The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 4)

By Eric Holmberg, The Apologetics Group
Note from the administrator: This is the 4th and final part of this series.

I don’t have the space or even all the wisdom necessary to present an exhaustive game plan; but what follows should get us well on our way. First, we must begin with the great admonition and promise found 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Humble yourself. Reread the opening vignette. It’s easy to “sit in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1) and roll our eyes at other people’s foibles. But how would you have done? (And please feel free to substitute ESPN’s Sportscenter for Friends.) Are you able to explain the difference between justification and sanctification? How would you fair in writing six essays on the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith as outlined in Hebrews 6:1-2? Don’t shrug it off as just theology. This is boilerplate stuff every Christian should know.

In an attempt to trap Him, Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees on the issue of paying taxes to Caesar. The Master asked for a coin and then raised a very profound question: “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matt. 22: 20-21)

Pray and ask God a similar question. Whose likeness and inscription has been pressed into the clay of your heart? The world’s? Or God’s? If the former is even an issue ─ if you see that the stain of popular media has done more to color your world than the Word ─ do what God expects of all who “fall short of the glory.”


Stop lifting up your soul to what is false. (Psalm 24:4) Purpose to set no unclean thing before your eyes; to hate the work of those who fall away. (Psalm 101: 3) Commit Philippians 4:8 to memory and use it as a yardstick to measure everything before you allow it into the sanctuary of your mind, heart and home.

Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Next, purpose to obey the Apostle Paul’s admonition to not take part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them. (Ephesians 5:11) Hate that which is evil but cling to and encourage what is good. (Rom. 12: 9) Cultivate an atmosphere of “reading” and “listening” rather than “watching” in your life and home. Fill them with good books and music. Tame the television, which for many people may mean getting rid of it for a season (see Matthew 5:30). The technology now exists to block certain channels. There are also devices that filter out bad language. Use them. Remove the TV from your child’s bedroom. Have a family movie night. Go online to research the content of a film before seeing it and then “vote” with your pocketbook by only buying tickets for those that meet the standard of Philippians 4:8. If a good movie is produced, go see it, and encourage others to do the same. Buy it when it comes out on DVD. Make sure that your internet access is filtered or that you install software that keeps track of the web sites that are visited. Create an accountability group within your church. Help your teens understand the nature of the battle and the reasons for your standards by watching and discussing a good teaching video on the subject and then absolutely forbid any music that celebrates sin from being played in your home.

These are just a few ideas. The Holy Spirit will no doubt give you more as you purpose to engage the enemy on what may well be the front in the warfare for our families and our nation. There is simply no way to exaggerate the importance of this battle for the hearts and imaginations of our children and our nation’s citizens.

Allow me to close this chapter by briefly recounting two great stories from our past; stories that can not only instruct but also inspire us to persevere in what may look at times like a lost cause.

Did you know that this is not the first time the motion picture industry has debased both itself and this country? Amid the profligacy of the “roaring twenties” and the growing influence of an increasingly nihilistic European film industry, studios began to experiment with everything from nudity to occult themes in the years leading up to the Great Depression. The Church in those days, however, was not willing to simply “swallow and follow.” As a result, millions of people stopped going to the movies. Faced with financial ruin, the studios asked some Christian leaders to step in and help make sure that their films passed muster. And so was born the Roman Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Office.

For over three decades (1933-1966), these offices reviewed almost every screenplay and unfinished film to ensure that Biblical standards of morality were respected. And thus began the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” when, as Dr. Ted Baehr likes to say, “Mr. Smith (went) to Washington, It (was) a Wonderful Life and The Bells of St. Mary’s rang out across the land.”

Now note something very important here. What happened? What brought this Golden Age to an end? Simple ─ the salt lost is savor! Influenced by the cancers of modernism and liberal theology, the National Council of Churches shut down the PFO. And how long did it take for the meat to begin to rot? Well, in 1965 the Oscar for Best Picture went to The Sound of Music. The next year, the one that saw the withdrawal of Christians from Hollywood, A Man for All Seasons ─ a film that virtually teemed with biblical themes ─ won the award. But within just three years (1969) an X-rated excursion into nihilism, despair and homosexuality (Midnight Cowboy) came out on top. And this film was far from being an anomaly. The same period also saw Oscar nods for Bonnie and Clyde (antihero, violence, sex), The Wild Bunch (violence) and Rosemary’s Baby (sex, occult).

As Pogo famously declared: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

A similar lesson – one with a happier ending – can be learned from the testimony of a brave monk who around 400 AD chose martyrdom over compromise with the spirit of popular entertainment. Throughout the previous century-and-a-half, the Roman Empire had begun to embrace the Christian religion it had once persecuted. But as the Church became socially acceptable, many people became members who were either not born again or were not prepared to embrace the disciplines of the Christian life. And so a great deal of compromise began to creep into the Church. By the end of the fourth century, many church-goers thought nothing of attending the gladiatorial games, celebrating the shedding of blood in the same arenas where Christians were once martyred for their faith.

Enter Telemachus (also known as Almachius), an ascetic from the eastern region of the empire. Arriving in Rome, he decided to visit a stadium to see what had so captured the hearts and imaginations of the Roman citizenry. Confronted by the specter of two combatants battling to the death while the blood-drunk crowd roared their approval, Telemachus jumped into arena and sought to stop the contest, chastising the audience for their lust and violation of the Sixth Commandment. The spectators turned on him, surging into the arena and collecting stones as they went. Soon the brave monk laid dead, another blood-washed martyr for the cause of Christ.

The story does not end here, however. When the Emperor Honorius learned of Telemachus’ sacrifice, he hailed him as a hero and a true soldier of the cross. In 404 AD, Honorius issued an imperial decree outlawing the gladiatorial games throughout the empire. The monk’s intercession had carried the day and transformed the culture.

May God raise up from within the ranks of His Church today an army of Telemachuses.

We can be silent no more.

Some related reading sources:

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Neil Postman, Penguin Books, 1986.) This is a wonderful book every thinking Christian should digest. It is also worth noting here a distinction Postman makes in it: “amuse” (a-muse) means literally to stop thinking or reflecting.

W.B. Yeats “Meditations in time of Civil War”

Daniel Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (Vintage; September 1, 1992)

Some Interesting Facts and Figures:

According to numbers crunched by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a New York-based investment bank that specializes in media companies, Americans spent 120 hours a person a year reading consumer books in 1998; by 2003, the number of hours had fallen to 106. By 2006, the projected number of hours we spend reading will be 103. In contrast, television-watching took up 1,551 hours of our time in 1998, and is expected to rise to 1,679 hours two years from now. Internet use is also skyrocketing, from 54 hours in 1998 to a projected 213 hours in 2006.

“Reading at Risk,” a new survey released in July of 2004 by the National Endowment for the Arts using data collected by the Census Bureau, shows that the percentage of Americans who read novels, short stories, plays or poetry — and, in fact, any sort of book — has steadily declined in the past two decades. The drop-off was especially noticeable among young adults, with literary reading among 18-to-24-year-olds dropping from almost 60 percent in 1982 to about 43 percent in 2002.

“The Dutch philosopher-historian Johan Huizinga, in his epochal book Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, discovered that the word “fun” was of recent origin and that o other language had an exact equivalent to the English meaning, leading him to speculate that fun was neither readily understood nor fully accepted until the twentieth century.” (from Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (Neal Gabler, Vintage Books USA; February 29, 2000)

From the Administrator:
Though the content is PG-13, I would recommend the DVD, Hell’s Bells 2 – The Power and Spirit of Popular Music.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, and has been involved in areas of Christian ministry for nearly 30 years. He is a writer, producer, documentarian and Christian cultural apologist, and has produced and directed dozens of documentaries and seminars that have touched thousands of lives around the world.

For more information, go to:

The Enemy In Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts (Pt. 3)

Note from Reformed Faith Administrator: This is part 3 of an article by Eric Holmberg. I will be presenting it in four parts.

Pt. 3…

Allow me to begin with story. In 1936, Spain was ravaged by a great civil war. Emilio Mola, one of the leaders of the Nationalist Army under the command of Francisco Franco, surrounded the capital city of Madrid with columns to the north, south, east and west. When asked from which direction he expected the city to be taken, Mola replied “le quinta columna.” This “fifth column” was made up of the spies and propaganda he had managed to plant within the city of Madrid itself.

Can I tell you that there is a civil war going on for the destiny of this nation and the planet ─ one that this generation will lose if the “fifth column” of worldliness continues to flourish in our hearts? Like it or not, God himself has set enmity between the “seed of the woman” (the Church) and “the seed of the serpent.” (Genesis 3:15) And when left unchecked, the spiritual “entropy” that characterizes the fallen world of man will always move towards great disorder and chaos – towards a place where the “imaginations of men’s hearts will be on evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) And out of these imaginations, the “culture” will inevitably arise.

Now culture is a difficult thing to describe because it involves so many things. Taken from the Latin root “cultus,” it originally meant a system of religious belief and rituals. And while today it is commonly used to describe a lot more than this ─ things like aesthetics, ethics, language, etiquette, etc. ─ at bottom the Latin definition still serves us well. Why? Because each of these other aspects of culture flow from the religious presuppositions that form the majority report of a particular society. To use the phrase made famous by Henry van Til: “culture is religion externalized.”

Another thing we need to understand about culture today is just how powerful and almost omnipresent it has become. By faith and through the revealed Word we understand that it is in God that we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). But from a strictly temporal perspective, modern technology has been able to create a culture of entertainment that could easily cop this verse and use it as a sales slogan for potential advertisers. (I’m reminded here of the famous quote by Bob Pittman, co-founder of MTV: “We don’t shoot for the fourteen-year-olds. We own them!”) As ubiquitous as the air we breathe, digitized information is constantly bombarding us from every side ─ clamoring, cajoling, mesmerizing, titillating, propagandizing ─ threatening and very often succeeding in molding us into its image. (see Romans 12:2: “And don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed…”)

And it is not just the obvious things like violence, blasphemy and pornography that have seduced us. Perhaps even more destructive is something a great Russian writer predicted would happen. Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed that when untethered from the Christian worldview, art would begin by imitating life. But then life would start to imitate art and then would finally draw the very reason for its existence from the arts. Historian Daniel Boorstin sounded a similar alarm when he warned that Americans increasingly live in a world where fantasy is more real than reality. “We risk,” he said, “being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

I call this parallel universe in which our culture has come to live the “Great Substitution.” And the fallout from this substitution is among the most profound challenges facing the Church today.

“I” has taken the place of “We”. One need only consider the Army’s new recruiting motto: An Army of One. What an insane concession to the spirit of the age!

Art ─ which in the Christian tradition was to provide ekstasis; the opportunity to “stand outside ourselves” and gain insight into the wonder of life ─ has been replaced by entertainment (from inter (among); tenere (to hold) ─ something that draws us into ourselves; denying us new perspectives and the opportunity to grow.

The Image has been substituted for the Logos (Word). In the beginning was the Word, which was God and then became flesh and dwelt among us through the Incarnation. (John 1:1&14) It is no accident that we do not know what Jesus looked like or that the Ten Commandments forbid creating images of the invisible God. When it comes to the real business of knowing and worshipping the Trinity, the keys are the Word read and meditated upon, the Word sung (worship), and the Word signified in the sacraments. As images have more and more pushed the written word aside, the logos/logic centers of our minds have grown dull from disuse. The results of this substitution have been disastrous. Even the capacity for Truth (an enterprise that requires logic) has fallen in the post-modern public square. (Isaiah 59:15) And within the Church, the hard work of diligently training our senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:15) has been replaced by mushy sentimentality.

Character has been trumped by celebrity. Why are so many people more likely to spend time meditating on the dating habits of some Hollywood profligate than on the scriptural principles that will help them make sure that their own marriages will succeed?

Fun (a word with a very recent origin) has taken the place of happiness. It is no longer just teens who are willing to jettison the hard work and delayed gratification necessary to enjoy the truly “good life.” More and more adults are willing to sell their divine birthright for a mess of “ready-in-a-minute” porridge.

Sound-bytes have replaced discourse. MTV-style “bumpers” and jump-cuts can now be seen in everything from sports coverage to news broadcasts and children’s programming. We are fast becoming a nation of “watchers” with the attention span of a circus of fleas. What ill-wind blows through the body politic when the average network sound-byte from presidential campaigns dropped from 40 seconds in 1968 to under 7 seconds today?

Covetousness has been substituted for profitable stewardship with contentment. Think about it: millions actually pay extra money to buy name-brand clothing for no other reason than to advertise that they wear name-brand clothing!

Agape love (love reflecting the character of God and rooted in covenant commitment) has been pushed aside by eros ─ an obsession with our own erotic or emotional satisfaction. The late, great prophet to the 20th century, Malcolm Muggeridge perhaps said it best: “The orgasm has replaced the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfillment.”

These substitutions did not “just happen.” They were manufactured with the same satanic genius that gave us Babel’s Tower and Aaron’s calf. The serpent took what were good, God-given desires (we are, after all, called to help build a Holy City whose capstone (Christ) reaches into the throne room of heaven; we are supposed to have a “feast to the Lord”) and ─ like in the Garden of Eden ─ tilted those desires ever so slightly on their axis. Once the center of God’s will is compromised, the trajectory of the culture will move slowly but progressively away from the Sun of Righteousness. As with the proverbial frog in the kettle, the fires of spiritual deception will be turned up gradually so as not to catch our attention. And that’s how we find ourselves today, facing desires that have all but undergone the complete transformation into their satanic substitutes.

I’m here to tell you that the water is boiling! It’s time to crawl out of the acid bath of popular culture and once again be about our Father’s business; discipling nations rather than being discipled by them!

How can we fulfill this call?

(To be continued…)

“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the last part coming soon…

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. Check out his website at

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 2)

Eric Holmberg
Note from Reformed Faith Administrator: This is part 2 of an article by Eric Holmberg. I will be presenting it in several parts…

ATTENTION: WARNING! This post contains “adult content” references that could be considered offensive. However, I present them here unedited since they are, in reality, a direct reflection of the crassness of our present day culture, and Mr. Holmberg has used them as an illustration of this very phenomenon. Please consider yourself warned. If you are easily offended, you should go read something else. I’m serious. However, if you want to actually DO something to change the culture, and don’t really know what is going on out there, then read on… but you are still warned.)

By Eric Holmberg, Founder, The Apologetics Group

We have “evolved” from a time (1939) when Rhett Butler’s use of the word “damn” (Gone With the Wind) was met with a collective gasp ─ to a “dumb and dumber, numb and number” culture where:

A popular comedy network broadcasted an uncensored, animated film that featured almost 500 hard-core obscenities and referred to God as both a “wimp,” a “bitch” and “faggot.” The movie, particularly popular with young people, took in over $52 million at the box office.
The highest-grossing “family movie” of all time (E.T., 1982) had an eleven-year-old star who used a grotesque homosexual reference in talking to his brother.

Two of the most popular teen films of the 90’s went for “laughs” by featuring a character who masturbated into a family desert (American Pie) and one who unwittingly styled her hair with male ejaculate (There’s Something About Mary).

The blockbuster The Silence of the Lambs (1991) managed to make a psychopathic murderer and cannibal one of the surprise “sex symbols” of the year. A decade later, the sequel (Hannibal) depicted this same monster sedating a victim and slowly removing and cooking portions of his brain and then feeding it back to him.

The average young person will have watched 200,000 violent acts ─including 16,000 murders ─ by the time he or she graduates from high school. Almost two-thirds of the scenes in prime-time television include some reference to sex; 28% of these will put the primary emphasis on sex. And when intercourse takes place, it is four to eight times as likely to occur between unmarried people as between a husband and wife.

Pornography is now a $10 billion dollar business, larger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined. It is estimated that 60 percent of all web sites are sexual in nature. Now with just a click of a mouse button (often unwittingly), anyone (including children) can have ready access to hard-core sex acts, bestiality, bondage and domination, sadomasochism (including actual torture and mutilation of women for sexual pleasure), scatological acts (defecating and urinating on men or women for sexual pleasure), and child pornography.

I could easily fill page after page with these types of sobering examples and statistics; examples that become even scarier when we consider that there are now virtually thousands of studies proving beyond any shadow of a doubt that this media programming is accomplishing just that: “programming” an entire generation to think and act in ways that are “earthly, sensuous and demonic.” (James 3:15)

What can be done to reverse this trend?

Implicit in every other chapter in this book is the call for the God’s people to repent. We have seen, for example, humanists reinterpret the Constitution and suppress our religious freedoms. But in large part this has happened because “while the enemy came and sowed tares, men slept.” (Matt. 13:25) Similarly, we can watch as the institution of marriage is attacked by unrighteous laws and our culture’s hell-bent desire to remove every barrier to sexual and emotional freedom ─ and yet also know that the enemy’s progress has come as the Church has “sworn for peace” and embraced the culture of divorce rather than the cross. On and on it goes.

With love in my heart for God’s people and zeal for the purity of His house, I want the Holy Spirit to “contend with us” as we look at the enemy in our midst ─ hearts and minds that know more about the flickering shadows of a world at war with God than they do of the “language of heaven.”

(Pt. 3 coming soon…)
“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the third part soon.
Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out his website at

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 1)

By Eric Holmberg

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Who’s the character in Seinfeld with the funny hair?” A chorus of hands shot up excitedly. “Kramer!” came the almost universal reply. “What time does Friends come on?” Again, there was no hesitation. “Eight!” “Thursday nights.” “NBC,” offered one young lady, nailing the coordinates in both space and time.

“Complete this line from Spiderman: ‘With great power comes….?” “Great responsibility!” over seventy-five voices cried in unison.

“Now can someone tell me the difference between rap and hip-hop? Or emo and goth?” There was a brief silence as the audience cast about for the best spokesman to address the nuances of the question. But after a few initial observations were made, the response again became lively and democratic. Person after person shared either their thoughts on the distinctions or at least illustrated them by identifying their favorite artists in each category.

“OK,” the speaker said. “Let’s now take the advice of Colossians 3:2 and turn our minds from the things of man and consider the kingdom of heaven. Who was the man of God in the Old Testament who had no hair?”


“What hour of the day did Jesus die on the cross?” Emboldened by the narrow range of possible answers, a few hands went up and numbers were offered. But it was obvious that nobody really knew.

“Complete this line from Proverbs 3: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and….”

“…obey Him?” the NBC girl offered hopefully.

“Sorry, although obeying Him is certainly a good idea. OK, someone explain to me the difference between justification and sanctification.”

The silence among the church’s college group was now deafening.

In the last chapter of the book that bears his name, the great reformer Nehemiah addressed an evil that had grown up among the Jewish people. As they had intermarried with neighboring pagan tribes, their children were no longer able to read or speak the language of Scripture. Instead, the tongue of Ashdod (Heb. “destruction”) had won the day. The City of Man was again moving toward the day when it could conquer the newly restored City of God.

How did Nehemiah respond to this great danger?

“And I contended with them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair; and I made them take an oath in the name of God (to stop). Nehemiah 13:25

I can identify with Nehemiah’s passion ─ even if his methods would get me into a world of trouble! (How far we have fallen! Many Christians today would leave the church if their pastor dared to just preach a sermon suggesting that they may need to repent.) I too can no longer be silent as I watch the salt losing its savor, compromised by its conformity to the image (and the images) of this world. And I can no longer stand idly by and watch the “meat” of culture progressively decay, nurturing an army of maggots that spread the disease of perversion, idolatry and violence throughout America and the rest of the world.

I will be silent no more.

Michael Medved’s Hollywood vs. America and the writings of Dr. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission, among others, have done an good job of documenting the blasphemous, relativistic, humanistic, sexually perverse, violent, occultic, and profane proclivities of a culture obsessed ─ in the words of Neil Postman ─ with “amusing itself to death.” One would have to be waking up from a decades-long coma to not know that a walk down the aisle of a local video store or a scan through the internet or the channels on your cable box is to see the words of the poet William B. Yeats ─ no friend of Biblical morality ─ fulfilled:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.

Consider just one “snapshot” of the American psyche. The Superbowl has been called our greatest game, pastime, and ritual ─ a super-sized and super-charged “public square” where advertisers wait in line to pay $75,000.00 a second to wave their product before the eyes of 130 million people in the US and five-times that from around the world. The climax of the 2004 half-time show─where a platinum-selling singer exposed the breast of another “superstar” while singing about getting her naked─ was just one more flashing sign warning us of our culture’s long descent into the abyss of nihilism and amorality.

Five years before, the whole world was subjected to the surreal spectacle of dozens of dancers wearing S&M inspired outfits writhing to the “music” of a band (KISS) that just a few decades before was almost universally condemned for their violent, occultic, and sexually charged lyrics and fantastically debauched lifestyles. Holiday Inn, an all-American hotel chain founded by a Christian, chose as their entry into the sweepstakes of Superbowl advertising a media spot with a transsexual-theme. One of Budweiser’s 2004 ads alluded to bestiality. Two other companies hawked drugs touted to help men with “erectile dysfunction.” And even before the infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” almost a billion people were assaulted with Janet Jackson singing about a man’s “package” (street slang for “sex organ”) and how she was gonna have to ride it tonight; a self-described “bad boy” (with illegitimate children and a penchant for carrying guns and throwing parties where nude women cavort in the pool) bragging that he’s half man, half drugs. Ask the clubs – bad boy, that’s whassup; another rapper grabbing his crotch while asking his dance partner to take off all (her) clothes; and a self-avowed “pimp” and “trailer-trash” porn connoisseur (whose hit album featured such pleasant sounding ditties as F**k That and F**k You Blind) performing a medley extolling the virtues of “crackheads,” “crooked cops,” “hookers,” and pornography.

Could there be more than a little irony in the fact that this took place as roughly the same number of people around the world celebrated the most important feast of Islam: Eid-al-Adha, the day where Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac? Even as our troops watched the Superbowl in Iraq─there to defend “truth, justice and the American way”─we were displaying to the Arab world the ugly side of that way. Like-it-or-not, the conflict in Iraq is seen by the majority of Muslims as a religious war; a struggle between good and evil, Allah and Satan. And there we stood, giving ample evidence that our culture had indeed become demonic.


“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the second part soon.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out his website at

Abortion: An Unexpected Correlation

The Legacy of Abortion
January 22, 2008

Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.

A woman—let’s call her Caroline—was 92 years old. She was dying, in agony, but Caroline’s pain was not physical. It was emotional. Caroline, you see, had been carrying a secret for more than 50 years: As a young woman, she had undergone two abortions, suffered terrible guilt all her life—and now, on her death-bed, afraid that God could not forgive her.

As her palliative-care nurse, Jean Echlin, writes, “At the end of her life she shared with me her agony over her lost babies . . . she felt that she had committed murder.”

Caroline is not alone, as Echlin writes in Perspectives 2007, a publication of the De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research. Echlin also tells the story of a woman named Lydia, who was dying of cancer. Even with the use of a pain pump, which gave her steady doses of morphine, Lydia’s pain did not abate.

“I asked her if her faith or prayer could be of any comfort,” Echlin writes. “Lydia remained silent except for her moaning.” But the next day she confided the truth. “I can’t pray—God won’t listen,” Lydia said. “I killed a precious baby when I was 18 . . .” Lydia’s abortion had taken place more than 40 years ago—and she was still grieving over it.

Caroline and Lydia are but two examples of what the Institute calls an “unexpected correlation” between abortion and pain-relief care. Dying women experience unresolved guilt and psychological pain related to their abortion—guilt and pain that stand in the way of a peaceful death. Their guilt is so great, Echlin says, that it impedes the effectiveness of their pain medication. Only when the abortion issue is resolved—when someone listens to them and assures them of God’s forgiveness—is the pain medication made effective, and the women able to die peacefully.

This is dramatic testimony that abortion is not, as the abortion lobby claims, something women will “get over” in a week or two. It is evidence that we know inherently that we are made in the image of the God who gives life. When we do violence to that image—when we destroy life instead of nurturing it—it has a profound effect on our emotions, our psyche, and our souls.

Today, as we mourn the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and the tens of millions of abortions that have resulted from this dreadful decision, we must recognize that there are likely many women among us who are silently suffering abortion grief decades after their babies’ lives were snuffed out. As the De Veber Institute notes, these women need our compassion, and their trauma should be recognized and acknowledged by their care providers.

As we comfort the dying, we must also help the living. We must make sure young women know the truth: that abortion takes a human life; that there are alternatives to abortion; and that there are people who will help them through a difficult, unplanned pregnancy.

And they must be told that the notion that they will simply “get over” an abortion is a bold-faced lie. The truth is that if they walk into that abortion clinic, they may still be feeling the agony over taking their baby’s life—even on their deathbed a half century later.

Mark Earley is a former State Senator (1988-1998) and Attorney General of Virginia (1998-2001), became president and CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries (PFM) on February 1, 2002.

To view original article and associated reference material go here:

Truth, Love, and Endurance: Dr. King and Christian Activism

From Charles Colson’s commentary posted on Breakpoint.

January 21, 2008

As Americans observe Martin Luther King Day today, I am reminded of the rich Christian tradition of activism in this country. For millions of Christians who have gone before us, activism was considered fruit of the faith. Not only was the civil-rights movement led by evangelical Christians like Dr. King, so too were campaigns for abolition and women’s suffrage heavily influenced by Christians expressing their faith.

But for much of the twentieth century, Christians—especially white evangelicals—shied away from activism. Part of the reason is that from about the 1920s to the 1970s, many evangelical Christians simply withdrew from the public square. Defeats in Prohibition and the discouraging results of the Scopes trial left many evangelicals disheartened. Soon the rich activist tradition was lost or divorced from true faith.

But in the African-American community, Christian principles and hopes prodded the rise of the civil-rights movement. It was not until the ’80s with the rise of the Moral Majority, that activism began to resurface among white evangelicals. Unfortunately, as Tim Stafford notes in his new book, Shaking the System, by then, “The very idea of Christians advocating for public causes created panic among secularists and dreams of utopia (a long-lost Christian America?) among true believers.”

This is why I like Stafford’s book so much: It draws from the rich history of Christian involvement to revive that lost knowledge of what it looks like to be a Christian activist.

True Christian activism, Stafford writes, always begins with the truth. “That means,” Stafford says, that “the true activist is a witness, anxious to pass on truth to others.” This is how the abolition movement began in the United States. About 30 years before the Civil War, the truth that slavery was a sin began to break through the consciousness of more and more Americans.

Soon all activists, however, learn that not everyone can handle truth. That is why a second thing that any Christian should know about engaging the world with a Christian worldview is to expect resistance. When truth collides with the status quo, Christian activists had better know where their ultimate hope lies.

Christians must also have a strategy for shaking the system: from prayer to dialogue, from political involvement to pressure tactics such as boycotts and strikes.

But above all, like Dr. King, the activist must possess courage and an unyielding faith in the God of justice. Injustice does not loosen its grasp easily. We must be prepared for a long haul, drawing on the rich resources of community and that abiding hope and passion for truth. And we must avoid violence: in our rhetoric and our actions. As Martin Luther King reminded those who gathered at his home after it had been bombed, “Don’t get panicky. . . . I want you to love our enemies. Be good to them. This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love.”

So if the life of an activist holds so much discouragement and risk, why get involved at all? Because a Christian understanding of the world compels us to combat injustice and promote truth. That is a thought worth reflecting on, especially on Martin Luther King Day—a man who exhibited those qualities.
Charles Colson is chairman and founder of Breakpoint, the worldview ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

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Defend Yourself Against Christian-Bashing

With the recent “popularity” of books and movies such as Letter To A Christian Nation by Sam Harris and the more recent box office flopbuster The Golden Compass by openly anti-theist author Philip Pullman, and a host of other anti-Christian media, it is no wonder that Christian-bashing is on the rise. It is becoming more and more socially acceptable, and in many cases an almost expected requirement in some circles, to publicly attack not only adherents of the Christian faith, but the object of that faith as well.

In response to this growing trend, many much-needed organizations, such as the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) and Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) have been launched to educate Christians and also defend the rights of Christians to practice their faith and worship God according to their own conscience. Christians need to be educated about their rights. In the United States, the right to freedom of religion is guaranteed under our constitution. Sadly, many Christians do not understand that it IS okay to freely speak out about moral issues in a public forum and that they do not have to leave their faith at the door of their workplace. For more information on this growing phenomenon and these organizations, check out my blogroll. Links for the ACLJ and CADC are there.