Category Archives: Breakpoint radio commentary

California Colleges wants to kill future students

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What is with California and their colleges? For the Colson Center, I’m John Stonestreet with The Point.

The drama of the California legislature and its colleges and universities continues. After threatening the existence of Christian colleges two years ago, California lawmakers are now debating a bill to require community colleges and state universities to provide free abortion pills upon request to women up to ten weeks pregnant. This would, according to the bill’s sponsor, remove the so-called “burden” of having to secure transport to an abortion clinic for so-called “health care.”

The bill, which would take effect in 2020, would also require campuses who fail to offer the abortion pill to provide a free transportation program to abortion clinics for students who request it.

This “service” would be added to a host of other required “services,” like free contraception and STD testing, and would in fact just about complete the state’s commitment to one of the core ideals of the sexual revolution, the divorce between sex and procreation… an ideal now not only taught in California classrooms but fully integrated on their campus.

 

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The Iranian Protests and the Church

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The protests currently shaking Iran have enormous implications for U. S. foreign policy—and for the Church.

Iranian citizens are rising up against their oppressive Shiite government. They shout, “Death to the Dictator!” while enduring tear gas, water cannons, arrest—and death.

The demonstrations initially had to do with the sagging economy, high unemployment, and the increased cost of basic foods. As one protester quoted in the Washington Post said, “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything.”

But these protests may have evolved into “an open rebellion against Iran’s Islamic leadership itself.”

The outcome of these protests of course will have enormous implications for the Middle East and for U. S. foreign policy. The Iranian government is a staunch ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group and arch-enemy of Israel, and is fomenting unrest (and that’s putting it mildly) throughout the Middle East.

And no doubt you’ve heard about the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But there’s another reason Americans—and especially American Christian—should be following events there: the growth of Christianity in Iran.

In the online journal “The Stream,” my friend Michael Brown writes that Iranian converts, Christian leaders, and missiologists all tell him the same thing: “Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace.” Indeed, according to the Iranian Christian News Agency, Islamic clerics are alarmed at the growing number of Iranian youth who are abandoning Islam, converting to Christianity, and joining house churches. That despite the enormous risks of conversion in a country that openly suppresses the Christian faith.

The news comes as no surprise to Reza Safa, a Muslim convert to Christianity and the author of “The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran.” Safa, who now lives in the U.S., notes on his website that “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.”

That’s exciting news. And the protests against the regime raging across Iran may be a sign of hope for Christians, according to Iranian journalist and Christian convert Sohrab Amari. Amari told the Catholic News Agency that “the Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them.” Many are even chanting “nostalgic slogans” about pre-revolutionary Iran—a time when religious minorities like Christians, Jews, and Bahai’s could live well enough alongside their Islamic neighbors.

The outcome of the protests remains to be seen. Will they lead to more freedoms, or to even worse repressions?

And as the number of conversions continues to rise, will the government target churches even more fiercely, or will those who have tasted the freedom to become children of God through Jesus Christ act as leaven in Iranian society, inspiring more people to seek freedom from their authoritarian overlords?

We don’t have to look far back in history to see epoch-shaking movements of God’s people. As Chuck Colson documented masterfully in his book “Being the Body,” the fall of communism in Poland, in Romania, and throughout eastern Europe was fueled by Christian faith—and the human desire for freedom kindled by that faith.

At one time, those of us old enough to remember the Cold War couldn’t have imagined the demise of European communism. But it happened. The fall of an authoritarian Islamist regime should not be beyond our hopes and prayers.

So please, join me in prayer for our brethren in Iran—for safety, for wisdom, and for the conversion of many more to freedom in Jesus Christ.

 

The Iranian Protests and the Church: Bread, Freedom, and Faith

As events are unfolding in Iran, believers everywhere have the opportunity to intercede for Christians and new converts in that country. Read more about this critical news and its implications by clicking on the links in our Resources section.

Resources

What No One Is Telling You About Iran

  • Michael Brown | Townhall.com | January 2, 2018
Could Iranian protests bring religious freedom for Christians?

  • Michelle La Rosa | Catholic News Agency | December 29, 2017
Christianity is Rapidly Growing in Iran

  • CBN News | August 15, 2017
Being the Body: A New Call for the Church to Be Light in Darkness

  • Chuck Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn
  • Thomas Nelson
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  • 2004

BreakPoint This Week: Where Was God in 2017?

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“Where was God?” It’s a question that John and Ed believe Christians must be prepared to answer in the midst of natural and man-made disasters. Certainly in 2017 we saw God at work in and through his people, the Church, as they responded with love and relief efforts in the wake of the monster hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.

John and Ed also review the tumultuous political year, the fate of religious liberty as we know it before the Supreme Court, and what the declining fertility rate means for Western nations.

Resources

BreakPoint: 1.77 Kids Aren’t Enough

  • John Stonestreet
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  • December 18, 2017
BreakPoint: Dying Alone

  • Eric Metaxas 
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  • BreakPoint
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  • December 19, 2017

Thank God for Jose Altuve An Athlete We Can Look Up To

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I love improbable success stories. And even more, I love it when the person who has succeeded recognizes his story’s Author.

Sports Illustrated recently named J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros as its “Sportspersons of the Year.”

Both are among the best players in their respective sports, but that’s not the only, or even primary, reason they were selected. As the magazine put it, these “athletes spoke loudest in their actions and words off the field.”

In the case of Watt and Altuve, the emphasis is on “actions.” Specifically, their contributions to Houston’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Most sports fans, including Christian ones, were already familiar with the almost literally larger-than-life Watt, whose freakish combination of size and athleticism has made him the most dominant defensive player in the NFL.

But until this October, few, if any, knew much about Altuve, the American League’s 2017 Most Valuable Player. His is a story that is so improbable and inspirational that Hollywood would have rejected the script. But, as Altuve will tell you, the Author of his story doesn’t reside in Hollywood.

Part of the improbability is obvious when you look at him. He is listed at 5’6”. That’s two inches shorter than I am and no one has ever called me “tall.” As Tom Verducci pointed out in his article on Altuve, “Over the past decade every one of the MVPs in the NFL and NBA stood at least 6’ 1” with 18 of those 20 standing 6’ 3” or taller . . . The most popular players in baseball, either by All-Star votes . . . or jersey sales . . .  are at least 6’ 3”. We literally look up to them.”

Despite being the smallest player in Major League Baseball, Altuve is its best hitter and arguably its best player. He has won three batting titles, led the league in stolen bases twice, has won a Golden Glove for his fielding, and is a five-time All-Star. According to the advanced statistical metric known as “wins above replacement,” Altuve did more to help his team win games in 2017 than any other player in baseball.

To call this “improbable” is an understatement. At age 16, he was invited to tryout camp in his native Venezuela. He wasn’t invited back for the second day because he was only 5’5.” Urged on by his father, he returned, uninvited, for the second day of camp and over the next few days played well enough that the Astros offered him $15,000 to sign. That was literally one percent of what another Venezuelan player at the camp who eventually washed out of baseball was paid, but, as Altuve says, he would have signed for free.

The rest is, as they say, history. Among baseball’s all-time hit leaders, only three had more hits at age 27 than Altuve: Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, and Hank Aaron.

As I said, an improbable story whose author, Altuve will tell you, is God. Altuve told the Houston Chronicle that, for him, achieving success wasn’t getting “into the major leagues or [having] the best season in the world. The best success is to live your life the way God wants you to.”

He added, “We need to not just ask God but thank Him for everything like our health, our family.” He told CBN, “I feel like every morning when you wake up you have to thank Him just for another day. I do it every day.”

All of which makes Jose Altuve someone we should all look up to, no matter our height.

 

Thank God for Jose Altuve: An Athlete We Can Look Up To

It’s refreshing to hear about a sportsman who acknowledges God’s providence in his life. As believers we should all be able to agree, as Jose Altuve says, “The best success is to live your life the way God wants you to.” To find out more about this exciting athlete, check out the resources linked below.

 

 

 

BreakPoint: The True Beauty of Women “I Will Do It for You, Baby

 

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You won’t believe what one lingerie company is doing to show what makes a woman truly beautiful. I’ve got a great story for you. Get a hankie.

When it comes to lingerie companies, we’ve gotten used to some pretty graphic ads. You know the kind I mean: ones that feature impossibly perfect, airbrushed models wearing frilly and revealing underwear.

But the other day I came across the most amazing lingerie ad I’ve ever seen. No, I was not reading a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I was watching an online ad created by the Thailand branch of Wacoal, a Japan-based lingerie company. It was part of a three-part series called “Beauty Inside.” And it magnificently depicts the true value of women.

The first ad opens with a married couple sitting nervously in their doctor’s office, holding hands. “After trying so hard for many years, she finally got pregnant,” the husband says. But today they’re getting some bad news.

“I know it’s hard,” the doctor says sympathetically. “But please make a decision as soon as possible.”

The couple, clearly stunned, drive home, hold one another, and cry.

“On that day at the hospital,” the husband relates, “the doctor told us that she’s got cancer. She has only two choices. First, she might be cured if she took chemotherapy. But that may cause our child a disability. Or we might lose our baby. The alternative is to keep our child. But she might have to fight the cancer alone, without any remedy.”

The woman cries as her husband holds her. The next morning, she gets up and walks to the living room, where the baby’s crib is still sitting on its box. She runs her fingers along the crib and makes a decision: “I will do it for you, baby.”

The mother begins putting the crib together and plays with a stuffed animal, anticipating her child’s birth. Now she is back in the hospital, in labor. When her doctor holds up her healthy baby, she cries with joy. After cuddling and kissing her child, the mother hands him to her husband. She smiles at her little family as a nurse takes her down the hall and into the chemotherapy room.

These ads—which are both profoundly pro-women and pro-life—have become a global phenomenon. Millions of people have watched them online. Clearly they’ve hit a nerve—and I think I know why.

First, most lingerie ads focus on women’s bodies, suggesting that a woman’s appearance is the most important thing about her. But these ads challenge young women to value themselves in other ways: To celebrate strength and sacrifice, courage and compassion.

They’re teaching women something else, as well: that a worthwhile man will value them, not based on outer beauty, which is fleeting, but on inner beauty, which is based on character. And when life throws them a curve ball—such as cancer during a pregnancy—a strong man will help his wife through it.

Finally, I believe modern young women may be getting tired of being encouraged to take the easy way out when they run into a problem—such as a problem pregnancy. Women are, I think, moved by the idea that self-sacrifice is noble, and can be the source of great joy.

It’s hard to watch this ad without crying, especially when you find out it was based on a true story. Whether it meant to or not, the Wacoal company gives us a perfect illustration of 1 Corinthians 13:7: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I hope you’ll watch these ads, and share them with your friends, sisters, and daughters. Their positive messages will help cancel out the hundreds of negative ones that bombard young women every day.

And you just might consider buying the woman in your life some lingerie, not from Victoria’s Secret, but from the company that teaches that the value of women is in the nobility of their character.

 

(This commentary originally aired March 2, 2017.)

 

The Beauty of Women: I Will Do It for You, Baby

As Eric highlights, the true value of a woman is not found in appearance but in integrity of character. To see this demonstrated in the arts, watch the Wacoal “My Beautiful Woman” ad series. We’ve included the links below.

 

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BreakPoint: It’s Not About the Manger Christmas and the Incarnation

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This is John Stonestreet. Merry Christmas! Today on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson shares his thoughts on the staggering implications of Jesus’s birth.

I hope you’re enjoying this holy Christmas Day in the company of your friends and family.  Today, Chuck Colson relates in a broadcast originally aired ten years ago how Christmas is a time to reflect on the babe in the manger and God’s wonderful love for us, but even more, it’s a time to reflect on the cosmic implications of the Incarnation of  God’s Son.

Chuck Colson: The manger scene inspires a sense of awe and comfort to the hearts of Christians everywhere. But we often forget the staggering implications of Christmas.

What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it’s a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels, and assorted animals look on. Heartwarming picture, but Christmas is about far more than a Child’s birth—even the Savior’s birth. It’s about the Incarnation: God Himself, Creator of heaven and earth, invading planet Earth, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

It’s a staggering thought. Think of it: The Word—that is, Logos in the Greek, which meant all  knowledge that could be known, the plan of creation—that is, ultimate reality, becomes mere man? And that He was not born of an earthly king and queen, but of a virgin of a backwater village named Nazareth? Certainly God delights in confounding worldly wisdom and human expectations.

Thirty years after His humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews’ befuddlement when He read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives…to set free those who are downtrodden…” Jesus then turned the scroll back and announced, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In effect, the carpenter’s son had just announced He was the King.

So yes, the birth of Jesus is a glorious moment, and the manger scene brings comfort and joy and Christmas cheer. But it should also inspire a holy terror in us—that this baby is God incarnate, the King who came to set captives free, through His violent, bloody death on the cross as atonement for us, His unworthy subjects.

It’s through the Incarnation God sets His grand plan in motion. He invades planet Earth, establishing His reign through Christ’s earthly ministry. And then Christ leaves behind an occupying force, His Church, which is to carry on the work of redemption until His return and the kingdom’s final triumph.

Do we get this? I’m afraid most of us are so preoccupied and distracted by last-minute Christmas shopping and consumerism, we fail to see God’s cosmic plan of redemption in which we, as fallen creatures, are directly involved.

Well, the average Christian may not “get” this announcement, but those locked behind bars do. Whenever I preach in the prisons, and I read Christ’s inaugural sermon, Luke 4:18, and when I quote His promise of freedom for prisoners, they often raise their arms and cheer. The message of Jesus means freedom and victory for those who once had no hope. They’re not distracted by the encumbrance of wealth and comfort.

People in the developing world get it, too. Whenever I’ve shared this message with the poor and oppressed people overseas, I see eyes brightening. Stripped of all material blessings, exploited by earthly powers, they long for the bold new kingdom of Christ.

Today is Christmas. Go ahead, enjoy singing about and celebrating the birth of the Savior. Set up a manger scene in your home. But don’t forget this earth-shaking truth: The birth of the Baby in the manger was the thrilling signal that God had invaded the planet. And that gives us real reason to celebrate Christmas.

 

(This commentary originally aired December 25, 2007.)

 

 

It’s Not About the Manger: Christmas and the Incarnation

As this commentary from Chuck reminds us, Christmas is a time for joyful celebration. But it’s especially a time to remember God’s Incarnation. So get your family together and celebrate the Advent of Christ and His kingdom come to earth.

BreakPoint: The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol” Hope, Redemption, Story

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“Ebeneeeeezer!” Today on BreakPoint, I’m going to talk about Charles Dickens’ great classic work“A Christmas Carol.”

One hundred and seventy-four years ago, a British writer was horrified at the conditions under which children were made to labor in tin mines. He decided to write a pamphlet exposing these conditions. His intended title: “An Appeal to the People of England on Behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”

Thank heavens the writer changed his mind. Instead of a pamphlet, he decided to write a novel making the same points. It’s filled with colorful characters—including an old man who goes about snarling “Bah, Humbug!”

Those two little words instantly reveal what book I’m talking about: “A Christmas Carol,” by the immortal Charles Dickens. The book has never been out of print—and it illustrates why telling a good story is often the best way to communicate our beliefs.

Why does “A Christmas Carol” still resonate today? For the answer, I went to my friend Gina Dalfonzo, editor of Dickensblog. She told me “A Christmas Carol “is a book that “has everything: great sorrow and great joy, corruption and redemption, poverty and pain, hope and love.” And “it expresses the deep belief that even the worst person can change for the better.”

“A Christmas Carol” is not merely a magnificent story, and its message is not confined to a “social gospel” teaching: Dickens points directly to Christ throughout. For example, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, suggests that perhaps nothing about Christmas can be “apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin.”

And Tiny Tim expresses the hope that when people saw his lameness, “It might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” This is, Gina points out, “a wonderful example of the biblical idea of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.”

Dickens’ classic shoots down the idea—prevalent in some Christian circles—that reading novels is a waste of time. They seem to forget that Jesus Himself was a master storyteller. For instance, He didn’t just say, “Come to the aid of those who need help.” Instead, He told a vivid story about a Samaritan who rescues a wounded man.

Chuck Colson once said that when it came to learning moral lessons, he was “much more impressed by profound works of fiction than by abstract theological discourses.” Scenes from some of the greatest stories ever told, he said, “have etched moral truths deeply into my soul. Their characters and lessons are so vivid I can’t forget them.”

And that is likely why so many of us will never forget the moral truths told through Ebenezer Scrooge, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, and all the other memorable characters that populate Dickens’ great Victorian tale. It’s why we reject pamphlets that say, “Be nice to the needy” in favor of a good strong character bellowing, “Are there no prisons? [Are there no] workhouses?” Or the ghost of Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley, howling, “Mankind was my business!”

Dickens’ Christmas classic is more popular than ever. There’s a new film about how he came to write “A Christmas Carol,” called “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” And a writer named Samantha Silva has just published a novel titled “Mr. Dickens and His Carol.”

I do hope you’ll take time out to read, or re-read, the original, or read it aloud to your family. Who knows what great good may come of it?

And so I end this piece by saying—and you probably knew it was coming—“God bless us, everyone.”

 

The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol”: Hope, Redemption, Story

As Eric mentions, a good story has the power to bring moral truths alive for daily life, and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a great example of that. Get the book for yourself or for a friend–it’s available at the online bookstore. And check out Gina Dalfonzo’s Dickensblog for more on the timeless works of this famous British author.

 

BreakPoint: Handel’s—and Jennens’s—“Messiah” Apologetics thru Art

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“Messiah” may be the greatest work in the canon of Western music. You know the composer—Handel. But do you know the author?

As one wag put it, “In the orchestra world, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is just as much an annual Christmas tradition as eggnog and overworked shopping mall Santas.”

Handel’s magnum opus is one of the supreme wonders of human genius, especially if you keep in mind that the genius on display is not only Handel’s.

We’re so used to calling the work “Handel’s Messiah” that we fail to notice that he only wrote the music. And as good as the music is, what’s being said, or in this case, sung, is every bit as inspired and inspiring.

The text, or “libretto,” as it’s properly called, was written by Charles Jennens. Chances are you’ve never heard of him. And you’re not alone. Even in his lifetime Jennens was “utterly unknown” to most of his contemporaries.

But obviously not to Handel, who, in a letter to Jennens, referred to their collaboration as “your Messiah.” As the director of the Handel House said a few years ago, “Without Jennens there would be no Messiah.”

That being the case, it’s worth knowing more about Jennens. He was an English landowner and patron of the arts. He wasn’t only a patron: He collaborated with Handel on other works such as “Saul,” “Israel in Egypt,” and “Belshazzar.” As with “Messiah,” his contributions were anonymous.

As these titles suggest, Jennens’s specialty was librettos based on biblical subjects. This was the direct result of his devout Christian faith. And that brings me back to “Messiah.” Jennens was concerned with the emergence of Deism within the Church of England. Deism rejected the idea of God’s intervention in human affairs and, with it, the inspiration of scripture.

His response to the threat was what he called a “scripture collection” that demonstrated that the Scriptures had predicted the coming of the Messiah, which he desired Handel to set to music. Unlike his other “scripture collections,” every word in the Messiah’s libretto is taken directly from scripture. As Albert Mohler wrote a few years ago, “Jennens understood the Bible to reveal a comprehensive and unitary story of God’s salvation of his people.”

But Jennens knew that it would take more than a pamphlet to combat Deism. He had to appeal to people’s emotions and imaginations, as well as their intellect. In other words, he needed art.

Thankfully, he knew just the right man to undertake the challenge. In July 1741, he wrote a friend saying “Handel says he will do nothing next winter, but I hope I shall persuade him to set another Scripture collection I have made for him . . . I hope he will lay out his whole genius and skill upon it, that the composition may excel all his former compositions, as the subject excels every other subject. The subject is Messiah.”

A month later, Handel began work on the music and finished it in only twenty-four days. At the end of the manuscript, he wrote the initials “SDG,” Soli Deo Gloria, “To God alone be (the) Glory.”

Since its first performance in Dublin in 1742, Jennens’ exercise in what can accurately be called scriptural apologetics has become the most beloved choral work in history. No one knows how many times it has been performed. Counting the recordings alone is exhausting.

And every time we listen, we are told “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” And that, as Mohler reminds us, was what Jennens wanted us to understand: God has spoken.

 

Handel’s—and Jennens’s—“Messiah”: Apologetics thru Art

Why not take advantage of live performances of “Messiah” in your area, or check out recordings of this “scripture set to music” collection. You’ll understand how Jennens and Handel used art to appeal to the imagination, and how the good news of the Incarnation is presented to all who listen to this magnificent work.

Resources

For the Mouth of the Lord Hath Spoken It

  • Albert Mohler | AlbertMohler.com | December 10, 2010
The Messiah: The Texts Behind Handel’s Masterpiece

  • Douglas Connelly | IVP Books | July 2014

What’s in a (Transgender) Pronoun? Speaking Truth in Love

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If a transgender person asks you to use a pronoun or name in line with his or her preferred gender, what do you do? It’s no longer a hypothetical question.

In “Romeo and Juliet,” we remember Shakespeare asking, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A rose is still a rose no matter what we call it. But what’s in a pronoun? Specifically, if a neighbor who identifies as transgender asks us to use ze rather than he or she, does it really matter? What should we do to honor the relationship and the gospel?

It’s a sticky issue for Christians, and it’s becoming stickier by the day. That’s why I’m glad to tell you about a very helpful perspective, an article by Andrew Walker entitled, “He, She, Ze, Zir? Navigating pronouns while loving your transgender neighbor.” Walker, who wrote the great book “God and the Transgender Debate,” is Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In the article, Walker exhibits the truth and grace so necessary for believers to navigate these choppy waters in our homes, at work, and in church. Regarding the truth, he forthrightly points out, “Pronouns are not an insignificant issue. … The question we as Christians have to consider is whether the reality we are being asked to affirm is objective and corresponds to biblical truth, or whether the reality we are being asked to acknowledge is subjective and false. Nothing less than the truth and authority of God’s revelation over created reality is up for grabs in something as seemingly innocent as pronoun usage.”

Andrew adds, “Because, at root, the transgender debate is a metaphysical debate about whose version of reality we live in, and only one account—Jesus Christ’s—can lead us into truth about reality and human flourishing.”

The Bible reminds us, as well, to speak the truth in love—that is, with grace. While God’s Word unequivocally says that we’re created male and female, it also makes clear that each of us has been made in God’s image and therefore deserves to be treated with dignity and compassion. So while Andrew never backs down from our mandate to obey God’s Word as we see it and follow our consciences, he counsels godly wisdom in how we respond to people, depending on things like the social context and the depth of the relationship.

Surprisingly, Andrew first counsels avoiding the pronoun dilemma whenever possible. Rarely do we have to use the third person when speaking to someone. Second, generally, we can use the person’s preferred first name, since names are gendered culturally. Third, don’t lie! “Those with writing or speaking platforms,” Andrew writes, “have an obligation to speak and write truthfully and not kowtow to political correctness or excuse falsehood. … I will call Bruce Jenner ‘he,’ or if I do say ‘Caitlyn,’ I will still say, ‘him.’”

Then Andrew covers what he calls some “tricky situations.” When it comes to a close family member who is transgender, Andrew says he would not honor the pronoun or first name request. “I know this person intimately,” Andrew explains, “and in all likelihood I possess the relational capital to understand this person’s story and speak truthfully.”

He acknowledges this decision may be deemed offensive even when done kindly, but sometimes this is unavoidable.

Same thing with the workplace. If you know the other person well, you should tell him or her the truth. Andrew acknowledges this might mean you will run afoul of company HR policies. “None of this is easy,” he acknowledges, “but Jesus never promised that following him would be without great personal cost.” Indeed not.

I’d tell you what he says about church encounters, but it’s nuanced, and we’re almost out of time. Just come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to the article. Because, while it may not matter what you call a rose, it matters very much what you call a fellow human being.

 

What’s in a (Transgender) Pronoun? Speaking Truth in Love

For more on this very controversial topic, read Andrew Walker’s book, “God and the Transgender Debate.” It’s available at the online bookstore.

Resources

God and the Transgender Debate

  • Andrew T. Walker | The Good Book Company | August 2017

BreakPoint: Who Cares How Taylor Swift Votes? Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics

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I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d talk about Taylor Swift on BreakPoint. Just look what you made me do.

It’s not exactly a secret where the entertainment industry stands on conservative politics, especially President Trump. With few exceptions, this president has only intensified the full opposition by actors, producers, singers, and performers of all stripes to the GOP. But one pop singer—the world’s most successful pop singer, in fact—has remained strangely quiet.

A recent editorial in The Guardian called Taylor Swift an “envoy for [Donald] Trump’s values,” not because she’s ever expressed public support for the president, but because she hasn’t said much of anything about him at all. Swift, you see, isn’t much for politics. She hasn’t joined other entertainers in denouncing Trump with sufficient enthusiasm. And so that’s gotten her in trouble.

Her critic in The Guardian writes that “[Swift’s] silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the ‘alt-right.’”

This is just the latest in a drumbeat of demands that the 27-year-old singer take a side in this current political scrum. Some have gone much further, suggesting that she’s a secret admirer not only of President Trump, but of the less savory among his supporters. Reports surfaced last year that Neo-Nazis and other racist groups have adopted the tall, blonde pop artist as an unofficial mascot. Some even called her an “Aryan goddess,” and claim that she has secret Nazi sympathies—a charge she has flatly denied.

Still, with no college education and no political experience, this young woman is expected—purely because of her fame—to tell her millions of fans not only how to vote, but which side of the political aisle are the good guys and which are the bad.

Swift, for her part, has consistently refused. “I chose to do music,” she’s said before. Last year before the election, Swift clarified, “I don’t talk about politics because it might influence other people. And I don’t think that I know enough yet in life to be telling other people who to vote for.”

Well, good for her!

But the burning question through all of this is why on earth we should care about Taylor Swift’s political views! It’s ridiculous that so many people are obsessed with getting celebrities to take sides on candidates and policies. But we’ve got to move beyond this.

First, celebrities aren’t specially endowed with insights into good government. They have the right to express their views like everyone else. But the idea that somehow what they say matters more—well that just proves Neil Postman was right, we are amused to death.

So our celebrities have become our experts and our heroes. That’s a bad idea.

Also this unrealistic expectation of celebrities reveals our culture’s terrible spiritual thirst. Particularly its lack of religious and moral authority. Celebrities are, for too many, the closest things we have to gods.  They are idols, pure and simple.

But there’s still another, and yet more practical reason why setting our political and social compasses by the opinions of entertainers is a bad idea: It poisons entertainment itself. There must be a space that exists outside of politics if our culture is to remain sane—a place where we can set aside our debates and just live together as human beings.

I’m no fan of most pop music, but we do need cultural places where we can live together civilly in our society that are not dominated by political rancor. If everything becomes just another place for a party power struggle, we’ll stop seeing each other first as friends, neighbors and fellow citizens, and only look at one another instead as members of opposing armies.

If we can’t figure out a better source for political insights than Taylor Swift or the other celebrities that we already pay too much attention to, we’re in trouble, trouble, trouble. See what I did there?!

 

Who Cares How Taylor Swift Votes?: Our Silly Obsession with Pop Stars’ Politics

As John has pointed out, our culture’s obsession with celebrities betrays a spiritual hunger that only Christ can quench. Why not talk about that, winsomely, in one of your conversations with family, friends, or neighbors?

 

 

Resources

The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It

  • Os Guinness | HarperOne Publishers | January 2008
Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype & Spin

  • Os Guinness | Baker Books | February 2002
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

  • Neil Postman | Penguin Books Publisher | December 2005