Religious Liberty as the Foundation for Pro-Life and Pro-Family Policies

Just over three weeks ago, I spent several days in Salt Lake City attending the World Congress of Families IX. I was privileged to speak during one of the plenary sessions on the closing day of the congress. The title of my session was “Religious Liberty as the Foundation for Pro-Life and Pro-Family Policies.” Video from my session (and many others) is now available on the WCF YouTube channel.

As part of my presentation, I noted that there are three distinct areas where we can see the influence of religious liberty in support of pro-life and pro-family policies. These three areas are marriage, healthcare, and education.

In my conclusion, I noted the following:

At the end of the day, religious liberty sets the foundation upon which we can build the best pro-life and pro-family policies. However, these policies are not simply going to come about because a nation has religious liberty protections. Such policies are still dependent upon people of faith exercising their beliefs in the public square to give a convincing argument for why God’s design for life and family is the most beneficial for the good of society. It is when people of faith practice their faith in a society that respects their right to freely exercise such faith that we will see the most effective pro-life and pro-family policies.

I was honored to be a part of the program for the World Congress of Families. The mission of WCF is to “provide sound scholarship and effective strategies to affirm and defend the natural family, thus encouraging a sustainable and free society.” This was the first congress held in the United States. I attended my first congress in Warsaw, Poland in 2007.

On a personal note, it was fun to “teach” a little Baptist history to such an ecumenical group. In fact, most of the questions I received throughout the rest of the day related to church history. It reminded me how little people know about the history of Christianity and how important it is to continue teaching our history as Christians (and Baptists).

Good Reading: So I Can Minister to Them

wedding ringsWaylan Owens, my friend and colleague at SWBTS, has written a very pertinent post regarding the role of pastors in officiating wedding ceremonies in light of the current same-sex marriage debate. With years of experience as a pastor and seminary professor, Dr. Owens’ words hit the nail on the head. Here is an excerpt:

This is an open post to pastors and to all ordained ministers who hold firmly to the Scriptures.

The time of testing is here. However the Supreme Court rules on the matter, marriage between two men or between two women is here to stay. Legislators have found little strength to fight this movement, and it will not go away. So, pastors, now is the time to be sure you are prepared.

Do not be fooled. As homosexual marriage is legalized, pastors will have to come face to face with reality and answer this question: If I have married people without requiring biblical standards, based upon the fact that I could minister to them, how can I not do the same for homosexual couples? I believe that many will begin to answer the question with the same old answer: I do it so that I can minister. This will happen first in liberal churches and in churches in which significant members have children who have declared as homosexuals. But I fear it will spread. And as it spreads, pastor, if you try to draw the line at homosexuals, you will be attacked as homophobic and worse, especially if you are not applying a consistent biblical standard.

It is worth your time to read the entire post here.

More than Women’s Health: Responsibility and Consequences in the Abortion Debate

Texas State Capitol at dusk.

On Monday afternoon, I boarded a bus at my church and traveled to the state capitol building in Austin, Texas to attend the Stand4Life rally. Texas has been in the spotlight recently for the pro-life legislation that has been making its way through the state legislature. The proposed bill would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation, require abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and ensure that doctors providing abortions had admission rights at a hospital within 30 miles.

Abortion-rights advocates have fought hard to keep the bill from passing, but it seems imminent that the bill will be signed into law in the coming weeks. Why would opponents of the bill work so hard to prevent the regulation proposed in the legislation? There are two main ideas that drive their thinking—choice without responsibility and sex without consequences.

Read the rest of my article here.

*I have the privilege of being a contributor to the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s Public Square Channel. I will be writing articles for them periodically and linking back to their page from here. Find out more about CBMW at www.cbmw.org.

This is an interesting question raised by Waylan Owens. What are your thoughts? Is marriage a primary, secondary, or tertiary doctrine?

This is a good article from SWBTS student and Land Center research associate, Trey Dimsdale.

Law and the Created Order

I had the privilege of traveling to San Diego, CA last month to attend the Ruth Institute’s It Takes a Family to Raise a Village Conference.   The conference is targeted at college-aged students and provides them the opportunity to learn from and interact with very notable scholars who work in the field of marriage and family in their respective disciplines.  Speakers included economists, attorneys, activists, a medical doctor, and theologians all presenting persuasive arguments in support of natural, man/woman marriage.  I wish a similar program had been available when I was a college student and even more, I hope that if it had, I would have had the wisdom to avail myself of it.

The highlight of the weekend in my estimation was a conversation between Drs. Robert Gagnon (of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) and Jennifer Roback Morse (of the Ruth Institute) and The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson (Bishop of the…

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