Month Archives: February 2022

Courage on Display in Ukraine

by Arielle Del Turco

February 28, 2022

History is unfolding in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of the country is a voluntary war of aggression the likes of which Europe hasn’t seen since World War II, and the way the world chooses to respond is profoundly significant.

The heroes and villains of this story are already emerging. Tragic and impossible situations reveal one’s character. And Russia’s unprovoked—and to most Ukrainians, completely unexpected—attack on Ukraine’s very right to exist as a country has prompted Ukrainians to respond with remarkable strength and determination.

A survey of recent reporting offers a glimpse of the heroics on display from everyday people: Ukrainians in small rural communities are patrolling their villages and constructing checkpoints, trenches, and underground shelters. A Ukrainian woman named Julia cried as she waited to be deployed to fight Russian troops, telling The New York Times, “I just want to live in our country, and that’s all.” Julia is a teacher, not wanting and hardly expecting a fight, but she volunteered to take up arms for her country anyway. The government is arming anyone able to hold a gun and willing to fight. Many are taking them up on the offer, even a former Miss Ukraine.

Elsewhere, a Ukrainian woman was entrusted with bringing a stranger’s children across the border to safety while their father stayed to fight. A young boy demonstrating maturity beyond his years teared up while telling a journalist how his father stayed behind to support the fight against the Russian forces while he flees to the border. Although over 500,000 Ukrainians have fled to other European countries, some Ukrainians who were living in Poland are returning to Ukraine to join the fight.

The Russian leadership does not understand that it is at war not only with the armed forces of Ukraine, but with the entire Ukrainian people,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Sunday. This seems to be exactly the case. A senior defense official at the Pentagon stated openly over the weekend that Ukraine’s “resistance is greater than what the Russians expected.”

The courage of everyday Ukrainians is inspiring people around the world. Thousands throughout the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Japan, Brazil, the United States, and many other countries are rallying in support of Ukraine.

The world is also noticing the rise of a Churchill-like figure in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He first became famous as a comedic actor in a TV series in which he played an average character who almost accidentally became president. In real life, he campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, likely not suspecting to be targeted by a sophisticated full-scale Russian invasion. Zelenskyy’s presidency is now anything but comedic, yet he has risen to the challenge of being a “wartime president” with remarkable resolve and grace under fire.

Last Thursday, Zelenskyy addressed the Russian people in a heartfelt plea. He said:

It is not about peace at any cost. It is about peace and principles, of justice, of international law. It is about the right to self-determination, that every person might determine their own future. It is the right of every society, and of every person, to security, to a life without threats. I am certain that these rights are important to you, as well.

The truth is that this needs to end before it is too late. If Russia’s leadership does not want to meet us across the table for the sake of peace, perhaps it will sit at that table with you. Do you Russians want a war? I would very much like to know the answer, but that answer depends only on you, on the citizens of the Russian Federation.

Some Russians seem to have responded to Zelenskyy’s appeal, making it clear to Russian leaders they do not want to see an attack on Ukraine. It’s one thing to protest in a free country, but it’s quite another for Russians to protest the government they know might brutally crack down on them. By some estimates, Russian authorities have arrested more than 5,000 Russian protestors.

Experts believe that Russian forces want to assassinate Zelenskyy and replace him with a Russian-backed leader—and Zelenskyy believes it too. The United States offered to help Zelenskyy leave. Yet, his reply showed unwavering resolve: “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.”

This strength of will has earned admiration across the globe and fostered hope both inside and outside of Ukraine. One Ukrainian American journalist wrote on Sunday, “Can Ukraine withstand the third largest army in the world? If you asked me Thursday, I’d think the chances were low. Now I am sure they will.”

Images and videos of Ukrainians praying and singing hymns are stirring hearts around the world. Join them in praying for the preservation of their country and the sound defeat of Russia’s brutal attack on their freedom and independence. If Ukrainians manage to keep their land and freedom, it will be due in large part to the courage of the Ukrainian people and their gutsy leader. God bless them.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of February 20)

by Family Research Council

February 25, 2022

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

1. Update:  Ukraine’s Day of Infamy

It seems unfathomable that a week ago, the world’s televisions were full of triumph and sport, international spirit and respect. Those same screens are unrecognizable now, as people from every continent woke up to a new reality: war. As images flash across monitors of explosions along the Ukrainian front, there’s a certain disbelief that any of this is real.

2. Update: Canada Goes Tow to Tow with Truckers

They blasted their horns and sang “O Canada!” Some of the protestors linked arms as Ottawa police moved through the 300 semis and campers, arresting people along the way. The truckers didn’t torch government buildings or throw fireworks at mounted police. Ever since the demonstration started, they’ve been composed, peaceful. And the American Left can’t stand it.

3. Update: Let the Games Chagrin

The closing ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Olympics couldn’t come soon enough for NBC, who just broadcasted the biggest Games flop of the modern age. When the curtain finally came down on the disaster that was the Winter Games, there were winners, to be sure. But there were, for the first time, many more losers—and the sporting world that allowed China to host was the biggest.

4. Blog: Praying for Ukraine

Russia has “shattered peace in Europe” in one night. The onslaught began only minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he would be conducting a “special military operation” Ukraine. It quickly became clear that the operation was a full-scale invasion. As innocent civilians watch in terror as their country is invaded here are five ways you can pray for Ukraine.

5. Blog: Praying for Leah Sharibu After Four Years in Captivity

Four years ago, Leah Sharibu’s world was turned upside down. She went from being a normal schoolgirl in a rural region of Nigeria to being a captive of a faction of one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups, Boko Haram. On February 19, 2018, Boko Haram terrorists attacked her school. They kidnapped 109 students. However, they quickly released all but one: Leah Sharibu.

6. Washington Watch: Vicky Hartzler, Gordon Chang, Ron Johnson, Rachel Emmanuel, Jason Snead

Tony Perkins was joined by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, U.S. Representative for Missouri, who commented on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” discussed the close of the 2022 Beijing Olympics and how corporate America is complicit in China’s human rights abuses. Ron Johnson, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, shared the latest on COVID news and his Right to Treat legislation. Rachel Emmanuel, reporter for iPolitics, described what she witnessed on Canada’s Parliament Hill. And, Jason Snead, Executive Director of the Honest Elections Project, gave an update on election reform bills in the states.

7. Washington Watch: George Thomas, Mike Pompeo, Maureen Steele, Ken Paxton, Travis Weber, Jack Hibbs

Tony Perkins was joined by George Thomas, CBN’s senior international correspondent, who shared the latest developments on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Mike Pompeo, former United States Secretary of State, discussed the latest on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his upcoming visit to Taiwan. Maureen Steele, National Organizer of The People’s Convoy, provided insight on the mission of the American Freedom Convoy and its current journey across the country. Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, talked about his recent legal declaration that transgender procedures on minors is child abuse. Travis Weber, FRC’s Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs, unpacked the radical Abortion on Demand Act, which is deceptively titled the Women’s Health Protection Act. And, Jack Hibbs, Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California, shared how believers can respond to and pray for Ukraine.

Correcting the Record on Florida’s “Controversial” Legislation

by Bryan Avila , Joe Harding

February 25, 2022

It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. That’s certainly true for Florida House bills 1557 and 7, characterized as “Don’t Say Gay” and “censoring history.”

From “news” articles to “expert” commentary on Twitter, there have been so many lies about our bills that it’s now painfully obvious that hardly anyone has actually read the legislation. 

We’ve stood by as reporters parroted ridiculous phrases and false monikers from the Left as gospel without checking their source material. Newspapers and Tweeters have gotten their clicks and engagement with these exaggerated perspectives. But now it’s time to set the record straight. 

First, let’s address the fact that just about every newspaper headline has called HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You know what’s not in any of the bill text? The words “gay” and “say.” 

Do you think teachers should instruct 5 and 6-year-olds about sexual orientation and gender identity in our schools? If you said “no,” then you agree with HB 1557, which protects our youngest students from this kind of ridiculous notion. We think we represent most parents when we say that those conversations should be reserved for when parents decide to have them with their kids.

Furthermore, HB 1557 empowers parents to play an active and present role in their child’s schooling by ensuring they have access to records and a role in decisions about mental health and other services for their kids.

Likewise, we see similar lies about House Bill 7. The bill does not ignore or whitewash history, as is frequently misreported; it does the opposite. We expect important history lessons about slavery, the Holocaust, and the suffrage struggle to be taught—and our laws require it. In the bill, we even outline a vision for “Stories of Inspiration” to be told in a new curriculum, highlighting extraordinary Americans who overcame all odds, including racial and other barriers, to make history. 

Would you agree that all people are created equal and that no person is better than another solely based on race, sex, or national origin? If you said “yes,” then you agree with the values outlined in HB 7, which say those should help make up a framework for classroom instruction.

When someone is studying racism and other ugly parts of history, we should and do feel uncomfortable. But that does not mean that our kids should be instructed to feel guilt, anguish, or personal responsibility because of their race, origin, or sex for the sins of the past or of others.  

HB 7 helps prevent this from happening by providing teachers with a clear and unifying framework to teach the facts about history, current events, and more, and not divisive ideologies. 

This is not controversial stuff—81 percent of parents agree they should have a say in what their school teaches and 84 percent of principals and teachers want more family engagement. And it shouldn’t require polling data to say that everyone can agree that all people are created equal. 

Parents and school officials all need to work together to create a supportive learning environment at both school and home. These bills are intended to unify and integrate teaching and care between the student, parent, and school officials. House Bills 7 and 1557 include measures that can be universally agreed upon to provide the transparency and guidelines necessary to create the best educational environment for all of Florida’s children.

Instead of reading what is actually in the bills, many reporters and critics have relied on caustic and divisive statements of the bills’ detractors for clickbait. It’s clear we can’t trust the media to tell the truth about our legislative proposals. Both bills having passed the Florida House today, focus now turns to the Florida Senate. We encourage you to read the bills for yourself at myfloridahouse.gov

Florida House Representative Bryan Avila is a Republican lawmaker from Miami Springs and Speaker pro tempore of the Florida House. He is the sponsor of HB 7, Individual Freedoms. Florida House Representative Joe Harding is a freshman Republican lawmaker from Ocala. He is the sponsor of HB 1557, Parental Rights in Education.

Should Christians Always Be Winsome?

by Joseph Backholm

February 25, 2022

Christians like to talk about whether it’s appropriate for Christians to engage in politics. Even more than that, Christians like to talk about the tone we should use if we do. Winsome is not just the name of Virginia’s new lieutenant governor, but also an adjective often used to describe the way Christians should talk—at all times—about cultural issues.

Proverbs tells us that “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” (Prov. 16:21, ESV), so we reasonably conclude that we will be more effective influencers if we aren’t harsh in our delivery. Scripture is filled with reminders that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Prov. 18:21), and the apostle Paul spent significant time instructing the church how to speak to each other. For example, he instructed the Colossians, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). He also exhorted the Ephesians:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Eph. 4:29-32)

Unquestionably, the way we speak to each other matters.

As Christians, our goal is to be like Jesus. So, in this respect and all others, we need to consider what tone Jesus used in His communication with people.

But answering the question of what tone we ought to use in our discourse is not simple. Jesus’ tone changed depending on who His audience was. To those who were humble, meek, and repentant, Jesus was humble and meek. “Let the little children come unto me” (Matt. 19:14). The way He treated the sick (Luke 4-5, Matt. 8-9) and the grace He showed to the adulterous woman (John 8) and the thief on the cross (Luke 23) all reflect Christ’s gentleness.

One might even say He was winsome.

But when Jesus interacted with the proud and deceitful, He took on a very different tone. We know He overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple and cleared it with a whip (John 2:14-16). Throughout the gospels, He called Israel’s religious leaders “fools” (Matt.23:17), “snakes” (Matt. 23:33), “vipers” (Luke 3:7), “blind guides” (Matt. 15:14), “whitewashed tombs” (Matt. 23:27), and “hypocrites” (Mark 7:6) and declared that they were greedy, self-indulgent, and wicked sons of the devil who “do not belong to God” (John 8, Matt. 23).

This is less winsome.

In Luke 6, Jesus pronounced woe on the rich, well-fed, and jubilant and called the Canaanite people “dogs” (Matt. 15:27). He pronounced woe on the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Matt. 11:21-23), referred to the Pharisees and Sadducees as a “wicked and perverse generation” (Matt. 16:4) and told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23).

All of this might even be described as harsh.

If Jesus was not sinning when He said these things—and He wasn’t—we are forced to accept that there are times when gentleness is not what the moment calls for, even if gentleness should always be part of our character. One does not gently warn the sleeping members of their family that the house is on fire. One does not coax their child out of the street when a car is fast approaching. There are moments in time—and history—when a lack of urgency is negligent or even evil. Saving someone from hell harshly is better than ushering them into hell gently.

Of course, this is not a license to express whatever emotion we feel each moment.

What Jesus did perfectly, and we do imperfectly, is act out of love. When He referred to the Pharisees as “fools,” “liars,” and “snakes,” it was because they were, in fact, fools, liars, and snakes. He did not use these terms for sport but in an attempt to awaken them to the reality of their blindness and invite them to a better way, and some of them followed (Acts 15:5).

Unlike Jesus, the words we use are often an attempt to settle personal scores against those who annoy or offend us. Not only are we not seeking their good, but we are seeking and actively contributing to their harm. This is what should be avoided at all costs.

Plain-spoken words communicating difficult truths can be an act of genuine love. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6). This becomes truer as pressure builds to avoid speaking any kind of truth that would harm someone’s psychological safety. In addition, an unwillingness to listen to someone because we don’t like their “tone” might say more about the hearer than the speaker. If we are offended by someone’s words, we must consider the possibility that we are not primarily offended by the way they have said it but by the fact that what they have said is true, and we don’t want to deal with it.

Yes, kindness and gentleness are fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), and they should define how we live. But this does not mean we can only do and say things that immediately make people happy. The words we use with the broken and outcast may well be different from those we use with the liar, the wicked, or the abuser in the midst of their abuse. But we must make sure, whether our words are winsome or difficult, that they are spoken in love.

Praying for Ukraine

by Arielle Del Turco

February 24, 2022

Russia has “shattered peace in Europe” in one night.

In the early hours of the morning, billows of smoke could be seen rising above several major Ukrainian cities that were targets of Russian shelling and rocket attacks. The onslaught began only minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that he would be conducting a “special military operation” in the neighboring country. It quickly became clear that the operation was a full-scale invasion.

Thousands of Ukrainians are trying to leave the capital city of Kyiv, causing major traffic jams, while others are choosing to stay, ready to fight for the right to live in their own country with their own government. Casualties of the day-old war are already in the hundreds and still climbing.

As innocent civilians watch in terror as their country is invaded by one of the world’s most sophisticated militaries, here are five ways you can pray for Ukraine:

1. Pray for the people of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian people are tough, and they’re not surrendering without a fight. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukrainians have learned the value of having their own sovereign democratic country, and many don’t want to return to being ruled by yet another Russian autocrat, no matter what the cost.

Ukrainians don’t know what the future holds for their country. In a moving scene on live TV, CNN’s Clarissa Ward captured footage of a small group of Ukrainians kneeling to pray in a city square in Kharkiv in the freezing cold.

As these Ukrainians, and surely so many others like them, are driven to their knees in prayer, we should join them. Pray for safety for the people of Ukraine, that residential areas would not be targeted, and that God would comfort those who are afraid. Many Ukrainians are Christian; pray that their faith would be strengthened to withstand this trying time.

2. Pray for wisdom for world leaders as they respond to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring,” President Joe Biden rightly said in a tweet this week. However, world leaders bear the responsibility to respond, and the choices they make even in the next few days can shape the course of history.

Pray that they would have wisdom as they make decisions regarding sanctions, military support, and other means of deterring Russia and supporting Ukraine.

3. Pray that churches and Christian ministries in Ukraine would be equipped and ready to help in the event of a humanitarian emergency.

Ukrainian church leaders were already grappling with how to respond to an imminent invasion from Russia. Now that one is underway, they will need to lead their congregations with wisdom and courage.

The possibility of a refugee crisis becomes even more likely during a war, and churches and Christian ministries will inevitably be at the forefront, providing assistance and spiritual and material help to the displaced and hurting. Pray that God would prepare and equip ministries to aid those in need.

4. Pray for a change of heart for Russian leaders, that they would turn from war and aggression and choose peace.

Yesterday, the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations sent an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, requesting that he end his invasion. On their behalf, Chairman Hryhorii Komendant wrote:

Today we pray to the Creator of the Universe with a special request for wisdom for those who are authorized to make decisions so significant for the whole world, in whose hands the fate of humanity has turned out to be. This applies primarily to you, Mr. President of the Russian Federation. This prayer of ours is filled with hope for the generosity of the Almighty God and the openness of the heart that accepts grace.

5. Pray for peace and the expansion of freedom.

Recent years have seen a decline in freedom around the world—the Chinese government choked Hong Kong, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, and military coups took over Sudan and Burma. This is a dangerous time for the free world and a devastating one for the people who now live under oppression.

As Putin attacks Ukraine, peace and freedom are once again under siege. This conflict benefits very few people, and even some people in Russia see that. Despite extensive government propaganda, some Russians have protested Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. In response, Russian authorities have cracked down on their own citizens, arresting at least 1,700 protestors in 53 cities.

Pray for peace in Ukraine and throughout Europe. Pray that plans intended for evil would be thwarted. Pray for the expansion of freedom around the world.

God’s Good Design for Marriage (Part 2): They Shall Become One Flesh

by Joshua Arnold

February 21, 2022

This is the second part of a multi-part series on God’s good design for marriage. Read part one.

It’s no secret that popular culture frowns upon Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. In American entertainment, business, media, politics, and courts of law, the prevailing view is that marriage is an optional “extra” for romantic partners, one that quickly proves inconvenient and restrictive when it outlasts emotion. In the minds of many, marriage is an outdated artifact of obsolete social conditions and inhibits the self-expression, tolerance, and liberation expected in the 21st century. The Bible’s view of marriage as a covenant union of one man and one woman for life has become so incomprehensible in America and throughout Western culture that it is seen as downright offensive.

Many Christians are influenced by our culture’s negative view of marriage—and not for the better. But we don’t have to listen to the culture’s lies; we have God’s Word, which is truth. The Bible says a lot about marriage, portraying it in such glorious splendor that the world’s flashy counterfeits look dim by comparison. Every Christian can afford to spend more time tuning out the world and tuning in to God’s Word. This series aims to examine God’s good design for marriage by taking the Word of God itself as our guide.

This series began by looking at Genesis 1:26-31, where God created “male and female.” This second installment will examine Genesis 2:24.

Moses wrote Genesis for the people of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Genesis describes God’s promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the beginnings of God’s relationship with mankind.

In Genesis 2, Moses retells in greater detail the creation of man and woman on the sixth day of creation (which he had summarized in the first chapter). Moses has theological purposes for holding a microscope to God creating mankind with this second account, some of which pertain to marriage.

In Genesis 2:24, Moses summarizes the first marriage in history, explaining, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The importance of this statement for understanding God’s design for marriage is underscored in the New Testament by Jesus (Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8) and Paul (1 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 5:31). Both quote this verse to support marriage.

Thus, we learn that this verse is not a cloudy line in a quaint fable, nor an archaic notion that has passed away with the old covenant. Rather, Genesis 2:24 contains a transcendent, timeless principle of God’s created order that still applies to us today. As such, this verse is worth studying carefully.

Observations

First, notice the prescriptive language in the verbs: “shall leave… and hold fast” and “shall become.” In contrast to the narrative portions of Genesis, which describe actions and events, this verse ordains the covenant of marriage. Every human being is morally accountable to this formula.

Second, the man takes the initiative in leaving his parents and holding fast to his wife. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to write, “a woman shall leave her father and her mother and hold fast to her husband.” He didn’t. In the context of Genesis 2 (which we will explore in the next part of this series), this is intentional, and it contains the seeds of both “distinctions in masculine and feminine roles” and “Adam’s headship in marriage,” as the Danvers Statement affirms. These biblical principles, which our culture hates, reflect the beauty and wisdom of God’s good design for marriage. We shouldn’t be ashamed of them.

Third, the man must leave his parents. This doesn’t mean he should desert them, for that would dishonor them (Exodus 20:12), but his relationship with his parents should change. He and his wife constitute a new and distinct family unit. A man’s wife replaces his parents as his chief relational priority. Of the many ways to apply this, perhaps the most apt for our cultural context is that men should move out of their parents’ house before they marry. A man who can’t function independently from his parents or run a household on his own isn’t fit to be married yet. To single men who are seeking a wife, get a job, get an apartment, pay some bills, and dress yourself. Show that you are responsible enough for a woman to feel safe under your leadership.

Fourth, the man must hold fast to his wife. Older translations used the word “cleave” (thus the phrase “leaving and cleaving”). Tim Keller explains in The Meaning of Marriage, “it is a Hebrew word that literally means to be glued to something.” Marriage binds together a man and woman tighter than any other natural bond. As centuries of wedding vows have acknowledged (“as long as we both shall live”), marriage is for life (see Romans 7:2). This close, intimate, exclusive relationship provides an opportunity for mutual support, encouragement, friendship, accountability, advice, and sanctification like no other human relationship. Marriage images Jesus, our “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Fifth, the man and his wife shall become one flesh. This phrase isn’t easy to explain. How, exactly, can two people become one flesh? If that seems impossible for man to achieve, it is. But Jesus helps us understand this is not God’s doing. After quoting Genesis 2:24, Jesus applies it in “a comment that explodes like thunder with the glory of marriage,” says John Piper in This Momentary Marriage. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:9). Piper continues, “when a couple speaks their vows, it is not a man or a woman or a pastor or parent who is the main actor—the main doer. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union.” Every marriage is a covenant, an exchange of vows before God, effected and enforced by God. Because God makes a marriage, “it is not in man’s power to destroy,” says Piper.

Conclusion

Violations of the marriage bond receive frequent and severe condemnation throughout the Bible. Jesus himself quotes Genesis 2:24, in conjunction with Genesis 1:27, to condemn divorce. Adultery is forbidden by the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18). Jesus added, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). The writer of the book of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:4). Hundreds of other Scriptures could be added to this list. The point is clear: because God has ordained marriage as part of his good design, he takes it seriously, and he has commanded us to honor it. So, we must obey his commands and honor marriage out of both “love and fear” (Deuteronomy 13:3-4).

More can be said about marriage from the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 2:24, and future parts of this series will explore it further.

But what should be crystal clear—and what all the Bible’s teachings are founded on—is that marriage is a covenantal relationship uniting a husband and wife, which is designed and achieved by God himself. Marriage is not a social construct to be cast aside on a whim but a lifelong, moral duty watched over by its holy creator, God.

Read part three.

Join Mississippi in Supporting Women With Unplanned Pregnancies

by Mary Szoch , Savannah Anne Carman

February 21, 2022

As America awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—the case considering whether Mississippi’s law protecting the lives of unborn babies at 15-weeks is constitutional—pro-lifers in Mississippi aren’t just twiddling their thumbs. Led by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, these pro-life, pro-woman advocates hosted a virtual baby shower to benefit the over 30 pregnancy resource centers in the state. As Attorney General Fitch said, “There are women facing great challenges when they learn that they are pregnant…The pro-life movement has always been about supporting these women. We want these women to know that they do not have to face this on their own.”

One of the best ways to support women facing unplanned pregnancies is to support the work of pregnancy resource centers. We invite you to join Attorney General Fitch in showering pregnancy resource centers all over the country with prayer, love, and material items.

What is a pregnancy resource center?

A pregnancy resource center (PRC) is an organization that offers material, emotional, and often spiritual support to women and men facing an unexpected pregnancy, seeking support for infants or toddlers, looking for guidance before a potential abortion, or searching for healing afterward. In 2019, PRCs nationwide served almost two million people and provided nearly $270 million in services. Each PRC is unique, but they are alike in their mission of supporting women and men throughout pregnancy and after the birth of the child. They provide material support, including clothing, diapers, wipes, and formula; education about pregnancy, parenting, and life skills; and medical services like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STD testing. Many PRCs also offer housing for mothers and their children; spiritual support; assistance for abuse and human trafficking victims; and guidance applying for Medicaid, SNAPS, and WIC. Pregnancy resource centers offer loving care for mothers and fathers in need.

Where can I find one?

To find a pregnancy resource center, visit Pregnancy Decision Line at pregnancydecisionline.org or call 866-798-9541. Pregnancy Decision Line provides confidential, free support to anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy. You can also visit Option Line at optionline.org or call or text 800-712-4357. In addition to offering emergency hotline support and information about pregnancy and abortion recovery, Option Line connects you with a PRC near you for local support.

How can I support PRCs?

PRCs depend on the consistency and faithfulness of prayer, volunteers, financial donations, and material donations (clothes, diapers, wipes, formula, etc.). You and your community might consider committing to one or more of these needs. Call your local PRC and ask about their immediate needs. Whether it is organizing diapers, praying for women, teaching an online parenting class, or making a monthly donation, PRCs and the mothers they serve are grateful for support. Single parents and couples need supportive communities, especially when facing an unexpected pregnancy.

How can my church get involved?

PRCs are always grateful for the assistance of churches. Connect with your local PRC to find their specific needs, and post about volunteer opportunities in the church’s bulletin. Schedule group service days at the PRC for the youth and adults. This is an excellent opportunity to open young people’s eyes to the needs right in their neighborhood. Dedicate a month for collecting diapers, wipes, formula, and other materials. Ask your local PRC what materials they are most in need of to get started. And, of course, pray. As a congregation, pray not only for an end to abortion but also for mothers and fathers in need and those who help them.

Savannah Anne Carman is an intern with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

FRC’s Top 7 Trending Items (Week of February 13)

by Family Research Council

February 18, 2022

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

1. Update: The Truck Stops Here

As the truckers’ protest in Ottawa enters its third week, Canadian lawmakers are beginning to feel the pain. Vehicles have blocked three U.S.-border crossings, including the busiest—Ambassador Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. Protestors opened one lane to Canada-bound traffic, but Ontario Premier Doug Ford threatened up to $100,000 and a year in prison to protestors.

2. Update: Olympic Rings Hollow for Missing Generations

At the Olympic games, China recently ranked a distant 11th in the medal count. For this year’s Olympic host, the ranking must come as a disappointment. One must wonder how much they could have accomplished with the generations China destroyed. How many future medalists were lost to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) one-child policy and disrespect of human life? The world will never know.

3. Update: U.S. Sponsors Fan the Olympic Flame

America’s biggest companies may be downplaying their Olympic sponsorships at home, but in Beijing you can’t walk two feet without a flashy reminder of the U.S.’s heavy corporate presence. Like most of today’s corporate culture, it’s the tale of two continents: demand “justice” at home, enable the violators of it abroad.

4. Blog: Thinking Biblically About Missouri’s SAFE Act

Missouri state representative Suzie Pollock recently introduced the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act. If passed, this legislation would prohibit puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and so-called gender reassignment surgeries for minors. The bill also prohibits the public funding, insurance coverage, and referral of such procedures for minors.

5. Blog: More Than Romance: The True Meaning of Valentine’s Day

For some, Valentine’s Day is a fun excuse to dote on a spouse or loved one with roses, chocolates, and heart-shaped cards. A cynical few believe Valentine’s Day is just a marketing ploy—a made-up holiday that guilts you into spending money on someone. However, the historical origin of Valentine’s Day had nothing to do with any of these things.

6. Washington Watch: Dave Brat, Ken Blackwell, Sam Brownback, Andrew Brunson, Chip Roy

Tony Perkins was joined by Dave Brat, Dean of Liberty University’s School of Business, who addressed what rising inflation and lagging wage growth means for the economy and the political landscape. Ken Blackwell, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance and former Ohio Secretary of State, discussed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce demanding an end to Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” of truckers. Sam Brownback, former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, spoke on China’s human rights record. Andrew Brunson, FRC’s Special Advisor for Religious Freedom, shared about the delivery of FRC prayer pledges to Päivi Räsänen, a member of Finland’s parliament who is facing trial for expressing biblical beliefs about human sexuality. And, Chip Roy, U.S. Representative for Texas, reiterated his support of Päivi Räsänen and discussed the letter he wrote offering her prayer and encouragement as she stands trial.

7. Washington Watch: Connor Semelsberger, Louie Gohmert, James Lankford, Nina Shea, Steve Daines, Meg Kilgannon

Tony Perkins was joined by Connor Semelsberger, FRC’s Director of Federal Affairs – Life and Human Dignity, who celebrated that Democrats in Congress have all but conceded that the Hyde Amendment will not be repealed this year. Louie Gohmert, U.S. Representative for Texas, discussed the Durham court filing, President Biden ordering the release of Trump’s White House visitor logs, and the call for open hearings on surveillance of representatives and staffers. James Lankford, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, talked about his letter on the Equal Rights Amendment and the Senate’s Continuing Resolution. Nina Shea, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Hudson Institute, detailed China’s record of persecuting the Falun Gong and the high-tech nature of the Chinese Communist Party’s persecution. Steve Daines, U.S. Senator from Montana, addressed whether a GOP controlled Congress could ease the financial strain on American families. And, Meg Kilgannon, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Education Studies, unpacked news reports on school boards getting death threats amid rage over race, gender, mask policies.

Keeping Children SAFE From Sterilization — in Ohio and Around the Nation

by Joshua Arnold

February 18, 2022

On Thursday, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act officially began working its way through the Ohio legislature, with a first hearing in the House Committee on Families, Aging, and Human Services. One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Gary Click, testified to the committee that the SAFE Act was “common sense legislation designed to ensure that children and adolescents receive only the best and safest healthcare.”

The SAFE Act “prohibits ‘gender transition procedures’ for minors and the public funding of, insurance coverage of, or referral for such procedures,” explains a brief by Family Research Council. Such procedures are neither reversible nor evidence based, and they have severe negative side effects. The brief continues, “rather than provide the help such children and adolescents need, transgender ideology promotes radical medical interventions, including the use of drugs to block normal puberty and cross-sex hormones and gender reassignment surgery to create the superficial appearance of conformity with the minor’s perceived ‘gender identity.’”

The unmitigated greed of the healthcare industry has led to countless children being mutilated and sterilized for life,” warned Policy Director of Ohio-based Center for Christian Virtue David Mahan. “Sadly, hospitals, schools, and even Planned Parenthood facilities across the state are pressuring families to put children on experimental and dangerous procedures.” He urged the state assembly “to take action before more children are permanently harmed.”

Legislators all around the country are introducing bills like Ohio’s SAFE Act in response to the transgender movement’s increased targeting of children. “A bill like this was not on my radar when I stepped foot into the legislature,” Click said. But each year since 2020, bills to protect children from harmful “gender transition” experiments have been introduced in over 15 states. The Arkansas legislature was the first to successfully pass the SAFE Act into law, doing so over the governor’s veto (a judge has blocked that law while a lawsuit against it proceeds through the judicial system). Currently, the SAFE Act and similar bills (34 in total) have been introduced in 17 states.

In addition to practical, medical, and ethical reasons to support the SAFE Act, there are also theological reasons for Christians to support the legislation,” explained David Closson, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at FRC. “Christians should support the passage of laws that tell the truth about the human body. And the truth about our bodies is that God made two distinct yet complementary sexes, male and female.”

Like every righteous cause, the SAFE Act faces fierce opposition. Pro-LGBT activists and their allies in the media attacked the Arkansas bill from every angle imaginable; even the nationwide behemoth 60 Minutes piled on. Proponents of the SAFE Act in other states can expect the LGBT lobby to employ similar aggressive tactics. But they shouldn’t be afraid. Despite the Left’s media blitz, the Arkansas legislature still passed the SAFE Act with a veto-proof majority. Standing up to protect children from harmful irreversible procedures takes a backbone, but it’s not impossible.

Check out FRC’s map tracking bills to protect minors from “gender transition” experimentation to see whether there is a SAFE Act or similar bill in your state. Encourage your state legislators to stand up for children. If they are already promoting these bills, encourage them to continue to stand firm against the attacks of the enemy, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”

For more information, read FRC’s issue analysis, “Do Not Sterilize Children: Why Physiological Gender Transition Procedures for Minors Should Be Prohibited.”

Brave Truckers and Faithful Pastors: The Uprise Against Canada’s Champagne Tyranny

by Owen Strachan

February 18, 2022

Before there were the Canadian truckers, there were the Canadian pastors.

In case the preceding sentence is strange to you, here’s what has been happening in Canada lately. Truckers from across the nation streamed into Ottawa a week or two ago. They did so in order to peacefully protest the loss of liberties. Under the guise of COVID policy, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has altered the very nature of citizenship in Canada. Vaccine mandates, forced closure of all manner of institutions, and vaccine passports have meant that Canadians have suffered tremendously as they watched their freedoms dwindle. In the name of fighting a (real) virus, a once-great nation has fallen to its knees.

But it has not stayed there. The truckers have fought back. They have shown that the light of the West—freedom for the individual—has not gone out. Putting their livelihoods on the line, the truckers have acted as men must in the face of massive civilizational threat: boldly. They have not torched Ottawa or anywhere else. They have not caused violence and mayhem. Unlike the riots of the summer of 2020—riots fomented by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and the mainstream media’s coverage, the winter of 2022 has featured protest of a peaceful kind. The truckers have given the world an example of how to advocate for liberty and defy tyranny—tyranny of a distinctly Trudeauian kind. Call it “champagne tyranny,” for although Canada’s foremost political leader projects a cosmopolitan air, if you look beneath the half-smile and the flowing locks, you see an emerging totalitarian.

The truckers have defied “champagne tyranny.” They were not the first to do so in Canada, however. Starting in the summer of 2020, Ontario pastor Jacob Reaume saw that he could not fail to gather his people for congregational worship. The flock of Trinity Bible Chapel in Waterloo needed the Word and the gospel. Sermonettes on Zoom and text messages to one another would not cut it. Reaume’s conscience told him that remotely gathering over Zoom was no substitute for the gathered church (Hebrews 10:25). Reaume knew instinctively what John MacArthur has proclaimed: “There is no such thing as a Zoom church.”

It is no bad thing for sick folks to be able to stream sermons, of course. Further, Christians do have real disagreements in charity over policies regarding lockdowns and governmental decrees. There are gray areas and hard questions that pastors have faced the last two years, and we have sympathy for their efforts to try to hold churches together in divided times. But with that noted, Reaume and his peers saw something vital: Caesar does not rule the church’s worship. Christ does. To gather together weekly, even in difficult and tempestuous days, even when Caesar says not to, is to render to him what is due him (Matthew 22:21).

So, not long after the lockdown began in spring 2020, Reaume—like many pastors—gathered the flock and “opened the church.” As he did so, he drew the wrath of Canadian officials. Over time in late 2020 and 2021, they fined his church millions of dollars. Yet Reaume and his elders refused to stop meeting. They did so not to spite the government; they did so to glorify God and love needy people. God has commanded that his people gather, so loving God means meeting for worship, which also happens to be the foremost way Christians love their neighbor (see Matthew 22:34-39). Yet today, we are tempted by our fallen world to break the first commandment (and not gather for worship) in order to keep the second commandment (and thus love neighbor).

These pastors knew that Christians need congregational worship and body life, even desperately. So, too, do unbelievers need the gospel. This becomes especially clear in a global lockdown when seemingly every comfort and pleasure of normal life has drained away. One woman who had no interest in church prior to the lockdown visited Trinity Bible Chapel during it. Her name is Jennifer. She was, by her own testimony, shooting cocaine, being promiscuous, and living without any hope at all. She was lost. But her son asked her to come to a gathering at Trinity, and she did. She heard biblical truth and experienced biblical love. God’s Spirit moved, and Jennifer was born again. She was baptized not long ago at Trinity and said these words in her baptismal testimony:

Most recently, I was smoking and shooting seven grams of cocaine a day, and my son asked me to come to a prayer meeting at Trinity. In my small group, I asked for prayer to stop… I know for a fact that I’d be dead right now if God had not used this church in my life.

The ministry of Trinity, Pastor Reaume, and the faithful elders of this church bore much fruit even in difficult days. The same trend—light advancing in darkness—was playing out in Western Canada as well. In Edmonton, at a church called GraceLife, Pastor James Coates and his elders had reached similar conclusions. Coates saw that his people needed the hope of the gospel and determined with his elders and the support of the church that GraceLife Edmonton would not close in 2020 and 2021. For doing so, James Coates and his church were targeted. Civil authorities put a fence around the church building. Coates refused to stop preaching the Word to his people (and hundreds more who came), and for doing so, was thrown into prison in February 2021.

The same happened to Tim Stephens, a pastor in Calgary, Alberta. In May and June 2021, Stephens went to prison for gathering his flock. The video of Stephens being taken by authorities from his family is heart-wrenching. His children weep, and Stephens was hauled off. Alongside Stephens, other faithful men have spoken up and taken a stand in Canada as well. Men like Mike Hovland, Steve Richardson, Aaron Rock, Joseph Boot, Samuel Sey, and Steve Bainbridge have put themselves on record as those who will not bow the knee to champagne tyranny. Still others, like Artur Pawlowski—a Protestant of a different religious stripe than the aforementioned men— have also paid a heavy price for defending religious liberty.

Yet here is something remarkable: the American church has been largely silent about the plight of the Canadian church. Rarely has so much communicative power gone so untapped. Very few pastors, theologians, and religious leaders have supported the persecuted and suffering Canadian church. In America, blessed with huge organizations devoted to the cause of religious liberty and freedom more generally, precious few have spoken in defense of the faithful leaders and congregations of Canada. In fact, over the last couple of years, when Americans (and some Canadians) have spoken up at all about the suffering Canadian pastors, they have done so to oppose them, nitpick their arguments, and generally discourage their bravery.

There is a great more to say about all this. Yet what we should not miss is this: courage is having an effect in Canada, a tremendous effect. It always does. Courage is how movements advance; freedom is what comes from the gospel of Christ, freedom of many kinds. God has done something unprecedented in Canada in recent days, and a nation falling under the shadow of tyranny has awoken. The truckers show us this, as does the massive cross-country opposition to Trudeau’s champagne tyranny.

Truly, at this hour, Trudeau is alone. He is not bolstered by a wave of popular opinion. He who has done so much to mask and muzzle the Canadian people is well and truly unmasked. In his common grace, God has let the world see—in Canada and across the world—the totalitarian nature of modern leftism. It is not “live and let live” as an ideology; it is “do what I say or suffer.”

Here is the story on the ground, then. Canada is not fallen—not yet. Amidst much travail and real suffering, the true Canada is rising. Long may it rise. We ask not for violence or destruction but a return to liberty, human flourishing, and justice. If it is brave truckers who have lately led the way here, know this: before there were the Canadian truckers, there were the Canadian pastors. Man may oppose them, but God is behind them. What is the emblem of the Christian faith, after all? Light has come into the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).

And, we may rightly say, it never will.

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