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.


 

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.


 

How Well Do You Know the Idaho Constitution?

IdahoFlag“We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.”

Like many of you, I cherish our federal constitution. Remarkably, not only has it produced the most free and prosperous society in human history, but it has outlived every other constitution adopted by other nations. During the 230 years our constitution has been in effect, France has had 15 constitutions, Brazil has had seven, and South Korea has had four. There should be no doubt that the U.S. Constitution is indeed “exceptional.”

Much of the reason for its success can be found in the “self-evident truths” that informed those wise men who framed our founding documents. These first principles, deeply rooted in divine truth as revealed through God’s Word and right reason, provided our founding fathers with a framework that would enable them to create the most just and enduring government the world has ever seen.

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, recognized Christianity as the source of these first principles. He said, “The authority of law, the right to equality, liberty, and property under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God.”

But did you know these same transcendent truths also served as the foundation for the Constitution of the State of Idaho, which was ratified by the people in 1889?

The opening line of the Idaho Constitution begins with the unashamed declaration that the people of Idaho are “grateful to Almighty God for our freedom.” From the very beginning, Idahoans and their state government recognized God’s providential role as the Author of our freedom. They joyfully gave thanks for the ways He has blessed the people of this state with the ability to enjoy their inalienable rights. How great is that?

For what purpose was constitutional state government instituted in Idaho? The Preamble answers that question: the people of Idaho have framed a constitution that will empower them to “secure [the] blessings” of our freedom and “promote our common welfare.”

Additionally, the framers of the Idaho Constitution recognized the equality of all people and sought to ensure that inalienable rights would be recognized and protected. “All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety.”

One of the most fundamental of these inalienable rights is religious freedom. Idahoans are constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty: “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.”

If our state government stays true to the eternal truths exemplified in the Idaho Constitution, we will remain a happy and prosperous people. Idaho families will flourish, and our children will enjoy the blessings of freedom.


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