Four Ways Christians Can Respond to Being Called "Anti-Gay" and "Judgmental"

By Jim Denison

Adults ages 18-33 fall into a category called "Millennials."  As the next generation of parents, prime ministers and presidents, they are the future of any society.  What they think says a great deal about what their culture will think.
For those of us who believe God's word on issues such as same-sex marriage, the news is not encouraging.  Nearly 7-in-10 Millennials support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.  Not surprisingly, only one-quarter believe that evangelical Christians are somewhat or very friendly toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered people.  In fact, nearly two-thirds agree that "anti-gay" describes Christianity somewhat or very well.  And more than 6-in-10 younger Millennials believe that Christians could be described as "judgmental." 
How should the church respond?  Consider four options.
One: we can fight back.  In 1991, sociologist James Davison Hunter defined our era as a "culture war" with two definable polarities on issues such as abortion, gun rights, and homosexuality.  Time magazine's new cover story is titled "Space Invaders," with the subtitle: "From Russian beetles to giant African snails, the U.S. is under assault—and it's costing us billions."  It's easy to feel the same way about moral trends in our culture, choosing to fight back in an adversarial spirit.  However, is this "speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15) "with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15)?
Two: we can retreat into familiar and safe Christian subcultures.  Rising anti-Semitism in France is pushing record numbers of French Jews to make aliyah, relocating to Israel.  American Christians can do the same thing, choosing to live and work only with fellow Christians.  However, does this approach keep our "salt" in the saltshaker, our light under a basket (Matthew 5:13-16)?
Three: we can capitulate to the culture.  Franklin Graham's recent essay on courage decries pastors who "just want to preach the Gospel and not become targets by speaking out on specific issues that Jesus Himself did not address."  We are called to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).  Will silence on significant issues be interpreted as capitulation or even endorsement?
Four: we can earn the right to speak the truth.  Jesus so confronted a Samaritan woman's sins that she later said he "told me all that I ever did" (John 4:29).  But first he shocked her with his desire to know her personally, even though "Jews have no dealings with Samaritans" (v. 9).  Rather than rejecting his honesty, she then became his ambassador to her village so that "many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony" (v. 39).
Who will believe in Jesus because of your testimony today?
Publication date: July 21, 2014

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

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The Hobby Lobby Decision: A Big Win for Religious Liberty

By Al Mohler

Yesterday’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case represents a huge win for religious liberty in America, and the 5-4 decision will now stand as a landmark case that will reshape the religious liberty debate for generations to come. At the same time, the deeply divided court also revealed in startling clarity its own internal debates over religious liberty — and that division of understanding at the nation’s highest court is very disturbing indeed.
Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito declared that the Obama Administration had profoundly failed to meet the demands of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act [RFRA] and, more importantly, the demands of the U. S. Constitution. By mandating that corporations provide all forms of contraception or birth control for all female employees at no cost, the government had burdened the consciences of the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, Mardel, and Conestoga Wood, the three corporations involved in the decision.
The Court restricted its decision to “closely held” private corporations. Hobby Lobby and Mardel are owned and operated by the family of David Green, who with his wife Barbara, began the company in their own home. Though much smaller than Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood is also a privately held corporation. The Green family is a bulwark of evangelical Christian conviction and generosity. The company pays its employees about twice the minimum wage, closes on Sundays, and references the Christian gospel in advertising. All along the way, the Green family makes clear that they are driven by Christian convictions in their corporate policies.
Similarly, Conestoga Wood Specialties operates on the same convictions. The Pennsylvania company is known for its quality wood products. It was founded by a deeply committed Mennonite couple, Norman and Elizabeth Hahn, who continue to operate the business with their three sons.
Both companies sued the Obama Administration over the contraception mandate authorized under the Affordable Care Act — a mandate that required them to provide and pay for birth control coverage that would have included four specific forms of birth control that may cause early abortions. Neither company sought a complete escape from the contraception mandate.
As the majority opinion in the case made clear today, one of the largest questions hanging over the decision is this: Why is the Obama Administration so deliberate in attempting to violate the religious convictions of Americans on the contraception and birth control issue?
Today’s decision is yet another repudiation of the heavy-handed and blatantly unconstitutional overreach of President Barack Obama and his administration. The President could have covered contraception and birth control under any number of other means which would not have specifically targeted religious liberty. Instead, the Obama Administration appeared to take the route most likely to trample upon religious liberty and offend Christian conscience. Today’s decision is another rebuke of the President and his approach, coming just days after a set of cases in which his arguments were repudiated by the same court in 9-0 decisions.
Furthermore, the President faces the looming threat of even greater rebukes to come. His administration continues to violate the convictions of Christian non-profit organizations and ministries on the same grounds. He faces lawsuits coming from a massive collection of religious non-profit ministries, ranging from evangelical colleges and universities to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic charity. Today’s decision makes the victory of those groups very likely.
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BANG! Bang!

A Father's Brave Decision

By Jim Denison

Fifteen years ago, a couple faced an unplanned pregnancy.  The parents were both 16 years old.  As the father says, "we were both terrified and we weren't capable or ready to provide this child with the stability or guidance that she deserved and needed."  So they made the life-giving decision to place their daughter in an open adoption.

According to the father, the day his daughter Belle was born "galvanized my life in a way I could never have imagined."  He has visited her every year of her life and talks with her on Christmas and birthdays.  He writes that "Belle is happy, and she is smart, and I know what music she likes and that she's good at field hockey, and I know her dog's name is Cody and that she loves elephants, and I still get to tell her she can't date anyone until she's thirty, and that's enough for me." 

BraveLove, a movement that exists to encourage adoption, tells the story of Belle and many other brave couples who chose to place their children with loving families through adoption.  One thing all such couples have in common is their sacrificial desire to do what is best for their children.  On this day after Father's Day, let's consider two ways to serve our families and others with such love and grace.