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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

What the #TakeAKnee Controversy can Teach Christians About Sharing Their Faith

It's no secret people are feeling more and more divided these days. Even the actions of professional sports stars are creating strong feelings on both sides as NFL players decided to not stand while the National Anthem was being played in fields across the country yesterday. The players stated they were protesting in response to President Trump's inflammatory tweets that declared those who didn't stand for the anthem should be fired.

I'm not a football fan, but as I sit back and watch this spectacle, it looks very familiar. As someone who has engaged in debates and discussions online, this is very much the model of Internet exchanges that continually degrade in demeanor until there's no light at all but only heat. It is also how I've seen discussions about faith pan out many times. None of this is really productive, except as a model of what not to do. Therefore, I'd like to use it as a way to possibly model a different approach for Christians who are commanded to use love instead of vitriol in sharing their faith.

Through the Eyes of the NFL Player

The idea of taking a knee during the National Anthem as a sign of protest began with Colin Kaepernick during a 2016 San Francisco 49ers preseason game. He chose not to stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and later said "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."[1] Other players, seeing Kaepernick's protest, didn't necessarily equate sitting out the Anthem or taking a knee with protesting the nation, but with trying to draw attention to the plight of inner city blacks and what they feel is the wrong perpetrated upon them.

Just last Thursday, in a recent interview with ex-NFL coach and Christian believer Tony Dungy (you may watch the piece here), Miami Dolphins' players Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas explained there were "a bunch of different instances where there were unjust murders of African-Americans, and I wanted to do something more, you know, than just talk on social media about it." They spoke with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who asked them their motivation for taking a knee, and he backed them, stating "when you hear the why and the caring that they have, and knowing that they think they could make a difference and be heard, I think, you know, how could one not really understand that and encourage it."

I don't doubt Stills and Thomas's sincerity. It was persuasive to even owner Stephen Ross. However, fans, friends, and family of the players reacted differently. They received death threats and wishes of harm. In the interview Kenny Stills said, "A lot of people just really didn't understand what we were doing or why we were doing it."

Point #1 – Miscommunication and Incoherence is More Common than You Think

This brings me to my first point in sharing your faith: people will hold passionate beliefs and they will act upon them, but don't expect those people to understand that their actions may be communicating something different from their intentions. Stills and Thomas wanted to see bloodshed end. I'm with them on that! They wanted to do something more than just talk on social media. So, they looked to the actions of their peer, Kaepernick, and mimicked it. What they didn't understand was their actions sent a message other than the one they wished to communicate.

What people see when a player sits or takes a knee during the playing of the anthem isn't a protest against police killing people, it's a rejection of the country and the values that country represents. Those values include the idea that all people are created equally. What veterans see is someone saying "I'm going to denigrate your sacrifice in risking your life for our country and our flag." The Take a Knee NFL players think they are protesting authoritarianism by not doing what they've always been told to do. But what others hear is "I'm protesting your country, one of the things that forms your identity and what you love."

Point #2 – React with Kindness to Establish Clarity

Miscommunication is always an issue when coming from different perspectives. Yet, if we respond to perceived insults with insults of our own, then no one moves forward. Even though Stills and Thomas didn't get their message clearly communicated, they did get some kind of result because some folks in the Miami area cared. They were able to have a town hall meeting with local law enforcement, community representative, high school coaches, and it fostered real dialogue and helped everyone understand each other. They participated in a ride along and had police officers interact with the community in fun ways. The black community was surprised but began to see law enforcement not as enemies but as human beings. Stills notes how a young girl, age 5 or 6, was confused as to why these two paradigms for young black people would hang out with the police since "The only time the police ever came was to arrest my dad." Stills replied "You have nothing to fear from the police officers. If you do right, they're not going to come after you." This is a huge step towards ending the us/them perception and can save lives, both blue and black.

Seeking to build bridges and communicate made a real difference; so much so that Stills and Thomas stood up and rallied the whole Dolphins team, where they would all stand at Sunday's playing of the Anthem. But what happened next blew that all to pieces.

Point #3 – Reacting with Spite May Undo Good that Has Already been Done

The players decided in 2017 they wouldn't kneel. Thomas said, "You're still giving back to the community, you're still keeping that conversation going, but without obviously protesting." They had planned on standing this week and tried to convince their teammates to do so, too. Yet, on Sunday they all knelt. Why? They were reacting to President Trump's invective on Twitter demanding NFL owners fire their players for taking a knee. Stills texted Dungy and wrote:
Deep down I did not want to allow the President to intimidate us or keep us from using our right to protest. We had a couple guys kneeling for the first time and we had our teammates all locked arms. We were still all together and that's powerful.
The insults and challenges thrown down by the President harmed the progress that was made by open communication. I get the feeling that the players still don't fully realize the difference between protesting the president's authority and protesting the country from where they have the ability to exercise that challenge to authority. I think they have every right to protest, but I think they are protesting the wrong way. Yet this is very much how interactions go when feelings rather than a desire for understanding drives the debate.

Sharing your faith is hard. People's beliefs, be they patriotism or matters of God, are deeply held and form part of our self-identities. They are at the core of who we are. Therefore, dear Christian, it is essential that you take extra care and extra time seeking to understand what the other person is feeling and what he or she is trying to say rather than what you think you hear. You can either make progress or tear down any understanding that may have already been achieved. But Jesus had it right when he said we must love one another. That is the message of reconciliation.


[1] Steve Wyche. "Colin Kaepernick Explains Why He Sat during National Anthem.", NFL Enterprises LLC., 28 Aug. 2016,

Friday, September 08, 2017

Are All These Natural Disasters Punishment from God?

The news seems to be filled the last few days with one natural disaster on top of another. Texas has already been victimized by Hurricane Harvey, with massive flooding and untold suffering. It was the largest hurricane Texas has ever recorded and may be the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history with estimates placing the damage at up to $180 billion.1 But Houston may not hold that record long as Florida sits directly in the path of Hurricane Irma, with Hurricane Jose following behind her. We then have a massive 8.1 earthquake off the coast of Mexico which may cause a tsunami. What’s going on?

Given the terrible destruction and suffering caused by Harvey and Irma, people are beginning to wonder if there isn’t some kind of divine retribution going on. Jeffery Terry tweeted "#HurricaneHarvey is Gods punishment for those who support @realDonaldTrump may God have mercy on them" and University of Tampa Professor Ken Storey tweeted "I don’t believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesn’t care about them." (Although Storey’s tweets are protected, you can view a screenshot here.)

Jennifer Lawrence didn’t blame God, but did invoke Mother Nature and insinuated that the recent destructions are somehow related to the recent election of President Trump, saying "We voted and it was really startling. You know you’re watching these hurricanes now, and it’s really hard especially while promoting this movie, not to… not to feel Mother Nature’s rage, wrath."2  Of course Christians are not immune to the temptation, either. Newsweek reports that Rick Wiles claimed "‘here’s a city that has boasted of its LGBT devotion, its affinity for the sexual perversion movement in America. They’re underwater."3

Shark Attacks and Jumping the Shark

So, with so many out of the ordinary natural disasters occurring, shouldn’t we attribute them to God’s wrath? Before we jump to that conclusion, maybe it would be wise to find out just how out of the ordinary this weather cycle is. It seems that with media channels reporting the continued destruction in our 24-hour news cycle, one could hardly be blamed for assuming 2017 was a special year for natural disasters, but that’s not necessarily the case. According to the folks over at Weather underground, 2005 was truly a record year, with 28 storms and 15 hurricanes in the North Atlantic. Of those, five were large and/or deadly enough to have their names retired (Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan, Wilma). 2017 isn’t close to that yet.

Interestingly, we’ve actually been in a downward trend of hurricanes that hit the United States. Writing for the NOAA, climate scientists Gabriel A. Vecchi and Thomas R. Knutson show how the United States has been seeing a decrease in the number of storms causing damage on land. They provide the figure below with the following caption:

Since the late-19th Century global (green) and tropical Atlantic (blue) temperatures have risen – an increase that was partly driven by increased greenhouse gases. If one does not account for possible missed storms (first red line) Atlantic tropical storms appear to have increased with temperature; however, once one accounts for possible missed storms (second and third red lines) basinwide storms have not exhibited a significant increase. When one focuses only on landfalling storms (yellow lines) the nominal trend has been for a decrease.4
So, the number of hurricanes displacing people and causing widespread damage is not increasing, even though we may think it is. A lot of it is because we forget just how bad seasons like 2005 really were and compare this year to last year or to two years ago. Some of it is the continued discussion in the media, spurring what is sometimes called "the shark attack effect" following the release of the book and movie Jaws. A quick explanation is that while shark attacks in real life are very rare (more people die from bee stings in this country each year than from shark attacks), once it captures our psyche, we are prone to look for more examples to confirm our fears. It’s kind of like how only after buying a new car you notice how many of that same model are on the road.

We live in a fallen world and natural disasters are a part of that fallenness. It is also true that God has and will use natural calamities to punish or correct nations. However, when people jump to that conclusion first, they remind me of Jesus’ disciples in John 9, who asked him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" There, Jesus gave a most prescient answer: "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." That should be the Christian response. Let us show the goodness of Christ’s love by reaching out to those afflicted by nature’s devastation and stop trying to pin the blame on some perceived sin. It will be a more effective way to share your faith with others.


1. Reuters. "Hurricane Harvey Damages Could Cost up to $180 Billion.", Fortune, 3 Sept. 2017,
2. Long, Jackie. "Jennifer Lawrence: ‘I’Ve Heard and Seen Things on TV That Devastate Me and Make Me Sick.’" Channel 4 News, Channel Four Television Corporation, 6 Sept. 2017, Beginning about 5:14.
3. Sinclair, Harriet. "Did Gay Sex Cause Hurricane Harvey or Was It Climate Change? Some on the Right Blame LGBT Americans (No Seriously)." Newsweek, Newsweek, LLC, 3 Sept. 2017,
4. Vecchi, Gabriel A., and Thomas R. Knudseon. "Historical Changes in Atlantic Hurricane and Tropical Storms." Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, GDFL/NOAA Research, 29 Aug. 2017,

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Christian Response to the Tragedy in Orlando (video)

The recent slaughter at the gay nightclub in Orlando Florida has sparked a variety of reactions. The gunman was Muslim, even claiming to act in solidarity with ISIS and the victims were gay. But, some blame the motivation for the murderous rampage on the anti-homosexual stance taken by Christians.

It is true that Christians have been at odds with those who lobby for things like same sex marriage. Activists have sued Christian bakers, florists, photographers, innkeepers, and others forcing them to lose their livelihoods. So, how should Christians respond in this instance? The answer is that Christians should love the LGBT so much they are willing to lay down their lives.

In this short video, Lenny looks to the instructions Paul lays out in Romans 12:9-21 and says Christians should show love. We should be self-sacrificial, even when those who would persecute you are being threatened. See why Christians should be willing to step in front of a bullet meant for another, no matter what their political stance is.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Censorship is Alive and Well in the Newsroom

This morning, the Los Angeles Times carried a front-page story about a controversial political battle that was fueled by an undercover video. But it wasn't the undercover video of a Planned Parenthood senior official discussing how Planned Parenthood is involved in harvesting and selling baby organs. Instead, the editors at the Times gave 1,028 words and premium front page status to the coverage of some middle-aged men chasing other away from their favorite surfing spot.1 Even after two full days of triggering an avalanche social media outrage which prompted both federal and state officials to begin investigating the abortion organization, coverage of Planned Parenthood's hideous practices is nowhere to be found in the Times.

Of course the LAT is not the only media outlet that purports itself to be a news organization but is censoring this story. Mollie Hemingway over at the Federalist has been monitoring media outlets for years on their selective bias against stories that bring the horror of abortion to light. Today, she wrote about the paltry media coverage of the Planned Parenthood scandal from most of the major media organizations. In her article, she shows just how slow these outlets were to cover the story, how few of them gave any mention to it at all, and how most who did, did so in order to help the PR push of Planned Parenthood, even to the point of copying their talking points verbatim!2

Watchdog of Justice, Who Keeps Their Eye on You?

None of this was unexpected. Two years ago, the Kermit Gosnell case checked off absolutely every requirement a news outlet would look for to warrant full coverage and smashing ratings, yet is was conspicuously absent from nearly all of them. Now, the harvesting of baby organs story is again being censored. Why? Because the idea of dispassionately reporting the news isn't the overriding value for those who claim to run news organizations anymore. It isn't even ratings, although ratings matter. It's simply ideology. Ideology is king and one cannot put forth a story that may break a scandal against something like abortion.

To underscore the pint, just as the fetal organ story was breaking, my friend Sean McDowell released a short YouTube clip where he tells of his almost interview on CNN. The organization called Sean because they were looking for an opposing voice on the topic of transgenderism. He recounts the producer asking him for his specific position on transgenderism.3 Sean replied, "My position is this is a complicated issue. We need to have compassion, we need to follow the science, and we need to settle this issue carefully." The producer them paused a moment, looked a Sean and said "You know, you're much too compassionate. My director will get upset if I have you call into this show!" upon finding out that CNN contacted the Southern Baptists to try and find a person who would state on-air that transgenderism "is wrong, sinful, and you're going to Hell!" McDowell refused to do so and so CNN turned to someone from to be the radical voice the so-called objective news show could carve apart like a sacrificial cow to make themselves look balanced an sane. No one can call this objective reporting and still be considered sane.

It's been obvious for years that "reality" television is nothing of the kind. They are formulated, staged, scripted, and edited to get the biggest reaction out of the audience possible. The newsroom is the next reality television. They are simply no longer trustworthy. It's no surprise that Pew Research just reported more people are getting their news from Facebook and Twitter than watching it on television or reading a newspaper or magazine. 4

Mainstream television and print journalism has died. Edmund Burke's Fourth Estate no longer exists; we only see the estate sale with ideologues pawing through its previously grand hallways and closets, selling both its duty and its good name for ten cents on the dollar.


1. Therolf, Garrett. "'Gang Mentality' of Middle-age Surfers Keeps Outsiders off Palos Verdes Estates Waves." The Los Angeles Times. 16 July 2015, morning ed., A1. Print.
2. Hemingway, Mollie Zeiger. "The Bad, Worse, & Ugly: Media Coverage of Planned Parenthood's Organ Harvesting Scandal." The Federalist. The Federalist, 16 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
3. McDowell, Sean. "Lessons from a CNN Interview." YouTube. YouTube, 14 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
4. Barthel, Michael, Elisa Shearer, Jeffrey Gottfried, and Amy Mitchell. "The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook." Pew Research Centers Journalism Project. Pew Research Centers, 14 July 2015. Web. 16 July 2015.
Image courtesy Publik15 and licensed via the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Abortion, Science, and Junk Media

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times carried a front page article decrying the "junk science" that it claims is being used to limit abortion across several states. With the embarrassingly biased headline, "Abortion restrictions relying on 'junk science,' rights advocates say" reporter Maria L. La Ganga writes about how the Montana legislature recently passed a law requiring anesthesia for the fetus undergoing the trauma of being ripped apart by late-term abortion. She also points to Arizona and Arkansas, both of which require abortionists to tell women requesting drug-induced abortions that they may have options if they change their mind early enough.

She then opines:
The 2015 legislative session is shaping up to be a primer in what abortion rights advocates call "junk science," with elected officials across the country passing new laws based on theories that have been called into question or debunked by the wider medical community.

Pointing to bills recently passed in the states mentioned, as well as in Oklahoma and Kansas, Guttmacher Institute policy analyst Elizabeth Nash said: "We're seeing more unsubstantiated science. The problem is that legislators are buying into it and using it.".1
I wonder why such measures provoke so much concern in La Ganga? She goes on to quote from a 2005 article on the Journal of the American Medical Association, but doesn't bother to interview any doctors who are carrying out current research, unlike a similar New York Times article that at least interviewed Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, who is working specifically on this question.2 She simply notes that no further studies have been published.

What Counts as Definitive?

However, the JAMA study she references isn't quite as definitive as the Times article suggests. It is based on the assumption that the experience of pain requires certain brain connections, called thalamocortical pathways be working, which according to the article:
...may occur in the third trimester around 29 to 30 weeks' gestational age, based on the limited data available. Small-scale histological studies of human fetuses have found that thalamocortical fibers begin to form between 23 and 30 weeks' gestational age, but these studies did not specifically examine thalamocortical pathways active in pain perception.3
Notice that the authors try to be clear that we don't have a definitive picture as we only are looking at "limited data" and "small-scale studies of human fetuses." I actually have no reason to doubt that these brain pathways do develop at the time the study suggests. The problem becomes the assumption that those developments are required to feel pain, which is what Dr. Anand has published. 4

Ignoring Established Science

While the pain issue is interesting and it may or may not be true, here's my primary gripe with LaGanga's article: in supposedly trying to promote providing women with strong science to make their reproductive choices, the pro-abortion industry has consistently lied about one of the most well-established scientific facts we know, that the fetus is a human being. When we speak of the unborn, we must classify them as humans. There is no property that a human being has that a fetus does not. No one in the medical establishment can deny that every single human being was a fetus at the beginning of his or her development. Humans are not metamorphic animals, like caterpillars or tadpoles.5

Even though the science is clear that a fetus is an unborn human being, that established science doesn't sit well with the abortion groups who wish to destroy them for any reason they choose. When the issue is looked at in this manner, the laws opting for caution don't seem to be too far-fetched at all.

At the end of the article, LaGanga asks Planned Parenthood representative Rachel Sussman of her opinion. She said, "You cannot exist in a world where you care about women's health and safety and require doctors to tell women things that are medically untrue." Right. So why does Planned Parenthood persist in lying about the humanity of the baby? Perhaps it is because they care more about their profits and their political power than anything an ultrasound can show.


1. LaGanga, Maria L. "Abortion Restrictions Relying on 'junk Science,' Rights Advocates Say." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
2. Belluck, Pam. "Complex Science at Issue in Politics of Fetal Pain." The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
3. Lee, S. J. "Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence." JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 294.8 (2005): 947-54. Web.
4. Anand, K. J. S. "Consciousness, Cortical Function, and Pain Perception in Nonverbal Humans." Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30.01 (2007): 82. Web
5. Bishop, Cory. "What Is Metamorphosis?" Integrative and Comparative Biology. Oxford University Press, 6 June 2006. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
Image courtesy ceejayoz - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Values so Shockingly Consistent They Make the News

In the ever-growing competition for our attention, news media outlets have sought to find stories that sit ever stranger to our sensibilities. The unusual is prized as the type of a story journalists seek to capture eyeballs and get people talking. It's just like that old saying that what's expected is not really news, like a dog biting a man. But if a man bites a dog, then that's news!

That's why I was very intrigued with the Associated Press story that ran just today about a homosexual couple who were denied Communion from the Roman Catholic in central Montana. The AP article reports:
A gay couple has been told they can no longer receive Communion or participate in church ministry after the new priest at a Roman Catholic church in central Montana learned they had been married in a civil ceremony more than a year ago.

The decision set off a split that has cut attendance at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, population 5,900. It has prompted an upcoming visit from the bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.1
The article goes on to report that the men were involved in a relationship for some 30 years, but decided to get married "so they can make medical and financial decisions for each other."2

Most conservative Christians of any stripe would read the above and probably react with a collective "Yeah, so?" The Roman Catholic Church has been very clear in its condemnation of homosexual unions. The biblical teaching on homosexuality is very clear on recognizing practicing homosexual s as those who are not considered part of the faith. Paul explicitly states in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality… will inherit the kingdom of God."

The Shock Value of Consistent Values

So why is this so newsworthy? Why would the AP run a "dog bites man" story like this? There are only two reasons I can think of and probably both are true to some extent. The first would be that the AP assumes most people would feel that the men were somehow being discriminated against. It's a "how can the church discriminate against these two poor men who only want to look after one another financially and medically" kind of angle.  Of course, anyone with an inkling of understanding would know better than to buy that. For example, the men were joined in a civil union, not in the church. Why do you think this was? Because they knew the church would never allow it! So, how could they be "stunned by the priest's decision" to not allow them to partake in the church's other sacraments? The answer: they weren't. They just don't want to play by the rules.

Secondly, it is entirely possible that the secular AP and its readers cannot fathom an organization having a moral code that calls for certain people to be excluded by virtue of their actions, no matter how sincere, heartfelt, or popular in public opinion they are. This is another example of the faux-virtues I talked about a couple of days ago. It's believed that all decisions are OK, just as long as one doesn't hurt anyone else's feelings. Well, that simply isn't true. These men may sincerely love each other, but they are not taking the teachings of their church honestly. They seem to see the church teachings as something to be gamed. Communion is at it root an act of identifying with Christ and His actions on the cross. It entails a foregoing of self and a devotion to following Jesus as your Lord. That means following the rules He set down for His church. Jesus taught explicitly, "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). He didn't teach that Christians can pick and choose which they would like to keep and which they can ignore.

No matter what the actual motivation was for the AP to run this story, I see it as another clear sign of the shift that has occurred in culture over the last decade. When Christians display Christian values consistently, our society no longer looks upon such actions as normal or unordinary. While the plane that doesn't crash isn't news, now consistently living out one's Christian values is.

In some ways, I think this is as much of an indictment of the Christian church as it is the culture. The broader culture should have been able to recognize Christians by their moral character much more clearly before today. But we have now reached the point where the separation is strange enough it's considered newsworthy, so expect to see more stories on it. They'll be considered as foreign as the story of a man biting a dog, and naked when doing so.


1. Associated Press. "Montana Gay Couple Denied Communion After Marriage." ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014.
2. Ibid.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Breaking News May Break Your Heart: Tales from the Front Lines in the Culture Wars

This week has been an explosion in news items for those who care about the Christian faith and the culture. The most important religious freedom case in at least a generation (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) was argued before the Supreme Court early in the week. Then the evangelical relief organization World Vision announced that they would be revising their employee policy to allow hiring of same sex couples who had a Christian cleric officiate a wedding ceremony. (Yesterday, World Vision reversed that decision.) Finally, a story broke in the UK about how British hospitals were using the remains of aborted and miscarried babies to generate heat for those same hospitals. And that was just through Wednesday.

As someone engaged in apologetics ministry, the clash between worldviews is part of my calling. I hope to communicate a reasoned Christian viewpoint on ethical and cultural issues that have theological implications to an unbelieving world. Most people today assume morality is a relative concept and religion is simply a private belief that shouldn't affect one's public interests.

As you may expect, the news has given me a busy week. But it gave me something else, too. It gave me a very heavy heart, which was a bit unexpected. I feel weary, weary not only in the added engagements but also weary that a moral framework that would have been so clearly understood just a few decades ago are now lost in the fog of this modern age. It scares me that people cannot connect the revulsion they experience when reading about using fetuses as fuel to the marginalization of an unborn child in the rhetoric of pro-abortionists. It scares me because I know that the marginalization of natural marriage will lead to further dangers down the road. Frankly, our slide towards Gomorrah is simply breaking my heart.

But maybe that's the thing. In my morning devotions, I always pray that God would change my heart to be more like the heart of Jesus. I think this is a fairly common prayer among Christians. What I didn't expect is such a change would cause pain. When looking over Jerusalem before His triumphal entry, Jesus wept over the city that would soon turn against Him. He didn't cry for His suffering and He didn't rejoice in the judgment that it would face in the coming years. It didn't cause Him to be angry; it caused Him to grieve. An unexpected consequence of having one's heart be conformed to Christ is to not only feel more love, but to feel more pain. When sin grieves us, we have a more proper understanding of what sin truly is.

I had a prominent apologist friend who was once being slammed by various critics for what he had written. I have been in that position, too. Especially online, there are critics who can get nasty and personal. They may even verbally attack your family, which happened to me in one instance. My friend, clearly anguished, asked "Why can't God give me a thicker skin to do work like this?" But I don't think God wants to do that. A thick-skinned apologist would be a dangerous thing, using arguments as clubs. I think God wants us to be tender-hearted to both the travesty of an evaporating moral standard and to those who would criticize us for taking a moral stand.  Like Jeremiah, we should warn with fervency, but all the while with tears in our eyes. Only then can the Gospel be shown to be what it truly is: the power of Christ to accomplish salvation in the hardened hearts of the unsaved. Jesus wept, then moved forward. Let us do so, too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is the Media Biased on Same-Sex Marriage

This weekend, Patrick Peyton, Ombudsman with the Washington Post published a piece on how he and a reporter from the Post exchanged an animated dialog with a reader over the paper's coverage of the same-sex marriage issue. As Mollie Hemingway pointed out in her column over at Get Religion "the reporter reveals some breathtaking bigotry about the people he or she is supposed to be covering." But Paxton, whose job as Ombudsman is supposed to be the people's advocate and voice to the paper, is just as complicit in his complete ignorance of the reasoning that social conservatives use when discussing the issue.

By Pablo Perez

The primary problem is identified by Rod Dreher. He states:
"Most reporters and editors, in my 20 years of experience, do not set out to slant stories, and in fact try to be fair. The bias that creeps into their coverage is typically the result of a newsroom monoculture, in which they don't see the bias because everybody, or nearly everybody, within that culture agrees on so much. In the case of gay rights and the marriage debate, though, they don't even make an effort to be fair."
Dreher says that the reporters, editors, and others in most mainstream journalism outlets fall back on the concept that "error has no rights." In other words, we reporters know that you traditional values folks (or worse "religionists" as Peyton called us) are really backwards buffoons, and therefore your opinion isn't even worth understanding. This belief is assumed to be true, even as it vilifies a significant portion of the population. So, there is no vast left-wing conspiracy, but a general unrecognized level of groupthink by the media.

Of course throughout the original post, Peyton continually misunderstands both the concern of the reader and the argument we have against same-sex marriage.  He falls back yet again to the old trope that its basis is the same as bigotry against mixed race marriages. But such a comparison is as insulting as it is pig-headed. As I've noted in a recent podcast, marriage is the only institution that allows our society to continue through the act of procreation and the rearing of children. There is no other institution that will bring us the next generation. No other. Not one.  Homosexual unions by their very definition cannot do this. Sure they can adopt children, or maybe "borrow" a gamete from the opposite sex to birth children. But such measures will never produce an entire generation of citizens. In fact, books like Huxley's Brave New World cry out against the divorce of human procreation from its natural biological origins.

Hemingway I think hits the nail on the head when she writes:
Here's what needs to happen. Right now. Every reporter — no matter the beat, no matter how much in the tank for redefining marriage, no matter how close-minded they've been to this point — every reporter needs to stop what they're doing and read "What is Marriage."

It's a very easy-to-read book that succinctly explains the traditionalist arguments surrounding marriage. Refusing to learn the arguments of those who oppose changing the law must end. It simply must end. The ignorance and bigotry with which reporters have covered this topic is a scandal. It's destroying civil political discourse, it's embarrassing and can't continue.

Reporters don't need to change their deeply-held biases in favor of changing marriage law. But they do need to learn even a little bit about the arguments of those who oppose such a change.

No reporter working today should ever make the error of comparing arguments against marriage redefinition with anti-miscegenation laws. It's clownish and easily disputed.
Such a step is one of the bare minimum requirements for the job of journalism. Get the facts straight first, and then you can report the news accurately.
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An invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics

Mary Jo Sharp:

"Lenny Esposito's work at Come Reason Ministries is an invaluable addition to the realm of Christian apologetics. He is as knowledgeable as he is gracious. I highly recommend booking Lenny as a speaker for your next conference or workshop!"
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