Sunday, February 12, 2012

The 3 - February 12, 2012

On this edition of "The 3", we find a host of churches and Christian organizations promoting marriage in the week leading up to Valentine's Day. And, a U.S. appeals court said that the name "marriage" cannot be limited to just man-women marriage in California. Plus, the top story involved the escalating tension between the White House and people of faith over the issue of contraception.

3 - Christians, faith-based organizations promote marriage during week leading up to Valentine's day

This Tuesday is Valentine's Day, and Christian organizations are seizing the opportunity to promote marriage in this week leading up to the day of romance. In fact, National Marriage Week kicked off this past Tuesday, an effort that is being observed in some 16 countries. Some of the efforts that help to reinforce the institution of marriage include: Family Research Council's release of a new report on 162 reasons to marry. According to The Christian Post, the report points out that fewer than half of children in the United States are now reaching the end of childhood in an intact married family. With that, FRC believes "it will be good for all adolescents to learn again and again that an intact married life is a great good to aim for. If they are clear on the goal, they may be motivated to reach it."

Furthermore, according to FRC, those raised in stable married families are more likely to practice sexual chastity, to worship more regularly, and to expect and attain more from their education, according to the study. They are less likely to experience poverty as children or to experience or commit violence.

Other churches and organizations are participating in events that help to promote marriage leading up to Valentine's Day. Focus on the Family has initiated its "Date Night Challenge", a two-hour event featuring comedian Jeff Allen, singer/songwriter Michael O'Brien and bestselling authors Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley via a pre-recorded webcast, designed to be shown during the next 2 months. During the event, the Smalleys explain the power of dating your mate and encourage couples to take the "Date Night Challenge": go on three dates in three weeks. This is part of a national "date night movement" where the goal is for 5 million dates to take place across the country during the month of February.

Dr. Gary Chapman's organization has announced the "Love Language Challenge", beginning this Tuesday, in which couples are challenged to love their spouse according to their love language for 5 weeks. And, Liberty Counsel is promoting stronger marriages by encouraging teens to stay pure until they are wed - the "Day of Purity" is Tuesday, as young people are being challenged to make a public declaration of their intent to stay pure.

God has ordained the institution of marriage - it's a demonstration of His love to the church and is beneficial to couples who enter into that lasting covenant relationship. And, marriage is foundational to a stable society.

2 - 9th Circuit say that gay marriage is OK - in California

But there are those who would say that marriage, rather than one man for one woman, as the Bible lays out in Genesis 2, can be any committed relationship, including between members of the same sex. So, we see attempts to redefine marriage to include homosexual relationships. Just this week, in fact, the legislature in the state of Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage there. And, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that the California constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man for one woman is unconstitutional.

But, the decision does not address whether or not there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage - it just says that gay marriage is legal in California - only. According to CitizenLink:
The judges did not address the constitutionality of same-sex marriage per se, but rather the circumstances under which the amendment defining it was passed in California: In 2008, the state Supreme Court unilaterally declared gay marriage legal, despite the fact that a ballot measure banning it had been passed in 2000. The Prop. 8 petition drive was nearly complete when the state Supreme Court made its decision — ignoring requests from family advocates to wait until the people had had a chance to speak on the issue.
The majority wrote that because the state Supreme Court had granted a “right” that was later removed, Prop. 8 violates both the California and U.S. constitutions.

“We’re disappointed in today’s decision, but it was not entirely unexpected, given the record of the 9th Circuit,” said CitizenLink Judicial Issues Analyst Bruce Hausknecht, noting that the 9th is the most often-overturned federal appellate court in the nation. “Opponents of Prop. 8 insist on changing the definition of marriage for everyone, including children who deserve the opportunity to grow up in a home with their own married mother and father.

In its response, Liberty Counsel said:

The court was clearly wrong in finding that there are no rational arguments to support limiting the name “marriage” to opposite-sex couples. Even though the ruling is narrow in scope, it is rulings like these that undermine the legitimacy of the judicial system.

The California state legislature passed the nation’s broadest “domestic partnership” law that essentially afforded all the rights, benefits, privileges, and obligations to same-sex couples as are afforded to opposite-sex couples in a marriage.

So, while the decision was narrow, pertaining to the unique legal issues in California, the Federal appeals court did negate the decision of more than 7 million residents of the state, and went against the citizens of some 31 states across the U.S., which have defined marriages in their states as one man for one woman.

1 - Christian organizations still forced to pay for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs under Obama Administration "compromise"

With scores of Christians of a variety of faith perspectives joining the Catholic Church in protesting the edict by the Department of Health and Human Services mandating that religious institutions must provide free contraception, including abortion-inducing drugs, in their health insurance plans, the Obama Administration took action - not to reverse its mandate, as someone might expect, but to expand it, according to its statement on Friday. The President announced that it would be the insurance companies themselves, not the religious organizations, who would be forced to provide free contraception. But, the net effect is that the religious institutions still have to pay for these items, which violates the deeply-held beliefs of many people of faith - the Catholic Church teaches against birth control, and other faiths do not wish to offer abortion services in their health care plans.

Leaders from organizations across the faith spectrum cried foul about the new so-called "compromise", which they contend is not a compromise at all. Here is an excerpt from a piece in Baptist Press:
"It is an attempt to deal with a matter of religious conviction with an accounting gimmick," Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press.

Land and others said that an insurance company's money is fungible, and that a religious employer would still be providing the funding to pay for an employees' abortion-inducing drugs.
O.S. Hawkins, President of GuideStone Financial Resources, providing health insurance coverage to some 60,000 people, including pastors and missionaries, is quoted in the article as saying that the President's decision... an insulting affront illustrating a basic lack of understanding that this issue will not be solved by sleight-of-hand word games. It is a fundamental matter of religious liberty that threatens the very coverage of those dedicated persons who serve our churches and affiliated organizations. GuideStone will never depart from the core convictions it has held dear for decades regarding the sanctity of life."
What is at stake here is the subversion of religious freedom by a government that apparently views other so-called "rights" as more important than the right of someone to practice his or her faith according to the dictates of his or her conscience. This announcement, coupled with today's deadline for churches in New York City who meet in school buildings to find other places to meet, are two extremely devastating instances where lack of respect for religious liberty is evident.

So far, over 60,000 people have signed a petition calling on the President to reverse his policy forcing religious institutions to pay for health coverage that contradicts their faith. To access it, you can go to the Manhattan Declaration website.

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