015

In a recent opinion piece on Louisiana’s Marriage and Conscience Act (HB 707), state representative and speaker pro tempore Walter J. Leger III tries to dictate morals to his constituents, but only ends up exposing his hypocrisy and desire to discriminate. Against who? Against religious people he doesn’t agree with, such as Richland, Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman, who has happily served gay customers but doesn’t want to be forced to service a same-sex wedding, and the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana, who received death threats for simply holding traditional views on marriage. These people have never discriminated, but Rep. Leger doesn’t care. Why? Because he’s not interested in stopping discrimination. He’s interested in eliminating dissent and conforming all thoughts to his.

As if that wasn’t enough, Rep. Leger abuses American history and our founding documents, claiming what is “happening today in Louisiana with the proposed Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act is a perversion of the lawsthat have been established to reflect the beliefs of a moral and religious people.”

I’m not sure how that is. The Marriage and Conscience Act will protect the consciences of a minority group of citizens. This is the very purpose of the entire Bill of Rights. Besides, a “moral and religious people” would hold no belief but the belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Indeed, that’s why our country has never seen anyone even seriously suggest the idea that marriage could be between two people of the same sex for over its first two hundred years. If someone is not reflecting the views of a “moral and religious people,” it’s those who want to destroy the entire idea of marriage and family, and then violate the consciences of those who disagree by making them support the idea.

Rep. Leger pharisaically tries to decree the “correct” religious views to his constituents. Instead, he ends up insulting them and revealing what he’s really about.

Indeed, it is “moral and religious” people who now need protection. And it is these people who HB 707 would protect. All the bill would do is prohibit the government from taking “any adverse action against a person” due to that person’s “religious belief[s] or moral convictions[s] about the institution of marriage.” HB 707 would prevent the government from discriminating against people because they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and would prohibit the government from using its heavy hand to condition tax treatment, contracts, and other benefits on a person’s acceptance of the “acceptable” view in support of same-sex marriage.

HB 707 would also help protect those with religious objections to being forced by the government to play a part in same-sex marriage ceremonies under threat of fines and imprisonment.

This is too much for Rep. Leger, who has taken it upon himself to claim that “[m]oral and religious people do not discriminate.” As if that settles it. It doesn’t, and Rep. Leger glosses over the real issue and the bill’s protections as laid out above. The only one talking discrimination here is Rep. Leger, who’d want to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with him (and who would be protected by this bill). The Marriage and Conscience Act would protect people from such discrimination at the hands of an intrusive government. Rep. Leger would rather remove their protections, and potential expose them to fines and imprisonment because they simply want to act in accord with their consciences.

People sharing Rep. Leger’s agenda showed their true colors recently in Indiana, where they harassed the family that owns Memories Pizza with death threats for simply holding traditional views on marriage. This family was minding their own business, just trying to live quietly and in peace and make a living. But reporters came to them and asked them about their religious views and how they exercise their faith. Only when asked did family member and owner Crystal O’Connor explain, “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no … . We are a Christian establishment.” Yet at the same time they made clear their establishment would continue to serve any gay person who walked in.

As a result of expressing their views on this hypothetical situation, outrage against this family ensued on the internet. Their business was trashed on Yelp. A high school girls golf coach in Indiana tweeted “Who’s going to Walkerton, IN to burn down #memoriespizza w me?” Many failed to grasp that the owners stated they would serve anyone who walked in; they just wanted their religious views protected. Consequently, the O’Connors closed their pizzeria temporarily. “I don’t know if we will reopen, or if we can, if it’s safe to reopen,” Crystal O’Connor told reporters. Kevin O’Connor told the L.A. Times, “I’m just a little guy who had a little business.”

Thankfully, the family had some supporters, and their shop appears to be re-opening. But this incident exposes the danger we are in and highlights the need for laws like HB 707 to protect those like the O’Connors who increasingly are holding a minority view.

If we can’t even protect unpopular views in law, and instead people are allowed to mete out mob justice like this more reminiscent of scenes overseas than in the United States, we are in serious trouble. The gravity of this matter only further highlights the need for laws like HB 707.

It is people like Barronelle Stutzman, who need the protection of laws like HB 707. Barronelle has happily served gay customers. She just doesn’t want to be forced to service a same-sex wedding, which her faith teaches her is wrong. Nevertheless, Barronelle was recently fined for refusing to use her floral skills in support of a same-sex union. She just doesn’t want to be forced to violate her conscience. But without a law like HB 707, she is left at the mercy of the all-powerful state should it seek to coerce her to act against her beliefs.

What would Rep. Leger say to Barronelle? In his opinion piece, he claims, “[f]ederal and state laws already exist to protect religious liberty.” Actually, there are no “federal and state laws” which would protect people such as those protected by HB 707. Rep. Leger is flat wrong here.

The only support he offers is his hyperlink to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—which compounds the foolishness of his claim—for he is apparently ignorant of the fact that the federal RFRA does not protect against state-level action (which is the very reason states have been trying to pass their own RFRAs).

Alas, Rep. Leger also tries to be a theologian, claiming to be “appalled at the length to which some people will go to ignore the lessons of love and acceptance that Jesus lived and died for and twist them into an excuse to discriminate.” His exegetical errors aside, the point of civil laws is not to dictate individual moral behavior, but to protect individual rights and freedom (even for those we disagree with). He should be ashamed at misrepresenting God’s Word in this manner, and more ashamed at using it to suppress views he doesn’t like.

He then brings out this sledgehammer: “Would we have stores place “Heterosexuals Only” signs in their windows where “Whites Only” signs once hung?” Ah, yes…. Of course that would be horrible. But who can point to any law which would permit that? All HB 707 does is protect against government discrimination against people based on their beliefs on marriage.

Rep. Leger continues, “[p]reventing a business from discriminating does not hinder the freedom of the business owner to hold his sincere religious beliefs in his heart and in his home. A business operating in the public sphere, relying on public infrastructure, is not at liberty to pick and choose who it will allow to be its customers. Either it is open for business or not.”

Rep. Leger apparently thinks the First Amendment only applies in the “heart” and “home.” It seems we can assume he is for taking away the First Amendment rights of the New York Times corporation to speak and report freely? If not, well why would he take away someone’s religious rights just because they want to make a living? If he would, he’s just discriminating against religion specifically.

Those who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman are increasingly becoming a powerless minority, especially in the face of media voices, big business, academics, and government elites who look down upon their views. All HB 707 does is protect these relatively powerless people from government discrimination against them based on their beliefs on marriage.

Rep. Leger again exposes his ignorance for criticizing Indiana for passing “similar legislation.” Indiana had actually passed a RFRA very similar to the federal one Rep. Leger hyperlinked when claiming “federal and state laws already exist to protect religious liberty.” Moreover, Louisiana has had a RFRA for some time. Has Rep. Leger spent energy criticizing it?

As if this wasn’t enough, he then insults the people who need the protection of HB 707 by inferring they are racists—as they would bring up “evil apparitions from the Deep South’s dark past.”

Rep. Leger closes with: “[r]eligious liberty by right should and ought to be protected, and it is.” He’s correct that it should be protected, but wrong that it currently is. HB 707 would protect it. Yet Rep. Leger opposes HB 707.

Rep. Leger can’t (and won’t) be allowed to get away with the heavy-handed moralizing of telling believers their religion really means differently than they think it does. He can’t (and won’t) get away with the hypocrisy of claiming he is against discrimination, while at the same time himself discriminating against religious views he doesn’t like by seeking to strip believers of potential protections like HB 707.

Rep. Leger simply can’t claim to support religious liberty and oppose HB 707. He must pick one or the other.

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This is the Lord’s Doing” Appomattox April 9, 1865

by Robert Morrison

April 9, 2015

One hundred and fifty years ago today we saw the greatest victory in American history. Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on this date in the crossroads village of Appomattox Courthouse. Gen. Lee was dressed in his finest gray uniform. He wore a gold sash and a jeweled ceremonial sword.

Ulysses S. Grant was the commanding general of all Union armies. He arrived late at the home of Wilmer McLean to receive the surrender of Lee’s army. Although there were yet Confederate forces in the field (notably Gen. Joseph Johnston’s army in North Carolina and Gen. Kirby Smith’s in Texas), everyone knew that Lee’s surrender marked the effective end of four bloody years of America’s terrible Civil War. We had lost 630,000 young men in battle.

In Washington, the commissioner of public buildings, Benjamin Brown French, strung a huge banner across the face of the Capitol. The Capitol’s dome had just recently been completed. President Lincoln had pressed to finish the work. It would symbolize the enduring nature of our sacred Union, he thought.

Lighted at night, the banner read:

This is the Lord’s Doing; It is Marvelous in our Eyes

Most Americans at the time would have recognized the Bible reference. It is from 118th Psalm, verse 23. It is hard to imagine that a similar Scripture passage could be used on a public building today. The atheizers would cry out that it was a violation of the First Amendment. They would demand equal time for their own messages of doubt and disbelief. As my colleague, FRC’s distinguished Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell, has written, “The fanatical authoritarianism of the political left is plunging this country headlong into a very dark place from which many nations never return.”

That dark place was far away from the “stillness at Appomattox.” The fierce struggles that had gone on for days came to a sudden halt. Young soldiers had been killed as recently as that Sunday morning. But as the two West Pointers—Lee and Grant—met in the front parlor of the McLean House, all was silent and subdued.

Gen. Grant had been suffering a blinding headache for more than a day prior to meeting Lee, but he would later recall that as soon as Lee’s written message came to him on the road, his headache departed. An expert horseman, Grant rode swiftly to meet the Southern commanding general. Grant could have been shot at almost any point along the way by a Southern sharpshooter, or even killed by “friendly fire” in the confusion of the opposing lines in these last hours of combat.

For their historic encounter, Grant wore a private’s uniform jacket with his general’s stars pinned on the shoulder. His uniform was still spattered with spring mud. Lee, taller, and immaculately attired, had told his lieutenants he might become Grant’s prisoner by the end of the day and should appear at his best.

He was not to be Grant’s prisoner. Nor were any of the remaining thousands of the starving rebel host made prisoners. When he was informed that many of these Confederate scarecrows had not eaten in days, Grant ordered generous provisions for them all. Many of those rations were even supplied by Grant’s black soldiers.

With Lee, Grant agreed to let the rebel officers keep their horses and to allow any enlisted man who claimed a horse or mule to take his animal home for spring planting. “This will have a most beneficial effect upon my men,” said Lee.

It would help also to reconcile the bleeding nation. Grant was following President Lincoln’s orders to the letter. Lincoln had never used the word “enemy” or “foe” in any public address. At his Second Inaugural, just a month prior, he had spoken of the need to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”  In an important shipboard conference with Generals Grant and Sherman and Admiral Porter, the President had urged his commanders to “let `em up easy.” It was a wrestler’s term for being gracious to a defeated opponent.

When Gen. Grant returned from his meeting with Gen. Lee, his troops began shouts of acclamation and his powerful artillery commenced a One-Hundred Gun salute to the Union victory. Grant immediately ordered a cease fire. “The rebels are our countrymen once again,” he said, and he would permit no word or gesture to humiliate them.

Instead, Grant designated his heroic subordinate, Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Maine, to oversee the formal surrender of Confederate flags and weapons. Chamberlain was a good choice. He had been the one to stand with his Twentieth Maine volunteers at Little Round Top at Gettysburg nearly two years earlier. His regiment of fishermen and lumberjacks had held at a critical moment in that crucial thee-day battle.

As these ragged Southern soldiers laid down their weapons and their rebel flags, Chamberlain saluted his opposite number, Gen. John Bell Gordon. Gordon, in the spirit of the day, tapped his horse’s flanks with his spurs and executed a most graceful bow in return. Both men would carry the wounds of war to their graves.

Americans are now in a great controversy over life, marriage, religious freedom, and civil rights. We even see a clash over the teaching of America’s past. Spurred by the advocate of a so-called Common Core, some of our brightest history students will be taught of our history with hardly a mention of Appomattox.

So much of our nation’s exceptional character can be seen in that “Stillness at Appomattox.” It represented the best of America. Gen. Grant would later write that he had to honor the valor and devotion of his opponents—even though he thought their “Lost Cause” was “one of the worst that men ever fought for.”

In this, Grant reflected the deep convictions of his Commander-in-Chief.  Abraham Lincoln’s long battle against slavery was finally culminating in that dreadful institution’s alleviation from American soil. 

Yet despite, their mutual antipathy for the central cause of the horrors of four years of war, both Lincoln and Grant wanted to welcome, not indemnify, their erring brothers back into the union.  o other country in the Nineteenth Century dealt with a massive rebellion with such leniency, such compassion, “with malice toward none.” In neighboring Canada, the British hanged rebels who demanded no more than a government by consent of the governed. In Mexico, the French-backed “Emperor” Maximilian would be put up against a wall and shot by nationalist forces. In France, just a few years after Appomattox, thousands of Paris “Communards” were shot by the forces of the born-in-blood Third Republic.

Americans need the Appomattox story today. President Reagan said it in his Farewell Message: “If we forget what we have done, we will forget who we are.” Remembering Appomattox—the Lord’s doing—is an important way of remembering who we are.

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The Dead End of Sexual Sin

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 9, 2015

Rosaria Butterfield is one of the bravest people I know. Her profound transformation in Christ after a life of lesbianism has subjected her to public attacks and harsh comments, to which she responds with kindness, humility, and truth. Rosaria is also “a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. After her conversion to Christianity in 1999, she developed a ministry to college students. She has taught and ministered at Geneva College, is a full-time mother and pastor’s wife, and is author of Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (2012) and Openness, Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ (2015).”

Rosaria has written a powerful piece on transformation in Christ in her new “Desiring God” article, “The Dead End of Sexual Sin.” It is copied below in its entirety as it is one of the most potent and life-giving pieces I’ve read in a long time. Read, be challenged, and be blessed:


The Dead End of Sexual Sin

Unbelievers don’t “struggle” with same-sex attraction. I didn’t. My love for women came with nary a struggle at all.

I had not always been a lesbian, but in my late twenties, I met my first lesbian-lover. I was hooked and believed that I had found my real self. Sex with women was part of my life and identity, but it was not the only part — and not always the biggest part.

I simply preferred everything about women: their company, their conversation, their companionship, and the contours of their/our body. I favored the nesting, the setting up of house and home, and the building of lesbian community.

As an unbelieving professor of English, an advocate of postmodernism and poststructuralism, and an opponent of all totalizing meta-narratives (like Christianity, I would have added back in the day), I found peace and purpose in my life as a lesbian and the queer community I helped to create.

Conversion and Confusion

It was only after I met my risen Lord that I ever felt shame in my sin, with my sexual attractions, and with my sexual history.

Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.

What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go?

Meeting John Owen

In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read an old, seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation).

At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am,” John Owen called “indwelling sin.” But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin, distraction of actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin.

Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope. Indeed, John Owen’s understanding of indwelling sin is the missing link in our current cultural confusion about what sexual sin is — and what to do about it.

As believers, we lament with the apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:19–20). But after we lament, what should we do? How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?

Owen explained with four responses.

1. Starve It

Indwelling sin is a parasite, and it eats what you do. God’s word is poison to sin when embraced by a heart made new by the Holy Spirit. You starve indwelling sin by feeding yourself deeply on his word. Sin cannot abide in his word. So, fill your hearts and minds with Scripture.

One way that I do that is singing the Psalms. Psalm-singing, for me, is a powerful devotional practice as it helps me to melt my will into God’s and memorize his word in the process. We starve our indwelling sin by reading Scripture comprehensively, in big chunks, and by whole books at a time. This allows us to see God’s providence at work in big-picture ways.

2. Call Sin What It Is

Now that it is in the house, don’t buy it a collar and a leash and give it a sweet name. Don’t “admit” sin as a harmless (but un-housebroken) pet. Instead, confess it as an evil offense and put it out! Even if you love it! You can’t domesticate sin by welcoming it into your home.

Don’t make a false peace. Don’t make excuses. Don’t get sentimental about sin. Don’t play the victim. Don’t live by excuse-righteousness. If you bring the baby tiger into your house and name it Fluffy, don’t be surprised if you wake up one day and Fluffy is eating you alive. That is how sin works, and Fluffy knows her job. Sometimes sin lurks and festers for decades, deceiving the sinner that he really has it all under control, until it unleashes itself on everything you built, cherished, and loved.

Be wise about your choice sins and don’t coddle them. And remember that sin is not ever “who you are” if you are in Christ. In Christ, you are a son or daughter of the King; you are royalty. You do battle with sin because it distorts your real identity; you do not define yourself by these sins that are original with your consciousness and daily present in your life.

3. Extinguish Indwelling Sin by Killing It

Sin is not only an enemy, says Owen. Sin is at enmity with God. Enemies can be reconciled, but there is no hope for reconciliation for anything at enmity with God. Anything at enmity with God must be put to death. Our battles with sin draw us closer in union with Christ. Repentance is a new doorway into God’s presence and joy.

Indeed, our identity comes from being crucified and resurrected with Christ:

We have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. (Romans 6:4–6)

Satan will use our indwelling sin as blackmail, declaring that we cannot be in Christ and sin in heart or body like this. In those moments, we remind him that he is right about one thing only: our sin is indeed sin. It is indeed transgression against God and nothing else.

But Satan is dead wrong about the most important matter. In repentance, we stand in the risen Christ. And the sin that we have committed (and will commit) is covered by his righteousness. But fight we must. To leave sin alone, says Owen, is to let sin grow — “not to conquer it is to be conquered by it.”

4. Daily Cultivate Your New Life in Christ

God does not leave us alone to fight the battle in shame and isolation. Instead, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the soul of each believer is “vivified.” “To vivicate” means to animate, or to give life to. Vivification complements mortification (to put to death), and by so doing, it allows us to see the wide angle of sanctification, which includes two aspects:

1) Deliverance from the desire of those choice sins, experienced when the grace of obedience gives us the “expulsive power of a new affection” (to quote Thomas Chalmers).

2) Humility over the fact that we daily need God’s constant flow of grace from heaven, and that no matter how sin tries to delude us, hiding our sin is never the answer. Indeed, the desire to be strong enough in ourselves, so that we can live independently of God, is the first sin, the essence of sin, and the mother of all sin.

Owen’s missing link is for believers only. He says, “Unless a man be regenerate (born again), unless he be a believer, all attempts that he can make for mortification [of sin] … are to no purpose. In vain he shall use many remedies, [but] he shall not be healed.”

What then should an unbeliever do? Cry out to God for the Holy Spirit to give him a new heart and convert his soul: “mortification [of sin] is not the present business of unregenerate men. God calls them not to it as yet; conversion is their work — the conversion of the whole soul — not the mortification of this or that particular lust.”

Freed for Joy

In the writings of John Owen, I was shown how and why the promises of sexual fulfillment on my own terms were the antithesis of what I had once fervently believed. Instead of liberty, my sexual sin was enslavement. This seventeenth-century Puritan revealed to me how my lesbian desires and sensibilities were dead-end joy-killers.

Today, I now stand in a long line of godly women — the Mary Magdalene line. The gospel came with grace, but demanded irreconcilable war. Somewhere on this bloody battlefield, God gave me an uncanny desire to become a godly woman, covered by God, hedged in by his word and his will. This desire bled into another one: to become, if the Lord willed, the godly wife of a godly husband.

And then I noticed it.

Union with the risen Christ meant that everything else was nailed to the cross. I couldn’t get my former life back if I wanted it. At first, this was terrifying, but when I peered deep into the abyss of my terror, I found peace.

With peace, I found that the gospel is always ahead of you. Home is forward. Today, by God’s amazing grace alone, I am a chosen part of God’s family, where God cares about the details of my day, the math lessons and the spilled macaroni and cheese, and most of all, for the people, the image-bearers of his precious grace, the man who calls me beloved, and the children who call me mother.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News April 9, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 9, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Recently, the news has been tough for Christians here at home and abroad. Some of what’s been taking place is simply horrific: Islamist terrorists mass-murdering Christians in Kenya, for example. Other stories involve the erosion of religious liberty in America, as in the failure in Indiana to protect the rights of business persons who don’t wish to participate in same-sex weddings.

Religious liberty, same-sex “marriage” and “LGBT rights,” and the sanctity of life are requiring more and more of our attention. But there’s also good news about these very matters; here’s a sampling:

  • After activists threatened the family that runs a pizza shop declining to cater same-sex weddings, an Indiana lesbian contributed to a fund for the family. “As a member of the gay community, I would like to apologize for the mean spirited attacks on you and your business. I know many gay individuals who fully support your right to stand up for your beliefs and run your business according to those beliefs. We are outraged at the level of hate and intolerance that has been directed at you and I sincerely hope that you are able to rebuild,” wrote Courtney Hoffman. In total, Memories Pizza received more than $840,000 in on-line donations (most of which it will donate to charities) and, reports say, is planning to re-open.
  • In a recent interview on the outstanding Podcast, “Michael Easley: In Context,” former practicing homosexual Matt Moore tells of his journey from what he calls “a hopeless way of life” and says he now “greatly desires, through his writing, to help the gay community see the world and themselves from a biblical perspective and to know the hope that is available to them in Christ.” Matt now attends a seminary and hopes to serve as a pastor. He also has begun a serious relationship with a young Christian woman.
  • The Oklahoma Senate has approved a 72-hour waiting period before a woman seeking an abortion can receive one. Wisconsin’s attorney general is working to reverse a court ruling against laws designed to protect women’s health and safety in abortion clinics. And long-time pro-life champion Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has enacted legislation to limit late-term abortions in his state.

We don’t know the final chapter of any of these stories. Or of our country’s future. Or of our own lives. But there’s One Who does. He’s worth serving, His truth is worth upholding, and His grace is worth sharing. Knowing these things are sure, let’s not grow weary in advancing and defending faith, family, and freedom.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. In The Christian Post, FRC President Tony Perkins and I make our case against a New York Times op-ed implying support for anti-Christian fascism. And don’t miss our April 22 panel discussion, “The Supreme Court and Marriage: What Happens after the Decision?” Join us in person or watch (at no registration fee) online live.

P.S.S. The Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber, has just published two new analyses concerning same-sex marriage and the courts: “State Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs): What are they and why are they needed?” and “How are clergy protected from being forced to perform same-sex marriages?” Download and distribute at no charge.


Education

 

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

 

Marriage & Family

Economy and the family

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Marriage

Pornography

 

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

Religion in Public Life

 

Other Stories of Note

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Standing with my friend, Curt Smith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 7, 2015

In early 1991, Curt Smith hired me to serve in the press office of U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN).  He was my boss for more than three years, working in harness for one of the finest men to serve in the Senate in recent memory.

Curt is a gracious, soft-spoken man who has a deep love for people.  He was patient with me as I grew in my role and has been a friend for, now, nearly a quarter of a century.

He is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ  who, while working for the prestigious law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, also served as head of the Indiana Family Institute.  Now, due to his support for Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s original religious liberty bill, Curt has lost his job.  As Indianapolis’s WISH-TV tells it:

Until last week Smith was the director of public policy at the Taft Law firm. One of its biggest clients is Cummins, the Columbus based engine manufacturer that was a leading opponent of the religious freedom law. Something had to give … (By) last week Smith was in the middle of a professional transition. As recently as Monday morning his Linkedin page showed him working at Taft Law. But an email sent to his law firm address came back with a message saying that he left Taft to join the Family Institute as President, even though his bio at the Family Institute website points out that he has actually held that position for 11 years. A spokesman for the law firm said that the purpose of the Family Institute didn’t match the purpose of the law firm but that it was Smith’s decision to leave … The Taft law firm, according the spokesman, has a principle of inclusiveness, and the when the Religious Freedom law was perceived to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, that apparently posed an additional problem.

A “principle of inclusiveness?”  Really?  So inclusive that they part ways with the former state director of a sitting U.S. Senator who simply endorsed a bill signed by the democratically elected governor of one of the nation’s largest states?  A bill that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), signed into law by Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Sen. Ted Kennedy?

It is a sad day for Indiana and for American law when a man as principled and talented as Curt Smith is de facto forced to leave his role with his employer because he believes that coercion and repression are not Hoosier values.  The moral cowardice of the leadership of Taft and its clients (including Cummins, about whose generous federal contracts I wrote myriad news releases when working for Sen. Coats) is repulsive. 

Curt Smith has the assurance of a loving God and the respect of many friends.  What do Taft, Cummins, and their compeers have?  Gaining the world at the cost of one’s soul is, according to Jesus, a bad bargain.  They might consider that a bit.

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