An Arkansas town council recently joined a growing list of U.S. cities that are taking a stand against abortion.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports the Springdale City Council Committee of the Whole voted unanimously Monday to adopt the pro-life statement. The full city council plans to vote on the measure Aug. 13.
The statement declares Springdale to be a pro-life city. It also tells the abortion chain Planned Parenthood that it is not welcome there, according to the report.
Though the statement does not have any legal weight, it sends a message that Springdale supports life, said council member Colby Fulfer, who proposed the measure.
“There’s no way we’re going to ban abortion,” because Roe v. Wade is still in place, he said. “We want to say the government of Springdale supports life from creation to conception to the end stages of life.”
Fulfer said he is concerned about Planned Parenthood opening a new location in their city after it closed its Fayetteville branch in July. The abortion chain said it had trouble with its landlord, and it is looking for a new location.
The city’s pro-life statement is “respectfully asking the abortion provider to find another city,” he added.
According to the local news, Fulfer also brought up programs that the city supports to help families in need.
A few weeks ago, I came across a video that you might call “YouTube Gold.” That’s the phrase used these days for “an oldie-but-a-goodie” video. It was a classic Chuck Colson speech. He was speaking at a conference that was otherwise overly-academic.
But not Chuck. He spoke with passion and conviction. He pounded the pulpit. And, at the end, several hundred mostly academics erupted in a standing ovation. Seriously, you’ve got to see it.
Chuck made four points: four things that must characterize Christians today. I’m only going to give you the first two, not only because I want you to watch the whole thing, but also because his first two points are especially in need of repeating today.
First, Chuck said, Christians must develop a biblically-formed worldview. At other times and places, the broad cultural consensus may have lined up with Christian truth, but no more. Of course, that goes without saying today. Twenty years ago, when Chuck said this to his Grand Rapids audience, it was every bit as true, but not nearly as obvious.
Today, that you might be confronted in your Christian beliefs by someone with a deeply different perspective on life and the world is not a hypothetical scenario. At the neighborhood cookout, over the water cooler, across the Thanksgiving table, on social media, it’s going to happen. Even worse, you might even be asked questions directly, in a setting where you hold the minority viewpoint. A viewpoint that’s not only considered to be wrong but considered to be dangerous.
Which brings up Chuck’s second point. Not only do we need to develop a biblically formed worldview, he said, but we need to know that worldview well enough to defend it. This is exactly what Peter meant when he said to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within you.
It might be that your challenge comes about a particularly challenging issue in a particularly controversial environment. For example, an announcement that your local public library is hosting Drag Queen Story Hour for kids. Or your kid’s school wants to integrate restrooms by gender identity. Or your neighbor, who you know and love, but who always drops racist comments. Or your radical environmentalist relative who drops an opinion bomb over a family dinner.
Silence, pretending you didn’t hear, and exiting stage-left aren’t good options. So, how should you respond?
Answering these and other tough questions with clarity and conviction is the subject of our next Colson Center Short Course, which begins August 6.
Over the next four weeks, beginning tomorrow night, the Colson Center is hosting a short course on four of these confusing, challenging subject areas. It’s all online, taught by four incredible thinkers and communicators: Andrew Walker will help you navigate the issue of transgenderism; Jay Richards, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, will help us understand the science and politics of the climate change debate; Ryan Bomberger, founder of the Radiance Foundation, will walk us through the thorny issue of race in America and in the Church. And finally, Sandra Glahn of Dallas Theological Seminary will help us think through the implications of the #MeToo movement and the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.
Each Short Course session begins at 8 PM Eastern, and the live online interaction includes time for Q&A. If you have to miss a live session, no problem. Each session is recorded, and the link is sent out to all of our participants.
The question isn’t why should you sign up for this course. In light of the conversations we are all facing, the question is why shouldn’t we be better prepared. As Chuck said in that speech two decades ago, every Christian must know the Christian worldview well enough to defend it. When we don’t, we remain silent, and then bad ideas rule the day.
During a Catholic conference in May in San Sebastian, Spain, Gómez explained why she quit her abortion work and how God changed her life in a miraculous way.
She said her work at the abortion clinic stressed her out; she spent her days getting women ready for surgical abortions and then trying to comfort them afterward. Gómez said she lied to herself and the women about the unborn babies who were being aborted there.
Once, she remembered, she thought she saw the foot of an aborted baby, but she said she convinced herself that it was just a blood clot, according to the report.
Gomez said the abortion clinic purposely took steps to ensure that women would not change their minds prior to their abortions. Women would be isolated from their partners, to “remove them from reality,” before their surgeries, and it would be Gomez’s job to hold their hands and keep them calm while the abortion was happening.
Afterwards, she said that sometimes the women were so traumatized by what they had experienced, they thought they had not yet undergone an abortion and begged her to stop it from happening. It was Gomez’s job to inform them that they had in fact already had an abortion.
Eventually, she said she quit because of the stress of the job. She went back to school and earned a degree in physiotherapy.
About that same time, there was a devastating earthquake in Nepal. Gómez decided to move to Kathmandu to help with the relief efforts, the report states.
It was there in that Hindu country that Jesus touched her heart and brought her to the Catholic faith.
One day, she said she was walking in the street when a sister with the Missionaries of Charity grabbed her and urged her to follow. Gómez said she thought about going along just to mock the sisters during Mass, but things turned out very differently.
Gómez spoke Spanish, and the Mass was in English, so she said she did not understand it very well. Then, suddenly, she said she heard a voice in Spanish telling her, “Welcome home.” Confused, she said she heard the voice again, saying: “Welcome home. How long it took you to love me.”
“It was the cross of Christ talking to me,” she said.
Gómez said she laid on the floor and wept, asking for forgiveness.
Later, the sisters told her that they had been praying for someone exactly like her, a physiotherapist, to come to their convent, according to the report.
Gómez said she spent four months with the sisters, teaching them physical therapy and rehabilitation until her visa ran out. Then, she returned to Spain where she has been sharing her conversion story.
“I was a dry bone in that valley, that He decided to revive,” Gomez said. “That is the Mercy of God.”
In 2003 we found ourselves out of jobs with no idea which direction God wanted us to go. As we prayed we began to feel more and more pulled into “ministry,” or at least what we thought was ministry. So we did what anyone else would do in that situation – we created a website and wrote a support letter, and Benham Brothers Ministries was started.
But it never got off the ground. Before we could send the first support letter we felt inclined by God to work for ourselves and not rely on donations from others. Since we both had our real estate licences we joined a local real estate company and started selling houses. We also did odd jobs to pay the bills that first year–that was a rough season of our lives.
By God’s grace that little business grew, and grew, and grew to a point where we had 100 offices in 35 states. All-the-while we felt guilty that we had chosen business over ministry. We thought our role had morphed from ministers to businessmen and that our job was to now support the professionals who ministered every day.
But then one day as I (Jason) was standing with my Bible open in front of a room filled with our franchisees from all over the nation, I heard God whisper to my spirit, “Who told you that you weren’t in ministry?”
As I pondered that question I began to realize that what defines the minister is not where he’s placed or how he’s paid. A minister is defined by passion, not position. When the presence of God is in your life then WHATEVER you do for the glory of the Lord is your ministry.
From that day forward we saw our business as our ministry and recognized our identities as ministers of the gospel. The guilt we once felt was replaced by gratitude as we have continued to open other businesses since.
The devil knows that how you see yourself determines how you conduct yourself. So if he can convince you that you’re just an insurance broker or a school teacher or a plumber or a stay-at-home mom and not a minister then you won’t act like you’re in the ministry. Don’t believe the lie.
Your pastor’s job is to equip you for your work as a minister in the “ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12) When you have eyes to see your work like this everything will change.
When people begin to express their consideration of adoption, they might hear things like, “Whatever you do, don’t go through foster care,” or “I hear that kids in foster care have big problems,” etc. Sure, there are many factors to take to heart when choosing the path of adoption. One of those, in particular, is whether to include foster care as an option. However, instead of listening to the reasons why one should not adopt from foster care, here are a few reasons why adopting a foster child matters.
1. Children are in the foster care system due to no fault of their own.
They have no control over their situation. If the goal changes to adoption, there needs to be families who will step up and commit to providing a lifetime of stability and love for these children.
2. If parental rights are terminated and an adoptive home is not established, foster children and youth are at risk for aging out of care.
In essence, they become legal orphans. Once they exit the system, they are at a higher risk for homelessness, impoverishment, substance abuse, victimization, pregnancy, and criminal activity. All of these things can be greatly reduced if families would adopt older youth before they exit the system.
3. Sibling groups are at risk of being separated once they enter the system and even in adoptive homes.
While the goal is always to keep sibling groups together, it is difficult due to the lack of families willing and able to consider fostering and adopting a larger sibling group. Sibling groups deserve the opportunity of finding permanency together, through adoption.
4. Once an adoption out of foster care is complete, all legal authority is given to the adoptive parents.
The myth that “birth parents can change their minds” is just that—a myth. Even though the case is closed, most states offer after-adoption services and support, including financial support until the child is 18 years of age. This assistance helps families tremendously and is a great incentive for families to consider adopting out of care.
5. Through efforts made towards the primary goal of reunification with biological family members, many children and youth are able to return to their families of origin.
Despite many successes with reunification, far too many children and youth become eligible for adoption and linger in the system without an identified adoptive family. These kids are just like other children, except for their history of abuse and neglect. They are unique, have their own set of talents, and aspirations, and desire to belong somewhere. In order for foster children to begin on a path that leads to personal success, they must have a solid foundation of being in a family. Adopting a child from foster care lays this foundation down.
The hope of ending the scourge of child abuse and neglect is never-ending. Reunification and working with biological parents make great strides towards this. Adoption does this as well. When considering adopting a child out of foster care, remember, it is not just the one child whose life will be changed, it potentially could be a generation of children whose lives are untouched by abuse and neglect.
I put the car in park, turned off the engine and stared straight ahead. I was dreading tonight and debating if I wanted to stay or just go home. As the wind swayed the car, I peered to my right into the pitch black. My eyes followed a poorly lit path that leads to the bright lights of our meeting room. They were shining like a beacon. I wasn’t sure if the beacon was a warning to stay away like that of a lighthouse or an invitation to join like that of a church. Usually, I looked forward to the meetings, well maybe not looked forward to them, but I didn’t dread them. “None of my family live around me, why am I here?” I asked myself. The assignment this week involved our families. Normally families weren’t allowed because it hinders open participation. Tonight, however, if we had family that wanted to come they were welcome. As the car temperature dropped, I knew I’d rather suffer an uncomfortable evening than go home to an anxiety-filled house. Wrapping my coat as tight as possible I opened the door and started down the path. When I reached the double doors, I pulled on one side as the wind pushed it closed. Once it was open, the wind pushed against it not allowing me to close it. An older man came over and helped me pull the door close. Turning to thank him, I noticed his dark eyes that sparkled, a touch of gray in his black hair and a grin that said “Hi! I’m a charmer.”
It was a chore finding a seat in the meeting room which overflowed with parents, children, and siblings. Finally, I discovered one across from a mom by the name of Thelma. After introducing ourselves, we made small talk. A few minutes later Karen entered with two women dressed in fun costumes; she announced that the playroom would be down the hallway. Excited children followed the women with smiles and curiosity. Karen welcomed the guests and talked about the struggles of reuniting a family and a victim of either physical or mental abuse. Stopping about 20 minutes later she opened the floor up for discussion. There was no response, so she approached it by asking questions at first everyone sat around looking at each other. Gradually a conversation began and the atmosphere of the room shifted from reserved to agitated. The separation of the victim and family caused a wide range of emotions, either at the changes in their daughter’s personality or by the secrecy created by what is perceived to be her protecting him. Two families from that evening stuck with me Mr. Charmer’s and Thelma’s.
At one point Karen asked, “Do any of you feel your daughter’s abuser is still present?” This question seemed to spark something in Mr. Charmer who spoke up, “Like a ghost standing in the corner!” The sparkle had left his eyes, “He might as well be around. Corey makes choices based on what would make him happy and second guesses everything. Why is deciding so hard? She is intelligent and capable of making smart decisions. Doing something new scares her.” The eyes now seemed to plead for answers, “When she was a little girl she was independent and adventurous no one told her what to do. She never needed someone’s approval for anything. Now something as insignificant at picking out clothes or deciding what to have for supper can paralyze her.”
As Karen offered encouragement to Cory and Mr. Charmer I became distracted by Thelma’s fidgeting; wringing her hands laying them in her lap and then repeating the process all the while tapping one foot on the floor. When our eyes met, I smiled, her eyes would dart away. The conversation stalled, and the room became deafening quiet when Thelma practically shrieked, “She protects him,” then in a quieter voice “he can’t do anything right and Tina just makes excuses for him. One job, two jobs, a dozen jobs and later no jobs. He throws a tantrum and the next thing you knew they’re on their way out the door. When the pouting starts, she will move heaven and earth to make him happy which only happens when he gets his way. It doesn’t matter what we are doing she will always put him first. If she wouldn’t always bend to his will, then he wouldn’t be such a baby.“ I stared at the lady across from me examining her face. “If Tina was just tougher with him, he would’ve straightened up.”
As the group talked about women protecting their abuser, my brain pounded, “She’s not protecting him!” Glancing around the room I shrugged my shoulders, “She’s not, she’s protecting herself! Hellfire could down on him if it didn’t always land in her lap. I want to scream every time I hear someone says ‘she keeps protecting him’. She is struggling to exist with as little fallout as possible.” Looking straight at Thelma I continue, “Tantrum! It’s not an outburst it’s planned to get her to respond in a way that benefits him. He will raise the stakes. His actions will become sneakier, meaner, more manipulative until he gets what he wants and then there will be consequences for making him wait. What you truly don’t understand is that he will not lose. To him there is no line that cannot be crossed; there is nothing he won’t do. He will destroy her, the children and anything else that gets in his way. There is one goal: self-satisfaction. I am sorry but there is nothing she can do to make him do the right thing.”
That was my sole contribution; the rest of the night I watched and listened.
After cookies and coffee, everyone ventured back into the dark windy night. Looking out the window while my car warmed I notice Cory and her father walking down the path. Cory’s children climbing all over Mr. Charmer whose sparkle had returned to his eyes. Tina and her mother also strolled down the path. I couldn’t help notice a gap between them with no noticeable conversation being made. Snuggling into my coat and grabbing my purse I made my way toward the door. Karen and I walked to our cars together she asked how I was doing. I lied and said “OK”. Truth be told I envy the ladies that have family around: cups of coffee, dinners, game nights, movies, and most of all no lonely holidays. As I left the meeting, my thoughts focused on Cory and Tina and the friction in the family. It seems to me that when a man abuses a woman, it cracks the closeness of a family. I observed in amazement and bewilderment at the divide between parents and their daughter caused by the abuser – an outsider.
My thoughts focused on the “ghost”. My ex is my ghost and the control he still possesses over me frustrates me. Without thinking, I will act in a way I am sure will not irritate him or cause him to pout. With the help of my children, I am starting to catch myself. People assume I protect him, but in all reality, it is me protecting me. There are still days when I feel there is something wrong with me. Daily I fight the emotions that surface caused by the mental abuse. I don’t trust my emotions and am a much weaker version of myself. In the past, I was much stronger and more confident. For a fleeting moment, I wondered if I was the lucky one. How disappointing it must be to have family around and not be able to confide in them, lean on them. How hard to realize they don’t understand.
Cory’s story: She spent the last twenty-five years with a man that slowly and methodically destroyed her autonomy and sense of adventure. He determined where they lived, chose their way of eating, picked out her clothes. He moved her right up the social ladder. Gradually she came to accept that her thoughts really don’t have any worth. She surrendered her individual sense of being; becoming a reflection of his perception of a proper wife. Everything about her reflected him: His status, place in society, and his idea of the perfect marriage. The persona they built crumbled when she stepped out the door. It didn’t take her long to realize there was nothing of her. Now every decision is about trying to rebuild her life and it overwhelms her. The spontaneous teenager with a sense of adventure is no more. In her place stands a 48-year-old woman who cannot afford to make foolish mistakes about her future. I expect eventually Cory will be okay; she has it better than most. She is well-educated, earns a six-figure income and has the support of family.
Tina’s story: Tina married about 20 years ago. She expected everything would be similar to her parents and grandparents. The physical abuse was recognizable but the mental abuse was a foreign entity. Using subtle lies, confusing accusations, and character insults he confused her until she questioned her memories and her sanity. There was something about him that was off but she couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. Frequently she found herself second-guessing her abilities and judgment which is why given a choice she chooses to believe the judgment of others. If he gets upset she feels threatened and on-edge and learned quickly life was simpler for her when everything was easier for him. What others couldn’t see is that she didn’t understand that the stuff he was doing was wrong because she didn’t understand what he was doing. One day her stepmother, Mary, sat her down and explained in Mary’s words: “he’s crazy” and “only thinks about himself”. The more they talked, the more the confusion lifted. Today Tina is overly sensitive to how people respond to her. She worries about talking too much or saying something dumb. Without reason, Tina apologizes for her feelings, thoughts, and actions; the feeling that something is terribly wrong is ever present. Amazingly she is dumbfounded when someone wants to be her friend. Slowly, she is finding she can interact with others and have healthy relationships. I have no idea if Tina will make it; every day is a struggle. Financially she is strapped most months don’t end well. There are no hobbies, movies, or eating out; she can’t even go to the doctor when needed. The world moves around her and she watches. Tina is alone and lonesome; she doesn’t feel support from her family. She is the perfect candidate to return.
The state of our national discourse is, to put it mildly, discouraging and unhelpful, and the reaction to the recent shootings only amplified how bad it is. Once again, everyone took their place along partisan battle lines to pound the same old drums, but it’s past time we admit that there’s something deeper going on in America than too many guns, or too few guns, or violent video games, or the President’s rhetoric, or even the evil of white supremacy.
That’s not to say there are no good policy proposals out there to address these issues, which really do need to be addressed. As a Second Amendment guy, I could buy into something like what David French proposed last year in National Review: a system for family and employers to report warning signs and separate unstable individuals from their guns.
But, as French admits, the best that policy would do is keep troubled young men from acting on their violent impulses. It doesn’t address the young men themselves, or the source of those impulses. And that’s exactly the issue we can no longer ignore. Yesterday, I highlighted the crisis of virtue across our culture, and how that will lead to the loss of freedom. It’s an historical inevitability. Today, I want to zero in on the problem of men in our culture, especially young men. They aren’t okay.
Writing at the LA Times, professor of criminology Jillian Peterson and sociologist James Densley offer a revealing look at America’s mass-shooters. They’ve studied every shooter since 1966, and the vast majority have four things in common: “early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at a young age”; seeking “validation” in extreme communities, often online; openly admiring the work of prior shooters; and nearly all are longtime loners with an identifiable “crisis point” like getting fired or expelled from school. Oh, and by the way, they are men.
In fact, the young men who appear on CNN’s list of the “27 Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History” have something else in common: almost all of them grew up without fathers.
In other words, with few exceptions, the signs that a young man is headed down a dark road overlap noticeably with signs we see across our culture that young men in general are not doing well.
Lacking strong role models and healthy social groups, increasingly left behind academically and vocationally, and floundering for a purpose in life beyond video games, countless males have sought solace in the only communities they can find—usually online—where the foulest kinds of hate, conspiracy theories, and nihilism await them.
Of course, these factors don’t always lead one to become a mass-shooter. For every young man catechized into some toxic radicalism (like Dylan Roof or the El Paso Shooter) or into nihilistic unbelief (like Dylan Klebold and the Aurora theater shooter), and then chooses to act on it with a gun, millions of others do not.
Still, that doesn’t mean they’re doing well either. Quite the opposite: our society largely fails to cultivate young men, to teach them about their fallen natures, and to morally form them to choose love over hate and courage over violence. Thus, the epidemics of addiction, aimlessness, depression, irresponsibility, perversion, selfishness, victimhood, and low expectations continue.
Until we face the fact that the root of our problem lies here, the fruit will continue to be bitter. Unless we rebuild the institutions of civil society that cultivate young men, there is no way forward.
We certainly won’t fix this problem through government policies or mindless distractions. Only the church, with its kingdom vision and distributed work force, has the necessary resources to target young men with truth, forgiveness, accountability, and hope.
And on today’s BreakPoint podcast, Shane Morris and I dive even more deeply into the issues confronting so many of our young men–and how the church can and must respond.