Archive for the ‘Culture Shifts’ Category

Jack Phillips is the kind of gentleman that most of us would want for a neighbor. I know because I had the privilege of meeting Jack, visiting with him, and buying one of his cakes while recently in Denver.

Jack Phillips is an artist. He is gifted with the ability to paint and design masterpieces both on canvas and cakes. Jack owns and operates Masterpiece Cake Shop in Littleton, CO., and, in this way, has provided an honest living for his family.

Jack is a Christian who incorporates the teachings of Christ into his daily life and decisions. The masterpieces that he creates reflect Ephesians 2:10. So, on the day that Jack was asked to create a wedding reception cake for two men who had married outside of Colorado, Jack politely explained why he could not. Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jack is the kind of guy who invites others to believe what he believes, but does not force them. People of all colors, beliefs, and sexual identities come into Jack’s shop and he sells to all of them. But designing a wedding cake is very different from baking a brownie. “What I design,” says Jack, “is not just a tower of flour and sugar, but a message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event—a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration.”

Jack could not celebrate a same-sex marriage and remain faithful to God. “The two men coming into my shop that day were living out their beliefs,” explains Jack. “All I did was attempt to live out mine. I respect their right to choose and hoped they would respect mine.”

They did not. Instead of tolerance, Jack and his family received hate mail, obscene calls, death threats, and a law suit. Jack and his staff were ordered to undergo re-education and file quarterly “compliance” reports to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Jack stopped creating all wedding cakes and, suffering the loss of 40 percent of his income, was forced to lay off employees.

On December 5, Jack’s case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. As I await the decision, I know it will affect my religious freedom. It will affect the freedom to speak… or not speak… of us all.

The morning after Jack’s testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court, my morning devotions included Psalm 56. I could think of nothing better to give Jack than the words of this Psalm handwritten on a personal notecard:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
All day long they injure my cause
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the people, O God!
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalm 56:1-2, 5-11, 13 ESV)

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What about our children and grandchildren?

Is there hope?  Yes!

It makes no difference if we’re talking about music, the Christian faith, etiquette, speech, or clothing.  We teach our children best by equipping them to contrast what is good and right with what is not.

In his new book, Surprised by Beauty: A Listener’s Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music, Robert Reilly writes:

“I employed a very simple teaching method with my children.  I regularly showed them beautiful things and great movies and played for them some of the finest music.  I didn’t preach about these things; I simply let them experience them.  They gained an intuitive appreciation for beauty and were automatically repelled by ugliness.  I then let them explain to me what was wrong with it.  When my oldest son was still in grade school, he came back from seeing a movie with one of his classmates.  The father driving the car played only acid rock on the car radio.  My son returned very agitated about the music.  I asked him what was wrong with it.  He replied, “It is irritating to the mind.”  I then knew that what I was doing worked.”

Quote from an interview with Robert Reilly
by Michael Cook, MercatorNet, 5/26/17.


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There is a strange silence surrounding the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) on young girls.  Perhaps we are too anesthetized by the legalized mutilation and death of girls (and boys) in the womb through abortion.

According to a 2012 report of the CDC, an estimated “513,000 women and girls in the United States were at risk of or had been subjected to female genital mutilation.”  Amanda Parker of the Aha Foundation reports that “the increase in FGM in the U.S. is almost entirely, if not entirely, due to the increase in immigrants from countries where FGM is practiced.  Somalia, Egypt, Sudan and others all have very high rates of FGM with more than 90 percent of girls in each country undergoing this abusive practice.”

In America today, FGM is illegal in only 24 states.  My own state of Iowa does not outlaw this crime against women.

Why aren’t more of us speaking on behalf of little girls brutalized by FGM—or babies who feel pain during an abortion?  Because both FGM and abortion have been placed in a religious and cultural context.  Americans who once enjoyed civil discourse over contrasting perspectives now fear being offensive if we oppose or even question a faith or practice different from our own.  To “offend” someone in America today is to risk judgment for a “hate crime.”

FGM is protected by Sharia law.  Sharia law is part and parcel to the religion of Islam.  With Islam’s Sharia law also comes forced marriage, honor killings, pedophilia, sexual slavery… and Sharia courts.  

Christianity does not force marriage, honor murder, or defend sexual sin.  Christianity understands that God wants us to first love Him and then love our neighbors as much as ourselves.  Children are our littlest neighbors and we should not keep silent as they are being carried to the butcher.

Christianity understands that every boy and girl—in the womb or born—has value, not because of how their parents perceive them, but because of what Jesus did for them.  To silence a voice that protests FGM or abortion is to silence the Lord who says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.”  To silence a voice that exposes any child abuse is to silence Jesus the Shepherd who gathers the little ones in His arms.

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They said that Roe v. Wade would shift a nation toward reproductive freedom for women. But Baal demands what the Lord God does not. Nearly 60 million sacrificed babies and wounded mothers later, we ask: What has improved? In what way are women more free or healthier and happier? Are women and children less… or more at risk?


Aware of abortion’s piercing blade, thousands of my fellow pro-lifers joined the Annual March for Life on January 27 in our nation’s capital.   On that day, I was reading National Geographic’s Special Issue on “Gender Revolution.”  One contributor asked, “Can science help us navigate the shifting landscape of gender identity?” Again, Baal demands what God does not. Like fearful and navel-gazing societies before ours, we will cry “Freedom!” and burst “the chains that bind us.” We will think ourselves wise. Live as we desire. But when the “landscape” shifts, what kind of people will we be? Who among us will escape sorrow? Where will peace be found?


The landscape may shift. Souls will hunger and thirst. The cold, stone god Baal will be silent, but the Lord Jesus Christ will speak as He always has: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden. My burden is light. Repent… and fear not… for My love is steadfast and true.”


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Nehemiah buildingWhat is a Christian to do?  It’s as if God asks the impossible of us.  He wants us to build with one hand and resist evil with the other.  But with more cultural decay comes more evil.

Mindful of raising up a new generation of Christians but also keenly aware of our own inadequacies and failures, parents, pastors, and all who love children become discouraged and even fearful.  With fear comes the temptation to doubt the sufficiency of God’s Word and more easily accept the help of passionate unbelievers.  “Why do you cling to ancient traditions?” they ask.  “Can’t you see?  We have something new!”

There is a lesson to be learned from God’s people who, in a time before us, were also discouraged, overwhelmed, and taunted by unbelieving neighbors who offered something new.

The remnant of Israel that had survived exile in Persia returned home to find the walls of Jerusalem broken down and city gates destroyed.  To this small number of faithful people was given the arduous task of re-building the temple and walls of Jerusalem.  God also wanted His people to grow faithful families.  He wanted them to be holy and set apart in their worship and practice.  When people in the neighboring land saw that Jerusalem was being restored, they offered their help.  After all, these people explained, they worshipped God, too.  (In reality, they were a people of blended religions.)  Fearing that they would commit themselves to false worship, the Israelite fathers refused the offer of resources and help.  They knew that God had entrusted the job of rebuilding the temple and walls only to them.  So “the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose” (Ezra 4:4-5).

The culture in which God’s people found themselves made the building project very difficult, but the Word of the Lord consistently commanded the people to persevere.  God also reminded His people that they were to be holy and set apart for His good purpose.  But the people of Israel, following the example of some of their leaders, mixed themselves with the Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and others through marriage (9:1-2).  The people were guilty of breaking faith with God and allowing impurity of worship, teaching, and practice.  There was confession and absolution but, because the potential for continued corruption of worship was so great, illegal marriages were identified and ended (10:18-19).  The rebuilding of the temple, restoration of the walls, and growing of faithful families began anew.

However, when the neighbors in the land saw that the Israelites were again doing the work of God in rebuilding Jerusalem, they were angry.  “[T]hey all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it” (Neh. 4:8).  It was easy to cause confusion and discouragement among the Israelites because fathers, mothers, and grandparents were overwhelmed by the task that lay before them.  “There is too much rubble.  By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall” (4:10).  The enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work” (4:11).  Nehemiah encouraged the people, “Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (4:14).  When the walls were rebuilt and the gates restored, the law of God was read to the people who were both joyful and repentant (chapters 8 and 9).

Everything was coming back into order and Israel was prepared to live by the truth of God’s Word.  What could go wrong?  What went wrong is incredibly significant.  Eliashib, the priest appointed over the chambers of God, gave Tobiah the Ammonite a place in the temple (13:4-5).  Under the guise of helping God’s people, Tobiah was given a room formerly used to store the offering for God.  There, within the temple, sat Tobiah and his possessions.  Nehemiah was away when this happened, but when he returned, he “was very angry, and [he] threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.  Then [he] gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and [he] brought back there the vessels of the house of God” (13:8-9).

God entrusted the rebuilding of His temple and the city walls to His people.  He entrusted the growing of holy families to husbands and wives equipped with His Word.  He does the same today.

God wants His people to keep their worship, teaching, and practices pure and different from that of the dark and unbelieving world.  Certainly, there are resources in the world that can be practical and helpful to the Christian.  But we must take care especially when it comes to instructing Jesus’ little ones.  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10).  It is a frightening thing indeed to compromise one of the Father’s children.

Compromise happens, however, when God’s people are weary and burdened, or prideful and above reproach.  Compromise happens when we let down our guard and grow comfortable with the world.  At such times it is easier for an opposing foe to gain access by offering some kind of help or resource.  It was for this reason that Nehemiah “stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows … each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built” (Neh. 4:13, 18).  The men were on guard at night and labored by day (22).

We are weary and overwhelmed by a multitude of life issues.   Sometimes we are prideful after doubting God’s Word and trusting something else.   As the culture decays and evil abounds, we may believe that God asks the impossible of us.  But, Martin Luther reminds us that the task of rebuilding the temple and shoring up walls was given to a weak people, few in number; a people against whom stood powerful princes and nations, which lived round about and daily threatened imminent destruction.

There will be days when failure distracts us from the building project.  There will be those like Tobiah who mock our faithfulness to an ancient faith while tempting us with new practices.  In the face of evil, let it be said of us:  Look!  They remember “the Lord who is great and awesome,” and they “fight for [their] brothers…sons…daughters…wives…and homes” (Neh. 4:14).

Excerpted from The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(pp 61-63) by Linda Bartlett;
Amazon.com.  Please also visit Our Identity Matters.
Image: mudpreacher.org

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children sketch

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when sex education was brought into schools and churches.  “We are sexual from birth, so let’s get comfortable with it!”  Five decades later, communities are brimming with “nobodies” who were denied their childhood; who know a lot about sex but very little about manhood and womanhood; who are cohabitating, pregnant but unwed, fearful, depressed, relationally dysfunctional, discontent, insecure, and paranoid about “sexual identity.”

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when abortion was legalized.  Today, mothers, fathers, and grandparents grieve lost relationships with 56 million “nobodies.”  Our nation is poorer economically because 56 million “nobodies” do not pay taxes, buy products, or invest in communities.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when girls were told that “equal means being the same.”  In the effort to equalize the “playing field”—in sports, the workplace, and the bedroom—girls were taught that the two genders, male and female, are interchangeable.  Today, three generations of “nobodies” are at odds with their own bodies and minds.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when gay and lesbian advocates began to circulate the schools.  That’s what they said when same-sex “marriage” was legalized.   That’s what they said when restrooms were changed from “men” and “women” to “whatever” so that people who have trouble identifying themselves can use whichever they please.  How many “nobodies” will have to suffer the consequences?  How many impressionable “nobodies” will believe the unnatural is “normal?”

Do we really think that nobody will get hurt when we tamper with God’s design?

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  She is a feminist, social critic, and a lesbian.   She is also surprising.  When it comes to “identity politics” and transgenderism, Paglia says, “This hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I?  Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing while, in the Middle East, ISIS is beheading people.  It is a kind of madness of self-absorption.”

Paglia says she pities “young people today” because “it’s one thing to feel, ‘I’m not quite comfortable in the gender I was assigned at birth,’ but the pressures are to change, change, change, and to telegraph it to the world.  People are pushed into making choices about surgical interventions and taking hormones, which is dangerous, and they will have all kinds of medical problems in the long run.”

Paglia believes “there are authentic transgender people who had a genetic issue from the start” and points out that “medical science is still developing to help these people.”   But transgenderism has “become a fashion statement, or a mask [for other problems].  People are being induced to think that all their unhappiness—in family life, in school, in relation to society—is to do with this gender issue.  Well, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe there are other issues a person needs to deal with.”

In a way, Paglia is speaking about the “nobodies that won’t get hurt” or, in this case, today’s college students.   She says, “They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilizations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell.”

She continues, “If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure … .‘”  This is their “magical utopian view,” explains Paglia, that “we are marching toward perfection.”  But what is the “sign of this progress?”  They believe it is “toleration,” observes Paglia, “for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.”

But to Paglia, “[I]t’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilization just before it falls.”

Babylon and Rome did fall.  They fell because men and women shaped themselves after the imaginations of their own heart.  They exchanged the natural for the unnatural and were foolish enough to believe that nobody would get hurt.

Our civilization may be rushing toward the abyss, but the Christian can blaze trail away from destruction.  We do this when we believe that there is no such thing as a “nobody” to God.  Every child—born or yet to be born—is already redeemed and called by name (Is. 43:1).  Every child—born or yet to be born—will be affected by what we do or do not tolerate.

We may wrestle with our identity and, therefore, the way we choose to live.  But, the Lord identifies us in His Prayer when He invites us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven.”   We are not “debtors to the flesh.”  We are not slaves to our own fear.  What we are, in Christ, is God’s adopted heirs!  Tolerating no other identity, we and our children’s children can navigate out of hopelessness and away from the abyss.

Quotes of Camille Paglia are excerpted from an article by Carolyn Moynihan
(“Navy-gazing about gender while the world burns,” Mercatornet)
and an interview with Camille Paglia by Ella Whelan of Spiked
Graphic: Etsy

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Gold Bands Showing Eternal Commitment

Recently, I was given the opportunity to respond to an 8th grade student who had written a paper for her American History class favoring same-sex “marriage.”  Anya began her defense of same-sex “marriage” by praising Harvey Milk, “an openly gay politician in California who was only in office eleven months before he was assassinated.  Harvey “opened the door for us to now be able to talk about gay rights issues.”  Anya explained that “Mr. Milk started a revolution . . . If Harvey Milk wouldn’t have fought so hard, gay marriage may not be legal.  It needs to be legal.  It is a basic human right to love and marry who you love.” 

In conclusion Anya wrote, “Love who you love, marry who you love, and love your life, because it is your Constitutional right. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

What follows is my response to Anya.

Dear Anya,

Thanks for letting me take this opportunity to respond to your paper on same-sex marriage.  I’m a woman who is involved in our present-day culture as a national speaker, author, and advocate for human life.  I respect people, no matter their differences of opinion.  I care enough to ask questions, listen to the responses, and remain someone’s friend even when we don’t agree.

As you are learning in American History, men and women—human beings in general—will always have differing perspectives on what we should and should not do.  Whatever the faith or worldview of a person might be, it should influence that person’s decision-making and actions.  Perhaps one of the best things about a nation like the United States is that it allows for different faiths or worldviews to be expressed, lived, and judged as helpful in building up—or tearing down—society and the nation.

America is truly “exceptional” because it defends the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  But what is the origin of those “rights”?  Did we give them to ourselves?  And from where does life come?  Is it an accident, or by design?  Who ultimately defines liberty and who grants it?  Does the pursuit of happiness mean that every citizen gets to do anything we darn well please, or does it mean that we have the opportunity to pursue right things for the benefit of not just ourselves, but our family and neighbors, too?

Sexual Revolutionaries: Good for Society?

As you report, Harvey Milk was an openly gay politician.  It is a crime against humanity that he was assassinated.  Someone took it upon themselves to deny him the “right to life.”   Murder—be it the murder of an adult man like Harvey Milk or a pre-born child residing in his or her mother’s womb—is never right.  Harvey has been remembered by some as the man who opened the door for this country to talk about “gay rights.”  But two questions should be asked by any critical thinker.  1) Is a human being defined by their sexual behavior, or something more?  And, 2) If homosexuality is “normal” and “good,” why is sickness and a shorter life span associated with its practice?  Harvey Milk may have had the freedom to express his thoughts and beliefs, but like all of us, he also bore the responsibility of proving why those beliefs would be helpful to himself, his neighbors, and the future of the country in which he lives.

No matter what one’s opinions or religion (i.e. secular humanism, atheism, Islam, New Age, Buddhism, or Christianity) might be, the holder of that belief bears the responsibility of allowing it to be put to the test.  When a person like Harvey Milk proclaims his belief, he must be open to discussing the consequences of that belief.  He must show why calling the union of two men or two women “marriage” when it was not instituted as that (nor ever could be that) is in the best interests of an entire society.

It is always appropriate for citizens to hear someone’s opinion or belief, discuss it, and choose to act or not act upon it.  Whether we agree or disagree, we owe one another the honesty of facts rather than emotion, kindness rather than meanness, general welfare of neighbors rather than “me, myself, and I,” and long-range perspective rather than “all I care about is right here, right now.”

Alfred Kinsey is another person in our American history who started a revolution.  It was the revolution, in fact, that opened the door for men like Harvey Milk.  Alfred Kinsey was a practicing homosexual, pedophile, and perpetrator of hideous crimes against humanity.  His theory was that “children are sexual from birth,” and to make that claim stick, he knowingly allowed convicted pedophiles to sexually abuse and experiment with children, ages six months to 14 years of age.  He took the “statistics” gathered from those experiments, called them “science,” and used them to prove that children and adults alike should be permitted to participate in any kind of sex if it brought them pleasure.  After 30 years of research and study of Kinsey, Dr. Judith Reisman and others proved that Kinsey had abused science in order to change public opinion on sex and the teaching of sex to children.  But it was too late.  Kinsey, a zoologist with absolutely no respect for women, had changed the way we view men, women, and children.

Yes, Kinsey had freedom to express his beliefs.  But he did not have the freedom to abuse science, use deceit, or do harm.  The duty of the American public was to question Kinsey.  Not to call him names, or belittle him, or deny him the right to speak, but to ask him to show the source of his “science,” reveal the methods used for research, and verify his data.

The same is true with same-sex “marriage.”  Anyone who demands that marriage become what it was never intended to be should be asked to give evidence of why non-traditional, two men or two women, and intentional non-procreative marriage is healthy, sustainable, and in the best interest of family, society and civilization.  In Rome, it was common for a man to have a sexual relationship with a young boy, but even Rome never legalized same-sex “marriage.”   Why?  Because Romans knew that marriage, and the stability of the family, was foundational to Rome’s existence.  For this reason, when a boy was old enough, he was expected to marry a woman and father children for whom he would be responsible.

Marriage: To Anyone I Love?

Marriage does not intrinsically mean uniting oneself to someone you love and who makes you “feel good.”

That brings us to the now popular thinking that “as long as you love someone, you should be able to marry them.”  I love my dad.  I love my brother.  I love my son.  I love my niece.  I love my best friend, Jane.  Can I love them so much that I want to marry them?  Maybe.  But is it in your best interest that my “right” to marry my son becomes the law of the land?  Is something in jeopardy here?  And what will be the cost?

Marriage is not founded on someone’s concept of love.  Human concepts and ideas of love are changing all the time.  Today, I love you.  Tomorrow, I don’t.  Or, I love you because you make me feel good about myself.  But when you don’t make me feel good about myself, I won’t love you anymore.  And so on and so on.

Here’s where love needs to be put to the test, too.  Love is about more than feelings.  It is about patience, kindness, selflessness, and perseverance in good and bad times.  Marriage requires this kind of love.  Marriage also requires one man and one woman, two different genders, because it makes biological sense!  Not only do male and female fit together perfectly to create new little humans, but they also mentor male and female characteristics… both needed by a son or daughter.  Even if two men or two women (who call themselves “married”) don’t have children of their own, but adopt or use a surrogate mother or in vitro fertilization, it is unfair and actually quite selfish to intentionally deny any child the right of both a mother (female) and a father (male).

For many years, I have kept a file of the testimonies and true stories of women who thought they were in love with another woman and so took up the lesbian lifestyle, or men who thought they were in love with another man so took up the gay lifestyle.  The relationships did not last.  Why?  Because they were built on an idea of love, and not the truth and faithfulness of love.

Have you ever noticed that even in a same-sex relationship, one plays the role of “husband” (or the male) and one plays the role of the “wife” (or the female)?  It’s true!  A young friend of mine “married” a woman.  Her partner took on the role of the “man” and she took on the role of the “woman.”  My young friend became pregnant by way of in vitro fertilization and she stayed home to be the “mom.”  Her partner went outside the home to play the “male” role of “provider.”  Now, years later, my young friend is hurting.  She is in conflict with herself, with nature, and with the God she says she believes in.  She might be wondering: What am I teaching my little boy about the value of becoming a man?  How can I help him learn about manhood when he’s being parented by two moms?

Alfred Kinsey and Harvey Milk may be commended for their courage in speaking up about things they believed to be true.  But can we see the consequences of what happens when all ideas are considered “equal” and valid?

People are equal, yes! 

People of different colors, nationalities, and cultures are equal, yes! 

But not all ideas, desires, and practices (sexual or otherwise) are equal.  They must be questioned and put to the test.

Anya, that is the responsibility of people like you and me.  It is ok to differ in thought and behavior.   But with concern for more than just ourselves, we must wisely consider the consequences of each thought and every behavior.

With sincere respect for you as a person,


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