Sunday, April 03, 2011

The 3 - April 3, 2011

This week on "The 3", my week-in-review feature, state legislatures are again the focus, but the topic has changed - a look at 3 states where same-sex unions are being debated. Also, thousands of students came to Fort Worth this weekend to be energized in their relationship with Christ. And, at the top of the list, tragedy in Afghanistan: a Koran-burning in the U.S. has resulted in violence and death there.

3 - Marriage in the states: Colorado House committee defeats civil union legislation, Indiana passes marriage protection amendment, Washington state votes to recognize same-sex marriages from other states

Last week, I concentrated on some of the actions being taken within various state Legislatures with respect to bills that are designed to reduce the number of abortions in their respective states. This week, there was a focus in several states on the issue of marriage.

The Colorado Senate recently voted to authorize civil unions in the state, which is, in essence, a form of gay marriage - extending benefits and recognition to same-sex partners without using the term, "marriage". A House version of the bill, however, failed to gain a majority in a House committee.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, the possibility of a marriage amendment being placed on the ballot has increased, as the result of action in the Legislature there. The Senate passed the proposed amendment 40-10. The legislation must also pass in the 2013-14 session in the House and the Senate, before going to a referendum vote in 2014.

Since Congress has been unable to pass a Federal marriage amendment defining marriage as one man for one woman, and with support for the Defense of Marriage Act waning in some circles and facing court challenges, state amendments can perhaps provide a line of defense against those who are trying to redefine this time-honored and stable institution, an entity that has been ordained by God, which provides a foundational structure for society. You can also see from action in Colorado, Washington, and other states that those who seek to redefine marriage are hard at work to bring erosion to the fabric of this vital institution.

2 - Students receive the challenge at Fort Worth Passion event

The Passion movement has served to challenge and encourage young adults, primarily college students, in their walk with Jesus Christ. The January Passion event in Atlanta drew some 22,000 students who were energized in their faith, and the latest Passion conference, in Fort Worth, Texas, drew almost 10,000 students from 47 states and 13 countries, hearing from noted speakers such as John Piper, Francis Chan, and Passion founder Louie Giglio.

Worship is also a key component of the conferences, as Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, the David Crowder Band, and others led worship for this conference. A live worship CD, "Here for You", was recorded at the Atlanta Passion conference earlier this year, was released last month.

Passion is also involved in giving back, as students are urged to be part of "Do Something Now", which has collected over $3,5 million for global causes since the initiative began in 2007. As we look at the popularity of the Passion movement, we can be encouraged about how God is working in the lives of young adults, who are seeking to share and apply uncompromised Biblical truth.

1 - Afghan violence linked to Koran burning in America, highlights Islamic double standard

The violence continues to build in Afghanistan in the wake of the burning of a Koran at the same Florida church that threatened to burn a Koran in association with last year's 9-11 observance. Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida said that the church had decided to put the Koran on trial, claiming that its teachings have been used to harm lives. The Koran was found "guilty" and sentence to being burned. Pastor Jones has been described as unrepentant in the face of the Afghan violence, saying that the reaction proves his point that there are radical elements of Islam.

At the time of this post, almost 2 dozen people, including 7 U.N. workers, are reported to be dead, and the violence is reportedly being exploited by the Taliban, who could be using the unrest as a tool to regain power in the affected regions.

The Obama Administration, Christian leaders, and others have criticized the act of burning a Koran. Afghan leader Hamid Karzai said that those responsible for the act recently in Florida should be arrested and punished.

Certainly, the desecration of a book that another religion deems to be sacred is an ineffective and offensive way to make a point. Christians should not burn the Koran...and Muslims should also recognize that burning a Bible is an act that is deeply troubling to many Christians. Nevertheless, Iranian officials confiscated and burned some 600 New Testaments recently in an Iranian province. Fortunately, I have not heard of any acts of violence by Christians as a reaction to this act. But, Christians should be concerned and prayerful, recognizing that in brutal regimes like Iran, where Islamic fundamentalism rules the day, believers in Christ face unprecedented persecution. Yes, those who possess the mindset of turning to violence when their holy book is damaged do not blink an eye when it comes to the Bible being desecrated. This is a clear case that a double standard exists.

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