Supreme court case

Please pray as the Supreme Court begins to hear oral arguments in a case deciding whether the Obama Administration should be allowed to force business owners to violate their faith by paying for someone else’s abortion pills. Think about it: Imagine that Obamacare mandated provision of health insurance for the abortion procedure itself. Would you feel that companies like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties had a right to refuse to support it? Sound like a stretch? Don’t forget that abortion has been consistently framed in liberal politics as a healthcare issue for women. Why should this be a strange possibility? Beyond this case, I am personally not supportive of the role government is taking in healthcare but that’s an issue to address in the next two elections. Please pray and vote!

For thoughtful analysis

Follow the case

Live Blog: Contraception Cases at Supreme Court

Steve Cornell

Did Jesus welcome unrepentant sinners?

I read an article this morning emphasizing a response to the Supreme Court decisions about marriage based on the grace of the gospel.

While I appreciated the tone and many of the reminders, a particular line from it troubled me. The author invited us to reflect on the way that, “Jesus first welcomed and received unrepentant sinners” before saying, “Go and sin no more.”

The word “unrepentant” is what concerns me.

The author rightly suggested that, “The love that is meant to mark us as Christians is meant to receive people in the generous and gracious way Jesus received people.”

This emphasis, however, could be a little misleading when it comes to unrepentant people — even in relation to the courts’ decision.

First, in keeping with the theme of the article, Jesus was often ran with the “wrong people” of society. Why do you think they labeled him “the friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19)? The self-righteous crowd shook their heads in disgust at the people he spent time with and used his associations to renounce him. Even at the end of his life, when he died for us on the cross, Isaiah foretold his final association — “He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Secondly, Jesus also clearly and repeatedly jolted the self-righteous religious establishment with culturally scandalous statements and stories. Imagine their response when he said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31). How could he tell a story that placed a tax collector in the temple and sent him home justified before God instead of the Pharisee? Wow! There is no softly and tenderly Jesus is calling in this – just bold truth to cut to the heart of our self-righteous ways!

Yet the unrepentant sinners of Jesus’ day were mostly the religious leaders. And we could hardly say that he warmly welcomed them. Broken sinners, yes; self-righteous, arrogant (“see and do things my way, or else” sinners), no. It’s important not to be confused on this matter so that we don’t melt everything into a non-Christ-like kind of “just accept everyone no matter what” approach.

When His disciples began to mimic the behavior of the religious leaders, asking about greatness in the kingdom, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2). Yes, changes must be made because “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). Without these changes, you will not even enter heaven. It is reserved for the poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). 

Now I certainly agree with the author that, “To receive an ‘other’ as they are, without first mandating behavior changes, requires us to tolerate a bit of anxiety or discomfort. It demands that we release, or at least relax, our natural impulse to announce our opinions. To receive another as they are, and not as we wish them to be, is to agree with the apostle Paul’s conviction that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance.”

But many of those who argue for gay marriage mirror the intolerant religious leaders of Jesus’ day more than the broken and contrite ones to whom the kingdom is open. They are not the “sinners” who seek grace but act more like the self-righteous who condemn and ostracize any one who disagrees.

Many of those promoting gay marriage have become some of the most intolerant people in our country. They operate with a “see things my way, or else” approach. If you hope to show them kindness it will only be accepted if it comes with full endorsement and celebration of what they want. The slightest disagreement with them wins one labels like “hate-monger, bigot, racist, homophobic, etc…

Many don’t realize that anger and bitterness underlies much of the homosexual lifestyle, not because of society but because of personal histories of those who choose to live it. This is one reason that gay relationships are notorious for domestic problems. 

I hope this balanced perspective leads to deeper discussions on our calling as Christ followers — especially in a context of responsible citizenship in a democratic form of government. 

Steve Cornell

8 Links worth seeing

  1. The End of the World’s Leading ‘Ex-Gay’ Ministry
  2. Group apologizes to gay community, shuts down ‘cure’ ministry
  3. Conversion therapist: Lawsuit won’t stop us
  4. Why Do So Many Rappers Impersonate Christ? 
  5. The Evolution of the Swimsuit
  6. Marriage rate may be low, but more weddings predicted
  7. Marry Me. And Me
  8. The Pornography Culture (an older column worth seeing again)

Other ministries dedicated to helping those with unwanted same-sex attractions

Restore True Tolerance to America

We need a nationwide effort to expose the way tolerance has been used as an agenda of power to coerce society to conform to certain ways of thinking on debatable issues. 

In my role as a political columnist, I am considering starting a campaign titled Restore True Tolerance to America.

My motivation comes from the gratitude I feel for the freedom we’ve experienced in our country and the costly sacrifices made to protect those freedoms.

Tolerance has clearly been the most emphasized social standard for the last several decades.

Perhaps it was originally aimed at replacing the ugly sectarian and segregationist thinking that hurt our country with a shared commitment to respect and civility for all.

As a virtue, tolerance is necessary to a diverse society of ethnic, religious, ideological and lifestyle differences. Tolerance is not just “putting up with differences,” but also truly respecting others despite differences. Tolerance, as a virtue, shines most when people deeply disagree but treat each other with respect. 

Society suffers when people do not respect each other on lawfully permitted differences. But somewhere along the way true tolerance was replaced with a counterfeit operating under the same name. The new version demands agreement not respect, and the results are eroding our freedoms. 

Tolerance now feels more like a strategy of power being used to control people.

On many issues the public largely feels like we are given a choice between agreeing with a set of politically approved ideas or being labeled intolerant or even a hateful bigot. This is the tone that now dominates political debate, and both sides have been guilty. 

I am not suggesting that it’s easy to protect civility in a diverse country. But I know that we can’t promote civility by forcing everyone to see things one way under threat of being labels and ostrasized for disagreeing.

I believe most people have had enough of this distortion of tolerance.

  • Are you tired of being told what to think and say on certain issues?
  • Do you feel forced to pretend you agree on too many sensitivity issues?
  • Does tolerance feel more like a strategy to silence you than a virtue to free you?
  • Do you feel like there are a growing number of sensitivity police trying to control our country? 

Zero tolerance on sensitivity issues has resulted in a long list of absurd punishments — even on children in our schools. Hate laws are being used to enlist thought police to read motives where they don’t exist. People are being sued for following their long-held religious and moral convictions. 

I am grateful to live in a country that has largely moved past the sad days of racial and gender sectarianism. We should protect always people from discrimination based on matters of nature beyond their ability to control or change. I am not suggesting that we are completely victorious in these areas. Like most people, however, I am tired of those who refuse to celebrate our advances out of a desire to be seen as victims to whom society is indebted. 

We need a wake-up call to what’s happening in our country. Forced agreement on debatable issues threatens true tolerance and violates freedom. The virtue of tolerance functions where there is disagreement with respect. Intolerance forces people to pretend they have no differences. 

If we care about freedom, we need to promote respect, honor and neighbor love — true tolerance. But we must equally reject coercion and manipulation.

We’re in for a lot of trouble if we fail to restore true tolerance in our country. 

Want to join the campaign?

It would be a public and media campaign to restore tolerance and freedom to our Country before it’s taken over by those using tolerance as a strategy of power to control people. I am in the early stages but I am thinking about using every medium of communication possible to bring this message to every corner of this great country.

Restore True Tolerance to America could be accomplished through:

  • Television
  • Newspapers
  • Websites and Blogs
  • Web casts and commercials
  • Posters, bumper stickers, signs, mailings, t-shirts, mugs, etc…

All funds would be used for production and promotion costs of the campaign to restore tolerance and freedom to America. If interested,

s.cornell@millersvillebiblechurch.org

Steve Cornell

See also: 

The Easter question

How final is death? Can we expect to live after our earthly lives end?

We know that the story of Jesus didn’t end with death because, “God raised him up putting an end to the agony of death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power” (Acts 2:24).

And because Jesus broke the power of death, those who trust him as their Savior rest confidently in his promise, “my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:39-40).

On this promise, I expect to be resurrected one day. I am not merely expect to live after the death of my physical body. Resurrection is more than life after death. Resurrection is life after life after death. Yes, you read that correctly. Resurrection is bodily life after life after death. It’s postmortem existence stage two. I expect to return to identifiable bodily existence just as Jesus did (see: Philippians 3:20). But I am humbly grateful to know that I will return in a body that is free from sin and death!

The body is important to God. Six events of biblical history endorse the importance of the body.

  1. Creation: God fashions the body from the dust of the earth
  2. Incarnation: God enters the body prepared for him (Hebrews 10:5)
  3. Resurrection (Christ’s and ours)
  4. Ascension: Jesus has bodily existence at the Father’s right hand
  5. Salvation: The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit
  6. Glorification: Final redemption of the body (Romans 8 )

If we take Jesus Christ at his word, everyone who has lived should expect to be resurrected. Jesus said, “a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out (John 5:28-29).

Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18).

“Christianity is, among other things, the wonderfully good news that this life is not our whole story.” (Robert Roberts)

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Until that great day, we ask God for grace to apply the truth that, “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). Yes, we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23).

Steve Cornell

A plea for civility and sanity from brave liberals and progressives

 

This is a plea for civility and sanity among brave liberals and progressives. It’s time for many of them to break the silence and oppose the tone changes and agendas in their party. They have good reasons to be concerned about the reputation of their side of politics.

The old vision of being known as a party of tolerance, civility and rational thinking has been hijacked by a vocal minority who use social coercion to bully fellow Democrats into their agendas.

Frankly, we need large groups of citizens from both sides of the political aisle to refuse blind loyalty to their party — especially if it requires violations of civility, tactics of manipulation and attitudes of arrogance and intolerance toward those who differ.

On the liberal side, the growing tendency toward these things portrayed vividly on cable networks like MSNBC, and required of the faithful, ought to be enough to move large numbers to threaten to become independents.

As a liberal, does it disturb you to hear Chris Matthews from MSNBC irrationally gush over President Obama as if he is a messiah? Does something bother you about the cynical and condescending tones of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell? Do you find it disconcerting to hear the president discredit a news outlet because it’s actually willing to disagree with him? I cringe when I hear Sean Hannity at Fox News mockingly refer to President Obama as the Anointed One. I cringed over the apocalyptic rhetoric that flowed from Glenn Beck.

Liberal Democrats once prided themselves on being a party of choice where one was free to think and be an individual. Now being a liberal requires uniformity to a growing list of litmus tests. For example, if you’re a progressive but believe that abortion actually destroys a human life, you’ll need to remain in the closet if you wish to be accepted in the party. You must oppose all things pro-life and support many other liberal causes with blind loyalty or risk rejection. If you admit to views that oppose the litmus tests, you’ll likely hear someone ask, “You’re not becoming one of those right-wing nuts are you?”

To be a member with full acceptance, you’ll need to toe the party line on global climate change, gay marriage and gun control. You’re not permitted to think logically or rationally about issues if it leads to differences from required party opinions. You must be anti-war while demanding the rights of women to serve in combat. You must oppose the evils of tobacco while supporting legalization of marijuana. You must boast allegiance to science while ignoring scientific evidence of abortion as the destruction of a human being.

I believe that there are many liberals who don’t like the tone that has taken over their party. Yet they fear the consequences of opposing it. They also know that one of the primary sources behind these changes is the attachment of their party to a small but radical pro-homosexual contingency.

Although many liberals and progressives don’t appreciate being associated with an agenda to change laws regarding marriage, they know that the slightest contradiction against this agenda will result in harsh criticism and social exclusion.

They know that the way this agenda is being shoved down the throats of Americans is becoming one of the foremost threats to civility. All reasonable people should find it alarming that a prominent pastor could be invited to give an inaugural prayer until a radical group discovered that he gave a sermon many years earlier explaining his personal views about homosexual behavior.

The Democratic Party is now dominated by litmus tests. The same criticism once used against conservatives is now true of Democrats.

It’s time for thoughtful citizens on the liberal side who desire to be known for reason and civility to protest these changes. It will take courage because of the bullying tactics used to force acceptance of required thinking, but if more liberals refuse to acquiesce, perhaps there is time to save the party. Then again, the best way to send a message might be for for large numbers of Democrats to become independents as many former Republicans have done.

Steve Cornell

* For a similar plea, see the opening of Dr. Ben Carson’s recent speech with President Obama present – Listen Here

8 Links Worth Seeing

 

 

  1. The Joy and Gravity of Adoption
  2. Justice, Politics and the Cross
  3. Wheaton College Wins ‘Major Victory’ Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate
  4. Porn Use and Supporting Same-Sex Marriage
  5. A Christian Perspective on the Explosive Child
  6. The Loss of the Innocents
  7. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Two Same-Sex Marriage Cases
  8. The Gospel According to Christopher