The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case: Why It Matters

Close-up of figurine couple on wedding cake

Last week the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In this case, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding celebration. Mr. Phillips gladly serves same-sex customers but could not in good conscience create a cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding.

When Phillips declined to make the cake, the couple filed a sexual orientation discrimination claim with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The same-sex couple prevailed in this claim. Since then, courts have upheld the commission’s ruling.

Through the years, Mr. Phillips also declined to make cakes for other events including cakes with messages related to witchcraft, adult-themed parties, anti-American themes, divorce celebrations, and more.

To comply with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Phillips no longer makes wedding cakes. Of course, wedding cakes were a significant source of revenue, so his business has suffered greatly.

The Supreme Court will announce their decision in June. This case has obvious implications for others who provide wedding services such as florists and photographers, but the results will inevitably have implications for religious liberty far beyond the wedding industry.

Please pray for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of religious freedom, allowing space in the public square for Christians to live out their values.

For more on this case, click here.

A Devastating Celebration of Death: Planned Parenthood Turns 100

White crosses - anti abortion protest

On Sunday, October 16, Planned Parenthood celebrated its centennial anniversary. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading abortion provider, performing over 320,000 abortions in 2014.[1] Planned Parenthood claims “to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services.”[2] In reality, the intentional killing of so many little ones can hardly be called “health care.”

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, nearly 60 million abortions have been legally performed in the United States.[3] Stop. Think about that number, nearly 60 million lives. From a biblical perspective, every one of those numbers represents a person, a person with a soul who has been created in God’s very image.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform wholeheartedly supports abortion. In fact, the party has added language that calls for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents direct federal funding of abortion in most cases.[4] In other words, the Democratic Party seeks to force American taxpayers to fund abortion directly. In an interview, CBS’s John Dickerson asked Secretary Clinton if she supported “a federal limit on abortion at any stage of pregnancy.”[5] Secretary Clinton answered that she did not favor the federal limitation of abortion at any stage of pregnancy. She replied, “… this gets back to whether you respect a woman’s right to choose or not.”[6] Obviously, this means that Secretary Clinton supports killing a baby all the way to moments before the baby’s birth.

As Planned Parenthood celebrates 100 years of operation and millions of deaths, as believers we should grieve. Is our country not unlike the peoples surrounding the nation of Israel in the Old Testament who sacrificed babies in pagan worship? We may be much more sophisticated in our killing, but our country can hardly be called less barbaric. Proverbs 14:34 reminds us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Let’s pray for our country. Pray for repentance and change. Pray for revival in our churches and a great awakening in our nation. Millions of more lives are at stake.

In closing, the words of one pastor echo loudly, “Oh the irony of Planned Parenthood celebrating a birthday…”[7]

[1] David Crary, “Planned Parenthood Celebrates Centennial as Its Foes Bristle,” Associated Press, October 15, 2016, accessed October 18, 2016, http://www.apnewsarchive.com/2016/Planned-Parenthood-s-100th-anniversary-celebrations-this-weekend-come-with-a-sense-of-relief/id-3d213c2cf9f7408e84064d5aa6dd400a.

[2] “Mission,” Planned Parenthood, accessed October 18, 2016, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/mission.

[3] Steven Ertelt, “58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973,” LifeNews.com, January 14, 2016, accessed October 18, 2016, http://www.lifenews.com/2016/01/14/58586256-abortions-in-america-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973/.

[4] Bradford Richardson, “Democrats’ Platform at Convention Backs Abortion Funds,” The Washington Times, July 11, 2016, accessed October 18, 2016, http://go.shr.lc/2dLJtLN.

 [5] “Face the Nation Transcripts September 20: Clinton and Paul,” CBS News, September 20, 2015, accessed October 18, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/face-the-nation-transcripts-september-20-clinton-and-paul/.

 [6] “Face the Nation Transcripts September 20,” CBS News, September 20, 2015.

[7] J. R. Vassar, Twitter post, October 17, 2016 (6:46 a.m.), accessed October 18, 2016, https://twitter.com/jrvassar.

Revenge: A Closer Look

REVENGE

In a recent misunderstanding, suppose a friend insults you and makes an accusation against you that clearly isn’t true. In fact, a moment later he posts a sly remark on Facebook that is undeniably targeted at you. How do you respond? Certainly, your sinful nature urges you to lash out and let him know how you feel, to retaliate. As a believer, what is God’s call in this situation?

As we continue our study through the Sermon on the Mount, we saw what Jesus had to say about retaliation (Matthew 5:38-41). Jesus teaches that believers should not retaliate when wronged but should demonstrate love and self-sacrifice. How about you? How do you respond when someone wrongs you? Do you react in kind, trying to ensure that person gets what you feel is deserved? Or do you lay down your own rights for the sake of the gospel and seek that person’s good

Of course, these verses do not reject civil authority (Romans 13:1-4). If a person breaks into your car, it is not wrong to report that to the police. In fact, reporting the crime may be more loving than not reporting it since being held accountable for sin brings opportunity for repentance and change.

As believers, we must remember that our journey is marked by the way of the cross. Our Savior modeled a life of self-sacrifice, not cruel retaliation, in the face of ongoing attack. We must live this same kind of sacrificial life, even when wronged. When we are mistreated, we leave vengeance in God’s hands (Romans 12:17-19).

Of course, we aren’t able to live this kind of self-sacrificial life in our own strength. We are helped as we meditate on the gospel, remembering what Christ has done for us in the midst of our sin and rebellion, and as we seek to walk in the power of the Spirit (1 Peter 2:21-25, Ephesians 5:18). Let’s pray for each other and help each other live out this kind of Christlike self-sacrifice even when wronged.

Another Heartbreaking, Death-Imposing Decision from SCOTUS

Law and Order Pillars in the Supreme Court

On Monday in a 5-3 decision, the US Supreme Court struck down parts of Texas House Bill 2, the abortion law that required abortion clinics to meet similar standards as outpatient surgery centers and that required abortionists to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.[1] This bill sought to prevent the kinds of horrors that were uncovered in the Kermit Gosnell abortion clinic; Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for killing infants born alive and for involuntary manslaughter for the death of a forty-one year old woman.[2]

In line with the dreadful precedent of the Roe v. Wade decision, the court ruled that the bill placed an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion. In 1973, the Supreme Court invented a constitutional right to abortion. Undoubtedly, this week’s court decision strengthens this so-called constitutional right, making restrictions against abortion more difficult to enact.

In truth, the fury for abortion in our day is incredibly ironic. Our society is driven to advance the cause of people deemed vulnerable or oppressed. But what group of people is more vulnerable than these little ones who have absolutely no voice? Moreover, at what point will the logic of abortion lead to the legal killing of infants already born? Sounds crazy, but Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton, openly advances killing infants who are born with some disability if parents so desire.[3] Moreover, Singer has said that he doesn’t want his health insurance to increase to pay for treatment for infants who will have “zero quality of life.”[4]

In abortion, not only does a little one lose a life, but also would-be parents face a lifetime of regret. What about the countless women and men who live with tremendous guilt over a past abortion?

There is a better way. God’s Word reminds us that every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Thus, every life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death has value (Psalm 139:13-15). In today’s secular environment, little ones aren’t the only ones at risk. Laws permitting euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are gaining momentum. At some point, this movement will almost certainly lead not only to a right to die but also ultimately to a duty to die. Undoubtedly, elderly and disabled people will be encouraged to “do the right thing” or policy makers will decide that treatment must be delayed or withheld in light of limited resources.

When we decide that we know better than God, the consequences are always devastating. It is estimated that over 58 million lives have been legally killed in America since 1973.[5] What kind of nation tolerates this kind of killing? Only a people who have forgotten God and who have brazenly rejected His Word. God help us.

 

[1] Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions,” The New York Times (June 27, 2016), accessed June 28, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/us/supreme-court-texas-abortion.html.

[2] Sarah Torre, “How Gosnell’s Abortion ‘House of Horrors’ Led to this Week’s Suprememe Court Case,” The Daily Signal (March 1, 2016), accessed June 28, 2016, http://dailysignal.com/2016/03/01/how-gosnells-abortion-house-of-horrors-led-to-this-weeks-supreme-court-case/.

[3] “Peter Singer FAQ,” Princeton University, accessed June 28, 2016, https://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/faq.html.

[4] Jessica Chasmar, “Princeton Bioethics Professor Faces Calls for Resignation over Infanticide Support, The Washington Times (June 16, 2015), accessed June 28, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/16/peter-singer-princeton-bioethics-professor-faces-c/.

[5] Steve Ertelt, “58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade in 1973,” LifeNews.com (January 14, 2016), accessed June 28, 2016, http://www.lifenews.com/2016/01/14/58586256-abortions-in-america-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973/#.

A Closer Look at the Transgender Movement

Transgender Sign

Introduction
Christians who are committed to a biblical worldview must think carefully about transgender issues as well as how to compassionately minister to those who are transgender. We must remain faithful to a biblical anthropology or a biblical understanding of the nature of humanity.

From a biblical perspective, every person is made in the image of God and is worthy of respect and love. God created people with gender, male and female. In this way, gender is a part of God’s good creation and is meant for human flourishing. Further, every person is broken by sin and in need of the Gospel. The following resources will help you explore these issues and help you better minister to and care for others with Christ’s love.

The Inconsistency of Transgender Logic
The following video illustrates how dramatically our culture’s view of reality has shifted and reveals inconsistency in the logic that drives transgender thinking.

Understanding Transgenderism
This article by Joe Carter gives some basic facts to help you as you think through transgenderism. Of note in this article Carter differentiates between transgender and intersex, “Transgenderism differs from intersex, a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Intersex is a physical condition while transgender is a psychological condition.” Read more.

Glossary of Terms
In this article, Carter defines various terms related to the transgender movement. Carter says, “I’ve provided definitions for 31 terms commonly used by the gender identity movement. This list is not exhaustive (Facebook allows you to choose from more than 70 gender options) but it should help you better understand the linguistic radicalness of the gender identity revolution.” Read more.

The Faulty Logic of the Transgender Movement
In this article, Kevin DeYoung exposes how the logic of the transgender movement is harmful and is unloving. He considers how a school counselor might respond to an underweight teenage girl who sees herself as overweight. From the article, “As Rebecca walks out the door, your first reaction is to feel a deep sense of satisfaction. She left your office feeling better than when she came. That’s what you like to see. It’s always gratifying to have helped a hurting student. And yet, there’s another thought you can’t quite shake. When you think about her rail thin body, and how desperately she needs food, and how everything must change to conform to her reality, you can’t help but wonder: was this really love?” Read more.

Responding to the President’s Edict Regarding Transgender in the Public Schools
In this article, Andrew Walker considers how to respond to the president’s edict requiring public schools and universities to allow biological boys who identify as girls to use girls’ restrooms and locker room facilities and vice versa. Of note, “Above all, let us remember that this debate isn’t about transgender men or women using the restroom of their choice. Instead, the restroom wars are merely a proxy debate for a larger conflict about what it means to be male and female. As Christians, we’re told God created us in His image. God made men and women as equal, but distinct. These distinctions are beautiful, good and a testament to God’s wisdom in creation. Rewriting laws to conform to the spirit of the age cannot rewrite the laws of nature and nature’s God (Psalm 24:1).” Read more.

Harmful Effects of Transgender Ideology on Children
The American College of Pediatrics, a socially conservative pediatric association, argues that transgender ideology is harmful to children. From the article, “When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.” Read more.

Our Culture’s Hypocrisy Regarding Transgenderism
In the article Kell and Henderson, argue that our culture’s insistence on choosing gender identity does not match what our culture says about a host of other issues. Of particular note in this article, “Is it that we just don’t want someone, anyone, telling us how to live if it goes against what we desire? Do we just want to do what is right in our own eyes? I’m not sure how familiar you are with history, but cultures where everyone did what was right in their own eyes always ended in a pile of rubble. Can we just admit that our desire to do what we want might be driving this brave new world agenda? And is it possible that it is driving it off a cliff?” Read more.

Troubling Questions Regarding Transgenderism
In this article, Trevin Wax considers seven questions that are troubling as one thinks through the transgender movement. Of note, “If the disjunction a transgender person feels between their gender and their body is psychological, why should we recommend invasive surgical procedures to make the body more closely match the mind instead of seeking treatment that might help move the mind closer to the sex they were assigned at birth?” Read more.

Ministering to Your Transgender Neighbor
Denny Burk suggests ten ways to minister to our transgender neighbors. Burk says, “Understand that your transgender neighbor often feels distress over the conflict between their biological sex and their perceived gender identity. There can be a real sense of alienation that they feel from their own body. For some, the experience is quite agonizing. How would you feel if you had to walk a mile in their shoes? We all experience some measure of brokenness due to the fallenness of creation. So we too know what it means to groan (Rom. 8:23). Of all people, that ought to summon forth a compassionate response to our transgender neighbors.” Read more.

How the Gospel Speaks to a Person with Gender Confusion 
In this three part article, Bob Thune explains how he uses the gospel to minister to a person struggling with gender confusion. Thune says, “… you have to get him to delight in Jesus more than money or love or ambition or control or self-interest. The only way to do that is to constantly remind him of his deep brokenness and sinfulness – the “bad news” of the gospel – so that he despairs of his own efforts, and then to constantly rejoice in the powerful grace of God through the cross – the “good news” of the gospel – so that he deeply feels and believes God’s radical love for him.” Read more.

Ministering to a Transgender Person Who Wants to Follow Christ 
In this article, Russell Moore considers how a church might minister to a man who had identified as a woman and who had undergone surgery and hormone treatment to transition to a woman.  Of note, “The first issue is the gospel. Christ Jesus came to save sinners. He offered up his life as a sacrifice, and his bloody cross and empty tomb are enough to reconcile any broken person, including this one, to God. We should abandon any sense of revulsion because Joan’s situation is “weird” or “perverted.” All sin is weird and perverted. The fact any of it (especially our own) seems “normal” to us is part of why we need the gospel.” Read more.