Christians

I'm With Mrs. Gates: Contraception Shouldn't Be Controversial

http://youtu.be/LhAhg-PdJ1Q

I have to admire Melinda Gates' chutzpah.

In her recent TED talk and on her blog, Impatient Optimist, Gates insists that "contraception is not controversial" — when, in the last year, it has been explosively controversial, with many Christians (not just Catholic Christians) seeing the "contraceptive mandate" as a real threat to religious freedom.

Yesterday, the new Affordable Care Act laws took effect, meaning that most employers must now provide free birth control coverage in their health insurance policies. Whether it constitutes a threat to religious liberty and whether  remains to be seen — faith-based groups with religious objections to the law have a "safe harbor" until Aug. 1, 2013. Whether HHS will create an extension of this harbor is as yet unknown.

Regular readers of my blog know where I stand on health insurance. As to the contraceptive mandate specifically, I'd prefer not to wade in those particular waters — David Gibson had a good piece if you're interested in the question of whether the mandate kills religious freedom. However, I do want to consider two small points about contraception that lean me toward the (self-identified Catholic!) Melinda Gates point of view:

1. Contraception doesn't take life;
2. Women want contraception.

Muslims, Christians, and Hope for a Peaceful Future

Muslim and Christian women, Anna Jurkovska / Shutterstock.com

Muslim and Christian women, Anna Jurkovska / Shutterstock.com

The view from my office in New York City overlooks Ground Zero. Every day I’m in the office, I have the opportunity to observe the massive construction project as well as the thousands of visitors to the 9/11 Memorial pools. It is all a stark reminder of how a person’s faith can be radicalized and politicalized.  

Unfortunately, violence perpetrated by those who have hijacked their faith continues to occur on almost a daily basis. 

The Islamist terror group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of Christians in northern Nigeria since 2009. The killings have escalated in recent months, and security forces have clearly failed to protect lives, forcing hundreds to flee for safety.

Earlier this month, al-Shabaab from Somalia attacked two churches in Kenya leaving 17 people dead and scores of people injured, including women and children.

However, attacks are taking place against Muslims as well. Last week an Islamic Center in Missouri was torched. Earlier this year a mosque in Queens was firebombed.

Whether deaths occurred or not, all these acts of violence need to be condemned by all faith leaders. 

As a Christian leader, let me specifically address the Muslim-Christian conflict.

Christians Do Not Have Freedom of Speech

Red tape over mouth photo, Stefan Redel / Shutterstock.com

Red tape over mouth photo, Stefan Redel / Shutterstock.com

One of the things that make America so great is the ability to express yourself, much to the joy, and even pain, of those around you. The freedom of speech is a two-edged sword and more often than not the one who wields it doesn’t fully grasp the power behind it.

Sadly there is no better example of poor usage of this freedom than when directed at the political arena. While late night talk show hosts have always taken shots at the President; now with social media outlets everyone has their two-cents to share … truth is most people would do well to learn the value of biting their tongue.

While I find great joy in the liberty found within the Freedom of Speech, I’ve come to realize that while it’s an American right it’s also much bigger than that … it’s a human right.

However, it’s not a Christian’s right.

Ten More Cliches Christians Should Avoid

What Would Jesus Do? Post-its. Keith Bell / Shutterstock.com

What Would Jesus Do? Post-its. Keith Bell / Shutterstock.com

After writing up my first list of Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use, some folks wrote me with other suggestions. After simmering on it for a while, I came up with a second list of ten to supplement the first.

And as there was some confusions from a handful of fellow Christians about the intent of the articles: these are not intended to tell you to believe or not believe a certain set of things. Christians have a Public Relations problem; that much is self-evident. So in as much as I can respond to that, I want to offer these as advice on how to change the way we approach people about our faith.

On to the next ten cliches for Christians to avoid …

Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use

Preacher photo, Dennis Owusu-Ansah / Shutterstock.com

Preacher photo, Dennis Owusu-Ansah / Shutterstock.com

We Christians have a remarkable talent for sticking our feet in our mouths. When searching the words most commonly associated with “Christian,” the list ain’t pretty. I think part of this can be attributed to a handful of phrases that, if stricken from our vocabulary, might make us a little more tolerable. Yes, these things may mean something to you, but trust me, non-Christians don’t share your love for these tried-and-true cliches.

So in no particular order, here are ten phrases Christians should lose with a quickness.

Anders Behring Breivik and Muslim-Christian Relations

ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

Anders Behring Breivik places a clenched fist on his heart as he arrives in central court in Oslo. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images

I opened up the NY Times homepage yesterday to find this headline: On Witness Stand, Norwegian Says He Would Kill AgainRemember this guy?  The Times says authorities have described Anders Behring Breivik as a “fundamentalist Christian…obsessed with what he saw as the threat of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration to the cultural and patriotic values of his country.” 

He killed 77 people, including 68 teenagers, in Norway last summer. 

Although Breivik admits to the murders, he doesn’t believe he should be held criminally accountable—he believes his actions were preventive measures, or, “self-defense.”

Poll Shows Christianity Good for the Poor, Bad for Sex

WASHINGTON -- Americans feel the "Christian faith" has a positive impact on help for the poor and raising children with good morals, according to a new poll, but it gets a bad rap on its impact on sexuality in society.

In a new study conducted by Grey Matter Research, more than 1,000 American adults were asked if the Christian faith had a positive, negative, or no real impact on 16 different areas of society, such as crime, poverty and the role of women in society.

Crossing the Racial Divide

Christians and Social Justice, a Sojourners discussion guide.

Christians and Social Justice, a Sojourners discussion guide.

Trayvon Martin's slaying has ignited a national discussion on race and privilege.

Many of us recognize that Trayvon’s untimely death is not an isolated incident.

Racial profiling. Discrimination. Enmity. Suspicion. Intimidation. Fear. Hate.

For far too many Americans, these are everyday realities. 

As Christians, we are called to fight injustice and work to heal the broken systems — and broken relationships — of the world. We act, with Jesus Christ, to bring about reconciliations — between people, people groups, communities; within (and between) organizations, institutions, and social systems.

Sh...tuff Emergents Say: 'Ya Goin' to Wild Goose This Year?'

Photo by Courtneyperry.com/WildGooseFestival.org.

Sojo blogger Nadia Bolz-Weber speaks at the '11 Wild Goose Festival. Photo by Courtneyperry.com/WildGooseFestival.org.

My friend, Travis Mamone, did a short video about all the stuff emergent Christians are prone to pop off about. Yeah, he pretty much nails me in it.

Check out Travis’ blog at the link above on his name, and, dig the Something Beautiful Podcast where he’s a co-host.

Love wins.

Things I Hate (But Shouldn't)

Grumpy kitty. Image via Tumblr.

Grumpy kitty. Image via Tumblr.

I know, Christians, love everyone and everything, right? Mister Bluebird on my shoulder and all that jazz.

Well, that ain’t me. Not that I don’t try, but I also don’t try to fake it when I’m not feeling the love.

My wife, Amy, told me that one reason she married me was because she knew she could trust me. It seemed to her that I lacked the capacity to lie. And while this is reassuring on one level, the stark honesty can sometimes be a little jarring, I expect.

What I have found is that naming things out loud is the best way to help you get over them. Some of these might seem like relatively trivial things to you, but trust me – for a quasi-Aspie like me, they are often the bane of my existence.

So without further adieu, here’s a list of things that I can’t seem to shake, they annoy me so incredibly much. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...inside the blog.

Pages

Subscribe