Today’s BreakPoint: Chris Nikic (who has Down Syndrome) Completes Ironman

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Today’s BreakPoint: Chris Nikic (who has Down Syndrome) Completes Ironman

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More Importantly, He Bears God’s Image

 

This past weekend in Florida, 21-year-old Chris Nikic completed one of the most challenging feats in all of sports. The Ironman triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride, topped off by a full marathon, a 26.2 mile run. At one point, Nikic fell off his bike. During a nutrition stop, he was attacked by ants. Still, he completed the race in 16 hours 46 minutes and 9 seconds, 14 minutes under cutoff time. Oh, and Chris is the first athlete with Down Syndrome to finish an Ironman competition…

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No Christianity, No “Human Rights”

…The only secure basis for human rights, of course, is the Christian belief that humans are created in the image of God…

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Today’s BreakPoint: No Christianity, No “Human Rights”

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JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

In July, the U.S. State Department’s “Commission on Unalienable Rights” released a draft report that attempted to provide a grounding for our country’s commitment to human rights. Fundamental among those rights, the report declared, are freedom of religion and the right to private property.

The Commission sought comments from the public, and they’ve gotten them. While the part about property rights garnered little response, the insistence on religious liberty has sparked a firestorm of protest, including from a “group of academic and religious leaders.”…

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COVID-19, Depression, and Suicide

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COVID-19, Depression, and Suicide

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Lessons from the Coronavirus Part 8

JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts warned of its impact on people with mental illnesses. For those with mood disorders, the pandemic packed a “one-two” punch: the depression and anxiety caused by the fear of contracting the coronavirus itself, and the depression and anxiety accelerated by measures taken to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Even the wide use of the term “social distancing” instead of the more accurate “physical distancing” communicated isolation and the loneliness.

Add to all that canceled appointments with psychiatrists and therapists, and we should expect a steep decline in mental health. Which is exactly what happened…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

 

 

 

Why the Bible is Not a Prop

“In this moment of national crisis, rather than fighting over the optics around the Bible, we’d be far better off reading, hearing, and applying what it has to say.”

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Why the Bible is Not a Prop

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JOHN STONESTREET

Presidents and politicians using the Bible or Christian symbolism for political ends is nothing new. Some, as President Trump did Monday afternoon, pose with Bible in hand. Far more common is the selective quoting, misquoting, or downright twisting of Bible verses to advance political talking points.

After nights of rioting and violence across America and even right outside the White House, the President punctuated his speech by walking from the Rose Garden to an historically important church that was nearly burned down the night before. He then posed with a Bible in hand beside the church sign.

The Bible should never be used as a prop…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

Our World Split Apart and the Hope of Pentecost

On the heels of my article yesterday Riots and the Need a Heart Transplant BreakPoint offers their take on the matter:

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Our World Split Apart and the Hope of Pentecost

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Christians in a Time of Social Breakdown

JOHN STONESTREET

Think about it. We can go to space. We can instantly communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. We might even develop a treatment for COVID-19. It’s amazing what humans can do. And yet, and yet, we are, by any objective measure, a nation barely holding itself together. Our best scientific achievements and our brightest technological innovations offer no solutions for our deepest divisions or our most serious problems.

Though no one who witnessed the scope and scale of the chaos this weekend could conclude “all is OK,” there are indicators everywhere that our nation’s health is worse than we’re willing to admit. We are what Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn called, in his famous 1978 Harvard University commencement speech, “a world split apart.” Like his audience that day, we too risk underestimating just how deep the fissures are.

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

The United Nations’ Quest to Create a Genderless World

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The United Nations’ Quest to Create a Genderless World

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JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

Created 75 years ago this October, the United Nations was hailed as “the last, best hope for peace,” a moniker that proved neither true nor possible (though, as I once heard a former Israeli special forces guy put it, “no one ‘monitors’ better”). A recent tweet reveals how the organization’s goal has been expanded to include the ever-elusive “equality.”

“Help create a more equal world,” said the Tweet, “by using gender-neutral language, if you’re unsure about someone’s gender or are referring to a group.” As part of the System-Wide Strategy on Gender Parity,” UN employees are being encouraged to speak and write in ways “that [do] not discriminate against a particular sex, social gender or gender identity.”

Continued at: Source

 

Adoption Is Beautiful, Surrogacy Isn’t

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Adoption Is Beautiful, Surrogacy Isn’t

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Responding to Concerns and Questions

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH MARIA BAER

Recently, prompted by the news that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and his homosexual partner paid a woman to carry a child for them, my colleague Maria Baer and I released a BreakPoint commentary on the serious ethical problems of surrogacy. Surrogacy intentionally breaks the mother/father/child connection, commodifies both babies and women’s bodies, and puts both women and children at risk of exploitation. That this immoral practice is now normal is, as we said, another chapter in the bad ideas of the sexual revolution and its victims.

A few readers and listeners wrote in to ask whether our concern that surrogacy intentionally severs the bond between mothers, fathers, and children also extends to adoption.

In short, the answer is no. Adoption repairs a fracture. Surrogacy creates one.

God’s design for the family is that a man and wife become one flesh and raise children together. The Fall frustrates this design in different ways. Families can break. Couples may find that their sexual union is infertile. Biological parents find themselves unable to care for their children for various reasons. A sexual act, disordered toward illegitimate pleasure or even selfish violence, produces a life unintended and unexpected.

Whatever the brokenness, adoption offers a means of restoration. Implicitly, the act of adoption recognizes that something is not as it should be, whether or not someone is morally culpable. A family break of some kind, typically at the beginning of the procreative act, is addressed and, many times, even restored by a new family. As open adoptions become more common, there is even, to some degree, a merging of families or of biological parents into the new family.

In all of these ways, adoption portrays God’s relationship with us. Adoption is among the many marriage-and-family metaphors used in Scripture to describe how God relates to His people. Paul, in Ephesians, calls Christians “adopted” sons and daughters of God, though Jesus Christ. The fracture created in the Garden and extended by our own brokenness is repaired by Jesus. As a result, we are adopted children of God, with all of the rights and benefits and status involved.

In the comments we received about the previous commentary on surrogacy, some questioned whether a woman’s relationship to the children she bears is really all that important. This was asked by adoptive moms who are just as emotionally and spiritually connected to their children as any biological mother could be. In our view, that’s obviously and beautifully true, and not something we questioned in our commentary.

What we did say is that women who bear children do have an inherent connection to the children they bear. This is true whether or not she enters into a surrogacy situation or an adoption contract. When a mom relinquishes her right to raise a child, which in some adoption cases is a wise and selfless thing to do, she is still a mom. Adoption recognizes that reality and attempts to, at some level, redeem the brokenness. Surrogacy intentionally creates the brokenness. A mother-child relationship is created only to be knowingly and intentionally severed.

Adoption is proof that physically bearing children is not the only way a woman becomes a mother. Among the darkest evils of surrogacy is that it treats a mother as less than a whole person, wanted for her procreational parts that are increasingly treated as consumer products, especially as commercial surrogacy becomes more common (driven as it is today as part of the LGBTQ remaking of marriage and sexuality). Surrogacy also treats children as consumer products, instead of as gifts.

We received other feedback on the surrogacy commentary, too. Unfortunately, it confirmed the concern that led us to take on this issue in the first place. Surrogacy has been so normalized, even in the Christian world, that speaking against it is quite controversial.

It shouldn’t be. In our fallen world families break, but we should never break them on purpose.


Resources:

Anderson Cooper and the New Normal

John Stonestreet & Maria Baer | BreakPoint | May 8, 2020

New York Legalizes Commercial Surrogacy

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | April 15, 2020

Is Critical Theory Compatible with Christianity?

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Is Critical Theory Compatible with Christianity?

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If you haven’t heard the terms “intersectionality” and “critical theory,” your children likely have, at least if they are in college or even high school. What began as an academic theory decades ago is now a dominant way of seeing human relationships, at least for many: There are the oppressed, and there are the oppressors.

JOHN STONESTREET

If you haven’t heard the terms “intersectionality” and “critical theory,” your children likely have, at least if they are in college or even high school. What began as an academic theory decades ago is now a dominant way of seeing human relationships, at least for many: There are the oppressed, and there are the oppressors.

In our latest “What Would You Say?” video, Joseph Backholm describes how critical theory reduces human beings to categories according to race, gender, sexual preference and orientation, income, and on and on. Because some groups of people are more privileged than others, identifying one’s group ultimately determines one’s moral authority. Intersectionality, as Joseph explains, is an attempt to solve the problem of belonging to more than one group by measuring out the level of oppression a person experiences due to their various identities.

Ultimately, critical theory seeks to address these perceived privileges and imbalances of power and oppression, and it has become a dominant theory in higher education and in other arenas of culture.

So how should a Christian look at the critical theory and intersectionality? Are these concepts compatible with Christianity?

Here’s part of Joseph Backholm’s response from the latest “What Would You Say?” video:

Critical theory and intersectionality are not consistent with Christianity, and here are three reasons why.

First, critical theory offers a different view of humanity than Christianity.

Critical theory claims that our identity as human beings is rooted in things like race and gender, features that differ from person to person. But the Bible grounds our identity as human beings, and the value every human has, in the fact that we are created in God’s own image. This is something every human being shares.

While critical theory pits some groups of people against other groups based on their status as oppressors or oppressed, the Bible says we are all equal before God: created equal, equally valuable, equally guilty of sin, equally deserving of punishment, and equally able to find grace and mercy in Jesus.

Which leads to the second point.

Critical theory offers a different view of sin than Christianity

The Bible identifies sin as anything that violates God’s design for people, including unjust oppression of other people, but critical theory identifies sin only as oppression. As a result, advocates of critical theory would see biblical practices such as discipleship, correction, leadership, and reproof as sinful assertions of power, if the speaker is among the oppressors, and would excuse sins such as anger, jealousy, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, or envy among the oppressed.

The Bible says that we are all guilty before God, regardless of social status, race, or economic situation. The Bible condemns oppression as one of but certainly not the only way in which humans rebel against God.

Because critical theory gets the problem wrong, it also gets the solution wrong, which leads to the third point.

Critical theory offers a different view of salvation than Christianity.

According to the Bible, because we are all equally guilty of sin, salvation can only be found in Jesus through repentance. Our hope is found in being forgiven of sin.

Because critical theory teaches that oppressors are guilty and the oppressed are not, salvation for the oppressed is found, not through repentance, but in social liberation here and now. Their hope is only though activism.

In other words, critical theory has a completely different understanding of who we are, what the problem is, and how to fix it, than Christianity.

Come to WhatWouldYouSay.org for the full video or subscribe to the What Would You Say? channel on YouTube

Resources:

The Parents of Special-Needs Children Have Needs, Too

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The Parents of Special-Needs Children Have Needs, Too

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JOHN STONESTREET  WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to all kinds of “I’m trapped at home with my kids and I’m going out of my mind!” memes, and more than a few articles that would fall into the “first world problems” category. I’m not saying there aren’t challenges, of course. As one of the more helpful memes puts it, with a wistful Forrest Gump looking into space, “And just like that, no one ever asked again what a stay-at-home mom does all day.”

One group of parents we should especially keep in mind at this time is the group least likely to constantly remind us what they are going through, if for no other reason than they’re simply too busy. I’m talking of parents of children with autism and other developmental disabilities. With most, if not all, special education programs and services suspended indefinitely, these parents are even busier than usual.

Many of us haven’t fully thought through what makes “special education,” well, so “special.” The goal of special education is to “help individuals with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community…” While that includes academic subjects, those with developmental disorders need to learn essential skills that other children can often learn by imitating parents and their peers, including basic social skills.

Consider something as simple as looking at someone when they speak to you. There is a kind of self-awareness and the ability to acknowledge another’s presence taken for granted in this basic social habit. And, this habit is an essential part of so many other skills that can dramatically impact and even improve one’s social life. A colleague of mine has a son with autism, and he marvels at how his son went from ignoring other people, to greeting them and even sticking out his hand expecting a handshake.

Another incredibly helpful skill to learn is how to cope with the sensory overload. This defining aspect of autism is why so many children on the spectrum tend to be anxious and retreat into distinct behaviors, such as rocking and flicking their fingers. Simply put, they are trying to turn the world’s volume down.

Though parents are, of course, essential to helping their children learn these skills, it often takes special training to learn how to teach these skills to those with unique challenges. So many parents rely on the sorts of programs that have not been available since the start of this pandemic. Even more, such programs provide consistency to those who often feel much safer with a routine.

Children with Down Syndrome present different kinds of challenges, which also require the training and expertise of others that many parents rely on. In addition to losing these services, studies indicate that respiratory tract infections (viral and bacterial) do appear to be more common in most young people with Down’s Syndrome.” Imagine the anxiety and stress being felt by parents of these kids in the age of COVID-19.

Finally, there’s the fact that, for many parents, the time their kids spend at school offers a necessary respite from an extraordinarily stressful and difficult life. Though they love and serve their children, they’ve lost some necessary down time because of this pandemic.

So, what can we do to help? First, we can pray for these families. Keep in mind that not only are they carrying a heavy load, but right now they offer a powerful and unique witness about the sanctity and dignity of all human life. Their witness is especially important now, at this time, in a culture where so many are left out of the categories of human dignity. All over the world, people with Down Syndrome are highly targeted in utero for elimination through selective abortion. And, of course, if a genetic test to determine autism existed, or a number of other conditions, these children would be under increased threat as well.

Second, we can ask the parents we know in these situations how we can help them. Something as simple as running errands or grocery shopping for them can make a huge difference, since getting out of the house is even more difficult for them than the rest of us.

And, don’t underestimate the power of simply calling and asking parents how they are doing. One of the most challenging parts of being the parent of a child with special needs, as I am told, is how very isolating it can be. There isn’t much time or energy, much less opportunity, for a social life. I have it from a few very good sources that they would appreciate you just letting them know that you are thinking about them.

As I said, most of these parents aren’t going to spend the limited time and energy they do have to tell us what they’re going through. So, it’s up to us to let them and others know that their tremendous and heroic efforts aren’t going unnoticed.


God Is Always at Work Behind the Scenes

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God Is Always at Work Behind the Scenes

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Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Part 7

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH DAVID CARLSON

Recently, a young woman walked into the Waterleaf pregnancy care center in Aurora, Illinois. She thought she had entered the Planned Parenthood clinic across the street. She asked for an abortion pill. What she got instead was love and concern.

Believing, as a Waterleaf staffer would later describe, that mistaking the pregnancy resource center for Planned Parenthood “was a sign,” she stayed for an appointment and is rethinking her decision around the pregnancy.

One of the best parts of this story is that God has been orchestrating the details of it for well over three years now. Not that long ago, the lot upon which the Waterleaf center now sits was empty. Caddy-cornered from one of the largest Planned Parenthood clinics in the Midwest, the lot had been used for years by pro-life Christians, where they would pray, protest, and reach out to women seeking abortions across the street.

The property was acquired by a friend of mine (he’s also a friend of the Colson Center), someone I’d call the least likely person to be paying attention to something like this. He didn’t even know much about the property until a Democratic lawmaker contacted him as the new owner and asked him to put an end to the pro-life prayer gatherings and protests. As you may have guessed, the lawmaker was on the receiving end of generous contributions from Planned Parenthood.

Well, our friend not only declined the lawmaker’s request, he also decided to seek a better use of the property for the cause of life.  At the same time, God was moving the leadership of the Waterleaf Women’s Center to expand their outreach and ministry – and their current lease was expiring. My friend then recruited a world-class executive coach and consultant, who helped lead the design process for a new facility.

There are more details of God moving and working, but let me just save time and say the result is a brand new, expanded, aesthetically beautiful and intentional building that, by architectural design, communicates light, life, and hope to men and women facing unexpected pregnancies. And it sits across from what’s often called the “Super Wal-Mart” of Planned Parenthood, an ugly, fortress-type building with hardly any windows that is aesthetically appropriate for what happens behind its doors.

But there’s more. Waterleaf’s beautiful new facility came online just before the COVID-19 crisis. Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood announced plans to consolidate its 17 centers in Illinois down to six, which means that their Aurora facility is seeing additional traffic and extended hours in the attempt to expand their deadly services of chemical and surgical abortions.

Waterleaf has responded to that announcement, thanks to the generosity of its supporters and the grace of God, by increasing its clinic hours and outreach efforts so they can “stand strong to preserve the life of the unborn.” By the way, I’ve seen these two buildings, and they could not be more starkly different. The one that offers death, looks like it does. The one that offers life and hope, looks like it does, too. In other words, it really wasn’t an accident that this woman went into the wrong building. God had been orchestrating her mistake for well over three years.

Even when we can’t see clearly what He is ultimately doing, God often choreographs our small acts of obedience into something glorious. This is a story involving multiple people and parties, multiple callings including those in professional ministry and excellent business leaders, and then even a global pandemic.

The details here are staggering… a property being sold and acquired, years of faithfully showing up outside an abortion clinic to pray and protest, a board being prompted to extend their work, choosing between architectural firms, building a new facility, seeing and seizing an opportunity… so many leaps of faith here. So many small acts of obedience. The whole time God was orchestrating and preparing His people for this very strategic moment when Planned Parenthood would double-down its assault on women and their unborn children in this city of Aurora.

The lesson for anyone who wants to find and follow God’s will is pretty clear. God’s will isn’t so much about what He wants to do through us someday, it’s about what God wants us to do next. God orchestrates small acts of obedience and advances His Kingdom. We do our best. The results are up to God. Or as T.S. Eliot said, “For us there is only the trying. The rest is none of our business.”

And let’s pray for all of the pregnancy resource centers at this time. Like Waterleaf, they face new challenges and new opportunities. Who knows? Maybe God is orchestrating a similar story in your town… and maybe it involves you?


Resources:

We Can Only “Imagine” a Utopia: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 1

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | March 23, 2020

Deciding Who Gets Treated and Who Doesn’t: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 2

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | March 25, 2020

Gender Transition Surgeries in a Global Crisis: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 3

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | April 1. 2020

The Viral Pandemic of Distrust and Misinformation: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 4

John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint | April 17, 2020

The Non-Essential Church? Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 5

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | April 20, 2020

A Christian View of Suffering: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 6

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | April 21, 2020