Category Archives: abortion

From Disappointment to Determination: Christian Mission Liberated from Political Ideology

As the Biden presidency and a Democratic-led Congress assumes power, it is right that we reflect on not only the new policies, but the deeper issues affecting Christian believers in the USA. The awfulness and immorality of the violent protests of January 6, 2021 forever stained what little legacy the Trump Administration may have had. There was some progress on important issues in the past four years, especially economic policies, pro-life initiatives, diplomatic successes in the Middle East, and some first steps in ending mass incarceration. At present, these forward steps are lost in the political and public reactions.

In the next six to twelve months, thoughtful Christians that voted for a Biden Presidency will be encouraged by the new tone and a few of the policy changes, especially climate change, immigration, and perhaps pandemic policies. But many of these voters will discover that voting against the previous administration or taking a “Never Trump” posture will backfire as more radical policies and continued polarization afflict our nation. The hostility of the new administration toward traditional morality, abortion, affordable energy, and people of religious faith will take its toll on many.

Here is the good news: these deep disappointments with political leaders, parties, and ideologies are a divine opportunity for Christians to engage the public square in wiser, more effective ways. For almost fifty years, there has been a split between conservative and progressive factions of Christianity, with both groups believing that the Gospel and Scripture support their perspectives. The divides have grown greater over time and the anger between the two groups is palpable: “You cannot be a Christian and vote for _____ [fill in Democrat or Republican; Biden or Trump, etc.]!” Conservatives focus on abortion, marriage, individual responsibility, and respect for America’s heritage of freedom. Progressives advocate systemic changes for gender and racial equity, compassion for the poor, and expose the serious injustices of our history. How can these groups do more than tolerate each other? Where is the common ground?  (I am speaking of serious followers of Christianity that believe in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration of the Bible, and importance of the local church, not folks that deny cardinal doctrines or want to “remake” Christianity.)

There are four keys that can unlock a new unity among believers, with enormous impact for the common good of society:

  • First, all Christians must recognize that “ideology is the enemy of theology” (Donald Bloesch) and carefully examine whether they are cherry-picking their favorite Bible passages to fit their political beliefs.
  • Second, all Christians and church communities must stay engaged in the political arena with prophetic distance (encouraging and critiquing both friends and opponents) without capitulating to the lust for power. 
  • Third, churches and Christians from all traditions can unite for the common good, affirming the integration of spiritual and social vitality, compassion for the vulnerable, ethical free enterprise, support for families, and peacemaking, one zip code at a time.
  • Fourth, Christians want for all neighbors the liberties they desire for themselves. Living peaceably with those that have a different view of the universe is the genius of a free and virtuous society.  One can desire the conversion of a friend while working together for the community. Our faith was born in the midst of pluralistic empires, and it thrives when its institutions are not coercive, but persuasive.

We can begin a new chapter of unity without uniformity, of community with a conscience, and a Table where very different people are welcome. Our nation needs voices free of rancor and filled with wisdom.

Inconvenient Insights, part 2

The American and European public squares are replete with extremism, polarizing language, and moral cowardice. Yes, that is correct: moral cowardice. Political correctness and an unwillingness to confront facts are deceiving millions into buying into false historical narratives and feeling paralyzed about making any absolute statements. Here are some paradoxical realities that deserve critical thinking and deep reflection, not platitudes and soundbites.

Islamic jihadists do not believe in fostering a pluralistic society, with liberty of conscience/religion, free speech and diverse worldviews learning civility and common good unity. While the vast majority of Muslims live peaceably with neighbors of all faiths or none, the agitators are proposing either a gradual or abrupt takeover of the West (and the rest) in the name of their faith. Extremists defend the subjugation and even extermination of all opponents of Islam and in chilling Orwellian fashion, declare that true “freedom” is only found in submission to their version of Islam.

What makes the above particularly nefarious is the cozy relationship between the pagan-secular Left and radical Islam. The political Left will persecute artists and bakers for refusing to endorse same sex weddings but turn a blind eye to the jihadist’s oppression of women, anti-Semitism, and blatant denunciations of gender and sexual liberty! This is moral cowardice where hatred of Jewish and Christian morality triumphs over history and reason.

Abortion kills babies. While a tragic necessity in rare cases of the mother’s survival or baby’s unviability, “pro-choice” advocates are now celebrating the termination of life at all stages, from early gestation to infanticide. And anyone who disagrees is depriving women of reproductive rights. The missing part of this “pro-choice” extremism is the choices men and women make that lead to conception and the irresponsibility of fathers in particular to care for the fruit of their intimacy. While incest and rape may be presented as exceptions, the vast majority (97%+) of abortions are elective due to economic or emotional issues. This is moral cowardice.

The refusal of many conservative Christians to face the realities of emotional and sexual abuse, racism, and sexism within their histories and current structures is also moral cowardice. In a convoluted desire not to bring shame to the church or the gospel, leaders that cover serious transgressions or make excuses for a lack of justice actually do greater harm to Christian witness. Regardless of ecclesial traditions, no person should feel disempowered or marginalized by any church. Becoming intentional about lamenting our tragic history of racism and sexism can lead to new friendships and true reconciliation. Victims of abuse must be heard and helped, and perpetrators brought to justice.

Moral cowardice can be overcome with humility and love, intentional repentance and resolution, and fostering new friendships across the barriers we create, and Jesus died to destroy and transform.

Observations: Thinking More Deeply

Life is often a prism, with color and light refracted so many ways. When we hear each other’s stories, we see more of the beauty and brokenness, wit and wisdom in our world. Ask a friend to share their experience – and you will be better for listening.

Beauty, goodness, justice, and love are four “echoes of a Voice” (N.T. Wright) that point toward a Creator and the best attributes of being human. 

While I enjoy watching Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors rise to the occasion in a game…I want to thank every faithful husband and wife, mom and dad, woman and man who show they are champions every day. Your love, diligence, loyalty, and hard work make our world better.

When I was 12, my dad wrote in the Harvard Alumni Journal that “Charles is a fiery humanist and a repressed basketball star (too short).” I had heart, but not the gifts needed to go beyond early high school. But we can all discover and fulfill our place in God’s world, growing in character, charisma and capacity.

Deeply sad. A young, privileged politician harasses, tried to dox and calls on others to make life miserable for a 77-yr-old woman praying for mercy and protesting abortion. Passionate disagreement is fine, but this kind of inversion where a kind woman is accused of all manner of hatred is inexcusable. Friends on all sides of all issues – can we please debate without intimidation?

Awakened today with all the personal and social tensions of our world on my mind. Feeling hopeful and wounded, envisioned and saddened at the same time. What can I do? 
Pray. Steward today well. Refuse entrapments. Bless the very ones angry with my worldview. Live in the opposite spirit of our polarized world. 
Friends of all political and religious persuasions: You are loved and respected and together we can improve our world one act at a time.

Do we Really Desire the Truth?

“The truth shall set you free.” This quote from the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verse 32 is often quoted and rarely understood in context. Jesus is speaking about the differences between his real followers and those that profess religious adherence while avoiding obedience to love and truth.

Just before this verse, Jesus shares that his true followers obey his commands…and THEN, the fullness of liberating truth comes into view. In other words, knowledge alone does not liberate; a relationship with God is what matters most.  And, consistent with all of St. John’s writings, proof of life with God is that God’s people love one another and all around them, willingly serving those that cannot return the favor.

When God-infused, unselfish love is the foundation of our lives, we can face the truth of any matter head-on, because we know we are loved by God and care more for his glory and the good of others that our selfish wants. We can face the truth about ourselves and our need for continual transformation. We can face facts about the economic, moral and social issues of our day, knowing that our neighbors are both divine image-bearers and in need of redemption.

Knowing the truth is liberating and here are some applications to everyday issues:

  • Abortion kills a human being. In an extremely small number of cases, preserving a mother’s life may require a tragic moral choice; however, technology allows us to see a real human developing inside the womb!
  • Our southern border needs regulation with hospitality, security with compassion. Ignoring it only exacerbates human suffering and political and economic agendas of elites that have no contact with the people involved.
  • Our soaring deficits are inexcusable, with tax revenues the highest in history. Smart people can balance our federal budget in a few hours, while cowardly congressional leaders kick the can down the road of future oppression.
  • Affordable housing is a local and national crisis. Neither socialism or hyper-libertarianism can lead us to the private-public partnerships and common good solutions we need. 

If we love God and our neighbor, we will seek solutions for these and other apparently intractable problems. We can face both human misery and divine opportunity with hopeful realism. It is time for thoughtful folks to say, “Enough!” to posturing politicians and pundits and work for justice neighborhood by neighborhood.

Finding Wisdom Amidst the Noise

Every day we are besieged with information. Some is useful…much is mere advertising. Our internet world often confuses data with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Soundbites and click-throughs are replacing research and reflection. On the American scene we already have nearly 20 presidential candidates vying for attention. Here are some observations from the last several weeks that I hope will prompt thoughtfulness:

Political correctness and cynicism are two sides of the same coin of fear. The first aims not to offend at the expense of humility and reality. The second avoids debate with caustic declarations that only widen differences. 
Let’s choose critical thinking with mutual respect – our civil institutions depend on people of character looking at reality and finding wisdom, not parroting talking points or practicing stand-up comedy.

Still reflecting on the powerful movie, “Unplanned” that Kathy and I saw together. Without hyperbole, this may unveil for abortion what Schindler’s List did for the Shoah. I recommend parents and teens pray and see it together. Not for children or the unprepared. There is divine grace for all ensnared in this tragic issue.

Encourage someone today. Everyone needs one person saying, “You can!” In a world of flattery and insults, genuine, positive encouragement is a gift. Our word in season may be just what someone needs in the midst of life’s pressures.

I challenge all aspiring Presidential candidates to offer doable solutions, not irresponsible speculation. Balance a budget (tax revenues are at an all-time high), secure a hospitable border, continue improving private/public healthcare and work on infrastructure and economic opportunity. President Trump is easy to criticize – but can opponents offer viable policies that have all Americans in mind?


We must start negotiating on important issues such as immigration reform, a balanced budget, infrastructure, improving access for economic opportunity, fixing student debt, and many more. Interpretations of the Mueller Report and investigations will never end…meanwhile, constituents deserve attention to solvable issues that promote human flourishing. Will we choose posturing or productivity; positioning for 2020 or practical help in 2019?