Author archives: Rob Schwarzwalder

The Dignity of Motherhood

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 5, 2015

Motherhood is hard. Really hard.

As I consider all my wife has done with and for our three children, I’m humbled by the sacrifices she has made day in and day out. Our children are delightful, but they are human, which means they are fallen in nature and finite in judgment. That means that motherhood is hard. Really hard.

Motherhood is under attack. “No fault” divorce, cohabitation, promiscuity, abortion-on-demand, and pornography have made women of childbearing age prey to a variety of evils and susceptible to the often malign choices of others. And simply being a mom can induce demeaning comments (“all you do is stay at home with your kids, right?”) and hurtful expressions of ignorance (“nice you don’t have to work, isn’t it?”).

In a perceptive article on how we have “overcomplicated” motherhood, Anna Mussmann notes that “Babies change people, and when women give up personal freedom for the sake of love, lose their sense of control over the physical world, and nurture their commitment to another human being (even when they do not feel like it), they are transformed into the kind of adult who can be a haven and an authority for children. They become wiser and better able to recognize cultural nonsense for what it is.”

Some of that nonsense is contained in the usually unspoken but nonetheless real assumption that children are somehow secondary to professional achievement. To employ a sophisticated term of art, what bunk.

As Courtney Reissig writes in a beautiful piece on motherhood in Her.Meneutics, “Rather than a milestone to be carefully calculated, planned for, and earned, kids serve a different purpose altogether. Whether you stay home with them or not, children are not a status symbol, but a blessing. They aren’t the cherry on top of a life plan, but part of what it means to live out our mandate as image-bearers. God’s command to be fruitful and multiply is part of what it means to image him. We create and bear life. We work and we nurture. The ambient culture encourages creation, cultivation, and work, but often out of selfish ambition — not to the praise of the God who created us.”

Reissig continues that whenever a woman has a baby, celebration and honor by God’s people are in order:

Children also come to us — biologically or through adoption — at God’s timing. Despite my desire to start a family earlier, I didn’t give birth to my twins until I was 30. Even when we are open to having children, it doesn’t always happen right away and sometimes, they don’t come at all. But the church should be a place that welcomes expectant mothers regardless of what they have accomplished pre-pregnancy. Even if she never finishes her degree, lands a top client, or wins an Academy Award, bringing life into the world is a beautiful and God-honoring thing.”

Is this attitude in us and in the churches we attend which also is in our Creator? If not, examine why — and reconsider how better to recognize the women who so cherish life that they are willing both to give birth to and raise little ones.

The 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural: A Meditation on the Will of God

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 4, 2015

My brilliant friend Daniel Dreisbach (Ph.D., Oxford), a professor at American University, has written a wonderful piece on the 15oth anniversary of what he rightly calls “among the most eloquent of all presidential utterances.”   

Lincoln’s remarkable, 700-word speech is a meditation on God’s will during a time of national crisis and massive bloodshed, the Civil War.  It also reflects the 16th President’s internalization of the Word of God and how it affected his understanding of this great American trial.

Read Daniel’s perceptive piece, and join with Lincoln in remembering that “the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.”

Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News February 26, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 26, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Theologian David Wells has written of “the extraordinary bombardment … that goes on every day from a thousand different sources that leave us distracted, with our minds going simultaneously in multiple directions” (God in the Whirlwind, p.17). Not only are we inundated with information, but attentive citizens are confronted daily with national and international matters of great significance.

As is appropriate, each of us has particular interests and concerns. Only God is infinite, and only He can attend to all matters simultaneously and in proportion to their true value. But sometimes things rise to the surface that cut through the noise and stand out on their own. Here are a couple:

Domestic Policy - Marriage: Earlier this week, FRC released the findings of a new survey showing that 61 percent of Americans agree that “states and citizens should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the Supreme Court should not force all 50 states to redefine marriage.” The survey also found that 53 percent of Americans agree that marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman. In addition, an overwhelming majority (81 percent) of Americans agree that government should “leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”

In April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage.” As they weigh what to do, they would be wise to remember that sundering the social fabric through judicial fiat has never born good fruit; the Dred Scott and Roe decisions make that plain. And they should be sobered by the fact that four out of five Americans believe moral convictions grounded in deeply-held religious faith can’t be parked at one’s home or left within the four walls of a house of worship – they continue to uphold the right of their fellow citizens to live-out the implications of their faith at work as well as worship.

Foreign Policy – ISIS: In this edition of the SoCon Review, we feature a special section devoted to analyses of ISIS and Christian responses to it. The beheading of Coptic Christians along the Libyan shoreline was evil in its rawest, most horrific form. Yet followers of Jesus in the Middle East know that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35). ISIS seeks conquest of a temporal kingdom, but Christians serve a King Who has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). As we pray for the persecuted – and their persecutors – let’s remember, and be comforted, by that changeless truth.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to listen to Dr. Mark Regnerus’ FRC lecture, “Stability and Change in Americans’ Relationships,” presented this week at our headquarters in Washington, D.C.


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Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

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Bioethics

Assisted Suicide

Marriage & Family

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

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Pornography

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

Religion in Public Life

Occasional Categories

Feminism

ISIS

Depression, Divorce, and Hope

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 25, 2015

Graham Moore won the Academy Award for his screenplay adaptation of “The Imitation Game.” In a moving speech upon receiving the award, he spoke candidly of the depression that haunted his youth. Here’s what he said:

When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong. And now I’m standing here, and so I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along.”

Moore’s parents were divorced. Could this have contributed to his depression? “Children whose parents divorce will exhibit more anxiety and depression and antisocial behavior than children from intact families,” write social scientists Pat Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

Divorce is related to increased depression and anxiety for both boys and girls of all ages,” they write. Quoting from a study in the Journal of Marriage and the Family, Fagan and Churchill note that “boys with divorced parents tended to be more depressed than those from two-parent families regardless of the psychological adjustment, level of conflict, or quality of parenting manifested by their parents.”

Depression is a growing problem among our youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females.”

There’s so much hope: As Graham Moore movingly said, everyone fits in. And with counseling, appropriate medication, the love of parents and family and the support of true friends, young men and women can get through the pain of depression. Most importantly, the knowledge that there’s a loving God can sustain even in the darkest moments.

The link between divorce and youth depression seems to be a real one. It’s just one more reason for couples to work through their problems and find healing for their marriages and their children.

Washington Post Commentator: President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Remarks “Patronizing in the Extreme”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 10, 2015

Eugene Robinson, no social conservative, is a columnist for the Washington Post.  In his op-ed in today’s paper, he offers a thoughtful critique of President Obama’s National Day of Prayer comments about Christians, the Crusades, and slavery.  Titled, “At the prayer breakfast, President Obama struck a patronizing tone,” here are some trenchant excerpts:

… the abolitionist movement grew out of Christian belief and the Christian church. William Wilberforce, the great British activist who spurred the abolition of slavery throughout the empire — and greatly inspired abolitionists in the United States — was a born-again Christian. Long before the Civil War, the religious and moral argument had been won by the anti-slavery side … the civil rights movement never could have triumphed without the Christian churches, both in the South and the North, which served as organizational nodes. The institution led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference … to compare the depredations of the Islamic State with those of the Crusaders is patronizing in the extreme. Why? Because Muslims are not slow learners who can be held to only a medieval moral standard. Everyone in the world can be expected to know that it is wrong to burn a helpless human being alive, as Islamic State murderers did to a captive Jordanian pilot.”

C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 19, 2015

David Theroux, founder and president of The Independent Institute and the C.S. Lewis Society of California, recently gave a very thoughtful lecture titled C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism.” David’s perceptive analysis of Lewis’s critique of “government as God” is well worth viewing.  The Left continually tells us it knows what’s best and “cares” for us.  Lewis’s riposte to this pretentious excuse for metastasizing state power is compelling: “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”  Take some time to watch David Theroux exposit this key insight and be reminded once again of the wisdom not only of C.S. Lewis but of America’s Founders: We have a limited government precisely because “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The Pope on Family, Marriage and Life

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 16, 2015

As an Evangelical in the classic Reformation tradition, I’m not unaware of the theological distinctions between Catholicism and historic Protestantism. But all defenders of what we at Family Research Council call the “faith, family and freedom” agenda can take heart from these wise and brave words by Pope Francis, given just a few hours ago in a packed arena in Manila. To those who believe the Pope and the church he leads are shifting on these key issues, his remarks are a striking reproof. To those of us unmoved by what he calls “the culture of the ephemeral,” the Pope’s allegiance to the sanctity of life and the unchanging nature of marriage are a breath of fresh air:

Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past ‘No’ to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say “No” to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family … The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life … Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.”

Architecture, Values and the March for Life

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 8, 2015

It is difficult to look at scenes of great universities and historic colleges and not be moved by the architecture portrayed. Traditionally, institutions of higher learning have wanted to display their seriousness of purpose and devotion to great thought and leading-edge research in the buildings they have constructed. Thus, some of the most beautiful public spaces in our country, and indeed the world, are found on American college grounds.

Architecture is important. As Winston Churchill said to the House of Commons during the peak of World War II, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” So consider what contemporary architecture says about today’s halls of knowledge. Edifices crafted out of shiny glass and sharp edges, boxes in which people are warehoused instead of buildings that invite contemplation or ennoble creativity.

What does this say about our culture’s view of human dignity in our time? Of the pursuit of knowledge and the purpose of research?

There’s nothing wrong with utility, but utility without beauty is a form of reductionism: Man as machine whose chief end is output rather than man as image-bearer of God whose chief end is to glorify Him through noble pursuits. The architecture of one’s time displays that time’s values. And the values of our time are deeply troubling.

As is widely recognized, much of modern academic life either is actively and unapologetically anti-Christian or at least so “tolerant” it welcomes the debased and debasing. Yet thankfully, these approaches to truth have not penetrated the hearts and minds of many brave academics and their students.

For example, later this month thousands of college students will mark the grim 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. They will meet to remember the 57 million Americans destroyed in their mothers’ wombs due to the reduction of human value to one of preference, convenience and radical personal and sexual autonomy. Family Research Council will be joining many of them as, together, we participate in the March for Life on the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. on January 22.

If you can’t join us on the date, watch our 10th annual “ProLifeCon” online. ProLifeCon is “the premier conference for the online pro-life community. With new pro-life majorities in both the House and Senate, legislative momentum at the state level, and Americans increasingly identifying with the pro-life movement” FRC believes 2015 will be a year for hope. Listen to pro-life leaders like FRC president Tony Perkins, Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life and many others as they discuss the year ahead and what the pro-life community can do to advance the human dignity agenda in the new year.

At FRC, we celebrate the eternal truth that in His grace, God has made all men and women, from conception until natural death, “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8). The architecture of our building – stately but warm, an edifice designed to remind all who see it of human dignity and personal warmth - is a daily reminder of it.

News Flash: Pornography Hurts Marriage

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 22, 2014

Our friends at the Porn Harms Coalition (of which FRC is a member) have drawn attention to a study that quantifies what every common-sensical person in the world knows intuitively: Viewing pornography discourages and damages marriage. The German Institute for the Study of Labor (apparently the Germans understand that marriage affects labor productivity, as FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute has argued for years) hired researchers at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University and Britain’s Timberlake Consultants to study whether “increasing ease of accessing pornography is an important factor underlying the decline in marriage formation and stability.”

Well, the German-sponsored study found it did: “Substitutes for marital sexual gratification may impact the decision to marry. Proliferation of the Internet has made pornography an increasingly low-cost substitute … We show that increased Internet usage is negatively associated with marriage formation. Pornography consumption specifically has an even stronger effect.”

Pornography as a “low-cost substitute” for marriage? So, are women merely sexual tools for readily-aroused young men? What a comment on how many young men in our time view women! Yet advocates of complete sexual autonomy (over-the-counter contraception for all, for example) refuse to acknowledge this corrosive fact.

We welcome this contribution to the scholarly literature showing that pornography adversely affects getting and staying married. To simplify things, though, ask any pastor, priest or rabbi who’s ever counseled a woman with a boyfriend or husband addicted to pornography. That conversation will prove more unforgettable than even the most riveting study ever can.

For those struggling with addiction to pornography or who want to help those who are, Porn Harms offers great resources. And, remember, Jesus Christ is the greatest resource of all.

An Active President: Obama on the March As the GOP Preps to Run Congress

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 18, 2014

Since last month’s election, the President has been a busy fellow. He’s traveled to China, heralded what he called a “turning point” in American military affairs, “signed a Presidential Memorandum that prohibits future oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay” and land areas near it and announced a new director for the White House Council for Strong Cities, Strong Communities, to boot.

FRC takes no formal position on these issues, or on those that follow (with one exception). Rather, they are listed to make the point that Mr. Obama is not going suddenly to become an inactive Chief Executive. He has an agenda the bulk of which is opposed by conservatives. Regardless, if conservatives think he will simply fold his hands and let the new Republican majorities in House and Senate do as they will, they kid themselves.

Following is a rundown of other significant post-November 4, 2014 actions by Mr. Obama; the last, on international religious liberty, is not explicitly presidential but relates to a key presidential appointment at the Department of State.

Environment: In addition to his largely unnoticed decision regarding Bristol Bay, “Obama’s most recent move is committing the U.S. to a $3 billion contribution to an international fund that seeks to help developing countries address climate change, which he will announce this weekend. It’s the president’s second major climate action in a week, following Wednesday’s announcement of a bilateral climate agreement with China. Under the agreement, the U.S. will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while China will begin reducing its own emissions by 2030.”

Cuba: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the son of Cuban immigrants, gave an eloquent and impassioned critique of the President’s announcement on normalizing relations with Cuba last evening; read his Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Obama decision, as well. The Washington Post also made a potent argument in an op-ed titled, “Obama gives the Castro regime in Cuba an undeserved bailout” (yes, that Washington Post; even a stopped clock is right twice a day): “The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.”

Immigration: With respect to his Executive Order on immigration, my personal take is not on the content of the orders but instead their basis in the U.S. Constitution: “Mr. Obama hasn’t gotten what he wants, so he is acting like a monarch unconstrained by legality. This is not constitutional, republican governance. It is something else altogether – something that should evoke in everyone who values his Constitution-based liberty apprehension about what might come next.”

Internet: “Net neutrality” demands a bit more explaining. Mr. Obama has asked “the Federal Communications Commission to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility,” writes Michael Hendrix in National Review. “All Internet traffic would be treated equally, no matter the size or pace of demand. Net neutrality is a relatively young concept based on the much older notion of ‘common carriage,’ which required providers of basic infrastructure to offer common service to all.”

Yet as Nancy Scola notes in the Washington Post, At the center of the debate is a service known as IANA, or the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. Operating almost entirely out of the public eye, IANA keeps tabs on the numerical directory that makes sure the global Internet runs smoothly.” And, Scola continues, though “Republicans in Congress managed to slip a provision into the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate this (past) weekend that would prevent the Obama administration from giving up part of its oversight of how the Internet runs. Observers say, though, that there’s little chance that the GOP’s legislative language will actually slow the process at all.

Religious Liberty: FRC does take a position on international religious liberty: We’re absolutely, unequivocally for it. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein to be the State Department’s new U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. In his comments at his Senate confirmation hearing in September, the Rabbi said, “Religious freedom faces daunting and alarming challenges worldwide,” Saperstein said at his confirmation hearing in September. “If confirmed, I will do everything within my abilities and influence to engage every sector of the State Department and the rest of the U.S. government to integrate religious freedom into our nation’s statecraft and foreign policies.”

Amen. Christians should be praying for the Rabbi and his team as they work to advance religious liberty around the world. It’s in the interest of our country, not to mention one of the great moral imperatives of our time.

This President means no less business today than he did on January 20, 2009. That means that conservatives will have to think carefully about how we advance our priorities on issues involving faith, family and freedom in the coming two years leading up to the next presidential election. We have to consider our larger strategy as well as issue-specific tactics and also decide what our priorities are and aren’t.

Conservative leaders and activists are, of course, doing this. Let’s hope they coalesce around what issues are of highest importance and then move forward both boldly and wisely, aware that President Obama is a shrewd and determined political foe.

It’s not enough to be right. We also have to be smart.

 

Schwarzwalder previously was chief-of-staff for two Members of Congress and was a presidential appointee in the George W. Bush Administration.

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