Obama’s big gamble and how Christians should respond

I was surprised to see President Obama take a public stand supporting gay marriage this week immediately after the North Carolina landslide referendum against it. I don’t question Obama’s sincerity, but politicians never make public pronouncements without a cost/benefit analysis, which leads me to wonder whether Obama’s campaign is taking a calculated risk to bait the culture warriors into unleashing an unprecedented fury that will alienate the independent voters they have already terrified by gobbling up Obama’s bait in the contraception battle. As an evangelical Christian, my focus in all circumstances is on building the kingdom of God and sharing the gospel with everyone I encounter. Any political stances I take are strategically driven by this primary focus. So I am very worried that my fellow evangelicals are going to lunge after Obama’s latest bait and cause tremendous collateral damage to our Christian witness. As Rachel Held Evans wrote on Wednesday, if Christians  get swept up again into culture wars leading up to this election, then we will continue to poison our witness and lose young Americans to the gospel. We cannot keep absolving ourselves of responsibility for our witness by blaming the “liberal media.” I’m not at all saying that we need to conform our values to whatever the secular consensus degenerates into, but the Bible is not silent about how we should conduct ourselves in the world in which our primary investment should always be our witness. And many Christians have failed to exude a Christlike spirit in our contributions to public discourse. Continue reading

Opportunistic “persecution”

Normally on Fridays I don’t write anything on my blog because I’m hard at work on my sermon. But the whole contraception quagmire has gotten me too churned up to focus. There are countries in our world right now where Christians are actually being murdered for their religious beliefs. This is particularly the case in Egypt, where the Coptic Christians are being brutally attacked by Muslim lynch-mobs. It is profoundly disrespectful to the genuine martyrdom that these Christians suffer when American evangelical celebrities like Rick Warren try to fan the flames of our government’s contraception debate for politically opportunistic reasons. And it’s abominable for recent Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographer Eric Metaxas to try to make an analogy between contraception and the Holocaust. Continue reading

What makes pregnancy a disease?

In protesting the Obama Administration’s new decision to treat contraception as preventative medicine, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said that he “objects to treating pregnancy as a disease.” A lot of people have ridiculed the Roman church’s stance on contraception and pointed out that some 95% of Catholics use contraception. While I understand the practical concerns that motivated the Obama administration’s decision, I ultimately share the sacramental worldview behind Archbishop Dolan’s perspective: since every human is created by God in His image, human life should never be treated as a consumer product. The only problem with Archbishop Dolan’s worldview is that it’s completely incompatible with the social forces created by capitalism. The Vatican recognizes this problem, but Dolan may be too cozy with his Ayn Rand-loving fellow Catholic politicians to discern the way that capitalism redefines pregnancy in terms of consumerism. It is sadly a very common form of ideological schizophrenia in America to be pro-life and simultaneously in love with the laissez-faire capitalism that makes life a commodity. Continue reading