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Texas governor seeks to ban “pornographic” books in public school libraries

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Texas governor seeks to ban "pornographic" books in public school libraries
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Gov. Greg Abbott is directing Texas education officials to investigate whether pornography is available in the state’s public schools and to notify law enforcement if such material is found to be accessible. In a letter to Education Commissioner Mike Morath, he noted, “The presence of pornography in schools is not only inappropriate, but it is also against the law.”

In previous correspondence, the governor cited two books removed from libraries in the cities of Keller and Leander. According to the Dallas Morning News, “Keller removed Gender Queer: a Memoir by Maia Kobabe after complaints of the book’s drawings and Leander removed In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, which describes sexual acts.”

Machado wrote a New York Times editorial defending her work. She describes her book as a memoir of “domestic violence or verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse in queer relationships.” In her mind, the book helps prepare students to “understand the world they’ll encounter, or even the lives they’re already living.” She dismisses allegations that her depiction of lesbian relationships is “grooming” students by normalizing such relationships.

However, normalizing unbiblical sexual activity has been an intentional and strategic initiative by LGBTQ advocates for decades. It gained early momentum through television shows such as Will & Grace and is now so ubiquitous as to be “normal” and thus successful.

For instance, 30 percent of American millennials now identify as LGBTQ, according to a recent study by George Barna. He notes that social and news media coverage makes it “safe and cool” for young Americans to identify in this way whether or not it represents their actual sexual orientation.

Elementary school takes students to a gay bar

I could fill the next twenty Daily Articles with examples of normalizing unbiblical morality, such as the elementary school that recently took students to a gay bar and Cecily Strong’s clown skit on Saturday Night Live advocating for abortion after describing hers.

However, my focus today is on how effective such normalization has been not just in the culture but also in the church.

For example, Barna’s survey found that just under 30 percent of Christian millennials also say they identify as LGBTQ. In addition, according to the Washington Post, 47 percent of younger evangelical Christians (born after 1964) now favor gay marriage. This is up from 16 percent in 2006 and compares with 26 percent of older evangelicals (born between 1928 and 1964), a figure which is up from 10 percent in 2006.

Such Christians are simply cohering with the norms of our day: 85 percent of unaffiliated Americans endorse same-sex marriage, as do 67 percent of Catholics, 68 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 44 percent of Black Protestants.

The two stages of judgment

We focused earlier this week on the biblical facts that a holy God must judge sin and that a loving Father must do all he can to lead his children from that which harms them to that which is best for them. Hosea 5 depicts the two ways our Lord judges sin for the sake of his character and our future.

The first stage is permissive. When his people persist in their sin but “go to seek the Lᴏʀᴅ,” he warns: “They will not find him; he has withdrawn from them” (v. 6). We find this stage at work in Romans 1, where God responded to those who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie” when he “gave them up to dishonorable passions” (vv. 25–26). The text adds: “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28).

The second stage is active: “I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue” (Hosea 5:14). These warnings came to pass when Ephraim (Israel) was exiled by Assyria in 722 BC and Judah by Babylon in 586 BC.

God’s purpose in such punishment, however, was redemptive: “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me” (v. 15).

Does the first stage describe America today? If we do not repent and seek our holy God, will the second?

Some uncomfortable questions

How should you and I respond?

As I noted yesterday, God’s people are to be watchmen on the wall, warning those inside the city of impending danger (Ezekiel 3:17–21). We are the body of Christ, the visible manifestation of his continuing ministry in our world (1 Corinthians 12:27).

However, a speaker cannot expect her audience to believe a message she does not model. An obese fitness instructor or a tone-deaf singing coach will struggle to find employment.

Has the normalization of sin found you? Let me ask you some uncomfortable questions that I must answer for myself as well:

  • Do you wince when a movie makes extramarital sex an expected part of its plot or when adultery is a punch line on a TV show?
  • Do you grieve for those who champion and even joke about abortion or march in Pride parades?
  • If your children or grandchildren were watching the shows or movies you watch, would you still watch them?
  • Are you truly burdened for the spiritual condition of your neighbors, colleagues, and unsaved family members?

“An arm that always fights for us”

Br. Luke Ditewig of the Society of St. John the Evangelist writes: “Kingdom life is one of participation. To not act is just as bad as to overtly do something wrong. What we do or don’t do matters. God gives gifts—we are to receive and use them” (my emphasis).

The good news is that as we work, God works. If we will pray for boldness to stand courageously and compassionately for biblical morality, our Lord will always answer our prayers (cf. Acts 4:29–31). If we will ask the Spirit to help us use our influence to lead others to truth and transformation in Christ, he will empower and employ us in ways we may not fully understand on this side of eternity (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Charles Spurgeon noted, “There beats a heart in heaven that always loves us, a tongue that always pleads for us, an arm that always fights for us.”

Scottish minister John Baillie prayed: “Lord, do not let me rest content with an ideal of humanity that is less than what was shown to us in Jesus. Give me the mind of Christ. May I not rest until I am like him in all his fullness.”

Is this your prayer today?