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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Today’s BreakPoint: Divorce Is Down During COVID

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Divorce Is Down During COVID

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WHY?

“Stressful” doesn’t really begin to describe a year like 2020. Between the pandemic, the lockdowns, cancelled classes, lost jobs, and an election to rival trench warfare, you would expect a heavy toll on marriages and families. But a recent piece in the Washington Post offered some of the best news we’ve gotten in quite a while. Divorce rates in the United States have declined, and marriages have grown stronger — during the pandemic…

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Sliding toward Pedophilia

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Today’s BreakPoint: Sliding toward Pedophilia

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Each chapter of the sexual revolution has featured an updated version of the same myth: “Don’t worry, the kids will be fine. Sex with anyone anywhere? The kids will be fine. Separate marriage from procreation? The kids will be fine. No-fault divorce? The kids will be fine. Graphic sex education in schools beginning in kindergarten? The kids will be fine. Same-sex marriages eliminating either a mom or a dad from the picture? The kids will be fine. 

They weren’t…

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Children & the Culture War

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Today’s Breakpoint: Children, the Church, and the Culture War

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God’s Blessings Ain’t (Just) a Strategy

07/6/20  and

A few days ago, a colleague shared comments he and his wife get when people find out they have seven kids: “Are they all yours?” “Were they all planned?” “What are you, Mormon?” And, most awkward of all: “You know what causes that, right?”

This kind of reaction to large families, which I’ve gotten with only four kids, reveals the assumptions about children that largely go unquestioned in our culture, even in the Church.

It is widely assumed, for example, that children are a choice. This was not always so. The introduction of reliable contraception, especially the pill, made it possible to divorce the inherent connection between sex, marriage, and procreation…

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Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, the DC Sniper, and the Importance of Fathers

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Today’s BreakPoint: Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, the DC Sniper, and the Importance of Fathers

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JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

Like many basketball junkies deprived of March Madness and the NBA playoffs, I devoured ESPN’s ten-part series “The Last Dance,” the definitive account of one of the NBA’s G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time), Michael Jordan. Anyone who watched the emergence of the Bulls in the 1990s knew that Jordan’s talent and athleticism were matched only by his drive, but I’m not sure any of us fully understood his unique ability to manufacture grudges for competitive advantage, or to either motivate or run off teammates.

In one area, however, Michael Jordan was just like the rest of us. The series dove deeply into his love and devotion for his dad. The greatest athlete of the 20th century, the international icon and billionaire, longed for his dad’s acceptance and love just like everyone else, from the time he was a boy until long after his dad was murdered in North Carolina in 1993. His dad was the reason for his first retirement. His dad was the reason behind the iconic photo of Jordan heaving tears, hugging the championship trophy, after returning to the game…

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The Aftermath of Bostock: A Cultural Seismic Shift

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The Aftermath of Bostock: A Cultural Seismic Shift

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It takes a phrase like “seismic shift” to describe how much the 2015 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges altered the political and cultural landscape. Not only did it redefine marriage across cultural sectors and an entire nation, it had a huge impact on religious freedom. In an instant, those who held traditional beliefs about marriage became social pariahs.

If the Obergefell earthquake was the legal and cultural equivalent of a magnitude 7, last week’s Bostock v. Clayton County decision may be a magnitude 9. If you’re like me and had to look up how earthquakes are measured, that’s about 100 times as powerful…

CONTINUED AT:

 

Rediscovering Truth

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Rediscovering Truth

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“Truth. Love. Together” Begins Today

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH DAVID CARLSON

In February, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of three female high school track athletes who are being forced to compete against biological males. During the oral arguments, the presiding judge demanded that ADF attorneys refer to the biologically male athletes as females, and to do otherwise would not be “consistent with science” or “human decency.”

Of course, as ADF attorneys noted, the entire case is based on whether it’s a fact that biological males are males, and whether a chosen gender identity is consistent with science or reality. ADF has called for the judge’s recusal, and rightly so since, at least in this case, he’s not capable of adjudication, only activism.

Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson were among the loudest prophetic voices of decades past, warning of the loss of what Schaeffer often called “true truth,” the idea that truth is objective and, to a large degree, knowable.

When a federal judge announces that affirming observable biological reality is “indecent,” it demonstrates that more than our views about gender have changed. The basic definition of truth has changed. In other words, the most basic conflict in our culture is not just what is considered to be truth and what is not, but what we mean by truth in the first place.

The classic definition is that truth refers to that which corresponds to reality. For decades now, beginning among intellectual elites and then shaping the academy and now various segments of culture, the correspondence theory of truth has been challenged by another definition: that truth is nothing more than a social construct, or views imposed on us by previous generations and those in power.

As the comments of this judge make clear, this new definition of truth is now largely taken for granted, not just in universities but across different segments of our culture. How this happened is important to understand.

At a very simple but hopefully not simplistic level, humans can look to three resources in seeking knowledge: revelation, reason, and experience. By revelation, I mean we can know something because “God said it.” By reason, I mean that through our intellects and logic, we can arrive at truth. By experience, I mean we can know because of what we’ve been through, or what we feel or know to be true.

Throughout history, different religions and philosophies would emphasize one or more of these over the others. For example, religions that believed in God would prioritize revelation. Classic Greek thought often prioritized reason, as did the ideas of the secular Enlightenment.

The Christian worldview teaches that God has revealed Himself through His creation, in His Word, and ultimately in Jesus Christ. By revelation, we know that as Image Bearers of God living in His orderly universe, our reason and intellect can grasp certain truths about the universe. In this view, knowledge is nothing less than what astronomer Johannes Kepler described as “…thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

In the decades since the Enlightenment, and especially into the 20th century, as scientific discovery and technological innovation exploded, reason became elevated as the central and definitive means of knowing truth. Skepticism about the supernatural led to a cynical distrust of revelation.

There’s so much more to this story than I have space for here, but the violence and bloodshed of the twentieth century, especially among those nations and cultures considered most scientifically advanced, damaged trust in reason. If revelation was a myth and pure reason a catastrophe, what’s left? Experience.

This is largely where we are today, where both revelation and reason are secondary, and even expected to serve our own internal sense of reality. Experiences may not be questioned. And so, here we are, with judges who insist that males are females, governors who call abortion “life sustaining,” and with politicians claiming their own facts.

It’s easy in such a situation for Christians to miss the deeper aspects of the real challenges we face, but it’s not simply this issue over here or that battle of ideas over there. The struggle of our time is, at its most basic level, a struggle to define reality. That’s why, as a friend of mine says, we so often find ourselves using the same vocabulary but not the same dictionary.

The battle for hearts and minds is quite often the battle over the definition of words. Defining truth is as essential as defending it.

The opening module of our Truth, Love, Together virtual event is all about recapturing a Christian vision of Truth, one that is, ultimately grounded in the person of Jesus Christ. This first module is entitled “What Is Truth?” Os Guinness opens the module in a session called, “The Roots of the Present Crisis.” Dr. Sean McDowell follows with “What Happened to Truth?” and Abdu Murray’s session is about “Loving Truth in a Post-Truth World.” After all, if truth is grounded in the person of Christ, our proper response must be to not only know truth, but love truth. And, in a special bonus session, Natasha Crain speaks on “Teaching Your Kids Truth in a Noisy World.”

Over 8,500 people have already registered for this free, weekly on-demand, online event.

Come to Conference.ColsonCenter.org to register today.


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

Marriages Hit a New Low

Mark ‭10:6-9‬ “But from the beginning of the creation, God made ...

Above added


BreakPoint Daily

Marriages Hit a New Low

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How We Rebuild a Culture of Commitment

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

According to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics, marriage in the United States of America has never been less popular. Today, in the U.S. there are only 6.5 weddings for every 1,000 people, the lowest rate since we started keeping records just after the Civil War, and despite the fact that millennials, who are the biggest generation in American history, are in their peak marriage years right now. And, these numbers are pre-COVID-19. As the report’s lead author suggests, the economic fallout of the virus will likely “further discourage marriage in the near term….”

Economic factors do, of course, affect marriage rates. Even before COVID closed everything down, single breadwinners could find it quite difficult to support a growing family. In recent decades, the “marriage gap,” the different marriage rates between upper and lower income Americans, has become more pronounced, with marriage becoming more and more a luxury of the wealthy.

At the same time, it’s a worldview mistake to think that economics alone can explain what’s happening to marriage. As Bradford Wilcox with the Institute for Family Studies reminds us, “there was no marked increase in divorce, family instability, or single parenthood at the height of the Great Depression.” By contrast, Cornell sociologist Daniel Lichter points out that some of the biggest drops in marriage rates, at least in recent years, have occurred during economically prosperous times.

The bigger factor here is not money but culture.

Exhibit A: As marriage has receded, cohabitation has increased in both numbers and social acceptability. Pew reports that a quarter of unmarried young adults are living with a partner. That’s the highest percentage since our record-keeping began.

The rise of cohabitation has followed not only a shift of attitudes about out-of-wedlock sex, but about the institution of marriage itself. Several years ago, another Pew study found that more than half of young people in America thought marriage was “obsolete.” As one pastor remarked on Facebook, young people who pursue the skills necessary for marriage are often treated as if they’re wasting their “real” potential, and those who get married in their early or even mid-twenties can inspire a level of shock and shame that was once reserved only for couples “living in sin.”

Even worse, our culture’s current portrayal of the “good life” involves career-minded singles living in chic urban apartments, sowing their wild oats on casual dating and hookup apps, and leading lives incompatible with a spouse, much less children.

The road to rebuilding a culture that values marriage will be long and arduous, but we do have some clues about what works when it comes to creating and preserving that kind of culture. The Institute for Family Studies reports that, contrary to a popular but mistaken talking point, the institution that remains the single best refuge for marriage is the Church. It is still true, even today, that among the surest predictors that a couple will get and stay married is how regularly they attend religious services. That’s why bringing people to God and bringing people together are so often a package deal.

Even so, the Church simply must first embrace her God-given task of re-catechizing His people about what marriage is. Too often, the Church is trying to put a band-aid of sexual morality on the gaping wound of bad Christian thinking about marriage that is often no different than the larger culture: That marriage is either a lifestyle accessory, a waste of youth, or an institution of personal happiness. We won’t know what marriage is, or how to do it, unless we know what God created marriage for.

Hint: Though companionship is certainly a wonderful side-benefit of a healthy marriage, God didn’t create marriage to solve Adam’s loneliness problem. Check the text again: He created marriage to solve Adam’s aloneness problem. It’s an important distinction that not only explains what marriage is for, but sets the groundwork for all of the moral expectations God gives us about sex and marriage.

Even after the wedding, the Church is still the best place to strengthen marriages, a necessary task if we are to see the kind of culture where people think of lifelong marriage as part of the good life. Recently, J. P. DeGance joined me on the BreakPoint Podcast to talk about a unique, data-driven approach to help pastors identify struggling marriages and then works to help save them in their communities. Working with pastors and churches in Jacksonville, Florida, DeGance’s organization, Communio, saw the divorce rate drop 24 percent in just three years. That’s many times faster than the national average.

Saving existing marriages is essential to encouraging new ones. How many young people are out there that have never seen a single marriage work? How can we expect them to trust an institution that, in their view, not only consistently fails but also causes so much pain and heartbreak when it does?

J.P. DeGance will join Katy Faust, Pastor Bob Fu, and Student for Life president Kristan Hawkins for Module 5 of our upcoming  “Truth. Love. Together” virtual event. He’ll be talking about how the Church can help restore a marriage culture. The Truth.Love.Together event is absolutely free. Sign up and learn more here.

 

 

Anderson Cooper and the New Normal

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Anderson Cooper and the New Normal

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Why Surrogacy Is Oppression

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH MARIA BAER

A couple of weeks ago, a woman had a baby. Childbirth, of course, happens tens of thousands of times a day in the United States, but this baby was a product.

A couple paid a doctor and an agency to secure the child. The mom’s relationship with the child is governed not by biology, but by contract, one with clauses and exceptions and conditions. A man who made no genetic contribution is being called the child’s other “father,” along with Anderson Cooper, a major media celebrity, which is why this baby’s birth made national headlines.

Cooper is a homosexual man. He and his now-ex partner hired a woman to be a surrogate, a practice increasingly common in the U.S. The headlines announcing the couple’s acquisition were universally fawning, as if this story carried none of the extraordinary details listed above at all: Anderson Cooper talks first weekend as new Dad;” “Anderson Cooper announces birth of his son; urges people to hold on to ‘moments of joy.’”

None of these articles, in fact not a single one that I could find in any major publication anywhere, even hinted that there might be any ethical concerns with Cooper’s purchase. In fact, when author Joyce Carol Oates mentioned on Twitter – after explicitly congratulating Cooper, by the way – that she found it curious the news coverage never mentioned Cooper’s hired surrogate at all, she was excoriated.

The speed at which our culture is able to normalize a behavior thought just yesterday to be somewhere between questionable to unthinkable is stunning. To not mention any shred of ethical hesitancy around the decision to purchase procreation, particularly by a couple who chose an intentionally sterile union in the first place, is one thing.

To gush over the doting dads as if the way this whole thing happened is quite unremarkable? Well, that’s something else entirely. After all, culture is often most powerful in our lives where it makes the least amount of commotion. When something is no longer considered debatable, and is instead assumed, it’s been normalized.

This story demonstrates that commercial surrogacy, including cases in which the child is intentionally deprived of its mother, is now fully normal.

We’ve repeatedly pointed out the many ethical problems with surrogacy on BreakPoint: it assumes “children” are a right that God never promised; it assumes a Gnostic view of human bodies and relationships; it denies children the opportunity to be raised by their biological mom and a dad; it treats children as products instead of image-bearers; it poses a significant risk for women to be exploited financially.

We’ve also talked about the disastrous consequences of the sexual revolution, especially how it has divorced sex, marriage, and procreation and devalues other human beings for how they can serve our own sexual desires.

Here, in this story, we have a new chapter of this: Two men who choose a sexual relationship that doesn’t include a uterus still consider themselves entitled to the products of a uterus. And so, they hire a uterus, not really the whole woman. After all, their decision makes the woman a mom, but they don’t want that part of her. They only want the part that will allow them what they want.

We see the world through the stories we tell ourselves, and each reporter who told this story tacitly agreed that Cooper and his partner were the good guys. As Joyce Carol Oates quickly discovered when she asked why the baby’s mom should be left unnamed, the protagonist role was already taken, and it would be awkward to cast the hired help as the antagonist. So, they just didn’t mention her at all. That was probably what was specified in the contract anyway.

But what about her? Was she, as most women who agree to surrogacy tend to be, lower-income? Was the financial pressure simply too great to not be attracted by the payday?

Perhaps the strangest part of the growing cultural acceptance is how surrogacy is so often championed by the Progressive Left, especially as it has increasingly served the cause of same-sex marriage. Yet, it violates almost every central tenet of the worldview they claim.

After all, if anything is “capitalism run amok,” it’s commercial surrogacy. Is there a more disgusting display of greed than the rich paying the poor for their babies? And, surrogacy exploits the vulnerable. It robs women of their bodily autonomy, especially when contract clauses commit them to reproductive decisions, including abortion. Increasingly, surrogacy is about two wealthy men using a woman for her body, while appropriating a role that only she can fulfill.

Surrogacy is also the final chapter of a culture that prioritizes adult happiness over children’s rights, in this case by offering a service only the very wealthy can afford. Surrogacy denies that children have rights to their mother and father, and that a mother has a right to her own child. Like transgenderism, surrogacy denies biological realities, in this case the miraculous bonds, both physical and emotional, that connects mothers with their children. Surrogacy serves money, and makes winners and losers. The losers are always women and children. The winners are always those with big bank accounts.

If there were a segment of culture that should rebuke surrogacy but often doesn’t, it would be the Progressive Left, which fancies itself the champion of the vulnerable, the poor, and of women. Some do, in particular feminists who see the potential for exploitation.

If there were another segment of culture that should rebuke surrogacy but often doesn’t, even more so in fact, it would be Christians. Some do, but too many don’t, mostly because their worldview analysis stops at what’s normal, rather than what’s right.

Behind Anderson Cooper’s money and these headlines is this baby’s mom. No matter what we tell ourselves about how willing she was or how better off she is now, she is harmed and so is her son – who somehow knew from the moment he was born to look for her. Unfortunately, he won’t find her. Shame on us.

Resources:

New York Legalizes Commercial Surrogacy

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

Women Are More Than Wombs

John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint | February 28, 2020

The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | September 24, 2019