A Gay Hymnal and a Message of Hope

CrossThere’s no question that the usage of hymns in worship, though employed and beloved by the faithful for centuries, has been in sharp decline for decades. The Hymn Society wants that to change—so they are offering a new hymnal with a twist.

The new hymnal, Songs for the Holy Other: Hymns Affirming the LGBTQIA2S+ Community, promises “queer hymns—hymns by, for, or about the LGBTQIA2S+ community.”

The collection includes nearly fifty hymns with titles like “The Kingdom of God is the Queerest of Nations,” “Quirky, Queer and Wonderful,” and “God of Queer, Transgressive Spaces.” The Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church of Canada have both publicized the hymnal.

The hymns offer worshippers a dangerous theology that flies in the face of Scriptural truths about God, sin, gender, and sexual ethics.

One hymn gives “thanks to God for grave disorder,” in direct contradiction to the divinely revealed truth that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). In a ploy to defend gender-bending as godly, another hymn refers to God as “our Father, Mother, Parent,” despite God’s revealed insistence that we call Him “Father.”

Many of the hymns—including “God Calls You Good” and “A Hymn for Self-Acceptance”—promote the heretical belief that God’s love for us means we don’t need to repent and turn from our sins. Instead of being redeemed and transformed by God’s grace, we just need to “accept” ourselves and celebrate those harmful desires and activities which God calls sinful.

What a stark contrast with the hope proclaimed at the Changed Movement event that took place in Washington, DC, last week, when 18 individuals who formerly identified as LGBT met with legislators to share their testimonies of how God transformed their lives by His grace.

Many states have banned counseling that helps individuals with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. A bill that would ban these therapies nationwide is now being considered in the US House of Representatives. Efforts to ban so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy in Idaho have failed so far.

Without access to the help and tools counseling provides, the “formers,” as they call themselves, don’t think they would have found liberation from their destructive lifestyles.

These brave men and women are walking monuments to the transforming power of God. “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral… nor men who practice homosexuality… will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Instead of condoning our sin, God promises to regenerate us. He sanctifies us in His Truth and calls us into righteousness.

That is good news for all of us. In Christ Jesus, there is hope, redemption, and deliverance. And that is a message and power worth singing hymns about.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

The End of Girls’ Sports

Ask-Me-First_TannerMy wife and I recently celebrated the birth of our first child. I may win the championship title for PROUDEST DAD—our little girl has already stolen my heart. I’m sure you know the feeling if you have children.

Even though it’s years away, I look forward spending my weekend days in folding chairs and on bleachers, watching my little girl learn to swing a bat at tee-ball and chase the checkered soccer ball around the field. Maybe she will even find a sport for which she exudes passion and decides to play in high school or college.

This week at the Supreme Court, oral arguments were given in a case (Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC) that could have disastrous implications for girls sports everywhere.

The specifics of the case deal with a transgender funeral home employee that filed a complaint with the EEOC after he was fired for violating company dress policy by dressing like a woman at funerals and meetings with grieving clients.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the funeral home director, redefining “sex” (a protected class under federal law) to include “gender identity.” If this redefinition is affirmed by the Supreme Court, unequal treatment on the basis of a person’s gender identity will now be prohibited under federal law, unmooring the concept of “sex” from any objective biological basis.

So how does this relate to girls’ sports? Under this scientifically indefensible interpretation of “sex” and “gender,” any effort to prevent biological boys from performing in girls’ sports would constitute legally prohibited “discrimination.”

Ask any student athlete, high school coach, or parent—allowing biological men to perform in girls’ sports unfairly puts biological girls at a competitive disadvantage. The size, strength, bone structure, lung volume, and heart supply of the average male far outpaces even the most elite female athletes, even after the biological male undergoes hormone therapy.

Allowing biological boys to participate in girls’ sports deprives our girls of opportunities for slots on teams, victories, and scholarships. Biological boys are already beginning to win athletic championships in many states.

Here in Idaho, a biological male can play in girls’ high school sports after undergoing hormone treatment for one year. Family Policy Alliance of Idaho calls on the state legislature to fix the loophole allowing boys to play in girls’ sports.

Legislation protecting fairness in sports would save girls’ sports for my daughter and yours. Until then, we will keep monitoring the Harris Funeral Homes case playing out in the Supreme Court. Please be praying for a positive outcome to this case.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

Abortion Pill Reversal Saves Lives—And Women Have A Right To Know About It

CaptureAndrea was scared—just like many other young women in her position.

The third-year nursing student and college cheerleader had found out just days before that she was unexpectedly pregnant, and now, in the abortion clinic with her boyfriend, she was facing pressure from doctors and nurses. They were telling her that she was “doing the right thing” by getting an abortion. After all, as the doctor said, “It’s not the right time” to have this baby—and her boyfriend agreed.

Andrea knew she had reservations about what she was doing. In the days leading up to her trip to the abortion clinic, her mom had been begging her to reconsider her decision. This morning, Andrea had barely been able to keep back her tears in the waiting room while waiting for the clinic nurse to call her name.

When the doctor handed her the first of two abortion pills—an increasingly common method of abortion, called chemical abortion, performed during the first trimester of pregnancy—Andrea says she “froze.” The doctor, seeing her hesitation, said abruptly, “Now hurry up and take that pill before it melts in your hand, it’s very expensive.”

Suppressing that screaming inner voice telling her not to do it, Andrea swallowed the pill, then, wishing she hadn’t, tried to throw it up. The doctor reminded her to take the second abortion pill 24 hours later.

When she left the clinic, Andrea says she ran “straight for the car where I fell to the ground crying and screaming for God to forgive me.” She knew she had to “fix” her “mistake,” so she called her mom, who took her to hospitals and doctors, hoping someone could offer a way to reverse the chemical abortion already in progress. Their search turned up empty, so Andrea, devastated, called her aunt to pray that God would save her baby despite her bad decision, and then went to bed.

When Andrea awoke the next morning, she stumbled upon an article about a doctor who had successfully reversed a chemical abortion. She immediately called a phone number, operated by Abortion Pill Rescue, a coalition of prolife OBGYNs who offer what is called “abortion pill reversal.” The compassionate voice that answered the phone put Andrea in touch with a local doctor, who told her to rush to the doctor’s office.

The doctor confirmed the baby’s heartbeat and immediately began the reversal procedure, which involves progesterone injections that can reverse the chemical abortion, stabilizing the pregnancy and allowing for a healthy baby.

Just like Andrea, many women enter abortion clinics unsure about the decision they’re making. These women immediately regret taking the first dosage of medication to end their pregnancy, yet they often don’t know where to turn or what options they have available to reverse what could be the worst decision of their lives.

Knowing this, North Dakota Rep. Daniel Johnston and other state legislators, with the help of Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota®, led a successful effort earlier this year to enact a state law requiring that women who receive chemical abortions be informed that it may be possible to reverse the effects of the medicine if they change their minds.

Unfortunately, pro-abortion activists are suing the state to overturn the North Dakota informed consent provision that empowers women like Andrea with the knowledge to make an informed decision about their chemical abortion. To make matters worse, a judge recently blocked the enforcement of the law.

As the director of advocacy for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho®, I’ve seen something comparable to what is taking place in North Dakota also play out in my state.

The Idaho legislature, with the help of Family Policy Alliance of Idaho and other pro-life organizations, passed a similar informed consent bill in 2018 that also faced legal challenges in the courts. Our informed consent law survived the court challenges, an outcome that should give hope to our friends in the Peace Garden State.

Informed consent for chemical abortion is supported by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which boasts a membership of over 2,500 medical professionals.

And these laws seem to be effective. Although it’s a relatively new medical practice, abortion pill reversal protocol has saved the lives of 750 babies so far, according to Heartbeat International. Sadly, too many mothers living in states without these informed consent laws don’t find out there’s a way to reverse their chemical abortion until it’s too late.

Remember Andrea, the cheerleader and nursing student? She gave birth to Gabriel, a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy. “I thank God and I thank my doctor, an angel sent from above to save precious little lives, and to save the lives of mothers, because without her, I don’t know where I would be today,” Andrea also wrote in an online testimony. Family Policy Alliance® talked to her in this video after Gabriel was born.

Please keep praying that the North Dakota informed consent provision survives its legal challenges in the courts. Laws like these are medically sound and legally defensible, furthering a compelling state interest to ensure women are adequately informed before undergoing medical procedures. But perhaps most importantly, these laws really do save lives—and save mothers from a lifetime of regret.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance.


 

Four Reasons Christians Must Defend Religious Liberty

Bill-of-Rights3By April 1777, John Adams—then a delegate in the Continental Congress—felt a sense of growing despair. Facing the realization that American success in the War for Independence was anything but certain, he grew concerned that his countrymen were losing their resolve to fight in the face of consecutive military defeats and that they were growing wearisome of the sacrifices necessary to secure independence and liberty for all.

Distressed but still clinging to the hope that God would come to the aid of his fledgling nation, the future president wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, in which he made this startling declaration:

“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

Perhaps the most treasured of these freedoms is religious liberty. Called the “first freedom” because of its place as the first inalienable right protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, religious freedom is also protected by the Idaho Constitution, which forcefully affirms:

“The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions.”

Despite its legally protected status under our federal and state constitutions, religious liberty is under attack today.

Here are four reasons Christians should be concerned about preserving religious freedom:

  1. Our ability to openly preach the Gospel is at stake: As historian Bill Federer astutely puts it, “Our most important job is to preach the Gospel. Our second most important job is to defend our right to preach the Gospel.”
  2. Religious freedom is biblical: The Bible tells us that we are accountable to God for our religious beliefs and the actions that flow from those beliefs. Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.” The Bible makes clear that civil government should neither infringe on our duties to God (Acts 5:17-42) nor coerce someone to believe or act contrary to their conscience (Daniel 1, 3, 6).
  3. Our right to live, and raise our children, according to the dictates of our faith is in jeopardy. And not only living out our faith just at home or church, but at work and in school and in public, too.
  4. Love for neighbor: We should work to ensure religious freedom is preserved not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors as well, whatever their faith may be.

Our founding fathers warned that a government willing to infringe religious liberty will soon begin violating other dearly held rights. James Madison, the ‘Father of the Constitution’ and our fourth president, rightly cautioned:

“There is not a truth to be gathered from history more certain than or more momentous than this: that civil liberty cannot long be separated from religious liberty without danger, and ultimately without destruction to both.”

The founding generation sacrificed much to secure our freedoms, as have generations of soldiers, statesmen, and citizens since. Christians today must take seriously their duty to preserve religious liberty for their neighbors and children, and for future generations.

For their sake and ours, let us recommit ourselves to this righteous cause, protecting our freedom to share the Gospel and our right to live, work, and raise our families according to the precepts of God’s Word.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

Idaho Lottery Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary. Should We Be Celebrating, Too?

LotteryCheckPicWith much fanfare, the Idaho Lottery observed its 30th anniversary last month, but is the occasion really worth celebrating?

Proponents of the Idaho Lottery trumpet the dividends it pays to Idaho K-12 public schools, which totaled $18.6 million in 2018. Yet that accounts for only 1.1 percent of the total state spending for K-12 public schools for the same year. Not exactly the windfall gain for public schools that supporters of the lottery make it out to be.

In truth, the Idaho Lottery creates victims and drains our economy. Gambling is accompanied by a host of social problems often exceeding any alleged benefits.

Most lottery tickets are purchased by the poorest Idahoans who can least afford it. A study conducted by Duke University researchers found that households making less than $25,000 annually spend more than double as much on lottery tickets as households with an annual income of more than $100,000. Researchers have also “found that the poorest third of households bought more than half of all weekly lottery tickets sold.”

Low-income lottery participants often redirect their spending from essential items (housing, food, education, and transportation) to purchasing lottery tickets. Despite the near impossible odds of winning it big, many of them see gaming as a ticket out of their financial difficulties, and the consequences of their gambling place an inordinate strain on their marriages and children.

While the state lottery brings in a negligible amount of funding for public schools and other government programs, it functions as a regressive tax on the poorest people in our state and discourages economically productive and socially beneficial behavior. As with most government schemes to wrest more dollars from the public, the problems caused by the lottery far outweigh any overstated benefits.

Through its lottery, the State of Idaho encourages poor financial decisions and behaviors that negatively affect families and communities. Certainly we shouldn’t be celebrating that.


This article was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

A “Fragile Superhero” Shows the Inherent Value of Children With Disabilities

KadenHave you heard about “fragile superhero” Kaden Casebolt? 

Kaden is a five-year-old boy born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a very rare disease that makes a person’s bones extraordinarily brittle.

Meeting with Kaden’s mom while she was still pregnant, doctors recommended she get an abortion. They informed the expectant mother there was a 95% chance her son wouldn’t survive birth. But even if he did, doctors said he wouldn’t survive long after.

Kaden’s mom declined to abort her preborn son. In an interview with BBC3 this summer, she says she made the right decision. 

Although Kaden has had over 40 broken bones requiring frequent surgeries, he “loves life.” Kaden is fascinated by superheroes, and he enjoys playing with his superhero action figures. He’s particularly fond of Superman, who impresses Kaden with his flying skills and suit.

“I think Kaden loves superheroes so much because he feels like he is one,” his mom said. “He’s already overcome so much, and he can still do the impossible.”

The doctors who recommended abortion were wrong, something Kaden’s mom says is evident in her son’s happiness and great potential.

“I’m very glad that I didn’t listen to the doctors who told me that he wouldn’t live, or walk, or do anything,” Kaden’s mom said. “If I did listen to them, then I wouldn’t have a strong little boy doing everything they said he couldn’t do.”

Every person deserves a chance at life. But too many preborn children with disabilities are aborted and denied the opportunity to live happy lives.

Thankfully for Kaden, he has parents who understood the infinite value of their son. They chose life.



This article was originally written for the Indiana Family Institute.


 

UK Doctors and Judges Sentence Another Innocent Baby Boy to Death


Update (6:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Despite ongoing efforts by Italian and Vatican diplomats to secure Alfie’s release, the hospital has removed the boy’s ventilator, and his hospital room has been surrounded by police officers. The English judge appears obstinately committed to his decision that Alfie’s life is not worth living, notwithstanding video published by LifeSiteNews earlier today showing that the toddler is “lively and alert.”


Update (2:00PM EST, 04/23/2018): Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that English authorities will release him for treatment at a hospital in Rome with ties to the Vatican. His doctors, resolute in their efforts to prevent the boy from receiving treatment elsewhere, planned to remove him from his ventilator today. The big question right now is whether the English are as determined to murder Italian citizens as they are to murder their own?


29789950_2042672899282211_9078872337536778240_nI am angry and upset that, for the second time in less than a year, the English legal and medical systems are conspiring to condemn a sick baby boy to death against the instructions of his parents.

Alfie Evans, who is now 23 months old, was taken to an English hospital in December 2016 to be treated for a lung infection. Some time later, he slipped into a coma. Doctors have been unable to diagnose Alfie’s malady, although they assume he has a mitochondrial disorder.

In February, the High Court in London agreed with doctors that the boy should be removed from life support, and the UK Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision. “Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile,” the judge wrote in the decision. Alfie’s parents, on the other hand, want to take Alfie to an Italian hospital with ties to the Vatican for treatment.

Whether Alfie will be given the opportunity to receive treatment in Italy is still to be seen. The inappropriately named European Court of Human Rights rejected the family’s request to seek treatment elsewhere, and the hospital plans to remove life support today.

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 9.20.28 PMThe ongoing case brings to mind Charlie Gard, who was murdered under similar circumstances by doctors and judges last summer. Gard’s parents brought him to a London hospital in October 2016 for breathing problems when he was three months old. Gard was subsequently diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder. In January 2017, he had seizures and fell into a coma. Claiming that the seizures had caused irreversible brain damage, Charlie’s doctors petitioned an English judge to grant them the ability to end his life, despite the ongoing discussions between his parents and an American doctor who was willing to administer an experimental treatment that might have saved Charlie’s life. Hospital officials prevailed in court (just like with Alfie, the European Court of Human Rights refused to hear Charlie’s case) and removed Charlie from life support last July.

Justice Francis, the High Court judge who heard Charlie’s case, ruled that “it is in Charlie’s best interests” for the hospital “to permit Charlie to die with dignity.” In his ruling, Justice Francis rejected the objections of those who ask why courts should make these decisions and override the rights of parents:

“The duty with which I am now charged is to decide, according to well laid down legal principles, what is in Charlie’s best interests. Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests.”

It is morally reprehensible for a judge to claim the power to decide whose lives are worth living and whose lives are not. Furthermore, it can only be described as a blatant infringement on parental rights when doctors and judges attempt to override decisions by parents regarding medical treatment for their children.

For the historically literate, Alfie and Charlie’s cases conjure up images of Nazi Germany, where doctors routinely euthanized the “unfit,” whose lives, in the eyes of politicians and doctors, weren’t “worth” living.

Lest we forget, physicians take an oath to “do no harm.” Although doctors shouldn’t be forced to provide care with which they personally or professionally disagree, they have no right to prevent parents from taking their children to another medical provider for treatment that may potentially prolong or improve the quality of life.

While the doctors involved in these two cases clearly overstepped their professional prerogative, they could not implement their murderous schemes without the legal support provided by English law and judges. Any government that presumes it has the power of life and death over its innocent citizens is tyrannical and monstrous. Any government that violates the natural right of parents to make medical decisions for their children is illegitimate, acting without authority, and flaunting the natural order, God’s law, and His design for human society.

Pray for little Alfie and his parents, both of whom are in their early twenties. Pray for the English authorities to repent and change direction. And pray that the American people will wake up and recover the conviction that life is sacred, lest our nation follow in England’s footsteps.