Imagine this…

Imagine these signs outside a Planned Parenthood clinic and how the media would react.

Instead, these signs are outside the office of a Bloomington, MN dentist who probably poached a lion in Africa months ago.

Today, Planned Parenthood gives thanks for the Minnesota dentist taking the spotlight further off of their own atrocities.

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The numbness of our culture

We are not a culture of life. We are a culture of death.

When we are not outraged by Planned Parenthood and instead work to defend these practices with weak arguments like, “Nothing illegal is done,” or work to discredit the ones who shot the videos… we are dead. We somehow can’t bring ourselves to be outraged by these practices and would rather divert the conversation to the rantings of Donald Trump.

When a society cares so little for the beginning of life and the end of life… we’re in HUGE trouble. Narcissism isn’t just about wealth. It’s about our own wants and desires trumping absolutely everything else. Maybe that’s why we like being obsessed with Donald Trump and want to avoid the tough conversations about harvesting the organs and tissue of unborn babies. Trump represents the narcissism we like to call out in others so we don’t feel so bad about our own personal obsessions. Talking about Planned Parenthood lands us too close to our own selfishness and callousness.

This is not a simple, run of the mill, 1980s pro-life argument I am trying to make. I have worked to develop a total pro-life ethic in my own life, but there isn’t any “side” who wants to “talk” about it because at some point in our political wranglings, each “side” has some semblance of a death policy that can’t stand the conversation of life. It’s not just about the opportunity to be born into this world. It is about being well in this world, and giving that opportunity to all. And then, not cutting that life off at the end simply because “it’s their time to die.”

But we don’t want those conversations. Let’s just talk about Donald Trump’s hair some more.

Lord, how we need an awakening of the soul!

 

Hitch your wagon to a political movement…

Hitch your wagon to a political movement and watch that party fly off, dragging you along, letting the wheels fall off, and you’re left barely hanging on.

Evangelicals did this with Republicans in the 70s and 80s. It took into the 90s and then early 2000s before the realization hit: “Hey, they’re not paying very much attention to us.”

It was too late, we had then raised another generation that saw that mistake… then went and made the opposite mistake. They have hitched their wagon to the Democrats and now the same thing is happening with them.

What is funny is that in both instance we all swore at the time, “Oh, no! I don’t vote lock, stock, and barrel for…” (insert political party here). But truth be told, we did.

So, when the GOP came knocking and gave serious air time and platform time to evangelicals because we were “pro-life” (which is a misnomer I will explain), we sucked it up. Power is heady stuff. Then… nothing happened. We would blame the Democrats. (“Well, if we had Republican majorities we would get things done!”) We got that in 2000 and guess what? Nothing.

The next generation saw the hypocrisy of that… and went right out and made the same mistake. This is where we are currently.

Correctly, the next generation saw that the “pro-life” movement gave all the attention to the unborn but did nothing for the poor and the marginalized. So… be born! And then… good luck!

The Democrats came calling. They let evangelicals into the national conventions. Pastors prayed at their big events. They weren’t so “anti-Christian” as they seemed before.

But then, evangelicals who really did still believe that unborn life was still life found out something: Democrats didn’t want to hear it. At all.

So, we’ve reached another dilemma.

We get these horrific stories like Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia who was an abortion doctor doing horrific things. It should have raised the flags then. While all this time pro-abortion (and that will be my label. I’m not bowing to the “pro-choice” moniker on this one) touted the need for Roe v. Wade to be held up as law in all cases so there wouldn’t be any more “back alley” abortions, here was Kermit Gosnell doing procedures that acted like back alley abortions. 

Then this week, the leaked video of the Planned Parenthood exec talking matter of factly about selling body parts from aborted babies.

The progressive Christians and evangelicals who have cuddled up to the Dems are now in a tight position. They truly hold a pro-life position, but if they speak up to the horrors of this particular issue, the PRESSURE from their liberal friends will be awful. The shaming on Facebook!

Here is the crux of the matter: social shaming is tough stuff. For the left to make fun of Christians and say, “Hey! You’re not being persecuted!” I agree. Not like in the Sudan or Syria. But the social shaming in our context is awful.

Don’t believe me? Fine. But on my Facebook feed I have friends all over the political and theological spectrum, and I have good numbers in all camps. I’ve had ONE friend post a blog post from someone else who was progressive and made a case for being pro-life. (And it was a good case.)

But friends I have who are quick on the trigger (and rightly so in my view) on racism… silence.

Friends who were quick to put the rainbow meme on their Facebook picture… silence.

Bigger progressive voices in the evangelical world? They’ll eventually figure out how to say something with all kinds of qualifiers. But for now, on this date… silence.

You know why? It’s not “persecution” but it’s unbelievable pressure.

And THAT is what we’re left with when we hitch our wagons to political movements lock, stock, and barrel. We lose our PROPHETIC voice… and we have only become PATHETIC.

I will readily confess it.

I am far more “pro-life” in my ethic than most conservatives. I am womb to the tomb pro-life. But there was a time when it meant more to be pro-life in the Republican sense. So, when I hitched my wagon to that issue and voted, I was rabid.

Then, I began seeing the poor. I began talking about the poor. I began asking about how to meet the needs of the marginalized. And things got quiet on the GOP front.

Since even saying the label “pro-life” (and not getting an opportunity to explain it) gets me sniffed at with derision by any Democrat, I’m a man without a party.

And I don’t care. It may not make voting easy, but I have found an uncomfortable place in the prophetic where I can raise a voice for justice on many issues… and get accused of being liberal… or conservative… or Green Party… or Tea Party… at just about any given moment. I have lost “friends” on Facebook with regularity because of all kinds of things. I’ve spoken against actions Israel took, I’ve raised questions on the changing of the meaning of “marriage,” I’ll say something about gun control… you name it… it just doesn’t fit neatly into any one party.

That’s not a comfortable place to be. But when a young white man walks into a black church and starts firing away, I call for justice and a conversation on racism. I want to learn more. And when a Planned Parenthood exec is caught on tape spewing out their basic philosophy of death and it’s finally exposed, I am calling for justice again.

Dear friends, we have lost our way. To the right… to the left… we have lost our way. Years ago, it was my turn to walk away from the “right” politically. I am making a desperate plea to my friends “on the left” to PLEASE make your move away from the Democrat Party. Don’t allow their death agenda to mute your heart’s cry. You KNOW what you saw in that video was wrong. You KNOW how valuable life is… even in the womb. You KNOW the unborn are as marginalized.

YES, there is a greater conversation to have that goes beyond “Well, you guys don’t care about them once their born!” Let’s quit the bumper sticker politics. We need a deeper conversation.

But it will only start when WE as BELIEVERS rise up above the political trench digging and call for JUSTICE.

Let us LOVE GOD! And, dear friends, let us love one another. 

I plead with you.

The gods of our culture

NT Wright and Richard Foster both nailed it long ago. Our three biggest gods are money, sex, and power.

Try to say something against those three behemoths, and see how quick you get knocked back. It’s not a cultural war.

It’s just war.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t represent the “rights of women.” They represent the power of greed and sex. The manipulation they can pull is astonishing.

A couple of years ago the Susan G. Kommen Foundation mentioned they wouldn’t give a grant to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings. Within hours, 1. Planned Parenthood had double the money given to them than what the Kommen Foundation had promised in the grant, 2. Planned Parenthood had completely demonized the Kommen Foundation and sounded like this withholding would bankrupt this great work for women, and 3. the Kommen Foundation restored the grant.

Now, it’s the “revelation” of Planned Parenthood selling off body parts for profit. You would THINK that would be a tipping point moment, but my best guess is it’s not.

Here’s why: there isn’t ONE Democrat crying out for an investigation. And, quite honestly, I’m going to call out my liberal Christian friends on this one. I haven’t heard ONE of them… and I mean NOT ONE… decry this revelation. So much for “justice.”

When there is that much STUNNING silence in some major segments… you know something is truly up. We’re bowing to different gods.

There will be cries for defunding Planned Parenthood, etc. That is not really the battle. The battle is in repentance. There needs to be some tipping point where the horror of this action gets so overwhelming, so sickening, that people finally wake up to the atrocities of abortion and realize what is happening to human life.

I pray this may be that day. Quite honestly… I doubt it.

Kermit Gosnell couldn’t turn our stomachs as a nation. In a few days, this won’t raise an eyebrow.

We allow the allegiances of other gods blind us. And we offend the One we SHOULD be worried about the most.

Being pro-life

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I’ve come to a conclusion (a long time ago) that my basic philosophical stance is “I am pro-life.” That chases Democrats away immediately. Republicans think they like it, until I describe just how pro-life I really am. It’s a life ethic I want to live by, and it cuts across every political extreme.

And days like this really get my blood boiling when it comes to my pro-life ethic.

There is THIS.

And THIS.

I wouldn’t have as radical a pro-life ethic as the Pope, but on days like this, I am ready to let it fly. I AM PRO-LIFE. All the way. Womb to tomb. And these stories are angering to me.

We are losing all sense of HUMAN dignity in our culture. No “political party” carries the banner of righteousness on this. And the Church isn’t doing so well, either.

Hobby Lobby and Shrill Responses

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Hobby Lobby and other “Christian owned” for-profit businesses did not have to pay for certain kinds of contraception that violated the owners basic religious belief that those were “potential abortifacients due to the way they can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in a mother’s womb.”

There are shrill responses. We’re now headed back to “back alley abortions” according to the most shrill of responses. We’re headed back to the dark ages.

That’s what happens when you poke the beasts that are strongholds in a culture. It’s just going to happen.

Lost in the shrill response, of course, are some key facts. By when it comes to any shrill response (conservative or liberal), when do we let fact get in the way?

The companies were objecting to four specific types of contraception they were being ordered to pay for in their new insurance policies. Four out of TWENTY contraceptive methods. So, because these companies are willing to pay for SIXTEEN of the TWENTY mandated methods… we are headed back to the dark ages. The beast has been poked and it roars.

Liberal friends of mine point out this is not about religious liberty at all. I point out this is not about “women’s rights” at all. We both laugh as we disagree with each other. By the way, that’s when it’s a couple of us chatting. In a bigger space like this, I’m sure I’ll get much more vehement responses.

My point that this is about religious liberty is really not this particular case. It was when Health and Human Services first put out all the rules concerning the new healthcare laws and did something very slight, but significant. They separated out “religious non-profits” like never before. Churches and other “houses of worship” would be exempt in some parts of the new healthcare laws because of normal religious exemptions that have been held up in this country for centuries. However, the new rules sliced off all other religious organizations (schools, hospitals, charities) and said THEY must follow ALL the directives.

THIS is why I see this as an attack on religious liberty. I’m not shrill about it. I’m not decrying the moral decay of America or “America has left God.” I’m just pointing out the government from time to time does something like that to see exactly how far they can push religious liberty and the views of the public regarding that First Amendment right.

If a government can nibble on the edges and find a place to wedge in and begin to erode a long-standing practice… they will do it. It’s not about political party. It’s about power. (That’s another beast that gets poked.)

While lower courts have now decided it’s just silly to separate out the kinds of religious institutions that are exempt from the HHS rules, the Supreme Court still has to hear those cases. Yesterday’s Hobby Lobby ruling sends a signal that HHS will need to back it off this time.

Again, let me point out that this ruling is incredibly narrow in scope and it does not mean that ALL contraceptive methods are being taken away. I would ALSO like to point out that HHS did not need to go down this road in the first place. They chose to nibble at this edge when there was an easy fix already in place. Hawaii gives exemptions to all religious organizations (non-profits) and then allows riders to be attached to insurance policies for free allowing contraceptives to be provided to women. Hawaii has done this for years (as a LIBERAL on NPR pointed out when this HHS rule came out).

So, it’s not ALL contraceptive methods and it has an EASY fix. But you can’t tell that by the shrill responses on one end.

On the other end of shrill responses, I would say my own response to the ruling is tempered. It is actually sober. I’m not dancing in the streets as I watch a lot of people do (figuratively).

I personally think this is a watershed moment. This may be one of the last times religious organizations or people who own businesses and try to run them with deeply held religious beliefs will get this kind of ruling.

The decision was split. It was a narrow “victory.”

Public opinion is not favorable. In 1993, when the  Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed, public opinion was vastly upset with the Supreme Court infringing on religious freedoms. This time around, it’s hard and fast the other way.

This is why I sense this shift. There is a clash of definitions. There are “human rights” and “religious liberties.” It is perceived that “human rights” get infringed on by “religion” so there is a clash. The narrowing in the past few years is seen in terminology. We have gone from “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” Big difference.

When “human rights” and “religious liberty” clash, and the god of a culture dictates “human rights” are infringed on by “religious bigotry,” religious liberty goes out the window.

Now, for me, it’s simply saying, “That’s the way it is.” When this country was founded it added in religious liberty because they knew where they didn’t want to return. We don’t have that knowledge any longer. So, we’ve made “human rights” to be something “religion” somehow infringes upon. It’s an unnecessary dichotomy, but that is the language and argument.

Religious liberty is a freedom given. It is also a freedom that can be taken away. We can whine and cry, but that’s the fact. We need to understand our true allegiances and realize when those liberties are ultimately taken away, we will then be in harmony with the majority of Christians around the world.

It doesn’t mean we don’t make the case for continuing religious liberty. Far from it.

I’m just noting that the tide is shifting, has been shifting, and in my lifetime will probably totally shift. And in that moment, I must be prepared. I also need to prepare others that I serve.

I won’t “whoop it up” over the Hobby Lobby decision. I won’t whine about America leaving God.

I will simply try to keep pointing the way to a magnificent Savior and a King. That King has a kingdom greater than the country where I live. That King has graced me with the luxury of living in a great country that has afforded me tremendous freedoms. But those freedoms are fickle in human hands. The freedom I have in Christ is greater, and THAT is what I want people to know.

Women have tremendous freedom in the Kingdom of God. As do the unborn. All humans have tremendous freedom when they have been truly set free. And in this country, without Christ, we STILL don’t understand what “freedom” really is about.

 

How to spot a cultural stronghold

1. Pick a hot button topic: Abortion, gay rights, gun control.

2. Make a position on it concerning funding, backing, etc.

3. Watch for vitriolic responses.

CAUTION: If the vitriolic response seems to come too easily in your own case… you may need to check inside as well.