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September 1999 Issue

The Southern Baptist Convention passed yet another resolution expressing its disapproval of homosexuality and those who promote it. This resolution specifically expressed strong disapproval of President Clinton's designating June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, and rebuked him for naming James C. Hormel, an openly professed homosexual, as ambassador to Luxembourg. Hormel, heir to the meat fortune, is reported to be a blatant practitioner and generous supporter of the radical homosexual political agenda.

The press has not given the kind of attention to this year's resolution as it has to earlier resolutions. I think it is probably because Southern Baptists have already broken the ice, and made clear our position on homosexuality. Since 1976 we have passed nine different resolutions affirming the biblical message that homosexuality is sinful, a perversion of God's design for humanity, and that efforts for its normalization and public approval are to be resisted by the Christian co...

TV's Attempt to Normalize Homosexuality

The following is excerpted from a July, 1999 newsletter from Youths Against the Promotion of Homosexuality.

It's obvious that the Warner Brothers network is using Dawson's Creek, as well as other shows, to promote homosexuality as a normal, variant of human sexuality, especially to teenagers. Some evidence:

• Some producers openly acknowledge they have an agenda with their gay characters; that is, to make viewers, particularly young ones, more tolerant of the lifestyle. (Honolulu Advertiser, March 4, 1999)

• "I think our feeling is, the more you can present alternative lifestyles as normal and acceptable by characters, the more you break down those barriers." (P.K. Simonds, producer of Fox's Party of Five, The Advocate, April 27, 1999).

• They're young, they're gay, get tuned to it. Through the closet door flung open by Ellen two years ago, a small battalion of young homosexua...

Voices are being raised in our culture that say, 'Back away from the culture war. We've lost it. Just build our separate institutions. Have nothing any more to do with the culture,'" Charles Colson observed.

"This is no time to turn away from the culture around us," countered the founder of Prison Fellowship in addressing the Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference June 14 in Atlanta.

"That would be exactly a sin of despair because it would deny the sovereignty of God," Colson said.

"Those of you on the front line equipping the troops for the great renaissance, the great renewal of the Christian faith that I believe is coming - preach boldly, but always humbled by the awe that a holy God has chosen you to speak for Him and to represent Him to a needy world," Colson counseled.

Twenty-five years ago, he was sentenced to prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. He remembered thinking that his chances for doing anyt...

Following the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., CBS's 60 Minutes interviewed retired Lieutenant Colonel David Grossman, a former professor of psychology at West Point who now teaches a course on the psychology of killing to federal agents and the Green Berets.

On the April 25, 1999 broadcast, Grossman suggested the shootings at Columbine and prior school shootings were facilitated by the proliferation of violent video games which teach quick response and deadly accuracy, and systematically desensitize players to the notion of killing.

According to Grossman, "The average child in America spends countless hundreds of hours practicing and practicing on murder simulators. And when some of them go out and execute it, we should not be surprised. ... (a violent video game) teaches you to associate pleasure with human death and suffering. You're learning to like it. ... (and) it's providing you the motor skills that make you capable of ext...

Alabama Baptists and the Gambling Battle

Now it's up to the people to defeat the lottery," said Joe Bob Mizzell, Christian ethics director for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, of an Oct. 12 referendum on lottery gambling in the state.

The four-part enabling legislation for a state-sponsored lottery, which was passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Don Siegelman the last week of May, can only become law if voters ratify a constitutional amendment to legalize a lottery in the state.

To defeat a state-sponsored lottery, Alabama Baptists are joining forces with other denominations and anti-gambling organizations to provide education, registration, and even transportation for potential "no" voters.

"It's out of the hands of the legislature now," said Mizzell, who is now working overtime to "get the people out to vote."

To increase awareness of the ills of gambling and inform Alabama Baptists on ways they can get involved in the fight, the State Board...

Video Poker Suffers Setbacks in Louisiana and South Carolina

Video poker, a controversial yet common form of gambling in some states, suffered setbacks on two fronts recently.

Nearly 5,000 of Louisiana's 15,000 video poker machines were shut down as a result of a 1996 referendum taking effect, and the South Carolina legislature approved a proposal that would provide voters an opportunity in November to ban the state's 34,000 machines. The actions were reported by The New York Times.

In Louisiana, 4,874 machines in thirty-three parishes were closed down July 1. Voters in those parishes, the equivalent of counties in other states, voted to ban video gambling machines in a referendum that allowed each parish to decide if it wanted to keep them. The state has sixty-four parishes.

South Carolina has more video gambling machines than any other state. An expensive, aggressive campaign to defeat the attempt to prohibit the machines is expected from the video gambling industry. If voters do not ban video poker, new regulations ...

A new form of cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos is both unethical and illegal and should continue to be prohibited by Congress, specialists in ethics, law, medicine, science, and theology say in a recently released statement. Among the 100-plus signers of the document are several affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention's seminaries and ethics agency.

The statement calls for Congress to maintain its ban on federally funded human embryo research and to clarify that the prohibition applies to recently discovered stem-cell research involving the destruction of such embryos. The signers also call for Congress to provide funds for research into other treatments that do not result in destroying human embryos.

Southern Baptists signing the statement were Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist T...

The State of American Marriage

Marriage rates have plummeted to a 40-year low. Couples are having a harder time achieving long-term wedded bliss. Young women are increasingly pessimistic about their chances for successful marriage.

These are a few findings from a new report released in July by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. The State of Our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America, is a benchmark study of the most important national indicators related to marriage. The report gathers together in a single source historical and statistical trend data on marriage over the past four decades. The report shows a substantial long-term weakening of marriage as a lasting couples union, a rite of passage into adulthood, a major stage in the adult life course, and the primary social institution governing childbearing and parenthood.

"The institution of marriage is in serious trouble," said David Popenoe, report co-author and co-director of the National Marria...

Churches all over our Convention are busy this time of year compiling information for their Annual Church Profile (ACP). This is one of the largest, most highly coordinated projects the Convention undertakes each year. It involves every church, association, state convention, and the SBC in the process. The ACP provides a comprehensive picture of what God is doing among Southern Baptists. It may look like just numbers and names, but it's a whole lot more than that.

The ACP is people. It is people who have followed their Lord in baptism. It is people who are studying His Word, singing His praises, working in missions, and growing as His disciples. It is people who are serving Him.

The ACP can be used by everyone involved in the process as a guide to doing what God is leading them to do. Here are some suggestions:

• See where God is working. The ACP shows what God has done. Identify areas that can be built upon as well as areas that need to be built up.

• Pray, informed by ACP information. Informed prayer allows God to speak more directly concerning what He wants us to do. Use the names of leaders fro...

Mike Miller's heart message to churches springs from what he feels is a "dirty little secret" shared by many congregations today: a lack of harmony between the pastor and the church, ranging in intensity from nagging frustration to outright hostility.

Miller, director of the church leadership group at LifeWay Christian Resources, writes in a LifeWay Press volume, Honoring the Ministry, of the biblical principles of honor in an effort to encourage appropriate honor for all the ministers and leaders God has given churches.

To avoid the awkwardness a minister may naturally feel in discussing the topic in his church, Miller has addressed his message to deacons, whom he believes to be the most influential lay leaders in churches.

As a minister, Miller said he has become increasingly alarmed about the relationships among pastors, church staff, lay leaders, and church members.

Today, he said twenty-three ministers and their families are affected by ...

How does a hurried society speak to each other?

They make their chests into billboards, and then enter the flow of human life. They pass on the sidewalks and their chests bear little messages, blaring the chatty credos of their beliefs. There are some deeply serious T-shirts that say, Be a Baptist or be Ashamed! But mostly they bear only the casual doctrines of a bored society: I never wake up grouchy - I always let him sleep. One N.E.A. advocate wore a shirt reading, If you can read this, thank your third grade teacher. On and on they go. One tee read, The new IRS short 1040 form: Line 1, List all income for 1998. Line 2, Send it in. Little children with narrower chests testify, My Grandma thinks my parents are guilty of child-abuse: I agree with Grandma.

There are geographic shirts that tell where people have been. I hiked the canyon! I surfed Waikiki! Acapulco Forever! I wasn't born in Texas but I got there as soon as I could.

...

Everyone has conflicts. During the first conflict with my wife, I didn't see her for a couple of days, and then slowly my left eye began to open. Now my eyes are wide open, and I realize that conflict is inevitable. Even if you marry Mr. Right, his first name will probably be Always.

One couple had been arguing about everything for years. They were tired of living in a perpetual state of conflict. Finally she tipped off her husband about the prayer she was petitioning to God. She said, "I've been praying for God to help us stop all this arguing by taking one of us to heaven. When He answers my prayer, I'm moving in with my sister." Well, I doubt God is going to answer that kind of prayer. God wants us to avoid conflict when the situation isn't worth it. A bulldog can whip a skunk, but it's not worth it. Most of the time, however, ignoring conflict is like ignoring termites. Eventually it will bring the house down.

One way to solve conflict is to avoid a ...

See You at the Pole

Youth are being encouraged to join millions of students around the world for what has been touted as the largest student prayer movement in history, the 10th Annual See You At The Pole - National Day of Student Prayer, Wednesday, September 15, 1999. Students are expected to gather at 7:00 a.m. around their respective school flagpoles to pray for their campus, their country, and the world.

See You at the Pole is a student initiated and student led movement that began in Texas in 1990 with a single church youth group. It grew to more than 3 million by 1998. Youth in all fifty states and at least seventeen countries on five continents participated last year, including six countries in Europe. Reports were also sent in from Ghana, Turkey, Philippines, Malaysia, Guam, Ukraine, and Australia.

Because of the movement's potential impact, many churches have planned a special commissioning service Sunday...