Word from the Center Digest: Friday, July 26, 2019

Welcome to “Word from The Center” FRIDAY, a Two-Kingdom, practical reflection on the issues of the day from the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s issue is….


In one of the meetings that I’ve attended recently here on Capitol Hill, I was distressed to hear that some of our most heated moral and policy debates are not being legislated out in the open. No, they are being decided behind the scenes through enacted language by unelected bureaucratic agencies, through budget proposal and reconciliation procedures that precede policy, and through actions that make some of the most divisive moral battles a fait accompli when such issues are finally legislated in Congress – often times contradicting the voted opinions of the electorate. What all this means to each of us is that we must engage in fundamental moral issues like the sanctity of life, the religious liberty of the First Amendment, the institutional nature of marriage as a monogamous, life-long relationship between and a man and a woman, and the liberty to educate our children as we so choose long before they become issues of concern to our legislators.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Do you remember the Zika crisis? That was the crisis several years ago where defense against a mosquito-born illness was suddenly in need of federal funding. Though having nothing to do with preventing such a mosquito-born illness, Planned Parenthood was to receive some of the Zika funding (for more information, see  https://www.dailysignal.com/2016/09/16/zika-funding-might-result-in-raise-for-planned-parenthood-despite-gop-controlled-congress/). When Planned Parenthood was “classified” as a general health organization for the welfare of poor women and not what it really is, an abortion organization, they too could qualify for Zika funding. Going forward, if this generic understanding of Planned Parenthood’s identity would have been codified into law, then they would have qualified for other funding as well. This issue finally came to light and the funding was stopped. But the seriousness of the issue of language was clear. Whoever frames the “debate” early in the culture tends to win the battle in the legislatures later. And when “behind-the-scenes” procedures start to determine the language of the debate, the big questions of our culture are often lost long before the ultimate issues are finally engaged politically.

It has been said that politics is downstream from culture. I think that is right. We here at the LCRL will continue to alert you to Congressional “behind-the-scenes” shenanigans that often are thwarting open, honest debate about the fundamental moral issues of the day. At the same time, we all together need to be engaging these issues long before they “hit the Hill” in conversations with our families, as well as in our churches and communities. We need to keep fighting to frame the sanctity of life debate as “Pro-Life, Pro-Woman, Pro-Family, Pro-Community,” instead of allowing us to be caricatured as “anti-abortion” or “anti-choice.” When it comes to religious liberty, we must demonstrate why this right is fundamental to all of our freedoms and fundamental to our civility and shared common humanity, rather than letting it be caricatured as bigoted traditionalism that has no place in a modern society. And, with the marriage debate, we have to frame the debate in terms of the institutional nature of marriage, limiting the state’s nefarious, but often necessary involvement in our relationships, and support marriage between and a man and a woman as fundamental for the protection of children. We reject how it is presently caricatured as a relationship civil right granted by the state, reducing the question from the institutional nature of marriage to merely another relationship among many. Finally, what about educational freedom? It’s about access to choices in education for all, instead of limiting public education to the modern, secularized, value-free version that often is inflicted upon our children when we are monetarily held hostage by our taxes to only one option.

If we fail to engage these conversations early with those who matter to us where we live, where we work, and where we worship, we may lose the language that frames the debate. And, if we lose the language, we’ll find more legislation that conflates things like Zika funding with organizations like Planned Parenthood that have virtually nothing to do with the policy, but everything to do with bending our culture to a particular, partisan perspective and will.

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

Be Informed

The National Pro-life Religious Council is a Christian coalition which acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and is called to affirm and witness to the Biblical standard of the value, dignity, and sanctity of human life.” Check out their website by clicking here!

Be Equipped

Did you know that “1.21 million Americans are aborted annually whereas only 20,000 infants are adopted.  This means that for every 1 infant that is adopted into a loving family in the U.S., another 61 babies are not given the chance for life”? Learn more from the March for Life.

Be Encouraged

“The forgiveness of sins does not yet remove all your aches and pains, all your sadness, doubts, fears, and selfish desires. Not yet. But you have hope. God is not yet done with you. He will bring it to completion in the Day of Jesus Christ. Thus are you called to live by faith, not by what you see or feel or think, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Rev. David Petersen, to mothers who have lost children in miscarriage 

Want to read more about the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty? Click here for more resources.