Archive for the ‘Albert Mohler’ Category

The 2012 U.S. election is over, and more than 100 million Americans  participated in the great exercise of democracy — fulfilling the  franchise of the vote. Even with some votes not yet counted and some  issues as yet clarified, a general picture of the election is clearly in  view, and the impact of this election will be both massive and  enduring.

Several lessons emerge in the immediate aftermath of the election and Christians should consider them carefully.

A Decisive Victory

First,  we must recognize that President Barack Obama won a decisive and clear  victory, surging to over 300 votes in the Electoral College before  midnight. Against the expectations of many, the President held his 2008  coalition together. Voting intensity among younger Americans,  African-Americans, Hispanics, and other crucial constituencies held  firm. Once the election results started coming in, an Obama victory came  quickly into view.

Barack Obama avoided the ignominy of an  electoral repudiation and may also have won the popular vote. The  decisive nature of his win spared the nation the agonies of the 2000  election and points to a major political realignment. Other issues also  became clear. The election returns and voting data indicate that  President Obama’s “evolution” on the issue of same-sex marriage cost him  nothing. That probably surprised both sides in that controversy.

Christians  must now pray for our President. As the Apostle Paul instructs us,  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,  and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in  high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and  dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 ESV) We should eagerly and  urgently pray for our President. We should pray for his health and his  family, for his stamina and his character. We should even pray that he  and his administration will be remembered as one of the greatest of our  nation’s history, measured even by the convictions that are most  important to us.

We are rightly and deeply concerned. We must pray  that God will change President Obama’s heart on a host of issues,  ranging from the sanctity of unborn life to the integrity of marriage.  We must push back against his contraception mandate that tramples upon  religious liberty. Given the trajectory of his first term in office, we  are urgently concerned about a second term, knowing that the President  will never again face the electorate.

As the President  acknowledged in his speech last night, our nation faces huge challenges.  We must pray that President Obama will lead in a spirit of national  unity and mutual respect, bringing Americans together to resolve these  ominous problems. Incredible responsibility now rests on his shoulders.  He has won a second term, now he must rightly lead.

A Divided Electorate

As  morning dawned, the election of 2012 looms as one of the closest in  American history. At 2:00 a.m., only 240,000 votes out of more than 103  million cast separated President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. That is a  margin of .3% and would rank the election as the third closest, falling  behind the slim margins of the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and  Richard M. Nixon and the 1880 election between James Garfield and  Winfield S. Hancock.

The margin in the Electoral College is  significant, but the popular vote reveals a deeply divided nation. The  nation is divided politically, but that divide points to a division at  the level of worldview. The 2012 election makes clear that Americans are  divided over fundamental questions. Americans are divided into camps  that define and see the world in fundamentally different terms. The  election did not cause this division, it merely revealed it. This deep  division at the level of worldview presents President Obama with a  daunting political challenge, but a worldview crisis is an even greater  challenge for the church.

A Changed and Changing Electorate

Fundamental  changes to the American electorate also became evident. Vast  demographic changes mean that the electorate is far more ethnically,  culturally, and ideologically diverse. The electorate is becoming more  secular. Recent studies have indicated that the single greatest  predictor of voting patterns is the frequency of church attendance. Far  fewer Americans now attend church, and a recent study indicated that  fully 20% of all Americans identify with no religious preference at all.  The secularizing of the electorate will have monumental consequences.

America  is becoming more urbanized, and this also changes voting patterns.  Younger voters are disproportionately identified in ethnic terms,  pointing to long-term electoral shifts. Fewer Americans are married and  fewer have children in the home. This, too, changes voting habits. These  are just a few of the factors pointing to a fundamental change in the  nation.

The Demise of the Republican Coalition

Though  many Republicans will draw encouragement from the popular vote, the  Electoral College now confronts the Republican Party as a massive  problem. The map just does not add up for Republicans in terms of the  present reality, much less the shape of the future. Put simply, the  Republican Party cannot win unless it becomes the party of aspiration  for younger Americans and Hispanic Americans. Otherwise, it will soon  become a retirement community for aging conservatives. The party’s  position on immigration is disastrous, and it is at odds with the  party’s own values.

No party can win if it is seen as  heartless. No party can win if it appeals only to white and older  Americans. No party can win if it looks more like the way to the past  than the way to the future. The Republican Party could not defeat a  sitting President with a weak economy and catastrophic unemployment. As  columnist George Will has said, a party that cannot win under these  circumstances might need to look for another line of work.

The  Republican Party will surely enter into a period of intense  self-examination and a struggle for the future shape and direction of  the party. That fight will be necessary, and it will be important to  those of us who are concerned about a range of issues.

A Catastrophe on Moral Issues

Evangelical  Christians must see the 2012 election as a catastrophe for crucial  moral concerns. The election of President Obama returns a radically  pro-abortion President to the White House, soon after he had endorsed  same-sex marriage. President Obama is likely to have the opportunity to  appoint one or more justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are  almost sure to agree with his constitutional philosophy.

Furthermore,  at least two states, Maine and Maryland, legalized same-sex marriage  last night. Washington State is likely to join them once the votes there  are counted. An effort to pass a constitutional amendment preventing  same-sex marriage went down to defeat in Minnesota. These came after 33  states had passed some measure defining marriage as the union of a man  and a woman. After 33 victories, last night brought multiple defeats.

Other states considered issues ranging  from abortion and marijuana to assisted suicide. While not all were  lost, the moral shift was evident in the voting patterns.

Clearly,  we face a new moral landscape in America, and huge challenge to those  of us who care passionately about these issues. We face a worldview  challenge that is far greater than any political challenge, as we must  learn how to winsomely convince Americans to share our moral convictions  about marriage, sex, the sanctity of life, and a range of moral issues.  This will not be easy. It is, however, an urgent call to action.

More than the Presidency Was at Stake

Scores  of other offices were at stake in the 2012 election, and at every  level. The lack of complete election results leaves many unanswered  questions this morning, but one big fact is known — the U.S. Senate  will remain in Democratic hands. As a matter of fact, this election may  well point to a liberal shift in that body. The election of Elizabeth  Warren (MA) and Tammy Baldwin (WI) and the re-election of Sherrod Brown  (OH) point in this direction. Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly-gay  candidate elected to the U.S. Senate.

It’s Not Really About Politics

Christians  must never see political action as an end, but only as a means. We can  never seek salvation through the voting booth, and we must never look  for a political messiah. Nevertheless, Christians do bear a political  responsibility, established in love of God and love of neighbor. We are  rightly concerned about this world, but only to a limited extent. Our  main concern is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Being in the world but  not of the world has never been easy. The 2012 election underlines the  challenges we now face and the responsibilities we dare not neglect.

Adam Gopnik is a gifted essayist and writer whose contributions, often published in The New Yorker, are almost always thoughtful and interesting. Nevertheless, one of his most recent writings is deeply disturbing, and at the deepest level.

Reflecting on the debate between Vice President Joseph Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, Gopnik registered alarm at “something genuinely disturbing and scary” that had been said by Paul Ryan. Gopnik first complained that Biden and Ryan should not have even been asked about the role their Roman Catholic faith plays in their thinking, specifically on the issue of abortion.


Gopnik then wrote:

Paul Ryan did not say, as John Kennedy had said before him, that faith was faith and public service, public service, each to be honored and kept separate from the other. No, he said instead ‘I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith. Our faith informs us in everything we do.’ That’s a shocking answer—a mullah’s answer, what those scary Iranian “Ayatollahs” he kept referring to when talking about Iran would say as well. Ryan was rejecting secularism itself, casually insisting, as the Roman Catholic Andrew Sullivan put it, that ‘the usual necessary distinction between politics and religion, between state and church, cannot and should not exist.’”

Gopnik accuses Paul Ryan of reasoning like a mullah and rejecting any distinction between church and state. Ryan did no such thing, of course. Instead, Ryan stated the obvious — “Our faith informs us in everything we do.” Any faith of substance will inform every dimension of our lives. It is hard to imagine that Adam Gopnik would have complained or even taken offense if a similar statement had been made, for example, by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., concerning his advocacy for civil rights.

Our total worldview inevitably “informs us in everything we do.” Paul Ryan was simply responding with honesty, and he did not call for a theocracy. Interestingly, Joseph Biden, though a champion of a woman’s right to choose, has repeatedly claimed the influence of his Roman Catholic faith in other arenas of public policy, especially economics. This has not elicited similar cries from liberals, accusing Biden of attempting to forge a theocracy.

Gopnik attempted to make his position clear, arguing that religious beliefs “should not inform us in everything we do, or there would be no end to the religious warfare that our tolerant founders feared.” Mr. Gopnik would no doubt be surprised to discover that many of the founders were not so tolerant, in his sense, as he believes. A good many argued for the absolute necessity of theism as a foundation for morality and civil society. In any event, does he really believe that a candidate’s most deeply held convictions should have no influence in his or her thinking on the most serious of issues? That is not only impossible; it is absurd.

As off-base as his complaint on this issue is, however, it pales in contrast to the argument Gopnik then turned to make. He referred to the fact that Ryan defended the right to life of the unborn, and that Ryan and his wife had named their unborn first child “Bean” as an affectionate reference to the shape on the ultrasound image. Gopnik asserted that “a bean is exactly what the photograph shows—a seed, a potential, a thing that might yet grow into something greater, just as a seed has the potential to become a tree. A bean is not a baby.”

There is no mistaking Gopnik’s claim — that the image of the unborn Ryan child revealed only a bean, and not a baby.

Gopnik then wrote:

The fundamental condition of life is that it develops, making it tricky sometimes to say when it’s fully grown and when it isn’t, but always easy to say that there is a difference and that that difference is, well, human life itself. It is this double knowledge that impacts any grownup thinking about abortion: that it isn’t life that’s sacred—the world is full of life, much of which Paul Ryan wants to cut down and exploit and eat done medium rare. It is conscious, thinking life that counts, and where and exactly how it begins (and ends) is so complex a judgment that wise men and women, including some on the Supreme Court, have decided that it is best left, at least at its moments of maximum ambiguity, to the individual conscience (and the individual conscience’s doctor).”

Chillingly, Gopnik limits human dignity to “conscious, thinking life.” This is the life “that counts,” he claimed.

Clearly, Gopnik agrees with those who restrict human dignity to persons who achieve “conscious, thinking life,” and apparently only for so long as they maintain that state of consciousness and thinking ability. This is the horrifying logic of the German doctors of the Weimar Republic who argued that certain human beings were not fully deserving of life — deemed “life unworthy of life.” They argued that certain abilities or characteristics must be acquired and maintained in order for life to be “worthy of life.”

I am quite certain that Adam Gopnik, who writes so movingly of his love of fatherhood, did not mean to associate with the full impact of such an argument, but his own assertions lead to the very same conclusion. We must note that Gopnik goes so far as to cast doubt, not only on when “conscious, thinking life” begins, but where it ends. Did the readers of The New Yorker even notice?

This is the logic of the Culture of Death, and it is an assault upon the dignity and worth of every human being. There was indeed “something genuinely disturbing and scary” said with reference to the Vice Presidential Debate, but it wasn’t said by Paul Ryan. It was written by Adam Gopnik.

The Christian worldview must direct all consideration of sexuality to  the institution of marriage. Marriage is not merely the arena for  sexual activity, it is presented in Scripture as the divinely-designed  arena for the display of God’s glory on earth as a man and a wife come  together in a one-flesh relationship within the marriage covenant.  Rightly understood and rightly ordered, marriage is a picture of God’s  own covenantal faithfulness. Marriage is to display God’s glory, reveal  God’s good gifts to His creatures, and protect human beings from the  inevitable disaster that follows when sexual passions are divorced from  their rightful place.

The marginalization of marriage, and the open antipathy with which  many in the culture elite approach the question of marriage, produces a  context in which Christians committed to a marriage ethic appear  hopelessly out of step with the larger culture. Whereas marriage is seen  as a privatized contract to be made and unmade at will in the larger  society, Christians must see marriage as an inviolable covenant made  before God and man, that establishes both temporal and eternal  realities.

Christians have no right to be embarrassed when it comes to talking  about sex and sexuality. An unhealthy reticence or embarrassment in  dealing with these issues is a form of disrespect to God’s creation.  Whatever God made is good, and every good thing God made has an intended  purpose that ultimately reveals His own glory. When conservative  Christians respond to sex with ambivalence or embarrassment, we slander  the goodness of God and hide God’s glory which is intended to be  revealed in the right use of creation’s gifts.

Therefore, our first responsibility is to point all persons  toward the right use of God’s good gifts and the legitimacy of sex in  marriage as one vital aspect of God’s intention in marriage from the  beginning.

Many individuals–especially young men–hold a false expectation of  what sex represents within the marriage relationship. Since the male sex  drive is largely directed towards genital pleasure, men often assume  that women are just the same. While physical pleasure is certainly an  essential part of the female experience of sex, it is not as focused on  the solitary goal of genital fulfillment as is the case with many men.

A biblical worldview understands that God has demonstrated His glory  in both the sameness and the differences that mark men and women, male  and female. Alike made in the image of God, men and women are literally  made for each other. The physicality of the male and female  bodies cries out for fulfillment in the other. The sex drive calls both  men and women out of themselves and toward a covenantal relationship  which is consummated in a one-flesh union.

By definition, sex within marriage is not merely the accomplishment  of sexual fulfillment on the part of two individuals who happen to share  the same bed. Rather, it is the mutual self-giving that reaches  pleasures both physical and spiritual. The emotional aspect of sex  cannot be divorced from the physical dimension of the sex act. Though  men are often tempted to forget this, women possess more and less gentle  means of making that need clear.

Consider the fact that a woman has every right to expect that her  husband will earn access to the marriage bed. As the Apostle Paul  states, the husband and wife no longer own their own bodies, but each  now belongs to the other. At the same time, Paul instructed men to love  their wives even as Christ has loved the church. Even as wives are  commanded to submit to the authority of their husbands, the husband is  called to a far higher standard of Christ-like love and devotion toward  the wife.

Therefore, when I say that a husband must regularly “earn” privileged  access to the marital bed, I mean that a husband owes his wife the  confidence, affection, and emotional support that would lead her to  freely give herself to her husband in the act of sex.

God’s gift of sexuality is inherently designed to pull us out of  ourselves and toward our spouse. For men, this means that marriage calls  us out of our self-focused concern for genital pleasure and toward the  totality of the sex act within the marital relationship.

Put most bluntly, I believe that God means for a man to be civilized,  directed, and stimulated toward marital faithfulness by the fact that  his wife will freely give herself to him sexually only when he presents  himself as worthy of her attention and desire.

Perhaps specificity will help to illustrate this point. I am  confident that God’s glory is seen in the fact that a married man,  faithful to his wife, who loves her genuinely, will wake up in the  morning driven by ambition and passion in order to make his wife proud,  confident, and assured in her devotion to her husband. A husband who  looks forward to sex with his wife will aim his life toward those things  that will bring rightful pride to her heart, will direct himself to her  with love as the foundation of their relationship, and will present  himself to her as a man in whom she can take both pride and  satisfaction.

Consider these two pictures. The first picture is of a man who has  set himself toward a commitment to sexual purity, and is living in  sexual integrity with his wife. In order to fulfill his wife’s rightful  expectations and to maximize their mutual pleasure in the marriage bed,  he is careful to live, to talk, to lead, and to love in such a way that  his wife finds her fulfillment in giving herself to him in love. The sex  act then becomes a fulfillment of their entire relationship, not an  isolated physical act that is merely incidental to their love for each  other. Neither uses sex as means of manipulation, neither is  inordinately focused merely on self-centered personal pleasure, and both  give themselves to each other in unapologetic and unhindered sexual  passion. In this picture, there is no shame. Before God, this man can be  confident that he is fulfilling his responsibilities both as a male and as a man.  He is directing his sexuality, his sex drive, and his physical  embodiment toward the one-flesh relationship that is the perfect  paradigm of God’s intention in creation.

By contrast, consider another man. This man lives alone, or at least  in a context other than holy marriage. Directed inwardly rather than  outwardly, his sex drive has become an engine for lust and  self-gratification. Pornography is the essence of his sexual interest  and arousal. Rather than taking satisfaction in his wife, he looks at  dirty pictures in order to be rewarded with sexual arousal that comes  without responsibility, expectation, or demand. Arrayed before him are a  seemingly endless variety of naked women, sexual images of explicit  carnality, and a cornucopia of perversions intended to seduce the  imagination and corrupt the soul.

This man need not be concerned with his physical appearance, his  personal hygiene, or his moral character in the eyes of a wife. Without  this structure and accountability, he is free to take his sexual  pleasure without regard for his unshaved face, his slothfulness, his  halitosis, his body odor, and his physical appearance. He faces no  requirement of personal respect, and no eyes gaze upon him in order to  evaluate the seriousness and worthiness of his sexual desire. Instead,  his eyes roam across the images of unblinking faces, leering at women  who make no demands upon him, who never speak back, and who can never  say no. There is no exchange of respect, no exchange of love, and  nothing more than the using of women as sex objects for his individual  and inverted sexual pleasure.

These two pictures of male sexuality are deliberately intended to  drive home the point that every man must decide who he will be, whom he  will serve, and how he will love. In the end, a man’s decision about  pornography is a decision about his soul, a decision about his marriage,  a decision about his wife, and a decision about God.

Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a  corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own  self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the  institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To  choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god  Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.

The deliberate use of pornography is nothing less than the willful  invitation of illicit lovers and objectified sex objects and forbidden  knowledge into a man’s heart, mind, and soul. The damage to the man’s  heart is beyond measure, and the cost in human misery will only be made  clear on the Day of Judgment. From the moment a boy reaches puberty  until the day he is lowered into the ground, every man will struggle  with lust. Let us follow the biblical example and scriptural command  that we make a covenant with our eyes lest we sin. In this society, we  are called to be nothing less than a corps of the mutually accountable  amidst a world that lives as if it will never be called to account.

Is President Obama’s “evolution” on same sex marriage finally complete? His call for the legalization of same-sex marriage yesterday is an historic and tragic milestone. An incumbent President of the United States has now called for a transformation of civilization’s central institution. And yet, no observer of this president could be surprised. The arrival of this announcement was only a matter of time.

The White House confirmed this within hours of the President’s announcement. As The New York Times reported on May 10, “Advisers say now that Mr. Obama had intended since early this year to  define his position sometime before Democrats nominate him for  re-election in September.”

Previous news reports indicated that the 2012 platform for the Democratic Party would likely include a call for same-sex marriage. The pressure was on the White House, with the President caught in an awkward and embarrassing situation in which major figures on both sides of the controversy believed that his public position did not reflect his true convictions.

In December of 2010, the President told Jake Tapper of ABC News, “My feelings about this are constantly evolving.” Last October, he told George Stephanopoulos, “I’m still working on it.” As Dan Amira of New York magazine summarized that comment, “President Obama won’t say if he’ll stop pretending to oppose gay marriage before the election.”

In August of 2008, running for the White House, President Obama had said: “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.  Now, for  me as a Christian — for me — for me as a Christian, it is also a  sacred union.  God’s in the mix.”

In February of 1996, running for state office in Illinois, Obama signed a letter to a homosexual newspaper in Chicago that included the statement, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” So, his statement today puts him back where he was on the record as recently as 1996 — calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The President’s position since 2008 has been untenable. Having endorsed same-sex marriage when running for office in 1996, he evidently changed his position as he ran for the U. S. Senate in 2004 and for president in 2008. Since then, his language and his actions have been contradictory. He has said that he opposes same-sex marriage, but he ordered his Attorney General not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Officials in his administration openly advocated same-sex marriage, even as the President dropped hint after hint that he did as well. The President found himself facing the fact that he would have to declare himself one way or the other on the question as the 2012 election unfolded — so now we know.

Why now? The Washington Post reports that he was under intense pressure from many Democrats, including his major campaign fundraisers. According to the paper’s report, one in six of the President’s major “bundlers,” or fundraisers, is a self-identified homosexual.

The immediate pressure came after Vice President Joe Biden said last Sunday that he was “completely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. The Vice President’s statement on the issue delivered full support for same-sex marriage. On Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan followed Biden’s lead.

The President was under intense pressure within his party, but the issue quickly turned to an issue of presidential character. No one made this point more directly than Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post, in a column that ran yesterday morning. “Same-sex marriage is turning into a test of character and leadership for President Obama,” she wrote, “Does he favor it, or doesn’t he? In the wake of Vice President Biden’s remarks supportive of marriage equality, the continued presidential equivocation makes Obama look weak and evasive”

She wasn’t finished. “The longer Obama waits, the worse he looks. The president’s  first stall tactic, that he is ‘evolving’ on the issue, doesn’t cut it  anymore. Even Darwin would have lost patience by now. His second approach, the not-gonna-make-news-for-you-today cop-out, has also worn thin. If  you wonder whether the president actually opposes same-sex marriage,  doesn’t evolution imply change? And if you think perhaps he’s still  conflicted — well, that’s hardly an advertisement to be leader of the  free world. At this point, Obama’s reticence is looking cowardly.”

The President could probably survive that kind of criticism from conservatives, but not from liberals. Clearly, he had to clarify his position.

The President chose to make his statement in an interview with ABC. His statement was really not a serious argument for the legalization of same-sex marriage, however. He spoke of the issue as if it is a matter of personal taste.He told ABC’s Robin Roberts that “at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

He made his statement the day after voters in North Carolina voted overwhelmingly in support of defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman — the 30th state to have taken such action.

Honesty is the best policy, and the President has now made his position clear. He is again for what he was until today against, but that was only after he was for it before. The American people will have to unravel that as an issue of character. He is hardly the first politician to find himself holding to an “evolving” position on an issue of fundamental importance. Most politicians, however, do their best to avoid the kind of situation in which the President found himself on this issue.

In any event, the fact remains that the President of the United States has now put himself publicly on the line for the radical redefinition of marriage, subverting society’s most central institution.

This is a sad day for America, but the President’s statement was not a surprise. Given the political context he faced, the only question was when the President would make his public statement of endorsement for the legalization of same-sex marriage. We now know the answer to that question.

This is a sad day for marriage, but now we know the truth.

Many of the nation’s leading newspapers serve as advocacy agents for the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Leading this charge for some time, The New York Timesregularly promotes same-sex marriage in its editorials and news coverage. Even so, the paper’s latest editorial serves as a display of how the argument for homosexual marriage is often pressed with what can only be described as undisguised intellectual dishonesty.

In “Bigotry on the Ballot,” the paper editorialized against Amendment One, the effort to amend the constitution of North Carolina in order to preclude the legal recognition of same-sex marriage. That question will be put before the voters of North Carolina on May 8, and the result will be an important signal of where the nation now stands on the question. No similar effort has yet failed when put before the voters of a state, but polls indicate that the vote in North Carolina may be close.

“North Carolina already has a law barring same-sex marriage, but the  state’s Republican-controlled Legislature is not satisfied. It devised a  measure to enshrine this obvious discrimination in the State  Constitution and placed it on the ballot of the state’s May 8 primary  election — a test of tolerance versus bigotry that ought to be watched  closely nationwide.”

The paper has every right to editorialize as it chooses, and an editorial against Amendment One is no surprise to any informed reader of that paper. But look closely at the language used. The effort to limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman is described as “obvious discrimination.”

That is meant to insinuate that the effort is therefore wrong, and even immoral. But that is just not intellectually honest. Discrimination — even “obvious discrimination” — is not necessarily wrong at all. Indeed, any sane society discriminates at virtually every turn, as do individuals. The law is itself an instrument of comprehensive discrimination. We classify some crimes as misdemeanors and others as felonies. We allow some persons to teach in our schools, but not others. We recognize certain persons as citizens, but not others.

Often, we discriminate on moral terms. No sane person would ask a convicted child molester to be a baby sitter. No sane society would elect a known embezzler as state treasurer. These acts of discrimination are necessary and morally right.

The real question is whether discrimination is right or wrong, justified or without justification. Calling any law “obvious discrimination” is not yet an argument. What the editors mean, we can presume, is that the proper line of discrimination should be drawn elsewhere, but this is not what the editorial states. In order to make this argument, the editors would have to summon the courage to define how the law should properly discriminate in defining marriage. No such courage is apparent.

As a matter of fact, when the editors do acknowledge that the law must define marriage in some way, they offer an even more egregious example of intellectual dishonesty.

Consider this sentence:

“Opponents of marriage equality have never been able to show any evidence  that any harm is caused to heterosexual marriages by granting all  American adults the right to marry as they choose — because there is no  such evidence.”

The editors demand “evidence” that heterosexual marriages will be harmed by the legalization of same-sex marriage, but this is an evasion. Legalizing same-sex marriage redefines marriage as an institution, leading to a fundamental redefinition of society. Opponents of same-sex marriage believe that such a redefinition, in itself, is a harm to the entire society.

The larger problem with this sentence from the editors is the argument that the nation should grant “all American adults the right to marry as they choose.”


I do not believe for a moment that the editors of The New York Times mean what they said — at least I hope not. The editorial is aiming for a conclusive argument, but the editors have made an argument I doubt they can own or sustain.

All American adults should have the right to marry as they choose? All? This means the legalization of polygamy and incest. Proponents of same-sex marriage respond to such assertions with anger and vitriol, but they cannot deny that polygamy is a very real issue and that at least some American adults have demanded a right to marry their closest relations.

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law School, has argued that laws against polygamy are evidence of hypocrisy, and should be repealed.

Stanley Kurtz of The Weekly Standard stated the matter plainly:

“Advocacy of  legalized polygamy is growing. A network of grass-roots organizations  seeking legal recognition for group marriage already exists. The cause  of legalized group marriage is championed by a powerful faction of  family law specialists. Influential legal bodies in both the United  States and Canada have presented radical programs of marital reform.  Some of these quasi-governmental proposals go so far as to suggest the  abolition of marriage.”

We are living in an age marked by what philosopher John Haldane calls “erotic entitlements.” Those promoting these entitlements now demand marriage as the ultimate recognition and normalization of their relationships.

The New York Times has the right to press the case for same-sex marriage, but it does bear the responsibility to make its arguments with intellectual honesty. Just where would the paper draw the lines of rightful discrimination in marriage law, and for how long will it be willing to hold those lines?

The sexual revolution of the last several decades has transformed any public conversation about sex and sexuality. The revolutionaries directed their attention to the dismantling of an entire edifice of sexual morality that had been basically intact for well over 2,000 years.

At one point in the sexual revolution, efforts were made to legalize prostitution as a “victimless crime,” a term that anyone could recognize as an oxymoron. Most of these efforts went nowhere in the United States and most of Europe, though “progressive” law enforcement officials often looked the other way and did little to curb the market for illicit sex.

Then something truly interesting started to happen. Influential forces in society began to notice the scale and magnitude of the market for sex. Law enforcement officials started to acknowledge the fact that women, along with under-age girls and boys, were being “trafficked” through international networks of gangsters. By the end of the last decade, American officials were aware that sex trafficking was taking place in cities large and small. Women, along with boys and girls, were being kidnapped in far parts of the world and on the streets of American cities, to be sold into what could only be considered as sexual slavery.

Over time, the shadow of international sex trafficking became evident in criminal networks that span the globe. Women and girls answering advertisements for models, maids, and child minders found themselves sold into slavery and transported around the world.

Wealthy Americans booked vacations to destinations where their sexual appetite of choice, including children, could be easily purchased. As recently as the 2012 Super Bowl, American officials warned that several hundred under-age sex workers might be brought into the host city. These developments make the international sex trafficking networks impossible to deny.

Then came the news that at least eleven Secret Service agents had been involved in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia in advance of a visit there by President Barack Obama. It is believed that several members of the United States military were also involved. Even as that scandal began to break, the international media reported that cities like Cartagena have become magnets for the sex trade, with much of their business provided by lustful Americans.

Critics of the Secret Service suggested that a good many of its agents adopted a motto of “wheels up, rings off,” indicating plans to visit prostitutes in their destination city. They planned their involvement with prostitutes well in advance of their arrival to “advance” the President’s trip, it is alleged.

As if Americans were not sufficiently shocked, USA Today reported that the Secret Service scandal was “no aberration.” Kirsten Powers reported: “Men working abroad on behalf of our government engage in this kind of  behavior so frequently that the Pentagon was forced in 2004 to draft an anti-prostitution rule aimed at preventing the U.S. military from being complicit in fueling sex trafficking.”

It appears that the rule did not restrain those involved in the Cartagena scandal, nor many others. Powers also reported that the American government has been aware for some time that much of the energy in the international sex trafficking underworld comes from American government personnel, both in uniform and out.

Powers cited Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), who declared that “women and girls are being forced into prostitution for a clientele consisting largely of military services members, government contractors and international peacekeepers.”

One report indicates that young girls have been kidnapped in Eastern Europe “specifically to be sold to the American contractors to use for sex.” Those contractors were there under the auspices of our government to establish peace and security in the aftermath of the Bosnian crisis.

As Kirsten Powers observed, “Representatives of the U.S. government should be setting the standard  for the world, not feeding the problem of sex trafficking. The chances  that the women or girls the Secret Service agents procured for their  pleasure were there by free will is very low. Most likely, they were sex  slaves.”

Thankfully, there is much less talk these days about prostitution and sex trafficking as a “victimless crime.” Few crimes offer such a dismal view of the human moral reality. There is a ready market for every form of lust, and criminal syndicates stand ready to sell anyone and anything for a price.

Bringing the story even closer to home, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times reported the story of a sex worker in New York City. “If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal  or Thailand, then you should listen to an expert on American sex  trafficking I interviewed the other day,” he wrote. “But, first, wish her happy birthday. She turns 16 years old on Thursday.”

Kristof told of “Brianna,” who had been effectively kidnapped and sold into the sex trade after she ran away from home for only one night at age 12. He also described the prominence of major Internet sex trafficking sites, one of which “accounts for about 70 percent of America’s prostitution ads.” Brianna reported that she had been offered on such a site, estimating that half of the business into which she was sold came through the site. Chillingly, Kristof also reported that major Wall Street financial firms were profiting by the business.

Kirsten Powers got it just right when she wrote, “We have a global epidemic of sex trafficking.” I can only wonder how many Americans understand that the “we” in that statement means us — the American people. When a congressman can admit for us all that women and girls are being forced into the sex trade for a clientele “consisting largely” of American government officials and contractors along with the U.S. military, that problem becomes the responsibility of every American.

American Christians, who understand the incomprehensible scandal and moral horror of sex trafficking must recognize that this is an issue of high moral priority.

We must demand the enforcement of laws meant to protect human beings from being sold into sexual slavery and the vigorous prosecution of those who are engaged in sex trafficking. We must demand that any American involved in such activities be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that every effort be made to release women and young people from sexual slavery.

No American can rest with an easy conscience while this nation is known around the world for sending out officials, business associates, government contractors, and military personnel whose motto is “wheels up, rings off.”

This scandal has revealed that the concept of the Ugly American has taken on a humiliating new dimension.

In 1808, President Thomas Jefferson stated the matter bluntly: “I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”

Fast forward 204 years and President Barack Obama has reversed that logic, ordering religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for employees that must include contraceptives, including those that may induce an abortion.

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement January 20, stating: “Today the department is announcing that the final rule on preventive  health services will ensure that women with health insurance coverage  will have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s  recommended preventive services, including all FDA-approved forms of  contraception.”

The ruling had been much anticipated as a consequence of President Obama’s health care reform. The new law required the administration to determine what elements would be included in the mandated coverage. The administration first determined that the preventative care provision would include coverage of contraceptives. The second step was determining that this coverage would include, as Secretary Sebelius restated it, “all FDA-approved forms of contraception.” These include drugs known as Plan B, which is taken after the possibility of fertilization, thus functioning as an inducer of abortion. The plans must also provide sterilization procedures for women without deductibles or co-payments.

The final step in the process was the decision to require all employers to provide this coverage, including church-affiliated institutions and organizations. The only exemption is offered to churches and religious bodies that neither employ nor serve any significant number of people who do not share their faith. As one church leader commented, this would not allow an exemption even for the ministry of Jesus and his disciples, who ministered to those outside the faith.

Nonetheless, Secretary Sebelius had the temerity to claim, in her statement: “This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the  important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe  this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting  religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive  services. The administration remains fully committed to its partnerships  with faith-based organizations, which promote healthy communities and  serve the common good.”

In actuality, the Obama Administration trampled religious liberty under the feet of the leviathan state, forcing religious employers to do what conscience will not allow. Religious organizations such as schools, colleges, and hospitals will be required to pay for services that they believe to be immoral and disobedient to God.

In a final insult, the administration allowed that religious employers could, if qualified, have an extra year to comply with the decision. As Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah made clear, this intentionally evades the point. “The problem is not that religious institutions do not have time enough to comply,” he said, “It’s that they are forced to comply at all.”

Roman Catholic authorities were among the first to respond with outrage. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York City, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who had personally made the case to President Obama for a broader exemption, said simply: “We are unable to live with this.”

This last Sunday, Catholics around the nation heard letters from their local bishops with the same message. The Bishop of Marquette, for example, put the matter with severe simplicity: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law.”

In other words, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have signaled their clear intention to defy the law rather than to violate their conscience. Will evangelical Christians demonstrate the same courage and conviction?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches against the use of any artificial birth control and considers these to be assaults upon the dignity of all human life. In more recent years, evangelicals have had to rethink the contraception issue. At the very least, the issue of abortion has required evangelicals to realize that any form of birth control is a matter of great moral significance and thus of moral conscience.

The inclusion of Plan B and other forms of “emergency contraception” raises the stakes considerably, since the issue of abortion is now unavoidable. Will evangelical colleges and institutions now comply with a law we know to be both unjust and unconscionable?

The National Association of Evangelicals made a statement that described the situation well, but promised no particular action: “Employers with religious objections to contraception will be forced to pay for services and procedures they believe are morally wrong.”

The Obama Administration knew exactly what it was doing. It had received no shortage of advice on this question, and advocates for a broader exemption were vocal even within the Administration. Members of the President’s own party shared the disappointment in the decision. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania lamented the administration’s “bad decision.”

Others wondered aloud why President Obama had, in the words of Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, thrown those with religious objections “under the bus.” The editors of that paper made their own disappointment clear as well:

“The best approach would have been for HHS to stick to its original  conclusion that contraception coverage should generally be required but  to expand the scope of its proposed exemption for religiously affiliated  employers who claim covering contraception would violate their  religious views. The administration’s feint at a compromise —  giving  such employers another year to figure out how to comply with the  requirement —  is unproductive can-kicking that fails to address the  fundamental problem of requiring religiously affiliated entities to  spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.”

The one-year extension is indeed “unproductive can-kicking,” but the far larger issue is “the  fundamental problem of requiring religiously affiliated entities to  spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.”

Every president faces decisions that test his character and principles. President Obama has failed this test, and the results will be tragic. He has trampled religious liberty underfoot and has announced his intention to force religious institutions to violate their consciences or go out of business.

This decision will lead to nothing less than the secularization of the good work undertaken by these religious institutions. Faith-based adoption agencies, hospitals, and educational institutions are being forced to secularize or cease operations already. This decision will add tragic momentum to that process.

Religious organizations are being told to comply with the government’s order, or face the consequences. A Roman Catholic college in North Carolina has challenged the Obama Administration in court, an action now also taken by Colorado Christian University, an evangelical college. Concerted calls for a legislative rescue from Congress are being made.

And yet, the decision of the Obama Administration is clear. The edict from President Obama to religious institutions is this — violate conscience and bend the knee to the government, or face the consequences.

We will soon learn just how much faith is left in faith-based institutions.