Month Archives: August 2021

So You’ve Decided to Homeschool – Now What?

by Abigail Ross

August 31, 2021

After hours of consideration, prayer, and discussion, you decided, “Yes. I’m going to do it. I’m going to homeschool my children.” If this is you, you’re not alone. American homeschooling households have more than doubled since 2020. Why? For many parents, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to evaluate what America’s public schools have been teaching their children—and it’s terrifying. Radical sex education, LGBT ideologies, and critical race theory are some of the progressive ideas being pressed upon schoolchildren. After realizing what public schools are including in their curricula, many parents are refusing to sit back and let their children be indoctrinated. But that’s not the only reason parents are deciding to homeschool.

Deuteronomy 6:7 commands parents to teach their children about the Lord. The Bible teaches that parents are to be the chief disciple-makers in their home. This obligation takes on added significance when you consider research from George Barna demonstrating that a person’s worldview starts developing between 15 to 18 months and is set by 13. Homeschooling allows parents to choose curricula grounded in God’s truth.

Homeschooling allows parents freedom over their child’s education. The best structured education is one that meets the needs of each individual child; homeschooling allows parents to tailor the content and method of teaching to best fit their child. You are the expert on your child, and schooling them at home is an incredible opportunity for your child to learn from the teacher who knows them best—you.

Making the decision to homeschool is the first step in a wonderful journey. Those first couple of steps, however, can be overwhelming. But have no fear. Take it one day at a time, and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way as a homeschooling parent. What follows are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started.

Know and Follow the Legal Requirements

The first consideration when getting started with homeschooling is to research your state’s homeschooling laws. Each state has different legal requirements for homeschooling. For example, some states require parents to notify the state of their intent to homeschool and submit their curricula. Some states may even require educational qualifications for homeschooling parents, while others have little or no formal requirements. The Homeschool Legal Defense Agency (HSLDA) has an interactive state map that lists the legal requirements, information on withdrawing from public school, and other resources for each state. Researching your state’s requirements should be done as early as possible, as some states require parents to declare their intent to homeschool by a certain date. Once the decision to homeschool is finalized (in your house and in the eyes of the state), then it’s time to plan the logistics of your new classroom.

Find a Community

One of the most common pieces of advice veteran homeschooling parents give new homeschooling families is to connect with other homeschooling families. These families have been in your shoes and can share their experiences and what they have learned. Ask around and see if there’s a homeschooling family at your church. Join local homeschooling social media groups. Research homeschool groups or co-ops in your area and reach out to them. The Homeschool Mom has a useful search tool to find local homeschool groups in your state. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this alone. In fact, it’s best not to. Be intentional about building community. Relationships with other families can be one of the most beneficial and rewarding aspects of homeschooling. These families can help you navigate the legal requirements, plan, and give you insider knowledge of local resources or activities. Beyond the sharing of knowledge, connecting with other families establishes a support system and fosters friendships between both parents and children.

Develop a Vision

Now it’s time to dive into the details. How will your day look? First, think broadly and develop a vision. Ask yourself, what do you hope to accomplish by homeschooling? Start with why you decided to homeschool in the first place. Your vision will guide the decisions you make with planning and teaching. Ask yourself, “How does my child best learn?” “What environment is most conducive to learning for my child?” With your answers in mind, think through the best way to organize your school day. Some families choose to use a specific method (or several methods) of homeschooling. There are several different methods of homeschooling. Existing methods can be a helpful resource, but homeschooling also allows parents to organize their days in the way that works best for their family. If one method doesn’t work for your family, then try another. Ultimately, homeschooling is about educating your child in the way that works best for them, so be flexible and willing to try something different. Continuously go back to your “why,” your vision. Let your educational choices flow from that vision.

Select Curricula

As a homeschool parent, you have the autonomy to create your own curricula or to outsource. There is a vast amount of homeschool curricula available, including textbooks, teacher-led courses with daily lessons, and classes offered online or in person. 

Researching curricula can be overwhelming, as there are so many different options available. Use resources to narrow it down. Ask other families which curriculum they love. Research online. Cathy Duffy Reviews provides reviews of homeschool curriculum and is a great resource to help pare down all the options. HSLDA also has a list of free or inexpensive homeschool curriculum.

Keep in mind—if something isn’t working, you have the power to change it. As a parent, you are the expert on your child. Homeschooling gives you the unique opportunity to customize your child’s learning to challenge them in areas in which they excel and to provide additional support in areas where they may struggle. Know that you don’t need to be constrained by the grade number printed on the cover of a textbook. Choose curricula that will work for your child, in whatever stage they’re in.

Make a Plan for Success 

Planning encompasses looking long-term and thinking through the year, as well as daily lesson plans. Set aside time before the school year to plan out the pacing of your year. Setting goals and checkpoints throughout the year is a great way to stay on track. Build in breaks, vacations, and time for field trips. Map out generally where you want to be. Then begin planning your school days. You can plan a month in advance, a week in advance, or even the morning of. Begin by determining how your day-to-day will look. Will you study subjects in the same order each day? Will you dedicate x amount of time to each subject? Or will you go lesson by lesson? Then write out what you hope to accomplish each day and how. Use a planner, calendar, or to-do list with your child. This visually shows them what they will be accomplishing that day.

Something to keep in mind as you plan and begin schooling—give yourself grace. Your home is unique, and your children are each unique. It might take some time to get into a rhythm. Some days they’ll be hyper-focused and accomplish everything on their to-do list by lunch. Other days, they might struggle to get through one lesson. It’s okay. Some days, life lessons are just as important as school lessons. So, take it one day at a time.

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. There will be days when your home is filled with happiness, your children diligently accomplish their schoolwork, and they love learning. And there will be days when you want nothing more than to stop homeschooling. In those moments, allow grace for yourself and your children. If a negative pattern emerges, try something new. Each child is unique, and what works for one child may not work for another. As their parent, you’re the most qualified person to determine what your child’s needs are and how to meet them.

Remember that homeschooling is a season. Some families homeschool their children through high school. For others, their homeschooling season may only last a year or less. And that’s okay. Embrace this season while you’re in it. You won’t always be able to monitor what your children are learning. Take this opportunity to help build their foundation.

Under your tutelage, your child can learn the precepts of a biblical worldview. Teach them first and foremost about Jesus Christ. Be encouraged that you are practically fulfilling God’s command to parents in Genesis 6:5-7 (ESV), which says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Homeschooling is a wonderful opportunity. Pray and ask the Lord if homeschooling is right for your family. Talk with your family. Talk to other homeschooling families. If this is what you’re being called to, then welcome to the beginning of your homeschooling journey. 

Abby Ross is digital content editor at Family Research Council. She was homeschooled through high school and is a certified high school English teacher.

Cuomo’s Disgrace Should Not Surprise Anyone

by Joy Zavalick

August 31, 2021

The disgraced former governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was deftly swept out of the forefront of the news last week when his former lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, was sworn in as the state’s 57th governor. With the media busy celebrating the establishment of the state’s first female governor, the troubling administration of the past 10 years has been allowed to fade into the shadows.

However, it is important to recognize the shameful legacy Cuomo leaves behind him. The sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic are only the latest indications of a pattern of disregard for the wellbeing of women and the dignity of human life throughout his decade as governor.

For example, a defining moment of Cuomo’s political career occurred in 2019 when he championed the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the default abortion standards of Roe v. Wade in New York. This law provided a route for women to receive late term abortions by removing restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks. This law also effectively allows a woman to access abortion up until the point of birth, so long as she claims her pregnancy poses a risk to her life or health. Because the law failed to clearly define what standards qualified as a threat to the mother’s health, women in New York can use any degree of mental or emotional stress to obtain a late-term abortion.

The law Cuomo signed also repealed the section of the New York public health code that provided protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt. In combination with the expansion of opportunities for women to receive traumatizing late-term abortions, it is clear that the Reproductive Health Act undermines the human dignity of unborn children, abortion survivors, and mothers.

This law is particularly relevant as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade by considering whether states can create pre-viability restrictions on abortion. Because the Reproductive Health Act codified abortion rights in the state, New Yorkers would maintain access to abortion even if the Court overturned Roe.

To celebrate the ghoulish late-term abortion law’s passage, Cuomo ordered the One World Trade Center to be lit up pink. This revelry in unrestricted access to abortion contradicted what Cuomo claimed to be his personal morality, as he stated, “I have my own Catholic beliefs, how I live my life […] That is my business as a Catholic. I don’t govern as a Catholic.”

Cuomo further demonstrated his lack of respect for human life in 2020 when he placed COVID-positive patients in New York nursing homes, jeopardizing the lives of elderly residents who were already at increased risk of contracting the virus. His team has since attempted to cover up the number of elderly people who died as a result of this careless move. In her first week as governor, Hochul has already released an updated COVID mortality statistic, showing an additional 12,000 deaths that Cuomo kept hidden from the public as recently as last Monday. Cuomo proved that he has no regard for the dignity of the human person from the beginning to the end of life; it is no surprise, then, to discover his harassment of those at the stages in between as well.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Former Governor Cuomo is reaping the consequences for his consistently unethical behavior throughout his tenure in office. The signs have always been there—he has been sowing his disgrace before the eyes of the nation the whole time. When politicians show their true colors in their policy decisions, we ought not to be shocked when their unethical and immoral behavior in private is revealed.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Chastity

by Molly Carman

August 31, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part seven of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, and temperance.

Properly defined, chastity is intentionally choosing to refrain from immoral sexual activity. Immoral sexual activity can be defined as physical acts with or entertaining sexual thoughts about people who are not one’s spouse. This virtue applies to married couples and singles alike.

It is important to note that virginity is not synonymous with being chaste. It is possible to be a chaste, sexually active married person; it is also possible to be an unchaste virgin. That’s because chastity is primarily concerned with respecting others and cherishing and honoring the sanctity of marriage. Chastity has less to do with whether or not someone is sexually active and more to do with their behavior in and outside of marriage.

From the first marriage of Adam and Eve in the garden, God created sexual desire to motivate men and women to enter the sacred covenant relationship of marriage, which is reserved for one man and one woman and is intended to be for life. Marriage is a good gift from God; it should be delighted in and protected. Scripture tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). It is good, natural, and beautiful for a husband and wife to be intimately united together as one flesh (Gen. 2:24). As Paul explains, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:3).

Chastity requires refraining from entertaining sexual thoughts and engaging in sexual acts while not married, and when married, remaining faithful to one’s spouse (Job 31:1). Habits of chastity can include dressing modestly, being self-controlled in dating relationships, looking to Jesus for our ultimate satisfaction, and not using others for our physical or sexual pleasure. For those who are married, chastity includes the giving of oneself to a spouse and honoring them and God with one’s body, heart, and mind.

Chastity’s opposite is the vice of lust, and it plagues both men and women. In the final chapter of her book Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung describes lust and how it distorts us, noting:

Lust makes sexual pleasure all about me. It is a self-gratification project…In lust, sexual pleasure is divorced from love and mutual self-giving. And when we lust we certainly want nothing to do with giving life and the future commitments that might bring…I want my pleasure, says the lustful one, and I want it now.

Lust wants all of the pleasures but none of the responsibility that accompanies sexual desire. Lust is unable to give of itself; it only takes. It takes away from the beauty of the unity between a man and a woman, the gift of new life, and the commitment of a covenant union before God.

The vice of lust has plagued humanity throughout history. But today, in our auditory and visually stimulated and pornography-saturated society that prizes anonymity, there are more temptations than ever to succumb to the temptations of lust. Moreover, television commercials, shows, movies, billboards, social media advertisements, and sexually suggestive songs reinforce the notion that modesty and chastity are concepts from an old-fashioned, bygone era. But for Christians who take their cues from Scripture rather than the culture, it is important to remember that God’s standard hasn’t changed. In fact, the standard of purity outlined in God’s Word is still binding on followers of Jesus (Mat. 5:28).

Unlike our secular culture, which either mocks chastity or declares it impossible, Scripture places a tremendous value on the virtue of chastity. For example, Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter” (1 Thess. 4:3-6a). Lust does not honor the image of God in others or who God has called us to be as ambassadors for Christ.

Rather than indulge in the passions of the flesh, Christians are exhorted to “walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:13-14). Lust says “yes” to the old self and the desires of sinful flesh, but chastity says “yes” to the new self which is in Christ Jesus. Like all virtues, chastity requires courage to walk away, to close one’s eyes, and renew one’s mind (Rom. 12:1) for the glory of God and the honor of others.

Throughout this series on virtue and vice, we have considered what it means for a Christian to put on the new self. As we seek to become more like Christ, we must courageously resolve to fight against the vices in our lives, which represent the old self, and put on kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity, which befit the new self. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 22)

by Family Research Council

August 27, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Blog: Explainer: What the Taliban Takeover Means for Afghan Believers

Open Doors, a ministry that supports persecuted Christians around the world, considers Afghanistan to be only slightly less hostile to Christianity than North Korea. Now, following the Taliban takeover, the Christian community in Afghanistan is under heightened pressure. The last few priests remaining in the country are hoping to flee, and underground Christians are fearing their own deaths.

2. Blog: “They Need a Miracle”: Pray for the People of Afghanistan

It is difficult to ignore the tragedy currently unfolding in Afghanistan. Following President Biden’s decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops, Taliban fighters have taken over the capital, causing the president to flee. Civilians not wanting to live under Taliban rule rushed to the airport in Kabul, desperate to make it onto one of the last planes leaving the country.

3. Blog: Taliban Takeover Brings New Hardships for Afghan Women

The Taliban is trying to convince the rest of the world that they will respect human rights, including women’s. But the women of Afghanistan aren’t buying this for a second, and neither should the rest of the world.

4. Blog: A Closer Look at Virtue: Temperance

Virtue can be defined as moral excellence. Unfortunately, in a fallen world, virtue does not come naturally. But as we’ve seen in this series on virtue, through common and special grace, Christians can foster and grow in virtue. Temperance is the practice of self-restraint and moderation; it teaches us to master our appetites—food and otherwise—and order them in a manner pleasing to God.

5. Washington Watch: Jeremy Barker, Liz Murrill, Bob Good, David Closson

Joseph Backholm was joined by Jeremy Barker of the Religious Freedom Institute to discuss President Biden’s speech regarding the evacuations in Afghanistan and the implications of the situation in Afghanistan for religious freedom. Liz Murrill, Louisiana Solicitor General, praised the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for upholding a Texas law banning dismemberment abortions. Bob Good, U.S. Representative for Virginia, talked about his newly introduced Teleabortion Prevention Act. And, David Closson, Director of FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview, shared what a recent survey found to be the most seductive, but unbiblical, beliefs Americans embrace.

6. Washington Watch: Terry Jeffrey, Rex Rogers, Ken Blackwell, Kim Colby, Russell Evenson

Joseph Backholm was joined by Terry Jeffrey, editor-in-chief for CNS News, to discuss the far-reaching ramifications of the Afghanistan crisis. Rex Rogers, President of SAT-7, a Middle East media ministry, talked about the persecution that Afghan Christians are facing from the Taliban. Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights, discussed the House of Representatives approving H.R. 4, a federal takeover of America’s elections. Kim Colby, of the Christian Legal Society, warned that President Biden’s Department of Education is poised to revoke protections for campus faith groups. And, Russell Evenson, of the World Outreach Worship Center, shared his efforts to organize turnout at the Newport, Virginia school board meeting in opposition to the state’s transgender school policy.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Critical Race Theory

As America’s children head back to school, many parents are wary of what their kids may hear in the classroom. Critical race theory (CRT) and other radical ideologies have crept into school systems. Earlier this summer, Tony Perkins and experts discussed what CRT is, what parents can do to protect their children, and how Christians and the church can respond to CRT.

Taliban Takeover Brings New Hardships for Afghan Women

by Arielle Del Turco

August 26, 2021

The Taliban is trying to convince the rest of the world that they will respect human rights, including women’s. But the women of Afghanistan aren’t buying this for a second, and neither should the rest of the world.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid recently warned women to stay inside their homes, saying, “We are worried our forces who are new and have not been yet trained very well may mistreat women.” Some Afghan women fear that the supposedly temporary measure of keeping women indoors will remain in place.

This comes after Mujahid promised last week that women “will be given all their rights within Sharia “the Islamic laws.” However, it’s wrong to put qualifiers on human rights. If Afghan women’s equality is based on the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia law, then they are not truly equal at all. The women who remember life under the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan from 1996-2001 know this better than anyone.

Previously under Taliban rule, women could not work outside the home in most instances, leave the house without a male guardian, or receive a proper education. This is a reality that Afghan women don’t want to revert to.

After the Taliban was defeated in 2001, Afghan women began a long struggle for basic freedoms and opportunities. Trailblazing women entered and succeeded in many sectors of Afghan society. They went to college, started businesses, and thrived when given the opportunity.

But the effects of Taliban rule were long-lasting, and the journey for women’s rights in Afghanistan over the past 20 years was difficult and still a work in progress in the male-dominated culture. Now, women fear a return to the way they were forced to live in the 1990s.

Many young women, especially those living in urban areas and who were too young to remember the previous Taliban rule, grew up with the expectation of receiving an education and having the opportunity for a career. When Afghanistan quickly fell to the Taliban, these women’s dreams were crushed.

Some who used to work outside the home now fear they will be punished for it. Author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reported that a young woman who visited a makeshift camp in Kabul filled with families who fled Taliban fighters in northern Afghanistan stated that, “Girls who had duty out of house [are] in greater risk, because [the Taliban] recognized them and then they punish, they ask you are Muslim why are you working out of you[r] home.”

Niloofar Rahmani, the first female Afghan air force pilot, worries that the Taliban might harm women who served in the Afghan Air Force as retribution. She has been a Taliban target herself. “They wanted to kill me just for what I have done, so I know what [Afghan women] are going through.”

Afghan women might lose the opportunity to have a career and even have a basic education.

Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, spoke with a room full of Afghan women on August 10, 2021. She said, “The Taliban talks about how it’s changed now and girls can go to school, but I asked if any of these girls will be going to school, and I was told ‘Absolutely not. Girls don’t go to school.’” When pressed about why they would not be going to school, the women replied that the “Taliban says it’s bad.”

Worst of all, some Afghans who fled into Kabul from Taliban-held areas prior to the group’s takeover of the city claimed that Taliban fighters were demanding that communities surrender their unmarried women to become wives for fighters, essentially treating these women as sex slaves. This is a terrifying possibility for any family.

It remains to be seen what life will look like exactly for Afghan women and girls under the Taliban in the coming months. Yet, many are scared and facing an unimaginable future. Careers will be destroyed, young women’s safety is at risk, and hope for young girls’ futures is diminishing. 

U.S. leaders and intelligence officials knew how bad the Taliban would be, especially for women. When President Biden withdrew from Afghanistan, knowing what the consequences would be, was he also giving up on women’s rights in Afghanistan? Afghan women have just been sent back in time 20 years, and they have a long road ahead of them to reclaim their basic freedoms once again.

Every single woman in Afghanistan is created in the image of God, possesses inherent human dignity, and deserves to be treated with respect and honor. Pray that they will be.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Temperance

by Molly Carman

August 26, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part six of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, charity, and patience.

Virtue can be defined as moral excellence. Someone is seen as virtuous if they exhibit morally good traits and qualities. Unfortunately, in a fallen world, virtue does not come naturally. But as we’ve seen in this series on virtue, through common and special grace, Christians can foster and grow in virtue. The next virtue we will consider is temperance (also known as self-control). Temperance is the practice of self-restraint and moderation; it teaches us to master our appetites—food and otherwise—and order them in a manner pleasing to God.

Food is necessary for life. But in His kindness, God also made eating pleasurable. People often gather around food for times of fellowship and to celebrate special occasions. Food also plays a significant role in the Christian life, as believers we are commanded to take communion together in remembrance of Christ’s work on the cross (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

But although gathering for meals is often a source of great joy, the good gift of food comes with its own set of temptations, particularly the temptation to overindulge. Proverbs 26:16 warns, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Temperance, which teaches us proper moderation, helps us resist the temptations of a disordered appetite.

Temperance is simultaneously a physical and spiritual discipline. When we practice temperance, we glorify God with our bodies. As Paul reminded the Corinthian church:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

Spiritual formation should affect all areas of life, including our physical habits. Learning to be temperate in our eating and delight in it as a good gift from God is a hard practice but a necessary one, and it begins by considering what kind of food and how much of it is good for the body.

Fasting is a habit used for cultivating the virtue of temperance. Many church denominations and traditions incorporate fasting into their liturgical calendars, Lent being the best-known example. Fasting does not necessarily have to be from food. We can fast from any number of things, including social media, entertainment, or shopping. However, these activities are not essential to life; we could live without them and be perfectly fine. But fasting from food is unique in that it increases the physical ache that reminds us that “man does not live by bread alone” (Deut. 8:3, Mat. 4:4). This exercise increases our knowledge of dependency on God for life and satisfaction. It is He alone who sustains us (Ps. 54:4).

The temptation to overindulge is often manifested in the vice of gluttony, which misleads us into seeking food or other material things for comfort. Philippians 3:19 demonstrates this folly, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Rebecca DeYoung echoes this scriptural warning in her book Glittering Vices when she explains, “The glutton eats for himself, and his mission is to gratify his own appetites. His mission is ‘pleasure first,’ and he orders the rest of his life around that goal. His god is his belly, and he serves it faithfully.”

It needs to be noted that food deprivation isn’t necessarily virtuous. In fact, a disordered relationship with food can lead us to overeat or undereat. Currently, over a third of the American population is considered to be clinically obese. Meanwhile, many intentionally starve themselves. There are a variety of causes for these conditions, a spiritually disordered relationship with food among them. When we overeat or undereat specifically out of a desire for comfort or control, we neglect to acknowledge God’s goodness, sufficiency, and authority.

Gluttony tempts us to rely on physical food and objects for happiness and satisfaction. It pleads “just one more” but is never satisfied. On the other hand, temperance says “enough” and encourages us to rely more on spiritual food and the gifts of God for satisfaction and fulfillment. Gluttony will tempt us to believe food is not a good gift from God. It will disorder our relationship with food to the point of deprivation and a desire for control. Temperance reminds us that God is in control and teaches us to delight in God’s blessings.

Critical Race Theory and the Path to Truth

by Joseph Backholm

August 25, 2021

Some see the debate over Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a disagreement between those who think racism is real and those who do not. But this is not the case. Thoughtful critics of CRT understand that it is not merely a tool for understanding the history of racism. Rather, CRT’s oppressor/oppressed framework is a way of understanding and interpreting the world—one that is significantly in conflict with a biblical worldview because it offers a different understanding of truth.

For Christians, God is the source of truth, and His truth is revealed to us in Scripture. But proponents of CRT see truth differently. They see the “right versus wrong” view of the world as part of the oppressive systems they seek to overthrow. Consider the following comments from an advocate of CRT:

Heterosexual white men in this society tend to have a dualistic view of the world: we are either right or wrong, winners or losers. There is only one truth, and we will fight with one another to determine whose truth is right. To understand oppression requires that we accept others’ experiences as truthful, even though they may be very different from ours. To live with equality in a diverse, pluralistic society, we have to accept the fact that all groups and individuals have a legitimate claim to what is true and real for them

– Cooper Thompson, “Can White Men Understand Oppression?” Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, p. 478

From this perspective, experience guides us to truth, and what is truth for me might not be truth for you. From a biblical perspective, this kind of thinking is very dangerous because our feelings about reality often conflict with reality. Scripture tells us that our feelings can deceive us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9, ESV). Furthermore, Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mk. 7:20-23).

The Bible constantly reminds us that our feelings can align with reality but often do not. Even though the accuser might condemn us, Scripture says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). In addition, the moments in which we feel most self-satisfied are the moments we are reminded to “humble yourselves therefore before the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6).

Endorsing multiple, subjective versions of truth is not the only way CRT conflicts with the Bible’s understanding of truth. This 2018 tweet from Union Seminary in New York City (not to be confused with other institutions named Union) illustrates that for some, critical theory becomes the standard through which Scripture is interpreted. The seminary said, “While divinely inspired, we deny the Bible is inerrant or infallible. It was written by men over centuries and thus reflects both God’s truth and human sin & prejudice. We affirm that biblical scholarship and critical theory help us discern which messages are God’s.”

When you use critical theory to interpret the Bible, you give it a higher authority in your life than Scripture. 

CRT also encourages us to apply different moral standards based on the racial identity of the people involved. This was made evident in a controversy over a series of tweets from a former New York Times editor named Sarah Jeong.

When the Times hired Jeong in 2018 her Twitter history surfaced, including tweets that said the following:  

Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” July 2014

Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins.” December 2014

At a minimum, these tweets were unkind, and should they have been directed at any other ethnic group, they would have been universally decried as racist. Does directing them at white people make them not racist? By the standards of CRT, yes. This perspective was articulated by Zach Beauchamp, a writer at the left-wing outlet Vox.  Discussing the dustup, he argued that “The underlying power structure in American society” is what differentiates these tweets from “actual racism.” In other words, these tweets weren’t “racist” because they targeted the race that CRT deemed it acceptable to be hateful toward.

This view of morality stands in direct contrast with Scripture, which tells us that God will judge each of us for our actions. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10). There are no exceptions or allowances for sin based on our skin color or that of the people we might offend. “God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done’” (Rom. 2:6, NIV) and, unlike humans, He shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11, 10:12; Col. 3:25).

Because of the persecution faced by first century Christians, Paul told the church to “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14). Likewise, Jesus told us how to respond to those who wrong us: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 5:44). The reason for this is that loving people who love us is unexceptional. As Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32).

So, we see that CRT is not merely a tool to evaluate the sin of racism. CRT offers a worldview that is incompatible with Scripture and the way God has called us to live.  

How to Prevent Divorce Before It Happens

by Dan Hart

August 25, 2021

There are close to 800,000 divorces every year in America, which is roughly one every 36 seconds. About 74 percent of divorced or separated adults are Christian.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to think about this. Despite the clear teaching of Christ against divorce (except in the most serious of circumstances) in Mark 10:2-12 and Matthew 19:3-9, divorce is astonishingly common among believers.

It’s safe to say that when it comes to divorce, Christians have let American secular culture take root in their own homes. After no-fault divorce laws became the norm nationwide beginning in the 1960’s, the divorce rate more than doubled over a 20-year span from 1960 to 1980. While the rate has fallen in the decades since then, America still has one of the highest rates of any country in the developed world.  

As social science has found, divorce negatively impacts almost everything that matters, including family relationships, religious practice, education, the marketplace, government, and overall health and well-being.

What is most tragic is how divorce has affected our nation’s children. By the 1970s, about half of all children born to married parents witnessed their divorce. While this figure has improved somewhat since then, there are still over 5.8 million children currently living with single divorced parents in America, with millions more adult children of divorce currently going about their lives with a hidden and deeply embedded wound within their souls. In the book Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, one adult child of divorce said this:

For a long, long time, I felt like a tree that was uprooted with its roots dangling above ground. I can even remember saying it aloud to people. I had deep-seated feelings of low self-worth and fell more deeply into sin … Words that are, for me, synonymous with divorce [are]: major upheaval, trauma, destabilization, departure, heartbreak, and bad example.

As this quote illustrates, a child of divorce often feels rootless and torn “between two worlds.” Since the child is the literal incarnation of the union of their mother and father, when the union is severed, the child feels interiorly split. The effect that divorce has on children is profound, and the wounds can last a lifetime. Thankfully, there are both evangelical and Catholic ministries focused on healing for adult children of divorce.

But what if there was a way to preempt divorce before it happens?

The Crucial Importance of Marriage Preparation

In the church, a certain “hands-off” approach has seeped its way into the ministry of preparing couples for “the single most important human relationship,” as Dr. Pat Fagan has written. This unfortunate pattern, which is a byproduct of secularization, gives dating and engaged couples the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the couples’ actual readiness to vow themselves to each other for the rest of their lives before God, their families, and their friends. In our current culture of dwindling marriages, many churches are thrilled just to have a couple—any couple—come to them asking to get married in their church. In their eagerness, it’s understandable that pastors and church leaders are hesitant to require these couples to complete a rigorous marriage preparation program that may scare them off.

Nevertheless, when we consider what is at stake with marriage and the tragic consequences and prevalence of divorce, it is clear that churches must prioritize the essential ministry of marriage preparation.

Why is marriage preparation so important for engaged couples? A primary reason is that, if done effectively, it can help uncover deep-seated tendencies and familial wounds that may not be fully known to one or both partners. If the couple is not, at a minimum, aware of these tendencies and wounds in each other before tying the knot, they can easily negatively manifest themselves in the first few years or even many years into the marriage and blindside the couple, potentially causing serious conflict that can increase the likelihood of divorce.

Additionally, as Alan Hawkins and Tiffany Clyde have written, it is particularly important for the current generation of young adults to receive effective marriage preparation. This is because millennials and Generation Z have grown up in a culture of rampant individualism, commitment ambivalence and devaluation, premarital sex, and pornography to a degree that was not experienced by prior generations. These negative tendencies lead to marital dissatisfaction and increase the risk of divorce, making it all the more imperative for currently engaged couples to unlearn cultural influences before matrimony.

The Advantages of Couple-to-Couple Mentorship

While there are many evangelical and Catholic marriage preparation programs out there that churches can follow, one of the best and most proven methods is for the engaged couple to be actively mentored by a veteran married couple, ideally from their own church congregation. There are several distinct advantages of couple-to-couple mentorship:

  • When an engaged couple is able to spend quality time with a veteran married couple (ideally a couple that they already know and admire from their church congregation, as pioneered by the Witness to Love program), they can develop a comfortable rapport and build trust with each other, which will lead to more fruitful, deeper, and more practical conversations about the challenges, joys, and expectations of marriage.
  • An additional benefit of couple-to-couple mentorship is the possibility of the veteran couple hosting the engaged couple in their home for their marriage prep sessions, which gives the engaged couple an inside look at married life and is a great way to demystify it and build realistic expectations.
  • This kind of couple-to-couple mentorship is also ideal for ongoing discipleship after the wedding day. In the words of one pastor, mentorship “connects [newlyweds] not only to the [church], but also to a support system that basically fosters ongoing activity in the [church] long after we do marriage preparation.”
  • Mentor couples can also become “first-responders” if the couples they mentor are struggling in their marriages. As believers, we all have this same duty to support marriages that may be in crisis in our circles of influence.

Let’s Renew Our Focus on Marriage Ministry

Effective divorce prevention is rooted in top-notch marriage preparation, but it doesn’t end there. Crisis marriages that are at their breaking point don’t have to result in divorce, contrary to what the culture might say. There are a host of programs, retreats, and resources offered by  Live the Life, Focus on the Family, Retrouvaille, and many more which can be implemented at or facilitated by your church that can help couples on the brink of divorce save their marriages.

The bottom line is that the church can and does help lessen the scourge of divorce in America, but it can always do better. As believers, we can be the catalysts for a marriage ministry revival in our churches. If you are happily married, talk to your spouse and prayerfully consider becoming a mentor couple for engaged couples at your church. If your church doesn’t have a formal marriage preparation program or resources for marriages in crisis, talk to your pastor about providing them.

As Christians, let’s renew our focus on ministering to marriage—the single most important human relationship.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Patience

by Molly Carman

August 24, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part five of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, and charity.

Patience is the capacity to accept delay, suffering, or interruptions in a reasonable and prudent manner. This virtue encourages measured and appropriate responses to comments, critiques, challenges, or criticisms. It encourages us to wait, take a step back if necessary, and consider the full implications of a decision before proceeding. In the Bible, Jesus fully embodied this virtue. He overlooked arrogance from religious leaders, did not criticize or condemn the skeptical, listened to the desperate, and endured much suffering. Patience is selfless; it prioritizes relationships over immediate personal wants and desires.

Patience is ultimately an expression of love. In On the Morals of the Catholic Church, XV.25, Thomas Aquinas wrote, “I hold that virtue is nothing other than perfect love of God.” In 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known passage about love, Paul begins by saying, “Love is patient.” It is noteworthy that Paul says love is patient before he says love is anything else. Cultivating the virtue of patience is part of learning how to truly love God and other people.

The first habit of patience is learning to be patient with ourselves as Christ sanctifies us to become more like him. The second habit of patience is learning to be patient towards others and extend loving kindness towards them. And finally, the third habit of patience is rejoicing in the truth of God’s love and patience towards us as we persevere in the faith.

Anger, the opposing vice of patience, is often referred to as wrath. But these are not entirely the same, because anger can be an appropriate response in certain circumstances—but only when it is a measured response and not brash. Wrathfulness, on the other hand, is a disproportionate and immature response to a situation. In Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung says that the primary concern with this vice “is that anger so disturbs reason that it twists any real concern about sin or injustice into service of self—protecting our own ego, demanding something from the world we would not reasonably expect from anyone else, feeding our own reputations for righteousness instead of admitting our complicity. True selflessness would eliminate anger.” DeYoung agrees with Aquinas, who believed that wrath inhibits the virtue of patience. When we are wrathful, we get angry too easily or quickly, are disproportionately angry, or stay angry for longer than is appropriate. In contrast, patience waits to respond, discerns a reasonable response, and is quick to forgive.

Many Scripture passages commend the virtue of patience. A few examples:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (Prov. 15:18)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Prov. 19:11)

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. (Ps. 37:8)

Notably, the Bible refers to God’s wrath in several places. For example, the prophet Nahum wrote:

A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; the Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. (Nahum 1:2)

However, it is important to remember that whenever Scripture refers to God being angry or displaying His wrath, it is always a proportionate response to human sin and wickedness. Moreover, the Bible is quick to affirm that although God displays His wrath against sin, He is also “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh.9:31; Ps. 86:5, 15; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). God is angered by sin, but He never sins in His anger.

As Christians, we must learn to be imitators of God in regard to how we manage our anger (Eph. 5:1, 4:26). We must practice not being easily angered (Ecc. 7:9) or unreasonable in our response towards situations and/or individuals (Col. 4:6).

Patience means setting aside our pride and humbling ourselves to be teachable and gracious. If we want to become patient, we should practice it in our lives, paying special attention to the opportunities we are given to practice patience every day. We should also pray specifically for patience. When we pray for patience, we should pray for courage to enter every conversation and situation with kindness, humility, diligence, and charity. The virtuous life is interwoven; we must practice all the virtues, and all the virtues encourage the practice of each other.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of August 15)

by Family Research Council

August 20, 2021

Here are “The 7” top trending items at FRC over the past seven days:

1. Blog: 5 Ways to Pray for the People of Afghanistan

The scenes coming out of Afghanistan are horrific. People are so desperate to flee that they would cling to the exteriors of airplanes as they are taking off, with some tragically falling to their deaths. A young woman in tears dreading the Taliban rule says, “No one cares about us. We’ll die slowly in history.” Being confronted with such tragedies must drive us to our knees in prayer.

2. Blog: The Tragic Irony of Simone Biles’ Support for Abortion

Simone Biles is in the news once again. After winning two Olympic medals in Tokyo and initiating an important conversation about athletes and mental health, the gymnast used her social media platform on Monday to express support for abortion. Given Biles’ Catholic faith and personal experience in the foster care system, her comments reveal an important disconnect in the gymnasts’ worldview.

3. Blog: University of Pittsburgh Succumbs to Moral Depravity

The University of Pittsburgh continues to demonstrate the depths of human depravity through their unethical experimentation on human fetal tissue derived from abortions. In a horrifying twist, new reports have emerged showing that the university is extracting organs from viable preborn or born infants for use in its GenitoUrinary Developmental Molecular Anatomy Project (GUDMAP).

4. Blog: “Christianity Is Neither Left Nor Right,” Part 1: Why This Phrase Is Misleading

It is a phrase so common today in evangelical circles that you barely notice it anymore. “Christianity is neither left nor right.” Thoughtful people say it. Unthoughtful people say it. Many say it, but hardly anyone evaluates it. It is an important question, though: is this phrase true?

5. Washington Watch: Jerry Boykin, Bob Fu, Tom Kilgannon, Ken Blackwell

Joseph Backholm was joined by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, FRC’s Executive Vice President and former commander of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, to discuss the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Bob Fu, Founder and President of China Aid Association and FRC’s Senior Fellow for International Religious Freedom, talked about the Associated Press’s investigative report showing that China is using black sites outside its borders. Tom Kilgannon, President of Freedom Alliance, shared that withdrawing from Afghanistan does not mean the war is over for the United States. And, Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights, evaluated the Biden administration’s leadership thus far and looks ahead to the 2022 election.

6. Washington Watch: Michael Waltz, Edward Graham, Josh Youssef, Albert Mohler

Joseph Backholm was joined by Michael Waltz, U.S. Representative for Florida, to discuss the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Edward Graham, Assistant to the Vice President of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, shared about Samaritan’s Purse’s relief efforts in Haiti following a massive earthquake. Joshua Youssef, President of Help the Persecuted, talked about the persecution that Afghani Christians are facing under the Taliban regime. Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, critiqued President Biden for how he has handled foreign policy.

7. Pray Vote Stand Broadcast: Hope for the Persecuted

In Afghanistan, and many other places around the world, it’s never been more dangerous to follow Jesus. With millions of Christians around the globe facing persecution, where can we turn for hope? In this important Pray Vote Stand episode from earlier this summer, hear stories of courageous men and women who were willing to face these odds all for the sake of Jesus Christ.

  • Page 1 of 3
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

July 2021 «

» September 2021

Archives