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Archive for April, 2011

Much dialogue followed the front page story and photo in my hometown newspaper.  What would one expect after reading the headline: “Mr. & Mr.”?  Discussions have been sane and civil.  No voices raised.  No anger.  Some disagreement, yes.  Concern, yes.  Disappointment, yes.  But,  no hateful words.

Then arrived in my mail a simple but hand-written note from Exodus International.  Exodus is a ministry for those leaving the homosexual lifestyle.  When others ask, “Is there hope?  Is change possible?,” Exodus follows the example of Christ by walking the journey with struggling people.  Exodus doesn’t just speak God’s Word.  It makes use of it.   Over a period of years, I have kept my eye on this organization, watching to see how they treat people.  How they respond to attacks from their opposition.  Who funds them.  Why they continue to exist.  I donate to this ministry, recommend them to others, and offer their resources.  Exodus takes prayer requests from those on their mailing list.  Following the “marriage” of the two young men in my community, I asked the Exodus staff to include these two men in their prayers.

A few days later, I received a hand-written note.  “Dear Linda,” it read, “Thank you so much for your support.  Today in our prayer time, we prayed for the two young men you mentioned in your community.  We will continue to lift you and your family up as well.  God bless!”  It was signed,  “In Christ’s name, Janine.”

Exodus took my prayer request seriously.  They “heard” and responded with a promise to rely not on themselves, but on God.  This personal note was evidence that Exodus takes the struggle of homosexuality seriously.  When this ministry speaks of “hope” and “change,” it speaks not in human terms, but Godly.  Exodus is bold in Jesus’ name because they have evidenced the hope that comes with changed behavior.  Exodus does not shame those they serve, but treats them with a compassion not unlike Jesus who reached out to include those who didn’t seem to fit this or that mold.

Too many people don’t want to believe that change in behavior is possible.  The ministry of Exodus is opposed by gay and lesbian advocacy groups.  But, the stories of men and women who have found hope in changed behavior witness to me of what happens when we stop resisting the Word of Christ and trust Him with our lives.

The media doesn’t sing the praises of Exodus and other ex-gay ministries.  But, if one is really interested in the souls of their neighbors, they might want to visit Exodus.

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The first man and woman were naked in the Garden.  There was no shame because both were created in God’s perfect image.  But, when Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, they fell from that perfect image and were no longer righteous (holy) in the sight of God.  They lost their pure and trusting relationship with God.

Sin distorted what God created.  The man and woman no longer saw each other with perfect eyes or experienced a perfect relationship.  Eve tried to cover her nakedness with leaves.   But, God said a bikini of fig leaves wasn’t enough.  What she did with her own hands wasn’t enough.  Trying to partially cover herself wasn’t enough.

The consequences of sin changed everything for men, women, and all of their children.  Today, we are deceived by our distorted ideas of right and wrong.  We are arrogant and immodest.  But, God still says that a bikini of fig leaves isn’t enough.

So, is that it?  Does God just sit in His heaven and count our sins against us?   When sin exposed nakedness and spoiled a perfect relationship between God and his creation, did He abandon us all?  Did He say, I am Holy.  You are not.  I am finished with you.   No.

God had mercy.  The Creator of life had a plan that would reconcile sinful people with a Holy God.  Adam and Eve could no longer stay in the Garden, but God did not send them naked or without hope into a changed world.   He made a promise… and then He covered them with garments of clothing made by His own hands.  The promise was a Savior from sin.  The clothing was really more than just animal skins.

God’s mercy required sacrifice and special clothes.  We can think of that sacrifice and “robe of righteousness” today.  On Good Friday, we remember that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  There is nothing we can do to cover our sin.  But, thanks be to God!  Adam and Eve did not have to despair, and neither do we!  In mercy, God clothes those whom He loves.  We are clothed in righteousness at our baptism.  We are clothed in righteousness when we hear the Gospel and the Holy Spirit works faith.

Physical clothing reminds us of our sinful condition.  But, the clothes we wear also remind us of God’s mercy.  When God covered Adam and Eve, He sacrificed an animal.  This first shedding of blood in the Bible points us toward God’s ultimate shedding of Jesus’ blood on the Cross.  Every time we get dressed, we can remember that God has “clothed [us] with garments of salvation” and “wrapped [us] with a robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).

The covering of our sins by Christ on Good Friday was not partial, like a bikini of fig leaves.  It was complete.

Makes me think differently about getting dressed.

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A man once asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  This man, who spent his days studying the Law, was testing Jesus.  Jesus answered, “What is written in the Law?  How do you read it?”  The man responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus said, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:25-29).

But, then the man asked another question.  “Who is my neighbor?”  Was the man implying that some people might not be his neighbor?  Do we think that some people might not be our neighbors?

The Greek root of the word neighbor means “nearby, close.”  It means “whoever happens to be nearby or close at hand” (The Lutheran Study Bible, commentary on Luke 10:29).  But, do we too often fail to see a stranger as our neighbor because we are prejudiced?  Threatened?  Inconvenienced?  Selfish?  Lacking compassion?

To help the man recognize his neighbor, Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  A priest and a Levite passed by a fallen, injured man.  Only the Samaritan risked his own life and showed mercy to his fallen “neighbor.”  It is one thing to speak of doing the right thing.  It is another to actually do the right thing.  As Christians, we are challenged to put right thinking into right practice.

Who is my neighbor?  Is it someone in prison?  Is it someone of a different culture or color?  Is it a pregnant teen?  Is it an unborn child?  Is it someone with AIDS?  Is it someone who enters my life at an inconvenient time?  Is it someone whose worldview differs from mine?  What difference would be made in my community if I saw — if we all saw — everyone as “my neighbor”?  If I — we — served everyone as “my neighbor”?

Jesus told the man to be like the Good Samaritan, but this reminded the man of how far he was from being what God wanted him to be.  The same is true for me.  For all of us.  For this reason, I turn to the Cross on Good Friday to remember what Jesus did for me — for the whole world.  Jesus saw my desperate situation — how far I am from being what God wants me to be — and became the Good Samaritan.  He laid down His life for me.  For the world.

He laid down His life for me.  He paid the only sacrifice needed.  Now He asks that I have mercy on my neighbor… all of them.

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“The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing . . . she takes a seat on the highest places of the town” (Proverbs 9:13-14).

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1).

These verses, inspired so long ago, describe the feminist movement of today.  As a  young wife and mom, I know some of my thinking was shaped by twisted feminism.  But, my eyes were opened by a variety of experiences: my own and those of other women who had taken me into their confidence.  Today, my eyes more easily see the vivid contrasts between the woman God created me to be and the woman deceived feminists think I should be.

My library contains the work of many women who’ve left the feminist movement because it was foolish.  I’ve listed a few recommendations below.   Be prepared not only for a courageous read, but to have some of  your own illusions shattered.

All of my reading tells me that the early suffragettes would find little in common with today’s feminists.  Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were pro-family (not anti-male) and were strongly opposed to abortion.  Compare them with the National Organization of Women (NOW), or the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), or Planned Parenthood (PP) whose women consider abortion their cornerstone.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminist Mystique, never found joy: not as a girl, a daughter, a woman, a wife, or a mother.  Certainly she had choices, as we all do, but she chose to speak ill of everything womanly.  Rather than leave dysfunction behind and seek healthy mentors, she blamed society for woman’s woes.   She was “loud,” “seductive,” and “knew nothing” about the created beauty and purpose of women.  Knowing nothing, she “took a seat in the highest place of town” and led women of my mother’s and my generations into foolishness.  “It was easier for me,” Friedan wrote in her book, “to start the women’s movement than to change my own personal life.”

Folly — the woman captivated by modern feminism — has not built a house, but “with her own hands tears it down.”

Did the women who followed Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem find contentment?  Did they help women adjust attitudes away from “me” toward others?  Did they raise — or lower — the standard for women?  For men?  For children?   Did they help younger women find joy in their beautiful design or turn them against their created nature?  Did they soften or harden hearts?  Did their demand for an “equal playing field” produce victory — or defeat — for family and society?

All that I see (and that’s no exaggeration) tells me that the foolish women of the modern feminist movement opened the door to promiscuity and “friends with benefits,” girls less protected by boys and men, depression, increased vulnerability to STDs (how cruel not to tell young women that their very anatomy makes them more susceptible to sexual diseases), mothers turning hearts against their own children, an explosion of weary and lonely single moms, and no-fault divorce.

Had it with Folly?  Then, turn to Wisdom.  Wisdom is Jesus Christ.  Look up all the verses in Scripture that describe Wisdom.  The wisdom of Jesus Christ is life-changing.  Problem-solving.  Creative.  Hopeful.  Pregnant with promise.

Was feminism a mystique or a mistake?  (Read Diane Passno’s book Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?)

Who distorted what the early suffragettes believed?  (Read Christina Hoff Sommer’s book Who Stole Feminism?)

Did our own mothers forget — or refuse — to tell us something?  (Read Danielle Crittenden’s book What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us)

Is modern feminism built on a lie?  (Read Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly’s new book The Flipside of Feminism)

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“Calling homosexuality a sin is homophobic,” proclaimed the college student, “and no true, loving God would promote hatred against someone based on how he or she created them.”

But, what “true, loving God” would “create” a person to be homosexual?  What a cruel God that would be!  Would He think it amusing that body parts don’t fit?  Would He callously dunk biscotti in His coffee as He watched the health of men deteriorate and the hearts of women grow cold?

When people claim that homosexuals are “born that way,” I agree.  We are — each one of us — born with sin in us.  But, my choice is to embrace that sin or fight it; to do things that my body wasn’t made to do, or be on guard against harming myself and others; to be “lord and master” of my own life, or to trust that God knows best what I need and is good for me (as well as those affected by my choices).

The God of creation made Adam and Eve perfectly.  She was a “helper fit for him.”  (Literally: “like his opposite.”)  Their “fit,” in the intimacy of marriage, would be complementary and procreative.  The Creator said it was “good.”  God would be contrary to Himself if He created such masterpieces and then set them on a course of abuse and destruction. No, it was not God that brought confusion, struggle, and pain into our lives.  It is human sin — our own pride and disobedience — that makes this world a dark and troublesome place.

The God of reciprocal love did not force the first man and woman to be in a relationship with Him.  He invited them to trust Him and choose life.  The alternative was to trust themselves and choose death.  When Satan tempted Eve with his question, “Did God really say . . . ?” she and Adam both failed to trust God… and sinned.  Sin brought selfishness, deceit, abuse, difficult relationships, fear of children, weaknesses for all manner of harmful behavior (including unnatural sex), diseases, and death.

Can God tolerate sin and its consequences?  No.  But, the God who despises sin does not hate the person who sins.  Adam and Eve chose to disobey God so could no longer stay in the perfect garden, but before entering a now changed and harsh world, God promised One who would win victory over satan, sin, and death.

The promise was kept.  Jesus Christ came down into our dark and troublesome world.  He knew that, left to ourselves, sinful people are alienated from the Holy God… and there’s nothing we can do about it.  So, Jesus cried out,

Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.  And whoever sees Me sees Him who sent Me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.  If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.  The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:44-48).

Good Friday approaches.  I am drawn to the Cross where my Savior showed compassion for sinners.  Dare I cheapen His amazing grace or mock His victory over death by claiming that my sins matter not to the Holy God?

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“Ohhhh… he made me feel so good.  One thing led to another.  I couldn’t control myself.   It happened…

(Pregnant pause)

… now, I must take control of my body by having an abortion.”

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A woman named Melissa responded to “Planned Parenthood on 9/11,” my post of April 13.  Three times she commented.  Four times I attempted responses of my own.  Back and forth we went… until it became clear that Melissa and I don’t share a belief in the same God.

“Melissa’s” are in our neighborhoods, families, and even congregations.  Perhaps, if you have a spare moment or two, you might skim her commentaries.  Does she think like anyone you know?   What happens when worldviews seemingly share no common ground?  What does God ask us to do?

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Three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted last November because the court re-defined marriage and allowed homosexuals the right to marry each other.  Months later, opinions are divided.  Some maintain that the supremes were acting exactly as they should: safeguarding the rights of an unpopular group from a discriminatory act.

Judge Richard Posner would dispute that.  Posner, a widely respected judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said in a public interview, “Nothing in the Constitution or its history suggests a constitutional right to homosexual marriage.  If there is such a right, it will have to be manufactured by the justices out of whole cloth.  The exercise of so freewheeling a judicial discretion in the face of adamantly opposed public opinion would be seriously undemocratic.  It would be a matter of us judges, us enlightened ones, forcing our sophisticated views on a deeply unwilling population.”

Put simply, when the law defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it does not prohibit any person practicing a homosexual lifestyle from marrying.  They would just have to marry in the same way that everyone else in society has to marry — namely, they would have to marry someone of the opposite sex.  This right is extended equally to all unmarried adults in the society.

When a person practicing a homosexual lifestyle claims they want to marry another person of the same sex, he or she is claiming a new right that had not previously been available to anyone in this society.  Such a right has been denied to everyone in the society prior to this time, so it is not discriminating against them to say that this kind of right is denied to them.

Let’s use another example.  A man wanting to marry his sister may claim he has the right that everyone else has: the right to marry.  But that’s an invalid argument.  The law prohibits such marriage.  When the law denies this man the right to marry his sister, it isn’t denying him anything that it doesn’t also deny everybody else as well.  In truth, this man is really claiming that he has the right to redefine marriage according to his own desires and preferences.  And he’s not just claiming a private right, but a right to redefine the institution of marriage for the whole of society.

There is so much more to be said, but let me offer one more thought.  Laws in any society have a teaching function.  The kinds of relationships that are approved by the law are more likely to be approved of and followed by the society as a whole.  People will reason, “This is according to the law, therefore it must be right.”  This happened with Roe vs. Wade: “Abortion is legal, therefore it must be right.”  50+ million babies in the U.S. died by the hand of abortionists since that court decision in 1973.

I am called to put my trust in the One who created the institution of marriage and who, therefore, defines it.  It is not for me — or anyone else — to tamper with what God has made.  Government, another institution created by God, is called upon to maintain the standard of what constitutes marriage.  Failing to do this results in societal chaos and great harm to children — the very ones marriage is designed to protect.

I was among those who voted not to retain three Iowa supreme court justices.  This wasn’t because I don’t consider all people — no matter their color, ethnicity, religion, or lifestyle choice — to be equally human under God.  Rather, it was my civic duty to say “no” to anyone’s “right” to redefine marriage, to remind judges that the law they make has a teaching function, and to act as someone accountable to the most Supreme Judge.

(SOURCE: Politics According to the Bible
by Wayne Grudem, Zondervan, pp 229-230)

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There was a day when even Planned Parenthood might have turned its back on death and destruction.  But, no.  After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC) responded by offering “free reproductive health care” to women affected by the world Trade Center disaster.

“[W]omen in need due to the tragic events of last week,” said PPNYC in a press statement, could receive free of cost “PPNYC services, including GYN care, birth control, emergency contraception, STD and HIV testing and counseling . . .”  It did not specifically mention free abortions.  However, when contacted by Population Research Institute, a PPNYC representative confirmed that any woman who had been displaced by the attack “can come in for a free termination.”  (Source: Population Research Institute Weekly Briefing, September 28, 2001.  PRI is a non-profit organization dedicated to debunking the myth that the world is overpopulated – http://www.pop.org)

Many families found hope and joy in the babies waiting to be born into families who grieved tremendous loss.  Here was an opportunity for Planned Parenthood to see the promise of new life.  But, no.  The largest provider of abortions in the world stood ready to end more lives.

I don’t understand.  Do you?

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My personal “tour guide” at Planned Parenthood was friendly.  I did not doubt that she genuinely believed she was part of an organization that wanted to help women.  However, two-thirds of the “tour” was was spent explaining where the client has her abortion and how long it takes her to recover before leaving by way of the side door.

So, Planned Parenthood: “Fess up!  You benefit from multiple private donors, yet you fight tooth and nail for my tax dollars.  Why is it so important that government fund and, thereby, endorse you?

My “tour” of Planned Parenthood was many years ago.  It — and countless conversations with women who left your clinics by the side door — influenced me to warn mothers and daughters away from your place of business.  I have read your brochures, become familiar with your recommended textbooks and classroom topics, studied your reports, and visited your web site for teens.  You do not view men, women, relationships, marriage, or family as God does.

So, come clean Planned Parenthood and “fess up!

If you’re all about women’s health care, why do you:

  • Teach the “art and science” of premarital sex to elementary, middle and high school children?
  • Encourage boys and girls to “test their sex savvy” and engage in interactive games such as “Jim Dandy and His Very Gay Day”?
  • Tell boys and girls that even though their parents may not understand, any sexual activity is “normal” as long as the two people involved “give” and “receive pleasure”?
  • Teach the “ABCDs of LGBT Dating” (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender)?
  • Help child predators by covering up illegal sexual activity, child abuse, and statutory rape?
  • Drive a wedge between parents and children?
  • Promote promiscuity and sexual disorders?  (Note: My conscience does not allow me to include quotes or paraphrases from Planned Parenthood publications and web sites.  I invite my readers to do their own research and have included sources.)
  • Mislead adolescents and teens with the idea of “safer sex”?
  • Perpetuate the lie that you are a “health care” organization when, in one year alone (2001), you dispensed 458,892 emergency contraception kits (“morning after pill”), performed 213,026 surgical abortions and 25,000 chemical abortions, but in your nearly 900 “health centers” saw only 15,618 clients for prenatal care (1 for every 13 abortion clients) and made only 1,951 adoption referrals (1 for every 109 abortion clients)?

“Fess up, Planned Parenthood!  If you’re all about women’s health care, why don’t you:

  • Show expectant moms the ultrasound of their baby?
  • Inform women that abortion may be legal, but it is not necessarily safe?
  • Applaud the work of caring pregnancy centers that affirm the physical, psychological, and spiritual wellness of girls and women before, during, and after pregnancy as well as to mothers grieving their aborted children — all without government assistance?  (In 1997, I co-founded one of these caring pregnancy centers in my community and continue to serve as a volunteer, mentor, and board president.)
  • Warn women about the connection between abortion and breast cancer?
  • Help build relationships between girls and their parents rather than circumventing parental notification laws?
  • Admit that you practice a form of eugenics even today by intentionally setting up your clinics in the more impoverished parts of town and, percentage-wise, aborting more black children than white children?
  • Admit that you actively lobby for abortion rights and pursue your own interests?  (In 2006, PP hired Cecile Richards [the daughter of Ann Richards, former governor of Texas] as president.  Her experience is not in health care at all, but in political action.  Her previous work as as a union organizer, as the founder of “Texas Freedom network” [formed to battle pro-life groups in Texas], as director of pro-choice projects for the Turner Foundation, and as founder and president of America Votes, a coalition of 32 of the biggest and richest unions and liberal interest groups in the country.)

Planned Parenthood, one of your own clinic directors has been quoted, saying, “If Planned Parenthood had no abortion, it would see its soul unravel.”  (Thomas Webber, former director of PP of Minnesota/South Dakota, The (St. Paul) Pioneer Press, July 27, 2000).

SOURCES: Teenwire.com, Planned Parenthood, Childpredators.com, Pro-Life Action Ministries, STOPP International, Life Dynamics, The Eliott Institute, Silent No More, Word of Hope, The Lighthouse, Ramah International, Lutherans For Life, and Concerned Women for America, Dr. Joe McIlhaney, Dr. Miriam Grossman, and Dr. Meg Meeker — for starters!

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