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African american with BibleRedefining marriage to be whatever we want it to be is an idea whose time has come.  Those who insist otherwise are a remnant from some unenlightened age.  Or so the media appears to believe.  Perhaps that’s why there was little if any coverage of a surprising victory in the state of Illinois.

Earlier this summer, the Illinois legislature took up the issue of same-sex “marriage.”  A vote in favor of gay “marriage” seemed inevitable considering that Illinois is President Obama’s home state.  He and both the governor and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel endorse the practice.  But a remnant from the unenlightened age was busy at work.  The state’s African-American pastors were working hard to reach and convict African-American legislators.  They were asking them to stand tall for the truth of marriage.

The pastors wanted the legislators to acknowledge marriage as the “institution created by God to bring men and women together for the benefit of children that can only be created through the union of men and women.”

The media informed me that this vote was taking place but then fell strangely silent.  I would never have known the outcome even if I would have channel-surfed or picked up the local paper.  I guess the media just couldn’t bring itself to report the stunning victory…

… of the African-American pastors.  Their faithful truth-telling made a difference.  Illinois did not succumb to the “inevitable.”  Illinois legislators defeated proponents of same-sex marriage in a hard-left-leaning state.

I believe that significant victories in cultural debates are happening more often than we know in families and neighborhoods across the country.  It’s just that the media, with a religious bent of its own, can’t seem to tolerate people who don’t share their convictions.  So, rather than report the news, the media seems more intent on shaping minds.

The mantra of the media beats away, but it does not silence the unchanging Word of God.  Truth is.  Trusting the Truth, the African-American pastors in Illinois refused to be intimidated and went to work.  Their voices and actions mattered.  It matters that all of God’s people “stand tall for the truth of marriage… ” and the order of God’s creation.

But it’s too easy for the believer to fear.  To doubt.  To grieve the loss of morality and see only dark days ahead.  We are tempted to disengage and succumb to the “inevitable.”  Have we forgotten that the Word came to live among us?  The Word cannot be overcome.  Using that Word, the pastors in Illinois exposed the darkness and held it at bay.  If they can do it, so can we.

While we have opportunity, we are compelled to speak what God has given us to say, warn neighbors away from sin, and offer forgiveness and hope to the repentant.

Come to think of it, this is how a remnant of people have pushed back against evil for a long, long time.

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John Sommerville is the author of how the News Makes Us Dumb.  Before news became an industry, Sommerville writes, society was held together not by news but by its cultures.  People shared “fairly settled assumptions about what was reasonable, natural, expected or good.”  Scholars call this a culture’s metanarrative — a  narrative that “binds our thinking.”

The Bible provided this metanarrative for Western civilization.  Even nonbelievers were familiar with its stories and ways of structuring moral and social reality.  But the media — the news industry — changed that.  People in this industry generally disregard or blatantly defy the Judeo-Christian narrative.  They believe it’s their job to shape our thinking.  They are constantly raising questions that cause people to doubt Christianity or any cultural traditions grown out of Biblical thinking.  Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, writes, “The result is that many people accept the idea that we should be constantly reevaluating what we believe and understand about the world — including our religious beliefs — but news stories cannot replace a culture’s metanarrative, because, by its very nature, the news gives priority to the shocking and the new.  It is a cycle of endless deconstruction.”

“The good news,” writes Colson, “is that Americans are recognizing that the ‘news’ is becoming a little more than vulgar entertainment, largely irrelevant to our lives.”

A good practice is to use the news for appropriate and limited purposes.  Sommerville offers this suggestion: “We should balance our bloated appetite for news with a cultural diet rich in books, reflection, and discussion.  And we should put the news through a mental metanarrative grid — asking ourselves if the ‘news’ being offered up reinforces our cultural story — and our views of Christianity — or tears it apart.”  Colson agrees.  “The news may make us dumb — but reading and discussing great books, especially the Bible, leads to the kinds of wisdom that brings real understanding.”

Appreciation to How Now Shall We Live Devotional
by Charles Colson, Tyndale House Publishers

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What followed the tragedy in Tucson testifies to our nation’s loss of respect for human life.

A young man, for no sane or sensible reason, chose to coldly shoot and kill six people.  He wounded thirteen others.   The choices and behaviors that followed this tragedy are, perhaps, just as chilling.

A sheriff traditionally called upon to bring order and serve justice chose, instead, to build a platform for his own personal and political opinions.  He stepped over the boundary of his role as a servant of the people to take advantage of a tragic event.  In so doing, he diverted attention away from the dignity of human life to himself.

A national president traditionally called upon to serve the best interests of his countrymen chose, instead, to allow a  memorial service to be transformed into a rally.   In so doing, he diverted attention away from the dignity of human life to himself.

A government staff and university administration, captivated perhaps by this national moment, missed the opportunity to call a community and country to reverence and respect for human life.  Instead, multiculturalism was showcased.  The students in attendance were motivated not to silence and reflection but to “rah rah” and “hoopla.”   With the loss of respect for human life comes a loss of common decency and good manners.

I was distracted by sensational yet conflicting messages.   Then, I re-focused: What sensitivity was expressed toward the families of the dead and wounded?  The judge, shot and killed that morning in front of Safeway, was returning from Mass.  Yet, instead of a priest, a Native American professor raised his feather and called upon the “masculine” spirit from above and the “feminine” spirit from the earth.  In an odd twist, two presidential staff members read from Isaiah and Corinthians.  Jesus’ name was spoken, not by a churchman but by a statesman.

I was confused.  Upon whom fell the spotlight?  And why?  As this week comes to a close, who will be remembered?

The young intern to whom the congresswoman may owe her life spoke with humility.  He rejected the title of “hero” to instead point to many others who were willing to lay down their own lives for another. There were several who chose to, intentionally or unintentionally, honor the Creator and Redeemer of life by “loving their neighbor.”  Their selflessness is a ray of hope.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness

(Psalm 115:1)

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