published with permission from Dr. Albert Mohler
The doctor is a murderer. The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell ended yesterday, with the infamous abortion doctor convicted of three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter. The doctor’s abortion clinic, described by a Philadelphia prosecutor as a “house of horrors,” is no more, but the truth revealed in his trial remains. He is not the only one with blood on his hands.
The prosecution of Kermit Gosnell put the entire nation on trial. The doctor was indicted on hundreds of criminal counts, and in addition to the murder and manslaughter convictions he received yesterday, he was also convicted on more than two hundred counts including racketeering, infanticide, and performing abortions that violated Pennsylvania law. Most of those were illegal late-term abortions.
The evidence presented in the trial was gruesome. Investigators told of finding jars filled with parts of dismembered babies. Some of Dr. Gosnell’s co-workers told of seeing the doctor deliver babies alive, then murdering them by snipping their spinal cords with scissors. They told of babies moving their arms and legs and gasping for breath, even making noises as Dr. Gosnell murdered them.
The arrest of Dr. Gosnell in 2011 brought a wave of news coverage. That was not the case with his trial — at least not until public outrage demanded that the press pay more attention. The mainstream media largely ignored the trial, and national attention came only after a concerted effort in social media and on the Internet made inattention to the story nearly impossible.
As Kirsten Powers, writing in USA Today, wrote: “Since the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell began on March 18, there has been precious little coverage of the case that should be on every news show and front page. The revolting revelations of Gosnell’s former staff, who have been testifying to what they witnessed and did during late-term abortions, should shock anyone with a heart.” She concluded, “The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.”
Reluctantly, many major media outlets did start to give the trial attention, but their coverage was often more about the controversy over the coverage of the trial than about the trial itself. A report that appeared in TIME magazine just after Gosnell’s conviction, Kate Pickert and Adam Sorensen argued that “while it wasn’t completely ignored, the Gosnell trial revealed the mainstream media’s hesitancy to swarm a story about a horrifying abortion-related crime.” Later, while arguing that one reason for minimal news coverage of the trial was “the extremely disturbing nature of the crime,” they also acknowledged that “it’s no secret that most journalists are socially liberal.”
This morning, Dr. Gosnell’s murder convictions made the front pages of USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. The story appeared on page A-12 of The New York Times.
Both sides in the nation’s abortion debate agreed that Dr. Gosnell should be convicted and vilified. But pro-abortion forces found themselves continually forced to argue that Dr. Gosnell’s house of horrors was an exception and that abortion is not really at issue in the entire Gosnell trial. They did their best to make that point, but it is an impossible point to make. The babies murdered in Dr. Gosnell’s “clinic” were not visiting a pediatrician. They were born only after so-called “botched abortions.” The entire context was about abortion.
In TIME, Pickert and Sorensen argued that “this was not a case about the morality of legal, late-term abortion.” While the trial was not an open debate about the morality of abortion, that issue is what every thoughtful person recognizes is at stake — which is precisely why the pro-abortion movement had to insist, over and over again, that the morality of abortion is not the issue.
Here is a clue: When you have to argue at every turn that the issue is not abortion, the issue is abortion.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania announced that they will seek the death penalty for Dr. Gosnell. He now stands convicted of the premeditated and calculated murder of three infants, along with over 200 additional crimes. In his closing argument to the jury, prosecutor Ed Cameron turned to Dr. Gosnell and asked, “Are you human? To med these women up and stick knives in the backs of babies?”
But we must not miss the true meaning of the Gosnell trial. It is true that Dr. Gosnell was found guilty of his crimes — at least the crimes successfully prosecuted in Pennsylvania. But, in reality the whole nation was on trial, and we are all guilty.
What the pro-abortion movement fears most is that Americans will pause to consider what this trial really means. It means that Dr. Gosnell would not be on trial for murder if he had killed those three babies while inside their mother’s body. His murder convictions have everything to do with the fact that the abortions were “botched” and the babies were accidentally born alive. Had the abortions been “successful” — even up to the last hours of pregnancy — Dr. Gosnell might have been charged with performing a late-term abortion, but not of murder.
And, speaking of late-term abortions, the abortion rights movement is against all legal restrictions on those as well. They insist on a woman’s unfettered right to an abortion up to the moment of birth.
Even more chillingly, a Planned Parenthood representative recently told a committee of the Florida legislature that even a baby born alive after a failed abortion should have its life or death decided only by its mother and her doctor.
This is America. A nation that has legalized murder in the womb and that now finds itself staring at what abortion really represents. Human dignity cannot survive in a society that insists that a baby inside the womb has no right to live while that same baby, just seconds later, is a murder victim. Respect for human life cannot endure when a baby inside the womb is just a fetus, but when moved only a few centimeters is a full citizen.
The body parts of babies presented as evidence in the Gosnell trial are routinely discarded as “medical waste” outside your local abortion clinic.
What the Gosnell trial revealed is not the exceptional gruesomeness of a single clinic in Philadelphia. It reveals the truth that all Americans are, by our laws, complicit in Dr. Gosnell’s evil. The real scandal is not just the babies murdered outside the womb, but the millions aborted legally — torn apart by blades, suctioned out as waste, poisoned unto death by drugs.
The trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell revealed the truth about this homicidal doctor and his house of horrors, but it also revealed the moral house of mirrors behind which America hides. Dr. Gosnell is not alone in having the blood of babies on his hands.
I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler
Kate Pickert and Adam Sorensen, “Three Takeaways from the Kermit Gosnell Trial,” TIME, Monday, May 13, 2013. http://nation.time.com/2013/05/13/three-takeaways-from-the-kermit-gosnell-trial/
Kirsten Powers, “Philadelphia Abortion Clinic Horror,” USA Today, Thursday, April 11, 2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/04/10/philadelphia-abortion-clinic-horror-column/2072577/
Image: “The Murder of the Innocents,” from a medieval stained glass window.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Fox News icon Bill O’Reilly said recently on his top-rated television program that those advocating for homosexual “marriage” have more effective arguments than those who just “thump the Bible” in defense of traditional marriage.
In other words, the Bible (and its moral pronouncements) should be left on the sidelines when it comes to debating a public policy issue like homosexual “marriage”; rather, academic studies, scientific research, and human reason should be used instead.
But is that true? Should Christians and biblical churches forgo using “the Bible says” as the mainstay of our stand against homosexuality because, as some say, “the other side doesn’t believe in Scripture”? Are there other more effective non-biblical arguments that we should be using instead?
Join us this weekend on The Christian Worldview as we discuss whether “Bible thumping” is a losing — or winning — game plan in our society today.
Bracketing Morality — The Marginalization of Moral Argument in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate by Dr. Albert Mohler
Convictional Leadership Built on “the Most Important Foundations of the Christian Worldview” (Part 2 of 2)
“Then Paul answered, ‘What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.’” (Acts 21:13)
“Christian leadership cannot be separated from passionately held beliefs.” That is a quote from Dr. Albert Mohler’s new book, The Conviction to Lead.
Last week on the program, we heard from Dr. Mohler as he exhorted Christians to develop — and be willing to die for — deeply held convictions based on God’s Word. He called it “convictional leadership”.
In part 2 this week, we will hear the rest of the interview with Dr. Mohler and then discuss how we can have to-die-for convictions. We will also answer The Master’s College Essay Contest question — “What are the most important foundations of the Christian worldview and why?” — and see how that directly applies to being a convictional leader.
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12).
We often think of “leaders” as the President, a CEO, a military general, or the coach of the team. But the reality is, everyone is called to lead in some capacity. Pastors are to lead their congregations; parents are to lead their children; Christians are to lead in word and deed.
So how do we become better leaders of the few or many we lead? What qualities are most important for leaders to develop and who in Scripture displayed exemplary leadership? And what should leaders do when they face opposition or pressure to compromise their convictions?
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, joins us this Saturday on The Christian Worldview to talk about leadership in light of his new book, The Conviction to Lead.
More than 30 seniors from Nebraska Christian Schools will be live in studio taking part in the discussion as well. One example of “convictional leadership” we’ll discuss is Tim Tebow’s recent withdrawal from speaking at First Baptist Church in Dallas after heavy media scrutiny over his scheduled appearance.
After addressing a large secular assembly on issues of moral controversy, I turned and faced a woman who urgently wanted to ask me a question: “Why won’t the abortion issue just go away?”
I knew exactly what she was asking. I often meet abortion rights advocates who honestly thought that the national controversy over abortion would simply melt away within a few years of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
That was clearly the hope of the Supreme Court majority that signed onto the opinion written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun. In a note he wrote to himself as he drafted the final opinion and looked to its aftermath, Blackmun revealed a rather optimistic assumption: “It will be an unsettled period for a while.”
Surely, he didn’t mean for that “while” to extend four decades.
Next Tuesday will mark the 40th anniversary of the decision, and the abortion question is anything but settled. Just look at the crowds gathering in Washington next week for the annual March for Life.
In fact, America has been unsettled ever since Roe. Abortion has become a central issue of political conflict, debate and division. If the court had hoped to calm the waters, it failed spectacularly.
As Guido Calabresi, then dean of the Yale Law School, observed, the aftermath of Roe v. Wade produced a “sense of desperate embattlement.” As Calabresi noted, the court’s decision failed to produce a national consensus. Rather, Roe “made it impossible for the opposing views to live with each other.”
Those who thought that the decision of the Supreme Court would settle the issue had reason for that hope. On other controversial questions, the court’s rulings had produced initial furor and outrage, but the nation rather quickly accommodated itself to those decisions. Take integration in public schools.
Not so with abortion.
Why? Professor Lawrence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School, an ardent defender of abortion rights, at least recognized that the abortion question presents nothing less than a “clash of absolutes.”
Tribe attempted to propose a means of avoiding “pitting these absolutes against one another.” All such efforts have failed, precisely because the competing claims are indeed absolutes.
When abortion-rights advocates and their allies ask why the abortion issue will not just go away, they really mean to ask why, given the stark reality of Roe, the pro-life movement has not dissipated and retreated into the history books.
Here are five reasons why:
First, the radical character of Roe – overthrowing abortion laws in 49 states – galvanized pro-life forces. The judicial imposition of abortion on demand, virtually without restriction until the third trimester, produced both shock and outrage among those who believe that the unborn child has an inalienable right to life.
Within months of Roe, an organized pro-life movement came into shape, looking for any means of limiting and eventually ending the termination of unborn life.
Second, Roe also had the effect, surely unforeseen by the Supreme Court, of bringing millions of evangelical Christians into the fight on behalf of unborn life. Prior to Roe, even many evangelicals believed that abortion was a Roman Catholic issue.
Roe was a legal earthquake that awakened a massive number of evangelicals to the deadly reality of abortion. With remarkable speed, evangelicals soon educated themselves on the issue and then mobilized themselves both politically and culturally.
Third, the death spiral of abortion simply defies adequate calculation. Over a million abortions are performed in America each year. Reports last year indicated that over 40% of all pregnancies in New York end in abortion, a rate that increases to almost 60% of pregnancies among African-American women.
The sheer scale of the death toll sears the pro-life conscience. Young people can now see that millions are missing from their own generation.
Fourth, abortion has proved to be exactly what pro-life activists warned it would be: a deadly threat to human dignity that would target specific populations. Prenatal testing has produced a deadly reality for unborn babies considered less than acceptable by their parents.
The vast majority (90%) of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome are now aborted. Sex-selection abortions are legal in the wide-open “right” to abortion declared by the court. Prenatal testing of other characteristics means that parents can now abort a baby that does not meet their specifications and try again.
Fifth, powerful imaging technologies now allow a look inside the womb, a privilege unknown to previous generations. That window has transformed the equation, as millions of parents have seen their unborn children and witnessed the miracle of life.
They have seen the little human form and the actions of the unborn child, sucking its thumb as it nestles within its mother. Millions of siblings have seen the images of their unborn brothers and sisters taped to the refrigerator door.
Those of us who believe that every single unborn child has a right to be born cannot resign from the effort to protect those lives.
The greatest advances made by the pro-life movement have been made among the young, the generation that has known the death toll from Roe v. Wade all their lives. More evidence that the abortion issue will not simply go away.
Nevertheless, Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land and abortion on demand remains a constant. Since Roe more than 55 million unborn Americans have been aborted, and the nation is more concerned about economics than the sanctity of human life. We have must ground to recover, but the only foundation for a recovery of human dignity is an affirmation of the fact that every single human being is made in God’s image and is of sacred worth from the moment of fertilization until natural death.
Until that truth is affirmed, we will see abortion remain the law of the land and human dignity will hang in the balance.
Published with permission from Dr. Albert Mohler
Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” [Jeremiah 31:15]
It has happened again. This time tragedy came to Connecticut, where a lone gunman entered two classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and opened fire, killing at least twenty children and six adults, before turning his weapons of death upon himself. The young victims, still to be officially identified, ranged in age from five to ten years. The murderer was himself young, reported to be twenty years old. According to press reports, he murdered his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook, in her home before the rampage at the school.
Apparently, matricide preceded mass murder. Some of the children were in kindergarten, not even able to tie their own shoes. The word kindergarten comes from the German, meaning a garden for children. Sandy Hook Elementary School was no garden today. It was a place of murder, mayhem, and undisguised evil.
The calculated and premeditated nature of this crime, combined with the horror of at least twenty murdered children, makes the news almost unspeakable and unbearable. The grief of parents and loved ones in Newtown is beyond words. Yet, even in the face of such a tragedy, Christians must speak. We will have to speak in public about this evil, and we will have to speak in private about this horrible crime. How should Christians think and pray in the aftermath of such a colossal crime?
We Affirm the Sinfulness of Sin, and the Full Reality of Human Evil
First, we must recognize that this tragedy is just as evil, horrible, and ugly as it appears. Christianity does not deny the reality and power of evil, but instead calls evil by its necessary names — murder, massacre, killing, homicide, slaughter. The closer we look at this tragedy, the more it will appear unfathomable and more grotesque than the human imagination can take in.
What else can we say about the murder of children and their teachers? How can we understand the evil of killing little children one by one, forcing them to watch their little friends die and realizing that they were to be next? How can we bear this?
Resisting our instinct toward a coping mechanism, we cannot accept the inevitable claims that this young murderer is to be understood as merely sick. His heinous acts will be dismissed and minimized by some as the result of psychiatric or psychological causation, or mitigated by cultural, economic, political, or emotional factors. His crimes were sick beyond words, and he was undoubtedly unbalanced, but he pulled off a cold, calculated, and premeditated crime, monstrous in its design and accomplishment.
Christians know that this is the result of sin and the horrifying effects of The Fall. Every answer for this evil must affirm the reality and power of sin. The sinfulness of sin is never more clearly revealed than when we look into the heart of a crime like this and see the hatred toward God that precedes the murderous hatred he poured out on his little victims.
The twentieth century forced us to see the ovens of the Nazi death camps, the killing fields of Cambodia, the inhumanity of the Soviet gulags, and the failure of the world to stop such atrocities before they happened. We cannot talk of our times without reference to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, Pol Pot and Charles Manson, Idi Amin and Ted Bundy. More recently, we see evil in the impassive faces of Osama bin Laden and Anders Behring Brevik. We will now add yet another name to the roll call of mass murderers. His will not be the last.
The prophet Jeremiah knew the wickedness and deceit of the sinful human heart and asked the right question — who can understand it?
Beyond this, the Christian must affirm the grace of moral restraint, knowing that the real question is not why some isolated persons commit such crimes, but why such massacres are not more common. We must be thankful for the restraint of the law, operating on the human conscience. Such a crime serves to warn us that putting a curve in the law will inevitably produce a curve in the conscience. We must be thankful for the restraining grace of God that limits human evil and, rightly understood, keeps us all from killing each other.
Christians call evil what it is, never deny its horror and power, and remain ever thankful that evil will not have its full sway, or the last word.
We Affirm the Cross of Christ as the Only Adequate Remedy for Evil
There is one and only one reason that evil does not have the last word, and that is the fact that evil, sin, death, and the devil were defeated at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. There they were defeated conclusively, comprehensively, and publicly.
On the cross, Christ bore our sins, dying in our place, offering himself freely as the perfect sacrifice for sin. The devil delighted in Christ’s agony and death on the cross, realizing too late that Christ’s substitutionary atonement spelled the devil’s own defeat and utter destruction.
Christ’s victory over sin, evil, and death was declared by the Father in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the ground of our hope and the assurance of the final and total victory of Christ over all powers, principalities, and perpetrators.
A tragedy like this cannot be answered with superficial and sentimental Christian emotivism, nor with glib dismissals of the enormity and transience of this crime. Such a tragedy calls for the most Gospel-centered Christian thinking, for the substance of biblical theology, and the solace that only the full wealth of Christian conviction can provide.
In the face of such horror, we are driven again and again to the cross and resurrection of Christ, knowing that the reconciling power of God in Christ is the only adequate answer to such a depraved and diabolical power.
We Acknowledge the Necessity of Justice, Knowing that Perfect Justice Awaits the Day of the Lord
Charles Manson sits in a California prison, even now — decades after his murderous crimes were committed. Ted Bundy was executed by the State of Florida for multiple murders, but escaped both conviction and punishment for others he is suspected of having committed. Anders Behring Brevik shot and killed scores of young people in Norway, but he was sentenced to less than thirty years in prison. Adolf Hitler took his own life, robbing human courts of their justice, and Vladimir Lenin died of natural causes.
The young murderer in Connecticut took his own life after murdering almost thirty people, most of them children. He will never face a human court, never have to face a human accuser, never stand convicted of his crimes, and never know the justice of a human sentence.
But, even as human society was robbed of the satisfaction of that justice, it would never be enough. Even if executed for his crimes, he could die only once. Even if sentenced to scores of life sentences to prison, he could forfeit only one human lifespan.
Human justice is necessary, but it is woefully incomplete. No human court can hand down an adequate sentence for such a crime, and no human judge can restore life to those who were murdered.
Crimes such as these remind us that we just yearn for the total satisfaction that will come only on the Day of the Lord, when all flesh will be judged by the only Judge who will rule with perfect righteousness and justice. On that day, the only escape will be refuge in Christ, for those who knew and confessed him as Savior and Lord. On that day, those who are in Christ will know the promise that full justice and restoration will mean that every eye is dry and tears are nevermore.
We Grieve with Those Who Grieve
For now, even as we yearn for the Day of the Lord, we grieve with those who grieve. We sit with them and pray for them and acknowledge that their loss is truly unspeakable and that their tears are unspeakably true. We pray and look for openings for grace and the hope of the gospel. We do our best to speak words of truth, love, grace, and comfort.
What of the eternal destiny of these sweet children? There is no specific text of Scripture that gives us a clear and direct answer. We must affirm with the Bible that we are conceived in sin and, as sons and daughters of Adam, will face eternal damnation unless we are found in Christ. So many of these little victims died before reaching any real knowledge of their own sinfulness and need for Christ. They, like those who die in infancy and those who suffer severe mental incapacitation, never really have the opportunity to know their need as sinners and the provision of Christ as Savior.
They are in a categorically different position than that of the person of adult consciousness who never responds in faith to the message of the Gospel. In the book of Deuteronomy, God tells the adults among the Children of Israel that, due to their sin and rebellion, they would not enter the land of promise. But the Lord then said this: “And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.” [Deuteronomy 1:39]
Many, if not all, of the little children who died in Newtown were so young that they certainly would be included among those who, like the little Israelites, “have no knowledge of good or evil.” God is sovereign, and he was not surprised that these little ones died so soon. There is biblical precedent for believing that the Lord made provision for them in the atonement accomplished by Christ, and that they are safe with Jesus.
Rachel Weeping for Her Children
The prophet Jeremiah’s reference to Rachel and her lost children is heart-breaking. “Thus says the LORD: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’” Like Rachel, many parents, grandparents, and loved ones are weeping inconsolably even now, refusing to be comforted for their children, because they are no more.
This tragedy is compounded in emotional force by the fact that it comes in such close proximity to Christmas, but let us never forget that there was the mass murder of children in the Christmas story as well. King Herod’s murderous decree that all baby boys under two years of age should be killed prompted Matthew to cite this very verse from Jeremiah. Rachel again was weeping for her children.
But this is not where either Jeremiah or Matthew leaves us. By God’s mercy, there is hope and the promise of full restoration in Christ.
The Lord continued to speak through Jeremiah:
Thus says the LORD: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the LORD, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, declares the LORD, and your children shall come back to their own country.”
God, not the murderer, has the last word. For those in Christ, there is the promise of full restoration. Even in the face of such unmitigated horror, there is hope. “There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to your own country.”
I discuss these issues more fully in a special edition of The Briefing, posted earlier this evening. LISTEN HERE. http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/12/14/the-briefing-special-edition-connecticut-shooting/
Several years ago, Dr. Danny Akin and I wrote an article addressing the question of the destiny of those who die in infancy or as little children. “The Salvation of the Little Ones: Do Infants Who Die Go to Heaven” is available READ HERE.
I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at email@example.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/albertmohler
Art: “The Massacre of the Innocents,” by Francois-Joseph Navez, 1824.
American presidential elections are the world’s most public display of the democratic process. The global media follow the American elections with a fervor that is easily understood — what happens in an American presidential election matters all over the world. Our presidential campaigns are political pageants and electoral dynamos. But, as any honest thoughtful observer will understand, our elections are also great worldview exercises. We reveal our worldview by our vote.
This is particularly true of the 2012 election. The presidential nominees of the two major parties represent two very different worldviews and visions. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have adopted policy positions that place them in direct conflict, and the platforms of their respective parties reveal two radically different renderings of reality.
Years ago, Governor George Wallace of Alabama remarked with disdain that there is not “a dime’s worth of difference” between the Democrats and the Republicans. In a sense, he was at least partly right. A look back at the platforms of the two parties in the 1950s and 1960s reveals little division over many of the issues that now frame our national debate. Some of today’s issues were simply missing, of course, given the fact that they were not even part of the national conversation. But on issues of the economy, foreign policy, the function of government, and a host of other issues, the parties held positions that were far closer than is the case today. Divisive issues such as the war in Vietnam would be addressed with different policy proposals, but the platforms of the two parties reflected a shared moral and political framework — a truth that would shock many Americans today.
All that changed with the social and political divisions that came with the 1968 and 1972 elections, when the Democratic Party experienced its great transformation concerning a host of social issues. The 1980 election saw the Republicans experience their own transformation, with social issues such as abortion rising to major attention in the party platform.
Fast forward to 2012, and the distance between the two parties is breathtaking. The nation’s political polarization is clearly evident in the radical distinctions between the Republican and Democratic platforms. But this polarization is not merely political. It is fundamentally moral and ideological. These two platforms present two contradictory understandings of realities as basic as human life, liberty, and the institution of marriage.
Though the two parties have taken opposing positions on many of these issues for years, the radical nature of this current polarization is new.
The parties differ about matters such as health care and the environment, the power of public employee unions, Medicare, and foreign policy. But those differences, real and consequential, pale in contrast with the positions taken by the parties concerning the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.
In 2012, the Democratic Party becomes the first major political party in the United States to call for the legalization of same-sex marriage. “We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples,” states the platform. This follows President Obama’s announcement earlier this year that his “evolving” position on same-sex marriage now reached the point that he would openly call for same-sex couples to be given the legal right to marry.
The velocity of the Democratic Party’s shift concerning same-sex marriage was on full display on the stage of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, when former President Bill Clinton nominated President Obama for re-election. In 1996, President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law after a massive bi-partisan majority in Congress approved the legislation. That act established that the United States government would recognize only the union of a man and a woman as marriage, and that no state would be required to recognize a same-sex union performed in any other state.
Just 16 years later, the Democratic president who signed that act into law nominated a Democratic president who is working for its repeal. President Obama has ordered his Attorney General not to defend DOMA in the Federal courts. He and his party now openly call for what that federal statute — still bearing the full force of law — prohibits.
The Republican platform stated: “We affirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Thus, the Republican platform calls for nothing less than a Constitutional amendment to prevent what the Democratic platform demands the law to affirm. That Constitutional amendment, Republicans argue, is made necessary by the very fact that the Democratic President will not defend DOMA.
On the issue of abortion, the Republican platform states, “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” The Democratic platform states: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
The worldview clash could hardly be more dramatic. The Republicans frame the issue in terms of the unborn child’s “fundamental individual right to life.” The Democrats frame the issue as “a woman’s right to make decisions” — including the explicit right to decide to kill the baby in her womb. These are two contradictory moral claims.
One party claims that no abortions should be legal and the other claims that all abortions should be legal. Each party is driven by their own moral logic. The Republicans are driven by the belief that, at every point of development, every individual human being is sacred and has a fundamental right to life. The Democrats are driven by the belief that the woman’s unfettered right to choose an abortion is paramount, and that a woman can demand an abortion at any time for any reason — or for no reason. As their language states, “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” The most revealing words there are “any” and “all.”
Both parties hold these positions because they are, in truth, the inevitable consequences of basic worldview assumptions. These assumptions include belief that marriage is essential to human flourishing and cannot be redefined without bringing on human disaster, contrasted with the belief that the liberation of humanity from oppression and prejudice requires the redefinition of marriage. In the background are contradictory assumptions about human sexuality, sexual morality, moral authority, individual autonomy, and the ends to which human beings are to aim their lives.
The assumptions framing the abortion positions of the two parties include the belief that every human life is sacred and to be protected at every point of development contrasted with the belief that a human life takes on greater worth and right to live as the development continues, but is tentative at least until the moment of live birth. The belief that the baby is itself the most urgent moral unit is contrasted with the belief that the woman and her right to control her own reproductive destiny is paramount. Behind these beliefs stand convictions and assumptions about human dignity, the worth of human life, the responsibility of the society to every human life, the purpose and end of human reproduction, and nothing less than the meaning of both life and death.
We are not looking at minor matters of political difference. We are staring into the abyss of comprehensive moral conflict. Christian voters can escape neither the consequences of their vote, nor the fact that our most basic convictions will be revealed in the voting booth come November. Christians cannot face these questions without the knowledge that God is the Giver of life, who made every human life in his image. We cannot consider this election without the knowledge that our Creator has given us the covenant of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as the demonstration of his glory and the promise of human flourishing.
Americans will elect a president in November, but our vote will reveal far more than our political preference. The 2012 election is a worldview exercise of unprecedented contrasts — an unavoidable test of our most basic convictions. The electoral map will reveal more than an election winner. It will reveal who Americans really are and what we really believe.
“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
The social networking website Facebook is a worldwide phenomenon with nearly 1 billion users. Everyday, Facebook users spend minutes to hours posting comments and pictures and keeping up with their “friends”.
Sounds good — people connecting with people. God made us relational beings so surely Facebook is encouraging that design, right? Well, maybe not.
Facebook can be a detrimental obsession and dangerous point of temptation. Time that could be spent productively on spiritual growth or healthy in-person relationships is replaced with browsing through friends’ latest updates. Worse, the easy means of connection provides fertile soil for illicit relationships.
But Facebook doesn’t have to be all bad. This Saturday on The Christian Worldview, we’ll discuss the positive and negatives of Facebook and how Christians can be discerning and wise about using the popular website.
Guest: Jason Carlson, Pastor and Director, Christian Ministries International
“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
Joel Osteen, pastor of America’s largest church, made the following statement this week in an interview with the Washington Times:
“I believe that [Mormons] are Christians. I don’t know if it’s the purest form of Christianity, like I grew up with. But you know what, I know Mormons. I hear Mitt Romney — and I’ve never met him — but I hear him say, ‘I believe Jesus is the son of God,’ ‘I believe he’s my savior,’ and that’s one of the core issues.”
When a prominent, professing Christian leader like Osteen emphasizes some semantic commonalities between biblical Christianity and Mormonism but draws no distinction between the substantive differences, especially as it pertains to what the Bible says about how sinful man can be reconciled to a holy God, what does this bode for the future of the church and country?
Jason Carlson, pastor and director of Christian Ministries International, will join us this weekend on the The Christian Worldview to draw clear, eternity-changing distinctions between biblical Christianity and Mormonism and to discuss a potential dilemma for biblical Christians if Mitt Romney, a Mormon, becomes the Republican nominee for President in 2012.
- Does Joel Osteen Not Know, or Does He Not Care? (Al Mohler)
- Mormonism 101 (Kevin DeYoung)
- Mormonism, Democracy, and the Urgent Need for Evangelical Thinking (Al Mohler)