How the Human Heart Hardens-

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death~ Proverbs 14:27

 News commentators call it the “coarsening of society;” some call it the “cheapening of life.” The label one chooses is irrelevant. The real issue is that “it” is going on all around us.

 Arbitrary acts of violence, the euthanizing of the old and sick, sexually active twelve-year-olds, no-fault divorce, pornography, child abuse, human trafficking, and legalized drugs all point to a culture that has lost its moral footing in every measurable sense. I concluded a few years back that I have pretty much seen it all, and there is nothing left in this world that could possibly shock me.

 Then the Planned Parenthood tapes were released.

 The first two videos were objectively speaking, appalling. The videos feature Planned Parenthood doctors casually laughing, joking and sipping wine with someone posing as a fetal tissue buyer. The cheery banter is punctuated with some rather disturbing exchanges concerning abortion techniques and some callous haggling over what ought to be the going rate for aborted body parts.

 The third installment makes the first two videos look like suitable preschool programming. The third video shows a doctor, a technician, and a “fetal tissue buyer” standing over the aborted remains of a child referred to only as “ the 11.6” (eleven weeks and six days into pregnancy). The tech points out all the fetus’ intact parts including a liver, heart and hands to the “fetal tissue buyer”. The video ends when the doctor and tech agree that the clinic should be compensated for each intact body part rather than simply receiving a single payment for each aborted fetus.

 As troubling as they are, the ghoulish practices of Planned Parenthood are simply symptoms of a deeper and much more vexing issue. Human trafficking, child abuse, drug use, pornography, euthanasia, random acts of violence, along with abortion and the profiteering around the abortion industry all stem from one common and widespread cause. Something the Bible refers to as the hardening of the human heart and the searing of the conscience (Ephesians 4:18, 1st Timothy 4:2).

 The human heart is a spiritually delicate and fragile thing. Most folks are born with a natural bent toward revering the Creator and with a measure of empathy towards others. That is not to say that people are born morally perfect, they are not. However, most young children hurt when other people hurt, love God (unless taught otherwise) and desperately want to make God happy. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote that the law of God and the truth of God’s existence are written on the human heart (Romans 2:14-16).

 Hearts become hardened and consciences become seared as we resist and disobey God. The more we violate what we instinctively know to be true, the easier it becomes to descend further into immoral behavior. If the progression continues our priorities become hopelessly confused and eventually evil will seem good and good will appear to be evil (Isaiah 5:20).

 This is where we are at as a culture.

Folks get more wound-up over a dentist from Minnesota killing a lion in Zimbabwe than they do over the deaths of millions of preborn humans. No one is concerned that adolescents are having their sexual attitudes shaped by the vilest forms of pornography imaginable. But everyone gets their knickers in a knot if there is even the slightest hint of sexism coming from some silly article in a women’s magazine.

 Christians cannot stop the slide into moral oblivion in the lives of others. We are not called to police the behavior of non-believers. We are commanded to consider how our actions and attitudes affect all people.

 Christians who view pornography financially support and validate an industry that exploits women and sometimes even children, enslaves millions, and creates a market for prostitution. When Christians divorce because they “just aren’t happy anymore,” we cheapen a sacred ceremony and make it considerably easier for others to do the same. When we mimic the sexual standards of the unsaved we give license to others and increase the odds of compounding our sin of immorality with the sin of abortion. When we snicker at sinful behavior we minimize and mock the sacrifice Christ made for that sin.

 Being a Christian is about more than having our sins forgiven and getting to spend eternity in heaven. Being a Christian is about more than being nice and loving people. Being a Christian is about doing all of life God’s way, all the time. God’s way is rarely easy.

 God calls us to a life of holiness, selflessness, genuine goodness, and social distinctiveness. When all of us who call ourselves Christians choose the narrow path we are called to, then, and only then, will we become the preserving and sanctifying influence our world so obviously needs right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Real Have-Not’s

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them~ Deuteronomy 4:9

 

All hell broke loose in the Charm City this past week.

 Madness and pandemonium erupted after the funeral of twenty-five year old Freddie Gray. Gray died of unexplained injuries sustained while in police custody. The particulars of this case are unsettling and raise serious questions about police practices and potential brutality.

 From a social and spiritual perspective the reaction to Gray’s death is every bit as troubling as the case itself. It appeared that the entire city collectively lost its mind: buildings were burned to the ground, businesses plundered, onlookers attacked for any and no reason. Twenty police officers were injured, six of them seriously.

 These events have had the chattering class chattering around-the-clock. Reporters and pundits have debated the details of the case nearly to death and have theorized endlessly on why the people of Baltimore would react with such tremendous violence. Poverty has been identified as the principal cause for the behavior of the rioters.

 Journalists and social commentators have repeatedly referred to residents of West Baltimore as “have-nots.” Some of these same commentators have used poverty not only as an excuse for bad behavior but as a justification. I do not dispute the fact that many, if not most, residents of West Baltimore are poor and in many respects disadvantaged. That fact is plain and indisputable. I do take issue with the notion that poverty automatically puts people in the category of “have-nots” and that poverty is a viable justification for violence, anarchy and hate.

 The poor have been a part of human society since the dawn of human society. Jesus himself promised that poor people would continue to be a part of human society as along as human society endures (Matthew 26:11). There is nothing fundamentally wrong with being poor, just as there is nothing immoral about being rich. It is how one reacts to the conditions they were born into that determines how that individual turns out.

 Much of how an individual responds to their circumstances depends not on the size of their bank account, but rather on what their parents sowed into them when they were young. Parenting—not tax bracket—is the real dividing line between the haves and the have-nots.

 There is a ridiculous myth that has taken root in Western thought. The crux of the myth says that in order to produce a civilized, respectable, God-fearing and useful human being; one is required to have two good incomes, money in the bank, a four-bedroom house in a highly rated school district and a college degree. Nothing could be further from the truth. Things may be helpful, but ultimately things are just things. Things do not produce god-fearing, decent human beings; good parents do.

 Good parents work hard, at menial jobs if necessary, to support their children financially. Good parents model honesty and virtue don’t cheat the social welfare system. Good parents get married before bearing children and do what it takes to stay happily married afterward.

 Good parents introduce the concepts of discipline and self-control early in life understanding that discipline and limits help ensure that children will become law-abiding citizens later. Good parents teach the truth that right and wrong are fixed standards rather than squishy opinions that adjust to the times and setting.

 Good parents value education enough to insist that children stay in school, pay attention to their teachers and do the homework. Good parents demand that that kids respect authority and discipline kids who are disrespectful towards teachers, police and other authority figures. Good parents teach their kids that human beings are obligated by God and human law to do right even when life is hard and circumstances are trying.

 Just as poverty is not an excuse for bad parenting, poor upbringing is not an excuse for bad behavior. People are only savage, soulless animals ruled by circumstances if they wish to be. We are moral beings capable of making moral choices regardless of resources or upbringing. The events of this past week support the notion that we need a rebirth in this country. A rebirth of good parenting, personal responsibility, common sense, and fear of God. When one has those things, they have everything no matter their tax bracket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Strategies for Dealing with Persecution

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed~ 1st Peter 4:12-13

 Persecution. It’s a twenty-first century problem.

 According to Open Doors International, a non-denominational group that monitors Christian persecution, every month 322 Christians are slain solely for the offense of being Christian. Two hundred and fourteen Christian churches or Christian owned properties are destroyed. And 722 acts of violence (rapes, beatings, expulsions, abductions, forced marriages) are committed against Christians. At least fifty countries are systematically targeting Christians for extermination; in some countries Christianity is on the edge of extinction.

 Even in countries where Christians are not routinely mistreated, attitudes towards Christians are rapidly shifting. These shifts are unsettling.

 Christian speech is openly discouraged and sometimes even suppressed in public arenas. The President of the United States recently called out Christians at a prayer breakfast for “not being loving” and glibly equated recent slayings of Christians by Muslim extremists to exploits committed nearly a thousand years ago during the Crusades.

 Christian symbols are being removed from the public square for fear of offending those of other faiths or no faith.Christians who voice views outside accepted social norms are bullied and ridiculed in public forums and have in some cases lost their livelihoods. Many predict that that Christianity or at least some forms of Christian speech will be criminalized in the near future.

 These developments have left Christians anxious about the future. Many are uncertain about what to do for Christians who are experiencing persecution in other countries. There are at least five things Western Christians can and should be doing in these tough times to prepare for the future and help others experiencing persecution.

 #1 Refuse to Panic

 This is not the time to become unnerved, unsettled or weird. Panic benefits no one. Christians have been persecuted in the past and we will be persecuted in the future (1st Thessalonians 3:2-4). This is a time to put our trust in God and put every effort into bolstering our faith through deeper prayer, study, service and friendships with other Christians.

 #2 Commit Already

 Many American Christians have a rather feeble relationship with Jesus. The typical self-identified “committed Christian” attends church an average of 1.5 times per month, does not read or study the Bible regularly, pray, follow Christian teachings, or contribute to Christian causes. None of these behaviors are prerequisites for salvation, but they do reveal commitment level. If your relationship with Jesus looks more like a casual hook-up than a committed relationship, today is the day to get off the fence and start taking your faith seriously.

  #3 Live a Consistent Life

 Everyone agrees that Christians should treat non-Christians with kindness. However, unkindness is not the only only misstep that hurts the cause of Christ. Lifestyle choices inconsistent with biblical teaching, sexual atheism, hypocrisy, publicly bashing Churches and tearing down fellow Christians create just as many issues as unkindness or lack of love. Christians who consistently live inconsistent lives make it easier for unbelievers to rationalize the mocking and mistreatment of Christians.

 #4 Get Out There

 This is not the time for Christians to retreat into their own little worlds. Locate a reliable news outlet and read up on the issues. Find out who your legislators are and contact them regarding issues that concern you, especially issues regarding religious liberty and oppression of Christians around the world. If the legislators in your state don’t care about these issues, work to elect new ones.

 #5 Pray

 Prayer is a neglected discipline. Christians should pray more often, and rethink the substance of our prayers. Most prayers tend to be focused on physical and financial needs rather than the spiritual. God cares deeply about our physical needs but He is truly moved when we ask Him for wisdom, spiritual understanding, and hearts inclined toward repentance. Prayer is the most powerful and consequential thing we can do for persecuted Christians around the world. They need us to pray that they will have peace in the midst of their trials, the strength to endure the pressure, and relief from their tormenters. They pray for us; the least we can do is to return the favor.

 Jesus never promised that life would be easy. Nor did He promise that everyone would like us or grasp our motivations and message. This period of history is shaping up to be one of those times when Christians are misunderstood and sometimes even hated. This is not the time for retreat or compromise. This is a time to deepen our commitment to our God and trust Him with every thing we’ve got.

 

What the Church Must Do to Win the War Against Muslim Extremists

What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul~ Deuteronomy 10:12

 I am a competitive person. I am so competitive, in fact, that I inevitably feel like a dirty fraud anytime I am required by circumstance or social custom to repeat the ridiculous axiom we have all heard at least a thousand times:

 It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game that really counts.

 It’s not that I have no regard for the concept of sportsmanship. I do. It’s just that the above-mentioned axiom is not true all or even most of the time. In some instances how well you play is irrelevant if you don’t actually win the game.

 Whether or not one wins or loses a game of baseball or checkers is irrelevant in the grand scheme of history. However, repeatedly being bested by a two-year-old child in a battle of wills could have long-term, possibly even eternal consequences.

 Christianity is locked in a battle with radical Islam for the hearts, minds and souls of the young and searching. Radical Muslims are actively engaged in powerful a recruitment campaign aimed at converting young, aimless Westerners to their worldview.

 Terrorists are peddling a skillfully crafted bill of goods. They promise purpose, significance and tight-knit communities. Islam offers fixed standards of morality to guide people through life in a complex and ever-changing world.

 It’s becoming clear that in some cases the hucksters are playing the game better than we are. Young people with noble intentions are buying into a belief system that will end in earthly bondage and eternal judgment.

 Despite expending untold millions on youth Pastors, coffee bars and programs designed to attract and keep young people, Christian Churches are losing nearly eighty percent of their young adults following graduation. Meanwhile, thousands of Europeans, Canadians and Americans are forsaking Western freedoms for the cause of Islam.

 In a misguided attempt to reach the un-churched, Christians have watered down the very truths that people are starving to hear and Islam has slipped into the void created by our foolish neglect of truth. It’s not too late to turn the tide, but there are three key things we must stop doing if we want to win this game.

 Stop acting friendly and strive to be inclusive

 Christian churches have worked tirelessly in recent years to create welcoming and friendly environments. Leaders have spent countless hours training volunteers to be approachable and friendly. Friendliness is great but it’s community that the world is crying out for. Community is created when Church members go beyond outward friendliness and invite people to become a part of their day-to-day lives. Community and the accountability that comes with it is the key to life-changing discipleship. Authentic community can only occur when folks know and trust one another well enough to comfort in times of trouble and correct wrong behavior when necessary.

 Stop peddling salvation and start teaching people to obey Jesus

 Forgiveness has become the end game of the Christian experience. Many have converted to Christianity without ever learning the crucial discipline of following Jesus. Forgiveness of sin is a benefit of salvation but not be the end goal. Following Jesus requires death to selfishness and a great deal of effort. Self-sacrifice and effort result in lasting change and a deep sense of purpose. Change and purpose occur because Jesus calls us to live beyond ourselves. He takes us to new heights of sacrifice when we heed that call. Youth are crying out for a sense of purpose and yearning for a cause worth sacrificing for. We can give it to them by teaching and modeling the hard work of following Jesus.

Stop treating conviction and judgment as if they are the same thing

 Judgment and conviction sometimes look alike, but they are entirely different. Judgment declares one guilty and deserving of hell. The severe nature of judgment can leave people feeling hopeless and condemned. God is the only one who can rightly judge. Conversely, conviction is a tool that God uses to drive sinful humans towards repentance. Conviction is the sense of guilt that all people feel when they transgress God’s standards of right and wrong. The Church has become so fearful of seeming judgmental that we have dropped discussion of anything that might possibly cause conviction. Our trepidation has left no room for the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of people.

 For decades now Western Christians have attempted to attract converts by dropping standards and watering down the gospel. It’s becoming increasingly clear that our efforts have failed. It’s time for Christians to get back in the game. The only way to this is to form communities that foster accountability, teach people to follow Jesus (rather than “get saved”) and by communicating truth in a way that leads to conviction rather than complacency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Truths the Christian Community Can Learn From ISIS

Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you~ Amos 5:14

 In the span of a single year the ISIS terrorist group has gone from being a practically unknown group of upstarts to the most infamous and troubling terrorist group on Earth. The stories simultaneously nauseate and captivate as they invent new and perverse ways to do evil (Romans 1:29-31).

 Decapitations, a man burned alive, little boys executed for watching soccer games, a young American woman murdered for assisting strangers. Coptic Christians brutally slain for refusing to convert to Islam. Gay men thrown off buildings, churches burned to the ground, homes ransacked. Christians, young and old, male and female, kidnapped and held prisoner, threatened with death for refusing to convert.

 We ignore this phenomenon at our own peril. We will never defeat something we don’t understand, and these people are successfully reaching folks with their message—especially the young, and not just the young and ignorant: Many ISIS converts are surprisingly well-educated men and women.

 The success of ISIS’ brazen recruitment programs demand the sober consideration of every God-fearing human being on Earth. According to CNN, CIA spokespersons report that thousands of American, French, Canadian and English men have linked with ISIS and are now fighting in Syria. Young women from England, France and America have left comfortable homes and forsaken Western freedoms to become brides and baby makers for Muslim extremists seeking to construct a society built on their brutal and archaic way of viewing the world.

 These realities beg some very important questions: How is a brutal group of thugs intent upon stripping the human race of every imaginable freedom making disciples out of young Westerners who ought to be repulsed by these people? Why would anyone choose to become a part of this community? What are they doing right? How do we stop them?

 These questions must be answered quickly. These groups are spreading like a pernicious form of cancer. Like it or not these terrorist groups understand some truths regarding the human condition that we have foolishly overlooked. It pains me to say this, but I believe there are some things Christians can learn from ISIS.

 Terrorists groups like ISIS understand that humans need a cause greater than themselves to live for. Human existence becomes bleak and meaningless when life becomes all about making money, acquiring stuff and personal gratification.

 Terrorist groups exploit the universal human longing for purpose and significance in life with their own twisted vision of purpose. Terrorists target young men and women who have just enough spiritual awareness to be open to a cause, any cause. They give the men and women who searching for significance and purpose something tangible to live for, sacrifice for, and fight for.

 Furthermore, terrorists exploit the human longing for fixed standards of right and wrong. In an effort to reach those yearning for moral guidance and leadership, they bombard their followers with instruction concerning morality, social interaction between the sexes, modesty, parenting, family relationships and business dealings. They have recently released a guide instructing Islamic women on how to become “the ultimate wives of Jihad.”

 Terrorists also understand the human longing for community. They entice young people with the message that they can become part of a group of like-minded individuals who will care for one another when life gets tough. Islamic communities tend to be tight-knit and very close; this is a big draw for young people raised in fractured nuclear families and with non-existent extended families.

 Sadly, terrorists are selling the lost and searching a flim-flam job. The naïve are being lured with a message of death cleverly disguised as life and sacrifice. Their spiritual longings will be wasted. They will face an eternity of judgment for their foolish gullibility.

 Christians have the real deal to offer the world, but we have packaged it all wrong. The fear of coming off as judgmental has overruled truth and we have failed to present a complete picture of saving faith. We have done so to our everlasting shame and to the peril of millions who are longing for a narrow path and a cause worth living and dying for.

 We have a cause that is worth living and dying for: Jesus. Jesus calls his people to a narrow path of holiness, righteousness and sacrificial love (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus calls His people to create caring communities where we admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and are patient with everyone (1st Thessalonians 5:14). Jesus calls His people to the greatest cause of all: life and sacrifice for Him.

 

 

 

A Response to the Guy Who Called My Views on Marriage Naive

 You do well when you obey the Holy Writings which say, “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself”~ James 2:8 NLV  

Dear Guy who called my views on marriage naïve (AKA Tim),

 Contrary to how things probably look, I really am not a jerk who has been ignoring you or your comment. It appeared in my inbox late Monday night and, frankly, it was long and I was tired, too tired to read it thoroughly, let alone formulate a lucid response. When I did get around to giving your comment a thorough reading, it didn’t take me long to realize your feelings on the subject of marriage merited more of a forum than a hasty reply would allow.

So here goes.

 Your comment was polite and articulate (a rare thing in the blogosphere). However, it did seem to indicate that you’ve had some unfortunate personal experiences with marriage and for that I am truly sorry. It is not my intention to underplay the power of your personal experience or the experiences of millions of people who have faced the pain of divorce. I have never experienced the trauma of divorce. However, I do have friends and family members who have, and even from the outside looking in, it’s clear that divorce sucks. Everything humanly possible should be done to prevent it.

 All that being said, it’s really not fair to blame marriage when marriages end. Contrary to popular belief, marriage is not an entity or a living being or even an institution. Marriage is a contract—a legal, moral and spiritual contract—and every contract becomes over time a situation involving people. A contract cannot be blamed for the conduct of the parties who signed on to the terms of the deal.  

Responsibility for the death of a relationship has to lie squarely at the feet of the people in the relationship. Admittedly, fault is seldom equally distributed. One party quite often carries the lion’s share of the blame for the demise of the relationship. Marriages struggle and end for many reasons, but at the root of all lay almost always one or two issues.

 The roots of divorce frequently go back to unrealistic expectations long before the “I do’s.” The romantic notion of soul mates has set up millions of couples for failure. The myth of the “right one” is a silly fairytale. No matter how well matched and compatible a couple is in the beginning, no marriage can survive gross mismanagement of the relationship.

 Furthermore, marriage will not make an unhappy person happy, nor will marriage solve underlying problems or character issues in the lives of the people getting married. Weddings are not magic bullets we can shoot at loneliness, laziness, poor self-image, meanness, sloppy relationship skills or general discontent. Those problems must be dealt with long before the wedding day or the relationship will be doomed.

 Selfishness is a cancer that kills many marriages. Self-centeredness shows up in big and little ways in marriage. Rudeness, cheating, overspending, laziness, stinginess, dishonesty, withholding sex and lack of attention to the likes and dislikes of the other person all reveal a heart that is unwilling to work on the relationship. Perhaps self-centeredness is epitomized most clearly in a refusal to apologize, acknowledge bad behavior and take responsibility for problems in the relationship.  

Unhealthy patterns of communication are another relationship killer. Giving the silent treatment, name-calling, screaming, criticizing and relentlessly bringing up past misdeeds is a sure-fire way to effectively poison a marriage.  

You called my views on marriage naïve because I listed the established benefits of a stable, happy marriage. The benefits of matrimony include good physical and mental health, financial security, well-adjusted children and a good sex life. It is not naïve to believe in something that has been proven. Naiveté is found in believing that there is somehow a superior, less painful alternative to marriage.  

The alternatives to marriage are limited: cohabitation, serial monogamy and singleness. Singleness is not a realistic alternative for most of us, leaving cohabitation and serial monogamy. Cohabitation and serial monogamy offer none of the benefits to individuals, children and society that marriage does and yet the end of those relationships are every bit as psychologically painful and financially costly as divorce.

 Marriage is not perfect, Tim, because people are not perfect. The solution to the problems in marriages is not to look for a viable alternative to marriage. Nor is the answer to avoid marriage altogether; the world would be a dull and gloomy place indeed without the security and camaraderie of enduring relationships. The answer to the marriage quandary is to educate people, before and after they say “I do,” on how to have the kind of relationships everyone wants to have. The real solution is to gently come alongside those who are struggling in their relationships and show them a better, less painful alternative to divorce.            

The Little Girl

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live~ Deuteronomy 30:19

 Recently Pope Francis shed his image as the hip, happening Pope when he came out with a bold, rabble-rousing declaration condemning recreational drug legalization. Pope Francis could not have been more unequivocal in his condemnation of drug legalization. His message stated in part…

 “The problem of drug use is not solved with more drugs.”

 He went on to clarify…

 “Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem.”

 The blogosphere went wild with disapproval over the Pope’s archaic notions. The haters were out in full force, overjoyed to have an occasion to bash the Pope, organized religion, and anyone ridiculous enough to believe in God. There were some weary attempts at defending the use of marijuana made by pointing out that alcohol is legal and widely used (I, for one fail to see how one is connected to the other).

 Then there were the gloomy souls who seemed sincerely baffled that a Christian leader who appears to be as left-leaning and cool as Pope Francis could be opposed to recreational drug use. But by far the most common sentiment asserted by those who hope to legalize drugs was the tired line that has rapidly become the rallying cry of a civilization that is rotting from within:

 “People should be able to do whatever they want with their own bodies!”

 As I read page after page of comments extolling the virtues of personal sovereignty and unlimited freedom, I couldn’t help but think of the little girl who lives upstairs in the room that used to be my office.

 She’s a precious little thing.

 She has long, dark blonde hair, wonderfully expressive hazel eyes, and a mischievous smile. She adores animals and is currently campaigning hard for a hamster that she intends to name Sir Edward Fluff Ball. She loves to swim in our pool and likes craft projects. Her favorite color changes almost daily.

 She is the daughter of a relative, the offspring of two people who sincerely believed that they had the right to do whatever they wanted with their own bodies. A few years ago her Mother died from choices she made with her own body. 

 Moving in with us was tough on her in the beginning, but she is becoming a bit more comfortable in our home all the time. Although they are much older, she enjoys hanging out with our kids. She and my husband share a love of the silly and absurd that is bringing them together. She and I have connected over decorating her room and a mutual love of stories. Her growing bond with our family does not keep her from crying sometimes because she misses her Mom and yearns to live with her Dad.

 She is a bright and imaginative girl.

She reads above grade level and performs well in school. Unfortunately, she struggles more than most kids her age with impulse-control issues, remembering things and telling time. On nights when sleep evades me I worry that her problems are more than childish immaturity. My gut tells me her issues may very well be the outcome of choices her Mother made with her own body while she was pregnant.

 Her story is far from unique.

There are millions of little girls and boys just like her. Children who are the human fallout of arrogant and foolish choices their parents have made with their own bodies. Children who are plagued by nightmares, children who struggle to connect with their peers, children who long for an ordinary life with their biological parents.

Children who cry themselves to sleep at night.

 The vast majority of those children do not have the advantages she has. Most are not as naturally bright as she is. Nor do they have extended families that are able and willing to pick up the slack for parents who are busy making choices that prevent them from parenting their children properly.

 Those children are fated to become cogs in the wheel of an apathetic, overburdened public system. A system that lacks the human element necessary to help children mature to adulthood in a healthy way.

A system we all pay for.

 Sadly, societies reap what they sow as surely as individuals do. I fear the harvest we will reap in the coming years with these kids, as we loudly and arrogantly demand the right to do whatever we want with our own bodies.

 In an ideal world, we would not need laws to govern what individuals can and can’t do with their own bodies. In an ideal world, people would make unselfish, rational choices with their bodies. In an ideal world all people would agree that an individual’s right to make choices should end at the place where those choices begin to negatively affect others. In an ideal world, there would not be any children like the little girl who lives upstairs in the room that used to be my office.