Author archives: Rob Schwarzwalder

Wise Thoughts on Christians Trying to Conform Jesus to the Culture

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 2, 2015

From Tim Challies:

Many (Christians) … are redefining the terms of their friendship by redefining their friend. They are creating a new version of their friend Jesus, rewriting him in their own image, or in the image of the culture around them, making him into a figure who has been misunderstood and who is far more tolerant, far more accepting, far more palatable. This inoffensive Jesus loves without judgment, he gives without expectation, he proudly waves a rainbow flag.

But, of course, Jesus is unchanged and unchanging. He will not bow to the changing culture, he will not cede to the rising tide. Jesus will only ever be who he is and who he has always been. And each of us has a choice to make.

Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News July 2, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 2, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


The World Turned Upside-Down” reportedly was the tune the British played when Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown. Perhaps close listeners could have heard the strains of the tune emanating from the Supreme Court last week.

Those who understand that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for purposes of natural procreation, child-rearing, and male-female complementarity were heartbroken by the specious constitutional and moral reasoning captured in the majority’s opinion making same-sex unions legal nationwide.

The Court’s rulings in Obergefell and the Affordable Care Act case jettisoned the text of the Constitution and institutionalized subjectivism as the only consistent interpretive grid the Supreme Court now applies to the nation’s charter text.

Many of the entries in this week’s Social Conservative Review address these two landmark decisions. Analysis is replete in conservative journals, magazines, and blog sites. Perhaps Justice Antonin Scalia offered the most penetrating summary of the implications of the rulings. Writing of Obergefell, Mr. Justice Scalia said:

Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court … This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Speaking of 1776, FRC hopes you and your family have a glorious Fourth celebrating the many benefits of life in our beloved country. Although some of the foundational freedoms we have long enjoyed are under growing threat, we can look back on our long history with gratitude and our future with the confident knowledge that Jesus Christ remains Lord.

This truth transcends national boundaries, human endeavors, all time and all places. No court, human institution, or leader of any political party can ever change it.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. FRC President Tony Perkins and Senior Fellows Ken Blackwell and Peter Sprigg have been making the rounds of places like CBS, ABC, and CNN to discuss last week’s rulings. Go to FRC’s Newsroom to get their take on these historic events.

P.S.S. The nightmarish shootings South Carolina and the burning of several Black churches in the South have prompted renewed consideration of race among Christians nationwide. In “Taking the Charleston Shooting Personally,” writer Hope E. Ferguson (the great-granddaughter and granddaughter of AME ministers) calls on her “brothers and sisters in Christ, be they white, black, brown, or any other color, would put down our differences at the foot of the cross.” Amen.


Social Conservative Review

Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

Obamacare

Marriage & Family

Economy and the family

Fatherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Marriage

Pornography

Religious Liberty: Domestic

Religious Liberty: International

Education

Other Stories of Note

Increasing the Child Tax Credit: Good for Families, Good for the Economy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 30, 2015

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced a pro-growth economic plan that includes an increase in the child care tax credit, and the Wall Street Journal isn’t happy about it. In fact, the normally prudent Journal even goes so far as to assert that the child tax credit “does nothing for economic growth.”

Oh, c’mon: Let’s assume that the money retained by families through an expanded credit, per Rubio-Lee, in fact does not foster immediate growth. This is a dubious argument. Personal income tax cuts spur growth just as do corporate income tax cuts.

However, let us agree, for the sake of argument, that the child tax credit is deficient in animating the kind of sustained growth serious people want for the economy. It has another, more profound benefit that the Journal ignores completely: It strengthens families. And strong families mean a stronger economy.

Productivity increases when an adequate number of people are employed using their skills, capacities, and know-how to provide quality and affordable goods and services. Development of these capacities comes heavily from personal formation within the family. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker argued, healthy, educated, and emotionally stable children are essential to economic growth.

So, in targeting family formation through enabling mothers and fathers to better provide for their children and also to bear and raise more children, something demonstrably needed for the economy of the United States given our looming demographic deficit, the Rubio-Lee proposal would substantially abet growth in coming decades. Its facilitation of growth over time is an investment that will bear fruit in a steadily more robust economy.

The immediate costs of child-rearing are such that extra money to help families pay for the enhancement of their most fundamental “investments” – their boys and girls – is laudable.

Regrettably, the Journal has shown a considerable lack of economic common sense in attacking a proposal that would bolster our human capital capacity. FRC applauds Sens. Rubio and Lee for their foresight and justified consideration of family well-being.

Earlier in his career, Schwarzwalder was Director of Corporate Communications at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Supreme Chaos

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 30, 2015

Last week, the Supreme Court overturned the votes of more than 50 million people in 31 states concerning same-sex marriage, finding, instead, a constitutional “right” for same-gendered persons to marry. They blithely dismissed the will of the voters in order to find this “right,” rejecting the Tenth Amendment’s affirmation that those things not specifically articulated in the Constitution as within the province of the federal government belong to the states and the people.

In a ruling on the shaping of congressional districts, issued today, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg – a leading advocate of a constitutional “right” for same-sex partners to marry – wrote the following: “The animating principle of our Constitution [is] that the people themselves are the originating source of all the powers of government.”

Affirming federalism is not a matter of whim; it is foundational to our system of government, even our existence as a nation. Yet, troublingly, this subjective application of the Founder’s political philosophy seems to be the pattern of our current Supreme Court.

Four Short Observations about Justice Kennedy’s Opinion on Same-Sex Unions

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 26, 2015

Homosexuality is an “Immutable” Characteristic

Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities.  And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment.” Opinion of the Court, p. 4

Wrong: Homosexuality is NOT an immutable characteristic.  This is documented copiously and is demonstrated anecdotally by everyone from Rosaria Butterfield to Chirlane McCray, the wife of New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As reported in an amicus brief for the Family Research Council, an examination of just some of the complaints that have been brought to date challenging state marriage laws reveals that dozens of the plaintiffs seeking to marry someone of the same sex previously were married to someone of the opposite sex. Notwithstanding their (presumed) sexual orientation, they were issued a license to marry. It might be argued that at the time of their previous marriage, they were not homosexual. But that response creates a new problem. If they were heterosexual then, but are homosexual now, then their sexual orientation could not be said to be immutable. – FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg, The Wrong Argument Against Traditional Marriage, April 27, 2015

Changing Understandings of Marriage”

The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time.  For example, marriage was once viewed as an arrangement by the couple’s parents based on political, religious, and financial concerns; but by the time of the Nation’s founding it was understood to be a voluntary contract between a man and a woman … Indeed, changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.” Opinion of the Court, pp. 6-7

Wrong: The nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has never changed. Legal matters attendant to marriage (women’s property rights, arrangements by parents, etc.) have changed, but the nature of marriage has itself never changed.  Kennedy’s argument says, in essence, that because a car now has airbags, it should be called an airplane.  Incorrect: It remains a car, even if improvements have been made to its engine, its safety, etc.

These aspects of marriage—the complementarity of male and female, and the irreplaceable role of male-female relations in reproducing the human race—are part of the original order of creation, and are evident to all human beings from the enduring order of nature. These common elements of marriage are at the heart of our civil laws defining and regulating marriage. Therefore, people of all cultures and religions—including those who lack faith in God, Christ, or the Bible—are capable of participating in the institution of marriage. – Andreas Kostenberger, Ph.D., “The Bible’s Teaching on Marriage and Family”

Homosexuality is analogous to race

When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.  Applying these established tenets, the Court has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution.  In Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, 12 (1967), which invalidated bans on interracial unions, a unanimous Court held marriage is ‘one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men’.” Opinion of the Court, p. 8

Wrong: Race is immutable and benign.  It is irrelevant to with one’s character or conduct.  Homosexuality is not immutable and those who practice same-sex intimacy are engaging in behavior that has intrinsic moral content.

One of the four criteria for defining a classification such as sexual orientation as suspect—which in turn subjects laws targeting that class of people to the highest burden of proof—is that the group in question share an immutable characteristic. The immutability of sexual orientation is hardly a settled matter—just ask Anne Heche (the former partner of celebrity and lesbian Ellen DeGeneres who has now affirmed her heterosexuality). - Margaret Talbot, “Is Sexuality Immutable?” The New Yorker, January 25, 2010

Marriage is a matter of “individual autonomy”

A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.” Opinion of the Court, p. 13

Wrong: While individual autonomy in terms of “personal choice” is “inherent in the concept” of marriage, marriage is not strictly about personal volition.  It is a social institution designed for procreation and child-rearing in a complementary household in which a child benefits from the influence of differently-gendered parents.

Marriage is based on the truth that men and women are complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the reality that children need a mother and a father. Redefining marriage does not simply expand the existing understanding of marriage; it rejects these truths. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means of ensuring the well-being of children. By encouraging the norms of marriage—monogamy, sexual exclusivity, and permanence—the state strengthens civil society and reduces its own role. The future of this country depends on the future of marriage. – Ryan T. Anderson, “Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”, Heritage Foundation, March 11, 2013

Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News June 18, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 18, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Transgenderism is much in the news, animated in large part by Bruce Jenner’s reportedly air-brushed photograph of himself as a woman on the cover of a leading magazine.

On Wednesday of this week, the New York Times carried an above-the-fold, front page article, complete with an eye-catching photograph, about an 18 year-old boy who now goes by the name of Katharine. It describes the surgery and drug treatments that have caused him to have a body simulating a girl’s. However, the author notes, given that the surgery took place only within the past year, “It was too late to change some things, like Kat’s tenor voice and facial hair. ‘I hate my voice,’ she said. ‘I shave.’ She chose not to save sperm — to her, a revolting reminder of masculinity — so she cannot have children, the one sacrifice that gave her father a pang.”

The article describes the boy’s physical alteration this way: “The operation involved deconstructing her male genitals and repurposing the nerves and skin as female anatomy.” Historically, this kind of surgery has been rejected by the medical establishment as mutilation.

All Christians should grieve for this young man and his family, and pray they find hope and healing in Christ — the same hope and healing all of us find when we come to know His great love and decide to follow Him.

FRC’s latest publication, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” addresses the many aspects of this phenomenon and includes a seven-page executive summary. It’s available online now and can be downloaded at no cost.

People struggling with their biological identity need counsel and compassion, not surgery, social empowerment or media acclaim. And, like all of us, they need the redeeming grace of a loving Savior. Let’s be sure to extend it to them.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President,
Family Research Council

P.S. There’s only one radio program in the country that almost every day features a Member of Congress — FRC President Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch.” Just in the past week, Tony’s program has hosted two Senators, three current U.S. Representatives, and two presidential candidates, not to mention Christian leaders like Franklin Graham and the Benham brothers. Watch it online or listen on your local radio station — it’s a unique resource for all who care about faith, family, and freedom.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Abstinence

Adoption

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

 

Marriage & the Family

Marriage

Economy and the family

Fatherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Pornography

 

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

 

Religion in Public Life

Christian faith and public policy

 

Education

 

Other Stories of Note

Elisabeth Elliot: A Woman Who Knew God

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 16, 2015

Today’s New York Times’ obituary section features stories about, among others, the passing of a Hollywood actress, a stripper, a movie producer, a Grand Ole Opry star, and “a host to legendary maestros.”

Not listed is Elisabeth Elliot, perhaps the most influential woman in American Evangelicalism of the past half-century.

She was the widow of missionary martyr Jim Elliot and later of Gordon-Conwell Seminary theologian Addison Leitch; in total, she was married to them for about six years. She knew loss and pain throughout her life. Then God brought her to Lars Gren, with whom she enjoyed many years of marriage and ministry. She also rejoiced in her daughter with Jim, Valerie Elliot Shepard, and many grandchildren.

Numerous moving obituaries have been written about her. I recommend Justin Taylor’s at The Gospel Coalition (“She was a beautiful woman of whom the world was not worthy”), John Piper’s (“Peaches in Paradise: Why I Loved Elisabeth Elliot”), Tsh Oxenreider’s at the Washington Post, and the collation of tributes at Christianity Today. These remembrances feature many quotes from Mrs. Elliot, whose love for her Savior and devotion to taking up His cross daily fed millions for many years.

Her ministry for Jesus Christ was her gracious but uncompromising. Consider Mrs. Elliot’s utterly fearless decision to live with three Ecuadorean Indian tribes (taking her year-old daughter with her and beginning with the tribe that murdered her husband and his four missionary colleagues); her 13 year-long radio devotional; her more than 20 books; her extraordinary speaking ministry; and her extensive personal correspondence with generations of young women seeking the compassionate but firmly truthful counsel for which she was both known and honored. Like Abel, she, being dead, yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4), and will speak for many years to come.

Mrs. Elliot was also a gracious but unflinching advocate for the unborn and their mothers. “We are faced with only one question,” she wrote. “Are we talking about an object, or might it by any stretch of the imagination be a person? If we cannot be sure of the answer, at least we may pick up a clue or two from the word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you for my own; before you were born I consecrated you, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ To God, at least, Jeremiah was already a person. For my part, I will try to regard whatever bears the marks of humanity as God’s property and not mine.”

As a young man, her book about her husband Jim, Shadow of the Almighty, had a greater effect on my own devotion to Christ than any book but the Bible. When she came to speak at the seminary I attended in Oregon, the venue must have had a special meaning to her. Western Seminary is located on the eastern slope of Portland’s Mt. Tabor; Jim had been raised only a few blocks away on the northern slope.

Mrs. Elliot’s omission from the obituary section of the nation’s “paper of record” is unsurprising. It’s also unimportant. Elisabeth Elliot lived a life “despising the shame” of the cross, just as did the Prince of Life nailed to it, the eternal Son she followed with perseverance and humble fidelity.

There is so much to say, but one thing should not be neglected: Mrs. Elliot was not occupied with Evangelicalism’s many self-preoccupations, endless self-analyses, constant bickering over secondary things, the latest techniques of ministry, or the embarrassing and fruitless professionalization of the ministry of the Gospel and the church’s sordid aping of the business world. She harkened her fellow believers to a deep and intimate walk with the Savior not just for what they could derive from it but because He deserves lives of full submission to Him. And, as that submission is given, daily, the peace, joy, and contentment for which we all long follows.

No short blog of mine can capture fully the magnificence of Mrs. Elliot’s utter surrender to the Lord Jesus. Perhaps a story related by Steve Saint, the son of one of Jim’s colleagues, is a good way to close:

… moments after killing the five missionaries who had come to deliver to them the gospel, these native Indian men saw hazy figures above the tree line and heard them singing music they had never heard before. Many months later, several of these tribesmen were converted to Christ. Afterwards, they sat listening to a missionary’s record player … (playing) a choir singing hymns. The natives recognized the music and said it was like the music they had heard that day on the sandy beach coming from the figures hovering above the tree line.

Mrs. Elliot has, in person, now heard those “figures” – those angels – singing. And she has met the One of Whom they sang, and sing, for all eternity.

Conservative Conservatism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 15, 2015

In 2003, Bill Kristol wrote in The Weekly Standard that “the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy … Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on ‘the road to serfdom.’ Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable.”

A few years earlier, Marvin Olasky articulated a vision of “compassionate conservatism” thusly: “The major flaw of the modern welfare state is not that it is extravagant, but that it is too stingy. It gives the needy bread and tells them to be content with that alone. It gives the rest of us the opportunity to be stingy also, and to salve our consciences even as we scrimp on what many of the destitute need most — love, time, and a challenge to be ‘little lower than the angels’ rather than one thumb up from monkeys.”

Now we read a good deal about reform conservatism, whose proponents advance a quite sophisticated and wide-ranging program articulated elegantly by Yuval Levin. “American conservatives need to offer our vision as a genuine alternative to the status quo,” he writes. “Doing so requires us to make an appeal to the broader public grounded in both a practical and a theoretical case, and therefore to engage simultaneously with the mundane realities of American government and the principles and philosophy that underlie our idea of the proper character of society and politics. It requires, in other words, a political program that draws on a conservative anthropology, sociology, and epistemology, and expresses itself in terms of both political philosophy and public administration. This means that today’s Right needs both a firmer grounding in the foundations of the conservative tradition in American politics and more practical policy proposals that can speak to the public’s needs and wants.”

All of these qualified visions of conservatism and conservative governance have much to commend them in philosophy, analysis, and substantive proposals. However, the modifiers noted seem to imply some deficiency in the philosophy they claim essentially to endorse. That’s worrisome.

Conservatism, properly understood, is compassionate inherently. Much of what the “reform conservatives” want is what all conservatives want. Neoconservatism largely has integrated with its non-neo philosophical kin.

Soon I plan to write a longer and, I hope, both sympathetic and unifying piece about all of this. Suffice it for now to say that conservatives need simply to be conservatives in the truest sense of the term. That means confidence in our philosophy, winsomeness in tone, surefootedness in articulation, and undauntedness in the face of skepticism. Unmodified, unqualified, unapologetic in self-description, too.

Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News June 4, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 5, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Last Sunday, I went to church, morning and evening. This morning, I read the Bible in my home. Our family car has an “icthus” fish symbol on its tailgate.

And so on.

None of these things is exceptional for tens of millions of American Christians. We are not monitored and our lives are not at risk. We can reside where we choose, purchase any goods or services we desire, travel without restriction.

So why is Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator from Florida running for his party’s presidential nomination, saying “we are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech?” Consider:

  • Christianity teaches eternal destruction (read that, hell) for those without the Savior it heralds.
  • Christianity teaches that all men and women are sinners by nature and by choice.
  • Christianity teaches that there’s only one way to God — Jesus Christ.
  • Christianity teaches that all other professed ways to God are false.
  • Christianity teaches that sexual intimacy is reserved solely for one man, one woman marriage.

These beliefs run counter to the increasingly insistent demands of the secular Left that Christians be quiet and go along with the agenda of progressivism and its desire for complete religious quietism. Telling people that without Jesus, they are bound for eternal punishment can be hard in itself, but in a culture where “niceness” and being religiously innocuous are seen as paramount virtues, doing so is not just anachronistic and intrusive but, at the least, “microagressive.” Or, as Sen. Rubio put it, “hate speech.”

As Adam J. White, writing in The Weekly Standard, observes, “concerted efforts by the administration and its allies not just to create and enforce a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but to go still further and force third parties—such as the proverbial photographers and bakers—to personally and directly facilitate such weddings, raise increasingly stark questions of religious freedom under federal and state law.”

Myriad examples abound of various spokespersons of the iron-fisted Left telling believers to pipe down and/or change the tenets of their faiths. It’s enough to say that not to proclaim truth, winsomely but clearly and without embarrassment, is loveless. And since Christians are to be known by their love (John 17;22-23), how can we be silent and remain faithful?

Even if our love is called hate.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to watch FRC’s latest lecture, featuring Dr. John Eastman, on “Cutural Imperialism and the Obama Administration.”


Human Dignity and Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Adoption

Assisted Suicide

Obamacare

Marriage & Family

Economy and the family

Fatherhood and Motherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Marriage

Pornography

Religious Liberty

Domestic

International

Religion in Public Life

Education

Other Stories of Note

Does Masculinity Matter?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 4, 2015

For that matter, does masculinity even exist?

In an era of Bruce Jenner’s sexual self-reinvention, same-sex adoptions, “gender studies,” “transgendered” bathrooms, etc., does being a man have any meaning, objectively, morally, or culturally?

Does a child need a father and a mother or just two parents?

Is sexuality “fluid,” elastic, subjective?

Of course, at FRC we answer yes to all but the last of these questions. We believe that God made man male and female (Genesis 1:27, 5:2), and that His creation is good.

Our friends at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood provide an outstanding guide to what Scripture teaches about masculinity. Hint: Throw out any hostile stereotypes you might have (for example, that Christianity somehow affirms the right of men to be victimizing aggressors, predatory users of women, etc.) and see what the Bible says.

Men and women are different. Let’s rejoice that this is now, and always will be, so.

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