Are we so obsessed with security that we have lost our humanity?

I have been careful not to go full tilt on many things in this administration. The fact is, it really just causes us stress and energy to spend time analyzing it all. I have watched some of my more liberal-minded friends, from the day President Trump was elected, devote copious amounts of time to finding every bad decision or stupid comment the president has made and then finding commentaries about it and post these on social media, as if their rants could expel him. The venom and hate may sound more intellectual than a poorly capitalized tweet, but it’s non-productive, so I have been careful about speaking. I can’t now. When children are separated from families, creating separation and attachment trauma, I cannot remain silent.

1) I am pro-life, and this is a pro-life issue. Not everyone agrees with me, but when you rip children from their parents, who are obviously in a desperate situation anyway or they wouldn’t be trying to cross a border, you purposely create attachment related trauma for them. The younger they are, the worse it is. Unlike abortion, of course, it is possible to recover, but the road can be hard and long, depending on varying factors. Using children as pawns is abhorrent. As a (small voice) of pro-life leadership in this nation, I fully condemn every ounce of this despicable practice and call on our leaders to return these children to their families–with apologies (some money for counseling might be helpful too). This punishment of children does not fit the alleged crime of the parents.

2) Jeff Sessions’ misuse of the Bible to justify this practice is just that: A misuse. The Bible clearly shows that when the law of the land commands something against God’s law, we are to honor the higher law. Here’s some of what God says about these children and families among us:

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against [those] who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. (Ezekiel 16:49)

Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

There are a few groups the Bible explicitly speaks about who God’s heart is especially bent toward, to whom we are told to give special care–the orphan, the fatherless, and the widow are the ones we tend to focus on, but the stranger and alien are also included. God is far less concerned with our border wall than we are.

3) Our leaders are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

President Trump said in a tweet today:

He also commented, “I hate the children being taken away.”

Let me be clear: The Democrats are not the ones tearing up families and creating trauma for small children. And no, sir, you do not “hate” the children being taken away since you have the power to stop it in a minute.

A Washington Post article notes that one of the leaders of a “compromise bill” said, “We are fixing family separation within this bill and have made changes to keep children with at least one of their parents.”

This is not a fix. If little Johnny has lived his 5 years on earth with mommy and daddy and daddy gets pulled away and he can’t see him, do we really think, “well it’s okay, he has mommy so he won’t be traumatized.” I implore our leaders to study attachment and trauma. If they need someone to speak to them about it, they should call me. I won’t even charge them for my expertise.

Also, according to the Post:

Because of a 1997 court settlement that bars children from being imprisoned with parents, Justice Department officials now say they have no choice but to isolate the children.

They have a choice. In fact, as the New York Times points out:

Mr. Trump was misrepresenting his own policy. There is no law that says children must be taken from their parents if they cross the border unlawfully, and previous administrations have made exceptions for those traveling with minor children when prosecuting immigrants for illegal entry. A “zero tolerance” policy created by the president in April and put into effect last month by the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, allows no such exceptions, Mr. Trump’s advisers say.

They have chosen to incite fear and terror in children. Abhorrent isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s the best I can do right now.

4) The White House reports that 1995 children have been separated from their parents. That’s an entire small town of children. And that number comes directly from the White House. Who knows when that number was submitted and how many more have been since then? Or if there are more not counted. Let’s face it, this administration has not given much respect to immigrants in general.

5) Securing borders from criminals and terrorists is important, but punishing and oppressing common people to do this is reprehensible. Having just returned from Israel and Palestine, I have seen the long-term damage policies like this have created. Israel has done with this Palestinians, and the only people it benefits are Israelis–often at the expense of children and families. There is such an obsession with securing borders there that even native born Israelis who happen to be Palestinians (born in Jerusalem–legally, I might add, but of Palestinian descent, for example) are denied passports and may even be separated from their families. This has happened with a close friend, whose husband has to live away from the family–his girls grew up without their dad around much of their life, continuing to this day. This happened to a girl from Gaza a few months ago. It’s heartbreaking to realize the pain she went through just from this temporary situation, as she cried, “I want my mother! I don’t want anything else, I just want my mother to be with me.”

We should not aspire to be so obsessed with security that we deny humanity. This is not the will of God for us. Mr. Sessions and Mr. Trump, both of whom invoke the Bible, should know this if they are speaking from the standpoint of truth. And whatever is not true is a lie.

I commend the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as people like Rev. Samuel Rodriguez (who prayed at the president’s inauguration), Franklin Graham, who has been been reluctant to criticize most of the time. Criticism for the sake of complaining and venting is fruitless; however, criticism that calls people to account and leads others to action is righteous. We should all be speaking out against this. It was the Evangelical vote that elected this administration, and now it is violating the word of God, so it is on us to address it or be complicit.

As for Mr. Sessions suddenly choosing to carry out such cruelty to those who cannot speak for themselves, he should resign immediately. There is nothing humane about this policy; there is nothing pro-life about this policy. To destroy secure attachment in innocent children under the guise of national security is destructive to our nation on this side of the border. Then again, the us-four-and-no-more mentality has always been a prison for those who believe it’s right.

Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.  Proverbs 31:8-9

 

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Not ambidextrous, just double-minded

Christians, pro-lifers, we have a heartbreaking problem. Yet again today I encountered a familiar name–a governor, one I’ve written about often. A proclaimed Christian. A pro-lifer. One of the good ones, who has signed incredible pro-life legislation. I have found myself writing stories about these folks and declaring “I LOVE YOU!” at the screen, meaning I love what they are doing and uncompromising truth that comes forth, rallying for LIFE.

And then.

Then the nation turned its focus to education. Hear me. Not to teacher greed and fights against administrators, but to the situations of students, classrooms, materials, texts, heating and air conditioning, mold. The nation has been focused on this–especially with Oklahoma’s recent outcry. Now we have Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and West Virginia was before Oklahoma. More will be coming, by the way, just watch.

And then we have social programs, such as WIC, prenatal care, housing for the poor. These are lifelines for the women we plead with to keep their babies.

I could make this an incredibly long post. I could detail every pro-life legislator I used to respect, from our local state house, to governors across our nation. And I could show you how ANTI-life some of them are.

See, life is about more than being sure that baby is not aborted. That is the most urgent of crises because it’s happening this moment and waiting even a day could cost a life. I get that and stand behind that. But after she says okay, she will keep her baby, to cut her programs that help her, to reduce budgets for social services, to underfund and reduce funding year-by-year for schools, and to sign pro-life legislation with one hand and then sign away bills that support life with the other makes these leaders not ambidextrous, just double-minded. And the Bible has some things to say about that.

Here in my state, the strongest voice supporting a funded and equal education in our legislature, a hero to us all, is a Democrat. Sadly, he cannot run again due to term limits.  The entire Democratic platform states its pro-abortion rights stance. But then I found out–from a very reliable source who has worked with him–that this man is a practicing Catholic, and is genuinely pro-life. See, real pro-life is wonb-to-the-tomb. You can’t do one without the other. That is the reason we have accusations railed at us that “they only care about the baby being born.” How dare we? What a despicable shame if our definition of pro-life is simply to prevent abortion. That is step one! You cannot be pro-life and support any abortion. You simply can’t. It is never okay to say a child may die.

However, it is also never okay to say now that the child has lived, we’re done. I am ashamed of these leaders who I thought were on my side, who have signed good legislation, such as forbidding abortion because a baby is diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome. Of course no child should die because of this. But many parents of a special needs child will tell you if not for public school programs, their child would not have made as many strides. When you cut funding to schools, when you hire people who aren’t even real teachers and are so shorthanded, then that the one certified teacher you do have is doing all the IEPs and paperwork all day long (because legally she has to), and the children with profound needs are at the hands of someone who doesn’t have any real teaching skill, who is learning on the job with these precious children as guinea pigs. That’s one of a multitude of disastrous examples that should remind legislators they should stop being so proud they signed that important bill to help the child live, as if that were the end. Yes, that was good, but how are you helping the child live now? What sort of programs will you have in place when he turns 21 and can’t have those special services? If you cut those too, he’s stuck. Surprise, a parent can’t do everything for some special needs children without help, especially a parent without a lot of money. And those poor women are the ones who often go for abortions–and are recruited by Planned Parenthood, I might add, especially minorities. What promise of life can our state, our nation, give these people?

What about those kids in foster care? DHS is both underfunded and shorthanded? To call yourself pro-life and cut these areas that serve and help children is plainly immoral.

To be pro-life is to be pro-child.

We can say “the real answer is that state agencies need to be audited” (they do). Or that “school districts (DHS, healthcare agencies) need to trim the fat off the administrative costs and all that money will exist” (we could all use some trimming, just like the legislature, but that’s an exaggeration that all the money will reappear.

We have a tragic problem. I think it’s both political problem and a church problem; the church is in collusion with bad politics and calls it Jesus when He doesn’t endorse such practices either. I cannot in good conscience call myself a Republican based on what I have seen even in my own state. But I clearly cannot back a party who has abortion rights as a key area of its platform, so I am certainly not a Democrat. Nor do I care much about those labels. To me, the only reason to register under one is to vote in primaries.

We need to be genuine Christians who have a big picture of what it means to be pro-life. That means being pro-education, pro-state human services. Look, you guys, I realize that in some states being pro-education and pro-state human services then crosses the Christian’s moral lines. But looking at many of these conservative states that claim, fallaciously, to be Christian, we see that these moral issues don’t come into play–other than the immorality of what we do to children, the elderly, the school system, et al.

In the recent Oklahoma education battle, many Christians condemned the walkout because OEA was a leader of it,and OEA is the state affiliate of NEA. That much is true. But what no one who cried moral foul ever pointed out was that 1) OEA has no power over Oklahoma schools because they are not unionized. 2) There has been zero debate over issues that compromise Christianity in the walkout; this has been about basics, not sex ed, questionable curriculum, or anything else like that. 3) Thousands of the teachers and principals–and superintendents–these people who supported it–were not even OEA members or supporters. But some threw away the whole movement because NEA has some ideas of propagating perversion. Know what? It DOES. But NEA isn’t running these non-unionized schools. Are we so narrow minded that we cannot critically think and understand the real issue? I read ministry letters that discussed the walkout and had the facts wrong! Things I knew first hand were reported inaccurately and a whole argument was based on it.

Christianity is about truth, about living an upright life that emulates Jesus. That means not hindering children–in the womb or out. It means speaking truth, whether that is getting the facts, not hiding behind a ghostwriter that we never give credit to but “we always wanted to write a book” or anything else morally questionable. We are to be above reproach, not walking the blurry line of “how far can I go?” The whole WWJD movement wasn’t really a bad idea as far as how we should think. Would Jesus choose to support the oil and gas industry that gave top dollar in election donations over being sure kids who are educated in 105 degree heat are allowed a working air conditioner or books that actually discuss 9-11 because they were published after 2001? Really? Do we have to ask this?

I considered running for state representative this year. My current representative is infamous in our state for being anti-education–despite coming from a family of educators. He likes to vote for positive teacher bills, but will never actually vote to fund these bills because “I have to do right by [the oil and gas industry”; he said that. But if I were elected, unlike some representatives, my job is such that it would be a conflict-of-interest, so I would lose it run for representative I would lose my job, and I know I am making an impact where I am as well and this is not the time to do that. But Christians, if you have a lick of political sense, and you can actually be wholly pro-life and defend the causes of Jesus, not of rich corporate executives, then please consider running. Whether it’s giant border walls that invest unreal amounts of money to keep the alien and stranger out, rather than simply dealing with lawbreakers as infractions occur, or whether it’s choosing to undertax big business, giving them tax breaks that are so high that the common resident actually suffers, these “Republican” and/or “conservative” ideals are anti-Jesus.

I honestly see that our testimony as Christians is suffering nationwide; no wonder other nations send missionaries to us now! A friend recently made a Facebook post of how we are so quick to overlook and forgive President Trump’s repeated sexual affairs, harassment, indiscretions–and foul language. Yet when we in the church make a negative comment about those issues–or even question the testimony we’re making by publicly supporting these things–we are not forgiven nearly as quickly; in fact, a majority seem to receive anger, criticism, judgement (“why are you persecuting him?”) and all sorts of negative responses–so that forgiveness only seems to extend to one side to most.

I don’t know who you hang out with or how much you see going on in the nation, but because of some unique experiences and perspectives I have, I see a lot. Additionally, I am well-read and well-traveled, with myriad friends on both sides of the aisles, as well as in the crevices. And I can tell you, with confidence, the Christian witness has been compromised, is being compromised. It is very easy for me to understand this “progressive” Christian movement. I disagree with it and know it undermines the gospel, but I see the power to draw people because the heart of Christianity is social justice–life more abundant. Salvation is step one, but we are meant to thrive. When we see leaders in bed with both big business, as well as with women who are not their wives–and we excuse it, many seek a more genuine Christianity. Sadly, some are deceived into thinking a progressive gospel is the answer. It’s not. The gospel is an uncompromising truth and must include an inerrancy of Word of God. But the gospel’s real focus on money is about giving it away and helping others. The gospel is founded on “God so loved that He gave.” The gospel is about letting children and families thrive, of caring for the poor, of loving the unlovable–all without compromising truth. The progressive church compromises truth, but an increasing large chunk of the rest of us compromise the spirit of the gospel. Jesus never put the focus on making more money above caring for people. But you’d never know it listening to my representative who is continually introduced as a “man of faith and family… teaches Sunday school….” It almost would be better not to mention our faith if our proclamations of faith causes others to stumble. I have watched person after person leave all organized religion and churches over the compromise. There is a significant difference between the old line of “They are all hypocrites” and expecting perfection out of imperfect people. That won’t ever happen. But that’s not the same as churches, pastors, leaders, elected officials who name the name of Jesus, saying and doing things, not as mistakes but as a justified lifestyle.

Look, people, I like money too. I am raising money right now–or am trying too–we’re stuck at the moment–for a pro-life trip to help orphans. I am paying down a bazillion dollars of student loans and would love is oil and gas could line my pockets. I work for a very poor state, but I am in a fringe group that does not get raises when there is a “state employee pay raise.” My own boss has been here almost 30 years and he makes only about 5K more than I do in base pay. We don’t get raises. I like raises. I need money. But never at the expense of compromising livelihood. I am not a Socialist. I want to keep what I earn. I don’t like taxes, but if I see that children are suffering and a small tax increase can change that, I care more about those children than I do my pocketbook.  To think that public education doesn’t impact us, when in my state alone 92% of all students are publicly educated is a short-sighted view. These are the people working in our communities, who are our society. Same with social services, Meals on Wheels, you name it.   It is not a Socialist ideology that votes for those who will do the most good for all of society vs. the rich. If the gospel is not about us and our wants, why do we change that when it comes to politics? We can’t–at least not if we think we’re walking in truth.

I challenge you: either be pro-life or don’t, but this lukewarm Christianity movement is making us taste like something the world wants to spit out of their mouth.

At the end of the day, when I try to look through this with the eyes of Jesus. I look long and hard at that Democratic legislator who is pro-life and votes for babies, participates in pro-life marches, etc. (it’s legit to be Democratic at the state level and be pro-life; nationally, it would be impossible to be elected and actually maintain that, sadly), who also supports schools, healthcare (no Planned Parenthood or pro-abortion issues in our state healthcare agenda, by the way, so that one isn’t in play). Sure, he probably has some views that need refining. He has flaws, perhaps flaws in how he upholds some areas of righteousness as we all do. But I think Jesus would see him as a flawed but righteous man trying to legislate. I also think Jesus, from what I know of Him from His own Word, would be much less pleased with the Republican who writes pro-life bills every session but votes against everything that would help other people, especially those moms–and doing so at the expense of profiting the rich, not only in legitimate ways since they worked hard for their money, but literally letting them pay less than anyone else so they will come running to our state–causing us to have the opposite of abundant life due to the catastrophic financial situations we end up living as a society.

There is a reason Jesus said it is easier to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And in American politics, I see it more than ever.

I am grieved to my core when I see leaders in our states who claim to love Jesus, speak of their faith, and then, apart from the “big two” issues of faith that merge with government, do everything to undermine the heart of God for the people they are elected to serve, lead, or minister to.

When the history books are rewritten and public schools can afford to buy them, which chapter will you appear in:

  1. Democrats and their rule in the land?
  2. Republicans and their rule in the land?
  3. Jesus followers and their rule in the land?

Hint: only one is eternal.

Every Christian must be involved in adoption—without exception

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”- Galatians 4:4-6

Adoption is a legal contract in which a child not born of DNA becomes as real as one who is. Unfortunately, the Christian church mostly sees adoption in the same way as Islam does.

Those of us engaged in the pro-life movement can recite some of the core scriptures we use in advocating adoption. In particular are these (All scriptures cited in this blog are ESV):

  • “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” –James 1:27
  • “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” –Malachi 4:5-6

While these verses may seem overused, they also are foundational for orphan and family ministries. I’ll come back to these in a minute. But let me shift to the religious differences between Islam and Christianity. I doubt I have to lay out much of an argument showing how these top two world religions are so different. “Of course they are different!” most Christians would exclaim. “Jesus is the truth and Islam is a lie.” The chorus from Christians sounds something like that; however, sans the remnant who is adopting and working to expand this area in the church, much of the church lives with an Islamic ideology when it comes to family.

Bear with me as I take us all back to the very basics of the Gospel. Again, these are phrases and verses we hear so often, we often take them for granted. Few would disagree that the single verse that encompasses the gospel is John 3:16:

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

That core verse that is the essence of our salvation is only part of God’s family story. To understand the entire gospel is to understand adoption, for it was in Jesus that we were allowed to be “grafted in” (See Romans chapter 11 for an in-depth explanation of this reality). Familiar refrains of scripture remind us of the truth of the gospel as it related to adoption, as well:

  • When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4-7)
  • You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:15-17)
  • He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

These verses are only a few of myriad examples of the reality that the gospel has adoption at its very core. Without adoption, every Gentile would be without access to the Father. When Jesus died, He made a way for all Gentiles to become sons and daughters. A legitimate, real, legal son or daughter. Perhaps no piece of writing about adoption has impacted me as much as John Piper’s essay, “Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel”—please lay aside any opinions you have of the man or his doctrinal beliefs about other things because his teaching on adoption is 100% biblical. If you only want to skim, please focus your attention on these two of the eight points he makes:

  • Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.
  • Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.

I return you to James 1:27 and Malachi 4:5-6 now, where I began. The Bible implores us to care for orphans (and widows, but that’s a point for another post). The Bible is clear that God is going to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of their children to their fathers. The Bible is also clear that without these things happening, we’re in trouble—whether it be “stained by the world” or worse, having the earth stuck with a “decree of destruction” (some translations say “curse,”) these are not multiple choice questions for God the Father.

To care for the orphan, to care for the fatherless, we must give them status as a son or daughter. If they cannot be reconciled to their families and are able to be adopted, to do anything less is to shortchange them.

 

Family is our core. Even if we had a rotten family experience, it’s still our core. Our identity was forged in family—or from lack of it. If we had a healthy and godly family experience, it probably shaped our view of God in a positive way. Seeing God as Father was a natural extension. Sadly, that’s not the reality for many in modern times, but that’s why there are so many inner healing ministries focus on mother and father issues. We were destined to be in family. God’s plan was family, on earth as it is in heaven.

Adoption is truly a legal contract. There’s no way around it. When a child is adopted, he or she becomes as much of an heir as the children birthed who share DNA. There is absolutely no distinction in the law, or in the hearts of adoptive parents; all their children are their children. For parents, bringing children into their family, their “labor” included home studies and legal paperwork; for others, it was 32 hours of labor with or without an epidural. But there was still labor, as Piper posits.

For the church to understand the gospel we must understand adoption. This is not a side ministry for a few committed pro-life Christians. This is the core of being a Christian. While every single member of the body of Christ is not called to personally adopt, every single one is called to be a part of adoption in one way or another; adoption is the very heart of Christianity. For some, it’s financial, supporting a family as they, on a moderate income, navigate the legal costs involved in adoption. Some provide nannying, babysitting, or respite care to adoptive families. Whether it is serving an adopted family or becoming one who adopts, real Christianity has no out clause on the adoption question. Adoption is the central theme of the gospel. Further, James makes it clear that “faith without works is dead.” Thus, to understand the gospel core and not act on it is an indictment of our faith.

Christian Islam?

Now let’s shift gears to the opposite of Christianity: Islam. We know some basic differences. We’ve certainly heard the scare tactics preached about Islam. We tell stories of bombs and destruction, neglecting to acknowledge the many Muslims who actually do live in peace—at least socially speaking, for Islam is antithetical to Christianity. This is evident in multitudinous ways, but none is as obvious as Islam’s views on family and adoption.

I have shared with many about my own adoption from the Middle East. I was born in Bethlehem to an unwed mother. In that society a woman is not allowed to keep her child, even if she desires to do so. It is a scandalous shame to the culture. If the family is Christian, women will often be allowed to birth their child and place the child in an orphanage. In Islam, the woman can be killed to “avenge the family honor.” In fact, Jordan only recently banned honor killings. It is an astounding fact to us here in the United States, but it’s reality in Palestine, Jordan, and surrounding regions. Whether it’s legal or not, honor killings still occur today, but usually if the baby lives, he or she is given over to an orphanage. And it’s what happens then that feels so hopeless.

The sad truth is that, under current laws in Palestinian areas, a child is destined to forever be illegitimate. Up until a few years ago, some of those children could be adopted, but an immigration law a few years ago changed that. This law means certain paperwork must be generated for the child to be adopted, and some of that paperwork deems the child Muslim. And there is no adoption in Islam. This was the horrible reality I faced when I began searching for answers about my own adoption, that led me to go back and fight for the right for those orphans to be adopted—despite Islamic law.

But if there’s no adoption, why are there Muslim “adoption” agencies? You have to read the fine print to understand why these agencies call themselves “adoption” agencies. For the sake of making a point here, I’m going to provide information from one of these places, New Star Kafala, which calls itself “A Muslim Adoption And Child Advocacy Agency.” However, a closer look at the fine print explains what “adoption” means in Islam. The link to the explanations is here. I encourage you to read it further, as it’s impractical to quote it all here, but it’s all worth reading and understanding. Here’s the summary, directly quoted from the aforementioned link, though I have added bolded emphasis to highlight some aspects:

“According to the Sharee’ah (Islamic law), there is no legal adoption. It is prohibited for a person to legally adopt a son or a daughter of whom he is not the biological father… According to the Quran, one cannot become a person’s real son merely by virtue of a declaration; Allah Says (what means): “…And He [i.e., Allah] has not made your claimed [i.e., adopted] sons your [true] sons. That is [merely] your saying by your mouths, but Allah says the truth, and He guides to the [right] way. Call them [i.e., the adopted children] by [the names of] their fathers; it is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, they are your brothers in religion…” [Quran 33: 4-5]

“…[A] figure of speech cannot make the blood of a man run through the veins of the adopted child, produce natural feelings of affection found in normal parent-child relationships, or transfer the genetic characteristics, or physical, mental, or psychological traits. Islam views adoption as a falsification of the natural order of society and reality. The prohibition of legal adoption in Islam was ordained to protect the rights of the adopted, adopter, biological parents, other individuals affected by the adoption, and society as a whole.

“The child is an extension of his father and the bearer of his characteristics. He takes his name and increases his progeny. Likewise, the child in Islam also has the equally inalienable right to legitimacy. The principle of legitimacy holds that every child shall have a father and one father only…. adoption cannot be used in Islam to hide the illegitimacy or the paternity of the child.

By adopting someone’s child as one’s own, the rightful and deserving heirs to the property of a man are deprived of their shares. Hence, Islam has made it Haraam (forbidden) for a father to deprive his natural children of inheritance. Allah has established the distribution of inheritance in order to give each eligible person his or her share. In matters of inheritance, the Quran does not recognise any claim except those based on relationship through blood and marriage. The Quran stipulates (what means): “…But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah is knowing of all things.” [Quran 8:75]

“If the adopted child were to receive a claim on the inheritance of the adopter, the real relatives may become rightfully angry feeling that the adopted child has received something that is not rightfully his, depriving them of their full inheritance. This could lead to quarrels, fights and the breaking of relations among relatives. Therefore, adoption is not conducive to family solidarity and overall harmony and peace, which are necessary for social stability.”

The post goes on to explain “Allowable Forms of ‘Adoption’ in Islam,” including “orphans” and “foundlings”:

“[Orphan adoption] is a completely different form of adoption, which is not prohibited by Islam – that is, when a man brings home an orphan and wants to raise, educate, and treat him as his own child. In this case, he protects, feeds, clothes, teaches, and loves the child as his own without attributing the child to himself, nor does he give him or her the rights which the Sharee’ah (Islamic Law) reserves for his natural children.

“A foundling or abandoned child is also regarded as an orphan, and one may apply the term ‘wayfarer’ to him as well. In this case too, as in that of orphans, the child’s lineal identity must be unchanged and parenthood to the natural parents should not be denied.

“If a man is childless and wishes to benefit such a child (orphan or foundling) from his wealth, he may give him whatever he wants during his lifetime.”

What this all means should cause a startling awakening for the church. In Islam, adoption is a violation of the law of Allah, and the only real and legitimate families are those born from the parents’ DNA. Blood family is the only “real” family in Islam. While Allah considers it a noble act to take in an orphan and raise him or her, there is a limit. That limit means the orphan is always second best to the natural born child. What a horrible burden to put on the adopted child, to walk his whole life, knowing he can never be a real son, knowing he is second best, an impure reflection of family. It is the opposite of real adoption, and the opposite of what God the Father ordained through Jesus. We are not second best because we are Gentiles. We were given access to the best, without restrictions or limitations. It cost God everything, but our adoption was worth everything to Him. Islam says the opposite.

We are quick to acknowledge that Islam is the opposite of Christianity, but much of the church lives with the Islamic paradigm about family. “Us four and no more,” “My blood is my family,” “I mean, I’d love to adopt but I can’t do that to my children…,” “I just don’t think I could love someone else’s child as my own the same way,” “It’s just different when it’s your own child,” “It would mess up our family dynamic to adopt an orphan, especially one who is older,” “I might consider it if I can’t get pregnant and all the fertility treatments don’t work, but that’s the only way I would” (second best). The list goes on. Many believers shudder at having an outsider over for a family gathering or holiday, let alone bringing that non-blood person into the family legally. They are afraid, they tell me, of how their birth children would feel if, for example, someone outside the family were invited to spend Christmas with them. These are phrases and ideas (excuses) I have actually heard people say over the years. While those comments have always grieved me to some degree, the impact of those phrases, those reflections of Christians’ very hearts, took on new meaning when I discovered what the Quran said about adoption.

We claim to be radical Christians. We will obey God, even when the world doesn’t, we boldly proclaim. We are not like “those Muslims.”

Except we are.

Every time we have a similar attitude about adoption—legal, authentic, heir-granting, costly adoption—every single time, we are channeling the spirit of the antichrist. We eschew movies with magic and demons, we homeschool to avoid the “evils” of public school, we have “trunk or treat” to avoid Halloween—but we live with the spirit of the antichrist in our own hearts with the way we view family and who can be legitimate.

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Tim and Janette with their daughters, Hannah and Bekah

God the Father gave His only son for the sake of adoption. This is not a feel-good memory verse we got a sticker for reciting in the second grade: this is reality. God, the creator of everything that exists, the One with all power, that same God gave His only son, His heir, His DNA, to allow us to be legally adopted into His family. Jesus was the legal contract—sealed with blood, written in the Word. Adoption is not merely a human declaration; it’s not a feeling. It is a legal contract, sealed in court records, stretching the family, creating heirs to the name, giving new identity to the adopted child.

The question we must ask ourselves, the question we must honestly answer before the Lord, is this: How can we truly love Him and not have a heart for adoption? We cannot reject what God has not only ordained, but given His son’s life to do for us. Jesus died to redeem us from the law that left us as orphans. This isn’t just a Bible story. It is reality.

When we reject adoption, when we call it second best, when we say “you’re just like family,” but we won’t pay the price to “make it real” if that person needs a family, when we refuse to give an orphan a birthright, we are reflecting Islam and the spirit of the antichrist.

Many of my friends are pioneers in the adoption revolution, which is small but mighty; there are two phrases I’ve often heard them say, which have never made more sense to me as they did upon discovering what Islam teaches about adoption and family.

  • Adoption is spiritual warfare.
  • The greatest evangelizing I do is through adoption.

Several years ago many teachers and preachers seemed to land on warning the church about the rise of Islam as it related to the growth of Christianity worldwide. We’re not talking “First Assembly of God in Anytown, USA” church growth, but the growth of Christianity worldwide versus the growth of Islam worldwide. Repeatedly, Islam was deemed the fastest growing religion, and the reason for that is related to family demographics: “Muslims have more children than members of the seven other major religious groups” and “In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility.” Thus, to battle the rise of Islam and its ideology, while ignoring adoption as a key in the process, we miss a key weapon of our warfare and reduce our evangelistic reach. If the heart of Christianity beats because of adoption, and the heart of Islam is opposed to it, what a force of spiritual warfare it is to be a key player in the adoption movement.

You know what happens to the kids in the orphanage where I was? They age out of there after a few years and go to children’s homes. Most of those homes are Islamic homes since the church is the ruling body in Palestine, where there is no national government. Therefore, they are set on a path to be Muslim orphans. Forever. And we, ourselves, were set on a path to be Gentile orphans forever. But God said otherwise. And He did otherwise when He gave His only son, his DNA, His seed, and let Him die so we could be reconciled to Him and no longer be orphans. We’ve heard that truth all of our Christian lives, yet I suspect we don’t really understand it. If we did, there wouldn’t be an orphan eligible for adoption. In the United States alone, about 100,000 orphans are eligible to be adopted just from foster care (and, sadly, adoptions in the United States are declining); worldwide, there are an estimated 140 million orphans. When we refuse to give a child a birthright and share our family, we proclaim the mindset of Allah, rather than that of God the Father.

Spiritual warfare and life-changing evangelism starts right in our homes and hearts. Adoption is not only for a select few who are called to it; we are all called to be a major player in adoption if we are children of God.

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Jonathan and Lisa with their daughter, Piper Rose

As Christians, we have a responsibility to be an active player in adoption, and, above all, we must support adoption boldly and vocally. We must eschew the ideologies of Islam, which is the spirit of the antichrist, and we must proclaim the truth of Christianity and the reality of adoption through Jesus Christ.

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

 

Selected Resources (feel free to add your own in the comments)

Yes, Mr. Blogger, LifeWay most certainly is pro-life

If you know me, you know that people joke I can make the Pope look pro-choice. I am pro-life to the nth degree, so much I irritate other pro-life Christians sometimes. There are places I won’t shop and things I won’t be involved with because of abortion ties. I research, read, write, and breathe LIFE. I say all this to say that the last thing you will ever find me doing is covering up for anyone in this arena.

That said, I am disturbed by a blog that is going around social media, in which the writer, Mike S. Adams, asserts that LifeWay’s book division is not pro-life. In his critical blog, Rightly Offended, Mr. Adams details his shopping trip to buy the new book on late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, entitled, Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer. After his attempt to order the book on Amazon was met with a lengthy shipping delay, he goes to Barnes and Noble to purchase it. Critically commenting on the store itself, he remarks his journey to a far corner of the store that held only one copy of the book, which was not discounted like other new releases (since it is on the main B&N site, he doesn’t say if he asked for the discount in case it was a store mistake). Upset, he headed to his local LifeWay store, which is the real subject of his blog—using the missing book to make a parallel with the church’s silence on abortion. He says:

After looking through the small section and not finding Gosnell, I approached the woman working at the register and asked her to direct me to the pro-life section. I was disappointed when she told me Lifeway doesn’t have a pro-life book section. All they have is a section called “current issues.” She assured me that I could find the pro-life books there.

I took a look through the entire “current issues” section. There were a few books on homosexuality and a few dozen by authors telling us they were sure the world was about to end. But there was no Gosnell and only one book on the issue of abortion. It was on how to share the gospel with a woman after she had an abortion. It was only about 100 pages long. Just to the right of the book, I found a “finance” shelf with close to fifty different selections.

That pretty well sums up the state of the American church. For every Christian committed to defending the unborn, there are fifty “Christians” who are only committed to defending their 401k.

I wish Lifeway would make a statement by putting a pro-life apologetics section in all of their stores. But they are a just a business that serves and reflects the interests of churchgoers rather than proactively shaping the Christian culture.

Regardless, the book selection at Lifeway is a crude reminder of the indisputable fact that abortion only exists with the consent of the church.

Some of you may be surprised to hear me counter this blog because I absolutely agree that the church, overall, is silent on the issue of abortion. But LifeWay isn’t. Let me take you back to the day I made history without even trying. LifeWay had published a Here’s Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Bible, but it donated some of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, who funds the nations number one abortion provider, a fact LifeWay, like many at that time, did not know. I wrote an article about this—and suddenly it was on the front page of every major media outlet in the nation (and some outside the nation). So horrified was LifeWay to realize they were funding a direct abortion connection that the pulled the Bible off every retailer and ceased the sales taking a heavy financial loss. LifeWay head, Thomas S. Rainer issued an apology:

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That action became a catalyst for Komen making a decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The head of Komen at the time Karen Handel wrote about it in her book Planned Bullyhood, saying that article was one of the last straws. (Eventually Komen caved to the bullying and reinstated the abortion giant’s funding, and Handel left and wrote her book).

I have to admit, I was stunned that LifeWay did what they did because Adams is right that usually even Christian businesses can tend to focus on the bottom line of the almighty dollar in cases like this, but not LifeWay. I realized then that this was a corporation that was truly Christian. The moment they realized the connection with abortion they apologized and reversed the action—true corporate repentance.

But the story didn’t end there. Many months later, it turned out that some employee in a Walmart warehouse found a box of the Bibles that were to be sent back and somehow got overlooked—and he put them on walmart.com for sale. I can’t even recall how I came across it, but I did. I was shocked. I ordered one (with the intention of returning it for a full refund) to be sure it was a legitimate order and not leftover. It shipped, and I contacted LifeWay, ready for a fight if they went back on their word. But there was nothing to fight about. They got to the bottom of it, the employee error, having those Bibles sent back, as they were supposed to be. I had managed to come across it the very time the rogue employee found them, so the Bibles were never sold. Except the one that got through to me.

During this time, I had a conversation with one of the heads of LifeWay. I had left the company a voicemail the night I found the Bibles, and he called me back at 10 a.m. the next day—apologizing for taking “so long” to get back to me. Of course, it wasn’t long at all, but that’s how urgent he saw it. When he received my message—which had to be sent from whomever checked the voicemail on to him, he headed to meeting of the leadership team at LifeWay who would be the ones to contact about the issue. He explained he finally found the leadership team and they were in a prayer meeting so then he had to wait longer while they finished. He was offering this by way of apology for his “delay” in returning my call. Then he explained how they had tracked down the Walmart mystery and there would be no sales of that Bible. Either way, they had pulled out of Komen, so the pink organization wouldn’t be getting anymore blood money, Bible or not.

I forget some of the details of our talk, but for some reason he had to email me something related to it later in the day. I will never forget that afternoon. It was a Wednesday. I was in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, laptop open, getting some work done, but enjoying the atmosphere. I can recall where I was sitting and the “feel” of the room based on the Wednesday regulars I would always see at the 4 p.m. intercession set. I have such sensory memories of that day because of the email exchange between the LifeWay leader and me. We had a brief email conversation the afternoon of our phone call, and then at the end of it, he added something I will never forget. He thanked me. He thanked me for writing the first article and exposing the connection because they would not have known otherwise. Because of that, he said, they were able to get that book off the shelves and not be a party to funding any place connected with abortion.

The man who is a leader in a business thanked me for costing him money and horrible publicity. I wrote an article that got them criticized and had the media descending on them. My article was quite critical, though it was also quite true. It cost them publicity, popular opinion—and cold hard cash. And that afternoon one of the heads of that organization thanked me for doing it because they had more interest in the truth and being no part of abortion than they did money.

And I cried.

Right there in the prayer room, with happy music coming from the stage, and intercessors pacing as they prayed, tears flowed from my eyes. They thanked me. They loved truth.

I’d just come out of a season of losing friends and even ministry because I had been so determined to stand pure in the area of abortion that I eschewed eating or drinking foods connected with its funding. I had refused to be associated with compromise, and it cost me (by the way I don’t regret that either). And people were upset with me because they felt “judged” or that I was too “self-righteous.” In truth, I could do nothing else because the Lord had drawn me into the pro-life movement with a powerful and unmistakable call. And then He gave me both a voice and a pen to speak. But it costs you to do that. And on that day, here was a man whom I had cost thousands of dollars, and he and his organization loved truth more than cash. He helped heal some of that pain with that thank you.

Let me be clear: He got nothing out of it. The stories had been written; the tale was complete. It was all after-the-fact conversation. He wasn’t thanking me to get good spin on a new story, for there wasn’t one left. In fact, this is the first time I have publicly written about that event.

Since then I have gone out of my way to buy from LifeWay when I am in areas that have their stores. Every time I see a LifeWay store my spirit soars a bit as I remember the bold witness they took for LIFE.

So tonight when I saw that blog from Mr. Adams, I felt righteous indignation. I don’t know all the facts. LifeWay may not be carrying this book, but I assure you the reason is not that they are afraid to take a stand for LIFE. The publisher of the Gosnell book is Regenry, a conservative book publisher, but not an overtly Christian one. Maybe Lifeway doesn’t have regular connections with them or a distribution contract. Maybe they only sell Christian or inspirational books since they are a niche store and not a general bookstore. The Gosnell book is an important work and a best seller already. But a Christian bookstore doesn’t always carry secular best sellers. I actually would not expect to find it at a Christian store. That doesn’t even make sense to me.

I am also troubled by the fact that Adams’ n=1. He went to one store and then wrote a blog. Did Mr. Adams call LifeWay? I can assure him that LifeWay is responsive to bloggers’ inquiries.

Mr. Adams is correct about the lack of books on abortion. But that’s not LifeWay’s fault, nor should the Christian company be the scapegoat for Adams’ frusrating shopping experience. A few years ago, I was in a private meeting with the publisher of a major Christian imprint and a Christian speaker who is a household name in the church world, who wanted to write a book about abortion. I was going to help write it. The major publisher (whose name you would also know) told us that people don’t want to read books about abortion. And while I found that a sad fact, it was not surprising to hear.

Indeed, our pulpits are all-too-silent. I was in Christian ministry before I ever heard a sermon about abortion. It surely did not happen in my local church, though my churches would acknowledge abortion was bad, but that was the extent of it, usually. Last year I was privileged to be part of a pro-life apologetics class at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I read multiple books on abortion for that course—and none was easily available in the mainstream. This crisis of knowledge does not exist because of isolated incident like one LifeWay store not selling a secularly published book.

I agree with the indictment of the church’s silence and have said as much many times, but I vehemently disagree with singling out a business of great integrity in the pro-life arena over one incident that probably has more to the story than he sought to discover.

My friends, LifeWay is not the problem, and Mr. Adams is not “rightly offended,” as the title of his blog says. LifeWay most certainly is pro-life. Its leaders have great integrity and love Jesus more than money. Someday I hope to meet them in person because the last email with that man was an invitation to contact him if I were ever in the Nashville area so he could give me a tour of LifeWay and meet me in person. Know why? Because LifeWay loves LIFE.

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The LifeWay leader pointed out to me that I could keep the Bible from Walmart.com because Komen wouldn’t be getting “one more cent” from them. So I ended up with a memorial stone from the Lord Himself. The book reminds me every time I see it that one blog can make a difference and alter many things, and the Bible reminds me that there are bold witnesses of truth and LIFE who care more about Jesus than money.

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God is good all the time—except if Hillary might be president?

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Cor. 6:14

I hope you’ll read my disclaimers before you read my post. Most of all, I hope you will prayerfully read my post even if you ultimately disagree with me. But first the disclaimers:

  • My ultimate concern with Donald Trump has always been the issue of LIFE. I made a vow before God on this matter that I take more seriously than my need to keep friends or anything else. That concern has not changed.
  • I hesitate at posting this not because I hesitate at any of my words, but because I am human—a person who likes to be liked, wanted, accepted. And I know the risk of a post like this means some won’t. That happened to me four years ago when I discovered Mitt Romney’s ties to the abortion industry and declared that pro-lifers should reconsider him. “You can’t say that. He’s the nominee; he’s the only chance we have now,” people told me. Thus, I began losing friends—on Facebook and in real life. Four years later I find myself in a happy place. I have friends and family, a home I love, a stability I’ve not had in ages. I have a new church I cherish. And I have a multitude of friends supporting Mr. Trump. Many support him because he is a better chance for Republican ideals, economic gain, and social issues most aligned with Christianity. I fully understand that. But I can’t.
  • This piece is not my personal “venting” about a man. My feelings are not what matter most, though certainly they are mixed in. This post is not to convince you to change your vote (the fact is, a Bible-believing Christian cannot equally justify a vote for the other three candidates placed on our ballots. My own state forbids me from writing in a candidate). I respect the right of the American people to cast their own private vote. My friendship and love for others is not contingent upon their vote or my agreement with any other aspect. In other words, you may vehemently disagree with every word in here and I can love you the same as I did before. My love is not conditional. That said, I hope you will read on.

The fire in my bones

I spoke out vocally during the primary season and made no secret of my support for Ted Cruz. I still believe he was the best man for the job, but Mr. Trump secured the nomination. That didn’t change my mind, but I chose not to speak very loudly after that because what’s done was done, and I didn’t have an option to present. Today the election fire burning in my bones is less about the selection on November 8 as it is about considering the will and permissiveness of God. Thus, I want to present two ideas in this piece. One is about our theology in this culture and the other is about morality in leadership. They are not mutually exclusive, of course, but they are also issues with some separate points. My audience is traditional, Bible-believing Christians. Anyone, of course, is welcome to read what I write, but I am addressing the church here.

We say we’re praying for the election, saying we trust God to accomplish his will, reveal what is hidden. What if this latest scandal–among many–is an answer to prayer? Do we have faith to believe that what we see and understand might be different from what God sees and understands. Do we really mean we are praying and seeking His divine will? Or does that subtext actually say, “We need to pray that people vote for Trump because Hillary is bad?”

We excuse this man’s repeated and public sins because we see him as our only hope to have a sort-of conservative in the White House, and hang on to our Supreme Court seats for the next generation. There’s some obvious truth to the Supreme Court argument, but is that enough to justify the defiance of the word of God?

And about those words. I can tell you that for every word that “Trump is God’s chosen man,” there have been words that Cruz, Rubio, and others have been. Repeatedly I see people say, “I believe the word of the Lord about Trump being God’s choice.” By whose authority do we receive the word of the Lord? A word should be confirmed by scriptural truth. To blindly receive the word of the Lord because someone well-known or respected says it is a slippery slope. We are to test the spirits. Many well-meaning people have given false words; we are human; we prophesy in part. If the sole reason we have supported Mr. Trump is “the prophet said so” then we need to look at our own theology.

But he said it a decade ago, says the argument. That he did. This one. This is not the first instance of his vulgarity, by far–it’s a pervasive pattern–and it probably isn’t the last, unless he chooses now to repent and become the different man he claims he is.. That’s the issue here. If our faith compels us to support him as our God-chosen leader, we have some questions to ponder.

While Mr. Trump issued an apology, it was not the apology of a strong leader. It lacked both contrition for the act and repentance for the sins. Trump is said to have converted to Christianity, but makes no mention of this as he apologies. In fact, it’s been others who have reported he “accepted Jesus.” (The leader who reportedly led him to the Lord is one who has publicly justified her own sinful choices, incidentally, which doesn’t mean she couldn’t have led him to the Lord, but it would be helpful to hear a confession of faith from the one proclaiming it). Trump himself previously stated he didn’t need to ask Jesus for forgiveness. Later, he backtracked some and said he hoped he wouldn’t have to ask for much. His description of who Jesus is to him was telling:

“Jesus to me is somebody I can think about for security and confidence. Somebody I can revere in terms of bravery and in terms of courage and, because I consider the Christian religion so important, somebody I can totally rely on in my own mind.”

But maybe he decided sometime after that statement in June that he needed Jesus as more. Some say since he has surrounded himself with Christian leaders, it’s a sign of his purity of heart. However, that doesn’t make him a fruit-bearing Christian anymore than a twig surrounding itself with apple trees produces apples. I cannot judge the depths of Trump’s heart, but I can judge what the fruit tastes like, and it is bitter much of the time.

Trump’s sex tape apology was mixed and poorly received by many Republicans. Trump says, in part:

“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize…. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never, ever let you down.

“Let’s be honest, we’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today. We’re losing our jobs, we’re less safe than we were eight years ago. And Washington is totally broken. Hillary Clinton and her kind have run our country into the ground.”

In the midst of these words are some notable problems. He apologizes almost as necessity, as if to say “oh crud! I better apologize this time.” He expresses no remorse for his attitude, his demeaning comments, and his perversion. He pledges to be a better man tomorrow, implying he is not yet. He doesn’t say anything more than “I was wrong.” Wrong about saying it in an interview? Getting caught? Discussing sexually abusive comments? The lack of specificity is tantamount to a child who apologizes because he was caught and doesn’t want to be grounded.

Further disturbing in his apology, however, is his conclusion. Calling such perversion a mere “distraction” is bad enough, but to then deflect back to Clinton is inappropriate. Whatever Clinton has or has not done is irrelevant to Trump’s actions at issue here. This is not a war of who committed the worst sins (and frankly, it wasn’t Mrs. Clinton caught with her pants down anyway).

Because this happened on the brink of the Sunday night debate, I decided I should watch and give it one more chance. What I heard appalled me. Trump reiterated, numerous times, that while he “regretted” his words, “This is locker room talk. It’s just locker room talk.”  But the jock in the locker room isn’t running to be the leader of the free world, running on a platform of conservative faith values–and isn’t 59 years old, which is how old Trump was in this recording. After being pressed by Anderson Cooper about the actions he describes in the tapes, such as groping women and forcing them to kiss him, he backtracks and says he didn’t do those things. Thus, he announces himself as a 59-year-old boy who brags about sexual conquests that didn’t exist (assuming he is telling the truth).

Additionally, after the first mention of the tapes, he briefly answered with his catch-all “just locker room talk” statement, and then launched into a litany of how ISIS was doing awful things and we should be focusing on that. ISIS was the buzzword for Trump’s deflection, but dealing with ISIS and dealing with the perversion are not mutually exclusive. It is inappropriate to hold ISIS up as a reason to ignore the continued patterns of perversion.

But Trump is not alone in his deflective defense. Many others have joined him. One popular defense says, “We must defeat Hillary no matter what.” This tactic says we are deciding to overlook all the red flags about Trump in order to defeat someone we know better is actually worse. Believers, this argument says we don’t trust God enough to believe that He would or could allow Clinton into office. Worst of all it says that God Himself could compromise His own standard for the sake of defeating Clinton.

Another defense says, “we are all sinners who need Jesus.” This statement is true. The implied result is not. As believers we are all sinners who have repented and turned from our sins. We would all call a pattern of pervasive sin an “unrepentant lifestyle.” Except when Trump is the issue. Yes, these tapes were a decade ago, but these tapes are not an isolated incident. There have been incidents in the past few weeks back to well before these tapes. Time and again, Trump is perpetuating deep offenses and degrading comments.

Finally, the most prevailing defense against him indefensible goes like this, “Well, they haven’t been in a locker room if they think that talk is shocking. I have heard worse in____.” “What about the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was much worse?” “If you think that is bad, how about Bill Clinton…” And all of those have only one answer: They are not the issue at hand. They are real and legitimate issues, but guess what? That talk is not okay in the locker room either. There is always worse somewhere, but the Oval Office should be some of the best. No Christian should be filing his or her mind with porn anyway, but maybe the popularity of that porn novel explains our tolerance for open perversion. And Bill Clinton isn’t actually running for president, so that comparison isn’t about this. Whatever his wife has done or not also isn’t the issue. Her issues are reasons to reconsider voting or endorsing her. These false equivalency arguments are just that, false. The issue at hand is the issue at hand.

Sometimes trusting God and leaning not to our own understanding means doing what’s right even when the obvious cost is high. We cannot claim we trust God is we are paralyzed with fear over Clinton being our president.

Resurgent author Erick Erickson writes in a compelling piece that while Clinton would be bad for America, Trump would be bad for the church. You can read his piece here, but sufficient to say, I agree with him. He asserts:

More importantly, while I think Hillary Clinton will do long term damage to the country, I believe Donald Trump will do far more damage to the church, which must be my chief priority. A Clinton Administration may see the church besieged from the outside, but a Trump Administration will see the church poisoned from within.

Read his whole piece for the details, but the facts he lays out are troubling. Detailing the justification Christians are making for Trump, Erickson notes:

So many pastors who email me to beg me to reconsider and so many others who write do so because they think this is the last best chance to get this nation right. They think we will turn a corner after which we cannot turn back. While I concede they may be right, what I see is a level of desperation causing them to place their trust in one strong man instead of God. And, in truth, I do not concede they are right, but have concluded we are already past the point of redemption when the best either party can do is offer up Clinton or Trump. We are beyond the point of looking to five black robed masters to save us from ourselves when we put up either a Clinton or a Trump. The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape.” (Emphasis added).

Lastly, for those who compare Trump to Cyrus, God never asked his people to support Cyrus’s cause, only to accept him as their ruler. God never asks his people to choose between the lesser of two evils. God uses all men, from pharaoh to Trump. And he can do so without making Christians endorse the person’s sins. God did not tell the Jews to throw open the gates of Jerusalem for Nebuchadnezzar. God did that himself. God shut the door of the ark and brought the rain and dried again the land. God raises us from the dust of the earth and he stitched us together in our mothers’ wombs. He holds the entire universe in the palm of his hand. God can see us through all things if we aren’t so busy pretending his will and exercising pretended divine authority. His will be done. If God wants Trump in the White House, he does not need my vote or a violation of my conscience to get Trump there. To think otherwise is to think God is not God.

On being unequally yoked

To endorse a person is to be yoked with him. I would argue that there is a line between the average Christian just trying to make a tough choice and a leader charged with standing for truth and righteousness actually yoking him or herself with a man who practices unrighteousness. Is this not an unequal yoking?

Our fawning love affair with Trump is like a woman trying some evangelism dating because she’s getting older and hasn’t found the right man among her Christian group. She meets a guy she really likes and decides since he says he believes in God and talks to Him sometimes, he will grow in his faith and be a man of God. Perhaps he will. But he is not then ready to be her Christian husband prepared to lead his family. The woman, we all recognize, is deceived and just wants the man she thinks is the best chance she has, so she compromises while justifying herself it will work out. Instead, she spends years unequally yoked, bonded to a marriage that produces no fruit. And her husband? Why does he need to pursue Jesus more deeply? His wife married him after all, and she loves Jesus, so he’s obviously good enough to remain on his complacent laurels.

Erickson notes our fears are similar. Christians are equating Clinton in office as their own destruction:

They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling. The gates of hell shall not prevail.

Leadership apart from Christianity

If Trump were not enmeshed in the religious side of things and endorsed by a rousing round of Evangelicals, there would still be valid concerns about his leadership abilities. A leader has to be the front man (or woman) the model for others. In my job we are sometimes charged with doing minutiae that is really not related to our job. It’s time consuming and, frankly, annoying. You know the first person to start working at it? My boss. He starts, does the most work, and takes the fall as the leader if upper level management is displeased. He faces it head on. He is a pleasure to work for because he leads us by example. We never have to wonder if he will back us if we do things correctly, and help us if we do them incorrectly. We also never have to worry he will do something wildly inappropriate that would put us all under a lens. This is what good leaders do; they lead with integrity and strength. They don’t yell, blast pomposity, or insult other leaders they think do a worse job. They focus on their jobs and the people they are charged with leading. My boss and I share some differing political views, but I could much easier vote for him as our president because he leads well.

Another point that Sunday’s debate causes me to add on the subject of leadership is this: Trump asserted, addressing the sex tapes and his comments, “They’re just words.” Considering my own career, I am horrified. Professionally speaking, those “just words” can easily get someone fired for sexual harassment. Those types of comments to women or about women can actually be illegal, in addition to being immoral and assaulting. They are not “just words.” And putting faith aside as a factor, words such as these and the 17 years of recordings to shock jock Howard Stern, further propagating sexual deviance, are enough to get some people fired or sued.

But what about Hillary?

“But what about Hillary?” is not an appropriate response to our concerns with Trump. In a court of law, when someone is accused and his counsel tries to talk abut another criminal, the opposing counsel objects. “Sustained!” the judge says, “Irrelevant. Counsel, keep your arguments to the case at hand.”

Ask yourself if Trump were before you as nether Democrat or Republican, but simply a man running for office about whom you knew all you know now, would he be a viable option for you in that anonymous presentation? Is he only viable because of the opposition?

In the book of Job, Job is dealt what seems to as an unfair hand. His life is pulled out from under him—under God’s permissive will. God allowed Satan to do what he did, and his friends can’t see the reasoning so they have to make some theology up to fit their paradigm. They offer justification for Job’s suffering that is well-intended but unbiblical. Understanding a confusing situation is not a prerequisite to seeing God’s hand in it.

“God is good,” we say, chanting back in unison, “all the time.” (“And all the time, God is good! Amen!”) We say it when we find a parking space up close on a rainy day, get a promotion or when we pass a test by one point. We say it when things go well for us. Sometimes, those with deeper understanding of the Lord, say it when things don’t go well. I have had friends with cancer say “God is good” and mean it. They know something not every Christian knows: God is good, but His good may not look like our good.

Our perception is earthly perception. It is flawed. I think of the most tragic and painful events of my life, events that even caused me to question God. Had I not been orphaned, dumped again, tossed aside, I would not have the parents I have now. Was God good when I was abandoned? Was He good when I was “unadopted”? Or is He only good now that I have parents? Was the same God not God in it all?

What if we vote apart from our fears and Clinton becomes our president? What if our religious liberties truly erode, our taxes skyrocket—and abortion becomes more widespread (heaven forbid) than it is now? What horror just the last point would bring.

But what if, in the midst of that, the church then realized its calling, and the true believers rose up out of apathy and silence en masse this time? What if we thrived and became the mighty remnant of the Lord, filled with signs, wonders, miracles, power, hope? What if multitudes came to the saving grace of the true Jesus because of the state of the nation and our witness? What if the entire face of the nation changed in a way like that? What if a declined national climate, even persecution, brought the revival we say we want at any cost?

A fact few note when fighting for pro-life issues is that under Barack Obama’s administration, there have been more restrictions on abortion than anytime since Roe v. Wade. The reason certainly isn’t our pro-abortion president. The reason is the army of people who got either awakened or just plain scared by his leadership and fought back. Now, hear me clearly: In no way am I suggesting he was the best choice for LIFE. He was not. But God used his election to lower the abortion rate. Never have I seen such a powerful prayer movement against abortion, coupled with action by believers to end the atrocities. When it was obvious the government wasn’t going to take the lead from the executive branch, the church stepped up to the legislative branch.

Listen, folks, I get it. I really do. If anyone understands the gravity of the Supreme Court seats, it is I. I wept when Justice Scalia died because I knew in that moment what it meant for us on issues of Christian conservatism. After Trump was nominated, I prayed more. I asked God if I was to vote for him, and my covenant with God made that answer pretty clear. But neither did I wish to tear him down. In the back of my mind I had a light hope that he would be elected and at least I would still be able to afford to pay my taxes, get rid of the Obamacare mandate—and have more conservative justices. I wanted it to be okay. This is the reason I have said very little since he secured the nomination. I conceded inwardly that he was probably the best chance, though I could note endorse, or even vote, for him.

Unlike some of my #NeverTrump friends, I did not get angry with my pro-life leader friends who joined his national advisement team. Advising and endorsing are different. I would advise a Satanist to turn to Jesus and fill her with reasons why, though I would never endorse her worship. I believed, perhaps, even though he really wasn’t equipped for the job, as a businessman, he was smart enough to surround himself with those who were. Like many, I supported his VP choice in Mike Pence, one of the most pro-life leaders in our nation whose work as governor I know well, though I could not turn my endorsement for Pence into one for the double ticket. What I am trying to emphasize here is that I have not been hostile in these months; I have prayed and been open to Trump being our president. I have actively looked for the best. But it’s not there.

Mr. Trump is a man created by God whom Jesus adores with every iota of who He is. Jesus is love and loves Trump as much as he loves Billy Graham–and you and me. That’s the gospel, folks. His death was for both and all of us in between. Trump is not beyond redemption, salvation, or hope. He is not beyond repentance for his decades of sexual perversion, often publicly detailed. Whether the tapes that broke this story or his 17 years of talking to Howard Stern about sexual escapades and things I would not mention even in this blog, it’s clear there are issues. At no time has Trump offered repentance to the people he claims to be equipped to lead. But if one claims to be a Christian and is endorsed by people of faith, linked, locked, yoked to faith leaders and catering to people of faith, then there should be fruit. No, we are not electing a Sunday school teacher or pope, but we are electing a leader of a nation that is mired in issues of racism, sexual perversion, and other problems, which are furthered by Trump, out of his own mouth in recent weeks and months.

We say “I’m not Democrat or Republican; I’m about Jesus.” Jesus died on a cross to show the goodness of God. Is it so far beyond us to think that maybe this is the turning point for our nation and it’s not the pretty one we hoped? Do I know God’s plan exactly? That answer is obvious. But I know God’s character. God doesn’t have to stoop and settle, nor should his people.

I spent years as a part of ministries that taught me something I retained deep within me: Voting is a prophetic act. It is my duty to vote, but my vote is first and foremost before the Lord. I am making a statement to God of what I am doing with the honor He has given me to vote. I live in this world, but I live under the law of God. I can neither vote for Clinton nor Trump and the reasons are similar. The differences, however, are that one is claiming to represent people of faith, and is endorsed by leaders who name the name of Jesus. When you add Jesus into the mix, the implications are serious. Jesus asks us to be hot or cold—and has harsh words for being lukewarm.

I posit that God will do more with a sincere and seeking church subjected to a corrupt government than He will with a compromised church under a so-so government. My idealistic self hopes for a Pollyanna dream, like Trump and Pence switching places and Clinton defeated. But that likely won’t happen, as much as I can dream. So my Christian self has to ask, “do I trust the Lord enough that I believe even if publicly proclaiming his name and fighting against innocent bloodshed becomes illegal I can declare He is good and we are in his will?”

The Bible is filled, absolutely filled, with God moving mightily in the face of persecution. We have it so good in our nation that we seem to think a threat to our liberty can’t be the will of God. Can God use Trump, Clinton or anyone else? Absolutely. Absolutely without question. But His ability to use someone in spite of His desire is no the same as His endorsement. For what fellowship has light with darkness?

Precious moments: being “too Christian” in graduate school

In graduate school I was “too Christian.”

We were training to be teachers in the humanities department, and I was taking a required colloquium in teaching class as a graduate assistant. That day, Professor X came to guest lecture. X was telling us how these vulnerable freshmen come to us and have been raised in a bubble all their lives. He said, back in the late 90s, “Just like that: Bill Clinton, Jesus, and Santa Claus.” He followed it with a WHOOSH sound, as if to say the reality that none was real overtook these poor misguided kids.

You could see my reaction. I was indignant It was not raging anger, not hatred, certainly not agreement.  I was indignany that somehow Jesus was supposed to be reduced to fantasy if I were an intellectual. I knew better.

It was October, and since August I’d been on a new spiritual journey, unlike any before in my Christian life. I had a spiritual mom in my life who prayed with me often, who talked to me about God like He was a real person. And I had begun to change. I was alive again. Alive for the first time, really. And there was no way Jesus was in the same category as the fallen Bill Clinton and fictional Santa Claus. I felt like someone had just dissed by BFF. Because he did.

I went quiet the rest of the 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was a turning point in my spiritual life, that day. It was the day I knew I either had to acquiesce to the culture around me, or stand up for what I knew was true. My job as a teacher was not to change student’s beliefs; it was to help students question things in a productive way to ensure they understood what they espoused about anything. That’s a fine line, but it is a distinctive one. One tears down, as if to say “I’m right, and you are misguided.” The other deconstructs and puts the pieces back together one at a time to build understanding and come to conclusions. My job was to create learners and thinkers who could construct knowledge and induce reasoning to deduce the world in which they live. I was not going to be part of telling people their beliefs were wrong. I was going to be a part of helping people figure out how to be sure of what they believed—whether about human nature, personal values, or Jesus Himself.

That week I prayed. A lot. I talked to my spiritual mom. I wrestled inside myself. I knew it was a turning point. The next week I showed up to class in a t-shirt that had the Bible verse where Paul says, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2). That was my answer. Looking back I see it was a bit “in your face,” but I think God honored me because of my heart, if not my methods. I didn’t stick my backside at anyone so they could read the shirt or anything, but I wore in on purpose; I wore it for myself, my banner. And the class debrief began.

The teacher asked what we thought of Professor X’s lecture. And the students gave all the right answers. Except me.

“I didn’t appreciate what he said about Jesus being a myth.”

The teacher backtracked. “I don’t think that’s really what he meant,” she said. But I quoted him again. “Yes, he did. He said that exactly.”

That wasn’t the end of the Christian debate. The next week was the time to highlight all the “embarrassing” Christians. You know, the ones “with bumper stickers that say ‘I heart TBN,’” one said. “Or Precious Moments,” someone added, giggling at the cheesiness. “Someone gave me a bunch of Precious Moments stuff,” she said, sarcastically.

That was it. Without missing a beat, and without a hint of anger, I opened my purse and took out my checkbook. My Precious Moments checkbook. The one I thought was cute, and was no reflection on my level of thinking ability or intellectual endeavor. I liked seeing praying kids and scriptures when I paid bills.

I showed them the checks.

The one making fun of it immediately looked a bit embarrassed, and she genuinely and kindly offered to give me the Precious Moments gift she had been given. I still appreciate that because I saw her heart was good and she didn’t realize that her attitude could be perceived as negative. But in most cases I just became a freak show.

Later that class the teacher said, “You know, SM, you really might consider going over to the education department to get your degree since humanities is more for future professors, and you just want to teach junior high.”

“No,” I said, resolutely, “I’m positive I want the master’s degree in humanities.”

And so I stayed. But not as much because very suddenly there was no graduate assistantship left for me. I was half time, and it seemed they needed to cut back on half-timers. I knew darned well that wasn’t the reason. Most people need assistantships to stay in school. It was a push to get me out. In fact, they told me I wasn’t really like everyone else because I just wanted to “get [my] degree and get out.” There was a club forming in the humanities department, and I was too Christian to be in it.

I walked over to another department where I had a bit of work experience in their field and applied for an assistantship. I got it. I was paid double, kept all my benefits, and worked half the time as the other one. God took care of me better than if I had stayed. It was one of my first lessons of Him honoring His word and those who keep it.

I had switched major advisers early on, and I had a lovely woman who supported my work and research. I’m not sure where she was as far as sharing values, but that’s good. She didn’t let her opinions be known. This endowed professor and scholar of worldwide renown taught me, mentored me, and got me through my thesis research, which was especially controversial, but fully substantiated. Now I see it was also prophetic. Since that time I have literally watched things I wrote about being possible in the future fully come to pass.

The day came to defend my thesis. I had one person on my committee who was having issues with some of my assertions, such as things I said about the right-to-die movement. He was going to be my only hurdle, and while I knew it would be okay, I was trying to fully prepare for a real defense. Would you believe he was too sick to attend? He got better, but he actually felt so bad he was unable to come–he had an ongoing problem, but that one day, it was just too much for him. Since the rest of the committee and grad school faculty were there, the defense went on. I did well. Really well.

The icing on the graduate school cake happened that day. The director of graduate studies commented that my thesis was more well-written than the dissertation that just got defended last week—and said I needed to seriously consider coming back to do my doctorate. There. In the department that wanted to move me to the other school. It was the ultimate vindication for me in that entire experience. I finished in about three years, average time for that program, which included both a thesis and comprehensive exams. During most of that time I was working in another department and just taking classes because after the first year, I was not conformed enough to join the prevailing thought and ways. I realize that statement sounds dramatic, but it’s also true and I was told as much many times. I had to examine a lot in those years, but soon after the class confrontations came my deepest encounter of my life with Jesus—one that impacts me to this very day. In the season I was most challenged to either conform or be set on the back burner, I had enough in me to know what my choice was.

The opening of my thesis includes a reference to Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” In the end it was published—and, ironically, sits in a specialized research library in Washington, DC, where my research contributed to the body of work on topics of nonconformity.

What I learned most in my season of graduate school wasn’t about other people. The Bible tells us people will be hostile to–or at the very least not understanding of–Christianity. What I learned was what I ultimately wrote about in that same thesis: That we must know why we believe what we believe, or when it is challenged we will fall. I learned that my faith was real and worth standing for. at whatever the cost, and it did cost me. But God covered me too. I don’t even remember at this moment the precise moment, but at the end of my program right around my defense, the Lord gave me Isaiah 55. The part that I recall sticking out the most was this:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (v. 8-9, NKJV)

As I reread this chapter to quote here, I was also struck by the fact this was at the end of my program that the Lord gave me this and what it says in that chapter:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace; (v. 11-12a, NKJV)

This was my promise fulfilled. I went out with joy and peace. But I didn’t do it for the promise. I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen; what I knew was that I loved God more than being part of the jokes about him, no matter how logical they seemed.

In the end, Professor X’s visit was a blessing. God will use anyone and anything He wants. Professor X was never my enemy. He was a catalyst to a great move of God in my life.

And that’s the moral of this story.