Friends, The new Alliance Alert Daily Digest is finally here! You can subscribe to the daily e-mail here: Subscribe to our mailing list * indicates required Email Address * First Name * Last Name *
In the Light of the Law: Attorney Mark McCall’s essay on New York marriage law offers another defense of the oddly-named “Marriage Pledge” that, I fear, fails to appreciate what the Pledge actually calls for and, worse, misconstrues the fundamental relationship between so-called civil marriage and Christian matrimony. Let me deal with the latter problem first for it goes to a central point of confusion.
Alliance Defending Freedom: One voice can make such an incredible difference. Sometimes that line can sound almost like a platitude. But it’s a truth amply backed up by the Bible, and by history: somehow, amid all the din of daily life, one clear voice breaks through the ceaseless commotion … draws our focus … clears away the mental debris … condenses a thousand ideas and opinions into a single truth.
Breakpoint: Some 60 percent of Americans live in a state where the definition of marriage has been changed to include same-sex couples. And the Supreme Court may soon enshrine the new definition nationwide.
First Things: Many of the responses to the Marriage Pledge from both sides of the divide on same-sex marriage have reflected substantial confusion over the distinction between Christian and civil marriage and what the role of the clergy is in the marriage ceremony. My purpose here is to clarify that distinction and then to evaluate criticisms of the Pledge when the distinction between the two types of marriage is properly understood.
First Things: With the legal affirmation of same-sex marriage in some states, should churches, synagogues, and mosques stop performing civil marriages? No, not yet. Marriage is, of course, more than a matter of statecraft.
Aleteia: Last week I was privileged to attend the Humanum Colloquium held at the Vatican, and about which I wrote in advance with optimism regarding the use of new visual arts to convey old truths. Now, with the colloquium behind me, I find myself thinking about the lasting contributions of this international gathering. And it strikes me today that perhaps one of the most important things was an attempt to frame the current international debate about marriage in terms of the humanity owed to the innocent.
First Things: Christopher Seitz and I recently formulated a “marriage pledge,” which First Things has hosted. It asks signers who are pastors to stop signing civil marriage licences as part of the Christian marriages at which they officiate, In this way, they will give public notice that Christian marriage is not what the state calls “marriage.”
The Christian Institute: David Cameron’s ‘casual imposition’ of gay marriage “insulted settled beliefs”, and “wounded him politically”, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph has said.
The Christian Institute: A John Lewis Christmas advert featuring a penguin called Monty who is searching for ‘real love’, has been criticised for not promoting LGBT people.
First Things: Does the call for Christians to separate matrimony from government marriage mean we’re retreating from the public square? Damon Linker thinks so. He calls it an “unprecedented retreat of theologically conservative churches from engagement in American public life.” That’s exactly wrong.
First Things: A number of people charge the Marriage Pledge authored by Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz with “clericalism,” claiming that it seeks to keep the hands of pastors clean from signing dirty marriage docs while urging laymen to make their perilous way to City Hall. This is probably the silliest of many silly charges that have been made.
Douglas Wilson: In some ways, Matthew Schmitz’s cavalier dismissal of objections to the Marriage Pledge seems to invite an old-fashioned fisking. But I resist the invitation. The confusions about marriage in our time are deep and profound, and many of them are present in the underlying assumptions of this Pledge, a Pledge seeking to preserve Christian marriage by detaching it from public and legally enforceable commitments. But what if legally enforceable commitments are an essential part of what marriage is?
First Things: No-fault divorce changed the American culture of marriage. So did the sexual revolution. Now proponents of gay rights are redefining marriage at an even more fundamental level. What’s to be done? As a post-biblical vision of sex, gender, and marriage gains the upper hand in our society, should our religious institutions get out of marriage? Should priests, pastors, and rabbis renounce their roles as deputies of state authority in marriage? Or should we sustain the close links between religious and civil marriage?
BreakPoint: The next several years are going to be messy for Christians. We already know that some who claim to be within our fold will continue to challenge the historic, orthodox teaching about sexuality, marriage, and the essence of what it means to be made in the image of God. But even those of us who agree that marriage is what the church has always thought it was, will disagree on how best to move forward in a culture hell-bent on denying it.
Canon Law Blog: Matthew Schmitz of First Things has offered some brief rebuttals to opponents of the Marriage Pledge. As probably the Pledge’s primary public critic (perhaps I exaggerate my influence), I see my objections to the Pledge (beginning here) only partially addressed by Schmitz and in one aspect, at least, Schmitz raises a straw-man objection to Pledge opponents’ views. Let’s deal with that first.
Life News: The pro-life community has come together to support the Duggar family in response to efforts by liberals to get TLC to cancel their show, “19 Kids and Counting.”
Mirror of Justice: There are men and women of extraordinary wisdom and insight who transcend their particular communities and traditions to be teachers of mankind. Plato was one. So was St. Augustine. So were Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Life News: I am convinced that anyone who read our stories about Brittany Maynard would come away knowing two things. We were deeply respectful of what she was going through and the enormous impact her terminal brain disease had on this young woman and her family.
In the Light of the Law: Rusty Reno had no difficulty dispatching recent smears against the so-called “Marriage Pledge” as spiteful, for indeed, neither the pledge nor its authors, Radner and Seitz, are in the least spiteful. Instead, I say, Radner and Seitz are wrong, and their misnamed Marriage Pledge (which should be called what it expressly is, a “Pledge not to Certify as ‘Married’ Couples that Are Married”), should be dropped so that we can return to the business of opposing “same-sex marriage” without abandoning true marriage to the power of the State.
The Christian Institute: Celebrities are the cause of a sharp rise in the number of children sending sexually explicit text messages, a child protection expert has warned.
Life News: In the wake of a petition demanding that the cable television channel TLC cancel “19 Kids and Counting” because of the Duggar Family’s pro-life and Christian views, thousands of pro-life people have signed a counter petition supporting them.
Life Site News: A Change.org petition by gay activists has garnered nearly 100,000 signatures asking The Learning Channel to cancel the hugely popular “19 Kids and Counting” show.
First Things: Ryan Anderson and others (including Doug Wilson) wonder how I can support the Marriage Pledge. It asks pastors and priests to refrain from signing government provided marriage certificates, but allows and even encourages the newly wed couple to march down to the courthouse to get the government contract.
The Washington Post: With the winds of national press attention at its back, a change.org petitionurging TLC to cancel “19 Kids and Counting” has racked up more than 100,000 signatures. The reason, as stated by the petition’s creator: Recent anti-gay statements made by members of the Duggars, the family that stars on the popular TLC show.
Docsandlin: First Things (FT) has launched a crusade to get pastors out of the marriage-ceremony-performing business, or, as they would no doubt prefer, out of the business of government-sanctioned marriage-ceremony performance. The problem for “The Marriage Pledge” they are pushing is that these two practices are identical.
Doug Wilson: So how are we to respond to this? A marriage pledge is being promoted at First Things, in which the undersigned ministers promise to cease cooperating with the civil magistrate on all things marriage. They will cease being agents for the state in weddings, and this in protest of the radical redefinition of marriage that is now underway in our culture.
First Things: The Marriage Pledge is not spiteful, as Andrew Sullivan suggests. Nor is it an act of aggression designed to destroy the “middle ground” Sullivan would like us to agree to occupy as members of a liberal society. On the contrary, it is an effort by Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz to encourage the Church to act in a way that is true to the meaning of marriage.
Public Discourse: “Marriage is on the wane . . . no amount of wishful thinking will bring it back,” says Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution in her new book, Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage.
Aleteia: How can the erosion of the marriage culture best be resisted? For Professor Robert George, the battle to uphold matrimony will come to us, but it must begin where marriage has been eroded and by protecting religious liberty.
Mere Orthodoxy: One of the defining debates concerning the Affordable Care Act concerned the nature of religious belief. Was “religion” simply something one practiced during public worship services or was it something larger than that that could touch all of life?
First Things: It’s time to make a clear distinction between the government-enforced legal regime of marriage and the biblical covenant of marriage.
The Christian Post: Pope Francis began the gathering of international religious leaders this morning with a clear message that marriage and family are in trouble in large part because some are yielding the truth to trends. “In our day,” he said to the gathering of international religious and cultural leaders, “marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.”
The Christian Post: The head of the Roman Catholic Church declared during a conference on Monday that marriage is by definition a union of man and woman, defying past claims by some that the Church was considering a change in its views on same-sex unions and sexuality.
Christian News Network: Nang and Chris Mai operate Urloved Photography–that is, until recently, when the couple announced that it was discontinuing its business due to harassment from homosexual advocates over making a referral rather than agreeing to shoot a same-sex ceremony.
Religion News Service: Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday (Nov. 18) and said it is destroying the institution of marriage.
Christianity Today: It is my contention that, while movies and television cannot be blamed exclusively for our society’s rejection of theologically conservative ideas about marriage, they have certainly made it easier for our neighbors to imagine that such a marriage, especially its exclusive status, is impossible or undesirable. I also contend that we have not fully reckoned with the power of the artistic imagination.
Family Studies: When my wife and I first moved to the suburbs we struggled to find the kinds of friendships we had left behind in New York, where we had attended college and where many of our college friends had remained.
First Things: We don’t speak plainly in public discourse anymore. Rather, we equivocate and deploy euphemisms to sanitize our debates. Take the passing of Brittany Maynard by her own hand, which the media has repeatedly characterized as an act of “dignity.” To be sure, Maynard died with human dignity—but not because she committed suicide. Human dignity is intrinsic. Indeed, to accept the premise of suicide as death with dignity says—or at least strongly implies—that patients who expire naturally die with indignity.
Public Discourse: A model developed by developmental psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, paired with the example of the pro-life movement, may demonstrate a new way forward in rehabilitating marriage.
Alliance Defending Freedom: Last week the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, (ERLC) put on a national conference on The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage. I attended the conference, and was excited to see if there would be any new ways they were communicating the marriage message in light of recent legal and cultural developments on the issue.
First Things: She has been especially forthcoming about sex—repeatedly exposing herself on screen in ways that seem deliberately self-degrading—because she believes sex is never done rightly unless it is also discussed.
NPR: If you went to a wedding this summer, there is a better-than-even chance that the happy couple was already living together. Today, more than 65 percent of first marriages start out that way. Fifty years ago, it was closer to 10 percent.
The Christian Post: In my opinion, failure to recognize diverse gifts may explain why many people are divided on the issue of religion and politics. For instance, John MacArthur, James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Tony Perkins, Francis Chan, D. James Kennedy and so on have/had different ministries, but all fall under the umbrella of Christian service.
National Review: Transparent is one of Amazon’s early attempts at keeping up with Netflix’s impressive lineup of original new shows (House of Cards, Peaky Blinders, etc.), but it feels more like an attempt to win Best New Cultural Indoctrination Vehicle at Sundance than something intended to attract new viewers/subscribers.
Religion News Service: The Vatican will host religious leaders from across the religious spectrum later this month for a conference where they are expected to defend traditional marriage as between a man and a woman.
The Wall Street Journal (Accessible via Google): A landmark gathering of Southern Baptists here opened with Albert Mohler, the stalwart head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, apologizing for “denying the reality of sexual orientation,” but saying orientation “can change.” It closed with a pastor saying “no one goes to hell for being homosexual” but that Christians must remind gay friends and family members “the day of judgment is coming.”
Life News: Earlier this month, The Huffington Post published an excerpt of Katha Pollitt’s new book, “Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.” The excerpt is titled “The Abortion Conversation We Need to Have”and starts with Pollitt”s statement that abortion “is a common, even normal, event in the reproductive lives of women.”
Life News: Brittany Maynard has officially decided to delay her decision to kill herself under Oregon’s assisted suicide law on November 1. She says it “doesn’t seem like the right time now” to end her life.
Churches should shift priorities from defending to re-teaching marriage, say ERLC conference panelists
The Christian Post: A panel of Christian leaders sounded off on the current state marriage and the distorted view young adults have of its meaning at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s National Conference held this week in Nashville.
Patheos (Eidos): Nobody needs me to list reasons for worry. I am worried about the state of the Union, the direction of the global economy, and the rise of Christian persecution. All true, all requiring prayer, and none of it going away. And yet Jesus is Lord.
Patheos (Standing on my Head): The Synod fathers this month were trying to address a real crisis in the human race: the disintegration of the family. The problems are very complex and are not simply a matter of people disobeying God’s law and running around with whoever they please.
Nashville Public Radio: Southern Baptists say they’ve gotten some things wrong on homosexuality, but they still see acceptance of same-sex marriage as a line that cannot be crossed.
LifeWay Research: Americans disagree about mixing religion and politics and about the Bible. And few pay much heed to their pastor’s sermons or see themselves as sinners.
The Federalist: On same-sex marriage, we have to protect the freedom to say and do things that the mainstream finds repugnant.
The Washington Times: Jackie Hill-Perry considers herself not merely an agent of change, but its embodiment as well. A Christian spoken-word poet from Chicago, Ms. Hill-Perry professes to be a former lesbian — a change she ascribes to God.
The Daily Signal: Thirty-two percent of the growth in family income inequality since 1979 can be linked to the decline in the marriage rate.
Aleteia: Marriage scholars do emphasize the economic and educational gains married men enjoy. At a press luncheon last Tuesday, Robert I. Lerman and W. Bradford Wilcox discussed the findings from their new report, “For Richer, For Poorer: How Family Structures Economic Success in America.” They found that married men earn at least $15,900 more per year in individual income compared their single peers, while black married men earn $12,000 more and married men with a high school degree or less earn $17,000 more.
Juicy Ecumenism: “When we come to an event like this we have to have our hearts broken, not about their sin but about ours,” said Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and ERLC 2014’s opening keynote speaker. Mohler even shared, “I repent of denying that sexual orientation was legitimate.”
Christian News Network: The University of California’s San Francisco campus has launched the nation’s first-ever online abortion class, creating both interest and outrage across the nation.
Christian News Network: Citing procedural errors, a top United Methodist judicial council has affirmed the reinstatement of a Pennsylvania minister who was defrocked last year after he refused to neither repent for officiating a same-sex “marriage” or to relinquish his ministerial license over his rebellion against Church law.
Family Studies: When my husband and I moved into a working class community in southwestern Ohio, the parenting gap became a daily reality. As young parents ourselves with a three year old and seven month old, we have a lot in common with many of our neighbors—like the fact that we love our children to death and would do anything to help them succeed.
The Heritage Foundation: America exists to defend the unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These truths have been challenged in the past 50 years in ways that Ronald Reagan could not have imagined in 1964. Unless they are protected in law and—more important—lived out in culture, constitutional self-government will be increasingly at risk. In this new time for choosing, we must return to the synthesis of the American Founding: ordered liberty based on faith and reason, natural rights and morality, limited government and civil society—with the laws of nature and nature’s God providing the standard.
First Things: The rapid shift in public opinion isn’t the product of superior argument. Arguments have been made, but the emotional symbolics of tolerance, love, and equality have been far more decisive than any detailed arguments—even in the courts.
Summit: Since the 1960s, the predictable slide of collegiate culture toward a bacchanal of sexual permissiveness has upended the old-fashioned view that men and women fill distinct roles in relationships. For generations, women played the pursued, men the pursuers. In a culture that placed a premium on virginity, a young woman needed no excuse to refuse sex. Her default answer was “no.”
Nathan Cherry: Did you know that you only believe those things because you are a simplistic minion incapable of intelligent, independent thought that has been brainwashed by “evil pro-lifers”? That is the conclusion of a new book proudly advocating abortion on demand and the book review given by a staunch abortion supporter.