Tag Archive for moral authority

The Manhattan Declaration

manhattandeclarationLast week some very influential Evangelical and Catholic church leaders signed a joint statement affirming the sanctity of human life, marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This statement is called the Manhattan Declaration. I am posting an executive summary here for you all to read. Please consider attaching your name to this historic document by going to www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Here are a short list of those who have already endorsed the declaration:

  • Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Diocese of Washington, D.C.
  • Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop, Hope Christian Church
  • Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Diocese of Philadelphia
  • Timothy George, Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University
  • Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Ron Sider, Professor, Palmer Theological Seminary and Director of the Seminary‚Äôs Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

Here is the executive summary:

Manhattan Declaration Executive Summary

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Human Life

The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

Marriage

The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality – the covenantal union of husband and wife – that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor, and protect.

Religious Liberty

Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in anti-discrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution – including government itself – on which society depends.

Unjust Laws

As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning, our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of sheer human will.

Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.

Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.

Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Please consider signing the declaration posted at www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Who Really Cares About Human Rights?

humanrightsI believe in human rights. I believe this because humans are uniquely created in the image of God. So when the popular culture discusses issues concerning human rights and human rights violations, I pay attention.

Recently there has been much discussion about who has a corner on defending human rights. There are many on the political left that would say that those on the political right are cold, heartless, and uncaring as it relates to human rights. Many on the right claim that those on the left are naive, hypocritical, and dangerous. Who is correct? Does either side have any credibility to say that the other side is wrong?

The slaying of committed abortionist Dr. George Tiller has become ground zero for this discussion of human rights. I have made my position clear that despite the fact that Dr. Tiller was a murderer, morally there was no justification for anyone to murder him. I believe that all who are authentic Christians agree with me that murder in or outside of the womb is an offense to God. I am amazed, however, how this discussion has been hi-jacked by those who claim to support human rights. They have used the murder of Dr. Tiller to claim some kind of moral superiority that just doesn’t exist.

To illustrate my point I offer this video of Bill O’Reilly discussing Dr. Tiller’s murder. I know many of you probably don’t like Bill, but I ask you to consider his point. It might make you go hmmmm. It did me.


Setting The Financial Example

cash“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

– Romans 13:8 (ESV)

It would appear that debt is in vogue. Our culture is saturated with messages that encourage families and individuals to owe lots of money. To make matters worse, our federal government has bought into the debt as fashion mentality by mortgaging our future to fund its spending binges. There seems to be no negative social consequences for living way above your means. If the President says its okay for the country it must be okay for my family, right?

Wrong! Consider the following consumer debt statistics:*

  • According to a recent USA Today article about debt, 78% of Baby Boomers have mortgage debt, 59% have credit card debt, and 56% have car payments.
  • If you use credit cards instead of cash you will spend 12-18% more.
  • The average family today carries $8,000 in credit card debt according to the American Bankers’ Association.
  • 78% of the time, after someone consolidates his credit card debt, the debt grows back.

The facts don’t lie. Our nation is swimming in a wave of debt that will inevitably come ashore as a tsunami. So what can be done? Is it possible to defy convention and live within your means? A certain radio host named Dave Ramsey says yes. Watch what he suggests is our best solution:

So are you following the popular trend and pulling out the plastic? As authentic Christians it behooves us to model restraint and good stewardship in how we handle our finances. I hope that you are heeding the words of the Apostle Paul from Romans and setting a good financial example.


* statistics courtesy of Dave Ramsey’s website.

Is the Abortion Tide Turning?

prolife Recent polling data would suggest that the tide is turning in favor of life. Before you start the celebration, however, it would be wise to keep in mind that one positive poll result is not indicative that the mission has been accomplished. Polls tend to fluctuate and more time and data is needed to confirm a genuine trend is in progress. Proviso stated, there are some factors in addition to this poll that we can look to with a measure of hope.

1. Pro-choice Republicans who once held sway within the party (Whitman, Weld, Wilson) are out of favor or mysteriously silent.

2. In-fighting over the Republican party pro-life plank has greatly decreased.

3. Democrats have tried to court pro-life voters and have soft pedaled or obscured their positions on the issue.

4. Many Republican candidates for party positions (state chairs, etc.) are making the pro-life issue a badge of distinction.

The fight is far from over. Authentic Christians must continue the good fight politically and remain faithful socially and spiritually. We must continue to meet the needs of pregnant women facing the tough choice of life or death.