Two days ago, the Catholic Herald posted a story about Pope Francis meeting with Rev. Dr. Nikolaus Schneider. The article is entitled “Lutheran pastor meets Pope Francis in Rome,” and the text of the article also refers to Dr. Schneider as a Lutheran pastor. There’s just one problem, as the friend who brought this story to my attention noted: Dr. Schneider isn’t Lutheran.
You’d be forgiven for thinking so. He is, after all, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. And surely the Evangelical Church in Germany is Lutheran, right?
It depends. The thing English speakers often miss is that the Evangelical Church in Germany (which formed in 1948) is actually a federation of separate church bodies in Germany rather than a unified denomination itself. Among its twenty-two member churches—all but one of which are regional churches, restricted to a particular geographic area—are Lutheran, Reformed, and United Protestant church bodies. While the churches have full altar and pulpit fellowship with each other, they each retain their own denominational distinctives.
Which brings me to the point: Dr. Schneider is a member of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland (EKIR), which he served as Praeses (the equivalent of “president”) from 2003 to 2013. And the EKIR is not Lutheran: it’s part of the Union of Evangelical Churches, and originally comes out the United Protestant tradition.
The United Protestants can be traced back to the early nineteenth century. At that time, King Frederick William III began instituting the unification of Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia. (For lack of a good online history of the Prussian Union, you can read the Wikipedia article here. Lutheran dissent over this forced union led, by the by, to Old Lutherans immigrating to Australia and the United States—laying the groundwork for today’s Lutheran Church of Australia and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.)
The resulting Prussian Union represented a blending of Lutheran and Reformed traditions, and it’s out of this body that the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland comes. Indeed, they claim not only Lutheran documents like the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession as part of their heritage but also accept the Reformed Heidelberg Catechism.
So no, Dr. Schneider isn’t a “Lutheran” pastor. While the error is understandable, it shows the need to be careful when discussing German Christianity. Twenty-two regional church bodies may together hold membership in the Evangelical Church in Germany, but these churches profess different theologies. Some are Lutheran, but the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland is not one of them.
A lot of attention has been paid to Lisa Snow, testifying on behalf of Planned Parenthood at a hearing in Florida regarding a bill that would require medical care for babies born after a botched abortion. To the surprise of many, and to the chagrin of Planned Parenthood, she couldn’t say what Planned Parenthood would do in a case where a baby on the table was struggling for life. Later Planned Parenthood clarified its position. Dismissing the exchange as having occurred only when “state legislators demanded speculation about a vague set of extremely unlikely and highly unusual medical circumstances,” Planned Parenthood acted as though it was no big deal. Should such a circumstance arise, “of course Planned Parenthood would provide appropriate care to both the woman and the infant.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that someone representing Planned Parenthood forgot about that boundary line between a baby on that side of the birth canal and a baby on this side. It has always been an artificial distinction. At one time there were clear distinctions between babies who wouldn’t be able to survive outside the womb and those who could. If you artificially expelled a baby from the womb, in virtually all cases there was no realistic chance of survival. But now that babies are surviving at earlier and earlier gestational ages, it is harder to justify why the deliberate killing of one baby is a decision solely “between the woman and her physician,” while the deliberate killing of the other (or the deliberate failure to provide medical care, by placing the child in a closet, for example) is murder.
It isn’t just pro-life advocates, or even fringe commentators like Peter Singer, who reject the talismanic distinction between a baby on that side of the birth canal and one who is on the table, struggling for life. (Peter Singer would go so far as to permit euthanizing any seriously ill or disabled infant, on the assumption that infants are neither “rational nor self-conscious.”) In 2006 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (RCOG) issued a report that called for reexamining the issue. After all, they pointed out, we might actually be able to save more lives that way. Instead of forcing women to make a choice about whether to “terminate a pregnancy” with the limited and often unreliable information that is available prenatally, why not wait until the baby is born, and if the news turns out to be as bad as was feared, make the decision then?
After all, it is already part of standard medical practice to withhold “heroic measures” to save infants who are judged too ill to justify such measures. Why not extend that permission to infants who were slated for abortion, but who were given a chance to prove their diagnosis wrong? By relaxing the bright line between what can be done to “terminate a pregnancy” and what must be done for an infant born alive, wouldn’t we get better medical care for all concerned? The RCOG report caused at the time to conclude that “the push to permit infanticide has entered the mainstream.”
Legislation that would protect a baby born alive from deliberate efforts to end that child’s life are based upon the assertion that, whatever rights a mother may have with regard to a child in her womb, once the child is born alive (especially if it managed to survive the efforts to prevent that), he or she deserves legal protection. President Obama voted against such legislation when he was a state senator in Illinois. A similar bill is now under consideration in Florida. Such bills may result in saving some innocent lives, but in our efforts to protect infants born alive, we must continue to critique the absurd belief that an eighteen-inch journey through the birth canal marks the dividing line between a “choice” and murder. In her very public blunder, Lisa Snow helped us to see that.
Alex Massie hails Margaret Thatcher as “an accidental libertarian heroine.” In Massie’s telling, Thatcher was an economic liberal and a social conservative (in fact she was one of the few Conservative MPs to vote for decriminalizing homosexuality and also voted in favor of liberalizing abortion—but let us allow Massie his characterization). Despite Thatcher’s social conservatism, Massie says, “her triumph on the economic front contributed to her defeat in the social arena.”
Massie sees this as a good thing. He goes on to say, “There has always been a tension between economic liberalism and social conservatism. At some point and as we have, I think, seen, the two become incompatible.” It is rather economic liberalism and social liberalism, he says, that “are dance partners, taking turns to lead.” That’s lovely. But wrong.
Massie holds that “if the individual should be freed in the economic realm then individuals should be granted greater liberties in their own lives as well. But the economics come first.” But his thinking is upside down.
As John Courtney Murray in We Hold These Truths states:
Part of the inner architecture of the American ideal of freedom has been the profound conviction that only a virtuous people can be free. It is not an American belief that free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral law.
Moreover, Murray writes, we would be wise to remember Lord Acton’s phrase that freedom is “not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.” One lesson taught by the legacy of Thatcher is that economic liberalism should let social conservatism take the lead if it doesn’t want to trip over its own feet.
Here, the Holy Father took the opportunity to explain, once again, his choice of papal name, while using that exercise to make two important points. Stressing the Church’s care for, and work with, the poor throughout the world, the pope reminded his audience in the Vatican’s Sala Regia that Francis of Assisi knew that there were various forms of poverty.
Words reveal truths about who we are in nature and in grace, and as such, we believe a falsehood about our nature when we embrace a gay identity, or when we believe that anyone has an “orientation” toward the same sex. I believe there is a natural law, and I believe in the truth proposed by the Catholic Church that my body reveals who (and what) I am.
The horrors continue to emerge from the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. One baby, who was likely full term, screamed after being delivered during an attempted abortion. Some women delivered their children into toilets; snipping the necks of these infants was, according to one employee, “standard procedure.”
How could Gosnell and his employees do such things? One woman explained that she called the babies “specimens,” since “it was easier to deal with mentally.” Another pleaded the Nuremberg defense, telling the jury, “I only do what I’m told to do. What I was told to do was snip their neck.”
And how did Gosnell’s clinic, which opened in 1979, get away with its crimes for so long? Because, according to the 2011 grand jury report, “the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided [in the early 1990s], for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all.” Under a new pro-choice governor, “officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions.” Though direct complaints were still supposed to be investigated, the many complaints about Gosnell were not.
As the same report points out, “even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.” And so the tragedies and absurdities of our pro-choice regime were allowed to multiply.
A Romanian lawyer is suing his local Orthodox bishop and four priests claiming they failed to properly exorcise flatulent demons that were forcing him out of his home.
Madalin Ciculescu, 34, accused the five of fraud after they turned up several times to exercise the demons which were responsible for the bad smells that were ruining his business. . . .
The case alleging ‘religious malpractice’ is reportedly the first time there has been such an allegation made in a Romanian court. . . .
The case has already been rejected by a lower court in Romania and was rejected again this week by the Romanian High Court, but now the businessmen says he plans to go to the European Court of Human Rights.
He told the court: ‘If they (the accused) represent the way of God then God’s ways are crooked. They did not remove the demons that made these bad smells as they promised to do, and I still see all sorts of demons in the form of animals, usually crows but also other such things, that are making my life miserable.
The religious impulse will find litigious expression in a litigious age.
Fr. Thomas Joseph White and Fr. Austin Litke from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. graced a small audience at the World Youth Alliance last Wednesday with a little bluegrass concert. Enjoy a snippet here. (Note: This song represents only one of the three pillars of bluegrass music, namely God, unrequited love, and murder.)
The name, by the way, comes from Flannery O’Connor who used the term in a 1955 letter regarding an upcoming TV interview:
“Everybody who has read Wise Blood thinks I’m a hillbilly nihilist, whereas I would like to create the impression over the television that I’m a hillbilly Thomist, but I will probably not be able to think of anything to say to [the interviewer] but ‘Huh?’ and ‘Ah dunno.’ When I come back I’ll probably have to spend three months day and night in the chicken pen to counteract these evil influences.”
For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: “I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.” In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one’s integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.
According to this Huffington Post/YouGov poll, 32 percent of Americans would favor a Constitutional amendment that would make Christianity the official religion of the United States. 42 percent oppose such an amendment, with 32 percent “strongly” opposing the idea.
It may appear shocking to some that so many people are in favor of such an amendment to the Constitution, but from a historical perspective this is not shocking at all. As I argued inthe first four chapters of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, Americans have always understood themselves to be living in a Christian nation. Though not everyone who believed that America was a Christian nation would have argued on behalf of a Christian amendment, there were many who did.
In 1863 ministers gathered in Xenia, Ohio and proposed the following amendment to the preamble of the U.S. Constitution:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, [recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour and Lord of all] in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This group of ministers eventually became known as the National Reform Association (NRA). n 1864 its leaders brought their proposal for a Christian amendment to the White House and, according to an annual report of the NRA, Abraham Lincoln gave his approval to their mission. By 1874 the organization was holding national gatherings attended by several thousand people, mostly clergy.
The NRA leadership made several arguments on behalf of a Christian amendment. They believed that the original decision to leave references to Christianity out of the Constitution dishonored God. Some of them believed that God used the Civil War to punish the Union for its godless Constitution. Others argued that the Constitution did not reflect the religious sentiments of the majority of the American people.
The NRA also put forth a historical argument for why the Constitution should include a Christian amendment. Its members believed that the government of the United States was founded on Christian principles. The primary evidence for such a believe was the Declaration of Independence (with four references to God), the state constitutions (which were loaded with Christian language), and the colonial and state criminal codes. By invoking the Puritans and Pilgrims, the membership of the NRA was making an argument that the United States had always been a Christian nation.
It should also be noted that the NRA maintained a commitment to the separation of church and state. They rejected the idea of an established church. In this sense, they distinguished the “separation of church and state” from the “separation of religion and state.” Its members were very careful to affirm that they were not opposing religious liberty and were not interested in creating a theocracy. But they did want to give Christianity a privileged place in America. This meant the promotion of Bible reading in schools, the preservation of the Christian sabbath, and the public recognition of the teaching of Christianity as the nation’s moral guide.
Like the current attempt in North Carolina to create a state church (I should add here that the bill was just killed in the NC House of Representatives), the NRA never specified how the government would strike a balance between the separation of church and state on the one hand and the privileging of the Christian religion on the other.
The movement to add a Christian amendment to the Constitution failed, but this did not derail continued attempts get such an amendment passed. The NRA renewed its platform again in 1894 and 1910 and continued to meet through World War I. In 1947 and 1954 the National Association of Evangelicals promoted an effort to add the following words to the Constitution: “This nation divinely recognizes the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of Nations through whom are bestowed the blessings of God Almighty.”
Attempts to make the U.S. Constitution more Christian or to make Christianity the official state religion have been around for a long time. In most cases, the advocates of such amendments have failed to make a clear distinction between their respect for the first amendment (especially the disestablishment clause) and their wish to create a religious establishment. It should thus not surprise us that the North Carolina bill was killed for its failure to articulate its wishes in a clear and coherent way.
To the Wonder startles us into realizing that the world is shot though, positively charged, with presence. Whether that presence is fructifying love or slinking destruction stands as an accusing question throughout the film. The most frightening aspect of all is that it is our choice to accept the love that surrounds us, or to keep ourselves destructively closed off from it.
For the five or six thousand years preceding the last fifty, no one needed an explicit pronouncement that marriage was an office involving opposite sexes because it seemed obvious. In the last half century, however, human sexual mechanisms have become utilized less for production and more for pleasure.
Yesterday Mahmoud Salem published a piece in the Daily News Egypt, entitled “Morsy’s Christian Problem.” In the piece, Salem condemns the Egyptian government’s lack of protection for the Christians in that country. He acknowledges that President Mohamed Morsi claims to defend Egypt’s Christian population, but Salem demonstrates the hollowness of Morsi’s support.
Salem lists the acts of violence directed against Egyptian Christians since Morsi took office. He notes that the president’s government successfully defends certain buildings from protestors, but inexplicably cannot protect church buildings. Salem’s piece should cause all Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters in Egypt.
But Salem does not merely criticize Morsi. He also indicts the West for valuing democracy over human lives. He ends his piece with these words:
In other news, during those clashes, European Union officials were in Egypt discussing with the president and opposition figures the parliamentary elections and how they intend to monitor them, with the Egyptian newspaper citing Catherine Ashton promising to help Egypt get that IMF loan, so that the EU, alongside the US can continue to prop the Muslim Brotherhood regime as it continues its reign of terror. I have a suggestion, EU: How about we resort to your magical ballot box to solve Morsi’s Christian problem once and for all? We can start a referendum asking whether or not to burn all of Egypt’s churches and kick all the Christians out. I am positive it will pass with a stunning rate, and then the state can persecute the Egyptian Christians and attack their churches legitimately. After all, the ballot box has spoken. Dear EU, you can monitor that if you like.
Salem notes one of the perils of democracy. It all depends on who is doing the voting. Let’s pray for Christians in Egypt.
It’s hard to know what to make of these results, but a recent Huffington Post/YouGov survey reveals that roughly one-third of Americans would favor amending the Constitution to make Christianity the nation’s official religion. A similar percentage would favor making Christianity the official religion of their own state.
As Walter Russell Mead notes, there’s a lot of ambiguity here. What would it mean for “Christianity” to be the nation’s “official religion”? Given the very strong non-denominationalism in American religious life, I have to assume respondents envisioned something like “Christianity-in-General,” or “Mere Christianity,” rather than any specific Christian communion. As to “official religion,” I doubt respondents had in mind a thoroughgoing establishment in which the state pays clergy salaries out of tax revenues. Most probably, respondents were thinking of mild endorsements of the sort traditional in American life. “In God We Trust,” for example.
One intriguing interpretation of the poll appears in the Huffington Post article itself. By calling for an official religion, respondents may simply be expressing frustration with what they see as an anti-religious theme in American public life. Saying one supports an “official religion,” in other words, may be way to manifest one’s sense that America has gone too far in erasing its Christian heritage from public life:
The relatively high level of support for establishing Christianity as a state religion may be reflective of dissatisfaction with the current balance of religion and politics. Respondents to the poll were more likely to say that the U.S. has gone too far in keeping religion and government separate than they were to say religion and government are too mixed, by a 37-29 percent margin. Only 17 percent said that the country has struck a good balance in terms of the separation of church and state.
In other words, respondents don’t want a Church of America. They just want the Easter Bunny.
Last week, Russell Moore, president-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, gave C-Span an interview in which he discusses the role of religion in American politics and culture. In his new role leading the ERLC, Moore will promote honest and civil discussion regarding ethics and social issues, reminding Americans that religion must have a voice in the public square. I’ve always been a fan of Moore’s thoughtful advice regarding how Christians ought to engage the world around them. Toward the beginning of the interview, the host asks Moore if he thinks that he’s on the losing side of the culture war. His answer sums up his approach:
I don’t like to think in terms of culture wars. I don’t think we are at war with one another in this country. I think we have very deep disagreements on issues that matter, but we come to that with civility and in conversation.
Moore recognizes that social conservatives who let the Bible shape their worldview are a decided minority in America. He claims that this minority needs to realize their position and speak prophetically. During the course of the interview, Moore fields questions from callers on both sides of the political divide. Callers from the left are angry with him because of his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. Callers from the right can’t understand his position on immigration and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to use the rhetoric of “culture war.” I suppose that these callers have a right to be confused because they probably haven’t heard someone talk like this before. Moore offers an intelligent, cool-headed position, and most Americans have never experienced intelligence and cool-headedness in the context of discussing religion’s role in politics.
As Moore points out, Baptists have a tradition, hearkening back to the American founding, of supporting freedom of conscience. Supporting freedom of conscience is not the same thing as supporting an I’m-okay-you’re-okay policy. Too many Americans have forgotten how to talk about these complex issues. On a side note, the host also asks Moore to address Fred Luter’s comments linking North Korea’s aggression with same-sex marriage. His response was much more civil (and probably appropriate) than my critique. I’m glad Moore is filling this important position on the ERLC. I believe his leadership there will bring some sanity to America’s public discourse.
My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child.
A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born.
That first sentence leaves something to be desired, but Ebert was a film critic, not an ethicist. May he rest in peace.
Update: A commenter writes below:
The first sentence of Ebert’s observation indeed “leaves something to be desired.” But look way down in the comments to his original post. There, a reader confronted him with the story of the reader’s own wife, who was raped by another while they were married. He asked Ebert how he would explain making her carry a child to term, had she become pregnant, and making them both care for the child.
“I am silent before your words,” Ebert replied. “Who am I to say? Yet what are you to say about the rights of the unborn child?”
Who else admired left of center has recently said anything at all like that?
“Methodism isn’t just a religion for Sundays—no faith is only a faith for Sundays. There were a lot of things during the week which one attended. Methodism is a pretty practical faith; there were the mothers’ sewing meetings and the guilds for young people.” . . .
Although she was married to Denis Thatcher 27 years ago in Wesley’s own chapel in the City of London, she has since moved towards Anglicanism and I asked her about this shift.
“You know, John Wesley would of course say that he was a member of the Church of England, and the service he believed in was the Church of England service; but it was too high for the kind of evangelical work he was doing.
“Methodism is the most marvellous evangelical faith and there is the most marvellous love and feeling for music in the Methodist Church which I think is greater than in the Anglican Church. But you sometimes feel the need for a slightly more formal service and perhaps a little bit more formality in the underlying theology too.
“So throughout my life I have felt the need for both things, to some extent for the informality, for the works you do; but always I found myself groping out for more of the actual teaching of the religious basis. As I say, I went for something a little more formal. I suppose it’s first one’s belief and then one’s background.”
She denies that this move was in any way a rebellion. The need for the formal and the evangelical came to rest for her in the Church of England, “but not the real High Church”, she adds.
Redefinition of marriage to allow same-sex unions undermines the proper separation of cultural and governmental power that is so important for a liberal regime. Marriage is an institution as fundamental as religion and morality. It is more primitive and ancient than anything resembling organized government.
What happens when a couple lives together before they get married? These transaction costs are magnified to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible just to walk away. Doubts about the relationship are swept aside because to address them would mean to look on Craigslist for a new apartment and furniture.
Next weekend, the Center for Irish and Irish-American Studies at NYU will host a conference marking the bicentennial of People v. Phillips, an early freedom-of-religion case involving the priest-penitent privilege:
“Religious Freedom in America, 1813 to 2013: Bicentennial Reflections on People v. Philips” is a weekend of events that marks the landmark 1813 case that is the earliest known constitutional test of freedom of religion and the priest-penitent evidentiary privilege in American law. A dynamic line-up of events will demonstrate how a trial for a petty jewelry theft escalated into an argument for religious freedom when the local priest was subpoenaed to testify what he had heard in confession.
In People v. Philips, William Sampson — a banished political exile from Ireland and a Protestant — argued on behalf of the Trustees of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on Barclay Street before the presiding judge, Mayor DeWitt Clinton. William Sampson’s experience of religious-based intolerance in Ireland propelled him to persuade the court that America should not look to British common law for legal precedent when dealing with Catholics, then a small but growing minority in New York City.
William Sampson’s own published account of the case, The Catholic Question in America, will be presented in a staged reading adapted by Steve DiUbaldo of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts on Friday evening, 12 April. A full-day symposium follows on Saturday, 13 April, where scholars from a wide variety of disciplines — especially law, religion, history, and politics — will comment on Sampson’s 1813 record of the trial and consider it in relation to their own understanding of contemporary issues. On Sunday morning 14 April, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the final resting place of lawyer William Sampson and DeWitt Clinton, will mark the 200th anniversary of the case with an encore reading of The Catholic Question and a wreath-laying ceremony.
Last summer, a federal appeals court ruled that a Wisconsin public high school could not hold its graduation ceremonies in a rented Evangelical church sanctuary. To do so, the court ruled, posed too great a risk of government coercion, proselytism, and endorsement of religion. Three judges–Easterbrook, Posner, and Ripple–filed blistering dissents, the sort that often result in Supreme Court review.
The Becket Fund has filed a cert petition on behalf of the high school; Stanford Law Professor Michael McConnell appears on the petition as counsel of record. You can read the petition here. The Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will hear the case, Does v. Elmbrook School District, later this month. The case would give the Court an opportunity to clarify (or discard) its much maligned endorsement test. For my reflections on the issues the case raises, please click here.
Eliot’s “April is the cruellest month” is not so much about his conflicted response to spring (rooted in some forgotten childhood trauma) or about creating a linguistic puzzle to help us develop our skills of attention but about hope. What makes April cruel in the poem (among other things) is that the hope of new life that spring evokes is, at least for Eliot at the time, always temporal.
Washington already provides state-funded abortions for low-income women. And all carriers that currently provide health insurance in the state offer at least one plan that includes abortion coverage. In answer to the question of why the Reproductive Parity Act was needed, proponents said they were concerned that implementation of the Affordable Care Act might cause insurance carriers to stop covering abortions and new carriers might enter the market with more restrictive coverage.
And in our third feature, Wesley J. Smith on media bias:
The Gosnell story should be huge. But the media has generally looked the other way. As of this writing, the major network nightly news programs have not even covered the trial, and most reporting outside of the Philadelphia area has been sporadic, placed on inside pages, and written blandly—the kind of low-voltage reportage easily lost in the constant white noise of media overload.
When Brandon Ambrosino told his English professor at Liberty University, a conservative Christian college, that he was gay, he was surprised by her reaction:
“I love you,” she said. I stopped crying for a second and looked up at her. Here was this conservative, pro-life, pro-marriage woman who taught lectures like “The Biblical Basis for Studying Literature,” and here she was kneeling down on the floor next me, rubbing my back, and going against every stereotype I’d held about Bible-believing, right-leaning, gun-slinging Christians. . . .
When people find out I underwent therapy at Jerry Falwell’s Christian college, they assume I went through something like gay reparative therapy. But that isn’t what happened. I saw two counselors at Liberty—Dr. Reeves also had me meet with Ryan, one of his grad students, once a week—and neither of them ever expressed an interest in “curing” me. Did they have an agenda? Yes. Their goal, which they were very honest about, was to help me to like myself, and to find peace with the real Brandon.
Contrast this with the experience of “Chris,” a practicing Catholic who was attracted to other men and wanted to live chastely. He received little help from his secular college:
Like many schools, Chris’ university has an LGBTQA center (an official office supporting “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and allied” students). Had he been seeking advice on how to embrace his same-sex attractions, perform sexually as a gay man, or develop a romantic homosexual relationship, he would have been welcomed. Wanting instead help to live chastely, he found nothing. Worse than nothing, he found rejection. . . .
When he asked [the psychologist at the college's health center] for a referral to see a Catholic therapist, she all but called him crazy for refusing to give in to his nature as homosexual. In the end, his university health insurance wouldn’t cover all the cost of an outside therapist, and he obviously couldn’t turn to his parents.
At Liberty University, a gay student found love and support. At one secular college, a gay student could find that support only if he rejected traditional Christian teaching. In some instances, it seems, secular tolerance is no replacement for Christian love.
Fred Luter, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, caused a theological controversy last week. On a radio show March 27th, the host asked Luter whether he believed that North Korea’s sabre rattling had anything to do with God judging America for debating same-sex marriage. Luter seemed to agree, responding:
It could be a possibility. I’m not that strong in prophecy, but I would not be surprised that there’s not a connection there simply because of the fact we’ve seen it happen in Scripture before. I would not be surprised that at the time when we are debating same-sex marriage, at a time when we are debating whether or not we should have gays leading the Boy Scout movement, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that we have a mad man in Asia who is saying some of the things that he’s saying.