The Reformed in today’s society

It should be obvious to any observer that the world we live in is becoming increasingly hostile to Christians. Many Christian views are now considered to be hate speech. Christian tax dollars are taken to dismember pre-born children in government-funded clinics. Christian schools, especially in Alberta in the wake of Bill 10, are now under threat of being forced to teach their children ideological beliefs that directly contradict biblical teachings on sexuality. The schools haven’t been forced to change their teaching yet—although the Catholic school system in Ontario has already knuckled under—but be assured that the day is coming where the government will try. Secular activists are not satisfied with having thoroughly infiltrated and rebuilt the public system. They want Christian schools, too.

In the last decade, we’ve seen a moral revolution at warp speed. The culture has shifted so radically left on virtually every social issue that we’ve been left gasping—if we’ve even noticed.

The response to secular threats has been, for decades, to build the walls higher. A strong defence. And this has, in many cases, worked very well. It has successfully kept many of the wicked influences out of church communities. But with the dawn of the Internet, those days are over. Walls can be built higher, but Wi-Fi connections go right through them. Those children who are not presented with biblical teaching on pornography, sexuality, abortion, and so many other issues, will simply find those answers elsewhere. And by the hundreds, they are. I talk to them all the time.

The response of many is that we must pray. And this is absolutely true. We are commanded to pray without ceasing”—and especially when the times are dark, as these certainly are. But what we often forget is that we are also commanded to work. As Augustine said, “Pray like everything depends on God. Work like everything depends on you.” Prayer and work, as one Bible doctrine book of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations puts it, are like two paddles in one boat. Both are essential.

To say that we shouldn’t engage or interact with the culture is to say that a farmer can sit in front of a barren field (and what an apt comparison to our culture that is.) Instead of ploughing the field, and planting the seed, and watering the plants, and weeding the field—all the while prayerfully, as God rules over nature—he instead sits in front of his field and waits. He prays for crops to spring up where there has been no work done. He hopes the plants will spring up where no seeds are planted. And of course, the field remains barren.

Rev. Kersten, the founder of the Netherlands Reformed, advocated strongly against a withdrawal from the public square, recognizing the dangers of this. His well-known biography by Rev. Golverdingen states that Rev. Kersten himself felt drawn into politics because “he could not resign himself to the passivity he observed in the congregations.” Rev. Golverdingen notes that “Rev. Kersten also berated the indecisiveness and indifference toward national interest by some members of his own circles,” even preaching a sermon where he compared those who refused to defend Christian principles in the public square to the tribe of Reuben refusing to join Deborah in going to battle against Sisera and the Canaanites.

Many of us have fooled ourselves into believing that the world can burn, but as long as we keep the doors of our churches and communities tightly shut, we are safe—even when the flames are licking at the doors.

Even in political manners, many vote with their business interests in mind rather than social issues. We seem to have forgotten that in a democratic system where we choose the leaders who rule over us, we are morally responsible for the decisions that they make. When the Alberta NDP declares that we need more abortion clinics, and we vote for the NDP, we are voting for more abortion clinics. To focus simply on economic security only when voting is to believe that God will prosper a nation that has now butchered more than four million human beings created in His image.

When the people of Israel demanded a king “like all the nations” the prophet Samuel was commanded to tell them, “And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:18). Similarly, if we are not trying to impact the culture on these issues of utmost importance, if we are not trying to curb and combat national sins, and if we are willing to vote for those who uphold the most wicked of political positions, then we cannot be surprised at the implosion of our culture. Indeed, we have contributed to it.

In his book Practical Religion, J.C Ryle states: “When St. Paul said, ‘Come out and be separate’, he did not mean that Christians ought to decline all intercourse with unconverted people, and refuse to go into their society. There is not warrant for such conduct in the New Testament.” He further noted: “To know nothing about what is going on among mankind, and never to look at a newspaper,–to care nothing about the government of one’s country, and to be utterly indifferent as to the persons who guide its counsels and make its laws—all this may seem very right and proper in the eyes of some people. But I take leave to think that is an idle, selfish neglect of duty…Christians who plume themselves on their ignorance of secular things are precisely the Christians who bring religion into contempt.”

Opposing or ignoring those who try to defend these values in the public square is, for Christian communities, cultural suicide. The secularists are not willing to live and let live. They have been successfully transforming society for more than four decades now. And they have met very little opposition.

The simple fact is that there has never been so much self-interest in cultural engagement. Those Christians who believe that our society is going to live and let live have quite simply not been following the news. It is not just the imminent threat to Christian education. It is even in our ability to say what we believe. A jeweler in Newfoundland, for example, is currently under attack by a gay couple who purchased rings at his store because they noticed that he featured a small sign supporting the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. They are demanding a refund, an apology, and the backlash has already been so severe that the jeweler has been forced to take down his business’s Facebook page.

They don’t just want to change the way society behaves. That they’ve already done. They want to change the way Christians think—regardless if it takes overt bullying and government enforcement to get there.

We can ignore these trends. We can wait for the time when, not so very long from now, government officials demand that we change the way we teach our children and demand that we begin excising from our curriculums those biblical teachings that contradict the new secular dogmas of our day. Or instead, for the sake of our children and our communities, we can speak up, and we can fight back.

The history of the people of Israel provides us with a powerful picture of what happens when the church fails to live according to God’s revealed will. It should serve as a reminder to do all we can to counter this trend, while praying for an inward change as well.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD; for he hath torn, and he will us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth” (Hosea 6:1-3).”

Why We Fight the Way We Fight

One of the questions pro-life activists are asked often is, “Why don’t you use Christian arguments to make the case against abortion? Isn’t the case against abortion inseparably rooted in the fact that human beings are created in God’s image?”

Well, yes. And also, no. Let me explain.

First of all, the example we would usually give is that of a firefighter. A firefighter wouldn’t cease in his task of saving lives, of pulling endangered human beings from a burning building, to talk about God with people inside the burning building. The immediacy of the circumstances demands that he work first to rescue those being “drawn unto death.” However, we would point out that a firefighter honors God by fighting against imminent and dire circumstances to preserve God’s gift of life. The firefighter’s actions illustrate the underlying truth behind them: That life is precious. Parallel examples (resistance workers pulling Jews off death camp trains, humanitarian workers hiding fleeing refugees from genocidal forces) could also be used to illustrate this point. Just as the actions of these human rights defenders honor God by fighting for those created in His image, so too does the actions of those seeking to defend the lives of those in imminent danger of abortion.

I would argue that to a large degree, the whole pro-life position presupposes the existence of God. After all, why is it wrong to kill human beings? It’s wrong because human beings are valuable. And why are they valuable? Because they are made in the image of God. He Who gave them life is the only One with the right to take it. Abortion, like the intentional destruction of any human life, not only violates human rights but also violates the sovereignty of God.

There is another point to be made here, one made by pro-life apologist Scott Klusendorf: I would categorically reject the premise that there is God’s truth, then, man’s truth. Truth is truth, and if reasonable arguments can be made for the pro-life view, those are God’s reasons.” Thus, to try to draw a differentiation between using explicitly Christian arguments versus, say, an appeal to the pre-born child’s humanity and the inhumanity of abortion, is simply a false dichotomy.

Unfortunately, bringing God into the discussion at universities and (especially) secular high schools, especially in the context of street-level outreach, generally causes you to lose the discussion (and by that I mean, lose the attention and the growing interest of the students approaching us.) It would seem logical to assume that those who have been undervalued, devalued or abused would be open to hearing about Who gave them value. Unfortunately, in our culture today, the reverse is often the case.

(I would note, as an aside, that this is not by any means new. In spite of William Wilberforce’s moral appeals in his anti-Slave Trade speeches to Parliament, the abolitionists generally avoided infusing their official case with biblical rationale. In his seminal work on the abolitionists, Bury the Chains, historian Adam Hochschild notes that such rationale is remarkably absent from abolitionist Thomas Clarkson’s enormous expose of the Slave Trade: “What also makes the Abstract feel surprisingly contemporary is what it does not contain. At a time in history when a large portion of all books and pamphlets were theological tracts and sermons, and in a book that quoted several clergymen as witnesses, the Abstract had no references to the Bible. Clarkson and his comrades somehow sensed that they could better evoke sympathy if they stood back and let the evidence speak for itself, supported by the damning quotations from West Indian laws and newspapers.” Human beings can still generally recognize barbarism when they see it, even if they are hostile to the moral truths that define it as such.)

In a hurting culture, starting with the Big Truth while trying to impart one of the small truths is often counter-productive. Talking to someone who has been abused (emotionally, physically, or sexually) and explaining to them that they were created in the image of an all-powerful God will often result in a simple, hard to debate response: “Well, where was He was all of this was happening to me?”

The question of evil and why God permits it is always the most difficult apologetic question to answer–not in the purely logical, rational sense (that’s pretty easy, especially in the university setting) but in the sense that you’re combating people’s feelings and emotions rather than an objective question such as “Can a God Who is Love permit evil things to happen?”

In conversations with our culture, it’s often about taking baby steps. We’re trying to impart the idea that they as humans have value, in order to build a bridge to the realization that all humans have value. In many street-level debates, not all passersby go the desirable, “I was pro-choice, you talked to me, now I’m pro-life” route –often, we have to lay a foundation. Bringing up the Divine is the opposite of baby steps–suddenly, instead of feeding them ideas in little, bite-sized chunks, we’re trying to ram an entire belief system down their throat. In a culture that does not know God, even the mention of His Name brings up a million questions. Who is God? Which religion is right about Him? Does He love me? Why did He allow these things to happen to me? What does His existence imply for my life and how I live it? Keep in mind—we’re trying to protect innocent children from imminent death, and thus often do not have a lot of time to convince someone not to kill their child. No one has ever suggested that those hiding humans fleeing genocide should have first attempted to convert them to Christianity before taking them under protection and into hiding—the imminent danger of the situation demands immediate action. The Good Samaritan did not first take the wounded man to church or the synagogue, but to get healed from his wounds.

Having an internally consistent Christian worldview often makes it extremely difficult when talking to a borderline illiterate, over-sexed, visually driven culture, as you’re constantly wanting to show people the results of their own beliefs, or logical extensions (presuppositions or inevitable conclusions) of those beliefs. Unfortunately, in order to fully engage with our specific mission–which is to turn a culture against abortion and solidify the growing belief that it violates human rights–we have to have a laser-focus. Those who fight for everything often end up fighting nothing. We can’t take on the entire forces of Darkness, even though we can rob Satan of many of his victims. And we do. Every day.

That being said, I firmly believe that turning someone pro-life is often the first step towards introducing them to greater Truth. We see time and time again that in order for today’s culture to recognize that Truth exists at all; they have to be convinced of some part of it. They often begin to ask what else is true, what else they have accepted that may be a lie. We see often that for people to remember they have a conscience, it needs to be pricked, awakened. Our projects, which graphically expose the reality of abortion, unequivocally do that. Much of our opposition is the startled cries of pain of consciences that have not seen the light in far too long (and don’t our eyes always hurt when the light is suddenly switched on?) We are the first point of contact in a heavily secularized culture to introduce these young people to inherently Christian concepts that are totally foreign to them–concepts like self-sacrifice, forgiveness, human dignity, human value, truth, and right and wrong. We are directly undermining the suicidal but prevalent concept of moral relativism every day. In our specific role as anti-abortion activists, we might not be able to take down the whole rotting house. But we can take a jackhammer to the foundation.

The pro-life movement is but one segment of a broader Culture of Life that is at war with a broader, secularized Culture of Death. We have been tasked with defending one small part of a much greater Truth. The first point of contact doesn’t win the war or even the battle, but it does establish a bridgehead. Concepts such as those I mentioned above are, I think, a bridgehead in a culture that is rejecting so much of what is right and beautiful. Often in discussion people go from “abortion is wrong” to “I should not have sex before marriage” without us even bringing it up–the premises we are teaching them lead to other, almost inevitable conclusions. The newest generation of young people has experienced the full brunt of the fallout of the Sexual Revolution, from broken families, the disappearance of true, self-sacrificing love, a quarter of their generation butchered by abortion, rampant STD’s, and a nihilistic lack of truth. We as anti-abortion activists are trying to help them reject a large part of that legacy.

Others, we hope, will help us with the rest.”

The Sexual Revolution and Pro-Life Men

The Sexual Revolution sparked a fifty-year “gender war” that has cost us millions of pre-born lives–and in no small part due to the decline of biblical masculinity. In a workshop for men at the Rescue Summit in Ottawa on March 1, Jonathon Van Maren examines how men have become victimizers, how men have become victims, and how we are called to reject both of those paradigms and stand up for those in our society who need it most.

Stop “Struggling” with Porn

I’m very frustrated.

Over the last several years, I’ve done quite a few presentations in different Christian communities (Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta) on sexuality and pornography. Each time I’ve given the presentations, I’ve changed them quite a bit, adding things I’ve learned, tweaking it based on the needs of the community and the feedback I’ve gotten. I’ve gotten anonymous emails detailing the struggles of porn addicts in Christian homes, and had anonymous letters stuck in the door of my home. The more I hear from the men and women and youth in the communities where these topics are presented, the harder I actually find it to speak on those topics.

Many of the things I hear make me angry. While it is legitimate to be angry about the use of pornography—it’s much worse than just lust, it is sexual cannibalism, the one-sided consumption of a human being created in God’s image for personal pleasure—one must be very careful not to slip into the sin of pride. When dealing with issues of sexuality, we can never say, “Well, that’s not a sin I struggle with and thus I am somehow better than those who struggle with these sins.” After all, in John 7 we see how the Lord Jesus dealt with those guilty of sexual sin, after challenging those who sought to stone a woman taken “in the very act” of adultery: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” One by one, they left, “convicted by their own conscience.” Jesus then said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Pride, we see in the New Testament and in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, was condemned far more harshly than sexual sin. We have to assist each other in becoming free from sexual sin, not set ourselves above other people.

My frustration is not simply the result of seeing just how widespread the use of pornography is, and how damaging it is. As I heard one speaker put it, those who do not think they are susceptible to sexual sin are saying they are stronger than Sampson, wiser than Solomon, and closer to God than David, the man after God’s own heart. What frustrates me is that time and time again, men I speak to refuse to do what it actually takes to kick porn addiction and purge their minds of this scourge. In all cases, pornography is by its very nature predatory, perverted, narcissistic, and in direct opposition to how God created sexuality. It is, simply, self-inflicted destruction that contributes to the external destruction of so many of the lives that make up those de-humanized pictures. In cases where the man (or, in far fewer cases, the  woman) is married, it constitutes adultery. This is not just our culture, our church, our own “little lust problem” or “bad porn habit.” This is people consciously deciding to consume other people like a product, destroying their own relationships, twisting their perceptions of the opposite sex, and creating neural pathways in their brain that will often prove almost impossible to subvert.

Porn flourishes because people can nurture their obsession in private. No one looking over their shoulder, no one is seeing what they’re seeing, and they have the opportunity to make whatever material they viewed virtually untraceable after the fact. That’s why the one filter I always push for those who want to leave their porn addiction behind is an accountability filter — a filter that sends your Internet history every week to someone who will hold you accountable for what you viewed in the week past. I recommend this type of system (and there are a number of very good ones.) to everyone who tells me that they’re struggling with pornography—but it never ceases to amaze me at how many want to talk about their porn problem, but don’t actually want to kick it.

If you want to stop looking at porn, sign up for an accountability filter, and make your accountability partner—the person receiving your weekly history—your pastor, a church leader, one of your parents, your wife, your sister. Do you really think that you’ll browse some filthy porn site if your minister, or a church elder, or your mother or wife, will see at the end of the week what you’ve looked at? Perhaps in some cases, there will be slip-ups. But it’s generally very unlikely. With people you love dearly and respect much “looking over your shoulder” when you’re on the Internet, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll view your “porn problem” quite a bit differently—imagining how your wife or mother would feel if they realized what you were looking at would change your own view immediately and drastically.

When I suggest this step, I’m often told it’s “drastic.” No, it’s not. Looking at porn is disgusting and predatory, and this solution is not at all “drastic” when put into the context of the problem. If you think that porn consumption is not a big enough deal to take “drastic” steps to get rid of it, then you haven’t realized just how big of a deal it is. Yes, people can get around filters. You can decide to take one of your devices (cell phone, iPad) off of the accountability filter. But that’s a choice—a choice to continue the sexual consumption of other human beings. You don’t just “fall” into looking at porn.

Let me explain: I smoked cigarettes for close to ten years. For me to “fall into” smoking cigarettes again, I would have to get in my car, drive to the store, purchase the pack, take a cigarette out, and then light it. There are at least five conscious decisions that take place before I “fall into” smoking cigarettes, and am “struggling” with it again. The same applies to watching or looking at pornography again: You have to go home, or someplace where you can be alone, boot up your laptop or device, log on, search for whatever porn you’re “struggling” with, and then view it. There are multiple decisions taking place here. While pornography addiction is incredibly powerful, you do not simply “fall into” viewing porn again when you’re trying to kick the habit. You make a series of decisions that result in you viewing porn. You may be addicted, but you’re not helpless. And I do get frustrated when I hear from guys that they’re still “struggling,” but they still haven’t taken the drastic steps necessary to kick this habit. I’m sorry, you only get to say you’re “struggling” if you’re actually taking all of the necessary steps to get free.

Sexual sin is, in this day and age, one of the most common and destructive of sins. I understand that many people get hooked as the result of simply stumbling upon imagery on the Internet, or being exposed to it by friends, or even, in many cases, being exposed to it at a very young age in the home. But there are ways to free yourself from this addiction. There are people who want to help you get free of it, and people who won’t judge you or think that they are somehow better. To say to someone struggling with sexual sin that those who struggle with different sins are somehow better would be to defy what the New Testament tells us. But you do have a responsibility to cease this destructive and disgusting habit. The help is available. The choice is yours.

Porn goes to Church

Pornography is not just a ‘cultural’ problem. Pornography is also our problem. I think it’s necessary to ensure that everyone understands that this problem does, in fact, impact our community. There is a tendency to view these types of problems as problems of the outside world that we have to prevent from seeping in, as opposed to problems that we need to face and root out in our own church community. I’d like to very briefly go over three important facts about pornography:

1. Pornography is a problem in our churches
2. Pornography is a huge problem in North America
3. Pornography addiction is incredibly dangerous in its mental impact.

Porn is a problem in our churches

I’m going to share with your four (of many) testimonies of young people, all members (baptized or confessing) of the Netherlands Reformed Congregations, of how pornography has impacted their lives. These testimonies are anonymous.

A NRC wife and mother:

“When my husband first told me about his struggle with pornography I was too shocked to respond. Once that wore off I experienced much anger, low self-esteem, sadness and insecurity about our relationship. However, I am happy to know that he had the confidence and courage to tell me about it. His guilt about watching pornography is stronger than his pride to keep it hidden from me. We have become very open about the topic and discuss it from time to time. There are times that he feels the urge to look something up, but keeping communication as well as using a reliable filter for the internet on both our computer and smart phones has kept him accountable and our relationship strong. Now my trust in him has been renewed, we pray together asking for God’s forgiveness but also for His protecting hand over us.

In my perspective our community must be more open about this issue so that those who do struggle with pornography feel they are not alone and that they are willing to seek help. Without help someone who struggles with pornography will only feel hopeless and more than likely develop an unbreakable addiction. We must be realistic, realize that many people struggle and stop being quiet about the topic.”

A NRC high school student:

“I am a high school student. I was disgusted to hear a high school guy mention to his buddy, ‘I wouldn’t know what to do without data on my smart phone, then I wouldn’t be able to watch porn every night.’ What? Is viewing porn now the norm? Do guys not even realize what impact even hearing this has on girls? And why are we not discussing this issue?”

A high school teacher in a NRC school:

“As a teacher of high school-aged students I am appalled at how little education there is surrounding internet safety and pornography within our churches, homes and schools. I have spoken with girls who have become victims of sexting, heard from young men who already acknowledge they have a porn problem and have gathered from student surveys that they know that pornography messes with the mind. Many of the young people are looking for answers, but without opening the topic of pornography they feel lost and end up looking for answers in the wrong places or falling into unstable relationships.

I am very afraid for our upcoming youth and relationships. It is already obvious that porn is breaking up marriages and creating preventable problems if we would only be more open about the topic!”

And a NRC husband, who was exposed to porn at a young age and became addicted well into his teen years. He writes:

“This did not mean that from then on I was free and clear and never had to deal with the issue again—far from it. The pull of this addiction is much too strong and lasting. Thankfully I do not have the images popping up in my head from memories. However, everything around me reminds me of this “high” from store front advertisements, to suggestive music lyrics, to clothing that is too tight or too revealing. It is not the first and only thing I think of when confronted with these example but it is almost always there somewhere lurking in my thoughts. Therefore a constant guard is needed to fight against this addiction on a continuous basis. I can also say that the longer you stay “clean” the easier it becomes, now the triggers are not as frequent or perhaps as noticeable. Yet, they are always there and I am afraid they will always remain.

This constant struggle has (had) obvious strain on my marriage as I have fallen twice since my vows a few years ago. Thankfully, my wife is understanding and patient with me. She has also been my biggest help in this struggle, keeping me accountable and installing filters that monitor internet activity and block and filter out pornography. In my opinion the blockage of sites doesn’t help completely. It does make getting to the pornographic content harder but there is always a way around them and the younger and more attuned to technology you are, the quicker you will find it. The best mechanism or weapon to fight this battle other than prayer and the Lord’s help is accountability and openness. Knowing that my wife is looking over my shoulder and checks my activities it a huge deterrent and thankfully the consequence of disappointing and saddening her has more weight for me than the high of this addiction. I am afraid that others are not as fortunate. Considering how controlled the addiction is and how the images hardly plague me, in many ways I have been blessed undeservedly.

Now, the struggle is still there, but we have safeguards in place and as a couple know how to fight against and deal with the temptation better. For many, the addiction does not start after one or two instances but develops over time and therefore can be stopped, deterred and interest hopefully ended before it is addicting. Therefore, if I may offer advice, I would definitely recommend a filter or accountability program for everyone, especially families with teenage boys but also young adults. We all have the same heart. Let’s not think this fixes everything. It must be combined with supervision, education, conversation, discussion and especially prayer.”

These testimonies from people within the NRC here in North America who have struggled with pornography (and there are many more), as well as recent findings by our sister congregations in the Netherlands that show sky-rocketing rates of pornography addiction among young people in their churches, prove that this is a growing and imminent problem that demands our attention and our action.

Porn is a problem in our churches because it is a problem in our culture.

The threat pornography poses to churches and families is absolutely unprecedented in modern times in scale and severity. Just to give you a brief idea of the sheer size of the porn threat using the measurement of time:

Every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography.

Every second, 28, 258 Internet users are viewing pornography.

Every second, at least 372 Internet users are searching for pornography online.

And every 39 minutes, a new pornographic film is being created in the United States.

Beyond that, the numbers get much worse. Statistics from 2013, released by the Christian anti-porn organization Covenant Eyes, revealed the following:

Global pornography revenues are estimated at about 10 billion dollars—but an estimated 80-90 percent of online porn users access free pornography online, which means that the ten billion dollars is truly the tip of the iceberg.

How bad? Researchers have estimated, after an analysis of 400 million web searches, that 1 in 8 of all searches online are for pornographic content. Computers are not the only danger—as cited in the testimony of the NRC high school girl, mobile pornography is increasing drastically in popularity. For example, an analysis of over one million hits to Google’s mobile search sites, over 1 in 5 searches are for porn. The porn industry is moving quickly to take advantage of mobile porn users, and they expect to reach sales of 2.8 billion dollars by 2015.

And teenagers are the most vulnerable target.

A 2010 survey noted that over a quarter of 16-17 year olds said they were first exposed to nudity online, even though they didn’t want to see it. However, when addiction takes over—often fueled by adolescent curiosity and developing into a powerful, mind-twisting addiction—the results are devastating. The result? More than 7 out of 10 teens hide their online behavior from their parents.

Over half of boys and a third of girls see their first pornographic image before they turn thirteen—some research says around the ages of 7 or 8. I have spoken to young men who first stumbled upon pornographic images at that age. By the time young adulthood is reached, 64-68 percent of young adult men and 19 percent of women are using porn every single week. An additional 17 percent of men and 30 percent of women are using porn one to two times a month.

This means that if you are not using pornography at all in today’s North America, you are a minority.

The porn threat is psychologically and spiritually devastating.

Pornography, because people are so visual, actually triggers a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing what are known as “erototoxins.” These erototoxins literally rewire your brain, and the images are often burned into one’s memory, inerasable.

In other words, pornography fundamentally changes how human beings think and function. The after-effects of viewing pornography are not like the after-effects of consuming drugs or alcohol—pornographic images can remain lodged in someone’s brain for decades, or for the rest of their lives.

Here are just a few of the long-lasting effects of porn use:

A diminished trust between intimate couples, as the previously mentioned NRC testimonials also reveals.

An increasing belief that monogamy is not the natural state.

An increasing cynicism concerning true, self-sacrificing marital love.

An increasing belief that marriage is not something to aspire to, but rather is sexually confining.

An increasing disdain for family and raising children.

It creates extensive psychological problems for men, including becoming more controlling, highly introverted, narcissistic, dissociative and distractible.

It results in addiction to masturbation.

It reduces women and girls to the level of objects, and change the way males view females.


To conclude, pornography is a real cultural problem, and is already a problem within the church community. We cannot simply attempt to keep porn out; we also must root porn out.

Pornography has the raw power to destroy the futures of an entire generation. We need to equip the youth to combat this new threat. Forewarned is forearmed.

Killing the Blessings

Every once in a while, I read something that surprises me with its impact. On Tuesday, I stumbled across an article posted on the “Gender Focus” website just a few minutes before—the opening sentence was: “This afternoon I had an abortion.”

The word “abortion” doesn’t lose its power when you see what it looks like every day, and when the focus of your week is exposing the public to literature depicting what the Toronto Star called “bloodied, tiny bodies” a few days ago. It’s a word that hides, not reveals. It represents the passing of a human being, forced from this life by our barbarism, our selfishness, and our apathy.

Reading the “Gender Focus” article, featuring the defiantly relativistic title “My Reality: My Abortion Experience,” it was hard not to feel that this woman’s reality was, indeed, a sad one. When she saw the pregnancy test was positive, she relates, she swore so loudly she was positive her daughter heard her downstairs. But immediately—immediately—she “knew what I wanted to do, knew what I needed to do.”

What she thought she needed, of course, was an abortion. She needed a doctor to search out the tiny human growing within her, and vacuum it into crimson shreds. This, in our culture, passes as a “need.” Pregnancy is not beautiful—it is a disease. And we have a state-funded, convenient, lethal solution. And effective–the fetus—at least that one—won’t come back. That’s because he or she was an unrepeatable human being, never seen before in human history and never to be seen again.

As pro-lifers reaching out to our culture, we make the argument that abortion is a human rights violation because it violently ends the life of a human being. We don’t use religion to make our point—and we don’t need to. But when reading a story like this one, I can’t help but think how tragic it is that our society has so completely perverted and destroyed the concept of love. It is one of God’s great blessings that when two people love one another, that love can bring about a completely new human being. Now, that human being is considered by many to be a threat, an inconvenience—even, some say, a parasite. God uses human interactions to bring about brand new, unique, unrepeatable human beings—and we violently carve “Return to Sender” into their tiny corpses and fling them back into Eternity. I shudder to think of it—God’s Blessings, millions upon millions of tiny souls, appearing before Him after the briefest of tenures on Earth, hacked short by the blood-stained hands of those still below.

Children used to be considered a blessing. Children used to be considered the future, not an inconvenience to our future. Our love now has no room for others—it must be sterile to be fulfilling. It is morbidly interesting to note that the root word of carnality and carnage are the same—carne, or Latin for “flesh.” Today, it seems many times that love has been replaced by carnality—and that carnage has proceeded from it.

This article was first published on The Bridgehead and has been republished with permission from the authour.

A Rainbow Over Destruction

Last week, I was in Calgary to give the interns of the anti-abortion organization I work for training and workshop seminars on pro-life strategy and the history of abortion law in Canada. I was planning to do a week of on-the-street activism with them, as well having several meetings and presentations. Unfortunately, several days after my arrival, the pounding rain that had hammered Calgary ceaselessly for weeks rose back up over the river banks, and the Great Calgary Flood of 2013 began in earnest.

The flood, of course, changed everything. Several of our interns were evacuated from the downtown. Meetings and presentations got cancelled as people were trapped in their homes or in different parts of the city. The police and the army evacuated and then cordoned off huge sections of the city to prevent looting. I drove with one of my friends down to High River, hit the worst by the flood, and saw water levels creeping almost half way up the sides of houses, military vehicles blocking the entrance to the city, and a minivan floating almost completely submerged down a flooded street. It was Alberta, but it looked like something out of National Geographic.

The day before I left Calgary, I was working on my laptop and happened to glance out the window as the rain slowed for a moment and the sun broke through the clouds, highlighting a beautiful rainbow, shimmering magnificently over a city battling to regain control over nature. I thought instantly of a Bible verse that my kindergarten teacher had me memorize when I was five years old, from Genesis 9:12-16:

12. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

13. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

15. And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

In my work, you often get to see the worst of human nature put on display—selfishness of such heights that people become willing to sacrifice their own children for their desires and their plans. As one writer noted, the abortion message is precisely the opposite of the Gospel message—the Lord Jesus died so that His people could live, while we kill our children so that we can live as we please. Our nation has fallen very, very far—we permit abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, and celebrate the man who helped create this bloody status quo as a national hero, giving him the Order of Canada. It should make us tremble when we think of what God says in the Old Testament about child sacrifice, and how He punished those nations in the past.

This is not simply an exaggeration. In Texas this week, abortion supporters were caught screaming “Hail Satan!” at pro-lifers who were singing that beautiful hymn of an old slave trader saved by Christ, Amazing Grace. It was a revealing moment. Every so often, the Enemy lets his mask slip. Every abortion, after all, is an event that must thrill him—the gruesome destruction of a child created in the image of Almighty God, and the hardening of all those involved in the procedure. It is, for the Prince of Darkness, the perfect crime.

But—the Old Testament shows us that God is a God of first, second, and third chances. Time and time again, when Israel strayed from Him and pursued false gods, He forgave them when they repented. His patience and longsuffering cannot be understood, only recognized with utmost thankfulness. Even when God sent the prophet Jonah to Ninevah to tell them that their city would be destroyed in forty days, He responded to their repentance by saving the city, having mercy on the men, women, children—and even, the Bible tells us, the cattle. Even outward repentance, the abandonment of long-held evils, can result in God’s blessing.

For as the rainbow tells us, God will never again wipe out the whole world with a flood. And there is still time for our nation to abandon the evil we perpetrate and celebrate.

Let us not test His patience further.

Confrontation versus Antagonism

The great Reformer Martin Luther once argued for, “Peace if possible, truth at all costs.” The merit—and of course the context—of that statement can be debated. His attitude, it seems, is one that people are often uncomfortable with. In our interactions with “the world” and secular society at large, how are Christians to conduct themselves in the face of sweeping and devastating societal evils, evils which strike at the heart of what it means to be a human being created in God’s image?

There is an argument circulating in some circles that what I would refer to as “confrontational pro-life outreach” is antagonistic—and furthermore, that being antagonistic is something profoundly (if not inherently) unchristian. This argument bears examination—if only to assure those who feel uncomfortable with such outreach that their concerns are not dismissed without careful thought.

First—how is “antagonism” defined? Generally, it is interpreted as “active hostility or opposition.” In this sense, all pro-life work is antagonistic, in that it presents itself as a worldview inherently hostile and opposed to the idea that image-bearers of God can engage in an activity that butchers and destroys in the most gruesome fashion other image-bearers of God. Rather, it can be argued that those of us who believe in God and that all human beings were created in His image have an unrelenting duty to be hostile and opposed to this grotesque 21st century version of child sacrifice, which God condemns in the most explicit terms in the Old Testament. We are called to be obedient to the governments set up in authority over us, undoubtedly—however, the government is not permitted to take that which is God’s. Luke 20:5 records the Lord Jesus telling us to, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” The pre-born child in the womb bears not the superscription of Caesar, but of God Himself, Who created man in His image.

However, I realize that people are probably not considering the technical definition of “antagonistic” when they refer to tactics such as anti-abortion postcards, literature, or signs. Rather, they are referring to how these tactics feel—it feels like we are somehow provoking people in an ungodly, unchristian way and that this type of “hostility” perhaps crosses the line into something they are distinctly uncomfortable with. And indeed, that is hard to argue with—the reactions of pro-abortion forces to the exposure of truth are often shocking in both their lewdness and their crudeness. That being said, I would argue that these pro-life tactics are not so much “antagonistic” in the way that people often perceive that word as they are “confrontational.”

We do not seek to “antagonize” those who hold that abortion is a right rather than a brutal human rights violation—we seek to confront them with the truth and change their point of view. Time and time again, we see those who are confronted with the horrible truth of what abortion is, change their point of view. As pro-lifers, our duty is to be the conscience of our nation, and to ceaselessly confront the public with the crimes being committed out of sight. The fact that we cannot see abortion often impacts even how Christians view it—as John Calvin once noted, “In forming an estimate of sins, we are often imposed upon by imagining that the more hidden, the less heinous they are.”

Confronting our country and our countrymen with truth does not just involve noting that truth exists, but necessarily includes drawing their attention to what that is. (A pastor dealing with a church member who is guilty of repeatedly cheating on his wife, for example, would not simply content himself with a sermon on the seventh commandment, but would actually meet with the man and confront him with his actions.) If the battle for human lives resides only on the field of philosophy, with no victim and no perpetrator, then the victims remain forgotten (as they so often are) and the perpetrators carry on their way undisturbed (as they so often do). I would draw your attention to one of the many brilliant speeches given by the abolitionist William Wilberforce in the British House of Commons, who sought to confront the government of his day with the evils of slavery in the most explicit way:

“Policy, Sir, is not my principle, and I am not ashamed to say it. There is a principle above everything that is political. And when I reflect on the command that says, ‘Thou shalt do no murder,’ believing the authority to be divine, how can I dare to set up any reasonings of my own against it? And, Sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is here in this life which should make any man contradict the principles of his own conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God?

Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this trade are now laid open to us. We can no longer plead ignorance, we cannot evade it, it is now an object placed before us, we cannot pass it. We may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we cannot turn aside so as to avoid seeing it. For it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this house must decide, and must justify to all the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitudes of their grounds and of the principles of their decision…Let not Parliament be the only body that is insensible to national justice.”

Here, Wilberforce confronts the politicians with the evil and appeals not to his own point of view, but to that of a Higher Power. The truth that we seek to confront our culture with must not be our own, but one based on principles that are eternal. We as pro-lifers have to confront our politicians, yes. But we can’t forget that the human beings that are being destroyed are not created in our image. They are created in His. And their destruction constitutes a violation of His law, not of ours.

It is tempting in the face of antagonism and confrontation to simply hide away in our own communities, to work our jobs and raise our children and leave the fight. It is not pleasant to be opposed and confronted, just as it is often unpleasant to be the one opposing and confronting. But consider the words of J.C. Ryle on Christian duty: “True believers are always represented as mixing in the world, doing their duty in it, and glorifying God by patience, meekness, purity, and courage in their several positions — and not by cowardly desertion of them. Moreover, it is foolish to suppose that we can keep the world and the devil out of our hearts by going into holes and corners! True religion and unworldliness are best seen, not in timidly forsaking the post which God has allotted to us — but in manfully standing our ground, and showing the power of grace to overcome evil.”

Indeed, if we read the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament, we see that they did not place themselves in opposition to the government God had placed over them, but instead loudly and persistently pointed out where the actions of these leaders blatantly contradicted God’s laws and God’s sovereignty. They confronted their leaders with the sins of their nation, and demanded a change. They were, by all accounts, considered to be very antagonistic. I think few Christians would argue that we, as those who claim a belief in Christianity, are not called to confront our leaders with the sins of our day and our nation.

The question we should perhaps ask ourselves, then, is the reverse of what pro-lifers are so often asked: Is there something we should be confronting, which we are not? Or, if you prefer: Is there something we should be antagonizing, but we are not? Should our response to the systematic butchery of human beings be one of philosophical discussion, or a concrete conflict of worldviews that results in action on behalf of those who are “drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain” (Proverbs 24:11)? Should we be seen to mutter our opposition to those who embrace a culture of killing, or should we instead follow the command in Proverbs 31:8 to “Open they mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction”?

These are, at least, questions worth considering.

Abortion and the Bible: Why Pro-Life?

As almost every pro-life activist can attest, many conversations about abortion start something like this:

Pro-lifer: “What do you think about abortion?”

Passerby: “Stop forcing your religious values on us! Which church do you go to, anyway?”

It might surprise many, then, (as it certainly surprised me), that so-called “mainstream Protestants” in the US were very pro-abortion prior to Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, with groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention publicly stating their support for abortion—and this prior to Roe v. Wade. Many, it seems, take the Bible’s apparent silence on abortion to mean tacit support.

What does the Bible’s supposed silence on abortion mean? According to the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice,” Protestants can be pro-abortion because “the pro-life position is really a pro-fetus position, and the pro-choice position is really pro-woman.” Even Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, who grew up in a Christian home, took a break from writing her unreadable atheist diatribes and wrote an essay called “Why the Bible is Pro-Choice.”

So the automatic assumption that a pro-lifer must have derived his or her beliefs from the Bible or the church is not a necessarily safe assumption. While most believe that the Bible is unequivocally pro-life, people have argued and do argue that one can support abortion—the violent destruction of a developing human life in the womb—and still claim to be a Christian living consistently with the commands of Scripture. Both the pro-life and pro-abortion side, it would seem, agree that what the Bible says or doesn’t say is important.

The main argument touted by abortion supporters to highlight the Bible’s support of abortion, or at least tacit acceptance, is that the Bible remains supposedly silent on the issue. One professor wrote sarcastically that nowhere does Scripture say “Thou shalt not abort.” This argument in and of itself, of course, is patently ridiculous—the Bible does say “Thou shalt not kill” (or “thou shall not murder”), and so we simply have to ask ourselves who exactly the pre-born are, and whether or not their destruction would be permitted under God’s injunction against murder. Further, the idea that the Bible does not oppose abortion simply because it does not explicitly say “Thou shalt not abort” is facetious—the Bible doesn’t explicitly say “thou shall not use toddlers for target practice” but no one thinks that the Bible’s “silence” on this matter means tacit endorsement of such a practice.

The Bible clearly states that human beings were created in God’s own image. Thus, taking their life would constitute murder.

Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute puts it this way:

A century ago racists argued from the alleged silence of Scripture that blacks were not human. Some even denied that black people had souls. Again, this was hardly persuasive. While Scripture does not mention every specific race and nationality, it does teach that all humans are made in God’s image and were created to have fellowship with Him (Genesis1:26; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10-11, James 3:9). The inference is clear. If blacks are human beings, they are made in God’s image, too. No further proof from Scripture is necessary. The same is true with the unborn. If embryos and fetuses are human beings, commands that forbid the unjust taking of human life apply to them as they do other humans. Appealing to the Bible’s alleged silence on abortion misses the point entirely.

The Bible clearly tells us that the child in the womb is one created in God’s image—see Isaiah 46:3-5, Psalm 127:3-5, Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 119: 73, and Luke 1:41-42, among others. Thus, the Bible’s injunction against shedding innocent blood would apply to the child in the womb, as per Genesis 1:26, Exodus 23:7, and Proverbs 6:16-17. The claim, then, that the Bible is “pro-choice” because of its “silence” is one that, quite simply, fails the reading comprehension test.

Scott Klusendorf also points out that permissiveness of abortion is the context of Scripture—beyond simply being not true—would also be ahistorical, since children were viewed as being a special gift from God (Psalms 127:3-5, 113:9, Genesis 17:6, 33:5) while infertility was often considered to be a curse (Samuel 1:5, Genesis 20:17-18, 30:1,22-23.) Simply put, the idea of having one’s offspring poised, dismembered, or suctioned in piece inside the womb is one that would have been completely counter-cultural for a culture that saw children as a visible blessing from God.

Biblical opposition to abortion, then, is really quite simple. The Bible is not silent on abortion—rather, the Bible lays out for us that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings created in God’s image. Thus, we must simple determine whether or not the pre-born child in the womb is a human being created in God’s image—which both Scripture (think of the fetus John the Baptist leaping in the womb to greet the Lord Jesus, at that point only a zygote) and science confirm.