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Entertainment

Reading films: are Christians as discerning as they used to be?

"Moving pictures" have only the briefest of histories, spreading throughout North America early in the twentieth century. The first movie theatres were converted stores with hard wooden benches and a bedsheet for a screen, and they came to be known as "nickelodeons" because the admission price was five cents. Films were short – in 1906 the average length was five to ten minutes. In 1911 the earliest cinema music was played on tinkling pianos. During the silent film era, slapstick comedy – which depends on broad physical actions and pantomime for its effect rather than dialogue – was widely prevalent. With the advent of the "talkies" in the 1930s, screwball comedy became widely popular. It was laced with hyper action, was highly verbal, and noted for its wisecracks. In 1939 the first drive-in theatre was opened on a ten-acre site in Camden, New Jersey. A brief history of the Church and movies  When movies first because a form of widespread public entertainment, Christians were frequently warned against movie-going. Many "fundamentalist" pastors forcefully exhorted, "When the Lord suddenly returns, would you want to meet Him in a theatre watching a worldly movie?" In Reformed Churches too, Christians were also exhorted not to attend movie theatres. 1. The Christian Reformed Church (CRC) As early as 1908 the editor of the CRC denominational magazine, The Banner, complained:

"Theatre going supports a class of people that frequently caters to the lowest taste of depraved humanity, actors and actresses and their employers."

A general objection was that the movie industry as a whole tended to be "of the world," and thus against Christian values and the church… and ultimately against God's Kingdom. The CRC 1928 Report of the Committee on Worldly Amusements paid close attention to the question of worldliness in relation to the movies. The Report stopped short of calling the whole movie industry anti-Christian, but still issued severe warnings against attending movies. CRC Synod 1928 judged:

"We do not hesitate to say that those who make a practice of attending the theatre and who therefore cannot avoid witnessing lewdness which it exhibits or suggests are transgressors of the seventh commandment."

In 1964 the CRC took another serious look at the movies. The CRC realized that its official stance and the practice of its members were at great variance, producing a "denominational schizophrenia and/or hypocrisy." In 1966 a major report The Film Arts and the Church was released. It differed substantially from the earlier studies. Film, it said, should be regarded as a legitimate means of cultural expression, so the medium of film must be claimed, and restored by Christians. The Report was idealistic in hoping that members of the CRC would become discriminating and educated moviegoers, reflecting on and discussing films as part of their cultural milieu. The review of movies in The Banner began in 1975, but faced strong opposition. But in time the Reformed doctrine of the antithesis  (we should not be just like the world) became muted in the choice of movies made by CRC members. There was little difference in what they watched, and what the world watched. 2. The Protestant Reformed Church (PRC) The PRC was fervent in its denouncement of movies and movie attendance. The PRC considers all acting as evil, as is the watching of acting on stage, in theatres, on television, or on video. PRC minister Dale Kuiper said, "Certainly the content of almost 100 per cent of dramatic productions (movies, television programs, plays, skits, operas) place these things out of bounds for the Christian." But already in 1967 a writer noted that PRC practice did not match PRC principle: "When I was formerly an active pastor in a congregation, it was always a source of sad disappointment to me that so few of our young people could testify, when asked at confession of faith, that they had not indulged in the corruptions of the movie." And since 1969 and continuing till today, various pastors and professors have lamented that large numbers of PRC members watch movies, either in theatres, or more often on television. 3. Evangelicals Evangelicals have a history of making films as a way of teaching Christian values. The Billy Graham organization Worldwide Pictures made modest independent films to evangelize youth: The Restless Ones (1965), about teenage pregnancy; A Thief in the Night (1972), an end-times thriller; and the Nicky Cruz biopic, The Cross and the Switchblade (1970). A reporter dubbed them "religious tracts first, entertainment second." More recently, evangelicals made new producing sci-fi films about the apocalypse, which critics claim are embarrassingly poor-quality – artistically flawed – productions marketed in the name of evangelism. As examples, they refer to the three profitable Left Behind Movies (2000, 2002, 2005). There has also been a trend to create "family-friendly" movies. However, these movies tend to depict a world where all issues are plain and simple. Evildoers are destroyed, the virtuous rewarded, and often times the “good” characters have within themselves everything they need to secure their destiny. Clearly, then, this is not the real world. We've also seen, among evangelicals, a defense of less than family-friendly films. Already back in 1998, the Dallas Morning News ran a story about the growing number of Christians who advocate going to even R-rated movies. The reason? Evangelical filmmaker Dallas Jenkins said, “Non-Christians are just as capable of producing God-honoring and spiritually uplifting products as Christians are, and I've been as equally offended by a Christian's product as I've been moved by something from a non-Christian." Perspectives So how should Christians think about films? How can we approach them with discernment? It begins with recognizing that a film is more than a form of entertainment: it propagates a worldview. Films often: exalt self-interest as the supreme value glorify violent resolutions to problems promote the idea that finding the perfect mate is one's primary vocation and highest destiny Films also so often promote a view of romantic love as being passionate and irresistible, able to conquer anything, including barriers of social class, age, race and ethnicity, and personality conflicts. But the love it portrays is usually another euphemism for lust. In Images of Man: a critique of the contemporary cinema Donald J. Drew observes that in contemporary films the context makes it clear that love equals sex plus nothing. An underlying assumption in mainstream Hollywood films is that the goal in life is to become rich. And acquiring things is even supposed to make you a better person! But the values of consumerism, self-indulgence and immediate gratification can harm individuals, families, and communities.  Titanic (1997) Most films depict a world in which God is absent or non-existent. For example, there is nothing in the film Titanic to suggest that God is even interested in the fate of those on board the sinking ship. Whether uncaring or impotent, God is irrelevant in the world of this film. In his book Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture, William D. Romanowski comments:

"Whatever outward appearances of belief dot the landscape of Titanic, they have little bearing on the faith of the main characters, especially when compared to the film's glorification of the human will and spirit."

The principal character Rose Bukater is engaged to Cal Hockley, who is concerned only with the approval of his social set. He equates wealth and social status with worth and character. Aware of the limited lifeboat capacity, Rose says, "Half the people on the ship are going to die." The snobbish Cal responds, “Not the better half.” These attitudes run against the grain of American values associated with freedom and equality. And because he is the obvious bad guy, the director has so framed things that whoever stands against Cal will be understood, by the audience, to be the good guy. And so we see in opposition to Cal, the free-spirited artist Jack who is the ultimate expression of pure freedom. His character traits, talent, and good looks easily identify him as the hero. And so the scene is set that when Rose and Jack have an illicit sexual encounter, the audience is encouraged to cheer this and want this, because it is for Rose a declaration of independence from her fiancé and her mother's control over her. The now famous sex scene sums up many of the film's themes: Forbidden love, class differences, and individual freedom. The Passion of the Christ (2004) There was, not so long ago, a film in which God was included. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ was highly recommended by evangelicals for its realistic portrayal of Christ's suffering and death. But how true to the Gospels is the film? Why did the director have Jesus stand up to invite more scourging by the Roman soldiers? Was the suffering Jesus endured primarily physical, as this film portrays? Is the film historically accurate or is it a reflection of Gibson's theology? Co-screenwriter Mel Gibson said that he relied not only on the New Testament but also on the writings of two nuns, Mary of Agreda, a seventeenth-century aristocrat, and Anne Catherine Emmerich, an early nineteenth-century stigmatic. The violence in the film became a matter of much debate when the film was released. On the one hand, the head of an evangelical youth ministry said, "This isn't violence for violence's sake. This is what really happened, what it would have been like to have been there in person to see Jesus crucified." On the other hand, many critics cringed at the level of violence in the movie. Romanowski comments, "In my estimation, it is difficult to provide dramatic justification for some of the violence in the film." Star Wars (1977) While the inclusion of God in a film is a rarity, the inclusion of spirituality is not. One of the most iconic and controversial film series has been Star Wars. In 1977 it hit the big screens and it was an immediate success. Legions of fans formed an eerie cult-like devotion and the box-office receipts were astronomical. It originated a new genre – the techno-splashy sci-fi soap opera. The film definitely has a semi-religious theme. In From Plato to NATO David Gress writes that the Star Wars film saga broadcast a popular mythology of heroism, growth, light, and dark sides, wise old men and evil tempters, all concocted by the California filmmaker George Lucas. Much of the inspiration came from the teaching of Joseph Campbell, who claimed there is truth in all mythology. Campbell wrote in 1955 that "clearly Christianity is opposed fundamentally and intrinsically to everything I am working and living for." Meanwhile, John C. McDowell, Lecturer in Systematic Theology at New College, University of Edinburgh finds something redemptive in Star Wars. He analyses the "classic trilogy" Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and the Return of the Jedi in his book The Gospel according to Star Wars: Faith, Hope, and the Force. He calls these films a "pop-culture phenomenon" of unprecedented stature and much more than mere entertainment. He suggests that the films carry even "more influence among young adults than the traditional religious myths of our culture." He argues that the films possess rich resources to change and transform us as moral subjects by helping us in some measure to encounter the deep mystery of what it means to be truly human. He even claims that Star Wars is "a parabolic resource that reveals something of the shape of a Christian discipleship lived under the shadow of the cross." He notes that the theology of the original trilogy is difficult to pin down – though the interconnectedness of all of life does seem to be the fruit of the Force in some way and this is therefore exalted as the movies' "good" or "god." McDowell also discovered pacifist themes in the films – according to him, Star Wars at its best possesses radical potential to witness to a set of nonviolent values. Critical assessment Should we warn Christians about the kind of movies they are watching, whether in a theatre on TV? Some say, "They are only movies. They won't influence us." I wonder whether the lack of critical thinking by evangelicals is the result of the tendency to privatize faith, confining religious beliefs to personal morality, family, and the local congregation, all the while conducting their affairs in business, politics, education, and social life, and the arts much like everyone else. Aren't even many Christians overlooking the persistence of evil in human history? We live in a fallen world that is at once hostile to God and also in search for God. Works of art can glorify God – including film art – but they can also be instrumental in leading people away from Him. Ever since the fall, human beings have been in revolt against God, turning their gifts against the Giver. Art, along with nearly every human faculty, has been tainted by the fall. Indeed, one of the first phases of the disintegration brought by sin was the usurpation of art for the purpose of idolatry (Rom. 1:23). Most people believe they are personally immune to what they see on the film screen or on TV. How do we grow in our faith? Not by watching and observing a steady diet of movies. We must restore the primacy and power of the Word of God. God gave us a book – the Bible – and not a movie. We should be critical in our thinking, and apply our Biblical worldview. Scripture calls us to "test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thess. 5:1-22).

Drama, Movie Reviews, Watch for free

2081: Everyone will finally be equal

Drama 2009 / 25 minutes RATING: 8/10 “The year is 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law you see; they were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else…" In 2081 a “golden age of equality” has been ushered in by the “Handicapper General” whose job is to assess everyone’s abilities and, if they have any advantages, to then assigns them “handicaps” to take them away. In the film’s opening scene we meet George who, being a little stronger than most, is sunk down in his easy chair by the heavy weights he’s been assigned to sap his strength. He’s also outfitted with earphones that hit him with piercing sounds to make it impossible for him to use his higher than average IQ. Meanwhile, his wife Hazel sits comfortably on the couch, knitting. She hasn't been outfitted with any handicaps because she's been deemed to have no advantages. So they are equal. But is it an equality we want to have? Hazel and George are now just as fast, just as strong, and just as able to do math as one another. But this is an equality of the lowest common denominator. To bring this equality George's gifts had to be diminished until he was at Hazel's level. And for the government to bring about this type of equality, it had to treat them quite differently: Hazel is free, while George is in chains. Surely this isn't what we mean by equality, is it? There must be some other, better sort? While the film doesn't really direct us to the equality that is worth pursuing, the Bible does. In passages like Leviticus 19:15, Ex. 23:3, 1 Timothy 5:21, and James 2:8-9 we're pointed to a type of equality that involve treating all alike, not favoring the less advantaged over the rich, or the rich over the poor. Instead of endorsing 2081's equality of outcomes, God tells us to extend an equality of treatment. 2081 is so short I don't want to give any more of the plot away. But if you're looking for a great conversation starter, this is a fantastic film to watch and discuss, though be sure to do so with a Bible in hand. You can watch the trailer below, and to watch 2081 for free, follow this link (you do need to sign up to their email list, but they won't spam you, and you can always unsubscribe). [SPOILER ALERT: the questions below do give away some more of the story.] Questions to consider In 2081 equality is said to have been achieved. But has it really? Are Hazel and George and Harrison equal to the Handicapper General? Can you think of any historical examples where governments brought a form of equality to the masses, that they didn't want to share in themselves? Does the Bible support an equality of outcomes or an equality of treatment (aka. an equality of opportunity)? See Leviticus 19:15, Ex. 23:3, 1 Timothy 5:21, and James 2:8-9. How is Hazel’s situation improved by George being handicapped? Why would she hate it if he removed his handicaps? How does Ex. 20:17 apply here? Is income inequality (2 Chronicles 1:12; Ex. 20:17) something that God calls on Christians to fight? Is poverty (Prov. 19:17)? What was Harrison Bergeron hoping to accomplish? If no one remembers his speech then did he die for anything? If we take an unsuccessful stand for what is right why could that still be worth doing? In what way is our measure of success different than that of the world's? In 2081 the government controls every aspect of people's lives. Why do governments grow? Who is it, that's asking them to do more? What are the dangers of governments that get too big? (1 Samuel 8:10-22)

Dating, Parenting

Marriable Men

Two qualities dads should look for in boys who want to date our daughters

*****

Here's a topic that's best to get to too early rather than too late - what sort of men should our daughters marry? Dads are going to have a lot of input in this decision, one way or another. If we actively try to influence our daughters – by example, through conversation, and by requiring interested young men to talk to us first – we'll point them to a certain sort of man. And if we don't talk about what makes a man marriable, if we aren't a good example of a godly man and good husband, and if we have no role in our daughter's dating life, then we'll point them to another sort of man. What kind of man do we want for our daughters? The answer is simple when we keep the description broad: a man who loves the Lord, and will be a good leader to his wife and children, who’s hardworking, and also active in his church. But what does this type of man look like as a boy? If our daughters are dating and getting married young, they'll unavoidably have a "work in progress." That's a description that fits all of us – sanctification is a lifelong process – but which is even more true for a boy/man in his late teens who hasn't yet shouldered the responsibilities of providing for himself, let alone a family. It's hard, at this point, to take the measure of the man he will become. How do we evaluate potential suitors when there isn't a lot of track record to look back on? We need to find out how they react to light and to leadership. 1. Light

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” – John 3:19-21

Does a young man love the light? This is a characteristic that is easy for us dads to check up on. It's as simple as asking his parents if they know where he is on Friday and Saturday nights. Does he think it's no big deal to tell his parents where he will be? Or does he want to keep what he's up to a mystery? Does he have a problem with having his parents around when friends come over? Or has he introduced all his friends to them? When he goes out to other friends' houses does his group pick spots where parents are home? Or do they want their privacy? Many young men in our congregations are planning or attending events that take place late at night and far away from parental, or any other type of, supervision. They may not have a specific intent to get drunk or do other foolishness, but by fleeing from the light they've created the opportunity. A teen who tells his parents that it is none of their business where he is going is a boy who loves the dark. Another question to ask: does he have monitoring software on his computer – Covenant Eyes, for example – and would he be willing to show his smartphone to you? Would he be happy to let you know where he's been on the Internet? This would be a young man who is unafraid of, and loves, the Light. 2. Leaders

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her... – Ephesians 5:25

There's a reason that young women are attracted to "bad boys." When the other young men they know are doing nothing all that bad and nothing at all remarkable, then an arrogant kid who doesn't care what anyone thinks can look like leadership material. He, at least, is not lukewarm. But this is the last man we would want for our daughters. His "leadership" recognizes no authority but his own. In contrast, God tells us that as heads to our wives we are called to serve, imitating Christ. Godly men don't dominate their wives; they die for them. So how can dads spot this sort of servant leadership in young men? It shows itself in big ways and little. In a church service, does he hold the songbook for his sister? Or does he have his hands in his pockets while his sister holds the book for him? Does he sing? Or is he too cool (too lukewarm) to praise God with enthusiasm? How does he treat his mom? If he treats her with respect – if he readily submits to authority – that is a good sign that he can be entrusted with authority. If he treats his mother shamefully, yelling at her, and ignoring what she asks, every young lady should beware! If he's a terror to someone placed over him, we don't need to guess how he will treat those under his authority. Another question to consider: did he take the servant-leader role in the relationship right from the beginning? In any boy-girl dynamic, someone has to be the first to say "I like you" and with that comes the very real risk of being the only one to say it. When that happens, it stings. So was this boy willing to stick his neck out for your daughter? Was he willing to risk looking the fool so she wouldn't have to? Or did he wait for her to take the lead and ask him out? How does he take correction? Any boy who dates our daughter is going to be, at best, a godly man partly formed. While we are all works in progress, not all of us recognize this – arrogant young men think themselves beyond the need of correction. If a potential suitor bristles at any suggestion from his elders, or if he's unwilling to apologize when he's wrong, then he is definitely the wrong sort for our daughters. We, instead, want the young man who, as we read in Proverbs 15:32, "heeds correction [and] gains understanding." Conclusion Young men hoping to get married are aspiring to a leadership role. But while marriage makes a man a leader, it won't magically make him a good one. Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned, and love of the Light something we can grow in. So fathers shouldn't be expecting perfection. But we also shouldn't settle for lukewarm. It's one thing for a young man to not yet be the leader he could be, and something else entirely for him to not be aspiring to this role or preparing for it. It's one thing for a young man to not be seeking the Light as consistently or vigorously as he should, and another for him to be fleeing from it. Fathers, we want our daughters to marry young men who love the Lord and want to honor Him in their roles as husband, father, and elder. Let's be sure, then, that we teach them to look for true leaders who love the light.

A French version of this article can be found by clicking here.

News

How should Christians celebrate the good Donald Trump has done?

Within the first two weeks of being inaugurated, President Donald Trump has: Signed off on the “Mexico City Policy” which bans federal funds from going to any groups that facilitate abortions overseas. Questioned the mainstream media as to why they don’t cover the annual, and massive, March for Life, which then embarrassed them into covering it this year Sent his Vice President to speak at the March for Life, who also, the night before, hosted a reception for 40 pro-lifers leaders in the White House. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, also spoke at the March where she declared the right to life “is a right, it is not a privilege, it’s not a choice. It is God-given.” Tweeted The #MarchForLife is so important. To all of you marching --- you have my full support! Nominated a Supreme Court justice that seems truly conservative (the judge, Neils Gorsuch, co-authored a book on euthanasia in which he wrote “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”) So what are Christians to make of the new President of the United States? This is night and day from what we could have expected with a President Hilary Clinton! And yet this is the same man who has show himself to be: Petty – a favorite pastime is coming up with silly insulting names for his opponents, like “Lyin Ted” and “Little Marco” Vulgar – with appearances in Playboy, and on the Howard Stern show, and a recording of him talking about sexually assaulting women A proud adulterer – in his autobiography he brags about the married women he has bedded So can we celebrate the good he does? Or is that, in the eyes of the world, going to too closely align us with him, and mar our Christian witness when he ends up doing something petty, vulgar, or faithless? To know how to act we need to recognize Trump for who he is. As Pastor Douglas Wilson has noted, the best biblical comparison is Jehu (2 Kings 9-10) who was used by God to punish Jezebel and Ahab’s house:

[Jehu] was an instrument in the hand of God…At the same time, all was not entirely well. “But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin – that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and Dan (2 Kings 10:29).”

In the same way, Donald Trump, in these actions for the unborn, has most certainly been an instrument of the Lord. But that doesn’t mean he is a follower. It doesn’t mean we have to go all in for him. Pastor Wilson writes:

Political factions want everything to be a simple binary choice on the human level. You either are all in for Jezebel or all in for Jehu. What Scripture invites us to is qualified support, or perhaps qualified disapproval. So and so was a good king, but did not remove the high places. Jehu removed much that needed to be removed, but God brought judgment on him later because he did not do all that needed to be done. Our foundational allegiance is to God and His ways, and is not to be wholly given over to any man.

There has been a lot to celebrate in the opening two weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, so celebrate we should. But rather than focus on the man, let’s focus on what God has done through this man. When we give God the glory, no one will be confused about where our loyalties lie.


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Apologetics 101, News

Abortionist: “God performs way more abortions than I do…”

In a Dec. 29 tweet abortionist Leah Torres went viral by claiming: “God performs way more abortions than I do…” While pro-lifers were quick to respond, most failed to offer an effective reply. When we debate the world there can be a temptation to assume anything they say must not be true. That's what happened here, with many a Christian afraid to concede there was something to Torres’ claim, at least as far as it went. And because this uncomfortable truth was avoided, the rebuttals missed their target. The newsgroup LifeNews.com tweeted this reply: “But you believe in evolution. So it’s evolution’s fault, not God’s.” Maybe Torres does believe in unguided evolution, but the largely Catholic LifeNews presumably doesn’t. So why not offer a Catholic or Christian response, instead of this evasion? Faithwire.com thought another reply, a tweet by ToniMZ81, was worth sharing, but it also sidestepped the real issue. She wrote: “…most miscarriages are because of an issue with the pregnancy/ non viability & most abortions are viable pregnancies.” What this forgets is Who controls viability. There is a difference between an abortion and a miscarriage, but this tweet didn’t get to the heart of it. The difference is not that Torres takes life and God does not. The difference is that God is the Author of life and Torres is not. As the Source of life He has a right to take what He has given. Torres does not. This point was made by a few pro-lifers. Greg Schultz tweeted: There’s a difference… You Are Not God Taken to its logical end, Torres' argument justifies every sort of murder at any age because, after all, God has killed more people of that age, than any of us have. To highlight the incredible wickedness of this logic, Anthony Abides, in the most memorable tweet of them all, put Torres' self-justification in Hitler's mouth: “God killed more Jews than I do.”...

Pro-life - Abortion

DIRECTION MATTERS: the difference between legal, decriminalized, and regulated abortion, & why we support gestational limits

It has been 30 years now since the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s last abortion law in their R. v. Morgentaler decision (1988). Soon after, the Mulroney government made an attempt to craft a new law. But Bill C-43 was a piece of legislation that would have protected only some pre-born children. Those involved in Canada’s pro-life movement during the early 1990s were divided on whether or not an imperfect law was something they could support. Today this issue is still being debated. On the one side there are those who argue we should not support legislative measures that protect some but not all pre-born children. On the other side we are arguing for advancing abortion legislation one step at a time. We wholeheartedly believe that Bible-believing Christians can, in good conscience, support partial restrictions on abortion, including gestational limits. IN DEFENSE OF DEBATE Trying to save the pre-born is a fight to which many Christians have devoted a significant part of their lives. It is an issue we are passionate about and heavily invested in. It is, consequently, very hard for us to discuss strategy in a dispassionate manner. But when we turn to the Bible we see there is good reason to try. Proverbs 18:17 tells us, “The first to present his case seems right, until a second comes and questions him.” Finding out who is right is often aided by hearing both sides. Proverbs 27:17 makes a similar point: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” We need to imitate the Bereans (Acts 17) who were willing to hear, but then went to the Scriptures to test what was being said to them. In what follows, we are going to make our case for the morality of advancing abortion legislation one step at a time. We know some will disagree, but we hope that we can interact, as fellow Christians, in a God-honoring manner, having patience with one another and showing love to each other, as we search for the truth on this matter. WHAT WAS UNCLEAR WITH BILL C-43 IS CLEAR TODAY It’s been 30 years since Canada’s abortion law was struck down and 27 years since its intended replacement, Bill C-43, was defeated in the Senate. Many pro-life organizations celebrated the bill’s defeat. It was a piece of legislation that, according to then justice minister Kim Campbell, abortionists would have “no need to fear.” She wrote: “The legislation is designed to protect a doctor from being convicted under the new law (and) protect nurses and other medical staff acting under the doctor’s direction.” While the bill did offer more restrictions on abortion than we presently have, when compared to the law the Supreme Court had struck down only three years before, it had far fewer protections for the pre-born. There was also some reason to hope that if this bill was defeated it could be replaced with a better one. Few would have expected that for the next three decades no such bill would be forthcoming. But here is the key point: the situation then was far murkier than it is today. Then it was unclear whether a better bill might be passed, and it was unclear whether this bill limited evil or expanded it. Compared to the completely lawless situation they then had, the bill offered some limitations. But compared to the previous abortion law from just three years before, this bill greatly expanded the evil that could be done. There is nothing murky about the situation we now find ourselves in. Today we have had 30 years of unfettered abortion, and 27 years of governmental cowardice – no prime minister has ever again tried to pass an abortion law. So if a bill is proposed today that offers any limitations on abortion, it would be clear what direction this is taking us: towards limiting evil, and away from its expansion. THE COUNTER-ARGUMENT But some pro-life groups are convinced that any law that saves only some is unjust, and can’t be supported. Their argument goes something like this: Since Canada has no abortion law, promoting a law that restricts only some abortions (for example, making abortions after 12 weeks illegal) would mean that we are legalizing and condoning all of the abortions that are not banned (e.g., those happening before 12 weeks). In a January 20, 2014 editorial, The Interim, a Canadian pro-life newspaper, put it this way: We...find politically motivated compromise that creates arbitrary demarcations to protect some human lives but not others to be abhorrent, adding the insult of age discrimination to the injury of death by abortion. Protecting pre-born life requires political action, not political compromise. So the question we have to answer is: if we promoted a law that would restrict abortion to 12 weeks’ gestation, would we be legalizing and/or condoning the abortions that are permitted? ON LEGAL AND ILLEGAL To answer that question properly, we have to understand what is actually meant by the terms legalizing, decriminalizing, and regulating. From there we will explain why we all should support regulating abortion. But by no means should we support abortion being legal, let alone condoned. Confused? It actually isn’t too complicated. Please take a few minutes to walk with us through a few points.  1. What is not illegal is legal In our legal system, unless something is illegal it is presumed to be legal. For example, walking your dog without a leash is presumed to be legal unless and until a bylaw is passed requiring a leash. We could not say, before the bylaw was passed, that walking your dog without a leash was not legal; it wasn’t illegal, and so it was legal. We also need to make a distinction between something being legal and something being legalized. The common use of the word “legal” can simply be interpreted as “allowed” or “permissible.” Similarly, the term “legalized” can mean the process of removing a prohibition against something that is currently not legal (i.e., the process of making something permissible). With abortion in Canada there are no laws that regulate the practice (although some doctors’ manuals might advise some limitations). So, there are no laws regulating which procedures can be used, how late in the pregnancy the procedure can be done, or what information should be shared with the patient. And there are no waiting periods, age restrictions, parental notifications, etc. Generally speaking, we can say that abortion in Canada is completely legal from conception until the child is fully outside its mother. Abortion has yet to be regulated since the 1988 decision of the Supreme Court made it fully legal. 2. New restrictions do not make abortion legal – it is already legal Even if there is no abortion law, abortion remains legal. Adding restrictions doesn’t make it legal, nor does it make abortion more legal. Some of what was legal is now made illegal (e.g., abortion after 12 or 18 weeks’ gestation), thereby saving some lives and limiting evil. That is exactly what the Bible calls the State to do – to limit evil. Some might object, “Wouldn’t a law prohibiting abortions after a certain number of weeks arbitrarily divide humans into ‘protected’ and ‘unprotected’ classes?” The continuum of human life begins at fertilization and ends at natural death. Currently under Canadian law only “born” humans have protection, so our law today already divides humans into “protected” and “unprotected” classes. If the law was changed to reflect increased protection by extending it to “pre-born” humans from 20 weeks to birth, then fewer babies would fall under the unprotected class, thus limiting the injustice of abortion. We certainly do and would support any initiative that would move more humans into the “protected” class. 3. In a country where there are no restrictions or laws pertaining to abortion, regulating abortion is a step toward making abortion illegal  We have already established that abortion is allowed in Canada for any reason. In this case, regulating it does not mean we are granting something that was illegal the legitimacy of legal status. Rather it means limiting and regulating by law something that once had absolutely no restrictions. Note as well that regulating abortion is worthy of support only if we are moving in a direction that limits abortion. In a 1968 Canada, our argument in favor of a gestational limit law would fail: a gestational limit of 12 weeks would have expanded evil, greatly increasing the number of children left unprotected. However, in a 2018 Canada, proposing such a gestational limit is fully in accord with the Bible because such a limit would restrict evil, greatly increasing the number of children protected. It is understandable that pro-life organizations do not like to promote a law that doesn’t protect all pre-born children. We would all much prefer to see a complete ban. But the alternative is to maintain the legal reality of abortion-on-demand. A ban is simply not possible in a democratic state in which the people’s hearts are against God and against life. The Bible teaches us that the role of politics is to restrict The reality is that the law won’t be able to eradicate evil. FURTHERMORE... Two further points need to be made. First, there is a very real sense in which all pro-lifers have already endorsed a step-by-step approach to eliminating abortion, even though these steps will protect only some children. All pro-lifers support efforts to defund abortion. By doing so, they support a process that would protect some children, but not others. Under defunding, abortion remains legal as long as the mother or the father pays for the abortion. Someone could argue, “I won’t support that defunding law because it only saves poor babies while all the babies of rich mothers who can afford the abortion will still be terminated.” That may be so, but defunding abortion is a step in the right direction. Such a law does not say that abortion is right; it does say (implicitly) that you can do it as long as you pay for it yourself. So consistency demands that those opposed to gestational limits should also object to abortion defunding. Or that those who support defunding also support gestational limits. Second, one of the objections to this step-by-step approach is that it supposedly condones the death of those we cannot yet save. But saving some does not mean we condone the death of those we can’t save. As Jonathon Van Maren pointed out in a 2012 article, many Jewish children were saved during the Second World War (including by some of our parents and grandparents) because they were small enough to hide in the homes of brave families who took them in. Not only could they hide, more could hide in a small space than adults or seniors. Nobody would ever say – or even think the thought – that, because these families saved children and not adults, they were condoning the deaths of the adults that they couldn’t save. Clearly then, when we can save only some, saving them does not condone the death of any others we could not save! OUR CHALLENGE In this article we’ve explained that gestational limits would not legalize abortion because it already is legal. We’ve also argued that saving some does not condone the death of those we cannot yet save. And we’ve tried to show that all pro-lifers already support legislative efforts that will protect only some children (in this case, the children of poor mothers). We want to conclude with a challenge. If you think we are wrong, please address these points one by one and explain why. Be specific. Please show how abortion in Canada is, in any sense, not already completely legal right now. Show how a gestational limit that will protect only some differs morally from a defunding effort that will protect only some. And explain why those who saved Jewish children weren’t condoning the death of their parents (who they couldn’t save), but today when we try to save some pre-born children (via a gestational limit) we are supposedly condoning the death of the children we aren’t able to save. CONCLUSION In Canada we have opportunity right now to save some of the many pre-born children being killed by abortion. We value them all. However, in today’s political, social and legal climate, we can’t save them all – we can’t eliminate this evil. But we can take steps to limit it. We can take steps to protect more and more children. We can save some now, while continuing to push for further protection for all children in the womb. Gestational limits would be a step in the wrong direction in any country in which abortion was currently banned. But in a country such as Canada, where all abortions are legal, this is a step in the right direction. This would restrict evil. So direction matters – it makes all the difference. Of course, political and legal action in the pro-life cause can’t happen in isolation, so this is certainly not the only pro-life work that needs to be done. Far from it! The political/legal action discussed above must happen in concert with continued education, abortion awareness, cultural engagement, prayer, crisis-pregnancy counseling, adoption efforts, etc. Together, and by God’s grace, we can work towards the end of state-sanctioned abortion in Canada! This is an updated version of an article that first appeared in the March 2014 issue of Reformed Perspective. Mike Schouten is the director of WeNeedALaw.ca, Mark Penninga and André Schutten are both with ARPACanada.ca, and Jon Dykstra is the editor of ReformedPerspective.ca....

Adult non-fiction, Pro-life - Euthanasia

SPEAKING AGAINST SUICIDE: a summary review of "A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide"

Do you find it harder to make the case against euthanasia than against abortion? That might be, in part, because we have less experience – abortion has been legal in Canada since 1969, and euthanasia only since 2016. Also, in abortion, we have victims who need advocates because they can’t speak for themselves, whereas in euthanasia the victims are also the perpetrators. How do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped – who wants to die? And consider how, in euthanasia, many of the cases involve terminal illnesses, and so have the same emotional tension as the hardest cases – those involving rape and incest – have in the abortion debate. That’s why it’s more difficult. JUST TWO OPTIONS But, just as in the abortion debate, the key is to first find the central issue. With abortion, the main question is, "Who is the unborn?" There are only two options. If the unborn is not human, there is no justification needed for “its” surgical removal. But if the unborn is human, then no justification is sufficient for killing him or her. As in Blaise Alleyne and Jonathan Van Maren’s explain in their new book, A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide Similarly, the crux of opposition to euthanasia can also be boiled down to just one question: How do we help those who are feeling desperate enough to want to kill themselves? And again, there are only two options: either we prevent suicide, or we assist it. Alleyne and Van Maren have given us a wonderful tool in this book. Their extensive experience in the pro-life movement is evident as they start by framing the debate. If we’re going to be effective, pro-lifers need to understand the three possible positions that people hold on this issue. They are: the split position – we should prevent some suicides while helping others the total choice position – anyone who wants to commit suicide should be helped to do so and the pro-life position – all life is precious, and all suicides are tragic THE SPLIT POSITION So how do we respond to the split position? Van Maren and Alleyne say that it is the job of pro-life apologetics is to show the split position’s inherent inconsistency. Suicide is tragic sometimes, but to be celebrated other times? The authors then give ways to counter the reasons often used to justify some suicides, given by the acronym QUIT for: Quality of life Unbearable suffering Incurable condition Terminal prognosis They spend 20 pages showing why these are fallacious reasons, so I can’t properly sum up their argument in just a line or two, but one underlying flaw to these justifications for suicide is that they are based on ageism and ableism. So in much the same way we can expose the inadequacy of many justification for abortion by bringing out an imaginary "two-year-old Timmy" (“What if the mother was too poor to have a baby?” “Would that be a good reason to kill Timmy?”) in the assisted suicide debate we can bring out an imaginary able-bodied 19-year-old. If someone opposes this 19-year-old committing suicide, why is it that they are fine with that 90-year-old doing so? Or that wheelchair bound lass? We can expose them for being ageist and ableist – treating people as less worthy of life based on their age or ability – and show them it is wrong to assist the suicide of anyone, of any age or level of health because as the authors put it, "suicide is a symptom , not a solution." TOTAL CHOICE Next, the authors take on those are (sadly) willing to be consistent and advocate total choice for all who desire to be assisted in ending their lives. Our only response is to insist that the suicidal need love even more than they need argument. THE SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES The fourth chapter shows how dangerous it is to accept either the split or the total choice position, because they have always involved a slippery slope toward more and more assisted killings they reduce the willingness to prevent suicide they undermine the morale of everyone who works in any facility that provides suicide assistance THE PRO-LIFE POSITION Finally, the authors show the pro-life position. We know, on the one hand, that life is a gift from God, so it is not to be thrown away, but on the other, that all life ends, and because of Jesus we need not fear death. So the pro-life position is not about continuing life at all costs. It allows for: the refusal of burdensome treatment the use of pain medication, even when that risks hastening death, as long as the intent of such medication is to alleviate pain rather than to kill The pro-life position also offers positive responses to the suicidal: psychological health resources, pain management, palliative care, and dignity therapy. The authors end with two pleas: "Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination." In other words, may no-one ever have their death hastened because we refuse to imagine how we may show more compassion. "As people who believe in the dignity and value of every human life, it is our responsibility to.... persuade people that assisted suicide is wrong." In their Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide Alleyne and Van Maren have done an admirable job of giving us the tools to carry out that responsibility. Given the urgency of the push toward euthanasia in both Canada and U.S., we need to read this book. “A Guide for Discussing Assisted Suicide” can be ordered at lifecyclebooks.com (where you can also find the option to buy in bulk for your pro-life group or circle of friends at greatly reduced prices)....

Pro-life - Abortion

Margaret Sanger: Planned Parenthood's apostle of eugenics

EDITOR'S NOTE: The original title the editor gave this – "Margaret Sanger: Apostle of abortion and eugenics" – made it seem as if Sanger was a public advocate of both. While she was a public eugenicist, she publicly opposed abortion, even as (according to Ellen Chesler's biography "Woman of valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America") her clinics would sometimes, privately, refer women for abortions.  **** The largest abortion provider in the United States is an organization called Planned Parenthood. It receives money from the US federal government and various state governments. Planned Parenthood also has a presence in most other countries of the world including Canada. Like the US, the Canadian federal government financially supports this organization. In both countries such government funding is strongly opposed by pro-lifers. The founder of Planned Parenthood was a woman named Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). She is an icon of leftists throughout the English-speaking world, though she is probably most popularly known as a promoter of birth control. She was that, to be sure, but there is much more that should also be known about her. Sanger was a dedicated opponent of Christian principles and capitalism. Her legacy through Planned Parenthood continues to infect the world and influence countless people towards evil. American author George Grant wrote an insightful biography of Margaret Sanger a few years ago entitled Killer Angel: A Short Biography of Planned Parenthood's Founder Margaret Sanger. From this account it would appear that Margaret Sanger’s contribution to humanity has been extremely harmful. Convert to socialism Margaret Sanger was born as Margaret Higgins in Corning, New York in 1879, one of eleven children. Her home life was hard and unhappy, in large part because her father was a miserable person. He was a religious skeptic. Her mother was a Roman Catholic who had Margaret baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church in her early teens. In her mid-teens Margaret attended Claverack College. Here, Grant writes, she “plunged into radical politics, suffragette feminism, and unfettered sex.” Subsequently she worked briefly as a kindergarten teacher and then worked in a hospital, training to be a nurse. In 1900 Margaret met a promising young architect named William Sanger. They married and had three children. William was a leftwing social activist. Margaret would accompany him to various leftwing meetings, and she became very excited about far-left ideas. As a result, she joined the Socialist Party. Margaret then began writing for the Socialist Party newspaper and speaking on behalf of the Party to labor organization meetings. In the early 1900s the Socialist Party was a significant organization in American politics. Hundreds of locally-elected public officials were members of the Party, and it won 6 per cent of the national vote in the 1912 presidential election. As time went on, Margaret increasingly neglected her family because of her devotion to leftwing activism. William, who had introduced her to that activism, became concerned. But it was too late for him to do anything. Grant states that: Margaret told her bewildered husband that she needed emancipation from every taint of Christianized capitalism—including the strict bonds of the marriage bed. She even suggested to him that they seriously consider experimenting with various trysts, infidelities, fornications, and adulteries. Because of her careful tutoring in socialist dogma, she had undergone a sexual liberation – at least intellectually – and she was now ready to test its authenticity physically. Nevertheless, William tried desperately to save the marriage. At this time, fashionable leftwing intellectuals held meetings in the Greenwich Village district of New York City, and Margaret became a regular attendee. These intellectuals were noted for their practice of “free love”, but, Grant notes, “no one had championed sexual freedom as openly and ardently as Margaret.” In a last ditch effort to save his marriage, William took his family to Paris. However, Margaret got bored of Paris and moved back to New York along with her children. The marriage was over. In New York she founded a new periodical appropriately titled The Woman Rebel. Grant notes that its “first issue denounced marriage as ‘a degenerate institution,’ capitalism as ‘indecent exploitation,’ and sexual modesty as ‘obscene prudery.’” England and eugenics Due to the extreme content of her paper, Margaret was charged with the publication of lewd and indecent materials. Rather than face the charges she fled the US for England. While in England, Margaret became enmeshed in the ideas of Thomas Malthus and his followers. Malthus was an early nineteenth century philosopher who promoted the belief that the world was facing a crisis due to overpopulation. Human population was, in his view, increasing much more rapidly than the availability of resources, so humanity was facing disaster. His followers basically wanted to restrict the growth of human population in order to prevent such a disaster. In the early twentieth century, one of the major streams of Malthusian thinking was Eugenics, a view that the human race could be improved through selective breeding. That is, Eugenic supporters wanted to ensure that the supposedly best racial stocks reproduced while supposedly inferior racial stocks were inhibited from reproducing. Margaret became a strong promoter of Eugenics. She also met and became friends with many of the leading leftwing intellectuals of Britain. Some of them became her lovers. Grant writes: Free from what she considered “the smothering restrictions of marital fidelity,” she indulged in a nymphomaniacal passion for promiscuity and perversion. Promoting Malthus After a year in England, Margaret returned to the United States. She was able to generate enough public support that the charges against her were dropped. Then she embarked on a very successful cross-country tour promoting her ideas. However, her subsequent attempt to operate an illegal birth control clinic was shut down by the authorities. After spending a few days in jail due to operating the illegal clinic, Margaret founded the American Birth Control League and its magazine, The Birth Control Review. This new organization would eventually evolve into Planned Parenthood. Margaret and the American Birth Control League became very popular, receiving support and financial help from many prominent people. To further promote her beliefs, in 1922 she wrote an important book entitled The Pivot of Civilization that openly advocated Malthusian and Eugenic goals. In 1925 Margaret hosted a conference in New York to promote Malthusian ideals and birth control. One achievement of this conference was the formalization of a loose federation of organizations supporting birth control. During the 1940s this organization would become known as International Planned Parenthood. An unhappy life Despite her notable achievements, Margaret was not personally happy. Grant says that in a desperate attempt “to find meaning and happiness, she lost herself in a profusion of sexual liaisons. She went from one lover to another, sometimes several in a single day.” Although Margaret had publicly condemned marriage, in 1922 she married a wealthy oilman, J. Noah Slee. However, in order to marry Margaret, Slee had to agree to allow Margaret to sleep around. Through this marriage, Margaret got access to millions of dollars of funding for her cause. During the 1930s Margaret had friendly ties with fellow Eugenic supporters in Germany. Grant explains: Because of her Malthusian and Eugenic connections, she had willingly become closely associated with the scientists and theorists who put together Nazi Germany’s “race purification” program. She had openly endorsed the euthanasia, sterilization, abortion, and infanticide programs of the early Reich. She happily published a number of articles in The Birth Control Review that mirrored Hitler’s Aryan-White Supremacist rhetoric. She even commissioned her friend, Ernst Rudin, director of the Nazi Medical Experimentation program, to serve the organization as an advisor. Despite those unsavory associations, Margaret’s star continued to rise after the Second World War. By the 1960s she was exceptionally famous, and her efforts were publicly supported by such prestigious leaders as John D. Rockefeller, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Personally, though, she continued to have problems. On top of her immoral lifestyle, she involved Planned Parenthood in financial scandals. Grant says that: She often spent Planned Parenthood money for her own extravagant pleasures. She invested organizational funds in the black market. She squandered hard-won bequests on frivolities. And she wasted the money she’d gotten “by hook or by crook” on her unrestrained vanities. Grant also points out one more notable aspect of Margaret’s personality: Throughout her life, Margaret Sanger developed a rakish and reckless pattern of dishonesty. She twisted the truth about her qualifications as a nurse, about the details of her work, and about the various sordid addictions that controlled her life. Her autobiographies were filled with exaggerations, distortions, and out-and-out lies. Needless to say, she was not a woman of good character. Margaret Sanger died on September 6, 1966. Conclusion Planned Parenthood is a large and powerful organization in both Canada and the United States. In the US that organization is commonly in the news due to its controversial activities and agenda. As such, Christians are often confronted with the legacy of Margaret Sanger even today. She is gone but her agenda is aggressively pursued by her disciples, and we see it today as a largely evil agenda of abortion and population control. Margaret Sanger made an unmistakable mark on the world that continues unabated in the contemporary abortion policies of many countries. Michael Wagner's latest book, Leaving God Behind, about Canada's Christian roots, can be purchased here....

News

Canadian colonialism dressed up as aid

Red tomatoes and purple onions pile in front of her. Behind is sugar, bagged by the kilo. Bottles of Fanta and 7-Up stand on a white shelf in this small, road-side kiosk, one of many in sub-Saharan Africa. In the midst of it she stands, a smiling woman in a blue shirt and white head wrap. Her smile adorns the official website of the UN’s Family Planning Summit, which met on July 11 in London, UK, to decide what to do with her. The website reads like a sales pitch: “Family planning is a best-buy in global development.” The Canadian government stood out as a champion of reproductive health at the Summit, part of its Feminist International Assistance Policy. Policymakers, donors and leaders have solved the life problem of the smiling African woman. But have they asked for her opinion? Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minster of International Trade, told the House of Commons that our national values “includes sexual reproductive rights and the right to safe and accessible abortions. These rights are at the core of our foreign policy.” This statement profoundly concerned the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops, which argued in an open letter that abortion advocacy cannot be the core of Canadian foreign policy when it is “not only legally contentious but completely contrary to the deeply held convictions of many both within and beyond Canada’s borders.” The numbers underscore their concern: $119 million in international aid will go to famine relief and $650 million to abortion and sexual reproduction rights. Fifty percent of the latter is dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa, including countries where abortion is illegal except to save a mother’s life. An African proverb says, “the absent are always wrong.” The same donors who are so eager to end poverty are proving deaf to the voices of those they claim to help. A different view of procreation I have lived in East Africa since the age of three. Congolese mothers often counted their children to me, including those who died as babies. Mama Rebecca, a gentle old woman, cried over her five children, each of whom died tragically and far from her. In Africa, children – all children – are carefully remembered. To speak of Africa is to speak of an immense continent with 54 nations and many unique tribes, each with their own culture. Yet commonalities do exist. Father Bonaventure Turyomumazima of Uganda wrote that generally traditional African cultures are centered in life. Procreation completes marriage. Children are the continuation of a physical line, important both for the living and the dead. It is commonly expected for the entire community to raise the child. That means there are few unwanted children or “orphans.” Elaborate taboos and rituals preserve the lives of mother and child. Faith Kasiva, author of the report "Robbed by Choice," explains, “We live in an African cultural setting where having a child or motherhood is glorified in a way that probably it’s not in other societies.” Telling a woman in such a cultural setting to not have children is almost like telling a Canadian woman to empty all her bank accounts, quit her job and publicly defame herself on all social media, just to avoid poverty. It doesn’t make sense, given the social construct. “Unwanted pregnancies” are not the problem as much as unwanted wars, unwanted famines, unwanted rape, unwanted incest and unwanted displacement. Mama Rebecca didn’t weep because her children ought not to have been born. She wept because they ought not to have died. A strange irony plays out here: the world’s first feminist policy warring against a culture that glorifies mothers! But do Minister Freeland and the Family Planning Summit tell the whole truth? The dark side of depopulation Often, benevolent NGOs hold out family planning with one hand. The other is behind their back, shut tight on hundreds of statistics linking abortion and family breakdown, psychological health, increased poverty, community disintegration and isolation. The contraceptive Norplant is one example of this. Designed to keep a woman infertile for five years, Norplant has suffered tens of thousands of lawsuits in America for its side-effects. Now Norplant is exported to developing countries as “aid.” It’s an old story. Norplant is even harder on the bodies of malnourished women. The consequences are often not fully explained. When faced with unexpected complications, life-long sterility and even death by hemorrhage, these women are without health support. More than that, long-term barrenness can ruin marriages and isolate women from communities. Family planning as the West understands it will not end poverty. Tying aid money to such an agenda prompted Nigerian activist Obianuju Ekeocha to hail Canada as the new “number one colonial master of the world.”  New face, old story Over a hundred years ago during the rubber trade in Belgian Congo, the colonial army raided the village of a woman named Ilanga. As the chained villagers were marched from their burning homes, soldiers forced Ilanga’s baby from her, tossing it aside so she could carry their looted pot. The agony of such men and women being “civilized” bleeds into one of their songs: “We are tired of living under this tyranny/ We cannot endure that our women and children are taken away/ and dealt with by the white savages.” Today, the Canadian Prime Minister can use the force of the dollar to tell millions of women in Africa – “Drop the baby. Carry the pot of civilization. We know what is best. Your child would never have a good life. You may as well kill it now.” At least, this is what is heard on the other end. According to a writer in the Lusaka Times in Zambia, “Abortion is one way of saying ‘do not multiply anymore.’ Our multiplying is disturbing the depopulation plans.. . . These NGOs in Zambia came in the name of ‘helping’ suffering Zambians; on the surface they do good things, but in the background, they start their main program.” Canada is the first donor country to call its foreign policy a feminist one. An “ism” denotes a belief system. Emil Hagamu of Tanzania writes, “In African communities, the death of a child is no small matter . . . . Expanded legalization of abortion is being forced upon us by the traditional colonizing powers of the West.” Ekeocha, founder of Culture for Life, told Catholic News Service that Western funds are used to bribe African politicians to accept abortion, “The polls show overwhelmingly that Africans hate abortion . . . . By ignoring the will of the people, this is spitting in the face of the very type of democracy we are supposed to have in African countries.” ‘Tired of tyranny’ The Democratic Republic of Congo, the giant heart of the African continent, is targeted by Canada to the tune of $97 million. Minister Bibeau told the Globe and Mail that the aid would be “subtle,” working to provide adolescents with extensive sex education and to push abortion in a country where it is illegal. The Democratic Republic of Congo is a deeply troubled nation. Her children already suffer because of greed-based violence. Instead of helping living children, Canada will prevent the birth of more. Maybe that musical country will sing again the old song, “We are tired of living under this tyranny/ We cannot endure that our women and children are taken away/ and dealt with by the white savages.” If Canada does not consider the true situation of the woman in her road-side shop or listen to the bereaved grandmothers, then Canada’s aid is just colonialization in a new outfit. The colonizing powers of Africa-past were confident in their superiority. They were sure their agendas were right. But blood and tears mark those pages. Canada is currently writing a colonization of Africa-present. This too, history will remember. This article was originally published August 28, 2017 in Christian Courier (www.christiancourier.ca). Trudeau picture credit: Shutterstock.com...

Apologetics 101, Pro-life - Abortion, Sexuality

Don’t Argue the Exceptions: Beating bad arguments for Abortion and Transgenderism

“But what about the . . . ?” Has a rare exception every stumped you when making the case for life or anything else? Here’s how to respond with grace and truth. 10 fingers and toes “Humans have ten fingers and ten toes.” Now that shouldn’t strike anyone as a controversial statement, since almost every person ever born has had twenty digits. But what if someone argued in response that, because there are exceptions to this—people who because of injury or genetic defect lack a digit or two—we ought not describe ten fingers and ten toes as normal or descriptive of being human? We’d rightly think that a silly argument, of course. So why do we tolerate this same kind of reasoning in modern social debates? Take abortion. Perhaps you’ve heard someone challenge the pro-life view with this exception: “Well what about rape and incest, or the life of the mother?” Or take gender. Folks ask me all the time, “But what about those born with ambiguous genitalia?” These objections stop a lot of Christians in their tracks. But they shouldn’t. When pro-choice activists insist that we can’t outlaw abortion because some pregnancies result from rape and incest, or endanger the life of the mother, they’re ignoring the fact that in nearly all abortions none of these considerations are factors at all. Rather, healthy babies are killed simply because they’re inconvenient. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t support the intentional taking of unborn life under any circumstance. As Live Action President Lila Rose often points out, the unborn are human beings no matter what the circumstances of their conception. Rape and other sexual crimes are monstrous, but abortion doesn’t undo those wrongs, it only creates another victim. Arguing about exceptions like these only muddies the waters. And sometimes, that’s exactly what the pro-choice side wants. For the sake of argument... The same thing happens when someone brings up ambiguous genitalia in the transgender debate. This condition is tragic, and the subject requires great care. But it’s also extremely rare — by most estimates, in fact, occurring in just one in twenty-two thousand births. In other words, when we allow this tiny fraction of a percent to control the entire debate, we obscure the overwhelming reality. And so, for the sake of discussion, instead of arguing about the exceptions, why not just grant them? When someone challenges you about extreme cases for abortion, try replying this way: “Okay, let’s say we keep abortion legal in these rare cases. What about the other ninety-six percent of abortions that are elective? Can we end those?” Nine times out of ten, you’ll hear crickets. Likewise, when it comes to gender, grant that in cases of ambiguous genitalia, there really is a biological basis for doubt and that we must rethink medical practices that too quickly label someone male or female if the physical evidence isn’t clear. By granting the exceptions, we force the other person to face the real questions, or admit they’re using rare cases as wedges for their real agenda. Exceptions prove the principle But more importantly, these exceptions actually prove the principles we believe in. Here’s what I mean: If someone says, “if a baby was conceived in a crime, we have the right to kill her,” that person is appealing to the circumstances under which the baby was conceived. To then argue that abortion should be legal in all cases is to admit that circumstances don’t in fact matter. That my friend, is called a contradiction. Same thing is true with transgenderism. To argue that biology matters in the case of ambiguous genitalia and then argue that biology doesn’t matter with clearly defined genitalia is nonsense. Our response should be: Biology matters or it doesn’t. Pick one. Look, rare cases are tough and complicated. But that doesn’t mean that all or even most of the other cases are. So the next time someone argues for abortion or gender fluidity from an exception, grant it and then confront them with the vast majority of cases. And if they refuse, just ask them how many fingers and toes they have. Copyright 2017 by the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Reprinted from BreakPoint.org with permission....

Pro-life - Abortion

Investigating the Birth Control Pill

I was married in the summer of 2015, and a few months prior to this my fiancé and I began researching Christian methods of birth control. The minister officiating our wedding gave us two articles to read.1,7 This was the first time I had really read anything about oral contraceptives, aka the Pill. When I was in high school, I knew girls who were taking the Pill to help ease menstrual difficulties, so I was aware that it existed. But I had no idea how it worked, or whether there were problems with using it as a contraceptive. The two articles the minister gave us noted the Pill was not only a contraceptive, but could have an abortive function, acting after a new baby was already conceived. In conversations with other women my age, it became clear that doctors weren’t talking about the Pill’s role as an abortifacient (something that causes abortions). They had never been informed. 3 ways the pill works So how does the pill work? It has three different mechanisms, and the first two do indeed act to prevent pregnancy. The most well known mechanism of the pill is prevention of ovulation. And if there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize then there is no possibility of pregnancy. The pill also causes cervical mucus to thicken, making it more difficult for sperm to reach the egg if the woman still ovulates. These first two mechanisms are indeed contraceptive, in that when they work, they serve to prevent the joining of the egg and sperm. But there is also a third action, and this one is not contraceptive, but abortive. The hormones in the Pill cause the lining of your endometrium (on the wall of the womb, where the egg needs to attach) to be very thin so the baby cannot implant. And because it can’t implant it has no chance to grow and develop – it is chemically aborted.2 When contraception doesn’t “contra” conception This third action isn’t well known, perhaps because it is still called “contraceptive” even though it acts after conception. You see, if you look up the definition of “contraception” it isn’t what you might expect. In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary it says “contraception: deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation.” In other words, when we read on a box that something is a contraceptive, that doesn’t mean that it just prevents conception – the word also includes the abortive function of preventing a newly conceived little human being from implanting in its mother’s womb. That may be why most people don’t know about the Pill’s abortive function. Physicians use this word contraception, but mean something very different by it than we might be assuming. But information about this can be easily found on the Internet. For example, an article on Webmd.com describes this third function this way: Hormonal contraceptives can also prevent pregnancy by changing the lining of the womb so it's unlikely the fertilized egg will be implanted.2 As pro-lifers, we understand that “the fertilized egg” they are talking about here is actually and already a human being made in God’s image. Another sort of pill? I now thought I knew how oral contraceptives worked, so my fiancé and I would not be considering this “option” of birth control. This does not mean that we were not scared that our other options would not be as effective. We also knew they would require more “work” than taking a pill (condoms, tracking basal body temperatures and cervical mucus, etc.). Then I started hearing from various women that "my pill is different, my doctor says it's not the type that can cause abortions." I was quite interested, thinking that since I had only read two very religious articles, perhaps there were other, different pills the article authors didn’t know about – ones that do not have the third abortive mechanism of action. Wouldn't that be great? But it didn’t take long, searching with Google, to dig up clear information on the many different brands of oral contraceptives. There are over 80 different names but they all contain either progestin or estrogen or a combination of both (most common), and therefore they all have the same three potential actions. I began reading more research articles, both Christian-based and non-Christian, and they amusingly enough agreed that it happens but then draw different conclusions as to what we should then do. CHRISTIAN SOURCES: We do not and cannot know how often the third mechanism has to kick in because the first two fail, but we know it can and does happen, therefore we should not be willing to risk killing our baby.1,4,6,7 NON-CHRISTIAN SOURCES: There is no precise medical testing that exists which can prove how often a fertilized egg is not implanting and so Christians should not worry or care about a non-statistic.5,9 Not care about a “non-statistic”? Just because we cannot get a precise number, does that mean we should just ignore that it is happening altogether? Even with perfect use, babies are conceived We might not have clear numbers, but we do know babies are being conceived in women who use the birth control pill. There is no such thing as a birth control pill that has a 0% pregnancy rate…even with perfect use.8 We should also note that on most websites it states users of the pill must take it at the same time every day and not miss a pill.2,10 This would be considered “perfect use” and even with perfection, pregnancies are still occurring.3 And the pregnancy rates go way up under “typical use” (missing a pill or taking a pill late). In an article by Dr. William F. Colliton Jr., he shared that: "...medical literature documents an incidence of 3-5 pregnancies per 100 women per year for Pill users. Dr. Don Gambrell, Jr., a renowned gynecological endocrinologist….noted a 14% incidence of ovulation in women taking the 50 microgram . This rate varies from pill to pill and from patient to patient. Now, every case of fertilization that does occur in women on the pill, in which the pill has made it difficult or impossible for there to be implantation, contradicts the thesis of those stating that the is not abortifacient."4 If 3-5 pregnancies are occurring despite all 3 actions of the pill, how many more ovulations are occurring that we don't see because the conceived baby is then terminated because it can’t implant in the thin endometrium? What about a 14% breakthrough ovulation rate? We don’t know how many children are killed by the Pill’s third mechanism, but the numbers could be very high. As Randy Alcorn writes: The Pill is used by about fourteen million American women each year and sixty million women internationally. Thus, even an infinitesimally low portion (say one-hundredth of one percent) of 780 million Pill cycles per year globally could represent tens of thousands of unborn children lost to this form of chemical abortion annually. How many young lives have to be jeopardized for prolife believers to question the ethics of using the Pill? This is an issue with profound moral implications for those believing we are called to protect the lives of children. We could guess the numbers for Canada might be around a tenth of the American figures, potentially amounting to thousands of children lost. Regardless of what the numbers are, as Christians can’t we agree that if our birth control choices risk killing even just one baby, then we need to use some other method? Conclusion While I was quite uninformed on this topic, it didn’t take much time to work through the readily available information and realize that the Pill is not for us. So with all this in mind I would like to encourage anyone who reads this with the following: If you are a parent of a teenage girl, (and, even teenage boys should be informed too!) please talk with them about the birth control pill. Don’t let them find out for themselves or assume that they know already. I didn’t know, and many others did not and do not. This is important stuff because it truly is a matter of life and death! If you are an engaged couple considering different birth control options please do more research than just asking your doctor for a non-abortive pill. The chances are high that your doctor does not have the same beliefs as you and does not consider hormonal oral contraceptives to be abortifacient (because he may regard implantation, rather than conception, as when new life begins). Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out and not ask questions. This topic is important enough to spend a few hours of your time researching it before putting hormones into your body uninformed. The information is all out there; you just have to look for it! If you are married and currently taking one of the many brands of birth control pills, please don’t let guilt get in the way of change. What you’ve done in ignorance, you can turn from now that you know better. And because our God is merciful we can depend on His forgiveness, and live lives of thankfulness. I believe that this conversation is extremely necessary, and as important, if not more so, than walking in a March for Life or standing in a Life Chain or any other pro-life work. We cannot tell others that it is wrong for them to kill their baby before it is born if we are ignoring the safety of our own unborn children. If we are pro-life, then let us truly be pro-life! Endnotes 1 Randy Alcorn’s Does the birth control pill cause abortions? A short condensation. 2 Todd Nivin’s (MD) “Birth Control Pills” Retrieved August 16, 2016 3 Contraception: Success and failure rates of contraceptives. Retrieved January, 2017 4 W.F Colliton’s “The birth control pill: Abortifacient and Contraceptive” in Life and Learning X, 5 J.L. DeCook & D. Harrison & C. Hirsch & S. Crocket’s “Hormone contraceptives controversies and clarifications” in Prolife Obstetrician (1999) 6 M.A. Grisanti’s “Birth control and the Christian: Recent discussion and basic suggestions” in The Master's Seminary Journal 23(1) 7 N.D. Kloosterman’s “The pilgrim's pathway” in the Oct, 1994 issue of Christian Renewal 8 I. Milsom & T. Korver’s “Ovulation incidence with oral contraceptives: A literature review” in J Family Planning Reproductive Health Care 34(4) 9 C. Page’s “Much ado about nothing: Prolife misconceptions about contraception” posted Aug 22, 2008 10 U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Birth control: medicines to help you”...

Pro-life - Abortion, Sexuality

Abraham Lincoln, on abortion

How would one of history's great figures have dealt with the biggest issue of our time? We don't have to wonder – while Abraham Lincoln didn't address abortion directly, he did still speak to the issue. In the 1800s American slave trade supporters tried justifying the practice of slavery any number of ways. Lincoln was very good at tearing those justifications apart and the technique he used is one that transfers directly to the plight of the unborn. In one of his speeches he argued: If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B why may not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? You say A is white and B is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. Biblical inspiration? Lincoln turned the slave trade supporters' justifications back on them, arguing that if it is good for you, then you shouldn’t object if this same logic is then used by someone else to justify enslaving you. If his strategy seems familiar, it's because it aligns perfectly with what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2: Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. What Jesus issued as a warning Lincoln used as a tool. So how might this tool work in the abortion debate? We could begin by noting that if someone argues the unborn can be killed because they are smaller than us, then, as Lincoln might have put it, “Take care. By this rule you could be killed by the first man you meet who is bigger than you.” Or if it comes down to some ability, then watch out when you meet someone who is more able than you. Self-interest? This is a major justification for abortion: a child would interfere with our lifestyle. But, “take care again – by this rule you may be killed by any who can show it is in their self-interest for you to be dead.” Conclusion Lincoln lived more than 150 years ago, but we can still learn from him. Lincoln showed the standard of justice that slave owners were trying to apply was one they wouldn't want applied to themselves. That sort of hypocrisy still happens today, and not only to the unborn. We have only to think of Christian bakery owners or flower shop owners who are not allowed to work according to their conscience. And yet the world celebrates when a dress designer refuses, because of her own convictions, to dress the First Lady. Let's do as Lincoln did, and ask them to apply their own arguments to themselves. And then let's insist on an answer....

Adult non-fiction, Book excerpts, Book Reviews

What "right" trumps all others?

In this excerpt from Jonathon Van Maren’s new book The Culture War he lays out how sexual rights have triumphed over all others…and one of the first steps we can take in response. ***** When abortion activists came shrieking with rage at Canadian Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth’s suggestion that a committee examine human life in the womb in 2013, he was somewhat surprised. When the Canadian government kowtowed to feminist hysteria and shut down his colleague Mark Warawa’s motion to condemn gender-selection abortion, Woodworth noticed a trend – and coined a new term. What we’re seeing is “abortionism,” he told me in an interview. Abortionism is essentially a philosophy that raises abortion to a sacred status, above all other democratic principles. I agree with Mr. Woodworth, but I think the problem goes much deeper than abortion. Abortion’s now-sacred status is symptomatic of something far more sinister: the sweeping success of the Sexual Revolution. So-called “sexual rights” are now considered to be the most important “rights” our society has, and take precedence over all other rights, regardless of how fundamental they are. Rights that fell by the wayside Freedom of speech? This is now a quaint concept that does not apply, for example, to any sort of pro-life activism, especially and ironically on university campuses, once lauded as the marketplaces of ideas. Pornography, nude demonstrations, and virtually any form of sex-related activism is welcome – unless you happen to be opposing something, in which case it is not. When I was in university, for example, our “Cemetery of the Innocents” display was trampled and destroyed by a student politician who then took to the campus paper to refer to us as “the Hitler Youth.” On campus after campus across North America, feminists respond to pro-life activism the same way: Shut down the debate. Almost every pro-life activist I know has been censored on his or her university campus in some way or another – and usually with the endorsement, if not assistance, of the university administration. The same applies to the right to educate your children as you see fit. Increasingly, the adherents of the Sexual Revolution are realizing that in order to get the upcoming generation of Christians to accept the New Sexual Order, they will have to force it on them. Specifically, mandate new “sex education.” Christian schools and home-schoolers frustrate them, because they can no longer teach children about masturbation and anal sex in fifth grade. As Wendy Shalit highlights in her magnificent book A Return to Modesty, much of the public education system is now the systematic destruction of innocence. And if the powers that be have their way, soon you won’t be able to opt out. Religious liberty is being dispensed with at an alarming rate as well. After all, our culture has abandoned religious values. Once we’ve chiselled and hacked the last of the Ten Commandments monuments from in front of the last courthouses, we can put those quaint beliefs in the trash can alongside it. Businesses that disagree with gay marriage are being forced to shut down. Churches in Denmark have already been ordered to perform gay weddings, and there’s no reason to think that such things won’t soon begin to happen here in North America. Our tax dollars are used to fund Pride Parades that resemble public orgies. The Sexual Revolutionaries are not, for the most part, about living and let live. They are about compulsory acceptance. All rights are now subject to sexual rights. How we got here The Sexual Revolutionaries didn’t just change history. They rewrote it, because that’s what revolutionaries always do. This struck me vividly when I was traveling in China, and our tour guide, a pretty young woman named Anna, was taking my friend and I from the Forbidden Palace to Tiananmen Square to Mao Tse-Tung’s Mausoleum, where the dead dictator still lies in state in a glass-covered coffin. After listening to Anna praise Mao for hours, I asked her how she could possibly believe he was good for China when, by some estimates, he presided over the deaths of nearly seventy million people. First she was irritated, and then agitated. After informing me that Mao was a great leader, she ended our discussion by announcing, “Denying Mao would be like denying Communist Party!” And with that, historical truth was placed firmly in the backseat to ideological obligation. In order to understand the sex-driven lunacy and carnage that has gripped our culture on virtually every front, we have to put history back in the front seat. We have to honestly analyze and understand how we reached this point, so that we can begin to realize what we can do – not to return, but to rebuild. To equip our children and the upcoming generation with the truth of what has actually taken place, and why it is that we believe what we do. One thing we can do This is precisely what Ted Byfield told me when I asked him what young people could do to begin the process of cultural renewal. Read history, he told me urgently. People will be stunned to find out what actually happened – “they will be astonished at the things we’ve done in century that made no sense at all. What should be emphasized in your generation is to find out what happened. In other words, read history.” He's right. Once we know what has happened, we will have a better sense of what is happening, and have vital context for the spreading social decay we are witnessing. That decay, as we will see, has become our culture’s new normal. The Culture War is about how the Sexual Revolution triumphed in the Western World, and how Christians can respond. It can be purchased at TheBridgehead.ca....